Vol. 46, Issue 1 ‣ news briefs

Finish the Ride

U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff, California State Assemblyman Mike Gatto, and L.A. City Council Members Mitch O’Farrell and Tom LaBonge joined Damian Kevitt and some 700 L.A. bicyclists on an April Sunday morning in East Hollywood for “Finish the Ride”—a bike ride designed to raise awareness of hit-and-run crime and solutions to it.

A Scientology minister in Los Angeles, Kevitt nearly died in 2013 when a minivan hit him head-on, bouncing him off his bicycle and dragging him under the vehicle for a quarter-mile onto a freeway. The driver sped away and has never been identified. Kevitt suffered 20 broken bones and had a leg amputated below the knee, but he never lost his spirit or his desire to help others.

Kevitt founded Finish the Ride, a bicyclists’ organization to assist other hit-and-run victims and raise money for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Challenged Athletes Foundation. To finish the ride Kevitt had started on the day he was hit, hundreds of bicyclists rode the 6.5 miles from the Church of Scientology on Sunset Boulevard near Vermont Avenue in East Hollywood to the Autry Museum in Griffith Park, passing by the site of the accident. Along the route, Kevitt passed out copies of the common-sense moral code The Way to Happiness that encourages honesty and responsibility.

Last year, more than 21,000 hit-and-run crimes in Los Angeles resulted in 1,200 injuries and 41 deaths. The California State Assembly and the Los Angeles City Council are reviewing proposals to stiffen penalties for drivers who leave the scene of an accident.

Still Separate After All These Years

Bettmann/Corbis

Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford (right) and the rest of the legendary Little Rock Nine walked into Central High School in 1957 to force integration in Arkansas schools. “Separate but equal” education had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1954 landmark Brown vs Board of Education. Now, 60 years after Brown, minority students are still learning in segregated classrooms, according to a new report from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. Black students attend schools that are becoming increasingly segregated, and Latino children go to primarily Latino schools.

Making a New Manchurian Candidate?

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is launching a $70 million program to implant electronic devices into the brains of military personnel diagnosed with “psychiatric disorders.” Psychiatric assault on the brain dates to the 1950s when CIA psychiatrist Dr. Robert Heath experimented with jamming live electrodes into the brains of black prisoners to alter their behavior, barbaric experiments exposed in Freedom.

The DARPA version of this new psychiatric mind control would modify behavior using microchips implanted in the brain. In 2013, a New Zealand programmer and security expert warned such devices could be remotely accessed by hackers and governments and used to manipulate a person to commit mass murder.

20% by 2020

The European Union has made a unilateral commitment for 2020 to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from its 28 Member States by 20 percent compared to 1990 levels. The EU says it will increase the reduction to 30 percent if other major economies agree to meet their emissions targets. The UN maintains that global emissions must be cut 40-70 percent by 2050.

2014 Year of the Hack

Hackers have exposed the personal information of 110 million Americans, roughly half the nation’s adults, in the past year alone. More mind-boggling: up to 432 million hacked accounts, CNN/Money reports. The damage is real. Each record typically includes personal information, such as name, debit or credit card, email, phone number, birthday, password, security questions and physical address. Even if only basic information is stolen, it can easily be matched up with stolen credit card data and enable fraudulent use.

Drugging Toddlers Now Legal

A firestorm was set off when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May that at least 10,000 American 2- and 3-year-olds are being prescribed Ritalin and Adderall to treat purported Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D.). Children covered by Medicaid are even more apt to be prescribed the drugs, which are outside any pediatric protocols. Swift and strong criticism of such use on the very young of drugs that can suppress growth and cause insomnia and hallucinations came from diverse quarters of the medical community. “It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” a children’s mental health consultant told the New York Times. “We obviously don’t have our act together for little children.”

Drug use decreases

In the northern Israeli city of Tamra, the Foundation for a Drug-Free World partnered with the Federation of Working and Studying Youth and distributed thousands of Truth About Drugs booklets. Over 5,000 students participated in lectures and educational events resulting in a 70 percent drop in drug use.

Teen Drinking Down Down Under

More Australian teenagers are drinking less, according to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

The study shows that young people ages 14 to 17 who do not drink alcohol rose from 33 percent in 2001 to more than 50 percent in 2010.

“This encouraging report signals that young people are interested in living healthier and more productively,” said Virginia Stewart of the national public affairs office of the Church of Scientology in Australia. In the past decade, Scientology volunteers have distributed hundreds of thousands of drug and alcohol information booklets and signed some 300,000 Australian young people on to a drug-free pledge.

200 years

17 May 1814, Norway’s Constitution was signed and sealed.

17 May 2014, for the bicentennial celebration, the Norwegian Parliament passed a sweeping amendment that added a new human rights section to the 200-year-old document, guaranteeing rights to life and liberty, protection against slavery and more.