• On the Malicious and Scientifically Illiterate Bullies Afraid of Greta Thunberg
    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/09/02/malicious-and-scientifically-illiterate-bullies-afraid-greta-thunberg
    Andrew Mitrovica

    It was, in a subtle way, a defining moment.

    After a 15-day trek across the Atlantic Ocean, Thunberg looked exhausted. Still, the 16-year-old climate change activist knew she had to talk about the meaning and purpose of her unorthodox journey with supporters who greeted her on an overcast New York shoreline.

    Predictably, the tired, petite Swedish schoolgirl faltered, losing her train of thought briefly before apologising. "I'm sorry," she said, "my brain is not working correctly."

    The crowd applauded. Energised by the encouragement, Thunberg finished her short speech, where she urged the rest of us to "work together, despite our differences" to avert "the biggest crisis humanity has faced … because, otherwise, it might be too late. Let's not wait any longer. Let's do it now."

    For me, that distinctly human moment crystalised the appeal of Thunberg—a young woman who, distressed at the world's inexorable destruction, was moved to do something about it. Alone, if necessary.

    In words and deeds, Thunberg is the embodiment of philosopher Howard Zinn's admonition: "We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can quietly become a power no government can suppress, a power that can transform the world."

    She disdains celebrity. She makes no claim to heroism. She rebuffs efforts to idolise her. She isn't calculating or preoccupied with fame or ego. There is no artifice about her. She speaks plainly, without affectation or embroidery.

    In words and deeds, Thunberg is the embodiment of philosopher Howard Zinn's admonition: "We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can quietly become a power no government can suppress, a power that can transform the world."

    Of course, the marauding swarm of vitriolic right-wing climate-change deniers see Thunberg—not how the prophetic Zinn envisioned her—but as a tiny, pretentious zealot who threatens the existing order. Their order. Their comforts. Their traditional "way of life".

    De rigueur, they have set out to discredit and, if possible, to destroy Thunberg with their, by now, familiar and crass modus operandi.

    They have mocked her. They have belittled her. They have denigrated her. They have insulted her. They have dismissed her. They have questioned her motives. They have suggested she is anti-democratic. They have, in the fetid recesses of the internet, even threatened her.

    To afford all their fuming, sophomoric attacks the imprimatur of seriousness, they insist—as they always do—that they are the implacable realists, who, unlike starry-eyed leftists, aren't duped by the media's veneration of a youngster peddling doom and gloom over the supposedly still-contested science about whether the end is nigh or not.

    They would, no doubt, recoil at any suggestion that their furious hostility towards Thunberg is also the product of a calcifying cynicism, seething malevolence or signature cruelty.

    Rather, they insist, it is an expression of their necessary role as sceptics or contrarians in the noble tradition of their philosophical patron saint in name only, Galileo, who also questioned the prevailing scientific orthodoxy.

    It is a lie and an insult. They aren't "sceptics" or "contrarians". They are scientifically illiterate bullies who amplify their malice and ignorance with a bullhorn on TV or keyboard on Twitter.

    They share no intellectual affinity with Galileo. None. Bereft of an argument that could remotely be considered empirically or rationally sound, they traffic in hyperbole and smears designed to pummel Thunberg into an inconsequential afterthought.

    The teenage revolutionary must be stopped before the climate revolution she leads goes beyond their ability to halt it.

    Consider what the Australian columnist, Andrew Bolt, had to say about her.

    "No teenager is more freakishly influential than Thunberg, the deeply disturbed messiah of the global warming movement," he wrote. "I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru."

    Not done calling her a freak and disturbed, Bolt invoked Thunberg's reported past eating disorder, emotional and psychological struggles and autism as a cudgel against her.

    I defer to psychologists to discern the pathology that would prompt such viciousness. But Bolt's fear of the Thunberg phenomenon is plain. She is prevailing. He is losing. She is being heard, while he shouts obscenities. She grows more relevant by the day, while he slips further into irrelevancy and hysteria.

    When the predictable character assassination of a teenager gambit fails, it's time to raise "questions" about who or what powerful forces may be acting as Svengalis exploiting a vulnerable, damaged "child" for their parochial aims and possible profit.

    "Is Thunberg a green prophet or a schoolgirl puppet controlled by more sinister forces behind her?" the always temperate London-based The Sun newspaper asked, rhetorically.

    Using innuendo and recycled drivel, The Sun claimed a "naive" Thunberg was being manipulated by her "fame-hungry" mother and "energy giants".

    Like the paper itself, it is all empty conjecture designed to undermine Thunberg's legitimacy and authenticity and her just cause. It will not work because, clearly, she is no one's marionette.

    The irrational, absurd assaults on Thunberg's personality and motives aren't the exclusive preserve of the rancid tabloid press.

    Indeed, The New York Times newspaper permitted one journalist, Christopher Caldwell, to argue that Thunberg's appeals for immediate action are, incredibly, "in conflict with democracy".

    "Ms Thunberg believes that we should act, not argue," Caldwell wrote in his missive, oozing with condescension about her lack of life experience, "crude language", "unrealistic" world view, and "out of balance" priorities.

    While simultaneously acknowledging that the "authorities" agree with Thunberg that the climate crisis constitutes an "emergency", Caldwell claims that the youthful Swede is only interested in "sowing panic" and "simplification".

    His cockeyed prescription: more patience. "Democracy calls for waiting and seeing."

    [Thunberg] is the personification of the democratic impulse, not the antithesis of it.
    This is climate change denialism with the patina of gravitas.

    Thunberg, like the overwhelming scientific consensus she is intimately familiar with, is loud and clear on this urgent imperative: The time for waiting and seeing was over long ago.

    Patience, in this pressing context, is not a virtue, it is an abdication of responsibility.

    Thunberg has deployed every democratic tool at her imaginative disposal to make this salient point again and again. She is the personification of the democratic impulse, not the antithesis of it.

    So, I join millions of other global citizens who have been humbled, inspired and stirred by Thunberg's steely steadfastness in the face of the often-repellent locusts who come to bury her, not to praise her.

    Here's looking at you, kid.
    On the Malicious and Scientifically Illiterate Bullies Afraid of Greta Thunberg https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/09/02/malicious-and-scientifically-illiterate-bullies-afraid-greta-thunberg Andrew Mitrovica It was, in a subtle way, a defining moment. After a 15-day trek across the Atlantic Ocean, Thunberg looked exhausted. Still, the 16-year-old climate change activist knew she had to talk about the meaning and purpose of her unorthodox journey with supporters who greeted her on an overcast New York shoreline. Predictably, the tired, petite Swedish schoolgirl faltered, losing her train of thought briefly before apologising. "I'm sorry," she said, "my brain is not working correctly." The crowd applauded. Energised by the encouragement, Thunberg finished her short speech, where she urged the rest of us to "work together, despite our differences" to avert "the biggest crisis humanity has faced … because, otherwise, it might be too late. Let's not wait any longer. Let's do it now." For me, that distinctly human moment crystalised the appeal of Thunberg—a young woman who, distressed at the world's inexorable destruction, was moved to do something about it. Alone, if necessary. In words and deeds, Thunberg is the embodiment of philosopher Howard Zinn's admonition: "We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can quietly become a power no government can suppress, a power that can transform the world." She disdains celebrity. She makes no claim to heroism. She rebuffs efforts to idolise her. She isn't calculating or preoccupied with fame or ego. There is no artifice about her. She speaks plainly, without affectation or embroidery. In words and deeds, Thunberg is the embodiment of philosopher Howard Zinn's admonition: "We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can quietly become a power no government can suppress, a power that can transform the world." Of course, the marauding swarm of vitriolic right-wing climate-change deniers see Thunberg—not how the prophetic Zinn envisioned her—but as a tiny, pretentious zealot who threatens the existing order. Their order. Their comforts. Their traditional "way of life". De rigueur, they have set out to discredit and, if possible, to destroy Thunberg with their, by now, familiar and crass modus operandi. They have mocked her. They have belittled her. They have denigrated her. They have insulted her. They have dismissed her. They have questioned her motives. They have suggested she is anti-democratic. They have, in the fetid recesses of the internet, even threatened her. To afford all their fuming, sophomoric attacks the imprimatur of seriousness, they insist—as they always do—that they are the implacable realists, who, unlike starry-eyed leftists, aren't duped by the media's veneration of a youngster peddling doom and gloom over the supposedly still-contested science about whether the end is nigh or not. They would, no doubt, recoil at any suggestion that their furious hostility towards Thunberg is also the product of a calcifying cynicism, seething malevolence or signature cruelty. Rather, they insist, it is an expression of their necessary role as sceptics or contrarians in the noble tradition of their philosophical patron saint in name only, Galileo, who also questioned the prevailing scientific orthodoxy. It is a lie and an insult. They aren't "sceptics" or "contrarians". They are scientifically illiterate bullies who amplify their malice and ignorance with a bullhorn on TV or keyboard on Twitter. They share no intellectual affinity with Galileo. None. Bereft of an argument that could remotely be considered empirically or rationally sound, they traffic in hyperbole and smears designed to pummel Thunberg into an inconsequential afterthought. The teenage revolutionary must be stopped before the climate revolution she leads goes beyond their ability to halt it. Consider what the Australian columnist, Andrew Bolt, had to say about her. "No teenager is more freakishly influential than Thunberg, the deeply disturbed messiah of the global warming movement," he wrote. "I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru." Not done calling her a freak and disturbed, Bolt invoked Thunberg's reported past eating disorder, emotional and psychological struggles and autism as a cudgel against her. I defer to psychologists to discern the pathology that would prompt such viciousness. But Bolt's fear of the Thunberg phenomenon is plain. She is prevailing. He is losing. She is being heard, while he shouts obscenities. She grows more relevant by the day, while he slips further into irrelevancy and hysteria. When the predictable character assassination of a teenager gambit fails, it's time to raise "questions" about who or what powerful forces may be acting as Svengalis exploiting a vulnerable, damaged "child" for their parochial aims and possible profit. "Is Thunberg a green prophet or a schoolgirl puppet controlled by more sinister forces behind her?" the always temperate London-based The Sun newspaper asked, rhetorically. Using innuendo and recycled drivel, The Sun claimed a "naive" Thunberg was being manipulated by her "fame-hungry" mother and "energy giants". Like the paper itself, it is all empty conjecture designed to undermine Thunberg's legitimacy and authenticity and her just cause. It will not work because, clearly, she is no one's marionette. The irrational, absurd assaults on Thunberg's personality and motives aren't the exclusive preserve of the rancid tabloid press. Indeed, The New York Times newspaper permitted one journalist, Christopher Caldwell, to argue that Thunberg's appeals for immediate action are, incredibly, "in conflict with democracy". "Ms Thunberg believes that we should act, not argue," Caldwell wrote in his missive, oozing with condescension about her lack of life experience, "crude language", "unrealistic" world view, and "out of balance" priorities. While simultaneously acknowledging that the "authorities" agree with Thunberg that the climate crisis constitutes an "emergency", Caldwell claims that the youthful Swede is only interested in "sowing panic" and "simplification". His cockeyed prescription: more patience. "Democracy calls for waiting and seeing." [Thunberg] is the personification of the democratic impulse, not the antithesis of it. This is climate change denialism with the patina of gravitas. Thunberg, like the overwhelming scientific consensus she is intimately familiar with, is loud and clear on this urgent imperative: The time for waiting and seeing was over long ago. Patience, in this pressing context, is not a virtue, it is an abdication of responsibility. Thunberg has deployed every democratic tool at her imaginative disposal to make this salient point again and again. She is the personification of the democratic impulse, not the antithesis of it. So, I join millions of other global citizens who have been humbled, inspired and stirred by Thunberg's steely steadfastness in the face of the often-repellent locusts who come to bury her, not to praise her. Here's looking at you, kid.
    On the Malicious and Scientifically Illiterate Bullies Afraid of Greta Thunberg
    As the world starts to take note of the teen climate activist, her critics have launched increasingly personal attacks... It was, in a subtle way, a defining moment.After a 15-day trek across the Atlantic Ocean, Thunberg looked exhausted. Still, the 16-year-old climate change activist knew she had to talk about the meaning and purpose of her unorthodox journey with supporters who greeted her on an overcast New York shoreline.
    WWW.COMMONDREAMS.ORG
    1
    0 Comments 0 Shares
  • Tipping Point: UN Biodiversity Chief Warns Burning of Amazon Could Lead to 'Cascading Collapse of Natural Systems'
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/08/30/tipping-point-un-biodiversity-chief-warns-burning-amazon-could-lead-cascading
    Julia Conley, staff writer

    Unless world governments, consumers, and businesses all work together to address the root causes of the current burning of the Amazon rain forest, the Arctic, and forests in the Congo and Angola, the planet will continue careening toward a point of no return, the U.N.'s top biodiversity expert said Friday.

    Cristiana Paşca Palmer, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, called the fires that have torn through more than 1,300 square miles of the Amazon this year "extraordinarily concerning."

    "But it is not just the Amazon," she told The Guardian. "We're also concerned with what's happening in other forests and ecosystems, and with the broader and rapid degradation of nature."

    The Amazon fires themselves are a sign, Paşca Palmer said, that "we are moving towards the tipping points that scientists talk about that could produce cascading collapses of natural systems."

    Green groups have largely blamed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for the fires, pointing to his encouragement of what one indigenous leader called "predatory behavior" of loggers, ranchers, and miners who want to clear forests for their industrial use.

    World governments and philanthropists have offered tens of millions of dollars to help save the rain forest, often called the "lungs of the Earth" because of the amount of oxygen its trees produce, but Paşca Palmer emphasized that a paradigm shift is needed in how the world approaches biodiversity and ecosystems.

    "We need to address the root causes," Paşca Palmer said. "Even if the amount involved in extinguishing fires in rainforests was a billion or 500 million dollars, we won't see an improvement unless more profound structural changes are taking place. We need a transformation in the way we consume and produce."

    Helping to protect the world's pollinators by ending the use of harmful pesticides, cutting fossil fuel emissions to net zero by 2030 to avoid a catastrophic warming of the planet by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and ending habitat destruction through deforestation and other human activities, are all necessary to maintain the Earth's biodiversity, the U.N. panel led by Paşca Palmer says.

    Paşca Palmer pointed to robust biodiversity programs in Costa Rica and Colombia as models for the rest of the world when they meet for an upcoming biodiversity summit in Kunming, China next year.

    Costa Rica's government has offered payments to landowners for preserving forests and planting trees, while Colombia has nearly doubled its federally protected lands in recent years.

    "I hope this will have a snowball effect," said Paşca Palmer. "It's a growing movement. I feel that now the heads of state are embracing this, we have a good signal."

    On social media, Extinction Rebellion Ireland expressed support for Paşca Palmer's message, writing, "If we don't work together, we are going to die together."

    Extinction Rebellion Ireland @ExtinctRebelsIE
    If we don't work together, we are going to die together.

    UN’s top biodiversity body says we are moving towards the tipping points that will produce the collapse of our natural systems.

    Join the rebellion now: http://www.extinctionrebellionireland.com https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/30/amazon-fires-biodiversity-united-nations

    Amazon fires 'extraordinarily concerning', warns UN biodiversity chief
    Biodiversity chief calls for countries to unite to halt rapid degradation of nature

    theguardian.com
    8:04 AM - Aug 30, 2019

    Climate campaigner Tony Juniper called the U.N. official's comments "a timely reminder that nature underpins the human world."

    Tony Juniper ✔ @TonyJuniper
    A timely reminder that Nature underpins the human world & that we are approaching a ‘point of no return’. It is vital to embed ecological recovery at the heart of our economic system, a reality that must be reflected in actual policy & spending decisions https://bit.ly/30M1Qc7

    Amazon fires 'extraordinarily concerning', warns UN biodiversity chief
    Biodiversity chief calls for countries to unite to halt rapid degradation of nature

    theguardian.com
    8:49 AM - Aug 30, 2019 · Cambridge, England

    "It is vital to embed ecological recovery at the heart of our economic system," wrote Juniper, "a reality that must be reflected in actual policy and spending decisions."
    Tipping Point: UN Biodiversity Chief Warns Burning of Amazon Could Lead to 'Cascading Collapse of Natural Systems' https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/08/30/tipping-point-un-biodiversity-chief-warns-burning-amazon-could-lead-cascading Julia Conley, staff writer Unless world governments, consumers, and businesses all work together to address the root causes of the current burning of the Amazon rain forest, the Arctic, and forests in the Congo and Angola, the planet will continue careening toward a point of no return, the U.N.'s top biodiversity expert said Friday. Cristiana Paşca Palmer, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, called the fires that have torn through more than 1,300 square miles of the Amazon this year "extraordinarily concerning." "But it is not just the Amazon," she told The Guardian. "We're also concerned with what's happening in other forests and ecosystems, and with the broader and rapid degradation of nature." The Amazon fires themselves are a sign, Paşca Palmer said, that "we are moving towards the tipping points that scientists talk about that could produce cascading collapses of natural systems." Green groups have largely blamed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for the fires, pointing to his encouragement of what one indigenous leader called "predatory behavior" of loggers, ranchers, and miners who want to clear forests for their industrial use. World governments and philanthropists have offered tens of millions of dollars to help save the rain forest, often called the "lungs of the Earth" because of the amount of oxygen its trees produce, but Paşca Palmer emphasized that a paradigm shift is needed in how the world approaches biodiversity and ecosystems. "We need to address the root causes," Paşca Palmer said. "Even if the amount involved in extinguishing fires in rainforests was a billion or 500 million dollars, we won't see an improvement unless more profound structural changes are taking place. We need a transformation in the way we consume and produce." Helping to protect the world's pollinators by ending the use of harmful pesticides, cutting fossil fuel emissions to net zero by 2030 to avoid a catastrophic warming of the planet by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and ending habitat destruction through deforestation and other human activities, are all necessary to maintain the Earth's biodiversity, the U.N. panel led by Paşca Palmer says. Paşca Palmer pointed to robust biodiversity programs in Costa Rica and Colombia as models for the rest of the world when they meet for an upcoming biodiversity summit in Kunming, China next year. Costa Rica's government has offered payments to landowners for preserving forests and planting trees, while Colombia has nearly doubled its federally protected lands in recent years. "I hope this will have a snowball effect," said Paşca Palmer. "It's a growing movement. I feel that now the heads of state are embracing this, we have a good signal." On social media, Extinction Rebellion Ireland expressed support for Paşca Palmer's message, writing, "If we don't work together, we are going to die together." Extinction Rebellion Ireland @ExtinctRebelsIE If we don't work together, we are going to die together. UN’s top biodiversity body says we are moving towards the tipping points that will produce the collapse of our natural systems. Join the rebellion now: http://www.extinctionrebellionireland.com https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/30/amazon-fires-biodiversity-united-nations … Amazon fires 'extraordinarily concerning', warns UN biodiversity chief Biodiversity chief calls for countries to unite to halt rapid degradation of nature theguardian.com 8:04 AM - Aug 30, 2019 Climate campaigner Tony Juniper called the U.N. official's comments "a timely reminder that nature underpins the human world." Tony Juniper ✔ @TonyJuniper A timely reminder that Nature underpins the human world & that we are approaching a ‘point of no return’. It is vital to embed ecological recovery at the heart of our economic system, a reality that must be reflected in actual policy & spending decisions https://bit.ly/30M1Qc7 Amazon fires 'extraordinarily concerning', warns UN biodiversity chief Biodiversity chief calls for countries to unite to halt rapid degradation of nature theguardian.com 8:49 AM - Aug 30, 2019 · Cambridge, England "It is vital to embed ecological recovery at the heart of our economic system," wrote Juniper, "a reality that must be reflected in actual policy and spending decisions."
    Tipping Point: UN Biodiversity Chief Warns Burning of Amazon Could Lead to 'Cascading Collapse of Natural Systems'
    "If we don't work together, we are going to die together."
    WWW.COMMONDREAMS.ORG
    1
    0 Comments 0 Shares
  • http://mnhopkins.blogspot.com/2010/12/message-of-encouragement-to-those-who.html

    http://mnhopkins.blogspot.com/2010/12/message-of-encouragement-to-those-who.html
    A Message of Encouragement to Those Who Serve the Good
    I often talk on my blog about people who serve the good.  I have written many inspirational messages in the past and will share one that ...
    MNHOPKINS.BLOGSPOT.COM
    1
    0 Comments 0 Shares
  • Squad is OWNING Trump and He Can't Handle It
    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) turned to social media to offer encouragement to “those scared for our future” after President Trump targeted the first-term lawmaker and three progressive colleagues at a rally Wednesday evening.

    “To all those scared for our future: we can get through this better than we started. We have the power to triumph over hatred, division, and bigotry. But decency cannot be taken for granted. It is something we must create, advance, and actively work to build each and every day,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted early Thursday morning.

    Trump used his rally in North Carolina to hammer four progressive congresswomen of color known as "the squad” with whom he has carried on an escalating feud in recent days.

    In the middle of a diatribe against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, the crowd broke into chants of “Send her back.”

    “You may shoot me with your words,/ You may cut me with your eyes,/ You may kill me with your hatefulness,/ But still, like air, I’ll rise,” Omar tweeted in response, quoting Maya Angelou.
    #TheDamageReport #JohnIadarola https://youtu.be/Zqx1aEdWfyE
    The Damage Report 7/18/19
    Squad is OWNING Trump and He Can't Handle It Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) turned to social media to offer encouragement to “those scared for our future” after President Trump targeted the first-term lawmaker and three progressive colleagues at a rally Wednesday evening. “To all those scared for our future: we can get through this better than we started. We have the power to triumph over hatred, division, and bigotry. But decency cannot be taken for granted. It is something we must create, advance, and actively work to build each and every day,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted early Thursday morning. Trump used his rally in North Carolina to hammer four progressive congresswomen of color known as "the squad” with whom he has carried on an escalating feud in recent days. In the middle of a diatribe against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, the crowd broke into chants of “Send her back.” “You may shoot me with your words,/ You may cut me with your eyes,/ You may kill me with your hatefulness,/ But still, like air, I’ll rise,” Omar tweeted in response, quoting Maya Angelou. #TheDamageReport #JohnIadarola https://youtu.be/Zqx1aEdWfyE The Damage Report 7/18/19
    Squad is OWNING Trump and He Can't Handle It
    The Squad has been in the headlines a lot recently, and now could be an opportune time for them and other New Justice Democrats. John Iadarola and Alexandra ...
    YouTube
    1
    0 Comments 0 Shares
  • ARCHAEOLOGY NEWSFLASH 764

    Why did killers protect their intended victims?

    THE "DESTROYER" TURNS "PROTECTOR"

    Religious or not, Islam is now a force to be noticed.

    But what very few leaders, political or religious, seem aware of, and what the media won't tell, and what 997 out of 1,000 people don't know, is this:

    Islam's rise from the Arabian desert, its surprising strategy that would stun historians, and its bizarra final destiny - all this was accurately foretold by ancient prophets.

    Are you sitting down? Islam was created in the 7th century by a certain European power to do a specific job. Vatican intelligence agents have documented the whole gripping story,detail by detail.

    In brief, the fearless Arab tribes were organized into an "army",with instructions to convert or eliminate certain people in North Africa and the Middle East. Muhammed was carefully groomed for this purpose.

    ORIGINAL PLAN BACK-FIRES

    But it did not work out quite as planned. After they had tasted a fair measure of success, these wild horsemen decided to do their own thing. They turned against their sponsors and proceeded to protect many whom they were meant to destroy.

    In the ancient prophecies about Islam, three stages of future Muslim history were laid out in advance.

    THE FIRST STAGE (CALLED THE
    PROPHECY OF "THE FIRST WOE")

    During the time of Muhammad and shortly thereafter were men who loved the Creator and were following His ways to the best of their knowledge. According to the prophecy, a command would be given not to “hurt” them.

    After the death of Muhammed, he was succeeded in the command by Abubeker, A. D. 632; who, as soon as he was firmly in power, sent a circular letter to the Arabian tribes, of which the following is an extract.

    "Destroy no palm trees, nor burn any field of corn. Cut down no fruit trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat...

    "As you go on, you will find some religious persons, who propose to themselves to serve God that way: let them alone... And you will find another sort of people that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns; be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter, till they either turn Mahometans or pay tribute'." (Edward Gibbon Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol.V:489-490)

    Roman Catholic monks shaved their heads in a circle shape of the sun when they were ordained priests. This circular tonsure was a sign of the sun god.

    Islam from the beginning made a clear distinction between
    different groups of Christians. Its holy book, the Koran, stated that some were genuine and others were false.

    THE SECOND STAGE (CALLED THE
    PROPHECY OF "THE SECOND WOE"
    - from 1449 to 1840)

    It was during this second Muslim period that the 16th century Reformation took place in Europe. Some of those within the ruling church of Rome were protesting its errors. Chief among them was a devout priest in Germany - Martin Luther.

    The Vatican passed a death decree against the Protestants and the priests were stirring up the people to have the Protestants put to death.

    The kings obedient to Rome united their swords to strike, and with a blow so decisive that they should not need to strike a second time,

    It was the Muslim Turk who suddenly stepped forward, although he was unaware of what he was doing.

    Soliman, head of the Ottoman Empire, setting out from Constantinople on the 23rd of April, 1526, at the head of a mighty army, and swollen at last to 300,000 Turks, came nearer and nearer to Hungary. The land now shook with terror.

    The Turk became the conducting-rod that drew off the lightning of the Vatican and helped to shield the intended victims.

    Traversing Hungary, the Ottoman host sat down before the walls of Vienna. The hills around that capital were white with their tents, and the fertile plains beneath its walls were trodden by their cavalry. The besiegers were opening trenches, were digging mines, were thundering with their cannon, and already a breach had been made in the walls.

    A few days and Vienna must succumb to the numbers, the impetuosity, and valor of the Ottoman warriors, and a desolate and blood-sprinkled heap would alone remain to mark where it had stood.

    Once the door of Germany burst open, the conquerors would pour along the valley of the Danube, and plant the crescent amid the sacked cities and devastated provinces of the Empire.

    The prospect was a terrible one. A common ruin, like an avalanche on the brow of the Alp, hung suspended above all parties and ranks in Germany, and might at any moment sweep down upon them with resistless fury.

    King Louis set out to stop the advance of the powerful Soliman. On the 29th of August his little army of 27,000 met the multitudinous hordes of Turkey at Mohacz, on the Danube.

    Soliman’s force was fifteen times greater than that of the king. Louis gave the command of his army to the Archbishop of Cologne - who was experienced in war.

    When the king put on his armor on the morning of the battle, he was observed to be deadly pale. All foresaw the issue. ‘Here go 27,000 Hungarians,’ exclaimed Bishop Perenyi, as the host defiled past him.

    By evening the plain of Mohacz was covered with the Hungarian dead, piled up in gory heaps. Twenty-eight princes, five hundred nobles, seven bishops, and twenty thousand warriors lay cold in death.

    Escaping from the scene of carnage, the king and the papal legate sought safety in flight.

    Louis had to cross a black pool which lay in his course; his horse bore him through it, but in climbing the opposite bank the steed fell backward, crushing the monarch, and giving him burial in the marsh. The papal nuncio was taken and slain.

    Having trampled down the king and his army, the Muslim army slaughtered 200,000 of its inhabitants. This calamity, which shocked all Europe, brought rest to the Protestants.

    A Muslim history records that "In the 16th and 17th centuries support and encouragement for Protestants and Calvinists... were one of the fundamental principles of Ottoman policy." (Halil Inalcik, "The Heyday and Decline of the Ottoman Empire" in History of Islam, pp.325-329)

    "There would have been no Protestantism had there been no Turk." (Kenneth Oster, Islam Reconsidered, p.72)

    Thus we find that Islamic forces, in the form of the Ottoman Turks, were instruments for the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy.

    Constantinople (the capital of the Eastern Roman empire) fell into the hands of Muslims. The Eastern Roman empire collapsed. Today that same city is named Istanbul, Turkey.


    THE THIRD STAGE (CALLED THE
    PROPHECY OF "THE THIRD WOE" -
    or what today's Muslims term
    "the Third Jihad")

    As in the "First" and "Second Woe" periods, so in the coming "Third Woe" we can expect the hand of Globalist oppression to be raised, ready to punish dissenters who follow their consciences, when suddenly and unexpectedly radical Islam strikes. Then the oppressing government
    is distracted while it "restrains" radical Islam and those who stand faithful to the Creator are largely sheltered.


    The target of Islam has always been a corrupted religious-political system.

    Islamic forces will be instruments, both for protection of those who live right and for punishment of those who are enforcing oppressive laws for what they claim to be "the common good".

    In a nutshell, Islam has a surprising two-fold role in prophecy and history - to punish the oppressor and at the same time to shelter the oppressed.


    WORLD-CHANGING EVENTS
    POISED READY TO BREAK

    , if you didn't know, events have started to happen in Europe, USA and Australia right now that are set to change the world overnight.

    Big upheavals are coming to your life and that of your family members. And I'm still in shock after 15 months of checking and re-checking some ancient prophecies that foretell what is happening. Then, after that, what's going to come.


    IN OUR DAY - and what is coming.

    (Yes, archaeology zooms in on ancient documents - and am I grateful that we discovered these just in time! You'll be glad too.)


    The fuse is burning and the clock is ticking!


    TO HELP YOU KNOW

    These prophecies are so urgent that I have placed all else on hold, and worked hard to get these ready for you - so you can get hold of these as quickly as possible.

    We've placed them On DVD so that you will be able to see events before they happen.

    . may I emphasise that these are the most important DVDs I have ever produced in my life. They will give you a clear advantage.


    Here they are, in 4 parts:


    DVD 1. THE INVASION OF AMERICA,
    EUROPE, AND AUSTRALIA
    * Terrorists swarming into position among millions of
    refugees... ready.
    * The rescue plan you need to know
    * Amazing prophecies come true
    * How a family feud 4,000 years old is triggering events
    in Europe, America and West right now!
    * Also enjoy the most beautiful true love story you have
    ever heard
    * Why do the fearless armed Arabs of Iraq refuse to sleep
    overnight in the ruins of ancient Babylon?
    * Why did a famous general suddenly divert his army from attacking his helpless enemy?
    * Why did a traffic officer pay the speeding ticket for the
    driver he had just fined?
    * The amazing Daniel 11 prophecy - foretold in plain language and fulfilling right now.

    DVD 2. WHY THE VATICAN CREATED ISLAM
    * Who is controlling the power moves?
    * Were you aware that the world's biggest, richest and most powerful organization today was founded by a con man who practised magic?
    * Also, discover some of history's oddest and most amazing events
    * What induced two cannibal tribes fighting to the death to suddenly interrupt the battle and make peace?
    * How did a loaf of bread baking in the oven stop a family
    from being brutally murdered?
    * were you aware that a simple covering of water vapor
    destroyed an army of 23,000?
    * Would you like to know the startling reason why the Vatican created Islam?

    DVD 3. THE COMING MUSLIM EMPIRE AND ISRAEL
    * Will the emerging Muslim Caliphate seize Jerusalem?
    * See prophecies 2,500 years old that are coming to pass AT THIS MOMENT
    * The coming invasion of America
    * What big shock is in store for Protestant prophecy preachers?
    * Learn of the secret pact between the Zionists and Hitler
    * What about the Vatican's own plan to take Jerusalem?
    * Learn about the amazing "Three Woes" "Three Jihads" prophecy
    * Discover how a group of assassins saved those they were meant
    to kill and killed those they were supposed to spare!

    DVD 4. WORLD WAR 3 AND HOW TO SURVIVE
    * ISIS, CIA and Vatican connection
    * What the elite has planned for you - political... financial...
    religious...
    * And how to prepare for your family's survival
    * How can disasters be turned around to your advantage?
    * Four reasons why Rome wants to pit Islam against America
    * Were you aware of the surprising dual role Islam plays in history: destruction of evil and rescue of fugitives?
    * The most amazing prophecy: how global Islam will come to its end
    * And another prophecy has revealed in startling detail the Vatican's rise and its sudden coming dramatic end

    This four-part DVD report not only exposes the shocking truth of who is behind today's global moves (most people won't get this right!) - but also what practical steps you can take to rescue yourself and your family from the imminent dangers that are soon to be unleashed upon the world. You can be SAFE if you plan this carefully.

    AND YOU ALSO GET THIS FREE BONUS DVD:
    THE EAST AWAKE!
    * Who will win the coming war?
    * The impending mega earthquake. Cities topple, islands sink, the grid dies.
    * And what is the Second Coming? What will happen?

    Here is where, as a valued subscriber, you can claim this
    blockbuster package this week at the reduced introductory price...

    Just go to http://www.beforeus.com/islam.html to claim your special package right now.

    Best wishes
    Jonathan Gray

    DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

    Please email me your questions. I am here to help you with any questions on ancient mysteries. Just email me at
    info@archaeologyanswers.com

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Did you enjoy this information?

    If you know someone who would find these facts interesting, Click the URL below now to email it to them, or copy and paste this URL into your browser. http://www.beforeus.com

    You are welcome to put it on your own website exactly as it is, without change, including our email address.

    ===============================================
    International explorer, archaeologist and author Jonathan Gray has traveled the world to gather data on ancient mysteries. He has penetrated some largely unexplored areas, including parts of the Amazon headwaters. The author has also led expeditions to the bottom of the sea and to remote mountain and desert regions of the world. He lectures internationally.
    ===============================================
    ARCHAEOLOGY NEWSFLASH 764 Why did killers protect their intended victims? THE "DESTROYER" TURNS "PROTECTOR" Religious or not, Islam is now a force to be noticed. But what very few leaders, political or religious, seem aware of, and what the media won't tell, and what 997 out of 1,000 people don't know, is this: Islam's rise from the Arabian desert, its surprising strategy that would stun historians, and its bizarra final destiny - all this was accurately foretold by ancient prophets. Are you sitting down? Islam was created in the 7th century by a certain European power to do a specific job. Vatican intelligence agents have documented the whole gripping story,detail by detail. In brief, the fearless Arab tribes were organized into an "army",with instructions to convert or eliminate certain people in North Africa and the Middle East. Muhammed was carefully groomed for this purpose. ORIGINAL PLAN BACK-FIRES But it did not work out quite as planned. After they had tasted a fair measure of success, these wild horsemen decided to do their own thing. They turned against their sponsors and proceeded to protect many whom they were meant to destroy. In the ancient prophecies about Islam, three stages of future Muslim history were laid out in advance. THE FIRST STAGE (CALLED THE PROPHECY OF "THE FIRST WOE") During the time of Muhammad and shortly thereafter were men who loved the Creator and were following His ways to the best of their knowledge. According to the prophecy, a command would be given not to “hurt” them. After the death of Muhammed, he was succeeded in the command by Abubeker, A. D. 632; who, as soon as he was firmly in power, sent a circular letter to the Arabian tribes, of which the following is an extract. "Destroy no palm trees, nor burn any field of corn. Cut down no fruit trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat... "As you go on, you will find some religious persons, who propose to themselves to serve God that way: let them alone... And you will find another sort of people that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns; be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter, till they either turn Mahometans or pay tribute'." (Edward Gibbon Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol.V:489-490) Roman Catholic monks shaved their heads in a circle shape of the sun when they were ordained priests. This circular tonsure was a sign of the sun god. Islam from the beginning made a clear distinction between different groups of Christians. Its holy book, the Koran, stated that some were genuine and others were false. THE SECOND STAGE (CALLED THE PROPHECY OF "THE SECOND WOE" - from 1449 to 1840) It was during this second Muslim period that the 16th century Reformation took place in Europe. Some of those within the ruling church of Rome were protesting its errors. Chief among them was a devout priest in Germany - Martin Luther. The Vatican passed a death decree against the Protestants and the priests were stirring up the people to have the Protestants put to death. The kings obedient to Rome united their swords to strike, and with a blow so decisive that they should not need to strike a second time, It was the Muslim Turk who suddenly stepped forward, although he was unaware of what he was doing. Soliman, head of the Ottoman Empire, setting out from Constantinople on the 23rd of April, 1526, at the head of a mighty army, and swollen at last to 300,000 Turks, came nearer and nearer to Hungary. The land now shook with terror. The Turk became the conducting-rod that drew off the lightning of the Vatican and helped to shield the intended victims. Traversing Hungary, the Ottoman host sat down before the walls of Vienna. The hills around that capital were white with their tents, and the fertile plains beneath its walls were trodden by their cavalry. The besiegers were opening trenches, were digging mines, were thundering with their cannon, and already a breach had been made in the walls. A few days and Vienna must succumb to the numbers, the impetuosity, and valor of the Ottoman warriors, and a desolate and blood-sprinkled heap would alone remain to mark where it had stood. Once the door of Germany burst open, the conquerors would pour along the valley of the Danube, and plant the crescent amid the sacked cities and devastated provinces of the Empire. The prospect was a terrible one. A common ruin, like an avalanche on the brow of the Alp, hung suspended above all parties and ranks in Germany, and might at any moment sweep down upon them with resistless fury. King Louis set out to stop the advance of the powerful Soliman. On the 29th of August his little army of 27,000 met the multitudinous hordes of Turkey at Mohacz, on the Danube. Soliman’s force was fifteen times greater than that of the king. Louis gave the command of his army to the Archbishop of Cologne - who was experienced in war. When the king put on his armor on the morning of the battle, he was observed to be deadly pale. All foresaw the issue. ‘Here go 27,000 Hungarians,’ exclaimed Bishop Perenyi, as the host defiled past him. By evening the plain of Mohacz was covered with the Hungarian dead, piled up in gory heaps. Twenty-eight princes, five hundred nobles, seven bishops, and twenty thousand warriors lay cold in death. Escaping from the scene of carnage, the king and the papal legate sought safety in flight. Louis had to cross a black pool which lay in his course; his horse bore him through it, but in climbing the opposite bank the steed fell backward, crushing the monarch, and giving him burial in the marsh. The papal nuncio was taken and slain. Having trampled down the king and his army, the Muslim army slaughtered 200,000 of its inhabitants. This calamity, which shocked all Europe, brought rest to the Protestants. A Muslim history records that "In the 16th and 17th centuries support and encouragement for Protestants and Calvinists... were one of the fundamental principles of Ottoman policy." (Halil Inalcik, "The Heyday and Decline of the Ottoman Empire" in History of Islam, pp.325-329) "There would have been no Protestantism had there been no Turk." (Kenneth Oster, Islam Reconsidered, p.72) Thus we find that Islamic forces, in the form of the Ottoman Turks, were instruments for the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy. Constantinople (the capital of the Eastern Roman empire) fell into the hands of Muslims. The Eastern Roman empire collapsed. Today that same city is named Istanbul, Turkey. THE THIRD STAGE (CALLED THE PROPHECY OF "THE THIRD WOE" - or what today's Muslims term "the Third Jihad") As in the "First" and "Second Woe" periods, so in the coming "Third Woe" we can expect the hand of Globalist oppression to be raised, ready to punish dissenters who follow their consciences, when suddenly and unexpectedly radical Islam strikes. Then the oppressing government is distracted while it "restrains" radical Islam and those who stand faithful to the Creator are largely sheltered. The target of Islam has always been a corrupted religious-political system. Islamic forces will be instruments, both for protection of those who live right and for punishment of those who are enforcing oppressive laws for what they claim to be "the common good". In a nutshell, Islam has a surprising two-fold role in prophecy and history - to punish the oppressor and at the same time to shelter the oppressed. WORLD-CHANGING EVENTS POISED READY TO BREAK , if you didn't know, events have started to happen in Europe, USA and Australia right now that are set to change the world overnight. Big upheavals are coming to your life and that of your family members. And I'm still in shock after 15 months of checking and re-checking some ancient prophecies that foretell what is happening. Then, after that, what's going to come. IN OUR DAY - and what is coming. (Yes, archaeology zooms in on ancient documents - and am I grateful that we discovered these just in time! You'll be glad too.) The fuse is burning and the clock is ticking! TO HELP YOU KNOW These prophecies are so urgent that I have placed all else on hold, and worked hard to get these ready for you - so you can get hold of these as quickly as possible. We've placed them On DVD so that you will be able to see events before they happen. . may I emphasise that these are the most important DVDs I have ever produced in my life. They will give you a clear advantage. Here they are, in 4 parts: DVD 1. THE INVASION OF AMERICA, EUROPE, AND AUSTRALIA * Terrorists swarming into position among millions of refugees... ready. * The rescue plan you need to know * Amazing prophecies come true * How a family feud 4,000 years old is triggering events in Europe, America and West right now! * Also enjoy the most beautiful true love story you have ever heard * Why do the fearless armed Arabs of Iraq refuse to sleep overnight in the ruins of ancient Babylon? * Why did a famous general suddenly divert his army from attacking his helpless enemy? * Why did a traffic officer pay the speeding ticket for the driver he had just fined? * The amazing Daniel 11 prophecy - foretold in plain language and fulfilling right now. DVD 2. WHY THE VATICAN CREATED ISLAM * Who is controlling the power moves? * Were you aware that the world's biggest, richest and most powerful organization today was founded by a con man who practised magic? * Also, discover some of history's oddest and most amazing events * What induced two cannibal tribes fighting to the death to suddenly interrupt the battle and make peace? * How did a loaf of bread baking in the oven stop a family from being brutally murdered? * were you aware that a simple covering of water vapor destroyed an army of 23,000? * Would you like to know the startling reason why the Vatican created Islam? DVD 3. THE COMING MUSLIM EMPIRE AND ISRAEL * Will the emerging Muslim Caliphate seize Jerusalem? * See prophecies 2,500 years old that are coming to pass AT THIS MOMENT * The coming invasion of America * What big shock is in store for Protestant prophecy preachers? * Learn of the secret pact between the Zionists and Hitler * What about the Vatican's own plan to take Jerusalem? * Learn about the amazing "Three Woes" "Three Jihads" prophecy * Discover how a group of assassins saved those they were meant to kill and killed those they were supposed to spare! DVD 4. WORLD WAR 3 AND HOW TO SURVIVE * ISIS, CIA and Vatican connection * What the elite has planned for you - political... financial... religious... * And how to prepare for your family's survival * How can disasters be turned around to your advantage? * Four reasons why Rome wants to pit Islam against America * Were you aware of the surprising dual role Islam plays in history: destruction of evil and rescue of fugitives? * The most amazing prophecy: how global Islam will come to its end * And another prophecy has revealed in startling detail the Vatican's rise and its sudden coming dramatic end This four-part DVD report not only exposes the shocking truth of who is behind today's global moves (most people won't get this right!) - but also what practical steps you can take to rescue yourself and your family from the imminent dangers that are soon to be unleashed upon the world. You can be SAFE if you plan this carefully. AND YOU ALSO GET THIS FREE BONUS DVD: THE EAST AWAKE! * Who will win the coming war? * The impending mega earthquake. Cities topple, islands sink, the grid dies. * And what is the Second Coming? What will happen? Here is where, as a valued subscriber, you can claim this blockbuster package this week at the reduced introductory price... Just go to http://www.beforeus.com/islam.html to claim your special package right now. Best wishes Jonathan Gray DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS? Please email me your questions. I am here to help you with any questions on ancient mysteries. Just email me at info@archaeologyanswers.com -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Did you enjoy this information? If you know someone who would find these facts interesting, Click the URL below now to email it to them, or copy and paste this URL into your browser. http://www.beforeus.com You are welcome to put it on your own website exactly as it is, without change, including our email address. =============================================== International explorer, archaeologist and author Jonathan Gray has traveled the world to gather data on ancient mysteries. He has penetrated some largely unexplored areas, including parts of the Amazon headwaters. The author has also led expeditions to the bottom of the sea and to remote mountain and desert regions of the world. He lectures internationally. ===============================================
    Would you like to know more
    WWW.BEFOREUS.COM
    1
    0 Comments 0 Shares
  • The Trust Project: Big Media and Silicon Valley’s Weaponized Algorithms Silence Dissent
    https://desultoryheroics.com/2019/06/18/the-trust-project-big-media-and-silicon-valleys-weaponized-algorithms-silence-dissent/
    Posted By Luther Blissett By Whitney Webb: Mintpress News 6/18/19

    After the failure of Newsguard — the news rating system backed by a cadre of prominent neoconservative personalities — to gain traction among American tech and social media companies, another organization has quietly stepped in to direct the news algorithms of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

    Though different from Newsguard, this group, known as “The Trust Project,” has a similar goal of restoring “trust” in corporate, mainstream media outlets, relative to independent alternatives, by applying “trust indicators” to social-media news algorithms in a decidedly nontransparent way.

    The funding of “The Trust Project” — coming largely from big tech companies like Google; government-connected tech oligarchs like Pierre Omidyar; and the Knight Foundation, a key Newsguard investor — suggests that an ulterior motive in its tireless promotion of “traditional” mainstream media outlets is to limit the success of dissenting alternatives.

    Of particular importance is the fact that the Trust Project’s “trust indicators” are already being used to control what news is promoted and suppressed by top search engines like Google and Bing and massive social-media networks like Facebook.

    Though the descriptions of these “trust indicators” — eight of which are currently in use — are publicly available, the way they are being used by major tech and social media companies is not.

    The Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in favored news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives.

    Even if its effort to promote “trust” in establishment media fail, its embedded-code hidden within participating news sites allow those establishment outlets to skirt the same algorithms currently targeting their independent competition, making such issues of “trust” largely irrelevant as it moves to homogenize the online media landscape in favor of mainstream media.

    The Trust Project’s director, Sally Lehrman, made it clear that, in her view, the lack of public trust in mainstream media and its declining readership is the result of unwanted “competition by principle-free enterprises [that] further undermines its [journalism’s] very role and purpose as an engine for democracy.”

    Getting to know the Trust Project

    The Trust Project describes itself as “a consortium of top news companies” involved in developing “transparency standards that help you easily assess the quality and credibility of journalism.”

    It has done this by creating what it calls “Trust Indicators,” which the project’s website describes as “a digital standard that meets people’s needs.”

    However, far from meeting “people’s needs,” the Trust Indicators seem aimed at manipulating search engine and social-media news algorithms to the benefit of the project’s media partners, rather than to the benefit of the general public.

    The origins of the Trust Project date back to a 2012 “roundtable” hosted by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, a center funded by former Apple CEO Mike Markkula.

    That roundtable became known as the Roundtable on Digital Journalism Ethics and was created by journalist Sally Lehrman, then working at the Markkula Center, in connection with the New Media Executive Roundtable and Online Credibility Watch of the Society of Professional Journalists.

    Lehrman has explicitly stated that the Trust Project is open only to “news organizations that adhere to traditional standards.”

    The specific idea that spurred the creation of the Trust Project itself was born at a 2014 meeting of that roundtable, when Lehrman “asked a specialist in machine learning at Twitter, and Richard Gingras, head of Google News, if algorithms could be used to support ethics instead of hurting them, and they said yes.

    Gingras agreed to collaborate.” In other words, the idea behind the Trust Project, from the start, was aimed at gaming search-engine and social-media algorithms in collusion with major tech companies like Google and Twitter.

    As the Trust Project itself notes, the means of altering algorithms were developed in tandem with tech-giant executives like Gingras and “top editors in the industry from 80 news outlets and institutions,” all of which are corporate, mainstream media outlets.

    Notably, the Trust Project’s media partners, involved in creating these new “standards” for news algorithms, include major publications owned by wealthy oligarchs: the Washington Post, owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos; the Economist, directed by the wealthy Rothschild family; and the Globe and Mail, owned by Canada’s richest family, the Thomsons, who also own Thomson Reuters.

    Other Trust Project partners include The New York Times, Mic, Hearst Television, the BBC and the USA Today network.

    Other major outlets are represented on the News Leadership Council of the Markkula Center, including the Financial Times, Gizmodo Media, and The Wall Street Journal.

    That council — which also includes Gingras and Andrew Anker, Facebook’s Director of Product Management — “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators.”

    These “Trust Indicators” are the core of the Trust Project’s activities and reveal one of the key mechanisms through which Google, Twitter and Facebook have been altering their algorithms to favor outlets with good “Trust Indicator” scores.

    Trust Indicators, on their face, are aimed at making news publications “more transparent” as a means of generating increased trust with the public.

    Though a total of 37 have been developed, it appears only eight of them are currently being used.

    These eight indicators are listed and described by the Trust Project as follows:

    Best Practices: What are the news outlet’s standards? Who funds it? What is the outlet’s mission? Plus commitments to ethics, diverse voices, accuracy, making corrections and other standards.

    Author/Reporter Expertise: Who made this? Details about the journalist, including their expertise and other stories they have worked on.

    Type of Work: What is this? Labels to distinguish opinion, analysis and advertiser (or sponsored) content from news reports.

    Citations and References: What’s the source? For investigative or in-depth stories, access to the sources behind the facts and assertions.

    Methods: How was it built? Also for in-depth stories, information about why reporters chose to pursue a story and how they went about the process.

    Locally Sourced? Was the reporting done on the scene, with deep knowledge about the local situation or community? Lets you know when the story has local origin or expertise.

    Diverse Voices: What are the newsroom’s efforts and commitments to bringing in diverse perspectives? Readers noticed when certain voices, ethnicities, or political persuasions were missing.

    Actionable Feedback: Can we participate? A newsroom’s efforts to engage the public’s help in setting coverage priorities, contributing to the reporting process, ensuring accuracy and other areas. Readers want to participate and provide feedback that might alter or expand a story.

    How the Trust Project makes these indicators available to the public can be seen in its new project, the Newsroom Transparency Tracker, where it provides a table of “transparency” for participating media outlets.

    Notably, that table conflates actual transparency practices with simply providing the Trust Project with outlet policies and guidelines related to the above indicators.

    For example, The Economist gets a perfect transparency “score” for having provided the Trust Project links to its ethics policy, mission statement and other information requested by the project.

    However, the fact that those policies exist and are provided to the Trust Project does not mean that the publication’s policies are, in fact, transparent or ethical in terms of their content or in practice.

    The fact that The Economist provided links to its policies does not make the publication more transparent, but — in the context of the Newsroom Transparency Tracker’s table — it provides the appearance of transparency, though such policy disclosures by The Economist are unlikely to translate into any changes to its well-known biases and slanted reporting towards certain issues.

    Trust Indicators manipulate big tech algorithms

    The true power of the Trust Indicators comes in a form that is not visible to the general public.

    These Trust Indicators, while occasionally displayed on partner websites, are also coupled with “machine-readable signals” embedded in the HTML code of participating websites and articles used by Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter.

    As Lehrman noted in a 2017 article, the Trust Project was then “already working with these four companies, all of which have said they want to use our indicators to prioritize honest, well-reported news over fakery and falsehood.”

    Gingras of Google News also noted that the Trust Indicators are used by Google as “cues to help search engines better understand and rank results … [and] to help the myriad algorithmic systems that mold our media lives.”

    A press release from the Trust Project last year further underscores the importance of the embedded “indicators” to alter social-media and search-engine algorithms:

    While each Indicator is visible to users on the pages of the Project’s news partners, it is also embedded in the article and site code for machines to read — providing the first, standardized technical language that offers contextual information about news sites’ commitments to transparency.”

    Despite claiming to increase public knowledge of “news sites’ commitments to transparency,” the way that major tech companies like Google and Facebook are using these indicators is anything but transparent.

    Indeed, it is largely unknown how these indicators are used, though there are a few clues.

    For instance, CBS News cited Craig Newmark — the billionaire founder of Craigslist, who provided the Trust Project’s seed funding — as suggesting that “Google’s search algorithm could rank trusted sources above others in search results” by using the project’s Trust Indicators.

    Last year, the Trust Project stated that Bing used “the ‘Type of Work’ Trust Indicator to display whether an article is news, opinion or analysis.”

    It also stated that “when Facebook launched its process to index news Pages, they worked with the Trust Project to make it easy for any publisher to add optional information about their Page.”

    In Google’s case, Gingras was quoted as saying that Google News uses the indicators “to assess the relative authoritativeness of news organizations and authors. We’re looking forward to developing new ways to use the indicators.”

    Notably, the machine-readable version of these Trust Indicators is available only to participating institutions, which are currently corporate, mainstream publications.

    Though WordPress and Drupal plug-ins are being developed to make those embedded signals to search engines and social media available to smaller publishers, it will be made available only to “qualified publishers,” a determination that will presumably be made by the Trust Project and its associates.

    Richard Gingras, in a statement made in 2017, noted that “the indicators can help our algorithms better understand authoritative journalism — and help us to better surface it to consumers.”

    Thus, it is abundantly clear that these indicators, which are embedded only into “qualified” and “authoritative” news websites, will be used to slant search-engine and social-media news algorithms in favor of establishment news websites.

    The bottom line is that these embedded and exclusive indicators allow certain news outlets to avoid the crushing effects of recent algorithm changes that have seen traffic to many news websites, including MintPress, plummet in recent years.

    This is leading towards a homogenization of the online news landscape by starving independent competitors of web traffic while Trust Project-approved outlets are given an escape valve through algorithm manipulation.

    The tech billionaires behind the Trust Project

    Given the Trust Project’s rich-get-richer impact on the online news landscape, it is not surprising to find that it is funded by rich and powerful figures and forces with a clear stake in controlling the flow of news and information online.

    According to its website, the Trust Project currently receives funding from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Google, Facebook, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (often abbreviated as the Knight Foundation), and the Markkula Foundation.

    Its website also states that Google was “an early financial supporter” and that it had originally been funded by Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.

    As previously mentioned, the Trust Project’s co-founder is Richard Gingras, current Google vice president of News.

    The Trust Project’s website described Gingras’s current role with the organization as “a powerful evangelist” who “can always be counted upon for expert advice and encouragement.”

    Newmark’s current role at the Trust Project is described as that of a “funder and valued connector.”

    Newmark, through Craig Newmark Philanthropies, who provided the initial funding for the Trust Project, and has also funded other related initiatives like the News Integrity Initiative at the City University of New York, which shares many of the same financiers as the Trust Project, including Facebook, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, and the Knight Foundation.

    The Trust Project is listed as a collaborator of the News Integrity Initiative. Newmark is also very active in several news-related NGOs with similar overlap. For instance, he sits on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a longtime recipient of massive grants from the Omidyar Network, and Politifact[dot]com, which is funded in part by Omidyar’s Democracy Fund.

    Newmark is currently working with Vivian Schiller as his “strategic adviser” in his media investments.

    Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former head of news at Twitter, and a veteran of well-known mainstream outlets like NPR, CNN, The New York Times and NBC News. She is also a director of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian.

    The Markkula Foundation, one of the key funders of the Trust Project, exercises considerable influence over the organization through the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, which originally incubated the organization and whose News Leadership Council plays an important role at the Trust Project.

    That council’s membership includes representatives of Facebook, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Financial Times and Google, and “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators and advises on core issues related to information literacy and rebuilding trust in journalism within a fractious, so-called post-fact environment.”

    Both the Markkula Foundation and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics were founded by A. M. “Mike” Markkula, former CEO of Apple.

    The Markkula Center’s Journalism Ethics program is currently headed by Subramaniam Vincent, a former software engineer and consultant for Intel and Cisco Systems who has worked to bring together big data with local journalism and is an advocate for the use of “ethical-AI [artificial intelligence] to ingest, sort, and classify news.”

    The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is another interesting funder of the Trust Project, given that this same foundation is also a key investor in Newsguard, the controversial, biased news rating system with deep connections to government insiders and self-described government propagandists.

    There is considerable overlap between Newsguard and the Trust Project, with the latter citing Newsguard as a partner and also stating that Newsguard’s demonstrably biased ratings use the project’s “trust indicators” in its full-length reviews of news websites, which Newsguard calls “nutrition labels.”

    In addition, becoming a Trust Project participant is a factor that “supports a positive evaluation” from Newsguard, according to a press release from last year.

    Notably, Sally Lehrman, who leads the Trust Project, described the project’s trust indicators for news as ”along the lines of a nutrition label on a package of food” when the Trust Project was created nearly a year before Newsguard launched, suggesting some intellectual overlap.

    A previous MintPress exposé revealed Newsguard’s numerous conflicts of interest and a ratings system strongly biased in favor of well-known, traditional media outlets — even when those outlets have a dubious track record of promoting so-called “fake news.”

    It should come as no surprise that the Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives.

    A familiar face in the war against independent media

    The Democracy Fund, another top funder of the Trust Project and a bipartisan foundation that was established by eBay founder and PayPal owner Omidyar in 2011 “out of deep respect for the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s core democratic values.”

    It is a spin-off of the Omidyar Network and, after splitting off as an independent company in 2014, became a member of the Omidyar Group.

    The fund’s National Advisory Committee includes former Bush and Obama administration officials and representatives of Facebook, Microsoft, NBC News, ABC News and Gizmodo Media group.

    The Democracy Fund’s involvement in the Trust Project is notable because of the other media projects it funds, such as the new media empire of arch-neoconservative Bill Kristol, who has a long history of creating and disseminating falsehoods that have been used to justify the U.S. war in Iraq and other hawkish foreign policy stances.

    As a recent MintPress series revealed, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund provides financial support to Kristol’s Defending Democracy Together initiative and also supports Kristol’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund think tank that is best known for its cryptic Hamilton68 “Russian bot” dashboard.

    Omidyar’s Democracy Fund has also donated to the German Marshall Fund’s Defending Digital Democracy project and directly to the German Marshall Fund itself. In addition, Charles Sykes, a co-founder and editor-at-large of Kristol’s new publication The Bulwark, is on the Democracy Fund’s National Advisory Committee.

    An acolyte of Kristol’s who works at the German Marshall Fund, Jamie Fly, stated last October that the coordinated social-media purges of independent media pages known for their criticisms of U.S. empire and U.S. police violence was “just the beginning” and hinted that the German Marshall Fund had a hand in past social media purges and, presumably, a role in future purges.

    Thus, the Democracy Fund’s links to neoconservatives who promote the censoring of independent media sites that are critical of militaristic U.S. foreign policy jibe with the fund’s underlying interest in the Trust Project.

    Omidyar’s involvement with the Trust Project is interesting for another reason, namely that Omidyar is the main backer behind the efforts of the controversial Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to become a key driver of which outlets are censored by Silicon Valley tech giants.

    The ADL was initially founded to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” but critics say that over the years it has begun labeling critics of Israel’s government as “anti-Semites.”

    For example, content that characterizes Israeli policies towards Palestinians as “racist” or “apartheid-like” is considered “hate speech” by the ADL, as is accusing Israel of war crimes or attempted ethnic cleansing.

    The ADL has even described explicitly Jewish organizations that are critical of Israel’s government as being “anti-Semitic.”

    In March 2017, the Omidyar Network provided the “critical seed capital” need to launch the ADL’s “new Silicon Valley center aimed at tackling this rising wave of intolerance and to collaborate more closely with technology companies to promote democracy and social justice.”

    That Omidyar-funded ADL center allowed the ADL to team up with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft — all of whom also collaborate with the Trust Project — to create a Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab. Since then, these companies and their subsidiaries, including Google’s YouTube, have relied on the ADL to flag “controversial” content.

    Given the fact that the Trust Project shares with the ADL a key funder (Pierre Omidyar) and several external tech partners, it remains to be seen whether there is overlap between how major tech companies like Google and Facebook use the Trust Indicators in its algorithms and the influence of the ADL on those very same algorithms.

    What is clear however is that there exists an undeniable overlap given the fact that Craig Newmark, who provided the seed funding for the Trust Project and continues to fund it, is also a key donor and advisor to the ADL.

    In 2017, Newmark gave $100,000 to the ADL’s Incident Response Center and is a member of the group’s tech advisory board.

    Outsourcing censorship

    Of course, the most interesting and troubling donors of the Trust Project are Google and Facebook, both of which are using the very project they fund as a “third party” to justify their manipulation of newsfeed and search-engine algorithms.

    Google’s intimate involvement from the very inception of the Trust Project tags it as an extension of Google that has since been marketed as an “independent” organization tasked with justifying algorithm changes that favor certain news outlets over others.

    Facebook, similarly, funds the Trust Project and also employs the “trust indicators” it funds to alter its newsfeed algorithm.

    Facebook’s other partners in altering this algorithm include the Atlantic Council — funded by the U.S. government, NATO, and weapons manufacturers, among others — and Facebook has also directly teamed up with foreign governments, such as the government of Israel, to suppress accurate yet dissenting information that the government in question wanted removed from the social-media platform.

    The murkiness between “private” censorship, censorship by tech oligarchs, and censorship by government is particularly marked in the Trust Project.

    The private financiers of the Trust Project that also use its product to promote certain news content over others — namely Google and Facebook — have ties to the U.S. government, with Google being a government contractor and Facebook sporting a growing body of former-government officials in top company positions, including a co-author of the controversial Patriot Act as the company’s general counsel.

    A similar tangle surrounds Pierre Omidyar, funder of the Trust Project through the Democracy Fund, who is extremely well-connected to the U.S. government, especially the military-industrial complex and intelligence communities.

    And partnering with media outlets like the Washington Post, whose owner is Jeff Bezos, spawns more conflicts of interests, given that Bezos’ company, Amazon, is also a major U.S. government contractor.

    This growing nexus binding Silicon Valley companies and oligarchs, mainstream media outlets and the government suggests that these entities have increasingly similar and complementary interests, among which is the censorship of independent watchdog journalists and news outlets that seek to challenge their power and narratives.

    The Trust Project was created as a way of outsourcing censorship of independent news sites while attempting to salvage the tattered reputation of mainstream media outlets and return the U.S. and international media landscape to years past when such outlets were able to dominate the narrative.

    While it seems unlikely that’s its initiatives will succeed in restoring trust to mainstream media given the many recent and continuing examples of those same “traditional” media outlets circulating fake news and failing to cover crucial aspects of events, the Trust Project’s development of hidden algorithm-altering codes in participating websites shows that its real goal is not about improving public trust but about providing a facade of independence to Silicon Valley censorship of independent media outlets that speak truth to power.
    The Trust Project: Big Media and Silicon Valley’s Weaponized Algorithms Silence Dissent https://desultoryheroics.com/2019/06/18/the-trust-project-big-media-and-silicon-valleys-weaponized-algorithms-silence-dissent/ Posted By Luther Blissett By Whitney Webb: Mintpress News 6/18/19 After the failure of Newsguard — the news rating system backed by a cadre of prominent neoconservative personalities — to gain traction among American tech and social media companies, another organization has quietly stepped in to direct the news algorithms of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Though different from Newsguard, this group, known as “The Trust Project,” has a similar goal of restoring “trust” in corporate, mainstream media outlets, relative to independent alternatives, by applying “trust indicators” to social-media news algorithms in a decidedly nontransparent way. The funding of “The Trust Project” — coming largely from big tech companies like Google; government-connected tech oligarchs like Pierre Omidyar; and the Knight Foundation, a key Newsguard investor — suggests that an ulterior motive in its tireless promotion of “traditional” mainstream media outlets is to limit the success of dissenting alternatives. Of particular importance is the fact that the Trust Project’s “trust indicators” are already being used to control what news is promoted and suppressed by top search engines like Google and Bing and massive social-media networks like Facebook. Though the descriptions of these “trust indicators” — eight of which are currently in use — are publicly available, the way they are being used by major tech and social media companies is not. The Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in favored news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives. Even if its effort to promote “trust” in establishment media fail, its embedded-code hidden within participating news sites allow those establishment outlets to skirt the same algorithms currently targeting their independent competition, making such issues of “trust” largely irrelevant as it moves to homogenize the online media landscape in favor of mainstream media. The Trust Project’s director, Sally Lehrman, made it clear that, in her view, the lack of public trust in mainstream media and its declining readership is the result of unwanted “competition by principle-free enterprises [that] further undermines its [journalism’s] very role and purpose as an engine for democracy.” Getting to know the Trust Project The Trust Project describes itself as “a consortium of top news companies” involved in developing “transparency standards that help you easily assess the quality and credibility of journalism.” It has done this by creating what it calls “Trust Indicators,” which the project’s website describes as “a digital standard that meets people’s needs.” However, far from meeting “people’s needs,” the Trust Indicators seem aimed at manipulating search engine and social-media news algorithms to the benefit of the project’s media partners, rather than to the benefit of the general public. The origins of the Trust Project date back to a 2012 “roundtable” hosted by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, a center funded by former Apple CEO Mike Markkula. That roundtable became known as the Roundtable on Digital Journalism Ethics and was created by journalist Sally Lehrman, then working at the Markkula Center, in connection with the New Media Executive Roundtable and Online Credibility Watch of the Society of Professional Journalists. Lehrman has explicitly stated that the Trust Project is open only to “news organizations that adhere to traditional standards.” The specific idea that spurred the creation of the Trust Project itself was born at a 2014 meeting of that roundtable, when Lehrman “asked a specialist in machine learning at Twitter, and Richard Gingras, head of Google News, if algorithms could be used to support ethics instead of hurting them, and they said yes. Gingras agreed to collaborate.” In other words, the idea behind the Trust Project, from the start, was aimed at gaming search-engine and social-media algorithms in collusion with major tech companies like Google and Twitter. As the Trust Project itself notes, the means of altering algorithms were developed in tandem with tech-giant executives like Gingras and “top editors in the industry from 80 news outlets and institutions,” all of which are corporate, mainstream media outlets. Notably, the Trust Project’s media partners, involved in creating these new “standards” for news algorithms, include major publications owned by wealthy oligarchs: the Washington Post, owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos; the Economist, directed by the wealthy Rothschild family; and the Globe and Mail, owned by Canada’s richest family, the Thomsons, who also own Thomson Reuters. Other Trust Project partners include The New York Times, Mic, Hearst Television, the BBC and the USA Today network. Other major outlets are represented on the News Leadership Council of the Markkula Center, including the Financial Times, Gizmodo Media, and The Wall Street Journal. That council — which also includes Gingras and Andrew Anker, Facebook’s Director of Product Management — “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators.” These “Trust Indicators” are the core of the Trust Project’s activities and reveal one of the key mechanisms through which Google, Twitter and Facebook have been altering their algorithms to favor outlets with good “Trust Indicator” scores. Trust Indicators, on their face, are aimed at making news publications “more transparent” as a means of generating increased trust with the public. Though a total of 37 have been developed, it appears only eight of them are currently being used. These eight indicators are listed and described by the Trust Project as follows: Best Practices: What are the news outlet’s standards? Who funds it? What is the outlet’s mission? Plus commitments to ethics, diverse voices, accuracy, making corrections and other standards. Author/Reporter Expertise: Who made this? Details about the journalist, including their expertise and other stories they have worked on. Type of Work: What is this? Labels to distinguish opinion, analysis and advertiser (or sponsored) content from news reports. Citations and References: What’s the source? For investigative or in-depth stories, access to the sources behind the facts and assertions. Methods: How was it built? Also for in-depth stories, information about why reporters chose to pursue a story and how they went about the process. Locally Sourced? Was the reporting done on the scene, with deep knowledge about the local situation or community? Lets you know when the story has local origin or expertise. Diverse Voices: What are the newsroom’s efforts and commitments to bringing in diverse perspectives? Readers noticed when certain voices, ethnicities, or political persuasions were missing. Actionable Feedback: Can we participate? A newsroom’s efforts to engage the public’s help in setting coverage priorities, contributing to the reporting process, ensuring accuracy and other areas. Readers want to participate and provide feedback that might alter or expand a story. How the Trust Project makes these indicators available to the public can be seen in its new project, the Newsroom Transparency Tracker, where it provides a table of “transparency” for participating media outlets. Notably, that table conflates actual transparency practices with simply providing the Trust Project with outlet policies and guidelines related to the above indicators. For example, The Economist gets a perfect transparency “score” for having provided the Trust Project links to its ethics policy, mission statement and other information requested by the project. However, the fact that those policies exist and are provided to the Trust Project does not mean that the publication’s policies are, in fact, transparent or ethical in terms of their content or in practice. The fact that The Economist provided links to its policies does not make the publication more transparent, but — in the context of the Newsroom Transparency Tracker’s table — it provides the appearance of transparency, though such policy disclosures by The Economist are unlikely to translate into any changes to its well-known biases and slanted reporting towards certain issues. Trust Indicators manipulate big tech algorithms The true power of the Trust Indicators comes in a form that is not visible to the general public. These Trust Indicators, while occasionally displayed on partner websites, are also coupled with “machine-readable signals” embedded in the HTML code of participating websites and articles used by Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter. As Lehrman noted in a 2017 article, the Trust Project was then “already working with these four companies, all of which have said they want to use our indicators to prioritize honest, well-reported news over fakery and falsehood.” Gingras of Google News also noted that the Trust Indicators are used by Google as “cues to help search engines better understand and rank results … [and] to help the myriad algorithmic systems that mold our media lives.” A press release from the Trust Project last year further underscores the importance of the embedded “indicators” to alter social-media and search-engine algorithms: While each Indicator is visible to users on the pages of the Project’s news partners, it is also embedded in the article and site code for machines to read — providing the first, standardized technical language that offers contextual information about news sites’ commitments to transparency.” Despite claiming to increase public knowledge of “news sites’ commitments to transparency,” the way that major tech companies like Google and Facebook are using these indicators is anything but transparent. Indeed, it is largely unknown how these indicators are used, though there are a few clues. For instance, CBS News cited Craig Newmark — the billionaire founder of Craigslist, who provided the Trust Project’s seed funding — as suggesting that “Google’s search algorithm could rank trusted sources above others in search results” by using the project’s Trust Indicators. Last year, the Trust Project stated that Bing used “the ‘Type of Work’ Trust Indicator to display whether an article is news, opinion or analysis.” It also stated that “when Facebook launched its process to index news Pages, they worked with the Trust Project to make it easy for any publisher to add optional information about their Page.” In Google’s case, Gingras was quoted as saying that Google News uses the indicators “to assess the relative authoritativeness of news organizations and authors. We’re looking forward to developing new ways to use the indicators.” Notably, the machine-readable version of these Trust Indicators is available only to participating institutions, which are currently corporate, mainstream publications. Though WordPress and Drupal plug-ins are being developed to make those embedded signals to search engines and social media available to smaller publishers, it will be made available only to “qualified publishers,” a determination that will presumably be made by the Trust Project and its associates. Richard Gingras, in a statement made in 2017, noted that “the indicators can help our algorithms better understand authoritative journalism — and help us to better surface it to consumers.” Thus, it is abundantly clear that these indicators, which are embedded only into “qualified” and “authoritative” news websites, will be used to slant search-engine and social-media news algorithms in favor of establishment news websites. The bottom line is that these embedded and exclusive indicators allow certain news outlets to avoid the crushing effects of recent algorithm changes that have seen traffic to many news websites, including MintPress, plummet in recent years. This is leading towards a homogenization of the online news landscape by starving independent competitors of web traffic while Trust Project-approved outlets are given an escape valve through algorithm manipulation. The tech billionaires behind the Trust Project Given the Trust Project’s rich-get-richer impact on the online news landscape, it is not surprising to find that it is funded by rich and powerful figures and forces with a clear stake in controlling the flow of news and information online. According to its website, the Trust Project currently receives funding from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Google, Facebook, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (often abbreviated as the Knight Foundation), and the Markkula Foundation. Its website also states that Google was “an early financial supporter” and that it had originally been funded by Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist. As previously mentioned, the Trust Project’s co-founder is Richard Gingras, current Google vice president of News. The Trust Project’s website described Gingras’s current role with the organization as “a powerful evangelist” who “can always be counted upon for expert advice and encouragement.” Newmark’s current role at the Trust Project is described as that of a “funder and valued connector.” Newmark, through Craig Newmark Philanthropies, who provided the initial funding for the Trust Project, and has also funded other related initiatives like the News Integrity Initiative at the City University of New York, which shares many of the same financiers as the Trust Project, including Facebook, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, and the Knight Foundation. The Trust Project is listed as a collaborator of the News Integrity Initiative. Newmark is also very active in several news-related NGOs with similar overlap. For instance, he sits on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a longtime recipient of massive grants from the Omidyar Network, and Politifact[dot]com, which is funded in part by Omidyar’s Democracy Fund. Newmark is currently working with Vivian Schiller as his “strategic adviser” in his media investments. Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former head of news at Twitter, and a veteran of well-known mainstream outlets like NPR, CNN, The New York Times and NBC News. She is also a director of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian. The Markkula Foundation, one of the key funders of the Trust Project, exercises considerable influence over the organization through the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, which originally incubated the organization and whose News Leadership Council plays an important role at the Trust Project. That council’s membership includes representatives of Facebook, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Financial Times and Google, and “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators and advises on core issues related to information literacy and rebuilding trust in journalism within a fractious, so-called post-fact environment.” Both the Markkula Foundation and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics were founded by A. M. “Mike” Markkula, former CEO of Apple. The Markkula Center’s Journalism Ethics program is currently headed by Subramaniam Vincent, a former software engineer and consultant for Intel and Cisco Systems who has worked to bring together big data with local journalism and is an advocate for the use of “ethical-AI [artificial intelligence] to ingest, sort, and classify news.” The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is another interesting funder of the Trust Project, given that this same foundation is also a key investor in Newsguard, the controversial, biased news rating system with deep connections to government insiders and self-described government propagandists. There is considerable overlap between Newsguard and the Trust Project, with the latter citing Newsguard as a partner and also stating that Newsguard’s demonstrably biased ratings use the project’s “trust indicators” in its full-length reviews of news websites, which Newsguard calls “nutrition labels.” In addition, becoming a Trust Project participant is a factor that “supports a positive evaluation” from Newsguard, according to a press release from last year. Notably, Sally Lehrman, who leads the Trust Project, described the project’s trust indicators for news as ”along the lines of a nutrition label on a package of food” when the Trust Project was created nearly a year before Newsguard launched, suggesting some intellectual overlap. A previous MintPress exposé revealed Newsguard’s numerous conflicts of interest and a ratings system strongly biased in favor of well-known, traditional media outlets — even when those outlets have a dubious track record of promoting so-called “fake news.” It should come as no surprise that the Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives. A familiar face in the war against independent media The Democracy Fund, another top funder of the Trust Project and a bipartisan foundation that was established by eBay founder and PayPal owner Omidyar in 2011 “out of deep respect for the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s core democratic values.” It is a spin-off of the Omidyar Network and, after splitting off as an independent company in 2014, became a member of the Omidyar Group. The fund’s National Advisory Committee includes former Bush and Obama administration officials and representatives of Facebook, Microsoft, NBC News, ABC News and Gizmodo Media group. The Democracy Fund’s involvement in the Trust Project is notable because of the other media projects it funds, such as the new media empire of arch-neoconservative Bill Kristol, who has a long history of creating and disseminating falsehoods that have been used to justify the U.S. war in Iraq and other hawkish foreign policy stances. As a recent MintPress series revealed, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund provides financial support to Kristol’s Defending Democracy Together initiative and also supports Kristol’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund think tank that is best known for its cryptic Hamilton68 “Russian bot” dashboard. Omidyar’s Democracy Fund has also donated to the German Marshall Fund’s Defending Digital Democracy project and directly to the German Marshall Fund itself. In addition, Charles Sykes, a co-founder and editor-at-large of Kristol’s new publication The Bulwark, is on the Democracy Fund’s National Advisory Committee. An acolyte of Kristol’s who works at the German Marshall Fund, Jamie Fly, stated last October that the coordinated social-media purges of independent media pages known for their criticisms of U.S. empire and U.S. police violence was “just the beginning” and hinted that the German Marshall Fund had a hand in past social media purges and, presumably, a role in future purges. Thus, the Democracy Fund’s links to neoconservatives who promote the censoring of independent media sites that are critical of militaristic U.S. foreign policy jibe with the fund’s underlying interest in the Trust Project. Omidyar’s involvement with the Trust Project is interesting for another reason, namely that Omidyar is the main backer behind the efforts of the controversial Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to become a key driver of which outlets are censored by Silicon Valley tech giants. The ADL was initially founded to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” but critics say that over the years it has begun labeling critics of Israel’s government as “anti-Semites.” For example, content that characterizes Israeli policies towards Palestinians as “racist” or “apartheid-like” is considered “hate speech” by the ADL, as is accusing Israel of war crimes or attempted ethnic cleansing. The ADL has even described explicitly Jewish organizations that are critical of Israel’s government as being “anti-Semitic.” In March 2017, the Omidyar Network provided the “critical seed capital” need to launch the ADL’s “new Silicon Valley center aimed at tackling this rising wave of intolerance and to collaborate more closely with technology companies to promote democracy and social justice.” That Omidyar-funded ADL center allowed the ADL to team up with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft — all of whom also collaborate with the Trust Project — to create a Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab. Since then, these companies and their subsidiaries, including Google’s YouTube, have relied on the ADL to flag “controversial” content. Given the fact that the Trust Project shares with the ADL a key funder (Pierre Omidyar) and several external tech partners, it remains to be seen whether there is overlap between how major tech companies like Google and Facebook use the Trust Indicators in its algorithms and the influence of the ADL on those very same algorithms. What is clear however is that there exists an undeniable overlap given the fact that Craig Newmark, who provided the seed funding for the Trust Project and continues to fund it, is also a key donor and advisor to the ADL. In 2017, Newmark gave $100,000 to the ADL’s Incident Response Center and is a member of the group’s tech advisory board. Outsourcing censorship Of course, the most interesting and troubling donors of the Trust Project are Google and Facebook, both of which are using the very project they fund as a “third party” to justify their manipulation of newsfeed and search-engine algorithms. Google’s intimate involvement from the very inception of the Trust Project tags it as an extension of Google that has since been marketed as an “independent” organization tasked with justifying algorithm changes that favor certain news outlets over others. Facebook, similarly, funds the Trust Project and also employs the “trust indicators” it funds to alter its newsfeed algorithm. Facebook’s other partners in altering this algorithm include the Atlantic Council — funded by the U.S. government, NATO, and weapons manufacturers, among others — and Facebook has also directly teamed up with foreign governments, such as the government of Israel, to suppress accurate yet dissenting information that the government in question wanted removed from the social-media platform. The murkiness between “private” censorship, censorship by tech oligarchs, and censorship by government is particularly marked in the Trust Project. The private financiers of the Trust Project that also use its product to promote certain news content over others — namely Google and Facebook — have ties to the U.S. government, with Google being a government contractor and Facebook sporting a growing body of former-government officials in top company positions, including a co-author of the controversial Patriot Act as the company’s general counsel. A similar tangle surrounds Pierre Omidyar, funder of the Trust Project through the Democracy Fund, who is extremely well-connected to the U.S. government, especially the military-industrial complex and intelligence communities. And partnering with media outlets like the Washington Post, whose owner is Jeff Bezos, spawns more conflicts of interests, given that Bezos’ company, Amazon, is also a major U.S. government contractor. This growing nexus binding Silicon Valley companies and oligarchs, mainstream media outlets and the government suggests that these entities have increasingly similar and complementary interests, among which is the censorship of independent watchdog journalists and news outlets that seek to challenge their power and narratives. The Trust Project was created as a way of outsourcing censorship of independent news sites while attempting to salvage the tattered reputation of mainstream media outlets and return the U.S. and international media landscape to years past when such outlets were able to dominate the narrative. While it seems unlikely that’s its initiatives will succeed in restoring trust to mainstream media given the many recent and continuing examples of those same “traditional” media outlets circulating fake news and failing to cover crucial aspects of events, the Trust Project’s development of hidden algorithm-altering codes in participating websites shows that its real goal is not about improving public trust but about providing a facade of independence to Silicon Valley censorship of independent media outlets that speak truth to power.
    1
    0 Comments 0 Shares
  • BUILDING BABIES BRAINS
    Brazil’s audacious plan to fight poverty using neuroscience and parents’ love
    By Jenny AndersonJune 29, 2018

    Osmar Terra is a tall man with a deep voice and an easy laugh—one that disguises the scale of his ambition to transform Brazilian society. A federal representative for nearly two decades, he is the driving force behind the world’s biggest experiment to prove that teaching poor parents how to love and nurture their infants will dramatically influence what kind of adults they become, and give Brazil its best shot at changing its current trajectory of violence, inequality, and poverty.

    Terra, aged 68, first became obsessed with the question of how humans develop nearly 30 years ago. As a cardiologist in the 1990s, he would read endless research papers about the neuroscience of early childhood. When he entered politics, becoming mayor of Santa Rosa in Rio Grande do Sul in 1992, he continued to grapple with the question, even studying for a master’s degree in neuroscience. The science, he believed, should lead to smart policy. As a doctor and a manager, a mayor and a state health secretary, he was always trying to figure out how to to tackle poverty head-on. “In every single activity I always ask myself, ‘What is the public policy that can be more transformative?'” he says. “How can we most dramatically improve the quality of life for our citizens, their health, their education?”

    The answer to that question, he came to realize, lay in starting at the beginning, at pregnancy, and in the first few years of a child’s life.

    Decades of groundbreaking research shows that the love and sense of safety experienced by a baby directly impacts how the child’s brain is wired. Adversity—especially persistent, stress-triggering adversity like neglect and abuse—hampers that development, and can result in poorer health, educational attainment, and early death. While science underpins his mission, Terra’s palpable passion for the topic and his skill at politicking eventually led him to create Criança Feliz, a highly ambitious parent coaching program he helped launch in 2017 to try and reach four million pregnant women and children by 2020.

    Under Criança Feliz, an army of trained social workers—a sort of national baby corps—are dispatched to the poorest corners of Brazil. Traveling by boat—sometimes battling crocodiles and floods—by foot, by car, by truck and by bus, these social workers go to people’s homes to show them how to play, sing, and show affection to their infants and young children. They explain to parents why this matters: Emotional safety underpins cognitive growth. Intelligence is not fixed, but formed through experience.

    HANNAH YI
    Home visitor, Sissi Elisabeth Gimenes visits a family in Arujá
    Parent coaching, and specifically, home visiting, is not new. The most famous study, which took place in Jamaica in the 1970s, showed that well-trained home visitors supporting poor mothers with weekly visits for two years led to big improvements in children’s cognition, behavior, and future earnings. One group of infants in that program who received coaching in their earliest years earned 25% more than a control group more than 20 years later.

    But Brazil’s ambition is audacious. No city or country has ever attempted to reach so many people in such a short amount of time. (The largest program doing this now is probably in Peru, reaching about 100,000 families; Criança Feliz is already reaching 300,000.) “They are raising the bar for what is possible nationally,” says Jan Sanderson, the former deputy minister of children from Manitoba, Canada, who is an expert in home visiting and recently traveled to observe the program.

    Talking to lawmakers in Brazil can feel like wandering around a neuroscience convention.
    Just how Brazil—a massive country with endemic poverty and grating inequality—came to embrace parent coaching as the next frontier in combating poverty is a story of Terra’s political will, the strategic savvy of a few foundations, the pivotal role of a Harvard program, and the compassion of a growing group of unlikely allies, from communists to far-right wing politicians. Talking to lawmakers in Brazil can feel like wandering around a neuroscience convention: One senator from the south can’t stop talking about working memory, while a mayor from the northern town of Boa Vista in Roirama state is fixated on synapse connection. At least 68 senators and congresspeople, judges, and mayors have converted to the cause, becoming evangelical in their focus on early childhood development.

    “I believe that this is the solution, not only for Brazil, but for any country in the world in terms of security, public security, education, and health care,” says José Medeiros, a senator from the state of Mato Grosso who heads the parliamentary committee on early childhood development. “It’s a cheap solution.”

    Terra’s claims are more dramatic. “We will change the world, starting from the very beginning.”

    Those words are hardly surprising coming from the man whom Ely Harasawa, Criança Feliz’s director, calls the program’s “godfather.” But the devil, of course, is in the details—and in Terra and his allies’ ability to steer a course through some rather treacherous political terrain.

    HANNAH YI
    Criança Feliz in action
    On a hot day in May, Adriana Miranda, a 22-year-old accounting student, visits Gabriela Carolina Herrera Campero, also 22, who is 36 weeks pregnant with her third child. Campero arrived in Brazil less than a year ago from Venezuela, fleeing with her husband and two children from that country’s financial collapse and ensuing chaos. She lives in Boa Vista, a city in the north of Brazil where 10% of the population are estimated to be refugees.

    HANNAH YI
    Adriana Miranda visits Gabriela Carolina Herrera Campero, who fled Venezuela’s financial collapse with her family one year ago.
    The two women greet each other warmly and start chatting, in spite of the fact that Miranda is speaking in Portuguese and Campero in Spanish. They sit together on plastic chairs on a concrete patio as Miranda goes through a checklist of questions about the pregnancy. Has Campero been to her prenatal visits? (Yes.) How is she feeling? (Hot.) Is she drinking enough water? (Yes.) And walking? (When it’s not too hot.) Is she depressed or anxious? (No, but worried, yes.) Does she feel supported by her husband? (Yes.) How is she sleeping and what kinds of foods is she eating? (She’s not sleeping well because she always has to pee, and she is eating a lot of fruit.)

    Miranda moves on to talking with Campero about attachment—how to create a strong bond with a baby in utero, and also once the baby is born. Does she know that at five months, the baby can hear her and that her voice will provide comfort to the baby when it is born?

    “It’s important the baby feel the love we are transmitting. When he is in distress, he will know your voice and it will calm him,” says Miranda.

    JENNY ANDERSON
    The curriculum.
    It’s a topic they have discussed before. Campero is eager to show what she has learned about the baby. (A part of the program requires that visitors check for knowledge.) “It has five senses, and if I talk, he will know my voice,” she says. “The baby will develop more.” They discuss the importance of cuddling a baby and being patient.

    Having a baby in the best of circumstances can be challenging. As an impoverished refugee, in a new country, it can be utterly overwhelming.


    I ask Campero, in Spanish, whether the program has been helpful. After all, she already has two kids. Doesn’t she know what to expect? She starts to cry. “They have helped me emotionally,” she says. “She has taught me so many things I didn’t know.” For example, she didn’t know to read to a baby, or that her baby could hear her in utero. Her son used to hit her belly; he now sings songs to the baby because she explained to him what she learned from Miranda. “I feel supported,” she tells me.

    ”I raised my kids as if I were taking care of a plant,” Medeiros recalls.
    Many people, rich and poor alike, have no idea what infants are capable of. Psychologists and neuroscientists believe they are creative geniuses, able to process information in far more sophisticated ways than we ever knew. But for that genius to show itself, the baby needs to feel safe and loved and to have attention.

    Medeiros explains how he viewed parenting before he went to the Harvard program.

    ”I raised my kids as if I were taking care of a plant,” he recalls. “You give them food, you take care of them.” He says he did the best he could, but “I did not have all this information. If I had encouraged them, stimulated them more, I would have been able to contribute much more to their development.”

    He is hardly the exception. A 2012 nationally representative survey in Brazil asked mothers, 52% of whom were college educated, what things were most important for the development of their children up to three years of age. Only 19% mentioned playing and walking, 18% said receiving attention from adults, and 12% picked receiving affection. “So playing, talking to the child, attachment, it’s not important for more than 80% of the people who are interviewed,” says Harasawa, the director of Criança Feliz.

    Criança Feliz is part of Brazil’s welfare program for its poorest citizens, called Bolsa Familia. Started 15 years ago, the welfare program is rooted in a cash transfer system that makes payments contingent on kids getting vaccines and staying in school, and pregnant mothers getting prenatal care. Vaccination rates in Brazil exceed 95% and primary school enrollment is near universal. Originally derided, and still criticized by some in Brazil as a handout program for the poor, Bolsa Familia is nevertheless being replicated worldwide. But a powerful coterie of Brazil’s political leaders believe it’s not enough. Cash transfers alleviate the conditions of poverty, but do not change its trajectory.

    “You’re in their home, you can’t interfere. But you are there to change their mindset.”
    That’s where Criança Feliz comes in. The program is adapted from UNICEF and the World Health Organization’s Care for Child Development parent coaching program. Trained social workers visit pregnant women every month and new parents once a week for the first three years of a child’s life. Sessions last about an hour. The goal is to not to play with the baby or train the parent, but to help parents have a more loving relationship with their children. The program costs $20 per child per month. The ministry of social development allocated $100 million in 2017 and $200 million in 2018.


    Cesar Victoria, an epidemiology professor at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, will conduct a three-year randomized control trial comparing kids in the program to kids who are not, on measures of cognition, attachment, and motor development. Caregivers will be evaluated to see what they have learned about stimulation and play.

    Criança Feliz neither pities poverty nor romanticizes it. It recognizes that low-income people often lack information about how to raise their children and offers that information up, allowing parents to do what they will with it. “It’s one thing to say ‘read to your baby twice a day,'” says Sanderson. “It’s another thing to say, ‘when your baby hears your voice, there are little sparks firing in his brain that are helping him get ready to learn.'”

    Of course, it’s a delicate balance between respecting the right of a family to raise their children the way they see fit and offering information and evidence that could help the child and the family. “You’re in their home, you can’t interfere,” says Teresa Surrita, mayor of Boa Vista. “But you are there to change their mindset.”

    Liticia Lopes da Silva 23, a home visitor from Arujá, outside Sao Paulo, says that the initial visits with families can be hard. “They don’t understand the importance of stimulation and they are resistant to the idea of playing with children,” she says. “They are raised a different way, their parents did not have this interaction with them.” The issue is not just that some mothers don’t play with their babies; some barely look at them. Others treat the visitors as nannies, leaving them to play with the child, thus thwarting the very purpose of the visit—the interaction between parent and child.

    “It’s amazing to see the families evolve.”
    But after a few weeks of watching a social worker sit on the floor, playing with the child, and talking with her about the baby’s development, the mothers sometimes join in. “It’s amazing to see the families evolve,” says one home visitor in Arujá. “Three to four months after, you see the difference [in how] the mother plays with the child. In a different way, the whole family gets involved. Fathers often get involved and many families start to ask the visitors to come more often, although the visitors cannot oblige.

    When a home visitor named Sissi Elisabeth Gimenes visits a family in Arujá, she brings a color wheel painted onto a piece of recycled cardboard, along with painted clothespins. She asks Agatha, age three, to put a brown clip on the brown color. Agatha doesn’t know her colors and gets very shy. Sissi encourages Agatha while chatting with her mother, Alda Ferreira, about how play benefits brain development. She quietly models how to use encouragement and praise, praising Agatha for finding white—”the color of clouds”—as the girl slowly gets more confident and gets off her mother’s lap to play.

    The activity is intentional. The clips hone Agatha’s fine motor skills as well as her cognitive ones; the interaction with her mother helps create the synaptic connections that allow her brain to grow and pave the way to more effective learning later on. Alda tells us her daughter knows many things that her older daughter did not at the same age.

    HANNAH YI
    Agatha, age 3.
    The process changes the social workers as well. One social worker, who has a three-year-old herself, says that as parents, we think we know everything. “But I knew nothing.” In Arujá, where the home visitors are all psychology students at the local university, working with the program as part-time interns, many admitted to being shocked at seeing the reality of what they’d been taught in the classroom. Poverty looks different off the page. “We are changing because we are out of the bubble,” said one. “Theory is very shallow.”

    As we leave Campero’s house, I ask Miranda what she thought of the visit. She too starts to cry. “Gabriella recognizes the program is making a difference in her life,” she says, embarrassed and surprised at her own emotions. Campero had told Miranda a few weeks earlier that she was worried because the baby was not moving. Miranda suggested that Campero try singing to the child in her womb; the baby started to move.

    The man who made it happen
    In 2003, as secretary of health in Rio Grande do Sul, Terra created Programa Primeira Infância Melhor (the Better Early Childhood Development Program, or PIM), a home visiting program based on Educa tu Hijo, a very successful case study from Cuba (pdf). Results have been mixed, but Terra saw the impact it had on families and communities. He set his sights on expanding the program nationally.

    One of the most persuasive arguments for the program, he knew, was the science. But he had to build votes for that science. In 2011, he started lobbying everyone he could to try and get financial backing from congress to fund a week-long course that he helped create at Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child. He thought if lawmakers—who would be attracted to the prestige of a course at Harvard—could learn from the neuroscientists and physicians there, they might also become advocates for the policy.

    “Anybody in the corridor he sees, it’s a hug, it’s a tap on the chest, and then it’s early childhood development,” says Mary Young, director of the Center for Child Development at the China Development Research Foundation and an advisor to Criança Feliz. “He’s got the will and the skill.”

    “Anybody in the corridor he sees, it’s a hug, it’s a tap on the chest, and then it’s early childhood development. He’s got the will and the skill.”
    One convert, Michel Temer, who was vice president from 2011 and became president in 2016 when his boss was impeached, tapped Terra to be minister of social development. Soon after, Criança Feliz was born. But trying to get Terra to talk about legislation can be a challenge. What he wants to talk about are neurons, synapses, and working memory. Did I know that one million new neural connections are formed every second in the first few years of life? And that those neural connections are key to forming memories?

    “The number of connections depends on the stimuli of the environment,” he says. And the environment of poverty is relentlessly unkind to the stimuli available to children.

    HANNAH YI
    Osmar Terra’s enthusiasm is infectious.
    Attachment, he explains, is key—not just psychologically, but neurobiologically. “If a child feels emotionally safe and secure and attached they explore the world in a better way. The safer they feel, the safer their base, the faster they learn,” he says.

    The first 1,000 days
    Over the past 20 years, scientists have focused on the importance of the first 1,000 days of life. Brains build themselves, starting with basic connections and moving to more complex ones. Like a house, the better the foundation of basic connections, the more complex are the ones that can be built on top. In an infant’s earliest days, it’s not flashcards that create their brains, but relationships (pdf), via an interactive process that scientists call “serve and return.” When an infant or young child babbles, looks at an adult, or cries, and the adult responds with an affectionate gaze, words, or hugs, neural connections are created in the child’s brain that allow them to later develop critical tools like self-control and communication.

    “Children who experience profound neglect early in life, if you don’t reverse that by the age of two, the chance they will end up with poor development outcomes is high.”
    If kids do not experience stimulation and nurturing care, or if they face repeated neglect or abuse, the neural networks do not organize well. And that, says Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School, can affect the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the metabolic system, and even alter the physical structure of the brain. “Children who experience profound neglect early in life, if you don’t reverse that by the age of two, the chance they will end up with poor development outcomes is high,” he says. The strongest buffer to protect against that? A parent, or caring adult.

    The case for early childhood as policy was elevated by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman. As founder of the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago, he demonstrated the economic case for why the best investment a policymaker can make is in the earliest years of childhood, because that’s when intervention has the highest payoffs.

    “The highest rate of return in early childhood development comes from investing as early as possible, from birth through age five, in disadvantaged families,” Heckman said in 2012. His work showed that every dollar invested in a child over those years delivers a 13% return on investment every year. “Starting at age three or four is too little too late, as it fails to recognize that skills beget skills in a complementary and dynamic way,” he said.

    More than 506 Brazilian legislators, judges, mayors, state politicians and prosecutors have attended the Harvard course that Terra helped set up. There, Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician and professor, explains what infants need to thrive, what toxic stress does to a child and how to build resilience. The attendees are put in groups—maybe a state senator from one state with council members from municipalities in the same state—to spend the week on a project; in the next two-and-a-half months, they finish it with the help of a technical facilitator.

    “It’s a little facilitation and a little manipulation,” says Eduardo Queiroz, outgoing head of the Fundação Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal, a foundation which has played an integral role in supporting and shepherding Crianza Feliz. “We create a community.”

    It costs $8,800 to attend the program. Some pay their own way. Congress pays for lawmakers to go, and the Fundação Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal funds between 10 and 12 scholarships a year. The fellowship does not require the participants to do anything with their knowledge. But many have. Surrita, who is in her fifth term as mayor of Boa Vista, focused her early governing efforts on working with teens, tackling drugs and gangs as a way to help them. After her week at Harvard, she changed her approach, deciding to make Boa Vista the “early childhood development capital of Brazil.” Investing in young children, she argues, will mean not so many problems with teens:

    ”After taking this course Harvard on the ECD I realized how important it would be for us to work with the kids from pregnancy up to 6 years old that to develop them mentally and cognitively and that way I realized that it would be possible for us to improve the performance of the teenagers lives by working on them when their kids.”

    Obstacles and opportunities
    Criança Feliz faces two significant threats: the prospect of being shut down, and the challenges created by its own ambition.

    Although the Legal Framework for Early Childhood Development, passed in 2016, underpins Criança Feliz, it currently exists as a decree of the president. Of the last three presidents, one is in jail, one was impeached and the current one, Temer, faces criminal charges. With approval ratings of around 3%, Temer has decided not to run again, and the program’s supporters are worried that whoever wins the election will dismantle what the previous government has done (a common practice in Brazil). “We are concerned every day because the program is ongoing and we don’t know if the [next] president will support it,” says Ilnara Trajano, the state coordinator from Roirama state.

    “We are not trying to replace the family. We are trying to support it.”
    Mederios and Terra say the solution to avoiding political death is to create a law that will automatically fund Criança Feliz at the state level, rather than relying on presidential support. Terra, who exudes confidence and optimism, is sure such a law can be passed before the October date set for presidential elections. Others, including Harasawa, are not so sanguine. “We are in a race against time,” she says. She is working around the clock to build support one municipality at a time. She worries that not everyone thinks the government should play a role in parenting. “We are not trying to replace the family,” she says. “We are trying to support it.”

    Beyond its political future, the program itself faces a host of issues. In many places, there aren’t enough skilled workers to act as home visitors. There’s also the fraught logistics of getting around. In Careiro da Varzea, in Amazonas state, home visitors often travel five hours, by foot, to reach pregnant women and young children; they are tired when they arrive. In Arujá, seven home visitors share one car to visit 200 families, or 30 visits each, per week. Internet services can be terrible, and wild dogs often chase the social workers.

    The visitors are trained in a curriculum that tells them which materials to use, what to teach and when, and the research that underpins the guidance they give to mothers. But they need more training, and the curriculum does not always prepare them for the poverty and distress they see. Some mothers want to give up their babies; they did not want them in the first place. Many suffer from depression. The social workers are trained to support nurturing care, but they are not mental-health experts. Inevitably, turnover is high.

    In Careiro da Varzea, in Amazonas state, home visitors often travel five hours, by foot, to reach pregnant women and young children.
    The evidence for the value of home visiting at scale is at once highly compelling and frustratingly imprecise. Consider the case of Colombia: From 2009 to 2011, researchers there studied 1,419 children between the ages of 12 to 24 months to see whether coaching their mothers on interactions with their babies could help the children’s development. After 18 months, the researchers found a host of benefits. The children whose mothers had received coaching got smarter. Their language skills improved, and their home environments were judged to be more stimulating. But when researchers went back two years later, they found the children—now about five years old—had not maintained those benefits. “Two years after the intervention ended, we found no effects on children’s cognition, language, school readiness, executive functioning, or behavioral development,” the study reported. (Criança Feliz will run for a longer period of time, however.)

    Governments face notoriously hard choices about where to invest their money. “Early childhood development is a really valuable investment,” says Dave Evans, an economist at the World Bank. “But so is primary education and the quality of primary education, and if you spend a dollar in one place, it’s a dollar you aren’t spending in another place.”

    Samuel, Keith, and Giliane
    One of the virtues of a home visiting program, compared to say, building child-care centers, is that social workers can see what is happening inside a home: signs of domestic violence, other children in need, a mother’s depression, a father’s unemployment. They can help with kids like Samuel, who was born with cerebral palsy.

    At two-and-a-half years old, Samuel loves his ball, and shrieks with delight when he is presented with a truck. He can’t stop smiling at his mother, Giliane de Almedida Trindade Dorea. She and social worker Keith Mayara Ribeiro da Silva, gather around him to talk and play.

    “Where is the dog? Yes! That’s the dog. Very good Samuel!” says da Silva.

    The two encourage Samuel to try and stand up. He struggles. “Get up, use your legs,” says Dorea. “You are lazy. Be strong!”

    JENNY ANDERSON
    Samuel has made huge progress under the program.
    Samuel ignores the women’s requests. He wants to play. They shift gears. “Where is the ball?” da Silva asks. He grabs it and plays. “He’s very smart!” she says. She and Dorea are trying to get Samuel to use one hand, which cannot open, to play with the ball and then the truck. They work together for 15 minutes to find a way to get him to use his weak hand, but he just wants to play with his dominant hand.

    Dorea adores her son and plays with him patiently. But it has been hard, she says. When da Silva started to visit, Samuel could not sit up, he was quite shy and often cried. Da Silva has helped the family access the services and care that Samuel needs: a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, an acupuncturist, and a doctor to check his hearing. These are services the government will provide, but finding them and organizing the appointments is time consuming and can be overwhelming.

    Dorea says Samuel has changed since Keith has been coming. “His interaction with people, he’s totally different. He was so shy.” In fact, she says the whole family has benefitted. Her older daughter also knows how to play with Samuel and loves to help. She appreciates the support. Raising a child with a disability is hard work. “The visitor is a like a friend who comes every week not just for fun but also to share my concerns,” she says. Her biggest complaint about the program? “It’s too short.”

    Will it survive?
    There is a maxim in investing that you have to survive short-run volatility to get to the long run—you can’t make money if you don’t have any. Criança Feliz faces the same problem. Child development takes time. It is not a jobs program or a construction project, which voters can see. The benefits can take years to show up, and politicians have never been known for their long-term thinking.

    Alberto Beltrame, the current minister of social development, is a believer. Start early and you shape character, transforming the child into a better young adult and, eventually, creating an improved workforce, he says. You reduce violence and crime. He agrees that Bolsa Familia alone is not enough. It does not promote autonomy, or break the cycle of poverty. What is needed is a two-pronged approach: In the short term, promote training, microcredit, and entrepreneurialism to create jobs. For the medium and long term, Criança Feliz.

    “We have a huge array of benefits that we are going to gain with this one program, and the cost is very, very low compared to others,” he says.

    In every home we visited, mothers said they loved the support, be it information, toys, or more often, company to share their challenges and triumphs. Priscila Soares da Silva has three children, including six-month-old Allyce, and another on the way. With Allyce, she says, she has changed her approach to parenting, setting time aside to play every day now. “You raise children your way,” she explains cooing over Allyce. “When you see there are other visions, you see the way you did it was not so right.” She is also refreshingly honest about something all parents know: We do it better when someone is watching. “There are things we know, but we are lazy. When she comes, we are better.”

    When I quietly ask her teenage daughter, who is lingering in the corner, what she thinks of the visits, she answers immediately: “She’s so much more patient,” she says of her mother. Her own takeaway: Parenting is hard, and she does not want to do it anytime soon. Priscila smiles at this, agreeing she started too soon, and noting the benefits of the program have extended beyond Allyce and the baby she will soon have. “The program got the family closer.”

    Evans, from the World Bank, is watching the program closely. “I see Criança Feliz as a big, bold, gamble about which I am optimistic,” he says. “But I think the measurement and the evaluation is crucial to see if it is a model that other countries want to echo.”

    If it survives the near term political turbulence, Beltrame says it can go way beyond the poor to benefit everyone. “We are trying to make the Brazilian people realize, independent from their level of income, that stimulating children from pregnancy through the first 1,000 days of life is important,” he says. Better young people equal healthier and better adults, who are more emotionally connected and can be better citizens.

    With Criança Feliz, Beltrame says, we have the “possibility of having a new destiny and future for each one of these children.”

    This reporting is part of a series supported by a grant from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The foundation is also providing financial support to Criança Feliz. The author’s views are not necessarily those of the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

    https://qz.com/1298387/brazils-wildly-ambitious-incredibly-precarious-program-to-visit-every-poor-mother-and-change-their-childrens-destiny/
    BUILDING BABIES BRAINS Brazil’s audacious plan to fight poverty using neuroscience and parents’ love By Jenny AndersonJune 29, 2018 Osmar Terra is a tall man with a deep voice and an easy laugh—one that disguises the scale of his ambition to transform Brazilian society. A federal representative for nearly two decades, he is the driving force behind the world’s biggest experiment to prove that teaching poor parents how to love and nurture their infants will dramatically influence what kind of adults they become, and give Brazil its best shot at changing its current trajectory of violence, inequality, and poverty. Terra, aged 68, first became obsessed with the question of how humans develop nearly 30 years ago. As a cardiologist in the 1990s, he would read endless research papers about the neuroscience of early childhood. When he entered politics, becoming mayor of Santa Rosa in Rio Grande do Sul in 1992, he continued to grapple with the question, even studying for a master’s degree in neuroscience. The science, he believed, should lead to smart policy. As a doctor and a manager, a mayor and a state health secretary, he was always trying to figure out how to to tackle poverty head-on. “In every single activity I always ask myself, ‘What is the public policy that can be more transformative?'” he says. “How can we most dramatically improve the quality of life for our citizens, their health, their education?” The answer to that question, he came to realize, lay in starting at the beginning, at pregnancy, and in the first few years of a child’s life. Decades of groundbreaking research shows that the love and sense of safety experienced by a baby directly impacts how the child’s brain is wired. Adversity—especially persistent, stress-triggering adversity like neglect and abuse—hampers that development, and can result in poorer health, educational attainment, and early death. While science underpins his mission, Terra’s palpable passion for the topic and his skill at politicking eventually led him to create Criança Feliz, a highly ambitious parent coaching program he helped launch in 2017 to try and reach four million pregnant women and children by 2020. Under Criança Feliz, an army of trained social workers—a sort of national baby corps—are dispatched to the poorest corners of Brazil. Traveling by boat—sometimes battling crocodiles and floods—by foot, by car, by truck and by bus, these social workers go to people’s homes to show them how to play, sing, and show affection to their infants and young children. They explain to parents why this matters: Emotional safety underpins cognitive growth. Intelligence is not fixed, but formed through experience. HANNAH YI Home visitor, Sissi Elisabeth Gimenes visits a family in Arujá Parent coaching, and specifically, home visiting, is not new. The most famous study, which took place in Jamaica in the 1970s, showed that well-trained home visitors supporting poor mothers with weekly visits for two years led to big improvements in children’s cognition, behavior, and future earnings. One group of infants in that program who received coaching in their earliest years earned 25% more than a control group more than 20 years later. But Brazil’s ambition is audacious. No city or country has ever attempted to reach so many people in such a short amount of time. (The largest program doing this now is probably in Peru, reaching about 100,000 families; Criança Feliz is already reaching 300,000.) “They are raising the bar for what is possible nationally,” says Jan Sanderson, the former deputy minister of children from Manitoba, Canada, who is an expert in home visiting and recently traveled to observe the program. Talking to lawmakers in Brazil can feel like wandering around a neuroscience convention. Just how Brazil—a massive country with endemic poverty and grating inequality—came to embrace parent coaching as the next frontier in combating poverty is a story of Terra’s political will, the strategic savvy of a few foundations, the pivotal role of a Harvard program, and the compassion of a growing group of unlikely allies, from communists to far-right wing politicians. Talking to lawmakers in Brazil can feel like wandering around a neuroscience convention: One senator from the south can’t stop talking about working memory, while a mayor from the northern town of Boa Vista in Roirama state is fixated on synapse connection. At least 68 senators and congresspeople, judges, and mayors have converted to the cause, becoming evangelical in their focus on early childhood development. “I believe that this is the solution, not only for Brazil, but for any country in the world in terms of security, public security, education, and health care,” says José Medeiros, a senator from the state of Mato Grosso who heads the parliamentary committee on early childhood development. “It’s a cheap solution.” Terra’s claims are more dramatic. “We will change the world, starting from the very beginning.” Those words are hardly surprising coming from the man whom Ely Harasawa, Criança Feliz’s director, calls the program’s “godfather.” But the devil, of course, is in the details—and in Terra and his allies’ ability to steer a course through some rather treacherous political terrain. HANNAH YI Criança Feliz in action On a hot day in May, Adriana Miranda, a 22-year-old accounting student, visits Gabriela Carolina Herrera Campero, also 22, who is 36 weeks pregnant with her third child. Campero arrived in Brazil less than a year ago from Venezuela, fleeing with her husband and two children from that country’s financial collapse and ensuing chaos. She lives in Boa Vista, a city in the north of Brazil where 10% of the population are estimated to be refugees. HANNAH YI Adriana Miranda visits Gabriela Carolina Herrera Campero, who fled Venezuela’s financial collapse with her family one year ago. The two women greet each other warmly and start chatting, in spite of the fact that Miranda is speaking in Portuguese and Campero in Spanish. They sit together on plastic chairs on a concrete patio as Miranda goes through a checklist of questions about the pregnancy. Has Campero been to her prenatal visits? (Yes.) How is she feeling? (Hot.) Is she drinking enough water? (Yes.) And walking? (When it’s not too hot.) Is she depressed or anxious? (No, but worried, yes.) Does she feel supported by her husband? (Yes.) How is she sleeping and what kinds of foods is she eating? (She’s not sleeping well because she always has to pee, and she is eating a lot of fruit.) Miranda moves on to talking with Campero about attachment—how to create a strong bond with a baby in utero, and also once the baby is born. Does she know that at five months, the baby can hear her and that her voice will provide comfort to the baby when it is born? “It’s important the baby feel the love we are transmitting. When he is in distress, he will know your voice and it will calm him,” says Miranda. JENNY ANDERSON The curriculum. It’s a topic they have discussed before. Campero is eager to show what she has learned about the baby. (A part of the program requires that visitors check for knowledge.) “It has five senses, and if I talk, he will know my voice,” she says. “The baby will develop more.” They discuss the importance of cuddling a baby and being patient. Having a baby in the best of circumstances can be challenging. As an impoverished refugee, in a new country, it can be utterly overwhelming. I ask Campero, in Spanish, whether the program has been helpful. After all, she already has two kids. Doesn’t she know what to expect? She starts to cry. “They have helped me emotionally,” she says. “She has taught me so many things I didn’t know.” For example, she didn’t know to read to a baby, or that her baby could hear her in utero. Her son used to hit her belly; he now sings songs to the baby because she explained to him what she learned from Miranda. “I feel supported,” she tells me. ”I raised my kids as if I were taking care of a plant,” Medeiros recalls. Many people, rich and poor alike, have no idea what infants are capable of. Psychologists and neuroscientists believe they are creative geniuses, able to process information in far more sophisticated ways than we ever knew. But for that genius to show itself, the baby needs to feel safe and loved and to have attention. Medeiros explains how he viewed parenting before he went to the Harvard program. ”I raised my kids as if I were taking care of a plant,” he recalls. “You give them food, you take care of them.” He says he did the best he could, but “I did not have all this information. If I had encouraged them, stimulated them more, I would have been able to contribute much more to their development.” He is hardly the exception. A 2012 nationally representative survey in Brazil asked mothers, 52% of whom were college educated, what things were most important for the development of their children up to three years of age. Only 19% mentioned playing and walking, 18% said receiving attention from adults, and 12% picked receiving affection. “So playing, talking to the child, attachment, it’s not important for more than 80% of the people who are interviewed,” says Harasawa, the director of Criança Feliz. Criança Feliz is part of Brazil’s welfare program for its poorest citizens, called Bolsa Familia. Started 15 years ago, the welfare program is rooted in a cash transfer system that makes payments contingent on kids getting vaccines and staying in school, and pregnant mothers getting prenatal care. Vaccination rates in Brazil exceed 95% and primary school enrollment is near universal. Originally derided, and still criticized by some in Brazil as a handout program for the poor, Bolsa Familia is nevertheless being replicated worldwide. But a powerful coterie of Brazil’s political leaders believe it’s not enough. Cash transfers alleviate the conditions of poverty, but do not change its trajectory. “You’re in their home, you can’t interfere. But you are there to change their mindset.” That’s where Criança Feliz comes in. The program is adapted from UNICEF and the World Health Organization’s Care for Child Development parent coaching program. Trained social workers visit pregnant women every month and new parents once a week for the first three years of a child’s life. Sessions last about an hour. The goal is to not to play with the baby or train the parent, but to help parents have a more loving relationship with their children. The program costs $20 per child per month. The ministry of social development allocated $100 million in 2017 and $200 million in 2018. Cesar Victoria, an epidemiology professor at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, will conduct a three-year randomized control trial comparing kids in the program to kids who are not, on measures of cognition, attachment, and motor development. Caregivers will be evaluated to see what they have learned about stimulation and play. Criança Feliz neither pities poverty nor romanticizes it. It recognizes that low-income people often lack information about how to raise their children and offers that information up, allowing parents to do what they will with it. “It’s one thing to say ‘read to your baby twice a day,'” says Sanderson. “It’s another thing to say, ‘when your baby hears your voice, there are little sparks firing in his brain that are helping him get ready to learn.'” Of course, it’s a delicate balance between respecting the right of a family to raise their children the way they see fit and offering information and evidence that could help the child and the family. “You’re in their home, you can’t interfere,” says Teresa Surrita, mayor of Boa Vista. “But you are there to change their mindset.” Liticia Lopes da Silva 23, a home visitor from Arujá, outside Sao Paulo, says that the initial visits with families can be hard. “They don’t understand the importance of stimulation and they are resistant to the idea of playing with children,” she says. “They are raised a different way, their parents did not have this interaction with them.” The issue is not just that some mothers don’t play with their babies; some barely look at them. Others treat the visitors as nannies, leaving them to play with the child, thus thwarting the very purpose of the visit—the interaction between parent and child. “It’s amazing to see the families evolve.” But after a few weeks of watching a social worker sit on the floor, playing with the child, and talking with her about the baby’s development, the mothers sometimes join in. “It’s amazing to see the families evolve,” says one home visitor in Arujá. “Three to four months after, you see the difference [in how] the mother plays with the child. In a different way, the whole family gets involved. Fathers often get involved and many families start to ask the visitors to come more often, although the visitors cannot oblige. When a home visitor named Sissi Elisabeth Gimenes visits a family in Arujá, she brings a color wheel painted onto a piece of recycled cardboard, along with painted clothespins. She asks Agatha, age three, to put a brown clip on the brown color. Agatha doesn’t know her colors and gets very shy. Sissi encourages Agatha while chatting with her mother, Alda Ferreira, about how play benefits brain development. She quietly models how to use encouragement and praise, praising Agatha for finding white—”the color of clouds”—as the girl slowly gets more confident and gets off her mother’s lap to play. The activity is intentional. The clips hone Agatha’s fine motor skills as well as her cognitive ones; the interaction with her mother helps create the synaptic connections that allow her brain to grow and pave the way to more effective learning later on. Alda tells us her daughter knows many things that her older daughter did not at the same age. HANNAH YI Agatha, age 3. The process changes the social workers as well. One social worker, who has a three-year-old herself, says that as parents, we think we know everything. “But I knew nothing.” In Arujá, where the home visitors are all psychology students at the local university, working with the program as part-time interns, many admitted to being shocked at seeing the reality of what they’d been taught in the classroom. Poverty looks different off the page. “We are changing because we are out of the bubble,” said one. “Theory is very shallow.” As we leave Campero’s house, I ask Miranda what she thought of the visit. She too starts to cry. “Gabriella recognizes the program is making a difference in her life,” she says, embarrassed and surprised at her own emotions. Campero had told Miranda a few weeks earlier that she was worried because the baby was not moving. Miranda suggested that Campero try singing to the child in her womb; the baby started to move. The man who made it happen In 2003, as secretary of health in Rio Grande do Sul, Terra created Programa Primeira Infância Melhor (the Better Early Childhood Development Program, or PIM), a home visiting program based on Educa tu Hijo, a very successful case study from Cuba (pdf). Results have been mixed, but Terra saw the impact it had on families and communities. He set his sights on expanding the program nationally. One of the most persuasive arguments for the program, he knew, was the science. But he had to build votes for that science. In 2011, he started lobbying everyone he could to try and get financial backing from congress to fund a week-long course that he helped create at Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child. He thought if lawmakers—who would be attracted to the prestige of a course at Harvard—could learn from the neuroscientists and physicians there, they might also become advocates for the policy. “Anybody in the corridor he sees, it’s a hug, it’s a tap on the chest, and then it’s early childhood development,” says Mary Young, director of the Center for Child Development at the China Development Research Foundation and an advisor to Criança Feliz. “He’s got the will and the skill.” “Anybody in the corridor he sees, it’s a hug, it’s a tap on the chest, and then it’s early childhood development. He’s got the will and the skill.” One convert, Michel Temer, who was vice president from 2011 and became president in 2016 when his boss was impeached, tapped Terra to be minister of social development. Soon after, Criança Feliz was born. But trying to get Terra to talk about legislation can be a challenge. What he wants to talk about are neurons, synapses, and working memory. Did I know that one million new neural connections are formed every second in the first few years of life? And that those neural connections are key to forming memories? “The number of connections depends on the stimuli of the environment,” he says. And the environment of poverty is relentlessly unkind to the stimuli available to children. HANNAH YI Osmar Terra’s enthusiasm is infectious. Attachment, he explains, is key—not just psychologically, but neurobiologically. “If a child feels emotionally safe and secure and attached they explore the world in a better way. The safer they feel, the safer their base, the faster they learn,” he says. The first 1,000 days Over the past 20 years, scientists have focused on the importance of the first 1,000 days of life. Brains build themselves, starting with basic connections and moving to more complex ones. Like a house, the better the foundation of basic connections, the more complex are the ones that can be built on top. In an infant’s earliest days, it’s not flashcards that create their brains, but relationships (pdf), via an interactive process that scientists call “serve and return.” When an infant or young child babbles, looks at an adult, or cries, and the adult responds with an affectionate gaze, words, or hugs, neural connections are created in the child’s brain that allow them to later develop critical tools like self-control and communication. “Children who experience profound neglect early in life, if you don’t reverse that by the age of two, the chance they will end up with poor development outcomes is high.” If kids do not experience stimulation and nurturing care, or if they face repeated neglect or abuse, the neural networks do not organize well. And that, says Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School, can affect the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the metabolic system, and even alter the physical structure of the brain. “Children who experience profound neglect early in life, if you don’t reverse that by the age of two, the chance they will end up with poor development outcomes is high,” he says. The strongest buffer to protect against that? A parent, or caring adult. The case for early childhood as policy was elevated by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman. As founder of the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago, he demonstrated the economic case for why the best investment a policymaker can make is in the earliest years of childhood, because that’s when intervention has the highest payoffs. “The highest rate of return in early childhood development comes from investing as early as possible, from birth through age five, in disadvantaged families,” Heckman said in 2012. His work showed that every dollar invested in a child over those years delivers a 13% return on investment every year. “Starting at age three or four is too little too late, as it fails to recognize that skills beget skills in a complementary and dynamic way,” he said. More than 506 Brazilian legislators, judges, mayors, state politicians and prosecutors have attended the Harvard course that Terra helped set up. There, Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician and professor, explains what infants need to thrive, what toxic stress does to a child and how to build resilience. The attendees are put in groups—maybe a state senator from one state with council members from municipalities in the same state—to spend the week on a project; in the next two-and-a-half months, they finish it with the help of a technical facilitator. “It’s a little facilitation and a little manipulation,” says Eduardo Queiroz, outgoing head of the Fundação Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal, a foundation which has played an integral role in supporting and shepherding Crianza Feliz. “We create a community.” It costs $8,800 to attend the program. Some pay their own way. Congress pays for lawmakers to go, and the Fundação Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal funds between 10 and 12 scholarships a year. The fellowship does not require the participants to do anything with their knowledge. But many have. Surrita, who is in her fifth term as mayor of Boa Vista, focused her early governing efforts on working with teens, tackling drugs and gangs as a way to help them. After her week at Harvard, she changed her approach, deciding to make Boa Vista the “early childhood development capital of Brazil.” Investing in young children, she argues, will mean not so many problems with teens: ”After taking this course Harvard on the ECD I realized how important it would be for us to work with the kids from pregnancy up to 6 years old that to develop them mentally and cognitively and that way I realized that it would be possible for us to improve the performance of the teenagers lives by working on them when their kids.” Obstacles and opportunities Criança Feliz faces two significant threats: the prospect of being shut down, and the challenges created by its own ambition. Although the Legal Framework for Early Childhood Development, passed in 2016, underpins Criança Feliz, it currently exists as a decree of the president. Of the last three presidents, one is in jail, one was impeached and the current one, Temer, faces criminal charges. With approval ratings of around 3%, Temer has decided not to run again, and the program’s supporters are worried that whoever wins the election will dismantle what the previous government has done (a common practice in Brazil). “We are concerned every day because the program is ongoing and we don’t know if the [next] president will support it,” says Ilnara Trajano, the state coordinator from Roirama state. “We are not trying to replace the family. We are trying to support it.” Mederios and Terra say the solution to avoiding political death is to create a law that will automatically fund Criança Feliz at the state level, rather than relying on presidential support. Terra, who exudes confidence and optimism, is sure such a law can be passed before the October date set for presidential elections. Others, including Harasawa, are not so sanguine. “We are in a race against time,” she says. She is working around the clock to build support one municipality at a time. She worries that not everyone thinks the government should play a role in parenting. “We are not trying to replace the family,” she says. “We are trying to support it.” Beyond its political future, the program itself faces a host of issues. In many places, there aren’t enough skilled workers to act as home visitors. There’s also the fraught logistics of getting around. In Careiro da Varzea, in Amazonas state, home visitors often travel five hours, by foot, to reach pregnant women and young children; they are tired when they arrive. In Arujá, seven home visitors share one car to visit 200 families, or 30 visits each, per week. Internet services can be terrible, and wild dogs often chase the social workers. The visitors are trained in a curriculum that tells them which materials to use, what to teach and when, and the research that underpins the guidance they give to mothers. But they need more training, and the curriculum does not always prepare them for the poverty and distress they see. Some mothers want to give up their babies; they did not want them in the first place. Many suffer from depression. The social workers are trained to support nurturing care, but they are not mental-health experts. Inevitably, turnover is high. In Careiro da Varzea, in Amazonas state, home visitors often travel five hours, by foot, to reach pregnant women and young children. The evidence for the value of home visiting at scale is at once highly compelling and frustratingly imprecise. Consider the case of Colombia: From 2009 to 2011, researchers there studied 1,419 children between the ages of 12 to 24 months to see whether coaching their mothers on interactions with their babies could help the children’s development. After 18 months, the researchers found a host of benefits. The children whose mothers had received coaching got smarter. Their language skills improved, and their home environments were judged to be more stimulating. But when researchers went back two years later, they found the children—now about five years old—had not maintained those benefits. “Two years after the intervention ended, we found no effects on children’s cognition, language, school readiness, executive functioning, or behavioral development,” the study reported. (Criança Feliz will run for a longer period of time, however.) Governments face notoriously hard choices about where to invest their money. “Early childhood development is a really valuable investment,” says Dave Evans, an economist at the World Bank. “But so is primary education and the quality of primary education, and if you spend a dollar in one place, it’s a dollar you aren’t spending in another place.” Samuel, Keith, and Giliane One of the virtues of a home visiting program, compared to say, building child-care centers, is that social workers can see what is happening inside a home: signs of domestic violence, other children in need, a mother’s depression, a father’s unemployment. They can help with kids like Samuel, who was born with cerebral palsy. At two-and-a-half years old, Samuel loves his ball, and shrieks with delight when he is presented with a truck. He can’t stop smiling at his mother, Giliane de Almedida Trindade Dorea. She and social worker Keith Mayara Ribeiro da Silva, gather around him to talk and play. “Where is the dog? Yes! That’s the dog. Very good Samuel!” says da Silva. The two encourage Samuel to try and stand up. He struggles. “Get up, use your legs,” says Dorea. “You are lazy. Be strong!” JENNY ANDERSON Samuel has made huge progress under the program. Samuel ignores the women’s requests. He wants to play. They shift gears. “Where is the ball?” da Silva asks. He grabs it and plays. “He’s very smart!” she says. She and Dorea are trying to get Samuel to use one hand, which cannot open, to play with the ball and then the truck. They work together for 15 minutes to find a way to get him to use his weak hand, but he just wants to play with his dominant hand. Dorea adores her son and plays with him patiently. But it has been hard, she says. When da Silva started to visit, Samuel could not sit up, he was quite shy and often cried. Da Silva has helped the family access the services and care that Samuel needs: a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, an acupuncturist, and a doctor to check his hearing. These are services the government will provide, but finding them and organizing the appointments is time consuming and can be overwhelming. Dorea says Samuel has changed since Keith has been coming. “His interaction with people, he’s totally different. He was so shy.” In fact, she says the whole family has benefitted. Her older daughter also knows how to play with Samuel and loves to help. She appreciates the support. Raising a child with a disability is hard work. “The visitor is a like a friend who comes every week not just for fun but also to share my concerns,” she says. Her biggest complaint about the program? “It’s too short.” Will it survive? There is a maxim in investing that you have to survive short-run volatility to get to the long run—you can’t make money if you don’t have any. Criança Feliz faces the same problem. Child development takes time. It is not a jobs program or a construction project, which voters can see. The benefits can take years to show up, and politicians have never been known for their long-term thinking. Alberto Beltrame, the current minister of social development, is a believer. Start early and you shape character, transforming the child into a better young adult and, eventually, creating an improved workforce, he says. You reduce violence and crime. He agrees that Bolsa Familia alone is not enough. It does not promote autonomy, or break the cycle of poverty. What is needed is a two-pronged approach: In the short term, promote training, microcredit, and entrepreneurialism to create jobs. For the medium and long term, Criança Feliz. “We have a huge array of benefits that we are going to gain with this one program, and the cost is very, very low compared to others,” he says. In every home we visited, mothers said they loved the support, be it information, toys, or more often, company to share their challenges and triumphs. Priscila Soares da Silva has three children, including six-month-old Allyce, and another on the way. With Allyce, she says, she has changed her approach to parenting, setting time aside to play every day now. “You raise children your way,” she explains cooing over Allyce. “When you see there are other visions, you see the way you did it was not so right.” She is also refreshingly honest about something all parents know: We do it better when someone is watching. “There are things we know, but we are lazy. When she comes, we are better.” When I quietly ask her teenage daughter, who is lingering in the corner, what she thinks of the visits, she answers immediately: “She’s so much more patient,” she says of her mother. Her own takeaway: Parenting is hard, and she does not want to do it anytime soon. Priscila smiles at this, agreeing she started too soon, and noting the benefits of the program have extended beyond Allyce and the baby she will soon have. “The program got the family closer.” Evans, from the World Bank, is watching the program closely. “I see Criança Feliz as a big, bold, gamble about which I am optimistic,” he says. “But I think the measurement and the evaluation is crucial to see if it is a model that other countries want to echo.” If it survives the near term political turbulence, Beltrame says it can go way beyond the poor to benefit everyone. “We are trying to make the Brazilian people realize, independent from their level of income, that stimulating children from pregnancy through the first 1,000 days of life is important,” he says. Better young people equal healthier and better adults, who are more emotionally connected and can be better citizens. With Criança Feliz, Beltrame says, we have the “possibility of having a new destiny and future for each one of these children.” This reporting is part of a series supported by a grant from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The foundation is also providing financial support to Criança Feliz. The author’s views are not necessarily those of the Bernard van Leer Foundation. https://qz.com/1298387/brazils-wildly-ambitious-incredibly-precarious-program-to-visit-every-poor-mother-and-change-their-childrens-destiny/
    Brazil's audacious plan to fight poverty using neuroscience and parents' love
    Brazil has launched the world's biggest experiment to prove that how parents nurture their children will dramatically influence the adults they become.
    QZ.COM
    0 Comments 0 Shares
  • #Encouragement #DontGiveUp #JosephKingOfDreams #TheStoryOfJoseph #ExodusOfMosesAtRedSea #TheTenCommandments #TheJourneyToThePromisedLand #GodsPromises #WaitingOnGod #WaitingOnGodsTiming #GodAlwaysComesThrough #DontUndermineYourHusband #DontUndermineYourself #DoNotBeAfraid #DoNotFear #BeStrongAndCourageous #ObedienceToGod #ObeyGod #GodIsStandingByYourSide #GodIsFightingForUs #InviteSomeoneToChurch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pe3mYtTHD4
    #Encouragement #DontGiveUp #JosephKingOfDreams #TheStoryOfJoseph #ExodusOfMosesAtRedSea #TheTenCommandments #TheJourneyToThePromisedLand #GodsPromises #WaitingOnGod #WaitingOnGodsTiming #GodAlwaysComesThrough #DontUndermineYourHusband #DontUndermineYourself #DoNotBeAfraid #DoNotFear #BeStrongAndCourageous #ObedienceToGod #ObeyGod #GodIsStandingByYourSide #GodIsFightingForUs #InviteSomeoneToChurch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pe3mYtTHD4
    Stay Encouraged Don't Give Up Let Your Light Shine Revival 2019
    1 Check out http://ChristianitatisCuria.com ! 1b For Unlimited 4G LTE Internet call 1.888.306.7062 and mention Coupon code SR2808 when you call and save $49....
    YouTube
    0 Comments 0 Shares
  • #Precepts
    May 26 From Your precepts I get #understanding; Therefore I #hate every #falseWay. #Psalm119:104

    In our #dataSaturated #society, we are #awash in precepts. We have #books, #videos, #tapes, #seminars and #InternetStreaming. We go to #pundits, #professors, #preachers, #psychologists, #psychiatrists and #psychotherapists. #Everybody #layers us with more precepts for #healthyLiving, #familyRaising, #moneyMaking and #tulipGrowing.


    At last we shout, “I don’t need any more!” But #GodsPrecepts, revealed in #HisWord #GodsWord, #arentOptional. They are not of the “ #takeItOrLeaveIt#variety, but #vital as the precepts of #breathing. For those who #takeThemSeriously, #God’s precepts provide #operationalReality for #living at the #highestLevel. https://mailchi.mp/582523bd345b/his-image-452409?e=9cbe669f39 #YHWH #Jehovah #God #Jesus #Christ #JesusChrist #Obedience #ObeyGod #ListenToGod #Scripture #DailyMotivation #Motivation #Encouragement #Devotions #DailyDevotion #Devotional #Inspiration #DailyInspiration #promise #holy #success #lifehack #motivationalquote #victory #overcome
    #Precepts May 26 From Your precepts I get #understanding; Therefore I #hate every #falseWay. #Psalm119:104 In our #dataSaturated #society, we are #awash in precepts. We have #books, #videos, #tapes, #seminars and #InternetStreaming. We go to #pundits, #professors, #preachers, #psychologists, #psychiatrists and #psychotherapists. #Everybody #layers us with more precepts for #healthyLiving, #familyRaising, #moneyMaking and #tulipGrowing. At last we shout, “I don’t need any more!” But #GodsPrecepts, revealed in #HisWord #GodsWord, #arentOptional. They are not of the “ #takeItOrLeaveIt ” #variety, but #vital as the precepts of #breathing. For those who #takeThemSeriously, #God’s precepts provide #operationalReality for #living at the #highestLevel. https://mailchi.mp/582523bd345b/his-image-452409?e=9cbe669f39 #YHWH #Jehovah #God #Jesus #Christ #JesusChrist #Obedience #ObeyGod #ListenToGod #Scripture #DailyMotivation #Motivation #Encouragement #Devotions #DailyDevotion #Devotional #Inspiration #DailyInspiration #promise #holy #success #lifehack #motivationalquote #victory #overcome
    Precepts
    God’s precepts provide operational reality for living at the highest level.
    MAILCHI.MP
    0 Comments 0 Shares

No results to show

No results to show

No results to show

No results to show

No results to show