Military Medical Ethics, Chips and Cancer,
Revealing News Articles
September 13, 2007
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the military medical ethics scandal at Guantanamo, the link between micro-chips and cancer, U.S. exports of dangerous products, 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.
Doctors accuse US of 'unethical practices' at Guantanamo Bay
September 7, 2007, Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
More than 260 doctors from around the world have launched an unprecedented attack on the American medical establishment for its failure to condemn unethical practices by medical practitioners at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. In a letter to The Lancet, the doctors from 16 countries, including Britain and America, say the failure of the US regulatory authorities to act is "damaging the reputation of US military medicine". They compare the actions of the military doctors, whom they accuse of being involved in the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and of turning a blind eye to evidence of torture in Iraq and elsewhere, to those of the South African security police involved in the death of the anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko 30 years ago. The group highlighted the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay last year and suggested the physicians involved should be referred to their professional bodies for breaching internationally accepted ethical guidelines. The doctors wrote: "No healthcare worker in the War on Terror has been charged or convicted of any significant offence despite numerous instances documented including fraudulent record-keeping on detainees who have died as a result of failed interrogations ... The attitude of the US military establishment appears to be one of 'See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil'." The US introduced the policy of force-feeding, in which prisoners are strapped to a chair and a tube is forced down the throat into the stomach, after more than 100 prisoners went on hunger strike in 2005. "Fundamental to doctors' responsibilities in attending a hunger striker is the recognition that prisoners have a right to refuse treatment," the doctors wrote.
Chip implants linked to animal tumors
September 9, 2007, Associated Press
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly. The FDA found "reasonable assurance" the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top "innovative technologies." But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats. "The transponders were the cause of the tumors," said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, explaining ... the findings of a 1996 study he led at the Dow Chemical Co. Leading cancer specialists reviewed the research for The Associated Press and ... said the findings troubled them. Some said they would not allow family members to receive implants, and all urged further research before the glass-encased transponders are widely implanted in people. To date, about 2,000 of the so-called radio frequency identification, or RFID, devices have been implanted in humans worldwide. Did the agency know of the tumor findings before approving the chip implants? The FDA declined repeated AP requests to specify what studies it reviewed. The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip's approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.
Note: For more reliable information about the use and dangers of microchips, click here.
Investigative Report: U.S. ships unsafe products
September 9, 2007, Sacramento Bee (leading newspaper of California's capital)
Ten days ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced another in a series of well-publicized recalls of Chinese-made goods: children's art sets containing crayons, markers, pastels, pencils, water colors -- and lead -- distributed by Toys "R" Us. "Consumers should immediately take the products away from children," warned a news release from the federal government's watchdog for thousands of household items. "The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families." But 13 months earlier, in July 2006, the CPSC ... authorized a Los Angeles company to export to Venezuela 16,520 art sets that violated the same CPSC standard protecting children from dangerous art supplies. The following month, the agency authorized a Miami company to export to Jamaica 5,184 sets of wax crayons that also violated the standard. For decades the federal agency has allowed American-based companies to export products deemed unsafe here. Those products can present an even greater danger in a country that has only a handful of government employees devoted to consumer protection, said R. David Pittle, a former acting CPSC chairman who spent 22 years as a senior vice president for Consumers Union. "If the United States doesn't have very many inspectors, how many do you think there are in Honduras or Jamaica or Trinidad or Bulgaria?" Pittle asked. Using the CPSC's database of exports of non-approved products and hundreds of pages of documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act, The Bee found that between October 1993 and September 2006, the CPSC received 1,031 requests from companies to export products the agency had found unsafe for American consumers. The CPSC approved 991 of those requests, or 96 percent.
It's all Friedman's doing
September 9, 2007, Toronto Star (Toronto's leading newspaper)
[Naomi Klein in her new book The Shock Doctrine] argues persuasively that over the last 40 years, no single thinker has shaped the economic and political policies of corporate CEOs, military dictators, presidents, prime ministers and bankers more than [Milton] Friedman. His thesis was simple: The job of governments is to facilitate the free flow of capital across national borders by removing any impediments to trade [and establishing] a drastic regimen of market deregulation, free trade treaties, spending cuts to social programs, the breaking of labour unions and mass privatization of publicly owned resources and industries ... chiefly through the careful manipulation of collective crises such as wars, military coups, natural disasters and economic recessions and depressions. For Friedman's ideas to be implemented, a nation's existing economy and civic society must first be reduced to a state of tabula rasa before being rebuilt according to the [Chicago School] model. [Klein contends] that this capitalist doctrine also has its roots in a series of mind-control experiments performed on often unwilling patients by psychiatrist Ewan Cameron, working out of McGill University in the late 1950s. He imposed a sustained regimen of sensory deprivation, isolation, enforced sleep and a cocktail of LSD, PCP, insulin and barbiturates [and] a barrage of electroshock therapy. The CIA, which paid for Cameron's experiments, modified these techniques for use in prisoner-interrogation sessions. The results were so good that the CIA taught the methods to the Latin American security forces in charge of reprogramming anyone who dared resist the devastating free market "reforms" that swept through South and Central America after Augusto Pinochet's successful, Chicago-School inspired (and CIA-sponsored) coup of populist leader Salvador Allende in 1973.
The shock doctrine
September 8, 2007, Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
[A]t the big Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana ... the news ... was that the Republican Congressman Richard Baker had told a group of lobbyists, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." Joseph Canizaro, one of New Orleans' wealthiest developers, had just expressed a similar sentiment: "I think we have a clean sheet to start again. And with that clean sheet we have some very big opportunities." All that week Baton Rouge had been crawling with corporate lobbyists helping to lock in those big opportunities: lower taxes, fewer regulations, cheaper workers and a "smaller, safer city" - which in practice meant plans to level the public housing projects. One of those who saw opportunity in the floodwaters of New Orleans was the late Milton Friedman, grand guru of unfettered capitalism and credited with writing the rulebook for the contemporary, hyper-mobile global economy. "Most New Orleans schools are in ruins," Friedman observed, "as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity." Friedman's radical idea was that instead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans' existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they could spend at private institutions. In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid brought back online, the auctioning-off of New Orleans' school system took place with military speed and precision. Within 19 months, with most of the city's poor residents still in exile, New Orleans' public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools.
Prisons Purging Books on Faith From Libraries
September 10, 2007, New York Times
Behind the walls of federal prisons nationwide, chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries. The chaplains were directed by the Bureau of Prisons to clear the shelves of any books, tapes, CDs and videos that are not on a list of approved resources. In some prisons, the chaplains have recently dismantled libraries that had thousands of texts collected over decades, bought by the prisons, or donated by churches and religious groups. Some inmates are outraged. Two of them, a Christian and an Orthodox Jew, in a federal prison camp in upstate New York, filed a class-action lawsuit last month claiming the bureau's actions violate their rights to the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bureau, an agency of the Justice Department, defended its effort, which it calls the Standardized Chapel Library Project, as a way of barring access to materials that could, in its words, "discriminate, disparage, advocate violence or radicalize." "It's swatting a fly with a sledgehammer," said Mark Earley, president of Prison Fellowship, a Christian group. "There's no need to get rid of literally hundreds of thousands of books that are fine simply because you have a problem with an isolated book or piece of literature that presents extremism." A chaplain who has worked more than 15 years in the prison system, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is a bureau employee, said: "At some of the penitentiaries, guys have been studying and reading for 20 years, and now they are told that this material doesn't meet some kind of criteria. It doesn't make sense to them."
Dirty Secret: Green Cars Automakers Won't Sell You
September, 2007, msn.com
On a recent run from Boston to Cape Cod, I test drove the 2008 Honda Accord, the latest version of this family favorite. The new Accord boasts an environmental first: a six-cylinder gasoline engine that's cleaner than many hybrid systems. There's only one catch: You can't actually buy this ultra-green Accord, or the four-cylinder version that also produces near-zero pollution. That is, unless you live in California, New York or six other northeast states that follow California's tougher pollution rules. Only there can you buy this Accord, or the roughly two dozen other models that meet so-called Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standards, PZEV for short. Not only can't you buy one, but the government says it's currently illegal for automakers to sell these green cars outside of the special states. Under terms of the Clean Air Act –- in the kind of delicious irony only our government can pull off -– anyone (dealer, consumer, automaker) involved in an out-of-bounds PZEV sale could be subject to civil fines of up to $27,500. Volvo sent its dealers a memo alerting them to this fact, noting that its greenest S40 and V50 models were only for the special states. So, just how green is a PZEV machine? Well, if you just cut your lawn with a gas mower, congratulations, you just put out more pollution in one hour than these cars do in 2,000 miles of driving. Grill a single juicy burger, and you've cooked up the same hydrocarbon emissions as a three-hour drive in a Ford Focus PZEV. As the California Air Resources Board has noted, the tailpipe emissions of these cars can be cleaner than the outside air in smoggy cities. PZEV models are already available from Toyota, Ford, Honda, GM, Subaru, Volvo and VW. But chances are, you've never heard of them.
Note: For many exciting articles about new, efficient and clean energy inventions, click here.
Radical banking: You shop locally -- why not bank locally too?
September 4, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Jessica ... lives what some might consider the perfect alternative lifestyle. She makes enough money to pay for rent and food (from the farmer's market) by teaching classes at the Solar Living Institute and selling her self-published zine about alternative fuel. She grows much of her own food and raises chickens and bees in her backyard. As a child, her family life centered around growing food and cooking meals together. Her parents never emphasized money. She hasn't strayed far from her upbringing. When asked about her views on money, she said: "It's better to be happy than to worry about your credit card bill or working a lot." One of the key points of being happy, for Jessica, is to bank at Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union. Jessica's made it a point to convert her friends to using credit unions, which are nonprofit banks. "I say to people: So you shop at a farmer's market. You use alternative fuel or bike or take public transportation. But you still bank at Bank of America?" She laughed at the paradox of the small-is-beautiful crowd supporting a global corporation. "With banks, it's a business and all your money goes to make someone you don't know rich -- but with credit unions, all the money goes back into the community," Jessica explained. "It's people banding together to share the abundance." Credit unions -- also called cooperative banks or people's banks -- have origins in Europe. They were first started by German farmers in the 1860s who felt private banks were charging unfair fees. These rural people pooled money together in order to make loans within their tight-knit community. In North America, the idea of credit unions was first embraced by Canadians. These days in the United States, there are over 8,000 credit unions; 536 of them are in California.
Note: To locate a credit union near you (in the United States), click here.
HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads
August 31, 2007, Washington Post
In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples. Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign. The ads ran instead with more friendly images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream scoops, to dramatize how breast-feeding could help avert respiratory problems and obesity. In a February 2004 letter (pdf), the lobbyists told then-HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson they were "grateful" for his staff's intervention to stop health officials from "scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding," and asked for help in scaling back more of the ads. The formula industry's intervention -- which did not block the ads but helped change their content -- is being scrutinized by Congress in the wake of last month's testimony by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the Bush administration repeatedly allowed political considerations to interfere with his efforts to promote public health. "This is a credible allegation of political interference that [may] have had serious public health consequences," said [Rep. Henry] Waxman, a California Democrat. The milder campaign HHS eventually used had no discernible impact on the nation's breast-feeding rate, which lags behind the rate in many European countries.
Special military group looks ahead to fight America's future wars
August 26, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
For half a century, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - a low-profile but vital division of the Defense Department - has ... been the force behind dozens of weapons, from the M-16 rifle and night-vision goggles to smart bombs and stealth aircraft. Now, DARPA is planning for a long war in which U.S. troops will be expected to face guerrilla adversaries. And just as during the Cold War, DARPA is counting on high-tech Silicon Valley to give U.S. forces the edge. More than 3,000 scientists, entrepreneurs and military leaders ... gathered in Anaheim ... for the agency's 50th anniversary conference. The agency is operating on a $3.1 billion budget, up 8 percent from fiscal 2006. Virtually every Silicon Valley company, from the obvious candidates like Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space to ... Google, has been touched in some way by DARPA. "Almost every great digital oak has a DARPA acorn at the bottom," said futurist Paul Saffo. During three days in Anaheim, DARPA and Pentagon officials made 60 presentations, painting a picture of a future in which the United States will have to spend $1 million on countermeasures for every dollar shelled out by bomb-building guerrillas like those U.S. forces are encountering in Iraq. But DARPA's high-tech dreams have their critics, who view its "visions" as boondoggles the nation can't afford. "I think it (DARPA) is basically a jobs program," said Chalmers Johnson, a retired University of California political scientist. Thomas Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map, one of the treatises that lay out the scenario for these asymmetrical wars that planners expect, [said] "The million-to-one (ratio) is unsustainable."
Green-tech startup says battery's time has passed
September 4, 2007, Associated Press
Millions of inventions pass quietly through the U.S. patent office each year. Patent No. 7,033,406 did, too, until energy insiders spotted six words in the filing that sounded like a death knell for the internal combustion engine. An Austin-based startup called EEStor promised "technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries," meaning a motorist could plug in a car for five minutes and drive 500 miles roundtrip between Dallas and Houston without gasoline. By contrast, some plug-in hybrids on the horizon would require motorists to charge their cars in a wall outlet overnight and promise only 50 miles of gasoline-free commute. And the popular hybrids on the road today still depend heavily on fossil fuels. "It's a paradigm shift," said Ian Clifford, chief executive of Toronto-based ZENN Motor Co., which has licensed EEStor's invention. "The Achilles' heel to the electric car industry has been energy storage. By all rights, this would make internal combustion engines unnecessary." Clifford's company bought rights to EEStor's technology in August 2005 and expects EEStor to start shipping the battery replacement later this year for use in ZENN Motor's short-range, low-speed vehicles. The technology could also help invigorate the renewable-energy sector by providing efficient, lightning-fast storage for solar power, or, on a small scale, a flash-charge for cell phones and laptops. EEStor's secret ingredient is a material sandwiched between thousands of wafer-thin metal sheets, like a series of foil-and-paper gum wrappers stacked on top of each other. Charged particles stick to the metal sheets and move quickly across EEStor's proprietary material. The result is an ultracapacitor, a battery-like device that stores and releases energy quickly.
Note: For many exciting articles about new, efficient and clean energy inventions, click here.
September 11, 2007, Los Angeles Times
[Madeline] Nelson, 51, once earned a six-figure income as director of communications at Barnes and Noble. Tired of representing a multimillion dollar company, she quit in 2005 and became a "freegan" -- the word combining "vegan" and "free" -- a growing subculture of people who have reduced their spending habits and live off consumer waste. Though many of its pioneers are vegans, people who neither eat nor use any animal-based products, the concept has caught on with Nelson and other meat-eaters who do not want to depend on businesses that they believe waste resources, harm the environment or allow unfair labor practices. "We're doing something that is really socially unacceptable," Nelson said. "Not everyone is going to do it, but we hope it leads people to push their own limits and quit spending." Nelson used to spend more than $100,000 a year for her food, clothes, books, transportation and a mortgage on a two-bedroom co-op in Greenwich Village. Now, she lives off savings, volunteers instead of works, and forages for groceries. Her annual expenditures now total about $25,000. Freeganism was born out of environmental justice and anti-globalization movements dating to the 1980s. The concept was inspired in part by groups like Food Not Bombs, an international organization that feeds the homeless with surplus food. Last year, Nelson asked her family if she could make Thanksgiving dinner out of foraged food. They ... agreed, and ended up enjoying an elaborate feast. She has never been happier.
Key Articles From Years Past
Lou Dobbs Tonight: Agenda to Create a North American Union
November 29, 2006, CNN
When Mexican president Vicente Fox leaves office this week and Felipe Calderon takes his place, President Bush will be the last of the so-called three amigos. Bush, Fox, and, of course, Canadian prime minister Paul Martin were the originators of the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership, which critics call nothing more than a North American [U]nion. It means open borders, commerce of all [kinds] ... without the approval of either American voters or the U.S. Congress. An effort, the governments say, to harmonize regulation and increase cooperation between three very different countries. A new Canadian prime minister [is] joining the discussions as this North American partnership barrels ahead, with departments and ministries of all three governments working quickly to integrate North America by 2010. Now Mexico's new president, Felipe Calderon, [is] widely expected to keep the progress moving. Critics, though, say there's too little transparency and no congressional oversight. [Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch says] "There's nothing wrong with neighboring governments talking to each other, synchronizing their watches to make sure they're all on the same page in the cases of emergency or on trade issues or even on the flows of goods and people. But if policies are being made that the American people might oppose, or that are contrary to the law ... they're doing something a bit more nefarious." [Fitton] points to SPP documents urging the free flow of goods and people across borders and a wish list from business interests that borders remain open during a flu pandemic. Worse, critics say foreign policy elites are promoting a European-style union, erasing borders between the three countries and eventually moving to a single North American currency called the [Amero].
Note: To view the CNN broadcast of the above, click here. The Canadian TV network CNBC also carried a two-minute report on one of the supposed outcomes of the SPP, the Amero, which is a new common currency being planned for use by Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. To watch this news report, click here.
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Military Medical Ethics, Chips and Cancer, Dangerous Exports