Category Archives: “News”

“Newsworthy” happenings and things the mainstream media won’t tell you about.

Chew this gum to plant trees, feed the hungry, and more

Who would have thought buying a pack of gum could help save the earth, supply clean water to people in need, or provide schooling to children in Africa?

Social entrepreneur Tyler Merrick thought it was possible, so in 2008 he founded Project 7 — a company that dedicates itself to making “Products for Good,” including sugar-free gum and mints, bottled spring water (the bottles are biodegradable), and coffee.  Each product is linked to one of seven causes and by purchasing one of these products consumers can donate money to any one of these seven areas of need:

Heal the Sick products provide medicine to people suffering from Malaria.

Save the Earth products plant fruit trees around the world.

House the Homeless products cover shelter, food, education, and healthcare costs for orphans.

Feed the Hungry products provide meals to those without food in American communities.

Clean the Water products provide clean water to those who need it.

Teach them Well products support school costs for children in Africa.

Hope for Peace products support counseling for children of war.


Plant trees by chewing gum


Project 7 products can only be found in retail stores such as Walmart, Target, and Seven Eleven all over the Midwest and along the East Coast — though they can also be found in parts of California, Nevada, and other Western states.

Project 7 Gum was featured as Mother Earth Living’s Product of the Week back in March of 2009.  The gum (pictured above) comes in three flavors that correspond to three different causes:  the freshmint flavor plants trees, the peppermint-vanilla flavor feeds the hungry, and the mango mint flavor houses the homeless.  The company’s website mentions another flavor, wintergreen, which appears to donate money to schools in Africa — however I haven’t come across it in stores yet.  Further, the packaging for the gum is made of 10% post-consumer recycled material and the company also sells t-shirts made from recycled plastic bottles in an effort to support the green movement.

Project 7 Mission Statement:  “To ensure everyone around the globe has access to fundamental human needs for a healthy life.”

Project 7 donates half of its profits to charities and partners with nonprofit organizations to provide financial support and raise awareness for various causes.  The nonprofits Project 7 works with include:  a child’s right, Camfed, Children’s Hunger Fund, Feeding America, Invisible Children, Partners in Health, Pencils of Promise, Plant with Purpose, Restore International, Samaritan’s Purse, SOS Children’s Villages USA, Trees, Water, and People, and World Vision.


Recycled Material Plants TreesProject 7 Gum Saves the Earth







To date, Project 7 has:

Planted 3,440,655 fruit trees

Supplied 1,294,308 meals to American communities

Supported 147,850 days of schooling for children in Africa

Provided 32,072 days of shelter, food, school, and healthcare to orphans

Provided 40,301 people with a year supply of clean water

Supported 19,730 days of counseling for children of war

And funded 31,104 Malaria treatments


So if you’re looking to support a good cause but don’t really have the time, give Project 7 a try.  By purchasing their everyday items (gum, mints, coffee, water bottles) you are supporting charitable efforts in “seven areas of need across the globe.”

Below is a video that summarizes Project 7’s mission and goals:


Violent Crime Rates At Their Lowest Since 1960s, 1970s

The total number of violent crimes has steadily decreased over recent years, with murder rates for 2011 being the lowest the country has seen since 1968.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 14,612 “Murders and Nonnegligible Manslaughters” in 2011, the lowest number of incidents in one year since 1968.

Violent crimes peaked between 1986 and 1995, with more than 20,000 murders and “nonnegligible manslaughters” reported for each year during that time period, but have been on a net decline up until 2011.

Rape, robbery, and aggravated assault also reached a high during the early 90s.  There were 109,062 reported rapes in 1992 and 687,732 reported robberies in 1991.  But there were nearly twice as many aggravated assaults than those two crimes combined with 1,135,607 incidents reported in 1993.

However, these trends appear to be reversing.  Robberies dropped to 354,396 cases in 2011 — the lowest number of annual robberies since 1970.  In addition, the number of aggravated assaults also declined — dropping to 751,131 in 2011, which is nearly half the number of cases reported in 1993.

While the cases of rape also dropped — declining to 83,425 in 2011 — overall they have been steadily increasing since 1960, which saw only 17,190 reported cases of rape.

However, the FBI recently released preliminary crime statistics for 2012 that found the number of violent crimes has slightly increased since 2011.  Despite the small increase, national violent crime rates still appear to be lower than they were throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

The data for violent crime rates between 1960 and 2011 used in this article can be found here.  Just select the variables you want to examine, then click “Get Table.”


Coalitions and Alliances Mobilize Against NSA Spying


Restore the Fourth Rally Protest NSA Surveillance Leaked by Edward Snowden
Thousands of people protest NSA surveillance programs across the U.S. as part of the Restore the Fourth movement.  Photo courtesy of


In the wake of Edward Snowden’s series of leaks revealing the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, many groups and coalitions have taken actions to raise public awareness and put an end to government spying.

Grassroots group Restore the Fourth launched a protest against NSA spying on July 4, 2013, in which tens of thousands of supporters participated in more than 50 cities across the U.S.  Restore the Fourth began just four weeks prior and quickly distributed promotional materials and internet communications to organize the event.

“We have been thrilled with the response to Restore the Fourth,” Douglas MacAurthur, media coordinator for Restore the Fourth, said in a press release. “Our goal is to keep the public’s awareness focused on these issues of surveillance as related to our Constitutional rights as much as possible, and this was merely a first step in that direction that we hope to continue to build on.”

The group plans to rally again on August 4th (also known as 1984 day) to continue protesting the NSA’s contentious surveillance programs.  Restore the Fourth states in a blog post:

The very precedent of allowing the government to violate our rights and privacy this way, and leaving in their hands the infrastructure to do so, brings us much closer to the wide-scale use of spying as a political tool, something oppressive governments have employed throughout history.

But Restore the Fourth isn’t the only group taking action against NSA surveillance.  A total of 19 different groups and organizations filed suit against the NSA Tuesday for violating their First Amendment rights of association by illegally collecting phone records.  The coalition is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and includes a diverse array of groups such as The First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Calguns Foundation, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, People for the American Way, and TechFreedom.

“The First Amendment protects the freedom to associate and express political views as a group, but the NSA’s mass, untargeted collection of Americans’ phone records violates that right by giving the government a dramatically detailed picture into our associational ties,” EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said in a press release.  “Who we call, how often we call them, and how long we speak shows the government what groups we belong to or associate with, which political issues concern us, and our religious affiliation. Exposing this information – especially in a massive, untargeted way over a long period of time – violates the Constitution and the basic First Amendment tests that have been in place for over 50 years.”

Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook are also taking stake in the issue alongside a large group of technology companies.  Together, they sent a letter to President Obama Thursday urging for more NSA transparency.

The letter calls upon leaders in Washington to allow Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers to report requests for information sent by the NSA along with the number of requests for information about their users; the number of individuals, accounts, and devices information was requested for; and the number of requests for communications content and subscriber information.

Additionally, the coalition asks the government to start its own transparency report that provides the number of requests for information made and the number of individuals affected by each request.

The letter to President Obama can be read here as a PDF file:  weneedtoknow-transparency-letter.

Couple smooches during Vancouver riot

Couple Kisses during Vancouver Riots
"Make love, not war"

Yet another iconic ‘kissing couple’ picture has surfaced, but instead of a sailor stealing the breath of his girl, this one features a kiss in the middle of a riot.  In case you haven’t heard, there was a riot in Vancouver after the Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in game 7 of the Stanely Cup final.  But since no one pays attention to hockey or Canada, I’m going to talk about the picture.

The photo quickly gained popularity after it surfaced on the internet, becoming the ‘posterchild’ for the “make love, not war” slogan.  The couple (Scott Jones and Alex Thomas, thank you Facebook) went to the game together and after the riots broke out found themselves in the path of charging police.

Alex was hit by a riot shield which knocked her to the ground and Scott came to her aid.  The photographer happened to look over when Scott planted one on Alex, and now they’re famous.  Jones’ father reported that the couple is attracting media attention from all over the world asking about the events that led up to their famous kiss.

And the best thing about it all?  They haven’t been a couple for long and Scott is heading back to his home in Australia after the two of them take a trip to California.  Their story is serendipitous, almost like fate brought them together for that one picture, which will probably remain one of their favorite photos when they’re old and gray.

Not seen in the photo are burning cars, shattered windows, and looting mobs.  Hockey is a pretty big deal up there.  However,  despite the violent outburst our neighbors to the north showed class by cleaning up the city the next day and writing apology notes on pieces of plywood boarding up vandalized businesses.   Previous night rioters and abstainers alike pitched in to clean up garbage, debris, and their conscience in the streets of downtown Vancouver.

Finally, somebody can say “We’ll always have Canada” with a straight face.