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Is bin Laden Dead? Lockerbie Evidence Questions, Dangerous Chemicals Secret by Law
Revealing News Articles
January 11, 2010

Dear friends,

Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on whether Osama Bin Laden (OBL) is alive or dead, analysis calling into question central physical evidence in the Lockerbie bombing case, revelations that information about thousands of dangerous chemicals in use in the US is kept secret by a law prioritizing manufacturer profits, 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.

With best wishes,
Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and

Special note: For a revealing four-minute video clip showing secret police usage of drone planes to monitor the public, click here. For some most awesome photos from the Hubble Space Telescope, click here.

Is Osama Bin Laden dead or alive?
January 9, 2010, BBC News

Osama Bin Laden died eight years ago during the battle for Tora Bora in Afghanistan, either from a US bomb or from a serious kidney disease. Or so the conspiracy theory goes. The theory that has developed on the web since 9/11 is that US intelligence services are manufacturing the Bin Laden statements ... to justify the so-called war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and back at home. Numerous audio and video statements purporting to be from Bin Laden have been released, but their authenticity has been continually questioned. The veracity of all of the videos is questioned by David Ray Griffin, a former theology professor and member of the 9/11 Truth Movement, which also questions mainstream accounts of the attack on the World Trade Centre. "None of them can be proven to be authentic," he says. "At least three of them can be shown to be almost certainly fake. And if somebody is faking Bin Laden videos, then that leads to the suspicion that all the videos and audio tapes have been faked." His first example is a video released by the US Department of Defense in December 2001. In it, [the] Bin Laden [figure] confesses to 9/11, yet Mr Griffin points out that al-Qaeda has only rarely admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks. He also maintains that the Bin Laden figure looks very different to previous footage - fatter, with shorter fingers, and that he is even writing with the wrong hand.

Note: To see how easily audio and video materials can be faked, read excerpts from this Washington Post article. WantToKnow team member David Ray Griffin has written extensively about the evidence regarding whether Osama bin Laden is alive or dead, including his recent book, Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive?

'Flaws' in key Lockerbie evidence
January 6, 2010, BBC News

An investigation by BBC's Newsnight has cast doubts on the key piece of evidence which convicted the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. Tests aimed at reproducing the blast appear to undermine the case's central forensic link, based on a tiny fragment identified as part of a bomb timer. The tests suggest the fragment, which linked the attack to Megrahi, would not have survived the mid-air explosion. Newsnight has ... exposed serious doubts about the forensics used to identify the fragment as being part of a trigger circuit board. The fragment was found three weeks after the attack. For months it remained unnoticed and unremarked, but eventually it was to shape the entire investigation. The fragment was embedded in a charred piece of clothing, which was marked with a label saying it was made in Malta. So the focus turned to Malta and the question of who had bought the clothes. A shopkeeper on the island identified Megrahi, but this came only years later after he saw him pictured in a magazine as a Lockerbie suspect. Newsnight has discovered that the fragment - crucial to the conviction - was never subjected to chemical analysis or swabbing to establish whether it had in fact been involved in any explosion.

Note: For many reports from major media sources questioning the evidence presented in the prosecution of "terrorism" cases, click here.

Use of potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under law
January 4, 2010, Washington Post

Of the 84,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States -- from flame retardants in furniture to household cleaners -- nearly 20 percent are secret, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, their names and physical properties guarded from consumers and virtually all public officials under a little-known federal provision. Under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, manufacturers must report to the federal government new chemicals they intend to market. But the law exempts from public disclosure any information that could harm their bottom line. Government officials, scientists and environmental groups say that manufacturers have exploited weaknesses in the law to claim secrecy for an ever-increasing number of chemicals. In the past several years, 95 percent of the notices for new chemicals sent to the government requested some secrecy, according to the Government Accountability Office. About 700 chemicals are introduced annually. Some companies have successfully argued that the federal government should not only keep the names of their chemicals secret but also hide from public view the identities and addresses of the manufacturers.

Note: So according to this law, the bottom line (profits) trumps public health. For lots more on corporate and government secrecy, click here.

Yes, It Was Torture, and Illegal
January 4, 2010, New York Times

Bush administration officials came up with all kinds of ridiculously offensive rationalizations for torturing prisoners. It's not torture if you don't mean it to be. It's not torture if you don't nearly kill the victim. It's not torture if the president says it's not torture. It was deeply distressing to watch the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sink to that standard in April when it dismissed a civil case brought by four former Guantanamo detainees never charged with any offense. The court said former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the senior military officers charged in the complaint could not be held responsible for violating the plaintiffs' rights because at the time of their detention ... it was not "clearly established" that torture was illegal. The Supreme Court could have corrected that outlandish reading of the Constitution, legal precedent, and domestic and international statutes and treaties. Instead, last month, the justices abdicated their legal and moral duty and declined to review the case. The justices surely understood that their failure to accept the case would further undermine the rule of law. In effect, the Supreme Court has granted the government immunity for subjecting people in its custody to terrible mistreatment. It has deprived victims of a remedy and Americans of government accountability, while further damaging the country's standing in the world.

Note: For many reliable reports on the torture used by governments pursuing the "war on terror", click here.

Living on Nothing but Food Stamps
January 3, 2010, New York Times

About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times. In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid – no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay. Their numbers were rising before the recession as tougher welfare laws made it harder for poor people to get cash aid, but they have soared by about 50 percent over the past two years. About one in 50 Americans now lives in a household with a reported income that consists of nothing but a food-stamp card. Members of this straitened group range from displaced strivers ... to weathered men who sleep in shelters and barter cigarettes. Some draw on savings or sporadic under-the-table jobs. Some move in with relatives. Some get noncash help, like subsidized apartments. While some go without cash incomes only briefly before securing jobs or aid, others rely on food stamps alone for many months. The surge in this precarious way of life has been so swift that few policy makers have noticed. But it attests to the growing role of food stamps within the safety net. One in eight Americans now receives food stamps, including one in four children.

Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on increasing income inequality, click here.

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as 'non-human persons'
January 3, 2010, Times of London

Dolphins have been declared the world's second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as "non-human persons". Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence. The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year. "Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size," said Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who has used magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the brains of dolphin species and compare them with those of primates. Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, who has written a series of academic studies suggesting dolphins should have rights, [said], "The scientific research . . . suggests that dolphins are 'non-human persons' who qualify for moral standing as individuals."

Note: For many reliable accounts of the wonderful intelligence of marine mammals and how they have been abused by human activities, click here.

The future of brain-controlled devices
January 4, 2010, CNN

Researchers are already using brain-computer interfaces to aid the disabled, treat diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and provide therapy for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Work is under way on devices that may eventually let you communicate with friends telepathically, give you superhuman hearing and vision or even let you download data directly into your brain, a la "The Matrix." Researchers are practically giddy over the prospects. "We don't know what the limits are yet," says Melody Moore Jackson, director of Georgia Tech University's BrainLab. At the root of all this technology is the 3-pound generator we all carry in our head. It produces electricity at the microvolt level. But the signals are strong enough to move robots, wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs -- with the help of an external processor. One of the more controversial uses under development is telepathy. It would require at least two people to be implanted with electrodes that send and receive signals. DARPA, the Pentagon's technology research division, is currently working on an initiative called "Silent Talk," which would let soldiers on secret missions communicate with their thoughts alone. This stealth component is attractive, but naysayers fear that such soldiers could become manipulated for evil means.

Note: Remember that secret military research such as that undertaken by DARPA is often years ahead of capabilities publicly acknowledged.

Israel court rules Palestinians can use highway
December 29, 2009, BBC News

Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the military to let Palestinians use a road that runs through the West Bank. Palestinians were barred from the Jerusalem to Tel Aviv Highway 443 in 2002 when militants shot dead a number of Israelis in their cars. The case was brought by Palestinians who live in the villages along the 12.5-mile (20-km) West Bank section of the road. Human rights groups hailed the decision saying it was "a huge victory". The court said the military did not have the authority to impose the kind of sweeping limitation that "in effect transforms the road into a route designed for 'internal' Israeli traffic alone". The road was built on land appropriated from the villagers. But villagers are prevented from getting on the highway by concrete barricades and military checkpoints along its length. The military have five months to implement the ruling and dismantle the barriers. It is the second time in recent months the court has ordered the military to open roads to Palestinians. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which provided legal representation to the Palestinians, said it was "a huge victory". But the ruling was condemned by Israeli right-wingers.

Generics chafe under big pharma's reform shadow
December 26, 2009, CNN/Reuters News

The massive U.S. Senate healthcare reform measure passed ... with support from the multibillion drug industry, but makers of cheaper generic rivals are feeling left out in the cold. Generic drugmakers face several obstacles in the bill backed by Democrats that they worry will dampen a potential increase in use even as more people gain access to health insurance and prescription medicines. The hurdles include extensive protections against generic versions of pricey biotech medicines, an incentive for Medicare recipients to use more brand-name drugs, and a possible end to payments from brandname makers to delay the launch of copy-cat medicines. "The bill passed by the Senate unfortunately amounts to a treasure trove to brand drug companies," said Generic Pharmaceutical Association President Kathleen Jaeger. Bill Marth, chief executive of Teva's North American operations, said Democrats missed a chance to further boost [generics] use: "It's frustrating," he said. "Maybe some people have just lost sight of what the bill is supposed to do."

Note: For a powerful analysis by Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, of the corrupt relationship between the biggest pharmaceutical companies and the federal government, click here. Drug company lobbyists who contribute millions of dollars to the elections campaigns of Congress members have a huge influence which is often detrimental to public health.

President Obama's Secret: Only 100 al Qaeda Now in Afghanistan
December 2, 2009, ABC News

As he justified sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year, President Barack Obama's description ... of the al Qaeda "cancer" in that country left out one key fact: U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country. A senior U.S. intelligence official told the approximate estimate of 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan reflects the conclusion of American intelligence agencies and the Defense Department. The relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House as President Obama conducted his deliberations. With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year. At a Senate hearing, the former CIA Pakistan station chief, Bob Grenier, testified al Qaeda had already been defeated in Afghanistan. "So in terms of 'in Afghanistan,'" asked Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., "they have been disrupted and dismantled and defeated. They're not in Afghanistan, correct?" "That's true," replied Grenier.

Note: For many reports raising profound questions about the realities of the "war on terror", click here.

Network of Wi-Fi-Enabled Cyborg Insects Hunts Down WMDs
June 7, 2009, Popular Science magazine

In its attempts to quash weapons of mass destruction, the Pentagon has been trying novel ways to track down dangerous materiel. For years, DARPA [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] has been trying to train insects and bugs to sniff out toxic substances, providing more sensitive detection, as well as access that conventional sensors might not have. The newest twist on this concept is a plan to link up armies of the cyborg bugs in a peer-to-peer, or insect-to-insect, network that will allow them to communicate with each other and with their human masters. This next approach will implant insects with a chip that reads certain muscle twitches, which correspond to the presence of certain chemicals. The chips will then modify the chirps of insects like cicadas or crickets into an electronic signal that could be transmitted to other chipped insects in the area. Information about detected weaponized chemicals could bounce around this mobile insect network, and then be picked up by humans. The idea of creating a decentralized communication network between free-roaming insects could radically increase the bugs' range of detection.

Note: For a video and more on this, see the New Scientist article at this link.

Kindness taught in Seattle school's online class
December 26, 2009, Seattle Times (One of Seattle's leading newspapers)

If you recently found a shiny gold dollar coin in downtown Bellevue, thank the kindness class. Ditto if you stumbled upon a piece of glass art in Pioneer Square, or a lottery ticket taped to a bus shelter with a note saying, "This may be your lucky day." Since mid-September, the 250 people in Puget Sound Community School's online course learned about kindness by practicing it. Along the way, they took emotional risks, repaired relationships, improved their outlook on the world, and realized that kindness is contagious. Signing up for the class "just felt like the right thing to do in order to step outside of myself and see the world as a helpful, kind place, as opposed to a frightening place," said Barbara Kyllingstad, of Seattle, who enrolled as a way to combat the isolation she's felt since she got laid off from Washington Mutual this year. "I feel a lot more peaceful and positive about the world." The phrase "random acts of kindness" first showed up at least a decade ago, a play on the expression "random acts of violence." Since then, books, movies and even national organizations have sprung up to keep the trend going. Puget Sound Community School's kindness class – now in its 15th year – is a homegrown example that this year drew a record number of students.

Key Articles From Years Past

A Second Mortgage Disaster On The Horizon?
December 14, 2008, CBS 60 Minutes

When it comes to bailouts of American business, Barney Frank and the Congress may be just getting started. It turns out the abyss is deeper than most people think because there is a second mortgage shock heading for the economy. If you thought sub-primes were insanely reckless wait until you hear what's coming. One of the best guides to the danger ahead is [investment fund manager] Whitney Tilson. "We had the greatest asset bubble in history and now that bubble is bursting. The single biggest piece of the bubble is the U.S. mortgage market and we're probably about halfway through the unwinding and bursting of the bubble," Tilson explains. "It may seem like all the carnage out there, we must be almost finished. But there's still a lot of pain to come in terms of write-downs and losses that have yet to be recognized." The trouble now is that the insanity didn't end with sub-primes. There were two other kinds of exotic mortgages that became popular, called "Alt-A" and "option ARM." The option ARMs, in particular, lured borrowers in with low initial interest rates - so-called teaser rates - sometimes as low as one percent. But after two, three or five years those rates "reset." They went up. And so did the monthly payment. A mortgage of $800 dollars a month could easily jump to $1,500. Now the Alt-A and option ARM loans made back in the heyday are starting to reset, causing the mortgage payments to go up and homeowners to default.

Note: For a six-minute video of this revealing article, click here. For lots more on the realities of the financial crisis, click here.

Coral Castle: Mysterious Monument to Lost Love
February 1, 2008, ABC News

Like the ancient wonders of Stonehenge or the Great Pyramids of Egypt, there is an incredible and mysterious creation right here in the United States. Coral Castle, in Homestead, Fla., just south of Miami, is an intricate rock garden made of enormous pieces of coral, many of them weighing several tons. But more amazingly, Coral Castle was built entirely by one man -- Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin, who stood just 5 feet tall and weighed 100 pounds. To this day, no one knows how he did it. The castle is an extraordinary feat of engineering, and experts have puzzled over how Leedskalnin, who only had a fourth-grade education, constructed Coral Castle by himself. For example, how did this little man build a 9-ton coral gate constructed so precisely that you can push it open using one finger? There are many theories on how Leedskalnin accomplished this amazing feat. Some say he had help from extraterrestrials, others believe he discovered the secrets behind anti-gravity and levitation. Leedskalnin was a self-taught expert on magnetic currents, and one theory holds that he positioned the site to be perfectly aligned with Earth's poles to eliminate the forces of gravity, allowing him to move stones weighing several tons each. Even Albert Einstein couldn't figure it out.

Note: For a good video of this wonder, click here. For more information on this most intriguing phenomenon, click here. The unusual builder of this site claimed to know the secrets of the pyramids and even Einstein could not imagine how he did it.

Kentucky Town Re-Examines Its Racial History
March 10, 2007, National Public Radio

David Slone arrived in the small Kentucky town of Corbin in 2005, seeking a haven after Hurricane Katrina ripped through his hometown of Biloxi, Miss. Slone didn't know until he arrived that he would be one of only a few blacks living in Corbin, a town still trying to come to terms with a troubled racial history. In 1919, more than 200 black men worked in Corbin. In what came to be known as Red Summer, white mobs shot and lynched dozens of blacks in more than two dozen locales from Chicago to the Mississippi Delta. Trouble came to Corbin the following fall. A mob drove nearly all the town's black residents to the train station. "They swore at us and said: 'By God we are going to run all Negroes out of this town tonight,'" said longtime black resident John Turner in a signed affidavit a few months after the incident. Between the Civil War and the 1920s, in Corbin and many other American towns, whites forcefully expelled virtually all blacks from their communities. In some cases more than a century has passed since blacks were driven out of these counties, and yet they still remain islands inhabited almost exclusively by whites. Anyone who carefully digs through the history of these islands will often find the evidence of these long-ago eruptions. Almost 90 years later, Corbin's leaders say their town is as welcoming to black people as any other. They just need a chance to prove it.

Note: In Buried in the Bitter Waters, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Elliot Jaspin writes about racial cleansings from Central Texas through Georgia. Click on the article link above to read an excerpt. For more on the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina, click here.

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