Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thirteen proves lucky for smart


How many people can you fit into a diminutive smart fortwo? The amazing answer is 13 following a car cram staged to help celebrate smart's 10th anniversary. Owners and visitors to the annual smart Destination Brooklands event held at Mercedes-Benz World, the UK's leading automotive brand experience centre at Weybridge, were invited to take up the smart-packing challenge.

With the drivers and passengers of 1,200 smarts attending the event there was no shortage of potential participants but the winners proved to be the aptly-named 'smart car-tortionists', a group of body-bending specialists chosen for their gymnastic feats. They included Iona Luvsandorj, semi-finalist in this year's Britain's Got Talent TV series.

With remarkable flexibility, a total of 13 contortionists managed to climb aboard the micro smart which measures just 2.7 metres long by 1.6 metres wide, proving that the fortwo is small on the outside and big on the inside.
Said Iona afterwards: The interior of the smart is tardis-like and I think we exceeded the crowd's expectations of how many people we could fit inside it."

Bangalore: Kalam backs nuclear deal with US

The former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Wednesday said the nuclear deal with the U.S. will prove beneficial to India.

"Until the time that our scientists produce thorium-based nuclear reactors from our thorium deposits which are second largest in the world, we will require uranium to sustain our energy requirements for which the deal will be important to us," he said.

Mr. Kalam was speaking here at the monthly alumni meet of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB).

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Media told to avoid becoming weapon for conflicting countries

The media should avoid becoming weapons of war for conflicting countries and provide balanced news coverage amid the polarization represented by the interests of the West and Muslims, a peace forum here heard Wednesday.

Lawrence Pintak, director of Kamal Adham Center for Journalism at American University in Cairo, told the second World Peace Forum the media have become polarizing as the result of single-perspective reports, a situation that worsened to a large extent after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

In the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, some critics say, many in the media took sides with the West. Condemnation of terrorists generalized the whole Arab world as the "axis of evil".

Pintak said while the media held a huge responsibility to promote peace, they had become trapped inside a circle of demonizing certain figures.

"All at the expense of misleading readers ... creating a tragic rift between the Muslim world and the West," he said.

He said imbalance and recklessness in presenting facts had also dragged reporters into the wars they covered.

"A brutal backlash against the journalists is to be found in the Arab world. Journalists are the victims of both the government and the insurgent groups there," Pintak said.

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Retaliation suspected against whistleblower

A senior Republican senator and two Democratic congressmen want the FBI to investigate suspected retaliation against an agent who told a House subcommittee that a third of the leadership positions in an elite FBI division that tracks al Qaeda terrorists are vacant.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee; Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; and Rep. Robert C. Scott of Virginia told FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III in a letter that the bureau "wasted no time in taking action against" Agent Bassem Youssef following his May 21 testimony before the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.

Mr. Scott, who serves as subcommittee chairman, said the prospect that the FBI took retaliatory action against Mr. Youssef for being a whistleblower "is disturbing, but the prospects that it did so as a response to the 'whistleblower' testifying before Congress is more than disturbing - if true, it is criminal."

"Youssef courageously provided information to the subcommittee about deficiencies in the FBI´s counterterrorism programs, despite his awareness of the FBI´s tendency to retaliate against those who speak out about problems in the FBI," the lawmakers said in the letter to Mr. Mueller.

"Just two days after the subcommittee´s hearing, we understand that Agent Youssef was informed by his supervisor that unknown accusers had claimed he violated various FBI rules and regulations," they said. "In particular, one anonymous claim was that he traveled to London on official business without having obtained the required 'country clearance.'"

The lawmakers said given the timing, "the allegations appear to be motivated by a desire to harass, intimidate and retaliate against" the agent for providing information to Congress.

"The FBI has a history of retaliation against its agents. So, unfortunately, these actions don´t surprise me," Mr. Grassley said in a statement.

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Intelligence agencies agree: Climate change can lead to war

Whether the rest of the government is willing to admit to the dangers of climate change is anybodies guess, but the intelligence community has issued a 58 page report saying that climate change is dangerous.  The rest of the world says: "Finally!"

The U. S. intelligence community has completed a study on the implications of climate change and world stability and arrived at the same conclusion as Environmental groups.  Climate change could indeed lead to world unrest, government instability and wars.

Two prominent government security experts will be testifying today about the report before Congress.  National Intelligence Council chairman Dr. Thomas Fingar and Energy Department intelligence chief Rolf Mowatt-Larsen  will be testifying on the 58 page report entitled, "The National Security Implications of Global Climate Change Through 2030."

The results of this study is guaranteed to give government officials heartburn.  Finally, the intelligence community has decided to live up to its name and issue a report based on fact rather than White House policy.  Maybe it is because these are "spies" and not EPA officials, their full findings can make the headlines-sort of.  The actual contents of the report are being classified because of the "detail" and "specifics" discussed, but the majority of the report is expected to be revealed during the course of Congressional testimony.

Basically, climate changes multiply the tensions that already exist and are the catalyst for  conflicts.  Examples can be found in the fights for water taking place in Africa and the Middle East, as well as, the increased tensions in Asia after the tsunamis and Hurricanes.

When basic resources needed to live or make a living become scarce, people look elsewhere to find them leading to tensions, prejudice, and wars.  Simply look at the history of the water wars  in western U. S. to gain some idea of what dangers shifting climates and resources can have on tempers and growth.

~ read on... ~


Beijing enlists army of toilet trained staff

Beijing has dispatched 8,000 toilet maintenance staff, each responsible for a specific public restroom in the city and trained in hygiene standards and techniques, Olympic knowledge and practical English expressions, Xinhua said Friday.

There will be selective inspections every week and the results will be posted on the website of the Municipal Utilities Administration Commission, said the news agency.

The city was also struggling with which style of commode would be best, noting Westerners prefer seated toilets, which are more comfortable and convenient for the elderly or infirm.

The squat toilets widely used in Chinese public facilities are considered more hygienic as there is no direct contact with body, it said.

At more than 30 test events held by the Games organizers, the squat versions drew frequent complaints from foreigners, said Xinhua.

"Not all of the toilets will be changed, but those for journalists, athletes, and VIPs will be," Xinhua quoted Yao Hui, the deputy director of venue management, as saying.

~ Reuters ~


Tony Platt on American Eugenics

By Tony Platt

The 1942 U.S. Supreme Court case of Skinner v. Oklahoma is remembered for protecting "the right to have offspring," and by implication the right not to have offspring. Skinner, according to Victoria Nourse, the author of an important new book on American eugenics, typically "sits in the shadow of the abortion and gay marriage debates."

"In Reckless Hands: Skinner v. Oklahoma and the Near-Triumph of American Eugenics" demonstrates that Skinner also opens a window into a little-known chapter of American eugenics: how prisoners at a hardscrabble prison in Oklahoma in the aftermath of the Depression led a sophisticated struggle to limit the practice of compulsory sterilization in the United States. 

Much has been written about the history of eugenics, but until publication of this book we knew little about how eugenic sterilization was used in prisons and against men, and even less about the views of its targeted victims. It's a lively tale, well told, until the author, a law professor at Emory University, tries her hand at historical generalizations.

At the core of eugenics was a belief in a central role of heredity in both determining and explaining social inequality. Influenced by 19th-century developments in genetics, medicine and public health, eugenics was not a crank science. At the height of its influence, support came from some unlikely ideological bedfellows. It was endorsed by Fabian socialists in England and racial scientists in Germany; linked to birth control and progressive economic reforms in Denmark, and to racial policies against itinerant gypsies in Sweden; an expression of Fascist ideology in Germany and Argentina, and of cultural hybridity in Mexico; and closely associated with the sterilization of those defined as "feebleminded" in Germany, the United States, Sweden and Denmark.

In the 1930s, Nazi Germany made eugenics an official state policy, first openly sterilizing hundreds of thousands of women, then secretly murdering many of its disabled and mentally ill patients judged leading "lives unworthy of life." Until the onset of World War II, when selective murder turned into organized butchery, Nazi racial scientists were appreciated around the world, especially in the United States, where eugenics was dominated by right-wing hard-liners.

American eugenicists boosted "Anglo-Saxon" and "Nordic" types as the engine of modern society and promoted policies of apartheid to protect the "well born" from contamination by impoverished and mentally ill "degenerates." Believing that social failure and success could be traced to "racial temperament," its leaders advocated "positive eugenics" to increase the birthrate of privileged, white families, and "negative eugenics" to reduce the birthrate of groups considered a burden on civilization.

In addition to promoting utopian visions of a brave new world and exploiting cultural anxieties about racial degeneracy, eugenic scientists were hands-on activists, campaigning against "miscegenation," and in favor of welfare and immigration restrictions. Their greatest success in the United States during the first half of the 20th century was lobbying for the compulsory sterilization of 60,000 mostly poor women, considered "feebleminded" or "socially inadequate."

Until recently, the conventional scholarly wisdom claimed that Hitler's reign of terror ended scientific infatuation with eugenics. Writing in 1963, Mark Heller argued that by the time of World War II, racism ceased to have scientific respectability and "as a result, American eugenics and racism faced a parting of the ways." In 1985, Daniel Kevles, the distinguished historian of science, similarly made the case that "the Nazi horrors discredited eugenics as a social program."

But spurred by interest in the relationship between the new genetics and old eugenics, and by concerns about the misuses of science and medicine, a new generation of scholars is revising how we understand the timeline and scope of eugenics. They have drawn attention to the ties between biological theories of race and nation building; to the rebranding of pre-World War II eugenics as population control in the 1950s; and to contemporary uses of hereditarian arguments to bolster anti-feminism and justify racial inequality.

"In Reckless Hands" focuses on the use of sterilization against poor white men in Oklahoma during the 1930s and 1940s and adds a new dimension to our understanding of class prejudices within the American eugenics movement.

In 1931, Oklahoma followed the lead of many states by passing a law authorizing sterilization of persons in institutions "afflicted with hereditary forms of insanity," as well as "idiocy, imbecility, feeblemindedness, or epilepsy." The state Legislature added two more grounds for sterilization in 1933: If the patient was "likely to be a public or partial public charge" or was a "habitual criminal," defined as "any person convicted of a felony three times."

Two years later, in an atmosphere of moral panic about crime, Oklahoma passed the Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act, which made prisoners convicted of two felonies involving "moral turpitude" subject to sterilization. The state Senate made sure that politicians and their cronies would preserve their right to have offspring by exempting "offenses arising out of violations of the prohibitory laws, revenue acts, embezzlement or political offenses."

By 1934, Warden Sam Brown of McAlester prison was under political pressure to prepare a list of prisoners suitable for sterilization. He was reluctant to comply, worrying that "if Oklahoma tried to sterilize McAlester inmates, there would be violence at the prison. Riots or worse." Most of the prisoners were drifters, day laborers and sharecroppers who for the most part had committed economic crimes of desperation. As Brown himself admitted, the Depression had turned "honest laborers to crime."

Conditions inside McAlester were rough for the 2,000 incarcerated men. Hard labor in a brick-making factory was routine, with infractions punished by beatings, time in the hole, and humiliation, such as being forced to wear pink panties and dresses. Breakouts and violence were common, but there was little organized resistance until prisoners formed a committee in 1934 to protest the sterilization policy.

The odds were heavily stacked against the prisoners. In the infamous Supreme Court decision of 1927, Buck v. Bell, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes had justified the sterilization of 17-year-old Carrie Buck on the grounds that "three generations of imbeciles [were] enough." During the 1930s, public opinion overwhelmingly favored sterilization of "habitual criminals." And professional and academic opinion backed up public prejudices. In Oklahoma, Dr. Louis Henry Ritzhaupt, a Democratic senator and eugenics crusader, campaigned for the 1933 sterilization law as the best way "to stop production of potential inmates." At Harvard, leading criminologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck advocated similar measures to "reduce the reproduction" of criminals. 

At the heart of this book is a fascinating account of an eight-year struggle, led by prisoners, to get the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Oklahoma's Habitual Criminal Act. The original leaders of the campaign were Francis Hyde, a lawyer in prison for attempted murder, forgery and bank robbery; Ralph Bainum, a lifer in for murder; and J.J. Kelly, a "master thief" with training in law. With the moral support of the ACLU and national figures such as Clarence Darrow, and sympathetic coverage by the local media, the prisoners of McAlester involved themselves in the daily tasks of a long-term political campaign. 

A prisoners' committee raised $1,000 from McAlester's canteen fund and hired well-connected lawyers: Fay Lester, a former chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and Claud Briggs, a populist leader in the Senate who had made his reputation fighting for the "masses against the classes." The prisoners held media-savvy demonstrations inside the prison—with placards proclaiming "Save Your Manhood" and "Contribute here to the Sterilization Campaign"—and lobbied the Tulsa Daily World to publish "A 'Life Termer' Denounces Sterilization," a smart essay written by "Convict No. 18051."

After a prisoner targeted for sterilization escaped in 1936, the state settled on a candidate who would pass judicial scrutiny. Jack Skinner was a short, skinny three-time loser with a limp, who had done time for chicken stealing and armed robberies. His first sterilization trial lasted less than a day. The appeal process took almost five years, until 1941, when Oklahoma's Supreme Court in a split decision affirmed the decision to sterilize McAlester's test case, even though by then Skinner had been paroled, had married and had moved to California.

In 1942, with a couple of small-town, inexperienced trial lawyers added to Skinner's team, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Skinner v. Oklahoma. In a unanimous decision, the court decided for Skinner: "The power to sterilize, if exercised, may have subtle, far reaching and devastating effects. In evil or reckless hands it can cause races or types which are inimical to the dominant group to wither and disappear." In the lead opinion, Justice William O. Douglas exposed the double standard of a law that punished "a person who enters a chicken coop and steals chickens," while exempting the white-collar criminal who "appropriates over $20 from his employer's till."

It was an extraordinary victory—greeted "with jubilation in the cells and trusty buildings"—for an improbable campaign begun in McAlester prison eight years earlier. While the Skinner case did not provide protection for women in institutions or on welfare, "at a minimum," notes Victoria Nourse, "legislative expansion of compulsory sterilization was suspect."

When the author sticks close to the details of this compelling story, "In Reckless Hands" is a fascinating tale. But when she ventures into historical analysis, the book loses traction. For it is then that the author tends to sacrifice complexity for pithiness, and to make too many sweeping, and sometimes inaccurate, generalizations. It's facile, for example, to reduce the successes of Nazism to the conclusion that "the German public embraced Hitler as the last chance for a bit of order." Or to suggest, without evidence, that the rise of Nazism was responsible for transforming the American "public's understanding of racism from a matter of science into one of politics"— a point which Nourse herself contradicts in the epilogue: "It became obvious [in the 1940s] that the racism of eugenics would not die." (The book's subtitle adds to this confusion.)

Also, the author doesn't need to inflate the importance of her book by suggesting that it is somehow groundbreaking to do research "in local archives where most fear to tread," or ingenuously arguing that the history of eugenics "has largely been forgotten"—I have at least 15 books on my shelf written on this topic since the mid-1980s.

Nevertheless, "In Reckless Hands" is well worth reading because it gets us to think in new ways about the scope of eugenics. Moreover, by bringing us face to face with some of the typically anonymous victims of forced sterilization, Victoria Nourse teaches the important lesson that the masses can take on the classes.

Tony Platt, professor emeritus at Sacramento State University, is the author, with Cecilia O'Leary, of "Bloodlines: Recovering Hitler's Nuremberg Laws, From Patton's Trophy to Public Memorial."

History of Eugenics: a Select Bibliography

Black, Edwin. "War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race." New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003.

Briggs, Laura. "Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U. S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico." Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Broberg, Gunnar and Nils, Roll-Hanjsen (eds.). "Eugenics and the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland." Michigan State University Press, 1996.

Carlson, Elof Axel. "The Unfit: A History of a Bad Idea." Cold Springs Harbor, N.Y.: Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory Press, 2001.

Davis, Angela Y. "Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights," in "Women, Race & Class." New York: Random House, 1981.

"Facing History and Ourselves. Race and Membership in American History: The Eugenics Movement." Brookline, Mass: Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, 2002.

Ley, Astrid and Morsch, Günter. "Medical Care and Crime: The Infirmary at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, 1936-1945." Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 2007.

Gordon, Linda. "The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America." Chicago: University of Illinois Press 2002.

Haller, Mark. "Eugenics: Hereditarian Attitudes in American Thought." New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1963.

Kevles, Daniel. "In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity." Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985, 1995.

Kline, Wendy. "Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom." Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Kühl, Stefan. "The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism." New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Kuntz, Dieter and Bachrach, Susan (eds). "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race." Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2004.

LaPan, Amy and Platt, Tony " 'To Stem the Tide of Degeneracy': The Eugenic Impulse in Social Work," in Stuart A. Kirk (ed.), "Mental Disorders in the Social Environment: Critical Perspective." New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

Molina, Natalia. "Fit to Be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939." Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

Nourse, Victoria F. "In Reckless Hands: Skinner v. Oklahoma and the Near Triumph of American Eugenics." New York: W.W. Norton, 2008.

Ordover, Nancy. "American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism." Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).

Platt, Tony (with Cecilia O'Leary). "Bloodlines: Recovering Hitler's Nuremberg Laws, From Patton's Trophy to Public Memorial." Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2006.

Platt, Tony. Reviews of books on eugenics: "The Great White Hope," Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2002; "Breeding Only the Best," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 7, 2003; "In and Out of the Shadow of the Holocaust," Social Justice, April 2006.

Quine, Maria Sophia. "Italy's Social Revolution: Charity and Welfare From Liberalism to Fascism." Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002.

Quine, Maria Sophia. "Population Politics in Twentieth-Century Europe: Fascist Dictatorships and Liberal Democracies." London: Routledge, 1996.

Stepan, Nancy Leys. " 'The Hour of Eugenics': Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America." Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Stern, Alexandra Minna. "Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America." Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

Turda, Marius and Weindling, Paul J. "Blood and Homeland: Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900-1940." Budapest: Central European University Press, 2007. 

~ Truthdig ~


The hidden agenda of genetic manipulation

 The hidden agenda of genetic manipulation

By Arun Shrivastava

Genetically Modified (GM) food is definitely not what it appears to be.

Following is a review of F. William Engdahl's new book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation:

The last three or four years have seen a number of books, documentaries and articles on the dangers of Genetically Modified (GM) seeds. Majority has focused on adverse health and environmental impact; almost none on the geo-politics of GM seeds, and particularly seeds as a weapon of mass destruction. Engdahl has addressed this issue but the crop seed is one of the many "Seeds of Destruction" in this book.

Engdahl carefully documents how the intellectual foundations of 'eugenics,' mass culling of the sick, colored, and otherwise disposable races, were actually first established, and even legally approved, in the United States. Eugenics research was financially supported by the Rockefeller and other elite families and first tested on Jews under Nazi Germany.

It is purely by chance that world's poorest nations also happen to be best endowed with natural resources. These regions are also the ones with growing population. The fear among European ruling families, increasingly, integrating with economic and military might of the United States, was that if the poor nations became developed, the abundant natural resources, especially oil, gas, and strategic minerals and metals, may become scarcer for the white population. That situation was unacceptable to the white ruling elite.

The central question that dominated the minds of the ruling clique was population reduction in resource rich countries but the question was how to engineer mass culling all over the world without generating powerful backlash as it was bound to happen. When the U.S. oil reserves peaked in 1972 and it became a net oil importer, the situation became alarming and the agenda took the centre stage. Kissinger, one of the key strategists of Nixon, nurtured by the Rockefellers, prepared what is known as National Security Study Memo (NSSM#200), in which he elaborated his plan for population reduction. In this Memo he specifically targets thirteen countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand, and the Philippines.

The weapon to be used was food; even if there was a famine food would be used to leverage population reduction. Kissinger is on record for stating, "Control oil, you control nations; control food and you control the people." How a small group of key people transformed the elitist philosophy, of controlling food to control people, into realistic operational possibility within a short time is the backdrop of Engdahl's book, the central theme running from the beginning till the end with the Rockefellers and Kissinger, among others, as the key dramatis personae.

He describes how the Rockefellers guided the U.S. agriculture policy, used their powerful tax-free foundations worldwide to train an army of bright young scientists in hitherto unknown field of microbiology. He traces how the field of Eugenics was renamed "genetics" to make it more acceptable and also to hide the real purpose. Through incremental strategic adjustments within a handful of chemical, food and seed corporations, ably supported by the key persons in key departments of the U.S. Government, behemoths were created that could re-write the regulatory framework in nearly every country. And these seeds of destruction of carefully constructed regulatory framework -- to protect the environment and human health -- were sown back in the 1920s.

Pause to think: a normal healthy person can at the most go without food for perhaps seven days but it takes a full season, say around four months, for a seed to grow into food crop. Just five agri-biz corporations, all U.S. based (Cargill, Bunge, Archer Daniels, et al), control global grain trade, and just five control global trade in seeds. Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, and Dow Chemicals control genetically engineered seeds. While these powerful oligopolies were being knocked into place, anti-trust laws were diluted to exempt these firms. Engdahl writes, "It was not surprising that the Pentagon's National Defense University, on the eve of the 2003 Iraq War, issued a paper declaring: 'Agribiz is to the United States what oil is to the Middle East.' Agribusiness had become a strategic weapon in the arsenal of the world's only superpower." (page 143)

The "Green Revolution" was part of the Rockefeller agenda to destroy seed diversity and push oil and gas based agriculture inputs in which Rockefeller's had main interest. Destruction of seed diversity and dependence on proprietary hybrids was the first step in food control. (See my notes, Box 1)

It is true that initially Green Revolution technologies led to spurt in farm productivity but at a huge cost of destruction of farmlands, bio-diversity, poisoned aquifers and progressively poor health of the people and was the true agenda of 'the proponents of Green Revolution.'

The real impetus came with the technological possibility of gene splicing and insertion of specific traits into unrelated species. Life forms could be altered. But until 1979, the U.S. Government had steadfastly refused to grant patent on life form. That was changed

[my comment: helped much by a favorable judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court granting patent protection to oil eating bacteria developed by Dr Ananda Chakraborty]. Life forms could now be patented. To ensure that the world surrendered to the patent regime of the seeds corporations, the World Trade Organization was knocked into shape. How it conducted business was nobody's business, but it forced the world to accept intellectual property right of these corporations. There is opposition but these firms are too determined as Engdahl describes.

"The clear strategy of Monsanto, Dow, DuPont and the Washington Government backing them was to introduce the GMO seeds in every corner of the globe, with priority on defenseless. African and developing countries," write Engdahl (page 270). However, Engdahl also describes how U.S. and Canadian farmlands came under GMOs. It was suspected that GMO could pose serious threat to human and animal health and the environment, yet efforts at independent biosafety assessment were discontinued. Scientists carrying out honest studies were vilified. Reputed scientific establishments were silenced or made to toe the line that was supportive of the Rockefeller's food control and mass culling agenda. The destruction of the credibility of scientific institution is yet another seed of destruction in Engdahl's book.

Engdahl cites the example of a German farmer Gottfried Glockner's experience with GM corn. Glockner planted Bt176 event of Syngenta essentially as feed for his cows. Being a scientist, he started with 10% GM feed and gradually increased the proportion, carefully noting milk yield and any side effects. Nothing much happened in the first three years but when he increased the feed to 100% GM feed, his animals "were having gluey-white feaces and violent diarrhea" and "milk contained blood." Eventually all his seventy cows died. Prof Angelika Hilbeck of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found from Glockner's Bt 176 corn samples Bt toxins were present "in active form and extremely stable." The cows died of high dose of toxins. Not if, but when human food is 100% contaminated should be a sobering thought.

In the U.S. unlabelled GM foods were introduced in 1993 and that 70% of the supermarket foods contain GMOs in varying proportions in what should rightly be called world's largest biological experiment on humans. While Engdahl has clearly stated that the thrust of U.S. Government and the agi-biz is control over food especially in the third world, he has left it to the readers to deduce that American and European citizens are also target of that grand agenda. And there are more lethal weapons in the arsenal: Terminator seeds, Traitor seeds, and the ability to destroy small independent farmers at will in any part of the world, and these are powerfully presented in the book. Engdahl provides hard evidences for these seeds of final destruction and utter decimation of world civilizations as we have known.

It is a complex but highly readable book. It is divided into five parts, each containing two to four short chapters. The first part deals with the political maneuverings to ensure support to Seed and Agri-biz firms, the second deals with what should be widely known as 'The Rockefeller Plan', the third deals with how vertically integrated giants were readied for Washington's silent wars on planet earth, the fourth part deals with how GM seeds were unleashed on unsuspecting farmers, and the final part deals with how the elites is going on destroying food, farmers that would eventually cause mass culling of population. He does not offer any solution; he can't because it is up to the rest of the world, including Europeans and Americans, to wake up and take on these criminals head on. An essential read for anyone who eats and thinks.

The coming population bust

Thomas Malthus has been dead for 170 years, but the Malthusian fallacy - the dread conviction that the growth of human population leads to hunger, shortages, and a ravaged environment - is unfortunately alive and well:

America's congested highways are caused by "population growth wildly out of control," the group Californians for Population Stabilization laments in an ad.

In a new documentary, Britain's Prince Philip blames the rising price of food on overpopulation. "Everyone thinks it's to do with not enough food," Queen Elizabeth II's husband declares, "but it's really that demand is too great - too many people."

Overpopulation is "very serious - very, very serious," the Dalai Lama tells a crowd of 50,000 in Seattle. Somewhat inconsistently, he also proclaims that "children are the basis of our hope," and that "our future depends on them."

Like other prejudices, the belief that more humanity means more misery resists compelling evidence to the contrary. In the past two centuries, the number of people living on earth has nearly septupled, climbing from 980 million to 6.5 billion. Yet human beings today are on the whole healthier, wealthier, longer-lived, better-fed, and better-educated than ever before.

The catastrophes foretold by Malthus and his epigones - some of them in bestsellers like "The Population Bomb," which predicted that "hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now" - have never come to pass.

That is because people are not our greatest liability. They are our greatest asset - the wellspring of every quality on which human advancement depends: ambition, intuition, perseverance, ingenuity, imagination, leadership, love.

True, fewer human beings would mean fewer mouths to feed. It would also mean fewer entrepreneurs, fewer pioneers, fewer problem-solvers. Which is why it is not an increase but the coming decrease in human population that should engender foreboding.

For as Phillip Longman, a scholar of demographics and economics at the New America Foundation, observes: "Never in history have we had economic prosperity accompanied by depopulation."

And depopulation, like it or not, is just around the corner. That is the central message of a compelling new documentary, "Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family." Longman is one of numerous experts interviewed in the film, which explores the causes and effects of one of what may be the most ominous reality of 21st-century life: the fall in human birth rates almost everywhere in the world.

Human fertility has been dropping for years and is now below replacement levels - the minimum required to prevent depopulation - in scores of countries, including China, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Turkey and all of Europe.

The world's population is still rising, largely because of longer life spans - more people live to old age than in the past. But with far fewer children being born today, there will be far fewer adults bearing children tomorrow. In some countries, the collapse has already begun. Russia, for example, is now losing 700,000 people a year.

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Bishop says anyone who ignores global warming is as bad as Josef Fritzl

The Right Rev Gordon Mursell, Bishop of Stafford has said in a newsletter to parishes that anyone who does not take action to help prevent global warming is as bad as Josef Fritzl, the Austrian who kept his daughter locked in a cellar for 24 years, repeatedly raped her and had seven children by her.

Such people were, he said "in effect locking our children and grandchildren into a world with no future and throwing away the key". He added: "Josef Fritzl represents merely the most extreme form of a very common philosophy of life. I will do what makes me happy, and if that causes others to suffer, hard luck."

~ read on... ~


Bilderberger confab in United States goes unreported … again

The ultra-elite Bilderberg Group held its annual secret meeting at the sealed-off Westfields Marriott Hotel in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., June 5-8. Attendees at Bilderberger gatherings comprise the A-list of global power brokers from the worlds of politics, business, central banking, finance, and media. They also represent the top levels of membership of globalist, one-world organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Trilateral Commission, the World Economic Forum, and the Bohemian Grove.

As usual, the entire proceedings were held behind closed doors and cordons of armed personnel, including the U.S. Secret Service, local police, and private security guards. A brief press release issued by the group on June 5, stated: "The Conference will deal mainly with a nuclear free world, cyber terrorism, Africa, Russia, finance, protectionism, US-EU relations, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islam and Iran. Approximately 140 participants will attend, of whom about two-thirds come from Europe and the balance from North America. About one-third is from government and politics, and two-thirds are from finance, industry, labor, education and communications. The meeting is private in order to encourage frank and open discussion."

Government officials participating in this year's secret event included General Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency; Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve System; Timothy F. Geithner, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina; and Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas. Corporate executives included representatives of Microsoft, Google, Royal Dutch Shell, Royal Bank of Scotland, Merrill Lynch & Co., Lazard Freres & Co., and Perseus LLC.

Topping the Bilderberg list was 93-year-old eminence griese David Rockefeller, reputedly the only attendee to have been at the founding 1954 meeting (at the Bilderberg Hotel in Holland, from whence the group takes its name) and all meetings since. Other longtime veterans at this year's event included former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.

Media representatives included Paul Gigot (Wall Street Journal), Donald Graham (Washington Post), Charlie Rose (PBS), and Vendeline von Bredow and Adrian Wooldridge (both from The Economist). In keeping with the vow of secrecy (known as the Chatham House rule), none of these kept "journalists" has revealed to their public audiences what transpired at the Chantilly conclave of the high and mighty.

~ The New American ~


Pictures of Insect Men: A Retrospective Analysis of the “Mimic” Trilogy

While "Mimic" has often been compared to Big Bug movies such as "Them!" and the "Alien"series (where the title creatures have many insect-like traits, such as exoskeletons, a parasitic reproductive cycle, and a hive social structure), they actually have more in common with the "The Fly" (1958) — along with its 1986 remake and their various sequels — when it comes to the narrative and visual themes of insect and human worlds suddenly fusing together in haphazard, disfigured arrangements that are horrifying, preposterous and tragic in equal measures.

For example, the title monster of the original "Fly" movie is somewhat like the Judas Breed, in the sense that both are genetically-spliced, underground-dwelling, human-sized monsters who hide their insect identities behind awkward, makeshift masks. There are parallels between the classic scene in "The Fly," when Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens) pulls the hood away from her husband's head only to see the enlarged face of a housefly, and in "Mimic," when Dr. Tyler suddenly sees a full-sized Judas Breed insect unwrap itself out of its human disguise for the first time.

The "Fly"/"Mimic" connection is more evident in "Mimic 2," which is basically "The Fly" in reverse: Instead of a man becoming more like an insect, "Mimic 2″ features an insect slowly becoming more like a man. The ending of "Mimic 2," when Remi's Judas Breed admirer shows up at her front door to "date" her, is likewise very similar to the freakish imagery in "The Fly" movies.

Insect Irony

If the "Mimic" movies have anything in ample supply, it's irony — most obviously in the creation and development of the Judas Breed themselves. Created as bugs that could "fool" real cockroaches for the purpose of killing them, they then mutated into something that can "fool" people for a similar predatory purpose. Likewise, with their original intent as a solution to Strickler's Disease, the Judas Breed put a new ironic spin on the term "superbug," a term coined to describe an infectious bacterium that is antibiotic-resistant.

In each "Mimic" film, there is an ironic yet parallel connection between the human protagonists and the Judas Breed:

  • In "Mimic," even though Dr. Tyler saved countless children through her research and her scientific offspring of genetically modified insects have become much more fertile than she intended, she herself is unable to conceive a child with her husband, Dr. Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam).
  • In "Mimic 2," Remi cannot find a boyfriend who understands her but nevertheless cannot shake the sexual designs of a male Judas Breed insect — a suitor that Remi understands better than her human suitors because of her background in entomology. This plot of cross-species attraction is an extension of both the Judas Breed's transgenic creation and the fertility/infertility theme from the first movie. Remi's habit of taking photos of her own face when she is dumped is also paralleled in the lone Judas Breed's ability to attach the faces of its victims — the same people who dumped Remi — to its exoskeleton for better mimicry of people.
  • In "Mimic 3," Marvin survives Strickler's Disease only to become an asthmatic bubble boy stuck in his room, while the very things that ended the Stricker's epidemic are freely roaming the streets and systematically slaughtering Marvin's neighbors[4].

Another recurring irony in the "Mimic" movies (which echoes the aforementioned Darpa cyborg insect surveillance technology project) is photography. The films' protagonists use photography to identify the presence of the Judas Breed menace. This theme complements the Judas Breed's capability for deception, that the human eye cannot be trusted to identify such well-hidden threats. However, the characters' reliance on photography to find the monsters also indicates that technology is more adept at noticing environmental problems than humans. In other words, humans are so far removed from the natural world that we need technology to identify when our technology wreaks havoc with nature.

Plot details aside, the pervasive ironies in the "Mimic" series allows for commentary on several real issues:

Genetic Modification: While the "Mimic" monsters in reviews and plot summaries are referred to as "giant cockroaches," the Judas Breed are a hybrid of cockroaches, preying mantises and termites; to use real-world terminology, the Judas Breed are genetically modified organisms (GMOs), particularly one of a transgenic variety. The plot device of elaborate, inter-species genetic splicing is supposed to give plausibility to the Judas Breed's later changes in size and shape, as if to say that humanity's tampering with the genetic code of several insect breeds somehow (to use firearms terminology) took the safety off of nature's mandated order of gradual mutation and evolution.

The notion that genetic tampering could result in uncontrollable dangers is further emphasized in the first "Mimic" film when it is mentioned that the Judas Breed were supposed to self-terminate shortly after they fulfilled their purpose — thus limiting their environmental impact to only the cockroaches that served as a vector for the propagation of Strickler's Disease — but instead propagated out of control.

In the real world, the methodology of creating self-terminating GMOs is known as terminator technology, or Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT). This method was devised for genetically modified plants, which causes second generation seeds to be sterile. GURT is used to ensure that genetically modified plants do not mix their genes with other plants, which could threaten the biodiversity of local ecosystems and cause complications between food and non-food crops.

However, where the "Mimic" films represent incompetent genetic science in the form of giant, predatory insects, concerns over genetically modified plants suggest horrors of a different sort. Critics of agricultural GMOs fear that genetically modified plants could share their terminating genes with local plant life, thus endangering the local ecosystems and other farms with infertile plant life.

Furthermore, the widespread usage of infertile, genetically modified plants and patenting them as intellectual property has infringed upon the food autonomy of smaller farms, indigenous peoples, and entire rural communities, thus making them subservient and exclusively dependent upon agro-industry for new seed.

Another twist on the relationship between the "Mimic" films and real genetic research is in the area of fertility. According to the films, when the terminator technology failed in the transgenic Judas Breed GMOs, they started reproducing at a rate so rapid that they evolved into giant, predatory horrors during the short span of three years. In contrast, for as much as genetically modified crops have been promoted as being capable producing higher yields than non-genetically modified crops, research has indicated that the opposite is true.

International Environmental Issues: In the sequels, unidentified foreign characters seek to acquire Judas Breed eggs or larvae for nefarious yet unspecified purposes. In contrast, the U.S. government is portrayed as being ready to spring into action to exterminate Judas Breed infestations whenever one is identified. This dichotomy is an ironic reflection of modern politics, where America is one of the largest polluters in the world and has a record (particularly under the current Bush administration) of under-funding or directly hindering the EPA, the NIH, the FDA, NASA, the USDA, and the CPSC in dealing with environmental and consumer safety issues such as food poisoning, bioterrorism, and global warming. The relocation of the Judas Breed to foreign countries also hints at the environmental issue of invasive species, where foreign species are brought into new environments by humans and thus ruining indigenous ecosystems.

Anti-Vaccination Fears: By intertwining the creation and existence of the Judas Breed with Strickler's Disease — as well as making children frequent victims of the giant insects in all three films — bears symbolic similarities to recent efforts by the anti-vaccination movement. In other words, scientific solutions designed to protect children from disease that in turn endangers them is the underlying premise of the both "Mimic" trilogy and anti-vaccination paranoia. In a peculiar twist, the MMR (mumps-measles-rubella) vaccine has been accused of promoting autism, while the only child who survives a close encounter with the Judas Breed in the first "Mimic" film is obviously autistic.

On a deeper level of irony, director Guillermo del Toro uses Christian imagery throughout the first film to argue that scientists "shouldn't play God" in spite of their efforts to fight a child-killing disease[5] (as if the term "Judas Breed," a name given to monsters that specialize in lethal deception, weren't enough of a hint); in contrast, some people actually use religion as a reason to either exempt their children from vaccinations or to justify denying them medical treatment.

Unfortunately, just as Del Toro does not specify in his film when science actually should intervene in the natural order to save lives (you'd think he'd be more sympathetic to the Dr. Tyler character for all of the lives she saved as the result of her work[6]), parents who refuse to immunize or give proper medical care to their children for religious reasons have not offered any remedies to when children die as the result of such beliefs.

Urbanization and Species Displacement: While the underclass are usually the victims of the urban-dwelling Judas Breed monsters, many animals have been reported raiding dumpsters in large cities. Some animals normally thought of as wild (such as raccoons and monkeys in India) have become "urban wildlife," animals that are extremely adept at adjusting their behavior to exist in large cities — essentially, the real-world Judas Breeds.

The supreme irony that permeates the "Mimic" trilogy is that the genetically-engineered bugs are much better suited to survive and thrive in filthy, disease-ridden urban environments than the people who built and live in them. In a biological sense, New York City is more of a home to the Judas Breed than its human inhabitants, suggesting that it is humanity that will be displaced from the world of its own making.

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The Coming Apocalypse according to Dan Deacon and Devo’s Gerald V. Casale

Gerald V. Casale: The present surpasses my darkest-held ideas about the future. Weird would be better than what it is: depressing and stupid. Despite any high-hoping message of better days ahead, it's way too late to fix what is broken. The kernel of decency inside much of the human species is no match for the sheer volume of evil, both intentional and otherwise, unleashed upon the masses in present culture. The very ideas of freedom and equality are being eroded both philosophically and by environmental crises resulting from overpopulation and corrupt government. Corporate Feudal control backed by military regimes will eventually become the norm. The earth will become so sick soon that it will regurgitate the shit back on to the humans who put it there in the first place.

Dan Deacon: I guess it depends on how deep into the future we look. I agree that there are way too many people and that the proper infrastructure to support them isn't and will never be there. I also agree that we are entering into a new Dark Age, far worse than the current imbalance between the elite and the masses.

I think companies like Monsanto, Blackwater, Microsoft, etc. and organizations like Federal Reserve Bank, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, etc. have mapped out the future, and I'm sure it involves about five billion less people alive on earth. But as evil and sinister as these human-corporate monsters are, they have always tried to alter nature and ultimately failed. If we look deeper into the future we'll see a world free from the torments of human domination. If we look at industrialized civilization as the fire and the earth as the forest that is consumes, I think we will see a new forest growing from our ashes.

What has influenced these future-negative ideas for the two of you?
GVC: Besides copious helpings from 30 years of anecdotal observation, people far more intelligent and disciplined than myself have been clearly warning us in non-fiction and in fiction regarding what was in store for a species attempting to avoid living in harmony with nature and refusing to regulate itself. Bush and his unholy junta had been predicted as far back as Orwell. B.F. Skinner's experiments in behavioral psychology and Wittengstein's musings on the atrophy of reason lent scientific weight to the worst dreams of fiction writers. From there, semiotics and postmodern deconstruction mapped the social and physical evidence of de-evolution.

DD: "Conspiracy" theory culture has always been a major influence for me. I guess I first got into thinking about the controlled and calculated mass die off was after my mother died of cancer. I started researching the history of cancer and demography, cancer's and heart disease's role in developed nations for maintaining a minimum population growth. That opened my eyes to a lot of evils that seemed to be implemented by the power elite. The parallels between industrial and corporate growth and the rates of human suffering seem too glowing and obvious to not see. Most recently "Ruled by Secrecy" by Jim Marrs and the recently made video "Zeitgeist" on Google video have really changed the way view system and patterns in society and media.
How do these ideas find expression in your music (not just via the word content of music, but maybe music technology as well [...Dan]), or does it?
GVC: Computers and digital software programs have not resulted in a higher percentage of good songs to bad songs. That percentage is a constant of the limits of human creativity. The sound choices have increased exponentially as a result of new technology, but the capacity for new ideas has inversely decreased. I include Devo in this equation. We did as well as we could as long as we could and at least we were so new that, while no longer ahead of our time now, we still manage to sound oddly relevant, being that De-volution is REAL.

DD: Beyond music technology, I think it's important to look at the context and setting that the music is made in. I think a lot of bands that are involved in DIY culture are focused on putting forth the vision of a sustainable and scavenger-based society; living in and performing in old factories or warehouses, building your own equipment, eating out of supermarket dumpsters, using society's wastes as the fertilizer for new art and ultimately new life. Experimental, noise-influenced pop music attempts to expand the boundaries of what pop music is and what it can do. Major-label pop culture is extremely similar to a rotting post-industrial city. Both of them provide the framework for new radical ideas to grow in. Even an expensive show like this, that the article is promoting, is in an old, broken down pool, a relic from when the city had a greater investment in the comfort of its inhabitants.

'This grim, ominous and sobering admonition will likely not go unnoticed in Washington'

 My last stop on this would be Bilderberger tour is a very public meeting in Montreal, Canada. The striking thing about this event is that the list of participants is made up of some of those secretive and cabalistic Bilderbergers. Among those who addressed the business and corporate elite of Canada where Henry Kissinger, Charlie Rose and Paul Volker.

I listened most intently to Kissinger's address.

"The rise of China and India brings about a shift in the international system," said Kissinger, a former US secretary of state and noble peace prizewinner. To cast China as a rival to American interests, as happened with the Soviet Union, would in his sagacious view be a "very dangerous approach." He warned the captivated audience: if Sino-US relations are polarized further, "We will do to each other what the Europeans did to themselves."

Arrests for war resistance increase again

There have been over 15,000 arrests for resistance to war since 2002. There were large numbers right after the run up to and invasion of Iraq. Recently, arrests have begun climbing again. Though arrests are a small part of anti-war organizing, their rise is an indicator of increasing resistance.

The information comes from the Nuclear Resister, a newsletter that has been reporting detailed arrest information on peace activists and other social justice campaigns since 1980. Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa, publishers of the Nuclear Resister, document arrests by name and date based on information collected from newspapers across the country and from defense lawyers and peace activists.

Since 2002, the Nuclear Resister has documented anti-war arrests for protestors each year:

2002 – 1800 arrests
2003 – 6072 arrests
2004 – 2440 arrests
2005 – 975 arrests
2006 – 950 arrests
2007 – 2272 arrests
2008 – 810 as of May 1

"Arrests for resistance to war are far more widespread geographically than most people think," according to Cohen-Joppa of Nuclear Resister. "Yes, there are many arrests in DC and traditional big cities of anti-war activity — like San Francisco, NYC and Chicago, but there have also been anti-war arrests in Albany, Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bangor, Bath, Bend, Brentwood, Burlington, Campbell, Cedar Rapids, Chapel Hill, Charlottesville, Chicopee, Colorado Springs, Denver, Des Moines, East Hampton, Erie, Eugene, Eureka, Fairbanks, Fairport, Fort Bragg, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Great Dismal Swamp, Hammond, Huntsville, Joliet, Juneau, Kennebunkport, La Crosse, Los Angeles, Madison, Manchester, Memphis, Newark, Northbrook, Olympia, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Portland, Portsmouth, Providence, Richmond, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Fe, Smithfield, Springfield, St. Louis, St. Paul, Staten Island, Superior, Syracuse, Tacoma, Toledo, Tucson, Tulsa, Vandenberg, Virginia
Beach, Wausau, Wheaton and Wilmington just to name a few."

"In fact," notes Cohen-Joppa, "in 2007, anti-war arrests were reported during 250 distinct events in 105 cities in 35 states and the District of Columbia. So far in 2008, arrests have been reported at 65 events in 43 different cities in 19 states and D.C."

An example of the scope of resistance can be found in the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence. They joined with other major peace groups like CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, and the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance in early 2007 to launch The Occupation Project, a campaign of resistance aimed at ending the Iraq War. Theirs was a campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to end funding for the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq. The Occupation Project resulted in over 320 arrests in spring of 2007 in the offices of 39 U.S. Representatives and Senators in 25 states.

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Who needs cash? Barter can be better than buying

With unemployment up, home values down and other prices rising, consumers aren't so confident. So instead of pulling out their wallets, many are turning to the age-old business of bartering to get what they need or simply want.

"The economy right now really kind of stinks, and it costs more for a lot of things," said Psyck, 36, of St. Paul. "If you can barter something that you have for something you're looking for, it saves you money."

Bartering on Craigslist has grown substantially during the economic downturn. There were 126,710 listings in the barter category last month -- up 80 percent compared with May 2006.

In Minnesota, bartering is up 77 percent over the same period, with 3,531 barter listings in May.

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Group plans to send letters to troops in Iraq on how U.S. government planned 9/11

U.S. troops serving in Iraq may be getting more letters during mail call, but they won't be care packages — one group is sending them letters and DVDs claiming 9/11 was an "inside job" and that they should rethink why they're fighting.

Mark Dice, founder of The Resistance, which he calls a media watchdog group, says that the U.S. government was responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and that the armed forces should know it.

"People want the facts. The Marines are hungry for the truth — what got them there [in Iraq], why are they risking their lives — and we're going to help them understand that," he told FOX News.

Dice plans to send letters and declassified government documents that he says can prove the government's responsibility for the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people — and he's urging others to do the same.

But not everyone is thrilled that troops on the front lines may be bombarded by mail from Dice, a conspiracy theorist who believes that Freemasons worship Satan and that "the United States military has built enormous underground cities for the political elite."

"These letters will end up in the toilet or on the firing range," said Capt. Pete Hegseth, executive director of Vets for Freedom and a veteran of the Iraq War. "They just laugh off this kind of stuff."

~ read on... ~


At UN, Sachs defends Monsanto and Terminator seeds, praises pharmaceutical industry and patents

Monsanto, the subject of protests throughout India and much of the developing world for its use of so-called death or single-use seeds, has a defender it emerges in the UN system, Jeffrey Sachs. Following a June 20 talk extolling the virtual of genetically modified food, Sachs was asked by Inner City Press about a counter-example, that of Monsanto and its death seeds, which are sterile so that farmers have to continue buying from Monsanto for each and every crop. "That never happened," Sachs said. "That's a story from a long long time ago, but it showed the reputational challenges. It became a massive issue at the time."

But even a cursory news search finds that the issues of Monsanto and terminator seeds continue to this day. Only last year, Monsanto's acquisition of Delta and Pine Land Company was protested to the U.S. Justice Department because it would "threaten farmers in developing countries by giving Monsanto control of DPL's 'Terminator' technology. Terminator plants produce sterile seeds that cannot be saved and replanted, forcing farmers to buy fresh seed every year." Chemical Food News, February 26, 2007.

Monsanto itself has argued against farmers' rights to "save and replant" seeds. The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (Summer 2007) notes a full-page advertisement that Monsanto took out in Farm Journal stating that

"It takes millions of dollars and years of research to develop the biotech crops that deliver superior value to growers. And future investment in biotech research depends on companies' ability to share in the added value created by these crops. Consider what happens if growers save and replant patented seed. First, there is less incentive for all companies to invest in future technology, such as me development of seeds with traits that produce higher-yielding, higher-value and drought-tolerant crops."

Sachs seems to have bought Monsanto's logic. Three times he cited "drought-tolerant crops" as justifying bio-agriculture. But as quoted in the Daily Mail on June 20, Professor Ossama El-Tayeb of Cairo University, condemns "big business" for claiming that "GM crops will alleviate poverty soon, while currently available ones mostly contribute negatively to poverty alleviation and food security, and positively to the stock market."

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Lucio, The Good Bandit: Reflections of an Anarchist

Written by Marie Trigona    Thursday, 05 June 2008
Lucio Urtubia could be described as a modern day Robin Hood, a man who stole from the rich to give to the poor. Lucio, a 76-year old Spanish anarchist and retired bricklayer carried out bank robberies, forgeries and endless actions against capitalism. His actions helped to fund liberation movements in Europe, the US and Latin America.

Outspoken and charismatic, Lucio speaks like a true anarchist. When asked what it means to be an anarchist, Lucio refutes the misperception of the terrorist, "The anarchist is a person who is good at heart, responsible." Yet he makes no apologies for the need to destroy the current social order, "it's good to destroy certain things, because you build things to replace them."

Lucio Urtubia

Lucio has old friends in the Southern Cone. Funds from the forgery operatives helped hundreds from revolutionary organizations exile and finance clandestine actions against the bloody dictatorships which disappeared ten thousands of activists, students and workers during the 1970's throughout Latin America. In Uruguay, funds from falsified Citibank travelers' checks funded the guerilla group Tupamaros, in the US the Black Panthers and other revolutionary groups throughout Europe.

During his recent visit to South America, Lucio stayed at the worker run BAUEN Hotel in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires. He was astounded by the accomplishments of the workers without bosses. At the BAUEN hotel, workers are putting into practice workers autogestíon or self-management. Self-management has been a mainstay of anarchist thought since the birth of capitalism. Rather than authority – obey relationship between capitalists and workers, self-management implies that workers put into practice an egalitarian system in which people collectively decide, produce and control their own destinies for the benefit of the community. But for such a system to work, participants have to be hard working and responsible, one of the most important attributes a man or woman should have according to Lucio. "The anarchist movement was built by workers. Without work we can't talk about self-management, to put self-management into practice we need to know how to do things, to work. It's easy to be bohemian."

Lucio explains that his anarchism is based in his poor childhood in fascist Spain. "My anarchist origins are rooted in my experience growing up in a poor family. My father was leftist, had gone to jail because he wanted the automony of the Basque country. For me that's not revolution, I'm not nationalist. With nationalism humanity has committed a lot of mistakes. When my father got out of jail he became a socialist. We suffered a lot. I went to look for bread and the baker wouldn't give it to me, because we didn't have money. For me poverty enriched me, I didn't have to make any effort to lose respect for the establishment, the Church, private property and the State."

In Spain, fascism persevered 30 years after the end of World War II. Hundreds were placed in jail for resisting the Franco dictatorship. Anthropologists have estimated that from the onset of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 to Franco's death in November 1975, Franco's Nationalists killed between 75,000 and 150,000 supporters of the Republic.

Lucio exiled to France where he discovered anarchism. He had deserted the nationalist army and escaped to France. Paris in the 1960's was a bourgeoning city for anarchist intellectuals, organizers and guerillas in exile. It was there that Lucio met members from the anarcho-syndicalist trade union, Confederación Nacional de Trabajo (CNT). He was anxious to participate.

During his early years in France, Lucio met Francisco Sabate, the legendary anarchist and guerilla extraordinaire. At this time Sabate, otherwise known by his nickname "El Quico" was the most sought after anarchist by the Franco regime. French police were also looking for Sabate, who led resistance against Franquismo. "When I met Quico, I was participating in the Juventud Libertarias. They asked me if I could help Sabate, me an ignorant, I didn't know who he was." Sabate used Lucio's house as a hide out. The young Lucio, listened to Sabate's tales of direct action and absorbed whatever wisdom he had to offer, like methods for sniffing out infiltrators. "I met guerillas that put me on the road to direct action and expropriations. Sabate taught me to lose respect for private property."

It was then that Lucio began participating in bank robberies. "There are no bigger crooks than the banks," says Lucio in the defense of expropriation. "[This was the] only means the anarchist had, without funding from industry or government representatives to fund them. The money was sent to those suffering from Franco's regime." Student organizations and worker organizations received the funds to carry out grass roots organizing. In other cases the money was used for the guerilla actions against Franco's regime, such as campaigns for the release of political prisoners in the nationalist jails.

To save the lives of exiles, Lucio thought of a master plan to falsify passports so Spanish nationals could travel. "Passports for a refugee means being able to escape the country and lead safe lives elsewhere," he explains. Not only in Europe but in the US and South America, dissidents used false ID's to lead their lives and direct actions.

In 1977, Lucio's group began forging checks as a direct form to finance resistance. Lucio was essentially the "boss" of the operation—he made, distributed and cashed the checks. The checks were harder to falsify than counterfeit bills. Lucio thought they should target the largest banking institution in the world, National City Bank. The distribution of the checks went to different subversive groups who used the funds to finance solidarity actions. Lucio explains that "no one got rich" from the checks. Most of the funds went to the cause. All over Europe, these checks with the same code number were cashed at the same time.

Lucio's master plan cost City Bank tens of millions of dollars in forged travelers' checks. But many say a much larger sum was expropriated. City Bank was at the mercy of the forger, who had cost so much that the bank had to suspend travelers checks, ruining the holiday for thousands of tourists. At the time, people did not use check cards or credit cards. Lucio was arrested in 1980 and found with a suitcase full of the forged checks. In the meantime during Lucio's arrest, Citibank continued to receive false travelers' checks.

Citbank became worried. Representatives from the bank agreed to negotiate. Lucio would be released if he handed over the printing plates for the forged checks. The exchange was made, and Lucio became a legend for his mastermind plan. Although his life as a forger ended at 50-years-of-age, his life as an anarchist continued.

Lucio had always worked as a bricklayer. "What's helped me the most is my work, Anarchists were always workers." Lucio–bricklayer, anarchist, forger and expropriator has left a legacy like his predecessors. "People like Loise Michel, Sabate, Durruti, all the expropriators taught me how to expropriate, but not for personal gain, but how to use those riches for change." At 76-years-of-age he does not apologize for his actions. "I've expropriated, which according to the Christian religion is a sin. For me expropriations are necessary. As the revolutionaries say, robbing and expropriation is a revolutionary act as long as one doesn't benefit from it."

Marie Trigona is a writer, radio producer and filmmaker based in Argentina. Lucio is one of the most fascinating people she has met in her experience interviewing people.

~ From: Toward Freedom ~


Experts debate religion's role in American democracy

Experts in a panel butt heads Tuesday as they debated on how religious engagement in public policy should look in 21st century American democracy against the backdrop of a presidential race, where it's strange not to talk about one's faith.

The spirited discussion, which often turned intellectually fierce, pitted Dr. David Hollinger, a University of California, Berkeley, professor with expertise in religion and politics in relations to U.S. history, against Dr. Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core and an expert on the sociology of religion.

Panelists and moderator E.J. Dionne, Jr.,author of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith & Politics After the Religious Right, readily agreed that religion has an important place in the public square. What they disagreed on is how to integrate diverse religious identities into a common civic life.

Hollinger argues that anyone who proclaims his personal faith as justification for public policy decisions should be ready to defend his religious ideas in public democratic debates.

The UC Berkeley Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History adamantly believes the public has the right to scrutinize and question someone's religion if he claims it influences choices that affect the public.

"So proclaim your faith, assert its relevance to your political leadership, and then suffer no questions about its soundness," Hollinger said, referencing former Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney's speech on his Mormon faith. "Tell but don't ask? This seems to be our motto today in the public discussion of religious ideas – tell but don't ask."

"It will not do to offer religious faith as reason to vote for someone or to support a public policy and then take offense if somebody asks skeptical questions about the basis for it," he argued.

Hollinger called for "robust public debate" about religious ideas of politicians who invoke their faith to assert public policy decisions.

"One thing that might happen if we did that is that differences would emerge about which religious ideas deserves respect and which did not," the scholar speculated. "And there might be a quarrel over which religious idea has cognitive plausibility and which did not."

He pointed to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and his famous 2006 speech about faith and public policy. The Illinois senator had said "democracy demands that religiously motivated people translate their concerns into universal rather than religion-specific values. Democracy requires that their proposal be subject to argument and amenable to reason."

Based on this philosophy, Obama reasons that even if he may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, he cannot pass a law banning abortion because people of other faiths and no faith may not have the same opinion about the practice. Obama believes he can only ban a practice if it violates a universal principle held by all people.

On the other side of the debate was interfaith leader Eboo Patel, who opposes Hollinger's call for rigorous questioning of politicians' religious ideas. Instead, Patel, an Indian Muslim, advocates building a pluralistic society where people will respect each other's differences.

He strongly opposes Hollinger's "cognitive plausibility" idea, arguing that people and their deep moral values do not always fit into this framework. Rather, he believes people should respect others' religious identities just as they respect other characteristics such as race, gender, and ethnicity.

~ read on... ~


Review - Knowing, Knowledge and Beliefs

Epistemological Studies across Diverse Cultures by Myint Swe Khine (Editor)

The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought has this entry:

Social epistemology. An intellectual movement of broad cross-disciplinary provenance that attempts to reconstruct the problems of epistemology once knowledge is regarded as intrinsically social. It is often seen as philosophical science policy or the normative wing of science studies. Originating in studies of academic knowledge production, social epistemology has begun to encompass knowledge in multicultural and public settings, as well as the conversion of knowledge to information technology and intellectual property.
The institutional presence of the field began with the quarterly, Social Epistemology (Taylor & Francis, 1987- ). Despite their many internal differences, social epistemologists agree on two points:

1.   classical epistemology, philosophy of science and sociology of knowledge have presupposed an idealized conception of scientific inquiry that is unsupported by the social history of scientific practices;
2.   nevertheless, one still needs to articulate normatively appropriate ends and means for science, given science's status as the exemplar of rationality for society at large.

The question for social epistemologists, then, is whether science's actual conduct is worthy of its exalted social status and what political implications follow from one's answer. Those who say "yes" assume that science is on the right track and offer guidance on whom people should believe from among competing experts, whereas those who say "no" address the more fundamental issue of determining the sort of knowledge that people need and the conditions under which it ought to be produced and distributed.

Consider these statements:

1.I didn't believe she'd slap me until she did.

2.I didn't believe it would rain, but here I am soaked to the skin.

Beliefs come in several flavors and they are fascinating entities. If you know you cannot be wrong, but if you believe you might be wrong. And yet as in the examples we can see that once she slapped me I could no longer believe that she would not. And, of course, once the rain started it would be irrational to continue to believe it was a "no rain today" day.

Epistemology has been at the centre of philosophy since Plato drew his famous line between appearance and reality. The Myth of the Cave has influenced our world view for 2,500 years. One thing we learn from examples like the above is that beliefs, like perceptions, have a mind-to-world fit. Belief that P is a necessary condition for knowing that P. But what else is required? Is knowledge equivalent to justified true belief? Philosophers wrestle with these epistemological complexities, looking for Gettier-like counter-examples to the justified true belief theory.

In the meantime, over in another area of academe, social scientists are gathering empirical evidence about beliefs by doing research in epistemological studies across diverse cultures. According to some writers, social epistemology should retain the same general mission as classical epistemology, revamped in the recognition that classical epistemology was too individualistic. According to other writers, social epistemology should be a more radical departure from classical epistemology, a successor discipline that would replace epistemology as traditionally conceived.  Perhaps the first use of the phrase "social epistemology" appears in the writings of a library scientist, Jesse Shera, who in turn credits his associate Margaret Egan. "[S]ocial epistemology," says Shera, "is the study of knowledge in society…. The focus of this discipline should be upon the production, flow, integration, and consumption of all forms of communicated thought throughout the entire social fabric" (1970: 86). [See:]

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How to avoid cons that can lead to identity theft

The most common form of social engineering is called phishing, a one-two punch using both email and Web browsing to trick people into typing confidential information into Web sites that look like the sites of real companies, especially financial institutions. But these phishing sites are actually skillfully designed fakes that transmit your sensitive data to criminals, often in distant countries. Once these creeps have your passwords and account numbers, they can loot your funds and steal your identity.

Here are some tips to help you avoid being the victim of social engineering, updated from a similar column I wrote in 2006. It includes information on some antiphishing software that wasn't available back then. But remember: Security software alone can't save you from scams.

1. Never, ever click on a link embedded in an email that appears to come from a financial institution, even if it's your own bank or brokerage and even if it looks official right down to the logo. The same goes for payment or auction services, like PayPal or eBay. Don't do this even if the email asserts that your account has a problem, or that the bank has to verify your information. And certainly don't enter any passwords, Social Security numbers or account numbers directly in an email.

These types of emails are almost always fakes, and the links they contain almost always lead to phony Web sites run by criminals. The only exception might be a confirmation email from a brokerage firm concerning a trade you know you made minutes before. Even legitimate-looking addresses in emails or in the address bar of Web browsers can be fakes that hide the crooks' true Web addresses. The lock icon on a Web site can also be falsified.

If you are truly worried about your account, call the bank or company, or go to its Web site by manually typing in its address or by using a well-established bookmark in your browser that you created yourself.

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Last beer with mom

Of all of my beer accomplices, I never tried to convert mom to craft beer, although I'd waged war with countless others on the same subject. But she always took inordinate interest in my musings about interesting beers I'd discover, or rather, she'd discover for me in the little-yet-big world of Denver, Colorado that surrounded her. Denver is one of the defining beer communities in the world, after all, and she felt that it was important to share and forever bait me closer.

The last time I visited, I awoke one morning to a Rocky Mountain News clipping on the breakfast table. A new liquor store had opened in the area and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it was the biggest in the world. She told me how to get there.

When Hunter S. Thompson passed, she pointed out that Flying Dog Brewing Company, an indigenous Denver brewery, celebrated his passing with four-packs of Gonzo Imperial Porter. She was the first to point it out. And she reminded me that I'd tucked away some 22 ounce bombers in her basement over a decade ago when another local brewery celebrated his literary successes by brewing a beer in his honor. Again, I don't remember the beer, but I guess when I go down to help bury her, I'll rediscover the moment when I paw through her past and re-ignite shared moments in beer. \

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Hunter S. Thompson and Converse

Then: "Gonzo journalist" Hunter S. Thompson was a fan of Converse. His image appears in the company's new "Connectivity" anniversary ad campaign alongside James Dean, the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious, hip-hop artist M.I.A. and others.

Now: Ellen DeGeneres dances in Chuck Taylors on her talk show and on the red carpet. Other stars frequently seen in Converse: Johnny Knoxville, Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood and Ellen Page.

~ From: Converse: One hundred years young ~


The haunting of the Democrats

We've all seen this movie before, whether we realize it or not. If we're not quite sure how it's going to end, the characters and situations all seem strangely familiar. Beginning with the debacle of 1968, every Democratic campaign for four decades has followed pretty much the same template, even if the labels have shifted with the tide. The quadrennial conflict between liberals and moderates, outsiders and insiders, let's-win-an-election realists and let's-save-our-party dreamers -- supply your own dichotomy here -- reflects the fatal uncertainty of a political party that lacks any clear constituency or ideological focus. Even as the Democratic Party encompasses the views of a plausible majority of the population, its unresolved internal struggles have time and again undermined its ability to win elections or (when it happens to stumble to victory) to govern effectively.

To get specific, the 2008 Obama-Clinton contest offers eerie echoes of two of the most traumatic -- and defining -- campaigns of recent Democratic history. Neither of them is likely to give party faithful the nostalgic warm fuzzies. First, and most explosive, there's the comparison increasingly drawn on the right (and lately among a handful of Democrats) between Obama and Sen. George McGovern, who played the paradigm-shaping role of reformist outsider in 1972. Of course it's meant to be a toxic metaphor, suggesting that Obama is a dewy-eyed Pied Piper leading his followers into a November electoral catastrophe. Let's set that silliness aside right now. Whoever the Democrats nominate will not be facing a popular incumbent but an awkward Republican nominee who has embraced an unpopular war and remains unloved by his own party's base. One should never underestimate the Democratic ability to lose elections, but ain't nobody carrying 49 states this fall.

Get past that, though, and the McGovern parallels are seductive. The South Dakota senator was a heartland American from central casting -- a preacher's kid turned decorated bomber pilot turned Methodist minister. McGovern was far from the most leftward candidate in the race, which in its early stages included antiwar veteran Eugene McCarthy and black New York congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. As Hunter S. Thompson describes the field in his legendary "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," McGovern initially appeared earnest, sincere and not especially ideological. Many left-wing activists saw him as too mainstream (a charge that was not much heard later). But his left-populist views, notably the fact that he had opposed an unpopular foreign war almost from its inception, meant that he began his long-shot 1972 campaign supported by a burgeoning nationwide network of young, liberal volunteers.

In early primary and caucus states, it was McGovern's superior ground-level organization that ambushed Sen. Edmund Muskie, the Establishment-backed, well-funded front-runner. In fact, McGovern and his campaign manager (a young man named Gary Hart, about whom more later), often credited as the men who put the Iowa caucuses on the political media map, devised a strategy to win them based on a committed core of activists rather than a broad base of support.

Muskie was widely seen as more experienced, more responsible and more electable, but was also widely loathed by younger and more liberal voters because of his views and voting history on -- yes -- a controversial overseas war. To coin a phrase, Muskie was for the Vietnam War before he was against it. As the running mate of the 1968 Democratic nominee, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Muskie had kept silent while Humphrey struggled to justify Lyndon Johnson's massively unpopular escalation of the war. By 1972 everyone in American politics (including incumbent Richard Nixon) wanted out of Vietnam, and early in the campaign Muskie held a press conference where he apologized for his previous views and pronounced himself a born-again antiwar candidate.

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21st century human sacrifice

Côte d'Ivoire: Child Sacrifice On Rise in Election Run-Up

Child abduction, which is already a serious problem in Cote d'Ivoire, may worsen in the run up to presidential elections later this year as political hopefuls using traditional myths of human sacrifice to improve their electoral chances will fuel an already significant market for stolen children, according to the Ivorian police.

"[Child abduction] is something that needs urgent attention especially in the run-up to the election because a lot of things are going to happen like human sacrifices and other rituals where the organs of children will be particularly in demand," said Sergeant Antoine Goua Bi, a spokesperson for the child protection unit of the Ivorian police, who says child sacrifice always increases around election times.

"The number of children disappearing in Cote d'Ivoire has already reached extremely worrying proportions," said Jean-Michel Boka, coordinator of the Ivorian non-governmental child protection organisation Roxal. "Every day we register three new cases - that adds up to between 60 and 90 cases per month."
Organ traffickers, who slice out hearts, kidneys, lungs and other body parts for sale to medical facilities and soothsayers are the main culprits, Bi said. The children are also taken to work in the sex trade, for use by illegal adoption rings, and for work on plantations, he said.

Parents' chances of getting their children back once they have disappeared is slim. Boka at the NGO Roxal estimated a recovery rate of just one in 20.
Kouassi Bâ, coordinator of the international NGO Save the Children in Korhogo, northern Cote d'Ivoire, said they are working alongside the UN Children's Agency (UNICEF) and International Labour Organization, to raise awareness against child trafficking, but that there is no specific project against child abductions.

How Rituals Aid Social Conflicts In Ghanaian Society

For example, Liberia, as much as everyone knows now, was partly destroyed by its elite's irrational appropriation of the Bawku superstitious diet - amulets, talismans, juju-marabout mediums, all sorts of mindless spiritualists in free fall, spiritualists party, human sacrifice incomprehensibly fearful rituals such as the late President Samuel Doe got involved with amulets and goat horn wrapped around his waist, bathing with the blood of virgins periodically as part of his rituals for fortification. And President Charles Taylor and other elite mired in near-mass human sacrifices, among other strange superstitions, during the 14-year civil war.

The Bawku rituals resonate Africa-wide and is so cultured in Liberia that on June 29, 2005, prior to Liberia's current democratic dispensation, its interim leader, Gyude Bryant, warned any aspiring presidential candidates tempting to boost their chances by carrying out human sacrifices that they would be executed. "If you think you can take somebody's life in order to be president, or the speaker (of parliament) or a senator, without anything being done to you, then you are fooling yourself." And the outcome is "even further backwardness," as Sakye-Addo argues of Uganda's Lord Resistance Army and the Sierra Leonean and the Liberian civil wars where human hearts were eaten for rituals. "It's all a lot of nonsense that leads to needless fighting, destruction…"

In Bawku, while the scientific side of the mind demand objective evidence as to why amulets and juju should let them commit conflicts perennially, their brains' mythopoeic, irrational amulets-juju-thinking side entice them to irrational marvels - to the believe that "an attacker's knife will fail to pierce simply by staring cross-eyed at it, they do not hesitate to start a fight. Neither are they keen to make peace in mid-battle, if they're convinced that their chest can deflect bullets and arrows once they have on some goatskin armband and they remember to yell a password," as Sakye-Addo explains.
Lindow Man was sacrificed almost 2000 years ago. He'd been bludgeoned, garrotted and had his throat cut. Satisfied he was probably dead by then, his persecutors threw his body into a bog or pool which now forms part of the Lindow area of Wilmslow.

Sacrifice such as this wasn't altogether unusual. Water carried religious significance for the Iron Age peoples in Northern Europe and it was common practice to make offerings of weapons, clothes, food and even each other, to the deities they imagined lived in water.

Human sacrifice is the best you can get in archaeology to excite an audience, save for treasure. Lindow Man's twisted body should therefore have provided a perfect centre piece to a tip-top exhibition in Manchester about the Iron Age in Britain.

Or so you'd have thought.

Sacrifice, as I argued elsewhere (Jihad, the Lord's Supper, and eternal life, Asia Times Online, September 19, 2006) is the means by which human beings approach a God who is beyond human conception. In Judaism and Christianity, divine love displaces the sacrifice so that the worshipper may live.

To achieve life beyond this world we must die to this world, by sacrificing ourselves. That is true of every religion. The religions differ only in the nature of sacrifice. As Jon Levenson showed in his study The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son, the offerings of revealed religion are sublimated human sacrifice. In Judaism and Christianity, the God spares the victim out of love, just as God provided a ram in place of the bound Isaac on Mount Moriah. Christians believe that a single human sacrifice spared the rest of humankind.

In Islam, though every man must be his own Christ. Sacrifice is not sublimated but rather demanded of each individual. That is why jihad is the central and most fundamental form of Islamic worship, the only action that ensures the believer's acceptance in the next world. The jihadi who sacrifices himself in the violent propagation of Islam goes straight to his heavenly reward.

There is no mention of jihad by any of the Ankara "revisionists", only the dry contention that perhaps the Koran's endorsement of polygamy or the veil might not necessarily apply to every place and time. Nor could there be, for by repudiating jihad, a Muslim would close off his possibility of approaching God. Traditional society closes ranks against encroachment from the outside, and this fragility explains the resurgence of political Islam.

Inmate: Assault victim chosen as 'human sacrifice'

Joey Couey says he tried to kill Matthew Hawthorne in order to found a Satanic Church upon human sacrifice, as he was "chosen to pave the way for Antichrist."

Couey, 40, already serving 60 years in prison for a second-degree murder conviction from Oklahoma County -- and five years for possessing contraband in prison -- was sentenced Monday by District Judge Tom Lucas to another 15-year prison term and five years probation after pleading guilty to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

According to reports, Couey was in an outside area of Unit 5, an inmate's living unit at Lexington Correctional Center, on Aug. 16, 2007, when correctional officers saw him throwing liquid -- later identified as bleach -- in the face of Hawthorne, 23.

Couey then pulled a "long object, wrapped in cloth, from the waistband of his pants, striking inmate Hawthorne in the head," reports say.

Officers said Hawthorne tackled Couey and lay on top of him to prevent further injury. Officers secured the inmates and placed them on investigation in a secure housing unit. Hawthorne was treated for his injuries at the medical unit of the medium-security Lexington prison, officials said.

According to a "serious incident report" written Aug. 16, 2007, by Deputy Director Bobby Boone, Couey's weapon was a piece of metal created from a ballast in a prison cell's light fixture. "It was a flat piece of metal that he had manipulated to resemble a machete and the edge was sharpened," Boone said.

In an Aug. 16, 2007, written statement, Couey said: "In the Satanic Bible, the chapter entitled 'On Selecting a Human Sacrifice' states that one should choose a victim which the killer would be 'doing society a favor by exterminating.'

"By society's standards, all of us convicts fit that bill. But my selected victim is a true maggot, a piece of (expletive deleted) who preys upon the weak (As I and people I love have been).

"My intention was/is to found my Church, the Church of the New World Order, upon a human sacrifice, as I am chosen to pave the way for Antichrist ..."
His only regret is that "I failed my mission," Couey states.

MUMBAI: A tale of black magic does not fit into this concrete jungle. But there is a hint of the supernatural in the mysterious death of Shivani Shelar, claimed her family on Tuesday.

The three-year-old girl went missing from her Wadala home on June 3. Her body, with bruises on forehead, was found on June 5 at an isolated place on the shores behind Raj Bhavan in Malabar Hill. Post mortem report ruled out rape. Motive of theft too seemed improbable as the girl's gold ear-rings were untouched.

Shivani's relatives were firm in their belief that the toddler had been a victim of human sacrifice. They suspected that she had been picked up by a tantrik, who later 'sacrificed' her to God.

"The day she went missing had been an amavasya. It is possible that she was used for human sacrifice. We want police to investigate the case from this angle," said Nana Sonawane, 31, Shivani's uncle, who works as a supervisor at a doctor's clinic.

He added that when they went to register a missing complaint at the Wadala Truck Terminal (WTT) police station on June 3, there were few other parents too, who had come with similar complaints.

In 1931 Wittgenstein spent some weeks reading James Frazer's imaginative work on myth, The Golden Bough. He objected to Frazer's attempts to explain, in rationalistic terms, such rituals as the sacrifice in ancient times of the priest-king in the sacred grove of Nemi, 20 miles from Rome. ("Those trees in whose dim shadow/ The ghastly priest doth reign,/ The priest who slew the slayer,/ And shall himself be slain," as Macaulay put it.)

"What narrowness of spiritual life we find in Frazer!" Wittgenstein exclaimed. Himself, he found the ritual at Nemi "terrible, impressive, horrible, tragic", but no different in kind from ritual actions that we might ourselves perform: the kissing of a loved one's picture, the confessing of one's sins, or Schubert's brother cutting up the composer's scores after his death to give fragments to his favourite pupils.

Such human reactions to birth, death and the natural world prompted Wittgenstein to remark: "We could almost say, man is a ceremonious animal."

This conclusion is all the more interesting because the British anthropologist Mary Douglas constructed an almost identical dictum: "As a social animal, man is a ritual animal." This comes in her book Purity and Danger, in a chapter also taking Frazer to task. "Ritual is more to society than words are to thought," she declares. Later she was to apply these ideas to such everyday matters as the foolish (as she saw it) abolition for Catholics of abstinence from meat on Fridays.

Her ideas about ritual and meaning are very much on Wittgenstein's territory. Yet Wittgenstein's remarks on Frazer were not published, I think, until 1979, and Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger came out in 1966. Of course, she could have heard by other means about his idea of man as a "ceremonious animal", though she does not mention Wittgenstein's name in the books concerned. It is too late to ask her now, as she died last year.

Wittgenstein certainly saw himself as a student of the natural history of human beings. I can't help thinking that both he and Mary Douglas were right to say that, as Wittgenstein put it: "There is something in us too that speaks in support of those observances by the savages."

Fergus Kerr concludes that perhaps "considering the execution of an innocent man is a more promising starting point for sustaining Christian theology than proving that God exists".

The Christians for National Liberation-southern Mindanao, an underground movement of revolutionary Christians, condemns the Task Force Davao-Apollo Quiboloy conspiracy in the killing of Datu Dominador Diarog in Manuel Guianga, Davao City.

Apollo Quiboloy had obviously been pleased by the Task Force Davao's fait accompli in killing Diarog. With Diarog's murder, a human sacrifice in the altar of Quiboloy's "prayer mountain" was offered before his merciless god. In doing so, Quiboloy has enlarged his estate by forcing the eviction of the true owners of the land and their future generations.

In truth, the Diarog murder has laid bare Quiboloy's deceptive and murderous character. It has unmasked Quiboloy as the false prophet of our times. For, indeed, his penchant for land and wealth projects him as the Devil luring Jesus with earthly riches, rather than as his megalomaniac delusion to being the Son of God.

Any discerning Christian can see through the falsehood of Quiboloy's claim to divinity. Quiboloy consciously uses religious obscurantism to justify his landgrabbing and self-aggrandizing schemes.

He has used the name of God in vain, in pursuit of his own vanity, turning "Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name" into a multi-million business empire. In this empire, he acts not only as the high priest but the self-appointed messiah, constantly pleased by a coterie of servants at his beck and call.

Quiboloy's personality and history is as dubious as his self-claim to being the Son of the Father. Using all deceptive methods perfected by right-wing evangelicals in the United States and dirty tricks found in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) manual in the infiltration of religion, Quiboloy's religious merchandizing grew from the low-intensity conflict at the heart of "Nicaragdao" into the thriving business that it is today.

Quiboloy will not desist from offering more human sacrifice as long as there are threats to his business interests. He has announced to unleash a 20,000-strong army "who are willing to die in his name" against the New People's Army. For the moment, the Task Force Davao is serving as his reliable mercenary army to massacre the defenseless in his name. 

During Arafat's 12 year war in Lebanon (1970 to 1982), Arafat's Palestinians used Christians as a live blood supply for his wounded Palestinians. When the Israelis drove Arafat and his Palestinians out of Lebanon, they found prisoners stacked up like cordwood in the hospitals - totally drained of their blood.

Human sacrifice from their earliest times was part of the culture of those who today are called "Arabs" and "Muslims". Granted Egypt and Iran do not consider themselves as Arabs but most of them are Muslims. In fact, the term "Aryan" is derived from the same root as "Iran".

When Israel trades hundreds of Muslim Arab prisoners who were caught (often at great risk to Israeli Jewish soldiers), tried and convicted for their crimes, they simply go back to their trade of Terror through murder in the most hideous ways conceivable.

Israel gets back bones and "body parts" but the released Terrorists return to generate more Jewish bones and "body parts".


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