Category Archives: texas

We’re launching another new blog! Check out “The Magic Bullet”

We’re proudly announcing the launch of yet another *new* blog! Thanks to contributing editor Jack Mosel for the idea and our founding editor, New Frontier, for the name and concept of the our latest site, THE MAGIC BULLET. We hope you will check it out and become an active participant in the debates there.  Right now, we’re just getting the site up off the ground, so please help us grow by telling a few friends about it and add our link to your blogrolls!

About the Magic Bullet

The founding fathers (and mothers!) of this blog met each other through a shared interest in the conspiracy research movement, particularly the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations and the events of September 11, 2001.

We are proud Americans who love our country, but hate what we see happening to it. Though our own individual journeys of study and discovery, we all came to the same conclusion: that the same dark cabal of conspirators was responsible for the deaths of King and the Kennedys, as well as 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11 – and that furthermore, this conspiracy actually has been in existence for hundreds of years, dating back to the earliest days of our Republic.

Our editorial team, comprised of Jack Mosel (senior editor), Tiger Haynes and New Frontier (contributing editors), all met while blogging on the various Kennedy-oriented websites founded by New Frontier. The idea recently came up to start a new blog where we could discuss other subjects that were not directly related to the Kennedys, and THE MAGIC BULLET was born.

Why THE MAGIC BULLET, you ask? 

It’s simply a metaphor for “official” government cover stories (i.e. lies). Whenever governments perform an act of terrorism or a massive hoax on their own people, they always offer up a “magic bullet theory” – such as the Warren and 9/11 Commissions — some nice, convenient little way to tie up the loose ends and make it all sound like it was just a perfect coincidence, a “magic” bullet, if you will.
 
The idea of a blog called THE MAGIC BULLET is to de-construct those official myths and instead present the TRUTH. Ideally, this site will feature articles that are deeply researched, passionately written…and above all, THOUGHT-PROVOKING! The kinds of stories that stir debate and encourage readers to agree, disagree, and/or offer up their own version of historical events and yes, conspiracy theories, too.
Here we will endeavor not just to cover cover current events, but we want to help readers come to a better understanding of our history as well. We will examine critical events in American history, and present an “alternate” or “buried” version of the FACTS, not the HYPE or COVER STORY.
 
For example – here are just a few upcoming stories we’re working on:
 
  • Did America really win the Revolutionary War, or are we still secretly being controlled by our “mothership,” Great Britain? 
  • Was the Civil War really fought to free the slaves? Or was it about usurpation of state’s rights?
  • Why was President McKinley assassinated?
  • What REALLY caused the Great Depression?
  • Is the Federal Reserve really Federal, and does it have a Reserve?
  • Why do we have a Federal Income Tax, and are we as individuals required to pay it?
  • Why was it necessary for the USA to become involved in WWI and WWII, when both were “Europe’s wars?”
  • Why did we go into Korea and Vietnam? Was it to stop the spread of communism as they say, or to make arms manufacturers rich?
  • What useful purpose does the United Nations serve? Is it a plot for global government or a benevolent organization that strives to save the world from itself?
  • Did Sirhan Sirhan really kill RFK all by his lonesome, or did he have help? If so, who else was involved and why haven’t they been caught?
  • Was JFK Jr.’s plane crash really “pilot error”? Or something more sinister?
  • Are the Bushes really Nazis?
  • Where’s Osama?
And of course…..last but certainly not least:
  • Was 9/11 an inside job?
 
These are just a few stories we’re currently developing, subjects that have always intrigued us, questions about our past that we  still research actively and seek answers to. We’d like to share our findings with others and encourage them to dig deeper; do more seeking on their own; to think independently and not just swallow whatever version of events their government gives them as fact.
 
There is so much more going on in the world today than meets the eye, so much more to history than what is in our history books. Or what they teach in school. We have to teach each other and educate OURSELVES, because there ain’t no such thing as a MAGIC BULLET! It’s all a myth and a dirty lie!!!!
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy…”
— William Shakespeare, Hamlet
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Filed under impeach Bush, JFK, JFK Jr., John F. Kennedy, john f. kennedy jr., media, politics, president kennedy, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, texas, the kennedys, Uncategorized

Caroline? Sweet.

CAROLINE KENNEDY TOSSES HER HAT OVER THE WALL

…AND HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO FOLLOW IT

“Frank O’Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall–and then they had no choice but to follow them.”

— President John F. Kennedy

San Antonio, TX. November 21, 1963

Caroline Kennedy is going for it.

Gov. Paterson said Kennedy called him Monday to formally ask to be considered for the U.S. Senate seat that will open up when Hillary Clinton becomes Secretary of State.

Paterson, who will make the two-year pick, said Kennedy wants to “to tell me what she thinks her qualifications are.”

The governor spoke to Kennedy about the seat on Dec. 3, but wasn’t sure if she was serious or just dipping a toe in the water.

Although Paterson has the only say, Kennedy has reached out to some of the state’s top Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).

Kennedy also was calling many in the state’s congressional delegation and others such as Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, with whom she has worked.

Klein said Kennedy spent the last week giving serious thought about the position, how it would affect her family and the fact that she would have to run for election in 2010 and reelection in 2012. “She’s clearly ready and sort of making sure people know she’s willing to do the hard work that’s necessary,” he said.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said Kennedy called her Monday to say “she’s excited about the race and she’s ready to roll up her sleeves.” While saying they won’t publicly back a candidate, Quinn and a host of others cited Kennedy’s credentials as a public education advocate and her life as a lawyer and constitutional scholar.

“She is in,” a top Dem source said. “I don’t see how he [Paterson] says no. He has to do it.”

Kennedy, who has said nothing to the press, has gotten warm praise from President-elect Barack Obama and Mayor Bloomberg, but has also been the subject of criticism from Clinton supporters who say she lacks the experience to be a U.S. senator.

“We don’t know if Caroline has that fire in the belly,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens, Brooklyn) said outside a Clinton fund-raiser last night. “Being senator of New York is a 2-4/7, 365-day-a-year endeavor.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke yesterday with Kennedy, said he “unequivocally disagrees” with the criticism. “Elected office is not the only area of public service that establishes leadership in this country,” Sharpton said.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said the senator will not be weighing in on the debate.

“This is entirely Gov. Paterson’s decision,” he said.

Kennedy is the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy and niece to the late Robert F. Kennedy, who once held the seat she is seeking. Known for her shyness, she’s spent most of her adult life out of the public spotlight.

One person who worked with her at the city Education Department said, “I never thought this is something she would be interested in.”

Kennedy has hired a political consulting firm tied to Schumer and Bloomberg and The News has learned she may soon embark on a quasi-“listening tour” upstate – just as Clinton once did.

Her family, particularly her uncle Sen. Edward Kennedy, was pushing her to go for the seat. Many say Edward Kennedy wants to ensure that the decades-long tradition of having a Kennedy in the Senate continues.

Her cousin Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was thrilled to hear the news, saying she immediately becomes the favorite to replace Clinton.

“You’d immediately have someone in the Senate who everyone wants to work with and who has a winning personality,” he said.

Citing her work with Obama, who calls Caroline Kennedy “one of my dearest friends,” RFK Jr. noted the value of having a freshman senator “with direct access to the President and to thebiggest political names in the Senate.”

Asked about the criticism, he said, “It’s New York. It’s politics. Nobody is going to waltz in … without being criticized.”

Paterson will make his decision after Clinton is confirmed.

Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), who has announced he’ll run for the seat in 2010, said he expects Kennedy to be Paterson’s choice.

“It makes me more inclined to run than ever,” he said.

“The senator from New York should be someone with a record of fighting for New York and who understands the problems and issues of middle-income and working people.”

Story from U.S. News and World Report

With Glenn Blain and Kenneth R. Bazinet

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Filed under barack obama, election 2008, hillary clinton, jackie kennedy, JFK, JFK Jr., John F. Kennedy, john f. kennedy jr., media, politics, president kennedy, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, texas, the kennedys, Uncategorized

Op-Ed: JFK Anniversary Tainted By Poor News Reporting

STORIES SAD BUT (NOT) TRUE

President Kennedy rides through the streets of Dallas. Nov. 22, 1963

President Kennedy rides through the streets of Dallas. Nov. 22, 1963

While browsing through the various and sundry news reports marking the 45th anniversary of the JFK Assassination yesterday, I was struck by one strange but nonetheless glaring error which was reported by several major news organizations around the globe. From a curiously uncited wire service report:

It was 45 years ago today that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed as he rode in an open limousine in a motorcade through downtown Dallas.

The gunshots rang out shortly before noon as crowds lining the street watched in horror as the president slumped over in the backseat of his limousine, with fatal wounds to his head and neck.

Okay , now take a closer look at the second paragraph. Anything jump out at you? (OK, besides the fact that the entire paragraph is one big sloppy run-on sentence.)

The wire copy reports that shots rang out “just before noon.” As anyone who has ever read a history book knows, President Kennedy was shot at 12:30 p.m. central time.

This wire story was picked up by local, national, and international news outlets around the world yesterday. All of them ran the erroneous text exactly as it appears above. Obviously, not a single copy editor at any of these media organizations who ran the article noticed or corrected the error. Even more troubling is that none of their readers or viewers did, either. (Or, if they did notice and complain, their comments and letters to the editor were censored.)

Even when I tuned in to hear Dan Rather talk about covering the assassination on Mike Huckabee’s primetime weekend FoxNews program, I was appalled to hear this exact same error repeated again during Fox’s top-of-the-hour news break at 8 p.m. eastern. This time from the lacquered lips of weekend newsbunny, Emerson College grad and Emmy-award winning anchor Julie Banderas:

“And on this day in 1963, the people of Dallas, Texas, lined the downtown streets for a glimpse of their young president as his motorcade drove past. President John F. Kennedy rode in the back of an open limousine, waving and smiling to the throng. Then, just before noon, the smiles in Dealey Plaza turned to horror as shots rang out…”

So…let me get this straight: a bullet, fired “just before noon” hovers in midair for 30 minutes before hitting its’ target at 12:30 p.m.? Wow, that really IS one hell of a magic bullet! (And you thought all that zigging and zagging it could do was impressive!)

In any murder case — certainly in the most hotly-debated murder case of the 20th century — 30 minutes makes a huge difference.  Had shots rang out “just before noon” as erroneously reported, the president would have been assassinated while deplaning Air Force One. (Kennedy’s plane touched down at Dallas Love Field just before noon.) The only motorcade in Dallas that day would have been the one rushing him immediately to the nearest hospital. He would have been pronounced dead by 12:30 p.m., and history would have been written very differently.

Yeah, in a parallel universe. The one inhabited by lazy wire service writers who make up alternate versions of history out of thin air. (Because there is not an encyclopedia in the world which reports JFK’s murder as having taken place before noon.) The fantasy world populated by copy editors at mainstream media outlets worldwide who are apparently too stupid (or at the least mentally-challenged) to fact-check a story. The universe filled with attractive talking heads (“anchor” is too complimentary a word for them) who are too dense and self-absorbed to know or even care if the story they are reading to millions of viewers is accurate.

The Way It SHOULD Have Happened on 11-22-63. Since were making up our own versions of history now, why not try this scenario on for size?

In my parallel universe: The Way It SHOULD Have Happened on 11-22-63. Since we're making up our own versions of history now, why not try this scenario on for size?

JOURNALISM 101 CLASS IS NOW IN SESSION

The first thing an aspiring reporter learns in journalism school is that every story must answer five questions: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, AND WHY? (Also known as “the five W’s”) The questions must be addressed in the first two paragraphs of the story (known as the “lede”), and the information must be accurate, based on information provided by at least two reliable sources.

In the case of President Kennedy’s assassination, accurate information which answers the first four questions is readily available from any library, history book, encyclopedia, newspaper archive, or a basic web search. This stuff ain’t rocket science. Any ten year-old taking a history exam could gather the following:

WHO? — President John F. Kennedy

WHAT? — Assassination

WHEN? — November 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m.

WHERE? — In a motorcade traveling down Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas.

Now, as for that tricky fifth question — WHY? — that’s the rest of your story.

WHY is the question the American people still want answered, even after 45 years.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to count on our press to find the answer to that one (a notion that certainly wouldn’t surprise longtime JFK conspiracy researchers). After all, if they can’t even give us an accurate account of WHEN the president was killed (a fact of the case which has never been in dispute), how could we expect them to do any serious investigation into WHY the president was killed?

IT’S THE MEDIA, STUPID

This blog is always critical of the media any time they report bad information about the Kennedy family. We’re quick to point out their easily avoidable errors, outrageous mistakes and boneheaded bloopers.

Unfortunately, they’ve been keeping us awfully busy this past year, as the quality of reporting continues to slide rapidly downhill and somebody’s got to call `em out on it. So we do. But this particular one really hit home for me. If they can’t even get the basic facts straight about JFK’s assassination on the 45th anniversary, this does not bode well for what the coverage is going to look like on the 50th anniversary. Or the 150th.

Heaven help us, God Bless President Kennedy, and Goddamn the lazy, coddled infants of our fourth estate who can’t be bothered to Google the initials “JFK” before running a story about him. Shame, shame, shame!

(And if you think my choice of words might be just a tad harsh, take a listen to this profanity-laden tirade JFK unleashed upon Gen. Godfrey McHugh after the president read a news report he didn’t like:)

(Kennedy, an avid reader, experienced reporter, and tough-as-nails media critic, then called up Arthur Sylvester, his old friend and former newspaperman who now served as Assistant Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs, to let off some more steam over the “fuck-up”.  This phone call is absolutely hilarious!)

FOR FURTHER READING ON MORE MEDIA KENNEDY “WONDER BLUNDERS”, WE RECOMMEND:

Whoops, They Did It Again

(yes, even the Boston Globe, the Kennedys’ hometown newspaper)

ABC News Can’t Keep Their Kennedys Straight

(apparently, NBC News can’t either. See story below.)

Say WHAT? Matt Lauer to RFK Jr.: “How’s Your Dad?”

(you absolutely, positively can’t make this stuff up, folks!)

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45 Years Later, JFK’s Words Still Resonate

A SOMBER ANNIVERSARY

acsjfk383_14_11f

"We must use time as a tool, not a crutch." -- JFK

Today marks 45 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

It is a time when all Americans (even those who were not yet born in 1963) stop to reflect on what our country lost that day for we lost so much more than more than just a man — and we ponder what role that tragic event played in shaping the world we now find ourselves living in.

While it is important that we pause to remember the past, and to ask these questions about America’s future (he would want us to), let’s not allow ourselves to forget the man Jack Kennedy was. Because it seems that far too often, we focus our attention on his death and the many questions that still remain unanswered. Shouldn’t we instead remember his life?

Sitting atop the perch where Abraham Zapruder shot his film of the assassination, a young boy tries to make sense of it all. Dealey Plaza, Dallas, TX. June 1, 2008

Sitting atop the perch where Abraham Zapruder shot his film of the assassination, a young boy tries to make sense of it all. Dealey Plaza, Dallas, TX. June 1, 2008

Since this somber anniversary happens to fall around Thanksgiving, it just doesn’t seem appropriate somehow to be mournful. Rather, let us give thanks for all of the good things he brought to this world as a catalyst for change. Let us recall the way he inspired people around the globe; the hope and optimism he brought to the presidency. Let’s celebrate his vision, his strength, his courage, his razor-sharp mind, his gracecharm, and of course, that delightful, sometimes wicked wit.

This would be a perfect time to reach for one of your favorite books on the shelf and immerse yourself in some of his words. Listen to some of his best speeches. Because these things are the legacy he left us. His words will live in history forever and cannot be erased.

A single red rose, left by an unknown admirer on the Grassy Knoll in front of the former Texas School Book Depository (now the 6th Floor Museum).

A single red rose, left by an unknown admirer on the Grassy Knoll in front of the former Texas School Book Depository (now the 6th Floor Museum).

Naturally, we all have our own favorite books and speeches of JFK’s; I’ve certainly got a long list of works I find deeply moving and inspiring, but I’ll refrain from making any recommendations here because I feel that how each of us remembers him today should be a strictly personal choice.

But there is one little tidbit I want to share:

On November 19, 1963, just three days before his death, President Kennedy wrote this message for the rededication ceremonies of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania:

“The goals of liberty and freedom, the obligations of keeping ours a government of and for the people are never-ending.”

Just one sentence, but this says it all. Written exactly 45 years ago, these words serve to remind us all that there is still so much work to do. Lest we forget.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

May 29, 1917- November 22, 1963 

Notes and flowers left for President Kennedy on the Grassy Knoll Fence. Dallas, June 2008

Notes and flowers left for President Kennedy on the Grassy Knoll Fence. Dallas, June 2008

 PHOTO GALLERY

President and Mrs. Kennedy (holding red roses) at Love Field, Dallas. Nov. 22, 1963

President and Mrs. Kennedy (holding red roses) at Love Field, Dallas. Nov. 22, 1963

 * FOR FURTHER READING, WE RECOMMEND:

“Midnight in the Plaza of Good and Evil”

“Happy Birthday, Mr. President” 

“A Word From JFK on Independence Day”

“Former JFK Secret Service Agent Speaks Out in New Book: The Echo From Dealey Plaza”

“Op-Ed: Whoops, They Did It Again”

“Op-Ed: Who Will Carry The Torch Now?”

“JFK on Presidential Leadership”

The “Fearless” Kennedy

Op-Ed: We Have Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself

Dallas D.A. Releases Secret Stash of JFK Assassination Files

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Announcing the Launch of RFKJrNews.com

ANOTHER *NEW* SITE GOES LIVE OCT. 1

GUARANTEED TO FLOAT BETTER THAN A LED ZEPPELIN

Okay, so it’s not exactly as earth-shattering as the news that Led Zeppelin might be doing a reunion tour next summer after all (I mean, that’s BIG!), but we do have a pretty darn important annnouncement for you:

On October 1st, RFKJrNews.com will be born into our ever-growing family tree of websites, and we think you’ll like it.

RFKJrNews.com will be an important news and information source for Kennedy’s supporters who want the very latest on what Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is up to – where he’s speaking, what he’s saying, what he’s doing – and why you should care.

Over the past year, the RFKJrforPresident.com website has provided this service as a way to keep Bobby’s fans informed and involved, and your response to our efforts has truly been amazing. Our editorial staff finally decided it was time to have a separate sister site devoted exclusively to coverage of RFK Jr. News, while keeping this site focused on its’ original mission: to convince Mr. Kennedy to run for president.

After October 1st, the Kennedy for President site will remain online with links to our petition drive and articles relating to the presidential race, but gradually you will notice the majority of our daily news coverage moving over to the RFKJrNews.com site.

Our story archives and your comments have already been moved over to RFKJrNews.com. Of course, the archives and comments will remain on this server forever as well.

Now seems a perfect time to make the move, as the 2008 presidential election season moves into its’ final month. With talk of a run in 2012 already in the air, we’re re-tooling the mission of the Kennedy for President website and our petition drive to reflect that. Meanwhile, we wish to keep Bobby’s supporters informed on the latest news, so we think the RFKJrNews.com site will serve that purpose nicely.

Of course, you can expect the same quality reporting, timeliness, responsiveness and smart-ass, cutting commentary you’ve come to expect from us on the new site. As our team of volunteers, readers and editors continues to grow, so does our mission and our goals for the future. We’re so glad to have all of you on board, hope you will enjoy the new RFKJrNews.com site, and that you will post your thoughts there often!

RFKJrNews.com is destined to become our flagship site over the months ahead, so come grow with us.

And don’t forget to keep our sister sites in your bookmarks as well:

http://RFKJrforPresident.com

http://TheKennedys.Wordpress.com

http://Kennedy4President.com

http://RFKin2008.com

http://RFKin2012.com

http://AllTheWayWithRFK.com

And if you have a news tip or RFK-related story you’d like to submit to any of our sites, please drop an email to our managing editor, Tiger Haynes.

Thanks for reading this important announcement, enjoy the new site, and crank up that Zeppelin, dude!

* Enjoy this rare performance of Zep in their prime from Earls Court, May 25, 1975.

(What kind of “plant” is Robert smoking there, anyway? Hmm…?) 

PS – Don’t want to break any hearts here, but I have it on very good authority from an unimpeachable source (this blog’s own Founding Editor, New Frontier, herself a musician of some renown) that the Zeppelin reunion rumor is, alas, only a rumor this time. She confirmed it with Mr. Plant personally backstage at the Austin City Limits festival Saturday night…

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Don’t Start the Revolution Without Ron Paul

What, no flag pin?

This week, Rep. Ron Paul refused to endorse McCain and encouraged his supporters to vote third-party in 2008

RON PAUL LEADS CAMPAIGN FOR LIBERTY, CALLS FOR THIRD-PARTY UNITY

WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning Texas lawmaker who attracted a devoted following in the GOP primaries, held a news conference Wednesday to present a united front of minor-party presidential candidates.

“Presidential elections turn out to be more of a charade than anything else,” said Paul, adding there was no difference between the major-party candidates, Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

“We represent the majority of the American people,” Paul said, referring to the 60% of eligible voters who don’t cast a ballot.

With Paul at the news conference were independent candidate Ralph Nader; former Georgia Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party candidate; and Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party candidate. Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate, was invited but said at his own news conference later that he declined because Paul didn’t endorse one candidate.

“We need today, now, 55 days before this election, bold, focused, specific leadership and that is not the amorphous kind that says any of the above or none of the above,” Barr said.

Earlier, Paul called the presidential elections a charade and said voters are faced with the “lesser of two evils.”

The majority of Americans are unhappy with their choices in the race, Paul said. He urged the three third-party candidates to bring all their supporters together to vote against the “establishment candidates.”

Paul, 73, a former doctor, ran for president as the Libertarian candidate in 1988. He is unopposed in the November race for his congressional seat.

Nader derided news media focus on what he called “lipstickgate,” referring to the bickering between the McCain and Barack Obama campaigns over whether a phrase used by Obama was a sexist comment against Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Nader, a consumer protection advocate, acknowledged differences among the third-party candidates such as government regulation of health and safety standards. But he added that he shares Paul’s support for more opportunity in the political process for third-party candidates.

Nader and the others complained about the difficulty of getting into the debates, which is determined by the Commission on Presidential Debates — created by the Democratic and Republican parties.

“Why are we rationing debates in this country?” Nader asked.

The Commission on Presidential Debates limits debate participants to candidates who have a 15% standing in the polls.

Paul also said he rejected a request from Phil Gramm to endorse John McCain’s presidential bid. Gramm is the former McCain adviser and ex-senator whom the campaign jettisoned after he said the country was a “nation of whiners” about the economy. Gramm defeated Paul in the Republican primary for the Senate in 1984.

Paul said Gramm called him this week and told him, “You need to endorse McCain.” The Texas congressman said he refused.

“The idea was that he would do less harm than the other candidate,” Paul said.

Story from the Detroit Free Press.

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Filed under austin, barack obama, election 2008, impeach Bush, media, politics, RFK Jr., robert kennedy jr., texas, Uncategorized

This Week’s “Unearthed” News from RFK Jr.

* Here’s the latest “Unearthed” news from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle (report courtesy of the Huffington Post).

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

Supreme Court Slashes Exxon Valdez Judgment

The Supreme Court slashed a $2.5 billion punitive damages award for the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to just $500 million. An Alaskan jury originally awarded $5 billion in 1994 in punitive damages for the fishermen, Native Americans and residents of Prince William Sound whose lives were devastated by the 11 million gallon oil spill which spoiled 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline. Exxon Mobil waged a protracted, 14-year legal battle to appeal that award; in 2006 a federal appeals court cut the amount in half to $2.5 billion. Exxon appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to completely reject punitive damages because the company claims it spent $3.4 billion in fines, penalties and cleanup costs related to the accident.

In the court’s 5-3 decision (Justice Samuel Alito was recused since he owns over $100,000 in Exxon stock) Justice David Souter wrote that the Exxon Valdez spill was “profitless” for the company and that the penalty should be “reasonably predictable” in its severity.

Of the 33,000 plaintiffs who were originally eligible to share in the jury award handed down in 1994, 20 percent have died over the course of Exxon’s 14-year appeal.

Surviving plaintiffs will collect an average of about $15,000 a person in punitive damages, one-tenth what they were awarded under the original $5 billion judgment.

Oil still oozes from the beaches in Prince William Sound, continuing to impact the ecosystem which was devastated by the spill that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine animals. Exxon Mobil’s first-quarter 2008 profits were $10.9 billion. The company’s 2007 profit was $40.6 billion.

 
White House Blocks EPA Draft On Global Warming Emissions

The White House is working to block the Environmental Protection Agency from publishing a document which outlines how the government could regulate global warming emissions under the Clean Air Act while benefiting the economy. The document is based on a multi-year, multimillion-dollar study by EPA and its findings could ultimately serve as a legal roadmap for regulating U.S. global warming emissions.

That is, until it faced review by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Bush’s OMB is demanding that EPA delete sections of the document that outline how greenhouse gas emissions could be regulated, delete any references asserting that emissions endanger public welfare, and delete an analysis of the benefits to the economy of regulating greenhouse gases here and abroad.

The OMB instead wants the document to suggest that the Clean Air Act is ineffective and that greenhouse gases should be regulated under new legislation. The draft is effectively being held hostage until EPA makes OMB’s changes, since the White House must approve a final draft before EPA can release the document publicly.

The draft EPA document confirms that fuel efficiency could be improved to well above 35 miles per gallon by 2020; CO2 emissions could easily be regulated through the government-permit process and through a cap-and-trade system similar to existing programs for acid rain and mercury; and that overall, the regulations would be beneficial to the U.S. economy.

“The net benefit to society could be in excess of $2 trillion,” according to the draft document.
Polar Scientists Predict Possibility of Open Water at North Pole This Summer

Polar scientists predict that Arctic sea ice could break up and leave a large patch of open water at the North Pole this summer for the first time in human history. Satellite data from recent weeks indicates that the rate of melting is faster than last year, when the Arctic experienced an all-time record loss of summer sea ice.

“From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water,” said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado. Dr Serreze predicts that “it’s even-odds whether the North Pole melts out” this summer.

Ice scientists are quick to point out the difficulty in predicting exactly how much of the ice will melt this summer, but note that the presence of large amounts of thinner ice formed over a single year is more vulnerable to melting than the normally thick ice formed over many years at the Pole. Global warming has increased average temperatures far more at the polar regions than elsewhere, and the loss of sea ice leads to more dark, open ocean which absorbs more heat and could raise polar temperatures even higher.
BLM Halts Solar Projects Citing Need for Environmental Review

The Bureau of Land Management declared a moratorium on new solar power projects on public land until it studies their potential environmental impact, a process that could take two years and cripple the booming solar industry. Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants as demand for alternative energy accelerates daily, BLM says it will spend up to two years conducting an extensive study to determine how the solar plants might affect the environment of 119 million acres of public land the bureau oversees in the West, most of which is ideally suited for solar energy.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Holly Gordon, vice president of Ausra, a California-based solar thermal energy company. “The Bureau of Land Management land has some of the best solar resources in the world. This could completely stunt the growth of the industry.”

The moratorium, combined with the uncertain future of federal solar investment tax credits set to expire at the end of the year because Congress has failed to renew them, could stifle solar industry growth and prevent or delay the creation of thousands of jobs in the process. During 2006-2007, when the tax credit was solidly in place and the BLM was calling for projects to be approved in a “timely manner,” the solar installation boom generated 6,000 new jobs and injected $2 billion into the U.S. economy.

Due to BLM’s decision to shelve new proposals until they finish the study, small solar energy businesses may be forced to turn to more expensive private land for development, adding another barrier to the rapid deployment of viable alternative energy sources.
U.S. Mayors Resolve to Avoid Burning Dirty Tar Sands Oil

The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution this week discouraging the use of high carbon fuels such as tar sands, liquid coal, and oil shale.

“We don’t want to spend taxpayer dollars on fuels that make global warming worse,” said Mayor Kitty Piercy, of Eugene, Oregon, who submitted the resolution.

The mayors’ resolution discourages participating U.S. cities from purchasing oil derived from the tar sands operations in Alberta, Canada, noting that “… the production of tar sands oil from Canada emits approximately three times the carbon dioxide pollution per barrel as does conventional oil production and significantly damages Canada’s Boreal forest ecosystem – the world’s largest carbon storehouse …”

The process of extracting oil from tar sands also uses more water and requires larger amounts of energy than conventional oil extraction.

“Not only will we give preference to clean, renewable energy sources, we are standing our ground when it comes to synthetic petroleum-based fuels that exacerbate global warming,” said Mayor Marty Blum of Santa Barbara, California.

More than 850 mayors are signatories to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their respective cities in the absence of federal leadership under the Bush administration.

 

Bush Signs $162B War Spending Bill for Iraq, Afghanistan
President Bush signed a $162 billion war spending bill this week, bringing the amount Congress has provided for the Iraq war since it began in 2003 to more than $650 billion and in Afghanistan to nearly $200 billion.

Those figures don’t represent the total amount spent by the military, however, since a new Congressional Research Service report shows the U.S. government has spent about $700 billion on “military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks.” Roughly 75% of that money has been devoted to the war in Iraq, CRS estimates.

 
Afghanistan Civilian Death Toll Rises Sharply

The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan in the first half of 2008 climbed by almost two-thirds compared with last year, according to the United Nations. Nearly 700 civilians have died, demonstrating the instability and violence afflicting the country, which is struggling to deliver emergency aid to civilians. Sixty percent of the casualties were caused by insurgents, while government or foreign troops killed 255 people, the UN said. The causes of 21 other deaths were unclear.

 
U.S. Officials Advised Iraqi Oil Ministry on No-Bid Contracts

The State Department led a team of American advisers who played an integral role in setting up no-bid contracts for five major Western oil companies to develop Iraq’s largest oil fields. Despite earlier claims to the contrary, the Bush Administration had direct involvement in the negotiations to open Iraq’s oil to commercial development, sending U.S. government lawyers and private-sector consultants to Iraq with contract templates and detailed suggestions on how the deals should be drafted. Sources familiar with the proceedings confirmed that representatives of the State, Commerce, Energy and Interior Departments have all aided the Iraqi Oil Ministry on how best to commercialize Iraq’s oil deposits.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claimed on Fox News earlier this month that “The United States government has stayed out of the matter of awarding the Iraq oil contracts. It’s a private sector matter.”

The no-bid contracts were widely anticipated to be awarded Monday to Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron, but the Iraqi Oil Ministry balked at the last minute. The Ministry revealed that the Western oil companies demanded to receive a share in the profits from future oil development, rather than cash payments for services rendered which the Iraqi government prefers.

The confirmation of Bush administration meddling in Iraq’s oil dealings leaves little question that the real intent of the invasion of Iraq was to earn American companies a piece of Iraq’s oil endowment.

“We pretend it is not a centerpiece of our motivation, yet we keep confirming that it is,” said Frederick D. Barton, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Despite the fact that other countries provided free advice and services in the past few years to help the Iraqi Oil Ministry prepare to ramp up production, only Western companies have received the bigger oil contracts so far.

 
Scalia Continues to Blame Al Gore for the 2000 Election Debacle

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told the Telegraph (UK) that Al Gore should have conceded the 2000 election without legal action. Scalia played an integral part in stopping the Florida recount, joining four other justices who ruled the recount method impractical and handed the presidency to George W. Bush. Scalia said, “if you don’t like it, don’t blame it on me. I didn’t bring it into the courts. Mr Gore brought it into the courts. So if you don’t like the courts getting involved talk to Mr Gore.”

“So I have no regrets about taking the case and I think our decision in the case was absolutely right. But if you ask me ‘Am I sorry it all happened?’ Of course I am sorry it happened there was no way that we were going to come out of it smelling like a rose. I mean, one side or the other was going to feel that was a politicized decision but that goes with the territory.”

 
KBR Accused of Knowingly Exposing U.S. Troops to Highly Toxic Chemical in Iraq

Defense contractor KBR is accused of knowingly exposing U.S. troops to sodium dichromate, a potentially lethal, carcinogenic chemical. KBR failed to warn 250 U.S. soldiers assigned to guard a crucial part of Iraq’s oil infrastructure that the chemical was present all over the site. Witnesses, including a former KBR employee responsible for health and safety at the site, testified at a Capitol Hill hearing this week that many of the exposed soldiers were “bleeding from the nose, spitting blood,” and getting sick while guarding the plant.

Scientific studies show that even short-term exposure to sodium dichromate – the same chemical that poisoned residents in Hinkley, CA made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich” – can cause cancer and harm the liver and immune system, among other impacts.

Witnesses at the hearing testified that KBR supervisors initially told the soldiers that sodium dichromate was a “mild irritant,” but finally acknowledged that the chemical was a potentially deadly substance and moved to clean up the site once soldiers starting getting ill.
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