BoA Fraud Settlement, Super PACs Buy Political Influence, Senator Decries War by Wealthy
Revealing News Articles
December 13, 2010
Below are key excerpts of important news articles on the settlement by Bank of America (BoA) of fraud cases brought by states and cities, the massive contibutions from newly-legal "super PACS" to buy political influence, Senator Bernie Sanders' courageous stand against the war waged by the wealthy against the US middle class, 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.
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Bank of America to pay $137 million in state fraud cases
December 7, 2010, Washington Post
Bank of America will pay $137.3 million to settle allegations that it defrauded schools, hospitals and dozens of other state and local government organizations, federal officials said [on December 7]. The settlement stems from a long-running investigation into misconduct in the municipal bond business that raises money for localities to pay for public services. Bank of America is accused of depriving local organizations of millions of dollars by engaging in illegal behavior when investing the proceeds of municipal bond sales. The bank is paying $107.8 million to these organizations in restitution, $25 million to the Internal Revenue Service for abuses related to the tax-free status of municipal bonds and $4.5 million to state attorneys general for costs related to their investigations. A number of bankers and other professionals from a variety of financial firms have pleaded guilty in the probe, which centered on companies conspiring to win municipal securities business in violation of statutes requiring fair competition. The banking giant is accused of taking part in a conspiracy in which it and other banks paid kickbacks to win the business of municipalities seeking to invest the proceeds of bond sales before the money is ready to be spent.
Note: For key reports on financial fraud from reliable sources, click here.
72 super PACs spent $83.7 million on election, financial disclosure reports show
December 3, 2010, Washington Post
The newly created independent political groups known as super PACs, which raised and spent millions of dollars on last month's elections, drew much of their funding from private-equity partners and others in the financial industry, according to new financial disclosure reports. The 72 super PACs, all formed this year, together spent $83.7 million on the election. The figures provide the best indication yet of the impact of recent Supreme Court decisions that opened the door for wealthy individuals and corporations to give unlimited contributions. The financial disclosure reports also underscore the extent to which the flow of corporate money will be tied to political goals. Private-equity partners and hedge fund managers, for example, have a substantial stake in several issues before Congress, primarily the taxes they pay on their earnings. "Super PACs provide a means for the super wealthy to have even more influence and an even greater voice in the political process," said Meredith McGehee, a lobbyist for the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for tighter regulation of money in politics.
Note: For key reports on growing threats to the US electoral process, click here.
Senator Bernie Sanders on the War Between the Shrinking Middle Class and the Wealthy
November 30, 2010, U.S. Senate Testimony
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, there is a war going on in this country, and I am not referring to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. I am talking about a war being waged by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country against the working families of the United States of America, against the disappearing and shrinking middle class of our country. The reality is, many of the Nation's billionaires are on the warpath. They want more, more, more. Their greed has no end, and apparently there is very little concern for our country or for the people of this country if it gets in the way of the accumulation of more and more wealth and more and more power. The percentage of income going to the top 1 percent has nearly tripled since the 1970s. In the mid-1970s, the top 1 percent earned about 8 percent of all income. In the 1980s, that figure jumped to 14 percent. In the late 1990s, that 1 percent earned about 19 percent. And today, as the middle class collapses, the top 1 percent earns 23 1/2 percent of all income--more than the bottom 50 percent. Today, if you can believe it, the top one-tenth of 1 percent earns about 12 cents of every dollar earned in America.
Note: To see a video of this amazing speech by courageous Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent), click here.
A Real Jaw Dropper at the Federal Reserve
December 2, 2010, Yahoo News/Huffington Post
As a result of an amendment that I was able to include in the Wall Street reform bill, we have begun to lift the veil of secrecy at the Fed. It is unfortunate that it took this long, and it is a shame that the biggest banks in America and Mr. Bernanke fought to keep this secret from the American public every step of the way. But, the details on this bailout are now on the Federal Reserve's website. This is a major victory for the American taxpayer and for transparency in government. After years of stonewalling by the Fed, the American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed's multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America. What have we learned so far from the disclosure of more than 21,000 transactions? We have learned that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country.
Note: The author is Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). For key reports from reliable sources on the massive federal bailout of the biggest banks and financial firms, click here.
Tension grows between Calif. Muslims, FBI after informant infiltrates mosque
December 5, 2010, Washington Post
Before the sun rose, the informant donned a white Islamic robe. A tiny camera was sewn into a button, and a microphone was buried in a device attached to his keys. The undercover FBI informant - a convicted forger named Craig Monteilh - then drove off for 5 a.m. prayers at the Islamic Center of Irvine, where he says he spied on dozens of worshipers in a quest for potential terrorists. Monteilh's mission as an informant backfired. Muslims were so alarmed by his talk of violent jihad that they obtained a restraining order against him. He had helped build a terrorism-related case against a mosque member, but that also collapsed. The Justice Department recently took the extraordinary step of dropping charges against the worshiper, who Monteilh had caught on tape agreeing to blow up buildings, law enforcement officials said. Prosecutors had portrayed the man as a dire threat. Compounding the damage, Monteilh has gone public, revealing secret FBI methods and charging that his "handlers" trained him to entrap Muslims as he infiltrated their mosques, homes and businesses. He is now suing the FBI. Officials ... confirm that he was a paid FBI informant. Court records and interviews corroborate not only that Monteilh worked for the FBI - he says he made $177,000, tax-free, in 15 months - but that he provided vital information on a number of cases.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the long series of fake terror scares used by governments to control their domestic populations by fear, click here.
Why does the FBI Orchestrate Fake Terror Plots?
November 30, 2010, Global Research
The latest one snared Osman Mohamud, a Somali-American teenager in Portland, Oregon. The Associated Press report by William Mall and Nedra Pickler (11-27-10) ... makes it clear that it was a plot orchestrated by federal agents. Two sentences into the news report we have this: "The bomb was an elaborate fake supplied by the [FBI] agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said." The teenager was supplied with a fake bomb and a fake detonator. Documents released by US Attorney Dwight Holton "show the sting operation began in June." Obviously, the targeted Portland teenager was not hot to trot. The FBI had to work on him for six months. The reporters compare "the Portland sting" to the recent arrest in Virginia of Faroque Ahmed who was ensnared in a "bombing plot that was a ruse conducted over the past six months by federal officials." Think about this. The FBI did a year's work in order to convince two people to participate in fake plots. When the US government has to go to such lengths to create "terrorists" out of hapless people, an undeclared agenda is being served. What could this agenda be? The answer is many agendas. One agenda is to justify wars of aggression that are war crimes under the Nuremberg standard created by the US government itself. Another agenda is to create a police state. A police state can control people who object to their impoverishment for the benefit of the superrich much more easily than can a democracy endowed with constitutional civil liberties. Another agenda is to get rich. Terror plots, whether real or orchestrated, have created a market for security.
Note: Though the source of this article is not considered major media, the writer, Paul Craig Roberts, served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, earning fame as a co-founder of Reaganomics. He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps-Howard News Service. Roberts has been a critic of both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Gen. Petraeus Not 'Sure' Victory in Afghanistan by 2014
December 6, 2010, ABC News blog
Is [General David Petraeus] confident that the Afghan army can take the lead from U.S. forces by NATO's 2014 deadline? After nine years of war fewer Afghans support a U.S. presence in the country and fewer believe that the United States makes their country any safer, according to a new ABC News/ Washington Post poll – something that the U.S. "clearly" needs to continue to work on, Petraeus said. Petraeus said he is "not sure" why support for the U.S. presence has slipped over the last year. Petraeus said it is "hard to say" how much of Afghanistan the Taliban control. He also acknowledged a "resilient" enemy that regenerates, which is why he said this war will take a "sustained, substantial commitment." So what does the end of our "substantial commitment" in Afghanistan look like? Victory will not come with the U.S. planting a flag on a hill and going home to a victory parade, Petraeus said. "It looks like an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself. And it's one that incrementally demonstrates the ability to do that, not suddenly. Between the summer of 2011 and the end of 2014 there will be, again, a series of transitions, starting most likely at districts, not in overall provinces," he said.
Note: What does victory mean here? Could it be that Petraeus is revealing his support of the war profiteers and power elite of our world? For more on this critical topic by a very different, yet highly decorated US general, click here.
Nigeria charges Dick Cheney in Halliburton bribery case
December 7, 2010, MSNBC/Associated Press
Nigeria's anti-corruption agency on [December 7] charged former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney over a bribery scheme involving oil services firm Halliburton Co. during time he served as its top official. The charges stem from a case involving as much as $180 million allegedly paid in bribes to Nigerian officials, said Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Halliburton and other firms allegedly paid the bribes to win a contract to build a $6 billion liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, he said. The Halliburton case involves its former subsidiary KBR, a major engineering and construction services firm based in Houston. In February 2009, KBR Inc. pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to authorizing and paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 for the plant contracts in Nigeria. The spokesman said each charge in the 16-count indictment carried as much as three years in prison. Nigeria, a major oil supplier to the U.S., long has been considered by analysts and watchdog groups as having one of the world's most corrupt governments.
Brooksley Born foresaw disaster but was silenced
December 5, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
There's a brief scene in "Inside Job," the locally produced documentary on the Great Financial Meltdown, in which a colleague of the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 1997 describes how "blood drained from her face" after receiving a phoned-in tongue-lashing from deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. The target of Summers' wrath was Brooksley Born, ... the first female president of the Stanford Law Review and a recognized legal expert in the area of complex financial instruments. Her crime: Born had the temerity to push for regulation of the increasingly wild trading in derivatives, which, as we learned a decade later, helped bring the U.S. economy, and much of the world's, to its knees. Summers, with 13 bankers in his office, told Born to get off it "in a very grueling fashion," said the colleague. The story is told in much more detail in All the Devils are Here, the latest, but eminently worthwhile, book on the roots of the crisis, by Bethany McLean and ... Joe Nocera. It makes for dispiriting, even appalling, reading. Responding to growing evidence of manipulation and fraud in unregulated derivatives trading - "the hippopotamus under the rug," as Born and others referred to it - Born suggested the commission should perhaps be given some sort of oversight. She had a 33-page policy paper drawn up, full of questions and suggestions, like, for example, whether establishing a public exchange for derivatives might not be a bad idea. Responding to the policy paper, Summers, "screaming at her," according to the book, told Born the bankers sitting in his office "threatened to move their derivatives business to London," if she didn't stop.
Note: For key reports on financial fraud from reliable sources, click here.
WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord
December 3, 2010, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage. The [WikiLeaks] US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial "Copenhagen accord", the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009. Negotiating a climate treaty is a high-stakes game, not just because of the danger warming poses to civilisation but also because re-engineering the global economy to a low-carbon model will see the flow of billions of dollars redirected. Seeking negotiating chips, the US state department sent a secret cable on 31 July 2009 seeking human intelligence from UN diplomats across a range of issues, including climate change. The request originated with the CIA. As well as countries' negotiating positions for Copenhagen, diplomats were asked to provide evidence of UN environmental "treaty circumvention" and deals between nations.
November 4, 2010, The Economist
Research into the possibility of engineering a better climate is progressing at an impressive rate–and meeting strong opposition. Geoengineering is shorthand for the idea of fixing the problem of man-made climate change once the greenhouse gases that cause it have already been emitted into the atmosphere, rather than trying to stop those emissions happening in the first place. Many people think such ideas immoral ... and certain to provoke unintended consequences, to boot. Over the past few years research in the field has boomed. What is sometimes called Plan B seems to be taking shape on the laboratory bench–and seeking to escape outside. Polluting the stratosphere. Liming the oceans. Locking Greenland's glaciers to its icy mountains. It is easy to see why sceptics balk at geoengineering. And if viewed as a substitute for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, a cover for business-as-usual into the indefinite future, then it might indeed prove a Faustian bargain. Fertilising the ocean with iron has already been tried–admittedly without much success, but also without perceptible harm being done. The harm done by stopping geoengineering experiments is that the good which might come from them will never be known. Yet even some enthusiastic researchers worry about undue haste. Geoengineering's growth spurt will need to be matched by some grown-up questioning. Who benefits? Who decides? Who faces the risk?
Note: What this article fails to mention is that geoengineering has already been secretly used over many decades for military purposes as well as weather modification. For reliable information on this, click here.
December 2, 2010, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting TV station)
December 21, 2012 - disaster will strike the planet. The world, as we know it, will end. That is what many people, ... web sites and international doomsday entrepreneurs predict. Written, produced and directed by award-winning documentarian Cynthia Banks, "Apocalypse 2012" presents the leaders, chroniclers, debunkers and the businessmen of this wide-spread certainty of a global cataclysm. "Apocalypse 2012" follows people trying to protect themselves and others from what they believe is coming. Sure we've seen a lot of this before. But what's different and fascinating about all these predictions is that doomsday fear is moving into the mainstream culture at a remarkable scary pace. Apocalypse 2012 examines why this particular doomsday has become so significant. The ancient Mayan Long Count Calendar is the source of the doomsday prophecy but [according] to psychologists, archaeologists and scientists, the idea of an apocalypse reflects and magnifies the turmoil and distress of our uncertain times.
Note: For a three-minute promo clip of this CBC documentary, click here. For the full 45-minute film, click here. Remember that people have been predicting the imminent end of the world for thousands of years.
Marian Diamond - anatomy professor a YouTube hit
December 5, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Each fall, Marian Diamond walks into UC Berkeley's Wheeler Auditorium holding a round hatbox. What happens next has been watched nearly a half-million times on the university's YouTube channel, where Diamond's introductory anatomy lecture is the most viewed video. Diamond's discoveries in neuroscience have captured international attention and revolutionized how scientists view the brain's potential to develop at any age. Diamond became one of only a few researchers to analyze slices of Einstein's cortex. She found that Einstein had twice as many glial cells as normal males, a 1985 discovery that caused an international sensation. Scientists previously believed neurons were responsible for thinking and glial cells were support cells. Researchers now believe that glial cells play a critical role in brain development, learning, memory, aging and disease. Diamond has spent decades in the laboratory researching how environmental factors can alter the anatomy of the brain. She found that rats living in cages with stimulating objects and challenging activities developed dramatically thicker cerebral cortices than rats living without such stimulation. "I think scientifically she is one of the key people who opened up the field of thought that the brain is malleable in response to environmental exposure," said Dr. Robert Knight, director of UC Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. "Now that work is all the rage." Diamond found another secret to successful aging a decade ago when she established a link between the brain and the immune system.
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