The Hightower Report

No Child Left Alone, er Behind, 'opt out' provision lets parents keep kids' names out of military recruiters' hands; and Big Oil rolling in the hurricane dough


PROTECT YOUR KIDS FROM THE PENTAGON

If some predator were 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, and the predatory sneak is the Pentagon. In passing Bush's infamous No Child Left Behind law, our Congress critters 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 such sensitive data as grades, ethnicity, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, and cell phone numbers. 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 – again, 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 this 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 for opting out. It's 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 their privacy ... and stop predatory recruiting. Just go to www.leavemy childalone.org.


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 at us and run to the bank with the rip-off profits they're taking right out of our wallets.

Unconscionably, these brand-name corporations have even tried to shift the blame for price gouging to the small, independent gas station owners, which is like a bank robber blaming the teller for handing the money over at gunpoint. The local station owners take a lot of the public heat for the surge in prices, since they're the only ones in the system 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 – which also happen to be Exxon, BP, Shell, et al. Their increase was 70 cents – a 255% 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 George W. does nothing about their thievery, instead meekly suggesting 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.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Pentagon, No Child Left Behind, Working Assets, Mainstreet Moms, ACORN, LeaveMyChildAlone.org, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, price gouging, Sen. Byron Dorgan, George W. Bush, Big Oil

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