Sunday, November 11, 2007

why fear-mongering sells in politics

Following the tragic terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the popularity of President George W. Bush increased dramatically. A new line of research explains why and demonstrates that reminders of 9/11 and of death in general continue to increase President Bush's appeal.

This research is based on the idea that reminders of death increase the need for psychological security and therefore the appeal of leaders who emphasize the greatness of the nation and a heroic victory over evil - those with a charismatic leadership style.

To test this hypothesis, Jeff Greenberg, a professor of psychology at the University Arizona in Tucson, Sheldon Solomon (Skidmore College) and Tom Pyszczynski, (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs) and their colleagues conducted an experiment that is scheduled to appear in the December 2004 issue of "Psychological Science."

For their current research, the scientists asked students to think about their own death or a control topic and then read campaign statements of three hypothetical political candidates, each with a different leadership style: charismatic, task-oriented or relationship-oriented. Following a reminder of death, there was almost an 800 percent increase in votes for the charismatic leader, but no increase for the two other candidates.

The results of the study fueled still more research. UA graduate student and lead author Mark Landau and Greenberg, with colleagues from around the country, generated four studies that examined how reminders of death specifically influence evaluations of President Bush. Those results are due to be published this September in "Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin." In those studies, reminders of death or the events of 9/11 dramatically increased support for President Bush and his policies regarding terrorism and Iraq.

"The first study showed increased appeal for Bush and his policies after a reminder of death. The second simply showed that subliminal reminders of 9/11 increase the tendency to think about death. The third showed both death and 9/11 reminders increased appeal of Bush and his policies," Greenberg said.

"Also, interestingly, this effect was the same for participants who rated themselves as liberal as it was for those who rated themselves as conservative."

What can voters do to ensure that they make choices in a rational way, based on political qualifications and the positions of the candidates? They may need to monitor efforts by candidates to capitalize on fear mongering and make a greater effort to vote with their heads, rather than with their hearts, and be aware of how concerns about death affect human behavior.

Greenberg, Solomon and Pyszczynski are the originators of Terror Management Theory, which helps explain why humans react the way they do to the threat of death, and how this reaction influences their post-threat cognition and emotion. They also wrote "In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror" (2002, American Psychological Association), in which they used terror management theory to analyze the roots of terrorism and American reactions to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.

French, German FM's preparing R&B duet for YouTube

FOREIGN MINISTERS ROCK OUT
Steinmeier and Kouchner to Record R&B Song

The French and German foreign ministers, Bernard Kouchner and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, are to record a duet together for release on YouTube. Fortunately professional musicians will be on hand to help out the two crooning politicians.

The European Union has an image problem. All too many ordinary Europeans find it, well, boring, with young people in particular being on the whole underwhelmed by Brussels.

So what better way to appeal to young Europeans than through the language they understand best: music? Throw in some banging tunes and some fat beats and they'll be crossing the "yes" box at the next referendum before you can say "European constitution."

That, at least, seems to be the approach which the foreign ministers of France and Germany -- the two countries which make up the famous "motor" of the EU -- are taking in a bid to promote international harmony: Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier, 51, and France's Bernard Kouchner, 68, are to collaborate Monday on a duet.

The ditty, which will be recorded on the sidelines of a Franco-German summit attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, will later be premiered on the Internet portal YouTube and on the German Foreign Ministry Web site.

The two politicians will record the song in a recording studio in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood together with young Turkish-German musicians, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jäger announced Friday in Berlin. Jäger declined to give further details about the content of the song or whether Steinmeier had been practicing.

However when pressed as to whether it would be a rap song, he admitted the composition would be more in the direction of rhythm and blues. "The result will certainly be listenable," Jäger said, explaining that professional musicians would be on hand to help out the two wannabe crooners.

It's not the first time that YouTube has been put to use by European politicians. An EU video which cobbled together extracts from the best sex scenes in European film (more...) got hundreds of thousands of views on the video portal earlier this year.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,516497,00.html

'Monopoly Power: Pakistan and the Israel Lobby'

By BADRUDDIN KHAN

Recent events in Pakistan should serve as a wake up call. There is more
to the Mideast region than Israel and its Arab antagonists. The Israel
Lobby has been successful in inducing the United States into
mis-allocating its resources to protect Israeli interests, and this is
now having a profound and lasting impact. It is time for supporters of
the Israel Lobby to face up to the fact that what is good for Israel is
not necessarily good for the United States. The Mideast is not best
viewed through Israeli interests, and there is much more at stake than
Israel's welfare.

Pakistan is for all practical purposes under martial law. This is
hardly a surprise outcome. Management of the "war on terror" was
delegated by the Bush administration to strongman General Pervez
Musharraf, who quickly fell in line after being presented with the
alternative of Pakistan being bombed into the stone-age. Musharraf has
managed the situation as well as he could, given his pre-condition that
he stay in power (the economy, for example, has grown nicely during his
tenure). This pre-condition, however, is clearly not acceptable to
Pakistanis, and he is now being forced into elections. For the US, the
shift in focus from Afghanistan, Bin Laden, and Al Qaeda to Iraq, Iran,
and Israel's interests has proved to be seriously distracting.

Our Mideast strategy is managed directly or indirectly by the Israel
Lobby. This Lobby functions as a "monopoly" in the manner of Microsoft.
Until recently, no alternate viewpoints were seriously considered, and
the Israel Lobby has represented itself as the establishment.
Monopolies, however, corrupt the system; Microsoft distorted the
software industry, and the Israel Lobby is corrupting our body politic.
We are now seeing clear and tangible evidence of the consequences of
this betrayal of American interests. Rather than pursue Bin Laden,
vanquish the Taliban, and guide Pakistan towards democracy, the Bush
administration was misdirected into attacking Iraq, and US power is now
being targeted at Israel's perceived enemies such as Iran.

The Israel Lobby has labored at caricaturizing Muslims as natural
enemies of the United States. It has succeeded in skillfully amplifying
Israel's contempt and fear of Arabs, into contempt and fear of Muslims
by mainstream Americans. This has required a sustained campaign, and
the results speak for themselves: after 9/11 80%+ of Muslims the world
over were pro-US, and today a similar percentage is anti-US. Such
swings in public opinion are not accidental, and reflect US actions
under the "war on terror", and a calculated strategy to provoke an
adversary into being.

There are now numerous excellent and well documented books that
describe the Israel Lobby, its machinations, and the detrimental impact
of its pervasive influence. It is time for us to switch our priorities
to other countries that are being neglected at our peril, foreign
policy things that matter, reduce the importance of Israel and its
concerns, and refocus to American interests.
 

NYC Public Library: 'Beat Writer Jack Kerouac Explored in In-Depth Exhibition'

Featuring Famous On the Road Scroll and Treasures from The New York Public Library's Jack Kerouac Archive

Unpublished Manuscripts, Diaries, Journals, Correspondence, Drawings and Paintings, Photographs, and Kerouac's Fantasy Baseball and Horse Racing Materials on Display, along with 60 Feet of the On the Road Scroll

Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac on the Road on view at The New York Public Library from November 9, 2007 - February 24, 2008; March 1 - 16, 2008

The largest assemblage of Jack Kerouac's manuscripts, diaries, journals, notebooks, photographs, paintings, mixed-media artworks, and sketches ever shown will be on display in the exhibition Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac on the Road at The New York Public Library from November 9, 2007 - February 24, 2008 and March 1 - 16, 2008.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the publication of Kerouac's seminal novel On the Road, 300 Kerouac and Beat-related materials will be on display, including typescript and manuscript drafts of On the Road. Figuratively and literally at the center of the exhibition will be the iconic 120-foot scroll on which Kerouac, in three weeks in New York City, composed and typed the novel later emended by him in typescripts that are also on display, in three weeks in New York City. The first 60 feet of the scroll, on loan from James Irsay, owner of the National Football League's Indianapolis Colts, will be on view from November 9, 2007 through February 24, 2008. Beatific Soul is drawn almost exclusively from the contents of the Library’s Jack Kerouac Archive (acquired in 2001) and other Beat holdings, including the William S. Burroughs Archive (acquired in 2006), housed in the Library’s Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature; a small group of materials has been selected from other Library collections. With few exceptions, the archival material displayed has never before been seen by the public.
[Note: The original scroll of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road will be on view from Friday, November 9 through Sunday, February 24. The exhibition will be closed from Monday, February 25 through Friday, February 29. Reopening on Saturday, March 1, the exhibition will continue through Sunday, March 16; during this period, a full-size facsimile of the scroll’s first 60 feet will be on view.]

“The arrival of the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac's On the Road is an important moment in American letters for at least two reasons: first, because Kerouac (1922 –1969) is generally regarded as chief of the triumvirate comprising himself, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs, who were fathers of the Beat movement; and second, because the sensation caused by the publication of On the Road brought Kerouac to the attention of a national audience,” said Library President Paul LeClerc. “The New York Public Library could not allow this significant anniversary to pass without a significant exhibition and accompanying publication, especially since in 2001, the Library's Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature acquired the Jack Kerouac Archive.” ...

~ full details ~

 

'As mental illness has become profitable, we are seeing more of it'

 
Dwight D. Eisenhower, who in his last speech as President of the United States warned against the potential harm citizens face from the inordinate power of the Military-Industrial Complex, would, no doubt, have been alarmed by the documented harm produced by the Psycho-Pharmaceutical-Industrial Complex.

Dr. Bruce Levine, provides insights into the burgeoning, profit-driven mental illness industry:

"Why now are we hearing more from the corporate media about the demise of the serotonin-deficiency theory of depression? Perhaps it is because the blockbuster serotonin-enhancer drugs [ such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil] have either lost their patent protection or are soon to lose it and drug companies are preparing us for the next wave of patent-protected drugs and biochemical justifications for them."

One of the most insidious government endorsed dragnets is a mental screening tool with an 84% false-positive rate--TeenScreen. Hard to imagine that a screening tool whose predictive accuracy is only 16%--yet it is being promoted and used in schools across the country--43 states in 450 schools. Healthy children are being branded as mentally unstable and /or suicidal, serving as a means to increase the market for psychotropic drugs. See: [
Link]

For more about the industrial complex and its aggressive marketing of the most toxic psychotropic drugs specifically targeting children, see recent presentation at ICSPP conference.

America’s Children Need a Rescue Operation: [
Link]

See also, Drugging Our Poor By Bethany Stotts, Accuracy in the Media, October 23, 2007 "The increasing correlation between psychiatric visits and medicated therapy may call into question whether mental screening actually benefits the public." [
Link]
 
[Link] Magazine, November 2007 The U.S. Psycho-Pharmaceutical-Industrial Complex As mental illness has become profitable, we are seeing more of it By Bruce E. Levine

In Eugene Jarecki's documentary film Why We Fight, about the U.S. military-industrial complex, U.S. foreign policy critic Chalmers Johnson states: "I guarantee you when war becomes that profitable, you are going to see more of it." Similarly, as mental illness has become extremely profitable, we are seeing more of it.

On September 4, 2007, the New York Times reported, "The number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003. . . .Drug makers and company-sponsored psychiatrists have been encouraging doctors to look for the disorder" ("Bipolar Illness Soars as a Diagnosis for the Young").

Not too long ago, a child who was irritable, moody, and distractible and who at times sounded grandiose or acted without regard for consequences was considered a "handful." In the U.S. by the 1980s, that child was labeled with a "behavioral disorder" and today that child is being diagnosed as "bipolar" and "psychotic"--and prescribed expensive antipsychotic drugs. Bloomberg News, also on September 4, 2007, reported, "The expanded use of bipolar as a pediatric diagnosis has made children the fastest-growing part of the $11.5 billion U.S. market for antipsychotic drugs."

Psychopathologizing young people is not the only reason for the dramatic rise in sales of such antipsychotics as Eli Lilly's Zyprexa and Johnson & Johnson's's Risperdal (each, in recent years, grossing annually from $3 to $4 billion). Much of Big Pharma's antipsychotic boon is attributable to generous U.S. government agencies, especially Medicaid. The Medicaid gravy train has been fueled by Big Pharma corruption so over-the-top that it has been the subject of recent media exposures.

The Associated Press, on August 21, 2007, reported, "A groundbreaking Minnesota law is shining a rare light into the big money that drug companies spend on members of state advisory panels who help select which drugs are used in Medicaid programs for the poor and disabled." Those advisory panels--dominated by physicians--have great influence over the $28 billion spent by Medicaid on drugs, but only Minnesota, Vermont, and Maine require drug companies to report monies paid to physicians. The AP article focused on John E. Simon, a psychiatrist on the Minnesota advisory panel since 2004, who received $489,000 from Eli Lilly between 1998 and 2006. The top drugs paid for by Minnesota Medicaid, according to the AP article, have been antipsychotic drugs, especially Eli Lilly's Zyprexa.

Serotonin Deficiency and WMDs

With the advent of Eli Lilly's serotonin-enhancer Prozac at the end of 1987, the general public and doctors began receiving a multi-billion dollar marketing blitz proclaiming that depression is caused by a deficiency of serotonin, and that this deficiency could be corrected by Prozac (and, later, other serotonin-enhancer antidepressants such as Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, and Luvox). Between 1987 and 1997, the percentage of Americans in outpatient treatment for depression more than tripled. Of those in treatment, the percentage prescribed medication almost doubled. In 1985 the total annual sales for all antidepressants in the U.S. was approximately $240 million, while today it is approximately $12 billion. In 2006, the American Journal of Psychiatry reported that the percentage of American adults with major depression in 1991 was 3.33 percent, but by 2001, the percentage had more than doubled to 7.06 percent.

The serotonin-deficiency theory of depression was so successfully marketed that it was news to many Americans when Newsweek's February 26, 2007 cover story, "Men and Depression," mentioned that scientists now reject the theory that depression is caused by low levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told Newsweek that "a depressed brain is not necessarily underproducing something."

The demise of the serotonin-deficiency theory of depression should not be considered news in 2007 because in 1998 The American Medical Association Essential Guide to Depression was already stating: "The link between low levels of serotonin and depressive illness is unclear, as some depressed people have too much serotonin." That same year Elliot Valenstein, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan, in his book Blaming the Brain pointed out, "Furthermore, there is no convincing evidence that depressed people have a serotonin or norepinephrine deficiency." (Antidepressants that increase the neurotransmitter norepinephrine as well as serotonin include Effexor and Cymbalta). In 2002 the New York Times reported: "Researchers knew that antidepressants seemed to raise the brain's levels of messenger chemicals called neurotransmitters, so they theorized that depression must result from a deficiency of these chemicals. Yet a multitude of studies failed to prove this precept." Unfortunately, that fact was buried under more than fifty preceding paragraphs.

Similar to the Bush administration, which knew it is was far easier to sell a war when Americans believed they were threatened by weapons of mass destruction, antidepressant manufacturers know it is much easier to sell serotonin-enhancer drugs when people believe depression is caused by a deficiency of serotonin. The Bush Administration and the mental health establishment (including the National Institute of Mental Health) have retreated from their respective theories, but neither has spent a great deal of time or energy getting the word out. Since each officialdom's earlier claims were so loudly trumpeted and their later retractions so quietly whispered, many Americans continue to believe in mistaken rationales for policies and treatments that continue to affect millions of lives.

The reality is that when patients report Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft as "working," it is not because these drugs are correcting any kind of chemical imbalance. These drugs can temporarily "take the edge off"--as is the case with many psychotropic drugs, legal or illegal. But for a significant number of people, these drugs produce extremely unpleasant side effects, while for many others, these drugs have little or no effect. So, overall, the difference in effectiveness between antidepressants and a sugar-pill placebo is "clinically negligible." This was the conclusion of University of Connecticut professor of psychology Irving Kirsch, who used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to 47 antidepressant studies sponsored by drug companies on Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, Celexa, and Serzone that had been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (but many of which had not been published). Kirsch discovered that in the majority of the trials, the antidepressant failed to outperform a sugar-pill placebo (Prevention & Treatment, "The Emperor's New Drugs," 2002).

Why now are we hearing more from the corporate media about the demise of the serotonin-deficiency theory of depression? Perhaps it is because the blockbuster serontin-enhancer drugs have either lost their patent protection or are soon to lose it and drug companies are preparing us for the next wave of patent-protected drugs and biochemical justifications for them. The Newsweek article on "Men and Depression" went on to state, "Instead of focusing on boosting neurotransmitters (the function of the antidepressants in the popular SSRI category such as Prozac and Zoloft), scientists are developing medications that block the production of excess stress chemicals."

Big Pharma, FDA, NIMH, and Congress

There are other parallels between the military-industrial complex and the psychopharmaceutical-industrial complex. Vital to the profits of both are supportive U.S. government regulatory, research, and purchasing agencies.

There is nothing more important for a drug manufacturer than FDA approval and so it is common sense that a pharmaceutical company will spend whatever it takes to ensure FDA approval.

In 2000 an article in USA Today, "FDA Advisors Tied to Industry," reported that in 55 percent of the FDA advisory meetings on drug approvals, half or more of the FDA advisers had financial connections to the interested drug company; and in 92 percent of these advisory meetings, at least one FDA adviser had a financial conflict of interest. Joseph Glenmullen, in Prozac Backlash (2000), notes that Paul Leber, director of the FDA's division of neuropharmacological drug products, left the FDA in the late 1990s to direct a consulting firm that specializes in advising pharmaceutical companies attempting to gain FDA approval for new psychiatric drugs.

The revolving door of employment is also used by Big Pharma to maintain influence over the National Institute of Mental Health. In Talking Back to Prozac (1994), Peter and Ginger Breggin report that in 1993 Steven Paul, scientific director of NIMH, resigned to become vice president of Eli Lilly (maker of Prozac and Zyprexa). In 2001 Roche Pharmaceutical (manufacturer of Valium, Klonopin, and other psychiatric drugs) proudly announced that Lewis Judd, a former NIMH director, had joined its scientific advisory board.

To the delight of Big Pharma, NIMH uses taxpayer monies to fund researchers who are financially connected to pharmaceutical companies. One important example is the "Sequential Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D)," a $35 million U.S. taxpayer-funded study that proclaimed the effectiveness of antidepressant treatment. The results of STAR*D were widely reported by the corporate media. Unfortunately, the NIMH press release about STAR*D excluded the fact that STAR*D researchers received consulting and speaker fees from the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the antidepressants studied in STAR*D--and this fact went unreported by the corporate media. Also not in the press release and unreported is the fact that STAR*D researchers failed to include a placebo control and failed to incorporate relapse rates in the overall results. So in reality, STAR*D antidepressant results were no better than the customary placebo results or the results of no treatment at all--this also unreported by the corporate media.

The corruption by Big Pharma of the FDA and NIMH is not difficult when these agencies' overseer, the U.S. Congress, has also been corrupted by Big Pharma. Billy Tauzin, a former Republican congressperson from Louisiana, is one example. Tauzin, as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, helped shepherd passage of the Medicare prescription drug law --a bonanza for Big Pharma. Soon after this favor to Big Pharma, Tauzin became head of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Big Pharma's trade organization. Tauzin's annual salary as head of PhRMA (as reported on April 1, 2007 by "60 Minutes") is $2 million.

Psychiatry's Officialdom

Robert Whitaker, in his book Mad in America (2001), summarized the beginnings of Big Pharma's corruption of America's psychiatrists and their professional organization, the American Psychiatric Association (APA): By the early 1970s, all of psychiatry was in the process of being transformed by the influence of drug money. Pill-oriented shrinks could earn much more than those who relied primarily on psychotherapy (prescribing a pill takes a lot less time than talk therapy); drug-company sales representatives who came to their offices often plied them with little gifts (dinners, tickets to entertainment, and the like); and their trade organization, the APA, had become ever more fiscally dependent on drug companies. 30 percent of the APA's annual budget came from drug advertisements to its journals."

Whitaker also reported that the APA relied on drug company grants to fund its "educational" programs. Such grants have continued and in the first quarter of 2007, Eli Lilly reported providing grants of over $412,000 for two APA programs: "Improving Depression Treatments" and "Understanding the Complexity of Bipolar Mixed Episodes."

Drug companies have also been successful hijacking university psychiatry departments. In 2005 the Boston Globe reported that Harvard Medical School's psychiatry department at Massachusetts General Hospital received $6.5 million from four drug companies. Marcia Angell, physician and former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and author of The Truth About the Drug Companies (2004), reported that the head of the psychiatry department at Brown University Medical School made over $500,000 in one year consulting for drug companies that make antidepressants. Angell remarked, "When the New England Journal of Medicine, under my editorship, published a study by him and his colleagues of an antidepressant agent, there wasn't enough room to print all the authors' conflict-of-interest disclosures. The full list had to be put on the website."

Drug companies also provide major funding for so-called "mental health consumer organizations," the most well-known of which is the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). NAMI received $11.72 million from drug companies between 1996 and mid-1999, according to Mother Jones in 1999, which also reported that Eli Lilly was NAMI's leading drug company funder and that "in the case of Lilly, at least, 'funding' takes more than one form. Jerry Radke, a Lilly executive, is 'on loan' to NAMI, working out of the organization's headquarters."

Exposés of Big Pharma methods of influencing NAMI have not stopped the practice. In the first quarter of 2007, Eli Lilly's "Grant Office 2007" posted that Lilly provided NAMI with a grant of $450,000 for NAMI's "Campaign for the Mind of America 2007." For those troubled by the success of the psycho-pharmaceutical-industrial complex at manufacturing consent in the United States, the title "Campaign for the Mind of America 2007" is a chilling one.
 
http://ahrp.blogspot.com/2007/11/us-psycho-pharmaceutical-industrial.html

Spooks refuse to toe Cheney's line on Iran

By Gareth Porter
10 Nov 2007

WASHINGTON - The US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear program. The aim is to make the document more supportive of Vice President Dick Cheney's militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts provided by participants in the NIE process to two former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers.

But this pressure on intelligence analysts, obviously instigated by Cheney himself, has not produced a draft estimate without those  dissenting views, these sources say. The White House has now apparently decided to release the "unsatisfactory" draft NIE, but without making its key findings public.

A NIE coordinates the judgments of the US's 16 intelligence agencies on a specific country or issue.

A former CIA intelligence officer who has asked not to be identified told Inter Press Service (IPS) that an official involved in the NIE process says the Iran estimate was ready to be published a year ago but has been delayed because the director of national intelligence wanted a draft reflecting a consensus on key conclusions - particularly on Iran's nuclear program.

There is a split in the intelligence community on how much of a threat the Iranian nuclear program poses, according to the intelligence official's account. Some analysts who are less independent are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the alarmist view coming from Cheney's office, but others have rejected that view.

The draft NIE, first completed a year ago, which had included the dissenting views, was not acceptable to the White House, according to the former intelligence officer. "They refused to come out with a version that had dissenting views in it," he says.

As recently as early October, the official involved in the process was said to be unclear about whether a NIE would be circulated and, if so, what it would say.

Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi provided a similar account, based on his own sources in the intelligence community. He told IPS that intelligence analysts have had to review and rewrite their findings three times, because of pressure from the White House.

"The White House wants a document that it can use as evidence for its Iran policy," says Giraldi. Despite pressures on them to change their dissenting conclusions, however, Giraldi says some analysts have refused to go along with conclusions that they believe are not supported by the evidence.

In October 2006, Giraldi wrote in The American Conservative that the NIE on Iran had already been completed, but that Cheney's office had objected to its findings on both the Iranian nuclear program and Iran's role in Iraq. The draft NIE did not conclude that there was confirming evidence that Iran was arming Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq, according to Giraldi.

Giraldi said the White House had decided to postpone any decision on the internal release of the NIE until after the November 2006 congressional elections.

Cheney's desire for a "clean" NIE that could be used to support his aggressive policy toward Iran was apparently a major factor in the replacement of John Negroponte as director of national intelligence in early 2007. Negroponte had angered neo-conservatives in the administration by telling the press in April 2006 that the intelligence community believed that it would still be "a number of years off" before Iran would be "likely to have enough fissile material to assemble into or to put into a nuclear weapon, perhaps into the next decade".

Neo-conservatives immediately attacked Negroponte for the statement, which merely reflected the existing NIE on Iran issued in spring 2005. Robert G Joseph, the under secretary of state for arms control and an ally of Cheney, contradicted Negroponte the following day. He suggested that Iran's nuclear program was nearing the "point of no return" - an Israeli concept referring to the mastery of industrial-scale uranium enrichment.

Frank J Gaffney, a protege of neo-conservative heavyweight  Richard Perle, complained that Negroponte was "absurdly declaring the Iranian regime to be years away from having nuclear weapons".

This January 5, President George W Bush announced the nomination of retired Vice Admiral John Michael "Mike" McConnell to be director of national intelligence. McConnell was approached by Cheney himself about accepting the position, according to Newsweek.

McConnell was far more amenable to White House influence than his predecessor. On February 27, one week after his confirmation, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee he was  "comfortable saying it's probable" that the alleged export of explosively formed penetrators to Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq was linked to the highest leadership in Iran.

Cheney had been making that charge, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, as well as Negroponte, have opposed it.

A public event last spring indicated that the White House had ordered a reconsideration of the draft NIE's conclusion on how many years it would take Iran to produce a nuclear weapon. The previous Iran estimate completed in the spring of 2005 had estimated it at five to 10 years.

Two weeks after Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad announced in mid-April that Iran would begin producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Thomas Fingar, said in an interview with National Public Radio that the completion of the NIE on Iran had been delayed while the intelligence community determined whether its judgment on the time frame within which Iran might produce a nuclear weapon needed to be amended.

Fingar said the estimate "might change", citing "new reporting" from the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as "some other new information we have". And then he added, "We are serious about reexamining old evidence."

That extraordinary revelation about the NIE process, which was obviously ordered by McConnell, was an unsubtle signal to the intelligence community that the White House was determined to obtain a more alarmist conclusion on the Iranian nuclear program.

A decision announced in late October indicated, however, that Cheney did not get the consensus findings on the nuclear program and Iran's role in Iraq that he had wanted. On October 27, David Shedd, a deputy to McConnell, told a congressional briefing that McConnell had issued a directive making it more difficult to declassify the key judgments of national intelligence estimates.

That reversed a Bush administration practice of releasing summaries of key judgments in NIEs that began when the White House made public the key judgments from the controversial 2002 NIE on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction program in July 2003.

The decision to withhold key judgments on Iran from the public was apparently part of a White House strategy for reducing the potential damage of publishing the estimate with the inclusion of dissenting views.

As of early October, officials involved in the NIE were "throwing their hands up in frustration" over the refusal of the administration to allow the estimate to be released, according to the former intelligence officer. But the Iran NIE is now expected to be circulated within the administration in late November, says Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and founder of the anti-war group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

The release of the Iran NIE will certainly intensify the bureaucratic political struggle over Iran policy. If the NIE includes both dissenting views on key issues, a campaign of selective leaking to news media of language from the NIE that supports Cheney's line on Iran will soon follow, as well as leaks of the dissenting views by his opponents.

Both sides may be anticipating another effort by Cheney to win Bush's approval of a significant escalation of military pressure on Iran in early 2008.

Gareth Porter is a historian and national-security policy analyst. His latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in June 2005.

(Inter Press Service)
 

Robert Fisk: Holocaust denial in the White House

 
The Turks say the Armenians died in a 'civil war', and Bush goes along with their lies 
10 Nov 2007

How are the mighty fallen! President George Bush, the crusader king who would draw the sword against the forces of Darkness and Evil, he who said there was only "them or us", who would carry on, he claimed, an eternal conflict against "world terror" on our behalf; he turns out, well, to be a wimp. A clutch of Turkish generals and a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign on behalf of Turkish Holocaust deniers have transformed the lion into a lamb. No, not even a lamb – for this animal is, by its nature, a symbol of innocence – but into a household mouse, a little diminutive creature which, seen from afar, can even be confused with a rat. Am I going too far? I think not.

The "story so far" is familiar enough. In 1915, the Ottoman Turkish authorities carried out the systematic genocide of one and a half million Christian Armenians. There are photographs, diplomatic reports, original Ottoman documentation, the process of an entire post-First World War Ottoman trial, Winston Churchill and Lloyd George and a massive report by the British Foreign Office in 1915 and 1916 to prove that it is all true. Even movie film is now emerging – real archive footage taken by Western military cameramen in the First World War – to show that the first Holocaust of the 20th century, perpetrated in front of German officers who would later perfect its methods in their extermination of six million Jews, was as real as its pitifully few Armenian survivors still claim.

But the Turks won't let us say this. They have blackmailed the Western powers – including our own British Government, and now even the US – to kowtow to their shameless denials. These (and I weary that we must repeat them, because every news agency and government does just that through fear of Ankara's fury) include the canard that the Armenians died in a "civil war", that they were anyway collaborating with Turkey's Russian enemies, that fewer Armenians were killed than have been claimed, that as many Turkish Muslims were murdered as Armenians.

And now President Bush and the United States Congress have gone along with these lies. There was, briefly, a historic moment for Bush to walk tall after the US House Foreign Relations Committee voted last month to condemn the mass slaughter of Armenians as an act of genocide. Ancient Armenian-American survivors gathered at a House panel to listen to the debate. But as soon as Turkey's fossilised generals started to threaten Bush, I knew he would give in.

Listen, first, to General Yasar Buyukanit, chief of the Turkish armed forces, in an interview with the newspaper Milliyet. The passage of the House resolution, he whinged, was "sad and sorrowful" in view of the "strong links" Turkey maintained with its Nato partners. And if this resolution was passed by the full House of Representatives, then "our military relations with the US would never be as they were in the past... The US, in that respect, has shot itself in the foot".

Now listen to Mr Bush as he snaps to attention before the Turkish general staff. "We all deeply regret the tragic suffering (sic) of the Armenian people... But this resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings. Its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in Nato and in the global war on terror." I loved the last bit about the "global war on terror". Nobody – save for the Jews of Europe – has suffered "terror" more than the benighted Armenians of Turkey in 1915. But that Nato should matter more than the integrity of history – that Nato might one day prove to be so important that the Bushes of this world may have to equivocate over the Jewish Holocaust to placate a militarily resurgent Germany – beggars belief.

Among those men who should hold their heads in shame are those who claim they are winning the war in Iraq. They include the increasingly disoriented General David Petraeus, US commander in Iraq, and the increasingly delusional US ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, both of whom warned that full passage of the Armenian genocide bill would "harm the war effort in Iraq". And make no mistake, there are big bucks behind this disgusting piece of Holocaust denial.

Former Representative Robert L Livingston, a Louisiana Republican, has already picked up $12m from the Turks for his company, the Livingston Group, for two previously successful attempts to pervert the cause of moral justice and smother genocide congressional resolutions. He personally escorted Turkish officials to Capitol Hill to threaten US congressmen. They got the point. If the resolution went ahead, Turkey would bar US access to the Incirlik airbase through which passed much of the 70 per cent of American air supplies to Iraq which transit Turkey.

In the real world, this is called blackmail – which was why Bush was bound to cave in. Defence Secretary Robert Gates was even more pusillanimous – although he obviously cared nothing for the details of history. Petraeus and Crocker, he said, "believe clearly that access to the airfields and to the roads and so on in Turkey would be very much put at risk if this resolution passes...".

How terrible an irony did Gates utter. For it is these very "roads and so on" down which walked the hundreds of thousands of Armenians on their 1915 death marches. Many were forced aboard cattle trains which took them to their deaths. One of the railway lines on which they travelled ran due east of Adana – a great collection point for the doomed Christians of western Armenia – and the first station on the line was called Incirlik, the very same Incirlik which now houses the huge airbase that Mr Bush is so frightened of losing.

Had the genocide that Bush refuses to acknowledge not taken place – as the Turks claim – the Americans would be asking the Armenians for permission to use Incirlik. There is still alive – in Sussex if anyone cares to see her – an ageing Armenian survivor from that region who recalls the Ottoman Turkish gendarmes setting fire to a pile of living Armenian babies on the road close to Adana. These are the same "roads and so on" that so concern the gutless Mr Gates.

But fear not. If Turkey has frightened the boots off Bush, he's still ready to rattle the cage of the all-powerful Persians. People should be interested in preventing Iran from acquiring the knowledge to make nuclear weapons if they're "interested in preventing World War Three", Bush has warned us. What piffle. Bush can't even summon up the courage to tell the truth about World War One.

Who would have thought that the leader of the Western world – he who would protect us against "world terror" – would turn out to be the David Irving of the White House?

 

~ Source ~

Celery as pain, high blood pressure and gout remedy?

Both celery stalks and seeds are touted as gout remedies for reducing uric acid levels, reducing pain, and as a diuretic to lower blood pressure. How can the humble celery stalk, or extracts of its seeds, be so helpful?

Gout cures require the reduction of uric acid levels. The usual clinical target is a serum (blood) level of 6 mg/dL. Reducing uric acid levels often dissolves the MSU crystals which are mainly formed from uric acid. The immune system’s reaction to these crystals is the immediate cause of pain and inflammation. Drugs such as Allopurinol are xanthine oxidase inhibitors -- it inhibits the enzyme which is responsible for a major step in converting purines into uric acid in the liver, so less uric acid is produced.

Celery is one of the natural substances which may inhibit xanthine oxidase, according to a study on rats, where rats lowered their uric acid from 3-n-butylpthalide, or 3nB for short. This is the substance in celery that gives celery its distinctive smell and flavour.

But 3nB’s benefits for gout sufferers go further. 3nB also has diuretic properties. Thus it promotes the excretion of urine and can lower uric acid levels by improving its excretion in urine. Furthermore, as a diuretic, it acts to reduce blood pressure which is important for gout sufferers because high blood pressure frequently accompanies gout.

CELERY AND PAIN RELIEF

Two small studies reached interesting and hopeful conclusions about celery as a pain reliever. A celery extract, standardized to contain 85% 3nB was given to 15 arthritis, osteoporosis and gout sufferers. They took 34mg twice daily for three weeks. After three weeks the patients reported lower pain levels, and some reported complete pain relief.

Obviously encouraged by the results, the study was repeated among a larger group, 70 patients this time, who took a higher dosage (75mg) twice daily for three weeks. The results were better than in the first study. The probability that this beneficial outcome was NOT a consequence of the dosage was calculated at 1 in 1,000 chances.

Two small studies “do not make a summer.” And more research is required to learn more about celery’s positive effect on uric acid levels.

EXPERT OPINION

Noted experts have also endorsed celery as a gout remedy. A well known naturopathic doctor, Michael Murray N.D., author of “Dr.Murray’s Total Body Tune Up” has recommended celery, with the usual caveat that more needs to be learnt about how it works.

Another fan of celery, Dr. James Duke PhD, the author of “The Green Pharmacy,” developed gout and tried Allopurinol. Then he swapped Allopurinol for celery seed extract. He reported celery seed extract maintained his uric acid level below that which can often cure gout, and that he had not had a gout attack since he began taking celery seed extract. The interesting thing is that he was able to discontinue Allopurinol, and that he said a human, as well as rats, can at least maintain lower uric acid levels from celery.

So there it is. Two experts have endorsed celery and two small studies showed promising results. Celery can be beneficial for gout, reduce blood pressure and alleviate pain. Unwanted side effects were not found in the studies. And the research learnt that pain often returned when celery seed extract was discontinued. So if it does work for you, you may need to take it for a long time, perhaps a lifetime.

How much and in what form? Four to eight fresh celery stalks daily. They are fresher if they are not limp. The 3nB is in the stalks, not the leaves. Celery goes well with cheddar cheese, which is a low purine food that doesn’t add much uric acid -- all foods contain purines to some extent. Juices made from four to eight stalks will also give you the 3nB. Celery can be put in stews which are a good gout meal since they increase your daily water intake as providing the stew’s constituents are low or medium purine level foods -- note that clam chowder is high purine.

Dietary supplements Purchase celery seed extract standardized to contain 85% 3nB. Tablets or capsules. Twice daily for a total of 150-300mg daily. These are especially useful if you’re bored eating celery every day, and when you travel. The extracts may work better than the stalks.

Caution! Celery should not be taken if you’re pregnant or lactating. And if you have kidney disease. If you’re eating lots of celery or taking celery dietary supplements don’t spend too much time under the sun.
About the Author
John Mepham has spent much time researching gout. His best tip for beating gout? Get to your ideal weight, whatever the sacrifices may be.
~ Source ~


"the inner monologue is in peril"

The fame generation needs to learn the value of privacy

With Britain home to four million blogs, the inner monologue is in peril. But when everything is made public, something is lost

Marina Hyde
Saturday November 10, 2007
The Guardian

" ... There's something in that repeated "who I am" that seems to suggest the almost total collapse of the private into the public. Gradually, older generations are having to adjust to the notion that not only do younger people not really care about privacy; they often don't even comprehend the idea of it. Watch the audition rounds of any television talent show, and it seems as if an entire generation now believes fame to be a basic human right. Maybe one of the other rights had to give. Maybe it was privacy. At this rate, they'll be employing acting coaches to make their CCTV outings stand out from the crowd.

But the view that this is a cultural shift with which we must all make our peace is wrong. Naive and cavalier is a dangerous combination, and a disdain for their own privacy will leave young people immensely exposed.

Consider the case of the 23-year-old Muslim woman who was found guilty this week under new anti-terror laws. Samina Malik worked for WH Smith at Heathrow, but was given to writing poetry about beheading non-believers and martyrdom and suchlike. Not long after she had begun visiting chatrooms, calling herself the "lyrical terrorist" - she thought the name "cool" - the knock at the door came. Examination of her computer revealed she had downloaded, inter alia, something called "How to win in hand-to-hand combat". She lives in Southall, awaits sentencing.

When we live in a society where reactionary bedroom poets are found guilty under terrorism laws, it makes you wonder whether their rather more seasoned and significantly more brilliant predecessors such as Swift wouldn't, in a similar climate, have realised the folly of bunging their every move on Facebook, and made alternative arrangements.

The world may be shifting, but we must attempt to encourage in young people an understanding of the value of privacy, and a sense of the very real dangers that might attend them should they discard it. Continue to create a lively persona, by all means, but keep at least some of that inner monologue back from public consumption. After all, one can commune surprisingly rewardingly with oneself alone. As Gwendolen, Cecily's imagined love rival in The Importance of Being Earnest, so memorably declares: "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train." ... "

 

full article ~

 

'Even vaccine advocates are calling it a setback'

ANALYSIS-AIDS vaccines experts confused, dismayed
8 Nov 2007
 
WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (Reuters) - AIDS vaccine researchers are worried about the future of their field after learning an experimental HIV vaccine not only does not work, but just might make recipients more susceptible to infection with the AIDS virus.

They are worried about their volunteers and the future of AIDS vaccines in general. And they are worried because they cannot understand how a vaccine would make a person more vulnerable.

Researchers from Merck & Co. (MRK.N:
Quote, Profile, Research), which makes the vaccine, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is helping develop it, said on Wednesday they believe a type of common cold virus used as the basis of the vaccine may somehow have made their volunteers more susceptible to HIV.

They are meeting this week in Seattle to hash through the data and figure out what happened.

This is what they know: Out of 1,500 people vaccinated, 82 became infected with the AIDS virus. Of these, 49 got the vaccine and 33 got a placebo shot.

While they are counseling volunteers that they may have raised their own risk of becoming infected, they are also trying to figure out what happened.

"The data are disappointing and puzzling but we don't have definitive answers," Dr. Lawrence Corey of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, who was organizing the trial, told reporters.

Only one woman in the trial became infected with HIV. The rest were men having sex with other men, and it was the men who started out with the highest immune reponse to the adenovirus 5 common cold bug used to make the vaccine who were the most likely to become infected with the AIDS virus.

But the infected men were also less likely to have been circumcised -- circumcision can also prevent HIV infection -- and may have engaged in more risky behavior. So did the vaccine actually do something, or were the results a fluke?

"I don't think we really do know," Dr. Keith Gottesdiener of Merck Research Laboratories told Reuters.

FUTURE OF THE FIELD

Nearly 30 potential AIDS vaccines are being tested in people around the world.

"It is very important for the future of the field," said Margaret Johnston, director of the AIDS vaccine research program at the NIAID.

"It makes us rethink some of the candidates that are in trial," said Dr. Seth Berkley, president of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

Even vaccine advocates are calling it a setback.

"These data are deeply disappointing and troubling, and raise more questions than answers for the field of AIDS vaccine," said AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition executive director Mitchell Warren.

"This setback should not and can not diminish our commitment to developing an effective HIV vaccine," said NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci. "Every day, another 12,000 people become infected with HIV, most of whom live in resource-poor countries," he added.

The researchers agree the finding could at the very least scare people off from taking part in AIDS vaccine trials. And because HIV only infects people, having human volunteers is key to finding a way to prevent an infection that has killed 25 million people and affects 40 million more.

"That is why we are being completely transparent, as open as possible," Fauci said in a recent interview.

Berkley agreed. "I am only worried if there is a lot of buzz, misinformation around," he said.

But the fact that vaccine volunteers even became infected drives home the need for a vaccine, said Berkley. All the volunteers were counseled about ways to avoid HIV infection, and given condoms. "If those behavioral change interventions worked, we wouldn't need a vaccine," Berkley said.

"People will get infected despite the best counseling possible." (Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Jackie Frank)

 
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

Google
 

image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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