Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Last week, an Israeli military court convicted Abdullah Abu Rahma, whom progressive Zionists have called a "Palestinian Gandhi," of "incitement" and "organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations" for organizing protests against the confiscation of Palestinian land by the "Apartheid Wall" in the village of Bilin in the West Bank, following an eight month trial, during which he was kept in prison.
The European Union issued a protest. But as far as I am aware, no US official has said anything and no US newspaper columnist has denounced this act of repression; indeed, the US press hasn't even reported the news. To find out what happened, someone could search the wires where they'll find this AFP story, or go to the British or Israeli press.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed deep concern "that the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahma is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non-violent manner," her office said.
"The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal," it quoted her as saying in a statement.
The failure of The New York Times to report the news is particularly striking, because The New York Times reported last August on the protests in Bilin, quoting Abu Rahma in particular; and because this July New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, writing from Bilin with the provocative headline "Waiting for Gandhi," weighed in on the subject of Palestinian nonviolent protest.
Last August, Ethan Bronner reported in the Times:
Abdullah Abu Rahma, a village teacher and one of the organizers of the weekly protests, said he was amazed at the military's assertions [of protester violence, including of "rioters" throwing "Molotov cocktails"] as well as at its continuing arrests and imprisonment of village leaders.
"They want to destroy our movement because it is nonviolent," he said. He added that some villagers might have tried, out of frustration, to cut through the fence since the court had ordered it moved and nothing had happened. But that is not the essence of the popular movement that he has helped lead.
Kristof wrote patronizingly in his column last month that "some Palestinians are dabbling in a strategy of nonviolent resistance," but is seems that Kristof was "dabbling" in his fleeting expression of concern about the fate of the Palestinians.
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The Vietnam Veterans of America asked a federal judge to impose sanctions on the Central Intelligence Agency, for failing to produce documents on the CIA's testing of hundreds of kinds of drugs - including sarin and phosgene nerve gas and LSD - on thousands of soldiers.
The Vietnam Veterans of America sued the CIA in January 2009, claiming the agency had experimented on soldiers at Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick, Md., testing the effects of mind-controlling drugs.
The VVA says soldiers were treated "in the same capacity as laboratory rats or guinea pigs." The underlying federal complaint claims that at least 7,800 soldiers were subjected to "at least 250, but as many as 400 chemical and biological agents.
This original complaint, filed in January 2009, claimed that "this vast program of human experimentation, shrouded in secrecy," was done without informed consent of the soldier-guinea pigs. "In 1970, defendants provided Congress with an alphabetical list showing that they had tested 145 drugs during Projects Bluebird, Artichoke, MKULTRA and MKDELTA." These drugs included sarin and other deadly nerve toxins, barbiturates, irritants, including cyanide, phosgene nerve gas, LSC, PCP and other psychedelics, THC "about times the then-street strength of marijuana," and tranquilizers.
In its request for sanctions, the Vietnam Veterans claims the CIA stalled discovery, in bad faith, by refusing to turn over requested documents related to the secretive project, without adequate explanation.
It claims the CIA has released only about 1,600 documents, and 40 percent of them "deal only with the six individual plaintiffs' military records and Veterans Administration claim files."
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CHAPTER I - ORGANIZING CHAOS
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine. But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.
In theory, every citizen makes up his mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion about anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issues so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions. From our leaders and the media they use to reach the public, we accept the evidence and the demarcation of issues bearing upon public questions; from some ethical teacher, be it a minister, a favorite essayist, or merely prevailing opinion, we accept a standardized code of social conduct to which we conform most of the time.
In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market. In practice, if every one went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed. To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds. There is consequently a vast and continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea.
It might be better to have, instead of propaganda and special pleading, committees of wise men who would choose our rulers, dictate our conduct, private and public, and decide upon the best types of clothes for us to wear and the best kinds of food for us to eat. But we have chosen the opposite method, that of open competition. We must find a way to make free competition function with reasonable smoothness. To achieve this society has consented to permit free competition to be organized by leadership and propaganda.
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After reading the book Political Ponerology, A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes by Andrzej Łobaczewski, I wished to interview the author. However, given that he was sick, he was unable to respond to my questions except in the shortest way, a single paragraph. Fortunately, I was able to interview Laura Knight-Jadczyk and Henry See, editors of the book who discussed the questions with him via telephone and were thus able to speak on his behalf.
I think everyone should read this book because it provides the keys necessary for understanding events that we often can't comprehend. The book describes the origins of "Evil", its true nature, and illustrates how it spreads throughout society.
Mr. Łobaczewski spent years observing those in power whose actions were the incarnation of evil, people described in psychological terms as anti-social, psychopaths, or sociopaths.
Silvia Cattori: Here is what a Swiss psychiatrist said to me about the book Political Ponerology:
I have never read anywhere else the things Łobaczewski speaks about. No other book has treated the subject in this way. It was immediately useful for me in my work. The things he affirms about perverse/pathological behaviour - in conflicts in business as well as in the political sphere where we see more and more conflicts and more and more people of this type - immediately helped me to better understand, for example, the functioning of these individuals who create conflicts in their work and who, wherever they go, pollute the atmosphere.
Why did he choose a title that is so hermetic, Political Ponerology, for a book that should interest not only psychologists and psychiatrists but everyone?
Laura: First of all, let me say that a very strong emotional bond exists between us and Dr. Łobaczewski and we have communicated with him regarding this interview. He is very elderly and his health has been very poor for the past year or so and he regrets that he is not able to respond personally; he made an attempt, but he is presently not even strong enough to write more than the briefest answers to written questions. Even then, after a few minutes of concentration, he is exhausted and his focus wanders. We very much want to protect his health and well-being, but we also wanted to satisfy the request for responses to important issues. Andrzej pointed out to me on the phone that he has full confidence in our understanding of the subject. He repeated that, as he said when he wrote to us, he was looking for someone who was going in the same direction, thinking the same way, that he could hand his work on to - more or less pass the torch, and of all the work had been passed to him by others. He spent years looking for someone and it was our work that met the criteria.
Having said that, let me try to answer your question: Why did Łobaczewski choose that title? The first thing is that the work was originally a series of documents, technical and academic, originating from various sources. As Łobaczewski explains in his introduction, very little of the work is original to him, he is just the compiler. Academics tend to choose titles for their papers that are phrased in academic terminology, and scientists consider it their prerogative to make up new terms to describe their discoveries, (such as physicists coming up with words like quarks, muons, leptons, and so on), so in that sense, the title is entirely understandable. The term, "ponerology" is an obscure theological term that means the study of evil. Andrzej knew this, and decided to reclaim and rehabilitate this word for scientific use since, as it happens, our science really doesn't have a word for the study of "evil," per se. We need one.
Henry: When Łobaczewski sent us the manuscript for his book, we were stunned. We had been preoccupied with the question of why, no matter how much good will there is in the world, there is so much war, suffering and injustice. It doesn't seem to matter what plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. And it has been that way for thousands of years, repeating over and over again.
We had also been researching the question of psychopathy for several years, and had published many articles on the subject on our web sites. We had also transcribed an electronic edition for research of the seminal work on psychopathy by Dr. Hervey Cleckley, The Mask of Sanity, with the permission of the copyright holders because it had gone out of print. It is such an important and seminal text that we made it freely available for download. So we had a good grounding in the question and had some inkling that the question of psychopathy and the dire situation we are facing on the planet were related.
Laura: Let me add that the reason we had been researching psychopathy was, as mentioned above, because we had encountered the phenomenon first hand. We were engaged in working with groups of people and the phenomena that Ponerology addresses in terms of groups and how they are corrupted by pathological deviants insinuating themselves into a group under the guise of normality, was very familiar to us on a small social scale. We had observed it and dealt with it time and again, though in the early days, we were just flying by the seat of our pants. We knew that something strange was going on, we just did not have labels and categories for it. We found some of those labels and categories in texts about psychopathology, but it still did not address the social dynamic.
Henry: But Political Ponerology presents the subject in a radically different way from other texts about psychopathy, suggesting that the influence of psychopaths and other deviants isn't just one of many influences working on society, but, under the appropriate circumstances, can be the primary influence that shapes the way we live, what we think, and how we judge what is going on around us. When you understand the true nature of that influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified, but at the same time everything suddenly begins to makes sense. Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it and who set the example are soulless - they literally have no conscience.
When you come to understand that the reins of political and economic power are in the hands of people who have no conscience, who have no capacity for empathy, it opens up a completely new way of looking at what we call "evil". Evil is no longer only a moral issue; it can now be analyzed and understood scientifically.
Laura: With Łobaczewski, the word "Ponerology" has been reclaimed from its religious connotations where it never did society as a whole much good, and is the science of evil, of understanding its origins scientifically, and how it can infect individuals and societies like a disease.
When psychopaths are the policy makers in government and the CEOs of big business, the way they think and reason - their 'morality' - becomes the common culture and 'morality' of the population over which they preside. When this happens, the mind of the population is infected in the way a pathogen infects a physical body. The only way to protect ourselves against this pathological thinking is to inoculate ourselves against it, and that is done by learning as much as possible about the nature of psychopathy and its influence on us. Essentially, this particular 'disease' thrives in an environment where its very existence is denied, and this denial is planned and deliberate.
While the title of the book may seem hermetic, it must be understood in the context of the great difficulty Andrej had in getting his work published at all. The first two manuscripts were lost, as he describes in his preface. One was burned minutes before the arrival of the police in a raid on his home, and the second was sent to the Vatican via an intermediary, never to be seen again. The third version, the one published by Red Pill Press, was written while Andrzej was living in the US during the Reagan years. Zbigniew Brzeszinki had offered to help him find a publisher, but after several months, it became clear that he was at best doing nothing and at worst actively working to ensure it never got published. So the manuscript sat in a drawer for over twenty years. It was written for a professional audience and the title was chosen in that context. This is also the reason that the text itself is very dense, and the title accurately reflects that it was not written for the layperson. It was written for professionals and in an academic style reflecting his background.
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Hailed as the triumphant return of Hector Babenco, you may be forgiven for asking, "Who's he?" As the Brazilian director of Kiss Of The Spider Woman and Ironweed in the Eighties, he became the breath that freshened the air of Hollywood - briefly.
Now, he re-emerges on home ground with an epic prison movie, based on Drauzio Varella's experience as the sole medical officer at the notorious Carandiru jail in Sao Paolo, before it was demolished after riots.
The recreation of life behind bars for murderers and drug dealers is depicted with astonishing energy and style. The performances are uniformly good, while, at times, shaking the foundations with unrestrained verocity.
Unlike another Brazilian street movie, City Of God, there exists at its core an underlying sentimentality. The prison has an organic life. Inmates look after each other and administer rough justice for acts of violence that are deemed to have broken a code of honour. The guards stay back and allow the rule of law - convict law - to keep the pressure of confinement from blowing the roof off. There is a flexibility, based on acceptance, between governor and governed, respecting the rights of each and the other, while recognising their shared humanity.
Babenco focuses on a handful of prisoners. With the use of flashbacks, their lives and crimes are superficially investigated, while the doctor (Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos), who performs the role of educator and Everyman, remains in the neutral zone.
A rich man's morality is wasted on the hardcore; killing seems easier than sleep. Carandiru is another country, with its own idiosyncrasies. Cliches are noticable by their absence, although the lags are surprisingly well equipped with human qualities and the degree of self-expression allowed by the prison staff reflects Christian decency on a scale hitherto unimaginable.
Babenco conveys the big picture, including the vicious suppression of dissent, deemed worthy of riot status, extremely well. It's on the personal level that a softening occurs, as if pain as raw as this needs to be diluted to make it palatable for public consumption.
~ Watch Carandiru Bloody Memories ~
LSD and ketamine, two powerful hallucinogens, are also potential cures for depression, OCD, and anxiety. Two studies published this week, in Science and Nature, confirm that hallucinogenic drugs stimulate healthy brain activity, even promoting the growth of neurons.
Ketamine and depression
The study in Science, released today, focused entirely on the drug ketamine. Used frequently as an animal sedative, ketamine can also be used to sedate humans and is also taken recreationally because of its hallucinogenic and euphoric effects. Molecular psychiatrist Nanxin Li and colleagues dosed rats with modest amounts of ketamine, and observed that the drug boosted signaling between neurons in the brain, and even led to healthy growth of synapses. (Chronic depression can be linked to inhibited synaptic growth.) Ultimately, they concluded that ketamine might be useful in treating depression because it increases brain activity instantly - so there is no need to wait weeks or months for the drug to take effect.
LSD and OCD
In the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Franz X. Vollenweider and Michael Kometer gave a broad overview of research into hallucinogens over the past half century. They gathered together research from hundreds of studies on how hallucinogens like LSD, psilocybin, and ketamine affect the brains of healthy people - as well as people suffering from depression and other disorders.
Like Li and his colleagues, they found that countless studies show that hallucinogens promote healthy neural activity in the brain. The researchers also created a chart to show what test subjects' states of mind are, according to studies, when under the influence of various substances.
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The government and local clerics refused to shelter around 500 flood-affected families belonging to the Ahmadiya community in South Punjab's relief camps. Not only that, the government also did not send relief goods to the flood-hit areas belonging to the Ahmadiya community, The Express Tribune has learnt during a visit to the devastated Punjab districts of Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur.
For its part, the government claims that all relief goods are being distributed among survivors without discrimination. And that all survivors have been sheltered in relief camps without distinction. The flood-devastated families from the Ahmadiya community have strongly criticised the government's “discriminatory attitude” even at a time when the entire country is reeling from the ravages of the worst flooding in living memory.
Of the 500 Ahmadi families, 350 belong to DG Khan, 60 to Muzaffargarh and 65 to Rajanpur district. According to Ahmadiya community leaders, over 2,500 members of their community have been displaced and are now living with their relatives while some of them have left for Rabwah, the community's headquarters.
Aziz Ahmad Khan, a local leader of flood victims from the Ahmadiya community in DG Khan, told The Express Tribune that all members of his family have complained of discrimination in DG Khan. He said 200 families from Basti Rindan and Basti Sohrani, 60 from Chah Ismaeel Wala, three from Rakh Mor Jangi, 18 from Ghazi Ghat and 12 from Jhakar Imam Shah of Ahmadpur. Khan alleged that 200 families, who have been displaced from Basti Rindan and Basti Sohrani by flooding, took shelter in a state-run school at Jhok Utra but within days the local administration forced them to leave the school. He said the local administration later told them that people from the surrounding areas did not want the Ahmadis in the relief camp. And that the administration could not allow them to stay at the camp as it could create a law and order situation.
“So we left our cattle and other belongings in the area and took refuge in the homes of our community members on higher grounds,” he said, adding that some of them even migrated to Chanabnagar.
Muhammad Iqbal Sohrani, a member of the Ahmadiya community told The Express Tribune that around 40 Ahmadi families who took shelter in a state-run school at Jhakar Imam Shah near Sumandri, some 40 kilometres from DG Khan, have not received any relief either from philanthropists or from the government. He alleged that relief packages were being distributed through local lawmakers who have been told by the district administration that the Ahmadis are not eligible for any support.
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Sunday, August 29, 2010
From President Zardari of Pakistan is Pelted with Shoes at UK Rally by Abdus Sattar Ghazali:
The shoe throwing incident led the President to stop his address and immediately leave the place in a security cordon in his car waiting for him outside. The incident caught global attention instantly as many enthusiasts circulated the news through internet.
Telling, while shoes were thrown at President Zardari inside the International Convention Centre, a demonstrator was holding a shoe up to a manipulated photograph of President Zardari outside of the Centre.
Perhaps, after the December 14, 2008 incident in which Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, threw shoes at President George Bush during his farewell visit to Iraq, shoe throwing has now become a tradition to lodge political protests.
Here are some incidents of shoe throwing as political protests around the world:
On June 5, 2010, hundreds of anti-Israeli protestors hurled old shoes at the US consulate in Auckland in an "expression of outrage and anger" over the Israeli commando attack on Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters. The demonstration, organized by Global Peace and Justice Auckland, was a call for sanctions against the Israeli government after nine humanitarian aid workers were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the flotilla of boats traveling to Gaza with aid. The protestors marched to the US consulate where they threw the shoes before listening to various speakers, including Palestinians, an Irishman, a Turkish man and several others with friends in the flotilla.
On October 1, 2009, a demonstrator at a university in Istanbul, Turkey, threw a shoe at the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, to protest against the IMF policies. The man was part of a group protesting at IMF involvement in Turkish politics. The shoe fell short of hitting Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Word of the incident spread rapidly. Local TV news showed repeated the clip endlessly, sometimes using a split screen showing the Iraqi journalist who tossed a shoe at President Bush.
On April 7, 2009, Jarnail Singh, a New Delhi journalist, got into a heated exchange with the Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, launched his size 9 Reebok sneaker at the minister, who was standing five feet away. He missed the target. Fame of the incident quickly followed. The Shiromani Akali Dal, a Sikh political party, offered Singh a $4,000 reward for his "courage and bravery." Three days later, a retired school teacher threw a shoe at popular Congress lawmaker Naveen Jindal, during an election rally in Haryana state.
On April 26, 2009, a 21-year-old student flung his footwear at the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a rally in the city of Ahmedabad. The same night, at a different political gathering in Ahmedabad, a wooden sandal was tossed at prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) L.K. Advani. Advani was also the target of another shoe-throw earlier in the election season.
On February 2, 2009, a protester threw a shoe at Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier, as he delivered a speech on the global economy at Cambridge University, England.
On February 23, 2009, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan survived an attack from the 21st century citizen's weapon of choice – the shoe. A Syrian man of Kurdish origin was detained in Spain after throwing a shoe at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the southern city of Seville. Erdogan was getting into a car after receiving a cultural cooperation award at the city hall. The 27-year-old man hurled a shoe at the prime minister, shouting "Viva Kurdistan." The shoe hit Erdogan's car instead of the premier, and was picked up by his bodyguards.
On January 19, 2009, Anti-war protesters threw shoes outside the gates of the White House on President Bush's last day in office. About 500 people marched to the White House and threw about 40 pairs of shoes at the gate while tourists looked on and took photos. Supporters say they acted in solidarity with Muntadhar Al-Zeidi, the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.
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British weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly was writing an expose about his work with anthrax and his warnings that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction at the time of his death in July 2003, according to a report published in a British newspaper.
Kelly's death -- said to have been a suicide -- has stirred controversy, as it came on the heels of testimony to the House of Commons about a memo which purported that Britain had "sexed up" a dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. A Parliamentary inquiry ruled that the death had been suicide, though it also included testimony from a former British ambassador who quotes Kelly as having said, "I will probably be found dead in the woods" if Iraq were invaded.
The new report says Kelly had spoken with an Oxford publisher several times about a book.
"He had several discussions with a publisher in Oxford and was seeking advice on how far he could go without breaking the law on secrets," the UK Daily Express alleged.
Kelly's computers were seized in the wake of his death. He was a signatory to Britain's Official Secrets Act, which allows for the prosecution of those who talk to the press about state secrets and prescribes a more stringent framework for secrecy than in the United States.
According to the paper, "he was intending to reveal that he warned Prime Minister Tony Blair there were no weapons of mass destruction anywhere in Iraq weeks before the British and American invasion" and was also intending to lift the lid on a potentially bigger scandal, his own secret dealings in germ warfare with the apartheid regime in South Africa."
The allegations of a potential Kelly expose come from a new film about biological weapons being debuted in London on the sixth anniversary of Kelly's death titled "Anthrax War" (the documentary aired earlier this year on Canadian public television). Kelly was an expert in biological warfare agents, as well as a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.
The deeper you look into the murky world of governments and germ warfare, the more worrying it becomes," the film's director, Bob Coen, is quoted as saying. We have proved there is a black market in anthrax. David Kelly was of particular interest to us because he was a world expert on anthrax and he was involved in some degree with assisting the secret germ warfare program in apartheid South Africa.
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's summary of the film, Coen "was raised in Zimbabwe where the former white regime has been accused of unleashing anthrax against the black population" [who] embarks on a journey that raises troubling questions about the FBI's investigation of the 21st century's first act of biological terrorism.
"Coen's investigation takes him from the U.S. to the U.K. and from the edge of Siberia to the tip of Africa. In a rare interview, Coen confronts 'Doctor Death' Wouter Basson, who headed Project Coast, the South African apartheid-era bio-warfare program," the network's website adds. "Project Coast used germ warfare against select targets within the country's black population.
"Anthrax War also investigates the mysterious deaths of some of the world's leading anthrax scientists, including Dr. David Kelly, the UK's top military microbiologist, the Soviet defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, and Dr. Bruce Ivins," the CBC continues. "The FBI claims - despite the doubts of highly ranked U.S. officials - that Ivins was the only person behind the U.S. anthrax murders."
* * *
Watch Anthrax War - part 1
The question of whether Poland hosted a secret detention facility for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency remains murky, but evidence is mounting, slowly.
All may become a lot clearer if Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza is correct in reporting Wednesday that Poland's former leaders may face war crime charges for agreeing to host the facility.
According to earlier unconfirmed reports, Poland hosted a secret CIA prison in 2002-2005, during the presidency of Aleksander Kwasniewski and the government run by Leszek Miller, both leaders of the left-leaning Democratic Left Alliance.
Reports of the existence of the prison first appeared in 2005, and in 2007 a Council of Europe investigation led by Dick Marty concluded it had “factually established that secret detention centers operated by the CIA have existed for some years in Poland and Romania” and possibly other states, with the Polish facility being host to detainees who were considered especially sensitive.
It said “The detainees were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, sometimes protracted.”
Polish authorities have repeatedly denied the existence of any facility.
Since then, news media brought more details. In June 2008, the New York Times said, citing unnamed CIA officers, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been held in Poland. A Kuwaiti suspected of mass murder of civilians, he remains in U.S. custody. Later in the year, Polish daily Dziennik quoted two anonymous Polish intelligence officers who said the CIA held terror suspects inside a military intelligence training base in Kiejkuty, northeastern Poland. Only the CIA had access to the zone created in the secluded base, but which had easy access to a former military airport in the vicinity, according to the report.
Earlier this year for the first time the Polish aviation authority delivered the first official confirmation that airplanes operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency landed in Poland in 2003.
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The Federal Government has come under attack over "secret" plans to expand Western Australia's Curtin detention centre to house 3000 asylum seekers.
But Prime Minister Julia Gillard says any suggestion the centre will be enlarged to cater for that many is "simply not true" and there were "no secret plans".
About 560 Afghan men are currently housed at the centre near Derby in far north WA - 150 were transferred there from Christmas Island last week.
A Department of Immigration spokesman said Curtin was undergoing an expansion to boost accommodation to up to 600 detainees.
Today, Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison accused the government of having a "secret" plan to boost the centre's capacity.
Speaking to reporters in Sydney, Mr Morrison showed plans for the expansion of the centre, dated July 23, to increase its capacity from 600 to 3000.
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From Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America's Military Strategy in the Muslim World by Fred Branfman (Alternet):
The truth that many Americans find hard to take is that that mass U.S. assassination on a scale unequaled in world history lies at the heart of America's military strategy in the Muslim world, a policy both illegal and never seriously debated by Congress or the American people. Conducting assassination operations throughout the 1.3 billon-strong Muslim world will inevitably increase the murder of civilians and thus create exponentially more "enemies," as Gen. McChrystal suggests -- posing a major long-term threat to U.S. national security. This mass assassination program, sold as defending Americans, is actually endangering us all. Those responsible for it, primarily General Petraeus, are recklessly seeking short-term tactical advantage while making an enormous long-term strategic error that could lead to countless American deaths in the years and decades to come. General Petraeus must be replaced, and the U.S. military's policy of direct and mass assassination of Muslims ended.
The U.S. has conducted assassination programs in the Third World for decades, but the actual killing -- though directed and financed by the C.I.A. -- has been largely left to local paramilitary and police forces. This has now changed dramatically.
What is unprecedented today is the vast number of Americans directly assassinating Muslims -- through greatly expanded U.S. military Special Operations teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins and torturers. Most significant is the expanding geographic scope of their killing. While CENTCOM Commander from October 2008 until July 2010, General Petraeus received secret and unprecedented permission to unilaterally engage in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, former Russian Republics, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the Horn of Africa, and wherever else he deems necessary.
Never before has a nation unleashed so many assassins in so many foreign nations around the world (9,000 Special Operations soldiers are based in Iraq and Afghanistan alone) as well as implemented a policy that can be best described as unprecedented, remote-control, large-scale "mechanized assassination." As the N.Y. Times noted in December 2009: "For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war."
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Re: Resistance may be futile, Aug. 22
Thanks to Nicholas Keung for the well-researched article about Americans who have come to Canada as a way of resisting the United States' ill-advised wars. The article implies that Canadian attitudes to these people have changed since the '70s. On the contrary: Polls indicate that more than 60 per cent of Canadians want them to stay here, and Parliament, which represents Canadian citizens, has twice passed a motion to allow them to stay.
It is the minority Conservative government that has been so adamant that the war resisters are illegitimate refugees, and is doing everything it can to ignore the will of Parliament. The government wants to force them to return to a system that may jail them for a time, and subsequently prevent them from accessing normal civil rights. As Keung pointed out, Robin Long's dishonourable discharge means that for the rest of his life he is not allowed to vote. He can't get a passport or ever leave the U.S.
Once Bill C-440, an act in support of U.S. war resisters, is passed by Parliament, the government will finally be forced to listen to the will of Canadians and allow these brave men and women to stay here in Canada.
Elizabeth (Beth) Guthrie, Toronto
If we deport Iraq war resisters, we'll be losing something much more serious than merely the “generosity” we had in the Vietnam War era. Since the Iraq War was a first-strike war, we'll also be forgetting the hard-won Nuremberg Principles established after we witnessed World War II horrors and massive human suffering.
Thankfully, your article reminded us of this: “At the Nuremberg trials of Nazi members following World War II, the United Nations recognized that foot soldiers cannot justify their participation in war crimes on the excuse of following their superiors' order.”
Soon after the Sept. 27 vote on Bill C-440, there's Remembrance Day, or perhaps even an election day. Then those who vote for Stephen Harper, and his new immigration policy of red-flagging foot soldiers resisting a first-strike war, should ask themselves: Can we, without contradiction, say “Lest We Forget”?
Boyd Reimer, Toronto
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...If this disaster were preventable and we knew how to get out of it, why didn't our leaders try to stop it before it happened? Why don't they take the steps necessary now to get the economy moving again?
The answer to both these questions is simple: The politicians work for someone else. On Election Day, the politicians might need our votes, but they won't get to be serious contenders unless they've gotten the campaign contributions of the big money crew. And the moneyed elite has been using its control of the political process to ensure that an ever larger share of the economy's output is redistributed upward in their direction.
The reason that there was little interest in cracking down on the housing bubble is that Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and the rest were making a fortune from the financial shenanigans that fueled the bubble. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin personally pocketed over $100 million from this fun. Why would they want the government to rein it in?
Of course, when the bubble did finally blow and threaten their banks with bankruptcy, the Wall Street crew just ran to the government for help. And they got trillions of dollars in loans and loan guarantees to ensure that they would not be victims of the crisis they had created. Now that they are back on their feet, with Wall Street profits and bonuses both again at near record levels, they see little reason to concern themselves with the measures that might set the economy right for the rest of us.
After all, the steps necessary to revitalize the economy could mean some inflation. This would reduce the value of the debt owned by the wealthy. And the wealthy don't see any reason that they should risk any of their wealth just for the good of the economy.
We have enormous ground to cover to restore an economy that works for the vast majority, but the first step is to know where we are. The upward redistribution of the last three decades has nothing to do with the market and a belief in "market fundamentalism." This is about a process where the rich and powerful have rewritten the rules to make themselves richer and more powerful.
[ ... ]
No progressive movement will make any progress until we understand the battle we are fighting. Our income is a cost to the rich. They will look to cut it wherever they can, whether this is wages for private sector workers, pensions for public employees, or Social Security for retirees. That is their target.
We have to fight back using the same logic. Their income is our cost -- the multimillion dollar bonuses for the Wall Street wizards is a direct drain on the economy. So are the bloated paychecks of top executives and their lackey boards. Progressives must be prepared to use all the same tactics to bring down the income of the rich and powerful that they have used to reduce the income of everyone else.
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“When friends are outlawed, only outlaws will have friends.”
Ummm, yeah. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't watching. We knew it would happen sooner or later. The surveillance state is not only watching social media sites, the social media sites are the surveillance state.
Long time environmental and animal rights activist Rod Coronado is being sent back to prison for four months for “friending” Earth First!, RAN and Ruckus Society co-founder and anti-mountaintop removal organizer Mike Roselle on Facebook and for accessing an unauthorized compter. ...
Coronado known for “Operation Bite Back,” a series of animal liberation actions and arson in the 1990's for which he served a stint in federal prison, has been an outspoken opponent to cruelty to animals and environmental destruction since the 1980's. After serving that prison term, he continued to advocate direct action and spoke often on animal rights and environmental issues. In 2003, the federal government targeted him for a mountain lion hunt sabotage and speaking publicly about tactics he used in the 1990's.
And they went after him HARD. The way that Christian Bale went after Johnny Depp last summer in “Public Enemies.” He served 8 months for the hunt sabotage and struck a bargain after a jury returned deadlocked on the public speaking charges and a mistrial was declared. Part of the plea agreement was a year in prison and federal probation. They've gagged him. He's on monitored computers, he can't associate with radical environmentalists and he can't speak out on animal and environmental issues.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010
During the first seven months of the year 2010, 38 human beings died while attempting to cross the heavily guarded Turkish-Greek border. The corpses of the dead are being transferred to the department of forensic medicine of the university clinic of Alexandroupoulis. Since they can often not be identified, only a DNA-test is being carried out so that relatives can still gain certainty.
Mass grave in the Evros region
On 25th of June 2010 19 people drowned in the river Evros/Meriç. 14 corpses washed ashore on the Greek side and were brought to the university clinic by an undertaker from Orestiada. After the dead had been examined and registered, the undertaker brought them to a village of the Turkish minority on the mountains above Souflí for them to be buried on muslim cemetery.
cemetery of the illegal immigrants - muftia evros
However, the corpses can now be found in a mass grave outside the village of Sideró, in inaccessible terrain. Only a sign, riddled by many gun-shots, tells that this is the "cemetery of the illegal immigrants" where the corpses are buried. It is not immediately obvious that it is a mass grave. Upon closer inspection, one can however see holes that were excavated and again filled up by bulldozers and that can contain up to ten corpses.
Further investigation by w2eu, currently in the area to look for the corps of the father of a family who died in the incident on the 25th of June and whose family is currently in relative security shows that this practice has been ongoing for years. It is believed that between 150 and 200 dead have been buried in the mass grave. Although the local government ordered an ablution and burial according to muslim rite, the dead have merely been buried in the mass grave. This practice fundamentally lacks any respect for the dead as well as their relatives. Even an exhumation for the dead to be buried in a more dignified way is not possible anymore.
The existence of this mass grave at the external border of the EU fits the image of constant and continued humiliation and degradation of refugees. It is with a systematic brutality that refugees and migrants are stopped from crossing the borders, a brutality that even puts up with the death of those looking for protection. Even after their death, those human beings remain second class people that seemingly not even deserve a burial of human dignity.
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The national debt is the single biggest threat to national security, according to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Tax payers will be paying around $600 billion in interest on the national debt by 2012, the chairman told students and local leaders in Detroit.
“That's one year's worth of defense budget,” he said, adding that the Pentagon needs to cut back on spending.
“We're going to have to do that if it's going to survive at all,” Mullen said, “and do it in a way that is predictable.”
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As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it's worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren't the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.
American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E's machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.
“This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Reiss.
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New crime prediction software being rolled out in the nation's capital should reduce not only the murder rate, but the rate of many other crimes as well.
Developed by Richard Berk, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the software is already used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict which individuals on probation or parole are most likely to murder and to be murdered.
In his latest version, the one being implemented in D.C., Berk goes even further, identifying the individuals most likely to commit crimes other than murder.
If the software proves successful, it could influence sentencing recommendations and bail amounts.
"When a person goes on probation or parole they are supervised by an officer. The question that officer has to answer is 'what level of supervision do you provide?'" said Berk.
It used to be that parole officers used the person's criminal record, and their good judgment, to determine that level.
"This research replaces those seat-of-the-pants calculations," he said.
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On Wednesday August 18, the GB&GWU in its continued pursuit to ensure the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI) and the Government of Guyana respect bauxite workers' rights to Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining made its case before the Black and Ethnic Advisory Committee of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) in London, United Kingdom.
In the symposium organized by RMT to address this issue, Norman Browne, the Union's UK representative made a presentation that highlighted the plight of the bauxite workers and the government's response to the transgressions.
In presenting the Union's position of the 10 months old dispute, Browne pointed out the evident transgression of Section 23 (1) of the Trade Union Recognition and Certification Act (1997) which expressly says "When a trade union obtains a certificate of recognition for workers comprised in a bargaining unit in accordance with this Part, the employer shall recognize the union, and the union and the employer shall bargain in good faith and enter into negotiations with each other for the purpose of collective bargaining."
He highlighted the violation of the rights of the 57 workers who were placed on the breadline without due process.
He also apprised the audience of the Minister of Labour's responsibility under the Labour Laws of Guyana, Chapter 98:01 Section 4 (1) (a) (b) and (c) and the concerns of the Union at the tardiness of the Ministry of Labour in resolving the dispute, a dispute that has now become the longest running in the history of Guyana.
Dr Rupert Roopnarine, of the Working Peoples' Alliance, was another main speaker at the event. In addressing the gathering, he gave a historical perspective of the development of the trade union movement in Guyana and the political interference that saw a decline in the vibrancy of the Guyana Trades Union Congress and its umbrella unions.
Attendees at the symposium made known their concerns about the deterioration in Guyana and have given the commitment to the Union to stand by it in its struggle for the protection of rights and the upholding of the rule of law. Leaders and representatives from several organizations in the UK were in attendance; among them were Tongarara Danni of the Pan African Voice in London and Kwabena Gyakye of the UK's branch of the African People's Socialist Party (APSP).
On Friday August 13, the leadership of the Union, Messrs Leslie Gonsalves and Carlton Sinclair, along with Mr. Norris Witter, General Secretary (ag.), Guyana Trades Union Congress, met with Labour Minister, Mr. Manzoor Nadir.
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Cynthia McArthur surrounds herself with bicycles she can't ride.
McArthur, 58, used to work as a bicycle mechanic and once spent months pedaling across Europe - until chronic fatigue syndrome left her unable to work or bike more than a few blocks.
Now she spends her time repairing bicycles in the garage of her St. Paul home and coordinating a volunteer program that donates the bicycles to torture survivors. The "Bikes for Clients" program at the Center for Victims of Torture provides about 50 bicycles each year to adults and children.
"I suppose you could say, 'Oh, it's a way of taking lemons and turning it into lemonade,' or something silly like that," McArthur said. "It's not that goofy, but it is ironic because sometimes it was depressing that I couldn't do what I was helping other people do."
The McKnight Foundation announced Wednesday that McArthur and five other Minnesotans will receive Virginia McKnight Binger Awards in Human Service. The nonprofit provides the $10,000 awards to Minnesota residents "who have demonstrated an exceptional personal commitment to helping others in their communities but who have received little or no public recognition."
McArthur said that when a McKnight official called to tell her the news, she couldn't believe it.
"I almost fell off the chair that I was sitting in," she said. "It was totally out of the blue for me."
Other award recipients include Somali youth advocate Abdi Ali, homeless outreach volunteer Jerry Fleischaker, affordable housing landlord Dan Hunt, early education advocate Peg Johnson, and Korean War veteran and longtime volunteer Berlyn Staska.
McArthur began volunteering at the Center for Victims of Torture in 1996, after learning that the agency needed bicycle helmets for clients. Agency staff had been buying used bicycles at rummage sales, but they didn't know how to repair or maintain them.
For McArthur, it was a perfect fit. She grew up with a passion for bicycling and had worked repairing bicycles in the 1970s, when it "was totally uncool for a girl to be a bike mechanic," she said.
The volunteer work also allowed McArthur to fulfill a childhood promise.
"I had a lot of things happen to me when I was young that weren't good," she said. And I just remember saying, 'I'll never treat anybody like I've been treated.' So it's just been a conduit for me to exercise that value."
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Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni on Saturday praised France's crackdown on Roma and travellers, saying that President Nicolas Sarkozy's government is "simply copying Italy". French Interior Minsiter Brice Hortefeux defended the controversial deportations in a newspaper interview, claiming his critics are confined to the "billionaire left".
"For years now, Italy has been using the technique of voluntary and assisted repatriation," Maroni told the Corriere della Sera.
Maroni is a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, the junior partner in Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing government. Critics of France's policy include the Vatican and the authors of a UN report on racism.
He added that he would like to be able to deport European Union citizens who do not meet hs requirements for income and housing and will raise the proposal at an EU ministers' meeting in Paris on 6 September.
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Friday, August 27, 2010
From Does DNA Emit Light? by Dan Eden:
... Dr. Garjajev claims that this communication is not something that happens only inside the individual cells or between one cell and another. He claims organisms use this "light" to "talk" to other organisms and suggested that this could explain telepathy and ESP. It was like human beings already had their own wireless internet based on our DNA. Wow!
I tried to find a scientific journal that had this experiment. All I could find were blogs and other websites that carried the same story, word for word, without any references. That is until I stumbled on the work of Fritz-Albert Popp. Then everything I had just read seemed very plausible.
Fritz-Albert Popp thought he had discovered a cure for cancer. I'm not convinced that he didn't.
It was 1970, and Popp, a theoretical biophysicist at the University of Marburg in Germany, had been teaching radiology -- the interaction of electromagnetic (EM) radiation on biological systems. Popp was too early to worry about things like cellphones and microwave towers which are now commonly linked with cancers and leukemia. His world was much smaller.
He'd been examining two almost identical molecules: benzo[a]pyrene, a polycyclic hydrocarbon known to be one of the most lethal carcinogens to humans, and its twin (save for a tiny alteration in its molecular makeup), benzo[e]pyrene. He had illuminated both molecules with ultraviolet (UV) light in an attempt to find exactly what made these two almost identical molecules so different.
Why Ultra-violet light?
Popp chose to work specifically with UV light because of the experiments of a Russian biologist named Alexander Gurwitsch who, while working with onions in 1923, discovered that roots could stimulate a neighboring plant's roots if the two adjacent plants were in quartz glass pots but not if they were in silicon glass pots. The only difference being that the silicon filtered UV wavelengths of light while the quartz did not. Gurwitsch theorized that onion roots could communicate with each other by ultraviolet light.
All vibrations of energy are part of the electro-magnetic spectrum. These include electrical energy, heat, sound, light, radio waves and radioactive waves. UV light is merely a small portion of the spectrum of EM energy with a very short wavelength.
What Popp discovered was that benzo[a]pyrene (the cancer producing molecule) absorbed the UV light, then re-emitted it at a completely different frequency -- it was a light "scrambler". The benzo[e]pyrene (harmless to humans), allowed the UV light to pass through it unaltered.
Popp was puzzled by this difference, and continued to experiment with UV light and other compounds. He performed his test on 37 different chemicals, some cancer-causing, some not. After a while, he was able to predict which substances could cause cancer. In every instance, the compounds that were carcinogenic took the UV light, absorbed it and changed or scrambled the frequency.
There was another odd property of these compounds: each of the carcinogens reacted only to light at a specific frequency -- 380 nm (nanometres) in the ultra-violet range. Popp kept wondering why a cancer-causing substance would be a light scrambler. He began reading the scientific literature specifically about human biological reactions, and came across information about a phenomenon called 'photorepair'.
It is well known from biological laboratory experiments that if you blast a cell with UV light so that 99 per cent of the cell, including its DNA, is destroyed, you can almost entirely repair the damage in a single day just by illuminating the cell with the same wavelength at a much weaker intensity. To this day, scientists don't understand this phenomenon, called photorepair, but no one has disputed it.
Popp also knew that patients with xeroderma pigmentosum eventually die of skin cancer because their photorepair system can't repair solar damage. He was also struck by the fact that photorepair works most efficiently at 380 nm -- the same frequency that the cancer-causing compounds react to and scramble.
This was where Popp made his logical leap. If the carcinogens only react to this frequency, it must somehow be linked to photorepair. If so, this would mean that there must be some kind of light in the body responsible for photorepair. A compound must cause cancer because it permanently blocks this light and scrambles it, so photorepair can't work anymore. It seemed logical, but was it true?
Light inside the body
Popp was freaked out by this. He wrote about it in a paper and a prestigious medical journal agreed to publish it.
Not long after that, Popp was approached by a student named Bernhard Ruth, who asked Popp to supervise his work for his doctoral dissertation. Popp told Ruth he was prepared to do so if the student could show that light was emanating from the human body.
This meeting was fortuitous for Popp because Ruth happened to be an excellent experimental physicist. Ruth thought the idea was ridiculous, and immediately set to work building equipment to prove Popp's hypothesis wrong.
Within two years, Ruth had constructed a machine resembling a big X-ray detector which used a photomultiplier to count light, photon by photon. Even today, it is still one of the best pieces of equipment in the field. The machine had to be highly sensitive because it had to measure what Popp assumed would be extremely weak emissions. ...
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Thursday, August 26, 2010
By Pavol Stracansky (IPS)
Almost 25 years after the world's worst nuclear accident a series of new scientific studies have suggested the effects of the Chernobyl disaster have been underestimated.
Scientists last month published information that, contradicting previous claims, animal populations are declining in the exclusion zone surrounding the site of the former Soviet nuclear power plant, and that radiation contamination effects following the explosion had been "overwhelming".
The German government also reported that compensation payouts made to hunters capturing radioactive wild boar had quadrupled in the last two years as more and more animals were found to have high levels of caesium.
This came just months after doctors in the Ukraine and Belarus said they had seen a rise in cancer rates, mutations and blood diseases in patients they believe are linked to Chernobyl. And a separate U.S. study published in April claimed there had been a rise in birth defects thought to be linked to continuing exposure to low-level radiation doses.
Campaigners against nuclear power say that the studies show that people will be living with the devastating consequences of the disaster for decades, possibly centuries, to come.
Rianne Teule, a campaigner on nuclear issues at Greenpeace, told IPS: "This is a problem that will not go away in a few years, it will be here for hundreds of years to come.
"The new studies confirm that the problems, as presented in 2006 by the World Health Organisation and International Atomic Energy Agency, were really much bigger and will continue to exist and be shown up in other studies. It is not something that is going to go away soon."
When one of the blocks of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in what is today the Ukraine exploded in April 1986, it caused the world's worst nuclear disaster. It was estimated that the total radioactivity from Chernobyl was 200 times that of the combined releases from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The blast and following fires sent a huge radioactive cloud spreading across Europe, and 350,000 people in areas near the plant had to be evacuated.
The United Nations, World Health Organisation, International Atomic Energy Agency and other bodies later joined with the Russian, Belarus and Ukraine governments to set up the 'Chernobyl Forum' to undertake a major study into the effects of the disaster, and released their findings in 2006.
Their study claimed that there had been only 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers and nine children with thyroid cancer), and estimated a future 4,000 deaths due to the accident.
But the report was heavily criticised by other groups who said it grossly underestimated the deaths and potential future health effects of the disaster and had used selective reporting of data.
Some questioned the stance of the IAEA, which has backed the use of civil nuclear power for decades.
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Erin Rosa reports for Narconews:
US State Department Claims Blackwater Corporation Gave Military Training in Colombia Without Agency's Permission
Blackwater, a corporation that specializes in providing military-style training and support to other businesses and governments, recently entered into a $42 million civil settlement with the State Department this month after the agency found that the company violated international arms trafficking and export regulations no less than 288 times.The settlement is mainly focused on the company's business dealings in Iraq and Afghanistan, but within a 41-page document (PDF) of the State Department's findings on the case, the agency also claims that Blackwater provided at least one unauthorized military training in Colombia in 2005, allegedly in violation of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
[ ... ]
Also in the document, under the heading “Unauthorized export of technical data and provision of defense services involving Military/Security training (conducted internationally),” the State Department goes into more detail about the training, stating that “between April 2005 and May 2005” Blackwater “without authorization provided security training to Colombian foreign persons.”
The details of this “unauthorized” training are made more disturbing when considering how the Colombian military and paramilitaries in the country continue to participate in well-documented human rights abuses, including assassinations, massacres, and political intimidation, mostly by using the drug war or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC in Spanish initials) guerillas as an excuse.
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Did Germany experience rapid industrial expansion in the 19th century due to an absence of copyright law? A German historian argues that the massive proliferation of books, and thus knowledge, laid the foundation for the country's industrial might.
The entire country seemed to be obsessed with reading. The sudden passion for books struck even booksellers as strange and in 1836 led literary critic Wolfgang Menzel to declare Germans "a people of poets and thinkers."
"That famous phrase is completely misconstrued," declares economic historian Eckhard Höffner, 44. "It refers not to literary greats such as Goethe and Schiller," he explains, "but to the fact that an incomparable mass of reading material was being produced in Germany."
Höffner has researched that early heyday of printed material in Germany and reached a surprising conclusion -- unlike neighboring England and France, Germany experienced an unparalleled explosion of knowledge in the 19th century.
German authors during this period wrote ceaselessly. Around 14,000 new publications appeared in a single year in 1843. Measured against population numbers at the time, this reaches nearly today's level. And although novels were published as well, the majority of the works were academic papers.
The situation in England was very different. "For the period of the Enlightenment and bourgeois emancipation, we see deplorable progress in Great Britain," Höffner states.
Equally Developed Industrial Nation
Indeed, only 1,000 new works appeared annually in England at that time -- 10 times fewer than in Germany -- and this was not without consequences. Höffner believes it was the chronically weak book market that caused England, the colonial power, to fritter away its head start within the span of a century, while the underdeveloped agrarian state of Germany caught up rapidly, becoming an equally developed industrial nation by 1900.
Even more startling is the factor Höffner believes caused this development -- in his view, it was none other than copyright law, which was established early in Great Britain, in 1710, that crippled the world of knowledge in the United Kingdom.
Germany, on the other hand, didn't bother with the concept of copyright for a long time. Prussia, then by far Germany's biggest state, introduced a copyright law in 1837, but Germany's continued division into small states meant that it was hardly possible to enforce the law throughout the empire.
Höffner's diligent research is the first academic work to examine the effects of the copyright over a comparatively long period of time and based on a direct comparison between two countries, and his findings have caused a stir among academics. Until now, copyright was seen as a great achievement and a guarantee for a flourishing book market. Authors are only motivated to write, runs the conventional belief, if they know their rights will be protected.
Yet a historical comparison, at least, reaches a different conclusion. Publishers in England exploited their monopoly shamelessly. New discoveries were generally published in limited editions of at most 750 copies and sold at a price that often exceeded the weekly salary of an educated worker.
London's most prominent publishers made very good money with this system, some driving around the city in gilt carriages. Their customers were the wealthy and the nobility, and their books regarded as pure luxury goods. In the few libraries that did exist, the valuable volumes were chained to the shelves to protect them from potential thieves.
In Germany during the same period, publishers had plagiarizers -- who could reprint each new publication and sell it cheaply without fear of punishment -- breathing down their necks. Successful publishers were the ones who took a sophisticated approach in reaction to these copycats and devised a form of publication still common today, issuing fancy editions for their wealthy customers and low-priced paperbacks for the masses.
A Multitude of Treatises
This created a book market very different from the one found in England. Bestsellers and academic works were introduced to the German public in large numbers and at extremely low prices. "So many thousands of people in the most hidden corners of Germany, who could not have thought of buying books due to the expensive prices, have put together, little by little, a small library of reprints," the historian Heinrich Bensen wrote enthusiastically at the time.
The prospect of a wide readership motivated scientists in particular to publish the results of their research. In Höffner's analysis, "a completely new form of imparting knowledge established itself."
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... The Swedish queen Christina wanted it all. On her orders, 500 paintings, 370 scientific instruments, 70 bronze statues, thousands of jewels, medals, and curios, and the live lion were loaded onto barges and shipped to Sweden. But most of all she wanted the books. "Do not forget to procure and send me the library and the rarities there in Prague," she told her military commanders. "These, as you know, are all I really care about." The Thirty Years War was all about plunder, and Christina wanted to get one last shipment in before the peace treaty was signed.
Fast-forward 362 years and the Silver Bible is still in Sweden (despite a brief sojourn to the Netherlands in the late 17th century), the most prized volume in the collections of the University of Uppsala and, indeed, the most valuable book in all of Sweden.
And the Czechs want it back.
After the collapse of communism, Czech president Vaclav Havel tried to persuade Sweden to return the Silver Bible and several other objects taken from Bohemia during the Thirty Years War. He was refused, leaving the Czechs despondent. As the director of the Czech National Library later put it, "If Vaclav Havel did not succeed then no one will succeed." Sweden has allowed another manuscript seized from Prague—the Devil's Bible, or Codex Gigas—to be exhibited in the Czech Republic, but has made it clear that the books and everything else their armies seized now belong to them.
Over the past two decades, globalization, changing attitudes, and the spread of both international law and civil lawsuits have emboldened aggrieved nations to demand the return of cultural property seized by enemy forces decades or even centuries ago, and a few holders of these spoils have complied. Five years ago, Japan returned a Korean monument on the centennial of its theft during the Russo-Japanese War; three years before that, Italy returned a 3,000-year-old obelisk taken during Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia.
But more often than not, the plunder has remained with the plunderer, despite near universal condemnation of the practice by some current belligerents. The Swiss canton of St. Gallen lobbied for years to force Zurich canton to return a 16th-century wooden globe seized in a 1712 invasion, but in 2006 had to settle for a replica. Sweden, which hasn't fought a war in two centuries, has been under pressure to return looted cultural items not only to the Czechs but also to Poland, Denmark, Norway, and even its own region of Skåne, which it seized from the Danes in 1658. (As one blogger puts it: "It cannot be acceptable that I should have to take my grandchild in the hand, travel 650 kilometers to [the Swedish town of] Skokloster in order to see and experience our own Scanian history and culture.")
Meanwhile, Germany has been angrily insisting that Russia return a vast trove of art looted at the end of World War II, even as Poland demands billions in compensation for cultural artifacts stolen or destroyed during the Nazi occupation.
Returning plunder to its rightful owner may sound straightforward, but in practice it is extremely difficult, particularly for objects seized in the distant past. Who the "rightful" owner is seems to depend largely on your point of view. After all, for much of human history, armies plundered the vanquished as a matter of course and sometimes went to war solely to do so. Well into the 17th century, armies survived by stealing crops, livestock, and other civilian property, their soldiers pilfering valuables in lieu of a proper salary or disability benefit. Virtually every belligerent participated, causing particular treasures to change hands over and over again, the original "owner" sometimes having been forgotten altogether, occasionally because their civilization had ceased to exist. Spanish conquistadors seized shiploads of Aztec gold artifacts that are now scattered in museums around the world, while European powers and American armies absconded with the cultural heritage of numerous African and Native American peoples by force of arms. In some cases, it is difficult or impossible to establish who would be a legitimate inheritor of these objects, even if the present owners agreed to return them.
Determining the legitimate owner of something as old as the Silver Bible can be a futile task. The Ostrogoths who created it died out centuries ago, and the Czechs weren't in control of Prague when the Swedes arrived in 1648, the city being part of the now extinct Holy Roman Empire. Sure, the bible belonged to German-speaking emperors for 60 years, but nobody knows how they extracted it from the Benedictines. The Swedes have at this point possessed the book six times longer than anyone in Prague ever did, so it is not surprising that they don't feel compelled to hand it over.
The fact is, there is no legal or customary basis to demand the return of anything plundered prior to the turn of the 20th century. Doing so successfully is ultimately a matter of public relations, of convincing whoever possesses the object that giving it back is the right thing to do.
"There's no source of international law that clearly goes back before the late 19th century, and there's no [international] statute of limitations that would get you back to the 15th, 16th or 17th centuries," says Patty Gerstenblith, director of the Center for Art, Museum, and Cultural Heritage Law at the DePaul University College of Law. "There are examples of things being returned from long ago, but they were done on a cooperative or moral basis, not a legal one."
Indeed, moral campaigns can succeed, even when the law is fixed against them. Take the case of the ghost shirt of Glasgow. The sandy brown tunic adorned with eagle feathers was a magical object created in the 19th century by the Lakota (or Sioux) Indians and worn by followers of the Ghost Dance religion. Lakota Ghost Dancers believed the ghost shirts would make them invulnerable to Western weaponry, which, unfortunately for them, was not the case. On December 29, 1890, the U.S. 7th Cavalry ambushed a band of Lakotas at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, killing between 150 and 300, including women, children, and Ghost Dancers. (The army lost 25 men, most to friendly fire.) The bodies were looted and piled into mass graves. One of the plundered ghost shirts was acquired a month or so later by George Crager, a Lakota-speaking adventurer and journalist, who took it with him when he joined William "Wild Bill" Cody's traveling Wild West Show as a translator for Indian performers. While on tour in Scotland in 1892, Crager donated the bloodstained ghost shirt to the city of Glasgow, where officials placed it in their museum.
A century later, an American tourist of Cherokee descent came across the museum exhibit and was stunned to find something "stolen from a dead body at Wounded Knee." The tourist contacted the Lakota, who were amazed to learn that a ghost shirt from the famous massacre had survived, and began a tenacious letter-writing campaign to have it returned to their reservation. Glasgow's city council was adamant that the celebrated artifact should stay put, its case backed up by a recently passed British law declaring all museum artifacts in the United Kingdom to be British property.
The Lakota had no legal footing, but they sent delegations of tribal members to Glasgow who performed solemn ceremonies to bless the shirt and took their case to the local media. Letters poured in to the museum and to newspapers expressing overwhelming support for the shirt to be returned. The Lakota's tragic story, introduced to the Scots by the wildly successful 1990 film Dances with Wolves, struck a chord in a nation that had itself been brutally subjugated by a more industrialized neighbor. "We as a nation have witnessed our own culture being ravaged and treated with disrespect and contempt," one writer declared. "The shirt should be handed back immediately." When the Lakota delegations returned to city hall in 1998, the city did just that. The ghost shirt is now being held at the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre until the Lakota complete a museum to house it. ...
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Hopefully, this insight will lead to a revision of the 'official' version of modern American history! From Eleanor J. Baader's review on Truthout:
...Tales of what actually happened vary depending on who is doing the telling and why they're talking. What's more, race, class, gender and personal identity impact the thing we call history. In the end, what one person chooses to emphasize will be deemed insignificant, or even irrelevant, by someone else.
Kyle Ward, director of social studies education at Minnesota's St. Cloud University, concludes, "every person involved in a historical event, from the original actors to the historians who have written about it, have been influenced by their own society/culture, no matter what era they wrote and did their research in."
His latest book, "Not Written in Stone," looks at the ways historical events have been presented to students over the past 200 years and offers textbook excerpts from multiple eras to illustrate the ways in which emphasis and details have changed over time. In 29 chapters, he elucidates the portrayal of everything from Native Americans to women alleged to be witches to Revolutionary and Civil War battles. He also examines Reconstruction, slavery, 19th century immigration and the early years of US industry. It's a fascinating read, made particularly startling because Ward adds almost no commentary to the segments he includes. He simply lets each excerpt stand alone, forcing the reader to acknowledge that our understanding of events and actions is completely reliant on the "facts" a particular historian chooses to present.
[ ... ]
The book's release is also extremely well timed. The religious right's current fight against liberalism and science - evidenced in the Texas school board's removal of the age of the universe from science textbooks, deletion of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta from social studies books and whitewashing of Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist antics from history texts - has brought the reality of educational manipulation into sharp focus.
Although Ward does not address this recent brouhaha, he believes that history is so complex that no single account can fully explain events either cataclysmic or small. Instead, he presents history as the slow unfolding of everyday life, a process that requires sifting through articles, books, original documents and eyewitness accounts to arrive at an understanding of what might have occurred.
"Not Written in Stone" opens with a chapter called "Images of Native Americans." He begins with a selection from a book penned by Noah Webster in 1831: "In general, a savage is governed by his passions ... He is remarkably hospitable to strangers, offering them the best accommodation he has and always serving them first ... Their religion was idolatry, for they worshipped the sun, the moon, the earth, fire, images and the like."
Eighty-one years later, cultural differences are played up even further: "The squaw's first duty was to care for the children. She had a queer-looking cradle, or cradleboard, for her papoose, as she called her child," Wilbur F. Gordy wrote in 1913. "Before the white man came, the Indian had never seen a sword, a gun, an iron axe, nor a knife made of metal ... They made life easier for him."
William Backus Guitteau's 1930 text, "Our United States," moved the focus from cultural exoticism to present Native Americans as brutal antagonists. "Their warfare was cruel almost beyond belief," he wrote. "The warrior scalped his dead foe and wore the scalp as a trophy and proof of his prowess. Captives were tortured with every cruelty that human ingenuity could devise."
By 1991, however, Clarence L. Ver Steeg's and Carol Ann Skinner's "Exploring America's Heritage" downplayed violence and instead focused on communal living and nurturance. "In almost every group," they wrote, "children learned without school buildings, books, or hired teacher. Parents, grandparents and elders were the teachers. The world was the classroom." The authors also address the longstanding environmental stewardship of native tribes. "They did not believe that people could own land. They felt that people - like air, land and water - were part of nature. The Indians felt that everyone must use these gifts of nature with care and honor."
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Britain is one of the world's leading surveillance states. Privacy International, an advocacy group, ranks the U.K. right behind flagrant offenders like Russia and China. But such concerns didn't hit home for British filmmaker David Bond until the U.K. government lost a slew of data on his newborn daughter. In response, Bond decided to see what it would take to escape detection for a month in his data-happy homeland. The experiment turned into a documentary, Erasing David, now available for download from iTunes and Amazon.com. Bond sat down with TIME to talk about his film.
What made you finally want to get off the grid?
I got a letter from the U.K. government in 2007, saying they had lost my daughter's details. It was pretty stressful experience — they lost her name, her date of birth, my name, my bank account details, our address. It really freaked me out and made me think that if that type of data can be lost with a kid that age, what risk are the rest of us at?
It seems like privacy is an oft-discussed concern in Britain. What has the government done that's been cause for alarm?
There's always a balance between privacy and security. You've got to know where you want to draw that line, and for various reasons, the British government has drawn the line in a pretty frightening place. I think those reasons are terrorism, fear of crime and also the fact that we didn't we have the problems in the Second World War that our European neighbors did. We don't have the kind of collective memory of what its like to live in a state that surveils its population.
How'd you structure your escape for the film?
We went looking for private investigators, and found these amazing guys called Cerberus, who are known as a group who always find their man. They took on the challenge. From that point, we had to plan the date the disappearance would be and give them very limited information about me — just my name and photo.
Did you meet with anyone or get any tips before the chase started?
I had some obvious advice like, "Don't use your cell phone," and some then some really cool advice like, "Don't take tons of cash because you might lose it all. Instead, use an ATM, but only use it right before you travel." The other people I met were victims of the database state, people who had suffered as a result of details being lost or misappropriated. I met a girl who couldn't get a job because she's on some criminal database as a shoplifter, but she never did that. I met a guy who was caught up in an operation to do pornography on the web, but his name was just spelled wrong. These nightmare stories result from the increasingly digitized world that we live in. (See the top 10 Ye Olde British criminal trials.)
So once the chase began, what was the first day like?
I took pretty serious precautions. I booked a ticket on Eurostar — the train to Paris — in someone else's name, and then I immediately went to the Eurostar station and switched the ticket to my name and left. I was out of the country within forty minutes. But I knew I had to come back, because I didn't want to do a film about whether you could live privately abroad. The PIs did say to me, "Go anywhere in the world. We'll catch you." But I ended up coming back to Britain.
Did they set up traps for you along the way?
They came up with a bunch of really cunning stuff. They set up a website called whereisdavid.co.uk and sent me an e-mail saying, "Hey, we know where you are! And here it is on this website!" I knew that they might track me if I visited it, but I went to an Internet cafe and checked it out, and sure enough, they had loads of information on me about where I'd already been. They were hoping to pin me on my IP address but they also were driving me into a state of nervousness and paranoia. I also had deleted my Facebook page before I went away — I thought it would be an easy way to get to me. But they'd managed to harvest my friend's details from Facebook. Even when you delete your profile, loads of data stay up there. They made a fake profile of me called Phileas Fogg, as in the guy from Around the World in 80 Days, and they sent it to my friends saying, "Hey, I'm on the run, I'd love to get in touch." And loads of them responded.
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