U.S. Debt Up 150% in Six Years,
Slashing Drug Costs, New Year's Heroes
Revealing News Articles
January 6, 2007
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. national debt rising 150% since 2000, slashing drug costs, New Year's heroes, 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.
Journalist in legal battle with military
January 5, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
The questions from the civilian spokesman at Fort Lewis started sounding suspicious to Sarah Olson. He had called to ask the Oakland freelance journalist about the accuracy of quotes in her story about Lt. Ehren Watada, which had appeared on the liberal Web site Truthout.org. As the telephone conversation progressed, Olson realized that the military was using her to fortify its case against Watada, whom it was prosecuting as the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. While Watada faces a court-martial next month for conduct unbecoming an officer, the U.S. military pursues Olson. Last month, military prosecutors subpoenaed the 31-year-old writer and radio journalist, asking her to appear at his court-martial, scheduled to begin next month, to verify what Watada said. If Olson doesn't testify, she faces six months in jail or a $500 fine and a felony charge for a story she was paid $300 to write. Olson doesn't want to be part of a legal action that she believes limits someone's free speech. She came to journalism six years ago ... hoping to create more places for dissenting or seldom-heard voices, not fewer. "Journalists should not be asked to participate in the prosecution of political speech," Olson said. [She] isn't being asked to reveal unpublished work. "What I don't understand is why they (prosecutors) can't get this information digitally," said Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice. Olson doesn't have a problem with journalists testifying in court. She doesn't want journalists to be coerced to testify in cases that could limit free speech.
Note: Truthout.org is one of the main sources of our information. Interesting that one of their reporters should be targeted in this way. For stories by 20 award-winning journalists on how the media is controlled, click here.
ExxonMobil tried to mislead, scientists say
January 4, 2007, Boston Globe/Associated Press
ExxonMobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in an effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists asserted yesterday. The report by the advocacy group mirrors similar claims by Britain's leading scientific academy. Last September, The Royal Society wrote the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change." Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' strategy and policy director, said in a teleconference that ExxonMobil based its tactics on those of tobacco companies, spreading uncertainty by misrepresenting peer-reviewed scientific studies or emphasizing only selected facts. James McCarthy, a professor at Harvard University, said the company has sought to "create the illusion of a vigorous debate" about global warming.
Bush Claims Right to Open Mail
January 4, 2007, Washington Post
The New York Daily News today reports on a signing statement President Bush quietly issued two weeks ago, in which he asserts his right to open mail without a warrant. Signing statements have historically been used by presidents mostly to explain how they intend to enforce the laws passed by Congress; Bush has used them to quietly assert his right to ignore those laws. The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a 'signing statement' that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions. That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act ... explicitly reinforced protections of first-class mail from searches without a court's approval. Here is the signing statement in question. Here is information on the bill in question. Are these signing statements just a bunch of ideological bluster from overenthusiastic White House lawyers -- or are they actually emboldening administration officials to flout the laws passed by Congress? If the latter, Bush's unprecedented use of these statements constitutes a genuine Constitutional crisis.
3-year-old drops from fourth-floor window, is caught by man walking past
January 4, 2007, MSNBC News
A 3-year-old boy was caught by a passerby after falling from the fourth-floor window of an apartment in New York City Thursday, police said. The boy was caught by a 39-year-old man passing under the window. The boy was taken to hospital with just minor cuts and abrasions to his head and face. Brothers Julio Gonzalez and Pedro Navarez described to New York television news ... how they caught the child after spotting it hanging from a fire escape. "He was coming down pretty hard, so hard that when he landed in my arms my sneaker just flew right off and I fell down to the ground," Navarez told CBS 2 News. The brothers said the baby then bounced off Navarez's chest and into the arms of Gonzalez, who then also fell down. "We caught him and the boy's all right, thank God," Gonzalez said. "When I (initially) saw that baby I just ran. I wasn't thinking about anything, I was just thinking about catching that baby." When reporters asked New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly about the incident he said: "This is the week of heroes in New York." On Tuesday, New York construction worker Wesley Autrey jumped onto subway tracks to pin down a stricken stranger just in time to allow an oncoming train to pass over them.
Hero saves teen who fell on NYC subway tracks
January 3, 2007, MSNBC News/Associated Press
Wesley Autrey faced a harrowing choice as he tried to rescue a teenager who fell off a platform onto a subway track in front of an approaching train: Struggle to hoist him back up to the platform in time, or take a chance on finding safety under the train. At first, he tried to pull the young man up, but he was afraid he wouldn't make it in time and they would both be killed. "So I just chose to dive on top of him and pin him down," he said. Autrey and the teen landed in the drainage trough between the rails Tuesday as a southbound No. 1 train entered the 137th Street/City College station. Two cars passed over the men – with about 2 inches to spare, Autrey said. The troughs are typically about 12 inches deep but can be as shallow as 8 or as deep as 24, New York City Transit officials said. Relatives identified the teen as Cameron Hollopeter of Littleton, Mass., a student at the New York Film Academy. Autrey had been waiting for a train with his two young daughters. After the train stopped, he heard bystanders scream and yelled out: "We're OK down here, but I've got two daughters up there. Let them know their father's OK," The New York Times reported. While spectators cheered Autrey, hugged him and hailed him as a hero, he didn't see it that way. "I don't feel like I did something spectacular; I just saw someone who needed help," he told the Times. "I did what I felt was right."
Note: Don't miss the inspiring two-minute video clip of this incident at the link above. And for lots more highly inspiring stories and resources, click here.
Scientists find way to slash cost of drugs
January 2, 2007, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Two UK-based academics have devised a way to invent new medicines and get them to market at a fraction of the cost charged by big drug companies. Sunil Shaunak, professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College ... calls their revolutionary new model "ethical pharmaceuticals". Improvements they devise to the molecular structure of an existing, expensive drug turn it technically into a new medicine which is no longer under a 20-year patent to a multinational drug company and can be made and sold cheaply. The process has the potential to undermine the monopoly of the big drug companies and bring cheaper drugs not only to poor countries but back to the UK. Professor Shaunak and his colleague from the London School of Pharmacy, Steve Brocchini, have linked up with an Indian biotech company which will manufacture the first drug - for hepatitis C. Hepatitis C affects 170 million people worldwide and at least 200,000 in the UK. Multinational drug companies put the cost of the research and development of a new drug at $800m (£408m). Professors Shaunak and Brocchini say the cost of theirs will be only a few million pounds. Professor Shaunak says it is time that the monopoly on drug invention and production by multinational corporations - which charge high prices because they need to make big profits for their shareholders - was broken. The team's work on the hepatitis C drug has impeccable establishment credentials. But the professors' ethical pharmaceutical model is unlikely to find much favour with the multinational pharmaceutical companies, which already employ large teams of lawyers to defend the patents which they describe as the lifeblood of the industry.
Note: This is very exciting news, but we'll see what happens when the hugely profitable pharmaceutical industry presses its might against this effort. For more, click here.
In the sky! A bird? A plane? A ... UFO?
January 1, 2007, Chicago Tribune
A flying saucerlike object hovered low over O'Hare International Airport for several minutes before bolting through thick clouds with such intense energy that it left an eerie hole in overcast skies, said some United Airlines employees. A group of airline employees insist they are in earnest, and they are upset that neither their bosses nor the government will take them seriously. Officials at United professed no knowledge of the Nov. 7 event--which was reported to the airline by as many as a dozen of its own workers. The [FAA] said its air traffic control tower at O'Hare did receive a call from a United supervisor asking if controllers had spotted a mysterious elliptical-shaped craft sitting motionless over Concourse C of the United terminal. No controllers saw the object, and a preliminary check of radar found nothing out of the ordinary, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said. The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena ... was first seen by a United ramp worker who was directing back a United plane at Gate C17. The sighting occurred during daylight, about 4:30 p.m. All the witnesses said the object was dark gray and well defined in the overcast skies. They said the craft, estimated by different accounts to be 6 feet to 24 feet in diameter, did not display any lights. All agreed the object made no noise and it was at a fixed position in the sky, just below the 1,900-foot cloud deck, until shooting off into the clouds. A United mechanic who was in the cockpit of a Boeing 777 [said] "I know that what I saw and what a lot of other people saw stood out very clearly, and it definitely was not an [Earth] aircraft."
First, do no harm (to whites)
December 31, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
[Book Review of] Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present. Harriet Washington opens the door on the torture room in "Medical Apartheid". Experimental operations on the skulls of slave children, Washington writes, were a favorite pursuit of a particularly sadistic South Carolinian doctor named J. Marion Sims, widely revered today as the "father of gynecology." For years, Sims experimented on a group of slave women, to whom he refused anesthesia. The most notorious post-slavery racial crime of American medicine [was] the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972. More than 100 black subjects ... were denied treatment, even and especially after the discovery of penicillin in 1943. The research required that they suffer and die, the more slowly the better. Tuskegee was hardly unique. The Rockefeller Institute ... conducted a study in 1910 that saw 470 black syphilitics injected with a deadly strain of malaria. Black Americans were also disproportionately used ... as subjects in government inquiries into the effects of radiation. Washington's chilling history ends with contemporary case studies. At the Incarnation Children's Center in New York, Columbia University doctors continue to administer experimental AIDS drugs to minority orphans, even after many develop painful and debilitating reactions. As for current clinical trials in Africa, Washington describes the continent as the new "laboratory for the West," where unsuspecting patients regularly receive experimental therapies that might never receive state sanction in the United States or Europe.
Voting rights restored for thousands in state on probation
December 28, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
A state appeals court has restored voting rights to as many as 100,000 Californians who are in county jails on probation from felony convictions, and who were disenfranchised by the state a year ago, based on a new legal interpretation. That interpretation abruptly reversed the state's reading of the law for the previous 30 years, the court noted in last week's ruling. The state's top election official said he will not appeal. Most of those affected by the decision are young men, typically racial or ethnic minorities, who have committed nonviolent crimes, said Maya Harris, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and a lawyer in the case. "It sure is nice to have a win for democracy,'' she said after last week's ruling. In the 3-0 ruling, Justice William Stein also said the state constitutional provision at issue was passed by the voters in 1974 to lift some previous restrictions on the right to vote, and should be interpreted in favor of participation in elections.
Peat grows as new fuel source
December 26, 2006, Detroit News
Turning corn into fuel is all the rage these days as America attempts to reduce its oil dependency. But a team of Metro Detroit researchers has identified a potentially cheaper and more Earth-friendly fuel source: peat, that half-rotted vegetation that covers a considerable chunk of Michigan. The scientists, from University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University, are working to develop what they call "pethanol" to run small, fuel-cell-powered vehicles such as golf carts and riding mowers. Because peat forms naturally and requires no fertilization, it's a benefit over corn, the researchers say. "Corn's biggest problem is that you only get one crop a year," said John Shewchun, an adjunct chemistry and engineering professor at Wayne State. "Peat is dirt cheap (to harvest), and with it you've got something that is easily replenished." In lab tests, the pethanol has also powered a fuel cell without the use of hydrogen, which eliminates the need for hydrogen storage tanks in fuel-cell vehicles. Benvenuto, principal investigator on the project, said if peat works as a fuel, the researchers will look at duplicating its success with other hearty native Michigan plants. He said the answer is likely not one plant, but a variety of sources. "None of the three of us think this will solve America's energy dependence," Benvenuto said. "But it will help."
Government Accountability Office Report
December 15, 2006, Comptroller General of the United States
The Secretary of the Treasury ... is required annually to submit financial statements for the U.S. government to the President and the Congress. GAO is required to audit these statements. Certain material weaknesses in financial reporting and other limitations on the scope of our work resulted in conditions that continued to prevent us from expressing an opinion on the accompanying consolidated financial statements for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2006 and 2005. The federal government did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting. While we are unable to express an opinion ... the following key items deserve emphasis. The U.S. government's total reported liabilities, net social insurance commitments, and other fiscal exposures continue to grow and now total approximately $50 trillion, representing approximately four times the Nation's total output (GDP) in fiscal year 2006, up from about $20 trillion, or two times GDP in fiscal year 2000. The retirement of the"baby boom" generation is [also] closer to becoming a reality with the first wave of boomers eligible for early retirement under Social Security in 2008. It seems clear that the nation's current fiscal path is unsustainable and that tough choices by the President and the Congress are necessary in order to address the nation's large and growing long-term fiscal imbalance. Other material weaknesses were the federal government's inability to: determine the full extent to which improper payments exist; identify and resolve information security control weaknesses; and effectively manage its tax collection activities.
Note: The full 172-page report is available here. Why didn't any of the media cover this eye-opening report? Is the fact that the national debt has risen 150% since 2000 not news? For a possible answer, click here. To learn of the trillions of unaccounted for dollars in the military, click here.
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