American Czarism Versus Democracy, Ponzi Scheme Never Investigated, Detainee Tortured
Revealing News Articles
January 24, 2009
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the trend toward American Czarism and its threat to democracy, the lack of investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff, a senior Bush administration official's finding that a Guantanamo detainee was tortured, 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.
Madoff's fund may not have made a single trade
January 15, 2009, Reuters News
Bernie Madoff's investment fund may never have executed a single trade, industry officials say, suggesting detailed statements mailed to investors each month may have been an elaborate mirage in a $50 billion fraud. An industry-run regulator for brokerage firms said ... there was no record of Madoff's investment fund placing trades through his brokerage operation. That means Madoff either placed trades through other brokerage firms, a move industry officials consider unlikely, or he was not executing trades at all. 'Our exams showed no evidence of trading on behalf of the investment advisor, no evidence of any customer statements being generated by the broker-dealer,' said Herb Perone, spokesman for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Each month, Madoff sent out elaborate statements of trades conducted by his broker-dealer. There also appear to be discrepancies between monthly statements sent to investors and the actual prices at which the stocks traded on Wall Street. To some, the numbers did not add up. About 10 years ago, Harry Markopolos, then chief investment officer at Rampart Investment Management Co in Boston, asked risk management consultant Daniel diBartolomeo to run Madoff's numbers after Markopolos tried to emulate Madoff's strategy. DiBartolomeo ran regression analyses and various calculations, but failed to reconcile them. For a decade, Markopolos raised the issue with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has come under fire in Congress in recent weeks for failing to act on Markopolos's warnings.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.
Eight Years of Madoffs
January 11, 2009, New York Times
Three days after the world learned that $50 billion may have disappeared in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, The Times led its front page of Dec. 14 with the revelation of another $50 billion rip-off. This time the vanished loot belonged to American taxpayers. That was our collective contribution to the $117 billion spent (as of mid-2008) on Iraq reconstruction – a sinkhole of corruption, cronyism, incompetence and outright theft that epitomized Bush management at home and abroad. The source for this news was a near-final draft of an as-yet-unpublished 513-page federal history of this nation-building fiasco. The document was assembled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction – led by a Bush appointee, no less. It pinpoints, among other transgressions, a governmental Ponzi scheme concocted to bamboozle Americans into believing they were accruing steady dividends on their investment in a "new" Iraq. The $50 billion ... pales next to other sums that remain unaccounted for in the Bush era, from the $345 billion in lost tax revenue due to unpoliced offshore corporate tax havens to the far-from-transparent disposition of some $350 billion in Wall Street bailout money. In the old Pat Moynihan phrase, the Bush years have "defined deviancy down" in terms of how low a standard of ethical behavior we now tolerate as the norm from public officials.
U.S. moving toward czarism, away from democracy
January 18, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Every patriot should be concerned about the intensifying efforts to supplant democracy with something far more authoritarian. Call it American czarism. Czars - i.e., policymakers granted extralegal, cross-agency powers - have become increasingly prevalent in our government over the past century. Until now, this slow lurch toward czarism has primarily reflected the ancient, almost innate human desire for power and paternalistic leadership. In recent years, this culture of "presidentialism," as Vanderbilt Professor Dana Nelson calls it, has justified the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretaps and a radical theory of the "unitary executive" that aims to provide a jurisprudential rationale for total White House supremacy over all government. But only in the past three months has American czarism metastasized from a troubling slow-growth tumor to a potentially deadly cancer. In October, Congress relinquished its most basic oversight powers and gave Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson sole authority to dole out billions of bailout dollars to Wall Street. At the same time, it did nothing when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke used fiats to commit $5 trillion worth of new money, loan guarantees and loosened lending requirements ... all while he refused to tell the public who is receiving the largesse. Indeed, the Economist magazine's prediction that the "economic crisis may increase the attractiveness of the Chinese model of authoritarian capitalism" is coming true right here at home, as we seem ever more intent on replicating - rather than resisting - that model.
Note: For many revealing reports on the realities underlying the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official
January 14, 2009, Washington Post
The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national ... interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition." "We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution. Military prosecutors said in November that they would seek to refile charges against Qahtani, 30, based on subsequent interrogations that did not employ harsh techniques. But Crawford, who dismissed war crimes charges against him in May 2008, said in the interview that she would not allow the prosecution to go forward. The interrogation ... was so intense that Qahtani had to be hospitalized twice at Guantanamo with bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate falls below 60 beats a minute and which in extreme cases can lead to heart failure and death. At one point Qahtani's heart rate dropped to 35 beats per minute, the record shows.
Note: For many revealing reports on torture and other war crimes committed in the War on Terrorism and in Iraq and Afghanistan, click here.
Cheney: A VP With Unprecedented Power
January 15, 2009, NPR All Things Considered
President Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, is like no other in American history. Before Cheney, discussion about the vice presidency focused on how to make the office stronger, more effective. Not any more. "Vice President Cheney has been the most powerful vice president that we've ever had," said Joel Goldstein, author of The Modern American Vice Presidency. In the first term, Cheney reshaped national security law, expanded the prerogatives of the executive branch and orchestrated secret, warrantless domestic surveillance, circumventing a court set up by Congress specifically to oversee such surveillance. He ... played a major role in persuading President Bush to go to war against Iraq. On the domestic front, he screened potential Supreme Court nominees, presided over the budget, led the selection of personnel from Cabinet officers to key lower-level positions. Cheney assumed the role of chief operating officer for a president who disdained details. Bush was the decider, but Cheney, by limiting options and sometimes suppressing information, often framed the decision. Washington Post reporter Bart Gellman, author of Angler, an extraordinary book on the Cheney vice presidency, reports that Cheney was a ... skilled bureaucratic infighter [who] drove policy on the issues he cared about. Nothing better defines Cheney's influence than his domination of policy on the war on terror, setting up Guantanamo, getting waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques authorized, and circumventing established laws on domestic surveillance.
Note: Dick Cheney used secrecy as his principal means to control government policy -- secrecy not just from the public but even from much of the Bush/Cheney administration. For lots more on government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.
Let's face it, soon Big Brother will have no trouble recognising you
January 13, 2009, Times of London
This is the year when automated face-recognition finally goes mainstream, and it's about time we considered its social and political implications. Researchers are developing sharply accurate scanners that monitor faces in 3D and software that analyses skin texture to turn tiny wrinkles, blemishes and spots into a numerical formula. The strongest face-recognition algorithms are now considered more accurate than most humans - and already the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers have held discussions about the possibility of linking such systems with automatic car-numberplate recognition and public-transport databases. Join everything together via the internet, and voilą - the nation's population, down to the individual Times reader, can be conveniently and automatically monitored in real time. So let's understand this: governments and police are planning to implement increasingly accurate surveillance technologies that are unnoticeable, cheap, pervasive, ubiquitous, and searchable in real time. And private businesses, from bars to workplaces, will also operate such systems, whose data trail may well be sold on or leaked to third parties - let's say, insurance companies that have an interest in knowing about your unhealthy lifestyle, or your ex-spouse who wants evidence that you can afford higher maintenance payments.
Note: For disturbing reports on threats to privacy from major media sources, click here.
US veterans sue CIA for alleged drug and mind control experiments
January 12, 2009, The Guardian/McClatchy News
It was 1968, and Frank Rochelle was 20 years old and fresh out of Army boot camp when he saw notices posted around his base in Virginia asking for volunteers to test uniforms and equipment. That might be a good break after the harsh weeks of boot camp, he thought, and signed up. Instead of equipment testing, though, the Onslow county, North Carolina, native found himself in a bizarre, CIA-funded drug testing and mind-control programme, according to a lawsuit that he and five other veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America filed last week. The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco against the US department of defence and the CIA. The plaintiffs seek to force the government to contact all the subjects of the experiments and give them proper healthcare. In 2003 the US department of veterans affairs released a pamphlet that said nearly 7,000 soldiers had been involved and more than 250 chemicals used on them, including hallucinogens such as LSD and PCP as well as biological and chemical agents. Lasting from 1950 to 1975, the experiments took place at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. According to the lawsuit, some of the volunteers were even implanted with electrical devices in an effort to control their behaviour. Rochelle, 60, [said] there were about two dozen volunteers when he was taken to Edgewood. Once there, they were asked to volunteer a second time, for drug testing. They were told that the experiments were harmless.
Note: For a powerful summary of the decades-long mind control experiment program conducted by the CIA and other US government agencies, click here.
Oil market manipulation alleged
January 10, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Accusations that a big oil company is trying to manipulate California's gasoline market are swirling around a Bakersfield refinery whose owner filed for bankruptcy late last month. Flying J, owner of the Big West refinery, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Dec. 22 and reported that it was closing the plant for maintenance. But a memo written Thursday by a union official at the plant said "the refinery is out of Crude oil" and blamed Shell Oil for closing a pipeline that brings crude into the plant, effectively starving it of raw material. Shell used to own the refinery and threatened to close it in 2004, saying it wasn't profitable. California politicians, however, suspected Shell was trying to reduce the state's gasoline supplies to drive up the price, and they pressured Shell to sell the plant instead. Those suspicions resurfaced Friday, with Sen. Barbara Boxer asking California Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate the union memo's accusations. "The Big West Refinery supplies our state with 2 percent of its gasoline and 6 percent of its diesel fuel, and in these tough economic times, Californians can't afford high gas prices stemming from refinery closures," Boxer, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to Brown, who said he would "take a hard look at the situation." With the refinery closed, Shell has had to scramble to find other sources of gasoline for Shell gas stations in the Bakersfield area.
Science closing in on cloak of invisibility
January 15, 2009, Washington Post/Associated Press
They can't match Harry Potter yet, but scientists are moving closer to creating a real cloak of invisibility. Researchers at Duke University, who developed a material that can "cloak" an item from detection by microwaves, report that they have expanded the number of wavelengths they can block. Last August the team reported they had developed so-called metamaterials that could deflect microwaves around a three-dimensional object, essentially making it invisible to the waves. The system works like a mirage, where heat causes the bending of light rays and cloaks the road ahead behind an image of the sky. The researchers report in ... the journal Science that they have developed a series of mathematical commands to guide the development of more types of metamaterials to cloak objects from an increasing range of electromagnetic waves. "The new device can cloak a much wider spectrum of waves -- nearly limitless -- and will scale far more easily to infrared and visible light," senior researcher David R. Smith said. The new cloak is made up of more than 10,000 individual pieces of fiberglass arranged in parallel rows. The mathematical formulas are used to determine the shape and placement of each piece to deflect the electromagnetic waves. The research was supported by Raytheon Missile Systems, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, InnovateHan Technology, the National Science Foundation of China, the National Basic Research Program of China and National Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, China.
Note: Isn't it interesting that the US Air Force and a major US defense corporation are joining in a research venture with Chinese corporations and government agencies? Also, remember that secret military projects are usually at least 10 years in advance of anything announced to the public.
Hack your brain
January 11, 2009, Boston Globe
Do you ever want to change the way you see the world? Wouldn't it be fun to hallucinate on your lunch break? Although we typically associate such phenomena with powerful drugs like LSD or mescaline, it's easy to fling open the doors of perception without them: All it takes is a basic understanding of how the mind works. Much of what we think of as being out there actually comes from in here, and is a byproduct of how the brain processes sensation. In recent years scientists have come up with a number of simple tricks that expose the artifice of our senses, so that we end up perceiving what we know isn't real. [Examples include:] The Ganzfield Procedure: Begin by turning the radio to a station playing static. Then lie down on the couch and tape a pair of halved ping-pong balls over your eyes. Within minutes, you should begin to experience a bizarre set of sensory distortions. Purkinje Lights: Jan Purkinje, a founding father of modern neuroscience stumbled upon a reliable hallucination as a child. First he closed his eyes (very important!), then tilted his head to face the sun and moved his hand quickly back and foth in front of his closed eyes. After a few seconds, Purkinje reported the appearance of "beautiful figures," which gradually became more intricate. The hallucinations are a side effect of our need to always make sense of reality.
Note: For exciting insights into the nature of reality from reliable sources, click here.
Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months
January 9, 2009, Fox News
A new study from the National Academy of Sciences outlines grim possibilities on Earth for a worst-case scenario solar storm. Damage to power grids and other communications systems could be catastrophic ... with effects leading to a potential loss of governmental control of the situation. The prediction is based in part on a major solar storm in 1859 that caused telegraph wires to short out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires. It was perhaps the worst in the past 200 years ... and with the advent of modern power grids and satellites, much more is at risk. "A contemporary repetition of the  event would cause significantly more extensive (and possibly catastrophic) social and economic disruptions," the researchers conclude. Modern power grids are so interconnected that a big space storm ... could cause a cascade of failures that would sweep across the United States, cutting power to 130 million people or more in this country alone. Such widespread power outages ... would affect other vital systems. "Impacts would be felt on interdependent infrastructures with, for example, potable water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; immediate or eventual loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, transportation, fuel resupply and so on," the report states. Outages could take months to fix, the researchers say.
Note: Read more about powerful solar storms here. If sturdy telegraph wires shorted out in 1859, what do you think might happen to computers and other electrical devices now if a storm of this magnitude were to hit again?
Key Articles From Years Past
Prozac, used by 40m people, does not work say scientists
February 26, 2008, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Prozac, the bestselling antidepressant taken by 40 million people worldwide, does not work and nor do similar drugs in the same class, according to a major review released today. The study examined all available data on the drugs, including results from clinical trials that the manufacturers chose not to publish at the time. The trials compared the effect on patients taking the drugs with those given a placebo or sugar pill. When all the data was pulled together, it appeared that patients had improved - but those on placebo improved just as much as those on the drugs. The only exception is in the most severely depressed patients, according to the authors - Prof Irving Kirsch from the department of psychology at Hull University and colleagues in the US and Canada. But that is probably because the placebo stopped working so well, they say, rather than the drugs having worked better. "Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed," says Kirsch. "This study raises serious issues that need to be addressed surrounding drug licensing and how drug trial data is reported." The paper, published today in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) Medicine, is likely to have a significant impact on the prescribing of the drugs. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence already recommends that counselling should be tried before doctors prescribe antidepressants.
Note: For many key reports on health issues from reliable sources, click here.
Special note: If you want to see some truly wild guys using wingsuits to fly past amazing cliffs, click here for an exciting four-minute clip. Two watch a powerfully revealing two-minute clip from the Fox Channel program "Rescue Me", with Daniel Sunjata laying out some serious 9/11 truth, click here.
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American Czarism Versus Democracy, Ponzi Scheme Never Investigated, Detainee Tortured