News ArticlesExcerpts of Key News Articles in Major Media
Peer-to-peer lending most immediately brings to mind the largely feel-good act of extending small-time money to small businesses and individuals with quirky projects—a curiosity at best and no threat to the lending hegemony of big banks. What’s less appreciated is how successful peer-to-peer lending platforms such as Prosper and Lending Club have been in connecting wholesale numbers of individual lenders and borrowers. Renaud Laplanche is the founder and chief executive officer of Lending Club, which has been at least doubling its loan originations every year since it started in June 2007 at the onset of the financial crisis. He says he came up with the idea when he realized he was paying 18 percent on his credit-card debt while the issuing bank was paying out 2 percent to depositors. Lending Club mitigates risk—its default rate has remained in the low single digits throughout the financial crisis—by serving prime and superprime borrowers and turning down 90 percent of loan applications. Prosper, perhaps Lending Club’s main rival, has similarly posted nice risk-adjusted returns across its loan portfolio. Its management and board are studded with venture capitalists and Wall Street names. The value proposition to borrowers, obviously, is access not just to capital that the banks aren’t willing to lend them, but capital at a lower cost should they make the grade.
Cambridge University scientists say they have seen four-stranded DNA at work in human cells for the first time. The famous "molecule of life", which carries our genetic code, is more familiar to us as a double helix. But researchers tell the journal Nature Chemistry that the "quadruple helix" is also present in our cells, and in ways that might possibly relate to cancer. They suggest that control of the structures could provide novel ways to fight the disease. "The existence of these structures may be loaded when the cell has a certain genotype or a certain dysfunctional state," said Prof Shankar Balasubramanian from Cambridge's department of chemistry. Balasubramanian's group has been pursuing a four-stranded version of the molecule that scientists have produced in the test tube now for a number of years. The new research is said to be the first to firmly pinpoint the quadruple helix in human cells.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on promising new cancer treatments, any of which have been suppressed, click here.
While no phase-out date was set, just-completed negotiations by the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee ... have resulted in many important provisions to reduce and eliminate mercury release and exposure, including binding requirements for countries to phase down dental amalgam. "This is the beginning of the end of dental amalgam globally," said Michael T. Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project, a US-based NGO, and co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. "We applaud the leadership role the US played in jump-starting support for a phase-down ... along with the concrete steps of the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Japan took in phasing out dental amalgam." "Countries that have phased out amalgam recognize that mercury-free dental fillings are readily available, affordable and effective," said Charles G. Brown, [of the] World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, a global coalition of NGOs, dentists and consumers from over 25 countries. "This pushes the reset button on dentistry. Now the rest of the world can benefit from the experience of those countries."
Recently released FBI files about the Occupy movement do not reveal the kind of dirty tricks J. Edgar Hoover's bureau used against demonstrators in the Bay Area during the '60s, but they present some striking parallels to those dark days and have rightly raised concern among civil libertarians. The records ... show that over the decades the machinery of surveillance remains much the same, even as expanded intelligence powers and technological advances magnify potential abuse. As in the '60s, the FBI reports use sweeping language like "potential terrorist threat" to characterize nonviolent dissent. As then, the bureau exchanges information with a vast network of federal agencies, state and local police, campus cops and corporate security. And once again the FBI is invoking great secrecy. Such activity, Congress found in the '70s, contributed to massive intelligence abuses. The FBI released 99 heavily redacted pages and withheld 288 more in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a public-interest legal organization in Washington, D.C. Even while noting Occupy organizers do "not condone the use of violence," the records show that FBI field offices across the nation collected information on the premise [that] the protests posed a potential "terrorist" or "criminal" threat. The bureau shared information on Occupy with police on joint terrorism task forces, which have raised concerns about skirting local surveillance restrictions, and with fusion centers, regional intelligence hubs recently criticized by Congress as violating civil liberties.
Note: The writer of this article, Seth Rosenfeld, is the author of Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the games intelligence agencies play, click here.
It was a mind-blowing political tableau: a co-founder of liberal bulwark MoveOn sitting in her Berkeley living room, laughing, sharing homemade blueberry scones and occasionally agreeing with a national Tea Party figure. MoveOn's Joan Blades ... and Mark Meckler, ... have been talking online and over the phone for a few years now. Quietly, until now. "Transpartisanship" is the genteel word for what they're doing. Blades has been involved in similar types of projects for about a decade, but this is a fairly new school of political thought, which posits that people can come together to find some common ground without abandoning their core beliefs. The occasion was the latest installment of Living Room Conversations, Blades' latest national transpartisan project that she co-founded with former GOP operative Amanda Kathryn Roman [of] New Jersey. It involves one or two co-hosts pulling together an intimate gathering of folks who might believe they agree on little politically - until they sit down together to listen to one another's perspective. Civilly. Eventually, they find places they agree. That's what happened between Blades and Meckler, and it should give hope to a nation locked in scrums over guns and immigration and taxes. The day's assigned topic was "crony capitalism." It was conservative commentator Ralph Benko who introduced Meckler and Blades online. As Meckler recalled Benko saying, "If MoveOn and the Tea Party ever agree on anything, all politicians should watch out."
Note: What would happen if we focus less on what separates us and more on what brings us together?
The extent of the Queen and Prince Charles's secretive power of veto over new laws has been exposed after Downing Street lost its battle to keep information about its application secret. Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that overall at least 39 bills have been subject to the most senior royals' little-known power to consent to or block new laws. The internal Whitehall pamphlet was only released following a court order and shows ministers and civil servants are obliged to consult the Queen and Prince Charles [to a greater extent] than was previously understood. The new laws that were required to receive the seal of approval from the Queen or Prince Charles cover issues from higher education and paternity pay to identity cards and child maintenance. In one instance the Queen completely vetoed ... a private member's bill that sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament. "This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a ceremonial role," said Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Women are not allowed to drive and cannot yet vote in Saudi Arabia, but on [January 11] they were given a voice in an advisory council that debates the kingdom’s legislation. The Saudi king, Abdullah, issued a decree that for the first time gave women seats on the Shura council, an assembly whose members are appointed to discuss laws and other issues and advise the king, but that has no legislative power. The decree ... gave women 30 of the 150 seats on the council with all the duties of their male counterparts. The decision was met with a mixture of optimism that the country was inching forward with reforms and skepticism from activists who are pushing for greater freedom for women in the conservative kingdom, one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies. In a decree in 2011, King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections scheduled for 2015, the biggest change in a decade for women in the puritanical kingdom. He also promised to name women to the Shura council at that time. But Saudi women still cannot make ordinary decisions, like marrying or traveling abroad, without written permission from a legal male guardian, “effectively treating her as a minor all her life,” [a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia, Manal al-Sharif,] wrote in a separate statement on the Web site of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. Women also continued to be arrested for driving. In one case in 2011, a woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for violating the ban. The king later revoked the sentence.
Note: Why is there so little national or international pressure on Saudi Arabia to promote gender equality, or democracy for that matter? Could it be that their huge wealth buys sways the political will of nations around the world? How sad.
If you've ever suspected politics is increasingly being run in the interests of big business, ... Jeffrey Sachs, a highly respected economist from Columbia University, agrees with you - at least in respect of the United States. In his book, The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity, he says the US economy is caught in a feedback loop. ''Corporate wealth translates into political power through campaign financing, corporate lobbying and the revolving door of jobs between government and industry; and political power translates into further wealth through tax cuts, deregulation and sweetheart contracts between government and industry. Wealth begets power, and power begets wealth,'' he says. Sachs says four key sectors of US business exemplify this feedback loop and the takeover of political power in America by the ''corporatocracy''. First is the well-known military-industrial complex. Second is the Wall Street-Washington complex, which has steered the financial system towards control by a few politically powerful Wall Street firms, notably Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and a handful of other financial firms. Third is the Big Oil-transport-military complex, which has put the US on the trajectory of heavy oil-imports dependence and a deepening military trap in the Middle East, he says. Fourth is the healthcare industry, America's largest industry, absorbing no less than 17 per cent of US gross domestic product.
The death of a woman popularly named Damini – “lightning” in Hindi – has provoked thousands to take to India’s streets, furious at endemic and unchecked violence against women. Some have been met with police batons, tear gas and water cannon. But, in the West, Damini’s death has triggered a different response: a sense that this is an Indian-specific problem. “The crime has highlighted the prevalence of sex attacks in India,” says the Daily Telegraph; “India tries to move beyond its rape culture,” says Reuters. It’s comforting to think that this is someone else’s problem. It is an assumption that is as wrong as it is dangerous. Rape and sexual violence against women are endemic everywhere. Shocked by what happened in India? Take a look at France. In 1999, two then-teenagers – named only as Nina and Stephanie – were raped almost every day for six months. Young men would queue up to rape them, patiently waiting for their friends to finish in secluded basements. After a three-week trial this year, 10 of the 14 accused left the courtroom as free men; the other four were granted lenient sentences of one year at most. Shocked? According to the [UK] Government’s Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls, 80,000 women are raped a year, and 400,000 women are sexually assaulted [in the UK]. It is a pandemic of violence against women that – given its scale – is not discussed nearly enough.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on sexual abuse, click here.
Marc Mondavi is standing in the middle of his vineyard, talking to two copper rods. "Find water," he tells them as he walks slowly down a row of vines holding the rods pointed in front of him. As if possessed, the rods start moving until they cross over one another. "Here," he says. "Here's where the water is." Yeah, right. Isn't the whole ... thing a little undignified for a descendant of California wine royalty - not to mention the vice president of Charles Krug Winery? Try telling that to grape growers in Northern California, who repeatedly call on Mondavi to seek out water for their industrial-size wells. "I don't know how he does it, and I'm not going to learn," said John Franzia, whose Bronco Wine Co. in Ceres (Stanislaus County) grows 40,000 acres of grapes. "But I'm a believer because I have water." Franzia has 300 wells on his various properties, and Mondavi told him where to drill a number of them. Rombauer Vineyards, maker of a famous Chardonnay, uses him. Patriarch Koerner Rombauer even had rods custom-created for Mondavi. When Carmen Policy, former president and CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, bought property in Yountville contingent on finding water, Mondavi was called in. He found a gusher. He's a bona fide water witch - someone who can find groundwater without the use of science. It's also known as water dowsing, divining or doodlebugging. Oftentimes dowsers use forked willow, peach or witch hazel branches as divining rods. It is speculated that there are thousands of dowsers operating in the United States.
Note: For a rich collection of fascinating news articles which question the nature of reality, click here.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation used counterterrorism agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning, according to newly disclosed agency records. The F.B.I. records show that as early as September 2011, an agent from a counterterrorism task force in New York notified officials of two landmarks in Lower Manhattan — Federal Hall and the Museum of American Finance — “that their building was identified as a point of interest for the Occupy Wall Street.” In the following months, F.B.I. personnel around the country were routinely involved in exchanging information about the movement with businesses, local law-enforcement agencies and universities. An October 2011 memo from the bureau’s Jacksonville, Fla., field office was titled Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorist. The memo said agents discussed “past and upcoming meetings” of the movement, and its spread. It said agents should contact Occupy Wall Street activists to ascertain whether people who attended their events had “violent tendencies.” Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the F.B.I. has come under criticism for deploying counterterrorism agents to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence on organizations active in environmental, animal-cruelty and poverty issues. The records were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a civil-rights organization in Washington, through a Freedom of Information request to the F.B.I.
Note: For analysis of these amazing documents revealing the use of joint government and corporate counterterrorism structures against peaceful protestors of financial corruption, click here and here. For a Democracy Now! video segment on this, click here.
Jeffrey Wright is well known around his high school in Louisville, Ky., for his antics as a physics teacher. But it is a simple lecture — one without props or fireballs — that leaves the greatest impression on his students each year. The talk is about Mr. Wright’s son and the meaning of life, love and family. Each year, Mr. Wright gives a lecture on his experiences as a parent of a child with special needs. His son, Adam, now 12, has a rare disorder called Joubert syndrome, in which the part of the brain related to balance and movement fails to develop properly. Visually impaired and unable to control his movements, Adam breathes rapidly and doesn’t speak. Mr. Wright ... recalls the day Adam was born, and the sadness he felt when he learned of his condition. “The whole thing about where the universe came from? I didn’t care. I started asking myself, what was the point of it?” All that changed one day when Mr. Wright ... realized that his son could see and play — that the little boy had an inner life. He and his wife, Nancy, began teaching Adam simple sign language. One day, his son signed “I love you.” “There is something a lot greater than energy. There’s something a lot greater than entropy. What’s the greatest thing?” “Love,” his students whisper. “That’s what makes the ‘why’ we exist,” Mr. Wright tells the spellbound students.
Note: Watch this beautiful, 12-minute video on Mr. Wright's Law of Love. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Thousands of criminal cases at the state and local level may have relied on exaggerated testimony or false forensic evidence to convict defendants of murder, rape and other felonies. The forensic experts in these cases were trained by the same elite FBI team whose members gave misleading court testimony about hair matches and later taught the local examiners to follow the same suspect practices, according to interviews and documents. In July, the Justice Department announced a nationwide review of all cases handled by the FBI Laboratory's hair and fibers unit before 2000 — at least 21,000 cases — to determine whether improper lab reports or testimony might have contributed to wrongful convictions. But about three dozen FBI agents trained 600 to 1,000 state and local examiners to apply the same standards that have proved problematic. None of the local cases is included in the federal review. As a result, legal experts say, although the federal inquiry is laudable, the number of flawed cases at the state and local levels could be even higher, and those are going uncorrected. The FBI review was prompted by a series of articles in The Washington Post about errors at the bureau's renowned crime lab involving microscopic hair comparisons. The articles highlighted the cases of two District of Columbia men who each spent more than 20 years in prison based on false hair matches by FBI experts. Since The Post's articles, the men have been declared innocent by D.C. Superior Court judges.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
Some rich countries are more unequal than others - and the United States more so than most. America has a higher degree of income inequality than almost any other developed country. Only three of the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development rank higher - Chile, Mexico and Turkey. So why is the U.S. so much more unequal than its peers? The U.S. Congressional Research Service cited several potential reasons in a report earlier this year. One is that most other rich countries spend a bigger share of their national output on social programs, which tend to lessen income inequality. In Germany, public social spending accounted for 27.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, compared with 19.2 percent in the United States. A second factor is tax systems. A 2012 study by economists at the OECD found that, in general, the more a country spends on social programs, and the more progressive its tax-and-transfer system is, the more it can reduce income inequality. The U.S. is less effective at reducing inequality through taxes and benefits than the OECD average. Attitudes toward the poor may make a difference, some researchers say. A 2008 OECD study found that respondents in the United States and Korea were far more likely to say poor people were poor because they are lazy than did respondents in Nordic and Continental European countries. Recent studies ... have shown that Americans are now less likely to move into a class above their parents than are people in other rich countries.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.
Numerous commentators have lamented the vastly different reactions in the US to the heinous shooting of children in Newtown, Connecticut ... compared to the continuous killing of (far more) children and innocent adults by the US government in Pakistan and Yemen, among other places. It is well worth asking what accounts for this radically different reaction to the killing of children and other innocents. There are ... two key issues highlighted by the intense grief for the Newtown victims compared to the utter indifference to the victims of Obama's militarism. The first is that it underscores how potent and effective the last decade's anti-Muslim dehumanization campaign has been. Every war - particularly protracted ones like the "War on Terror" - demands sustained dehumanization campaigns against the targets of the violence. Few populations will tolerate continuous killings if they have to confront the humanity of those who are being killed. That's what dehumanization is: their humanity is disappeared so that we don't have to face it. [The] other issue highlighted by this disparate reaction: the question of agency and culpability. It's easy to express rage over the Newtown shooting because so few of us bear any responsibility for it. Exactly the opposite is true for the violence that continuously kills children and other innocent people in the Muslim world. US citizens pay for it, enable it, and now under Obama, most at the very least acquiesce to it if not support it. It's always much more difficult to acknowledge the deaths that we play a role in causing than it is to protest those to which we believe we have no connection.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on war crimes committed in the US wars of aggression in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, click here. For a key article raising serious questions about the official story of the Newtown shooting, click here.
Syracuse University art professor Thomas Gokey earned his Master of Fine Arts degree five years ago, but remains chained to his alma mater by $49,983 of debt. Soon after he graduated, the grim prospect of indefinite payments inspired its own art piece. Gokey put his debt up for sale in reconstituted squares of shredded money from the Federal Reserve. This year, together with the activist group Strike Debt, he helped organize a bold "People's Bailout" called the Rolling Jubilee, which has raised over $465,000. Bringing that money to the marketplace where collections companies buy and sell debt for pennies on the dollar, Strike Debt intends to purchase about $9 million of Americans' medical and educational debt—and then cancel it. Strike Debt, which grew out of Occupy Wall Street, wants to foment conversation about the debt we rack up in pursuit of basic needs, and the industries that profit from that debt. Gokey is currently on a year-long unpaid leave from teaching to help organize the Rolling Jubilee and upcoming Strike Debt projects. Thomas Gokey: Since I'm an educator, I'm thinking about the ways in which my students and I seem to be getting taken advantage of. We look at how much it's costing each one of my students to take one of my classes, and how much I'm getting paid to teach the class. And we look at each other and think, why don't we just go hold our classes at the public library? Somebody's obviously making money off both of us, so can't we cut out that middleman and focus on education?
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.
CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European court of human rights said in a historic judgment released on [December 13]. In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organisations. Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA "rendition team" at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan. It is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture. "The grand chamber of the European court of human rights unanimously found that Mr el-Masri was subjected to forced disappearance, unlawful detention, extraordinary rendition outside any judicial process, and inhuman and degrading treatment," said James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative. He described the judgment as "an authoritative condemnation of some of the most objectionable tactics employed in the post-9/11 war on terror". Jamil Dakwar, of the American Civil Liberties Union, described the ruling as "a huge victory for justice and the rule of law". The Strasbourg court said it found Masri's account of what happened to him "to be established beyond reasonable doubt".
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on illegal acts by US intelligence agencies, click here.
The Senate intelligence committee approved a long-awaited report ... concluding that harsh interrogation measures used by the CIA did not produce significant intelligence breakthroughs. The 6,000-page document ... is the most detailed independent examination to date of the agency’s efforts to “break” dozens of detainees through physical and psychological duress. Officials familiar with the report said it makes a detailed case that subjecting prisoners to “enhanced” interrogation techniques did not help the CIA find Osama bin Laden and often [was] counterproductive in the broader campaign against al-Qaeda. It could be months, if not years, before the public gets even a partial glimpse of the report or its 20 findings and conclusions. When that is completed, the committee will need to vote again on whether to release even a portion of the report, a move likely to face opposition from the CIA, which has fought to keep details of the interrogation program classified. Earlier this year, the Justice Department closed investigations of alleged abuses, eliminating the prospect that CIA operatives who had gone beyond the approved methods would face criminal charges. Civil liberties groups praised the report.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on illegal activities of intelligence agencies, click here.
To land a high-profile ambassadorship, it helps to have raised a ton of money for a successful presidential candidate and know how to throw a good party. That’s one reason why President Obama is considering Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour as the next U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James’s in the U.K. Wintour raised more than $500,000 for Obama and inspired the “Runway to Win” fashion line that brought in upwards of $40 million for his campaign. But that’s just the price of admission. The funds embassies receive from the U.S. Department of State don’t begin to cover the high costs of the frequent parties and dinners ambassadors are expected to host. Some wind up paying more than $1 million a year out of their own pockets, according to one of the president’s top donors who requested anonymity. This is why the high-profile postings to places like France and Italy typically go to wealthy donors, rather than career diplomats. The current ambassador to the U.K., Louis Susman, a former Chicago investment banker, holds three to four social events a week, says an embassy spokeswoman, who declined to give a cost estimate for these soirees. In exchange, appointees get perks—beginning with the sought-after title of “ambassador.” In some Western European countries, they live in sprawling estates such as London’s Winfield House. Its 12-and-a-half acres of private gardens are exceeded only by those of Buckingham Palace. The ambassador to Italy can avail himself of a three-story, 5,000-bottle wine cellar at the Villa Taverna in Rome.
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Imagine that you have a Top Secret clearance and are privy to some of our country’s most sensitive national security information. In that capacity, you discover that some of the highest elected and appointed political leaders in the land are engaged in espionage and treason, accepting bribes and selling weapons and information (including nuclear weapons secrets) to foreign powers, including our enemies. Moreover, you learn that some of your co-workers are in league with these conspirators, covering up the evidence trail and misdirecting those tasked with preventing such security breaches. In her book Classified Woman: A Memoir, Edmonds recounts the incredible story of her efforts, for more than a decade, to warn her adopted country of imminent perils, only to be slapped down, harassed, smeared, and threatened. To prevent her explosive testimony from seeing the light of day, President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the rarely used (until recently) “state secrets privilege” to gag not only Edmonds, but also committees of Congress that were investigating her case, as well as the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI’s own Office of Professional Review. The preposterousness of the government’s position is palpable. This is an effort not to protect legitimate state secrets, but to protect criminality that has prospered in secrecy for far too long. Sibel Edmonds is decidedly non-partisan in her scorn; she shows equal disdain for Republicans and Democrats who sell out their country and betray their oaths of office. She names names.
Note: For other major media articles showing how Ms. Edmonds has been targeted and suffered for courageously speaking her truth, click here. This is the first major website to publish a review of this most amazing book by a true hero. Though we don't support all of the objectives of the John Birch Society, which publishes this website, we strongly support any efforts to reveal the truth through people like Sibel Edmonds. The book has a very rare five-star rating on Amazon.com. To get a copy, click here.
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