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Tackling Poverty, Veil of Secrecy, Dead Dolphins, Electricity from Waves, Oil Profits
Revealing News Articles
May 3, 2006

Dear friends,

Below are one-paragraph excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. These news articles include revealing information on tackling poverty, the current U.S. administration's veil of secrecy, dead dolphins, cheap electricity from waves, massive oil profits, and more. 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,
Fred Burks for
Former language interpreter for Presidents Bush and Clinton

P. S. The new email service I use for this list allows me to see how many people click on each link by adding an intermediate link which automatically rolls over instantaneously for most people. Please let me know if this is causing problems for you. I may stop using it if so. You take care and have a great day!

Electronic voting switch threatens mass confusion
May 1, 2006, Financial Times

The last three election cycles in the US have been marked by controversy...about the fairness and accuracy of the voting process. The coming cycle promises more of the same. In California, the League of Women Voters has protested against a new, computerised statewide election registry that the group says is improperly rejecting registered voters, while county clerks in several Indiana jurisdictions complained that the electronic ballots programmed by the vendors of their electronic voting machines had been delivered late, were incorrect and poorly proofread. The clerk for Marion County – the state's most populous – said that, so far, nine rounds of "fixes" had been required; she was unsure whether the primary vote today could be held without problems, according to The Indianapolis Star. In Florida...the election supervisor for Leon County allowed anti-electronic voting activists to try breaching security in the county's optical scan voting system, prompting the big three electronic voting systems companies – Diebold, Election Systems & Services, and Sequoia – to refuse to sell the county new machines. The US Government Accountability Office issued a report with a litany of potential flaws in the reliability and security of electronic voting and warned that steps needed to ensure voter confidence in the integrity of the vote were unlikely to be in place in time for the 2006 election.

Note: For more on problems with electronic voting machines:

Bush challenges hundreds of laws
April 30, 2006, Boston Globe

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional. Twice in recent months, Bush drew scrutiny after challenging new laws: a torture ban and a requirement that he give detailed reports to Congress about how he is using the Patriot Act. Citing his role as commander in chief, Bush says he can ignore any act of Congress that seeks to regulate the military. In October 2004, five months after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq came to light, Congress passed a series of new rules and regulations for military prisons. Bush signed the provisions into law, then said he could ignore them all. On several other occasions, Bush contended he could nullify laws creating ''whistle-blower" job protections. Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, said the American system of government relies upon the leaders of each branch "to exercise some self-restraint." But Bush has declared himself the sole judge of his own powers, he said, and then ruled for himself every time. "This...eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy," Fein said.

Bush team imposes thick veil of secrecy
April 30, 2006, Chicago Tribune,1,5984422.story

As the Bush administration has dramatically accelerated the classification of information as "top secret" or "confidential," one office is refusing to report on its annual activity in classifying documents: the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. A standing executive order, strengthened by President Bush in 2003, requires all agencies and "any other entity within the executive branch" to provide an annual accounting of their classification of documents. More than 80 agencies have collectively reported to the National Archives that they made 15.6 million decisions in 2004 to classify information, nearly double the number in 2001, but Cheney continues to insist he is exempt. Explaining why the vice president has withheld even a tally of his office's secrecy when such offices as the National Security Council routinely report theirs, a spokeswoman said Cheney is "not under any duty" to provide it. By keeping secret so many directives and actions, the administration has precluded the public--and often members of Congress--from knowing about some of the most significant decisions and acts of the White House. Starting in the early weeks of his administration with a move to protect the papers of former presidents, Bush has clamped down on the release of government documents. That includes tougher standards for what the public can obtain under the Freedom of Information Act and the creation of a broad new category of "sensitive but unclassified information."

400 dolphins found dead on Zanzibar coast
April 28, 2006, CNN/Associated Press

Hundreds of dead dolphins washed up Friday along the shore of a popular tourist destination on Zanzibar's northern coast, and scientists ruled out poisoning. The bottleneck dolphins, which live in deep offshore waters, had empty stomachs, meaning that they could have been disoriented and were swimming for some time to reorient themselves. They did not starve to death and were not poisoned. In the United States, experts were investigating the possibility that sonar from U.S. submarines could have been responsible for a similar incident in Marathon, Florida, where 68 deep-water dolphins stranded themselves in March 2005. A U.S. Navy task force patrols the East Africa coast as part of counterterrorism operations.

Sonar Called Likely Stranding Cause
April 28 , 2006, Washington Post

Federal marine specialists have concluded that Navy sonar was the most likely cause of the unusual stranding of melon-headed whales in a Hawaiian bay in 2004. The appearance of as many as 200 of the normally deep-diving whales in Hanalei Bay in Kauai occurred while a major American-Japanese sonar training exercise was taking place. The report is the latest in a series of scientific reviews linking traditional mid-frequency naval sonar to whale strandings. The active sonar used by navies sends out loud pings of sound that seem to frighten and disorient whales. The effect was documented off Greece in 1996 and established later during naval exercises in the Bahamas, off the Canary Islands and off Spain. In the 2000 Bahamas stranding, a local marine biologist collected some of the whales that died onshore and froze them for later study -- which helped NOAA conclude that sonar was the likely cause. Michael Jasny, a senior consultant with NRDC, said the NOAA report was worrisome. "Once again, the Navy's denial has been contradicted by the official government investigation. It's time for the Navy to stop this needless infliction of harm."

Stanford, UC tackling global poverty issues
April 27, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle

Stanford University and UC Berkeley have joined a trend among the nation's elite universities and are developing centers dedicated to fighting poverty worldwide as economic inequalities grow ever starker. Both are fledgling efforts aimed at marshalling their respective academic tackle some of the most vexing and enduring problems facing humanity. A few universities, such as Harvard, have established track records in this arena, but a number of academics believe the trend is accelerating among major universities. Northwestern University and the University of Chicago have been running the Joint Center for Poverty Research since late 1996. Harvard established the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy a couple of years later. In 2002, the University of Michigan created the National Poverty Center, which is largely funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Last year...Princeton University started the Global Network on Inequality. Capitalism...has been immensely successful in generating high-GNP societies, but one side effect has been "massive inequality (that) can be debilitating." Poverty and inequality have always plagued the world, but that doesn't mean universities can't develop new ways of solving the problems, said Stanford's Grusky. "It's time again to think in ways that are utopian...and imagine systems that are different from the ones we have."

Note: For two excellent articles on tackling poverty and how you can make a difference: - Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: Microcredit and Microfinance,10987,1034738,00.html - Time magazine "The End of Poverty"

Oil refiners' golden age of profits
April 27, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle

High crude oil prices aren't the only reason you're paying $3.15 for a gallon of regular. For America's giant gasoline refiners...this is a golden age. By California state estimates, refinery profit margins have more than doubled in 2006, though that figure doesn't take into account some key expenses. Meanwhile, oil prices have risen by 14 percent. Oil industry critics hunting for proof of price gouging point to refineries' expanding profit margins as evidence. Critics say the companies deliberately closed many U.S. refineries years ago as a way to drive up their margins. The country now has 144 refineries, down from 324 in 1981. "The refining business used to be pretty lousy, but they took very aggressive actions to correct that," said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at the Public Citizen watchdog group. "They're choosing not to build new refineries because it's not in their economic interest." Exact profit margins for the industry are difficult to track, because the companies involved don't reveal financial details. The California Energy Commission publishes a loose weekly estimate, measuring the difference between what the state's 21 refineries pay for crude oil and what they charge for their products. Since the start of the year, that figure has jumped 130 percent, from 30 cents for each gallon of finished gasoline to 69 cents last week. During the same time, the price refiners pay for crude oil has increased 14 percent.

Selling 'pandemic flu' through a language of fear
March 21, 2006, Christian Science Monitor

Americans consider the United States to be a country where debate flourishes. Yet with regard to avian flu, hyped sound bites predominate. When President Bush asked Congress for $7.1 billion toward "pandemic flu preparedness," even his critics replied "not enough." What is lacking in the overall discussion about pandemic flu is disagreement, criticism, and skepticism - once the bedrock of science - from researchers willing to question and test the data. Some facts: According to the World Health Organization, the first "outbreak" of the H5N1 virus, also known as avian flu, killed six people in 1997. Since then, H5N1 has allegedly killed 97 more worldwide, the majority of whom lived in poor, rural areas and had direct contact with dead or sick birds often kept in unsanitary conditions. These numbers do not suggest the human population faces an insurmountable threat from this virus. Peter Palese, flu scientist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, told The New York Times in a Nov. 8, 2005 article that H5N1 is a false alarm. The virus has been "around for more than a dozen years, but it hasn't jumped into the human population." The reason? It probably can't. There are better ways to promote America's health than selling sickness through the language of fear. Before the government employs "all instruments of national power," including "quarantine authority," as the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza declares, we need to be told what "pandemic flu" really means.

Note: Not mentioned are the huge profits reaped by the drug companies and their political supporters thanks to the intense fear of bird flu generated by the media. For more:

MI6 pays out over secret LSD mind control tests
February 24, 2006, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers),,1716708,00.html

The Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, has paid thousands of pounds in compensation to servicemen who were fed LSD without their consent in clandestine mind-control experiments in the 1950s. MI6 has agreed an out-of-court settlement with the men, who said they were duped into taking part in the experiments and had waited years to learn the truth. Don Webb, a former airman, said yesterday: "I feel vindicated; this has been a classic cover-up for years." MI6's counterparts at the CIA also did LSD experiments on men without their knowledge to try to control their minds. Mr Webb said scientists gave him LSD at least twice in a week. He remembers a nightmarish experience when he hallucinated for a long time. He saw "walls melting, cracks appearing in people's faces ... eyes would run down cheeks, Salvador Dali-type faces ... a flower would turn into a slug". He said he had first made inquiries about the experiments in the 1960s but was "blanked by the government, which quoted the Official Secrets Act". He said he experienced flashbacks for 10 years after the experiments. "They treated us just like guinea pigs."

Note: For lots more on the use of human guinea pigs by the government in attempts to master mind control, see and

NASA engineer chasing dream to harness energy from ocean waves
December 6, 2005, Houston Chronicle/Orlando Sentinel

The son of [a] rocket scientist thinks he is close to perfecting...a machine that might make cheap, clean electricity from the ocean. "I believe it'll change the world," said second-generation inventor Tom Woodbridge, a NASA engineer. In theory, the idea is simple. Spinning copper wires through a stable magnetic field makes electricity – lots of electrons jumping off the magnetic field and zooming through a conductive metal. And since the ocean waves are already moving, why not cobble together a machine to harness that energy? Think Pogo Stick inside a floating drum. The rocking motion of the waves pushes a long cylinder of magnets up and down a copper coil. His small model generates 10 watts of power in a 6-inch wave chop. A full-scale version could generate 160 kilowatts. That one buoy is enough to power 160 houses, following the rule of thumb that the average U.S. home uses about 1,000 kilowatts of electricity each month.

Note: It is interesting that the Houston Chronicle cut off part of the article, including the last three sentences above, which is why a second link to the full story is given above. For lots more on new energy inventions, see

Special note to U.S. citizens: Beware of anyone phoning you about jury duty and identifying themselves as U.S. court employees. For more, see

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Tackling Poverty, Veil of Secrecy, Dead Dolphins, Electricity from Waves, Oil Profits