EPA Silences Staff, War Censorship,
Cell Phone Risks
Revealing News Articles
July 31, 2008
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the efforts by top-level management at the EPA to silence agency staff, censorship by the Pentagon of graphic reporting of US casualties in the Iraq war, a new warning of risks from cell phone use, 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.
EPA silences employees
July 29, 2008, Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
The Environmental Protection Agency is telling its pollution enforcement officials not to talk with congressional investigators, reporters and even the agency's own inspector general, according to an internal e-mail provided to The Associated Press. The June 16 message instructs 11 managers in the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, the branch of the agency charged with making sure environmental laws are followed, to remind their staff members to keep quiet. "If you are contacted directly by the IG's office or GAO requesting information of any kind . . . please do not respond to questions or make any statements," reads the e-mail sent by Robbi Farrell, the division's chief of staff. Instead, staff members should forward inquiries to a designated EPA representative, the memo says. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility obtained the e-mail and provided it to the AP. The group is a nonprofit alliance of local, state and federal professionals. Jeff Ruch, its executive director, said ... the e-mail reinforces a "bunker mentality" within EPA under the Bush administration. "The clear intention behind this move is to chill the cubicles by suppressing any uncontrolled information." The Office of Inspector General said it did not approve of the language in the e-mail. "All EPA officials and employees are required to cooperate with OIG," the statement said. "This cooperation includes providing the OIG full and unrestricted access to EPA documents, records, and personnel."
Note: For many revealing reports on government secrecy from major media sources, click here.
4,000 U.S. Deaths, and a Handful of Images
July 26, 2008, New York Times
The case of a freelance photographer in Iraq who was barred from covering the Marines after he posted photos on the Internet of several of them dead has underscored what some journalists say is a growing effort by the American military to control graphic images from the war. Zoriah Miller, the photographer who took images of marines killed in a June 26 suicide attack and posted them on his Web site, was subsequently forbidden to work in Marine Corps-controlled areas of the country. After five years and more than 4,000 American combat deaths, searches and interviews turned up fewer than a half-dozen graphic photographs of dead American soldiers. Opponents of the war, civil liberties advocates and journalists argue that the public portrayal of the war is being sanitized and that Americans who choose to do so have the right to see – in whatever medium – the human cost of a war that polls consistently show is unpopular with Americans. Journalists say it is now harder ... to accompany troops in Iraq on combat missions. And while publishing photos of American dead is not barred under the "embed" rules in which journalists travel with military units, the Miller case underscores what is apparently one reality of the Iraq war: that doing so, even under the rules, can result in expulsion from covering the war with the military. "It is absolutely censorship," Mr. Miller said. "I took pictures of something they didn't like, and they removed me. Deciding what I can and cannot document, I don't see a clearer definition of censorship."
Note: For more coverage of war censorship and the realities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, click here.
Pentagon Auditors Pressured To Favor Contractors, GAO Says
July 24, 2008, Washington Post
Auditors at a Pentagon oversight agency were pressured by supervisors to skew their reports on major defense contractors to make them look more favorable instead of exposing wrongdoing and charges of overbilling, according to an 80-page report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office. The Defense Contract Audit Agency, which oversees contractors for the Defense Department, "improperly influenced the audit scope, conclusions and opinions" of reviews of contractor performance, the GAO said, creating a "serious independence issue." The report does not name the projects or the contractors involved, but staff members on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who were briefed on the findings cited seven contractors, some of whom are among the biggest in the defense industry: Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Fluor, Parker Hannifin, Sparta, SRS Technologies and a subsidiary of L3 Communications. Supervisors at DCAA attempted to intimidate auditors, prevented them from speaking with GAO investigators and created a "generally abusive work environment," the report said. It cited incidents of "verbal admonishments, reassignments and threats of disciplinary action" against workers who "raised questions about management guidance." The GAO said it launched the two-year inquiry after complaints on a fraud hotline. Its investigators conducted more than 100 interviews of 50 people involved in audits between 2003 and 2007.
Note: For eye-opening reports on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.
Randy Pausch, 'Last Lecture' Professor Dies
July 25, 2008, ABC News
Randy Pausch, the charismatic young college professor who chronicled his battle with pancreatic cancer in a remarkable speech widely-known as the "Last Lecture," has died at the age of 47. Pausch's lecture and subsequent interview was one of the most powerful accounts of hope, grace and optimistism ABC News has ever featured, and drew a worldwide response. "I'd like to thank the millions of people who have offered their love, prayers and support," [his wife] Jai Pausch said in a statement. "Randy was so happy and proud that the lecture and book inspired parents to revisit their priorities, particularly their relationships with their children. The outpouring of cards and emails really sustained him." It all began with one, age-old question: What would you say if you knew you were going to die and had a chance to sum up everything that was most important to you? That question had been posed to the annual speaker of a lecture series at Carnegie Mellon University, where Pausch was a computer sciences professor. For Pausch, though, the question wasn't hypothetical. Pausch, a father of three small children with his wife Jai, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer -- and given six months to live. Friends and colleagues flew in from all around the country to attend his last lecture. And -- almost as an afterthought -- the lecture was videotaped and put on the Internet for the few people who couldn't get there that day. The lecture was so uplifting, so funny, so inspirational that it went viral. So far, 10 million people have downloaded it. And thousands have written in to say that his lecture changed their lives.
Pittsburgh Cancer Center Warns of Cell Phone Risks
July 23, 2008, ABC News/Associated Press
The head of a prominent cancer research institute issued an unprecedented warning to his faculty and staff: Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer. The warning [came] from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Herberman is basing his alarm on early unpublished data. He says it takes too long to get answers from science and he believes people should take action now – especially when it comes to children. "Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later," Herberman said. [His] advice is sure to raise concern among many cell phone users and especially parents. In the memo he sent to about 3,000 faculty and staff, he says children should use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing. Adults should keep the phone away from the head and use the speakerphone or a wireless headset, he says. He even warns against using cell phones in public places like a bus because it exposes others to the phone's electromagnetic fields. Herberman cites a "growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer." "Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use," he wrote in his memo.
Note: For many important reports on health issues, click here.
Richest Americans See Their Income Share Grow
July 23, 2008, Wall Street Journal
In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1 percent of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation's adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data. Meanwhile, the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1 percent fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years. The figures are from the IRS's income-statistics division and were posted on the agency's Web site last week. The 2006 data are the most recent available. According to the figures, the richest 1 percent reported 22 percent of the nation's total adjusted gross income in 2006. That is up from 21.2 percent a year earlier, and is the highest in the 19 years that the IRS has kept strictly comparable figures. The 1988 level was 15.2 percent. Earlier IRS data show the last year the share of income belonging to the top 1 percent was at such a high level as it was in 2006 was in 1929, but changes in measuring income make a precise comparison difficult. The average tax rate in 2006 for the top 1 percent, based on adjusted gross income, was 22.8 percent, ... the fifth straight year of declines. The average tax rate of this group was 28.9 percent in 1996.
Note: For more on accelerating income inequality from reliable sources, click here.
Madness and Shame
July 22, 2008, New York Times
In her important new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker devotes a great deal of space to David Addington, ... the lead architect of the Bush administration's legal strategy for the so-called war on terror. In the view of Mr. Addington and his acolytes, anything and everything that the president authorized in the fight against terror – regardless of what the Constitution or Congress or the Geneva Conventions might say – was all right. That included torture, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, the suspension of habeas corpus, you name it. Ms. Mayer wrote: "The legal doctrine that Addington espoused – that the president, as commander in chief, had the authority to disregard virtually all previously known legal boundaries – rested on a reading of the Constitution that few legal scholars shared." Ms. Mayer mentioned a study conducted by attorneys and law students at the Seton Hall University Law School. "After reviewing 517 of the Guantanamo detainees' cases in depth," she said, "they concluded that only 8 percent were alleged to have associated with Al Qaeda. Fifty-five percent were not alleged to have engaged in any hostile act against the United States at all, and the remainder were charged with dubious wrongdoing, including having tried to flee U.S. bombs. The overwhelming majority – all but 5 percent – had been captured by non-U.S. players, many of whom were bounty hunters." The Dark Side is essential reading for those who think they can stand the truth.
Note: For lots more on the realities behind the "war on terror", click here.
A History of Abuse in the War on Terror
July 22, 2008, New York Times
The Dark Side, Jane Mayer's gripping new account of the war on terror, is really the story of two wars: the far-flung battle against Islamic radicalism, and the bitter, closed-doors domestic struggle over whether the president should have limitless power to wage it. The war on terror, according to Ms. Mayer, ... was a "political battle cloaked in legal strategy, an ideological trench war" waged by a small group of true believers whose expansive views of executive power she traces from the Nixon administration through the Iran-contra scandal to the panicked days after 9/11. Ms. Mayer's prime movers and main villains are Vice President Dick Cheney and his legal counsel (now chief of staff) David Addington, who after the terrorist attacks moved to establish "a policy of deliberate cruelty that would've been unthinkable on Sept. 10." As the leader of the self-styled "war council," a group of lawyers who took the lead in making the rules for the war on terror, Mr. Addington startled many colleagues with the depth of his fervor and the reach of his power. The war council settled on a "pre-emptive criminal model," in which suspects would be used – more or less indefinitely – to gather evidence of future crimes rather than held accountable for previous ones. There would be minimal oversight from Congress. The C.I.A. would take the lead, developing aggressive new interrogation methods that would be described as "enhanced," "robust," "special." What they were not, a series of secret memos issued by John Yoo and others at the Office of Legal Council would attempt to certify, was "torture."
Note: For lots more on the realities behind the "war on terror", click here.
We're not alone, says former Nasa astronaut
July 26, 2008, The Guardian (one of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
The list of those who subscribe to the theory that alien life forms and UFOs have visited Earth amid a massive government cover-up is long and varied. But a Nasa astronaut who has walked on the moon? The profile of Edgar Mitchell does not conform to that of your common or garden UFO aficionado. He holds two Bachelor of Science degrees and a doctorate in aeronautics from the prestigious and not exactly tree-huggy Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Along with Alan Shepard, he holds the record for the longest moon walk - for nine hours on February 9 1971 as part of the Apollo 14 mission, making him the sixth man to walk on the moon. "There's not much question at all that there is life throughout the universe. I'm totally sure we are not alone." Mitchell said he had intelligence "that we have been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real - though it's been covered up by governments for the last 60 years or so". In a [NASA] statement, the agency said: "Nasa does not track UFOs. Dr Mitchell is a great American, but we do not share his opinion on this issue."
Note: For an engaging Rueters video report on this, click here. For more detailed testimony of Dr. Mitchell on UFOs, click here. For a powerful summary of evidence for UFOs presented by highly credible government and military professionals, click here.
"There are alien bases on earth"
July 10, 2008, BBC News
Timothy Good is considered one of the world's leading experts on the UFO phenomenon. For more than 40 years he has studied the controversial subject, having interviewed thousands of witnesses worldwide, many from military, governmental and scientific backgrounds. Timothy has written numerous best-selling books on UFOs and aliens - which he calls 'the most highly classified subject on earth' - and has acted as a consultant to several US Congress investigations into the phenomenon. An international lecturer, in January 1989 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Timothy became the first UFO researcher from the west to be interviewed on Russian television. With UFO fever sweeping Britain, Timothy Good spoke live to BBC WM on Wednesday 9th July 2008. In highlights, Timothy discussed: * The declassification of thousands of government documents relating to UFO's on May 2008 and what this means. * His belief that aliens are here on earth - in bases dotted around the planet - and how world governments have been - and may still be - in liaison with them. * How the west has secretly developed advanced weaponry to deal with a possible interstellar threat. * How the United States and British governments have secretly spent millions of pounds attempting to solve the UFO mystery and that it is 'the most highly classified subject on earth'.
Note: The 14-minute audio excerpt available at the link above is quite good.
How Christian the lion became a YouTube sensation
July 26, 2008, MSNBC
The decades-old footage of a full-grown lion joyously embracing two young men like an affectionate house cat has made myriad eyes misty since it recently landed on YouTube. What is it about the old, grainy images that has attracted millions of clicks around the globe? Is it simply that a lion, whimsically named Christian, remembered the two men who raised it and then released it into the wild? It may be something more: the indelible image of a creature that could kill a man in seconds behaving like a pussycat with two men it obviously loves, smack in the middle of the African bush. The video is the work of Anthony "Ace" Bourke and John Rendall, two Australians who in 1969 were living in ... London. Nearly 40 years later, Rendall expressed astonishment that one video of his reunion with his former pet had drawn more than six million hits as of this writing. "Oh, my God," Rendall exclaimed from Australia when told how popular the video has become. "If it's made people more aware and more interested in conservation and the protection of the environment, we're very pleased." Back in '69, Rendall was living on King's Road, in the Chelsea section of London. The center of London's counterculture at the time, King's Road seethed with creativity and fashion. When a friend came back from a trip to Harrods, London's famous department store, and told a story about her trip to the pet department, Rendall was understandably fascinated. "Harrods has always claimed that they could find anything," he explained. "Anything you'd want, Harrods could get for you. ... There were these beautiful lion cubs."
Note: To watch this highly inspiring three-minute clip, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adYbFQFXG0U.
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EPA Silences Staff, War Censorship, Cell Phone Risks