Secret Torture Report, Climate Cover-Up,
US Treasury Blocks Lawyers' Pay
Revealing News Articles
July 17, 2008
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on a secret report on CIA torture worldwide issued by the Red Cross, the cover-up by the Bush administration of key climate change findings at the EPA, an effort by the US Treasury Department to block payment to lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees, 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.
Book Cites Secret Red Cross Report of C.I.A. Torture of Qaeda Captives
July 11, 2008, New York Times
Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes, according to a new book on counterterrorism efforts since 2001. The book says that the International Committee of the Red Cross declared in the report, given to the C.I.A. last year, that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qaeda figure the United States captured, were "categorically" torture, which is illegal under both American and international law. The book says Abu Zubaydah was confined in a box "so small ... he had to double up his limbs in the fetal position" and was one of several prisoners to be "slammed against the walls," according to the Red Cross report. The C.I.A. has admitted that Abu Zubaydah and two other prisoners were waterboarded, a practice in which water is poured in the nose and mouth to [cause near] suffocation and drowning. The book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, by Jane Mayer ... offers new details of the agency's secret detention program, as well as the bitter debates in the administration over interrogation methods. Citing unnamed "sources familiar with the report," Ms. Mayer wrote that the Red Cross document "warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted."
Note: For lots more on war and war crimes, click here.
ACLU: U.S. Treasury stymies war court defense attorneys
July 8, 2008, Miami Herald
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has pledged to cover costs of civilian lawyers defending alleged terrorists, is in a struggle with the U.S. Treasury Department over a permit to pay $250-an-hour fees and other expenses to attorneys who have been shuttling to [the] U.S. Navy base [at Guantanamo]. The Treasury division, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, is the same unit that polices American citizens' travel to Cuba. Its authority to license defense costs at the war courts here, called military commissions, comes from anti-terror legislation. ACLU director Anthony Romero accused the Bush administration of foot-dragging, noting civilian defense lawyers were slow to receive security clearances to meet accused terrorists held for years without access to attorneys. "Now the government is stonewalling again by not allowing Americans' private dollars to be paid to American lawyers to defend civil liberties," he said. He called the slow licensing an "obstruction of justice" at a time when "the Bush administration insists on moving ahead with the prosecutions." The program is called the John Adams Project, sponsored by the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Under it, attorneys will be paid for travel, expenses, research and copying as well as $250 an hour to defend men ... now facing death penalty prosecutions at the war court. Top criminal defense lawyers typically charge at least $550 an hour.
Note: For important reports on threats to civil liberties from major media sources, click here.
White House in climate change "cover up"
July 8, 2008, Forbes/Reuters News
A leading U.S. Senate Democrat accused the Bush administration on Tuesday of a "cover-up" aimed at stopping the Environmental Protection Agency from tackling greenhouse emissions. "This cover-up is being directed from the White House and the office of the vice president," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. At issue is a preliminary finding by the EPA last December that "greenhouse gases may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public welfare," according to Jason Burnett, the agency's former associate deputy administrator who appeared at a news conference with Boxer. Such a finding would be an early step toward government regulation aimed at protecting public health. Boxer said that unless EPA documents were released, it was likely that within the next two weeks her committee would try to subpoena the material. Burnett, who resigned on June 9, told Boxer's committee the White House tried pressuring him to retract an e-mail [in] which he detailed the finding. Burnett said he refused. Since then, the EPA finding has been left "in limbo." [Boxer] has been trying since last October to obtain related documents to show that planned congressional testimony on global warming by Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was censored by the Bush administration. Burnett told the congressional committee the administration's Council on Environmental Quality "and the office of the vice president were seeking deletions to the CDC testimony."
Note: For key news reports on global warming from reliable sources, click here.
Psychiatric Group Faces Scrutiny Over Drug Industry Ties
July 12, 2008, New York Times
It seemed an ideal marriage, a scientific partnership that would attack mental illness from all sides. Psychiatrists would bring ... their expertise and clinical experience, drug makers would provide their products and the money to run rigorous studies, and patients would get better medications, faster. But now the profession itself is under attack in Congress, accused of allowing this relationship to become too cozy. After a series of stinging investigations of individual doctors' arrangements with drug makers, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is demanding that the American Psychiatric Association, the field's premier professional organization, give an accounting of its financing. "I have come to understand that money from the pharmaceutical industry can shape the practices of nonprofit organizations that purport to be independent in their viewpoints and actions," Mr. Grassley said. In 2006 ... the drug industry accounted for about 30 percent of the association's $62.5 million in financing. One of the doctors named by Mr. Grassley is the association's president-elect, Dr. Alan F. Schatzberg of Stanford, whose $4.8 million stock holdings in a drug development company raised the senator's concern. Commercial arrangements are rampant throughout medicine. In the past two decades, drug and device makers have paid tens of thousands of doctors and researchers of all specialties. Worried that this money could taint doctors' research plans or clinical judgment, government agencies, medical journals and universities have been forced to look more closely at deal details.
Note: For many powerful reports of corporate corruption, click here.
Waiting for the internet meltdown
July 6, 2008, The Sunday Times (London)
The end of the internet is nigh - and in less than three years, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The problem is that the world is running out of internet addresses. More than 85% of the available addresses have already been allocated and the OECD predicts we will have run out completely by early 2011. These aren't the normal web addresses you type into your browser's window, and which were recently freed up by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Beneath these commonsense names lie numerical internet protocol (IP) addresses that denote individual devices connected to the internet. These form the foundation for all online communications, from e-mail and web pages to voice chat and streaming video. When the current IP address scheme was introduced in 1981 there were fewer than 500 computers connected to the internet. Its founders could be forgiven for thinking that allowing for a potential 4 billion would last for ever. However, less than 30 years later we're rapidly running out. Every day thousands of new devices ranging from massive web servers down to individual mobile phones go online and gobble up more combinations and permutations. "Shortages are already acute in some regions," says the OECD. "The situation is critical for the future of the internet economy." As addresses run dry we will all feel the pinch: internet speeds will drop and new connections and services (such as internet phone calling) will either be expensive or simply impossible to obtain.
'Myth' Behind American Troop Presence
July 8, 2008, ABC News
Myths die hard, and one of the most corrosive ones today is the mistaken idea that Iraqis want us in Iraq. They do not. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has shocked official Washington by publicly saying he wants to negotiate a withdrawal date for U.S. forces and if not an exact date, a timetable for their withdrawal. Who does he think he is, Barack Obama? Yes, yes, Maliki may be a politician with his finger in the wind as he is trying to fend off his young firebrand Shiite rival, Muqtada al-Sadr, who wants the U.S. out yesterday, but clearly the Iraqi "wind" is blowing Sadr's way. Depending on how the question is asked, it appears that at least 70 percent of Iraqis want Americans to leave either immediately or expeditiously. Here at home, about 60 percent of Americans want U.S. forces to be withdrawn within the next year.
Note: If the Iraqi people and leadership want the U.S. out, why are we still there? For a good answer, click here.
Cancer cure trials move from mice to men
June 29, 2008, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers
In a major breakthrough in the search for a cure for cancer, the first human trials are to begin using a technique that has already been shown to destroy the disease in mice. The trials are the culmination of years of research prompted by the discovery of a cancer-proof mouse by researchers almost a decade ago. More than 20 cancer patients will be given white blood cells with cancer-killing properties in an attempt to boost their immune system's fight against the deadly illness. The work stems from experiments into the metabolism of a humble laboratory mouse whose immunity to cancer defied the repeated attempts of scientists to kill it with high-level doses of cancer cells. White blood cells taken from the animal and its offspring were subsequently used to cure other mice of advanced cancers. The white blood cells destroyed the cancer cells but left normal cells alone. This discovery encouraged scientists to study how people might be helped to fight off cancer by being given a boost of white blood cells called granulocytes. Laboratory tests have since shown how human granulocytes can destroy cervical, prostate and breast cancer cells, provided sufficient numbers of cancer-killing granulocytes from healthy donors are used. Scientists are now confident that the treatment will prove just as successful in humans as it has been in mice. Hundreds of donors will be recruited for the new treatment – which is called leukocyte infusion therapy – and a process similar to platelet donation will be used to collect the granulocytes.
Note: Why is this important news getting so little coverage? For more cancer breakthroughs, click here.
Taser Suffers a Rare Loss in Court
June 10, 2008, New York Times blog
Despite a steady stream of negative news coverage, Taser International's business has sailed above it all, rolling with the punches before coming out on top of a growing industry. Perhaps most importantly, the company has been remarkably successful inside the courtroom. With 69 straight trial victories, according to one count, Taser had assembled a nearly unmatchable record – 3 more wins than this year's much-vaunted Boston Celtics, with none of the embarrassing losses. None until [Friday, June 4], that is, when an unfavorable verdict represented the first chink in the taser-proof body armor. From The Herald of Monterey County, Calif., the local paper on the case: A federal jury has held Taser International responsible for the death of a Salinas man in U.S. District Court in San Jose ... and awarded his family more than $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages. An attorney for the family called the verdict a "landmark decision," and indicated that it was the first time Taser International had been held responsible for a death or injury linked to its product. During trading on Monday, the company's stock dropped almost 12 percent. "Investors will assume heightened operating risk in the Taser model in the short-term," one analyst told Barron's. Bloomberg News reported last month that more than half of Taser's top 10 shareholders sold some of their shares this year.
Note: Do a search in Google News and you will find that no major media outlets reported that Taser International had 69 straight victories with no losses in the courts till now. Even the above was in a NY Times blog and not in the paper. How interesting that they don't seem to want us to know this.
Judge orders stun gun references removed from autopsies
May 3, 2008, Associated Press
A medical examiner must change her autopsy findings to delete any reference that stun guns contributed to the deaths of three people involved in confrontations with law enforcement officers, a judge ruled. [The] decision was a victory for Taser International Inc., which had challenged rulings by Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler, including a case in which five sheriff's deputies are charged in the death a jail inmate who was restrained by the wrists and ankles and hit with pepper spray and a stun gun. Kohler ruled that the 2006 death of Mark McCullaugh Jr., 28, was a homicide and that he died from asphyxiation due to the "combined effects of chemical, mechanical and electrical restraint." Visiting Judge Ted Schneiderman said in his ruling that there was no expert evidence to indicate that Taser devices impaired McCullaugh's respiration. "More likely, the death was due to a fatal cardiac arrhythmia brought on by severe heart disease," the judge wrote. Schneiderman ordered Kohler to rule McCullaugh's death undetermined and to delete any references to homicide. The judge also said references to stun guns contributing to the deaths of two other men must be deleted from autopsy findings. Steve Tuttle, vice president of communications for Taser International, said the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company is pleased with Schneiderman's ruling. John Manley, a Summit County prosecutor who represented Kohler, said the judge's order went too far. The county is considering an appeal, he said. "Taser is quite a force to be reckoned with and does everything to protect their golden egg, which is the Model X26," Manley said.
Note: This AP article was not picked up by any major or even local media other than this Phoenix, AZ talk radio station. Considering the lack of reporting on Taser International's stunning 69 victories before its first loss in the courts, do you think there might be some bias in the news coverage?
Embracing Alternative Care
January 9, 2008, U.S. News & World Report
"To be blunt, if my wife and I didn't think it was helping him, we wouldn't have continued with it," says Dan Polley. He's talking about Mikey, the Polleys' 2½-year-old in the next room, who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when he was 6 months old. Chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant have been crucial elements of Mikey's treatment. But the "it" his father speaks of is nothing like these aggressive, costly, and heavily researched exemplars of western care -– it is a kind of touch therapy. Gentle and benign, "healing touch" is intended to rebalance the energy field that its practitioners believe surrounds the body and flows through it along defined pathways, affecting health when disrupted. Several times a week, therapist Lynne Morrison spends 20 minutes unblocking and smoothing Mikey's energy field, which energy healers like Morrison say they can feel and correct. The setting for the unorthodox therapy ... would have been startling just five or 10 years ago. Morrison is on the staff of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, a ... research-oriented emblem of western medicine. It perennially ranks among America's premier hospitals. And Mikey is only one of many children there receiving care that not long ago was called alternative medicine. Now it is more often called CAM, for complementary and alternative medicine, or integrative medicine, to avoid the loaded "alternative." The message the new labels are meant to convey is that the therapies more often go hand in hand with traditional medicine than substitute for it.
Note: For lots of exciting reports on new health research, click here.
Video star can't stop dancing
June 29, 2008, Chicago Tribune
The new Web video from Matt Harding, accidental professional dancer, is up, and it is spectacular, a cry of life and brotherhood and joy. As Harding toured the world ... filming the third installment in his "Where the Hell Is Matt?" video series, you might have thought that the trick would have played itself out. An ordinary guy doing a kind of running-in-place dance at 69 earthly locales with an ethereal song as soundtrack shouldn't be endlessly endearing and deeply inspiring. But this music-video-length wonder works in surprising ways, especially amid the predominantly crass environment of YouTube. Part of the charm of the video (also at Harding's own wherethehellismatt.com) is his new twist for it. At each stop on his latest set of travels, Harding invited locals to come dance with him. In Chicago, that meant more than 100 people bobbed up and down in front of The Bean sculpture. In Poria, Papua New Guinea, it was a handful of people in full tribal garb accompanying Harding. The collection of disparate peoples doing essentially the same pointless yet joyful thing is a reminder of what's universal in humankind. The teasing glimpse of so many gorgeous spots is a goad to renew your own passport and get moving. Part of the charm comes from the unadorned simplicity of Harding himself–he just looks damned happy to be wherever he is–and the delight that is his story. A video game designer disaffected by the industry's trend toward violence, he quit his job in early 2003 and began traveling. At the suggestion of a friend, he used the video function of a point-and-shoot digital camera and taped himself dancing at all his stops.
Key Articles From Years Past
Meditation Research is Coming of Age
November 21, 2005, Boston Globe
Meditation seems to energize the sleep-deprived. It seems to help with concentration. It even seems to bolster the very structure of the brain as we age. Enthusiasts have long touted the health benefits of meditative practices such as chanting, yoga, and prayer. Now, using the latest high-tech tools of neuroscience and biochemistry, they are teasing out how those benefits work. And increasingly, they are focusing on how meditation may help not only the body but the brain. "As time goes on, we're understanding this phenomenon in ever more advanced scientific terms," said Dr. Herbert Benson, president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute and a Harvard Medical School associate professor who has studied the body's "relaxation response" for nearly 40 years. "And why it's so important today is because over 60 percent of visits to the doctor are in the stress-related realm." While some of the most striking studies have involved monks who were experts at meditation, the new research also backs up claims that garden-variety meditation can bring scientifically demonstrable benefits. Serious research on meditation now includes hundreds of studies examining its possible ... benefits, from lifting depression to relieving pain to fighting flu. Benefits can come from a spectrum of repetitive, mind-clearing practices that elicit the so-called relaxation response -- from swaying in prayer to saying the rosary to knitting.
Note: At the end of this article is a simple how-to guide for meditation that may be useful for those who have little to no experience. For lots of exciting reports on new health research, click here.
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Secret Torture Report, Climate Cover-Up, US Treasury Blocks Lawyers' Pay