Saturday, October 31, 2009

PITBULL BOARDS THE 52 LINE

Pitbull boards TriMet bus.
Slideshow
Pitbull boards TriMet bus.
The 52 TriMet bus headed through Aloha Friday morning during a seemingly normal dark October day along Farmington Road.

But, a different type of rider jumped on board at SW 160th.

Furry. With four legs. And a tail wagging.

“You open the door, it’s really simple. People get on, people get off—and a dog can do it too,” says TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch (prounced coincidentally, Fetch).

She says the canine boarded without a transfer or paying any fare at all.

This is not the first time this has happened for the Portland area transit agency. A coyote tried to ride for free on a light rail train in 2002. An airport worker snapped photographic evidence of the freeloading four-legged fare jumper curled up on the seat at the PDX MAX stop.

“A coyote on the MAX train,” explains Fetsch, “it’s warm inside, they see an open door—they think it’s a nice place to go.”

Signs along the Farmington Road do have a silhouette image of a deer. Fetsch explains this does not indicate that deer ride for free. Instead, she says, it indicates an outdated way the agency used to designate areas of the city—using symbols like a snowflake, a beaver, a deer and a raindrop.

Fetsch says that no matter how well an animal might carry themselves in public, that it’s TriMet regulations that state any pet must be in a carrier.

“No dogs on the bus, even if they have the correct fare,” she said.

The dog in question did get to go anywhere. A nearby human walking their own dog was frightened by the pit bull mix being overly friendly and called 9-1-1.

The bus waited for a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy to arrive and take custody of the dog who was without collar, leash or microship. The deputy describes the dog as “loveable and friendly."

The mystery fare-jumping dog is currently staying at the Washington County Animal Services shelter until an owner can be found. Their director tells KOIN Local 6 that apparently Washington County pets are on board with mass transit. She says it was just last week that a different dog was found riding the MAX train in Beaverton.

Monday, October 26, 2009

MICHAEL MOORE SAYS DO FIVE THINGS

"Michael Moore's Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now"
You've Seen the Movie -- Now It's Time to ACT!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Friends,
It's the #1 question I'm constantly asked after people see my movie: "OK -- so NOW what can I DO?!"
You want something to do? Well, you've come to the right place! 'Cause I got 15 things you and I can do right now to fight back and try to fix this very broken system.
Here they are:
FIVE THINGS WE DEMAND THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS DO IMMEDIATELY:
1. Declare a moratorium on all home evictions. Not one more family should be thrown out of their home. The banks must adjust their monthly mortgage payments to be in line with what people's homes are now truly worth -- and what they can afford. Also, it must be stated by law: If you lose your job, you cannot be tossed out of your home.
2. Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. A single, nonprofit source must run a universal health care system that covers everyone. Medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcies and evictions in this country. Medicare For All will end this misery. The bill to make this happen is called H.R. 3200. You must call AND write your members of Congress and demand its passage, no compromises allowed.
3. Demand publicly-funded elections and a prohibition on elected officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists. Yes, those very members of Congress who solicit and receive millions of dollars from wealthy interests must vote to remove ALL money from our electoral and legislative process. Tell your members of Congress they must support campaign finance bill H.R.1826.
4. Each of the 50 states must create a state-owned public bank like they have in North Dakota. Then congress MUST reinstate all the strict pre-Reagan regulations on all commercial banks, investment firms, insurance companies -- and all the other industries that have been savaged by deregulation: Airlines, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies -- you name it. If a company's primary motive to exist is to make a profit, then it needs a set of stringent rules to live by -- and the first rule is "Do no harm." The second rule: The question must always be asked -- "Is this for the common good?" (Click here for some info about the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.)
5. Save this fragile planet and declare that all the energy resources above and beneath the ground are owned collectively by all of us. Just like they do it in Sarah Palin's socialist Alaska. We only have a few decades of oil left. The public must be the owners and landlords of the natural resources and energy that exists within our borders or we will descend further into corporate anarchy. And when it comes to burning fossil fuels to transport ourselves, we must cease using the internal combustion engine and instruct our auto/transportation companies to rehire our skilled workforce and build mass transit (clean buses, light rail, subways, bullet trains, etc.) and new cars that don't contribute to climate change. (For more on this, here's a proposal I wrote in December.) Demand that General Motors' de facto chairman, Barack Obama, issue a JFK man-on-the-moon-style challenge to turn our country into a nation of trains and buses and subways. For Pete's sake, people, we were the ones who invented (or perfected) these damn things in the first place!!
FIVE THINGS WE CAN DO TO MAKE CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT LISTEN TO US:
1. Each of us must get into the daily habit of taking 5 minutes to make four brief calls: One to the President (202-456-1414), one to your Congressperson (202-224-3121) and one to each of your two Senators (202-224-3121). To find out who represents you, click here. Take just one minute on each of these calls to let them know how you expect them to vote on a particular issue. Let them know you will have no hesitation voting for a primary opponent -- or even a candidate from another party -- if they don't do our bidding. Trust me, they will listen. If you have another five minutes, click here to send them each an email. And if you really want to drop an anvil on them, send them a snail mail letter!
2. Take over your local Democratic Party. Remember how much fun you had with all those friends and neighbors working together to get Barack Obama elected? YOU DID THE IMPOSSIBLE. It's time to re-up! Get everyone back together and go to the monthly meeting of your town or county Democratic Party -- and become the majority that runs it! There will not be many in attendance and they will either be happy or in shock that you and the Obama Revolution have entered the room looking like you mean business. President Obama's agenda will never happen without mass grass roots action -- and he won't feel encouraged to do the right thing if no one has his back, whether it's to stand with him, or push him in the right direction. When you all become the local Democratic Party, send me a photo of the group and I'll post it on my website.
3. Recruit someone to run for office who can win in your local elections next year -- or, better yet, consider running for office yourself! You don't have to settle for the incumbent who always expects to win. You can be our next representative! Don't believe it can happen? Check out these examples of regular citizens who got elected: State Senator Deb Simpson, California State Assemblyman Isadore Hall, Tempe, Arizona City Councilman Corey Woods, Wisconsin State Assemblyman Chris Danou, and Washington State Representative Larry Seaquist. The list goes on and on -- and you should be on it!
4. Show up. Picket the local branch of a big bank that took the bailout money. Hold vigils and marches. Consider civil disobedience. Those town hall meetings are open to you, too (and there's more of us than there are of them!). Make some noise, have some fun, get on the local news. Place "Capitalism Did This" signs on empty foreclosed homes, closed down businesses, crumbling schools and infrastructure. (You can download them from my website.)
5. Start your own media. You. Just you (or you and a couple friends). The mainstream media is owned by corporate America and, with few exceptions, it will never tell the whole truth -- so you have to do it! Start a blog! Start a website of real local news (here's an example: The Michigan Messenger). Tweet your friends and use Facebook to let them know what they need to do politically. The daily papers are dying. If you don't fill that void, who will?
FIVE THINGS WE SHOULD DO TO PROTECT OURSELVES AND OUR LOVED ONES UNTIL WE GET THROUGH THIS MESS:
1. Take your money out of your bank if it took bailout money and place it in a locally-owned bank or, preferably, a credit union.
2. Get rid of all your credit cards but one -- the kind where you have to pay up at the end of the month or you lose your card.
3. Do not invest in the stock market. If you have any extra cash, put it away in a savings account or, if you can, pay down on your mortgage so you can own your home as soon as possible. You can also buy very safe government savings bonds or T-bills. Or just buy your mother some flowers.
4. Unionize your workplace so that you and your coworkers have a say in how your business is run. Here's how to do it (more info here). Nothing is more American than democracy, and democracy shouldn't be checked at the door when you enter your workplace. Another way to Americanize your workplace is to turn your business into a worker-owned cooperative. You are not a wage slave. You are a free person, and you giving up eight hours of your life every day to someone else is to be properly compensated and respected.
5. Take care of yourself and your family. Sorry to go all Oprah on you, but she's right: Find a place of peace in your life and make the choice to be around people who are not full of negativity and cynicism. Look for those who nurture and love. Turn off the TV and the Blackberry and go for a 30-minute walk every day. Eat fruits and vegetables and cut down on anything that has sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour or too much sodium (salt) in it (and, as Michael Pollan says, "Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants"). Get seven hours of sleep each night and take the time to read a book a month. I know this sounds like I've turned into your grandma, but, dammit, take a good hard look at Granny -- she's fit, she's rested and she knows the names of both of her U.S. Senators without having to Google them. We might do well to listen to her. If we don't put our own "oxygen mask" on first (as they say on the airplane), we will be of no use to the rest of the nation in enacting any of this action plan!
I'm sure there are many other ideas you can come up with on how we can build this movement. Get creative. Think outside the politics-as-usual box. BE SUBVERSIVE! Think of that local action no one else has tried. Behave as if your life depended on it. Be bold! Try doing something with reckless abandon. It may just liberate you and your community and your nation.
And when you act, send me your stories, your photos and your video -- and be sure to post your ideas in the comments beneath this letter on my site so they can be shared with millions.
C'mon people -- we can do this! I expect nothing less of all of you, my true and trusted fellow travelers!
Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grateful to Have a Job, and Bone-Tired

By Ellen Goodman

There was a New Yorker cartoon last spring picturing a nearly empty galley ship with only two slaves still pulling their oars under the grim eye of the master. In the caption, one of the slaves says to the other: “At this point, I’m just happy to still have a job.”

It turns out that this is the mantra of the new economy and its icon: the grateful worker. When I Googled “grateful to have a job”—this is how I quantify trends these days—I came up with 3.7 million hits. Gratitude is in.

I thought of this when reading the statistics boasting that productivity was up again, this time by 6.6 percent. This “good news” means that more work is being done in the same time.

But this doesn’t say anything about the people working harder and whether they are engaged in what economists call a “speed-up” with all of its Charlie Chaplin implications for our own “Modern Times.” Nor does it say how many workplaces have four people doing the work once done by six or eight.

The spotlight of the Great Recession has been properly on the nearly 10 percent of workers who are unemployed. But there has been far less said about the collateral damage on the 90 percent who “still have a job” but are looking at the empty seats. Fearfully. Gratefully.

In many workplaces, of course, fewer widgets—or cars or clothes—are being made, requiring fewer widget makers. But there are, after all, just as many cases to be managed by fewer social workers. There are just as many floors to be cleaned by fewer janitors. There is no less news to be covered by a smaller newsroom. And I don’t even want to think about regional airlines.

The government doesn’t track how many are doing the labor of their former co-workers. Nor does it quantify economic anxiety. The closest we get to numbering the grateful worker is in the figures showing that job-leavers—those who voluntarily quit—are at an all-time low. Trust me, they aren’t all staying because they suddenly love their bosses.

And while we’re on the subject, I’m willing to wager that many people on those unpaid furloughs are actually working at home. And a whole lot of stunningly productive workers aren’t putting in for overtime.

In what economist Heather Boushey calls the “gloves-off economy,” even those with jobs are feeling powerless, unable to say no. “This really puts employers in the driver’s seat,” says Boushey, “and the back-seat driver can’t even suggest putting on the brakes.”

The most immediate effect is on families. The dirty little secret is that workers with families—make that moms—are still seen as “less productive.” “Discrimination against mothers is still the strongest and most open form of discrimination,” says Joan Williams at UC-Hastings College of the Law. “When employers have to cut, they turn to the underperformers who may be readily confused with mothers. People who see them targeted are afraid. ”

It’s not a coincidence that the number of pregnancy discrimination complaints went up by 12 percent in 2008. For that matter, the number of workers calling the Hastings WorkLife hot line with stories of being targeted for caregiving has doubled. We have even seen a decline in births in California and Florida, where the housing crisis hit hardest.

The talk of work-life balance has fallen as fast as a 401(k). There is still a stigma attached to flextime, and only half of workers get a single paid sick day. As Debra Ness of the National Partnership for Women and Families says, worried workers are “less likely to ask for benefits and less likely to use them if they have them.” Indeed, if fear is more contagious than the swine flu, what’s going to happen when workers choose between putting their health on the line and their jobs?

After the dot-com bubble burst, we got a jobless recovery. Will the Great Recession and the grateful worker end up with a benefit-less recovery?

In Mel Brooks’ famous routine about the 2,000-year-old man, he’s asked what they used for transportation in the old days. His answer: “Mostly fear.” The fear that he was being chased by an animal.

Well, fear is what keeps a lot of people productive. Fear is what makes many of those still working become averse to change when we need it most. How will we know when the Great Recession starts to lighten up? Maybe when gratitude begins to grate.

Ellen Goodman’s e-mail address is ellengoodman1(at)me.com.

© 2009, Washington Post Writers Group

A Perfect Storm of Idiocy

By Joe Conason

The wild furor over President Barack Obama’s speech to the nation’s schoolchildren raises many questions, but there is only one that really matters. How did America surrender its political discourse—not to mention the news cycle—to the most unreasonable and unstable elements of the far right?

Not so many years ago, nobody would have imagined that a bland presidential address to young students, urging them to remain in school, study hard and nurture their aspirations for success, could engender a raging national controversy. Nobody would have believed that such an ordinary event could excite suspicions among a significant part of the population that the chief executive is “indoctrinating” their children in a “socialist ideology,” or that the fate of the republic depended on parents keeping their innocents away from the classrooms, lest they hear his words. And nobody would have believed that the resulting wave of paranoia, supercharged by talk radio and cable television, could actually grip the attention of the public at a time when real issues demand action.

When the nation’s first African-American president proposes to urge children, and in particular those children who regard him as a role model, to behave wisely and avoid self-destructive behavior, liberals and conservatives alike ought to be expected to applaud him. Indeed, conservatives especially should be clapping loudly, since they have so often bemoaned the cultural barriers to advancement faced by poor and minority students.

So why have the idols of the right, notably Glenn Beck of Fox News Channel, instead seized this moment to stir anger and fear among Republican parents by claiming that the president intends harm to their kids? Why did many Republican leaders, notably the party chairman of Florida, echo the craziness? (And why would any parent take advice from Beck, a college dropout and recovering alcoholic?)

While many Obama critics advertise themselves as “libertarians” who distrust any message from Big Brother in Washington, that healthy skepticism cannot be the reason for the current outcry—because two of the past three Republican presidents spoke directly to the nation’s schoolchildren without provoking any significant reaction at all.

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In the fall of 1991, President George Herbert Walker Bush delivered a speech in a classroom that was broadcast live nationwide by the Pubic Broadcasting System, Mutual Broadcasting and NBC Radio Network. The blanket media coverage was arranged by the Education Department (which gave rise to a few grumpy remarks by Democrats in Congress that were duly noted but mostly ignored by the press).

“Thanks for allowing me to visit your classroom to talk to you and all these students,” the first President Bush said politely to the teacher who was hosting him, “and millions more in classrooms all across the country.” He went on to tell his audience: “Make your teachers work hard. Tell them you want a first-class education. Tell them that you’re here to learn. Block out the kids who think it’s not cool to be smart. I can’t understand for the life of me what’s so great about being stupid.”

His predecessor, Ronald Reagan, addressed students directly on at least two occasions—once in a broadcast speech in 1988 and once in a session with high school students at the White House in 1986. Both times, the Gipper seized the chance to promote his own policies, with particular attention to cutting taxes and his “vision of economic freedom.” In fact, Reagan’s remarks were entirely political, if not partisan. He did precisely what the right has wrongly accused Obama of doing—but that was a message that conservatives like to hear, so they didn’t object to the “indoctrination” of students at the public’s expense.

The irony of this tempest of idiocy is that the same blowhards who constantly slander and slur President Obama were telling us, not too long ago, that criticizing the commander in chief during wartime was tantamount to treason. But of course they are patriots of political convenience—with no allegiance to anything except their own power and their extreme ideology.

Joe Conason writes for The New York Observer.

A 9/11 Debt Still Unpaid

By Marie Cocco

The first “shift” that John Feal, a supervisor for a demolition contractor, worked at the smoldering labyrinth of fallen buildings at Ground Zero lasted 43 hours. Over the next few days—until Sept. 17, 2001—the young, athletic worker from Long Island labored amid the molten metal and shattered glass and concrete remains of skyscrapers that had collapsed after terrorists rammed two airliners into the World Trade Center.

Feal’s work would end when an 8,000-pound steel beam landed on his left foot, cutting it in half. The injury, which required 30 surgeries over five years, made Feal one of the thousands of heroes of 9/11 who have been treated in a manner that is anything but heroic. Disgraceful is a more fitting word.

Like thousands of others who descended on lower Manhattan after the terrorist attack, Feal did not work for New York City as a cop or a firefighter, and didn’t have the health insurance, disability and pension safety nets those jobs provide. As a construction worker whose labor was subcontracted to three different companies, his claim for workers’ compensation was repeatedly stymied. “Nobody wanted to claim that I got hurt on their watch,” he says.

Unable to work, he lost his health insurance, sold off his cars and even his furniture to pay medical bills. Twice he went to court to save his house from foreclosure; his credit score plummeted. “The financial burden that was placed upon me was staggering,” Feal says. “I lost almost everything.”

His claim for Social Security disability benefits was at last approved in 2004 and Feal began a slow climb back. He started a foundation to help other 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who are sick and unable to work, yet trapped in a legal maze that often denies them even meager disability benefits—or finally grants benefits so long after they’ve stopped working that financial crises consume them.

The attack on lower Manhattan that killed 2,751 people, like the simultaneous assault on the Pentagon, was an attack on the entire nation. At the time, a shocked and sorrowful public recognized this. Even now, the United States—not New York City—wages two wars that began in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Yet for eight years, even as tens of thousands have come to its hospitals and clinics with illnesses related to their exposure to the toxic concoction of burning jet fuel, asbestos and other environmental hazards borne in the dust that settled over homes, storefronts and offices in lower Manhattan, New York has been left to cope mostly on its own. Limited federal funding has paid for health screening, and more than 10,500 people have received federally funded treatment for physical health problems, according to a report by a panel on World Trade Center health problems appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

But that is a small part of the story. There are 71,000 who have come forward to have their health monitored. After reviewing more than 100 studies that have been completed on the health issues arising from the attack, the Bloomberg panel concluded that post-traumatic stress disorder is “highly prevalent” among rescue and recovery workers. So are asthma and other forms of serious respiratory disease. Those who had no protective gear—neighborhood residents; construction, telecommunications workers and others who labored at the site for weeks; commuters; volunteers—are at greater risk.

Then there is the unknown: Cancers, some of them rare, have begun to be diagnosed. The health panel cautions that “late-emerging effects are not expected to be clearly evident for at least a decade after exposure.”

For years, New York lawmakers have sought legislation to require the federal government to monitor and treat those who responded to the World Trade Center disaster, as well as residents who lived near the site. For the most part, lawmakers from outside of the region believe this isn’t their problem. Yet Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., one of the measure’s sponsors, notes that at least 10,000 people went to New York from around the country to help after the attacks. “These are your constituents,” she pleaded in a recent memo.

So the toll from 9/11 climbs. Its victims suffer from debilitating diseases, struggle against financial ruin, and confront early death. The most meaningful—and imperative—way to mark this anniversary is for Congress to finally pass the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Anything less is political theater, and a tired act at that.

Marie Cocco’s e-mail address is mariecocco(at)washpost.com.

A Hundred Holocausts: An Insider’s Window Into U.S. Nuclear Policy

By Daniel Ellsberg

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of Daniel Ellsberg’s personal memoir of the nuclear era, “The American Doomsday Machine.” The online book will recount highlights of his six years of research and consulting for the Departments of Defense and State and the White House on issues of nuclear command and control, nuclear war planning and nuclear crises. It further draws on 34 subsequent years of research and activism largely on nuclear policy, which followed the intervening 11 years of his preoccupation with the Vietnam War. Subsequent installments also will appear on Truthdig. The author is a senior fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

American Planning for a Hundred Holocausts

One day in the spring of 1961, soon after my 30th birthday, I was shown how our world would end. Not the Earth, not—so far as I knew then—all humanity or life, but the destruction of most cities and people in the Northern Hemisphere.

What I was handed, in a White House office, was a single sheet of paper with some numbers and lines on it. It was headed “Top Secret—Sensitive”; under that, “For the President’s Eyes Only.”

The “Eyes Only” designation meant that, in principle, it was to be seen and read only by the person to whom it was explicitly addressed, in this case the president. In practice this usually meant that it would be seen by one or more secretaries and assistants as well: a handful of people, sometimes somewhat more, instead of the scores to hundreds who would normally see copies of a “Top Secret—Sensitive” document.

Later, working in the Pentagon as the special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense, I often found myself reading copies of cables and memos marked “Eyes Only” for someone, though I was not that addressee, nor for that matter was my boss. And already by the time I read this one, as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, it was routine for me to read “Top Secret” documents. But I had never before seen one marked “For the President’s Eyes Only,” and I never did again.

The deputy assistant to the president for national security, my friend and colleague Bob Komer, showed it to me. A cover sheet identified it as the answer to a question President John F. Kennedy had addressed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff a week earlier. Komer showed it to me because I had drafted the question, which Komer had sent in the president’s name.

The question to the JCS was: “If your plans for general [nuclear] war are carried out as planned, how many people will be killed in the Soviet Union and China?”

Their answer was in the form of a graph (see representation below). The vertical axis was the number of deaths, in millions. The horizontal axis was time, indicated in months. The graph was a straight line, starting at time zero on the horizontal—on the vertical axis, the number of immediate deaths expected within hours of our attack—and slanting upward to a maximum at six months, an arbitrary cutoff for the deaths that would accumulate over time from initial injuries and from fallout radiation.

The lowest number, at the left of the graph, was 275 million deaths. The number at the right-hand side, at six months, was 325 million.

That same morning, with Komer’s approval, I drafted another question to be sent to the Joint Chiefs over the president’s signature, asking for a total breakdown of global deaths from our own attacks, to include not only the whole Sino-Soviet bloc but all other countries that would be affected by fallout. Again their answer was prompt. Komer showed it to me about a week later, this time in the form of a table with explanatory footnotes.

In sum, 100 million more deaths, roughly, were predicted in East Europe. There might be an additional 100 million from fallout in West Europe, depending on which way the wind blew (a matter, largely, of the season). Regardless of season, still another 100 million deaths, at least, were predicted from fallout in the mostly neutral countries adjacent to the Soviet bloc or China: Finland, Austria, Afghanistan, India, Japan and others. Finland, for example, would be wiped out by fallout from U.S. ground-burst explosions on the Soviet submarine pens at Leningrad. (The total number of “casualties”—injured as well as killed—had not been requested and was not estimated; nor were casualties from any Soviet retaliatory strikes.)

The total death toll as calculated by the Joint Chiefs, from a U.S. first strike aimed primarily at the Soviet Union and China, would be roughly 600 million dead. A hundred Holocausts.

* * *

I remember what I thought when I held the single sheet with the graph on it. I thought, this piece of paper should not exist. It should never have existed. Not in America. Not anywhere, ever. It depicted evil beyond any human project that had ever existed. There should be nothing on Earth, nothing real, that it referred to.

But I knew what it dealt with was all too real. I had seen some of the smaller bombs myself, H-bombs with an explosive yield of 1.1 megatons each—equivalent to 1.1 million tons of high explosive, each bomb half the total explosive power of all the bombs of World War II combined. I saw them slung under single-pilot F-100 fighter-bombers on alert at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, ready to take off on 10 minutes’ notice. On one occasion I had laid my hand on one of these, not yet loaded on a plane. On a cool day, the smooth metallic surface of the bomb was warm from the radiation within: a bodylike warmth.

I was in Okinawa in the fall of 1959 as part of a task force organized by the Office of Naval Research, which was there to study and improve nuclear command and control for the commander in chief of the Pacific Command (CINCPAC), Adm. Harry D. Felt. I was on loan from the RAND Corp., which I had joined as a full-time employee in June 1959 after a previous summer there as a consultant. This particular study took us to every command post in the Pacific that year and the next—from Oahu to Guam, Tokyo, Taiwan and the command ship of the Seventh Fleet—with license from Adm. Felt to “talk to anyone, see anything” in the field of nuclear command and control.

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Benjamin R. Barber on Alan Wolfe’s ‘The Future of Liberalism’

As Eric Alterman has shown in his book “Why We’re Liberals,” on most core policy issues from health and abortion to civil rights and foreign policy, the majority of Americans are decidedly liberal. Nonetheless, thanks in part to a toxically ubiquitous conservative punditocracy that has managed to equate liberalism with treason (Ann Coulter), terrorism and evil (Sean Hannity) and a mental disorder (Michael Savage), the term liberalism is widely derogated, and many who are in fact liberals assiduously avoid the label. Asked in 2004 whether he and his oh-so-liberal presidential running mate John Kerry were actually liberals, Sen. John Edwards said no, no, they were “mainstream America.”

With this as political context, Alan Wolfe deserves considerable credit for not only accepting the liberal label, but writing over 300 pages of text to defend liberalism and explore its future. Unfortunately, on the way to giving liberalism a respectable pedigree and a promising future, Wolfe draws a rather too pretty and simplistic picture of liberalism, which, in his verbal flourishes, “manages the complexities of modernity” better than any of its rivals (like nationalism or socialism or conservatism or romanticism) without losing its affinity for tradition and religion; which eschews the perils of “progressivism” (a “wrong turn” on liberalism’s road!) and “flirts” with elitism (in a good way, of course!) without denying equality and democracy their due; which is “the most appropriate political philosophy for our times”; which is not skeptical of religion but friendly to religious freedom and hence to “non-oppressive” religion; and perhaps most important for a book so embedded in the history of political theory, which knows how to distinguish the bad sources—above all Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Carl Schmitt—from the good sources such as the Johns, Locke and Dewey, and hence is a liberalism that is “honest about itself.”

The victory Wolfe’s “The Future of Liberalism” achieves in putting up a fight on behalf of liberalism is, for these very reasons, badly compromised by what the author does to liberal theory on the way to rescuing it. As Alterman has written, “liberals are never so influential in American politics as when they mouth conservative pieties,” and Wolfe mouths enough such pieties on his way to opening a road to liberalism’s future that he earns a blurb from anti-liberal neocon William Bennett. The theoretical foundation on which he builds his liberal understanding is in fact deeply defective: It is undialectical, innocent of the subtleties of historical political theory, and both far too biased against democracy, progressivism and socialism and far too oblivious to the perils of property as power (i.e., capitalism) to secure anything other than a safe and predictable theorization of Democratic Leadership Council-style middle-of-the-roadism. Wolfe’s is a liberalism nearly impossible to distinguish from conservative pieties, whether they are neoliberal pieties about the market or neoconservative pieties about religion; a liberalism, in other words, that seems to have forgotten its defining origins in resistance, revolution and the democratic quest for justice.

The strength of the book is an accommodating, tolerant, bland approach to liberty and modernity that picks few quarrels with the center right, posits no real tensions between liberalism and good religion, good tradition and good security, and anticipates no real internal conflicts in liberalism other than those imposed by illiberals—such as romantics, conservatives, nationalists and socialists—all of whom Wolfe tolerates as long as they are not too critical of liberalism.

To see long excerpts from “The Future of Liberalism,” click here.

The weakness of the book is an accommodating, tolerant, bland approach to liberty and modernity that sees no real tensions and conflicts because it denies dialectic, misreads the history of political thought, ignores capitalism and its costs, and completely misreads Rousseau—one of revolutionary liberalism’s most vital sources, construed by Wolfe here, however, as an enemy of liberty.

Wolfe has written a would-be left-of-center (i.e., liberal!) book that accommodates more or less everything and everybody except leftists. Rather than embracing and trying to make sense of the all too real conflicts between liberalism and equality, liberalism and religion or liberalism and tradition (which is what dialectic tries to do), he simply denies the tensions altogether and treats them as members of one happy family.

To ground this indictment of Wolfe’s book convincingly would take us beyond the parameters of a review. But let me try at least to demonstrate how destructive to true liberalism Wolfe’s aversion to dialectical thinking is by looking briefly at two features of his argument: his misunderstanding of liberal theory and its historical roots as a result of his misreading of Rousseau as an ideologist; and his flawed account of liberal practice in the absence of any discussion of capitalism, power and property.

The confounding of philosophy and ideology is the more egregious flaw in Wolfe’s reasoning. The difference between political philosophy and political ideology is that philosophers purvey an encompassing vision of the social world in place of the narrow political programs advanced by ideologists and party partisans. Ideology is akin to melodrama where there are good guys and bad guys, easily decoded by the color of their hats. Philosophy is more like dramatic tragedy, where good and evil are entwined in ways that deepen and complicate character and make it hard to discern the heroes and the villains. Is Aristotle an inegalitarian champion of slavery and human hierarchy or the first truly democratic thinker? Is Machiavelli a classical civic republican who believes in the virtues of the mixed constitution or a cynical power elitist who embraces Princely dictatorship? Is Hobbes the first modern authoritarian (his omnipotent sovereign Leviathan) or the first modern liberal (man’s natural condition of liberty and the voluntarist social contract)? What makes each of these theorists compelling and enduring is that they resist such simplistic dualisms. They cannot be boxed and labeled this way without annihilating their deeper meanings. They are dialectical thinkers whose work denies the very ideological categories by which, in evading their complexities, ideologues try to embrace or dismiss them.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

SWINE FLU CON JOB

By Richard Gale and Gary Null
Progressive Radio Network - 2009-10-07

One hard lesson we should have learned after Wall Street's collapse and the government's handling of the bailout is that there is no reason, whatsoever, for us to sacrifice our good faith and trust in former bankers who now run the Treasury and Federal Reserve.

And now as the flu season gets ready to kick off amidst much fanfare and predictions of doom due to a new H1N1 influenza virus, there is sufficient information to raise very serious doubts whether our nation's health authorities are truly serving the public health instead of commercial interests.

If the flu season goes according to schedule, the vaccine industrial complex will be poised to join Wall Street for record year rip-off profits. We will also likely witness huge Pharma executive bonuses and perhaps gold-plated toilets.

Even if the CDC statisticians' crystal ball used to forecast rampant swine flu infections turns into a complete bust -- which would only be one more added to many other failed flu predictions back to 1976 -- it will nevertheless be a very profitable failure as was the economic collapse for the banking cartel.

The Swine Flu Pandemic -- a Most Profitable Failure

The World Health Organization would like to vaccinate two thirds (4 billion) of the global community, and the US alone is spending $2 billion to stockpile the nation with upwards to 250 million doses.

In the US, such profits could never be accomplished without a dynamic, marketing initiative to convince Americans that vaccines will keep them protected and alive. And what better public relations machine for the vaccine complex, and all its supporters in health insurance and professional medical institutions, than our very own Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Even better, our tax dollars are there to pay for it all.

We pay for the comfort in knowing that the CDC's disinformation campaign will continue to frighten us over the major networks with full reports from 60 Minutes, and all the major news channels and the New York Times. We can also assure vaccine makers that once and for all they are protected from liability in the event of serious flu vaccine injuries.

Nevertheless, the government has a lot of vaccine vials to distribute, therefore, the CDC needs to sustain the fiction of numerous elderly dying in nursing homes, unvaccinated pregnant moms and children facing life threatening complications, and scores of sick and dead burnt into our national consciousness.

It is all part of the CDC's script to get citizens rushing to their doctors, Wal-Marts, and Walgreens to be vaccinated.

Just How Many People are Actually Dying from the Flu?

In a detailed analysis, Peter Doshi, while at Harvard in the mid-2000s, published a devastating study in the British Medical Journal that systematically unveils the flawed predictive science used to publicize our health agencies' influenza statistics and mortality rates.

His analysis shook up enough health authorities to warrant twelve scientists from the CDC and National Institutes of Health to unsuccessfully take him on. Now at MIT, Doshi continues his analysis of a century's worth of influenza mortality data and government manipulation of influenza data, such as the annual figure of 36,000 influenza deaths we hear and read repeatedly.[1]

Dr. Mercola wrote an article about this fallacy over five years ago. Interestingly the numbers still haven' t changed. Closer to the truth is that less than 1,000 people actually died from the regular flu.. The other 35,000 died from pneumonia. This is clearly listed on the CDC's own website.

Although this magical number was for all practical purposes alchemically conjured up via mathematical modeling back in 2003, it continues to be the most holy number in the CDC's PR vocabulary every flu season and is disseminated wide and far by the media and health experts as a justification to have everyone vaccinated..

Doshi draws the conclusion, published in the American Journal of Public Health, that commercial interests are playing the role of "science" in both industry and government.[2]

Public Relations Strategy Based on Fear Mongering

Deconstruction of the CDC's cherry-picked science and a growing skepticism about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines are just some of the obstacles health authorities face. Therefore, no public relations strategy can have a solid multimedia punch on American citizens without opinion leaders serving as the gnomes for the vaccine complex and our heavily invested government health agencies, which are about to be buried in millions of purchased vaccine vials eager for distribution.

This effort requires shock troopers, such as the pro-vaccine prophet Dr. Paul Offit, the creator of the rotavirus vaccine and a staunch critic against any scientist or journalist who discovers or discusses an association between vaccines and severe neurological disorders.

Dr. Offit is on record for an audacious comment that children can tolerate 100,000 vaccinations (yes, you read that number correctly).[3]

However, during this particular flu season, government health officials' may have a more difficult time convincing Americans to be vaccinated for swine flu if recent polls are reliable indicators.

American Polls Show People are Wising Up

The latest Consumers Union poll released on September 30 shows almost two-thirds of parents will withhold vaccinating their children; fifty percent of respondents' rationale is that the vaccine has not been tested thoroughly for safety.[4]

A poll of pregnant mothers conducted by the internet parent support group Mumsnet.com indicates women are turning more suspicious about the flu vaccine's true efficacy and safety. The survey of 1500 respondents found only 6 percent of pregnant women "definitely" taking the shot, while 48 percent said they "definitely" wouldn't.

A parallel poll revealed only 5 percent would definitely vaccinate their children.[5] A more recent San Francisco Chronicle survey finds 54 percent saying the H1N1 flu is nothing to be worried about.[6]

A separate study conducted by Harvard's School of Public Health showed that among the 41 percent who would not get the shot, 44 percent of parents are uncertain they would allow their children to receive it.

Aside from many who expressed a fear of the vaccine's side effects, the poll found 31 percent expressing a distrust in our public health officials providing accurate information on vaccine safety.[7]

Therefore, expect an aggressive government public relations campaign during the coming weeks and even months, while our tax dollars are spent on 250 million shots that independent epidemiological evidence is showing may be ineffective at best, and dangerous at worst.

Europeans Even Less Fearful and More Suspicious of the Hype

European polls indicate that our neighbors on the other side of the great pond are less nervous about the H1N1 strain's severity and far more suspicious towards health officials' rationale for hyping dire warnings of swine flu's dangers.

In France, Le Figaro conducted a poll of 12,050 people showing 69 percent will refuse the vaccination. In a separate French survey, one third of 4,752 doctors, nurses and healthcare workers surveyed would not be inoculated.[8]

Twenty-nine percent of Germans surveyed said they would refuse it "under any circumstance" and an additional 33 percent would likely refuse it.

In the region of Bavaria and Baden Wurttemburg, only 10 percent of those polled said they would submit their arms to injection.

In the UK, a couple polls reported in the Daily Mail last August, showed half of family physicians and a third of UK nurses do not want the swine flu vaccination. Seventy-one percent do not believe the vaccine has been tested enough for safety and the swine flu is much milder than health authorities are saying.

Science and Caution has Gone Out the Window

During the course of the CDC's media war to push forward the vaccine industry's greed for profit, science and reflective caution are being sacrificed.

An important peer-reviewed study appearing in the June 2009 issue of Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry shows a causal relationship between the amounts of ethylmercury (thimerosal) found in inoculations for infants, when administered to monkeys, and cellular toxicity resulting in mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired oxidative reduction activity and degeneration and death in neuronal and fetal cells.[9]

These are all indicative signs found in some with autistic spectrum disorders.

But health officials prefer to ignore such results.

For the future health of American children, the study's findings arrive at a bad time when a recent Harvard study now reports autistic spectrum disorders has risen to 1 in 91 people compared to the earlier 1 in 150 estimate.

But since the study was sponsored by the CDC, the press release makes no indication that just maybe the over-vaccination of children with dozens of injections by the age of 5 years might be a causal factor behind this national epidemic of ASD and other neurological disorders.

During the course of interviewing many parents of autistic children for our documentaries Vaccine Nation and Autism:
Made in the USA, the personal stories we filmed repeatedly were that of a once perfectly healthy and joyful child who, shortly after a vaccination or a series of injections, simply vanished from normality.

However, national health policy today seems to have almost legislated by divine decree that there is no relationship between vaccine ingredients and autism.

Besides, further independent research and first-hand personal stories would only interfere with the propaganda machine and the CDC's "Seven Step Recipe for Generating Interest In, and Demand for, Flu Vaccination."

The 7 Step Recipe -- the CDC's Influenza PR Strategy

Peter Doshi first brought public attention to the CDC's PR influenza strategy known as the Seven Step Recipe. Glen Nowak, now the Director of the CDC's Media Relations, outlined a concise public relations template while serving as the communications spokesperson for the National Immunization Program.

Speaking at the 2004 National Influenza Vaccine Summit, he presented the CDC's seven steps. After a careful review of Nowak's Powerpoint presentation we discover a very detailed and concerted PR and multimedia campaign that includes the following (quotes are from CDC's materials):

  • To encourage the belief that influenza infection can "occur among people for whom influenza is not generally perceived to cause serious complications (e.g., children, healthy adults, healthy seniors)." In other words, promote flu vaccination to those who don't really need it.

  • In order to "foster the demand for flu vaccinations" the CDC should target "medical experts and public health authorities publicly (e.g., via media) [to] state concern and alarm (and predict dire outcomes) -- and urge influenza vaccination."

  • By focusing on the message of dire health threats and human casualties upon those who don't really need to be vaccinated, the CDC will reach its milestone of "framing of the flu season in terms that motivate behavior (e.g., as "very severe," "more severe than last or past years," "deadly").

  • Throughout the flu season, the campaign would continue issuing reports "from health officials and media" to emphasize that "influenza is causing severe illness and/or affecting lots of people -- helping foster the perception that many people are susceptible to a bad case of influenza."

Of course, no marketing strategy is thorough without images.

Ergo another ingredient in the recipe is to use "visible/tangible examples of the seriousness of the illness (e.g., pictures of children, families of those affected coming forward) and people getting vaccinated (the first to motivate, the latter to reinforce)."

The CDC's "key points" indicate we are now in that critical timeframe for the CDC to distribute materials to "a variety of partners." This includes aggressively disseminating all medical reports, studies and PR spins to the soporific media and corporate-funded medical associations to support the government's mass vaccination efforts.

Come November, we will begin to see reports on "pediatric deaths" due to influenza -- although Dr. Martin Meltzer, a CDC expert in health economics, has stated "almost nobody dies of the flu" and "deaths [are] associated with flu, but not necessarily caused by flu."[10]

Apparently, the folks over in the various CDC departments and our different federal health agencies don't communicate with each other very well.

Your Tax Dollars are Spent on Faux Science that Benefits Industry, Not Your Health

So why should our tax dollars go towards fabricating and/or ignoring science in order to vaccinate Americans?

Nowak publicly stated the CDC's reasons on National Public Radio, "… the manufacturers were telling us that they weren't receiving a lot of orders for vaccine for use in November or even December … It really did look like we [CDC] needed to do something to encourage people to get a flu shot.[11]

At this moment, we are witnessing a steady flow press releases and articles in the media to convert Americans to the wisdom of national health vaccination policy. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has issued preliminary positive results from an uncompleted clinical trial testing the H1N1 vaccine on children and young people between 6 months and 17 years of age.

The fact that the entire study only enrolled 70 individuals covering this age range should alone raise red flags about any reliable conclusions after the study is completed.

Moreover, the study is specifically designed for measuring the necessary immune response to protect youth from the swine flu. It is not a safety study.

We usually expect that sound scientific ethics demand clinical trials to be reported after a final analysis of research data, however, the CDC's Seven Step Recipe is not concerned with scientific facts, or rigorous research protocol. It is simply part of the PR game plan to get people vaccinated and to do it fast.

CDC Propaganda

Donald McNeil, a shill for the vaccine complex writing for the New York Times has printed two recent articles aligned with CDC propaganda. He quotes Dr. Jay Butler, chief of the swine flu vaccine task force at the CDC in order to relieve fears about flu vaccine adverse effects, especially to pregnant women.

Dr. Butler said, "There are about 2,400 miscarriages a day in the US. You'll see things that would have happened anyway. But the vaccine doesn't cause miscarriages. It also doesn't cause auto accidents, but they happen."[12]

I hope that is reassuring to all those expectant mothers across the country, especially since none of the approved H1N1 vaccines have undergone rigorous clinical safety trials on pregnant women or the potential adverse effects of mercury-laced vaccines and other ingredients, such as spermacide, detergent and cosmetics, on the developing fetus.

Germany Understands Adjuvant Dangers

Germany on the other hand announced it is now taking preventative measures.

Agreeing that the verdict on ethylmercury and squalene safety for children is unsettled, Germany is requiring the vaccine industry to return to their plants and provide adjuvant- and mercury preservative-free vaccine lots.

McNeil's more recent article in October 7th's New York Times should be read alongside the Seven Step Recipe for a clear visual unfolding of the CDC's PR strategy in action.

McNeil downplays the growing medical realization that the swine flu is in all likelihood much milder than seasonal flu in order to convince us to roll up our sleeves. Following the CDC script, we see the picture of little 3 year old Clayton being vaccinated, while McNeill compares the swine flu death of an 18 year old Tibetan woman in China with a story of joyful young Brandon and his 9 year old sister gleefully surrendering their nostrils for a blast of live-attenuated H1N1 virus.[13]

While finalizing this article, Peter Doshi replied to an email and drew attention to an event in his Harper's article that should force us to pause before rolling up our sleeves.

Briefly, the 2004 flu season was a debacle for the vaccine complex and federal health officials after 50 million doses of flu vaccine promised by Chiron Corporation were made unavailable, therefore, putting the health industry into a panic. In order to lessen the frenzy previously stirred by its public fear tactics, the CDC downgraded the flu's urgency to "an annoying illness", and "stressed the protective benefits of regular hand washing."[14]

Now that is a national policy I can support. I would much prefer the CDC funding Americans' soap bills to ward off an uncertain swine flu pandemic rather than using taxes for unsubstantiated threats from the CDC's national vaccine marketing campaign.

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the genomic industry. Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation's longest running public radio program on nutrition and natural health and a multi-award-winning director of progressive documentary films, including Vaccine Nation.

This is a segment of a larger report that Gary Null's team put together. His team invested more than 3000 hours and $40,000 to provide you with this highly referenced rebuttal to the media propaganda.

Footnotes

  1. Doshi, Peter. "Viral Marketing: The Selling of the Flu Vaccine." Harpers Magazine. March. 2006.

  2. "MIT grad student's study challenges notions of pandemic flu" MIT Tech Talk. April 16, 2008.

  3. Kalb, Claudia. "Stomping through a medical minefield" Newsweek. October 25, 2008.

  4. "Majority of US parents wary of H1N1 vaccine: poll" Reuters Health. October 1, 2009.

  5. http://www.mumsnet.com

  6. Allday, Erin. "Swine flu draws a shrug, field poll shows." SF Gate. October 6, 2009.

  7. "Just 40 percent of adults 'absolutely certain' they will get H1N1 vaccine, survey finds" Science Daily. October 2, 2009.

  8. "Grippe A: des blouses blanches anti-vaccin" SFR, France. September 18, 2009 info.sfr.fr/france/grippe-a-des-blouses-blanches-anti-vaccin,115335

  9. Geier D, King P, Geier M. "Mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired oxidative-reduction activity, degeneration, and death in human neuronal and fetal cells induced by low level exposure to thimerosal and other metal compounds." Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry. Volume 91, Issue 4, June 2009.

  10. Manning, Anita. "Study: Annual flu death toll could be overstated." USA Today. December 11, 2005.

  11. Doshi, Peter. "Are US flu death figures more PR than science?" BMJ 2005; 331:1412 (10 December)

  12. McNeil, Donald. "Don't blame flu shots for all ills, officials say" New York Times. September 28, 2009.

  13. McNeil, Donald. "Swine flu vaccinations start as officials attack myths." New York Times. October 7, 2009.

  14. Doshi, Peter. "Viral Marketing: The Selling of the Flu Vaccine." Harpers Magazine. March. 2006.

FRED MEYER HAS UNION REPS ARRESTED!

Dear JwJ Supporter:

Last week, three UFCW representatives, including the local president, were
arrested for speaking with workers--something guaranteed by law and the
union contract. (Story from UFCW 555 below)

See the photos here:
http://www.jwjpdx.org/jwjnews/2009/union-organizers-arrested-for-talking-to-workers


We need to make sure this kind of bullying is stopped. Stay tuned for an
announcement about the upcoming rally! In the meantime, folks can help
speak up for workers' rights by countering the anti-union spin in the
media, where the headline is "Union officials accused of disrupting Fred
Meyer in Hillsboro" by writing letters to the editor, or commenting on
line at
http://www.oregonlive.com/washingtoncounty/index.ssf/2009/10/union_officials_accused_of_dis.html

Letters can be sent to Hillsboro Argus, People's Forum, P.O. Box 588,
Hillsboro, OR 97123; faxed to 503-648-9191; or E-mailed to
NewsClerk@HillsboroArgus.com. Letters for People's Forum must be signed
originals and preference is given to those no longer than 250 words. For
verification, letters must include address and daytime telephone number,
which will not be published.

From http://www.ufcw555.com/

FRED MEYER CALLS POLICE ON ITS OWN WORKERS' UNION REPRESENTATIVES

(HILLSBORO, OR) - Fred Meyer, one of the most profitable and popular
grocery stores in Oregon, seems intent on damaging its relationship with
the employees who make it so successful. According to charges filed by the
workers' union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555, the
company has interfered with workers while they have been seeking a fair
contract at the bargaining table. And yesterday, the Hillsboro store
manager at Fred Meyer created a scene when he called police to arrest
three union representatives for talking with workers-a right guaranteed to
workers under federal law.

One representative was leaving the store when he was arrested, and
another, Local 555 President Dan Clay, was driving into the parking lot to
find out what was going on when police arrested him.

Union workers at other stores were baffled to hear of the company's
behavior. "We meet with our reps in the store all the time," said Anne
Lilley, a Hillsboro Safeway worker and UFCW Local 555 member. "If we're
not busy, it's easy to just step aside and take care of an issue quickly
with our reps-it's something that workers in grocery stores do every day,
all across the country. I can't believe that Fred Meyer management would
raise a fuss about something so routine."

Fred Meyer workers feel the company's behavior has been undeserved and
unacceptable. "I just don't understand Fred Meyer's actions right now,"
said Fred Meyer employee and UFCW Local 555 member Charlotte Hardin. "I
mean, we have a right to meet with our union at our workplace, and Fred
Meyer knows that. Why this hostile attitude towards our union? It's just
plain disrespectful to Fred Meyer's employees and customers."

Hillsboro resident Linda Sears was shopping at Fred Meyer when the
disruption occurred. She called the manager's behavior "unprofessional and
unnerving."

"Yelling at workers and their union reps," added Fred Meyer employee and
Local 555 member Karyl Feliciano, "and calling the police on our union?
Why would Fred Meyer behave like that? That kind of behavior is totally
disruptive to our customers, and to their shopping experience. It's just
bad for business."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10 BIGGEST STORIES IGNORED BY THE MEDIA-willamette week

Peter Phillips says he’s finished with reform.

Director of Project Censored for 13 years, Phillips says it’s impossible to get major news media outlets to deliver relevant news stories that serve to strengthen democracy.

“I really think we’re beyond reforming corporate media,” says Phillips, a professor of sociology at Sonoma State University. “We’re not going to break up these huge conglomerates. We’re just going to make them irrelevant.”

Every year since 1976, Project Censored has spotlighted the 25 most significant news stories that were largely ignored or misrepresented by the mainstream press. Now the group is expanding its mission—to promote alternative news sources. But it continues to report the biggest national and international stories that the major media ignored.

The term “censored” doesn’t mean some government agent stood over newsrooms with a rubber stamp and forbade publication of the news—or even that the information was completely out of the public eye. The stories Project Censored highlights may have run in one or two news outlets—but didn’t get the type of attention they deserved.

Project Censored staff begins its work by sifting through hundreds of stories nominated by individuals at Sonoma State, where the project is based, as well as 30 affiliate universities nationwide. Articles are verified, fact-checked and selected by a team of students, faculty and evaluators from the wider community, then sent to a panel of national judges to be ranked. The end product is a book, co-edited this year by Phillips and associate director Mickey Huff, which summarizes the top stories, provides in-depth media analysis, and includes resources for readers hungry for more substantive reporting.

The top 25 Project Censored stories of 2008-2009 highlight the same theme that Phillips and Huff say has triggered the downslide of mainstream media: the overwhelming influence of powerful, profit-driven interests.

Here’s this year’s list:


1.

The total Wall Street bailout tab, including money spent and promised by the U.S. government, works out to an estimated $42,000 for every man, woman and child, according to American Casino, a documentary about subprime lending and the financial meltdown. The predatory lending free-for-all, the emergency pumping of taxpayer dollars to prop up mega-banks, and the lavish bonuses handed out to Wall Street executives are all issues that have dominated news headlines.

But another twist has received scant attention from the mainstream news media: the unsettling combination of lax oversight from national politicians with high-dollar campaign contributions from financial players.

“The worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d’├ętat,” Matt Taibbi wrote in “The Big Takeover,” a March 2009 Rolling Stone article. “They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.”

In the 10-year period beginning in 1998, the financial sector spent $1.7 billion on federal campaign contributions, and another $3.4 billion on lobbyists. Since 2001, eight of the most troubled firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional candidates, presidential candidates, and the Republican and Democratic parties.

Wall Street’s spending spree on political contributions coincided with a weakening of federal banking regulations, which in turn created a recipe for the astronomical financial disaster that sent the global economy reeling.

Sources: “Lax Oversight? Maybe $64 Million to DC Pols Explains It,” Greg Gordon, Truthout.org and McClatchy Newspapers, Oct. 2, 2008; “Congressmen Hear from TARP Recipients Who Funded Their Campaigns,” Lindsay Renick Mayer, Capitol Eye, Feb. 10, 2009; “The Big Takeover,” Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, March 2009


2.

Latinos and African-Americans attend more segregated public schools today than they have for four decades, Professor Gary Orfield notes in “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge,” a study conducted by the Civil Rights Project of the University of California Los Angeles. Orfield’s report used federal data to highlight deepening segregation in public education by race and poverty.

About 44 percent of public-school students are people of color, and this group will soon make up the majority of the U.S. population. Yet this racial diversity often isn’t reflected from school to school. Instead, two out of every five African-American and Latino youth attend schools Orfield characterizes as “intensely segregated,” composed of 90 to 100 percent people of color.

For Latinos, the trend reflects growing residential segregation. For African-Americans, the study attributes a significant part of the reversal to the ending of desegregation plans in public schools nationwide. Schools segregated by race and poverty tend to have much higher dropout rates, higher teacher turnover, and greater exposure to crime and gangs, placing students at a major disadvantage in society.

Fifty-five years after the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education ruling,Orfield wrote, “Segregation is fast spreading into large sectors of suburbia, and there is little or no assistance for communities wishing to resist the pressures of resegregation and ghetto creation in order to build successfully integrated schools and neighborhoods.”

Source: “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge,” Gary Orfield, The Civil Rights Project, UCLA, January 2009


3.

Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa were like gold for mainstream news outlets reporting stories of surprise attacks on shipping vessels, daring rescues, and cadres of ragtag bandits extracting multimillion-dollar ransoms.

Even as the pirates’ exploits around the Gulf of Aden captured the world’s attention, however, very little reporting was devoted to factors that made the Somalis desperate enough to resort to piracy: the dumping of nuclear waste and rampant over-fishing in their coastal waters.

In the early 1990s, when the Somali government collapsed, foreign interests began swooping into unguarded coastal waters to trawl for food—and venturing into unprotected Somali territories to cheaply dispose of nuclear waste. Those activities continued with impunity for years. The ramifications of toxic dumping hit full force with the 2005 tsunami, when leaking barrels washed ashore, sickening hundreds and causing birth defects in newborn infants. The uncontrolled fishing harvests, meanwhile, damaged the economic livelihoods of Somali fishermen and eroded the country’s supply of a primary food source. That’s when the piracy started.

“Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome?” asked journalist Johann Hari in a Huffington Post article. “We didn’t act on those crimes—but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, we begin to shriek about ‘evil.’”

Source: “Toxic waste behind Somali piracy,” Najad Abdullahi, Al Jazeera English, Oct. 11, 2008; “You are being lied to about pirates,” Johann Hari, TheHuffington Post, Jan. 4, 2009; “The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the World Ignores the Other,” Mohamed Abshir Waldo, WardheerNews, Jan. 8, 2009


4.

The Shearon Harris nuclear plant in North Carolina’s Wake County isn’t just a power-generating station. The Progress Energy plant, located in a backwoods area, houses the country’s largest radioactive-waste storage pools. Spent fuel rods from two other nuclear plants are transported there by rail, then stored beneath circulating cold water to prevent the radioactive waste from heating.

The hidden danger, according to investigative reporter Jeffrey St. Clair, is the looming threat of a pool fire. Citing a study by Brookhaven National Laboratory, St. Clair highlighted in Counterpunch the catastrophe if a pool were to ignite. A possible 140,000 people could wind up with cancer. Contamination could stretch for thousands of square miles. And damages could reach an estimated $500 billion.

Shearon Harris’ track record is pocked with problems requiring temporary plant shutdowns and malfunctions of its emergency warning system.

When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission got a study highlighting the safety risks and recommending technological fixes, St. Clair noted, a pro-nuclear commissioner successfully persuaded the agency to dismiss the concerns.

Source: “Pools of Fire,” Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch, Aug. 9, 2008


5.

Two years ago, the European Union enacted a bold new environmental policy requiring close scrutiny and restriction of toxic chemicals used in everyday products. Invisible perils such as lead in lipstick, endocrine disruptors in baby toys, and mercury in electronics can threaten human health. And the European legislation aimed to gradually phase out these toxic materials and replace them with safer alternatives.

The story unreported by mainstream U.S. news media, however, is how this game-changing legislation might affect the United States, where chemical corporations use lobbying muscle to ensure comparatively lax oversight of toxic substances. As global markets shift to favor safer consumer products, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lags far behind in its own scrutiny of insidious chemicals.

As investigative journalist Mark Schapiro pointed out in “Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power,” the EPA’s tendency to behave as if it were beholden to big business could backfire, placing U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage because products made here will be regarded with increasing distrust.

Economics aside, the implications of loose restrictions on toxic products are chilling: Just one-third of the 267 chemicals on the EU’s watch list have ever been tested by the EPA, and only two are regulated under federal law. Meanwhile, researchers at University of California Berkeley estimate 42 billion pounds of chemicals enter U.S. commerce daily, and only a fraction of them have ever undergone risk assessments.

Sources: “European Chemical Clampdown Reaches Across Atlantic,” David Biello, Scientific American, Sept. 30, 2008; “How Europe’s New Chemical Rules Affect US,” Environmental Defense Fund, Sept. 30, 2008; “U.S. Lags Behind Europe in Regulating Toxicity of Everyday Products,” Mark Schapiro, Democracy Now!, Feb. 24, 2009

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6.

In 2008, as the economy tumbled and unemployment soared, Washington lobbyists working for special interests were paid $3.2 billion—more than any other year on record. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, special interests spent a collective $32,523 per legislator, per day, for every day Congress was in session.

One event that triggered the lobbying boom, according to CRP director Sheila Krumholz, was the federal bailout. With the U.S. government shelling out billions in stimulus money, industries wanted to ensure they’d get a piece. Ironically, some of the first in line were the same players who helped precipitate the sharp economic downturn by engaging in high-risk, speculative lending practices.

“Even though some financial, insurance and real estate interests pulled back last year, they still managed to spend more than $450 million as a sector to lobby policy makers,” Krumholz noted. “That can buy a lot of influence, and it’s a fraction of what the financial sector is reaping in return through the government’s bailout program.”

The list of highest-ranking spenders on D.C. lobbying reads like a roster of some of the nation’s most powerful interests. Topping the list was the health sector, which spent $478.5 million lobbying Congress last year. A very close runner-up was the finance, insurance and real-estate sector, spending $453.5 million. Pharmaceutical companies plunked down $230 million, electric utilities spent $156.7 million, and oil and gas companies paid lobbyists $133.2 million.

Source: “Washington Lobbying Grew to $3.2 Billion Last Year, Despite Economy,” Center for Responsive Politics, opensecrets.org


7.

President Obama’s appointments to the Department of Defense have raised serious questions among critics who’ve studied the appointees’ track records. Although the media haven’t paid much attention, the appointees carry controversial histories and conflicts of interest due to close ties to defense contractors.

Obama’s decision to retain Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, marks the first time a president has opted to keep a defense secretary of an outgoing opposing party in power.

Gates, a former CIA director, has faced criticism for allegedly spinning intelligence reports for political means. In “Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA,” author and former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman described Gates as “the chief action officer for the Reagan administration’s drive to tailor intelligence reporting to White House political desires.” Gates also came under scrutiny for questions surrounding whether he misled Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid-1980s. He also was accused of withholding information from intelligence committees when the United States provided military aid to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

Critics are also uneasy about the appointment of Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, who served as a senior vice president at defense giant Raytheon and was a registered lobbyist for the company until July 2008. Lynn, who served as Pentagon comptroller under the Clinton administration, came under fire during his confirmation hearing due to “questionable accounting practices.” The Defense Department flunked multiple audits under Lynn’s leadership, because it could not properly account for $3.4 trillion in financial transactions made over the course of several years.

Sources: “The Danger of Keeping Robert Gates,” Robert Parry, ConsortiumNews.com, Nov. 13, 2008; “Obama’s Defense Department Appointees—The 3.4 Trillion Dollar Question,” Andrew Hughes, Global Research, Feb. 13, 2009; “Obama Nominee Admiral Dennis Blair Aided Perpetrators of 1999 Church Killings in East Timor,” Allan Nairn, Democracy Now!, Jan. 7, 2009; “Ties to Chevron, Boeing Raise Concern on Possible NSA Pick,” Roxana Tiron, The Hill, Nov. 24, 2008


8.

The Cayman Islands and Bermuda are magnets for financial giants such as Bank of America, Citigroup, American International Group and 11 other beneficiaries of the federal government’s 2008 Wall Street bailout. That’s because the offshore oasis provides safe harbors to stash cash out of the government’s reach.

According to a 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office—which was largely ignored by the news media—83 of the top publicly held U.S. companies, including some receiving substantial portions of federal bailout dollars, have operations in tax havens that let them avoid paying their fair share to the Internal Revenue Service. The report also spotlighted the activities of Union Bank of Switzerland, which has helped wealthy Americans to use tax schemes to cheat the IRS out of billions in recent years.

In December 2008, banking giant Goldman Sachs reported its first-ever quarterly loss, then followed up with a statement that its tax rate would drop from 34.1 percent to 1 percent, citing “changes in geographic earnings mix” as the reason. The difference: Instead of paying $6 billion in total worldwide taxes as it did in 2007, Goldman Sachs would pay a total of $14 million in 2008. In the same year, it received $10 billion and debt guarantees from the U.S. government.

Sources: “Goldman Sachs’s Tax Rate Drops to 1%, or $14 Million,” Christine Harper, Bloomberg, Dec. 16, 2008; “Gimme Shelter: Tax Evasion and the Obama Administration,” Thomas B. Edsall, The Huffington Post, Feb. 23, 2009


9.

In mid-January, as part of a military campaign, the Israeli Defense Forces fired several shells that hit the headquarters of a United Nations relief agency in Gaza City, destroying provisions for basic aid such as food and medicine.

The shells contained white phosphorus, a smoke-producing, spontaneously flammable agent designed to obscure battle territory but can also ignite buildings or cause grotesque burns if it touches the skin.

The attack on the relief-agency headquarters is but one example of a civilian structure that researchers discovered had been hit during the January air strikes. In the aftermath of the attacks, Human Rights Watch volunteers found spent white phosphorus shells on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a U.N. school in Gaza.

Human Rights Watch says IDF’s use of white phosphorus violated international law, which absolutely prohibits deliberate, indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks that result in civilian casualties. After gathering evidence such as spent shells, the international organization issued a report condemning the repeated firing of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza as a war crime. Amnesty International, another human-rights organization, followed suit by calling upon the United States to suspend military aid to Israel—but to no avail.

The United States was a primary source of funding and weaponry for Israel’s military campaign. Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus.

Sources: “White Phosphorus Use Evidence of War Crimes Report: Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” Fred Abrahams, Human Rights Watch, March 25, 2009; “Suspend Military Aid to Israel, Amnesty Urges Obama after Detailing U.S. Weapons Used in Gaza,” Rory McCarthy, Guardian (U.K.), Feb. 23, 2009; “U.S. Weaponry Facilitates Killings in Gaza,” Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service, Jan. 8, 2009; “U.S. Military Re-Supplying Israel With Ammunition Through Greece,” Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News, Jan. 8, 2009


10.

When President Rafael Correa announced Ecuador would default on its foreign debt last December, he didn’t say it was because his country couldn’t pay. Rather, he framed it as a moral stand: “As president, I couldn’t allow us to keep paying a debt that was obviously immoral and illegitimate,” Correa told an international news agency. The news was mainly reported in financial publications, and the stories tended to quote harsh critics who characterized Correa as an extreme leftist with ties to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But there’s much more to the story. The announcement came after an exhaustive audit of Ecuador’s debt, conducted under Correa’s direction by a newly created debt audit commission. The unprecedented audit documented hundreds of allegations of irregularity and illegality in the decades of debt collection from international lenders. Although Ecuador had made payments exceeding the value of the principal since the time it initially took out loans in the 1970s, its foreign debt had nonetheless swelled to levels three times as high due to extraordinarily high interest rates. With a huge percentage of the country’s financial resources devoted to paying the debt, little was left over to combat poverty in Ecuador.

Correa’s move to stand up against foreign lenders did not go unnoticed by other impoverished, debt-ridden nations, and the decision could set a precedent for developing countries struggling to get out from under massive debt obligation to First World lenders.

Ecuador eventually agreed to a debt restructuring at about 35 cents on the dollar, but the move nonetheless served to expose deficiencies in the World Bank system, which provides little recourse for countries to resolve disputes over potentially illegitimate debt.

Sources: “As Crisis Mounts, Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate and Illegal,” Daniel Denvir, Alternet, Nov. 26, 2008; “Invalid Loans to Ecuador: Who Owes Who,” Committee for the Integral Audit of Public Credit, Utube, Fall 2008; “Ecuador’s Debt Default,” Neil Watkins and Sarah Anders, Foreign Policy in Focus, Dec. 15, 2008

Other stories in the Top 25

11. Private corporations profit from the occupation of Palestine

12. Mysterious death of Mike Connell—Karl Rove’s election thief

13. Katrina’s hidden race war

14. Congress invested in defense contracts

15. World Bank’s carbon trade fiasco

16. U.S. repression of Haiti continues

17. The ICC facilitates U.S. covert war in Sudan

18. Ecuador’s constitutional rights of nature

19. Bank bailout recipients spent to defeat labor

20. Secret control of the presidential debates

21. Recession causes states to cut welfare

22. Obama’s Trilateral Commission team

23. Activists slam World Water Forum as a corporate-driven fraud

24. Dollar glut finances U.S. military expansion

25. Fast track oil exploitation in western Amazon.

Read them all at projectcensored.org.

Phillips is stepping down this year as director of Project Censored and turning his attention toward a new endeavor called Media Freedom International, which will tap academic affiliates to verify the content put out by independent news outlets.

Benjamin Frymer, a sociology professor at Sonoma State, will replace Phillips as director of Project Censored.

SWINE FLU UPDATE

I, like many others, consider 60-Minutes an excellent source of journalism. Their executive producer, Don Hewitt died earlier this year after leading the program for 41 years to one of the most successful programs in the history of television. His guiding principle was to tell a story and is actually a strategy I am seeking to implement on this site.

Last Sunday, their lead story was no exception and followed the champion strategy of telling the story of a young high school football player who was infected with the H1N1 virus.
You can see the 60 minutes interview from 1977, over 30 years ago. This is in stark contrast to this segment. Admittedly it was done long after the damage was done but if you look at 4:15 you will see one of the CDS consultants clearly state he warned them of this danger and yet when the CDC head is confronted with this, he denies it.

Do you think much has changed in the last 30 years? If anything, conflict of interest has gotten much worse.

This past Sunday's 60 Minutes segment did ask some hard questions to the Assistant Surgeon General. However, what was missing is that they didn't ask why CDC officials persist in telling the public that this H1N1 strain of influenza is quite dangerous when the experience of those in the southern hemisphere, which just finished their flu season, is in direct conflict with what the CDC is telling the American people.

Overall 60 Minutes did a fairly good, objective piece of journalism that told the truth. They even pressured the Assistant Surgeon General about the vaccine's safety. On one hand, she's hitching her safety statements to the fact that the H1N1 vaccine is similar to seasonal influenza vaccine, and therefore "safe," even though she realistically CAN'T say that the new H1N1 swine flu vaccine is safe, or that it has been thoroughly tested because it only has been tested for a few weeks.

On the other hand CDC officials are screaming that H1N1 is so different from the seasonal influenza strains that have circulated in the past few decades that a national alarm must be sounded and everyone needs to be so afraid that we all should get vaccinated to prevent a deadly pandemic. This is completely inconsistent and irrational logic.

Come on CDC, you simply can't have it both ways.

Questions that Were Are Not Being Asked

The interviewer on the 60 Minutes segment did ask some hard questions, but he, like most of the mainstream media did not ask important questions that are absolutely essential to understand precisely what is going on with this "pandemic"

There have been 81 children from H1N1 in the US. These of course are tragic.

How many pediatric deaths occurred in children who:

  • Were positively lab confirmed as H1N1;

  • Had underlying chronic immune and brain dysfunction

  • Were fully vaccinated according to CDC recommendations

  • Had received influenza vaccine this year

  • Had received seasonal influenza vaccine in previous years

  • Received Tamiflu or another anti-viral prior to death

  • Had a coinciding bacterial infection with H1N1

  • Were never vaccinated - totally unvaccinated

Other Important Observations on the Segment

It is quite clear from the video that Luke did not get worse until after he visited the physician and was given an antipyretic and possibly Tamiflu. Certainly it could have been coincidence but it is an interesting observation.

No mention was made if Luke had been vaccinated for seasonal or H1N1?

Additionally there was no reference made to the last swine flu epidemic in the US when 50 million people got the swine flu vaccine and more people died from the vaccine than the swine flu itself -- and that's not counting all those that developed permanent neurological damage.

Why is no one reminding the public of this well documented and vitally important part of vaccine history?

Your Immune System is Perfectly Capable of Fighting H1N1

Additionally what the 60 minutes segment failed to mention is that it is relatively easy to improve your immune response to fight this infection.

If 99.9% of the people are not having any serious complications from the infection, it would seem perfectly rational to believe that minor lifestyle changes could have dramatic effects on fighting this infection, and none of these involve taking potentially dangerous and unproven vaccine interventions.

Simple Measures That Can Help You Fight Illness

  • Vitamin D has been well documented to increase the production of over 200 anti microbial peptides that fight infection.

  • Eliminate sugar from your diet as that will impair your immune response

  • Get plenty of rest

  • Exercise appropriately

  • Take appropriate supplements like oil of oregano extract, propolis, olive leaf extract, elder flower extract, acerola, DMG.

However you will need to know the above BEFORE you purchase any supplements on that list. Any company that informs you of the above will be in violation of US Federal law and a newly created Swine Flu Task Force has been given the authority to shut the business down and even throw owners in jail.

Violations of these new rules are being prosecuted even more aggressively than alternative cancer treatments. Earlier this week, Dr. Andrew Weil actually received an FDA/FTC warning letter that threatens jail time for failure to comply with the rules.

3) The Canadian preliminary study is provocative in that it suggests those who have gotten seasonal influenza vaccine in the past may be at greater risk for getting H1N1 and having complications. This reinforces NVIC's call for a comparison of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated individuals for all health outcomes.

Notice When Things Don't Add Up...

Interestingly, the 60 minutes segment acknowledges that many people born before 1950 have antibodies to the new H1N1 influenza and are naturally protected.

WAKE UP AMERICA, this is before ANY vaccine was available!

If influenza vaccines are so effective, then why don't they work to protect people that have been getting their flu shots all these years?

(There is a new Canadian study that suggests those who have gotten seasonal influenza vaccines in the past may be at greater risk for getting H1N1 swine flu. This information reinforces NVIC's call for a comparison of the long term health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated children).

The answer is, of course, that vaccines do not offer long term immunity. Natural immunity is what you gain when you recover from influenza and natural immunity is what is protecting older Americans, who have recovered from exposure to H1N1 strains of influenza in the past.

What is unknown is whether the massive amount of vaccine exposure in the US population has critically weakened people's ability to mount an effective immune response to novel infections like H1N1.

It was discouraging to see 60 Minutes end their segment on H1N1 influenza vaccine with an encouragement to go to their website to find out where to get a swine flu vaccination...

Fighting Back in the Courts -- and Winning!

Last week the New York state Supreme Court judge issued a restraining order against the state from enforcing mandatory vaccination.

This came about as a result of a lawsuit by the Public Employees Federation, the New York State United Teachers, and an attorney representing four Albany, NY nurses, who sought to reverse the policy that required New York hospital workers to get the swine flu vaccine or face termination. The suit argued that NY state Health Commissioner Richard Daines had overstepped his authority.

The Supreme Court ruled that the vaccination for nurses, doctors, aides, and non-medical staff members who might be in contact with patients, remain voluntary.

This is an incredible victory, and a vital one. And it shows that there are still ways to oppose the complete disintegration of human rights, choice, and freedom.

In addition to that, on October 15, another group of health freedom advocates, including Dr. Gary Null and other New York health care workers, filed an emergency injunction in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent the distribution of the swine flu vaccine, and to void the FDA swine flu vaccine approvals already granted on September 15.

The complaint alleges that the government failed to follow its own rules and applicable legislation in rushing the vaccine approvals in the absence of any of the requisite minimum scientifically sound and appropriate testing for both safety and effectiveness as required by law since 1964.

I will keep you posted on the progress of that injunction.

Criticism is Par for the Course When Advocating Non-Conventional Views

It's impossible to take a stance against such an ingrained medical paradigm as vaccines without taking some hits, and I've taken my fair share lately. Some bloggers and doctors are naturally unhappy with what I'm disseminating, so I'd like to take a moment to clarify my own views.

First of all, I'm glad that people from both sides of this debate are available to discuss it because that is what we desperately need -- discussion. Conventional medicine has routinely ignored and ridiculed the voices speaking up for a "safety first" approach. We need to have an open, public discussion about the realities and dangers of what we're doing, and whether or not vaccination is the safest approach to preventing chronic illness and maintaining health.

So I'm actually pleased that the opposition is taking the time to read my material, as are millions of others who already agree and have looked deeply enough into the matter to understand my position.

The fact of the matter is that vaccinations do not optimize immune function and there is way too little information about what else they do in the human body that may contribute to poor health. My main point is that there are ways to prevent illness and maintain health that are so much more natural, easier, less expensive and more effective than routine use of multiple vaccines in childhood and throughout life.

So in many ways I am grateful for the swine flu challenge that we are now going through, because it allows us the opportunity to expose flaws in vaccine system and the way mainstream medicine thinks about health and wellness.

Is the Swine Flu "Deadly," or Not?

There are far too many points of criticism to respond to them all, but let's review one point that has come up -- a point that is commonly heralded by mandatory vaccination advocates.

Many of them take serious issue with my claiming that the swine flu is not deadly, and use that to insinuate that I'm spitting on the graves of the children who have died.

Nearly all of them, just like the CDC and mainstream media, use the statistic that 36,000 people die from the influenza every year. I actually wrote an article about this fallacy more than five years ago.

Interestingly that number has remained static as if carved into stone all these years.

However, the truth is that less than 1,000 people actually died from type A or type B influenza. The other 35,000 died from pneumonia. This is actually clearly listed on the CDC's own website, yet virtually everyone ignores this fact.

Dr. David Rosenthal, Director of Harvard University's Health Services, brings further clarity to this confusion.

Most of these so-called influenza deaths are in fact bacterial pneumonias -- not even viral pneumonias -- and secondary infections. Furthermore, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Academy shows that many of these deaths are a result of pneumonias acquired by patients taking stomach acid suppressing drugs.

So, for example, if we are to take the combined figure of influenza and pneumonia deaths during the flu season of 2001, and add a bit of spin to the figures, we are left believing that 62,034 people died from influenza.

The actual figures are 61,777 died from pneumonia and only 257 from influenza.

Even more amazing, in those 257 cases, only 18 were lab confirmed as positive for the influenza virus!

In my opinion, there's a vast difference between 257 deaths and 36,000 deaths from influenza..

A separate study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics for seasonal influenza seasons between 1979 and 2002 reveals that the range of annual influenza deaths were between 257 and 3,006, for an average of 1,348 influenza deaths per year.1

Again, nowhere near the 36,000 mortality mark that has been etched into stone by those who are advocating annual flu shots.

Although the loss of even a single life is tragic, I don't think anyone would look at these numbers and say that a mortality rate of less than 1,350 is cause to label influenza a "deadly disease" that requires mandatory influenza vaccination.

Listen to the CDC's Own Admissions!

So, how does the CDC respond to this discrepancy reported by the Harvard scientist?

Please read carefully the CDC's own statement:

"Typically, influenza causes death when the infection leads to severe medical complications... [and as most such cases] are never tested for virus infection...

...CDC considers these figures to be very substantial undercounting of the true number of deaths from influenza. Therefore, the CDC uses indirect modeling methods to estimate the number of deaths associated with influenza."

In an earlier 2003 article JAMA, William Thompson from the CDC's National Immunization Program attempted to explain "influenza-associated mortality." He wrote,

"Based on modeling, we think it's associated. I don't know that we would say that it's the underlying cause of death."2

In summary, the CDC is admitting:

  • Deceased are not tested to determine the presence of the flu virus, and

  • They do not directly perform any direct testing to determine the exact cause of death. "Indirect modeling methods" is a professional way of saying they use subjective mathematical equations to arrive at their figures.

The 36,000 mortality figure is nothing more than a mathematical model. The British Journal concluded that the only possible rationale for the CDC's complete disregard for scientific fact, even in face of independent research to discredit its statistics, is a public relations effort between the CDC and the vaccine manufacturer's campaigns to increase flu vaccination.

What IS a "Deadly Disease"?

As of October 11, 2009 the World Health Organization reported that, worldwide, there have been more than 399,232 laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1, and over 4,735 deaths.

Folks, that is 4,735 deaths in the ENTIRE world, not just the US!

Most all of these deaths occurred in immunocompromised individuals.

Now I do not want to diminish the value of any life, but what is needed here is a critical perspective.

Malaria kills ONE MILLION people EVERY YEAR, worldwide. Death is a direct result of the malaria infection.

So every DAY 2,740 people are dropping dead from malaria, whereas less than 13 people per day died from the swine flu in the past year, worldwide (if you disregard that most died not as a direct result of the swine flu virus, but from having poor immune function which led to serious secondary infections and complications).

Did you ever wonder why malaria doesn't get much press coverage? Doesn't it strike you as odd that more isn't done to clamp down on such a deadly disease if governments are talking about quarantine centers at airports and suspending personal choice and freedom over the swine flu?

Confusion and Misdirection IS at Work. But Why?

A thorough , comparative analysis of several flu pandemics has been published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, that gives evidence that the H1N1 swine flu is of "the same subtype as seasonal H1N1 that has been circulating since 1977."3 The author points out the substantial confusion between the high public attention the present H1N1 scare is receiving and the very low level of scientific certainty that H1N1 is more severe than other seasonal influenza.

With the facts at hand, it is easy to detect a pattern of misdirection and purposeful confusion.

Doesn't it make you wonder why?

You Can Make a Difference

Most polls show that we ARE making a difference because more people are becoming educated about influenza and flu vaccines, especially H1N1 swine flu. Recent national polls have revealed that 30 to 50% in many communities are not planning to get a swine flu shot. Those who haven't made up their minds yet have lots of questions. So we have created some posters that you can print and post ALL over your community, your local stores, office and schools.

Hopefully more people will wake up and recognize that it is not wise to blindly trust information that is one-sided and doesn't provide ALL the facts about seasonal and H1N1 swine flu and influenza vaccines. People now have access to information from a wide range of sources, which they can independently evaluate to make educated decisions and Take Control of Their Health!

One way we can make a BIG difference in protecting our right to make informed, voluntary vaccination choices is to support the three-decades of work by the National Vaccine Information Center to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths; protect exemptions in vaccine laws and promote scientific research into the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated children. I have made this non-profit organization -- America's Vaccine Safety Watchdog - one of my favorite charities and I urge you to become a donor member and help NVIC protect your informed consent rights and your children's health. Go to www.NVIC.org to learn more.

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