Dangerous people

Remember last week when Hillary Clinton’s car was attacked in Egypt?

It seems to be because Glenn Beck pparently told his minions that the family of Clinton’s longtime aide, Huma Abedin, was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the U.S. backed the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian elections. The lie was promptly picked up by wingnut websites and amplified by Crazy Michele Bachmann (who is, after all, on the House Intelligence committee), and thus it traveled around the globe.

Bachmann and her colleagues — Reps.Trent Franks (Ariz.)Louie Gohmert (Tex.),Thomas J. Rooney (Fla.) and Lynn A. Westmoreland (Ga.) — wrote to the inspectors general of the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State asking that they investigate the U.S. government’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The letter to the State Department mentioned Abedin, citing a Web site maintained by the Center for Security Policy that calls her one of “six Islamist sympathizers” who have “achieved positions within or advisory roles serving Team Obama.”

Even Ed Rollins is pissed at her. Even John McCain is.

These people are dangerous. They should be censured.

UPDATE: Bachmann insists she’s right.

Corn crop estimated drop ‘by the hour’

Now remember, many of our foods are dependent on corn. The bulk of corn grown in the U.S. is consumed by livestock, poultry, and fish production. Approximately 12% of the U.S. corn crop ends up in foods that are either consumed directly or indirectly, and has many industrial uses including ethanol. So this is not good news at all – and will most likely translate into much higher food costs.

Good thing the administration has taken such bold moves to prevent further global warming, huh?

CHICAGO, July 17 (Reuters) – U.S. corn production has shrunk 7 percent versus the government’s downgraded estimate a week ago, a Reuters poll found on Tuesday, with a worsening drought likely to cause more damage before the month is out.

As the worst drought since 1956 begins to expand to the northern and western Midwest, areas that had previously been spared, analysts are slashing corn yield estimates by the hour. Some analysts are also starting to cut their forecasts on the number of acres that will be harvested as farmers opt to plough under their fields to claim insurance.

What began the season as a potentially record corn crop as farmers planted the biggest area since 1937, may now be the smallest in at least five years. Soybeans, which enter their key pod-setting phase later then corn, are increasingly at risk. The poll of 13 analysts pegged the average estimated corn yield at 137.2 bushels per acre, down 6 percent from USDA’s current forecast of 146 bushels.

The USDA dropped its yield estimate by an unprecedented 20 bushels per acre in its report on July 11. Corn production was pegged at 12.077 billion bushels, the smallest in 5 years, down 6.9 percent from USDA’s outlook. “We’re losing more yield with the additional stress now in the northern areas which up until now had been pretty good,” said Shawn McCambridge, analyst for Jefferies Bache.

Every move you make

This is a pretty important story, yet it’s not getting much play in the corporate media. You’d think that whistleblower doctors would be heroes, not scapegoats:

AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times has revealed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted an extensive spying campaign against its own scientists. The spying began after the scientists warned the FDA had faultily approved medical imaging devices for colonoscopies and mammograms that endangered patients with high levels of radiation. The covert spying operation led the agency to monitor the scientists’ computers at work and at home, copying emails, thumb drives, and even monitoring individual messages, line by line, as they were being typed in real time. Messages monitored included emails to journalists, to members of Congress and even to President Obama himself. The agency also created an enemies list.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has urged U.S. law enforcement officials to investigate whether the FDA violated the law in its surveillance of employee email. In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg sent Monday, Grassley wrote, quote, “Continued stonewalling and secrecy about the spying on these employees’ protected disclosures is unacceptable.”

The FDA has denied any wrongdoing. In response to a Democracy Now! request for comment Monday, the agency said, quote, “FDA did not monitor the employees’ use of non-government-owned computers at any time. Neither members of Congress nor their staffs were the focus of monitoring. At no point in time did FDA attempt to impede or delay any communication between these individuals and Congress. Employees have appropriate routes to voice their concerns without disclosing confidential information to the public, and FDA has policies in place to ensure employees are aware of their rights and options,” the FDA told us.

Well, to talk more about the implications of this case, we’re going to Washington, D.C., to speak with Stephen Kohn, the attorney for the FDA whistleblowers and executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center, who has brought suit against the government.

Stephen Kohn, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you first explain what happened, how you found out this extensive monitoring was taking place, and who exactly you represent?

STEPHEN KOHN: OK. Well, I’m representing the seven FDA doctors and scientists who blew the whistle on serious health and safety violations on medical devices being approved by the FDA. One CT colonoscopy device that they exposed made it onto the market, 600 to 800 times the radiation dosage of similar devices that are more effective. I mean, you’re talking about a lot of political pressure, a lot of financial pressure, that’s just totally outrageous in the medical and FDA context.

AMY GOODMAN: And the corporation that owned these devices?

STEPHEN KOHN: Major corporations. This particular device and similar devices, General Electric. Now, what these scientists at—well, I’ll tell you how it was discovered, this large domestic surveillance operation. One of these scientists was applying for a job and just went on to Google to see what FDA was saying about him or her—we’re keeping this person’s identity confidential—and discovered that FDA had uploaded on Google thousands and thousands of pages—now, at least 80,000, I think may be even more. Essentially, their domestic surveillance program, a large piece of it, got uploaded on Google for everyone to see. And for the first time, we now have a glimpse into what domestic surveillance of whistleblowers looks like in this country with the modern technological developments.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain what you found. How were these scientists monitored? Now, some of them were fired, right? They were pushed out.

STEPHEN KOHN: That’s correct. I mean, FDA’s statement that you read is ludicrous. They fired these people after they learned they were going to Congress and to federal law enforcement officials. They had specific targets of all of their contacts with members of Congress, specific targets of their contacts with law enforcement, as they tried to blow the whistle on these devices. Any statement of FDA that this was somehow benign or limited to leaks is absolutely false and proven by these documents.

But what’s incredible here is the United States government justifies going after whistleblowers through these leak investigations. We have lived through it in the national security context. We’ve seen it in many cases where the agencies go to the public and say, “Hey, it’s a leak of confidential information. It’s legitimate.” But what we’re able to see in this inside picture of domestic surveillance, it began with the pretext of a leak. But in the opening documents, they then targeted all communications between the whistleblowers, even if they had no access to the so-called trade secret information, which the majority did not. So they went after not just the one whistleblower who they thought may be the leaker, but six others who were just whistleblowers.
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