Politicians Get Safer Swine Flu Vaccine, Goldman Sachs Bet on Housing Crisis
Revealing News Articles
November 9, 2009
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on German politicians getting a safer swine flu vaccine, CIA agents convicted of kidnapping in Italy, Goldman Sachs secretly betting on the housing crisis, 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. The most important 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.
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In Germany, a Better Vaccine for Politicians?
October 27, 2009, Time magazine
As Germany launched its mass-vaccination program against the H1N1 flu virus on Monday, the government found itself fending off accusations of favoritism because it was offering one vaccine believed to have fewer side effects to civil servants, politicians and soldiers, and another, potentially riskier vaccine to everyone else. The German government prepared for its mass-vaccination campaign earlier this year by ordering 50 million doses of the Pandemrix vaccine. The vaccine, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, contains an immunity-enhancing chemical compound, known as an adjuvant, whose side effects are not yet entirely known. The Interior Ministry confirmed that it had ordered a different vaccine, Celvapan, for government officials and the military. Celvapan, which is made by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Baxter, does not contain an adjuvant and is believed to have fewer side effects.
Italy Convicts 23 Americans for C.I.A. Renditions
November 5, 2009, New York Times
In a landmark ruling, an Italian judge ... convicted a base chief for the Central Intelligence Agency and 22 other Americans, almost all C.I.A. operatives, of kidnapping a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003. The case was a huge symbolic victory for Italian prosecutors, who drew the first convictions involving the American practice of rendition, in which terrorism suspects are captured in one country and taken for questioning in another, often one more open to [torture]. The fact that Italy would actually convict intelligence agents of an allied country was seen as a bold move that could set a precedent in other cases. Judge Oscar Magi handed an eight-year sentence to Robert Seldon Lady, a former C.I.A. base chief in Milan, and five-year sentences to the 22 other Americans, including an Air Force colonel and 21 C.I.A. operatives. Three of the other high-ranking Americans were given diplomatic immunity, including Jeffrey Castelli, a former C.I.A. station chief in Rome. Citing state secrecy, the judge did not convict five high-ranking Italians charged in the abduction, including a former head of Italian military intelligence, Nicoḷ Pollari. All the Americans were tried in absentia and are considered fugitives. Armando Spataro, the counterterrorism prosecutor who brought the case, said he was considering asking the Italian government for an international arrest warrant for the fugitive Americans. Tom Parker, Amnesty International's United States point man for terrorism issues, called on the Obama administration to "repudiate the unlawful practice of extraordinary rendition."
Note: The US government has refused to extradite to Italy the 23 Americans convicted in absentia of kidnapping. Yet the US is pressing for the extradition of 76-year-old Roman Polanski for fleeing the US after serious judicial malfeasance. For an analysis of these contradictions by US authorities over extradition, click here.
How Goldman secretly bet on the housing crash
November 1, 2009, Kansas City Star/McClatchy Newspapers
In 2006 and 2007, Goldman Sachs Group peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in U.S. housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting. Goldman's sales and its clandestine wagers, completed at the brink of the housing market meltdown, enabled one of the nation's premier investment banks to pass most of its potential losses to others before a flood of mortgage loan defaults staggered the U.S. and global economies. Only later did investors discover that what Goldman promoted as triple-A investments were closer to junk. Now, pension funds, insurance companies, labor unions and foreign financial institutions that bought those dicey mortgage securities are facing large losses, and a five-month McClatchy Newspapers investigation has found that Goldman's failure to disclose that it made secret, exotic bets on an imminent housing crash may have violated securities laws. "The Securities and Exchange Commission should be very interested in any financial company that secretly decides a financial product is a loser and then goes out and actively markets that product or very similar products to unsuspecting customers without disclosing its true opinion," said Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University economics professor who's proposed a massive overhaul of the nation's big banks. "This is fraud and should be prosecuted."
Note: For an eye-opening, powerful PBS video which reveals how the economic crisis was conscously allowed to happen, click here. It reveals that Fed chairman Alan Greenspan was against investigating any fraud. For many reports from reliable sources on corruption at the core of the Wall Street collapse and bailout, click here.
1,600 are suggested daily for FBI's list
November 1, 2009, Washington Post
Newly released FBI data offer evidence of the broad scope and complexity of the nation's terrorist watch list, documenting a daily flood of names nominated for inclusion to the controversial list. During a 12-month period ended in March this year, for example, the U.S. intelligence community suggested on a daily basis that 1,600 people qualified for the list because they presented a "reasonable suspicion," according to data provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee by the FBI in September and made public last week. The ever-churning list is said to contain more than 400,000 unique names and over 1 million entries. Nine percent of those on the terrorism list, the FBI said, are also on the government's "no fly" list. Before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI needed initial information that a person or group was engaged in wrongdoing before it could open a preliminary investigation. Under current practice, no such information is needed. The inquiries can be opened by individual agents "proactively," meaning on his or her own or in response to a lead about a threat.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on the growing government threats to civil liberties, click here.
Who's in Big Brother's Database?
November 5, 2009, New York Review of Books
On a remote edge of Utah's dry and arid high desert ... hard-hatted construction workers with top-secret clearances are preparing to build [a] mammoth $2 billion structure. It's being built by the ultra-secret National Security Agency ... to house trillions of phone calls, e-mail messages, and [electronic data trails of all kinds]. The NSA is also completing work on another data archive, this one in San Antonio, Texas, which will be nearly the size of the Alamodome. Just how much information will be stored in these windowless cybertemples? A recent report prepared by the MITRE Corporation, a Pentagon think tank, [states] "Sensor data volume could potentially increase to the level of Yottabytes [10-to-the-24th-power bytes] by 2015." Once vacuumed up and stored in these near-infinite "libraries," the data are then analyzed by powerful infoweapons, supercomputers running complex algorithmic programs, to determine who among us may be – or may one day become – a terrorist. Emerging [after 9/11] as the most powerful chief the spy world has ever known was the director of the NSA. He is in charge of an organization three times the size of the CIA and empowered in 2008 by Congress to spy on Americans to an unprecedented degree. These new centers in Utah, Texas, and possibly elsewhere will likely become the centralized repositories for the data intercepted by the NSA in America's version of the "big brother database."
Note: James Bamford, the author of this review of a new book on the history of the NSA, has himself written three important books on the agency. For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the developing capacity by government and corporate surveillance to construct a "Big Brother" states, click here.
Outrage as Doctors' Group Allows Coca-Cola to Sponsor Health Advice
November 5, 2009, Fox News/Associated Press
Advice about soft drinks and health from one of the nation's largest doctors groups will soon be brought to you by Coke. The American Academy of Family Physicians has prompted outcry and lost members over its new six-figure alliance with the Coca-Cola Co. The deal will fund educational materials about soft drinks for the academy's consumer health and wellness Web site, www.FamilyDoctor.org. "Coca-Cola, like other sodas, causes enormous suffering and premature death by increasing the risks of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, gout, and cavities," Harvard University nutrition expert Dr. Walter Willett said in an e-mail. He said the academy "should be a loud critic of these products and practices, but by signing with Coke their voice has almost surely been muzzled." Dr. Henry Blackburn, a University of Minnesota public health specialist, said the deal "will inevitably have a chilling effect on the focus of their message in regards to sweet drinks."
Note: For more on corruption in the medical/corporate complex, click here.
Cluster bomb trade funded by world's biggest banks
October 29, 2009, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The deadly trade in cluster bombs is funded by the world's biggest banks who have loaned or arranged finance worth $20bn (£12.5bn) to firms producing the controversial weapons, despite growing international efforts to ban them. HSBC, led by ordained Anglican priest Stephen Green, has profited more than any other institution from companies that manufacture cluster bombs. The British bank ... has earned a total of £657.3m in fees arranging bonds and share offerings for Textron, which makes cluster munitions described by the US company as "leaving a clean battlefield". HSBC will face protests outside its London headquarters today. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan and UK-based Barclays Bank are also named among the worst banks in a detailed 126-page report by Dutch and Belgian campaign groups IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen. Goldman Sachs, the US bank which made £3.19bn proft in just three months, earned $588.82m for bank services and lent $250m to Alliant Techsystems and Textron. Last December 90 countries, including the UK, committed themselves to banning cluster bombs by next year. But the US was not one of them. So far 23 countries have ratified the convention. The UK has yet to do so.
Note: For many verifiable revelations of war profiteering by large corporations, click here.
Foreclosures: 'Worst three months of all time'
October 15, 2009, CNN Money
Despite concerted government-led and lender-supported efforts to prevent foreclosures, the number of filings hit a record high in the third quarter. 937,840 homes received a foreclosure letter -- whether a default notice, auction notice or bank repossession. That means one in every 136 U.S. homes were in foreclosure, which is a 5% increase from the second quarter and a 23% jump over the third quarter of 2008. Most disturbing is that all foreclosures -- not just repossessions -- are rampant despite efforts to corral them. There are no firm statistics for it, but many industry watchers claim the percentage of REOs [properties possessed by the mortgage company after an unsuccessful foreclosure auction] caused by borrowers voluntarily walking away from their homes is skyrocketing. The foreclosure crisis may not diminish anytime soon.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on the impacts of the financial crash, click here.
The Halliburton Loophole
November 3, 2009, New York Times
Among the many dubious provisions in the 2005 energy bill was one dubbed the Halliburton loophole, which was inserted at the behest of – you guessed it – then-Vice President Dick Cheney, a former chief executive of Halliburton. It stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate a drilling process called hydraulic fracturing [commonly referred to as "fracking"]. Invented by Halliburton in the 1940s, it involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals, some of them toxic, into underground rock formations to blast them open and release natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing has been implicated in a growing number of water pollution cases across the country. It has become especially controversial in New York, where regulators are eager to clear the way for drilling in the New York City watershed, potentially imperiling the city's water supply. Congress last week approved a bill that asks the E.P.A. to conduct a new study on the risks of hydraulic fracturing. An agency study in 2004 whitewashed the industry and was dismissed by experts as superficial and politically motivated. This time Congress is demanding "a transparent, peer-reviewed process." Cumbersomely named the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, it would close the loophole and restore the E.P.A.'s rightful authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. It would also require the oil and gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use.
Note: Energy-development corporations using the fracking process will not disclose the chemicals they inject into the subsurface because of the chemicals' high toxicity when they penetrate groundwater supplies. For many more examples from reliable sources of corporate and government secrecy, click here.
Long-range Taser raises fears of shock and injury
November 2, 2009, New Scientist
A Pentagon project to perfect a projectile capable of delivering an electric shock to incapacitate a person tens of metres away [is now in its final stages]. It will be fired from a standard 40-millimetre grenade launcher. The projectile, being developed by Taser International under a $2.5 million contract, is known as a Human Electro-Muscular Incapacitation or HEMI device. Taser will deliver the first prototypes for testing and evaluation early next year. The ... cartridges should be able to hit targets 60 metres away. However, the impact force of the projectile remains a worry. "There is a known risk of severe injury from impact projectiles, either from blunt force at short ranges or from hitting a sensitive part of the body," says security researcher Neil Davison, who has recently written a book on non-lethal weapons. The duration of the shock which the HEMI will deliver to its target has also raised concerns. Marksmen will need time to reach the incapacitated target, and because the weapon is designed for long-range use this could be considerable. "We should be worried about undesirable effects if people are going to be subjected to bouts of prolonged incapacitation," says Steve Wright, a specialist in non-lethal weapons at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK.
Note: For lots more on "non-lethal weapons" from major media sources, click here.
Wall Street's Naked Swindle
October 14, 2009, Rolling Stone magazine
On Tuesday, March 11th, 2008, somebody – nobody knows who – made one of the craziest bets Wall Street has ever seen. The mystery figure spent $1.7 million on a series of options, gambling that shares in the venerable investment bank Bear Stearns would lose more than half their value in nine days or less. It was madness – "like buying 1.7 million lottery tickets," according to one financial analyst. In order for the bet to pay, Bear would have to fall harder and faster than any Wall Street brokerage in history. The very next day, March 12th, Bear went into free fall. By the end of the week, the firm had lost virtually all of its cash and was clinging to promises of state aid; by the weekend, it was being knocked to its knees by the Fed and the Treasury, and forced at the barrel of a shotgun to sell itself to JPMorgan Chase (which had been given $29 billion in public money...) at the humiliating price of ... $2 a share. Whoever bought those options on March 11th woke up on the morning of March 17th having made 159 times his money, or roughly $270 million. Six months after Bear was eaten by predators, virtually the same scenario repeated itself in the case of Lehman Brothers – another top-five investment bank that in September 2008 was vaporized in an obvious case of market manipulation. From there, the financial crisis was on. When Bear and Lehman made their final leap off the cliff of history, both undeniably got a push ... in the form of a flat-out counterfeiting scheme called naked short-selling.
Note: Why isn't this being reported in the major media and aggressively investigated? For many reports from reliable sources on the corruption at the core of the Wall Street collapse and bailout, click here.
Fed Rejects Geithner Request for Study of Governance, Structure
September 21, 2009, Bloomberg News
The Federal Reserve Board has rejected a request by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for a public review of the central bank's structure and governance, three people familiar with the matter said. U.S. lawmakers have also called for a review of the Fed's power and structure, saying Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke overstepped his authority as he bailed out creditors of Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc. while battling a crisis that led to $1.62 trillion in writedowns and losses at financial firms. While the report requested by the Treasury hasn't been formally scrapped, no work has been done on the project, which was due Oct. 1. Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams declined to comment, as did Fed spokeswoman Michelle Smith. Congressional leaders have balked at the notion of giving the Fed more power and are leaning toward vesting authority over capital, liquidity and risk-management practices of big banks in a council of regulators.
Note: To understand how business corrupts politicians watch the heated MSNBC News clip at this link.
Fed Urges Secrecy on Banks in Bailout Programs
August 27, 2009, ABC News/Reuters
The U.S. Federal Reserve asked a federal judge not to enforce her order that it reveal the names of the banks that have participated in its emergency lending programs and the sums they received, saying such disclosure would threaten the companies and the economy. The central bank filed its request ... two days after Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan ruled in favor of Bloomberg News, which had sought information under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Preska said the Fed failed to show that revealing the names would stigmatize the banks and result in "imminent competitive harm." Underlying this case and a similar one involving News Corp's Fox News Network is a question of how much the public has a right to know about how the government is bailing out a financial system in a crisis. The case arose when two Bloomberg reporters submitted FOIA requests about actions the Fed took to shore up the financial system in 2007 and early 2008, including an expansion of lending programs and the sale of Bear Stearns Cos to JPMorgan.
Note: Don't tax payers have a right to know to which bankds the trillions of tax dollars are going in the bank bailout? For lots more on government secrecy, click here.
Man Asks Entire Town for Forgiveness for Racism
February 6, 2009, ABC News
Nearly half a century ago, in a very different America, Elwin Wilson and John Lewis met under a veil of violence and race-inspired hate. Wilson, a young, white, Southern man, attacked Lewis, a freedom rider for Martin Luther King, in the "white" waiting room of a South Carolina bus station. The men had not seen each other again until Tuesday when, with "Good Morning America's" help, Wilson approached Lewis again -- this time offering an apology and a chance to relieve a burden he'd carried for more than four decades. "I'm so sorry about what happened back then," Wilson said breathlessly. "It's OK. I forgive you," Lewis responded before a long-awaited hug. For Lewis, who in the intervening years became a U.S. representative from Georgia, the apology was an unexpected symbol of the change in time and hearts. "I never thought this would happen," he told "GMA." "It says something about the power of love, of grace, the power of the people being able to say, 'I'm sorry,' and move on. And I deeply appreciate it. It's very meaningful for me." The change, one Wilson said was a long time coming, was sparked by Barack Obama's presidential victory. "I like Barack Obama," he said. "I didn't vote for him, but I'm glad he's there, and I've prayed for him."
Key Articles From Years Past
Have We Visitors From Space?
April 7, 1952, Life magazine
For four years the U.S. public has wondered [about] the strange and insistent tales of eerie objects streaking across American skies. Last week the U.S. Air Force made known to LIFE the following facts: As a result of continuing flying saucer reports the Air Force maintains constant intelligence investigation and study of unidentified aerial objects. A policy of positive action has been adopted to find out, as soon as possible, what is responsible for observations that have been made. For the first time the Air Force (while in no way identifying itself with any particular conclusions) has opened its files for study. Out of this exhaustive inquiry these propositions seem firmly shaped by the evidence: * 1. Disks, cylinders and similar objects of geometrical form, luminous quality and solid nature for several years have been, and may be now, actually present in the atmosphere of the earth. * 2. Globes of green fire also, of a brightness more intense than the full moon's, have frequently passed through the skies. * 3. These objects cannot be explained by present science as natural phenomena -- but solely as artificial devices, created and operated by a high intelligence. * 4. Finally, no power plant known or projected on earth could account for the performance of these devices.
Note: This is a copy of the Apr. 7, 1952 Life magazine article as reproduced by Google at the link above. Another copy of the article with several letters to the editor added at the bottom is available here.
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