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Below are key excerpts of important news articles on the prison-industrial complex's greed and corruption, new research showing that Morgellons disease is not delusional, a Wall Street Journal website's article on explosives in the WTC towers, 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. And don't miss the "What you can do" box below the summaries. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Prisons, Privatization, Patronage
June 22, 2012, New York Times
The New York Times has published several terrifying reports about New Jersey’s system of halfway houses — privately run adjuncts to the regular system of prisons. The horrors described are part of a broader pattern in which essential functions of government are being both privatized and degraded. So what’s really behind the drive to privatize prisons? One answer is that privatization can serve as a stealth form of government borrowing, in which governments avoid recording upfront expenses (or even raise money by selling existing facilities) while raising their long-run costs in ways taxpayers can’t see. Another answer is that privatization is a way of getting rid of public employees. But the main answer, surely, is to follow the money. As more and more government functions get privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business. Are the corporations capturing the politicians, or the politicians capturing the corporations? One thing the companies that make up the prison-industrial complex — companies like Community Education or the private-prison giant Corrections Corporation of America — are definitely not doing is competing in a free market. They are, instead, living off government contracts. And ... despite many promises that prison privatization will lead to big cost savings, such savings — as a comprehensive study by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, concluded — “have simply not materialized.” A corrupt nexus of privatization and patronage [is] undermining government across much of our nation.
Note: Have you noticed that crime rates are at the lowest in many years, yet prison spending continues to skyrocket? Is something wrong with this picture? For key major media new articles exposing more on corruption within the "prison-industrial complex," click here.
Police shootings rise as crime falls
June 17, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
It's a curious paradox: Crime rates continue to fall in California, but the number of people killed by the police keeps rising. In Los Angeles County, for example, the number of 2011 homicides was a historic low of 612 people. But the number of fatal police shootings skyrocketed by nearly 70 percent that same year, to 54. That number of fatal shootings by officers was almost equal to 10 percent of the county's homicides last year. Los Angeles is not alone. Nationwide, officer-involved shootings are on the rise, with cities as disparate as Dallas and Albuquerque registering sharp spikes in fatal police shootings. What's going on? It's too soon to know whether 2011 was just an unusual year or the start of a trend. In 2011, 72 officers across the country were killed by perpetrators - a 75 percent increase from 2008. This rough equation makes some sense - if the police are encountering suspects who are more likely to fire on them, they're going to fire back. California is struggling with decades-old budget decisions that have left far too many mentally ill people out on the street, where they can be a danger to themselves and others. Police officers, not caseworkers, are all too often first responders to the mentally unstable. [And] California's ... draconian sentencing laws - followed by prison overcrowding and early release programs - haven't made anyone safer. Legislators and governors have tinkered around the edges of these issues without attempting a full overhaul, but a full overhaul is what the state needs.
Note: For more on corruption within the judicial system and "prison-industrial complex," click here.
Morgellons Study Cited by Faculty of 1000
June 19, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
A recent study of Morgellons disease has been cited as a "must read" by the Faculty of 1000 (F1000). The article entitled "Morgellons Disease: A Chemical and Light Microscopic Study", by MJ Middelveen, EH Rasmussen, DG Kahn and RB Stricker, was published in the open-access online Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dermatology Research. In 2011, veterinary microbiologist Marianne J. Middelveen from Calgary, Alberta, Canada and internist Raphael B. Stricker, MD published a study documenting similarities between Morgellons disease and a veterinary illness known as bovine digital dermatitis (BDD) that causes lameness, decreased milk production, weight loss, and skin lesions near the hooves of affected cattle. That study revealed that the unusual fibers seen in the animal disease were similar to those seen in and under the skin of people worldwide who suffer from Morgellons disease. The new study confirms that Morgellons disease is not a delusional illness, as some in the medical community maintain. The latest findings confirm that fibers from both bovine and human samples were similar in formation at the cellular level and had the chemical and physical properties of keratin. Fibers from human patients were found to be biological in origin and are produced by keratinocytes in epithelial and follicular tissues. "This study puts the final nail in the coffin of delusional disease that these patients have been labeled with," stated Dr. Stricker. "It proves that Morgellons disease is a physiologic illness. From here on, scientists will be able to move forward in finding a cause and a cure."
Note: To read this important study on Morgellons Disease, click here. For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
Expert Group Rejects World Trade Center Reports
May 22, 2012, MarketWatch (Part of the Wall Street Journal's digital network)
If you thought that the fires at the World Trade Center twin towers, set off by the horrific jetliner impacts of September 11, 2001, were the cause of the destruction of those iconic skyscrapers, you may be mistaken. Experts now cite evidence showing that high-temperature incendiaries and explosives were planted throughout the twin towers and the lesser-known 47-story Building 7, also destroyed later the same day. So says a group of architects and engineers nearly 1700 strong, represented by Richard Gage, AIA, founder of Architects & Engineers For 9/11 Truth and the director/producer of a new documentary. Two years in the making, the documentary "9/11: Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out - FINAL EDITION " officially debuted today. The film features 43 experts in building engineering, physics, chemistry, and other technical fields, plus a half-dozen psychologists who discussed the denial of the evidence that the AE911Truth engineers have been seeking to get attention to since the founding of the nonprofit organization in 2007. The group's petition, signed by 14,000 concerned citizens in addition to the architectural and engineering experts, calls upon the U.S. Congress to initiate a new independent investigation. "The official story about the attacks of September 11 falls apart when you look squarely at the facts and apply basic scientific principles to interpret them," says Gage.
Note: For an early version of this powerful documentary, click here. See our 9/11 Information Center for lots more information on the realities behind 9/11.
Native American tribes owed millions from government, supreme court rules
June 18, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Native American tribes are celebrating a major victory in their battle for equal treatment after the US supreme court ruled that the government could no longer short-change them over contracts for public services. The suit claimed that the government had over many years withheld millions of dollars owed to the tribes by imposing a cap on the contracts it had taken out with them. Native American leaders hailed the ruling as an important victory. Rodger Martinez, president of the Ramah Navajo Chapter in New Mexico that was a plaintiff in the case, said they had been saddened that they had to go all the way to the supreme court to find redress. "But we are happy that they sided with us. This gets us back to the principle that the government must pay us what we are entitled to," he said. The dispute over money relates to services provided by the tribes themselves under the Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975. Under that law, the tribes would sub-contract from the federal government public services such as police, schools, fire prevention, hospitals, and infrastructure works, as well as environmental works and subsidies to farmers. Under the arrangement, the federal government would pay the tribes for the services provided, just as it would any other contractor. But from 1994 the government changed the way it paid for the services, no longer paying for each contract in full but handing the tribes a collective lump sum onto which it imposed a ceiling – thereby withholding from them a portion of the moneys owed. The supreme court ruling found this to be unacceptable.
Note: For key reports on government corruption from major media sources, click here.
U.N. investigator decries U.S. use of killer drones
June 19, 2012, MSNBC/Reuters
A U.N. investigator has called on the Obama administration to justify its policy of assassinating rather than capturing al Qaeda or Taliban suspects, increasingly with the use of unmanned drone aircraft that also take civilian lives. Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, urged Washington to clarify the basis under international law of the policy, in a report issued overnight to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The U.S. military has conducted drone attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, in addition to conventional raids and air strikes, according to Heyns, a South African jurist serving in the independent post. Citing figures from the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, he said U.S. drone strikes killed at least 957 people in Pakistan in 2010 alone. Thousands have been killed in 300 drone strikes there since 2004, 20 percent of whom are believed to be civilians." Although figures vary widely with regard to drone attack estimates, all studies concur on one important point: there has been a dramatic increase in their use over the past three years," Heyns said. Human rights law requires that every effort be made to arrest a suspect, in line with the "principles of necessity and proportionality on the use of force", the investigator said.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the warcrimes committed by the US military, click here.
Rio+20 draft text is 283 paragraphs of fluff
June 22, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
In 1992, world leaders signed up to something called "sustainability". Few of them were clear about what it meant. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: "sustainable development". Then it made a short jump to another term: "sustainable growth". And now, in the 2012 Rio+20 text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into "sustained growth". This term crops up 16 times in the document, where it is used interchangeably with sustainability and sustainable development. But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability. As a result, the draft document, which seems set to become the final document, takes us precisely nowhere: 190 governments have spent 20 years bracing themselves to "acknowledge", "recognise" and express "deep concern" about the world's environmental crises, but not to do anything about them. The draft and probably final declaration is 283 paragraphs of fluff. It suggests that the 190 governments due to approve it have, in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us. So what do we do now?
Suu Kyi says Nobel Peace Prize shattered her isolation, ensured Burmese would not be forgotten
June 16, 2012, Washington Post/Associated Press
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi declared Saturday that the Nobel Peace Prize she won while under house arrest 21 years ago helped to shatter her sense of isolation and ensured that the world would demand democracy in her military-controlled homeland. Suu Kyi received two standing ovations inside Oslo’s city hall as she gave her long-delayed acceptance speech to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The 66-year-old champion of political freedom praised the power of her 1991 Nobel honor both for saving her from the depths of personal despair and shining an enduring spotlight on injustices in distant Myanmar. “Often during my days of house arrest, it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world,” she said. “What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings, outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me. ... And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma." Suu Kyi, who since winning freedom in 2010 has led her National League for Democracy party into opposition in Myanmar’s parliament, offered cautious support for the first tentative steps toward democratic reform in her country. But she said progress depended on continued foreign pressure on the army-backed government.
Note: It is inspiring to see the positive effect that the Nobel Peace Prize may have on the state of the world. Unfortunately it does not always do so, as is evident with the prizes given to strategists of global war such as Henry Kissinger.
The Jamie Dimon Cufflinks Mystery
June 14, 2012, CNBC
There's been a lot of speculation about the cufflinks [JPMorgan Chase CEO] Jamie Dimon wore during [his Congressional] testimony. They caught the eye of folks because they seemed to bear some sort of official government stamp. As it turns out, they were emblazoned with the seal of the President of the United States. CNN's Lizzie O'Leary first confirmed the story last night over Twitter. They were, in fact, a gift from a resident of the White House. But people close to the JPMorgan Chase CEO won't say which president gave them to him. Dimon's got a bunch of official U.S. government cufflinks. Search for images of him and you'll see FBI cufflinks, for example. Was Dimon trying to send any particular message by wearing the presidential cufflinks? Was he, for instance, trying to remind the Democrats he supported Obama? Or subtly hinting that he's really the guy in charge?
Note: For powerful reports on financial corruption, click here.
Why the U.S. Senate Sucks Up to Public Enemy Jamie Dimon
June 20, 2012, Alternet
When Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase Bank, appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on June 13, he was wearing cufflinks bearing the presidential seal. “Was Dimon trying to send any particular message by wearing the presidential cufflinks?” asked CNBC editor John Carney. “Was he . . . subtly hinting that he’s really the guy in charge?” The groveling of the Senators was so obvious that Jon Stewart did a spoof news clip on it. JPMorgan Chase is the biggest campaign donor to many of the members of the Banking Committee. Financial analysts Jim Willie and Rob Kirby think it may be something far larger, deeper, and more ominous. They contend that the $3 billion-plus losses in London hedging transactions that were the subject of the hearing can be traced, not to European sovereign debt (as alleged), but to the record-low interest rates maintained on U.S. government bonds. The national debt is growing at $1.5 trillion per year. Ultra-low interest rates must be maintained to prevent the debt from overwhelming the government budget. Near-zero rates also need to be maintained because even a moderate rise would cause multi-trillion dollar derivative losses for the banks, and would remove the banks’ chief income stream, the arbitrage afforded by borrowing at 0% and investing at higher rates. The low rates are maintained by interest rate swaps, called by Willie a “derivative tool which controls the bond market in a devious artificial manner.”
Note: We don't usually use alternet.org as a reliable source, but because the major media failed to ask the hard, very important questions posed in this article, we've included it here. For powerful reports on financial corruption, click here.
Opportunistic countries ready to cash in on Afghanistan
June 12, 2012, Chicago Tribune
Even before NATO forces begin leaving Afghanistan, [other countries are] trying to win access to the nation's vast natural resources after Western troops leave. Chief among them are China, Iran and India. For example, in Beijing late last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed a deal allowing China to pursue mineral resources, energy development and agricultural opportunities. Over the past decade, China has given the Afghan government $246 million in aid -- while spending $3.5 billion to develop a cooper mine there. India ... has won rights to mine iron ore. And Iran ... is promising copious aid and assistance after NATO leaves. Underlying all of this is the discovery that Afghanistan holds at least $1 trillion in untapped natural resources, including oil, cobalt, iron ore, gold and precious metals, among them lithium, used to power batteries. An internal Pentagon memo, now widely quoted, calls Afghanistan "the Saudi Arabia of lithium."
Faulty computer modeling caused San Onofre equipment problems
June 19, 2012, Los Angeles Times
Faulty computer modeling caused the equipment problems that are expected to keep the San Onofre nuclear plant dark through the summer, federal regulators said Monday. The plant has been out of service since Jan. 31, when operators discovered a small leak in one of the thousands of steam generator tubes that carry hot, radioactive water used to create steam to turn turbines that generate electricity. That led to the discovery that other tubes were rubbing against support structures and adjacent tubes, and wearing out more quickly than expected. Eight tubes failed pressure testing, which NRC officials said ... is the first time in the nuclear industry that more than one tube at a plant has failed. The wear is a safety concern because tube ruptures can release radiation. The plant's operator, Southern California Edison; the NRC; and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of the steam generators, have been studying the cause and extent of the wear. The NRC has ordered Edison to keep the plant shuttered until it has determined the cause and how to fix it. "This is a significant, serious safety issue," said NRC regional administrator Elmo Collins. "This is a very difficult technical issue, and to be honest, it's not one we've seen before." NRC officials said it appears that simulations by Mitsubishi underpredicted the velocity of steam and water flowing among the tubes by a factor of three or four. The high rate of flow caused the tubes to vibrate and knock against each other, leading to the wear. It was not clear why the computer modeling was so far off.
Note: For lots more on corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
Are we wildly underestimating solar and wind power?
June 19, 2012, Washington Post blog
Right now, renewable energy sources like solar and wind still provide just a small fraction of the world’s electricity. But they’re growing fast. Solar is growing exponentially. Across the globe, 55 terawatt-hours of solar power had been installed by the end of 2011. That may not seem like much in itself — the United States by itself, after all, needed about one hundred times that much power in 2011. But solar has been growing at a stunning rate, as panels keep getting dramatically cheaper. If these exponential growth rates [continue] solar could provide nearly 10 percent of the world’s electricity by 2018. Official agencies keep underestimating the growth rate of renewables. The International Energy Agency is forecasting that solar will catch on much more slowly — providing a mere 4.5 percent of the world’s electricity by 2035. But [t]he IEA has almost always underestimated how quickly wind and solar can grow. Forecasters have consistently been too pessimistic. For instance, back in 2000, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook predicted that non-hydro sources of renewable energy would make up 3 percent of global energy by the year 2020. The world reached that point in 2008, well ahead of schedule. Using only current technology, renewables could technically provide the vast bulk of U.S. electricity by mid-century.
Note: The media has consistently underplayed the promising potential for alternative energy sources. The fact that the above is a blog and not a regular article in the Post is yet another example of this. For more on promising developments on energy technologies, click here.
Americans Empowered to Separate Solar Fact from Fiction with Real Goods Solar's Free "87 Solar Myths" eBook
June 21, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Real Goods Solar, the nation's most established residential solar installer and integrator, is helping Americans separate solar fact from solar fiction with a free, downloadable myth-busting eBook known as 87 Solar Myths, available online at www.RealGoodsSolar.com. 87 Solar Myths is a quick read to dispel what solar professionals across the U.S. say are today's most pervasive solar industry inaccuracies. Interest is high. Nearly one thousand eBooks have been downloaded since its Earth Week release. 87 Solar Myths slaps down perennial [myths] such as "Solar technology is too expensive," "Coal power is cheaper than getting power from the sun," "A solar lease traps you in your home," or "$0 down solar is too good to be true," while confirming the veracity of other well-publicized solar tenets. "What we've learned in speaking with people across the U.S. over the years is that we aren't just in the business of solar, we're in the business of educating," explained Real Goods Solar Residential Marketing Director Cheryl Moody. "There are some whacky - and some serious - rumors that persist amongst consumers. Our goal is to equip homeowners with an unbiased source of information so that they can confidently make valid decisions as to how the benefits of solar energy could improve their circumstances," Moody said.
Note: For more on promising developments on energy technologies, click here.
Studying the art of gratitude
June 18, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Are we in the middle of a gratitude movement? Evidence suggests so. Publishers can't seem to print enough books with the words "gratitude" or "gratefulness" in the title. Scientists rake in millions of dollars in grants to study how feelings of gratitude might improve physical health and psychological well-being. And this weekend, hundreds are expected to attend a Pathways to Gratefulness conference [in San Francisco] to talk about cultivating gratefulness in their lives. Among the participants is Brother David Steindl-Rast, an 85-year-old Benedictine monk, considered the spiritual leader of the gratitude movement. The author of Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer ... and A Listening Heart ..., Steindl-Rast will be joined by an eclectic collection of writers, poets, spiritual teachers and scientists involved in the fast-growing field of gratitude research. One of those scientists, Emiliana Simon-Thomas, is director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, which controls a $5.9 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to fund a project called Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. Simon-Thomas ... said the Berkeley center is considering 60 research proposals, including many from the leading brain science laboratories in the United States. Some of the research would build on studies already conducted by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, who cites "scientific proof that when people regularly work on cultivating gratitude they experience a variety of measurable benefits - psychological, physical and social."
Note: For a profound, five-minute video on gratefulness that will brighten your day, click here. And for an excellent essay on gratitude, click here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Bush Insider Who Planned To Tell All Killed In Plane
December 20, 2008, New York Times
Michael Connell, the Bush IT expert who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George Bush's 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed last night when his single engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron airport. Velvet Revolution ("VR"), a non-profit that has been investigating Mr. Connell's activities for the past two years, can now reveal that a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how he can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that George Bush and Dick Cheney would "throw [him] under the bus." A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell's life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife, Heather. VR's attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, notified the United States Attorney General, Ohio law enforcement and the federal court about these threats and insisted that Mr. Connell be placed in protective custody. VR also told a close associate of Mr. Connell's not to fly his plane because of another tip that the plane could be sabotaged. Mr. Connell, a very experienced pilot, has had to abandon at least two flights in the past two months because of suspicious problems with his plane. On December 18, 2008, Mr. Connell flew to a small airport outside of Washington DC to meet some people. It was on his return flight the next day that he crashed.
Note: WantToKnow.info supporter Dr. Josh Mitteldorf downloaded this essay from the New York Times website the day it was published, but then was surprised to find it removed the very next day. You can find the article as it originally appeared at this link. For an excellent OpEdNews article by Dr. Mitteldorf on this most strange death and why it matters, click here. And for the deposition of Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican insider and computer consultant who came out as whistleblower on this matter, click here.
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