Ex-opposition leader calls for 35-year-old inquiry into death of Pier Paolo Pasolini to be reopened
By Michael Day
Thirty-five years after Pier Paolo Pasolini's battered body was found on a bleak beach near Rome, the government is under pressure to reopen the inquiry into the mysterious murder of the iconoclastic film maker.
Walter Veltroni, the former leader of the opposition, has written an open letter to the Justice Minister, Angelino Alfano, asking why, despite the mass of unanswered questions, authorities have yet to make amends for an investigation that "was riddled with holes, like many others of the time".
The letter, published yesterday in Corriere della Sera, Italy's biggest daily newspaper, says recent advances in forensic science should allow investigators to finally address many of the doubts surrounding the killing in 1975 of the gay Marxist intellectual, whose films included The Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[ ... ]
After being savagely beaten, Pasolini was run over several times by his own car. Inside the vehicle, investigators found a jumper that belonged to neither the murder victim nor the 17-year-old convicted for the crime. There were also bloody fingerprints that were not checked.
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Because He Knew: Reopening Pasolini's Case
L'assassinat de Pier Paolo Pasolini agite toujours l'Italie
Friday, July 23, 2010
Ex-opposition leader calls for 35-year-old inquiry into death of Pier Paolo Pasolini to be reopened
Jean-François Brient: On modern servitude
“Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the blind. “
King Lear, Act IV, scene 1, William Shakespeare
Modern servitude is voluntary, endorsed by those slaves who crawl on the surface of the Earth. They buy the merchandises that enslave them every day more. Slaves run after alienating jobs that are gently given to them if they prove to be tamed enough. They choose the masters they will obey. For this absurd tragedy to happen, it has been necessary to dispossess slaves from the awareness of their own exploitation and their alienation. Here is the bizarre modernity of our time. Contrary to slaves from antiquity, servants from the Middle Ages or the working-class from the first industrial revolutions, today we are contemplating people that are totally enslaved. The difference is that they are unaware of their enslavement and those who are aware, choose to ignore it. They ignore rebellion which should be the only genuine reaction of the exploited ones. Slaves accept without question the pitiful life that was planned for them. Renouncing and resignation are the sources of their misfortune.
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By Steve Watson, Prisonplanet
The ongoing saga with Google censorship has continued today as it emerged that once again the search engine giant removed a key term from it’s trends pages.
Alex Jones yesterday asked his readers and listeners to send the term ‘Google spies’ to the top of the trends charts in the latest effort to fight back against the company’s censorship of his films on YouTube.
The term related to a story we prepared detailing how Google is intimately linked with U.S. intelligence and has a history of censorship and surveillance.
Within a short time the term had hit the top spot with the “volcanic” status added (see below – click for enlargement).
As you can see, the effect of the term being pushed to the top of the trends charts is that bloggers and journalists pick up the story and begin to document it. A snowball effect ensues and millions of people all over the world are more likely to be directed toward the story.
However, within half an hour the term had been completely removed by Google and resulted in no news story links. These actions replicated Google’s activity in the days beforehand when it removed other terms such as ‘The Obama Deception’, ‘Infowars’, ‘Fall of the Republic’ and ‘Google Censorship’ – which had all become some of the most searched topics on the internet.
This is the epicentre of the infowar. Events over the past couple of days have shown that you, our readers, have the power to take the issues we cover and literally make them the widest read items on the internet.
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In 2007, veteran journalist Michael Richardson began writing a series of articles for OpEdNews.com about Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, who are two Black Panther political prisoners known as the Omaha Two. Richardson argues that they were framed for the 1970 murder of a policeman as part of the FBI's notorious counterintelligence program, dubbed “COINTELPRO.” This top-secret and illegal operation was a dirty war on the entire US Left, including the civil rights & Black liberation movements.
Illustrating this program's intent, a March 3, 1968 COINTELPRO memo discussed the need to stop "the beginning of a true black revolution," and to "prevent the rise of a 'messiah' who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement… Through counterintelligence it should be possible to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them." Another stated goal was "to prevent the long-range growth of militant black nationalist organizations, especially among youth. Specific tactics to prevent these groups from converting young people must be developed." One specific tactical approach was expressed in an April 3, 1968 communiqué arguing that "The Negro youth and moderates must be made to understand that if they succumb to revolutionary teaching, they will be dead revolutionaries."
In terms of scale, the FBI's war of repression against the Black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s was greatest against the Black Panthers. Many Panthers, like Chicago leader Fred Hampton, were assassinated outright, while others were framed for murders they did not commit. A few of these Panthers, like Geronimo Ji Jaga and Dhoruba Bin Wahad, had their convictions overturned and were released, but many of the COINTELPRO survivors remain in prison today.
In addressing why the Panthers were targeted so intensely by COINTELPRO, Noam Chomsky wrote in 1973: "A top secret Special Report for the president in June 1970 gives some insight into the motivations for the actions undertaken by the government to destroy the Black Panther Party. The report describes the party as 'the most active and dangerous black extremist group in the United States.' Its 'hard core members' were estimated at 800, but 'a recent poll indicates that approximately 25 percent of the black population has a great respect for the BPP, including 43 percent of blacks under 21 years of age.' On the basis of such estimates of the potential of the party, the repressive apparatus of the state proceeded against it to ensure that it did not succeed in organizing as a substantial social or political force."
Michael Richardson is now working on a book about the Omaha Two and an archive of his definitive OpEdNews.com series about the case is available here. This year, he began a new series of articles at Examiner.com, exploring the broader history of COINTELPRO, along with a continued focus on the Omaha Two, viewable here.
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A music clip starring recyclable materials!
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.
These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
The investigation's other findings include:
* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.
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So desperate was one man to conceal his identity that he began biting his fingers and drawing blood while being booked.
Some have used eyedroppers filled with acid or pressed their fingers onto burning metal to blot their fingerprints. Others have spent thousands of dollars to hire shady doctors to surgically alter their fingertips, hoping to scar them beyond recognition.
The numbers are still relatively small, but in the past decade, State Police detectives say they have seen a sevenfold spike in people arrested with mutilated fingertips, a disturbing trend they said reflects dire efforts to evade the harsher punishments that come with multiple arrests, to avoid deportation, or to fool the increasingly sophisticated computers that do most fingerprint checks.
Since 2002, when State Police started to keep count of suspects with deliberately scarred fingerprints, they have recorded 72 arrests, 20 of which occurred last year. There were just three when they began keeping records.
“It's definitely an increasing phenomenon,'' said Detective Lieutenant Kenneth Martin, commanding officer of the State Police division that oversees fingerprint analysis of crime scenes. “We've seen it all: self-inflicted mutilation, surgical efforts to cut out the core of fingers, and having the skin stitched back in strange ways.''
In the last month, federal and local officers in the area have made multiple arrests in three separate cases involving people who sought to hide their identity by trying to erase their fingerprints.
While authorities have had some recent successes in identifying those with mutilated fingerprints, most have not been identified. Indeed, of the recorded arrests this decade in Massachusetts, only 17 percent were positively identified by matching their scuffed fingerprints with previously recorded prints.
Moreover, detectives suspect they are missing many others who may have been recorded as new fingerprints by the state's computer system, which receives on average about 700 fingerprint cards a day from some 360 law enforcement agencies around the state.
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From a statement posted by Dr. Len Horowitz:
"... INCEPTION MOVIE TRAILER GETS 528 SPIN WITH LAUNCH OF i528TUNES.com
The INCEPTION movie and trailers breaking box office and Internet records has just gotten some competition. i528Tunes.com (528INCEPTION.com) has posted a YouTube thriller that helps explain what the film is about and what the 528 code really means.
The INCEPTION movie is a "psychological thriller" earning Warner Bros and Legacy Pictures megabucks, and writer/director Christopher Nolan, worldwide acclaim for his creative genius. Part of the appeal that has viewers returning for second, and even third, screenings is the complex plot and extensive psychobabble that includes a code "528-491" that infers more than a dumb film-maker's idea of a bad joke.
Curiously, the movie's release is synchronously timed with the launch of i528Tunes.com, a music transposition website as revolutionary as Nolan's complex film, and developed for precisely the same subject matter as the film presents, including the human drive for love and awareness in a world controlled by war-making energy industrialists.
Although Nolan may claim his intuitive genius selected the important 528 "upper room" INCEPTION code, there is substantial evidence he acquired the taste for 528 from the numerous publications and promotions of Dr. Leonard Horowitz, a lesser award-winning author and filmmaker whose pioneering research has has clearly influenced Hollywood screenwriters and beyond.
Voted "World Leading Intellectual" by officials of the World Organization for Natural Medicine, Dr. Horowitz began making 528 a household word back in 1998 with the publication of his eleventh book, Healing Codes for the Biological Apocalypse. (Tetrahedron Press; 1-888-508-4787), that became his second of three American bestsellers. The book disclosed the original Solfeggio musical scale, secreted form more than a thousand years, containing the third note, "MI" short for "MIracles," with the tone frequent of 528Hertz (cycles per second.) Since that time, musicians worldwide have increasing questioned the Western World's standard instrument tuning (A=440Hz) began a revolution of "tuning up" to A=444Hz, which is the equivalent to the ancient C(5)=528 that Nolan selected for fame through INCEPTION.
According to Horowitz, i528Tunes.com provides the first music transposition capability being run entirely by donation to change the world's music to "that warm fuzzy feeling you have in your heart when you are in love," he says. The Harvard-trained public health expert in emerging diseases and natural healing also contends the concept for this invention evolved along with his decryption of the real da Vinci code. As published in, LOVE The Real da Vinci CODE (Tetrahedron Press, 2007), Horowitz shares that 528 is fundamental to nine "core creative frequencies" in a "Perfect Circle of Sound (TM), that makes up the "musical mathematical matrix of the universe."
In other words, whereas Nolan used music and water to "kick" characters out of their subconscious dream states, Horowitz uses 528 and water to Baptize people out of their Divine disconnects.
Dr. Horowitz responds here to INCEPTION by way of an open invitation to Nolan and everyone worldwide to enjoy this "528 INCEPTION MOVIE TRAILER" that delivers expanded meaning to Nolan's film.
Because this honest expanded version of the INCEPTION TRAILER whacks Rupert Murdoch, Warner Bros., and his buddies at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan CHASE for their destructive "crisis capitalism;" and here Google/YouTube control is also controlled by Murdoch, Dr. Horowitz requests others to post this TRAILER liberally across the Internet to increase "views." Dr. Horowitz's "view" numbers have been repeatedly suppressed by YouTube/Google corporate. ..."
From Free Range Studio and "The Story of Stuff" comes the newest video: The Story of Cosmetics! It exposes the toxic chemicals used in everyday cosmetics and the failure of the FDA to regulate these chemicals.
Friday, July 16, 2010
The US needs to adjust its defense capabilities to 21st century, population centric conflicts, according to a new think tank report, Peter A Buxbaum writes for ISN Security Watch.
In the 2009 Academy Award-winning movie The Hurt Locker, a Baghdad butcher holds a cell phone as he stands near the site of an improvised explosive device (IED). A squad of US soldiers shouts at the Iraqi to put the phone down. He smiles and waves, reassuring the soldiers he is not a threat. Then he presses a button on the cell phone and detonates a bomb, killing one of the soldiers.
Such an incident would be rare, according to the authors of a new report from the National Strategy Information Center, a Washington-based think tank, if their recommendations were to be implemented by the US military.
The report, titled Adapting America's Security Paradigm and Security Agenda, posits that the population-centric warfare being pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq is here to stay for decades to come, and that the US needs to adapt its military thinking and its capabilities to meet that challenge.
The risk of an incident portrayed in The Hurt Locker could have been mitigated, according to the report, by achieving intelligence dominance, a technique originally developed by the British during World War II, and since also practiced by Israelis, Australians and others.
Information dominance involves developing deep local knowledge by assigning agents or operatives to relatively small geographical areas of responsibility. The report argues that the US needs to develop this kind of capability together with its host nation partners in current and future population-centric conflicts.
Intelligence dominance is not unknown to the US. A secretive Department of Defense program called Legacy recently received enhanced funding by the House of Representatives in its fiscal year 2011 defense authorization act. "Legacy assisted with the development of an indigenous capacity to infiltrate and disrupt local terrorist networks," noted a report on the legislation, released in May by the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.
But the committee also commented, "many innovative programs for mapping complex and social landscapes, understanding relationships among key actors in insurgencies, identifying the key goals of marginalized groups that could lead them to be recruited by terrorists, and integrating approaches to reduce the appeal of terrorist groups have failed in the past for lack of institutionalized support."
It is just such institutionalized support that the National Strategy Information Center is advocating in its report. "The US did much of this in a very effective but ad hoc fashion in Iraq, before and during the surge in 2006 and 2007," said the NSIC report.
The persistence of population-centric warfare is related to the proliferation of weak, failing and failed states, Roy Godson, president of the National Strategy Information Center and professor emeritus at Georgetown University, told ISN Security Watch. States in that category comprise around half of all states worldwide, he said.
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From Liberación Total (June 17, 2010):
On April 10, 2010, the Anti-terrorist Department of the Greek Police arrested six people in Athens: Nikos Maziotis, Panagiota “Pola” Roupa, Kostas Gournas, Vaggelis Stathopoulos, Sarandos Nikitopoulos, and Christoforos Kortesis. All were known for their long presence in the anarchist/anti-authoritarian movement. Two weeks later, Maziotis, Roupa, and Gournas admitted to participating in the organization known as Revolutionary Struggle (Epanastatikos Agonas). Stathopoulos, Nikitopoulos, and Kortesis denied the charges and stated that they were being persecuted for their years of anarchist activity and their comradely political relationships with the others.
The following is the complete declaration of the Revolutionary Struggle Three:
A POLITICAL LETTER TO SOCIETY
We are taking responsibility for our participation in Revolutionary Struggle. We declare that comrade Lambros Foundas, who died in Dafni on March 10, 2010 after a battle with the police, also participated in Revolutionary Struggle. The battle was part of the subversive project decided on collectively by Revolutionary Struggle. It was a battle for revolution and freedom.
We also declare that we are very proud of our Revolutionary Struggle organization. We are proud of our history and of each moment of our political activity. We are proud of our comrade, whom we honor and will always honor.
And if the mechanisms of repression believe that imprisoning us will finish us off politically, they are wrong. Whether inside or outside prison, for us the struggle is and will continue to be a question of honor and dignity.
And if the terrorists Papandreou and Chrysohoidis are laughing (in vain) about our arrests; if they believe they have thus guaranteed the necessary security for their social-fascist party to easily continue imposing their criminal projects on society, wagging their tails to please their American masters; if they are hoping they have eliminated a serious threat to their regime, we assure them that it will not be so easy to do away with us.
While we live and breathe, we will do everything possible to cause trouble for their antisocial, criminal projects.
And if our persecutors and this country's political establishment believe they have all of society on their side, if they believe most people see us as a “social threat,” then they are wrong. To the majority, the social threat is represented by the government, which passes one package of antisocial measures after another according to the recommendations of the “vultures” of Capital, who “grease” the State machinery so it functions smoothly. Terrorism is the neoliberal policy imposed for years by the parties in power and supported or tolerated by the smaller parties. Terrorism is the application of the “stability program.” Significant parts of the population—until now paralyzed by fear—are watching an unprecedented attack being launched against them, an attack still in its development phase.
Terrorism is not having the basics for survival. It's having your wages and your pension cut. It's having your house seized by some bank. It's being surrounded by deadly pollution. Terrorism is living under a regime of daily fear for your survival.
To most of society, the terrorists and criminals are those who govern: the regime's politicians, the rich, and the privileged castes, who exploit the workers and prosper by simply participating in the economic and political establishment. The enemies of society are those who—after years of stealing, getting rich, and taking advantage of a barbaric and grossly unjust system—are asking us to donate our blood in order to save the life of the regime's putrid corpse now that the system is going through the biggest crisis in its history.
When the social-fascists in power claim to have the popular mandate to apply these policies, they provoke even more social indignation. In addition, they have already lost their legitimacy because no one has forgotten how PASOK extensively cheated broad strata of society during its election campaign. This is the same PASOK that took power by pure deception during the last election; lied about the so-called “redistribution policy” it supposedly wanted to apply, which was to benefit the poor; and lied when it promised salary and pension increases and a way out of the crisis, quickly and without undue aggravation.
They lied without knowing the country's real financial situation, they lied about the state of the economy and its potential, and they lied in order to supposedly obtain the needed funds from privileged people. They stole power like liars, like vermin, like frauds. If they had revealed even the smallest part of their project before the election, they would now not only be out of the government but also out of parliament. The social consensus they are calling for is a monstrous lie provoking fierce social rage.
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By Alex Steffen
Bruce Nussbaum has stirred up a fierce debate with his new article Is Humanitarian Design the New Imperialism?. Nussbaum criticizes groups like Project H, Acumen Fund and Architecture for Humanity for being perhaps naive about the post-colonial landscape they face in Asia and Africa:
Is the new humanitarian design coming out of the U.S. and Europe being perceived through post-colonial eyes as colonialism? Are the American and European designers presuming too much in their attempt to do good?
What's more, Nussbaum says, we ought to be focusing our efforts closer to home: "And finally, one last question: why are we only doing humanitarian design in Asia and Africa and not Native American reservations or rural areas, where standards of education, water and health match the very worst overseas?"
Of course, Emily Pilloton of Project H has shot right back, saying it is Nussbaum himself who is out of touch with the younger generation of humanitarian designers, designers who are well-aware of the cultural and political landscapes in which they're working, and are in fact increasingly focused on problems closer to home:
It is only through this local engagement and shared investment that the humanitarian design process shines. It is through this personal connection to place and people that the human qualities of design rise to the top of the priority list, through which our clients are no longer beneficiaries, but experts and co-designers right there with us. In his infamous address titled “To Hell With Good Intentions,” Ivan Illich puts this beautifully: 'If you have any sense of responsibility at all, stay with your riots here at home...You will know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how to communicate with those to whom you speak. And you will know when you fail. If you insist on working with the poor, if this is your vocation, then at least work among the poor who can tell you to go to hell.' We all have to learn how to be citizens again: citizens first, and designers second. Citizenship is inherently local, defined by our connection and commitment to the places we best know and most love.
In the last few days, there have been different takes on this debate from leading thinkers like Cameron Sinclair, Susan Szenasy and Robert Fabricant. Now, I have conflicts of interest all over the place here -- Emily and Cameron are friends, I've sat on a panel and shared ideas with Susan, and Worldchanging's discussing a project with Frog Design -- so I'm not going to take sides, but I find the conversation extremely encouraging.
That said, some things are missing here, I think. In particular, the whole discussion has glanced over two critical realities: the scope, scale and speed of the planetary crisis we face, and the profoundly unequal distribution of access that exists to tools of innovation globally. I don't have time to write a proper essay today, but I'd like to share a few thoughts.
Most of us in the Global North are out of touch with the scope, scale and speed of the problems we face. We live in a global civilization that can measure its life expectancy in decades if it continues to operate as it does today. We know that we're straying beyond a series of non-negotiable ecological boundaries (the most obvious being the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere). The predicted consequences are profound in a way that's difficult to fully grasp, but could well involve the complete collapse of large portions of human society and almost unimaginable suffering and destruction.
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A new study claims that a friendly environment and socially active lifestyle could be the key to inhibiting cancer [abnormal cells that divide without control, which can invade nearby tissues or spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body] growth.
According to researchers, ongoing tensions can have a detrimental effect on the treatment process, with tumors taking longer to shrink when one is a social recluse or too stressed out.
Experts theorize that isolation depresses the immune system [complex network of specialized cells and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by ] and prolongs the recovery of a patient.
In contrast, keeping a positive mental attitude and a socially active life could be conducive in battling the lethal disease.
Neuroscientist, Matthew During of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, who led the study stated, "The goal isn't to minimize stress, but to live a richer life, socially and physically. You want to be challenged.
"Traditionally working on the area of lifestyle and the brain has been a 'soft area'. This paper really suggests if we look at people more in terms of their perceptions of disease, their social interactions and environment, we could realize a profound influence on cancer [abnormal cells that divide without control, which can invade nearby tissues or spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body. ] .”
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Previously considered to be among the regime's most important assets, the North Korean People's Army has always been well provisioned in order to ensure the troops remain loyal.
But a poor harvest and the disastrous revaluation of the North Korean currency in November of last year has worsened the nation's already dire economic straits.
Defectors have claimed that they were required to survive on noodles made of ground corn and that meat or fish were a luxury, a journalist for Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported from the Chinese city of Shenyang.
On one stretch of the border, Chinese troops apprehended five North Korean soldiers in May alone. Prior to the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March, allegedly by a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine, it was rare for troops to be taken into custody on the Chinese side of the Yalu River.
The defectors have claimed that senior members of the party and the armed forces were stockpiling provisions, another indication that the regime is steeling itself for a military confrontation.
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There are growing signs that Russia's relations with NATO are on the mend. Senior Russian thinkers, some close to the government, have been cautiously talking up the possibility of Russia joining the alliance, as have several western officials and think-tanks (including the CER.) While some powerful forces in Russia continue to view NATO as a hostile force, the latest signs from Moscow are encouraging. But even assuming that the more pro-western forces within Russia prevail, membership of NATO will remain at best a long-term goal. In the short and medium term, Russia and NATO need to put considerable effort into reducing mistrust.
A group of prominent Russian thinkers recently invited their western counterparts to talk about the possibility of Russia joining NATO. What prompted this initiative is not obvious, but the atmospherics have clearly changed. Russia is being nicer to its neighbours, while a number of European countries – including those in Central and Eastern Europe – are being nicer to Moscow. NATO has effectively put enlargement on hold. Barack Obama's 'reset' seems to be changing attitudes on all sides. The challenge before Russia and NATO is to try to turn this opportunity into a lasting improvement in relations.
The allies are not of one mind on the subject of Russian membership of the alliance. But conversations with NATO officials and diplomats suggest that NATO could be ready by its November summit to offer Moscow the possibility of joining, if and when the latter meets accession criteria. With additional persuasion – though this is more questionable – NATO may even create a special accession track for Russia, different from the one NATO used for previous candidates, so that Moscow feels that it is being treated like a great power. But the allies' bottom line is that, one way or another, Moscow will need to adopt many of NATO's norms, including those on democracy and transparency, before it can become a member.
Those Russians who want to explore the possibility of accession seem to have a different approach in mind. They are looking for a bargain of sorts with NATO. The alliance would promise not to enlarge eastward or arm regimes deemed unfriendly by Russia. Moscow would gain a veto over alliance decisions on matters which may affect Russia. In exchange, NATO would get better co-operation from Russia on things like missile defence or Afghanistan. NATO's rules or norms do not seem to be a part of the bargain. Tellingly, few Russians use the term 'membership' with regard to NATO. They talk either of 'integration' or 'organisational unity'. The former implies that both sides adopt some of the other side's rules; the latter implies that neither side compromises internally. Either model is distant from what NATO has in mind.
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Previously secret papers show true extent of involvement in abduction and torture following al-Qaida attacks of 2001
The true extent of the Labour government's involvement in the illegal abduction and torture of its own citizens after the al-Qaida attacks of September 2001 has been spelled out in stark detail with the disclosure during high court proceedings of a mass of highly classified documents.
Previously secret papers that have been disclosed include a number implicating Tony Blair's office in many of the events that are to be the subject of the judicial inquiry that David Cameron announced last week.
Among the most damning documents are a series of interrogation reports from MI5 officers that betray their disregard for the suffering of a British resident whom they were questioning at a US airbase in Afghanistan. The documents also show that the officers were content to see the mistreatment continue.
One of the most startling documents is chapter 32 of MI6's general procedural manual, entitled "Detainees and Detention Operations", which advises officers that among the "particular sensitivities" they need to consider before becoming directly involved in an operation to detain a terrorism suspect is the question of whether "detention, rather than killing, is the objective of the operation".
Other disclosed documents show how:
• The Foreign Office decided in January 2002 that the transfer of British citizens from Afghanistan to Guantánamo was its "preferred option".
• Jack Straw asked for that rendition to be delayed until MI5 had been able to interrogate those citizens.
• Downing Street was said to have overruled FO attempts to provide a British citizen detained in Zambia with consular support in an attempt to prevent his return to the UK, with the result that he too was "rendered" to Guantánamo.
The papers have been disclosed as a result of civil proceedings brought by six former Guantánamo inmates against MI5 and MI6, the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and the Attorney General's Office, which they allege were complicit in their illegal detention and torture.
The government has been responding to disclosure requests by maintaining that it has identified up to 500,000 documents that may be relevant, and says it has deployed 60 lawyers to scrutinise them, a process that it suggests could take until the end of the decade. It has failed to hand over many of the documents that the men's lawyers have asked for, and on Friday failed to meet a deadline imposed by the high court for the disclosure of the secret interrogation policy that governed MI5 and MI6 officers between 2004 and earlier this year.
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I was a dedicated scientist about to begin a PhD in neuroscience when, out of the blue, homeopathy bit me on the proverbial bottom.
Science had been my passion since I began studying biology with Mr Hopkinson at the age of 11, and by the age of 21, when I attended the dinner party that altered the course of my life, I had still barely heard of it. The idea that I would one day become a homeopath would have seemed ludicrous.
That turning point is etched in my mind. A woman I'd known my entire life told me that a homeopath had successfully treated her when many months of conventional treatment had failed. As a sceptic, I scoffed, but was nonetheless a little intrigued.
She confessed that despite thinking homeopathy was a load of rubbish, she'd finally agreed to an appointment, to stop her daughter nagging. But she was genuinely shocked to find that, after one little pill, within days she felt significantly better. A second tablet, she said, "saw it off completely".
I admit I ruined that dinner party. I interrogated her about every detail of her diagnosis, previous treatment, time scales, the lot. I thought it through logically – she was intelligent, she wasn't lying, she had no previous inclination towards alternative medicine, and her reluctance would have diminished any placebo effect.
Scientists are supposed to make unprejudiced observations, then draw conclusions. As I thought about this, I was left with the highly uncomfortable conclusion that homeopathy appeared to have worked. I had to find out more.
So, I started reading about homeopathy, and what I discovered shifted my world for ever. I became convinced enough to hand my coveted PhD studentship over to my best friend and sign on for a three-year, full-time homeopathy training course.
Now, as an experienced homeopath, it is "science" that is biting me on the bottom. I know homeopathy works, not only because I've seen it with my own eyes countless times, but because scientific research confirms it. And yet I keep reading reports in the media saying that homeopathy doesn't work and that this scientific evidence doesn't exist.
The facts, it seems, are being ignored. By the end of 2009, 142 randomised control trials (the gold standard in medical research) comparing homeopathy with placebo or conventional treatment had been published in peer-reviewed journals – 74 were able to draw firm conclusions: 63 were positive for homeopathy and 11 were negative. Five major systematic reviews have also been carried out to analyse the balance of evidence from RCTs of homeopathy – four were positive (Kleijnen, J, et al; Linde, K, et al; Linde, K, et al; Cucherat, M, et al) and one was negative (Shang, A et al). It's usual to get mixed results when you look at a wide range of research results on one subject, and if these results were from trials measuring the efficacy of "normal" conventional drugs, ratios of 63:11 and 4:1 in favour of a treatment working would be considered pretty persuasive.
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The concerted and biased attempts to destroy Allegros discoveries have failed. The confirmatory evidence is mounting in his favor. The critics can now raise their voices again. Let us hope that they do, since the matter is not settled, but they should be advised to do so with more careful consideration. This book that many have prized in secret is now available again. It demands the serious consideration of theologians, mythologists, and students of religion. No account of the history of the Church, both West and East, can afford to leave the poor despicable fungus unconsidered, nor the role that entheogens in general have played in the evolution of European civilization.
~ Professor Carl A. P. Ruck, Boston University.
The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross 40th Anniversary Edition: http://www.gnosticmedia.com/
By Rachel McAthy
An free online learning centre has been launched by the International Center for Journalists to to give students around the world access to journalism training.
ICFJ Anywhere will offer a range of courses, looking at topics such as digital journalism, how to cover social issues, and international coverage of religion and investigative reporting, with specific geographical needs taken into account.
Topics will either be self-taught, or led by instructors, who will teach the classes in local languages, with daily translations from foreign participants.
In a release, the ICFJ say the move will "encourage discussions and debate."
"ICFJ Anywhere allows us to train in countries where it's difficult to send instructors," ICFJ president Joyce Barnathan says in a release. "Now there are no limits to where we can work."
The website is funded by the United States Institute of Peace, along with sponsorship from the Aljazeera Media Training and Development Center, Carnegie Corporation of New York, McCormick Foundation, the McGraw-Hill Companies, and the National Endowment for Democracy.
The ICFJ say since offering their first online course in 2008, more than 1,500 people have taken 55 courses in seven languages.
Courses are available in a variety of languages including English, Arabic, Persian, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and French.
~ Journalism.co.uk ~
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Starring Loukanikos The Riot Dog
As reported by The Moscow Times:
Italian bloggers buzzed about mysterious graffiti that appeared on the walls of an ancient church in Rome, trying to decrypt its "occult" messages — only to discover that it was a regular “I love you” inscription in Russian.
The graffiti, painted in dark orange, appeared late Friday on the outer walls of Santa Scala, a famous pilgrim attraction whose stairs, brought to Rome in the 4th century, are believed to have been trodden by Jesus.
Police suspected that the “incomprehensible” words in a “foreign language” were insults aimed at Pope Benedict XVI, Italian news web site Ansa reported.
Some bloggers speculated that the phrase, which was said to feature combinations of letters and numbers, were codes for Bible passages.
Rome Mayor Giovanni Alemanno criticized the graffiti as "another act of imbeciles seeking media exposure" and expressed solidarity with the pontiff, Ansa reported.
Officials did not reveal the message, which was removed immediately.
But a photograph of the graffiti later surfaced that showed that the phrase was in Russian and read, "I love you, Vera. Vanya."
Investigators said they were looking for the vandal, who was filmed in the act by several witnesses but managed to flee before police arrived, the La Repubblica daily reported.
It is called Spot and Shoot. Operators sit in front of a TV monitor from which they can control the action with a PlayStation-style joystick.
The aim: to kill.
Played by: young women serving in the Israeli army.
Spot and Shoot, as it is called by the Israeli military, may look like a video game but the figures on the screen are real people – Palestinians in Gaza – who can be killed with the press of a button on the joystick.
The female soldiers, located far away in an operations room, are responsible for aiming and firing remote-controlled machine-guns mounted on watch-towers every few hundred metres along an electronic fence that surrounds Gaza.
The system is one of the latest “remote killing” devices developed by Israel's Rafael armaments company, the former weapons research division of the Israeli army and now a separate governmental firm.
According to Giora Katz, Rafael's vice president, remote-controlled military hardware such as Spot and Shoot is the face of the future. He expects that within a decade at least a third of the machines used by the Israeli army to control land, air and sea will be unmanned.
The demand for such devices, the Israeli army admits, has been partly fuelled by a combination of declining recruitment levels and a population less ready to risk death in combat.
Oren Berebbi, head of its technology branch, recently told an American newspaper: “We're trying to get to unmanned vehicles everywhere on the battlefield … We can do more and more missions without putting a soldier at risk.”
Rapid progress with the technology has raised alarm at the United Nations. Philip Alston, its special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, warned last month of the danger that a “PlayStation mentality to killing” could quickly emerge.
According to analysts, however, Israel is unlikely to turn its back on hardware that it has been at the forefront of developing – using the occupied Palestinian territories, and especially Gaza, as testing laboratories.
~ more... ~
Since the 1950s, China has used "re-education through labour" to imprison people without trial.
Currently, there are an estimated 400,000 prisoners undergoing re-education through labour in around 310 camps across the country, according to China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong NGO.
The camps were originally used in Chairman Mao's era to lock away so-called Rightists, counter-revolutionaries and landlords.
While five to ten per cent of the detainees today remain political prisoners, the camps are more commonly used to house drug addicts, street hawkers, prostitutes and pickpockets. Inmates can be imprisoned at the camps for a maximum of four years.
The abolition of the labour camps has been called for several times by the United Nations and it appeared as if the Chinese government would close them down in 2007. However, they remain in force today.
Inmates interviewed by China Human Rights Defenders, a Hong Kong NGO, said they had been shackled upside down, electrocuted and forced to work when sick.
~ more... ~
By Mark Prendergast, Stars and Stripes
Ombudsman's Note: Congress established this position to conduct “aggressive and objective oversight” of Stars and Stripes' relationship with the military to foster independent, quality journalism and a “free flow of information” to the paper's readers absent censorship, propaganda or other forms of news management. This admittedly lengthy column is offered in support of that mandate.
() () ()
When the U.S. military in Afghanistan canceled a media services contract with the Rendon Group last summer, Stars and Stripes, which had assailed Rendon's analyses of journalists' work as an affront to press freedom and a Pentagon effort to skew public perception of the war, saw it as a white flag and moved on.
Had journalists here and elsewhere instead pressed on, they might have found more to report with regard to the untold millions of dollars spent yearly on information services provided by contractors like Rendon.
For one, the identities of large companies are sometimes masked in public records with the designation “miscellaneous foreign contractors” – even when they are prominent, registered American firms, their contracts are unclassified, the companies and Pentagon officials are open about what they do, and the contractors have not asked to be shielded from public view.
One effect of this practice, which has been made harder to penetrate since I began asking about it early this year, is to hamper journalists, watchdog groups and members of the public in following the money trail of who is being paid by the government to inform and influence mass audiences in an ever-shrinking global media environment.
This comes as the Defense Department is reported to be planning to spend up to $1 billion next year on Psychological Operations while also imposing new rules that more tightly control information about the military and the Pentagon.
PsyOp is a component of what are called Information Operations (IO), which are persuasive actions that by law are supposed to be kept overseas and distinct from more neutral activities like public relations/Public Affairs (PA), which are supposed to factually inform audiences, including the American public.
Rendon is one firm in the information field whose identity the military has at times screened from public scrutiny, though an executive told me he was surprised to learn that.
Another is Wall Street-based SOS International Ltd., whose Web site says it provides intelligence and media support services to government and business around the world. Its two listed spokesmen did not respond to e-mail requests for information.
SOSi provided Gen. Stanley McChrystal with the civilian media adviser, Duncan Boothby, who arranged the fateful Rolling Stone “media engagement” that cost the general command of the Afghan war last month.
SOSi's Web site says the company also provided a key aide to McChrystal's successor, Gen. David Petraeus – a translator, Sadi Othman, who SOSi says rose to become a senior adviser while the general, himself a strong proponent of Information Operations, was leading the war effort in Iraq.
Rendon and SOSi contractors worked concurrently in the main military Public Affairs shop in Afghanistan last year, though only Rendon drew journalists' attention. SOSi is still there.
Both are among nine firms I encountered with media-related contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan shrouded in the designation “miscellaneous foreign contractors” – even though the contracts in question for six of those firms did not seem to fit the criteria for masking vendors' identities as laid out in the governing Federal Acquisition Regulation.
Moreover, since the Pentagon was provided with extensive details of this research into “miscellaneous foreign contractors” in the context of a query last month, key contract data that had been publicly accessible before then is now no longer so.
In nearly six months of pestering Pentagon offices, military PAO's on two continents, officials elsewhere in government and contractors themselves, among others, no one was willing or able to explain the “miscellaneous” listings, which were found on usaspending.gov, the open, online government database for contract information.
~ more... ~
By Keith Johnson
Luke: She's rich.
Han Solo: [interested] Rich?
Luke: Rich, powerful. Listen, if you were to rescue her, the reward would be…
Han Solo: What?
Luke: Well, more wealth than you can imagine!
Han Solo: I don't know, I can imagine quite a bit.
from Star Wars-Episode IV-A New Hope
Hello, boys and girls!
Did you know that you and I can create millions, billions and even trillions of numbers just as easily as the Federal Reserve? All you have to do is use your imagination. Let's try it!
I'll use the number proposed by Obama for his 2011 Federal Budget. Its numerical value looks something like this:
Translated into words, that number is pronounced as three trillion eight hundred billion.
That's a big number, huh? It only took me three seconds to produce that number. Let's put a dollar sign in front of that:
Now, let's take that number and put it in the deposit column of our checkbook ledger and add that in to what we have on account. For me, that figure would add up to be:
Let's do the same for the Federal government. Let's take that $3,800,000,000,000 that Obama wants for his 2011 Federal budget and put it into the deposit column of what the Federal government has on account.
Wait a minute! The Federal government has no money on account. As a matter of fact, they are this many dollars in the hole:
O.K., so if the Federal Reserve gives the Federal government $3,800,000,000,000, does that bring the number down to:
Well, it would be if the Federal Reserve actually gave that money to the Federal government. Unfortunately, that money is only a loan. So, if we add what the Federal government already owes to the Federal Reserve to what it wants to borrow in the future, that number would be:
Did you catch that minus (-) figure I inserted before the dollar sign, children? That ((MINUS!!!)) represents what you and your children and your children's children and their children will be expected to pay back to the Federal Reserve the minute they're born.
Now, if you'd like to spare your children all that grief and pay off your share of that debt right now, all you need to do is cough up $42,265.41. But that doesn't quite get you off the hook because starting next year, you'll have to come up with about $1500.00 per month to pay for your share of the 2011 Federal budget.
~ more... ~
Robert Reich comments on his blog:
Missing from almost all discussion of America's dizzying rate of unemployment is the brute fact that hourly wages of people with jobs have been dropping, adjusted for inflation. Average weekly earnings rose a bit this spring only because the typical worker put in more hours, but June's decline in average hours pushed weekly paychecks down at an annualized rate of 4.5 percent.
In other words, Americans are keeping their jobs or finding new ones only by accepting lower wages.
Meanwhile, a much smaller group of Americans' earnings are back in the stratosphere: Wall Street traders and executives, hedge-fund and private-equity fund managers, and top corporate executives. As hiring has picked up on the Street, fat salaries are reappearing. Richard Stein, president of Global Sage, an executive search firm, tells the New York Times corporate clients have offered compensation packages of more than $1 million annually to a dozen candidates in just the last few weeks.
We're back to the same ominous trend as before the Great Recession: a larger and larger share of total income going to the very top while the vast middle class continues to lose ground.
And as long as this trend continues, we can't get out of the shadow of the Great Recession. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don't have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing.
America's median wage, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged for decades. Between 2000 and 2007 it actually dropped. Under these circumstances the only way the middle class could boost its purchasing power was to borrow, as it did with gusto. As housing prices rose, Americans turned their homes into ATMs. But such borrowing has its limits. When the debt bubble finally burst, vast numbers of people couldn't pay their bills, and banks couldn't collect.
Each of America's two biggest economic downturns over the last century has followed the same pattern. Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation's total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America's total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income reconcentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928—with 23.5 percent of the total.
~ more... ~
Posted earlier today in reply to “Big Belly Trash Can, You Lying Whore”:
this is amazing for me. My company takes broken umbrellas off the streets, out of the trash cans and repurposes them through upcycling into made to order dog coats, hats and other things. Last year when the Phils went to the World Series, it was like open trash can heaven bc they replaced all the big bellys with the regular “old school” cans which made my life as a trash picker a hell of alot easier. After we lost, they took away all the open trash cans and I wrote to the city's dept of waste management obviously as someone who knows alot about trash to tell them about what I do and how much the big bellys DON'T work (come on, we've all seen non recyclables shoved in the “bottle hole”). A women who works for the city responded basically telling me that the big bellys were Gods gift to Philadelphia and they were here to stay and they would offer me no help whatsoever trying to get people to stop shoving broken umbrellas into them when they clearly don't fit.
if big bellys leave the city, I'm going to have a party. the end.There you have it: One man's trash can is another man's… trash can. And oh, what a party that would be.
These controllers manipulate public opinion from behind the scenes through the commission of false flag acts of violence (these are acts falsely blamed on scapegoats other than those concealed perpetrators who are actually responsible.) The psychological operation (psyop) is then accomplished through the propaganda fulminations of the completely controlled and complicit mass media. As in so many similar situations in so many other countries in the past, the goal of this combination of violent acts and lying media propaganda is to invalidate any legitimate citizen protest of the many immoral acts being wreaked upon the peoples of the world by our governments. The techniques of imperial control which have been used so successfully overseas are now being fully deployed against the people at home. Deployed against us. As far as our war-addicted governments are concerned, we are all insurgents now.
~ more... ~
... Even if empathy were completely boarded up by critics as an important factor in doing science, this would not save the reputation of science as an exercise in complete objectivity. The role of the neutral observer is a goner. The death sentence for this concept has been obvious since the advent of quantum mechanics in the early twentieth century. In the words of physicist Wheeler:
"Nothing is more important about the quantum principle than this, that it destroys the concept of the world as "sitting out there," with the observer safely separated from it ... To describe what has happened, one has to cross out that old word "observer," and put in its place the new word "participator." In some strange sense the universe is a participatory universe."3
Physicist Henry P. Stapp of UC-Berkeley, a leading authority in the theoretical foundations of quantum physics, takes a similar view:
"The new physics presents prima facie evidence that our human thoughts are linked to nature by non-local connections: what a person chooses to do in one region seems immediately to affect what is true elsewhere in the universe ... [O]ur thoughts ... DO something [his emphasis]."4
To say that the universe is participatory is to say that consciousness matters. But the conventional view, that we're just "a pack of neurons" or "computers made of meat," or that "we're all zombies," as Crick, Minsky and Dennett assert, respectively, says otherwise. This view has no place for any meaningful degree of participation. This is an outdated perspective lodged in classical physics. It stems from the assumption that the brain's material particles and fields can give a full account of consciousness. But as physicist Stapp says,
"This [view] ... is motivated primarily by ideas about the natural world that have been known to be fundamentally incorrect for more than three-quarters of a century." ...
~ more... ~
The question: Can science explain everything?
Whether or not science can explain everything is a question that was never far from the minds of a large group of theologians and scientists who met in Oxford last week. They'd assembled to celebrate the 80th birthday of John Polkinghorne, the professor of mathematical physics who made his name for his work on quarks, now an Anglican priest, and author of many books on science and religion. Moreover, it turns out that the question of science's limitations is intimately linked to Polkinghorne's much misunderstood account of God's action in the world.
The challenge is to avoid concocting a "God of the gaps" – a deity whose action occurs in the gaps where scientific explanations apparently fall short. The best known example of this is probably the bacterial flagellum. Advocates of intelligent design have argued that these whip-like devices for locomotion can only be explained by divine intervention because of their supposed "irreducible complexity". The trouble is that science progresses. What can't be explained in one decade is often explained in the next. Gaps get filled, and so God gets squeezed out.
Polkinghorne has been accused of advocating a God-of-the-gaps approach too. He has been taken to argue that chaos theory offers a way of understanding divine action, by virtue of the mistaken assumption that chaos theory paints a picture of an indeterminate world: if it's impossible to forecast the weather next week with any degree of accuracy, then perhaps that points to a pervasive randomness in the physical world, which God might exploit to divine advantage.
But that's not his idea, as Nick Saunders pointed out at the conference. As Polkinghorne knows better than most, the equations of chaos theory do, in fact, yield tightly causal results. The issue at stake in chaos theory is rather that you need to know the initial conditions of any system to an astonishingly high degree of accuracy to make accurate predictions. In practice, that's impossible to achieve. In other words, chaotic systems are not indeterminate, but underdetermined.
~ more... ~
An account of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) annual 'Independence FROM America' demonstration held on Sunday 4th July 2010 at Menwith Hill, Near Harrogate.
What went on - 4 July 2010 at the American base at Menwith Hill (apologies for the delay)
Menwith Hill celebrated independence from Great Britain (1776) the week before the traditional
date - 4 July each year. Maybe this was because we were there to call for Independence FROM
America on that date. It was the annual demonstataion 'Independence FROM America' at the American
base at Menwith Hill. There has been a demonstration here since 1982.
Having had glorious hot summer weather for a lovely long time, on 4 July it changed! Very strong
winds and the heavens opened.
About 200 people came which was more people than last year. Perhaps this was because Mark Thomas
(comedian and political activist) and Peter Tatchell (Human rights activist) were the guest
speakers as well as an excellent 'line up' of musicians. This year the general theme was in line
with the World Cup - the goal is Independence FROM America.
Steve Hill (Daftasadrum) started the demonstration with a wonderful drumming workshop. The
demonstration was hosted by Martin Schweiger (doctor, activist and Quaker). Moira Hill and Peter
Kenyon read the Declaration of Independence FROM America (amended original version).
[ ... ]
The walk was special in that we had retrieved a small civil liberty (a bit of a struggle!). North
Yorkshire police (NYP) have prevented the traditional walk round the base for the past three years
by putting on conditions (Public Order Act 1986). CAAB contacted Liberty once again and this year
with their help NYP agreed that we could walk round Menwith Hill and further more they would help;
our argument that it is the duty of the police to enable protest as protest is one of our Human
Rights ('right to assemble' and 'freedom of expression'). We had carefully liaised with NYP and
had met senior officers before to stress these points.
~ more... ~
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
From Neuroethicists are not saying enough about the problem of dual-use:
The minutes of many U.K. Ministry of Defense's secret committees' meetings held during the Cold War period are now available to the public in the National Archives. Thus, we know that one March day in 1959, the Chemistry Committee of the U.K.'s Advisory Council on Scientific Research and Technical Development met in London to discuss the possibilities for developing new chemical incapacitating weapons agents--including ones with neurological effects--something both the United Kingdom and its allies were trying to achieve. According to the minutes of the meeting, the technical experts were not optimistic. One of them, identified as Dr. Bowman, said the field was not particularly promising given what was known from the large amount of work done by pharmaceutical firms working on cures for mental illnesses. Following this, the minutes of the meeting state that :"...THE CHAIRMAN, however, emphasised that the Committee was looking for [an] agent which would produce, not cure, psychoses; we might succeed by modifying the curative agents..." The Chairman, therefore, held a very modern view of dual-use in which civil science could produce materials, technologies, and knowledge that might be misused later by those with hostile intent--not the usual Cold War view, in which military research produced civilian spin-offs, such as the Internet.
To be sure, the current concern about dual-use both recognizes this possible role of civilian institutions generally and also extends this concern specifically to substances with neurological effects. The second recommendation of the 2006 U.S. National Academies report entitled “Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences”--often called the Lemon-Relman report--states: "Adopt a broadened awareness of threats beyond the classical 'select agents' and other pathogenic organisms and toxins, so as to include, for example, approaches for disrupting host homeostatic systems..." Homeostatic systems include the chemical neurotransmitters and neuromodulators that regulate the human nervous system.
Since the end of the Cold War, we also have seen the rise of a new sub-division of bioethics: neuroethics. Neuroethics is concerned with both philosophical issues about the relationship between brain and mind and practical issues about the impact of our growing ability to understand and manipulate the brain upon society. It is therefore of some interest to discover what this comparatively recent field of study has to say about the problem of dual-use.
[ ... ]
Yet, in regard to the question of dual-use the advances in neuroscience have already seen application in the Russian use of some form of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, as a novel incapacitating chemical agent to break the 2002 Moscow theater siege. Moreover, Russia is unlikely to be the only state interested in the development of such new agents, given the changing nature of modern warfare. One can only hope that neuroethicists will begin to pay some attention to the clear and present danger that the hostile misuse of modern neuroscience could lead to the erosion of the prohibition of chemical weapons embodied in the Chemical Weapons Convention and make a valuable contribution to the discussion of this problem in the run up to the 3rd Five Year Review Conference of the convention in 2013. For example, the peaceful purpose defined in Article II.9 (d) as “Law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes” could be read to mean that ordinary domestic riot control agents are a sub-category of a larger group of chemical agents that can be used legally. ...
~ more... ~
He referred to it as his ''party trick'' - exposing his genital piercing, or opening a beer bottle with a bottle opener attached to it.
And police officer Sergeant Andrew Lawrance is certain no one was offended when he performed the trick to a small group of fellow officers and their wives at a Christmas party at Tommy's Chinese Restaurant in Yamba, egging him on.
One woman, he told the Industrial Relations Commission yesterday, had asked to see the piercing after he talked about it.
One man, however, took offence: his ultimate boss, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, who wants Mr Lawrance gone from the force, saying he has lost confidence in him. He argued the offence was made worse by the fact that Mr Lawrance was one of the most senior officers at the party in December 2008.
Mr Lawrance said there were no other patrons left at the Yamba restaurant when he went to the toilet to attach the bottle opener to the piercing, before exposing it two or three times to about six other people including his wife.
The sergeant - who now works part-time in a bottle shop - had been involved in a similar incident at a hotel in Wanaaring, west of Bourke, more than three years earlier and had received counselling because of it. Since the latest incident he had received counselling and modified his alcohol intake, the court heard.
~ more... ~
From EBay 'Hippie Vacation' Auction Spawns Cult Following:
Michelle Land was not so thrilled when her brother-in-law, Cody, pulled up to her Arkansas home in his "huge hippie van" a few weeks back and set up camp in her backyard.
Cody, who is 24 and had been living in the van in California, is, as Michelle says, "a little touched in the head."
During his short stay in Arkansas, Cody lost a job at the local Butterball factory, was arrested for a number of misdemeanor violations and was spotted by neighbors running around the property naked.
"He just does stupid stuff," said 29-year-old Michelle, who also worried Cody might not be the best influence on her three young children. "He thinks he can do anything. He talks kind of crazy."
Michelle and her husband, Sam (Cody's brother), figured it was about time for Cody to be hitting the road. As avid eBay sellers, Michelle and Sam came up with an original scheme to get Cody out of their hair -- market a cross-country trip with him as the "Ultimate Hippie Vacation" and sell it to the highest bidder.
On their auction page, the Lands enticed a broad spectrum of potential buyers:
Old Hippies -- Relive the Good Ol' Days!
New Hippies -- Experience the USA Like You Never Have Before!
Crazy People -- Hang Out With One of Your Own Kind!
There were, however, a few caveats for the trip, including having to sell T-shirts for gas and food money. In return, Cody was promising "the most craziest vacation you will never forget."
~ more... ~
Peak oil presents the world with an energy crisis once supplies start to dwindle any time from 2015. But another growing crisis is looming, with potentially devastating consequences for the world's food supply.
Phosphorous is an essential nutrient for plant growth, along with nitrogen and potassium. It is a key component in DNA and plays an essential role in plant energy metabolism. Without it, crops would fail, causing the human food chain to collapse.
Phosphate production is predicted to peak around 2030 as the global population expands to a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050. And unlike oil, where there are renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuels, there is no substitute for phosphorus, according to the US Geological Survey.
As imported rock phosphate becomes more expensive and may one day run out, there could be a solution much closer to home, says Professor Brian Chambers, a leading UK soil scientist.
Professor Chambers is calling on the government to respond to the threat of peak phosphate by recovering nutrients from household compost, livestock and human manure and municipal waste.
Western Europe imports all of its phosphate for agricultural use, but Professor Chambers from environmental consultancy ADAS, believes that more than 50 per cent of the UK's total requirement could come from organic sources, saving the agricultural industry between £20m and £30m a year.
"People often talk about human's addiction to oil. We've got exactly the same addiction to phosphate fertilisers too," he said.
"Our primary source – rock phosphate – is mined for use in fertilisers and that's expected to peak around 2030. It means that right at the time we need to be doubling our food-growing capacity to feed the rising global population, we'll be starting to run out of phosphorus. It's a nightmare scenario."
~ more... ~
The ulta-rich are splurging again as the rest of us muddle through the Great Recession.
Every summer, several financial firms competing to get the banking business of the world's mega millionaires release what amounts to scorecards on global wealth. These data-packed reports tally the current number of our international rich and super-rich, by nation and region.
World Wealth Report 2010 is the most comprehensive of these scorecards. It's got some fascinating details about the planet's wealthiest of the wealthy, those households worth at least $30 million--that's not counting their primary residence and "collectibles."
These "ultra-high-net worth" households make up less than 1 percent of the global millionaire total, yet in 2009 and 2008 they held more than a third of combined global millionaire wealth. In other words, the global financial crash that mega-millionaire speculation triggered has ended up concentrating even more wealth in mega millionaire pockets.
The Merrill Lynch and Capgemini researchers who prepared this report also offer some lusciously revealing information about what they call "passion investing," the vast sums the rich plow into everything from country club memberships and yachts to jewelry and fine art.
~ more... ~
The remains of 19th-century Aboriginal warrior Yagan have been laid to rest in western Australia, nearly 180 years after he was killed and his severed head was displayed in a British museum.
The private ceremony held Saturday by the Noongar tribe coincided with the opening of the Yagan Memorial Park in Swan Valley, just outside of Perth.
"The Yagan Memorial Park is a fitting tribute to the life, struggles and death of Yagan and to the memory of all Aboriginal people who suffered and died in support of their land, culture and heritage," West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said in a statement.
~ more... ~
Artwork by Alex Grey
A green myth is on the march. It wants to blame the world's overbreeding poor people for the planet's peril. It stinks. And on World Population Day, I encourage fellow environmentalists not to be seduced.
Some greens think all efforts to save the world are doomed unless we "do something" about continuing population growth. But this is nonsense. Worse, it is dangerous nonsense.
For a start, the population bomb that I remember being scared by 40 years ago as a schoolkid is being defused fast. Back then, most women round the world had five or six children. Today's women have just half as many as their mothers -- an average of 2.6. Not just in the rich world, but almost everywhere.
This is getting close to the long-term replacement level, which, allowing for girls who don't make it to adulthood, is around 2.3. Women are cutting their family sizes not because governments tell them to, but for their own good and the good of their families -- and if it helps the planet too, then so much the better.
This is a stunning change in just one generation. Why don't we hear more about it? Because it doesn't fit the doomsday agenda.
[ ... ]
The population bomb is being defused right now -- by the world's poor women. Sadly, the consumption bomb is still primed and ever more dangerous.
~ more... ~
- GPS -- Global positioning chips are now appearing in everything from U.S. passports, cell phones, to cars. More common uses include tracking employees, and for all forms of private investigation. Apple recently announced they are collecting the precise location of iPhone users via GPS for public viewing in addition to spying on users in other ways.
- Internet -- Internet browsers are recording your every move forming detailed cookies on your activities. The NSA has been exposed as having cookies on their site that don't expire until 2035. Major search engines know where you surfed last summer, and online purchases are databased, supposedly for advertising and customer service uses. IP addresses are collected and even made public. Controversial websites can be flagged internally by government sites, as well as re-routing all traffic to block sitesreal-time social network monitoring are already being used. The Cybersecurity Act attempts to legalize the collection and exploitation of your personal information. Apple's iPhone also has browsing data recorded and stored. All of this despite the overwhelming opposition to cybersurveillance by citizens. the government wants to censor. It has now been fully admitted that social networks provide NO privacy to users, while technologies for
As the communications device grows in popularity, technology experts and US law enforcement agencies are devoting increasing efforts to understanding their potential for forensics investigators.
While police have tracked criminals by locating their position via conventional mobile phone towers, iPhones offer far more information, say experts.
"There are a lot of security issues in the design of the iPhone that lend themselves to retaining more personal information than any other device," said Jonathan Zdziarski, a former computer hacker who now teaches US law enforcers how to retrieve data from mobile phones.
"These devices organise people's lives and, if you're doing something criminal, something about it is going to go through that phone." Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since the product was launched in 2007.
[ ... ]
An example was the iPhone's keyboard logging cache, which was designed to correct spelling but meant that an expert could retrieve anything typed on the keyboard over the past three to 12 months, he said.
~ more... ~
From Sibel Edmonds' Boiling Frogs Post:
In the two years since the publication of our book Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story we have had the chance to address dozens of forums and radio audiences around the United States about Afghanistan. It has been an illuminating exercise, not so much in terms of what Americans understand about the Afghanistan/Pakistan region (which unfortunately isn't very much) but by the way it reveals how Americans are struggling to catch up with a world that seems to have left them behind. A morning-drive-time radio talk show host in Chicago wanted to know whether a nuclear bomb dropped on the Hindu Kush wouldn't solve the problem. When we replied that using a nuclear weapon to kill a few thousand suspected terrorists would kill millions of innocent people, he responded abruptly before cutting us off: The Japanese got the message when we dropped it on them.
Most people are confused about the America they find themselves in, in the 21st century. They wonder where “their” America went. According to the popular mythology, the U.S. started the decade as the world's lone hyper-power, beholden to none. It ends the first decade of the new millennium as a debt-hobbled-capitalist shell, beholden to a rising communist China a rising communist China and a host of oil-rich medieval Middle-East Sheikdoms. Americans are frustrated and resentful, denying any responsibility for the ongoing Afghan fiasco while expressing anger and often disbelief that our leadership has refused to learn the lessons of Vietnam and taken us on yet another mindless ride into a hopeless quagmire.
When we are asked why the U.S. is still in Afghanistan after a decade, we explain that America's DNA profile has been all over that country since 1973. While no one was looking, the CIA's secret mission became entangled with Pakistan's support for Afghanistan's small core of foreign-trained right wing Islamic extremists. Thanks to President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, this entanglement blossomed into a marriage following the 1978 Marxist coup and a full-blown commitment to holy war and the Islamization of Pakistan – long before the Soviet invasion of 1979.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010
In a political about-face, a South Korean commission investigating a century of human rights abuses has ruled that the U.S. military's large-scale killing of refugees during the Korean War, in case after case, arose out of military necessity.
Shutting down the inquiry into South Korea's hidden history, the commission also will leave unexplored scores of suspected mass graves believed to hold remains of tens of thousands of South Korean political detainees summarily executed by their own government early in the 1950-53 war, sometimes as U.S. officers watched.
The four-year-old Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Korea probed more deeply than any previous inquiry into the country's bloody past. But a shift to conservative national leadership changed the panel's political makeup this year and dampened its investigative zeal.
The families of 1950's victims wanted the work continued.
"The truth about all these past incidents must be revealed, so this national tragedy won't be repeated," said Yang Won-jin, 82, whose father was believed shot and dumped into a mass grave 60 years ago.
But the commission's new president said its work must end.
"Even if we investigated more, there's not much more to be revealed," said Lee Young-jo, a political science professor who took charge last December.
The commission was established in December 2005 under the late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun to "reconcile the past for the sake of national unity." It had a broad mandate to expose human rights abuses from Korea's pre-1945 Japanese colonial period through South Korea's military dictatorships into the 1980s.
The most shocking disclosures emerged from the war that began when communist North Korea invaded the south on June 25, 1950, to try to reunify the peninsula, divided into U.S.- and Soviet-occupied zones in 1945.
The commission was the first government authority to publicly confirm what long had only been whispered: The U.S.-allied South Korean military and police carried out a vast secretive slaughter of political detainees in mid-1950, to keep southern sympathizers from supporting the northerners. Up to 200,000 were killed, historians believe.
Hundreds of petitions to the commission told another story as well, of more than 200 incidents in which the U.S. military, warned about potential North Korean infiltrators in refugee groups, was said to have indiscriminately killed large numbers of innocent South Korean civilians in 1950-51.
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