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number 149    
source: Viroqua
Slim Harpo  
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Recently released documents reveal
that the White House and the
Pentagon have engaged in an
orchestrated campaign to influence
network and cable television news
military analysts, in an effort to shape
coverage of the “war on terror” and
the occupation of Iraq.

The documents, which were obtained
by the
New York Times after it sued
the Department of Defense, show
that the Bush administration “sought
to exploit ideological and military
allegiances, and also a powerful
financial dynamic: Most of the
analysts have ties to military
contractors vested in the very war
policies they are asked to assess on
air,” according to the newspaper.
military analysts later expressed
regret at having been “manipulated”
by the Pentagon, and some admitted
to skewing their reports in order to
maintain their access to high-level
officials. According to the report, the
networks are often unaware of
potential conflicts of interest arising
from the analysts’ business holdings.

In addition to providing favorable
analysis and adhering to
administration talking points, the
military experts were expected to
counter negative or unwelcome
reports. The
Times reports, “Again
and again, records show, the
administration has enlisted analysts
as a rapid reaction force to rebut
what it  
viewed as critical news coverage,
some of it by the networks’ own
Pentagon correspondents.” The
military analysts received private
briefings with senior officials,
access to classified information,
and trips to Baghdad, Iraq and
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The report notes that the top
military analysts collectively
represent more than 150 military
contractors either as lobbyists,
senior executives, board
members, or consultants.
Pentagon memos referred to the
analysts as "surrogates" who
would repeat talking points "in the
form of their own opinions."        
it's all true
A new study of genetically
modified soybeans confirms what
other research has found: that
GM products do not increase crop
yields, and in many cases farmers
record significant decreases in
productivity using the
bioengineered seeds. The
three-year University of Kansas
study showed a ten percent yield
reduction for a GM soybean
produced by Monsanto. The
results raise new doubts about
claims that genetically modified
crops may provide the answer to
world food commodity shortages
or decreasing fossil fuel supplies.

The Kansas research study
produced similar results to an
earlier project at the University of
Nebraska. A spokesman for
Monsanto said that the seeds,
which are engineered to be
resistant to the ubiquitous
Monsanto-produced pesticide
Roundup, were not designed to
produce higher yields, but that
such a product was in
development. Critics contend that
agribusiness is reaching the limit
of its ability to raise crop yields
through bioengineering, which is
increasingly complex.   
it's all true  
Pharmaceutical giant Merck routinely
drafted research studies that
supported its own products, using in-
house employees or private
contractors to write scientific reports
and then attributing authorship of the
papers to prominent doctors who
were paid by the company. The
fraudulent practice, which is detailed
in an article in the Journal of the
American Medical Association, was
discovered by doctors involved in
lawsuits over Merck’s drug Vioxx. The
authors of the JAMA article say that
the “ghostwriting” of medical
research reports by corporate
marketing and public relations
departments appears to be
increasingly common.

The team reviewing internal Merck
documents for plaintiffs in Vioxx-
related litigation found references to
96 different medical journal
publications. The documents showed
that for 16 of 20 reports on clinical
trials of the drug, Merck employees
were listed as authors on early
drafts, but when the papers were
published, outside doctors were
credited. The lead author of the
JAMA article, Dr. Joseph Ross of the
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told
the New York Times, “It almost calls
into question all legitimate research
that’s been conducted by the
industry with the academic physician.”

Spokesmen for Merck confirmed that
the company uses contract writers
and its own employees to draft
reports before they are forwarded to
the doctors who eventually claim
authorship of the papers in scientific
journals. But they denied allegations
that the studies are “ghostwritten” by
the company, and insisted that the
listed authors made significant
contributions to the reports. Some of
the doctors named as authors of the
Vioxx reports have come forward to
defend their role in the controversial

Among the internal Merck documents
was an email from a private company
hired to write reports about the
efficacy of Vioxx for publication in
various scientific journals. The email
cites an “intended author” and
“intended journal” for each of eight
different articles. One early draft of a
paper about the use of Vioxx by
patients with Alzheimer’s disease
listed several Merck employees as
contributors, but identified the lead
researcher as “External Author?”  
The article was eventually published
two years later in a leading medical
journal as the work of a well- known
Alzheimer’s specialist.
 it's all true
Increasing reports of
suspicious house fires and
automobile fires across the
country have led law
enforcement officials and
insurance companies to
conclude that some owners
who cannot afford to make
loan payments may be
choosing to commit arson as a
way out of seemingly
intractable financial situations.

Although rates of arson
declined by 60 percent
between 1997 and 2007,
arson and cases of suspected
arson have been increasing in
certain areas across America,
most significantly in areas
where there have been large
numbers of home
foreclosures.  In Ohio, a sate
that has seen a dramatic
increase in foreclosures,
instances of automobile arson
and staged auto thefts have
risen by 150 percent in the
past two years.

In California, where thousands
of properties have been seized
by banks, the number of
suspected home arson cases
referred for official
investigation has doubled and
the number of auto arsons has
increased by a third.  In the
San Joaquin Valley, which had
the nation’s highest rate of
foreclosures in March, cases
of suspicious auto fires have
doubled over the past three

Investigators from the
insurance industry have
requested a meeting with the
state’s insurance commission
to  convince the authority to
investigate instances of
possible arson that occurred
during last years wildfires that
destroyed 2000 homes in
the state.       
it's all true
The House Financial Services
committee approved a $15 billion
housing bill that is intended to assist
American families who run the risk of
having their homes seized by
financial institutions through
foreclosure actions leaving them
homeless.  Though there has been
bipartisan support for a measure that
would provide relief for homeowners,
the bills currently under
consideration in both houses rely
heavily on tax breaks and incentives
for homebuilders and offer little for
families facing foreclosure and no
funding at all directly to homeowners
who are locked into expensive loans
as their properties rapidly lose value.

Key provisions in both bills call for
supplying $4 billion in federal aid to
local governments in areas hit
hardest by foreclosures, offering a
$7000 dollar tax
credit to purchasers of foreclosed
properties, and providing $100
million in federal funding to groups
that offer mortgage counseling.  

The most expensive component of
the federal spending measures
proposed, however, is a tax provision
that provides aid not to families, but
rather to the home building industry.  
The provision allows companies to
charge off losses from this year and
next year against taxes that the
companies have paid going back to
2004.  This would allow businesses
to either receive refunds of taxes
paid in past years or use their losses
to reduce their taxable income in any
of the next 20 years.  The write-off
provision is estimated to cost
taxpayers $6.1 billion.  The provision
was promoted by the National
Association of Home Builders, which
has donated more
than $11 million to political
candidates and parties since

The Center for Budget and Policy
Priorities estimates that “about
three-fifths of the bill’s cost
reflects tax-cut provisions that will
do little or nothing to help either
homeowners or hard-hit

A provision that would allow
bankruptcy judges to cut interest
rates on mortgages to help
families that have filed for
bankruptcy protection to remain in
their homes was killed in the
Senate version of the bill by a
vote of 58-36.  Eight Senate
Democrats and independent Joe
Lieberman of Connecticut
voted with republican Senate
members to deny homeowners
this protection.        
it's all true
A recent study prison populations
found that the United States holds
nearly one quarter of all prisoners
worldwide.  While the US has less
than 5 percent of the world’s
population, it holds 2.3 million
criminals behind bars.  That is more
than any country including China that
has four times as many people but
has 1.6 million prisoners.

The report from the International
Center for Prison Studies at King’s
College in London found that the US
has the highest percentage of its
population behind bars.  For every
100,000 residents in America, 735
are in prison.  Russia had the second
highest rate of incarceration, 627 for
every 100,000 people.  Most
industrialized nations had averages
that were far lower than in the US.  In
England only 151 citizens per
100,000 are in prison and in Japan
number is 63 per 100,000 residents.

As previously reported by, the findings of a
recent study by the Pew Center
reported that 1 in every 100
American Adults is currently
incarcerated.  The Pew report found
that the states spend over $49 billion
each year to service a growing
population of prisoners.  

Both reports found that America’s
sentencing practices are the most
severe in the industrial world.  The
US locks up people for more
nonviolent crimes than any other
industrial nation.  The US is the only
advanced nation that incarcerates
people who are prosecuted for
writing bad checks.  Prison
sentences in the US are also
lengthier than those imposed in
European countries
and Canada.              
it's all true
...The first value is,
we're all God's children."
  Washington DC 07.16.03
verbatim                                                                number 29.2
"And we base it, our
history, and our
decision-making, our
future, on solid values....
sc      nc     nm      wv      
Percent of housing units
that are mobile homes
top five states
Military Analysts' Interest in Conflict a Conflict of
Journal Articles Prescribed by Drug
Lower Yields
From Mutant Fields
Construction Industry Tax Breaks Built Into Housing
Banks Burned
By Foreclosures
US Has a Lock on Incarceration Records
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