US Stock Market Rigged, Billionaires Take Over US Elections, Netherlands Prisoner Shortage
Revealing News Articles
April 14, 2014
Below are key excerpts of important news articles on the rigging of the US stock market by computerized operations controlled by the biggest investors, the new open season for billionaires' money in the US electoral system, the FBI's special operations role in wars abroad, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on the shortage of prisoners in the Netherlands and a new technology to create liquid fuel from seawater. You can also skip to this section now.
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.
Special note: For a beautiful, three-minute video showing the deep joy of giving and spreading love, click here. For an intriguing, seven-minute video with speculations about the disappearance of Malaysian Flight 370, click here. For a great article titled "21 Technologies That Will Decentralize the World," click here. To access a database of all documents released so far from the Edward Snowden cache, click here. For a powerful Ted Talk on the challenges of being transgendered, click here. If you are having problems sleeping, try turning off all your electronics. For more, click here.
Quote of the Week: "It's not what happens to you that matters, it's what you do with it." -- W. Mitchell
Is the U.S. stock market rigged?
March 30, 2014, CBS News
In the last two weeks, the New York attorney general and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission in Washington have both launched investigations into high-frequency computerized stock trading that now controls more than half the market. The probes were announced just ahead of a much anticipated book on the subject by best-selling author Michael Lewis called Flash Boys. In it, Lewis argues that the stock market is now rigged to benefit a group of insiders that have made tens of billions of dollars exploiting computerized trading. The story is told through an unlikely cast of characters who figured out what was going on and have devised a plan to correct it. It could have a huge impact on Wall Street. Tonight, Michael Lewis talks about it for the first time. Steve Kroft: What's the headline here? Michael Lewis: Stock market's rigged. The United States stock market, the most iconic market in global capitalism is rigged. Steve Kroft: By whom? Michael Lewis: By a combination of these stock exchanges, the big Wall Street banks and high-frequency traders. Steve Kroft: Who are the victims? Michael Lewis: Everybody who has an investment in the stock market. If it wasn't complicated, it wouldn't be allowed to happen. The complexity disguises what is happening. If it's so complicated you can't understand it, then you can't question it. Steve Kroft: And this is all being done by computers? Michael Lewis: All being done by computers. It's too fast to be done by humans. Humans have been completely removed from the marketplace. The insiders are able to move faster than you.
Note: For an amazing story of greed and manipulation exposed on Wall Street, see the New York Times article on Flash Boys at this link.
Slouching toward oligarchy
April 2, 2014, Baltimore Sun
America is not yet an oligarchy, but that's where Charles and David Koch and a few other billionaires are taking us. Around a quarter century ago, as income and wealth began concentrating at the top, the Republican and Democratic parties started to morph into mechanisms for extracting money, mostly from wealthy people. Finally, after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010, billionaires began creating their own political mechanisms, separate from the political parties. They now give big money directly to political candidates of their choice, and mount their own media campaigns to sway public opinion toward their own views. So far in the 2014 election cycle, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers' political front group, has aired more than 17,000 broadcast TV commercials, compared with only 2,100 aired by Republican Party groups. Americans for Prosperity has also been outspending top Democratic super PACs in nearly all of the Senate races Republicans are targeting this year. In seven of the nine races, the difference in total spending is at least 2-to-1, and Democratic super PACs have had virtually no air presence in five of the nine states. Four of the top five contributors to 2014 super PACs are now giving money to political operations they themselves created, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Billionaires squaring off against each other isn't remotely a democracy. When billionaires supplant political parties, candidates are beholden directly to the billionaires. And if and when those candidates win election, the billionaires will be completely in charge.
Note: For more on the systemic control of money in US elections, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Inside the FBI's secret relationship with the military's special operations
April 10, 2014, Washington Post
The FBI's transformation from a crime-fighting agency to a counterterrorism organization in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been well documented. Less widely known has been the bureau's role in secret operations against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other locations around the world. With the war in Afghanistan ending, FBI officials have become more willing to discuss a little-known alliance between the bureau and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that allowed agents to participate in hundreds of raids in Iraq and Afghanistan. The relationship benefited both sides. JSOC used the FBI's expertise in exploiting digital media and other materials to locate insurgents and detect plots, including any against the United States. The bureau's agents, in turn, could preserve evidence and maintain a chain of custody should any suspect be transferred to the United States for trial. In early 2003, two senior FBI counterterrorism officials traveled to Afghanistan to meet with the Joint Special Operations Command's deputy commander at Bagram air base. The pace of activity in Afghanistan was slow at first. An FBI official said there was less than a handful of [Hostage and Rescue Team] deployments to Afghanistan in those early months; the units primarily worked with the SEALs as they hunted top al-Qaeda targets. The tempo quickened with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. At first, the HRT's mission was mainly to protect other FBI agents when they left the Green Zone, former FBI officials said. In 2005, all of the HRT members in Iraq began to work under JSOC.
Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The "Cuban Twitter" Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket
April 4, 2014, The Intercept
This week, the Associated Press exposed a secret program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development to create "a Twitter-like Cuban communications network" run through "secret shell companies" in order to create the false appearance of being a privately owned operation. Unbeknownst to the service's Cuban users was the fact that "American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes"–specifically, to manipulate those users in order to foment dissent in Cuba and subvert its government. This sort of operation is frequently discussed at western intelligence agencies, which have plotted ways to covertly use social media for "propaganda," "deception," "mass messaging," and "pushing stories." One previously undisclosed top-secret document–prepared by GCHQ for the 2010 annual "SIGDEV" gathering of the "Five Eyes" surveillance alliance comprising the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S.–explicitly discusses ways to exploit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media as secret platforms for propaganda. Those programs, carried out in secrecy and with little accountability ... threaten the integrity of the internet itself, as state-disseminated propaganda masquerades as free online speech and organizing. There is thus little or no ability for an internet user to know when they are being covertly propagandized by their government, which is precisely what makes it so appealing to intelligence agencies, so powerful, and so dangerous.
Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Why aren't we putting US agencies on trial for financing El Chapo's drug war?
April 10, 2014, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Since [the days of Al Capone,] Chicago officials have awarded "Public Enemy No 1" status to only one other person: cartel billionaire Joaquín Guzman Loera, better known – now to the world over – as "El Chapo". But nearly seven weeks before [his February] capture at a beach resort, the Mexican newspaper El Universal reported how US agencies had armed and financed El Chapo's Sinaloa criminal empire for at least 12 years. That link has been substantiated by DEA and Justice Department court testimonies, and even US agents confirmed the financing had been approved by high-ranking officials and federal prosecutors. But the American media barely reported how entrenched the American government has become in the Mexican drug trade. The latest installment of the "war on drugs" has killed 100,000 people since its official declaration by Mexican President Filipe Calderon and US President George W Bush in 2006. During this period, the US-El Chapo partnership was reportedly never closer: under the deal, Washington allowed El Chapo's Sinaloa cartel to carry on business as usual while top Sinaola members, for their part, provided information on their rivals. DEA agents met with their informants more than 50 times, El Universal reported, as the agents offered their whisperers immunity. American patronage goes well beyond stoking the largest and most powerful of the Mexican cartels (Sinaloa), as well as the most heinous (Golfo and Los Zetas). Drug arrests of cartel associates amounted to less than 2% of over 50,000 arrests made in the first four years of the Bush-Calderon partnership.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The Unemployment Puzzle: Where Have All the Workers Gone?
April 4, 2014, Wall Street Journal
A big puzzle looms over the U.S. economy: Only 63.2% of Americans 16 or older are participating in the labor force, which ... is down substantially since 2000. As recently as the late 1990s, the U.S. was a nation in which employment, job creation and labor force participation went hand in hand. That is no longer the case. The unemployment rate, the figure that dominates reporting on the economy, is the fraction of the labor force (those working or seeking work) that is unemployed. This rate has declined slowly since the end of the Great Recession. What hasn't recovered over that same period is the labor force participation rate, which today stands roughly where it did in 1977. Labor force participation rates increased from the mid-1960s through the 1990s, driven by more women entering the workforce, baby boomers entering prime working years in the 1970s and 1980s, and increasing pay for skilled laborers. But over the past decade, these trends have leveled off. At the same time, the participation rate has fallen, particularly in the aftermath of the recession. The drop is a function of various factors, including simple discouragement, poor work incentives created by public policies, inadequate schooling and training, and a greater propensity to seek disability insurance. Globalization and technological change have also reduced employment and wage growth for low-skilled workers–which raises questions about whether current policy is focused enough on helping workers to achieve the skills necessary to work productively and earn decent incomes.
Note: For more on the devastating impact of financial power and government policy on US workers, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Monsanto: The Enemy Of Family Farmers
April 2, 2014, Huffington Post
Consumers around the world are becoming aware of the dangers of industrial, chemical-based agriculture. The most legitimate science and research bodies recommend turning toward organic and sustainable agriculture, shunning genetically engineered (GE or GMO) products and the chemicals they are designed to promote. With the growth and power of the food movement, corporate giants are beginning to take action. After decades of employing a "block-us-and-we'll-sue-you" approach, Monsanto recently began an intense makeover PR campaign: popularity by association. Monsanto is cozying up to the reputation, authenticity and wholesomeness of family farmers -- and hoping the all-American nostalgia many associate with the small scale farmer rubs off on them. During the Super Bowl, key media markets saw Monsanto's "It Begins with a Farmer" commercials, which were intended to demonstrate that the company shares the same values as family farmers and the consumers they feed and clothe. In reality, Monsanto is no friend to the family farmer or the communities they live in and support. In fact, Monsanto (and other chemical companies like Dow Chemical, Syngenta, BASF, Pioneer/Dupont, and Bayer) have forced small farmers into a dying breed. The cost of industrial agriculture forces farmers to get big or get out. This is particularly true of GE herbicide-resistant seeds, which USDA economists tell us have contributed to increased consolidation of farmland in fewer hands. In the end, family farmers get squeezed out by the mammoth farms enabled by biotechnology.
Note: For more on corporate corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
10 things wrong with what kids learn in school
April 2, 2014, Washington Post blog
Mainstream media, cued by corporate press releases, routinely claim that America's schools are markedly inferior to schools in other developed nations. The claim is part of an organized, long-running, generously funded campaign to undermine confidence in public schools to "prove" the need to privatize them. Educators have been handicapped for more than a century by a curriculum adopted to serve a too-narrow purpose–admission to college–and failure to address that curriculum's problems has made the institution vulnerable to destructive corporate and political manipulation. Below are brief descriptions of some of the more obvious of those problems. 1. The standard core curriculum is stuck in the past. Adopted in the late 19th Century, the curriculum now shaping America's schools reflects the "big idea" of that earlier era–the factory system, standardization of parts, mass production, centralized decision making, and passive worker compliance. None of those fit the present era. 2. The standard core curriculum is so inefficient it leaves little or no time for apprenticeships, internships, co-op programs, projects, and other ways of "learning by doing" (which is how most of us learned most of what we know). 3. The standard core curriculum gives thought processes other than recall short shrift, or no attention at all. The ability to remember is, of course, important, but the main educational challenge–making better sense of real-world experience–requires the ability not merely to recall but to infer, generalize, hypothesize, relate, synthesize, value, and so on. 4. The standard core curriculum ignores vast and important fields of knowledge.
Secret Spaceplane, Mystery Mission
April 7, 2014, Yahoo News/The Daily Beast
The Air Force's secret space plane has been up in orbit for nearly 500 days–a space endurance record. But nearly a year and a half into the mission, the Pentagon still won't say what the X-37B is doing up there, or when it might come back. The U.S. Air Force boosted the robotic X-37B atop the nose of an Atlas-5 rocket in December 2012. Since then it's orbited the Earth thousands of times, overflying such interesting places as North Korea and Iran. The U.S. Air Force will not comment on what kind of missions the X-37B does in space. The service, which doesn't mind talking about the space drone as a technological achievement, clams up when discussing actual missions. Brian Weeden, a former Air Force officer with the Space Command's Joint Space Operations Center and now at the Secure World Foundation, believes that the X-37B is primarily a test bed for new technologies. "I think it is primarily an ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) platform for testing new sensor technologies or validating new technologies." Weeden [said]. "The current [flight] has basically been in the same orbit since launch, with only the occasional maneuver to maintain that orbit. That's consistent with a remote sensing/ISR mission." The X-37B is probably testing technologies that might be incorporated into the spy satellites of the future. New cameras, radars, and other sensors could be tested in space and then brought back to Earth for study.
Note: For more on government secrecy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Jimmy Carter Talks About Iran, Campus Rape, Jesus Christ and the Paintings of W
April 10, 2014, Time Magazine
After speaking [on April 8] at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, [former President Jimmy] Carter spoke with TIME by phone about his recent [activities] and his recent book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.You say in A Call to Action that Jesus Christ was the greatest liberator of women in his culture. Why was that? One of the examples that he set invariably in every word and deed of his life was to emphasize the equality of women and even to exalt women well beyond any status they had enjoyed in any previous decades or centuries or even since then. What could the U.S. do better to address human trafficking? [In the US] for every brothel owner or pimp or male customer, there are 50 girls who are arrested for being prostitutes. Other countries have tried the other way around, and it works beautifully. Sweden is the No. 1 example that other countries are now emulating, where they bring the charges against the brothel owners and the pimps and the male customers, and they do not prosecute the girls, who quite often are brought into that trade involuntarily. You said last week that "the U.S. is the No. 1 warmonger on earth". Yes, it is. It has been. You can look at the record: ever since the United Nations was formed after the Second World War, the United States has almost constantly been at war somewhere. There are about 30 countries where we have initiated armed conflict.
Key Articles From Years Past
Living with death by drone
October 4, 2012, Los Angeles Times
Last week, Stanford University and New York University released a major study about the use of drones in the ever-evolving but never-ending war on terror. Drones are terrorizing an entire civilian population. [We] spent weeks in Pakistan interviewing more than 60 people from North Waziristan. Many were survivors of strikes. Others had lost loved ones and family members. All of them live under the constant threat of annihilation. What my colleagues and I learned from these unnamed and unknown victims of America's drone warfare gave the report its title: "Living Under Drones." Drones are a constant presence in the skies above the North Waziristan tribal area in Pakistan, with as many as six hovering over villages at any one time. People hear them day and night. They are an inescapable presence, the looming specter of death from above. And that presence is steadily destroying a community twice the size of Rhode Island. The routines of daily life have been ripped to shreds. Indisputably innocent people cower in their homes, afraid to assemble on the streets. "Double taps," or secondary strikes on the same target, have stopped residents from aiding those who have been injured. A leading humanitarian agency now delays assistance by an astonishing six hours. What makes this situation even worse is that no one can tell people in these communities what they can do to make themselves safe. No one knows who is on the American kill list, no one knows how they got there and no one knows what they can do to get themselves off. It's all terrifyingly random. Suddenly, and without warning, a missile launches and obliterates everyone within a 16-yard radius.
Note: The author of this report, Jennifer Gibson, is a staff attorney with Reprieve, a London-based legal charity that represents dozens of Pakistani drone victims. For an excellent, seven-minute video by professors exploring the tragic reality of drone strikes in Pakistan, click here. For the "Living Under Drones" website where you can read a summary and download this report by Stanford University and the New York Times, click here. To learn about a beautiful movement to place large photos of children's faces in target areas to stop drone operators from killing innocents, click here.
CIA Mind-Control Experiments
August 6, 2010, Time Magazine
At the height of the Cold War, the CIA conducted covert, illegal scientific research on human subjects. Known as Project MK-ULTRA, the program subjected humans to experiments with drugs such as LSD and barbiturates, hypnosis and (some reports indicate) radiological and biological agents. In 1973, CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all documents from Project MK-ULTRA destroyed. Nevertheless, late the following year, the New York Times reported on the illegal activities. In 1975, the Church Committee, headed by Senator Frank Church, and a commission headed by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller investigated the project. They found that over more than two decades, the CIA spent nearly $20 million, enlisted the services of researchers at more than 30 universities and conducted experiments on subjects without their knowledge. Some of the research was performed in Canada. Some historians argue that the goal of the program was to create a mind-control system by which the CIA could program people to conduct assassinations. In 1953, Richard Condon dramatized the idea in the thriller The Manchurian Candidate, which was adapted into a film starring Frank Sinatra. Such ultimately wacky ideas were also dramatized in the recent George Clooney film The Men Who Stare at Goats.
Note: For more on CIA mind control experiments, see the extensive documentation available here.
Netherlands face prison undercrowding crisis
April 11, 2014, CBS News/Associated Press
The Dutch government is facing an unusual crisis: Prison undercrowding. There are now more guards and other prison staff than there are prisoners in the Netherlands for the first time, according to data released by the Justice Ministry. In 2008, there were around 15,000 inmates, in a country of 17 million. As of March of this year, there were just 9,710 inmates remaining, compared with 9,914 guards. And the number of inmates included 650 Belgian criminals the Netherlands is housing as part of a temporary deal. In the U.S., the figure is more like one guard or staff member per five prisoners. The overall U.S. incarceration rate is more than 10 times higher. Justice Ministry spokesman Jochgem van Opstal said "we're studying what the reason for the decline is." The ministry is already in the process of closing prisons and cutting 3,500 staff. Last week, labor union Abvakabo FNV slammed the cuts, saying they were leading to "staffing shortages." "At this moment you can't say there is any safety in Dutch prisons," union leader Corrie van Brenk said in an interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS. "It's an explosive situation." The government has rejected the criticism, saying violent incidents at prisons have been declining. One change politicians are considering is ending a practice of granting probation to criminals once they have served two-thirds of their sentences.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concises summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Goodbye, Oil: US Navy Cracks New Renewable Energy Technology To Turn Seawater Into Fuel, Allowing Ships To Stay At Sea Longer
April 8, 2014, International Business Times
After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world's great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel. The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military's dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a "game changer" because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea. The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it. The Navy's 289 vessels all rely on oil-based fuel, with the exception of some aircraft carriers and 72 submarines that rely on nuclear propulsion. The breakthrough came after scientists developed a way to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas from seawater. The gasses are then turned into a fuel by a gas-to-liquids process with the help of catalytic converters. The next challenge for the Navy is to produce the fuel in industrial quantities. It will also partner with universities to maximize the amount of CO2 and carbon they can recapture. "For the first time we've been able to develop a technology to get CO2 and hydrogen from seawater simultaneously. That's a big breakthrough," said Dr. Heather Willauer, a research chemist who has spent nearly a decade on the project, adding that the fuel "doesn't look or smell very different."
Note: Strangely, the major media networks appear to be largely silent on this important breakthrough, except for Forbes, which downplays the whole thing, as you can see at this link. Explore a treasure trove of concises summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Collective thoughts that heal
March 28, 2014, lynnemctaggart.com
A remarkable study carried out by Harvard University [is] detailed in Dr. Joe Dispenza's fascinating new book You are the Placebo. In 1981, eight men in their 70s and 80s attended a five-day retreat at a monastery in Peterborough, New Hampshire, organized by Harvard University, where they were asked to pretend that they were 22 years younger than their present age. When they got there, they discovered constant reminders of two decades previously: old issues of Life magazine and the Saturday Evening Post, shows on TV that had been popular in the late 50s, radios playing Perry Como and Nat King Cole. The men were asked to discuss events that had been current two decades before: Fidel Castro's sudden ascendancy to power in Cuba, Nikita Khrushchev's stand-off with Eisenhower in a US meeting, homeruns hit by Mickey Mantle and knock-out punches by Floyd Patterson. This carried on throughout the five days of the retreat. After the retreat ended, the researchers took the same physiological measurements they'd carried out at start of the study and discovered that the men actually had grown 'taller'; they showed improved height, weight and gait, their postured straightened, their joints had become more flexible, their hearing, eyesight, grip strength, memory and general mental cognition had all improved. In fact, by the end of the five days, many of these octogenarians had given up their canes and were playing touch football. Once they'd been reminded of their younger selves, their bodies actually became younger – and all in less than a week. 'The change wasn't just in their minds,' wrote Dispenza, 'it was also in their bodies.'
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concises summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Meditation Has the Power to Influence Your Genes
December 9, 2013, Psychology Today
In a groundbreaking discovery, a collaborative team of researchers from Wisconsin, Spain, and France reported in December 2013 the first evidence of specific molecular changes at a genetic level following a period of mindfulness meditation. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice," says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. The study compared the effects of a single day of intensive mindfulness practice between a group of experienced meditators and a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After an intensive day of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a dramatic range of genetic and molecular differences. Meditation was found to alter levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. "Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs," says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona in Spain, where the molecular analyses were conducted. In past studies, mindfulness-based training has been shown to have beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders. Meditation is endorsed by the American Heart Association as an effective way to lower [the] risk for heart disease. Another study from April 2011 found that meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain.
Note: For an excellent and inspiring book on how your thinking and feeling can change your genes, check out Bruce Lipton's Biology of Belief, available 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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