www.montereycountyweekly.com february 15-21, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 the most extreme symptom of this mismatch, but it’s far from the only one. Corporate abuse figures into every story in the list, though sometimes deep in the background. These patterns touch us all. 1. ‘Forever chemicals’ in rainwater pose a global threat to human health. Rainwater is “no longer safe to drink anywhere on Earth,” Morgan McFall-Johnsen reported in Insider in August 2022, summing up the results of a global study of so-called “forever chemicals,” polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Researchers from Stockholm University and the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics at ETH Zurich concluded that “in many areas inhabited by humans,” PFAS contamination levels in rainwater, surface water and soil “often greatly exceed” the strictest international guidelines for acceptable levels of perfluoroalkyl acids. “PFAS were now ‘so persistent’ and ubiquitous that they will never disappear from the planet,” lead researcher Ian Cousins told Agence FrancePresse. “We have made the planet inhospitable to human life by irreversibly contaminating it now so that nothing is clean anymore. We have crossed a planetary boundary.” Meanwhile, researchers at UC San Francisco published a study in the Annals of Global Health using internal industry documents to show that the companies responsible for forever chemicals have known for decades that these substances pose significant threats to human health and the environment. There’s been coverage of the series of lawsuits developing in response to PFAS. However the story that rainwater isn’t safe to drink remains largely missing. 2. Hiring of former CIA employees blurs the line between Big Tech and Big Brother. “Google is filled with ex-CIA agents,” Alan MacLeod reported for MintPress News in July 2022. “An inordinate number of these recruits work in highly politically sensitive fields, wielding considerable control over how its products work and what the world sees on its screens and in its search results. “Chief amongst these is the trust and safety department, whose staff, in the words of the Google Trust and Safety Vice President Kristie Canegallo, ‘decide what content is allowed on our platform’—in other words, setting the rules of the internet, determining what billions see and what they do not see.” As State of the Free Press noted, “A former CIA employee is working in almost every department at Google.” Google isn’t alone—nor is the CIA. “Former employees of U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies now hold senior positions at Google, Meta, Microsoft and other tech giants,” Roth and Macek wrote. MacLeod cited the 1983 testimony of former CIA task force head John Stockwell, author of In Search of Enemies, in which he described the dissemination of propaganda as a “major function” of the agency. “I had propagandists all over the world,” Stockwell wrote. While major newspapers cover Big Tech, they have failed to cover the story about the widespread hiring of former intelligence officials. 3. Toxic chemicals continue to go unregulated in the United States. The United States is “a global laggard in chemical regulation,” ProPublica reported, a result of chemical industry influence and acquiescence by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to reporters Neil Bedi, Sharon Lerner and Kathleen McGrory. An example: Asbestos, one of the most widely-recognized toxic substances, is still legal in the U.S., more than 30 years after the EPA tried to have it banned. Through analysis of a half-century’s worth of legislation, lawsuits, EPA documents, oral histories, chemical databases and regulatory records,