Cyprus Banks Seize Deposits, New 'Dirty War' Pope, Militarization of Homeland Security
Revealing News Articles
March 19, 2013
Below are key excerpts of important news articles on the seizure of depositors' money by Cyprus banks to fund their bailout, revelations of the new Pope's involvement in Argentina's 'Dirty War' from 1976 to 1983, massive weapons purchases indicating militarization of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 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.
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Cypriot Bailout Sends Shivers Throughout the Euro Zone
March 18, 2013, New York Times
Europe's decision to force depositors in Cypriot banks to share in the cost of the latest euro zone bailout has sparked outrage in Cyprus and fears that a run on deposits over the weekend might spread to larger countries at risk like Spain and Italy. Under an emergency deal reached early Saturday in Brussels, a one-time tax of 9.9 percent is to be levied on Cypriot bank deposits of more than 100,000 euros, or $130,000, effective [March 19]. That will hit wealthy depositors – mostly Russians who have put vast sums into Cyprus's banks in recent years. But smaller deposits will also be taxed, at 6.75 percent, meaning that the banks will be confiscating money directly from retirees and ordinary workers to help pay the tab for the 10 billion euro bailout or $13 billion. Most of the 10 billion euros will go to bail out Cypriot banks, which took a blow when their substantial holdings of Greek government bonds were written down as part of that country's second bailout. The island's banks are also laden with loans made to Greek companies and individuals, which have turned sour as Greece endures its fourth year of economic and financial crisis. The "deposit tax", which is expected to raise 5.8 billion euros, was part of a bailout agreement ... among finance ministers from euro countries and representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. The Cypriot bailout follows those for Greece, Portugal, Ireland and the Spanish banking sector – and is the first where bank depositors will be touched.
Note: What gives anyone the right to seize the deposits of ordinary bank account holders? Is this the first step towards establishing a precedent for governments to seize anything they want from ordinary citizens? For a report indicating that the Cypriot people may not take this attack lying down, click here.
New Pope Tied up in Argentina's 'Dirty War' Debate
March 14, 2013, ABC News/Associated Press
It's beyond dispute that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, [the new Pope], failed to openly confront the 1976-1983 military junta as it kidnapped and killed thousands of people in a "dirty war" to eliminate leftist opponents. But human rights activists differ on how much responsibility Pope Francis personally deserves for the Argentine church's dark history of supporting the murderous dictatorship. Some leading Argentine human rights activists agree that Bergoglio, now 76, doesn't deserve to be lumped together with other church figures who were closely aligned with the dictatorship. "Perhaps he didn't have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship," Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for documenting the junta's atrocities, said. But others say Bergoglio's rise through the Argentine church since then has put him in many positions of power where he could have done more to atone for the sins of Catholic officials who did actively conspire with the dictators. Some priests even worked inside torture centers, and blessed those doing the killing. Bergoglio twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court in trials involving torture and murder inside the feared Navy Mechanics School and the theft of babies from detainees.
Jorge Bergoglio: Who is the new pope?
March 13, 2013, CBS News/Associated Press
Jorge Mario Bergoglio - who will be now known as Pope Francis - has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests. The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires ... is the first Jesuit to be elected pope. In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world's Catholics, Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility. Bergoglio is known to be conservative on spiritual issues. He opposes abortion, same-sex marriage and supports celibacy. Bergoglio's legacy as cardinal includes his efforts to repair the reputation of a church that lost many followers by failing to openly challenge Argentina's murderous 1976-83 dictatorship. Many Argentines remain angry over the church's acknowledged failure to openly confront a regime that was kidnapping and killing thousands of people as it sought to eliminate "subversive elements" in society. Bergoglio twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court, and when he eventually did testify in 2010, his answers were evasive, human rights attorney Myriam Bregman said. Bergoglio's own statements proved church officials knew from early on that the junta was torturing and killing its citizens, and yet publicly endorsed the dictators. The dictatorship could not have operated this way without this key support," [Bregman said.]
Father Marcial Maciel And The Popes He Stained
March 11, 2013, The Daily Beast/Newsweek
"A life ... out of moral bounds," is how Pope Benedict XVI described Maciel in a 2010 interview, two years after Maciel's death. A "wasted, twisted life." And a life that exposed shocking flaws in the Vatican and the papacy. The saga of Father Maciel opens a rare view onto the flow of money in the Roman Curia across the last half century. In the late 1940s, Maciel began sexually plundering teenage seminarians in the religious order he founded, the Legion of Christ. He also shuttled between Mexico, Venezuela, and Spain ... portraying his Legionaries as a force of resurgent orthodoxy, himself a fearless foe of Communism. Maciel won government support for seminary scholarships in Madrid, after the Spanish Civil War cemented ties between Francisco Franco's dictatorship and the Catholic hierarchy. Wealthy industrialists and patricians from the Spanish-speaking world poured money into Maciel's fledgling order. Legionaries called their leader Nuestro Padre (Our Father). They were taught that their founder was a living saint. They took private vows, swearing never to criticize Maciel or their superiors and to report on anyone who did. The cultlike insular culture Maciel molded would reward spying as an act of faith and shield Nuestro Padre from scrutiny as the youngest victims grew up and left the order, returning to Mexico and years of grappling with his traumatic impact on their lives.
Note: Jason Berry is author of Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.
Above the law
March 11, 2013, Washington Post
"The government of the United States," wrote Chief Justice John Marshall in his famous decision in Marbury v. Madison, "has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men." This principle – grounded in the Constitution, enforced by an independent judiciary – is central to the American creed. Citizens have rights, and fundamental to these is due process of the law. Yet last week Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking for the administration with an alarmingly casual nonchalance, traduced the whole notion of a nation of laws. First, the attorney general responded to Sen. Rand Paul's inquiry as to whether the president claimed the "power to authorize a lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil and without trial." Holder wrote that, speaking hypothetically, it is "possible to imagine" an extraordinary circumstance in which that power might become "necessary and appropriate." In response to the growing furor, Holder sent Paul another letter, stating clearly that the president has no authority to use a "weaponized drone" against an American in the United States who is "not engaged in combat." But that, of course, only underscores the issue. The country is waging a war on terrorism that admits no boundary and no end. Now Holder is saying that the president has the authority to kill Americans in the United States if they are "engaged in combat." No hearing, no review, no due process of law.
Note: For a disturbing report on the massive expansion of drones over US skies, click here.
1.6 Billion Rounds Of Ammo For Homeland Security? It's Time For A National Conversation
March 11, 2013, Forbes
The Denver Post, on February 15th, ran an Associated Press article entitled "Homeland Security aims to buy 1.6b rounds of ammo". It confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security has issued an open purchase order for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. Some of this purchase order is for hollow-point rounds, forbidden by international law for use in war, along with a frightening amount specialized for snipers. Also reported elsewhere, at the height of the Iraq War the Army was expending less than 6 million rounds a month. Therefore 1.6 billion rounds would be enough to sustain a hot war for 20+ years. DHS now is [also] showing off its acquisition of heavily armored personnel carriers, repatriated from the Iraqi and Afghani theaters of operation. The Department of Homeland Security is apparently taking delivery (apparently through the Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico VA, via the manufacturer – Navistar Defense LLC) of an undetermined number of [recently retrofitted] 'Mine Resistant Protected' MaxxPro MRAP vehicles for service on the streets of the United States." Why would they need such over-the-top vehicles on U.S. streets to withstand IEDs, mine blasts, and 50 caliber hits to bullet-proof glass? In a war zone... yes, definitely. [But] on the streets of America?
Note: For a U.S. Army field manual titled "Internment and Resettlement Operations" (FM 3-39.40) describing how large numbers of American citizens could be sent to internment camps if involved in "terrorist" activities, click here. The introduction to this document states, "Commanders will use technology and conduct police intelligence operations to influence and control populations, evacuate detainees and, conclusively, transition rehabilitative and reconciliation operations to other functional agencies." For a disturbing report on the massive expansion of drones over US skies, click here.
U.S. Air Force stops reporting data on Afghan drone strikes
March 10, 2013, NBC News/Reuters
With debate intensifying in the United States over the use of drone aircraft, the U.S. military said ... that it had removed data about air strikes carried out by unmanned planes in Afghanistan from its monthly air power summaries. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has increasingly used drones to target against ... militants overseas. The debate was intensified by Obama's decision to nominate his chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, an architect of the drone campaign, as the new director of the CIA. Brennan was sworn into office on [March 8] following a protracted confirmation battle that saw Senator Rand Paul attempt to block a vote on the nomination with a technical maneuver called a filibuster, in which he tried to prevent a vote by talking continuously. Paul held the Senate floor for more than 12 hours while talking mainly about drones, expressing concern that Obama's administration might use the aircraft to target U.S. citizens on home soil.
Note: For a disturbing report on the massive expansion of drones over US skies, click here.
Court Docs Reveal Blackwater's Secret CIA Past
March 14, 2013, The Daily Beast/Newsweek
Last month a three-year-long federal prosecution of Blackwater collapsed. The government's 15-felony indictment–on such charges as conspiring to hide purchases of automatic rifles and other weapons from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives–could have led to years of jail time for Blackwater personnel. In the end, however, the government got only misdemeanor guilty pleas by two former executives, each of whom were sentenced to four months of house arrest, three years' probation, and a fine of $5,000. Prosecutors dropped charges against three other executives named in the suit and abandoned the felony charges altogether. But the most noteworthy thing about the largely failed prosecution wasn't the outcome. It was the tens of thousands of pages of documents–some declassified–that the litigation left in its wake. These documents illuminate Blackwater's defense strategy: to defeat the charges it was facing, Blackwater built a case not only that it worked with the CIA–which was already widely known–but that it was in many ways an extension of the agency itself. [CEO Erik] Prince [said] recently, "Blackwater's work with the CIA began when we provided specialized instructors and facilities that the Agency lacked. In the years that followed, the company became a virtual extension of the CIA because we were asked time and again to carry out dangerous missions, which the Agency either could not or would not do in-house."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the growing privatization of intelligence agency functions, click here.
How the US public was defrauded by the hidden cost of the Iraq war
March 11, 2013, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
When the US invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration estimated that it would cost $50-60bn to overthrow Saddam Hussein and establish a functioning government. This estimate was catastrophically wrong: the war in Iraq has cost $823.2bn between 2003 and 2011. Some estimates suggest that it may eventually cost as much as $3.7tn when ... the long-term costs of caring for the wounded and the families of those killed [are factored in]. The most striking fact about the cost of the war in Iraq has been the extent to which it has been kept "off the books" of the government's ledgers and hidden from the American people. This was done by design. The most obvious way in which the true cost of this war was kept hidden was with the use of supplemental appropriations to fund the occupation. By one estimate, 70% of the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008 were funded with supplemental or emergency appropriations approved outside the Pentagon's annual budget. With the Iraq war treated as an "off the books" expense, the Pentagon was allowed to keep spending on high-end military equipment and cutting-edge technology. The Bush administration masked the cost of the war with deficit spending to ensure that the American people would not face up to its costs while President Bush was in office. [It] encouraged the American people to keep spending and "enjoy life", while the government paid for the occupation of Iraq on a credit card they hoped never to have to repay.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
The FBI's shameful recruitment of Nazi war criminals
March 6, 2013, Reuters
A trove of recently declassified documents leads to several inescapable conclusions about the FBI's role in protecting both proven and alleged Nazi war criminals in America. First, there can be no doubt that J. Edgar Hoover collected Nazis and Nazi collaborators like pennies from heaven. Unlike the military and its highly structured Operation Paperclip – with its specific targets, systematic falsification of visa applications, and creation of bogus biographies – Hoover had no organized program to find, vet, and recruit alleged Nazis and Nazi collaborators as confidential sources, informants, and unofficial spies in émigré communities around the country. Each Nazi collaborator that his agents stumbled upon, or learned about from the CIA, was both a potential spy and a potential anticommunist leader. Once they were discovered, Hoover sought them out, used them, and protected them. He had no interest in reporting alleged Nazi war criminals to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Justice Department, or the State Department for possible deportation or extradition. He appeared smug in his simplistic division of Americans into shadeless categories of bad guys and good guys, communists and anticommunists. Hoover was careful about the number of former Nazis and Nazi collaborators he placed on the FBI payroll. If Congress or its investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, ever insisted on a tally, he could say with a straight face that there were only a handful of paid confidential sources and informants. But if one adds the war criminals he informally cultivated and used, the number ranges well into the hundreds.
Note: This essay is adapted from Useful Enemies: John Demjanjuk and America's Open-Door Policy for Nazi War Criminals by Richard Rashke. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the games intelligence agencies play, click here.
Realities Behind Prosecuting Big Banks
March 11, 2013, New York Times
Are banks too big to jail? If there was any doubt about the answer to that question, Eric H. Holder Jr., the nation's attorney general, last week blurted out what we've all known to be true but few inside the Obama administration have said aloud: Yes, they are. "I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute – if we do bring a criminal charge – it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy," Mr. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large." Mr. Holder continued, acknowledging that the size of banks "has an inhibiting influence." To put this in the proper perspective, Mr. Holder said, for the first time, that he has not pursued prosecutions of big banks out of fear that an indictment could jeopardize the financial system. Does this mean that our banks are still too big to fail? Should we prosecute corporations? Should the size of an institution or its systemic importance influence the decision of prosecutors? "It has been almost five years since the financial crisis, but the big banks are still too big to fail," [Senator Elizabeth] Warren, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Attorney General Holder's testimony that the biggest banks are too-big-to-jail shows once again that it is past time to end too-big-to-fail."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government and finance, click here.
U.S. to let spy agencies scour Americans' finances
March 13, 2013, Chicago Tribune/Reuters
The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document. The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down [targeted persons] by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of "suspicious customer activity," such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The Federal Bureau of Investigation already has full access to the database. However, intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, currently have to make case-by-case requests for information to FinCEN. The Treasury plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before. Financial institutions file more than 15 million "suspicious activity reports" every year, according to Treasury. Banks, for instance, are required to report all personal cash transactions exceeding $10,000.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the games intelligence agencies play, click here.
Elizabeth Warren Wants HSBC Bankers Jailed for Money Laundering
March 7, 2013, ABC News
Elizabeth Warren has a question: How much money does a bank have to launder before people go to jail? Warren ... posed that question numerous times to financial regulators at a Senate Banking Committee hearing [on] banks and money laundering. In December, U.S. Justice Department officials announced that HSBC, Europe's largest bank, would pay a $1.92 billion fine after laundering $881 million for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia. The two regulators, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen and Federal Reserve Governor Jerome H. Powell, deflected Warren's questions, saying that criminal prosecutions are for the Justice Department to decide. An exasperated Warren said, as she wrapped up her questioning, "If you're caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you're going to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night – every single individual associated with this – and I just think that's fundamentally wrong."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government and finance, click here.
British Oversight Unit Says Police Failed to Pursue Sex Accusations Against Savile
March 13, 2013, New York Times
Police failures over five decades allowed Jimmy Savile, one of Britain's best-known television personalities, to escape investigation for a lifetime of sex offenses dating back to the early 1960s. [A] report detailed poor police procedures, missed opportunities and an unwillingness to pursue accusations against one of the country's biggest celebrities, whose renown also inhibited victims from coming forward. According to Tuesday's report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, which reviews police forces and policing in England and Wales and answers to Parliament, the police were first alerted to accusations of sex crimes by Mr. Savile in Cheshire in 1963. On that occasion, a male reported to a local police officer that Mr. Savile had raped him the day before, but was told to "forget about it" and "move on," and no official crime report was made or investigation undertaken, the inspectorate's report said. During Mr. Savile's lifetime, the inspectorate found, the police recorded five accusations of criminal conduct and two further pieces of intelligence about his behavior; the earliest of these formal entries in the records dated from 1964. "We have not found evidence to suggest that any investigation was carried out as a result of that intelligence," the document said. Since Mr. Savile's death in 2011, more than 600 people have come forward with information about him, including 450 who have made specific accusations.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on sexual abuse scandals, click here.
How letters from strangers saved a teen's life
March 8, 2013, CBS News
"There are a lot of kids out there that suffer depression and anxiety," said seventh-grader Noah Brocklebank. And not many are willing to talk about it on national television. Noah is okay with people calling him depressed -- mainly because, over the past couple years, he's been called worse. "Like 'fat,' 'ugly,' 'annoying,' 'loser,'" he recalled. Noah's mother Karen says the bullying, combined with his underlying depression, ultimately led to the night of January 26. That night, her son posted a clear warning on the Internet -- a picture of his arm all cut up and a note that read: "Day of scheduled suicide, February 8th, 2013, my birthday." It was to be his 13th birthday. "I just felt like everything was worthless," said Noah. "My life was terrible. I had no one." After that, Noah ended up in the hospital for eight days. And while he was in there, as his doctors assessed his mental health, his mother came up with a plan to improve his vision --- a plan for Noah to see more clearly how much he matters, how much he's loved, and that there really is life beyond seventh grade. So she asked some friends on Facebook to put all that in a letter. What happened next is a remarkable testament to both the power of social media and the kindness of strangers. Noah has received thousands of letters from every continent on the planet, including Antarctica. The sheer volume alone has brightened up his home a million watts. As for how this changed him, Noah said: "I was focused on the bad side of the people, like the bullies. Then I realized there are caring people out there that can be my friends."
Note: For a deeply moving four-minute video clip from an Emmy-award-winning documentary on bullying, click here. Explore a treasure trove of concises summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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