His name is Ramundo Arruda Sobrinho and for 35 years, this 77-year-old homeless man spent his days doing his passion: writing poetry and short stories.
But his work remained completely invisible to the world until one day in 2011, he befriended a woman named Shalla. The video below is a critically acclaimed documentary called “The Conditioned” and it tells the incredibly story of Ramundo’s life and how it changed after giving Shalla one of his poems. Shalla was so touched by Ramundo’s poetry that she started a Facebook page to share his work with the world. What happened next is nothing short of a miracle.
"THE DEVIL" Bill Gates visiting a health centre in Awutu Senya,
Ghana Getty Images
They are among the richest people on earth, have won plaudits for their fight to eradicate some of the world’s deadliest and prolific killers, and donated billions to better educate and feed the poorest on the planet.
Despite this, Bill and Melinda Gates are facing calls for their philanthropic Foundation, through which they have donated billions worldwide, to be subject to an international investigation, according to a controversial new report.
Far from a “neutral charitable strategy”, the Gates Foundation is about benefiting big business, especially in agriculture and health, through its “ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation,” according to the report published by the campaign group Global Justice. Its influence is “dangerously skewing” aid priorities, the group says.
“The world is being sold a myth that private philanthropy holds many of the solutions to the world’s problems, when in fact it is pushing the world in many wrong directions,” the report claims. The Gates Foundation is “being allowed to speak too loudly, and too many actors in international development are falling into line with the foundation’s misguided priorities.”
The group accuse the Gates Foundation of using its massive financial clout to silence international development experts and groups which would criticise its practices.
Bill Gates, the report claims, “who has regular access to world leaders and is in effect personally bankrolling hundreds of universities, international organisations, NGOs and media outlets, has become the single most influential voice in international development.”
Bill and Melinda Gates' foundation is accused of promoting private healthcare concerns (Getty)
At worst, the report’s authors claims, the Gates Foundation “often appears to be a massive, vertically integrated multinational corporation, controlling every step in a supply chain that reaches from its Seattle-based boardroom … to millions of end-users in the villages of African and south Asia.”
The Foundation is the world’s biggest funder of GM crop research, the report claims. Huge corporations including Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dupont, are major beneficiaries of its projects.
“The Gates Foundation is, in effect, preparing the ground for them to access new profitable markets in hitherto closed-off developing countries, especially in Africa. The Foundation is especially pushing for the adoption of GM in Africa,” it warns.
One project aims to bring GM vitamin A-enriched bananas to Uganda. But field trials have been branded “biopiracy” since the original gene being used to develop these ‘super-bananas’ was collected in Papua New Guinea.
Lauded for their work in eradicating polio and malaria, amongst other diseases, the report accuses the Gates Foundation of funding privatised health and promoting an increased role for private education providers. The danger, the report says, is that it “turns basic needs into commodities controlled by the market”; such services are likely to be accessed mainly by the rich. It is critical of emphasis on single diseases and points out that this is being done at the neglect of basic health care systems. It also points out that during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, basic healthcare collapsed completely in parts of the region.
The report is critical of the close working relations between the Foundation and major international pharmaceutical corporations and points out many of the same firms have been criticised for their over-pricing of life-saving vaccines. It warns that philanthropic influence is skewing health priorities “towards the interests of wealthy donors (vaccines) rather than resilient health systems”.
Video: Bill Gates' goal to eradicate polio
It accuses the Gates Foundation of promoting specific priorities through agriculture grants, some of which undermine the interests of small farmers. These include promoting industrial agriculture, use of chemical fertilisers and expensive, patented seeds, and a focus on genetically modified seeds. “Much of the Foundation’s work appears to bypass local knowledge,” the report claims.
The criticism echoes the accusations made by the Indian scientist Vandana Shiva who called the Gates Foundation the “greatest threat to farmers in the developing world.”
The Foundation’s emphasis on “technological solutions” often ignores real solutions involving social and economic justice, it argues. “This cannot be given by donors in the form of a climate-resilient crop or cheaper smartphone, but must be about systemic social, economic and political change – issues not represented in the foundation’s funding priorities.”
It calls for the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development to carry out an inquiry into the foundation’s work on top of a British Parliamentary inquiry.
The Gates Foundation said the report “misrepresented” its work. “Our mission is to improve quality of life for the world’s poorest people. This is a complex challenge, and solving it will require a range of approaches as well as the collaboration of governments, NGOs, academic institutions, for-profit companies and philanthropic organisations. Governments are uniquely positioned to provide the leadership and resources necessary to address structural inequalities and ensure that the right solutions reach those most in need. The private sector has access to innovations – for example, in science, medicine and technology – that can save lives. And we believe that the role of philanthropy is to take risks where others can’t or won’t.”
All its work was guided by its partners, it insisted. It refuted claims that it was unaccountable, stating that it was one of the first to join the International Aid Transparency Initiative as well as reporting to the OECD.
Gabriella Stern, spokeswoman for the foundation, said: “For us, results are measured in lives saved and so we will continue to work with governments, non-profits, businesses, and other philanthropists to tackle the complex issues surrounding extreme poverty.
“The Gates Foundation has spent around $34.5bn since its inception, driven by its mission to help people around the world lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. This report rehashes a series of unfounded claims that have been made by others and found wanting.
“Much remains to be done but we are confident that the world is making progress. Working together over the last 15 years, the world has cut extreme poverty, child mortality and malaria deaths by half, reduced maternal mortality by nearly 50 percent, and driven new HIV infections down by 40 per cent.”
Monsanto teams up with World Wildlife Fund to convert Amazon into giant GMO plantation
Thursday, September 17, 2015 by: L.J. Devon,
(NaturalNews) The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a charity that began in 1961, is on the verge of destroying everything it stands for. For decades, the charitable organization played an integral role in conserving important regions while working on behalf of animal welfare around the world. In the new millennia, however, the WWF has strayed from its roots. It has been watered down and infiltrated by the nature-destroying ideas of the biotech industry.
The WWF is not what they once were. In the recently published book, PandaLeaks: The Dark Side of the WWF, German author Wilfried Huismann exposes everything, from the charity's outrageously high salaries to its recent partnership with agrochemical giant Monsanto.
Suppressed new book exposes dangerous relationship between WWF and Monsanto
When the book came out in 2012, the WWF legal team tried to censor it. They succeeded for several months, afraid of being exposed for promoting Monsanto's genetically modified crops. In the fall of 2014, the book was re-released, shedding light on the funds the WWF took from Monsanto. The book endured several lawsuits and revealed the dark side of the WWF's relationship with the multinational agrochemical seed engineer. The book reveals that the WWF collaborated with Monsanto to create a "Round Table on Responsible Soy." This means WWF leaders discussed ways to unleash GMO soy around the world while convincing entire countries that GMOs and agrochemicals are the most environmentally-conscious method of farming.
Monsanto is infamous for "green washing" their products, making people think they are for the environment. The corporation calls their GMO soy a "responsible" choice for protecting the environment. This deceit ultimately infected the WWF, which went along with plans to unleash GMO soy in the Amazon. Now Brazil and Argentina are being turned into GMO plantations as the Amazon is cut down to make way for Monsanto's GMO "save the planet" brainwashing.
The clever operatives at Monsanto have found a way to convince environmentally conscious charities such as the WWF to go along with their plans for agricultural control and world dominance. Every donation that is made to the WWF is now supporting the very ideas that destroy the natural environment. Monsanto's agrochemicals have been linked to mass die-offs of honey bee and monarch butterfly populations. Without these key pollinators, many vegetables and herbs can't reproduce. Monsanto's agrochemicals pose a threat to ecosystems, all the way down to wiping out the good bacteria in the soil and the human gut. When the quality of the soil is ignored, the nutrition of the crop reduces over time, ultimately affecting people's health.
Amazon rain forest being cut to pieces to make room for GMO plantations
The Amazon GMO soy boom is causing millions of acres of rain forest to be cleared. Between 2007 and 2008, nearly 3 million acres were destroyed in the Brazilian Amazonrain forest as logging,soy plantations and cattle ranching took over the region. The WWF has no interest in protecting these regions any more because they are infiltrated by the ideas of Monsanto, which is all for clearing out the rain forest and taking over the area's agriculture.
Monsanto is not feeding the world. They are raping the natural diversity on this planet and controlling what farmers can grow to stay in business. Brazilian soy is now over 90 percent genetically modified. Much of the GM soy is used to sell animal feed back to farmers as their free range, biodiversity-rich farming practices are taken from them and replaced by fields of GMO soy.
ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through the secretive meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporate lobbyists and state legislators vote as equals on ‘model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense. ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to advance their legislative wish lists and can get a tax break for donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers.
Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations.
Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.
ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.
Who funds ALEC?
More than 98% of ALEC's revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009. It has also received grants from some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as: the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation,, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation the Scaifefamily Allegheny Foundation,the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation,to name a few. Less than 2% of ALEC’s funding comes from “Membership Dues” of $50 per year paid by state legislators, a steeply discounted price that may run afoul of state gift bans. For more, see CMD's special report on ALEC funding and spending here
Is it nonpartisan as claimed?
ALEC describes itself as a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The facts show that it currently has one Democrat out of 104 legislators in leadership positions.ALEC members, speakers, alumni, and award winners are a “who’s who” of the extreme right. ALEC has given awards to: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, George H.W. Bush, Charles and David Koch, Richard de Vos, Tommy Thompson, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Rick Perry, Congressman Mark Foley (intern sex scandal), and Congressman Billy Tauzin. ALEC alumni include: Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Congressman Joe Wilson, (who called President Obama a “liar” during the State of the Union address), former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, former House Speaker Tom DeLay, Andrew Card, Donald Rumsfeld (1985 Chair of ALEC’s Business Policy Board), Governor Scott Walker, Governor Jan Brewer, and more. Featured speakers have included: Milton Friedman, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, George Allen, Jessie Helms, Pete Coors, Governor Mitch Daniels and more.
What goes on behind closed doors?
The organization boasts 2,000 legislative members and 300 or more corporate members. The unelected corporate representatives (often registered lobbyists) sit as equals with elected representatives on nine task forces where they have a “voice and a vote” on model legislation. Corporations on ALEC task forces VOTE on the "model" bills and resolutions, and sit as equals with legislators voting on the ALEC task forces and various working groups. Corporate and legislative governing boards also meet jointly each year. (ALEC says only the legislators have a final say on all model bills. ALEC has previously said that "The policies are debated and voted on by all members. Public and private members vote separately on policy. It is important to note that laws are not passed, debated or adopted during this process and therefor no lobbying takes place. That process is done at the state legislature.") The long-term representation of Koch Industries on the governing board means that Koch has had influence over an untold number of ALEC bills. Due to the questionable nature of this partnership with corporations, legislators rarely discuss the origins of the model legislation they bring home. Though thousands of ALEC-approved model bills have been publicly introduced across the country, ALEC’s role facilitating the language in the bills and the corporate vote for them is not well known.
(ALEC legislators sometimes compare the organization to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), yet the two organizations could not be more different. NCSL has zero corporate members. It is funded largely by state government appropriations and conference fees; it has a truly bipartisan governance structure, and there is a large role for nonpartisan professional staff; it does not vote on or promote model legislation; meetings are public and so are any agreed upon documents. Corporations do sponsor receptions at NCSL events through a separate foundation. For more information, see the document ALEC & NCSL.
How do corporations benefit?
Although ALEC claims to take an ideological stance (of supposedly "Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty"), many of the model bills benefit the corporations whose agents write them, shape them, and/or vote to approve them. These are just a few such measures:
Altria/Philip Morris USA benefits from ALEC’s newest tobacco legislation -- an extremely narrow tax break for moist tobacco that would make fruit flavored tobacco products cheaper and more attractive to youngsters.
Tobacco firms such as Reynolds and pharmaceutical firms such as Bayer benefit directly from ALEC tort reform measures that make it harder for Americans to sue when injured by dangerous products.
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) benefits directly from the anti-immigrant legislation introduced in Arizona and other states that requires expanded incarceration and housing of immigrants, along with other bills from ALEC’s crime task force. (While CCA has stated that it left ALEC in late 2010 after years of membership on the Criminal Justice Task Force and even co-chairing it, its prison privatization bills remain ALEC "models.")
Why would a legislator be interested in advancing cookie-cutter bills that are corporate give-aways for global firms located outside of their district? ALEC’s appeal rests largely on the fact that legislators receive an all-expenses-paid trip that provides many part-time legislators with vacations that they could not afford on their own, along with the opportunity to rub shoulders with wealthy captains of industry (major prospective out-of-state donors to their political campaigns). For a few hours of work on a task force and a couple of indoctrination sessions by ALEC experts, part-time legislators can bring the whole family to ALEC’s annual convention, work for a few hours, then stay in swank hotels, attend cool parties -- even strip clubs-- and raise funds for the campaign coffer, all heavily subsidized by the corporate till. In 2009, ALEC spent $251,873 on childcare so mom and dad could have fun.
Is it lobbying?
In most ordinary people's view, handing bills to legislators so they can introduce them is the very definition of lobbying. ALEC says "no lobbying takes place." The current chairman of ALEC’s corporate board is W. Preston Baldwin III, until recently a lobbyist and the Vice President of State Government Affairs at UST Inc., a tobacco firm now owned by Altria/Phillip Morris USA. Altria is advancing a very short, specific bill to change the way moist tobacco products (such as fruit flavored “snus”) are taxed-- to make it cheaper and more attractive to young tobacco users according to health experts. In fact, 20 of the 24 corporate representatives on ALEC’s “Private Enterprise Board” are lobbyists representing major firms such as Koch Industries, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Wal-Mart and Johnson and Johnson.
ALEC makes old-fashioned lobbying obsolete. Once legislators return to their state with corporate-sponsored ALEC legislation in hand, the legislators themselves become “super-lobbyists” for ALEC’s corporate agenda, cutting out the middleman. Yet ALEC enjoys a 501(c)(3) classification, which allows it to keep its tax-exempt status while accepting grants from foundations, corporations, and other donors. In our view, the activities that corporate members engage in should be considered lobbying by the IRS, and the entity that facilitates that effort to influence state law, ALEC, should also be considered to be engaged predominantly in lobby-related activities, not simply “educational” activities. Re-classifying ALEC as primarily engaged in lobbying facilitation would mean that donations to it would not count as tax-deductible for businesses and foundations. Common Cause filed a complaint with the IRS on July 14, 2011, setting forth evidence supporting its complaint that ALEC is engaged in lobbying despite its claims to do no lobbying.
Is it legal?
ALEC’s operating model raises many ethical and legal concerns. Each state has a different set of ethics laws or rules. The presence of lobbyists alone may cause ethics problems for some state legislators. Wisconsin, for instance, generally requires legislators who go to events with registered lobbyists to pay on their own dime, yet in many states, legislators use public funds to attend ALEC meetings. According to one study, $3 million in public funds was spent to attend ALEC meetings in one year. Some legislators use their personal funds and are reimbursed by ALEC. Such “scholarships” may be disclosed if gifts are required to be reported. But should the legislators be allowed to accept this money when lobbyists are present at the meeting? Still other legislators use their campaign funds to go and are again reimbursed by ALEC; in some states, campaign funds are only allowed to be used to attend campaign events.
In short, many state ethics codes might consider the free vacation, steeply discounted membership fees, free day care or travel scholarships to be “gifts” that should be disallowed or disclosed.