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Below are one paragraph excerpts of important news stories which you may have missed. Links are provided to the original sources. If any link fails to function, click here. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Fred Burks for the WantToKnow.info Team
Former language interpreter for Presidents Bush and Clinton
Experts blame flooding on faulty levees
September 21, 2005, MSNBC/Washington Post
Louisiana's top hurricane experts have rejected the official explanations for the floodwall collapses that inundated much of New Orleans, concluding that Hurricane Katrina's storm surges were much smaller than authorities have suggested and that the city's flood-protection system should have kept most of the city dry. With the help of complex computer models and stark visual evidence, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina's surges did not come close to overtopping those barriers. That would make faulty design, inadequate construction or some combination of the two the likely cause of the breaching of the floodwalls. Ivor van Heerden, the Hurricane Center's deputy director, said the real scandal of Katrina is the "catastrophic structural failure" of barriers that should have handled the hurricane with relative ease. "We are absolutely convinced that those floodwalls were never overtopped," said van Heerden. On a tour Tuesday, researchers...showed a "debris line" that indicates the top height of Katrina's waves was at least four feet below the crest of Lake Pontchartrain's levees. They contended that the pattern of destruction behind the breaches was consistent with a localized "pressure burst," rather than widespread overtopping. Former representative Bob Livingston, (R-La.)...noted that the earthen levees along Lake Pontchartrain had all held, while concrete floodwalls had failed. He was especially concerned about the 17th Street barrier, saying it "shouldn't have broken." If Katrina did not exceed the design capacity of the New Orleans levees, the federal government may bear ultimate responsibility for this disaster.
Bush Has Declared Katrina-Related Emergencies in 40 States, District of Columbia
September 15, 2005, ABC
The dire conditions created by Hurricane Katrina may be confined to the Gulf Coast, but on paper the emergency is all over the country. President Bush has declared that Katrina-related emergencies exist in 40 states and the District of Columbia. Some, such as California, Massachusetts and North Dakota, are far removed from Katrina's wrath. Apparently it does not take much to qualify as an emergency.
New FEMA boss is 'Duct Tape Man'
September 12, 2005, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann blog
In another gesture symbolizing the continued confusion of the federal response, the man President Bush immediately named to succeed “Brownie,” proves to have been the same FEMA official who, two-and-a-half years ago, suggested that Americans stock up on duct tape to protect against a biological or chemical terrorist attack. David Paulison, then the government's Fire Administrator, joined with the then-head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, on February 10th, 2003, to say that duct tape and plastic sheeting should be part of any home's "survival kit" in preparation for a terrorist attack. That set off a run on duct tape at stores, and widespread criticism of the administration. It might have been the first time after 9/11 that a large number of Americans wondered if the government really knew what it was talking about when it came to disaster preparedness. And the man behind that politically explosive proposal, has just been named to succeed the man who had been the face of the politically explosive response to Hurricane Katrina.
Military judge bars release of Abu Ghraib photos
September 20, 2005, ABC/Reuters
A day before the trial of Lynndie England, the U.S. soldier who held an Iraqi prisoner on a leash at Abu Ghraib prison, a military judge on Tuesday barred the release of photos which have already been published around the world. England is pictured in some of the most notorious Abu Ghraib photographs. In one image, she points and jeers at the genitals of a naked prisoner; in another, she poses with the father of her baby, Charles Graner, in front of a pyramid of naked Iraqi prisoners. Some photos have not been made public. England is the last of a series of low-level American soldiers convicted of abuses at Abu Ghraib, once a notorious site of torture under Saddam Hussein. Six have pleaded guilty and two others, including Graner, have been convicted at military trial.
Congressman Says Pentagon Employee Was Ordered to Destroy Data Identifying Atta As a Terrorist
September 15, 2005, ABC/Associated Press
A Pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday. The employee is prepared to testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was expected to identify the person who ordered him to destroy the large volume of documents, said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa. Weldon declined to identify the employee, citing confidentiality matters. Weldon described the documents as "2.5 terabytes" as much as one-fourth of all the printed materials in the Library of Congress, he added.
Panel rejects assertion US knew of Atta before Sept. 11
September 15, 2005, Boston Globe/Associated Press
Former members of the Sept. 11 commission on Wednesday dismissed assertions that a Pentagon intelligence unit identified lead hijacker Mohamed Atta as an member of al-Qaida long before the 2001 attacks. Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., had accused the commission of ignoring intelligence about Atta while it investigated the attacks. The commission’s former chairman, Thomas Kean, said there was no evidence anyone in the government knew about Atta before Sept. 11, 2001. Two military officers, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, claimed a classified military intelligence unit, known as “Able Danger,” identified Atta before the attacks. Shaffer has said three other hijackers were identified, too. Kean said the recollections of the intelligence officers cannot be verified by any document. “Bluntly, it just didn’t happen and that’s the conclusion of all 10 of us,” said a former commissioner, ex-Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash. Weldon’s spokesman, John Tomaszewski, said no commissioners have met with anyone from Able Danger “yet they choose to speak with some form of certainty without firsthand knowledge.”
Note: If you read the New York Times article from Aug. 11th, commission officials clearly stated that they were warned by a uniformed military officer 10 days before issuing the commission's final report that the account would be incomplete without reference Able Danger and Atta, as confirmed by the commission's own chief spokesperson. Is this more recent article a rewriting of the facts?
Military Bars 9/11 Intel Testimony
September 21, 2005, CBS/Associated Press
The Department of Defense forbade a military intelligence officer to testify Wednesday about a secret military unit that the officer says identified four Sept. 11 hijackers as terrorists more than a year before the attacks, according to the man's attorney. In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, attorney Mark Zaid, who represents Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said the Pentagon also refused to permit testimony there by a defense contractor that he also represents. The Judiciary Committee was hearing testimony about the work of a classified unit code named "Able Danger." Zaid, appearing on behalf of Shaffer and contractor John Smith [stated] that Able Danger, using data mining techniques, identified four of the terrorists who struck on Sept. 11, 2001 - including mastermind Mohamed Atta. "At least one chart, and possibly more, featured a photograph of Mohamed Atta," Zaid said. Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Defense Department spokesman, said Wednesday that open testimony would not be appropriate. "There's nothing more to say than that," Swiergosz said. "It's not possible to discuss the Able Danger program because there are security concerns." Zaid also charged that records associated with the unit were destroyed during 2000 and March 2001, and copies were destroyed in spring 2004. Former members of the Sept. 11 commission have dismissed the "Able Danger" assertions.
F.A.A. Alerted on Qaeda in '98, 9/11 Panel Said
September 14, 2005, New York Times
American aviation officials were warned as early as 1998 that Al Qaeda could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark," according to previously secret portions of a report prepared last year by the Sept. 11 commission. The officials also realized months before the Sept. 11 attacks that two of the three airports used in the hijackings had suffered repeated security lapses. Federal Aviation Administration officials were also warned in 2001 in a report prepared for the agency that airport screeners' ability to detect possible weapons had "declined significantly" in recent years, but little was done to remedy the problem. The White House and many members of the commission...have been battling for more than a year over the release of the commission's report on aviation failures. A footnote that was originally deleted from the report showed that a quarter of the security screeners used in 2001 by Argenbright Security for United Airlines flights at Dulles Airport had not completed required criminal background checks. Much of the material now restored in the public version of the commission's report centered on the warnings the F.A.A. received about the threat of hijackings, including 52 intelligence documents in the months before the Sept. 11 attacks that mentioned Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. Richard Ben-Veniste, a former member of the Sept. 11 commission, said the release of the material more than a year after it was completed underscored the over-classification of federal material. "It's outrageous that it has taken the administration a year since this monograph was submitted for it to be released," he said.
Activist's expensive exit goes to appeal
September 17, 2005, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia's leading newspaper)
An Australian lawyer for Scott Parkin says the American peace activist will have to wait months to learn whether he will be made to pay more than $11,000 for his deportation. Mr Parkin flew out of Melbourne on Thursday after his visa was cancelled on national security grounds last weekend. Mr Parkin told said in Los Angeles on his return that his five-day stay at the Melbourne Custody Centre would cost him another $777. "They said if I ever decided to return to Australia I'd have to pay them back." He was banned from entering Australia for three years, and the visa in his passport was stamped with "Not for further travel". Mr Parkin's removal from Australia seemed to be based only on something he had supposedly said, although he had not been told what that was. "If you can be kicked out of the country for saying words, where the words are not a criminal offence … then you have got a problem with democracy," [Parkin's lawyer] Mr Burnside said.
Note: In a second article, the Herald states: Mr Parkin is a 36-year-old Texas-based teacher and activist with the Houston Global Awareness Collective (HGAC), which aims to end the US-led war in Iraq. The HGAC vows to "increase the use of non-violent, direct action and popular education as tools for social change." Since February 2003, the HGAC has targeted US-based multinational company Halliburton, which is a prime recipient of US government contracts in Iraq and formerly had US Vice President Dick Cheney as its chief executive officer. Mr Parkin has described Halliburton as a "poster child of war profiteering." On August 31, he took part in a non-violent protest outside US corporation Halliburton's Sydney headquarters. For more, see this article.
Magnetic energy? Perhaps
September 7, 2005, San Francisco Chronicle
Goldes, 73, is chief executive of a small company called Magnetic Power Inc., which has spent years researching ways to, yes, generate power using magnets. Within a few months, he says, he might just have a breakthrough to report that could revolutionize where people get fuel. "All we know is that we're seeing more energy output than input. Does Goldes realize what's he's saying -- that he's perhaps discovered a clean, inexhaustible energy source? "That's exactly what it appears to be," he answered. What Goldes believes he's done is produce power from what physicists call zero-point energy. In simple terms, zero-point energy results from the infinitesimal motion of molecules even when seemingly at rest. Normally, I dismiss such pie-in-the-sky pronouncements. But Goldes isn't so easy to shrug off. That's because he's also come up with technology called the UltraConductor. The research was funded in part by the Department of Defense, which invested $600,000 in the project. A handful of other companies worldwide are believed also to be pursuing zero-point energy via magnetic systems. One of them, InterStellar Technologies, is run by a former scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. According to Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, the Pentagon and at least two large aerospace companies are actively researching zero-point energy as a means of propulsion.
NHS sues drug firms 'for £100m'
June 23, 2004, BBC
The NHS is seeking at least £100m compensation from two drug companies who it alleges "fixed" the price of an ulcer drug in the late 1990s. The allegations relate to the sale and supply of ranitidine between 1997 and 2000. The NHS's Counter Fraud Service [CFS]...is currently investigating similar concerns in regard to around 30 other drugs. As in any case where a drug comes off patent, the NHS expected its price to fall, but this did not happen with ranitidine. The investigation into why this failed to happen has led to the High Court action against Generics, a subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical company Merck, and the British arm of the Indian company Ranbaxy. The CFS estimates that the NHS could have lost out on at least £100m, and possibly as much as £110m. It has already said it will sue seven companies over the sale of common medicines including warfarin and penicillin-based drugs.
Emotional Rather blasts 'new journalism order'
September 19, 2005, ABC
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said Monday that there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career. Rather famously tangled with President Nixon and his aides during the Watergate years while Rather was a hard-charging White House correspondent. He said that in the intervening years, politicians "of every persuasion" had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a "new journalism order." He said this pressure — along with the "dumbed-down, tarted-up" coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics — has taken its toll on the news business. "All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms," Rather said.
Controllers' tale of Flight 11
May 11, 2005, Christian Science Monitor
Flight 11's transponder had stopped working. It was no longer sending a radar pulse. The plane's altitude also became a matter of guesswork for controllers, though the Boeing 767 was still visible on radar. Two F-15 jets were reportedly dispatched from Otis Air Force Base. Just before or after the military planes got off the ground, however, the controllers report they lost site of Flight 11's radar signal over Manhattan. The controller who had handled the plane from the beginning of the ordeal was stunned. A few minutes later, the Nashua controllers heard reports that a plane had crashed into a building.
Note: According to the official story, once the transponders were turned off in the four 9/11 airplanes, they could no longer be tracked. As the above article and air traffic controllers will tell you, though the altitude is no longer reported, planes are still visible on radar once the transponder is off. The plane that flew into the Pentagon was known to be hijacked for over half an hour before it struck. Military radar also can rapidly track incoming missiles that obviously don't send out transponder signals. So how is it possible that the military headquarters of the entire United States was hit, when radar must have tracked this plane on it's way there?
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