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What if we stood up for Main Street? Corporations and elected officials are making decisions that are impacting our lives, and we are at their mercy. Americans, many [of] whose lives have been destroyed by the 2008 subprime mortgage market disaster, resent the lack of accountability on the part of Wall Street for its role in this scandal. Few have been indicted for the market collapse and resulting meltdown of the global economy. After the federal government bailed out the financial institutions, it is back to business as usual. Corporate profits are accumulating and bonuses are raining down on the very players who created the bubble and crash in the first place. On the other hand, the taxpayers who bailed out Wall Street aren't doing so well. Instead of bonuses, we are suffering from unemployment and underemployment of epic proportions. Homeowners continue to lose their homes to foreclosure, and homelessness is on the rise. Public services, public safety and public welfare funding is being cut back or cut out. Public education has been decimated. American corporations have lost all sense of responsibility for U.S. citizens. While the U.S. economy fights to survive, corporations have turned their backs on those whose tax dollars kept our ship of state from sinking. Sending jobs overseas might improve corporate profit margins, but at what expense to the workforce and U.S. economy? These decisions have devastated American workers' lives. So, what needs to be done? What if we begin to stand up for Main Street?
Note: For a treasure trove of reports detailing the criminal collusion between the federal government and Wall Street financial corporations, click here.
Conspiracy theories have proliferated following the attacks in the US on 11 September 2001. An opinion poll ... for BBC's The Conspiracy Files in 2011, found that 14% of people questioned in the UK and 15% in the US did not believe the official explanation that al-Qaeda was responsible, and instead believed the US government was involved in a wider conspiracy. Among 16 to 24-year-olds that belief rises to around one in four. Ten years on from the attacks [conspiracy theories] now question every aspect of the official account. The starting point for 9/11 conspiracies is that many people find it hard to believe 19 young men, armed with just knives and box-cutters, could casually walk through airport security, hijack four commercial planes and then within the space of 77 minutes destroy three of the iconic symbols of America's power, in the face of the world's most powerful and technologically-advanced military superpower. It is a similar argument that questions whether a lone gunman could have killed President John F Kennedy, then the most powerful and best-protected man on the earth, or how someone so special as Princess Diana could die in a car crash. "We don't know the full story of exactly what happened," says American radio talk show host Alex Jones. "It needs to be investigated."
A decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, federal and state governments are spending about $75 billion a year on domestic security, setting up sophisticated radio networks, upgrading emergency medical response equipment, installing surveillance cameras and bombproof walls, and outfitting airport screeners to detect an ever-evolving list of mobile explosives. But how effective has that 10-year spending spree been? "The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It's basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year," said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism. "So if your chance of being killed by a terrorist in the United States is 1 in 3.5 million, the question is, how much do you want to spend to get that down to 1 in 4.5 million?" he said. The vast network of Homeland Security spyware, concrete barricades and high-tech identity screening is here to stay. The Department of Homeland Security, a collection of agencies ranging from border control to airport security sewn quickly together after Sept. 11, is the third-largest Cabinet department and — with almost no lawmaker willing to render the U.S. less prepared for a terrorist attack — one of those least to fall victim to budget cuts.
Note: For a powerful article that goes much deeper into huge sums of money wasted in the war on terror by journalist Glenn Greenwald, click here.
A once-secret CIA history of the Bay of Pigs invasion lays out in unvarnished detail how the American spy agency came to the rescue of and cut deals with authoritarian governments in Central America, largely to hide the U.S. role in organizing and controlling the hapless Cuban exile invasion force. The most powerful people in Central American embassies were the CIA station chiefs. Ambassadors step aside and allow the CIA to negotiate deals for covert paramilitary bases in a newly released portion of the CIA’s “Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation.” “What you’re reading in this report shows again that in the hypocritical name of democracy the United States and CIA were willing to prop up some of the most cut-throat dictatorships,” says researcher Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. He sued the CIA for release of the Top Secret document that dissects one of the agency’s greatest failures. Using secret interviews, cables and memos, CIA historian Jack B. Pfeiffer wrote the classified account of the disastrous operation to topple Fidel Castro. It’s unusually candid because nobody except spies were expected read it. Both the Eisenhower and Kennedy governments wanted to be able to deny responsibility for the invasion.
Note: To read the formerly-secret CIA history of the Bay of Pigs operation, just released by the National Security Archive, click here.
Thursday night’s “Secret Access” report by The History Channel — “UFOs On The Record” — is the sort of crisp advocacy journalism one might easily envision in PBS’ “Frontline” rotation. Devoid of the tripe that too often characterizes network programming on this issue, “UFOs On The Record” is a foundational model for jump-starting a national conversation so desperately overdue. The 96-minute documentary, built upon Leslie Kean’s UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record, was produced by filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sudberg. Like Kean, they made no unsubstantiated claims and dispensed with the uninformed ruminations of so-called UFO skeptics that pass for “balance” in mainstream formulas. Instead, they mined official documents and eyewitnesses to build a compelling case for the serious disconnect between reality and American public policy. For Kean’s readers, the “Secret Access” treatment covered familiar turf: the Phoenix Lights, the Rendlesham Forest incident, the 1989-90 Belgian wave, etc. But watching many of the players in the book — like former Federal Aviation Administration accidents division chief John Callahan, and retired Belgian Gen. Wilfried De Brouwer — as they physically reconstructed complex interactions between UFOs and jet planes brought the enormity of the transactions to life.
Note: We don't usually use newspapers of smaller cities as a reliable source, but as no other major media reported on this most powerful documentary on UFOs, we're including this one here. To watch this astounding documentary free online, click here. For another detailed article on the program, click here.
Budd Hopkins, a distinguished Abstract Expressionist artist who — after what he described as a chance sighting of something flat, silver, airborne and unfathomable — became the father of the alien-abduction movement, died on Aug. 21 at his home in Manhattan. He was 80. After what he described as his own U.F.O. sighting, on Cape Cod in 1964, he began gathering the stories of people who said they had not only seen spaceships but had also been spirited away in them on involuntary and unpleasant journeys. As the first person to collect and publish such stories in quantity, Mr. Hopkins is widely credited with having begun the alien-abduction movement, a subgenre of U.F.O. studies. Later high-profile writers on the subject, including Whitley Strieber and the Harvard psychiatrist John Mack, credited him with having ignited their interest in the field. In eliciting the narratives — many obtained under hypnosis — of people who said they had been abducted, Mr. Hopkins was struck by the recurrence of certain motifs: the lonely road, the dark of night, the burst of light, the sudden passage through the air and into a waiting craft, and above all the sense of time that could not be accounted for. He went in search of that lost time.
Note: Prof. John Mack, mentioned in this article as inspired by the work of Budd Hopkins, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor at Harvard Medical School who initially rejected the possibility of alien abductions. Only after thorough investigation did he reluctantly come to the conclusion that this was a real phenomenon. For a powerful documentary featuring Mack's work on alien abductions, click here. For a fascinating summary of evidence presented by top government and military professionals on the possible presence of extraterrestrials here on Earth, click here.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation's most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government. The operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying. The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as "rakers," into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They've monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as "mosque crawlers," to monitor sermons, even when there's no evidence of wrongdoing. Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD's intelligence unit. A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency's payroll, was the architect of the NYPD's intelligence programs. The CIA trained a police detective at the Farm, the agency's spy school in Virginia, then returned him to New York, where he put his new espionage skills to work inside the United States. And just last month, the CIA sent a senior officer to work as a clandestine operative inside police headquarters.
British businesses are scrambling to return to Libya in anticipation of the end to the country's civil war, but they are concerned that European and North American rivals are already stealing a march as a new race to turn a profit out of the war-torn nation begins. Business leaders with previous experience of making deals in Libya have told The Independent that plans are in hand to send a trade mission to Benghazi to meet leaders of the Transitional National Council (TNC). After five months of fighting in the world's 12th-largest oil producer, industry figures are acutely aware that billions could be made in the coming years from rebuilding Libya. Immediate focus will fall on the country's oil fields. There is also intense lobbying for the multibillion-pound reconstruction contracts that are likely to be offered once fighting ends. French and German officials have already begun trade negotiations with the TNC. In the years preceding February's revolution, British businesses played a key part in wooing Muammar Gaddafi – part of a wider campaign by Western intelligence agencies to roll back Libya's pariah status in exchange for investment opportunities. Sir Mark Allen, a veteran Arabist and deputy head of MI6 who led negotiations with Colonel Gaddafi, was even hired by BP after his retirement to help to secure drilling rights.
Note: For a powerful summary of the real reason for modern war, profit, by famed US Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, click here.
Ignored by the media and dismissed by the Republican Party in general, liberty-minded Congressman Ron Paul leaped into third place today in the Gallup Presidential Nomination preference poll. Paul jumped over Michele Bachmann, relegating her to fourth-place in the current poll. Apparently the American people are starting to take notice, too. According to the most recent Rasmussen survey of likely voters, Ron Paul is a mere one point behind President Obama in a head-to-head matchup - a better result than any of the other GOP contenders received. This is despite the media blackout around Ron Paul's campaign, and despite the media's insistence that Ron Paul can't beat Obama. This poll suggests he can.
Note: We have seen a consistent and systematic campaign to block news reportage of candidates who are exposing the deeper political agenda like Congress members Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. For how the media is controlled to make this happen, click here.
Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits. By 2008, the housing market’s collapse forced those companies to take more than six times as much, $669 billion, in emergency loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The loans dwarfed the $160 billion in public bailouts the top 10 got from the U.S. Treasury, yet until now the full amounts have remained secret. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s [actions] included lending banks and other companies as much as $1.2 trillion of public money, about the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages. The largest borrower, Morgan Stanley, got as much as $107.3 billion, while Citigroup took $99.5 billion and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg News compilation of data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation and an act of Congress. It wasn’t just American finance. Almost half of the Fed’s top 30 borrowers, measured by peak balances, were European firms. Data gleaned [under the Freedom of Information Act] make clear for the first time how deeply the world’s largest banks depended on the U.S. central bank to stave off cash shortfalls. Even as the firms asserted in news releases or earnings calls that they had ample cash, they drew Fed funding in secret.
Note: For a treasure trove of information from reliable sources on the government transfer of public assets to private banks and financial corporations, click here.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the country to protest about the arrest of anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare. Though a string of major corruption scandals such as the telecoms licence scam that cost the country up to Ł26bn, and the alleged fraud surrounding the high-profile Commonwealth Games in Delhi, has fuelled some of the fury, it is the grinding daily routine of petty corruption that is at the root. "You pay for a birth certificate, a death certificate," said Varun Mishra, a 30-year-old software engineer and one of thousands who marched in Delhi to support Hazare. "All your life you pay. And for what? For things that should be free." Hazare, 74, has harnessed this grassroots frustration to launch a popular movement. Having been jailed as a threat to public order, he went on hunger strike and refused to leave prison when released. He has finally left jail, having been granted permission to hold a 15-day fast in a public park. Hazare is campaigning for a powerful new anti-corruption ombudsman with the right to investigate senior politicians, officials and judges.
Note: Hazare's campaign drew huge public support and was in the end successful, yet he says there is still much to be done. Click here for more. For key reports from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
IBM has developed a microprocessor which it claims comes closer than ever to replicating the human brain. The system is capable of "rewiring" its connections as it encounters new information, similar to the way biological synapses work. Researchers believe that by replicating that feature, the technology could start to learn. Dharmendra Modha, IBM's project leader, explained that they were trying to recreate aspects of the mind such as emotion, perception, sensation and cognition by "reverse engineering the brain." The SyNAPSE system uses two prototype "neurosynaptic computing chips". In humans and animals, synaptic connections between brain cells physically connect themselves depending on our experience of the world. The process of learning is essentially the forming and strengthening of connections. IBM has not released exact details of how its SyNAPSE processor works. IBM's work on the SyNAPSE project continues and the company, along with its academic partners, has just been awarded $21m (Ł12.7m) by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The SEC has violated federal law by destroying the records of thousands of enforcement cases in which it decided not to file charges against or conduct full-blown investigations of Wall Street firms and others initially suspected of wrongdoing, a former agency official has alleged. The purged records involve major firms such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and hedge-fund manager SAC Capital. At issue were suspicions of actions such as insider trading, financial fraud and market manipulation. A file closed in 2002 involved Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose collapse fueled the financial meltdown of 2008, according to the former official. A file closed in 2009 involved suspected insider trading in securities related to American International Group, the insurance giant bailed out by the government at the height of the financial crisis. The allegations were leveled in a July letter to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) from Gary J. Aguirre, a former SEC enforcement lawyer now representing a current SEC enforcement lawyer, Darcy Flynn. Flynn last year began managing SEC enforcement records and became concerned that records that were supposed to be preserved under federal law were being purged as a matter of SEC policy, Aguirre wrote.
Note: For more on this important news by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on the criminal practices of Wall Street corporations which led to global economic recession and massive government bailouts, click here.
It is one of the mysteries of Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis: How much damage did the 11 March earthquake inflict on the Fukushima Daiichi reactors before the tsunami hit? The stakes are high: if the earthquake structurally compromised the plant and the safety of its nuclear fuel, then every similar reactor in Japan may have to be shut down. Throughout the months of lies and misinformation, one story has stuck: it was the earthquake that knocked out the plant's electric power, halting cooling to its six reactors. The tsunami then washed out the plant's back-up generators 40 minutes later, shutting down all cooling and starting the chain of events that would cause the world's first triple meltdown. But what if recirculation pipes and cooling pipes burst after the earthquake – before the tidal wave reached the facilities; before the electricity went out? This would surprise few people familiar with the 40-year-old reactor one, the grandfather of the nuclear reactors still operating in Japan. Problems with the fractured, deteriorating, poorly repaired pipes and the cooling system had been pointed out for years. In September 2002, Tepco admitted covering up data about cracks in critical circulation pipes.
New evidence has emerged in one of the most enduring mysteries of United Nations and African history, suggesting that the plane carrying the UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld was shot down over Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) 50 years ago, and the murder was covered up by British colonial authorities. A British-run commission of inquiry blamed the crash in 1961 on pilot error and a later UN investigation largely rubber-stamped its findings. They ignored or downplayed witness testimony of villagers near the crash site which suggested foul play. The key witnesses were located and interviewed over the past three years by Göran Björkdahl, a Swedish aid worker based in Africa. The investigation led Björkdahl to previously unpublished telegrams ... which illustrate US and British anger at an abortive UN military operation that the secretary general ordered on behalf of the Congolese government against a rebellion backed by western mining companies and mercenaries in the mineral-rich Katanga region. Hammarskjöld was flying to Ndola for peace talks with the Katanga leadership at a meeting that the British helped arrange. The fiercely independent Swedish diplomat had, by then, enraged almost all the major powers on the security council with his support for decolonisation, but support from developing countries meant his re-election as secretary general would have been virtually guaranteed at the general assembly vote due the following year.
Sitting in front of the television may be a relaxing way to pass an evening, but spending too much time in front of the tube may take years off your life. That's what Australian researchers found when they generated life-expectancy tables for people based on mortality information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics as well as participants' survey responses about how much TV they had watched in the past week. The TV-viewing data from more than 11,000 participants older than 25 years showed that Australian adults watched an estimated 9.8 billion hours of television in 2008. People who watched an average six hours of TV a day lived an average 4.8 years fewer than those who didn't watch any television, the study found. Even more humbling: every hour of TV that participants watched after age 25 was associated with a 22-minute reduction in their life expectancy. The findings suggest that watching too much TV is as detrimental to longevity as smoking and lack of exercise.
Note: How about the health impacts of hours daily online or working at a computer screen? Might they be similar to the health effects of watching TV? For lots more on important health issues from reliable sources, click here.
Inequality in America. It's a subject that's getting more attention in light of the weak economy and the ongoing debate around budget cuts and raising revenues. Billionaire businessman ... Warren Buffett, who has argued in favor of higher taxes on the wealthiest, [discusses] the growing disparity. WARREN BUFFETT: It should be a land of opportunity. But the ... market system has led to extremes. Everybody in this country owes their good fortune in some way to the rest of the country. DAN ARIELY: People don't understand how much wealth the top 20 percent have. They actually have 84 percent of the wealth. And more disturbingly, people don't understand how little wealth the bottom of the distribution have. The bottom 40 percent of the U.S. have about 0.3 percent of the wealth, basically zero. RICHARD FREEMAN: In the last 30 years or so, the share of national [income] -- of income that has gone to the upper 0.1 percent -- not to the upper 1.0 percent -- 0.1 percent -- rose by 10 percentage points. That is one of the most astounding patterns I have ever seen in data. People sometimes say, oh, the rich, it's the upper 10 percent, it's the upper 5 percent. No, no, this is the 0.1 percent. Warren Buffett has this wonderful statement where he says: Yes, there's been a class war in the United States. And my class, namely the super rich people, have won.
Note: For key articles from major media sources on the extreme income inequality in the US, click here.
An Indian government attempt to head off a political crisis by arresting a key anti-corruption activist appeared to backfire ... when parliament walked out and demonstrations broke out across the country. Approximately 20 plainclothes police surrounded activist Anna Hazare, 73, ... as he left his house to begin a hunger strike against alleged widespread corruption, reportedly forbidding him from leaving the premises. When he defied them, they took him into custody on peremptory charges of "breach of peace." In April, Hazare held a five-day fast that garnered enormous national support and helped make him the public face of a grassroots anti-graft fight. It also put the ruling Congress party under pressure to pass a controversial "Lokpal Bill" that, among other things, would establish an independent ombudsman able to probe senior officials. When the cabinet passed a version that exempted the prime minister's office and top judges from close scrutiny, Hazare announced a second hunger-strike. India has seen a spate of corruption scandals in recent months, many allegedly involving senior Congress Party officials or their close allies, involving telecommunications, defense and sporting events allegedly amounting to tens of billions of dollars.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
Members of a well-known hacking group -- according to a statement and Twitter messages -- took credit ... for an online attack targeting San Francisco's embattled transit system. Anonymous ... said it would take down the website of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, known as BART, between noon and 6 p.m. PT Sunday. This is in response to the system's decision to cut off cellphone signals at "select" subway stations in response to a planned protest last week. "By (cutting cell service), you have not only threatened your citizens' safety, you have also performed an act of censorship," a seemingly computer-generated voice -- speaking over dramatic music and images -- said in a video posted online Sunday afternoon. "By doing this, you have angered Anonymous." On Sunday afternoon, a link off BART's website to myBART.org apparently had been hacked. It showed a page featuring, among other items, the Anonymous logo -- a smirking mask above two crossed swords, all on a black background. In addition, Twitter traffic related to Anonymous boasted that hackers had been able to get into BART's internal network.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors. Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent. If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot. My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
Note: The author of this article is Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world. Thanks for the excellent article, Warren.
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.