cbsnews.com
May 20, 2011

The International Monetary Fund is an organization with hazy sexual norms, leading to an unusually high number of intra-office romances and endemic sexual harassment and misconduct, according to a New York Times article Thursday based on documents and anecdotal reports.

The indictment of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as the IMF’s chief Wednesday less than a week after being charged with the sexual assault of a chambermaid at a New York hotel, has put a renewed spotlight on the culture at the Washington, D.C.-based finance and development organization, where, the Times reports, “employees are regularly pressed together for weeks on end during overseas ‘missions'” fostering “a climate in which romances often flourish — and lines are sometimes crossed.”

Strauss-Kahn has faced charges of sexual misconduct in the past — both in the U.S. and abroad. In 2008 the IMF found that he had not broken any rules by sleeping with a female employee. A candidate to succeed Strauss-Kahn has run into resistance because of a sexual relationship with a subordinate.

The IMF itself seemed to condone such relationships, stating in its internal rules that “intimate personal relationships between supervisors and subordinates do not, in themselves, constitute harassment,” a rule at variance from typical corporate or organizational policy in the U.S.

One former IMF employee described the atmosphere as being “like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,'” although the article also points to cultural differences as a source of potential misunderstandings about appropriate conduct.

washingtonexaminer.com
Brian Hughes
May 9, 2011

With the death of Osama bin Laden firmly cementing President Obama’s commander-in-chief credentials, the White House is eager to parlay the triumph into leverage for widespread defense cuts that have been met with stiff resistance from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

At a minimum, the raid on bin Laden’s compound fortifies the president’s pledge to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July, and softens Republican backlash against scaling back an increasingly unpopular war.

Yet, those calling for a fundamental shift in how the United States funds the military — arguing that the current model reflects an outdated, massive boots-on-the-ground approach — say this can be a turning point for a push that has long been deemed political suicide.

“The reason Democrats had trouble in the past is they were perceived as weak on defense,” said Lawrence Korb, assistant defense secretary under President Ronald Reagan. “Getting rid of public enemy No. 1 dispels that. Obama can say we’re going to do this and has the credibility to back it up.”

On the heels of widespread cuts instituted by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama is proposing $400 billion more in defense spending reductions over the next 12 years. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes, the Pentagon budget has skyrocketed from just over $300 billion annually to about $700 billion this year.

However, some predict that even a political victory of last week’s magnitude will carry little weight with Republicans, who see little advantage in reducing the military budget and defense projects in their home districts.

“While this gives him some credibility on defense issues, it’s hard to see how it’s going to make a major difference,” said University of Wisconsin political science professor Kenneth Mayer. “It’s not like Obama can walk into [House Speaker John] Boehner’s office and say, ‘We killed Osama bin Laden, you can trust me.’ That’s not how it works.”

And as Obama’s predecessors have learned, political capital tends to dissipate quickly.

After Sept. 11, President George W. Bush’s job approval soared to levels never before achieved in modern politics. Yet Bush had difficulty persuading a Republican-controlled Congress to pass many of his political priorities, including an overhaul of Social Security.

Others say that, if anything, bin Laden’s death will be used to resist short-term defense cuts.

“I’m not so sure the president will use this to push for those cuts,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a defense policy expert at the Brookings Institution. “I think he’s going to be a little hawkish and try to prevent people from rushing for the exits.”

Though many Republicans oppose Obama’s proposed cuts in defense spending, more of those on the right are embracing some form of defense cuts as a part of a broader plan to reduce the budget deficit.

“The president is on a high rise as he spikes the ball and pumps his fist,” said Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information. “He could get what he wants.”

Yet, Wheeler said the president’s proposal left much to be desired, noting that his proposed cuts are only about a third of what his own deficit commission recommended.

“If you propose nothing, it’s not hard to achieve,” he said, calling the Obama cuts “completely pathetic.”

NaturalNews.com
Ethan A. Huff
October 21, 2010

Advocates of fluoridated water insist that the chemical additive is good for teeth, but actual science routinely shows otherwise, including a new study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association confirming fluoride as a toxic substance that actually destroys teeth, particularly those of developing young children and babies.

When people are exposed to excessive levels of fluoride through sources like drinking water, foods and beverages and even swallowed toothpaste, it often results in a condition known as dental fluorosis. The internal uptake offluoride into teeth over time causes their enamel to become mottled and discolored, the end result being damaged teeth that have essentially rotted from the inside out.

Dr. Steven Levy, D.D.S., and his team found during their study that “fluoride intakes during each of the first four years (of a child’s life) were individually significantly related to fluorosis on maxillary central incisors, with the first year more important.” They went on to warn that “infant formulas reconstituted with higher fluoride water can provide 100 to 200 times more fluoride than breast milk, or cow’s milk.”

In other words, young children have the highest risk of severe tooth damage from fluoride, especially those that are six months of age or younger, a time during which children’s blood-brain barriers have not fully formed. Even low ingestion levels cause the direct depositing of fluoride into the teeth, brain and other bodily tissues and organs which, besides causing fluorosis, also causes disorders of the brain and nervous system, kidneys and bones.

And the American Dental Association (ADA) has known that fluoride exposure causes dental fluorosis since at least 2006, but the group has done nothing to warn the 200 million Americans that live in communities with fluoridated water to avoid its use in babies and infants. Many dentists still recommend that children and adults not only drink fluoridated water, but even advise parents to add fluoride drops to their children’s drinking water if the family lives in unfluoridated areas or drinks private well water.

Fluoride causes serious health problems

In 2006, a study published in The Lancet identified fluoride as “an emerging neurotoxic substance” that causes severe brain damage. The National Research Council (NRC) wrote that “it is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain and the body by direct and indirect means.”

About a month later, another study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found a definitive link between fluoride intake and reduce IQ levels, indicating once again that fluoride intake causes cognitive damage.

At Harvard University, researchers identified a link between fluoride and bone cancer. Published 14 years after it began, the study found that the highest rates of osteosarcoma, a fatal form of bone cancer, were occurring most in populations drinking fluoridated water. Thefindings confirmed those of a prior government study back in 1990 that involved fluoride-treated rats.

Kidney disease is another hallmark of fluoride poisoning. Multiple animal studies have found that fluoride levels as low as 1 part per million (ppm) — which is the amount added to most fluoridated water systems — cause kidney damage. And a Chinese study found that children exposed to slightly higher fluoride levels had biological markers in their bloodindicative of kidney damage.

The NRC has also found that fluoride impairs proper thyroid function and debilitates the endocrine system. Up until the 1970s, fluoride was used in Europe as a thyroid-suppressing medication because it lowers thyroid function. Many experts believe that widespread hypothyroidism today is a result of overexposure to fluoride.

Since fluoride is present in most municipal water supplies in North America, it is absurd to even suggest that parents avoid giving it to their young children. How are parents supposed to avoid it unless they install a whole-house reverse osmosis water filtration system? And even if families install such a system, fluoride is found in all sorts of food and beverages, not to mention that it is absorbed through the skin every time people wash their hands with or take a shower in fluoridated water. Perhaps these are some of the reasons why the ADAhas said nothing about the issue despite the findings.

There simply is no legitimate reason to fluoridate water. Doing so forcibly medicates an entire population with a carcinogenic, chemical drug. There really is no effective way to avoid it entirely, and nobody really knows how much is ingested or absorbed on a daily basis because exposure is too widespread to calculate. But political pressure and bad science have continued to justify water fluoridation in most major cities, despite growing mountains of evidence showing its dangers.

Ending water fluoridation is a difficult task, but concerted efforts by citizens, local authorities, and even dentists, have resulted in some significant victories. To learn more about fluoride, check out the Fluoride Action Network (FAN):
http://www.fluoridealert.org

Sources for this story include:

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-rele…

http://jada.ada.org/cgi/content/abs…

http://www.fluoridealert.org/health…

Is Free Thinking A Mental Illness?

Posted: October 16, 2010 in Health, Science

Off the Grid News
Oct 8th, 2010

Is nonconformity and freethinking a mental illness?  According to the newest addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it certainly is.  The manual identifies a new mental illness called “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD.  Defined as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.

The DSM-IV is the manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental illnesses and, with each new edition, there are scores of new mental illnesses.  Are we becoming sicker?  Is it getting harder to be mentally healthy?  Authors of the DSM-IV say that it’s because they’re better able to identify these illnesses today.  Critics charge that it’s because they have too much time on their hands.

New mental illnesses identified by the DSM-IV include arrogance, narcissism, above-average creativity, cynicism, and antisocial behavior.  In the past, these were called “personality traits,” but now they’re diseases.

And there are treatments available.

All of this is a symptom of our over-diagnosing and overmedicating culture.  In the last 50 years, the DSM-IV has gone from 130 to 357 mental illnesses.  A majority of these illnesses afflict children.  Although the manual is an important diagnostic tool for the psychiatric industry, it has also been responsible for social changes.  The rise in ADD, bipolar disorder, and depression in children has been largely because of the manual’s identifying certain behaviors as symptoms.  A Washington Post article observed that, if Mozart were born today, he would be diagnosed with ADD and “medicated into barren normality.”

According to the DSM-IV, the diagnosis guidelines for identifying oppositional defiant disorder are for children, but adults can just as easily suffer from the disease.  This should give any freethinking American reason for worry.

The Soviet Union used new “mental illnesses” for political repression.  People who didn’t accept the beliefs of the Communist Party developed a new type of schizophrenia.  They suffered from the delusion of believing communism was wrong.  They were isolated, forcefully medicated, and put through repressive “therapy” to bring them back to sanity.

When the last edition of the DSM-IV was published, identifying the symptoms of various mental illnesses in children, there was a jump in the diagnosis and medication of children.  Some states have laws that allow protective agencies to forcibly medicate, and even make it a punishable crime to withhold medication.  This paints a chilling picture for those of us who are nonconformists.

Although the authors of the manual claim no ulterior motives but simply better diagnostic practices, the labeling of freethinking and nonconformity as mental illnesses has a lot of potential for abuse.  It can easily become a weapon in the arsenal of a repressive state.

 

Global Research
Patrick Martin
October 13, 2010

In its main editorial Sunday, the New York Times, the major voice of what passes for liberalism in America, openly defends the right of the US government to assassinate anyone it pleases. The only restriction the Times suggests is that the president should be required to have his selection of murder victims rubber-stamped by a secret court like the one that now approves 99.99 percent of all electronic eavesdropping requests.

The apologia for killing begins with a blatant lie about the US assassination program using missiles fired from CIA-operated drone aircraft flying along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The Times claims, citing official US government sources: “The drone program has been effective, killing more than 400 Al Qaeda militants this year alone, according to American officials, but fewer than 10 noncombatants.”

Actually, Pakistani government officials estimated the number of civilians killed by drone attacks in 2009 alone at more than 700, with an even higher figure this year, as the Obama administration has rained missiles and bombs on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.(See “US drone missiles slaughtered 700 Pakistani civilians in 2009” .)

A report in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn concluded, “For each Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities.”

The Times editors cannot be unaware of these well-established figures, since their own journalists have reported a civilian death toll from US missile strikes in Pakistan of some 500 by April 2009, and 100 to 500 more through April 2010. They lie shamelessly and deliberately in order to conceal the significance of their endorsement of such widespread killing.

The editorial claims that US drone missile attacks are legal under international law as self-defense, but this is flatly rejected by human rights groups and legal experts, except those who work as paid apologists for the CIA and Pentagon. The United States is not at war with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, but US missiles have struck the territory of all these countries and annihilated their citizens.

In a 29-page report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Philip Alston, rejected the doctrine of “preemptive self-defense” employed by the Bush and Obama administrations, as well as the state of Israel, and declared that a targeted killing outside actual warfare “is almost never likely to be legal.”

In an accompanying statement, Alston pointed out the consequences if such a doctrine were to become universal. He declared: “If invoked by other states, in pursuit of those they deem to be terrorists and to have attacked them, it would cause chaos.”

The Times concedes, “it is not within the power of a commander in chief to simply declare anyone anywhere a combatant and kill them, without the slightest advance independent oversight.” The editorial argues that such arbitrary killings can be prevented through procedural safeguards of a purely cosmetic character.

These would include the Obama administration making public “its standards for putting people on terrorist or assassination lists,” limiting targets to “only people who are actively planning or participating in terror, or who are leaders of Al Qaeda or the Taliban”; capturing instead of killing, where possible; and “oversight outside the administration,” i.e., the aforementioned judicial review by a body like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Yes, if only the Nazis had followed “proper procedures.”

In the mealymouthed language that has become typical of the Times as it provides “liberal” justifications for the crimes of US imperialism, the editors insist that in the case of US citizens, “the government needs to employ some due process before depriving someone of life,” adding that, “If practical, the United States should get permission from a foreign government before carrying out an attack on its soil.”

The Times editorial admits that in the much-publicized case of Anwar al-Awlaki, the US-born Muslim cleric now living in Yemen, the Obama administration has acted in a manner diametrically opposed to the procedure the newspaper claims to favor. Awlaki has been targeted for assassination, based on criteria that are secret and unreviewable. The Justice Department has gone to court to assert the “state secrets” privilege to quash a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of Awlaki’s father, seeking to compel the government to justify or rescind its death sentence.

No evidence has been presented that Awlaki, a longtime publicist for Islamic fundamentalism, has engaged in actual terrorist actions. And as the Timesitself admits, “If the United States starts killing every Islamic radical who has called for jihad, there will be no end to the violence.” But the editors are nonetheless willing to place their confidence in the Obama administration, even to the point of giving it powers of life and death over citizens of the US and other countries alike.

The Times editorial reeks of cynicism. It advances arguments that convince no one, and are not intended to convince, only to provide a screen of words for a policy of imperialist barbarism and reaction. It is one more demonstration that, within the US financial aristocracy, there is no constituency whatsoever for the defense of democratic rights.

The open reactionaries like the Wall Street Journal and Fox News display their bloodlust unashamedly. The “liberals” like the Times prefer a dose of hypocritical moralizing and legalistic quibbling. The consequences for humanity are the same.