Vaccine Mercury Ban Rejected, Big Oil Collusion, Manipulated Science, Campaign Loopholes
Revealing News Articles
December 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 a ban on mercury in vaccines being rejected, big oil collusion, manipulated science, elections campaign loopholes, 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.
Blowing the Whistle on Big Oil
December 3, 2006, New York Times
During a 22-year career, Bobby L. Maxwell routinely won accolades and awards as one of the Interior Department's best auditors in the nation's oil patch. "Mr. Maxwell's career has been characterized by exceptional performance and significant contributions," wrote Gale A. Norton, then the secretary of the interior, in a 2003 citation. Less than two years later, the Interior Department eliminated his job. That came exactly one week after a federal judge in Denver unsealed a lawsuit in which Mr. Maxwell contended that a major oil company had spent years cheating on royalty payments. Invoking a law that rewards private citizens who expose fraud against the government, Mr. Maxwell has filed a suit [which] contends that the Interior Department ignored audits indicating that Kerr-McGee was cheating. Maxwell says his first serious doubts about the Interior Department originated in 1998, when the agency reluctantly began to investigate accusations of systematic cheating on royalties for oil. Several of the nation's biggest oil companies eventually settled that investigation by paying nearly $440 million. Mr. Maxwell said, "There have always been people who don't want to pursue things. But now it's grown into a major illness." Broader investigations by Congress and the Interior Department's own inspector general [are investigating] whether the agency properly collects the money for oil and gas pumped from public land. The Interior Department's inspector general told a House subcommittee in September that senior officials at the agency had repeatedly glossed over ethical lapses. "Short of crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior," declared Earl E. Devaney, the inspector general.
Note: If you want to understand how corruption can grow and fester in large government agencies, this entire article is highly educational and revealing.
Security of electronic voting is condemned
December 1, 2006, MSNBC News/Washington Post
Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout ... much of the country "cannot be made secure," according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government's premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency. NIST said that voting systems should allow election officials to recount ballots independently from a voting machine's software. The recommendations endorse "optical-scan" systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts. NIST says in its report that the lack of a paper trail for each vote "is one of the main reasons behind continued questions about voting system security and diminished public confidence in elections." The report repeats the contention of the computer security community that "a single programmer could 'rig' a major election." NIST says that voting systems should not rely on a machine's software to provide a record of the votes cast. Some electronic voting system manufacturers have introduced models that include printers to produce a separate record of each vote -- and that can be verified by a voter before leaving the machine -- but such paper trails have had their own problems. Printers have jammed or otherwise failed, causing some election directors to question whether a paper trail is an improvement.
Note: Another federal advisory panel amazingly rejects requiring a paper trail days after the above report is released. To read the CBS News/AP article on this, click here.
A Texas-sized campaign loophole
November 29, 2006, Los Angeles Times
The Texas Ethics Commission affirmed this week that state officials could accept unlimited gifts of cash from donors without revealing how much they received. All public officials have to do is report a gift of currency and the source of the money. The legal interpretation shocked campaign finance watchdogs and some Texas officials, who argued that it was tantamount to legalizing bribery. "This creates a loophole big enough to drive an armored car full of cash through," said Craig McDonald, director of the nonprofit group Texans for Public Justice. "It makes a mockery of our ethics laws." Ronnie Earle, the Travis County district attorney leading the corruption prosecution of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, called the interpretation absurd in a letter to the panel. He joked that Texas officials could reveal receiving a gift of a wheelbarrow, "without reporting that the wheelbarrow was filled with cash."
Science a la Joe Camel
November 26, 2006, Washington Post
At hundreds of screenings this year of "An Inconvenient Truth," the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie. The producers of former vice president Al Gore's film about global warming ... certainly agreed. So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). It seemed like a no-brainer. In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that ... they didn't want to offer "political" endorsement of the film; and they saw "little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members" in accepting the free DVDs. As for classroom benefits, the movie has been enthusiastically endorsed by leading climate scientists worldwide, and is required viewing for all students in Norway and Sweden. But there was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters." One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp. That's the same Exxon Mobil that for more than a decade has done everything possible to muddle public understanding of global warming and stifle any serious effort to solve it. It has run ads in leading newspapers ... questioning the role of manmade emissions in global warming, and financed the work of a small band of scientific skeptics who have tried to challenge the consensus that heat-trapping pollution is drastically altering our atmosphere. NSTA says it has received $6 million from the company since 1996. Exxon Mobil has a representative on the group's corporate advisory board.
Oil industry denies price manipulation
November 26, 2006, BusinessWeek/Associated Press
An Associated Press analysis suggests that big oil companies have been crimping supplies ... across the country for years. The analysis, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, indicates that the industry slacked off supplying oil and gasoline during the prolonged price boom between early 1999 and last summer, when prices began to fall. The findings support a conclusion already reached by many motorists. Fifty-five percent of Americans believe gas prices are high because [of] oil companies. Though set back temporarily by the [9/11] attacks, the oil business has profited handsomely since then. The biggest six refiners ... rang up $400 billion in profits since 2001. Though reserves have kept pretty steady, the oil industry taps those resources to varying degrees from year to year. The industry has shelved an average of 21 percent more unrefined oil from the start of 2004 through last June. Last spring, stocks of shelved crude reached their highest level in eight years, despite the fabulous riches at hand in high prices then. The industry also protected profits by not building any new refineries. [And] thanks to mergers, the top 10 companies now control three-quarters of national refining capacity, up from half in the early 1990s. A 2001 study by the Federal Trade Commission reported that some firms were deciding to "maximize their profits" by crimping supply. One executive told regulators "he would rather sell less gasoline and earn a higher margin on each gallon sold." However upsetting to drivers, such tactics are usually viewed as legal. "A decision to limit supply does not violate the antitrust laws," regulators wrote in one FTC report.
FDA rejects new limits on mercury in vaccines
October 24, 2006, MSNBC/Associated Press
Federal health officials won't put new restrictions on the use of a mercury-based preservative in vaccines and other medicines. A group called the Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs petitioned the Food and Drug Administration in 2004 seeking the restrictions on thimerosal, citing concerns that the preservative is linked to autism. The FDA rejected the petition. Thimerosal, about 50 percent mercury by weight, has been used since the 1930s to kill microbes in vaccines. There have been suspicions that thimerosal causes autism. However, studies that tracked thousands of children consistently have found no association between the brain disorder and the mercury-based preservative. Critics contend the studies are flawed. Since 2001, all vaccines given to children 6 and younger have been either thimerosal-free or contained only trace amounts of the preservative. Thimerosal has been phased out of some, but not all, adult vaccines as well. Most doses of the flu vaccine still contain thimerosal. There also are minute amounts of mercury, as thimerosal or phenylmercuric acetate, in roughly 45 eye ointments, nasal sprays and nasal solutions, the FDA said.
Note: Why are they still using mercury in flu shots when it is not necessary? Heavy metals are well known to be toxic to the human body. The studies mentioned above are almost entirely funded by pharmaceutical interests and government bodies working with them. For lots more on this major cover-up, click here.
Brain sensor allows mind-control
July 12, 2006, BBC News
A sensor implanted in a paralysed man's brain has enabled him to control objects by using his thoughts alone. The experimental set-up allowed the man, who has no limb movement at all, to open e-mail ... and pinch a prosthetic hand's fingers. The US team behind the sensor hopes its technology can one day be incorporated into the body to restore the movement of paralysed limbs themselves. A team of scientists inserted the device, called a neuromotor prosthesis (NMP), into an area of the brain known as the motor cortex, which is responsible for voluntary movement. The NMP comprises an internal sensor that detects brain cell activity, and external processors that convert the activity into signals that can be recognised by a computer. Using the device, Mr Nagle was able to move a computer cursor to open an e-mail, play simple computer games, open and close a prosthetic hand, and use a robot limb to grasp and move objects. Mr Nagle said the sensor had restored some of his independence by allowing him to carry out a number of tasks - such as turning the lights on - that a nurse would normally do for him. He told the BBC: "I can't put it into words. It's just wild."
Halliburton operates in Iran despite sanctions
March 7, 2005, MSNBC
in January, Halliburton won a contract to drill at a huge Iranian gas field called Pars, which an Iranian government spokesman said "served the interests" of Iran. "I am baffled that any American company would want to have employees operating in Iran," says Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "I would think they'd be ashamed." Halliburton says the operation – videotaped by NBC News – is entirely legal. It's run by a subsidiary called "Halliburton Products and Services Limited," based outside the U.S. In fact, the law allows foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations to do business in Iran under strict conditions. Other U.S. oil services companies, like Weatherford and Baker Hughes, also are in Iran. And foreign subsidiaries of NBC's parent company, General Electric, have sold equipment to Iran. For Halliburton to have done this legally, the foreign subsidiary operating in Iran must be independent of the main operation in Texas. Yet, when an NBC producer approached managers in Iran, he was sent to company officials in Dubai. But they said only Halliburton headquarters in Houston could talk about operations in Iran.
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Vaccine Mercury Ban Rejected, Big Oil Collusion, Manipulated Science, Campaign Loopholes