Economic Data Doubts, Oil Crisis Questions, NYC Police Surveillance
Revealing News Articles
May 29, 2008
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the growing doubts about the accuracy of economic data issued by the US government, oil crisis questions, NYC's new police surveillance plans, 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. Key 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.
Economist challenges government data
May 25, 2008, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Oakland economist John Williams doesn't seem like the kind of guy to pick fights with the government. He's slow moving and soft spoken, conservative in politics and personal habits, a pale and portly 59-year-old who favors Oxford shirts, Rep ties and sensible shoes. Williams is the sort who pays his taxes on time, waits when the signal says "Don't Walk" and snaps to attention when the national anthem is played. But don't be fooled. The New Jersey native is leading a one-man crusade to expose official economic data as grossly misleading at best and, at worst, a pack of lies. His Shadow Government Statistics Web site (shadowstats.com) has become a magnet for those convinced that official data put a happy-talk gloss on the nation's economy. The growing popularity of the site ... is testimony to the deep suspicion many Americans harbor about government information as the economy falls into a swoon. By Williams' estimation, the government's calculation that unemployment was 5 percent in April and that inflation was 4 percent and economic growth 2 percent over the last year, is fantasy. It might even be disinformation. By his reckoning, the economy shrank 2.5 percent in the year that ended in March, unemployment is really 13 percent and year-over-year inflation is 7.5 percent. Government economic data are "out of touch with common experience. That's why people used to believe the numbers but no longer do," Williams said during an interview.
Note: For lots more on government corruption from major media sources, click here.
Don't blame us for prices - oil execs
May 21, 2008, CNN
Amid increasing public outcry over record-shattering oil and gas prices, senators ... hauled industry executives in to testify about the recent runup. The Senate Judiciary Committee ... grilled executives from Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips Co., Shell Oil Co., Chevron and BP as to how their companies can in good conscience make so much money, while American drivers pay so much at the pump. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. [asked] "Does it trouble any one of you - the costs you're imposing on families, on small businesses, on truckers?" The hearing marked the second time in as many months that top oil industry officials have been called before Congress. The hearing was ostensibly called to ask the executives why they needed some $18 billion in federal subsidies in light of their record profits, but quickly became a Q&A on bigger questions in the energy business. Lawmakers criticized the firms for not investing enough in finding new oil and developing renewable resources and told them, in thinly disguised terms, that they'd be forced to enact extra profit taxes if Big Oil continued to post such large earnings. Although lawmakers don't vote on energy issues strictly along party lines, Democrats generally want to increase taxes on Big Oil and use the money to fund renewable energy research. Republicans generally favor opening up the Alaska Wildlife Refuge, large parts of the Rocky Mountains, and areas off the east and west coast that have been closed to drilling since the 1970s following a public backlash after several big oil spills.
Oil: A global crisis
May 25, 2008, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
The invasion of Iraq by Britain and the US has trebled the price of oil, according to a leading expert, costing the world a staggering $6 trillion in higher energy prices alone. The oil economist Dr Mamdouh Salameh, who advises both the World Bank and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), [said] that the price of oil would now be no more than $40 a barrel, less than a third of the record $135 a barrel reached last week, if it had not been for the Iraq war. He spoke after oil prices set a new record on 13 consecutive days over the past two weeks. They have now multiplied sixfold since 2002. Goldman Sachs predicted last week that the price could rise to an unprecedented $200 a barrel over the next year. Dr Salameh, director of the UK-based Oil Market Consultancy Service, and an authority on Iraq's oil, said it is the only one of the world's biggest producing countries with enough reserves substantially to increase its flow. Production in eight of the others – the US, Canada, Iran, Indonesia, Russia, Britain, Norway and Mexico – has peaked, he says, while China and Saudia Arabia, the remaining two, are nearing the point at of decline. Before the war, Saddam Hussein's regime pumped some 3.5 million barrels of oil a day, but this had now fallen to just two million barrels. Dr Salameh [said] that Iraq had offered the United States a deal, three years before the war, that would have opened up 10 new giant oil fields on "generous" terms in return for the lifting of sanctions. "This would certainly have prevented the steep rise of the oil price," he said. "But the US had a different idea. It planned to occupy Iraq and annex its oil."
Unmarked chopper patrols New York City from above
May 24, 2008, CBS News/Associated Press
On a cloudless spring day, the NYPD helicopter soars over the city, its sights set on the Statue of Liberty. A dramatic close-up of Lady Liberty's frozen gaze fills one of three flat-screen computer monitors mounted on a console. Hundreds of sightseers below are oblivious to the fact that a helicopter is peering down on them from a mile and a half away. "They don't even know we're here," said crew chief John Diaz, speaking into a headset over the din of the aircraft's engine. The helicopter's unmarked paint job belies what's inside: an arsenal of sophisticated surveillance and tracking equipment powerful enough to read license plates – or scan pedestrians' faces – from high above the nation's largest metropolis. "It looks like just another helicopter in the sky," said Assistant Police Chief Charles Kammerdener, who oversees the department's aviation unit. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said that no other U.S. law enforcement agency "has anything that comes close" to the surveillance chopper, which was designed by engineers at Bell Helicopter and computer technicians based on NYPD specifications. The $10 million helicopter is just part of the department's efforts to adopt cutting-edge technology for its [surveillance] operations. The NYPD also plans to spend tens of millions of dollars strengthening security in the lower Manhattan business district with a network of closed-circuit television cameras and license-plate readers posted at bridges, tunnels and other entry points. Civil rights advocates are skeptical about the push for more surveillance, arguing it reflects the NYPD's evolution into ad hoc spy agency.
Note: For many important reports on disturbing threats to privacy, click here.
They Rule the World
May 25, 2008, Washington Post
David Rothkopf's Superclass [can be viewed] as a map of how the world really works. Rothkopf, a former managing director of Kissinger Associates and an international trade official in the Clinton Administration, has identified roughly 6,000 individuals who have "the ability to regularly influence the lives of millions of people in multiple countries worldwide" ... with a growing allegiance ... to each other rather than to any particular nation. Rothkopf [cites] the Pareto principle of distribution, or the "80/20 rule," whereby 20 percent of the causes of anything are responsible for 80 percent of the consequences. That means 20 percent of the money-makers make 80 percent of the money and 20 percent of the politicians make 80 percent of the important decisions. That 20 percent belongs to the superclass. Superclass ... is as much about who is not part of the superclass as who is. As I read Rothkopf's chronicles of elite gatherings -- Davos, Bilderberg, the Bohemian Grove (all male), Fathers and Sons (all male) -- I was repeatedly struck by the near absence of women. When Rothkopf summarizes "how to become a member of the superclass," his first rule is "be born a man." Only 6 percent of the superclass is female. Superclass is written in part as a consciousness-raising exercise for members of the superclass themselves. Rothkopf worries that "the world they are making" is deeply unequal and ultimately unstable. But it's likely to take more than exhortation. In the words of former Navy Secretary John Lehman, "Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." Why would the superclass want to give it up?
Note: The website www.theyrule.net allows visitors to trace the connections between individuals who serve on the boards of top corporations, universities, think thanks, foundations and other elite institutions. For lots more on secret societies, click here.
Family seed business takes on Goliath of genetic modification
May 25, 2008, Edmonton Journal (Edmonton's leading newspaper)
Heather Meek leafs through the seed catalogue she wrote on the family computer, on winter nights after the kids went to bed. Selling seeds is more than just an extra source of income on [her] organic farm an hour northwest of Montreal. For Meek and partner Frederic Sauriol, propagating local varieties is part of a David and Goliath struggle by small farmers against big seed companies. At stake, they believe, is no less than control of the world's food supply. Since the dawn of civilization, farmers have saved seeds from the harvest and replanted them the following year. But makers of genetically modified (GM) seeds -- introduced in 1996 -- have been putting a stop to that practice. The 12 million farmers worldwide who will plant GM seeds this year sign contracts agreeing not to save or replant seeds. That means they must buy new seeds every year. Critics charge such contracts confer almost unlimited power over farmers' lives to multinational companies whose priority is profit. They say GM seeds are sowing a humanitarian and ecological disaster. Worldwide, GM crops have grown 67-fold in 12 years, now covering 690.9 million hectares in 23 countries. Alexander Muller, assistant director of [the] Food and Agriculture Organization, warned that loss of agricultural biodiversity threatens the world's ability to survive climate change. "The erosion of biodiversity for food and agriculture severely compromises global food security," [he said]. Muller's words resonate with farmers Meek and Sauriol, whose four daughters help with the painstaking work of cleaning seeds over the winter. "Growing seed is a big job," says Meek. "But if you don't grow your seed, you lose your power."
Note: For a powerful overview of the risks of genetically modified organisms, click here.
Warning: Using a mobile phone while pregnant can seriously damage your baby
May 18, 2008, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Women who use mobile phones when pregnant are more likely to give birth to children with behavioural problems, according to authoritative research. A giant study, which surveyed more than 13,000 children, found that using the handsets just two or three times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions and relationships by the time they reached school age. And it adds that the likelihood is even greater if the children themselves used the phones before the age of seven. The results ... follow warnings against both pregnant women and children using mobiles by the official Russian radiation watchdog body, which believes that the peril they pose "is not much lower than the risk to children's health from tobacco or alcohol". The research – at the universities of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Aarhus, Denmark – is to be published in the July issue of the journal Epidemiology. They found that mothers who did use the handsets were 54 per cent more likely to have children with behavioural problems and that the likelihood increased with the amount of potential exposure to the radiation. And when the children also later used the phones they were, overall, 80 per cent more likely to suffer from difficulties with behaviour. They were 25 per cent more at risk from emotional problems, 34 per cent more likely to suffer from difficulties relating to their peers, 35 per cent more likely to be hyperactive, and 49 per cent more prone to problems with conduct.
Note: For a treasure trove of important reports of health issues from reliable sources, click here.
Firms Seek Patents on 'Climate Ready' Altered Crops
May 13, 2008, Washington Post
A handful of the world's largest agricultural biotechnology companies are seeking hundreds of patents on gene-altered crops designed to withstand drought and other environmental stresses, part of a race for dominance in the potentially lucrative market for crops that can handle global warming. Three companies -- BASF of Germany, Syngenta of Switzerland and Monsanto of St. Louis -- have filed applications to control nearly two-thirds of the climate-related gene families submitted to patent offices worldwide, according to the report by the Ottawa-based ETC Group, an activist organization that advocates for subsistence farmers. Many of the world's poorest countries, destined to be hit hardest by climate change, have rejected biotech crops, citing environmental and economic concerns. Importantly, gene patents generally preclude the age-old practice of saving seeds from a harvest for replanting, requiring instead that farmers purchase the high-tech seeds each year. The ETC report concludes that biotech giants are hoping to leverage climate change as a way to get into resistant markets, and it warns that the move could undermine public-sector plant-breeding institutions such as those coordinated by the United Nations and the World Bank, which have long made their improved varieties freely available. "When a market is dominated by a handful of large multinational companies, the research agenda gets biased toward proprietary products," said Hope Shand, ETC's research director. "Monopoly control of plant genes is a bad idea under any circumstance. During a global food crisis, it is unacceptable and has to be challenged."
Note: For many disturbing reports on risks from genetic engineering from major media sources, click here.
Bush administration rules limit lawsuits
May 13, 2008, Boston Globe/Associated Press
Faced with an unfriendly Congress, the Bush administration has found another, quieter way to make it more difficult for consumers to sue businesses over faulty products. It's rewriting the bureaucratic rulebook. Lawsuit limits have been included in 51 rules proposed or adopted since 2005 by agency bureaucrats governing just about everything Americans use: drugs, cars, railroads, medical devices and food. Decried by consumer advocates and embraced by industry, the agencies' use of the government's rule-making authority represents the administration's final act in a long-standing drive to shield companies from lawsuits. Of the 51 regulations, 41 came from the Food and Drug Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA. Underlying this bureaucratic version of lawsuit reform is the concept of federal preemption. Rooted in the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, federal preemption refers to circumstances in which federal law and regulation trump state law, in this instance state laws that govern when one person may be held liable for another's injury. An expansive interpretation of preemption leaves little room for consumers to sue, and that is what the national trial lawyers group, the American Association for Justice, says is taking place. Jon Haber, AAJ's chief executive officer, says the agencies are engaging in "a brazen end run around Congress, the Constitution and the states in an effort to let negligent corporations off the hook and knowingly put consumers at risk."
Note: For lots more on government corruption from major media sources, click here.
Spreading the Word on the Street
May 24, 2008, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisico's leading newspaper)
Ten-thirty p.m. in East Oakland. Sirens and gunshots ... punctuate the air. Dozens of homeless people are gathered beneath a street lamp - some in wheelchairs, some drunk, some ranting furiously to themselves. Then the Preacherman appears. Everything stops. And then, for the next half hour, there is church in the street ... where the homeless and even many criminals don't usually hang out this late at night. The Preacherman is Vincent Pannizzo, but most who come to his sermons don't know his name. Or that he was working on a doctorate at UC Berkeley when he dropped out nine years ago to begin preaching. Or that he comes from middle-class comfort in New Jersey, did a three-year hitch in the Army and once dreamed of being a history professor. To his street flock, Pannizzo is simply "the Preacherman," who shows up seven nights a week, rain or not, to gently sermonize and hand out sandwiches, blankets and the few dollars he makes through day labor. "I'm not nuts," Pannizzo said with a chuckle ... standing in the unusually tidy camp he keeps with a half-dozen other homeless people. "I'm basically just a regular guy. But at one point I began really reading the Scriptures, and they really blew me away. God gave me faith. This is what I must do." His transformation began when, as a history Ph.D. candidate, he began reading the Bible in one of its ancient Aramaic-language versions. Pannizzo said he didn't start sleeping outside until four years ago, when he decided the best way to reach his audience was to live like it. So he sold his collection of 300 scholarly books, turned in his apartment key and hit the street.
Key Articles From Years Past
Dr. John E. Mack, Psychiatrist, Dies at 74
September 30, 2004, New York Times
Dr. John E. Mack, a Pulitzer Prize winner and Harvard psychiatrist who studied people who said they had encounters with alien beings, died in London on Monday. Dr. Mack was struck by a driver suspected of being drunk and evidently died on impact, according to the John E. Mack Institute, formerly the Center for Psychology and Social Change. He was drawn to psychoanalytic analysis of the misunderstood or vulnerable, including children contemplating suicide, teenagers troubled by the threat of nuclear war and finally, people plagued by what they believed to be recurrent alien encounters. In the 1990s, Dr. Mack studied dozens of people who said they had had such contact with aliens, culminating in his book Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens in 1994. In it, he focused less on whether aliens were real than on the spiritual effects of perceived encounters, arguing that "the abduction phenomenon has important philosophical, spiritual and social implications" for everyone. The book led Harvard Medical School, where Dr. Mack had been a tenured professor for several years, to appoint a committee to review his research methods and consider censuring him. After 14 months of investigation, it released a statement saying that it "reaffirmed Dr. Mack's academic freedom to study what he wishes and to state his opinion without impediment." His work was the subject of the 2003 documentary film "Touched," made by Laurel Chiten. A second book for general readers, Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters, was published in 1999.
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Economic Data Doubts, Clinton Campaign Gaffe, NYC Police Surveillance