Sunday, January 27, 2008

Woodstock Museum, archivist of Sixties, receives prize and grant

 " ... The Woodstock Museum, which for nearly two decades has sought to preserve the spirit and substance of the Sixties counterculture and the town's identity as its epicenter, has received a prize and accompanying grant that will enable the museum to improve access to its building and pursue plans to expand its space and offerings.

The museum is the recipient of the Manes Peace Prize, which is awarded annually to American individuals or organizations who notably promote peace or contribute to good will. It comes with a grant of $25,000 that Museum officials intend to apply to the construction of a promenade that will make it easier for people with disabilities to visit the distinctive, hexagonal museum building and for art objects to be moved in and out of it.

The museum is located on Bach Road in the town of Saugerties, where its founders, Nathan Koenig and Shelli Lipton, reside. Since its inception in 1989, the museum has presented an annual film and video festival and other events at both the Bach Road site, which includes a 50-seat multimedia center in a separate studio building, and locations such as Town Hall in Woodstock. The 2007 festival featured screenings of performances by Sixties-era fixtures Jefferson Starship and Barry McGuire and Koenig's film of the Dalai Lama's September 2006 visit to Woodstock. Previously screened films also include The Tibetan Book of the Dead, narrated by Leonard Cohen, and The Great Conspiracy, which examines "the use of fear in the war on terrorism." Approximately a thousand people have attended recent festivals, according to the founders.

"We try to educate people about the legacy of the Sixties, through the work of Ginsberg, Dylan, and others," said Koenig. "We want to show that the hippies were right about a lot of things and our generation will resonate through history. We try to keep the vision, as we saw it and see it, alive." ... "

"I’m not pro-life, and I’m not pro-choice. I’m pro-football"

Subversive Rock Humor: The 'Dewussification' of Texas

" ... As a wave of traditional conservatism swept across the nation in the ‘70s —a by-product of President Nixon’s “silent majority” backlash to hippy liberalism—Kinky decided that his band members should all have stage-names guaranteed to irritate the socially sensitive. Little Jewford, Big Nig, Panama Red, Rainbow Colors, and Snakebite Jacobs became the Texas Jewboys. And while his country outlaw compatriots (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard) sought authenticity in earnest songs of romance and adventure, Kinky harnessed his humor and wrote scathing protest songs about prejudice (“We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You”) or against wholesome country values (“Mama, Baby, Mama Let Me Jump in Your Pajamas”).

Initially, listeners were not sure what to make of Kinky. He did not fit comfortably within any genre and his rapier wit had more in common with Frank Zappa than with any country artists. Still, he had a minor hit on the country charts with the title track from his debut album, Sold American (1973), though thereafter mainstream country fans got wise to his wise-ass style and soon left him for more palatable fare. Before the backlash, though, he managed to land a spot on the Grand Ole Opry (the first Jew, he claims), and his performance for Austin City Limits has since become legendary for the fact that, due to Kinky’s “offensive” language, the session was never broadcast.

Before long, Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys were gaining renown for being the thorn in the side of country culture. This endeared the band to other independent spirits like Bob Dylan, who hired them as support act on his mid-‘70s Rolling Thunder tour, and to Saturday Night Live, which, finding a musical kindred spirit, fed them to the nation in 1976. Cast member John Belushi, particularly, remained an active Kinky fan thereafter.

Since their inception in 1971, the band’s fan base had mutated into a hodge-podge collection of unconventional mavericks, spanning Hells Angels bikers, hardened hippies, and down-to-earth country folk. These supporters found refreshing candor in Kinky’s comic offenses and in his libertarian outlook. Some, though, were less than enamored with his harsh delivery and Jew-themed lyrics. Indeed, across the US, the band were often chased off stages by Jews and Gentiles alike that were offended by the “liberties” Kinky took with his freedom of speech.

During the mid-’70s, Kinky wrote most of the comedic songs that have remained the crowd favorites of his live sets. Each is characterized by his disarming Texas directness and subversive pursuits of story-telling. “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” (1974) employs a classic Western bar room brawl scene to play out its good versus evil parable. The song engages two voices/characters: one is a racist “redneck nerd”; the other is Kinky, our Jewish savior of the sagebrush.

The “redneck nerd” throws the first verbal punch, charging, “You just want to doodle a Christian girl and you killed God’s only son.” Loading on the insults into absurd zones, the antagonist-provocateur broadens his invective, saying, “Aristotle Onassis is one Greek we don’t need / And them niggers, Jews and Sigma Nus, all they ever do is breed”. “Well, I hits him with everything I had right square between the eyes”, responds hero Kinky before declaring, “If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s an ethnocentric racist / Now you take back that thing you said ‘bout Aristotle Onassis”. This is humor at once child-like and silly, but also pointed in its incongruity and rousing in its relief.

[ ... ]
When the Jewboys fell apart at the end of the ‘70s, Friedman continued to record new material intermittently, but he mostly turned his sights to a new career as a topical essayist and detective novelist. Inspired by the staccato brevity and macho wit of hard-boiled noir writer, Raymond Chandler, Kinky has made himself his own central character in his novels, and indulges the poetic license that takes his hero self in and out of various dramatic jams. Since 1986, Friedman has put out one or two books a year, under such typically Kinky-esque titles as Elvis, Jesus & Coca-Cola (1993), The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover (1996), Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned (2003), and ’Scuse Me While I Whip This Out (2004).

Recently, Kinky put both his writing and musical career on hold to embark upon a campaign to be Governor of Texas. Using Jesse Ventura’s independent campaign model and Anne Richards’ forthright Texas charm to complement his own sharp-tongued style, he performed as a competitive candidate throughout, ultimately receiving 12.6 percent of the vote in the five-person field. His stated goal of the “dewussification of Texas” and his strategic fence-sitting (“I’m not pro-life, and I’m not pro-choice. I’m pro-football.”) endeared him to the “don’t mess with Texas” libertarian strain of the state’s populace, while enabling him to navigate around the conservative fundamentalists and “good old boys” that control the power structures.

Largely liberal on the issues, Kinky—like Jello Biafra in his ‘80s San Francisco Mayoral campaign—was so freewheeling and down-to-earth with his wit and pithy slogans that he was able to disarm voters of various stripes, appealing to their intrinsic cynicism and distaste for “politicians as usual”. Classic Kinky one-line slogans like “No teacher left behind” spiced up the usually mundane campaign trail, and with Willie Nelson penciled in as future Energy Czar, subversive humor was given free reign as the candidate’s communicative strategy of choice. ... "

~ Full article ~

UK: 'Hidden surveillance camera microphones to be outlawed'

" ... Hidden microphones mounted on CCTV cameras which can eavesdrop on private conversations in the street are set to be outlawed, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, believes that the cameras are a serious breach of civil liberties.
Britain has 4.5million CCTV cameras which capture the average person around 300 times a day.
This week Mr Thomas will launch a new code of practice and declare that no organisation should be able to monitor or store private conversations, claiming that such activities are “highly intrusive”.
Whitehall sources said last night that he has the strong backing of ministers. The ruling is also likely to be hailed by civil liberties campaigners.
A spokesman for Mr Thomas said that the use of cameras to record voices would be allowed only in “extremely special circumstances” such as the detection of crime. ... "

Work in Progress: European Security and Defense Policy - Implications for Transatlantic Cooperation

" ... If NATO is to remain the pillar of transatlantic cooperation, it has to incorporate intelligence and civilian agencies within its structure. Therefore, a new comprehensive agreement on missions, threats and capabilities must be drawn up by the allies. Blaming others for failures to achieve progress in that aspect is counterproductive. Europeans learned their lesson and know the United States will negotiate with the EU on matters related to security only if the EU structures possess capabilities. On the other hand, the ESDP is not the only culprit. The United States has pursued bilateral agreements and building “coalitions of the willing.” The latest example are American plans to deploy ballistic missile defense components in Europe without obtaining approval in NATO structures. That can be explained through justified fears that such discussions might delay or block deployment of the systems due to widespread opposition in major West European countries.

Some view ESDP as a dagger pointed at NATO’s heart. Others view NATO as a tool to impose American interests on Europe. The problems within NATO did not begin with the 2003 intervention in Iraq nor with the establishment of the ESDP. There is a long history of transatlantic disputes which failed to destroy NATO and the ESDP is unlikely to destroy transatlantic relations either. The ESDP is more of an attempt to unite a fundamentally disunited European Union and serve as a conspicuous accomplishment after the chaos into which the EU plunged after its latest expansion and the subsequent fiasco with the European constitution. Furthermore, the leadership changes in major European countries indicate an alteration in the approach toward transatlantic cooperation and NATO.

Unlike his predecessor, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is not hostile to the United States, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not as sympathetic toward the EU integration process and close relations with Russia as was her predecessor. Ultimately, it is the divergent views and struggles within Europe that will prevent comprehensive European agreement on the transformation of transatlantic cooperation. There are no indicators that these divisions will be overcome anytime soon. ... "

~ Full article ~


Calls to end child trafficking in UK

Hundreds of African children are being sold by their parents to become modern day slaves in Britain.

Many are sold while they are still babies to criminal gangs and people traffickers, with their parents hoping they will be able to find a better life out of Africa, The Sunday Telegraph has reported.

However, once the children arrive in Britain, they are used to obtain thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent welfare and housing benefits from the government.

Many aged over seven were also put to work as domestic slaves or in restaurants and shops while others were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, the newspaper said.

Campaigners including the charity End Child Prostitution and Trafficking have called on the British government to take urgent action to stop child slavery in the UK.

"These children are being abused under our noses in our own country," the charity's director Chris Beddoe told the newspaper.

"We need urgent action to identify these children as they enter the UK, find those who are being abused and offer proper protection to those who escape or are freed from their abusers."

The newspaper said that during its undercover investigation one reporter was offered several children for sale by their Nigerian parents, including two three- and five-year-old boys for STG5,000 ($A11,248) and a 10-month-old baby for STG2,000 ($A4,499).

A recent government survey found that 330 children, including 14 aged under 12, had been trafficked to Britain in the past year.

~ Link ~


'Secrets and signs'

" ...  Those obsessed with Freemason conspiracy theories would probably go into orbit after learning that in 2000 the secretive National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) launched a satellite into space whose official mission patch featured a symbol nearly identical to the one on the dollar bill. While this was probably not a Freemason satellite, the “all-seeing eye” was undoubtedly intended to serve the same symbolic function as an observation satellite does in reality. (Ed Comment: To spy? Like the Information Awareness Office, with a "somewhat" similar logo?) More interesting to those obsessed with the NRO is the fact that the patch also features four stars hovering in the sky. Independent observers claimed that the classified satellite launched into orbit was actually the fourth of its type. Four stars. Four satellites.

Military patches and logos—simply the latest examples of heraldry dating back thousands of years—are by definition symbolic, so it is no surprise that they contain symbols. What is surprising is that these symbols often reveal information about the satellites’ identities and missions that are otherwise classified.

It turns out that this hidden symbolism in the patches produced for classified spacecraft launches is far more prevalent than previously believed. Although many official patches for classified missions do not offer any clues to their payloads, there are nearly two dozen mission logos, rocket launch patches, and/or accompanying payload patches that contain hints about the mission of a classified payload. The most common symbolism is a correlation between the number of stars in the patch and the number of satellites of that type launched into orbit over many years. Also common are Latin phrases referring to surveillance or watchfulness. But other features include indications of the satellites’ orbits, their construction, and even their tortured history to get off the ground. Although the first time that the media noticed this symbolism was in 2000, and to date only three examples have been reported in the press, the practice possibly dates as far back as 1977 and includes far more examples than anyone has previously recognized.

Fellowship of the dice
When an Atlas 5 rocket thundered aloft from its launch pad on Florida’s sunny coast on December 10, 2007, reporters knew that the sponsor of the launch—the agency that owned the payload—was the NRO. They also received updates about the launch’s progress right up through four and a half minutes into the flight, when the payload fairing separated. At that point, the Air Force stopped releasing progress reports to prevent disclosure of the spacecraft’s secret mission and orbital parameters. But although the NRO and the Air Force officially replied with a “no comment” to any questions about the payload, there was a glaringly blatant hint plastered on the side of the rocket’s nosecone. A big circular logo was affixed to the side of the payload fairing bearing the constellation name “Scorpius” and a graphical representation of the constellation. This was not that unusual: for nearly a decade now several NRO launches—but not the payloads themselves—have been named for constellations. The important hint was below the constellation.

Below the stars of Scorpio the logo featured an image of the Earth surrounded by three red satellite orbits. One of these circled the Earth at the equator, symbolizing a satellite in geosynchronous orbit, and the other two were in highly-elliptical, highly-inclined orbits, often referred to as HEO or, more traditionally, “Molniya” orbits after the early Soviet Union satellites that pioneered this path around the Earth. Those two types of orbits are occupied by a class of American communications data-relay satellites originally known by the name the Satellite Data System, or SDS, and that one source states was later named Quasar. Also painted on the logo was the Latin phrase Caveo Noster Morsus, which, loosely translated, means “I gather up our little bites”—a perfect description for the SDS mission. ... "

France-India, bilateral talks on armaments and nuclear

New Delhi, India - Sarkozy meets the Indian Prime Minister

(WAPA) - Starting from today the French President Nicolas Sarkozy has started the official visit to India to strengthen the bilateral relationships between in two Countries, and even if there are not important negotiations, they will discuss about the armaments.

Arrived onboard the presidential Airbus aircraft, Sarkozy was received by the Head of State Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the authorities payed homage to the Mahatma Gandhi monument, and later the French President met the Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

India should announce the next offer reserved to the French Defense industrialists for the modernization of 51 Mirage 2000 fighters, a deal worth 1.5 billion Euro.

Another matter to be discussed is the cooperation about civil nuclear: India owns the atomic bomb and rejects the signing of the non proliferation Treaty.

The Indian market of armaments, valued at around 30billion dollars, might be another discussion subject, given the annulment last December of the offer for the supply of 197 helicopters, a tender eventually won by Eurocopter. Currently there is still a tender announced by the government of New Delhi for the purchase of 126 new fighter airplanes. The competitors are: Russian MiG, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, French Dassault Rafale, EADS with the Eurofighter Typhoon and SAAB Gripen.
~ Link ~

Doomsday Men

The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon
By P. D. Smith
Reviewed by Paul Halpern
" ... On Aug. 6, 1945, an atomic blast of unprecedented power instantly flattened the center of Hiroshima, set off a colossal firestorm that destroyed the city's infrastructure, and spewed lethal radioactive material into the environment. Tens of thousands died immediately, and many more tens of thousands perished subsequently from radiation sickness, burns and cancer. With the detonation three days later of a second bomb over Nagasaki, World War II ended and the Cold War soon began, ushering in an age of fear and distrust. Reflecting these anxieties, apocalyptic themes pervaded the books and films of the 1950s and 1960s, including Stanley Kubrick's classic black comedy Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.

In Doomsday Men: The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon, British historian of science P.D. Smith masterfully chronicles the literary antecedents and cultural repercussions of the development of nuclear armaments. Smith describes how The World Set Free, a prophetic 1913 novel by H.G. Wells, anticipated the use of atomic weapons dropped aerially over major cities. Wells' prediction that the horrors of global warfare would be followed by blissful universal peace profoundly affected the psyche of Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard. After discovering the chain reaction, joining with Albert Einstein in composing a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt urging the development of the bomb as a hedge against Hitler, and working ardently in the Manhattan Project, Szilard became a leading advocate for the international control of nuclear weaponry. As Smith points out, Szilard's denunciation of the destructive forces he helped unleash mirrored the Wellsian ascension from devastation to utopia.

Just as apocalyptic fiction influenced Szilard, the physicist's own strongly expressed apprehensions inspired further ghastly cultural references. In a 1950 radio program, he envisioned superpowers warding off threats by means of a "doomsday machine," a hydrogen bomb surrounded by a cobalt shell that would blanket the earth with deadly radiation if the bomb ever exploded. The device would be triggered to detonate automatically if the nation that developed it was ever under nuclear attack. Faced with the prospect of Earth becoming uninhabitable, no other country would risk setting off the device. But what if such a conflict occurred anyway? Such is the depressing premise of late 1950s novels such as Nevil Shute's On the Beach and Peter George's Red Alert.

In his 1962 treatise On Thermonuclear War, Herman Kahn of the Rand Corporation dared ponder the unthinkable: life beyond nuclear apocalypse. His detached systematic analysis of various attack strategies and survival scenarios - including grappling with the case of a doomsday machine - shocked many readers and led to much gallows humor.

Kubrick, who had bought the film rights to Red Alert, appeared to blend the aloof perspective of Kahn with the militaristic stance of hard-line anticommunist scientists such as Edward Teller and John von Neumann and the Luftwaffe background of German rocketry pioneer Wernher von Braun in creating one of the most memorable characters in cinematic history. Hilariously portrayed by Peter Sellers, the bizarre, sieg-heiling Dr. Strangelove embodied the fear that in defeating the Axis powers, modern warfare acquired a measure of their madness. In exposing the comic aspects of the arms race, the film offered the hope that the superpowers would end the foolishness before it was too late. ... "

~ Full article ~


Winning the hearts and minds of those watching

" ... The military has got itself into a pickle in Iraq and been given a fright in Afghanistan. But there’s one thing the bods in uniform have done exceptionally well, and it’s the thing you’d imagine they’d be most hopeless at: media management. When was the last time you saw a mildly critical or even questioning story about the armed services? Now think back to the relentless press over Northern Ireland, the investigations into shoot-to-kill and military excess; and, if you’re old enough, remember the sceptical coverage of Aden, Malaya and Cyprus, not to mention the military idiocy and belligerence during the cold war. But something happened during the Balkans, and the camouflaged guys have managed to make-believe that they fight wars without any responsibility for them. The army has brilliantly cast itself only as victor or victim.

The arguments about the politics go on, despite the military. The reasons for this, of course, are access and danger: journalists have to be embedded, and for them to go to the front line in Afghanistan or Iraq without the protection of the military would be bonkers and, more important to most newspapers and television channels, far too expensive. Get too close to soldiers and you lose your even-handedness; you identify with them. So, military news on television is limited to shaky phone video taken by amateurs or junior reporters in flak jackets, paraphrasing military press releases from the roof of an international hotel, out of harm’s way. Then there are the reality shows that look at a regiment with an invariably adoring, sentimental eye; in truth, it’s difficult not to like soldiers when they’re on your side. Finally, there are the first-person diaries, such as Chris Terrill’s recent paean to the marines and Ross Kemp in Afghanistan (Monday, Sky One), about his trip there with his local East Anglian regiment, the Vikings, an unfortunate nickname.

Kemp has been one of the great surprises of popular documentaries. Who would have thought this soap actor would turn in the most watchable and exciting documentaries of the past year, winning a Bafta from a list of nominees that included David Attenborough? Dozens of actors try a bit of presenting, imagining it’s all eyes and teeth and hitting your mark. What makes Kemp so good on gangs, and soldiers, is the stuff the snobbish Soho Tristrams sneer at him for. He talks haltingly, his observations are broad-brush and not particularly cute, but he has masses of intense empathy and a dogged inquisitiveness that borders on bravery, and he says what most of us would say if we were there.

Aside from all the excitement of this well shot and edited film of Afghanistan, the bits that stood out were the conversations with ordinary soldiers and their families. They talk to Kemp in a way they don’t to professional reporters or documentary-makers because, I suppose, they know he’s like them, and they like him. There is nobody else doing what Kemp does. He’s not what executives look for when they want a bit of working-class rough diamond; he’s the wrong sort of stereotype, and all the better for it. We are still, though, desperately short on reporting from our nasty little wars, and the military is dead lucky that the other side are rubbish at media handling. Sawing the heads off journalists with bread knives isn’t the way to get a favourable feature in a magazine or an hour’s prewatershed reality show. ... "

~ Full article ~


How the Markets Really Work

Welcome to America...You're Under Arrest

It was about five years ago. I was returning from Pakistan and standing in the immigration line at JFK, completely exhausted after a 20-hour flight. When my turn came up at the counter, the INS agent looked at my papers, typed a few things into his computer, and then asked me to follow him to a large room at the side of the immigration hall. I was informed that I was being detained. Two agents handcuffed me and led me to another smaller room. When I asked what I had done. They said things like, "Oh, you know what you've done. We know who you are."

“Who am I? What have I done?”

“You should know that better than we do, now shouldn’t you?”

When I asked to contact a lawyer, I was informed that I hadn't yet been admitted to the United States, and so had no legal standing. No lawyer would be called, nor would I be allowed to call anyone else. They took my cuffs off, fingerprinted me (very difficult because of my sweaty palms), recuffed me, and then left me there.

It was at this point that my knees went a little trembly. I had heard many stories of Pakistanis being held for months without charges under the Patriot Act, and now I had visions of Guantanamo in my head, and I became almost dizzy with the adrenaline rush of fear. I thought that I must have been mistaken for someone else, God knows who, and there would be no chance to clear my name. I sat in that room for a few sweat-drenched hours before a couple of INS officers came in with two police officers from the NYPD. The NYPD officers told me that they had a warrant for my arrest. This immediately came as a huge relief to me, because whatever it was they wanted with me, I would rather be held by the NYPD in New York, than in some INS facility. I felt like whatever it was, I would be able to clear it up.

That's when things started to get weird: The NYPD officers addressed me as Mr. Edward Sampson, as in, "Let's go, Sampson." When I protested that I wasn't Edward Sampson, whoever that might be, they told me that fingerprints don't lie, and I had a full 10-finger match as one (wanted) Edward Sampson. They told me to stop lying and just admit that I really was Edward Sampson. The name sounded vaguely familiar but I couldn't quite place it in my exhausted state. The INS guys removed my cuffs and the NYPD officers replaced them with their own. I was then led out for the perp-walk in front of all the other passengers, coming out by the regular path where people wait for their friends and relatives to come out. People whispered to each other rather excitedly when they saw me being led out, held by each arm by one of the officers, wearing handcuffs and a nice suit I had had tailored while in Pakistan...

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'Romneys Selective Ignorance'

" ... The recent attempt by Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to placate American concerns about his church's Christian view bespeaks his selective ignorance about his own church’s history.

Chief among the past woes of Mormons was the persecution complex. The story went that the church had suffered immeasurable harm from Christian persecution for its beliefs.

While it is true that there were some isolated incidents of unfair actions against members by non-Mormons, the overall scene was one of tolerance with a quiet smirk for the absurd claims of church founder Joseph Smith involving angels, golden plates, Book of Mormon and visions of God. Official Church History distorts most events alleged as persecution.

Between the time of the church organization on April 6, 1830 and the extermination order (infra) of Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri in 1838, Smith and his close cohort/conspirator, Sydney Rigdon, had created an unlawful bank in Kirkland, Ohio where they defrauded investors and fled to Missouri when Ohio officials were seeking their arrest. In Missouri, with a large swelling of converts, Smith declared the place at Far West to be the original site of the Garden of Eden and it would be there that the New Zion would be built. He also declared that the church would be the future ruler of Zion and the world both ecclesiastically and civilly.

[ ... ]

In 1844, Smith while a fugitive from justice in Missouri had declared himself a candidate for President of the US. He organized a semi secret group called the Council of the Fifty to bring about one world government but spelled backwards “YFTIF” in a clumsy attempt to conceal it. That group, which is perpetually organized, crowned Smith “King of the Earth”. The same crowning has occurred to each successive church leader to this day with Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon president, as Christ's Vice Regent and Earth King. The Council continues to steer the church in that direction with involvement in the Heritage Foundation, the Bush war machine and international economic schemes raising poverty levels three fold in the past thirty years. Romney is a blood oath committed Priesthood subordinate to Hinckley in all matters!

Associated with that event, Smith ordered the destruction of a newspaper, the Nauvoo Expositor that was about to publish information about Smith's plural sexual relationships in particular with 16 year old Fanny Alger who worked in the Smith household as a maid.

Some time prior to this. Smith had obtained a franchise for establishing a Masonic Lodge. Very quickly he elevated himself to a 33rd degree Mason. He also adapted some of the Masonic Initiation rituals into the Mormon Temple ceremonies and had its icons sewn on special underclothing which had to be worn thereafter by all initiates to the temple ceremony every day and night for the rest of their lives. See: For doing this, the franchise was withdrawn and he angered the Order by his actions in violating its trust and the secrets within it.

Smith was arrested and lodged in the Carthage Jail to await hearings on charges of violation of freedom of the press and the extradition order.

In the evening of June 27th 1844, a mob made up of Masons, some of his own people and antagonists surrounded the jail shooting into it. Having been furnished a hand gun by his close allies, Smith mortally wounded two attackers as they attempted to ascend the staircase. Seeing his brother dead, he leaped out the second story window shouting the Masonic distress cry only to be repeatedly shot at by the mob.

This last event chronicled at least four times in the 38 year life of Smith when he ran afoul of the law. The first was a charge and conviction in New York State of the scam of stone gazing for pay (beforehand) for discovering buried treasure. The second was bank fraud in Ohio. The third was an insurrection in Missouri and the last violating freedom of the press in Nauvoo. Ill.
In the legends of Mormonism, Smith died as a “Martyr” sealing his “Testimony” with his own blood when in fact he died in a furious gun battle attempting further deception at the last moment by using the con of a Masonic distress cry. The cause of Smith's death was anger and fear of those within the mob who saw him and his teachings as a threat to peace, the Constitution and separation of church and state.

A few years later, with Brigham Young at the helm, Mormons left Illinois and traveled west to the Utah Territory where Young set up a colony he called Deseret establishing a theocratic government. Any dissidents attempting to leave the territory were murdered or “disappeared” in the “Back lotting” operation led by Orin Porter Rockwell. No message against the church was allowed to get out of the territory.

Unfortunately for Young, the territory came under the control of the US government as a result of the 1846-47 hostilities with Mexico. The area was then labeled the Utah Territory. Nonetheless, Young ruled with an Iron Fist first as the territorial governor and later in a shadow government as the head of the church.

Nothing was done in the territory without his approval. This included the September 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in which in excess of 120 people age four years and older of the Fancher Party emigrant train en route to California were laid siege to and slaughtered by deception about 20 miles west of Cedar City, Utah. It was supposed this train had persons among it that were responsible for the death of founder Smith and this was an exercise of the Blood Atonement doctrine of the church.

That doctrine says that the blood of Christ can't atone for all sins and that some persons need to have their own blood shed by others for forgiveness. Hence the oft heard phrase about dissidents “He/She should be shot”. This past September, the church after 150 years finally admitted its' complicity in the affair but blamed it on long dead local leaders of the church. ... "

Kucinich: "We already know the State of the Union, it's a lie"

Kucinich to Introduce Impeachment of Bush Before State of the Union January 28

In a brazen show of courage, Congressman Kucinich took to the House Floor yesterday and called Bush and Cheney the liars that they are.

"The President and Vice President lied and 4,000 of our soldiers died. The President and Vice President lied and a million innocent Iraqis died in a war that'll cost us two trillion dollars while people here in the states are losing their jobs, their health care, their homes, their dignity. Lies are weapons of mass destruction. Lies are also an impeachable offence. Monday, January 28th is the State of the Union. We already know the State of the Union, it's a lie."

Kucinich has vowed to Introduce Articles of Impeachment of Bush on the day of the State of the Union January 28.

They stopped Kucinich from speaking the truth into Congressional record- but now it is time for the American people to match Kucinich in strength and courage and show up in numbers at the State of the Union. It is time the end the era of standing ovations for the liar and traitor in chief. We must show Congress that we have had enough and that if they do not Impeach Bush and Cheney, they will answer to the American people.


Putin, the Kremlin power struggle and the $40bn fortune

An unprecedented battle is taking place inside the Kremlin in advance of Vladimir Putin's departure from office, the Guardian has learned, with claims that the president presides over a secret multibillion-dollar fortune.

Rival clans inside the Kremlin are embroiled in a struggle for the control of assets as Putin prepares to transfer power to his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in May, well-placed political observers and other sources have revealed.

At stake are billions of dollars in assets belonging to Russian state-run corporations. Additionally, details of Putin's own personal fortune, reportedly hidden in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, are being discussed for the first time.

The claims over the president's assets surfaced last month when the Russian political expert Stanislav Belkovsky gave an interview to the German newspaper Die Welt. They have since been repeated in the Washington Post and the Moscow Times, with speculation over the fortune appearing on the internet.

Citing sources inside the president's administration, Belkovsky claims that after eight years in power Putin has secretly accumulated more than $40bn (£20bn). The sum would make him Russia's - and Europe's - richest man.

In an interview with the Guardian, Belkovsky repeated his claims that Putin owns vast holdings in three Russian oil and gas companies, concealed behind a "non-transparent network of offshore trusts".

Putin "effectively" controls 37% of the shares of Surgutneftegaz, an oil exploration company and Russia's third biggest oil producer, worth $20bn, he says. He also owns 4.5% of Gazprom, and "at least 75%" of Gunvor, a mysterious Swiss-based oil trader, founded by Gennady Timchenko, a friend of the president's, Belkovsky alleges.

Asked how much Putin was worth, Belkovsky said: "At least $40bn. Maximum we cannot know. I suspect there are some businesses I know nothing about." He added: "It may be more. It may be much more.

~ Read more... ~


Anit-depressant studies swept under the rug

" ... The makers of antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil never published the results of about a third of the drug trials that they conducted to win government approval, misleading doctors and consumers about the drugs’ true effectiveness, a new analysis has found.

In published trials, about 60 percent of people taking the drugs report significant relief from depression, compared with roughly 40 percent of those on placebo pills. But when the less positive, unpublished trials are included, the advantage shrinks: the drugs outperform placebos, but by a modest margin, concludes the new report, which appears Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Previous research had found a similar bias toward reporting positive results for a variety of medications; and many researchers have questioned the reported effectiveness of antidepressants. But the new analysis, reviewing data from 74 trials involving 12 drugs, is the most thorough to date. And it documents a large difference: while 94 percent of the positive studies found their way into print, just 14 percent of those with disappointing or uncertain results did. ... "

~ Read more... ~


FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics

$1 Billion Project to Include Images of Irises and Faces
CLARKSBURG, W. Va. -- The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.

Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.

"Bigger. Faster. Better. That's the bottom line," said Thomas E. Bush III, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which operates the database from its headquarters in the Appalachian foothills.

The increasing use of biometrics for identification is raising questions about the ability of Americans to avoid unwanted scrutiny. It is drawing criticism from those who worry that people's bodies will become de facto national identification cards. Critics say that such government initiatives should not proceed without proof that the technology really can pick a criminal out of a crowd.

The use of biometric data is increasing throughout the government. For the past two years, the Defense Department has been storing in a database images of fingerprints, irises and faces of more than 1.5 million Iraqi and Afghan detainees, Iraqi citizens and foreigners who need access to U.S. military bases. The Pentagon also collects DNA samples from some Iraqi detainees, which are stored separately.

The Department of Homeland Security has been using iris scans at some airports to verify the identity of travelers who have passed background checks and who want to move through lines quickly. The department is also looking to apply iris- and face-recognition techniques to other programs. The DHS already has a database of millions of sets of fingerprints, which includes records collected from U.S. and foreign travelers stopped at borders for criminal violations, from U.S. citizens adopting children overseas, and from visa applicants abroad. There could be multiple records of one person's prints...

~ Read more... ~


Are Your Cell Phone and Laptop Bad for Your Health?

"Most opponents cite not only aesthetics but also concerns over potential health effects of electromagnetic (EM) fields generated by the towers. Once ridiculed as crackpots and Luddites, they're starting to get backup from the scientific community."

More than 1,000,000 Iraqis murdered

In the week in which General Patraeus reports back to US Congress on the impact the recent ‘surge’ is having in Iraq, a new poll reveals that more than 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have been murdered since the invasion took place in 2003.

Previous estimates, most noticeably the one published in the Lancet in October 2006, suggested almost half this number (654,965 deaths).
These findings come from a poll released today by ORB, the British polling agency that has been tracking public opinion in Iraq since 2005. In conjunction with their Iraqi fieldwork agency a representative sample of 1,499 adults aged 18+ answered the following question:-

QHow many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (ie as a result of violence rather than a natural death such as old age)? Please note that I mean those who were actually living under your roof.

None 78%
One 16%
Two 5%
Three 1%
Four or more 0.002%

Given that from the 2005 census there are a total of 4,050,597 households this data suggests a total of 1,220,580 deaths since the invasion in 2003. Calculating the affect from the margin of error we believe that the range is a minimum of 733,158 to a maximum of 1,446,063

Please click on this link if you want a local perspective on these figures - a short interview with our pollster Dr Munqeth Daghir -

Detailed analysis (which is available on our website) indicates that almost one in two households in Baghdad have lost a family member, significantly higher than in any other area of the country. The governorates of Diyala (42%) and Ninewa (35%) were next.

The poll also questioned the surviving relatives on the method in which their loved ones were killed. It reveals that 48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance. This is significant because more often that not it is car bombs and aerial bombardments that make the news – with gunshots rarely in the headlines.

As well as a murder rate that now exceeds the Rwanda genocide from 1994 (800,000 murdered), not only have more than one million been injured but our poll calculates that of the millions of Iraqis that have fled their neighbourhoods, 52% have moved within Iraq but 48% have crossed its borders, with Syria taking the bulk of refugees.

And for those left in Iraq, although 81% may describe the availability of basic groceries such as bread and fresh vegetables as “very/fairly good”, more than one in two (54%) consider them to be “expensive”.
The opinion poll was conducted by ORB and the survey details are as follows:

•Results are based on face-to-face interviews amongst a nationally representative sample of 1,720 adults aged 18+ throughout Iraq (1,499 agreed to answer the question on household deaths)
•The standard margin of error on the sample who answered (1,499) is +2.5%
•The methodology uses multi-stage random probability sampling and covers fifteen of the eighteen governorates within Iraq. For security reasons Karbala and Al Anbar were not included. Irbil was excluded as the authorities refused our field team a permit.
•Interviews conducted August 12th – 19th 2007.
•Full results and data tabulations are available at
•ORB is a full member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules


~ Link ~


An Opportunity for Wall St. in China's Surveillance Boom

" ... Li Runsen, the powerful technology director of China’s ministry of public security, is best known for leading Project Golden Shield, China’s intensive effort to strengthen police control over the Internet.
But last month Mr. Li took an additional title: director for China Security and Surveillance Technology, a fast-growing company that installs and sometimes operates surveillance systems for Chinese police agencies, jails and banks, among other customers. The company has just been approved for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company’s listing and Mr. Li’s membership on its board are just the latest signs of ever-closer ties among Wall Street, surveillance companies and the Chinese government’s security apparatus.

Wall Street analysts now follow the growth of companies that install surveillance systems providing Chinese police stations with 24-hour video feeds from nearby Internet cafes. Hedge fund money from the United States has paid for the development of not just better video cameras, but face-recognition software and even newer behavior-recognition software designed to spot the beginnings of a street protest and notify police.

Now, the ties between China’s surveillance sector and American capital markets are starting to draw Washington’s attention.

Rep. Tom Lantos, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was disturbed by a recent report in The New York Times about the development of surveillance systems in China by another company, China Public Security Technology, which, like China Security and Surveillance, incorporated itself in the United States to make it easier to sell shares to Western investors.

Mr. Lantos called American involvement in the Chinese surveillance industry “an absolutely incredible phenomenon of extreme corporate irresponsibility.” ... "

Lockheed stock and two smoking barrels

"If you think the Iraq War hasn't worked out very well for anyone think again. Defense contractors such as Lockheed are thriving. And no wonder: here's the story of how Lockheed's interests - as opposed to those of the American citizenry - set the course of U.S. policy after 9/11."

Facebook - the CIA conspiracy

Facebook has 20 million users worldwide, is worth billions of dollars and, if internet sources are to be believed, was started by the CIA.

The social networking phenomenon started as a way of American college students to keep in touch. It is rapidly catching up with MySpace, and has left others like Bebo in its wake.

But there is a dark side to the success story that's been spreading across the blogosphere. A complex but riveting Big Brother-type conspiracy theory which links Facebook to the CIA and the US Department of Defence.

The CIA is, though, using a Facebook group to recruit staff for its very sexy sounding National Clandestine Service.

Checking out the job ads does require a Facebook login, so if you haven't joined the site - or are worried that CIA spooks will start following you home from work -check them out on the agency's own site.

The story starts once Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had launched, after the dorm room drama that's led to the current court case.

Facebook's first round of venture capital funding ($US500,000) came from former Paypal CEO Peter Thiel. Author of anti-multicultural tome 'The Diversity Myth', he is also on the board of radical conservative group VanguardPAC.

The second round of funding into Facebook ($US12.7 million) came from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. One of the company's key areas of expertise are in "data mining technologies".

Breyer also served on the board of R&D firm BBN Technologies, which was one of those companies responsible for the rise of the internet.

Dr Anita Jones joined the firm, which included Gilman Louie. She had also served on the In-Q-Tel's board, and had been director of Defence Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defence.

She was also an adviser to the Secretary of Defence and overseeing the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is responsible for high-tech, high-end development.

It was when a journalist lifted the lid on the DARPA's Information Awareness Office that the public began to show concern at its information mining projects.

Wikipedia's IAO page says: "the IAO has the stated mission to gather as much information as possible about everyone, in a centralised location, for easy perusal by the United States government, including (though not limited to) internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver's licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and any other available data.".

Not surprisingly, the backlash from civil libertarians led to a Congressional investigation into DARPA's activity, the Information Awareness Office lost its funding.

Now the internet conspiracy theorists are citing Facebook as the IAO's new mask.

Parts of the IAO's technology round-up included 'human network analysis and behaviour model building engines', which Facebook's massive volume of neatly-targeted data gathering allows for.

Facebook's own Terms of use state: "by posting Member Content to any part of the Web site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, perform, display, reformat, translate, excerpt and distribute such information and content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorpoate into other works, such information and content, and to grant and authorise sublicenses of the foregoing.

And in its equally interesting privacy policy: "Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (eg. photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalised experience. By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States."

Is the CIA really providing the impetus and the funding behind the monster growth of this year's biggest dot com success story? Maybe only the men with the nice suits and ear pieces can answer that.

~ Link ~


'Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles'

" ... The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

About a third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives, among them 2-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis, whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating in Texas from a bombing near Falluja that blew off his foot and shook up his brain.

A quarter of the victims were fellow service members, including Specialist Richard Davis of the Army, who was stabbed repeatedly and then set ablaze, his body hidden in the woods by fellow soldiers a day after they all returned from Iraq. ..."

From: 'War Torn' Part 1


Could Tiny Diatoms Help Offset Global Warming?

" ... Diatoms -- some of which are so tiny that 30 can fit across the width of a human hair -- are so numerous that they are among the key organisms taking the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the Earth's atmosphere.
[ ... ]

Scientists have reported the discovery of whole subsets of genes and proteins that govern how one species of diatom builds its shell. For oceanographers, the work might one day help them understand how thousands of different kinds of diatoms -- and their ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere -- might be affected by something like global climate change. Material scientists involved in the work are interested in the possibilities of manipulating the genes responsible for silica production as a way of fabricating more efficient computer chips.

Diatoms, most of which are far too tiny to see without magnification, are incredibly important in the global carbon cycle, says Thomas Mock, a University of Washington postdoctoral researcher in oceanography and lead author of the paper. During photosynthesis, diatoms turn carbon dioxide into organic carbon and, in the process, generate oxygen. They are responsible for 40 percent of the organic carbon produced in the world's oceans each year. ... "

A Vending Machine Unlike Any Other

Mind Control and Weapons: the Future

Part 2

Part 3


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