CIA Promotes Killers, IMF Wants Dollar Alternative, Medical Studies Skewed for Profit
Revealing News Articles
February 14, 2011
Happy Valentine's Day! With the big changes in Egypt and elsewhere, it's a great time to be alive. Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on how the CIA promotes killers, the IMF is calling for a dollar alternative, medical studies are skewed for profit, 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: For two revealing articles on how President Lincoln, while still a new member of Congress, revealed the lies used as a pretext for the war with Mexico and suffered for it, click here and here. For a highly revealing and powerful essay by a top attorney exposing the CIA's connections with Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia, click here. For an inspiring movement being spearheaded by singer Peter Gabriel which helps people document human rights violations on video, see the CNN video clip available here and the website here. And to watch a five-minute video on a small machine that turns plastic back into oil, click here.
Quote of the week: "In your fear lies their power." -- source unknown
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Why Almost Everything You Hear About Medicine Is Wrong
January 24, 2011, Newsweek
If you follow the news about health research, you risk whiplash. First garlic lowers bad cholesterol, then–after more study–it doesn't. Hormone replacement reduces the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women, until a huge study finds that it doesn't. But what if wrong answers aren't the exception but the rule? More and more scholars who scrutinize health research are now making that claim. It isn't just an individual study here and there that's flawed, they charge. Instead, the very framework of medical investigation may be off-kilter, leading time and again to findings that are at best unproved and at worst dangerously wrong. The result is a system that leads patients and physicians astray–spurring often costly regimens that won't help and may even harm you. Even a cursory glance at medical journals shows that once heralded studies keep falling by the wayside. A major study concluded there's no good evidence that statins (drugs like Lipitor and Crestor) help people with no history of heart disease. The study ... was based on an evaluation of 14 individual trials with 34,272 patients. Cost of statins: more than $20 billion per year. "Positive" drug trials, which find that a treatment is effective, and "negative" trials, in which a drug fails, take the same amount of time to conduct. But negative trials took an extra two to four years to be published. With billions of dollars on the line, companies are loath to declare a new drug ineffective. As a result of the lag in publishing negative studies, patients receive a treatment that is actually ineffective. From clinical trials of new drugs to cutting-edge genetics, biomedical research is riddled with incorrect findings.
Note: For the good of your health, the entire article at the link above is well worth reading. For lots more on how the profit-oriented health profession puts public health at risk, click here and here.
At CIA, Grave Mistakes, Then Promotions
February 9, 2011, ABC News/AP
In December 2003, security forces boarded a bus in Macedonia and snatched a German citizen named Khaled el-Masri. For the next five months, el-Masri was a ghost. Only a select group of CIA officers knew he had been whisked to a secret prison for interrogation in Afghanistan. But he was the wrong guy. In the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, officers who committed serious mistakes that left people wrongly imprisoned or even dead have received only minor admonishments or no punishment at all. Many officers who made significant missteps are now the senior managers fighting the president's spy wars. The AP investigation of the CIA's actions revealed a disciplinary system that takes years to make decisions, hands down reprimands inconsistently and is viewed inside the agency as prone to favoritism and manipulation. When people are disciplined, the punishment seems to roll downhill, sparing senior managers even when they were directly involved in operations that go awry. Two officers involved in the death of a prisoner in Afghanistan, for instance, received no discipline and have advanced into Middle East leadership positions. Other officers were punished after participating in a mock execution in Poland and playing a role in the death of a prisoner in Iraq. Those officers retired, then rejoined the intelligence community as contractors. Since 9/11, retired CIA officers have published a variety of books opining on what ails the CIA. Their conclusions differ, but they are in nearly unanimous agreement that the system of accountability is broken.
Note: It is great news that the media is now revealing some of the craziness at the CIA, a topic that was almost taboo for the press in the past.
IMF calls for dollar alternative
February 10, 2011, CNN
The International Monetary Fund issued a report Thursday on a possible replacement for the dollar as the world's reserve currency. The IMF said Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, could help stabilize the global financial system. SDRs represent potential claims on the currencies of IMF members. They were created by the IMF in 1969 and can be converted into whatever currency a borrower requires at exchange rates based on a weighted basket of international currencies. The IMF typically lends countries funds denominated in SDRs While they are not a tangible currency, some economists argue that SDRs could be used as a less volatile alternative to the U.S. dollar. The goal is to have a reserve asset for central banks that better reflects the global economy since the dollar is vulnerable to swings in the domestic economy and changes in U.S. policy. In addition to serving as a reserve currency, the IMF also proposed creating SDR-denominated bonds, which could reduce central banks' dependence on U.S. Treasuries. The Fund also suggested that certain assets, such as oil and gold, which are traded in U.S. dollars, could be priced using SDRs. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said at a conference in Washington that IMF member nations should agree to create $2 trillion worth of SDRs over the next few years.
Critics question billions in aid routed back to US contractors
February 3, 2011, Boston Globe
United States taxpayers have funneled more than $60 billion of aid into Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981, but more than half of the money has been spent supplying weapons to the country's military. About $34 billion of the aid to Egypt has come in the form of grants that Congress requires Egypt to spend on American military hardware. In recent years the large amount of aid earmarked for the military, and the relatively low sums supporting civilian aid, have attracted scathing criticism from Egyptians, some of whom argue that US aid has gone to entrench a military dictator at the expense of the fledgling democracy activists. During the early turmoil, protesters were the target of tear gas canisters that read "made in the USA,'' fueling debate about the aid. Last year, Egypt was the fifth-largest recipient of US aid, getting $1.6 billion. Congress ... authorized major aid packages to both [Egypt and Israel in 1979], using an informal formula – not enshrined in the peace treaty – that gave Egypt $2 for every $3 that Israel received. Israel quickly became the largest recipient of US aid, and Egypt the second-largest – rankings that were only recently overtaken by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and last year, the disaster in Haiti. The strong interest of US companies could help explain why US military assistance to Egypt has remained at $1.3 billion a year, while its civilian economic assistance has steadily shrunk, from $815 million a decade ago to $250 million requested for 2011. The decline began in 1998, when Israel arranged for a reduction in economic support and an increase military aid. As Israeli's economic aid shrunk, so too did Egypt's.
George W Bush cancels trip to Switzerland over torture claims
February 7, 2011, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Mr Bush was the keynote speaker at Keren Hayesod's annual dinner on Feb 12 in Geneva. But pressure has been building on the Swiss government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation into the torture allegations if he enters the country. Criminal complaints against Mr Bush have been lodged in Geneva and several human rights groups signalled that they are poised to take further legal action this week. Swiss officials have said that Mr Bush would still enjoy a certain diplomatic immunity as a former head of state. But Keren Hayesod organisers felt the atmosphere had become too threatening, fearing that protests organised to coincide with his visit could descend into riots.
Deregulation of derivatives set stage for collapse
January 30, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
"We certainly applaud the efforts of the commission," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, referring to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Report. "Frankly, I'm not sure much has changed," said one of commissioners, Byron Georgiou. "The concentration of assets in the nation's 10 biggest banks is bigger now than it was five years ago, from 58 percent in 2006 to 63 percent now." Referring to executives who remain at the head of those banks that almost ran aground, Georgiou said ... "Either they knew and didn't want to tell us, or they really didn't know. Either way, they put their institutions at risk." And have yet to be held accountable. Commissioner Brooksley Born can enjoy a certain sense of vindication. Not only had "over-the-counter derivatives contributed significantly to this crisis," ... but the enactment of legislation in 2000 to ban their regulation "was a key turning point in the march toward the financial crisis." As head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the 1990s, Born was aware of the damage the largely unregulated instruments had already caused. Born suggested some more regulation. [She] was squashed like a bug by Clinton administration heavyweights, including Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin, [and] Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. One of the results: The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 eliminated government oversight of the OTC market. As the report documents, the use of such derivatives ... helped bring the entire financial system to its knees. Born hasn't seen much change in terms of accountability. One thing the report makes clear ... is just how preposterous were the "Who knew?" and "Who could have predicted?" statements offered up by chief executives and top government officials.
Note: The powerful movie "Inside Job" lays all of this bare. For lots more revealing news on the banking bailout and financial collapse, click here.
ConsumerWatch: Zero Percent Financing May Prove Costly
February 3, 2011, KCBS (CBS San Francisco Affiliate)
Zero-percent financing deals sound tempting when you are making a big purchase. But they can have costly consequences. Justin Miller financed a new Tempur-Pedic bed through Citibank. Miller said the deal was a credit plan offering 12 months interest free. Even though he had the cash, he decided to finance $5,600. But after Miller made the last payment, he received a bill from Citibank for $1,332.70. A year's worth of interest Citibank calculated at 25 percent. "I thought this is crazy, either this is some kind of joke or some kind of scam," Miller said. But according to the statement, the plan expired December 2nd. Miller's payment was due four days later, after the interest free deal expired on December 6th. "The statement due date was different from what they call the plan due date," Miller said. In fact Miller believes the due date was intentional to fool customers into making their last payment after the interest rate expires. Jose Quinonez with Mission Asset Fund said it's a common practice. Quinonez adds banks rarely go out of their way to tell customers about expiration dates on interest-free deals. "My recommendation to people is to make sure to pay off the whole balance completely in full by the 11th month, not wait till the 12th month to pay it off," he said. Citibank refused to discuss the specifics of Miller's case, but it told CBS 5 ConsumerWatch the terms of the deal are clearly explained in the seven page contract.
Mystery Over Detained American Angers Pakistan
February 8, 2011, New York Times
The case of Raymond A. Davis, a former United States Special Forces soldier who is being held in connection with the deaths of two Pakistanis, has stirred a diplomatic furor, sending the precarious relationship between the United States and Pakistan to a new low, both sides say. Mr. Davis, 36, was driving in dense traffic [when] two Pakistani men on a motorcycle tried to rob him. He shot and killed both and was arrested immediately afterward by police officers who say he was carrying a Glock handgun, a flashlight that attached to a headband and a pocket telescope. The mystery about what Mr. Davis was doing with this inventory of gadgets has touched directly on Pakistani resentments that members of the large American security presence here roam the country freely and are not answerable to the Pakistani authorities. The United States has warned Pakistan that if Mr. Davis is not released ... badly needed financial assistance could be cut. The public furor increased Sunday when the 18-year-old wife of one of the men Mr. Davis shot committed suicide, after saying she believed that the American would be unfairly freed. At the heart of the public outcry seems to be uncertainty over the nature of Mr. Davis's work, and questions about why his camera, according to police investigators, had pictures of buildings in Pakistani cities. One of the identification cards confiscated by the police after his arrest ... said he was a Defense Department contractor. Another ... said he was attached to the consulate in Peshawar, which contradicts an initial American Embassy statement on the day of the shooting that described Mr. Davis as a staff member of the consulate in Lahore.
Note: There is likely much more to this than meets the eye.
NYSE May Soon Have European Owners
February 10, 2011, CBS News
The New York Times reports that the New York Stock Exchange is in "talks on a merger with the operator of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange." The exchange faces pressure from electronic upstarts that are taking business from it, reports the Times. The paper says a deal would create the world's largest financial market. The Times reports that the merger ... is an example of technology and globalization changing the world marketplace.
Note: A Los Angeles Times blog on this news states, "the potential deal is the next step in the evolution of stock exchanges from nonprofit entities owned by their members to fast-moving companies with publicly traded stocks." Yet none of these reports discusses the huge significance of this potential deal.
USDA Won't Impose Restrictions on Biotech Alfalfa Crop
January 27, 2011, Wall Street Journal
The Obama administration Thursday abandoned a proposal to restrict planting of genetically engineered alfalfa, the latest rule-making proposal shelved as part of the administration's review of "burdensome" regulation. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's decision not to regulate alfalfa genetically modified to survive applications of the Monsanto Co. herbicide Roundup is a victory for the big seed and agri-chemicals company and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Obama administration said earlier this month it is reviewing all proposed government regulation to weed out proposals that are overly burdensome to businesses–part of a broader effort to repair relations with employers and industry. The administration has also shelved two proposed workplace-safety rules opposed by business. Alfalfa is raised as hay on about 20 million acres, making it the fourth-biggest U.S. crop by acreage. Only about 250,000 acres of alfalfa is raised organically, however. Some biotechnology officials have predicted that U.S. farmers will use genetically modified seeds to grow half of the nation's alfalfa. The vast majority of the nation's corn, soybeans and cotton are grown from genetically modified varieties.
Note: The US government once again sides with big business and endangers public health. For a powerful, well researched essay which shows how these genetically engineered crops have been proven to cause cancer and kill lab animals in many studies, click here. For more reliable information, click here and here.
Rich Take From Poor as U.S. Subsidy Law Funds Luxury Hotels
February 12, 2011, Businessweek/Bloomberg
The landmark Blackstone Hotel in downtown Chicago, which has hosted 12 U.S. presidents, opened in 2008 after a two-year, $116 million renovation. Buffed marble staircases greet guests spending up to $699 a night for rooms with views of Lake Michigan. What's surprising isn't the opulent makeover: It's how the project was financed. The work was subsidized by a federal development program intended to help poor communities. The biggest beneficiary of taxpayer help for the Blackstone revamp was Prudential Financial Inc., the second-largest U.S. life insurer. The company got $15.6 million in tax credits from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for helping to fund the project. JPMorgan Chase & Co., the second-largest U.S. bank by assets, also took in money by serving as a lender and the monitor of Blackstone construction financing, city records show. Since 2003, some of the world's biggest financial companies, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., U.S. Bancorp, JPMorgan Chase and Prudential, have taken advantage of a federal subsidy that will cost taxpayers $10.1 billion -- and most of the public has never heard of it. Investors have used the program, called New Markets Tax Credits, to help build more than 300 upscale projects, including hotels, condominiums, office buildings and a car museum, on streets far from poverty, according to ... records released through a federal Freedom of Information Act request. JPMorgan spokesman Tom Kelly .. declines to discuss specifics. "We think these projects help the community," Kelly says.
Children who lend a helping hand show they can make a difference and change the world
December 27, 2010, Christian Science Monitor
Parents want their kids and teens to care about others. The good news is that children "are sort of hard-wired" to want to help others, says Michael Ungar, author of "The We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Kids." While adults do wonderful things to help others, even more amazing is the number of children and teens who are "making a difference". Danielle Gram spent her childhood in Maryland in the years following the 9/11 attacks. "I really didn't understand why people from different cultures wanted to kill each other," says Ms. Gram, now 21 years old and a senior at Harvard University. In 2006, together with Jill McManigal ... Gram, then 16, founded Kids for Peace, a nonprofit, child-led group that inspires kids to work together toward a more peaceful world. Today Kids for Peace has more than 75 chapters. In August, its Great Kindness Challenge, where children try to see how many acts of kindness they can perform in a single day, drew thousands of participants in 50 countries. In November, she was named a winner of the World of Children award. "The passion to create a less violent world has really followed me throughout my life," Gram says. But a family tragedy last year brought it closer to home. Her only brother was murdered while on vacation. "It's certainly been a struggle. But every single one of my immediate family members has a deeper conviction that nonviolence is the way to respond." After graduation next spring, Gram hopes to work on peace issues in Bangladesh or at a refugee camp in Africa. Either way, she'll carry on with Kids for Peace, too.
Note: For a great collection of other inspiring news articles, click here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Underwater Exploring Is Banned In Brazil
June 25, 1985, New York Times
A dispute between the Brazilian Navy and an American marine archeologist has led Brazil to bar the diver from entering the country and to place a ban on all underwater exploration. The dispute involves Robert Marx, a Florida author and treasure hunter, who asserts that the Brazilian Navy dumped a thick layer of silt on the remains of a Roman vessel that he discovered inside Rio de Janeiro's bay. The reason he gave for the Navy's action was that proof of a Roman presence would require Brazil to rewrite its recorded history, which has the Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral discovering the country in 1500. All ... permits for underwater exploration and digging, a prolific field in Brazil, have been canceled as a result of the Marx controversy ... Navy officials said. The story goes back to 1976 when lobster divers first found potsherds studded with barnacles. Then a Brazilian diver brought up two complete jars with twin handles, tapering at the bottom, the kind that ancient Mediterranean peoples widely used for storage and are known as amphoras. According to Elizabeth Will, a professor of classics and specialist in ancient Roman amphoras at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the jars are very similar to the ones produced at Kouass, a Roman Empire colony that was a center for amphora-making on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Reached by telephone, Professor Will said of the fragments she had studied: ''They look to be ancient and because of the profile, the thin-walled fabric and the shape of the rims I suggested they belong to the third century A.D..''
Note: Many archeological finds which don't match accepted history have been suppressed and covered up. For five revealing BBC articles showing more manipulation around this, click here.
Google Ocean: Has Atlantis been found off Africa?
February 20, 2009, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A "grid of streets" on the seabed at one of the proposed locations of the lost city of Atlantis has been spotted on Google Ocean. Google Ocean, an extension of Google Earth, allows web users to virtually explore the ocean with thousands of images of underwater landscapes. The network of criss-cross lines is 620 miles off the coast of north west Africa near the Canary Islands on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The perfect rectangle – which is around the size of Wales – was noticed on the search giant's underwater exploration tool by an aeronautical engineer who claims it looks like an "aerial map" of a city. The underwater image can be found at the co-ordinates 31 15'15.53N 24 15'30.53W. Atlantis experts said that the unexplained grid is located at one of the possible sites of the legendary island, which was described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. According to his account, the city sank beneath the ocean after its residents made a failed effort to conquer Athens around 9000 BC. Dr Charles Orser, curator of historical archaeology at New York State University told The Sun that the find was fascinating and warranted further inspection. The legend of Atlantis has excited the public imagination for centuries. In recent years "evidence" of the lost kingdom has been found off the coast of Cyprus and in southern Spain.
Note: Many archeological finds which don't match accepted history have been suppressed and covered up. For five revealing BBC articles showing more manipulation around this, click here.
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