Nanotech Risks, Speculation Drives Gas Prices Up Again, Millions of Swine Flu Vaccines Wasted
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on nanotech risks and dangers, Wall Street speculation driving up gas prices, the millions of unused doses of swine flu vaccine to be destroyed, 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. The most important 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.
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What's driving up oil prices again? Wall Street, of course
Oil consumption has fallen, demand from U.S. motorists for gasoline is flat at best and refiners that turn crude into fuel are operating well below capacity. Yet oil prices keep marching toward $90 a barrel, pushing gasoline toward $3 a gallon in many markets, and prompting American drivers to ask, "What gives?" Blame it on the same folks who brought you $140 oil and $4 gasoline in 2008: Wall Street speculators. Experts attribute much of the recent rise in prices to flows of speculative money into oil markets. Rising oil and gasoline prices are deja vu all over again for Michael Masters. The hedge fund manager has crusaded for legislation that would prevent so much speculative money in the oil markets. Wall Street is "gaming" the price of oil, he warns. "If you're a bank, and you know there is going to be a large amount of investor inflows into the commodities market, you are going to position yourself ahead of them. You want to be a seller at a higher price," explained Masters, noting that large Wall Street banks invest for themselves in these markets even as they also broker the oil investments of others. What's abundantly clear, he and others argue, is that an oil contract's price today has little to do with the supply of and demand for oil.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the hidden realities and destructive impacts of Wall Street speculation, click here.
Millions of H1N1 vaccine doses may be tossed
Despite months of dire warnings and millions in taxpayer dollars, less than half of the 229 million doses of H1N1 vaccine the government bought to fight the pandemic have been administered -- leaving an estimated 71.5 million doses that must be discarded if they are not used before they expire. Between 81 million and 91 million doses of swine flu vaccine were injected into peoples' arms or squirted up their noses through the end of February, according to federal officials, leaving about 138 million doses unused. An estimated 60 million of those will be donated to poor countries or saved for possible future use. But doses already in vials and syringes will be thrown away if not used before their expiration dates pass. The prospect of millions of doses of the once-precious vaccine being discarded is the latest twist in the $1.6 billion program -- the most ambitious immunization campaign in U.S. history. The government-led effort produced a vaccine in record time, but unexpected production problems delayed delivery of the bulk of supplies until after the second wave of infections had peaked.
Note: Yet the pharmaceutical companies get to keep the huge profits from the vaccines, paid for by the taxpayers. For key reports from major media sources on the government and pharmaceutical corporation corruption involving bird and swine flu vaccines, click here.
Amid Nanotech's Dazzling Promise, Health Risks Grow
For almost two years, molecular biologist Bénédicte Trouiller doused the drinking water of scores of lab mice with nano-titanium dioxide, the most common nanomaterial used in consumer products today. Halfway through, Trouiller became alarmed: Consuming the nano-titanium dioxide was damaging or destroying the animals' DNA and chromosomes. The biological havoc continued as she repeated the studies again and again. It was a significant finding: The degrees of DNA damage and genetic instability that [she] documented can be "linked to all the big killers of man, namely cancer, heart disease, neurological disease and aging," says Professor Robert Schiestl, a genetic toxicologist who ran the lab at UCLA's School of Public Health where Trouiller did her research. Nano-titanium dioxide is so pervasive that the Environmental Working Group says it has calculated that close to 10,000 over-the-counter products use it in one form or another. Other public health specialists put the number even higher. It's "in everything from medicine capsules and nutritional supplements, to food icing and additives, to skin creams, oils and toothpaste," Schiestl says.
Note: For a treasure trove of key reports on health issues, click here.
Federal Judge Finds N.S.A. Wiretaps Were Illegal
A federal judge ruled [on March 31] that the National Security Agency's program of surveillance without warrants was illegal, rejecting the Obama administration's effort to keep shrouded in secrecy one of the most disputed counterterrorism policies of former President George W. Bush. In a 45-page opinion, Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been "subjected to unlawful surveillance," the judge said the government was liable to pay them damages. The ruling by Judge Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, rejected the Justice Department's claim – first asserted by the Bush administration and continued under President Obama – that the charity's lawsuit should be dismissed without a ruling on the merits because allowing it to go forward could reveal state secrets. The judge characterized that expansive use of the so-called state-secrets privilege as amounting to "unfettered executive-branch discretion" that had "obvious potential for governmental abuse and overreaching."
Note: For illumination of the dark world of state secrecy, click here.
In Mexico, Catholic order is haunted by past
He hobnobbed with Mexico's rich and famous, cut lucrative real estate deals and was rumored to travel on occasion with a briefcase full of cash. He fathered at least one child, molested seminarians and boys and is said to have boasted that he had the pope's permission to get massages from young nuns. And all the while the conservative priest was building one of the most influential organizations in the Roman Catholic Church. Two years after the death of the Rev. Marcial Maciel, a Mexico native, scandals continue to unfold. Buffeted by the string of revelations, Maciel's powerful Legion of Christ is fighting for its survival in Rome, the headquarters of the church. But here in Mexico, where the Legion has long-standing ties with the ruling class and an expansive network of elite schools, the organization remains strong. Rather than the desertions that some branches of the Legion have experienced in the United States and elsewhere, student enrollment in Legionary schools in Mexico grew by 6% to 8% last year, spokesman Javier Bravo said. The order's assets are estimated by some to be worth $20 billion.
Scientists Say F.D.A. Ignored Radiation Warnings
Urgent warnings by government experts about the risks of routinely using powerful CT scans to screen patients for colon cancer were brushed aside by the Food and Drug Administration, according to agency documents and interviews with agency scientists. Such scans can deliver the radiation equivalent of 400 chest X-rays. An estimated 70 million CT scans are performed in the United States every year, up from three million in the early 1980s. As many as 14,000 people may die every year of radiation-induced cancers as a result, researchers estimate. The use of CT scans to screen healthy patients for cancer is particularly controversial. The internal dispute [at the FDA] has grown so heated that a group of agency scientists who are concerned about the risks of CT scans say they will testify ... that F.D.A. managers ignored or suppressed their concerns, and that the resulting delay in making these concerns public may have led hundreds of patients to be endangered needlessly. Scores of internal agency documents made available to The New York Times show that agency managers sought to approve an application by General Electric to allow the use of CT scans for colon cancer screenings over the repeated objections of agency scientists, who wanted the application rejected.
Note: For lots more on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.
Scientist: FDA suppressed imaging safety concerns
A former Food and Drug Administration scientist said [on March 30 that] his job was eliminated after he raised concerns about the risks of radiation exposure from high-grade medical scanning. Dr. Julian Nicholas said at a public hearing that he and other FDA staffers "were pressured to change their scientific opinion," after they opposed the approval of a CT scanner for routine colon cancer screening. Nicholas said that he objected to exposing otherwise healthy patients to the cancer risks of radiation. After FDA officials pushed ahead with plans to clear the device, Nicholas, now a physician at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego, said he and eight other staffers raised their concerns with the division's top director Dr. Jeffrey Shuren last September. "Scientific and regulatory review process for medical devices was being distorted by managers who were not following the laws," Nicholas said. A month later Nicholas' position was terminated, he said.
Note: For lots more on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.
Court Orders Fed to Release Bailout Documents
In a significant victory for news media, a federal appeals court said the Federal Reserve must disclose records on emergency lending programs to banks bailed out by the government in the financial crisis. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals on [March 19] ordered the Fed to release details of programs it adopted starting in late 2007 to shore up the financial system and forestall a complete meltdown of global financial markets. Bloomberg ... and News Corp's Fox News Network sought details of the central bank's actions under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The Fed argued against disclosure, citing an exemption that it said lets federal agencies keep secret various trade secrets and commercial or financial information. Writing for a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs said, however, that to give the Fed power to deny disclosure because it thinks it best to do so "would undermine the basic policy that disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant objective." Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, said the rulings will help shed light on the Fed, which he called "the least transparent institution" in government.
Note: Isn't it crazy that the Fed would try to keep secret what it did with nearly $1 trillion of US taxpayer money?
U.N.: Afghanistan 'world's biggest producer of hashish'
A U.N. report says Afghanistan, the world's biggest producer of opium, is also a "major producer of cannabis" and "the world's biggest producer of hashish." The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime issued its Afghanistan Cannabis Survey on [March 31], documenting large-scale cannabis cultivation in half of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. "While other countries have even larger cannabis cultivation, the astonishing yield of the Afghan cannabis crop -- 145 kilograms per hectare of hashish, the resin produced from cannabis, as compared to around 40 kilograms per hectare in Morocco -- makes Afghanistan the world's biggest producer of hashish, estimated at between 1,500 and 3,500 tons a year," said Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC's executive director. The report says money "is one of the main reasons" for large-scale cannabis cultivation. "The gross income per hectare of cannabis (US $3,900) is higher than from opium (US$ 3,600)."
Note: What almost no media reports point out is that in 2000, the year before the US invasion, the Taliban had virtually eradicated opium and hashish. Is it a coincidence that under US control Afghanistan has since regained its status as top producer of these drugs? For powerful evidence suggesting rogue elements of government profit greatly from the drug trade, click here.
US Oil Company Donated Millions to Climate Sceptic Groups, Says Greenpeace
A Greenpeace investigation has identified a little-known, privately owned US oil company as the paymaster of global warming sceptics in the US and Europe. Greenpeace says that Koch Industries donated nearly $48m (£31.8m) to climate opposition groups between 1997-2008. From 2005-2008, it donated $25m to groups opposed to climate change, nearly three times as much as higher-profile funders that time such as oil company ExxonMobil. Koch also spent $5.7m on political campaigns and $37m on direct lobbying to support fossil fuels. Greenpeace accuses the funded groups of "spreading inaccurate and misleading information" about climate science and clean energy companies. "The company's network of lobbyists, former executives and organisations has created a forceful stream of misinformation that Koch-funded entities produce and disseminate. The propaganda is then replicated, repackaged and echoed many times throughout the Koch-funded web of political front groups and thinktanks," said Greenpeace. The groups include many of the best-known conservative thinktanks in the US, like Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Foundation for research on economics and the environment.
Note: To read the complete Greenpeace investigative report, click here.
Pfizer Employee Claims Company Fired Her After Infection From An Engineered Virus
A former Pfizer scientist is suing the pharmaceuticals giant after alleging she contracted an artificial, HIV-like, virus created by a colleague. In her lawsuit, Becky McClain claims Pfizer unlawfully dismissed her while she suffered bouts of paralysis brought on by the man-made virus. Pfizer denies these accusations, and says McClain simply didn't come to work, and only linked her problems to engineered-disease exposure after she was fired. According to McClain, researchers in her lab genetically engineered an artificial lentivirus, a class of viruses that also includes HIV. McClain believes that she became infected by the virus due to faulty safety measures, resulting in complete body paralysis as often as 12 times every month. Most likely, we will never know if it is Pfizer's virus that caused McClain's health problems. The court case will focus mostly on safety procedures in the laboratory, not on what exactly from the lab caused the illness. Also, Pfizer refuses to release the genome of the suspected virus, preventing both identification of the disease, as well as the development of a possible cure.
Note: Isn't it interesting that Pfizer is involved in creating HIV-like viruses? How long has this been going on?
Interview: Brooksley Born
As head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC], Brooksley Born became alarmed by the lack of oversight of the secretive, multitrillion-dollar over-the-counter derivatives market. Her attempts to regulate derivatives ran into fierce resistance from then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and then-Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who prevailed upon Congress to stop Born and limit future regulation. PBS: So let's start with September 2008 as we all sat there and watched the economy melting down and heard about things called credit default swaps [CDS]. It wasn't the first time you'd heard of these sophisticated financial instruments. What did you think when you were watching it happen? Born: It was like my worst nightmare coming true. I had had enormous concerns about the over-the-counter derivatives [OTC] market, including credit default swaps, for a number of years. The market was totally opaque; we now call it the dark market. So nobody really knew what was going on in the market. And then it became obvious as Lehman Brothers failed, as AIG [American International Group] suddenly appeared to be on the brink of tremendous defaults and turned out had been a major credit default swap dealer.
Note: Why did Greenspan, Rubin, and Summers fight regulation so fiercely? For a super collection of investigations into the Wall Street activities that brought on the financial collapse and taxpayer bailout of the biggest financial firms, click here.
Top US psychiatrist calls for ethics cleanup
American psychiatrists need to break away from a "culture of influence" created by their financial dealings with the drug industry, the head of the National Institute of Mental Health said in a leading medical journal. Dr. Thomas Insel stops short of calling researchers corrupt or asking them to stop taking money from drug companies. But he highlights a "bias in prescribing practices" that favors brand names drugs over cheaper generics and non-drug treatments. And he says the situation must change with new standards for transparency and full disclosure of psychiatry's collaborations with industry. "We can show the rest of medicine how to clean up our act," Insel told The Associated Press. Current National Institutes of Health rules on financial disclosure are confusing, Insel said. They allow researchers seeking federal funds to make their own judgments about what constitutes a significant financial interest, which they must report to their academic or research institutions. The rules also exempt disclosures of anything below $10,000 annually or 5 percent equity interest in a company.
Note: For a top-notch overview of medical corruption, click here.
Fusion's Ups and Downs
This week, scientists gathered at the American Chemical Society's spring meeting in San Francisco to turn the spotlight on a highly unorthodox path: the effect known as cold fusion. This year's session featured nearly 50 presentations - including reports on batteries and bacteria that appear to exhibit the cold-fusion effect. Back in 1989, cold fusion was heralded as a simple, inexpensive way to get a power-generating fusion reaction on a desktop. But when the experimental results couldn't be reproduced, the researchers were driven into obscurity [and] the term "cold fusion" became synonymous with quackery. Chemists, however, have kept up their interest in the effect. Rick Nebel [has headed] up a handful of researchers following the less-traveled path to fusion at EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. EMC2 recently created a buzz in the fusion underground by reporting on its Web site that it successfully completed a series of experiments to "validate and extend" earlier results. The company is now using a $7.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build a bigger test machine. Nebel and his colleagues are now seeking contributions to fund the development of what they say would be a 100-megawatt fusion plant - a "Phase 3" effort projected to cost $200 million and take four years. "Successful Phase 3 marks the end of fossil fuels," the Web site proclaims.
Note: For a powerful, reliable documentary showing how promising results from cold fusion were strongly suppressed, click here. For lots of reports from reliable sources of new energy developments, click here.
Nepalese doc is 'God of Sight' to nation's poor
For nearly a year, cataracts have clouded out all sight from the 70-year-old grandmother's world. With no money, she assumed she'd die alone in darkness. But now she waits quietly outside the operating room for her turn to meet Nepal's God of Sight. More than 500 others – most of whom have never seen a doctor before – have traveled for days by bicycle, motorbike, bus and even on their relatives' backs to reach Dr. Sanduk Ruit's mobile eye camp. Each hopes for the miracle promised in radio ads by the Nepalese master surgeon: He is able to poke, slice and pull the grape-like jelly masses out of an eye, then refill it with a tiny artificial lens, in about five minutes. It's an assembly-line approach to curing blindness that's possible thanks to a simple surgical technique Ruit pioneered, allowing cataracts to be removed safely without stitches through two small incisions. Once condemned by the international medical community as unthinkable and reckless, this mass surgery "in the bush" started spreading from Nepal to poor countries worldwide nearly two decades ago. Thousands of doctors – from North Korea to Nicaragua to Nigeria – have since been trained to train others, with the hope of slowly lessening the leading cause of blindness that affects 18 million people worldwide. No one pays for anything, and the entire cost is about $25 per surgery. That's $12,750 for all 510 patients, equal to only about three or four surgeries in the U.S.
Key Articles From Years Past
Coming clean on witness protection
The U.S. government has had to make many ... embarrassing admissions to victims of crime and grieving family members: Just so you know, the person who just stabbed you or murdered your relative was an agent of the state. The Mounties insist that a provision in the Witness Protection Program Act forces them to hide problem cases. However, other witness protection programs - including the provincial one in Quebec and the U.S. federal program - are quite public about their mistakes. About 1,000 people - 700 RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) witnesses, and about 300 from other police services - have been admitted to the program and disappeared into new communities with new identities. It is a criminal offence to knowingly reveal, directly or indirectly, anything about their new identities. Because of this Canadians have been barred from seeing the dark side to protecting known criminals. For instance, one family somewhere in Canada has no idea their loved one was killed by protected witness, a man who some lawyers have argued didn't deserve a new identity or the more than $100,000 he was paid.
Note: For those who really want to know a deep, dark side of politics which incriminates Stockwell Day, the former Canadian Minister of Public Safety and current Minister of International trade and many others, see the compelling evidence provided at www.transfixed.net. For the most revealing webpage there, click here.
Millions were in germ war tests
The Ministry of Defence turned large parts of the country into a giant laboratory to conduct a series of secret germ warfare tests on the public. A government report just released provides for the first time a comprehensive official history of Britain's biological weapons trials between 1940 and 1979. Many of these tests involved releasing potentially dangerous chemicals and micro-organisms over vast swaths of the population without the public being told. While details of some secret trials have emerged in recent years, the 60-page report reveals new information about more than 100 covert experiments. The report reveals that military personnel were briefed to tell any 'inquisitive inquirer' the trials were part of research projects into weather and air pollution. The tests [were] carried out by government scientists at Porton Down. In most cases, the trials did not use biological weapons but alternatives which scientists believed would mimic germ warfare and which the MoD claimed were harmless. But families in certain areas of the country who have children with birth defects are demanding a public inquiry.
Note: Military personnel were ordered to lie to cover-up potentially dangerous experiments on the public. So how can we trust that these people have the public interest as a priority?
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