Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mom convicted for homeschooling not backing down



In its defense of an Ohio mother convicted over homeschooling, the Home School Legal Defense Association is charging a state “bureaucracy gone awry” is responsible for the hell she suffered.

Last September a common pleas judge in Warren County, Ohio, imposed a guilty verdict on Valerie Bradley for being “criminally reckless” in her son’s education, according to Jim Mason, vice president of litigation for the world’s premiere homeschooling advocates.

She was convicted even as a state official praised her for her success, evidenced by her son’s high academic achievement.

But the fight really is over the state’s “red tape,” HSLDA contends, as state officials penalized the mother for missing a non-existent deadline.

Mason explains: “We intend to show that the real harm in this case is being done by state officials who are misapplying the law and punishing a parent who only wants what is best for her child.”

He said HSLDA “is asking for the chance to demonstrate how state officials bungled Mrs. Bradley’s case in three fundamental areas: homeschool law, the procedure for dealing with truancy and the determination of when a parent is reckless.”

See what American education has become, in “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.”

Mason said the initial problem was that prosecutors faulted Bradley for failing to submit a student assessment by Aug. 1.

But he said that “deadline” is “completely arbitrary.”

“The homeschool statute mentions no date by which such assessments must be completed. And public schools did not even begin classes until late August,” he said.

Regarding “truancy,” he said prosecution “is reserved for recalcitrant parents who repeatedly refuse to address the educational needs of their children.”

“This certainly was not the case with Mrs. Bradley. When she learned that officials were investigating why her son was not attending public school, Mrs. Bradley acted immediately. She sent her notice of intent on September 28, scheduled an assessment for her son, and telephoned local school officials to update them on her progress. She obtained a letter of excuse by October 21. In other words, Mrs. Bradley acted precisely as the legislature intended parents should act when questioned about truancy: promptly and decisively. That should have been the end of the matter.”

And regarding the “reckless” accusation?

“There is no evidence,” he said.

The case developed after David and Valerie Bradley began homeschooling their son in January 2015. He had a “different learning style, which made it difficult for him to focus in the classroom,” they decided.

The parents told school officials and got an excuse for the rest of that year. But then, in the summer, they received a form letter requesting a notice of intent and an assessment by Aug. 1.

“A short time later, Mrs. Bradley spoke with a school employee who told her, correctly, that there is no deadline for the student assessment. By late October, the Bradleys had filed their notice of intent but were still arranging to have their son tested to meet the assessment requirement. It was then that the state filed a criminal complaint against Mrs. Bradley, alleging that the delay in filing her homeschool paperwork had contributed to the delinquency of her child,” Mason said.

The charge carries the potential of a jail term.

“Mrs. Bradley was especially shocked by what these sort of charges imply – that she had harmed her son by neglecting his education,” Mason reported. “As she testified in court, her son’s home education was ‘the best thing that ever happened to him.’ She said he was ‘doing better than when he was in public school,’ and that his academic performance was ‘exceptional.'”

Test results supported her claim, revealing he was at the 97th percentile, and “even the magistrate who convicted Mrs. Bradley applauded her for ‘being so successful.'”

In the appeal, HSLDA said it intends “to show that the real harm in this case is being done by state officials who are misapplying the law and punishing a parent who only wants what is best for her child.”

WND reported in 2016 several cases in Ohio in which authorities pressed charges against homeschooling parents, mainly because they forgot to file paperwork or some other infraction.

In another case, a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor was dismissed against a family that was not identified. In 2014, their first year to homeschool, the family worked under the supervision of a private school. When they decided to move to an independent status for 2015-2016, they were unaware a notice of intent was required.

See what American education has become, in “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.”

So the local district counted the children as “absent.”

After a month, a truant officer visited the family, letting them know for the first time of the problem. He gave them an ultimatum: Prove you are homeschooling or appear in court.

“The next day, the homeschooling mother brought proof of her homeschool to the officer. But despite what the officer had told the family, the school district filed criminal charges against the family that same day, accusing them of ‘contributing to the delinquency of a minor’ – a crime that is punishable in Ohio with up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail,” HSLDA said.

HSLDA then raised the question of whether the prosecutor would be able to prove that the family “recklessly” contributed to truancy.

“‘Recklessly’ means that she acted with ‘heedless indifference to the consequences’ and ‘disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk’ to her children,” HSLDA said. “That is a hard legal standard to meet, especially when the only allegation is that someone failed to file a piece of paper.”

HSLDA was in the process of requesting that the judge dismiss the case when the prosecutor submitted the same request, which then was granted.

Another case also was dismissed eventually.

Peter K. Kamakawiwoole Jr., a staff attorney for HSLDA, told WND at the time he had seen such cases before.

“I wish I could say that this incident is an isolated occurrence, but unfortunately cases like this tend to recur every few years in Ohio: Families submit a document late, and rather than the school district following up with the family after a few absences are accrued, the district waits until many absences are accrued,” he said. “When these families finally were contacted by school officials, they provided the missing paperwork, and the school filed criminal charges against them.”



Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Be Far More Harmful Than Previously Thought


By Dr. Mercola

According to a recent report1 by the U.S. surgeon general, substance abuse is skyrocketing in the U.S., and that includes alcohol. In fact, substance abuse in general has eclipsed cancer in terms of prevalence.

According to this report, more than 66 million — nearly 25 percent of the total adolescent and adult population — reported binge drinking at some point in 2015. In terms of healthcare costs, alcohol abuse is racking up a price tag of $249 billion a year.

Drinking has become so common you might not give it much thought. Researchers have even stated that moderate alcohol consumption may have certain health benefits, which may serve as a comforting justification for some.

However, there's still plenty of controversy on this issue, and I would not use it to justify chronic drinking, regardless of the amount. As demonstrated in the BBC investigation above, drinking tends to do far more harm than good, even if you're within guidelines for "moderate" alcohol consumption.

Do Drinking Patterns Make a Difference?

The BBC segment above investigates the differences between moderate drinking and binge drinking, using identical twin brothers as guinea pigs. They each drink 21 units of alcohol over differing time scales — one consumes them all in one night while the other has three drinks per day over the course of a week.

Twenty-one units amounts to three-quarters of a bottle of whiskey, two bottles of wine, or 10.5 pints of beer. The test continues for a month. Medical tests before and after assesses the physical effects and potential damage.

Overall, the tests reveal that alcohol consumption is quite detrimental in general, no matter how it's consumed. The doctor was actually quite surprised at how bad moderate drinking was, considering it's within the U.K. guidelines for alcohol consumption.

Factors That Influence How You're Affected by Alcohol

The effect of alcohol on your body depends on a number of factors, including your gender, weight and genetic makeup. The smaller you are, the more concentrated your blood alcohol level will be compared to a larger person drinking the same amount.

Women, who tend to have more body fat than men, will also tend to be more affected by alcohol, as alcohol is soluble in fat. This is why drinking guidelines are lower for women.

Genes also play a significant role in how your body processes alcohol, which subsequently determines how likely you are to suffer a hangover as well. Enzymes that break down alcohol are determined by genes. If you have slow-metabolizing enzymes, you're more likely to get a hangover when you drink.

In essence, the hangover is your body's way of telling you it's having a hard time metabolizing the alcohol and is struggling with elevated toxicity. Continuing to drink despite such physical objections raises your risk of liver disease.

That said, if your genetic profile predisposes you to not suffer hangovers, that does NOT mean you can drink without physiological repercussions.

The breakdown products of alcohol are what cause the most biological damage, and those byproducts are produced even when your body metabolizes alcohol quick enough to avoid a buildup of toxic byproducts (which causes the hangover).

Conventional Drinking Guidelines

In the U.S., the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines2 suggest women consume no more than one drink per day (equivalent to no more than 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol, 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine). Men have a two-drinks-per-day allotment.

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking3 as consuming five or more drinks within two hours for men, and four or more drinks in two hours for women. In the U.K. bingeing is defined as six units for women (equivalent to two glasses of wine) and eight units for men.

How Alcohol Ruins Your Health

Acutely, alcohol depresses your central nervous system, which slows down the communication between your brain cells. Your limbic system, which controls emotions, is also affected. This is why alcohol consumption lowers your inhibitions.

Your prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with reasoning and judgment, also slows in response to alcohol, leading to more impulsive behavior and poor judgment.

At higher doses, your cerebellum, which plays a role in muscle activity, will also be impacted, leading to dizziness and loss of balance. Over time — even over as short a period as one month — alcohol:4,5,6

Increases liver stiffness, which increases your risk of liver cirrhosis. In the film, after one month, the liver stiffness of the binge-drinking brother was increased from 3.9 to 4.9 — a 25 percent increase in liver inflammation that leads to cirrhosis.

The moderate-drinking brother fared nearly as badly. His liver stiffness increased from 3.9 to 4.8, so spreading the drinks out did not make any significant difference in terms of the liver damage caused by 21 units of alcohol per week.

Diminishes the formation of memories due to ethanol buildup in the brain. This is why you may not remember what you did while you were drunk. Alcohol also causes your hippocampus to shrink, which affects memory and learning.

Promotes systemic inflammation. The two brothers both had significant increases in five different inflammatory markers, although binge drinking caused a more dramatic rise.

Studies have shown even a single binge causes a dramatic rise in inflammation. In other words, your body reacts to alcohol in the same way as it reacts to injury or infection.

Increases stress on your heart, raising your risk for cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, high blood pressure and stroke.

Blood alcohol levels spike two to three hours AFTER your last drink, which means it may occur in the middle of the night during sleep. This raises your risk of accidental death due to choking on your own vomit and/or suffering cardiac failure or stroke while sleeping.

Significantly increases endotoxin levels. In other words, alcohol causes gut damage allowing bacteria to escape from your gut into your blood stream.

The film showed that bingeing caused significantly worse damage, suggesting one week between binges is nowhere near enough to heal the gut damage caused by high amounts of alcohol. That said, regular consumption also led to elevated endotoxin levels, suggesting 21 units of alcohol per week is too much, and "sensible" drinking limits likely need to be much lower. How low is still unclear.

These are just a handful of the physical effects of alcohol. In reality, alcohol affects every part of your body, as shown in this Healthline infographic.7 In terms of chronic disease, studies have linked excessive alcohol consumption with an increased risk for poor immune function (which raises your risk for most diseases), pancreatitis and cancer.


>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Source: Healthline June 30, 2014

Cancer Risk Rises With Alcohol Consumption

One recent study found alcohol was routinely linked to cancers in the rectum, liver, colon, esophagus, oropharynx, larynx and, in women, the breast.8 Overall, it found that alcohol is a causative factor in nearly 6 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide. The research did not identify the biological causation between alcohol and cancers in these seven sites, but according to the researchers:9

"Confirmation of specific biological mechanisms by which alcohol increases the incidence of each type of cancer is not required to infer that alcohol is a cause."

The percentage of deaths related to alcohol and cancer increased by 62 percent in the past 12 years, up from 3.6 percent in 2003 to 5.8 percent in 2015 worldwide.10 This increase may be the result of other factors in the lives of people who suffer from cancer triggered by alcohol, such as poor dietary choices, lack of exercise and poor sleep quality.

In order to assign causation of cancer to alcohol, study participants would have to randomly be assigned to drink or abstain over the course of their life. Instead, researchers have studied a large body of epidemiological data that comes as close as it can to linking alcohol with cancer.

Another study linked even light drinking to the same list of cancer types.11 The American Cancer Society also warns that even a few drinks each week can increase your risk of breast cancer.12 The risk is higher in women who have low folate levels. Other research links the recurrence of breast cancer with alcohol intake.13

Both of these links appear to be related to alcohol's ability to raise your estrogen level. Alcohol also affects hormones in men. Chronic alcohol use is associated with testicular failure and male infertility.14,15

Feminine symptoms in men suggest that alcohol may also contain biologically active phytoestrogens.16 Studies such as these suggest that if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or prostate cancer, and especially if you are overweight or postmenopausal, it would be a good idea to cut back or eliminate your alcohol intake.

In the Big Scheme of Things, Less Alcohol Is Better

I generally define "moderate" alcohol intake (which is allowed in the beginner phase of my nutrition plan) as a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1 ounce of hard liquor, with a meal, per day. As you progress further in the nutrition plan, I recommend eliminating all forms of alcohol. Even if it provides some benefit, it's unlikely that alcohol will add much to an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle.

That said, if you're currently a drinker — whether your consumption is moderate or you tend to overdo it — research suggests exercise can go a long way toward mitigating the health risks, including reducing your risk for heart disease.

This makes sense when you consider the fact that exercise may be one of the most effective strategies for protecting and strengthening your heart. So much so, research shows regular exercise can significantly lower your health care costs if you have heart disease. In one study, 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, five times per week, resulted in annual health care savings of more than $2,500 per person.17

Exercise May Mitigate Risks of Alcohol Consumption

Exercise is a foundational aspect of good health, but may be even more important if you drink alcohol on a regular basis. According to recent research,18chronic drinkers who exercise five hours a week have the same rate of mortality as those who never drink alcohol, in large part by counteracting the inflammation caused by alcohol.19,20,21

The study looked at data from 36,370 British and Scottish adults — 85 percent of whom drank "occasionally" or "often." Thirteen percent of them were heavy drinkers, consuming 14 or more units of alcohol per week.

Interestingly, those who got at least 2.5 hours a week of moderately intense exercise significantly reduced the biological impact of their drinking. Those who exercised for five hours a week had the same mortality risk as teetotalers, even if they were heavy drinkers. The only ones who could not cancel out the harms of their alcohol consumption were those who drank dangerous levels of alcohol each week (20 or more standard drinks for women and 28 or more for men). As reported by The Daily Mail:22

"[The study concluded:] 'Our results provide an additional argument for the role of physical activity as a means to promote the health of the population even in the presence of other less healthy behaviors.' Professor Matt Field, [Ph.D.,] from the U.K. Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Liverpool said:

'This is a rigorous piece of research with some clear conclusions. The relationship between drinking alcohol to excess and increased risk of death is significantly weaker in people who are physically active. Therefore, it appears that physical activity may partially offset some of the harmful effects of drinking, particularly alcohol-attributable cancers.'"

Exercise Also Diminishes Risk of Alcohol Abuse

Previous research23 has also found that long-time drinkers who exercise regularly have less damaged white matter in their brains compared to those who rarely or never exercise. The white matter is considered the "wiring" of your brain's communication system, and is known to decline in quality with age and heavy alcohol consumption.

In addition to helping protect your brain, if you know you're prone to alcohol abuse or have a family history of alcohol addiction, exercising regularly may also reduce your risk of becoming dependent. The cravings for alcohol can become all-consuming, and eventually alcoholics do not feel "normal" until they've had a drink. The alcohol abuse inevitably throws off your circadian rhythm — the normal times you eat, sleep and wake up — as well, leading to a downward spiral of health and emotional effects.

Alcohol chemically alters your brain to release dopamine, a chemical your brain associates with rewarding behaviors. Exercise also triggers the release of dopamine, along with other feel-good chemicals, which means you can get the same "buzz" from working out that you can get from a six-pack of beer, but with far better outcomes for your health.

Exercise is also beneficial for those who are already addicted, and may actually help to lessen cravings. In one study,24 hamsters that ran the most consumed less alcohol, while less active hamsters had greater cravings for and consumption of alcohol. By replacing drinking with exercise, you may find that the rewarding feeling you get from exercise provides you with a suitable alternative to the rewarding feeling you previously got from alcohol.

On the other hand, chronic alcohol consumption also tends to IMPEDE your fitness goals. Working out is typically not high on the list of priorities when you're feeling hung over. In higher doses, alcohol can also affect testosterone production, muscle protein synthesis and leucine oxidation, thereby impeding your ability to build muscle and reach your fitness goals.

So, on the whole, thinking exercise will cancel out the harmful effects of alcohol is unrealistic, and such a program may be difficult to maintain in the long run.

Helpful Protocol to Minimize Damage of Alcohol

While I don't recommend drinking alcohol, if you know you'll be having a few drinks, taking this natural protocol beforehand can help "pre-tox" your body, thereby minimizing the damage associated with alcohol consumption. Just beware that this protocol will NOT make you less susceptible to alcohol poisoning or other acute adverse events associated with binge drinking, so please use common sense and drink responsibly.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): NAC is a form of the amino acid cysteine. It is known to help increase glutathione and reduce acetaldehyde toxicity that causes many hangover symptoms.25 Try taking NAC (at least 200 milligrams) 30 minutes before you drink to help lessen the alcohol's toxic effects.

If you're wondering just how powerful NAC can be, consider that, like alcohol, one way that Tylenol causes damage to your liver is by depleting glutathione. If you keep your glutathione levels up, the damage from the acetaminophen may be largely preventable. This is why anyone who overdoses on Tylenol receives large doses of NAC in the emergency room — to increase glutathione.

B Vitamins: NAC is thought to work even better when combined with vitamin B1 (thiamine).26 Vitamin B6 may also help to lessen hangover symptoms. Since alcohol depletes B vitamin in your body, and the B vitamins are required to help eliminate alcohol from your body, a B-vitamin supplement taken beforehand, as well as the next day, may help.

Milk Thistle: Milk thistle contains silymarin and silybin, antioxidants known to help protect your liver from toxins, including the effects of alcohol. Not only has silymarin been found to increase glutathione, but it also may help to regenerate liver cells.27 A milk thistle supplement may be most useful when taken regularly, especially if you know you'll be having cocktails on more than one occasion.

Vitamin C: Alcohol may deplete your body of vitamin C, which is important for reducing alcohol-induced oxidative stress in your liver. Interestingly, one animal study showed vitamin C was even more protective to the liver than silymarin (milk thistle) after exposure to alcohol.28

Making sure you're getting enough vitamin C, either via supplements or food, is another trick to use prior to indulging in alcoholic beverages. Vitamin C is actually such a powerful detoxifier that if you take large doses prior to receiving dental anesthesia, the anesthesia will be significantly weakened and may not work.

Magnesium: Magnesium is another nutrient depleted by alcohol, and it's one that many are already deficient in. Plus, magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce some hangover symptoms. If you don't eat a lot of magnesium-rich foods, taking a magnesium supplement before an evening involving drinking may be helpful.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Doctor Sells Practice in New York; Buys New Jersey Farm to Offer Plant-Based Medicine


by Daniel Barker, Natural News:

After 25 years of treating patients in the conventional manner, Dr. Ronald Weiss has sold his West New York practice to establish New Jersey’s first farm-based medical facility on a 348-acre plot of land in Long Valley.

The community-supported Ethos Health agricultural program Weiss has founded is based on the principle that food is medicine, and that diet can be more effective than pharmaceutical drugs in the prevention and treatment of disease. (RELATED: Read about food as medicine to prevent disease at

“Plant-based whole foods are the most powerful disease-modifying tools available to practitioners — more powerful than any drugs or surgeries,” Weiss told “I am talking about treating and preventing chronic disease — the heart attacks, the strokes, the cardiovascular disease, the cancers … the illnesses that are taking our economy and our nation down.”

The 348-acre ‘farmacy’ feeds 90 families

Weiss’s undergraduate degree in botany has no doubt come in handy in setting up his “farmacy.” And with the assistance of two local farmers, the project is now producing fresh organic fruits, vegetables and herbs for 90 families.

In turn, the families pay a membership fee and perform volunteer work on the farm, such as picking produce or pulling weeds. This helps people take a greater interest in the foods they eat – an awareness that is the foundation of good health, according to Weiss.

“Human health is directly related to the health of the environment, the production of food and how it is grown,” Weiss said. “I see this farm as an opportunity for me to take everything I’ve done all my life, all the biology and chemistry of plants I have studied, and link them to the human biological system.”

Although many mainstream medical practitioners continue to express skepticism regarding the “food as medicine” philosophy, there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that it really works, and some of Weiss’s patients are good examples.

‘More than a miracle’

For instance, 90-year-old Angelina Rotella was able to recover from chronic heart disease and diabetes by switching to Weiss’s plant-based dietary prescription.

Rotella was confined a wheelchair and suffering from congestive heart failure when she first visited Dr. Weiss. Eight months later, after changing her diet, she had lost 40 pounds and was able to get around without the wheelchair.

Her daughter, Angie Rotella-Suarez, called it “more than a miracle,” and after witnessing their mother’s dramatic improvement, Rotella-Suarez and her sister also switched to Weiss’s vegan diet plan, enabling them both to also lose 40 pounds and reverse their pre-diabetic status.

Weiss is encouraged by those within the medical profession who advocate a plant-based diet, such as Kim A. Williams, former president of the American College of Cardiology, who has written essays on the subject and spoken out about his own experiences. Williams has said that he succeeded in lowering his cholesterol levels on a vegan diet after failing to do so on a low-fat diet.

Other health experts remain critical of the concept, labeling all-plant diets as “still experimental.”

Whether or not a strict vegan diet is superior to one that includes some protein obtained from meat is open to debate, but what does seem clear is that primarily consuming fresh organic fruits and vegetables is the true prescription for good health.

It doesn’t take a medical degree to understand that what you put in your body not only affects but actually determines your state of health – and in fact, a conventional education in medicine tends to steer people away from that realization.

One of the reasons that plant-based medicine is still considered “fringe” appears to be that the medical establishment feels threatened by an approach that might put them out of business.

Big Pharma and the cancer industry would simply cease to exist if plant-based therapies and remedies became mainstream. Stay informed about the healing benefits of fresh foods at

Read More @


Facebook Lurking Is Making You Feel Miserable, Study Says


Another study has proved what we already knew but didn’t want to admit — Facebook ‘lurking’ is making you miserable.

It’s becoming common knowledge that scouring social media for hours on end isn’t doing us any favours, but is that just a recognizable feeling many of us can relate to, or is there some science behind it? A new study puts power behind the statement: Get off Facebook!

Facebook “lurking” was found by the University of Copenhagen, along with regular use of various other social media platforms, to harm emotional well-being and overall satisfaction with life. The study discovered, however, that simply taking a break from social media significantly and positively affects overall well-being.

The team conducted a week-long experiment with 1,095 participants in Denmark in late 2015, in which the participants were divided into two groups. The first group used Facebook as usual, while the second group stopped using the social media platform altogether for one week. Upon comparing the two groups, the researchers discovered that the break improved two aspects of well-being the most: positive life satisfaction and positive emotions. What’s more, this impact was overwhelmingly greater for those who  “envy others on Facebook,” for “passive users,” and for “heavy Facebook users.”

If you’re a regular Facebook user, and are concerned you’re going to have to quit cold turkey, the researchers urge you not to worry too much about their findings. In fact, they say making adjustments in your usage behaviour could be enough to bring on positive change:

To make things clear, if one is a heavy Facebook user, one should use Facebook less to increase one’s well-being. And if one tends to feel envy when on Facebook, one should avoid browsing the sections (or specific friends) on Facebook causing this envy. And if one uses Facebook passively, one should reduce this kind of behavior. Due to habits, practicalities, and potential “forecasting errors,”8 it may be difficult to change one’s way of using Facebook. If this is the case, one should consider quitting Facebook for good.

A past study on the aforementioned “forecasting errors” found that, while people think they’ll feel better after using Facebook, they actually feel worse, and suggested this poor mood may be the result of having wasted time.

An additional study out of Lancaster University in England analyzed studies from 14 countries to better understand the connection between Facebook usage and depression. The researchers noted that the “relationship between online social networking and symptoms of depression may be complex and associated with multiple psychological, social, behavioral and individual factor.” The study conlcuded that negative comparisons with other Facebook users were predictive of depression due to the increase of rumination.

Likewise, frequent posting on Facebook was also associated with increased rumination and depression. Women were more likely to become depressed than men due to Facebook usage, as were people with neurotic personalities. In addition, Facebook users were more at risk of depression if they displayed the following:

  • Felt envy after observing others
  • Accepted former partners as Facebook friends
  • Made negative social comparisons
  • Made frequent negative status updates

The reality is, people typically want to feel good after everything they do, but sometimes get lost in the moment, and hope for a positive outcome nonetheless. When it comes to Facebook, try using it in moderation, so you can avoid getting caught up in the detrimental comparisons. After all, what we’re seeing online is not the whole picture of a person’s life.





Thursday, January 19, 2017

No Tech Can Revolutionize Education, Just Relationships

Earlier this morning, while reading a post on the te@chthought blog, I learned about the video This Will Revolutionize Education recently posted on the Veritasium YouTube channel.  I really enjoyed the video and agree with most of the points made, especially the statement "The job of a teacher is not to deliver information. It is to guide the social process of learning. The job of a teacher is to inspire, to challenge, to excite their students to want to learn."

There is no single tool, application, or other technology that will ever revolutionize education.  It will always be about relationships.  The relationships between the students and their teachers, between students and their peers, between the educators and their colleagues, and between all the stakeholders and the leadership.  I wholeheartedly believe that the district I work for gets this and that is one of the many reasons that moving to a 1:1 teaching and learning environment over two years ago has found so much success at Leyden.  Because it's not about the tools.  It's about relationships.

One topic not covered in the video, that I have certainly witnessed at Leyden over the past 2+ years, is how effectively used technology can foster those ever important relationships and improve the guidance of the "social process of learning".  Our 1:1 environment has connected everyone far beyond what can be accomplished in a single 50-minute class period or 7-hour school day.  From the always available digital presence of a class in our content learning system to simple email communications, everyone is connected to information, resources, and each other.  In addition, the synchronous and asynchronous collaborative tools that we all use provides an opportunity for everyone to be a part of the process of learning and working instead of evaluators and reviewers of products.

While no single technology can revolutionize education, the collection of effectively integrated technologies can certainly strengthen relationships and maybe, just maybe, that will lead to a revolution.

Here's the video:

This post originally appeared on


Cancer Research Reproducibility Study: Science Still Broken?


ScientistEurekaYanlevDreamstimeExperimental replication is a hallmark of the scientific method. The idea is that scientific findings can be considered accurate if any researcher using the same procedures gets the same results. However, that is not what is happening today as I reported in my article, "Broken Science." For example, in a 2012 study in Nature researchers replicated the findings of only six out of 53 (11 percent) landmark published preclinical cancer studies. In 2011, researchers at Bayer Healthcare reported that they could not replicate 43 of the 67 published preclinical studies that the company had been relying on to develop cancer and cardiovascular treatments and diagnostics.

To address this problem, the Center for Open Science launched the Reproducibilty Project to assess the replicability of research in various disciplines. The first effort focused on trying to reproduce the results of 100 psychology studies. As reported in Science in 2015, just 39 of the studies were successfully replicated. The Open Science Center turned its attention to cancer biology research. The first results of attempts to replicate the findings in five different cancer studies are out, and they are complicated. The researchers were able to essentially reproduce the findings in two studies. The results in two others were not interpretable due to technical problems, and one failed replication. Interestingly, other labs report being able to replicate the results in the study whose results could not be reproduced by researchers working with the Open Science Center.

In trying to reproduce the findings of another one of the studies that reported identifying mutations that boosted the proliferation of melanoma cells, the replicating researchers actually found that the control mice without the mutated cancer cells died faster than the ones with the mutated melanoma. They speculate that the different results might hinge on changes in cell culture or further unidentified mutations in the cancer cells used in the replication experiment. And, of course, it may be that the replication studies are flawed rather than that the original ones are. Only more studies would enable researchers to figure out which is which.

"Science, the pride of modernity, our one source of objective knowledge, is in deep trouble," writes Daniel Sarewitz, a professor at Arizona State University's School for Future Innovation and Society, in his 2016 essay "Saving Science" in The New Atlantis. The pervasive lack of robust reproducibility is confirming Sarewitz' conclusion.


US Government Caught Massively Fabricating Student Loan Default Data


Ever since 2012 we have warned that one of the biggest threats arising from the US student loan bubble - which is no longer disputed by anyone except perhaps members of the outgoing administration - is not that it is soaring at an unprecedented pace, that's obvious for anyone with the latest loan total number over $1.4 trillion, rising at a pace of nearly $100 billion per year, but that the government - either on purpose or due to honest miscalculation - was not correctly accounting for the true extent of delinquencies and defaults. Today, we finally got confirmation that, as speculated, the US government was indeed fabricating student loan default data, making it appear far lower than it was in reality.

An the WSJ reported overnight many more students have defaulted on or failed to pay back their college loans than the U.S. government previously believed. The admission came last Friday, when the Education Department released a memo saying that it had overstated student loan repayment rates at most colleges and trade schools and provided updated numbers. This also means that the number of loan defaults in various cohorts is far greater than previously revealed.

A spokeswoman for the Education Department said that the problem resulted from a "technical programming error."

And so, the infamous "glitch" strikes again.

How bad was the data fabrication? When The Wall Street Journal analyzed the new numbers, the data revealed that the Department previously had inflated the repayment rates for 99.8% of all colleges and trade schools in the country. In other words, virtually every single number was made to appear better than it actually was. And people mock China for its own "fake data."

According to an analysis of the revised data, at more than 1,000 colleges and trade schools, or about a quarter of the total, at least half the students had defaulted or failed to pay down at least $1 on their debt within seven years. This is a stunning number and suggests that the student loan crisis is far greater than anyone had anticipated previously. It also means that the US taxpayer will be on the hook for hundreds of billions in government-funded loans once attention finally turns to who is expected to foot the bill for years of flawed lending practices.

As the WSJ adds, this isn’t the first time data problems have affected the Education Department: a recent government report criticized how the department tracks information including the budgetary implications of student loan forgiveness.  “This is a quality control issue with a Department of Education that has been facing criticism already for other data issues,” Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University.  The department “needs to be regularly audited so these issues can be discovered sooner.”

There is another interpretation: as we reported yesterday, when we revealed that a Chinese province admitted it had fabricated fiscal data for the period 2011-2014, the reason the data were made up "because officials wanted to advance their careers." One can imagine that the career pressure for those government workers who would report, and be held accountable, for revealing the true picture of America's disastrous student loan bubble, would be likewise staggering.

* * *

Going back to the report findings, the student loan repayment rates were originally released in 2015 as part of the Obama administration’s College Scorecard, which followed an aborted attempt to rate colleges and tie federal funds to those ratings.

At the time, the Journal reported that at 347 colleges and vocational schools, more than half of students had defaulted or failed to pay down their debt within seven years. Those figures were based on students were supposed to start repaying loans in 2006 and 2007.  In September, the Department released data tracking students who should have begun repayment in 2007 and 2008, and that number rose to 477. But with the updated number released last week, that number grew to 1,029. Worse, no college saw its repayment rate improve under the revision, and some schools saw their seven-year repayment rates fall by as much as 29%.

The worst offender was the University of Memphis which had one of the largest drops in its repayment rate following the recalculation. Previously, the Department said that 67% of its students were repaying loans within seven years of entering the repayment period. That number fell to 47% after the recalculation.

The University was not happy. In a statement, the school said it “was not contacted by or made aware of the data changes” from the Education department.  “Given the magnitude of the numerical changes in the report released by the Department of Education, the University of Memphis will be challenging the accuracy of the newly adjusted data,” the statement said.

The far more dire implications, however, are for broader student loan market, because if the latest unfabricated data suggesting that loan delinquencies are rapidly rising toward 50% across most of America's colleges, then the US is facing a default problem of staggering proportions. Recall that back in December 2014, The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee forecast that in an aggressive scenario, as much as $3.3 trillion in student loans could be oustanding by 2024. Incidentally, that is the scenario that has captured the growth of student loans since it was presented.

Apply default rates of 40-50% to this number, and the bill to the US taxpayer for the next mass bailout starts taking shape.


Doctor Causes Uproar After Linking Vaccines’ Dangerous Ingredients to Rise in Neurological Diseases


by David Gutierrez, Natural News:

A doctor at a prestigious medical clinic drew vicious attacks from vaccine defenders after he published a blog post suggesting that toxic chemicals in vaccines might be one factor in an “epidemic” of chronic diseases, including neurological disorders such as autism.

Dr. Daniel Neides is a family doctor and the director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

Neides’ post caused an immediate backlash, with other doctors describing the article with terms like “vile” and accusing Neides of serving an anti-vaccination agenda. (RELATED: Learn the truth about vaccine dangers and side effects at

Notably, Neides does not take a hard line anti-vaccine position, but rather suggests that some vaccines are unnecessary and that others should be spaced more widely. But that did not stop the media from implying that Neides was promoting a complete vaccine opt-out, or other doctors from harassing the Cleveland Clinic until it agreed to discipline him.

Is “toxins are harmful” controversial?

So what precisely did Neides say, to cause such an outraged response? The blog post opens with his story of going to get a flu shot — hardly the action of a vaccine refuser — and asking for a “preservative free” shot in order to avoid being exposed to mercury in the form of thimerosal. Neides then discovered that the “preservative free” shot does indeed contain preservatives, in the form of the carcinogenic chemical formaldehyde.

Neides uses this anecdote as a jumping off point to talk about the myriad ways that the modern world exposes us all to toxic chemicals, which are destroying our health.

“My anger … stems from a constant toxic burden that is contributing to the chronic disease epidemic,” he writes.

Neides notes that there are more than 80,000 chemicals being used in the United States, with another 2,000 introduced every year. In addition to vaccines, we are exposed to these via food, air pollution, personal care products, and even our clothing. He then makes the non-controversial claim that toxic chemicals disrupt the functioning of normal bodily systems, and can lead to diseases including cancer, autoimmune disease, heart disease, diabetes, and neurological diseases.

Although the link between toxic chemicals and neurological disease — including Parkinson’s, which Neides specifically mentioned — is well established, Neides’ inclusion of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on the list is part of what drew the ire of the medical establishment. But there is certainly reputable research suggesting a role of toxic chemicals in the development of both conditions.

Neides goes on to say that while the body has a “wonderful” capacity to clear out toxic chemicals, excessive exposure can overwhelm this system. Because vaccines are one source through which we are exposed to toxins such as formaldehyde, aluminum, and sometimes mercury, Neides holds them partially culpable for the chronic disease epidemic.

“Does the vaccine burden – as has been debated for years – cause autism?” he writes. “I don’t know and will not debate that here. What I will stand up and scream is that newborns without intact immune systems and detoxification systems are being over-burdened with PRESERVATIVES AND ADJUVANTS IN THE VACCINES.”

(Coming soon: will bring you breaking news on mercury preservatives used in vaccines.)

Disciplined for free speech

In response to the backlash drawn by Neides’ post, the Cleveland Clinic published a repudiation of Neides’ post, promised to discipline him, and said he would not be doing any interviews on the topic.

“Our physician published his statement without authorization from Cleveland Clinic. His views do not reflect the position of Cleveland Clinic and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken,” the clinic said.

While mainstream media reports on the “controversy” implied that Neides’ post might encourage people to stop getting vaccines, the doctors leading the backlash seemed to have a very different concern.

“Anti-vaccine Cleveland Clinic doctor just made our jobs so much harder,” tweeted medical doctor and blogger Kevin Pho.

In a news interview, Pho clarified that he doesn’t like it when patients ask him questions about vaccines — because then he has to spend time talking with them.

“Time is at a premium, and having to spend that time dispelling fake health news only adds to the pressures primary care physicians face in a 15-minute office visit,” Pho said.

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Could Living With Less Make You Happier and Wealthier?


By Dr. Mercola

Are you happy? Do you feel your life has meaning and purpose? If the answer is not a resounding yes, have you given thought as to what might be blocking your sense of happiness and purpose? Could it be that you have too much STUFF?

I've written a number of articles about the health benefits of happiness and offered many different strategies shown to increase your happiness level, but I've never approached the subject from the angle of re-evaluating your material possessions.

While there's no wealth of scientific data to show that living with less stuff will increase your happiness, a growing number of people insist that this is in fact part of the equation.

Over the past few years, a trend best known as "minimalism" has sprung up, with converts hailing the elimination of excess material trappings as the answer to their growing sense of unhappiness and discontent. "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things," which is available on Netflix, has helped spread that message.

Why Do We Hold on to Things?

The film features Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, two childhood friends best known as "The Minimalists" to the millions of people who read their blog and books.

Millburn's journey into minimalism began seven years ago. He was earning a respectable salary and had all the trappings a successful professional married man could want. Then, within the span of a month, his mother died and his wife left him.

Faced with the task of sorting through and storing all of his mother's belongings, he had a number of epiphanies, which he describes in the TEDx Talk, "The Art of Letting Go," above.

For example, he realized the reason his mother had held on to every scrap of paper from his first through fourth-grade classes was probably because she was trying to hold on to the memories of his youth.

But looking through those papers, he realized that "the memories are in us, not in our things," and that discarding the papers would not have eliminated her memories of his childhood. Nor would his own memories of those days be destroyed by tossing the papers out.

To make a long story short, he ended up canceling the U-Haul truck and the storage unit he'd reserved to transport and store his mother's belongings and sold, donated and threw away virtually all of it. And then, when he got back home, he did the same with his own stuff.

Increasing Your Wealth by Living With Less

Nicodemus' story began in much the same way. By his late 20s, he was making lots of money and had all the material goods he ever wanted. Yet he felt depressed, depleted and overworked. When meeting Millburn one day, he was astounded to see his friend — who'd just lost his mother and his wife — so upbeat and happy.

Upon hearing Millburn's story, he decided to give it a try. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, the pair travel the world sharing the benefits of living with less, which include more time to focus on your health, relationships and personal growth, community involvement and building a life that has meaning.

Reducing your spending — buying only that which you actually need — also brings financial freedom by eliminating debt and increasing your savings.

As noted by Nicodemus, the average credit card debt for Americans who carry a balance is $16,000,1 and 38 percent of U.S. households carry some amount of credit card debt. The total outstanding consumer debt in the U.S. in 2016 alone was a staggering $3.4 TRILLION.

Meanwhile, financial hardship and work stress are two significant contributors to depression and anxiety.

The answer, they point out, is to buy less. Many who have adopted the minimalist lifestyle claim they've been able to significantly reduce the amount of time they have to work to pay their bills, freeing up time for volunteer work, creative pursuits and taking care of their personal health.

Radical Measures

When it comes to decluttering and minimizing, there are many ways to go about it. Millburn spent months whittling down his possessions to the bare necessities while Nicodemus decided on a more radical and faster approach.

Together, they packed up every last item in his apartment, including the furniture, as you would if you were moving.

Then, over the course of three weeks, he dug out items from the boxes as he needed them — his toothbrush and a towel here, a cup, plate and fork there. At the end of those three weeks, he knew exactly what he actually needed, and what was superfluous.

Approximately 80 percent of all his belongings were still in boxes, and all of it was sold, donated or thrown away. So, did it make him happier? Yes, he claims, and it just might make you more content too.

As noted by Millburn, we often keep things "just in case," even though we've never needed the item in question in several years or even decades of owning it. Meanwhile, it's taking up space and costing you both time and money in storage, cleaning and upkeep. Worse, all that excess has a tendency to overwhelm us and prevent us from seeing and appreciating our true "treasures," be it a particularly cherished item or our own family members.

Baby Steps

If a "packing party" sounds too extreme, consider Millburn's approach of whittling things down a little at a time. You may start by asking yourself:

  • How might my life be better with less?
  • What do I value in life?
  • Does this thing add value to my life?

One way of making slow but steady progress would be to eliminate one unnecessary item per day. Over the course of a year, that's 360 items less — provided you don't bring any more in. You may also want to evaluate how you spend your time, and minimize time-wasting distractions just as you would minimize unnecessary belongings.

Do you spend hours each day surfing the net, interacting on social media or watching TV? How many hours a week do you spend shopping? Chances are, you're wasting a lot of time on activities that add zero value to your life, and if they don't add value, chances are they're not increasing your happiness either.

The Art of Letting Go

Minimizing your belongings is often easier said than done. Even people who are not hoarders tend to struggle when it comes to ditching certain items. In psychology terms, the reason we're so emotionally attached to things is because of the "endowment effect"2 — we tend to value items more highly once we own them. Once something is ours, it becomes "special."

In the video above, this and other psychological underpinnings of emotional attachment to material things are explained. Not only do we learn, from an early age, to equate our own "self" with the things we own, we also have a tendency to view things as being imbued with a certain "essence."

This "magical thinking" is a major reason why it's so difficult to part with family heirlooms in particular. Giving or throwing such items away equates to discarding the person it belonged to — whose "essence" is still considered part of that object. 

Hoarding disorder3 is in part caused by an exaggerated sense of responsibility and protectiveness of these "special" items. The crux is that ALL items become special in the eyes of a hoarder. In essence, hoarding is the endowment effect on steroids, and it may be more common than previously thought. An estimated 15 million Americans have hoarding disorder, which can be hard to treat and overcome, but there's a wide spectrum of over-accumulation.

Americans in general tend to own far more stuff than they need or can even properly care for. According to Sandra Stark, who works with a peer-led hoarding response team at the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, 70 percent of Americans who own homes cannot park their car in the garage due to it being filled to the hilt with stuff that doesn't fit inside the house.4

Psychological Trick That May Help You Shed More Stuff

Understanding the psychology behind your attachments may help you declutter your space and let go of some (or a lot) of your excess. As noted by Tom Stafford in a previous BBC article on this topic:5

"Knowing the powerful influence that possession has on our psychology, I take a simple step to counteract it … Say I am cleaning out my stuff. Before I learnt about the endowment effect I would go through my things one by one and try to make a decision on what to do with it. Quite reasonably, I would ask myself whether I should throw this away.

At this point, although I didn't have a name for it, the endowment effect would begin to work its magic, leading me to generate all sorts of reasons why I should keep an item based on a mistaken estimate of how valuable I found it. After hours of tidying I would have kept everything, including the 300 hundred rubber bands (they might be useful one day), the birthday card from two years ago (given to me by my mother) and the obscure computer cable (it was expensive).

Now, knowing the power of the bias, for each item I ask myself a simple question: If I didn't have this, how much effort would I put in to obtain it? And then more often or not I throw it away, concluding that if I didn't have it, I wouldn't want this. Let this anti-endowment effect technique perform its magic for you, and you too will soon be joyously throwing away things that you only think you want, but actually wouldn't trouble yourself to acquire if you didn't have them."

For sentimental items, Millburn suggest taking photographs of them before you send them on their way. While the item doesn't actually hold your memory, things can trigger memories. But you don't need the actual item. A photo of the item can accomplish this just as well. 

What Can You Gain From Owning Less?

In the two TEDx Talk videos above, Millburn and Nicodemus share many stories of what they've gained by letting go of their stuff and refraining from buying more than they actually need and use. This includes:

Working less yet having more money

Having more time and energy to look after your health

Cultivating and prioritizing personal relationships

Having the time to pursue your passions

Being able to contribute time and money to help others

Less stress

While the idea of owning nothing but the bare necessities will not appeal to everyone, many could probably benefit from taking a closer look at their material possessions and questioning their pursuit of material goods. What are you actually seeking? What do you imagine you'll gain once the item is yours?

Retaining only the items that actually add value to your life can be an excellent way of editing your life down to more manageable levels, decreasing much self-inflicted stress and easing financial woes. As noted by Millburn and Nicodemus, the purpose of minimalism is to get the benefits you experience once all the clutter is gone.

'Love People and Use Things'

Consumption itself is not the problem; unchecked compulsory shopping is. It's like being on a hamster wheel — you keep shopping, thinking happiness and life satisfaction will come with it. Yet it never does. Many times, accumulation of material goods is a symptom that you may be trying to fill a void in your life.

The problem is that void can never be filled by material things. More often than not, the void is silently asking for more love, connection and experiences that bring purpose and passionate engagement.

Part of the answer is to stop trying to find life meaning through the act of shopping and to become a more deliberate consumer. If an item is not going to have a useful purpose or bring you great joy, it will probably only get in the way of your efforts to find purpose and joy. Worthwhile questions you may want to ask yourself as you go about decluttering your space include:

  • What are my priorities?
  • What do I value and want more of in my life?
  • Who do I want to be and what kind of life do I want to live?
  • How do I define success?
  • Why am I discontent?

If you fail to address and answer these kinds of questions, you're likely to refill your empty spaces with new things, which defeats the whole purpose of doing it in the first place. Purging without also following through on not buying more stuff will only feed the destructive consumer cycle — a cycle that is currently taking a tremendous toll on the global environment. "Love people and use things, because the opposite never works," the two minimalists say, and that's a motto we could all benefit from.

Also please remember our lead story yesterday on what happens to clothes when you donate them. It discussed the surprising destination of most of the clothes you donate. The ultimate long-term solution is not to keep donating but to tackle the fundamental cause of the problem, apply the principles of this article and not purchase them in the first place.

In my case, I typically purchase clothes every five years or so, but I noticed that I had an abundance of clothes that I never wear. I realized that most of them were gifts from well-intentioned relatives who really did not know what to gift to me other than clothes. So I had to tell them to stop giving me clothes, as most of them I never wear and simply have to get rid of.

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What Can Americans Learn from Chinese Government Propaganda?


Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,


Under the relentless thrust of accelerating over-population and increasing over-organization, and by means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old forms—elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the rest—will remain. The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism. All the traditional names, all the hallowed slogans will remain exactly what they were in the good old days. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial—but Democracy and freedom in a strictly Pickwickian sense. Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit.


– From Aldous Huxley’s, Brave New World Revisited, published 1958

We live in a world like no other in human history. We’re mercilessly bombarded by intense and sophisticated propaganda virtually 24/7, whether it be from government officials, media outlets or multi-national corporations with endless budgets. The barrage is relentless, and unless you feel like ditching it all and moving into a cave, pretty much inescapable. For those of us dedicated to living on the outside, the only offense is a good defense, and a good defense requires understanding.

Most of us assume that for propaganda to be most effective it must remain undetected by its intended victims. While this is true on some level, it’s also an unsophisticated understanding of how this stuff really works here in the U.S. on a far more clever and pernicious level.

To get a deeper understanding, I want to highlight a few passages from an excellent article published at CounterPunch titled, Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works:

Chief among the common misconceptions about the way official propaganda works is the notion that its goal is to deceive the public into believing things that are not “the truth” (that Trump is a Russian agent, for example, or that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, or that the terrorists hate us for our freedom, et cetera). However, while official propagandists are definitely pleased if anyone actually believes whatever lies they are selling, deception is not their primary aim.


The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an “official narrative” that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between “the truth” as defined by the ruling classes and any other “truth” that contradicts their narrative.


Imagine this Maginot line as a circular wall surrounded by inhospitable territory. Inside the wall is “normal” society, gainful employment, career advancement, and all the other considerable benefits of cooperating with the ruling classes. Outside the wall is poverty, anxiety, social and professional stigmatization, and various other forms of suffering. Which side of the wall do you want to be on? Every day, in countless ways, each of us are asked and have to answer this question. Conform, and there’s a place for you inside. Refuse, and … well, good luck out there.


In openly despotic societies, the stakes involved in making this choice (to conform or dissent) are often life and death. In our relatively liberal Western societies (for those of us who are not militant guerillas), the consequences of not conforming to the official narrative are usually subtler. Despite that, the pressure is still intense. Conforming to the consensus “reality” generated by these official narratives is price of admission to the inner sanctum, where the jobs, money, professional prestige, and the other rewards of Capitalism are. Conforming does not require belief. It requires allegiance and rote obedience. What one actually believes is completely irrelevant, as long as one parrots the official narrative.


In short, official propaganda is not designed to deceive the public (no more than the speeches in an actor’s script are intended to deceive the actor who speaks them). It is designed to be absorbed and repeated, no matter how implausible or preposterous it might be. Actually, it is often most effective when those who are forced to robotically repeat it know that it is utter nonsense, as the humiliation of having to do so cements their allegiance to the ruling classes (this phenomenon being a standard feature of the classic Stockholm Syndrome model, and authoritarian conditioning generally).


The point of all this propaganda is to delegitimize Donald Trump, and to prophylactically reassert the neoliberal ruling classes’ monopoly on power, “reality,” and “truth.” In case this wasn’t already abundantly clear, the neoliberal ruling classes have no intention of giving up control of the global capitalist pseudo-empire they’ve been working to establish these last sixty years. They’re going to delegitimize and stigmatize Trump (and any other symbol of nationalist backlash or resistance to transnational Capitalism), bide their time for the next four years, and then install another of their loyal servants … after which life will go back to “normal,” and liberals will do their best to forget this unfortunate period where they pretended to believe this insipid neo-McCarthyite nonsense.

That’s the first point about the complexities of propaganda I want to highlight today, but it’s not the only one. The second example comes from the Chinese government, as outlined in a post published at Marginal Revolution titled, Authoritarians Distract Rather than Debate. Here’s what we learned:

It’s long been known that the Chinese government hires people to support the government with fabricated posts on social media. In China these people are known as the “50c party”, so called because the posters were rumored to be paid 50 cents (5 jiao or about $.08) to write the posts. The precise nature and extent of the 50c party has heretofore been unknown. But in an amazing new paper, Gary King, Jennifer Pan and Margaret Roberts (KPR) uncover a lot of new information using statistical sleuthing and some unusual and controversial real world sleuthing.


KPR’s data-lever is an archive of leaked emails from the Propaganda Office of Zhanggong. The archive included many 50c posters who were sending links and screenshots of their posts to the central office as evidence of their good work. Using these posts, KPR are able to trace the posters though many social media accounts and discover who the posters are and what they are posting about. Both pieces of information reveal surprises.


First, the posters are government workers paid on salary not, as the 50c phrase suggests, piece-rate workers. Second, and more importantly, it has long been assumed that propaganda posts would support the government with praise or criticize critics of the government. Not so. In fact, propaganda posts actively steer away from controversial issues. Instead, the effort appears to be to distract (especially to distract the people from organizing collective action; thus distraction campaigns peak around times and places where collective action like marches and protests might become focal). KPR write:


Distraction is a clever and useful strategy in information control in that an argument in almost any human discussion is rarely an effective way to put an end to an opposing argument. Letting an argument die, or changing the subject, usually works much better than picking an argument and getting someone’s back up…


Debate is about appealing to an individual’s reason; debate is thus implicitly individualistic, respectful of rights and epistemically egalitarian. (As I argued earlier, respect for the truth is tied to individualism because any person may have truth and reason on their side.) Authoritarians don’t care about these things and so they lie and distract with impunity and without shame. In this case, the distraction is done subtly.

If you come away from the above with the conclusion “good thing we aren’t China,” you aren’t thinking hard enough. We live in a world in which eight men own as much wealth as the bottom 50%. This is clearly not a stable world, so how is it kept in place by those in power against the best interests of so many? Distraction is certainly a huge part of it.

Distraction can take many forms of course. A particularly noxious way to distract people is to make sure you work them to death. People who work two jobs and still need foodstamps to survive will be so demoralized and exhausted, staying informed about the world around them becomes nearly impossible, let alone being part of any sort of organized popular movement. For those who do have free time to be productive members of society there’s an overabundance of sports, video games, TMZ, and reality tv. Distraction is an essential part of keeping this destructive, predatory society intact, and in order to break free, it’s essential we understand this and adjust our behavior wherever and whenever possible.

If you enjoyed this post, and want to contribute to genuine, independent media, consider visiting Liberty Blitzkrieg's Support Page.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The air travel industry has been putting profit over safety by ignoring aerotoxicity


Have you ever wondered how jet airliners supply fresh air to passengers while flying at high altitudes? Everyone on board relies on this air supply, but where does it come from, and why hasn’t the aviation industry informed us of its health hazards?For 40 years, the air travel industry has kept this design secret. What really is jet lag? If the public knew how they were being poisoned on flights, then the entire industry would have to redesign their passenger jets.Bleed air: the dirty secret the ...


Russian Agent: Who Gave US Uranium To Putin, Trump Or Hillary?


by Jon Rappoport, Activist Post:

Putin controls 20% of US uranium production. That fact is established. But how did it happen?

Now that we know Trump is a hard-core Russian agent who has been undermining America on behalf of his secret twin brother, Vladimir Putin, it stands to reason Trump was the one who gave 20% of US uranium to the Russkie leader. Right?

I mean, why wouldn’t he? All that uranium was up for grabs, it was there, and Trump somehow engineered the deal. I’m shocked the Washington Post and its CIA pals haven’t reported the story by now.

Anybody who passed that much US uranium to our eternal enemy, Russia, would have to be a secret agent working undercover for the Kremlin. No doubt about it.

The Clintons were instrumental in making the uranium deal.

For proof, let me go to the irrefutable authority on all news in the known galaxy, The New York Times. They’ll settle the issue.

On April 23, 2015, the NY Times ran a story under the headline: “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal”.

The bare bones of the story: a Canadian company called Uranium One controlled a great deal of uranium production in the US. The company was sold to Russia (meaning Putin and his minions).

So Putin then possessed 20% of US uranium production!

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Facebook Launches 'Fake News' Filtering Service Ahead Of German Elections


Because the rise in popularity of alternative and populist candidates in Germany and elsewhere around the world can't possibly by a legitimate rejection of politicians who simply skewed policies too far to the left over the past decade, Germany and Facebook have announced an accelerated effort to crack down on "Fake News" (i.e. anything that is deemed critical of Angela Merkel) ahead the country's elections in September.   Just like in the U.S., Facebook's crackdown in Germany will enlist the support of 3rd-party "fact checkers" who will flag stories as "disputed" if they're found to include "fake" or "misleading" content.  The Financial Times:

German users of the social network will now be able to report a story as fake and it will be sent to Correctiv, a third-party fact checker. If the fact checker discovers it is fake, the story will be flagged as “disputed”, with an explanation. Disputed stories will not be prioritised by the news feed algorithm and people will receive a warning if they decide to share it.


Facebook said it had been in discussions with German media and publishing groups and was working to get more partners on board. “Our focus is on Germany right now but we’re certainly thinking through what countries will unveil next,” he said.




Of course, as we pointed out a few weeks ago, similar efforts to enlist the help a third-party, "independent" fact checker in the U.S., Poynter, drew some scrutiny after a quick google search revealed that they are funded by none other than George Soros' Open Society Foundation, which can be accused of many things, but political impartiality is not one of them.  From our previous post:

A quick review of Poynter's website reveals that the organization is funded by the who's who of leftist billionaires including George Soros' Open Society Foundations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, and Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar's Omidyar Network.  Well that seem fairly bipartisan, right?   



As we pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Germany is actively considering a number of laws that could impose fines of up to €500,000 and 5 years in jail for the distribution of "fake news" with justice minister Heiko Maas saying that "social networks have a duty" to censor "lies and hate campaigns."

The German government announced last month it was planning a law that would impose fines of up to €500,000 on Facebook for distributing fake news. Angela Merkel, chancellor, has warned there are signs that online attacks and misinformation coming from Russia could “play a role in the election campaign”.


In an interview with Welt Am Sonntag on Sunday, Heiko Maas, Germany’s justice minister, warned that fake news posed a “danger to our culture of debate”, and added that, in extreme cases, those responsible could face up to five years in jail.


“But social networks also have a duty,” he said. “It can’t be in Facebook’s interest that its platform is misused in order to spread lies and hate campaigns. Criminal content should be deleted immediately once it has been reported. And it must be easier for users to report fake news.”


Germany’s Justice Ministry will draft a bill that will include a “catalog of fines” for violations, Volker Kauder, Merkel’s top lieutenant in parliament, told reporters Saturday. Thomas Oppermann, his counterpart in the Social Democratic Party, Merkel’s coalition partner, last month told Der Spiegel that the penalties could reach 500,000 euros ($532,000), and that sites like Facebook should also be required to publish corrections after removing criminal posts.


The fines “have to hurt, otherwise they won’t work,” Kauder said.

And while many would say this is yet another unprecedented attempt of the left to collude with the mainstream media in an effort to censor their political opposition, Merkel's CDU party would like for you to rest assured that their "fake news" crusade is simply intended to "protect Germany’s democratic process against manipulation."

“Social networks take too long to remove insults before they spiral out of control,” said Stephan Harbarth, a senior lawmaker of Merkel’s CDU party. “There are clear limits to freedom of speech in the real world that aren’t yet applied online and that needs to change. This is about hate posts as well as fake news.”


Harbarth said he would like to see the law enacted before this year’s national election, expected to be held in September. He insists it’s not intended to boost the CDU’s chances in the ballot, but rather to protect Germany’s democratic process against manipulation.

But, if the last year has taught us anything, it's that Putin and his army of hackers will not be stopped.  If they can single-handedly topple the Clinton dynasty then Merkel doesn't stand a chance.


Remembering the Real Martin Luther King

King statue

More than 40 years after his death, Martin Luther King Jr., one of the great prophets of American democracy, has been reduced to little more than a lifeless statue. Yet his courageous call for peace and criticism of his government at a time of war must not be lost to history.

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