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Why We Need To Take A Look At The Way We Treat Prisoners And Do It Differently

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The USA locks up more people per capita than any other nation in the world. The rate is 668 per 100,000 people which equals over 2.3 million. There has been an increase of 500% over the last 40 years. Changes in sentencing law and policy - not change

  • Reflect On:

    What really goes on in many prisons? Why does this breed more violence, adds to social disharmony and increases mental illness issues? We also highlight prisons that are a shining example of what can be done to truly rehabilitate people.

“Violent offenders, more often than not, are victims long before they commit their first crime: A former inmate who spent two years in a Boston prison for robbery was given away by his mother, a heroin addict, by the time he was 5 — the same year her boyfriends began beating him up; when he was 8, he watched another kid get shot in the head in his housing project.

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Another man, in and out of prison from age 18 to 33 for assaults and drug crimes, grew up getting routinely beaten by his mother and frequently saw neighbors get stabbed and shot in the New York community of his childhood.” (source)

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If you had been around violence, crime and poverty all your life, and this was all you had known, would it be any surprise that you too, may also end up committing crimes? Would you think it might be difficult to grow up as a ‘good person’ if all you had seen was the opposite of love?  Would you think that being forced into another repressive life, which was even worse than what you had experienced previously, would be good for you and would somehow turn you into a better person by the time your sentence ended?

No – of course, it wouldn’t.

This is the reality of many prisoners face, that their time spent locked away for their crimes, actually makes them worse.  What does this do to society as a whole?  Do we ever really think about how this impacts all of us?

With the numbers of those incarcerated, increasing all the time, it is not hard to fathom the implications this has on all of us for the future.

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‘Corrections’ Is A Term That Is Not The Reality

Whilst many prisons are called ‘correctional centers’ shouldn’t they be a place of rehabilitation so that the prisoners become better people? So that they don’t commit these crimes again, and instead start to contribute positively to society? The reality of what goes on inside prisons is often the exact opposite.  For those that have spent time in jail, there is a strong chance they will end up re-offending.  Texas for example, incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world, and suffers from a staggering 60% recidivism (re-offending) rate.

Shouldn’t we take look at why this is so, and try and stop it from happening?

Hurt People, Hurt People

I know, you may be thinking that if a person has committed serious offenses, they deserve to be locked away, to do ‘time’ to pay for their sins? Yes – that is true.  However, what we don’t often realize is that the way prisoners are treated in the majority of prisons often makes them worse, and they become even more broken, as prison life encourages more violence and increases mental instability.

If someone is never shown any kindness and compassion, will they ever become an example of this themselves?

The causes of crime are complex. Poverty, parental neglect, low self-esteem, alcohol and drug abuse can be connected to why people break the law. Some are at greater risk of becoming offenders because of the circumstances into which they are born. (source)

For the innocent victims of a false sentence – which you will always find in any jail –  can you imagine what these harsh and cruel environments would do to their own spirit?

With over 2 million people incarcerated just in the USA alone, there are over 11 million prisoners worldwide (source).  These are astronomical numbers and it is clear that there is indeed, a very big – and growing – problem, particularly in America.

This subject has so many layers that it is impossible to give them all the focus they need, and I do understand the reaction many people have to this subject; those that do the crime should pay the time. However, as a concerned citizen who believes that we are all actually spiritually connected to each other, I think it’s important to highlight these issues.

The number of women in prison has been increasing at twice the rate of growth for men since 1980. Women in prison often have significant histories of physical and sexual abuse, high rates of HIV, and substance abuse problems. Women’s imprisonment in femaleled households leads to children who suffer from their mother’s absence and breaks in family ties. (source)

To become more aware of this problem, Netflix and Youtube have many eye-opening documentaries that highlight issues that I want to bring attention to, which are all mentioned below.

Another huge layer to all of this is, how many innocent people are actually in jails? Is the system breaking good, innocent people that were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and are in fact, terribly unfortunate victims of a failing ‘justice’ system?

Prisons Should Not Be ‘For Profit’

USA prisons (and others around the world) are often run ‘for profit’, so the increasing numbers and overcrowded jails, may in fact, actually be all by design to line the pockets of powerful people and companies.

Because of this reach, the market for privatized services dwarfs that of privatized facilities. The private-prison industry’s annual revenues total $4 billion. By comparison, the correctional food-service industry alone provides the equivalent of $4 billion worth of food each year, according to Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm. Corrections departments spend at least $12.3 billion on health care, about half of which is provided by private companies. Telephone companies, which can charge up to $25 for a 15-minute call, rake in $1.3 billion annually. The range of for-profit services is extensive, from transport vans to halfway houses, from video visitations to e-mail, from ankle monitors to care packages. To many companies, the roughly $80 billion that the United States spends on corrections each year is not a national embarrassment but a gold mine.

Today, a handful of privately held companies dominate the correctional-services market, many with troubling records of price gouging some of the poorest families and violating the human rights of prisoners. But the problem doesn’t end there. These companies are often controlled by private-equity firms, which through financial alchemy transform the prison-industrial complex into lavish returns for pensions, endowments, and charitable foundations. And, as successive administrations have ramped up immigration enforcement, they’ve also squeezed money out of immigrant detention. (source)

It begs the question, Is the prison system actually a legal human trafficking industry? Is it in their interests to keep them at overcapacity?

Coloured People Incarcerated In Higher Numbers

There is also a very high disproportionate amount of people of color compared to white in USA jails, which is of huge concern by itself.

The reality of what is going on inside the prison system makes for indeed, truly brutal viewing, but it is very important for us all, to beware of the reality. It is another part of our society that desperately requires great change because it does truly impact us all.

The USA, and other countries lock up many people for what are seemingly minor crimes. Some, as you will learn below, are almost unbelievable.

What impact does this have on the families who are left behind: a young child’s father or mother taken away, leaving them for years, without that important role model in their lives.  What psychological damage does this do to them, what impact does this have on society,  and how will it impact their own futures?  Will they too, resort to crime, or drugs and alcohol one day?

On a positive note, I also show you what good is being done in some prisons around the world that are actually able to rehabilitate people in a way that is truly transformative. This is what we need to do for broken and hurt people, we need to help give them a purpose for taking control of their lives and making amends of the mistakes they once made.  Only then, will this help society.

13th

This documentary, available on Netflix is the best place to start if you are interested in looking at how the justice system became such a mess, you will see why it became an industry for profit, and why there are far more colored people incarcerated.

You will discover the very shocking untold history lesson about slavery and how it never really left the USA, coloured people were instead moved into the prison system for very petty crimes at an ever-increasing rate.

13th, a film by American Ava DuVernay, explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. It was named 13th after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States except as a punishment for conviction of a crime. 

Prisons that are run for-profit, mean that some people may go to jail for a long time, despite their offense being quite minor.  This also means that there are now many young people in adult jails.

In the USA it seems that it’s very easy to be put in detention centers for seemingly minor crimes.  This robbing of their childhoods can ruin their entire lives which we will cover below when we discuss the documentary Kids For Cash.

DuVernay shows that slavery has been increasingly perpetuated since the end of the American Civil War through criminalizing behavior and enabling police to arrest poor men and force them to work for the state under what is known as ‘convict leasing’  This factual documentary shows eye-opening statistics about the huge increase in prison numbers that are of colored people.

Ava examines the prison-industrial complex and the emerging detention-industrial complex, discussing how much money is actually being made by corporations from such incarcerations.

Kids For Cash

This is a great one to watch after viewing 13th, because it then brings attention to the concern regarding young children being put in detention centers, also for very petty crimes. These centers, are again, mostly run for profit.

The kids for cash scandal centered on two judges at the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 2008, two judges, Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella were accused of accepting money in return for imposing harsh sentences on juveniles simply to increase occupancy at for-profit detention centers.

This documentary shows the damage this can do to the individual, quite often exposing a typical ‘naughty’ pre-teen to horrific and frightening treatment which goes on in ‘kid’ jails, that they really aren’t mentally able to cope with.

This, of course, can impact them for life, because of the trauma (imagine being 12 and not able to see your parents for months at a time, whilst being involved in, or witness to many extremely violent acts) they may themselves end up turning to violence in there just to survive, which then means they likely will end up staying imprisoned much longer.

Judge Mark Ciavarella was found to have forced thousands of children to have ‘extended stays’ in youth centers for offenses as trivial as mocking a school staff member on Myspace or trespassing in a vacant building.  How utterly ridiculous, and a crime in itself, that so many kids have been put away for these kinds of silly things.

This incarceration of minor offenses has led to permanent emotional trauma, and some victims have ended up committing suicide or becoming drug and alcohol addicts. This is what psychological trauma does.  A life, and families ruined because of money-hungry people in positions of power.

Thankfully, Judge Ciavarella was convicted on 12 of 39 counts and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.

Whilst it is great that he has been locked away himself, it does not mean that the youth prison system is now a good one, they are still being run for profit.

Time: The Kalief Browder Story

This documentary series found on Netflix is an absolutely harrowing and gut-wrenching story of what goes on in many prisons around the world.  It is hard not to feel your own heart break after witnessing this horrific account of what maximum security prisons did to an innocent, young and good man who had a promising future ahead of him.

In 2010, 16-year-old Kalief Browder, from The Bronx NYC, whilst walking home from a party, was accused of stealing a backpack by police, and not only was he thrown in jail without a trial, but he was sent to one of the toughest adult prisons in NYC, Rikers Island.  If convicted, Kaleif faced up to 15 years in prison – for stealing a backpack no less.

This lengthy sentence seems unbelievable, yet this is how punishment is dealt out in the USA.  They are incredibly tough on minor crimes. It seems like any of us could be easily accused of something, thrown in jail, and unless we had money to pay for bail, we also may have to wait a very long time to have our case heard.  This is very wrong, and once again, the vulnerable, and impoverished people have to pay a price whilst those with money will have a much easier time dealing with the justice system.  When we look into the ‘for profit’ prison industry, could this be why they are so tough on crimes, and quick to send people to prison?

Sadly, Kalief’s family were not able to afford his $3000 bail, so Kalief went straight to Rikers Island, a jail notorious for it’s violent criminals and for being very poorly managed.  It is widely known as ‘hell on earth’ and somewhere no teenager should be found in.

Whilst waiting to have his hearing on the alleged crime, Kalief ended up spending an astronomical 3 years in jail experiencing what can only be described as completely disturbing and ongoing violent, physical and mental abuse.

Kalief, slight in stature and still a teenager, was regularly attacked by dangerous and much older gang members, and was thrown in solitary confinement for months at a time.  He often had food withheld from him, and never had any access to mental health programs.  Kalief was also often violently attacked by cruel prison guards.

Due to this ongoing inhumane treatment, and, not surprisingly, feeling so hopeless, Kalief tried to commit suicide under the watch of prison guards – who were later found to have cruelly taunted Kalief whilst he was doing this –  they took him down from the noose just as he was about to pass out, then they proceeded to violently beat him. This was not the last time he tried to take his own life in jail, yet nobody of authority helped him with his mental health issues.

This gruesome footage of what happened to Kalief was released to the public and is also shown in the documentary, and it indeed displayed this sickening and cruel treatment by the hands of the prison guards. This is the reality of many prisons, where the guards commit despicable crimes themselves.

Those guards, to this day, have never been held accountable for their own disgusting behavior against this innocent, young man.

Kalief never had his case go to trial, the ‘witness’ disappeared to Mexico, and after an unfathomable 30 separate visits to court to see if his case would, at last, be heard by the court, Kalief eventually was released.

Whilst Kalief was now a free man after 3 years of mental and physical torture, his mind was anything but, and his story does not have a happy eneding. After his release, and when the trial against the city began to try and receive compensation for his time in jail, Kalief wrote this:

“People tell me because I have this case against the city I’m all right. But I’m not all right. I’m messed up. I know that I might see some money from this case, but that’s not going to help me mentally. I’m mentally scarred right now. That’s how I feel. Because there are certain things that changed about me and they might not go back.” He also said, “Before I went to jail, I didn’t know about a lot of stuff, and, now that I’m aware, I’m paranoid. I feel like I was robbed of my happiness.”

Kalief’s unforgettable and deeply traumatic experiences caused such everlasting damage to his health and well-being. His time in jail crushed his spirit and most tragically, he wasn’t able to cope with his haunting memories and how his mind had now become.

Akeem Browder, a prison reform campaigner, is the truly inspiring, fiercely intelligent, brave, older brother of Kalief, and has since started the Kalief Browder Foundation in honor of his brother’s life:

The KBF strategies support youth and young adults, typically in middle/ high school and college, who were negatively impacted by the incarceration system and the school to prison pipeline particularly and labeled “At Risk Youth”. We aim to enhance their social emotional learning skills through critical thinking exercises, relationship building lessons, mentoring through narrative change and skill building. The KBF has engaged the youth impacted by the incarceration system to shift into the role of leaders for systems change through its work in New York within it’s legislative body. Listening to the community and its needs allowed us to develop a curriculum that speaks directly to the necessities that our youth and young adults face day to day. The criminalization of poverty, race and trauma has held our poor communities in its grips far too long for us to not find a way out.

Akeem has since been campaigning to get Rikers Island shut down. The documentary received much press and celebrity attention after it’s release, but sadly whilst there has been a lot of ‘talk’ about Kalief’s story, to date, no one has helped much financially to get the foundation seriously off the ground.  To make real changes, to hire staff and to run a foundation properly, funds are needed.

You can help keep Kalief’s memory alive, and to support the foundation which strives to bring about much-needed change to the justice system.

PLEASE Donate here

Kalief’s story deserves to be heard, in the hope that something good can one day come out of it.

When They See Us

When They See Us is a 2019 American miniseries which was created, co-written, and directed also by 13th director Ava DuVernay for Netflix. It premiered on May 31, 2019 and is a four-part series. It is based on the highly publicized 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were prosecuted on charges related to the brutal rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.

The series explores the shocking way that 5 innocent young males who were targeted for committing this crime against a young white woman in Central Park, just because they were black, and were in the park that night.  The film shows they were coerced into a false confession and there was actually never any solid evidence that they did it, yet the prosecution was still able to pin the crimes on all 5 boys.

After spending years in jail, they later ended up being exonerated, what they all experienced whilst in prison was truly horrific, especially Korey Wise, who having been beaten many times in jail – sometimes almost to his death – was often placed in solitary confinement for long periods at a time.

A truly harrowing scene in the film is of Korey (played by the brilliant Emmy Award-winning actor Jharrel Jerome) shouting ‘Why doesn’t anyone care about me?’.

This, I think sums up the prison system and how many inmates feel, innocent or not.

Whilst DNA evidence ended up clearing their names (how this came to be, is an extraordinary story in itself) and they are all now out of jail, their lives of course, have been forever turned upside down.  How can you get back that time, or how can you ever erase all of those horrific experiences? How can your brain ever really recover from that?

Whilst the exonerated 5 have been able to seek financial compensation, it took a whopping 11 years of fighting in court to be eventually given to them, and the money of course, does not make up for the time and the destruction of their health and mental well-being that they lost in prison due to a justice system that can often be anything but.

Many victims of false incarceration do not ever win any financial justice for their time spent in prison.

Those who targeted these boys, have not been punished for their own despicable behavior, which is another example of how the system gets away with their own criminal activity.

Happy Jail

I am now able to share with you now some more positive stories about what can be done in jails.

Happy Jail is a documentary that is currently streaming on Netflix. The story revolves around Marco O Toral, who became the manager of the Philippine jail known as CPDRC in Cebu province, known for a Michael Jackson dance video that went viral in 2007.  What is immediately fascinating is that Marco was a previous inmate of this exact jail for seven years.

I highly recommend watching this 5 part series as it is very heartwarming and inspiring in that you see for your own eyes, what compassion, kindness, fun, and joy can do for people who have ended up in jail due to the crimes they commit.  Marco Toral, is I think, an extraordinary human being, who was able to keep violence and drug use at a minimum, due to the way he treated the inmates.

Marco would meet every new inmate and treat them with kindness, often giving them money to use at the jail shop.  He would, of course, lay down the rules, and the punishment for breaking them was a painful paddle on the bottom, as a last resort.

Whilst watching Happy Jail, I was struck by how the prisoners were constantly smiling, seemingly enjoying their time, and this is because Marco allowed them to dance, play music, play games, and have their family members not only visit them each week but that it would be in close contact where they would come inside the prison.

I personally feel that perhaps it is enough punishment simply being locked away in the same building for years at a time, never being allowed out until their time is served.  Surely, during this time we can then work on encouraging people to learn from their own mistakes from a spiritual level? 

Marco received harsh criticism by the media and some government members as he was seen as being ‘not tough enough’ on the prisoners, but you perhaps you will see for yourself if you think this was the case.

Bastoy – Norway

Bastoy, which sits on an island in Norway, is quite an incredible place that is doing a remarkable job to rehabilitate prisoners. Inmates, who live in small houses, not cells, are required to look after the island, (which also has its own small shop) have work duties and responsibilities that require them to get close to nature and to work with others.   They learn to also look after themselves and learn to interact well with other people.   There are animals to look after and they can play music, learn cooking and study.

A Governor was interviewed for this short documentary (below) and I think what he said should be how all Governors look at their own prisons.

‘I think my job as a Governer at Bastoy Prison is if I can put a person back into society who has actually been trained to be a good member of society’

Another guard said this:

“We punish them them by taking away their freedom, but we don’t take away their life”

Halden Prison – Norway

Also in Norway, Halden Prison is known as the worlds most ‘humane’ prison.  It is designed with an architecture that takes into account it’s surrounding nature, where prisoners have access to beautiful views of the land, because connecting with nature is good for the human spirit.  The warden’s of Halden state that ‘being imprisoned’ is enough punishment.

Punta de Rieles – Urugay

Located in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, Punta de Rieles is known as “the prison from which nobody wants to escape”.  It is set on a 100-acre property which has lots of outdoor space where inmates can live, work, do yoga, have pets, and play music. At Punta de Rieles, the focus is on helping prisoners prepare to go back into society after they leave.

The prison’s director shared that their focus is to help the inmates be ‘better’ people than when they first arrived. Using ‘repression’ won’t rehabilitate people. They allow their inmates to study and also teach them how to start up a business. The funds earned enable the inmates to purchase things from the prison shop, or they can save up for when they leave.  Punta De Rieles has a bakery, restaurant, brick factory, barbers, carpentry, and grocery stores.

Rehabilitation IS Possible

It seems very clear that the common way people are incarcerated today is simply not helping them become better people.

However, rehabilitation IS possible, and the way we can actually do this is seen in the last few documentaries above.

They all have a common theme, allow the inmates to have access to nature, to not be ‘locked up’ in ugly and depressing surroundings, give them responsibilities, encourage them to learn skills, have a purpose and above all, to be treated with compassion.

Whilst it must be said, that rehabilitating serial killers and very violent gang members might not be an easy task, it is something that must be attempted. Violence breeds violence so if we want to put an end to it, we have to see all people as human beings that may have had a very damaging upbringing which has affected their behavior.

Read More:

Research Shows That Time In Prison Does Not Successfully “Rehabilitate” Most Inmates

How Shelter Cats Are Changing Prisoners Lives In Indiana

Why Brazil Gives Ayahuasca To Prison Inmates On Their Path To Redemption

The Top 10 Most Startling Facts About People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States

Jennifer Gonnermans Interviews With Kalief Browder

The Business Model Of Private Prisons

Global Prison Population Soars

kaliefbrowderfoundation.com

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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Media Blackout: Italian Bars & Restaurants Disobey Rules & Open Together In Civil Disobedience

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Thousands of restaurants appear to have opened in Italy in defiance of the country’s strict coronavirus lockdown regulations.

  • Reflect On:

    Are governments doing the right thing? What does the data about lockdowns say? Is it causing more harm than good? Is it having any impact at all on the spread of COVID-19? What are and have been the consequences of lockdown?

Make sure you follow Collective Evolution on Telegram as we have no idea how much longer we will be on Facebook. Follow me on Instagram here.

What Happened: Despite no mainstream media coverage, people are starting to become aware of what seems to be a mass civil disobedience campaign in Italy against lockdown measures (#IoApro). An estimated 50,000 bars, restaurants and other businesses are defying government orders and are remaining open to the public, together. We cannot confirm the exact number. UK journalist Damian Wilson writes, “if the number of 50,000 establishments currently on board is to be believed, it’s a movement growing by the day.”

EuroNews is one of the few outlets on the scene providing coverage.

One frustrated restaurateur said the move was as “a polite protest” and another“civil disobedience”, as they invited customers to dine on Friday night despite measures put in place to fight the spread of COVID-19.  Armando Minotti, owner of Loste Ria restaurant in the south of the city, said “we cannot go on this way” – recent losses were making it impossible to provide for his children and he said government financial aid wasn’t enough. “Let’s call this a polite protest. If the guards come in, and they surely will, we will let them in, we will accept the fine but we are going to stay open and we won’t close any more. Because it is impossible to go on like this,” he added. Across the city, pizzas were churned out of the ovens at Fuoco & Farina where owner Max Vietri admitted to seeing the action as “civil disobedience”.

The Express in the UK also did, along with a few others.

People sit at a restaurant as bars and restaurants reopen in ‘yellow zones’ of Italy after the government relaxed some of the coronavirus disease curbs on weekdays following a strict lockdown over the holidays, in Rome, Italy January 7, 2021. © REUTERS/Yara Nardi

A popular hashtag is also providing information from various social media users who are uploading articles and videos. The hashtag is #IoApro. If you view this hashtag on twitter, you can see some pretty large protests. As the #IoApro (I am open) momentum builds, politicians like Vittorio Sgarbi are supporting the restaurants with a message against the rules in which he urges establishments, “Open up and don’t worry, in the end we will make them eat their fines.”

Why This Is Important: Whether you are a world renowned scientist, doctor, academic, journalist, politician, or anybody for that matter who opposes government lockdown measures as a way to combat COVID-19, you’re going to face the consequences. In Ontario, Canda, for example, a member of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s caucus was fired for speaking out against his own government’s policies and calling for an end to the province-wide pandemic lockdown. “The lockdown isn’t working,” wrote York Centre Progressive Conservative MPP Roman Baber in a letter to Ford.  “It’s causing an avalanche of suicides, overdoses, bankruptcies, divorces and takes an immense toll on our children. Dozens of leading doctors implored you to end the lockdowns.” (source)

Over the last few months, I have seen academic articles and op-eds by professors retracted or labeled “fake news” by social media platforms. Often, no explanation is provided. I am concerned about this heavy-handedness and, at times, outright censorship. – Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH (source)

If you’re a public figure in such a position as Barber was, you face losing your job. If you’re a scientist or a doctor, you risk losing your social media accounts for sharing your opinion, and if you’re an independent media outlet like Collective Evolution, you risk having your life’s work deleted from popular social media platforms.  But that still hasn’t stopped information from spreading.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science. – Kamran Abbas, Executive Editor of the British Medical Journal, and the editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. (soure)

Four professors from Stanford School of Medicine have published a paper showing that lockdowns, stay at home orders and business closures are not an effective tool for stopping the spread of COVID. There are many studies claiming the same. You can access that study here and read more about the harms of lockdown, its consequences and its supposed ability to stop the spread of COVID. There are dozens upon dozens of studies providing data that argue against lockdown measures.

Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician and epidemiologist  where the initiators of the The Great Barrington Declaration. The declaration has an impressive list co-signers, and has also now been signed by more than 50,000 doctors and scientists and more than 700,000 concerned citizens, which is pretty impressive given the fact that it’s received no attention from mainstream media. It explains why they oppose lockdown measures. Follow their twitter account here.

The point is, one perspective is dominating the mainstream media and political circles, while the other is being censored, ignored, and ridiculed by these powerful platforms. This alone has been a catalyst for many people to question what exactly is going on here, and that’s always a positive thing.

The Takeaway: Do we really want to live in a world where questioning actions taken by our governments, and whether or not they are in our best interest, can be shut down and discouraged? Is this not the responsibility of all people? Do governments actually represent the will of the people these days? Or do they represent other agendas?  Why are we all so polarized in our beliefs? Can we not see the perspective of another and try to understand why they feel the way they do? Does this mean freedom of choice should always remain, and that governments should simply make recommendations and allow people to do as they please? When measures become unacceptable in the eyes of many, is the only solution mass, peaceful civil disobedience? What else can be done in this situation for all those who are suffering the consequences of lockdown measures? Can the mainstream media make the majority seem like the minority, and the minority seem like the majority?

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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Encounters With Star People: “They Meant Us No Harm. Grandpa Called Them Our Ancestors”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Dr. Ardy Sixkiller Clarke, a Professor Emeritus at Montana State University who is Cherokee/Choctaw has been researching the Star People and collecting encounters between them and Native Indians for many years. This article shares one of many.

  • Reflect On:

    How many races are out there doing star travel? How many have visited our planet? How many are visiting our planet? What are the implications? Will our race ever traverse the stars in search of new worlds?

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Introduction: Richard Wagamese, who was of Canada’ foremost authors and storytellers from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, once wrote, “My people tell of Star People who came to us many generations ago. The Star People brought spiritual teachings and stories and maps of the cosmos and they offered these freely. They were kind, loving and set a great example. When they left us, my people say there was a loneliness like no other.”

Another example from Canada comes from Stephane Wuttunee, who is a Plains Cree and French Canadian author and storyteller.  He has explained that his perception and understanding of the ET phenomena as a Native person and its global implications comes from having been partially raised within the culture itself. He has made it a clear point to mention that they “give far greater attention to the seeking of the spiritual understanding of things.” He heard about “distant relations and Star People living amongst the stars many times, mainly around campfires and during traditional ceremonies. Far from being anything to be feared, Star People was just another term I grew up around.”(UFO Digest, 2008. Link no longer available)

Stories of the Star People are well documented in Native Canadian and Native American lore, and in this article I will share a story, as I’ve done so many times before, from the work of Dr. Ardy Clarke, a Professor Emeritus at Montana State University who is Cherokee/Choctaw. She has been researching the Star People and collecting encounters between them and Native Indians for many years. She also grew up being told about the Star People from her family and elders.

She’s written multiple books documenting her research. This particular one is taken from her book, “Encounters With Star People, Untold Stories of American Indians.”

The Story: In this particular story, Clarke spoke to a man connected through a mutual friend, on the Navajo Indian Reservation, named Darren. Clarke spoke to his aunt, who was the one who told her of his extraterrestrial experience.

I am not the first in my family to see the Sky Gods. My grandfather told me that one time a spacecraft landed over in New Mexico and some Indians hid an alien.”

Said Darren.

He said it happened “Back in the 40s. It was about the same time as Roswell.”

My grandfather said that he and some of his friends came upon the alien wandering in the desert. They realized he was one of the Sky Gods and they hid him from the government soldiers. He died though and they buried him.

I saw an alien once. He came to my Grandfather’s hogan. When I saw him, I was frightened, but I didn’t know he was an alien at the time. He was a stranger. I was afraid of all strangers. So I ran inside and told my grandfather that there was a man outside. My grandfather turned off the burner on his hot plate and walked outside. I couldn’t hear, but I’m sure they were talking. Then my Grandfather came inside and told me to come with him. I walked outside and the alien was leaning against the wall and looked at a small metal object. I reached for my granddad’s hand, but he told me not to be afraid. He said everything was all right.

He was tall. He was dark. Dark skin and dark eyes. I never saw his hair. His clothes were brown and form fitting. He had a strange pair of boots. The pants were stuffed inside. The boots had pointed toes. They were the same color as the suit. I had never seen clothes like that. Gloves covered his hands and there was some kind of a covering over his head like a hood of some sort, but it was really tight like elastic.

He communicated with my grandfather. We walked off into the canyon with him. My grandfather stopped a few times and checked foot-prints. He was backtracking. They led to a large craft on the other side of the ridge.

Clarke asked, “Are you telling me the alien was lost?”

That’s what my grandfather told me. He was part of a small exploring party. They had separated and he had gone up one canyon and the others went in other directions. He had some equipment with him that was supposed to get him back to the craft, but it quit working. He came to our hogan looking for help. My grandfather and I took him back to his craft.

My grandfather and I talked about it often. After that, when my grandfather told stories he would begin with ‘it happened before the Star Man or after the Star Man.’ My grandfather said that when he was a boy there were many stories about Star People, but that this was only the second time he had ever seen one.

He mostly talked about how they were friendly and meant us no harm. Grandpa called them our ancestors. He said that they had visited Earth from the beginning of time. They come to remind us to keep everything in harmony. He called them seed layers.

By seed layers, Darren meant, “You know. They brought seeds to Earth to see if they would grow and then come back to check on them.” Darren believed his grandfather meant plants, animals and humans. He was told by his grandfather that “they brought animals.”

Clarke then asks, “Did you go near the spacecraft?” Darren replied. ” I wanted to, but my grandfather warned me away. He said I should not touch it.

It was round. Silver, but dull silver. There were no windows. Only a door and when it closed, you could not see where the door had been.

Clark asks, “When your grandfather led the star man back to the craft, did the other beings see you?

Yes. They came out and greeted their friend. I watched as he turned to my grandfather as though he were introducing him. The other Star Men bowed and for a moment they stood there and talked with him, but I could not hear. When they boarded the craft, my grandfather told me we must move to a safe distance. Then we watched as the craft moved upward. It did not even stir up the dust. That was the most amazing thing to me. When the wind blows there there is always dust, but when the craft lifted off the ground, there was no dust. For some reason, I understood that there was nothing normal about this situation. I was afraid of strangers anyway, but these strangers were not like the people I saw in town. They were different. I held my grandfather’s hand all the way home. Somehow it felt safer.

Darren goes on to describe that the Star Man appeared two more times when he was much older. The final time when his grandfather was in his 80s, sick and unwell in bed.

It was late at night when the Star Man appeared suddenly without warning. He walked over to my grandfather’s bed and kelt over him. After a moment or two, he walked out.

Clarke asked, “What did your grandfather say about the meeting?”

Darren replied, “Only that the Star Man came to say they were waiting for him. Three days later, my granddad died at the clinic in town. Just hours before he passed, he told me that they would be coming for him.

This was the last meeting, during the second meeting grandfather gave the Star Man a pouch with turquoise stones inside, a gift that pleased the Star Man.

Two years after his grandfather’s death, Clarke stopped off at Darren’s mother’s house. Darren invited her to go outside to his workshop.

I go out to Grandfather’s place and work in the summers. In the winter, I work here when I am not traveling with art shows.

Clarke interrupted, “Have you ever seen the Star Man again?”

No, but I know he still comes here,” he replied as he unlocked the work shed…I was hoping you would come see me again. I have something for you, but first, I have to tell you what happened.

Last summer, I spent about a month out at the home place. My sister was getting married and everything was chaotic around here. The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the hogan was a bag in the doorway of the little workshop I had set up for myself years ago. It was my grandfather’s pouch.

It was the one his grandfather gave to the Star Man.

I opened it and the turquoise stones fell out. They were the ones Grandfather had given the Star Man. For some reason, he returned them. I think it was my grandfather’s way of letting me know that everything was okay with him. I have no other explanation.

The Takeaway: When you dive deep into this topic, it leads to so many other topics and opens up so many more questions that are too many to explain here. As I always say, it truly leaves no aspect of humanity untouched and is and will transform human consciousness in a major way. There is still so much we have to discover about ourselves as well as the cosmos, and I imagine there are an unimaginable amount of worlds out there with an unimaginable amount of races that are doing star travel. Hopefully, like the one in this story, most of the ones who are and have been visiting our planet are benevolent, but I don’t know. At the end of the day, it’s my belief that this topic forces humanity to question itself and truly ponder why we live the way we do here. We are a race of extreme potential and have the means to create a human experience where all life, and the planet itself, can thrive. So ask yourself, what aren’t we doing it? What’s the problem? Why are we destroying our planet?

We’ve been writing about this topic since our inception in 2009, if you’d like to visit our article archive on the phenomenon, click here and enjoy.

Photo Credit: The image is a wonderful work of art that seems to have been shared around the internet quite a big. Still looking for the original source. If you find it, please do let me know. You can also email me at Arjun@collective-evolution.com

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading

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Another Lawsuit Against Merck Alleging Gardasil HPV Vaccine Caused Life-Changing Disability

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Another lawsuit has been filed alleging severe injury and disability as a result of the HPV vaccine. This time it's on behalf of teenager Michael Colbath alleging that his debilitating injuries were caused by the HPV Vaccine.

  • Reflect On:

    Why are those who raise concerns always considered "anti-vax conspiracy theorists" and ridiculed? Should freedom of choice always remain when it comes to vaccines?

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What Happened: Another lawsuit has been filed against Merck for allegedly causing another life-changing disability. As lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. explains, “Before he got the Gardasil (human papillomavirus) vaccine, our client Michael Colbath was a superlative athlete and scholar. A happy, healthy and active boy. In the months following his first injection, exhaustion and extreme fatigue forced Michael away from the sports and hobbies that had been centerpieces of his life. He had trouble staying awake during the school day. After his second Gardasil injection, Michael developed severe foot pain in both feet, so severe that he needed crutches to attend school. He had trouble waking up in the morning and getting out of bed.”

He goes on to explain:

As his symptoms worsened, multiple physicians and specialists treated him for migraine headaches; body pains and muscle aches; chronic fatigue; hypersomnolence (sleeping 15-22 hours in a 24-hour period), sleep drunkenness, unrefreshing sleep; excessive sweating, lightheadedness, and tachycardia; tunnel vision on standing; difficulty with concentration and memory; confusion and brain fog; intermittent or episodic paralysis, numbness; and stomach pains.

Michael’s post-Gardasil injuries and diagnoses, including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)idiopathic hypersomnia (IH)myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME / CFS)complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and gastroparesis, kept him from his passions, sports and hobbies. He missed most of high school and only his formidable self-discipline allowed him to complete his school work at home — he could not walk or move unassisted, he earned his Eagle Scout award using a knee scooter.

If Mrs. Colbath had known that Gardasil could create these health issues, she never would have allowed him to receive it.

This is the fifth Gardasil lawsuit Baum Hedlund and I have filed against Merck challenging the company’s dangerous and defective HPV vaccine for causing severe and life changing injuries. In addition to Mike’s case filed this week, we have filed cases on behalf of Sahara Walker of WisconsinZach Otto of Colorado and Julia Balasco of Rhode Island. While each case is unique, they share common threads: All of our clients were happy, healthy, bright, active kids with unlimited potential until they received the Gardasil HPV vaccine. We look forward to getting these cases in front of a jury as soon as possible.

Kennedy and his team are currently engaged in five lawsuits regarding injury as a result of the HPV vaccine. I recently wrote about Sahara Walker, a 19 year old girl from Wisconsin who suffered debilitating injuries after receiving the vaccine. You can read more about that here.

How Necessary Is The Gardasil Vaccine? The HPV vaccine is heavily marketed as a preventer of cervical cancer, but many studies have called this assumption into question. For example, in a recent study published in The Royal Society of Medicine, researchers conducted an appraisal of published phase 2 and 3 efficacy trials in relation to the prevention of cervical cancer and their analysis showed “the trials themselves generated significant uncertainties undermining claims of efficacy” in the data they used. The researchers emphasized that “it is still uncertain whether human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination prevents cervical cancer as trials were not designed to detect this outcome, which takes decades to develop.”  The researchers point out that the trials used to test the vaccine may have “overestimated” the efficacy of the vaccine.

Another interesting thing to note about HPV infections is when it comes to women in particular, approximately 70 percent of those who get an infection will clear it all by themselves within the first year, you don’t even have to detect it. Keep in mind that only a handful of HPV infections can actually lead to cancer. Within two years, approximately 90 percent of these infections will clear all by themselves. By three years, 10 percent of that original group will still have an HPV infection, and 5 percent of this 10 percent will have progressed into what are known as a precancerous lesion. There are three types of precancerous lesions, CIN1, which requires no treatment, C1N2 and the most severe, CIN3.

So now you have that small group (the remaining 5 percent)…who have precancerous lesions and now let’s look at that moving into invasive carcinoma. What we know then is that amongst women with CIN3 lesions, it takes five years for about twenty percent of them to become invasive carcinomas. That’s a pretty slow process. It takes about thirty years for forty percent of them to become invasive cervical carcinomas. – Dr. Diane Harper, one of a select few specialists in OB/GYN (in the world) who helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved.

In a study published in Autoimmunity Reviews, the authors note that “The decision to vaccinate with the HPV vaccine is a personal decision, not one that must be made for public health. HPV is not a lethal disease, in 95 percent of the infections; and the other 5 percent are detectable and treatable in the precancerous state.”

This is why cervical cancer is usually diagnosed among the elderly, because it takes a long time to develop. This means that one has a very long time to treat pre-cancerous lesions that have the potential to develop into full blown cancer.

Not only is the efficacy of the vaccine called into question by many researchers, the supposed protection it provides, if any, only lasts a few years. Ask yourself, how likely is it for your 11 year old daughter/son to develop an HPV infection that will lead to cancer in a few decades, before she’s/he’s even done high school? The main cause of HPV infections is sexual intercourse.

Harper told CBS a few years ago that “the benefits (of the vaccine) to public health is noting, there is no reduction in cervical cancer.” She also emphasized that parents “must know that deaths occured” and that not all deaths have been reported. This information is accurate, we know this in the United States, for example, because of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It stems from the National Childhood Vaccine Injury act, which protects pharmaceutical companies from liability and uses tax-dollars to pay for vaccine injuries. Multiple countries have a program like this in place, and the United States has now paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. The main takeaway is that the FDA Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) is estimated to capture only 1 percent of vaccine injuries.

 A study published in 2013 in Current Pharmaceutical Design carried out a review of HPV vaccine pre- and post-licensure trials to assess the evidence of their effectiveness and safety. They found that,

HPV vaccine clinical trials design, and data interpretation of both efficacy and safety outcomes, were largely inadequate. Additionally, we note evidence of selective reporting of results from clinical trials (i.e., exclusion of vaccine efficacy figures related to study subgroups in which efficacy might be lower or even negative from peer-reviewed publications). Given this, the widespread optimism regarding HPV vaccines long-term benefits appears to rest on a number of unproven assumptions (or such which are at odds with factual evidence) and significant misinterpretation of available data.

For example, the claim that HPV vaccination will result in approximately 70% reduction of cervical cancers is made despite the fact that the clinical trials data have not demonstrated to date that the vaccines have actually prevented a single case of cervical cancer (let alone cervical cancer death), nor that the current overly optimistic surrogate marker-based extrapolations are justified. Likewise, the notion that HPV vaccines have an impressive safety profile is only supported by highly flawed design of safety trials and is contrary to accumulating evidence from vaccine safety surveillance databases and case reports which continue to link HPV vaccination to serious adverse outcomes (including death and permanent disabilities).

We thus conclude that further reduction of cervical cancers might be best achieved by optimizing cervical screening (which carries no such risks) and targeting other factors of the disease rather than by the reliance on vaccines with questionable efficacy and safety profiles.

Not long ago researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Cardiology looked at 28 studies published through January 2017—16 randomized trials and 12 post-marketing case series—pertaining to the three HPV vaccines currently on the market globally. In their July 2017 peer-reviewed report, the authors, Manuel Martínez-Lavin and Luis Amezcua-Guerra, uncovered evidence of numerous adverse events, including life-threatening injuries, permanent disabilities, hospitalizations and deaths, reported after vaccination with GlaxoSmithKline’s bivalent Cervarix vaccine and Merck’s quadrivalent or nine-valent HPV vaccines.

Mary Holland, a former a professor on the faculties of Columbia Law School and the New York University School of Law for the past eighteen years who taught courses on human rights, recently retired as the Director of the NYU Graduate Lawyering Program. She co-authored a book titled “The HPV Vaccine On Trial: Seeking Justice For A Generation Betrayed.”

The HPV Vaccine on Trial is a shocking tale, chronicling the global efforts to sell and compel this alleged miracle. The book opens with the vaccine’s invention, winds through its regulatory labyrinths, details the crushing denial and dismissal of reported harms and deaths, and uncovers the enormous profits pharma and inventors have reaped. Authors Holland, Mack Rosenberg, and Iorio drill down into the clinical trial data, government approvals, advertising, and personal accounts of egregious injuries that have followed in countries as far-flung as Japan, Australia, Colombia, India, Ireland, the U.K. and Denmark. The authors have written an unprecedented exposé about this vaunted vaccine.

Written in plain language, the book is for everyone concerned – parents, patients, doctors, nurses, scientists, healthcare organizations, government officials, and schools. Ultimately, this book is not just about the HPV vaccine, but about how industry, government, and medical authorities may be putting the world’s children in harm’s way.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that many paediatricians don’t strongly recommend the HPV vaccine. Since then it’s now known that vaccine hesitancy is rising among many doctors, scientists, academics and people of all backgrounds and professions. The question to ask is, why?

At a World Health Organization (WHO) conference on vaccine safety, Dr. Heidi Larson a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project Emphasized this point, having  stated,

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers. We have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen…still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider.

A study published in the journal EbioMedicine  as far back as 2013 outlines this point, stating in the introduction,

Over the past two decades several vaccine controversies have emerged in various countries, including France, inducing worries about severe adverse effects and eroding confidence in health authorities, experts and science. These two dimensions are at the core of vaccine hesitancy (VH) observed in the general population. VH is defined as delay in acceptance of vaccination, or refusal, or even acceptance with doubts about its safety and benefits, with all these behaviours and attitudes varying according to context , vaccine and personal profile, despite the availability of vaccine services VH presents a challenge to physicians who must address their patients’ concerns about vaccines and ensure satisfactory vaccination coverage.

A Typical Response From Merck For A Supposed Vaccine Injury? A 14-year-old boy named Christopher Bunch passed away more than a year ago, and the mother and father claimed that it was as a result of the HPV vaccine. His mother started a petition over a year ago claiming that her son “died as a direct result of the HPV vaccine.”

The father of the boy, Elijah Eugene Mendoza-Bunch, wrote this via his Facebook page, in January of 2020.

So back on December 11th 2019 I sent an email to CEO Ken Frazier of Merck song to speak with him about the HPV VACCINE and how it killed my son and how it is destroying lives. Well here we are January 25th (the day I got it in the mail) and this is the response from Merck….

As you can see, the letter states that,

“The safety and efficacy of our HPV vaccines have been established in a clinical development program that started more than 20 years ago and involved more than 49,000 individuals. Safety has continued to be evaluated after approval in multiple studies in several million people, in long-term follow up studies and through our extensive ongoing pharmacovigilance monitoring program in place throughout the world. Multiple independent scientific organizations and major regulatory and public health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have repeatedly evaluated the safety of HPV vaccines. The results of these evaluations continue to be reassuring

Is Aluminum a Concern? The HPV vaccine does use an aluminum adjuvant, something that’s come under fire over the past few years. You can read and learn more about that here.

The Takeaway: This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg, there are many papers published in various journals over the past decade pointing out the same thing. There are also many published studies and papers that claim the vaccine is completely safe and very effective. This is why it can be a confusing topic to look into and why we believe that informed consent in place of an HPV vaccine mandate for children should be in place.

What do you think? One thing is for certain, people should be free to engage in conversations about controversial topics. This is one thing the mainstream fails to do, and always seems to deem the type of information presented in this article as a result of “anti vax conspiracy theorists.” Instead of using ridicule, it would be great if the concerns being raised about vaccine safety were actually spoken about openly and transparently, and most importantly, actually acknowledged and addressed.

Do we really want to live in a world where we can’t talk to each other? Why do we have such a hard time seeing from the perspective of another and trying to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do? Do we really want to create a world where we are forced into certain actions by our government at the threat of losing certain rights and privileges?A world where we are so polarized? Should people not be free to do what they want with their body, especially if the evidence to suggest that they are harming others if they don’t is weak and unsubstantiated?

When it comes to vaccines specifically, a quote from a paper published in the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy by professor Paddy Rawlinson, from Western Sydney University, provides some good insight into what I am referring to.

Critical criminology repeatedly has drawn attention to the state-corporate nexus as a site of corruption and other forms of criminality, a scenario exacerbated by the intensification of neoliberalism in areas such as health. The state-pharmaceutical relationship, which increasingly influences health policy, is no exception. That is especially so when pharmaceutical products such as vaccines, a burgeoning sector of the industry, are mandated in direct violation of the principle of informed consent. Such policies have provoked suspicion and dissent as critics question the integrity of the state-pharma alliance and its impact on vaccine safety. However, rather than encouraging open debate, draconian modes of governance have been implemented to repress and silence any form of criticism, thereby protecting the activities of the state and pharmaceutical industry from independent scrutiny. The article examines this relationship in the context of recent legislation in Australia to intensify its mandatory regime around vaccines. It argues that attempts to undermine freedom of speech, and to systematically excoriate those who criticise or dissent from mandatory vaccine programs, function as a corrupting process and, by extension, serve to provoke the notion that corruption does indeed exist within the state-pharma alliance.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading
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