Thursday, July 30, 2009

Judge says Army must answer for denying security clearance to whistleblower Bunny Greenhouse

Washington, D.C.
28 Jul, 2009

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered yesterday that the Army Corps of Engineers must answer for its decision to withhold top-secret security clearance from whistleblower Bunnatine (Bunny) H. Greenhouse. "This decision sets a new precedent for the protection of national security whistleblowers," said Michael D. Kohn, President of the National Whistleblowers Center and Greenhouse's attorney.

Bunny Greenhouse was the Corps' top procurement executive when she objected to the terms and legality of a no-bid contract the Bush Administration was about to award to Halliburton subsidiary KBR a contract just before the Iraq War commenced, known as Restore Iraqi Oil ("RIO"). Greenhouse's concerns were ignored and the no-bid, cost plus contract, worth up to $7 Billion, was secretly awarded to KBR to run Iraqi oil fields after the invasion. When Greenhouse was scheduled to testify before a Congressional Committee during the Bush Administration, the Army Corps' then acting General Counsel personally advised Greenhouse it would not be in her best interest to do so and she was swiftly removed as the Army Corps' Procurement Executive when she ignored that warning. Greenhouse alleged that the Corps further retaliated against her by refusing to renew her top-secret security clearance (TSSC) on grounds that her new job did not require any clearance.

Greenhouse filed a lawsuit to get her old job back. In a ruling yesterday, Judge Sullivan overruled the government's motion to dismiss Greenhouse's claim for her TSSC.

Judge Sullivan acknowledged that existing case law establishes that "an adverse employment action based on denial or revocation of a security clearance is not actionable" if it would "require the court to assess the merits of the decision to deny the clearance - precisely the assessment prohibited by the Supreme Court's holding" in Department of the Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518 (1988)." Judge Sullivan establish new precedent, holding that "the decision to strip Greenhouse of her security clearance was based on the Corp's claim that Greenhouse didn't need it any more based on the jobs they intended her to perform" thereby making it "entirely unrelated to any security-sensitive considerations."

Kohn called Judge Sullivan's decision is "well reasoned." "Otherwise, an agency could marginalize a whistleblower by failing to renew a security clearance for reasons that had nothing to do with security and everything to do with retaliation." Kohn said. "A blanket refusal to permit a court to review the reasons for the denial of security clearances normally leaves national security whistleblowers completely vulnerable to retaliation. This decision highlights how a decision to withhold security clearance can have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with unlawful retaliation," Kohn added.

A copy of the decision is attached here.

~ National Whistleblowers Center ~

Military poised to help FEMA battle swine flu outbreak

29 Jul, 2009

The Pentagon is preparing to make troops available if necessary to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency tackle a potential outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, FOX News has confirmed.

This comes as a government panel recommends certain groups be placed at the front of the line for swine flu vaccinations this fall, including pregnant women, health care workers and children six months and older.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel also said those first vaccinated should include parents and other caregivers of infants; non-elderly adults who have high-risk medical conditions, and young adults ages 19 to 24. The panel, whose recommendations typically are adopted by federal health officials, voted to set vaccination priorities for those groups Wednesday during a meeting in Atlanta.

Obama administration officials told Congress that H1N1 vaccinations won't be available for several months.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is preparing to sign an order authorizing the military to set up five regional teams to deal with the potential outbreak of H1N1 influenza if FEMA requests help.

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Declassified docs reveal military operative spied on WA peace groups, activist friends stunned

Amy Goodman and Anjali Kamat - Democracy Now! Broadcast Exclusive

28 Jul, 2009

Newly declassified documents reveal that an active member of Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance in Washington state was actually an informant for the US military. The man everyone knew as “John Jacob” was in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis. The military’s role in the spying raises questions about possibly illegal activity. The Posse Comitatus law bars the use of the armed forces for law enforcement inside the United States. The Fort Lewis military base denied our request for an interview. But in a statement to Democracy Now!, the base’s Public Affairs office publicly acknowledged for the first time that Towery is a military operative. “This could be one of the key revelations of this era,” said Eileen Clancy, who has closely tracked government spying on activist organizations.

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Pfizer unit marketed drug illegally, ex-employee says

Jef Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk - Bloomberg

28 Jul, 2009

Pfizer Inc.’s Warner-Lambert unit created a list of 13 ailments that its epilepsy medicine Neurontin could treat as part of its promotion of the drug for unapproved uses, a former employee testified.

“I was trained from day one” to market the drug illegally, David Franklin testified. Franklin, who worked as a medical liaison at the Parke-Davis division of Warner-Lambert, said he encouraged doctors to prescribe Neurontin for uses beyond those approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“My job was to promote Neurontin and motivate doctors to experiment” on patients, he said today in federal court in Boston. After being hired as a medical liaison, “I was selling drugs,” he said. The uses promoted were from the “snake-oil list” of 13 medical conditions, said Franklin, a microbiologist.

Franklin was the first witness in the trial over claims by the family of Susan Bulger, 39, who hanged herself after taking the drug. Bulger’s family claims Pfizer promoted Neurontin for unapproved uses and failed to warn it could increase the risk of suicide until forced to do so by the government. Bulger started taking the drug in 1999.

The trial of the suit, the first of about 1,200 over Neurontin to go to trial, is expected to last three weeks.

Pfizer fell 59 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $16.03 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Pfizer shares have fallen 9.5 percent so far this year.

Whistleblower Suit

Franklin filed a federal whistleblower complaint in 1997 alleging the company illegally marketed the drug for attention deficit disorder, pain and other unapproved uses. The suit resulted in a $430 million settlement by Warner-Lambert with the U.S. Justice Department in 2004.

Franklin, who worked at Warner Lambert for four months in 1995 before resigning over the company’s off-label marketing practices, received about $25 million as his share under the federal False Claims Act, the government said at the time.

Warner-Lambert officials used a variety of tactics to persuade doctors to prescribe Neurontin for unapproved uses, Franklin told jurors.

They provided the company’s sales force with a list of ailments that would benefit from Neurontin use, including restless leg syndrome, migraine headaches and withdrawal symptoms from drug and alcohol abuse, Franklin said. The FDA hadn’t approved the drug for any of those illnesses at the time, he added.

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A Rorschach cheat sheet on Wikipedia?

Noam Cohen - New York Times

28 Jul, 2009

There are tests that have right answers, which are returned with a number on top in a red circle, and there are tests with open-ended questions, which provide insight into the test taker’s mind.

The Rorschach test, a series of 10 inkblot plates created by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach for his book “Psychodiagnostik,” published in 1921, is clearly in the second category.

Yet in the last few months, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia has been engulfed in a furious debate involving psychologists who are angry that the 10 original Rorschach plates are reproduced online, along with common responses for each. For them, the Wikipedia page is the equivalent of posting an answer sheet to next year’s SAT.

They are pitted against the overwhelming majority of Wikipedia’s users, who share the site’s “free culture” ethos, which opposes the suppression of information that it is legal to publish. (Because the Rorschach plates were created nearly 90 years ago, they have lost their copyright protection in the United States.)

“The only winners seem to be those for whom this issue has become personal, and who see this as a game in which victory means having their way,” one Wikipedia poster named Faustian wrote on Monday, adding, “Just don’t pretend you are doing anything other than harming scientific research.”

What had been a simmering dispute over the reproduction of a single plate reached new heights in June when James Heilman, an emergency-room doctor from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, posted images of all 10 plates to the bottom of the article about the test, along with what research had found to be the most popular responses for each.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Migrants to Italy face "a kind of slavery": OIM

ROME (Reuters) - Thousands of migrants are being lured to Italy with false promises of work and forced to live in conditions akin to slavery, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.

In a study of a migrant camp near the town of San Nicola Varco, 100 km (63 miles) south of Naples, IOM officials found some 1,200 migrants squatting in abandoned buildings without water and electricity, eking a living among piles of rubbish.

The young men, most of them from Morocco, were being paid between 15 and 25 euros ($21 and $35) for a 12-hour day laboring in nearby greenhouses and fields, without work contracts. Their employers often charged them for basics like transport and water, in the sweltering summer temperatures of southern Italy.

"The humanitarian emergency has become serious because they are living in conditions that are unsustainable," said Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for the IOM in Italy. "The salaries are well below the minimum. It is a kind of slavery."

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Stockpiling deals link baxter to CIA & Carlyle Group: Covert ops discredit official flu response

"...The CIA-influenced media is obviously being used to hype threats of death this year along with this obviously laboratory-created mutant flu, Dr Horowitz said. Follow the money and you realize all roads lead through the CIA to top officials in the companies profiting most from stockpiles of poorly test, virtually experimental, ‘fast-tracked’ vaccines and toxic Tamiflu.

Many people were aware Donald Rumsfeld, the past Secretary of the Defense Department credited by journalist Bob Woodward for pushing George H.W. Bush out of politics and into the role of CIA director, co-founded Gilead Sciences, the maker of Tamiflu. Rumsfeld, 1989-2005, was chief Defense Contractor for the Carlyle Group–possibly the world’s wealthiest military-medical investment firm. Operating as Carlyle Group’s Vice President today is Brian Canann, a chief strategist for global product management within Baxter International Inc’s spin off company, Edwards Lifesciences. Reminiscent of the CIA’s “Project Jefferson“ (also called Clearvision , wherein hyper-weaponized anthrax was first developed at the Battelle Memorial Institute, then assayed by CIA contractors for mass-dispersal via the mail, then mailed two years later following the September, 2001, attacks, Baxter officials are credited for “accidentally“ shipping H5N1 (bioweapons-grade bird flu) contaminated vaccines to several labs in four European countries according to international news reports. Baxter is among a handful of companies producing flu vaccines worth billions of dollars in government stockpiling contracts. ..."

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CIA swine flu assassinations, vaccinations & depopulation

Salvador Dali', paranoia and dissolution of time

Martin Ries dissects The Persistence of Memory

Dalí the young trouble-maker

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) showed precocious gifts in the local Catholic schools in Figueras Spain where he was born, as well as at the National School of Fine Arts in Madrid where he studied art.  He exhibited decided megalomania, and impressed everyone as a troublemaker. He was expelled from school more than once and served jail terms for anti-government activities.  While a student he met poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who was later murdered during the Civil War. He wrote the script for the film, Un Chien andalou with Spanish-born film maker Luis Buňuel before joining or even meeting the Surrealists.  

Despite bizarre activities and outlandish statements, the sum total of Dalí's work, including his writings, represents much more than eccentricity, narcissism and slick posturing.  Thus the tendency to dismiss Dalí is not completely fair, considering his early articles in Catalonian and Spanish vanguard magazines during the 1920s, that are serious and without his familiar later pretension.

In 1927, Dalí discovered Surrealism in the art magazines. It was a revelation, and he painted Blood Is Sweeter than Honey, which featured images that continued to obsess him.

The “paranoiac-critical” artist

In the 1920s-30s, the Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud's theories on the unconscious mind became so pervasive as to be taken for granted by the Surrealists.  Freud used the psychoanalytic device of free association to trace the symbolic meaning of dream imagery to its source in the unconscious; Dalí applied the same method to his pictorial imagery.

Based on psychoanalytic studies of paranoiac dementia, Dalí consciously charged his paintings with psychological meaning which he called his “paranoiac-critical method”, using countless symbols of persecution mania, sharp instruments (castration), sexual fetishes, and phallic images, many taken directly from case histories of paranoia in Dr. Richard von Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, as well as from Freud's works.

Paranoia is a mental disease characterized by delusions and projections of personal conflicts ascribed to the supposed hostility of others. Dalí's work imitates paranoiac conditions, because while the paranoiac is able to find proof of persecution, Dali only simulated the illness.  He used paranoia less in the psychiatric sense than the etymological sense: para, meaning alternate, noia meaning mind. Thus, his "paranoiac-critical method" became a forced inspiration as Dalí submitted his paintings at once to the caprice of dream and wide-awake calculation.  His images, based on readings in psychiatry, eventually began displacing experiences drawn from his own psyche.

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Fast-tracked swine flu vaccine under fire

The vaccines far more deadly than the swine flu; mass vaccinations a recipe for disaster Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins

This report has been submitted to Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer of the UK, and to the US Food and Drugs Administration

Please circulate widely, with all the hyperlinks included, to your elected representatives, wherever you are

A swine flu outbreak occurred in Mexico and the United States in April 2009 and spread rapidly around the world by human-to human transmission. The new type A H1N1 influenza virus is unlike any that had been previously isolated [1, 2], judging from the first data released in May. It is a messy combination of sequences from bird, human and swine flu virus lineages from North America and Eurasia. A senior virologist based in Canberra, Australia, told the press he thought that the virus could have been created in the laboratory and released by accident [3]. Some even suggest it was made intentionally as a bioweapon [4], while others blame the intensive livestock industry and extensive trafficking of love animals over long distances, which provide plenty of opportunity for generating exotic recombinants [5]. But what worries the public most is the mass vaccination programmes governments are putting in place to combat the emerging pandemic, which could well be worse than the pandemic itself.

Watchdog opposes fast-track vaccine for school children

The US government is intending to vaccinate all children in September when school re-opens, and the country's vaccine watchdog National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has called on the Obama Administration and all state Governors to provide evidence that the move is [6] “necessary and safe”, demanding “strong mechanisms for vaccine safety screening, recording, monitoring, reporting and vaccine injury compensation.”

The US Departments of Health and Homeland Security had declared a national public health emergency in April soon after the swine flu outbreak. As a result, some schools were closed, people quarantined, and drug companies were given contracts worth $7billon to make vaccines that are being fast tracked by the Food and Drugs Administration [7]. That means they will only be tested for a few weeks on several hundred children and adult volunteers before being given to all school children this fall.

Furthermore, under federal legislation passed by Congress since 2001, an Emergency Use Authorization allows drug companies, health officials and anyone administering experimental vaccines to Americans during a declared public health emergency to be protected from liability if people get injured. US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has granted vaccine makers total legal immunity from any lawsuits that may result from any new swine flu vaccine. And some states may make the vaccination mandatory by law.

The NVIC is asking whether the states are prepared to obey vaccine safety provisions in the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which include: 1. Giving parents written information about vaccine benefits and risks before children are vaccinated; 2. Keeping a record of which vaccines the children get, including the manufacturer's name and lot number; 3. Recording which vaccines were given in the child's medical record; and 4. Recording serious health problems that develop after vaccination in the child's medical record and immediately making a report to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

NVIC also wants to know if the states are prepared to provide financial compensation to children injured by the swine flu vaccines, whether parents will be given “complete, truthful information about swine flu vaccine risks”, and have the right to say “no” to vaccination.

Co-founder and president of NVIC Barbara Loe Fisher said [6]: “Parents and legislators should be asking themselves right now: Why are children the first to get experimental swine flu vaccines? Are schools equipped to get signed informed consent from parents before vaccination, keep accurate vaccination records and screen out children biologically at high risk for suffering vaccine reactions? Will people giving these vaccines know how to monitor children afterwards and immediately record, report and treat serious health problems that develop? And will states have the financial resources to compensate children who are injured?”

[ ... ]

Toxic adjuvants in flu vaccines

Vaccines themselves can be dangerous, especially live, attenuated viral vaccines or the new recombinant nucleic acid vaccines [10], they have the potential to generate virulent viruses by recombination and the recombinant nucleic acids could cause autoimmune diseases.

A further major source of toxicity in the case of the flu vaccines are the adjuvants, substances added in order to boost the immunogenicity of the vaccines. There is a large literature on the toxicities of adjuvants. Most flu vaccines contain dangerous levels of mercury in the form of thimerosal, a deadly preservative 50 times more toxic than mercury itself [9]. At high enough doses, it can cause long-term immune, sensory, neurological, motor, and behavioural dysfunctions. Also associated with mercury poisoning are autism, attention deficit disorder, multiple sclerosis, and speech and language deficiencies. The Institute of Medicine has warned that infants, children, and pregnant women should not be injected with thimerosal, yet the majority of flu shots contain 25 micrograms of it.

Another common adjuvant is alum or aluminium hydroxide, which can cause vaccine allergy, anaphylaxis, and macrophage myofascitis, a chronic inflammation syndrome, In cats, alum also gives rise to fibrosarcomas at the site of injection [15]. Numerous new adjuvants are no better, and could be worse. According to a recent review in a science and business pharmaceutical publication [15], most newer adjuvants including MF59, ISCOMS, QS21, AS02, and AS04 have “substantially higher local reactogenicity and systemic toxicity than alum.”

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Ministry of Culture decides to cut disputable scenes at Acropolis Museum

The Greek Ministry of Culture has decided to cut the “outrageous” scenes of the 13-minute documentary, created by the world-famous Greek director Kostas Gavras, picturing the damages that the Acropolis has suffered during its 25- centurial history. As GRReporter already informed you, the Greek Orthodox Church has protested fiercely against a scene of just couple of seconds, which uses computer animation to depict angry priests in robes, destroying the Parthenon's ornaments in the VIII century A.D. The Holy Synod has urged the Minister of Culture - Antonis Samaras – to cut the above mentioned scenes from the film. The conservative Minister from the New Democracy party has yielded to the church's arguments and has ordered for the film to be cut.  

Following the decision of the Ministry, the famous director commented: “It is sad and shameful for Greek politicians and EU members of the XXI century, to give way to the will of the Church and censure a film, which is purely based on historically proven facts.” Kostas Gavras explained that the film tried to show how during the ages, the Parthenon has suffered most from the hand of man, and if it wasn't for men, maybe it would have remained the same as it was in the times of Pericles. “It is indeed a fact of history that the early Christian priests were shocked by the nudity of the Phidias sculptures adorning the Parthenon, and destroyed them intentionally.” The artist concludes that “With its latest reaction, the Church proves the argument that it has barely changed since the dark Medieval times.”

The 13 minute documentary is part of the educational program of the Acropolis Museum, and has already been showed in front of a big audience in the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2004, as a part of the cultural Olympics, organized together with the Athens 2004 summer Olympic Games. People interested in the uncensored version of the film could see it at the website or at the following link:

~ Source: GR Reporter ~

Massacre of Bedouin in 1918 revealed

As reported by JTA - Jewish & Israel News (27 Jul, 2009):

Revelations of a massacre in a Bedouin village in Palestine in 1918 has tarnished one of Australia's greatest military victories.

A new book revealed that Australians joined New Zealand soldiers in the massacre of dozens of Bedouin shortly after the end of World War I.

The claim was corroborated in a audio recording of an Australian soldier, Ted O'Brien, found by Australian journalist Paul Daley at the Australian War Memorial.

In his book "Beersheba," Daley recounted O'Brien's recollection of the massacre of between 40 and 200 Bedouin residents of Surafend in 1918 in what was then Palestine. He said about 200 Australian and New Zealand troops, including some from the famed Australian Light Horse Brigades, murdered the locals.

The incident, which barely rates a mention in the official record, tarnishes one of Australia's greatest military victories -- the charge of the Light Horse Brigades at Beersheba in 1917, a near death-defying assault on the Turks that allowed the Allies to advance north to Jerusalem and Damascus.

Last year Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Australian counterpart, Michael Jeffery, opened the Park of the Australian Soldier in Beersheba commemorating Australians who fought and died in the Middle East.

The Surafend massacre was a revenge attack for the murder of a Kiwi soldier by a Bedouin on Dec. 9, 1918. No one was charged but in 1921, Australia paid compensation to the British for the destruction of the Bedouin village.

A spokesman for the Australian War Memorial told Fairfax media on Saturday: "The Anzac legend is an uplifting one but, like all legends, there are some unfortunate aspects. But this doesn't detract from acts of heroism and bravery."

A war of algorithms

The New Atlantis magazine has a fantastic article on the increasing use of robots and artificial intelligence systems in warfare and how they bring the fog of war to the murky area of military ethics and international law.

This comes as the The New York Times has just run a report on a recent closed meeting where some of the world's top artificial intelligence researchers gathered to discuss what limits should be placed on the development of autonomous AI systems.

The NYT article frames the issue as a worry over whether machines will 'outsmart' humans, but the issue is really whether machines will outdumb us, as it is a combination of the responsibilities assigned to them and their limitations which pose the greatest threat.

One particularly difficulty is the unpredictability of AI systems. For example, you may be interested to know that while we can define the mathematical algorithms for simple artificial neural networks, exactly how the network is representing the knowledge it has learnt through training can be a mystery.

If you examine the 'weights' of connections across different instances of the same network after being trained, you can find differences in how they're distributed even though they seem to be completing the task in the same way.

In other words, simply because we have built and trained something, it does not follow that we can fully control its actions or understand its responses in all situations.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Microwave weapon will rain pain from the sky

David Hambling - New Scientist

23 Jul, 2009

The Pentagon's enthusiasm for non-lethal crowd-control weapons appears to have stepped up a gear with its decision to develop a microwave pain-infliction system that can be fired from an aircraft.

The device is an extension of its controversial Active Denial System, which uses microwaves to heat the surface of the skin, creating a painful sensation without burning that strongly motivates the target to flee. The ADS was unveiled in 2001, but it has not been deployed owing to legal issues and safety fears.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) in Quantico, Virginia, has now called for it to be upgraded. The US air force, whose radar technology the ADS is based on, is increasing its annual funding of the system from $2 million to $10 million.

The transmitting antenna on the current system is 2 metres across, produces a single beam of similar width and is steered mechanically, making it cumbersome. At the heart of the new weapon will be a compact airborne antenna, which will be steered electronically and be capable of generating multiple beams, each of which can be aimed while on the move.

The ADS has been dogged by controversy. Jürgen Altmann, a physicist at Dortmund University in Germany, showed that the microwave beams can cause serious burns at levels not far above those required to repel people. This was verified when a US airman was hospitalised with second-degree burns during testing in April 2007.

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Preview 'The New American Drug Lords'

When 75-year-old Arthur G. Nadel was arrested for running a huge Ponzi scheme which looted almost $400 million from investors, it marked the second time this decade that an owner of what used to be called Huffman Aviation has been implicated in major crimes normally associated with the Mafia.

Ponzi schemes, of course, are a trademark Mob specialty. So is heroin trafficking.

While 78-yr old Wallace J. Hilliard owned Huffman Aviation, and Mohamed Atta took flying lessons there, DEA Agents busted Hilliard’s Learjet while it was carrying 43 lbs. of heroin on July 25, 2000 at Orlando Executive Airport.

Terrorist HIJACKERS, heroin trafficking, hundred million dollar Ponzi schemes… How many small towns with barely ten thousand people “boast” a tiny local airport whose major business is owned by a heroin trafficker disguised as a flight school owner who plays host to terrorist hijackers, and then later is sold through to a piano playing patsy who fronts a massive $400 million Ponzi scheme?

'NATO trains Finland, Sweden for conflict with Russia'

From: Afghanistan: Training Ground for War on Russia by Rick Rozoff

26 Jul, 2009
- Global Research

A Swedish newspaper reported on July 24 that approximately 50 troops from the country serving under NATO in the so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had engaged in a fierce firefight in Northern Afghanistan and had killed three and wounded two attackers.

The report detailed that the Swedish troops were traveling in armored vehicles and "later received reinforcements from several soldiers in a Combat Vehicle 90." [1]

The world has become so inured to war around the world and seemingly without end that Swedish soldiers engaging in deadly combat as part of a belligerent force for the first time since the early 1800s - and that in another continent thousands of kilometers from their homeland - has passed virtually without notice.

A Finnish news story of the preceding day, possibly about the same incident but not necessarily, reported that "A Finnish-Swedish patrol, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), came under fire in northern Afghanistan" on July 23rd. [2]

Three days before that a Swedish commander in the north of Afghanistan, where Finnish and Swedish troops are in charge of ISAF operations in four provinces, acknowledged that "During the last three months, six serious incidents have occurred in our area." [3]

The same source revealed that in the upcoming weeks Swedish troop numbers are to be increased from 390 to 500.

The Svenska Dagbladet reported that over a twelve week period attacks on Swedish-Finnish forces in the area have doubled and that seven attacks preceded the deadly firefight described earlier. "In April, a Norwegian officer was killed by a suicide bomber in a province under Swedish-Finnish control, and several vehicles have been attacked along Mazar-i-Sharif's main road since." [4]

Like Sweden, Finland has also increased troop deployments to Afghanistan lately, ostensibly to provide security for next month's elections but, given the escalation of fighting in the nation's north, certainly to remain there for the duration of NATO's South Asian deployment, one which a German official recently stated would last eighteen years from 2001 onward. In early July Finland dispatched 70 more troops to join the 100 already stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh Province bordering Kunduz where German troops are waging an almost two week long military offensive.

Last month Finnish forces in the area were attacked twice and a rocket attack struck close to Finnish barracks in the capital of Kabul.

Troops from the other Scandinavian nations have fared even worse. Three Danish soldiers were killed in a bomb attack in Helmand on June 17, bringing the country's death toll to 26. Norway has lost four soldiers.

To illustrate the integration of Finland and Sweden military forces in Afghanistan and under NATO control in general, in late June it was announced that Sweden was purchasing 113 armored vehicles from Finland. Approximately 1,200 of the Finnish-made vehicles "have been ordered by other customers and [they are] currently used operationally in Finland, Poland, Slovenia and Croatia, for example in operations in Afghanistan." [5]

NATO Deployment In Afghanistan "Improves Readiness For Defense Of Finland"

Last month a major Finnish daily newspaper in a feature called "Afghanistan: Now it's Finland's war, too" contained this striking revelation:

"[F]rom the point of view of the Finnish Defence Forces, there is still another important reason for the Afghanistan operation: it improves readiness for the defence of Finland."

The Finnish source quoted the former commander of the nation's troops in Afghanistan, Ari Mattola, as saying, "This is a unique situation for us, in that we will get to train part of our wartime forces. That part will get to operate as close to wartime conditions as is possible." [6]

Comparable claims about the Afghan war being the training ground for military action on their borders - and that can only mean in relation to Russia - have been made by defense and military officials in the Baltic states, Poland and Georgia.

Early this month Finnish Defense Minister Jyri Hakamies divulged that he would further drag his nation into NATO's plans for a drive east aimed against Russia and is paraphrased as asserting that "NATO had approached Finland with an opportunity to take part in cyber warfare training and the country should accept NATO's offer." [7]

NATO's Article 5: Cyber Warfare And Nuclear Weapons

On June 15 US President Barack Obama and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves met at the White House with American National Security Adviser James Jones, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, and discussed cyber security - which is to say, as the Finnish Defense Minister more honestly called it, cyber warfare. The Estonian president, raised in the United States and a former Radio Free Europe employee, "thanked the United States for its assistance in establishing the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center in the Estonian capital of Tallinn...." [8]

The head of the U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. Kevin Chilton, indicated this May what US and NATO cyber warfare plans might include when he said that "the White House retains the option to respond with physical force - potentially even using nuclear weapons - if a foreign entity conducts a disabling cyber attack against U.S. computer networks...." [9]

The NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania authorized the establishment of the Alliance's cyber warfare center in Estonia in 2008 and last month the Pentagon complemented that initiative by approving a unified U.S. Cyber Command.

For two years American and NATO officials have spoken bluntly about invoking NATO's Article 5 war clause, used for the invasion of Afghanistan and the buildup to that of Iraq, in response to alleged Russian cyber attacks.

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Anemic Cinema (1926) Marcel Duchamp w/ Aphex Twin - 'On'

Jianlong told to drop tonghua buyout after clashes

27 Jul, 2009 (Bloomberg)

China’s Jilin provincial government ordered Jianlong Group to abandon a buyout of state-owned Tonghua Iron & Steel Group after workers protesting job losses killed a manager, state-run Beijing News said today.

The instruction, announced via Jilin’s television network last night, also ordered Beijing-based Jianlong to never again take part in any restructuring plan of Tonghua, the newspaper said. Closely held Jianlong had been Tonghua’s second-largest shareholder since 2005, Xinhua News Agency said separately.

The incident underscores the increasingly violent disputes in the country from northwestern Xinjiang province to southern Guangdong, as the global economic crisis brings simmering conflicts to a head, said Liu Kaiming, a labor-relations researcher in China. As many as 7 million Chinese college graduates will need jobs this year, adding to the 20 million job seekers every year, according to government figures.

“Many ordinary people in China are now filled with pent-up frustrations as they see their livelihood diminish with the economic crisis,” said Liu, executive director of the Institute of Contemporary Observation in Shenzhen. “It’s spreading from north to south, and many tiny disputes can easily be inflamed into major clashes.”

Up to 1,000 workers gathered at Tonghua’s factory in northeastern China’s Changchun city yesterday morning, demanding to meet manager Chen Guojun, appointed by Jianlong on July 22 to oversee the steel plant’s operation, Beijing News said. The workers refused Chen’s order to return to work, battered him with boots and pushed him from a second-storey office, the newspaper said, without citing a source for its information.

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Severe flu pandemic could kill 63,000 in Scotland, says official study

Severin Carrell - The Guardian

22 Jul, 2009

A severe flu pandemic could kill more than 63,000 people in Scotland within a few weeks and overwhelm mortuaries and crematoriums, an official study has concluded.

The document, released to the Guardian under freedom of information regulations, also warns that at least 5,100 people in Scotland could die even if the flu virus was relatively mild and infected only a quarter of the population.

It warns that mortuaries, crematoriums and cemeteries could be forced to operate round the clock, with old warehouses, council buildings, refrigerated lorries and specialist inflatable mortuaries being requisitioned to temporarily store the dead.

The previously unpublished study was written last year to help councils and health authorities plan for a pandemic, before swine flu hit the UK, leaving at least 31 people dead and infecting an estimated 85,000 people since April.

The Scottish government's study bases its mortality estimates on four scenarios ranging from a relatively mild flu virus infecting 25% of the population and killing 0.37% of those infected, to an "exceptional" and more lethal pandemic affecting half the population.

The relatively mild virus would leave about 5,100 dead, a figure that is very close to the 0.35% mortality rate used to make last week's worst-case prediction that swine flu could kill 65,000 across the UK this winter.

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City plans to use catacombs for swine flu victims

A city council said Saturday it was considering using underground burial chambers, currently a tourist attraction, to store the corpses of swine flu victims if the pandemic worsens.

Exeter City Council said the empty 19th-century catacombs could become an emergency mortuary.

A council spokesman said the plan could be put into operation if the cemeteries and the crematorium could not keep up with funeral demands.

He said: "We have some empty catacombs in an old cemetery in the city. These are 19th century underground burial chambers which are normally a tourist attraction," he said.

"They can, however, be safely used for their original purpose and allow us to temporarily store bodies in the remote possibility that the need should arise."

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Images of brutal riot police violence against protesting Ssangyong workers

1. [21 July 2009] Riot police and management-hired thugs gang up to kick and beat up a union member who already has no possibility of resisting arrest


Source : Photo courtesy of Media Chungcheong

- Person wearing light grey pants, grey socks and dark grey athletic shoes crunched up under feet of policemen is KMWU union member (inside red circle)
Person holding a steel pipe with green duct tape wrapped around the handle for better grip (far left) and wearing a black shirt with white gloves and white athletic shoes is a management-hired thug (Persons in white helmets are thugs paid by management)

- Persons in black helmets (blue or yellow stripe) are riot police
Red arrow points at management-hired thug holding shield
- New photos heighten concern over the complete impropriety of public police forces collaborating with privately-contracted thugs to stop a strike

2. [21 July 2009] In addition to steel pipes, management-hired thug wearing construction site gloves also wields a baseball bat


Source : Photo courtesy of Media Chungcheong

3. [21 July 2009] Thugs contracted by Ssangyong Motor Court Receivers also come to factory with martial arts weapons (in photo “nunchaku” are ci rcled in red)

Source : Photo courtesy of Media Chungcheong

4. [21 July 2009] Police use 3 helicopters to take turns to bombard sit-in strikers for hours with tear gas concentrate dropped from the sky



Source: Yonhap News

5. [21 July 2009] Unionists trying to wash off chemicals poured out of the police helicopter but that landed on his arm. Unfortunately management cut off the water supply so he is using precious rationed water to get chemicals off his skin


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Monday, July 27, 2009

Lord of the Rings Remix trilogy

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring of Free Trade

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Now, for the first time ever, the hidden prophecies of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic epic, The Lord of the Rings, are decoded in this accurate re-edit of Peter Jackson's blockbuster motion picture. Unknownst to many readers, The Lord of the Rings - once thought to be merely a story of archetypal struggle between good and evil - has been found to contain astute prophetic messages about the impending crisis of capitalist modernity.

Numerous scholars and linguists have already deciphered the main theme of The Lord of the Rings as being the freedom of ordinary people to be left alone from the ruling elites. However, Tolkien's hidden messages about the disasters of capitalism and the insightful predictions about the current political climate have not been made public until now. The Fellowship of the Ring of Free Trade includes subtitles of the decoded dialogues in painstaking detail and the true identities that the story's characters represent within the prophecy.
Hado i philinn!

"Mordor is in our midst." - J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings: The Twin Towers

This sequel to The Fellowship of the Ring of Free Trade explores post-911 issues within Mordor (aka United States).

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Coming soon: "Rejecting the King"

Suu Kyi’s case nearing its end

The trial of Myanmar’s prominent human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi is nearing its final moments as her lawyer delivered closing statements at Yangon’s Insein Prison today.

Suu Kyi, 64, is charged with opposing the terms of her house arrest after an American male swam to her home and took up residence for several days. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years, and if convicted of this offence, faces five years in jail.

John Williams Yettaw, 53, swam across a lake to Suu Kyi’s home on May 3, 2009. He was uninvited and Suu Kyi has thus been held in the Insein Prison since.

According to CNN, the government has denied requests by the United Nations to visit her, though she is able to speak with her lawyers.

Though some diplomats have been allowed to monitor the ongoing court proceedings, media outlets and other acting bodies are currently barred from covering the event. Some analysts are claiming that the court proceedings and jailing are a ploy to keep Suu Kyi – a pro-democracy leader - out of the upcoming elections.

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The Sand Creek Massacre

"The Sand Creek Massacre" is an examination of an open wound in the souls of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people as told from their perspective. On November 29, 1864, Colorado troops savagely slaughtered over 165 peace-seeking Cheyenne and Arapaho babies, children, women, elders and persons with disabilities under its protection. This act became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. This documentary presentation chronicles that horrific 19th century event and its effect on the 21st century struggle for respectful coexistence between white and native plains cultures.

Mytilini, Lesvos: Solidarity gathering blocks and prevents the deportation of 62 migrants

The following news comes from Mytilini, where a NoBorders Camp is set to take place on August 25-31. In the bosses’ world, we are all foreigners.

A participant’s account, from Athens IMC

At the Thursday’s dawn, at around 2am, the ferry from Mytilini to Kavala had been planned to deport 62 migrants-refugees from the Detention Centre in Pagani. Their destination was other detention centres in mainland Northern Greece with their likely immediate deportation from there to their countries of origin, countries at war and with non-existent respect of elementary, given for us, human rights. The transfer was attempted with a municipal bus, in which the migrants were “loaded up” handcuffed, accompanied by police cars and undercover cops.

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Arturo Brachetti: "Surrealist" Quick Change Show (1989)

Arturo Brachetti, the greatest quick change artist in the world, plays his own quick-change version of the most famous surrealist masterpieces.

Musical Innerlube: The Aquabats - 'Fashion Zombies'

"Breaking the Silence:" Testimonies of Israeli soldiers - by Stephen Lendman

"Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers that collects anonymous testimonies of soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories during the Second Intifada." They recount experiences that deeply affected them, including abusing Palestinians, looting, destroying property, and other practices "excused as military necessities, or explained as extreme and unique cases."

They believe otherwise in describing "the depth of corruption which is spreading in the Israeli military" to which Israeli society and most Western observers turn a blind eye. "Breaking the Silence" was established to force an uncomfortable reality into the open to "demand accountability regarding Israel's military actions in the Occupied Territories perpetrated by us in our name."

Its new booklet features 54 damning testimonies from 30 Israeli soldiers on their experiences in Operation Cast Lead. They recount what official media and government sources suppressed with comments like:

"You feel like an infantile little kid with a magnifying glass looking at ants, burning them."

Another referred to "not much said about the issue of innocent civilians." Anyone and anything were fair game, and laws of war went out the window.

They explained wanton destruction, crops uprooted, human slaughter, women and children killed in cold blood, illegal weapons used, free-fire orders to shoot to kill anywhere at anything that moved, and using civilians as human shields.

Israeli commanders refuted their accounts as groundless, but B'Tselem reported that the military "refused to open serious, impartial investigations," even when provided with detailed information, including victims' names, exact dates, and precise locations of incidents.

On its own, B'Tselem collected testimonies from Gaza residents in which 70 Palestinian civilians were killed, over half of them children. Israeli military sources were unresponsive, except to acknowledge receipt of some information, nothing more or that a serious investigation would be conducted. It never was.

Anonymous Testimonies to Protect Soldiers from Recriminations - First From Earlier Operations

A Nachal unit first sergeant recounted Israeli tanks entering a West Bank village and crushing a car beneath the treads. "Yes, I saw it from the APC we were in. I peeped out. Suddenly we heard a car being crushed....I can't understand why a tank should run over a car when the road's open." It wasn't an isolated incident. It happens often, wanton destruction for its own sake.

He also said that "When we got back from that operation, we had loot so to speak. There were IDs confiscated, uniforms, Kalachnikovs. For army intelligence."

A Nachal elite unit first sergeant said missions were explicitly intended to harass people. Homes were entered, arrests made. "At various points while closing in on a house there are varying open-fire instructions. When the whole house is surrounded, crews placed all around it, the guy who runs out of the house is considered an 'escaper' and must be stopped. If he exits running in a suspect manner (he) must be shot (and) kill(ed). Shot to be stopped: in other words, shoot to kill."

When entering villages, armed Palestinian policemen "at certain points in time....were considered enemy troops (so) we had to shoot to kill if we saw any." Orders were to shoot when in doubt. In describing the atmosphere and command orders, they were "Kill, kill, kill, kill. We want to see bodies."

He explained his anti-terrorism training saying: "Terrorist in sight, that's what it's called, when you run into them. It's some sort of code. It used to be 'hostages.' So you reach the terrorist, you confirm the kill. You don't confirm the kill, you confirm the guy has been 'neutralized,' no chance of his getting back to you because he's been shot in the head. That's confirming he's neutralized."

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Industry cash flowed to drafters of reform

By Dan Eggen - The Washington Post
21 Jul, 2009

As liberal protesters marched outside, Sen. Max Baucus sat down inside a San Francisco mansion for a dinner of chicken cordon bleu and a discussion of landmark health-care legislation under consideration by his Senate Finance Committee.

At the table on May 26 were about 20 donors willing to fork over $10,000 or more to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, including executives of major insurance companies, hospitals and other health-care firms.

"Most people there had an agenda; they wanted the ear of a senator, and they got it," said Aaron Roland, a San Francisco health-care activist who paid half price to attend the gathering. "Money gets you in the door. The only thing the other side can do is march around and protest outside."

As his committee has taken center stage in the battle over health-care reform, Chairman Baucus (D-Mont.) has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage. Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus's political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008, when he began holding hearings and making preparations for this year's reform debate.

Top health executives and lobbyists have continued to flock to the senator's often extravagant fundraising events in recent months. During a Senate break in late June, for example, Baucus held his 10th annual fly-fishing and golfing weekend in Big Sky, Mont., for a minimum donation of $2,500. Later this month comes "Camp Baucus," a "trip for the whole family" that adds horseback riding and hiking to the list of activities.

To avoid any appearance of favoritism, his aides say, Baucus quietly began refusing contributions from health-care political action committees after June 1. But the policy does not apply to lobbyists or corporate executives, who continued to make donations, disclosure records show.

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John Lennon - 'God'

God is a Concept by which
we measure our pain
I'll say it again
God is a Concept by which
we measure our pain
I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in Kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me...and that reality

The dream is over
What can I say?
the Dream is Over
I was the Dreamweaver
But now I'm reborn
I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
and so dear friends
you'll just have to carry on
The Dream is over

The question: Should we believe in belief?

The folly of pretence

By Daniel Dennett - The Guardian
16 Jul, 2009

As I explain in the chapter by that title in Breaking the Spell, "belief in belief" is a common phenomenon not restricted to religions. Economists realise that a sound currency depends on people believing that the currency is sound, and scientists recognise that the actual objectivity of scientific studies on global warming is politically impotent unless people believe in that objectivity, so economists and scientists (among others) take steps to foster and protect such beliefs that they think are benign. That's acting on belief in belief.

Sometimes the maintenance of a belief is deemed so important that impressive systems of propaganda are erected and vigorously defended by people who do not in fact share the belief that they think is so important for society to endorse. For instance, imbecile monarchs have been kept on their thrones by widespread conspiracies of oblivion and deception when it has been deemed too socially disruptive to confirm to the populace what everybody suspects: the king is an idiot.

Religion offers an extreme case of this. Today one of the most insistent forces arrayed in opposition to us vocal atheists is the "I'm an atheist but" crowd, who publicly deplore our "hostility", our "rudeness" (which is actually just candour), while privately admitting that we're right. They don't themselves believe in God, but they certainly do believe in belief in God.

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Surveillance over Europe

Britain has quietly become the most spied-upon nation in Europe. How? Why? And does it matter? Charles Nevin goes to Manchester, London, Berlin and Bucharest to compare, contrast and discuss ...

From INTELLIGENT LIFE Magazine, Summer 2009

Spring sunshine in Bucharest’s Piata Revolutiei is tempered by the chill. It is not a day to linger. No one is musing over the memorials, or pondering the balcony where, 20 years ago, a camera caught, for the first time, the exact moment when fear flashed across the face of a dictator as he realised the jig was up.

The years since the fall and execution of Nicolae Ceausescu have not been easy for Romania. The years before under that autarkic megalomaniac left much catching up to do. There has been some success, notably achieving membership of the European Union. And the sight of neatly parked cars in Piata Revolutiei rather than 80,000 chanting protesters proclaims that most cherished human state, normality. Romania, however, still lags behind its western friends in one important growth area of European activity: state surveillance. And it is way behind Britain, whose people are now judged the most intruded upon in Europe.

The Palatul Parlamentului was built by Ceausescu, when it was known by the people as Casa Nebunului (the Madman’s House). With 1,100 rooms, it is the world’s biggest government building, after the Pentagon; one day in March some students from the London School of Economics were being shown round. The Palatul, built in a style best described as Corinthian-Wimpey-Tyrannical, now houses the Romanian parliament, and is still half-empty. The LSE group, recovering afterwards from marble and chandelier exposure, treated the comparison between Romania and Britain with the rigour expected of their institution, requesting the methodology used to arrive at the findings, which, by a fine coincidence, were researched by Privacy International, an independent surveillance watchdog run by an LSE academic, Simon Davies. The measures used are based on protection and enforcement of privacy. Romania gained credit for its safeguards; Britain had the worst result in Europe, falling into the category of “endemic surveillance societies” alongside Russia and China.

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In search for intelligence, a silicon brain twitches

By Gautam Naik - The Wall Street Journal
14 Jul, 2009

For the last four years, Henry Markram has been building a biologically accurate artificial brain. Powered by a supercomputer, his software model closely mimics the activity of a vital section of a rat's gray matter.

Dubbed Blue Brain, the simulation shows some strange behavior. The artificial "cells" respond to stimuli and suddenly pulse and flash in spooky unison, a pattern that isn't programmed but emerges spontaneously.

"It's the neuronal equivalent of a Mexican wave," says Dr. Markram, referring to what happens when successive clusters of stadium spectators briefly stand and raise their arms, creating a ripple effect. Such synchronized behavior is common in flesh-and-blood brains, where it's believed to be a basic step necessary for decision making. But when it arises in an artificial system, it's more surprising.

Blue Brain is based at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. The project hopes to tackle one of the most perplexing mysteries of neuroscience: How does human intelligence emerge? The Blue Brain scientists hope their computer model can shed light on the puzzle, and possibly even replicate intelligence in some way.

"We're building the brain from the bottom up, but in silicon," says Dr. Markram, the leader of Blue Brain, which is powered by a supercomputer provided by International Business Machines Corp. "We want to understand how the brain learns, how it perceives things, how intelligence emerges."

Blue Brain is controversial, and its success is far from assured. Christof Koch of the California Institute of Technology, a scientist who studies consciousness, says the Swiss project provides vital data about how part of the brain works. But he says that Dr. Markram's approach is still missing algorithms, the biological programming that yields higher-level functions.

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Airplanes now departing from deep in the woods

Going against the CGI effects of today, a group of artists and architects are in a remote Russian forest in the Kaluga region, some 200 kilometers south-west of Moscow, to literally take the 21st century back to nature.

The Land Art festival held in the remote Russian village of Nikola-Lenivets is all about objects made of wood and other natural materials, but this time artists decided to add a touch of techno to the exposition, pitting nature against technology. For instance, they have made an installation of an airport departures and arrivals board that even announces flights, though you cannot really board them in the middle of the woods!

“This is an artistic project of the highest quality,” said Tatyana Bokova, project coordinator from the European Commission.

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Musical Innerlube: The Creepshow - 'Zombies ate her brain'

The first video from THE CREEPSHOW's debut album "Sell Your Soul".


John Cassavetes - "Television sucks!"

In this outtake from a 1978 television interview, Cassavetes discusses his film Opening Night for a while, and builds into a terrific rant on movies and movie audiences.

Police Taser in genitals sparks investigations, brutality suit

By Nathaniel Hoffman - Boise Weekly
24 Jul, 2009

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson, told BW this week that the officer's actions were "conduct unbecoming of an officer."

"It is one of the most serious charges that an officer can face," Masterson said. "It is an offense that is very likely to lead to termination."

But the officer was not charged with any crimes nor terminated in this case and is back on the street, Masterson said.

A few days after his arrest on charges that police refuse to release, citing a pending court case, the victim of the Tasing e-mailed Boise Community Ombudsman Pierce Murphy. He recounted the disturbing use of the Taser. Murphy met with the man 10 days later and within 24 hours had notified Masterson and the City Attorney's Office that he would be investigating the incident.

"I thought there was an indication of potential criminal activity, so that's when I notified the police department," Murphy said.

His notice initiated an internal investigation, assigned to the Idaho State Police. The State Police referred their investigation to the Ada County Prosecutor's Office, which declined to charge the officer.

On Wednesday, Murphy released his 51-page report, which describes in detail the Feb. 14 incident and its aftermath.

"At the time that he was Tased on the buttocks, the Complainant was handcuffed and lying face-down on the floor. Officer #1 was holding the Complainant's head and upper torso down with a knee across his shoulders. Officer #4 was positioned near the Complainant's waist preparing to search the Complainant, and Officer #3 was situated near the Complainant's legs and feet ... Based on what he observed, Officer #2 saw no need to assist Officer #1, Officer #3, and Officer #4 in controlling the Complainant. According to Officer #1, the Complainant "mellowed out" after being handcuffed," Murphy writes.

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FKN Newz: Work then die suckers

Romulus, Remus, Stimulus: A brief history of monetary madness

By Bill Bonner - The Daily Reckoning
24 Jul, 2009

Those whom the gods would destroy are first granted stimulus. When a man wins the lottery, for example, it has a stimulating effect on everyone around him. He usually spends the money quickly – often even before he gets it. But no matter how much he wins, he is usually broke within a few years…often, even broker than he was before he bought the winning ticket.

A recent example from the British press: One of the first lottery millionaires punched a plumber and ended up in court, says The Telegraph. Michael Antonucci won 2.8 million pounds in 1995. But he “blew his entire fortune,” reported the paper last month. Now he’s reduced to stiffing tradesmen. The amount in dispute was just 400 pounds, what he was billed for a “gigantic ceiling mirror fitted above a whirlpool Jacuzzi.” He had the mirror installed when he was still flush. Now that he’s broke, he can’t pay…hence the altercation.

The phenomenon is little different when it happens on a national or even imperial scale. Any money that you don’t earn is stimulus. Without the sweat of honest toil on it, money seems to play a pernicious role in history. There are no examples – none – where it produced genuine prosperity. Instead, when a nation suddenly runs into some easy cash, it is soon spending more than it can afford…and getting into trouble.

The Roman Empire is in some measure a stimulus story. It conquered. It grew. Each conquest brought more booty…gold, silver, land and slaves. And each led to more conquests, which brought forth more booty. But the stimulus of this booty stimulated only the need for more stimulus. It did not stimulate real prosperity. Instead, it undermined it. First, slaves bought by rich landowners destroyed the free labor market and ruined small farmers. And then, imported wheat from the provinces – paid as tribute – put the large-scale farmers out of business too. Italy was then dependent on foreigners for its food.

In the first century AD, Roman conquests reached the point of diminishing returns; the stimulus came to an end. But borders still had to be protected. And Roman mobs, made up of displaced small landowners and out-of-work laborers, needed bread and circuses which drained the Treasury.

The first financial crisis of the imperial period came early. Caesar Augustus tried to solve it…with more stimulus. Neither paper money nor the printing press had yet been invented. So, Augustus increased the money supply in the only way he could; he ordered slaves in the silver mines in Spain and France to work around the clock! This extra money did not bring prosperity; it caused price inflation. In a period of about three decades, Rome’s consumer price index almost doubled. Then, when output from the mines could be increased no further, Augustus’s great nephew, Nero, found a new source of stimulus; he reduced the silver content of the coins. This source of stimulus proved ineffective, but enduring. By the time barbarians took over, the silver denarius contained almost no silver at all. Of course, Rome itself was played out too.

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The Pervert's Guide To Cinema trailer (2009)

'Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn't give you what you desire - it tells you how to desire' - Slavoj Zizek

THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA takes the viewer on an exhilarating ride through some of the greatest movies ever made. Serving as presenter and guide is the charismatic Slavoj Zizek, the Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst. With his engaging and passionate approach to thinking, Zizek delves into the hidden language of cinema, uncovering what movies can tell us about ourselves.

THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA offers an introduction into some of Zizek's most exciting ideas on fantasy, reality, sexuality, subjectivity, desire, materiality and cinematic form. Whether he is untangling the famously baffling films of David Lynch, or overturning everything you thought you knew about Hitchcock, Zizek illuminates the screen with his passion, intellect, and unfailing sense of humour. THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA applies Zizek's ideas to the cinematic canon, in what The Times calls 'an extraordinary reassessment of cinema.'

The film cuts its cloth from the very world of the movies it discusses; by shooting at original locations and on replica sets, it creates the uncanny illusion that Zizek is speaking from within the films themselves. Described by The Times as 'the woman helming this Freudian inquest,' director Sophie Fiennes' collaboration with Slavoj Zizek illustrates the immediacy with which film and television can communicate genuinely complex ideas. Says Zizek: "My big obsession is to make things clear. I can really explain a line of thought if I can somehow illustrate it in a scene from a film. THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA is really about what psychoanalysis can tell us about cinema."

About Slavoj Zizek:
Slavoj Zizek is a professor at the Institute for Sociology, Ljubljana and at the European Graduate School EGS who uses popular culture to explain the theory of Jacques Lacan and the theory of Jacques Lacan to explain politics and popular culture. He was born in 1949 in Ljubljana, Slovenia where he lives to this day but he has lectured at universities around the world. He was analysed by Jacques Alain Miller, Jacques Lacan's son in law, and is probably the most successful and prolific post-Lacanian having published over fifty books including translations into a dozen languages. He is a leftist and, aside from Lacan he was strongly influenced by Marx, Hegel and Schelling. In temperament, he resembles a revolutionist more than a theoretician. He was politically active in Slovenia during the 80s, a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Slovenia in 1990; most of his works are moral and political rather than purely theoretical. He has considerable energy and charisma and is a spellbinding lecturer in the tradition of Lacan and Kojeve.

Zizek has cast a very long shadow in what can only be termed "cultural studies" (though he would despise the characterization). He is an effective purveyor of Lacanian mischief, and, as a follower of the French "liberator" of Freud, Zizek's Lacan is almost exclusively transcribed in mesmerizing language games or intellectual parables. That he has an encyclopedic grasp of political, philosophical, literary, artistic, cinematic, and pop cultural currents — and that he has no qualms about throwing all of them into the stockpot of his imagination — is the prime reason he has dazzled his peers and confounded his critics for over ten years.

Zizek was a visiting professor at the Department of Psychoanalysis, Universite Paris-VIII in 1982-3 and 1985-6, at the Centre for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Art, SUNY Buffalo, 1991-2, at the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1992, at the Tulane University, New Orleans, 1993, at the Cardozo Law School, New York, 1994, at the Columbia University, New York, 1995, at the Princeton University (1996), at the New School for Social Research, New York, 1997, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1998, and at the Georgetown University, Washington, 1999. He is a returning faculty member of the European Graduate School. In the last 20 years Zizek has participated in over 350 international philosophical, psychoanalytical and cultural-criticism symposiums in USA, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Netherland, Island, Austria, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Brasil, Mexico, Israel, Romania, Hungary and Japan. He is the founder and president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Ljubljana.

From the European Graduate School Biography

The Mystical 7 Secret Society: A history

The beginnings of the Mystical 7, and most American college fraternities, can be traced to the influence of Freemasonry in early American society.

Freemasonic influence had peeked directly after the revolution, and a few Greek Letter societies, including Phi Beta Kappa at William and Mary in 1776, and Kappa Alpha at Union College in 1825, were formed in rough emulation of the Masonic structure.

Mystical 7: A History

by Benjamin Wyatt-Greene

The definitive “Cyclopaedia of Fraternities,” first published by Albert C. Stevens in 1907 contains a short, two-line entry: “The Mystical 7, which is now thought to be dead, was in some respects one of the most remarkable and most ambitious college societies in the country.”1 Confusion over whether the Mystical Seven Society is dead has continued for well over a century and controversy still exists as to what present-day organization represents its legitimate philosophical heir, with histories occasionally being re-interpreted and re-written to support competing claims. However the relevant fact that emerges from research is that the Mystical 7 played an active part in a number of the major philosophical and educational movements of the 19th century and spawned and influenced a number of organizations and societies, some of which continue to exist today. Records exist detailing the correspondences and inner workings of the society, but its larger historical and philosophical progression has never been objectively catalogued in any detail. It is this wider scope which I am trying to explore and I would therefore refer readers to my end notes, my bibliography, and the Wesleyan University Archives if they wish to research specific traditions and symbols within the normal functionings of the society.

The beginnings of the Mystical 7, and most American college fraternities, can be traced to the influence of Freemasonry in early American society. Freemasonic influence had peeked directly after the revolution, and a few Greek Letter societies, including Phi Beta Kappa at William and Mary in 1776, and Kappa Alpha at Union College in 1825, were formed in rough emulation of the Masonic structure.2 The pivotal Morgan incident of 1826, where a group of Freemasons were suspected of killing a member of their lodge who threatened to publish society secrets, lead to an outbreak of antimasonic propaganda and heralded in a decade of widespread suppression of masonic lodges. One of the results of this suppression was that many of the condemned masonic secrets, rituals, and structures were published for the first time in the mainstream press.3 The unintended consequence of this informational watershed was that a number of otherwise ignorant citizens became educated in and interested in exploring the traditions of Freemasonry. Chief among these interested parties were groups of students in the young and burgeoning American college system.4 The antimasonic suppression and exposition had been strongest in New York and New England, and it was accordingly in these areas that the first neo-masonic orders were founded once the ferocity of the antimasonic rhetoric began to cool in the mid 1830s.

The Mystical 7 was the first major college secret society to be formed after the Morgan Incident. It is nearly indisputable that the dearth of masonic information influenced the early formation of the Mystical 7. The writings of the early mystics make occasional reference to their “new form of masonry” and many of the early cauldron covers can be specifically matched to ritual etchings in published masonic texts.5 It is likely that the very idea of natural symbolism within the Mystic Star is derivative from masonic sources. Furthermore, it can be speculated that one major reason why Hebrew, as opposed to the more prevalent Greek, was used as the emblematic language of the society was the prevalence of Hebrew script in the higher rites of the masonic order. The masonic framework was undoubtedly a structure to which the mystics melded their philosophical and literary interests.

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Twitterers paid to spread Israeli propaganda

By Jonathan Cook - ZMag
21 Jul, 2009

Nazareth. The passionate support for Israel expressed on talkback sections of websites, internet chat forums, blogs, Twitters and Facebook may not be all that it seems.

Israel's foreign ministry is reported to be establishing a special undercover team of paid workers whose job it will be to surf the internet 24 hours a day spreading positive news about Israel.

Internet-savvy Israeli youngsters, mainly recent graduates and demobilised soldiers with language skills, are being recruited to pose as ordinary surfers while they provide the government's line on the Middle East conflict.

"To all intents and purposes the internet is a theatre in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we must be active in that theatre, otherwise we will lose," said Ilan Shturman, who is responsible for the project.

The existence of an "internet warfare team" came to light when it was included in this year's foreign ministry budget. About $150,000 has been set aside for the first stage of development, with increased funding expected next year.

The team will fall under the authority of a large department already dealing with what Israelis term "hasbara", officially translated as "public explanation" but more usually meaning propaganda. That includes not only government public relations work but more secretive dealings the ministry has with a battery of private organisations and initiatives that promote Israel's image in print, on TV and online.

In an interview this month with the Calcalist, an Israeli business newspaper, Mr Shturman, the deputy director of the ministry's hasbara department, admitted his team would be working undercover.

"Our people will not say: ‘Hello, I am from the hasbara department of the Israeli foreign ministry and I want to tell you the following.' Nor will they necessarily identify themselves as Israelis," he said. "They will speak as net-surfers and as citizens, and will write responses that will look personal but will be based on a prepared list of messages that the foreign ministry developed."

Rona Kuperboim, a columnist for Ynet, Israel's most popular news website, denounced the initiative, saying it indicated that Israel had become a "thought-police state".

She added that "good PR cannot make the reality in the occupied territories prettier. Children are being killed, homes are being bombed, and families are starved."

Her column was greeted by several talkbackers asking how they could apply for a job with the foreign ministry's team.

The project is a formalisation of public relations practices the ministry developed specifically for Israel's assault on Gaza in December and January.

"During Operation Cast Lead we appealed to Jewish communities abroad and with their help we recruited a few thousand volunteers, who were joined by Israeli volunteers," Mr Shturman said.

"We gave them background material and hasbara material, and we sent them to represent the Israeli point of view on news websites and in polls on the internet."

The Israeli army also had one of the most popular sites on the video-sharing site YouTube and regularly uploaded clips, although it was criticised by human rights groups for misleading viewers about what was shown in its footage.

Mr Shturman said that during the war the ministry had concentrated its activities on European websites where audiences were more hostile to Israeli policy. High on its list of target sites for the new project would be BBC Online and Arabic websites, he added.

Elon Gilad, who heads the internet team, told Calcalist that many people had contacted the ministry offering their services during the Gaza attack. "People just asked for information, and afterwards we saw that the information was distributed all over the internet."

He suggested that there had been widespread government cooperation, with the ministry of absorption handing over contact details for hundreds of recent immigrants to Israel, who wrote pro-Israel material for websites in their native languages.

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