Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
Week of 18th to 24th of October 2009
Vaccines - CDC Concedes Secretly that Vaccines have a Link to Autism (Video) [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: Of course they try to insinuate that it's the kid's fault -- she "already" had a "rare" cell "disorder."
(FLASHBACK) Deadly Immunity; Robert F. Kennedy Jr. investigates the government cover-up of a mercury/autism scandal
In June 2000, a group of top government scientists and health officials gathered for a meeting at the isolated Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Georgia. Convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the meeting was held at this Methodist retreat center, nestled in wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River, to ensure complete secrecy. The agency had issued no public announcement of the session -- only private invitations to fifty-two attendees. There were high-level officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, the top vaccine specialist from the World Health Organization in Geneva and representatives of every major vaccine manufacturer, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Wyeth and Aventis Pasteur. All of the scientific data under discussion, CDC officials repeatedly reminded the participants, was strictly "embargoed." There would be no making photocopies of documents, no taking papers with them when they left.
The federal officials and industry representatives had assembled to discuss a disturbing new study that raised alarming questions about the safety of a host of common childhood vaccines administered to infants and young children. According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency's massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines -- thimerosal -- appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children. "I was actually stunned by what I saw," Verstraeten told those assembled at Simpsonwood, citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism. Since 1991, when the CDC and the FDA had recommended that three additional vaccines laced with the preservative be given to extremely young infants -- in one case, within hours of birth -- the estimated number of cases of autism had increased fifteenfold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in 166 children.
Even for scientists and doctors accustomed to confronting issues of life and death, the findings were frightening. "You can play with this all you want," Dr. Bill Weil, a consultant for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the group. The results "are statistically significant." Dr. Richard Johnston, an immunologist and pediatrician from the University of Colorado whose grandson had been born early on the morning of the meeting's first day, was even more alarmed. "My gut feeling?" he said. "Forgive this personal comment -- I do not want my grandson to get a thimerosal-containing vaccine until we know better what is going on."
But instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the vaccine supply of thimerosal, the officials and executives at Simpsonwood spent most of the next two days discussing how to cover up the damaging data. According to transcripts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, many at the meeting were concerned about how the damaging revelations about thimerosal would affect the vaccine industry's bottom line. "We are in a bad position from the standpoint of defending any lawsuits," said Dr. Robert Brent, a pediatrician at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware. "This will be a resource to our very busy plaintiff attorneys in this country." Dr. Bob Chen, head of vaccine safety for the CDC, expressed relief that "given the sensitivity of the information, we have been able to keep it out of the hands of, let's say, less responsible hands." Dr. John Clements, vaccines advisor at the World Health Organization, declared that "perhaps this study should not have been done at all." He added that "the research results have to be handled," warning that the study "will be taken by others and will be used in other ways beyond the control of this group."
Doctors speak out about H1N1 VACCINE DANGERS (Video) [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: A nice summary of vaccine dangers from doctors. That's right -- real doctors. The mainstream press acts as though all vaccine criticism comes from irrational parents, but that's not true. The science is out there to verify vaccine dangers -- the big news networks just ignore facts and experts that their advertisers don't like. That way, you're not informed and your kids can get autism, too! Now isn't that nice of them?
CIA Invests in Software Firm Monitoring Blogs, Twitter [DN]
JUAN GONZALEZ: I�d like to get back for a second to this�you just happened to mention that remark that depending on whether this is being done, the social networking intelligence is being mined, internationally or domestically. Can the CIA conduct surveillance of Americans at home here, in terms of their communications?
NOAH SHACHTMAN: Well, they�re not supposed to. But, I mean, given the recent history of the US intelligence agencies looking inward as well as outward, it�s tough to imagine they wouldn�t. Also, remember, on the internet, it�s very tough to discern whether it�s a purely international conversation or whether a purely domestic conversation.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, you say, �In-Q-Tel says it wants Visible to keep track of foreign social media, and give spooks �early-warning detection on how issues are playing internationally,�� but that tool can just be used inward?
NOAH SHACHTMAN: I mean, obviously, right? It�s the internet. There�s no�there�s no hard national borders, and all this stuff is already out in the public. So it�s a little hard to fathom that there wouldn�t at least be the temptation to use it domestically.
AMY GOODMAN: What�s the military�s policy on soldiers using Twitter?
NOAH SHACHTMAN: The policy right now is up for grabs, but there should be a declared policy in the next, I would say, two to three weeks. And surprisingly, the Pentagon looks to be having a fairly liberal policy when it comes to Twitter and Facebook and other social networks. There was a lot of confusion over the years about whether soldiers could use it or not. Some commands banned it, others allowed it to happen. But it looks like the Pentagon is actually going to come out with something that says, �Hey, look, use YouTube and use Twitter, but just do it smart.�
JUAN GONZALEZ: But that has, certainly during the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war now, opened up a whole new level of communication that didn�t exist before, of ordinary soldiers being able to get information out to their family or to people here in the United States that normally would not happened in previous wars.
NOAH SHACHTMAN: Yeah, that�s absolutely true. And in this period of confusion where it wasn�t clear what the regulations were, a lot of times insecure commanders would sort of slap down their soldiers if they printed something that maybe was a little bit subversive or, you know, didn�t quite hew to the party line. But hopefully these new regulations are going to sort that out, and you really should be able to have those soldiers take to YouTube, take to Twitter, you know, with a great deal of freedom.
AMY GOODMAN: Back to what you said at the beginning, saying the uses for Visible before, Visible tracking animal rights activists� online campaigns against the company that was Hormel?
NOAH SHACHTMAN: Mm-hmm.
AMY GOODMAN: When it was working for Hormel. So, I see here you�ve got trillions of dollars being spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, actually trillions. And it seems like it�s very ripe and open money that can�t be tracked. It can also develop the spy technology under the guise of just war.
NOAH SHACHTMAN: That�s true, although the Pentagon also has plenty of money to�independent of the war costs, to develop spy technology. And the intelligence agencies, remember, their budgets are largely a black box. We don�t know how much they spend. And so, you know, there�s plenty of places where money for spy technology can be funded out of.
AMY GOODMAN: And this issue of how Hormel used Visible, now In-Q-Tel buying into it?
NOAH SHACHTMAN: Mm-hmm. Well, I mean, I don�t know too much more than the fact that they used it. I don�t have a lot of details. But, you know, the way Visible works is it kind of grabs all the blogs and all the tweets out there, then it sorts for certain key words, it sorts for a sentiment about whether things are positive or negative, and then it also sorts based on which bloggers and which tweeters are really important or not. And you can sort of see over time how a conversation develops. Technology then allows companies or the government to respond directly within a blog or within a Facebook page to those people. So, who knows? The commenter�the next commenter on your blog might be the CIA.
PAM COMMENTARY: U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment -- "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
It seems pretty obvious that "papers" in the modern day would also include electronic documents.
They can try to get around the law, but at some point you have to admit that the Bill of Rights are being violated. Back to my argument that when the Bill of Rights go away, the Constitution is no longer a legally binding document. The historical record is clear on this -- the Constitution never would have been approved without the Bill of Rights. The government will have to be rolled back to post-Revolutionary America, where we either go by documents of that time, or decide on a new system and ratify a new Constitution, probably with extreme safeguards against the abuses of power that come from the Executive branch. The founding fathers knew the kinds of problems that came with kings, and our American experience is proving that even a four-year term for a pseudo-king is too long! Maybe even a pseudo-king can't be trusted at all, even for a day. (Remember that the CIA and all of those Federal agencies come from the Executive branch.) We'll see -- maybe we can just amend the Constitution to further restrict or eliminate the power abusers. You'd think that the Bill of Rights would be enough, but apparently not!
What You Didn't Know About The War (Video) [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: This is drawn from information already in the news, but is a good refresher of some of the more outrageous stories.
AARP's Tradition Of Betrayal [R]
Nonprofit in name only, "AARP is the equivalent of a Fortune 500 company, employing a staff of 2,419 employees, (incurring) $1.16 billion in operating expenses and overseeing annual revenues (well above) $1 billion," around 60% of which comes from so-called Medigap supplemental insurance sales.
According to Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), "Some of these products are total rip offs," so bad, in fact, that AARP was forced to withdraw its Essential Health Insurance Plan and Essential Plus Health Insurance Plan, developed by United Health Group and sold to 44,000 of its members.
PNHP calls AARP "part of the problem and not part of the solution. It is nothing but an insurance (and financial) broker disguised as an advocacy group - and they will never take on the health insurance industry. (It) represent(s) the insurance industry (and its own self-interest) rather than (its members and) the public welfare in discussions about health reform."
As a result, it's largely profit-driven offering 17 types of insurance reaping hundreds of millions annually in royalties. Millions more from selling drugs; other products and services including mutual funds; plus federal subsidies exceeding $80 million annually; and annual membership dues of $16 per year, $43 for three years, or $63 for five x 40 million members.
Congress Considers Revoking Health Insurance Industry�s Exemption from Antitrust Laws [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: For more on this story, we�re joined from Washington, DC by Ryan Grim. He�s the senior congressional correspondent for the Huffington Post.
Welcome, Ryan, to Democracy Now! Can you just lay out what is being proposed here?
RYAN GRIM: Sure. Right now, the insurance industry is one of the only businesses that gets antitrust protection from the federal government. It�s basically them, Major League Baseball and National Football. It�s kind of an accident of history. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could regulate insurance industries, and immediately Congress stepped in and said, �Well, we�re not going to do it.� So, what they�ve been able to do is set up these near monopolies throughout the United States.
The Department of Justice estimates that I think in 94 percent of the country, there is a�what they call a highly concentrated market, which means that it�s in danger of becoming a monopoly or it has already tipped over into a monopoly, and that allows insurers to collude legally with hospitals and with doctors and other providers to set prices. They set high prices that they pay to the hospitals, then they can raise premiums. And without any competition, there�s nothing that anybody can do about it, and it�s perfectly legal.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And why now is the support growing on Capitol Hill to repeal the law?
RYAN GRIM: It�s payback, pure and simple. There�s been a kind of truce that the Democrats have had with the insurance industry: you know, you guys don�t come out here with your Harry and Louise ads and just burn the town down, and we�ll give you, you know, 47 million new customers. But when the insurance industry, about two weeks ago, came out with a report that was very critical of reform, it was seen by the Obama administration and Democrats on the Hill as a declaration of war, so Democrats came back with what is their biggest weapon, probably, to shoot back at the insurance industry.
It�s strange that it took them so long to come up with this, because if choice and competition, the mantra that you always hear from Obama, is really the thing that you want here, then revoking the antitrust exemption�protection is the first thing that you�d want to do, after the public option, of course.
Swine Flu - A9 H1N1 - Why it is Mild (Video) [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: Just a short video, explaining why the swine flu is so mild this year. Sources of the video aren't mentioned, so take the information and do your own research if interested.
Makers Of Vaccine Refuse To Take H1N1 (Video) [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: More on people familiar with the H1N1 vaccine refusing to take it.
�Cashing in the War Dividend�: As Healthcare Reform Limited by Deficit Concerns, Military Spending Continues to Grow [DN]
JO COMERFORD: Absolutely. Good morning, everyone.
So, what you�re saying is true, Amy, and at the top of the show you mentioned healthcare and the cost of college. Well, our nation doesn�t take the same kind of care�it seems our federal budget doesn�t take the same kind of due diligence care with military spending. To date, Americans have paid $915 billion for the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That�s as of September 30th of this year. In the fiscal year 2010 budget, as you mentioned, we will pay $704 billion in military expenditures; $130 billion of that is for the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
AMY GOODMAN: Where do you come by your numbers? And why is so little known about these real costs?
JO COMERFORD: Well, you know, the National Priorities Project, we�ve spent two decades�twenty-five years, actually, this year�looking into the federal government�s budget. And we look right at the primary source documents coming out from the government itself. So our researchers looked at President Obama�s 2010 budget, and we looked at the numbers and added them all up. It�s a job that folks have to do, because these numbers should be known by everyone, as you say.
ANJALI KAMAT: And Jo, can you talk about the states that are in debt, their budgets are in deficit? Can you talk about the numbers? How much would it take for federal spending to give to these states?
JO COMERFORD: Well, actually, one of the figures that we�re looking at now is that the combined total budgets of states, of the forty-eight states projected to be in deficit for 2010, is $689 billion. And when you compare that to our nation�s military budget for 2010�it�s $704 billion�it�s striking that the total state budgets, forty-eight states, is less than our nation�s military expenditures. So, for example, for Massachusetts, we are at a $27 billion budget, $5 billion of which will be in deficit, which will mean huge cuts. For the states, it�s about $160 billion for all forty-eight states to bring them to level funding for 2010.
PAM COMMENTARY: Exactly. I'm sick of arguments that we can't "afford" health care when they're willing to spend so much on wars and political buddies in the defense industry. It's all a matter of priorities, and war is the wrong priority. Of course, I'm still offended by the AMOUNT spent on health care -- the system has to change from preferring the most profitable and least effective, to inexpensive cures and lifestyle changes that actually do work (mostly from alternative medicine).
Internet users paid to spread Israeli propaganda [WRH]
The passionate support for Israel expressed on talkback and comment sections of websites, internet chat forums, blogs, Twitter and Facebook may not be all that it seems.
Israel's foreign ministry is reported to be establishing a special undercover team of paid workers whose job it will be to surf the internet 24 hours a day spreading positive news about Israel.
Internet-savvy Israeli youngsters, mainly recent graduates and demobilized soldiers with language skills, are being recruited to pose as ordinary surfers while they provide the government's line on the Middle East conflict.
"To all intents and purposes the internet is a theater in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we must be active in that theatre, otherwise we will lose," said Ilan Shturman, who is responsible for the project.
The existence of an "internet warfare team" came to light when it was included in this year's foreign ministry budget. About $150,000 has been set aside for the first stage of development, with increased funding expected next year.
PAM COMMENTARY: I've seen obvious propaganda on almost all comments boards and chat rooms. Often it seems to come from some kind of government script, as it's a variation on the same lines over and over across different venues. I saw this happening a lot on the day of 9/11 & shortly after. But propaganda only works when people believe it. As soon as they hear otherwise, it's exposed and the source loses credibility. And the comment boards -- it often has the opposite effect, in that you'll see one or two propagandists, with everyone else attacking them for making such outrageous remarks.
The 9/11 Reichstag Fire [WRH]
Reichstag fire, burning of the Reichstag (parliament) building in Berlin, on the night of Feb. 27, 1933, a key event in the establishment of the Nazi dictatorship and widely believed to have been contrived by the newly formed Nazi government itself to turn public opinion against its opponents and to assume emergency powers ... his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, is supposed to have devised the scheme. ... On Feb. 28, 1933, the day after the fire, Hitler's dictatorship began with the enactment of a decree "for the Protection of the People and the State," which dispensed with all constitutional protection of political, personal, and property rights. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
The Reichstag fire was a disaster for Communists because they received the blame for starting it, but it was a dream come true for Hitler and his cohorts as it allowed them to turn Germany into a dictatorship.
Did the Bush administration try the same trick on September 11, 2001?
The victims of the 9/11 attacks have been disaster for Muslims because 19 Arabs were named as hijackers of the planes, but they've been a dream come true for the PNAC 'think-tank' whose 2000 Statement of Principles stated a "catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor" would advance their policies, i.e. justify wars and "regime changes".
Jordanian Journalist Rana Husseini on �Murder in the Name of Honor: The True Story of One Woman�s Heroic Fight Against an Unbelievable Crime� [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Rana Husseini is among the world�s leading advocates against these so-called honor killings. In �94, she was a young journalist with the Jordan Times and began uncovering dozens of stories of women killed by their own family members because of what the family thought was immoral behavior on the part of women.
Since that, Rana Husseini has continued to investigate and speak out about this form of violence, whether in Jordan or other parts of the world. And she�s just out with a book chronicling some of these stories, called Murder in the Name of Honor: The True Story of One Woman�s Heroic Fight Against an Unbelievable Crime.
Rana Husseini joins us now here in our firehouse studio.
Explain what galvanized you and what we should understand about what�s happening, well, primarily for you in Jordan.
RANA HUSSEINI: Well, of course, it was a series of murders that I covered when I started reporting for the Jordan Times and then going to courts and discovering that killers were getting away with very lenient sentences. So, at that time, no one was really talking about it, but because of the many efforts that were done in Jordan in the late �90s, which I document in the book, we managed to break�as a civil society, we managed to break that taboo forever. There were training for judges, criminal prosecutors, people working in domestic fields, on how to detect these crimes, how to deal with the victims of domestic violence. Now in Jordan, most people know about this issue. It�s no longer taboo. It�s being heavily discussed in the press. There�s a lot of awareness. People�voices rejecting these sort of murders are now increasing, more than when I started. So, basically things are going to the better.
Unfortunately, the number of murders is not decreasing. I think we have nineteen this year. Before I left, there were eighteen, and now, with this murder, there are nineteen. But now, I mean, every time there�s a murder, there�s a big and heavy debate in the press about it. Sometimes government officials come to talk about it. And this, you did not see in the past. So I think all these kind of dialogues and discussions in the press, governments admitting�even the leadership is talking about it, the civil society, the individuals�I think this is something very important, and it�s really helped raise awareness among this issue in Jordan and elsewhere in the world.
ANJALI KAMAT: And Rana, you talk about honor killings as a global phenomenon. It�s not something just in Jordan, and as sometimes is reported in the mainstream media in this country, it�s not something just in the Muslim world. Can you expand on this?
RANA HUSSEINI: Yeah, of course. So-called honor crimes, I�d like to call them, because �honor crime,� when you say that, you�re justifying the murder, so we�re trying even to change the terminology. But there, you know, domestic violence or violence against women is a global phenomenon, as we said. Women get killed all over the world by their abusive partners, by their family members, by their husbands, by their sons, fathers. And there are still reports of murders going on in countries such as Italy, like in Sicily, in South America, Pakistan, Turkey.
So it�s really not restricted to any religion. I have covered cases of Christian women who were killed in Jordan for tarnishing their families� honor, same in other parts of the Middle East. So really it has nothing to do with any religion. I think it�s mostly a tribal�I�m sorry, it�s a traditional practice more than a religious. For example, in India, Sikh families kill their daughters. In Iraq, a woman from a Yazidi faith was stoned to death recently. So, really, it has nothing to do with any religion, as much as it has to do with peoples� wrongful cultural and traditional beliefs.
FEMA Administrator Fugate And Missouri Governor Nixon Discuss Importance Of Faith-Based And Community Organization Partnerships During Disaster Response [R]
�FEMA�s only one part of our nation�s emergency response team,� said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. �Today�s event underscores the importance of the partnerships that this response team depends upon. While the team is based on our relationships with the Governors we serve, such as Governor Nixon, our success is built on strong working relationships with the private sector, non-profits, and faith-based groups, like those we met with today. As we continue to build these partnerships across the country, Governor Nixon and his team should be proud of the team that already exists here in Missouri.�
�I am delighted that Administrator Fugate traveled here to learn more about Missouri�s innovative disaster response partnership and to put some of Missouri�s creative ideas to work to benefit our fellow Americans,� said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. �I thank the religious, volunteer and community leaders for their continuing efforts to generously assist their fellow Missourians and for traveling from across the state to attend today�s meeting and share their valuable ideas about furthering the government and faith-based partnership.�
Missouri Governor Nixon�s faith-based organization disaster initiative is designed to deliver more assistance to disaster survivors more quickly through greater collaboration among faith-based organizations, community groups, local emergency managers and Missouri state disaster response agencies.
Faith-based organizations and other community groups play a critical role in the education and preparedness of families across the country. Just as FEMA�s partners at the federal, state, local, and tribal level, as well as the private sector, bring vital resources to bear during preparedness, response, and recovery efforts, non-profit, community, and faith-based organizations are central to our success as we work to better prepare our nation�s emergency response team.
PAM COMMENTARY: Why would the Feds need preachers to do their jobs? Some in the alternative press feel it's to herd people into bad situations they'd normally resist. It's harder to tell your preacher "no" than some unknown kid in a uniform.
Ten questions about flu vaccines that doctors and health authorities refuse to answer [R]
#3) How can methyl mercury (Thimerosal, a preservative used in flu vaccines) be safe for injecting into the human body when mercury is an extremely toxic heavy metal?
Answer: It isn't safe at all. Methyl mercury is a poison. Along with vaccine adjuvants, it explains why so many people suffer autism or other debilitating neurological side effects after being vaccinated.
#4) Why do reports keep surfacing of children and teens suffering debilitating neurological disorders, brain swelling, seizures and even death following flu vaccines or HPV vaccines?
Answer: Because vaccines are dangerous. The vaccine industry routinely dismisses all such accounts -- no matter how many are reported -- as "coincidence."
#5) Why don't doctors recommend vitamin D for flu protection, especially when vitamin D activates the immune response far better than a vaccine? (http://www.naturalnews.com/027231_Vitamin_D_immune_system_vaccines.html)
Answer: Because vitamin D can't be patented and sold as "medicine." You can make it yourself. If you want more vitamin D, you don't even need a doctor, and doctors tend not to recommend things that put them out of business.
Officers accused of inciting violence
to testify before police ethics panel (Canada) [WRH]
Three undercover officers accused of inciting protesters to attack riot police at the 2007 North American leaders summit in Montebello are being summoned to testify before Quebec's independent police ethics committee.
The decision from the committee released this week overrules an independent review that exonerated the officers. It also comes more than two years after the black-clad trio were first exposed on YouTube.
Dave Coles, the union leader who confronted the men at the time and filed a complaint against the police, said a public inquiry is needed to determine whether they were acting on orders from federal officials.
Mr. Coles said he suspects an inquiry would find there was political involvement, predicting a repeat of the findings of an inquiry into the police pepper spray tactics at Vancouver's 1997 APEC summit. That inquiry led to the resignation of solicitor-general Andy Scott, and concluded that Liberal prime minister Jean Chr�en's office played an �improper role� in instructing police to use force on protesters.
�This is the big question: Who sent them in?� asked Mr. Coles, the president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union. �And don't give me some lame excuse that it was a low-level officer.�
Gardasil Victim Speaks Out After 2 Years (Video) [R]
PAM COMMENTARY: Yet another horror story from the HPV vaccine.
The Yes Men Pull Off Prank Claiming US Chamber of Commerce Had Changed Its Stance on Climate Change [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Chamber of Commerce poser Andy Bichlbaum, a Yes Man. He later took questions from the assembled reporters. As he answered a question about coal, the hoax was exposed in what could be a first in news conference history. An actual representative from the Chamber of Commerce entered the room, confronting his imposter.
HINGO SEMBRA: We do feel that the subsidies for clean coal that have been given by this administration are completely misplaced. And if the same amount were applied to solid, ingenious solar technologies that we already have, we would see a dramatic improvement over the long term and the short term, in fact, and that clean coal is a technology that has not only not been proven, it basically doesn�t exist. And it�s just obvious we have to put our money�it�s a sane business decision�we have to put our money where the proof is.
ERIC WOHLSCHLEGEL: OK, this is�I�m Eric Wohlschlegel. I�m with the US Chamber of Commerce. This is not an official US Chamber of Commerce event. So I don�t know what pretences you�re here.
HINGO SEMBRA: I�m sorry?
ERIC WOHLSCHLEGEL: I know some of you in the press world, but this is a fraudulent press activity and a stunt.
HINGO SEMBRA: Who are you with, sir?
ERIC WOHLSCHLEGEL: So, if you have any questions, you�re welcome to direct them to me. This guy is a fraud. He�s lying. This is, you know, a stunt that I�ve never seen before.
Sweatshop Conditions in US Cities [R]
Workplace violations varied by industry and job type. Abuses were most common in apparel and textile manufacturing, personal and repair services, and private household employment. They were much lower in residential construction, social assistance, education, and home health care, and somewhat frequent at restaurants, retail and grocery stores, and warehouses.
Workers getting a flat weekly wage or cash experienced high violation rates compared to those paid a regular hourly rate or by company check.
Workers in firms with under 100 employees were more at risk than those at larger companies, but not all employers were scofflaws.
Immigrants, women, the foreign born, and others in vulnerable categories were most at risk, but all workers (even the better educated) face potential workplace abuses against which they can get little redress.
Trapped between worlds, some Latina teens consider suicide
In 1997, Francisca's mother, Isabel, left the Dominican Republic for the promise of work in the United States. Desperate to find a better life for her three children -- she left them behind. Francisca, who was 3 at the time, says she was devastated.
"I used to tell her, you always say you're going to come but you never do. You always say you're going to call but you never do," Francisca says. "I used to be very depressed because I thought she wasn't going to come."
Four years later, Isabel went back to get Francisca and her brothers to bring them back with her to the United States. But Francisca says life with her mother in the Bronx wasn't what she thought it would be. Her mother worked three jobs, and Francisca barely saw her.
As she spent time with her new American friends, the distance grew between Francisca and her mother. When her mother wasn't at work, Francisca says they were fighting.
"There are many girls who are well-behaved," Isabel says. "But there are others who are on the wrong path. They like to flirt. They like hanging out. They like to stay out late. These are not the friends I like for my kids."
Francisca says her mother wanted her to stay home, learn how to cook and clean the house. She says she wasn't allowed to hang out with her friends.
Toxic Waters: Regulatory Absence Allows Chemical, Coal and Farm Industries to Pollute US Water Supplies [DN]
CHARLES DUHIGG: This is one of the largest and, for a long time, one of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the United States. And over the last couple of years, we�ve made great advances in how we clean air pollution. So Allegheny, this plant which is called Hatfield�s Ferry, as well as a number of other plants across the nation, have installed these things called scrubbers. And what scrubbers are is it�s basically they spray water and chemicals through the chimneys and take out a lot of the air pollution before it escapes into the sky.
The problem is that when you spray that stuff in there, and sort of the water and the pollution collects at the bottom, you have to do something with it. And what we found is that, increasingly, that pollution and waste is being dumped into nearby rivers and lakes, or it�s being put into large ponds or landfills, where it can also seep through the ground into drinking water supplies. So what the concern is, is that we�re moving pollution perhaps just from the air to the water, and we�re not really solving the problem as robustly as the nation should.
JUAN GONZALEZ: But then, in terms of being able to regulate these plants in terms of water discharges, what has the federal government done?
CHARLES DUHIGG: Well, the federal government�there are solutions out there. There are systems called zero discharge emission systems that would prevent any pollution from making it into the water or the air. But the federal government has not created any rules for power plants, and this has been a big issue. Way back in 2000, the EPA was poised, and in fact had drafted a rule, to specially regulate pollution, water pollution and other types of pollution, from power plants, but the energy industry pushed back pretty significantly. That rule was shelved, and there�s been no rules designed for power plants since then.
Now, Lisa Jackson, who�s the new head of the EPA under President Obama, has said that by the end of this year she will issue new rules on water pollution from power plants and that she�s going to make a determination whether the waste that comes out of power plants should be considered hazardous waste. If it�s considered hazardous waste, a whole new set of rules will be applied to it. But as for right now, there�s no special rules for power plants.
How They Are Turning Off the Lights in America [WRH]
Columbia Falls Aluminum negotiated a contract with Bonneville Power Administration in 2006 for Bonneville to supply electrical power until September 30, 2011. But, responding to lawsuits, the 9th US Circuit Court ruled the contract was invalid because it was incompatible with the Northwest Power Act. Therefore, the combination of the Northwest Power Act and a US Circuit Court were the final villains that caused the shutdown of Columbia Falls Aluminum.
But the real reasons are much more complicated. Why was it not possible for Columbia Falls Aluminum to find sources of electricity other than Bonneville?
We need to look no further than the many environmental groups like the Sierra Club and to America's elected officials who turned their backs on American citizens and in essence themselves, for they too are citizens of this country. These officials bought into the green agenda promoted by the heavily funded environmental groups. Caving to pressure, they passed laws and the environmental groups filed lawsuits that began turning off the lights in America. The dominos stated to fall.
They began stopping nuclear power plants in the 1970's. They locked up much of our coal and oil resources with land laws. They passed tax credits, which forces taxpayers foot the bill for billionaire investors to save taxes by investing in less productive wind and solar energy projects.
PAM COMMENTARY: This article tries to blame environmentalists for the company's problems, but one of the more popular ways to conserve power these days is to produce both power and heat at the same time. It's also the company's responsibility to scout out a good location for its power source. One of the reasons that Niagara Falls, New York is so contaminated is that its hydroelectric plant produced PLENTY of electricity for industry during the 20th Century, when not every location could produce so much. Of course, a lot industry was driven out of town after they engaged in outrageous pollution (think Love Canal) -- their own faults, and there's even more to the Niagara Falls story that we'll flash back to another time.
Postal Service: Stamped Mail Over 13 Ounces Must Be Presented at a Retail Service
SUMMARY: The Postal Service is revising the Mailing Standards of the
United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM[reg]) to
require all mailpieces weighing more than 13 ounces bearing only
postage stamps be presented to a Postal Service employee at a retail
service counter in a Post Office\TM\.
DATES: Effective Date: January 4, 2010.
Angry Farmers Set Fires on the Champs-Elysees [AJ]
Angry French farmers blocked the famous Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris early this morning to call attention to the difficulties their sector is going though. Several other French cities were also affected. In Poitiers (western France), farmers dumped about a thousand cubic meters of soil in the city center. French media reported that several hundreds of tractors converged towards the centers of several French cities from north to south, disrupting or stopping traffic on roads and highways. 52,000 protesters took part in the protests nationwide, according to the FNSEA (F�ration Nationale des Exploitants Agricoles), France�s main farmers� union.
In Paris, about 50 cereal growers set up barriers and dropped bales of hay on the chic Champs-Elysees avenue, next to the posh Fouquet�s restaurant where French President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his election in May 2007. Protesters set hay and tires on fire, completely blocking rush-hour traffic in several streets in the area.
PAM COMMENTARY: Aw, the French are such good protesters!
U.S. asks Switzerland to extradite Polanski; Director fled sentencing for having unlawful sex with 13-year-old in 1977
GENEVA, Switzerland - The United States has asked Switzerland to hand over Roman Polanski to authorities in California, where he could serve up to two years in prison for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl, Swiss authorities said Friday.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement that Washington filed its formal extradition request late Thursday. The 76-year-old filmmaker has been in Swiss custody since his arrest Sept. 26 as he arrived in Zurich to attend a film festival.
The request has been forwarded to Zurich authorities, who will hold a hearing on an unspecified date to decide whether Polanski should be sent back to Los Angeles. If extradition is approved, Polanski may appeal the decision to Switzerland�s top criminal court and, theoretically, to the Federal Supreme Court.
University of Alaska Scientist Rick Steiner Loses Federal Grant Funding After Criticizing Oil Industry [DN]
RICK STEINER: Good morning, Amy and Juan. It�s great to be with you again.
This is a very simple issue, actually. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, as you said, pressured the university administrators to terminate my grant funding, which I�ve had for thirty years here in Alaska. Many people have. And as a result of that, the university, instead of standing up to them and doing the right thing and saying, �No, we don�t do business that way; we have something called academic freedom for our faculty,� they caved and did terminate that federal grant funding. They covered it for one year with other state funds, but that�s irrelevant.
The bottom line issue here is that the University of Alaska really runs on oil money. I�ve been somewhat critical of what I consider to be irresponsible oil company proposals and projects and activities in Alaska, and thus the university punished me for it. And I think the bottom line is, there should be protections within academia for faculty to seek and teach the truth without fear and without favor. That�s what the whole concept of academic freedom is, ultimately. And that failed here.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Rick Steiner, when you say the University of Alaska runs on oil money, could you explain?
RICK STEINER: Sure, yeah. Oil companies�you know, oil is big business here in the last frontier, as many people know, and it�s�you know, there have been hundreds of billions of dollars� worth of economic activity in Alaska over the last thirty years from oil and gas. Eighty-five percent of the state budget here is from oil revenues. And the state gives the university $300 to $320 million a year, so at least 85 percent of that is oil money.
In addition to that, oil companies give a lot of direct donations to the university, and $30, $40, $50 million over the past ten years. Tomorrow morning they�re opening a new science building on the UAA campus here with the name ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building on it, in honor of the tens of millions of dollars that the oil company has given the university.
But beyond that, it�s the sort of political paradigm in Alaska that everything oil and gas is good, and anyone who criticizes oil and gas is either marginalized or punished. And that�s precisely what the university has done here. They know what they�ve done is wrong. And I think their spin machine is working overtime to try to spin this another way.
Joke of the Century: George W. Bush to become motivational speaker [R]
On Monday, the former US president - whose policies inspired millions of Americans to vote Democrat in the 2008 election- will headline at a popular Get Motivated programme, appearing at a seminar about, among other things, "How to master the art of effective leadership".
Mr Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq provoked widespread criticism, and his steering of the US economy drew censure. But he is likely to be paid around $100,000 (�61,000) for a 40-minute speech on his experiences as leader of the free world - so he may yet have the last laugh.
Touted as a "motivational mega-show [that] packs more inspirational firepower than a stick of dynamite," the seminars, aimed at businessmen and women, have become hugely successful in the US and frequently feature high-profile speakers, including other former presidents.
Mr Bush's wife, Laura, has also been booked to speak at three events, meaning between them the couple could earn $500,000 (�305,000) from their speeches.
Mr Bush will speak at an event in Fort Worth, Texas on Monday and another one in San Antonio in December.
The disclosure of Mr Bush's post-presidential role has already inspired jokes at his expense.
Professor Larry Sabato, professor of political science at the University of Virginia, said: "Maybe it will be 'I'm the model of what you shouldn't be'."
Tampa Tribune owner Media General announces third quarter net loss of $62.5-million [WRH]
As the newspaper industry braces for more bad news when circulation figures are released later this month, Tampa Tribune owner Media General has announced a third quarter net loss of $62.5-million.
Company executives attributed the loss to a decline in advertising revenues from last year, when political buys and the Olympics boosted the market. Also, the company took a huge write-down in the value of its assets to the tune of $84-million.
And Media General isn't alone. On Monday, Gannett Co, publisher of USA Today and the nation's largest newspaper chain, announced a 53-percent drop in net income in the third quarter, thanks to a 28-percent year-ago drop in advertising revenue overall and a 37-percent ad revenue drop at flagship USA Today.
Still, company CEO Marshall Morton said the company's Tampa operations -- which include the Tribune, WFLA-Ch. 8, TBO.com and several smaller newspapers -- had stabilized as advertiser spending firms up.
(FLASHBACK) The Gulf War
To Iraq watchers, it didn't add up. Although Saddam initially miscalculated the strength of Western reaction to an invasion of Kuwait, he soon realized his mistake. The US ambassador, April Glaspie, had hinted obliquely that a small foray to snatch two oilfields wouldn't cause too much trouble, but Saddam's capture of Kuwait would not be tolerated. He got the message that he had gone too far. The next day the Baghdad newspaper published a photograph of 10,000 Iraqi soldiers pulling out of Kuwait; and Saddam Husain informed the Security Council that he intended to withdraw his troops and gave the same assurance to King Husain of Jordan. It was too late. Thatcher and Bush were on a war footing. The US and British public were being persuaded. Saddam was on some mad Hitleresque adventure to take the Middle East. So classified satellite pictures, which nobody saw, were cited to prove the point. Except they didn't.
The newsroom of the St.Petersburg Times in Florida is on the seventh floor of one of those unremarkable, functional downtown tower blocks that make up urban America. It's big, white, perfectly air-conditioned and strictly non-smoking. At first glance, it's not the place where you'd expect one of the most sensational stories of recent years to emerge: how America was manipulated by the Bush administration into supporting the Gulf War. But Jean Heller has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize five times and come second twice, so when she asked permission to spend $3,200 on two satellite pictures, the newspaper backed her.
Heller's curiosity had been aroused in September when she read a report of a commercial satellite orbiting and taking pictures over Kuwait. She wanted to see what the only independent pictures would make of the alleged massive build-up of Iraqi troops on the Kuwait/Saudi border. For $1,500 a snap, Soyuz Karta agreed to provide them. But no trace of the 265,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks, that the US officials said were there could be found in the photographs. `They were so clear that at Riyadh airport in Saudi Arabia you could see American planes sitting wingtip to wingtip,' she says, She took the photographs for analysis to two experts. `I looked at them with a colleague of mine and we both said exactly the same thing at exactly the same moment: `Where are they?' recalls Peter Zimmerman, a satellite expert at George Washington University.
`We could see clearly the main road leading right through Kuwait, south to Saudi Arabia, but it was covered with sand banks from the wind and it was clear that no army had moved over it. We could see empty barracks where you would have expected these thousands of troops to be billeted, but they were deserted as well.' Jean Heller wrote her story for the St.Petersburg Times. It opened with the words: `It's time to draft Agatha Christie for duty in the Middle East. Call it, the case of the vanishing enemy.' Looking back now, Heller says: `If the story had appeared in the New York Times or the Washington Post, all hell would have broken loose. But here we are, a newspaper in Florida, the retirement capital of the world, and what are we supposed to know?'
A year later, Powell would admit to getting the numbers wrong. There was no massive build-up. But by then, the war was fought and won and it didn't matter the `proof' of Saddam's blood- thirsty intentions was a fraud. Besides, it was not the only ploy used to convince the reluctant.
PAM COMMENTARY: Not exactly the same paper, but just down the road from the Tribune, and an example of why smaller newspapers matter.
Losing their lifeline - 7,000 a day; As the Senate debates whether to extend unemployment benefits, more than 200,000 jobless Americans are set to see their checks stop in October.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Another day, another 7,000 people run out of unemployment benefits.
One month after the House passed a bill extending unemployment benefits, the issue is still being debated in the Senate.
Democratic leaders in the Senate introduced a bill two weeks ago to lengthen benefits in all states by 14 weeks. Those that live in states with unemployment greater than 8.5% would receive an additional six weeks.
Senate Republicans want to add several amendments, including one that would pay for the extra benefits with stimulus funds rather than by extending a federal unemployment tax.
While leaders in both parties are trying to negotiate a compromise, Senate Democrats Wednesday took a step to bring the bill to the floor as early as the end of next week. If it passes, the Senate legislation must then be reconciled with the House version, which extends benefits by 13 weeks in high-unemployment states.
Possible Witness Comes Forward in Search for Missing VT Student
This story is chilling. This grandmother says she saw a young woman and a young man physically struggling with one another, and the young woman looked a lot like Morgan. The grandmother wants to remain anonymous for her own safety.
She called police Monday night after she saw Harrington�s picture on the news. She says the fight unfolded behind her car parked outside the John Paul Jones Arena the night Metallica took the stage. At about 9:30, the same time police say Morgan Harrington had still been on the arena grounds, the woman pulled into a parking space to pick up her son and grandson from the show. That's when she says a loud noise startled her.
"I heard them being very loud and it sounded like maybe like she got smacked or something. The two people were in like a hand lock she had her hands on his arm and he had his hands on her arm pushing back and forth."
The woman says the girl started walking back toward the arena and the young man headed for the road, but ran back to the girl. She says the girl looked just like Morgan and it appeared the couple knew each other. The woman only had a vague description of the young man she saw.
Criminal Profiler Shares Insights on Morgan Dana Harrington Case
Dr. Schurman-Kauflin said that it is not unusual for sexual predators and murderers to stalk arena parking lots in search of victims. She said they operate in a similar manner to child molesters, who generally cruise areas around schools looking for children to snatch.
"Predators in the wild go where the meal is. The same is true for psychopathic criminals - they go where the 'meal' is," Dr. Schurman-Kauflin said, adding, "Being in an unfamiliar environment, coupled with potential drug/alcohol use, can make victim selection easy. This is what the offender wants."
The location where Morgan's purse was found, a parking area not far from the arena, comes as no surprise to Dr. Schurman-Kauflin.
"If I am going to take a victim, I don�t want anyone to see," she said. "I want to spend the least amount of time in a public place with a victim that doesn�t realize how much danger she has put herself in. Darkness is my friend in this case. It protects me and challenges my victim. This is alluring to potential offenders."
In regard to how Morgan's alleged abduction may have occurred, Dr. Schurman-Kauflin offered the following insight:
"People often make the mistake of thinking that all abductions have to be blitz style attacks where perpetrators suddenly overpower their victims. That is not always how it happens," she said. "A smooth criminal can easily gain the trust of someone who is in unfamiliar territory. All it takes is a good appearance and an ability to chat up anyone. Most psychopaths can pull that off if they have done it before."
The M.O., however, could be different, Dr. Schurman-Kauflin warns, if the victim knows their attacker.
"Such venues are ripe for attacks from familiar offenders. That is, someone who has a secret violent fantasy life may act on an impulse if given the chance," Dr. Schurman-Kauflin said. "The victim would trust someone she knew, even if it was only a casual connection. The victim can mistakenly believe that, just because she recognizes someone, that that person would not do her harm. This is why it is so difficult for a victim in this circumstance: because she will not realize she is a victim until it is too late."
Ex-FBI Translator Claims Spying at DoD [WRH]
fter seven years of forced silence, a government whistleblower is opening up on what she learned while working as a Turkish translator for the FBI in the wake of 9/11.
In sworn testimony to attorneys on Aug. 8, Sibel Edmonds described a Pentagon where key personnel helped pass defense secrets to foreign agents or provided them names of knowledgeable officials who were vulnerable to blackmail or co-option.
And firmly rooted in this espionage program in the 1990s, according to Edmonds� deposition, were two men who, with the election of George W. Bush as president in 2000, found themselves in the Pentagon: Douglas Feith, who would head the Office of Special Plans, and Richard Perle, who would become chairman of the Defense Advisory Board.
"They were 100 percent directly involved," Edmonds told Military.com. "They were not in the Pentagon [in the late 1990s] but they had their people inside the Pentagon." One of those people, she said, was Larry Franklin, an Air Force officer assigned to the Office of Special Plans who, in 2003, passed classified information to representatives of the American Israel Public Affairs Office, or AIPAC. By then Feith was leading the OSP.
Edmonds cautioned that she does not know if these practices are continuing, since she was fired by the FBI in April 2002 after pressing for an investigation into an attempt by a colleague to recruit her for an organization that was itself a target of FBI surveillance.
Judge Rejects Blackwater Attempt to Dismiss Cases Filed by Iraqi Victims [DN]
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, when I got up yesterday morning and saw all these headlines from the Associated Press and other media outlets saying that a federal judge had tossed out all of the lawsuits against Blackwater, I was actually quite stunned. I mean, that would have been a devastating development for the Iraqi victims of the company. But then I actually got the fifty-six-page ruling from Judge T.S. Ellis, who, by the way, is a Reagan appointee, and I read it. And actually, what you see in this document is that it�s a very well-thought-out legal argument by Judge Ellis, where he�s essentially saying to Blackwater, �Your argument that you can�t be sued as a private company under the Alien Tort Statute is false. Your argument that private individuals or companies cannot commit war crimes is false.�
. . . JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, basically, these are five cases brought by Iraqi civilians that were allegedly wounded by Blackwater and the families of Iraqis that were killed by Blackwater. These are very high-stakes cases. Blackwater is fighting passionately to have them thrown out. They�ve made arguments that they, as a company, can�t be sued, that it would violate the rights of the President of United States to make battlefield decisions, and if Blackwater was prosecuted, that would infringe upon the President�s rights. They�ve said that they, as a company, can�t be sued for war crimes, because war crimes can only be committed by state actors or nations. And what we saw here is that this conservative Judge Ellis said to Blackwater, �No, none of that is valid.�
What he did do, though, is he referenced a Supreme Court decision in May, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, which really reversed decades of case law and made it very, very difficult, more difficult, for plaintiffs to have their cases moved to the trial phase. In other words, the bar was set much higher to proceed to trial. So what the judge said to Susan Burke and the Center for Constitutional Rights, the lawyers representing these Iraqis, �You need to re-file your cases with more evidence, and then we�ll take it from there.�
So, while it�s being portrayed by the corporate media as a judge tossing out these cases, that quite clearly is not the case. This was actually a pretty significant defeat for Blackwater and a victory not only for the Iraqis in this case, but also for those lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights that have spent decades trying to apply US laws to crimes committed abroad. Blackwater remains in very, very hot water, not only because of this case, but also the US Justice Department is going to begin its prosecution of five Blackwater operatives for manslaughter charges relating to the Nisoor Square massacre in September of �07. This is very high-stakes stuff, and the corporate media got it basically absolutely wrong.
Judge tosses lawsuits against Blackwater, now Xe
A federal judge on Wednesday tossed out a series of lawsuits filed by alleged Iraqi victims of the contractor once known as Blackwater USA, but is allowing the plaintiffs to refile their claims.
In a 56-page ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria, Va., dismissed claims filed by 64 plaintiffs � including the estates of 19 people who died � who says Blackwater employees engaged in indiscriminate killings and beatings. The lawsuits also claim the company, now known as Xe, "fostered a culture of lawlessness" while it held a State Department contract to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
Ellis is allowing most of the plaintiffs to refile, but only if they will be able to prove that employees engaged in intentional killings and beatings. He said a pattern of recklessness or a culture of lawlessness is not enough to sustain an allegation of war crimes under the federal law that governs the issue, the Alien Tort Statute.
Xe's lawyers had argued that the lawsuits should be dismissed under any circumstances because the allegations involve political questions that cannot be resolved by the judiciary and because private entities cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute. Ellis rejected those arguments.
Sweat Lodge Guru "Abandoned" Participants
Dr. Beverley Bunn, an orthodontist from Texas, was one of the participants at the retreat. She spoke with "The Early Show"'s Harry Smith this morning, telling him that Ray had "abandoned" them, refusing to let anyone leave the sweat lodge while the door was closed.
"If the door was closed, you couldn't leave," she said. "If the door was open, you could leave. But the fifth round, a woman passed out and she was taken out. At the sixth round, they'd said that she passed out, she isn't breathing, but they yelled it out and stuff and by the time that they had actually said that and announced it, the door was closed. No one can leave when the door is closed," Bunn said on The Early Show.
Bunn said that when she finally left the sweat lodge she could see several people lying unconscious on the ground outside. Some had mucus coming out of their noses and mouths; their eyes were rolled back in their heads.
'Sweat lodge' tragedy shines spotlight on ancient ritual
"A reputable retreat company would not be conducting the lodge themselves," Preston said. "In our case we use Native American practitioners because they use a format which has been established for centuries."
Lodge keepers who aren't native have "almost always" been trained by Native Americans, Preston said.
It's a complex process. Apprentices can train for one to two years just to tend the fire outside in which the lava rocks are heated.
"If someone came to us and said, 'It's our own thing,' that would be a huge red flag," he said. "There's some art to it ... (Native Americans) know exactly what they're doing, and they don't kill anyone doing it."
No safeguards have been put in place, before or since the three deaths, according to Johanna Mosca of Sedona Spirit Hiking and Yoga. Mosca, who has done more than 50 sweats since 1994, does not have a lodge on her property.
If her clients want to sweat, she calls local practitioners.
"The precaution we put in is knowing the person who is leading the sweat lodge," she said. "I would allow my 90-year old father to attend a sweat lodge.
"I totally trust the people I know in Sedona who are leading lodges as sacred practices. Things go awry when things are led for profit and people are not conscious. I think this was an isolated incident. I hate it that it makes Sedona people look like irresponsible woo-woo jerks."
Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths: Arvol Looking Horse Speaks
For those who have not heard, three people died after taking part in a sweat lodge ceremony on October 9, conducted by new age self-help guru James Ray at a spa in Sedona, Arizona. Ray claims to help people achieve both spiritual and financial wealth. The two-time Oprah guest led a week long Spiritual Warrior workshop that included a 36-hour fasting vision quest, followed by a breakfast buffet in the morning and 2 hour sauna experience in the afternoon. Those who survived recounted that Ray pushed people to stay inside the blistering space way past their limits.
Between 55 and 65 people were crowded into a homemade 415-square-foot structure covered with plastic tarps, sweating out toxins without proper air circulation. Traditionally, Native Americans have no more than 12 in a purification ceremony, there is ample air circulation, only natural materials like cotton and wool are used as coverings, and people are allowed to drink plenty of water and are encouraged to leave if they feel they need to. Retreat participants � whose ages ranged from 30 to the 60s � paid between $9,000 and $10,000 to attend.
Twenty-one people had to receive medical care at nearby hospitals and a fire station after taking ill, many vomiting, some passing out. A 38-year-old female surfer and a 40-year-old father of three were pronounced dead soon after and a third female went into a coma and died earlier this week. The deaths are being investigated as homicides but no arrests have been made so far.
The Native American community has been deeply saddened by these events, in particular, as this Western appropriation of their sacred ceremony has cast a bad light on this time-worn ritual. Arvol Looking Horse, the 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, has published an article with his thoughts on the tragedy. His article was published prior to the third death.
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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com