Record Wall Street Pay, Congressional Insider Trading, London Bombings Inquest Begins
Revealing News Articles
October 18, 2010
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on the return of Wall Street pay to record levels, unregulated insider trading by Congressional staff, the long-delayed beginning of the official "inquest" into the London bombings on July 7, 2005, 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 for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Special note: To read how the US government is attempting to destroy family farms in the name of food safety, click here. For a great two-minute video summary of the problems with US foreign policy taken from the excellent movie Good Will Hunting, click here. For any who might be facing home foreclosure, don't miss the CNN News clip with important advice from a courageous congresswoman available here. For an excellent article which questions the US investigation of the planes used on 9/11, click here. And for a fascinating interview with former governor Jesse Ventura which raises lots of critical questions, click here.
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Wall Street Pay: A Record $144 Billion
October 11, 2010, Wall Street Journal
Compensation on Wall Street is on pace to break a record high for a second consecutive year, as more than three dozen top banks and securities firms will pay $144 billion in salary and benefits ... a 4% increase from the $139 billion paid out in 2009. Compensation was expected to rise at 26 of the 35 firms. Overall, Wall Street is expected to pay 32.1% of its revenue to employees, the same as last year, but below the 36% in 2007. Profits, which were depressed by losses in the past two years, have bounced back from the 2008 crisis. But the estimated 2010 profit of $61.3 billion for the firms surveyed still falls about 20% short from the record $82 billion in 2006. Over that same period, compensation across the firms in the survey increased 23%. "Until focus of these institutions changes from revenue generation to long-term shareholder value, we will see these outrageous pay packages and compensation levels," said Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance.
Note: For many key reports from reliable sources on Wall Street's profiteering, click here.
Congressional Staffers Gain From Trading in Stocks
October 11, 2010, Wall Street Journal
Chris Miller nearly doubled his $3,500 stock investment in a renewable-energy firm in 2008. It was a perfectly legal bet, but he's no ordinary investor. Mr. Miller is the top energy-policy adviser to Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who helped pass legislation that wound up benefiting the firm. Mr. Miller isn't the only Congressional staffer making such stock bets. At least 72 aides on both sides of the aisle traded shares of companies that their bosses help oversee, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 3,000 disclosure forms covering trading activity by Capitol Hill staffers for 2008 and 2009. The Journal analysis showed that an aide to a Republican member of the Senate Banking Committee bought Bank of America Corp. stock before results of last year's government stress tests eased investor concerns about the health of the banking industry. A top aide to the House Speaker profited by trading shares of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in a brokerage account with her husband two days before the government authorized emergency funding for the companies. The aides identified by the Journal say they didn't profit by making trades based on any information gathered in the halls of Congress. Even if they had done so, it would be legal, because insider-trading laws don't apply to Congress. Unlike many Executive Branch employees, lawmakers and aides don't have restrictions on their stock holdings and ownership interests in companies they oversee.
Note: Why is Congress exempt from so many of its own laws? Who is willing to start a movement to stop this? For lots more on government corruption from major media sources, click here.
Britain Opens Public Inquest Into 2005 London Terrorist Attacks
October 12, 2010, New York Times
After more than five years of delay that have angered and frustrated the victims' families, an inquest opened on [October 11] into the [attacks] on the London transit system on July 7, 2005, that killed 52 people and the four bombers, and wounded more than 700 others. The inquest ... began with the presiding judge, Lady Heather Hallett, ... pledging in her opening remarks that she would undertake to keep the inquest as open as possible while protecting Britain's national security. Lady Hallett said she would go as far as she could to meet the demand of the victims' families to know why the country's security and intelligence services did not act to prevent the bombings on the basis of what they knew about the attackers beforehand. The families' demands have echoed those of victims' relatives after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, but they have been amplified by the lengthy delay in holding the London inquest, which is the first comprehensive public inquiry into what have become known in Britain as the 7/7 attacks. The delay in opening the inquest has been officially explained as necessary to allow the police and other security agencies to complete their own investigations. As with the last inquest in Britain to become a focus of attention on a similar scale, the long-delayed investigation into the 1997 death in a Paris car crash of Diana, Princess of Wales, top officials of Britain's major police and security agencies, Scotland Yard, MI5 and MI6, are expected to be called as witnesses.
American Companies Wrest Big Earnings From Lower Revenue
October 3, 2010, Wall Street Journal
U.S. companies are rebounding quickly from the recession and posting near-historic profits, the result of aggressively re-tooling their operations to cope with lower revenue and an uncertain outlook. An analysis by The Wall Street Journal found that companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index posted second-quarter profits of $189 billion, up 38% from a year earlier and their sixth-highest quarterly total ever, without adjustment for inflation. For all U.S. companies, the Commerce Department estimates second-quarter after-tax profits rose to an annual rate of $1.208 trillion, up 3.9% from the first quarter and up 26.5% from a year earlier. That annual rate is the highest on record, though it doesn't account for inflation. As a percentage of national income, after-tax profits were the third-highest since 1947, surpassed only by two quarters in 2006, near the peak of the last economic expansion. The data indicate that big companies are recovering from the downturn faster and more strongly than the overall economy, helping send stock prices higher this year. To achieve that performance, companies laid off hundreds of thousands of workers, closed less-profitable units, shifted work to cheaper regions and streamlined processes. Despite the hefty profits, executives aren't expected to boost spending on new employees, products and equipment anytime soon. "We've focused on permanent changes that won't have to be undone as sales improve," said John Riccitiello, chief executive of Electronic Arts.
Note: For highly revealing reports on income inequality, click here.
BofA halts foreclosures in 50 states
October 8, 2010, Salt Lake Tribune/Associated Press
A mushrooming crisis over potential flaws in foreclosure documents is threatening to throw the real estate industry into chaos as Bank of America [today] became the first bank to stop taking back tens of thousands of foreclosed homes in all 50 states. The move ... adds to growing concerns that mortgage lenders have been evicting home–owners using flawed court papers, without verifying the information in them. Bank of America Corp., the nation's largest bank, said [its decision] applies to homes that the bank takes back itself and those that it transfers to investors such as mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bank did so in reaction to mounting pressure from public officials inquiring about the accuracy of foreclosure documents. A document obtained last week by The Associated Press showed a Bank of America official acknowledging in a legal proceeding that she signed thousands of foreclosure documents a month and typically didn't read them. The official, Renee Hertzler, said in a February deposition that she signed up to 8,000 such documents a month.
Note: For any who might be facing home foreclosure, don't miss the CNN News clip with important advice from a courageous congresswoman available here. For many key reports from reliable sources on the corrupt practices of major banks, click here.
Super-Rich Investors Buy Gold by Ton
October 4, 2010, ABC News/Reuters
The world's wealthiest people have responded to economic worries by buying gold by the bar -- and sometimes by the ton -- and by moving assets out of the financial system, bankers catering to the very rich said [today]. Fears of a double-dip downturn have boosted the appetite for physical bullion as well as for mining company shares and exchange-traded funds, UBS executive Josef Stadler told the Reuters Global Private Banking Summit. "They don't only buy ETFs or futures; they buy physical gold," said Stadler, who runs the Swiss bank's services for clients with assets of at least $50 million to invest. UBS is recommending top-tier clients hold 7-10 percent of their assets in precious metals like gold, which is on course for its tenth consecutive yearly gain and traded at around $1,314.50 an ounce [today], near the record level reached last week. Julius Baer's chief investment officer for Asia is also recommending that wealthy investors park some of their assets in gold as a defensive stance following a string of lackluster U.S. data and amid concerns about currency weakness.
Note: Gold has increased from under $300/oz at the time of 9/11 to over $1,300 in Oct. 2010. Is it a bubble, or a sign that our economy could be collapsing?
How to brand a disease -- and sell a cure
October 11, 2010, CNN
If you want to understand the way prescription drugs are marketed today, have a look at the 1928 book, Propaganda, by Edward Bernays, the father of public relations in America. For Bernays, the public relations business was less about selling things than about creating the conditions for things to sell themselves. When Bernays was working as a salesman for Mozart pianos, for example, he did not simply place advertisements for pianos in newspapers. That would have been too obvious. Instead, Bernays persuaded reporters to write about a new trend: Sophisticated people were putting aside a special room in the home for playing music. Once a person had a music room, Bernays believed, he would naturally think of buying a piano. As Bernays wrote, "It will come to him as his own idea." Just as Bernays sold pianos by selling the music room, pharmaceutical marketers now sell drugs by selling the diseases that they treat. The buzzword is "disease branding." To brand a disease is to shape its public perception in order to make it more palatable to potential patients. Once a branded disease has achieved a degree of cultural legitimacy, there is no need to convince anyone that a drug to treat it is necessary. It will come to him as his own idea. It is hard to brand a disease without the help of physicians, of course. So drug companies typically recruit academic "thought leaders" to write and speak about any new conditions they are trying to introduce.
Note: This key topic is discussed in great depth in the BBC's documentary "Century of the Self" available here. And for a top doctor's analysis that the cholesterol scare was largely manufactured for profit, click here.
McDonald's, 29 other firms get health care coverage waivers
October 7, 2010, USA Today/Bloomberg News
Nearly a million workers won't get a consumer protection in the U.S. health reform law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers. Thirty companies and organizations, including McDonald's and Jack in the Box, won't be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans, which are often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees. The Department of Health and Human Services, which provided a list of exemptions, said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn't lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop health insurance altogether. Without waivers, companies would have had to provide a minimum of $750,000 in coverage next year, increasing to $1.25 million in 2012, $2 million in 2013 and unlimited in 2014.
Why is the Gates foundation investing in GM giant Monsanto?
September 29, 2010, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ... is being heavily criticised in Africa and the US for getting into bed not just with notorious GM company Monsanto, but also with agribusiness commodity giant Cargill. Trouble began when a US financial website published the foundation's annual investment portfolio, which showed it had bought 500,000 Monsanto shares worth around $23m. Seattle-based Agra Watch - a project of the Community Alliance for Global Justice - was outraged. "Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well being of small farmers around the world... [This] casts serious doubt on the foundation's heavy funding of agricultural development in Africa," it [said]. South Africa-based watchdog the African Centre for Biosafety then found that the foundation was teaming up with Cargill in a $10m project to "develop the soya value chain" in Mozambique and elsewhere. Who knows what this corporate-speak really means, but in all probability it heralds the big time introduction of GM soya in southern Africa. The fact is that Cargill is a faceless agri-giant that controls most of the world's food commodities and Monsanto has been blundering around poor Asian countries for a decade giving itself and the US a lousy name for corporate bullying. Does the foundation actually share their corporate vision of farming and intend to work with them more in future?
Note: To read how WantToKnow.info manager Fred Burks was blacklisted by Monsanto for reporting on its blatant disregard of the dangers of genetically modified foods, click here.
Canada air force commander to plead guilty to murders
October 7, 2010, BBC
The commander of Canada's largest air force base is to plead guilty to the murder of two women and the sexual assault of two others, his lawyer says. Col Russell Williams once acted as pilot for Queen Elizabeth II and was in charge of Base Trenton in Ontario - Canada's busiest air force hub. His lawyer told an Ontario court he would plead guilty to all charges. He is also charged with 82 counts of breaking and entering. Prosecutors said he had stolen women's underwear. One woman was found dead in her house in November 2009. The other went missing in January this year. The murder victims were Marie Comeau, a 38-year-old corporal, who lived in Brighton, Ontario, and Jessica Lloyd, 27, a resident of Belleville, Ontario. The Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported that police had seized 500 items of women's underwear from Col Williams's home in Ottawa. "He was able to lead an elaborate double life and was able to keep it successfully concealed," said a senior officer who once promoted Col Williams, retired Lt-Gen Angus Watt.
Note: This kind of behavior in the top levels of the military may be much more common than you would expect. To understand more, learn about Kay Griggs, whose Marine colonel husband was deeply involved in this kind of thing at a high level. To watch a 10-minute video clip of Kay, click here. For more, click here.
Micro-loan portal Kiva celebrates 5 years
October 10, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Micro-asset financing is a relatively recent innovation in micro-finance - which is best known for small loans issued to people trying to escape poverty by starting a business - and is an example of how the field has explored different loan models. Kiva, celebrating its fifth anniversary on [October 13], took that experimentation to a new level in 2005 when it coupled the Internet and large numbers of individual lenders with needy borrowers. Using a Web portal, Kiva facilitates loans from individuals who can log onto its site and read borrowers' stories. Kiva partners with lending organizations in developing countries, which take the no-interest loans from Kiva and distribute them locally. Kiva lenders are paid back if the borrower succeeds, but do not earn interest. In recent years, with the help of Kiva, micro-finance as an anti-poverty tool has quickly grown in popularity. Economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank in Bangladesh are credited with pioneering the micro-finance movement in the mid-1970s by lending small amounts of money to basket weavers. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his efforts. But the concept received much broader exposure in the United States after Kiva came along. Described by some as "the Internet generation's answer to charity," Kiva became the philanthropy du jour for a time, and in the United States, was endorsed by celebrities and academics alike.
Note: For our excellent essay on building a better world through microlending, please visit this link.
Key Articles From Years Past
Marshals: Innocent People Placed On 'Watch List' To Meet Quota
July 21, 2006, The Denver Channel 7 (Denver ABC affiliate)
You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they're reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it. The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments. "Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal. These unknowing passengers who are doing nothing wrong are landing in a secret government document called a Surveillance Detection Report, or SDR. Air marshals told 7NEWS that managers in Las Vegas created and continue to maintain this potentially dangerous quota system. "Do these reports have real life impacts on the people who are identified as potential terrorists?" 7NEWS Investigator Tony Kovaleski asked. "Absolutely," a federal air marshal replied. "That could have serious impact ... They could be placed on a watch list. They could wind up on databases that identify them as potential terrorists or a threat to an aircraft. It could be very serious," said Don Strange, a former agent in charge of air marshals in Atlanta. He lost his job attempting to change policies inside the agency.
Note: For further reports on key civil liberties issues, click here.
How To Steal an Election
March 16, 2006, Washington Post
It's easier to rig an electronic voting machine than a Las Vegas slot machine, says University of Pennsylvania visiting professor Steve Freeman. That's because Vegas slots are better monitored and regulated than America's voting machines, Freeman writes in a book, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?: Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, that argues, among other things, that President Bush may owe his 2004 win to an unfair vote count. Software: Slot Machine: State of Nevada has access to all software. Illegal to use software that is not on file. Voting Machine: Software is a trade secret. Spot Checking: Slot Machine: State gaming inspectors show up unannounced at casinos to compare computer chips with those on file. If there is a discrepancy, the machine is shut down and investigated. Voting Machine: No checks are required. Election officials have no chip to compare with the one found in the machine. Background Security: Slot Machine: Manufacturers subjected to background checks. Employees are investigated for criminal records. Voting Machine: Citizens have no way of knowing, for example, whether programmers have been convicted of fraud. Equipment Certification: Slot Machine: By a public agency at arm's length from manufacturers. Public questions invited. Voting Machine: By for-profit companies chosen and paid by the manufacturers. No public information on how the testing is done.
Note: For many revealing major media reports on the corruptibility of electronic voting systems, click here.
Pipeline politics taint U.S. war
March 18, 2002, Chicago Tribune
Outside this country, there is a widespread belief that U.S. military deployments in Central Asia mostly are about oil. An article in the Guardian of London headlined, "A pro-western regime in Kabul should give the U.S. an Afghan route for Caspian oil," foreshadowed the kind of skeptical coverage the U.S. war now receives in many countries. Author George Monbiot ... wrote that the U.S. oil company Unocal Corp. had been negotiating with the Taliban since 1995 to build "oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan and into Pakistani ports on the Arabian sea." Unocal pulled out of the deal after the 1998 terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were linked to terrorists based in Afghanistan. The terrorist acts of Sept. 11, though tragic, provided the Bush administration a [pretext] to invade Afghanistan, oust the recalcitrant Taliban and, coincidentally, smooth the way for the pipeline. To make things even smoother, the U.S. engineered the rise to power of two former Unocal employees: Hamid Karzai, the new interim president of Afghanistan, and Zalmay Khalizad, the Bush administration's Afghanistan envoy. [Uri] Averny, a former member of the Israeli Knesset ... argues that the war on terrorism provides a perfect pretext for America's imperial interests. "If one looks at the map of the big American bases created for the war, one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean." No wonder the rest of the world is a bit skeptical about our war on evildoers.
Note: Why do so few people know that these two top officials of Afghanistan were once paid by an American oil company? For important reports from major media sources on the realities of the "war on terror," click here.
Secrets by the thousands
October, 1946, Harper's magazine
Someone wrote to Wright Field recently, saying he understood this country had got together quite a collection of enemy war secrets, that many were now on public sale, and could he, please, be sent everything on German jet engines. 'The Army Air Forces' answered: "Sorry – but that would be fifty tons." Moreover, that fifty tons was just a small portion. Wright Field is working from a documents "mother lode" of fifteen hundred tons. It is estimated that over a million separate items ... very likely contain practically all the scientific, industrial, and military secrets of Germany. What did we find? The head of the communications unit ... showed me then what had been two of the most closely-guarded technical secrets of the war: the infra-red device which the Germans invented for seeing at night, and the remarkable diminutive generator which operated it. The diminutive generator – five inches across – stepped up current from an ordinary flashlight battery to 15,000 volts. It had a walnut-sized motor which spun a rotor at 10,000 rpm. The generator then ran 3,000 hours! "As for medical secrets in this collection," one Army-surgeon has remarked, "some of them will save American medicine years of research; some of them are revolutionary – like, for instance, the German technique for treatment after prolonged and usually fatal exposure to cold." This discovery ... reversed everything medical science thought about the subject. And in aeronautics and guided missiles [the secrets] proved to be downright alarming. Army Air Force experts declare publicly that in rocket power and guided missiles the Nazis were ahead of us by at least ten years.
Note: To read the entire fascinating article, click here. To verify this article on the Harper's Magazine website, click here. How can the Nazi technology have been so far superior to that of the allies? For the riveting testimony of numerous military officers on the back engineering of UFO technologies, click here.
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