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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.
A Pennsylvania judge was sentenced to 28 years in prison in connection to a bribery scandal that roiled the state's juvenile justice system. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was convicted of taking $1 million in bribes from developers of juvenile detention centers. The judge then presided over cases that would send juveniles to those same centers. The case came to be known as "kids-for-cash." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. More than a dozen people who said they had been affected by the judge's decision stood outside [the court house in Scranton, PA], awaiting the sentencing. Jeff Pollins was in that crowd. His stepson was convicted by Ciavarella. "These kids are still affected by it. It's like post traumatic stress disorder," Pollins told the Times Leader. "Our life is ruined. It's never going to be the same".
Note: Two crooked judges and a for-profit detention center company used millions of taxpayer dollars to systematically violate the rights of thousands of kids. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Newly released government files on UFOs show a lack of will and resources to study thousands of reported sightings. The Ministry of Defence files released by the National Archives cover reported sightings of UFOs from 1985 to 2007. The 34 files include sightings of lights over Glastonbury and a "flying saucer" in Nottinghamshire. National Archives consultant Dr David Clarke said it was about time the data was released. "One of the most interesting documents in the files is a piece from an intelligence officer, who basically says that despite thousands of reports that they've received since the Second World War, they've never done any study or spent any money or time on the subject, and they say that people just won't believe that when they find out." Nick Pope worked at the MoD between 1991 and 1994. He said the files were quite revealing: "The fascinating thing about these files is that they show that just as in society there's this huge debate about UFOs - is it really interesting, are we being visited by aliens - or is it all just nonsense? We were having the same debates in the Ministry of Defence. Some people thought it was a waste of time and money, others thought it was of extreme defence significance."
A longtime judge has been ordered to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive juvenile justice bribery scandal that prompted the state's high court to toss thousands of convictions. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced ... to 28 years in federal prison for taking $1 million in bribes from the builder of a pair of juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as "kids-for-cash." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and a second judge, Michael Conahan, of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities' co-owner. Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes.
Corey Feldman has no idea what it's like not to be famous. After all, he starred in a McDonald's ad when he was just 3 years old. But being famous and underage, he said, caused serious damage to him and his friends, including loss of innocence and a lost childhood. Feldman blamed the adults around him, not just those looking to profit from charming children, but also some with far more sinister motives. "I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia. That's the biggest problem for children in this industry. ... It's the big secret," Feldman said. The "casting couch," which is the old Hollywood reference to actors being expected to offer sex for roles, applied to children, Feldman said. "I was surrounded by [pedophiles] when I was 14 years old. … Didn't even know it. It wasn't until I was old enough to realize what they were and what they wanted … till I went, Oh, my God. They were everywhere," Feldman, 40, said. The trauma of pedophilia contributed to the 2010 death of his closest friend and "The Lost Boys" co-star, Corey Haim, Feldman said. "There's one person to blame in the death of Corey Haim. And that person happens to be a Hollywood mogul," Feldman said, adding that he, too, had been sexually abused by men in show business. Feldman said his realization followed the discovery of what some adults around him had allegedly done to other children. "There was a circle of older men … around this group of kids. And they all had either their own power or connections to great power in the entertainment industry," he said.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pedophilia and sexual abuse by the powerful, click here.
Doctors have treated only three leukemia patients, but the sensational results from a single shot could be one of the most significant advances in cancer research in decades. Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania say the treatment made the most common type of leukemia completely disappear in two of the patients and reduced it by 70 percent in the third. In each of the patients as much as five pounds of cancerous tissue completely melted away in a few weeks, and a year later it is still gone. The results of the preliminary test “exceeded our wildest expectations,” says immunologist Dr. Carl June a member of the Abramson Cancer Center's research team. Chemotherapy and radiation can hold this form of leukemia at bay for years, but until now the only cure has been a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant requires a suitable match, works only about half the time, and often brings on severe, life-threatening side effects such as pain and infection. So why has this remarkable treatment been tried so far on only three patients? Both the National Cancer Institute and several pharmaceutical companies declined to pay for the research. Neither applicants nor funders discuss the reasons an application is turned down.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on hopeful new cancer treatments, click here.
Investors are pouring into farmland in the U.S. and parts of Europe, Latin America and Africa as global food prices soar. A fund controlled by George Soros, the billionaire hedge-fund manager, owns 23.4 percent of South American farmland venture Adecoagro SA. Hedge funds Ospraie Management LLC and Passport Capital LLC as well as Harvard University's endowment are also betting on farming. TIAA-CREF, the $466 billion financial services giant, has $2 billion invested in some 600,000 acres (240,000 hectares) of farmland in Australia, Brazil and North America and wants to double the size of its investment. The growth in demand for food, spurred by the rising middle classes in China, India and other emerging markets, shows no signs of abating. Food prices in June, as measured by a United Nations index of 55 food commodities, were just slightly below their peak in February. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said in a June report that it expects food costs to remain high through 2012. So many investors have rushed to capitalize on food prices in the past three years that they may be creating a farmland bubble. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which covers Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and other agricultural states, said in May that farmland prices had surged 20 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier.
Note: This news is further clear evidence that the rapid increases in food prices is another ploy to funnel money from the pockets of the public into the uber wealthy.
It was the kind of study that made doctors around the world sit up and take notice: Two popular high-blood-pressure drugs were found to be much better in combination than either alone. Unfortunately, it wasn't true. Six and a half years later, the prestigious medical journal the Lancet retracted the paper, citing "serious concerns" about the findings. The damage was done. Doctors by then had given the drug combination to well over 100,000 patients. Instead of protecting them from kidney problems, as the study said the drug combo could do, it left them more vulnerable to potentially life-threatening side effects, later studies showed. Today, "tens of thousands" of patients are still on the dual therapy, according to research firm SDI. When a study is retracted, "it can be hard to make its effects go away," says Sheldon Tobe, a kidney-disease specialist at the University of Toronto. And that's more important today than ever because retractions of scientific studies are surging. Since 2001, while the number of papers published in research journals has risen 44%, the number retracted has leapt more than 15-fold, data compiled for The Wall Street Journal by Thomson Reuters reveal. Just 22 retraction notices appeared in 2001, but 139 in 2006 and 339 last year
Note: To learn lots more of how the medical industry puts profit above public health, click here.
The insurer AIG is suing Bank of America to recover more than $10 billion of losses from a "massive fraud" on mortgage debt, deepening the morass of litigation faced by the largest U.S. bank. American International Group Inc, still largely owned by taxpayers after $182.3-billion of government bailouts, is the latest of a growing number of investors filing lawsuits to hold banks responsible for losses on soured mortgages that contributed to the financial crisis. The AIG complaint accuses Bank of America and its Countrywide and Merrill Lynch units of misrepresenting the quality of mortgages placed in securities and sold to investors. "Defendants were engaged in a massive scheme to manipulate and deceive investors, like AIG, who had no alternative but to rely on the lies and omissions made," said the complaint, being filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Bank of America bought Countrywide for $2.5 billion in July 2008 and acquired Merrill six months later. The Countrywide acquisition is almost universally considered a disaster because of the costs of litigation and writing down bad loans.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the government bailout of major banks and Wall Street corporations, click here.
A decade after the events of September 11, 2001, which resulted in the immediate deaths of nearly 3,000 people on American soil, countless victims from toxic dust, and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, international hearings on this pivotal event will begin in Toronto in September. The events of September 11 provided a pretext for a War on Terror that has led to military invasions and occupations, and attacks upon civil and human rights throughout the world. The credibility of the official investigation into the events of September 11, 2001, carried out by the U.S. Government between 2003 and 2005, has been questioned by millions of citizens in the United States and abroad, including victim family members, expert witnesses and international legal experts. A group of international citizens has therefore undertaken to privately fund and cause these independent hearings to take place. Because of the global ramifications of the events of 9/11, the initiators of this inquest have opted to select an international location outside of the United States for these hearings to proceed. The city of Toronto, Canada was chosen as an ideal "international" location because of its proximity to New York, Washington and Shanksville (the crime scenes).
Note: Sponsored by the International Center for 9/11 Studies, the first four days of these hearings will take place at Toronto's Ryerson University between September 8 and 11, 2011. The proceedings will be broadcast live via the Internet. For more information, click here.
For nearly seven decades, the American public has accepted one version of the events that led to Japan’s surrender. Aug. 6 [is] the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing’s mixed legacy. The leader of our democracy purposefully executed civilians on a mass scale. Yet the bombing also ended the deadliest conflict in human history. In recent years, however, a new interpretation of events has emerged. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa - a highly respected historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara - has marshaled compelling evidence that it was the Soviet entry into the Pacific conflict, not Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that forced Japan’s surrender. According to his close examination of the evidence, Japan was not poised to surrender before Hiroshima, ... nor was it ready to give in immediately after the atomic bomb. Instead, it took the Soviet declaration of war on Japan, several days after Hiroshima, to bring the capitulation. Both the American and Japanese public have clung to the idea that the mushroom clouds ended the war. That may help explain why Hasegawa’s thesis, which he first detailed in an award-winning 2005 book and has continued to bolster with new material, is still little known outside of academic circles.
Note: The atomic bombs almost certainly played a role in the decision to end the war, yet this new thesis shows that there were other factors of key importance which may have been downplayed.
A helicopter was shot down today by Afghan insurgents as it was rushing to aid troops in a firefight, killing 30 Americans, including 22 Navy SEALs, most of whom belonged to Team 6, the unit whose members were involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said. It's unclear how far away the helicopter was from the initial firefight when it went down and unclear how the troops in the firefight got to the crash location, the official said. Although the Taliban have claimed to have shot the helicopter down, U.S. officials have only identified the attackers as insurgents. The last worst one-day U.S. casualty record in Afghanistan was on June 28, 2005 when 16 U.S. soldiers were killed in Kunar province after a helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents.
Note: Many scholars claim Osama bin Laden was already dead long before he was allegedly killed by the Navy Seal Team 6. Isn't it strange the his body was buried at sea, so that the identity of the dead body could never be certain, when those in charge knew about theories that bin Laden wasn't dead. And now, many members of the team that took part in the raid may be dead, so that they can't tell their side of the story. For more evidence that bin Laden died long before the raid, see BBC articles here and here, a Washington Post article, and an article in New Zealand's leading newspaper showing the published death photo was a fake.
What distinguishes the BBC from the rest of this country's media? Perhaps the most important factor is its editorial guidelines, which are supposed to ensure that the corporation achieves "the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive[s] to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences." Woe betide the producer or presenter who breaches these guidelines. Unless, that is, they work for Top Gear. Take, for example, Top Gear's line on electric cars. Casting aside any pretence of impartiality or rigour, it has set out to show that electric cars are useless. If the facts don't fit, it bends them until they do. It's currently being sued by electric car maker Tesla. Now it's been caught red-handed faking another trial, in this case of the Nissan LEAF. Last Sunday, an episode of Top Gear showed Jeremy Clarkson and James May setting off for Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, 60 miles away. The car unexpectedly ran out of charge when they got to Lincoln, and had to be pushed. They concluded that "electric cars are not the future". But it wasn't unexpected: Nissan has a monitoring device in the car which transmits information on the state of the battery. This shows that, while the company delivered the car to Top Gear fully charged, the programme-makers ran the battery down before Clarkson and May set off, until only 40% of the charge was left.
It was a small room, at the top of the house. For a time, it was home to tropical fish. Later, two pet mice slept there, in a home made of fruit crates. The walls of the room were covered with posters of Madonna and Duran Duran. Then it was the Rolling Stones. Then Jimi Hendrix. This was the childhood bedroom in Oxford, England, of James Mollison, 37, a documentary photographer. He had the luxury as a boy of adapting his bedroom to reflect his changing interests. Mr. Mollison’s new book, Where Children Sleep, had its origins in a project undertaken for a children’s charity several years ago. As he considered how to represent needy children around the world, he wanted to avoid the common devices: pleading eyes, toothless smiles. His subjects came from Boy Scout troops and sumo wrestling clubs. They were introduced through friends of friends. Mr. Mollison posed his young subjects — more than 200 of them — in front of blank white backgrounds for their portraits, leaving their bedrooms to do the talking. More than 50 pairings are in the book, which has a glow-in-the-dark cover (a nod to the glow-in-the-dark stars on so many childhood ceilings). As much as the project is about the quirkiness of childhood, it is, more strikingly, a commentary on class and on poverty. But the diversity also provides a sense of togetherness. Everybody sleeps. And eventually, everybody grows up.
Note: Don't miss the moving photo essay at this link. It will only take you a minute or two, yet is quite moving. And for other highly inspiring news articles, click here.
A top-secret document revealing how MI6 and MI5 officers were allowed to extract information from prisoners being illegally tortured overseas has been seen by the Guardian. The interrogation policy ... instructed senior intelligence officers to weigh the importance of the information being sought against the amount of pain they expected a prisoner to suffer. It was operated by the British government for almost a decade. The fact that the interrogation policy document and other similar papers may not be made public during the inquiry into British complicity in torture and rendition has led to human rights groups and lawyers refusing to give evidence or attend any meetings with the inquiry team because it does not have "credibility or transparency". The decision by 10 groups – including Liberty, Reprieve and Amnesty International – follows the publication of the inquiry's protocols, which show the final decision on whether material uncovered by the inquiry, led by Sir Peter Gibson, can be made public will rest with the cabinet secretary. Some have criticised the appointment of Gibson, a retired judge, to head the inquiry because he previously served as the intelligence services commissioner, overseeing government ministers' use of a controversial power that permits them to "disapply" UK criminal and civil law in order to offer a degree of protection to British intelligence officers committing crimes overseas.
Note: Isn't it quite unusual for human rights organizations to refuse to participate in an inquiry into government abuses of human rights? Evidently the conflicts of interest of the inquiry head Gibson are so extreme that participation is simply impossible.
An American former military contractor who claims he was imprisoned and tortured by the US army in Iraq has been allowed by a judge to sue the former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally for damages. The man, an army veteran whose identity has been withheld, worked as a translator for the US Marines in the volatile Anbar province when he was detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a US military facility near Baghdad airport dedicated to holding "high-value" detainees. He was never charged with a crime. Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused, then released without explanation in August 2006. Two years later, he filed a suit in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to the courts in violation of his constitutional rights. The Obama administration has represented Rumsfeld through the justice department and argued that he could not be sued personally for official conduct. It also argued that a judge could not review wartime decisions which are the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president. District judge James Gwin rejected those arguments and said US citizens were protected by the constitution at home or abroad during wartime.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the illegal prosecution of the US "global war on terror", click here.
What does a NDE look and feel like? There are thousands upon thousands of descriptions, all of which show striking similarities between different people's experiences -- the white light, a tunnel, a life review and sense of peace -- so there does seem to exist a unifying thread throughout. Caroline Myss, a best-selling author and a speaker on spirituality and health, focuses on the first explanation. "A near-death experience is a phenomenon in which a person's physical body ceases to have any signs of life, and the soul detaches from the body and begins what could be called the journey into the afterlife. ... A long tunnel of light begins to appear. ... What's so phenomenal is that the descriptions [people] give, no matter what culture, no matter what background, match the ancient descriptions ... from various cultures. So if these experiences were in fact made up or hallucinatory, somebody did a very good job of getting that information out to multiple cultures at the same time." Dr. Jeffrey Long runs the Near Death Experience Research Foundation. He defines the physical conditions of someone having a NDE as "unconscious ... or actually clinically dead, with absent heartbeat and no spontaneous respiration. ... And yet when they shouldn't have any conscious remembering at this time, they do. ... While no two NDEs are the same, if you study large numbers of NDEs you see that very consistent pattern of elements."
In 2008, voters approved a $10 billion bond to begin construction of a bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco that would make that trip in less than three hours. So who knew that by 2011 the general consensus would be that the project is an ill-conceived, mismanaged boondoggle? Former Amtrak spokesman and Reason Foundation writer Joseph Vranich knew. In 2008, before the state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, he called the project "science fiction." He said the train won't travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than three hours because that exceeds the speed of all existing high-speed rail. But on French railway schedules, a TGV (Train Ŕ Grande Vitesse) takes two hours, 38 minutes to go from Paris to Avignon. That's 430 miles. The route for the L.A.-to-San Francisco line is 432. So what's going on here? It's simple. Vranich makes stuff up. The Reason Foundation is funded by Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, the American Petroleum Institute, Delta Airlines, the National Air Transportation Association and, of course, the Koch Family Foundation. They know what will happen once Americans, furious about gas prices and the way airlines treat them, experience electrically powered 200-mph trains.
Note: For lots more evidence that progress in the transportation sector is stymied by big money interests, click here.
ABC’s Bob Woodruff probed the mysteries of near death experiences – including his own – in a special “Primetime Nightline.” ABC15 spoke with Woodruff. He told us so many people he interviewed for the story had an out-of-body experience, similar to his own when his group was hit by an IED 5 years ago while covering the war in Iraq. He told us when he woke up 36 days later he remembered seeing his body floating below him. Woodruff says others he spoke with describe experiences like his, but the thing he found interesting was, all of them say they weren’t scared. “Everyone said it was comfort, there was a lack of fear, and certainly no pain. All of them share that, no matter who they are that’s gone through this and it’s very, very interesting.” Woodruff also spoke with several doctors and scientists, who don’t necessarily reject these out-of-body experiences, but they’re just looking for answers. ABC15 wanted to know, how the people he interviewed felt about coming back to this world. Woodruff says, “Almost everybody said not only that they thought about staying, but generally wanted to stay. I, in some ways, was fine with staying.”
Special Note: If the above link fails, see this webpage.
The Air Force has suspended a training course for nuclear missile launch officers that used Bible passages and religious imagery to teach them about the ethics of war. The course had apparently been taught by chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for more than 20 years, but officials pulled the plug after an article from the liberal Web site Truthout.org appeared online last week. The group obtained a PowerPoint presentation used in the course that referenced religious figures including Abraham, John the Baptist and Saint Augustine. The presentation also said that there are “many examples of believers engaged in wars in the Old Testament” and “no pacifistic sentiment in mainstream Jewish history.” The reversal marks a victory for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group that provided the documents to Truthout and that has waged a series of battles, legal and otherwise, to preserve the separation of church and state in the services. Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the foundation, said his group was approached late last month by about 30 officers, most of them Protestant or Roman Catholic, who said they objected to the presentation. He said he saw the PowerPoint and was astonished by documents that appeared to be using a religious justification for missile launches.
Note: Why was this important news only reported in a blog and not on the front page of the newspaper?
It's fraudulent for academics to give their names to medical articles ghostwritten by pharmaceutical industry writers, say two Canadian law professors who call for potential legal sanctions. Studies suggest that industry-driven drug trials and industry-sponsored publications are more likely to downplay a drug's harms and exaggerate a drug's virtues, said Trudo Lemmens, a law professor at the University of Toronto. The integrity of medical research is also harmed by ghostwritten articles, he said. Ghostwriting is part of marketing that can distort the evidence on a drug, Lemmens said. Industry authors are concealed to insert marketing messages and academic experts are recruited as "guest" authors to lend credibility despite not fulfilling criteria for authorship, such as participating in the design of the study, gathering data, analyzing the results and writing up of the findings. Lemmens and his colleague Prof. Simon Stern argue that legal remedies are needed for medical ghostwriting since medical journals, academic institutions and professional disciplinary bodies haven't succeeded in enforcing sanctions against the practice. Ghostwritten publications are used in court to support a manufacturer's arguments about a drug's safety and effectiveness, and academic experts who appear as witnesses for pharmaceutical and medical device companies also boost their credibility with the publications on their CV, Lemmens said.
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.