News ArticlesExcerpts of Key News Articles in Major Media
As he justified sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year, President Barack Obama's description ... of the al Qaeda "cancer" in that country left out one key fact: U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country. A senior U.S. intelligence official told ABCNews.com the approximate estimate of 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan reflects the conclusion of American intelligence agencies and the Defense Department. The relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House as President Obama conducted his deliberations. With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year. At a Senate hearing, the former CIA Pakistan station chief, Bob Grenier, testified al Qaeda had already been defeated in Afghanistan. "So in terms of 'in Afghanistan,'" asked Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., "they have been disrupted and dismantled and defeated. They're not in Afghanistan, correct?" "That's true," replied Grenier.
Note: For many reports raising profound questions about the realities of the "war on terror", click here.
In the past two months, relations between the three main Christian churches have moved in more promising directions than perhaps during the past 50 years of uninspiring liberal dialogue. By opening a new chapter of theological engagement and concrete co-operation with Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, Pope Benedict XVI is changing the terms of debate about church reunification. In time, we might witness the end of the Great Schism between east and west and a union of the main episcopally-based churches. Indeed, when Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005, one of his first acts was to drop the title of patriarch of the west. Closer church ties will be greatly helped by concrete co-operation. Last week's Rome visit by the Archbishop of Canterbury has advanced Catholic-Anglican relations. Benedict emphasised the importance of Anglicanism in promoting the unity of all episcopally-based Christian churches. Significant was the fact both the pope and the archbishop spoke in favour of a different model of socio-economic development that does not rely exclusively on the state or the market. Rather, it accentuates mutualist principles of reciprocity and gift-exchange and the absolute sanctity of human and natural life which is relational, not individualist or collectivist. This shared social teaching is key in further developing concrete links and bonds of trust among Christians of different traditions. Moves towards church reunification are signs of a revivified Christian Europe, one which can use its shared faith to transform the continent and the whole world.
Note: In other inspiring religious news, a Protestant church in New York City held a "healing ceremony" with Native Americans to apologize for their decimation and dislocation centuries ago. For a USA Today story on this landmark news, click here.
Conspiracy theorists awaiting Wednesday night's premiere of "Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura" might take interest in a curious comment Ventura made in the Los Angeles Times this weekend. Ventura ... told the paper that MSNBC cancelled his show "Jesse Ventura's America" in 2003 because he did not support the Iraq War. He said the network "in essence" paid him to be silent. "It was awful. I was basically silenced. When I came out of office, I was the hottest commodity out there. I was being groomed for a five day-a-week TV show by them. Then, all of a sudden, weird phone calls started happening: 'Is it true Jesse doesn't support the war in Iraq? My contract said I couldn't do any other cable TV or any news shows, and they honored and paid it for the duration of it. So in essence I had my silence purchased. Why do you think you didn't hear from me for three years? I was under contract. They wouldn't even use me as a consultant!"
At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus. The previously unreported program, the military intelligence source said, is distinct from the CIA assassination program. "This is a parallel operation to the CIA," said the source. "They are two separate beasts." Blackwater's presence in Pakistan is "not really visible, and that's why nobody has cracked down on it," said the source. Blackwater's operations in Pakistan, he said, are not done through State Department contracts or publicly identified Defense contracts. "It's Blackwater via JSOC, and it's a classified no-bid [contract] approved on a rolling basis. Some of these strikes are attributed to [the CIA], but in reality it's JSOC. So when you see some of these hits, especially the ones with high civilian casualties, those are almost always JSOC strikes."
Note: Don't miss this key report in it's entirety. Why haven't other major media outlets mentioned the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) drone operations in Pakistan, running parallel to the CIA's?
If the idea of turning consumers into true cyborgs sounds creepy, don't tell Intel researchers. Intel's Pittsburgh lab aims to develop brain implants that can control all sorts of gadgets directly via brain waves by 2020. The scientists anticipate that consumers will adapt quickly to the idea, and indeed crave the freedom of not requiring a keyboard, mouse, or remote control for surfing the Web or changing channels. They also predict that people will tire of multi-touch devices such as ... iPhones. Turning brain waves into real-world tech action still requires some heavy decoding of brain activity. The Intel team has already made use of MRI brain scans to match brain patterns with similar thoughts across many test subjects. Plenty of other researchers have also tinkered in this area. Toyota recently demoed a wheelchair controlled with brainwaves, and University of Utah researchers have created a wireless brain transmitter that allows monkeys to control robotic arms. There are still more implications to creating a seamless brain interface, besides having more cyborgs running around. If scientists can translate brain waves into specific actions, there's no reason they could not create a virtual world with a full spectrum of activity tied to those brain waves. That's right -- we're seeing Matrix creep.
Patients who lack health insurance are more likely to die from car accidents and other traumatic injuries than people who belong to a health plan -- even though emergency rooms are required to care for all comers regardless of ability to pay. An analysis of 687,091 patients who visited trauma centers nationwide from 2002 to 2006 found that the odds of dying from injuries were almost twice as high for the uninsured than for patients with private insurance, researchers reported in Archives of Surgery. The research team from Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston used information from 1,154 U.S. hospitals that contribute to the National Trauma Data Bank. The risk of death was 80% higher for patients without any insurance, the report said. The researchers also did a separate analysis of 209,702 trauma patients ages 18 to 30 because they were less likely to have chronic health conditions that might complicate recovery. Among these younger patients, the risk of death was 89% higher for the uninsured, the study found.
Note: For many highly informative reports on important health issues, click here.
For the first time in 20 years, a government panel is telling women in their [forties] to stop getting routine mammograms and recommending that a host of other breast cancer screenings slow down. The United States Preventive Service Task Force announced ... that it recommends against annual mammograms for women age 40 to 49 because, they say, the benefits of testing do not outweigh the "harms" and risks. USPSTF still recommends doctors start screening all women over age 50, but with a mammogram once every two years instead of annually. The task force also ... said evidence was insufficient to recommend mammograms for women older than 74. The recommendations announced today, which contradict the American Cancer Society, have already pitted doctors, women, insurers and radiology groups in a fierce debate about who should get a mammogram and when. Many patient advocates wonder if money fueled the decision. However, Dr. Diana Petitti, vice chair of USPSTF, said the task force never looked at costs in their research or their recommendations. Instead, the task force reviewed a number of studies to compile the benefits of mammograms, such as how many cancers were detected and how many lives were saved, and the harms of mammograms, such as how many false positives popped up, how many unnecessary tests were done and how much extra radiation women were exposed to during the false positive testing.
Note: For a powerful article compiling important information and key quotes of doctors and researchers revealing the dangers of mammograms, click here.
When I meet [Edward] Moses [at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory], the 60-year-old scientist ... shows me a tiny pellet ... and swears it will provide an endless supply of safe, clean energy. The pellet Moses holds is a model, but the real version will contain a few milligrams of deuterium and tritium, isotopes of hydrogen that can be extracted from water. If you blast the pellet with a powerful laser, you can create a reaction like the one that takes place at the center of the sun. Harness that reaction, and you've created a star on earth, and with the heat from that star you can generate electricity without creating any pollution. Forget about nuke plants, coal, oil, or wind and solar. "This is the real solar power," says Moses. What Moses is talking about is controlled nuclear fusion. Instead of splitting the nucleus of an atom, you're trying to force a deuterium nucleus to merge, or fuse, with a tritium nucleus. When that happens, you produce helium and throw off energy. Scientists have been trying to produce energy with fusion for decades. So far, they keep failing. The joke is that fusion energy is only 40 years away, and will always be only 40 years away. Moses believes, however, that his lab, which is called the National Ignition Facility, or NIF, has cracked the problem. The big challenge fusion has faced is lack of power. NIF's laser ... can produce 60 times more energy than any other laser ever built. Right now it's still being tested. But next year Moses and his scientists will fire it up with a full load of deuterium-tritium fuel, and Moses feels confident it will achieve "ignition," meaning a controlled burn in which you get out more energy than you put in.
In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day. The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization. Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department's subpoena. The subpoena ... demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, [and] credit card numbers. Clair [called] the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which represented her at no cost. Making this investigation more mysterious is that Indymedia.us is an aggregation site, meaning articles that appear on it were published somewhere else first, and there's no hint about what sparked the criminal probe. Clair, the system administrator, says that no IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are recorded for Indymedia.us, and non-IP address logs are kept for a few weeks and then discarded. "This is the first time we've seen them try to get the IP address of everyone who visited a particular site," [EFF's Kevin] Bankston said. "That it was a news organization was an additional troubling fact that implicates First Amendment rights."
Note: For many reports from major media sources of growing government threats to civil liberties, click here.
If you believed all the talk from Chrysler about how our tax dollars would help finance its fast-track electric-vehicle future, you're in for a big disappointment. Chrysler has disbanded the engineering team that was trying to bring three electric models to market as a rush job. Chrysler [had] cited its devotion to electric vehicles as one of the key reasons why the Obama administration and Congress needed to give it $12.5 billion in bailout money. The change of heart on electric vehicles has come under Fiat. At a marathon presentation of Chrysler's five-year strategy, CEO Sergio Marchionne talked about just about everything on Chrysler's plate ... except its earlier electric-car plans. With the group's disbanding, Chrysler's electric plans will be melded into Fiat's. Marchionne is apparently no fan of electric power. He says electrics will only make up 1% or 2% of Fiat sales by 2014 and that he doesn't put a lot of faith in the technology until battery developments are pushed forward. As a result, Chrysler won't have an electric car on sale as soon as next year, such as the Dodge Circuit sports car concept it had unveiled. The change has come so fast that Chrysler's website has been still featuring pictures of the electric vehicles. As late as August, Chrysler took $70 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a test fleet of 220 hybrid pickup trucks and minivans, vehicles now scrapped in the sweeping turnaround plan for Chrysler.
Note: For reports from reliable sources on promising new developments in electric automobile technologies, click here.
Your body is probably home to a chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA. It’s a synthetic estrogen that United States factories now use in everything from plastics to epoxies — to the tune of six pounds per American per year. More than 92 percent of Americans have BPA in their urine, and scientists have linked it ... to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike. Now it turns out it’s in our food. Consumer Reports magazine tested an array of brand-name canned foods for a report in its December issue and found BPA in almost all of them. The magazine says that relatively high levels turned up, for example, in Progresso vegetable soup, Campbell’s condensed chicken noodle soup, and Del Monte Blue Lake cut green beans. The magazine also says it found BPA in the canned liquid version of Similac Advance infant formula ... and in canned Nestlé Juicy Juice. The BPA in the food probably came from an interior coating used in many cans. More than 200 other studies have shown links between low doses of BPA and adverse health effects, according to the Breast Cancer Fund, which is trying to ban the chemical from food and beverage containers. “The vast majority of independent scientists — those not working for industry — are concerned about early-life low-dose exposures to BPA,” said Janet Gray, a Vassar College professor who is science adviser to the Breast Cancer Fund.
Note: For more on BPA and other health issues, click here.
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.
At the height of the Cold War - in the era of nuclear missiles and submarines, amid the tangled cloak-and-dagger maneuverings of espionage and counterespionage - the [CIA] was also secretly doing something else. It was trying to learn to do magic. The CIA hired [magician John] Mulholland to explain techniques of sleight-of-hand and surreptitious signaling so that agents could use them in the field. His text, which was originally supposed to have been destroyed, has now been recovered, declassified, and reprinted as The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception. It deals mostly with basic stagecraft, minus the stage. Former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin writes in a [foreword] to the manual that “[a]s best we know,” the drink-spiking techniques “were never actually used.” The assurance would be more reassuring if the authors who had recovered the manual, H. Keith Melton and Robert Wallace, had not included their own historical overview of CIA trickery. In it, they explain that Mulholland’s writing was part of the secret MKULTRA program, whereby the CIA sought methods and materials “capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.” And part of MKULTRA did involve dosing unsuspecting subjects with LSD and other drugs. Techniques of stage magic ... were transferred to the realm of nonconsensual secrecy, to be used on people who were not asking to be fooled.
Note: For a powerful and reliable overview of the CIA's mind control programs, including MK-Ultra, click here.
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.
The man who used a digital camera to record the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport says he feels guilty he didn't try to help the Polish immigrant. Dziekanski, 40, died Oct. 14, 2007, following several shocks from a Taser four RCMP officers used to subdue him after he caused a disturbance. The incident might never have received much attention if Paul Pritchard had not decided to grab his digital camera and start recording the actions of the distraught Dziekanski before police arrived. The release of the 10-minute video, which contradicted the police version of the incident, led to widespread public outrage around the world and diplomatic tensions between Canada and Poland. The 10-minute Pritchard video [showed that] four RCMP officers rushed in and confronted Dziekanski, who backed up toward a counter. Dziekanski then faced the officers with what later turned out to be a stapler in one hand. Immediately, there was a loud crack from a Taser, followed by Dziekanski screaming and convulsing as he stumbled and fell to the floor. Another loud crack can be heard, as an officer appears to fire the Taser at Dziekanski again. Then, as the officers kneel on top of Dziekanski and handcuff him, he continues to scream and convulse on the floor. One officer is heard to say, "Hit him again. Hit him again," and there is another loud cracking sound. Evidence at the inquiry revealed the Taser was eventually fired five times at Dziekanski. After he was subdued, the RCMP left him handcuffed on the floor, where he died before medical help arrived.
Note: If these police would be so brutal in front of the public, imagine what they might have done when no one is looking. And note that the complete text of this article reveals that their brutal actions were covered up at high levels in the police department.
Swiss drugmaker Novartis said sales would grow faster than expected this year, even without a shot in the arm of up to $700 million from its H1N1 swine flu pandemic vaccine. Third-quarter net profit at Novartis ... nudged up 1 percent to $2.1 billion. This year is turning out to be better than initially feared for Novartis and other major pharmaceutical companies, thanks to hefty price increases and windfall sales arising from the H1N1 outbreak. Both Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, and Eli Lilly topped earnings forecasts this week. Roche reported a sharp jump in sales of its Tamiflu drug for flu last week and analysts expect GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza will also see strong sales in the third quarter. On the vaccine front, Glaxo, Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca are all expected to highlight an expected jump in fourth-quarter sales due to swine flu. The H1N1 flu vaccine is expected to contribute about $400-700 million of sales in the fourth quarter.
Note: Donald Rumsfeld personally made millions as a direct result of the avian flu scare a few year ago. For more on this, click here. For more on pharmaceutical corporation profiteering from swine flu vaccines, click here.
You would think that an unpiloted space plane built to rocket spaceward from Florida atop an Atlas booster, circle the planet for an extended time, then land on autopilot on a California runway would be big news. But for the U.S. Air Force X-37B project — seemingly, mum's the word. There is an air of vagueness regarding next year's Atlas Evolved Expendable launch of the unpiloted, reusable military space plane. This Boeing Phantom Works craft has been under development for years. Several agencies have been involved in the effort, NASA as well as the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) and various arms of the U.S. Air Force. The tight-lipped factor surrounding the space plane, its mission, and who is in charge is curious. Such a hush-hush factor seems to mimic in pattern that mystery communications spacecraft lofted last month aboard an Atlas 5 rocket, simply called PAN. Its assignment and what agency owns it remains undisclosed. "The problem with it [X37-B] is whether you see it as a weapons platform," said Theresa Hitchens, former head of the Center for Defense Information's Space Security Program, now Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) in Geneva, Switzerland. "It then becomes, if I am not mistaken, a Global Strike platform. There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about Global Strike as a concept," Hitchens [said].
Even as the economy continues to struggle, much of Wall Street is minting money — and looking forward again to hefty bonuses. Many Americans wonder how this can possibly be. How can some banks be prospering so soon after a financial collapse, even as legions of people worry about losing their jobs and their homes? It may come as a surprise that one of the most powerful forces driving the resurgence on Wall Street is not the banks but Washington. Many of the steps that policy makers took last year to stabilize the financial system — reducing interest rates to near zero, bolstering big banks with taxpayer money, guaranteeing billions of dollars of financial institutions’ debts — helped set the stage for this new era of Wall Street wealth. Titans like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are making fortunes in hot areas like trading stocks and bonds, rather than in the ho-hum business of lending people money. They also are profiting by taking risks that weaker rivals are unable or unwilling to shoulder — a benefit of less competition after the failure of some investment firms last year. So even as big banks fight efforts in Congress to subject their industry to greater regulation — and to impose some restrictions on executive pay — Wall Street has Washington to thank in part for its latest bonanza. “All of this is facilitated by the Federal Reserve and the government,” said Gary Richardson, a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. “But we have just shown them that they can have the most frightening things happen to them, and we will throw trillions of dollars to protect them. I have big concerns about that.”
Note: For lots more on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
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.
Major U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their employees about $140 billion this year -- a record high that shows compensation is rebounding despite regulatory scrutiny of Wall Street's pay culture. [Executives] at 23 top investment banks, hedge funds, asset managers and stock and commodities exchanges can expect to earn even more than they did the peak year of 2007, according to an analysis of securities filings for the first half of 2009 and revenue estimates through year-end by The Wall Street Journal. Total compensation and benefits at the publicly traded firms analyzed by the Journal are on track to increase 20% from last year's $117 billion -- and to top 2007's $130 billion payout. This year, employees at the companies will earn an estimated $143,400 on average, up almost $2,000 from 2007 levels. The growth in compensation reflects Wall Street firms' rapid return to precrisis revenue levels. Even as the economy is sluggish and unemployment approaches 10%, these firms have been boosted by a stronger stock market, thawing credit market, a resurgence in deal making and the continuing effects of various government aid programs. So far, regulators and lawmakers have focused on making sure pay practices discourage excessive risk-taking, leaving to companies the question of how much is too much.
Note: For lots more on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
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