Rumsfeld Torture Suit Can Proceed, Iraq Whistle-Blower Wins Battle, Automobile Fuel Efficiency
Revealing News Articles
August 9, 2011
Below are key excerpts of important news articles which includes revealing information on an Iraq whistle-blower's victorious legal battle against the Army Corps of Engineers, new automobile fuel standards decided upon by politicians, a judge's decision to allow Donald Rumsfeld to be sued for torture, 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. And don't miss the "What you can do" box below the summaries. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info
Special note: For a four-minute video in which Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin talks about an experience he had with a UFO, click here. For a fascinating article on the real history of cowboys and aliens, click here. For an intriguing hour-long video on a team of Mexican UFO investigators with astonishing results, click here. For a revealing and informative essay titled, "15 Years in Prison For Taping the Cops?," click here. For an important four-minute video on the problems with Smart Meters, click here. For a gripping four-minute video of the Japanese tsunami taken by a person trapped inside a car, click here.
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Army Corps Agrees to Pay Whistle-Blower In Iraq Case
July 27, 2011, New York Times
Ending a six-year legal battle, the Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to pay nearly $1 million to a former top contracting official who charged that she was demoted after she objected to a $7 billion no-bid contract granted to a Halliburton subsidiary to repair oil fields in Iraq. In a settlement agreement signed this month and made final by a federal judge this week, the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to pay the former official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, $970,000 to cover lost wages, legal fees and compensatory damages, including for harm to her reputation and her mental health. The payment for damages is unusually large for a lawsuit by a federal employee. In early 2003, the Army, in secret and without competitive bidding, put KBR, then a subsidiary of Halliburton, in charge of restoring Iraqi oil production, in a contract potentially worth $7 billion over five years. Ms. Greenhouse, a career civil servant who was the chief contracts monitor at the Army Corps of Engineers at the time, objected that the contract was based on repair plans and cost estimates that KBR itself had been hired by the corps to prepare, and that the emergency conditions did not justify a multiyear no-bid contract. After internal clashes and threats of demotion, she went public with her concerns in 2004. Ms. Greenhouse was demoted from the Senior Executive Service and given a poor performance rating, prompting her to bring the lawsuit. As part of the settlement, Ms. Greenhouse, 67, formally retired this week with full benefits.
Note: The press has reported little on this most important case. For a much better description of all that went on and the intense corruption revealed, click here.
Obama sets fuel-efficiency goal: 54.5 mpg by 2025
July 30, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Fuel efficiency of automobiles in the United States will increase dramatically under an agreement reached by the federal government, auto manufacturers and the state of California that was announced by President Obama on [July 29]. The agreement requires that cars and light-duty trucks achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, up from the requirement of 35.5 miles per gallon that is mandated by 2016. The new requirement will ... reduce oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels per day by 2025. Currently, the United States imports 9.1 million barrels of oil per day. Thirteen auto manufacturers, which account for 90 percent of vehicles sold in the United States, agreed to the standard. They are Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo. The fuel economy standard is an average for a fleet of cars, which means that the actual miles per gallon for some vehicles will be lower because fleets also include electric cars and other vehicles that will far exceed the standard. The average vehicle at a dealership is likely to be closer to 40 miles per gallon, though that is double the average today.
Note: Some people believe the market drives innovation in gas mileage. As this article clearly shows, this is not the case. For a revealing article showing how car manufacturers have avoided better gas mileage, click here.
The great high-speed rail lie
August 3, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
In 2008, voters approved a $10 billion bond to begin construction of a bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco that would make that trip in less than three hours. So who knew that by 2011 the general consensus would be that the project is an ill-conceived, mismanaged boondoggle? Former Amtrak spokesman and Reason Foundation writer Joseph Vranich knew. In 2008, before the state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, he called the project "science fiction." He said the train won't travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than three hours because that exceeds the speed of all existing high-speed rail. But on French railway schedules, a TGV (Train À Grande Vitesse) takes two hours, 38 minutes to go from Paris to Avignon. That's 430 miles. The route for the L.A.-to-San Francisco line is 432. So what's going on here? It's simple. Vranich makes stuff up. The Reason Foundation is funded by Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, the American Petroleum Institute, Delta Airlines, the National Air Transportation Association and, of course, the Koch Family Foundation. They know what will happen once Americans, furious about gas prices and the way airlines treat them, experience electrically powered 200-mph trains.
Note: For lots more evidence that progress in the transportation sector is stymied by big money interests, click here.
US contractor can sue Donald Rumsfeld for alleged Iraq torture, judge rules
August 4, 2011, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
An American former military contractor who claims he was imprisoned and tortured by the US army in Iraq has been allowed by a judge to sue the former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally for damages. The man, an army veteran whose identity has been withheld, worked as a translator for the US Marines in the volatile Anbar province when he was detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a US military facility near Baghdad airport dedicated to holding "high-value" detainees. He was never charged with a crime. Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused, then released without explanation in August 2006. Two years later, he filed a suit in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to the courts in violation of his constitutional rights. The Obama administration has represented Rumsfeld through the justice department and argued that he could not be sued personally for official conduct. It also argued that a judge could not review wartime decisions which are the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president. District judge James Gwin rejected those arguments and said US citizens were protected by the constitution at home or abroad during wartime.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the illegal prosecution of the US "global war on terror", click here.
UK's secret policy on torture revealed
August 4, 2011, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A top-secret document revealing how MI6 and MI5 officers were allowed to extract information from prisoners being illegally tortured overseas has been seen by the Guardian. The interrogation policy ... instructed senior intelligence officers to weigh the importance of the information being sought against the amount of pain they expected a prisoner to suffer. It was operated by the British government for almost a decade. The fact that the interrogation policy document and other similar papers may not be made public during the inquiry into British complicity in torture and rendition has led to human rights groups and lawyers refusing to give evidence or attend any meetings with the inquiry team because it does not have "credibility or transparency". The decision by 10 groups – including Liberty, Reprieve and Amnesty International – follows the publication of the inquiry's protocols, which show the final decision on whether material uncovered by the inquiry, led by Sir Peter Gibson, can be made public will rest with the cabinet secretary. Some have criticised the appointment of Gibson, a retired judge, to head the inquiry because he previously served as the intelligence services commissioner, overseeing government ministers' use of a controversial power that permits them to "disapply" UK criminal and civil law in order to offer a degree of protection to British intelligence officers committing crimes overseas.
Note: Isn't it quite unusual for human rights organizations to refuse to participate in an inquiry into government abuses of human rights? Evidently the conflicts of interest of the inquiry head Gibson are so extreme that participation is simply impossible.
Sharpton Appears to Win Anchor Spot on MSNBC
July 21, 2011, New York Times
After giving a nearly six-month tryout for the Internet talk show host Cenk Uygur, the cable news channel MSNBC is preparing to instead hand its 6 p.m. time slot to the Rev. Al Sharpton. Cenk Uygur said MSNBC's management decided that they did not care for his aggressive style. Mr. Uygur, who had been made a paid contributor to MSNBC months earlier, was handed 6 p.m., a big coup given that he had earlier campaigned to have his progressive Web show "The Young Turks" picked up by MSNBC. Mr. Uygur, who by most accounts was well liked within MSNBC, said in an interview that he turned down the new contract because he felt [MSNBC President Phil] Griffin had been the recipient of political pressure. In April, he said, Mr. Griffin "called me into his office and said that he'd been talking to people in Washington, and that they did not like my tone." He said he guessed Mr. Griffin was referring to White House officials, though he had no evidence for the assertion. He also said that Mr. Griffin said the channel was part of the "establishment," and "that you need to act like it."
Note: To understand why Uygur was forced out by powerful forces behind the scenes, watch the amazing 10-minute video of him exposing the blatant corruption of the bankers at this link. For an interview of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Uygur's resignation, click here.
NC Forced Sterilization Victims Voice Grief, Pain
June 22, 2011, ABC News/Associated Press
There is nothing the state of North Carolina can do, Elaine Riddick says, to make up for forcing her to be sterilized when she was 14 years old. "They cut me open like I was a hog," [she said]. About 7,600 people were sterilized under North Carolina's eugenics program. Roughly 85 percent of the victims were women or girls. Unlike most states, North Carolina ramped up its sterilizations after World War II, despite associations between eugenics and Nazi Germany, which took eugenics to even more horrifying lengths. Around 70 percent of all North Carolina's sterilizations were performed after the war, peaking in the 1950s, according to state records. Nationwide, there were more than 60,000 known victims of sterilization programs, with perhaps another 40,000 sterilized through "unofficial" channels like hospitals or local health departments working on their own initiative. Eugenics was aimed at creating a better society by filtering out people considered undesirable, ranging from criminals to those imprecisely designated as "feeble-minded." People as young as 10 in North Carolina were sterilized for not getting along with schoolmates, being promiscuous or running afoul of local social workers or doctors. "Where did all this come from? This came from doctors, medical practitioners, professors, not guys in pickup trucks wearing white sheets," said Edwin Black, author of the eugenics history War Against the Weak.
Ghostwritten medical articles called fraud
August 2, 2011, CBC News
It's fraudulent for academics to give their names to medical articles ghostwritten by pharmaceutical industry writers, say two Canadian law professors who call for potential legal sanctions. Studies suggest that industry-driven drug trials and industry-sponsored publications are more likely to downplay a drug's harms and exaggerate a drug's virtues, said Trudo Lemmens, a law professor at the University of Toronto. The integrity of medical research is also harmed by ghostwritten articles, he said. Ghostwriting is part of marketing that can distort the evidence on a drug, Lemmens said. Industry authors are concealed to insert marketing messages and academic experts are recruited as "guest" authors to lend credibility despite not fulfilling criteria for authorship, such as participating in the design of the study, gathering data, analyzing the results and writing up of the findings. Lemmens and his colleague Prof. Simon Stern argue that legal remedies are needed for medical ghostwriting since medical journals, academic institutions and professional disciplinary bodies haven't succeeded in enforcing sanctions against the practice. Ghostwritten publications are used in court to support a manufacturer's arguments about a drug's safety and effectiveness, and academic experts who appear as witnesses for pharmaceutical and medical device companies also boost their credibility with the publications on their CV, Lemmens said.
Note: For a respected doctor's powerful analysis of fraud in the pharmaceutical industry, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on key health issues, click here.
Gang Stalking, "Bullying on Steroids"
January 28, 2011, KION-TV (Santa Cruz, CA Fox Network affiliate)
Police call it "bullying on steroids." They are referring to gang stalking [which] is when multiple people organize to systematically stalk and harass a person, whether emotionally or physically. Lawrence Guzzino claims his neighbors are gang stalking him because he plays loud music and is outspoken. He said, for the last year and a half, he's been systematically followed by a group of people. At one point, he said they climbed on his roof to bother him. Guzzino said he's developed a paranoia that's devastated his relationships with friends, and worst of all, family. "It makes me feel afraid...that's the worst part of it. If it was just me, I would take action," he said. Santa Cruz Police Lieutenant Larry Richard said police are becoming more aware of gang stalking because of cyber bullying. Richard said gang stalking is nothing new, but new technology is making it more common. "Gang stalkers ... have elevated themselves to technology so this is something that's been going on before Facebook and Twitter. They just now have gone into those areas," Lt. Richard said.
Note: To watch the video of this report, click here. For further information on gang stalking, click here and here.
In Midwest, Flutters May Be Far Fewer
July 12, 2011, New York Times
As recently as a decade ago, farms in the Midwest [commonly contained] unruly patches of milkweed amid the neat rows of emerging corn or soybeans. Not anymore. Fields are now planted with genetically modified corn and soybeans resistant to the herbicide Roundup, allowing farmers to spray the chemical to eradicate weeds, including milkweed. A growing number of scientists fear it is imperiling the monarch butterfly, whose spectacular migrations make it one of the most beloved of insects. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, and their larvae eat it. Experts like Chip Taylor say the growing use of genetically modified crops is threatening the orange-and-black butterfly by depriving it of habitat. "This milkweed has disappeared from at least 100 million acres of these row crops," said Dr. Taylor, an insect ecologist at the University of Kansas and director of the research and conservation program Monarch Watch. "Your milkweed is virtually gone." About five times as much of the weed killer was used on farmland in 2007 as in 1997, a year after the Roundup Ready crops were introduced, and roughly 10 times as much as in 1993. "It kills everything," said Lincoln P. Brower, an entomologist at Sweet Briar College who is also an author of the paper documenting the decline of monarch winter populations in Mexico. "It's like absolute Armageddon for biodiversity over a huge area." A spokesman for Monsanto, the inventor of the Roundup Ready crops and the manufacturer of Roundup, agreed.
Note: For a highly-informative summary of the dangers posed by genetically-modified organisms, click here. For more on the risks from Monsanto's Roundup, click here.
Germans quit church during 2010 sex scandal
July 29, 2011, Boston Globe/Associated Press
The number of people leaving the Roman Catholic Church in Germany jumped by nearly 50 percent in 2010 as an abuse scandal widened. Some 181,000 people quit their memberships last year, up from 124,000 in 2009, official numbers released by Germany's Roman Catholic Church showed. Deaths and people turning away from the church heavily outnumbered baptisms, which reached a record low, putting one of the world's wealthiest and most influential Catholic Churches further in decline. Over the past twenty years, the number of members of Germany's Roman Catholic Church has fallen from 28.3 million to 24.6 million or 30.2 percent of the country's population in 2010, the data showed. The numbers are easily tracked because members pay a church tax unless they formally leave the congregation -- the same reason the declining membership has led to increasing budget shortfalls for the church. Germans are not required to say why they want to strike their church membership, but many have blamed the reports of sexual and physical abuse of hundreds of children by clergy that surfaced last year. The diocese that recorded the highest member loss last year was Munich and Freising -- the pope's former diocese, which had been hard-hit by the abuse scandal -- where 21,600 people alone left the church.
Washington Boy Says He Spoke to God After Flesh-Eating Bacteria Threatened Life
August 2, 2011, ABC News Nightline
For a parent, it was unthinkable and terrifying -- a simple split lip that suddenly erupted into a disfiguring, life-threatening infection in a sweet-faced 5-year-old boy. But while Jake Finkbonner's mother and father spent days fearing their son would die, Jake at one point found himself experiencing something he said was beautiful. "I was in heaven and I spoke to God," the boy, now 11, said. Doctors determined that Jake had been infected with a rare, flesh-eating bacteria -- necrotizing fasciitis -- that had entered the cut on Jake's face and spread like wildfire, literally eating away at his face. Jake said that, at one point, his body felt so light that he could almost "lift off." It was then, he said, that he had a vision. "I was able to look down at the hospital. I saw my family. And then I went back to the house where I saw my family," he said. "The only thing is, I didn't see myself." Jake said he spoke to God, who sat in a high chair and was very tall. "He wasn't the size of a normal person," he said. He said he was enjoying himself so much that he asked God if he could stay, "but he said that my family needed me ... and he sent me back down." Jake said that these days, he sometimes finds himself thinking about heaven before he goes to bed. He has advice for others facing life-threatening illnesses. "Don't be scared at all," he said. "Either way, it will be a good way. If you go to heaven, you'll be in a better place -- if you live, you'll be back with your family."
Key Articles From Years Past
Many Medicines Are Potent Years Past Expiration Dates
March 28, 2000, Wall Street Journal
Do drugs really stop working after the date stamped on the bottle? Fifteen years ago, the U.S. military decided to find out. Sitting on a $1 billion stockpile of drugs and facing the daunting process of destroying and replacing its supply every two to three years, the military began a testing program to see if it could extend the life of its inventory. The testing, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter. The results ... show that about 90% of them were safe and effective far past their original expiration date, at least one for 15 years past it. The program's returns have been huge. The military from 1993 through 1998 spent about $3.9 million on testing and saved $263.4 million on drug expense. In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, says he has concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. "Manufacturers put expiration dates on for marketing, rather than scientific, reasons," says Mr. Flaherty, a pharmacist at the FDA until his retirement last year. "They want turnover." Joel Davis, a former FDA expiration-date compliance chief, says that with a handful of exceptions - notably nitroglycerin, insulin and some liquid antibiotics - most drugs are probably as durable as those the agency has tested for the military. "Most drugs degrade very slowly," he says. "In all likelihood, you can take a product you have at home and keep it for many years." Drug-industry officials ... acknowledge that expiration dates have a commercial dimension.
Note: As the Wall Street Journal charges to view this article at the above link, you can view it free here. For lots more on how the pharmaceutical industry cares more about profits than your health, click here.
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