By Bernard Levy
The following are a few of the “Hidden Stories.” We define “hidden stories” as news that: 1) never receives coverage in mainstream media (MSM); 2) gets published, but insignificantly, e.g., in a newswire that’s easily overlooked by a reader or placed in an out-of-the-way page, perhaps next to a large ad for vacuum cleaners; 3) is reported reasonably well once and then never or rarely seen again.
Most are important stories containing information that affect our pocketbooks and lives, e.g., government incompetence and corruption that cost taxpayers money. We’ll cover some in depth as time and resources permit. We hope you enjoy this feature. If you do, please let us know.
The October 15th edition of ABC World News noted that the federal government’s current budget calls for $600 billion dollars in health costs, approximately 25% of the total budget. Not earthshaking news to most of us, we knew that federal government health costs were high, but this amount illuminates the Bush Administration’s and Congress’ lack of efforts to take more appropriate measures to lower the costs of health providers and drug companies. The Medicare Supplemental D Program didn’t include any provisions to “encourage” pharmaceutical companies to lower costs to Medicare recipients. Even the Veterans Administration takes measures to get the best medication for the buck in this regard. Why hasn’t this been done, you ask? I can’t answer that, but surely it must be due to misfeasance, malfeasance, or, at the very least, nonfeasance.
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A New York Times news service article by Steven Erlanger appeared June 18, 2006, in many newspapers, including The Oregonian. The Oregonian’s headlines read, “With cash cut off, Gaza sinks deep into poverty. “The first half of the article dealt with the human suffering in the Gaza Strip due to cessation of the funds that had been supplied to the Hamas-led Palestinian authority. Palestinian suffering resulting from the lack of funding has been enormous. As of mid-June, “The United States and the European union, the major donors of some $1 billion a year in aid to the Palestinian authority – half its income – say that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and unless it agrees to recognize the right of Israel to exist, forswear violence and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, aid will mostly stop.”
As recent as November 8th, a spokesman for the Hamas-led government, Ghazi Hamad, stated that Israel must “cease to exist.” To put this statement in context, this was made after an Israeli shelling which killed 18 Palestinian civilians in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. The Israelis have admitted this shelling, stating that it was due to technical error and profoundly apologized for the loss of lives. A small consolation for such suffering, but the Israelis, in fighting for Israel’s survival, are continually attempting to knockout Hamas missile sites and terrorist activities.
However, on November 10, 2006, Ian Fisher of The New York Times News Service reported that “Hamas committed Friday to folding its eight-month government if that would restore the international assistance that was cut off after it won Palestinian national elections earlier this year.” The lengthy article also noted that “On one hand, Prime Minister (Ismail) Haniyeh (who would likely resign soon) suggested that any new government of national unity would be able to satisfy the demands of Israel and other donors, which include recognizing Israel’s right to exist. …. At the same time, Haniyeh said that Hamas would remain a key player that would never waiver from principle.” At least, there’s some movement and some hope on both sides. I never could understand why the surrounding Muslim nations have not come forth to take up the assistance deficiency to aid the Palestinians and its government. This is, indeed, another hidden story.
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Our last hidden story is brought to light in an article published October 8th and written by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of The L.A. Times – Washington Post Service. He focuses on something that many believe, but don’t have the facts to say is true, namely the Food and Drug Administration needing additional funds to adequately test drug safety. Following the time-tested conservative approach to government – “The best government is the government that governs least” – many of our important governmental agencies lack the necessary funds to do the jobs they are suppose to do. So, what does the FDA do without adequate funds? As the article notes, “ ‘We have to do difficult triage about which ones we are going to follow up on,’ said an FDA official closely involved with the agency’s budget, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity within the Bush administration.” Doesn’t that sound a lot like teenagers who communicate with their friends they should tell their parents about a current problem, but telling their parents would just upset them? Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a government where the services necessary to protect our citizens are funded adequately so that they can fully do their jobs? This is a significant hidden story because only a quarter of the truth is exposed, and three-quarters remain below the surface, like an iceberg.