Pentagon Targets Top Journalists, Prison Capital of the World, Obama Authorizes Executions
Revealing News Articles
June 5, 2012
Below are key excerpts of important news articles on a Pentagon campaign targeting two top journalists, the corrupt prison capital of the world in Louisiana, Obama's personal role in authorizing who is executed by drones from a secret list, 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. And don't miss the "What you can do" box below the summaries. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Misinformation campaign targets USA TODAY reporter, editor
April 19, 2012, USA Today
A USA TODAY reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites. Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments. Websites were registered in their names. The timeline of the activity tracks USA TODAY's reporting on the military's "information operations" program, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan – campaigns that have been criticized even within the Pentagon as ineffective and poorly monitored. For example, Internet domain registries show the website TomVandenBrook.com was created Jan. 7 – just days after Pentagon reporter Tom Vanden Brook first contacted Pentagon contractors involved in the program. Two weeks after his editor Ray Locker's byline appeared on a story, someone created a similar site, RayLocker.com, through the same company. If the websites were created using federal funds, it could violate federal law prohibiting the production of propaganda for domestic consumption. Some postings ... accused them of being sponsored by the Taliban. "They disputed nothing factual in the story about information operations," Vanden Brook said.
Note: For more on a proposed amendment to a U.S. bill which would make it legal to use propaganda and lie to the American public, click here.
Plantations, Prisons and Profits
May 26, 2012, New York Times
"Louisiana is the world's prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran's, seven times China's and 10 times Germany's." That paragraph opens a devastating eight-part series published this month by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans about how the state's largely private prison system profits from high incarceration rates and tough sentencing, and how many with the power to curtail the system actually have a financial incentive to perpetuate it. The picture that emerges is one of convicts as chattel and a legal system essentially based on human commodification. • One in 86 Louisiana adults is in the prison system, which is nearly double the national average. • More than 50 percent of Louisiana's inmates are in local prisons, which is more than any other state. The national average is 5 percent. • Louisiana leads the nation in the percentage of its prisoners serving life without parole. • Nearly two-thirds of Louisiana's prisoners are nonviolent offenders. The national average is less than half. In the early 1990s, the state was under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, but instead of releasing prisoners or loosening sentencing guidelines, the state incentivized the building of private prisons. But, in what the newspaper called "a uniquely Louisiana twist," most of the prison entrepreneurs were actually rural sheriffs. They saw a way to make a profit and did.
Note: To read the powerful 8-part investigation of the Louisiana prison system from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, click here. For more on the cruelty and corruption of the prison-industrial complex, click here.
The crime of punishment at Pelican Bay State Prison
May 31, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
For the past 16 years, I have spent at least 22 1/2 hours of every day completely isolated within a tiny, windowless cell in the Security Housing Unit at California's Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City. Eighteen years ago, I committed the crime that brought me here: burgling an unoccupied dwelling. Under the state's "three strikes" law, I was sentenced to between 25 years and life in prison. The circumstances of my case are not unique; in fact, about a third of Pelican Bay's 3,400 prisoners are in solitary confinement; more than 500 have been there for 10 years, including 78 who have been here for more than 20 years. Unless you have lived it, you cannot imagine what it feels like to be by yourself, between four cold walls, with little concept of time, no one to confide in, and only a pillow for comfort - for years on end. It is a living tomb. I eat alone and exercise alone in a small, dank, cement enclosure known as the "dog-pen."I have not been allowed physical contact with any of my loved ones since 1995. I have developed severe insomnia, I suffer frequent headaches, and I feel helpless and hopeless. In short, I am being psychologically tortured. Now fellow SHU inmates and I have joined together with the Center for Constitutional Rights in a federal lawsuit that challenges this treatment as unconstitutional. I understand I broke the law, and I have lost liberties because of that. But no one, no matter what they've done, should be denied fundamental human rights, especially when that denial comes in the form of such torture. Our Constitution protects everyone living under it; fundamental rights must not be left at the prison door.
Note: For more on the unbridled cruelty and corruption of the prison-industrial complex, click here.
Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will
May 29, 2012, New York Times
Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret "nominations" process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. Mr. Obama ... insisted on approving every new name on an expanding "kill list," poring over terrorist suspects' biographies. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises -- but his family is with him -- it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation. In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama's evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war. They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign ... even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was "an easy one." Beside the president at every step is his counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, who is variously compared by colleagues to a dogged police detective, tracking terrorists from his cavelike office in the White House basement, or a priest whose blessing has become indispensable to Mr. Obama, echoing the president's attempt to apply the "just war" theories of Christian philosophers to a brutal modern conflict.
Note: For further analysis of Obama's role in the selection of drone missile targets, click here.
America's murderous drone campaign is fuelling terror
May 29, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
From Pakistan to Somalia, CIA-controlled pilotless aircraft rain down Hellfire missiles on an ever-expanding hit list of terrorist suspects – they have already killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of civilians in the process. At least 15 drone strikes have been launched in Yemen this month, as many as in the whole of the past decade, killing dozens; while in Pakistan, a string of US attacks has been launched against supposed "militant" targets in the past week, incinerating up to 35 people and hitting a mosque and a bakery. But then Predators and Reapers are Barack Obama's weapons of choice and coercion, deployed only on the territory of troublesome US allies, such as Pakistan and Yemen – and the drone war is Obama's war. In his first two years in office, the US president more than tripled the number of attacks in Pakistan alone. Since 2004, between 2,464 and 3,145 people are reported to have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan, of whom up to 828 were civilians (535 under Obama) and 175 children. Some Pakistani estimates put the civilian death toll much higher – plausibly, given the tendency to claim as "militants" victims later demonstrated to be nothing of the sort. The US president insisted recently that the civilian death toll was not a "huge number". These killings are, in reality, summary executions and widely regarded as potential war crimes by international lawyers. The CIA's now retired counsel, John Rizzo, who authorised drone attacks, himself talked about having been involved in "murder".
Note: For a deep analysis of how killer drone technology and the concept of 'remote war' have altered the balance of options available to our political and military leaders and made the political cost of military intervention much lower than it had previously been, click here.
Montreal's student protesters defy restrictions as demonstrations grow
May 25, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Demonstrators in Montreal have continued to defy an emergency law passed by the provincial government in Quebec to restrict protests by students against planned tuition fee hikes. On Wednesday, more than 500 Montrealers were arrested – more than during the entire October 1970 crisis when martial law was declared in the city in response to actions by Quebec nationalists. The total number of those arrested in the current protests has now exceeded 2,500. The protest ... was declared illegal before it began, because organizers had not provided police with an itinerary, as required by a controversial new emergency law. Helicopters and riot police are an increasingly common sight on the streets of Montreal as a province-wide student strike passed the 100-day mark, but popular support only seems to be growing as the government attempts to clamp down on the strike. Small red squares, the symbol of the strike historically worn by Montreal students supporting free tuition, are everywhere in the city – cloth pinned to people's lapels and daubed onto signs and walls. Families and older residents are increasingly common sights at protests as well, demonstrating against Bill 78, which places restrictions on protests of more than 50 people. The bill imposes fines of $125,000 a day on student unions that defy its provisions, and student leaders shown to support unplanned protests can be fined up to a maximum of $5,000.
Note: For lots more on this important, yet underreported news, do a search on "Montreal protests."
Christine Lagarde, scourge of tax evaders, pays no tax
May 29, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Christine Lagarde, the IMF boss who caused international outrage after she suggested ... that beleaguered Greeks might do well to pay their taxes, pays no taxes, it has emerged. As an official of an international institution, her salary of $467,940 (£298,675) a year plus $83,760 additional allowance a year is not subject to any taxes. Lagarde, 56, receives a pay and benefits package worth more than American president Barack Obama earns from the United States government, and he pays taxes on it. According to Lagarde's contract she is also entitled to a pay rise on 1 July every year during her five-year contract. For many years critics have complained that IMF, World Bank, and United Nations employees are able to live large at international taxpayers' expense. During the 1944 economic conference at Bretton Woods, where the IMF was created, American and British politicians disagreed over salaries for the bureaucrats. British delegates, including the economist John Maynard Keynes, considered the American proposals for salaries to be "monstrous", but lost the argument.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
The Austerity Agenda
June 1, 2012, New York Times
Slashing spending while the economy is deeply depressed is a self-defeating strategy, because it just deepens the depression. So why is Britain doing exactly what it shouldn't? Unlike the governments of, say, Spain or California, the British government can borrow freely, at historically low interest rates. So why is that government sharply reducing investment and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs, rather than waiting until the economy is stronger? The great American economist Irving Fisher explained it all the way back in 1933, summarizing what he called "debt deflation" with the pithy slogan "the more the debtors pay, the more they owe." Recent events, above all the austerity death spiral in Europe, have dramatically illustrated the truth of Fisher's insight. So why have so many politicians insisted on pursuing austerity in [the] slump? And why won't they change course even as experience confirms the lessons of theory and history? When you push "austerians" ... they almost always retreat to assertions along the lines of: "But it's essential that we shrink the size of the state." These assertions often go along with claims that the economic crisis itself demonstrates the need to shrink government. So the austerity drive in Britain isn't really about debt and deficits at all; it's about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs. And this is, of course, exactly the same thing that has been happening in America.
Note: For lots more on the devastating impacts created by the corruption of governments and financial corporations, click here.
Bradley Manning, America's martyr for open government
May 29, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Today marks two years of imprisonment of Private Bradley Manning. The US government was going to use Manning as a warning to anyone else who might feel compelled to report on war crimes, or any other crimes they witness from within the system. Blow the whistle, goes the warning, and you will be buried alive by the state, shredded by the same secrecy machine a whistleblower would try to expose. Because of courage and creativity of activists, Bradley Manning has not been forgotten, even if that was the aim of authorities, and he never shall be forgotten. His case has been largely shunned by most of the mainstream media, especially in the US. This needs to change, because if he is indeed found guilty of being a whistleblower of such magnitude that it shook the entire secrecy machine of our world out of its comfort zone, his acts would need to be honored as an inspiration to change the way governments hide the reality of their actions from the people they are supposed to be serving and informing. Manning should not be convicted in secret: the media should be given access to the court filings; and the media should be pushing harder for the first amendment of the US constitution to be honored in the Manning case.
Note: For key reports on government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.
With Plan X, Pentagon seeks to spread U.S. military might to cyberspace
May 30, 2012, Washington Post
The Pentagon is turning to the private sector, universities and even computer-game companies as part of an ambitious effort to develop technologies to improve its cyberwarfare capabilities, launch effective attacks and withstand the likely retaliation. The previously unreported effort, which its authors have dubbed Plan X, marks a new phase in the nation's fledgling military operations in cyberspace. Plan X is a project of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a Pentagon division that focuses on experimental efforts and has a key role in harnessing computing power to help the military wage war more effectively. "If they can do it, it's a really big deal," said Herbert S. Lin, a cybersecurity expert with the National Research Council of the National Academies. "If they achieve it, they're talking about being able to dominate the digital battlefield just like they do the traditional battlefield." The five-year, $110 million research program will begin seeking proposals this summer. Among the goals will be the creation of an advanced map that details the entirety of cyberspace – a global domain that includes tens of billions of computers and other devices – and updates itself continuously. Such a map would help commanders identify targets and disable them using computer code delivered through the Internet or other means. Another goal is the creation of a robust operating system capable of launching attacks and surviving counterattacks.
Note: Isn't it ironic that the government continually seeks to restrict internet freedoms on the pretext of possible cyberattacks from abroad, while at the same time it carries out an aggressive cyberwar agenda of its own? For lots more reliable information on war manipulations, click here.
Q & A With Bulger Biographer
May 30, 2012, WBUR-FM (Boston's NPR news station)
Dick Lehr is the co-author of the book Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal. First published in 2001, the book has undergone a number of revisions as the story of Bulger and the FBI has unfolded. Its latest revision has been published this month. Lehr and his co-author Gerry O'Neill are former reporters for the Boston Globe, whose ... report in September 1988 on the tale of the two Bulger brothers first raised the issue in public of Bulger's "special relationship" to the FBI. Dick Lehr: [Whitey Bulger] goes down into history as one of the 20th century's most notorious gangsters. He did something no other gangster that we know of has ever done and that's compromise the FBI, bring it to its knees, not just in a single case, but as a way of life. He had sold everybody a story that would explain why someone might see him and [FBI agent John] Connolly. And that was that Connolly was their source, that it was one-way, and that Connolly was a corrupted agent, which was true, but it didn't tell the whole story. But it did become Whitey's cover. So if anybody ever saw him with Connolly and asked, 'Hey what are you doing with that FBI guy?' Whitey could say, 'Hey, that's my guy – he's my rat.' Throughout a lifetime he's strategically always been able to anticipate and plant seeds in the event something happens down the road and he's already a step ahead in terms of everyone, strategy and analysis.
Note: To go much deeper into this bizarre story of FBI strangeness, read the interview in the Boston Globe at this link. And for additional reliable information on intense corruption in intelligence agencies, click here.
Chevron-Ecuador Fight Comes to Canada
May 31, 2012, Bloomberg/Businessweek
A peripatetic, two-decade-old pollution lawsuit against Chevron has bounced from New York to Ecuador, back to New York, and now on to the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, Canada. There is no end in sight for the highly mobile litigation. The case began in federal court in New York in 1993, when lawyers representing residents of the rainforest in eastern Ecuador filed suit against Texaco, blaming the multinational oil company for contamination of the Amazon beginning in the late 1960s. Texaco fought for nine years to get the case dismissed based on the argument that it ought to have been brought in Ecuador. In 2001, near the end of Texaco's ultimately successful campaign to avoid a U.S. legal battle, Chevron acquired Texaco. Having promised the U.S. judiciary it would abide by the dictates of the Ecuadorian courts, Chevron discovered itself on a slippery slope toward legal disaster. In February 2011, a trial judge in Lago Agrio [Ecuador] entered an $18 billion verdict against Chevron, the largest environmental judgment ever. Chevron had declared that the Ecuadorian judicial proceedings were shot through with fraud and that it would not pay a dime to the plaintiffs or their team of American and Ecuadorian lawyers. Now the plaintiffs have launched a fresh suit in Toronto, asking a Canadian judge to enforce the Ecuadorian verdict against Chevron in Canada, where the company has a subsidiary and ample assets.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
French ban of Monsanto GM maize rejected by EU
May 22, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
France's attempt to ban the planting of a Monsanto strain of genetically modified maize was rejected by the EU's food safety body. In response to scientific evidence submitted by France [EFSA] backing its bid to ban the GM maize, the European Food Safety Authority ruled that "there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment" to support a ban. In 2008, France banned the the strain MON 810 following public protests against the GM maize, but this was overturned by a French court in 2011. However, in March the French government reinstated the ban, with the then agricultural minister Bruno Le Maire saying the move was "to protect the environment". The Monsanto-owned strain, marketed as YieldGard by the US company, is an insect-resistant strain of maize that was introduced in 1997. The ruling follows a renewed focus on GM food in the UK, with researchers making a plea to anti-GM activists not to rip up a test site of GM wheat.
Note: The risks of genetically-modified foods are well established, including many deaths of lab animals fed GM diets; click here to read an excellent summary. For more on corporate and government corruption, click here and here.
For Ultra-Orthodox in Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules
April 7, 2012, New York Times
The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has been a strong supporter of Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney. Mr. Hynes has won election six times as district attorney thanks in part to support from ultra-Orthodox rabbis. But in recent years, as allegations of child sexual abuse have shaken the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, victims' rights groups have expressed concern that he is not vigorously pursuing these cases because of his deep ties to the rabbis. Many of the rabbis consider sexual abuse accusations to be community matters best handled by rabbinical authorities, who often do not report their conclusions to the police. In 2009, as criticism of his record mounted, Mr. Hynes set up a program to reach out to ultra-Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse. The program is intended to "ensure safety in the community and to fully support those affected by abuse," his office said. In recent months, Mr. Hynes and his aides have said the program has contributed to an effective crackdown on child sexual abuse among ultra-Orthodox Jews, saying it had led to 95 arrests involving more than 120 victims. But Mr. Hynes has taken the highly unusual step of declining to publicize the names of defendants prosecuted under the program – even those convicted. At the same time, he continues to publicize allegations of child sexual abuse against defendants who are not ultra-Orthodox Jews. This policy of shielding defendants' names because of their religious status is not followed by the other four district attorneys in New York City, and has rarely, if ever, been adopted by prosecutors around the country.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable sources on sexual abuse scandals involving religious and government institutions, click here.
Utah environmental activist appealing conviction
May 10, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press
An environmental activist who disrupted an oil and gas auction for land near Utah's national parks did so in protest, bringing attention to parcels that shouldn't have been for sale, his lawyers argued Thursday. Tim DeChristopher's conviction in the case should be overturned because his move was a form of civil disobedience intended to protect the environment from an auction he believed to be illegal, Ron Yengich said in federal appeals court. Yengich said that many of the 113 parcels up for sale were suspended from future bidding by the federal government because of attention drawn by DeChristopher's actions. DeChristopher is asking the court to overturn his conviction. He is now serving two years in a federal prison in California after a conviction last summer in Salt Lake City. DeChristopher contended during trial that the Bush administration rushed the auction without properly reviewing the parcels. Many of the parcels up for auction were later suspended soon after by President Barack Obama's Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2009. His lawyers say he was singled out for prosecution because of his honesty, and that the government never took action against bidders at other auctions who failed to pay or bounced checks for their parcels. DeChristopher is considered a folk hero in the environmental community for sabotaging the auction. He says he plans to continue a life of social activism after prison.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
The Boy Who Played With Fusion
February 14, 2012, Popular Science
Taylor Wilson always dreamed of creating a star. Now he [has] become one. For the past three years, Taylor has dominated the international science fair, walking away with nine awards ... and more than $100,000 in prizes. At 14, [he was] the youngest individual on Earth to achieve nuclear fusion. [He attends] Davidson Academy ... a subsidized public school for the nation's smartest and most motivated students. When he began at Davidson, he found the two advocates he needed ... to build a fusion reactor. Atomic physicist Ronald Phaneuf ... introduced him to technician Bill Brinsmead. With Brinsmead and Phaneuf's help, Taylor stretched himself, applying knowledge from more than 20 technical fields. Shortly after his 14th birthday, Taylor and Brinsmead loaded deuterium fuel into the machine [Taylor had created], brought up the power, and confirmed the presence of neutrons. With that, Taylor became the 32nd individual on the planet to achieve a nuclear-fusion reaction. When I meet Taylor Wilson, he is 16 and busy. Taylor's reactor ... dominates the far corner of Phaneuf's lab. Peering through the small window into the reaction chamber, I can see the golf-ball-size grid of tungsten fingers that will cradle the plasma. Taylor nudges the power up to 50,000 volts, bringing the temperature of the plasma inside the core to an incomprehensible 580 million degrees. "There it is," Taylor says, his eyes locked on the machine. "The birth of a star."
Note: The full article about this amazing genius will boggle your mind. Could Taylor be one of the many indigo children talked about in the New York Times article available at this link?
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