Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Media Articles in Major Media
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The Obama administration is facing criticism for prosecutions brought under the US Espionage Act against government employees accused of leaking sensitive information. Mark Feldstein, professor of media at the University of Maryland, sees a worrying trend of espionage prosecutions since President Obama took office. "To everyone's surprise, the Obama administration has escalated the war against whistleblowers and the attacks on information that journalists and the public were depending on to get evidence of wrongdoing by powerful institutions and individuals," Prof Feldstein says. On Friday, Thomas Drake, a former senior official at the National Security Agency, a highly secretive US spy agency, was sentenced to one year's probation, after the Department of Justice's case against him collapsed. He had been accused of passing on information to a journalist about a government computer programme he considered wasteful. Outside court, Mr Drake said the government's prosecution had been "vindictive and malicious". According his lawyer Jesselyn Radack, the charge that he passed on secret information was a ''bald-faced lie''. Critics say the US classification system is often arbitrary, with documents often stamped ''classified'' when the content is not secret or that sensitive.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on government threats to civil liberties, click here.
With little notice and only occasional complaints, the American military and local authorities have been engaged in an ambitious effort to record biometric identifying information on a remarkable number of people in Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly men of fighting age. Information about more than 1.5 million Afghans has been put in databases operated by American, NATO and local forces. In Iraq, an even larger number of people, and a larger percentage of the population, have been registered. Data have been gathered on roughly 2.2 million Iraqis. A citizen in Afghanistan or Iraq would almost have to spend every minute in a home village and never seek government services to avoid ever crossing paths with a biometric system. What is different from traditional fingerprinting is that the government can scan through millions of digital files in a matter of seconds. While the systems are attractive to American law enforcement agencies, there is serious legal and political opposition to imposing routine collection on American citizens. Various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have discussed biometric scanning, and many have even spent money on hand-held devices. But the proposed uses are much more limited, with questions being raised about constitutional rights of privacy and protection from warrantless searches.
Note: Many new technologies for domestic population control are developed, deployed, and tested by the US military in war theaters abroad, and then shared with police agencies in the US. For many examples see our "Non-lethal" Weapons article archive available here.
The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, long after it issued guidelines meant to protect children, and the Vatican tacitly encouraged the cover-up by ignoring the guidelines, according to a scathing report issued Wednesday by the Irish government. Abuse victims called the report more evidence that the church sought to protect priests rather than children. The Cloyne Report, as it is known, drafted by an independent investigative committee headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, found that the clergy in the Diocese of Cloyne, a rural area of County Cork, did not act on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to 2009. The Cloyne Report is the Irish government’s fourth in recent years on aspects of the scandal. It shows that abuses were still occurring and being covered up 13 years after the church in Ireland issued child protection guidelines in 1996, and that civil officials were failing to investigate allegations. The report warned that other dioceses might have similar failings. Most damaging, the report said that the Congregation for the Clergy, an arm of the Vatican that oversees the priesthood, had not recognized the 1996 guidelines. That “effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures” and “gave comfort and support” to priests who “dissented from the stated Irish church policy,” the report said.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on institutional secrecy, click here.
U.S. officials ... defended a tactic used by the CIA to attempt to verify the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden — the covert creation of a vaccine program in Abbottabad, the town in Pakistan where he was later killed in a U.S. raid. The vaccine drive was conducted shortly before the raid in early May ... and was overseen by a Pakistani doctor who traveled to Abbottabad. A senior U.S. official said the campaign involved actual hepatitis vaccine and should not be construed as a “fake public health effort. The vaccination campaign was part of the hunt for the world’s top terrorist, and nothing else.” The doctor who oversaw the effort has since been arrested by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency for cooperating with the CIA. U.S. officials have said they are seeking to have him released. The senior U.S. official declined to say whether DNA from bin Laden’s relatives was collected as part of the vaccine program. Officials have previously said, however, that they used DNA analysis to confirm bin Laden’s identify after he was killed. In doing so, they used samples taken from known relatives.
Note: For information about a disturbing Pentagon program using vaccinations to combat religious fundamentalism, click here.
As recently as a decade ago, farms in the Midwest [commonly contained] unruly patches of milkweed amid the neat rows of emerging corn or soybeans. Not anymore. Fields are now planted with genetically modified corn and soybeans resistant to the herbicide Roundup, allowing farmers to spray the chemical to eradicate weeds, including milkweed. A growing number of scientists fear it is imperiling the monarch butterfly, whose spectacular migrations make it one of the most beloved of insects. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, and their larvae eat it. Experts like Chip Taylor say the growing use of genetically modified crops is threatening the orange-and-black butterfly by depriving it of habitat. “This milkweed has disappeared from at least 100 million acres of these row crops,” said Dr. Taylor, an insect ecologist at the University of Kansas and director of the research and conservation program Monarch Watch. “Your milkweed is virtually gone.” About five times as much of the weed killer was used on farmland in 2007 as in 1997, a year after the Roundup Ready crops were introduced, and roughly 10 times as much as in 1993. “It kills everything,” said Lincoln P. Brower, an entomologist at Sweet Briar College who is also an author of the paper documenting the decline of monarch winter populations in Mexico. “It’s like absolute Armageddon for biodiversity over a huge area.” A spokesman for Monsanto, the inventor of the Roundup Ready crops and the manufacturer of Roundup, agreed.
In the months before Osama bin Laden was [allegedly] killed, the Central Intelligence Agency ran a phony vaccination program in Abbottabad, Pakistan, as a ruse to obtain DNA evidence from members of Bin Laden’s family thought to be holed up in an expansive compound there, according to an American official. The vaccination program ... adds a new twist to the months of spy games that preceded the nighttime raid in early May. It has also aggravated already strained tensions between the United States and Pakistan. The operation was run by a Pakistan doctor, Shakil Afridi, whom Pakistani spies have since arrested for his suspected collaboration with the Americans. Dr. Afridi remains in Pakistani custody, the American official said. Obama administration officials have said publicly they were not sure whether Bin Laden was in Abbottabad when dozens of Navy Seals commandos stormed the house in May. Pakistani military and intelligence operatives were furious about the American raid ... and relations between the United States and Pakistan have only plummeted since. Pakistani officials have suggested that they might use troops to repel another incursion into Pakistan.
Note: For WantToKnow team member David Ray Griffin's book, Osama bin Laden: Dead of Alive?, demonstrating the high likelihood that Osama Bin Laden died in 2001, click here. For a four-minute leaked Pentagon video revealing plans to use vaccines to secretly modify behavior, click here.
For Muoy You, "the power of education" isn't an abstract concept. She's seen it transform the life of her family. Her father was a bicycle repairman, and her mother an illiterate street vendor. Yet her four children are all university graduates. Muoy grew up poor in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, during the Vietnam War. In 1972 she won a scholarship to study in France. It would save her from Pol Pot's killing fields, where her parents and siblings were among the 2 million dead. She spent the next two decades in exile, raising a family and working as a teacher in Africa and the Middle East. Now Muoy wants to transform the prospects of other Cambodian families by giving children of low-income cleaners, laborers, farmers, and tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) drivers a high-quality education. "I don't just want to teach them to read and write," she stresses. "I want them to become professionals, writers, thinkers, artists – to make their country proud." Upon returning home to Phnom Penh in 2003, Muoy set up the Seametrey Children's Village, a private initiative. "You shouldn't just stick children behind desks," Muoy explains. "You need to help them retain their childlike curiosity and spontaneity." Word of her school spread. Parents pay according to their means. The poorest pay nothing; some pay small sums they can afford. Expatriates and better-off locals pay the full monthly fee of $290. Currently, the school has 80 students, from toddlers to teens.
Note: Visit seametreycambodia.org
However much they might deplore tabloid methods and articles — the photographers lurking in the bushes; the reporters in disguise entrapping subjects into sexual indiscretion or financial malfeasance; the editors paying tens of thousands of dollars for exclusive access to the mistresses of politicians and sports stars; the hidden taping devices; the constant stream of stories about illicit sex romps — politicians have often been afraid to say so publicly, for fear of losing the papers’ support or finding themselves the target of their wrath. If showering politicians with political rewards for cultivating his support has been the carrot in the Murdoch equation, then punishing them for speaking out has generally been the stick. But the latest revelations in the phone-hacking scandal appear to have broken the spell, emboldening even Murdoch allies like Prime Minister David Cameron to criticize his organization and convene a commission to examine press regulation. The power to harass and intimidate is hardly limited to the Murdoch newspapers; British tabloids are all guilty to some extent of using their power to discredit those who cross them, politicians and analysts say.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.
"Weaving Spiders Come Not Here" is the motto of San Francisco's Bohemian Club. The motto is supposed to represent the club's edict against doing business during its annual Bohemian Grove retreat, which commences Thursday on 2,700 acres 75 miles north of the city. The "weaving spiders" motto also provides cover for a club that discriminates against women. Business titans have long bankrolled the retreats. A roster of 2010 members released by norcaltruth.org - the club does not release its membership list - includes a couple of Rockefellers and the ubiquitous Koch brothers. Hence conspiracy theories about sinister deals cut amid the redwoods. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is a member. William R. Hearst III, trustee of the Hearst Corp. ... is a member. Sonoma State sociology Professor Peter Phillips attended the retreat in 1994. The club was the subject of his doctoral dissertation. "They're very clearly talking politics and business constantly." No weaving spiders? "I proved the opposite, quite clearly. I heard conversations about business. 'If GE comes in on the deal, we can get the Japanese to join' - three men walking down a trail together." Phillips' summation [is] that the retreat presents powerful "men celebrating their male eliteness, which is kind of how the world works."
Note: For more major media articles on powerful secret societies that work secretly to gain control, click here.
A few days ago, the United Nations chose North Korea ... as the new president of the U.N.'s Conference on Disarmament, which describes itself as "the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community." Most of the conference's 65-nation membership publicly welcomed the new president, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon endorsed his ascension. Well, not to worry. The new Disarmament Conference president, North Korean So Se Pyong, promised to become "very engaged in moving the conference forward" so that it can "achieve concrete results." How reassuring. Perhaps his country would like to set an example for the world? Actually, North Korea is ... the only state that stubbornly holds on to a nuclear-weapons arsenal even though its leaders know full well that millions of their people are starving to death as a result. Right now, North Korea is facing a famine, and not for the first time. A calamitous food shortage in the late 1990s killed an estimated 2 million people. That time, once the world learned of the problem, months too late, it provided copious aid. This time, almost no one seems willing to help.
Supermarket tomatoes may look delicious — smooth, red and unblemished — but for the most part, they taste like nothing at all. [Barry] Estabrook is the author of a new book, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. It lays out why supermarket tomatoes tend to taste so bad - and how they got that way. The tomatoes you see in those supermarkets have been bred for high yields and durability, not flavor. There's an even darker side to the modern commercial tomato, too. Up until recently, workers on many of Florida's vast industrial tomato farms were basically slaves. "People being bought and sold like animals," Estabrook says. "People being shackled in chains. People being beaten for either not working hard enough, fast enough, or being too weak or sick to work. People actually being shot and killed for trying to escape. That sounds like 1850's slavery to me." The situation is beginning to improve, he adds. It began with a group of tomato pickers called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The group had been lobbying since the early 1990s for a plan that included a pay raise and some basic workers' rights. "What they started concentrating on was the end-customers," Estabrook says. "They started, actually, with the Taco Bell restaurant chain." After four years of protests and boycotts, Taco Bell agreed to sign on and support the group's plan. Other chains soon followed, and even the powerful Florida tomato growers' committee came on board.
Note: In 2015, Wal-Mart became the most influential corporation to join the initiative promoted by Coalition of Immokalee Workers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The food and advertising industries have launched a multi-pronged campaign to squash government efforts to create voluntary nutritional guidelines for foods marketed to children. Calling themselves the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, the nation’s biggest foodmakers, fast-food chains and media companies, including Viacom and Time Warner, are trying to derail standards proposed by four federal agencies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also lent its lobbying muscle to the effort. The guidelines are designed to encourage foodmakers to reduce salt, added sugars and fats in foods and drinks targeted to children. Public-health experts say children, many of whom may lack the critical-thinking skills to understand advertising, are bombarded daily by television ads, Web sites, toy giveaways and cartoon characters promoting junk food. The food and beverage industry spends about $2 billion a year marketing directly to children. The business community has portrayed the government’s guidelines as job-killing government overreach. “We allow companies into our homes to manipulate children to want food that will make them sick,” said Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Note: The "Sensible Food Policy Coalition" is arguing against voluntary guidelines designed to help our children eat more nutritious food. Is that Orwellian doublespeak or what?
Police are investigating evidence that a News International executive may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard's inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal. The archive is believed to have reached back to January 2005, revealing daily contact between News of the World editors, reporters and outsiders, including private investigators. A senior executive is believed to have deleted "massive quantities" of the archive on two separate occasions, leaving only a fraction to be disclosed. The allegation directly contradicts NI claims that it is co-operating fully with police in order to expose its history of illegal newsgathering. Rupert Murdoch is planning to fly into London on [July 9] to confront the crisis. The scandal brought a number of arrests on [July 8], with the prime minister's former PR chief Andy Coulson held under suspicion of involvement in phone hacking. As he was released on bail, he told reporters: "There is an awful lot I would like to say, but I can't at this time." Clive Goodman, the NoW's former royal reporter, was also arrested in relation to the alleged payment of bribes to police, and subsequently bailed.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.
The House on [July 8] overwhelmingly passed a $649 billion defense spending bill that boosts the Pentagon budget by $17 billion and covers the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While House Republican leaders slashed billions from all other government agencies, the Defense Department is the only one that will see a double-digit increase in its budget. Amid negotiations to cut spending and raise the nation's borrowing limit, the House rejected several amendments to cut the Pentagon budget, including a measure by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to halve the bill's increase in defense spending. "We are at a time of austerity. We are at a time when the important programs, valid programs, are being cut back," Frank said. Scoffing at the suggestion that "everything is on the table" in budget negotiations between the Obama administration and congressional leaders, Frank said, "The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else's lunch." Still, the overall bill is $9 billion less than President Barack Obama sought. The White House has threatened a veto, citing limits on the president's authority to transfer detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and money for defense programs it didn't want. The measure includes $119 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Note: For a powerful summary of the real reasons behind the endless series of US wars in the last century, click here.
The Agriculture Department has exempted a genetically engineered grass from federal regulation, a decision that some critics say could portend a loosening in oversight of biotech crops. The department said that an herbicide-tolerant Kentucky bluegrass being developed by Scotts Miracle-Gro was not subject to federal regulation because its creation did not entail use of any plant pests. The genetically engineered bluegrass contains a gene that allows it to tolerate the widely used herbicide Roundup, also known as glyphosate. That allows the chemical to be sprayed to kill weeds without harming the grass. The decision shocked some critics of biotechnology crops. “It’s a blatant end-run around regulatory oversight,” said George Kimbrell, senior lawyer at the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group. Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said other companies might follow the same strategy, putting the Agriculture Department “out of the game of regulation.” The critics say there have been other signs that the Agriculture Department has been looking to weaken regulation, like a proposed pilot project that would let companies provide more input into the environmental assessments of their crops.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on the risks posed by genetically modified organisms, click here.
An international study which debunks research linking cellphones to cancer risks received major funding from wireless manufacturers. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified [the] radio frequency emitted by wireless devices as possibly carcinogenic, but a panel of international scientists recently published a study challenging these findings. But in the study's conflict of interest disclaimer, the panel acknowledged it received support from the wireless industry to conduct the research. A number of organizations, including the Mobile Manufacturers' Forum, were cited as sources of funding. Dr. Devra Davis, an American scientist who runs the non-profit education group [Environmental Health Trust] says the new study is "misleading" and "wrong." "It is propaganda," said Davis, who also founded the world's first Center for Environmental Oncology. Davis says cellphone safety is a major public health issue and governments need to move away from the idea of taking action after there are "enough sick people or dead bodies." "The fact that we don't have an epidemic right now is of course what we expect," she said. "It is actually preposterous to imply or they really say that because don't have any increase now, there's no problem. It's really very sad."
Note: For more on the health threats posed by cell phones, click here.
Someone has to turn on the lights in life. Someone has to do the jobs we take for granted. But you’d think Tyrone Curry would kiss his trash sack goodbye. Five years ago, the Evergreen High School custodian won the Washington State Lottery’s Quinto game. “I was dumping garbage,” he says. “Just like today. This is where I was when I found out I won the jackpot and took off running." His wife, Michelle had his winning ticket — worth ... $3,410,000. To celebrate, Tyrone went bowling, like he’s done every Wednesday night for 25 years. At 4 in the morning, he could be sleeping instead of raising the American flag outside Evergreen High. But he ducks his head and smiles. “Nah. You need to be doing stuff: That’s my philosophy.” Five generations have grown up around him since he came home from war and started taking care of kids. Budget cuts eliminated Tyrone's teaching assistant's job 35 years ago, so he stayed on as a janitor. He never went looking for another classroom because he found a better one — and a second job — out back. Tyrone isn’t just the Evergreen High School custodian; he also coaches the track team. And that’s where he decided to splurge with his lottery winnings. “I’m getting excited!” he says, watching runners circling toward him on the school’s old cinder track. This summer he’s building them a new one. State-of-the-art. Cost him 40,000 bucks. “I’m not done,” he chuckles.
Note: For a great two-minute video on this inspiring man, click here.
The Obama administration approved the secret detention of a Somali terror suspect on board a US navy ship, where for two months he was subjected to military interrogation in the absence of a lawyer and without charge. The capture and treatment of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame has rekindled the debate within the US about the appropriate handling of terror suspects. Civil rights groups have objected to the secret questioning of Warsame on board a navy vessel, an innovation that they fear could see a new form of the CIA's widely discredited "black site" detention centres around the world. The US government is turning to detention at sea as a way of avoiding legal and political impediments in the treatment of terror suspects, both domestically and on the international stage. Last week Admiral William McRaven, soon to become head of US Special Operations Command, told his confirmation hearing that militants captured outside Afghanistan were often "put on a naval vessel" to be held until they could be sent to a third country or a case was compiled against them for prosecution in the US courts. Officials told the Washington Post that Warsame was interrogated on "all but a daily basis" on board the ship. The right to a lawyer was withheld along with other habeas corpus rights known in the US as Miranda rights. Civil rights groups have said the secret interrogation was a blatant violation of the Geneva conventions that prohibit prolonged detention of suspects at sea.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on the illegal actions taken by the US government in its "global war on terror", click here.
What causes autism? Scientists still don't have an answer, but two new studies suggest that conditions in a mom's womb may trigger the developmental disorder. Heredity is considered a major factor that triggers autism spectrum disorders, but scientists have long wondered what roles - if any - environmental factors play. Scientists used California health records to identify 192 pairs of twins - fraternal or identical - where at least one was affected by autism. Using diagnostic techniques that included directly observing the children, the scientists found 77 percent of male identical twins and 50 percent of female identical pairs both had autism. Those findings weren't too surprising, considering identical twins share the same genes. But what surprised researchers were the high rates of autism spectrum disorders they found in pairs of fraternal twins: 31 percent rate for males and 36 percent for females. Fraternal twins, from two fertilized eggs, share no more genetic material than any other siblings. But since they share the same womb, that could play a role, said Dr. John Constantino, professor of psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who wasn't involved in the new research. Constantino calls the research a "key finding that puts a spotlight on pregnancy as a time when environmental factors might exert their effects."
Note: For major media articles presenting evidence of a link between autism and vaccines, click here.
Early one morning, 50 years ago today, while his wife, Mary, slept upstairs, Ernest Hemingway went into the vestibule of his Ketchum, Idaho, house, selected his favorite shotgun from the rack, inserted shells into its chambers and ended his life. There were many differing explanations at the time: that he had terminal cancer or money problems, that it was an accident, that he’d quarreled with Mary. None were true. As his friends knew, he’d been suffering from depression and paranoia for the last year of his life. This man, who had stood his ground against charging water buffaloes, who had flown missions over Germany, who had refused to accept the prevailing style of writing but, enduring rejection and poverty, had insisted on writing in his own unique way, this man, my deepest friend, was afraid — afraid that the F.B.I. was after him. Decades later, in response to a Freedom of Information petition, the F.B.I. released its Hemingway file. It revealed that beginning in the 1940s J. Edgar Hoover had placed Ernest under surveillance because he was suspicious of Ernest’s activities in Cuba. Over the following years, agents filed reports on him and tapped his phones. In the years since, I have tried to reconcile Ernest’s fear of the F.B.I., which I regretfully misjudged, with the reality of the F.B.I. file. I now believe he truly sensed the surveillance, and that it substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide.
Note: The view that FBI harassment contributed to Hemingway's suicide is similar to the conclusion of many observers that the FBI hounded microbiologist Bruce Ivins to death by investigating him for involvement in the anthrax attacks that occurred just after 9/11. For an important analysis of the reality of the anthrax attacks by Prof. Graeme MacQueen of McMaster University, which makes it clear they could not have been carried out by a "lone nut" as claimed by the FBI, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.