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A Modest Roundup of (Im)pertinent Media about the Current Administration

"Private Plans Costing More for Medicare." They call them "Medicare Advantage plans," but it appears that the advantages of this scheme to get more seniors into private coverage accrue largely to HMOs and other health-care companies. This year's Medicare "reform" was supposed to save money, reports Robert Pear in the New York Times (Sept. 17); instead, an independent federal panel says Medicare is paying private plans an average of 107 percent of what it would cost to cover their patients under the traditional fee-for-service program. Who'd have predicted that a Bush-backed plan would profit large corporations to the detriment of ordinary taxpayers? www.nytimes.com/2004/09/17/politics/17medicare.html


"Rumsfeld's Dirty War on Terror." Secretary of Defense and tough guy for the ages Donald Rumsfeld thought the CIA and some of the Pentagon's generals were too wimpy to combat terrorism. As early as late 2001, he oversaw creation of something called the "special-access program," a clandestine project whose reportedly brutal methods set the tone for abuse of U.S. prisoners at Gauntánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has details in an edited excerpt from his new book Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, as published in The Guardian (Sept. 13). www.guardian.co.uk/guantanamo/story/0,13743,1303294,00.html


"Washington's Secret Nuclear War." The administration that considers weapons-related program activities enough to go to war over should look in the mirror: According to Aljazeera.net (Sept. 7), the depleted-uranium shells and bombs the U.S. dropped in Afghanistan and in Iraq in both 1990-91 and 2003-04 might be causing disability and death among U.S. soldiers, and disease and birth defects among civilians. Shaheen Chughtai describes how DU poisons the environment and human bodies, and talks to critics (including the former director of the Army's DU project) who say the U.S. should be charged with war crimes. english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/B2E2DF9B-1E0C-43F4-BBF6-074C1367E27C.htm


"Dick Cheney's Energy Crisis." The latest issue of Sierra Club publication Sierra (September/October) contains a comprehensive review of W's abysmal enviro-record, including a 322-entry timeline of his "crimes against nature" and stories of everyday citizens suffering from policies like the one relaxing pollution rules on large-scale animal-feeding operations. Also: Robert F. Kennedy peeks behind the curtain of the vice president's National Energy Policy Development Group, which -- convened in cabalistic secrecy -- inspired an energy bill Kennedy calls "an orgy of industry plunder," much of it subsequently enacted unilaterally by the White House. www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200409/

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