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Below are key excerpts of important news articles which include revealing information on the Pentagon's new targeting center for Special Operations strikes worldwide, the threat of near-term bankruptcy for more than 100 US cities, the amazing wealth of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. The most important sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Building a network to hit militants
January 5, 2011, Fox News/Associated Press
The Obama administration has ramped up its secret ["war on terror"] with a new military targeting center to oversee the growing use of special operations strikes against suspected militants in hot spots around the world, according to current and former U.S. officials. Run by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, the new center [is] a significant step in streamlining targeting operations ... giving elite military officials closer access to Washington decision-makers. The center aims to speed the sharing of information and shorten the time between targeting and military action. The creation of the center comes as part of the administration's increasing reliance on clandestine and covert action. The White House has more than doubled the numbers of special operations forces in Afghanistan alone, as well as doubling the CIA's use of missile strikes from unmanned drones in Pakistan. The center is staffed with at least 100 [operatives] fusing the military's special operations elite with analysts, intelligence and law enforcement officials from the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies. Its targeting advice will largely direct elite special operations forces in both commando raids and missile strikes overseas. The data also could be used at times to advise domestic law enforcement in dealing with suspected terrorists inside the U.S., the officials said.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on the expanding secret war carried out worldwide by the US, click here.
$2tn debt crisis threatens to bring down 100 US cities
December 20, 2010, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
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.
Gulf-trotting Tony Blair cashes in on his war contacts
October 18, 2009, The Times (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Tony Blair has been cashing in on his contacts from the Iraq conflict and his role as Middle East peace envoy for a private business venture expected to earn him more than £5m a year. The former prime minister has sold his political and economic expertise to two countries, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, via his fledgling private consultancy. He also represents the investment bank JP Morgan in the region. Blair has been ... amassing a fortune from the American lecture circuit. By offering himself to the Arab states as a statesman for hire, he could comfortably double his annual earnings. His consultancy, the London-based Tony Blair Associates (TBA), emulates the New York partnership Kissinger Associates, which was founded by Henry Kissinger, the former national security adviser to President Nixon. Peter Brierley, 59, of Batley, West Yorkshire, whose 28-year-old son Shaun was killed near the Kuwait-Iraq border in 2003 and who refused to shake Blair’s hand at a memorial service this month, said: “This beggars belief. It’s absolutely scandalous that he’s now trying to make money from his contacts in the region. It’s money from the blood and lives of the soldiers who died in Iraq.” His fees for talks, along with contracts with JP Morgan and Zurich Financial Services, are estimated to put his earnings — excluding [a big] book deal — well in excess of £5m a year.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
The little red book that swept France
January 3, 2011, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Take a book of just 13 pages, written by a relatively obscure 93-year-old man, which contains no sex, no jokes, no fine writing and no startlingly original message. A publishing disaster? No, a publishing phenomenon. Indignez vous! (Cry out!), a slim pamphlet by a wartime French resistance hero, Stéphane Hessel, is smashing all publishing records in France. The book urges the French, and everyone else, to recapture the wartime spirit of resistance to the Nazis by rejecting the "insolent, selfish" power of money and markets and by defending the social "values of modern democracy". The book, which costs €3, has sold 600,000 copies in three months and another 200,000 have just been printed. Its original print run was 8,000. In the run-up to Christmas, Mr Hessel's call for a "peaceful insurrection" not only topped the French bestsellers list, it sold eight times more copies than the second most popular book. Mr Hessel, who survived Nazi concentration camps to become a French diplomat, said he was "profoundly touched" by the success of his book. Just as he "cried out" against Nazism in the 1940s, he said, young people today should "cry out against the complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers" and "defend our democratic rights acquired over two centuries".
Note: For lots more from major media sources on the "complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers", click here.
Obama administration gives billions in stimulus money without environmental safeguards
November 28, 2010, Washington Post
The Obama administration has doled out about $2 billion in stimulus money to some of the nation's biggest polluters while granting them exemptions from a basic form of environmental oversight, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found. The administration has awarded more than 179,000 "categorical exclusions" to stimulus projects funded by federal agencies, freeing the projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Officials said they did not consider companies' pollution records in deciding whether to grant the waivers. The projects include: - An electrical-grid upgrade project in Kansas led by Westar Energy, the state's largest coal-burning utility, which settled a major air pollution case by paying half a billion dollars in penalties and remediation costs. - A project to create clean-burning biofuel from seaweed led by chemical giant DuPont, which received $8.9 million in stimulus funds in February. In all, about three dozen of the country's biggest polluters with past environmental problems won NEPA exemptions for the stimulus grants totaling $2 billion from the Energy Department - about 6 percent of the department's total money awarded so far.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
Say something, unless it embarrasses the TSA
January 3, 2001, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Chris Liu is an Army veteran and a helicopter pilot who rose to the rank of captain before leaving the military to pursue a career in commercial aviation - first as an instructor, ultimately as a pilot for a major airline. He volunteered for the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, begun after 9/11, that trains and deputizes select pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit. After psychological and background checks, he was accepted. Now Liu is in trouble with the government that only a few weeks ago entrusted him with the lives of airline passengers. On Dec. 2, six federal agents and sheriff's deputies arrived at his home outside Sacramento to confiscate his FFDO credentials and his government-issued handgun. Days later, the Transportation Security Administration sent Liu a letter stating that he had violated the FFDO's rules for nondisclosure and standards of conduct. How? In November, Liu anonymously posted videos on YouTube, since removed, showing security weaknesses at San Francisco International Airport. While passengers and even flight crews endure body scans and pat-downs, ground crews face limited screening. "The doors, gates and other access points where they can access the tarmac are not being manned by TSA and certainly do not have the same metal detectors, body scanners, x-ray equipment, dogs or other security measures that the rest of us are all too painfully forced to undergo," Liu writes on his website.
Note: The government is happy to spend billions on invasive body scans (think big profits), yet fails to even consider huge holes in airport security. Could this be about money?
More birds fall from sky — this time in Louisiana
January 4, 2011, MSNBC
Some 500 dead and dying birds fell onto a Louisiana highway on Monday, just three days after a similar incident in Arkansas. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries [said] that necropsies on some birds indicated many "exhibited traumatic injuries." Two dozen of them had head, neck, beak or back injuries. In Arkansas, preliminary tests showed the blackbirds there, as many as 5,000, died after massive trauma. "The birds suffered from acute physical trauma leading to internal hemorrhage and death," the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said in a statement. "There was no sign of chronic or infectious disease." The injuries were primarily in the breast tissue, with blood clotting and bleeding in the body cavities. Dr. George Badley, the state's top veterinarian, told NBC News that the birds died in midair, not on impact with the ground. That evidence, and the fact that the blackbirds fly in close flocks, suggests they suffered some massive midair collision, he added. That lends weight to conclusion that they were startled by something. The commission noted that "loud noises were reported shortly before the birds began to fall from the sky," adding that blackbirds seldom fly at night. The commission also is trying to determine what caused the deaths of up to 100,000 fish over a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near a dam in Ozark , 125 miles west of Beebe. The fish were discovered on Dec. 30.
Note: Startling does not cause internal hemorrhage and massive trauma. The birds "suffered from acute physical trauma" and "died in midair." This sounds like a secret experiment from the government's HAARP program might be involved. For reliable information on the disturbing HAARP program, click here.
Bishop William Swing wants a U.N. for religions
December 26, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
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.
Once a rising star, chef now feeds hungry
April 2, 2010, CNN
Narayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home before heading to Europe changed everything. "I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food," Krishnan said. "It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime." Haunted by the image, Krishnan quit his job within the week and returned home for good, convinced of his new destiny. "That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame -- to serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves," Krishnan said. Krishnan founded his nonprofit Akshaya Trust in 2003. Now 29, he has served more than 1.2 million meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- to India's homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused. Krishnan said the name Akshaya is Sanskrit for "undecaying" or "imperishable," and was chosen "to signify [that] human compassion should never decay or perish. The spirit of helping others must prevail for ever." He seeks out the homeless under bridges and in the nooks and crannies between the city's temples. The hot meals he delivers are simple, tasty vegetarian fare he personally prepares, packs and often hand-feeds to nearly 400 clients each day. Krishnan carries a comb, scissors and razor and is trained in eight haircut styles that, along with a fresh shave, provide extra dignity to those he serves.
Note: For other inspiring stories of everyday heroes like this, click here.
Survivor of tragedy now on giving side of charity
December 23, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
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.
Key Articles From Years Past
Many Firms Didn't Pay Taxes
August 12, 2008, Washington Post
About two-thirds of corporations operating in the United States did not pay taxes annually from 1998 to 2005, according to a [report] from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In 2005, after collectively making $2.5 trillion in sales, corporations gave a variety of reasons on their tax returns to account for the absence of taxable revenue. The most frequently listed included the cost of producing their goods, salary expenses and interest payments on their debt, the report said. Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) called the findings "a shocking indictment of the current tax system." "It's shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country," he said. "The tax system that allows this wholesale tax avoidance is an embarrassment and unfair to hardworking Americans who pay their fair share of taxes. We need to plug these tax loopholes and put these corporations back on the tax rolls." In 2005, about 28 percent of large corporations paid no taxes. Of the 1.3 million corporations included in the study, 998 were categorized as "large." Dorgan and Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) requested the report out of concern that some corporations were using "transfer pricing" to reduce their tax bills. The practice allows multi-national companies to transfer goods and assets between internal divisions so they can record income in a jurisdiction with low tax rates. Levin said: "This report makes clear that too many corporations are using tax trickery to send their profits overseas and avoid paying their fair share in the United States."
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption, click here.
U.S. Can Confine Citizens Without Charges, Court Rules
September 10, 2005, Washington Post
A federal appeals court yesterday backed the president's power to indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil without any criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital during wartime to protect the nation from terrorist attacks. The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, came in the case of Jose Padilla, a former gang member and U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in 2002 and a month later designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush. Padilla has been held without trial in a U.S. naval brig for more than three years, and his case has ignited a fierce battle over the balance between civil liberties and the government's power to fight terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A host of civil liberties groups and former attorney general Janet Reno weighed in on Padilla's behalf, calling his detention illegal and arguing that the president does not have unchecked power to lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely. In its ruling yesterday, the three-judge panel overturned a lower court. Avidan Cover, a senior associate at Human Rights First, said the ruling "really flies in the face of our understanding of what rights American citizens are entitled to." Opponents have warned that if not constrained by the courts, Padilla's detention could lead to the military being allowed to hold anyone who, for example, checks out what the government considers the wrong kind of reading materials from the library.
Note: For many disturbing reports from major media sources on government threats to civil liberties, click here.
Fuel Of Of The Future?
August 6, 1996, Seattle Times
Inventors who are mixing water with fuel to power engines say they're onto something big. German-born inventor Rudolf Gunnerman [believes] that one of the world's most common compounds - good old tap water - can be blended with fuel to power your car, truck or lawn mower. Gunnerman claims to have devised a means to blend water with naphtha in order to power engines in a cleaner, cheaper, more efficient way. "New ideas and better ideas are not necessarily found by universities or by large companies. New ideas and better ideas are found by people who look for them," says Gunnerman, 68. "Caterpillar" is the single word that brings a degree of credibility to Gunnerman's claims. The Peoria, Ill.-based heavy- equipment manufacturer entered a joint venture with Gunnerman in July 1994. Together, under the name Advanced Fuels, they've conducted experimental uses of the A-21 fuel - made up of 70 percent naphtha, a crude-oil byproduct, and 30 percent water. And now, Paccar Inc. is throwing its trucking weight in Gunnerman's corner. The Bellevue-based manufacturer of Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks recently sent a truck to Peoria for testing with the A-21 fuel. Paccar changed out the engine to add a Caterpillar engine and modified the cylinders and fuel injectors to handle more fluid volume. They also did a series of baseline tests of noise, cooling, drivability and fuel economy, said Jim Reichman, Paccar's technology-development manager. Back at Paccar's Mount Vernon technical center, Reichman is enthused. "We're pretty pleased with it," he said.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on new energy developments, click here.
Above Their Own Laws
May 23, 1988, Time Magazine
By one count, only 61 of the 2,500 senior policy staff members working for the Senate are black. There are, however, no exact records -- because Congress has exempted itself from equal-opportunity and affirmative-action laws. -- House Speaker Jim Wright's office catches fire, but there are no sprinklers. The laws requiring them do not apply to the Capitol or other federal buildings. -- A controversy erupts over dangerous working conditions in the Capitol's mail-folding room, where newsletters are processed. Congress does not fall under the occupational safety and health (OSHA) regulations that bedevil other employers. -- Legislators are about to decide whether to raise the federal minimum-wage level for the first time in seven years. At the moment, however, the minimum-wage laws do not protect the 15,000 people who work for Congress. -- Michael Deaver and Lyn Nofziger face jail terms because their lobbying ran afoul of the Ethics in Government Law. Congressmen and their staffers who become lobbyists and do the same things have no fear: the law does not apply to them. Congress's attitude, says Senator John Glenn, "is the rankest form of hypocrisy. Laws that are good enough for everybody else ought to be good enough for us." Instead, Congress has exempted itself from a broad array of laws covering civil rights, minimum wages, and safety requirements and discrimination. "Congress would exempt itself from the laws of gravity if it could," says Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde.
Note: The fact that Congress exempts itself from its own laws is one of the major sources of corruption in the US. For lots more from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
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