Friday, May 2, 2008

Lesbos islanders dispute gay name

Campaigners on the Greek island of Lesbos are to go to court in an attempt to stop a gay rights organisation from using the term "lesbian".

The islanders say that if they are successful they may then start to fight the word lesbian internationally.

The issue boils down to who has the right to call themselves Lesbians.

Is it gay women, or the 100,000 people living on Greece's third biggest island - plus another 250,000 expatriates who originate from Lesbos?

The man spearheading the case, publisher Dimitris Lambrou, claims that international dominance of the word in its sexual context violates the human rights of the islanders, and disgraces them around the world.

He says it causes daily problems to the social life of Lesbos's inhabitants.

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Convicted 'DC Madam' found dead in Florida

The woman dubbed the DC Madam killed herself yesterday, police said, just weeks after she was convicted of running a prostitution ring that catered to highly placed US government officials.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 52, became a tabloid celebrity in the US after her escort ring led to criminal charges and she threatened to reveal the names of the men who patronised her "erotic fantasy" service.

Police yesterday said Palfrey hanged herself at her mother's home in the town of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Her mother, 76, discovered the body in a shed on the property and remained "very distraught", a police spokesman said. Police said there were a number of suicide notes, but did not disclose the contents.

"Handwritten notes were found on scene that describes the victim's intention to take her life, and foul play does not appear to be involved," said Captain Jeffrey Young in a statement.

A jury in Washington convicted Palfrey of money laundering and racketeering last month. Palfrey's lawyer, who represented Monica Lewinsky during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, argued that she marketed legal fantasies and was unaware that her employees sold sex. She was due for sentencing in July and faced a sentence of around five years.

Palfrey caused a storm in Washington when she claimed to have a client list of more than 10,000, including political officials, chief executive officers and other members of the Washington elite.

At one point, she sought to sell her list of telephone numbers to help pay for her looming legal costs. But a judge blocked her from doing so, and ultimately few big fish were caught in the net. Randall Tobias, an ally of George Bush and senior official in the state department, resigned immediately after he surfaced as a Palfrey client. Another, the conservative Republican senator David Vitter, held on to his career after apologising for the "serious sin" of associating with her.

The salacious chapter of US political history that Palfrey's case opened is likely to close after her death.

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Germany to Allow Video Surveillance of Private Homes

Changes proposed to the law governing Germany's federal criminal police operations would allow investigators to use wire taps and surveillance cameras in homes of innocent citizens to keep tabs on terror suspects.

Under the government proposals, federal police would be permitted to install "hidden technical equipment, that is to say bugs or cameras inside or outside apartments ... if there is a pressing danger for state security," interior ministry spokesman Stefan Paris said at a news conference on Friday, April 18.

 

"I would urgently like to stress that there are very, very strict conditions ... and it is not the case that everywhere in this country secret cameras or listening devices will be installed in living spaces," he said. "It is about terrorist threats that would be averted through preventative measures by the federal police."

 

He added that such methods were already allowed in several German states.

 

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National “DNA warehouse” bill passes

Passing the House of Representatives on a voice vote, S. 1858 has been sent to President Bush for signature. The Newborn Genetic Screening bill was passed by the Senate last December. The bill violates the U.S. Constitution and the Nuremberg Code, writes Twila Brase, president of the Citizen's Council on Health Care (CCHC). "The DNA taken at birth from every citizen is essentially owned by the government, and every citizen becomes a potential subject of government-sponsored genetic research," she states. "It does not require consent and there are no requirements to inform parents about the warehousing of their child's DNA for the purpose of genetic research. Already, in Minnesota, the state health department reports that 42,210 children of the 780,000 whose DNA is housed in the Minnesota 'DNA warehouse' have been subjected to genetic research without their parents' knowledge or consent."
 
 

Microsoft Helps Law Enforcement Get Around Encryption

The growing use of encryption software -- like Microsoft's own BitLocker -- by cyber criminals has led Microsoft to develop a set of tools that law enforcement agents can use to get around the software, executives at the company said.

Microsoft first released the toolset, called the Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE), to law enforcement last June and it's now being used by about 2,000 agents around the world, said Anthony Fung, senior regional manager for Asia Pacific in Microsoft's Internet Safety and Anti-Counterfeiting group. Microsoft gives the software to agents for free.

While Microsoft can point to wide usage of COFEE, some experts are skeptical about using that type of tool to recover data, and even the developer of the product at Microsoft acknowledges that it's not accepted by some users.

Fung, who initiated the creation of COFEE, spent 12 years as a police officer in Hong Kong, with the final seven dedicated to fighting cybercrime. When he joined Microsoft, he sought to devise a way that agents could do better at finding valuable information on computers used by cyber criminals.

When he was an officer, the protocol for handling computer crime was to remove a computer from the scene of the crime, taking it back to the lab where computer scientists would search it for information. In many regions of the world this is still the standard procedure. "At that time everybody followed that principle, but they knew that once they unplugged the computer, which was the guideline, a lot of potential information was lost," Fung said.

That's because data on an encrypted system is accessible to police so long as the criminal has logged on and the PC remains on. But if police shut the system down, they need to have the criminal's password to get past the encryption software when the computer boots back up. The release of Vista has accelerated the problem because BitLocker, a data encryption feature, comes with Windows Vista Enterprise and Ultimate versions, Fung said.

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Dockworkers Protest Iraq War

Thousands of dockworkers at West Coast ports stayed off the job on Thursday in what their union said was a call for an end to the war in Iraq.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said more than 25,000 members in 29 ports stayed off the job. The action came despite an order issued Wednesday by an arbitrator directing the union to tell its members to report for work as usual in response to a request from employers.

"Longshore workers are standing down on the job and standing up for America," Bob McEllrath, the union's president, said in a statement. "We're supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it's time to end the war in Iraq."

The scene at most West Coast ports was quiet, without any scuffles or confrontations. The cranes used to unload container ships stood idle and few trucks were lined up outside gates.

~ read on... ~

 

A Wild and Crazy God

 
CA President Dan Rupple began the morning with a comedian's prayer. "Father God, we're just trying to find a middle ground between being humble and being noticed, between being secure and desperately needing the approval and validation of nearly everyone around us." I'd been wondering about this very issue. Any comedian will tell you that great comedy comes from insecurity, self-loathing, and pain, while any Christian will tell you that Jesus helps you know joy and feel truly at peace. This, perhaps more than latent Puritanism, seemed the biggest impediment to Christian comedy.
 
PUNK'D, PURITAN STYLE Comedy group Prank 3:16 convinces a young woman she has missed the rapture and been ... left behind
 

Afghanistan: 'Woman raped, saw son die - then jailed'

A woman who was trafficked across the border from Pakistan with her son, 3, was handed to an Afghan who raped her, then beat the toddler to death as she watched.

He was jailed for 20 years for murder - but the woman, Rukhma, was jailed, too.

She had put up with her mistreatment for three months before going to authorities.

But in December, Rukhma, who doesn't know her age but looks younger than 20, was given a four-year sentence for adultery and "escaping her house" in Pakistan.

The Taliban's fall six years ago heralded new rights for women: to go to school or get a job.

Their rights are now enshrined in the constitution.

But except for a small urban elite, a woman fleeing domestic violence or accusing a man of rape herself often ends up seen as the guilty party.
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The Last Roundup

For decades the federal government has been developing a highly classified plan that would override the Constitution in the event of a terrorist attack. Is it also compiling a secret enemies list of citizens who could face detention under martial law?

By Christopher Ketcham
April 29, 2008

In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president's henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.

The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft's second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush's first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration's various domestic surveillance and spying programs. Much of his testimony centered on an operation so clandestine he wasn't allowed to name it or even describe what it did. He did say, however, that he and Ashcroft had discussed the program in March 2004, trying to decide whether it was legal under federal statutes. Shortly before the certification deadline, Ashcroft fell ill with pancreatitis, making Comey acting attorney general, and Comey opted not to certify the program. When he communicated his decision to the White House, Bush's men told him, in so many words, to take his concerns and stuff them in an undisclosed location.

Comey refused to knuckle under, and the dispute came to a head on the cold night of March 10, 2004, hours before the program's authorization was to expire. At the time, Ashcroft was in intensive care at George Washington Hospital following emergency surgery. Apparently, at the behest of President Bush himself, the White House tried, in Comey's words, "to take advantage of a very sick man," sending Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales on a mission to Ashcroft's sickroom to persuade the heavily doped attorney general to override his deputy. Apprised of their mission, Comey, accompanied by a full security detail, jumped in his car, raced through the streets of the capital, lights blazing, and "literally ran" up the hospital stairs to beat them there.

Minutes later, Gonzales and Card arrived with an envelope filled with the requisite forms. Ashcroft, even in his stupor, did not fall for their heavy-handed ploy. "I'm not the attorney general," Ashcroft told Bush's men. "There"—he pointed weakly to Comey—"is the attorney general." Gonzales and Card were furious, departing without even acknowledging Comey's presence in the room. The following day, the classified domestic spying program that Comey found so disturbing went forward at the demand of the White House—"without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality," he testified.

What was the mysterious program that had so alarmed Comey? Political blogs buzzed for weeks with speculation. Though Comey testified that the program was subsequently readjusted to satisfy his concerns, one can't help wondering whether the unspecified alteration would satisfy constitutional experts, or even average citizens. Faced with push-back from his bosses at the White House, did he simply relent and accept a token concession? Two months after Comey's testimony to Congress, the New York Times reported a tantalizing detail: The program that prompted him "to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases." The larger mystery remained intact, however. "It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate," the article conceded.

Another clue came from a rather unexpected source: President Bush himself. Addressing the nation from the Oval Office in 2005 after the first disclosures of the NSA's warrantless electronic surveillance became public, Bush insisted that the spying program in question was reviewed "every 45 days" as part of planning to assess threats to "the continuity of our government."

Few Americans—professional journalists included—know anything about so-called Continuity of Government (COG) programs, so it's no surprise that the president's passing reference received almost no attention. COG resides in a nebulous legal realm, encompassing national emergency plans that would trigger the takeover of the country by extra-constitutional forces—and effectively suspend the republic. In short, it's a road map for martial law.

While Comey, who left the Department of Justice in 2005, has steadfastly refused to comment further on the matter, a number of former government employees and intelligence sources with independent knowledge of domestic surveillance operations claim the program that caused the flap between Comey and the White House was related to a database of Americans who might be considered potential threats in the event of a national emergency. Sources familiar with the program say that the government's data gathering has been overzealous and probably conducted in violation of federal law and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, "There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived 'enemies of the state' almost instantaneously." He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

Of course, federal law is somewhat vague as to what might constitute a "national emergency." Executive orders issued over the last three decades define it as a "natural disaster, military attack, [or] technological or other emergency," while Department of Defense documents include eventualities like "riots, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions or assemblages, [and] disorder prejudicial to public law and order." According to one news report, even "national opposition to U.S. military invasion abroad" could be a trigger.

Let's imagine a harrowing scenario: coordinated bombings in several American cities culminating in a major blast—say, a suitcase nuke—in New York City. Thousands of civilians are dead. Commerce is paralyzed. A state of emergency is declared by the president. Continuity of Governance plans that were developed during the Cold War and have been aggressively revised since 9/11 go into effect. Surviving government officials are shuttled to protected underground complexes carved into the hills of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Power shifts to a "parallel government" that consists of scores of secretly preselected officials. (As far back as the 1980s, Donald Rumsfeld, then CEO of a pharmaceutical company, and Dick Cheney, then a congressman from Wyoming, were slated to step into key positions during a declared emergency.) The executive branch is the sole and absolute seat of authority, with Congress and the judiciary relegated to advisory roles at best. The country becomes, within a matter of hours, a police state.

Interestingly, plans drawn up during the Reagan administration suggest this parallel government would be ruling under authority given by law to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, home of the same hapless bunch that recently proved themselves unable to distribute water to desperate hurricane victims. The agency's incompetence in tackling natural disasters is less surprising when one considers that, since its inception in the 1970s, much of its focus has been on planning for the survival of the federal government in the wake of a decapitating nuclear strike.

Under law, during a national emergency, FEMA and its parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, would be empowered to seize private and public property, all forms of transport, and all food supplies. The agency could dispatch military commanders to run state and local governments, and it could order the arrest of citizens without a warrant, holding them without trial for as long as the acting government deems necessary. From the comfortable perspective of peaceful times, such behavior by the government may seem farfetched. But it was not so very long ago that FDR ordered 120,000 Japanese-Americans—everyone from infants to the elderly—be held in detention camps for the duration of World War II. This is widely regarded as a shameful moment in U.S. history, a lesson learned. But a long trail of federal documents indicates that the possibility of large-scale detention has never quite been abandoned by federal authorities. Around the time of the 1968 race riots, for instance, a paper drawn up at the U.S. Army War College detailed plans for rounding up millions of "militants" and "American negroes" who were to be held at "assembly centers or relocation camps." In the late 1980s, the Austin American-Statesman and other publications reported the existence of 10 detention camp sites on military facilities nationwide, where hundreds of thousands of people could be held in the event of domestic political upheaval. More such facilities were commissioned in 2006, when Kellogg Brown & Root—then a subsidiary of Halliburton—was handed a $385 million contract to establish "temporary detention and processing capabilities" for the Department of Homeland Security. The contract is short on details, stating only that the facilities would be used for "an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs." Just what those "new programs" might be is not specified.

In the days after our hypothetical terror attack, events might play out like this: With the population gripped by fear and anger, authorities undertake unprecedented actions in the name of public safety. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security begin actively scrutinizing people who—for a tremendously broad set of reasons—have been flagged in Main Core as potential domestic threats. Some of these individuals might receive a letter or a phone call, others a request to register with local authorities. Still others might hear a knock on the door and find police or armed soldiers outside. In some instances, the authorities might just ask a few questions. Other suspects might be arrested and escorted to federal holding facilities, where they could be detained without counsel until the state of emergency is no longer in effect.

It is, of course, appropriate for any government to plan for the worst. But when COG plans are shrouded in extreme secrecy, effectively unregulated by Congress or the courts, and married to an overreaching surveillance state—as seems to be the case with Main Core—even sober observers must weigh whether the protections put in place by the federal government are becoming more dangerous to America than any outside threat.

Another well-informed source—a former military operative regularly briefed by members of the intelligence community—says this particular program has roots going back at least to the 1980s and was set up with help from the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has been told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets' behavior and tracks their circle of associations with "social network analysis" and artificial intelligence modeling tools.

"The more data you have on a particular target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help," he says. "Main Core is the table of contents for all the illegal information that the U.S. government has [compiled] on specific targets." An intelligence expert who has been briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of Homeland Security confirms that a database of this sort exists, but adds that "it is less a mega-database than a way to search numerous other agency databases at the same time."

A host of publicly disclosed programs, sources say, now supply data to Main Core. Most notable are the NSA domestic surveillance programs, initiated in the wake of 9/11, typically referred to in press reports as "warrantless wiretapping." In March, a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal shed further light onto the extraordinarily invasive scope of the NSA efforts: According to the Journal, the government can now electronically monitor "huge volumes of records of domestic e-mails and Internet searches, as well as bank transfers, credit card transactions, travel, and telephone records." Authorities employ "sophisticated software programs" to sift through the data, searching for "suspicious patterns." In effect, the program is a mass catalog of the private lives of Americans. And it's notable that the article hints at the possibility of programs like Main Core. "The [NSA] effort also ties into data from an ad-hoc collection of so-called black programs whose existence is undisclosed," the Journal reported, quoting unnamed officials. "Many of the programs in various agencies began years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach."

The following information seems to be fair game for collection without a warrant: the e-mail addresses you send to and receive from, and the subject lines of those messages; the phone numbers you dial, the numbers that dial in to your line, and the durations of the calls; the Internet sites you visit and the keywords in your Web searches; the destinations of the airline tickets you buy; the amounts and locations of your ATM withdrawals; and the goods and services you purchase on credit cards. All of this information is archived on government supercomputers and, according to sources, also fed into the Main Core database.

Main Core also allegedly draws on four smaller databases that, in turn, cull from federal, state, and local "intelligence" reports; print and broadcast media; financial records; "commercial databases"; and unidentified "private sector entities." Additional information comes from a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, which generates watch lists from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for use by airlines, law enforcement, and border posts. According to the Washington Post, the Terrorist Identities list has quadrupled in size between 2003 and 2007 to include about 435,000 names. The FBI's Terrorist Screening Center border crossing list, which listed 755,000 persons as of fall 2007, grows by 200,000 names a year. A former NSA officer tells Radar that the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, using an electronic-funds transfer surveillance program, also contributes data to Main Core, as does a Pentagon program that was created in 2002 to monitor anti-war protestors and environmental activists such as Greenpeace.

If previous FEMA and FBI lists are any indication, the Main Core database includes dissidents and activists of various stripes, political and tax protestors, lawyers and professors, publishers and journalists, gun owners, illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and a great many other harmless, average people.

A veteran CIA intelligence analyst who maintains active high-level clearances and serves as an advisor to the Department of Defense in the field of emerging technology tells Radar that during the 2004 hospital room drama, James Comey expressed concern over how this secret database was being used "to accumulate otherwise private data on non-targeted U.S. citizens for use at a future time." Though not specifically familiar with the name Main Core, he adds, "What was being requested of Comey for legal approval was exactly what a Main Core story would be." A source regularly briefed by people inside the intelligence community adds: "Comey had discovered that President Bush had authorized NSA to use a highly classified and compartmentalized Continuity of Government database on Americans in computerized searches of its domestic intercepts. [Comey] had concluded that the use of that 'Main Core' database compromised the legality of the overall NSA domestic surveillance project."

If Main Core does exist, says Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counterterrorism officer and an outspoken critic of the agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its likely home. "If a master list is being compiled, it would have to be in a place where there are no legal issues"—the CIA and FBI would be restricted by oversight and accountability laws—"so I suspect it is at DHS, which as far as I know operates with no such restraints." Giraldi notes that DHS already maintains a central list of suspected terrorists and has been freely adding people who pose no reasonable threat to domestic security. "It's clear that DHS has the mandate for controlling and owning master lists. The process is not transparent, and the criteria for getting on the list are not clear." Giraldi continues, "I am certain that the content of such a master list [as Main Core] would not be carefully vetted, and there would be many names on it for many reasons—quite likely, including the two of us."

Would Main Core in fact be legal? According to constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who served as associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan, the question of legality is murky: "In the event of a national emergency, the executive branch simply assumes these powers"—the powers to collect domestic intelligence and draw up detention lists, for example—" if Congress doesn't explicitly prohibit it. It's really up to Congress to put these things to rest, and Congress has not done so." Fein adds that it is virtually impossible to contest the legality of these kinds of data collection and spy programs in court "when there are no criminal prosecutions and [there is] no notice to persons on the president's 'enemies list.' That means if Congress remains invertebrate, the law will be whatever the president says it is—even in secret. He will be the judge on his own powers and invariably rule in his own favor."

The veteran CIA intelligence analyst notes that Comey's suggestion that the offending elements of the program were dropped could be misleading: "Bush [may have gone ahead and] signed it as a National Intelligence Finding anyway."

But even if we never face a national emergency, the mere existence of the database is a matter of concern. "The capacity for future use of this information against the American people is so great as to be virtually unfathomable," the senior government official says.

In any case, mass watch lists of domestic citizens may do nothing to make us safer from terrorism. Jeff Jonas, chief scientist at IBM, a world renowned expert in data mining, contends that such efforts won't prevent terrorist conspiracies. "Because there is so little historical terrorist event data," Jonas tells Radar, "there is not enough volume to create precise predictions."

The overzealous compilation of a domestic watch list is not unique in post-war American history. In 1950, the FBI, under the notoriously paranoid J. Edgar Hoover, began to "accumulate the names, identities, and activities" of suspect American citizens in a rapidly expanding "security index," according to declassified documents. In a letter to the Truman White House, Hoover stated that in the event of certain emergency situations, suspect individuals would be held in detention camps overseen by "the National Military Establishment." By 1960, a congressional investigation later revealed, the FBI list of suspicious persons included "professors, teachers, and educators; labor-union organizers and leaders; writers, lecturers, newsmen, and others in the mass-media field; lawyers, doctors, and scientists; other potentially influential persons on a local or national level; [and] individuals who could potentially furnish financial or material aid" to unnamed "subversive elements." This same FBI "security index" was allegedly maintained and updated into the 1980s, when it was reportedly transferred to the control of none other than FEMA (though the FBI denied this at the time).

FEMA, however—then known as the Federal Preparedness Agency—already had its own domestic surveillance system in place, according to a 1975 investigation by Senator John V. Tunney of California. Tunney, the son of heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney and the inspiration for Robert Redford's character in the film The Candidate, found that the agency maintained electronic dossiers on at least 100,000 Americans, which contained information gleaned from wideranging computerized surveillance. The database was located in the agency's secret underground city at Mount Weather, near the town of Bluemont, Virginia. The senator's findings were confirmed in a 1976 investigation by the Progressive magazine, which found that the Mount Weather computers "can obtain millions of pieces [of] information on the personal lives of American citizens by tapping the data stored at any of the 96 Federal Relocation Centers"—a reference to other classified facilities. According to the Progressive, Mount Weather's databases were run "without any set of stated rules or regulations. Its surveillance program remains secret even from the leaders of the House and the Senate."

Ten years later, a new round of government martial law plans came to light. A report in the Miami Herald contended that Reagan loyalist and Iran-Contra conspirator Colonel Oliver North had spearheaded the development of a "secret contingency plan,"—code named REX 84—which called "for suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the United States over to FEMA, [and the] appointment of military commanders to run
state and local governments." The North plan also reportedly called for the detention of upwards of 400,000 illegal aliens and an undisclosed number of American citizens in at least 10 military facilities maintained as potential holding camps.

North's program was so sensitive in nature that when Texas Congressman Jack Brooks attempted to question North about it during the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings, he was rebuffed even by his fellow legislators. "I read in Miami papers and several others that there had been a plan by that same agency [FEMA] that would suspend the American Constitution," Brooks said. "I was deeply concerned about that and wondered if that was the area in which he [North] had worked." Senator Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Iran, immediately cut off his colleague, saying, "That question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area, so may I request that you not touch upon that, sir." Though Brooks pushed for an answer, the line of questioning was not allowed to proceed.

Wired magazine turned up additional damaging information, revealing in 1993 that North, operating from a secure White House site, allegedly employed a software database program called PROMIS (ostensibly as part of the REX 84 plan). PROMIS, which has a strange and controversial history, was designed to track individuals—prisoners, for example—by pulling together information from disparate databases into a single record. According to Wired, "Using the computers in his command center, North tracked dissidents and potential troublemakers within the United States. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon's enemies list or Senator Joe McCarthy's blacklist looks downright crude." Sources have suggested to Radar that government databases tracking Americans today, including Main Core, could still have PROMIS based legacy code from the days when North was running his programs.

In the wake of 9/11, domestic surveillance programs of all sorts expanded dramatically. As one well-placed source in the intelligence community puts it, "The gloves seemed to come off." What is not yet clear is what sort of still-undisclosed programs may have been authorized by the Bush White House. Marty Lederman, a high-level official at the Department of Justice under Clinton, writing on a law blog last year, wondered, "How extreme were the programs they implemented [after 9/11]? How egregious was the lawbreaking?" Congress has tried, and mostly failed, to find out.

In July 2007 and again last August, Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon and a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, sought access to the "classified annexes" of the Bush administration's Continuity of Government program. DeFazio's interest was prompted by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 (also known as NSPD-51), issued in May 2007, which reserves for the executive branch the sole authority to decide what constitutes a national emergency and to determine when the emergency is over. DeFazio found this unnerving.

But he and other leaders of the Homeland Security Committee, including Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, were denied a review of the Continuity of Government classified annexes. To this day, their calls for disclosure have been ignored by the White House. In a press release issued last August, DeFazio went public with his concerns that the NSPD-51 Continuity of Government plans are "extra-constitutional or unconstitutional." Around the same time, he told the Oregonian, "Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right."

Congress itself has recently widened the path for both extra-constitutional detentions by the White House and the domestic use of military force during a national emergency. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 effectively suspended habeas corpus and freed up the executive branch to designate any American citizen an "enemy combatant" forfeiting all privileges accorded under the Bill of Rights. The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act, also passed in 2006, included a last-minute rider titled "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," which allowed the deployment of U.S. military units not just to put down domestic insurrections—as permitted under posse comitatus and the Insurrection Act of 1807—but also to deal with a wide range of calamities, including "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack, or incident."

More troubling, in 2002, Congress authorized funding for the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, which, according to Washington Post military intelligence
expert William Arkin, "allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control."

"We are at the edge of a cliff and we're about to fall off," says constitutional lawyer and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein. "To a national emergency planner, everybody looks like a danger to stability. There's no doubt that Congress would have the authority to denounce all this—for example, to refuse to appropriate money for the preparation of a list of U.S. citizens to be detained in the event of martial law. But Congress is the invertebrate branch. They say, 'We have to be cautious.' The same old crap you associate with cowards. None of this will change under a Democratic administration, unless you have exceptional statesmanship and the courage to stand up and say, 'You know, democracies accept certain risks that tyrannies do not.' "

As of this writing, DeFazio, Thompson, and the other 433 members of the House are debating the so-called Protect America Act, after a similar bill passed in the Senate. Despite its name, the act offers no protection for U.S. citizens; instead, it would immunize from litigation U.S. telecom giants for colluding with the government in the surveillance of Americans to feed the hungry maw of databases like Main Core. The Protect America Act would legalize programs that appear to be unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the mystery of James Comey's testimony has disappeared in the morass of election year coverage. None of the leading presidential candidates have been asked the questions that are so profoundly pertinent to the future of the country: As president, will you continue aggressive domestic surveillance programs in the vein of the Bush administration? Will you release the COG blueprints that Representatives DeFazio and Thompson were not allowed to read? What does it suggest about the state of the nation that the U.S. is now ranked by worldwide civil liberties groups as an "endemic surveillance society," alongside repressive regimes such as China and Russia? How can a democracy thrive with a massive apparatus of spying technology deployed against every act of political expression, private or public? (Radar put these questions to spokespeople for the McCain, Obama, and Clinton campaigns, but at press time had yet to receive any responses.)

These days, it's rare to hear a voice like that of Senator Frank Church, who in the 1970s led the explosive investigations into U.S. domestic intelligence crimes that prompted the very reforms now being eroded. "The technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny," Church pointed out in 1975. "And there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know."

Source: Radar Magazine (http://radarmagazine.com/from-the-magazine/2008/04/mayjune_2008_table_of_contents.php).

Related Reading: Constitutionally.blogspot.com "Investigation into Whether America is Still a Constitutional Government" -- Are we currently living under Continuity of Government? (Excellent links for documentation, more reading).
Peter Dale Scott's recent article, Congress, the Bush Adminstration and Continuity of Government Planning--The Showdown
We also very highly recommend Dr. Scott's "The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America" which devotes two entire chapters to this issue.

~ source: 911Truth.Org ~

'Dirty war' witness goes missing

Authorities are "very concerned" over the disappearance of a second witness to abuses carried out by military dictators in Argentina's "dirty war," President Cristina Kirchner said today.

Juan Puthud, 50, a human rights activist who lost an eye after he was kidnapped and tortured at 18 years of age, was last seen yesterday as he was heading to work in Zarate, 90 kilometres north of Buenos Aires, his parents reported to police.

He was a witness in ongoing trials against "dirty war" offenders. Another witness and torture victim Jorge Julio Lopez, 77, has been missing since September 18, 2007.

Then president Nestor Kirchner - husband of the current president - blamed Mr Lopez's disappearance last year on criminals "linked to state terrorism", a term used to describe the old military dictatorship that ruled from 1976 to 1983.

~ more... ~

 

'Now we must look for mythologies of sustainability, of collaborative relationships with the earth'

From: Homo Luminous: The New Human by Alberto Villoldo

This new mythology has yet to emerge, but we have the traditions of the Earth Peoples to provide us with models of the kind of world our children's children can truly inhabit. The Earth People have an animistic relationship with all of life. Animism is practiced by people who believe they can speak to the rivers and to the trees and to the canyons and to the mountains and to God. This is what we were able to do before we were cast out of the garden. We were still in relationship with Spirit and with the natural world. Spirit is actually talking to us all the time. But we, in the west, don't open our ears to hear. If we are to find that self that still walks with beauty on the earth, that speaks to the rivers and to the trees and to God, and to whom the rivers and the trees and the voice of spirit talks back, we need a great kind of soul retrieval.

Are the Quakers Going Pagan?

When his partner died in 2004, Kevin-Douglas Olive reached a crossroads in his faith. Even though he had been a Quaker for almost two decades and put his trust in Jesus, he began to explore other ways of tapping into the divine.

"I had this experience of (my partner) after death, and he spoke to me and woke me up out of my sleep," Olive says. "It freaked me out, because I really didn't believe in that stuff; … my faith in God had disappeared when my partner died."

He started to explore Wicca, a nature-based pagan religion, surrounding himself with pentacles, candles and incense. But that didn't stick. "It seemed like more make-believe on top of the Christian make-believe," he says. "I was rejecting one; I didn't want to bring in another."

Even after Olive found his way back to Jesus, he retained some elements of paganism. While he upholds the standard traditions of his local Quaker meeting hall, he privately incorporates pagan ritual into his prayer.

He's part of a small but growing movement of Quakers who also identify as pagan — a trend that may or may not exist in other Christian traditions, but certainly not in such an organized, public fashion.

Across the board, the number of Quakers is dwindling, to roughly 100,000 in the U.S. But if Quakerism continues to catch on among the estimated half million pagans in the U.S., those who embrace both traditions predict that could reverse the Quakers' downward trend. Still, some Quakers worry about losing their own traditions through the process of accepting new ones.

~ more... ~

Beltane celebrations

From: The Sabbats - A Celebration of MAY DAY by Mike Nichols

'Perhaps it's just as well that you won't be here...to be offended by the sight of our May Day celebrations.'
--Lord Summerisle to Sgt. Howie from 'The Wicker Man'
There are four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year and the modern Witch's calendar, as well. The two greatest of these are Halloween (the beginning of winter) and May Day (the beginning of summer). Being opposite each other on the wheel of the year, they separate the year into halves. Halloween (also called Samhain) is the Celtic New Year and is generally considered the more important of the two, though May Day runs a close second. Indeed, in some areas -- notably Wales -- it is considered the great holiday.
May Day ushers in the fifth month of the modern calendar year, the month of May. This month is named in honor of the goddess Maia, originally a Greek mountain nymph, later identified as the most beautiful of the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades. By Zeus, she is also the mother of Hermes, god of magic. Maia's parents were Atlas and Pleione, a sea nymph.
The old Celtic name for May Day is Beltane (in its most popular Anglicized form), which is derived from the Irish Gaelic 'Bealtaine' or the Scottish Gaelic 'Bealtuinn', meaning 'Bel-fire', the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus). He, in turn, may be traced to the Middle Eastern god Baal.
Other names for May Day include: Cetsamhain ('opposite Samhain'), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church's name). This last came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people's allegiance from the Maypole (Pagan lingham - symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross - Roman instrument of death).

 
As around 8000 people gathered on Calton Hill for the climax of last night's Beltane Fire Festival, the heavens opened and a torrential downpour began.

The festival began earlier in the evening than in previous years because of a new feature introduced for its 21st birthday – a Family Beltane.

First started in 1988 to revive ancient Celtic rites to mark the end of winter, it soon came to be known for its uninhibited behaviour, racy performances and semi-nude dancers.

Family Beltane producer Adam Tomkins said: "In ancient times Beltane was a family festival, but today some of it isn't necessarily suitable for children.

"We held the Family Beltane to give the children a flavour of what the main event is like. We started off with face painting and storytelling, and then we did our own mini procession around the hill covering all of the same elements in a real family friendly way."

Family Beltane was well attended for its inaugural year with several dozen families turning out – and the rain held off until later.

DynCorp Used Amored Car To Transport Hookers

Some explosive testimony this afternoon from a panel of whistleblowers testifying before the Senate's Democratic Policy Committee on contractor abuse in Iraq.

A contractor died when a DynCorp manager used an employee's armored car to transport prostitutes, according to Barry Halley, a Worldwide Network Services employee working under a DynCorp subcontract.

"DynCorp's site manager was involved in bringing prostitutes into hotels operated by DynCorp. A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was travelling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission. I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by the contractor's manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad."

Other revelations:

- Kellogg Brown & Root contractors used to destroy countless quantities of still-usable equipment that was difficult to transport in "massive burn pits" that were "burning 24 hours a day."

- KBR's ice foreman "was cheating the troops out of ice at the same time that he was trading the ice for DVDs, CDs, food and other items at the Iraqi shops across the street."

- When KBR whistleblower Frank Cassaday reported weapons looting, he was placed in a jail tent by KBR security.

- KBR employees looted Iraqi palaces for treasure to sell on eBay.

~ source: RogueGovernment.com ~

 

Since I Gave Up Hope, I Feel Better - by William Blum

"More than any time in history, mankind now faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -- Woody Allen

Food riots, in dozens of countries, in the 21st century. Is this what we envisioned during the post-World War Two, moon-landing 20th century as humankind's glorious future? It's not the end of the world, but you can almost see it from here.

American writer Henry Miller (1891-1980) once asserted that the role of the artist was to "inoculate the world with disillusionment". So just in case you -- for whatever weird reason -- cling to the belief/hope that the United States can be a positive force in ending or slowing down the new jump in world hunger, here are some disillusioning facts of life.

On December 14, 1981 a resolution was proposed in the United Nations General Assembly which declared that "education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development are human rights". Notice the "proper nourishment". The resolution was approved by a vote of 135-1. The United States cast the only "No" vote.

A year later, December 18, 1982, an identical resolution was proposed in the General Assembly. It was approved by a vote of 131-1. The United States cast the only "No" vote.

The following year, December 16, 1983, the resolution was again put forth, a common practice at the United Nations. This time it was approved by a vote of 132-1. There's no need to tell you who cast the sole "No" vote.

These votes took place under the Reagan administration.

Under the Clinton administration, in 1996, a United Nations-sponsored World Food Summit affirmed the "right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food". The United States took issue with this, insisting that it does not recognize a "right to food". Washington instead championed free trade as the key to ending the poverty at the root of hunger, and expressed fears that recognition of a "right to food" could lead to lawsuits from poor nations seeking aid and special trade provisions.[1]

The situation of course did not improve under the administration of George W. Bush. In 2002, in Rome, world leaders at another U.N.-sponsored World Food Summit again approved a declaration that everyone had the right to "safe and nutritious food". The United States continued to oppose the clause, again fearing it would leave them open to future legal claims by famine-stricken countries.[2]

Along with petitioning American leaders to become decent human beings we should be trying to revive the population control movement. Birth rates must be radically curbed. All else being equal, a markedly reduced population count would have a markedly beneficial effect upon global warming and food and water availability (not to mention finding a parking spot and lots of other advantages). People, after all, are not eating more. There are simply more/too many people. Some favor limiting families to two children. Others argue in favor of one child per family. Still others, who spend a major part of each day digesting the awful news of the world, are calling for a limit of zero. (The Chinese government recently announced that the country would have about 400 million more people if it wasn't for its limit of one or two children per couple.[3])

And as long as we're fighting for hopeless causes, let's throw in the demand that corporations involved in driving the cost of oil through the roof -- and dragging food costs with it -- must either immediately exhibit a conspicuous social conscience or risk being nationalized, their executives taken away in orange jumpsuits, handcuffs, and leg shackles. The same for other corporations and politicians involved in championing the replacement of food crops with biofuel crops or exploiting any of the other steps along the food-chain system which puts bloated income ahead of putting food in people's mouths. We're not speaking here of weather phenomena beyond the control of man, we're speaking of men making decisions, based not on people's needs but on pseudo-scientific, amoral mechanisms like supply and demand, commodity exchanges, grain futures, selling short, selling long, and other forms of speculation, all fed and multiplied by the proverbial herd mentality -- a system governed by only two things: fear and greed; not a rational way to feed a world of human beings.

The Wall Street Journal reports that grain-processing giant Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. said its quarterly profits "jumped 42%, including a sevenfold increase in net income in its unit that stores, transports and trades grains such as wheat, corn and soybeans. ... Some observers think financial speculation has helped push up prices as wealthy investors in the past year have flooded the agriculture commodity markets in search of better returns."[4]  At the same time, the French Agriculture Minister warned European Union officials against "too much trust in the free market. We must not leave the vital issue of feeding people to the mercy of market laws and international speculation."[5]

It should be noted that the price of gasoline in the United States increases on a regular basis, but there's no shortage of supply. There are no lines of cars waiting at gas stations. And demand has been falling as financially-strapped drivers cut back on car use.


Intelligence agents without borders
When Andreas Papandreou assumed his ministerial duties in 1964 in the Greek government led by his father George Papandreou, he was shocked to discover an intelligence service out of control, a shadow government with powers beyond the authority of the nation's nominal leaders, a service more loyal to the CIA than to the Papandreou government. This was a fact of life for many countries in the world during the Cold War, when the CIA could dazzle a foreign secret service with devices of technical wizardry, classes in spycraft, vital intelligence, unlimited money, and American mystique and propaganda. Many of the world's intelligence agencies have long provided the CIA with information about their own government and citizens. The nature of much of this information has been such that if a private citizen were to pass it to a foreign power he could be charged with treason.[6]

Leftist Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa declared in April that Ecuador's intelligence systems were "totally infiltrated and subjugated to the CIA," and accused senior Ecuadoran military officials of sharing intelligence with Colombia, the Bush administration's top (if not only) ally in Latin America. The previous month missiles had been fired into a camp of the Colombian FARC rebels situated in Ecuador near the Colombian border, killing about 25. One of those killed was Franklin Aisalla, an Ecuadorean operative for the group. It turned out that Ecuadorean intelligence officials had been tracking Aisalla, a fact that was not shared with the president, but apparently with Colombian forces and their American military advisers. "I, the president of the republic, found out about these operations by reading the newspaper," a visibly indignant Correa said. "This is not something we can tolerate." He added that he planned to restructure the intelligence agencies so he would have greater direct control over them.[7]

The FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is routinely referred to in the world media as "Marxist", but that designation has not been appropriate for many years. The FARC has long been basically a criminal organization -- kidnapings for ransom, kidnapings for no apparent reason, selling protection services to businesses, trafficking in drugs, fighting the Colombian Army to be free to continue their criminal ways or to revenge their comrades' deaths. But Washington, proceeding from its declared ideology of "If you ain't with us, you're against us; in fact, if you ain't with us you're a terrorist", has designated FARC as a terrorist group. Every stated definition of "terrorist", from the FBI to the United Nations to the US criminal code makes it plain that terrorism is essentially a political act. This should, logically, exclude FARC from that category but, in actuality, has no effect on Washington's thinking. And now the Bush administration is threatening to add Venezuela to its list of "nations that support terrorism", following a claim by Colombia that it had captured a computer belonging to FARC after the attack on the group's campsite in Ecuador. A file allegedly found on the alleged computer, we are told, suggests that the Venezuelan government had channeled $300 million to FARC, and that FARC had appeared interested in acquiring 110 pounds of uranium.[8] What next? Chavez had met with Osama bin Laden at the campsite?

Amongst the FARC members killed in the Colombian attack on Ecuador were several involved in negotiations to free Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate who also holds French citizenship and is gravely ill. The French government and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have been very active in trying to win Betancourt's freedom. Individuals collaborating with Chavez have twice this year escorted a total of six hostages freed by the FARC into freedom, including four former Colombian legislators. The prestige thus acquired by Chavez has of course not made Washington ideologues happy. If Chavez should have a role in the freeing of Betancourt -- the FARC's most prominent prisoner -- his prestige would jump yet higher. The raid on the FARC camp has put an end to the Betancourt negotiations, at least for the near future.

The raid bore the fingerprints of the US military/CIA -- a Predator drone aircraft dropped "smart bombs" after pinpointing the spot by monitoring a satellite phone call between a FARC leader and Chavez. A Colombian Defense Ministry official admitted that the United States had provided his government with intelligence used in the attack, but denied that Washington had provided the weapons.[9] The New York Times observed that "The predawn operation bears remarkable similarities to one carried out in late January by the United States in Pakistan."[10]

So what do we have here? Washington has removed a couple of dozen terrorists (or "terrorists") from the ranks of the living without any kind of judicial process. Ingrid Betancourt continues her imprisonment, now in its sixth year, but another of Hugo Chavez's evil-commie plans has been thwarted. And the CIA -- as with its torture renditions -- has once again demonstrated its awesome power: anyone, anywhere, anytime, anything, all laws domestic and international be damned, no lie too big.


"After such knowledge, what forgiveness?" T.S. Eliot
Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington on April 28, during which he was asked about his earlier statement that the US government had invented the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, "as a means of genocide against people of color".

Wright did not offer any kind of evidence to support his claim. Even more important, the claim makes little sense. Why would the US government want to wipe out people of color? Undoubtedly, many government officials, past and present, have been racists, but the capitalist system at home and its imperialist brother abroad have no overarching ideological or realpolitik need for such a genocide. During the seven decades of the Cold War, the American power elite was much more interested in a genocide of "communists", of whatever color, wherever they might be found. Many weapons which might further this purpose were researched, including, apparently, an HIV-like virus. Consider this: On June 9, 1969, Dr. Donald M. MacArthur, Deputy Director, Research and Engineering, Department of Defense, testified before Congress:

Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory [resistant] to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.[11]

Whether the United States actually developed such a microorganism and what it did with it has not been reported. AIDS was first identified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981. It's certainly possible that the disease arose as a result of Defense Department experiments, and then spread as an unintended consequence.

If you think that our leaders, as wicked as they are, would not stoop to any kind of biological or chemical warfare against people, consider that in 1984 an anti-Castro Cuban exile, on trial in a New York court, testified that in the latter part of 1980 a ship traveled from Florida to Cuba with "a mission to carry some germs to introduce them in Cuba to be used against the Soviets and against the Cuban economy, to begin what was called chemical war, which later on produced results that were not what we had expected, because we thought that it was going to be used against the Soviet forces, and it was used against our own people, and with that we did not agree."[12]

It's not clear from the testimony whether the Cuban man thought that the germs would somehow be able to confine their actions to only Russians. This was but one of many instances where the CIA or Defense Department used biological or chemical weapons against Cuba and other countries, including in the United States against Americans, at times with fatal consequences.[13]


Breaking the media barrier
"You take that framework of people feeling locked out, shut out, marginalized, disrespected, and you go from Iraq to Palestine to Israel, from Enron to Wall Street, from Katrina to the bungling of the Bush administration, to the complicity of the Democrats in not stopping him on the war, stopping him on the tax cuts ... If the Democrats can't landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form. You think the American people are going to vote for a pro-war John McCain who almost gives an indication he's the candidate of perpetual war, perpetual intervention overseas?"

Thus spaketh Ralph Nader as he announced his presidential candidacy to a national audience on NBC's Meet the Press in February. The next day his words appeared in the Washington Post, Kansas City Star, Associated Press, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, International Herald Tribune, and numerous other publications, news agencies, and websites around the world. And other parts of his interview were also repeated, like this in the Washington Post: "Let's get over it and try to have a diverse, multiple-choice, multiple-party democracy, the way they have in Western Europe and Canada."

This is why Ralph Nader runs for office. To get our views a hearing in the mainstream media (which we often, justifiably, look down upon but are forced to make use of), and offer Americans an alternative to the tweedledumb and tweedledumber political parties and their cookie-cutter candidates with their status-quo-long-live-the-empire souls. Is Nader's campaign not eminently worthwhile? But as always, he faces formidable obstacles, amongst which is what H. L. Mencken once observed: "The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth."

Here are a couple of campaigns to contribute time and money to:

Ralph Nader -- http://www.votenader.org/
Cindy Sheehan, running for Congress in San Francisco against Nancy "Impeachment is off the table" Pelosi -- http://www.cindyforcongress.org/


"Building a new world" conference
May 22-25, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, 5-hour drive from Washington, DC. Cindy Sheehan, Kathy Kelly, Michael Parenti, David Swanson, Gareth Porter, William Blum, Medea Benjamin, Gary Corseri, Mike Whitney, Kevin Zeese, Robert Jensen, and others. Room and board available at reasonable rates. Full details at: http://www.wpaconference.org/


NOTES
[1] Washington Post, November 18, 1996

[2] Reuters news agency, June 10, 2002

[3] Washington Post, March 3, 2008

[4] "Grain Companies' Profits Soar As Global Food Crisis Mounts", Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2008, p.1

[5] Washington Post, April 27, 2008, p.13

[6] William Blum, Killing Hope, pages 217-8

[7] New York Times, April 21, 2008

[8] New York Times, March 4, 2008

[9] Agence France Presse, March 24, 2008

[10] New York Times, April 21, 2008

[11] Hearings before the House Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, "Department of Defense Appropriations for 1970"

[12] Testimony of Eduardo Victor Arocena Perez, on trial in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, transcript of September 10, 1984, pp. 2187-89.

[13] William Blum, Rogue State, chapters 14 and 15

William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2 - Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower - West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir - Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org 

"The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance"

 
"I needed something to explain a way of investigating subjects with synchronicities and the word seemed to fit... My biggest inspiration for this kind of thinking and investigating came from Goro Adachi at Etemenanki. Goro calls his research multi-contextual."

The synchromysticism research Jake Kotze publishes on his websites include information-dense videos, artwork and articles punctuated by images illustrating various mystic/pop culture linkages. His articles and videos usually focus on esoteric symbols or memes (possibly stemming from a collective unconscious mind) reoccurring throughout a wide range of sources, especially mass media. Such symbols include numbers, words, archetypes, shapes and various visual motifs or patterns such as portals and checkerboards. The total effect is a mind-blowing labyrinthine reality mash-up linked by a type of dream logic. Kotze described his approach towards synchronicities in an October 20, 2006 post on Brave New World Order:

"My idea about the significance of meaningful coincidences in movies with mystical connotation is not that it points towards real truths, but that they point towards possible realities that might emerge from the collective psyche into consensus reality. We vie and jostle for acceptable limits of consensus reality through our art and philosophy. Our ideas and concepts about reality are the very fabric of reality itself. We try to sell each other beliefs in a creative effort to allow new 'things' to emerge into the accepted matrix of the now. I don't fundamentally fret about what 'is' real; I care about checking the zeitgeists' temperature in order to project future possibilities of acceptable norms and find hidden pockets of knowledge embedded in the pattern of 'AUM'."

Recurring themes Kotze has been tracking include "stargate" symbols and imagery that was most powerfully expressed in the events of 9/11. He argues that in the language of esoteric symbolism the Twin Towers are analogous to Solomon's Temple, Mecca and the pyramids of Egypt – structures intended to be, in a sense, vortexes to higher dimensions. Kotze has linked imagery from an astounding amount and variety of pop culture sources, including cartoons, mainstream Hollywood films, cult classics, posters, websites and even videogames of the stargate concept.

[ ... ]

A relatively well-known example of proto-synchromystic writing is James Shelby Downard's essay on the Kennedy assassination, "King-Kill 33" (popularized by the Marilyn Manson song of the same name). In it, he collects a vast array of symbolic clues and associations that leads him to speculate that Kennedy's assassination was part of a Masonic ritual. Masonic aspects of synchromystic symbology have also been the subject of lectures and articles by Jordan Maxwell, Richard C. Hoagland and Jay Weidner. Kotze has made references to all of these writers and they likely influenced his thoughts on synchronicity. In his interview on "The Kentroversy Tapes" podcast, Jake specifically cites Robert Anton Wilson as one of his primary sources of synchromystic inspiration, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone familiar with Wilson's writings. In much of his work, most notably Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati, Wilson wrote extensively on the subjects of synchronicity, conspiracy, psychedelics and magick.

Synchronistically, in Cosmic Trigger Wilson relates how shortly after he published Illuminatus in 1975, William Grimstad (a.k.a. Jim Brandon) corresponded with him to share channeled information from people allegedly contacted by extraterrestrial intelligences. The information corresponded in detail to esoteric topics Wilson and Timothy Leary had been confidentially discussing at the time. Later, Grimstad sent Wilson a tape called "Sirius Rising" that he and close friend and collaborator James Shelby Downard recorded that contained some of the same information featured in Downard's "King-Kill 33" essay. Wilson called the Grimstad-Downard theory "…the most absurd, the most incredible, the most ridiculous Illuminati theory of them all." But he added, "The only trouble is that, after the weird data we have already surveyed, the Grimstad-Downard theory may not sound totally unbelievable to us."

In the same book Wilson disclosed his distant link to Lee Harvey Oswald (Oswald's ex-wife lived with the sister of Wilson's family doctor). Wilson was also a friend of Kerry Thornley (co-founder of Discordianism, the only religion Wilson embraced) who befriended Oswald when they served together in the marines. Their mutual friend Greg Hill (a.k.a. Malaclypse the Younger, the other co-founder of Discordianism) had a girlfriend who served as district attorney Jim Garrison's secretary in the summer of 1963. She used his Xerox machine after-hours to print the earliest Discordian text, "Principia Discordia or How the West Was Lost". In the fall of 1966 Garrison began his investigation into the JFK assassination, later dramatized in the Oliver Stone film JFK (1991) which itself has been a subject of synchromystic analysis by Dean Grace.

The connection between Kerry Thornley, Lee Harvey Oswald and Jim Garrison was further documented by countercultural and Fortean historian Adam Gorightly in his book The Prankster and the Conspiracy. Though it was briefly mentioned in Cosmic Trigger, Gorightly's book covered in greater detail a falling out between Kerry Thornley and Robert Anton Wilson due to a disagreement in the interpretation of coincidences surrounding Kerry's connection to the JFK assassination and Kerry's increasing sense of paranoia. Kerry began to suspect the coincidences were an intentional manipulation possibly involving the CIA, Mafia and/or Naval Intelligence, and even went so far as to accuse close friends of being a part of a plot. Wilson remained agnostic on his views on the causes of those and other coincidences but entertained ideas ranging from subjective perception, the collective unconscious, parapsychology, quantum physics and a holographic universe. This open-ended view of synchronicity is more in alignment with the synchromystic view, while Kerry's approach (minus delusional paranoia) is closer to those of relatively conventional conspiracy researchers such as Alex Constantine, John Judge, Michael C. Ruppert, and Webster Griffin Tarpley.

 

Alexandros Panagoulis (2 July 1939 – 1 May 1976)

Alexandros Panagoulis was a Greek politician and poet. He took an active role in the fight against the Regime of the Colonels (19671974) in Greece. He became famous for his attempt to assassinate dictator George Papadopoulos on 13 August 1968, but also for the torture that he was subjected to during his detention. After the restoration of democracy he was elected to the Greek parliament as a member of the Center Union (E. K.).
 

Resistance to the Dictatorship

Alexandros Panagoulis during the trial, November 1968
Alexandros Panagoulis during the trial, November 1968

Alexandros Panagoulis participated actively in the fight for the restoration of democracy and against the Regime of the Colonels. He deserted from the Greek military because of his democratic convictions and founded the organisation National Resistance. He went into self-exile in Cyprus in order to develop a plan of action. He returned to Greece where, with the help of his collaborators, he organised the 13 August 1968 assassination attempt against Papadopoulos, close to Varkiza. The plot failed and Panagoulis was arrested.

In an interview held after his liberation, Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci quoted Panagoulis as saying: I didn't want to kill a man. I'm not capable of killing a man. I wanted to kill a tyrant.

Panagoulis was put on trial by the Military Court on 3 November 1968, condemned to death with other members of National Resistance on 17 November 1968, and subsequently transported to the island of Aegina for the sentence to be carried out. As a result of political pressure from the international community, the junta refrained from executing him and instead incarcerated him at the Military Prisons of Bogiati (S. F. B.) on 25 November 1968.

Alexandros Panagoulis refused to cooperate with the junta, and was subjected to physical and psychological torture. He escaped from prison on 5 June 1969. He was soon arrested and sent temporarily to the camp of Goudi. He was eventually placed in solitary confinement at Bogiati, from which he unsuccessfully attempted to escape on several occasions.

He reportedly refused amnesty offers from the junta. In August 1973, after four and a half year in jail, he benefited from a general amnesty that the military regime granted to all political prisoners during a failed attempt by Papadopoulos to liberalize his regime. Panagoulis went into self-exile in Florence, Italy, in order to continue the resistance. There he was hosted by Oriana Fallaci, his companion who was to become his biographer.

Alexandros Panagoulis – President of E.DI.N.
Alexandros Panagoulis – President of E.DI.N.

Restoration of Democracy

After the restoration of democracy, Alexandros Panagoulis was elected as Member of Parliament as a member of the Center Union - New Forces, in 1974. He made a series of allegations against mainstream politicians whom he said had openly or secretly collaborated with the junta. He eventually resigned from his party, after disputes with the leadership, but remained in the parliament as an independent deputy. He stood by his allegations, which he made openly against the Minister of National Defence, Evangelos Averof, and others. He reportedly received political pressure and threats against his life in order to persuade him to tone down his allegations.

Death

Panagoulis was killed on 1 May 1976 at the age of 36 in a car accident on Vouliagmenis Ave. in Athens. More precisely, a frantically-speeding car with a Corinthian named Stefas behind the wheel diverted Panagoulis' car and forced it to crash. The crash killed Panagoulis almost instantaneously. This happened only two days before files of the junta's military police (the E.A.T. - E.S.A. file) that he was in possession of were to be made public. The files, which never materialized, reportedly included evidence of his allegations of collaboration. There was much speculation in the Greek press that the car accident was staged to silence Panagoulis and to cover up the documents in question.

Poetic work

Alexandros Panagoulis was brutally tortured on a daily basis during the junta. Many believe that he maintained his faculties thanks to his will, determination to defend his beliefs, as well as his keen sense of humour. While imprisoned at Bogiati, Panagoulis is said to have written his poetry on the walls of his cell or on small papers, often using his own blood as ink (as told in the poem 'The Paint'). Many of his poems have not survived. However, he managed to smuggle some to friends while in prison, or to recall and rewrite them later. While in prison his first collection in Italian titled Altri seguiranno: poesie e documenti dal carcere di Boyati (Others will Follow: Poetry and Documents of the Prison of Boyati) was published in Palermo in 1972 with an introduction of the Italian politician Ferruccio Parri and the Italian film director and intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini. For this collection Panagoulis was awarded the Viareggio International Prize of Poetry (Premio Viareggio Internazionnale) the following year. After his liberation he published his second collection in Milan under the title Vi scrivo da un carcere in Grecia (I write you from a prison in Greece) with an introduction by Pasolini. He had previously published several collections in Greek, including The Paint (I Bogia).

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