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Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key 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.
The Army's official history of the battle of Wanat - one of the most intensely scrutinized engagements of the Afghan war - largely absolves top commanders of the deaths of nine U.S. soldiers and instead blames the confusing and unpredictable nature of war. An initial draft of the Wanat history, which was obtained by The Washington Post and other media outlets in the summer of 2009, placed the preponderance of blame for the losses on the higher-level battalion and brigade commanders who oversaw the mission, saying they failed to provide the proper resources to the unit in Wanat. The final history, released in recent weeks, drops many of the earlier conclusions and instead focuses on failures of lower-level commanders. Family members of the deceased at Wanat reacted with anger and disappointment to the final version of the Army history. "They blame the platoon-level leadership for all the mistakes at Wanat," said retired Col. David Brostrom, whose son was killed in the fighting. "It blames my dead son. They really missed the point." The initial investigation, conducted by a three-star Marine Corps general and completed in the spring, found that the company and battalion commanders were "derelict in their duty" to provide proper oversight and resources to the soldiers fighting at Wanat.
Note: For many key reports from reliable sources on the horrific realities of the US wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq, click here.
These days, the medicine cabinet is truly a family affair. More than a quarter of U.S. kids and teens are taking a medication on a [longterm] basis. Nearly 7% are on two or more such drugs. Doctors and parents warn that prescribing medications to children can be problematic. There is limited research available about many drugs' effects in kids. And health-care providers and families need to be vigilant to assess the medicines' impact, both intended and not. Although the effects of some medications, like cholesterol-lowering statins, have been extensively researched in adults, the consequences of using such drugs for the bulk of a patient's lifespan are little understood. Many medications kids take on a regular basis are well known, including treatments for asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. But children and teens are also taking a wide variety of other medications once considered only to be for adults, from statins to diabetes pills and sleep drugs, according to figures provided to The Wall Street Journal by IMS Health, a research firm. Prescriptions for antihypertensives in people age 19 and younger could hit 5.5 million this year.
Note: For a powerful article by Dr. Mercola showing how the drug companies get away with killing literally tens of thousands of people, click here.
Parents want their kids and teens to care about others. The good news is that children "are sort of hard-wired" to want to help others, says Michael Ungar, author of "The We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Kids." While adults do wonderful things to help others, even more amazing is the number of children and teens who are "making a difference". Danielle Gram spent her childhood in Maryland in the years following the 9/11 attacks. "I really didn't understand why people from different cultures wanted to kill each other," says Ms. Gram, now 21 years old and a senior at Harvard University. In 2006, together with Jill McManigal ... Gram, then 16, founded Kids for Peace, a nonprofit, child-led group that inspires kids to work together toward a more peaceful world. Today Kids for Peace has more than 75 chapters. In August, its Great Kindness Challenge, where children try to see how many acts of kindness they can perform in a single day, drew thousands of participants in 50 countries. In November, she was named a winner of the World of Children award. "The passion to create a less violent world has really followed me throughout my life," Gram says. But a family tragedy last year brought it closer to home. Her only brother was murdered while on vacation. "It's certainly been a struggle. But every single one of my immediate family members has a deeper conviction that nonviolence is the way to respond." After graduation next spring, Gram hopes to work on peace issues in Bangladesh or at a refugee camp in Africa. Either way, she'll carry on with Kids for Peace, too.
Note: For a great collection of other inspiring news articles, click here.
A genetically engineered fish infused with genes from other species, including an eel-like creature, could soon be on dinner plates in the Bay Area and around the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering an application by AquaBounty Technologies Inc. of Massachusetts to bioengineer a sterile salmon that would grow extremely fast and, if all goes as planned, never set so much as a fin in a natural body of water. It would be the first genetically engineered animal to be approved for human consumption. The proposal, which is awaiting an environmental assessment and a preliminary decision by the FDA, has created a furor among environmentalists, who have dubbed the species "Frankenfish." They claim the doctored salmon could spread disease in humans or circulate mutant genes in the wild if an accident or sabotage ever set them loose. "The effect of what happens if these genetically engineered fish escape is largely unknown and has been largely unquestioned by the FDA," said Colin O'Neil, the regulatory policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, an environmental nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. "These fish have been demonstrated to be less healthy. Consumers clearly do not want to eat genetically engineered salmon."
Note: For a superb summary of the dangers posed by genetically-modified foods, click here.
UFOs have been around on a regular basis from antiquity through modern day. And as 2010 unfolded, the UFO mythology was alive and well. Famed British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, the pope's astronomer, a high-ranking Italian politician and even the late Winston Churchill helped keep UFOs in the news. The longstanding debate over whether or not we should try to make contact with space aliens reared its head during 2010. Astrophysicist Hawking cautioned that any communication with extraterrestrials might pose a huge risk for earthlings. Not all political leaders feel the need to keep alien information secret. Case in point: Italian Northern League party leader Mario Borghezio's crusade this year to convince European Union member nations to release all of their hidden UFO documents. In Great Britain, newly published secret documents alleged that former Prime Minister Churchill believed some UFOs were unearthly and he was concerned that such news would create a public panic. No-nonsense, credible military officers stepped forward and broke their silence at a Washington, D.C., press conference to describe their firsthand encounters with UFOs that they claim had tampered with American nuclear weapons sites.
Note: For impressive testimony on UFOs from many highly-credible government officials and military officers, click here. For lots more reliable, verifiable information on the UFO phenomenon, click here.
These days, Casal Ventoso is an ordinary blue-collar community - mothers push baby strollers, men smoke outside cafes, buses chug up and down the cobbled main street. Ten years ago, the Lisbon neighborhood was a hellhole, a "drug supermarket" where some 5,000 users lined up every day to buy heroin and sneaked into a hillside honeycomb of derelict housing to shoot up. At that time, Portugal, like the junkies of Casal Ventoso, had hit rock bottom: An estimated 100,000 people - an astonishing 1 percent of the population - were addicted to illegal drugs. So, like anyone with little to lose, the Portuguese took a risky leap: They decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law in 2000. Now, the United States, which has waged a 40-year, $1 trillion war on drugs, is looking for answers in tiny Portugal, which is reaping the benefits of what once looked like a dangerous gamble. "The disasters that were predicted by critics didn't happen," said University of Kent professor Alex Stevens, who has studied Portugal's program. "The answer was simple: Provide treatment." Drugs in Portugal are still illegal. But here's what Portugal did: It changed the law so that users are sent to counseling and sometimes treatment instead of criminal courts and prison. The switch from drugs as a criminal issue to a public health one was aimed at preventing users from going underground.
A New Orleans law firm is challenging government assurances that Gulf Coast seafood is safe to eat in the wake of the BP oil spill, saying it poses “a significant danger to public health.” Citing what the law firm calls a state-of-the-art laboratory analysis, toxicologists, chemists and marine biologists retained by the firm of environmental attorney Stuart Smith contend that the government seafood testing program, which has focused on ensuring the seafood was free of the cancer-causing components of crude oil, has overlooked other harmful elements. And they say that their own testing — examining fewer samples but more comprehensively — shows high levels of hydrocarbons from the BP spill that are associated with liver damage. “What we have found is that FDA simply overlooked an important aspect of safety in their protocol,” contends William Sawyer, a Florida-based toxicologist on Smith’s team. Five months after crude oil stopped gushing from the broken BP wellhead into the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government has reopened more than 90 percent of fishing waters that were in danger of contamination from the broken Deepwater Horizon rig. But many fishermen have yet to return to sea, and consumer confidence in Gulf seafood remains lukewarm.
Note: For important reports from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
William Swing, head of the Episcopal Church in California for 27 years - he retired in 2006 - is hardly letting up. His latest endeavor is nothing less than uniting the religions of the world. "For this, I have been called the Antichrist, New Age, nuts and an apostate," Swing said with a smile in his office in the Presidio of San Francisco. United Religions Initiative, marking its 10th anniversary this year, is in 78 countries, bringing together Christians and Jews, Hindus and Muslims, missionaries and animists, and Mormons and Mennonites. The organization has taken orphans off the streets of Pakistan, brokered peace talks in northern Uganda and integrated child soldiers back into their villages, and drawn Palestinian and Jewish women together in the Middle East. The idea for United Religions Initiative came about in 1993, when Swing was asked to host at Grace Cathedral the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. "I said, 'Sure,' and went to bed that night thinking the nations of the world have met every day for 50 years, yet the religions of the world have not spoken. So I figured if there is a United Nations, there has to be a United Religions." He and his wife set out in 1996 on a global tour to meet religious leaders of the world, including the Dalai Lama at his palace in India. It took an additional four years of planning, debating and writing the organization's charter for United Religions to be founded.
America's big businesses are less and less American. They're going abroad for sales and employees. That's one reason they've showed record-breaking profits in 2010 while creating almost no American jobs. Consider one of the most popular products for Christmas gifts of all time - Apple's iPhone. Researchers from the Asian Development Bank Institute have dissected an iPhone, whose wholesale price is around $179, to determine where the money actually goes. Only about $11 of that iPhone goes to American workers, mostly researchers and designers. Even old-tech American companies made big money abroad in 2010 - and created scads of jobs there. General Motors, for example, is now turning a nice profit, and American investors are bullish about its future. That doesn't mean GM will be creating lots more blue-collar jobs in America, though. 2010 was a banner year for GM's foreign sales - already two-thirds of its total sales, and rising. In October, GM became the first automaker to sell more than 2 million cars a year in China. The company is now making more cars in China than in the United States. Meanwhile, back home in the United States, GM has slashed its labor costs. New hires are brought in at roughly half the wages and benefits of former GM employees, under a two-tier wage structure accepted by the United Auto Workers. Almost all of GM's U.S. suppliers have also cut their payrolls.
Note: Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and the author of the new book Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has been transformed into a global intelligence organization with a reach that extends far beyond narcotics, and an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, according to secret diplomatic cables. The cables, from the cache obtained by WikiLeaks [offer glimpses of drug agents] in places where it can be hard to tell the politicians from the traffickers, and where drug rings are themselves mini-states whose wealth and violence permit them to run roughshod over struggling governments. Officials of the D.E.A. and the State Department declined to discuss what they said was information that should never have been made public. The D.E.A. now has 87 offices in 63 countries and close partnerships with governments that keep the [CIA] at arm’s length. Created in 1973, the D.E.A. has steadily built its international turf. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the agency’s leaders have cited what they describe as an expanding nexus between drugs and terrorism in further building its overseas presence.
Note: Isn't it odd that this report fails to mention the recent revelation in The New York Times itself that the American accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks, David C. Headley, was a DEA agent while attending a "terrorism training camp" in Pakistan in the years before the attacks?
An aspiring model who died at the home of former Anheuser-Busch chief executive August Busch IV had a rare heart condition, according to her ex-husband. Adrienne Martin, 27, was found dead at Busch's suburban St. Louis home on Dec. 19. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported [that] it took someone at Busch's mansion more than 40 minutes to call 911 after Adrienne Martin was found dead at 12:30 p.m.. Frontenac police, who responded to the scene, did not disclose her death until four days later. Officials said an initial autopsy was inconclusive and didn't reveal signs of trauma to her body or obvious natural causes of death. A ruling stating the cause of death is expected after results of toxicology tests come back. That could take up to six weeks. In 1983, Busch, then a 20-year-old University of Arizona student, left a bar near Tucson, Ariz., with a 22-year-old woman. His black Corvette crashed, and the woman, Michele Frederick, was killed. Busch was found hours later at his home. He suffered a fractured skull and claimed he had amnesia. After a seven-month investigation, authorities declined to press charges, citing a lack of evidence. Two years later, Busch was acquitted on assault charges resulting from a police chase that ended with an officer shooting out a tire on his Mercedes-Benz.
Note: Is our justice system partial to the ruling elite?
A seven-year effort by the Central Intelligence Agency to hide its relationship with a Swiss family who once acted as moles inside the world’s most successful atomic black market hit a turning point on [December 23] when a Swiss magistrate recommended charging the men with trafficking in technology and information for making nuclear arms. The prospect of a prosecution, and a public trial, threatens to expose some of the C.I.A.’s deepest secrets if defense lawyers try to protect their clients by revealing how they operated on the agency’s behalf. The three men — Friedrich Tinner and his two sons, Urs and Marco — helped run the atomic smuggling ring of A. Q. Khan, an architect of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb program, officials in several countries have said. In return for millions of dollars, according to former Bush administration officials, the Tinners secretly worked for the C.I.A. as well, not only providing information about the Khan network’s manufacturing and sales efforts, which stretched from Iran to Libya to North Korea, but also helping the agency introduce flaws into the equipment sent to some of those countries. A trial ... could also expose in court a tale of C.I.A. break-ins in Switzerland, and of a still unexplained decision by the agency not to seize electronic copies of a number of nuclear bomb designs found on the computers of the Tinner family. Ultimately, copies of those blueprints were found around the globe on the computers of members of the Khan network.
Note: This report establishes yet another connection between a secret nuclear materials network linking both Khan and US government officials, parts of which were divulged by FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, who identified moles working with Khan in both the US State Department and the Pentagon. For more on these highly suspicious networks, click here.
About eight of every 10 registered lobbyists who work for scanner-technology companies previously held positions in the government or Congress, most commonly in the homeland security, aviation or intelligence fields, a Washington Post review of lobbying-disclosure forms and other data shows. Industries routinely employ well-connected lobbyists to seek favorable legislation and regulations in the nation's capital. But the extent of the connections to the federal government is particularly notable given the relatively small size of the scanner industry, which is dominated by half a dozen specialized businesses with heavy investments in airport and border security technology. The roster of lobbyists for L-3 Communications includes former U.S. senator Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) and Linda Daschle, a former federal aviation official who is married to Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), a former Senate majority leader. L-3 has won nearly $900 million worth of TSA business, including for its "millimeter-wave" machines used for airport body scans. Former homeland security chief Michael Chertoff, a longtime advocate for increased use of passenger scanners, worked until recently as a consultant for Rapiscan, which provides "backscatter" X-ray scanners to the TSA. Privacy and civil liberties advocates and other critics argue that the industry's lobbying ties have encouraged a frenzy of TSA spending on technologies that are often untested or ineffective.
Studies at UC Berkeley show that ... generosity for many is driven by a sincere desire to benefit others, said Robb Willer, a UC Berkeley sociologist who researches the ways individuals overcome selfishness to contribute to the social good. He has found that people have varying levels of altruism, depending on such things as their personality, parental influences and experience. "Volunteering your time and giving money to charity tends to make people happier than spending money on themselves," Willer said. But for others, generosity pays. "It makes sense to be generous from a self-interested perspective," said Willer, who studies how people behave in groups. "If you're generous, you receive more respect, you have more influence and people cooperate with you more." Experiments Willer has conducted in five countries show that giving can be contagious. One of Willer's studies focused on users of the website freecycle.org, an online gift-giving community. Freecycle began in 2003 as an e-mail group in Tucson committed to reusing materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Its only rule was that items be given without reciprocity or compensation. Freecycle has since grown to have more than 7 million members in 85 countries. The feeling of gratitude has driven the success of Freecycle, Willer found. "Giving in this community follows a pattern of contagious generosity, where if you received a gift from somebody else in the world, then you become more likely to give to somebody else in turn," he said.
Jessica Jamil would like to thank all the people who helped raise her - from the probation officers to the social workers, Secret Santas and the charities, including Season of Sharing. Because living with her real family nearly killed her. When she was 13, her father raped her, stabbed her in the head and neck 32 times, and then left her for dead. Soon afterward, Jamil's mother abandoned her. "She checked out mentally," Jamil said. "I haven't talked to her since." Now 30, the single mother from San Mateo is [a] full-time working mom and student ... raising her 12-year-old daughter, Deja Sullivan. "I'm doing the opposite of how I was raised," Jamil said. "I just like knowing I'll have someone there for me whatever happens, and I'm there for her in any way she needs." Since her daughter's birth, Jamil has been assembling a team of life helpers. She went back to school to earn a certificate as a registered addiction specialist, and accepted $150 from the Pacifica Resource Center to pay for classes. She found a "grandma" for Deja, a friend's mother who cares for the girl when Jamil has to work. She's now going to the College of San Mateo at night to earn her associate in arts degree so she can one day become a probation officer and work with troubled kids. She works full time with autistic infants and toddlers at the Stepping Stones Center in San Mateo. "A lot of them don't have words, or they have sensory issues, so we just work with them modeling language and behavior," she said.
The Obama administration is preparing an executive order that would formalize indefinite detention without trial for some detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ..., U.S. officials said. Some civil liberties groups oppose any form of indefinite detention. "Indefinite detention without charge or trial is wrong, whether it comes from Congress or the president's pen," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office. "Our Constitution requires that we charge and prosecute people who are accused of crimes. You cannot sell an indefinite detention scheme by attaching a few due-process baubles and expect that to restore the rule of law. That is bad for America and is not the form of justice we want other nations to emulate." Legislation supported by some Republicans ... would create a system of indefinite detention not only for some Guantanamo detainees but also for future terrorism suspects seized overseas.
Note: Why are so few people speaking out about indefinite detention, when it is done in a way that gives the person detained virtually no legal rights or recourse? This clearly violates the sixth amendment to the US Constitution which states, "the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial."
Excerpts from complaint by New York State Attorney General (and Governor-Elect) Andrew Cuomo: E&Y [Ernst and Young] substantially assisted Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., now bankrupt, to engage in a massive accounting fraud, involving the surreptitious removal of tens of billions of dollars of securities from Lehman’s balance sheet in order to create a false impression of Lehman’s liquidity, thereby defrauding the investing public. As the financial crisis deepened in 2007 and 2008 and Lehman’s liquidity problems intensified, E&Y ... assisted Lehman in defrauding the public about the Company’s deteriorating financial condition, particularly its leverage. As the public auditor for Lehman, E&Y had the absolute obligation to ensure that Lehman’s financial statements ... did not mislead the public. Instead of fulfilling this obligation ... E&Y sat by silently while Lehman deceived the public by concealing [fraulent] transactions and misrepresenting the Company’s leverage. By doing so, E&Y directly facilitated a major accounting fraud, and helped Lehman mislead the public as to its true financial condition. E&Y, which reaped over $150 million in fees from Lehman, must be held accountable for its role in this fraud.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources detailing the fraud that led to the financial crisis and bailout of Wall Street by taxpayers, click here.
WikiLeaked cables released over the weekend revealed more about the US' role as a global bully. In a 2007 cable from Craig Stapleton, then US Ambassador to France, he encouraged the US government to "reinforce our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by publishing a retaliation list." A list, he added, that "causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility." The stated reason for their attack was that "Europe is moving backwards not forwards" on GMOs, with "France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [EU] Commission." The Ambassador was concerned that France and others would put a ban on the cultivation of Monsanto's GM corn seeds. According to the cable, the Ambassador ... was also upset about France's draft biotech law that "would make farmers and seed companies legally liable for pollen drift." This concept that the "polluter pays" is a foundational principle of US law - except for GMOs. Offering consumers a choice on GMOs is not on the US government agenda. Stapleton's tone in the letter was insistent. "We should not be prepared to cede on cultivation because of our considerable planting seed business in Europe." He said, "Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices."
Note: For lots more showing US commitment to spread frankenfoods, see this article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators. The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing. The months-long investigation [by The Washington Post], based on nearly 100 interviews and 1,000 documents, found that: * Technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America. * The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. * Law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies. * The Department of Homeland Security sends its state and local partners intelligence reports with little meaningful guidance, and state reports have sometimes inappropriately reported on lawful meetings.
Note: This report is part of a series, "Top Secret America," by The Washington Post. For more, click here.
More than 100 American cities could go bust next year as the debt crisis that has taken down banks and countries threatens next to spark a municipal meltdown, a leading analyst has warned. Meredith Whitney, the US research analyst who correctly predicted the global credit crunch, described local and state debt as the biggest problem facing the US economy, and one that could derail its recovery. "Next to housing this is the single most important issue in the US and certainly the biggest threat to the US economy," Whitney [said]. "There's not a doubt on my mind that you will see a spate of municipal bond defaults. You can see fifty to a hundred sizeable defaults – more. This will amount to hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of defaults." American cities and states have debts in total of as much as $2tn. US states have spent nearly half a trillion dollars more than they have collected in taxes, and face a $1tn hole in their pension funds, said the CBS programme, apocalyptically titled The Day of Reckoning.
Note: For a treasure trove of reports from major media sources on the dire impacts of the financial crisis and government bailout of financial capitalists at taxpayers' expense, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key 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.