Executive Pay Loophole, Fed Secrecy,
Torture Planned at the Top
Revealing News Articles
December 19, 2008
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the executive pay loophole inserted by the Bush administration in the $700 billion bailout bill, Fed secrecy concerning the trillions of dollars it provides to Wall Street, a new Senate Armed Services Committee report finding that the torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and secret sites worldwide was planned by top officials at the Pentagon and State Department, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Executive Pay Limits May Prove Toothless
December 15, 2008, Washington Post
Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules. But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money. Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives. "The flimsy executive-compensation restrictions in the original bill are now all but gone," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), ranking Republican on of the Senate Finance Committee. Senators on the Finance Committee have expressed concern to Paulson and are now considering whether they should amend the law to apply the enforcement mechanism to all firms participating in the bailout.
Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports exposing the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Fed Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion
December 12, 2008, Bloomberg News
The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. Bloomberg filed suit Nov. 7 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs, most created during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression. The Fed responded Dec. 8, saying it's allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. "If they told us what they held, we would know the potential losses that the government may take and that's what they don't want us to know," said Carlos Mendez, a senior managing director at New York-based ICP Capital LLC. The Fed stepped into a rescue role that was the original purpose of the Treasury's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The central bank loans don't have the oversight safeguards that Congress imposed upon the TARP. Total Fed lending exceeded $2 trillion for the first time Nov. 6. It rose by 138 percent, or $1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since Sept. 14, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren't rated AAA. "There has to be something they can tell the public because we have a right to know what they are doing," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Report on Detainee Abuse Blames Top Bush Officials
December 12, 2008, Washington Post
A bipartisan panel of senators has concluded that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the harsh treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and that their decisions led to more serious abuses in Iraq and elsewhere. In the most comprehensive critique by Congress of the military's interrogation practices, the Senate Armed Services Committee issued a report yesterday that accuses Rumsfeld and his deputies of being the authors and chief promoters of harsh interrogation policies that disgraced the nation and undermined U.S. security. "The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own," the report states. "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees." Human rights and constitutional law organizations have urged further action, ranging from an independent commission to prosecutions of those involved in authorizing the interrogations. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has helped defend detainees at Guantanamo, said the committee report is valuable because "it's official, it's bipartisan. It's open and explicit, going right to Rumsfeld and having Rice involved," Ratner said. "It breaks new ground in saying that the [torture] techniques basically don't work . . . that they're actually designed to elicit false confessions."
Wall Street legend Bernard Madoff arrested over '$50 billion Ponzi scheme'
December 12, 2008, Times of London
Shock and panic spread through the country clubs of Palm Beach and Long Island after Bernard L Madoff, a trading powerbroker for over four decades, allegedly confessed to a massive fraud that will cost his wealthy investors at least $50 billion, perhaps the largest swindle in Wall Street history. Mr Madoff, 70, a former Nasdaq stock chairman, was apparently turned in by his two sons and arrested on Thursday morning at his Manhattan apartment by the FBI. The FBI claims that three senior employees of Mr Madoff's investment firm - once a towering presence on Wall Street - turned up at his apartment on Wednesday to ask questions about the company's solvency. Two of them are believed to be his sons, Andrew and Mark, who have worked for their father for two decades. Mr Madoff told them that he was "finished", that he had "absolutely nothing", and that "it's all just one big lie". He said the investment arm of his firm was "basically a giant Ponzi scheme," and that it had been insolvent for years. A Ponzi scheme, named after the swindler Charles Ponzi, is a fraudulent investment operation that pays abnormally high returns to investors paid from money put into the scheme by subsequent investors, rather from real profits generated by share trading. The FBI complaint states that Mr Madoff told his sons he believed the losses from his scheme could exceed $50 billion. If that is the case, his fraud would be far greater than past Ponzi schemes and easily the greatest swindle perpetrated by one man.
Note: If a former Nasdaq chairman was committing this kind of blatant fraud while still the chairman of Nasdaq, what does it say about the level of corruption on Wall Street? For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources exposing the realities of the Wall Street corruption, click here.
UCSF says reports on drug trials skew positive
December 15, 2008, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
What are the pills in your medicine cabinet, and how do you know they're best for you? When drug companies seek approval to market new medicines, they must show the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the results of all the tests they've run on volunteer patients - at first on only a few, then on dozens, and finally on hundreds or sometimes thousands. After winning approval, the companies typically sponsor reports of those tests in medical journal publications, which many doctors often rely on to determine whether to prescribe new drugs for their patients. Now a skeptical team of medical investigators at UCSF has accused the major drug companies of bias by distorting the results of their trials in those publications, making it hard for doctors to judge for themselves the pros and cons of prescribing the new drugs. As a result, the researchers say, patients may sometimes be taking medicines they don't need - or with unwanted side effects - that their doctors have prescribed on the basis of inadequate information. The UCSF team, led by Lisa A. Bero of the medical center's Institute for Health Policy Studies, probed the details of 164 drug trials involving as many as 1,500 patients over a two-year period and then examined reports on those trials that were published in medical journals, as well as those that remained unpublished. "We found really important information from the official trial reports that were either not published at all or that stressed mostly the positive results of trials in the published versions," said Kristin Rising, a physician at the institute who did the major investigation.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.
Jim Rogers calls most big U.S. banks "bankrupt"
December 11, 2008, Reuters News
Jim Rogers, one of the world's most prominent international investors, ... called most of the largest U.S. banks "totally bankrupt," and said government efforts to fix the sector are wrongheaded. Co-founder with George Soros of the Quantum Fund, [Rogers] said the government's $700 billion rescue package for the sector doesn't address how banks manage their balance sheets, and instead rewards weaker lenders with new capital. "Without giving specific names, most of the significant American banks, the larger banks, are bankrupt, totally bankrupt," said Rogers. "What is outrageous economically and is outrageous morally is that normally in times like this, people who are competent and who saw it coming and who kept their powder dry go and take over the assets from the incompetent," he said. "What's happening this time is that the government is taking the assets from the competent people and giving them to the incompetent people and saying, now you can compete with the competent people. It is horrible economics." While not saying how long the U.S. economic recession will last, he said conditions could ultimately mirror those of Japan in the 1990s. "The way things are going, we're going to have a lost decade too, just like the 1970s," he said. "Governments are making mistakes," he said. "They're saying to all the banks, you don't have to tell us your situation. You can continue to use your balance sheet that is phony.... All these guys are bankrupt, they're still worrying about their bonuses, they're still trying to pay their dividends, and the whole system is weakened."
Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports exposing the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
CIA Helped Shoot Down 15 Civilian Planes
December 11, 2008, CBS News/Associated Press
With the help of CIA spotters, the Peruvian air force shot down 15 small civilian aircraft suspected of carrying drugs, in many cases without warning and within two to three minutes of being sighted, a U.S. lawmaker said Thursday. It was the first public disclosure of the number of planes shot down between 1995 and 2001 as part of the Airbridge Denial Program, a CIA counternarcotics effort that killed an innocent American missionary, Veronica Bowers, and her infant daughter in 2001. Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, senior Republican on the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, told The Associated Press most of the 15 planes shot down with the help of the CIA crashed in the jungle. The wreckage has not been or could not be examined to ascertain whether narcotics were aboard the aircraft. "The Bowers could have gone in the same category if they had crashed in the jungle," Hoekstra said, speaking of the missionary family from Hoekstra's state, Michigan. The Bowers' plane made an emergency river landing after it was hit. Excerpts from a CIA inspector general's report released in November raised questions about whether the missionaries' plane was the only craft mistakenly suspected of drug smuggling. The CIA report said that in most of the shootdowns, pilots fired on aircraft "without being properly identified, without being given the required warnings to land, and without being given time to respond to such warnings as were given to land."
Note: For many key reports from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
Panel Criticizes U.S. Effort on Nanomaterial Risks
December 11, 2008, New York Times
In a sweeping critique ... an expert panel of the National Research Council said the federal government was not doing enough to identify potential health and environmental risks from engineered nanomaterials. Nanomaterials are engineered on the scale of a billionth of a meter, perhaps 1/10,000 the width of a human hair. They are turning up in a range of items including consumer products like toothpaste and tennis rackets and industrial products like degreasers or adhesives. But some experts say they may pose health or environmental risks. For example, researchers in Scotland reported this year that carbon nanotubes may pose the same health risks as asbestos. "Industry wants to run with it," said Andrew D. Maynard, chief science adviser to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson Institute, who was the chairman of the panel. But he added, "one of the big barriers at the moment is understanding how to use it safely." The panel analyzed the risk research strategy of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the program to coordinate federal efforts in nanotechnology research and development. Its report concluded that the initiative's strategy "does not present a vision, contain a clear set of goals, have a plan of action for how the goals are to be achieved, or describe mechanisms to review and evaluate funded research and assess whether progress has been achieved." An informal coalition of environmental and business organizations praised the report, saying that for three years they had been urging the federal government to do more to assess potential health and environmental effects of nanomaterials.
Note: For many important articles on health issues from reliable sources, click here.
Canadian leader suspends Parliament to stay in power
December 4, 2008, CNN
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday that Canada's governor general has allowed him to suspend Parliament, postponing a no-confidence vote from his opponents that he was likely to lose. Harper called on his opponents to work with his government on measures to aid the nation's economy when Parliament returns on January 26. Had Governor General Michaelle Jean -- who represents Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as head of state -- denied Harper's request, Monday's vote would have likely brought down Harper's government, less than two months after his Conservative Party strengthened its minority position in federal elections. The Liberal Party and the leftist New Democratic Party announced plans earlier this week to form a governing coalition with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, which supports independence for French-speaking Quebec. "For the first time in the history of Canada, the prime minister of Canada is running away from the parliament of Canada," said [Liberal Party Leader Stephane] Dion, accusing the premier of placing "partisan politics ahead of the interest of all Canadians." New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton said Harper had used a "maneuver to escape accountability." "He refuses to face the people of Canada through their elected representatives," he said. "The prime minister is choosing to protect his own job rather than focusing on the jobs of Canadians who are being thrown out of work today."
Note: What gives Canada's governor general the right to suspend parliament? The governor general is the representative of the queen of England. Few know that the queen has this power over all commonwealth nations. Canada is not truly independent of England, nor are the other commonwealth nations, including Australia. For more intriguing information on this, click here.
Ocean currents can power the world, say scientists
November 29, 2008, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
A revolutionary device that can harness energy from slow-moving rivers and ocean currents could provide enough power for the entire world, scientists claim. The technology can generate electricity in water flowing at a rate of less than one knot - about one mile an hour - meaning it could operate on most waterways and sea beds around the globe. Existing technologies which use water power, relying on the action of waves, tides or faster currents created by dams, are far more limited in where they can be used, and also cause greater obstructions when they are built in rivers or the sea. Turbines and water mills need an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth's currents are slower than three knots. The new device, which has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned [horizontally] to the water flow and attached to springs. As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity. The scientists behind the technology, which has been developed in research funded by the US government, say ... the technology would require up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation. The system, conceived by scientists at the University of Michigan, is called Vivace, or "vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy".
Note: For lots more on new energy technology developments, click here.
Macrophage activation may suppress breast cancer metastasis
February 20, 2008, Reuters Health
Vitamin D-binding protein-derived macrophage activating factor (GcMAF) appears to be an effective immunotherapeutic agent in patients with metastatic breast cancer, according to US and Japanese researchers. "Serum vitamin D-binding protein -- known as Gc protein -- is the precursor of the principal macrophage activating factor," lead investigator Dr. Nobuto Yamamoto told Reuters Health. "Treatment of purified Gc protein with beta-galactosidase and sialidase generates GcMAF," he added, "the most potent macrophage activating factor ever discovered, which produces no side effect in humans." Dr. Yamamoto of the Socrates Institute for Therapeutic Immunology, Philadelphia and colleagues note that in vitro studies show that macrophages treated with GcMAF have a highly tumoricidal effect in mammary adenocarcinomas. To investigate whether the approach can be effective in humans, the researchers studied 16 non-anemic breast cancer patients who were given "a minute amount -- 100 nanograms per week -- of GcMAF," Dr. Yamamoto said. The researchers found that after 16 to 22 GcMAF doses, initially elevated nagalase levels, which reflect the tumor burden, fell to those found in healthy controls. Follow-up over 4 years showed that the level remained low and that there was no tumor recurrence, they report in the January 15th issue of The International Journal of Cancer. The findings, the team concludes, clearly demonstrate "the importance of focusing cancer immunotherapy on macrophage activation."
Note: Another article from the National Institutes of Health website covers an experiment with colorectal cancer patients using this amazing discovery. It states that "all colorectal cancer patients exhibited healthy control levels of the serum Nagalase activity, indicating eradication of metastatic tumor cells." Why isn't this getting more major press coverage?
Dutchman aims to break record in freezing bath
December 9, 2008, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
A Dutchman who is able to withstand freezing temperatures that would kill most people will submerge himself in icy water for almost two hours in a world record bid. Wim Hof, known as "The Ice Man", has spent the last 20 years testing his talent in the most extreme conditions from scaling mountain tops wearing nothing but a pair of shorts to swimming under sheets of ice [at] the north pole. Now he is set to break his own world record by submerging himself in a Plexiglas container filled with ice at temperatures as low as -20 degrees for more than 1 hour 45 minutes. Mr Hof discovered his unusual talent over 20 years ago during a stroll in the park in his native Holland. "I was really attracted to it. I went in, got rid of my clothes. Thirty seconds I was in and a tremendous good feeling when I came out and since then, I repeated it every day." It was the moment that Mr Hof knew that his body was different somehow: he was able to withstand fatally freezing temperatures. Mr Hof began a lifelong quest to see just how far his abilities would take him. In 2000, dressed only in a swimsuit, he dove under the ice at the North Pole and earned a Guinness World Record for the longest amount of time swimming under the ice. Whilst many scientists around the world find Mr Hof's ability an anomaly, Mr Hof says it is merely a case of mind over matter. Practising an ancient Himalayan meditation called "Tummo," or Inner Fire, Mr Hof says he can generate his own heat. Mr Hof now travels the world teaching the technique through his record attempts, lectures and talks.
Special note: For excellent information on the highly secretive North American Union, see Judicial Watch's excellent page available here. For a revealing five-minute clip on the risks of vaccines, click here. For those interested in new energy sources, you might enjoy a 30-second Dilbert video on this available here. For a very fun and thought-provoking nine-minute clip on evolution, click here. And for a highly revealing 10-minute clip on extreme news suppression endangering public health, click here.
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Executive Pay Loophole, Fed Secrecy, Torture Planned at the Top