Revelations on Pope's Resignation, Drone Strikes in US, Truth About Torture
Revealing News Articles
February 26, 2013
Below are key excerpts of important news articles on new revelations of possible reasons for the Pope's unprecedented resignation, the Obama administration's refusal to rule out drone strokes on US soil, the highly questionable value of information acquired by torture, and more.
Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails, see this page. The most important sentences are highlighted. And don't miss the "What you can do" section below the summaries. By educating ourselves and to spreading the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Special note: For a three-minute video of a graphene capacitor that could change the energy equation of our world, click here. For great info on a historic challenge to the BBC's coverage of the events surrounding 9/11, click here. To see just how prejudiced many people still are, watch this revealing candid camera show on trying to get someone to help change a tire. To sign a petition against US Navy's ramping up sonar lethal to marine mammals, click here. For an excellent article revealing the huge profits made by corporations when large numbers of immigrants are imprisoned, click here.
Papal resignation linked to inquiry into 'Vatican gay officials', says paper
February 21, 2013, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders. The pope's spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign – the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called "Vatileaks" affair. The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were "united by sexual orientation". In an apparent quotation from the report, La Repubblica said some Vatican officials had been subject to "external influence" from laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature". The paper said this was a clear reference to blackmail. It quoted a source "very close to those who wrote [the cardinal's report]" as saying: "Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments." The seventh enjoins against theft. The sixth forbids adultery, but is linked in Catholic doctrine to the proscribing of homosexual acts.The cardinals' report identified a series of meeting places in and around Rome. They included a villa outside the Italian capital, a sauna in a Rome suburb, a beauty parlour in the centre, and a former university residence that was in use by a provincial Italian archbishop.
Note: For more revelations on this astounding information from a reliable source, click here.
British Cardinal to Skip Papal Conclave
February 25, 2013, Time Magazine
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's highest-ranking Catholic leader, says he is resigning as archbishop in the wake of misconduct allegations and will be skipping the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. Experts said the decision not to attend the papal conclave is unprecedented; never before has a cardinal stayed away from a conclave because of personal scandal, according to Vatican historian Ambrogio Piazzoni, the vice prefect of the Vatican library. The Vatican confirmed that O'Brien had resigned as archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh. He said in a statement that he is in "indifferent health" and that he had offered his resignation last November. A church statement says the pope accepted O'Brien's resignation on Feb. 18. O'Brien ... is contesting allegations ... that three priests and a former priest have filed complaints to the Vatican alleging that the cardinal acted inappropriately with them. During a briefing with reporters at the Vatican last week, Piazzoni was asked about the campaign to keep Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony away from the voting because he covered up sexual abuse by priests. Piazzoni said while in the past some cardinals have been impeded either by illness or by interference from their governments, none has stayed away because of a stain on his own reputation.
Note: If people at the top of the church are resigning, we can only imagine the earthquakes happening at lower levels. The dominos are falling. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on sexual abuse scandals, click here. To learn how child sex-abuse rings lead to top levels of leadership around the world, watch the powerful Discovery Channel documentary "Conspiracy of Silence" at this link.
A vote for pope, an insult to abuse victim
February 17, 2013, Boston Globe
The Catholic Church can't get to a bright, new future until it finally breaks with the ugliness of the past. One way to make such a break would be to keep Cardinal Roger Mahony from participating in the next election to determine a new pope. Two weeks ago, Mahony was relieved of all public duties by current Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez. Long-sought documents revealed that Mahony actively worked to protect priests who were abusing children from police, rather than protect victims from their abusers. Some 12,000 pages of records revealed that Mahony covered up hundreds of allegations of clerical abuse in the 1980s. [But] Mahony remains a "bishop in good standing." And after the surprise resignation announcement from Pope Benedict XVI, Mahony rushed to put out word that he intends to participate in choosing a successor. Blogged Mahony, who is one of 11 US cardinals who will vote for the next pope: "I look forward to traveling to Rome soon to help thank Pope Benedict XVI for his gifted service to the church and to participate in the Conclave to elect his successor." In Los Angeles, local members of Catholics United, a liberal-leaning Catholic grassroots organization, have organized a petition drive asking Mahony to respect the victims of abuse that occurred under his watch and recuse himself from the papal conclave.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on sexual abuse scandals, click here.
Obama officials refuse to say if assassination power extends to US soil
February 22, 2013, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The Justice Department "white paper" purporting to authorize Obama's power to extrajudicially execute US citizens was leaked three weeks ago. Since then, the administration - including the president himself and his nominee to lead the CIA, John Brennan - has been repeatedly asked whether this authority extends to US soil, i.e., whether the president has the right to execute US citizens on US soil without charges. In each instance, they have refused to answer. Brennan has been asked the question several times as part of his confirmation process. Each time, he simply pretends that the question has not been asked, opting instead to address a completely different issue. It's really worth pausing to remind ourselves of how truly radical and just plainly unbelievable this all is. What's more extraordinary: that the US Senate is repeatedly asking the Obama White House whether the president has the power to secretly order US citizens on US soil executed without charges or due process, or whether the president and his administration refuse to answer? That this is the "controversy" surrounding the confirmation of the CIA director - and it's a very muted controversy at that - shows just how extreme the degradation of US political culture is.
Note: For a revealing 27-minute documentary on drones which operate in swarms and pose serious ethical questions in both peace and war, click here.
The blind theology of militarism
February 17, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Drone war proponents are facing inconvenient truths. This month, for instance, they are facing a new United Nations report showing that President Obama's escalation of the Afghanistan War - in part by an escalation in drone air strikes - is killing hundreds of children "due notably to reported lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force." Drone-war cheerleaders will no doubt find this news difficult to explain away. Sen. Angus King [justified] the drone war earlier this month. "Drones are a lot more civilized than what we used to do," he told a cable television audience. "I think it's actually a more humane weapon because it can be targeted to specific enemies and specific people." Designed to obscure mounting civilian casualties, King's phrase "humane weapon" is the crux of the larger argument. The idea is that an intensifying drone war is necessary - and even humane! - because it is more surgical than violent global ground war, which is supposedly America's only other option. In a country whose culture so often (wrongly) portrays bloodshed as the most effective problem solver, many Americans hear this now-ubiquitous drone-war argument and reflexively agree with its suppositions. By deliberately ignoring any other less violent option, drone-war proponents who employ choice-narrowing language are ... precluding America from making more prudent, informed and dispassionate national security decisions - the kind that might stop us from repeating the worst mistakes of our own history.
Note: For a revealing 27-minute documentary on drones which operate in swarms and pose serious ethical questions in both peace and war, click here.
The co-author of 'Hubris' on torture, secrets–and what we still don't know
February 17, 2013, MSNBC
NBC News National Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff co-authored the best-selling book Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War with David Corn. Their book is the basis for the new MSNBC documentary, "Hubris: Selling the Iraq War". The reporting ... at a time when the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" has drawn attention to the issue, shows viewers the role that torture played in intelligence-gathering after 9/11. The real-life role of torture in pre-Iraq war intelligence, which is reported in Hubris, has far scarier implications than the Hollywood version. MSNBC: What was the single most shocking thing you discovered? [Isikoff:] I still find the Ibn Shaykh al-Libi story ... the most shocking of all. At first, he's questioned by the FBI–then "rendered" by the CIA in early 2002 to Egypt, where he was subjected to torture: beatings [and] a mock burial. He suddenly coughed up a story–that Iraq was training al-Qaida members in chemical and biological weapons–that nobody in the U.S. intelligence community really believed. The CIA internally even wrote an assessment concluding that al-Libi was likely fabricating much of what he told the Egyptians. Yet suddenly in September 2002, the White House starts using the claim that Iraq is training al-Qaida in "poisons and gases"–a claim based entirely on al-Libi. After the war, al-Libi is returned to U.S. custody and recants the whole thing, saying he made it up because the Egyptians were torturing him. Anybody who saw "Zero Dark Thirty" and thinks it vindicates waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" should watch "Hubris".
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on torture and other war crimes committed by the US, click here.
Don't Blink, or You'll Miss Another Bailout
February 17, 2013, New York Times
Many people became rightfully upset about bailouts given to big banks during the mortgage crisis. But it turns out that they are still going on, if more quietly, through the back door. The existence of one such secret deal, struck in July between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Bank of America, came to light just last week in court filings. Not only do the filings show the New York Fed helping to thwart another institution's fraud case against the bank, they also reveal that the New York Fed agreed to give away what may be billions of dollars in potential legal claims. The New York Fed said in a court filing that in July it had released Bank of America from all legal claims arising from losses in some mortgage-backed securities the Fed received when the government bailed out the American International Group in 2008. One surprise in the filing, which was part of a case brought by A.I.G., was that the New York Fed let Bank of America off the hook even as A.I.G. was seeking to recover $7 billion in losses on those very mortgage securities. What did the New York Fed get from Bank of America in this settlement? Some $43 million, it seems, from a small dispute the New York Fed had with the bank on two of the mortgage securities. At the same time, and for no compensation, it released Bank of America from all other legal claims. For zero compensation, the New York Fed released Bank of America from what may be sizable legal claims, knowing that A.I.G. was trying to recover on those claims.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between regulators and financial corporations, click here.
Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth
February 16, 2013, New York Times
Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country. Study after study has exposed the myth that America is a land of opportunity. This is especially tragic: While Americans may differ on the desirability of equality of outcomes, there is near-universal consensus that inequality of opportunity is indefensible. The Pew Research Center has found that some 90 percent of Americans believe that the government should do everything it can to ensure equality of opportunity. The upwardly mobile American is becoming a statistical oddity. Economic mobility in the United States is lower than in most of Europe and lower than in all of Scandinavia. The life prospects of an American are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in almost any other advanced country for which there is data. Latinos and African-Americans still get paid less than whites, and women still get paid less than men, even though they recently surpassed men in the number of advanced degrees they obtain. Discrimination, however, is only a small part of the picture. Probably the most important reason for lack of equality of opportunity is education: both its quantity and quality. After 1980, the poor grew poorer, the middle stagnated, and the top did better and better. A result was a widening gap in educational performance – the achievement gap between rich and poor kids born in 2001 was 30 to 40 percent larger than it was for those born 25 years earlier, the Stanford sociologist Sean F. Reardon found.
Note: The author of this article, Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, a professor at Columbia and a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and chief economist for the World Bank, is the author of The Price of Inequality. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.
The "People's Bailout" Was Just the Beginning: What's Next for Strike Debt?
December 13, 2012, Yes! Magazine
Syracuse University art professor Thomas Gokey earned his Master of Fine Arts degree five years ago, but remains chained to his alma mater by $49,983 of debt. Soon after he graduated, the grim prospect of indefinite payments inspired its own art piece. Gokey put his debt up for sale in reconstituted squares of shredded money from the Federal Reserve. This year, together with the activist group Strike Debt, he helped organize a bold "People's Bailout" called the Rolling Jubilee, which has raised over $465,000. Bringing that money to the marketplace where collections companies buy and sell debt for pennies on the dollar, Strike Debt intends to purchase about $9 million of Americans' medical and educational debt–and then cancel it. Strike Debt, which grew out of Occupy Wall Street, wants to foment conversation about the debt we rack up in pursuit of basic needs, and the industries that profit from that debt. Gokey is currently on a year-long unpaid leave from teaching to help organize the Rolling Jubilee and upcoming Strike Debt projects. Thomas Gokey: Since I'm an educator, I'm thinking about the ways in which my students and I seem to be getting taken advantage of. We look at how much it's costing each one of my students to take one of my classes, and how much I'm getting paid to teach the class. And we look at each other and think, why don't we just go hold our classes at the public library? Somebody's obviously making money off both of us, so can't we cut out that middleman and focus on education?
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.
Food, drink industries undermine health policy, study finds
February 11, 2013, Chicago Tribune/Reuters
Multinational food, drink and alcohol companies are using strategies similar to those employed by the tobacco industry to undermine public health policies, health experts said. In an international analysis of involvement by so-called "unhealthy commodity" companies in health policy-making, researchers from Australia, Britain, Brazil and elsewhere said self-regulation was failing and it was time the industry was regulated more stringently from outside. The researchers said that through the aggressive marketing of ultra-processed food and drink, multinational companies were now major drivers of the world's growing epidemic of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Writing in The Lancet medical journal, the researchers cited industry documents they said revealed how companies seek to shape health legislation and avoid regulation. This is done by "building financial and institutional relations" with health professionals, non-governmental organizations and health agencies, distorting research findings, and lobbying politicians to oppose health reforms, they said. The researchers [added] that their evidence showed [the] collaborative approach had failed. They recommended that, in the future, food, drinks and tobacco firms should have no role in national or international policies on chronic diseases. Instead, they proposed a system of "public regulation" which they said would focus on directly pressuring industry by "raising awareness of their shady practices and maintaining active public pressure".
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Monsanto, the court and the seeds of dissent
February 19, 2013, Los Angeles Times
Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life? The journey of a 75-year-old Indiana farmer to the [Supreme Court] began rather uneventfully. Vernon Hugh Bowman purchased an undifferentiated mix of soybean seeds from a grain elevator, planted the seeds and then saved seed from the resulting harvest to replant another crop. Finding that Bowman's crops were largely the progeny of its genetically engineered proprietary soybean seed, Monsanto sued the farmer for patent infringement. The case [Bowman vs. Monsanto Co.] is a remarkable reflection on recent fundamental changes in farming. In the 200-plus years since the founding of this country, and for millenniums before that, seeds have been part of the public domain – available for farmers to exchange, save, modify through plant breeding and replant. Through this process, farmers developed a diverse array of plants that could thrive in various geographies, soils, climates and ecosystems. But today this history of seeds is seemingly forgotten in light of a patent system that, since the mid-1980s, has allowed corporations to own products of life. Although Monsanto and other agrochemical companies assert that they need the current patent system to invent better seeds, the counterargument is that splicing an already existing gene or other DNA into a plant and thereby transferring a new trait to that plant is not a novel invention. A soybean, for example, has more than 46,000 genes. Properties of these genes are the product of centuries of plant breeding and should not, many argue, become the product of a corporation. Instead, these genes should remain in the public domain.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the destructive impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), click here.
Drug Overdose Deaths up for 11th Consecutive Year
February 20, 2013, ABC News/Associated Press
Drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th straight year, federal data show, and most of them were accidents involving addictive painkillers despite growing attention to risks from these medicines. "The big picture is that this is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gathered and analyzed the data. In 2010, the CDC reported, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide. Medicines, mostly prescription drugs, were involved in nearly 60 percent of overdose deaths that year, overshadowing deaths from illicit narcotics. The report [in the] Journal of the American Medical Association ... details which drugs were at play in most of the fatalities. As in previous recent years, opioid drugs – which include OxyContin and Vicodin – were the biggest problem, contributing to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths. Medication-related deaths accounted for 22,134 of the drug overdose deaths in 2010. Anti-anxiety drugs including Valium were among common causes of medication-related deaths, involved in almost 30 percent of them. Among the medication-related deaths, 17 percent were suicides. The report's data came from death certificates, which aren't always clear on whether a death was a suicide or a tragic attempt at getting high. Frieden said the data show a need for more prescription drug monitoring programs at the state level, and more laws shutting down "pill mills" – doctor offices and pharmacies that over-prescribe addictive medicines.
Note: Over 38,000 drug deaths are more than the 32,000 automobile deaths in the US. This means that the risk of dying from drugs is now greater than the risk of car accidents. For lots more reliable information showing how the medical industry can actually be dangerous to your health, click here.
More mammograms mean more problems for older women, study finds
February 6, 2013, Los Angeles Times
The American Cancer Society advises all women over 40 to get a mammogram once a year to screen for signs of breast cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of experts that advises the federal government on health matters, says most women need to get mammograms only once every two years, and only when they're between the ages of 50 and 74. Who's right? A new study comes down on the side of the task force. Researchers examined records of about 140,000 women ages 66 to 89 who had mammograms between 1999 and 2006. Some of the women had mammograms every year, and some of them had them every other year. It turned out that having annual mammograms did not reduce women's risk of being diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer, as might have been expected. When all the numbers were crunched, "the proportion [of women] with adverse tumor characteristics was similar among annual and biennial screeners," the researchers wrote in a study published [in] the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. But they did find harm. The more times that women were screened, the greater their odds of getting a false positive reading on a mammogram. For example, among women between the ages of 66 and 74 who already had health problems, 48% of those who had annual mammograms had at least one false-positive reading during a 10-year period. But among those who were screened every other year, only 29% had a false-positive result.
Russian Meteor Kicks Up Cloud of Mistrust
February 19, 2013, Bloomberg
The world saw the meteor ... that exploded over the Ural Mountains city of Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15 ... thanks to the dashboard cameras that are so common in Russian cars. Russians use the devices because they cannot trust police, judges, insurance companies or witnesses in case of a fender bender. In the case of the meteor, however, the cameras were not enough to overcome mistrust. Liberal columnist Yulia Latynina was quick to publish a column in Novaya Gazeta, strongly suggesting that the fiery object in the sky was no celestial body but a misfired missile from a nearby testing ground where a military exercise was taking place. At the other end of the political spectrum, ultra- nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky suggested it was a U.S. missile that blew up over Chelyabinsk. "These are not meteors falling but Americans testing new weapons," Zhirinovsky said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. Why the trust deficit? Sociologist Lev Gudkov offered some explanation. Trust is higher in societies "with stable and open institutional systems," and lower in societies "with a high level of violence, aggression, an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government." In repressive societies, "mistrust becomes an important strategic resource for social survival, success and upward mobility." In 2008, only 27 percent of Russians agreed that people were generally to be trusted, while 68 percent were in favor of caution. The situation was reversed in Denmark, with 70 percent trusting and 29 percent not so much. In the U.S., 42 percent trusted their fellow citizens and 57 percent believed them relatively untrustworthy.
Denmark Moves To Cool Its Red-Hot Solar Energy Market
November 30, 2012, Forbes
Denmark's energy minister introduced legislation earlier this month that would ... trim generous subsidies that [along] with the falling price of [solar] panels had triggered [rapid] growth in the number of residential solar energy systems added to the grid this year. Homeowners have installed so many rooftop photovoltaic (PV) arrays in 2012 that Denmark exceeded its 2020 solar energy target (200 MW) eight years early. Unlike the solar energy booms in Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Italy, where governments used feed-in tariffs to stimulate domestic PV markets, Denmark's solar surge has been powered by net-metering rules. Under a feed-in tariff scheme, homeowners, businesses, or other PV system owners are paid above-market rate for electricity sold to the grid over a long-term contract, usually 20 years; in net-metering jurisdictions like Denmark or California, PV system owners receive credit for surplus electricity sent to the grid. In Denmark, home to some of the highest electricity rates in Europe, the existing net-metering rules offer a generous return. The new rules introduced by Danish Climate and Energy Minister Martin Lidegaard on November 20 reduce the incentives offered to solar system owners and make PV arrays larger than 6 kilowatts eligible for subsidies. Under a national energy plan approved by the Danish Parliament in March, renewables will account for 35% of the electricity fed to the Danish grid by 2020 and 100% by 2050.
Note: Isn't that a strange title for the article? Why not something like "Denmark Achieves Solar Energy Goal 8 Years Early"? And with the questionable future of fossil fuels, why aren't more countries embracing policies like that of Denmark?
Pee power! African teens create urine-fueled generator
November 8, 2012, CNET
Four teenage African girls have come up with a urine-powered generator ... which they claim generates one hour of electricity from one liter (about a quart) of urine. The pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria. Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen. The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas. This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator. The girls will probably be famous chemists one day, in any case, but they aren't the first to propose urine (or more solid human and animal waste) as a possible alternative fuel. Last year, in one example, researchers from Ohio University came up with their own technology for extracting hydrogen from urine. Doing so, they say, requires less power than plucking it from water, as hydrogen can be separated more easily from the ammonia and urea chemical compounds present in pee. The four African teens likely are the youngest researchers yet to dabble in pee as power. Skepticism aside, can we all just agree that the foursome should be lauded for their efforts to find alternative power sources on a continent that could really use them?
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concises summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Key Articles From Years Past
Placebo Effect: A Cure in the Mind
February 25, 2009, Scientific American
"Mr. Wright" was dying from cancer of the lymph nodes ... and his doctors had exhausted all available treatments. Nevertheless, Mr. Wright was confident that a new anticancer drug called Krebiozen would cure him. [He] was bedridden and fighting for each breath when he received his first injection. But three days later [his] tumors had shrunk by half, and after 10 more days of treatment he was discharged from the hospital. Over the next two months, however, Mr. Wright became troubled by press reports questioning the efficacy of Krebiozen and suffered a relapse. His doctors decided to lie to him: an improved, doubly effective version of the drug was due to arrive the next day, they told him. Mr. Wright was ecstatic. The doctors then gave him an injection that contained not one molecule of the drug–and he improved even more than he had the last time. Soon he walked out of the hospital symptom-free. He remained healthy until two months later, when, after reading reports that exposed Krebiozen as worthless, he died within days. As Mr. Wright's experience illustrates, a patient's expectations and beliefs can greatly affect the course of an illness. When psychological factors tied to an inactive substance such as Krebiozen lead to recovery, doctors call the improvement a placebo effect. In recent decades reports have confirmed the efficacy of [these] treatments in nearly all areas of medicine. Placebos can help not only to alleviate illnesses with an obvious psychological component, such as pain, depression and anxiety, but also to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and inflammatory disorders. Occasionally, as in Mr. Wright's case, placebos have shrunk tumors.
Note: To view this article in full, click here. With such dramatic results, why isn't more money being poured into research on the power of the mind and our beliefs to affect our health?
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