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Below are one-paragraph excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These news articles include revealing information on the U.S. Army research program into methods of assassination by radiation in the late 1940s, the current programs funded by the U.S. government to develop and deploy miniature spy drones, the approval by the E.P.A. of a highly dangerous pesticide despite strong objections from many renowned scientists, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and the WantToKnow.info Team
U.S. Weighed Radioactive Poisons
October 9, 2007, Washington Post/Associated Press
In one of the longest-held secrets of the Cold War, the U.S. Army explored the potential for using radioactive poisons to assassinate "important individuals" such as military or civilian leaders, according to newly declassified documents obtained by The Associated Press. Approved at the highest levels of the Army in 1948, the effort was a well-hidden part of the military's pursuit of a "new concept of warfare" using radioactive materials from atomic bombmaking to contaminate swathes of enemy land or to target military bases, factories or troop formations. Military historians who have researched the broader radiological warfare program said in interviews that they had never before seen evidence that it included pursuit of an assassination weapon. No targeted individuals are mentioned in references to the assassination weapon in the government documents declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the AP in 1995. The decades-old records were released recently to the AP, heavily censored by the government to remove specifics about radiological warfare agents and other details. The documents give no indication whether a radiological weapon for targeting high-ranking individuals was ever used or even developed by the United States. They leave unclear how far the Army project went. One memo from December 1948 outlined the project and another memo that month indicated it was under way. The main sections of several subsequent progress reports in 1949 were removed by censors before release to the AP. The broader effort on offensive uses of radiological warfare apparently died by about 1954, at least in part because of the Defense Department's conviction that nuclear weapons were a better bet. Whether the work migrated to another agency such as the CIA is unclear.
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on government-sponsored assassinations and assassination programs, click here.
Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs.
October 9, 2007, Washington Post
Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square last month. "I heard someone say, 'Oh my god, look at those,' " the college senior from New York recalled. "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?' They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects." Out in the crowd, Bernard Crane saw them, too. "I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' " Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security. No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones. But a number of U.S. government and private entities acknowledge they are trying. So what was seen by Crane, Alarcon and a handful of others at the D.C. march -- and as far back as 2004, during the Republican National Convention in New York, when one observant ... peace-march participant described on the Web "a jet-black dragonfly hovering about 10 feet off the ground, precisely in the middle of 7th Avenue . . . watching us?" Three people at the D.C. event independently described a row of spheres, the size of small berries, attached along the tails of the big dragonflies -- an accoutrement that [Jerry Louton, an entomologist at the National Museum of Natural History,] could not explain. And all reported seeing at least three maneuvering in unison. "Dragonflies never fly in a pack," he said. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice said her group is investigating witness reports and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several federal agencies. If such devices are being used to spy on political activists, she said, "it would be a significant violation of people's civil rights."
Note: To read further reliable reports of threats to our civil liberties, click here.
EPA approves new pesticide despite scientists' concerns
October 6, 2007, Los Angeles Times
Despite the protests of more than 50 scientists, including five Nobel laureates in chemistry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday approved use of a new, highly toxic fumigant, mainly for strawberry fields. The new pesticide, methyl iodide, is designed for growers, mainly in California and Florida, who need to replace methyl bromide, which has been banned under an international treaty because it damages the Earth's ozone layer. In a letter sent last month to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, 54 scientists, mostly chemists, warned that "pregnant women and the fetus, children, the elderly, farmworkers and other people living near application sites would be at serious risk." Methyl iodide is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that has caused thyroid tumors, neurological damage and miscarriages in lab animals. But EPA officials said Friday that they carefully evaluated the risks and decided to approve its use for one year, imposing restrictions such as buffer zones to protect farmworkers and neighbors. Growers, particularly those who grow strawberries and tomatoes, have been searching for 15 years for a new soil fumigant to replace methyl bromide. Fumigants are valuable to growers because they can be injected into the soil before planting to sterilize the field and kill a broad spectrum of insects and diseases without leaving residue on crops. But fumigants are among the most potentially dangerous pesticides in use today because the toxic gas can evaporate from the soil, exposing farmworkers and drifting into neighborhoods. Methyl iodide ... will be allowed on fields growing strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, ornamentals, turf, trees and vines.
Probe Into Tainted Rice Ends
October 6, 2007, Washington Post
More than 14 months after the Agriculture Department began an investigation into how the U.S. supply of long-grain rice became tainted with an unapproved genetically engineered variety -- an event that continues to disrupt U.S. exports -- the government announced yesterday that it could not figure out how the contamination happened. Agency officials said documents from several years ago that might have helped them determine what went wrong had been lost or destroyed. Lacking clear evidence of who was responsible, they said, the government will not take enforcement action against any person or entity, including Bayer CropScience, the company whose gene-altered products slipped into the food supply. The widespread, low-level contamination with experimental genes that make the rice pesticide-tolerant, one of several such events in recent years, prompted countries around the world to cut off imports of U.S. long-grain rice. Rice prices plummeted, and many farmers, scientists and biotechnology activists called for an overhaul of the oversight system for gene-altered crops. While some countries have begun to accept U.S. rice with added testing, the European Union and Russia have not -- a trade loss valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Critics assailed the report as yet more evidence that the nation's regulatory system for gene-altered crops is broken. "This underlines the anxiety people have about more such incidents occurring," said Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science-based advocacy group that has called for a more rigorous approval process for biotech crops.
Note: For important reports from major media sources which reveal the dangers of genetically modified foods and other organisms, click here.
Save the Gnostics
October 6, 2007, New York Times
The [US] didn’t set out to eradicate the Mandeans, one of the oldest, smallest and least understood of the many minorities in Iraq. This extinction in the making has simply been another unfortunate ... consequence of our invasion of Iraq — though that will be of little comfort to the Mandeans, whose 2,000-year-old culture is in grave danger of disappearing from the face of the earth. The Mandeans are the only surviving Gnostics from antiquity, cousins of the people who produced the ... Gospel of Thomas, a work that sheds invaluable light on the many ways in which Jesus was perceived in the early Christian period. The Mandeans have their own language ... an impressive body of literature, and a treasury of cultural and religious traditions amassed over two millennia of living in the southern marshes of present-day Iraq and Iran. Practitioners of a religion at least as old as Christianity, the Mandeans have witnessed the rise of Islam; the Mongol invasion; the arrival of Europeans, who mistakenly identified them as “Christians of St. John,” because of their veneration of John the Baptist; and, most recently, the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein. They have withstood everything — until now. Like their ancestors, contemporary Mandeans were able to survive as a community because of the delicate balance achieved among Iraq’s many peoples over centuries of cohabitation. But our reckless prosecution of the war destroyed this balance, and the Mandeans, whose pacifist religion prohibits them from carrying weapons even for self-defense, found themselves victims of kidnappings, extortion, rapes, beatings, murders and forced conversions carried out by radical Islamic groups and common criminals. When American forces invaded in 2003, there were probably 60,000 Mandeans in Iraq; today, fewer than 5,000 remain.
Note: A fascinating introduction to the culture and history of this ancient people is Edmondo Lupieri's The Mandaeans: the Last Gnostics.
The Democrats Who Enable Bush
October 4, 2007, Salt Lake Tribune/Hearst Newspapers
President Bush has no better friends than the spineless Democratic congressional leadership and the party's leading presidential candidates when it comes to his failing Iraq policy. Those Democrats seem to have forgotten that the American people want U.S. troops out of Iraq, especially since Bush still cannot give a credible reason for attacking Iraq after nearly five years of war. Last week at a debate in Hanover, N.H., the leading Democratic presidential candidates sang from the same songbook: Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York, and Barack Obama of Illinois and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards refused to promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013, at the end of the first term of their hypothetical presidencies. Can you believe it? When the question was put to Clinton, she reverted to her usual cautious equivocation, saying: "It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting." Obama dodged, too: "I think it would be irresponsible" to say what he would do as president. Edwards, on whom hopes were riding to show some independence, replied to the question: "I cannot make that commitment." Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., ... wants to break up Iraq into three provinces along religious and ethnic lines. In other words, Balkanize Iraq. To have major Democratic backing to stay the course in Iraq added up to good news for Bush. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is another Democratic leader who has empowered Bush's war. Pelosi removed a provision from the most recent war-funding bill that would have required Bush to seek the permission of Congress before launching any attack on Iran. Is it any wonder the Democrats are faring lower than the president in a Washington Post ABC approval poll? Bush came in at 33 percent and Congress at 29 percent. So what are the leading Democratic White House hopefuls offering? It seems nothing but more war. So where do the voters go who are sick of the Iraqi debacle?
Note: This article by veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas shows the power of the war machine controlling Washington DC today. For a highly revealing historical context on the "War Racket", click here.
Theories abound on Israeli bombing of Syria
October 2, 2007, Miami Herald/McClatchy News
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