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RFK Jr.’s News of the Week

Here’s the latest “Unearthed” News from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle:

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

 

Government Report Links Extreme Weather In North America To Global Warming Pollution

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program released a 162-page report overwhelmingly confirming that manmade pollution is causing “changes in weather and climate change.” The report concludes that an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events “could seriously affect” human health, agricultural production, and the availability and quality of water in North America.

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/20080619_climatereport.html

Led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the report represents the most extensive assessment yet of how global warming will impact North Americans in the future, synthesizing the findings of more than 100 academic papers, including the latest scientific evidence which wasn’t considered in the most recent IPCC assessment. The report confirms that manmade global warming pollution has caused an increased frequency of heat waves, droughts, severe rainfall, and fierce hurricanes, and that there is a 90 percent likelihood that the frequency and intensity of such extreme weather events will continue to accelerate unless immediate action is taken to slow global warming pollution.


Exxon, Shell and BP Among Oil Giants Set to Receive No-Bid Contracts in Iraq

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company prior to nationalization of Iraq’s oil business 36 years ago — are “in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields.” The contracts are intended to jumpstart oil production by half a million barrels a day while Iraqi leaders debate legislation on how to divide the nation’s oil revenues.

Although worth only about $500 million to each company, the no-bid contracts are expected to give the companies a significant bidding advantage over competitors in future contracts on Iraqi oil development. The New York Times confirmed that the “unusual” no-bid contracts were awarded to the oil companies because they provided free advice over the past two years to the Iraq Oil Ministry. In all cases but one, the same company that provided free advice to the ministry on a specific oil field was awarded the contract for that field.

Leila Benali, an authority on Middle East oil at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, told the Times that “The bigger prize everybody is waiting for is development of the giant new fields,” and that these initial contracts give the winning companies a “foothold” to vie for longer-term deals in Iraq.

While State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters that the U.S. had “no involvement” in encouraging the no-bid deals with U.S. oil companies, the Times points out that “there are still American advisers to Iraq’s Oil Ministry.”

The Bush administration indicated that it sees no need to “get involved” with the negotiations, despite concerns that the presence of U.S. companies, particularly ExxonMobil, could escalate tensions in Iraq and lead to further violence against U.S. troops.
U.S. Government Testing Drugs with Severe Side Effects on War Veterans

The government is employing hundreds of military veterans as lab rats in drug tests, distributing medications known to have potentially severe side effects like psychosis and suicidal behavior. A media investigation uncovered how the Department of Veterans Affairs is paying cash to distressed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to take part in medical experiments. The practice raised serious ethical concerns in the wake of a near-lethal confrontation between police and an Iraq war veteran who suffered a psychotic episode while taking the controversial anti-smoking drug Chantix.

The VA knew for weeks that the drug had potentially severe mental side effects, yet failed to inform study participants of the dangers prior to the near-fatal incident involving James Elliott, a decorated Iraqi veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who was Tasered by police responding to a 911 call at his Maryland home. Elliot claims he was suffering from Chantix-induced psychotic hallucinations when he reached for a gun as officers approached him. Elliott was part of a Chantix trial targeted toward veterans with PTSD, and said the drug led him to suffer frequent hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.

The FDA alerted the VA weeks before Elliott’s incident that Chantix was responsible for a large number of reported hallucinations, suicide attempts and psychotic behavior, but the VA did not alert Elliott or his fellow study participants of the risks prior to his confrontation with police. “You’re a lab rat for $30 a month,” Elliott said, arguing that the VA treated him like a “disposable hero.”
New Research Links Traffic Pollution to Childhood Allergies

A study by German epidemiologists reveals the strongest evidence yet that the risk of developing a range of allergies and respiratory illnesses increases the closer children live to congested roads. The study suggests the risk of developing asthma, hay fever, eczema or other allergies is roughly 50 percent higher for children living 50 yards from a busy road than for those living 1,000 yards away.

“We consistently found strong associations between the distance to the nearest main road and the allergic disease outcomes,” the study’s lead author, Joachim Heinrich, wrote in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.


Oil Tycoon Pickens Tells Congress World Oil Production Has Peaked

Billionaire oil investor T. Boone Pickens told Congress he believes that oil production has peaked at 85 million barrels per day. Pickens said during testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the United States’ continued heavy reliance on foreign oil could drain the U.S. economy unless lawmakers act quickly to jumpstart a clean technology revolution. “The price of oil will go up further,” Pickens predicts. “In 10 years, we will have exported close to $10 trillion out of the country if we continue on the same basis we’re going now. It is the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind,” he said. Pickens, who made his fortune investing in oil, announced plans for a $2 billion wind energy project earlier this year.
Blackwater Asks Judge to Apply Afghan Islamic Law Instead of U.S. Law In U.S. Soldier Fatalities Lawsuit

Private military contractor Blackwater is asking a federal court to rely on Sharia, the Islamic law of Afghanistan, rather than U.S. law, in an effort to avoid potentially stiff penalties in a lawsuit brought by the widows of three American soldiers who died when the Blackwater-run plane they were on crashed in the Afghan mountains.

Blackwater founder and owner Erik Prince told editors and reporters at North Carolina’s News & Observer newspaper that, because the crash occurred in Afghanistan, the company believes the case should be decided by Afghan law. Sharia does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees during the course of their work.
The lawsuit would be dismissed if the judge agrees that Sharia law applies in Blackwater’s case.
Denver Police Stockpiling Pepper Weapons Ahead of Democratic Convention

Denver police are buying dozens of guns that fire a pepper spray-like substance instead of bullets, designed to aid police efforts to disperse crowds. The guns fire plastic balls filled with a powder that’s “like a combination of cayenne pepper and baby powder,” according to the manufacturer, which confirmed to reporters that the police requested the order be delivered in time for the Democratic National Convention in late August.

Denver received a $50 million federal grant for security during the convention, but refuses to disclose exactly how it is spending that money, prompting a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union last month.


Cheney Wins Battle, Records Will Remain Hidden From the Public

Vice President Dick Cheney won the battle to withhold his office’s records from the public, leaving members of Congress frustrated and convinced that there may not be any further avenues to gain access to the secretive Vice President’s records before he leaves office. “I’m not sure there’s anything we can do,” said Representative Henry Waxman, the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “He has managed to stonewall everyone.”

Cheney argues that he doesn’t belong to either the executive or the legislative branch of government exclusively, and therefore isn’t subject to public information laws, even though previous administrations complied with information requests. Government personnel officials also confirmed that they have no information on Cheney’s staff available for public review either.

The Justice Department rebuffed repeated requests by members of Congress to investigate Cheney’s claims to secrecy, agreeing with the Bush administration’s assertion that Cheney and his staff are not part of the executive branch.
Rumsfeld Solicited Torture Advice From Army Psychologists, Ignored Lawyers’ Objections

A Senate Armed Services Committee investigation revealed that former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and senior aides in the Pentagon asked military psychologists as early as July 2002 to provide a list of harsh methods interrogators might employ against detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. The psychologists, who train Army troops how to survive enemy interrogations, responded with a list of techniques including sensory deprivation, sleep disruption, stress positions, waterboarding and slapping. Despite immediate objections from military lawyers who questioned the legality of using the proposed techniques without further review, Rumsfeld ordered interrogators to use the methods on detainees at Gauntanamo anyway.

The Committee’s investigation also revealed that the Defense Department strategically hid prisoners who were subjected to the harsher techniques from Red Cross personnel monitoring detention centers to ensure compliance with the Geneva Convention rules for treatment of prisoners of war. According to secret memos from 2002 when the harsh methods were first employed at Guantanamo, Pentagon attorney Lt. Col. Diane Beaver advised interrogators to “curb the harsher operations” while the Red Cross monitors were around, and said in a private meeting that interrogators’ use of the techniques “is not being reported officially. The [Red Cross] is a serious concern. They will be in and out, scrutinizing our operations, unless they are displeased and decide to protest and leave. This would draw a lot of negative attention.”

Beaver’s comments were recorded in the minutes of an October 2002 meeting between CIA and military lawyers and intelligence officials who discussed how to hide “ghost detainees” from the Red Cross at military detention centers.

Another attendee at the meeting, senior CIA lawyer John Fredman, explained that whether harsh interrogation amount to torture “is a matter of perception.” Fredman said, “If the detainees dies you’re doing it wrong.”

Armed Services Committee chair Sen. Carl Levin commented, “Were these actions the result of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own? It would be a lot easier to accept if it were. But that’s not the case. The truth is that senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.”

 

This column originally appeared in Huffington Post.

Send tips about other stories the mainstream media forgot to report: unearthednews@gmail.com

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More Bush Administration Arrogance

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S UNFIT TO PRINT, EPISODE 3

Hot off the presses…the latest edition of RFK Jr’s “Unearthed” column, for the week ending May 9, 2008.

Here Kennedy covers a vast array of subjects – everything from the Siegleman case to Cheney and Ashcroft’s refusal to testify about U.S. torture tactics; from the head of the EPA being fired for political purposes to depleted uranium being dumped in Idaho; from hundreds of dead ducks turning up in Canada to right-wing talk radio’s domination of the U.S. airwaves; from the oil crisis to American contractors quite literally making out like bandits in Iraq — all with one common thread, the central underlying theme which ties these stories together:

More unprecedented ARROGANCE from the Bush Administration!

In a mad dash to cover their tracks while scooping up all the spoils they can possibly grab before we kick them out of the White House next January, the Bushies seem to be wholly unconcerned with how things look or smell at this point. (A new poll shows that Bush is now the most unpopular president in history, but ask him if he cares.) Yes, they’re openly farting in our faces, and we’re supposed to love it.

Laughing all the way to the bank, these criminals now feel certain that they will never face prosecution or impeachment, so hey – why not take all they can get? After all, we’ve given them a pass, carte blanche’ and a blank check for the past seven years, turning a blind eye to their crimes against humanity. (And that’s not to mention those High Crimes and Misdemeanors.)

So put on your seat belts and gas masks, America. The ride is only going to get rougher and smellier as Bush’s clock runs out.

Did you ever feel like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water as the heat is slowly being turned up hotter and hotter? Well, you know what happens then, don’t you?

We must take a stand. We must stop them before they kill again (looks like you’re next, Iran). We must fight back. We must prosecute. We must stop taking “I don’t recall” for an answer. Because if we don’t, we could all wind up as dead as those Canadian ducks RFK Jr. writes about.

It may be too late to impeach (as our Democratic brethren continue to insist) now, but it’s never too late to try them for war crimes at the Hague.

Oh…and there’s no statute of limitations on murder, either.

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan De Melle

The Huffington Post

EPA Official Ousted For Offending Dow Chemical

At the request of Dow Chemical, the Bush administration forced out one of its own hand-picked EPA regulators on May 1st because she naively attempted to do her job by enforcing the law against Dow. EPA officials told Mary Gade, the federal agency’s top Midwest regulator to step down from her post or be fired by June 1. Bush appointed Gade in 2006, but Gade ran afoul of the White House when she pressured Dow Chemical to clean up dioxin pollution extending 50 miles downstream from the company’s Michigan headquarters. Dow asked EPA headquarters to intervene. In response EPA chief Stephen Johnson’s top deputies repeatedly grilled Gade about the case. When she refused to lay off Dow, they stripped her of her authority and told her to quit or be fired. “There is no question this is about Dow,” Gade said. “I stand behind what I did and what my staff did. I’m proud of what we did.”

Gade was formerly a loyal George W. Bush supporter and adviser. In 2000, she praised then-governor and candidate Bush for his “fresh approach” and “strong leadership.” But her loyalty couldn’t shield her from an administration bent on insulating its chemical industry cronies from public health laws.
Bush’s Misleading Claims About the Arctic Refuge Denied by Federal Officials

President Bush last week repeated his claim that if only Congress had approved his 2002 plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge it “would likely mean lower gas prices” today. However, oil industry experts and Bush’s own Energy Department officials say that Bush is greatly exaggerating the theoretical impact that opening the refuge would’ve had on current gas prices. They explained that it takes over a decade to find and develop a new oil field. Furthermore, the oil available in ANWR — even under the most optimistic projections — could supply less than 2% of U.S. demand, an amount that would have a negligible impact on prices at the pump.
Green Construction Could Drastically Slash North American Energy Dependence

Employing existing and emerging green construction practices could cut North America’s deadly fossil fuel dependence faster and more cost-effectively than any other measure, according to a new study by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a panel erected by the United States, Canada and Mexico. Green construction has immediate paybacks, including “reduced energy costs and water costs as well the indoor health environment and increased productivity of the inhabitants of those buildings,” according to John Westeinde, an advisor on the report. The report found that North America’s buildings release more than 2,200 megatons of CO2, or about 35 percent of the continent’s total. If the construction industry rapidly adopted current and emerging green technologies, that number could be cut by 1,700 megatons by 2030, the report found.
Hundreds of Ducks Die at Canadian Oil Sands Mine

Hundreds of ducks made a fatal landing recently in a tailings pond filled with a witch’s brew of oil and toxic sludge at a northern Alberta tar sands mine. Regulators are investigating why Syncrude Canada — the country’s largest tar sands producer — failed to deploy a system designed to scare off waterfowl. Alberta’s tar sands development has been heavily criticized for huge carbon dioxide emissions, destruction of the boreal forest, and the potential for tailing ponds to contaminate local rivers and waterways.

 
Feds Acknowledge Error On Attempts to Muzzle Siegelman

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegleman, who was falsely imprisoned by Alabama cronies of Karl Rove, and is now released on appeal, was recently placed on a “special offender” list to restrict his right to travel. Siegelman was notified by federal probation officers of the new restriction shortly after he traveled to Washington to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, and appeared on 60 Minutes, the Tavis Smiley Show, and Dan Abrams’ Verdict.

The federal “special offender” designation applies to “Individuals identified or associated with traditional or non-traditional organized crime such as the Mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian gangs, prison gangs, etc., persons identified as potential terrorists, kidnappers, members of a supremacy group, major bookmakers, major drug or weapon traffickers, pornographers, sex offenders, armed bank robbers, offenders of high notoriety, or cases similar nature.”

“This basically means I can’t travel out of Birmingham or Montgomery without a lot of red tape, and long delays. For example to travel in some places requires at least 30 days advance approval,” Siegelman said.

But on May 2, federal court officials acknowledged that they erred in classifying Siegelman as a special offender.

“They made an honest mistake,” Redmond said, acknowledging that the restrictions were illegal. “They were giving him conditions for a special offender under probation. He’s not. He’s pretrial.”
Cheney refuses to cooperate with Congressional Torture Investigation, claiming Congress has no authority over vice-president

The lawyer for U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney said Cheney would refuse to allow David Addington, the vice president’s chief of staff, to testify about his involvement in the approval of interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo Bay. The privilege asserted by Cheney’s office recalls his attempt last year to evade rules for disclosing classified documents by claiming that the vice president’s office is a hybrid branch of government that is neither executive nor legislative.
Ashcroft and Yoo Refuse to Testify About Torture

In another imaginative legal claim with dubious constitutionality, two other witnesses sought by Congressman John Conyers, former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft and former U.S. justice department lawyer John Yoo, claim that their involvement in civil lawsuits related to harsh torture allows them to avoid appearing before Congress. “I am aware of no basis for the remarkable claim that pending civil litigation somehow immunizes an individual from testifying before Congress,” Conyers wrote.
Karl Rove Resists Congressional Request to Testify on His Siegelman Mischief

“The House Judiciary Committee threatened last Thursday to subpoena former White House adviser Karl Rove if he does not agree by May 12 to testify about former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s corruption case.

“In a letter to Rove’s attorney, committee Democrats called it ‘completely unacceptable’ that the Republican political strategist has rejected the panel’s request for sworn testimony even as he discusses the matter publicly through the media and op-eds and magazine interviews with tame reporters at GQ, and appearances with the administration’s media poodles on Fox News.

On April 7, MSNBC anchor Dan Abrams reported that Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, said Rove would agree to testify if Congress issues a subpoena to him as part of an investigation into the Siegelman case.

Ten days later, committee members invited Rove to appear, citing among other things Rove’s interview with GQ magazine. In that interview, Rove hurled insults at CBS News for airing a 60 Minutes segment on the Siegelman case, called his chief accuser a “lunatic” — but didn’t specifically deny any of the accusations.

In an April 29 letter back to the committee, Luskin changed his position[PDF], arguing that Rove would only appear under the following conditions: “Mr. Rove is prepared to make himself available for an interview on this specific issue with Committee staff. Mr. Rove would speak candidly and truthfully about this matter, but the interview would not be transcribed nor would Mr. Rove be under oath.”

 
Hate-filled Right Wing Radio

Racial slurs abound these days on right wing radio, particularly among the right’s leading shock jocks Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Neal Boortz, Michael Savage and Lou Dobbs. During his May 5 appearance on FOX News, Rush Limbaugh referred to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), who is Hispanic, as a “shoe shine guy.

A 2007 study of talk radio conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the second quarter of 2007, when right wing radio resorted to spreading fear and hatred in order to defeat immigration reform. Immigration was the #1 topic – representing 16% of all airtime on right wing radio – led by Limbaugh, Hannity, and Savage. Neal Boortz chipped in too, urging listeners to help defeat “this illegal alien amnesty bill” and “yank out the welcome mat.” Speaking of undocumented immigrants he said, “Give ‘em all a little nuclear waste and let ‘em take it on down there to Mexico. Tell ‘em…it’ll heat tortillas.” Michael Savage encouraged his listeners to “burn a Mexican flag” and to “tell them to go back to where they came from.”

Bigotry and Hatred is Good Business

Propped up by the conservative bias among corporate media barons who control the airwaves, right-wing radio now claims 91 percent of U.S. radio airspace. Salon.com reported that “Talk like Savage’s, or Limbaugh’s or O’Reilly’s, has become routine, even systematic, and certainly a big business. According to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, the top five radio station owners that control the 45 most powerful, 50,000-watt or more radio stations broadcast 310 hours of nationally syndicated right-wing talk. But they broadcast only a total of five hours of countervailing talk.” Meanwhile the public popularity of progressive talk is growing.
Thanks to Right-Wing Corporate Owners Right-Wing Hate Talk Dominates Airwaves

While progressive talk is making inroads on commercial stations, right-wing talk reigns supreme on America’s airwaves. Some key findings:

– In the spring of 2007, of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming was conservative, and only 9 percent was progressive.

– Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk–10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

– 76 percent of the news/talk programming in the top 10 radio markets is conservative, while 24 percent is progressive.
Bush Is the Least Popular President in History

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of President Bush’s job performance, making him the most unpopular president in modern American history, even less popular than Richard Nixon just prior to his resignation.

“Bush’s approval rating, which stands at 28 percent in our new poll, remains better than the all-time lows set by Harry Truman and Richard Nixon [22 percent and 24 percent, respectively], but even those two presidents never got a disapproval rating in the 70s,” Keating Holland, CNN’s polling director said. “The previous all-time record in CNN or Gallup polling was set by Truman, 67 percent disapproval in January 1952.”

A January poll – conducted on the five-year anniversary of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment on board the USS Abraham Lincoln – found the percentage of Americans who think the U.S. is making progress in Iraq stood at 50 percent. That number has since dropped to 39 percent.

 
Radioactive waste being shipped from Kuwait for Disposal in Idaho

6,700 tons of sand contaminated with depleted uranium and lead is currently being shipped by rail from Longview, Washington to a hazardous waste disposal site in Idaho. The radioactive sand – which was shipped from Camp Doha, a U.S. Army Base in Kuwait – was contaminated with uranium after military vehicles and munitions caught fire during the first Persian Gulf War in 1991. The contaminated sand is destined for burial at American Ecology’s dumping grounds in the Owyhee Desert 70 miles southeast of Boise. The Kuwaiti government wanted no part of the waste which it considered a danger to the Kuwaiti people. Kuwait’s Ministry of Defense contracted Texas-based MKM Engineers Inc. to package and transport the waste back to the United States. MKM then subcontracted with American Ecology to dispose the military waste at its Idaho facility.
Whistleblowers Say Private U.S. Contractors Looted, Stole and Ran a Prostitution Ring

In an investigative report largely ignored by the mainstream media, Mother Jones reports the shocking testimony of three whistleblowers who recently appeared before the Senate’s Democratic Policy Committee (DPC). The whistleblowers told the committee that U.S. private contractors routinely looted Iraqi palaces and ministries, stole military equipment, fenced supplies destined for U.S. troops, and even operated a prostitution ring that may have contributed to the death of fellow contractor.

Barry Halley, a former project manager for Worldwide Network Services, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that was working on subcontract for DynCorp, testified that his site manager in Iraq, who he said was employed by a “major defense contractor,” moonlighted as the leader of a prostitution ring serving American contractors in Iraq. The sex business sideline indirectly caused the death of a colleague. “A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was traveling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission,” he told the committee. “I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by a manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad.”

Frank Cassaday, a former contract employee of disgraced Cheney-connected firm KBR told the committee about an ice-stealing operation the company ran “cheating the troops out of ice at the same time that [the foreman in charge was] trading the ice for DVDs, CDs, food, and other items at the Iraqi shops across the street.”

Cassaday also detailed how he was jailed in his tent for two days by KBR security and later transferred to a laundry job because he had reported to KBR superiors that his colleagues were stealing equipment from the U.S. military, including refrigerators, artillery round detonators, two rocket launchers, and about 800 rounds of small arms ammunition.

Another KBR whistleblower, Linda Warren, testifying about her time in Baghdad in 2004, said she was shocked by the number of contractors involved in criminal activity. “KBR employees who were contracted to perform construction duties inside palaces and municipal buildings were looting,” she said. “Not only were they looting, but they had a system in place to get contraband out of the country so it could be sold on eBay. They stole artwork, rugs, crystal, and even melted down gold to make spurs for cowboy boots.” Like Cassaday, KBR superiors punished Warren for speaking up, taking her vehicle away, monitoring her movements, cutting off her access to phones and the Internet, and ultimately transferring her out of Baghdad.
Iraqi Interpreters Who Helped U.S. Are Being Tossed Under the Bus By Bush Administration

The Bush administration is ignoring the plight of Iraqi interpreters who have risked their lives to provide essential help to U.S. soldiers. Interpreters have been kidnapped, tortured and assassinated by insurgents punishing them for working with the U.S. The Bush administration promised them refugee status to bring them here to safety, but has not delivered, leaving them at lethal risk.
Rockefellers Call on Exxon Mobil to Spend More on Oil Alternatives

Descendants of company founder John D. Rockefeller want Exxon Mobil to spend more money on alternative fuels and bar the CEO from also serving as chairman. Sixteen Rockefeller family members are urging fellow shareholders to support four resolutions on the environment and corporate governance at the company’s May 28 annual meeting.
More Record Profits for Oil Barons

Astounding profits in the oil industry are becoming as routine as the anguished looks of motorists filling up their gas tanks, the AP reports.

ExxonMobil, Shell and BP netted almost $13 million an hour combined in the first quarter amid the steepest increase in oil prices since 2000.

Exxon’s revenue climbed 34 percent to $116.9 billion, but Exxon’s 17 percent profit increase lagged behind the gains of 25 percent and 63 percent by Shell and BP. Chevron put yet another exclamation point on the oil patch’s long run of prosperity Friday with a first-quarter profit of $5.17 billion. That was up 10 percent from net income of $4.72 billion last year.

It was the second-highest quarterly profit in the company’s 129-year history and marked the most money that it has ever made during the January-March period. That puts the No. 2 U.S. oil company on track for its fifth straight year of record earnings.

BP posted a 63 percent surge in first-quarter net profit to $7.6 billion, while Shell reported a 25 percent rise, to a record $9.08 billion. ConocoPhillips reported a 16 percent rise in net income to $4.14 billion. Like BP and Shell, the third biggest U.S. producer far outpaced industry expectations.

Republicans Block Federal Aid to Wind and Solar

Tom Friedman of the New York Times reports:

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

These credits are critical because they ensure that if oil prices slip back down again — which often happens — investments in wind and solar would still be profitable. That’s how you launch a new energy technology and help it achieve scale, so it can compete without subsidies.

The Democrats wanted the wind and solar credits to be paid for by taking away tax credits from the oil industry. President Bush said he would veto that. Neither side would back down, and Mr. Bush — showing not one iota of leadership — refused to get all the adults together in a room and work out a compromise. Stalemate. Meanwhile, Germany has a 20-year solar incentive program; Japan 12 years. Ours, at best, run two years.

“It’s a disaster,” says Michael Polsky, founder of Invenergy, one of the biggest wind-power developers in America. “Wind is a very capital-intensive industry, and financial institutions are not ready to take ‘Congressional risk.’ They say if you don’t get the [production tax credit] we will not lend you the money to buy more turbines and build projects.”

If the wind and solar credits expire, said Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the impact in just 2009 would be more than 100,000 jobs either lost or not created in these industries, and $20 billion worth of investments that won’t be made.

While all the presidential candidates were railing about lost manufacturing jobs in Ohio, no one noticed that America’s premier solar company, First Solar, from Toledo, Ohio, was opening its newest factory in the former East Germany — 540 high-paying engineering jobs — because Germany has created a booming solar market and America has not.

 

Send tips about other stories the mainstream media forgot to report: unearthednews@gmail.com

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The News According to RFK Jr.

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S UNFIT TO PRINT, PT. II

Bobby’s back with another installment of “Unearthed: News the Mainstream Media Forgot to Report” on the Huffington Post this week.

Kennedy and co-blogger Brendan De Melle covered a mind-boggling array of news you won’t hear anywhere else in the latest column. So much news, in fact, it’s all rather difficult to digest in just one sitting…so we’ve decided to break it up into separate shorter stories which will run over the next few days here on this blog.

Here’s the first installment of this week’s “Unearthed” report:

UNEARTHED: NEWS THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

The Huffington Post

Crimes Against Nature
Junk Science/Wolf Slaughter

At least 37 wolves have been killed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming since the Bush Administration illegally delisted gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act, on March 28. The death toll could be even higher since kills are not required to be reported immediately. With the abolition of federal protection, the wolves are now being targeted under state laws that still classify wolves as “vermin” and allow unregulated wolf killing anywhere, anytime, for any reason. A dozen conservation groups have asked a federal court to immediately reinstate Endangered Species Act protections and to declare illegal the federal government’s wolf delisting decision which was based on manipulated, outdated and fraudulent science and which threatens the long-term survival of the species.

“Until now the reintroduction of gray wolves to the Northern Rockies was one of our greatest endangered species success stories,” said Louisa Willcox, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) office in Livingston, MT. “Today it’s a national disgrace. The region has become a killing field for wolves, just as we predicted.”

The first casualty in the orgy of lupicide was “Hoppy” the eight-year-old celebrity wolf nicknamed for a limp (caused by an injury from a fight with another wolf pack). A rare black wolf Hoppy was one of the most recognizable members of Yellowstone’s famous Druid Peak pack. People snapped his photograph and shot video as he and his pack mates played, hunted and snoozed. Later, he became the first wolf to step foot into Utah in over 75 years and established his own pack in Grand Teton National Park. He was shot the day after delisting on an elk feeding ground in Wyoming.

“In delisting the wolves, the Bush Administration simply ignored the country’s leading wildlife biologists and two decades of scientific evidence showing that wolf populations are still too fragmented to survive. According to NRDC scientist, Dr. Sylvia Fallon, a minimum population of 2,000 to 5,000 animals is needed to ensure the genetic diversity necessary for the grey wolf’s long-term survival. At the time of delisting there were about 1,500 wolves in the region. All but 300 can be killed under President Bush’s current minimum recovery standard virtually assuring the gray wolf’s ultimate extinction.

The reintroduction of wolves by the federal government 12 years ago has been widely hailed as a major success story. It has measurably improved the natural balance in the Northern Rockies and benefited bird, antelope and elk populations. Many thousands of visitors flock to Yellowstone National Park each year to see and hear wolves in the wild, contributing at least $35 million to the local economy each year.

Thousands of gray wolves roamed the Rocky Mountains before being slaughtered and eliminated from 95 percent of the lower 48 states by the 1930s. The gray wolf was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Reintroduction efforts placed 66 wolves in Yellowstone National Park and part of Idaho in 1995-96.

Hundreds of Federal Scientists Ordered to Lie by Bush Administration

Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists say they have been pressured by superiors to skew their findings, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Survey Statistics & Methodology at Iowa State University, commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

One half of the nearly 1,600 EPA staff scientists who responded online to a detailed questionnaire reported they had experienced incidents of political interference in their work.

The report said 60 percent of those responding, or 889 scientists, reported personally experiencing political interference in their work over the last five years. Nearly 400 scientists said they had witnessed EPA officials misrepresenting scientific findings, 284 said they had seen the “selective or incomplete use of data to justify a specific regulatory outcome” and 224 scientists said they had been directed to “inappropriately exclude or alter technical information” in an EPA document. Nearly 200 of the respondents said they had been in situations where they or their colleagues actively objected to or resigned from projects “because of pressure to change scientific findings.” The University sent an online questionnaire to 5,500 EPA scientists and received 1,586 responses, a majority of them senior scientists who have worked for the agency for 10 years or more. The survey included chemists, toxicologists, engineers, geologists and experts in the life and environmental sciences.

The highest number of complaints about political interference came from scientists who are directly involved in writing regulations and those who conduct risk assessments such as determining a chemicals cancer risk for humans.

“The investigation shows researchers are generally continuing to do their work, but their scientific findings are tossed aside when it comes time to write regulations,” UCS said.

In the survey, the EPA scientists described an agency suffering from low morale as the agency’s political appointees and the White House Office of Management and Budget frequently second-guess scientific findings and change work conducted by EPA’s scientists.

EPA managers initially instructed employees not to participate in the survey, but the EPA’s general counsel’s office later sent an e-mail to employees saying they could participate in their private time.

White House Gives Industry More Influence over Science Process

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) chastised the Environmental Protection Agency for giving industry the ability to directly input information into the EPA’s influential database that catalogues chemical risk information, known as the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). The new process lets “the White House and federal polluters derail EPA’s scientific assessment of toxic chemicals,” she charged. The new policy, announced April 10 on the agency’s website, will allow industry to contribute its own biased information to the IRIS database, which was previously compiled solely by agency scientists. The new policy also allows for earlier and more extensive involvement by the White House and federal agencies that pollute the environment, such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.

According to the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the changes mean that:
• Affected corporations will be intimately involved in each step of EPA’s risk assessment and will be able to know what staff are assigned to which work, making the agency “research plan” vulnerable to political manipulation through the appropriations process;
• The Defense and Energy Departments, two of the world’s largest polluters, will have a formal role on how pollutants, such as the chemical perchlorate, are evaluated. In addition, these agencies could declare a particular chemical to be “mission critical” that would allow them to control how “data gaps” are to be filled. All their alterations will be made in secret. All intra-and inter-agency communications on risk assessments are deemed “deliberative” and thus confidential.

The new policy gives polluters power to determine which chemicals get assessed and how those assessments are conducted. It also formalizes a new process to be run by the White House and polluters behind closed doors and exclude the public.

Federal, state and international agencies use these assessments to create public health protections, including drinking water standards, toxic waste cleanup levels, air pollution limits, controls on dangerous chemicals in food and consumer products, worker protections and other safeguards.

Green Building: Applause for Seattle’s Mayor

Seattle is now the nation’s leader in green building with 41 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings. LEED buildings, which are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, are designed to use less water, energy and building resources, and often incorporate recycled materials. Besides Seattle, the top five cities with the most LEED certified projects include Portland, Oregon, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Grand Rapids, MI. Ten of Seattle’s LEED certified buildings are owned by the City of Seattle, demonstrating the city’s commitment to lead in this area. In February, Mayor Greg Nickels announced an effort to make Seattle America’s Green Building Capital by improving energy efficiency in all commercial and residential buildings by 20 percent.
RIGHT WING NEWS

Flat Earth Family

Demonstrating that deliberate ignorance may be genetic, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told a group of several hundred business people in Texas that he is skeptical that humans are causing global warming. Bush accused those who advocate action to fight climate disruption of acting like religious zealots. “I don’t think our policies should be based on emotion; they should be based on sound science.” Bush’s two terms as governor ended in 2007. His successor, Republican governor Charlie Crist has said Florida should become a leader on this issue because its low elevation makes it vulnerable to sea level rise.

Stay tuned for more of “The news according to RFK Jr.” – and don’t forget to catch his weekly report on Air America radio and GoLeft.tv.

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All The News That’s Unfit To Print

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S UNFIT TO PRINT

If you’ve been listening to Bobby’s Air America radio show “Ring of Fire” lately, you probably noticed a new segment each week where Bobby and Pap (Mike Papantonio) run through the gamut of important news stories the mainstream media failed to report.

What started out as a 15-minute segment at the top of the show seemed to catch on, expanding to nearly all of the first hour last week.

Now, Kennedy is now adding the week’s “lost” news stories to his blog at Huffington Post, which we hope will become a regular weekly feature.

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

War Profiteering/War Propaganda
In a superb example of print journalism, the New York Times reported last Sunday the sordid story of how television network military analysts with undisclosed financial ties to Pentagon contractors had been used by the White House and Pentagon to sell the Iraq War to the American people. In a sophisticated propaganda effort that would make Joseph Goebbels and Edward Bernays green with envy, the Pentagon had turned some fifty former officers, posing as independent experts, into hand puppets mouthing pro-war talking points on Fox News, ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC. “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,'” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst described the process.

The officers, most of whom were connected to military contractors with a direct financial interest in the war, were granted favorable treatment including special access to the Pentagon brass, valuable business and military information and paid junkets to Guantanamo and Iraq. Those who veered from Pentagon talking points were swiftly blackballed or fired.

Corporate Spies
A private security firm employed former Secret Service and CIA agents to spy on Greenpeace, U.S. PIRG, Environmental Media Services and other environmental organizations on behalf of corporate clients including Monsanto, Halliburton, Wal-Mart and Allied Waste. Documents obtained by Mother Jones, which broke this explosive story, reveal the spying lasted from the late 1990s at least through 2000. The company paid private spies to collect phone records and other private information on prominent activists, to root through dumpsters and infiltrate the staffs of environmental organizations.

Dead Fish
In an unprecedented move, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council voted recently to cancel the salmon fishing season off the coast of California and much of Oregon because of shockingly low chinook salmon populations in the Sacramento River. Don McIssac, a council member, stated that, “Collectively, from Canada to Mexico, this will be the worst ever season off the West Coast.” California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency and requested federal funding to rescue the state’s fishing industry.

Captured Media
Predictably, none of the Sunday morning talk shows mentioned this critical story. They instead focused on important national issues like Obama’s refusal to wear a flag lapel pin (Face The Nation) (Tim Russert, Meet The Press, Fox News Sunday with Fox News Analyst Karl Rove) and his bowling scores (Meet The Press with Tim Russert), and his patriotism (McLaughlin Report).

Voter Fraud, Right Wing Justice
Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, fresh out of jail, talked to us about his Karl Rove-induced prosecution. Siegelman now has clear proof that his 2002 gubernatorial election was stolen by the GOP. After Alabama’s votes were counted and Siegelman had won, Republican thugs sent home poll workers and “recounted” the Baldwin County election results and then declared the Republican challenger Bob Riley the new winner. State and county Democrats quickly requested another recount but Alabama’s notorious Republican Attorney General William Pryor had the ballots sealed and illegally certified. With Pryor’s help, Siegelman was then jailed for nine months on trumped up charges manufactured by two Bush-appointed U.S. Attorneys under the direction of Karl Rove. On March 28th, an Appeals Court ordered his release pending appeal of his conviction. Watch the interview with Don Siegelman on GoLeft.tv.

Killing Buffalo
The federal government and Montana state officials have slaughtered nearly one third of Yellowstone’s buffalo herd so far this year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC has called for a moratorium on the unnecessary killing and hazing of buffalo that venture out of the western boundary of the park during the annual migration into the herd’s traditional calving grounds on the Horse Butte peninsula. The purported aim of the slaughter is to keep Horse Butte’s private cattle herds safe from potential disease transmission. The problem with this explanation is that there are no cattle in the Horse Butte area and local residents support the wild migration. Furthermore, NRDC reveals that “there are no documented cases of cattle contracting brucellosis from Yellowstone buffalo, and cattle in the vicinity have been vaccinated against the disease.”

Record Oil Profits
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that Saudi Arabia and other OPEC member nations are poised to collect $1 trillion from oil exports this year, with the largest chunk of the cash flowing from the world’s biggest oil consumer, the United States. The U.S. imported 5.8 million barrels per day of OPEC oil in January, the highest level for any month since July 1977. U.S. oil demand is expected to average 20.6 million barrels a day this year.

Screwed Again by the Saudis
Meanwhile, despite Bush’s years of pandering and handholding with Saudi’s Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah, the Saudis have refused Bush administration requests that they increase oil production to ease America’s fuel crisis. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has ordered that newly discovered oil deposits be left in the ground to preserve oil wealth for future Saudi generations. “Our children need it,” the King explained. The Kingdom stated in the late 1990s that fossil fuels would meet energy demands “for only about another 200 years. “

Corporate Welfare
Meanwhile, riding the gravy train of OPEC’s artificially manufactured shortages, ExxonMobil announced the largest profits in the history of the world in February, causing some in Congress to question whether the oil industry should continue to be lavished with billions in subsidies. Oil industry toadie Glenn Beck responded to Congressional criticism of the oil industry’s record profits, saying we should “be thankful for Big Oil.”

Poisoning Our Water
PA Administrator Stephen Johnson has proposed further weakening America’s drinking water protections, in ways that would most severely impact the country’s poorest communities. Under direct pressure from the White House and acting against the advice of EPA’s own scientific advisers, the EPA has cut funding for water infrastructure, opposed strong health standards for rocket fuel and other chemicals in our water supply, and decided to derail regulation of the growing levels of pharmaceuticals and chemicals from personal care products in America’s drinking water.

Katrina Refugees
Nearly three years after Hurricane Katrina, roughly 40,000 families are still living in mobile homes and trailers throughout the Gulf Coast, many erected in their driveways next to destroyed homes. The government issue “temporary” shelters are known to be contaminated with toxic formaldehyde fumes. The urgency for action is escalating with hurricane season less than 2 months away.

Corporate Welfare
The biggest U.S. companies are largely safe from IRS audits, according to a study by TRAC, a research group affiliated with Syracuse University. TRAC points to “a historic collapse in audits” of major corporations, which are at a 20-year low. Only one in four large corporations (those over $250 million) are now being audited compared to three out of four in 1999. Meanwhile, audits of middle class and working families have increased dramatically with 10% now enduring IRS audits, more than double the odds in 2000.

Miserable Media
One of the reasons you many not have heard these news items in the mainstream media — after years of dramatic cuts that have eliminated all investigative reporters and foreign news bureaus at the major networks — CBS has now announced additional deep cuts across its editorial, technical operations and news bureau desks. The total cuts amount to 1 percent of the meager remaining network’s news staff.

Global Warming Lawsuit
Eighteen states, three cities and 11 environmental groups recently sued to force EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, accusing Administrator Johnson of failing to live up to his promise that EPA would respond to the April 2007 Supreme Court decision requiring EPA to limit global warming pollution from new cars and trucks.

Protesting Coal Plants
Eight people were arrested on April 1st while protesting the expansion of Duke Energy’s Cliffside coal-fired plant. Two of the protesters were shocked with Taser guns after chaining themselves to bulldozers during the peaceful protest, which was part of an international series of actions called Fossil Fools Day designed to call attention to the urgent threat of catastrophic global warming.

Send tips about other stories the mainstream media forgot to report: unearthednews@gmail.com

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The “Fearless” Kennedy

(No caption necessary. This photo speaks for itself.)

THE “FEARLESS” KENNEDY

If RFK was the so-called “ruthless” Kennedy, you could call his second son the “fearless” Kennedy.

Considering what the conversation on this blog has been centered on for the past couple of weeks (freedom from fear), our readers may find this week’s Huffington Post article about RFK Jr. particularly interesting.

Reading over this and other coverage around the blogosphere lately, it seems like we’re all basically wrestling with the same questions and thinking the same thoughts that people in 1968 did. There’s plenty of frustration, anger and bitterness to go around this election year, too. Demands for dramatic, sweeping change. Talk of revolution in the air.

Perhaps we experienced some kind of collective “A-ha!” moment when the 40th anniversary of MLK’s murder came around recently (did we suddenly remember what a real hero was?). 

Could it be that Americans are finally starting to realize that we must make a choice — to fear or to fight — and that we can’t have it both ways?

Like any good soldier will tell you, nobody can fight worth a damn if they are consumed by fear. Nor can one feel afraid when they have the courage of their convictions. 

When you’ve been to the mountaintop, you’re not fearing any man. You know the difference between fighting and violence, and that “peaceful revolution” is not an oxymoron.

It’s time for us to lose the fear which has held us back for far too long and to get mentally, physically and spiritually prepared for the fight of our lives. Because we’re in it now, and there’s no turning the other cheek this time. We must understand that We, the American People, are in a defensive (NOT offensive) position – we’ve been pushed to the wall and have no choice but to fight our way out of this.

If we don’t fight now, it simply means we have decided that America is no longer worth fighting for.

I refuse to accept that. And I doubt that Mr. Kennedy would ever choose defeat by default, either.

It’s time for all of us to make that critical choice — and soon! — to choose courage over cowardice; patriotism over partisanship; duty over dissuasion; information over infotainment. It’s time to choose bravery over Britney, and America over apathy.

– Ed.

AMERICA THE ENTERTAINED: ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. AND THE STATE OF DEMOCRACY

By Alison Rose-Levy

“Most Americans know more about Britney Spears than we do about global warming,” Robert F. Kennedy told the thousands people gathered at last weekend’s annual Being Fearless conference, hosted by the Omega Institute.

Forty years ago when the boomer generation saw its heroes gunned down one-two-three (JFK, MLK, RFK), many hung up the marching shoes and turned towards the inner journey. If we couldn’t face a scary world, at least we could control our own minds. Like Big Sur’s Esalen, the Omega Institute served as a safe place to escape the modern maelstrom, find community, and rediscover inner resources.

But as third generation self-help advice proliferates on the internet, many maturing seekers recognize the it’s not enough to heal ourselves, we have to face the fear, and take action to heal the world that is.

“This is the worst administration in American history–it’s put the worst polluters in charge of all areas of government” Robert F. Kennedy Jr told the conference attendees. As Kennedy, Valerie Plame Wilson, and others modeled a caring, balanced, and integral activism, they nudged the self-help movement out of its chrysalis and into the us-in-action movement. The recurring message was: “You have to speak truth to power. You must act.”

Back in my parent’s day, Kennedys in their prime were entrusted to lead, due to their rare ability to marry hope with competency and offer an accurate diagnosis and cure for our national ills.

In today’s harsh world, the Kennedy warrior of this generation is critiqued, maligned, ridiculed, and often censured by the mainstream news media when he offers an accurate (though discomfiting) analysis of environmental rollbacks, public health care policy, and their attendant health impacts. When Kennedy gave New York Times’ editors an array of DNA, animal, epidemiological, and biological studies that document the link between mercury and neurological disorders, they were so “hostile and antagonistic it was like talking to a brick wall,” Kennedy reported. In the past, the news media looked for investigative pieces. Today they look the other way, uncritically accepting government studies.

“The US has privatized safety research and by extension, the regulation of toxins. Expecting objectivity under these conditions is naïve at best,” says Kennedy, one of the few to connect the dots as:

• Campaign contributors are given posts in oversight of the industries they represent, where they
• Rewrite governmental regulations to protect their industry rather than the public good, resulting in:
• Environmental pollution, misuse of resources, and health care polices harmful to childhood and adult health

“We need to protect the environment not because we love trees–but because we love people,” Kennedy points out. A believing Catholic he questions those who thump the bible, and go on to plunder and pollute the Creation for cash.

“MISINFORMATION UNDERMINES DEMOCRACY” – RFK JR.

The multiple crises we face all occur because vested media conglomerates have replaced a watchdog press, Kennedy says.

Goodbye to investigative journalism, foreign news bureaus, and fair reporting. Hello to misinformation, one-sided spins and cheap entertainment, appealing to the reptilian brain.

What happened? As part of the right to use public airwaves, network television was formerly mandated to provide news coverage even at an economic loss, Kennedy reminds us. But that ended in 1988, when Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine, which permitted broadcasters to cut back their news divisions and abdicate their responsibility to inform. Today, the CBS news bureau which formerly boasted Edward R. Murrow and others, is rumored to be seeking to outsource its reporting to CNN.

“We’re the most entertained, and least well informed country on earth.” Kennedy told the crowd. “Misinformation undermines democracy,” as 30% of Americans get their information from biased talk radio.

The boomer generation has to face facts: on our watch, this country took a very bad turn. The time has come to second activists like Kennedy and make our numbers count. In the allied areas of the organic food movement, integrative health care, health care policy reform, environmental activism, food and agricultural policy, media reform, election and judicial activism and other key arenas, many are carrying the meditation cushion into activism.

 

Story from The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alison-rose-levy/america-the-entertained-r_b_97000.html

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