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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.
The US defence agency that invented the forerunner to the internet is working on a "virtual firing range" intended as a replica of the real internet so scientists can mimic international cyberwars to test their defences. Called the National Cyber Range, the system will be ready by next year and will also help the Pentagon to train its own hackers. The move marks another rise in the temperature of the online battlefield. The US and Israel are believed to have collaborated on a sophisticated piece of malware called Stuxnet that targeted computers controlling Iran's nuclear centrifuge scheme. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), which developed Arpanet, the forerunner of the internet, in the 1960s, is working on a number of fronts. Barack Obama has asked Congress for more than $250m (Ł154m) to fund Darpa's cyber initiatives in the coming year, double his fiscal 2011 request. The National Cyber Range is expected to be working by mid 2012, four years after the Pentagon approached contractors to build it at an estimated $130m. Darpa will this summer select one of them to operate a prototype test range during a year-long test. It will also help train cyberwarriors such as those in the American military's Cyber Command, ordered up by the secretary of defence, Robert Gates, in June 2009.
Note: For key reports on developing new war technologies, click here.
The psychedelic drug in magic mushrooms may have lasting medical and spiritual benefits, according to new research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The mushroom-derived hallucinogen, called psilocybin, is known to trigger transformative spiritual states, but at high doses it can also result in "bad trips" marked by terror and panic. "The important point here is that we found the sweet spot where we can optimize the positive persistent effects and avoid some of the fear and anxiety that can occur and can be quite disruptive," says lead author Roland Griffiths, professor of behavioral biology at Hopkins. Giffiths' study involved 18 healthy adults, average age 46. Nearly all the volunteers were college graduates and 78% participated regularly in religious activities; all were interested in spiritual experience. Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience. Their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that the psilocybin experience had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder.
Why do we still go to war? We seem unable to stop. Britain's borders and British people have not been under serious threat for a generation. Yet time and again our leaders crave battle. Why? Last week we got a glimpse of an answer and it was not nice. The outgoing US defence secretary, Robert Gates, berated Europe's "failure of political will" in not maintaining defence spending. He said Nato had declined into a "two-tier alliance" between those willing to wage war and those "who specialise in 'soft' humanitarian, development, peacekeeping and talking tasks". Peace, he implied, is for wimps. Real men buy bombs, and drop them. Libya has cost Britain Ł100m so far, and rising. But Iraq and the Afghan war are costing America $3bn a week, and there is scarcely an industry, or a state, in the country that does not see some of this money. These wars show no signs of being ended, let alone won. But to the defence lobby what matters is the money. It sustains combat by constantly promising success and inducing politicians and journalists to see "more enemy dead", "a glimmer of hope" and "a corner about to be turned". Victory will come, but only if politicians spend more money on "a surge".
Note: For a very similar, classic analysis of war profiteering by famed US Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, click here.
A former senior C.I.A. official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him. Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war. In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole. Since a series of Watergate-era abuses involving spying on White House political enemies, the C.I.A. and other spy agencies have been prohibited from collecting intelligence concerning the activities of American citizens inside the United States. “These allegations, if true, raise very troubling questions,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former C.I.A. general counsel. “The statute makes it very clear: you can’t spy on Americans.” Mr. Smith added that a 1981 executive order that prohibits the C.I.A. from spying on Americans places tight legal restrictions not only on the agency’s ability to collect information on United States citizens, but also on its retention or dissemination of that data.
Note: For important reports from major media sources on a wide array of threats to civil liberties by out-of-control government agencies and officials, click here.
You probably missed the recent special issue of China Newsweek, so let me bring you up to date. Who do you think was on the cover — named the “most influential foreign figure” of the year in China? Barack Obama? No. Bill Gates? No. Warren Buffett? No. O.K., I’ll give you a hint: He’s a rock star in Asia, and people in China, Japan and South Korea scalp tickets to hear him. Give up? It was Michael J. Sandel, the Harvard University political philosopher. This news will not come as a surprise to Harvard students, some 15,000 of whom have taken Sandel’s legendary “Justice” class. What makes the class so compelling is the way Sandel uses real-life examples to illustrate the philosophies of the likes of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. Sandel is touching something deep in both Boston and Beijing. “Students everywhere are hungry for discussion of the big ethical questions we confront in our everyday lives,” Sandel argues. “In recent years, seemingly technical economic questions have crowded out questions of justice and the common good. I think there is a growing sense, in many societies, that G.D.P. and market values do not by themselves produce happiness, or a good society. My dream is to create a video-linked global classroom, connecting students across cultures and national boundaries — to think through these hard moral questions together, to see what we can learn from one another.”
Every July, some of the richest and most powerful men in the world gather at a 2,700 acre campground in Monte Rio, Calif., for two weeks of heavy drinking, super-secret talks, druid worship (the group insists they are simply “revering the Redwoods”), and other rituals. The people that gather at Bohemian Grove — who have included prominent business leaders, former U.S. presidents, musicians, and oil barons — are told that “Weaving Spiders Come Not Here,” meaning business deals are to be left outside. One exception was in 1942, when a planning for the Manhattan Project took place at the grove, leading to the creation of the atom bomb. The club is so hush-hush that little can be definitively said about it, but much of what we know today is from those who have infiltrated the camp, including Texas-based filmmaker Alex Jones. In 2000, Jones and his cameraman entered the camp with a hidden camera and were able to film a Bohemian Grove ceremony, Cremation of the Care. During the ceremony, members wear costumes and cremate a coffin effigy called “Care” before a 40-foot-owl. The Sonoma County Free Press, which has published investigative stories on the grove since at least the 1980s, says activities include plays and comedy shows in which women are portrayed by male actors, and Lakeside Talks, in which high-ranking officials speak about information not available to the public. The group calls them “public interest talks.” Protests take place at the Bohemian Grove nearly ever year.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on other powerful secret societies, click here.
Are the gold bars in Fort Knox really made of the precious metal? Or has the U.S. government secretly sold off the nation's stockpile and replaced it with metal bars that are only painted gold? Ron Paul wants to find out. Giving legitimacy to an Internet conspiracy theory that the gold in Fort Knox is fake, the iconoclast Republican congressman from Texas has asked adminstration officials to audit the purity of the nation's 700,000 gold bars held in Fort Knox, according to an internal Treasury document obtained by CNBC. Paul, ... who chairs the House's subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, had previously called for the U.S. gold reserve to be counted and for a return to the gold standard. He now appears to be going a step further. One conspiracy theory says that no one has actually seen the gold since the 1930s. But in a letter to Paul in September, the Treasury Inspector General said he had "personally observed the gold reserves located in each of the deep storage compartments." CNBC asked for a tour of Fort Knox to film the gold. An official at the Mint told us that not he was not aware that any member of Congress had toured the facility since . Fort Knox is "a closed facility," the official said. And so the conspiracy theory continues...
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on government secrecy, click here.
One in six Americans live in "food insecure" homes. This means one in six Americans is seriously hungry, likely under-nourished or malnourished and doesn't know when he/she will have their next meal. When Panera Bread Founder and CEO Ronald Shaich learned this, he thought about how Panera Bread opens two restaurants every week, employs 60,000 people, and he knew Panera's resources could have impact on America's hunger problem. He personally set out to help, pitched his board (with a lot of respect and credibility under his belt), created a foundation and the result is a new kind of chain restaurant: pay-what-you-can Paneras. Panera Cares shops look like any other Panera Bread, but the prices are just suggestions. If you can pay, you do. If you can't, you don't. If you can pay more, you're welcome. More than one year into the program, Panera Cares has restaurants in St. Louis, Detroit and Portland, and the shops will serve between 500,000 to 1 million meals this year. Each restaurant must generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining, and so far, all of them are. One out of five customers leaves more than the suggested donation; three in five leave the suggested donation; and one in five customers leaves less or nothing, usually because they have real need. "People get it, people feel it and people appreciate it," said Shaich.
Note: It is interesting that no major media reported this inspiring Reuters article. Could it be that they don't welcome a new paradigm like this?
On 28 March 2011, President Obama was given a "transparency award" from five "open government" organisations: OMB Watch, the National Security Archive, the Project on Government Oversight, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and OpenTheGovernment.org. Ironically – and quite likely in response to growing public criticism regarding the Obama administration's lack of transparency – heads of the five organisations gave their award to Obama in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House. If the ceremony had been open to the press, it is likely that reporters would have questioned the organisations' proffered justification for the award, in contrast to the current reality: • Ignoring his campaign promise to protect government whistleblowers, Obama's presidency has amassed the worst record in US history for persecuting, prosecuting and jailing government whistleblowers and truth-tellers. • President Obama has initiated a secret assassination programme, has publicly announced that he has given himself the power to include Americans on the list of people to be assassinated, and has attempted to assassinate at least one, Anwar al-Awlaki. • President Obama has maintained the power to secretly kidnap, imprison, rendition, or torture, and he has formalised the power to lawlessly imprison in an executive order.
Note: For key reports on the lawless war on terrorism carried out by the US government, click here.
The two parties contesting this election are unusually pathetic. Their programs are unusually unimaginative. Their policies are unusually incommensurate to the problem at hand. The election is happening during a downturn in the economic cycle, but the core issue is the accumulation of deeper structural problems that this recession has exposed — unsustainable levels of debt, an inability to generate middle-class incomes, a dysfunctional political system, [and] the steady growth of special-interest sinecures. Workers’ share of national income has been declining since 1983. Male wages have been stagnant for about 40 years. The American working class — those without a college degree — is being decimated, economically and socially. Voters are certainly aware of the scope of the challenges before them. Their pessimism and anxiety does not just reflect the ebb and flow of the business cycle, but is deeper and more pervasive. Trust in institutions is at historic lows. Large majorities think the country is on the wrong track, and have for years. Large pluralities believe their children will have fewer opportunities than they do. Voters are in the market for new movements and new combinations, yet the two parties have grown more rigid.
This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled funding for reconstruction in postwar Iraq. But despite years of investigations, US defence officials still cannot say what happened to $US6.6 billion ($6.3 billion) of the cash. Federal auditors are now suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error. After the US-led invasion in March 2003, the Bush administration flooded Iraq with so much cash that a new unit of measurement was born. Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $US2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $US100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash followed by 20 other flights by May 2004 in a $US12 billion haul that US officials believe to be the biggest ever international cash airlift. Stuart Bowen, special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction, said the missing $US6.6 billion might be ''the largest theft of funds in national history''. Iraqi officials are threatening to go to court to reclaim the money, which came from Iraqi oil sales, seized Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the United Nations' oil-for-food program. Pentagon officials have contended for the past six years that they could account for the money if given enough time to track down the records. But repeated attempts to find the documentation, or better yet the cash, were fruitless.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
Four decades ago, [Daniel Ellsberg] leaked a top-secret study packed with damaging revelations about U.S. conduct of the Vietnam War. On [June 13] that study, dubbed the Pentagon Papers, finally came out in complete form. The National Archives and a trio of presidential libraries released the papers 40 years after The New York Times published the first in its series on the report. Most of the 7,000-page study has been out for years. Monday's release draws it together for the first time, and online. The study reveals a pattern of deception as the Johnson, Kennedy and prior administrations secretly escalated the Vietnam conflict. The declassified report includes 2,384 pages missing from what was regarded as the most complete version of the Pentagon Papers, published in 1971 by Democratic Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska. Ellsberg served with the Marines in Vietnam and came back disillusioned. A protegé of Nixon adviser Henry Kissinger, who called the young man his most brilliant student, Ellsberg served the administration as an analyst, tied to the Rand Corporation. The report was by a team of analysts. To this day, Ellsberg regrets staying mum for as long as he did. "I was part, on a middle level, of what is best described as a conspiracy by the government to get us into war," he said. His message to whistleblowers now: Speak up sooner. "Don't do what I did. Don't wait until the bombs start falling."
Note: Forty years later, both Democratic and Republican administrations continue to escalate war expenses while telling the public they are doing the opposite. For the powerful revelations of a top US general exposing the manipulations behind the war machine, click here. Senator Gravel is spearheading the call for an independent 9/11 investigation and prosecution of Bush and Cheney. For more on this, click here and here.
FBI agents took box after box of address books, family calendars, artwork and personal letters in their 10-hour raid in September of the ... house shared by Stephanie Weiner and her husband. The agents seemed keenly interested in Weiner’s home-based business, the Revolutionary Lemonade Stand, which sells silkscreened baby outfits and other clothes with socialist slogans, phrases like “Help Wanted: Revolutionaries.” The search was part of a mysterious, ongoing nationwide terrorism investigation with an unusual target: prominent peace activists and politically active labor organizers. Investigators, according to search warrants, documents and interviews, are examining possible “material support” for Colombian and Palestinian groups designated by the U.S. government as terrorists. The apparent targets, all vocal and visible critics of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and South America, deny any ties to terrorism. They say the government, using its post-9/11 focus on terrorism as a pretext, is targeting them for their political views. The activists have formed the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, organized phone banks to flood Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s office and the White House with protest calls, solicited letters from labor unions and faith-based groups and sent delegations to Capitol Hill to gin up support from lawmakers.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on government attacks on civil liberties, click here.
How do you write a new constitution in the 21st century? You go where the people are — online. That was the decision of tiny but tech-savvy Iceland, which is overhauling its constitution in the wake of an economic catastrophe, and has turned to the Internet to get input from citizens. The 25-member council drafting the new constitution is reaching out to Icelanders online, especially through social media sites Facebook and Twitter, video-sharing site YouTube and photo site Flickr. Iceland's population of 320,000 is among the world's most computer-literate. Two-thirds of Icelanders are on Facebook, so the constitutional council's weekly meetings are broadcast live on the social networking site as well as on the council's website. "To me, it has long been clear that a comprehensive review of the constitution would only be carried out with the direct participation of the Icelandic people," said Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, one of the champions of the constitutional review since taking office in 2009. The 25 members of the constitutional council were elected by popular vote from a field of 522 candidates aged 18 and over. The council is basing its work on a 700-page report prepared by a committee that took into account the findings of 950 randomly selected Icelanders — the National Forum — who met for a day to discuss the division of powers, conservation and protection, foreign relations and more.
Note: The media has given little coverage to how Iceland's public has repeatedly rejected strong pressure from international banks to buckle to their demands. For a great article going into this, click here.
An elite and secretive gathering of senior government officials and captains of industry is wrapping up a weekend confab at the chic Swiss resort of St. Moritz. The annual Bilderberg meeting's Web site said its annual conference ending Sunday dealt mainly with challenges for growth, security and democracy in Europe, the Middle East and China. The 130 attendees from Europe, North America and other countries -- among the invitees were EU President Herman Van Rompuy, members of European royalty, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt -- keep up an informal, off-the-record tradition that conspiracy theorists consider almost a shadow world government. This year's conference was held at an Alpine luxury hotel patrolled by private security guards that drew a left-wing demonstration Saturday.
Note: This secretive meeting of some of the most powerful people in the world has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. Possibly as a result of this, they finally established a simple website in 2010 at http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org. The website claims that "the names of the participants as well as the agenda are made Public and available to the press." This was most definitely not true until just recently. For other highly revealing articles on secret societies of the global elite, click here.
Friday marks the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest, most expensive, most destructive social policy experiments in American history: The war on drugs. On the morning of June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon ... declared: “America’s public enemy No. 1 ... is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.” So began a war that ... became an unmitigated disaster, an abomination of justice and a self-perpetuating, trillion-dollar economy of wasted human capital, ruined lives and decimated communities. Since 1971, more than 40 million arrests have been conducted for drug-related offenses. And no group has been more targeted and suffered more damage than the black community. Last week, the Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy ... declared that: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. [Forty] years after President Nixon launched the U.S. government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.” The White House immediately shot back: no dice.
The United States and Switzerland are in advanced talks on a multibillion-dollar deal that would let several Swiss and European banks join a common settlement and avoid potential U.S. prosecution for helping wealthy Americans dodge taxes. As part of the agreement under discussion, known as a global resolution, U.S. government agencies would invite the banks to pay a fine, exit their undeclared offshore banking businesses for Americans, and turn over client names to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Justice Department. In exchange, the agencies would drop an ongoing investigation into the banks. It could not immediately be determined which banks could be invited to participate in the global resolution. The fines involved could collectively total several billion dollars, they said. Banks that "opt out" of the deal could face heightened scrutiny from U.S. authorities, including a possible legal summons for client names from the IRS and tougher scrutiny by the Justice Department. A resolution would signal another strong blow to the Swiss tradition of client confidentiality, whose laws date to 1934 but whose tradition goes back centuries.
Note: For lots more on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.
[Attorney-General Dominic Grieve's] refusal yesterday to request an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly was furiously condemned by campaigners, who are now planning [to] seek a judicial review of Mr Grieve's decision. Dr Stephen Frost, who has led a group of campaigning doctors, said the decision was "deeply flawed" with "no basis in law". Calling the continuing "cover-up of the truth" a "national disgrace", he said they were "perplexed and outraged" and called for Mr Grieve to resign. Dr Kelly's body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home in 2003, shortly after he had been revealed as the source of a BBC report claiming a government dossier [on evidence for Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction"] had been sexed up. The respected weapons inspector died aged 59, two days after he had faced MPs' questioning. The campaigning doctors ... pointed out the [Hutton] inquiry spent only half a day of its 24 days considering the cause of Dr Kelly's death and insisted no "coroner in the land would have reached a suicide verdict on the evidence". Yesterday Dr Frost added: "This Government has now revealed itself to be complicit in a determined and concerted cover-up."
Note: For much more on government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.
A NATO security report about "Anonymous" —- the mysterious "hacktivist" group responsible for attacks on MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, Amazon and, most recently, Sony -— has led the underground group to respond by cautioning NATO, "This is no longer your world. It is our world - the people's world." NATO's report, issued last month, warned about the rising tide of politically-motivated cyberattacks, singling out Anonymous as the most sophisticated and high-profile of the known hacktivist groups. In response, Anonymous issued a lengthy statement ... that says, in part: "We merely wish to remove power from vested interests and return it to the people - who, in a democracy, it should never have been taken from in the first place. Our message is simple: Do not lie to the people and you won't have to worry about your lies being exposed. Do not make corrupt deals and you won't have to worry about your corruption being laid bare. Do not break the rules and you won't have to worry about getting in trouble for it." It goes on to warn, "do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous. Do not make the mistake of believing you can behead a headless snake. If you slice off one head of Hydra, ten more heads will grow in its place. If you cut down one Anon, ten more will join us purely out of anger at your trampling of dissent."
The military is dramatically upping its investment in drones over the next nine years, according to Pentagon plans. Medium and high altitude unmanned aircraft like the Global Hawk, Predator, and Reaper will balloon in number to 650 in fiscal year 2021, up from approximately 340 in fiscal year 2012. The emphasis on unmanned aircraft "is a direct reflection of recent operational experience and combatant commander (COCOM) demand," the aviation plan states. And what does that refer to? Just a few examples: There were 118 drone strikes in the ... Pakistan-Afghanistan border region of North and South Waziristan in 2010, up drastically from about 50 in 2009. Every day these systems are being flown by the U.S. worldwide. An advantage to using drones is the persistent surveillance they provide, having the ability to hover over a target for hours on end. National security expert John Pike likens it to an FBI stakeout of a gangster's social club. And another obvious benefit-- using unmanned drones allows the military and the CIA to avoid US casualties. "You avoid body bags, hostages, and public attention," says Pike. The procurement plan numbers released only focus on the larger, higher speed unmanned aircraft, and leave out the smaller systems the US has and plans to purchase. In total, the US currently has 8,000 drones of all sizes and capabilities.
Note: And what about the many innocent civilians killed by these drones? Drones are murdering people without any usage of a formal justice system, often with opposition from the leaders of the countries in which the strikes are made. Is this justice? For key reports on developing new war technologies, 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.