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Harvey Weinstein Arraigned on Rape, Criminal Sex Act Charges

Source: PBS News Hour

Harvey Weinstein has been arraigned and charged with rape and criminal sex act charges. The lawyer for the disgraced film producer says his client intends to plead not guilty to charges of rape and sex abuse, after being taken to a New York courthouse in handcuffs where he posted a $1 million bail.




The Warning Signs to Look for When a Potential Shooter Has No Criminal History

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, is the suspect in a deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, May 18, 2018. / Galveston County Sheriff

Meghan Keneally | ABC News

Some school shooters act out and get in trouble with either school officials or police before making the deadly decision to open fire.

For others, the shooting may be their first significant instance of violence.

By all public accounts so far, Dimitrios Pagourtzis fell into the latter category up until the moment he shot and killed 10 people at his high school and injured 13 others last Friday.

Pagourtzis’s clean record contrasts with that of Nikolas Cruz, the alleged shooter who killed 17 people in Parkland in February.

According to school records obtained by ABC affiliate WPLG, Cruz was involved with an assault in January 2017, less than a month before the shooting. On the same day as the assault, he was suspended for one day and a threat assessment was ordered for him. He had been suspended for two days one month earlier. It is unclear what the result of the threat assessment was or whether one was even conducted.

In spite of an apparent lack of disciplinary issues with Pagourtzis, that doesn’t mean there were no warning signs, experts say.

Scanning social media

Steve Gomez, a former FBI special agent in charge and current ABC News consultant, pointed to a T-shirt bearing the words “Born to Kill” that the teen posted on a social media account less than a month before the shooting.

“Threatening people at school, talking about violence, sharing social media posts showing guns, knives, T-shirts that say, in his case, ‘Born to Kill,’ are all signs,” Gomez said.

PHOTO: A t-shirt with the words Born To Kill is pictured in a screenshot from the Facebook account of Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the suspect in the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, May 18, 2018.Facebook via USA Today Network
A t-shirt with the words “Born To Kill” is pictured in a screenshot from the Facebook account of Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the suspect in the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, May 18, 2018.more +

Robert Boyce, a recently retired New York Police Department chief of detectives who is now an ABC News consultant, noted that social media can hold a number of clues.

“If someone sees something eerily or out of character on social media, someone needs to step forward. Go tell a teacher,” he said.

Boyce was still working for the NYPD immediately after the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, and he said suspected school shooter complaints at schools “went way up” in the aftermath.

Other clues

Pagourtzis had reportedly been wearing a trench coat and heavy boots in the weeks before the shooting — something that should have raised questions given that temperatures in Texas regularly hit the 80s and 90s in late spring, Boyce said.

Other changes in behavior, such as self-imposed social isolation, could also suggest a turn for the worse, Boyce said.

Sandy Hook Promise, a gun violence prevention group founded by the parents of two victims of the 2012 elementary school shooting, started a “Know the Signs” program that teaches students, parents and educators how to recognize red flags on social media and elsewhere before violence unfolds.

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Royal Family Expresses Thanks After Harry and Meghan’s Radical Day

Meghan Markle, now known as the Duchess of Sussex, chose a dress by Givenchy’s Clare Waight Kellerto marry Prince Harry | CNN

Katie Hunt & Sheena McKenzie | CNN

For Harry and Meghan, it was the morning after the night before. For the rest of Britain, it was a day to reflect on an electrifying wedding that’s being hailed as a transformative moment for the British monarchy.

After a ceremony that shook up royal tradition, a biography of the new Duchess of Sussex has appeared on the website of the British royal family, and it firmly emphasizes her activist credentials. High on the page, in a bold font, is a quote from a speech the then Meghan Markle delivered on International Women’s Day in 2015: “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.”
It is a quote that says much about the newest member of the royal family, whose decision to walk unaccompanied partway down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle set the tone for an unconventional royal wedding.
The last public glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was on Saturday evening when they swept out of Windsor Castle in a vintage Jaguar convertible and drove south to Frogmore House, where Harry’s father, Prince Charles, hosted an evening reception for 200 of the couple’s friends and family.
Fireworks lit up the sky as guests, including the tennis star Serena Williams and the Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, celebrated alongside members of the Royal Family.
For the evening reception, Meghan changed into a bespoke, lily-white Stella McCartney high-necked dress. She wore an emerald-cut aquamarine ring that once belonged to Harry’s mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Harry switched into black tie after wearing military dress for the ceremony.
All 600 guests were invited to an afternoon reception, hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Hall. They heard Elton John — who was a friend of the late Princess Diana and played at her funeral — perform three songs, while Harry’s best man, Prince William, acted as compere.
Rather than a conventional sit-down meal, guests were served canapes featuring langoustines and asparagus and “bowl food” that can be eaten standing up. A famously nontraditional lemon-and-elderflower sponge cake chosen by Harry and Meghan was cut and served.

A novel evening soiree, too

In the evening, Harry drove Meghan from Windsor Castle to Frogmore House in a Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero — a vintage E-Type, originally built in 1968, converted to run on electric power. It bore the number plate E19 05 18, the date of the wedding.
In another break with tradition, Meghan is understood to have made a speech at the evening party.
Prince William is reported to have made what was described by British newspaper the Daily Mail as a “naughty” speech. The newspaper reported that midnight snacks of candyfloss and “dirty burgers” were on the menu, along with cocktails called “When Harry met Meghan.”
The couple chose Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” for their first dance, the Telegraph reported.
A guest told the newspaper there was laughter and tears of joy when Prince Harry made a speech.
“He couldn’t get very far, as every time he said ‘my wife’ everyone cheered, and he had to go back to the beginning,” said Veronica German, director of the charity Dolen Cymru Wales Lesotho Link. “It was very funny.”
A friend of Prince Harry told The Sunday Times that Prince Charles “gave the most lovely, moving speech welcoming Meghan to the family.”

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5th Annual ILLUMINATE Film Festival Offers Movies That Stir Your Soul: Michael Franti, Mooji and More

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release                                             

Contact: Betsy Klein714-478-0353

5th Annual ILLUMINATE Film Festival Offers Movies That Stir Your Soul:
Michael Franti, Mooji and More 

Film has the power to illuminate, to make us feel deeply, essentially taking us to a place beyond ourselves.  As a medium, it opens hearts and minds, and our response to it is both visceral and personal. Underneath this response lies the unspoken connection between us all, and nowhere is this more evident than at the ILLUMINATE Film Festival. Renowned for their groundbreaking immersive approach to the film festival experience, the 5th annual ILLUMINATE Film Festival returns May 30th-June 3rd.  The premier conscious film festival, which some have referred to as the Sundance of the conscious film industry, ILLUMINATE is dedicated to elevating awareness and inspiring lasting transformation through cinema.

Each season, ILLUMINATE searches out the year’s most compelling, paradigm-shifting, life-affirming films. For their 5th annual Festival, they have selected 26 conscious narratives, documentaries and shorts. The schedule includes evening spotlights, special guests, post-screening presentations with directors and producers, filmmaker panels, nightly parties and live musical performances.

View the entire 2018 Illuminate lineup and schedule here.

“Film as a medium has a paradigm shifting power. Our commitment to audience members is to support them on their own journey.” Says Festival Founder and Executive Director Danette Wolpert, “This year’s lineup answers both micro and macro-level questions: how do we become the best and fullest version of ourselves? How do we make a true and measurable impact on the world?  Individually and collectively, how do we rise?”

Participants in the festival are able to mingle with some of the renowned thought leaders of today, as well as like-minded individuals set on being the change they wish to see in the world.

The festival kicks off Wednesday, May 30th with a free screening of The Push featuring the inspiring story of the indomitable Grant Korgan. Opening Night features the Festival World Premiere of the Emmy-nominated Live Your Quest, which shares the wisdom of Michael Beckwith, Jack Canfield, Lisa Nichols, Tom Chi and others who explore the science, psychology and spirituality behind living a life of passion and purpose.

The festival will close with the latest from musician Michael Franti; Stay Human. This heart-drenched film reflects on Franti’s personal journey facing adversity as a child, struggling to find his voice as a musician, and how he came to find inspiration through six stories of extraordinary change-makers across the globe who chose to overcome cynicism through optimism and hope.  There will be a Q&A with Franti after the film.

New this year is the festival’s $5,000 cash prize, the Mangurama Award for Conscious Documentary Storytelling, which will be awarded to the most transformative non-fiction film that exhibits a strong story arc, compelling subjects and high production value.

For the first time, ILLUMINATE will be offering the cutting-edge Reel Healing Online program. This multi-week educational web series, hosted by both established and emerging leaders in the field of transformation, will allow participants to more fully integrate a film’s message into their lives after the festival wraps.

One of the luminaries offering a Reel Healing Online program is rising star and bestselling author Hal Elrod whose work has been featured in segments on every major television network. Part of the next generation of game changers, his film The Miracle Morningfeatures leading research detailing extraordinary but simple processes, made up of daily practices, that allow people to quickly transcend their limitations, enabling them to maximize their full potential.

In live discussions, festival goers will hear from visionary thinkers such as national GMO expert Jeffrey Smith, Reverent June Juliet Gatlin, spiritual advisor to the late Michael Jackson, Tom Chi, founding team member of Google X, and John Raatz, who co-founded the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment with author Eckhart Tolle and actor Jim Carrey.

Other highlights include an online Satsang with enlightened master Moojibaba, a Reel Healing with Somewhere in Time producer and Spiritual Cinema Circle co-founder Stephen Simon, and 11 world premieres including 3100: Run And Become, a sweeping examination of running’s spiritual nature; Calling All Earthlings, an exploration of the controversial ET and Nikola Tesla inspired electromagnetic dome built by George Van Tassel, a one-time Howard Hughes confidante; From Shock to Awe, a gripping look into controversial therapies for PTSD; The Edge of Paradise, which tells the story of Taylor Camp, a hippie paradise started by Elizabeth Taylor’s brother in 1969, You Are What You Act, a feature doc that exposes an intriguing body mind pattern among many of the world’s action heroes; The Way Home, which points people past their limiting beliefs and attachments; Black Star, which explores art as a healing modality for addiction; and Living Music, a documentary short chronicling a rehabilitative journey of artistic experimentation and unconventional healing.

In addition, the festival will host its 5th Conscious Film Convergence, a series of film-industry programs offering panels on pitching, film funding and distribution. Added to the offering this year are the Take Twenty Mentoring Sessions, a speed networking opportunity where advice seekers can spend twenty minutes each with pioneers and leaders in conscious entertainment.

Finally, ILLUMINATE will be honoring author Lynne Twist with the Conscious Visionary Award. Author of The Soul of Money, this SuperSoul Sunday favorite and founder of the Pachamama Alliance is a recognized global visionary committed to ending world hunger, supporting social justice and environmental sustainability, and reframing our society’s relationship with money.

VIP All-Access Passes include unlimited film screenings, VIP receptions, Conscious Film Convergence panels, Luminary Living Room series and the Virtual Reality Zone. (Access to Filmmaker Labs is not included.) Passholders also receive priority theater access.

For tickets go to: https://illuminatefilmfestival.com/tickets-passes.

The 2018 ILLUMINATE Film Festival is scheduled for May 30 – June 3, 2018, at the Sedona Performing Arts Center and Mary D. Fisher Theatre. For more information, visit www.illuminatefilmfestival.com.

Sponsors of the 5th annual ILLUMINATE Film Festival include: Sedona Chamber of Commerce, Natural Action Technologies, Chocolatree Organic Oasis, El Rincon, Conscious Life News, The Lodge at Sedona and Sedona Real Inn & Suites.

ILLUMINATE Film Festival, a 501(c)3 sponsored organization, is the world’s premier film festival for conscious cinema. For more information, visit www.illuminatefilmfestival.com or call 928-421-1108.




‘This Is America’: Breaking Down Childish Gambino’s Powerful New Music Video

Donald Glover / YOUTUBE

Sonia Rao | Washington Post

While hosting “Saturday Night Live,” Donald Glover dropped a music video for the new single “This Is America” by his rapper alter ego Childish Gambino. Watch it once, and your eyes will naturally be drawn to his movements and facial expressions. Watch it again, but focus on the chaos reigning in the background. Watch it a third time, and the reason for this juxtaposition becomes increasingly clear.

Because this is Glover we’re talking about, there’s a surreal element to all that goes on. He and frequent collaborator Hiro Murai — who has directed a number of “Atlanta” episodes, including the haunting “Teddy Perkins” — pack every frame with visual references to racism and related violence in the United States, from Glover mimicking minstrel characters to cellphones recording it all. The video racked up more than 30 million views on YouTube in 48 hours, and sleuths among those viewers have taken to social media to share their interpretations.

Let’s break it down.

(Donald Glover/YouTube)

“This Is America” begins with a man seated in a warehouse, playing a guitar. Many misidentified him as the father of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager killed in 2012. The man is actually Calvin the Second, a Los Angeles-based artist who shared on Instagram that he “got to be a part of history.”

The camera soon finds Glover. He stands behind Calvin the Second, whose head has been covered with a bag, and shoots him with a gun pulled out of his back pocket. As several have pointed out on Twitter, his stance while holding the weapon mimics that of the minstrel character Jim Crow, the origin of the term used to describe pre-Civil rights-era segregation laws.

(Donald Glover/YouTube)

Glover’s erratic dancing, choreographed by Sherrie Silver, distracts from everything happening in the background throughout the video — purposefully so, it would seem. Paired with exaggerated expressions like the one pictured above, his movements further the connection to minstrel shows, a form of entertainment popularized in the early 1800s that mocked black people in the United States. The stock characters were usually played by white people in blackface, though some all-black groups performed under white directors.

(Donald Glover/YouTube)

Glover’s character, who appears to represent how white American culture oppresses black people, periodically kills innocent performers. As a choir joyfully sings the refrain — “Get your money, black man, get your money” — Glover slips out from behind a door and dances in front of the choir. He is handed an assault weapon, shoots all 10 singers and walks away. The imagery evokes the 2015 Charleston church massacre, in which attendees of a prayer service were murdered by self-described white supremacist Dylann Roof.

SEE THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE…..




ILLUMINATE Film Festival’s Industry Programs Break New Ground

The acclaimed ILLUMINATE Film Festival in Sedona, Arizona is back May 30-June 4 and this year’s Conscious Film Convergence (CFC) headliners includes some of the most influential leaders working to advance conscious film content today.  The industry component of the Festival, the CFC is geared to filmmakers and offers attendees an invaluable opportunity to learn from and interact with speakers both at sessions and nightly parties. True to the mission of the festival, the goal off the CFC is to elevate global consciousness through cinema by supporting emerging voices in the field of conscious entertainment.

ILLUMINATE hosts the extraordinary Take Twenty Mentoring Sessions as part of the CFC. The brainchild Festival Founder Danette Wolpert who envisioned what twenty minutes of uninterrupted, full focus, one-on-one time with an industry leader would do for a filmmaker.  Participants can discuss projects, ask questions, pick their brains on finance, marketing, distribution. Take Twenty is only available to Filmmaker, All-Access or Convergence pass holders on a first-come, first-served basis

The series opens on Friday, June 1, with Funding Your Dreams. Moderator JoAnne Fishburn the Founder and CEO Good Influence Films will guide a lively discussion featuring Claire Aguilar the Director of Programming and Policy for the International Documentary Association, filmmaker Lisa Leeman whose films include Awake: The Life of Yogananda, One Lucky Elephant and Crazy Wisdom and Producer and Founder of Mangusta Productions / mangu.tv and  venture capitalist  Giancarlo Canavesio.

This  scintillating group  of experts will share what it takes to get a project out of dreams and onto the screen. Expect insights from their own successes and challenges as they share helpful hints for writing pitch documents, winning grants, landing investors, tapping film funds and leveraging broadcasters.

On Saturday, June 2, the CFC series continues with Pitching With Presence featuring John Raatz the Co-founder of the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment and Valerie Vandermeer the Founder of Post Paradigm Consulting & Scaling Change.  From sabotaging body language to conceiving, crafting and developing a pitch this workshop will show participants how to master one of the most challenging aspects of the film industry.

The series closes with Distribution Magic from 2017’s Finest also on Saturday, June 2Distribution experts will unpack creative approaches as they case study how some of the newest models were used in last year’s conscious film releases HEAL, Walk With Me, and Samsara. They’ll reveal the secrets of success for theatrical, non-theatrical, theatrical-on-demand, DVD, digital/VOD, and re-releases. This exciting panel features the CEO of Conscious Good Trina Wyatt and Producer of HEAL Adam Schomer and CEO of GATHR Films Scott Glosserman.

ILLUMINATE also hosts the extraordinary Take Twenty Mentoring Sessions as part of the CFC. The brainchild Festival Founder Danette Wolpert who envisioned what twenty minutes of uninterrupted, full focus, one-on-one time with an industry leader would do for a filmmaker.  Participants can discuss projects, ask questions, pick their brains on finance, marketing, distribution. Take Twenty is only available to Filmmaker, All-Access or Convergence pass holders on a first-come, first-served basis

Finally The Huddle brings veteran filmmakers, producers, distributors, marketers, publicists, financiers and brand partners face-to-face and heart-to-heart to explore the collective potential to elevate human consciousness.  This collaborative, experiential, dynamic by invitation only event is unprecedented in the film festival world. For more information about The Huddle please contact the ILLUMINATE Film Festival.

ILLUMINATE also hosts a very special filmmaker lab series.  This year they are honored to have Paola Di Florio and Peter Rader facilitating this exciting Filmmaking Lab, “From Source to Screen.” Di Florio and Rader are the filmmakers behind the globally successful Awake: The Life of Yogananda, which won the Audience Award at ILLUMINATE 2014 and went on to a global theatrical release, followed by digital/DVD & Netflix.

To apply for the Filmmaker Lab, please send an E-mail to lab@illuminatefilmfestival.com with “Source to Screen Lab” in subject line. Describe your project in 500 words or less. Include a brief bio, where you are in your process, your goals in bringing your project to the marketplace and what you hope to get out of this lab.  The deadline to apply is May 11th.

For tickets go to: https://illuminatefilmfestival.com/tickets-passes.

ILLUMINATE Film Festival, the world’s premier film festival for conscious cinema will be held May 31-June 4, 2017. CFC events will be held at the Sedona Performing Arts Center, 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road, Sedona, AZ.

For more information, visit www.ILLUMINATEFilmFestival.com.




ILLUMINATE Film Festival Reveals 2018 Lineup

PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release
Contact: Betsy Klein, 714-478-0353

Sedona, Arizona (May 6, 2018) Renowned for their groundbreaking immersive approach to the film festival experience, the 5th annual ILLUMINATE Film Festival returns May 30th- June 3rd.  The premier conscious film festival, ILLUMINATE is dedicated to elevating awareness and inspiring lasting transformation through cinema.

With this intent, each season ILLUMINATE searches out the year’s most compelling, paradigm shifting, life-affirming films. For their 5th annual Festival, they have selected 26 conscious narratives, documentaries and shorts. The schedule includes evening spotlights, special guests, post-screening presentations with directors and producers, filmmaker panels, nightly parties and live musical performances.

“As a medium, film viscerally immerses us, opening our hearts and minds to larger possibilities.” Says Festival Founder and Executive Director Danette Wolpert, “This year’s lineup answers both micro and macro-level questions: how do we become the best and fullest version of ourselves? How do we make a true and measurable impact on the world?  Individually and collectively, how do we rise?”

Participants in the festival are able to mingle with some of the renowned thought leaders of today, as well as like-minded individuals set on being the change they wish to see in the world.

The festival kicks off Wednesday, May 30 with a free screening of The Push featuring the inspiring story of the indomitable Grant Korgan.

Opening Night features the Festival World Premiere of the Emmy-nominated Live Your Quest, which shares the wisdom of Michael Beckwith, Jack Canfield, Lisa Nichols, Tom Chi and others who explore the science, psychology and spirituality behind living a life of passion and purpose.

The festival will close with the latest from beloved world renowned musician Michael Franti; Stay Human. This heart-drenched film reflects on Franti’s personal journey facing adversity as a child, struggling to find his voice as a musician, and how he came to find inspiration through six stories of extraordinary change-makers across the globe who chose to overcome cynicism through optimism and hope.

New this year is the festival’s $5,000 cash prize, the Mangurama Award for Conscious Documentary Storytelling, which will be awarded to the most transformative non-fiction film that exhibits a strong story arc, compelling subjects and high production value.

For the first time, ILLUMINATE will be offering the cutting edge Reel Healing Online program. This  multi-week educational web series, hosted by both established and emerging leaders in the field of transformation,  will allow participants to more fully integrate a film’s message into their lives after the festival wraps.

One of the luminaries offering a Reel Healing Online program is rising star and bestselling author Hal Elrod whose work has been featured in segments on every major television network. Part of the next generation of game changers, his film The Miracle Morning features leading research detailing extraordinary but simple processes, made up of daily practices, that allows people to quickly transcend their limitations, enabling them to maximize their full potential.

In work-in-progress WeRise, a group of the nation’s top social innovators propose new models of success in business, medicine, education, politics, entertainment, technology and happiness to empower humankind. An inspiring call to action, it features insight from The Dalai Lama, Arianna Huffington, John Mackey, Alanis Morrisette, Moby, Joe Dispenza, Tony Robbins, Lynne Twist and more.

Other highlights include an online Satsang with enlightened master Moojibaba, a Reel Healing with Spiritual Cinema Circle Co-founder Stephen Simon and 11 world premieres including 3100: Run And Become, a sweeping examination of running’s spiritual nature; Calling All Earthlings, an exploration of the controversial ET and Nikola Tesla inspired electromagnetic dome built by George Van Tassel, a one-time Howard Hughes confidante; From Shock to Awe, a gripping look into controversial therapies for PTSD; The Edge of Paradise, which tells the story of Taylor Camp, a hippie paradise started by Elizabeth Taylor’s brother in 1969, You Are What You Act, a feature doc that exposes an intriguing body mind pattern among many of the world’s action heroes; Black Star which explores art as a healing modality for addiction; and Living Music, a documentary short chronicling a rehabilitative journey of artistic experimentation and unconventional healing.

In addition, the festival will host its 5th Conscious Film Convergence, a series of film-industry programs offering panels on pitching, film funding and distribution. Added to the offering this year are the Take Twenty Mentoring Sessions, a speed networking opportunity where advice seekers can spend twenty minutes each with pioneers and leaders of the conscious film industry.

Finally ILLUMINATE will be honoring author Lynne Twist with the Conscious Visionary Award. Author of The Soul of Money, this SuperSoul Sunday favorite and founder of the Pachamama Alliance is a recognized global visionary committed to ending world hunger, supporting social justice and environmental sustainability, and reframing our society’s relationship with money.

View the full selection of films and the schedule HERE on ILLUMINATE’s website.

VIP All-Access Passes include unlimited film screenings, VIP receptions, Conscious Film Convergence panels, Luminary Living Room series and the Virtual Reality Zone. (Access to Filmmaker Labs is not included.) Passholders also receive priority theater access.

Patrons can take advantage of discounted early-bird pricing through April 20th.  Early Bird All-Access Passes can be purchased online for $349 until April 20 ($444 after that date). Passes are on sale now and can be purchased at www.illuminatefilmfestival.com.

The 2018 ILLUMINATE Film Festival is scheduled for May 30 – June 3, 2018 at the Sedona Performing Arts Center and Mary D. Fisher Theatre. For more information, visit www.illuminatefilmfestival.com.

Sponsors of the 5th annual ILLUMINATE Film Festival include: Sedona Chamber of Commerce, Natural Action Technologies, ChocolaTree Organic Oasis, International Documentary Association, Conscious Life News, The Lodge at Sedona and Sedona Real Inn & Suites.

ILLUMINATE Film Festival, a 501(c)3 sponsored organization, is the world’s premier film festival for conscious cinema. For more information, visit www.illuminatefilmfestival.com or call 928-421-1108.




Bill Cosby Found Guilty on All Charges

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives with his spokesman Andrew Wyatt for deliberations at his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., April 26, 2018.

 

By Chris Francescani, Linsey Davis & Bill Hutchinson |  ABC NEWS

It was a long, uphill battle, years in the making, but prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, finally won the conviction on felony sexual assault charges of the man once revered as “America’s Dad.”

At the age of 80, Bill Cosby was convicted today on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from drugging and molesting a woman in his suburban Philadelphia home 14 years ago.

As the verdict was read just before 2 p.m. in the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Cosby leaned his head down, took a deep breath and appeared to close his eyes.

Cosby’s main accuser, Andrea Constand, and two other women who say Cosby also drugged and sexually assaulted them were in the courtroom and burst into tears as the verdict was announced.

“I feel like my faith in humanity has been restored,” one of the women, Lili Bernard, said after hearing the verdict. “I stand here in the spirit of Martin Luther King, who said that the arc of the moral universe is long but today it has bent towards justice.

“Today, this jury has shown what the #MeTo movement is saying, that women are worthy of being believed,” she said. “And I thank the jury, I thank the prosecution.”

The conviction came about 11 months after a mistrial was declared in Cosby’s first trial when a jury failed to reach a verdict.

The jury of seven men and five women began deliberating Wednesday and spent a little over 12 hours going over evidence presented to them over the last two weeks before rendering their unanimous decision.

“Andrea Constand came here to Norristown for justice and that is what 12 jurors from Montgomery County provided her,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said during a post-verdict news conference. “We have shown from our record that money and power or who you are will not stop us from a criminal investigation or prosecuting a case.”

Steele, who prosecuted the case with assistant district attorneys Kristen Feden and Stewart Ryan, added that the investigation unmasked Cosby as “a man who has spent decades preying on women that he drugged and sexually assaulted.”

Steele said he will move to get Cosby, a multimillionaire, to pay for not only the cost of this trial but the previous one as well. He noted that lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau said in his opening argument that the $3.38 million Cosby paid in 2006 to settle a sexual assault lawsuit filed against him by Constand was a “paltry sum.”

“So clearly the cost of prosecution in this matter should not be a problem for the defendant,” Steele said.

As Steel spoke, Constand stood stoically nearby but did not make a statement to reporters.

“He used his celebrity, he used his wealth, he used his network of supporters to help him conceal his crimes,” Steele said. “And now we really know today who was behind that act, who the real Bill Cosby was and a jury has spoken with one voice in a court of law and found the defendant guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his Elkins Park home.”

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How One Bullet Shattered A Body and a Family

Image via CNN

San Diego (CNN):

Just one bullet.

It shattered Chelsea Romo’s left eye. It nearly blinded her right.
It exploded inside her head. It caused two hematomas that physically shifted the position of her brain.
Shrapnel exploded throughout her skull and face. So much that it clogged a machine doctors later used to suck out the debris.
That single high-velocity bullet was among 1,100 others fired by the Las Vegas gunman who attacked the crowd at a country music festival five months ago.
It did exactly what a round fired by an AR-15 was intended to do: inflict maximum damage. Rounds from similar guns caused the brutal physical wounds suffered by victims in Las Vegas, a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and a school in Parkland, Florida. It is why the AR-15 and similar rifles are again at the forefront of today’s student-led debate about whether some guns simply should not be available to civilians.

Chelsea Romo, with her children Blakely and Gavin, before she was shot.

A piece of shrapnel that came to the surface of Chelsea Romo's nose.

The 28-year-old mother of a 5-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl thought she would never get to see them again.

“I’ve thought about as my daughter grew up and not seeing her get married or seeing her become a woman and seeing her face as she matures,” Romo says.
But Romo has experienced what her eye doctors repeatedly tell her is a miracle. Her left eye is an empty socket. But with the help of a hard lens she must put in and pop out each day, the sight in her right eye is getting better.

Total blackness to a blurry light

Romo doesn’t remember the gunshot that changed her life. She was standing in the front row at the Route 91 festival in Las Vegas on October 1 when the gunfire started and her friend told her to duck.
Romo held the left side of her face as she turned to her friend.
“I can’t see,” Romo told her. Everything was orange.

After that, it was total blackness for a week.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE….




#MeToo and #TimesUp Have Pushed 48% of Companies To Review Pay Policies

By Julia Carpenter | CNN Money

#TimesUp for the gender pay gap — at least in some workplaces.

In a recent survey of human resources executives from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement service firm, 48% of companies say they’re reviewing their pay policies with an eye toward closing the compensation gap between male and female employees.

Colleen Madden, director of public relations at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said the survey was inspired by the ongoing conversation about women’s equality in the workplace, one ignited in October when the #MeToo movement swept the nation.

“A lot of our customers were interested in what they should do with their sexual harassment policies, and then we thought the next movement likely would be pay parity,” Madden says. “There’s a demand for even further equality.”

Research shows that women, on average, earn around 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.

The gap is even wider for women of color.

Some companies have sought to correct the imbalance among their own employees. After disclosing small differences in employee pay earlier this year, Citigroup announced it will give raises to even salaries between men, women and minority employees. At Salesforce, CEO Marc Benioff says the company has spent around $3 million to raise women’s salaries so they’re equal to men’s.

Other companies like Whole Foods and Buffer have implemented salary transparency policies that eliminate the secrecy surrounding pay.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE…..




Will This Be Trial That Puts Cosby Away?

Image via Associated Press

By MICHAEL R. SISAK | Associated Press

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby paid nearly $3.4 million to the woman he is charged with sexually assaulting, a prosecutor revealed to jurors Monday, answering one of the biggest questions surrounding the case as the comedian’s retrial got underway.

District Attorney Kevin Steele highlighted the 2006 civil settlement during his opening statement, in an apparent attempt to suggest Cosby wouldn’t have paid out so much money if the accusations against him were false. Cosby’s lawyers have signaled they intend to use the settlement to argue that Andrea Constand falsely accused the former TV star in hopes of landing a big payoff.

The amount had been confidential — and was kept out of the first trial — but a judge ruled that both sides could discuss it at this one.

“This case is about trust,” Steele told the jury. “This case is about betrayal and that betrayal leading to the sexual assault of a woman named Andrea Constand.”

Cosby, 80, is charged with drugging and molesting Constand, a former employee of Temple University’s basketball program, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Constand says he gave her pills that made her woozy, then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay incapacitated, unable to tell him to stop.

A topless woman protester with “Women’s Lives Matter” written on her body jumped in front of Bill Cosby on Monday as the comedian walked into a courthouse for the start of his sexual assault retrial. (April 9)

“She’s unconscious. She’s out of it,” Steele said. “She will describe how her body felt during this circumstance. She’s jolted during this. She feels herself being violated. … And she’ll tell you she remembers waking up on this sofa with her clothes disheveled at 4 o’clock in the morning. This is hours after this starts.”

A lawyer not associated with the trial said Monday the settlement amount could figure prominently in the prosecution’s case.

“The question that I’m sure we’re going to hear a lot about is, why would an innocent man pay $3.38 million for something he didn’t do?” said Dennis McAndrews, who prosecuted chemical heir John E. duPont for murder in 1997.

The defense will deliver its opening statement on Tuesday in a trial expected to last a month.

Cosby’s first trial last spring ended with the jury hopelessly deadlocked. The comedian faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Ahead of opening statements, a topless protester who appeared on several episodes of “The Cosby Show” as a child jumped a barricade and got within a few feet of Cosby as the comedian entered the courthouse.

The woman, whose body was scrawled with the names of more than 50 Cosby accusers as well as the words “Women’s Lives Matter,” ran in front of Cosby and toward a bank of TV cameras but was intercepted by sheriff’s deputies and led away in handcuffs. Cosby seemed startled by the commotion as a half-dozen protesters chanted at him.

The protester, Nicolle Rochelle , 39, of Little Falls, New Jersey, was charged with disorderly conduct and released.

“The main goal was to make Cosby uncomfortable because that is exactly what he has been doing for decades to women,” she said afterward.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE…….




Illuminate Film Festival – The Very Best in Conscious Cinema | May 30 – June 3, 2018

ILLUMINATE is the world’s premier film festival for conscious cinema. Dedicated to spreading enlightened ideas and pushing humanity forward, ILLUMINATE is a landmark destination event and centerpiece for conscious content. Founded on the premise that the language of film is universal and a dynamic force in carrying messages to the masses, the Festival showcases the best of transformational media to uplift, inspire and transform.

ILLUMINATE Film Festival
May 30 – June 3, 2018 | Sedona Arizona
Buy Passes Now: https://illuminatefilmfestival.com/tickets-passes




Why “Black Panther” Is Revolutionary, Even Though It Isn’t

T’Challa (right), the super-hero king of Wakanda, meets Eric Killmonger for the first time in the comic book blockbuster film “Black Panther”. (Image: Marvel Studios)

By Aviva Chomsky | Common Dreams

Of course a Marvel Comics, Hollywood, high-budget capitalist product isn’t going to be actually revolutionary.  Or isn’t going to meet every revolutionary purist’s standards.  But there is a lot that is revolutionary about this movie.

How many Hollywood films delve into the political economy of colonialism?  We’ve had plenty of popular films that offer color-blind multiculturalism (like “Star Trek,” or the soon-to-be-released “A Wrinkle in Time”), featuring black characters but in ways completely decontextualized from black and African history.  Some even grapple with issues of race and racism (like recently, “Get Out”).  But Hollywood does not generally take on global political economy.  Here, black and African history, and a critique of colonial political economy, are central to the plot as well as to the aesthetic of the film.

In “Black Panther” we see with crystal clarity how, as Guyanese historian Walter Rodney so brilliantly showed, Europe Underdeveloped Africa, through the counter-history of an African country that managed to evade colonization and travel its own path to development.  Director Ryan Coogler says that he was inspired to imagine Wakanda on a visit to Lesotho, but Wakanda also invokes the maroon communities of the British Caribbean or the palenques or quilombos of South America, where blacks who escaped from slavery established autonomous communities on American soil, reviving or recreating African or neo-African forms of governance and culture.  Some of these communities, like Palmares in Brazil, evaded European conquest for decades or generations.  Some, like the Jamaican Maroons, signed treaties to coexist with European colonial powers.  Contemporary author Christian Parenti, interviewing Assata Shakur in Havana, called her a “Post-Modern Maroon in the Ultimate Palenque.”

“Not only does the film take on the political economy of colonialism in Africa, it also raises the question of how colonialism shaped the African diaspora.”The palenque was revolutionary not because it was a utopia of economic, social, racial, and gender equality or collective ownership of the means of production, but because it claimed autonomy from the hegemonic colonial order and, contra Margaret Thatcher, proved that in fact “there is an alternative.”  Its very existence inspired flight or rebellion by those still enslaved.

African-born and Afro-descended peoples were not the only ones to flee or resist oppressive colonial society in the Americas.  Native peoples recreated kingdoms, established small villages, and maintained liberated spaces outside of European colonial control, from Vilcabamba in sixteenth century Peru to comanchería in the American West or the rochelas of northern Colombia in the nineteenth century to the Zapatistas in Chiapas and the Amazonian tribes resisting oil exploration of the twenty-first.  Colonial domination of the Americas has consistently and repeatedly been resisted by peoples refusing colonization and claiming self-determination and autonomy.

Colonizers insisted (and continue to insist) that the peoples of color they colonized were primitive, barbaric, and incapable of self-government or economic development—that they were peoples without history, trapped in a primitive past and obstacles to modernity.  The quest for a different kind of modernity:  non-European, non-capitalist, non-white—motivated most of the twentieth century’s revolutions.  Antiguan author Jamaica Kincaid beautifully captured the links among colonialism, capitalism, and racism, and suggests why resistance to colonial rule encompassed a liberatory imagination that necessarily imagined overturning the whole social order.  Her tome is written as an unsolicited letter to Antigua’s British colonizers:

You had always felt people like me cannot run things, people like me will never grasp the idea of Gross National Product, people like me will never be able to take command of the thing the most simpleminded among you can master, people like me will never understand the notion of rule by law, people like me cannot really think in abstractions, people like me cannot be objective, we make everything so personal.  You will forget your part in the whole setup, that bureaucracy is one of your inventions, that Gross National Product is one of your inventions, and all the laws that you know mysteriously favour you.  Do you know why people like me are shy about being capitalists?  Well, it’s because we, for as long as we have known you, were capital, like bales of cotton and sacks of sugar, and you were the commanding, cruel capitalists, and the memory of this is so strong, the experience so recent, that we can’t quite bring ourselves to embrace this idea that you think so much of. (36-37)

Wakanda asks us to imagine not just refuge from colonial domination, but an autonomous African path to modernity, technological development, and economic development.  It’s based on the conceit that Wakanda was able to escape European colonial pillage and rule, and was actually able to develop its own social, economic, and cultural forms.  Critics have been quick to complain that Wakanda is a monarchy, that it’s tribal, that it’s male-dominated, that the film asks us to glorify the wealth and power of the royal family.  “More like Kuwait than Denmark,” one of my colleagues remarked.  But that’s not the point.  Wakanda aspires to be neither Denmark with its colonial wealth, nor Kuwait with its exploitation of foreign migrant labor and economy based on the export of fossil fuels.  Rather, it harks to movements for food sovereignty, autonomy, and rejection of a colonial world system and economy.

Not only does the film take on the political economy of colonialism in Africa, it also raises the question of how colonialism shaped the African diaspora.  The film’s ideas about the long impact of colonialism on the African diaspora are perhaps even more complex and contested than those about Africa itself.

The diaspora is represented primarily through the character of Eric Killmonger, the black American pretender to the throne who on the surface appears to be the film’s villain.  In a thoughtful piece in the Boston Review, Christopher Lebron argued that the film engaged in “shocking devaluation of black American men.”  While Wakanda survives and thrives by withdrawing from the world, Killmonger argues that Wakanda’s miracle mineral should be used for a global black liberation struggle.  For Lebron, the film discards Killmonger’s revolutionary vision: “Rather than the enlightened radical, he comes across as the black thug from Oakland hell bent on killing for killing’s sake—indeed, his body is marked with a scar for every kill he has made. The abundant evidence of his efficacy does not establish Killmonger as a hero or villain so much as a receptacle for tropes of inner-city gangsterism.”  For Lebron, the main message of the movie is “the bad guy is the black American who has rightly identified white supremacy as the reigning threat to black well-being; the bad guy is the one who thinks Wakanda is being selfish in its secret liberation; the bad guy is the one who will no longer stand for patience and moderation—he thinks liberation is many, many decades overdue. And the black hero snuffs him out.”

But I think the film could be read differently.  If Killmonger is the villain, he is a decidedly complex and tragic one, and his life story could also be read as a trenchant critique of empire.  Wakandans may have taken advantage of their isolation to develop their own society, but it’s Killmonger who has lived and truly analyzed the political economy of colonialism.  He goads a (white) guide at the British Museum into explaining the provenance of the African artifacts there, then turns on her to demand “How do you think your ancestors got these? Do you think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it, like they took everything else?”

“The film asks us to think about the impact of 500 years of European colonialism on Africa and the African diaspora, and to imagine both what could have been, without colonialism, and what could be, if colonialism is overturned.”Killmonger’s vision for black liberation has been distorted, not by his advocacy of violence to overthrow white supremacy, but by the non-Wakandan, American, white supremacist world that formed him.  In particular, his military service for the U.S. empire, serving the colonial enterprise in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When Killmonger boasts that “the sun will never set on the Wakandan empire” he is clearly reflecting his imperial education.  Neither his glorification of violence – nor, by extension the violence that has plagued the black community in the heart of empire (“Everybody dies, it’s just life around here,” Killmonger says of Oakland)– nor his attraction to the colonialist mentality grow from his blackness.  Rather, they are a reflection of the empire that trained and armed him.

The film ends with Wakanda’s king returning to the gritty Oakland basketball court where the young Killmonger was playing when his father was murdered.  The king comes bearing technology and promises.  For Lebron, his promises of aid embody “the preferred solution of mega-rich neoliberals: educational programming.”  This is one possible interpretation:  I too felt my heart sink that such a powerful film would end on such a weak note.  But perhaps the promise to bring technology, aid, and education to the inner city could also be seen in the context of revolutionary liberation movements from the Black Panthers to the Cuban Revolution, which in some ways enacted their revolutionary vision by creating Che Guevara’s one, two, three, many Wakandas.  That is, political liberation means nothing without socioeconomic transformation, and whether it’s community breakfast programs or free health care, these are precisely the kind of rights that Third World communities at home and abroad are fighting for.  Whether programs like these come through paternalistic charity aimed at sustaining the larger, unjust social order, or through a revolutionary project to overturn it, depends on the context.  In the end, despite some ambiguity, I think the context of the film allows us to understand Wakanda’s stance as revolutionary solidarity rather than charity.

Because this film is not just about poverty and it’s not just about race: it’s about colonialism.  (“Don’t scare me like that, colonizer!” Shuri exclaims to the white CIA agent.)  The film asks us to think about the impact of 500 years of European colonialism on Africa and the African diaspora, and to imagine both what could have been, without colonialism, and what could be, if colonialism is overturned.  To me, that’s revolutionary enough.

Aviva Chomsky

Aviva Chomsky’s most recent book is Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal (Beacon Press, 2014). She is professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




New Documentary “Stink” Exposes Toxic Household Products

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | Mercola.com

A family-oriented documentary called “Stink!”1 shines a bright light on the unregulated use of toxic chemicals in U.S. consumer products, from baby wipes and shampoo to floor cleaners and laundry detergents.

The idea for the film originated from director Jon Whelan’s experience in tracking down the source of a strong chemical odor that wafted off new pajamas he’d purchased for his two young daughters.

After discovering the toxic stench was a trade secret held by the parent company of popular American tween store Justice, Whelan began investigating the fragrance industry, which he suggests is valued at $100 billion.

What Whelan found is that manufacturers, with the aggressive backing of the chemical industry, routinely conceal thousands of potentially toxic ingredients in the baby care, household and personal care products you and your family use every day.

They do so by using the term “fragrance,” which is entirely free of government oversight and safety regulations.2

Lack of regulation means that when you see the word fragrance on product labels, it does not refer to a single ingredient, but likely dozens of toxic chemicals in combination.

For example, S.C. Johnson’s fresh citrus blossom-scented Glade PlugIns oil refill contains a whopping 60 chemical components, which are encompassed under a single word on the product label: fragrance.

According to the Geneva-based International Fragrance Association (IFRA), the self-regulating body of the global fragrance industry, about 3,000 specific chemicals fall under the term fragrance.3

When you purchase a product that lists fragrance as one of the ingredients, you have no way of knowing how many chemicals reside within, or how those chemicals might interact with each other. Many of the chemicals are synthetic — often petroleum based — and increasingly linked to chronic health conditions.

Safety and Regulation of US Consumer Goods Is Weak

You may be surprised to know that legislation put in place in the U.S. in 1976 — a measure called the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) — has perhaps done more harm than good in terms of regulating the chemicals used in products that you use daily.

Notably, TSCA grandfathered in some 80,000 chemicals that are ready available and can be easily incorporated into all kinds of consumer products manufactured and sold in the U.S.

As such, these chemicals bypass safety testing and remain free of federal government regulation and oversight. Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics comments:4

“The chemical industry has gotten away with producing billions of tons of chemicals without doing safety studies, putting them out into the environment … and into products that are … in our homes. Basically we are living in a ‘toxic soup,’ and it’s a giant experiment on human health.”

It may surprise you to learn that U.S. regulatory agencies such as the Consumer Products Safety Commission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration have limited authority to regulate manufacturers who add toxic ingredients to their products.

“I think that most people’s perception is that somewhere, someone is testing all the products,” says Whelan.5 But, they’re not.

This lack of oversight allows manufacturers of baby-care, household and personal-care products — with the support of powerful and well-funded trade associations — to add thousands of toxic chemicals to products you use every day. Whelan states:

“The American Chemistry Council is the most powerful trade association anywhere, and it spends hundreds of millions of dollars to influence public opinion, fund political campaigns and underwrite aggressive lobbying efforts.

Their goal is to avoid regulation that would impact profits of the largest chemical companies in the world, such as BASF, ConAgra Foods, Dow, DuPont, General Mills, Monsanto, Nestle, Pepsico and Unilever.”

Due to the tremendous amount of chemicals coming at you from multiple sources, some of the fragrances that you are exposed to daily may be damaging your health and putting you at risk for serious illness.

The ‘Fragrance Loophole’ and Why Should It Concern You

Jane Houlihan, vice president of research for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), notes that the lack of U.S. government oversight with respect to added chemicals in consumer products is referred to as the “fragrance loophole:”6

“One big loophole in the labeling law is “fragrance.” Manufacturers don’t have to list their ingredients. So whether you hold a perfume, cologne, shampoo or shaving cream — whatever the product is — normally the fragrance components aren’t disclosed.

There can literally be a mixture of hundreds of different chemicals hidden in that one ingredient.”

Adds Green Living Expert Alexandra Zissu, “You’re eating fragrance, wearing fragrance, washing your hands with fragrance and even blowing your nose with fragrance.”7

Among the undisclosed ingredients are several known or suspected allergens, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, environmental pollutants, neurotoxic chemicals and respiratory irritants.

Because these toxins are responsible for the spike in chronic diseases from asthma and birth defects to infertility and cancer, “The sooner you get this stuff out of your life, the better,” says Zissu.8

Worse, due to the lack of product testing and safety measures, the interaction of fragrance chemicals across multiple products cannot be known. No one stops to ask what kind of interaction might take place when chemicals from your body spray interact with your acne cream.

By the way, did you know the average American female uses up to 20 products, and the average male up to 10 products, per day that have hidden ingredients linked to a variety of adverse health issues?9

Tests conducted by the EWG revealed the average fragrance product contains at least 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label.10 This secrecy and lack of transparency make it impossible for you to make an informed choice about the products you buy.

Transparency in Labeling Is Needed to Rein in Use of Toxic Chemicals

Whelan provides common-sense advice for addressing the U.S. system with respect to your everyday products and the handling of fragrance:11

“First, we need to get the chemicals of greatest concern off the market. This is no small task, because powerful industry lobbyists oppose regulating chemicals, even substances that cause cancer, birth defects or disrupt hormones. Updating TSCA so federal agencies have power to regulate toxic chemicals is key.

Next, we need full chemical disclosure on labels. If companies had to disclose all chemicals in their products, they’d make better choices about the chemicals they sold and consumers would be empowered to make informed choices about what they bought. Transparency works.”

Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation, suggests manufacturers are purposely withholding ingredient lists to protect their interests:12

“The reason most cleaning and personal care products don’t list all of the ingredients is because the manufacturer doesn’t want you to know what’s in there. They’re scared of consumers learning that they’re purchasing a product that has a toxic or carcinogenic ingredient. They’re trying to avoid the consumer backlash that would come if they were transparent.”

US Versus European Chemical Regulations

The U.S. system for handling chemicals with respect to consumer products is broken Hollender, added:13

“The question is how many people have to die? How many people have to get sick before the proof becomes overwhelming and inescapable? What we need is a precautionary approach. You must prove the product’s safe. You must prove the chemical’s safe. And until that’s proven, the product should not be allowed in the store, and the chemical should not be allowed in the product.”

Whelan agrees and suggests America could learn something from Europe, where tougher standards are in place to protect human health:14

“The big philosophical difference between how products and chemicals are regulated in Europe versus the U.S. is interesting. In Europe, chemicals are guilty until proven innocent. The precautionary principle says that if we suspect something may be harmful, well then let’s not use it. They use common sense. In the U.S., it’s the exact opposite. Chemicals are innocent until proven guilty, yet it’s virtually impossible to prove guilt.”

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,15 the European Union Cosmetics Directive, which was adopted in January 2003 and revised in 2013, bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause birth defects, cancer, genetic mutation or reproductive harm. To date, the FDA has banned only 11 chemicals from cosmetics in the U.S.

Why Is the Fragrance Industry Against Safety Regulations?

Like the secret formula for Coca-Cola and Colonel Sander’s secret recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken, the fragrance industry has been guarding its carefully kept secrets for decades. As such, a certain air of mystery has resulted. Says fragrance consultant Steve Herman:16

“The perfume industry has been trying to maintain a certain mystique, because fragrance has an allure of mystery, romance and creativity about it. If we transform it into a chemical company with ingredient disclosure — all of that mystique would be gone.”

Whelan suggests the huge number of chemicals needing to be tested is very likely the most discouraging factor related to safeguarding consumer products:17

“There are over 80,000 chemicals in use today. While most of them are probably safe, it takes time and money to test them. Industry doesn’t want to know which are harmful because it would mean reformulating many of their products, which would require additional money.

Furthermore, by disclosing chemicals on the label, particularly if one is a potential carcinogen, companies could be liable, which they also do not want. Industry wants it both ways. They don’t want chemicals proven safe, and they don’t want consumers to have full disclosure.”

Because the U.S. federal government has traditionally taken a passive role in terms of regulating the addition of chemicals in consumer products, individual states, such as California, have taken action on their own. California’s well known Proposition 65, or Prop 65,18 was enacted in 1986. Eleanne van Vliet, director of toxic chemical research for As You Sow, sees value in state-enacted regulations:19

“Prop 65 prohibits businesses from knowingly exposing consumers to chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. Companies have to either reformulate the product to use less toxic ingredients or remove the product from the market completely.”

EWG Helps You Identify Toxic Ingredients You Should Avoid

Judi Shils, executive director of Teens Turning Green, underscores the importance of taking an active role in evaluating the personal-care products you use every day.20 “Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, moisturizer, hand sanitizer — each one of those products has about 15 synthetic chemicals in it, so your body’s burden is enormous. You’re just dumping all this toxic stuff into your bloodstream!”

To help you identify harmful ingredients and make buying choices that support your health and well-being, the EWG provided the following list of toxins to AVOID in personal-care products manufactured for the U.S. market:21

For your body:

  • Fragrance
  • Rentinyl palmitate or other retinoids in daytime skin products
  • Triclocarban in bar soap
  • Triclosan in liquid soap (banned in 2016 by the FDA)
For your hair:

  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Fragrance
  • Parabens: propyl, isopropyl, butyl and isobutyl
  • PEG, ceteareth and polyethylene
For your nails:

  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Formaldehyde or formalin
  • Toluene

If you want to go further in your exploration of potentially harmful ingredients, check out EWG’s Skin Deep® database,22 where you can research the personal care products you use and identify less toxic options. EWG also maintains a Guide to Healthy Cleaning,23 which informs you about safe alternatives for household-cleaning products.

Non-Toxic Fragrances Are Available

Avoiding toxic fragrance does not mean that you must forgo all pleasant scents in your home or personal-care products, because truly natural options are available. Organic essential oils are one option, and you can even add them to your own non-fragranced products, such as facial moisturizers or hand lotion. Organic essential oils and isolates come from botanical ingredients such as bark, flowers, fruits, leaves, seeds, wood and other 100 percent natural raw materials.

Though they may cost more, and the scent may last only a couple of hours after each application, organic essential oils won’t pose the health risks of synthetic fragrances. (It’s still possible to have sensitivities to natural scents so take care with them around individuals who may not be able to tolerate them.)

Of course, you have the option of avoiding fragrance entirely. In fact, a woman’s natural scent has been found to be more seductive than perfume,24 scoring another point for the power of nature!

LCSA Law Implemented, EPA Finally Empowered to Review Chemicals

In June, 2016, U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA) to reform TSCA. Although the changes will likely be slow, LCSA introduces improvements such as:25

  • Mandating the EPA to evaluate existing chemicals under enforceable deadlines
  • Requiring all chemicals used in commerce to undergo risk-based reviews
  • Providing increased public transparency with respect to chemicals
  • Funding the EPA consistently so it can carry out its responsibilities under the new law

On the downside, the LCSA makes it more difficult for states to regulate chemicals once the EPA has evaluated them, and prohibits states from taking action against any chemical the EPA has declared “high priority” for EPA investigation. Once the EPA declares a chemical safe for a specific use or condition, states are permanently preempted from taking any action against it.26

In December 2016, the EPA announced the first 10 chemicals it will review under LCSA, as highlighted by the EWG:27 1,4-dioxane, 1-bromopropane, asbestos, carbon tetrachloride, HBCD (cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster), methylene chloride, NMP (n-methylpyrrolidone), PERC (tetrachloroethylene), pigment violet 29 and TCE (trichloroethylene). Several of the 10 are suspected to be possible human carcinogens.

While you may think asbestos was banned many years ago, the U.S. still imports, uses and sells asbestos and asbestos products for use in automotive, flooring and roofing products, even though inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers is known to cause lung cancer. Clearly, the EPA has a lot more work to do to safeguard your health and mine.

What You Can Do to Help Close the ‘Fragrance Loophole’

Based on feedback from consumers like you, and the diligence of consumer-advocacy organizations like EWG, manufacturers and retailers are beginning to realize the need for change. U.S.-based companies such as Procter & Gamble (P&G),28 S.C. Johnson29and Unilever,30 as well as retailers like Target31 have taken steps to become more transparent with ingredient lists.

Some steps are small, such as P&G’s move to provide two lists on its website32 of fragrance chemicals the company is currently using, and those no longer in use in any of its brands. While that sounds positive, P&G still has access to more than 2,800 other fragrance chemicals that would not have to be disclosed on product labels.

Other steps are bigger, such as Target’s decision33 to require full ingredient disclosure by 2020 for all baby care, household and personal care products, as well as a ban on formaldehyde, parabens and phthalates in those products. Furthermore, by 2022, Target wants to remove flame retardants and perfluorinated chemicals from all its textiles.

If you want to go to the next level with respect to taking a stand against the continued use and abuse of fragrance in consumer products, below are some tips on how you can get started:34

Choose products that disclose a complete list of ingredients
Select “fragrance free” products instead of “unscented” ones because unscented products may use fragrance to mask odors
Be wary of “greenwashing” related to the use of terms such as “natural” or “organic” for personal care products because they are unregulated and can be used regardless of product contents
Research the product’s ingredients prior to purchase by perusing the EWG’s Skin Deep database and/or other sources35
Opt for products using organic essential oils instead of synthetic scents
Educate your children and make them aware of safer choices for the products they use daily
Ask the company for specific details about the products you like and find out if they are safe
Vote with your dollars and stop buying products that you know are unsafe
Demand action by telling manufacturers and retailers, as well as your state and federal legislators, that you support the full disclosure of ingredients for household and personal-care products and want safer alternatives

About the Director

Jon Whelan is the director of “Stink!” — an off-beat documentary about Whelan’s tenacious quest to uncover the source of a chemical scent in a pair of his daughter’s pajamas. Like most Americans, Whelan believed that if a product was on the store shelf then it must be safe.

Through his investigation, Whelan discovers a culture of secrecy surrounding carcinogens in everyday consumer products that begins in corporate board rooms and extends all the way to the halls of Congress.

A former co-CEO of Afternic.com, an internet/media start-up adviser and a founding member of the New York Angels, Whelan currently advocates for truthful product labeling and is a full-time parent of two young daughters. We sat down with Jon to learn a little more about what goes in to making these films. Thank you to Jon for sharing with us.

What was your inspiration for making this film?

I was inspired, personally, by my wife and daughters (you’ll need to watch the film to see why). Professionally, I was motivated to find out how it’s possible that companies in America are allowed to use harmful chemicals in everyday consumer products and not disclose it to their customers. As my grandmother used to tell me, “The truth is stranger than fiction.”

What was your favorite part of making this film?

Learning how the “system” works (or in this case doesn’t work) and connecting the dots. Once you know, you look at things through a different lens, and then you’re left with two choices: Help fix what’s broken or live with the status quo. I’m an optimist and I think that this is a solvable problem.

Where do the proceeds to your film go?

Stink!” is a passion project. I definitely couldn’t justify four years of my life and spend a fortune on bringing this project to fruition if profit were the motive. Individuals can stream “Stink!” free at StinkMovie.com or host a free screening. I hope people take advantage of the offer.

WANT TO WATCH “STINK” FOR FREE? GO HERE TO MERCOLA.COM

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New Feature Film “Sedition” Offers 70% Of Profits To Educate Kids And Save The Environment

By Inka Linda | Truth Theory

Who says you can’t just spend your graduate school savings to produce a film to help save our species? 26-year-old CEO & Producer Aakanaash Pothuktuchi did, and his upcoming feature film Sedition will make history with a revolutionary approach to storytelling, business and activism.

In a world where the film industry centers around Hollywood and celebrity worship, Sedition is a declaration of a new standard in cinematic storytelling targeted directly to Millennials who hear the call of actually giving a sh*t about the planet we live on.

Its story follows the journey of a CIA whistleblower who comes to India seeking asylum after releasing a series of videos which showcase illegal U.S. government drone strikes on a school in Yemen, traversing through the Himalayan mountains and the border of China. With the use of drone technology the film captures hauntingly luscious cinematography to reawaken our primal humility and spiritual awareness about Mother Earth.

Sedition is doing what no film has ever done before: it is the first feature film to structure its business as a for-profit social enterprise model in order to contribute 50% of profits to a nature conservancy fund to preserve forest lands & 20% of profits to a rural education fund to builds schools and increase literacy rates in rural communities.

The mind behind this evolutionary intersection of business, art and activism is 26-year-old social entrepreneur and environmental activist, Aakaanksh Pothukutchi.  He asked himself the pressing question many of us are now being challenged to finally face:

“What can I do with my limited time here on this planet to help ensure the survival of our species?” 

Having studied business at Babson College, the top university for Entrepreneurship in the U.S, Aakaanksh found himself like many other disillusioned Millennial graduates: confused, depressed and seeking more in life beyond society’s expectations of a 9-5, 2.2 kids and a house.

Through a series of synchronicities during a spiritual 18-month long backpacking journey across his home country India, Aakaanksh connected with filmmakers Summer Nicks and  Joel Marrocco. During his travels he met Western Yogi travelers which made him recognize how deeply unhappy people in the West and around the world are on a spiritual level. Such insights and revelations during his journey  helped him come to terms with his own purpose and calling.

“Back then I thought a lot about death. I still do. I could sense how empty people felt, just like the way I did but eventually I just had to ask myself what it is that I can do to actually help ensure the survival of our species-even if we don’t know how much longer we’ll actually be around for. At the rate we’re going, with our consumption habits, with allowing corporations to prioritize profit maximization at the cost of all else that is sacred, we’ll join the 90% of life that’s gone extinct. We’ll be just another failed mutation. ”

Together Aakaansh, Summer Nicks and Joel Marrocco developed an indie production team to film across some of the most breathtaking sites throughout the Himalayas; with over 60% of filming already done, their team is now in midst of a fundraising campaign to raise money to finish filming. But beyond money, their campaign is a call-out to Millennials about how to use the power of their money as our vote. Instead of simply paying to be entertained, Sedition offers us the opportunity to  make a tangible difference in the world: one tree and one child at a time.

As more of us sense the visceral truth of what many of our ancestors called Kali Yuga, the End Times, the  Fourth World, etc. Many of us are asking ourselves how willing are we truly to a build hospitable world for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren to actually live in?

To Aakaansh, the answer is clear in a time in human history where humans are eating away at our own life support systems. It is about creating a business model that leverages the power of storytelling and profit to plant seeds back into the earth and in the minds of the next generation of changemakers. 

“Trees perform countless other humans services – perhaps the most important being, you know, providing us with oxygen so we can breathe. Yet knowing this, we’re cutting down 15 billion trees a year and in the past 50 years alone, over 50 million hectares of forests have been destroyed. We’ve cut down 55% of all trees on the planet. We need to be realistic about the reality we are leaving behind for our children, if we will even be around to watch each other grow.”

Aakaansh and his team are here to completely abolish old models and sentiments about business, profit and cinema. He posits that “Each dollar is our vote” and as Millennials we have the potential to tap into our connectivity and purchasing power to reshape our world to reflect what we actually value. Our truest power lies in our willingness to write a new story about our generations as changemakers and nullify apathy

A story that unites us as a generation to recognize that the survival of our future children and our planet depend on us to live courageously and creatively.

Watch the trailer below and make sure to check out and donate to his campaign!

You can donate to his Indegogo campaign at this link

Read more great articles at Truth Theory.