Drug-Resistant Flu, Federal DNA Collection, Many "Pirates" Defending Their Communities
Revealing News Articles
January 16, 2009
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the resistance of this year's dominant flu virus to the leading antiviral drug, Tamiflu, US federal agencies' plans to collect DNA from all detainees and arrestees, the defense of their communities by Somalis labeled as "pirates", 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.
Major Flu Strain Found Resistant to Leading Drug, Puzzling Scientists
January 9, 2009, New York Times
Virtually all the dominant strain of flu in the United States this season is resistant to the leading antiviral drug Tamiflu, and scientists and health officials are trying to figure out why. The problem is not yet a public health crisis because this has been a below-average flu season so far, and because the Tamiflu-resistant strain, one of three circulating, is still susceptible to other drugs. But infectious disease specialists are worried nonetheless. Last winter, about 11 percent of the throat swabs from patients with the most common type of flu that were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for genetic typing showed a Tamiflu-resistant strain. This season, 99 percent do. "It's quite shocking," said Dr. Kent A. Sepkowitz, director of infection control at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "We've never lost an antimicrobial this fast. It blew me away." The single mutation that creates Tamiflu resistance appears to be spontaneous, and not a reaction to overuse of the drug. Complicating the problem, antiviral drugs work only if taken within the first 48 hours of infection.
Note: Isn't Tamiflu the same drug that was, according the U.K.'s respected Independent, "bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease [avian flu]," and from which Donald Rumsfeld "made more than $5m in capital gains from selling shares"? What ever happened to all the panic about the avian flu? Could it be that it was only fear mongering? For reliable information on this key topic, click here.
Immigrant advocates decry new rules on courts, DNA
January 9, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press
Civil liberties and immigrant rights advocates expressed outrage over a Department of Justice rule that took effect Friday, mandating federal agencies to collect DNA samples from anyone who is arrested and foreigners detained by immigration authorities. The rule aims to help federal law enforcement agencies solve and deter crimes by expanding the country's DNA database, which is overseen by the FBI. The government also hopes that sampling immigrant detainees will help law enforcement hold them accountable for any crimes they committed in the United States. The rule ... sparked outcry from civil liberties advocates. "We should not be taking DNA, which contains highly personal information, from people merely upon suspicion they've done something wrong," said Larry Frankel, state legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C. "This completely reverses the notion someone is innocent until proven guilty." Justice officials have estimated the DNA rule would put 1.2 million DNA samples into the federal DNA database each year. Thirteen states already collect DNA samples from some people who had been arrested, according to a 2008 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nearly all limit the practice to arrests related to violent crimes or felonies. At the federal level, officials will take a cheek swab for DNA from arrestees along with fingerprints regardless of the nature of the offense, according to the Department of Justice.
Note: For many disturbing reports from major media sources on threats to civil liberties, click here.
You are being lied to about pirates
January 5, 2009, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? The British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. But behind ... this tale there is an untold scandal. In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas. Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them.
U.S. Embassy in Iraq Largest, Most Expensive Ever
January 5, 2009, Fox News
After much delay the United States opened its new $700 million embassy in Iraq on Monday, inaugurating the largest – and most expensive – embassy ever built. The compound is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the size of the National Mall in Washington. It has space for 1,000 employees with six apartment blocks and is 10 times larger than any other U.S. embassy. Critics have said that the embassy's fortress-like design and immense size show a fundamental disconnect between the U.S. and conditions on the ground in Iraq. "The presence of a massive U.S. embassy – by far the largest in the world – co-located in the Green Zone with the Iraqi government is seen by Iraqis as an indication of who actually exercises power in their country," the International Crisis Group, a European-based research group, said in 2006. "The idea of an embassy this huge, this costly, and this isolated from events taking place outside its walls is not necessarily a cause for celebration," architectural historian Jane Loeffler wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2007. "Although the U.S. Government regularly proclaims confidence in Iraq's democratic future, the U.S. has designed an embassy that conveys no confidence in Iraqis and little hope for their future. Instead, the U.S. has built a fortress capable of sustaining a massive, long-term presence in the face of continued violence."
Note: Why would the U.S. want Iraq (estimated population 28 million) to have an embassy 10 times or more larger than that of China (over a billion people), Canada, Japan, or for that matter many other countries? And why isn't any major media besides Fox even raising this key question? Look at the AP article which has virtually nothing critical. Could this possibly have anything to do with control of oil and other precious resources there?
Coming to the Battlefield: Stone-Cold Robot Killers
January 4, 2009, Washington Post
Armed robotic aircraft soar in the skies above Pakistan, hurling death down. Soon -- years, not decades, from now -- American armed robots will patrol on the ground as well, fundamentally transforming the face of battle. The detachment with which the United States can inflict death upon our enemies is surely one reason why U.S. military involvement around the world has expanded over the past two decades. The Future Combat Systems program is aimed at developing an array of new vehicles and systems -- including armed robots. These killers will be utterly without remorse or pity when confronting the enemy. Armed robots will all be snipers. Stone-cold killers, every one of them. They will aim with inhuman precision and fire without human hesitation. They will not need bonuses to enlist or housing for their families or expensive training ranges or retirement payments. Commanders will order them onto battlefields that would mean certain death for humans, knowing that the worst to come is a trip to the shop for repairs.
Note: For lots more on developing war technologies from reliable sources, click here.
How Technology May Soon "Read" Your Mind
January 4, 2009, CBS News
The content of our thoughts is our own - private, secret, and unknowable by anyone else. [But] neuroscience research into how we think and what we're thinking is advancing at a stunning rate, making it possible for the first time in human history to peer directly into the brain to read out the physical make-up of our thoughts, some would say to read our minds. The technology that is transforming what once was science fiction into just plain science is a specialized use of MRI scanning called "functional MRI," fMRI for short. "I always tell my students that there is no science fiction anymore," [said] Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University in Atlanta. What [researchers] ... have done is combine fMRI's ability to look at the brain in action with computer science's new power to sort through massive amounts of data. "There are some other technologies that are being developed that may be able to be used covertly and even remotely. They're trying to develop now a beam of light that would be projected onto your forehead. It would go a couple of millimeters into your frontal cortex, and then receptors would get the reflection of that light. And [there are] some studies that suggest that we could use that as a lie detection device. If you were sitting there in the airport and being questioned, they could beam that on your forehead without your knowledge. We can't do that yet, but they're working on it," [Wolpe said].
Congress Wants Details On Bailout Firms' Bonus Plans
October 30, 2008, CNBC
The hot-button issues of CEO pay and the Wall Street bailout may soon collide with the real world of Wall Street bonuses, taxpayer and shareholder anger over the financial crisis, and a Treasury secretary with deep roots on Wall Street. And that collision could be loud and ugly. Though what's commonly known as the Wall Street bailout package includes modest restrictions on CEO pay, it hardly prevents participating financial firms from paying bonuses to top executives and others. And in an environment of beaten-down stock prices, rising layoffs, recession and huge government bailouts, experts and legislators say big end-of-year bonuses will cause a firestorm of public outrage and likely provoke a Congressional backlash. "The corporate community doesn't seem to get it," says a seething Nell Minow, founder of the Corporate Library, which focuses on corporate governance issues. "If the corporate leaders don't come to the American people with some accountability, they are going to find themselves in a world of pain. Congress will set CEO pay." "People are going to be demanding that someone go to jail," say Rep. Peter DeFazio (D.-Ore), who says his constituents have applauded him for voting against the legislation. "It will require Democrats to revisit restrictions [on CEO pay]. " DeFazio says he would also recommend Congress "empower a division in the FBI and Justice Department to investigate the fraud and misdeeds that went on."
Note: For many revealing reports on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Britain's worst polluters set for windfall of millions
September 12, 2008, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
A flagship European scheme designed to fight global warming is set to hand hundreds of millions of pounds to some of Britain's most polluting companies, with little or no benefit to the environment. Dozens of multinational firms stand to benefit from the windfall, which comes from the over-allocation of carbon permits under the European emissions trading scheme. The permits are given to companies by the government, and are supposed to account for their carbon pollution over the next five years. But figures published by the European Commission show that many companies have been allocated far too many permits, which they can sell for cash. The scheme is supposed to only distribute as many permits as companies require, with one permit allocated for each tonne of CO2 produced. The figures ... suggest that up to 9m extra annual permits have been allocated to 200 companies across almost all sectors of the British economy, from steel and cement making, to car manufacturing and the food and drink industry. Dozens of household names such as Ford, Thames Water, Astra Zeneca and Vauxhall are among the companies that could benefit. Campaigners say the allocations were ... influenced by industry group lobbying. A source at a major UK car manufacturing firm, which has been allocated more than double the number of permits it needs, told the Guardian they were given out based on "magical logic".
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
That Plastic Baby Bottle
September 6, 2008, New York Times
What do you do when one arm of the government says everything is O.K. and another tells you to watch out? That is what is happening with bisphenol-A – a chemical used in many plastics and epoxy resins now found in baby bottles and liners for canned goods. The answer is a truism in every family rulebook – when in doubt, especially when it comes to children, err on the side of caution. That means it is a good idea to keep the young away from bisphenol-A, or BPA. Then this week, the National Toxicology Program, the federal agency for toxicological research, reported that their research shows "some concern" about the effects of BPA on the brain development and behavior of fetuses and young children. A new study by the Yale School of Medicine is cause for even more concern. In tests on primates, researchers found that BPA "causes the loss of connections between brain cells" that could cause memory or learning problems and depression." John Bucher, the associate director of the toxicology program, said ... "We have concluded that the possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed."
Note: For many key reports on health issues from reliable sources, click here.
On Elephant Sanctuary, Unlikely Friends
January 2, 2009, CBS News
When elephants retire, many head for the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn. They arrive one by one, but they tend to live out their lives two-by-two. "Every elephant that comes here searches out someone that she then spends most all of her time with," says sanctuary co-founder Carol Buckley. It's like having a best girlfriend, Buckley says - "Somebody they can relate to, they have something in common with." Debbie has Ronnie. Misty can't live without Dulary. Those are pachyderm-pachyderm pairs. But perhaps the closest friends of all are Tarra and Bella. That would be Tarra the 8,700 pound Asian elephant. And Bella. The dog. "This is her friend," Buckley says. "Her friend just happens to be a dog and not an elephant. Bella knows she's not an elephant. Tarra knows she's not a dog. But that's not a problem for them." Bella is one of more than a dozen stray dogs that have found a home at the sanctuary. Most want nothing to do with the elephants and vice versa. But not this odd couple. "When it's time to eat they both eat together. They drink together. They sleep together. They play together," Buckley says. Bella even lets Tarra pet her tummy - with the bottom of her enormous foot. They harbor no fears, no secrets, no prejudices. Just two living creatures who somehow managed to look past their immense differences. Take good look at this couple, America. Take a good look world. If they can do it - what's our excuse?
Note: Don't miss the inspiring, four-minute video of these two available here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Going Green Goes Mainstream
October 15, 2006, CBS News
Father Charles Morris spends many afternoons on the roof of the rectory where he sounds more like an electrical engineer than a man of the cloth. He has taken his rectory in Wyandotte, Mich. off the power grid and installed high-efficiency light-bulbs and special sun-blocking screens over the windows of his church. "What we have right here are eight 80 watt Kyocera solar panels. And a 400 watt Southwest air wind turbine," he told Sunday Morning correspondent Russ Mitchell. "We estimate that we are saving about $20,000 a year in terms of utility bills." Whether it's because of high fuel prices, or worries about global warming, environmentalism seems to be going mainstream. Wyandotte is a Detroit suburb of 28,000 – not the most likely place for a green revolution. But Wyandotte, like a lot of places, is beginning to change. It's long-term thinking that motivates Father Morris. "We, as 5 percent of the world's population, use up 28 percent of the world's resources," Father Morris said. "That's not, there's something really out of kilter here. Is that what Jesus would have us do?" Father Morris isn't putting in solar and wind power just to save money. It's spiritual for him too. His church has joined 2000 congregations of all faiths across the country in an organization called "Interfaith Power and Light," dedicated to the environment. "We are part of creation not apart from creation," he said. "And as a consequence everything else follows. And we forget that at our own peril."
Foundations are in place for martial law in the US
July 27, 2002, Sydney Morning Herald
Recent pronouncements from the Bush Administration and national security initiatives put in place in the Reagan era could see internment camps and martial law in the United States. When president Ronald Reagan was considering invading Nicaragua he issued a series of executive orders that provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with broad powers in the event of a "crisis" such as "violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition against a US military invasion abroad". On July 20 the Detroit Free Press ran a story entitled "Arabs in US could be held, official warns". The story referred to a member of the US Civil Rights Commission who foresaw the possibility of internment camps for Arab Americans. FEMA has practised for such an occasion. FEMA, whose main role is disaster response, is also responsible for handling US domestic unrest. From 1982-84 Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defence preparations. They included executive orders providing for suspension of the constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA. A Miami Herald article on July 5, 1987, reported that the former FEMA director Louis Guiffrida's deputy, John Brinkerhoff, handled the martial law portion of the planning. Today Mr Brinkerhoff is with the highly influential Anser Institute for Homeland Security.
Note: Most of these provisions are still in place today. Isn't it time for a change?
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Drug-Resistant Flu, Federal DNA Collection, Many "Pirates" Defending Their Communities