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News Stories
Excerpts of Key News Stories in Major Media

Below are highly revealing excerpts of key news stories from the major media that suggest major cover-ups and corruption. Links are provided to the full stories on their media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These news stories are listed by date posted. You can explore the same list by order of importance or by date of news story. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

Note: This comprehensive list of news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.

Flu vaccine effectiveness study signals 'no protection' this year in Canada
2015-01-29, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
Posted: 2015-11-15 22:01:09

This year's flu vaccine offers little or no protection in Canada against becoming sick enough to require medical care, a study published Thursday suggests. "I would say overall it's signalling no protection," said lead author Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. The study, an interim estimate of this year's flu vaccine effectiveness, was published Thursday in Eurosurveillance, an online journal belonging to the European Centre for Disease Control. Skowronski said the message people should take from the study is that if they are at high risk of developing pneumonia or getting seriously ill if they contract influenza, they should take other steps to protect their health. An interesting finding of the study is that people who did not get a flu shot last year appeared to get more protection from the vaccine this year than people who got shots both years. There is an emerging school of thought that repeated vaccination in some circumstances may actually undermine the protectiveness of the vaccine. Earlier this month the U.S. Centers for Disease Control published interim vaccine effectiveness data for that country. The flu season south of the border has been very similar to the one in Canada — almost all caused by H3N2 — and their early findings suggested the vaccine lowered a recipient's risk of contracting the flu and getting sick enough to need medical care by 23 per cent. That's well below the 50 to 70 per cent effectiveness estimate that is often cited for flu vaccine.

Note: A National Institute of Health study found in 2007 that flu shots do not protect the elderly. More recent studies have shown that some flu shots actually increase the risk of infection. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.

The Steady Trickle-Up From the Poor to the Rich
2015-11-02, Newsweek
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:58:44

Much of the national debate about widening inequality ... ignores the upward redistributions going on every day, from the rest of us to the rich. These redistributions are hidden inside the market. The only way to stop them is to prevent big corporations and Wall Street banks from rigging the market. For example, Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than do the citizens of any other developed nation. This costs you and me an estimated $3.5 billion a year - a hidden upward redistribution of our incomes to Pfizer, Merck and other big proprietary drug companies. Likewise, the interest we pay on ... loans is higher than it would be if the big banks ... had to work harder to get our business. As recently as 2000, America’s five largest banks held 25 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Now they hold 44 percent — which gives them a lock on many such loans. The net result: another hidden upward redistribution. Why have food prices been rising faster than inflation, while crop prices are now at a six-year low? Because the giant corporations that process food have the power to raise prices. Result: a redistribution from average consumers to Big Agriculture. Why do you suppose health insurance is costing us more? Health insurers are hiking rates 20 to 40 percent next year, and their stock values are skyrocketing. Add it up - the extra money we’re paying for pharmaceuticals, Internet communications, home mortgages, student loans, airline tickets, food and health insurance - and you get a hefty portion of the average family’s budget.

Note: This essay was written by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.

This smart TV takes tracking to a new level
2015-11-10, Washington Post
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:56:48

When you watch your Smart TV, it could also be watching you. Vizio, a top television maker, automatically tracks the viewing habits of Smart TV owners and shares that information with advertisers in a way that could connect those preferences to what those customers do on their phones or other mobile devices. Vizio's "Smart Interactivity Program" is turned on by default for its 10 million Smart TV customers. The company analyzes snippets of what you watch, be it on Netflix or traditional television, and connects patterns in your viewing behavior with your Internet Protocol address - an online identifier that can be used to pinpoint every device connected from your home. That includes everything from your laptop and phone to your smart thermostat. That information is then shared with Vizio's partners. There are laws that limit how companies share information about video watching habits, including the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). However, Vizio says that those laws do not apply to its tracking service because the company associates IP addresses with the data rather than a person's name or other "personally identifiable information." Some U.S. courts have held that IP addresses do not constitute personally identifiable information. However, privacy regulators in the European Union disagree. And IP addresses are increasingly used by data brokers to paint detailed portraits of who people are.

Note: In 21st century America, TV watches you. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the disappearance of privacy.

Radiant 'Spotlight' illuminates how the Boston Globe covered church sex scandal
2015-11-05, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:54:20

"Spotlight" ... is the saga of how the Boston Globe won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for uncovering not only decades of sexual abuse by Catholic priests but also systematic maneuvers by the church's Boston archdiocese to shield the more than 70 perpetrators. The story "Spotlight" tells is significant twice over. First for its depiction of the uncovering of what proved to be an international scandal, and also for the way it quietly but potently illustrates society's need for old-fashioned investigative journalism, the kind of labor-intensive telling-truth-to-power work that's increasingly in jeopardy. As "Spotlight" opens in July 2001 ... a new man, the imperturbable Marty Baron, the rare Globe editor not to grow up in Boston, is about to take over the paper. In fact, practically the first thing Baron does is ... focus on the accusations of clergy sexual misconduct. The [news] team (all of whom are lapsed Catholics), as well as the staff in general, symbolized by dubious assistant managing editor Ben Bradlee Jr. are well aware of the enormity of what they're taking on. For one thing, 53% of the Globe's subscribers are Catholic and, for another, as someone says, "the Church thinks in terms of centuries." Because it has done its homework ... "Spotlight" is especially good at the dynamics of interviewing, on what happens when reporters say things like, "Do you want to be on the right side of this story when it breaks?" Honest enough to zing the Globe for neglecting this story for years before it took it on, "Spotlight" is both damning and inspiring.

Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team titled "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this sad subject. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.

'Everyone knew' about Jimmy Savile, former officer says
2013-10-17, BBC
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:52:03

A former police officer has spoken about some of his colleagues' attitude to Jimmy Savile in the 1960s - saying that everyone in the force knew "Jimmy liked them young". The ex-officer ... was with Leeds City Police in the 1960s. He used to patrol areas of the city where Savile was well known. Late one night, just before midnight, he noticed Jimmy Savile's Rolls Royce parked in a secluded spot on the edge of Roundhay Park. "As I went past I saw the interior lights were on," he said. "He was sat in the driver's seat and was talking to a young lady in the passenger seat. She looked ... perhaps 15 or 16. "I said, 'What's the matter, Jimmy - what are you doing up here?' "He said, 'Yeah, we're fine, aren't we?' And she smiled. Then he said, 'We're waiting for 12 o'clock, son.' "Why?" I asked. 'Because it's her birthday tomorrow, she's 16.' And he winked at me. "I asked the girl, 'Are you ok?' "She smiled - there was no impression she was being forced to be there. "Jimmy then said, 'Now get back on your bike before you lose your job.'" The former officer said today that the attitudes of the time were "different" and accepts that such actions today would be unthinkable. "Leeds City Police ... turned a blind eye to 15-year-olds but never considered that as paedophilia. The officer ... believes that attitude of the police towards Savile lasted for years afterwards, [and] that police may have informally talked to Savile about the age of his girlfriends in the 1960s. Jimmy Savile, a former TV presenter and radio DJ ... is believed to have abused hundreds.

Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team titled "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this sad subject. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.

The Girls Next Door
2004-01-25, New York Times
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:48:23

The United States has become a major importer of sex slaves. Between 18,000 and 20,000 people are trafficked annually into the United States. How many of these are victims of sex traffickers? Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves, America's largest anti-slavery organization, says ... at least 10,000 a year. John Miller, the State Department's director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, conceded: "That figure could be low. What we know is that the number is huge." Bales estimates that there are 30,000 to 50,000 sex slaves in captivity in the United States at any given time. Sex-trafficking victims widely believe that if they talk, they or someone they love will be killed. And their fear is not unfounded. The trafficking rings reach back into the girls' hometowns, and local law enforcement is often complicit in the sex trade. In a series of excruciating conversations, Andrea explained to me how the trafficking ring that kept her worked. Girls were shuttled in open cars between the Plainfield, N.J., stash house and other locations in northern New Jersey. Andrea named trading hubs at highway rest stops in Deming, N.M.; Kingman, Ariz.; Boulder City, Nev.; and Glendale, Calif. The operating assumption among American police departments is that women who sell their bodies do so by choice, and undocumented foreign women who sell their bodies are not only prostitutes (that is, voluntary sex workers) but also trespassers on U.S. soil.

Note: The vast majority of child sex slaves in the US are American kids. International sex trafficking is a $99 billion industry. Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team titled "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this sad subject.

Bush-Era NSA Whistleblower Makes Most Explosive Allegations Yet About Extent of Gov’t Surveillance — and You Won’t Believe Who He Says They Spied On
2013-06-20, The Blaze
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:45:19

Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst and Bush-era NSA whistleblower, claimed Wednesday that the intelligence community has ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats. “They went after – and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things – they went after high-ranking military officers. They went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees," [said] Tice. “But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House.” Then Tice dropped the bombshell about Obama. "In summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois ... that’s the president of the United States now.” FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and Tice agreed that such wide-ranging surveillance of officials could provide the intelligence agencies with unthinkable power to blackmail their opponents. “I was worried that the intelligence community now has sway over what is going on,” Tice said. Tice first blew the whistle on ... domestic spying across multiple agencies in 2005.

Note: Listen to Tice's shocking revelations in this interview. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and throughout intelligence agencies.

Reagan Advisers Ran 'Secret' Government
1987-07-05, Miami Herald
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:42:37

Some of President Reagan’s top advisers have operated a virtual parallel government outside the traditional Cabinet departments and agencies almost from the day Reagan took office, congressional investigators and administration officials have concluded. Investigators believe that the advisers’ activities extended well beyond the secret arms sales to Iran and aid to the contras now under investigation. Lt. Col. Oliver North, for example, helped draw up a controversial plan to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad. The advisers conducted their activities through secret contacts throughout the government with persons who acted at their direction but did not officially report to them. The activities of those contacts were coordinated by the National Security Council, the officials and investigators said. There appears to have been no formal directive for the advisers’ activities, which knowledgeable sources described as a parallel government. In a secret assessment of the activities, the lead counsel for the Senate Iran-contra committee called it a “secret government-within-a-government.” The arrangement permitted Reagan administration officials to claim that they were not involved in controversial or illegal activities, the officials said. “It was the ultimate plausible deniability,” said a well-briefed official who has served the Reagan administration since 1982 and who often collaborated on covert assistance to the Nicaraguan contras.

Note: See a downloaded copy of this article and the amazing full text. A recent Boston Globe article suggests that US national security policy continues to be made by concealed, unaccountable institutions within a corrupt government.

Trooper comforts children after Halloween tragedy
2015-11-05, NBC (Atlanta affiliate)
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:40:31

A Georgia State Patrol Trooper went above and beyond the call of duty after a Halloween tragedy. Four Morgan County children lost both of their parents as they were getting ready to trick-or-treat Saturday. Donald and Crystal Howard ... were killed instantly when their SUV flew off the road and hit a tree. Trooper Nathan Bradley arrived at the home to break the news of the tragedy. “Unfortunately, I was greeted by four children in full costumes,” Bradley said. With their grandmother’s permission, Bradley didn’t tell the children, who ranged in age from 6 to 13, that their parents had died. “The first thing I said was, ‘Hey lets go get something to eat,’” Bradley said. “They said, ‘My parents will be here soon.’ I said, ‘Your Grandma wants you to hang out with me till she gets here." Bradley treated Justin, Amaya, Damien and Travion to dinner, movies and Halloween candy at the Monroe State Patrol post followed by a sleepover. “The whole purpose was to preserve their Halloween,” said Bradley. They weren't told about their parents’ accident until the next morning when their grandmother arrived. Bradley also started a GoFundMe page for funeral expenses so that Crystal and Donald can be buried in Florida, where the children are moving in with grandparents. All the kindness came from a young state trooper who didn't want to ruin Halloween for his four new friends. “It’s the first time in the line of duty I told someone I loved them and I do love them,” Bradley said. “I care about them a lot.”

Note: Through gofundme, over $450,000 was raised to support this grieving family. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.

How to Breathe Better to Relieve Stress
2015-11-05, Time
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:38:44

Research is mounting that a natural, potent source of stress relief is right in front of your nose. New science is showing that slowing down and deepening your breathing can have profound effects on well-being. “Many researchers can’t imagine how something so simple could actually have effects on physiology,” says Dr. Andrew Weil, a physician and founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. Breathing exercises – a staple of mindfulness and yoga practices – have been shown to help control blood pressure, improve heart rate, make arteries more flexible and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which tamps down the body’s fight-or-flight response to stress. Weil and other experts now believe deep breathing has a place in a clinical setting. “It’s enough to warrant applications in several areas of medicine,” says Dr. Luciano Bernardi, an internal-medicine professor whose research shows that slow-breathing exercises improve exercise capacity in patients with chronic heart failure. “We’ve shown that this simple thing has a fantastic series of effects.

Note: Explore three simple breathing exercises recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil.

Six Pillars of the Wholehearted Life
2015-11-03, Daily Good
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:36:48

In 2015, Naropa University awarded its first-ever honorary degree. Parker Palmer ... delivered one of the greatest commencement addresses of all time — a beam of shimmering wisdom illuminating the six pillars of a meaningful human existence. In his first piece of advice, Palmer calls for living with wholeheartedness. "What I really mean ... is be passionate, fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you." Palmer’s second point of counsel speaks to ... living with opposing truths. Take everything that’s bright and beautiful in you and introduce it to the shadow side of yourself. Wholeness is the goal, but wholeness does not mean perfection, it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of your life. In his third piece of advice, Palmer calls for extending this courtesy to others: As you welcome whatever you find alien within yourself, extend that same welcome to whatever you find alien in the outer world. His fourth piece of advice: Take on big jobs ... like the spread of love, peace, and justice. In his fifth point of counsel, Palmer ... offers: "Since suffering as well as joy comes with being human, I urge you to remember this: Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering." In his sixth and final piece of wisdom, Palmer quotes ... Saint Benedict: “Daily, keep your death before your eyes.” If you hold a healthy awareness of your own mortality, your eyes will be opened to ... life.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.

Where Homeless Meets Crazy
2015-11-06, New York Times
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:34:58

In every corner of the world, there are people who are flagrantly ill, people who mutter to invisible others and box at the air. In India ... Madhu’s relatives dealt with her illness by abandoning her at a healing shrine. She wandered the country [until] the outreach team from an organization called the Banyan found her ... on the street. Since the Banyan was started in 1993, it has rescued over 1,500 women from the street. The group’s members wash, feed and medicate the women, and then they teach them to sew, cook and do other tasks. Families are more likely to take the women back if they come with medication and domestic skills. Over half the women have since been reunited with their kin. When I visited the Banyan, I was struck by how happy and grateful the women were. The atmosphere seemed so different from the palpable anger and fear in the shelters that catered to women with serious mental illness that I knew from working in Chicago. The challenge for the Banyan is to enable women to be useful to families who may not accept them back if they cannot work. In our country, it’s different. Because of our underfunded and fragmented mental health system, it is commonplace for people with psychosis to become periodically homeless. They often end up living in a street culture that teaches them that they become crazy only if they are weak. They distrust help, and they have learned that they should never admit to being ill. To reach the people who need our help we need to understand what it means to be crazy in their world.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.

Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice
2015-10-31, New York Times
Posted: 2015-11-08 20:54:07

On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express ... is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company “may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.” Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations. By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices. It has become increasingly difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home. By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to ... predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination. “This is among the most profound shifts in our legal history,” William G. Young, a federal judge ... said in an interview. “Ominously, business has a good chance of opting out of the legal system altogether and misbehaving without reproach.” Thousands of cases brought by single plaintiffs over fraud, wrongful death and rape are now being decided behind closed doors. And the rules of arbitration largely favor companies.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in financial industry and throughout the corporate world.

Broken system lets problem officers jump from job to job
2015-11-03, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
Posted: 2015-11-08 20:51:26

A yearlong Associated Press investigation into sex abuse by cops, jail guards, deputies and other state law enforcement officials uncovered a broken system for policing bad officers, with significant flaws in how agencies deal with those suspected of sexual misconduct and glaring warning signs that go unreported or get overlooked. The AP examination found about 1,000 officers in six years who lost their licenses because of sex crimes that included rape, or sexual misconduct ranging from propositioning citizens to consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse. That number fails to reflect the breadth of the problem, however, because it measures only officers who faced an official process called decertification and not all states have such a system or provided records. In states that do revoke law enforcement licenses, the process can take years, enabling problem officers to find other jobs. And while there is a national index of decertified officers [containing] the names of nearly 20,000 officers who have lost their licenses for problems that include sex abuse ... contributing is voluntary, and only 39 states do so. Michael Ragusa - now serving a 10-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting three women - admitted during the hiring process with the Miami Police Department that he'd solicited a prostitute, committed theft, sold stolen property and abused a relative. The investigator in charge of his background check had himself been disciplined 26 times and was once arrested for falsifying documents.

Note: The article above describes many heart-wrenching examples of how government corruption can foster and abet sexual abuse. Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team titled "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this sad subject.

CDC Scientist Admits Data of Vaccines and Autism Was Trashed
2015-10-29, CBS Atlanta/TruthInMedia.com (A leading media watchdog)
Posted: 2015-11-08 20:49:16

Over 100 protesters gathered outside of the Centers for Disease Control offices in Atlanta demanding transparency when it comes to vaccines. [They] say that the information being provided to the public about vaccines isn’t honest. On August 27, 2014 [CDC scientist Dr. William Thompson] made an admission that got very little media coverage. But it was a major statement. That statement read in part, “I regret that my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. “The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding the findings ... and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.” Thompson ... hired a whistleblower attorney and turned over documents to Congress. As many as 100,000 documents were turned over. Congressman [Bill] Posey brought this information to the floor of Congress and what he read there was stunning - that authors of the study not only hid the actual findings, but also attempted to destroy evidence [by throwing it] into a trash can. What you might not know is that all vaccines in all quantities for all people are not safe. Every year hundreds of children are injured by vaccines, and since 1986 the United States Government has paid out $3 billion to the vaccine injury compensation program. Raise even one question about why that is, and you’ll get pushback.

Note: Strangely, CBS 46 in Atlanta appears to have removed this from their website. You can see a video of the CBS broadcast at this link. Read further commentary on this important topic in an article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.

U.S. lawsuits build against Monsanto over alleged Roundup cancer link
2015-10-15, Reuters
Posted: 2015-11-08 20:46:37

Law firms around the United States are lining up plaintiffs for what they say could be "mass tort" actions against agrichemical giant Monsanto Co that claim the company's Roundup herbicide has caused cancer in farm workers and others exposed to the chemical. The latest lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Delaware. The lawsuit is similar to others filed last month in New York and California accusing Monsanto of long knowing that the main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was hazardous. Monsanto "led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup was safe," the lawsuit states. The litigation follows the World Health Organization's declaration in March that there was sufficient evidence to classify glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans." "We can prove that Monsanto knew about the dangers of glyphosate," said Michael McDivitt, whose Colorado-based law firm is putting together cases for 50 individuals. Roundup ... brought Monsanto $4.8 billion in revenue in its fiscal 2015. But questions about Roundup's safety have dogged the company for years. Attorneys who have filed or are eying litigation cited strong evidence that links glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Monsanto is also fending off claims over its past manufacturing of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which the WHO classifies as known carcinogens. At least 700 lawsuits against Monsanto or Monsanto-related entities are pending.

Note: It's interesting to note that a Google search shows almost no major media picked up this key news. Read how the EPA used industry studies while ignoring independent studies to declare Roundup safe. Read also an excellent mercola.com article titled "GMO cookie is crumbling." Monsanto is trying to stop the state of California from listing Glyphosate as carcinogenic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.

US overtakes Caymans and Singapore as haven for assets of super-rich
2015-11-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2015-11-08 20:44:42

The US has overtaken Singapore, Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands as an attractive haven for super-rich individuals and businesses looking to shelter assets behind a veil of secrecy, according to a study by the Tax Justice Network (TJN). The US is ranked third, behind Switzerland and Hong Kong, in the financial secrecy index, produced every two years by TJN. But the study noted that if Britain and its affiliated tax havens such as Jersey were treated as one unit it would top the list. “Though the US has been a pioneer in defending itself from foreign secrecy jurisdictions it provides little information in return to other countries, making it a formidable, harmful and irresponsible secrecy jurisdiction,” the TJN report said. The scale of hidden offshore wealth around the world is difficult to assess. The economist Gabriel Zucman has put it at $7.6tn, while the TJN’s James Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey, estimated three years ago it could be more than $21tn. The US states of Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada have for decades been operating as onshore secrecy havens, specialising in setting up shell companies catering to overseas individuals and companies seeking to hide assets. “The US has not seriously addressed its own role in attracting illicit financial flows and supporting tax evasion,” the TJN report found. Like the US, Britain too remains a central player in the vast financial secrecy industry despite championing corporate transparency on the international stage.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.

Misconduct bill tops $235 bln as banks struggle to shake off past sins
2015-05-22, CNBC/Reuters
Posted: 2015-11-08 20:42:25

Twenty of the world's biggest banks have paid more than $235 billion in fines and compensation in the last seven years for a litany of misdeeds. The scale of the payouts, equivalent to the annual economy of Greece or Portugal, has hampered banks' efforts to rebuild capital, reduced dividends for investors and cut the amount firms are able to lend. The misconduct bill is expected to rise by tens of billions more dollars, and many politicians, regulators and industry observers said more needs to be done. Mark Taylor, dean of the business school at the University of Warwick in central England [says] bonuses are too high, there is little threat of jail for wrongdoers and bosses are not held responsible. "The problem is the incentives for cheating markets is massive. If you can shift a rate fractionally you can make millions and millions of dollars for your bank and then for bonuses. "Once senior executives feel they are personally at risk if the culture doesn't change, and individual traders feel they are at risk of being put in prison, then you'll get a culture change," he said. Despite the scale of fines and compensation paid by banks, relatively few individuals have been punished. Data compiled by Reuters ... showed U.S. banks have paid $140 billion in litigation and compensation for mortgage related issues since 2008. Bank of America has paid out twice as much as any other bank in settlements and compensation, with a bill of almost $80 billion.

Note: Big bank settlements often amount to "cash for secrecy" deals that are ultimately profitable for banks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.

Why Can't We End Mass Incarceration?
2015-10-26, Rolling Stone
Posted: 2015-11-08 20:40:02

The U.S. federal-prison population swelled from 24,000 prisoners in 1980 to 219,000 in 2013. And federal prisons are just the tip of the iceberg — factor in state prisons and local jails, and there are 2.2 million people locked up in this country. The U.S. Sentencing Commission ... is charged with setting and adjusting the detailed schedule of penalties for those convicted of federal crimes. In April 2014, the commission approved a reduction in sentences for certain drug crimes going forward. In his final months in office, President Obama has focused more on the need for criminal-justice reform. He has used the executive power of clemency to commute some of the most egregiously unfair sentences of 89 federal drug convicts. But a handful of pardons don't amount to much when there are hundreds of thousands of federal prisoners. Nearly half of federal inmates are serving time for drug crimes. Of those, 60 percent were subject to mandatory minimums when they were sentenced. Stephanie George was a 26-year-old mother of three when she was convicted on drug-conspiracy charges because the man she was dating had kept drugs and money in her house. Under the federal three-strikes-and-you're-out law, she was sentenced to life in prison. George was locked up nearly 18 years before Obama commuted her sentence. One of her sons died shortly before her release. She says she doesn't think most politicians consider the costs a mandatory-minimum sentence brings.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.

Robert Fisk on Saudi Prince busted with 40 suitcases of drugs at Beirut airport
2015-10-30, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
Posted: 2015-11-08 20:38:00

Earlier this week, Saudi Prince Abdul Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud was arrested in Lebanon. According to reports, the prince and four other Saudis were attempting to fly out of the Beirut airport in a private jet - chock full of drugs. "Apparently most of it was called Captagon ... a kind of amphetamine," [said Robert Fisk], Middle East correspondent for the Independent newspaper. He says that a customs guard at Beirut airport became suspicious when the prince showed up with 40 suitcases. Fisk explains, "So he said, 'You put the baggage through the x-ray machine,' and the Saudi said, 'No, no, I have a diplomatic passport,' and he said, 'You have a diplomatic passport but the baggage does not have diplomatic clearance." The prince was immediately detained. "The photographs which have been leaked out, show boxes, very large boxes with the Saudi royal coat of arms on the front which is a bit unfortunate," Fisk quips. "I think what's actually happening is that the Lebanese do not want to embarrass the Saudis." According to Fisk, the story has already disappeared from the papers and it is still unclear where the drugs were intended to be delivered. "This after all, is a state that chops off the heads of drug traffickers usually from poor countries like Pakistan or Sri Lanka," Fisk adds. "They certainly don't want too much publicity when a Prince is suddenly found possessing all this stuff and trying to cheat his way through the airport."

Note: Despite being caught red-handed in what may be Lebanon's biggest drug bust ever, Fisk believes this royal prince will escape punishment. Remember Saudi Arabia is run by the royal family. How many other governments are secretly involved in drug running? Reports from 25-year veteran of the DEA turned best-selling author and journalist Michael Levine point towards a troubling answer.

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