ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

American Police State Needs More Easy-Bake-Terrorists

FBI Tracked Chattanooga Shooter’s Family for Years

land destroyer

July 17, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – Once again, another convenient shooting has helped supercharge anger, hatred, fear, and division across the Western World after an alleged “Islamist extremist” opened fire on and killed 4 US Marines at a recruiting station in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Without any knowledge of how the US has in fact created Al Qaeda and its many global affiliates, including vicious terrorist groups plaguing Southeast Asia, and the most notorious to date, the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), the American public will predictably react in a manner that will simply further justify America’s meddling across the globe amid its self-created and perpetuated “War on Terror.” It will also help in efforts to further tighten control over the American public itself, with increased justifications for expanding police state measures and future pushes to disarm the American people.

Yahoo News would report in their article, “Shootings at Chattanooga military facilities leave 4 Marines, gunman dead; act called ‘domestic terrorism‘,” that:

A U.S. official told the Associated Press that Abdulazeez had not been on the radar of federal law enforcement before Thursday’s shooting. 

But also added:

His father had been investigated several years ago for “possible ties to a foreign terrorist organization” and added to the U.S. terrorist watch list, according to a report in the New York Times, but that probe did not surface information about Abdulazeez, the paper said.

This means that yet another case of “domestic terror” has involved someone either investigated by the FBI, entrapped by an active FBI operation where FBI investigators posed as terrorist leaders and walked a patsy through every step of a terrorist attack before arresting them and thus “foiling” the attack, or linked directly to someone the FBI was investigating.

Ironically, the immense omnipresent police state the West has erected to combat the so-called “terrorist” threat, including the total surveillance of all communications online and across all telecommunication networks, at home and abroad under the National Security Agency (NSA) will only expand, despite it once again apparently failing, and despite attempts by special interests on Wall Street and in Washington to claim this latest attack “again” somehow circumvented these already sweeping measures.

Meanwhile, The US Continues Supporting Extremists Abroad

And while this latest attack is passed off as a “domestic terrorist attack” and the result of “Islamic extremists,” rather than a false flag event, the US continues to openly support the very “terrorists” it claims threatens its homeland and has inspired these sort of attacks.

Just recently, the Washington Post literally allowed a spokesman of Al Qaeda to defend his faction’s role in the fighting in Syria, and his condemnation of the United States for not rendering more aid for the cause of overrunning and destroying the Syrian nation – a goal the US itself is likewise pursuing.

Labib Al Nahhas, “head of foreign political relations” for terrorist organization Ahrar al-Sham, wrote in his Washington Post op-ed titled, “The deadly consequences of mislabeling Syria’s revolutionaries,” that:

Stuck inside their own bubble, White House policymakers have allocated millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to support failed CIA efforts to support so-called “moderate” forces in Syria. But these “moderate” groups have proved to be a disappointment on nearly every count, not least of all in confronting the Islamic State.

He also states:

That question should prompt Washington to admit that the Islamic State’s extremist ideology can be defeated only through a homegrown Sunni alternative — with the term “moderate” defined not by CIA handlers but by Syrians themselves.

Essentially, the Washington Post afforded a terrorist organization space to make an appeal to the American public for military support. Ahrar al-Sham regularly coordinates with and fights within operations led by Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front, a US State Department designated terrorist organization from which ISIS itself sprung.

Al Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham are described as the “closest” of allies by Western think-tanks and media reports. It is also revealed that Ahrar al-Sham worked along side ISIS itself.

A Stanford University report under “Mapping Militant Organizations” explained (emphasis added):

Ahrar al-Sham quickly became one of the largest military organizations operating in Syria, and it has been active in efforts to unite the Islamist opposition under a single banner. It rejects the idea of Western intervention but sometimes works alongside Free Syrian Army brigades. It routinely cooperates with al-Nusra and, until relations soured in 2013, also worked with ISIS. In February 2014, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence called Ahrar al-Sham one of the three most effective rebel groups in Syria.

The Washington Post isn’t the only voice in the Western media promoting Al Qaeda. Foreign Policy in 2012 abhorrently proclaimed, “Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists: So the rebels aren’t secular Jeffersonians. As far as America is concerned, it doesn’t much matter.” As much as an admission that the US is backing what is essentially terrorism in Syria, the Foreign Policy article attempted even then to promote the alleged “pragmatism” of supporting Al Qaeda to eliminate America’s foreign enemies.

Image: 100’s of trucks a day pass over Turkey’s border with Syria, destined for ISIS territory. NATO literally is supplying ISIS with an endless torrent of supplies, weapons, and fighters meaning that no matter how many token airstrikes the US carries out, many times more fighters and materiel will fill the void. 

And while Foreign Policy and terrorists writing in the pages of the Washington Post demand more weapons and support from the West, it is already a documented fact that immense and constantly flowing supply convoys are streaming out of both NATO-member Turkey and US-ally Jordan’s territory, into Syria and Iraq, for the purpose of resupplying ISIS. This explains ISIS’ otherwise inexplicable ability to not only maintain its impressive fighting capacity as it simultaneously wages war against both the Syrian and Iraqi armies, but to expand its fighting to all fronts opposed to US regional hegemony.

This includes Yemen, Libya, and even Egypt where ISIS most recently managed to hit an Egyptian naval vessel with a missile. Foreign Policy would again weigh in. Their article, “Islamic State Sinai Affiliate Claims to Have Hit Egyptian Ship With Missile,” states:

The use of a guided missile to strike an Egyptian ship represents a higher level of technological sophistication than what has been previously observed in Sinai attacks. It is unclear, however, exactly what kind of missile was used in the attack, beyond the militant group’s claim that it was a guided munition.

Militant groups in the region have in the past used guided missiles to attack government ships in the Mediterranean. During the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, an Iranian anti-ship missile fired by the militant group struck the Israeli warship Hanit, badly damaging the vessel and killing four crew members.

Of course, Foreign Policy and others across the Western media will be quick to point out that Hezbollah is a state-sponsored militant organization which receives its weapons from Syria and Iran. The question then becomes how ISIS replicated this level of “technological sophistication,” and which state-sponsors put the missiles into their hands.

The US supporting Al Qaeda is not really news. Al Qaeda was initially a joint US-Saudi venture to create a mercenary army to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980’s. This mercenary army would again fight Russian interests in Serbia and Chechnya before eventually being used as the pretext for US invasions and occupations of both Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 onward. In 2007, it was revealed that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel sought to use the terrorist organization to raise a proxy military front to overthrow Syria and Iran. The resulting bloodbath in Syria beginning in 2011 is the operational execution of this documented conspiracy.

Al Qaeda and its various affiliates serve both as a proxy mercenary front to strike where Western forces cannot, and a pretext to invade abroad. It also serves as a constant justification for increased tyranny at home. With the most recent shooting carried out by yet another target of the FBI’s “investigations,” and the predictable divisive backlash that will follow, it is assured that the American public will be further blinded to the fact that this so-called “Islamic extremism” was born in Washington and on Wall Street, in Riyadh and Tel Aviv, not in a mosque or springing forth from the pages of the Qu’ran.

In fact, the vast majority of the world’s Islamic people are locked in mortal combat with the West’s mercenary terrorist forces, with tens of thousands of them having shed their blood fighting Al Qaeda everywhere from Libya to Egypt, to Iraq and Syria. While the US attempts to pose as the leading power in the fight against extremism, its token airstrikes deep within Syrian territory are quickly undone by the torrent of supplies it itself oversees flooding into Syrian territory. For every fighter killed by a US airstrike, 10 more are being trafficked in through US and NATO-run networks stretching as far afield as Xinjiang, China.

The US presence in Iraq and Syria serves simply as one of several planned stepping stones to eventually and directly intervene militarily in toppling either or both governments, before moving on to Tehran.

The “War on Terror” is a fraud, and each “terrorist attack” a carefully orchestrated means of further perpetuating that fraud.

FACING A POWER THAT CAN MAKE YOU BELIEVE THE IMPOSSIBLE

Mankind cannot evolve until we confront the evil which overpowers us with our own fears.

THERE IS NO WAR ON TERROR, THERE IS ONLY US TERRORIZING THE WORLD.  IF WE COULD DO THIS TO OURSELVES, THEN IMAGINE WHAT WE HAVE PLANNED FOR THE REST OF MANKIND.

COLLECTIVE EVOLUTION–911

9/11 Firefighters Reveal Bombs Destroyed WTC lobby

Newly obtained video that was reluctantly released by NIST after a lawsuit by the International Center for 9/11 Studies shows two firefighters on 9/11 discussing how secondary explosions occurred immediately before the collapse of the twin towers, providing damning new evidence that explosive devices were used to bring down the buildings. Firemen discuss how bombs were going off in the lobby of WTC1 as they were staging to move up the building. They explain how the building had already been hit by the plane and fires were already burning. After two explosions in the lobby, a third went off and the whole lobby collapsed. I’m sorry 9/11 truth deniers, you now have another smoking gun that you can’t deny!

“Pushing Back” the Boat People In Asia and In Europe, Symptom of Universal Insanity

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Fransiska Nangoy

BANGKOK/JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia gave no response on Wednesday to a United Nations appeal for them to rescue thousands of migrants, many of them hungry and sick, adrift in boats in Southeast Asian seas.

There were conflicting statements on whether regional governments would continue to push back migrant boats in the face of the UN warning that they risked a “massive humanitarian crisis”.

“Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have decided not to receive boat people, as far as I am aware,” Major General Werachon Sukhondhapatipak, spokesman for Thailand’s ruling junta, told Reuters.

He declined to comment on the UN refugee agency UNHCR’s appeal on Tuesday for an international search and rescue operation for the many stranded on the seas between Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The UN has said several thousand migrants were abandoned at sea by smugglers following a Thai government crackdown on human trafficking.

Malaysia’s Home Ministry also declined to comment on the U.N. rescue appeal.

The issue would be discussed at a meeting of 15 countries, to be held in Bangkok on May 29, Thai junta spokesman Werachon said.

But the Royal Thai Navy said on Wednesday that its policy was not to send the boats back to sea.

“If they come to Thai waters we must help them and provide food and water,” Rear Admiral Kan Deeubol told Reuters. “For human rights reasons, we will not send them back to sea.”

Earlier this week, a junta spokesman said that a surge in migrants to Indonesia and Malaysia from Bangladesh and Myanmar had been caused by the crackdown and by Thai authorities blocking boats from landing.

Thailand ordered a clean-up of suspected traffickers’ camps last week after 33 bodies, believed to be of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, were found in shallow graves near the Malaysian border.

That has made traffickers wary of landing in Thailand, the preferred destination for the region’s people smuggling networks, leading to many migrants being left out at sea.

‘IT’S A POLICY MATTER’

A senior Malaysian maritime official said on Tuesday, after more than 1,000 people arrived on the Malaysian island of Langkawi at the weekend, that any more boats trying to land would be turned back

“We don’t allow them in,” said First Admiral Tan Kok Kwee, northern region head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. “It’s a policy matter.”

Indonesia provided food, water and medical supplies to around 500 passengers on a boat off the coast of the northwestern province of Aceh on Monday, before sending the vessel towards Malaysia.

The Indonesian Navy said the passengers of the boat they sent onwards wanted to go to Malaysia, not Indonesia.

A day earlier and also in Aceh, Indonesia rescued nearly 600 migrants from overcrowded wooden boats. Those migrants were brought ashore and remain on Aceh.

The Indonesian policy was to offer food and shelter to refugees and coordinate with international migrant and refugee bodies, Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir told reporters on Wednesday. This it had done with the nearly 600 migrants it rescued on Sunday, he added.

“What we do not do is load them on to the ship and push it to the ocean,” he said.

But advocacy group ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights criticised the Indonesian government for sending the boat back to sea on Monday.

“Towing migrants out to sea and declaring that they aren’t your problem any more is not a solution to the wider regional crisis,” ABHR Chairperson and Malaysian lawmaker Charles Santiago said in a statement.

Many of the arrivals are Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar described by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

‘BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS’

An estimated 25,000 Bangladeshis and Rohingya boarded rickety smugglers’ boats in the first three months of this year, twice as many in the same period of 2014, the UNHCR has said.

“When countries such as Thailand implement a push back policy, we find Rohingya bodies washing ashore,” said Sunai Phasuk at Human Rights Watch in Thailand.

“If these three countries move forward with push backs, blood will be on their hands.”

Malaysia’s police chief said that joint work with the Thai police force had helped Malaysian police smash seven syndicates involved in smuggling and trafficking in March and April.

The syndicates operated in northern Malaysia and southern Thailand, Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters on the Thai island of Phuket, where members of the two police forces met this week for annual talks on international crime.

Among 38 people arrested were two Malaysian policemen, he said.

As well as trafficking, Malaysian police believe the syndicates were involved in forging UNHCR documents, he said.

(Additional reporting by Fransiska Nangoy in JAKARTA and Apichai Thornoi in PHUKET, Thailand; Writing by Simon Webb; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson)

reuters_tickers

Is Human Compassion Weakness In A World Ruled By Psychopathy?

Beyond Insanity

seren6

By Amos M. Gunsberg

We used to call them psychopaths — these creatures that appear on our planet physically in human form, but are not human beings.

We noted they are amoral. That should have given us a clue.

We noted they do not FEEL feelings. That should have instructed us.

We noted they are heartless. That should have set off the alarm.

These creatures lack elements which distinguish the human being. They exhibit no connection with, no understanding of what we call “morality,” “honesty,” “decency,” “fair play,” etc. They lack the faculty we call empathy. They lack the faculty we call introspection.

Mankind has spent centuries trying to make sense of these creatures as some form of human being. All in vain. Not only in vain, but at enormous on-going cost to our civilization. These creatures are not human beings gone wrong. They are a different species … dedicated to the murder of human values … as a prelude to the murder of human beings … e.g., the tactics used by Nazis, past and present.

They laugh at us. They say: “No one understands us. People can’t put themselves in the minds of men who act without a conscience. They try to understand, but they can’t.”

These creatures do not THINK human. They do not SPEAK human. They do not know what it is to BE human.

We classify them as “humanoid.”

Yes, they have human form. If we manage to resist their onslaught long enough, we will eventually develop technical scanning equipment which will measure how different they are from human beings, despite their similarity of form.

In the meantime, the quality of our lives … and often our very lives … depends on our recognizing these creatures for what they are, and taking steps to neutralize their attempts to destroy us.

EVIDENCE OF HUMANOID BEHAVIOR

They make pronouncements without substantiation. To them, these pronouncements represent what reality is … pronouncement by pronouncement. The present pronouncement may contradict what they said a moment ago. This means nothing to them. They make no attempt to deal with the contradiction.

They demonstrate a total lack of understanding what we mean by a “fact.” In their writings and in their speech, they do not use that word.

We humans find this hard to believe. The use of facts is such a basic part of our lives. We base our conclusions and our actions on them. We go on from there to test things and establish more facts. When we debate, we present facts, and show how we derive our observations and our positions from them.

Without facts, all we have is what we call “fantasy.”

Since these creatures have a human appearance, we assume they must think like us … be aware of what we are aware. We think they MUST know what facts are. When they don’t address the facts, we say they are playing a game. We think they do know what the facts are, but don’t want to admit it.

Not so! They DON’T know what a fact is. When we speak of facts and ask them to address the facts, they look at us with vacant eyes. They don’t know what we’re talking about.

They study us because their strategy is to pass as human. They hear us use the words — facts, evidence, substantiation. They lack the human capacity to understand what we mean. What they do is ignore our reference to facts, ignore our requests for them to supply facts, and hope we won’t notice it’s due to their lack of comprehension.

Let’s look at examples of what THEY use for what WE mean by “facts.”

The Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy (AAGT) held an open conference at which three “master” therapists worked with three volunteers. Dr. Jeffrey A. Schaler published a critique entitled “BAD THERAPY” in which he cited examples not only of bad therapy, but also of systematic abuse of a volunteer by the “master” therapist. (The Interpsych Newsletter, Vol 2, Issue 9, Nov 95.) On their official Internet mail list (aagt@netride.com), members of the Association launched an attack on Dr. Schaler, culminating in their adoption of the slogan: “Saving Gestalt Therapy from Jeff Schaler,” used as the subject line in a discussion thread. Under this heading they “SAVED” Gestalt therapy by sending in e-mails labeling Jeff Schaler as “arrogant, snide, hair-splitting, nit-picking, disturbed, meanspirited, ranting, self-serving,” etc.

When asked how this labeling “SAVED” Gestalt therapy, they ignored the question. When asked in what way Gestalt therapy was endangered by Jeff Schaler, they ignored the question.

It became clear they thoroughly believed their pronouncements erased not only the evidence presented but also erased Jeff Schaler himself. They “pronounced” him to be no longer in existence. For them, whatever they “declare” is what’s real. What WE call reality is not real to them. THEY “pronounce” what is to be considered real.

Here’s another example. I asked a psychotherapy client to look at a chair which was situated about six feet away near a wall. I then asked her to describe the chair. She did, in rather complete detail, except for the legs. THE CHAIR SHE DESCRIBED HAD NO LEGS!

I pointed this out, and asked how the chair could be suspended in air, with no legs to support it. She said: “I put it there.” I asked: “If you look away, will it fall to the floor?” She said: “No. If I look away, the chair is no longer there.” I asked: “If you look away … and it turns out the chair is still there?” She ignored the question.

Here’s another example. During a discussion on CD@maelstrom.stjohns.edu earlier this year, the statement was made: “If enough people believe something to be true, then what they believe is what reality IS.”

A question was then asked: “There was a time when everyone, as far as we know, believed the sun revolved around the earth. Are you saying at that time the sun did, in fact, revolve around the earth … and it was only in obedience to a change in what people believed that the earth came to revolve around the sun?”

The question was ignored.

You might think their refusals to answer constitute an admission … an admission what they are saying is totally outlandish and indefensible. Experience has shown you would be wrong. Experience has shown they go right on making the same statements, even after evidence is produced to the contrary.

You see how different these creatures are? You see how far off their thinking and behavior are from human thinking and behavior?

Nothing of what WE call reality is real to THEM.

I repeat.

Nothing of what we call reality is REAL to them.

When a human being mentions a chair, the reference is to a chair that sits there on its own legs. It’s there whether anyone sees it or not, whether anyone mentions it or not, whether anyone “declares” it to be there or not. It’s there ON ITS OWN.

A basic element in the profile of humanoids is their lack of comprehension that anything exists on its own, separate from their say-so. They don’t SEE it. The only objects humanoids see are the ones they “declare” … the ones they imagine.

We use the phrase “my perception” to mean an appraisal, a measurement of something separate from ourselves. We don’t announce it as “fact.” We are open to consider other views if given facts to consider.

Humanoids use the phrase “my perception” as a buzz word. They imagine what they choose, and tell us it is their “perception” … which, in their minds, ESTABLISHES reality. What we call “facts” do not exist for them. That’s why they whine and claim they are being attacked whenever substantiation is requested.

Humanoids claim their statements are valid simply because they make them!!! They elaborate on this: “I honor integrity in this regard. As an egoist, I make statements which are valid to me. Validity to my ‘self’ comes first. I grant other people this same respect assuming they say things valid to themselves.”

Among human beings, for something to be deemed valid it has to be substantiated with facts. Nothing is valid simply because someone says it.

When humanoids are asked how they determine what someone says is valid to that person, and not something made up or imagined, they ignore the question.

Note the strange use of the word “integrity.” Humans define integrity as uprightness of character; probity; honesty. We refer to sticking to the facts, sticking to the truth, not selling out. Humanoids use “integrity” to mean insisting what they imagine is what’s real. No measurement. No evaluation.

When the demand is made for their pronouncements to be evaluated, they claim the confronter is the one who has no integrity … meaning the confronter is not upholding THEIR position: what THEY imagine is what’s real.

On what basis do they claim this? Humanoids treat the world as if it were their own private holodeck. They “declare” things into being. Everything is a hologram. They program the holograms. They interact with them in any way they choose. They have them under total control. When they decide to cancel a hologram, it vanishes.

A hologram is a hologram is a hologram. A hologram is not supposed to have the ability to think for itself. A hologram is not supposed to have the ability to measure, evaluate, appraise, etc. Most importantly, a hologram is not supposed to be able to break out of its holographic state and critique its master.

When this does happen, they first chastise it to bring it back into line. If that doesn’t work, they “vanish” it. When that fails, they run for cover by abandoning the program and calling up another one.

Experience has shown no matter what we say, no matter what we point out, no matter how much evidence is given, it has no meaning for these creatures. They have one goal: to fool us into classifying them as human so they can concentrate on murdering our human values. Without human values, the next step is murdering human beings.

In the film “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” aliens are shown to be taking over by occupying the bodies of human beings. The aliens take over not only the physical body but also the mind, memories, abilities, etc. In every way the people seem to be the same as always, except for one thing. They mention events, but with no feeling of them or about them. THEY DO NOT FEEL FEELINGS.

We see a child struggling to get away from what appears to be its mother. The next day they walk hand-in-hand. The child has been taken over.

The lovers in the film try to stay awake so they won’t be taken over. She succumbs … and “she,” now a creature, tries to fool him. When she doesn’t fool him, she tries to betray him.

These creatures do not FEEL alive. They do not FEEL feelings. In order to pass as humans, they know they have to give the appearance of knowing they are alive. Their only recourse is to DECLARE they are alive.

The declaration does not produce the quality of FEELING alive. They still don’t FEEL feelings. The only thing they have to go on, to refer to, is their own declaration. If “declaring” is shown to be insufficient … if they are called upon to discuss feelings, give evidence of feelings, distinguish between feelings, etc., they are lost. Their inner emptiness is apparent. Their un-human status is exposed.

Here’s a final example. In the course of a discussion on psych-ci@maelstrom.stjohns.edu some time ago, a humanoid said: “You hurt my feelings.” The humanoid was asked to identify the exact statements, and explain in what way these statements caused hurt to what particular feelings. Answer: (Whining) “I’ve said you hurt my feelings. I don’t know what else to say. … You are attacking.”

Question: “In what way do you a consider a request for substantiation and clarification to be an attack?”

No answer.

AN OVERVIEW

Humanoids:

  1. Make pronouncements without substantiation. These pronouncements are to be accepted as defining what reality is . . moment by moment.
  2. Ignore requests to provide the basis for their pronouncements.
  3. Sneer at the human valuing of facts, honesty, decency, fair play.
  4. Applaud the use of lies, deceit, etc.
  5. Whine they are being “attacked” whenever they are questioned. Give no explanation of what the “attack” is or of what is being attacked.
  6. Do not FEEL feelings.
  7. View the world as their private holodeck.
  8. Apply themselves to keeping humans in their place — namely, insignificance.

FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Humanoids do not understand the distinction we humans make between good and evil. When they harm us, they do not understand why we call them evil. They do not understand why we have laws against murder. Their approach is to boast, even moralize over their victims.

Since they do not understand the reason for such laws, they argue they cannot be held accountable for their actions.

Not so. While they take the position the law does not apply to them, they do know the law was enacted to apply to everyone. Furthermore, if they try to claim they didn’t know there was such a law, we respond with a firmly established principle: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

When they use those arguments, they make it clear they will continue to operate in accordance with their structure. We may look for remorse (a human capacity). We find none. They do not think of themselves as promulgating evil. They are simply doing what it is in their structure to do. The rattlesnake does not think of itself as evil when it injects poison. It is simply doing what it is in its structure to do.

Experience has shown humanoids continue to behave in the ways of their species . . murdering human values as a prelude to murdering human beings. Nazis demonstrate this graphically.

The issue as to whether to hold them “accountable,” in our human sense of the word, has to be divided into two parts. We do not hold them accountable for BEING what they are. We do hold them accountable for the damage they DO.

When a dog gets rabies, we don’t hold the dog accountable for becoming rabid. What we do, as a matter of self-protection, is put the dog down BEFORE it bites us, BEFORE it infects us.

We do not hold the rattlesnake accountable for HAVING poison fangs. What we do, as a matter of self-protection, is kill the rattlesnake BEFORE it kills us.

So with the humanoid. We need to be on our guard at the first sign of a murder of human values.


Amos M. Gunsberg is a psychotherapist and trainer
of psychotherapists in New York City since 1950.
He is a founder of the School for Quality Being.

This article originally appeared in Volume 2, Issue 5, of PSYCHNEWS INTERNATIONAL.


Comment by Peter Meyer, 2006-07-24:

Here is a short list of the most obvious humanoids:

George W. Bush Donald Rumsfeld
Richard Cheney Tony Blair
Condoleezza Rice John Bolton
Ehud Olmert Tzipi Livni

Next time you hear them speaking note how they make pronouncements about how things are which are totally inconsistent with the way normal humans see things, and note how they state these things as if it were self-evident, as it is — to them, since they do not distiguish between reality and their ideas about reality. These individuals are insane.

Consider John (‘Mad Dog’) Bolton. On 2006-07-23 he was interviewed on CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer” and was asked to reply to the statement by Louise Arbour (U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights) that the leaders of the Israeli government, by bombing and destroying the infrastructure of Lebanon and thereby killing hundreds of civilians (many of them children) and creating half a million civilian refugees, were possibly committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and might later face criminal prosecution. In his reply Bolton totally ignored both the fact of Israel’s devastation of Lebanon’s infrastructure and the suggestion that the Israelis were committing crimes of any kind (according to his perverse logic they could not be doing this because the U.S. supports Israel and the U.S. does not — in his “reality” — condone crimes against humanity) and instead huffed about whether Arbour was acting improperly by (as he said) “threatening criminal charges based on press accounts.” Bolton is insane, appointed (despite congressional objections) as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. by a U.S. President who is also insane. Psychopaths, not merely among us, but in positions of power where they exercise huge influence and by their actions can cause the deaths of millions of people.

But that appears to be exactly their intention: to exterminate (or enslave) all humans — their “final solution”. The question is: Will the humans, like the European Jews in the 1940s, put up little resistance, and allow themselves to be slaughtered? There is now a major difference: We now know what they intend for us, so if they succeed we have only ourselves to blame. We would do well to heed the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller.

 

China’s Ambassador To Belgium Blames Ukraine Crisis On Big Powers Playing Games

qu xingInterview: Chinese diplomat calls powers’ game root cause of Ukraine crisis

Xinhua net

BRUSSELS, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — A senior Chinese diplomat has said that the nature and root cause of Ukraine crisis was the game between Russia and western powers, including the United States and the European Union.

“There were internal and external reasons for the Ukraine crisis. Originally, the issue stemmed from Ukraine’s internal problems, but it now was not a simple internal matter. Without external intervention from different powers, the Ukrainian problem would not develop into the serious crisis as it be,” Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Qu Xing told Xinhua in a recent interview.

POWERS’ GAME ROOT TO UKRAINE CRISIS

Qu said that from the perspective of Ukraine’s internal affairs, the eastern and western regions in Ukraine differed in culture, ethnic groups, understanding of history, and social and economic development, so the relationship between the two parts had long been affected by external forces.

Moreover, in recent years, as Ukraine underwent repeated changes of regime, politicians focused more on partisan struggle rather than improving people’s livelihood. Thereby weak economy and severe corruption further intensified internal contradictions.

Qu noted that Russia would felt anxious that the West may squeeze its geographical space by extending influence in eastern European countries including Ukraine.

In addition, Qu said that the involvement of the United States in Ukraine crisis would become a distraction in its foreign policy, including its “re-balancing strategy”.

“The United States is unwilling to see its presence in any part of the world being weakened, but the fact is its resources are limited, and it will be to some extent a hard work to sustain its influence in external affairs, ” Qu said.

TO RETHINK CONCEPTS IN GLOBAL AFFAIRS

“The major powers need to seek a win-win situation rather than zero-sum security,” Qu said, pointing out that countries needed to rethink the concepts in international affairs and learn a lesson from the Ukraine crisis.

He said for the West’s own part, although its military strength had been comparatively powerful, it still felt no absolute security with taking continuous steps to cement security, including moves to enhance the global distribution of ballistic missile defense systems.

An example of west powers’ high sensitivity about their own security could be that the United States had a national security review system for foreign investors’ mergers and acquisition activities in the United States. But its definition of “national security” was not clear enough and the process of the review should be more transparent to the public, Qu said.

If a country is highly sensitive to its own security, while ignoring other countries’ basic security needs and concerns, it will cause lots of problems, and the phenomenon would be a serious issue in nowadays international society. If this problem cannot be solved, the Ukraine issue and some other similar global problems would not be solved, he said.

If the western powers do not have the same acknowledgment of Russia’s security concerns and security needs, Russia will feel that it has not been equally treated by the West, and its security interests and development interests have not been respected by the West, he said.

“The West should abandon the zero-sum mentality, and take the real security concerns of Russia into consideration,” said Qu.

Against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis, the international community must re-think over the concepts of international relations. Major powers must get along with each other following the principle of equality, cooperation, and mutual benefits and trust, so as to realize win-win situation in the global scenario, he said.

EU MORE PRAGMATIC THAN US OVER UKRAINE ISSUE

As to the U.S. and Europe’s stance on the issue of Ukraine, Qu said the United States and Europe essentially had the same strategy, but their tactics were different, as their geopolitical interests were different, said Qu.

As Ukraine and Europe share geopolitical proximity, Ukraine’s chaos will definitely cause instability in Europe. Also, the EU had energy dependence on Russia. Therefore, the EU held more pragmatic attitudes than the United States over the Ukraine issue, he said.

The fact that the United States did not participate in the latest round of negotiations in Minsk precisely reflected the Western parties’ concerns and tactics. On the one hand, the absence of the United States raised the negotiation leverage for European partners to force other parties to make more concession. On the other hand, this left the West further action maneuver.

“Even though a latest ceasefire agreement had been achieved, it is still possible for the Western parties to change the original decisions in the future for the excuse that the United States was not involved in the negotiations,” he said.

Qu said China hopes the Ukraine crisis could be solved in the political way. On the one hand, China and Ukraine are traditional friendly countries. China has always pursued the principles of non-interference, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And on the other hand, China acknowledges that the issue involved complicated historical elements.

Editor: Tian Shaohui

Playing Nuclear Chicken in Kiev

Playing Nuclear Chicken in Kiev

pacificfreepress

by Robert Parry – Consortium News

Ready for Nuclear War over Ukraine?

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of 

Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a 
Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV.)
A senior Ukrainian official is urging the West to risk a nuclear conflagration in support of a “full-scale war” with Russia that he says authorities in Kiev are now seeking, another sign of the extremism that pervades the year-old, U.S.-backed regime in Kiev.
During a recent visit to Canada, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told CBC Radio that “Everybody is afraid of fighting with a nuclear state. We are not anymore, in Ukraine — we’ve lost so many people of ours, we’ve lost so much of our territory.”
Prystaiko added, “However dangerous it sounds, we have to stop [Russian President Vladimir Putin] somehow. For the sake of the Russian nation as well, not just for the Ukrainians and Europe.” The deputy foreign minister announced that Kiev is preparing for “full-scale war” against Russia and wants the West to supply lethal weapons and training so the fight can be taken to Russia.
“What we expect from the world is that the world will stiffen up in the spine a little,” Prystaiko said.
Yet, what is perhaps most remarkable about Prystaiko’s “Dr. Strangelove” moment is that it produced almost no reaction in the West. You have a senior Ukrainian official saying that the world should risk nuclear war over a civil conflict in Ukraine between its west, which favors closer ties to Europe, and its east, which wants to maintain its historic relationship with Russia.
Why should such a pedestrian dispute justify the possibility of vaporizing millions of human beings and conceivably ending life on the planet? Yet, instead of working out a plan for a federalized structure in Ukraine or even allowing people in the east to vote on whether they want to remain under the control of the Kiev regime, the world is supposed to risk nuclear annihilation.
But therein lies one of the under-reported stories of the Ukraine crisis: There is a madness to the Kiev regime that the West doesn’t want to recognize because to do so would upend the dominant narrative of “our” good guys vs. Russia’s bad guys. If we begin to notice that the right-wing regime in Kiev is crazy and brutal, we might also start questioning the “Russian aggression” mantra.
According to the Western “group think,” the post-coup Ukrainian government “shares our values” by favoring democracy and modernity, while the rebellious ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine are “Moscow’s minions” representing dark forces of backwardness and violence, personified by Russia’s “irrational” President Putin. In this view, the conflict is a clash between the forces of good and evil where there is no space for compromise.
Yet, there is a craziness to this “group think” that is highlighted by Prystaiko’s comments. Not only does the Kiev regime display a cavalier attitude about dragging the world into a nuclear catastrophe but it also has deployed armed neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists to wage a dirty war in the east that has involved torture and death-squad activities.

Not Since Adolf Hitler

No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet, across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality, even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established.

The New York Times and the Washington Post have spearheaded this journalistic malfeasance by putting on blinders so as not to see Ukraine’s neo-Nazis, such as when describing the key role played by the Azov battalion in the war against ethnic Russians in the east.
On Feb. 20, in a report from Mariupol, the Post cited the Azov battalion’s importance in defending the port city against a possible rebel offensive. Correspondent Karoun Demirjian wrote:
“Petro Guk, the commander of the Azov battalion’s reinforcement operations in Mariupol, said in an interview that the battalion is ‘getting ready for’ street-to-street combat in the city. The Azov battalion, now a regiment in the Ukrainian army, is known as one of the fiercest fighting forces­ in the pro-Kiev operation.
“But … it has pulled away from the front lines on a scheduled rest-and-retraining rotation, Guk said, leaving the Ukrainian army — a less capable force, in his opinion — in its place. His advice to residents of Mariupol is to get ready for the worst.
“‘If it is your home, you should be ready to fight for it, and accept that if the fight is for your home, you must defend it,’ he said, when asked whether residents should prepare to leave. Some are ready to heed that call, as a matter of patriotic duty.”
The Post’s stirring words fit with the Western media’s insistent narrative and its refusal to include meaningful background about the Azov battalion, which is known for marching under Nazi banners, displaying the Swastika and painting SS symbols on its helmets.
The New York Times filed a similarly disingenuous article from Mariupol on Feb. 11, depicting the ethnic Russian rebels as barbarians at the gate with the Azov battalion defending civilization. Though providing much color and detail – and quoting an Azov leader prominently – the Times left out the salient and well-known fact that the Azov battalion is composed of neo-Nazis.
But this inconvenient truth – that neo-Nazis have been central to Kiev’s “self-defense forces” from last February’s coup to the present – would disrupt the desired propaganda message to American readers. So the New York Times just ignores the Nazism and refers to Azov as a “volunteer unit.”
Yet, this glaring omission is prima facie proof of journalistic bias. There’s no way that the editors of the Post and Times don’t know that the presence of neo-Nazis is newsworthy. Indeed, there’s a powerful irony in this portrayal of Nazis as the bulwark of Western civilization against the Russian hordes from the East. It was, after all, the Russians who broke the back of Nazism in World War II as Hitler sought to subjugate Europe and destroy Western civilization as we know it.
That the Nazis are now being depicted as defenders of Western ideals has to be the ultimate man-bites-dog story. But it goes essentially unreported in the New York Times and Washington Post as does the inconvenient presence of other Nazis holding prominent positions in the post-coup regime, including Andriy Parubiy, who was the military commander of the Maidan protests and served as the first national security chief of the Kiev regime. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass.”]

The Nazi Reality

Regarding the Azov battalion, the Post and Times have sought to bury the Nazi reality, but both have also acknowledged it in passing. For instance, on Aug. 10, 2014, a Times’ article mentioned the neo-Nazi nature of the Azov battalion in the last three paragraphs of a lengthy story on another topic.

“The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat,” the Times reported.

“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Whites Out Ukraine’s Brownshirts.”]Similarly, the Post published a lead story last Sept. 12 describing the Azov battalion in flattering terms, saving for the last three paragraphs the problematic reality that the fighters are fond of displaying the Swastika:

“In one room, a recruit had emblazoned a swastika above his bed. But Kirt [a platoon leader] … dismissed questions of ideology, saying that the volunteers — many of them still teenagers — embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of ‘romantic’ idea.”
Other news organizations have been more forthright about this Nazi reality. For instance, the conservative London Telegraph published an article by correspondent Tom Parfitt, who wrote: “Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’… should send a shiver down Europe’s spine.
“Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”
Based on interviews with militia members, the Telegraph reported that some of the fighters doubted the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis.
Andriy Biletsky, the Azov commander, “is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly,” according to the Telegraph article which quoted a commentary by Biletsky as declaring: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
The Telegraph questioned Ukrainian authorities in Kiev who acknowledged that they were aware of the extremist ideologies of some militias but insisted that the higher priority was having troops who were strongly motivated to fight.
Azov fighters even emblazon the Swastika and the SS insignia on their helmets. NBC News reported: “Germans were confronted with images of their country’s dark past … when German public broadcaster ZDF showed video of Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi symbols on their helmets in its evening newscast.”
But it’s now clear that far-right extremism is not limited to the militias sent to kill ethnic Russians in the east or to the presence of a few neo-Nazi officials who were rewarded for their roles in last February’s coup. The fanaticism is present at the center of the Kiev regime, including its deputy foreign minister who speaks casually about a “full-scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.

An Orwellian World

In a “normal world,” U.S. and European journalists would explain to their readers how insane all this is; how a dispute over the pace for implementing a European association agreement while also maintaining some economic ties with Russia could have been worked out within the Ukrainian political system, that it was not grounds for a U.S.-backed “regime change” last February, let alone a civil war, and surely not nuclear war.

But these are clearly not normal times. To a degree that I have not seen in my 37 years covering Washington, there is a totalitarian quality to the West’s current “group think” about Ukraine with virtually no one who “matters” deviating from the black-and-white depiction of good guys in Kiev vs. bad guys in Donetsk and Moscow.
And, if you want to see how the “objective” New York Times dealt with demonstrations in Moscow and other Russian cities protesting last year’s coup against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, read Sunday’s dispatch by the Times’ neocon national security correspondent Michael R. Gordon, best known as the lead writer with Judith Miller on the infamous “aluminum tube” story in 2002, helping to set the stage for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Here’s how Gordon explained the weekend’s anti-coup protests: “The official narrative as reported by state-run television in Russia, and thus accepted by most Russians, is that the uprising in Ukraine last year was an American-engineered coup, aided by Ukrainian Nazis, and fomented to overthrow Mr. Yanukovych, a pro-Russian president.”
In other words, the Russians are being brainwashed while the readers of the New York Times are getting their information from an independent news source that would never be caught uncritically distributing government propaganda, another example of the upside-down Orwellian world that Americans now live in. [See, for example, “NYT Retracts Russian Photo Scoop.”]
In our land of the free, there is no “official narrative” and the U.S. government would never stoop to propaganda. Everyone just happily marches in lockstep behind the conventional wisdom of a faultless Kiev regime that “shares our values” and can do no wrong — while ignoring the brutality and madness of coup leaders who deploy Nazis and invite a nuclear holocaust for the world.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

General Philip “Strangelove” Blasts EU Peace Overtures As “completely unacceptable”

NATO top commander in Europe says ‘military option’ possible in Ukraine

Russia-Today 
U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)
U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

NATO’s commander in chief says the West should not rule out arming Ukraine. General Philip Breedlove said no troops would be sent to the region, but providing Kiev with weapons and equipment was on the cards.

Speaking to reporters at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Breedlove said: “I don’t think we should preclude out of hand the possibility of the military option.”

His strong comments come as the US is considering sending weapons to help Kiev in its fight against anti-government militias.

The chief commander of NATO said the proposal made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine was “completely unacceptable,” and added “there is no conversation about putting boots on the ground.”

The head of the Russian Duma committee on CIS affairs and Eurasian integration, Leonid Slutsky, slammed Breedlove’s comments as“absolutely cynical.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Munich and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, while US Vice-President Joe Biden is also due to give a speech.READ MORE: 30,000 troops, 6 rapid units: NATO increases military power in Eastern Europe

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has already said the organization’s Response Force in Europe may increase to 30,000 troops – more than double the current 13,000 – with the majority to be posted near Russia’s borders.

However, there are reports that NATO and the US have been arming the Kiev forces. Russia’s ambassador to the organization, Aleksandr Grushko, says “there is a bulk of evidence that Western-made arms are being used in Ukraine,” mentioning lethal munitions such as NATO standard artillery shells. He has asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to investigate the claims.

READ MORE: US mulls providing Kiev forces with ‘defensive’ weapons – report

Moscow has urged Washington not to send weapons to Ukraine, which could include military hardware currently being pulled out of Afghanistan. The White House admitted on February 5 that arming Kiev could increase bloodshed in the region.

“They are telling us in NATO they aren’t supplying anything, that lethal weapons are not supplied [to Ukraine] … that NATO has no [standard] arms and all weapons are national and there are no NATO systems as such. In reality, this is not true,” Grushko said.

READ MORE: Kerry in Kiev: Shifting blame from Poroshenko govt as US mulls arms for Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has asked the West to provide his country with weapons on numerous occasions. US President Barack Obama is expected to make his decision on the possibility of sending lethal aid to Ukraine next week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced during a visit to Kiev.

The secretary of state says Obama’s choice will be based on his [Kerry’s] comments and recommendations following his visit to the country, and will also take into account Angela Merkel’s visit to Ukraine.

The question of supplying Kiev with weapons seems to have split the EU-US alliance. France, Germany and Britain amongst others have already ruled out sending lethal aid to Ukraine, but the Baltic States and Poland are keen on the idea.

“More weapons in this area will not bring us closer to a solution, and will not end the suffering of the population,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels.

READ MORE: Putin meets Merkel, Hollande behind closed doors in Moscow

“ISIS” Fighters In Standard Issue “Desert Storm” Boots and Fatigues

ISIS DESERT STORM SOURCE

EU Follows Obama’s Lead Voting To Open the Armories of Europe for Ukraine

[SEE:  Obama’s Russian War Resolution Passes By 411 to 23]

Russia accuses European parliament of gunning for war

kyiv post

President Petro Poroshenko gives a speech as he hands over new military equipment to the Ukrainian forces near the city of Zhytomyr, some 140 km from Kiev, on January 5, 2015.
© SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP

Russian officials have accused the European Union of “militancy” in a bitter response to the Jan. 15 European parliament resolution giving member states carte blanche to supply arms to Ukraine.

The head of the Russian Federation Council committee on international affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, denounced the resolution as “especially militant.”

“The European parliamentarians discourage those who are trying to look for dialogue with Russia, not confrontation,” he said.

The European parliament condemned Russia’s “aggressive and expansionist policy, which constitutes a threat to the unity and independence of Ukraine and poses a potential threat to the EU itself.”

In its resolution, parliament urged the European Council to keep in place tough sanctions against Russia and even proposed broadening them into the nuclear and international financial sectors if Putin’s government continues to destabilize Ukraine.

The resolution went on to state that “there are now no objections or legal restrictions to prevent Member States from providing defensive arms to Ukraine” and that “the EU should explore ways to support the Ukrainian government in enhancing its defence capabilities and the protection of Ukraine’s external borders.”

Aleksey Pushkov, the head of the foreign affairs Committee of the Russian Duma, called the resolution “banal and dangerous.”

“By calling to maintain and even enhance sanctions against Russia the European Parliament is supporting tension in Europe,” Pushkov added.

The European Parliament resolved to support the EU’s existing policy of refusing to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and welcomed recently adopted additional sanctions on investment, services and trade relating to Crimea and Sevastopol.

It also highlighted Russia’s “information war” in Europe and called on the EU officials to develop a plan to counter Russian propaganda with their own Russian language programming.

Yet Ukraine was also disappointed with the resolution, which fell short of describing the Russian-backed separatists as terrorists.

President Petro Poroshenko had claimed on Jan. 13 that the European Parliament was preparing to call on the leaders of European Union to place the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic on their list of terrorist organizations.

But European MPs instead condemned “acts of terrorism and criminal behavior of the separatists and other irregular forces in eastern Ukraine,” adding that “according to credible sources, Russia continues to support the separatist militias through a steady flow of military equipment, mercenaries and regular Russian units, including main battle tanks, sophisticated anti-aircraft systems and artillery.”

The Russian war — using proxies and, when needed, Russian regular army troops — in eastern Ukraine has already taken more than 4,700 lives, according to United Nations estimates. On Dec. 18, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law allowing for economic and military support to Ukraine, but the current American policy remains not to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons.

Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be reached at grytsenko@kyivpost.com

The Brilliant Pentagon Plan To Ignite Holy War In the Middle East and the Unacceptable Price That Civilians Must Pay

[SEE:  America’s “Islamists” Go Where Oilmen Fear to Tread ;  f the Script Calls for Credible “Bad Guys,” Then Invent Some! ]

New Excuse for Greater CIA Involvement in Iraq

Lobe Log

nusra-Syria

by Wayne White

With a long history of misguided, damaging American intervention and meddling in the Middle East, the reported CIA effort to target the al-Nusra Front in Syria by helping Iraqi anti-terrorism units to attack its roots in Iraq seems to be the former and possibly destined to be the latter.

The Sunni Arab politics of Iraq, already complicated by the 2003 American invasion, have been further harmed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s unremitting hostility toward Iraq’s Sunni Arab community. He and his Shi’a cronies bitterly opposed the American deal with Sunni Arab insurgents back in late 2006 through 2008, and attempted to undermine the arrangement while US-Sunni Arab Awakening efforts to take down much of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) were in progress.

In the years since, Maliki has been rather consistent in his exclusion of the bulk of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs from the Baghdad political mainstream. He has driven away many of those who have sought or secured office using the machinery of so-called “de-Ba’thification” and has even purged, assassinated or arrested large numbers of former Awakening cadres as well as various other key Sunni Arabs, often on trumped up charges of terrorism (or no formal charges at all — frequently employing his own extrajudicial security forces or Iraq’s mainly Shi’a Anti-Terrorism Service, which answers directly to him).

In this context, it is hardly surprising that a robust measure of Sunni Arab extremism flourishes in Iraq (apparently more now than back in 2008 when most Sunni Arabs were, by contrast, relatively more war-weary and eager for some sort of enduring engagement with the government in Baghdad). Resentment over Maliki’s disinterest in anything that would re-integrate Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority into much of the country’s core activities has done a lot to sustain a drumfire of AQI bombings inside Iraq and, since late 2011, sent gaggles of Islamic fighters from Iraq’s Sunni Arab northwest into the raging battle for Syria.

Al-Nusra probably is to a large extent an arm of AQI, as the US alleges, but also could be the recipient of many Iraqi fighters simply enraged over the plight of Sunni Arabs in their own country more generally. Additionally, there are quite a few historic tribal and family connections that extend far beyond the Syrian-Iraqi border, making events in Syria that much more palpably personal for quite a few Sunni Arabs inside Iraq.

So al-Nusra most likely is more than an organization; a phenomenon welling up from the profound resentment among many Sunni Arabs toward hostile political orders in both countries. If so, that’s not something that can be surgically extracted. Unfortunately, there always is the possibility that somewhere down the road a frustrated Washington (after Baghdad inevitably fails to address al-Nusra, just as it has been unable to deal a crippling blow to AQI) might think drones offer such a capability. If, however, they ever were employed over Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, the anger currently aimed primarily at the Maliki government and the Assad regime would become far more focused on the US.

Al-Nusra clearly is an unwelcome and dangerous player on the opposition side amidst the fighting in Syria. Yet, the sheer length, brutality, mass destruction, horrific casualties and more than a million refugees generated by the violence so far, predictably have rendered more extreme certain elements of the opposition. The seeming rise in regime-like rebel atrocities most likely is linked to some extent to the duration of the carnage.

The US already has become unpopular in broad Syrian opposition and popular circles for not providing desperately needed military assistance. At first, this frustration centered upon frantic requests for a US/NATO no fly zone over Syria. Since hope for that evaporated, attention shifted to arms and ammunition needed by rebels to take on regime-armored vehicles and air power. Some oppositionists in Syria may understand why the US remains wary of providing surface to air missiles that could very well fall into the hands of international terrorist groups, but anti-tank rockets are less of a concern in that respect. Yet, Washington decided not to send any arms whatsoever to opposition fighters — even vetted ones — late last summer and once again recently.

The US designation of al-Nusra as a terrorist group does not appear to have reduced that group’s high military profile as the tip of the opposition’s combat spear against the forces of the Assad regime. And involving the US in a campaign against al-Nusra’s support base in Iraq now could easily be perceived more broadly as being anti-Sunni Arab. After all, many of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs might ask pointedly why the US has chosen not to take a stronger stand against Maliki’s ongoing persecution of and human rights violations against Iraq’s Sunni Arab community — concerns that extend far beyond AQI and its supporters.

Iraq essentially remains in a state of sectarian conflict with Maliki playing the leading role as provocateur. The opposition effort to take down the Assad regime in Syria also has become, in large measure, a sectarian conflict.

By doing little to cross Maliki about his mistreatment of Sunni Arabs, going after al-Nusra in Iraq and providing meager support to the Syrian opposition, Washington potentially is setting itself up to be viewed — at least by Sunni Arab participants in these struggles — as anti-Sunni Arab across much of the greater Arab al-Jazira region as well as the northern Levant. The US faces enough grievances in the region as it is. Why add more to the list?

Japan probes alleged cover-up at nuclear plant

Japan probes alleged cover-up at nuclear plant

By David Guttenfelder, AP

Workers in protective suits wait to enter the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station in Okuma, Japan, on Nov. 12.

 

TOKYO (AP) – Japanese authorities are investigating subcontractors on suspicion that they forced workers at the tsunami-hit nuclear plant to underreport the amount of radiation they were exposed to so they could stay on the job longer.

Labor officials said Sunday that an investigation had begun over the weekend following media reports of a cover-up at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which suffered multiple meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters.

A subcontractor of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, acknowledged having nine workers cover their dosimeters with lead plates late last year so the instrument would indicate a lower level of radiation exposure.

The investigation marks the first time the government has looked into the case, believed to be part of a widespread practice at the plant since it was hit by the worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl.

The government more than doubled the emergency radiation exposure limit soon after the accident, but lowered it back to the previous level in December. The law now sets the exposure limit at 50 millisieverts per year, or a five-year total of 100 millisieverts.

Dosimeter readings are crucial personal records that determine how much longer a worker can stay on a plant job. Work at highly contaminated areas could quickly eat up a worker’s quota.

The issue reflects a growing concern among the government and TEPCO about how to secure a continuous flow of workers to finish cleaning up the plant. Officials say it will take about 40 years to decommission the plant’s four wrecked reactors — three with melted cores and another with a spent fuel pool in a shattered building.

Labor officials made onsite inspections at the Fukushima plant to examine dosimeter readings of the workers and other records, said Yasuhiro Kishi, an official at the Fukushima Labor Bureau.

Health and Labor Ministry officials repeatedly issued warnings to TEPCO during the first few months of the crisis about the company’s lax oversight of workers’ exposures. Officials have also said TEPCO had several workers share a dosimeter not just early in the crisis when the equipment was in short supply due to tsunami damage, but even after a full stock had been regained.

Takashi Wada, president of Fukushima-based subcontractor Build-Up, acknowledged this weekend that the dosimeter falsification had taken place. He said a supervisor of the group of nine workers came up with the idea when his dosimeter alarm went off during his short preview visit to the area where the workers were assigned.

“We should have never done that,” Wada told an interview with TBS network broadcast Saturday.

Fukushima Radioactive Seawater Passes Halfway Point To US West Coast (update: March 2012)

Radioactive Seawater Impact Map (update: March 2012)

ASR, a global coastal and marine consulting firm, is changing the way the world’s coasts and oceans are managed.

CONTACT

 ASR’s team includes experienced Ph.D. scientists, accomplished environmental business leaders, engineers, and dedicated research and programming staff. Our combination of scientific expertise, environmental stewardship, practical business experience, and technological knowledge allows us to provide proven and effective solutions for our clients’ complex challenges.

We use a Lagrangian particles dispersal method to track where free floating material (fish larvae, algae, phytoplankton, zooplankton…) present in the sea water near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station plant could have gone since the earthquake on March 11th. THIS IS NOT A REPRESENTATION OF THE RADIOACTIVE PLUME CONCENTRATION. Since we do not know exactly how much contaminated water and at what concentration was released into the ocean, it is impossible to estimate the extent and dilution of the plume. However, field monitoring by TEPCOshowed concentration of radioactive Iodine and Cesium higher than the legal limit during the next two months following the event (with a peak at more than 100 Bq/cm3 early April 2011 for I-131 as shown by the following picture).Source: TEPCO

Assuming that a part of the passive biomass could have been contaminated in the area, we are trying to track where the radionuclides are spreading as it will eventually climb up the food chain. The computer simulation presented here is obtained by continuously releasing particles at the site during the 2 months folllowing the earthquake and then by tracing the path of these particles. The dispersal model is ASR’s Pol3DD. The model is forced by hydrodynamic data from theHYCOM/NCODA system which provides on a weekly basis, daily oceanic current in the world ocean. The resolution in this part of the Pacific Ocean is around 8km x 8km cells. We are treating only the sea surface currents. The dispersal model keeps a trace of their visits in the model cells. The results here are expressed in number of visit per surface area of material which has been in contact at least once with the highly concentrated radioactive water.

Court rejects plea to make public SIT report on Gujarat riots

[SEE:  31 Convicted In Gujarat Riots Case for Burning 33 Muslims Alive ; Gujarat riots: Indian SC orders inquiry against Modi]

Court rejects plea to make public SIT report on Gujarat riots

PTI

Zakia Jafri, wife of 2002 post-Godhra riots victim Ehsaan Jafri during her visit to her old house at Gulbarg Society, on the tenth anniversary of the carnage in Ahmedabad.

PTIZakia Jafri, wife of 2002 post-Godhra riots victim Ehsaan Jafri during her visit to her old house at Gulbarg Society, on the tenth anniversary of the carnage in Ahmedabad.

A local court on Saturday rejected a plea by the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots, for making public the SIT report on the riots.

Metropolitan magistrate M.M. Bhatt, while rejecting the plea, said the Special Investigation Team (SIT) is yet to submit material related to the report.

As per the Supreme Court order after SIT submits its full report on the complaint of Zakia Jafri, conclusion was to be drawn by the metropolitan court.

Now that the investigation team has not yet submitted the full report, no conclusion can be drawn at this stage. Hence no action is required on the report now, the court said.

The court had earlier directed the SIT to submit its full report by March 15.

The court, in a September 2011 order, had directed the SIT to file its final report before the magistrate court and had said that if the magistrate decides to close the case he has to provide the full SIT report to the complainant and hear her, before closing it.

Last month, the SIT had submitted its final report in a sealed cover on a complaint by Ms. Jafri demanding that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other top politicians, police officers and bureaucrats should be made accused for the 2002 riots cases.

Earlier, SIT consul R.S. Jamaur had opposed Ms. Jafri’s plea saying that they have not submitted a complete report in the court yet.

He had argued that the court would first go through the report and decide as to what to do with it.

However, during arguments in previous hearing of the case on February 29, Ms. JAfri’s lawyers had argued that the SIT has no locus standi to oppose the opening of the report in the court.

They had contended that the report once submitted in the court becomes a public document and anybody can access it.

Hence, they being a complainant cannot be denied access to it.

Her lawyers had also stated in the last hearing that since this is a final report submitted by the SIT after completing the investigations, it is only the court which can decide on the issues related to the report.

Returning From Iraq, Soldiers Find Themselves On Turnaround To Afghanistan

[As so many of us have been predicting, soldiers withdrawn from Iraq will be recycled into Afghanistan, to replace those allegedly being “withdrawn” there, or sent-on to the next war in Asia or Africa.  About now, American GIs are realizing what assholes they have been in signing away their lives, by volunteering to serving in the never-ending wars.  Remember, whatever you have to go through, you volunteered for it.]

Soldiers just back from Iraq get new orders: Afghanistan

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) — Soldiers who just returned from Iraq are among several thousand being ordered to Afghanistan in six months as part of a mission designed to beef up Afghan forces ahead of a planned 2014 U.S. military withdrawal, officials said.

News of the pending Afghanistan deployments came as families at bases across the country were celebrating the return in recent days of troops who turned off the lights at a number of U.S. bases ahead of an end-of-the-year deadline to leave Iraq.

“We are glad that we have brought all soldiers back home in time for Christmas to spend with loved ones. We do have to put information out about an upcoming mission, though,” the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, said Tuesday on its Facebook Page.

In the posting, the brigade said it was one of four selected to “support a Security Force Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in early summer.”

“We just received initial planning orders so lots of details are unknown,” it said. “…The mission is part of the transition from combat operations to advisory mission as we did in Iraq and is a sign of progress.”

Maj. Carla Thomas, a brigade spokeswoman, confirmed the validity of the Facebook announcement.

The new mission is part of an overall U.S. military exit strategy from Afghanistan that moves troops from a combat role to advise-and-assist positions that commanders and analysts say will significantly scale back operations ahead of President Barack Obama’s self-imposed deadline to leave the country.

Earlier this year, the United States outlined its plan to withdraw its troops, beginning by pulling 33,000 “surge” troops deployed to help quell the violence by the end of 2012. The remaining 68,000 troops would be withdrawn by the end of 2014.

News of the deployments comes as the Obama administration pushes to accelerate the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, a plan that many military commanders have said is unreasonable in a country still trying to gain its security footing.

“I don’t think we are going to turn around guys who spent time in Iraq and put them on planes to Afghanistan … without there being a clear indication that the Obama administration wants to continue the acceleration of the withdrawal,” said Bill Roggio, Editor of The Long War Journal & Senior Fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“U.S. commanders want to stop with the withdrawal of the 33,000 (surge troops.) They want to halt it.”

Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, has said he would like to keep a U.S. “military presence” in Afghanistan beyond 2014 when NATO is scheduled to withdraw its forces. Allen suggested the presence could last as long as 2016 when the Afghan Air Force is completed.

Allen told reporters last week there is “no daylight” between him and the White House on this idea. Allen said he wants to shift the U.S. presence to an advisory capacity in the coming months and then continue to do that mission after 2014.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has asked Allen to review the counterinsurgency strategy and determine what changes are needed. Allen said he has to complete the review before he can decide on the rate of drawdown of current U.S. force levels.

The new mission in Afghanistan somewhat mirrors the U.S. exit strategy in Iraq, which used advise and assist teams to improve counterterrorism operations and train security forces.

Just like in Iraq, small teams of American troops will work and live among security forces, and will help coordinate military operations, according to comments Allen made to reporters last week.

In its Facebook posting, the 4th Brigade Combat Team said those who would be deployed in advise-and-assist roles would be senior enlisted personnel, ranging from master sergeants to colonels.

The deployment was expected to last nine months, though it was unclear how many members of the brigade will deploy.

Also being deployed are troops from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Georgia; the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colorado; and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The brigade deployments were first reported this week by Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that caters to military personnel.

Under an Army policy, troops are given one month of dwell time for every month they are deployed. In the case of 1st Armored Division’s brigade, which returned in December after less than six months in Iraq, its soldiers could be sent to Afghanistan as early as May.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment. Messages left early Wednesday by CNN at public affairs offices at the 3rd Infantry Division, the 4th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division were not immediately returned.

Reactions at Fort Bliss were mixed with some soldiers and families telling CNN by telephone that they were resigned to the specter of an Afghanistan deployment, while others said they were surprised elements of the brigade would be deployed so soon after returning from Iraq.

None of the soldiers or their family members were willing to be quoted, citing possible repercussions over speaking to the media without prior approval.

Responses to the brigade’s Facebook post, though, revealed the feelings of spouses and family members.

“All we can do is enjoy the time we have with them,” one person wrote.

Another wrote: “Not even home a week. How sad.”

Questions remain about the stability of Afghan forces, with some questioning whether an Iraq-style exit strategy can work in Afghanistan.

“Given that we are 10 years into this, my confidence level is pretty low that we can turn the Afghan forces around,” Roggio said.

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began October 7, 2001, with an air campaign that was followed within weeks by a ground invasion. President Barack Obama has called it “the longest-running war in the nation’s history”.

As the United States turned its attention toward Iraq, insurgent violence in Afghanistan flared against Afghan civilians and security forces as well as the U.S. and its coalition partners.

In 2009, President Obama authorized a surge of 33,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to combat the violence.

Earlier this year, the president announced a plan to withdraw its troops. The move was followed by withdrawal announcements by most of the NATO nations.

CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

Russian Drilling Platform Sinks While Being Towed Near Sakhalin Island

In the Okhotsk Sea drilling platform sank Four people were killed

Photo: Michael Pochuev / Kommersant
Drilling platform “Kola” capsized and sank 200 miles off the coast of Sakhalin. The accident killed four, rescued 14 people. Rescue operations are continuing. The dangers of ecological catastrophe not.
“Now it is difficult to say how many will last a life-saving work. Similarly, they will go before dark, and if necessary will continue tomorrow,” – said the head of the local central board MES of Russia Teimuraz Kasaev. The fate of several dozen people remains unknown. Managed to rescue 14 people, aware of four deaths, but data on the number of people were on the platform apart. According to different information, “Kola” was from 57 to 76 people.

The rescue operation is carried out in a heavy storm. It involves naval forces: on-site works icebreaker “Magadan”, is expected to approach the ship, “SMITH, Sakhalin,” and courts “Atlas” and “Yuri Tarakurov.” Aircraft left the place of disaster due to the onset of darkness.

Platform “Kola” owned “Arcticmorneftegasrazvedka” and assigned to the port of Murmansk. The platform was built in 1985 in Finland. The total length of Setup 69.2 m, width – 80 m. Since early September, “Kola” conducted exploratory drilling on the continental shelf of western Kamchatka for “Gazflot”.Upon completion, was to go to Vietnam, stopping along the eastern coast of Sakhalin Island in the Bay Zyriansky, informs ITAR-TASS .
The distress signal was received from the platform on Sunday at 2.24 Moscow time, about 6 o’clock in the morning it sank. The main cause of the accident investigation considers towing without the stormy weather. In fact the incident a criminal case under Part 3. 263 of the Criminal Code (violation of safety rules and operation of maritime transport, resulting in the death of two or more persons). Also check the technical condition of the rig and ship captains.

Threat of environmental catastrophe in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, no, as supplies of fuel to the “Kola” were small and were in sealed containers.

Natalia Romashkova

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

[Half of the American population lives in poverty and our government spends nearly  two-thirds of a trillion dollars to expand our wars.]

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

WASHINGTON (AP) – Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans, almost 1 in 2, have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that is shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

“Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too ‘rich’ to qualify,” said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michiganpublic policy professor who specializes in poverty.

“The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal,” he said. “If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years.”

Congressional Republicans and Democrats are sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax cut, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that also could trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending. That is money set aside for payment to individual Americans under such programs as the Social Security retirement scheme or the Medicare health plan.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, questioned whether some people classified as poor or low-income actually suffer material hardship. He said that while safety-net programs have helped many Americans, they have gone too far, citing poor people who live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.

“There’s no doubt the recession has thrown a lot of people out of work and incomes have fallen,” Rector said. “As we come out of recession, it will be important that these programs promote self-sufficiency rather than dependence and encourage people to look for work.”

Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold — roughly $45,000 a year for a family of four — because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half a family’s income.

States in the South and West had the highest shares of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, which have scaled back or eliminated aid programs for the needy. By raw numbers, such families were most numerous in California and Texas, each with more than 1 million.

The struggling Americans include Zenobia Bechtol, 18, in Austin, Texas, who earns minimum wage as a part-time pizza delivery driver. Bechtol and her 7-month-old baby were recently evicted from their bedbug-infested apartment after her boyfriend, an electrician, lost his job in the sluggish economy.

After an 18-month job search, Bechtol’s boyfriend now works as a waiter and the family of three is temporarily living with her mother.

“We’re paying my mom $200 a month for rent, and after diapers and formula and gas for work, we barely have enough money to spend,” said Bechtol, a high school graduate who wants to go to college. “If it weren’t for food stamps and other government money for families who need help, we wouldn’t have been able to survive.”

About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That is up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.

The new measure of poverty takes into account medical, commuting and other living costs. Doing that helped push the number of people below 200 percent of the poverty level up from 104 million, or 1 in 3 Americans, that was officially reported in September.

Broken down by age, children were most likely to be poor or low-income, about 57 percent, followed by older people, those over 65. By race and ethnicity, Hispanics topped the list at 73 percent, followed by blacks, Asians and non-Hispanic whites.

Even by traditional measures, many working families are hurting.

Following the recession that began in late 2007, the share of working families who are low income has risen for three consecutive years to 31.2 percent, or 10.2 million. That proportion is the highest in at least a decade, up from 27 percent in 2002, according to a new analysis by the Working Poor Families Project and the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group based in Washington.

Among low-income families, about one-third were considered poor while the remainder, 6.9 million, earned income just above the poverty line. Many states phase out eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid, tax credit and other government aid programs for low-income Americans as they approach 200 percent of the poverty level.

The majority of low-income families, 62 percent, spent more than one-third of their earnings on housing, surpassing a common guideline for what is considered affordable. By some census surveys, child-care costs consume close to another one-fifth.

Paychecks for low-income families are shrinking. The inflation-adjusted average earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have fallen from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000, and earnings for the next 20 percent have remained flat at $37,000. In contrast, higher-income brackets had significant wage growth since 1979, with earnings for the top 5 percent of families climbing 64 percent to more than $313,000.

A survey of 29 cities conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors being released Thursday points to a gloomy outlook for those on the lower end of the income scale.

Many mayors cited the challenges of meeting increased demands for food assistance, expressing particular concern about possible cuts to federal programs such as food stamps and WIC, which assists low-income pregnant women and mothers. Unemployment led the list of causes of hunger in cities, followed by poverty, low wages and high housing costs.

Across the 29 cities, about 27 percent of people needing emergency food aid did not receive it. Kansas City, Missouri, Nashville, Tennessee, Sacramento, California, and Trenton, New Jersey, were among the cities that pointed to increases in the cost of food and declining food donations, while Mayor Michael McGinn in Seattle, Washington, cited an unexpected spike in food requests from immigrants and refugees, particularly from Somalia, Myanmar and Bhutan.

Among those requesting emergency food assistance, 51 percent were in families, 26 percent were employed, 19 percent were elderly and 11 percent were homeless.

“People who never thought they would need food are in need of help,” said Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who co-chairs a mayors’ task force on hunger and homelessness.

———

Online:

Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov

U.S. Conference of Mayors: http://www.usmayors.org/

Caspian Ecology Teeters On the Brink

CREDIT: NPA GROUP
Science 18 January 2002:
Vol. 295 no. 5554 pp. 430-433
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5554.430

As nations around the world’s largest lake bicker over oil rights, the wildlife of the Caspian Sea is in a state of siege from which it may never recover

ASTRAKHAN, RUSSIA—Lev Khuraskin stepped gingerly across the shoal, avoiding the dead seagulls and cormorants rotting in the sand and their squawking, orphaned chicks. The rail-thin biologist, his face leathered from decades on the sun-drenched Caspian Sea, crept up to a seal lolling near the water and straddled it, pressing his hand against the back of its neck to subdue it as a colleague skittered over to draw blood. Fit seals don’t like being messed with, but this emaciated and listless male submitted calmly. “It’s very ill,” says the team’s leader, Vladimir Blinov of VECTOR, Russia’s State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology.

The seal that lay dying on Malyi Zhemchuzhnyi Island is one of the latest casualties in the Caspian Sea’s unfolding ecological drama. Sturgeon, prized for their caviar, are hovering near enough to oblivion that three of the five nations around the Caspian’s shores—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia—agreed last June to an unprecedented 6-month ban on fishing the species. Too little, too late, some fear. “The question is whether the species can be saved at all,” says Lisa Speer of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit based in New York City.

Adding to the mounting horror of ecologists, Mnemiopsis leidyi, a comb jelly notorious for having devastated anchovy populations in the Black Sea, invaded the Caspian a few years ago. New findings suggest that this voracious free-floater has done a similar number on the Caspian’s kilka, or sprat, by “driving numerous species of zooplankton toward extinction,” says ecologist Henri Dumont of Ghent University in Belgium. Mnemiopsis is more bad news for the seals, which feed on kilka and are already reeling from epidemics of canine distemper virus in 1997 and 2000 that killed thousands.

If the Caspian’s wildlife only had natural invaders to deal with, that would be bad enough, but this lake—the largest in the world—is a pressure cooker of political and commercial forces. Ranged around its shores are the growing economy of Russia in the north and fundamentalist Iran in the south, with Muslim ex-Soviet republics in between. Both Russia and the United States are vying for influence in the region, a process accelerated by the war in nearby Afghanistan.

Complicating the picture are the Caspian’s vast oil reserves. The Soviets largely ignored this resource, but the newly independent republics are keen to exploit it. Production in the Caspian is expected to ramp up fivefold to 5 million barrels a day by 2020. “For the time being, there’s no proof that oil exploration or extraction will pose a major hazard to the Caspian environment—if it’s done properly,” says Arkadiusz Labon, a Toronto-based fisheries consultant who coordinated a major fish stock survey in the Caspian last year. However, he and others note, a major spill—always a possibility in this geologically unstable region (see sidebar)—could spell disaster.

Oil in troubled waters

Two millennia ago the Caspian was a sacred place for Zoroastrians, who would meditate at temples near jets of flaming gases that vented from the naphtha-rich sands of the Apsheron Peninsula, a nub of land jutting into the Caspian in present-day Azerbaijan. Later generations of Persians, still awestruck by the pillars of fire, recognized a commodity and by the late 1500s were scooping petroleum from shallow wells.

True development of the oil fields began in 1875 when Ludvig and Robert Nobel, brothers of renowned Swedish industrialist Alfred, bought up land near Baku. Boring deeper wells, they and their crew learned how to work Apsheron’s fickle semifluid sands. Oil production increased by 50 times over the next decade, reaching 1 million tons a year. When after a brief independence Azerbaijan was absorbed into the Soviet Union, the Nobels were out and central planning was in.

Although the Soviets discovered three giant oil fields in the Caspian basin, they left them mostly untapped. They found it easier and less costly to extract oil from their vast petroleum reserves in western Siberia and even went as far as banning offshore drilling in the north Caspian to protect the sturgeon’s feeding grounds and spawning migration routes.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, oil investments from the West poured into the Caspian, turning the region into a “Wild East.” But although oil exploration has not yet had a major impact on local ecology, the same cannot be said for fishers out to make a fast buck by harvesting the Caspian’s other precious resource: caviar.

Of fish and jellyfish

With their long snouts and ridged, scaleless bodies, the young sturgeon swimming circles in a glass tank at the Caspian Fisheries Research Institute here in Astrakhan look more like baby dinosaurs than fish. But having long outlived the dinosaurs since debuting in the fossil record 200 million years ago, the venerable sturgeon is facing its toughest test yet. The Caspian is home to the world’s biggest population of sturgeon. The sea’s four major varieties—stellate sturgeon, or sevruga (Acipenser stellatus), Russian sturgeon (A. guldenstadti), Persian sturgeon (A. persicus), and beluga (Huso huso)—supply about 90% of the total caviar harvested worldwide. It’s a lucrative commodity: As Science went to press, one firm, Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, was advertising sevruga caviar at $1448 per kilogram. Beluga roe, meanwhile, was fetching more than $2500 per kilogram. Russia alone says it hauled in $40 million last year from caviar exports, although some observers claim that the figure for legal exports was closer to $100 million.

The sturgeon’s enemies are legion, but poachers may be taking the heaviest toll. Last year they fueled a shadow caviar market estimated at $400 million, according to Russia’s Interior Ministry. Rampant poaching since the Soviet meltdown has sent sturgeon stocks crashing, with beluga numbers less than 10% of what they were 2 decades ago, the government estimates. Last year Russia began working with Interpol to try to crack down on smuggling, but most observers say it will take years, if not decades, to stamp it out. Other factors in the decline include dams on the Volga River that cut off access to spawning areas, and perhaps pollutants that accumulate in fat and may render eggs infertile. “The whole ecology of the rivers has changed,” says biologist Ellen Pikitch of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City.

Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) got three Caspian nations to agree to a 6-month moratorium on fishing sturgeon last June. Some experts contend that the ban, which ended on 1 January, did little good for the sturgeon, because it took hold after the main fishing season in the spring.

A recent census of Caspian fish corroborates that view. Last summer, the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP), a World Bank and European Union initiative, undertook a rare comprehensive survey of Caspian fish stocks. Over 6 weeks last August and September, the CEP team used sonar to chart and characterize fish populations everywhere but in the coastal waters of Turkmenistan, which did not allow access. Sonar is an imperfect technique, particularly for bottom-feeding fish like sturgeon, so the team captured and released fish as well.

Although the researchers are still analyzing their data, the emerging picture is dire indeed. “We found very few mature sturgeon,” says Labon. “That’s a sure sign of dramatic overfishing.” As expected, the team found ample young sturgeon, indicating that hatcheries in the Volga delta and Iran have averted total calamity. But the hulking fish are late breeders, taking years to reach sexual maturity. That means poachers and other fishers will be netting more and more juveniles in an increasingly frustrating search for caviar.

Figure
Soon a scene of the past?

Russians haul in sturgeon on the Volga delta near Astrakhan.

CREDIT: HANS-JURGEN BURKARD, COURTESY OF CAVIAR EMPTOR

Labon argues that a 10-year fishing ban—without loopholes such as a permissible “scientific” catch—is essential to rescue the sturgeon from extinction. However, a total moratorium could backfire by driving the entire caviar trade underground, argues NRDC’s Speer. Her organization, for one, is campaigning for a ban on trade of beluga only, the most endangered species. It will make that pitch when the CITES standing committee on sturgeon meets in March to review this year’s proposed catch quotas. NRDC will also lobby the next conference of CITES parties in November to elevate beluga to the most endangered Appendix One list, which would ban beluga export from any signatory nation.

The sturgeon is not the only Caspian fish under siege; some other species are facing a more insidious, if spineless, threat. First sighted off the Iranian coast in 1998, the comb jelly Mnemiopsis within months had managed to swarm across much of the rest of the Caspian. The delicate, luminescent creature, looking more like a miniature starship than an animal, appears to have stowed away in the ballast water of ships in the Black Sea, reaching the Caspian via the Volga-Don Canal.

Based on the jelly’s voracious habits in the Black Sea, researchers expected it to gulp its way through the bottom of the Caspian’s food chain, grazing on zooplankton that are the staple of kilka and many other fish. Over the past couple of years, says Labon, professional fishers along the Caspian have been asking, “Where have all the kilka gone?” In Iranian waters, Ghent’s Dumont adds, “they don’t catch anything but jellies now.” The CEP fish survey spotted this decline. According to Labon, the survey found that kilka and herring populations “are severely depressed” compared to 2 years ago. His team is still crunching numbers to determine precisely how much these fish have declined.

A kilka crash is bad news for the fishing industry in Iran, where there’s a big market for the sprats. But for the beleaguered seals that feed on kilka, it could be a crushing blow.

Hunting a killer

It has been a tough few years for the Caspian’s seals. Two years ago, a mystery epidemic killed several thousand of them, including many young ones. A CEP seal ecotoxicology team, led by Susan Wilson of the Tara Seal Research Centre in Northern Ireland, and the VECTOR group—working independently—unmasked canine distemper virus as the likely villain (Science, 22 September 2000, p. 2017). When seals began dying in droves again last spring, both teams headed out to different parts of the Caspian to find out why.

Their preliminary, unpublished findings suggest that canine distemper is not the seals’ only foe. After sampling dead or dying seals washed up on the Apsheron Peninsula, Wilson’s team found that—unlike what they had observed in 2000—the victims were mostly adults. Analyzing tissue back in the lab along with samples from Iran and Turkmenistan, Wilson and her team so far have found no sign of canine distemper or any other virus.

FigureFigure
Hard times.

The CEP ecotoxicology team’s Hormoz Asadi observes a seal on the Apsheron Peninsula. The comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi (top) may have abetted last year’s die-off.

CREDITS: (TOP TO BOTTOM) LAURENCE P. MADIN/WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION; S. WILSON

Wilson’s team believes that pollution may be a contributor to last year’s die-off. The researchers are now testing their samples for levels of the pesticide DDT and other long-lived pollutants. Such chemicals are also the prime suspect in the seals’ plummeting birthrate, says Wilson. But she and her colleagues are pursuing other lines of inquiry, including bacterial infections and poor nutrition.

The VECTOR team’s findings add more intrigue. Blinov’s group says it detected a flu strain last spring, similar to one that jumped from birds into people in Hong Kong in 1997, in some of the dead seals they had sampled in 2000, as well as a nearly identical strain in a single sick seal in Russia’s Lake Baikal. “If avian viruses could overcome host barriers and infect humans in Hong Kong and cause pandemic outbreaks in seals,” says Blinov, “we thought, ‘What might occur tomorrow?’” Tests for virus in seals sampled last year on Malyi Zhemchuzhnyi Island are still under way, but they have come up negative so far.

That jibes with the CEP ecotox findings, but it fails to penetrate the mystery of where canine distemper is lurking, or whether the avian influenza that VECTOR spotted was a red herring or a continuing threat to the seals. Wilson speculates that canine distemper, at least, could reemerge in a couple of years. She notes that the evidence is looking more solid that distemper was behind a mass die-off in 1997 and may periodically afflict Caspian seals.

If canine distemper does resurface next year, the seals could be in for a double whammy. Both the CEP and VECTOR teams have reported that many ill or dead seals were underweight and some were emaciated, which may point to a food shortage. Wilson carried out a limited survey of seal feces collected on Apsheron last year and found that kilka appeared to make up only a tiny proportion of their diet, suggesting that the seals had to make do with less-nutritious prey. “We need to extend these diet studies,” Wilson says. But it does seem to bear the tentacle-marks of Mnemiopsis.

Dumont and other experts argue that steps must be taken quickly to rein in Mnemiopsis. After Mnemiopsislevels in the Caspian last fall exceeded those ever reached in the Black Sea, a scientific advisory committee called on littoral nations to approve plans to unleash a predator this spring to control the invader. Their choice was Beroe ovata, a heftier comb jelly that dines almost exclusively on MnemiopsisBeroe slipped into the Black Sea in 1997 and quickly brought the villain to heel. There, Mnemiopsis populations had plunged so low by last year that it was hard to find specimens for analysis. Beroe, says Dumont, “is almost too good to be true.”

Azerbaijan and Iran are pressing hard for Beroe to be introduced, but it’s unclear whether the other Caspian governments will climb aboard. Signs look unfavorable for agreement on something as contentious as biological pest control—no matter how benign Beroe would appear—when tensions are already running high over oil rights.

Political hardball

Like 49ers staking claims in California, the five littoral nations have asserted overlapping territorial claims in the Caspian itself. Last summer, Iranian gunships chased an Azeri research vessel out of waters claimed by both countries. A meeting planned for last October at which the countries had agreed to demarcate borders was abandoned after the 11 September terror attacks, although the leaders of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are scheduled to visit Moscow later this month in part to revive the negotiations.

FigureFigure
Eternal flames.

At the Surakhany Fire Temple, ancient Persians meditated on Baku’s perpetually burning hills, including the Kirmaky gas seep (top).

CREDIT: MIKE SIMMONS/CASP

The Caspian nations are playing hardball because their oil is considered a major prize by Western powers. The newly independent states could act as a counterweight to OPEC, because the Caspian oilfields would greatly augment the few reserves—including Siberia and the North Sea—not controlled by the Middle East-dominated cartel. Caspian oil “can offset [OPEC’s] efforts to keep prices high and their use of high prices for political dictates,” says Brenda Shaffer, research director of Harvard University’s Caspian Studies Program.

Apart from Russia, the three countries with the largest Caspian reserves—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan—have welcomed alliances with the West, which they think will help them convert their black gold into cash and limit Russian influence in their affairs. Beyond oil and gas, the region is important to the United States, which “needs to develop friends like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in the Muslim world, due to their clear separation of religion and state,” says Shaffer. Russia, meanwhile, has bolstered its sphere of influence by strengthening ties with Iran and forming alliances with other ex-Soviet littoral states.

Sound like a powder keg waiting to be lit? Quite so, says Terry Adams, a senior associate at Cambridge Energy Research Associates and founding president of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company oil consortium: “The seeds of future Caspian conflict were planted early.” And with an international effort to safeguard the Caspian’s ecology nowhere in sight, the lake itself can only suffer in the process.

Science. ISSN 0036-8075 (print), 1095-9203 (online)

Fracking Has Formerly Stable Ohio City Aquiver Over Earthquakes

Fracking Has Formerly Stable Ohio City Aquiver Over Earthquakes

Q

By Mark Niquette

When Youngstown, Ohio, shook on Sept. 29, Karen Fox thought her daughter was crashing down the stairs.

“It rumbled enough where you could hear the windows shaking,” Fox said in a telephone interview. “I ran downstairs and said, ‘My God, are you OK?’ And she looked at me and she says, ‘I was running upstairs to see if you were OK.’”

Earthquakes weren’t recorded around Youngstown until D&L Energy Inc. began injecting wastewater from drilling into a 9,300-foot disposal well in December 2010. From March through Nov. 25, there were nine in an area of about 4.5 square miles west of the shaft, according to the state-coordinated Ohio Seismic Network.

As hydraulic fracturing produces natural gas by forcing chemically treated water and sand underground, groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council question whether the risks of the process are worth it. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report Dec. 8 linked so-called fracking in Wyoming to contaminated groundwater. Now, with temblors in states including Ohio, Arkansas and Texas that researchers say may have been caused by wastewater wells, residents also have to worry about their houses falling apart, said Fox.

“Back in March, when these first started, nobody was thinking anything of it — it’s just Mother Nature,” said Fox, a 46-year-old medical secretary and president of the city’s West Side Citizen’s Coalition. As earthquakes continue to hit, “more people are getting more concerned.”

Not Our Fault

Scientists such as Jeffrey Dick, chairman of Youngstown State University’s geology department, said that though the quakes’ timing and location suggest wells may be to blame, more data is needed. The National Academy of Sciences has said a committee will release a report on the issue next year.

Ben Lupo, president and chief executive of D&L Energy, said in a telephone interview that he doesn’t think his well is causing them and that “if these things weren’t safe, we would not put them in.” The well wasn’t operating during the Nov. 25 earthquake because it was the day after Thanksgiving, he said.

About 7 million barrels of wastewater from drilling have been injected annually into Ohio wells since 1985 without incident because the practice is closely regulated by federal laws and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said Thomas E. Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a trade association with more than 1,450 members.

Surrendering to Panic

“There’s people that are simply opposed to oil and gas development, and they’ll seize on any issue, no matter what the issue is, and no matter what the facts, and try to use that to create hysteria,” Stewart said in a telephone interview from Granville.

The earthquakes in Youngstown, which is roughly equidistant from Cleveland and Pittsburgh, ranged from 2.1 to 2.7 on the Richter scale, the Ohio Seismic Network said. Earthquakes with magnitude of about 2.0 or less on the Richter scale, which has no upper limit, are not commonly felt by people, according to the U. S. Geological Survey. The Aug. 23 earthquake that had an epicenter in Virginia and was felt across the East Coast had a 5.8 magnitude.

New YorkPennsylvaniaMarylandWest Virginia, Ohio and parts of Kentucky and Tennessee sit atop the Marcellus and Utica shale formations and the states have been wrestling with how to regulate drilling and fracking to tap natural gas as deep as 12,000 feet below the earth’s surface. Governor John Kasich has said the practice “could change Ohio,” and has even proposed having his state, IndianaMichigan and Pennsylvania run their vehicle fleets on compressed natural gas.

Following the Fluid

Still, as companies including Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) and Halliburton Co. (HAL) are benefiting from fracking — and more disposal wells are drilled — Dick urged caution.

“You certainly don’t want have an injection well that’s coincident with earthquakes, and then five months from now we get a 5.5 magnitude quake that knocks down a couple buildings,” Dick said in a telephone interview from Youngstown.

The state required D&L Energy to conduct a test using radioactive material to trace whether the fluid being injected in the well is going only to the areas allowed by its permit, said Tom Tomastik, deputy chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management.

Blanket Ban

D&L Energy, a 26-year-old closely held company based in Youngstown, has agreed to put a concrete plug at the bottom of the well if tests show that fluid is reaching bedrock levels, Lupo said. There has been no unusual seismic activity at the state’s other 190 permitted injection wells, Tomastik said.

“Just to blanket say that we’re going to put a moratorium on drilling or a moratorium on disposal when we don’t really know what is happening, that’s, I don’t think, the way to go,” Tomastik said.

The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission did stop well disposal in August after a swarm of earthquakes. There were about 1,250 quakes recorded through July after two injection wells started operating last year, said Scott Ausbrooks, geohazards supervisor for the Arkansas Geological Survey in Little Rock.

Ausbrooks did a study with the University of Memphis and concluded there was “a plausible relationship between the injection wells and the earthquakes” after a previously unknown fault system was discovered, he said.

The state Oil and Gas Commission ordered that one injection well be shut down and operators agreed to stop using three others, “erring on the side of caution and public protection,” Shane Khoury, the commission’s deputy director and general counsel, said in a telephone interview.

Rocking Texas

After the wells were shut down, there were only four earthquakes recorded in the area from July through October, down from an average of four a day, Ausbrooks said.

A 2010 study on a swarm of earthquakes in 2008 and 2009 near injection wells in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University concluded that the quakes “may be the result of fluid injection.”

A 1990 U.S. Geological Survey report found that “injection of fluid into deep wells has triggered documented earthquakes” in Colorado, Texas, New York, New Mexico, Nebraska and Ohio. It highlighted more than 70 quakes in July 1987 in Ashtabula, Ohio, about a kilometer from the bottom of a hazardous-waste disposal well in operation only a year. There had been no other known earthquakes within 30 kilometers since 1857, it said.

Quick Inundation

While well disposal requires sustained pressure as liquid is forced underground, fracking itself is a short, sharp shock as water breaks up rock and is withdrawn.

There have been fewer reports of earthquakes connected with fracking, though the Oklahoma Geological Survey concluded in an August report that it might have induced 43 temblors near Elmore City during 24 hours in January. Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., a U.K.-based explorer, also suspended fracking near Blackpool, England, in June based on a concern it may have triggered a quake.

The incidents raise questions about whether enough is known about the practice to ignore risks in the name of jobs and domestic energy, said Ohio state Representative Robert F. Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat. And the state may become a “dumping ground” for wastewater, he said in a telephone interview from Columbus.

During the first three quarters of 2011, nearly 53 percent of the 368.3 million gallons injected into Ohio’s wells came from out of state, according to data provided by the Natural Resources Department. The number of new permits for injection wells increased to 24 from 10 last year and five in 2009, records show.

“I’m paranoid about it,” Hagan said. “I would travel out to California thinking that anytime now, there could be an earthquake. Well, anytime now, there could be an earthquake in Youngstown.”

Lupo said he plans to have five more disposal wells operating near the city next year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus, Ohio, atmniquette@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

Uzbekistan’s Wasteful Soviet-Era Agricultural System

[The Soviets emptied the Aral Sea trying to water this salty desert.  Maintaining the country’s primary agricultural product, cotton, wastes what little water manages to reach Uzbekistan through the Central Asian river systems, helping to raise Islam Karimov’s anger with Tajikistan over proposed Rogun Dam project, which will strangle Uzbek cotton production for several years.  One of the biggest problems of the CIS countries is switching over from communist-era systems to more modern and efficient models of production or transmission systems, whether that be gas, water, electrical, or highway.  The answer for Uzbekistan is not better irrigation systems, but a better means of producing national profit. 

If the order of the day is to actually to help the citizens of Central Asia, as a pathway to obtaining their gas and oil, then we will produce something on the order of a Central Asian Marshall Plan.  Then you get into the sticky business of saying–“What about Afghanistan and Pakistan reconstruction?”  Or, for that matter, “What Iraq or Libya?”   Every nation on this earth, with few exceptions, needs a hand-up into the Twenty-First Century.  Do we start in Central Asia, now?  Or do we do nothing at all to help the people recover from decades of wasteful destruction and division?  There is a line that has been carved right down the middle of humanity–cut there by the genius Washington and Moscow planners.  How do we mend that rift in humanity? 

A simple problem like an antiquated irrigation system can be traced all the way back to the Cold War.  The damage that mankind does by blindly following blind leaders remains invisible until the shadow of the past passes over something that we want or think that we need today.  Such are the problems that cover both the “Silk Road” and “Pipelinestan.”]

Food shortages emerging

Poor irritation practices, growing population and climatic change all signal a worrisome scenario on the food security front in Uzbekistan, according to a study conducted by Tashkent’s Centre for Economic Research, Uzbekreport.com reported.

The study was supported by the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. ldus Kamilov, senior research coordinator on the project said, “Water resources are being depleted not only by global warming, but also by the inefficient irrigation systems being used by Uzbekistan’s agricultural producers.”

He claimed that half of the water which could tapped for irrigation is lost and he suggested channels and pumping stations to alleviate the losses. According to Kamilov, a significant proportion of cultivated land in Uzbekistan is irrigated but research shows that 70% of Uzbekistan’s land is not suitable for agricultural production as the land is desert, steppe, or mountainous or soil salinity is too high.

Newt and Other Republican Morons Forget To Register As Agents of Israel

[“Neut” is here to remind us exactly what Bush was all about.  Kissing Netanyahu’s ass, while appeasing the Rapture Republicans is a neocon speciality.  Gingrich steered Reagan’s bankrupt policies through the Congress, while fixating on Monica Lewinski’s stained dress.  He locked the Congress up over Clinton’s sexual deviancies, while ignoring the mess that Bill and Hillary were making with his Bosnian Islamists that he recruited from the Afghan veterans, otherwise known as “al-Qaeda.”  He, more than anyone else, can be said to have “fiddled” while Clinton created the force of international terrorist mercenaries who helped lead us into the perpetual terror war.  It has been American bipartisan policy to unleash Islamist terrorists upon the rest of the world, as seen in the wave of Islamists which we have helped empower in the Middle East.  The zombie Republicans have arisen from the dead to impersonate American statesmen, who all speak with the same voice, uttering the same seductive promises to save America from Obama, knowing full well that every word they speak is a lie.]

Gingrich and company share their Middle East delusions

James Zogby

On Wednesday, six Republican candidates for president appeared before the Republican Jewish Coalition to campaign for Christian votes. There are Jewish Republicans, to be sure, but not enough to make a difference in this primary contest. No, the real prize that drew the candidates to the event were the 40 per cent of GOP primary voters who identify themselves as “born-again” Christians. Many of them fervently believe that Israel can do no wrong and that it is their religious duty to support any and all Israeli policies as a prerequisite to hasten the “Day of Judgment”.

The speeches were mostly filled with hysterical criticism of President Barack Obama’s “appeasement” of Israel’s enemies and hyperbolic praise for Israel (with the exception of John Huntsman, who, after a few pandering platitudes, spoke mostly about the economy and was greeted with stony silence). Because their remarks included such irresponsible charges and promises, I have included significant excerpts to give a flavour of how out of touch today’s Republican Party is with current Middle East realities.

Newt Gingrich has in recent days surged ahead in the polls with statements like this: “As president, on my first day in office, I will issue an executive order directing the US embassy in Israel to be moved to Jerusalem as provided for in the legislation I introduced in Congress in 1995.

“The United States should explicitly reject the concept of a right of return for Palestinian refugees. The so-called right of return is a historically impossible demand that would be a demographic disaster and mean the end of the Jewish state of Israel.

“The United Nations camps system must be replaced by a system of earned income and property rights to restore dignity and hope to every Palestinian.”

The next day, Mr Gingrich followed up these remarks, in essence rejecting any Palestinian claim to a state: “Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and I think it’s tragic.”

Michele Bachmann continued her pattern of lambasting Mr Obama while pandering to the far-right constituency: “It seems as if lately, our president has forgotten the importance of Israel to America and thinks of our relationship only in terms of what we do for Israel. The president is more concerned about Israel building homes on its own land than the threats that Israel and America face in the region.

“Obama improperly calls for Israel to retreat to indefensible 1949 armistice lines with swaps, and to then still face further demands to divide Jerusalem and allow a Palestinian ‘right of return’ to overrun the entire state of Israel. The Obama administration has also unconditionally given the Palestinians unprecedented amounts of US foreign aid, and opposed Congressional efforts to condition aid on the real steps that would bring about peace.

“The so-called Palestinian ‘right of return’ would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs who never lived in Israel, thereby turning the world’s only Jewish state into the world’s 23rd Arab state.

“My administration will fully recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.”

In that company, Mitt Romney was eager to sing the same tune: “Over the past three years, President Obama has … chastened Israel. He’s publicly proposed that Israel adopt indefensible borders. He’s insulted its prime minister. And he’s been timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran.

“These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners who now are poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table. President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East.”

Rick Perry continued the refrain, based on his own version of history: “President Obama has systematically undermined America’s relationship with Israel … I support the goal of a Palestinian state, but it should be the Palestinians who meet certain preconditions.

“Instead, the administration has insisted on previously unheard of preconditions for Israel, such as an immediate stop to all settlement activity. President Obama has suggested the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations. And he has instituted the practice of ‘indirect talks’, subverting the Oslo Accords.

“Israel does not need our president demanding gratitude for being the best friend Israel has ever had while his secretary of defence rails that Israel has ‘to get back to the damn table’ with the Palestinians, and his secretary of state questions the viability of Israel’s democracy, even as his ambassador to Belgium blames anti-Semitism among Muslims on Israel’s failure to accommodate the Palestinians.”

All of this went beyond the normal platitudes offered up in an election year. It was dangerous, shameful and crass pandering, making it clear how far today’s Republicans have moved from the reality-based foreign policy of the Bush-Baker era. And while it’s hard to imagine the alternate universe inhabited by these candidates for president, it’s frightening to think of where they would take US-Middle East policy should any of them be elected.

James Zogby is the president of the Arab American Institute

Pennsylvania Families Got Fracked–Must Find Own Water After Drillers Let Off the Hook

A shale-gas drilling and fracking site in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

[SEE:  A Colossal Fracking Mess]

Driller to stop water to families in Dimock, Pa.

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Families in a northeastern Pennsylvania village with tainted water wells will have to procure their own water for the first time in nearly three years as a natural-gas driller blamed for polluting the aquifer moves ahead with its plan to stop paying for daily deliveries.

Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. ended delivery of bulk and bottled water to 11 families in Dimock on Wednesday. Cabot asserts Dimock’s water is safe to drink and won permission from state environmental regulators last month to stop paying for water for the residents.

A judge on Wednesday declined to issue an emergency order compelling Cabot to continue the deliveries. The judge, who sits on the state’s Environmental Hearing Board, set a Dec. 7 deadline for arguments on a second, related petition filed by lawyers for the families.

The decision left residents who don’t think their water is safe scrambling to find alternate sources.

“We are in desperate need here,” said Scott Ely, 42, who is married with three young children at home.

Ely, a former Cabot employee, said no option was appealing. A creek runs through his property, but the water hasn’t been tested and his wife doesn’t want it piped into their brand-new home. The Cabot contractor who had been supplying their water quoted him a price of $100 a day, he said.

“We’re sitting here with no answers, and I cannot believe Cabot got away with this,” he said.

State regulators previously determined that Cabot drilled faulty gas wells that allowed methane to escape into Dimock’s aquifer. The company denied responsibility, but has been banned from drilling in a 9-square-mile area of Dimock since April 2010.

A Cabot spokesman said Wednesday that the company has worked diligently to resolve the problems in Dimock.

“Cabot has reconditioned water wells, drilled new water wells and installed treatment systems that work properly and effectively. Additionally, we have tested the water and the results have as proven the water meets federal safe drinking water standards,” George Stark said via email.

The families dispute their water supply is safe and say the treatment systems that Cabot has installed in some homes don’t do an adequate job of cleaning it.

As residents prepared to be cut off Wednesday, activists launched an effort to keep them supplied with water.

Craig Stevens, who lives near Dimock and is an outspoken critic of the gas industry, put out a call for volunteers with tanker trucks to deliver bulk water to the residents. He said his goal is to get at least 20 volunteers to commit to one day a month each. Working with Stevens, Pennsylvania-American Water Co. said it will set up an access point at Lake Montrose, a municipal water supply several miles from Dimock.

The state, Stevens said, has “turned its back on the people of Dimock.”

Several environmental groups, meanwhile, urged the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to reverse its decision to allow Cabot to stop delivering water, saying the company has not met its legal obligation to restore the residents’ water supply.

“The department’s decision is irresponsible given that Dimock residents have relied on the trucking of temporary fresh water for drinking, bathing and other household uses,” Jeff Schmidt, director of the Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania chapter, wrote to Pennsylvania Environmental Secretary Michael Krancer this week. “The residents’ water supplies have not been restored, either in quantity or quality.”

Dimock, a rural community about 20 miles south of the New York state line, became a flash point in the national debate over unconventional gas drilling in deep shale formations after 18 residential water wells were found to be tainted with methane. Eleven families have sued Cabot in federal court.

Plan Colombia not over

Colombian right-wing paramilitary AUC.

United States Undersecretary of State James Steinberg, speaking in Bogota on October 26, claimed the future relationship between Washington and its most favoured client in Latin America, Colombia, would be based on “reciprocity and mutual respect”.

The stated purpose of Steinberg’s visit was to “re-launch the agenda” of US-Colombian relations” by initiating a “High-Level Partnership Dialogue”.

Steinberg’s remarks tied in with similar recent statements by other senior US diplomatic officials. The new rhetoric has been interpreted as nothing less than “the unofficial end of the ‘Plan Colombia’ era” by Just the Facts, a think tank specialising in US-Latin American relations.

It is true that the Obama administration has sought to distance itself from the multi-billion dollar “aid” package to the brutal Colombian regime initiated during the Clinton administration and expanded by Bush.

But it is clear that underlying foreign policy objectives have not changed.

Plan Colombia was sold to the taxpaying public as a necessary component of the “war on drugs”. In fact, it was a vehicle for furthering the traditional designs of US imperialism, of which there is a long and bitter history in Colombia.

Under Plan Colombia, which first received US congressional funding in 2000, billions of dollars have flowed to the Colombian military supposedly to combat the menace of drug trafficking.

This approach flew in the face of research that consistently showed the best and most cost-effective way to deal with the drug problem was by investing in measures to reduce domestic demand.

Planners were well aware that militarising the problem would not lead to a net reduction of cocaine production in the Andean region, but that scarcely mattered.

The drug war provided a justification for the projection of US power into regions controlled by the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas in southern Colombia. This projection used conventional military units and affiliated paramilitaries who engaged in narcotics trafficking on a far greater scale than any of Colombia’s rebel groups.

Having spent US$7.6 billion, Plan Colombia has yielded some noteworthy results. This includes the violent reduction of the FARC’s estimated strength from 20,000 to 8000 (a point dramatically underscored by the November 4 assassination by Colombian special forces of FARC leader Alfonso Cano).

In reality, however, the targets of Washington’s Plan Colombia offensive are not only armed FARC or National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas but also any peasant and indigenous groups standing in the way of capitalist globalisation.

Human Rights Everywhere estimates that today, of the 32 indigenous Colombian peoples faced with the imminent threat of annihilation, 20 are directly threatened by the huge expansion of mining operations.

It would therefore be wrong to describe Plan Colombia as a complete failure. Of course, it has failed miserably to make an impact on drug flows into the US, but in other areas it has proven well worth the investment of public monies on behalf of private economic power.

The corporate legal news outlet Mondaq said on October 17: “The mining industry has progressively gained an important role in the Colombian economy …

“In the past decade, Colombian mining and petroleum industries have doubled their exports; in the first trimester alone of 2010 this sector grew 13.2 percent.”

Colombia possesses the largest coal reserves in the hemisphere. Growth in this sector is predicted to increase exponentially in the next few decades.

It is no accident that this capitalist success story the conquest of Colombia痴 natural resources has coincided with the violent implementation of Plan Colombia.

Military and paramilitary aggression, and chemical warfare via aerial spraying by US contractors, has led to tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more 2.5 million internal refugees the largest refugee crisis in the Americas.

Every refugee has a horrifying story to tell, such as the following testimony provided by a member of the Kwet Wala reservation to Colombian human rights monitoring agency Verdad Abierta: “A family that went out of the reservation disappeared in 2001: father, mother and a nine-year-old child. They were found a few days later in a shallow grave near the [right-wing paramilitary] AUC encampment.

“Their severed sexual organs had been stuffed in their mouth. The child had been scalped with a machete.”

Truck Carrying Nuclear Fuel Rods Wrecks on I-40 Near Memphis

[Video on site]

Truck With Uranium Fuel Rods Wrecks on I-40

Natasha Chen10:51 p.m. CST, November 15, 2011

FAST FACTS:

  • A truck carrying uranium fuel rods was rear-ended on I-40 near U.S. Highway 64.
  • Emergency crews responded quickly to assess possible radiation exposure.
  • No injuries and no spill was reported.

natasha.chen@wreg.com

(Memphis, TN 11/15/11) A truck carrying uranium fuel rods was rear-ended on I-40 westbound near U.S. Highway 64 Tuesday night.

Hazmat crews, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Memphis police and Memphis fire personnel responded quickly.

The wreck happened at 7:50 p.m., and the scene was stabilized at 8:21 p.m.

At one point, crews blocked a 500 sq. ft. distance around the vehicle, and two right lanes were blocked.

No fuel rods fell off the truck. The Emergency Management Agency said that their staff also used small devices to monitor the level of radiation in the area. An alarm would sound at the detection of radiation, and the device provides a read on the level of radiation present.

The EMA was not able to say what type of fuel rods were being transported on the truck. Often time, uranium rods are used for nuclear power plants or for hospital radiation therapy.

The EMA also said that vehicles carrying such rods is not unusual in the area. Since Memphis is a distribution hub, many hazardous materials may be transported by rail or by interstate every day.

Emergency crews were relieved no one was hurt and that no spill occurred, but they took every safety precaution necessary, as they would in a more serious spill.

Fracking activity risks not recognized, US energy dept. warns

Natural gas

Natural gas

Photograph by: Writer/editor, Vancouver Sun/Bloomberg

 

(Bloomberg) — Energy companies and government haven’t made enough progress reducing the environmental risks of shale-gas production, a U.S. Energy Department panel said.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that extracts natural gas from shale-rock formations by injecting water, sand and chemicals represents about a third of U.S. natural-gas output, according to the advisory panel led by former CIA Director John Deutch.

“If action is not taken to reduce the environmental impact accompanying the very considerable expansion of shale-gas production expected across the country — perhaps as many as 100,000 wells over the next several decades — there is a real risk of serious environmental consequences,” the panel said in a statement today. ” Some concerted and sustained action is needed to avoid excessive environmental impacts of shale-gas production and the consequent risk of public opposition to its continuation and expansion.”

The panel listed 20 recommendations for groundwater protection, air-pollution reduction and disclosure of the chemicals used to limit the environmental impacts in states such as Pennsylvania, New York, and Texas, where the use of fracking is increasing.

Companies that use the technology for natural-gas production include Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

‘Positive Actions’

“There have been many positive actions undertaken by the industry and state regulatory authorities,” Reid Porter, a spokesman for the Washington based American Petroleum Institute, said in an e-mailed statement. “The oil and natural gas industry is working with the regulators in states where shale energy development is occurring to share our knowledge and encourage them to help us raise the bar on performance.”

The institute is the largest U.S. energy trade group, representing more than 480 oil and natural-gas companies.

“Today’s announcement makes clear the inadequacies and problems within the natural-gas industry,” Deb Nardone, director of the Natural Gas Reform Campaign at the Sierra Club, a San Francisco-based environmental group, said today in a statement. “The Sierra Club urges the Obama administration to take these recommendations seriously, and push for their swift adoption. Without them, the natural-gas industry will continue to recklessly drill and further endanger our air, water and communities.”

EPA Rules Coming

The U.S. Interior Department is considering regulations for production of natural gas and oil from shale on federal lands, including required disclosure of chemicals used and standards for water and wells, David Hayes, the Interior Department’s deputy secretary, said on Oct. 31.

The Environmental Protection Agency will propose rules on water discharges from fracking in 2014, the agency said on Oct. 20.

The Energy Department report, the second from the advisory committee, is available for four days of public comment. The panel will submit its report to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, according to today’s statement, posted on an Energy Department website.

—Editors: Larry Liebert, Niamh Ring

© Copyright (c) Business Wire

A Perversely Perfect War

A Perversely Perfect War

By Bill Bonner

Author Image for Bill Bonner

Paris, France – In a perverse way, a zombie war is a perfect war. A lot of money changes hands. And relatively few people are killed, compared to a real war.

The British medical journal, The Lancet, estimates the total death toll from the Iraq war at nearly 700,000. When the war began, Pentagon experts estimated the cost of the war at about $60 billion. They underestimated by 8,000%. But if the war were to stop tomorrow…and if Joseph Stiglitz’s estimates of total cost were close to correct…each Iraqi killed (let’s hallucinate that he was an ‘enemy combatant’) would cost about $8 million.

You have to wonder why America would want to kill even a single Iraqi, let alone at a cost of $8 million each. WWII killed far more people — 50 million. Total spending on the war, by all the combatants, was probably around $10 trillion (our estimate). This puts the cost per corpse at only $200,000. WWII was far more efficient.

But WWII was a real war, not a zombie war. The real goal of a zombie war is neither to kill people…nor even to win. It is to transfer wealth from the real economy to the zombie industry, in this case, defense.

Of course, looking at the cost of killing people merely underlines the absurdity of the whole enterprise. You might just as well say that a good war is one where people don’t die. If that is true, the War on Terror is almost perfect. Hardly anyone dies. Which is not surprising, since there are hardly any terrorists. It is a war on nobody…with the intention of not winning…over a long period of time…at great expense. It is a zombie war, designed for the benefit of the industry behind it, not for the people who pay the bills.

Al Qaeda spent only about $500,000 in its attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. If its goal was to bring the US to its knees, this investment was probably the most rewarding in the history of military conflict. In reaction to this tiny investment and the trivial risk it represented, the US spent 10,000,000 times as much, the largest mis-investment of valuable resources the world has ever seen.

And these expenses do not begin to count the costs of delays, inconveniences and indignities suffered by the people the war is meant to protect. Airline travel takes longer and costs more. Banking regulations have been tightened, making it more difficult, and expensive, to make investments outside the zombie industries. Ordinary citizens in ordinary situations now live with the menace that their normal routines and pleasures will be interrupted by the demands of the war on terror project.

The only positive thing that can be said about a zombie war is that it provides entertainment for millions. The masses are awed by the latest military technology…and by the demonstrations of brute force. Their minds go numb from the pounding, exploding action…and their chests swell, as it is their boys kicking butt.

Zombie wars are a modern version of the old Circus Maximus in Rome…where the fans got to watch the gladiators in genuine combat…or better yet, a mass murder. They are like football games for mortal stakes, rigged from the beginning to make sure the home team wins. Was there ever any doubt about the outcome of the Iraq War? Would the US prevail against the armed forces of Saddam Hussein? Would the Taliban in Afghanistan turn the tables on the Americans, and land their turbaned troops on the banks of the Potomac?

It’s all great fun…because there is no risk to the spectators. The crowds can pretend that there is some great principle at stake. They are ‘nation building.’ They are bringing democracy to the towel heads. They are protecting America from terrorists. They can cheer their heroes and boo the bad guys…and then go to sleep at night, happily rejoicing in the victory of good over evil.

While we don’t dispute the value of a zombie war as a form of mass distraction — a reality show with live ammunition — it is a disaster to an economy and to the wealth of the people who undertake it.

We were shocked recently when an intelligent woman challenged us.

“Yes…but at least wars keep people off the unemployment lists. The military employs lots of people…”

“Besides”…she went on… “wasn’t WWII largely responsible for ending the Great Depression. Maybe we need a WWIII.”

Alas, she had missed the point. It would be easy to give people jobs. It is easy to start a war, too. But if it were that easy to create real wealth we would all be employed, full time, trying to kill each other.

Wealth creation is a tough business. First, you have to NOT consume everything you make. This extra…saved capital…gives you something to work with. You can use it to create more wealth. Imagine that you were living on a small farm. You work all the time. You plant a field. You harvest. You consume. But you don’t get wealthier that way. To get wealthier, you have to plant a little more. You have to have a little surplus, that you can invest…a little more labor…to clear a field…prepare the soil…save the seeds… so you can increase your harvest in the following year.

If, on the other hand, you goof off…if you waste your resources (mostly your time in this example) and plant less of the field…you grow poorer.

This series of Daily Reckoning reflections has been focused on wasting resources. On health care, on education, and on finance…and other big industries favored by government. In each case, trillions are invested — with no payback. The nation grows poorer and groans under the debt needed to pay for it all. But of all these wealth-destroying investments, none is more wasteful than war. By its nature, war consumes and annihilates wealth. It does not produce it.

Which is not to say that wealth cannot develop out of the ashes of warfare. It can and it does. War clears away the zombie industries that block progress. When a war ends, it releases huge amounts of pent-up demand…and supply. Factories that were producing tanks switch to making automobiles. Soldiers who had been focused on killing people, switch to selling insurance and tending bars. A new economy with new industries and new workers buds, blooms and flowers. That is what happened in Germany and Japan after WWII.

In America, too, the end of WWII brought unparalleled prosperity. But it was built on the ruins of an economy that had been de-leveraged by the Great Depression…and largely destroyed by the war. A new consumer-focused economy could to be built.

Americans of a certain age remember the war years the way a tourist remembers a nasty vacation. He tends to forget the bad parts…recalling only the happy times. Old people now recall the solidarity of the war years…the sense of brotherhood and common mission…and the thrill of working on such a grand, and successful, project.

As New York mayoral candidate, Jimmy Breslin, once remarked. “The last successful government project was WWII.”

Don’t bother to ask German and Japanese oldsters. They recall too much suffering, too much misery, and too much defeat.

Even in America, the war years were hardly a time of prosperity. There were few private automobiles produced or sold. There were few new houses built. The big consumer innovations — invented in the ’30s — such as television and air-conditioning, had to wait until after the war was over to be broadly implemented. There was little joblessness — everyone was put to work in the war effort. And savings rose; people had nothing to spend their money on.

Output soared too — but it was output without a market value. What was a tank worth, absent a real war? Why would anyone buy a machine gun, unless he expected to kill someone?

Outside of its use in a real war, wartime production was useless…and valueless. It consumed the savings of a generation…and the resources of a whole nation…but it produced little of value to a domestic economy. At the end of the war, Americans were poorer than they had been before it began.

A zombie war is worse. First, it has no utility at all — since it does not protect the nation for a real threat. Second, it never ends…and never releases the pent-up demand and productive capacity for other activities.

Regards,

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning

 

Oklahoma Fracking Zone Suffers Biggest OK Quake, Ever–(Ohioans Take Note)

[Ohioans, take note.  If our beloved governor’s mega-fracking plan is not stopped we could soon suffer the same fate (SEE:  Geologists eye new well after 7 quakes in NE Ohio ; Ohio bills could delay fracking).] Fracking May Have Caused 50 Earthquakes in Oklahoma Sparks, OK. coordinates–35.6081226, -96.8211333  (see map insert below) Several homes in Oklahoma were damaged after a strong earthquake struck late Saturday near Sparks, Oklahoma. Several homes in Oklahoma were damaged after a strong earthquake struck late Saturday near Sparks, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma quake buckles highway, damages several homes

State record 5.6-magnitude earthquake rocks Oklahoma, surrounding states

SPARKS — The U.S. Geological Survey indicated an Oklahoma state record 5.6-magnitude earthquake at approximately 10:53pm Saturday evening — the strongest ever recorded in Oklahoma. This comes after an early-morning quake was recorded near Shawnee on Saturday morning, with an intensity of 4.6. The quake was centered near the town of Sparks Oklahoma and was felt from Illinois to Tennessee to Arkansas to near the Texas-Mexico border. It was particularly felt far away since the quake was only located about three miles below the earth’s surface. Initial reports had the quake listed as a 5.2 on the Richter scale, but an update soon was released upgrading the quake’s intensity level to a 5.6. We have several conversations in progress at KFOR’s Facebook page, where you can join in the conversation and stay tuned for updates as we get them. If you felt the quake and have images to share of the damage your area sustained, send us that information by emailing kfornews@yahoo.com.

Copyright © 2011, KFOR-TV

Hazardous Hydrofracking In America

Hazardous Hydrofracking In America

By Stephen Lendman

Hydraulic fracking involves using pressurized fluids to fracture rock layers to release oil, gas, coal seam gas, or other substances.
 
Earthworks says the process provides easier access to deposits and lets oil or gas “travel more easily from the rock pores,” where it’s trapped, “to the production well.”
 
Fractures are created by pumping mixtures of water, proppants (sand or ceramic beads) and chemicals into rock or coal formations.
 
“Acidizing involves pumping acid (usually hydrochloric acid) into the formation.” It dissolves rock so pores open for easier flows. Fracking and acidizing are often done together. Studies show from 20 – 40% of fracking fluids remain underground.
 
Fracking fluids contain hazardous toxic chemicals, known to cause cancer and other diseases. They include diesel fuel, containing benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals.
 
They also include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, methanol, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, glycol ethers, hydrochloric acid, and sodium hydroxide.
 
Small amounts of benzene alone can contaminate millions of gallons of groundwater used for human consumption. According to the EPA, 10 of 11 US coalbed methane (CBM) basins are located at least partially in areas of underground sources of drinking water (USDW).
 
EPA also determined that nine or more harmful to human health fracking chemicals are used in normal operations. “These chemicals may be injected (in) concentrations anywhere from 4 to almost 13,000 times” above acceptable amounts.
 
According to hydrodynamics expert John Bredehoeft:
 
“At greatest risk of contamination are the coalbed aquifers currently used as sources of drinking water.”
 
“(C)ontamination associated with hydrofracturing (can) threaten the usefulness of aquifers for future use.”
 
At issue also is obtaining information on specific fracking chemicals used. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), oil and gas companies won’t release what they call “proprietary information.”
 
Current regulations exempt oil and gas drilling from major environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act.
 
On March 3, 2011, New York Times writer Ian Urbina headlined, “Pressure Limits Effort to Police Drilling for Gas,”saying:
 
In 1987, congressional lawmakers weren’t told about hazardous wastes from oil and gas drilling in an EPA report. Author Carla Greathouse discussed them, but they were excluded.
 
“It was like science didn’t matter,” she said. “The industry was going to get what it wanted, and we were not supposed to stand in the way.”
 
Her experience wasn’t isolated. “More than a quarter-century of efforts by some lawmakers and regulators to force the federal government to police the industry better have been thwarted, as EPA studies have been repeatedly narrowed in scope and important findings have been removed.”
 
Pressure is applied to cut red tape to help energy companies reduce dependency on foreign imports. Natural gas drilling companies are exempted from at least parts of seven sweeping environmental laws, regulating clean air and water.
 
In 2004, EPA studied hydrofracking, discovering hazardous contamination of one or more acquifers. However, a sanitized report said the process “poses little or not threat to drinking water.”
 
Afterwards, “EPA whisleblower (Weston Wilson) said the agency had been strongly influenced by industry and political pressure.”
 
“It was shameful,” he said, explaining that “five of the seven members of the study’s peer review panel were current or former employees of the oil and gas industry.”
 
Yet the study became “the basis for this industry getting yet another exemption from federal law when it should have resulted in greater regulation….”
 
In 2010, the EPA began studying hydrofracking’s environmental impact. However, responding to industry pressure, its scope is limited and final results won’t be published until 2014.
 
Initial plans called for considering toxic fume dangers released during drilling, the impact of drilling waste on food and water, and risks of radioactive waste.
 
Yet final study plans removed them. Earlier ones also called for studying landfill runoff contamination risks where drilling waste is dumped. This was also excluded despite EPA officials acknowledging that sewage treatment plants can’t properly treat drilling waste before it’s discharged in waterways near or supplying drinking water.
 
Moreover, regional studies underway or planned will be cancelled, further narrowing the possibility of full and accurate reports of hydrofracking’s harm to human health.
 
EPA scientists said high-level administration pressure thwarted efforts to institute more rigorous enforcement even though some in Congress want it. Recipients of industry campaign contributions (bribes), of course, strongly oppose any regulations.
 
The Times quoted White House energy and climate director Carol Browner as 1997 Clinton administration EPA head telling 60 Minutes:
 
“Whatever comes out of the ground, you don’t have to test it. You don’t have to understand what’s in it. You can dump it anywhere.”
 
Discussing oil and gas industry toxic waste exemptions, she added that “Congress should revisit this loophole.” At the same time, her history shows strong industry support. For example, in 1995, she helped ensure hydrofracking was excluded from parts of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
 
Today, widespread natural gas drilling “is forcing the EPA to wrestle with questions of jurisdiction over individual states and how to police the industry despite extensive exemptions from federal law.”
 
Contamination is a serious problem. “The stakes are particularly high in Pennsylvania, where gas drilling is expanding quickly, and where EPA officials say drilling waste is being discharged with inadequate treatment into rivers” providing drinking water for 16 million people.
 
At issue, of course, is why is this allowed to go on when human health risks are so high. Moreover, federal laws are ignored. For example, ones affecting sewage treatment plants say operators have to know what’s in waste they’re receiving and must assure it’s safe before discharging it in waterways.
 
However, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, EPA lawyers say rules are broken. One unnamed official said:
 
“Treatment plants are not allowed under federal law to process mystery liquids, regardless of what the state tells them. Mystery liquids are exactly what this drilling waste is, since their ingredient toxins aren’t known.”
 
“The bottom line is that under the Clean Water Act, dilution is not the solution to pollution. Sewage treatment plants are legally obligated to treat, not dilute, the waste.”
 
Yet plants “are breaking the law. Everyone is looking the other way,” so people in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are ingesting hazardous toxins authorities aren’t preventing from ending up in drinking water.
 
Moreover, when federal regulations are lax, enforcement is left up to states that fall short by bowing to industry pressure.
 
According to Earthworks, it’s “unconscionable that EPA is allowing (hazardous) substances” to contaminate drinking water across America. It’s as bad that too few people understand the risk and aren’t raising hell to stop it.
 
Against them are powerful industry giants muscling through Congress and regulatory agencies like EPA whatever they wish. They’re doing it for planned Marcellus Shale development. It extends over eastern US states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and others.
 
They want no hydrofracking restrictions impeding gas drilling, no matter the cost to human health. Extracting it from shale deposits holds potential to give America the world’s largest supply. It’s believed Marcellus Shale alone has enough gas to sustain US needs for 14 or more years, maybe longer depending on how much is found.
 
Moreover, Utica Shale Appalachian Basin deposits are believed to be larger. Obama’s “energy independence” goal and subservience to industry wishes drive Washington’s cooperation. With significant revenue potential, local officials do the same.
 
As a result, regulatory restraints are abandoned despite known fracking hazards, including reckless use of toxic chemicals and their disposal.
 
In a race to capitalize on industry potential, states are brazenly supporting energy company interests at the expense of their residents. Pennsylvania, in fact, became hydrofracking’s wild west. New wells under development doubled from 2009 to 2010 at the cost of contaminated drinking water increasing at an alarming rate.
 
Hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic waste fluids are dumped into rivers and streams annually. No regulations prohibit it. Wastewater treatment plants can’t flush out toxins let alone dangerous radioactive materials contaminating areas forever.
 
In addition, recycling methods don’t work because with each use, waste fluids become more contaminated, compounding the problem of ultimate disposal.
 
Moreover, the longer unsustainable practices continue, the harder it will be to find workable solutions. Planned Marcellus Shale development alone calls for at least 50,000 new wells in the next two decades, up from 6,400 permitted now.
 
At this pace, contaminated drinking water will cause epidemic illness levels affecting tens of millions of people across vast areas where hydrofracking occurs. Corrupted politicians in bed with oil and gas interests allow it, abandoning public safety.
 
For example, C. Alan Walker heads Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), given regulatory-free authority to expedite job creation. His mandate says by any means, including by hazardous hydrofracking drilling.
 
Similar measures are freeing gas drillers throughout the region and elsewhere. Nationwide, business, not public needs, are served. In potentially rich energy areas, caution and environmental laws are trashed to give drillers free reign.
 
Energy giants only want profits. Bought off politicians cooperate. Public health and environmental concerns are abandoned. Vast parts of America now are contaminated.
 
Imagine how much worse they’ll be as hydrofracking drills thousands more wells.
 
Today’s nightmare may be expanded beyond remediation, at least in our lifetimes unless public rage stops it. Corrupt politicians won’t do it.
 
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
 
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
 
http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

England Experiences “Mother-Frackin” Earthquakes from Halliburton’s Multi-Trillion Dollar Brainchild

[SEE:  The Halliburton Loophole ]

Vodpod videos no longer available.

GASLAND Trailer 2010, posted with vodpod

Expert Says Quakes in England May Be Tied to Gas Extraction

By

A British seismologist said Friday that two minor earthquakes in northwestern England “appeared to correlate closely” with the use of hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting natural gas from wells that has raised concerns about environmental and seismological risks in the United States.

The scientist, Brian Baptie, seismic project team leader with the British Geological Survey, said data from the two quakes near Blackpool — one of magnitude 2.3 on April 1, the other of magnitude 1.5 on May 27 — suggested the temblors arose from the same source. Cuadrilla Resources, a British energy company, was conducting hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations at a well nearby when the quakes occurred.

In fracking, water, sand and chemicals are injected into a well at high pressure to split shale rock and release trapped gas.

The company suspended its fracking operations shortly after the second earthquake, which, like the first, was barely felt and caused no damage. Paul Kelly, a Cuadrilla spokesman, said a report by several academic scientists on the quakes, commissioned by the company, should be released in a few weeks.

“We’re waiting for the independent report,” he said.

One possibility is that the British government, through the Department of Energy and Climate Change, might require modification to the fracking process.

Mr. Kelly said Cuadrilla Resources had drilled three wells — the only shale-gas wells so far in Britain — and had conducted fracking operations at only one.

Fracking is now widespread in the United States, and has been blamed by some landowners, environmentalists and public officials for contaminating waterways and drinking water supplies. Some critics have also said that the technology could cause significant earthquakes.

But Stephen Horton, a seismologist at the University of Memphis, said, “Generally speaking, fracking doesn’t create earthquakes that are large enough to be felt.” Even so, Mr. Horton said that after looking at the British Geological Survey’s analysis of the Blackpool earthquakes, “the conclusions are reasonable.”

Mr. Horton and others investigated a swarm of earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, including one of magnitude 4.7, in an area of central Arkansas where fracking was being conducted. The scientists found that the earthquakes were probably caused not by fracking but by the disposal of waste liquids from the process into other wells. Those wells have since been shut down.

Mr. Baptie said that in the Blackpool quakes, the high-pressure injection of water during fracking may have reduced the stresses on a nearby fault, causing it to slip.

He said one question was whether even larger earthquakes could occur if the fracking continued. While he said that it might be possible to go from a magnitude 2.3 to about a 3.0, “the chances of getting a very large earthquake are negligible.”

Russia says U.S. Afghan policy stokes AIDS problem

Russia says U.S. Afghan policy stokes AIDS problem

MOSCOW

(Reuters) – The United States is aggravating the HIV/AIDS problem in Russia and the West by refusing to use its forces to destroy opium crops inAfghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

Lavrov made Russia’s persistent case for poppy crop eradication by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan at a conference on communicable diseases in the eastern Europe and Central Asia region, where AIDS is a growing problem.

“It is hard for us to understand why our American partners don’t want the International Security Assistance Force to do this,” he said. “This issue is crucial to the fight against the drug threat and, consequently, the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

Afghanistan is the world’s biggest producer of poppies used to make opium, the key ingredient in the production of heroin. Russia is the largest per capita consumer of the drug and faces an HIV/AIDS epidemic that is spreading from dirty needles.

“The tragedy of the situation lies in the fact that in Europe, young people … are getting this disease because of the spread of drugs,” Lavrov said, adding that “we must fight not only the use but also the spread of drugs.”

Russia, which fought a decade-long war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, is supporting the Western military campaign in Afghanistan by providing transit routes for personnel and supplies.

It says the United States made a big mistake when it reversed its anti-drug strategy in 2009 by phasing out crop eradication efforts to focus instead on intercepting drugs and hunting production operations and drug lords.

The Unites States said it made the change because drug crop eradication was not damaging the Taliban insurgency but was putting farmers out of work, sowing resentment against foreign intervention.

Russia says it opposes a long-term Western military presence in Afghanistan, but has also expressed fears that the spread of drugs and Islamist militancy toward its borders could worsen if NATO forces leave without first ensuring stability.

Obama Pits India Against Pakistan, Using Silk Road Pipe Dream As Indian “Sucker-Bait”

[This is the worst idea our “Idiot in Chief” ever had (SEE:  Image of the Beast ; Washington’s Silk Road Pipe Dream).]

CSIS Launches US-India Defense and Security Cooperation Project

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) meets with US President Barack Obama.

The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) announces the launch of a new project on US-India Defense and Security Cooperation. U.S.-India defense ties have made substantial progress since the signing of the New Framework for Defense Cooperation in 2005.

India now conducts more military exercises with the U.S. than any other country has purchased US defense equipment worth billions of dollars, and both sides recently established a U.S.-India Homeland Security Dialogue.

“The US-India defense relationship has grown to become a key component of the overall bilateral partnership,” said Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth, Senior Advisor and Wadhwani Chair-holder in US-India Policy Studies. “Close defense and security ties with India can address common strategic interests such as the security of trade and energy corridors across the Indian Ocean, countering terrorism, enhancing Indian coastal security, and addressing humanitarian and natural disasters.”

The CSIS project will focus on examining the key challenges and future opportunities for optimizing bilateral defense and security cooperation and will consist of three components:

— Bilateral defense trade: How can the US and India work together to make bilateral defense trade more seamless or transparent?

— Military-to-military cooperation: How can the US and India transition current military-to-military engagement to become more operationally relevant?

— Homeland security cooperation: How can the US and India best cooperate to support India’s efforts at securing its homeland?

While progress has been notable, significant challenges still remain to realizing the full potential of the US-India security and defense relationship. On the US side, there are still concerns about a lack of transparency within India’s defense bureaucracy and whether India is willing to transition defense ties to more operational cooperation. On the Indian side, questions still linger about US reliability as a defense partner as well as concerns that overly close defense relations with the US might limit India’s strategic autonomy.

This project will be directed by Visiting Fellow, Dr. S. Amer Latif, who previously served as the director for South Asian affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2007-2011.

Each component of the project will advance policy recommendations for the three main areas of study mentioned above through published reports, senior roundtables, and events taking place in the US and India.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that seeks to advance global security and prosperity by providing strategic insights and practical policy solutions to decision-makers.

H. Andrew SchwartzCSIS
http://www.csis.com

US To Spend $700 Billion On New Nukes and Modernization In Next Ten Years

What We Spend on Nuclear Weapons

BY JOEL RUBIN

The United States is projected to spend over $700 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs during the next ten years. As federal budgets tighten and officials address the most pressing national security needs of the 21st century, the substantial cost of nuclear weapons must be fully examined. By understanding these costs and setting effective national security priorities, policymakers can reduce nuclear budget excesses incurred by the active stockpile of approximately 5,000 nuclear weapons.

Ploughshares Fund has written a working paper (http://ploughshares.org/sites/default/files/resources/What%20We%20Spend%20on%20Nuclear%20Weapons_0.pdf) to address the magnitude of this complex issue. As a result of this analysis, we are convinced that the current projected expenditures on nuclear weapons are mismatched for both the fiscal and physical threats we face as a country, and must therefore come down. This working paper should be viewed as a living document that, as the budget picture for nuclear weapons spending becomes clearer, will be adjusted to match the changing policy environment.

We hope that this working paper will contribute to the overall national debate about defense spending, both for the sake of our national security and our country’s fiscal health. It is our view that these projected investments are oriented towards fighting last century’s wars, thereby creating significant financial waste while undercutting our country’s ability to address the threats we all face. In an era of tight federal budgets, limited defense dollars must be spent wisely to address the security needs of today and the anticipated security needs of tomorrow. Our projected nuclear weapons spending, as outlined in this paper, does not meet this standard.

Ultimately, the United States must find a bipartisan path forward for reducing the nuclear budget burden that we all face. We should not saddle our children and grandchildren with hundreds of billions of dollars of unnecessary future expenditures for weapons systems that we neither need nor can afford.

ORIGINAL POSTING LINK: http://www.ploughshares.org/blog/2011-09-14/what-we-spend-nuclear-weapons

Rabbani’s assassination–Today’s Masoud Moment, Afghan War Takes a Turn for the Worse

https://therearenosunglasses.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/ahmedshahmassoudcarpet.jpg?w=320
[Like the killing of Ahmed Shah Masoud, which took place on the day before Sept. 11, 2001, the assassination of Rabbani will one day be understood as clearing the way for the next phase of the terror war.  His being taken out of the way marks the beginning of the second, or perhaps third phase of the Afghan war.  The rug has been pulled from beneath the “reconcilers” and those who promote the path of negotiations.  The Taliban are obviously not ready for serious negotiations of any kind.  Just as the US is talking about pulling-out, the Taliban are focused upon killing the only national leaders who are capable of preventing renewed civil war, by easing occupation forces out and the Taliban back into government.  His was one of the few voices within the Northern Alliance which dared speak-up for the possibility of peace with the Taliban.  Will the US continue to muddle along as before, or will this become a rallying cry for a new direction in the war, one focused on empowering the Northern Alliance?  It is time to choose between realistic solutions focused upon bringing the conflict to an end and State Dept. theories of revolutionary democratization.  Which is more important in Afghanistan (just like in Libya), forcing pseudo-democracy upon the Afghan people or ending the war? 
There has always been only one solution to this war, the original solution, called “Operation Enduring Freedom.”  Bush deviated away from this proven path of pacification when he chose to leave the war unfinished, handing-off the job of eliminating “Al-Qaeda” to Musharraf.  This was a fatal error; one which backed us into the corner we are stuck in today.  When US military leaders allowed the Kunduz airlift to salvage the remaining Taliban and Al-Qaeda, airlifting them to Pakistan, they accepted the current war paradigm of militants striking NATO forces from safe areas in Pakistan. 
Vodpod videos no longer available.more about “Kunduz Airlift“, posted with vodpod

The ongoing quagmire and all the war deaths that have happened since then, are the direct result of American military and political incompetence.  We have allowed the men we were after to create sanctuary for themselves, while we pretended that it never happened.  American military leaders set the pattern of incompetence that has since been picked-up and followed by Pakistan’s failed military leadership.  Like the retreat of militants from Afghanistan to FATA, Pakistan has copied our mistakes, allowing their militants to retreat into Afghanistan, where today, they stage cross-border raids with impunity (SEE:  Pak Army Failure In Bajaur and Swat Created the Problem of TTP Base In Afghanistan).  Have Tommy Franks and now Gen. Kayani been incompetent by failing to foresee the obvious, or have they both served a common secret agenda?  Have both commanding generals been following White House orders to prolong the war? 
Obama must decide to correct Bush’s worst mistake, that of leaving Enduring Freedom unfinished, while he avenged his father’s attempted assassination by Saddam Hussein.  Afghanistan can only be pacified by the creation of a clear victor between Taliban and Northern Alliance, which it once established in 2001.
 
Notions of forcing “democracy” upon a tribal culture that is dominated by warlordism are harmful delusions, not reasonable solutions.  The only solution to Afghanistan is one that leaves one side empowered over the rest.  The Northern Alliance must be allowed to dominate the Taliban, the workable solution which Bush turned into today’s failure, ten years ago.  There must be a new civil war and the US must take sides in it, or else there will be a new civil war without us, which will produce no winners.  Anything else is just an acceptance of quagmire and all the losses associated with it.  Without some arrangement that approximates “victory,” then all the men, women, children and war materiel that have been flushed down the hole of Imperial insanity have been killed for nothing.]
Burhanuddin Rabbani's supporters

Rabbani’s assassination

Head of the Afghan High Peace Council and former president Burhanuddin Rabbani has been assassinated in treacherous fashion by a Taliban emissary ostensibly negotiating peace. This is the highest profile assassination since the fall of the Taliban government post-9/11. The circumstances surrounding the murder bear eerie parallels but also significant differences with the assassination of Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masoud two days before 9/11. Both victims were Tajiks, but whereas Masoud’s assassination was arguably the harbinger of 9/11, its subsequent fallout in the shape of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by US forces and the ouster of the Taliban regime, Rabbani’s removal will merely mean a serious setback to the inherently difficult project of a peaceful settlement with the Taliban. That may well be the intended message behind the assassination. Interestingly, the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was at first quick to claim responsibility and even threatened more such assassinations, but 24 hours later seemed to be retracting the claim and retreating into ‘damage control’. That may be because the assassination of Professor Rabbani will not go down well with non-Pashtun as well as anti-Taliban Pashtun elements. Rabbani was chosen by President Karzai for the task of making peace as the most credible, acceptable peacemaker. If the Taliban are averse to making peace with such a respected figure, the prospects for negotiations with the Taliban could well prove dead in the water. That would strengthen the sceptics in the Northern Alliance leadership, who have always looked at the peace project askance. What may follow therefore could be an intensified and even more bitter inter-ethnic and intra-Pashtun civil war in the backdrop of the US/Nato forces’ plans for incremental withdrawal. Whether the intensifying attacks of the Taliban, especially on the relatively secure capital, prove a factor in a change in the withdrawal strategy is too early to say. But the prospects of renewed and even bloodier conflict in Afghanistan cannot but bode ill for that country and the region.

While Pakistan’s president and prime minister, US President Obama and Afghan President Karzai all roundly condemned the assassination, ritual vows of continuing the search for peace were heard all round. One of the possible fallouts of the event may well be increased pressure on Pakistan to deny the Haqqani network (and perhaps even Mullah Omar’s Quetta Shura) safe havens on Pakistani soil from which to conduct attacks on US/Nato/Afghan forces. The Haqqani network in particular has been the stuff of high level exchanges in recent days between American and Pakistani officials from COAS Kayani-Mullen to Foreign Minister Khar-Clinton, with Panetta sniping away from the sidelines. Suspicions will inevitably arise that Rabbani’s removal may have the blessings of the ISI, of late fuming at being bypassed by the direct US-Taliban contacts as well as the Afghan government-Taliban ‘negotiations’. That suspicion, proved or not, will be sufficient to ratchet up the pressure on Pakistan to act against the Afghan militants operating from Pakistani soil. The assassination will be read in important capitals and amongst other centres of policy analysis as a possible message by the ISI on the perils of leaving it out in the cold as far as any negotiations with the Taliban are concerned. After all, the ISI stands accused already of sabotaging Mullah Biradar’s (Omar’s number two) secret, independent of the ISI negotiations with the Americans.

It is amazing that the calculations of our military establishment and its intelligence arms seem rigidly stuck in old paradigms, oblivious of the fast changing scenario, not the least of which is the deteriorating relationship with the US. Influential voices in the US are advocating an aid cut-off for the Pakistani military and a concentration on building a healthy prosperous civil society in Pakistan. Whether it comes to that or not, inevitably our proxy war adventurism in Afghanistan is inexorably leading us to international isolation and a pariah status politically, economically, and diplomatically. Is the mystical notion of strategic depth worth this game and its end result? *

A Colossal Fracking Mess–Vanity Fair

 

The dirty truth behind the new natural gas. Related: A V.F. video look at a town transformed by fracking.

A shale-gas drilling and fracking site in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

E arly on a spring morning in the town of Damascus, in northeastern Pennsylvania, the fog on the Delaware River rises to form a mist that hangs above the tree-covered hills on either side. A buzzard swoops in from the northern hills to join a flock ensconced in an evergreen on the river’s southern bank.

Stretching some 400 miles, the Delaware is one of the cleanest free-flowing rivers in the United States, home to some of the best fly-fishing in the country. More than 15 million people, including residents of New York City and Philadelphia, get their water from its pristine watershed. To regard its unspoiled beauty on a spring morning, you might be led to believe that the river is safely off limits from the destructive effects of industrialization. Unfortunately, you’d be mistaken. The Delaware is now the most endangered river in the country, according to the conservation group American Rivers.

Vodpod videos no longer available.vanityfair.com – Know the Drill, posted with vodpod

That’s because large swaths of land—private and public—in the watershed have been leased to energy companies eager to drill for natural gas here using a controversial, poorly understood technique called hydraulic fracturing. “Fracking,” as it’s colloquially known, involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals, many of them toxic, into the earth at high pressures to break up rock formations and release natural gas trapped inside. Sixty miles west of Damascus, the town of Dimock, population 1,400, makes all too clear the dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing. You don’t need to drive around Dimock long to notice how the rolling hills and farmland of this Appalachian town are scarred by barren, square-shaped clearings, jagged, newly constructed roads with 18-wheelers driving up and down them, and colorful freight containers labeled “residual waste.” Although there is a moratorium on drilling new wells for the time being, you can still see the occasional active drill site, manned by figures in hazmat suits and surrounded by klieg lights, trailers, and pits of toxic wastewater, the derricks towering over barns, horses, and cows in their shadows.

The real shock that Dimock has undergone, however, is in the aquifer that residents rely on for their fresh water. Dimock is now known as the place where, over the past two years, people’s water started turning brown and making them sick, one woman’s water well spontaneously combusted, and horses and pets mysteriously began to lose their hair.

Craig and Julie Sautner moved to Dimock from a nearby town in March 2008. They were in the process of renovating their modest but beautifully situated home on tree-canopied Carter Road when land men from Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas, a midsize player in the energy-exploration industry, came knocking on their door to inquire about leasing the mineral rights to their three and a half acres of land. The Sautners say the land men told them that their neighbors had already signed leases and that the drilling would have no impact whatsoever on their land. (Others in Dimock claim they were told that if they refused to sign a lease, gas would be taken out from under their land anyway, since under Pennsylvania law a well drilled on a leased piece of property can capture gas from neighboring, unleased properties.) They signed the lease, for a onetime payout of $2,500 per acre—better than the $250 per acre a neighbor across the street received—plus royalties on each producing well.

Drilling operations near their property commenced in August 2008. Trees were cleared and the ground leveled to make room for a four-acre drilling site less than 1,000 feet away from their land. The Sautners could feel the earth beneath their home shake whenever the well was fracked.

Within a month, their water had turned brown. It was so corrosive that it scarred dishes in their dishwasher and stained their laundry. They complained to Cabot, which eventually installed a water-filtration system in the basement of their home. It seemed to solve the problem, but when the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection came to do further tests, it found that the Sautners’ water still contained high levels of methane. More ad hoc pumps and filtration systems were installed. While the Sautners did not drink the water at this point, they continued to use it for other purposes for a full year.

“It was so bad sometimes that my daughter would be in the shower in the morning, and she’d have to get out of the shower and lay on the floor” because of the dizzying effect the chemicals in the water had on her, recalls Craig Sautner, who has worked as a cable splicer for Frontier Communications his whole life. She didn’t speak up about it for a while, because she wondered whether she was imagining the problem. But she wasn’t the only one in the family suffering. “My son had sores up and down his legs from the water,” Craig says. Craig and Julie also experienced frequent headaches and dizziness.

By October 2009, the D.E.P. had taken all the water wells in the Sautners’ neighborhood offline. It acknowledged that a major contamination of the aquifer had occurred. In addition to methane, dangerously high levels of iron and aluminum were found in the Sautners’ water.

The Sautners now rely on water delivered to them every week by Cabot. The value of their land has been decimated. Their children no longer take showers at home. They desperately want to move but cannot afford to buy a new house on top of their current mortgage.

“Our land is worthless,” says Craig. “Who is going to buy this house?”

A s drillers seek to commence fracking operations in the Delaware River basin watershed and in other key watersheds in New York State—all of which sit atop large repositories of natural gas trapped in shale rock deep underground—concerned residents, activists, and government officials are pointing to Dimock as an example of what can go wrong when this form of drilling is allowed to take place without proper regulation. Some are pointing to a wave of groundwater-contamination incidents and mysterious health problems out West, in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming, where hydraulic fracturing has been going on for years as part of a massive oil-and-gas boom, and saying that fracking should not be allowed at all in delicate ecosystems like the Delaware River basin.

Damascus and Dimock are both located above a vast rock formation rich in natural gas known as the Marcellus Shale, which stretches along the Appalachians from West Virginia up to the western half of the state of New York. The gas in the Marcellus Shale has been known about for more than 100 years, but it has become accessible and attractive as a resource only in the past two decades, thanks to technological innovation, the depletion of easier-to-reach, “conventional” gas deposits, and increases in the price of natural gas. Shale-gas deposits are dispersed throughout a thin horizontal layer of loose rock (the shale), generally more than a mile below ground. Conventional vertical drilling cannot retrieve shale gas in an economical way, but when combined with hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling—whereby a deeply drilled well is bent at an angle to run parallel to the surface of the Earth—changes the equation.

Developed by oil-field-services provider Halliburton, which first implemented the technology commercially in 1949 (and which was famously run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president of the United States), hydraulic fracturing has been used in conventional oil and gas wells for decades to increase production when a well starts to run dry. But its use in unconventional types of drilling, from coal-bed methane to shale gas, is relatively new. When a well is fracked, a small earthquake is produced by the pressurized injection of fluids, fracturing the rock around the well. The gas trapped inside is released and makes its way to the surface along with about half of the “fracking fluid,” plus dirt and rock that are occasionally radioactive. From there, the gas is piped to nearby compressor stations that purify it and prepare it to be piped (and sometimes transported in liquefied form) to power plants, manufacturers, and domestic consumers. Volatile organic compounds (carbon-based gaseous substances with a variety of detrimental health effects) and other dangerous chemicals are burned off directly into the air during this on-site compression process. Meanwhile, the returned fracking fluid, now called wastewater, is either trucked off or stored in large, open-air, tarp-lined pits on site, where it is allowed to evaporate. The other portion of the fluid remains deep underground—no one really knows what happens to it.

next

Big Oil and Gas Prepare To Frack Ohio for the Promise of 200,000 Jobs

 

 

 

 

A shale-gas drilling and fracking site in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

[In typical Ohioan Republican “kiss my ass” politics, Gov. Kasich rams through his plans to fracture the shale underlying much of Ohio for the promise of “cheap energy,” without bothering to provide opponents hard evidence of its effects upon our underground aquifers.  Despite its controversial history (SEE:  A Colossal Fracking Mess), fracking is becoming the front end for an oncoming freight train, powered by big gas and oil and the Republican Party interests, which exist to service Big Oil and friends, being rammed down the throats of compliant Ohioans, who would suffer any new hardship for a good paying job.  In my opinion, fracking truly is an environmental nightmare.]    

Ohio shale gas worth billions of dollars and 200,000 jobs

V&M Star steel pipe maker of Youngstown makes pipe for gas and oil wells and would benefit from shale gas exploration in Ohio–Plain Dealer file

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio’s natural gas and oil reserves are a multibillion-dollar bonanza that could create more than 204,500 jobs in just four years, anindustry group said Tuesday

The economic impact study, released on the eve of Gov. John Kasich’s energy summit, attributed the jobs to leasing, royalties, exploration, drilling, production and pipeline construction to produce gas and petroleum from Utica shale, a rock buried more than a mile and a half underground.

The summit is designed to open discussions about Ohio’s use of coal, natural gas and renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind as well as state-mandated energy efficiency rules.

Kasich has made it clear he thinks the state should allow shale gas development, if only because of its enormous potential for economic development.

His administration has insisted it does not oppose renewable energy technologies, currently more expensive that traditional power plants. At the same time, the administration holds that energy costs in the state must be kept as low as possible.

Shale gas production involves drilling deep wells and one or more horizontal shafts from each vertical well. By pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under pressure into the horizontal borings, producers fracture the shale, releasing the gas and oil, which is then produced through the vertical well.

Environmentalists criticize the technology, arguing that the risk of methane infiltrating underground water reservoirs must be figured out before the big energy corporations run rough-shod through the state.

Jack Shaner, spokesman for the Ohio Environmental Council, said Ohio is not ready for the onslaught that Big Oil and Gas is preparing.

Despite the state’s recent passage of a law requiring tougher drilling standards, the administration is still drawing up the actual regulations that drillers must abide, he said.

Shaner said the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is still strengthening air quality standards for oil and gas fields, regulations that will be needed to combat air pollution if the boom envisioned actually happens.

“We could turn the Ohio Valley into Ozone Alley,” Shaner said, explaining that the emissions would come directly from the hydrocarbon themselves.

The new jobs study, contained in a 92-page economic impact analysis, was prepared by economic research company Kleinhenze & Associates of Cleveland for the Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Association.

The conclusions are based on propriety information obtained from large gas and oil corporations that jockeyed for months to lease mineral rights from rural land owners. Marietta College, Ohio State University, Central Ohio Technical College and Zane State College contributed to the data analysis.

Among the study’s main conclusions:

• Over the next five years, oil and gas producers are expected to spend $34 billion in exploration and development, pipelines, royalty payments to landowners and other leasing expenditures.

• New jobs would start slowly — 4,614 jobs this year, increasing to 22,297 next year — and then mushroom by tens of thousands from 2013 through 2015, culminating at an estimated 204,520 jobs by 2015.

• Wages, salaries and personal income attributable to the production would soar to an estimated $12 billion per year, including $1.6 billion in royalties, by 2015.

• Annual tax revenues, including income, property, commercial activity and “severance” taxes or royalties tied to the production would total $478.9 million by 2015.

The Ohio Environmental Council, which has advocated a go-slow approach to shale gas, claims there is at least one U.S. Department of Energy study showing that methane from deep shale gas has migrated into water wells.

The group pointed Tuesday to another study that claims Ohio is already the beneficiary of jobs attributed to renewable energy and energy efficiency manufacturing.

The “Clean Economy” study, released in the spring, was done by the Brookings Institution with help from Battelle, the sponsor of this week’s summit. The study claimed 105,306 Ohio jobs are attributable to new technologies. But that study also included mass transit jobs.

The Environmental Council has been part of an industry group that wants state regulators to allow industry to generate power from waste heat, a practice Ohio’s utilities have resisted.

In another study done by industry and the council, the group estimated Ohio industries could generate 11 billion watts of power from waste heat, enough power to allow Ohio to export electricity.

The Kasich administration has been enthusiastic about this kind of power generation.

 

Pak Leaders Waffle On Iranian Gas, While Imperial Negotiators Shove TAPI Down Their Throats

[It is an amazing sight to watch just how far Pakistani officials are willing to bend over backwards to accommodate Imperial demands made upon them, but it only confirms that most Pakistani officials are born without a backbone.  

It has always been apparent to observers that Pakistan would never buy one ounce of gas from Iranian pipelines, as long as the Empire forbade it.  It seems that the Iranians were the only ones fooled by all this nice talk between talking heads.  Pakistanis are so energy starved that they live with daily “load-sharing” and “brown-outs,” cooking gas is sometimes in short supply, while the govt. teases them with pseudo-news of deals being signed with Iran for new gas lines.  They promised the people new gas supplies by 2014, with the new Iranian gas, while they make secondary deals with the Americans to reject this gas in hand for new nuke plants which cannot be built in less than 10 or 12 years.  The US is forcing Pakistan to settle for this nuclear pipe dream, and to throw all its weight behind the TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) pipe dream, forcing Pakistan to support American plans to pacify Afghanistan, making it safe for TAPI. 

TAPI will never be built, because the Taliban will not be pacified by the dying American Empire. 

By refusing to stand their ground against US bullying and  going ahead with IPI (Iran, Pakistan, India), Pak leaders would be serving their people’s interests and not their own wallets. 

Pakistan will get nothing from their American benefactors, except for the planned violent partitioning of the only “Islamic State.”]

Iran gas pipeline: Pakistan uses US opposition as bargaining chip

Islamabad presses Washington to grant civilian nuclear deal.

ISLAMABAD: The government has apparently decided to use Washington’s opposition to the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline as a bargaining chip to persuade the United States to grant Pakistan a civilian nuclear deal similar to the one between the US and India.

At the recently concluded strategic dialogue between the US and Pakistan on energy, the United States had made it clear that it opposed Pakistan’s decision to import gas from Iran, even going so far as to threaten sanctions if Pakistan did not withdraw from the deal.

Sources close to Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar said that Pakistani officials then used that opposition as an opportunity to press once again for a civilian nuclear power deal. Qamar was leading the Pakistani delegation during the talks held in Islamabad.

“The US did not respond to Pakistan’s demands,” said sources familiar with the discussions, adding that it is not yet clear as to whether or not Pakistan would end up shelving the Iran gas pipeline project if the US provided assistance with nuclear power plants.

Pakistan faces a chronic power shortage, sharpened to some degree by the depletion of the nation’s own gas reserves. The last major discoveries of gas fields were in the 1990s and were not enough to replace the depletion of the much larger gas fields that were discovered much earlier in the 1950s.

The US has proposed that Pakistan pursue the gas pipeline deal with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and India, known as the TAPI pipeline. While Pakistan has welcomed US support for the project, Islamabad views TAPI as insufficient for the country’s rapidly growing energy needs.

The government estimates that the power crisis in the country reduces economic growth by between 2% and 2.5% of gross domestic product every year. Supplies from Iran could go a long way towards helping to mitigate that crisis.

There are also several technical reasons why gas supplies from Iran are likely to be far cheaper than those from Turkmenistan.

The Iranian gas pipeline would connect the Pakistani gas hub at Nawabshah with the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, which is by most estimates, the largest in the world. Larger gas fields tend to be far cheaper to extract gas from, since a smaller number of wells need to be dug to extract larger amounts of gas, requiring a smaller initial investment and smaller operating costs.

Turkmenistan’s gas reserves in the Caspian, while significant, are not as big as those of Iran, and certainly do not have any gas fields that approach anywhere near the size of the South Pars field.

In addition, the negotiations for the TAPI pipeline are still at a relatively early stage and have hit several snags, largely due to disputes over pricing and even completing feasibility studies.

“Turkmenistan has yet to provide audited certification of gas reserves, which has been pending for several years,” said one source familiar with the negotiations.

Another potential problem might be the insurance costs for the pipeline, likely to be driven to prohibitively high levels due to the fact that the pipeline passes through Afghanistan, currently in the midst of an intense Taliban insurgency.

Other hurdles include the fact that the countries have yet to finalise a gas price or sign the gas sales purchase agreement.

Developing coal

Gas and nuclear energy, however, are not the only sources of power that Pakistani officials spoke to US officials about. “Islamabad also asked the US to extend support to exploit coal reserves,” said one source.

The Thar coal reserves in Sindh are estimated to be the third largest in the world, by some measures. The Sindh government has been trying to develop them since the early 1990s but has only recently developed partnerships with private sector firms, such as the Engro Corporation, to do so.

(Additional input by farooq tirmizi)

Published in The Express Tribune

Gas Pipeline In Slum Explodes Again

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Scores killed as slum pipeline bursts again

Jeffrey Gettleman

NAIROBI: The word went out at 9am. The pipeline had burst, again, and petrol was splashing freely down by the river.The whole slum seemed to spring into action, with men, women and children grabbing buckets, oil tins, battered yellow jerry cans – anything to carry the leaking fuel. Even minibuses raced in from kilometres away, looking for free petrol, a small godsend in a place where most people are unemployed and live in rusty metal shacks that rent for $US25 ($24) a month.

But then the wind shifted, witnesses said, and embers from the garbage fires that routinely burn by the river wafted towards the area where the fuel was gushing out. There was no time to escape. The fuel exploded, sending a giant fireball shooting up over the slum, engulfing scores of people and scattering bodies that were left in various poses of anguish, burnt to the bone.

Advertisement: Story continues below
No escape ... crowds of people look at the destruction after another pipeline blast in Nairobi claimed the lives of at least 100 people.No escape … crowds of people look at the destruction after another pipeline blast in Nairobi claimed the lives of at least 100 people. Photo: Khalil Senosi

”All I can say is ‘pole sana’,” said Kalonzo Musyoka, the Vice-President of Kenya, using the Swahili words reserved for condolences. ”These people died like goats.”

Officials estimated that more than 100 people may have perished in the fire on Monday morning. This is not the first time scores of poor Kenyans have died in a fire while scooping up spilled fuel. In 2009, at least 113 people were burnt to death after a huge crowd descended on an overturned petrol tanker, which then blew up.

Several other spills have resulted in infernos and a few weeks ago the Kenyan police were criticised for firing into the air and wounding a woman in an attempt to drive people away from a fuel spill.

Residents of the Sinai slum, where the fire broke out, said fuel spills happened all the time.

”People started saying this morning, ‘There’s a spill, in the usual place; let’s get over there’,” Zackiyo Mwangi, a vendor of pirated CDs said. ”Yeah, I know, it’s dangerous, but that’s how life is here.”

Sinai is a warren of iron-sheeted shacks and muddy footpaths tucked behind Nairobi’s industrial area, not far from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. A main pipeline, that carries petrol, diesel and jet fuel from the port of Mombasa right across Kenya, slices through this tightly packed slum.

In 2008, the pipeline company tried to evict residents, saying it was illegal – and very dangerous – to live right above a high-pressure pipeline, but the people refused to budge.

The blast tore apart kiosks and homes and left a preschool blackened and smoking. It was unclear how many, if any, of the children had been killed

”Maybe the teacher got them all out,” said Grace Waithira, who lives nearby. But her tears seemed to suggest otherwise.

Red Cross volunteers pulled zippers over bodies in white plastic bags, scribbling in blue felt-tip marker ”male, adult,” ”male, child”, or other simple indicators on the plastic.

The air was heavy with the stench of garbage, petrol and charred flesh. While the burning garbage may have lighted this fire, poverty seemed to be the real fuse. ”This just shows you how these people will do anything to generate a coin,” said MP Johnson Muthama. ”Just look at them.” He gestured towards a crowd of thousands of onlookers, mostly young men in grubby clothes, staring gape-mouthed at all the bodies.

”They are ready to risk their lives for anything.”

More than 100 dead in Kenyan pipeline fire

More than 100 dead in Kenyan pipeline fire

NAIROBI: More than 100 people burned to death when a fuel pipeline burst into flames in a slum area in the Kenyan capital, police said Monday.

“We are putting the number of dead at over 100, we are waiting for body bags to put the victims into,” said Thomas Atuti, area police commander.

The explosion happened in Nairobi’s Lunga Lunga industrial area, which is surrounded by the densely packed tin-shack housing of the Sinai slum.

“There had been a leak in the fuel pipeline earlier, and people were going to collect the fuel that was coming out,” said Joseph Mwego, a resident.

“Then there was a loud bang, a big explosion, and smoke and fire burst up high.”

Many residents were caught up in the blaze, which started around 0530 GMT, and an AFP reporter at the scene counted scores of charred bodies around the fire.

“People were trying to scoop fuel from the pipeline,” a Red Cross official confirmed by telephone, adding that the organisation had sent a team to the scene of the fire.

“I have never seen this in my life. I have seen women and children burnt like firewood. The very worst was a woman burned with her baby on her back,” a local resident Francis Muendo told AFP.

“We’re not sure about the number (of casualties)” said Dan Mutinda, a Red Cross official coordinating relief efforts at the scene of the fire. “From where I am I can see over 40 bodies burned completely. A couple have been swept away by the river.”

Some of those who caught fire jumped into a nearby stream to try to extinguish the flames when their clothing and hair caught fire, but many succumbed to their injuries in the water. Police have placed a net across the stream to prevent the bodies from drifting away.

Mutinda said the last of the injured have now been evacuated and he and his colleagues are now concentrating on “support and tracing services.”

The sound of ambulance sirens ferrying away the injured for medical care gave way to the shouts of children, some in school uniform, running around searching for their parents.

Bystanders covered their mouths to avoid choking on the acrid smoke. Firefighters in protective clothing sprayed chemical foam to try to contain the fire, while both police and soldiers roped off the area and pushed people back from the area.

Houses close to the pipeline were also engulfed in flames, their tin roofs buckling and disintegrating and their badly burned residents evacuated for medical care.

Local televisions said scores of burn victims had been taken to hospital and showed footage of the injured being ferried by ambulance.

Fuel leaks and oil tanker accidents in Africa often draw huge crowds scrambling to scoop fuel, resulting in many deaths due to accidental fires.

In 2009, 122 people were killed after a fire erupted while they were drawing fuel from an overturned tanker in western Kenya.

Explosion at French nuclear plant of Marcoule

Explosion at French nuclear plant of Marcoule

Map

One person has been killed and four injured, one seriously, by an explosion at the southern French nuclear plant of Marcoule.

There were no radioactive leaks after the blast, caused by a fire near a furnace in a radioactive waste storage site, a French nuclear official said.

A security perimeter has been set up because of the risk of leakage.

The plant produces MOX fuel, which recycles plutonium from nuclear weapons, but does not include reactors.

It is a major site involved with the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.

The Centraco treatment centre belongs to a subsidiary of national electricity provider EDF.

The explosion hit the plant at 1145 local time (0945 GMT).

“For the time being nothing has made it outside,” said a spokesman for France’s Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).

Marcoule, one of France’s oldest nuclear plants, is located in the Gard department in Languedoc-Roussillon region, near France’s Mediterranean coast.

Nuclear energy provides more than 70% of France’s energy needs.

All the country’s 58 nuclear reactors have been put through stress tests in recent months, following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant which was hit by an earthquake and tsunami.

EDF’s share prices fell by more than 6% as news of the blast emerged.

Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber

Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber

m_topn picture

J U N E  2 0 0 0

In the fall of 1958 Theodore Kaczynski, a brilliant but vulnerable boy of sixteen, entered Harvard College. There he encountered a prevailing intellectual atmosphere of anti-technological despair. There, also, he was deceived into subjecting himself to a series of purposely brutalizing psychological experiments — experiments that may have confirmed his still-forming belief in the evil of science. Was the Unabomber born at Harvard? A look inside the files

by Alston Chase

(The online version of this article appears in four parts. Click here to go to part two, part three, or part four.)
LIKE many Harvard alumni, I sometimes wander the neighborhood when I return to Cambridge, reminiscing about the old days and musing on how different my life has been from what I hoped and expected then. On a trip there last fall I found myself a few blocks north of Harvard Yard, on Divinity Avenue. Near the end of this dead-end street sits the Peabody Museum — a giant Victorian structure attached to the Botanical Museum, where my mother had taken me as a young boy, in 1943, to view the spectacular exhibit of glass flowers. These left such a vivid impression that a decade later my recollection of them inspired me, then a senior in high school, to apply to Harvard.This time my return was prompted not by nostalgia but by curiosity. No. 7 Divinity Avenue is a modern multi-story academic building today, housing the university’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. In 1959 a comfortable old house stood on the site. Known as the Annex, it served as a laboratory in which staff members of the Department of Social Relations conducted research on human subjects. There, from the fall of 1959 through the spring of 1962, Harvard psychologists, led by Henry A. Murray, conducted a disturbing and what would now be seen as ethically indefensible experiment on twenty-two undergraduates. To preserve the anonymity of these student guinea pigs, experimenters referred to individuals by code name only. One of these students, whom they dubbed “Lawful,” was Theodore John Kaczynski, who would one day be known as the Unabomber, and who would later mail or deliver sixteen package bombs to scientists, academicians, and others over seventeen years, killing three people and injuring twenty-three.IHAD a special interest in Kaczynski. For many years he and I had lived parallel lives to some degree. Both of us had attended public high schools and had then gone on to Harvard, from which I graduated in 1957, he in 1962. At Harvard we took many of the same courses from the same professors. We were both graduate students and assistant professors in the 1960s. I studied at Oxford and received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton before joining the faculty at Ohio State and later serving as chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Macalester College, in Minnesota. Kaczynski earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Michigan in 1967 and then joined the Berkeley Department of Mathematics as an instructor. In the early 1970s, at roughly the same time, we separately fled civilization to the Montana wilderness.

In 1971 Kaczynski moved to Great Falls, Montana; that summer he began building a cabin near the town of Lincoln, eighty miles southwest of Great Falls, on a lot he and his brother, David, had bought. In 1972 my wife and I bought an old homestead fifty-five miles south of Great Falls. Three years later we gave up our teaching jobs to live in Montana full-time. Our place had neither telephone nor electricity; it was ten miles from the nearest neighbor. In winter we were snowbound for months at a time.

In our desire to leave civilization Kaczynski and I were not alone. Many others sought a similar escape. What, I wondered, had driven Kaczynski into the wilderness, and to murder? To what degree were his motives simply a more extreme form of the alienation that prompted so many of us to seek solace in the backwoods?

Most of us may believe we already know Ted Kaczynski. According to the conventional wisdom, Kaczynski, a brilliant former professor of mathematics turned Montana hermit and mail bomber, is, simply, mentally ill. He is a paranoid schizophrenic, and there is nothing more about him to interest us. But the conventional wisdom is mistaken. I came to discover that Kaczynski is neither the extreme loner he has been made out to be nor in any clinical sense mentally ill. He is an intellectual and a convicted murderer, and to understand the connections between these two facts we must revisit his time at Harvard.

I first heard of the Murray experiment from Kaczynski himself. We had begun corresponding in July of 1998, a couple of months after a federal court in Sacramento sentenced him to life without possibility of parole. Kaczynski, I quickly discovered, was an indefatigable correspondent. Sometimes his letters to me came so fast that it was difficult to answer one before the next arrived. The letters were written with great humor, intelligence, and care. And, I found, he was in his own way a charming correspondent. He has apparently carried on a similarly voluminous correspondence with many others, often developing close friendships with them through the mail.Kaczynski told me that the Henry A. Murray Research Centerof the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, although it released some raw data about him to his attorneys, had refused to share information about the Murray team’s analysis of that data. Kaczynski hinted darkly that the Murray Center seemed to feel it had something to hide. One of his defense investigators, he said, reported that the center had told participating psychologists not to talk with his defense team.

After this intriguing start Kaczynski told me little more about the Murray experiment than what I could find in the published literature. Henry Murray’s widow, Nina, was friendly and cooperative, but could provide few answers to my questions. Several of the research assistants I interviewed couldn’t, or wouldn’t, talk much about the study. Nor could the Murray Center be entirely forthcoming. After considering my application, its research committee approved my request to view the records of this experiment, the so-called data set, which referred to subjects by code names only. But because Kaczynski’s alias was by then known to some journalists, I was not permitted to view his records.

Through research at the Murray Center and in the Harvard archives I found that, among its other purposes, Henry Murray’s experiment was intended to measure how people react under stress. Murray subjected his unwitting students, including Kaczynski, to intensive interrogation — what Murray himself called “vehement, sweeping, and personally abusive” attacks, assaulting his subjects’ egos and most-cherished ideals and beliefs.

My quest was specific — to determine what effects, if any, the experiment may have had on Kaczynski. This was a subset of a larger question: What effects had Harvard had on Kaczynski? In 1998, as he faced trial for murder, Kaczynski was examined by Sally Johnson, a forensic psychiatrist with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, at the order of a court. In her evaluation Johnson wrote that Kaczynski “has intertwined his two belief systems, that society is bad and he should rebel against it, and his intense anger at his family for his perceived injustices.” The Unabomber was created when these two belief systems converged. And it was at Harvard, Johnson suggested, that they first surfaced and met. She wrote,

During his college years he had fantasies of living a primitive life and fantasized himself as “an agitator, rousing mobs to frenzies of revolutionary violence.” He claims that during that time he started to think about breaking away from normal society.

It was at Harvard that Kaczynski first encountered the ideas about the evils of society that would provide a justification for and a focus to an anger he had felt since junior high school. It was at Harvard that he began to develop these ideas into his anti-technology ideology of revolution. It was at Harvard that Kaczynski began to have fantasies of revenge, began to dream of escaping into wilderness. And it was at Harvard, as far as can be determined, that he fixed on dualistic ideas of good and evil, and on a mathematical cognitive style that led him to think he could find absolute truth through the application of his own reason. Was the Unabomber — “the most intellectual serial killer the nation has ever produced,” as one criminologist has called him — born at Harvard?

The ManifestoTHE story of Kaczynski’s crimes began more than twenty-two years ago, but the chain of consequences they triggered has yet to run its course. Dubbed “the Unabomber” by the FBI because his early victims were associated with universities or airlines, Kaczynski conducted an increasingly lethal campaign of terrorism that began on May 26, 1978, when his first bomb slightly injured a Northwestern University public-safety officer, Terry Marker, and ended on April 24, 1995, when a bomb he had mailed killed the president of the California Forestry Association, Gilbert Murray. Yet until 1993 Kaczynski remained mute, and his intentions were entirely unknown.

By 1995 his explosives had taken a leap in sophistication; that year he suddenly became loquacious, writing letters to newspapers, magazines, targets, and a victim. Two years laterThe Washington Post, in conjunction with The New York Times, published copies of the 35,000-word essay that Kaczynski titled “Industrial Society and Its Future,” and which the press called “The Manifesto.”

Recognizing the manifesto as Kaczynski’s writing, his brother, David, turned Kaczynski in to the FBI, which arrested him at his Montana cabin on April 3, 1996. Later that year Kaczynski was removed to California to stand trial for, among other crimes, two Unabomber murders committed in that state. On January 8, 1998, having failed to dissuade his attorneys from their intention of presenting an insanity defense, and having failed to persuade the presiding judge, Garland E. Burrell Jr., to allow him to choose a new attorney, Kaczynski asked the court for permission to represent himself. In response Burrell ordered Sally Johnson to examine Kaczynski, to determine if he was competent to direct his own defense. Johnson offered a “provisional” diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, but she concluded that Kaczynski was nevertheless competent to represent himself. Burrell refused to allow it. Faced with the prospect of a humiliating trial in which his attorneys would portray him as insane and his philosophy as the ravings of a madman, Kaczynski capitulated: in exchange for the government’s agreement not to seek the death penalty, he pleaded guilty to thirteen federal bombing offenses that killed three men and seriously injured two others, and acknowledged responsibility for sixteen bombings from 1978 to 1995. On May 4, 1998, he was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Driving these events from first bomb to plea bargain was Kaczynski’s strong desire to have his ideas — as described in the manifesto — taken seriously.

“The Industrial Revolution and its consequences,” Kaczynski’s manifesto begins, “have been a disaster for the human race.” They have led, it contends, to the growth of a technological system dependent on a social, economic, and political order that suppresses individual freedom and destroys nature. “The system does not and cannot exist to satisfy human needs. Instead, it is human behavior that has to be modified to fit the needs of the system.”

By forcing people to conform to machines rather than vice versa, the manifesto states, technology creates a sick society hostile to human potential. Because technology demands constant change, it destroys local, human-scale communities. Because it requires a high degree of social and economic organization, it encourages the growth of crowded and unlivable cities and of mega-states indifferent to the needs of citizens.

This evolution toward a civilization increasingly dominated by technology and the power structure serving technology, the manifesto argues, cannot be reversed on its own, because “technology is a more powerful social force than the aspiration for freedom,” and because “while technological progress AS A WHOLE continually narrows our sphere of freedom, each new technical advance CONSIDERED BY ITSELF appears to be desirable.” Hence science and technology constitute “a mass power movement, and many scientists gratify their need for power through identification with this mass movement.” Therefore “the technophiles are taking us all on an utterly reckless ride into the unknown.”

Because human beings must conform to the machine,

our society tends to regard as a “sickness” any mode of thought or behavior that is inconvenient for the system, and this is plausible because when an individual doesn’t fit into the system it causes pain to the individual as well as problems for the system. Thus the manipulation of an individual to adjust him to the system is seen as a “cure” for a “sickness” and therefore as good.

This requirement, the manifesto continues, has given rise to a social infrastructure dedicated to modifying behavior. This infrastructure includes an array of government agencies with ever-expanding police powers, an out-of-control regulatory system that encourages the limitless multiplication of laws, an education establishment that stresses conformism, ubiquitous television networks whose fare is essentially an electronic form of Valium, and a medical and psychological establishment that promotes the indiscriminate use of mind-altering drugs. Since the system threatens humanity’s survival and cannot be reformed, Kaczynski argued, it must be destroyed. Indeed, the system will probably collapse on its own, when the weight of human suffering it creates becomes unbearable. But the longer it persists, the more devastating will be the ultimate collapse. Hence “revolutionaries” like the Unabomber “by hastening the onset of the breakdown will be reducing the extent of the disaster.”

“We have no illusions about the feasibility of creating a new, ideal form of society,” Kaczynski wrote. “Our goal is only to destroy the existing form of society.” But this movement does have a further goal. It is to protect “wild nature,” which is the opposite of technology. Admittedly, “eliminating industrial society” may have some “negative consequences,” but “well, you can’t eat your cake and have it too.”

THE Unabomber’s manifesto was greeted in 1995 by many thoughtful people as a work of genius, or at least profundity, and as quite sane. In The New York Timesthe environmental writer Kirkpatrick Sale wrote that the Unabomber “is a rational man and his principal beliefs are, if hardly mainstream, entirely reasonable.” In The Nation Sale declared that the manifesto’s first sentence “is absolutely crucial for the American public to understand and ought to be on the forefront of the nation’s political agenda.” The science writer Robert Wright observed in Time magazine, “There’s a little bit of the unabomber in most of us.” An essay in The New Yorkerby Cynthia Ozick described the Unabomber as America’s “own Raskolnikov — the appealing, appalling, and disturbingly visionary murderer of ‘Crime and Punishment,’ Dostoyevsky’s masterwork of 1866.” Ozick called the Unabomber a “philosophical criminal of exceptional intelligence and humanitarian purpose, who is driven to commit murder out of an uncompromising idealism.” Sites devoted to the Unabomber multiplied on the Internet — the Church of Euthanasia Freedom ClubUnapack, the Unabomber Political Action Committee; alt.fan.unabomber; Chuck’s Unabomb Page; redacted.com; MetroActive; and Steve Hau’s Rest Stop. The University of Colorado hosted a panel titled “The Unabomber Had a Point.”

By 1997, however, when Kaczynski’s trial opened, the view had shifted. Although psychiatrists for the prosecution continued to cite the manifesto as proof of Kaczynski’s sanity, experts for the defense and many in the media now viewed it as a symptom and a product of severe mental illness. The document, they argued, revealed a paranoid mind. During the trial the press frequently quoted legal experts who attested to Kaczynski’s insanity. Gerald Lefcourt, then the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the defendant was “obviously disturbed.” Donald Heller, a former federal prosecutor, said, “This guy is not playing with a full deck.” The writer Maggie Scarf suggested in The New Republic that Kaczynski suffered from “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

Michael Mello, a professor at Vermont Law School, is the author of The United States of America vs. Theodore John Kaczynski. He and William Finnegan, a writer for The New Yorker, have suggested that Kaczynski’s brother, David, his mother, Wanda, and their lawyer, Tony Bisceglie, along with Kaczynski’s defense attorneys, persuaded many in the media to portray Kaczynski as a paranoid schizophrenic. To a degree this is true. Anxious to save Kaczynski from execution, David and Wanda gave a succession of interviews from 1996 onward to The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Sixty Minutes, among other outlets, in which they sought to portray Kaczynski as mentally disturbed and pathologically antisocial since childhood. Meanwhile — against his wishes and without his knowledge, Kaczynski insists — his attorneys launched a mental-health defense for their client.

One psychology expert for the defense, Karen Bronk Froming, concluded that Kaczynski exhibited a “predisposition to schizophrenia.” Another, David Vernon Foster, saw “a clear and consistent picture of schizophrenia, paranoid type.” Still another, Xavier F. Amador, described Kaczynski as “typical of the hundreds of patients with schizophrenia.” How did the experts reach their conclusions? Although objective tests alone suggested to Froming only that Kaczynski’s answers were “consistent with” schizophrenia, she told Finnegan it was Kaczynski’s writings — in particular his “anti-technology” views — that cemented this conclusion for her. Foster, who met with Kaczynski a few times but never formally examined him, cited his “delusional themes” as evidence of sickness. Amador, who never met Kaczynski at all, based his judgment on the “delusional beliefs” he detected in Kaczynski’s writing. And Sally Johnson’s provisional diagnosis — that Kaczynski suffered from “Paranoid Type” schizophrenia — was largely based on her conviction that he harbored “delusional beliefs” about the threats posed by technology. The experts also found evidence of Kaczynski’s insanity in his refusal to accept their diagnoses or to help them reach those diagnoses.

Most claims of mental illness rested on the diagnoses of experts whose judgments, therefore, derived largely from their opinions of Kaczynski’s philosophy and his personal habits — he was a recluse, a wild man in appearance, a slob of a housekeeper, a celibate — and from his refusal to admit he was ill. Thus Froming cited Kaczynski’s “unawareness of his disease” as an indication of illness. Foster complained of the defendant’s “symptom-based failure to cooperate fully with psychiatric evaluation.” Amador said that the defendant suffered “from severe deficits in awareness of illness.”

But Kaczynski was no more unkempt than many other people on our streets. His cabin was no messier than the offices of many college professors. The Montana wilds are filled with escapists like Kaczynski (and me). Celibacy and misanthropy are not diseases. Nor was Kaczynski really so much of a recluse. Any reporter could quickly discover, as I did through interviews with scores of people who have known Kaczynski (classmates, teachers, neighbors), that he was not the extreme loner he has been made out to be. And, surely, a refusal to admit to being insane or to cooperate with people who are paid to pronounce one insane cannot be taken seriously as proof of insanity.

Why were the media and the public so ready to dismiss Kaczynski as crazy? Kaczynski kept voluminous journals, and in one entry, apparently from before the bombing started, he anticipated this question.

I intend to start killing people. If I am successful at this, it is possible that, when I am caught (not alive, I fervently hope!) there will be some speculation in the news media as to my motives for killing…. If some speculation occurs, they are bound to make me out to be a sickie, and to ascribe to me motives of a sordid or “sick” type. Of course, the term “sick” in such a context represents a value judgment…. the news media may have something to say about me when I am killed or caught. And they are bound to try to analyse my psychology and depict me as “sick.” This powerful bias should be borne [in mind] in reading any attempts to analyse my psychology.

Michael Mello suggests that the public wished to see Kaczynski as insane because his ideas are too extreme for us to contemplate without discomfort. He challenges our most cherished beliefs. Mello writes,

The manifesto challenges the basic assumptions of virtually every interest group that was involved with the case: the lawyers, the mental health experts, the press and politics — both left and right…. Kaczynski’s defense team convinced the media and the public that Kaczynski was crazy, even in the absence of credible evidence … [because] we needed to believe it…. They decided that the Unabomber was mentally ill, and his ideas were mad. Then they forgot about the man and his ideas, and created a curative tale.

Mello is only half right. It is true that many believed Kaczynski was insane because they needed to believe it. But the truly disturbing aspect of Kaczynski and his ideas is not that they are so foreign but that they are so familiar. The manifesto is the work of neither a genius nor a maniac. Except for its call to violence, the ideas it expresses are perfectly ordinary and unoriginal, shared by many Americans. Its pessimism over the direction of civilization and its rejection of the modern world are shared especially with the country’s most highly educated. The manifesto is, in other words, an academic — and popular — cliché. And if concepts that many of us unreflectively accept can lead a person to commit serial murder, what does that say about us? We need to see Kaczynski as exceptional — madman or genius — because the alternative is so much more frightening.

“Exceedingly Stable”NO. 8 Prescott Street in Cambridge is a well-preserved three-story Victorian frame house, standing just outside Harvard Yard. Today it houses Harvard’s expository-writing program. But in September of 1958, when Ted Kaczynski, just sixteen, arrived at Harvard, 8 Prescott Street was a more unusual place, a sort of incubator. Earlier that year F. Skiddy von Stade Jr., Harvard’s dean of freshmen, had decided to use the house as living accommodations for the brightest, youngest freshmen. Von Stade’s well-intentioned idea was to provide these boys with a nurturing, intimate environment, so that they wouldn’t feel lost, as they might in the larger, less personal dorms. But in so doing he isolated the overly studious and less-mature boys from their classmates. He inadvertently created a ghetto for grinds, making social adjustment for them more, rather than less, difficult.

“I lived at Prescott Street that year too,” Michael Stucki told me recently. “And like Kaczynski, I was majoring in mathematics. Yet I swear I never ever even saw the guy.” Stucki, who recently retired after a career in computers, lived alone on the top floor, far from Kaczynski’s ground-floor room. In the unsocial society of 8 Prescott, that was a big distance. “It was not unusual to spend all one’s time in one’s room and then rush out the door to library or class,” Stucki said.

Francis Murphy, the Prescott Street proctor, was a graduate student who had studied for the Catholic priesthood, and to Kaczynski it seemed the house was intended to be run more like a monastery than a dorm. Whereas other freshmen lived in suites with one or two roommates, six of the sixteen students of Prescott Street, including Kaczynski, lived in single rooms. All but seven intended to major in a mathematical science. All but three came from high schools outside New England, and therefore knew few people in Massachusetts. They were, in Murphy’s words, “a serious, quiet bunch.”

Much has been made of Kaczynski’s being a “loner” and of his having been further isolated by Harvard’s famed snobbism. Snobbism was indeed pervasive at Harvard back then. A single false sartorial step could brand one an outcast. And Kaczynski looked shabby. He owned just two pairs of slacks and only a few shirts. Although he washed these each week in the coin-operated machine in the basement of the house next door to 8 Prescott, they became increasingly ragtag.

But it is a mistake to exaggerate Kaczynski’s isolation. Most public high schoolers at Harvard in those days, including Kaczynski, viewed the tweedy in-crowd as so many buttoned-down buffoons who did not realize how ridiculous they looked. And the evidence is that Kaczynski was neither exceptionally a loner nor, at least in his early years at Harvard, alienated from the school or his peers.

Harvard was a “tremendous thing for me,” Kaczynski wrote in an unpublished autobiography that he completed in 1998 and showed to me. “I got something that I had been needing all along without knowing it, namely, hard work requiring self-discipline and strenuous exercise of my abilities. I threw myself into this…. I thrived on it…. Feeling the strength of my own will, I became enthusiastic about will power.”

Freshmen were required to participate in sports, so Kaczynski took up swimming and then wrestling. He played the trombone, as he had in high school, even joining the Harvard band (which he quit almost as soon as he learned that he would have to attend drill sessions). He played pickup basketball. He made a few friends. One of his housemates, Gerald Burns, remembers sitting with Kaczynski in an all-night cafeteria, arguing about the philosophy of Kant. After Kaczynski’s arrest Burns wrote to the anarchist journal Fifth Estate that Kaczynski “was as normal as I am now: it was [just] harder on him because he was much younger than his classmates.” And indeed, most reports of his teachers, his academic adviser, his housemaster, and the health-services staff suggest that Kaczynski was in his first year at Harvard entirely balanced, although tending to be a loner. The health-services doctor who interviewed Kaczynski as part of the medical examination Harvard required for all freshmen observed,

Good impression created. Attractive, mature for age, relaxed…. Talks easily, fluently and pleasantly…. likes people and gets on well with them. May have many acquaintances but makes his friends carefully. Prefers to be by himself part of the time at least. May be slightly shy…. Essentially a practical and realistic planner and an efficient worker…. Exceedingly stable, well integrated and feels secure within himself. Usually very adaptable. May have many achievements and satisfactions.

The doctor further described Kaczynski thus: “Pleasant young man who is below usual college entrance age. Apparently a good mathematician but seems to be gifted in this direction only. Plans not crystallized yet but this is to be expected at his age. Is slightly shy and retiring but not to any abnormal extent. Should be [a] steady worker.”

Continued…(The online version of this article appears in four parts. Click here to go to part two, part three, or part four.)


Alston Chase is the author of Playing God in Yellowstone(1986) and In a Dark Wood (1995). He is at work on a book about Theodore Kaczynski.

The Price of Our Imperial Wars Hitting Home, With Frontline Troops Hoping Their Wives Get Paid

“My soul aches when I think about hungry soldiers, unpaid officers and their families, who have been suffering for years without a home of their own.”–Boris Yeltsin

Anxiety in Afghanistan over troops pay if US defaults

* Aug. 2 deadline raises anxiety for U.S. troops

* Fallout on U.S. forces from a default unknown

* U.S. troops seen reporting for duty regardless

By Phil Stewart

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, July 30 (Reuters) – It is unclear if the United States will be able to pay troops on time in the event of a debt default, the top U.S. military officer told troops in Afghanistan on Saturday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Pentagon officials were working hard to plan for a potential default but cautioned that the circumstances were extraordinary.

“So I honestly can’t answer that question,” he told troops at Kandahar air base in southern Afghanistan, as several expressed anxiety over budget wrangling in Washington.

Potentially suspending pay to U.S. forces waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is an extremely sensitive subject in the United States and Mullen acknowledged that many troops lived paycheck to paycheck.

“So if paychecks were to stop, it would have a devastating impact,” Mullen said, answering questions from troops.

“I’d like to give you a better answer than that right now, I just honestly don’t know,” he said.

The United States has warned that it will run out of money to pay all of its bills after Aug. 2 without a deal from Congress to raise a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Where U.S. troops fall in priority for payment in a default has not been made clear.

With $172 billion of revenue between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, the U.S. Treasury could fully fund Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid, interest on the debt, defense vendor payments and unemployment insurance, found a study by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center.

But that would leave entire government departments — such as Labor, Commerce, Energy and Justice — unfunded, and many others unpaid, like active-duty troops and the federal workforce.

Mullen said he believed that troops would be paid eventually, and added that there was an expectation U.S. forces, seen as essential to national security, would need to show up for work.

“I have confidence that at some point in time whatever compensation you were owed you will be given,” he said.

“But I don’t know mechanically exactly how that would happen. And it is a huge concern.”

While a group of congressmen pushed forward a bill this week to ensure that the active military servicemen still get paid in the case of default, there’s no firm plan yet.

The White House hasn’t made any assurances and neither has the Treasury Department.

Some financial organizations that service military clients, like USAA and the Andrews Federal Credit Union, have stepped up to say that they will advance pay if there is a default. (Editing byMichelle Nichols)

Are rightwing bloggers to blame for the Norway massacre?

Are rightwing bloggers to blame for the Norway massacre?

In an article titled Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S., the New York Times highlights the connection between Anders Behring Breivik and American bloggers:

The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them…

His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as failing to defend the country from Islamic influence, quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch Web site, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.

Mr. Breivik frequently cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the Gates of Vienna among Web sites. Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam who runs Atlas Shrugs, wrote on her blog Sunday that any assertion that she or other antijihad writers bore any responsibility for Mr. Breivik’s actions was “ridiculous.”

Much as I find Geller’s writing execrable, the primary responsibility for the slaughter in Norway rests with the cowardly killer and not the hate-mongers he quotes in his pathetic manifesto.

That’s not to say that there are no consequences for spewing a constant stream of hatred and intolerance.

After the Giffords shooting, I wrote about eliminationism on the right. My focus was on the invective directed by rightwingers at the left, but it also applies to anti-Muslim bigotry rampant on a number of conservative sites…

Hate breeds violence (Originally posted 1/8/11)

Anyone who listens to the relentless liberal-bashing on rightwing radio and other conservative outlets will quickly realize that the level of vitriol and derision directed at the left will inevitably provoke a few individuals to act out. And they do. Often with deadly consequences.

Digby explains:

It is clear to me that most people in journalism and (non-right wing) blogging do not listen to right wing talk radio very often and simply cannot believe it when critics report what they are saying. … I realize that it’s hard to believe that Americans are this obnoxious. It’s probably even harder to believe they are paid hundreds of millions of dollars to promote this bigotry on the radio to millions of other Americans, but they are — they are speaking the language of eliminationism and hate day after day after day. If it soothes you to believe that those who are alarmed by that are the intemperate ones so be it, but it doesn’t change what they are doing or the effect it’s had on our politics.

For context, read The Terrorist Threat: Right-Wing Radicals and the Eliminationist Mindset:

An abortion provider who had been a frequent target of Fox News’ bloviator Bill O’Reilly was gunned down during a church service in Kansas; a mentally disturbed man who believed the “tea-bagging” movement’s contention that the Obama administration is destroying the American economy — and who reportedly owned a number of firearms — withdrew $85,000 from his bank account, said he was part of a plot to assassinate the president and disappeared (he was later captured in Las Vegas); and this week, a white supremacist who was deeply steeped in far-right conspiracism entered the U.S. Holocaust Museum and opened fire, killing a guard before being shot and wounded by security personnel.

The three incidents share a common feature: All of these men thought they were serving a higher moral purpose, that is, defending their country from an insidious “enemy within” as defined by the far right — a “baby-killer,” the Jews who secretly control the world and a president who’s been accused of being aManchurian Candidate-style foreign agent bent on nothing less than the destruction of the American Way.

David Neiwert, a veteran journalist who has covered violent right-wing groups for years, calls the worldview that informs this twisted sense of moral purpose “eliminationism.” It’s the belief that one’s political opponents are not just wrongheaded, misinformed or even acting in bad faith. Eliminationism holds that they are a cancer on the body politic that must be excised — either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination — in order to protect the purity of the nation.

As eliminationist rhetoric becomes increasingly mainstream within the American right — fueled in large part by the wildly overheated discourse found on conservative blogs and talk radio — Neiwert’s new book,The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, could not have come at a more important time. In it, Neiwert painstakingly details how the rise in eliminationism is a very real threat and points to the dangers of dismissing extreme rhetoric as merely a form of “entertainment.”

Here’s an exceptionally detailed post from Media Matters on another example of rightwing hate breeding violence:

I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind.” – Byron Williams

Byron Williams, a 45-year-old ex-felon, exploded onto the national stage in the early morning hours of July 18.

According to a police investigation, Williams opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers who had stopped him on an Oakland freeway for driving erratically. For 12 frantic minutes, Williams traded shots with the police, employing three firearms and a small arsenal of ammunition, including armor-piercing rounds fired from a .308-caliber rifle.

When the smoke cleared, Williams surrendered; the ballistic body armor he was wearing had saved his life. Miraculously, only two of the 10 CHP officers involved in the shootout were injured.

In an affidavit, an Oakland police investigator reported that during an interview at the hospital, Williams “stated that his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU.”

One myth promulgated by the right and the media is that there is equivalence between provocative language on the far left and far right, but that is far from the case:

Even the most cursory perusal of rightwing radio, television, blogs and assorted punditry illustrates a profound distinction: in large measure, the right’s overarching purpose is to stoke hatred of the left, of liberalism. The right’s messaging infrastructure, meticulously constructed and refined over decades, promotes an image of liberals as traitors and America-haters, unworthy of their country and bent on destroying it. There is simply no comparable propaganda effort on the left.

The imbalance is stark: Democrats and liberals rail against the right’s ideas; the right rails against the left’s very existence.

The result is an atmosphere where bigotry thrives, where science and reason are under assault, where progress (associated with progressivism) is frowned upon. And it’s an atmosphere where violence becomes more likely. Pretending this is not the case is to enable it.

The deeply-etched themes that run through American politics reflect the right’s successful framing: Democrats and liberals are wimps, Republicans and conservatives are gun-toting patriots; Democrats and liberals despise their country, Republicans and conservatives are the only ones willing to protect it; Democrats and liberals want to intrude on your freedom, tax you and bankrupt the nation, Republicans and conservatives want to give you freedom, liberty and wealth. The current of eliminationism infusing the right’s worldview is an inevitable outcome of such contorted impressions – it’s a natural impulse to want to destroy that which is (supposedly) destroying you.

Those who foist the false right/left equivalency ignore this reality. Their definition of extremism is necessarily warped, since they have to stretch logic to fabricate a sense of balance. If you want single-payer health care, you’re a liberal extremist, but if you deny global warming, you’re simply a conservative skeptic. As the national discourse moves further and further right, only the most unhinged rightwingers are tagged as extreme, while all it takes for a liberal to be labeled an extremist is to espouse a policy position that is out of the mainstream. That is not to say there are not violent individuals and extremists on the left, but that it is absurd to argue that left and right are comparable in the language of violence and incitement.

When center becomes right and right becomes far right, conservatives can get away with wilder and weirder behavior. Exhortations from radio blatherers to bash liberals are dismissed as “entertainment.” Glenn Beck’s bizarre rantings barely get a yawn.

This has been a long time coming and culpability lies not just with the haters but with those in the media and Democratic establishment who refuse to confront the hate-mongering when they see it. Here’s something I wrote about Ann Coulter in 2006.  It sums up everything I want to say about the ongoing demonization of the left and the resulting potential for violence [The title of Coulter’s most recent book is “Demonic”]:

NBC, a major U.S. media outlet, has given Coulter extended play in recent days. They have knowingly given a public forum to a woman who slandered 9/11 widows and who is now on the record identifying John Murtha, a U.S. Congressman, a Marine, as an ideal target for murder. Anybody who watched Ann Coulter’s June 14th appearance on the Tonight Show had to realize that it was a watershed moment in the war between the establishment media and the progressive netroots. It was also a signal to Democrats that liberal ideology can be denigrated with impunity. Had the words “Jew” or “Christian” or “Conservative” been substituted for “Liberal” we’d be waking up to a national scandal.

Never mind that Jay Leno and George Carlin sat like trembling lambs while Coulter spewed gutter-level invective at millions of Americans – we’ve already seen the same obsequiousness from Larry King, Matt Lauer (who ended his faux-debate with Coulter by saying “always fun to have you”) and others. The larger issue here is that despite an uproar from the progressive netroots, NBC saw fit to give Coulter a platform to continue her liberal-scapegoating and to slander women who lost their husbands on 9/11.

It’s hard to deny that Coulter’s words border on incitement. What she says is neither amusing nor smart nor humorous nor factual nor worthy of airing on a major media outlet. It treats a substantial segment of the population as sub-human, as creatures deserving of public scorn and worse (She said Jesus would say that “we are called upon to do battle” on liberalism). Careful not to violate Godwin’s Law, I’ll refrain from the obvious comparisons, but what we’re dealing with here is a dangerous inflection point in American politics. When this kind of opprobrium is peddled by major media outlets, it’s high time that the Democratic establishment and the larger progressive community understand that this is a make-or-break showdown with the media.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and their ilk have made an industry out of liberal-bashing. Coulter fits in perfectly with those hate-traffickers. And contrary to the false Michael Moore comparisons made by Leno and others, there is no progressive counterpart to these people on the national stage. The basic thrust of the left’s critique is that George W. Bush and his administration are bad for America. It is in our tradition for citizens to defend the Constitution and to question the actions of their elected leaders. Rightwingers may characterize it as Bush Derangement Syndrome, but the progressive community, for the most part, is going after government corruption and lies, not vilifying an entire group of Americans as Bin Laden-loving traitors.

Nearly five years after I wrote that, only one thing has changed: the problem has gotten worse.

Melissa McEwan nails it:

This is not an argument there is no hatred, no inappropriate and even violent rhetoric, among US leftists. There is. This is evidence that, although violent rhetoric exists among US leftists, it is not remotely on the same scale, and, more importantly, not an institutionally endorsed tactic, as it is among US rightwingers.

This is a fact. It is not debatable.

And there is observably precious little integrity among conservatives in addressing this fact, in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

And as long as we continue to play this foolish game of “both sides are just as bad,” and rely on trusty old ablism to dismiss Jared Lee Loughner as a crackpot—dutifully ignoring that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators; carefully pretending that the existence of people with mental illness who are potentially dangerous somehow absolves us of responsibility for violent rhetoric, as opposed to serving to underline precisely why it’s irresponsible—it will be inevitable again.

The Norway tragedy is the work of an evil individual, and he should burn in hell for his barbaric actions. He is culpable for the carnage he wrought, not the bloggers from whom he drew inspiration. The blood of children is on his hands. Nevertheless, we would be foolish to discount the climate created by the torrent of invective and incitement emanating from America’s right.

Breivik and the Anti-Muslim Right

Breivik and the Anti-Muslim Right 

Posted by Michael Cohen

I, for one, am shocked, shocked to read that anti-Muslim bigots are defending themselvesagainst charges of culpability in the heinous terrorist acts of Anders Behring Breivik, by hiding behind the narrow reed that they never specifically advocated violence against children.

I was even more surprised that my good friend and colleague, Josh Foust, is making a similar argument, claiming that “In reality, no one really understands why they or anyone else behaves the way they do” and that “it does not follow that [anti-Muslim] writers should be linked to and blamed for his attacks. All of them, to a person, have distanced themselves from and condemned Breivik’s actions.” This strikes me as a far too generous read on the damage being wrought, both directly and indirectly, by the propagation of anti-Muslim narratives not just in Europe, but certainly also in the United States.

Certainly these writers don’t deserve direct blame for Breivik’s horrific actions (and it doesn’t mean one should put restrictions on their right to free speech). However the notion that hate-filled words and paranoid assertions about Islamic “takeover” somehow operate in a vacuum and don’t inform, inspire or, above all, validate the views of sociopaths likeBrievik runs counter to well-understood links between extreme and paranoid narratives and activism and violence. Individuals who are prone to paranoia, fetishize violence, demonstrate anti-social or sociopathic behavior or externalize blame can certainly be susceptible to conspiratorial and eliminationist narratives.

Honestly, is anyone really shocked that as anti-Muslim attitudes have increased in recent years (on both sides of the Atlantic) that something like this has happened? It’s like being shocked that as anti-government attitudes took on greater prominence in the early 1990s, Oklahoma City happened. (The only thing most surprising is that Breivik’s actual violence was perpetrated against non-Muslims).

Indeed, Breivik’s own manifesto, apes the hate-filled fear mongering of Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and other anti-Muslim bigots. He cites both writers and other anti-Islamistfearmongers in his 1,500 page manifesto that was released at approximately the same moment that he was engaging in one of the worst acts of mass violence in Europe since WWII. He is, as Toby Archer in Foreign Policy said a clear product of “predominantly web-based community of anti-Muslim, anti-government, and anti-immigration bloggers, writers, and activists.” Again, Breivik and his views didn’t just emerge from the ether.

Similarly as Brian Fishman nicely points out, Breivik’s actions coincide with the rise of radical right extremists and incipient revanchist nationalism across Europe. It stretches credulity to argue that this is all just a coincidence or that Breivik’s actions were in no way influenced or his beliefs validated by extremist narratives about Islam andmulti-culturalism that present these as some sort of existential threat to European civilization. Indeed, at his court hearing today Breivik plead not guilty, because he “believes that he needed to carry out these acts to save Norway” and western Europe from “cultural Marxism and Muslim domination.”

Of course, such rhetoric is clearly not restricted to Islam – and especially in the UnitedStates. We see it when pro-life advocates describe abortion doctors as “murderers”; we see it when political leaders warn that their opponents are seeking to ‘destroy America’; we see it when some of those same leaders talk about their political opponents with the use of eliminationist rhetoric. Stoking hatred and presenting opponents as not simply wrong, but immoral is the sort of speech that is and should be protected – but also should be recognized for what it is, deeply dangerous. (Peter Daou has a great post on this here). After the Gabrielle Giffords a lot of commentators jumped to false conclusions about what drove Jared Loughner to violence – but in a sense trying to find that connection was almost secondary in importance. Loughner may not have been influenced by Sarah Palin puttingcrosshairs over the names of vulnerable Democratic officeholders; it doesn’t mean such speech isn’t reckless and irresponsible.

Again, none of this means that those who might have inspired or influenced Breivik are responsible for his actions. And we certainly can’t know for sure if Breivik would have acted the way he did even if not for the anti-Muslims rantings of others (though it does appear on the surface that these words served as validation for his own toxic views).

But it also doesn’t mean that we should be blind to the consequences of hate-filled language.

If anything it should lead to greater scrutiny of how such words are being interpreted and even harsher condemnation for them.  And that goes for both hate-mongers and political leaders, like the majority of Republicans running for President who have warned of creeping sharia – a stance that casually plays on anti-Muslim attitudes for electoral gain. Arguing that bigoted and prejudice speech is a value neutral exercise because it is not accompanied by calls for violence is, for a lack of a better term, a bit of cop-out.

Speech matters and those who would traffic in eliminationist, extremist narratives don’t get a pass when violent psychopaths take such rhetoric to a not illogical, violent end.

The Ultimate Cost of Forcing Moral Young Men To Fight Multiple Immoral Wars

“Psychotropic drug: Any drug capable of affecting the mind, emotions, and behavior. Some legal drugs such as lithium for depression are psychotropic. Many illicit drugs such as cocaine are also psychotropic. Also called a psychodynamic drug.

From the Greek psycho-, the mind + trop, a turning = (capable of) turning the mind.”

Military Deaths Linked to Prescribed Psych Drugs

If mentally incapacitated troops are being drugged with dangerous, mind-altering drugs and deployed to battle against their will, how can we say that we have a volunteer army?

The increasingly high number of DEATHS in the US military–from suicides, accidental overdose, and, increasingly, lethal drug interactions–has been linked to the exponential increase in the prescribing of powerful, psychotropic drugs.

Since The Hartford Courant first published several investigative reports (2006) about the deadly consequences of prescribing powerful psychotropic drugs to US troops who were deployed to battle with a supply of these mind-altering drugs–where those ingesting them pose a danger both to themselves and to the other troops–a series of reports have documented the continued rise in the death toll..

The latest report in The New York Times (February, 2011, below), confirms that the norm and practice in the military is reliance on potentially lethal psychotropic drug combinations continues–even as the body count climbs.

 “After a decade of treating thousands of wounded troops, the military’s medical system is awash in prescription drugs — and the results have sometimes been deadly.

By some estimates, well over 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with P.T.S.D., depression, traumatic brain injury or some combination of those. The Pentagon has looked to pharmacology to treat those complex problems, following the lead of civilian medicine. As a result, psychiatric drugs have been used more widely across the military than in any previous war.

But those medications, along with narcotic painkillers, are being increasingly linked to a rising tide of other problems, among them drug dependency, suicide and fatal accidents — sometimes from the interaction of the drugs themselves. 

An Army report on suicide released last year documented the problem, saying one-third of the force was on at least one prescription medication.

“Prescription drug use is on the rise,” the report said, noting that medications were involved in one-third of the record 162 suicides by active-duty soldiers in 2009. An additional 101 soldiers died accidentally from the toxic mixing of prescription drugs from 2006 to 2009.”

 THE HARTFORD COURANT / ASSOCIATED PRESS   MAY 14, 2006   Military Ignores Mental Illness

“The U.S. military is sending troops with serious psychological problems into Iraq and is keeping soldiers in combat even after superiors have been alerted to suicide warnings and other signs of mental illness, a Courant investigation has found.  Once at war, some unstable troops are kept on the front lines while on potent antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, with little or no counseling or medical monitoring. And some troops who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq are being sent back to the war zone, increasing the risk to their mental health.

“Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring, the Courant reported. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for “extended deployments.”

“I can’t imagine something more irresponsible than putting a Soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal,” said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. “You’re creating chemically activated time bombs.”

“““““““`

TIME MAGAZINE   FEBRUARY 9, 2009  America’s Medicated Army

For the first time in history, a sizable and growing number of U.S. combat troops are taking daily doses of antidepressants to calm nerves strained by repeated and lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The medicines are intended not only to help troops keep their cool but also to enable the already strapped Army to preserve its most precious resource:soldiers on the front lines.

Data contained in the Army’s fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report indicate that, according to an anonymous survey of U.S. troops taken last fall, about 12% of combat troops in Iraq and 17% of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope. Escalating violence in Afghanistan and the more isolated mission have driven troops to rely more on medication there than in Iraq, military officials say.”

TRUTHOUT  Hearing Debates Link Between Psychiatric Drugs and Veterans’ SuicidesThursday 25 February 2010

Beginning in 2002, the suicide rate among soldiers rose significantly, reaching record levels in 2007 and again in 2008 despite the Army’s major prevention and intervention efforts,

 THE NAVY TIMES   Mar 17, 2010   Medicating the military

 EXCERPT:  The DLA records detail the range of drugs being prescribed to the military community and the spending on them:

• Antipsychotic medications, including Seroquel and Risperdal, spiked most dramatically — orders jumped by more than 200 percent, and annual spending more than quadrupled, from $4 million to $16 million.

• Use of anti-anxiety drugs and sedatives such as Valium and Ambien also rose substantially; orders increased 170 percent, while spending nearly tripled, from $6 million to about $17 million.

• Antiepileptic drugs, also known as anticonvulsants, were among the most commonly used psychiatric medications. Annual orders for these drugs increased about 70 percent, while spending more than doubled, from $16 million to $35 million.

• Antidepressants had a comparatively modest 40 percent gain in orders, but it was the only drug group to show an overall decrease in spending, from $49 million in 2001 to $41 million in 2009, a drop of 16 percent. The debut in recent years of cheaper generic versions of these drugs is likely responsible for driving down costs.

Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are the most common mental health medications prescribed to service members. Seventeen percent of the active-duty force, and as much as 6 percent of deployed troops, are on antidepressants, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist, told Congress on Feb. 24.

In contrast, about 10 percent of all Americans take antidepressants, according to a 2009 Columbia University study.

XXX cut XXX

Doctors — and, more recently, lawmakers — are questioning whether the drugs could be responsible for the spike in military suicides during the past several years, an upward trend that roughly parallels the rise in psychiatric drug use.

From 2001 to 2009, the Army’s suicide rate increased more than 150 percent, from 9 per 100,000 soldiers to 23 per 100,000. The Marine Corps suicide rate is up about 50 percent, from 16.7 per 100,000 Marines in 2001 to 24 per 100,000 last year. Orders for psychiatric drugs in the analysis rose 76 percent over the same period.

“There is overwhelming evidence that the newer antidepressants commonly prescribed by the military can cause or worsen suicidality, aggression and other dangerous mental states,” said Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who testified at the same Feb. 24 congressional hearing at which Sutton appeared.

Other side effects — increased irritability, aggressiveness and hostility — also could pose a risk.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

USA TODAY  January 20, 2011  More Army Guard, Reserve soldiers committing suicide

The Army released final year-end statistics Wednesday. There were 301 confirmed or suspected soldier suicides in 2010, including those on active duty and reservists or National Guard troops on an inactive status, the Army reported Wednesday. This compares with 242 in 2009.

See also chart documenting US Military Suicides, 2003-2010 at Peace Patriotic.org

The prescribing practices border on reckless endangerment–which is a felony. Two questions arise:

1. If mentally incapacitated troops are being drugged and deployed against their will, how can we say that we have a volunteer army?

2. How is this prescribing practice any less deplorable than prison chain gangs?

 

Vera Hassner Sharav

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 THE NEW YORK TIMES  February 12, 2011

For Some Troops, Powerful Drug Cocktails Have Deadly Results  

By JAMES DAO, BENEDICT CAREY and DAN FROSCH
This article was reported by James Dao, Benedict Carey and Dan Frosch and written by Mr. Dao.

In his last months alive, Senior Airman Anthony Mena rarely left home without a backpack filled with medications. He returned from his second deployment to Iraq complaining of back pain, insomnia, anxiety and nightmares. Doctors diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and prescribed powerful cocktails of psychiatric drugs and narcotics.

Yet his pain only deepened, as did his depression. “I have almost given up hope,” he told a doctor in 2008, medical records show. “I should have died in Iraq.”

Airman Mena died instead in his Albuquerque apartment, on July 21, 2009, five months after leaving the Air Force on a medical discharge. A toxicologist found eight prescription medications in his blood, including threeantidepressants, a sedative, a sleeping pill and two potent painkillers.

Yet his death was no suicide, the medical examiner concluded. What killed Airman Mena was not an overdose of any one drug, but the interaction of many. He was 23.

After a decade of treating thousands of wounded troops, the military’s medical system is awash in prescription drugs — and the results have sometimes been deadly.

By some estimates, well over 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with P.T.S.D., depression,traumatic brain injury or some combination of those. The Pentagon has looked to pharmacology to treat those complex problems, following the lead of civilian medicine. As a result, psychiatric drugs have been used more widely across the military than in any previous war.

But those medications, along with narcotic painkillers, are being increasingly linked to a rising tide of other problems, among them drug dependency, suicide and fatal accidents — sometimes from the interaction of the drugs themselves. An Army report on suicide released last year documented the problem, saying one-third of the force was on at least one prescription medication.

“Prescription drug use is on the rise,” the report said, noting that medications were involved in one-third of the record 162 suicides by active-duty soldiers in 2009. An additional 101 soldiers died accidentally from the toxic mixing of prescription drugs from 2006 to 2009.

“I’m not a doctor, but there is something inside that tells me the fewer of these things we prescribe, the better off we’ll be,” Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army who has led efforts on suicide, said in an interview.

Growing awareness of the dangers of overmedicated troops has prompted the Defense Department to improve the monitoring of prescription medications and restrict their use.

In November, the Army issued a new policy on the use of multiple medications that calls for increased training for clinicians, 30-day limits on new prescriptions and comprehensive reviews of cases where patients are receiving four or more drugs.

The Pentagon is also promoting measures to prevent troops from stockpiling medications, a common source of overdoses. For instance, the Navy, which provides medical care for Marines, has begun pill “give back” days on certain bases. At Camp Lejeune, N.C., 22,000 expired pills were returned in December.

The Army and the Navy are also offering more treatments without drugs, including acupuncture and yoga. And they have tried to expand talk therapy programs — one of which, exposure therapy, is considered by some experts to be the only proven treatment for P.T.S.D. But shortages of mental health professionals have hampered those efforts.

Still, given the depth of the medical problems facing combat veterans, as well as the medical system’s heavy reliance on drugs, few experts expect the widespread use of multiple medications to decline significantly anytime soon.

The New York Times reviewed in detail the cases of three service members who died from what coroners said were toxic interactions of prescription drugs. All were classified accidents, not suicides.

Airman Mena was part of a military police unit that conducted combat patrols alongside Army units in downtown Baghdad. He cleaned up the remains of suicide bombing victims and was nearly killed by a bomb himself, his records show.

Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Bachus had spent virtually his entire adult life in the Marine Corps, deploying to the Middle East in 1991, Iraq during the invasion of 2003 and, for a short tour, Afghanistan in 2005. He suffered from what doctors called survivor’s guilt and came back “like a ghost,” said his brother, Jerry, of Westerville, Ohio.

Cpl. Nicholas Endicott joined the Marines in 2003 after working as a coal miner in West Virginia. He deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, where he saw heavy combat. On one mission, Corporal Endicott was blown more than eight feet in the air by a roadside bomb, medical records show. He came home plagued by nightmares and flashbacks and rarely left the house.

Given the complexity of drug interactions, it is difficult to know precisely what killed the three men, and the Pentagon declined to discuss their cases, citing confidentiality. But there were important similarities to their stories.

All the men had been deployed multiple times and eventually received diagnoses of P.T.S.D. All had five or more medications in their systems when they died, including opiate painkillers and mood-altering psychiatric drugs, but not alcohol. All had switched drugs repeatedly, hoping for better results that never arrived.

All died in their sleep.

Psychiatry and Warfare

The military medical system has struggled to meet the demand caused by two wars, and to this day it still reports shortages of therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. But medications have always been readily available.

Across all branches, spending on psychiatric drugs has more than doubled since 2001, to $280 million in 2010, according to numbers obtained from the Defense Logistics Agency by a Cornell University psychiatrist, Dr. Richard A. Friedman.

Clinicians in the health systems of the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments say that for most patients, those medications have proved safe. “It is important not to understate the benefit of these medications,” said Dr. Robert Kerns, the national director of pain management for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Paradoxically, the military came under criticism a decade ago for not prescribing enough medications, particularly for pain. In its willingness to prescribe more readily, the Pentagon was trying to meet standards similar to civilian medicine, General Chiarelli said.

But the response of modern psychiatry to modern warfare has not always been perfect. Psychiatrists still do not have good medications for the social withdrawal, nightmares and irritability that often accompany post-traumatic stress, so they mix and match drugs, trying to relieve symptoms.

“These decisions about medication are difficult enough in civilian psychiatry, but unfortunately in this very-high-stress population, there is almost no data to guide you,” said Dr. Ranga R. Krishnan, a psychiatrist at Duke University. “The psychiatrist is trying everything and to some extent is flying blind.”

Thousands of troops struggle with insomnia, anxiety and chronic pain — a combination that is particularly treacherous to treat with medications. Pairing a pain medication like oxycodone, a narcotic, with an anti-anxiety drug like Xanax, a so-called benzodiazepine, amplifies the tranquilizing effects of both, doctors say.

Similarly, antidepressants like Prozac or Celexa block liver enzymes that help break down narcotics and anxiety drugs, extending their effects.

“The sedation is not necessarily two plus two is four,” said Cmdr. Rosemary Malone, a Navy forensicpsychiatrist. “It could be synergistic. So two plus two could be five.”

Commander Malone and other military doctors said the key to the safe use of multiple prescriptions was careful monitoring: each time clinicians prescribe drugs, they must review a patient’s records and adjust dosages to reduce the risk of harmful interactions. “The goal is to use the least amount of medication at the lowest doses possible to help that patient,” she said.

But there are limits to the monitoring. Troops who see private clinicians — commonly done to avoid the stigma of seeking mental health care on a base — may receive medications that are not recorded in their official military health records.

In the case of Sergeant Bachus of the Marines, it is far from clear that he received the least amount of medication possible.

He saw combat in Iraq, his brother said, and struggled with alcoholism, anxiety, flashbacks, irritability and what doctors called survivor’s guilt after returning home. “He could make himself the life of the party,” Jerry Bachus recalled. “But he came back a shell, like a ghost.”

Sergeant Bachus received a diagnosis of P.T.S.D., and starting in 2005, doctors put him on a regimen that included Celexa for depression, Klonopin for anxiety and Risperdal, an antipsychotic. In 2006, after a period of stability, a military doctor discontinued his medications. But six months later, Sergeant Bachus asked to be put on them again.

According to a detailed autopsy report, his depression and anxiety worsened in late 2006. Yet for unexplained reasons, he was allowed to deploy to Iraq for a second time in early 2007. But when his commanders discovered that he was on psychiatric medications, he was sent home after just a few months, records show.

Frustrated and ashamed that he could not be in a front-line unit and unwilling to work behind a desk, he applied in late 2007 for a medical retirement, a lengthy and often stressful process that seemed to darken his mood.

In early March 2008, a military doctor began giving him an opiate painkiller for his back. A few days later, Sergeant Bachus, 38, called his wife, who was living in Ohio. He sounded delusional, she told investigators later, but not suicidal.

“You know, babe, I am really tired, and I don’t think I’ll have any problems falling asleep tonight,” he told her. He was found dead in his on-base quarters in North Carolina nearly three days later.

According to the autopsy report, Sergeant Bachus had in his system two antidepressants, the opiates oxymorphone and oxycodone, and Ativan for anxiety. The delirium he experienced in his final days was “most likely due to the interaction of his medications,” the report said.

Nearly 30 prescription pill bottles were found at the scene, most of them recently prescribed, according to the report.

Jerry Bachus pressed the Marine Corps and the Navy for more information about his brother’s death, but received no further explanations. “There was nothing accidental about it,” he said. “It was inevitable.”

Self-Medicating

The widespread availability of prescription medications is increasingly being linked by military officials to growingsubstance abuse, particularly with opiates. A Defense Department survey last year found that the illegal use of prescription drugs in the military had tripled from 2005 to 2008, with five times as many troops claiming to abuse prescription drugs than illegal ones like cocaine or marijuana.

The problem has become particularly acute in specialized units for wounded troops, where commanders say the trading of prescription medications is rampant. A report released last month by the Army inspector general estimated that up to a third of all soldiers in these Warrior Transition Units are overmedicated, dependent on medications or have easy access to illegal drugs.

Some of that abuse is for recreational purposes, military officials say. In response, the Army has taken several steps to tighten the monitoring of troops on multiple prescriptions in the transition units.

But in many cases, wounded troops are acquiring drugs improperly because their own prescriptions seem ineffective, experts say. They are self-medicating, sometimes to death.

“This is a huge issue, and partly it’s due to the availability of prescription drugs among returning troops,” said Dr. Martin P. Paulus, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, and the V.A. San Diego Medical Center. “Everyone knows someone who’ll say, ‘Hey, this worked for me, give it a try.’ ”

Corporal Endicott, for instance, died after adding the opiate painkiller methadone to his already long list of prescribed medications. His doctors said that they did not know where he got the narcotic and that they had not authorized it.

Corporal Endicott, who survived a roadside bomb explosion, was in heavy fighting in Afghanistan, where he saw other Marines killed. After returning from his third deployment, in 2007, Corporal Endicott told doctors that he was having nightmares and flashbacks and rarely left his house. After a car accident, he assaulted the other driver, according to medical records. Doctors diagnosed P.T.S.D. and came to suspect that Corporal Endicott had a traumatic brain injury.

Over the coming year, he was prescribed at least five medications, including the antidepressants Prozac andTrazodone, and an anti-anxiety medication. Yet he continued to have headaches, anxiety and vivid nightmares.

“He would be hitting the headboard,” said his father, Charles. “He would be saying: ‘Get down! Here they come!’ ”

On Jan. 29, 2008, Corporal Endicott was found dead in his room at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he had checked himself in for anger management after another car accident. He was 26.

A toxicologist detected at least nine prescription drugs in his system, including five different benzodiazepines, drugs used to reduce anxiety or improve sleep. Small amounts of marijuana and methadone — a narcotic that is particularly dangerous when mixed with benzodiazepines — were also found in his body.

His death prompted Marine Corps officials at Bethesda and Walter Reed Army Medical Center to initiate new procedures to keep Marines from inappropriately mixing medications, including assigning case managers to oversee patients, records show.

Whether Corporal Endicott used methadone to get high or to relieve pain remains unclear. The Marine Corps concluded that his death was not due to misconduct.

“He survived over there,” his father said. “Coming home and dying in a hospital? It’s a disgrace.”

Trying to Numb the Pain

Airman Mena also returned from war a drastically changed man. He had deployed to Iraq in 2005 but saw little action and wanted to go back. He got the chance in late 2006, when sectarian violence was hitting a peak.

After coming home, he spoke repeatedly of feeling guilty about missing patrols where a sergeant was killed and where several platoon mates were seriously wounded. Had he been driving on those missions, he told therapists, he would have avoided the attacks.

“On my first day, I saw a total of 12 bodies,” he said in one psychological assessment. “Over there, I lost faith in God, because how can God allow all these dead bodies?”

By the summer of 2008, he was on half a dozen medications for depression, anxiety, insomnia and pain. His back and neck pain worsened, but Air Force doctors could not pinpoint a cause. Once gregarious and carefree, Airman Mena had become perpetually irritable. At times he seemed to have hallucinations, his mother and friends said, and was often full of rage while driving.

In February 2009, he received an honorable discharge and was given a 100 percent disability rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs, meaning he was considered unable to work. He abandoned plans to become a police officer.

Now a veteran, his steady medication regimen continued — but did not seem to make him better. His mother, Pat Mena, recalls him being unable to sleep yet also listless, his face a constant shade of pale. Shocked by the piles of pills in his Albuquerque apartment, she once flushed dozens of old prescriptions down the toilet.

Yet for all his troubles, he seemed hopeful when she visited him in early July 2009. He was making plans to open a cigar store, which he planned to call Fumar. His mother would be in charge of decorating it.

The night after his mother left, he put on a new Fentanyl patch, a powerful narcotic often used by cancerpatients that he had started using just five weeks before. The Food and Drug Administration issued warnings about the patches in 2007 after deaths were linked to it, but a private clinic in Albuquerque prescribed the medication because his other painkillers had failed, records show.

With his increasingly bad memory, he often forgot what pills he was taking, his mother said. That night when he put on his new patch, he forgot to remove the old one. He died early the next day.

Was the Fentanyl the cause? Or was it the hydromorphone, another narcotic found in his system? Or the antidepressants? Or the sedative Xanax? Or all of the above?

The medical examiner could not say for sure, noting simply that the drugs together had caused “respiratory depression.”“The manner of death,” the autopsy concluded, “is accident.”

Toby Lyles contributed research.

 

18 veterans commit suicide each day

18 veterans commit suicide each day

By Rick Maze
Posted : Thursday Apr 22, 2010

Troubling new data show there are an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department.

Seven percent of the attempts are successful, and 11 percent of those who don’t succeed on the first attempt try again within nine months.

The numbers, which come at a time when VA is strengthening its suicide prevention programs, show about 18 veteran suicides a day, about five by veterans who are receiving VA care.

Access to care appears to be a key factor, officials said, noting that once a veteran is inside the VA care program, screening programs are in place to identify those with problems, and special efforts are made to track those considered at high risk, such as monitoring whether they are keeping appointments.

A key part of the new data shows the suicide rate is lower for veterans aged 18 to 29 who are using VA health care services than those who are not. That leads VA officials to believe that about 250 lives have been saved each year as a result of VA treatment.

VA’s suicide hotline has been receiving about 10,000 calls a month from current and former service members. The number is 1-800-273-8255. Service members and veterans should push 1 for veterans’ services.

Dr. Janet Kemp, VA’s national suicide prevention coordinator, credits the hotline with rescuing 7,000 veterans who were in the act of suicide — in addition to referrals, counseling and other help.

Suicide attempts by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans remains a key area of concern. In fiscal 2009, which ended Sept. 30, there were 1,621 suicide attempts by men and 247 by women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, with 94 men and four women dying.

In general, VA officials said, women attempt suicide more often, but men are more likely to succeed in the attempt, mainly because women use less lethal and less violent means while men are more likely to use firearms.

Suicide attempts among veterans appear to follow those trends, officials said.

We All Fostered “Warlordism” In Afghanistan

Who fostered ‘warlordism’ in Afghanistan?

By M K Bhadrakumar

The Russian journalist Dmitry Babich’s reminiscences of the chronicles of wasted time of the Red Army in Afghanistan in the 1980s invariably leap out of a morality play. He always has a Russian message for the West. He is consistent in lamenting that the United States and NATO should have consulted Moscow about how to handle the Afghan war so that the Russian mistakes were not repeated. Arguably, he has a point there — although it is far too late for lamentations now. But in his latest blog, Babich certainly goes overboard. This is when he discusses ‘warlordism’ in Afghanistan and blames the West for introducing this phenomenon in the Hindu Kush. I beg to differ. To my mind, the blame should be apportioned equitably.

I have heard from none other than Ahmed Shah Massoud himself how the Soviets struck a profound deal with him after the Red Army’s disastrous defeat at his hands in 1982-83. This conversation took place soon after I was given an extended ‘conducted tour’ of Panjshir Valley — first Indian to set foot there in very many years — and was briefed about the great ambush of the crack units of the Soviet army by the Mujahideen. At that time, the war having just got over, I could still see dozens of tanks and artillery pieces and heavy armour littered all over the valley — a great setting of breathtaking scenery with all that heavy iron and steel sitting and rusting for miles as eternal monument to human folly by the side of the Panjshir river which snaked its way shyly through the deep gorges guarded by towering mountains on both aides. You had to bend back all the way to catch a glimpse of the sky.

The Soviet officers just abandoned their weaponry and fled or were taken prisoner. Massoud drew the Soviet columns deep into the gorges and then cut them to pieces from the mountain tops where his guerillas were hiding. Later, when I was taken around to see Salaang tunnel, the Mujahidden commander who was escorting me explained part of the terms of the Soviets’ deal with Massoud — that he would allow the vital artery to be kept open provided the Soviets kept their part of the bargain. Babich is right that later it was Massoud who destroyed Kabul in the 1992-96 period. But Massoud enjoyed Russian support for a decade already prior to that. Sometimes I wonder how the percentage worked: to what extent Massoud allowed himself to be pampered by the French while trading with the Soviets at the same time.

Again, who raised Rashid Dostum, a lowly car mechanic in Mazar-i-Sharif, to the rank of an army general? I don’t think the West had anything to do with that. Babich is again right that it was Dostum’s back stabbing that brought down Najibullah’s regime. But how did that happen? Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov was partly right that when the Red Army pulled out in 1989, Najib was given some stocks of food and fuel reserve to last out in the event of a siege of Kabul. But what about money? I was in charge of the Indian embassy in Kabul for a while at that time and I am aware how Najib’s equations with Dostum gradually began deteriorating. Najib ran out of money to pay the monthly wages for Dostum’s Uzbeki militia who were a notoriously brutal lot (whom the Soviet commanders used to ‘pacify’ Pashtun provinces in the south and east).

But still, I don”t think Dostum would have defected to Massoud just like that. Dostum understood that the Soviet/Russian agencies were in touch with Massoud and covertly working on a transition to a post-Najibullah era in Afghanistan. And Dostum being Dostum, he wanted to be with the winning side. He linked up with Massoud despite the visceral dislike the two of them had toward each other, primarily because he got to estimate that with tacit Russian backing, Massoud was likely to beat Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the race for Kabul.

The problem is that a great deal of what happened during those dramatic months in 1991-92 is still to be told and the one person who narrated a great deal to me subsequently (having been Massoud’s ace negotiator with the Russians and with Dostum in those tumultous months leading to the Mujahideen takeover), Dr. Abdurrahman, is no more with us. He was murdered in broad daylight in Kabul in 2002 while serving in Hamid Karzai’s cabinet as the civil aviation minister, by people who obviously feared that he knew far too much. By the way, Abdurrahman and I were good friends and when he last visited me in Ankara sometime in mid-2001 — he had come to attend the funeral of Dostum’s mother — he told me he already had a premonition that he would be killed soon. He had fallen out with the Panjshiris by that time. (Abdurrahman was a Nooristani himself). Indeed, 6 months later, he was murdered. I wrote an obituary on him.

Put simply, no one today wants to talk about all that happened. Babich’s narrative is hopelessly selective. Almost all foreign powers that dabbled in Afghanistan — including my country — have fostered ‘warlords’ some time or the other, as they found it expedient to do so in the ‘great game’. Shame on them all! Look at where all that skulduggery of realpolitik left the poor Afghan people!

 

 

Thieving Elite as Bad as Militants

Nigeria: Buhari – Thieving Elite as Bad as Militants

Ibrahim Chonoko

London — Former head of state and CPC presidential candidate in the last elections Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigerian elite who steal public money are as bad as militants who have been destabilizing the country. In an interview with Daily Trust in London, Gen. Buhari grouped light-fingered elite in the same class with Boko Haram dissidents and Niger-Delta militants, saying that they are all destabilizing forces in the country.

“I am concerned about insecurity and destabilizing forces in our country. Anybody who steals public money in all the tiers of government – federal, state and local governments – is destabilizing the country and is as bad as the militants.”

Gen. Buhari blamed the authorities for providing a breeding ground for militants and dissidents by not dealing with issues within the ambit of the law, but expects the populace to be law-abiding.

“The government must do things within the framework of the law and be fair. If it does not, then people will try and look after themselves and this is what is happening now”.

Gen. Buhari said the government should dialogue with the Boko Haram dissidents as it did with the Niger-Delta militants, and rhetorically asked: “who committed more atrocities against the Nigerian state between Boko Haram and the militants?”

He, however, said government had adopted the right approach by asking the police to get to the bottom of the Boko Haram issue, stressing that it was the duty a of the police to tackle such issues within the ambit of the law.

Gen. Buhari and his running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare spoke at Chatham House, London on the April general elections in Nigeria which the international community has upheld as generally free and fair.

Earlier in the lecture delivered on Monday, Buhari said he will continue to boycott Council of State meeting pending the determination of the petition filed by his party challenging the election of President Goodluck Jonathan. The Council of State meeting is presided over by a sitting president, and attended by all former Heads of State.

Buhari refused to attend the meeting when he challenged the results of the 2003 Presidential Election won by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He also expressed hope that the CPC will not have any cause to pursue its petition up to the Supreme Court as he did in the past.

US plans to double arms sales

US plans to double arms sales

https://i1.wp.com/www.zoriah.net/photos/uncategorized/2008/06/25/zoriah_iraq_war_baghdad_weapons_c_4.jpg

WASHINGTON: The United States plans to export $46.1 billion in weapons this year, nearly doubling its 2010 figures, officials said Friday.

During the fiscal year 2011, which ends September 30, Washington expects the sales of equipment and military services through its Foreign Military Sales process. About 79 percent of these exports are financed by client countries and organisations, with the remainder funded by US aid programmes.

US military equipment sales, confined to about $10 billion in the early 2000s, tripled to around $30 billion after 2005.

“From 2005 to 2010, we have delivered through the Foreign Military Sales process $96 billion worth of equipment, goods and services to partner countries,” said Defense Security Cooperation Agency Director Vice Admiral William Landay.

Ten years ago, clients were most interested in purchasing material at the lowest cost, even if that meant spacing out deliveries, he explained.

But with the war in Afghanistan and a higher operational tempo for many armed forces, clients are seeking quicker access to purchased progress, which explains the rise in the value of American exports, according to the admiral.

Several nations participating in the NATO-led air campaign on Libya have thus contacted the DSCA to replenish their stocks of ammunition depleted by the operations.

Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom are all participating in the attacks on Libyan strongman Muammar al-Gaddafi’s regime.

The rise in exports has led the DSCA to revise its procedures to ensure faster deliveries by determining what type of weapons or other military equipment should be delivered to which country before even being contacted by a client, and purchasing the equipment before it is sold.

In all, over 13,000 contracts are currently underway with 165 countries for $327 billion, according to Landay.

-AFP/wk

Time to bury the idea of strategic asset

[If there is any chance for Pakistan and India to ever break-off hostilities, then it will come by first adopting the ideas about strategic depth and strategic assets that are laid-out in the following article.  Both Pakistan and India are showing signs that they are attempting to shake-off the Imperial stranglehold, which works to exacerbate their natural divisions.  By befriending the US, over other strategic partners, and opening doors to American corporations, both countries have opened the door to meddling which comes most often in the way of enticement, instead of threat.  By giving India and Pakistan the military and economic boosts they seek, they have gained the advantage of the benefit of the doubt, whenever Imperial policies collide with national interests.  Governments can overlook a lot of underhandedness, if doing so brings promises from their benefactors of even greater rewards in the future. 

Rest assured, that should either government ever defend is own national interests over Imperial designs, then they should expect to find that the rug has been pulled from under their feet.  The moment that either government accepts the idea that they will do the right thing for their people, even though they will lose the benefits gained from Empire, that is the beginning of their liberation.  That is the beginning of freedom from outside manipulation.] 

Time to bury the idea of strategic asset

A. S. PANNEERSELVANThe language of strategic asset reduces the ideas of home, state, country, and continent to movable pieces on the chessboard.

It is strange that even the killing of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad, near Pakistan’s capital, has failed to raise fundamental questions about the idea of creating Frankensteins in the name of strategic assets and the wisdom of the defence experts and strategic analysts. A cursory look at history since the end of the Second World War shows that strategic assets proved to be an albatross around humanity’s neck: they played a key role in undermining legitimate political struggles across the globe. Yet the military narrative has not freed itself from the stranglehold of two fatally flawed ideas — strategic asset and strategic depth.

Before exploring the debilitating impact of these two terms —strategic asset and strategic depth — it is important to understand the origins of these terms. They were the product of the colonial imagination where the world was divided among the empires, and the geostrategic pivots determined the expansion or shrinking of any colonial power. One state was pitted against another and people became collateral damage even before the term could gain the current political currency. The Cold War invested the two terms with an entirely new meaning and scale of application and the damage done to peoples and countries across the world was incomparably greater.

West Asian authoritarianism, for example, is in part the creation of the notion of strategic asset in the form of oil reserves. Much has been written, by way of strategic analysis, about the role of the Soviet Union in Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. But its move into Afghanistan is the source of our present concern and the one that redefined international politics permanently. The United States, the Arab dictators, and Pakistan used the Soviet occupation as an excuse to create a political Islam that not only distorted the religion but also unleashed unprecedented violence against its perceived enemies and against itself. The Soviets left Afghanistan by February 1989 but the so-called ‘liberators’ never left the country, which has been under one form of occupation or another since 1979. The mujahideen and their jihads were supported, funded, trained, armed, and seen as great strategic assets that could provide strategic depth to bleed the opposition to death. This vision did not take into account the irreparable damage it would inflict upon the Muslim world in general and Afghanistan and Pakistan in particular.

Well-known Pakistani writer Zahid Hussain pointed out the cost to Pakistan during an India-Pakistan-Afghanistan editors’ meet. He said: “I think 2007 was the turning point for Pakistan, when almost a dozen militant leaders got together and formed the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). This group had a distinctive agenda of enforcing a so-called Sharia rule in the style of the Afghan Taliban — before that, the focus of the Pakistani militants had largely been on fighting the U.S. coalition forces across the border…. That also changed the perception of how the Taliban and the Afghan Taliban are tied together. It is not only the nexus between the TTP and al-Qaeda; there is also a growing nexus between the banned militant groups and the Taliban, and a new form of al-Qaeda that has emerged. I think probably al-Qaeda has taken a different form, which the Americans have failed to understand. The new al-Qaeda is largely Pakistani. Further, there is also distinction between al-Qaeda and the Taliban: TTP provides the recruits or suicide bombers, but al-Qaeda largely attracts educated Pakistanis who have not been a part of other militant organisations.”

A tenuous peace process, weak governance, a security structure that is yet to gain the confidence or competence to tackle sectarian violence, growing doubts about whether to make a deal with the “good Taliban” or to break the “bad Taliban”, and the wavering international commitment have made Afghanistan more vulnerable then ever before. There is an apprehension in Kabul that with the death of Osama bin Laden, the U.S. might not show the same intensity to wage its “war on terror” as its principal enemy has been eliminated. With multiple players trying to create their own strategic assets, Afghans fear that their country might once again be divided into myriad fiefdoms of warlords and drug mafia. The tragedy is Afghanistan today is much worse off than it was before the Soviet occupation and withdrawal.

This dangerous trend spilled over to India in the form of increased militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, a shocking terrorist attack on Parliament, the monstrous Mumbai carnage, to name just a few of the horrific experiences of the past decade and a half. It is not that India is free from delusions of strategic assets and the grandeur of strategic depth, despite every move backfiring badly — notably with respect to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. But that is another story.

Till the armed men from across the border reached the valley, a large number of informed Indians understood the Kashmiri struggle, and did not hesitate to criticise the government of India for rigging elections. They refused to accept the BJP’s demand for the abrogation of Article 370, which confers a special status on Jammu and Kashmir. However, the overt militarisation of the State inspired by the strategic interests of Pakistan has hurt the people of Kashmir incalculably. In reality, the power enjoyed by J&K today is decisively lower than what was enshrined in Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

The same is true for most of the Northeastern States as their special status has been hugely undermined by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the constant appointments of former Army Generals as Governors, who tend to wield more power than the respective Chief Ministers. India’s new strategic interest in using its close relations with Myanmar’s military junta to check China’s reach to the Bay of Bengal has already taken a toll. The country has virtually ceased its support for the pro-democracy movement and its iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi and no one knows what the fallouts will be.

The language of strategic asset reduces the ideas of home, state, country, and continent to movable pieces on the chessboard. It is a language that is never peopled; it has no capability to empathise or be poignant; it fails to understand pain; and it has no sense to understand the profound grief of any society that lost its liberal space to a variety of bigots. The security experts’ idea of supremacy is directly pitted against the people’s deepest dream of living fully while existing. To achieve this, we need to temper the power of the entrenched security establishments and retrieve the space for a larger political discourse.

(S. Panneerselvan is the Executive Director of Panos South Asia. Panos South Asia has been organising an annual editors’ retreat that brings together the influential media personalities from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to increase the information flow to curtail the mutual trust deficit.)

Merkel Orders Shutdown of 7 Nuclear Plants

Merkel Orders Shutdown of 7 Nuclear Plants

Mon, 03/14/2011 – 06:34 —

Chancellor Angela Merkel shut down seven nuclear power plants  following the meltdown at Japanese reactors and protests against nuclear energy in Germany.

Merkel said she ordered an investigation that would take three months to complete before returning to its plans to extend the running time of stations.

She said that this would mean that the seven oldest reactors will be turned off, at least temporarily, almost immediately.

Merkel said that the risks of a meltdown at the Fukushima atomic reactors in Japan, triggered by the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the region, had shown the world that nuclear safety should be reevaluated.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of Germans joined hands and called for an immediate nuclear shut-down.   Even though Germany and Europe are unlikely to experience a magnitude 8.9 earthquake or a tsunami, Merkel said, the Fukushima example had shown that Japanese state-of-the-art safety precautions were not infallible.

“That changes the situation, even in Germany. We have a new situation, and this must be analyzed wholeheartedly, without reserve and completely. Only then can decisions follow,”Merkel said.

She appeared alongside the leader of her Free Democrat coalition ally, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, then alluded to the extra safety checks commissioned for all 17 of the country’s nuclear power plants on Saturday, promising that there would be “no taboos” in these inspections.

About 40,000 people formed a human chain from the Neckarwestheim nuclear plant to the city of Stuttgart on Saturday, the news agency AP reported.

The activists, holding flags with slogans reading “Nuclear power! No thanks,” were protesting against the German government’s decision to extend the operational life of several of the country’s older nuclear power plants, the wire service said.

A government crisis team is also set to meet in Berlin to discuss the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the German weekly Der Spiegelreported.

The Fukushima plant in Japan was damaged by Friday’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake, and due to a radiation leak, radioactivity at the facility is reportedly now 20 times higher than normal levels.

Germany had previously decided to shut down all its nuclear plants by 2021, but in October 2010 it decided to extend the life of 17 nuclear power plants to 12 more years.

For decades there has been a stable and absolute majority in the polls in Germany against the use of nuclear energy. And in the last year there was a new upturn of the movement with a new generation of young activists.

The mobilizations of last year against the transports of nuclear waste had been the biggest for more than 15 years.

The former government of the Social Democrats and Green Party some years ago passed a law, which limited the running time of the existing nuclear plants.

But the law made it easy for the following government to change it.So the current government argued, that the nuclear plants are needed in order to fight climate change.

Another American Reporter Gets the Crap Beat Out Of Them, This Time In Bahrain

[Perhaps the reporters waiting to serve the interests of the corporate/government press in reporting the Empire’s progress in agitating the Middle East will learn to learn to put their personal safety above their ambitions.  The Hegelian purpose of the political agitation is the pacification of the population.  It is the hallmark of all post-WWII American foreign policy–sowing confusion in the people’s minds, by supporting actions which seem to be contrary to the known goals, in order for an eventual compromise (synthesis) between the two opposites.  This is the sum-total of “bi-partisanship,” the alleged hallmark of true American democracy, the Communist/Hegellian doctrine of “dialectic materialism, the compromising of beliefs in order to mold an expedient consensus opinion.
Anyway, I hope the Empire’s two reporters/propagandists recover quickly.]

A general view shows Pearl Square in Manama

US reporter beaten covering Bahrain unrest

(AFP) – 5 hours ago

WASHINGTON — A US reporter for ABC News was beaten by thugs armed with clubs early Thursday while covering the unrest in Bahrain, the US network reported.

Correspondent Miguel Marquez was caught in the crowd and attacked while covering protests in Manama, ABC said.

Marquez, who said he was not badly injured, was clubbed while he was on the phone with his headquarters in New York describing the scene as riot police stormed through a Manama square in the dark in a harsh crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

“No! No! No! Hey! I’m a journalist here!” he yelled while still on the phone. “I’m going! I’m going! I’m going! I’m going! … I’m hit.”

He said that the thugs pulled his camera out of his hands.

“I just got beat rather badly by a gang of thugs,” Marquez said in a later call to ABC headquarters. “I’m now in a marketplace near our hotel where people are cowering in buildings.”

Witnesses and opposition said that four people were killed and up to 95 wounded when police launched the operation in the iconic Pearl Square without warning at around 3:00 am (midnight GMT), sending protesters fleeing in panic.

CBS News said its top foreign correspondent Lara Logan suffered a brutal sexual assault at the hands of a mob in Egypt while covering the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak last week.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday that it was concerned “about the continued assaults on journalists covering anti-government demonstrations in the Middle East.”

“In recent days, journalists have been obstructed, assaulted, or detained in Libya, Bahrain, Iran, and Yemen,” the watchdog group said.

It also said the Bahrain government “has selectively reduced the speed of Internet connections inside the country for the past two days.”

The Internet is being slowed down “in newspaper offices, hotels, and homes but not in governmental institutions”, and the video-sharing website Bambuser had been blocked.

The CPJ also said that Bahrain interior ministry officials summoned a photographer for The Associated Press, Hassan Jamali, for questioning after he took “pictures of people injured in anti-government demonstrations” and ordered him “not take additional pictures of the injured.”

Would Mankind Rather Perish Than Change?

[Mankind’s brightest minds have brought us to the point of  ruin–Is that a flaw in the Divine Plan, or just another step up the evolutionary ladder which we do not yet understand? ]

“We human beings have to put our own evolution right. And that may be part of the cosmic plan.”

Where Did Man Go Wrong?

Where did man go wrong? The question sounds anachronistic in more ways than one. It’s a right question in general though, and a good starting point.

Why is it important? Because core insights into the causes of why man is destroying the earth and humanity may make the remedy clear. Indeed, to my mind insight is the remedy.

Of course, there are still a lot of people that maintain humankind is progressing, because science and technology, not to mention the media and society tell them so. Progress is the best kind of denial because at one level it’s undeniable.

Clearly, ‘human nature’ hasn’t changed in the hundred thousand years or so since modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens (one ‘wise man’ is a misnomer, two in the nomenclature is a delusion) emerged. Given that premise, it can be misleading to ask where man went wrong, since obviously something went wrong at the beginning.

That sounds a little like the Christian creation myth of ‘original sin.’ But that’s OK. Every good story, however false, has a kernel of truth.

To our modern ears, mistakes and sins mean something entirely different. But it’s interesting to note that the root meaning of  the word ‘sin’ is to “miss the mark, miss the target.” That’s synonymous with a mistake as we generally use the word. And it carries none of the hell and brimstone baggage, or even the connotation of judgment.

So if ‘sin’ means to miss the mark, however widely (and murdering another human being, for example, is missing the mark about as widely as a person can), what is the mark? And how has humankind been missing it since the beginning?

Despite the attempt, even by scientists, to merge man with nature, humans are the only creatures on the planet who are destroying the earth. Whether another creature would if it had the abilities we do only begs the question. How did nature evolve a species that is at odds with nature itself?

Leaving aside the ‘man was made in the image of God’ nonsense, it’s incontrovertible that humans evolved along the same lines, and through the same processes as all other creatures on earth. So the ‘wrong turn,’ if we want to put it that way, may originally be in evolution itself.

In short, ‘original sin’ has nothing to do with a fall from grace in the Garden, and everything to do with the evolution of conscious cognitive abilities. That means that division, fragmentation, conflict, and suffering have their roots in what some still like to call ‘higher thought.’

The essence of ‘higher thought’ is the ability to intentionally remove ‘things’ from the environment and modify them for our use. So in a sense, man didn’t go wrong, evolution did, since evolution gave us that peerless ability.

Even so, we human beings have to put our own evolution right. And that may be part of the cosmic plan. (Not by some separate deity, but rather by the intrinsic intelligence of the universe itself.)

Thought is an adaptation of unprecedented power, making possible technology, science, and culture (including the mental artifacts of belief, ritual, and tradition). But the evolution of thought carries with it the overwhelming tendency to live in the realm of our own separations, not only physically (which is necessary to survive as humans), but also psychologically (which isn’t, and has produced continual conflict and suffering).

Is it that in the evolution of complex cognition, the runaway fragmentation we see now (a la the Sorcerer’s Apprentice) is almost inevitable?  And if so, doesn’t that make it even more unlikely that we humans can change course and begin to bring ourselves into harmony with the earth and the universe? Paradoxically, it makes it more likely that we can.

Physical separation is necessary; indeed, it’s the sine qua non of the human adaptive pattern. But separation is merely a useful trick of thought. And psychological separation, which is the extension of thought into a dimension where it doesn’t belong, perpetually misses the mark. That is the ‘original (and ongoing and increasing) sin.’

Without psychological separation there is no ‘me,’ no feeling of separation, from which human division, conflict, and suffering flow. So can there be utilitarian cognitive separation without illusory psychological separation?

That is the great question life is putting, with increasing urgency, to the human being.

Martin LeFevre
martin@TheCostaRicaNews.com

Ukraine, Belarus Mull Growing Crops In Chernobyl Nuke Disaster Zone

Ukraine Mulls Growing Crops In Chernobyl Nuke Disaster Zone

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian officials are studying the possibility of growing crops in the 30-km zone of radioactive pollution near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, a popular Russian daily said on Friday. 

Pripyat, the city abandoned following the Chernobyl disaster.


A number of Ukrainian services and departments are conducting numerous studies to establish “areas that could be used for agriculture, some partially and some in full,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted acting head of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry Mykhailo Bolotskykh, as saying.

An explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 resulted in highly radioactive fallout in the atmosphere over an extensive area. A 30-kilometer (19-mile) exclusion zone was introduced following the accident.

Vast areas, mainly in the three then-Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, were contaminated by the fallout from the major nuclear meltdown. Some 200,000 people were relocated after the accident.

The agriculture revival plan, initiated by the European Union, proposes cultivating rapeseed, also known as canola oil and widely seen as the most popular primary product to produce biodiesel, in the contaminated area.

Similar plans have earlier been voiced by Belarus, another country severely affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

“This crop has great potential, with the European Union, the U.A.E., Turkey and Pakistan expressing their readiness to buy it from Ukraine. This is really profitable,” a source close to the Ukrainian government told the newspaper.

Ukraine is currently among Europe’s largest rapeseed producers.

“The problem is that rapeseed depletes the soil. It may be grown only as part of a five-year crop rotation cycle. Or, it may be grown on lands which have no agricultural importance,” he said.

The government did not comment on the information.

The paper quotes an expert as saying that scientists have developed mechanisms of rehabilitating nuclear-polluted soil, which include growing certain crops and combining various types of fertilizers.

“Experiments show that… areas where rehabilitation measures were conducted can produce crops with almost normal radionuclide levels, hundreds of times lower than those where such measures were not taken,” the unnamed scientist told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

But many experts say that any attempt to cultivate crops in Chernobyl is “simply a crime,” saying that many dangerous isotopes buried in soil could be released back into the air and water when the polluted soil is ploughed.

“It is simply a crime – increasing air and water pollution by turning over polluted soil,” a former official with the country’s radiation and ecology watchdog said.

The plan is expected to be officially announced in March 2011, shortly before the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Source: RIA Novosti

German police clash with anti-nuclear activists

German police clash with anti-nuclear activists

Photo

German police push away anti-nuclear activists who are blocking the railway track in the small village of Leitstade near Dannenberg, November 7, 2010.

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

By Annika Breidthardt

DANNENBERG, Germany (Reuters) – German police clashed on Sunday with anti-nuclear activists trying to disrupt a shipment of nuclear waste heading to a storage dump, using truncheons and tear gas to clear a blocked rail line.

A police spokesman said some 250 activists had tried to damage the track near the waste dump to halt a train carrying the waste. When police tried to stop them, the activists responded with tear gas and flare guns.

“The situation is not yet under control,” said another police spokesman.

Riot police used truncheons, tear gas and water cannon to stop the violent activists, who were part of a larger group of about 4,000 protesters near the town of Leitstade trying to halt the train. A police vehicle was set on fire, police said.

About a dozen protesters were injured, demonstrators were quoted as saying by local media reports. Police could not confirm any injuries.

The waste shipment has become a tense political issue this year due to anger over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to extend the lifespan of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants despite overwhelming public opposition.

The waste originated in Germany and was reprocessed at the French nuclear group Areva’s processing plant at La Hague for storage in a site in the northern German town of Gorleben.

The train was held up repeatedly on its way across France and Germany on a journey that began on Friday. In Germany thousands staged sit down strikes on tracks and others lowered themselves on ropes from bridges to prevent the train from passing. They were removed by police.

The waste shipment is expected to arrive in Gorleben, near the central town of Dannenberg, later on Sunday.

Merkel’s government has slumped in popularity due largely to its decision to extend nuclear power by about 12 years beyond the original shut-down set for 2021. Germany gets 23 percent of its power from nuclear plants.

Scenes of violence in previous transports have contributed to Germany’s strong anti-nuclear mood.

Protesters fear the depot at Gorleben, built as an interim storage site, could become permanent. Greenpeace says the site, in a disused salt mine, would be unsafe over the long term.

(Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by David Stamp)

German protestors delay nuclear waste train

German protestors delay nuclear waste train

DPA

Anti-nuclear protestors demonstrate in Dannenberg, northern Germany, on Saturday below a puppet depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel sitting on a makeshift symbolic nuclear toilet. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against a shipment of nuclear waste traveling to a storage site in northern Germany, and some tried to block railway tracks in a protest fueled by a government move to extend the country's use of atomic energy.
APAnti-nuclear protestors demonstrate in Dannenberg, northern Germany, on Saturday below a puppet depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel sitting on a makeshift symbolic nuclear toilet. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against a shipment of nuclear waste traveling to a storage site in northern Germany, and some tried to block railway tracks in a protest fueled by a government move to extend the country’s use of atomic energy.

Anti-nuclear activists worry over the safety of the warehouse in Gorleben, where the waste is to be stored while a long-term storage facility is built.

A train carrying nuclear waste was slowed down by activists on Sunday as it continued its journey to a storage site in northern Germany. The highly radioactive transport was delayed by almost two hours early on Sunday, when two activists suspended themselves over the railway tracks, forcing the train to slow down to a crawl.

Other protesters obstructed sections of track and had to be removed by police. Officers detained 16 activists overnight caught with utensils to chain themselves to the railway tracks.

Tens of thousands of protesters remained in the town of Gorleben, the final destination of the consignment. Police said 20,000 people had taken part in demonstrations there on Saturday, in the largest ever protest of its kind.

The train is carrying 123 tonnes of spent radioactive rods from German reactors, which were cooled and fused inside blocks of glass at a reprocessing plant in France.

It arrived in Germany on Saturday, where around 16,500 police officers have been assigned to protect the transport on its 600- kilometre journey to Gorleben.

Environmental organization Greenpeace warned that one of the train’s axles had become noticeably hot on Saturday, according to infrared images. Police said they discovered no anomalies when they checked the train.

Anti-nuclear activists worry over the safety of the warehouse in Gorleben, where the waste is to be stored while a long-term storage facility is built. Nuclear opponents also fear that Gorleben will effectively turn into a permanent storage site for the solid iron containers holding the nuclear waste, and have expressed doubt over government proposals to bury it 860 metres deep in a rock salt formation.

The protest is also directed at Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right government, which decided to extend the life-spans of Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations by an average of 12 years beyond a previous 2022 deadline.

The decision to extend nuclear power generation was passed last week in the lower house of parliament, where Ms Merkel’s coalition has the majority.

Germany has a long history of opposition to nuclear power, dating back to the 1970s and reinforced by the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Ukrainian reactor in Chernobyl.

After at least eight hours of delay, the rail transport is expected in Dannenberg late on Sunday, where the 11 containers will be lifted onto lorries for the remainder of the journey.

The Web Blog That Cost Its Creator His Life

feature photo

[The Web Blog That Cost Its Creator His Life.  SEE: Greek journalist and blogger Sokratis Giolias killed]

The fifth estate: A rogue rodent

The Greek, and by extension, the European economies are facing difficult times. The Greek political situation has followed suit, with political parties facing the impossible task of sacrificing people’s hard earned finances for the good of the economy. This article is not about judging the politicians who have pocketed millions while in office, creating public service positions by the tens of thousands in order to secure votes in elections.

Mass media, typically regarded as the fourth estate, are in their majority not serving as watchdogs of the political bodies, but disappointingly all too often find themselves accomplices by non-coverage or over-coverage of specific issues. Indeed, the traditional gatekeepers of information have become fewer as mergers and acquisitions of mass media by media groups has become the norm. With fewer gatekeepers, and in some cases, a near dictatorial approach to deciding what receives extensive coverage and what gets buried, Media have allowed for a new estate: The fifth estate.

The fifth estate has manifested most obviously in Greece.

One blog, which is based on openness of information has become the most popular website in Greece, receiving millions of visitors each day. The blog, is only outvisited by Google, Facebook, Youtube, Yahoo, and Blogger.

In terms of information, this blog is simply destroying traditional media. The blog reposts from other blogs, contains original content, and posts users testimonials and commentaries. No censorship, no agenda, other than transparency and faith in democracy.
What’s more, the top site in Greece, runs on a blogspot platform, with no commercial advertisements.

The blog is heralded for disseminating information which led to the resignation of Minister Angela Gerekou last week, who quit after her husband was found owing over €5.5 million in taxes.

The age of information filtering is coming to an end. The risks and dangers obvious: unreliable information, lack of quality and depth in writing, and all the reasons given in a journalism class. But for a country like Greece, where the democratic deficit has been multiplied by influencable media, the value of real freedom and democracy is priceless.

Let’s hope the political “democratic” response is to impose stringent regulations on blogs.

Until then, the “rodents” will continue to gnaw away at politicians with deep pockets.

For those who don’t know what blog is being refered to in this article visit: troktiko.blogspot.com

Deepwater Horizon–The Worst-Case Scenario

Deepwater Horizon: The Worst-Case Scenario

By Richard Heinberg

22 June, 2010
Post Carbon

Reports from the Gulf of Mexico just keep getting worse. Estimates of the rate of oil spillage from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead just keep gushing (the latest official number: up to 60,000 barrels per day). Forecasts for how long it will take before the leak is finally plugged continue pluming toward August—maybe even December. In addition to the oil itself, BP has (in this case deliberately) spilled a million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersant. Biologists’ accounts of the devastation being wreaked on fish, birds, amphibians, turtles, coral reefs, and marshes grow more apocalyptic by the day—especially in view of the fact that the vast majority of animal victims die alone and uncounted. Warnings are now being raised that the natural gas being vented along with the oil will significantly extend the giant dead zones in the Gulf. And guesses as to the ultimate economic toll of this still-unfolding tragedy—on everything from the tourism and fishing industries of at least five coastal states to the pensioners in Britain whose futures are at risk if BP files for bankruptcy or is taken over by a Chinese oil company—surge every time an analyst steps back to consider the situation from another angle.

We all want the least-bad outcome here. But what if events continue on the current trajectory—that is, what if the situation keeps deteriorating? Just how awful could this get?

For weeks various petroleum engineers and geologists working on the sidelines have speculated that the problems with the Deepwater Horizon may go deep—that the steel well casing, and the cement that seals and supports that casing against the surrounding rock, may have been seriously breached far beneath the seabed. If that is true, then escaping oil mixed with sand could be eroding what’s left of the well casing and cement, pushing out through the cracks and destabilizing the ground around the casing. According to Lisa Margonelli in The Atlantic:

There is the possibility that as the ground and the casing shift, the whole thing collapses inward, the giant Blow Out Preventer falls over, the drill pipe shoots out of the remains of the well, or any number of other scenarios,” that could making it virtually impossible ever to cap the well or even to plug it at depth via relief wells.

Read, for example, this comment at TheOilDrum.com, a site frequented by oil industry technical insiders who often post anonymously. The author of the comment, “dougr,” argues fairly persuasively that disintegration of the sub-surface casing and cement is the best explanation for the recent failure of “top kill” efforts to stop the oil flow by forcibly injecting mud into the wellhead.

Concerns about the integrity of the sub-seabed well casing appear also to be motivating some seriously doomerish recent public statements from Matt Simmons, the energy investment banker who decided to go rogue a couple of years ago following the publication of his controversial Peak Oil book Twilight in the Desert. Simmons says, for example, that “it could be 24 years before the deepwater gusher ends,” a forecast that makes little sense if one accepts the conventional view of what’s wrong with the Deepwater Horizon well and how long it will take to plug it with relief wells.

Are these concerns credible? From a technical standpoint, it is clear that improperly cemented wells can and do rupture and cause blowouts. It’s fairly clear that this is part of what happened with Deepwater Horizon. But is the well casing further disintegrating, and is oil escaping the well bore horizontally as well as vertically? We just don’t know. And that is largely due to the fact that BP is as opaque on this score as it has been with regard to nearly every sensitive technical issue (including the rate of leakage) since its drilling rig exploded two months ago.

So far, up to 3.6 million barrels of oil have spilled into the Gulf. The size of the Macondo oilfield has been estimated as being anywhere from 25 to 100 million barrels. It is unclear how much of that oil-in-place would escape upward into Gulf waters if its flow remained completely unchecked, but it is safe to assume that at least half, and probably a much greater proportion, would eventually drain upward. That means many times as much oil would enter the Gulf waters as has done so until now.

Already Deepwater Horizon is the not only the worst oil spill, but the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Multiplying the scale of this existing catastrophe multiple times sends us into truly uncharted territory.

Already, coastal ecosystems are being shredded; for a sense of how bad it is for wildlife in the Gulf now, just read “Biologists fear Gulf wildlife will suffer for generations.”In a truly worst case, oil — and perhaps dissolved methane as well — would hitch a ride on ocean currents out to the deep Atlantic, spreading ecological destruction far and wide.

For the economies of coastal states, a worst-case leakage scenario would be utterly devastating. Not only the fishing industry, but the oil industry as well would be fatally crippled, due to the disruption of operations at refineries. Shipping via the Mississippi River, which handles 60 percent of all U.S. grain exports, could be imperiled, since the Port of South Louisiana, the largest bulk cargo port in the world, might have to be closed if ships are unable to operate in oil-drenched waters. Unemployment in the region would soar and economic refugees would scatter in all directions.

The consequences for BP would almost certainly be fatal: it is questionable whether the corporation can survive even in the best case (that is, if “bottom kill” efforts succeed in August); if the spill goes on past the end of the year, then claims against the company and investor flight will probably push it into bankruptcy. Americans may shed few tears over this prospect, but BP happens to be Great Britain’s largest corporation, so the impact to the British economy could be substantial.

The consequences for the oil industry as a whole would also be dire. More regulations, soaring insurance rates, and drilling moratoria would lead to oil price spikes and shortages. Foreign national oil companies could of course continue to operate much as before, but the big independent companies, even if they shifted operations elsewhere, would be hit hard.

For President Obama, an environmental disaster of the scale we are discussing could have political consequences at least equivalent to those of the Iranian hostage crisis during the Carter presidency. Obama’s only chance at survival would be an FDR-like show of leadership backed by bold energy and economic plans and ruthless disregard for partisan bickering and monied interests.

For the U.S. economy, already weakened by a still-unfolding financial crisis, a worst-case scenario in the Gulf could be the last straw. The cumulative impacts—falling grain exports, soaring unemployment in southeastern coastal states, higher oil prices—would almost certainly spell the end to any hope of recovery and might push the nation into the worst Depression in its history.

We would all prefer not even to contemplate such a scenario, much less live with it. It is irresponsible to inflict needless worry on readers on the basis of entirely speculative and extremely unlikely events. But the more I learn about the technical issues, and the worse news gets, the more likely this scenario seems. We all hope that a relief well will succeed in stopping the oil flow sometime around August, and that until then BP will be able to siphon off most of the oil escaping through the riser and damaged blowout preventer. But one has to wonder: is anyone at the White House seriously considering the worst-case scenario? And what should citizens be doing to prepare, just in case?

W.Virginia’s Troubled Sister To Bhopal’s Union Carbide Plant

[India is making a monumental mistake by letting these corporate parasites off the hook in Bhopal.  Maybe the Indian government thinks that the “backward classes” need a little thinning-out?  Why let the useless eaters get in the way of corporate blessings?]

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Fatal Tragedy- Bhopal Gas“, posted with vodpod

Carbide plant saw 3 mishaps before the gas tragedy

Bhopal Prior to the leakage of the deadly methyl isocyanate gas from the Union Carbide plant in 1984, three mishaps had taken place in the facility killing two factory workers, according to Madhya Pradesh Assembly records.
BJP MLAs at that time Gaurisankar Shejwar and Babulal Gaur had raised in the state Assembly in 1982 the issue of the death of UCIL employee Mohammed Ashraf and a fitter due to gas leaks in the plant.

As per the Assembly records, the then Labour Minister, Tara Singh Viyogi had confirmed that a fitter (whose name was not given in the reply) had died on October 28, 1975 and Ashraf had lost his life on December 25, 1981 due to leakages of gas in the factory.

The BJP members had also raised the issue of safety and security measures in the wake of two deaths in the plant to which the Minister had replied that he had personally inspected the factory and found that it had adequate arrangements for meeting any exigencies.

Rachna Dhingra of NGO Bhopal Group for Information and Actions said that “an employee Mohammad Ashraf died in the plant in December 1981 due to phosgene exposure while a major fire had occurred in the alpha napthol unit of the plant in 1982.

“Surprisingly, the fire incident was suppressed by the plant authorities despite the fact that it was noticed from a distance by the people living near the plant,” she claimed.


Institute Manufacturing Site

carbide-history

The U.S. EPA announced that Union Carbide records showed that there had been 28 leaks of MIC at the InstituteWest Virginia plant in the years 1980 through 

Institute Manufacturing Site

Bayer owns the plant site proper, the general facilities and the  A new chapter in the history of West Virginia Operations began when Union Carbide Corporation became a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company in 2001. 

Institute WV Chemical Leak Reported as Undetected for Two Weeks 

Feb 18, 2010  Institute WV Chemical Leak Reported as Undetected for Two Weeks 

Explosion

Kanawha chemical plant rocked by explosion; one worker killed, one injured

August 29, 2008

By Tom Breen

INSTITUTE — One worker was killed and a second injured in an explosion at a chemical plant that shook an area west of Charleston.

The explosion, which sent a fireball hundreds of feet into the air and could be felt miles away, occurred about 10:25 p.m. Thursday. The blast occurred in a section of the Bayer CropScience plant where waste products are treated before disposal, Bayer spokesman Mike Wey said.


Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A Crime Called Bhopal

[Any other country would have gone the extra mile to penalize the foreign corporation–not India.  From Union Carbide’s perspective, this massive industrial accident couldn’t have happened in a better location.  Only a nation which sees one class of its own citizens as “untouchables” (compared to the highest class, which produces a religious variant of the elite that are referred to as “godmen”) could be counted on to defend the corporations instead of the victimized poor, in an industrial travesty of this magnitude.

India’s relationship with American corporations is clearly far more important than the lives of a few thousand “untouchables.”]

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Fatal Tragedy- Bhopal Gas“, posted with vodpod

Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A Crime Called Bhopal

By Gautaman Bhaskaran
South Asia Correspondent

Over 25 years ago on a cold winter’s night, thousands of sleeping people died after inhaling toxic gas escaping from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal. A train full of passengers at the nearby Bhopal station never moved.Nobody on it woke up. More than 10,000 men, women and children went in the first three days of the gas leak, and in the following years, another 15,000 died of complications. Deaths and debilitating physical and mental impairments still continue, for water and ground remain contaminated by the deadly methyl isocyanate gas, 40 tonnes of which seeped out into a still, windless night. Even today, about 120,000 people lead a life of suffering. Bhopal is the worst industrial tragedy in the history of mankind.

Yet, those guilty of being responsible for this have not been punished, not really. On June 7, after 25 years, a court found eight men accountable and sentenced them to two years in jail. But they walked out of prison within a few hours, having paid paltry bail money. All these men were senior officers of the Union Carbide when the disaster struck.

But a far greater mockery pertains to the company’s then chief executive officer in India, Warren Anderson. An American citizen, he remains free and is reportedly living in New York. Admittedly, he was arrested a few days after that fateful December night, but was freed on bail a couple of days later. He jumped it and fled to the U.S., his neat getaway having been facilitated, if reports are to be believed, by the Government of Madhya Pradesh, (whose capital city is Bhopal), which even gave him a private aircraft.

Anderson never appeared in any court after that. He never bothered to answer why his company never applied the same safety standards in India that it did in a sister plant in West Virginia, USA. A Greenpeace International report states: “On the night of the disaster, when an explosion at Union Carbide’s pesticide plant caused 40 tonnes of lethal gas to seep into the city of Bhopal, six safety measures designed to prevent a gas leak had either malfunctioned or were turned off or were otherwise inadequate.

In addition, the safety siren, intended to alert the community should an incident occur at the plant, was turned off…Union Carbide responded to the disaster by paying survivors inadequate compensation (some USD 550 for each) and abandoning the plant, leaving tonnes of dangerous toxic chemicals strewn around the site, and the people of Bhopal with a toxic legacy that is still causing injury today. In 2001, the company shed its name by merging with Dow Chemical”.

Obviously, money must have changed hands, thought unfortunately it must have gone to the wrong hands. Six months before the night of lethal horror, the Madhya Pradesh Government had given a clean cheat to the Union Carbide’s safety net. The inquiry, if all there was a real one, was prompted by reports of the company’s inadequate or non-existent safety measures. Some papers had headlined to say that there was a catastrophe waiting to happen. The Union Carbide’s cost-cutting steps had disabled safety procedures, and there were minor leaks between 1981 and 1984 when employees had to be rushed to hospital. Some even died.

And those who died or were maimed for life in December 1984 were mostly poor people, for the pesticide plant was located in a crowded, lowly area, mostly inhabited by workers and their families. Obviously, their voices were weak. Otherwise, how does one explain India’s Supreme Court ruling in 1996 that “diluted charges against the guilty from culpable homicide to criminal negligence, which carries a maximum jail sentence of two years”. In India, death by negligence is slapped against those responsible for causing road accidents. Shockingly, the world’s most devastating industrial calamity has been reduced to a traffic mishap!

It is clear that a political will was lacking then, is lacking now. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement, delivered last December to mark the 25th anniversary of Bhopal, that “the tragedy continues to gnaw at our collective conscience”, sounds as hollow as empty rhetoric.

Apparently New Delhi is anxious not to displease American giant corporations. Just days after the horrifying incident, India’s Ambassador to the U.S. quickly made a declaration to say that it would not affect his country’s policy on foreign investments.

In the meantime, there are growing fears that Bhopal will repeat, given that India is opening up its nuclear energy industry to foreign corporates. Washington has been pressing New Delhi to pass a law that will keep the liability of American nuclear firms in India to a bare minimum. The brunt of the financial burden would be borne by the Indian State operator! A Minister, not named, was quoted as having said that the nuclear bill would “indemnify American companies so that they don’t have to go through another Union Carbide in Bhopal”.

However, under widespread criticism by the media (still largely independent and thankfully so) and Opposition parties, the Bill is now being reworked. Bear-hugged by corporate America, New Delhi’s recklessness is indeed appalling.