Friday, October 01, 2010

USA Infected Guatemalans With Syphilis

US Apologizes for 1940s STD Study That Infected Guatemalans With Syphilis
President Obama Calls Guatemalan President to Offer Nation's Apology

In 1946, American researchers performed an appalling experiment, infecting unwitting Guatemalans with a potentially deadly disease in the name of public health.

In an effort to see if penicillin could prevent or treat syphilis, government scientists went to the impoverished Central American country to deliberately infect nearly 700 men and women -- including prisoners, inmates in insane asylums, and even some soldiers -- with the potentially fatal sexually transmitted disease.

The researchers used prostitutes to infect the men and hypodermic needles to infect the women.

Watch "World News" for more on this story tonight on ABC.

The experiments, which lasted from 1946 to 1949, were uncovered last year by Susan Reverby, a professor at Wellesley College, as she was researching a book.

When she came across the Guatemala study, her first reaction was, "Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh, my God," Reverby told ABC News today.

"The evidence is clear that [the subjects] didn't know. The authorities were told something, but the people didn't know," she said.

U.S. Officials Apologize for Guatemala Research
President Obama himself spoke with the president of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom, via phone today to express "deep regret" over the study, the White House said in a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also issued a joint apology today in a written statement.

"Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened," the statement read.

A U.S. government official told ABC News today that the National Institutes of Health will launch two panels to examine the Guatemala study.

Guatemala's Ambassador to the United States, Francisco Villagran de León said today that he appreciated the decision for a full investigation.

"We don't even know if there is a list of these individuals. If there are any survivors, which is not likely, we should make sure that they should receive care," the ambassador said.

Guatemala Experiments Similar to Tuskegee Syphilis Study
The experiments are eerily similar to the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiments on African Americans, also run by the U.S. Public Health Service. Reverby was researching the case when she came across the records from Guatemala.

In the Tuskegee study, which ran from 1932 to 1972, the same American Public Health service researchers studied 400 poor black men in Alabama who already had syphilis. But the men never were told they were sick, and they never were treated for it. Some participants died from the disease.

The effects of the Tuskegee study continues to have a widespread effect on African Americans' confidence in the public health system. A 2008 study found that black Americans are less likely to participate in research studies than whites, a factor that researchers attributed to fears -- rooted in the Tuskegee tests -- that research participants could incur harm.

In the Guatemalan study, run by the same American Public Health Service doctor as Tuskegee, the subjects were given the antibiotic penicillin, though it's not clear whether they received enough and what exactly became of them.

ABC News' Dr. Richard Besser, a former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said both experiments were highly unethical.

"I think there's absolutely no difference between the Tuskegee experiment and what took place in Guatemala," Besser said. "You had two populations that were mistreated for the benefit of medical knowledge."

Although it was common practice to use unwitting subjects for medical experiments in those days, then-Surgeon General Thomas Parran said about the Guatemala study, "You know, we couldn't do this in this country."

"It used to be that the idea of informed consent -- asking permission -- was unheard of," said Besser. "Sixty years ago, there weren't ethical boards, there weren't institutional review boards reviewing studies determining what you could and couldn't do. It's a different world today."

stimulus package gets high marks dispite public dumbing down by GOP

The massive economic stimulus package President Obama pushed through Congress last year is coming in on time and under budget - and with strikingly few claims of fraud or abuse - according to a White House report to be released Friday.

Coming barely a month before November's midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress, the report challenges public perceptions of the stimulus aid as slow-moving and wasteful - an image that has fueled voter anger with the dominant party. Even some former skeptics who predicted that the money would lead to rampant abuse now acknowledge that the program could serve as a model for improving efficiency in government.

By the end of September, the administration had spent 70 percent of the act's original $787 billion, which met a White House goal of quickly pumping money into the nation's ravaged economy, the report says. The administration also met nearly a dozen deadlines set by Congress for getting money out the door.

Meanwhile, lower-than-anticipated costs for some projects have permitted the administration to stretch stimulus money further than expected, financing an additional 3,000 projects, according to the report.

Despite the speedy spending, the report says that stimulus contracts and grants have so far been relatively free of the fraud charges that plague more routine government spending programs. Complaints have been filed on less than 2 percent of awards under the program.

"Certainly, the fraud and waste element has been smaller than I think anything anybody anticipated," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group. "You can certainly challenge some projects as questionable economically. But there haven't been the examples of outright fraud where the money is essentially lining somebody's pocket."

The report, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post, is one in a series of assessments prepared by Vice President Biden, who was charged with overseeing implementation of the stimulus money, the largest effort in U.S. history to counteract the effects of a recession. The Congressional Budget Office originally estimated the package of tax cuts, state aid and direct federal spending would cost $787 billion over the next decade, a figure that has since been revised to $814 billion.

Biden delivered the report to Obama on Thursday during the president's daily economic briefing. In addition to assessing how the stimulus program has been carried out, the study restates the administration's case that the package has been effective economically, arguing that it staunched the worst bleeding in employment and led the economy to rebound late last year.

Many prominent economists agree with that assessment. The CBO has forecast that the package may be on track to meet the administration's goal of preserving 3.5 million jobs by the end of the year.

Congressional Republicans and many conservatives challenge those claims, arguing that the stimulus package led to record budget deficits while doing little to improve the economy. With the unemployment rate stuck at 9.6 percent, polls show that about two-thirds of voters agree with that view.

"The administration predicted that unemployment wouldn't rise above 8 percent if the trillion-dollar stimulus became law. We know how that turned out," Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday. "Unemployment, now at 9.6 percent, has hovered near double digits since the stimulus passed; we took on an additional trillion dollars in debt, and Americans' confidence in the administration's economic arguments never recovered."

Signed into law by Obama in February 2009, the package was designed to stimulate economic activity and preserve jobs at a time when private-sector activity had virtually collapsed and employers were shedding an average of 750,000 jobs a month. Speed was of paramount importance, and the administration vowed to get 70 percent of the money out the door within 18 months.

The report shows that the administration has met that target, spending $551 billion of the original $787 billion. That figure includes $242 billion in tax breaks to families and businesses and $232 billion in payments to states, unemployed workers and other victims of the recession, the report says. The administration has also written $77 billion in checks for thousands of public works projects, with an additional $127 billion unspent but committed, the report says.

Meeting the 70 percent goal "is an important accomplishment," said Jared Bernstein, Biden's chief economist. "The fact that the impact of this program was quickly felt in the economy and quickly went to work breaking the back of the great recession is something we wanted to take note of."

Administration officials also highlighted the relatively small number of complaints about contracts related to the stimulus package. An independent board established to provide oversight has received just 3,806 complaints - less than 2 percent of more than 200,000 awards. Prosecutors have initiated 424 criminal investigations, representing 0.2 percent of all awards.

Typically, 5 to 7 percent of government contracts attract complaints, Bernstein said.

Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, which represents government contractors, said the unprecedented focus on oversight clearly paid off and should be analyzed for lessons that could be applied throughout the government.

"Given the ambitious nature of the stimulus, the fact that things have gone relatively smoothly suggests that they did put appropriate and adequate resources" into program oversight, said Soloway, an early skeptic of the package. "They definitely deserve credit for that," he said.

Bernstein said "people's feelings about the recovery act or the role of government in society" are unlikely to change because of Friday's report. "We have a ton more work left to do," he said.

But the report serves to verify, he said, that "the recovery act has accomplished much of what it set out to do."
Lori Montgomery Washington Post

Rupert Murdoch refuses to to hold Fox News accountable

Maybe YOU & The PRESS should?

It must be nice to work for Rupert Murdoch.

Every so often, the News Corp. CEO is questioned about Fox News' programming. His responses reveal that he either does not watch his own network and is therefore clueless about his flagship news property, or he instead chooses to play dumb about his network's role in poisoning the national discourse.

Yesterday, while testifying before a House subcommittee hearing, Murdoch spoke in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) expressed support for Murdoch's proposal, but noted that she was "oftentimes stunned" by the anti-immigrant rhetoric on Fox News. Murdoch responded by saying that "we are home to all views on Fox," and that "we are not anti-immigrant on Fox News."

Of course, Fox News is a hotbed of anti-immigrant rhetoric. Not only do hosts and guests regularly distort the threat posed by illegal immigration and fight against rights already held by immigrants, but their coverage of the issue sometimes veers into thinly-veiled "white people are under attack!" xenophobia.

For example, in May of 2007, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News' top-rated host, fearmongered that the "unintended consequences" of immigration reform was that it would make America less white. On an April, 2006, edition of his syndicated radio show, O'Reilly suggested that the "hidden agenda" of the immigrant rights movement was to bring about the "browning of America." In 2006, former Fox host John Gibson exhorted white viewers to do "your duty" and "make more babies" in response to population growth by minorities.

Though Murdoch proudly proclaimed that Fox is "home to all views" on immigration, this welcoming mentality apparently includes mainstreaming anti-immigrant groups like the American Immigration Control Foundation, which has been classified as a "hate group" by the Anti-Defamation League.

And while Murdoch mocked the idea of "expelling 11 or 12 million people" as "nonsense," Fox host David Asman - while filling in for Neil Cavuto in April of 2006 - suggested that it may have been "the perfect time to round up" illegal immigrants and "ship them out."

To top it all off, Fox News has recently begun hosting disgraced former CNN host Lou Dobbs to repeatedly mislead on immigration issues, despite his long history of making incendiary and false claims about the topic.

But they "are not anti-immigrant on Fox." Right.

Murdoch's obliviousness - feigned or not - when it comes to Fox News' coverage of immigration follows a clear pattern.

On the subject of climate change, Murdoch has aligned himself with the vast majority of climate scientists and stated unequivocally that "climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats."

In 2007, Murdoch announced an initiative to make News Corp. carbon neutral in an attempt to "set an example" and inspire their "audiences" to fight climate change. While News Corp.'s initiative is commendable, its potential benefits and ability to "set an example" are undermined by Fox News' ongoing war on climate science and climate scientists. Fox hosts and personalities regularly mock climate change and any efforts to combat it.

A perfect example of how Fox News fails to "set an example" came during Earth Day this year. Rather than spend the day promoting environmentalism and conservation, Fox & Friends marked the occasion by rehashing smears of climate scientists with noted climatologist L. Brent Bozell.

Murdoch was right when he said that the carbon footprint of News Corp.'s audience is "10,000 times bigger than" the company's, which is why the benefits of his company's attempt to become carbon neutral pale in comparison to the damage done by the network's ongoing war on climate science. In fact, Murdoch's admission that he agrees with the "99 percent of scientists" on climate change makes him part of the "climate change cult," according to Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin.

Murdoch has also frequently promoted the phony distinction between Fox's news and opinion programming. Last year, Murdoch implied that Your World with Neil Cavuto and Fox & Friends (among others) are Fox shows that don't traffic in "commentary." This was false at the time - Fox News executives have included those shows as part of its "opinion" lineup -- and has become even more so as the network has continued its trip down the rabbit hole.

Neil Cavuto is the network's Senior Vice President of Business News, which, according to Fox, means he "oversees all business coverage for FNC" and "directs content and business news coverage for the FOX Business Network." If we are supposed to view Cavuto as some sort of business journalist, then he likely holds the distinction of being the only business journalist in the country with his own "Campaign Platform."

This week, Cavuto unveiled his "2010 Campaign Platform," which consisted of right-wing proposals like "No Tax Hikes On Anyone For Any Reason" and "A 10 Percent Across-The-Board Cut In Every Gov't Program." In addition to having a "Campaign Platform," Cavuto regularly promotes falsehoods that benefit the GOP and Tea Party at the expense of progressives and Democrats.

Murdoch's confusion about Fox & Friends' programming may be slightly more understandable. After all, Steve Doocy and Co. put on a show for their boss when he visited earlier this year, significantly toning down their usual rhetoric about immigration during his appearance, only to return to their usual antics as soon as he left the show.

Of course, the idea that Fox & Friends does not do "commentary" is a farce. Not only does the show spend three hours every morning misinforming their viewers about a wide range of issues, they have recently become the de facto launching pad for GOP general election campaigns.

Which brings us to Murdoch's most infamous "see no evil" moment. In April, Media Matters VP Ari Rabin-Havt questioned Murdoch about Fox's promotion of the Tea Party. Murdoch responded that Fox News shouldn't be "supporting the Tea Party or any other party." He added, "I'd like to investigate what you are saying before I condemn anyone." Almost six months later, we're still waiting to hear back.

As we detailed at the time, Fox's promotion of the Tea Party was beyond question - the network had aggressively encouraged viewers to attend tea parties, and even hosted several "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties" starring leading Fox personalities like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

In the intervening months, Fox's Tea Party boosterism has continued unabated. Notably, in the past few weeks, Fox has gone all-in supporting Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell. In addition to giving her a safe haven from being inconvenienced by exposure to actual journalism, numerous hosts on the network have misleadingly claimed that her opponent has labeled himself a "bearded Marxist."

And what about that "other party" -- the GOP -- that Fox News shouldn't be "supporting," according to their boss? Well, in addition to lavishing coverage on the GOP's legislative agenda, Fox News hosts and personalities have raised millions of dollars for the GOP, supported GOP candidates with almost uniformly positive coverage, and, as always, spent every day smearing Democrats and progressives with blatant falsehoods.

In April, we argued that Fox News had basically become an arm of the GOP. It seems we may have had that backwards. At this point, the GOP is basically just an arm of Fox News.

As we detailed in a report this week, Fox News employs no less than five potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates. The Fox candidates have appeared on the network at least 269 times, appearances a GOP strategist reportedly called an "in-kind contribution."

Murdoch's network actually goes beyond just giving "in-kind contributions" to the GOP. Recently, they've discarded that relative subtlety and started spending boatloads of money in the hopes of helping to elect GOP candidates this fall.

Earlier this summer, News. Corp donated an unprecedented $1 million to the Republican Governors Association with the express purpose of supporting the "RGA's pro-business agenda." Last night, Politico's Ben Smith reported that News. Corp also donated $1 million to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has reportedly devoted millions of dollars this cycle to running political ads on behalf of Republican Senate candidates.

Fox News' political activism is becoming more and more brazen. Unfortunately the network is enabled by the rest of the media's reluctance to call them out on their behavior. At this point, it is clear that the CEO of News. Corp has no plans to act responsibly, so it is up to the press to hold Fox News accountable.

Fox News makes a mockery of the idea of journalism, and it's time for media outlets that actually care about the craft to speak out and say so.

This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Ben Dimiero, a research fellow at Media Matters for America.

Why can't news reporters just be reporters instead letting ego confuse their function?

CNN Fires Sanchez After He Calls Stewart a Bigot

NEW YORK (AP) — CNN fired news anchor Rick Sanchez on Friday, a day after he called Jon Stewart a bigot in a radio show interview where he also questioned whether Jews should be considered a minority.

Sanchez, who was born in Cuba and had worked at CNN since 2004, was host of the two-hour "Rick's List" on CNN's afternoon lineup. He did a prime-time version of that show in recent months, but that ended this week because the time slot is being filled by a new show featuring former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and columnist Kathleen Parker.

Stewart had frequently poked fun of Sanchez on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," most recently for saying on the air that his show had received a tweet from House Republican leader John Boehner. Stewart called it a case of "send a twit a tweet."

"He's upset that someone of my ilk is almost at his level," Sanchez said during a satellite radio interview with Pete Dominick. Details of the interview were posted on the Mediaite website Friday and quickly became a topic of conversation in the media world.

Sanchez said that Stewart is bigoted toward "everybody else that's not like him." He said Stewart "can't relate to what I grew up with," saying his family had been poor and he had seen prejudice directed at his father.

Sanchez dismisses it when Dominick points out that Stewart, who is Jewish, is also a minority.

"I'm telling you that everyone who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority?" Sanchez said, adding a sarcastic "yeah."

"I can't see someone not getting a job these days because they're Jewish," he said.

CNN issued a statement late Friday that said Sanchez "is no longer with the company." In it, the network also thanked Sanchez "for his years of service" and wished him well.

Sanchez did not immediately return an e-mail or call to his mobile phone seeking comment, though it was unclear whether the CNN-issued phone or e-mail address were still active.

Stewart had no comment on Sanchez's statements, a Comedy Central spokesman said.

Three times in the past few months Stewart had used a Sanchez clip for the mocking "moment of Zen" feature on "The Daily Show," including once where Sanchez mispronounced the world "annals" in a story about Vice President Joe Biden.

He also made fun of Sanchez questioning a reporter who was stationed in a California gay bar for a report on the court case there involving gay marriage and hadn't found anyone at the bar who opposed the idea.

Sanchez spent much of his career as a reporter and anchor in Miami, where he won an Emmy Award in 1983 for a story on why he left Cuba. He has also worked at MSNBC and CNBC.

During the interview with Dominick, Sanchez told about a CNN executive whom he would not name telling him that he saw Sanchez not as an anchor but a reporter like ABC's John Quinones. He implied that this was a subtle form of bias.

Later in the interview Sanchez, indicated that "bigot" may be too strong a word to describe Stewart, saying he was "prejudicial" instead.

"He's not just a comedian. ... He can make and break careers," Sanchez said. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS