News StoriesExcerpts of Key News Stories in Major Media
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.
Congressional liberals rebelled Wednesday against a must-pass spending bill that would ... roll back critical limits on Wall Street and sharply increase the influence of wealthy campaign donors. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a popular figure on the left, led the insurrection with a speech on the Senate floor, calling the $1.01 trillion spending bill “the worst of government for the rich and powerful.” Meanwhile, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “I don’t think the vast majority of Democrats or even Republicans are going to look too kindly on a Congress that’s ready to go back and start doing the bidding of Wall Street interests again.” On the Senate floor, Warren said the changes in the spending bill “would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system.” She added: “These are the same banks that nearly broke the economy in 2008 and destroyed millions of jobs.” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who opposed the 2013 bill, said he would vote against the new spending measure in its current form. The change to Dodd-Frank coupled with the campaign finance provision makes for a toxic blend, he said. Van Hollen was one of the few Democrats willing to risk a government shutdown by blocking the bill. Pressed by reporters, even Warren would not make that commitment.
The end-of-year spending bill deal crafted by congressional leaders Tuesday would dramatically expand the amount of money that wealthy political donors could inject into the national parties, drastically undercutting the 2002 landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul. The language – inserted on page 1,599 of the 1,603-page bill – would allow ... a donor who gave the maximum $32,400 this year to the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee ... to donate another $291,600 on top of that to the party’s additional arms -- a total of $324,000, ten times the current limit. In a two-year election cycle, a couple could give $1,296,000 to a party's various accounts. "These provisions have never been considered by the House or Senate, and were never even publicly mentioned before today," said Fred Wertheimer, president of the advocacy group Democracy 21. Adam Smith, spokesman for the group Every Voice, said in a statement, “Very few people can write checks almost twice the size of the country’s median income, but that’s what this provision will allow. It gives the biggest donors another opportunity to influence politics and buys them more access to politicians.” Campaign finance experts were taken aback by the scope of the measure, rumors of which first surfaced Tuesday, hours before the deal was finalized.
The American Civil Liberties Union has released the results of its year-long study of police militarization. The study looked at 800 deployments of SWAT teams among 20 local, state and federal police agencies in 2011-2012. Among the notable findings: 62 percent of the SWAT raids surveyed were to conduct searches for drugs. Just 7 percent of SWAT raids were “for hostage, barricade, or active shooter scenarios.” In at least 36 percent of the SWAT raids studied, no contraband of any kind was found. This figure could be as high as 65 percent. SWAT tactics are disproportionately used on people of color. 65 percent of SWAT deployments resulted in some sort of forced entry into a private home. In over half those raids, the police failed to find any sort of weapon, the presence of which was cited as the reason for the violent tactics. SWAT teams today are overwhelmingly used to investigate people who are still only suspected of committing nonviolent consensual crimes. And because these raids often involve forced entry into homes, often at night, they’re actually creating violence and confrontation where there was none before. In short, we have police departments that are increasingly using violent, confrontational tactics to break into private homes for increasingly low-level crimes, and they seem to believe that the public has no right to know the specifics of when, how and why those tactics are being used.
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou is the only CIA employee connected to its interrogation program to go to prison. But he was prosecuted for providing information to reporters, not for anything connected to ... “torture.” No other person connected to the program has been charged with a crime, after the Justice Department said their actions had been approved legally or that there was not sufficient admissible evidence in a couple cases of potential wrongdoing, even in light of the death of two detainees in the early 2000s. Kiriakou was the first person with direct knowledge of the CIA interrogation program to publicly reveal its existence, in an interview with ABC News in 2007. He is now serving a nearly-three-year prison sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, but he says that’s only what the government wants people to believe. “In truth, this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy,” Kiriakou said in a letter last May from a prison in Loretto, Penn. In his groundbreaking interview with ABC News and later with other news outlets, Kiriakou described the details of the program. In some cases, it turned out that even Kiriakou ... was misled or kept in the dark about the extent of the program.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing stories about questionable intelligence agency practices from reliable sources.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s last act as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee ... had Washington’s most powerful forces arrayed against her. At the end ... Feinstein said she was more determined than ever to release the summary of a 6,700-page report on the CIA’s use of torture after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “She has been vilified, the committee was spied on, the CIA and its supporters ran what amounted to a domestic disinformation campaign against the report and the committee,” said Stephen Rickard, executive director of the Open Society Policy Center, a civil liberties and human rights group in Washington. “She did her job.” Her job was to provide congressional oversight of an executive branch agency, and she met prolonged and intense resistance. Feinstein called the report “the most significant and comprehensive oversight report in the committee’s history, and perhaps in that of the U.S. Senate.” The Senate panel examined nearly 6.3 million pages of documents, without Republican cooperation and against the resistance of the CIA, which went so far as to hack Intelligence Committee computers and threaten to bring criminal charges against the staff. Although President Obama insisted he wanted the report made public, administration officials reportedly pressed for redactions that Senate Democrats said would make the report meaningless.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing stories about questionable intelligence agency practices from reliable sources.
James Risen, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for exposing the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, has [been] threatened with prison by the Obama Justice Department. [This] is almost certainly the vindictive by-product of the U.S. government’s anger over his NSA reporting. He has published a new book on the War on Terror entitled Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War. Risen's [critique] is one of the first to offer large amounts of original reporting on ... a particular part of the War on Terror, namely the way in which economic motives, what [he] calls the Homeland Security Industrial Complex, has driven a huge part of the war. GLENN GREENWALD: How much of this economic motive is the cause of the fact that we’ve now been at war for 13 years? RISEN: It plays a really central role. After so many years there’s ... a post-9/11 mercenary class that’s developed that have invested. Not just people who are making money, but people who are in the government. Their status and their power within the government are invested in continuing the war. There’s very little debate about whether to continue the war. When Dick Cheney said, “the gloves come off,” ... that really meant, “We’re going to deregulate national security, and we’re going to take off all the rules that were imposed in the ’70s after Watergate.” That was just a dramatic change. It’s been extended to this whole new homeland security apparatus. People think that terrorism is an existential threat, even though it’s not, and so they’re willing to go along with all this.
Note: The complete interview at the link above provides details of James Risen's fight to preserve journalistic integrity against a corrupted government's attempts to manipulate the news. For more on Risen's deeply revealing investigation of the Homeland Security Industrial Complex, see this recent NPR interview.
An undercover California Highway Patrol officer who was attempting to infiltrate a demonstration against police brutality in Oakland pulled a gun on the protesters after he and his partner were outed. "About 50 people were marching near Lake Merritt just after 11:30 p.m. Wednesday when some of the demonstrators began calling out two men who were walking with the group," said [news photographer] Michael Short. “Just as we turned up 27th Street, the crowd started yelling at these two guys, saying they were undercover cops,” Short said Thursday. “Somebody snatched a hat off the shorter guy’s head and he was fumbling around for it. A guy ran up behind him, knocked him down on the ground. The crowd began surging on them. “The other taller guy... as the crowd started surging on them, he pulled out a gun.” Chief Browne said the officer also pulled out a badge ... though Short, other members of the media and protesters reported that they did not see a badge. The officers, who Browne said he is not identifying, had been trailing the crowd in an unmarked car and began following on foot. Short said the officers were wearing street clothes and had their faces covered with bandannas. Browne confirmed this and ... said it was common. Several protesters took to Twitter to say that the officers had actually instigated acts of vandalism and were banging on windows alongside others.
Note: Here is proof that the police are infiltrating marches by protesters and wearing masks to cover their identities. Often those promoting violence are using masks. Could the police in some instances actually be provoking violence among protesters to discredit the movement?
When [Claudette Colvin] was 15, she refused to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat to a white person — nine months before Rosa Parks did the very same thing. Most people know about Parks and the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott that began in 1955, but few know that ... Colvin was the first to really challenge the law. She remembers taking the bus home from high school on March 2, 1955. The bus driver ordered her to get up and she refused, saying she'd paid her fare. Two police officers put her in handcuffs and arrested her. Now her story is the subject of a new book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Author Phil Hoose says that ... there was this teenager, nine months before Rosa Parks, "in the same city, in the same bus system, with very tough consequences, hauled off the bus, handcuffed, jailed and nobody really knew about it." He also believes Colvin is important because she challenged the law in ... the court case that successfully overturned bus segregation laws in Montgomery and Alabama. People may think that Parks' action was spontaneous, but black civic leaders had been thinking about what to do about the Montgomery buses for years. The stories of Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are ... the stories of people in their 30s and 40s. Colvin was 15. Hoose feels his book will bring a fresh teen's perspective to the struggle to end segregation.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties articles from reliable major media sources.
Kailash Satyarthi has ... just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Satyarthi is a hero to many people. [He] has driven the global movement to end child labor. Because of his work, we now know there are 168 million child laborers worldwide. They used to be invisible. Kailash started risking his life for these children more than 30 years ago, when he broke into Indian factories to emancipate them. Early footage of him doing this “raid and rescue” work showed the world that child slavery exists. Along with his wife, Sumedha, he helped those he rescued to recover and find their place in the world, and he put their stories on the global stage, shaming lawmakers and companies into acknowledging the systemic exploitation of children for economic gain. GoodWeave [is] an organization that he created in 1994. At that time there were over 1 million children weaving carpets in South Asia alone. In exchange for proving that there were no children in their supply chains, carpet sellers could put the GoodWeave label on their products. Since 1995, more than 11 million carpets bearing the GoodWeave label have been sold worldwide, reducing child labor in the carpet industry by an estimated 75 percent. GoodWeave aims to emancipate the last 250,000 children working the carpet looms by 2020.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In Xiaolin Zheng's version of the future, installing solar panels could be as simple as applying a sticker. “In China, the rooftops of many buildings are packed with solar energy devices,” says Zheng. “One day my father mentioned how great it would be if a building’s entire surface could be used for solar power, not just the roof, but also walls and windows.” An invention from Zheng's research team at Stanford University might someday make that possible. They have created a type of solar cell that is thin, flexible, and adhesive—a solar sticker. “Our new technique lets us treat the solar cells like a pizza,” explains Zheng. “When you bake pizza, you use a metal pan that can tolerate high temperatures. But when it’s time to distribute the pizza economically, it’s placed in a paper box." Working with her students, Zheng set out to fabricate solar cells on a silicone or glass surface as usual, but she inserted a metallic layer between the cell and the surface. After some trial and error, the team was finally able to peel away the metallic layer from the surface. The result was ... skinny, bendable cells [that] can produce the same amount of electricity as rigid ones. According to Zheng. “The silicon wafers come through the process clean and shiny. So just like a pizza pan, they can be used again and again, which translates to savings.” And because the solar stickers are lighter than conventional panels, they will be easier and less expensive to install.
Note: Watch a video of this amazing process at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Local governments, both big and small, are debating and approving "responsible banking ordinances" to hold banks accountable for how they treat people living in each city. The core tenet of each ordinance is simple: improve the availability of information that banks provide cities when we consider depositing taxpayer dollars and awarding contracts for new financial services. Responsible banking ordinances have recently been approved or are being considered in cities including New York, Seattle, Berkeley, Boston, Portland, Kansas City and San Francisco (responsible banking laws have been on the books in Cleveland and Philadelphia for years). The Los Angeles responsible banking ordinance will create a public, transparent process for gathering information about each bank's history of service in the community. The City of Los Angeles has a $30 billion banking portfolio, and the city's decision-makers are charged with selecting the financial institutions that will be allowed to profit from conducting transactions ... on behalf of our taxpayers. Progress toward banking responsibility is not coming without a fight. Big banks have been visiting city council offices [and have] argued that their investment divisions should not be held accountable. There is a good reason that responsible banking ordinances are being approved across the country -- banking responsibly is the fiscally responsible thing to do.
Note: The responsible banking ordinance movement has gained momentum since the above article was written about Los Angeles' inspiring success. In 2013, Minneapolis, MN became the 10th major US city to join this movement. In 2014, New York City beat the bankers in court to keep their ordinance alive. Want to see this model used by your city government?
Eric Garner was not the first American to be choked by the police, and he will not be the last, thanks to legal rules that prevent victims of police violence from asking federal courts to help stop deadly practices. The 1983 case City of Los Angeles v. Lyons vividly illustrates the problem. That case also involved an African-American man choked by the police without provocation. Unlike Mr. Garner, Adolph Lyons survived. He then filed a federal lawsuit, asking the city to compensate him for his injuries. He also asked the court to prevent the Los Angeles Police Department from using chokeholds in the future. The trial court ordered the L.A.P.D. to stop using chokeholds. The Supreme Court overturned this order. The court explained that Mr. Lyons would have needed to prove that he personally was likely to be choked again in order for his lawsuit to be a vehicle for systemic reform. This is the legal standard when a plaintiff asks a federal court for an injunction — or a forward-looking legal order. When the stakes are this deadly, federal courts should step in. If police departments still failed to comply, federal judges could impose penalties. How do we know? Consider school segregation. Local officials had promised change but failed to ensure it. It took decades of close supervision by federal courts to make a dent in the problem. As the courts started to leave this field in more recent years, de facto segregation returned.
Amid widespread criticism of the deployment of military-grade weapons and vehicles by police officers in Ferguson, MO ... NPR obtained data from the Pentagon on every military item sent to local, state and federal agencies through the Pentagon's Law Enforcement Support Office — known as the 1033 program — from 2006 through April 23, 2014. We took the raw data, analyzed it and have organized it. We are making that data set available to the public. The 1033 program is the key source of ... military items being sent to local law enforcement [such as] mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs. More than 600 of them have been sent ... mostly within the past year. The Pentagon has also distributed: 79,288 assault rifles, 205 grenade launchers, 11,959 bayonets, 3,972 combat knives, $124 million worth of night-vision equipment, including night-vision sniper scopes, 479 bomb detonator robots, 50 airplanes, 422 helicopters, [and] more than $3.6 million worth of camouflage gear and other "deception equipment." The list [also] includes building materials, musical instruments and even toiletries. Congress authorized the 1033 program in 1989 to equip local, state and federal agencies in the war on drugs. In 1996, Congress widened the program's scope to include counterterrorism. The data do not confirm whether either of those public safety goals are, in fact, driving decisions.
A system Congress established to speed help to Americans harmed by vaccines has instead heaped additional suffering on thousands of families. The system is not working as intended. The AP read hundreds of decisions, conducted more than 100 interviews, and analyzed a database of more than 14,500 cases filed in a special vaccine court. Among the findings: Private attorneys have been paid tens of millions of taxpayer dollars even as they clog the court. The court offers a financial incentive to over-file — unlike typical civil court cases. Prominent attorneys have enlisted expert witnesses whose own work has been widely discredited, including one who treated autism with a potent drug used to chemically castrate serial rapists. Many doctors hired by the government to defend vaccine safety in court have ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Cases are supposed to be resolved within 240 days, with options for another 150 days of extensions. Less than 7 percent of 7,876 claims not involving autism met the 240-day target. Add in autism claims, which were postponed so the court could hear all of them at once, and just 4.5 percent took fewer than 240 days. Hundreds have surpassed the decade mark. Several people died before getting any money.
Note: The secret court that shields big pharma from legal liability for selling harmful vaccines is described in this 2009 Wall Street Journal news article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on vaccines from reliable major media sources showing huge corruption and deception.
A destructive “Trojan Horse” malware program has penetrated the software that runs much of the nation’s critical infrastructure and is poised to cause an economic catastrophe, according to the Department of Homeland Security. National Security sources told ABC News there is evidence that the malware was inserted by hackers believed to be sponsored by the Russian government. The hacked software is used to control ... oil and gas pipelines, power transmission grids, water distribution and filtration systems, wind turbines and even some nuclear plants. The hacking campaign has been ongoing since 2011, but no attempt has been made to activate the malware. DHS sources ... fear that the Russians have torn a page from the old, Cold War playbook, and have placed the malware in key U.S. systems as a threat, and/or as a deterrent to a U.S. cyber-attack on Russian systems. The hack became known to insiders last week when a DHS alert bulletin was issued. The bulletin said the “BlackEnergy” penetration recently had been detected by several companies. DHS said “BlackEnergy” is the same malware that was used ... to target NATO and some energy and telecommunications companies. The hacked software is very advanced. It allows designated workers to control various industrial processes through the computer, an iPad or a smart phone, sources said.
Note: For an example of a computer-based attack on industrial infrastructure, read how a malware called Stuxnet targeted Iranian nuclear facilities. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
In the largest opium harvest in Afghanistan's history; with a record 224,000 hectares under cultivation this year, the country produced an estimated 6,400 tons of opium, or around 90 percent of the world's supply. In Afghanistan today, according to U.N. estimates, the opium industry accounts for 15 percent of the economy. The Afghan narcotics trade has gotten undeniably worse since the U.S.-led invasion: The country produces twice as much opium as it did in 2000. In the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, I arrange an interview with a drug smuggler. I'll call him Sami. He grew up in a camp near the border town of Chagai, in Pakistan. After finishing 11th grade, he got work as a driver and began ... smuggling opium through the desert. Baramcha, a smuggling hub on the Afghan side of the border ... functions as a kind of switching station for much of the opium trade. "The security situation is good ... the drug smugglers and the ISI are tight together," he says, referring to Pakistan's intelligence service. The United States' alliances with opium traffickers in Afghanistan go back to the 1980s, when the CIA waged a dirty war to undermine the Soviet occupation of the country. Large-scale cultivation was introduced [with] support from the ISI and the CIA. U.S. counternarcotics programs, which have cost nearly $8 billion to date, and the Afghan state-building project in general, are perversely part of ... the drug trade.
Note: Read the complete article above for an in depth look at the Afghan narcotics trade. For more, read this 2002 news article, which shows that the Taliban had nearly eliminated opium production in Afghanistan prior to the US led invasion. Yet once the allies defeated the Taliban, opium production hit new records. Today, Afghanistan produces 90% of the global opium supply. This huge source of income is used to fund all kinds of secret projects. Read powerful evidence that the CIA and US military are directly involved in the drug trade.
The American Red Cross regularly touts how responsible it is with donors' money. "We're very proud of the fact that 91 cents of every dollar that's donated goes to our services," Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern said in a speech in Baltimore last year. The problem with that number: It isn't true. After inquiries by ProPublica and NPR, the Red Cross removed the statement from its website. In recent years, the Red Cross' fundraising expenses alone have been as high as 26 cents of every donated dollar. But even that understates matters. The charity spends additional money on "management and general" expenses. That means the portion of donated dollars going to overhead is even higher. After being contacted by ProPublica and NPR, the charity changed the wording on its website to another formulation it frequently uses: that 91 cents of every dollar the charity "spends" goes to humanitarian services. But that too is misleading to donors. The charity spent $467 million, or 14 percent of total spending, on its famous domestic disaster response programs, including the expensive Sandy relief effort. The Red Cross doesn't break down its spending on overhead and declined ProPublica and NPR's request to do so. Other figures the Red Cross frequently cites also appear to be unreliable.
Note: This ongoing NPR/ProPublica investigation has also found that the Red Cross used courts to hide its spending habits, and diverted funds from disaster relief to manipulate the media. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing articles about corporate corruption from reliable sources.
In a damning 2009 report, Ireland’s independently-run Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse – which spent nine years investigating thousands of allegations of abuse at religious-run institutions – spoke of a culture of “endemic sexual abuse” in the country’s Catholic boys’ schools and of the “deferential and submissive attitude” of the Irish state towards the religious orders who ran them. What emerged from the investigation, and from a separate Dublin-specific inquiry concluded the same year, was that institutional child abuse was widespread and that it had occurred not only in schools, but in many places where young people were in the care of religious orders. The commissions also revealed that very often when children reported the abuse, they were largely ignored and even punished. The state, too, had willfully turned a blind eye. The very ordinariness of [the abuse] struck photographer Kim Haughton as profoundly disturbing. This was molestation that was at once hidden and woven into the fabric of everyday life. “So much of this happened in places like schools and churches, and in homes,” she tells TIME. And so she embarked on In Plain Sight, a project in which the [actual] sites of these abuses became the subjects of her lens ... places that, when taken at face value, seem unremarkable. “The work, I hope, challenges us to confront these crimes in the context in which they happened,” Haughton adds, “everyday life.”
Note: Read the complete story to see photos from In Plain Sight. Explore powerful evidence from a suppressed Discovery Channel documentary showing that child sexual abuse scandals also reach to the highest levels of government in the US. And read an abundance of major media news articles showing rampant child sexual abuse at high levels in many prominent organizations.
Entrepreneurs and established companies alike depend on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Newly released documents reveal that the office, tasked with evaluating and protecting the rights to intellectual property, has a covert system for delaying controversial or inconvenient patents. It’s a system that ... could function as a way to limit or stomp out emerging companies. Before today, the program — named the Sensitive Application Warning System (SAWS) — has been mentioned only anecdotally by examiners who work in or with the office, and in a government memo that was leaked in March 2006. However, a new 50-page document obtained by a law firm’s Freedom of Information Act request shows the sweeping scope and conflicting interests of this particular set of rules. The law firm behind the request, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, frequently represents major tech companies, including Apple, Google, Twitter, and Oracle. For Thomas Franklin, a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend, applications that he prosecutes typically issue as patents 22 months after filing. Any application that is categorized in SAWS, however ... can be delayed for years. There is no official channel to notify an applicant once her patent is placed in the system. Franklin told Yahoo Tech., “That’s what piqued my interest as a constitutional issue. There’s a secret program that they’re not supposed to talk about.”
Note: When the government has a "property interest" in any patent application, it may be rejected, stolen, or classified according to secret criteria. Among new energy technology researchers, it is well known that the patent office can block patents of amazing inventions that could cost oil and energy companies billions of dollars. Read this excellent summary for more on this.
The U.S. Air Force has kept an unmanned space shuttle in orbit for the past two years. No one without security clearance knows what it’s been doing up there. The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which can enter orbit and land without human intervention, is scheduled to touch down this week. The landing will mark completion of the program’s third and longest mission. The Air Force has two such spacecraft for these low-earth orbit missions, all of which are classified. “The mission is basically top secret,” says Captain Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesman. Marco Caceres, a space analyst with Teal Group, says the Air Force is most likely interested in having a surveillance platform that can “maneuver in orbit faster” than satellites. The Air Force appears to be planning a future for the program. Speculation has flourished online about what the government is doing. Theories range from surveillance to [developing] the platform for a new generation of kinetic weapons that can be used from space [to] testing the craft so it can eventually drop special-forces soldiers from space to anywhere on the planet, within minutes.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government secrecy from reliable major media sources.
Important Note: 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.