N.S.A. Surveillance, U.S. Arms Sales,
Politicization of Science
Revealing News Articles
August 2, 2007
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on sweeping surveillance by the National Security Agency (N.S.A.), the politicization of government science, U.S. arms sales to the Middle East, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. 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.
NSA Spying Part of Broader Effort
August 1, 2007, Washington Post
The Bush administration's chief intelligence official said yesterday that President Bush authorized a series of secret surveillance activities under a single executive order in late 2001. The disclosure makes clear that a controversial National Security Agency program was part of a much broader operation than the president previously described. The disclosure by Mike McConnell [is] the first time that the administration has publicly acknowledged that Bush's order included undisclosed activities beyond the warrantless surveillance of e-mails and phone calls that Bush confirmed in December 2005. McConnell [disclosed] that the executive order following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks included "a number of . . . intelligence activities" and that a name routinely used by the administration -- the Terrorist Surveillance Program -- applied only to "one particular aspect of these activities, and nothing more. This is the only aspect of the NSA activities that can be discussed publicly, because it is the only aspect of those various activities whose existence has been officially acknowledged." News reports ... have detailed a range of activities linked to the program, including the use of data mining to identify surveillance targets and the participation of telecommunication companies in turning over millions of phone records. Kate Martin ... of the Center for National Security Studies, said the new disclosures show that ... administration officials have "repeatedly misled the Congress and the American public" about the extent of NSA surveillance efforts. "They have repeatedly tried to give the false impression that the surveillance was narrow and justified," Martin said. "Why did it take accusations of perjury before the DNI disclosed that there is indeed other, presumably broader and more questionable, surveillance?"
A Push to Rewrite Wiretap Law
August 1, 2007, Washington Post
The Bush administration is pressing Congress this week for the authority to intercept, without a court order, any international phone call or e-mail between a surveillance target outside the United States and any person in the United States. It would also give the attorney general sole authority to order the interception of communications for up to one year as long as he certifies that the surveillance is directed at a person outside the United States. Civil liberties and privacy groups have denounced the administration's proposal, which they say would effectively allow the National Security Agency to revive a warrantless surveillance program conducted in secret from 2001 until late 2005. They say it would also give the government authority to force carriers to turn over any international communications into and out of the United States without a court order. An unstated facet of the program is that anyone the foreigner is calling inside the United States, as long as that person is not the primary target, would also be wiretapped. Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office [said], "What the administration is really going after is the Americans. Even if the primary target is overseas, they want to be able to wiretap Americans without a warrant." The proposal would also allow the NSA to ... have access to the entire stream of communications without the phone company sorting, said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies. "It's a 'trust us' system," she said. "Give us access and trust us."
It's time to check the balance of power
July 29, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Since 9/11, President Bush's repeated assaults on the Constitution and celebration of international lawlessness ... have needlessly made Americans less safe. The president, for example, has flouted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in intercepting the conversations and e-mails of American citizens on American soil on his say-so alone. He has claimed authority to break into and enter our homes, open our mail and commit torture. He has insisted that the entire United States is a battlefield -- even pizza parlors -- where lethal military force may be employed to kill ... suspects with bombs or missiles. He has detained citizens and noncitizens alike as enemy combatants based on secret evidence. And he has insisted that he is constitutionally empowered to keep U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely. Congress should restore the Constitution's checks and balances and protections against government abuses. The most frightening of Bush's abuses travels under the banner of "extraordinary rendition." In its name, Bush has kidnapped, secretly imprisoned, and tortured. The practice is what would be expected of dictators such as the Soviet Union's Joseph Stalin or Iraq's Saddam Hussein. The detainees are held incommunicado without accusation or trial. No judge reviews the allegedly incriminating evidence. No law restricts interrogation methods or the conditions of confinement. And the innocent are left without recourse as "collateral damage" in Bush's ... global [war on terrorism].
Note: The author, Bruce Fein, served as Associate Attorney General under President Reagan.
Politics reportedly stifled health report
July 29, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle/Washington Post
A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments. The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. Its publication was blocked by William Steiger, a specialist in education and a scholar of Latin American history whose family has long ties to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Since 2001, Steiger has run the Office of Global Health Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services. Richard Carmona, who commissioned the "Call to Action on Global Health" while serving as surgeon general from 2002 to 2006, recently cited its suppression as an example of the Bush administration's frequent efforts during his tenure to give scientific documents a political twist. Carmona told lawmakers that, as he fought to release the document, he was "called in and again admonished ... via a senior official who said, 'You don't get it. This will be a political document, or it will not be released.' " A few days before the end of his term as the nation's senior medical officer, he was abruptly told he would not be reappointed.
White House To Push Mideast Arms Sales
July 28, 2007, CBS News/Associated Press
The Bush administration will ask Congress to expand multibillion-dollar aid and weapons sales packages to friendly nations in the Middle East. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will announce proposed extensions and enlargements of foreign aid to Israel and Egypt, and a proposed arms sales package to Persian Gulf nations including Saudi Arabia. The Israeli and Egyptian proposals would lock in U.S. commitments for the next 10 years. The total for Israel would rise from $2.4 billion to about $3 billion a year, and Egypt would continue to receive $1.3 billion a year. The Bush administration also wants Congress to give their stamp of approval to an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia. Overall, the aid and arms packages would total $20 billion ... which is double what officials first estimated when details first became public this past spring. Terrorism expert Sajjan Gohel says the Saudi arms sale might not be a good idea. "It shows that the Bush administration isn't looking really at the long-term, but seems to be ... concerned about trying to secure oil reserves and deposits in Saudi Arabia," Gohel said.
Note: For decades Israel, with a population now of just over 7 million, has been receiving U.S. tax dollars to the tune of over $300 per year for every man, woman, and child? The new proposal will increase that to over $400. This is more than 10 times what any other nation receives per capita. And what results has all of this aid brought? Click here for a 2002 Christian Science Monitor article which starts off "Since 1973, Israel has cost the United States about $1.6 trillion. If divided by today's population, that is more than $5,700 per person."
State Vote Machines Lose Test To Hackers
July 28, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper), Front Page
State-sanctioned teams of computer hackers were able to break through the security of virtually every model of California's voting machines and change results or take control of some of the systems' electronic functions, according to a University of California study. The researchers "were able to bypass physical and software security in every machine they tested,'' said Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who authorized the "top to bottom review" of every voting system certified by the state. Neither Bowen nor the investigators were willing to say exactly how vulnerable California elections are to computer hackers. The review included voting equipment from every company approved for use in the state. Bowen said ... that the report is only one piece of information she will use to decide which voting systems are secure enough to use in February's presidential primary election.
Note: For more reliable, verifiable information on the problems with new electronic voting machines, click here.
Bechtel meets goals on fewer than half of its Iraq rebuilding projects
July 26, 2007, International Herald Tribune
One of the largest American contractors working in Iraq, Bechtel National, met its original objectives on fewer than half of the projects it received as part of a $1.8 billion reconstruction contract, while most of the rest were canceled, reduced in scope or never completed as designed. But the report, by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent agency, places a large share of the blame for the failures on the government overseers at the United States Agency for International Development who administered the contract. [USAID] assigned just two people in Iraq to oversee the giant contract, which included some 24 major projects and 150 subcontractors and stipulated that all invoices be approved or denied in just 10 days. The report is the first of a planned series of audits of Western contractors that have received large slices of the roughly $40 billion in American taxpayer money that has been spent on the troubled program to rebuild Iraq. Stuart Bowen Jr., who heads the special inspector general's office, said the United States government clearly shared responsibility with the company for the project failures. "I would say there's fault on both sides," Bowen said in an interview Wednesday. He added that neither the aid agency nor the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which also oversaw aspects of the contract, ever came close to filling all their staff positions in Iraq. "This isn't so much an indictment of Bechtel as it is a criticism of the system," said Stephen Ellis, a vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense in Washington.
U.S. dropped Enron-like fraud probe
July 23, 2007, Sacramento Bee (Leading newspaper of California's capital city)
Two years into a fraud investigation, veteran federal prosecutor David Maguire told colleagues he'd uncovered one of the biggest cases of his career. Maguire described crimes "far worse" than those of Arthur Andersen, the accounting giant that collapsed in the wake of the Enron scandal. Among those in his sights: executives from a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment empire overseen by billionaire Warren Buffett. In May 2006, he felt strongly enough about his case that he prepared a draft indictment accusing executives from a Virginia insurer, Reciprocal of America, of concocting a series of secret deals to hide its losses from regulators. Although he didn't name anyone from Berkshire Hathaway's subsidiary, he described the company as a participant in the scheme. But Maguire never brought those charges. Months after preparing the draft, he was removed as the lead prosecutor on the case and reassigned. His replacement, a prosecutor who hadn't been involved in the case until then, soon announced that the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, General Reinsurance, would not be indicted. By April of this year, the entire investigation ... had fizzled. Former employees and policyholders of the Richmond-based insurer were astounded. Why had the Justice Department spent upward of $2 million to investigate the case only to decline to prosecute? Maguire and his team of investigators had secured two related guilty pleas, interviewed dozens of witnesses and gathered 7,000 boxes of documents. Tom Gober, a certified fraud examiner who worked on the case ... concluded that the Justice Department had buckled under pressure from defense lawyers. "It just stinks," he said. "You don't come in out of nowhere and in no time kill three years of sophisticated effort."
Chips: High Tech Aids or Tracking Tools?
July 22, 2007, ABC News/Associated Press
CityWatcher.com, a provider of surveillance equipment, attracted little notice itself until a year ago, when two of its employees had glass-encapsulated microchips with miniature antennas embedded in their forearms. The "chipping" of two workers with RFIDs radio frequency identification tags ... was merely a way of restricting access to ... sensitive data and images ... the company said. Innocuous? Maybe. But the news that Americans had, for the first time, been injected with electronic identifiers to perform their jobs fired up a debate over the proliferation of ever-more-precise tracking technologies and their ability to erode privacy in the digital age. To some, the ... notion of tagging people was Orwellian. Chipping, these critics said, might start with Alzheimer's patients or Army Rangers, but would eventually be suggested for convicts, then parolees, then sex offenders, then illegal aliens until one day, a majority of Americans, falling into one category or another, would find themselves electronically tagged. "It was scary that a government contractor that specialized in putting surveillance cameras on city streets was the first to incorporate this technology in the workplace," says Liz McIntyre, co-author of Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID. Within days of the company's announcement, civil libertarians and Christian conservatives joined to excoriate the microchip's implantation in people.
Note: For educated speculation on how certain powerful people might like to have everyone implanted with microchips for security and control purposes, click here.
Intricate Toiling Found In Nooks of DNA Once Believed to Stand Idle
June 14, 2007, Washington Post
The first concerted effort to understand all the inner workings of the DNA molecule is overturning a host of long-held assumptions about the nature of genes and their role in human health and evolution, scientists reported yesterday. The new perspective reveals DNA to be not just a string of biological code but a dauntingly complex operating system that processes many more kinds of information than previously appreciated. The findings ... confirm growing suspicions that the stretches of "junk DNA" flanking hardworking genes are not junk at all. But the study goes further, indicating for the first time that the vast majority of the 3 billion "letters" of the human genetic code are busily toiling at an array of previously invisible tasks. The new work also overturns the conventional notion that genes are discrete packets of information arranged like beads on a thread of DNA. Instead, many genes overlap one another and share stretches of molecular code. The new picture of the inner workings of DNA probably will require some rethinking in the search for genetic patterns that dispose people to diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, the scientists said, but ultimately the findings are likely to speed the development of ways to prevent and treat a variety of illnesses. One implication is that many, and perhaps most, genetic diseases come from errors in the DNA between genes rather than within the genes, which have been the focus of molecular medicine. Complicating the picture, it turns out that genes and the DNA sequences that regulate their activity are often far apart along the six-foot-long strands of DNA.
Florida Man Invents Machine To Cure Cancer
February 27, 2007, WPFB-TV (ABC affiliate in Palm Beach, FL)
A Florida man with no medical training has invented a machine that he believes may lead to a cure for cancer. John Kanzius ... wondered if his background in physics and radio could come in handy in treating the disease from which he suffers himself. After 24 rounds of chemotherapy, the former broadcaster decided that he did not want to see others suffer trying to cure the disease. Kanzius said it was watching kids being treated that affected him the most. "Particularly, young children walk in with smiles, and then you'd see them three weeks later and their smiles had disappeared. I said to myself, 'We're in a barbaric type of medicine." Kanzius said his machine basically makes cells act like antennae to pick up a signal and self-destruct. Unlike current cancer treatment, Kanzius' machine does not use radiation, and unlike today's radio-frequency treatments, it's noninvasive. Now, some of the nation's most prominent doctors and scientists are using Kanzius' machines in their research. In January, researchers said they performed a breakthrough at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "The complete killing of pancreatic cells in laboratory conditions is encouraging," Dr. Steve Curley said. Kanzius explained that his machine uses a solution filled with nanoparticles, which measure no more than one-billionth of a meter. A test subject would be injected with either gold or carbon nanoparticles, which would make their way through the body and attach to the cancerous cells. The test subject would then enter the machine and receive a dose of radio frequency waves, theoretically heating and killing the cancerous cells in moments and leaving nearby cells untouched.
Touching Heaven and Hell
July 10, 2007, ABC News
Matthew Dovel says he calls himself "a hostile witness to heaven and hell." Dovel is one of the thousands of Americans who have reported what are called near-death experiences. Many people brought back from the brink of death swear they've been to heaven. Far fewer report visiting hell, but Dovel believes he's seen both. Dovel's first near-death experience happened when he was 12 years old and was trying to swim the entire length of a pool underwater. As he surfaced, his friends playfully pushed him back under. "I was completely out of breath," he said. "The instant that I took the breath of water in, a white light engulfed me. And I flashed back over my life. It was just all these good moments in my life. I was completely happy to be at this place." In that moment, Dovel says, a "beautiful creature" came out of the light. He said you've got to go back." Dovel had been rescued by his friends, but that glimpse into the afterlife left him confused and profoundly depressed. "A rage came over me and an uncontrollable anger towards God that I had to come back." The next decade became a constant cycle of booze and cocaine-fueled binges [ending in a suicide attempt]. Dovel's lifelong wish to return to heaven ... ended in a personal vision of hell. "It was extremely hot and very humid and dense," he said. The experience then became extremely painful not physically, but emotionally. "I'm living in my past," he said. "And all the people that I had met throughout my life, they would come to me and ... start pushing and screaming and I would relive a moment that I had caused them pain. This is something so horrific that when I came out of that, I quit a $1,000-a-week drug habit cold turkey." Dovel sobered up and devoted his life to suicide prevention through International Suicide Prevention, his nonprofit organization.
Note: To see an ABC News "20/20" report on Matthew Dovel's near-death experiences, click here.
Key Articles From Years Past
The boy who lived before
September 8, 2006, The Sun (highest circulation English-language daily)
Cameron Macaulay was a typical six-year-old, always talking about his mum and family. He liked to draw pictures of his home too – a long single-storey, white house standing in a bay. But it sent shivers down his mum's spine – because Cameron said it was somewhere they had never been, 160 miles away from where they lived. And he said the mother he was talking about was his "old mum." Convinced he had lived a previous life Cameron worried his former family would be missing him. [He] said they were on the Isle Of Barra. Mum Norma, 42, said: "Ever since Cameron could speak he's come up with tales of a childhood on Barra. He spoke about his former parents, how his dad died, and his brothers and sisters. Eventually we just had to take him there to see what we could find. It was an astonishing experience. Cameron wouldn't stop begging me to take him to Barra. It was constant. When we got to the island and DID land on a beach, just as Cameron had described, he turned to ... me and said, 'Now do you believe me?' He got off the plane, threw his arms in the air and yelled 'I'm back.'" The Macaulays booked into a hotel and began their search for clues to Cameron's past. Norma said: "We contacted the Heritage Centre and asked if they'd heard of a Robertson family who lived in a white house overlooking a bay." Next the family received a call from their hotel to confirm that a family called Robertson once had a white house on the bay. Norma explains: "We didn't tell Cameron anything. We just drove towards where we were told the house was and waited to see what would happen. He recognised it immediately and was overjoyed. But as we walked to the door all the colour drained from Cameron's face and he became very quiet."
Note: A powerful documentary on Cameron's story was broadcast on the U.K.'s Channel Five and can be viewed by clicking here.
Special Note: For the latest on 9/11 film producer Korey Rowe, click here. For those who support Representative Kucinich's effort to impeach Dick Cheney, click here. To watch a two-minute ABC news clip on how Michael Moore's work has saved the home of an American couple, click here. To read about Benjamin Fulford, a Forbes bureau chief for six years who uncovered some deep corruption, click here. For an intriguing six-minute video of a 16-year-old boy in India who meditated for six months under a tree without moving, click here. For lots more on this unusual young man, click here. For a very well researched, eye-opening article on the little-known history of the Bible and New Testament, click here. For those who are interested in a seven-page speculative summary of the big picture by WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks, click here.
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N.S.A. Surveillance, U.S. Arms Sales, Politicization of Science