Assault on Press Freedom, Whistleblowers Fired, Happiness Research, GM Food
Revealing News Articles
November 27, 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 assault on press freedom in the U.S., whistleblowers being punished, inspiring happiness research, GM (Genetically Modified) food, and more. Thanks to USA Today for the excellent series on whistleblowers! 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.
Assault on Press Freedom
November 26, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
In a nation that preaches the virtues of democracy, the United States government has consistently eroded the media's ability to report. U.S. press freedom has been slipping away since Sept. 11, 2001. Many other countries are now ranked freer than the United States. In the most recent survey by Freedom House [the U.S.] tied for 17th place. International free-press advocates Reporters Without Borders ranked us 53rd, tied with Botswana, Croatia and Tonga. Now that we are in a seemingly permanent "war" on terrorism, the government claims wartime powers that result in restricting press freedom. The Bush administration has multiplied exponentially the number of documents it classifies as secret. The office of Vice President Dick Cheney claims to be exempt from reporting even the numbers of records it brands with the "classified" stamp. Within weeks after 9/11, President Bush issued Executive Order 13233, allowing him to veto public release not only of his own presidential papers but those of former [presidents]. One of former Attorney General John Ashcroft's first post-Sept. 11 acts was to issue a directive to federal agencies restricting access to government records under the Freedom of Information Act. Cheney [refused] to disclose even the identity of the corporate executives he met with to determine the administration's energy policy. The U.S. Supreme Court held ... that there is no such thing as a First Amendment right of access to government information or facilities. The Bush administration did not advance press freedom by producing ... favorable "news" stories with fake reporters. It is hard to stomach the hypocrisy of claiming to spread democracy abroad while restricting at home the very freedoms that make democracy possible.
Researchers Seek Routes to Happier Life
November 26, 2006, Washington Post/Associated Press
As a motivational speaker and executive coach, Caroline Adams Miller knows a few things about using mental exercises to achieve goals. But last year, one exercise she was asked to try took her by surprise. Every night, she was to think of three good things that happened that day and analyze why they occurred. That was supposed to increase her overall happiness. "I thought it was too simple to be effective," said Miller. "I went to Harvard. I'm used to things being complicated." Miller was assigned the task as homework in a master's degree program. "The quality of my dreams has changed, I never have trouble falling asleep and I do feel happier." Miller said the exercise made her notice more good things in her day, and that now she routinely lists 10 or 20 of them rather than just three. That exercise is one of several that have shown preliminary promise in recent research into how people can make themselves happier – not just for a day or two, but long-term. There has been very little research in how people become happier. The big reason ... is that many researchers have considered that quest to be futile. But recent long-term studies have revealed that the happiness thermostat is more malleable than the popular theory maintained. One new study ... followed thousands of Germans for 17 years. About a quarter changed significantly over that time in their basic level of satisfaction with life. Another approach under study now is having people work on savoring the pleasing things in their lives like a warm shower or a good breakfast. Another promising approach is having people write down what they want to be remembered for, to help them bring their daily activities in line with what's really important to them.
Genetically Engineered Rice Wins USDA Approval
November 25, 2006, Washington Post
The Department of Agriculture declared safe for human consumption yesterday an experimental variety of genetically engineered rice found to have contaminated the U.S. rice supply this summer. The move ... to deregulate the special long-grain rice, LL601, was seen as a legal boon to its creator, Bayer CropScience. The company applied for approval shortly after the widespread contamination was disclosed in August and now faces a class-action lawsuit filed by hundreds of farmers in Arkansas and Missouri. The experimental rice ... escaped from Bayer's test plots after the company dropped the project in 2001. The resulting contamination, once it became public, prompted countries around the world to block rice imports from the United States, sending rice futures plummeting and farmers into fits. In approving the rice, the USDA allowed Bayer to take a regulatory shortcut and skip many of the usual safety tests. Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, said the quick approval shows that the USDA is more concerned about the fortunes of the biotechnology industry than about consumers' health. "USDA is telling agricultural biotechnology companies that it doesn't matter if you're negligent, if you break the rules, if you contaminate the food supply with untested genetically engineered crops, we'll bail you out," Mendelson said in a statement. Officials in Europe, where genetically altered rice is derisively dubbed "Frankenfood," made clear as recently as last week that European countries will not accept any U.S. rice, he said.
Note: For reliable information on the deception and dangers of GM (Genetically Modified) food, click here.
Under the Radar, a Montauk Park
November 24, 2006, New York Times
A sprawling waterfront state park known as Camp Hero [is situated] in Montauk on Long Island. Conspiracy theorists have long claimed that the park has been the site of sci-fi worthy events, including rifts in the time-space continuum [and] mind-control experiments. Such unsubstantiated reports were in large part ignited by a 1992 book, "The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time," by Preston B. Nichols with Peter Moon.. "All of the rumors, that's part of why we came here," said Patrick Wenk, 26, of Stony Brook, N.Y., who was visiting one chilly autumn afternoon. His girlfriend, Sarah Holub, 25, [said] it was her friends who piqued her initial interest in the park by telling her about the conspiracy theories and rumors of paranormal occurrences. A search on Google revealed several Web sites that elaborated on the theories and suggested that Camp Hero was the site of time-travel experiments that picked up where the Philadelphia Experiment – in which a 1940s Navy ship and crew were said to have been made invisible and teleported from Philadelphia to Norfolk, Va. – left off. when Ms. Holub shared a story about her friends being in Camp Hero at night only to have all their flashlights go dead simultaneously, we both laughed. Yet I was experiencing some technical difficulties of my own. My reliable digital camera was on the fritz. I changed the batteries. I played with the lens. It would not take a photograph. I slipped it into my coat pocket to fiddle with later and continued my hike.
Note: Though it's difficult to find reliable information on these matters, those with an open mind and a desire to know might appreciate spending some time exploring the links above.
Whistle-blowers tell of cost of conscience
November 24, 2006, USA Today
In 2002, decorated FBI Special Agent Mike German was investigating meetings between terrorism suspects. When he discovered other officers had jeopardized the investigation by violating wiretapping regulations, he reported what he found to his supervisors. German says he had ... just received a mass e-mail from FBI Director Robert Mueller, urging other whistle-blowers to come forward. "I was assuming he'd protect me," German says. Instead ... his accusations were ignored, his reputation ruined and his career obliterated. Although the Justice Department's inspector general confirmed German's allegations ... he says he was barred from further undercover work and eventually compelled to resign. The experience is familiar to other government employees who have blown the whistle on matters of national security since 9/11. An increasing number of whistle-blowers allege that rather than being embraced, they're being retaliated against for coming forward. Those who come forward often face harassment, investigation, character assassination and firing. For those who are fired ... there is little recourse. Most national security whistle-blowers are not protected from retaliation by law. That's because the intelligence-gathering agencies are exempted from the 1989 whistle-blower Protection Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled against whistle-blowers in 125 of 127 of the reprisal cases seen by the court since 1994. Many had been star employees at the top of the pay scale and had spent decades in civil service. "I'm one of the last people who survived," says [Coleen] Rowley, the former FBI whistle-blower and Time magazine "Person of the Year." She says widespread, favorable media coverage saved her FBI career.
'They treat a whistle-blower like a virus'
November 24, 2006, USA Today
Most people first heard about Russell Tice last December when the former National Security Agency intelligence analyst asked to testify before Congress about NSA programs he claims are illegal. But his confrontation with his employer began much earlier. In 2001, Tice reported suspicions that an employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which oversees the NSA and other intelligence-gathering agencies, was spying for China. When he followed up on the allegations several years later, Tice was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation. Although he had passed his regular exam nine months earlier, the in-house psychologist conducting the latest evaluation decided Tice had psychotic paranoia. After almost 20 years in intelligence, Tice's security clearance was revoked. He was transferred to a maintenance position at the NSA vehicle pool, and then to a government furniture warehouse. Just days after publicly urging Congress to pass stronger protections for federal intelligence agency whistle-blowers facing retaliation, he was fired in May 2005. "They treat a whistle-blower like a virus which they basically surround with buffers in an attempt to marginalize, isolate and prevent from having an impact on an organization," says Tice's lawyer, Joshua Dratel.
'State secrets privilege' blocks fired translator from suing FBI
November 24, 2006, USA Today
Sibel Edmonds, who formed the 100-plus member National Security whistle-blowers Coalition in 2002, began working as a linguist for the FBI the week after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Several months into her contract, she discovered "shoddy" translations relevant to 9/11 created by translators who had "failed the proficiency exams." Edmonds says the translator was sent to Guantanamo Bay to translate "the most sensitive terrorist-related information" from interviews of detainees. Edmonds also notified her superiors that a co-worker was responsible for translating wiretaps of a company the latter used to work for. [Edmonds] was fired in March 2002. When Edmonds asked why, she received a letter saying her contract had been "terminated completely for the government's convenience." In its final report, the inspector general concluded that "we believe that many of (Edmonds') allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services." The same month the report was released, Edmonds' lawsuit to contest her firing was dismissed. Legal briefs show the government had invoked the so-called state secrets privilege, arguing that the lawsuit would jeopardize national security. "Instead of protecting and standing up for whistle-blowers, this is just giving the complete green light to retaliate," says Edmonds, who lost her appeal.
Note: This article fails to mention that Edmonds has repeatedly stated in public forums and in the press that she has specific information on the involvement of certain high officials in 9/11. For more on this vital topic, click here.
Ex-employee says FAA warned before 9/11
November 24, 2006, USA Today
From 1995 to 2001, Bogdan Dzakovic served as a team leader on the Federal Aviation Administration's Red Team. Set up by Congress to help the FAA ... the elite squad tested airport security systems. In the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Dzakovic says, the team was able to breach security about 90% of the time, sneaking bombs and submachine guns past airport screeners. Expensive new bomb detection machines consistently failed. The team repeatedly warned the FAA of the potential for security breaches and hijackings but was told to cover up its findings. Eventually, the FAA began notifying airports in advance when the Red Team would be doing its undercover testing. He and other Red Team members approached the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General, the General Accounting Office and members of Congress about the FAA's alleged misconduct. No one did anything. "Immediately (after 9/11), numerous government officials from FAA as well as other government agencies made defensive statements such as, 'How could we have known this was going to happen?' " Dzakovic testified later before the 9/11 Commission. After filing [a] complaint, Dzakovic was removed from his Red Team leadership position. He now works for the Transportation Security Administration. His primary assignments include tasks such as hole-punching, updating agency phonebooks and "thumb-twiddling." At least he hasn't received a pay cut, he says. He makes about $110,000 a year for what he describes as "entry-level idiot work."
When Votes Disappear
November 24, 2006, New York Times
There were many problems with voting in this election. In at least one Congressional race, the evidence strongly suggests that paperless voting machines failed to count thousands of votes, and that the disappearance of these votes delivered the race to the wrong candidate. [In] Florida's 13th Congressional District .. according to the official vote count, the Republicans [won] narrowly. The problem is that the official vote count isn't credible. In much of the 13th District, the voting pattern looks normal. But in Sarasota County, which used touch-screen voting machines ... almost 18,000 voters – nearly 15 percent of those who cast ballots using the machines – supposedly failed to vote for either candidate in the hotly contested Congressional race. That compares with undervote rates ranging from 2.2 to 5.3 percent in neighboring counties. The Herald-Tribune of Sarasota ... interviewed hundreds of voters. About a third of those interviewed by the paper reported that they couldn't even find the Congressional race on the screen. Moreover, more than 60 percent of those interviewed ... reported that they did cast a vote in the Congressional race – but that this vote didn't show up on the ballot summary page. An Orlando Sentinel examination of other votes cast by those who supposedly failed to cast a vote ... shows that they strongly favored Democrats, and Mr. Buchanan won the official count by only 369 votes. For the nation as a whole, the important thing isn't who gets seated to represent Florida's 13th District. It's whether the voting disaster there leads to legislation requiring voter verification and a paper trail. I've been shocked at how little national attention the mess in Sarasota has received.
Drug Industry Is on Defensive as Power Shifts
November 24, 2006, New York Times
Hoping to prevent Congress from letting the government negotiate lower drug prices for millions of older Americans on Medicare, the pharmaceutical companies have been recruiting Democratic lobbyists [and] lining up allies in the Bush administration and Congress. Many drug company lobbyists concede that the House is likely to pass a bill intended to drive down drug prices, but they are determined to block such legislation in the Senate. If that strategy fails, they are counting on President Bush to veto any bill that passes. With 49 Republicans in the Senate next year, the industry is confident that it can round up the 34 votes normally needed to uphold a veto. They began developing strategy last week at a meeting of the board of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Billy Tauzin, president of that group [and] a former congressman...met with Senator Byron L. Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat who has been trying for six years to allow drug imports from Canada. The industry vehemently opposes such legislation. The 2003 Medicare law prohibits the federal government from negotiating drug prices or establishing a list of preferred drugs. Drug makers have not set a budget for their campaign. They and their trade groups already spend some $100 million a year on lobbying in Washington. Representative Frank Pallone Jr., Democrat of New Jersey [said] "The 2003 Medicare law was essentially written by the drug industry." Drug companies may be open to some changes in the Medicare drug benefit, but they say they cannot accept any form of price negotiation.
Note: For lots of verifiable information on the power of the drug industry to corrupt Congress, click here.
Animal identification won't be mandatory
November 22, 2006, USA Today/Associated Press
Farmers and ranchers won't be forced to register their cows, pigs and chickens in a nationwide database aimed at helping track the outbreak of disease, the Bush administration said Wednesday. Hoping to dampen widespread opposition to the animal tracking program, the Agriculture Department has decided it should remain voluntary. First promised in response to the discovery of mad cow disease in this country, the tracking system would pinpoint an animal's movements within 48 hours after a disease was discovered. Investigators never found all 80 of the cattle that came to the U.S. from Canada with the infected dairy cow that became the country's first case of mad cow disease in 2003. Many cattle ranchers are wary of the program because they want records kept confidential and don't want to pay for the system. The industry estimates it could cost more than $100 million annually.
Did the CIA kill Bobby Kennedy?
November 20, 2006, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
In 1968, Robert Kennedy seemed likely to follow his brother, John, into the White House. Then, on June 6, he was assassinated - apparently by a lone gunman. But Shane O'Sullivan says he has evidence implicating three CIA agents in the murder: On June 5 1968, Robert Kennedy wins the California Democratic primary. After midnight, he finishes his victory speech at the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles ... in a crowded pantry when 24-year-old Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan steps down from a tray-stacker with a "sick, villainous smile" on his face and starts firing at Kennedy with an eight-shot revolver. As Kennedy lies dying on the pantry floor, Sirhan is arrested as the lone assassin. He carries the motive in his shirt-pocket (a clipping about Kennedy's plans to sell bombers to Israel). But the autopsy report suggests Sirhan could not have fired the shots that killed Kennedy. And more bullet-holes are found in the pantry than Sirhan's gun can hold, suggesting a second gunman. Three years ago, I started writing a screenplay about the assassination [and was] caught up in a strange tale of second guns and "Manchurian candidates" (as the movie termed brainwashed assassins). As I researched the case, I uncovered new video and photographic evidence suggesting that three senior CIA operatives were behind the killing. Morales died of a heart attack in 1978, weeks before he was to be called before the HSCA [House Select Committee on Assassinations]. Joannides died in 1990. Campbell may still be out there somewhere, in his early 80s. Given the positive identifications we have gathered on these three, the CIA and the Los Angeles Police Department need to explain what they were doing there.
CDC Shifts Vaccine-Data Focus
November 1, 2006, Washington Post
Federal health officials have decided to forgo gathering detailed data on whether children in 22 big cities are receiving recommended immunizations and instead will survey teenagers, who are the target of several new vaccines. The decision is drawing protests from local health officials, who say the soon-to-be-lost information is essential to their efforts to make sure that infants and toddlers, many from poor families, are protected against childhood infections. Each year, the CDC contracts a polling company to get data on vaccination rates in various age, demographic and income groups nationwide. "We need to know if the new vaccine has helped, or had no change, or hurt [coverage], and we cannot really make those judgments without the NIS data," [one health official] said. CDC officials said they are redirecting about $3 million to survey adolescents. The only way to pay for the 22-city sampling would be to use money now used to help states buy vaccine, they added. The decision comes at a time when the government is spending record amounts on public health. The CDC's budget has risen 42 percent since 2001 and is now $8.73 billion.
Note: This unusual decision makes sense if you consider that the powerful pharmaceutical industry doesn't want tracking on toddler vaccinations, as it may show what they have long denied -- that there is a link between autism and childhood vaccinations. The mercury-derivative Thimerosal was largely taken out of children's vaccinations just a few years ago. The much-awaited data needed to prove or disprove a link will now be more difficult to obtain.
E-mail users warned over spy network
May 29, 2001, BBC News
Computer users across Europe should encrypt all their e-mails, to avoid being spied on by a UK-US eavesdropping network, say Euro-MPs. The tentacles of the Echelon network stretch so far that the UK's involvement could constitute a breach of human rights, they say. The Euro-MPs have been studying Echelon for almost a year, after allegations that it has been used by the US to commit industrial espionage against European firms. They conclude that Echelon - whose existence is not officially acknowledged - is reading millions of e-mails and faxes sent every day by ordinary people. The US has denied the system even exists, and the UK refuses to give details, except to say that communications interception is a vital tool in the fight against "dangers to society". The Echelon operation is based at Fort Meade in Maryland, America, and at the UK's spy centre, GCHQ in Cheltenham.
Note: For another revealing BBC News report on Echelon, click here.
Special Note: For those interested in UFOs, click here to view an intriguing four-minute video free on Google.
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Assault on Press Freedom, Whistleblowers Punished, Happiness Research, GM Food Dangers