Supreme Court Restricts Free Speech,
Oil Chief's $357 Million Retirement,
State Secrets, Lobbying Judges
Revealing News Articles
June 6, 2006
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 the U.S. Supreme Court restricting free speech, an oil chief's $357 million retirement package, lobbying judges, invoking the state secrets privilege, 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.
Junketing Judges: A Case of Bad Science
June 4, 2006, Washington Post
Just how far will corporate lobbyists go to tilt governmental decisions in their favor? Last fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Clean Air Act does not require regulating carbon dioxide emissions that are heating up the planet at an unprecedented rate. It turns out that two of the jurists who helped decide the case -- Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg and Judge David B. Sentelle -- attended a six-day global warming seminar at Yellowstone National Park sponsored by a free-market foundation and featuring presentations from companies with a clear financial interest in limiting regulation. Exxon Mobil Corp. and other large businesses contribute to conservative think tanks to help "educate" federal judges through seminars like the one at Yellowstone. The Code of Conduct for federal judges does not prohibit attending such seminars -- as long as participation does not "cast reasonable doubt on the capacity to decide impartially issues that may come before them." Leaders of Congress and the federal courts seem to recognize that the federal judiciary ought to be out of bounds for lobbyists. Judges are appointed for life, and allowing insider access threatens the integrity of the one branch of government that should stand above politics. Court cases must be won by argument, not by influence, and that means putting a stop to judicial junkets that give one side of the debate an unfair advantage.
Invoking Secrets Privilege Becomes a More Popular Legal Tactic
June 4, 2006, New York Times
Facing a wave of litigation challenging its eavesdropping at home and its handling of terror suspects abroad, the Bush administration is increasingly turning to a legal tactic that swiftly torpedoes most lawsuits: the state secrets privilege. Officials have used the privilege...to ask the courts to throw out three legal challenges to the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. The privilege claim, in which the government says any discussion of a lawsuit's accusations would endanger national security, has short-circuited judicial scrutiny and public debate. While the privilege...was once used to shield sensitive documents or witnesses from disclosure, it is now often used to try to snuff out lawsuits at their inception. "If the very people you're suing are the ones who get to use the state secrets privilege, it's a stacked deck," said Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut. Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at Wake Forest University...said the administration's legal strategy "raises profound legal and policy questions." Under Mr. Bush, the secrets privilege has been used to block a lawsuit by a translator at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sibel Edmonds, who was fired after accusing colleagues of security breaches. Two lawsuits challenging the government's practice of rendition, in which terror suspects are seized and delivered to detention centers overseas, were dismissed after the government raised the secrets privilege.
Note: Sibel Edmonds is one of several whistleblowers with powerfully incriminating information on 9/11 who have been silenced with tactics like those mentioned above. To learn more about this critical case which has been blocked, see https://www.WantToKnow.info/050131sibeledmonds
Exxon pay limits rejected
June 1, 2006, Baltimore Sun
Shareholders of Exxon Mobil Corp., whose departing chief executive got a $357 million retirement package, overwhelmingly rejected resolutions to rein in compensation at the company's annual meeting yesterday. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex W. Tillerson said predecessor Lee Raymond deserved a $357 million retirement package that he received in January because he delivered record profits.
Note: So price gouging at the gas pumps brings record oil profits and one of the CEO's responsible gets hundreds of millions of dollars as a retirement gift. What kind of message does that send? Why didn't other major newspapers pick up this little "detail."
High court curbs free-speech rights of public workers on the job
May 31, 2006, Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times
The Supreme Court restricted the free-speech rights of the nation's 21 million public employees Tuesday, ruling that the 1st Amendment does not protect them from being punished for complaining to their managers about possible wrongdoing. Although government employees have the same rights as other citizens to speak out on controversies of the day, they do not have the right to speak freely inside their offices on matters related to "their official duties," the Supreme Court said in a 5-4 decision. Lawyers for government whistle-blowers denounced the ruling as a major setback. "In an era of excessive government secrecy, the court has made it easier to engage in a government cover-up by discouraging internal whistle-blowing," said Steven Shapiro, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union. The decision threw out most of a lawsuit filed by Deputy District Atty. Richard Ceballos, who said he was disciplined after he wrote memos alleging that a police officer may have lied to obtain a search warrant. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed he was entitled to a trial on his lawsuit because he had spoken on a "matter of public concern." But the Supreme Court reversed that ruling Tuesday. Because Tuesday's decision interprets the 1st Amendment, it applies to governments at all levels, including federal and states agencies, public hospitals and public schools and colleges.
'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' with Dan Aykroyd, UFO specialists
May 31, 2006, MSNBC
Dan Aykroyd played an alien in "The Coneheads," but now he says he believes in UFOs. For the very first time, Aykroyd is sharing his experiences in a new DVD called "Dan Aykroyd: Unplugged on UFOs." COSBY: Dan, do you believe that there's a massive government cover-up about UFOs? AYKROYD: I think [UFOs are] here, and I think some want to make life on this planet better, to end violence and end abuse of our environment. COSBY: We‘re joined by...Dr. Bruce Maccabee. He is a Ph.D. with the Mutual UFO Network. And with me here in the studio is Michael Luckman...the director of the New York Center for Extraterrestrial Research. MACCABEE: The documents show that, as early as the early 1950s, the Air Force intelligence concluded that there was a definite possibility that interplanetary ships were being sighted by literally hundreds of people. COSBY: There's a new poll...that says that 14 percent...claim to have had an encounter or know someone who has. COSBY: Do you believe that there are UFOs? LUCKMAN: Absolutely. The proof is [in] hundreds of thousands of formerly top secret documents that have been pried out of the government as a result of the Freedom of Information Act. The smoking gun...lies in about 200 former military [and] intelligence people. I have copies of videotaped depositions that were done with these gentlemen. I am convinced that they're telling the truth about their knowledge, and they're willing to go public.
Note: To read the fascinating testimony of dozens of government and military witnesses, including astronauts, generals, and admirals, see https://www.WantToKnow.info/ufocover-up10pg. For a 10-minute clip of Aykroyd on NBC in Philadelphia: click here. For a May 30 Washington Post/AP article on Aykroyd and UFOs click here. For CNN's interview with Aykroyd, including excellent footage of UFOs, click here.
Block the Vote
May 30, 2006, New York Times
In a country that spends so much time extolling the glories of democracy, it's amazing how many elected officials go out of their way to discourage voting. States are adopting rules that make it hard, and financially perilous, for nonpartisan groups to register new voters. Florida recently reached a new low when it actually bullied the League of Women Voters into stopping its voter registration efforts in the state. The Legislature did this by adopting a law that seems intended to scare away anyone who wants to run a voter registration drive. Since registration drives are particularly important for bringing poor people, minority groups and less educated voters into the process, the law appears to be designed to keep such people from voting. In Washington, a new law prevents people from voting if the secretary of state fails to match the information on their registration form with government databases. There are many reasons that names, Social Security numbers and other data may not match, including typing mistakes. The state is supposed to contact people whose data does not match, but the process is too tilted against voters. Colorado recently imposed criminal penalties on volunteers who slip up in registration drives. Protecting the integrity of voting is important, but many of these rules seem motivated by a partisan desire to suppress the vote, and particular kinds of voters, rather than to make sure that those who are entitled to vote [can] do so.
U.S. corporations are sitting on huge stockpiles of cash
May 28, 2006, Seattle Post-Intelligencer/Associated Press
Imagine the dilemma of having so much cash in your bank account that you didn't know what to do with it. This pipe dream for the average American is now reality for the country's biggest corporations. The industrial companies that make up the Standard & Poor's 500 index...have a staggering $643 billion in cash and equivalents. "We're in a time that is out of whack with all historical numbers,'' said Howard Silverblatt, equity market analyst at Standard & Poor's. "People are demanding why corporations need so much cash, what are they going to do with it?" Companies began propping up their reserves through 16 straight quarters of double-digit profit growth. Leading the pack with the most cash is Exxon Mobil Corp., which has about $36.55 billion on its balance sheet. That amount is nearly equal to its 2005 profit of $36.13 billion, the highest ever for a U.S. company. Some results of the cash riches: An unprecedented $500 billion of stock buybacks. Last year, ExxonMobil spent $18.2 billion buying its shares. One of the biggest avenues in which companies have spent this excess money has been through mergers and acquisitions. Some 75.4 percent of all deals under $1 billion so far this year were done purely with cash.
Note: A Google search reveals that though this Associated Press article was widely picked up by medium-sized newspapers in the U.S., none of the top 10 papers picked it up. The Seattle newspaper above also removed the work "huge" from the title after it was published. $36 billion means that more than $100 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. went into ExxonMobil profits last year, and another $100 for each person went into their cash reserves. If ExxonMobil and other oil companies have so much extra cash, why are gas prices so high? It's also quite interesting that the advertisements of these mega-corporations continually invite us to go into debt buying their products, while their profits and cash reserves grow ever higher.
Nevada blast put on hold indefinitely
May 27, 2006, CNN
The planned detonation of 700 tons of conventional explosives in the Nevada desert next month was postponed indefinitely Friday because of fears over the possible spread of radiation. The detonation site for the blast, known as "Divine Strake," is at the Nevada Test Site, which is 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The plan was to detonate 1.4 million pounds of fuel oil and fertilizer -- 280 times the amount used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The prospect has drawn critics, who say the explosion could kick radiation-laced soil into the air, and conspiracists, who say the blast is a front for testing new nuclear weapons.
Note: Many thanks to all of you who emailed expressing concern about Divine Strake and were part of the movement to have this test stopped. Together, we make a difference!
Psychiatric drugs fare favorably when companies pay for studies
May 24, 2006, USA Today
Drug companies fund a growing number of the studies in leading psychiatric journals, and drugs fare much better in these company-funded studies than in trials done independently or by competitors, researchers reported Wednesday. About 57% of published studies were paid for by drug companies in 2002, compared with 25% in 1992, says psychiatrist Igor Galynker of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. His team looked at clinical research in four influential journals: American Journal of Psychiatry, Archives of General Psychiatry, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. In the report, released at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Toronto, reviewers did not know who paid for the studies they evaluated, Galynker says. There were favorable outcomes for a medication in about:
• Eight out of 10 studies paid for by the company that makes the drug.
• Five out of 10 studies done with no industry support.
• Three out of 10 studies done by competitors of the firm making the drug.
As drug companies increasingly fund research that yields favorable outcomes for their drugs, there may be a built-in bias because journals are reluctant to publish studies with negative or inconclusive findings.
Note: To learn more about the astonishing profits and power of the major drug companies, read our concise summary of a major insider's research at https://www.WantToKnow.info/health/health-corruption
Special Note: The School of the Americas provides military training for Central and South American military leaders in counter-insurgency tactics at Fort Benning, Georgia. Many who trained there have gone on to use what they learned to brutally repress anyone who spoke out against their dictatorial governments. Graduates have been directly involved in the murders of American nuns, a Catholic archbishop, and many others. To learn about this controversial school and why there is a movement to close it, see a revealing 13-minute documentary at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13436.htm. For what you can do: http://www.soaw.org
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Supreme Court Restricts Free Speech, Oil Chief's $357 Million Retirement, Lobbying Judges, State Secrets