Kucinich's UFO Sighting, Candidates on War Crimes Court, NASA Releases Air Safety Survey
Revealing News Articles
January 5, 2008
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on Dennis Kucinich's remarkable UFO sighting, the differing positions of US presidential canditates on the international war crimes court, NASA's release of a major air traffic safety survey, 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.
What Kucinich Saw: Witnesses Describe His Close Encounter
January 2, 2008, Wall Street Journal
What exactly did Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich see hovering above actress Shirley MacLaine's house 25 years ago? Now, after keeping quiet about the incident for a quarter of a century, the two people who say they were at Mr. Kucinich's side that evening have come forward to describe an event which they say left them convinced that there's intelligent life in outer space. "At no time did I feel afraid, even though I felt very small," says ... Paul Costanzo. "I sensed that I was in the presence of a greater technology and intelligence." The close encounter ... took place in September 1982 at Ms. MacLaine's former home in Graham, Wash. [Kucinich] ... lived there for the better part of a year. Also in residence was Mr. Costanzo, a Juilliard-trained trumpet player and jujitsu black belt, who worked as Ms. MacLaine's assistant, personal trainer and bodyguard. Mr. Costanzo's girlfriend at the time ... was visiting when the UFO incident took place. The day was strange from the start. For hours, Mr. Kucinich, Mr. Costanzo and his companion noticed a high-pitched sound. "There was a sense that something extraordinary was happening all day," says the girlfriend. Mr. Kucinich spotted a light in the distance, to the left of Mount Rainier. What they saw in the far distance, according to both witnesses, was a hovering light, which soon divided into two, and then three. After a few minutes, the lights moved closer and it became apparent that they were actually three charcoal-gray, triangular craft, flying in a tight wedge. The craft approached to within 200 yards, suspended over the field just beyond the swimming pool. Both witnesses say it emitted a quiet, throbbing sound -- nothing like an airplane engine. The craft held steady in midair, for perhaps a minute, then sped away, Mr. Costanzo says. "Nothing had landed," he says. "No strange beings had disembarked. No obvious messages were beamed down. When they were completely out of sight, we all looked at each other disbelieving what we had seen."
Note: This article amazingly was published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal!
Presidential candidates diverge on U.S. joining war crimes court
January 2, 2008, San Francisco Chronicle
The International Criminal Court isn't discussed much in the presidential campaign, but few issues are more revealing of a candidate's perspective on the United States' legal and political relations with the rest of the world. The court was established in 2002 to deal with cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Headquartered in the Dutch city of The Hague, it was conceived as a permanent successor to the Nuremberg tribunals formed to try Nazi leaders after World War II. It now has 105 members, including virtually all current U.S. allies, but not the United States itself. President Bush has attacked the court relentlessly, saying it could subject Americans to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. He has renounced the 1998 treaty that created the court, pressed other nations to disregard it, and signed legislation - nicknamed the "Hague Invasion Act" by critics - authorizing military action to free any citizen of the United States or an allied nation held for trial by the court. The presidential candidates ... took differing positions in the only congressional vote on the issue, the 2002 legislation allowing military action to free prisoners at The Hague. Clinton and McCain voted for the bill, as did then-Sen. John Edwards, who now favors U.S. membership in the court. Three other Democrats, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Sens. Joseph Biden and Chris Dodd, voted against the measure. International law scholars say the candidates' positions are illuminating because the disagreements over the court represent some of the most critical foreign-policy questions in the post-Cold War world - U.S. autonomy and its limits, the role of international law and the multinational bodies that enforce it, and the balance between power and accountability. "The court can be seen as a bellwether of their approach to the rule of law and international institutions," said Michael Scharf, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University.
Note: Do you think the current administration might have something to fear here?
Redacted Air-Traffic Safety Survey Released
January 1, 2008, Washington Post
NASA yesterday released partial results of a massive air-safety survey of airline pilots who repeatedly complained about fatigue, problems with air-traffic controllers, airport security, and the layouts of runways and taxiways. Reacting to criticism about its initial decision to withhold the database for fear of harming airlines' bottom lines, NASA released a heavily redacted version of the survey on its Web site. But the ... agency published the information in a way that made it difficult to analyze. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told reporters ... that the agency had no plans to study the database for trends. He said NASA conducted the survey only to determine whether gathering information from pilots in such a way was worthwhile. Despite the lack of analysis by NASA scientists, Griffin said there was nothing in the database that should concern air travelers. "It's hard for me to see any data the traveling public would care about or ought to care about," he said. "We were asked to release the data, and we did." The NASA database, which included more than 10,000 pages of information, was based on extensive telephone polling of airline and general aviation pilots about incidents ranging from engine failures and bird strikes to fires onboard planes and encounters with severe turbulence. The survey cost about $11 million and was conducted from 2001 to 2004. The survey included narrative responses by pilots, but NASA released the information in such a way as to make it impossible to determine details of what the pilots were describing. NASA had refused to release the data several months ago in response to a request by the Associated Press, saying publication might affect the public's confidence in the airlines. NASA was roundly criticized by members of Congress and aviation safety experts for refusing to publish the survey.
Military relying more on drones, mostly in Iraq
January 1, 2008, MSNBC/Associated Press
The military's reliance on unmanned aircraft that can watch, hunt and sometimes kill insurgents has soared to more than 500,000 hours in the air, largely in Iraq, The Associated Press has learned. And new Defense Department figures obtained by The AP show that the Air Force more than doubled its monthly use of drones between January and October, forcing it to take pilots out of the air and shift them to remote flying duty to meet part of the demand. The dramatic increase in the development and use of drones across the armed services reflects what will be an even more aggressive effort over the next 25 years, according to the new report. Pentagon officials said that even as troops begin to slowly come home this year, the use of Predators, Global Hawks, Shadows and Ravens will not likely slow. "I think right now the demand for the capability that the unmanned system provides is only increasing," said Army Col. Bob Quackenbush, deputy director for Army Aviation. "Even as the surge ends, I suspect the deployment of the unmanned systems will not go down, particularly for larger systems." About 120 Air Force pilots were recently transferred to staff the drones to keep pace with demands, the Air Force said. Some National Guard members were also called up to staff the flights. And more will be doing that in the coming months, as the Air Force adds bases where pilots can remotely fly the aircraft. One key reason for the increase is that U.S. forces in Iraq grew from 15 combat brigades to 20 over the spring and early summer, boosting troop totals from roughly 135,000 to more than 165,000. Slowly over the next six months, five brigades are being pulled out of Iraq that will not be replaced, as part of a drawdown announced by the administration. The increased military operations all across Iraq last summer triggered greater use of the drones and an escalating call for more of the systems.
UFO awareness group really isn't so far out
December 31, 2007, Dallas Morning News
Anyone who takes the topic seriously knows about what they call the "giggle factor." So when Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was asked in a recent debate about his belief in unidentified flying objects, the North Texas members of Mutual UFO Network weren't surprised when it turned into a political punch line. On the other hand, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has also addressed UFOs – seriously – on the campaign trail. And last month, a group of highly credentialed aviation experts from around the world called for more official investigations of UFOs. Getting their cause into the news – and not just as a joke – is welcome to people who have felt pushed to the fringes for a long time. "There is a growing awareness and willingness on the part of the public to take this seriously," said Ken Cherry, the Texas MUFON director. Is the secret that the ufologists of MUFON have been chasing for decades about to come out? "We don't think it's a secret. Just some people don't believe it," said Terry Groff, webmaster for the local MUFON group and a trained UFO investigator. "I really haven't made my mind up," said MUFON regional director James Shatley. "The preponderance of evidence is that either we have discovered incredible technology, or there are some other races that have conquered time and space and figured out how to get here." Mr. Kucinich said he saw a UFO 25 years ago while visiting Shirley MacLaine's home in Washington. Mr. Richardson pledged to reopen the famous case of aliens reportedly crashing at Roswell in 1947. The aviation experts calling for more investigation included a deputy chief of staff from the Belgian Air Force, the retired chief of Accidents and Investigations for the Federal Aviation Administration, a pilot with the Chilean Aviation Army, an Air France captain, a general in the Iranian Air Force and a representative from the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense.
Note: For a powerful summary of UFO evidence presented by highly credible government and military professionals, click here.
Internet Access Is Only Prerequisite For College Classes
December 31, 2007, Washington Post
Berkeley's on YouTube. American University's hoping to get on iTunes. George Mason professors have created an online research tool, a virtual filing cabinet for scholars. And with a few clicks on Yale's Web site, anyone can watch one of the school's most popular philosophy professors sitting cross-legged on his desk, talking about death. Studying on YouTube won't get you a college degree, but many universities are using technology to offer online classes and open up archives. Sure, some schools have been charging for distance-learning classes for a long time, but this is different: These classes are free. At a time when many top schools are expensive and difficult to get into, some say it's a return to the broader mission of higher education: to offer knowledge to everyone. And tens of millions are reaching for it. For schools, the courses can bring benefits, luring applicants, spreading the university's name, impressing donors, keeping alumni engaged. As the technology evolves, the classes are becoming far more engaging to a broader public. With better, faster technology such as video, what once was bare-bones and hard-core -- lecture notes aimed at grad students and colleagues -- is now more ambitious and far more accessible. Some professors try this on their own, on a small scale. Schools are feeling their way, experimenting with different technologies; some use Utah State University's eduCommons on the Web; some post to free sites such as YouTube and the Apple university site iTunes U. Other schools have plunged right in: MIT has 1,800 classes online, virtually the entire curriculum free and open to all. "The idea was to have a broad impact on education worldwide and make a statement at a time when many schools were launching for-profit distance-learning ventures," Steve Carson of MIT OpenCourseWare said, "trying to redefine the role of the institution in the digital age."
For Modern Kids, 'Philanthropy' Is No Grown-Up Word
December 30, 2007, Washington Post
In lieu of presents at her 12th birthday party this year, Maddie Freed of Potomac asked her friends to bring money, and she raised $800 for Children's Hospital. Eight-year-old Jenny Hoekman saves a third of what she makes walking dogs, and this month the Takoma Park girl donated it to help her Brownie troop sponsor an immigrant family. And in Club Penguin, a popular online game club for the elementary school set, more than 2.5 million kids gave their virtual earnings to charities in a contest this month. In response, the site's founders are giving $1 million to charities based on the children's preferences. Young children and teenagers across the nation are getting involved in philanthropy more than ever, according to research and nonprofit experts, who credit new technologies with the rise of the trend. As young people increasingly become exposed to and connected with the problems of the world via the Internet and television, experts said, parents are finding new ways to instill in their children the value of giving. At the same time, technology is democratizing philanthropy so giving is not only easier for people of all ages and means, but also trendier. And children are starting to organize at the grass-roots level to give. "We've globalized technology, we've globalized commerce, but we haven't globalized compassion," said Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, a nonprofit network of kids helping kids. "But we're seeing a generation of kids, ages 10 to 15, who are aware of global problems, and they're really searching to help. The next step is to help kids move from that awareness to action." Eileen Barber, 10, of Charlottesville said she gave her Club Penguin coins to the World Wildlife Fund to help animals. "It sort of seemed like they have a lot more needs than us," Barber said. "With global warming and stuff, I figured it would be nicer to look beyond just myself."
Freecycle turns trash to treasure
December 29, 2007, Associated Press
When Laura Gernell heard about a place where people gave away perfectly good things to strangers – no money changing hands, no questions asked – she figured it was too good to be true. But husband Ronald had lost his job as a truck driver and she was temporarily unemployed, at home in a rented, unfurnished apartment with her infant son. With nothing to lose, she joined The Freecycle Network, a Web-based community swap program, and asked if anyone had a sofa to spare. "I wasn't looking to furnish my whole apartment," says the 32-year-old mom. "I was just looking for the basics, just something to sit on." Three people e-mailed with offers, and Gernell used the sofa from that day in 2004 until last summer, when the springs broke. Today she runs West Virginia's largest Freecycle group, 2,100 members strong. "It just has completely floored me, the generosity of people," says Gernell. "Especially in West Virginia because West Virginia is considered one of the poorest states in the nation. But people are very generous. It's amazing." Freecycle is a global recycling phenomenon. Since it started in Arizona in May 2003, it has grown to more than 4 million members in more than 4,100 cities [all over the world]. It boasts of keeping more than 300 million tons of trash out of landfills every day. There are, says founder and executive director Deron Beal, as many heartwarming stories as there are groups: the American Indian tribe that collected used prom dresses for girls in need; the Hurricane Katrina evacuee who furnished a new home; [and] the 98-year-old man who collects and assembles bicycle parts, then gives what he's built to children. "It's just all sorts of countless acts of random kindness," says Beal. Freecycle is built on principles that work: One person can make a difference. Giving is better than receiving. One person's trash is another's treasure. Commit an act of kindness and it will be returned.
The Water's a Must, but the Bottle Could Be Trouble
December 25, 2007, Washington Post
Catching his breath at a fitness club, Matt McHugh took a gulp of water from his trusty Nalgene plastic bottle and pondered the idea of switching to an alternative made of glass, stainless steel or another kind of plastic. Worries about a hormone-mimicking chemical used in the bottles' construction led a major Canadian retailer to remove polycarbonate containers made by Nalgene and other manufacturers from store shelves in early December. Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op is waiting for Canadian health regulators to finish a preliminary review in May before it reconsiders restocking its 11 stores with the reusable, transparent bottles made with bisphenol A, or BPA. There is little dispute that the chemical can disrupt the hormonal system, but scientists differ markedly on whether very low doses found in food and beverage containers can be harmful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sides with the plastics industry that BPA-based products do not pose a health risk. But an expert panel of researchers reported at a U.S. government conference that the potential for BPA to affect human health is a concern and that more research is needed. The panel cited evidence that Americans have levels of BPA higher than those found to cause harm in lab animals. Patagonia, an outdoor-gear retailer based in Ventura, Calif., pulled polycarbonate water bottles from its 40 stores worldwide in December 2005 and, a month later, the Whole Foods Markets chain stopped selling polycarbonate baby bottles and children's drinking cups. "Given there are comparably priced, greener alternatives, I'm quite convinced that within a couple of years, we're going to see the end of this chemical in consumer products," said Rick Smith, executive director of Toronto-based Environmental Defense Canada.
Note: For many revealing major-media reports on health issues, click here.
Slave labour that shames America
December 19, 2007, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Three Florida fruit-pickers, held captive and brutalised by their employer for more than a year, finally broke free of their bonds by punching their way through the ventilator hatch of the van in which they were imprisoned. Once outside, they dashed for freedom. When they found sanctuary one recent Sunday morning, all bore the marks of heavy beatings to the head and body. One of the pickers had a nasty, untreated knife wound on his arm. Police would learn later that another man had his hands chained behind his back every night to prevent him escaping, leaving his wrists swollen. The migrants were not only forced to work in sub-human conditions but mistreated and forced into debt. They were locked up at night and had to pay for sub-standard food. If they took a shower with a garden hose or bucket, it cost them $5. Their story of slavery and abuse in the fruit fields of sub-tropical Florida threatens to lift the lid on some appalling human rights abuses in America today. Between December and May, Florida produces virtually the entire US crop of field-grown fresh tomatoes. Fruit picked here in the winter months ends up on the shelves of supermarkets and is also served in the country's top restaurants and in tens of thousands of fast-food outlets. But conditions in the state's fruit-picking industry range from straightforward exploitation to forced labour. Tens of thousands of men, women and children – excluded from the protection of America's employment laws and banned from unionising – work their fingers to the bone for rates of pay which have hardly budged in 30 years. Until now, even appeals from the former president Jimmy Carter to help raise the wages of fruit-pickers have gone unheeded. Fruit-pickers, who typically earn about $200 (£100) a week, are part of an unregulated system designed to keep food prices low and the plates of America's overweight families piled high.
Report Says That the Rich Are Getting Richer Faster, Much Faster
December 15, 2007, New York Times
The increase in incomes of the top 1 percent of Americans from 2003 to 2005 exceeded the total income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans, data in a new report by the Congressional Budget Office shows. The poorest fifth of households had total income of $383.4 billion in 2005, while just the increase in income for the top 1 percent came to $524.8 billion, a figure 37 percent higher. The total income of the top 1.1 million households was $1.8 trillion, or 18.1 percent of the total income of all Americans, up from 14.3 percent of all income in 2003. The total 2005 income of the three million individual Americans at the top was roughly equal to that of the bottom 166 million Americans, analysis of the report showed. Earlier reports, based on tax returns, showed that in 2005 the top 10 percent, top 1 percent and fractions of the top 1 percent enjoyed their greatest share of income since 1928 and 1929. Much of the increase at the top reflected the rebound of the stock market after its sharp drop in 2000, economists from across the political spectrum said. About half of the income going to the top 1 percent comes from investments and business. In addition, Congress in 2003 cut taxes on long-term capital gains and most dividends. Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington who characterizes the Bush administration's policies as YOYO economics, based on You (Are) On Your Own, said the differences in income growth explained why so many Americans have told pollsters that they are feeling squeezed. "It is meaningless to middle- and low-income families to say we have a great economy because their economy looks so much different than folks at the top of the scale because this is an economy that is working, but not working for everyone."
Note: For numerous other reliable media reports on worsening income inequality, click here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Blind, Wheelchair-Bound Student Doesn't Fail to Inspire
November 10, 2006, ABC News
When I met 18-year old Patrick Henry Hughes, I knew he was musically talented. I had been told so, had read that he was very able for someone his age and who had been blind and crippled since birth. Patrick's eyes are not functional; his body and legs are stunted. He is in a wheelchair. When we first shook hands, his fingers seemed entirely too thick to be nimble. So when he offered to play the piano for me and his father rolled his wheelchair up to the baby grand, I confess that I thought to myself, "Well, this will be sweet. He has overcome so much. How nice that he can play piano." But then Patrick put his hands to the keyboard, and his fingers began to race across it -- the entire span of it, his fingers moving up and back and over and across the keys so quickly and intricately that my fully-functional eyesight couldn't keep up with them. I was stunned. The music his hands drew from that piano was so lovely and lyrical and haunting, so rich and complex and beyond anything I had imagined he would play that there was nothing I could say. All I could do was listen. "God made me blind and didn't give me the ability to walk. I mean, big deal." Patrick said, smiling. "He gave me the talent to play piano and trumpet and all that good stuff." This is Patrick's philosophy in life, and he wants people to know it. "I'm the kind of person that's always going to fight till I win," he said. Patrick also attends the University of Louisville and plays trumpet in the marching band. The band director suggested it, and Patrick and his father, Patrick John Hughes, who have faced tougher challenges together, decided "Why not?" "Don't tell us we can't do something," Patrick's father added, with a chuckle. He looks at Patrick with a mixture of love and loyalty and admiration, something not always seen in the eyes of a father when he gazes at his son. "I've told him before. He's my hero."
Special note: For an amazing clip on Norway that did not make it into Michael Moore's revealing film "Sicko," click here. And for a powerful 20-minute educational clip on consumerism that is spreading rapidly around the Internet, don't miss The Power of Stuff available here.
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Kucinich's UFO Sighting, Candidates on War Crimes Court, NASA Releases Air Safety Survey