WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs, UK Military Torture Manuals, Extreme Wealth Inequality in US
Revealing News Articles
November 1, 2010
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on a massive new release by WikiLeaks of US military logs from the Iraq war, discovery of UK military torture training manuals, the danger to US democracy posed by extreme and rising wealth inequality, 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.
Special note: Tod Fletcher of WantToKnow.info is the host of "9/11 In Context," a new weekly radio program with breaking news, analysis and interviews with researchers, on Thursdays at noon Pacific Time on the Resistance Radio Network. For an easy way to request files that the FBI or CIA have on you for the cost of a postage stamp, click here. To do a search on all available US Air Force documents and how to obtain them, click here. For one of the most grossly underreported stories showing how the rich get richer, click here. Did you know that 5,135 inventions are under US secrecy orders for reasons of "national security"? For more, click here.
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Iraq war logs: secret files show how US ignored torture
October 22, 2010, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes. Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian ... via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. The new logs detail how: • A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender. • More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. The logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities. The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death. The whistleblowing activists say they have deleted all names from the documents that might result in reprisals.
Note: For an analysis by the Ad Hoc Committee for Justice for Iraq of the still very one-sided picture of the devastation of Iraq provided by this leak of Iraq war logs, click here. For an interview of the leader of Wikileaks on CNN in which he walks out after being asked about his personal life rather than Iraqi deaths, click here.
The rich get richer, then buy elections
October 24, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
It's a perfect storm. I'm talking about the dangers facing our democracy. First, income in America is now more concentrated in fewer hands than it has been in 80 years. Almost a quarter of total income generated in the United States is going to the top 1 percent of Americans. The top one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans now earn as much as the bottom 120 million of us. Who are these people? They're top executives of big corporations and Wall Street, hedge-fund managers and private equity managers. Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into advertisements for and against candidates - without a trace of where the dollars are coming from. They're laundered through a handful of groups. Most Americans are in trouble. Their jobs, incomes, savings and even homes are on the line. They need a government that's working for them, not for the privileged and the powerful. Yet their state and local taxes are rising. And their services are being cut. There's no jobs bill to speak of. Washington says nothing can be done. There's no money left. No money? The marginal income tax rate on the very rich is the lowest it has been in more than 80 years. Under President Dwight Eisenhower ... it was 91 percent. Now it's 36 percent. We're losing our democracy to a different system. It's called plutocracy.
Note: Whether you are on the left or right of the political spectrum, this incisive article by former US Sect. of Labor Robert Reich is well worth reading in its entirety. For more in income inequality, click here.
Poor healthcare may shorten American lives
October 7, 2010, MSNBC/Reuters
Americans die sooner than citizens of a dozen other developed nations and the usual suspects -- obesity, traffic accidents and a high murder rate -- are not to blame. Instead, poor healthcare may be to blame, the team at Columbia University in New York reported. They found that 15-year survival rates for men and women aged 45 to 65 have fallen in the United States relative to the other 12 countries over the past 30 years. In June, the Commonwealth Fund, which advocates on and does research focusing on healthcare reform, reported that Americans spend twice as much on healthcare as residents of other developed countries -- $7,290 per person -- but get lower quality and less efficiency. Between 1975 and 2005, medical costs went up in all the countries, as did life expectancy. But costs went up far more in the United States and life expectancy increased to a far lower degree. "In 1950, the United States was fifth among the leading industrialized nations with respect to female life expectancy at birth, surpassed only by Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands," [the report authors] wrote. At last count, the United States was 46th in female life expectancy; 49th for both sexes.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
Humiliate, strip, threaten: UK military interrogation manuals discovered
October 25, 2010, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The British military has been training interrogators in techniques that include threats, sensory deprivation and enforced nakedness in an apparent breach of the Geneva conventions. Training materials drawn up secretly in recent years tell interrogators they should aim to provoke humiliation, insecurity, disorientation, exhaustion, anxiety and fear in the prisoners they are questioning, and suggest ways in which this can be achieved. A manual prepared in April 2008 suggests that "Cpers" – captured personnel – be kept in conditions of physical discomfort and intimidated. Sensory deprivation is lawful, it adds, if there are "valid operational reasons". It also urges enforced nakedness. More recent training material says blindfolds, earmuffs and plastic handcuffs are essential equipment for military interrogators, and says that while prisoners should be allowed to sleep or rest for eight hours in each 24, they need be permitted only four hours unbroken sleep. It also suggests that interrogators tell prisoners they will be held incommunicado unless they answer questions. The 1949 Geneva conventions prohibit any "physical or moral coercion", in particular any coercion employed to obtain information. All the British classified training material was produced after the death of Baha Mousa, the Iraqi hotel receptionist tortured to death by British troops in Basra in September 2003.
Note: For a survey of historic and contemporary uses of torture, click here. For more disturbing information on how Nazi torture techniques were eventually used by the CIA for mind control, click here.
From protester to senator, FBI tracked Paul Wellstone
October 25, 2010, Minnesota Public Radio
It started with a fingerprint of a 25-year-old college professor who opposed the Vietnam War and ended with a search for his remains, 32 years later, in a wooded area near Eveleth, Minn. The FBI's files on Paul and Sheila Wellstone [show that] the FBI initially took interest in Wellstone as part of the broader surveillance of the American left ... and, in the end, [sifted] through the wreckage of the fatal plane crash that killed Wellstone and seven others eight years ago. Wellstone's surviving sons declined to comment on the documents, which were obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by MPR News. The FBI did not include 76 pages related to the National Transportation Safety Board, the agency that investigated the crash. A request for those records is pending. Coleen Rowley, the 9/11 whistleblower and former chief legal advisor in the FBI's Minneapolis office, said the documents from 1970 shed light on the FBI's far-reaching efforts to quash political dissent. "I think this really is valuable ... because it's basically history repeating what we have right now," she said, noting the recent FBI raids at the homes of several anti-war organizers in Minneapolis. Wellstone's arrest occurred less than a year before the official end of Cointelpro, a series of secret domestic surveillance programs created by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to monitor and disrupt groups deemed to be a threat to national security.
Note: For insights into the deeper implications of Senator Wellstone's mysterious plane crash, click here.
Australian trade union president claims 9/11 was a conspiracy
October 20, 2010, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A senior member of the Australian trade union movement has come under fire after he claimed that the terrorist attacks on Sept 11, 2001 were part of an American conspiracy. Kevin Bracken, who is the Victorian secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia and president of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, [said] that "the official story doesn't stand up to scientific scrutiny". Mr Bracken [said] that Australia should instead hold an inquiry into the events of 9/11, claiming that elements of the former Bush administration, US military and security services were involved in the attacks and that the motive was related to a large insurance policy that had been taken out on the Twin Towers. "There are so many unanswered questions," he said. "The fact is that aviation fuel doesn't get hot enough to melt steel and no high rise steel frame building before or after September 11 has ever collapsed due to fire. "I stick to scientific facts. In my mind the buildings were imploded."
Documentary 'Inside Job' only tells part of story
October 24, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
"Inside Job," as the movie title implies, sees the 2008 financial meltdown, its causes and ongoing catastrophic consequences, as the work of crooks. Crooks as in members of the financial services industry. Aided and abetted by ... administrations of both political stripes, ratings agencies and regulators, all of whom were committed to an ideology that enabled larceny on a grand scale. The documentary, written, produced and directed by Bay Area high-tech entrepreneur turned filmmaker Charles Ferguson, opened in Bay Area cinemas [on October 22]. Even if you've read through the growing pile of books, congressional hearings and material generated by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, it has plenty to remind you why you are furious, all over again. If further proof is needed, the film effectively demolishes the "who knew?" argument proffered by Goldman Sachs Group CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his peers. And it makes a convincing case that much of the obscenely compensated financial services industry has been rotten to the core for decades, but is yet to be held truly accountable for activities, both immoral and illegal.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the criminal practices of the largest financial corporations and regulatory agencies which led to the current economic crisis, click here.
After Growth, Fortunes Turn for Monsanto
October 5, 2010, New York Times
Monsanto, the giant of agricultural biotechnology, has been buffeted by setbacks this year that have prompted analysts to question whether its winning streak of creating ever more expensive genetically engineered crops is coming to an end. The latest blow came last week, when early returns from this year's harvest showed that Monsanto's newest product, SmartStax corn, which contains eight inserted genes, was providing yields no higher than the company's less expensive corn, which contains only three foreign genes. Monsanto has already been forced to sharply cut prices on SmartStax and on its newest soybean seeds, called Roundup Ready 2 Yield, as sales fell below projections. Sales of Monsanto's Roundup, the widely used herbicide, has collapsed this year under an onslaught of low-priced generics made in China. Weeds are growing resistant to Roundup, dimming the future of the entire Roundup Ready crop franchise. And the Justice Department is investigating Monsanto for possible antitrust violations. Until now, Monsanto's main challenge has come from opponents of genetically modified crops, who have slowed their adoption in Europe and some other regions. Now, however, the skeptics also include farmers and investors who were once in Monsanto's camp.
Note: For those who are not aware of how Monsanto executives are quite consciously endangering your health, click here.
Al Qaeda Leader Dined at the Pentagon Just Months After 9/11
October 20, 2010, Fox News
Anwar Al-Awlaki may be the first American on the CIA's kill or capture list, but he was also a lunch guest of military brass at the Pentagon within months of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Documents exclusively obtained by Fox News ... state that Awlaki was taken to the Pentagon ... in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. A current Defense Department employee ... came forward and told investigators she helped arrange the meeting after she saw Awlaki speak in Alexandria, Va. The employee "attended this talk and ... she recalls being impressed by this imam. He condemned Al Qaeda and the terrorist attacks," reads one document. "After her vetting, Aulaqi (Awlaki) was invited to and attended a luncheon at the Pentagon in the secretary of the Army's Office of Government Counsel." Awlaki, a Yemeni-American who was born in Las Cruces, N.M., was interviewed at least four times by the FBI in the first week after the attacks because of his ties to the three [alleged] hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Hani Hanjour. The three ... were all onboard Flight 77 that [allegedly] slammed into the Pentagon.
Note: This article certainly raises suspicions that the amazing connections of Awlaki to so many recent terror incidents may not be unrelated to his now-established connections to the Pentagon shortly after 9/11.
Speedy New Traders Make Waves Far From Wall Street
May 17, 2010, New York Times blog
Inside the humdrum offices of a tiny trading firm called Tradeworx, workers ... tend high-speed computers that typically buy and sell 80 million shares a day. But on the afternoon of May 6, as the stock market began to plunge in the "flash crash," someone here walked up to one of those computers and typed the command HF STOP: sell everything and shutdown. Across the country, several of Tradeworx's counterparts did the same. In a blink, some of the most powerful players in the stock market – high-frequency traders – went dark. The result sent chills through the financial world. After the brief 1,000-point plunge in the stock market that day, the growing role of high-frequency traders in the nation's financial markets is drawing new scrutiny. Over the last decade, these high-tech operators have become sort of a shadow Wall Street – from New Jersey to Kansas City, from Texas to Chicago. Depending on whose estimates you believe, high-frequency traders account for 40 to 70 percent of all trading on every stock market in the country. Some of the biggest players trade more than a billion shares a day. These are short-term bets. Very short. The founder of Tradebot, in Kansas City, Mo., told students in 2008 that his firm typically held stocks for 11 seconds. Tradebot, one of the biggest high-frequency traders around, had not had a losing day in four years, he said.
Note: For key reports on the dubious practices which underlay the financial crisis and the impoverishment of the public treasury, click here.
WikiLeaks and 9/11: What if?
October 15, 2010, Los Angeles Times
If WikiLeaks had been around in 2001, could the events of 9/11 have been prevented? The idea is worth considering. There were a lot of us in the run-up to Sept. 11 who had seen warning signs that something devastating might be in the planning stages. One of us, Coleen Rowley, was a special agent/legal counsel at the FBI's Minneapolis division and worked closely with those who arrested would-be terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui on an immigration violation less than a month before the World Trade Center was destroyed. Following up on a tip from flight school instructors who had become suspicious of the French Moroccan who claimed to want to fly a jet as an "ego boost," Special Agent Harry Samit and an INS colleague had detained Moussaoui. A foreign intelligence service promptly reported that he had connections with a foreign terrorist group, but FBI officials in Washington inexplicably turned down Samit's request for authority to search Moussaoui's laptop computer and personal effects. Later, testifying at Moussaoui's trial, Samit testified that he believed the behavior of his FBI superiors in Washington constituted "criminal negligence." WikiLeaks might have provided a pressure valve for those agents who were terribly worried about what might happen and frustrated by their superiors' seeming indifference.
Hollywood actor fears he's on a 'death list' of stars
October 24, 2010, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Randy Quaid, the American actor famous for playing characters as diverse as the trailer-trash scrounger in the "National Lampoon" series to his nation's saviour in "Independence Day", is at the centre of a real-life drama more bizarre than anything the movies ever cooked up for him. He and his wife are claiming asylum in Canada because, in her words, they fear they are on a Hollywood "death list". The couple were arrested in Vancouver after police responded to a call and found there were warrants out for them in California. The couple told the immigration adjudicator that they are being persecuted in the United States. Evi Quaid begged a Canadian immigration adjudicator not to force them to return, saying that friends, such as the actors David Carradine and Heath Ledger, had been "murdered" under mysterious circumstances and she was worried something would happen to her husband next. "We feel our lives are in danger," she said. "Randy has known eight close friends murdered in odd, strange manners... We feel that we're next." During a break in the proceedings, the Quaids' lawyer, Brian Tsuji, approached the media to read a single-sentence statement from the Quaids. "We are requesting asylum from Hollywood star-whackers," he read, declining further comment on the mental state of his clients. Randy Quaid, 60, complained he had been persecuted for 20 years.
A town crier in the global village
September 2, 2010, The Economist magazine
Nearly four years ago, a web-based political movement set itself the modest task of "closing the gap between the world we have and world most people everywhere want". Calling their group Avaaz, which means "voice" in several languages, ... the movement, using 14 languages and engaged in a mind-boggling list of causes, has had some spectacular successes. Within the next few months, membership will top 6m. The number of individual actions taken (from bombarding a politician with a well-aimed message, or funding a poster campaign, to helping provide satellite phones to Burmese monks) is estimated at over 23m. Among the recent developments Avaaz claims to have influenced are a new anti-corruption law in Brazil; a move by Britain to create a marine-conservation zone in the Indian Ocean; and the spiking of a proposal to allow more hunting of whales. Avaaz's campaign against the death sentence for adultery imposed on an Iranian woman asks members to phone Iranian embassies (and provides numbers); members are also being urged to put pressure on the leaders of Brazil and Turkey to intercede with Iran. Avaaz is collecting funds for a campaign in the Brazilian and Turkish press, too. Avaaz's other demands range from the simple -– close Guantánamo -– to the very broad: fight climate change, avoid a clash of civilisations. Despite the risk of blurred signals, the variety of causes is also a strength.
Note: Consider signing up at Avaaz.org to join in the powerful advocacy work they are doing.
Seeking Proof in Near-Death Claims
October 25, 2010, Wall Street Journal
At least 15 million American adults say they have had a near-death experience, according to a 1997 survey -– and the number is thought to be rising with increasingly sophisticated resuscitation techniques. In addition to floating above their bodies, people often describe moving down a dark tunnel toward a bright light, feeling intense peace and joy, reviewing life events and seeing long-deceased relatives–only to be told that it's not time yet and land abruptly back in an ailing body. "There are always skeptics, but there are millions of 'experiencers' who know what happened to them, and they don't care what anybody else says," says Diane Corcoran, president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, a nonprofit group in Durham, N.C. The organization publishes the Journal of Near-Death Studies and maintains support groups in 47 states. In his new book, Evidence of the Afterlife, Jeffrey Long, a radiation oncologist in Louisiana, analyzes 613 cases reported on the website of his Near Death Research Foundation and concludes there is only one plausible explanation: "that people have survived death and traveled to another [mode of existence]." "The self, the soul, the psyche–throughout history, we've never managed to figure out what it is and how it relates to the body," [said Sam Parnia, a critical-care physician]. "This is a very important for science and fascinating for humankind."
Key Articles From Years Past
United States Interventions: What For?
Spring, 2005, Revista: Harvard Review of Latin America
In the slightly less than a hundred years from 1898 to 1994, the U.S. government has intervened successfully to change governments in Latin America a total of at least 41 times. That amounts to once every 28 months for an entire century. Direct intervention occurred in 17 of the 41 cases. These incidents involved the use of U.S. military forces, intelligence agents or local citizens employed by U.S. government agencies. In another 24 cases, the U.S. government played an indirect role. That is, local actors played the principal roles, but either would not have acted or would not have succeeded without encouragement from the U.S. government. The 41 cases do not include incidents in which the United States sought to depose a Latin American government, but failed in the attempt. The most famous such case was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961. Also absent from the list are numerous cases in which the U.S. government acted decisively to forestall a coup d'etat or otherwise protect an incumbent regime from being overthrown. In nearly every case, U.S. officials cited U.S. security interests, either as determinative or as a principal motivation. With hindsight, it is now possible to dismiss most these claims as implausible. In many cases, they were understood as necessary for generating public and congressional support, but not taken seriously by the key decision makers.
Vaccine virus 'cancer link'
March 8, 2002, BBC
A monkey virus found in early versions of a vaccine against polio may be linked to a common type of cancer, suggest scientists. Batches of polio vaccine tainted with "simian virus 40" (SV40) were given between 1955 and 1963. This was because monkey kidney cells were used in the [vaccine's] production process. It is [now] conceded that SV40 was present in the early vaccine - and the latest research, published in the Lancet journal, has linked it to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. This is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which has a role in the body's fight against infection, and affects mainly the over 40s. The researchers looked at hundreds of tumours taken from various cancer patients, and compared them with 68 samples taken from non-Hodgkin's patients. They found genetic "footprints" of the virus in 43% of the non-Hodgkin's tumour cells. In other types of tumour, some had no trace of the virus at all, and fewer than 10% of most other types tested positive. Tissue taken from 40 apparently healthy patients produced no positive tests at all. Despite this evidence linking the virus to the cancer, there is still no proof that SV40 actually causes it in humans, although animal experiments suggest this can happen. In addition, it is not proven that the polio vaccine was the source of the SV40.
Note: This information was uncovered years ago by Merck's top vaccine expert, who acknowledged that he unintentionally imported the AIDS virus to the US. See the shocking video of his testimony available here. For lots of reliable information raising serious questions about the dangers of vaccines, click here and here.
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