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Habeas Corpus Defended, Privatization of Intelligence, E.U. Requires Safe Chemicals
Revealing News Articles
June 18, 2008

Dear friends,

Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision defending the right of habeas corpus for captives in Guantanamo, the increasing privatization of government intelligence operations, a new European Union (E.U.) law to require safe chemicals, 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.

With best wishes,
Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info

Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts
June 13, 2008, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/13/washington/13scotus.html

The Supreme Court ... delivered its third consecutive rebuff to the Bush administration's handling of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, ruling 5 to 4 that the prisoners there have a constitutional right to go to federal court to challenge their continued detention. The court declared unconstitutional a provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that ... stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from the detainees seeking to challenge their designation as enemy combatants. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the truncated review procedure provided by a previous law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, "falls short of being a constitutionally adequate substitute" because it failed to offer "the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus." Justice Kennedy declared: "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times." The decision, which was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen G. Breyer, was categorical in its rejection of the administration's basic arguments. Indeed, the court repudiated the fundamental legal basis for the administration's strategy, adopted in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, of housing prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere at the United States naval base in Cuba, where Justice Department lawyers advised the White House that domestic law would never reach.

Note: For many disturbing reports on threats to civil liberties from major media sources, click here.

Detainees Now Have Access to Federal Court
June 13, 2008, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/12/AR2008061204202.html

Defense attorneys for the 270 detainees at Guantanamo Bay said the Supreme Court decision yesterday that granted detainees habeas corpus rights was a watershed moment that will allow the men, some held for as long as 6 1/2 years, to challenge their detentions before a civilian judge. The court's ruling immediately gives the detainees access to a federal court in Washington, where lawyers will seek to have judges order the men released from indefinite detention. Legal experts said it is unclear how the hearings will proceed, but the government could be compelled to present highly classified evidence, and detainees could for the first time be able to publicly call witnesses, present evidence of abuse and rebut terrorism allegations. The decision could force the U.S. government to show why individual detainees must be held, something U.S. officials have fought for years. As many as 130 detainees have been deemed dangerous but are unlikely to ever face criminal charges, according to prosecutors, and now government officials could have to argue for indefinite detention even if the evidence is flimsy or nonexistent. "We're going to see a high number of people the government is going to have to release," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented Guantanamo Bay detainees since 2002. It is unclear how the Boumediene v. Bush decision will affect military commissions trials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where 20 detainees, including ... Khalid Sheik Mohammed, have been charged with war crimes.

The Business of Intelligence Gathering
June 15, 2008, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/business/15shelf.html

America is ruled by an "intelligence-industrial complex" whose allegiance is not to the taxpaying public but to a cabal of private-sector contractors. That is the central thesis of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing by Tim Shorrock, ... an investigative journalist. His book [provides a] disturbing overview of the intelligence community, also known as "the I.C." Mr. Shorrock says our government is outsourcing 70 percent of its intelligence budget, or more than $42 billion a year, to a "secret army" of corporate vendors. Because of accelerated privatization efforts after 9/11, these companies are participating in covert operations and intelligence-gathering activities that were considered "inherently governmental" functions reserved for agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency, he says. Some of the book's most intriguing assertions concern the permeating influence of the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. In 2006, Mr. Shorrock reports, Booz Allen amassed $3.7 billion in revenue, much of which came from classified government contracts exempt from public oversight. Among its more than 18,000 employees are R. James Woolsey, the former C.I.A. director, and Joan Dempsey, a former longtime United States intelligence official who declared in a 2004 speech, "I like to refer to Booz Allen as the shadow I.C." The "revolving door" between Booz Allen and the I.C. is personified by Mike McConnell, who joined the firm after serving as head of the National Security Agency under President Bill Clinton, only to return as director of national intelligence under President Bush.

Note: For revealing reports on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.

Chemical Law Has Global Impact
June 12, 2008, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/11/AR2008061103569.html

Europe this month rolled out new restrictions on makers of chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems, changes that are forcing U.S. industries to find new ways to produce a wide range of everyday products. The new laws in the European Union require companies to demonstrate that a chemical is safe before it enters commerce -- the opposite of policies in the United States, where regulators must prove that a chemical is harmful before it can be restricted or removed from the market. The changes come at a time when consumers are increasingly worried about the long-term consequences of chemical exposure and are agitating for more aggressive regulation. The European Union's tough stance on chemical regulation is the latest area in which the Europeans are reshaping business practices with demands that American companies either comply or lose access to a market of 27 countries and nearly 500 million people. From its crackdown on antitrust practices in the computer industry to its rigorous protection of consumer privacy, the European Union has adopted a regulatory philosophy that emphasizes the consumer. "There's a strong sense in Europe and the world at large that America is letting the market have a free ride," said Sheila Jasanoff, professor of science and technology studies at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "The Europeans believe . . . that being a good global citizen in an era of sustainability means you don't just charge ahead and destroy the planet without concern for what you're doing."

Note: For lots more on health issues from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.

BBC uncovers lost Iraq billions
June 10, 2008, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7444083.stm

A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq. The BBC's Panorama programme has used US and Iraqi government sources to research how much some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding. A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations. The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies. While President George W Bush remains in the White House, it is unlikely the gagging orders will be lifted. To date, no major US contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanagement in Iraq. Henry Waxman, who chairs the House committee on oversight and government reform, said: "It may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history." In the run-up to the invasion, one of the most senior officials in charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract potentially worth $7bn that was given to Halliburton, a Texan company which used to be run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president. Only Halliburton got to bid. The search for the missing billions also led ... to a house in ... west London where Hazem Shalaan lived until he was appointed to the new Iraqi government as minister of defence in 2004. He and his associates siphoned an estimated $1.2bn out of the ministry. They bought old military equipment from Poland but claimed for top-class weapons. Meanwhile they diverted money into their own accounts. Judge Radhi al-Radhi of Iraq's Commission for Public Integrity investigated. He said: "I believe these people are criminals."

Note: For many other reports on war profiteering, click here.

New Criminal Record: 7.2 Million
June 12, 2008, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/11/AR2008061103458.html

The number of people under supervision in the nation's criminal justice system rose to 7.2 million in 2006, the highest ever, costing states tens of billions of dollars to house and monitor offenders as they go in and out of jails and prisons. According to a recently released report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 2 million offenders were either in jail or prison in 2006, the most recent year studied in an annual survey. Another 4.2 million were on probation, and nearly 800,000 were on parole. The cost to taxpayers, about $45 billion, is causing states such as California to reconsider harsh criminal penalties. In an attempt to relieve overcrowding, California is now exporting some of its 170,000 inmates to privately run corrections facilities as far away as Tennessee. "There are a number of states that have talked about an early release of prisoners deemed non-threatening," said Rebecca Blank, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution. "The problem just keeps getting bigger and bigger. You're paying a lot of money here. You have to ask if some of these high mandatory minimum sentences make sense." The bureau's report comes on the heels of a Pew Center on the States report showing 1 percent of U.S. adults behind bars, a historic high. The United States has the largest number of people behind bars in the world, according to the Pew report. Black men, about one in 15, were most affected, and Hispanics, one in 35, were well represented among offenders. The number of women in prison "rose faster in 2006 than over the previous five years."

FEMA gives away $85 million of supplies for Katrina victims
June 11, 2008, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/US/06/11/fema.giveaway/

FEMA gave away about $85 million in household goods meant for Hurricane Katrina victims, a CNN investigation has found. These items, stored by FEMA, were meant for Katrina victims but were given to state and federal agencies. The material, from basic kitchen goods to sleeping necessities, sat in warehouses for two years before the Federal Emergency Management Agency's giveaway to federal and state agencies this year. James McIntyre, FEMA's acting press secretary, said that FEMA was spending more than $1 million a year to store the material and that another agency wanted the warehouses torn down, so "we needed to vacate them." Photos from one of the facilities in Fort Worth, Texas, show pallet after pallet of cots, cleansers, first-aid kits, coffee makers, camp stoves and other items stacked to the ceiling. And even though the stocks were offered to state agencies after FEMA decided to get rid of them, one of the states that passed was Louisiana. Martha Kegel, the head of a New Orleans nonprofit agency that helps find homes for those still displaced by the storm, said she was shocked to learn about the existence of the goods and the government giveaway. "These are exactly the items that we are desperately seeking donations of right now: basic kitchen household supplies," said Kegel, executive director of Unity of Greater New Orleans. "FEMA, in fact, refers homeless clients to us to house them. How can we house them if we don't have basic supplies?"

Note: For revealing reports on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.

Thousands who earn $200,000+ avoid income tax
June 11, 2008, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2008-06-11-taxes_N.htm

New IRS statistics show 7,389 federal tax returns with $200,000 or more in adjusted gross income reported no federal income taxes in 2005. That's a 161% jump from the 2,833 comparable returns filed in 2004. Additionally, 4,224 of the over-$200,000 earners reported no worldwide income tax liability on their 2005 returns. That represents a 75% increase from the 2,420 comparable returns filed in 2004. The data ... show a rising number of high-income earners have avoided the alternative minimum tax, which was intended to ensure that tax shelters, deductions and loopholes wouldn't exempt wealthy Americans from paying at least some federal income tax. The increases stem in part from two tax law changes. Responding to Hurricane Katrina, Washington exempted charitable contributions between Aug. 27, 2005, and Jan. 1, 2006, from the overall limit on itemized tax deductions and the 50% of adjusted gross income limit for such giving. [But] the one-time change wasn't limited to hurricane-related contributions. [And] under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, Washington also allowed taxpayers to eliminate up to 100% of their alternative minimum tax liability by using credits for any foreign taxes paid. In 2004, IRS data show [high-income earners] reported $16.6 million in foreign tax credits. The following year, the total credits claimed soared to $447.3 million. "My sense of it is that the people who introduce these provisions know exactly who is going to benefit," [said Howard Gleckman, a senior research associate and tax blog editor at The Tax Policy Center].

Note: For revealing reports on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.

Scientists find bugs that eat waste and excrete petrol
June 14, 2008, London Times
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article4133668.ece

"Ten years ago I could never have imagined I'd be doing this," says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive. "I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But ... this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into." He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil. Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls "renewable petroleum". After that, he grins, "it's a brave new world". Mr Pal is a senior director of LS9, one of several companies in or near Silicon Valley that have ... embarked ... on an extraordinary race to make $140-a-barrel oil (70) from Saudi Arabia obsolete. "All of us here – everyone in this company and in this industry, are aware of the urgency," Mr Pal says. What is most remarkable about what they are doing is that instead of trying to reengineer the global economy – as is required, for example, for the use of hydrogen fuel – they are trying to make a product that is interchangeable with oil. The company claims that this "Oil 2.0" will not only be renewable but also carbon negative – meaning that the carbon it emits will be less than that sucked from the atmosphere by the raw materials from which it is made.

Note: For a treasure trove of exciting reports on new energy inventions, click here.

Petrol pricey? Japanese invent car that runs on water
June 13, 2008, Reuters
http://in.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idINSP7366720080613

Tired of petrol prices rising daily at the pump? A Japanese company has invented an electric-powered, and environmentally friendly, car that it says runs solely on water. Genepax unveiled the car in the western city of Osaka, saying that a liter (2.1 pints) of any kind of water -- rain, river or sea -- was all you needed to get the engine going for about an hour at a speed of 80 km (50 miles). "The car will continue to run as long as you have a bottle of water to top up from time to time," Genepax CEO Kiyoshi Hirasawa told local broadcaster TV Tokyo. "It does not require you to build up an infrastructure to recharge your batteries, which is usually the case for most electric cars," he added. Once the water is poured into the tank at the back of the car, the a generator breaks it down and uses it to create electrical power, TV Tokyo said. Whether the car makes it into showrooms remains to be seen. Genepax said it had just applied for a patent and is hoping to collaborate with Japanese auto manufacturers in the future. Most big automakers, meanwhile, are working on fuel-cell cars that run on hydrogen and emit -- not consume -- water.

Note: To watch a Reuters video clip on this amazing car, click here.

Officer calls Sept. 11 cases tainted
June 5, 2008, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-tribunal5-2008jun05,0,7976145,full.story

When Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his alleged collaborators in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks appear before the war crimes tribunal here today, ousted chief prosecutor Col. Morris D. Davis will not be celebrating. Davis, who has spent half of his life in the military justice system, still considers it "the most ethical process in the world." But the Pentagon's push to prosecute the so-called 9/11 Five is tainted, in his view, by political intrusions, illegal influence applied by more-senior officers and reliance on evidence obtained through coercion or torture. Davis drew the wrath of many in the Pentagon hierarchy when he objected last fall to pressures from Bush administration political appointees to prosecute Mohammed, known in intelligence circles as KSM, ahead of other war crimes suspects whose cases were already researched and on whom vital evidence was declassified. Unless the evidence prosecutors have against Mohammed and his codefendants is declassified, much of their prosecution will be conducted behind closed doors, depriving the American media and public of a clear view of the proceedings, he says. Davis ran afoul of superiors ... when he advised his prosecutors against relying on evidence obtained through waterboarding and other interrogation techniques that have been deemed coercive or tantamount to torture. Davis resigned after political appointees at the Pentagon rejected his judgment on the choice of cases to be tried in the months leading up to this November's election, as well as his advice against building prosecutions on coerced and potentially unreliable confessions.

'Silver' mercury fillings may harm pregnant women
June 5, 2008, Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/health/chi-julie-silver-link,0,6352807.storylink

Amalgam or 'silver' dental fillings contain mercury which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high levels of mercury bioburden, should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner," the agency said in the udpated "Question and Answer" fact sheet about dental amalgams. The FDA will issue a more specific rule next year for fillings that contain mercury, FDA spokeswoman Peper Long [said]. Dental amalgam, which is made up of liquid mercury and a powder containing silver, tin, copper, zinc and other metals, has long been used to fill or restore teeth that have cavities. The mercury concentration in dental amalgams is generally about 50 percent by weight, while the silver concentration ranges from 20 to 35 percent, according to the FDA.

Note: For another excellent ABC News article on this topic, click here. For lots more on health issues from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.


Special note:
For a new analysis by WantToKnow Team member David Ray Griffin of the very important interview of Dick Cheney which the late Tim Russert conducted on December 16, 2001, just five days after the 9/11 attacks, click here. For a highly revealing story from a top Pentagon insider which the major media have so far not covered, click here. And for a powerfully inspiring six-minute video clip on the highly unexpected results of a softball championship game, click here.

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Habeas Corpus Defended, Privatization of Intelligence, E.U. Requires Safe Chemicals