Cancer Epidemic in 9/11 Rescue Workers, Blackwater Bribes, CIA Rendition
Revealing News Articles
November 16, 2009
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on fears of a cancer epidemic among 9/11 rescue workers, over $1 million in bribes to Iraqi officials by Blackwater Corporation, important court rulings on the CIA's kidnapping and rendition of captives to countries where they are tortured in secret prisons, 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. The most important sentences are highlighted. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Special note: For excellent information on lobbyists, campaign finance, and Congressional wealth, click here. To watch a CNN video on what is known about the Yale secret society Skull and Bones, click here. For eye-opening stats on secret orders issued by the US government and reported by the US Patent and Trademark Office, click here. Watch an eye-opening add persuading you to get microchipped available here. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling gave an incredibly moving speech at Harvard University's graduation, available here. And for a powerful PBS documentary on the landmark brown eye/blue eye experiement, click here.
9/11's delayed legacy: cancer for many of the rescue workers
November 11, 2009, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A spate of recent deaths of New York police and fire officers who took part in the emergency operation at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks has heightened fears that it could be the start of a delayed epidemic of cancer-related illness. Five firefighters and police officers, all of whom were involved in the rescue and clear-up at the site of the collapsed Twin Towers, have died of cancer in the past three months, the oldest being 44. Three died last month within a four-day period. Up to 70,000 people took part in the massive operation at Ground Zero, including police, firefighters and construction workers who came to New York voluntarily from all over the US. Many worked for months amid a toxic soup of dust and chemicals. Amid the pollutants within the giant pile of 1.8m tons of debris and the surrounding air were ... about 1,000 tons of asbestos that was used in the construction of the Twin Towers, pulverised lead from computers, mercury and highly carcinogenic by-products from the burning of plastics and chlorinated chemicals. No official tally is available for the number of those who have died as a result of the 9/11 clear-up. The New York state health department has recorded 817 deaths of emergency workers. Claire Calladine, a campaigner who runs the organisation 9/11 Health Now, said the fear was that the recent rise in cancer cases was just the start. "We have only seen the tip of the iceberg. How bad will it get – that is the big question."
Report: Blackwater Sent $1M Bribe to Iraq
November 11, 2009, CBS News/Associated Press
[Four] former top executives at Blackwater Worldwide say the U.S. security contractor sent about $1 million to its Iraq office with the intention of paying off officials in the country who were angry about the fatal shootings of 17 civilians by Blackwater employees. Iraqis had long complained about ground operations by the North Carolina-based company, now known as Xe Corp. Then the shooting by Blackwater guards in Baghdad's Nisoor Square in September 2007 left 17 civilians dead, further strained relations between Baghdad and Washington and led U.S. prosecutors to bring charges against the Blackwater contractors involved. The State Department has since turned to DynCorp and another private security firm, Triple Canopy, to handle diplomatic protective services in the country. But Xe continues to provide security for diplomats in other nations, most notably in Afghanistan. The former executives told the [New York Times] that the payments were approved by the company's then-president, Gary Jackson. They did not know if he came up with the idea. Any payments would have been illegal under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bans bribes to foreign officials. Two of the former executives said they were directly involved in discussions about paying Iraqi officials, and the other two said they were told about the discussions by others at Blackwater.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Justice Dept. Asked For News Site's Visitor Lists
November 10, 2009, CBS News
In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day. The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization. Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department's subpoena. The subpoena ... demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, [and] credit card numbers. Clair [called] the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which represented her at no cost. Making this investigation more mysterious is that Indymedia.us is an aggregation site, meaning articles that appear on it were published somewhere else first, and there's no hint about what sparked the criminal probe. Clair, the system administrator, says that no IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are recorded for Indymedia.us, and non-IP address logs are kept for a few weeks and then discarded. "This is the first time we've seen them try to get the IP address of everyone who visited a particular site," [EFF's Kevin] Bankston said. "That it was a news organization was an additional troubling fact that implicates First Amendment rights."
Note: For many reports from major media sources of growing government threats to civil liberties, click here.
A National Disgrace
November 11, 2009, New York Times
Two courts, one in Italy and one in the United States, ruled recently on the Bush administration's practice of extraordinary rendition, which is the kidnapping of people and sending them to other countries for interrogation – and torture. The Italian court got it right. The American court got it miserably wrong. In Italy, a judge ruled that a station chief for the Central Intelligence Agency and 22 other Americans broke the law in the 2003 abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, a Muslim cleric who ended up in Egypt, where he said he was tortured. Two days earlier, a federal appeals court in Manhattan brushed off a lawsuit by Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who was seized in an American airport by federal agents acting on bad information from Canadian officials. He was held incommunicado and harshly interrogated before being sent to Syria, where he was tortured. He spent almost a year in a grave-size underground cell before the Syrians let him go. It has long been established that Mr. Arar was not guilty of anything. Canada admitted that it had supplied false information to American authorities, and in 2007, it apologized and offered Mr. Arar $10 million in damages. Written by Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, the 59-page majority opinion held that no civil damages remedy exists for the horrors visited on Mr. Arar. The ruling distorts precedent and the Constitutional separation of powers to deny justice to Mr. Arar and give officials a pass for egregious misconduct. The overt disregard for the central role of judges in policing executive branch excesses has frightening implications for safeguarding civil liberties, as four judges suggested in dissenting opinions.
Note: For many reports from major media sources of growing government threats to civil liberties, click here.
Court to reconsider CIA torture flight ruling
October 28, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
A federal appeals court granted the Obama administration's request ... to rehear a case over a Bay Area company's alleged participation in CIA torture flights, setting the stage for a critical test of government claims of secrecy and national security. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco had reinstated a suit in April by five men who accused the company, Jeppesen Dataplan of San Jose, of taking part in the CIA's extraordinary rendition program that led to their imprisonment and torture. The 3-0 ruling rejected arguments by the Bush and Obama administrations that the case concerned secrets too sensitive to disclose in court. The full appeals court set aside that ruling. President Obama criticized the practice [of extraordinary rendition] but refused to disavow it, promising only that no prisoners would be tortured. Ben Wizner, an ACLU attorney, said ... that he was "disappointed that the Obama administration continues to stand in the way of torture victims having their day in court. This case is not about secrecy. It's about immunity from accountability," Wizner said. In the April ruling reinstating the lawsuit, the three-judge appeals court panel said the government and Jeppesen could take steps to protect national secrets as the case proceeded. The panel said the administration's argument, if accepted, would "cordon off all secret government actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the CIA and its contractors from the demands and limits of the law."
Note: For many reports from major media sources of growing government threats to civil liberties, click here.
U.S. readies plan to ID departing visitors
November 8, 2009, Washingon Post
The Department of Homeland Security is finalizing a proposal to collect fingerprints or eye scans from all foreign travelers at U.S. airports as they leave the country, officials said, a costly screening program that airlines have opposed. The plan ... would collect fingerprints at airport security checkpoints, departure gates or terminal kiosks, allowing the government to track when roughly 35 million foreign visitors a year. In a concession to industry, DHS said it probably will drop plans to require airlines to pay for the bulk of the program and is looking to cut costs, which could reach $1 billion to $2 billion over a decade, largely to be paid by taxpayers or foreign travelers. In addition, the program would not operate for now at land borders, where 80 percent of noncitizens enter and leave the country, because fingerprinting travelers there could cost billions more and significantly delay commerce. Congress focused on inbound travelers after the [September 11, 2001 attacks,] appropriating $3 billion since 2003 on the US-VISIT tracking program. The program collects biological identifiers, such as fingerprints and digital photographs, from all arriving foreigners except Canadians and Mexicans with special border-crossing cards. By the time Bush administration officials unveiled a $3.5 billion program in April 2008, however, political impetus for changes had weakened.
Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower
November 9, 2009, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying. The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply. In particular they question the prediction in the last World Economic Outlook ... repeated again this year, that oil production can be raised from its current level of 83m barrels a day to 105m barrels. External critics have frequently argued that this cannot be substantiated by firm evidence. "The IEA in 2005 was predicting oil supplies could rise as high as 120m barrels a day by 2030 although it was forced to reduce this gradually to 116m and then 105m last year," said the IEA source, who was unwilling to be identified for fear of reprisals inside the industry. "Many inside the organisation believe that maintaining oil supplies at even 90m to 95m barrels a day would be impossible but there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further." A second senior IEA source ... said a key rule at the organisation was that it was "imperative not to anger the Americans" but the fact was that there was not as much oil in the world as had been [claimed].
Chrysler drops three electric vehicles despite having touted them to get billions in government bailout cash
November 9, 2009, USA Today
If you believed all the talk from Chrysler about how our tax dollars would help finance its fast-track electric-vehicle future, you're in for a big disappointment. Chrysler has disbanded the engineering team that was trying to bring three electric models to market as a rush job. Chrysler [had] cited its devotion to electric vehicles as one of the key reasons why the Obama administration and Congress needed to give it $12.5 billion in bailout money. The change of heart on electric vehicles has come under Fiat. At a marathon presentation of Chrysler's five-year strategy, CEO Sergio Marchionne talked about just about everything on Chrysler's plate ... except its earlier electric-car plans. With the group's disbanding, Chrysler's electric plans will be melded into Fiat's. Marchionne is apparently no fan of electric power. He says electrics will only make up 1% or 2% of Fiat sales by 2014 and that he doesn't put a lot of faith in the technology until battery developments are pushed forward. As a result, Chrysler won't have an electric car on sale as soon as next year, such as the Dodge Circuit sports car concept it had unveiled. The change has come so fast that Chrysler's website has been still featuring pictures of the electric vehicles. As late as August, Chrysler took $70 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a test fleet of 220 hybrid pickup trucks and minivans, vehicles now scrapped in the sweeping turnaround plan for Chrysler.
Note: For reports from reliable sources on promising new developments in electric automobile technologies, click here.
Chemicals in Our Food, and Bodies
November 8, 2009, New York Times
Your body is probably home to a chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA. It's a synthetic estrogen that United States factories now use in everything from plastics to epoxies – to the tune of six pounds per American per year. More than 92 percent of Americans have BPA in their urine, and scientists have linked it ... to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike. Now it turns out it's in our food. Consumer Reports magazine tested an array of brand-name canned foods for a report in its December issue and found BPA in almost all of them. The magazine says that relatively high levels turned up, for example, in Progresso vegetable soup, Campbell's condensed chicken noodle soup, and Del Monte Blue Lake cut green beans. The magazine also says it found BPA in the canned liquid version of Similac Advance infant formula ... and in canned Nestlé Juicy Juice. The BPA in the food probably came from an interior coating used in many cans. More than 200 other studies have shown links between low doses of BPA and adverse health effects, according to the Breast Cancer Fund, which is trying to ban the chemical from food and beverage containers. "The vast majority of independent scientists – those not working for industry – are concerned about early-life low-dose exposures to BPA," said Janet Gray, a Vassar College professor who is science adviser to the Breast Cancer Fund.
Note: For more on BPA and other health issues, click here.
Goodbye to Reforms of 2002
November 6, 2009, New York Times
It took just five weeks after the WorldCom accounting scandal erupted in 2002 for Congress to pass ... the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. That law required public companies to make sure their internal controls against fraud were not full of holes. Sarbanes-Oxley was passed, almost unanimously, by a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate. Now a Democratic Congress is gutting it with the apparent approval of the Obama administration. The House Financial Services Committee this week approved an amendment to the Investor Protection Act of 2009 – a name George Orwell would appreciate – to allow most companies to never comply with the law, and mandating a study to see whether it would be a good idea to exempt additional ones as well. Some veterans of past reform efforts were left sputtering with rage. "That the Democratic Party is the vehicle for overturning the most pro-investor legislation in the past 25 years is deeply disturbing," said Arthur Levitt, a Democrat who was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission under President Bill Clinton. There are other threats to Sarbanes-Oxley as well. The law set up a long-overdue system of regulating the accounting industry, which had proved time and again that it was incapable of effective self-regulation. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has done a credible job, but a month from now the Supreme Court will hear a case that could drive it out of existence.
Note: For a treasure trove of revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities behind the Wall Street collapse and bailout, click here.
The Five Biggest Lies in the Health Care Debate
August 29, 2009, Time magazine
To the credit of opponents of health-care reform, the lies and exaggerations they're spreading are not made up out of whole cloth–which makes the misinformation that much more credible. Instead, because opponents demand that everyone within earshot (or e-mail range) look, say, "at page 425 of the House bill!," the lies take on a patina of credibility. Take the claim in one chain e-mail that the government will have electronic access to everyone's bank account, implying that the Feds will rob you blind. The 1,017-page bill passed by the House Ways and Means Committee does call for electronic fund transfers–but from insurers to doctors and other providers. There is zero provision to include patients in any such system. Five other myths that won't die:  You'll have no choice in what health benefits you receive.  No chemo for older Medicare patients. A related myth is that health-care reform will be financed through $500 billion in Medicare cuts. This refers to proposed decreases in Medicare increases.  Illegal immigrants will get free health insurance.  Death panels will decide who lives.  The government will set doctors' wages. To be sure, there are also honest and principled objections to health-care reform. Some oppose a requirement that everyone have health insurance as an erosion of individual liberty. And many are simply scared out of their wits about what health-care reform will mean for them. But when fear and loathing hijack the brain, anything becomes believable.
Note: For lots more on health issues from major media sources, click here.
Vatican Looks to Heavens for Signs of Alien Life
November 10, 2009, ABC News/Associated Press
Four hundred years after it locked up Galileo for challenging the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, the Vatican has called in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life and its implication for the Catholic Church. "The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration," said the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory. Funes, a Jesuit priest, presented the results ... of a five-day conference that gathered astronomers, physicists, biologists and other experts to discuss the budding field of astrobiology – the study of the origin of life and its existence elsewhere in the cosmos. The Church of Rome's views have shifted radically through the centuries since Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1600 for speculating, among other ideas, that other worlds could be inhabited. Funes told Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that believing the universe may host aliens, even intelligent ones, does not contradict a faith in God. "How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere? Just as there is a multitude of creatures on Earth, there could be other beings, even intelligent ones, created by God. This does not contradict our faith, because we cannot put limits on God's creative freedom." Funes maintained that if intelligent beings were discovered, they would also be considered "part of creation."
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