Fossils From Animals And Plants Are Not Necessary For Crude Oil And Natural Gas, Swedish Researchers Find

Fossils From Animals And Plants Are Not Necessary

For Crude Oil And Natural Gas, Swedish Researchers Find

What would happen if it were proven that “fossil fuels” weren’t the result of decaying plant and animal matter, were actually created within the Earth due to simple chemistry and you could not be scared into believing that we were “running out” of oil and natural gas?

Estimates of how much crude oil we have extracted from the planet vary wildly. As late as May of 2009 a report published in the International Journal of Oil, Gas and Coal Technology suggested that we may have used more than we think.

The idea that we are running out of oil is not a new one. Scientists have told us that oil is a limited resource which was formed millions of years ago by the decaying vegetation and biomass of extinct species of plants and animals. With an estimated 1- trillion barrels of oil already extracted from deep wells since commercial drilling began around 1870, many predict that we are nearing the mid-point of remaining oil on the planet.

But there have always been those who claim that oil is a natural substance that forms automatically in the Earth’s mantle. They say that it is virtually everywhere, if you can drill deep enough to tap it.

Proponents of so-called “abiotic oil” claim that the proof is found in the fact that many capped wells, which were formerly dry of oil, are found to be plentiful again after many years, They claim that the replenished oil is manufactured by natural forces in the Earth’s mantle.

Critics of the abiotic theory disagree. They claim that capped wells may appear to refill after a few years, but they are not regenerating. It is simply an effect of oil slowly migrating through pore spaces from areas of high pressure to the low-pressure area of the drill hole. If this oil is drawn out, it will take even longer for the hole to refill again. They hold that oil is a non-renewable resource generated and deposited under special biological and geological conditions.

Until now these believers in “abiotic oil” have been dismissed as professing “bad science” but — alas — a new study has proven them correct!

Reported in ScienceDaily, researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm have managed to prove that fossils from animals and plants are not necessary for crude oil and natural gas to be generated. The findings are revolutionary since this means, on the one hand, that it will be much easier to find these sources of energy and, on the other hand, that they can be found all over the globe.

“Using our research we can even say where oil could be found in Sweden,” says Vladimir Kutcherov, a professor at the Division of Energy Technology at KTH.

Together with two research colleagues, Vladimir Kutcherov has simulated the process involving pressure and heat that occurs naturally in the inner layers of the earth, the process that generates hydrocarbon, the primary component in oil and natural gas.

According to Vladimir Kutcherov, the findings are a clear indication that the oil supply is not about to end, which researchers and experts in the field have long feared.

Abiotic OilThe abiotic oil formation theory suggests that crude oil is the result of naturally occurring and possibly ongoing geological processes. This theory was developed in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, as the Union needed to be self sufficient in terms of producing its own energy. The science behind the theory is sound and is based on experimental evidence in both the laboratory and in the field. This theory has helped to identify and therefore develop large numbers of gas and oil deposits. Examples of such fields are the South Khylchuyu field and the controversial Sakhalin II field.

In its simplest form, the theory is that carbon present in the magma beneath the crust reacts with hydrogen to form methane as well as a raft of other mainly alkane hydrocarbons. The reactions are more complicated than this, with several intermediate stages. Particular mineral rocks such as granite and other silicon based rocks act as catalysts, which speed up the reaction without actually becoming involved or consumed in the process.

Experiments have shown that under extreme conditions of heat and pressure it is possible to convert iron oxide, calcium carbonate and water into methane, with hydrocarbons containing up to 10 carbon atoms being produced by Russian scientists last century and confirmed in recent US experiments. The absence of large quantities of free gaseous oxygen in the magma prevents the hydrocarbons from burning and therefore forming the lower energy state molecule carbon dioxide. The conditions present in the Earth’s mantle would easily be sufficient for these small hydrocarbon chains to polymerise into the longer chain molecules found in crude oil.

Vladimir Kutcherov adds that there is no way that fossil oil, with the help of gravity or other forces, could have seeped down to a depth of 10.5 kilometers in the state of Texas, for example, which is rich in oil deposits. As Vladimir Kutcherov sees it, this is further proof, alongside his own research findings, of the genesis of these energy sources — that they can be created in other ways than via fossils. This has long been a matter of lively discussion among scientists.

“There is no doubt that our research proves that crude oil and natural gas are generated without the involvement of fossils. All types of bedrock can serve as reservoirs of oil,” says Vladimir Kutcherov, who adds that this is true of land areas that have not yet been prospected for these energy sources.

But the discovery has more benefits. The degree of accuracy in finding oil is enhanced dramatically — from 20 to 70 percent. Since drilling for oil and natural gas is a very expensive process, the cost picture will be radically altered for petroleum companies, and in the end probably for consumers as well.

“The savings will be in the many billions,” says Vladimir Kutcherov.

To identify where it is worthwhile to drill for natural gas and oil, Vladimir Kutcherov has used his research to arrive at a new method. It involves dividing the globe into a finely meshed grid. The grid corresponds to fissures, so-called ‘migration channels,’ through underlying layers under the surface of the earth. Wherever these fissures meet, it is suitable to drill.

According to Vladimir Kutcherov, these research findings are extremely important, not least as 61 percent of the world’s energy consumption derives from crude oil and natural gas.

The next step in this research work will involve more experiments, but above all refining the method will make it easier to find places where it is suitable to drill for oil and natural gas.

Vladimir Kutcherov, Anton Kolesnikov, and Alexander Goncharov’s research work was recently published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.

Methane-derived hydrocarbons produced under upper-mantle conditionsAnton Kolesnikov1,2, Vladimir G. Kutcherov2,3 & Alexander F. Goncharov1

Abstract

There is widespread evidence that petroleum originates from biological processes1, 2, 3. Whether hydrocarbons can also be produced from abiogenic precursor molecules under the high-pressure, high-temperature conditions characteristic of the upper mantle remains an open question. It has been proposed that hydrocarbons generated in the upper mantle could be transported through deep faults to shallower regions in the Earth’s crust, and contribute to petroleum reserves4, 5. Here we use in situ Raman spectroscopy in laser-heated diamond anvil cells to monitor the chemical reactivity of methane and ethane under upper-mantle conditions. We show that when methane is exposed to pressures higher than 2 GPa, and to temperatures in the range of 1,000-1,500 K, it partially reacts to form saturated hydrocarbons containing 2-4 carbons (ethane, propane and butane) and molecular hydrogen and graphite. Conversely, exposure of ethane to similar conditions results in the production of methane, suggesting that the synthesis of saturated hydrocarbons is reversible. Our results support the suggestion that hydrocarbons heavier than methane can be produced by abiogenic processes in the upper mantle.

1. Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, District of Columbia 20015, USA

2. Lomonosov Moscow State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology, 117571 Moscow, Russia

3. Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Syria again holds upper hand in Lebanon

Source: Reuters

Syria again holds upper hand in LebanonSource:

Slowly but surely, Syria has regained influence in Lebanon, but wields it more diplomatically than in the era before the slaying of Lebanese statesman Rafik al-Hariri five years ago led to a humiliating Syrian troop exit.

A Lebanese, Arab and Western outcry over the Sunni Muslim leader’s assassination on Feb 14, 2005 forced Syria to relax its grip on its weaker neighbour. But it kept powerful friends there, notably the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah movement.

Just as Syria has rebuilt its sway in Lebanon, with a green light from Hariri’s regional ally Saudi Arabia, it has recovered its standing abroad, shrugging off Western efforts to isolate it and developing strong new ties with Turkey, a former enemy.

Even the United States, which had led efforts to ostracise Syria, is about to send an ambassador to Damascus for the first time since withdrawing its envoy after Hariri’s death.

Yet the days when a Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon gave peremptory orders to local politicians are over for now.

“There was not even the pretence of diplomacy and dignity,” recalled Karim Makdisi, who teaches international relations at the American University of Beirut, referring to Syrian behaviour in the years after Lebanon’s 15-year civil war ended in 1990.

“It’s not so much that Lebanon is now a sovereign country,” he said, but a more normal relationship had been restored.

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Symbols of this change abound.

Syria and Lebanon have opened embassies in each other’s capitals for the first time – Damascus had been ambivalent about Lebanon’s independence since the 1940s.

Even more striking was a visit to Damascus in December by Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who had previously said Syria was behind his father’s assassination and several later killings of Lebanese foes of Syrian influence. Despite the bad blood, his talks with President Bashar al-Assad were apparently cordial.

The younger Hariri became prime minister after his Western- and Saudi-backed coalition narrowly won a June election against Hezbollah and other Syrian allies. But he heads a national unity government in which the minority enjoys significant power.

Shifting ground

Lebanese politicians who had hoped the United States, France and Saudi Arabia would block any Syrian interference after the last Syrian troops left in April 2005 have trimmed their sails.

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, once one of Syria’s fieriest critics, left the Hariri-led coalition last year to take a more centrist stance – and is expected to visit Damascus soon.

For Marwan Hamadeh, a Jumblatt aide who survived an attempt on his life in October 2004, the new relationship with Syria stops short of genuine reconciliation and cannot obstruct an international tribunal formed to prosecute Hariri’s killers.

“I wouldn’t say the Syrians are back,” he said. “In political and intelligence terms they never left.

Syria’s overt hegemony has faded, but finds a subtler form via the veto power its allies hold in the Beirut cabinet.

That effective veto was enshrined in a Lebanese political deal struck in Qatar after pro-Hezbollah fighters briefly seized much of Beirut in May 2008 in a decisive show of force.

Saudi Arabia then buried its quarrel with Syria, hoping to stabilise Lebanon, calm regional Sunni-Shi’ite tensions, restore a semblance of Arab harmony and loosen Syria’s bonds with Iran.

Most Lebanese politicians now clear their lines with Syria.

President Michel Suleiman, a former army commander, holds a weekly call with Assad. Hariri has spoken by telephone to the Syrian leader several times since his trip to Damascus.

Syrian-Saudi tune

“Once the Syrians and Saudis got together, local politicians would always have to dance to their music,” said Makdisi.

Anti-Syrian politicians had to compromise because they had realised that Lebanon was “not the centre of the universe” and Western leaders would not come to their rescue, he added.

Syria sees its influence in Lebanon as a trump card in any negotiations with the West and Israel, Hamadeh said.

The West still wanted to keep Lebanon from coming under Syria’s thumb again. “But everything in this world is now relative, especially independence and sovereignty,” he shrugged.

The Syrians may seek to avoid the high-handedness of the past – even Assad acknowledged last year in an interview with Beirut’s as-Safir newspaper that “mistakes” had been made.

But progress could be slow on measures that Hariri sees as vital to reinforce a normal state-to-state relationship.

These include demarcation of the Syrian-Lebanese border, removal of Palestinian guerrilla bases that straddle it, reform of bilateral treaties and information about missing Lebanese said to have fallen foul of the Syrians during the civil war.

Hariri no longer publicly accuses Syria of orchestrating the huge seafront bomb blast that killed his father and 22 others, saying he will await the outcome of the UN-backed tribunal.

Investigators initially implicated Syrian and Lebanese security officials, but the tribunal has yet to indict any suspects and critics say it appears to have lost momentum.

Lebanese commentator Michael Young said the United States and France, both hostile to Syria at the time, had spearheaded efforts to set up the tribunal, but now had other priorities.

“Today there is no critical mass to see the tribunal accuse Syria or anybody else. For many in the international community, the tribunal is more a headache than anything else,” he argued.

Makdisi, the academic, said the tribunal had a life of its own, but might never uncover the truth behind Hariri’s killing.

Citing the multitude of unpunished killings committed during and after Lebanon’s civil war, he said: “You can most likely put this down as yet another unsolved murder.”

Lebanon backs Hezbollah against Israel

Lebanon backs Hezbollah against Israel

By ZEINA KARAM (AP)

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s prime minister voiced concern Wednesday about “escalating” Israeli war threats, and said his government will support the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah if a new war breaks out with the Jewish state.

Saad Hariri’s comments come amid heightened tensions in the Middle East following some of the sharpest exchanges in years between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

It also comes in the context of improved relations between Hariri’s Western-backed coalition and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah since the two sides were forced to coexist in a fragile national unity government formed in November.

The cabinet includes two ministers from the militant group Hezbollah, which fought Israel to a standstill in a monthlong war in 2006 and clashed with supporters of Hariri in 2008.

“We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out,” Hariri said in an interview posted on the BBC’s Web site Wednesday. “Every day we have Israeli warplanes entering Lebanese airspace. This is something that is escalating, and this is something that is really dangerous.”

Hariri said Lebanon, which has a notoriously fractious political system, would unite if there is a fresh conflict with Israel.

“I think they’re (Israelis) betting that there might be some division in Lebanon, if there is a war against us,” Hariri said. “There won’t be a division in Lebanon. We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people.”

Israel’s foreign minister brushed aside the Lebanese leader’s warning.

“As prime minister, he’s simply a hostage of Hezbollah, which has veto power in his Cabinet,” Avigdor Lieberman told Israel’s Army Radio.

Hariri’s coalition narrowly defeated a Hezbollah-led coalition in parliamentary elections last year, enabling it to retain a slim majority in the 128-member legislature.

Hariri, however, was unable to form a government without Hezbollah and its allies, fearing a repeat of sectarian violence seen in 2008, when Hezbollah militants swept through Sunni neighborhoods of Beirut after the government moved to curb the group’s military communications network.

Hariri said Hezbollah would be included in the government whether Israel likes it or not. Like previous governments, Hariri’s government endorsed Hezbollah’s right to keep its weapons and has been loath to take any strong action against the group for fear of sparking a crisis.

Asked whether there might be a new war involving Lebanon and Syria, Lieberman said: “I very much hope not.”

“We have no interest in heating up the fronts with any of our neighbors. At the same time, we won’t be a punching bag. And we won’t shrug off vitriol that’s directed at Israel,” he said.

Lebanon’s president warned Israel Tuesday that a war against Lebanon will be “no picnic.”

Last week, Syria’s foreign minister accused Israel of “spreading an atmosphere of war” in the region after Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that the stalled peace process with Syria could result in an all-out regional war.

Walid al-Moallem warned Israelis that “a war at this time will be transferred to your cities.”

Lieberman said the Syrians “crossed a red line” and warned Syria its army would be defeated and its regime would collapse in a future conflict.

Associated Press writer Amy Teibel contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

Prime minister vows to stand with Hezbollah against Israel

Prime minister vows to stand with Hezbollah against Israel

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has vowed that his country would stand united with Hezbollah in the event of war with Israel.

Mr Hariri revealed that Israel was increasing its threats against Lebanon as well as neighbouring Syria and explained that “every day we have Israeli planes entering Lebanese airspace. This has increased over the past two months.”

“This is something that is escalating and something that is really dangerous,” he warned.

The prime minister leads a national unity government that includes two ministers from the Islamic group Hezbollah, famous for defeating the Israeli military assault on Lebanon in 2006.

Mr Hariri said: “We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out – Israel is betting that there might be some division in Lebanon if there is a war against us.

“Well, there won’t be a division in Lebanon. We will stand against Israel and we will stand with our own people,” he pledged.

Powder Keg in Central Asia Raises Concerns in West

[It seems that former CIA Director Casey's (under Reagan) plan to turn his "militarized Islam" against the Soviets in Central Asia is coming to fruition.  Using warlords like Gulbuddin Hekmatyer, Saudi Wahabbi religious outreach and the lowly poppy, the former Russian satellites centered around the fertile Ferghana Valley have been under seige.  This is unfolding just like the devious psyop that has played-out in Pakistan's volatile Khyber Agency.   Local firebrand Haji Namdar was taken to Saudi Arabia in his youth for intensive Wahabbi brainwashing, before being returned to start a sectarian war against local Berelvis and Shia.  The war he ignited still plagues the people of Khyber, Orakzia and Peshawar.   Saudi aid is portrayed as benevolent, when in fact, it is the most destabilizing part of the formula.  Saudi Arabia has built mosques all over the Central Asian hotbed, to fill the religious vacuum left by seventy years of Communist dictatorship.  It is in these religious institutions that stand isolated in a religious wasteland that today's "Islamists" received their indoctrination.   They have been filling the void with a slow working poison that is now doing its deadly job.]

Powder Keg in Central Asia Raises Concerns in West

Reuters

Muslims attending Friday prayers under a snowfall at the Central mosque in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Friday, Feb. 5.

Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

Muslims attending Friday prayers under a snowfall at the Central mosque in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Friday, Feb. 5.

Muslims praying in Almaty on Friday, Feb. 5. Gripped by deepening gloom about economic stagnation and poverty, the mainly Muslim but secular region has become increasingly susceptible to extremist ideas in past years.

Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

Muslims praying in Almaty on Friday, Feb. 5. Gripped by deepening gloom about economic stagnation and poverty, the mainly Muslim but secular region has become increasingly susceptible to extremist ideas in past years.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Central Asia is a ticking bomb waiting to go off. Long ignored as a myth whipped up by the authorities to justify political repression, a surge in radical Islam in the former Soviet region has become a reality for the West fighting an increasingly tough war in next-door Afghanistan.

Analysts say long-defunct groups like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are regaining force in the impoverished region, where ethnic tensions have long simmered under the surface.

“[Militants] are preparing the ground for a long, sustained military campaign in Central Asia,” said Ahmed Rashid, a leading Pakistan-based expert on Afghanistan and Central Asia. “There is now a real threat because the Islamist surge is combined with an economic and political crisis.”

A vast region wedged between China, Iran, Afghanistan and Russia, Central Asia found itself on the frontline of global affairs last year when it agreed to host a vital new supply route for NATO forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Gripped by deepening gloom about economic stagnation and poverty, the mainly Muslim but secular region has become increasingly susceptible to extremist ideas in past years.

Security analysts say militants, who had long left Central Asia to fight alongside the Taliban, are seeping back into the region to take advantage of its fragile state.

A growing sense of frustration with the lack of basic freedoms has given political undertones to the rise of Islamism in a region that still has no influential opposition parties — even after two decades of independence from Soviet rule.

The trend is particularly alarming because of recent parallels with the situation in Yemen, where growing instability has led to fears that it may become al-Qaida’s next hunting ground.

Acknowledging these risks, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has urged for more engagement with Central Asia.

“If Afghanistan becomes a safe haven for terrorists, they could easily spread through Central Asia to Russia,” he said last weekend. “Of course Afghanistan is not an island. There is no solution just within its borders.”

First alarm bells rang in Central Asia last year when Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz troops fought gangs they described as terrorist — around the time when the security situation in northern Afghanistan deteriorated sharply.

“It does not matter who exactly was behind those attacks. It still means instability, that something’s going on,” said one Western diplomat. “It is certainly something we are watching.”

Who are these militants and why are they coming back?

“The reason is that they have, first of all, done enough fighting for other people. They now want to fight for their own country,” said Rashid, the Central Asia analyst. “The real threat now is the fact that they are trying to infiltrate back into Central Asia. … They are trying to infiltrate weapons, ammunition and men back into Central Asia.”

The IMU is shrouded in secrecy and its size is unclear. Its goal is to topple Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who has tolerated no opposition during his two-decade rule.

Another target is Tajik leader Emomali Rakhmon, who led pro-Russian forces against Islamists in a civil war in the 1990s. In the West, both are accused of mass rights violations.

The Internet abounds with video clips, some as recent as this month, by groups such as the Islamic Jihad Union, believed to have been founded by breakaway IMU fighters. One Uzbek-language video, posted on YouTube, shows a desert training facility where dozens of children in black Taliban-style turbans, clutching AK-47s, learn how to shoot.

“Oh children of mujahedin! You are the future warriors of Allah!” the narrator says. Complete with Russian subtitles, it clearly targets the Russian-speaking audience of Central Asia.

Anything from the death of long-serving leaders to natural disasters can prompt fighters into action, analysts say.

“We should be looking at potential triggers,” Rashid said. “The death of Karimov or Rakhmon, or a power struggle in either of these countries, a major natural disaster, growing hunger or an economic collapse. These could prove the trigger for social unrest, which the IMU would take advantage of.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir is another group accused of terrorist activities in Central Asia. It says it has tens of thousands of members in the region but stresses that its methods are entirely peaceful.

“It is the Central Asian regimes that continue terrorizing their people,” said Taji Mustafa, the group’s representative in London. “Since the declaration of the West’s so-called war on terror, Central Asian governments have used it as a convenient umbrella to pursue, arrest and torture their political opponents.”

Central Asia watchers believe that homegrown fundamentalism has been on the rise for some years, spurred by the latest economic crisis, which has left millions of migrant workers without jobs.

Official data for the entire region are not available, but in Tajikistan, the poorest of the region’s countries, economic growth more than halved in 2009 to 3.4 percent from 7.9 percent in 2008.

In Kyrgyzstan, another potentially volatile country, economic growth fell to 2.3 percent last year, from 8.4 percent in 2008.

“The financial crisis and the return of labor migrants sparked predictions of unrest, intensifying the concern that radical Islamists had been making inroads into the labor diaspora,” the International Crisis Group said in a report. “Insecurity is growing, in part domestically generated, in part because of proximity to Afghanistan; infrastructure is collapsing, weak economies are slipping still further.”

“Conspiracy” Is the Only Word to Describe Conflating Israeli Fears of Iraq With 911

Blair attacks his critics’ tendency to ‘conspiracy theories’

Former Prime Minister takes swipe at Iraq Inquiry in TV interview with US Republican

By Nigel Morris, Deputy Political Editor

Tony Blair and Mike Huckabee: 'There's always got to be a scandal,' Mr Blair told his interviewer CHRIS OCKEN

Tony Blair and Mike Huckabee: ‘There’s always got to be a scandal,’ Mr Blair told his interviewer

Tony Blair took a swipe at the Iraq Inquiry last night, claiming that it was part of a British obsession with conspiracy, deceit and scandal.

He called for an end to speculation over his motives for taking the country to war in his first interview since his appearance before the inquiry last month.

Yesterday Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry’s chairman, ended the first phase of its investigation with a warning that some witnesses could be recalled where there were “gaps” in their evidence or official documents.

Mr Blair betrayed his frustration during a television interview in the United States. Mike Huckabee, a Republican who made a failed attempt to contest the presidency for his party in 2008, asked why there had been four “relentless” inquiries into the Iraq war.

The former Prime Minister smiled ruefully and replied: “I think it’s partly because we have this curious habit – I don’t think it’s confined to Britain actually – where people find it hard to come to the point where they say: ‘We disagree – you’re a reasonable person, I’m a reasonable person – but we disagree.’ There’s always got to be a scandal as to why you hold your view. There’s got to be some conspiracy behind it – some great deceit that’s gone on, and people just find it hard to understand that it’s possible for people to have different points of view and hold them reasonably for genuine reasons. So I think there’s continual desire to sort of uncover some great conspiracy when actually there’s a decision at the heart of it – but there it is.”

During his cross-examination at the Chilcot inquiry, Mr Blair defended his decision to back the invasion and denied that the intelligence used to support the war was manipulated. He also faced tough criticism for refusing to express regret for the conflict, in which 179 British soldiers died.

It is widely expected that Mr Blair will be among the witnesses who are summoned back before the inquiry. Yesterday, Sir John said his team was receiving new paperwork relating to the war all the time. He said: “Over the next few months we shall examine all the evidence we have received, including those documents.

“That will enable us to see where the evidence joins together and where there are gaps. Only then can we decide the further evidence we need, the issues and points which need to be clarified and the identity of the witnesses we may wish to question in the next round of public hearings in the summer.”

Making his second appearance before the inquiry, Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary, denied blocking detailed cabinet discussion on the Attorney General’s advice on the legality of military action.

He said: “The Cabinet were fully aware that the arguments were evenly balanced. It was impossible to open a newspaper without being fully aware of the balance of the arguments.”

He insisted he had no recollection of the claim by the then International Development Secretary, Clare Short, that she was “jeered” when she tried to question Lord Goldsmith’s opinion.

Mr Straw, who is now the Justice Secretary, said it was “simply untrue” to claim that the system of cabinet government had broken down under Mr Blair. He also defended his decision to overrule the advice of the senior Foreign Office legal adviser, Sir Michael Wood, that the use of force would be illegal without a specific mandate from the United Nations.

French Government Queries US on 50s Secret LSD Experiment

French Government Queries US re

50s Secret LSD Experiment

By F. William Engdahl

Author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian
Democracy in the New World Order

A major diplomatic and political scandal is erupting that could have significant import for French-American relations. It involves new research into the mysterious outbreak of “mass insanity” in a village in southern France that affected some 500 people and resulted in five deaths.
According to reliable US sources, the US State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research has been given a confidential inquiry from the office of Erard Corbin de Mangoux, head of the French intelligence agency DSGE (Directorate General for External Security). According to the report the inquiry regards a recently-published account of U.S. government complicity in a mysterious 1951 incident of mass insanity in France in the village of Pont-Saint-Esprit in southern France.
The strange outbreak severely affected nearly five hundred people, causing the deaths of at least five, two by suicide. For nearly 60 years the Pont-St.-Esprit incident has been attributed either to ergot poisoning, meaning that villagers consumed bread infected with a psychedelic mold or to organic mercury poisoning.
Scientists with the highly respected British Medical Journal were quickly drawn in September 1951 to what it dubbed the “outbreak of poisoning.” After initial thoughts that the cause was bread infection, they concluded that mold could not explain the event or the afflictions that struck hundreds of people in the village.
Scientists dispatched to the scene from the Sandoz Chemical company in nearby Basle, Switzerland also stated that the mold was the cause, but many other experts disagreed with them.
Over time the mystery of the outbreak only deepened and no answers were found to be satisfactory. A 2008 book about the history of bread published in France by Professor Steven Kaplan emphasizes that the “mystery remains unsolved” and at the time, still continued to perplex scientists.
New revelations
A book just released in the United States, detailing exhaustive interviews with now-retired US intelligence personnel who had direct knowledge of the 1951 French events, charges that the until-now unexplained “mass insanity” in the remote village were, rather, a top-secret CIA experiment conducted under the code-name Operation Span. Operation Span was a part of Project MK/NAOMI, itself an adjunct project to the more notorious Project MK/ULTRA, as in “ultra-top secret.”
The book,  A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, by investigative journalist H.P. Albarelli Jr. documents that the Pont-St.-Esprit outbreak in 1951 was the result of a covert LSD aerosol experiment directed by the US Army’s top-secret Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Albarelli notes that the scientists who produced the bogus cover-up explanations of contaminated bread and or mercury poisoning to deflect from the real source of the events worked for the Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company, which was then secretly supplying both the US Army and CIA with LSD for research.
A French newspaper at the time of the bizarre events wrote, “It is neither Shakespeare nor Edgar Poe. It is, alas, the sad reality all around Pont-St.-Esprit and its environs, where terrifying scenes of hallucinations are taking place. They are scenes straight out of the Middle Ages, scenes of horror and pathos, full of sinister shadows.” The US Time magazine, whose publisher, Henry Luce was closely tied to CIA propaganda activities in the 1950′s wrote, “Among the stricken, delirium rose: patients thrashed wildly on their beds, screaming that red flowers were blossoming from their bodies, that their heads had turned to molten lead. Pont-Saint-Esprit’s hospital reported four attempts at suicide.”
As Albarelli notes, a Department of Justice website on the dangers of LSD states that in the early 1950s, “the Sandoz Chemical Company went as far as promoting LSD as a potential secret chemical warfare weapon to the US Government. Their main selling point in this was that a small amount in a main water supply or sprayed in the air could disorient and turn psychotic an entire company of soldiers leaving them harmless and unable to fight.”
He claims that the CIA entertained a number of proposals from American scientists concerning placing a large amount of LSD into the reservoir of a medium-to-large city, but, according to former agency officials, “the experiment was never approved due to the unexpected number of deaths during the operation in France.”
Indeed, Albarelli has discovered once secret FBI documents that reveal that the Fort Detrick’s Special Operations Division, a year prior to the Pont St. Esprit experiment, had targeted New York City’s subway system for a similar experiment. States an August 1950 bureau memo, “[The] BW [biological warfare] experiments to be conducted by representatives of the Department of the Army in the New York Subway System in September, 1950, have been indefinitely postponed.” The memo goes on to cite FBI concerns about “poisoning of food plants” and the “poisoning of the water supply” of large cities in the U.S.
In an interview with this author, Albarelli described how he developed the shocking details of the CIA secret drug programs: “My first tip-off was a 1954 CIA document that detailed an encounter between an official of the Sandoz chemical company (the producers of LSD) and a CIA official in which ‘the secret of Pont St. Esprit’ was referenced. The Sandoz official went on to say, ‘It was not the ergot at all.’”
Albarelli says he then obtained through the Freedom of Information Act a partially redacted 1955 CIA report entitled, A CIA Study of LSD-25. “That seemingly comprehensive report contained detailed information on the manufacture, supply, and use of LSD and LSD-type products worldwide. However, nearly its entire section on France and Pont St. Esprit were blacked out.” Albarelli requested an un-redacted copy but CIA officials refused to provide one.
He continued, “Then I came across a letter written by a Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent who was working secretly for the CIA; this was George Hunter White, who ran the CIA’s New York City safe house in 1951-1954. White’s letter referenced the Pont St. Esprit experiment. At that point, 5 years into my investigation, I began interviewing former Army biochemists who became very evasive and refused to talk about their work in France. Finally two former intelligence employees confirmed the experiment took place under the auspices of the Army’s Special Operations Division and with CIA funding.”
Lastly, Albarelli explained, “I was given an undated White House document that was part of a larger file that had been sent to members of the Rockefeller Commission formed in 1975 to investigate CIA abuses. The document contained the names of a number of French nationals who had been secretly employed by the CIA and made direct reference to the ‘Pont St. Esprit incident,’ linking the former OSS head of secret research projects and the chief of Fort Detrick’s Special Operations Division,” Said Albarelli. “This, along with one other document, comprised the smoking gun.”
In its quest to research LSD as an offensive weapon, Albarelli claims, the Army drugged over 5,700 unwitting American servicemen between the years 1953 and 1965, and, with the CIA, experimented widely with LSD and other drugs through secret contracts with over 325 colleges, universities and research institutions in the U.S., Canada and Europe, involving about 2,500 additional subjects, many of them hospital patients and college students.
In 2005, Scott Shane, a reporter with the Baltimore Sun newspaper, wrote, “The Army has no records on MKNAOMI or on the Special Operations Division.” Asked formally for such records, the Army replied they “could find none.” In 1973 the CIA destroyed all of its records on MKNAOMI and its work with Fort Detrick’s Special Operations Division. When Shane asked a former top ranking Special Operations officer to speak about the division’s projects in general, Andrew M. Cowan, Jr. said, “I just don’t give interviews on that subject. It should still be classified-if nothing else, to keep information the division developed out of the hands of some nut.”
Other CIA drug projects
In 1959, American writer, Ken Kesey, while a student at Stanford University volunteered to take part in the CIA-financed Project MK/ULTRA at the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital. The project studied the effects of psychoactive drugs, particularly LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, cocaine, AMT, and DMT on people. Kesey wrote detailed accounts of his experiences with these drugs during the Project MK/ULTRA study. Kesey’s role as a medical guinea pig reportedly inspired him to write One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1962.
From his days as a psychology graduate student, Harvard’s infamous LSD guru, Dr. Timothy Leary, whose motto to the 1968 “Flower Power” generation was “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out!,” was associated with the CIA’s Cord Meyer. Leary devised a special personality test, The Leary, used by the CIA to test potential employees and worked with Frank Barron, a CIA employee and former psychology classmate of Leary’s, at the Berkeley Institute for Personality Assessment and Research, and later with Barron’s Psychedelic Drug Research Center at Harvard. These are but two of the more known and detailed instances linking the CIA with LSD projects after the alleged French experiments.
According to an official with the DGSE, who declined to be identified, “If the details of this book’s revelations prove to be true, it will be very upsetting for the people of Pont-St.-Esprit, as well as all French citizens. That agencies of the United States government would deliberately target innocent foreign citizens for such an experiment is a violation of a number of international laws and treaties.”
Endnotes
Erard Corbin de Mangoux, conseiller de Sarkozy, remplacera Brochand à la DGSE,. Le Monde. October 6, 2008, accessed in http://www.lemonde.fr/web/depeches/0,14-0,39-37199541@7-40,0.html.
British Medical Journal, Ergot Poisoning at Pont St. Esprit, September 15, 1951, p. 650.
Steven L. Kaplan, Le pain maudit: Retour sur la France des annees oubliees 1945-1958 (Paris: Fayard 2008), p. 1124.
H.P. Albarelli, Jr., A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, (Walterville Oregon: Trine Day Inc., 2009).
FBI Memorandum, August 25, 1950, Subject: Biological Warfare and NY Subway System, A.H. Belmont to C.E. Hennrich.
H.P. Albarelli, Jr., interview with F. William Engdahl via email, February 6, 2010.
Ibid.
Ibid.
Ibid.
Scott Shane, Buried Secrets of Biowarfare, Baltimore Sun, August 1, 2004, p.1.
Rob Elder, Down on the Peacock Farm, Salon magazine, November 16, 2001.
Mark Riebling, Was Timothy Leary a CIA Agent?, 1994, Osprey Productions/Grand Royal, accessed in HYPERLINK “<http://home.dti.net/lawserv/leary.html>http://home.dti.net/lawserv/leary.html&#8221; <http://home.dti.net/lawserv/leary.html>http://home.dti.net/lawserv/leary.html.

The Social Costs of Deficit Spending

George Papandreou (2 February 2010)

PM Papandreou has faced down public opposition so far

Public sector workers in Greece have launched a nationwide strike in protest at government measures to tackle the country’s huge budget deficit.

Flights have been grounded, many schools closed, and hospitals are operating an emergency-only service.

The government wants to cut pay, reduce pensions and revise the tax system.

EU leaders will discuss the issue during a summit in Brussels on Thursday amid concern the Greek crisis could threaten the credibility of the euro.

Financial markets around the world and politicians from across Europe will be watching the situation carefully, says the BBC’s Jonny Dymond, in Athens.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has already faced down a three-week protest by farmers demanding higher government subsidies.

Public anger

On Tuesday, his socialist government announced that it intends to raise the average retirement age in a bid to save the cash-strapped pensions system.

The move comes on top of other planned austerity measures, including a public sector salary freeze and a hike in petrol prices announced last week.

Public sector workers here will not be hit as hard as they have been in Ireland, but they complain some of the poorest paid will suffer while the rich dodge tax with impunity, our correspondent says.

Further government measures include the non-replacement of departing civil servants, and tax collectors recovering billions of euros lost to tax evasion.

Biggest threat

Greece’s deficit is, at 12.7%, more than four times higher than eurozone rules allow. Its debt is about 300bn euros ($419bn; £259bn).

The markets remain sceptical that Greece will be able to pay its debts and many investors believe the country will have to be bailed out.

The uncertainty has recently buffeted the euro and the problems have extended to Spain and Portugal, which are also struggling with their deficits.

The possibility of Greece or one of the other stricken countries being unable to pay its debts – and either needing an EU bailout or having to abandon the euro – has been called the biggest threat yet to the single currency.