Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mr Death - The rise and fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr.

Cast - Fred A Leuchter Jr - Robert Jan Van Pelt - David Irving - James Roth - Shelly Shapiro - Suzanne Tabasky - Ernst Zundel.

Directed by Errol Morris "Mr. Death" is a stylized documentary that deals with the life and work of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr., a US Federal Court qualified expert in execution technology. On the basis of his qualifications, in 1988 Leuchter was commissioned by German-Canadian publisher Ernst Zundel to conduct the first thorough forensic examination of the alleged Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland. After Leuchter testified that the alleged facilities were not -- and could not have been -- used for mass extermination, Jewish activists ruined his life.

Leuchter comes across just as straightforward and guileless on film as he is in real life. As a result, some viewers of earlier versions at the Sundance Festival, the Toronto Film Festival and Harvard University began to question the Holocaust extermination stories they'd been told, while others suspected that Morris himself might have been converted to Holocaust revisionism. At the eleventh hour, Morris re-edited the film in an effort to emphasize his anti-revisionist point of view. Character assassination aside, the question remains as to whether or not Leuchter's findings regarding the alleged Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz and Birkenau are correct.

[ Via Prisoner Solidarity ]

"Obama reminds me ... of a legendary hero from the 1930s: The Shadow"

From The Return of the Shadow by Robert Fitch

For those who missed the '90s movie re-make, starring Alec Baldwin, The Shadow first aired in 1930 as a popular radio detective show, featuring Orson Welles as Lamont Cranston, a wealthy playboy and man about town who assisted the forces of law and order.  What rendered him so valuable was his uncanny ability to cloud men's minds so that he appeared invisible.  Only his companion, the lovely Margot Lane, was aware of his secret powers.

True, Obama is anything but invisible: but like Lamont Cranston, he uses his power to cloud men's minds in the service of the established order -- in this case the FIRE industry (finance, insurance, and real estate) and particularly the shadow banking industry.  That's the complex of investment banks, hedge funds, private equity bankers, and monoline insurers whose leveraged trading, securitization, and innovative derivative products defined the great boom up until September of last year.  Since then, the value of the U.S. securities held by financial institutions has fallen by many trillions;5 and the institutions themselves have suffered a comparable loss of credibility.  A recent Harris poll showed that Wall Street's approval rate is now lower than any other institution in the U.S.  Only 4% of the American people say they have confidence in Wall Street.6  Obama and Wall Street have become a couple.  But, somehow, Obama has been able to make the bond invisible.

What I would like to argue is that, in terms of policy, personnel, and political ideology, Obama is the anti-Roosevelt.  While Obama has achieved American Idol status despite his embrace of Wall Street, FDR became a charismatic folk hero, in no small part because he defined himself as the scourge of Wall Street: Roosevelt offered himself as the leader in a fight against the "economic royalists" who, he charged, "had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor -- other people's lives."7  He shut down all the banks on the third day of his administration; days later, he took the U.S. off the gold standard shocking Wall Street's hard money men and their representative at the Fed, whose autonomy he reduced to narrow dimensions.  When Senate leaders tried to scuttle Committee Counsel Ferdinand Pecora's investigations into the causes of the crash, Roosevelt stopped them.  Pecora's hearings not only exposed Wall Street's recklessness and criminality; they demystified and even belittled the financial titans of the era -- not excluding the giant of them all J. P. Morgan, Jr. -- who raged against the breach of protocol abetted by Pecora who allowed a circus midget to jump into Morgan's lap.8  FDR responded to Morgan's concern by making Pecora head of the newly established Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC was one of the products of the Glass-Steagall Act.  Glass-Steagall vastly reduced the concentration of U.S. financial power by dividing banking into commercial and investment components, neatly splitting the House of Morgan in twain.  And reducing the investment banks' sources of capital and the commercial banks' penchant for risk.

Roosevelt knew clearly who he was taking on: "The real truth of the matter," wrote FDR in 1933 to Colonel House, "is as you and I know that a financial element in the larger cities has owned the government since the days of Andrew Jackson -- and I am not wholly excepting the Administration of Woodrow Wilson.  This country is going through a repetition of the Jackson fight with the Bank of the U.S. -- only in a far bigger and broader scale."9

In a word, FDR's goal was to save capitalism from finance capitalism; Obama's, I would suggest, is to save capitalism by saving finance capitalism.
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U.S.: NGOs oppose nearly 100-billion-dollar pledge to IMF

By Danielle Kurtzleben (IPS)

A broad coalition of civil society groups, as well as some U.S. lawmakers, is fighting what they call a "blank cheque" from the U.S. to expand funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

On May 22, the Senate passed a 91.3 billion-dollar-wartime spending bill that included 108 billion dollars for the Washington-based Fund. The bill will now have to be reconciled in a conference committee between the Senate and the House of Representatives whose own version omitted any IMF funding.

The funding was the U.S. part of a larger package agreed by the G20 leaders at their April meeting in London, where they pledged to provide 1.1 trillion dollars in additional funding to the IMF.

The goal is to boost lending to cash-strapped developing countries during the current economic crisis, which has drastically reduced the flow of private investment to emerging markets and the earnings of many poor countries that depend on their commodity exports.

Opponents of the funding are concerned about the conditions the IMF usually imposes upon low-income countries when they accept these funds, conditions which, according to many NGOs, actually do more harm than good, particularly for the most vulnerable sectors of the recipients' populations.

Typically, the IMF requires recipient countries to reduce their budget deficits and increase interest rates, both of which can produce the opposite effect of the economic stimulus the funds are meant to provide. As a result, countries have been forced to cut essential social programmes, like unemployment insurance and other safety-net mechanisms.

"It makes no sense to provide money intended to support global stimulus spending to the IMF when the IMF is demanding developing countries employ recessionary policies," says Robert Weissman, director of Essential Action, a non-profit organisation that advocates, among other things, change in what it considers to be harmful IMF and World Bank practices.

"The point of giving these crisis loans is to help countries avert those kind of contractionary policies, not to demand them as a condition on the loans," according to Weissman. "So the conditionality undermines the logical purposes of giving the loans."

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), also notes that U.S. lawmakers may not understand the broader implications of IMF policy. "A lot of them are looking at it in straight power terms. They're not looking at it as 'Does the IMF do good or harm?' but rather, 'This is a potentially powerful organisation.'"

Still, there is a push in Congress to amend the bill so that the requested funds can be used to ensure that more vulnerable groups in low-income countries will benefit. Rep. Maxine Waters of California has circulated a letter opposing the funding and currently has over 33 signatures from fellow House members. ...
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Union busting getting worse, study shows

A new five-year study reveals that private sector employer opposition to the efforts of American workers to form unions has intensified and become more punitive in recent years.

Conducted by highly-regarded labor expert and Cornell University professor Kate Bronfenbrenner, the study concludes that employers are using much more aggressive tactics -- including threats of firing, actual firings, interrogation and plant-closing threats -- in their campaigns to thwart workers' organizing efforts.  The anti-union tactics used today, compared to those of 20 years ago, include more coercive and punitive tactics designed to intensely monitor and punish union activity.

A 2007 study by Richard B. Freeman of Harvard University, cited by Bronfenbrenner, found that if all workers who wanted a union were given the opportunity to have union representation, the percentage of union-represented workers in the U.S. would be 58 percent.  Instead, only 12.4 percent are represented by unions.  Bronfenbrenner's study illuminates the reasons why, including the heavy-handed employer anti-unionism and the failures of current labor law, and a largely toothless National Labor Relations Board, to protect workers' rights to democratically choose unionism.
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Courtroom Intifada

Continuing People & Power's series of films into how some of the world's biggest corporations are facing trial, Juliana Ruhfus travels to the West Bank village of Bilin.

Villagers and protesters are taking their longstanding campaign against Israel's seperation wall to the courts.

Helped by an Israeli legal maverick [they] have now a filed a case against the international construction companies who are building the settlements.

They claim they have violated international human rights law by building on occupied land.
AlJazeeraEnglish ~

Additional info:
[PDF] Addendum to John Ruggie 2009 report – “State obligations to provide access to remedy for human rights abuses by third parties, including business: an overview of international and regional provisions, commentary and decisions”

Military Entertainment State: Zeitgeist vs the Old World Order

"This BetterBadNews episode fingers the Pentagon Joint Chiefs for secretly promoting the military entertainment state with a cast of better bad angels and demons re-negotiating a new world full disclosure agreement with Lucifer, aka Venus, the Morning Star, the Deliverer of Light. Coming Soon: TechnologIcal Elites and the Zeitgeist Addendum. Featuring James king, Geoff Geiger, Lorrie Holt, Clifford Goler and Kurt Reinhardt.

Featuring old world order masons, the illuminati, secret pentagon false flag terrorism, propaganda, false flu epidemics, hollywood movies, masonic lodges, angels, zeitgeist demons, secret, mystery, religion, satire, political humor, vaccination viruses, lucifer swine, false attacks, the military entertainment state and the sound predictive programing design of new media guru, Teresa Malaga."

R.S.S.S.H.G. - The Random Stump Speech Synopsis Haiku Generator


"R.S.S.S.H.G. is the hottest new SLA (six-letter acronym) on the political landscape. Here's why:

Who is not weary unto death of the traditional campaign speech, a seemingly unending, tedious, banal recitation of tawdry clichés, platitudes, and self-indulgent tripe?

The Stump Speech Synopsis Haiku Generator is the solution. Why listen to 48 minutes of the same old jargon, when you can create a complete, pithy, one-size-fits-all synopsis of any campaign speech in only seventeen syllables with a single click, and not one important detail omitted.

As an added bonus, the dreaded Campaign Speechwriter has been rendered obsolete, having been replaced by this handy, nonpartisan, cogent and pithy entity, the Random Stump Speech Synopsis Haiku Generator.

Granted, years of CNN-induced desensitization may cause one to lose one's concentration before reading all the way through to the end of many of these 17-syllable speeches, causing them to appear as gibberish. But surprisingly frequently, say one out of ten times, a clearly outlined political platform will rear its familiar, wretched head.

Use the Floating Synopsis link to create a small, floating window that will grace your desktop with a new, bipartisan Presidential or Congressional campaign speech synopsis, ringing with sincerity and dedication, every 30 seconds."

Link to the Random Stump Speech Synopsis Haiku Generator

Hercules still struggling to complete 13th labor

Satire from The Onion:

Stating that he had not yet fulfilled the labors set forth by Eurystheus to the satisfaction of the Mycenaean king, mythic hero Hercules announced Monday that for the 35th time in 3,000 years he will run for Greensboro City Council.

While many are familiar with the 12 labors of Hercules, it is not as widely known that the Greek demigod failed to successfully complete his sixth task, killing the man-eating, bronze-winged birds of Stymphalus. Though his arrows slew many of the feathered beasts, several escaped, and as a result, Hercules was given a 13th labor to complete before he could know peace.

"I must pay penance for the murder of my wife and children," Hercules said. "So spoke the Oracle at Delphi. And to do so, King Eurystheus, servant of Hera and my most loathed cousin, has decreed that I must be justly elected to the City Council of Greensboro, District 2, currently held by Goldie Wells."

To complete his new task, Hercules first had to wait several millennia for the New World to be discovered and colonized, for democratic ideals to flourish during the Age of Enlightenment, and for the United States be founded and win its independence. He then had to move to North Carolina, become a naturalized citizen, and wait until the town of Greensboro was incorporated in 1829. When this was done, he established residency in the fledgling town and waited an additional 100 years for the second district to take form, at which point he began his numerous campaigns.

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Italian trial of CIA agents will continue, judge rules

Reporting from Milan, Italy, and Madrid - The landmark trial of American and Italian spies accused of abducting an Egyptian cleric in Milan will continue, a judge ruled Wednesday, rejecting a defense bid to end the proceedings.

The decision was a victory for prosecutors pursuing the first trial to examine the so-called rendition process, in which the CIA allegedly abducted suspects abroad and sent them to third countries for harsh interrogation. But the ruling benefits two former Italian spy chiefs because it upholds a Constitutional Court judgment in March excluding evidence on the grounds of state secrecy.

"The most important thing is the fact that the trial goes on, but it's clear that the court ruling has imposed some surgical cuts," said Armando Spataro, the lead prosecutor, in an interview. "We will have to see, due to the limitations that have been imposed, which part of the interrogations we will be able to use."

Judge Oscar Magi ruled that state secrecy laws limited the use of evidence about contacts between the CIA and Italy's spy agency, then known as the SISMI. Magi also cited state secrecy in rejecting requests for the testimony of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his predecessor, whose governments have tried repeatedly to scuttle the prosecution.

The American defendants consist of 25 known or suspected CIA operatives -- among them former chiefs in Italy -- and an Air Force colonel. They are being tried in absentia.

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Of microbes and mock attacks: Years ago, the military sprayed germs on U.S. cities

Fifty-one years ago, Edward J. Nevin checked into a San Francisco hospital, complaining of chills, fever and general malaise. Three weeks later, the 75-year-old retired pipe fitter was dead, the victim of what doctors said was an infection of the bacterium Serratia marcescens.

Decades later, Mr. Nevin's family learned what they believe was the cause of the infection, linked at the time to the hospitalizations of 10 other patients. In Senate subcommittee hearings in 1977, the U.S. Army revealed that weeks before Mr. Nevin sickened and died, the Army had staged a mock biological attack on San Francisco, secretly spraying the city with Serratia and other agents thought to be harmless.

The goal: to see what might happen in a real germ-warfare attack. The experiment, which involved blasting a bacterial fog over the entire 49-square-mile city from a Navy vessel offshore, was recorded with clinical nonchalance: "It was noted that a successful BW [biological warfare] attack on this area can be launched from the sea, and that effective dosages can be produced over relatively large areas," the Army wrote in its 1951 classified report on the experiment.

Now, with anthrax in the mail and fear mounting of further biological attacks, researchers are again looking back at the only other time this country faced the perils of germ warfare – albeit self-inflicted. In fact, much of what the Pentagon knows about the effects of bacterial attacks on cities came from those secret tests conducted on San Francisco and other American cities from the 1940s through the 1960s, experts say.

"We learned a lot about how vulnerable we are to biological attack from those tests," says Leonard Cole, adjunct professor of political science at Rutgers University in New Jersey and author of several books on bioterrorism. "I'm sure that's one reason crop dusters were grounded after Sept. 11: The military knows how easy it is to disperse organisms that can affect people over huge areas."

In other tests in the 1950s, Army researchers dispersed Serratia on Panama City, Fla., and Key West, Fla., with no known illnesses resulting. They also released fluorescent compounds over Minnesota and other Midwestern states to see how far they would spread in the atmosphere. The particles of zinc-cadmium-sulfide – now a known cancer-causing agent – were detected more than 1,000 miles away in New York state, the Army told the Senate hearings, though no illnesses were ever attributed to them as a result.

Another bacterium, Bacillus globigii, never shown to be harmful to people, was released in San Francisco, while still others were tested on unwitting residents in New York, Washington, D.C., and along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, among other places, according to Army reports released during the 1977 hearings.

In New York, military researchers in 1966 spread Bacillus subtilis variant Niger, also believed to be harmless, in the subway system by dropping lightbulbs filled with the bacteria onto tracks in stations in midtown Manhattan. The bacteria were carried for miles throughout the subway system, leading Army officials to conclude in a January 1968 report: "Similar covert attacks with a pathogenic [disease-causing] agent during peak traffic periods could be expected to expose large numbers of people to infection and subsequent illness or death."

Army officials also found widespread dispersal of bacteria in a May 1965 secret release of Bacillus globigii at Washington's National Airport and its Greyhound bus terminal, according to military reports released a few years after the Senate hearings. More than 130 passengers who had been exposed to the bacteria traveling to 39 cities in seven states in the two weeks following the mock attack.

The Army kept the biological-warfare tests secret until word of them was leaked to the press in the 1970s. Between 1949 and 1969, when President Nixon ordered the Pentagon's biological weapons destroyed, open-air tests of biological agents were conducted 239 times, according to the Army's testimony in 1977 before the Senate's subcommittee on health. In 80 of those experiments, the Army said it used live bacteria that its researchers at the time thought were harmless, such as the Serratia that was showered on San Francisco. In the others, it used inert chemicals to simulate bacteria.

Several medical experts have since claimed that an untold number of people may have gotten sick as a result of the germ tests. These researchers say even benign agents can mutate into unpredictable pathogens once exposed to the elements.

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