Truthout reports that the U.S. Defense Department forced Guantánamo Bay detainees to take dangerously high doses of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine even though they didn't have malaria symptoms, a move that one doctor called "pharmacologic waterboarding." Too much of the drug can cause seizures, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. Army Reserve Major Montgomery Granger, who was stationed at Gitmo in 2002, wrote, "There is more and more psychosis becoming evident in detainees … " Malaria treatment has been reported in the mainstream press.
Verdict: Very scary
In 1928 the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) decided to study "racial variation in the effects of syphilis." The Tuskegee Syphilis Study ran from the 1930s until 1972, using black men with syphilis as control subjects. They were never told that they had the disease, were left untreated or treated insufficiently. Some died from the disease. That blacks were not deliberately infected provides no comfort, especially in light of recent news that Guatemalan prisoners were infected with syphilis in a 1940s study involving one of the same doctors.
Spoiler alert! Was the premise of the movie Salt actually trying to warn us about a potential al-Qaeda anchor-baby threat to the United States? Maybe Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert saw a classified preview. In June he warned that some female immigrants want to give birth here to plant seeds, as it were, for terrorist attacks by their offspring decades hence. Secure the borders and watch the wombs.
A Fox News show, America Live, reported, "A massive stretch of Arizona now off-limits to Americans. Critics say the administration is, in effect, giving a major strip of the Southwest back to Mexico." Wrong. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release stated that five years ago, 3 percent of the 3,500-acre Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was closed because of increased " human and drug trafficking." The U.S. needs safe borders, but Mexico doesn't control the NWR.
John McCain, a U.S. citizen, was born in the Panama Canal Zone to American parents. But it's President Obama over whom the "birthers" get their knickers all in a twist. Was he born in Kenya, Russia or Indonesia? Recently, libertarian journalist and contributor to Reason magazine David Weigel (and newest addition to The Root's sister site, Slate), reported that the latest "Obama isn't a citizen" campaign is bunk.
Verdict: True (McCain); False (Obama)
President Obama's most ardent gun-rights critics are sure he wants to take our guns before the military takes our liberties. It ain't so. Under his watch, the High Court, as affirmed recently by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. in an opinion, stated that keeping and bearing arms is "among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty." And last May, Obama signed a bill that allows licensed firearms in national parks.
In 1996 CIA director John Deutch addressed an unfriendly gathering in Watts to refute the belief that his agency flooded urban neighborhoods with crack in the mid-1980s. The meeting's catalyst was a San Jose Mercury News series by reporter Gary Webb that suggested a link between some CIA-backed Nicaragua-contra cocaine wholesalers and street crack retailers. Deutch denied there was a conspiracy, and no direct link was ever established. Folks are still wondering. Webb committed suicide in 2004.
In 2005 a Rand Corp. survey reported that nearly 27 percent of African Americans ages 15-44 thought that "AIDS was produced in a government laboratory." The respondents also said the syndrome was either a federal attempt to control African Americans or a form of genocide. Conspiracy theories still abound, but the fact is that AIDS doesn't discriminate.
Verdict: False. But even today, blacks are disproportionately affected by the disease.
During the 1960s, you got noticed if you were protesting for civil rights or against the Vietnam War. It is a fact that under the leadership of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, his agents used COINTELPRO, a covert counterintelligence program to urge Martin Luther King Jr. to commit suicide; to harass war protesters of all races and backgrounds; and to spy upon, infiltrate and disrupt black dissident organizations.
That's what the flyers throughout Harlem said back in April 1991. No one knew who spread the rumor about the Brooklyn Bottling Co., makers of Tropical Fantasy's inexpensive brands, A-Treat and Top Pop soda, but the word spread across Gotham. The Food and Drug Administration investigated and found nothing. The company responded with its own pro-Fantasy flyers; newspapers wrote rumor-squashing editorials. Even then-Mayor David Dinkins endorsed the brand. It is still available today.
Nervous and suspicious non-blacks raised such a concern when a number of big cities elected their first African-American mayors. However, it seems that the voters in major burgs don't see it that way. Blacks and other residents, even in majority-black cities such as Baltimore, Cleveland and New Orleans, know that the most important criterion for winning a mayoral election is not skin color but whether the citizens think you can do the job.
Have an opinion on what you just read? Register so you can comment and receive The Root's newsletter.
Just want to read more? Check our top stories.