Thursday, January 31, 2008

'America - A Bankrupt Empire'

" ... Johnson, whose most recent book is Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, the third volume in his "Blowback" trilogy, argues that military expenditures are a drain on the productive capacity of the economy, and that the mistaken idea of what he calls "military Keynesianism" will eventually be our economic undoing. The US economy, he avers, has become increasingly dominated by what President Dwight Eisenhower dubbed the "military-industrial complex." Rampant militarism has diverted vital resources away from productive use and lines of research, and given other countries – Japan and the EU – the technological edge. This trend has also hollowed out our economic base, caused a debilitating decay in the physical infrastructure, and led to a growing debt – that is an economic time-bomb that seems to be exploding … now.

How many Americans realize the US military budget is greater than that of the rest of the world combined? This doesn't include our "off-budget" expenditures in the Iraqi and Afghan theaters, which surpass the combined military budgets of Russia and China. For the first time, the bill for the "defense" of the United States – a task left to the Department of Homeland Security [.pdf], not the Defense Department – exceeds $1 trillion. And that's just what's public: the secret "black budget" costs are unknown, and on this score Johnson advises us to heed economist Robert Higgs, who advises us to take any official Pentagon figures and simply double them. ... "

~ Read more... ~

 

'Exposing the Black Budget'

" ... It's the world's wildest high-tech toy catalog, the Pentagon's annual Dear Santa letter. It includes secret weapons programs with baffiing code names such as Elegant Lady, Tractor Rose, Forest Green, Senior Citizen, Island Sun and Black Light, White Cloud and Classic Wizard. These are the "black budget" programs that pay for spy satellites, invent stealth cruise missiles, tinker with Ladar - laser radar - and experiment on aircraft that change color and helicopters that evade tracking systems. Covering expenditures for intelligence and weapons research, the Pentagon's black budget is the most titillating portion of the massive classification program that has swelled almost unabated since World War II.

The black budget is the government's illusory and tangled accounting of what it spends on intelligence gathering, covert operations, and - less noticeably - secret military research and weapons programs. It admits to no easy calculation, but by estimates of those who watch it, the black budget may hit US$30 billion a year - a figure larger than current federal expenditures for education. It includes spending by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and military R&D.

Documented - vaguely - in funding requests and authorizations voted on by select committees of the US Congress, the black budget is published with omitted dollar amounts and blacked-out passages. It hides all sorts of strange projects, not just from enemies, foreign and domestic, but from the public and elected officials as well. Last year, for instance, it was revealed that the National Reconnaissance Office had for several years used the black budget to hide from Congress the cost and ownership of a $300 million office building, even though the structure was plainly visible from Route 28 west of Washington, DC.

With "program element" numbers, obscured figures, and code names that read like dadaist poetry, the details of the black budget are revealed to only a few select Congressional committee members - and sometimes not even to them. There are several different types of black budgets buried, for example, within the Pentagon's procurement budget and Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation budget - the tab for the toy testers. Others cover defense intelligence and research. An internal Pentagon memo from August 1994, which was accidentally leaked and showed up in Defense Week, revealed some hard numbers: the National Security Agency spends $3.5 billion a year; the Defense Intelligence Agency $621 million; and the Central Imagery Office $122 million for spy-satellite work.

A code name not mentioned in black budgets but well known to those who watch them is Trader. It is familiar to readers of such Net mailing lists as the skunk-works digest (majordomo@mail.orst.edu, subscribe: skunk-works in message body) or the newsgroup alt.conspiracy.area51. The code name Trader belongs to Paul McGinnis, who assembles and correlates public information to create a detailed estimate of items in the real budget. Several years ago, McGinnis became fascinated with all the code names and turned himself into a one-man truth squad: collector, interpreter, collator, and online publicizer of the black budget and its associated "special access programs." ... "

~ Full article ~

 

'Are we making a down payment on World War III or needlessly selling out to Cold War spooks?'

THE MILITARY'S portion of the black budget inhales about $14 billion annually. This figure overlaps to some degree with integrated intelligence activities, while billions more in black money support the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and other intelligence operations. According to several researchers, the total cost of black-budget programs today stands at about $30 billion.

"To a large extent the military, and certainly the intelligence community, is still running on Cold War momentum," Aftergood says. "A lot of projects that were initiated in the late 1980s are still under way, and it seems as if they're unstoppable, despite the fact that the mission which inspired them has vanished."

The remnants of the Cold War are not limited to the black budget and other motivational paradigms that linger within the halls of the Pentagon. The tensions between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union resulted in the idea that funding a multitude of hypersecret military programs was patriotic, an integral part of democracy itself. Indeed, there was a time when such intuitions perhaps made sense. The question is whether or not that time has passed. Because if it has, the fiscal and constitutional implications are immediate and overwhelming.

[ ... ]

The deficiencies of this arrangement are best exemplified by the A-12 Avenger, a Navy stealth attack fighter that ran recklessly over budget and was ultimately cancelled in 1991. Inquiries by the Navy and the Pentagon's inspector general determined that excessive secrecy disallowed routine oversight, and even the Secretary of Defense was not properly informed of the program's troubles. According to Aftergood, the Navy spent $2.68 billion--more than twice the annual amount dedicated to the National Park System--on the A-12 program. "Since the program was terminated before completion," he says, "no planes ever became operational, and all of the money was essentially wasted." He adds that a complex lawsuit filed by A-12 contractors for alleged improper termination may ultimately cost the government an additional $2 billion.

The very nature of the black budget suggests that if a similarly plagued secret program exists today, it will be years before Congress' General Accounting Office and other agencies can sift through the debris and trace the wasted billions.

Such a troubled program could exist in the form of a hypersonic Mach 6 (4,000 mph) spyplane that has been the focus of much speculation since a line item encoded "Aurora" took a budget leap from $8 million in 1986 to $2.3 billion the following year. Aurora then disappeared from the ledgers as it receded deeper into the black. Through much historical and technical sleuthing, Sweetman has placed himself at the vanguard of those who believe Aurora--also known as Omega--is today an active project with operational aircraft. And in his book Aurora: The Pentagon's Secret Hypersonic Spyplane, he concludes that "it is entirely possible that not all the news about Aurora is good. Secrecy has often been a cover for technical and financial problems ... Aurora may have overrun its projected costs or it may be designed and equipped in such a way that it is dedicated to an obsolete nuclear warfighting mission. Sooner or later, that story will come out."

Meanwhile, those privy to such stories are perhaps unprepared to deal with them. As quoted in the Secrecy & Government Bulletin published by the Federation of American Scientists, a senior Pentagon security official describes the congressional committee oversight as "perfunctory." He adds, "In my experience, it's usually staffers, not (committee) members, and it's a small cadre. ... Once a year or so, people will go up there and brief them on the particulars. Often it's several programs in one sitting. It's going through the motions." ... "

~ From 'Paint it Black' ~

Alice in Afghanistan

" ... our stated objective is to steadfastly support the popularly elected government of Afghanistan and to rebuild (and let’s soon acknowledge that that prefix is superfluous) its institutions. So what is the validity of such an objective?

According to her intervention at a recent conference sponsored by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs and the University of Ottawa’s new Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Astri Suhrke, a senior research fellow at Norway’s Christian Michelsen Institute, noted that “a UN source estimated that of the 249 newly elected deputies, 40 were commanders still associated with armed groups, 24 members belonged to criminal gangs, 17 were drug traffickers and 19 faced serious allegations of war crimes.” Suhrke also observed that Afghanistan depends almost totally upon foreign funding, with around 90 percent of the national budget being predicated on foreign transfers, and that foreign donors exercise effective control over key funding decisions. Specifically, Afghans have little say over the management and development of their security forces, and even less say over the mission of foreign forces in their country.

This has been made ever more clear of late through President Hamid Karzai’s poignant pleading with those forces to limit the “collateral damage” by NATO and Operation Enduring Freedom’s air attacks. Indeed, Laura King of the Los Angeles Times reported in July 2007 that, “after more than five years of increasingly intense warfare, the conflict in Afghanistan reached a grim milestone in the first half of this year: U.S. troops and their NATO allies killed more civilians than insurgents did, according to several independent tallies.”

The essential question is whether the essence of the NATO mission is still, or is likely to remain, viable. Are we in fact supporting a legitimate, worthy, effective and democratic government in Kabul, one that is capable of exercising control and extending its authority over the country, so that we can leave? And is this a likely enough scenario to warrant further massive investments, risk more Canadian lives and hazard NATO’s future?

In more politically charged terms, are we indeed prevailing? Hard information is difficult to come by, but most observers seem prepared to admit that violence is on the increase. An Afghan official interviewed by Stein and Lang says violence is once again encroaching on the capital. “The noose around Kabul ... is tightening,” said the official. “The roads in and out of the city are no longer secure.” Furthermore, both the military planning and coordination efforts of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the development effort seem to be in total disarray.

Arthur Kent, quoted in the book, reports on the all-important project to rebuild the Afghan National Army, sine qua non to our going home. In the November 2007 issue of Policy Options, he notes that “incompetence, conflict of interest, nepotism and corruption have led to chronic shortfalls in troop training targets. Instead of tackling the problems, US and NATO officials have concealed it by padding statistics.” Following an endless array of bogus numbers on the state of the ANA, Kent says, “in February 2007, it was widely agreed that the Afghan National Army numbered at most 22,000 men. Six years on, Hamid Karzai has less than a third of the force he and his allies regard as minimally capable of defending his regime ... Unfortunately, it is still the case that the best Afghan militias are the private ones.” Those private militias total some 120,000 gunmen, “many [of which] enforce goods smuggling, land grabs and drug trafficking. None battle the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

For its part, our current government is either as ignorant of geopolitical realities as its predecessors or similarly ignoring advice being proffered or—and I genuinely regret suggesting this could might be a possibility—is, in fact, being improperly briefed by intimidated bureaucrats seeking to please their stern and ever suspicious masters. Anecdotal evidence is building to suggest that, just like Bush on Iraq, Harper on Afghanistan is being told only what he wants to hear. One can only hope that the panel led by John Manley will speak truth to power.

The final chapter of The Unexpected War is worth the price of the book and much more. It is lucid, strong and forthright in its discussions of what we are and are not achieving in Afghanistan, and in its clear articulation of the reason that ought to have taken us there in the first instance and ought to have attracted allied support, but has not: “Canada is fighting in Afghanistan because an Afghan government supported those who planned and executed an attack against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”

On the vexing matter of “how long” western governments, afflicted as they are by short attention spans, are expected to endure the pain and tribulations of the Afghan battlefield and the “nation building” challenge, Jim Travers of the Toronto Star notes: “There will be no decisive military victories. Victory will go to those with strategic patience and endurance.” Unless he is measuring endurance as the difference between 2009 and 2011, I suspect we will not know victory in Afghanistan. ... "

From 'Alice in Afghanistan, a review of The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar'

 

In the Garden with the Guru

McLuhan opened with a riff about movies. “Film is high-definition pictures. You don’t have to fill in the blanks, so you’re detached and can think critically. Radio, telephone—they give you less to go on, and you have to fill out the message with your own story. But they’re still relatively hot. At the far end of the gamut is TV. It’s cool, low definition; you get completely absorbed in processing the bombardment of dots, hypnotized. It’s also non-sequential, like newspapers. Movies flow narratively, sequentially, the way we see. TV throws everything at us holus-bolus like sound. We can see only one thing at a time, but we can hear many things at once, even around corners. That’s why film is an eye medium and TV an ear medium.”

Looking around I noticed eyes widening and perplexity come over some of the faces. What surprised me was that many of the faces glowed with excitement, and I too felt I was hearing something fresh and challenging. Before anyone could butt in too much, McLuhan went on to talk about tools. Fragments of ideas drifted over us like flakes of an early snowfall.

The phonetic alphabet fell like a bombshell on tribal man. The printing press hit him like a hydrogen bomb. Now we’ve been blitzkreiged by TV.

The horseless buggy was the only way people could describe the automobile. Families whose wealth was based on carriages and buggy whips soon went bankrupt. Horsepower moved from animals into cars.

The wheel extends the foot in an automobile. In this way the wheel amplifies the power and speed of the foot, but at the same time it amputates. In the act of pressing the gas peddle, the foot becomes so specialized it no longer performs its original function, which is to walk.

If the wheel is an extension of the foot, then money is an extension of muscle, radio an amplification of the human voice, and the hydrogen bomb an outgrowth of teeth and fingernails.

Why should the sending or receiving of a telegram seem more dramatic than even the ringing of a telephone?

What do you think Hitler meant when he said: “I go my way with the assurance of a sleepwalker?”

I went next door a week later to ask one of the McLuhan daughters to babysit. A voice called me in. There lay McLuhan, the fireplace alight despite the heat of the afternoon, flat on his back with a magazine suspended parallel to his stretched-out body. He knew who I was but he was never lavishly chummy with his students. Before I could speak he pointed a finger at me and said: “I’ll tell you why Americans are suddenly buying small cars. The time of the big car as arrow aimed at a target is over. Now the car is a womb, a little cozy place away from the hurly-burly.” I stood quietly, taking my medicine as McLuhan dosed it out, then I backed out the door as if the sole purpose of my visit had been to hear this important pronouncement.

[ ... ]

Like all original thinkers from Blake to Einstein, McLuhan was much misunderstood. He never promoted TV over books as popular accounts gave out. He never expressed a preference for tribal culture over individualism. He never said the patterns of perception imposed by the ear are superior to those of the eye. One small aphorism sticks with me: “When the globe becomes a single electronic web with all its languages and culture recorded on a single tribal drum, the fixed point of view of print culture becomes irrelevant, however precious.” However precious! Those are the operative words, about as far as McLuhan went in taking sides. But they also bring his innermost sympathies to the fore.

Until The Mechanical Bride in 1951 McLuhan despaired of the modern world in the manner of his youthful hero, G.K. Chesterton. After the book’s disappointing reception he changed his tune. He would no longer judge society by mocking it; he would simply describe it. By 1968 when the boy from Edmonton had become the most popular intellectual in the English-speaking world, far from vilifying modernity, he had become modernity, often pronouncing that the present age was the most challenging and exciting time since the beginning of civilization. To some that made him sound like an enemy of books, a cheerleader for TV, hoopla and pop culture.

But whatever his disparagers said of him during his rise to fame, McLuhan was no apologist for the modern age. Not only was he too much the detached observer as a matter of conscious policy—he was too playful. His love of probes, percepts, put-ons, puns and sometimes plain corny jokes was inextinguishable:

Lest old Aquinas be forgot.
A Jung man is easily Freudened.
A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, else what’s a metaphor?
Though he might have been more humble, there’s no police like Holmes.

That doesn’t mean these utterings (“outerings’) are all silly. Whether you believe the medium is the message or the medium is the massage, McLuhan never lost his deep revulsion for the banality of his age. For him the mass-age was ultimately a mess-age.

As the 1970s waned, so did McLuhan’s reputation, a phenomenon not unknown among the famous. But in the 1990s his star began to rise again as things like tribal wars, cyberspace and globalization emerged in fulfillment of his predictions. He declined the title futurologist. What he wanted was to stop looking at history through a rearview mirror and to probe the meaning of the present. Whether he liked it or not, however, he was a futurologist, if only because he never stopped repeating that with information travelling at the speed of light the present is the future. ... "

From: 'In the Garden with the Guru-Adventures with Marshall McLuhan'

 

25 Sanitary Inspectors

" ... I know very little about Roger East, whose claim to fame now seems to lie entirely in his peculiar taste in titles. Indeed, Twenty-Five Sanitary Inspectors had been preceeded by both Candidate for Lilies and a debut delightfully entitled The Mystery of the Monkey Gland Cocktail. I kid you not - in fact the story of the Monkey Gland is even weirder than you think. ... "
 

Satan's Process

" ... Hovering around the Three Goat Gods of the Universe was their Emissary, Christ, not to be confused with Jesus who was but one of Christ's many manifestations. The theology was constantly changing, and Christ became a coequal fourth deity. I never saw Processeans worship their gods, because the gods were inner realities rather than external deities. But much of the Processeans' day was devoted to service of "our Lords Christ, Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan."

At various times The Process had communes in London, San Francisco, New Orleans, Paris, Munich, and Rome, but in 1970 they settled in the United States and Canada, first in Boston and Chicago, then in New Orleans again, as well as New York and Toronto. During three years of wandering, exoticism had served them well with the general public, and they fitted in well with the explosion of radical movements that marked the late 1960s. But as rooted urban residents they needed money, and the easiest source was begging on the streets as members of a formally incorporated church. The Satan image now hurt, rather than helped, and the stigma deepened when they were falsely accused of having trained Charles Manson in the Satanism that led him to order his followers on a murder spree (Lyons 1970; Sanders 1971; Bugliosi and Gentry 1974).

The Processeans responded by pulling in their horns. They changed their style of dress, adopting nondescript gray uniforms in complete contradiction to their doctrines but in pursuit of public acceptance, with tiny Satan goats on the lapels replacing the huge one on their chests. A period of general depression set in, as members were forced to realize that their grand hopes had achieved nothing more than a temporary high adventure. Robert had composed most of the group's radical scripture, and he remained committed to it, spinning ever more complex intellectual structures that seemed to others ever more removed from the reality that oppressed them. A rift developed between Robert and Mary Ann, and in 1974 he and a few others left to recreate the classical Process afresh, complete with all the Gods, while Mary Ann's much larger group turned to pure Jehovianism.

[ ... ]

Satan's lower aspect represented Sub-Humanity, gripped by lust, abandon, violence, excess, and indulgence. The higher aspect represented Super-Humanity, evaporating into detachment, mysticism, otherworldliness, magic, and asceticism. In terms of psychopathology, Jehovah and Lucifer were neurotic, the former being obsessive-compulsive, and the latter hysterical. Theirs was the "conflict of the mind."

While Satan relates to Christ through their coming Unity, he also stands in a definite relationship to Jehovah and Lucifer, representing a pair of escapes from conflict. The Game of the Gods explains that each individual is torn apart by this conflict. Jehovah demands self-discipline and dedication to duty. Lucifer, in contrast, urges self-indulgence, harmony, and peace, Satan's lower aspect is an intensification of Luciferianism, while the higher aspect is an intensification of Jehovianism.

The relationships between the Gods were reflected in relationships between people. Once Christ had been elevated to the status of coequal god, each person was believed to manifest one of four "god patterns" - not one for each god but one for each pair of gods who were not locked in conflict as were Christ and Satan, Lucifer and Jehovah. Thus, the four kinds of persons were the Jehovian-Christian, the Jehovian-Satanic, the Luciferian-Christian, and the Luciferian-Satanic, often simply identified by their initials: JC, JS, LC, and LS. Robert was an LC personality, and Mary Ann was its exact opposite, JS. Through the Union of Jehovah and Lucifer, and through the Unity of Christ and Satan, they could come together in harmony, combining their psychological assets rather than falling into violent disagreement. ... "

From: 'Social Construction from Within: Satan's Process'

The US Government's role in the "Drug Problem"

" ... Donovan’s team found that THCA, which they termed "TD," for "truth drug," induced "a great loquacity and hilarity," and even, in cases where the subject didn’t feel physically threatened, some useable "reefer madness." Peyote, morphine and scopolamine were judged too powerful to be used in effective interrogation. In light of all this, Donovan concluded, "The drug defies all but the most expert and search analysis, and for all practical purposes can be considered beyond analysis." The OSS did not, however, end the program. By that time, faced with the terrifying ship losses the USA was suffering from German U-boats, Donovan pressed on, hoping to find some effective chemical means to help interrogate captured U-boat sailors.

In May 1943, George Hunter White, an Army captain, OSS officer and former FBN agent, gave standard cigarettes laced with THCA to an unwitting August "Augie Dallas" Del Grazio, an influential New York City gangster. Del Grazio, who had by then had done prison stretches for assault and murder, had been one of the Mafia’s most notorious enforcers and narcotics smugglers. He operated an opium alkaloid factory in Turkey and was a key participant in the long-running Istanbul/Marsellies/NYC heroin pipeline commonly known as the "French Connection." Influenced by the THC, Del Grazio (who was also helping to smuggle spies and Mafiosi into German-occupied Italy) revealed volumes of vital information about underworld operations, including the names of several high ranking city and state officials who took bribes from the Mob. Donovan was encouraged by the results of White’s tests when he wrote, "Cigarette experiments indicated that we had a mechanism offering promise in relaxing prisoners to be interrogated."

Unsurprisingly, the extensive wartime German experiments with various hallucinogenic drugs at the Dachau concentration camp, directed by one Dr. Hubertus Strughold, later honored as "the father of aviation medicine," aroused great interest in the USA especially after an October 1945 Navy technical mission to Dachau reported in detail on Strughold’s work. So great, in fact, that when the OSS and its successor, the CIA, imported 800 German scientists of various specialties under the auspices of the infamous "Project Paperclip" during 1945-55, it made sure to include Dr. Strughold.

Dr. Strughold’s barbaric "medical experiments," for which his subordinates were tried and convicted as war criminals at Nuremburg, were nothing more than a series of bizarre and unspeakably brutal tortures. Even so, he learned a lot about human behavior and mescaline, a natural alkaloid present in the peyote cactus. Mescaline, long central to many Native American religious rituals and first chemically isolated in 1896, is a phenethylamine whose ergoline skeleton is also contained in lysergic acid (a tryptamine.)

Sandoz Labs chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann also discovered a lysergic acid derivative called ergonovine, a medication used to retard excessive postpartum uterine bleeding. Based on his work with ergonovine, Dr. Hofmann first derived d-lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate-25 (LSD, a refined alkaloidal liquid byproduct of a rye fungus, ergot) in a series of experiments in Zurich in 1938. He used the naturally occurring lysergic acid radical, the common item in all ergot alkaloids, as the major component of the substance. Further experiments in this vein yielded psilocybin, derived from the Mexican Psilocybe cubensis mushroom, hydergine, essential today in the improvement of cerebral circulation in geriatric patients, and dihydroergotamine, an important ingredient in blood pressure medication.

The well-read and broadly educated Dr. Hofmann knew ergot had a long natural and cultural history as both medicine and poison. Ancient Greek midwives used to give an ergot-based, gruel-like drink, called kykeon, to their patients about to give birth. Kykeon was also consumed during the autumn Eleusinia, the ancient Greek agricultural festival celebrated in honor of the goddess of agriculture, Demeter. Across the Atlantic, sacramental Maya morning glories, beautifully depicted at the ancient Mayan temple-palace complex at Teotihuacán, Mexico, dating to about 1450, also contain ergot-based alkaloids.

However, the mindset the CIA had in its drug research work was far different from that of Dr. Hofmann’s. To our Cold War spymasters, ex-Nazis like Dr. Strughold were definitely evil, but they were definitely useful as well. This pervasive amoral pragmatism led, of course, to the extensive and notorious MK-ULTRA experiments in which, for nearly 25 years, thousands of everyday Americans, both military and civilian, were heavily dosed with numerous very potent artificial psychoactive drugs, often without their knowledge or consent.

This phenomenon of the obsessive "interests of national security" expediency combined with our celebrity-obsessed pop culture that gleefully raises and shamelessly promotes snake oil hustlers as well as the pharmaceutical industry’s pricey "pill for every ill" philosophy, was a form of incompetence and arrogance far more hazardous than any synthetic alkaloid ever developed and came as no surprise to those like Dr. Hofmann. LSD, invaluable in psychiatric treatment – actor Cary Grant was cured of alcoholism by carefully administered doses of the drug under close medical supervision – is thousands of times more potent than the traditional herbal mixtures. In fact, it is thousands of times more potent than the milder of the entheogenic alkaloids. It is effective at doses of as little as a ten-millionth of a gram, which makes it 5,000 times more potent than mescaline. It should not be taken without training or supervision.

The Navy tested mescaline as part of its 1947-53 Project CHATTER. MK-ULTRA was first organized in 1949 by Richard Helms under the direction of Allen Dulles as Project BLUEBIRD. Two years later, it was renamed ARTICHOKE (after one of Dulles’s favorite foods) then termed MK-ULTRA in 1953, finally becoming MK-SEARCH in 1965 until the program's "official termination" eight years later. MK-ULTRA was directly responsible for the wide underground availability of LSD, phencyclidine (PCP – also called "angel dust"), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), 2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine (STP) and other powerful synthetic psychoactive drugs in the 1960s. In the early 1950s, the CIA and the Army had contacted Sandoz requesting several kilograms of LSD for use in the test program. Dr. Hofmann and Sandoz refused this request, so Director Dulles persuaded the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical luminary Eli Lilly (later the pioneers of and chief cheerleaders for the widely prescribed antidepressant Prozac) to synthesize the drug contrary to existing international patent accords--making the US government and Lilly the first illegal domestic manufacturers and distributors of LSD.

These were distributed via the agency’s sometime allies in organized crime and through the FBI’s counterintelligence programs (COINTELPROs) directed against various activist groups of the period. The actual definition of the term MK-ULTRA remains unclear but a former Army Special Forces captain, John McCarthy, who ran the CIA’s Saigon-based Operation Cherry which targeted the Cambodian ruler Prince Sihanouk for assassination, claimed that MK-ULTRA stood for "Manufacturing Killers Utilizing Lethal Tradecraft Requiring Assassination." ... "

~ Read more... ~

 

Bank turns London man into RFID-enabled guinea pig

" ... The Halifax bank is enrolling unsuspecting customers in trials
of a new generation of RFID-enabled bank cards, and trying to
keep them in the program even if they have mis-givings about
the wave and pay technology.

PayWave allows punters to debit their account without having
to enter a PIN or sign for goods valued at less than £10.

The RFID-based technology, backed by Visa, is being rolled out
by UK banks Barclays and Halifax, as well as others on the
continent. Mastercard is backing a similar technology called
PayPass.

Halifax is introducing the technology in London to a number of
punters, including Reg reader Pete.

Pete, a current account holder at Halifax, was among those
issued with a new card. He didn't want to use the unsolicited
technology and his attempts to receive an alternative card,
though ultimately successful, proved frustrating.

"I have to input my PIN the very first time I use this
'Paywave' card, but after that it is automatically authorised
to work for all transactions under £10," Pete explained. "I
put the new card straight in the bin - in fact, I shredded it
and put it in several different bins. I don't want this highly
insecure-sounding facility, and I never use a debit card for
retail transactions anyway."

Pete thought no more of the card assuming his old plastic,
which had months left to run, would continue to be useable.
But when he went to his local bank in early December to get
some cash the ATM refused the transaction and retained his
card.

Bank staff, having verified Pete's identity, were not
immediately able to work out why the card had been retained.
They gave him back his card but, after other attempts to use
his card failed, he was faced with the chore of getting his
card replaced. After calling Halifax's helpline, Pete was told
that the (unsolicited) issue of the contactless card had
automatically cancelled his original card, something not
mentioned in the paperwork that came with the old card,
according to Pete.

"Halifax are cancelling peoples' bank cards without permission
and without even telling them, and forcing them to use these
new cards, which as far as I know nobody has asked for," Pete
told El Reg. ... "
 

 

'Is the government manufacturing ghosts?'

" ... he was under almost constant surveillance by the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the Northern District of Illinois. Since 9/11, the number of such outfits across the country has tripled. With more than 2,000 FBI agents now assigned to 102 task forces, the JTTFs have effectively become a vast, quasi-secret arm of the federal government, granted sweeping new powers that outstrip those of any other law-enforcement agency. The JTTFs consist not only of local police, FBI special agents and federal investigators from Immigration and the IRS, but covert operatives from the CIA. The task forces have thus effectively destroyed the "wall" that historically existed between law enforcement and intelligence-gathering. Under the Bush administration, the JTTFs have been turned into a domestic spy agency, like Britain's MI5 —one with the powers of arrest.

The expenditure of such massive resources to find would-be terrorists inevitably requires results. Plots must be uncovered. Sleeper cells must be infiltrated. Another attack must be prevented —or, at least, be seen to be prevented.

[ ... ]

But a closer inspection of the cases brought by JTTFs reveals that most of the prosecutions had one thing in common: The defendants posed little if any demonstrable threat to anyone or anything. According to a study by the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law, only ten percent of the 619 "terrorist" cases brought by the federal government have resulted in convictions on "terrorism-related" charges —a category so broad as to be meaningless. In the past year, none of the convictions involved jihadist terror plots targeting America. "The government releases selective figures," says Karen Greenberg, director of the center. "They have never even defined 'terrorism.' They keep us in the dark over statistics."

[ ... ]

The two officers tell me about a close call at the Taste of Chicago food festival last year. Millions attend the annual street feast, with Chicago-style sausage and pizza and tamales on sale in booths along the lakefront. As with all major public events, the JTTF helped plan the security profile. A JHAT —a Joint Hazardous Assessment Team —set up at the festival, dotting the area with devices that detect signs of a chemical or biological or radiological attack. Suddenly, one of the devices went off: There was a radiological hit on one of the sniffers near a row of porta-potties. For an hour, the JHAT frantically tried to determine if Chicago had been struck by a "dirty bomb" —a weapon that spreads lethal radioactive material mixed with conventional explosives. Finally, after an anxious hour, the hit was traced to a particular outhouse —and the cause of the positive alert was determined.

"Someone who had chemotherapy had just done a poop," DeRosa says. ... "

From 'The Fear Factory'

The God Gun

" ... So the real question here is: how can we convert this tech into a concealable God Gun? I can't think of a more benevolent weapon --- what better way for free weirdos to incapacitate our "enemies" than a debilitating blast of union with the Oneness of creation? ... "
 
 

Pakistan: "if it ignites, it'll burn"

" ... Pakistan could very easily smash to bloody pieces in 2008.  If it does, nobody anywhere is gonna try and stitch Pakistan back together.  Pakistan has a bigger population than Russia.  It is just too big for any of the other power-players to handle.  So if it ignites, it'll burn.  So they'll just blow up the local missile sites (if they can), and then watch in grim disbelief.    Some people still think that there's an "Islamo-fascist tyranny" somewhere that hates our freedoms and can organize Islam-dom into a coherent fascist state...  There's just no way.  Al Qaeda and the Taliban aren't true "fascists." Fascists can at least make trains run on time.  Even Communists were better-organized. The mujihadeen have no organized army and no industrial policy and they don't know where to find any.  Because God was supposed to handle all that for them.  You're supposed to die nobly in a crowd of unwitting strangers, and then God's supposed to make that all better.  That's the big plan.  But when you blow up the china shop, God doesn't reassemble the plates for you.  Being faith-based doesn't trump reality. ... "
~ From Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008

"This woman played Will Smith in real life"

" ... Anyway, let me fast forward. In 1995, when HUD produced the first audited financial statements, they were published, and a fellow came to see me, and he said, “Look, there’s been a terrible mistake. You don’t understand, my family’s been in business for many generations, and we’ve been tracking all the FHA mortgage insurance outstanding in the market since the FHA went into existence in 1934, and there’s a terrible mistake – the amount of outstanding FHA mortgage insurance in the markets is significantly more that is shown in these financial statements …
Now when the fellow came to see me, Jim I thought he was crazy because what he was saying was that the U.S. Treasury and the FHA were engaged in significant securities fraud. In other words, what he was saying was that there was a significant amount of FHA & Ginnie Mae (or FHA related) securities outstanding than was shown in the financial statements.
Now, that’s what I’ve come to believe is true. In 1995, I thought the guy was nuts. What has been evidenced over the last 7 years, is that there is a pattern that suggests there is very significant financial fraud in the mortgage markets. And let me tell you a little bit about why I believe that to be true.
After I left the Bush administration, the Secretary of Treasury asked me to go back in as a Governor of the Federal Reserve. But I discovered the Internet when I was in HUD, and decided that I wanted to create my own securities firm that specialized in financial software. And I was convinced there was a tremendous opportunity to finance neighborhoods and places, and securitize small businesses and small real estate income and finance in the equity markets. In other words, in a world of privatization, there’s no reason why you can’t finance a lot of municipal functions with equity. …
So we wanted to do that, but a lot of it depended on creating the software tools to let you really see how the money works by place. And part of what I discovered when I was Assistant Secretary is, because there’s no transparency in how the money works by place for government money, there’s tremendous opportunities. There’s neighborhoods where, for example, HUD is spending $250,000 per unit to rehab public housing, but you can buy a rehab single family in the same 3 or 4 block area for $50,000. So, to the extent that you can reengineer government money within a place, there’s tremendous arbitrage opportunities if you combine that with financing places with equity. So we got very interested in doing that.
One of the things that happened was HUD later hired the [i.e. Catherine’s software] company back on competitive contract, to help with $12 billion of defaulted mortgage auctions. HUD was the last of the RTC and the private financial institutions auctioned all their mortgages. But HUD was kind of the Johnny-come-lately, and so hadn’t done that, and we helped them do that between 1994 and ’95 & ’96. They auctioned successfully about $10 billion of mortgages. What happened in that process was we were able to get the recovery rates, which had traditionally been about 35 cents on the dollar, beyond the industry standards which was about 75 cents on the dollar, we got it up to about 70-90 cents on the dollar.
And then in 1996, [we] were targeted by … the only way I can describe it, have you ever heard of the movie “Enemy of the State”?
JP: Oh sure.
CA: OK. Well I have someone who introduces me at conferences and says “This woman played Will Smith in real life.” Do you remember the role that Will Smith played?
JP: Oh absolutely.
CA: OK. Well what happened was we were targeted in a process where we went through a period of having 18 audits and investigations, and 12 pieces of litigation, and through that whole sort of enforcement process, the honest people were pushed out of HUD. And they pushed my company, and a series of other honest contractors and government officials out. And what happened in the year following that is HUD failed to produce audited financial statements, and reported undocumentable adjustments of $59 billion, that was in fiscal 1999. And throughout government in fiscal 1999 thru 2000/2001, there were reports of not only failure to produced audited financial statements, but about $3.4 trillion of undocumentable adjustments. Very, very significant. That works out to about $11,000 per American resident. ... "
 
 

The poisoned chalice

" ... Take, say, Anthony Lewis, who’s about as far to the critical extreme as you can find in the media. In his final words evaluating the war in The New York Times in 1975, he said the war began with “blundering efforts to do good” but by 1969, namely a year after the American business community had turned against the war, it was clear that the United States “could not impose a solution except at a price too costly to itself,” so therefore it was a “disastrous mistake.” Nazi generals could have said the same thing after Stalingrad and probably did. That’s the extreme position in the left liberal spectrum. Or take the distinguished historian and Kennedy advisor Arthur Schlesinger. When the war was going sour under LBJ, he wrote that “we all pray” that the hawks are right and that more troops will lead to victory. And he knew what victory meant. He said we’re leaving “a land of ruin and wreck,” but “we all pray” that escalation will succeed and if it does “we may all be saluting the wisdom and statesmanship of the American government.” But probably the hawks are wrong, so escalation is a bad idea.

You can translate the rhetoric almost word by word into the elite, including political elite, opposition to the Iraq war.

It’s based on two principles. The first principle is: “we totally reject American ideals.” The only people who accept American ideals are Iraqis. The United States totally rejects them. What American ideals? The principles of the Nuremburg decision. The Nuremburg tribunal, which is basically American, expressed high ideals, which we profess. Namely, of all the war crimes, aggression is the supreme international crime, which encompasses within it all of the evil that follows. It’s obvious that the Iraq invasion is a pure case of aggression and therefore, according to our ideals, it encompasses all the evil that follows, like sectarian warfare, al-Qaeda Iraq, Abu Ghraib, and everything else. The chief U.S. Prosecutor Robert Jackson, addressed the tribunal and said, “we should remember that we’re handing these Nazi war criminals a poisoned chalice. If we ever sip from it we must be subject to the same principles or else the whole thing is a farce.” Well, it seems that almost no one in the American elite accepts that or can even understand it. But Iraqis accept it.

The latest study of Iraqi opinion, carried out by the American military, provides an illustration. There is an interesting article about it by Karen DeYoung in the Washington Post. She said the American military is very excited and cheered to see the results of this latest study, which showed that Iraqis have “shared beliefs.” They’re coming together. They’re getting to political reconciliation. Well, what are the shared beliefs? The shared beliefs are that the Americans are responsible for all the horrors that took place in Iraq, as the Nuremberg principles hold, and they should get out. That’s the shared belief. So yes, they accept American principles. But the American government rejects them totally as does elite opinion. And the same is true in Europe, incidentally. That’s point number one.

The second point is that there is a shared assumption here and in the West that we own the world. Unless you accept that assumption, the entire discussion that is taking place is unintelligible. For example, you see a headline in the newspaper, as I saw recently in the Christian Science Monitor, something like “New Study of Foreign Fighters in Iraq.” Who are the foreign fighters in Iraq? Some guy who came in from Saudi Arabia. How about the 160,000 American troops? Well, they’re not foreign fighters in Iraq because we own the world; therefore we can’t be foreign fighters anywhere. Like, if the United States invades Canada, we won’t be foreign. And if anybody resists it, they’re enemy combatants, we send them to Guantanamo.

The same goes for the entire discussion about Iranian interference in Iraq. If you’re looking at this from some rational standpoint, you have to collapse in ridicule. Could there be Allied interference in Vichy France? There can’t be. The country was conquered and it’s under military occupation. And of course we understand that. When the Russians complained about American interference in Afghanistan, we’d laugh. But when we talk about Iranian interference in Iraq, going back to viable political candidates, every single one of them says that this is outrageous – meaning, the Iranians don’t understand that we own the world. So if anybody disrupts any action of ours, no matter what it is, the supreme international crime or anything else, they’re the criminals. And we send them to Guantanamo and they don’t get rights and so on. And the Supreme Court argues about it.

In fact, the same is true almost anywhere you look. Since we own the world, everything we do is necessarily right. It can be too costly and then we don’t like it. Or there could be a couple of bad apples who do the wrong thing like Abu Ghraib. Going back to the Nuremburg tribunal, they did not try the SS men who threw people into the extermination chambers. The people who were tried were the people at the top, like von Ribbentrop, the foreign minister, who was accused of having supported a preemptive war. The Germans invaded Norway to try to preempt a British attack against Germany. By our standards they were totally justified. But Powell is not being tried. He is not going to be sentenced to hanging.  ... "

From 'Chomsky on World Ownership'

 

US justice chief refuses to call waterboarding torture

" ... US Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Wednesday to define waterboarding as illegal torture, even while admitting that if he underwent the interrogation technique that he would "feel" it is torture.
Fending off pressure in a Senate Justice Committee hearing to categorically call waterboarding, which simulates drowning, as torture under US law, the top US legal official suggested that under certain conditions it could be legal, and said that learned people could disagree on the issue.
"I don't think it would be appropriate for me to pass definitive judgement on the technique's legality," he said.
"There are some circumstances where current law would appear clearly to prohibit waterboarding's use. Other circumstances would present a far closer question."
In his first testimony to the committee since becoming attorney general on November 9, Mukasey said that torture is illegal under US statutes, but that waterboarding is not definitively covered by those statutes.
"There is a statute which says it is a relative issue," Mukasey said to questioning by Senator Joe Biden.
He also said that the Central Intelligence Agency does not now use waterboarding and that the technique is "currently" not approved for its interrogation program.
However, he declined to say whether it had been used in the past.
"I am not authorized to talk about what the CIA has done in the past," he told the Senate panel.
Senators were adamant that it is torture, with committee head Patrick Leahy insisting that waterboarding "has been recognized as torture for the last 500 years."
[ ... ]

The issue was central to the committee's hearings late last year on Mukasey's nomination to head the Justice Department.
At the time he declined to answer questions on it, saying he had not been briefed on CIA practices or the Bush administration's legal reasonings.
Mukasey did offer that weighing whether waterboarding is torture or not invokes the issue of whether it "shocks the conscience."
That standard "is essentially a balancing test of the value of doing something as against the cost of doing it."
Under the "shocks-the-conscience" standard, he said, it would be torture if done in an interrogation simply to gain information for "historical circumstances" but not to save lives. ... "
 
 

Make War History

Important Documents

The case to answer

"The charges in the indictment that the defendants planned and waged aggressive wars are charges of the utmost gravity. War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."


Extract from the judgment of The Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal

Make War History exists to hold Britain's political, civil and military leaders to account for the genocide of the Iraqi people.

Despite giving firm and binding promises to the world that we would never wage war, never threaten or attack another country, never harm civilians, never kill members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, never manufacture, possess or use indiscriminate weapons, settle all international disputes peacefully, respect human rights, uphold and enforce the rule of law and act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood and co-operation, Parliament, the British Government, the Queen and our armed forces have violated every one of these agreements and committed the world's worst crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and a crime against peace.

The invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq and the massacre of the Iraqi people is the worst atrocity by a British Government in history and it must be ended now. Although the primary responsibility for the war and these heinous crimes lies with our political, civil and military leaders, every citizen and resident of Britain bears a share of the blame. Not only have we elected and re-elected politicians to their positions of power, accepted their lies and assurances, condoned and supported their decisions, but by continuing to pay our taxes we provided the government with the financial means to pay, train and arm the troops to murder maim and massacre thousands of totally innocent men, women and children. By aiding and abetting the horrific conduct of our leaders British citizens became accessories to genocide and a crime against humanity as well as complicit in a crime against peace, the world's worst criminal offence and the same crime for which Germany's leaders were convicted and hanged at Nuremburg in 1946.

Britain's political, civil and military leaders have been allowed to get away with their war crimes for too long; they must be stopped now before they murder and maim further innocent children. The time has come for the people of Britain and Europe to take a firm stand against Britain's Parliament and Government, remove these murderers from their positions of power, end the killing, recall the armed forces, expose the lies, uphold the international laws of war, prosecute war criminals, rejuvenate our system of government and regain our sense of humanity

The Death Toll

Every time Big Ben tolls the hour let it act as a reminder of the thirty innocent men, women and children murdered by members of Parliament during the past hour. Over 1,000,000 Iraqis have been murdered by order of the British and American Governments since March 2003. Of these victims 300,000 were children. This is equivalent to a public execution of 30 innocent men, women and children every hour of every day for four years. In law this massacre of innocent Iraqis constitutes genocide.

Not one of the victims attacked Britain or our allies; not one had committed a crime or a capital offence; not one was allowed to argue their right to life in a court of law and not one was shown any mercy before being murdered by order of George Bush, Tony Blair, the Queen, Ministers, Parliament, Congress and the US and UK Governments. Whenever you hear Big Ben tolling the hour let it be a reminder of Britain's part in the massacre of innocent Iraqis and the destruction of the world's oldest civilisation. Let it provide an hourly reminder to Ministers and Members of both Houses of Parliament of their personal culpability for the genocide of the Iraqi people. Any one of them can force the government to halt its crimes at any time. That they fail to do so and continue to support the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq confirms their criminal intent.

Let the tolling of Big Ben remind the people of Britain that we gave binding undertakings to the world that we would never wage a war of aggressioni, never use armed force to threaten or attack another Stateii, never kill or harm civiliansiii, settle all international disputes peacefullyiv, respect human rightsv, uphold and enforce the rule of lawvi and act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood and co-operationvii.

Let it remind us that our elected representatives have violated every one of these solemn promises over the past four years and by waging a war of aggression have committed the world's worst crimeviii, a crime against peace; the same crime for which Germany's leaders were convicted and hanged at Nuremburg in 1946.

Let the tolling of Big Ben remind us that the Prime Minister lied to Parliament and the nation over weapons of mass destruction, over UN Security Council authorisation and over the legality of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Let it remind us that nothing about the war with Iraq is legal and that the mass murder of innocent human beings is the worst crime known to mankind.

Take a stand for peace, justice and the rule of law

Let the tolling of Big Ben remind members of the armed forces that they have a legal duty to disobey illegal ordersix and that their participation in the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan and the murders of Iraqi and Afghani citizens constitutes the criminal offences of .genocide. and .conduct ancillary to genocide. under both domestic criminal [sections 51 and 52 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001] and international criminal law [Article 25 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court]

Let the tolling of Big Ben remind MPs and Peers that in taking their seats in Parliament they take on the duty to uphold and enforce the laws against war on behalf of the people of Britain. Let it remind them that the only time that war and the use of armed force is lawful is in defence of the state when it is under attack and by assenting to the use of cruise missiles, rockets, cluster bombs and depleted uranium shells against villages, towns and cities in Iraq they are personally responsible for the resultant deaths and injuries and personally responsible for explaining to the families of their victims why they had to die and what cause is so important that it overrides the right to life.

Let the tolling of Big Ben remind each of us that although our leaders bear the main responsibility for these crimes, as citizens of a democracy we share responsibility for the crimes of our government. Let it remind us that it is our taxes that make mass murder possible, that it is our money that pays for the weapons of mass destruction used to kill innocent children, and it is our funds that pay to train and equip our armed forces to take part in mass murder, genocide and crimes against humanity.

So whenever you hear Big Ben tolling the hour let it be a reminder of our moral and legal duty to take a stand for peace, justice and the rule of law. We are duty bound to stop repeating our leaders. lies, to stop supporting the armed forces who commit the crimes, to stop paying the taxes that pay for the murder of children, to withdraw co-operation from our Government and stop Parliament from supporting genocide of the Iraqi people.

"I deeply believe that no individual can experience true happiness or tranquillity until we turn humankind away from its obsession with war. War has held us in its irrevocable grip throughout history; it is the source of all evil. War normalises insanity, destroying human beings like so many insects, tearing all that is human and humane to shreds."

Daisaku Ikeda Buddhist leader


Take a stand! Join the peace strike

i The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War 1928 [The Kellogg-Briand Pact].
ii The United Nations Charter 1945.
iii The Geneva Conventions 1948, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 1998.
iv The Kellogg-Briand Pact 1928, the UN Charter 1945.
v The UN Charter 1945, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.
vi The UN Charter 1945, the Rome Statute 1998.
vii The UN Charter 1945.
viii The Nuremburg Principles 1950.
ix Article 25 The Manual of Military Law.
 

Where is the justice?

" ... what is, these days, the difference between a former British Prime Minister and a reckless lunatic peddling global terrorism? As it turns out, about £40m, over five years, from an assortment of wholly undemocratic corporate interests. Tony is being paid off.

You may have read or heard this elsewhere. You may even have asked yourself why laws do not exist to deal with "this sort of thing". You may then have deplored this week's nonentity Tory claiming allowances on behalf of his absent student sprogs. The best way this topic can be described, nevertheless, is that Blair has begun to make even Bill Clinton's dealings look like chicken-feed. In my book, that's conspicuous. And all of it is legal.
I thought the Blairs were broke. I could not, being a simpleton, work out how all those vast debts could be made to resemble a mere parody of a simple household budget. I also had the deluded notion that even the core Blairites would never be quite so squalid, quite so grasping, quite so blatant. As I may have confessed previously: stupid. Thick.
[ ... ]
So we happy campers just press on. It is no small thing, as Mr Brown has yet to appreciate, to continue to accuse the august former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of war crimes, and of self-enrichment. You had best imagine yourself capable of proving it, most days.
I'll do it, though, if no-one else can be bothered. Two very small reasons: it happens to be true, and because, in fact, we cannot lecture anyone in any part of the world until we part Blair from his corporate money, and render his selfish carcass to some form of justice. I am, actually, serious. ... "




 

Τhe Nuremberg Principles

Principle I

Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.

Principle II

The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.

Principle III

The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

Principle IV

The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Principle V

Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

Principle Vl

The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under; international law:

a. Crimes against peace:

i. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

ii. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

b. War crimes:

Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or illtreatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

c. Crimes against humanity:

Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

Principle VII

Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principles VI is a crime under international law

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2012: 'Oddly enough, it's a Western preoccupation'

" ... Dozens of new books predict the end of the world or something just short of it on Dec. 21, 2012, now less than five years away.

At the root of the hype is a rare galactic alignment and a broadly interpreted end of the ancient Mayan calendar. Some interpretations: It's the grand finale. A signal to aliens. The start of a transition for better or worse. Or nothing at all.

Oddly enough, it's a Western preoccupation.

David Carey visits Guatemala, home to millions of modern Mayans, for field work every other year. Mayans he's met aren't preparing for the end.

"I hear much more about it here than I do there," said Carey, a University of Southern Maine history professor.

"When they're amongst themselves, they're not looking at it quite as seriously as they might otherwise convey to tourists who want to hear them talk about 2012 as this propitious date."

Nonetheless, his prediction: "It could be the end of the world for certain individuals who plan on it."

So what's this all about?

About 2,000 years ago, the Maya, skilled stargazers, figured out when the December solstice sun would line up with the center of the Milky Way galaxy, according to Colorado author John Major Jenkins. It's an alignment that only happens every 26,000 years.

Mayans took that date - Dec. 21, 2012 - and used it as the end of their Long Count calendar, a measure of 5,125 years.

It was intended to be very important. The ends of cycles of all different lengths have significance for that culture.

"Among the Maya there was worry that when the end of a particular cycle would happen, that the world could potentially end because it was a time of a lot of transition. If something major was likely to happen, then it could conceivably happen" then, said Steve Whittington, former director of the University of Maine's Hudson Museum.

There would be ceremonies and often sacrifices to make sure things went smoothly. Any bad happenings were often self-fulfilling, he said. For instance, nervous that you might be attacked, you might do something that triggered it.

At the end of a major cycle like the Long Count calendar, "They'd really be nervous. But what's happened is New Age people and people who are looking for more mystical things in their own lives who belong to our own society have taken on this idea of the danger of the end of a Maya cycle.

"The fact that they know at some point Maya civilization collapsed, there's a lot of mystery surrounding that. I think they've sort of projected their own need for something strange and dangerous onto somebody else's calendar," Whittington said. ... "

~ From Weird, Wicked Weird: The end of the world as we know it? ~

 

Monk's words stir the spirit of Myanmar's resistance

" ... On a recent night, a few thousand people filled a street in Yangon,
Myanmar's largest city, sitting quietly as they waited for the monk to
arrive.

When he emerged from his SUV, people bowed their heads to the ground as he
made his way to a stage, where he sat cross-legged on a gilded chair as big
as a throne.

In large public gatherings such as these, when the generals' spies lurk in
the audience and listen for any hint of trouble, his lectures are often
built around the same lesson: Cruel rulers create bad karma. And they will
suffer for what they have done.

That's a moral not easily shrugged off by a government whose leader, Senior
Gen. Than Shwe, is intensely superstitious: He consults astrologers to make
important decisions.

The ruling generals also churn out propaganda images portraying themselves
as devoted Buddhists, receiving the blessing of sympathetic monks. If their
faith is true, they know their actions will determine their next life in
reincarnation's endless cycle of death and rebirth.

"They have to be afraid they'll be coming back as cockroaches," wisecracked
one Western envoy.
 
[ ... ]
 
Novices return to normal life with a profound respect for monks who were
their teachers. When thousands joined protest marches last fall, their
chants gave comfort to people who had known them since childhood.

"All of the monks who came out of the monasteries into the streets only
recited verses from the teachings of the Buddha," Kondala said. "The people
are suffering, they are getting poorer and poorer, so the monks wanted to
protect them against any danger."

Nyanissara said the region surrounding Sagaing is now home to one out of
every 10 of Myanmar's 400,000 monks, robed legions that listen carefully to
his lectures to see the right path ahead.

"It's a very big army," the monk said, and he laughed a little. But he
wasn't smiling. ... "
 
 

'One Bush Left Behind' by Greg Palast

" ... Here’s your question, class:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, “In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.”

So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?

-George Bush’s alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy, tells us their annual tuition is $37,200. The $20 “Pell Grant for Kids,” as the White House calls it, will buy a poor kid about 35 minutes of this educational dream. So they’ll have to wake up quickly.

-$20 won’t cover the cost of the final book in the Harry Potter series.

If you can’t buy a book nor pay tuition with a sawbuck, what exactly can a poor kid buy with $20 in urban America? The Palast Investigative Team donned baseball caps and big pants and discovered we could obtain what local citizens call a “rock” of crack cocaine. For $20, we were guaranteed we could fulfill any kid’s dream for at least 15 minutes.

Now we could see the incontrovertible logic in what appeared to be quixotic ravings by the President about free trade with Colombia, Pell Grant for Kids and the surge in Iraq. In Iraq, General Petraeus tells us we must continue to feed in troops for another ten years. There is no way the military can recruit these freedom fighters unless our lower income youth are high, hooked and desperate. Don’t say, ‘crack vials,’ they’re, ‘Democracy Rocks’!

The plan would have been clearer if Mr. Bush had kept in his speech the line from his original draft which read, “I have ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq this year – and I am proud to say my military-age kids are not among them.”

Of course, there’s an effective alternative to Mr. Bush’s plan – which won’t cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Let’s give each millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.

And, there’s an added benefit to this alternative. Had we turned Mr. Bush and his plan upside down, he could have spoken to Congress from his heart. ... "

~ Full article ~

 

 

Vermont town's anti-Bush petition elicits vitriol after making the rounds on the Internet

A Vermont town's petition making President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney subject to arrest for crimes against the Constitution has triggered a barrage of criticism from people who say residents are "wackjobs" and "nuts".
In e-mail messages, voice mail messages and telephone calls, outraged people are calling Brattleboro's measure the equivalent of treason and vowing never to visit the state.
"Has everyone up there been out in the cold too long?" said one.
"I would like to know how I could get some water from your town," said another. «It's obvious that there is something special in it.
The petition -- with more than 436 signatures, or at least the 5 percent of voters necessary to be considered -- was submitted Thursday and the town Select Board voted 3-2 Friday to put it on the ballot. It goes to a town-wide vote March 4.
It reads: «Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities and shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and prosecute or extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them.
News of the measure made the rounds on the Internet, and soon people started calling and writing. The Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce got about 60 e-mails Monday, all of them negative, said Executive Director Jerry Goldberg.
A day later, he said, "We had three or four calls in a row that were very positive. One even volunteered to help".
The petition has no legal standing, since the town attorney has no authority to write an indictment and the police have no authority to arrest Bush or Cheney if either visits Brattleboro.
Anger at the Bush administration is hardly new in liberal Vermont. The state Senate voted last year to support impeaching the president. Anti-war rallies are regular occurrences, and "Impeach Bush" bumper stickers are common.
The petition prompted Brent Caflisch to go to his computer in Rosemount, Minnesota. "Maybe the terrorists will do us all a favor and attack your town next, our country would be much safer with several thousand dead wackjobs in Vermont," he wrote.
It went on to say terrorists could kidnap the three Select Board members who voted in favor, "cut their heads off, video tape it and put it on the internet.
Caflisch, who confirmed sending the e-mail, said Tuesday he did it out of disgust after reading about the measure on the online Drudge Report.
A few messages were positive (``Arrest Bush and Cheney? You go, Brattleboro!" wrote one man) but most were critical.
"Be American, not a sniffeling liberal town that sleeps under the shield of safety provided to you by your President," said another e-mail. "Vacation to VT CANCELLED"
The reaction caught town officials off guard, and left some workers on edge.
"We have some concerns about safety," said Town Clerk Annette Cappy. "After reading some of these e-mails, you can't help it".
Acting Police Chief Eugene Wrinn said any threats would be taken seriously and possibly prosecuted. So far, no threats have been made, he said.
"If someone is concerned for their safety, if there's a threat of harm, we will look at that seriously," he said.
Resident Kurt Daims, who submitted the petition, said late Tuesday he was chagrined that the town and its employees were subject to ridicule.
"I feel bad for people who are loyal to Bush who have lost a son or had one in the service and it's hard for them to admit the utter waste of it, and that it was caused by this man in the White House," he said.
On the Net
www.brattleboro.org
 

Hoax behind The DaVinci Code

Cudos to The Busybody. The sole debunker in a tv documentary was Tony Robinson (who appeared as 'Baldrick' in the 'Black Adder' series). It appears the revelation of a hoax in a sequel to 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' failed to deter both its authors and subsequent generations of fans from persisting with this intruiging fantasy.

From 'Top 20 Literary Hoaxes'
9. Pedigree of the Merovingian dynasty, recorded by Godfrey de Boullion in the 11th century. Fabricated by Pierre Plantard in the 1960s, along with other forged manuscripts relating to the "Priory of Sion", all of which were placed in the Paris National Library between 1965-1967. Discredited in the 1980s. Thoroughly debunked in a 1996 BBC documentary. This hoax has had lasting influence in the conspiracy theory promoted in Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which in turn was used as a basis for the blockbuster novel, The DaVinci Code.

promoting "faith-based investing through dharmic religion."

" ... The global trend towards socially responsible investing has gone religious in India, with Dow Jones Indexes and its US-based partner investment firm Dharma Investments Ltd launching the Dow Jones Dharma India Index in Mumbai on January 15, the first major faith-based investment product in South Asia.

The Dharma India index is the latest addition to the 130,000 stock indexes Dow Jones publishes globally, including the US, Britain and Japan versions of The Dow Jones Dharma Index.

The Dharma India Index, with 250 Indian companies, features stocks compliant with the code of moral conduct according to Hinduism, teachings of the Buddha and which also incorporate principles of the Sikh and Jain religious tenets - together, ways of life with billions of followers in Asia and forming nearly 20% of the human race.

The index license is sold to asset managers and others wishing to commercially use the Dow Jones Indexes information to market investment products or for publication in the media, such as television and the Internet.

According to a Dow Jones presentation in Mumbai, socially responsible investing (SRI), including faith-based investing, accounts for US$4 trillion worth of assets under management, a figure growing 20% annually.
 
[ ... ]

The launch of Dow Jones Dharma Indexes comes as stocks compliant with the Islamic code of conduct, or sharia, are attracting more attention worldwide, with the Islamic investment market estimated between $400 billion to $500 billion.

The 51 Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes, the world's first faith-based ethical investment products, made their debut in 1999, with input from an independent advisory Sharia Supervisory Board with a member each from from Syria, Pakistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Malaysia.

Data available from the Dow Jones Indexes website says the DJ Dharma India Index of 250 companies has a total market capitalization $919 billion, compared with $1.6 trillion among 415 companies in the Dow Jones Dharma Japan Index.

The DJ Dharma US Index features 1,065 companies with a total $5.3 trillion in market capitalization. The full list of companies in the Dharma Indexes is made available only to their licensees, which denies an independent chance to verify how accurate their filtering mechanisms are.

For instance, the Indian companies Dow Jones gave out as examples in their Dharma India Index - ICICI Bank Ltd, Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Infosys Technologies Ltd, Housing Development Finance Corp and Bharti Airtel Ltd - did not include any units of the $70.3 billion Tata Group, India's most respected corporate house, India's largest corporate taxpayer and among the world's most socially responsible companies.

Philanthropic trusts own about 66% equity capital of Tata Sons, the primary promoter, making Tata Group possibly the largest corporate group of its kind in the world where the majority shareholder is Messrs Compassion and Charity.

"Until now, faith-based investing has been restricted to Islamic and Christian religions only," Nitesh Gor, chief executive of Dharma Investments, told the media. "But 20% of the world population consists of dharmic religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. The idea [of the Dow Jones Dharma Indexes] is to promote faith-based investing through dharmic religion." ... "
 

'How much more of the world's artifacts do we need?'

" ... In old lhasa, holy city of Tibet, stands the sacred Jokhang Temple. Inside Jokhang is a golden statue of Buddha, the most revered statue in Tibet. It was brought as a dowry from China in the 7th century, when a Chinese princess married a Tibetan king. The statue marks not only the wide-scale introduction of Buddhism to Tibet but a crucial union in a long history of alliances and wars between two nations.

Pilgrims by the thousands arrive daily in Lhasa, masses of them walking in the same sacred direction around Jokhang. The fact that the statue is still there to worship is a surprise. Tibet, like so many places, has been scraped out like a gourd, its antiquities smuggled away.

There are plenty of buyers, and most of them are not in Lhasa. The biggest sellers of Asian artwork in Japan, Europe and the U.S. have dealers handle all the logistics, ushering artifacts through customs so collectors don't have to.

Last week, federal agents raided four Southern California museums, seeking artifacts and records linked to the owner of the Silk Roads Gallery in Los Angeles and to an alleged art smuggler. The gallery has been a favorite of celebrities and discerning nabobs, offering a large selection of Ming and Qing dynasty Buddhist statuary as well as pieces from across East Asia, including Tibet. ... "
 
 

Italy reported for crimes against humanity

" ... In a matter of weeks (on February 20th) the Italian Government will have to appear before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). A result EveryOne Group - in collaboration with ERCC (European Roma Rights Centre), La Voix des Rroms, Sucar Drom, Osservazione and other international organizations who are fighting for the rights of the Rroma and Sinti people - obtained after the presentation of the international denunciation for crimes against humanity which accused the Italian central and local authorities of carrying out persecutory measures against the Rroma in Italy.
Yesterday our request was formally accepted, by the International Criminal Court of the Hague too, which has assured us, in a letter addressed to the leaders of EveryOne, the first signees of the document, that it will give the case its maximum attention when assessing it.

CERD will have to ascertain the violations of articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.” Italy, in fact, is accused of carrying out a series of measures, both on a national level and on a local level, aimed at hitting the Rrom and Sinti communities on Italian territory - from the 14 security packages to the emergency expulsion decree for EU citizens put forward by Giuliano Amato. The International Criminal Court of the Hague will evaluate the actions carried out by the Italian institutions against the Rroma to determine whether – and to what extent – any crimes against humanity were committed. In the document drawn up by EveryOne Group, which is being examined by the international committees for the protection of human rights, we read: The oppression of the gypsies is taking place in many forms: by denying them the right to be protected as an ethnic minority recognised by international conventions, and by denying them assistance and programmes of integration necessary for obtaining access to the world of labour and decent living conditions. Gypsies are also being persecuted in the only activities which – in the conditions of marginalization they are relegated to – would allow them to survive, such as begging and street peddling (thus pushing them to activities which, if they were a free choice, would be considered unlawful). There have been frequent press campaigns carried out with the aim of criminalizing gypsies [...]; The government has carried out camp clearances similar to pogroms that are razing their makeshift shelters to the ground and turning innocent families out into the street, families who are then forced to undertake tragic “death marches” towards nowhere. The authorities have failed to investigate racial attacks against individuals and Roma families, and has violated the laws that guarantee free movement of citizens of the Union in the territory of the Member States, [...] There has also been an attempt to censor and ignore the laws that protect the gypsies in Italy, among which the Resolution of the European Parliament of November 15th, 2007 regarding the application of Directive 2004/38/CE [...]

The document then analyses the security package passed on December 28th, 2007 – with particular reference to the unlawfulness of the law that foresees expulsion from the country for EU citizens who have no means of supporting themselves (in obvious contrast with the European Parliamentary Directive 2004/38/CE) - the lowering of the average life expectancy for a Rrom to 42, the unmotivated harshness of the authorities and police force during the camp clearances and expulsions. The document then quotes the Italian Constitution, the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of peoples, the charters that protect the rights of ethnic minorities (among which the Copenhagen Convention of 1993) and the United Nations Resolutions (particularly the UN Resolution 1992/65, “Protection of the Sinti and Rroma peoples, art 1) and the European Parliament (Resolution 2005/2008/INI). EveryOne Group has detected in the racial and persecutory policies, in the ethnic cleansing and the deportations being carried out by the central and local authorities, evidence of crimes against humanity aggravated by premeditation and reiteration, in spite of the warnings received from the international authorities and the human rights organizations. ... "
 
 

Vermont town to vote on Bush-Cheney war crimes indictment

" ... Residents of a Vermont town will put on its March ballot whether to indict President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for war crimes.

Winning the approval of the Brattleboro Select Board on a 3-2 vote, the meeting will allow town residents to vote on whether or not the president and the vice president should be arrested on charges of war crimes, perjury, or obstruction of justice. A decision to indict them would result in their immediate arrest should they ever set foot in the town. ... "

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