Health Lobby and Corrupt Politicians,
9/11 Questions, Wall Street Blues
Revealing News Articles
September 28, 2009
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the health lobby and corrupt politicians who get millions from lobbyists, Wall Street blues and the unchanged regulations there, a key insider's book which questions the 9/11 Commission's account, 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.
With best wishes,
Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info
Special note: Fred discovered last week that for the first time he has been blacklisted in his interpreting work. To read an intriguing account of both Fred's past interpreting for U.S. presidents and the current incident where Monsanto barred him from interpreting, click here. And for an information-packed, four-minute video clip on how the Internet and new technologies are powerfully transforming our world, click here.
But Who Is Watching Regulators?
September 13, 2009, New York Times
Nothing succeeds like failure, as the saying goes. And nowhere is this dismal truth more evident than in our financial regulatory system, one year after the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers. Even though calamitous lending practices laid waste to the nation's economy, surprisingly little has changed about how the financial arena operates and is supervised. Sure, a couple of venerable brokerage firms have vanished, but many of the same players remain on the scene, in the same positions of power. Senior regulators who stood idly by for years as financial firms built their houses of cards have been rewarded with even bigger jobs or are jockeying for increased responsibilities. The Federal Reserve Board, for example, wants to become the financial system's uber-regulator, even though its officials did nothing as banks made deadly decisions to lend recklessly and leverage themselves to the max. Awarding increased power to those who failed in their oversight duties flies in the face of all notions of accountability. Yet those in the public sector ask us to believe that regulators who snoozed during the credit bubble will be alert to emerging problems on their beats when the next mania begins. That's asking a lot, isn't it? Here's a novel thought. Instead of creating more regulations to try to prevent this kind of mess from recurring, why not figure out how to hold regulators accountable when they perform as poorly as they did in recent years? Taxpayers must protect themselves against two things: the corrupting influence of bureaucratic self-interest among regulators and the political clout wielded by the large institutions they are supposed to police. [And] taxpayers must demand that the government publicize the costs of efforts taken to save the financial system from itself.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street crash and bailout, click here.
Legislators for sale
August 3, 2009, MSNBC
A special comment on health care reform in this country. The insurance industry owns the Republican Party. Not exclusively. Pharma owns part of it, too. Hospitals and HMO's, another part. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota ... has thus far received from the Health Sector, campaign contributions ... amounting to $1,206,176. How about Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite? Are you truly worth every dollar of the $369,000,255 ... you have received over the years from the Health Sector? [And Democrat] Bart Gordon of Tennessee ... $1,173,000 in donations from the Health Sector. [Democratic Senator] Max Baucus of Montana, ... you're supposed to be negotiating all this out with the Republicans and hesitant Democrats? Your price has been ... $414,000 in donations from hospitals, about $667,000 from the insurance companies and just over $1,000,000 from Big Pharma. Mr. Baucus, you are not the Senator from Schering-Plough Global Health Care, even if they have already given you $76,000 towards your re-election. We could bring up Senator Hagan ... who, at $628,000, appears to represent the insurance industry and not North Dakota. I could bring up Sen. Carper, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln. I could bring up all the other Democrats doing their masters' bidding in the House or the Senate. Every poll, every analysis, every vote, every region of this country supports health care reform, and the essential great leveling agent of a government-funded alternative to ... profiteering private insurance corporations.
Note: For an excellent analysis of the huge influence of the pharmaceutical industry over our government by the former editor-in-chief of the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine, click here. It's time to get the money influence out of politics and shift from our current one dollar equals one vote to one person equals one vote.
Medical Editors Push for Ghostwriting Crackdown
September 18, 2009, New York Times
The scientific integrity of medical research has been clouded in recent years by articles that were drafted by drug company-sponsored ghostwriters and then passed off as the work of independent academic authors. Yet the leading medical journals have continued to rely largely on an honor system of disclosure to detect such potential bias, asking authors to voluntarily report any industry ties or contributors to their manuscripts. But now, in light of recently released evidence that some drug makers have gone to great lengths to turn scientific articles into marketing vehicles for their products, some influential medical editors are cracking down on industry-financed ghostwriting. These editors are demanding that journals impose tougher disclosure policies for academic authors and that the journals enforce their own rules by actively investigating the provenance of manuscripts and by punishing authors who play down extensive contributions by ghostwriters. Calling for a zero tolerance policy, the editors of the medical journal PLoS Medicine, from the Public Library of Science, called for journals to identify and retract ghostwritten articles and banish their authors. "Authors found to have not declared such interest should be banned from any subsequent publication in the journal and their misconduct reported to their institutions." In the past, researchers have raised allegations of ghostwriting in articles about quality-of-life drugs like antidepressants, painkillers and diet pills. But the situation has become more serious this year after a few editors said they had discovered ghostwriting in manuscripts about life-and-death products like cancer and hematology drugs."
Note: For background on the prevalence of ghostwriting in major medical journals, click here and here and here.
A New Look at the 9/11 Commission
September 11, 2009, Time magazine
Former New Jersey attorney general John Farmer served as senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, tasked with investigating the government response to the attacks. His new book, The Ground Truth, picks up where the commission left off taking a deeper look at the government's ... response to the attacks and exposing officials determined to hide their failings from the inquiry. Farmer uses newly released transcripts and recordings to cast doubt on the official version of events. He spoke with TIME about the attacks. [Time:] Why do you think officials tried to obscure [the truth about 9/11]? [Farmer:] It's almost a culture of concealment, for lack of a better word. There were interviews made at the FAA's New York center the night of 9/11 and those tapes were destroyed. The CIA tapes of the interrogations were destroyed. The story of 9/11 itself, to put it mildly, was distorted and was completely different from the way things happened. [Time:] Some of the distortions you've discussed have fed various conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11. Did you ever see any evidence of a conspiracy? [Farmer:] One of the harmful byproducts of not telling the truth about what happened is that it did fuel all sorts of conspiracy theories about what might have happened. If what the government is telling you isn't true, then the truth could be anything. I think there is evidence that the truth wasn't told and that at least some of that was deliberate.
Note: Many respected scholars, officials and professionals have questioned the 9/11 Commission's report. Click here and here to read some of their statements.
Who's Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?
November 1, 2009 issue, The American Conservative
Sibel Edmonds has a story to tell. She went to work as a Turkish and Farsi translator for the FBI five days after 9/11. She was fired from the FBI in April 2002 after she raised concerns that one of the translators in her section was a member of a Turkish organization that was under investigation for bribing senior government officials and members of Congress, drug trafficking, illegal weapons sales, money laundering, and nuclear proliferation. On Aug. 8, she was finally able to testify under oath in a court case filed in Ohio and agreed to an interview with The American Conservative based on that testimony. PHILIP GIRALDI: You map out a corruption scheme involving U.S. government employees and members of Congress and agents of foreign governments. So the network starts with a person like [Marc] Grossman in the State Department providing information that enables Turkish and Israeli intelligence officers to have access to people in Congress, who then provide classified information that winds up in the foreign embassies? EDMONDS: Absolutely. And we also had Pentagon officials doing the same thing. We were looking at Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. They had a list of individuals in the Pentagon broken down by access to certain types of information. Some of them would be policy related, some of them would be weapons-technology related, some of them would be nuclear-related. Perle and Feith would provide the names of those Americans, officials in the Pentagon, to Grossman, together with highly sensitive personal information: this person is a closet gay; this person has a chronic gambling issue; this person is an alcoholic. The files on the American targets would contain things like the size of their mortgages or whether they were going through divorces.
Note: Sibel Edmonds is the founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. For lots more on her key testimony, click here. Philip Giraldi is a former CIA officer and The American Conservative's Deep Background columnist. An ever increasing number of people are waking up to the truth of 9/11.
Twin Towers, Twin Myths?
September 17, 2009, Santa Barbara Independent (Santa Barbara's leading weekly)
One of the crucial technical disputes in American history, perhaps second only to global warming, is underway. It pits hundreds of government technicians who say the World Trade Center buildings were brought down by airplane impact against hundreds of professional architects and building engineers who insist that the Twin Towers could never have collapsed solely due to the planes and are calling for a new independent investigation. It is a fight that is not going away and is likely to get louder as more building trade professionals sign on to one side or the other. Better than anyone, David Ray Griffin understands the "enormous importance" of Richard Gage, the Bay Area architect and staunch Republican who founded Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911 Truth). Griffin, [a] retired Santa Barbara philosophy professor/theologian (Claremont School of Theology), is regarded as the leading investigative force within what is called the 9/11 Truth movement, with seven 9/11 books to his credit, including his bestseller The New Pearl Harbor. Griffin found his greatest stumbling block in public appearances to be this question: If his analysis was true – that two planes could not have brought down three World Trade Center (WTC) buildings without the aid of pre-planted explosives – why didn't a single U.S. architect or building engineer publicly support him? Now, in three years, Gage has signed up 804 architects and structural engineers, some from top firms, who challenge the official version of the buildings' collapses. AE911 Truth has grown rapidly, igniting a struggling grassroots movement of hundreds of other "9/11 Truth" organizations, and spearheading a growing assault on the official story.
Note: WantToKnow team member David Ray Griffin has just published a thorough debunking of the latest official explanation of the collapse of three steel-framed skyscrapers at the World Trade Center after two of them were struck by aircraft, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7.
WHO: 3BN swine flu vaccine doses available yearly
September 24, 2009, Forbes.com/Associated Press
Pharmaceutical companies will be able to produce about 3 billion doses of swine flu vaccine a year ... the World Health Organization said. The U.N. agency had previously predicted that companies would be able to make up to 5 billion doses each year. The World Health Organization admits that not everyone may need vaccination. "Most people will do well without the vaccine," WHO vaccine chief Marie-Paule Kieny told reporters. She said most people infected with the pandemic strain of the H1N1 virus have a mild illness and recover by themselves. Addressing concerns about the safety of the pandemic vaccine, WHO said trials to date suggest it is as safe as a regular seasonal flu shot. Kieny said large-scale vaccination programs would probably detect some cases of severe reaction following the vaccination, but that those would likely have occurred anyway without vaccination. The agency is urging countries to monitor the vaccination procedure for possible further side effects. Meanwhile WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan repeated Thursday her recommendation that governments keep up their guard against swine flu but refrain from closing borders or restricting trade.
Note: With the cost of a regular flu vaccine dose ranging from about $20 to $30, do you think the pharmaceutical companies have any vested interest in the public being vaccinated? Let's see, 3 billion X $20 = $60 billion. Hmm. For more on the danger of this vaccine and rampant fear mongering, click here and here.
Incomes of young in 8-year nose dive
September 17, 2009, USA Today
The incomes of the young and middle-aged especially men have fallen off a cliff since 2000, leaving many age groups poorer than they were even in the 1970s, a USA TODAY analysis of new Census data found. People 54 or younger are losing ground financially at an unprecedented rate in this recession, widening a gap between young and old that had been expanding for years. The dividing line between those getting richer or poorer: the year 1955. If you were born before that, you're part of a generation enjoying a four-decade run of historic income growth. Every generation after that is now sinking economically. Household income for people in their peak earning years between ages 45 and 54 plunged $7,700 to $64,349 from 2000 through 2008, after adjusting for inflation. People in their 20s and 30s suffered similar drops. Older people enjoyed all the gains. The line between the haves and have-nots runs through the middle of the Baby Boom, the population explosion 1946-64. "The second half of the Baby Boom may be in the worst shape of all," says demographer Cheryl Russell of New Strategist Publications, a research firm. "They're loaded with expenses for housing, cars and kids, but they will never generate the income that their parents enjoyed."
Note: For lots more on income inequality from reliable sources, click here.
Wall Street Pursues Profit in Bundles of Life Insurance
September 6, 2009, New York Times
After the mortgage business imploded last year, Wall Street investment banks began searching for another big idea to make money. They think they may have found one. The bankers plan to buy "life settlements," life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash $400,000 for a $1 million policy, say, depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to "securitize" these policies, in Wall Street jargon, by packaging hundreds or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell those bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die. The earlier the policyholder dies, the bigger the return though if people live longer than expected, investors could get poor returns or even lose money. Either way, Wall Street would profit by pocketing sizable fees for creating the bonds, reselling them and subsequently trading them. But some who have studied life settlements warn that insurers might have to raise premiums in the short term if they end up having to pay out more death claims than they had anticipated. In the aftermath of the financial meltdown, exotic investments dreamed up by Wall Street got much of the blame. It was not just subprime mortgage securities but an array of products ... that proved far riskier than anticipated. The debacle gave financial wizardry a bad name generally, but not on Wall Street. Even as Washington debates increased financial regulation, bankers are scurrying to concoct new products. In addition to securitizing life settlements, for example, some banks are repackaging their money-losing securities into higher-rated ones.
Note: As this article reveals, Wall Street will make a killing on these new securitized investments if American life expectancy should drop. Can you think of any ways in which powerful corporations could bring this about? Say an increase in sugar content or genetically modified components in foods? Perhaps lower standards for chemical toxicity? More time watching TV, or other changes leading to increased obesity? Swine flu vaccinations? For lots more from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street crash and bailout, click here.
Big Oil's Stain in the Amazon
September 9, 2009, New York Times
Because of concerns about climate change, a lot of current environmentalist advocacy including movies like "An Inconvenient Truth" concentrates on the dire results of burning fossil fuels. Joe Berlinger's "Crude," a thorough and impassioned new documentary, focuses its gaze on production rather than consumption. The film, which follows the fitful progress of a class-action lawsuit undertaken on behalf of the people of the Ecuadorean Amazon, is not about the unintended consequences of using petroleum. Instead, it examines the terrible, frequently unacknowledged costs of extracting oil from the ground. "Crude," in other words, investigates the local manifestations cancer, contaminated water, cultural degradation of a global problem. Even as "Crude" dwells on a single, relatively small slice of territory (about the size of Rhode Island), its action shifts from muddy villages in Amazonia to law offices and shareholders' meetings in the steel-and-glass cities of North America, drawing into its purview a motley cast of scientists, human rights crusaders, civil servants and international celebrities. Like almost every other recent documentary on a politically charged topic, "Crude" does not pretend to neutrality. Yet while Mr. Berlinger's sympathies clearly lie with the oddly matched pair of lawyers Steven Donziger, a big, outgoing American, and Pablo Fajardo, a wiry, diffident Ecuadorean who are consumed by the now 16-year-old suit against Chevron, he is fair-minded enough to include rebuttals from the company's executives and in-house environmental scientists. And since this is, in part, a courtroom drama, both sides have a chance to be heard.
For Your Health, Froot Loops
September 5, 2009, New York Times
A new food-labeling campaign called Smart Choices, backed by most of the nation's largest food manufacturers, is "designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices." The green checkmark label that is starting to show up on store shelves will appear on hundreds of packages, including to the surprise of many nutritionists sugar-laden cereals like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops. "These are horrible choices," said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health. He said the criteria used by the Smart Choices Program were seriously flawed, allowing less healthy products, like sweet cereals and heavily salted packaged meals, to win its seal of approval. "It's a blatant failure of this system and it makes it, I'm afraid, not credible," Mr. Willett said. Froot Loops qualifies for the label because it meets standards set by the Smart Choices Program for fiber and Vitamins A and C, and because it does not exceed limits on fat, sodium and sugar. It contains the maximum amount of sugar allowed under the program for cereals, 12 grams per serving, which in the case of Froot Loops is 41 percent of the product. That is more sugar than in many popular brands of cookies. "Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar," said Celeste A. Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg's, which makes Froot Loops. Dr. Clark, who is a member of the Smart Choices board, said that the program's standard for sugar in cereals was consistent with federal dietary guidelines.
Note: For many revealing reports on health issues, click here.
Political writer Irving Kristol dead at 89
September 18, 2009, MSNBC/Associated Press
Irving Kristol, the political writer and publisher known as the godfather of neo-conservatism,... died Friday. He was 89. A Trotskyist in the 1930s, Kristol would soon sour on socialism, break from liberalism after the rise of the New Left in the 1960s and in the 1970s commit the unthinkable support the Republican Party, once as "foreign to me as attending a Catholic mass." He was a flagship in the network of think tanks, media outlets and corporations that helped make conservatism a reigning ideology for at least two decades. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a longtime admirer and former President George W. Bush, whose administration was heavily populated by neo-conservatives, awarded Kristol a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. Kristol himself would regard neo-conservatism as a job well done. But the Iraq War and the poor economy badly damaged the right's unity and credibility over the past few years. "If there is any one thing that neo-conservatives are unanimous about, it is their dislike of the counterculture," Kristol once said. With funding from Joseph Coors, Richard Mellon Scaife and others, the right created such think tanks as the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Kristol himself was a fellow at a key think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. Kristol also taught at New York University, worked for several years as a senior editor at the Basic Books publishing house and in the 1950s headed the anti-communist magazine Encounter, which turned out to have been funded without Kristol's knowledge, he said by the CIA.
Note: To learn how Kristol became a top manager in spreading fear to support the political elite, watch the powerful BBC documentary "The Power of Nightmares" at this link. This revealing film show how much of the fear spread by the media is consciously fabricated by people like Kristol and his colleagues.
Glaxo profits soar as drug firm charges NHS £6 for swine flu vaccine that costs £1 to make
July 23, 2009, Daily Mail (One of the UK's largest-circulation newspapers)
Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline was accused of cashing in on swine flu after it revealed its profits have risen 10 per cent since the virus was identified. It announced profits yesterday of £2.1billion in the past three months. Sales of vaccines and antiviral drugs could push the figure up even higher. GSK chief executive Andrew Witty admitted the swine flu crisis would be a 'significant financial event for the company'. Sales of the company's Relenza inhaler, an alternative to Tamiflu used by pregnant women among others, are expected to top £600million. And this figure could be boosted by up to £2billion once deliveries of the swine flu vaccine begin in September. But Mr Witty denied Europe's biggest drugs company was gearing up to cash in. He admitted it was planning to charge the UK £6 a jab, but vociferously denied reports it cost a pound to manufacture. Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: 'This is clearly a bonanza for the company. This is a staggeringly substantial return. I will write to the National Audit Office to determine whether we got the best deal for the taxpayer.' Susi Squire of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 'We need an assurance from the Government that they have got the most competitive rate out of GlaxoSmith-Kline.' Geoff Martin of London Health Emergency said: 'It's a scandal that any company could use the swine flu pandemic as an opportunity to jack up profits. 'The Government should step in and impose a windfall tax on private companies that have hit the jackpot as a result of the flu crisis.'
Note: For more on profiteering in the vaccination industry, click here.
Special note: For a very strange, 50-second CNN News clip of an unusual creature which the anchor states looks like an alien, click here. More at this link. Even stranger, when Fred did an Internet search to find more about this, he clicked on a website which mentioned the incident, and his computer was instantly attacked by a very strange and dangerous virus, which luckily was stopped by virus protection.
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