More Bonuses from Bailouts, Habeas Corpus for Bagram Detainees, End of Mark-to-Market Rules
Revealing News Articles
April 6, 2009


Dear friends,

Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the new bonuses enabled by taxpayers' bailout monies to be issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a ruling giving habeas corpus rights to detainees at Bagram prison in Afghanistan, the change of accounting rules to end the requirement of "mark-to-market" for toxic mortgage securities held by Wall Street financial corporations, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

With best wishes,
Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info

Big Bonuses at Fannie and Freddie Draw Fire
April 4, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/business/04bonus.html

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two troubled companies at the heart of the nation's mortgage market, are set to pay their employees "retention bonuses" totaling $210 million, despite calls from lawmakers to cancel the payments. The bonuses, which were made public on Friday, were defended by the companies' federal regulator, James B. Lockhart, who said he intended to let them proceed. In a letter sent last week to Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, Mr. Lockhart disclosed that 7,600 Fannie and Freddie workers were scheduled to receive payouts aimed at retaining those "employees most critical to keep and difficult to replace." Under the plan, 213 employees will receive retention bonuses worth more than $100,000 this year, and one Freddie Mac executive will receive $1.3 million. Those figures drew sharp rebukes from Mr. Grassley and other lawmakers, who noted that Fannie and Freddie had received pledges of $400 billion from taxpayers to offset huge losses since they were seized by the government in September. Similar bonuses paid by the American International Group, which was also bailed out by taxpayers, incited fiery attacks from the White House and legislators when they were revealed last month. "It's hard to see any common sense in management decisions that award hundreds of millions in bonuses when their organizations lost more than $100 billion in a year," Mr. Grassley said in a statement. "It's an insult that the bonuses were made with an infusion of cash from taxpayers."

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.

Judge Rules Some Prisoners at Bagram Have Right of Habeas Corpus
April 4, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/washington/03bagram.html

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that some prisoners held by the United States military in Afghanistan have a right to challenge their imprisonment, dealing a blow to government efforts to detain terrorism suspects for extended periods without court oversight. In a 53-page ruling that rejected a claim of unfettered executive power advanced by both the Bush and Obama administrations, United States District Judge John D. Bates said that three detainees at the United States' Bagram Air Base had the same legal rights that the Supreme Court last year granted to prisoners held at the American naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The three detainees — two Yemenis and a Tunisian — say that they were captured outside Afghanistan and taken to Bagram, and that they have been imprisoned for more than six years without trials. Arguing that they were not enemy combatants, the detainees want a civilian judge to review the evidence against them and order their release, under the constitutional right of habeas corpus. The importance of Bagram as a holding site for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq has increased under the Obama administration, which prohibited the Central Intelligence Agency from using its secret prisons for long-term detention and ordered the military prison at Guantánamo closed within a year. The administration had sought to preserve Bagram as a haven where it could detain terrorism suspects beyond the reach of American courts, telling Judge Bates in February that it agreed with the Bush administration's view that courts had no jurisdiction over detainees there.

Note: For key articles from major media sources on threats to civil liberties, click here.

Banks Get New Leeway in Valuing Their Assets
April 3, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/business/03fasb.html

A once-obscure accounting rule that infuriated banks ... was changed Thursday to give banks more discretion in reporting the value of mortgage securities. The change seems likely to allow banks to report higher profits by assuming that the securities are worth more than anyone is now willing to pay for them. But critics objected that the change could further damage the credibility of financial institutions by enabling them to avoid recognizing losses from bad loans they have made. Critics also said that since the rules were changed under heavy political pressure, the move compromised the independence of the organization that did it, the Financial Accounting Standards Board. During the financial crisis, the market prices of many securities, particularly those backed by subprime home mortgages, have plunged to fractions of their original prices. That has forced banks to report hundreds of billions of dollars in losses over the last year, because some of those securities must be reported at market value each three months, with the bank showing a profit or loss based on the change. At first FASB ... resisted making changes, but that changed within a few days of a Congressional hearing at which legislators from both parties demanded the board act. "There is a perception that we are yielding to political pressure," one board member, Lawrence W. Smith, said as he voted for the changes. A group headed by two former chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission, one who served under President Bill Clinton and one who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said that it feared that politicization of accounting standards would destroy the credibility of the board.

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.

NATO Meeting to Highlight Strains on Afghanistan
April 3, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/world/europe/03nato.html

NATO leaders gathered here Friday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of [the] alliance ... also must face the harsh reality that NATO's first military mission outside Europe is failing in a way that risks fracturing the alliance. Obama, [by] increasing American troops in Afghanistan to some 68,000 by the end of the year from 38,000 today, is also likely to significantly Americanize an operation that in recent years had been divided equally between American troops and allied forces. By year's end, American troops will outnumber allied forces by at least two to one. His NATO allies are giving ... him very few new troops on the ground, underlining the fundamental strains in the alliance. The allies will offer more funds but no more than several thousand new personnel members, according to alliance military planners. Many of those will not be soldiers, but police trainers to meet a central pillar of the president's new Afghan strategy, which focuses on an expansion of Afghan security forces. But even for the small numbers of European combat reinforcements, check the fine print: Nearly all will be sent to provide security for Afghanistan's elections this summer, and will not be permanently deployed. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and his British counterpart, John Hutton, have publicly warned that the performance of some European troops demonstrates that NATO risks slipping toward a two-tiered alliance. In that event, it would be divided between those that can and will fight, like Britain, Canada, France and Poland, and those that cannot or will not because of public opinion at home.

Note: Why does the U.S. need a strong presence in Afghanistan? Obama is clearly giving in to the military/industrial complex by pouring billions of tax dollars into operations in this country where military contractors can reap huge profits. For the comments of a top U.S. general revealing the deeper reasons behind war, click here. For further important revelations from reliable sources about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, click here.

Financial Industry Paid Millions to Obama Aide
April 4, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/us/politics/04disclose.html

Lawrence H. Summers, the top economic adviser to President Obama, earned more than $5 million last year from the hedge fund D. E. Shaw and collected $2.7 million in speaking fees from Wall Street companies that received government bailout money, the White House disclosed. Mr. Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, wields important influence over Mr. Obama's policy decisions for the troubled financial industry, including firms from which he recently received payments. Last year, he reported making 40 paid appearances, including a $135,000 speech to the investment firm Goldman Sachs, in addition to his earnings from the hedge fund, a sector the administration is trying to regulate. Mr. Summers's role at the White House includes advising Mr. Obama on whether — and how — to tighten regulation of hedge funds, which engage in highly sophisticated financial trading that many analysts have said contributed to the economic collapse. Mr. Summers ... appeared before large Wall Street companies like Citigroup ($45,000), J. P. Morgan ($67,500) and the now defunct Lehman Brothers ($67,500), according to his disclosure report. While Mr. Obama campaigned on a pledge to restrict lobbyists from working in the White House, a step intended to reduce any influence between the administration and corporations, the ban did not apply to former executives like Mr. Summers, who was not a registered lobbyist. In 2006, he became a managing director of D. E. Shaw, a firm that manages about $30 billion in assets, making it one of the biggest hedge funds in the world.

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.

Obama's Ersatz Capitalism
April 1, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/opinion/01stiglitz.html

The Obama administration's $500 billion or more proposal to deal with America's ailing banks has been described by some in the financial markets as a win-win-win proposal. Actually, it is a win-win-lose proposal: the banks win, investors win — and taxpayers lose. Treasury hopes to get us out of the mess by replicating the flawed system that the private sector used to bring the world crashing down, with a proposal marked by overleveraging in the public sector, excessive complexity, poor incentives and a lack of transparency. In theory, the administration's plan is based on letting the market determine the prices of the banks' "toxic assets" — including outstanding house loans and securities based on those loans. The reality, though, is that the market will not be pricing the toxic assets themselves, but options on those assets. The two have little to do with each other. The government plan in effect involves insuring almost all losses. Since the private investors are spared most losses, then they primarily "value" their potential gains. This is exactly the same as being given an option. Under the plan by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the government would provide about 92 percent of the money to buy the asset but would stand to receive only 50 percent of any gains, and would absorb almost all of the losses. Some partnership! What the Obama administration is doing is far worse than nationalization: it is ersatz capitalism, the privatizing of gains and the socializing of losses. It is a "partnership" in which one partner robs the other.

Note: The author of this analysis, Joseph E. Stiglitz, is a professor of economics at Columbia University. He was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1995 to 1997, and was awarded the Nobel prize in economics in 2001. For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.

Inquiry Asks Why A.I.G. Paid Banks
March 27, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/business/27cuomo.html

Members of Congress and the New York State attorney general demanded detailed information Thursday on how tens of billions of taxpayer dollars flowed through the American International Group during its crisis last fall and ended up in the coffers of several dozen big banks, shielding them from losses. The new inquiries shine a spotlight on a question that is exponentially bigger, in dollars, than the $165 million in bonuses that A.I.G. paid out this month, but which has been overshadowed until now by the uproar over the bonuses. "We would like to know if the A.I.G. counterparty payments, as made, were in the best interests of the taxpayers who provided the funding," said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, in a letter to Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The banks and investment firms that ended up with A.I.G.'s bailout money last fall were, in many cases, counterparties to derivatives contracts it had sold, known as credit-default swaps, which guaranteed the value of assets in their investment portfolios. They included Wall Street firms, like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, that have successfully resisted efforts to regulate credit derivatives in the past. In several hearings this month, members of Congress said they believed the derivatives had often been used to speculate, not to manage risk. They have expressed outrage that A.I.G.'s trading partners got 100 cents on the dollar for their money-losing trades when ordinary Americans paying for the bailout have suffered big losses in their 401(k) accounts and other investments.

Note: For many revealing reports on the realities behind the Wall Street bailouts, click here.

Powerful proponent of psychiatric drugs for children primed for a fall
March 27, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/27/EDAF16N963.DTL

Dr. Joseph Biederman, chief of the Massachusetts General Pediatric Psychopharmacology Clinic, is already under investigation by Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health for failing to report income received from drug companies. Biederman has strongly pushed treating children's mental illnesses with powerful antipsychotic medicines. Diagnoses like ADHD and pediatric bipolar disorder, along with psychiatric drug use in American children, have soared in the last 15 years. No other country medicates children as frequently. Now, in newly released court documents, Biederman appears to be promising drugmaker Johnson & Johnson in advance that his studies on the antipsychotic drug risperidone will prove the drug to be effective when used on preschool age children. Biederman's status at Harvard and his research have arguably made him, until recently, America's most powerful doctor in child psychiatry. Reports from court actions, along with an ongoing investigation of conflict of interest charges led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, threaten to topple Biederman from his heretofore untouchable Olympian heights. Biederman's conflict of interest problems have exposed his strong pro-drug views to the public for scrutiny. Until now, fear of the Biederman team has operated quietly on the small club of child psychiatric researchers. Only when 2-year-olds started taking three psychiatric drugs simultaneously under a Biederman protocol for bipolar disorder did the emperor's clothes become so invisible as to begin the naming of names. Biederman's personal travails tragically inform us about a crisis in academic medicine that must be resolved.

Note: For a powerful overview of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.

CIA expert: Electronic voting not secure
March 25, 2009, Miami Herald/McClatchy News
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/story/966214.html

The CIA, which has been monitoring foreign countries' use of electronic voting systems, has reported apparent vote-rigging schemes in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine and a raft of concerns about the machines' vulnerability to tampering. In a presentation that could provide disturbing lessons for the United States, where electronic voting is becoming universal, [CIA cybersecurity expert] Steve Stigall summarized what he described as attempts to use computers to undermine democratic elections in developing nations. His remarks have received no news media attention until now. Stigall told the Election Assistance Commission ... that computerized electoral systems can be manipulated at five stages, from altering voter registration lists to posting results. Stigall said voting equipment connected to the Internet could be hacked, and machines that weren't connected could be compromised wirelessly. Eleven U.S. states have banned or limited wireless capability in voting equipment, but Stigall said elections officials didn't always know it when wireless cards were embedded in their machines. Stigall said that most Web-based ballot systems had proved to be insecure. The commission has been criticized for giving states more than $1 billion to buy electronic equipment without first setting performance standards. Numerous computer-security experts have concluded that U.S. systems can be hacked, and allegations of tampering in Ohio, Florida and other swing states have triggered a campaign to require all voting machines to produce paper audit trails.

Note: For key articles from reliable sources exposing the many flaws in electronic voting systems, click here.

A lesson for Detroit - Tata Nano
March 31, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/30/EDTK16PF19.DTL

Don't dismiss the Nano as a small, poor man's car that will cause a mere ripple on the world market. The Nano is a radical innovation, with the potential to revolutionize automobile manufacturing and distribution. The tiny Nano incorporates three innovations, which together make it huge. First, the Nano uses a modular design that enables a knowledgeable mechanic to assemble the car in a workshop. Thus, Tata can outsource assembly to independent workshops that can then assemble the car on buyers' orders. This innovation not only removes costly labor from the manufacturer's side but also allows for distributed entrepreneurship on the dealer's side. Second, the low cost of the Nano comes from a combination of its no-frills design and its use of numerous lighter components, from simple door handles and bulbs to the transmission and engine parts. The lighter vehicle enables a more energy-efficient engine that gets 67 miles to the gallon. Third, at just 122 inches long, the Nano is one of the shortest four-passenger cars on the market, yet it allows for ample interior space. These innovations have enabled Tata to introduce the Nano at a base price of $2,000. The low price has triggered worldwide interest in the car and a surge of orders, even in a struggling auto market. The Nano has the potential of flourishing despite the recession or softening its sting because of its extraordinary low price. It's a radical innovation precisely because it is a poor man's car.

Note: For a treasure trove of inspiring developments in new energy and automotive technologies, click here.


Key Articles From Years Past

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on the Vaccine Autism Coverup
June 22, 2005, MSNBC
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8316237

JOE SCARBOROUGH, Host: Six out of every 1,000 kids get it, and nobody knows exactly why. But my next guest says ... part of the blame ... needs to fall on government. And it has to do with a drug called thimerosal. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense [Council]. Let's talk tonight about thimerosal. There are a lot of people out there ... very concerned about the impact of this drug, which is found in vaccines, and how it causes autism. Talk about that. KENNEDY: That's right. Thimerosal is a preservative that was put in vaccines back in the 1930s. Almost immediately after it was put in, autism cases began to appear. Autism had never been known before. It was unknown to science. Then the vaccines were increased in 1989 by the CDC and by a couple of other government agencies. What happened was the vaccine schedule was increased. We went up from receiving about 10 vaccines in our generation to these kids receive 24 vaccines. And they all had this thimerosal in them, this mercury. And nobody bothered to do an analysis of what the cumulative impact of all that mercury was doing to kids. As it turns out, we are injecting our children with 400 times the amount of mercury that FDA or EPA considers safe. A child on his first day that he is born is injected with a hepatitis B shot. Under EPA guidelines, he would have to be 275 pounds to safely absorb that shot. What happened was that, in 1988, one in every 2,500 American children had autism. Today, one in every 166 children have autism.

Note: For an excellent article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. revealing the severe manipulations around vaccines, click here. For a seven-minute video clip of the above interview, click here. For lots more on autism and vaccines from reliable, verifiable sources, click here

Congress Passes Wide-Ranging Bill Easing Bank Laws
November 5, 1999, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/1999/11/05/business/congress-passes-wide-ranging-bill-easing-bank-laws.html

Congress approved landmark legislation today that opens the door for a new era on Wall Street in which commercial banks, securities houses and insurers will find it easier and cheaper to enter one another's businesses. The measure, considered by many the most important banking legislation in 66 years, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 90 to 8 and in the House tonight by 362 to 57. The bill will now be sent to the president, who is expected to sign it, aides said. ''Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,'' Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. ''This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.'' The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation's financial system. The original idea behind Glass-Steagall was that separation between bankers and brokers would reduce the potential conflicts of interest that were thought to have contributed to the speculative stock frenzy before the Depression. Consumer groups and civil rights advocates criticized the legislation for being a sop to the nation's biggest financial institutions. The opponents of the measure ... predicted that by unshackling banks and enabling them to move more freely into new kinds of financial activities, the new law could lead to an economic crisis down the road when the marketplace is no longer growing briskly.

Note: Clearly these critics of the elimination of Glass-Steagall have been proven right by the financial crisis which has unfolded less than 10 years later. Note the key role played by President Obama's top economic advisor, Larry Summers. If the players haven't changed, how likely is it that the game has?


Special note:
For the full text of a history-making new article in the peer-reviewed scientific journal The Open Chemical Physics Journal, presenting detailed evidence of abundant nano-thermitic residue in dust from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and thus virtually proving that they were brought down by controlled demolition, click here. For discussion, click here. For an important analysis by WantToKnow.info team member Kristina Borjesson of the authenticity of purported audiotapes from Osama bin Laden that have been repeatedly reported in the mainstream press, click here.


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