Wall Street 'Too Big to Punish'
CIA Access to European Bank Accounts
Revealing News Articles
December 14, 2009
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on the SEC's lack of punishment of major Wall Street firms for cheating clients, the European Union's granting of complete access to private European bank accounts to the CIA, years of kidnappings by Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, 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. The most important sentences are highlighted. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Special note: To watch Gov. Jesse Ventura's amazing and powerful new episode "The 9/11 Conspiracy" on his TruTV program Conspiracy Theory, click here. For a CNN video clip titled, "Israel a Rogue State?", click here. In this clip Israeli scholars raise the very rarely mentioned fact of Israel's estimated 125 to 200 nuclear warheads which officially don't exist. And thanks so much to those of you who are using our amazon.com link to shop. At no extra cost to you, we are already earning some extra income. For others who might be interested, click here.
Are some Wall Street firms too big to punish?
December 10, 2009, Miami Herald/McClatchy News
Forget too big to fail. In the eyes of federal regulators, many Wall Street firms are too big to punish. During the past three years, some of the nation's largest financial firms have been accused by the government of cheating or misleading clients and ripping off tens of thousands of consumers of their investments. Despite these findings, these financial giants got, sometimes repeatedly, special exemptions from the Securities and Exchange Commission that have saved them from a regulatory death penalty that could have decimated their lucrative mutual fund businesses. Among the more than a dozen firms that have gotten these SEC get-out-of-jail cards since January 2007 are some of Wall Street's biggest, including Bank of America, Citigroup and American International Group. SEC rules permit corporate lawbreakers to apply for what are known as Section 9(c) waivers from one of the agency's harshest penalties – effectively shuttering the violator's mutual fund operations – but regulators never rejected any of these firms' applications. In fact, the last time the SEC's staff could recall a waiver being turned down was 1978. The SEC declined to comment in detail.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Brussels gives CIA the power to search UK bank records
December 6, 2009, Times of London
The CIA is to be given broad access to the bank records of millions of Britons under a European Union plan to fight terrorism. The Brussels agreement, which will come into force in two months' time, requires the 27 EU member states to grant requests for banking information made by the United States under its terrorist finance tracking programme. The EU said it had agreed that Europeans would be compelled to release the information to the CIA "as a matter of urgency". The records will be kept in a US database for five years before being deleted. Critics say the system is "lopsided" because there is no reciprocal arrangement under which the UK authorities can easily access the bank accounts of US citizens. They also say the plan to sift through cross-border and domestic EU bank accounts gives US intelligence more scope to consult our bank accounts than is granted to law enforcement agencies in the UK or the rest of Europe. This weekend civil liberties groups and privacy campaigners said the surveillance programme, introduced as an emergency measure in 2001, was being imposed on Britain without a proper debate. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "The massive scope for transferring personal information from Europe to the United States is extremely worrying, especially in the absence of public debate or parliamentary scrutiny either at EU or domestic level.
Note: For reports from major media sources on erosion of privacy by governments and corporations, click here.
Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids
December 11, 2009, New York Times
Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.'s most sensitive activities – clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials. The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called "snatch and grab" operations. Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield. The secret missions illuminate a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security company than government officials had acknowledged. Blackwater's ties to the C.I.A. have emerged in recent months, beginning with disclosures in The New York Times that the agency had hired the company as part of a program to assassinate leaders of Al Qaeda and to assist in the C.I.A.'s Predator drone program in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Note: After this report was published, the CIA announced it had terminated contracts with Blackwater. The reality is that many of Blackwater's services are provided under classified contracts, with both the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command, so the denial of "contracts" with Blackwater may be deceptive.
Rules for Congress Curb but Don't End Junkets
December 7, 2009, New York Times
Despite changes intended to curb Congressional junkets, some lawmakers and even their families continue to take trips hosted by private groups and companies that revel in their access to Washington power brokers. An examination by The New York Times of 1,150 trips shows that some of them bent or broke rules adopted in 2007 to limit corporate influence in Washington. Others exploited glaring loopholes in the guidelines, enacted with much fanfare after scandals involving the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The rules are filled with odd contradictions. Lobbyists themselves are not allowed to pay for trips, but their corporate clients can. And lobbyists are permitted to give huge sums to nonprofit groups that can sponsor travel. They can also travel to destinations and meet the lawmakers once they get there, though they cannot go on the same plane. Seizing on the loopholes, lobbyists and the companies that employ them are still underwriting trips by dozens of members of Congress, particularly those in the House, the Times review shows. The companies finance much of this travel indirectly, getting around the spirit of the rules by giving money to nonprofits, some of which seem to exist largely to sponsor trips. In fact, the rules may have had the unexpected effect of obscuring who is actually paying for a lawmaker's junket.
Note: For many reports from mainstream sources on government corruption, click here.
No ducking land mine treaty, Mr. President
December 6, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
This country hasn't used land mines in nearly 20 years. It no longer makes the indiscriminate killers nor provides them to allies. Why then is President Obama - off to Oslo this week to collect a Nobel Peace Prize - refusing to sign an international treaty to ban the shrapnel-spewing buried bombs? His refusal is ... shameful. The devices, which maim and kill for years after a conflict ends, caused more than 5,000 casualties last year in the world's poorest places such as Cambodia, Angola and Central America. Obama's stance puts him in line with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who both ducked a chance to put this country in line with more than 150 nations that have signed the treaty. Other notable non-signers: China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Cuba. Is this the company we want to keep? Sticking with land mines is a puzzler. The United States has a reported stockpile of 10 million devices, though it hasn't deployed any since the 1991 Gulf War. By signing the agreement, the Pentagon would hardly be giving up a mainstay weapon. It's time for Obama to go in a new direction. He should sign, not equivocate, on a treaty that Washington has avoided for over a decade. Here's a thought while typing up your Peace Prize acceptance speech, Mr. President: It's time to ban land mines.
Note: The refusal to sign the worldwide landmine ban treaty seems to be a puzzler, until you realize the US government is protecting the rights to profit of US arms corporations. For a retired Marine general's analysis of the profiteering that is the principal purpose for war, "War is a Racket,"click here.
A Cloud Still Hangs Over Bhopal
December 3, 2009, New York Times
This is the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster. [It] started one night when a pesticide plant owned by the American chemical giant Union Carbide leaked a cloud of poisonous gas. Before the sun rose, almost 4,000 human beings capable of love and anguish sank to their knees and did not get up. Half a million more fell ill, many with severely damaged lungs and eyes. An additional 15,000 people have since died from the aftereffects, and 10 to 30 people are said to die every month from exposure to the hundreds of tons of toxic waste left over in the former factory. But amazingly, the site still has not been cleaned up, because Dow Chemical, which since acquired Union Carbide, refuses to accept any responsibility. In 2001, the maker of napalm married the bane of Bhopal: Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide for $11.6 billion and promptly distanced itself from the disaster. Union Carbide and Dow were allowed to get away with it because of the international legal structures that protect multinationals from liability. Union Carbide sold its Indian subsidiary and pulled out of India. Warren Anderson, the Union Carbide chief executive at the time of the gas leak, lives in luxurious exile in the Hamptons, even though there's an international arrest warrant out for him for culpable homicide. The Indian government has yet to pursue an extradition request. Imagine if an Indian chief executive had jumped bail for causing an industrial disaster that killed tens of thousands of Americans. What are the chances he'd be sunning himself in Goa?
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Drugmakers' Payments Draw Heat
November 4, 2009, BusinessWeek magazine
A $112 million settlement involving alleged drug kickbacks that the Justice Dept. announced with the nation's largest nursing home pharmacy and a generic drug manufacturer on Nov. 3 is part of a wide-ranging investigation of suspected Medicaid fraud by the pharmaceutical industry. Critics say the continuing probe, which involves ... major drugmakers, highlights what they describe as an industry practice of paying money to outfits that provide drugs to consumers, in return for preferential treatment. Because those alleged payoffs have the effect of compromising patient care and driving up costs for government and private health insurers, cases like the settlement unsealed with Omnicare (OCR) in Covington, Ky., and IVAX Pharmaceuticals in Weston, Fla., could bolster opposition to the controversial deal the Obama Administration reached with the pharmaceutical industry to win its support for health-reform legislation. Many Democrats say the Administration should have asked for much bigger cost savings from drugmakers. Patrick Burns, a spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, a nonprofit Washington group that promotes whistleblower suits, says the Justice Dept. is backed up with pharmaceutical fraud cases. Since drugmakers offer so many similar products, he contends, they rely on kickbacks to give their products a market edge. "In the pharmaceutical industry, the business isn't selling the best drug, it's the best scheme of kickbacks to the prescriber."
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Up, up and away! Scientists levitate mice
September 9, 2009, MSNBC/Live Science
Scientists have now levitated mice using magnetic fields. Scientists working on behalf of NASA built a device to simulate variable levels of gravity. It consists of a superconducting magnet that generates a field powerful enough to levitate the water inside living animals, with a space inside warm enough at room temperature and large enough at 2.6 inches wide (6.6 cm) for tiny creatures to float comfortably in during experiments. Repeated levitation tests showed the mice, even when not sedated, could quickly acclimate to levitation inside the cage. The strong magnetic fields did not seem to have any negative impacts on the mice in the short term, and past studies have shown that rats did not suffer from adverse effects after 10 weeks of strong, non-levitating magnetic fields. The researchers also levitated water drops up to 2 inches wide (5 cm). This suggests the variable gravity simulator could be used to study how liquids behave under reduced gravity, such as how heat is transferred or how bubbles behave.
Note: Remember that secret government research projects are generally at least 10 years ahead of any public research.
Rise of sea levels is 'the greatest lie ever told'
March 28, 2009, The Telegraph
If there is one scientist who knows more about sea levels than anyone else in the world, it is the Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly chairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change. And the uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner, who for 35 years has been using every known scientific method to study sea levels all over the globe, is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story. Despite fluctuations down as well as up, "the sea is not rising," he says. "It hasn't risen in 50 years." If there is any rise this century it will "not be more than 10cm (four inches), with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10cm". The reason why Dr Mörner, formerly a Stockholm professor, is so certain that ... claims about sea level rise are 100 per cent wrong is that they are all based on computer model predictions, whereas his findings are based on "going into the field to observe what is actually happening in the real world". When running the International Commission on Sea Level Change, he launched a special project on the Maldives, whose leaders have for 20 years been calling for vast sums of international aid to stave off disaster. Six times he and his expert team visited the islands, to confirm that the sea has not risen for half a century.
Note: Though evidence shows that most glaciers have rapidly been melting over the past three decades, and ice in the Arctic Ocean reached a record low in 2007, there is strikingly little evidence this is causing any shift in sea level. The frequently quoted 1972 Club of Rome report "Limits to Growth" warned of a potential major rise in sea level wreaking havoc by the year 2000. Where is it? Why all the fear-mongering about rising sea levels when there is so little evidence of any rise? For many reports on global warming from reliable sources, click here.
White House wants suit against Yoo dismissed
December 8, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues. Yoo, a UC Berkeley law professor, worked for the Justice Department from 2001 to 2003. He was the author of a 2002 memo that said rough treatment of captives amounts to torture only if it causes the same level of pain as "organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death." The memo also said the president may have the power to authorize torture of enemy combatants. In the current lawsuit, Jose Padilla, now serving a 17-year sentence for conspiring to aid Islamic extremist groups, accuses Yoo of devising legal theories that justified what he claims was his illegal detention and abusive interrogation. The Justice Department represented Yoo until June, when a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the suit could proceed. The department then bowed out, citing unspecified conflicts, and was replaced by a government-paid private lawyer. Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was ... held for three years and eight months in a Navy brig, where, according to his suit, he was subjected to sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation and stress positions, kept for lengthy periods in darkness and blinding light, and threatened with death to himself and his family.
Note: For lots more on government attacks on civil liberties, click here.
Robber Returns Money to Store Clerk 6 Months Later
December 4, 2009, KTLA-TV Los Angeles
A grateful shoplifter has returned the favor to a New York convenience store owner who showed him compassion during an attempted robbery earlier this year. It all started in May when Mohammad Sohail was closing his Shirley Express convenience store, about 65 miles east of New York City. A man wielding a baseball bat came barging into the store and demanded money. Sohail had a rifle and quickly pointed it at the robber's face, forcing the man to drop the bat and fall to the ground. What the robber didn't know is that the gun was not loaded. Sohail says the man started to plead with him tearfully saying, "I'm sorry, I have no food. I have no money. My whole family is hungry. Don't call the police. Don't shoot me." The store owner felt bad for the man and gave him $40 and a loaf of bread. He went to get the man some milk but when he returned, Sohail says, the would-be-robber had already fled with the money and food. On Wednesday, the shoplifter made amends with a $50 bill and a thank you letter for saving him from a life of crime. In the letter, the man apologizes for his actions in May and said it was out of desperation to provide for his family. The man, whose identity remains unknown, also said his life has changed drastically and that Sohail's acts inspired him to become a "True Muslim."
Note: To watch a video of this most unusual act of compassion, click here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Weekend break for the global elite
May 25, 2001, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Global power-brokers have a penchant for siting their get-togethers in inaccessible places. Since Seattle 1999, Washington and Prague 2000, the calendar of global get-togethers has attracted lively anti-globalisation demonstrations. Davos this year had unusually tight security to try and keep protestors well away, leading to allegations of unnecessary heavy-handedness by the Swiss police. This weekend, it is the turn of Bilderberg, perhaps the most secretive (or as the organisers would prefer to claim, discrete) club for the global elite. It holds its weekend on Stenungsund, an island off the Swedish west coast. The group was created by Denis (now Lord) Healey, Joseph Retinger, David Rockefeller and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands (a former SS officer) - the group aimed to [bring] together financiers, industrialists, politicians and opinion formers; the press have never been allowed access. There is a growing perception that globalisation is a process which is being managed for the benefit of a small proportion of the planet's residents and at terrible cost to many more. There is a perception of illegitimacy about unaccountable corporate power and governments elected on low turnout: sooner or later global power-brokers will have to recognise this crisis of legitimacy, and engage with protestors rather than run away from them.
Who pulls the strings?
March 10, 2001, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
So this is how it works. A tiny, shoe-string central office in Holland decides each year which country will host the next meeting. Each country has two steering committee members. They call up Bilderberg-friendly global corporations, such as Xerox or Heinz or Fiat or Barclays or Nokia, which donate the hundreds of thousands of pounds needed. They do not accept unsolicited donations from non-Bilderberg corporations. Nobody can buy their way into a Bilderberg meeting, although many corporations have tried. Then they decide who to invite - who seems to be a "Bilderberg person". The notion of a Bilderberg person hasn't changed since the earliest days, back in 1954. The guests are expressly asked not to give interviews to journalists. There are two morning sessions and two afternoon sessions. While furiously denying that they secretly ruled the world, my Bilderberg interviewees did admit to me that international affairs had, from time to time, been influenced by these sessions. This is how Denis Healey described a Bilderberg person to me: "To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Bilderberg is a way of bringing together politicians, industrialists, financiers and journalists. Politics should involve people who aren't politicians."
Note: For lots more on the highly secretive Bilderberg meeting from two later BBC News article, click here. For many other revealing articles from major media reports on secret societies and secret meetings of the most rich and powerful people in our world, click here.
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