Top Economist on Wall St 'Crooks,' CIA's Secret Bags of Cash, Top CEO Pay 1,795 to 1
Revealing News Articles
May 7, 2013
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on top economist Jeffrey Sachs exposing Wall St 'crooks,' the CIA's secret bags of cash used to manipulate politics, the top CEO's pay being 1,795 times that of his lowest employee, and more. Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on inexpensive solar lamps for poor communities worldwide and the workers' cooperatives movement. To skip to the section on inspiring articles, click here.
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 spreading the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Top economist Jeffrey Sachs says Wall Street is full of 'crooks' and hasn't changed since the financial crash
April 29, 2013, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
One of the world's most respected economists has said Wall St is full of "crooks" and hasn't reformed its "pathological" culture since the financial crash. Professor Jeffrey Sachs told a high-powered audience at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve earlier this month that the lack of reform was down to "a docile president, a docile White House and a docile regulatory system that absolutely can't find its voice." Sachs, from Columbia University, has twice been named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World, and is an adviser to the World Bank and IMF. "What has been revealed, in my view, is prima facie criminal behavior," he said. "It's financial fraud on a very large extent. There's also a tremendous amount of insider trading. We have a corrupt politics to the core, I am afraid to say, and . . . both parties are up to their neck in this. This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans." Sachs described an environment of Wall Street influencing politicians with growing campaign contributions. In the 2012 election cycle, political contributions by the securities and investment sector hit $271.5 million, compared with $176 million in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. "I am going to put it very bluntly: I regard the moral environment as pathological. They have no responsibility to pay taxes; they have no responsibility to their clients; they have no responsibility to people, to counterparties in transactions," he said. "They are tough, greedy, aggressive and feel absolutely out of control in a quite literal sense, and they have gamed the system to a remarkable extent."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on criminal practices of Wall Street corporations, click here.
With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
April 29, 2013, New York Times
For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan's president – courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency. All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader. "We called it 'ghost money,' " said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai's deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. "It came in secret, and it left in secret." The C.I.A. ... has long been known to support some relatives and close aides of Mr. Karzai. But the new accounts of off-the-books cash delivered directly to his office show payments on a vaster scale, and with a far greater impact on everyday governing. Moreover, there is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the C.I.A. sought. Instead, some American officials said, the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington's exit strategy from Afghanistan. "The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan," one American official said, "was the United States." Now, Mr. Karzai is seeking control over the Afghan militias raised by the C.I.A. to target ... insurgent commanders, potentially upending a critical part of the Obama administration's plans for fighting militants as conventional military forces pull back this year. But the C.I.A. has continued to pay.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
CEO Pay 1,795-to-1 Multiple of Wages Skirts U.S. Law
April 29, 2013, Bloomberg News
Former fashion jewelry saleswoman Rebecca Gonzales and former Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson have one thing in common: J.C. Penney Co. no longer employs either. The similarity ends there. Johnson, 54, got a compensation package worth 1,795 times the average wage and benefits of a U.S. department store worker when he was hired in November 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Gonzales's hourly wage was $8.30 that year. Across the [S&P] 500 Index of companies, the average multiple of CEO compensation to that of rank-and-file workers is 204, up 20 percent since 2009, the data show. Almost three years after Congress ordered public companies to reveal actual CEO-to-worker pay ratios under the Dodd-Frank law, the numbers remain unknown. As the Occupy Wall Street movement and 2012 election made income inequality a social flashpoint, mandatory disclosure of the ratios remained bottled up at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which hasn't yet drawn up the rules to implement it. Some of America's biggest companies are lobbying against the requirement. "It's a simple piece of information stockholders ought to have," said Phil Angelides, who led the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which investigated the economic collapse of 2008. "The fact that corporate executives wouldn't want to display the number speaks volumes." The lobbying is part of "a street-by-street, block-by-block fight waged by large corporations and their Wall Street colleagues" to obstruct the Dodd-Frank law, he said.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here .
Why this is the worst economic recovery on record
April 15, 2013, Christian Science Monitor
We're now witnessing what happens when all of the economic gains go to the top. Four years into a so-called recovery and we're still below recession levels in every important respect except the stock market. A measly 88,000 jobs were created in March, and total employment remains some 3 million below its pre-recession level. Labor-force participation is it's lowest since 1979. The underlying problem is the vast middle class is running out of money. They can't borrow more – and shouldn't, given what happened after the last borrowing binge. Real annual median household income keeps falling. It's down to $45,018, from $51,144 in 2010. All the gains from the recovery continue to go to the top. Widening inequality is not inevitable. If we wanted to reverse it and restore middle-class prosperity, we could. We could award tax cuts to companies that link the pay of their hourly workers to profits and productivity, and that keep the total pay of their top 5 executives within 20 times the pay of their median worker. And impose higher taxes on companies that don't. We could raise the minimum wage to half the average wage. We could increase public investment in education, including early-childhood. We could eliminate college loans and allow all students to repay the cost of their higher education with a 10 percent surcharge on the first 10 years of income from full-time employment. And we could pay for all this by adding additional tax brackets at the top and increasing the top marginal tax rate to what it was before 1981 – at least 70 percent.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collapse of the global economy assisted by speculation and profiteering by financial corporations, click here.
Billionaires Flee Havens as Trillions Pursued Offshore
April 29, 2013, Businessweek
Billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, Russia's 14th-richest person, and his wife, Elena Rybolovleva, have been brawling for almost five years in at least seven countries over his $9.5 billion fortune. In a divorce complaint originated in Geneva in 2008, Rybolovleva accused her husband of using a "multitude of third parties" to create a network of offshore holding companies and trusts to place assets -- including about $500 million in art, $36 million in jewelry and an $80 million yacht -- beyond her reach. She has brought legal action against the 48-year-old Rybolovlev in the British Virgin Islands, England, Wales, the U.S., Cyprus, Singapore and Switzerland, and is seeking $6 billion. The suits provide a window into the offshore structures and secrecy jurisdictions the world's richest people use to manage, preserve and conceal their assets. According to Tax Justice Network, a U.K.-based organization that campaigns for transparency in the financial system, wealthy individuals were hiding as much as $32 trillion offshore at the end of 2010. Fewer than 100,000 people own $9.8 trillion of offshore assets. More than 30 percent of the world's 200 richest people, who have a $2.8 trillion collective net worth ...control part of their personal fortune through an offshore holding company or other domestic entity where the assets are held indirectly. These structures often hide assets from tax authorities or provide legal protection from government seizure and lawsuits.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on failure of governments to regulate great accumulations of wealth, click here.
Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant
April 30, 2013, New York Times
Two years after a triple meltdown that grew into the world's second worst nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is faced with a new crisis: a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain. Groundwater is pouring into the plant's ravaged reactor buildings at a rate of almost 75 gallons a minute. It becomes highly contaminated there, before being pumped out to keep from swamping a critical cooling system. A small army of workers has struggled to contain the continuous flow of radioactive wastewater, relying on ... storage tanks sprawling over 42 acres of parking lots and lawns. The tanks hold the equivalent of 112 Olympic-size pools. But even they are not enough to handle the tons of strontium-laced water at the plant – a reflection of the scale of the 2011 disaster. In a sign of the sheer size of the problem, the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, plans to chop down a small forest on its southern edge to make room for hundreds more tanks, a task that became more urgent when underground pits built to handle the overflow sprang leaks in recent weeks. While the company has managed to stay ahead, the constant threat of running out of storage space has turned into what Tepco itself called an emergency, with the sheer volume of water raising fears of future leaks at the seaside plant that could reach the Pacific Ocean. Two years after the meltdowns, the plant remains vulnerable to the same sort of large earthquake and tsunami that set the original calamity in motion.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on risks and corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
UN report wants to terminate killer robots, opposes life-or-death powers over humans
May 2, 2013, Washington Post/Associated Press
Killer robots that can attack targets without any human input "should not have the power of life and death over human beings," a new draft U.N. report says. The report for the U.N. Human Rights Commission ... deals with legal and philosophical issues involved in giving robots lethal powers over humans. Report author Christof Heyns, a South African professor of human rights law, calls for a worldwide moratorium on the "testing, production, assembly, transfer, acquisition, deployment and use" of killer robots until an international conference can develop rules for their use. The United States, Britain, Israel, South Korea and Japan have developed various types of fully or semi-autonomous weapons. Heyns focuses on a new generation of weapons that choose their targets and execute them. He calls them "lethal autonomous robotics," or LARs for short, and says: "Decisions over life and death in armed conflict may require compassion and intuition. Humans – while they are fallible – at least might possess these qualities, whereas robots definitely do not." The report goes beyond the recent debate over drone killings. Drones do have human oversight. The killer robots are programmed to make autonomous decisions on the spot without orders from humans. "Lethal autonomous robotics (LARs) ... would add a new dimension to this distancing [i.e., the remote control of drones], in that targeting decisions could be taken by the robots themselves. In addition to being physically removed from the kinetic action, humans would also become more detached from decisions to kill - and their execution," he wrote.
Note: The U.N. draft report is available at this link.
The Billionaire Brothers Behind America's Predator Drones -- And Their Very Strange Past
April 24, 2013, AlterNet
Gray Butte, CA: The General Atomics drone base, way out in the wastelands of the Mojave Desert ... today ranks as possibly the largest private drone base in the United States. General Atomics took the base over in 2001 and converted it into a testing and quality control facility for its drone fleet. This is where the company tests experimental drone technology--like the newfangled stealth bomber jet drone. But mostly the base is where General Atomics techs assemble and test their Predator and Reaper drones before breaking them down again and shipping them to eager customers in the Air Force, Border Patrol, National Guard and the CIA. The Guardian estimated that U.S. armed forces had about 250 General Atomics drones in 2012. And a good number of them first came through Grey Butte. [The] brothers who make them: Linden Stanley and James Neal Blue, the mysterious Blue brothers who own and run General Atomics. General Atomics does not disclose its financial information, but stats gleaned from public data show that they took in just under $5 billion from U.S. taxpayers from 2000 to 2009. Current annual revenue is estimated to between $600 million and $1 billion, with about 80 percent coming from government defense contracts. Today, General Atomics dominates 25% of the UAV market--a market that will only keep getting bigger and bigger.
Note: For lots more excellent background to the Blue brothers and their predator-producing company, read the NY Times article at this link.
Report: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's repeated requests for a lawyer were ignored
April 29, 2013, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The initial debate over the treatment of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev focused on whether he should be advised of his Miranda rights or whether the "public safety exception" justified delaying it. Now, the Los Angeles Times ... reports something which, if true, would be a much more serious violation of core rights than delaying Miranda warnings - namely, that ... Tsarnaev had repeatedly asked for a lawyer, but the FBI simply ignored those requests, instead allowing the interagency High Value Detainee Interrogation Group to continue to interrogate him alone: "Tsarnaev has not answered any questions since he was given a lawyer and told he has the right to remain silent by Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler on Monday, officials said. Until that point, Tsarnaev had been responding to the interagency High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, including admitting his role in the bombing, authorities said. A senior congressional aide said Tsarnaev had asked several times for a lawyer, but that request was ignored since he was being questioned under the public safety exemption to the Miranda rule." Denying him the right to a lawyer after he repeatedly requests one is ... as fundamental a violation of crucial guaranteed rights as can be imagined. To ignore the repeated requests of someone in police custody for a lawyer, for hours and hours, is just inexcusable and legally baseless. If the LA Times report is true, then it means that the DOJ did not merely fail to advise him of his right to a lawyer but actively blocked him from exercising that right.
Note: The government appears to be setting a precedent in seeing how far they can go with taking away our constitutionally guaranteed rights. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on civil liberties, click here.
Historic vote to ban neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for huge decline in bees
April 28, 2013, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A landmark step in the campaign to ban a nerve-agent pesticide blamed for causing mass die-offs in bees could be reached on [April 29] following one of the most intensive environmental lobbying battles of recent years. Months of furious argument which has pitched green groups, the chemical industry, farmers, scientists and politicians at bitter odds with each other will be decided in a crucial EU vote in Brussels. Britain's Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, has been criticised for failing to support a ban on three types of neonicotinoid pesticides which have been linked to a dramatic decline in the bee population. Last week, designers Katharine Hamnett and Vivienne Westwood handed a petition with 300,000 signatures to Downing Street demanding the Government support the initiative. They are backed by Friends of the Earth and the campaign group Avaaz, which has 2.6 million signatories on its online petition calling for the ban. But Mr Paterson [has] claimed he is the victim of a "cyber-attack" from opponents. Opponents of the moratorium reject the evidence of more than 30 scientific studies in the last three years showing the harmful impact of neonicotinoids on bees. The chemicals attack insects' nervous systems and are active in all aspects of a plant, meaning they are present in the pollen and nectar gathered by bees.
Note: As mentioned in this article, the excellent activist organization Avaaz.org played a key role in this. Check out their great website which has many millions of members at this link.
British Stars of Yesteryear Are Ensnared in Sexual Offenses Inquiry
May 2, 2013, New York Times
The suspects include a flamboyant pop star, a sharp-tongued comedian, [and] a disc jockey known as "the hairy cornflake". Most are in their 70s or 80s, and most are, or were, household names – celebrities from a bygone era. All have been caught up in ... Operation Yewtree, a nationwide inquiry into sexual offenses that may or may not have been committed decades ago. In American terms, it is as if Captain Kangaroo, Dick Clark and Jerry Lewis were suddenly being accused of committing sexual crimes dating back 30 or 40 years. Yewtree was formed in response to the disclosures last year that the entertainer Jimmy Savile had been a serial sexual predator with scores of victims, many of them under age, in an entertainment career spanning four decades. The case ... spurred hundreds of people to come forward with their own accounts of being sexually assaulted as teenagers. The operation involves at least 69 police officers and staff members and has already cost more than $2.7 million. The result has been a flurry of arrests, about a dozen involving very public people. England has no statute of limitations on serious crimes like rape and murder, yet it is notoriously hard to obtain convictions for sexual crimes, especially ones from years ago when no physical evidence exists. Mark Williams-Thomas, a former detective who amassed much of the evidence against Mr. Savile [said] "Savile lifted the lid on people who are considered untouchable because of their celebrity status."
Note: Another NY Times article reports on TV personality Stuart Hall, who "pleaded guilty to the charges last month, but the news media was prohibited from reporting the plea until now." Why was the media prohibited from reporting this? If you want to understand how pedophile rings have infiltrated the highest levels of government, don't miss the powerful Discovery Channel documentary on this available here.
The giants of the green world that profit from the planet's destruction
May 3, 2013, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The movement demanding that public interest institutions divest their holdings from fossil fuels is on a serious roll. Chapters have opened up in more than 100 US cities and states as well as on more than 300 campuses, where students are holding protests, debates and sit-ins to pressure their [universities] to rid their endowments of oil, gas and coal holdings. Some schools [in the UK], including University College London, ... already have active divestment campaigns. Four US colleges have announced their intention to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds and, in late April, 10 US cities made similar commitments, including San Francisco [and Seattle]. To quote the mission statement of the Fossil Free movement: "If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. We believe that educational and religious institutions, city and state governments, and other institutions that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels." An important target is missing from the list: the environmental organisations themselves. Some of the most powerful and wealthiest environmental organisations have long behaved as if they had a stake in the oil and gas industry. They led the climate movement down various dead ends: carbon trading, carbon offsets, natural gas as a "bridge fuel" – what these policies all held in common is that they created the illusion of progress while allowing the fossil fuel companies to keep mining, drilling and fracking with abandon.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on global warming, click here.
SF startup's solar lamps aid developing world
April 26, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Most of Donn Tice's customers make $4 to $6 a day. What little money they have, they guard. But they're willing to part with some of it, Tice says, for a product that can improve their lives. Tice's company, d.light, sells solar-powered lamps in the developing world. The lamps charge on their own during the daytime, shine for at least four hours at night and are designed to last more than five years. The standard model costs $30 - a significant investment for d.light's core customers. But the San Francisco startup has sold about 3 million lamps in the last five years, mostly in parts of rural Africa and India with limited access to electricity. "What we've discovered, frankly, is there's a much bigger global problem around reliable power than we imagined," said Tice, d.light's chief executive officer. D.light is one of a growing number of companies trying to make money by selling to the "bottom of the pyramid" - the world's poor. They see a vast, often-ignored pool of potential customers for a wide range of products, so long as those products serve real needs and are affordably priced. For entrepreneurs like Tice, there's the added lure of doing something that can help people pull themselves out of poverty. "I can't tell you how profoundly meaningful it is, how inspiring it is, to go to a village with our customers and go to a school where recently the students weren't using lights to study," Tice said. "It doesn't take a lot of imagination to visualize how really transformative that could be in the trajectory of their lives."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concises summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
EU Embraces 'Suspended Coffee': Pay It Forward With A Cup Of Joe
April 25, 2013, NPR
Tough economic times and growing poverty in much of Europe are reviving a humble tradition that began some one hundred years ago in the Italian city of Naples. It's called caff� sospeso – "suspended coffee": A customer pays in advance for a person who cannot afford a cup of coffee. The barista would keep a log, and when someone popped his head in the doorway of the cafe and asked, "Is there anything suspended?" the barista would nod and serve him a cup of coffee ... for free. It's an elegant way to show generosity: an act of charity in which donors and recipients never meet each other, the donor doesn't show off and the recipient doesn't have to show gratitude. It's fitting that the tradition started in Naples, a city that prides itself on having the best coffee in Italy. The caff� sospeso tradition waned as Italy entered the boom years of postwar reconstruction and La Dolce Vita. For decades, the custom was confined mainly to the Christmas season. Now, it's made a comeback. Two years ago, with the eurozone crisis already raging, unemployment rising and small businesses closing on a daily basis, more and more Italians could no longer afford the national beverage – an espresso or a cappuccino. Then someone remembered the old Neapolitan custom. So several nongovernmental organizations got together and – with the support of Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris – Dec.10 was formally declared "Suspended Coffee Day." The practice is now spreading to other crisis-ravaged parts of Europe.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concises summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
From Housing to Health Care, 7 Co-ops That Are Changing Our Economy
April 23, 2013, Yes! Magazine
Ideas for co-ops may flourish, but few people understand exactly how to make theirs real. The Co-op Academy is providing answers. Founded four years ago by Omar Freilla (who recently made Ebony magazine's list of the Power 100), the academy runs 16-week courses that offer intensive mentoring, legal and financial advice, and help designing logos and websites. Run by the South Bronx-based Green Worker Cooperative, the academy guides up to four teams per session through the startup process and has graduated four organizations now thriving in New York City. These include Caracol Interpreters, which is raising the bar on interpreter wages, and Concrete Green, which focuses on environmentally sound landscaping. Six more co-ops are in the pipeline. "I'm amazed at how little knowledge and information is out there for the average person about how co-ops function and how to start one," says Janvieve Williams Comrie, whose mother-owned cooperative Ginger Moon also came out of the program. "That's one thing the Co-op Academy really provides, the hands-on know-how." Even money for tuition ($1,500 per team) gets the treatment. Freilla is adamant that teams fundraise to cover that cost–even if they can foot the bill themselves. "By fundraising for the registration fee, you are promoting the vision for your cooperative, gaining supporters, and creating a buzz before the program even starts," he says. "That is just the kind of support that will propel your business forward, and while you're doing it you'll be getting an early opportunity to see just how well you and your teammates work together."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concises summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Seva Cafe Serves Generosity on a Platter
April 11, 2013, Forbes India Magazine
The milieu at Shantivan, a garden in Mumbai's tony Malabar Hill area, on February 17 was like a hangover from Valentine's Day. Placards displaying messages like 'Love is all we need' were tied to tree branches. The occasion was the second monthly lunch hosted by Seva Café. Omnipresent at the venue was a bespectacled man [named] Siddharth Sthalekar, who was orchestrating this "generosity enterprise". About three years ago, he was the co-head of the derivatives trading desk and the head of algorithmic trading at Edelweiss Capital. [One] morning in 2010 [he took the decision] to throw it all away. For some time, the 31-year-old Mumbaikar had been contemplating quitting his cushy job to explore if there is an alternative to the premise of accumulation that seemed to drive individuals in the corporate world. When he finally took the plunge, he set out to travel across India with his wife Lahar. Over the next six months, as they visited several non-profit organisations, they woke up to the concept of gift economy where goods and services are extended without any formal quid pro quo. This motto formed the cornerstone of Moved by Love, an incubator at Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, which carries out various projects. One such project, Seva Café, was in hibernation. Sthalekar ... and his wife became its core volunteers and helped reopen it in September 2011. Seva Café practises giving, the antithesis to accumulation. At the café, volunteers cook and serve meals every week from Thursday to Sunday for free. What is Sthalekar's takeaway from the experiment? The idea, he says, is to trust the assumption that every individual, irrespective of his economic standing, can be generous. [He] hopes that people will develop the habit of being generous even outside the café–in all environments and circumstances.
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