of North Dakota
The Bank of North Dakota - the nation's only state-owned bank - might seem to be a relic.
But now officials in other states are wondering if it is helping North Dakota sail through the national recession.
Gubernatorial candidates in Florida and Oregon and a Washington state legislator are advocating the creation of state-owned banks in those states. A report prepared for a Vermont House committee last month said the idea had "considerable merit." Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore promotes the bank on his Web site.
"There's a lot of hurt out there, a lot of states that are in trouble, and they're tying the Bank of North Dakota together with this economic success that we're having right now," said the bank's president, Eric Hardmeyer.
Hardmeyer says he's gotten "tons" of inquiries about the bank's workings, including questions from officials in California, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington state. North Dakota has the nation's lowest unemployment rate at 4.4 percent, soaring oil production and a robust state budget surplus - but Hardmeyer says the bank isn't responsible for the prosperity.
"We are a catalyst, perhaps, or maybe a
part of it," he said. "To put this at
our feet is flattering, but it frankly isn't true."
The bank had almost $4 billion in assets and a $2.67 billion loan portfolio at the end of last year, according to its most recent quarterly financial report. It made $58.1 million in profits in 2009, setting a record for the sixth straight year. During the last decade, the bank funneled almost $300 million in profits to North Dakota's treasury.
The bank has the advantage of being the repository for most state funds, which can be used for loans and occasional relief for private banks that need a jolt of cash during sluggish credit markets.
"We think of ourselves as kind of a little mini-Federal Reserve," Hardmeyer said.
The state earns roughly 0.25 percent less interest than state agencies would get from a commercial institution. The bank also pays no state or federal taxes and has no deposit insurance; North Dakota taxpayers are on the hook for any losses.
The Bank of North Dakota was a cornerstone of the agenda of the Nonpartisan League, a farmers' political insurgency spawned by anger about outside control of North Dakota's credit and grain markets.
Founded in 1915 by A.C. Townley, who became a Socialist Party organizer after he went broke raising flax in western North Dakota, the NPL advocated state-owned banks to provide low-interest farm loans, along with state flour mills, grain elevators, meatpacking houses and hail insurance.
Supporters gained control of the legislature and the governorship within five years. The movement's power quickly waned, but two of its state-owned businesses survived - the Bank of North Dakota and a state flour mill and grain elevator in Grand Forks.
From the 1940s until the early 1960s, the bank served mostly as a public funds depository and municipal bond buyer, said Rozanne Enerson Junker, author of a 1989 history of the bank. Its economic development activity has greatly expanded since.
Gary Petersen, president of the Lakeside State Bank of New Town, a community on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in northwestern North Dakota, said the state bank is often willing to take a stake in local development projects.
"In my experience, you make a contact with the (Bank of North Dakota), and their question is, 'How do we get this done?'" Petersen said. "They're not looking at ways to knock it down."
Alerus Financial, a Grand Forks bank, has sold about $115 million of its $600 million loan portfolio to the Bank of North Dakota, both to spread its risk and provide itself with additional loan money, said Karl Bollingberg, Alerus' director of banking services.
"If you're left to find other participating banks, that can be very challenging," he said. "They don't have the same interest that the Bank of North Dakota has in helping you to do deals."
Mauro Guillen, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, said it is unlikely other states would open similar banks, in part because "the political culture here is very much against that kind of a thing."
Some state and federal agencies, such as the Small Business Administration, already have economic development programs similar to those at the Bank of North Dakota, Guillen said.
Bollingberg said the idea of other state-owned banks would also likely rouse opposition from private banks that wanted to keep their share of state deposits. "Because the (Bank of North Dakota) has been here so long, no banks know what it was like to have those deposits," he said.
Hardmeyer said he, too, was always doubtful others would take up North Dakota's model, but now he's not so sure.
"When I see what's going on around the country, it's not quite as far a leap as I thought it once was," he said.
On the Net:
Bank of North Dakota: http://www.banknd.nd.gov/
Speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of millions. What does it say about our system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?
Friday, 2 July 2010
By now, you probably think your opinion of Goldman Sachs and its swarm of Wall Street allies has rock-bottomed at raw loathing. You're wrong. There's more. It turns out that the most destructive of all their recent acts has barely been discussed at all. Here's the rest. This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world.
It starts with an apparent mystery. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people mostly children couldn't afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls it "a silent mass murder", entirely due to "man-made actions."
Earlier this year I was in Ethiopia, one of the worst-hit countries, and people there remember the food crisis as if they had been struck by a tsunami. "My children stopped growing," a woman my age called Abiba Getaneh, told me. "I felt like battery acid had been poured into my stomach as I starved. I took my two daughters out of school and got into debt. If it had gone on much longer, I think my baby would have died."
Most of the explanations we were given at the time have turned out to be false. It didn't happen because supply fell: the International Grain Council says global production of wheat actually increased during that period, for example. It isn't because demand grew either: as Professor Jayati Ghosh of the Centre for Economic Studies in New Delhi has shown, demand actually fell by 3 per cent. Other factors like the rise of biofuels, and the spike in the oil price made a contribution, but they aren't enough on their own to explain such a violent shift.
To understand the biggest cause, you have to plough through some concepts that will make your head ache but not half as much as they made the poor world's stomachs ache.
For over a century, farmers in wealthy countries have been able to engage in a process where they protect themselves against risk. Farmer Giles can agree in January to sell his crop to a trader in August at a fixed price. If he has a great summer, he'll lose some cash, but if there's a lousy summer or the global price collapses, he'll do well from the deal. When this process was tightly regulated and only companies with a direct interest in the field could get involved, it worked.
Then, through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into "derivatives" that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in "food speculation" was born.
So Farmer Giles still agrees to sell his crop in advance to a trader for £10,000. But now, that contract can be sold on to speculators, who treat the contract itself as an object of potential wealth. Goldman Sachs can buy it and sell it on for £20,000 to Deutsche Bank, who sell it on for £30,000 to Merrill Lynch and on and on until it seems to bear almost no relationship to Farmer Giles's crop at all.
If this seems mystifying, it is. John Lanchester, in his superb guide to the world of finance, Whoops! Why Everybody Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay, explains: "Finance, like other forms of human behaviour, underwent a change in the 20th century, a shift equivalent to the emergence of modernism in the arts a break with common sense, a turn towards self-referentiality and abstraction and notions that couldn't be explained in workaday English." Poetry found its break with realism when T S Eliot wrote "The Wasteland". Finance found its Wasteland moment in the 1970s, when it began to be dominated by complex financial instruments that even the people selling them didn't fully understand.
So what has this got to do with the bread on Abiba's plate? Until deregulation, the price for food was set by the forces of supply and demand for food itself. (This was already deeply imperfect: it left a billion people hungry.) But after deregulation, it was no longer just a market in food. It became, at the same time, a market in food contracts based on theoretical future crops and the speculators drove the price through the roof.
Here's how it happened. In 2006, financial speculators like Goldmans pulled out of the collapsing US real estate market. They reckoned food prices would stay steady or rise while the rest of the economy tanked, so they switched their funds there. Suddenly, the world's frightened investors stampeded on to this ground.
So while the supply and demand of food stayed pretty much the same, the supply and demand for derivatives based on food massively rose which meant the all-rolled-into-one price shot up, and the starvation began. The bubble only burst in March 2008 when the situation got so bad in the US that the speculators had to slash their spending to cover their losses back home.
When I asked Merrill Lynch's spokesman to comment on the charge of causing mass hunger, he said: "Huh. I didn't know about that." He later emailed to say: "I am going to decline comment." Deutsche Bank also refused to comment. Goldman Sachs were more detailed, saying they sold their index in early 2007 and pointing out that "serious analyses ... have concluded index funds did not cause a bubble in commodity futures prices", offering as evidence a statement by the OECD.
How do we know this is wrong? As Professor Ghosh points out, some vital crops are not traded on the futures markets, including millet, cassava, and potatoes. Their price rose a little during this period but only a fraction as much as the ones affected by speculation. Her research shows that speculation was "the main cause" of the rise.
So it has come to this. The world's wealthiest speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of hundreds of millions of innocent people. They gambled on increasing starvation, and won. Their Wasteland moment created a real wasteland. What does it say about our political and economic system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?
If we don't re-regulate, it is only a matter of time before this all happens again. How many people would it kill next time? The moves to restore the pre-1990s rules on commodities trading have been stunningly sluggish. In the US, the House has passed some regulation, but there are fears that the Senate drenched in speculator-donations may dilute it into meaninglessness. The EU is lagging far behind even this, while in Britain, where most of this "trade" takes place, advocacy groups are worried that David Cameron's government will block reform entirely to please his own friends and donors in the City.
Only one force can stop another speculation-starvation-bubble. The decent people in developed countries need to shout louder than the lobbyists from Goldman Sachs. The World Development Movement is launching a week of pressure this summer as crucial decisions on this are taken: text WDM to 82055 to find out what you can do.
The last time I spoke to her, Abiba said: "We can't go through that another time. Please make sure they never, never do that to us again."
Doubts Grow -
Dr David Kelly's"Suicide"
By Alex Newman
June 30, 2010 "New American" -- New revelations in the suspicious suicide death of whistle-blower Dr. David Kelly point even more strongly to the possibility of murder and a subsequent cover-up, according to an explosive investigation by the British newspaper Daily Mail.
David Kelly served as a United Nations
weapons-of-mass-destruction inspector in Iraq and as a
scientist for the United Kingdoms Ministry of
Defense. He was widely considered the worlds
foremost expert in chemical and biological weapons, even
serving as a proof reader on the British
governments intelligence report about Iraqi WMDs.
He disagreed with some of the claims and told his
superiors, but was ignored.
Seven years ago, a strange saga began when Kelly sparked a massive scandal. He leaked details of the governments WMD lies used to justify invading Iraq to various journalists. His identity was eventually revealed as the source, and Parliament called him to testify for an investigation it was conducting into the explosive allegations. Then, before he could reveal even more devastating secrets, he turned up dead.
The government, led by Prime Minister Tony Blair, immediately quashed the regular coroners inquest a legal requirement in cases like this. Instead, it set up a much weaker inquiry, headed by Lord Hutton, into the untimely death.
But as soon as the "investigation" concluded that Kellys demise was a suicide caused by a self-inflicted knife wound, the media began picking the story apart, pointing out inconsistencies and asking tough questions that still have not been answered satisfactorily if they were addressed at all. The inquiry has been labeled a whitewash and a cover-up by numerous media outlets, investigators, doctors, and researchers.
The two paramedics who were at the scene of Kellys body went public with their belief that a severed artery was not the cause of death, as the official report had claimed. "I just think it is incredibly unlikely that he died from the wrist wound we saw," paramedic Vanessa Hunt told the British press. There just wasn't a lot of blood. When someone cuts an artery, whether accidentally or intentionally, the blood pumps everywhere." The other paramedic offered a similar analysis.
A team of concerned scientists and doctors also banded together to form the Kelly Investigation Group. They, too, believed there were serious deficiencies in the inquiry, saying the official conclusion was highly improbable.
Arteries in the wrist are of matchstick thickness and severing them does not lead to life-threatening blood loss, three members of the group, all medical specialists, wrote in a letter to the Guardian newspaper calling for the inquest to be re-opened. To have died from haemorrhage [sic], Dr Kelly would have had to lose about five pints of blood it is unlikely that he would have lost more than a pint.
The team also noted that the alleged amount of pain pills Kelly was said to have ingested would not have contributed to his death. Only a part of one tablet was actually found in his stomach.
Adding more doubt to the official story, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request showed there were no finger prints on the knife Kelly supposedly used to kill himself.
"Someone who wanted to kill themselves wouldn't go to the lengths of wiping the knife clean of fingerprints, said British Minister of Parliament and current Transportation Secretary Norman Baker, who wrote a book about Kelly claiming he was killed because he might reveal more about the lies used in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. "It is just very suspicious. It is one of the things that makes me think Dr. Kelly was murdered. The case should be re-opened."
A police spokesperson acknowledged the lack of fingerprints, but said it does not change the official explanation.
Suspicions in the case grew even more after it was revealed earlier this year that documents in the official investigation had been secretly classified by the British government for an astonishing 70 years, an unprecedented move that fanned the flames of skepticism. All medical, scientific, and photographic records were totally sealed by Lord Hutton, including the post mortem.
This inexplicable secrecy can excite only suspicion that the authorities have something very bad indeed to hide, noted Melanie Phillips in a report for the Daily Mail. I myself have met people familiar with the shadowy world in which Dr Kelly moved who are certain he was murdered. Another Daily Mail article reported that the legal basis for the gag order has baffled experts accustomed to such matters.
Researchers have raised countless problems with the official story too many to go over in detail in one article. But some of the new information collected by the Daily Mail in a more recent article entitled Dr David Kelly: The damning new evidence that points to a cover-up by Tony Blair's government is worth recounting.
Our new revelations include the ambiguous nature of the wording on Dr Kellys death certificate; the existence of an anonymous letter which says his colleagues were warned to stay away from his funeral; and an extraordinary claim that the wallpaper at Dr Kellys home was stripped by police in the hours after he was reported missing - but before his body was found, the paper reported, noting that its rigorous and thorough investigation had turned up evidence which raises still more disturbing questions.
The death certificate, only recently obtained, used peculiar wording in the box meant for entering the place of death. Instead of naming it, the certificate said Kelly was found dead at Harrowdown Hill. Experts say the wording alone is enough to open another investigation, especially since there are numerous other irregularities involving the location of Kellys body (like heat-sensing helicopters that, based on the official story, should have found the body when flying over).
The death certificate also states that a coroners inquest was performed. But it wasnt. It also lacks a doctors or coroners signature, something all death certificates in the U.K. are required to have.
"This death certificate is evidence of a failure properly to examine the cause of Dr Kellys death. It is evidence of a pre-judgment of the issue. In a coroners inquest the cause of death would not be registered until the whole inquiry had been completed. As we see here, the cause of death was registered before the Hutton Inquiry had finished, said former coroner and law expert Dr. Michael Powers QC, who aims to have a thorough investigation conducted.
This is remarkable, he told the paper. To my mind it is evidence that the inquiry into Dr Kellys death was window-dressing because the conclusion had already been determined.
On top of the Hutton Inquirys many obvious shortcomings, a letter received last month by one of the doctors involved in the Kelly Investigation Group claims Kellys colleagues were warned not to attend his funeral. Kellys widow also said police came to the house and tore off wallpaper, possibly searching for listening devices, shortly after Kelly was reported missing, but prior to the discovery of his body. Authorities refuse to comment on the allegation.
The doctors investigating the suspicious death said concern about Dr Kellys death will continue to deepen until a full coroners inquest is heard, the Daily Mail reported, adding that if such an inquest is performed, Tony Blair might well be expected to testify about why he went to such lengths to avoid the normal, rigorous and respected course of this countrys law.
Concluding, the paper noted that Blairs reputation, as well as the reputation of the British legal system, will continue to suffer until a proper investigation is conducted, which is the only way the whole truth about the Kelly affair, however uncomfortable, will emerge.
Now, after all these years, there are hints that the truth may finally come out. The new British Attorney General announced earlier this month that he is considering re-opening the investigation. Meanwhile, the new Justice Secretary is reportedly contemplating releasing some of the records in the case that currently remain classified. Whether it will happen has been a matter of intense speculation in the British press, but if these crucial questions are ever to be resolved, a proper investigation is a must.
Further Testimony: DAVID KELLYS , A POLITICAL DEATH ?
By Miles Goslet
Dramatic new testimony has heaped pressure on ministers to reopen the investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly.
A female colleague claims that the UN weapons inspector could not have committed suicide as claimed, as he was too weak to cut his own wrist.
Pedersen, a U.S. Air Force officer who served with Dr
Kelly's inspection team in Iraq, said a hand and arm
injury meant that the 59-year-old even 'had difficulty
cutting his own steak'.
Dr Kelly was found dead in woods near his home in 2003 after the Government exposed him as the source of a BBC report questioning Tony Blair's government's case for war in Iraq.
In a letter to the new Attorney General Dominic Grieve through her lawyers, Miss Pedersen also said Dr Kelly had difficulty swallowing pills, casting serious doubt on the Hutton Inquiry conclusion that he swallowed 29 painkillers before slitting his left wrist.
Campaigners hope her extraordinary intervention will convince ministers of the need for a new investigation. Mr Grieve has already indicated that he believes the case could merit a further inquiry.
Had she testified at the Hutton Inquiry, Miss Pedersen would have revealed that in the months leading up to his death Dr Kelly was unable to use his right hand for basic tasks requiring any strength such as slicing food because of a painful elbow injury.
Miss Pedersen says he would therefore have had to be a 'contortionist' to have killed himself by slashing his left wrist, as Lord Hutton concluded in 2004.
She called for a 'formal, independent, and complete' review of the case at the earliest opportunity, saying it was the only way to achieve 'closure'.
The letter said the absence of a full coroner's inquest into Dr Kelly's death and 'perpetual secrecy' meant it was ' crying out' for further scrutiny.
By Dr.ED WALSH
The country is ill-served by the lack of science or business expertise among its politicians
THE DEMOCRATIC institutions of the Republic remain remarkably unaltered since the foundation of the State. This may be seen as an achievement, and in ways it is, but it provokes the question whether these are still the best choice for the governance of Ireland.
The STV (single transferable vote) electoral system, favoured in the English-speaking world when adopted by the first Dáil, is still retained, even though abandoned across the globe by every other democracy with the exception of Malta. Almost all the states of post-second World War Europe, and the new democracies of central Europe, have abandoned 19th-century parliamentary structures in favour of systems more fitting to these times. None has opted for the Irish system.
The intense crisis that now engulfs us highlights the deficiencies of Irelands system of governance. Talent is the glaring deficit. The 15 people who currently serve as Government Ministers are well-intentioned, hard-working people but generally undistinguished in terms of expertise, experience or achievement. Not one of the many Irish people who have proven themselves internationally serves in government.
Our antiquated electoral system results in the election of the large bulk of members of the Irish parliament from just some 1,000 people: members of local authorities. While a local authority may be a source of popular people, it is an unlikely source of the experienced leadership and world-class talent necessary to guide an advanced democracy.
There is some management experience at the Cabinet table: Éamon Ó Cuív managed a Gaeltacht co-operative; Eamon Ryan has a commerce degree and ran a bicycle shop and tour business; and John Gormley owned a language school. But more than half the members were in education (six teachers, one guidance counsellor, one lecturer), one is a social worker and three are lawyers.
In so far as I can establish, only one member of the Government is scientifically literate: Éamon Ó Cuív has a bachelors degree in science. I can find no evidence that a Fianna Fáil Minister has a business qualification. A company with such an unimpressive board of directors would find it difficult to attract investment or be taken seriously.
An analysis of Opposition front benches suggests that a change of government would not much alter the talent and experience deficit. Similar large numbers of primary and secondary teachers would dominate.
A Run-a-Sweetshop Rating gives a simple indicator of Government and frontbench management talent. Ten points are awarded for managing an organisation, even a sweet shop, and five points for being self employed. The Government gets 30 per cent, the new Fine Gael front bench is slightly ahead at 38 per cent (unchanged from the previous one), and Labour comes last with 21 per cent.
Labour takes the lead at 28 per cent in a Scientific Literacy Rating; Fine Gael at 15 per cent and the Government at 7 per cent. These ratings compare rather starkly with that for the Standing Committee of the Chinese Politburo, which scores 100 per cent: each of its nine members is scientifically literate.
None of the new democracies of central Europe chose to adopt the Irish electoral system. All decided to introduce some form of list system, which provides a means by which national movers and shakers can be brought into government. Typically half the seats in parliament are reserved for those who are elected, as in our case, from local constituencies and the other half from lists of well-known national figures.
As a result, when the prime minister goes to appoint ministers a wide range of proven talent and experience can be drawn upon. The list system reduces clientism and ministers can take difficult decisions with less concern about re-election. They are released from the distraction and burden of constituency work and can give undivided attention to the ministerial job and the challenge of government.
In recent years a talent deficit has developed within the Civil Service. Many of the gifted school-leavers who once competed for places in the Civil Service opted instead for the more lucrative opportunities in the private sector. This reduced influx of talent has been aggravated by private-sector head-hunting that vacuumed some of the most capable and smartest from the middle and senior ranks of the service.
Unlike the 1980s, we now have a Civil Service seriously weakened by loss of talent and leadership and disoriented by the decentralisation gambit. As a result Ministers are less likely to receive the firm guidance, astute advice and, when appropriate, the direct opposition of their civil servants.
The repeated statements made by Charlie McCreevy and his colleagues that the government, and not the civil servants, ran the country, showed either a lack of knowledge of the legal position or a disregard for it. The responsibility for safeguarding public funds and for the efficient administration of a government department lies not with the minister but with its secretary general, the head of the department.
Provision is made for facing down a minister who exceeds his or her legal authority and informing the comptroller and auditor general. In recent years, since the Haughey era, few civil servants appear to have had the courage or confidence to confront a wayward minister.
Many of Charlie McCreevys If I have it, Ill spend it initiatives could have been frustrated by a confident Civil Service. In particular the decentralisation policy, which was blatantly party-political and not in the interest of the efficient administration of government departments and deserved to have been stopped in its tracks.
Decentralisation has proven highly inefficient and a cause of distraction to the leadership of government departments. Many secretaries general have been faced with the disintegration of their teams and the loss of corporate memory. I understand that one found himself with some 40 replacement staff. The arrivals lacked the expertise to do the job and many were of an age when they had little interest in finding out.
The boards of public bodies also suffer a talent deficit. It is estimated that 2,300 people serve on the boards of the 188 national non-commercial State agencies. Many of these are ministerial appointees. Quality varies considerably depending on the minister. In some cases real effort is exerted to select capable and knowledgeable people.
However, it has been my experience that the best are more likely to be bypassed in favour of party faithful. Such people are often organisational liabilities. The solution is to limit ministerial choice to lists of competent people drawn up by an independent commission.
The current national crisis represents an opportunity for radical reform of governance and public administration in Ireland. Ireland needs it: the quality of governance cannot exceed the quality of those who govern.
Dr Edward Walsh is founding president of the University of Limerick
The IFI are delighted to be embarking on a long-term collaboration with the Experimental Film Club starting with a selection of film called Silent Q. This programme brings the viewer on an unorthodox path through some familiar areas of popular alternative television comedy and the filmmaking of the 20th century avant-garde. The programme includes films by Jonas Mekas, Richard Lester, René Claire and Francis Picabia.
The groundbreaking comedy of the Goons
in England in the 1950s and the New York cultural scene
of the 1960s and '70s, as viewed through the camera of
Jonas Mekas, are rooted in well documented eras, but not
often experienced in the same breath. Their avant-garde
forbears in Dada from decades earlier may be equally
exhaustively documented, but seeing these works alongside
their descendants reveals the skeleton of Modernist
progression in a more visceral manner.
The programme starts with René Clairs 1924 short film Entracte featuring a host of artists creating a loose narrative string of surreal comedic gags including Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp playing chess on a rooftop, a bearded ballerina and a camel drawing a hearse. Two Richard Lester films, The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film and the first episode of A Show Called Fred from the 50s and 60s featuring Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers capture the way Surrealist and Dadaist principles were being co-opted into creating mainstream alternative comedy. The final film Scenes from the life of Andy Warhol: Friendships and Intersections by Jonas Mekas lacks overt comedy but creates an impressionistic and diary-like procession of cultural characters from Andy Warhols New York scene including many appearing at the first public performance of the Velvet Underground.
The programme as a whole offers a fascinating reflection on the use of random devices to invert social hierarchies and this notion of processions - of well known figures of a time and place in Mekas work and more literally in the sense of the funeral processions of Entracte and the chasing campers in Lesters The Running, Jumping, and Standing Still Film.
SILENT Q PROGRAMME
Total running time approx 87 mins
RENE CLAIRE & FRANCIS PICABIA'S "ENTR'ACTE"
(1924, 14 mins, b&w, 35mm screened from DVD)
RICHARD LESTER'S "THE RUNNING, JUMPING AND STANDING STILL FILM
(1960, 11 mins, b&w, 16mm)
RICHARD LESTER'S "A SHOW CALLED FRED"
(1956, 25 mins, b&w, 16mm)
JONAS MEKAS' "SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF ANDY WARHOL: FRIENDSHIPS AND INTERSECTIONS
(1963, 37 mins)
Tickets are available to buy at the
IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477, in person, or by clicking
Guess Who Wants to Kill the Internet?
by Maidhc Ó Cathail / June 30th, 2010
It would be hard to think of anyone who has done more to undermine American freedoms than Joseph Lieberman.
Since 9/11, the Independent senator from Connecticut has introduced a raft of legislation in the name of the "global war on terror" which has steadily eroded constitutional rights. If the United States looks increasingly like a police state, Senator Lieberman has to take much of the credit for it.
On October 11, 2001, exactly one month after 9/11, Lieberman introduced S. 1534, a bill to establish a Department of Homeland Security. Since then, he has been the main mover behind such draconian legislation as the Protect America Act of 2007, the Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, and the proposed Terrorist Expatriation Act, which would revoke the citizenship of Americans suspected of terrorism. And now the senator from Connecticut wants to kill the Internet.
According to the bill he recently proposed in the Senate, the entire global internet is to be claimed as a "national asset" of the United States. If Congress passes the bill, the US President would be given the power to "kill" the internet in the event of a "national cyber-emergency." Supporters of the legislation say this is necessary to prevent a "cyber 9/11? yet another myth from the fearmongers who brought us tales of "Iraqi WMD" and "Iranian nukes."
Lieberman's concerns about the internet are not new. The United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which Lieberman chairs, released a report in 2008 titled "Violent Islamist Extremism, The Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat." The report claimed that groups like al-Qaeda use the internet to indoctrinate and recruit members, and to communicate with each other.
Immediately after the report was published, Lieberman asked Google, the parent company of You Tube, to "immediately remove content produced by Islamist terrorist organizations." That might sound like a reasonable request. However, as far as Lieberman is concerned, Hamas, Hezbollah and even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are terrorist organizations.
It's hardly surprising that Lieberman's views on what constitute terrorism parallel those of Tel Aviv. As Mark Vogel, chairman of the largest pro-Israel Political Action Committee (PAC) in the United States, once said: "Joe Lieberman, without exception, no conditions is the No. 1 pro-Israel advocate and leader in Congress. There is nobody who does more on behalf of Israel than Joe Lieberman."
Lieberman has been well-rewarded for his patriotism to another country. In the past six years, he has been the Senate's top recipient of political contributions from pro-Israel PACs with a staggering $1,226,956.
But what is it that bothers Lieberman so much about the internet? Could it be that it allows ordinary Americans access to facts which reveal exactly what kind of "friend" Israel has been to its overgenerous benefactor? Facts which they have been denied by the pro-Israel mainstream media.
How much faith would American voters have in the likes of Lieberman, who claims that the Jewish state is their greatest ally, if they knew that Israeli agents planted firebombs in American installations in Egypt in 1954 in an attempt to undermine relations between Nasser and the United States; that Israel murdered 34 American servicemen in a deliberate attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967; that Israeli espionage, most notably Jonathan Pollard's spying, has done tremendous damage to American interests; that five Mossad agents were filming and celebrating as the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001; that Tel Aviv and its accomplices in Washington were the source of the false pre-war intelligence on Iraq; and about countless other examples of treachery?
In his latest attempt to censor the internet, does Lieberman really want to protect the American people from imaginary cyber-terrorists? Or is he just trying to protect his treasonous cronies from the American people?
Maidhc Ó Cathail is a freelance writer. His work has been published by Al Jazeera Magazine, Antiwar.com, Dissident Voice, Khaleej Times, Palestine Chronicle and many other publications.
Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11.
None of the Afghans I interviewed in November and December of 2001 had even heard of 9/11. None had heard of Al Qaeda. Other journalists reported the same thing.
As far as I can tell, we attacked Afghanistan for fun. To disrupt Iran and India. To test weapons that would be used against Iraq. To test the resolve of the American antiwar movement. And to build an oil and gas pipeline between Central and South Asia.
Ted Rall. Information Clearing House
Not because of 9/11.
What Is To Be Done ?
by Frank Scott
Israels most recent outrage has meant harsh criticism from almost everywhere but the USA. Our captive nation status continues as those who usually echo our commands express embarrassment at the conduct of the worlds most self righteous regime. But Americans who demand that Israel come to its senses need to come to their own. Nothing about Israel will change until everything about Americas uncritical support for Israel changes.
The blanket of distortion that covers any Israeli crime with tales of savage terrorists bent on annihilation were fully employed once again in this case. When will this idiocy end? Will we hear that the concrete on those ships was to be used by Hamas to construct gas chambers and crematoria to carry out its plot to exterminate the Jewish people? Continuing the attempt of all humanity that isn't Jewish to murder the minority of humanity that is? Under the control of Ahmadinejad of Iran? And given the incredible garbage that fills their heads and passes for news of the world, how many unfortunate Americans might believe such nonsense?
Had Iran attacked a ship in international waters and killed nine people, the unholy trinity of Obama-Biden-Clinton would be screeching terrorism to the high heavens and unleashing military violence on that nation. Shamefully, they express blatant support or cowardly avoidance of criticism when Israel responds to protest against its racist rule by killing innocents and claiming self defense. Pressure must be exercised on that renegade nation but expecting it to come from our government under its present status amounts to praying that extraterrestrials will save our planet.
We need to challenge and transform the American government and not continue useless calls for morally just behavior from an Israeli state founded on immorality and injustice. And for all its claims of uniqueness , why should it be any different from the rest of what is called western civilization? A major part of that civilizations rise has been the near total destruction of indigenous people while claiming divine right and racial superiority in colonizing every corner of the world. That world is now under threat to the survival of all its people, as clearly outlined by representatives of the global majority at the Cochabamba conference . We need to heed their call for action from the human community before it is destroyed by the forces of division and racial superiority whose time may be ending but who may bring the end time for everyone else if they are not brought under control by a united global people.
As Israels isolation grows its near lunatic leadership is likely to become even more unpredictably dangerous. But Americans who wish for change need to direct their demands at the American government . We must end foolish support for alleged liberals and conservatives who battle viciously over how best to help corporate capital at the expense of the people but always come together in passionate unity to support a foreign country and squander billions of dollars and thousand of lives in foreign wars that endanger the entire population here at home . All of them need to be thrown out of office, impeached for dereliction of duty or tried for treason. In acting against our interests and for a foreign country they generate more hatred for America with each subservient act of obedience to a lobby that buys them off and makes total mockery of our supposed democracy in the process.
How much more can we push people to the edge by acting as enabling therapist to a crazed state whose American political supporters reduce us to nothing remotely resembling a democratic nation? The next attempted terror bomber may not be as incompetent as the last, and there may be more after that if we do not end our suppression of foreigners who strive for their own freedom, while we take more freedom away from the American people and threaten them with future suffering beyond anything imagined now. Had that Times Square bomber learned his craft in the USA, where Timothy McVey learned how to kill 168 at Oklahoma City, hundreds might have died in New York.
The lunatic fringe in Israel has become the mainstream and armed with nuclear weapons and a cultural narrative of eternally imminent destruction, it is a threat to everyone and not just those in the area. Control needs to be exercised but it will not happen if Americans demonstrate in front of Israeli embassies or missions. We need demonstrations to be lodged at the offices of the alleged representatives of the American people, with boycotts, divestitures and sanctions against those who use our taxes, our military and our reputation among nations to support everything Israel does at the moral, financial and existential expense of this nation. Those who still think appealing to one of the two wings of the capitalist ruling party will make a difference need to be replaced by those who truly want radical change in this lifetime and not in some dreamland of a fairy tale future.
There is a global struggle between people who stand for equality of all and those who demand the superiority of only some. The western capitalist domination of the world is ending but its decline becomes more dangerous a process as mother earth suffers the strains of accumulating private profits at the enormous cost of humanitys loss. Palestine's striving for justice is a major part of that struggle but it will not end successfully until those in this country who support a foreign state at the expense of America are rooted out and replaced. Only democracy will help bring peace and security to the planet, including Palestine and all its people who wish to live as equals. There is no hope for the cult of superiority and the sooner we realize it is headquartered in our government, the sooner we avoid our own demise.
Logan, You Suck
By Matt Taibbi
June 29, 2010 "Rolling Stone" -- - Lara Logan, come on down! You're the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!
I thought I'd seen everything when I read David Brooks saying out loud in a New York Times column that reporters should sit on damaging comments to save their sources from their own idiocy. But now we get CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slamming our own Michael Hastings on CNN's "Reliable Sources" program, agreeing that the Rolling Stone reporter violated an "unspoken agreement" that journalists are not supposed to "embarrass [the troops] by reporting insults and banter."
Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn't mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here's CBS's chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that's killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journalist, that journalist is supposed to eat the story so as not to embarrass the flag. And the part that really gets me is Logan bitching about how Hastings was dishonest to use human warmth and charm to build up enough of a rapport with his sources that they felt comfortable running their mouths off in front of him. According to Logan, that's sneaky and journalists aren't supposed to be sneaky:
"What I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion of trust and, you know, he's laid out there what his game is That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do, who don't I don't go around in my personal life pretending to be one thing and then being something else. I mean, I find it egregious that anyone would do that in their professional life."
When I first heard her say that, I thought to myself, "That has to be a joke. It's sarcasm, right?" But then I went back and replayed the clip no sarcasm! She meant it! If I'm hearing Logan correctly, what Hastings is supposed to have done in that situation is interrupt these drunken assholes and say, "Excuse me, fellas, I know we're all having fun and all, but you're saying things that may not be in your best interest! As a reporter, it is my duty to inform you that you may end up looking like insubordinate douche bags in front of two million Rolling Stone readers if you don't shut your mouths this very instant!" I mean, where did Logan go to journalism school the Burson-Marsteller agency?
But Logan goes even further that that. See, according to Logan, not only are reporters not supposed to disclose their agendas to sources at all times, but in the case of covering the military, one isn't even supposed to have an agenda that might upset the brass! Why? Because there is an "element of trust" that you're supposed to have when you hang around the likes of a McChrystal. You cover a war commander, he's got to be able to trust that you're not going to embarrass him. Otherwise, how can he possibly feel confident that the right message will get out?
True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society with armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?
And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan's own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world's largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.
But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon's biggest contractors?
Does the fact that the country is basically barred from seeing dead bodies on TV, or the fact that an embedded reporter in a war zone literally cannot take a shit without a military attaché at his side (I'm not joking: while embedded at Camp Liberty in Iraq, I had to be escorted from my bunk to the latrine) really provide the working general with the security and peace of mind he needs to do his job effectively?
Apparently not, according to Lara Logan. Apparently in addition to all of this, reporters must also help out these poor public relations underdogs in the Pentagon by adhering to an "unspoken agreement" not to embarrass the brass, should they tilt back a few and jam their feet into their own mouths in front of a reporter holding a microphone in front of their faces.
Then there's the part
that made me really furious: Logan hinting that Hastings
lied about the damaging material being on the record:
"Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there were no ground rules laid out. And, I mean, that just doesn't really make a lot of sense to me I mean, I know these people. They never let their guard down like that. To me, something doesn't add up here. I just I don't believe it."
I think the real meaning of that above quote is made clear in conjunction with this one: "There are very good beat reporters who have been covering these wars for years, year after year. Michael Hastings appeared in Baghdad fairly late on the scene, and he was there for a significant period of time. He has his credentials, but he's not the only one. There are a lot of very good reporters out there. And to be fair to the military, if they believe that a piece is balanced, they will let you back."
Let me just say one thing quickly: I don't know Michael Hastings. I've never met him and he's not a friend of mine. If he cut me off in a line in an airport, I'd probably claw his eyes out like I would with anyone else. And if you think I'm being loyal to him because he works for Rolling Stone, well let's just say my co-workers at the Stone would laugh pretty hard at that idea.
But when I read this diatribe from Logan, I felt like I'd known Hastings my whole life. Because brother, I have been there, when some would-be "reputable" journalist who's just been severely ass-whipped by a relative no-name freelancer on an enormous story fights back by going on television and, without any evidence at all, accusing the guy who beat him of cheating. That's happened to me so often, I've come to expect it. If there's a lower form of life on the planet earth than a "reputable" journalist protecting his territory, I haven't seen it.
As to this whole "unspoken agreement" business: the reason Lara Logan thinks this is because she's like pretty much every other "reputable" journalist in this country, in that she suffers from a profound confusion about who she's supposed to be working for. I know this from my years covering presidential campaigns, where the same dynamic applies. Hey, assholes: you do not work for the people you're covering! Jesus, is this concept that fucking hard? On the campaign trail, I watch reporters nod solemnly as they hear about the hundreds of millions of dollars candidates X and Y and Z collect from the likes of Citigroup and Raytheon and Archer Daniels Midland, and it blows my mind that they never seem to connect the dots and grasp where all that money is going. The answer, you idiots, is that it's buying advertising! People like George Bush, John McCain, Barack Obama, and General McChrystal for that matter, they can afford to buy their own P.R. and they do, in ways both honest and dishonest, visible and invisible.
They don't need your help, and you're giving it to them anyway, because you just want to be part of the club so so badly. Disgustingly, that's really what it comes down to. Most of these reporters just want to be inside the ropeline so badly, they want to be able to say they had that beer with Hillary Clinton in a bowling alley in Scranton or whatever, that it colors their whole worldview. God forbid some important person think you're not playing for the right team!
Meanwhile, the people who don't have the resources to find out the truth and get it out in front of the public's eyes, your readers/viewers, you're supposed to be working for them and they're not getting your help. What the hell are we doing in Afghanistan? Is it worth all the bloodshed and the hatred? Who are the people running this thing, what is their agenda, and is that agenda the same thing we voted for? By the severely unlikely virtue of a drunken accident we get a tiny glimpse of an answer to some of these vital questions, but instead of cheering this as a great break for our profession, a waytago moment, one so-called reputable journalist after another lines up to protest the leak and attack the reporter for doing his job. God, do you all suck!
Copyright 2010 Rolling Stone
UPDATE ON GULF OIL:
Page last updated at 00:42 GMT, Friday, 9 July 2010 01:42 UK
By Katia Moskvitch
Russian-owned submersibles would be able to cap the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the captain of one of the vessels has said.
The skipper was speaking as two of the subs - which can dive to 6,000m - started a campaign of exploration at the bottom of Lake Baikal in Siberia.
He added that there was still time for the subs to help BP with the disaster.
The subs are searching for gas hydrates - a potential alternative fuel source - on the bed of Baikal.
Yevgenii Chernyaev told BBC News that the problem had to be addressed at the highest level.
Two oval-shaped submersibles have recently started their third season of exploration in Baikal - the world's deepest lake.
Anatoly Sagalevich of Russia's Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, which owns the vessels, said that he had an informal conversation with a BP representative asking if Mirs would be able to help stop the leak.
But he said there was no official request and no real discussions about the matter.
A BP spokesman told BBC News that the company had not had any formal contact with the Russians.
"We've had over 120,000 people come up with ideas," he said in an e-mail.
"We are looking through all of these to see which are viable. If [the Russians] want to contact us (or may have done so through some other channel), we can evaulate their idea."
Oil has been leaking from a damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico since a BP-operated drilling platform, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and sank in April.
And though BP says it is now able to gather some 10,000 barrels of oil a day, using a device that siphons oil up to surface ships, thousands of barrels of oil continue to gush daily from the ocean floor.
The US administration has already called the leak the biggest environmental catastrophe in the country's history.
Mr Chernyaev said that his team had held numerous discussions about the oil spill in the Gulf and the Russians would be ready to come to the rescue - but only if everything was done properly.
The subs have discovered reserves of gas hydrates on the bottom of the lake
Standing on a barge that transports the two subs after their submersion, the Mir-2 captain underlined that the subs were probably the only deep-sea vessels in the world capable of stopping the leak.
"Our subs are unique. There are two of them and they can submerge and work simultaneously. Also, they are powerful enough to work with any other additional equipment.
"There are only four vessels in the world that can go down to 6,000m - the Mirs, French Nautile and Japanese Shinkai. The Mirs are known to be the best, and we have a very experienced team of specialists," he said.
But Mr Chernyaev added that such an operation would have a chance of succeeding only if BP or the US government asked the Russian government to join efforts to stop the leak.
Mr Chernyaev said the problem had to be addressed at the highest level
"It should all be decided on the government level. Asking [Anatoly] Sagalevich [of Russia's Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, which owns the subs] to simply bring the Mirs over is nonsense. Even though we're able to go to much greater depths than where the damaged well is located, we wouldn't be able to do much on our own.
"We need a team of international specialists and we have to know all the details and probably even build a special device to attach to the subs, and all this needs time," said Mr Chernyaev.
He explained that the subs had already worked in much harsher conditions, such as the Arctic.
The submersible's pilot also said that the Russians were very surprised that BP and the US government had not asked them for help from the beginning.
"And we would not refuse to help, even though for us it would be very complicated, especially right now, when we're already working on Baikal. But it doesn't look like anyone seriously wants our help," he added.
Mr Chernyaev was one of the pilots on the first manned descent to the seabed under the geographic North Pole, carried out using the Mir mini-submarines. The expedition was widely reported as a bid to further Moscow's territorial claims in the Arctic.
The Mir submersibles can dive to a depth of about 6,000m
The two submersibles started their third season of exploration in Lake Baikal on 1 July. Over the last two expeditions, they found reserves of gas hydrates on the lake bed - which some consider a possible alternative fuel source of the future.
Gas hydrates are usually formed in permafrost or deep in the oceans. These are crystalline water-based solids; gases such as methane are trapped inside them within cages of hydrogen-bonded water molecules.
Baikal is the only freshwater basin where gas hydrates are found in its sediments. Scientists say the depth of the lake - reaching 1,637m - and extremely low temperatures of water near the lake bed both help gas hydrates form at depths exceeding 350m.
The current expedition aims to obtain important data about these findings, and is also searching for new life forms, which might be unique to Baikal.
Located in eastern Siberia, not far from the Mongolian border, the lake holds one-fifth of the planet's fresh water and many unique species of plants and animals, among them the nerpa - a species of freshwater seal.
UPDATE: 16TH JULY 2010
The US lawmakers at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Thursday urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep a closer eye on the dispersants used by BP to properly analyze their effect on the ocean ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico.
"I don't want dispersants to be the Agent Orange of this oil spill and I want to be assured on behalf of the American people that this is OK to use and OK to use in the amounts we're talking about," said Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the science panel of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee, reported Reuters.
The London-based energy giant applies Corexit to the massive oil slick gathered both on the surface and undersea in the disaster zone.
BP has so far used about 1.8 million gallons of the chemical agent in the Gulf, an amount unprecedented in the US history to be directly applied to the spill. The EPA said preliminary results of a federal review of Corexit pointed to no impact on marine life.
"The good news is that we've not seen signs of environment impacts from the use of dispersants so far," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told legislators, urging more scientific study. The EPA, however, is still awaiting review of chemical's effect when mixed with oil, and environmentalists are also concerned. "I suspect that the toxicity impact will in fact be way worse than reflected by the tests that are being conducted by EPA," because animals chosen for testing are less sensitive than those inhabiting the Gulf, said Doug Rader, chief oceans scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Gulf Oil Spill Could Go on Years and Years...
By F William Engdahl
25 June 2010
The Obama Administration and senior BP officials are frantically working not to stop the worlds worst oil disaster, but to hide the true extent of the actual ecological catastrophe. Senior researchers tell us that the BP drilling hit one of the oil migration channels and that the leakage could continue for years unless decisive steps are undertaken, something that seems far from the present strategy.
In a recent discussion, Vladimir Kutcherov, Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and the Russian State University of Oil and Gas, predicted that the present oil spill flooding the Gulf Coast shores of the United States could go on for years and years... many years. 
According to Kutcherov, a leading specialist in the theory of abiogenic deep origin of petroleum, What BP drilled into was what we call a migration channel, a deep fault on which hydrocarbons generated in the depth of our planet migrate to the crust and are accumulated in rocks, something like Ghawar in Saudi Arabia.  Ghawar, the worlds most prolific oilfield has been producing millions of barrels daily for almost 70 years with no end in sight. According to the abiotic science, Ghawar like all elephant and giant oil and gas deposits all over the world, is located on a migration channel similar to that in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.
As I wrote at the time of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake disaster, Haiti had been identified as having potentially huge hydrocarbon reserves, as has neighboring Cuba. Kutcherov estimates that the entire Gulf of Mexico is one of the planets most abundant accessible locations to extract oil and gas, at least before the Deepwater Horizon event this April. In my view the heads of BP reacted with panic at the scale of the oil spewing out of the well, Kutcherov adds. What is inexplicable at this point is why they are trying one thing, failing, then trying a second, failing, then a third. Given the scale of the disaster they should try every conceivable option, even if it is ten, all at once in hope one works. Otherwise, this oil source could spew oil for years given the volumes coming to the surface already.
He stresses, It is difficult to estimate how big this leakage is. There is no objective information available. But taking into consideration information about the last BP giant discovery in the Gulf of Mexico, the Tiber field, some six miles deep, Kutcherov agrees with Ira Leifer a researcher in the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara who says the oil may be gushing out at a rate of more than 100,000 barrels a day.
What the enormity of the oil spill does is to also further discredit clearly the oil companies myth of peak oil which claims that the world is at or near the peak of economical oil extraction. That myth, which has been propagated in recent years by circles close to former oilman and Bush Vice President, Dick Cheney, has been effectively used by the giant oil majors to justify far higher oil prices than would be politically possible otherwise, by claiming a non-existent petroleum scarcity crisis.
Obama & BP Try to Hide
According to a report from Washington investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, the Obama White House and British Petroleum are covering up the magnitude of the volcanic-level oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and working together to limit BPs liability for damage caused by what can be called a mega-disaster. Madsen cites sources within the US Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection for his assertion.
Obama and his senior White House staff, as well as Interior Secretary Salazar, are working with BPs chief executive officer Tony Hayward on legislation that would raise the cap on liability for damage claims from those affected by the oil disaster from $75 million to $10 billion. According to informed estimates cited by Madsen, however, the disaster has a real potential cost of at least $1,000 billion ($1 trillion). That estimate would support the pessimistic assessment of Kutcherov that the spill, if not rapidly controlled, will destroy the entire coastline of the United States.
According to the Washington report of Madsen, BP statements that one of the leaks has been contained, are pure public relations disinformation designed to avoid panic and demands for greater action by the Obama administration., according to FEMA and Corps of Engineers sources. 
The White House has been resisting releasing any damaging information about the oil disaster. Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers experts estimate that if the ocean oil geyser is not stopped within 90 days, there will be irreversible damage to the marine eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico, North Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. At best, some Corps of Engineers experts say it could take two years to cement the chasm on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.
Only after the magnitude of the disaster became evident did Obama order Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano to declare the oil disaster a national security issue. Although the Coast Guard and FEMA are part of her department, Napolitanos actual reasoning for invoking national security, according to Madsen, was merely to block media coverage of the immensity of the disaster that is unfolding for the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean and their coastlines.
The Obama administration also conspired with BP to hide the extent of the oil leak, according to the cited federal and state sources. After the oil rig exploded and sank, the government stated that 42,000 gallons per day were gushing from the seabed chasm. Five days later, the federal government upped the leakage to 210,000 gallons a day. However, submersibles monitoring the escaping oil from the Gulf seabed are viewing television pictures of what they describe as a volcanic-like eruption of oil.
When the Army Corps of Engineers first attempted to obtain NASA imagery of the Gulf oil slick, which is larger than is being reported by the media, it was reportedly denied the access. By chance, National Geographic managed to obtain satellite imagery shots of the extent of the disaster and posted them on their web site. Other satellite imagery reportedly being withheld by the Obama administration shows that what lies under the gaping chasm spewing oil at an ever-alarming rate is a cavern estimated to be the size of Mount Everest. This information has been given an almost national security-level classification to keep it from the public, according to Madsens sources.
The Corps of Engineers and FEMA are reported to be highly critical of the lack of support for quick action after the oil disaster by the Obama White House and the US Coast Guard. Only now has the Coast Guard understood the magnitude of the disaster, dispatching nearly 70 vessels to the affected area. Under the loose regulatory measures implemented by the Bush-Cheney Administration, the US Interior Departments Minerals Management Service became a simple rubber stamp, approving whatever the oil companies wanted in terms of safety precautions that could have averted such a disaster. Madsen describes a state of criminal collusion between Cheneys former firm, Halliburton, and the Interior Departments MMS, and that the potential for similar disasters exists with the other 30,000 off-shore rigs that use the same shut-off valves.
Silence from Eco groups?... Follow the money
Without doubt at this point we are in the midst of what could be the greatest ecological catastrophe in history. The oil platform explosion took place almost within the current loop where the Gulf Stream originates. This has huge ecological and climatological consequences.
A cursory look at a map of the Gulf Stream shows that the oil is not just going to cover the beaches in the Gulf, it will spread to the Atlantic coasts up through North Carolina then on to the North Sea and Iceland. And beyond the damage to the beaches, sea life and water supplies, the Gulf stream has a very distinct chemistry, composition (marine organisms), density, temperature. What happens if the oil and the dispersants and all the toxic compounds they create actually change the nature of the Gulf Stream? No one can rule out potential changes including changes in the path of the Gulf Stream, and even small changes could have huge impacts. Europe, including England, is not an icy wasteland due to the warming from the Gulf Stream.
Yet there is a deafening silence from the very environmental organizations which ought to be at the barricades demanding that BP, the US Government and others act decisively.
That deafening silence of leading green or ecology organizations such as Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and others may well be tied to a money trail that leads right back to the oil industry, notably to BP. Leading environmental organizations have gotten significant financial payoffs in recent years from BP in order that the oil company could remake itself with an environment-friendly face, as in beyond petroleum the companys new branding.
The Nature Conservancy, described as the worlds most powerful environmental group, has awarded BP a seat on its International Leadership Council after the oil company gave the organization more than $10 million in recent years.
Until recently, the Conservancy and other environmental groups worked with BP in a coalition that lobbied Congress on climate-change issues. An employee of BP Exploration serves as an unpaid Conservancy trustee in Alaska. In addition, according to a recent report published by the Washington Post, Conservation International, another environmental group, has accepted $2 million in donations from BP and worked with the company on a number of projects, including one examining oil-extraction methods. From 2000 to 2006, John Browne, then BP's chief executive, sat on the CI board.
Further, The Environmental Defense Fund, another influential ecologist organization, joined with BP, Shell and other major corporations to form a Partnership for Climate Action, to promote market-based mechanisms (sic) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmental non-profit groups that have accepted donations from or joined in projects with BP include Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and Audubon. That could explain why the political outcry to date for decisive action in the Gulf has been so muted.
Of course those organizations are not going to be the ones to solve this catastrophe. The central point at this point is who is prepared to put the urgently demanded federal and international scientific resources into solving this crisis. Further actions of the likes of that from the Obama White House to date or from BP can only lead to the conclusion that some very powerful people want this debacle to continue. The next weeks will be critical to that assessment.
F. William Engdahl is the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
 Vladimir Kutcherov, telephone discussion with the author, June 9, 2010.
 F. William Engdahl, The Fateful Geological Prize Called Haiti, Global Research.ca, January 30, 2010, accessed in
 Vladimir Kutcherov, op. cit.
 Ira Leifer, Scientist: BP Well Could Be Leaking 100,000 Barrels of Oil a Day, June 9, 2010, accessed in
 Wayne Madsen, The
Coverup: BPs Crude Politics and the Looming Environmental
Mega Disaster, May 6, 2010, accessed in http://oilprice.com/Environment/Oil-Spills/The-Cover-up-BP-s-Crude-Politics-and-the-
 Tim Findley, Natures Landlord, Range Magazine, Spring 2003.
 Joe Stephens, Nature Conservancy faces potential backlash from ties with BP, Washington Post, May 24, 2010, accessed in http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/23/AR2010052302164.html
Tribes, Oil Spill and News Black Out
By Monica Davis
Native people and people of color from around the nation are organizing for the benefit of individuals affected by the Gulf oil catastrophe. News wires are reporting that, "Teresa Two Bulls, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe has asked the National Congress of American Indians to hold a meeting in New Orleans to discuss how the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has affected Native Americans in the area."
Last week, John Boyd, President of the National Association of Black Farmers called for a meeting with BP officials. Boyd says he is concerned that black and Native American farmers and fishermen are being overlooked in the search for farmers and fishermen whose lands and fishing grounds have been polluted.
In a statement, Boyd said, "We are calling for a meeting with British Petroleum (BP) officials to discuss the losses of black farmers and fishermen. Black farmers and fishermen must be compensated at the same levels as whites. We have finished last for too long when it comes to being compensated for our business and farm losses."
Despite the health risks associated with oil clean up, minorities want a piece of the millions of dollars in cleanup and remediation contracts. Only the EPA, headed by Lisa Jackson, an African-American, seems to have considerable small/minority/SBA Section 8(a) participation on services ranging from water and soil chemistry to waste disposal. But other services include everything from skimming to cleaning wildlife refuges to dredging to create huge artificial islands (favored by the Army Corps of Engineers and thus a bane to
fisherman) food and transportation services. Black-owned public relations and marketing firms like Bright Moments in New Orleans are awaiting proposal requests to do community outreach and messaging.
Activists want to make sure that people of color are compensated for their spill related business and income losses, and that the health issues associated with contact with oil polluted animals and water are considered. The double-edged sword of accepting and working an oil remediation contract isn't lost on prospective contract recipients.
There are no hard numbers on the demographics of the people hired by BP. A look at the legal form for participants in Vessels of Opportunity program shows inquiries into the make, model, vessel capacity, and fuel capacity of the boat being used, but no questions about the race, gender or even date of birth of the trainee. Patrick Kelley, a data collector for the U.S. Coast Guard, said that while the petrochemical giant has no other method to track those employed, they have developed an informal approach to demographics: checking the spelling of the names on the agreements. Using that method, he estimates that about 200 Vietnamese or Cambodian fishers have gotten jobs, about a third of a total of about 600 hires, he said. This number represents less than18 percent of the total 3,200 people who have attended trainings and received certification to work in the cleanup. (Source: http://thelensnola.org/2010/05/24/4860/)
Reports from Grand Isle, Louisiana note an alleged news black out.
James Fox, a documentary filmmaker told a reporter that he is "a little freaked out" about a news black out which he says he wouldn't have believed, had he not seen it with his own eyes. Preliminary investigations on Grand Isle, five to ten miles from epicenter of spill, show scores of helicopters, people with badges, and an intense feeling of being watched. (www.manticoregroup.com/radio/2010/06jun/jamesfox2010.mp3)
Fox spoke with two teenaged boys whose father is working on a clean up crew. "It turns out, basically they have a complete media black out, with people being arrested for talking to the media and an aura of fear." Air space above the spill has been closed by the government. No photography is allowed; and unnamed people are arresting photographers in a state park that abuts the Gulf.
There are Allegations of Hummers, with troops in full gear, police arresting people with cameras, pulling cars over. It is still unclear as to who is arresting the people with cameras, according to people who are on the ground. Fox says it appears that BP has taken over the complete operation. People are reportedly petrified, too scared to talk, and will not make eye contact with strangers and reporters.
Rumors of martial law remain strong. "It was just eerie." In that light, what is really happening to the African American and Native American populations who have historically been targeted for civil rights abuses. Locals told Fox that the media isn't even reporting a tenth of what is going on in the Gulf. Not by a long shot.
The human catastrophe is definitely being underreported on a national level. Black fishermen, seeking jobs or contracts with the clean up crew have been brushed off. One man told a New Orleans reporter that, "They ain't hiring nobody from East Bank. We're losing everything ?
losing our business, losing our money and losing our minds."
One black fisherman stands to lose more than $100,000 a year in profits from his commercial shrimp business. This is big business and black fishermen are getting the shaft: first from the destruction of their fishing grounds; then when they do not receive remediation contracts.
What is going on with the tribes and vulnerable minorities in the Gulf Coast area? What is truth? How much money have they lost? How many of them are sick because of the oil contamination? How many people are getting sick? Are they being treated? How many have died? And who holds the key to the information gateway?
What is REALLY going on at Grand
Isle--besides a lock down?
GULF OIL WELL SOME FACTS
Oil Well Blowout May Never End
By Washington's Blog
Recently-retired Shell Oil President John Hofmeister told MSNBC yesterday:
The question is whether there is enough mechanical structure left at the base of the reservoir to hold the cement when they start pouring cement in [from the relief well].
The more oil we some coming out, the more it tells you that the whole casing system is deteriorating. The fact that more oil would be coming out rather than less oil, would suggest that the construction within the pipe is offering no resistance whatsoever, and were just getting a gusher.
Newsweek gives a balanced view regarding the risk of a total structural failure of the well:
The likelihood of a complete collapse is difficult to assess, in part, engineers and legislators say, because BP hasnt shared enough information to evaluate the situation. But a handful of clues suggest that the company is concerned. On Friday, BP spokesperson Toby Odone acknowledged that the 45-ton stack of the blowout preventer was tilting noticeably, but said the company could not attribute it to down-hole leaks. We dont know anything about the underground portion of the well, he said. But, the stack is tilting and has been tilting since the rig went down. We believe that it was caused by the collapse of the riser. The company is monitoring the degree of leaning but has not announced any plans to run additional supports to the structure.
As many have speculated ... concerns over structural integrity are what led BP to halt top kill efforts late last month. When it was digging this particular well, the company ran out of casingthe pipe that engineers send down the holeand switched to a less durable material called liner. This may have created several weak spots along the well that would be particularly vulnerable to excessive pressure or erosion. So instead of sealing the well, the company has been focused on trying to capture the oil as it flows out the top.
At this point, some experts say, additional leaks wouldnt matter much. Its very possible that there are subfloor leaks, says [Roger Anderson - an oil geophysicist at Columbia University]. But that doesnt change the strategy moving forward. The linchpin of that strategy involves drilling relief wells that would absorb all possible leaks, both at the top and the bottom of the hulking, teetering structure. Relief wells are drilled straight down into the sea bottom. After running parallel to the existing well for a few thousand meters, they cut in and intersect the original well bore. BP is drilling two such wells, one on either side of the main well. Once they are complete, the company will use them to pump heavy fluid and cement into the main well, stopping the oil at its source. The approach usually has a 95 percent success rate.
But to work, the well must be sealed as far down as possibleif its sealed too high, oil could still escape through any leaks beneath the seal. In this case, relief wells will have to drill down to 5,500 meters, and that takes time, at least until August. The real question now is whether the entire structure can hold out long enough.
One of the dangers which
the relief wells are racing against is that the blowout
preventer (BOP) is leaning ... and might fall over.
The well casing itself is attached to the BOP. And - as discussed below - the BOP is very heavy. So if the BOP fell over, it would likely severely damage the structural integrity of the casing.
As Think Progress points out:
In a press teleconference Monday, National Incident Commander Thad Allen announced that the riser package is tilting 10 or 12 degrees off perpendicular, twice the 5.5 degree tilt of the Leaning Tower of Pisa:
The entire arrangement is kind of listed a little bit. I think its 10 or 12 degrees off perpendicular so its not quite straight up.
As the Times-Picayune notes:
The integrity of the well has become a major topic of discussion among engineers and geologists.
"Everybody's worried about all of this. That's all people are talking about," said Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of geoscience programs at University of Houston. He said the things that BP has being doing to try to stop the oil or gain control of it have been tantamount to repeatedly hitting the well with a hammer and sending shock waves down the pipe. "I don't think people realize how delicate it is."
"There is a very high level of concern for the integrity of the well," said Bob Bea, the University of California Berkeley engineering professor known to New Orleanians for investigating the levee failures after Katrina, who now has organized the Deepwater Horizon Study Group. Bea and other engineers say that BP hasn't released enough information publicly for people outside the company to evaluate the situation.
When wells are drilled, engineers send links of telescoping pipe down the hole, and those links are encased in cement. The telescoping pipe, called casing, unfolds like a radio antenna, only upside down, so the width of pipe gets smaller as the well gets deeper.
The cement and layers of casing are normally quite strong, Van Nieuwenhuise said. But with the BP well, there are several weak spots that the highly pressurized oil could exploit. BP ran out of casing sections before it hit the reservoir of oil, so it switched to using something called liner for the remainder of the well, which isn't as strong. The joints between two sections of liner pipe and the joint where the liner pipe meets the casing could be weak, Van Nieuwenhuise said.
Bill Gale, an engineer specializing in fires and explosions on oil rigs who is part of Bea's Deepwater Horizon Study Group, said the 16-inch wide casing contains disks that are designed to relieve pressure if necessary. If any of those disks popped, it could create undesirable new avenues for the oil to flow.
Bea said there are also concerns about the casing at the seabed right under the blowout preventer.
Van Nieuwenhuise said he's never actually heard of oil from a blown out well rupturing the casing and bubbling up through the ocean floor. He would consider that an unlikely, worst-case scenario.
A more likely problem, he said, is that oil could find its way into open spaces in the casing string, known as the annulus, and travel up the well in areas where it isn't supposed to be. This scenario could be one reason why more oil than expected is flowing at the containment cap that BP installed earlier this month to collect the oil.
Bea is more concerned about the worst-case scenario than Van Nieuwnhuise. In an answer to a question, Bea said, "Yes," there is reason to think that hydrocarbons are leaking from places in the well other than the containment cap.
"The likelihood of failure is extremely high," Bea said. "We could have multiple losses of containment, and that's going to provide much more difficult time of trying to capture this (oil)."
Meanwhile, observers monitoring the video feeds from the robotic vehicles working on the sea floor have noticed BP measuring a tilt in the 40-ton blowout preventer stack with a level and a device called an inclinometer.
Bea said BP isn't sharing enough information for others to know. If there is oil and gas escaping from the sides of the well, it could erode the sediments around the well and eat away at the support for all the heavy equipment that sits above. Bea said reports that BP is using an inclinometer is significant news. "It tells me that they are also concerned," he said.
Here are videos of BP measuring the tilt of the BOP.
The Houston Chronicle reports:
Money-saving measures BP took while designing the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico appear to have dogged efforts to bring the massive oil spill under control.
Documents released by congressional investigators show that modifications to the well design BP made last year included a reduction in the thickness of a section of the casing steel piping in the wellbore
The modification included a slight reduction in the specified thickness for the wall of a 16-inch-diameter section of pipe toward the bottom of the well, according to a May 14, 2009, document.
The condition of the well also limits how much oil and gas can flow into containment systems now being used successfully to capture some of the flow. Even if a vessel could capture all the hydrocarbons gushing from the well, some would have to be released to keep well pressure under control.
Marvin Odum, president of Houston-based Shell Oil, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell, told the Houston Chronicle last week that the integrity of the well casing is a major concern. Odum and others from the industry regularly sit in on high-level meetings with BP and government officials about the spill.
If the well casing burst it could send oil and gas streaming through the strata to appear elsewhere on the sea floor, or create a crater underneath the wellhead - a device placed at the top of the well where the casing meets the seafloor - that would destabilize it and the blowout preventer.
The steel casing used in oil wells is strong, said Gene Beck, petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M, but pressures deep in a well are powerful enough to split strong steel pipe or "crush it like a beer can."
The strength and thickness of casing walls are key decisions in well design, he said. If the BP well's casing wasn't strong enough, it may already be split or could split during a containment effort.
BP spokesman Toby Odone said the decision to reduce the pipe thickness was made after careful review. The company said it doesn't know the condition of the well casing and has no way of inspecting it.
BP is drilling two relief wells to intercept the Macondo well near the reservoir and plug it with cement. A rupture in the Macondo well casing probably wouldn't affect that effort, said Donald Van Nieuwenhuise, director of geoscience programs at the University of Houston.
"When they start the bottom kill the cement will try to follow oil wherever it's escaping, so it would actually hide a lot of sins in the well bore," Van Nieuwenhuise said.
So far there are no signs that the section of the pipe below the sea floor is leaking.
The blowout preventer has been listing slightly since the accident, but officials believe that may have happened when the Deepwater Horizon sank while still attached to the well via a pipe called a riser.
But the longer the well flows uncontrolled the more likely it is that the well casing could be damaged or the blowout preventer damaged further. Sand and other debris that flows through the pipes at high velocity can wear through metal over time, said Van Nieuwenhuise.
The chances of the well eroding from underneath and the blowout preventer tipping may seem unlikely.
"But everything about this well has been unlikely," said David Pursell, an analyst with Tudor Pickering Holt & Co
Indeed, oil industry
expert Rob Cavner says that he wouldn't be surprised if
the BOP ended up falling over entirely:
FROM LAYLA ANWAR
The information is too important not to
jot down...this is a rushed post.
I just finished watching a re-run of Ahmad Mansour's Al-Jazeera Arabic - interview with Prof.Chris Busby. Prof Busby is a Scientist and Director of Green Audit, and scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risks. To find out more on Prof Chris Busby and his work -- Google -- Chris Busby Uranium.
Prof Busby has published many articles on radiation, uranium and contamination in countries such as Lebanon, Kosovo, Gaza and of course Iraq.
His latest findings - which were the subject of the program aired on Al-Jazeera are what I will focus on here.
As some of you know, Falluja is a forbidden city. It was subjected to intense bombardments in 2004, with DU bombs and White phosphorus, and since it has become a no go zone - meaning that both the Iraqi puppet authorities and the U.S invading/occupying forces do not allow anyone to conduct any real study in Falluja. Falluja is basically under siege.
Obviously both the Americans and the Iraqis know something and are hiding it from the public. And this is where Prof. C.Busby comes in the picture. He was/is adamant to get to the bottom of what took place in Falluja in 2004.
Being a top scientist in his field, he set out to conduct a survey/research in Falluja whose preliminary results will be published in 2 weeks - hopefully.
Prof Busby found many obstacles while undertaking this project. Neither he nor any member of his team were allowed access to Falluja to conduct interviews. He said when the main door closes, one has to find other doors to open. And this is what he did. He managed to gather a team of Iraqis from Falluja to conduct the surveys for him.
The research project was based on 721 families from Falluja with 4'500 participants - living in both high level and lower level radiation zones. Results were compared to a control group - a sample of the same number of families living in a non radioactive zone in another Arab country. For the purpose of the study he chose three other countries for comparison - Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan.
Before getting into the preliminary results I must note the following :
- the Iraqi authorities threatened all the participants of this survey with arrest and detention should they cooperate with the "terrorists" who were interviewing them. In other words, they were threatened under the anti-terrorism act.
- The U.S forces prohibited Dr.Busby for gathering any data, arguing that Falluja is an insurgency zone.
- The doctors from Falluja turned down the request to be aired live on the Ahmad Mansour program because they had received several death threats and feared for their lives.
In other words, the study was conducted under very difficult and life threatening conditions. But it was conducting nonetheless.
As the program has not been uploaded on youtube, I can't give a word for word transcription. I took short hand notes and memorized the rest. But I will do my best to present all the facts I heard today.
So what is it that the US and its Iraqi puppets do not want the public to learn ? And why are they are not allowing any measurements of the levels of radiation in Falluja, and why did they even forbid the IAEA to enter Falluja ?
What exactly happened in Falluja ? What were the kinds of bombs used ? Was it just DU or more ?
1) One thing that is very peculiar to Falluja is that the rates of cancer have risen dramatically in a very short space of time i.e since 2004. Examples given by Dr.Busby :
- rate of Child Leukemia is 40 X (times) higher since 2004 than during previous years. And compared to Jordan for instance it is 38 X times higher.
- rate of breast cancer is 10 X higher since 2004
- rate of lymphatic cancer is also 10 x higher since 2004.
2) Another peculiarity to Falluja is the dramatic rise in infant mortality rates. Compared to 2 other Arab countries like Kuwait and Egypt who are not contaminated by radiation these are the figures :
- infant mortality rates for Falluja is 80 infants out of 1'000 births in comparison to Kuwait with 9 infants out of 1'000, and to Egypt with 19 infants out of 1'000. (so Iraqi infant mortality rate is 4 times higher than Egypt and 9 times higher than Kuwait)
3) the third peculiarity to Falluja is the number of genetic deformities that has suddenly exploded since 2004. This is a subject I've already covered in the past. But this is not the whole story, today I learned something else. The radiation of whatever agent that was used by the "liberating forces", not only causes massive genetic deformities but also and this is very important :
- it causes structural changes at the cellular level.
- which in turns means due to the genetic make up of male infants (lack of X chromosome), male infants are more likely to die at birth, and female infants are more likely to survive birth with strong deformities. And here another example is given by Dr.Busby : prior to 2003 the birth rates in Falluja were as follows : 1050 male infants to 1000 female infants. In 2005, there has been only 350 male infants born - meaning that male infants do not survive.
- as for the female infants and this is where the tragedy lies...radiation causes change at the DNA level, which means that these same female if they do survive, and if they do reproduce will give birth to genetically disfigured females and dead male infants.
- the above findings are backed by other studies conducted on the children and grandchildren of Hiroshima survivors (in 2007) and which show that even the third generation exhibits genetic malformations including disease(cancer, heart, etc...)by a rate of 50 X times. In Chernobyl on the other hand, studies on animals in the same area have shown that the effects of radiation have genetically modified 22 generations. In sum radiation is transmitted from gene to gene and has a cumulative effect with time. (won't go into how - with cells accumulation/ memory and the working of the immune system - here. You can read more details about that once Prof Busby's paper is published)
- Some of the infant deformities are so grotesque that both Al-Jazeera and the BBC who produced a documentary on the same subject - refused to air pictures to their viewers. Examples of deformities which Ahmad Mansour has pictures of are :
* children born without eyes
* children with two and three heads
* children born with no orifices
* children born with brain and eye/retina malignant tumors
* children born with vital organs lacking
* children born with missing limbs or extra ones
* children born with no genitals
* children born with severe cardiac malformation
- on that same point, doctors in Falluja were asked for the purpose of the study to note the rates of birth defects in the space of one month and compare to a previous month and this is the result : in the space of one month alone births with defects rose from 1 x day (previous month) to 3 x day (current month designated for the study which was February 2010)
- Uranium is fed into the blood stream through ingestion and inhalation. The massive levels of Uranium the people of Falluja were subjected to also accounts for the vertiginous rise in lung, lymph nodes and breast cancers in adults.
-there are 40 other sites (areas) in Iraq heavily contaminated but Falluja is the WORST hit.
Already with these preliminary findings, Prof. Busby and his team concluded that in comparison to Hiroshima and Nagazaki - Falluja was worse. And I quote from Dr.Busby : " The situation in Falluja is scary and horrendous, it is more dangerous and worse than Hiroshima..."
On a side but very related note :
I mentioned these are preliminary results - why so ?
Because Prof. Busby has been harassed and has had his research funds slashed, doors closed in his face, threatened, (alongside other scientists who tried conducting similar studies in the 90's in Iraq), abandoned by the scientific community, mobbed --because of the nature of his work on Iraq. The political implications are enormous and dangerous for the US and its cronies. It means that the scientific evidence for War Crimes is right here at our fingertips...
Hence Prof. Busby's life has been made very difficult. The research paper that he took great pains in conducting and producing was sent to the Lancet for reviewing at the Scientific committee level, the Lancet turned it down saying it did not have the time to review it. Labs who cooperated in the past to test samples - turned him down when they found out that the samples were from Iraq. Only 2 labs are willing to test the samples for the EXACT MATERIAL/AGENT USED IN FALLUJA - and they are willing to do so only at a very exorbitant price - again due to the sensitive nature of the study. Also due to lack of funds, Prof Busby has about 20 samples from Falluja for testing -- that he is carefully safeguarding -- is awaiting the necessary funds to do so.
When asked by Ahmad Mansour what makes him persevere seeing all the formidable obstacles that he has been facing - his reply was :
" All my life, I sought the Truth, I am a hunter of the Truth in a jungle of lies. I also have children. Children are not only our future, they are the carriers of future generations. For 50 years we have been contaminating the planet (with radiation) and we pass this legacy onto our children and grandchildren. We owe it to the people of Falluja to find out the Truth "
When asked how he manages with no funds and doors closing in his face - his reply was :
" I rely on the goodwill of people who send little amounts here and there, and am also a firm believer if the main door closes, open other ones. When there's a will, there's a way."
Hats off to you Prof. Busby.
I urge all the people reading this post, all people of conscience, I urge all the Iraqis (get a move on for God's sake!) and all Arabs to contact Prof. Busby and to donate so the samples from Falluja can be tested and the Truth can be uncovered. And I shall end this post with a final quote from this great dedicated man
" The Truth has wings that can't be clipped "
Dr Douglas L Rokke, Ph.D. Former Head of U.S. Army Radiological Laboratory and Former Director U.S. Army Depleted Uranium Project, U.S. Army major (retired), and former Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Jacksonville State University, Florida, USA. has said in 2004 interview with John Pilger
"Numerous times, at various meetings and conferences, the Iraqis have asked for the medical treatment protocols. They've asked for the environmental clean-up protocols which the US Department of Defense and the British Ministry of Defense have refused to do repeatedly.
With the extent of the contamination in Basra and all over Iraq where the DU was fired by the tanks and by the aircraft - over 300 tons - there's no doubt in my mind that, because that lasts forever unless it's been physically removed, that any woman or child, any soldier, any non-combatant, anybody that comes in the area that it gets into their body is going to have medical problems.
The overall effects are the fact that we used a weapon that's indiscriminate for eternity and therefore unless the environmental clean up is totally completed and the medical care is provided, the effects are permanent and lasting forever and ever and ever. That's wrong"
Tedd Weyman, Deputy Director - Research Scientist at Uranium Medical Research Centre in Toronto, Canada and Field Team Leader for Afghanistan and Iraq.On the 10th of August 2004, Tedd published a report Titled: The US and UK deploy new uranium weapons contaminating Iraq's environment, civilians and the Coalition's own troops.
As we have already found out from Doug Rokke his findings were equally as disturbing:
The recent Iraqi field samples collected by UMRC were analyzed by plasma mass spectrometer by Dr Axel Gerdes, Institute of Petrology and Geochemistry, JW Goethe University, Frankfurt. The human and environmental samples have been found to contain Depleted Uranium and abnormally high levels of the artificial transuranic isotope, 236U.
The isotope composition of Depleted
Uranium found in civilians as well as in surface soils
and water courses shows the weapons used in Iraq were
manufactured from two and perhaps three different
metallurgical sources (stockpiles of uranium metals). The
soil and water samples indicate DU was deployed in both
mechanized battlefields and urban neighborhoods where
aerial bombing took place.
The purity and quantities (abundances) of the Depleted Uranium found in the samples of soils taken from US- and UK-led battlefields are some of the highest levels published since UMRC and others began independent investigations into the use of radioactive dispersion weapons in 1991 following Operation Desert Storm. ........................We have significant proof from the battle fields of the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan on the use of weapons containing uranium. In all cases test on victims and on recovered samples have confirmed either depleted uranium or traces of enriched uranium.
some information from European experts. The use of Depleted Uranium (DU) was condemned in 2000 by experts from Germany namely Prof. Dr. Albrecht Schott and Prof. Dr Siegwart Horst Gunther.
In their submission to prohibit DU they stated - Given the known chemical and radiological toxicity of depleted uranium and its compounds causes damage to humans, animals and the ecological cycle, of which there is conclusive evidence we demand that the military and civilian use of depleted uranium (DU) be banned.
"The preservation of creation and the dignity of humankind forbid the use of DU. The Invasion of DU, and the compounds produced by its self-ignition due to heat, into the soil and water cycle of living communities, and the environment we live in, make them uninhabitable for thousands of years (the half-life of uranium is 4.5 billion years; uranium forms long-term radiologically dangerous decay products)".
Legal references were made in this submission as follows:
The military use of DU violates current international humanitarian law, including the principle that there is no unlimited right to choose the means and methods of warfare - Art. 22 Hague Convention VI (HCIV)
Art. 35 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention (GP1)
The ban on causing unnecessary suffering and superfluous injury (Art. 23 §le HCIV; Art. 35 §2 GP1), indiscriminate warfare (Art. 51 §4c and 5b GPI) as well as the use of poison or poisoned weapons)
The deployment and use of DU violate the principles of international environmental and human rights protection. They contradict the right to life established by the Resolution 1996/16 of the UN Subcommittee on Human Rights.
We demand the following individual points:
A ban an the use, development, production, transport, storage and possession of DU weapons and DU armour-plating, as well as all other military uses of DU.
Medical treatment of all victims of DU, in particular children.
Destruction of all DU weapons and means of its deployment and secure storage of the uranium in a stable chemical compound.
A ban an the civilian use of DU because of accidental future, past or present exposure to uranium or its compounds.
Decontamination of all military and civilian equipment contaminated by DU.
Decontamination of all territory contaminated by DU. This not only means theatres of war but also military practice ranges and other areas where DU has been deployed.
Conversion of the global stocks of DU in the form of Uranium Hexafluoride, approx. 2-3 million tons, from its presently insufficiently stable form into a stable Uranium Oxide and safe deposition.
Punishment of the military use of DU as a war crime (in accordance with Art. 85 §3b GP1; Art. 6b IMT Statute; Art. 2c, 3a and b ICTY Statute; Art. 8 §2b Statute of Rome).
Eradication of consequential damage caused by DU use according to customary liability principles in international (humanitarian) law.
Creation of a centre for the worldwide documentation of all DU contaminated regions, in particular theatres of war, military practice ranges, scenes of accidents, etc., and to study the DU problem.
In 2002 British expert Dr Chris Busby PhD produced a report: Review of the Home Office statement on the health consequences of exposure to depleted uranium in Kosovo.
Dr Busby was critical of the Home Office in regard to their comments:
The studies undertaken on DU in Kosovo have not detected any significant levels of DU.
Studies have not shown any significant risk to the health of the population of the province from the presence of DU.
In his response he stated:
I will demonstrate that both of these statements are incorrect and that the DoD document and its conclusions are unsafe. I will argue that this is because of bias, over interpretation of research and omission of relevant evidence. I will direct attention to evidence which shows that there is a significant health risk associated with living in areas contaminated by DU including recent evidence not available to the authors of the DoD report or the HO memorandum.
I've just read this piece by Arthur Silber - Memo
to the Victims. A powerful
He kind of nails it, not fully, but quite, enough to make the reader think...hopefully...
I say not fully, because he uses the "class" concept...I say it's beyond class...It's all encompassing this divide. Class does not cut it no more.
You've got to read his essay. He says what I've been saying all those years. The "victim" is allowed to protest only within the defined parameters imposed upon it. I use the word IT here with deliberation. Because the victim is ultimately objectified into an IT that needs/must fit some category. Some ordained, classified prerequisite. An acceptable pigeonhole., if you like...
Arthur Silber in his essay was referring to the Spill, or taking the Spill as some starting point. Oh that famous spill, and the world stopped.
I, on the other hand am referring to invasions, to occupations...
He worded it from an American perspective, I word mine from an Iraqi perspective that refuses to speak the language deemed acceptable by the invader.
I touched upon this many a times. I had one post called "On Objectivity" on my Uncensored blog, that post reminds me very much of what Arthur Silber is talking about...
I had several other posts since - where I discuss how even the discourse of outrage has to fit in with the generally accepted conditions of how much outrage you're allowed, of how you are to express yourself, of which words you are to use, of how to go on about it, of how to construct your sentences... it's like the censors are now in your head - either issuing death threats, or harassing you with the fate of another victim, Gitmo or Abu Ghraib style, or tyrannizing you with the politically correct expressions that you are to use or not use, (and that cuts across class - that includes all those prime goody good two shoes lefties and anti war bullshitters), it defines the parameters, the context, the framework of how much you can say, when to say it, how to say it, it basically thrives on "colonizing" the victim ideologically, out reaching its language, its thoughts, its behavior, its ideas, its expressions, its feelings...I say "its" because this is the ultimate aim -- turning IT into a- asexual, apolitical, amoral, IT . The more one can mold IT into an IT, the better IT is controllable - weapons, torture, ideologies including leftist class ideologies, language...all serve that purpose...
It is not so much stripping you of your voice, it is not so much stripping you of your individuality, it is not only about censorship and acceptable frameworks, it goes beyond that...It is stripping you in order to mold you into an ACCEPTABLE DISSIDENT...
Because with this kind of White colonialism which includes even the Marxist left, it is not about class alone, it is not about culture, it is not about ideas, opinions, it is about SELF.
You've got to get to the SELF. They've got to get to the SELF. A rape of the SELF in the fullest sense of the word. And what does a rape victim often feel ? Fear, Guilt, Shame...
They - they as in the Other who can't accept not only your presence but your very existence, (and this is where I differ from Arthur Silber - he is addressing Americans after all) will have to silence, obliterate, shut you up by ANY MEANS POSSIBLE.
Shutting up someone comes under different forms - the usual stuff : Threats, Torture, Rape, Killing...that is the immediate stuff that appeals to the sense of survival. It arouses FEAR.
But there are different ways to shut up the victim, asides from Fear.
There is Guilt
There is Shame
There is Cajoling and Seduction
These are simple words am using...but if you think about them carefully, you will notice that they are forms of Manipulation, another form of getting you to silence yourself but the trick is that they make you feel it's coming from you and not from them.
These are ploys to DISOWN you. Re-read that. DIS-OWN you. It means you are no longer the owner of your own experience, land, country, idea, belief, etc...
The way they do it is very simple - really simple. They evoke "higher ideals" - some collective philosophical, religious, even spiritual Ideal by which you are made to feel guilty, ashamed, remorseful for having thought, felt, experienced what you experienced.
It's an old trick but it works very well. I will give you clues how it is done
Your "empathetic" listener will nod, approve, say - I hear you, BUT
Your "sympathetic" listener will, nod, approve, say - I hear you, BUT
Your " compassionate" listener will nod, approve, say - I hear you, BUT
But you see - you are generalizing,
But you see - we all belong to the same "humanity" --- after you've been ripped apart, literally...
But you see- in cases of trauma like yours, your capacity for discernment is lessened
But you see - they really did not mean it that way
But you see - it's the intention that counts
But you see - we are all imperfect and fallible
But you see- it happens everywhere else
This is the politically correct bullshit I always refer to...
Your interlocutor then takes offense and starts with the shaming with :
I would have thought that a man, woman like yourself, would act, think, feel, etc..this way
It is a pity that you generalize
I would have assumed that someone like yourself would know better
I am sure there is truth in what you are saying but maybe you're exaggerating here
Come on, if you look at it realistically, it could have not been all that bad
And I can go on and on...but am just giving you little tidbits of how the "victim" is not only stripped physically (through Torture, Rape, Exile, etc...) but how the victim is also DIS-OWNED and DIS-ARMED from his/her experience.
Re-read the above sentence again.
Disowned and disarmed means neutralized in its reactive capacity - a reactive capacity to tilt the balance again, not necessarily in its personal favor, but in favor of the objectivity of its own experience.
In other words - the "victim" tries very hard to articulate, express, describe, enact, etc...the experience and at each stage of its reactivity it is silenced.
In fact when you come to think of it - Silence, that kind of Silence becomes the only acceptable parameter in which you can be heard.
And Resistance, any forms of Resistance is exactly the opposite, It is the ability to zoom in, right where it hurts the most.
Million Iraqis Killed, Maimed, Tortured, Displaced
Think That Bothers War Boosters Like Christopher Hitchens?
By Fred Branfman
June 22, 2010 "AlterNet" -- In 1970 a Lao villager who had survived five years of U.S. bombing wrote: "In reality, whatever happens, it is only the innocent who suffer. And as for the others, do they know all the unimaginable things happening in this war? Do they?" Do we? And if we did know about the innocent men, women and children our leaders kill, would it matter? Does it matter that those who justified the Iraqi invasion in the name of the people of Iraq have largely ignored their unimaginable suffering under U.S. occupation, as more than 5 million civilians have been murdered, maimed, made homeless, unjustly imprisoned and tortured -- and millions more impoverished? Would war supporters serve themselves and their nation if they wrote about both the humanity and suffering of, say, just 10 Iraqi victims -- and sought to convey how each represents at least 500,000 more? Is the suffering our leaders inflict on innocent civilians relevant to deciding whether to support our present war-making in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Would it matter if the N.Y. Times had run daily profiles and photos of Iraqi civilian victims since 2003, as it did of U.S. victims after 9/11?
Such questions are raised by Christopher Hitchens' recently published best-selling memoir, Hitch-22, in which he proudly claims to have helped cause the invasion of Iraq as the most prominent of a group of war hawks ("by which political Washington was eventually persuaded that Iraq should be helped into a post-Saddam era, if necessary by force), but entirely ignores the human cost that followed. No one spoke more eloquently of the Iraqi peoples suffering before the invasion. Thus his indifference to it since has been striking. The key issue is not what this reveals about Hitchens' soul but about America's. His memoir epitomizes one of the most chilling phenomena of our time: a growing nonhumanity in which our leaders and their supporters claim to wage war on behalf of a foreign people but are largely indifferent to their suffering. (Full disclosure: when Hitchens was writing his book about Henry Kissinger, he interviewed me about Kissinger's mass murder of Laotian rice-farmers.)
Citizens take on no more solemn role than when they convert a personal opinion into the political act of publicly promoting violence by their nation's leaders. Debating health care, gay marriage or Wall Street reform is one thing; promoting policies that wind up killing innocent human beings quite another. Whether they acknowledge it or not, those advocating war assume a moral responsibility for its innocent victims. Or, more plainly, they have their blood upon their hands. This blood can be easily justified in a hypothetical case of "humanitarian intervention," e.g. imagining that Bill Clinton had successfully used military force to stop the Rwandan genocide. It is also easy to justify war when only hated political leaders or groups are discussed: Saddam Hussein, Ahmadinejad, the Taliban and the civilian population, always the main victims in war, are treated as nonpeople. But an honest evaluation of war in a case like Iraq requires a far more serious moral calculus.
The Immensity of Iraqi Civilian Suffering
Taking seriously one's responsibility for promoting war in Iraq requires more than simply listing the war's human benefits, such as removing the genuinely evil Saddam, increased power for the long-suppressed Kurds and Shiites, limited movement toward free elections, a parliamentary democracy and free press. Such benefits must be weighed against the suffering of millions of innocent Iraqis, including:
-- Nearly 5 million refugees: Counting both internal and external refugees, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that nearly 5 million of Iraqs population of 24 million have been uprooted during the conflict, the N.Y. Review of Books reported on May 13, 2010. This is the equivalent of 60 million Americans by percentage of population. Five-hundred thousand are homeless squatters within Iraq, whose "settlements all lack basic services, including water, sanitation and electricity and are built in precarious places -- under bridges, alongside railroad tracks and amongst garbage dumps" according to Refugees International in March 2010. The emigration of 2-3 million Iraqis to refugee camps in Syria and other Mideast countries decimated Iraq's educated middle class, with some daughters forced to become prostitutes and sons menial laborers just to keep their families alive.
-- Hundreds of thousands dead and wounded: Estimates of dead civilians range from 100,000 documented cases by Iraq Body Count, which acknowledged in October 2004 that our own total is certain to be an underestimate of the true position, because of gaps in reporting or recording to over one million by a John Hopkins University group. A basic rule of thumb in war is that for every person killed, two have been wounded.
-- Tens of thousands of innocents imprisoned, many tortured: In an article headlined "In Iraq, A Prison Full of Innocent Men," the Washington Post reported that "100,000 prisoners have passed through the American-run detention system in Iraq," that Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi says that "most of the people they detain are innocent, but that prisoners are not permitted to prove their innocence. Conditions have been even worse in the secret torture chambers run for five years by General Stanley McChrystal, from which all outside observers including the Red Cross have been excluded. Salon's Glenn Greenwald recently reported that "72% of Guantanamo detainees who finally were able to obtain just minimal due process -- after years of being in a cage without charges -- have been found by federal judges to be wrongfully detained." Countless innocent Iraqis have been regularly tortured.
-- Millions more who lack jobs, electricity, water and health care: Reuters reported on June 6 that "according to government statistics cited by the ICRC (the Red Cross), one in four of Iraq's people does not have access to safe drinking water." The unofficial unemployment rate is estimated to be as high as 30 percent, security is shaky, the entire non-oil economy decimated. "As recently as the 1980s, Iraq was self-sufficient in producing wheat, rice, fruits, vegetables, and sheep and poultry products. Its industrial sector exported textiles and leather goods, including purses and shoes, as well as steel and cement. But wars, sanctions, poor management, international competition and disinvestment have left each industry a shadow of its former self," the N.Y. Times has reported. It also reported on June 20 that (Basras) poorer neighborhoods, by far the majority, often have just one hour of electricity a day, a situation not uncommon in Baghdad and other regions. The temperature in Basra on Saturday was 113 degrees.
Nonhumanity, Not Inhumanity
U.S. leaders killed large numbers of civilians during World War II, of course, in an earlier age of "inhumanity" marked by the depredations of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. But they did so relatively openly. They did not claim, for example, that only enemy insurgents were killed at Dresden, and Americans relatively soon learned what had happened at Hiroshima. It was only as U.S. leaders constructed America's first global empire after 1945 -- increasingly waging secret, massive, illegal and unconstitutional bombing campaigns in countries like Laos and Cambodia, refusing to even acknowledge the countless civilian deaths they caused throughout Indochina, failing to help rebuild it after the war, and supporting savage local dictators and policies destroying local economies around the world -- that they created a new age of "nonhumanity." By now U.S. leaders Third World victims -- whom they have neither acknowledged nor made amends for -- number in the tens of millions.
We have entered a new Orwellian age in which continuous "fighting ... takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at," and its innocent victims are simply airbrushed out of history. Nothing symbolizes this nonhumanity more than U.S. leaders use of the term collateral damage to refer to millions of innocent human beings who have as much right to their lives as those who so mercilessly snuff them out. Generals Tommy Franks and Colin Powell say "we don't do civilians" when asked how many civilians they kill, and their countrymen are so indifferent to civilian murder that no one even asks why not. Who is in a better position to discover how many innocent men, women and children U.S. leaders kill, and help them avoid further civilian murder? The only act more nonhuman than not caring is killing civilians in the first place. U.S. indifference to civilian suffering is particularly noticeable in the case of "liberal war hawks" who justified the Iraq invasion on humanitarian grounds but then largely ignored its human costs as much as conservatives who do not even claim concern for the civilians they destroy. Slate, for example, asked an online panel of 10 such folks in March 2008 -- when civilian victims were in the millions -- to explain how they had gotten the Iraqi war wrong. While all but one (Christopher Hitchens: "How Did I Get Iraq Wrong? I Didn't") acknowledged error, and a number expressed pain over civilian suffering, the reasons listed for their mistakes included misjudging "Bush's sense of morality," "I wanted to strike back," "I believed the groupthink," I didn't realize how incompetent the Bush administration could be, and the "the self-centeredness and sectarianism of the ruling elite." All failed to acknowledge their own moral blindness in failing to imagine what millions of their fellow Americans clearly saw: the havoc that the U.S. war-machine would inevitably wreak on innocent Iraqi civilians whatever its stated intentions or claimed benefits.
U.S. Responsibility For Civilian Suffering in Iraq
One of the panelists the diplomat Phillip Carter -- did, however, make a key point. After explaining how a former Iraqi law professor he worked with was presumably killed by Al-Qaeda, Carter wrote, "I felt guilty for not doing more to protect him. I felt guilty for not doing more to make Iraq safe. His words point to the considerable U.S. responsibility for post-invasion civilian suffering, whether caused by its own troops or others. An occupier assumes not only moral but legal responsibility for ensuring the safety of civilians in the zones it occupies. By both disbanding the Iraqi army and not using its own forces to maintain law and order U.S. leaders failed that responsibility, which was thus not merely a mistake but a war crime.
And America bears an even greater responsibility for the direct suffering it has caused. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian explored U.S.-inflicted civilian suffering by interviewing 50 American veterans who had fought in Iraq.Their book Collateral Damage reports how U.S. soldiers, unprepared for urban warfare and understandably terrified, have regularly killed, wounded, arrested and humiliated countless Iraqi civilians -- at checkpoints, by driving recklessly in convoys, in early morning searches, and by firing indiscriminately in response to IEDs and enemy fire. "The war in Iraq is now primarily about murder," Hedges writes. "Human beings are machine-gunned and bombed from the air, automatic grenade launchers pepper hovels and neighbors with high-powered explosive devices, and convoys race through Iraq like freight trains of death." U.S. soldiers also revealed how, though this behavior violated official rules of engagement, the rules were ignored and required reports either not filed or falsified. Collateral Damage and the N.Y. Review of Books article cited above illustrate another key point: Americans can report on civilian suffering if they choose. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has written that "when you see my byline from Kandahar or Kabul or Basra, you should not think that I am out among ordinary people, asking questions of all sides. I am usually inside an American military bubble." But there is nothing stopping him and other war supporters from leaving their bubbles to report on the civilian suffering they helped produce, any more than the N.Y. Times is prevented from taking Iraqs civilian dead as serious as American ones.
Christopher Hitchens' Memoirs: A Textbook Case of Non-Humanity
Chris Hedges' concern for
post-invasion civilian suffering contrasts sharply with
Hitchens' memoirs. Ample time has passed for
Hitchens to provide a moral reckoning of the human costs
and benefits of the invasion, and to apologize to both
Iraqi victims and the millions of antiwar Americans whose
concerns about post-invasion civilian suffering have
proven so much more accurate than his own -- and whose
personhood he so demeaned with epithets like "moral
imbeciles," "noisy morons,"
"overbred and gutless," "naive"
and "foolish."Hitchens memoirs
provide a textbook case of nonhumanity. For while proudly
bragging of helping cause the invasion, he does not even
mention let alone acknowledge responsibility for the
civilian suffering to which it led.He writes movingly,
for example, of a fine young American, Mark Daily, who
volunteered to fight in Iraq partly because of
Hitchens pro-war writings and died heroically
protecting his fellow-soldiers. But Hitchens does not
mention even one of the countless Iraqis who did not
volunteer to have their lives destroyed following the
invasion he claimed would help them. He properly
befriended Daily's parents, but does not discuss a single
Iraqi parent among hundreds of thousands whose loss is
equally great.And he does not even mention the overall
scale of Iraqi civilian suffering under U.S. occupation:
5-10 million murdered, maimed, homeless, unjustly
imprisoned, tortured and impoverished innocent civilians
have all been consigned to the dustbin of his and
America's -- history.Ignoring post-invasion civilian
suffering, of course, also allows Hitchens to avoid his
and Americas responsibility for it. He instead
admits and then excuses himself for far smaller errors, e.g.
writing that "it is here that I ought to make my
most painful self-criticisms ... What I should have been
asking Wolfowitz was `does the Army Corps of Engineers
have a generator big enough to turn the lights of Baghdad
But, not being a professional soldier or
I rather tended to assume that things
of this practical sort were being taken care of.The
Iraqi peoples post-invasion agony is also
trivialized by Hitchens ongoing attempts to blame
the left" for Saddam's crimes because they
failed to rally to his call to invade and occupy Iraq. By
that logic any people who hate their leader but do not
support being invaded and occupied indefinitely by U.S.
troops are responsible for their own misery.
But, in any event, it is obvious that pre-invasion issues are entirely separate from his and Americas responsibility for the unspeakable civilian horror that has followed it. As Iraq Body Count has noted, Amnesty International estimated that violent deaths attributable to Saddam's government numbered at most in the hundreds during the years immediately leading up to 2003. Those wishing to make the "more lives ultimately saved" argument will need to make their comparisons with the number of civilians likely to have been killed had Saddam Hussein's reign continued into 2003-2004, not in comparison to the number of deaths for which he was responsible in the 1980s and early 1990s.We have words to describe the act of seeking moral acclaim for helping an individual whose life one harms hypocritical or shameless come to mind. But we lack even the thought-category to describe claiming moral credit for aiding an entire people while ignoring ones responsibility for the broken lives of millions of them.Many Americans may find themselves called upon to invent such words in coming years, as the mentality that has treated millions of foreigners as nonpeople increasingly affects American lives at home.
Nonhumanity Abroad, Nonhumanity At Home
In today's interconnected world, the West ignoring its civilian victims is increasing both terrorism and mass displacements of political and economic refugees. Increased terrorism and anti-illegal immigrant hysteria threaten American lives, political chaos and increasing police-state measures such as the wiretapping of U.S. citizens and Arizonas recent immigration law. U.S. leaders nonhumanity abroad is increasingly affecting domestic security at home.
The most fundamental question for Americans is whether they too will be treated as nonpeople by U.S. elites should America now be entering a period of long economic decline and resulting political instability -- as has already occurred for those homeowners tricked out of their life savings by Wall Street. Will America respond to hard times as it did in the 1930s by expanding the safety net, taxing the rich and spending to combat unemployment? Or will its elites move to secure their own wealth and respond to the protests this will inevitably create with harsh measures?
Any American who tries to look at U.S. leaders from the perspective of a Lao refugee, an innocent Iraqi prisoner, a Haitian slum-dweller or a Helmand housewife terrorized at the prospect of the next U.S. offensive, can only shudder at such questions.
Active Denial Technology is a breakthrough non-lethal technology that uses millimeter-wave electromagnetic energy to stop, deter and turn back an advancing adversary from relatively long range. It is expected to save countless lives by providing a way to stop individuals without causing injury, before a deadly confrontation develops.
The technology was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. Approximately $40 million has been spent on this technology over the past ten years.
In July 2005 it was reported that the Active Denial System would be deployed to Iraq before the end of the year. Under an initiative called Project Sheriff, troops will receive a total of 15 vehicles. These deployments did not take place, and as of early 2007 the initial deployment was slated no sooner than 2010.
This non-lethal technology was developed in response to Department of Defense needs for field commanders to have options short of the use of deadly force. Non-lethal technologies can be used for protection of Defense resources, peacekeeping, humanitarian missions and other situations in which the use of lethal force is undesirable. The system is intended to protect military personnel against small-arms fire, which is generally taken to mean a range of 1,000 meters. The system is described as having a range of 700 yards.
Countermeasures against the weapon could be quite straightforward for example covering up the body with thick clothes or carrying a metallic sheet or even a trash can lid as a shield or reflector. Also unclear is how the active-denial technology would work in rainy, foggy or sea-spray conditions where the beam's energy could be absorbed by water in the atmosphere.
Active Denial Technology uses a transmitter to send a narrow beam of 95-GHz millimeter waves towards an identified subject. Traveling at the speed of light, the energy reaches the subject and penetrates less than 1/64 of an inch into the skin, quickly heating up the skin's surface. The 95-GHz energy penetrates 1/64 inch into the skin and produces an intense burning sensation that stops when the transmitter is switched off or when the individual moves out of the beam. Within seconds, an individual feels an intense heating sensation that stops when the transmitter is shut off or when the individual moves out of the beam. According to reports, a 2-second burst from the system can heat the skin to a temperature of 130° F. At 50 °C, the pain reflex makes people pull away automatically in less than a second. Someone would have to stay in the beam for 250 seconds before it burnt the skin,
Despite the sensation, the technology does not cause injury because of the low energy levels used. It exploits a natural defense mechanism that helps to protect the human body from damage. The heat-induced sensation caused by this technology, is nearly identical to the sensation experienced by briefly touching an ordinary light bulb that has been left on for a while. Unlike a light bulb, however, active denial technology will not cause rapid burning, because of the shallow penetration of the beam and the low levels of energy used. The transmitter needs only to be on for a few seconds to cause the sensation.
Air Force scientists helped set the present skin safety threshold of 10 milliwatts per square centimetre in the early 1990s, when little data was available. That limit covers exposure to steady fields for several minutes to an hour - but heating a layer of skin 0.3 mm thick to 50 °C in just one second requires much higher power and may pose risks to the cornea, which is more sensitive than skin. A study published last year in the journal Health Physics showed that exposure to 2 watts per square centimeter for three seconds could damage the corneas of rhesus monkeys.
Humans and animals are being used in the test program. All testing is being conducted with strict observance of the procedures, laws and regulations governing animal and human experimentation. The tests have been reviewed and approved by a formal Institutional Review Board with oversight from the Air Force Surgeon General's Office. The testing is being conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Human Effectiveness Directorate.
Military and civilian employees have volunteered for these tests. Prior to participating in the program, all volunteers are fully informed of the purpose and nature of the tests and of any reasonably foreseeable risks or discomforts expected from the research. Other than minor skin tenderness due to repeated exposure to the beam, there are no lasting effects. An institutional review board has determined that the risk level is minimal. No pay is received for participation, and volunteers may withdraw at any time with no negative personal or professional ramifications. Many of the project scientists are volunteers for the study. These tests, which are being conducted at Kirtland Air Force Base south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, employ more realistic military field conditions, following several years of successful and safe laboratory testing. These field tests are the first to expose an entire test subject to the energy beam.
These tests demonstrate the technology, gather additional data on effects in realistic conditions, and allow the military benefits to be assessed.
Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, a leading newsletter on non-ionizing radiation, calls VMADS a "significant development" in directed energy weapons. However, he says that possible injuries, particularly to the eye, could lead to stopping further development and actual deployment of the device-as the Pentagon did in the mid-1990s when it was trying to develop blinding lasers. "The real question is whether it will go the way of the lasers," Slesin says. Like laser, exposure to the microwave beam could cause eye damage. "People will get out of the beam, but [injury to the eyes] depends on how much exposure they get," Slesin says. Slesin also notes that "the only people who are doing health research on the effects of electromagnetic radiation are the people who are developing this weapon-the Air Force Lab. . . . They're the only people who have any money in the United States to do research on the health effects, and they're in firm control of the [safety] standard-setting process. . . . That's a clear conflict."
As of early January 2007, the US Air Force's 820th Security Forces Group at Moody Air Force Base, GA, was the first unit selected to conduct the V-MADS' extended user evaluation portion of the advanced concept technology demonstration process. The process is designed to expedite the transfer of advanced technologies to the warfighters. by evaluating the system under a series of realistic combat scenarios to determine its potential effectiveness in a deployed environment.
Officials have begun examining appropriate platforms on which to deploy the technology. Currently, planning is underway for a vehicle-mounted version. Future versions might also be used onboard planes and ships. The vehicle-mounted version will be designed to be packaged on a vehicle such as a High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, more commonly referred to as a Humvee). Power would be provided by a turbo-alternator and battery system. Researches say they have made technological break through on power supplies to run such weapons even when mounted on vehicles or aircraft.
This technology and its proposed use in an operational system have been given a preliminary weapons legal review as required by Department of Defense Directive 3000.3 "Policy for Non-Lethal Weapons," and the United States' treaty - obligations. This preliminary review found that further research, development, and testing of this technology is permissible. As required by law, a final, comprehensive legal review will be completed prior to entering the acquisition cycle.
Two primary organizations are executing this program: the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Virginia, and the Air Force Research Laboratory, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The Air Force Research Laboratory is developing the technology with funding from both the Air Force and the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.
From the Air Force Research Laboratory, two directorates are involved: the Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, and the Human Effectiveness Directorate at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. The former works technology development and testing; the latter is in charge of biological effects research.
There are three primary contractors: Raytheon AET in Rancho Cucamonga, California, is the systems integrator, CPI (Communications and Power Industries) in Palo Alto, California, is the source developer, and Veridian Engineering in San Antonio, Texas, is performing biological effects research.
Other organizations and agencies that are involved in the this project include the Air Force Force Protection Battlelab at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; the Marine Warfighting Laboratory at Quantico, Virginia; the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Florida; and the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
The Air Force's Electronic Systems
Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, will
manage acquisition of the Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial
System based on this technology.
The Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System concept
TheBlackList Moderator [email@example.com ]
From: "Tapol" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Monday, June 21, 2010
President Obama: What Would Your Mother Say?
By Eben Kirksey
President Obama turned his back on Indonesia recently canceling his visit there for the second time this year. His mother, Ann Soetoro, was a cultural anthropologist who spent much of her adult life helping economically-marginalized people of Indonesia. If she were still alive, she might well be disappointed in her son. As President Obama turns his attention to the oil spill in the Gulf, the U.S. Congress is reminding him of other important issues in a seemingly remote corner of Indonesia. A resolution introduced by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (H.Res. 1355) calls attention to the human rights problems in West Papua, the half of New Guinea that was invaded by Indonesia in 1962.
In the Presidents autobiography, Dreams from My Father, he recalls a conversation with Lolo Soetoro, his step-father who had just returned home after a tour of duty with the Indonesian military in West Papua. Obama asked his step-father: Have you ever seen a man killed? Lolo responded affirmatively, recounting the bloody death of weak men. Ann Soetoro never spoke out publicly about Indonesian atrocities in West Papua, but she divorced her husband shortly after he came back
from the frontlines of this war.
Papuan intellectuals and political activists, kin of the weak men have read Obamas autobiography with keen interest. They still embrace the message of hope from the Presidential campaign and the slogan, Yes We Can. Perhaps it is time for those of us who were drawn in by the slogan Yes We Can to remind the President that grassroots political movements still have power.
Many people, including some anthropologists, do not know the difference between West Papua* and Papua New Guinea. The subject of several classic anthropology books from Margaret Meads Growing Up in New Guinea to Marilyn Stratherns Gender of the Gift the independent nation of Papua New Guinea is familiar to almost anyone who has taken an introductory anthropology class. Indonesia is also well known among academics who study culture or politics. Cultural
anthropologist Clifford Geertz told us tales of Balinese cockfights and Javanese religious systems, and political scientist Benedict Anderson famously wrote about imagined communities and power in Indonesia. At the edge of national and scholarly boundaries, West Papua, in contrast, falls through the cracks.
Anthropologists and scholars in allied disciplines should join human rights advocates and others in noticing West Papua. Amnesty International is currently working with Representative Kennedys office to pass his Resolution which calls attention to many pressing problems: Whereas Amnesty International has identified numerous prisoners of conscience in Indonesian prisons, among them Papuans such as Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage, imprisoned for peaceful political protests including the display of the morning star flag which has historic, cultural, and political meaning for Papuans "
Whereas a Human Rights Watch report on June 5, 2009, noted torture and abuse of prisoners in jails in Papua is rampant;
and Whereas prominent Indonesian leaders have called for a national dialogue and Papuan leaders have called for an
internationally-mediated dialogue to address long-standing grievances in Papua and West Papua.
If passed, this Resolution would give President Obama some issues of substance to talk about with Indonesian leaders once he does make a return trip to Southeast Asia. Resolutions are non-binding acts that convey the sentiments of Congress.
Transnational companies have been lobbying for stronger military ties with Indonesia. The same company that brought us the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, BP, has a huge natural gas field in West Papua called Tangguh. Starting this year, BP is scheduled to start shipping super-cooled gas from this site (liquid natural gas or LNG) to North America where it will be piped into the homes of millions in California, Oregon and other westerns states.
BP has been a major donor to the U.S.-Indonesia Society, The U.S.-Indonesia Society is also supported by Freeport McMoRan, a company that operates one of the worlds largest gold and copper mines in West Papua. Americans
must reckon with the foreign entanglements of the companies supplying the U.S. natural resources and should question the
politicians who have led the United States into a series of environmental catastrophes and debacles on foreign soil.
Who the official cosponsors of Kennedys Resolution on West Papua are
is public knowledge.
S. Eben Kirksey is a cultural anthropologist who earned his Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Freedom in Entangled Worlds, his forthcoming book, published by Duke University Press, explores the social and political dynamics of West Papuas independence movement from 1998 till 2008.
For years, Rem Koolhaas's striking designs went unbuilt. Now his creations are sprouting up everywhere. He tells Susie Rushton about his first London building, and why iconic towers are over
Monday, 21 June 2010
Rem Koolhaas puts his mobile phone in the middle of the wooden café table between us, picks up two teacups and a glass of melting ice cubes, and arranges them in a circle around it.
The phone is barely visible. "So, this is the entrance here," he says, pointing into a tiny crevice between the cups, "and as you can see it's completely surrounded by other buildings, so from any angle you can only see fragments of it." The teacups represent the historic streets of Bank, in the heart of the City; the glass is St Stephen Walbrook church, designed by Christopher Wren and built in 1672. The mobile phone is playing the role of Koolhaas's new HQ for Rothschild bank, due to open next year. "It's a very nice site," he explains, lightly, in perma-ironic, Dutch-inflected tones. "Because it's such a dense site, it has an incredibly radical relationship with the city." Even more incredibly, when it opens next year the Rothschild building will be Koolhaas's first in London even though he's lived in the city, on and off, since the 1960s, when he studied at the Architectural Association, just around the corner from where we're sitting on a sunny afternoon in Bloomsbury.
Koolhaas surely understates the importance of this building, which began life back in 2006, at the height of the boom. In the current climate, famous architects haven't had much to boast about. The calamitous effects of the credit crisis have wrecked the real estate industry and the economic underpinning of mega-projects. Architecture is a notoriously cyclical industry, but the current bust has hit the profession particularly badly. Most firms have laid off hundreds of workers as the stream of commercial clients and the speculators who finance their buildings dried up. Libeskind, Gehry, Foster name any gilded name specialising in "iconic" towers all have had prestigious projects either binned or put on hold. And although for most of his career Rem Koolhaas was, famously, an "unbuilt" architect, in the last decade his avant-garde designs were actually coming to life. Most notable have been Porto's concert hall, Seattle's Public Library, stores for Prada in Seoul, New York and LA, the 9-storey Wyly Theatre in Dallas, with its transformable auditorium, and the 54-floor CCTV building in Beijing a mammoth structure resembling a twisted bridge finished just in time for the Olympics.
His buildings don't swirl or blob like a Gehry or a Hadid. A Koolhaas building is often block-shaped, unprepossessing from a distance, but fun to interact with. In common with his starchitect peers, his designs are inevitably called "iconic".
But Koolhaas thinks
this is a term that has lost its currency in the
recession. "We've been able to step away from the
iconic domain," he says, apparently relieved. When I
ask him about the effects of the crash on his firm, he
acknowledges that many projects in Dubai "went up in
smoke". But the Office for Metropolitan Architecture
(OMA), the firm Koolhaas founded in his native Rotterdam
in 1975, has global tentacles. "Because we're in
Europe, China and America, we can really see the
inequality of different economic conditions. It simply
moved its grip to regions less affected by the banking
crisis, notably North Africa and Hong Kong, and we just
opened a new office in Asia. We shifted rather than
diminished." But besides shifting attention east and
south, Koolhaas has also continued to move forward by
diversifying his work which isn't much of a
stretch given that he, above all other architects, has
always been engaged with work other than designing actual
Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf as part of their collaboration with OMA, the sphere holds a convention centre, hotel rooms, apartments, offices and retail space.
Even after he won the Pritzker Prize 10 years ago, Koolhaas remained the maverick of architecture, a figure who refused tosee his craft as a force for social improvement, but instead celebrated the chaos of urban life. His books were for a long time more famous than his buildings. His first, Delirious New York (1978), theorised on the subject of Manhattan's skyscrapers; an entire library of fat, frenetic and often very funny books followed, at least two of which have been counterfeited by fans in Iran and China.
Some years ago Koolhaas opened a separate think-tank company, AMO, (named as the mirror image of OMA) to focus exclusively on his non-bricks-and-mortar projects, from catwalk shows for Prada and Miu Miu to creating a plan for decarbonising Europe's power grid, a project for the EU.
So as other
architects scrambled to diversify in order to keep their
firms afloat in choppy economic waters, Koolhaas has
simply continued the extracurricular work for which he's
always been known. Yes, he tells me, there are surviving
building projects, including an educational campus in
Doha and a cultural centre on the West Kowloon campus in
Hong Kong among others, but it can't hurt in the current
atmosphere to be known as the guy who creates more than
just vanity skyscrapers for ambitious city-states and
The new Science Center in Hamburg designed by Rem Koolhaas
His latest mission is defending an unpopular cause: Dubai.
. "There is a massive sense of condescension towards the people there," he starts. More than any other place, to the Western media Dubai and the Gulf came to symbolise the hubris of the boom era. The schadenfreude response to Dubai's fall after 2008 is of a piece with anti-Arab sentiment, he believes, one that judges the Gulf to have been naïve in believing it could build world-class metropolises. "The speculation might have disappeared, but what remains there is nothing to be sneezed at. Fifteen years ago, Dubai was very modest. Now we have clear evidence of an Arab [version of] modernity. That in itself is a huge achievement."
Called Al Manakh (meaning both "market" and "climate"), the book is a collection of 140 articles and interviews about the situation on the ground. "Many [Western] people went there for the first time [after the 2008 crash] and saw it as something that happened in one go, and therefore representative of a contemporary absurdity. It was a patchwork of outrageous convictions, aesthetics, labour, religion... everything. But if you looked more carefully at each of those aspects, there's more to say." It's not the first time he has said the unsayable about Dubai: an earlier publication attempted to challenge criticism of a migrant underclass exploited by construction firms. In the latest book, one article examines how migrant workers from Kerala have transformed entire villages back home from pay earned in the labour camps. "Westerners don't really want to understand [Dubai]. But I think it's also part of a bigger Western trauma, which is that we are no longer in charge. We still try to maintain our status, but we've basically lost it."
Koolhaas believes his affinity with the Gulf region comes from a period of childhood spent in another Muslim nation, Indonesia. "It felt very familiar to me," he says. Although every architect you'd care to name went there to build unfettered symbols of wealth over the last decade, most producing work routinely described as highly vulgar, OMA's interest in the Gulf has not been purely commercially driven, he insists. "It wasn't just about [looking for] a situation to exploit, but as a form of engagement."
Beyond the Arabian Gulf, he argues, the crash of Western markets might have actually been a good thing for architecture in general, grown plump as it had with speculation and globalised aesthetics.
"We're very glad that what I call the "YES" regime which means the Yen, the Euro and the US dollar which began in the 1980s and that dictated every value in every country, has finally come to an end. And I think it's a very good thing that the state is becoming responsible again after a long time of deregulation.
"In architecture certain things have become possible again. I was giving a lecture the other day and I showed a really unglamorous picture of an architect in the 1980s, holding a blueprint, really badly dressed, and behind him there is housing being built, disappearing into the horizon. That kind of architect is almost unthinkable until recently, but maybe that is coming back. Now we're expected only to design "the exceptional" and, to me, that's very uncomfortable. In a serious climate, [people are] more susceptible to serious ideas."
Koolhaas glides easily between the construction site, the fashion catwalk, publishing and consulting on the development potential of entire nations. An unlikely new client is Libya, specifically "a subtle group of people around the [Gaddafi] son there who want to pull the country toward Europe." Koolhaas has been engaged not to build but to develop the Libyan Sahara for tourism: "It's preservation," he explains, if one begins to imagine mechanized buildings rising from the sands, "We don't always want to build. We've found ways other than building to address situations."
If his apparent omnipotence makes him the ideal consultant for ambitious leaders of developing countries, established Europe also wants Rem's opinion. This year he was engaged by the EU to join a think tank of 11 wise Europeans to propose "ideas for the Union by 2030," the results of which are to be presented to Herman Van Rompuy this month. ("I am pro a European army. Without it, Europe accepts a diminishing of its role.") Taking the EU in hand isn't new to Koolhaas; in 2002, AMO created a new flag for the community, a brightly coloured "bar code" that was a composite of the colours of every member state; Austria used it as a logo during its 2006 Presidency. As a longstanding consultant to the EU brand, what does he make of the forces that currently threaten to bring down the ideal of a rainbow superstate?
"The problem of Europe is that it has a structure that was initiated but never completed. It has been receded by stealth; originally, it was driven by very intelligent people who put something in place that worked on their terms. But now there is a new generation of leaders who are more involved in running their own countries. Europe became an alibi for what was a problem in those individual countries. The current situation is an outcome of that there are no defenders, only critics. So it can no longer evolve. It's crystal clear to me."
Cantilevered building by rem koolhaas designed to provide a better view towards madison square park in the flatiron district.
It's easy to fall into wide-ranging conversation with Koolhaas, who at 64 works a disarmingly stylish look, in head-to-toe Prada, and a slender figure honed by a rigorous daily swimming schedule. He so obviously enjoys his role as intellectual-for-hire that often one can entirely forget about the buildings.
Seeded in the boom years, they are continuing to sprout up. Next year his design for a Maggie's cancer care centre in Glasgow will open, to be followed by a revamp of the Commonwealth Institute in west London. But curious pedestrians can already view his first British major building.
Intrigued by the design for Rothschild, as represented by teacups and a mobile phone, the day after our interview I take the short journey to Bank to see if there are any obvious signs of his new creation. Armed only with the name of a nearby lane, I'm concerned I might not be able to locate the site. I needn't have worried. When I emerge from the Tube at Bank, the roads are closed to traffic, enormous yellow low-loaders blocking the way as cranes are winched up into the sky, starting the final effortful months of "topping out" the tower.
Just as Koolhaas described, its position in the midst of the ancient city means it is only visible in glimpses. It's a building that doesn't so much alter London's skyline as colour in the gaps: a flash of pale greenish-silver glass seen down narrow Georgian streets. One of the greatest architects of his generation is finally about to make his mark in Britain. Just don't call it "iconic".
For further reading:
'S, M, L, XL' by Rem Koolhaas (Monacelli Press)
(STOPPRESS ! Added: Sunday, 27 June 2010, 09:44 AM Mecca time, 06:44 AM GMT
One of the best 'sc**w you' resignation letters I've seen in a long time. He managed to publish it in the Rolling Stone magazine as well: Ready, Fire, Aim ...
Well done soldier.
MJ, Perth, Australia.)
Stanley McChrystal, Obama's top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House - update June 23rd McChrystal has been sacked by Obama
By Michael Hastings
This article appears in RS 1108/1109 from July 8-22, 2010, on newsstands Friday, June 25.
June 22, 2010 "" -- 'How'd I get screwed into going to this dinner?" demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It's a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He's in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually have allies. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany's president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him.
"The dinner comes with the position, sir," says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn.
McChrystal turns sharply in his chair.
"Hey, Charlie," he asks, "does this come with the position?"
McChrystal gives him the middle finger.
On the ground with the Runaway General: Photos of Stanley McChrystal at work.
The general stands and looks around the suite that his traveling staff of 10 has converted into a full-scale operations center. The tables are crowded with silver Panasonic Toughbooks, and blue cables crisscross the hotel's thick carpet, hooked up to satellite dishes to provide encrypted phone and e-mail communications. Dressed in off-the-rack civilian casual blue tie, button-down shirt, dress slacks McChrystal is way out of his comfort zone. Paris, as one of his advisers says, is the "most anti-McChrystal city you can imagine." The general hates fancy restaurants, rejecting any place with candles on the tables as too "Gucci." He prefers Bud Light Lime (his favorite beer) to Bordeaux,
(his favorite movie) to Jean-Luc Godard. Besides, the public eye has never been a place where McChrystal felt comfortable: Before President Obama put him in charge of the war in Afghanistan, he spent five years running the Pentagon's most secretive black ops.
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"What's the update on the Kandahar bombing?" McChrystal asks Flynn. The city has been rocked by two massive car bombs in the past day alone, calling into question the general's assurances that he can wrest it from the Taliban.
"We have two KIAs, but that hasn't been confirmed," Flynn says.
McChrystal takes a final look around the suite. At 55, he is gaunt and lean, not unlike an older version of Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn. His slate-blue eyes have the unsettling ability to drill down when they lock on you. If you've fucked up or disappointed him, they can destroy your soul without the need for him to raise his voice.
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"I'd rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner," McChrystal says.
He pauses a beat.
"Unfortunately," he adds, "no one in this room could do it."
With that, he's out the door.
"Who's he going to dinner with?" I ask one of his aides.
"Some French minister," the aide tells me. "It's fucking gay."
Get more Rolling Stone political coverage.
The next morning, McChrystal and his team gather to prepare for a speech he is giving at the École Militaire, a French military academy. The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as "shortsighted," saying it would lead to a state of "Chaos-istan." The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the fuck up, and keep a lower profile
Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. "I never know what's going to pop out until I'm up there, that's the problem," he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.
"Are you asking about Vice President Biden?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who's that?"
"Biden?" suggests a top adviser. "Did you say: Bite Me?"
When Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place. "I want the American people to understand," he announced in March 2009. "We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan." He ordered another 21,000 troops to Kabul, the largest increase since the war began in 2001. Taking the advice of both the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he also fired Gen. David McKiernan then the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan and replaced him with a man he didn't know and had met only briefly: Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It was the first time a top general had been relieved from duty during wartime in more than 50 years, since Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the height of the Korean War.
Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better. "It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his fucking war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."
From the start, McChrystal was determined to place his personal stamp on Afghanistan, to use it as a laboratory for a controversial military strategy known as counterinsurgency. COIN, as the theory is known, is the new gospel of the Pentagon brass, a doctrine that attempts to square the military's preference for high-tech violence with the demands of fighting protracted wars in failed states. COIN calls for sending huge numbers of ground troops to not only destroy the enemy, but to live among the civilian population and slowly rebuild, or build from scratch, another nation's government a process that even its staunchest advocates admit requires years, if not decades, to achieve. The theory essentially rebrands the military, expanding its authority (and its funding) to encompass the diplomatic and political sides of warfare: Think the Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps. In 2006, after Gen. David Petraeus beta-tested the theory during his "surge" in Iraq, it quickly gained a hardcore following of think-tankers, journalists, military officers and civilian officials. Nicknamed "COINdinistas" for their cultish zeal, this influential cadre believed the doctrine would be the perfect solution for Afghanistan. All they needed was a general with enough charisma and political savvy to implement it.
As McChrystal leaned on Obama to ramp up the war, he did it with the same fearlessness he used to track down terrorists in Iraq: Figure out how your enemy operates, be faster and more ruthless than everybody else, then take the fuckers out. After arriving in Afghanistan last June, the general conducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The now-infamous report was leaked to the press, and its conclusion was dire: If we didn't send another 40,000 troops swelling the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by nearly half we were in danger of "mission failure." The White House was furious. McChrystal, they felt, was trying to bully Obama, opening him up to charges of being weak on national security unless he did what the general wanted. It was Obama versus the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was determined to kick the president's ass.
Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a three-month review to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan. "I found that time painful," McChrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews. "I was selling an unsellable position." For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden, who argued that a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan would plunge America into a military quagmire without weakening international terrorist networks. "The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people," says Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of counterinsurgency who attended West Point with McChrystal. "The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.
In the end, however, McChrystal got almost exactly what he wanted. On December 1st, in a speech at West Point, the president laid out all the reasons why fighting the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea: It's expensive; we're in an economic crisis; a decade-long commitment would sap American power; Al Qaeda has shifted its base of operations to Pakistan. Then, without ever using the words "victory" or "win," Obama announced that he would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, almost as many as McChrystal had requested. The president had thrown his weight, however hesitantly, behind the counterinsurgency crowd.
Today, as McChrystal gears up for an offensive in southern Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. In June, the death toll for U.S. troops passed 1,000, and the number of IEDs has doubled. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the fifth-poorest country on earth has failed to win over the civilian population, whose attitude toward U.S. troops ranges from intensely wary to openly hostile. The biggest military operation of the year a ferocious offensive that began in February to retake the southern town of Marja continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a "bleeding ulcer." In June, Afghanistan officially outpaced Vietnam as the longest war in American history and Obama has quietly begun to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S. troops in July of next year. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it's precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn't want.
Even those who support McChrystal and his strategy of counterinsurgency know that whatever the general manages to accomplish in Afghanistan, it's going to look more like Vietnam than Desert Storm. "It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win," says Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, who serves as chief of operations for McChrystal. "This is going to end in an argument."
The night after his speech in Paris, McChrystal and his staff head to Kitty O'Shea's, an Irish pub catering to tourists, around the corner from the hotel. His wife, Annie, has joined him for a rare visit: Since the Iraq War began in 2003, she has seen her husband less than 30 days a year. Though it is his and Annie's 33rd wedding anniversary, McChrystal has invited his inner circle along for dinner and drinks at the "least Gucci" place his staff could find. His wife isn't surprised. "He once took me to a Jack in the Box when I was dressed in formalwear," she says with a laugh.
The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There's a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority. After arriving in Kabul last summer, Team America set about changing the culture of the International Security Assistance Force, as the NATO-led mission is known. (U.S. soldiers had taken to deriding ISAF as short for "I Suck at Fighting" or "In Sandals and Flip-Flops.") McChrystal banned alcohol on base, kicked out Burger King and other symbols of American excess, expanded the morning briefing to include thousands of officers and refashioned the command center into a Situational Awareness Room, a free-flowing information hub modeled after Mayor Mike Bloomberg's offices in New York. He also set a manic pace for his staff, becoming legendary for sleeping four hours a night, running seven miles each morning, and eating one meal a day. (In the month I spend around the general, I witness him eating only once.) It's a kind of superhuman narrative that has built up around him, a staple in almost every media profile, as if the ability to go without sleep and food translates into the possibility of a man single-handedly winning the war.
By midnight at Kitty O'Shea's, much of Team America is completely shitfaced. Two officers do an Irish jig mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance, while McChrystal's top advisers lock arms and sing a slurred song of their own invention. "Afghanistan!" they bellow. "Afghanistan!" They call it their Afghanistan song.
McChrystal steps away from the circle, observing his team. "All these men," he tells me. "I'd die for them. And they'd die for me."
The assembled men may look and sound like a bunch of combat veterans letting off steam, but in fact this tight-knit group represents the most powerful force shaping U.S. policy in Afghanistan. While McChrystal and his men are in indisputable command of all military aspects of the war, there is no equivalent position on the diplomatic or political side. Instead, an assortment of administration players compete over the Afghan portfolio: U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, National Security Advisor Jim Jones and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, not to mention 40 or so other coalition ambassadors and a host of talking heads who try to insert themselves into the mess, from John Kerry to John McCain. This diplomatic incoherence has effectively allowed McChrystal's team to call the shots and hampered efforts to build a stable and credible government in Afghanistan. "It jeopardizes the mission," says Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who supports McChrystal. "The military cannot by itself create governance reform."
Part of the problem is structural: The Defense Department budget exceeds $600 billion a year, while the State Department receives only $50 billion. But part of the problem is personal: In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama's top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a "clown" who remains "stuck in 1985." Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, "turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it's not very helpful." Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal's inner circle. "Hillary had Stan's back during the strategic review," says an adviser. "She said, 'If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.'?"
McChrystal reserves special skepticism for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. "The Boss says he's like a wounded animal," says a member of the general's team. "Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he's going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous. He's a brilliant guy, but he just comes in, pulls on a lever, whatever he can grasp onto. But this is COIN, and you can't just have someone yanking on shit."
At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," he groans. "I don't even want to open it." He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.
"Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg," an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.
By far the most crucial and strained relationship is between McChrystal and Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador. According to those close to the two men, Eikenberry a retired three-star general who served in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2005 can't stand that his former subordinate is now calling the shots. He's also furious that McChrystal, backed by NATO's allies, refused to put Eikenberry in the pivotal role of viceroy in Afghanistan, which would have made him the diplomatic equivalent of the general. The job instead went to British Ambassador Mark Sedwill a move that effectively increased McChrystal's influence over diplomacy by shutting out a powerful rival. "In reality, that position needs to be filled by an American for it to have weight," says a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations.
The relationship was further strained in January, when a classified cable that Eikenberry wrote was leaked to The New York Times. The cable was as scathing as it was prescient. The ambassador offered a brutal critique of McChrystal's strategy, dismissed President Hamid Karzai as "not an adequate strategic partner," and cast doubt on whether the counterinsurgency plan would be "sufficient" to deal with Al Qaeda. "We will become more deeply engaged here with no way to extricate ourselves," Eikenberry warned, "short of allowing the country to descend again into lawlessness and chaos."
McChrystal and his team were blindsided by the cable. "I like Karl, I've known him for years, but they'd never said anything like that to us before," says McChrystal, who adds that he felt "betrayed" by the leak. "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so.'?"
The most striking example of McChrystal's usurpation of diplomatic policy is his handling of Karzai. It is McChrystal, not diplomats like Eikenberry or Holbrooke, who enjoys the best relationship with the man America is relying on to lead Afghanistan. The doctrine of counterinsurgency requires a credible government, and since Karzai is not considered credible by his own people, McChrystal has worked hard to make him so. Over the past few months, he has accompanied the president on more than 10 trips around the country, standing beside him at political meetings, or shuras, in Kandahar. In February, the day before the doomed offensive in Marja, McChrystal even drove over to the president's palace to get him to sign off on what would be the largest military operation of the year. Karzai's staff, however, insisted that the president was sleeping off a cold and could not be disturbed. After several hours of haggling, McChrystal finally enlisted the aid of Afghanistan's defense minister, who persuaded Karzai's people to wake the president from his nap.
This is one of the central flaws with McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy: The need to build a credible government puts us at the mercy of whatever tin-pot leader we've backed a danger that Eikenberry explicitly warned about in his cable. Even Team McChrystal privately acknowledges that Karzai is a less-than-ideal partner. "He's been locked up in his palace the past year," laments one of the general's top advisers. At times, Karzai himself has actively undermined McChrystal's desire to put him in charge. During a recent visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Karzai met three U.S. soldiers who had been wounded in Uruzgan province. "General," he called out to McChrystal, "I didn't even know we were fighting in Uruzgan!"
Growing up as a military brat, McChrystal exhibited the mixture of brilliance and cockiness that would follow him throughout his career. His father fought in Korea and Vietnam, retiring as a two-star general, and his four brothers all joined the armed services. Moving around to different bases, McChrystal took solace in baseball, a sport in which he made no pretense of hiding his superiority: In Little League, he would call out strikes to the crowd before whipping a fastball down the middle.
McChrystal entered West Point in 1972, when the U.S. military was close to its all-time low in popularity. His class was the last to graduate before the academy started to admit women. The "Prison on the Hudson," as it was known then, was a potent mix of testosterone, hooliganism and reactionary patriotism. Cadets repeatedly trashed the mess hall in food fights, and birthdays were celebrated with a tradition called "rat fucking," which often left the birthday boy outside in the snow or mud, covered in shaving cream. "It was pretty out of control," says Lt. Gen. David Barno, a classmate who went on to serve as the top commander in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. The class, filled with what Barno calls "huge talent" and "wild-eyed teenagers with a strong sense of idealism," also produced Gen. Ray Odierno, the current commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.
The son of a general, McChrystal was also a ringleader of the campus dissidents a dual role that taught him how to thrive in a rigid, top-down environment while thumbing his nose at authority every chance he got. He accumulated more than 100 hours of demerits for drinking, partying and insubordination a record that his classmates boasted made him a "century man." One classmate, who asked not to be named, recalls finding McChrystal passed out in the shower after downing a case of beer he had hidden under the sink. The troublemaking almost got him kicked out, and he spent hours subjected to forced marches in the Area, a paved courtyard where unruly cadets were disciplined. "I'd come visit, and I'd end up spending most of my time in the library, while Stan was in the Area," recalls Annie, who began dating McChrystal in 1973.
McChrystal wound up ranking 298 out of a class of 855, a serious underachievement for a man widely regarded as brilliant. His most compelling work was extracurricular: As managing editor of The Pointer, the West Point literary magazine, McChrystal wrote seven short stories that eerily foreshadow many of the issues he would confront in his career. In one tale, a fictional officer complains about the difficulty of training foreign troops to fight; in another, a 19-year-old soldier kills a boy he mistakes for a terrorist. In "Brinkman's Note," a piece of suspense fiction, the unnamed narrator appears to be trying to stop a plot to assassinate the president. It turns out, however, that the narrator himself is the assassin, and he's able to infiltrate the White House: "The President strode in smiling. From the right coat pocket of the raincoat I carried, I slowly drew forth my 32-caliber pistol. In Brinkman's failure, I had succeeded."
After graduation, 2nd Lt. Stanley McChrystal entered an Army that was all but broken in the wake of Vietnam. "We really felt we were a peacetime generation," he recalls. "There was the Gulf War, but even that didn't feel like that big of a deal." So McChrystal spent his career where the action was: He enrolled in Special Forces school and became a regimental commander of the 3rd Ranger Battalion in 1986. It was a dangerous position, even in peacetime nearly two dozen Rangers were killed in training accidents during the Eighties. It was also an unorthodox career path: Most soldiers who want to climb the ranks to general don't go into the Rangers. Displaying a penchant for transforming systems he considers outdated, McChrystal set out to revolutionize the training regime for the Rangers. He introduced mixed martial arts, required every soldier to qualify with night-vision goggles on the rifle range and forced troops to build up their endurance with weekly marches involving heavy backpacks.
In the late 1990s, McChrystal shrewdly improved his inside game, spending a year at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and then at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he co-authored a treatise on the merits and drawbacks of humanitarian interventionism. But as he moved up through the ranks, McChrystal relied on the skills he had learned as a troublemaking kid at West Point: knowing precisely how far he could go in a rigid military hierarchy without getting tossed out. Being a highly intelligent badass, he discovered, could take you far especially in the political chaos that followed September 11th. "He was very focused," says Annie. "Even as a young officer he seemed to know what he wanted to do. I don't think his personality has changed in all these years."
By some accounts, McChrystal's career should have been over at least two times by now. As Pentagon spokesman during the invasion of Iraq, the general seemed more like a White House mouthpiece than an up-and-coming commander with a reputation for speaking his mind. When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made his infamous "stuff happens" remark during the looting of Baghdad, McChrystal backed him up. A few days later, he echoed the president's Mission Accomplished gaffe by insisting that major combat operations in Iraq were over. But it was during his next stint overseeing the military's most elite units, including the Rangers, Navy Seals and Delta Force that McChrystal took part in a cover-up that would have destroyed the career of a lesser man.
After Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former-NFL-star-turned-Ranger, was accidentally killed by his own troops in Afghanistan in April 2004, McChrystal took an active role in creating the impression that Tillman had died at the hands of Taliban fighters. He signed off on a falsified recommendation for a Silver Star that suggested Tillman had been killed by enemy fire. (McChrystal would later claim he didn't read the recommendation closely enough a strange excuse for a commander known for his laserlike attention to minute details.) A week later, McChrystal sent a memo up the chain of command, specifically warning that President Bush should avoid mentioning the cause of Tillman's death. "If the circumstances of Corporal Tillman's death become public," he wrote, it could cause "public embarrassment" for the president.
"The false narrative, which McChrystal clearly helped construct, diminished Pat's true actions," wrote Tillman's mother, Mary, in her book Boots on the Ground by Dusk. McChrystal got away with it, she added, because he was the "golden boy" of Rumsfeld and Bush, who loved his willingness to get things done, even if it included bending the rules or skipping the chain of command. Nine days after Tillman's death, McChrystal was promoted to major general.
Two years later, in 2006, McChrystal was tainted by a scandal involving detainee abuse and torture at Camp Nama in Iraq. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, prisoners at the camp were subjected to a now-familiar litany of abuse: stress positions, being dragged naked through the mud. McChrystal was not disciplined in the scandal, even though an interrogator at the camp reported seeing him inspect the prison multiple times. But the experience was so unsettling to McChrystal that he tried to prevent detainee operations from being placed under his command in Afghanistan, viewing them as a "political swamp," according to a U.S. official. In May 2009, as McChrystal prepared for his confirmation hearings, his staff prepared him for hard questions about Camp Nama and the Tillman cover-up. But the scandals barely made a ripple in Congress, and McChrystal was soon on his way back to Kabul to run the war in Afghanistan.
The media, to a large extent, have also given McChrystal a pass on both controversies. Where Gen. Petraeus is kind of a dweeb, a teacher's pet with a Ranger's tab, McChrystal is a snake-eating rebel, a "Jedi" commander, as Newsweek called him. He didn't care when his teenage son came home with blue hair and a mohawk. He speaks his mind with a candor rare for a high-ranking official. He asks for opinions, and seems genuinely interested in the response. He gets briefings on his iPod and listens to books on tape. He carries a custom-made set of nunchucks in his convoy engraved with his name and four stars, and his itinerary often bears a fresh quote from Bruce Lee. ("There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.") He went out on dozens of nighttime raids during his time in Iraq, unprecedented for a top commander, and turned up on missions unannounced, with almost no entourage. "The fucking lads love Stan McChrystal," says a British officer who serves in Kabul. "You'd be out in Somewhere, Iraq, and someone would take a knee beside you, and a corporal would be like 'Who the fuck is that?' And it's fucking Stan McChrystal."
It doesn't hurt that McChrystal was also extremely successful as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, the elite forces that carry out the government's darkest ops. During the Iraq surge, his team killed and captured thousands of insurgents, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. "JSOC was a killing machine," says Maj. Gen. Mayville, his chief of operations. McChrystal was also open to new ways of killing. He systematically mapped out terrorist networks, targeting specific insurgents and hunting them down often with the help of cyberfreaks traditionally shunned by the military. "The Boss would find the 24-year-old kid with a nose ring, with some fucking brilliant degree from MIT, sitting in the corner with 16 computer monitors humming," says a Special Forces commando who worked with McChrystal in Iraq and now serves on his staff in Kabul. "He'd say, 'Hey you fucking muscleheads couldn't find lunch without help. You got to work together with these guys.'?"
Even in his new role as America's leading evangelist for counterinsurgency, McChrystal retains the deep-seated instincts of a terrorist hunter. To put pressure on the Taliban, he has upped the number of Special Forces units in Afghanistan from four to 19. "You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight," McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. Then he'll add, "I'm going to have to scold you in the morning for it, though." In fact, the general frequently finds himself apologizing for the disastrous consequences of counterinsurgency. In the first four months of this year, NATO forces killed some 90 civilians, up 76 percent from the same period in 2009 a record that has created tremendous resentment among the very population that COIN theory is intent on winning over. In February, a Special Forces night raid ended in the deaths of two pregnant Afghan women and allegations of a cover-up, and in April, protests erupted in Kandahar after U.S. forces accidentally shot up a bus, killing five Afghans. "We've shot an amazing number of people," McChrystal recently conceded.
Despite the tragedies and miscues, McChrystal has issued some of the strictest directives to avoid civilian casualties that the U.S. military has ever encountered in a war zone. It's "insurgent math," as he calls it for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies. He has ordered convoys to curtail their reckless driving, put restrictions on the use of air power and severely limited night raids. He regularly apologizes to Hamid Karzai when civilians are killed, and berates commanders responsible for civilian deaths. "For a while," says one U.S. official, "the most dangerous place to be in Afghanistan was in front of McChrystal after a 'civ cas' incident." The ISAF command has even discussed ways to make not killing into something you can win an award for: There's talk of creating a new medal for "courageous restraint," a buzzword that's unlikely to gain much traction in the gung-ho culture of the U.S. military.
But however strategic they may be, McChrystal's new marching orders have caused an intense backlash among his own troops. Being told to hold their fire, soldiers complain, puts them in greater danger. "Bottom line?" says a former Special Forces operator who has spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts. His rules of engagement put soldiers' lives in even greater danger. Every real soldier will tell you the same thing."
In March, McChrystal traveled to Combat Outpost JFM a small encampment on the outskirts of Kandahar to confront such accusations from the troops directly. It was a typically bold move by the general. Only two days earlier, he had received an e-mail from Israel Arroyo, a 25-year-old staff sergeant who asked McChrystal to go on a mission with his unit. "I am writing because it was said you don't care about the troops and have made it harder to defend ourselves," Arroyo wrote.
Within hours, McChrystal responded personally: "I'm saddened by the accusation that I don't care about soldiers, as it is something I suspect any soldier takes both personally and professionally at least I do. But I know perceptions depend upon your perspective at the time, and I respect that every soldier's view is his own." Then he showed up at Arroyo's outpost and went on a foot patrol with the troops not some bullshit photo-op stroll through a market, but a real live operation in a dangerous war zone.
Six weeks later, just before McChrystal returned from Paris, the general received another e-mail from Arroyo. A 23-year-old corporal named Michael Ingram one of the soldiers McChrystal had gone on patrol with had been killed by an IED a day earlier. It was the third man the 25-member platoon had lost in a year, and Arroyo was writing to see if the general would attend Ingram's memorial service. "He started to look up to you," Arroyo wrote. McChrystal said he would try to make it down to pay his respects as soon as possible.
The night before the general is scheduled to visit Sgt. Arroyo's platoon for the memorial, I arrive at Combat Outpost JFM to speak with the soldiers he had gone on patrol with. JFM is a small encampment, ringed by high blast walls and guard towers. Almost all of the soldiers here have been on repeated combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have seen some of the worst fighting of both wars. But they are especially angered by Ingram's death. His commanders had repeatedly requested permission to tear down the house where Ingram was killed, noting that it was often used as a combat position by the Taliban. But due to McChrystal's new restrictions to avoid upsetting civilians, the request had been denied. "These were abandoned houses," fumes Staff Sgt. Kennith Hicks. "Nobody was coming back to live in them."
One soldier shows me the list of new regulations the platoon was given. "Patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourselves with lethal force," the laminated card reads. For a soldier who has traveled halfway around the world to fight, that's like telling a cop he should only patrol in areas where he knows he won't have to make arrests. "Does that make any fucking sense?" asks Pfc. Jared Pautsch. "We should just drop a fucking bomb on this place. You sit and ask yourself: What are we doing here?"
The rules handed out here are not what McChrystal intended they've been distorted as they passed through the chain of command but knowing that does nothing to lessen the anger of troops on the ground. "Fuck, when I came over here and heard that McChrystal was in charge, I thought we would get our fucking gun on," says Hicks, who has served three tours of combat. "I get COIN. I get all that. McChrystal comes here, explains it, it makes sense. But then he goes away on his bird, and by the time his directives get passed down to us through Big Army, they're all fucked up either because somebody is trying to cover their ass, or because they just don't understand it themselves. But we're fucking losing this thing."
McChrystal and his team show up the next day. Underneath a tent, the general has a 45-minute discussion with some two dozen soldiers. The atmosphere is tense. "I ask you what's going on in your world, and I think it's important for you all to understand the big picture as well," McChrystal begins. "How's the company doing? You guys feeling sorry for yourselves? Anybody? Anybody feel like you're losing?" McChrystal says.
"Sir, some of the guys here, sir, think we're losing, sir," says Hicks.
McChrystal nods. "Strength is leading when you just don't want to lead," he tells the men. "You're leading by example. That's what we do. Particularly when it's really, really hard, and it hurts inside." Then he spends 20 minutes talking about counterinsurgency, diagramming his concepts and principles on a whiteboard. He makes COIN seem like common sense, but he's careful not to bullshit the men. "We are knee-deep in the decisive year," he tells them. The Taliban, he insists, no longer has the initiative "but I don't think we do, either." It's similar to the talk he gave in Paris, but it's not winning any hearts and minds among the soldiers. "This is the philosophical part that works with think tanks," McChrystal tries to joke. "But it doesn't get the same reception from infantry companies."
During the question-and-answer period, the frustration boils over. The soldiers complain about not being allowed to use lethal force, about watching insurgents they detain be freed for lack of evidence. They want to be able to fight like they did in Iraq, like they had in Afghanistan before McChrystal. "We aren't putting fear into the Taliban," one soldier says.
"Winning hearts and minds in COIN is a coldblooded thing," McChrystal says, citing an oft-repeated maxim that you can't kill your way out of Afghanistan. "The Russians killed 1 million Afghans, and that didn't work."
"I'm not saying go out and kill everybody, sir," the soldier persists. "You say we've stopped the momentum of the insurgency. I don't believe that's true in this area. The more we pull back, the more we restrain ourselves, the stronger it's getting."
"I agree with you," McChrystal says. "In this area, we've not made progress, probably. You have to show strength here, you have to use fire. What I'm telling you is, fire costs you. What do you want to do? You want to wipe the population out here and resettle it?"
A soldier complains that under the rules, any insurgent who doesn't have a weapon is immediately assumed to be a civilian. "That's the way this game is," McChrystal says. "It's complex. I can't just decide: It's shirts and skins, and we'll kill all the shirts."
As the discussion ends, McChrystal seems to sense that he hasn't succeeded at easing the men's anger. He makes one last-ditch effort to reach them, acknowledging the death of Cpl. Ingram. "There's no way I can make that easier," he tells them. "No way I can pretend it won't hurt. No way I can tell you not to feel that. . . . I will tell you, you're doing a great job. Don't let the frustration get to you." The session ends with no clapping, and no real resolution. McChrystal may have sold President Obama on counterinsurgency, but many of his own men aren't buying it.
When it comes to Afghanistan, history is not on McChrystal's side. The only foreign invader to have any success here was Genghis Khan and he wasn't hampered by things like human rights, economic development and press scrutiny. The COIN doctrine, bizarrely, draws inspiration from some of the biggest Western military embarrassments in recent memory: France's nasty war in Algeria (lost in 1962) and the American misadventure in Vietnam (lost in 1975). McChrystal, like other advocates of COIN, readily acknowledges that counterinsurgency campaigns are inherently messy, expensive and easy to lose. "Even Afghans are confused by Afghanistan," he says. But even if he somehow manages to succeed, after years of bloody fighting with Afghan kids who pose no threat to the U.S. homeland, the war will do little to shut down Al Qaeda, which has shifted its operations to Pakistan. Dispatching 150,000 troops to build new schools, roads, mosques and water-treatment facilities around Kandahar is like trying to stop the drug war in Mexico by occupying Arkansas and building Baptist churches in Little Rock. "It's all very cynical, politically," says Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer who has extensive experience in the region. "Afghanistan is not in our vital interest there's nothing for us there."
In mid-May, two weeks after visiting the troops in Kandahar, McChrystal travels to the White House for a high-level visit by Hamid Karzai. It is a triumphant moment for the general, one that demonstrates he is very much in command both in Kabul and in Washington. In the East Room, which is packed with journalists and dignitaries, President Obama sings the praises of Karzai. The two leaders talk about how great their relationship is, about the pain they feel over civilian casualties. They mention the word "progress" 16 times in under an hour. But there is no mention of victory. Still, the session represents the most forceful commitment that Obama has made to McChrystal's strategy in months. "There is no denying the progress that the Afghan people have made in recent years in education, in health care and economic development," the president says. "As I saw in the lights across Kabul when I landed lights that would not have been visible just a few years earlier."
It is a disconcerting observation for Obama to make. During the worst years in Iraq, when the Bush administration had no real progress to point to, officials used to offer up the exact same evidence of success. "It was one of our first impressions," one GOP official said in 2006, after landing in Baghdad at the height of the sectarian violence. "So many lights shining brightly." So it is to the language of the Iraq War that the Obama administration has turned talk of progress, of city lights, of metrics like health care and education. Rhetoric that just a few years ago they would have mocked. "They are trying to manipulate perceptions because there is no definition of victory because victory is not even defined or recognizable," says Celeste Ward, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who served as a political adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq in 2006. "That's the game we're in right now. What we need, for strategic purposes, is to create the perception that we didn't get run off. The facts on the ground are not great, and are not going to become great in the near future."
But facts on the ground, as history has proven, offer little deterrent to a military determined to stay the course. Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn't begin to reflect how deeply fucked up things are in Afghanistan. "If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular," a senior adviser to McChrystal says. Such realism, however, doesn't prevent advocates of counterinsurgency from dreaming big: Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further. "There's a possibility we could ask for another surge of U.S. forces next summer if we see success here," a senior military official in Kabul tells me.
Back in Afghanistan, less than a month after the White House meeting with Karzai and all the talk of "progress," McChrystal is hit by the biggest blow to his vision of counterinsurgency. Since last year, the Pentagon had been planning to launch a major military operation this summer in Kandahar, the country's second-largest city and the Taliban's original home base. It was supposed to be a decisive turning point in the war the primary reason for the troop surge that McChrystal wrested from Obama late last year. But on June 10th, acknowledging that the military still needs to lay more groundwork, the general announced that he is postponing the offensive until the fall. Rather than one big battle, like Fallujah or Ramadi, U.S. troops will implement what McChrystal calls a "rising tide of security." The Afghan police and army will enter Kandahar to attempt to seize control of neighborhoods, while the U.S. pours $90 million of aid into the city to win over the civilian population.
Even proponents of counterinsurgency are hard-pressed to explain the new plan. "This isn't a classic operation," says a U.S. military official. "It's not going to be Black Hawk Down. There aren't going to be doors kicked in." Other U.S. officials insist that doors are going to be kicked in, but that it's going to be a kinder, gentler offensive than the disaster in Marja. "The Taliban have a jackboot on the city," says a military official. "We have to remove them, but we have to do it in a way that doesn't alienate the population." When Vice President Biden was briefed on the new plan in the Oval Office, insiders say he was shocked to see how much it mirrored the more gradual plan of counterterrorism that he advocated last fall. "This looks like CT-plus!" he said, according to U.S. officials familiar with the meeting.
Whatever the nature of the new plan, the delay underscores the fundamental flaws of counterinsurgency. After nine years of war, the Taliban simply remains too strongly entrenched for the U.S. military to openly attack. The very people that COIN seeks to win over the Afghan people do not want us there. Our supposed ally, President Karzai, used his influence to delay the offensive, and the massive influx of aid championed by McChrystal is likely only to make things worse. "Throwing money at the problem exacerbates the problem," says Andrew Wilder, an expert at Tufts University who has studied the effect of aid in southern Afghanistan. "A tsunami of cash fuels corruption, delegitimizes the government and creates an environment where we're picking winners and losers" a process that fuels resentment and hostility among the civilian population. So far, counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war. There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word "victory" when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge.
This article originally appeared in RS 1108/1109 from July 8-22, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Rolling Stone;
Whistleblower website WikiLeaks says it will release another secret recording of a US military attack in which American warplanes "massacre" Afghan civilians.
Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange says he has obtained a video of the US killings around the east Afghanistan village of Gerani in 2009 in which more than 140 Afghan civilians, including 92 children, were slaughtered, UK media reported on Wednesday.
"The clip will show previously classified footage from US warplanes that had been tapped to bomb Taliban positions in Farah province, Afghanistan last year," the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph quoted a WikiLeaks "email sent to supporters."
"The Afghan government said at the time that the strikes by F-18 and B1 planes near Gerani killed 147 civilians. An independent Afghan inquiry later put the toll at 86," the paper added.
Assange fears the website might come under attack after US authorities said they were searching for the site's founder following the arrest of a US soldier accused of leaking the Afghanistan video and another of a US attack in the Iraq capital Baghdad in which a number of other civilians were killed, The Guardian, another British daily reported Wednesday.
WikiLeaks' release of the Baghdad video in April drew worldwide fire over the US military's indiscriminate killings in Iraq.
The website is reportedly preparing the film of the Afghan village bombing described by the UK media as potentially harrowing.
The American military officials had initially said that they had bombarded Afghan militants' strongholds but later admitted to "mistakes" in the attacks.
The US has reportedly used mass-killing weapons in the operation, including 1,000 kilogram bombs and others that burst before touchdown to maximize casualties.
It also failed to check whether or not women and children were sheltered in the buildings.
ENVIRONMENT AND AGRICULTURE
Corporate farming for the rich International agribusinesses, investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds, UK pension funds, foundations and individuals have been snapping up some of the world's cheapest land, in Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Congo, Zambia, Uganda, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana and elsewhere. Ethiopia alone has approved 815 foreign-financed agricultural projects since 2007. Any land investors cant buy is leased for about $1 per year per hectare. In many cases, the contracts have led to evictions, civil unrest and complaints of land grabbing, John Vidal reports in UKs Guardian .
Nyikaw Ochalla, an indigenous Anuak from the Gambella region of Ethiopia now living in Britain but in regular contact with farmers in his region, told Vidal : All of the land in the Gambella region is utilised. Each community has and looks after its own territory and the rivers and farmlands within it. It is a myth propagated by the government and investors to say that there is waste land or land that is not utilised in Gambella.
The foreign companies are arriving in large numbers, depriving people of land they have used for centuries. There is no consultation with the indigenous population. The deals are done secretly. The only thing the local people see is people coming with lots of tractors to invade their lands .People cannot believe what is happening. Thousands of people will be affected and people will go hungry.
Indian companies, backed by government loans, have bought or leased hundreds of thousands of hectares in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique, where they are growing rice, sugar cane, maize and lentils to feed their domestic market.
The Ethiopian government denied the deals were causing hunger and said that the land deals were attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign investments and tens of thousands of jobs. A spokesman said that Ethiopia has 74 m hectares of fertile land, only 15 percent is currently in use. Of the remaining land, only 3 to 4 percent is offered to foreign investors.
Local government officers in Ethiopia said that foreign companies were not being charged for water, and in Awassa, the al-Amouni farm set up by Saudi billionaire businessman, Ethiopian-born Sheikh Modhammed al-Amoudi, uses as much water a year as 100 000 Ethiopians.
Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern emirate states, Qatar, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, are thought to be the biggest buyers of African land. In 2008, Saudi Arabia, one of the Middle East's largest wheat-growers, announced it was to reduce domestic cereal production by 12 percent a year to conserve water. The government earmarked US$5 bn to provide loans at preferential rates to Saudi companies to invest in countries with strong agricultural potential.
Saudi Arabia is also leasing land from other countries such as Pakistan , already water-stressed, water-depleted. Ayesha Siddiqa, a strategic and political analyst said the idea is for individual landowners to lease to investors, opening the door to large-scale corporate farming. Big landowners who are now renting out their land to small farmers will throw them out and put it up to the highest foreign bidder, she said, predicting that small landholders with 5-10 acres would be bought out, and landlessness and rural poverty will increase.
Land grab has indeed intensified since the 2007/8 food commodity price crisis. The international not-for-profit organization Grain produced a comprehensive report warning that : If left unchecked, this global land grab could spell the end of small-scale farming and rural livelihoods.
The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), with 15 million members in 26 peasant organizations and 6 other supporting non-government organizations from Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, launched an Asia-wide protest against the global land grab in July 2009 . It said that state terrorism and widespread land grab in poor Asian countries took place at the height of the financial crisis.
The APC represents farmers, landless peasants, dalits, forests peoples, indigenous people, agricultural workers, herders, pastoralists, and the women and youths across these sectors .
Approximately 365 million people in Asia derive their livelihoods from land, but, landlessness in Asia is worsening at an alarming rate over past decade, owing to  the greater degree of integration of Asian countries with the global market, and increasing demands for land by big corporate interests. Landlessness among Asian peasants is very high: 49.6 percent in Bangladesh, 22 percent in India, 10 percent in Nepal and almost 75 percent in Pakistan and the Philippines, and the trend is growing, according to Danilo Ramos, APC secretary general.
More than 100 cases of land grab have been compiled by Grain. Land grabbers are driven by two different agendas, but they eventually converge.
The first agenda is food security. A number of countries that rely on food imports see outsourcing food production in foreign land as a long-term strategy to feed its own people cost-effectively, instead of having to pay the high prices in the world commodity markets. Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, India, Korea, Libya and Egypt, fall into this category. Foreign governments are buying up farmland in countries like Sudan, Cambodia, and the Philippines that depend on food aid delivered by the UN World Food Programme.
The second agenda is financial return, in particular, as the result of the financial meltdown of the housing and stock markets in 2007/8, investment fund managers have been turning to food and agricultural commodities and derivatives ; and coincidentally, agricultural land and produce are also seen as good sources of revenue.
Where these tracks come together  is that in both cases it is the private sector that will be in control. In the drive for food security, governments take the lead through a public policy agenda.. But while public officials negotiate and make the deals for land contracts, the private sector is explicitly expected, and even encouraged, to take over. It is effectively a new colonialism by transnational corporations.
China, for example, has been remarkably self-sufficient in food, though at a cost of using so much fertilizers that its soils are ruined, and its waterways putrid with pollution [10, 11] (Chinas Soils Ruined by Overuse of Chemical Fertilizers, China's Pollution Census Triggers Green Five-Year Plan, SiS 46). The Chinese government has been gradually outsourcing its food production well before the global food crisis. Some 30 agricultural cooperation deals have been sealed to give Chinese firms access to foreign farmland in exchange for Chinese technologies, training and infrastructure development funds, not only in Asia but all over Africa.
From Kazakhstan to Queensland, and from Mozambique to the Philippines, a steady and familiar process is under way, with Chinese companies leasing or buying up land, setting up large farms, flying in farmers, scientists and extension workers, and getting down to the work of crop production, Grain reports . Most of Chinas offshore farming is dedicated to rice, soybean, and maize, along with biofuel crops like sugarcane, cassava or sorghum.
The Gulf States, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have neither the water nor the soil to produce food. But they have plenty of oil and money. Because they depend on food imported mainly from Europe, and their currencies are pegged to the US dollar, the simultaneous rise in food prices on the world market and the fall in the US dollar have boosted their import bill from US$8 bn to US$20 bn within the past five years. Given that water is already in short supply, the Saudi government decided to stop growing wheat, their main staple, by 2016, and instead, to grow it elsewhere and ship it back.
The United Arab Emirates, similarly, under the aegis of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), banded together with Bahrain and the other Gulf nations to formulate a collective strategy of outsourcing food production, particularly to Islamic countries, where they will supply capital and oil contracts in exchange for guarantees that their corporations will have access to farmland and export the produce back home. The most heavily targeted states are Sudan and Pakistan, followed by a number of south-east Asian countries - Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam as well as Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uganda, Ukraine, Georgia, Brazil and so on.
Within food industry circles, Japanese and Arab trading and processing corporations have are the most involved.
Japanese firms already own 12 m ha of farmland abroad for the production of food and fodder crops, some of that in China, where in 2006, Asahi, Itochu and Sumitomo began leasing hundreds of hectares of farmland for organic food production for the Chinese and Korean markets. In 2007, Asahi expanded to develop the first Japanese dairy farm in China. A year later in September 2008, Asahi took advantage of the melamine milk tragedy to launch its first liquid milk product at a 50 percent mark-up.
Japanese firms have also targeted Brazil. In late 2007, Mitsui bought 100 000 ha of Brazilian farmland for soybean production.
The finance industry is getting in on the act. Throughout 2008, an army of investment houses, private equity funds, hedge funds and the like have been targeting farmlands throughout the world , with the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development greasing the way for this investment flow and persuading governments to change land ownership laws to ease the transactions. As a result, land prices have started to climb.
Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs have taken control of Chinas livestock industry; its biggest piggeries, poultry farms and meat processing plants, including rights to the farmland. New York-based BlackRock Inc, one of the worlds largest money managers with nearly US$1.5 trillion on its books, set up a US$200 m agricultural hedge fund, of which US$30 m will be used to acquire farmland around the world. Morgan Stanley, which nearly joined the queue for a US Treasury Department bail-out, bought 40 000 ha of farmland in the Ukraine, where Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment house has acquired rights to 300 000 ha. Meanwhile, Black Earth Farming, a Swedish investment group, acquired control of 331 000 ha of farmland in the black earth region of Russia, where Alpcot-Agro, another Swedish investment firm, also bought rights to 128 000 ha. Landkom, the British investment group, bought 100 000 ha of agricultural land in Ukraine and vows to expand to 350 000 ha by 2011. All these land acquisitions are for producing grains, oils, meat and dairy for those in the world market who can pay.
Not surprisingly, the food crisis worsens for the poor. At the end of 2009, over one billion of the worlds population are critically hungry, with 24 000 dying of hunger each day, more than half of them children. The United Nations Food Programme faces a budget shortfall of US$4.1 billion [12, 13]. Food prices have remained high despite the economic downturn, and extreme weather patterns affecting production are causing more hunger.
Many commentators rightly blame the deregulated financial speculation in the global agricultural commodities markets for precipitating the 2007/8 world food crisis , and the ensuing land grab has almost certainly made it worse.
However, other more serious, longer term threats to food security are in danger of being overlooked, which no amount of land grab can insure any country or individuals against.
Veteran world watcher Lester Brown reminds us that many past civilizations collapsed on account of shrinking food supplies, and we may well meet the same fate from  our failure to deal with the environmental trends that are undermining world food economy - most importantly failing water tables, eroding soils, and rising temperatures.
Our agriculture and food system has been showing signs of collapse [14, 15], with world grain yields falling to meet demand most years since 2000, and reserves reached their lowest in 50 years. Growth in yields has slowed despite record amounts of fertilizers being applied . In the major croplands of the world China, India and US, which contain half the worlds population - industrial farming practices have severely depleted underground water, dried out rivers and lakes, eroded topsoil, and decimated wild life with fertilizers and pesticides run-offs. Most alarming is the recent disappearance of bees and other pollinators (see  Mystery of Disappearing Honeybees and other articles in the series, SiS 34).
At the same time, world oil production has passed its peak  Oil Running Out (SiS 25) with the peak of natural gas not far behind . Conventional industrial agriculture is heavily dependent on fossil fuels (especially in the manufacture of N fertilizers), as well as water.
In addition, climate change has emerged as a major threat to agricultural productivity. Direct field monitoring showed that crop yields fell 10 percent for each °C rise in night-time temperature during the growing season . The International Food Policy Research Institute predicts that wheat yields in developing countries will drop 30 percent by 2050, while irrigated rice yields will drop 15 percent . Climate change may hit the developing world harder, but the developed world is not immune. Increasing frequencies of drought, flood, and storm associated with climate change will devastate crops and livestock, and spells of extreme heat are also damaging as plants will start to deteriorate at about 32 °C. The yields of corn, soybean and cotton could fall by 30 to 46 percent under the slowest warming scenario, or 63 to 82 percent under the fastest warming scenario.
The scramble for biofuels by developed nations was a major factor in precipitating the 2007/8 food crisis  and the ensuing land grab, as described here. Policies supporting biofuels such as those of the EU and US are grossly misguided.
The US imported 19.5 million barrels of petroleum a day in 2008, which made up 57 percent of its total consumption . In 2008, 9 billion gallons of ethanol were produced from 33 percent of the corn harvest subsidized at US$ 6-7 billion, to supply just 1.3 percent of the countrys oil consumption. It takes 1 700 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol . Even if all 341 Mt of corn in the US were to be converted into ethanol, it would provide only 5 percent of the total oil consumption in the country, leaving nothing for livestock feed or food .
The US is a major exporter of corn accounting for over 60 percent of the worlds export. Globally, the scramble for ethanol from corn and sugarcane and biodiesel from soybean, oilseeds, oil palm and jatropha resulted in accelerated deforestation (with large CO2 emissions) as well as forced evictions [25, 26] (Food Without Fossil Fuels Now, SiS 42) and land grab.
Biofuels from crops not only jeopardize food production; they are highly unsustainable, requiring huge inputs of fertilizers and pesticides as well as water, depleting soil fertility, accelerating soil erosion and generating a great deal of polluting wastes. A realistic energy accounting shows that all biofuels except one require more energy input in fossil fuels than the energy in the biofuel product. In other words, they have net negative energy returns and hence result in more CO2 emissions than just using the fossil fuels . The energy returns for the major biofuels are: corn ethanol -46 percent, switchgrass -68 percent; soybean biodiesel -63 percent; and rapeseed biodiesel -58 percent. Even palm oil produced in Thailand has a -8 percent net energy return. The only exception is ethanol from sugarcane in Brazil, with a positive energy return of 128 percent , though it is still unsustainable in other respects.
Are genetically modified (GM) crops desperately needed for feeding the world and saving the climate as proponents claim? A three-year assessment by 400 scientists, policymakers and non-government organization representatives IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development)  concluded that GM crops are at best irrelevant for food security and poverty alleviation, and small scale agro-ecological farming is the way ahead  (GM-Free Organic Agriculture to Feed the World, SiS 38).
GM crops are actually much worse than the high input green revolution varieties they replace, as documented by the large dossier of evidence we have accumulated over the years [30, 31] (The Case for A GM-Free Sustainable World, GM Science Exposed, ISIS publications). They require more fertilizers, more pesticides, more water, but yield less. GM crops are less resilient to environmental stresses, pests and diseases and hence highly vulnerable to climate change. But they cost more because of the corporate monopoly developed around gene patenting  US Farmers Oppose 'Big Ag' in Anti-Trust Hearing (SiS 46). After 15 years of allowing GM varieties to take over its major crops, the United States is facing ecological meltdown  (GM Crops Facing Meltdown in the USA, SiS 46). The same has happened with the introduction of GM cotton in India, where, in addition, it has accelerated farm suicides by increasing farmers indebtedness  (Farmer Suicides and Bt Cotton Nightmare Unfolding in India, SiS 45). Above all, genetic modification introduces specific hazards as I have indicated for more than ten years  (Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare, ISIS publication). Many scientists now acknowledge those hazards, some having done their own studies to find out  (GM is Dangerous and Futile, SiS 40).
There is no alternative to addressing the serious long
term threats to food security other than a decisive and
comprehensive shift worldwide to organic
agriculture and localized food and energy systems (see [37,
Futures Now: *Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free ,
Energies - 100% Renewable by 2050, ISIS/TWN
oil spill gulf of mexico
An estimated 3.4 million gallons are spewing out daily with no end in sight while toxic oil and dispersants are killing all ocean life
Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri interviews Ohio scientist Mike Castle on what can be done instead
It seems unbelievable that after almost six weeks of concentrated effort from the most technologically sophisticated staff and scientists of BP (ex British Petroleum, relaunched Beyond Petroleum!) that the catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico from Deepwater Horizons off-shore oil rig explosion is still spreading out of control. It has devastated the entire Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and entered the Atlantic Ocean, traveling along the coast, up to New Jersey and New York. This is no spill; it is already far worse than the 1989 ExxonValdez tanker accident. Some scientists estimated that 3.4 million gallons are coming out of 3 plumes daily . To-date this means 156.4 million gallons of crude oil, and counting; no wonder it is being called an underwater oil volcano.
Thats not all. There are new reports that another crude oil plume, 22 miles long by 6 miles wide, has been found going in another direction (West) , 3,300 feet [below the surface], with the greatest concentration of hydrocarbons at about 1300 feet suggesting the highest level of environmental pollution from the BP disaster may be located out of sight in the Gulfs deep waters. It was discovered by David Hollander, associate professor of chemical oceanography, University of South Florida, the lead investigator of a research mission sent to the Gulf of Mexico [2, 3]. They fear it is the result of BPs unprecedented use of chemical dispersants applied underwater at the well site. Professor Hollander said this raises  more fears that oil combined with dispersant toxicity may lead to a dangerous situation for fish larvae and other creatures that filter ocean water for food.
Despite 11 deaths from the initial rig explosion and the gravity of the ecological disaster, the worst of its kind in US history, not one person has been fired or held accountable. The cozy, on-going revolving door policy between corporations and government officials means that safety, precaution, and accountability are not part of the picture [4, 5].
BP also continues to spray highly toxic dispersants that are wrecking additional ecological havoc, exacerbating an already critical situation . One dispersant is the chemical solvent known as Corexit 9500, banned in Europe. It is spreading the crude oil and chemical toxicity over a far wider area, and traveling on the Gulf and ocean currents. The impact and extent of the devastation underwater is far worse, but unseen by satellite tracking. The ecological catastrophe is highly likely to become transAtlantic. A short ABC-TV news item showing the underwater spread of the crude oil and dispersants on their regular national program Good Morning America 25 May 2010 should be seen by everyone and shared widely .
The photographs posted by the Boston Globe on 24 May are also heart wrenching . There is no doubt that our entire ocean food chain has been poisoned. It will take time to document the full extent of the environmental and health impacts perpetrated by gross negligence and a total disregard of the Precautionary Principle . And, all those who are involved in any kind of miniscule and, so far, inept and extremely dangerous clean up are already becoming ill. This includes hired paid workers and volunteers from environmental organizations, who have not been informed by BP or anyone else of the environmental health hazards they face. And nothing is getting even remotely fixed while the epic environmental tragedy keeps unfolding. Birds, fishes, turtles, dolphins, whales and other sea creatures, the entire ecosystem is facing a far worsening crisis with every passing day. Toxic crude oil has hit land in Louisiana. In one area, Plaquemines Parish, there are video reports that all life in the ocean is dead . Dead turtles and dolphins are already washing up onto the Gulf shore; but the real extent is not being reported by mainstream news. Apparently BP is forbidding news crews access to the off-shore site; it is making the rules, not the US Coast Guard. BP has also refused to use less toxic dispersants . With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, The New York Times has reported numerous conflicts of interest .
An urgent report Its raining oil in Florida , on 25 May, noted raindrops of black crude oil carried on bands of storm clouds from the Gulf of Mexico. Until late on Tuesday 25 May, there was a live feed of the underwater crude oil spew. This live, streaming video was cut off, after a new eruption/explosion began. The last report was posted on Youtube .
Dr. R. Michael Castle, one of the top independent polymer chemists in the US, has been following this nightmare of incompetence and greed as he told me, since the oil rig explosion last month on April 20. Castle is also the author of The Methodic Demise of Natural Earth, an essay on what is happening to our planets environment with the out-of-control and illegal spraying of highly toxic aerosol Chemtrails over the past twelve years . He is further the author of the 2003 Unified Atmospheric Protection Act (now tied up in Congressional committee) .
With his extensive polymer chemistry background, Dr. Castle clearly understands the enormous ecological chemical devastation that is continuing unabated. The following are my conversations with him on 25 and 29 May 2010.
What can be done? he said. Firstly, dont set off any nuke! [This is still under consideration . ] Do not do that. This is sheer madness. In no way will this fix anything. It will do irreparable and long-term massive harm. Radiation damage would devastate the immediate area and the rest of our planet. [Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors are still monitored 65 years after the US military dropped atomic bombs on civilians.]
Secondly, for emergency clean-up crews exposed to the crude oils benzene vapors, they must be informed about the consequences of working there. Many of them are neither trained properly, nor know what serious health damage can result. [This is another unfolding scenario like what the 9/11 First Responders experienced, when they were told by public officials that it was safe to breathe the toxic air at Ground Zero in New York City.]
Thirdly, according to Dr. Castle, the dispersant contains ethylene oxide surfactants [that allows for increased spreadability]; and, one of them, 2-butoxy ethanol is a water soluble glycol ether. These are known to coat fish gills [that help absorb oxygen from the water]. Due to this toxic action, the fish then die, because they cannot get available oxygen. This is in addition to all sea life suffering from benzene poisoning.
1. Stay out of the water. Protect yourself from the hazardous vapors and carcinogenic effects of benzene. Benzene cuts off oxygen to the body (its water soluble) and is a known cause of leukemia blood cancer.
2. Use organic coconut oil or organic coconut butter. These are safe and natural plant ingredients that are bioactive and will coat the skin and protect it. Rub it on your hands, and face, and neck. It creates a protective film against benzene. Do not rub or wash it off, as it helps reverse the toxins many effects on the body.
3. Also, use a capful of Willards XXX Dark and rub it on arms and hands. This will also naturally protect the body. This is made of lignite coal in water and is another natural way to shield the body from toxins. [Dr. Castle has no financial ties with this company/product.]
4. I repeat: Do not send any emergency hazard clean-up teams to the Gulf who are uninformed and do not realize the extreme damage these poisons can do short and long term.
5. AmeriHaz can be safely used to gather up the crude oil that is already causing such ecological damage.
Castle developed AmeriHaz in 1996, an inert polymer, to deal in a truly safe manner with cleaning up serious crude oil leaks and out-of-control dispersals of highly dangerous chemicals. I wanted to create a product that could absorb any devastating spill (its really the very wrong word for what is happening in the Gulf. A spill is something very minor). This is catastrophic in its scope, he told me. This is an inert polymer product that will encapsulate this crude oil, so it wont be picked up systemically in anything else. It literally locks up PAHs [polyaromatic hydrocarbons] that are precursors of benzene. He has given a demonstration for Ohios TV news channel on how it works .
Castle also recommends using crushed, pebble-size lignite coal all along beaches, marshes, and estuaries. This will help detoxify the benzene (that is naturally soluble in water) because it is extremely toxic in crude oil.
These are realistic solutions that can actually begin to remedy the effects of this catastrophe, if those people in charge really do care about saving the Gulf, an area still in trauma from the post-Hurricane Katrina debacle where there was really no help for those in most need.
Finally, an international boycott of all BP products
should be instituted immediately. The untapped power of
the consumer pocketbook should be used. When their CEO
says this is a modest event, the company
should not get any more money from already very strapped
Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri is an environmental writer and the author of the highly acclaimed book, The Uterine Crisis. The Ecologist notes: this book is an inspiration.
1. Gulf of Mexico oil volcano gushes 3.4 million gallons of oil a day. The Real Agenda, accessed 31 May 2010,
2. New giant oil plume discovered in Gulf,
Video. Lynne Hermann, GlobalResearch.ca, 28 May 2010,
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&id=19409; This plume has also been found by another investigative team led by Professor James H. Cowan Jr., Louisiana State University: Third oil leak in Gulf, Fellowship of Minds, 29 May, 2010, http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.
3. Gulf oil spill: real disaster might be
lurking beneath the surface, Mark Sappenfeld,
The Christian Science Monitor, 16 May 2010: www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0516/Gulf-oil-
4. Lendman S. Falsified oil rig inspection & other
improprieties. US Inspector General Report, rense.com,
27 May 2010, www.rense.com/general91/fasl.htm
8. Oil reaches Louisiana shore, The Big Picture, 24 May 2010,
9. Perlingieri IS. Worldwide environmental crisis. gone missing: The Precautionary Principle. GlobalResearch.ca, 11 Feb. 2009, www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&id=12268
10. Twenty-four miles of Plaqeumines Parish is destroyed. everything is dead, Billy Nungesser, 21 May 2010, www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxRWqpc77Ms&feature=player_embedded
11. BP refuses EPA order to switch to less-toxic oil dispersant, Margot Roosevelt and Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times, 23 May 2010, www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oil-spill-20100523%2C0%2C907236.story
12. Ian Urbina. Conflict of interest worries
raised in spill rests, Ian Urbina, New York
Times, 20 May 2010,
www.nytimes.com/2010/05/21/science/earth/21conflict.html; See also Stephen Lendman. BP and the Administration Lies, Deceit, and Cover up in the Gulf. 22 May 2010: www.rense.com/general90/bpp.htm
13. Its raining oil in Florida, Eve. Fourwinds10.com,
14. Philippe Cousteau Jr. and Sam Champion take
hazmat dive into Gulfs oily waters.flv
You Tube, 25 May 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6Wp4ZkEpO4
16. The Unified Atmospheric Preservation Act, Revised
March 4, 2010, http://anticorruptionsociety.files.wordpress.
17. energy expert: nuking oil leak
only thing we can do, Daniel Tancer,
the raw story, 29 May 2010, http://
18. Central Ohio scientist wants to help Gulf
oil spill, ONNtv.com, 17 May 2010, www.10tv.com/live/content/
John Wilson's campaign to ensure Jury Trials are available at all times to citizens on Trial has been highlighted in previous issues of The Handstand. Here is his final speech during his own Trial : http://www.rightsandwrong.com.au/index.html
HONOUR: Thank you Mr Crown. Mr Wilson well take the
morning adjournment at 11.30 but youve got quite a
bit of time until then. Im not stopping you at 11.30,
Im just inviting you to start your address now.
ACCUSED: I hope not to take very long its a very simple procedure.
HIS HONOUR: Yes certainly. Mr Wilson if you want to, use the lectern up that end and just move as much of your gear as you need to address up to that end, just so youre closer to the jury.
ACCUSED: Yeah Id like to be.
HIS HONOUR: Thats how its usually done.
ACCUSED: Ive got an awful lot of stuff here just hold on.
HIS HONOUR: If there is anything youve forgotten during your address youre perfectly welcome to go back and get it.
ACCUSED: Gday. You are my judges and you are to judge if I have done
wrong. The word guilty means I have done wrong, the indictment has got three
supposed offences and each offence has got two components, the actual doing
of it and the guilty mind and you cannot find me guilty unless you decide my
intentions were evil and to do wrong.
So there are two principal elements to this, well actually the fundamental one is
who owns 331 North Rocks Road and have I been lawfully dispossessed. Now
the unfortunate thing is that you have not been allowed to investigate the law or
to find out about the law and so our most important law that we have in our
country is English common law because thats where we get all our values, all
our rights and the most fundamental right we have was actually guaranteed in
Magna Carta and Magna Carta very definitely says, that no free man shall be
taken indeed imprisoned or exiled or outlawed or dispossessed or destroyed in
any way nor will we pass over him, nor will we send over him unless by the lawful
judgment of his equals, which is the law of the land and upon that basis any
dispossession procedures can only be done by trial by jury, it cannot be done
summarily and yet our rights to what is our birthright has been eroded gradually
over many years and so I hope Ive got across to you that its the same with
every foreclosure, absolutely every single foreclosure that has happened in this
country where people are being thrown out of their homes, they are being
dispossessed of their homes not lawfully not by our laws not by English common
The way you undermine English common law is by brining in statute laws
through the parliaments and if any of those statute laws are against common
right then common law judges those to be void. It might sound a poetic way of
saying it but that is our essential element in our free society where were are free
men, we are sovereign human beings and we all have inalienable rights,
inalienable meaning they cannot be taken away, we cannot even give them away
and the most fundamental right is to be judged by our equals, which is a jury and
a jury are the only people who have jurisdiction in a court. The only way that any
proceedings can go ahead summarily without a jury is by the consent from both
parties to be without a jury.
Ive been fighting in the courts for fourteen years, it started off as a very, very
simple case in which I just put forward the fact that variable interest rates are
uncertain terms of contract, and therefore that is a bad part of a contract. And all
I wanted to do, I wanted to, I wanted to keep the contract in place, I said okay,
what we want to do is sever the bad part from the contract to keep it viable. That
unleashed a whole can of worms like you wouldnt believe, because instead of
there being a five minute court case based upon the truth of one word, it became
entangled in so much lies and corruption and sheer treason, because when we
are denied our right to trial by jury, then it is treason. Because trial by jury is
democracy, this is where you rule, you are the people, you are in the hot seat,
you decide whether to punish people for doing wrong, or reward them for doing
right. Even in the coronation oath, it says quite clearly that evil doers should be
punished and people who do well should be rewarded.
That was a very simple case, and based upon that fact, well those two facts that
number one, we can only be dispossessed by our equals, by a jury, and then
coming back to the very truth of one word, which is variable, and I hope Ive got
across to you that our law is called common law, which is the law of the people,
by the people, for the people, which is superior to any statute law, and this is why
the juries nullify bad laws. When a bad law is presented to a jury, and they say
yes thats not right, thats against common right, no were not going to take any
notice of it, they nullify it. So the way the banks and the judges have got around
that is by nullifying juries, they have nullified the juries. They have now brought
in that no, you dont have the right to trial by jury, all these offences and so forth
will be tried summarily, and that is so incredibly contrary to what is right and fair
and just in our society.
People have been fighting wars for the right to trial by jury. The Declaration of
Independence in America, if you read that, it says very, very clearly that one of
the main grounds for the War of Independence was the fact that they were
denied trial by jury. But youre not supposed to know that, youre supposed to be
locked away, isolated from any research, finding out for yourself our history, our
birth rights. And coming to the Declaration of Independence where Thomas
Jefferson said that, you know, these are the grounds for the War of
Independence. He also went on to become the third president of the United
States and one of his classic comments was that I believe trial by jury to be the
only anchor that can hold a government to the principles of its constitution. That
still applies now. When a government loses track and takes away our rights,
fundamental rights, to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, then
thats when the jury come in. The jury is the defenders of our liberties. But once
you nullify the juries, then youve got tyranny. Thomas Jefferson also said that
when the people fear the government, you have tyranny, and when the
government fear the people, you have liberty. Hes a wonderful man, he came
up with so many wise things and there are so many axioms that defend our
rights, and when they bring in these supposed laws and say This will be tried
summarily, and they do it all the time. They put people in prison time and time
and time again with not even allowing them to know about their right to trial by
jury. I would say everyone in prison in Australia is imprisoned unlawfully,
absolute unlawfully, because theyve never been given the opportunity to have
trial by jury, okay, and I could say if you dont want trial by jury, you sign a
memorandum of consent saying No I dont want a jury, and thats got to come
from both sides, okay. And even if they do get a jury, the jury are so hamstrung
that the jury is just a puppet in the hands of the judge. The Magna Carta also
says that unless by the lawful judgment of the jury.
Now, the jury not only decide if theyve done right or wrong, but they also impose
the penalty, the sentence, but they said No, no, the judges do the sentencing,
not the way our laws, not without the consent of both parties. These are such
fundamental issues of two things, common law regarding what is a contract, and
Id say variable renders a contract void and uncertainly, so there is no contract,
okay. And then the other thing is the right to trial by jury.
Trial by jury is actually a Christian institution because if you read in Matthew, Im
not a big Bible basher, but where you want our laws, our laws are based upon
the Bible, its always been that way. Our laws come from England and you read
the ancient charters and it all starts off with a reference to God, and all that sort
of stuff. Thats where our values come from, so it says in Matthew that if youd
got a dispute with a neighbour, you go and talk to them man to man. If you could
just settle it, fair enough, youve gained a friend, but if theres no settlement, then
you take it to, the correct word is ecclesia, thats the original Greek word in the
Bible. Ecclesia has got basically the meaning of an assembly, it also means
church. So when you have a dispute which you cant settle man to man, you
take it to an assembly, okay, where the jurors swear an oath, because thats
what jury means, jurors is the Latin word for right, oath, law, you are an assembly
of law. Thats why I started off by saying, I quoted Paul Newmans famous
address to the jury, he said you are the law, because you are an assembly of
law, you are sui juris, you are your own masters, you are free men, you are
sovereign human beings, and then you assemble. And the oath is you ask God
for help, says So help me God.
I asked JPs, lawyers, whatever the - what does this mean So help me God and
they look at you like that, it means so help me God. Because it goes on to say in
Matthew that when two or more are gathered in his name, he is amongst them,
so thats what the importance of a jury. This is the way we got our Christian
values of whats right and whats wrong, to defend our families, ourselves, our
future generations, you know. This is why, this is the most important jury trial in
Australias history because gradually over time, any understanding that people
had of their values has been eroded. You are being kept in the dark, youre not
being told, youre not being told history. Youre not being told basic laws.
Perhaps one of the Bible elements of my case is my website, because my
website not only talks about the law and ..(not transcribable).. down the law for
you to read, but it also shows my intention. When I started off the trial, I said I
could be a fat cat, I was quite a while a dentist and so forth, but thats not why
were here, were here to help each other.
Anything I can do, Ill continue to do it. So getting back to the actual indictment,
the first indictment says that, it claims that 331 North Rocks Road is the dwelling
house of Kamal Issa. That is absurd because he has never been granted lawful
possession of the property, no, because we have this fundamental law which
says No free man shall be dispossessed unless by the lawful judgment of his
equals, boom, boom. And yet they do it time and time - all these dispossessions
and foreclosures where the sheriffs come along and throw the family out of the
house, its all wrong because its not lawful, its not legal. But the media are not
going to tell you anything. In fact theres a fellow called - a name which escapes
me, but basically this American Tom Duderhausen(?) or something like that, he
said that there are four boxes for the liberty. He said the first one is a soap box,
the second one is the ballot box, the third ones a jury box, the fourth ones the
ammo box, and he said theyve got to be used in that order. The soap box is
pretty, pretty useless because thats having marches and having meetings and
media and so forth, but theyre a waste of time, because fundamentally theres
no media coverage of this trial, which is such an important trial, because the
media do not intend people to know.
So forget the first box. The second box is the ballot box where you say okay,
well elect representatives, go into Parliament to parley, to talk and draw up
statute laws for our protection and so forth, and so you can forget that, because
what is the result, the Parliaments have been producing these laws that take
away our rights, an overall common law, a contract law and a right to trial by jury,
they are bad laws.
Then the third box comes in, the jury. The jury is there because that is the
people, that is trial by the country, that is the glory of English common law.
Theres so much written praising the value of trial by jury in the protection of our
community, of our values, our property, et cetera.
So this is where the jury comes in, to nullify those bad laws. And you might have
seen a little photograph but I had a big sign saying Juries nullify bad laws and I
come back to the same point, the way you get around that is by nullifying the
juries and thats whats happened now.
Ive been stopped before but before the Consumer Credit Act came in, which was
totally against the common law of having certainty of terms, okay, the existing
law before that which was repealed was the Moneylenders and Infants Loans Act
which said that The contract shall show, going right down to a date of making
loan, the amount of principal and then the total amount of interest to be paid,
thats conclusive and thats it. And then the Consumer Credit Act came along
and said No, were wiping all that. Were going to say were going to have a
variation of the terms of the contract and they get away with it because people
are kept in the dark. Youre not told about it. Youre not told about common law,
they just bulldoze ahead.
In fact, that then becomes a license to steal because when you have a document
purporting to be a contract which is not a contract because it doesnt satisfy the
essential elements that make up a contract that is fraud and when you obtain
money by fraud that is stealing coming back again to the Bible, commandment
number 8, Thou shalt not steal and yet here is a license to steal right in acts of
Parliament. And this is what the jurys supposed to come along and say No,
thats wrong, we nullify that, but its not being allowed to happen and this is
what the situation is were in at the moment.
So the first case I have in the Supreme Court was with..(not transcribable)..and
this first judge, he was called Master Greenwood, youll find all these transcripts
and judgments on my website. Thats why I put it there, so people can read it
and say If this blokes a whole lot of guff, you know, well find out for sure. But
the whole reason for my website is to teach people, and again Thomas Jefferson
said if people dont know how to govern themselves then educate them and
thats what weve got to do, weve got to educate each other. Weve got to learn
the lessons of history, otherwise--
This chap, Master Greenwood, he had it all laid out. We went through a sham
thing. I didnt know what summarily meant, I just thought summarily meant
something thats going to be over and done with quickly, you know, and only
when I realised that Hey, the truth is not being upheld here this fellow has
turned around and said No, the rate is indeed certain and I thought blow me
down, the word is variable and then I went right through to the High Court and
thats why these volumes are so - Ive got two rooms full of material. If I go into a
project I want to be sure of the facts and the truth before I continue it. I dont
want to be shot down.
So this is why Ive maintained that this continual hammering going into the court,
going into it. When the policeman says Well take you to court I said Beauty,
thats where I want to be because thats where we fight for our rights. They say
Ha, ha, ha, you wont get a jury anyway and thats the way it is. But weve got
to get back our right to trial by jury and on my website - sorry, the only thing I
worry about is that Im not doing enough to get the story across, you know. It
would be nice to have an eloquent speaker, you know, who Ive come across a
few people who are absolutely wonderful. You could sit and listen to them for
hours, you know, because theyve got the charisma and theyve got presentation.
That would be nice, but you know, as John Wayne says A mans got to do what
a mans got to do.
Anyway, so this is why my website has got a whole feature on Magna Carta and
in particular on the Magna Carta Monument down in Canberra, and as Ive said
before everyones got to go there, every schoolkids got to go there, got to realise
the importance of our heritage of protecting ourselves against thieves and
traitors. Im fairly colourful in my expression and I remember one little essay I put
in when I was at high school and I just thought This teachers putting in an essay
on the atomic bomb and I said Ill go to town on this and I wrote such a
colourful thing, you know, he thought it was great.
But, like, say, to get the message across youve got to be assertive and youve
got to draw attention to it and this is what Ive tried to do on the website, draw
attention to our freedoms, our laws, as opposed to those who would destroy us
and enslave us, thats the operative - this is why the Magna Carta says No free
man because we are free men. The opposite of being free men is being slaves,
being told No, you will not look at the law. No, you will not do this, you know,
and if you accept that and say Yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir you are not a
free man, you havent got your own will.
So the whole issue - Ive done that one, Ive done that one. Thou shalt not steal,
Ive done that one, okay, and Ill just finish it off by saying that our fundamental
laws are based upon four ancient charters, theyre only ancient because they
were done by good men years and years ago. The first one was Magna Carta,
the second one is Petition of Rights(as said). Now the reason the Petition of
Rights was brought in was because they were having court cases in England
where the right to trial by jury was being ignored and disregarded and so forth
and an essential part of the Petition of Right is to say that any awards, doings or
proceedings contrary to the points of the charter shall not be drawn into
consequence or example, so in other words its said quite clearly that when you
have a court case where trial by jury is ignored then any judgments, any awards,
any proceedings in those cases are illegal and void, they are not to be taken any
notice of, no consequence or example.
The third one is habeas corpus, this again stresses the importance that no free
man shall be dispossessed by, blah, blah, blah, and it actually imposes penalties
on any judges and awards those damages to the aggrieved because by having
the Star Chamber the judges were just taking over the whole, they were even
imprisoning the lawyers who stood up for the rights of the clients, thats how
draconian it was. And this habeas corpus said This is absolutely intolerable.
We cannot allow it.
Then the fourth pillar of our English common law is called the Bill of Rights, 1688.
But you listen to any politician, any lawyer and theyll say oh Australian hasnt got
a Bill of Rights. That is a dead set lie, absolute dead set lie because we have
inherited these fundamentals of English common law and in fact its already
stated, Ill get the book and when I show this to lawyers they clam up they say -
this is called the Imperial Acts Application Act boom, boom and it says that
constitutional enactments in Australia are, here it is - Magna Carta - it goes on,
statute and monopolies, petition of right Habeas Corpus, Bill of Rights, Act of
Settlement, Treason Act and yet they say, Oh no we havent got a Bill of Rights.
All youve got to do is wave that under their noses because we do have a Bill of
Rights and its all based upon this fundamental issue that no free man should be
taken or imprisoned or exiled or outlawed or dispossessed or destroyed in any
The issue of me being a registered dentist came up and I said, Yes my
livelihood has been destroyed, but not by the lawful judgment of a jury and
Magna Carta protects that and if you read the old English words it talks about
tools of trade and all this sort of stuff because our livelihood is protected but as
far as the banks and judges are concerned, no, no were just going to wipe you
out if you raise any resistant to us were going to bulldoze you, were going to
destroy you, were going to take your property. No trial by jury were going to
destroy your livelihood, no trial by jury.
Again going back to the Magna Carta Monument, one simple little paragraph on
the Magna Carta Monument says, Magna Carta is now seen as a traditional
mandate for trial by jury, justice for all, accountable government and no arbitrary
imprisonment but even in the course of these proceedings when I was brutalised
and so forth on 16 July you heard the soundtrack, I was just put in gaol, no trial
by jury, six weeks boom, boom. Its just on the whim of a magistrate and so
many people have been imprisoned left, right and centre, theyre being arrested
and when you say to the police, you say, Have you got a warrant for that arrest
Oh we dont need a warrant were the police youre the police state and they
bring in these laws called the Uniform Civil Procedures Rules and so forth which
take away your rights and they say, Oh no thats the law youve got to abide by
that, youve got no say in the matter it just goes on and on and on that we are
just being wiped out and this is actually a war that is going that people dont know
is going on because theyre being dumbed down, youre not allowed to know.
Getting back to the indictment, Im sorry its a bit messy. Here we go, number
one of the indictment is all founded upon an assertion that 331 North Rocks
Road is the dwelling house Kamal Issa. Well it only becomes someones
dwelling house is they lawfully secure possession and that has not been done.
The second one goes on to talk about with intention to cause the said
Andrew Scipione into fear. Now I put in a subpoena for Andrew Scipione to
come and answer questions but the whole thing falls flat because that subpoena
was overturned, they said no, no you cant bring Andrew Scipione in to verify
make true this actual charge. So the whole thing falls flat and then youve got to
work out, judge my intentions on every single thing thats happened.
Thats what its all about, youve got to determine my mental attitude and my
intentions and I hope Ive got it across to you that when I said I was going to burn
down my property, now why was that said, what was the motivation. Was I really
going to burn down the property, if I was going to burn down the property why
would I tell everybody its just nonsense. Why would I send an email to literally
thousands of people around the world, literally thousands of people including the
Attorney General, the home secretary, members of parliaments, the sheriffs,
absolutely everyone and even the email which has been put in evidence which
went to Ryan Ratcliff you know that was a copy and paste of an email it starts off,
Dear Freedom Fellow Fighters it doesnt start off with, Dear Ryan Ratcliff no
so, thats the whole idea, this is the campaign Ive been trying to get before a
jury. Even now theyve got me on other cases, theres not going to be any trial
by jury they say, You wont get a trial by jury in that and I said you know they
want to declare me an outlaw. I know you dont like me referring to it but thats
the situation, they have us tried before we are found guilty of anything
We are being punished without the lawful judgment of our equals, without any
consideration of law and justice and mercy it doesnt come into it, its a police
state and then so - this is why this is an important case, weve got to put our feet
down because Im talking to my equals, Magna Carta says lawful judgment of
your equals. I am a free man, I am a sovereign human being, you are free men
and free women you are sovereign human beings you know to put it dramatically,
the fate of Australia is in your hands. If you decide, yes were just going to find
him guilty, so youre handing our country over to the banks and judges its as
simple as that and going back again to Thomas Jefferson one of his - another
famous quotes is,
The germ of the destruction of our nation lays in the power of the
judiciary an irresponsible body working by day and by night, advancing
their noiseless step across the field of jurisdiction like a thief.
He nailed it and he said, Theres more danger to our country from the banks
than there is from any armies. Youve got to look at these things, youve got to
learn and if you dont learn, youve got no foundation to give any assessment on
anything. It doesnt matter if youre planting roses in your garden you know
youve got to know how to do it and so when youre on a jury, youve got to know
how to do jury work.
The third charge is virtually a repeat of the second charge, the same essence.
So in the second charge it nominates Andrew Scipione but they wont allow
Andrew Scipione to come to court and answer questions. I cant face
Andrew Scipione and in the other part is so waffly that its just - I dont know how
they can even come up with it, a description like it. In any way that reasonable
persons would regard as menacing, harassing or offensive. Well what do you
think, can I talk the reasonable - the reasonable person in the witness there,
bring forth the reasonable persons and I can ask them if they consider that to
menacing, harassing and offensive. Where are they, its just a total fabrication.
This is just another page, front page of my website and so the Magna Carta, so
thats what I want you people to do, Ive put the disc of my website in intending
for the jury to research and have a look at it, you know, but youre not allowed to
do that. As far as going back to what is a contract I hope I have dispelled any
thought that this in any way could constitute a contract. It is so farcical, it is
against common law, it doesnt even resemble a contract in form. Now when you
sign a contract you ought to sign every page. Okay, it doesnt happen, so this is
a total - and then as far as any registering of titles and so forth, that can only be
done if there has been a transfer of possession and there has not been. They
just bulldoze ahead. They say, Oh no, we had this procedure in the court, no trial
by jury, but a judge has just struck out my defence, wont allow me to talk and
you know, the definition of a kangaroo court is a court that acts unfairly or
dishonestly or disregards legal rights or disregards legal procedures.
So the legal rights are quite a simple thing, you know, denial of trial by jury. But
then when you challenge the jurisdiction of the court that is a legal procedure.
That is a dead set legal procedure and it mandates that as soon as you
challenge the jurisdiction of the court there is peremptory mandatory absolute
immediate stay of proceedings until the jurisdiction of the court is determined by
a special jury. But they disregard that. On every element of every case that Ive
been in for the last 14 years has been a total sham, denial of our rights and the
result is that its just not me suffering, its everyone suffering. Its your
neighbours, your children. And they have been evicted from our homes
unlawfully. So this is why this case is so important. So either we stand up for
our rights or we dont have any. I think the popular expression is if you dont
exercise your rights you havent got any and what were supposed to have is our
sheriffs protecting us. Theyve got no intention of protecting us. I just asked Mr
Flexman and I said, you know, isnt your duty, your written duty to ensure that
people exercise their rights in court in safety. Mute about that. I said, when your
rights to trial by jury is denied isnt your responsibility or your duty to go and
arrest that judge or magistrate. Oh no, weve got to do what were told by the
judge or magistrate.
It just cuts the ground from under our justice system. Its fallen in a heap
because it does not go back to what is our basics of Magna Carta. The fact that
we cannot be imprisoned, we cannot be destroyed, we cannot be dispossessed
unless by a jury. But theyve made these statute laws, which is were going to
wipe out trial by jury, were going to nullify juries. By nullifying juries, juries cant
nullify our bad laws. Its as simple as that. Its a simple tactic of war and thats
what were in, were in a war.
Ill see if theres anything else. Going back to the - before I actually got in time
into internet with the website this is how I got my little message across. I put that
in but I didnt get anywhere. So, going back to the indictment. Youve got to find
me guilty or not guilty. Guilty means I have done wrong. In your assessment of
the facts and the law that I have done wrong. Thank you.
HIS HONOUR: Thank you Mr Wilson. Well take the morning adjournment now
ladies and gentlemen and after that I shall sum-up. You might go with the officer.
FOR SUMMING-UP SEE SEPARATE
UPDATE:27th June 2010:
Thanks for the email....and, yes, the Judge's Summing Up to the Jury transcript is being withheld along with the transcripts for the last two days. Here is what my local MP has managed to achieve in chasing them, which came from Luke_Beck@agd.nsw.gov.au :
Dear Electorate Office
I write to further to our telephone conversation this morning.
The Attorney General has received representations from Mr Merton MP on behalf of Mr John Wilson regarding his request for transcript of proceedings in R v John Wilson in the District Court.
The Attorney's office has asked the Department to advise Mr Wilson directly of the status of his request. The Department can advise that Mr Wilson's request is currently being processed and the requested transcripts should be provided to his email address as request on or about 8 July 2010.
Given that the Department does not have contact details for Mr Wilson, it would be appreciated if someone from your office could telephone Mr Wilson to pass on this advice.
The Attorney will provide a formal written reply to Mr Merton MP in due course.
Community Relations Officer
Department of Justice and Attorney General
(02) 8688 6652