News ArticlesExcerpts of Key News Articles in Major Media
In a case that could have far-reaching implications for medical research and health care based on genetics, groups representing thousands of doctors, scientists and patients went to court ... to argue that no one should be able to patent human genes, a question that has long been controversial in scientific circles. The case involves a Utah company, Myriad Genetics, and the University of Utah Research Foundation, which in 1994 isolated the DNA sequence for the BRCA1 and later the BRCA2 genes, mutations of which can greatly increase a woman's chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad sells a test for the genes. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation ... argued before federal district court Judge Robert Sweet that patents on genes are unconstitutional. The U.S. Patent Office allows genes to be patented as soon as someone isolates the DNA by removing it from the cell, says ACLU attorney Sandra Park. "We're arguing that isolating it does not make it patentable. It's a natural phenomenon, and the Supreme Court has always said natural phenomena are not patentable."
Note: For many key investigations from major media sources into corporate and governmental threats against civil liberties, click here.
President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget blueprint calls for an increase in funding of more than 13 percent for the agency that oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, a greater percentage increase than for any other government agency. The $11.2 billion request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) represents a 13.4 percent increase for the agency from the previous fiscal year. Most agencies across the rest of the government saw either no increase in the spending plan announced this week or a single-digit percentage increase. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who has actively followed negotiations over a new nuclear treaty with Russia, said the increase in the budget was "a definite improvement over previous years." Other observers already see the new budget as a boon for arms-control advocates.
Note: So the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama, is increasing the budget for nuclear weapons more than any other agency. Kind of ironic, isn't it? For the real reasons behind this, read what one of the most highly decorated US generals ever had to say about the real forces behind war at this link.
The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists. After this week’s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all. Wednesday’s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials. We’re talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system -- apart from the matter of AIG’s bailout -- deserves further congressional scrutiny. The New York Fed is in the hot seat for its decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was head of the New York Fed at the time of the AIG moves. The hearing revealed some of the inner workings of the New York Fed and the outsized role it plays in banking. This insight is especially valuable given that the New York Fed is a quasi-governmental institution that isn’t subject to citizen intrusions such as freedom of information requests, unlike the Federal Reserve. This impenetrability comes in handy since the bank is the preferred vehicle for many of the Fed’s bailout programs. It’s as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the secret deliberations by the highest levels of government and private elites in their attempts to bail out the biggest financial corporations, click here.
U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people. The operations, approved by President Obama, involve several dozen troops from the U.S. military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose main mission is tracking and killing [targeted persons]. Obama approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be. He has since been added to a shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the JSOC. The combined efforts have resulted in more than two dozen ground raids and airstrikes. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad. The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called "High Value Targets" and "High Value Individuals," whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list [also] included three U.S. citizens.
Note: For many reports from reliable sources on the growing governmental threats to civil liberties, click here.
Although the FBI has acknowledged it improperly obtained thousands of Americans' phone records for years, the Obama administration continues to assert that the bureau can obtain them without any formal legal process or court oversight. In further support of [this assertion] the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel backed the FBI in a written opinion issued this month. The opinion by the OLC — the section that wrote the memos that justified enhanced interrogation techniques during the last administration — appears to be yet another sign that the Obama administration can be just as assertive as Bush's in claiming sweeping and controversial anti-terrorism powers. "The FBI says that this kind of activity is in the past," said Michael German, a former FBI agent who's now the American Civil Liberties Union's policy counsel. "But if they're saying that they have a continuing legal authority that means it's not in the past." In another similarity to Bush era-legal decisions to keep legal theories under wraps, Obama's Justice Department refused to release to McClatchy the OLC opinion, despite the administration's vow to be more open than its predecessors.
Note: For many reports from reliable sources on the growing governmental threats to civil liberties, click here.
Five robed radicals on the Supreme Court have pushed money-infused politics in the wrong direction by overturning a century's worth of campaign spending laws. Voters should prepare for the worst: cash-drenched elections presided over by free-spending corporations. The 5-to-4 ... majority's thinking is based on absolutist vision of free speech and belief that corporations and unions have the same constitutional protections as individuals when it comes to basic rights. This viewpoint is "a rejection of the common sense of the American people," said Justice John Paul Stevens, who read his angry dissent out loud. Corporations "are not themselves members of 'We the People,' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established." It's hard to overstate the legal sweep of the decision. It rejects two recent court rulings, one that barred corporations and unions from dipping into their treasuries to pay for candidate ads and the second that restricted these so-called independent expenditure efforts. The five-member majority didn't just blaze new ground; it torched the court's own past record. In practical terms, the decision amounts to a political earthquake. Big-money issues such as health care, cap-and-trade pollution controls and Wall Street regulations will drive attack ads against politicians who refuse to do the bidding of particular special interests.
Note: To join the over 40,000 who have already signed a petition to stop corporations from have legal personhood status in elections, click here. For more deep insights into the flaws in the US electoral system, click here. To read about the wonderful defender of elections free from corporate influence, Granny D, who recently passed away at the age of 100, click here.
The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company ... will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election. “We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you — whichever one you want,’ ”a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, ... former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission. It is expected to unleash a torrent of attack advertisements from outside groups aiming to sway voters, without any candidate having to take the criticism for dirty campaigning. The biggest beneficiaries might be well-placed incumbents whose favor companies and interests groups are eager to court. It could also have a big impact on state and local governments, where a few million dollars can have more influence on elections. Fred Wertheimer, a longtime advocate of campaign finance laws, said the decision “wipes out a hundred years of history” during which American laws have sought to tamp down corporate power to influence elections.
Note: If you want to voice your opinion about this recent Supreme Court ruling, click here. For many key articles from reliable sources on serious flaws in the electoral process in the US, click here.
With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding. Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy. As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission radically reverses well-established law and erodes a wall that has stood for a century between corporations and electoral politics. The founders of this nation warned about the dangers of corporate influence. The real solution lies in getting the court’s ruling overturned.
Note: The crux of the argument used by the Supreme Court is that under US law, corporations are treated as persons and therefore given Constitutional rights meant for people. Should we then give them the right to vote? For many key articles from reliable sources on serious flaws in the electoral process in the US, click here.
Simon Glik, a lawyer, was walking down Tremont Street in Boston when he saw three police officers struggling to extract a plastic bag from a teenager’s mouth. Thinking their force seemed excessive for a drug arrest, Glik pulled out his cellphone and began recording. Within minutes, Glik said, he was in handcuffs. The charge? Illegal electronic surveillance. Civil libertarians call [such arrests] a troubling misuse of the state’s wiretapping law to stifle the kind of street-level oversight that cellphone and video technology make possible. “The police apparently do not want witnesses to what they do in public,’’ said Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. With the advent of media-sharing websites like Facebook and YouTube, the practice of openly recording police activity has become commonplace. But in Massachusetts and other states, the arrests of street videographers, whether they use cellphones or other video technology, offers a dramatic illustration of the collision between new technology and policing practices. Police are not used to ceding power, and these tools are forcing them to cede power.
Note: For lots more on increasing government and corporate threats to civil liberties, click here.
A leading health expert says the swine flu scare was a "false pandemic" led by drugs companies that stood to make billions from vaccines. Wolfgang Wodarg, head of health at the Council of Europe, claims major [drug] firms organised a "campaign of panic" to put pressure on the World Health Organisation to declare a pandemic. He believes it is "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century" — and has called for an inquiry. Dr Wodarg said: "It's just a normal kind of flu. It does not cause a tenth of deaths caused by the classic seasonal flu. The great campaign of panic we have seen provided a golden opportunity for representatives from labs who knew they would hit the jackpot in the case of a pandemic being declared. We want to clarify everything that brought about this massive operation of disinformation. We want to know who made decisions, on the basis of what evidence, and precisely how the influence of the pharmaceutical industry came to bear on the decision-making." He added: "A group of people in the WHO is associated very closely with the pharmaceutical industry."
Note: For powerfully revealing reports of the corruption regarding swine flu and previous health scares, click here.
Where did humankind come from? If you’re going to ask Zecharia Sitchin, be ready for a “Planet of the Apes” scenario: spaceships and hieroglyphics, genetic mutations and mutinous space aliens in gold mines. It sounds like science fiction, but Mr. Sitchin is sure this is how it all went down hundreds of thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia. Humans were genetically engineered by extraterrestrials, he said, pointing to ancient texts to prove it. [He] has spent his life arguing that people evolved with a little genetic intervention from ancient astronauts who came to Earth and needed laborers to mine gold to bring back to Nibiru, a planet we have yet to recognize. Mr. Sitchin has been called silly before — by scientists, historians and archaeologists who dismiss his theories as pseudoscience and fault their underpinnings: his translations of ancient texts and his understanding of physics. And yet, he has a devoted following of readers. His 13 books, with names like Genesis Revisited and The Earth Chronicles, have sold millions of copies and been translated into 25 languages. Starting in childhood, he has studied ancient Hebrew, Akkadian and Sumerian, the language of the ancient Mesopotamians, who brought you geometry, astronomy, the chariot and the lunar calendar. And in the etchings of Sumerian pre-cuneiform script — the oldest example of writing — are stories of creation and the cosmos that most consider myth and allegory, but that Mr. Sitchin takes literally.
Mad about the bank bailouts? Had enough of huge bonuses and too-big-to-fail apologies? Here's one way to do something about it. Take your money out. That's right. Take your checking and savings account out of that big money-center financial institution and move it to a community bank or credit union. There's even a movement afoot to help consumers make the switch, called Move Your Money. The website offers search tools so consumers thinking about switching can type in their zip codes to find a credit union or a strong community bank nearby. Even in 2008, the latest numbers available, credit unions and community banks have seen an increase in depositors. Now "other people are taking up the call to move their money into a community bank," says Karen Tyson, senior vice president for communications at the Independent Community Bankers of America. "We can't help but be happy with that." Amber Taylor of Arlington, Va., is one of those who's actually switching. "I never thought about what bank I chose before," she says. "I don't know what huge difference this will make in the big world [but] it's one little thing that I discovered I could do."
An investigation by BBC's Newsnight has cast doubts on the key piece of evidence which convicted the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. Tests aimed at reproducing the blast appear to undermine the case's central forensic link, based on a tiny fragment identified as part of a bomb timer. The tests suggest the fragment, which linked the attack to Megrahi, would not have survived the mid-air explosion. Newsnight has ... exposed serious doubts about the forensics used to identify the fragment as being part of a trigger circuit board. The fragment was found three weeks after the attack. For months it remained unnoticed and unremarked, but eventually it was to shape the entire investigation. The fragment was embedded in a charred piece of clothing, which was marked with a label saying it was made in Malta. So the focus turned to Malta and the question of who had bought the clothes. A shopkeeper on the island identified Megrahi, but this came only years later after he saw him pictured in a magazine as a Lockerbie suspect. Newsnight has discovered that the fragment - crucial to the conviction - was never subjected to chemical analysis or swabbing to establish whether it had in fact been involved in any explosion.
Note: For a revealing documentary showing a major cover-up of the Lockerbie bombing, click here. For many reports from major media sources questioning the evidence presented in the prosecution of "terrorism" cases, click here.
Bush administration officials came up with all kinds of ridiculously offensive rationalizations for torturing prisoners. Itâ€™s not torture if you donâ€™t mean it to be. Itâ€™s not torture if you donâ€™t nearly kill the victim. Itâ€™s not torture if the president says itâ€™s not torture. It was deeply distressing to watch the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sink to that standard in April when it dismissed a civil case brought by four former GuantĂˇnamo detainees never charged with any offense. The court said former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the senior military officers charged in the complaint could not be held responsible for violating the plaintiffsâ€™ rights because at the time of their detention ... it was not â€śclearly establishedâ€ť that torture was illegal. The Supreme Court could have corrected that outlandish reading of the Constitution, legal precedent, and domestic and international statutes and treaties. Instead, last month, the justices abdicated their legal and moral duty and declined to review the case. The justices surely understood that their failure to accept the case would further undermine the rule of law. In effect, the Supreme Court has granted the government immunity for subjecting people in its custody to terrible mistreatment. It has deprived victims of a remedy and Americans of government accountability, while further damaging the countryâ€™s standing in the world.
Note: For many reliable reports on the torture used by governments pursuing the "war on terror", click here.
For most of the past 70 years, the U.S. economy has grown at a steady clip, generating perpetually higher incomes and wealth for American households. But since 2000, the story is starkly different. The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity. It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers. The decade began in a moment of triumphalism -- there was a current of thought among economists in 1999 that recessions were a thing of the past. By the end, there were two, bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable. There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well. Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 -- and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s. And the net worth of American households ... has also declined when adjusted for inflation, compared with sharp gains in every previous decade since data were initially collected in the 1950s.
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on the realities of the economic crisis, click here.
In 2009, the Justice Department began to release reports and top-secret memos detailing interrogation techniques ... used by CIA officers against suspected terror operatives. The list of brutal techniques, including holding prisoners in small boxes, staging mock executions, and water torture, is reminiscent of some of the worst human-rights abuses on record. In medieval Europe, torture was more than just a means of punishment. Many criminal trials of the era consisted of one or more 'ordeals,' painful tests designed to prove guilt or innocence through supernatural judgment. During waterboarding, a technique first used in the 14th century, torturers begin by pumping water directly into a victim's stomach or slowly flooding his throat with liquid. Used extensively during the Spanish Inquisition, the practice became less publicly acceptable during the Enlightenment, then experienced an underground resurgence in the 19th century. Since World War II, different forms of waterboarding have been employed by governments in Japan, Cambodia, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others. In addition to performing forced labor, prisoners at Nazi concentration camps became subjects in some of the cruelest medical experiments ever performed. They were often held at extreme altitudes and temperatures to help develop new survival strategies or exposed to deadly gases and diseases in order to test vaccines. Many of these tests, directed by the infamous Josef Mengele at Auschwitz, advanced Nazi ideology by establishing 'Jewish racial inferiority.'
Note: The above link leads to a revealing 12-part slide show on the history of torture. For more disturbing information on how Nazi torture techniques were eventually used by the CIA for mind control, click here.
As Northwest Flight 253 made its final approach to Detroit on Christmas, the actions of one man put at risk the lives of nearly 300 passengers on the jetliner -- and the quick thinking of another helped prevent disaster. Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch filmmaker, appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live". "First, it was just 'bang,'" he said. "And you're trying to look around, like where's this bang coming from." Immediately afterward, someone screamed "Fire!" Schuringa said he noticed a man on the left side of the aisle, sitting still while on fire. "And he was still holding it in his hands. And I had to, like, rip the bomb out of his hands." Schuringa said the man just stared at him, but did not let go of whatever he was holding onto. Schuringa described how he yanked the object from the man, stamped out the fire with his hands and tossed it. Through it all, the man appeared dazed. "He was staring into nothing," Schuringa said. Among the passengers on the Friday flight were Wisconsin native Richelle Keepman and her family. On "Larry King Live" she [remembered] one odd detail. Amid the commotion, a man about 10 seats in front of Keepman was capturing it all with a camcorder. "It was definitely a little out of the ordinary," she said. "I mean, I don't know why he was standing up and we were supposed to be seated and he was filming it."
Note: There are many other very strange things related to this flight reported in the media. For those interested in exploring more verifiable facts around this incident, click here.
H.R. 4173 [is] the financial-reform legislation passed earlier this month by the House of Representatives. The Senate has yet to pass its own reform plan. The baby of Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, the House bill is meant to address everything from too-big-to-fail banks to asleep-at-the-switch credit-ratings companies to the protection of consumers from greedy lenders. At 1,279 pages, the “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” is a real slog. While banks opposed the legislation, they should cheer for its passage by the full Congress in the New Year: There are huge giveaways insuring the government will again rescue banks and Wall Street if the need arises. For all its heft, the bill doesn’t once mention the words “too-big-to-fail,” the main issue confronting the financial system. Instead, it supports the biggest banks. It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for “no-more-bailouts” talk. The bill also allows the government, in a crisis, to back financial firms’ debts. Bondholders can sleep easy -- there are more bailouts to come.
Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports on the government bailout of Wall Street, click here.
The massive U.S. Senate healthcare reform measure passed ... with support from the multibillion drug industry, but makers of cheaper generic rivals are feeling left out in the cold. Generic drugmakers face several obstacles in the bill backed by Democrats that they worry will dampen a potential increase in use even as more people gain access to health insurance and prescription medicines. The hurdles include extensive protections against generic versions of pricey biotech medicines, an incentive for Medicare recipients to use more brand-name drugs, and a possible end to payments from brandname makers to delay the launch of copy-cat medicines. "The bill passed by the Senate unfortunately amounts to a treasure trove to brand drug companies," said Generic Pharmaceutical Association President Kathleen Jaeger. Bill Marth, chief executive of Teva's North American operations, said Democrats missed a chance to further boost [generics] use: "It's frustrating," he said. "Maybe some people have just lost sight of what the bill is supposed to do."
Note: For a powerful analysis by Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, of the corrupt relationship between the biggest pharmaceutical companies and the federal government, click here. Drug company lobbyists who contribute millions of dollars to the elections campaigns of Congress members have a huge influence which is often detrimental to public health.
A Michigan man who was aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 says he witnessed Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab trying to board the plane in Amsterdam without a passport. Kurt Haskell of Newport, Mich. ... talked exclusively with MLive.com and confirmed he was on the flight by sending a picture of his boarding pass. He and his wife, Lori, were returning from a safari in Uganda when they boarded the NWA flight on Friday. Haskell said he and his wife were sitting on the ground near their boarding gate in Amsterdam, which is when they saw Mutallab approach the gate with an unidentified man. While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. “The guy said, 'He's from Sudan and we do this all the time.'” Mutallab is Nigerian. Haskell believes the man may have been trying to garner sympathy for Mutallab's lack of documents by portraying him as a Sudanese refugee. The ticket agent referred Mutallab and his companion to her manager down the hall, and Haskell didn't see Mutallab again until after he allegedly tried to detonate an explosive on the plane. As Mutallab was being led out of the plane in handcuffs, Haskell said he realized that was the same man he saw trying to board the plane in Amsterdam. About an hour after landing, Haskell said he saw another man being taken into custody. But a spokeswoman from the FBI in Detroit said Mutallab was the only person taken into custody.
Note: For many other reports from reliable sources that raise profound questions about the official accounts of "terrorist incidents," click here.
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