Jim Hightower

Protect Your Kids from the Pentagon

If some predator was sneaking into your kids’ high school and grabbing personal information about them, then contacting your kids without you being told about it—how loudly would you scream at this dirty sneak?

Well, it’s happening in schools all across America. The predatory sneak is the Pentagon. In passing Bush’s infamous No Child Left Behind law, Congress added a little-known provision that makes this law even more infamous. It requires high schools to release private information about minors as young as 16 to military recruiters—without parents giving permission or even being informed. The information includes sensitive data such as grades, ethnicity, Social Security numbers, cell-phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. Already, the Pentagon has built secret profiles on 30 million youngsters. This database allows recruiters for the four military branches to target, talk with, and hustle your kids into a war—without your consent or knowledge. Ready to scream? Hold it—you can do more than scream. The Pentagon doesn’t promote it, but the same law allowing military intrusion into the privacy of minors includes an “opt out” provision that lets you keep your kids’ names out of the hands of recruiters. Three groups—Working Assets, Mainstreet Moms, and ACORN—have created an easy-to-use web site, LeaveMyChildAlone.org, and it helps you produce and send letters to both the Pentagon and your local high school. The letter to the Pentagon requires it to put any data it has about your kids into a “suppression” file, meaning the data cannot be used and cannot go to recruiters. The letter to your school requires it to remove your kids’ data from any list being released to recruiters. This empowers you—or your kids themselves—to protect your privacy. And stop predatory recruiting. Just go to LeaveMyChildAlone.org.

REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS

So long, Larry—we hardly knew ye. Actually, Larry Greenfeld was not known at all by the general public, and very few of us ever heard of the small federal agency he headed, the Bureau of Justice Statistics. BJS is a low-profile office that grinds out dozens of statistical reports every year on crime, drug use, police performance, etcetera, and is known for being independent, straight-shooting, and non-partisan.

But that was BB—Before Bush. The Bushites have become notorious for doctoring, censoring, and tampering with the facts, science, and the findings of official reports. But who would’ve imagined that they would reach all the way to the obscure BJS? It happened in April, when Greenfeld’s office routinely submitted a draft press release to Tracy Henke, the assistant attorney general who oversees BJS. The release announced the results of a statistical study on traffic stops by police. It showed that while all races of Americans were being pulled over at about the same rate, blacks and Latinos were searched and subjected to force three times more frequently than whites. The Bushites did not want to hear this, so Henke edited Greenfeld’s release, leaving only the cheery part about everyone being stopped at the same rate. Greenfeld, who had a sterling performance record in his 23 years at BJS, balked. He said that Henke’s changes would make the release misleading and dishonest. No problem, said Henke, we’ll just kill the whole press release! So the report received absolutely zero media coverage. For his honesty, Greenfeld was demoted. For her censorship, Henke was promoted—she’s been nominated to a senior position in the homeland security department.

MEET THE GAS-PRICE GOUGERS

Do the honchos of Big Oil think we have sucker wrappers around our heads? ExxonMobil is the latest of the giants to take out full-page ads telling us that they feel our pain at the gas pump and are doing all they can to hold down prices. Then they snicker and run to the bank with the ripoff profits they’re taking from our wallets. Unconscionably, they’ve even tried to shift the blame for price gouging to small, independent gas station owners, which is like a bank robber blaming the teller for handing over the money. Local station owners take a lot of heat for the surge in prices, since they’re the only ones that the public sees. But the system is rigged so that they’re just passing the cash on to the real robbers.

A Washington Post investigative report recently analyzed the increase in gasoline prices, which went from $1.87 a gallon last September to $3.07 this year. Who grabbed this $1.20-a-gallon increase? The report found that gasoline taxes actually fell by two cents, and our local distributors and gas stations got less than a penny from the increase. The crude oil producers, however—including Exxon, BP, Shell, et al.—took an additional 46 cents from our pockets. But the big winners by far were the gasoline refiners—also Exxon, BP, Shell, et al. Their increase was 70 cents—a 255-percent increase for them in one year! In all, of the $1.20-per-gallon price hike, Big Oil—which both produces the crude and refines it into gasoline—made off with $1.16. There are your gougers. Yet the oil-soaked W. does nothing; he meekly suggests that hard-hit consumers should simply drive less. However, Sen. Byron Dorgan wants real action. He’s calling for an excess profits tax on Big Oil. To learn more, call his office: 202-224-2551.

Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit www.jimhightower.com. To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900.

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Published at 12:00 am CST
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