CIA Torture Videos Destroyed, FDA's Flaws,
Skyrocketing National Debt
Revealing News Articles
December 10, 2007
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the torture videos destroyed by the CIA, serious flaws at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the skyrocketing US national debt, 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.
CIA Destroyed Videos Showing Interrogations
December 7, 2007, Washington Post
The CIA made videotapes in 2002 of its officers administering harsh interrogation techniques to two al-Qaeda suspects but destroyed the tapes three years later, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said. Captured on tape were interrogations of Abu Zubaydah ... and a second high-level al-Qaeda member who was not identified. Zubaydah [was] subjected to "waterboarding" ... while in CIA custody. All the tapes were destroyed in November 2005 on the order of Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the CIA's director of clandestine operations. The destruction came after the Justice Department had told a federal judge in the case of al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui that the CIA did not possess videotapes of a specific set of interrogations sought by his attorneys. The startling disclosures came on the same day that House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on legislation that would prohibit the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics by the CIA. The measure ... would effectively set a government-wide standard for legal interrogations by explicitly outlawing the use of [waterboarding], forced nudity, hooding, military dogs and other harsh tactics against prisoners by any U.S. intelligence agency. Civil liberties advocates denounced the CIA's decision to destroy the tapes. Jameel Jaffer, a national security lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the tapes were destroyed at a time when a federal court had ordered the CIA to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU seeking records related to interrogations. "The CIA appears to have deliberately destroyed evidence that would have allowed its agents to be held accountable for the torture of prisoners," Jaffer said. "They are tapes that should have been released to the courts and Congress, but the CIA apparently believes that its agents are above the law."
National Debt Grows $1 Million a Minute
December 3, 2007, New York Times/Associated Press
Like a ticking time bomb, the national debt is an explosion waiting to happen. It's expanding by about $1.4 billion a day -- or nearly $1 million a minute. What's that mean to you? It means almost $30,000 in debt for each man, woman, child and infant in the United States. Even if you've escaped the recent housing and credit crunches and are coping with rising fuel prices, you may still be headed for economic misery, along with the rest of the country. That's because the government is fast straining resources needed to meet interest payments on the national debt, which stands at a mind-numbing $9.13 trillion. And like homeowners who took out adjustable-rate mortgages, the government faces the prospect of seeing this debt -- now at relatively low interest rates -- rolling over to higher rates, multiplying the financial pain. So long as somebody is willing to keep loaning the U.S. government money, the debt is largely out of sight, out of mind. But the interest payments keep compounding, and could in time squeeze out most other government spending -- leading to sharply higher taxes or a cut in basic services like Social Security and other government benefit programs. Or all of the above. A major economic slowdown, as some economists suggest may be looming, could hasten the day of reckoning. The national debt -- the total accumulation of annual budget deficits -- is up from $5.7 trillion when President Bush took office in January 2001 and it will top $10 trillion sometime right before or right after he leaves in January 2009. Interest on the national debt ... totaled $430 billion last year. Aggravating the debt picture: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates could cost $2.4 trillion over the next decade.
Business Lobby Presses Agenda Before '08 Vote
December 2, 2007, New York Times
Business lobbyists ... are racing to secure final approval for a wide range of health, safety, labor and economic rules, in the belief that they can get better deals from the Bush administration than from its successor. Hoping to lock in policies backed by a pro-business administration, poultry farmers are seeking an exemption for the smelly fumes produced by tons of chicken manure. Businesses are lobbying the Bush administration to roll back rules that let employees take time off for family needs and medical problems. And electric power companies are pushing the government to relax pollution-control requirements. Even as they try to shape pending regulations, business lobbies are also looking beyond President Bush. Corporations and trade associations are recruiting Democratic lobbyists. And lobbyists, expecting battles over taxes and health care in 2009, are pouring money into the campaigns of Democratic candidates for Congress and the White House. At the Transportation Department, trucking companies are trying to get final approval for a rule increasing the maximum number of hours commercial truck drivers can work. And automakers are trying to persuade officials to set new standards for the strength of car roofs – standards far less stringent than what consumer advocates say is needed to protect riders in a rollover. At the Interior Department, coal companies are lobbying for a regulation that would allow them to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into nearby streams and valleys. A coalition of environmental groups has condemned the proposed rule, saying it would accelerate "the destruction of mountains, forests and streams throughout Appalachia." A priority for many employers in 2008 is to secure changes in the rules for family and medical leave.
Note: For many revealing reports on corporate corruption, click here.
Advisers Say F.D.A.'s Flaws Put Lives at Risk
December 1, 2007, New York Times
The nation's food supply is at risk, its drugs are potentially dangerous and its citizens' lives are at stake because the Food and Drug Administration is desperately short of money and poorly organized, according to an alarming report by agency advisers. The report ... is the latest ... in a string of outside assessments that have concluded that the F.D.A. is poorly equipped to protect the public health. The report concludes that over the last two decades, the agency's public health responsibilities have soared while its appropriations have barely budged. The result is that the F.D.A. is falling farther and farther behind in carrying out its responsibilities and understanding the science it needs to do its many jobs. "F.D.A.'s inability to keep up with scientific advances means that American lives are at risk," the report stated. Barbara J. McNeil, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and one of the report's authors, said she was stunned at the agency's sorry state. "This was the first time that a group of people got together and really looked at all the areas that the F.D.A. has to cover," Dr. McNeil said. "We were shocked at the scope of its responsibilities, we were shocked at how little its resources have increased, and we were surprised at the conditions those in the F.D.A. had to work under." "Reports of product dangers are not rapidly compared and analyzed, inspectors' reports are ... slow to work their way through the compliance system, and the system for managing imported products cannot communicate with customs and other government systems," the report stated. The report concluded that the "F.D.A.'s ability to provide its basic food system inspection, enforcement and rule-making functions is severely eroded, as is its ability to respond to outbreaks in a timely manner."
Note: For numerous powerful reports on health issues, click here.
Living in Dreamworld
November 30, 2007, ABC News
Stephen LaBerge, an expert in a technique called lucid dreaming ... believes that what happens to people in their dreams is as real an experience as what happens in real life. By becoming aware that they're dreaming while they're asleep, lucid dreamers say they can learn to consciously control and manipulate the dreamscape, allowing them to live out their wildest fantasies in a virtual reality with no earthly boundaries. A renowned lucid dreaming expert, LaBerge spent more than a decade researching the science of lucid dreaming at Stanford University. In his most groundbreaking experiment, he showed that lucid dreamers can consciously signal from the dream world while in REM sleep. The author of several books on the topic, LaBerge developed a plethora of techniques to help people gain lucidity. LaBerge believes that, with proper training, people can actually control their dreams, provided they learn how to recognize that they're dreaming while still asleep. In a way, he is teaching people how to live their dreams. "All you have to say is, 'This is a dream. Anything is possible,'" LaBerge said. In lucid dreams, one can fly like a superhero, master martial arts with no fear of injury, or have a tryst with a total stranger. "[It's] the place where you can do anything without external consequences. So it's a place you can safely explore how to live, what to do, what you might want to do," LaBerge said. You might seek out a dead relative, try to conquer a lifelong fear, or you might even try to hold a conversation with God. LaBerge teaches others how to master lucid dreaming at his Dream and Awakening Retreat held at the Kalani Oceanside Retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii, a setting picture perfect for dreamers.
Note: For many other powerful articles which illuminate the deep nature of reality, stretching our awareness of what is possible in the world, click here.
'Supermouse' bred to beat cancer
November 28, 2007, BBC
Mice carrying a gene which appears to make them invulnerable to cancer may hold the key to safer and more effective treatments for humans. The new breed, created with a more active "Par-4" gene, did not develop tumours, and even lived longer, said the journal Cancer Research. University of Kentucky researchers said a human cancer treatment was possible. Par-4 was originally discovered in the early 1990s working inside human prostate cancers, and is believed to have a role in "programmed cell death", the body's own system for rooting out and destroying damaged or faulty cells. The Kentucky team used an existing mouse breed known to be more vulnerable to cancers to test whether Par-4 could be used to fight them. They introduced the gene to mouse eggs, and it was active in both the resulting pups - and their own offspring. The mice with active Par-4 did not develop cancers, and lived slightly longer than those without the gene. Dr Vivek Rangnekar, who led the research, said that the gene offered a potential way, unlike most other cancer treatments, of destroying cancer cells without harming normal cells. "When a cancer patient goes to the clinic, they undergo chemotherapy or radiation and there are potential side effects associated with these treatments. We are thinking of this as a holistic approach that not only would get rid of the tumour, but not harm the organism as a whole." A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said: "Although at an early stage, research like this allows us to understand more about the faulty genes involved in cancer and throws open new avenues to explore for cancer treatment. It's important to remember that this work has only been done using genetically engineered mice, and more research is needed before we'll know if it can be translated to humans."
Note: For a plethora of exciting reports of new approaches to curing cancer, click here.
FDA panel to review Tamiflu's effect on brain
November 25, 2007, USA Today
A Food and Drug Administration panel ... will review reports of abnormal behavior and other brain effects in more than 1,800 children who had taken the flu medicine Tamiflu since its approval in 1999, including 55 in the USA. Twenty-two of the U.S. reports were considered "serious," with symptoms such as convulsions, delirium or delusions, says Terry Hurley, spokesman for drugmaker Roche Laboratories. None of the U.S. cases resulted in death. But in Japan, Hurley says, five deaths have been reported in children under 16 as a result of neurological or psychiatric problems. "Four were fatal falls, and one was encephalitis in a patient with leukemia," he says. In addition, in people ages 17 to 21, there were two deaths in Japan, one a "fatal accident with abnormal behavior," Hurley says, and the second as a result of encephalopathy, a brain infection. Seven adult deaths attributed to neuropsychiatric problems also have been reported in Japan. The possible association between Tamiflu and neuropsychiatric effects was first reported in Japan, and in March, the Japanese government issued a safety warning restricting the drug's use in adolescents. Japan has been the major market for Tamiflu, accounting for 75% of the 48 million prescriptions written. The drug's Japanese distributor, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., announced this month that it would cut by half the supply it had been planning to sell this winter, from 12 million to 6 million courses of treatment. In a statement, the company says demand dropped after reports in February that "several teenage patients with influenza who were also taking Tamiflu had fallen from buildings after taking the drug." A year ago Roche added a warning to its package insert label saying "people with the flu, particularly children, may be at an increased risk of self-injury and confusion shortly after taking Tamiflu," and their behavior should be monitored.
Note: For numerous powerful reports on health issues, click here.
A little risky business
November 22, 2007, The Economist magazine
Waving a packet of carbon nanotubes accusingly at the assembled American politicians during a hearing last month in Congress, Andrew Maynard was determined to make a point. The nanotechnology expert ... had bought the tiny tubes on the internet. They had arrived in the post along with a safety sheet describing them as graphite and thus requiring no special precautions beyond those needed for a nuisance dust. Dr Maynard's theatrics were designed to draw attention to a growing concern about the safety of nanotechnology. Carbon nanotubes may be perfectly safe, but then again, they may have asbestos-like properties. Nobody knows. Indeed, industry, regulators and governments know little about the general safety of all manner of materials that are made into fantastically small sizes. In the past few years the number of consumer products claiming to use nanotechnology has dramatically grown–to almost 600 by one count. Patents are rapidly being filed. For a product to count as nanotechnology, it ... is enough merely for some of the material to have been tinkered with at a small scale. Often that can involve grinding down a substance into particles that may be only a few nanometres big–a nanometre is a billionth of a metre–about 100,000th of the thickness of a sheet of paper. Despite hundreds of years of experience in chemistry, it is not easy to predict how a substance will behave when it is made extremely small. That means, you cannot be sure how it will affect health. Nanoparticulate versions of a material can act in novel ways. When they are very, very small, materials, such as copper, that are soft can become hard. Materials, such as gold, that would not react to other substances become reactive. And when they have been shrunk, materials, such as carbon, that are perfectly safe might become unsafe. Plenty of research suggests that nanoparticles of harmless substances can become exceptionally dangerous.
Brazil announces new oil reserves
November 9, 2007, BBC News
The Brazilian government says huge new oil reserves discovered off its coast could turn the country into one of the biggest oil producers in the world. Petrobras, Brazil's national oil company, says it believes the offshore Tupi field has between 5bn and 8bn barrels of recoverable light oil. A senior minister said Brazilian oil production had the potential to match that of Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. The state-controlled company says the results show high productivity for gas and light oil - the best quality oil - which is more valuable and cheaper to refine. Petrobras says the find has the potential to move Brazil into a position where it is one of the top ten oil reserves in the world. Brazil currently has proven oil reserves of 14 billion barrels, over half of which have been discovered in the past five years. Most of Brazil's oil is heavy and found at great depth but even so its reserves have almost doubled in the last ten years, as has output. With the Tupi field potentially equal to 40% of all oil ever discovered here, it seems by any standards a significant moment for Brazil.
Note: Many fear that oil production could drop drastically within the next 10 to 20 years. In actuality, there are many large untapped oil fields which have not been economically feasible to tap because of their lower quality oil. Once the price of oil reaches a certain threshold, like $150/barrel, many of these fields will then be profitable. Because of this, it is highly unlikely there will be a sudden oil shortage (unless prices are manipulated as in the great oil crisis of 1973). For lots more on the unlimited potential for cheap energy, click here.
The White House Coup
July 23, 2007, BBC Radio
Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell [House] and George Bush's grandfather, Prescott [Bush]) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression. Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy.
Note: Click on the article link above to listen to this important radio documentary. General Smedley Butler, author of War is a Racket, was approached by the plotters for assistance, but he stopped them by reporting their plans to the government.
Fascist America, in 10 easy steps
April 24, 2007, Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody. They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps. As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration. Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have. George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.
Note: This important article is well worth reading in its entirety. It carefully analyzes the ten steps that turn a democratic into a fascist society, including 1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy; 2. Create a gulag; 4. Set up an internal surveillance system; 8. Control the press; 9. Equate dissent and treason; and 10. Suspend the rule of law. Click on the article link above to read about all ten steps that have already been taken in the U.S..
For this club, life begins at 50 (%)
July 29, 2007, Boston Globe
When David Ludlow's wife died in a climbing accident 11 years ago, her death transformed him into a multimillionaire: He inherited Vanda Sendzimir's share of her family fortune, a $5 million trust that generates an annual interest of about $300,000. Then a freelance photographer with a passion for social justice issues, the Jamaica Plain man was plunged into a swirl of shock, guilt, and confusion. "I've always been very left-wing politically and all of a sudden I was living incredible inequality," said Ludlow, 64. "Suddenly I was in the upper 1 percent of the population in terms of wealth, and I felt terrible about that for a long time." So he did something radical, and something that many people might consider insane: He decided to give away half his annual income. In doing so, Ludlow joined a small, unusual, and growing community: The 50% League, an Arlington-based group of people who contribute at least half their income, business profits, or net worth to charity. Members from across the country have been welcomed into an elite circle of givers and asked to share their stories publicly, even if anonymously, to inspire other givers. Their motivations are manifold: Some give out of a sense of fairness, personal satisfaction or a desire for simplicity; others are driven by religious faith or dedication to a cause. Many are anonymous philanthropists, and not all of them have great wealth: Some are members of the middle class, but have chosen to survive on less so they can give more. Above all, they aim to stand as role models, and to encourage others of all income levels to think about their giving potential. "I feel incredibly privileged, and I still feel guilty about that," said Ludlow, who has used much of the money he inherited from his late wife ... to fund grass-roots groups led by low-income people of color. "But it's given me tremendous meaning in my life to give as much as I can away."
Note: The wonderful man featured in this article, David Ludlow, is a major supporter of our work in the form of a large monthly donation (https://www.peerservice.org/donations#monthly). This is a powerful example of how one inspired individual can make a big difference in the world. Let us all do our best to use our money in support of personal and global transformation to the best of our ability. We also invite you to make a difference by donating to support our empowering work at https://www.peerservice.org/donations.
Special Note: For the long-awaited video Loose Change Final Cut, exposing little-known facts on 9/11, click here. For a media video clip showing just how much power an electric motor can have, watch an electric car beat a Ford Mustang and reach over 100 mph in the quarter mile by clicking here. Fortune magazine is jumping on the green bandwagon, with a new "Going Green" issue. To read about many different businesses' programs to benefit the environment, click here.
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CIA Torture Videos Destroyed, FDA's Flaws, Skyrocketing National Debt