March 18, 2005

Mercury Pollution and Autism

Bush Administration Rolls Over Again

[Blogger Note: This story from Reuters talks about Texas, but Mercury pollution is a big problem in SC too. Many of our rivers and lakes are polluted and we are cautioned not to eat the fish for fear of mercury. This is an issue that unites Progressives and Conservatives and we should be talking about it]

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Mercury released primarily from coal-fired power plants may be contributing to an increase in the number of cases of autism, a Texas researcher said on Wednesday.

A study to be published on Thursday in the journal "Health and Place" found that autism, a developmental disorder marked by communication and social interaction problems, increased in Texas counties as mercury emissions rose, said Claudia Miller, a family and community medicine professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

"The main finding is that for every thousand pounds of environmentally released mercury, we saw a 17 percent increase in autism rates," she said in an interview.

About 48 tons of mercury are released into the air annually in the United States from hundreds of coal-burning plants.

Some experts estimate there are 1.5 million people in the United States with autism, most of them children, and say the number of cases has risen rapidly in recent years.

The Bush administration this week ordered power plants to cut mercury pollution by 50 percent within 15 years, but environmentalists said the action fell short of what was needed. They have called for a 90 percent cut in mercury emissions.

Full Story

March 15, 2005

Bush Administration and Media Fraud

A Propaganda Slush Fund Courtesy of U.S. Taxpayers

“State-run media” is a phrase normally reserved for regimes such as North Korea that manipulate and censor all public information. Media in the United States were thought to be free of such autocratic control, but recent maneuvers by the Bush administration should make all of us stand up and take notice.

After recent revelations that several “journalists” have been working as propagandists on the White House payroll, more are beginning to wonder how free America’s press actually is.

Each passing week adds a new chapter to the story line. In early January, the $240,000 Armstrong Williams took from the Department of Education headlined national news. This single event sparked public outrage and compelled 20,000 people to join Free Press in demanding that Federal Communication Commission Chairman Michael Powell launch a probe of Williams. Since then two other journalists have admitted being on the take: Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus.

Next came pseudonymous “Jeff Gannon” with his backdoor pass to the White House. Now we’re learning the White House has set up a Social Security “war room” — using taxpayer funds to aggressively lobby the press on behalf of Bush’s privatization plan.

In 2004 alone, the Bush administration spent more than $88 million in taxpayer money on PR contracts, drawn from a slush fund that's amassed more than $250 million in tax dollars over the past four years. The three public relations firms that received the most in federal contracts from this fund are Ketchum Incorporated ($97 million) Matthews Media Group ($52 million) and Fleishman Hillard ($41 million). It's unclear exactly how much public largesse went to create "covert propaganda;" many of these companies are refusing to divulge whether they used millions in taxpayer dollars to deploy faux journalists to flack for the policies favored by the president and his cronies.

The White House has paid people to pose as television reporters praising the benefits of the new Medicare law, which the administration had proffered midst the Bush campaign to win votes from elderly Americans with promises of lowering the costs of their prescription medicines.

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