Sunday, May 31, 2009

SCIENTIST’S ‘WILD IDEA’ - "Human Error" cause of A(H1N1) Probed

This is an unexpected breakthrough - an open admission from a Pharma insider that the swine flu epidemic may have originated in a "laboratory escape." Human "error" may be too kind - but this development could at least put an end to the insidious impugning of innocent hog farmers, who've been blamed for the outbreak despite a clean bill of health from the Mexican government. "Gibbs said he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’ origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint." Science steps in and the cover story peels away. "Could be a mistake" is a thoughtful but speculative attribution of motive. There are only two possibilities: error or conspiracy. Not that the media will sort it out properly. But they are standing on the doorstep of reality for a change. You don't often see them get this close. - AC

Philippine Daily Inquirer

The World Health Organization (WHO) is investigating a claim by an Australian researcher that the swine flu virus circling the globe may have been created as a result of human error.

Adrian Gibbs, 75, who collaborated on research that led to the development of Roche Holding AG’s Tamiflu drug, said in an interview that he intended to publish a report suggesting the new strain may have accidentally evolved in eggs that scientists used to grow viruses and drug makers used to make vaccines.

“One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape,” Gibbs said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday. “But there are lots of others.”

The disclosure came Wednesday as China and Hong Kong respectively confirmed their second cases of swine flu. The A(H1N1) virus has killed 61 people worldwide.

Gibbs said he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’ origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint.

The WHO received Gibb’s study last weekend and was reviewing it, Keiji Fukuda, the agency’s assistant director general of health security and environment, said in an interview on May 11.

“You really want a very sober assessment” of the science behind the claim, he said.

Gibbs, who has studied germ evolution for four decades, is one of the first scientists to analyze the genetic makeup of the virus that was identified three weeks ago in Mexico and threatens to touch off the first flu pandemic since 1968.

‘Could be a mistake’

A virus that resulted from lab experimentation or vaccine production may indicate a greater need for security, Fukuda said.

By pinpointing the source of the virus, scientists also may better understand the microbe’s potential for spreading and causing illness, Gibbs said.

“The sooner we get to grips with where it’s come from, the safer things might become,” Gibbs said by phone from Canberra Wednesday.

“It could be a mistake” that occurred at a vaccine production facility or the virus could have jumped from a pig to another mammal or a bird before reaching humans, he said.

No evidence

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has also received Gibbs’ report and has decided there is no evidence to support his conclusion, said Nancy Cox, director of the agency’s influenza division.

Since researchers don’t have samples of swine flu viruses from South America and Africa, where the new strain may have evolved, those regions can’t be ruled out as natural sources for the new flu, Cox said.

“We are interested in the origins of this new influenza virus,” she said.

“But contrary to what the author has found, when we do the comparisons that are most relevant, there is no evidence that this virus was derived by passage in eggs.”

Wild idea

Gibbs, who says he studies the evolution of flu viruses as a “retirement hobby,” expects his research to be challenged by other scientists.

“This is how science progresses,” he said. “Somebody comes up with a wild idea, and then they all pounce on it and kick you to death, and then you start off on another silly idea.”

Gibbs spent most of his academic career studying plant viruses. His major contribution to the study of influenza occurred in 1975, while collaborating with scientists Graeme Laver and Robert Webster in research that led to the development of the anti-flu medicines Tamiflu and Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

2nd cases in China, HK

Also Wednesday, China ramped up efforts to contain swine flu as it confirmed a second case on the mainland. The sufferer, identified only by his surname Lu, arrived in Beijing on a plane from Canada on Friday, and started feeling feverish on Sunday.

State news agency Xinhua said the man was under treatment in eastern China’s Shandong province where he had arrived by train after his return flight.

The 19-year-old student boarded the train to Jinan despite having a strong fever, the health ministry said, and alerted local authorities who picked him up on arrival.

Hong Kong also said a 24-year-old citizen returning from the United States was confirmed on Wednesday as the Chinese territory’s second case of swine flu.

2 weeks apart

The unidentified Hong Kong man arrived on Monday with a soar throat after a flight from San Francisco, said Dr. Thomas Tsang, controller with the city’s Center for Health Protection.

The man, who checked into an airport clinic following his arrival before being transported to a local hospital, was in stable condition.

The discovery comes nearly two weeks after Hong Kong confirmed its first swine flu patient, a 25-year-old Mexican whose entry in the city led authorities to lock down a posh downtown hotel—along with hundreds of guests and workers—for seven days.

China has already isolated 349 people, including foreigners, who travelled with the mainland’s first swine flu case. The government urged anyone who travelled on the train or plane with the second suspected case to report in.

Hugely complex task

The latest case in China raises the prospect of hundreds more having to be traced and quarantined—a hugely complex task in the world’s most populous nation.

The WHO on Wednesday said that more than 5,700 cases had been reported in 33 nations, around half of them—including three deaths—in the United States.

More than 2,000 other cases are in Mexico, the origin of the outbreak where the WHO has confirmed 56 fatalities and national authorities reported a further two. ...

With reports from Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

The CIA Withheld Documents on JFK Murder from President Clinton

CIA Has Record of Lying to Top Officials, Says Presidential Historian (Excerpt)
PRNewsChannel - May 18, 2009

" ... First, President Bill Clinton appointed a special committee to review CIA files on the shooting of JFK but the committee never got all of the documents it requested. Only after President Clinton left office did intelligence officials admit to omitting some important documents. [Presidential historian Tim] Miller cites this omission as a clear motive by the CIA to mislead even the highest levels of government. ... "

Re Krugman: Inflation Fear-Mongering Is A Right-Wing Plot

Comment from AdamS, who takes issue with this sentence: " ... the Fed isn't printing money, as we, and others, keep saying. ... "

AdamS: "Rubbish. Do you dispute that the bailout was over ten trillion dollars in newly created money lent out at interest?"

Yes, I do. This is a distortion (setting aside the fact that the function of the Fed is to print money anyways) that turns the federal purchase of treasury bonds and other economic instruments into "newly created money," supposedly, and hobbling the recovery with hyper-inflation.

If you insist on the "creation of new money," point out the ensuing inflation to me. Show me. It doesn't exist. Deflation rules, in fact.

The quote was from Paul Krugman of the NY Times, who explains one source of the bailout money. I've also attached information from other sources to explain how this right-wing distortion - that the Fed is simply printing bales of worthless paper to save Wall Street - is false:

From "The Big Inflation Scare," by Paul Krugman, NYT, 5-28-09:

" ... Some claim that the Federal Reserve is printing lots of money, which must be inflationary, while others claim that budget deficits will eventually force the U.S. government to inflate away its debt.

"The first story is just wrong. The second could be right, but isn’t.

"Now, it’s true that the Fed has taken unprecedented actions lately. More specifically, it has been buying lots of debt both from the government and from the private sector, and paying for these purchases by crediting banks with extra reserves. And in ordinary times, this would be highly inflationary: banks, flush with reserves, would increase loans, which would drive up demand, which would push up prices.

"But these aren’t ordinary times. Banks aren’t lending out their extra reserves. They’re just sitting on them — in effect, they’re sending the money right back to the Fed. So the Fed isn’t really printing money after all. ... "
Creating money is not the same as buying bonds, and note here that informed sources - eg. the Chinese government - make the proper distinction:

China warns Federal Reserve over 'printing money' - "China has warned a top member of the US Federal Reserve that it is increasingly disturbed by the Fed's direct purchase of US Treasury bonds. ... "
Loans, not New Paper

" ... the so called 'liquidity' injected by Fed into Banking system is NOT newly printed money. It is LOANS! Look it up in the dictionary, "Loans" have to be paid back! ... "
T Bills

"The Feds are not creating money, they are selling Treasury Bonds or “T BIlls” on which they pay as little as .75% interest. In other words the Feds are not printing money, but sopping up funds owned by others, e.g. private investors who are putting their money into cash.”
So who says that the Fed is recklessly "printing money," anyways? Try Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, a "conservative" spin machine: "Federal Reserve's move to print money shows perilous policy failure." The allegation is a right-wing plot to subvert Obama and economic recovery. If it fails, the GOP wins. That's how they see it. Rush Limbaugh openly admitted as much. Conclusion: Republicans are seditious liars and the "rubbish" piles up around them, not Paul Krugman.

- Alex Constantine

"Jimmy Hendrix 'was murdered' by his manager, claims roadie" - Daily Mail

As I've reported elsewhere, Michael Jeffery, Jimi's manager, was an agent of British intelligence - a fact that the press has long ignored, and still does - with Mafia ties. After the body was found, Jeffery appeared to acquaintances to be suffering from guilt.

The press reported for years that Jimi died from a "heroin overdose" (there was no heroin in his blood), then years later, when that lie eroded away, we heard about "choking on his vomit" - technically true but a strange way to describe drowning, the official cause of death.

The world has long been kept in the dark by apparent media slop. The Mockingbird media have for decades been intent on blaming Hendrix for his death, and any attempt to understand the truth has been dismissed as "conspiracy theory." The man drowned in red wine, a simple explanation for "choking on his own vomit," but this fact isn't exactly newsworthy, I guess.

Why are Americans so screwed up? Perhaps it has something to do with the crap pumped into their heads by a media that collaborate with war criminals and CIA liars. As for the latest "revelation," I don't believe half of it. Some of the details are correct, but the motive is spun and so is the notion the Jeffries acted alone. Someone is inventing details to take the heat off of MI5, CIA and Mafia. Jeffery did not act alone, there is no possibility that force wasn't used. Much of this account is fiction.

It may be many more years before the media get around to investigating what really happened. If we still believed in "heroin overdose," no doubt we'd still be hearing about "Junkie" Jimi. Another cover story is eroding, but we may never know the truth from the establishment press.

Jimi's lungs were filled with red wine. The account below doesn't explain drowning, though it pretends to do that in a ham-handed manner. Welcome to the next layer of cover stories.

- AC

Jimmy Hendrix 'was murdered' by his manager, claims roadie
31st May 2009

Rock legend Jimi Hendrix was murdered by his manager as part of an insurance scam, a new book by one of his former aides claims.

Hendrix choked to death on his own vomit when he was 27 – but the exact circumstances of his death have always been a mystery.

Now James ‘Tappy’ Wright, one of the rock star’s roadies, claims that Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffery, confessed to killing him. Jeffery is said to have made a drunken confession a year after the star’s death in September 1970.

An ambulance crew found Hendrix’s body in the Samarkand Hotel in West London, in the room of Monika Dannemann, a girl he had known for just a few days.

Wright claims Jeffery was worried that Hendrix was preparing to find a new manager when their deal was due to end in December 1970. According to Wright, Jeffery said he went to the hotel room and stuffed Hendrix full of pills and wine.

The book, called Rock Roadie, out next month, recalls Wright’s life with various rock stars during the Sixties, including Tina Turner and Elvis Presley.

In it, Wright claims Jeffery, who was married to actress Gillian French, made the confession at his apartment in 1971, two years before he died in a plane crash.

He writes: ‘I can still hear that conversation, see the man I’d known for so much of my life, his face pale, hand clutching at his glass in sudden rage.’

He says Jeffery told him: ‘I had to do it, Tappy. You understand, don’t you? I had to do it. You know damn well what I’m talking about.’

He quotes Jeffery as saying: ‘I was in London the night of Jimi’s death and together with some old friends ...we went round to Monika’s hotel room, got a handful of pills and stuffed them into his mouth ...then poured a few bottles of red wine deep into his windpipe.

‘I had to do it. Jimi was worth much more to me dead than alive. That son of a bitch was going to leave me. If I lost him, I’d lose everything.’

Wright claims that Jeffery told him he had taken out a life insurance policy on Hendrix worth $2million (£1.2million) with Jeffery as beneficiary.

The official cause of death was ‘barbiturate intoxication and inhalation of vomit’, and the coroner recorded an open verdict.

This was vital for Jeffery.

Had the cause of death been suicide it would have given the insurers an escape clause.

The ambulancemen who found the body said he was discovered alone in the hotel room, lying in his clothes on his back, with a gas fire burning and the door wide open.

There is no record of who called 999.

John Bannister, the surgeon who tried to revive Hendrix at hospital, said he was convinced he had drowned in red wine. Yet Hendrix had very little alcohol in his bloodstream.

In 1992 he wrote: ‘I recall vividly the very large amounts of red wine that oozed from his stomach and his lungs, and in my opinion there was no question that Jimi Hendrix had drowned, if not at home then on the way to the hospital.

‘At the time I felt that he had either been on sedative tablets, to sleep or otherwise, and that he had imbibed copious amounts of red wine prior to going to sleep. I would suspect that he regurgitated the red wine and drowned.’

FBI Blows It: Supposed Terror Plot Against NY Synagogues Is Bogus

By Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation. May 23, 2009:

Turns out it is really the handiwork of a creepy FBI informant. The story strengthens the narrative that the "homeland" is under attack. It's not. ...

Film Review: Deflating The Elephant – Framed Messages Behind Conservative Dialogue

The bedrock of memes: "Language isn’t just words, words also carry meanings which are often subconscious. It is a phenomenon known as 'framing.' How it works is that when something is repeated often enough in a cultural setting, simply hearing those words brings to mind the specific framework that the sayers have been intending to transmit. Lakoff contends that through billion dollar marketing campaigns and the far reach of the right-wing think tanks, the conservatives have created a great deal of framing which has trapped a nation of independent thinkers into a false set of suppositions. ... "

Click moi

Carlyle to Pay $20 Million to Resolve Cuomo Probe

By Karen Freifeld
June 1, 2009

May 14 (Bloomberg) -- Carlyle Group agreed to end “pay to play” tactics in its public pension fund business and pay $20 million to resolve a corruption probe by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Under the agreement, Carlyle will adopt new a public pension fund “code of conduct,” which bans investment firms from using placement agents or other third parties to negotiate with public pension funds to obtain investments. It also prohibits firms from doing business with a public pension fund for two years after the firm or its employees make a campaign contribution to a public official who can influence the fund’s investment decisions.

“By banning campaign contributions to those who have sway over pension funds and eliminating the third-party intermediaries that have become dens of corruption, we will ensure reform,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I commend Carlyle for being the first to embrace the Reform Code and leading the industry toward critical change of the public pension investment system.”

Carlyle executives will not be subject to any criminal liability, Cuomo said at a press conference. Carlyle is the second-biggest private equity firm after New York-based Blackstone Group LP. Founded by David Rubenstein with William Conway and Daniel D’Aniello in 1987, it manages about $85.5 billion in assets. ...


Krugman: Inflation Fear-Mongering Is A Right-Wing Plot

" ... the Fed isn't printing money, as we, and others, keep saying. ... "

Joe Weisenthal
Excerpt -
May. 29, 2009

All this talk about inflation, hyper-inflation, an inability to pay off our debts, printing money, the steepening yield curve ... Paul Krugman is having none of it. Not only that, he argues in his latest column, it's all being driven by conservatives eager to torpedo the Presiden't recovery efforts.

On the matter of our exploding debt, he says it's a long-term concern, but that plenty of countries have sustained as-high (and higher) debt-to-GDP ratios.

And he says the Fed isn't printing money, as we, and other, keep saying.

"Now, it’s true that the Fed has taken unprecedented actions lately. More specifically, it has been buying lots of debt both from the government and from the private sector, and paying for these purchases by crediting banks with extra reserves. And in ordinary times, this would be highly inflationary: banks, flush with reserves, would increase loans, which would drive up demand, which would push up prices.

"But these aren’t ordinary times. Banks aren’t lending out their extra reserves. They’re just sitting on them — in effect, they’re sending the money right back to the Fed. So the Fed isn’t really printing money after all. ... "

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Philippines: 10 Years On, VFA Treaty only Serves US Interests

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States has made all this possible:

" ... Apart from the "Nicole" rape case, other atrocities by US troops have taken place in areas where the Balikatan military exercises have been held, among them the shooting of farmer Buyong-Buyong Isnijal in Basilan in 2002. Early this month, another woman, "Vanessa," came out to accuse another US serviceman, purportedly assigned with the Joint Military Action Group (Jusmag) and Balikatan, of rape. ... "


Has the VFA served its avowed purpose? Or has it only reinforced the unequal alliance between the Philippines and the United States, a relationship so tilted in the Americans' favor that to call the VFA a treaty - with all the word's connotation of equal rights, benefits and privileges - would be a travesty?

MANILA - On May 27, 1999, the Philippine Senate passed the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States. Then president Joseph Estrada soon after signed the agreement.

The VFA grants extraterritorial and extrajudicial "rights" to US servicemen visiting the Philippines. It made possible the Balikatan military exercises, which have been held annually since 2002.

In the VFA's preamble, it is stated that both parties reaffirm "their obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty of (Aug.) 30, 1951" and that each side should assert their independence as they see fit. In other words, the VFA, on paper, preaches parity and mutual respect.

In practice, however, the picture is entirely different so that, a decade after it took effect, some questions emerge: Has the VFA served its avowed purpose? Has it served the interests of Filipinos? Or has it only reinforced the unequal alliance between the two countries, a relationship so tilted in the Americans' favor that to call the VFA a treaty - with all the word's connotation of equal rights, benefits and privileges - would be a travesty?

Even as it was still being deliberated upon in the Senate, the VFA had its own share of critics. And the past 10 years have served only to vindicate those who opposed the agreement, said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) chairperson Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo. Muallam/

"On one hand, it appears that everyone who raised objections, criticisms, projections of what could happen against the interest of ordinary Filipinos and national sovereignty were vindicated," Araullo said in an interview with Bulatlat. But this vindication, she quickly pointed out, "does not make us happy."

Because the VFA, Araullo said, "has meant farmers whose livelihood was destroyed, fishermen whose boats were hit by bombs, women who were raped - dishonor for the Philippines."

The Philippines, she added, is supposed to be an independent and sovereign country and yet it "cannot even assert the authority of the court over convicted felons like Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, cannot assert a breakthrough within our criminal justice system for rape."

Smith, a US Marine, had been convicted by a local court for the rape of "Nicole" in Subic, Zambales, in 2005 but the Court of Appeals overturned the conviction early this year. Apart from the "Nicole" rape case, other atrocities by US troops have taken place in areas where the Balikatan military exercises have been held, among them the shooting of farmer Buyong-Buyong Isnijal in Basilan in 2002. Early this month, another woman, "Vanessa," came out to accuse another US serviceman, purportedly assigned with the Joint Military Action Group (Jusmag) and Balikatan, of rape.

Utter Subservience

"The Arroyo regime has shown its utter subservience to US interests when it caused the acquittal of a previously convicted US soldier," said Bayan secretary-general Renato M. Reyes Jr. in a statement on Wednesday. "Arroyo is now hoping to reap the rewards of her subservience when she meets with US Defense secretary Robert Gates on May 31. She's banking on increased military aid for her repressive regime." om)

Reyes cited the case of the Joint Special Task Force Philippines based in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City. This task force "hosts a rotating batch of US troops of around 200-300 soldiers who are ever present in the province."

He also pointed out that the recent AH1N1 flu crisis highlighted one of the basic defects of the VFA: American soldiers can be exempted from health inspections by Philippine health authorities when they enter the country. "Under the VFA, it is the US commander who issues a health status for the US soldiers," effectively undermining local health policies, Reyes said.

Roland Simbulan, a professor of development studies at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila and an expert on US-Philippine relations, believes that the last 10 years of the VFA have been used for purposes other than what the agreement was designed for.

"The purpose of the Visiting Forces Agreement was to provide joint military training for both US and Philippine Army personnel," he told Bulatlat in a separate interview. "But I think that the way it has been used in the Philippines, the VFA has actually been merely used as a camouflage to do certain activities (that are) not within the boundaries of the Visiting Forces Agreement - (for) example, the direct involvement of US military personnel in counter-insurgency through intelligence, covert operations, as well as other activities that are in direct assistance to (operations related to) the internal conflict in the Philippines, or it has also been used especially for hiding other activities related to our relations with other countries, like for example the use of our territory as a springboard for military operations against other countries." Muallam/

These activities, Simbulan said, "are not within the bounds of the Visiting Forces Agreement. But for the past 10 years, that is how this agreement has, in fact, been used - to try to legalize, at the same time cover, covert activities by US forces in support of the so-called US 'war on terror'."

Simbulan pointed out that "the first units of the US Special Operations Forces that were deployed here were referred to as Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines, while in Afghanistan, after 9-11, the US forces deployed there, the Special Operations Forces, were called Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan. So there's a similarity, and we know what these forces were for, and they used the legal cover of the Visiting Forces Agreement to hide, if not camouflage, these activities which are related to US military intervention here in the Philippines as well as against other countries."

US Geopolitical Interests

According to Araullo of Bayan, US military presence in the Philippines is not in the interest of the Filipino people. But the Americans are here for their interests in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, she said.

Simbulan agreed, saying the VFA has instead served to further US geopolitical interests in Asia and the Pacific.

"After the pullout of US military bases in 1992, after the Senate rejected the proposed bases treaty, the United States wanted a restoration of their presence here, their military presence, because by virtue of our strategic location - the Philippines is at the gateway between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean - our location gives the United States a presence that is used as a springboard for their operations in other countries, as well as a monitoring station, especially against the people of Indonesia and Malaysia, which are Muslim countries. The US is afraid to deploy US forces there because of what they consider to be the hostile population, which are two of the largest Islamic countries in the world. So they prefer to deploy their forces here while monitoring the activities there," said Simbulan. the author of "The Bases of Our Insecurity," a book published in 1983 that is considered the most authoritative on the issue of US military presence in the Philippines.

"But, by and large, the most important value for them of the Philippines is its strategic location: we are at a critical area where north of the Philippines and south of the Philippines you have the critical flow of sea lanes for US (and) Japanese vessels - both military and commercial - coming from the Middle East, bringing in oil supplies and other raw materials all the way from Africa to the Pacific Ocean. Of course, anyone who controls this area, this gateway where the Philippines is located, will control the flow of trade in this area. And next to that, of course, is the location of the Philippines facing China, because in the medium-term and long-term basis, the United States still looks at China as a potential rival within the next 15 years, (if) its military prowess (catches) up with the economic power that it has right now.

"So these are some things that they have factored in in their strategy, so they would want a restoration of strong military presence in the Philippines after the pullout of the US bases in 1992."

"Benefits" from VFA

What, then, has the Philippines gained from the VFA?

In a fact sheet released last February, titled "VFA Helps Build a Strong Republic", the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stated that in the 2008 Balikatan alone, 17,209 people received treatment through the medical civic action program (Medcap), while 10 school buildings were either rebuilt or repainted through the engineering civic action program (Encap).

"The humanitarian missions are held in conjunction with the military exercises," Araullo said. "But if you look at it in a deeper way, do we have to surrender sovereignty so that roads may be built? There should be no such trade-off."

The DFA also states in the fact sheet that the "VFA is essential to RP-US cooperation in the Philippine Defense Reform Program." It goes on to enumerate the Excess Defense Articles that the Philippines has so far received from the US:

The United States has already provided the AFP with eight helicopters in 2000; 20 of the 30 committed UH-1H (Huey helicopters) in 2007; one cyclone; six fast anti-terrorism boats; 433 M-35 trucks; 30,000 M-16 rifles; one C130; two Point Class navy cutters; night vision goggles; navigation equipment; and protection equipment such as vests and helmets.

In addition to being the Philippines' largest source of foreign military financing, valued at an average of $30 million annually in grants, the United States has also committed to share in the expenses for the implementation of the Joint Defense Assessment (JDA), costing approximately $400 million over a ten-year period. The US National Defense Authorization Act also allocated $12 million and $16 million to the Coast Watch South Project in 2007 and 2008, respectively, to strengthen security at our borders.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines believes that by accommodating US forces here, they will be getting surplus equipment from the United States, especially the surplus equipment that the US Army already considers scrap," Simbulan said. "Instead of throwing it to the junk yard, they 'donate' it, as they had done with the scrap that they had during the Vietnam War. Many of the obsolete helicopters that they used in Vietnam were turned over to the (Philippine) Army."

Excess Defense Articles are defined and described under the US Foreign Assistance Act thus:

...the quantity of defense articles (other than construction equipment, including tractors, scrapers, loaders, graders, bulldozers, dump trucks, generators, and compressors) owned by the United States Government, and not procured in anticipation of military assistance or sales requirements, or pursuant to a military assistance or sales order, which is in excess of the Approved Force Acquisition Objective and Approved Force Retention Stock of all Department of Defense Components at the time such articles are dropped from inventory by the supplying agency for delivery to countries or international organizations under this Act.

The Military Departments determine what is or is not excess, and after surveying requirements by potential recipient countries, recommend an allocation of excess assets to the EDA Coordinating Committee... Equipment which has been transferred from the Military Departments to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS), is also available for transfer through the EDA program if an eligible foreign government makes known its requirements for the equipment.

EDA is offered either at reduced or no cost to eligible foreign recipients on an "as is, where is" basis. The foreign recipients, in most cases, are responsible for the costs of packing, handling, and transportation, as well as any restorative work and follow on support. Foreign recipients may purchase such services from the Department of Defense through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

Junking the VFA

Araullo and Simbulan agree that, at this point, there is more than sufficient reason to junk the VFA.

"We have more to lose" by keeping the VFA, Simbulan said. "It is only the United States that benefits from the VFA."

Ten years after the VFA was ratified, Bayan's Reyes said, "the Philippines is no better nor safer. What has happened is that our sovereignty has been constantly undermined by the permanent presence of foreign troops. What happened were cases of rape, human rights abuses and even corruption."

Araullo said that the campaign against the VFA should broaden so that it may be junked. It should broaden "in terms of the population reach and in terms of the number of people who are able to (come) out, to lobbies, to the street, to protests, to join us in the court cases - that is what has to be done," she said. (

Oprah’s KFC Promo - She Should Return her PETA Person of the Year Award

29 MAY 2009

Nobody likes hypocrites, despite the fact that everyone is a hypocrite to one degree or another: the smoker who tells her kids not to smoke; the closeted politician who works against gay rights; the police officer who throws the book at stoners but who himself gets high. But in the matter of marketing food, hypocrisy reaches a fever pitch.

Take last month’s flap about Oprah Winfrey’s KFC promotion. While the MSM focused on the feeding frenzy that ensued, and the near-riots when KFCs across the country ran out of food or people couldn’t download their coupons from the website, precious few (apart from here on Grist anyway) were commenting on Oprah’s hypocrisy in promoting KFC after she had done so much to promote the cause of animal cruelty prevention. She was even named “Person of the Year” last year by PETA. Yet while KFC continues to buy Tyson chicken, which is raised in heartbreaking conditions, de-beaked and pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, Oprah apparently has no trouble promoting the company. Perhaps the greater hypocrisy lies with PETA, though; they’ve refused to call her out on the issue.

KFC is not blameless in hypocrite rankings either, foisting their products as fresh and healthy, hiding the true costs of cheap food, and claiming that it’s cheaper than making the food at home. To their credit, KFC parent company YUM! Brands did cave to the Coalition for Immokalee Workers and their demand for a fair living wage for tomato pickers, but that was after years of protests and even more years of slavery in South Florida. ...

Philadelphia Inquirer hires 'torture memo' author John Yoo

CYBERWAR: Contractors Vie for Plum Work, Hacking for the United States

NY Times
May 30, 2009

MELBOURNE, Fla. — The government’s urgent push into cyberwarfare has set off a rush among the biggest military companies for billions of dollars in new defense contracts.

The exotic nature of the work, coupled with the deep recession, is enabling the companies to attract top young talent that once would have gone to Silicon Valley. And the race to develop weapons that defend against, or initiate, computer attacks has given rise to thousands of “hacker soldiers” within the Pentagon who can blend the new capabilities into the nation’s war planning.

Nearly all of the largest military companies — including Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon — have major cyber contracts with the military and intelligence agencies.

The companies have been moving quickly to lock up the relatively small number of experts with the training and creativity to block the attacks and design countermeasures. They have been buying smaller firms, financing academic research and running advertisements for “cyberninjas” at a time when other industries are shedding workers.

The changes are manifesting themselves in highly classified laboratories, where computer geeks in their 20s like to joke that they are hackers with security clearances.

At a Raytheon facility here south of the Kennedy Space Center, a hub of innovation in an earlier era, rock music blares and empty cans of Mountain Dew pile up as engineers create tools to protect the Pentagon’s computers and crack into the networks of countries that could become adversaries. Prizes like cappuccino machines and stacks of cash spur them on, and a gong heralds each major breakthrough.

The young engineers represent the new face of a war that President Obama described Friday as “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.” The president said he would appoint a senior White House official to oversee the nation’s cybersecurity strategies.

Computer experts say the government is behind the curve in sealing off its networks from threats that are growing more persistent and sophisticated, with thousands of intrusions each day from organized criminals and legions of hackers for nations including Russia and China.

“Everybody’s attacking everybody,” said Scott Chase, a 30-year-old computer engineer who helps run the Raytheon unit here.

Mr. Chase, who wears his hair in a ponytail, and Terry Gillette, a 53-year-old former rocket engineer, ran SI Government Solutions before selling the company to Raytheon last year as the boom in the military’s cyberoperations accelerated.

The operation — tucked into several unmarked buildings behind an insurance office and a dentist’s office — is doing some of the most cutting-edge work, both in identifying weaknesses in Pentagon networks and in creating weapons for potential attacks.

Daniel D. Allen, who oversees work on intelligence systems for Northrop Grumman, estimated that federal spending on computer security now totals $10 billion each year, including classified programs. That is just a fraction of the government’s spending on weapons systems. But industry officials expect it to rise rapidly.

The military contractors are now in the enviable position of turning what they learned out of necessity — protecting the sensitive Pentagon data that sits on their own computers — into a lucrative business that could replace some of the revenue lost from cancellations of conventional weapons systems.

Executives at Lockheed Martin, which has long been the government’s largest information-technology contractor, also see the demand for greater computer security spreading to energy and health care agencies and the rest of the nation’s critical infrastructure. But for now, most companies remain focused on the national-security arena, where the hottest efforts involve anticipating how an enemy might attack and developing the resources to strike back.

Though even the existence of research on cyberweapons was once highly classified, the Air Force plans this year to award the first publicly announced contract for developing tools to break into enemy computers. The companies are also teaming up to build a National Cyber Range, a model of the Internet for testing advanced techniques.

Military experts said Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, which have long been major players in the Pentagon’s security efforts, are leading the push into offensive cyberwarfare, along with the Raytheon unit. This involves finding vulnerabilities in other countries’ computer systems and developing software tools to exploit them, either to steal sensitive information or disable the networks.

Mr. Chase and Mr. Gillette said the Raytheon unit, which has about 100 employees, grew out of a company they started with friends at Florida Institute of Technology that concentrated on helping software makers find flaws in their own products. Over the last several years, their focus shifted to the military and intelligence agencies, which wanted to use their analytic tools to detect vulnerabilities and intrusions previously unnoticed.

Like other contractors, the Raytheon teams set up “honey pots,” the equivalent of sting operations, to lure hackers into digital cul-de-sacs that mimic Pentagon Web sites. They then capture the attackers’ codes and create defenses for them.

And since most of the world’s computers run on the Windows or the Linux systems, their work has also provided a growing window into how to attack foreign networks in any cyberwar.

“It takes a nonconformist to excel at what we do,” said Mr. Gillette, a tanned surfing aficionado who looks like a 1950s hipster in his T-shirts with rolled-up sleeves.

The company, which would allow interviews with other employees only on the condition that their last names not be used because of security concerns, hired one of its top young workers, Dustin, after he won two major hacking contests and dropped out of college. “I always approach it like a game, and it’s been fun,” said Dustin, now 22.

Another engineer, known as Jolly, joined Raytheon in April after earning a master’s degree in computer security at DePaul University in Chicago. “You think defense contractors, and you think bureaucracy, and not necessarily a lot of interesting and challenging projects,” he said.

The Pentagon’s interest in cyberwarfare has reached “religious intensity,” said Daniel T. Kuehl, a military historian at the National Defense University. And the changes carry through to soldiers being trained to defend and attack computer and wireless networks out on the battlefield.

That shift can be seen in the remaking of organizations like the Association of Old Crows, a professional group that includes contractors and military personnel.

The Old Crows have deep roots in what has long been known as electronic warfare — the use of radar and radio technologies for jamming and deception.

But the financing for electronic warfare had slowed recently, prompting the Old Crows to set up a broader information-operations branch last year and establish a new trade journal to focus on cyberwarfare.

The career of Joel Harding, the director of the group’s Information Operations Institute, exemplifies the increasing role that computing and the Internet are playing in the military.

A 20-year veteran of military intelligence, Mr. Harding shifted in 1996 into one of the earliest commands that studied government-sponsored computer hacker programs. After leaving the military, he took a job as an analyst at SAIC, a large contractor developing computer applications for military and intelligence agencies.

Mr. Harding estimates that there are now 3,000 to 5,000 information operations specialists in the military and 50,000 to 70,000 soldiers involved in general computer operations. Adding specialists in electronic warfare, deception and other areas could bring the total number of information operations personnel to as many as 88,700, he said.

Human Genome Sciences Inc. Seeks FDA Approval of Anthrax Drug ABthrax

HGSI asks for FDA approval of anthrax drug ABthrax
Associated Press, 05.21.09, 08:00 AM EDT

Human Genome Sciences Inc. [link to board of directors] said Thursday it asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve ABthrax, a drug it is developing to treat inhaled anthrax. Human Genome Sciences submitted a Biologics License Application for ABthrax, or raxibacumab. The company is developing the drug for emergency use, such as a bioterrorist attack. Human Genome Sciences delivered 20,000 doses of the drug to the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile in the first quarter.

Online Photos of Rape (Denied by Pentagon) at Abu Ghraib

Also see: "Children Sodomized at Abu Ghraib don't Suffer Permanent Organ Failure - Must not be Torture"
Story and (explicitly violent) sexual abuse photos here:;page=1


"The Pentagon is denying the facts: Photographs of Abu Ghraib torture are even more sexually explicit than first reported, including rape and sodomy, writes The Daily Beast's Scott Horton, who has obtained specific and detailed corroboration of the photos.

"The Daily Beast has confirmed that the photographs of abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, which President Obama, in a reversal, decided not to release, depict sexually explicit acts, including a uniformed soldier receiving oral sex from a female prisoner, a government contractor engaged in an act of sodomy with a male prisoner and scenes of forced masturbation, forced exhibition, and penetration involving phosphorous sticks and brooms.

"These descriptions come on the heels of a British report yesterday about the photographs that contained some of these revelations—and whose credibility was questioned by the Pentagon as well as the British newspaper's source, who claims he was misunderstood. ... A senior military officer familiar with the photos told me that they would likely provoke a storm of outrage if released. ...

"The Telegraph article quoted retired Major General Antonio Taguba, who directed the official inquiry in 2004 into the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Taguba told the Telegraph that the 'pictures show torture, abuse, rape, and every indecency.' The Telegraph reported: “At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee. Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire, and a phosphorescent tube. Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

"In response to the Telegraph account, Bryan G. Whitman, a deputy assistant secretary of Defense, attacked the newspaper. 'That news organization has completely mischaracterized the images,' he said. 'None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article.' White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, later in the day, widened the assault to a general one against British journalism. 'If I wanted to read a writeup today of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champions League Cup, I might open up a British newspaper,' Gibbs said. 'If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I'm not entirely sure it'd be in the first pack of clips I'd pick up.' ... "

Friday, May 29, 2009

New York Gallery Owner Andrew Crispo and the Death Mask Murder

Ultimate Evil: New York art gallery owner Andrew Crispo, a well-connected socialite linked by author Maury Terry to the Son of Sam cult (Ultimate Evil), was the prodigy of steel heir Heinrich Thyssen. For more on Crispo's fascinating patrons, see David France's Bag of Toys (review below). – AC

Re: Andrew Crispo

"A dazzling opening show, Pioneers of American Abstraction, pegged Andrew Crispo as a dealer to watch. Major clients began to drop by, among them the Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (called "Heini"), the Swiss steel heir whose collection is one of the world's greatest. Mr. Crispo's career really took off, according to Mr. France, when in 1975 a nasty incident occurred that involved the baron. His fourth wife, Denise, and her lover, Franco Rappetti (who was also the baron's dealer and whose relationship with his wife the baron apparently tolerated), tried to shake Mr. Crispo down for "commissions" on the Thyssen purchases. But Mr. Crispo said no. Three years later, Rappetti went out the window of a midtown apartment building. ... "

There Was Something Creepy About the Gallery
By Grace Glueck;
June 21, 1992

BAG OF TOYS Sex, Scandal, and the Death Mask Murder. By David France. Illustrated. 350 pp. New York: Warner Books. $21.95.

ALONG with high prices, drugs and laundered money, the excessive 80's brought genuine tabloid scandal to the New York art world. In 1985, Ana Mendieta, a Cuban-born artist, jumped, fell or was thrown to her death from a 34th-story window. Her husband, the well-known Minimalist sculptor Carl Andre, was later tried and acquitted. And in the same year, there was the sadomasochistic "death mask murder" case, involving the 57th Street art dealer Andrew Crispo and his assistant, Bernard LeGeros. Mr. Crispo was never indicted (he later went to prison on quite another ground: income tax evasion). But Mr. LeGeros currently is serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

However horrible murder may be for its victims and their loved ones, it does create employment -- at least the more sensational murders do -- for writers of what Truman Capote called the "nonfiction novel." We've already had Robert Katz's trashily titled "Naked by the Window," a 1990 account of the Andre case, and now there is "Bag of Toys," David France's exploration -- or should we say exploitation? -- of the Crispo affair. (The title refers to Mr. Crispo's name for the collection of sexual devices that he kept at the ready.) Although "Bag of Toys" is plenty titillating, let the reader beware. It may be a page-turner, but it's a stomach-turner, too. Mr. France doesn't stint on gruesome detail.

The "death mask murder" case began in March 1985, when some young boys found a charred and mutilated corpse in a smokehouse on the Rockland County property of a family named LeGeros. The victim -- wearing a black leather hood used in sadomasochistic rituals -- turned out to be Eigil Dag Vesti, a handsome young fashion student from Norway who had been missing from his downtown Manhattan haunts for several weeks. It soon developed, according to Mr. France, that Vesti had been murdered in a bizarre sadomasochistic scenario created by Mr. Crispo and Mr. LeGeros, a son of the couple who owned the estate. Mr. LeGeros confessed that he had fired the gun that killed Vesti, but said that he had done so at Mr. Crispo's behest.

As background to his account of the murder, Mr. France takes off on a voyeuristic tour of Mr. Crispo's life. The author admits that, lacking his subject's cooperation, he has ascribed to him -- and to others -- dialogue reconstructed from police notes, court depositions, published sources and so forth, which certainly makes the book vivid, if journalistically less than sound. Along the way the reader learns more than he -- or she -- may want to know about such matters as the action at sadomasochistic bars, the condition of Vesti's body when it was found and the sleazy client-attorney relationship between Mr. Crispo and Roy Cohn.

Mr. Crispo, Mr. France writes, "saw in the world a Procrustean conspiracy -- immutably rigid rules of expected conduct that required a rote response. Wherever possible, he rebelled." The son of an Italian mother -- and her French lover -- who deposited him newborn at an orphanage in southwest Philadelphia, Mr. Crispo grew up homosexual and street-smart, the author says. He started out turning tricks in Rittenhouse Square, Mr. France writes, but later his brashness and ingenuity led to more glamorous conquests, including the pianist Liberace and Henry McIlhenny, chairman of the board of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. According to Mr. France, Mr. Crispo also engaged in other less-than-wholesome enterprises, and in 1964, when Philadelphia got too hot, he migrated to New York.

Manhattan and its hustling art world were waiting. Mr. Crispo began as a runner, a lowly go-between who turns over paintings at an often minimal profit. But his boyish charm and good looks landed him a job with a respectable dealer. He worked there for five years before finding the backing that would enable him to open the Andrew Crispo Gallery, an expensive suite in the Fuller Building on East 57th Street, the aorta of the uptown art world. His lover, the decorator Arthur Smith, Mr. France says, made the gallery into a sumptuous showcase, attracting name talents to Mr. Crispo's stable of artists: Richard Pousette-Dart, Arman, Lowell Nesbitt. He built up a lucrative back-room operation -- reselling works by well-known artists of major movements -- in 19th- and 20th-century art.

A dazzling opening show, "Pioneers of American Abstraction," pegged Andrew Crispo as a dealer to watch. Major clients began to drop by, among them the Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (called "Heini"), the Swiss steel heir whose collection is one of the world's greatest. Mr. Crispo's career really took off, according to Mr. France, when in 1975 a nasty incident occurred that involved the baron. His fourth wife, Denise, and her lover, Franco Rappetti (who was also the baron's dealer and whose relationship with his wife the baron apparently tolerated), tried to shake Mr. Crispo down for "commissions" on the Thyssen purchases. But Mr. Crispo said no. Three years later, Rappetti went out the window of a midtown apartment building.

Mr. France takes a reasoned view of Rappetti's demise as a suicide. But in any case, Mr. Crispo's help with the funeral arrangements -- the baron reportedly said that the $150,000 it cost him to fly the body home by special jet was "a bargain" -- so endeared him to Baron Thyssen that he instantly replaced Rappetti with Mr. Crispo. Within a few years, Mr. France reports, the baron had bought "an estimated 400 19th-century paintings from the Crispo Gallery, totaling more than $90 million in gross receipts." (He also maintains that Mr. Crispo and his staff "cleaned up" the provenances of the paintings, that is, attached phony documentation to disguise their true origins, not only to make Mr. Crispo seem like a discoverer but also to keep the baron from learning the names of -- and possibly patronizing -- the dealers who sent them on consignment.) According to Mr. France, the baron "knew Crispo used his name to open doors and to pry loose paintings," but he found the dealer "convenient" and "helpful."

Then Mr. Crispo's success began to sour. Even at its best, there always was something creepy about the gallery; rumors about its proprietor's increasing involvement with drugs and sexual intimidation did not help its reputation. Mr. Crispo, according to Mr. France, developed an addiction to cocaine. He cheated on taxes. He refused to pay bills. He surrounded himself with thuggish young men, taking on Mr. LeGeros, the troubled son of an upscale family, as his "bodyguard" and "executioner." Mr. LeGeros played bad cop to Mr. Crispo's good one, bullying hapless participants in the sexual dramas staged by the older man, the author writes. In one setup related by Mr. France, some youthful graffiti artists, bribed by money and drugs, helped Mr. Crispo and Mr. LeGeros torture a victim -- pseudonymously referred to as Paul Jeffries -- who had answered a pay telephone on the street outside a bar. On the line was Mr. Crispo, who seduced Jeffries up to his apartment for a coke fest.

Like Jeffries, the murdered Vesti was apparently a willing victim who got more than he bargained for. Meeting Mr. Crispo at a bar, Mr. France writes, Vesti went home with him, where he was savaged in the way he seemed to crave. But then, flying high on cocaine, Mr. Crispo began to talk of killing him, according to Mr. LeGeros's testimony. The two, taking along a rifle, drove Vesti up to the Rockland County home of Mr. LeGeros's family, and after some more wild action, according to Mr. LeGeros, Mr. Crispo gave the order to shoot. And Mr. LeGeros obeyed. "He snapped," Mr. Cris po later said, according to Mr. France.

Mr. Crispo was not charged in the case. Apart from Mr. LeGeros's testimony there was no corroborating evidence, so Mr. Crispo went scot-free. Subpoenaed for Mr. LeGeros's trial, he took the 5th and 14th Amendments, which protected him from being forced to testify against himself. However, soon afterward, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for income tax evasion -- he owed almost $4 million on income of $10 million -- a sentence later reduced to five years, of which he served three. And his luck held. In a later trial, in 1988, he was found not guilty -- although Mr. LeGeros had four years added to his prison sentence after pleading guilty to attempted kidnapping -- for the brutal treatment of Paul Jeffries.

Soon after his release from prison in 1989, a massive explosion leveled Mr. Crispo's cherished house in Southampton, where he had hung some of his most prized works of art. (Before his imprisonment, sales of part of his collection at Sotheby's and Christie's netted Mr. Crispo and his creditors nearly $20 million.) But -- wouldn't you know? -- in 1991 a jury awarded him $8.6 million from the Long Island Lighting Company -- which admitted that an accident in the form of a gas leak under the house had been the cause.

To say that Mr. France, a New York City journalist, is obsessed with the Crispo case is to put it mildly. But despite his lurid, tabloid presentation, his demon research goes a long way to persuade us that justice has miscarried, that Andrew Crispo should not be a free man today. Although, of course, Mr. Crispo has no voice here to convince us otherwise.

Cookies, not Torture, Convinced al Qaeda Suspect to Talk, FBI Interrogator Says

Begging the question: Which "enhanced" interrogation tool is more effective - waterboarding or pastry? ...

Raw Story
Friday, May 29, 2009

" ... Ali Soufan, a former FBI interrogator, revealed in an article being released in June that Osama Bin Laden’s bodyguard opened up about the 9/11 terror attacks only after being offered — sugar free cookies. Bin Laden lieutenant Abu Jandal is a diabetic, Soufan said, and wouldn’t eat sugar cookies he’d been offered ... "

Source: Time’s Bobby Ghosh

Panama: Opus Dei Strong in New Cabinet

" ... the organization’s growth is amazing. Not so much by numbers, but for the influence it seems to have among Panama’s power brokers. ... "

Panama Star

Supporters of sexual education in schools fear that the Catholic Conservative group will influence sex and reproductive debate

PANAMA. The potential influence of members of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei, on education in Panama, is raising concerns in some political quarters

The Tagua Center in Cerro Azul is an Opus Dei establishment in charge of teaching youngsters. The team is managed by some of the closest political partners of president elect, Ricardo Martinelli: the future Education Minister Lucy Molinar; the vice-president elect Juan Carlos Varela and the president’s first-cousin, Guido Martinelli.

The Opus Dei, at the forefront of the conservative Catholic movement, emerged from the shadows after Dan Brown’s book and subsequent Blockbuster hit “The Da Vinci Code,”. It seeks the world over to instill the conservative ideals of the Vatican, currently headed by an ultra-conservative pope.

While some call them “the guardians of Catholicism,” other prefer the name “Faith multinational (corporation)”. With either name, the Opus Dei influence in the new administration calls to question the fate of a topic that will soon be subject to heated debate: the Sexual and Reproductive Health Law.

On April 18, 1994, Panama welcomed the arrival of the new archbishop Jose Dimas Cedeño, who was to succeed Marco McGrath. Outside the country, Opus Dei leaders were celebrating. McGrath had been a wall keeping them from entering the country, his successor would welcome them with open hands.

The Opus Dei’s official activities in Panama started in 1996, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the Opus Dei prelate Javier Echevarria came to Panama from Rome to meet with Cedeño.

A gathering was held in a City hotel with 700 people attending. Ten years after the visit, the organization’s growth is amazing. Not so much by numbers, but for the influence it seems to have among Panama’s power brokers. With Martinelli’s win and the designation of his cabinet, Opus seems to be one of the clear winners.

The vice-president elect and Foreign Relations Minister Juan Carlos Varela is an active participant in the organization, as is the future Education Minister Lucy Molinar. The president-elect’s first cousin Guido Martinelli, is also linked to the religious group. In fact, Giancarlos Candanedo, academic director of Panama’s Opus chapter, was the spokesperson during Varela’s campaign which landed him the vice-presidency.

Taking into consideration that one of the biggest goals of the Opus is to influence public policies on reproduction, sexuality, and education, seeking to impose conservative Church delineations, the religious penetration in the government entities gains higher relevance. The Opus condemns abortion, the use of contraceptives and are reluctant to allow sexual education in schools. In fact, some of their worst enemies are the Europe Union and the United Nations, for promoting what they call “anti-birth.”

To further their cause, the group looks to place its people in strategic places: in decision-making and youth-training spheres such as national government, media, and universities. Their efforts to increase their influence in Panama is evident through their three institutions: a micro-enterprises training center in Cerro Azul, with Lucy Molinar, Guido Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela among its supporters, the Rocazul cultural center, and the university residence Entremares in Bella Vista.

The naming of Lucy Molinar as Education Minister added to the appointment of government officials without adequate educational background or experience, such as Guillermo Ferrufino at the Social Development Ministry, opens the door for discussion. Yet the new administration refutes the claims. “I don’t know why you want to tangle me into this,” said Lucy Molinar, a little irritated when asked about her relationship with the Opus Dei.

“Yes, I am part of it, but if you want to mix one thing with the other, I will simply step aside,” she said.

When asked about the reproductive health law recently discussed in Panama, she said she believed in sexual education in schools, but understood that was not what proponents of the law were advocating. Molinar said the government had to implement a project in accordance to our social reality.

Jimmy Papdimitriu, future Minister of the Presidency, said that in the end, decisions are taken by the entire cabinet and everything has to be debated and submitted to the National Assembly. He claimed Molinar’s designation as Minister was because Martinelli thought her to be qualified, and not based on religious preferences.

Former CIA Senior Scientist Joins NISC

By Business Wire
May. 28, 2009

National Interest Security Company, LLC, (NISC), a leading provider of innovative information technology, information management and management technology consulting, announced today that Dr. Les Dreiling, former technical advisor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS), has joined NISC as Chief Scientist of NISC Advanced Information Solutions.

Dr. Dreiling’s main responsibilities will focus on advanced, next-generation media forensics, cybersecurity, and large-scale analytical visualization initiatives. He will be working with senior leadership at NISC to create and promulgate a set of software development and software engineering best practices that are reflective of his many years of experience running successful projects at the CIA. Dr. Dreiling joins other distinguished leaders from the intelligence community at NISC, including General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA; Dr. Donald Kerr, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence; and Jose Rodriguez, former Director of the CIA NCS.

Dr. Dreiling recently retired from the CIA with 29 years experience in the design, development, and implementation of innovative, scalable data processing, exploitation, and analysis solutions for both the CIA and the Intelligence Community. As a Senior Scientist and CIA “Trailblazer”, he served as Technical Advisor to the NCS Associate Deputy Director for Technology, as Chief Scientist in the NCS/Information Operations Center, and as Chief of an R&D unit engaged in creative problem finding, shaping, and solving. Dr. Dreiling was awarded the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal (2006) and is the only staff officer twice-awarded the "CIA Scientist of the Year" (1992, 2002). He holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Maryland. ...

Investment Bankers: CIA Wants You

By Greg MacSweeney
May 29, 2009

The CIA is recruiting investment bankers and other Wall Street types. If they can pass a few hurdles and stomach the $130,000 salary, the financial whizzes will work on tracking economic threats to national security. Steve Henn reports in this audio segment from American Public Media’s Marketplace.

Levin Calls Cheney's CIA Document Claims a Lie

From CNN's Ed Hornick
May 29, 2009

Democratic Carl Levin is challenging former Vice President Cheney's recent claims about the effectiveness of the Bush administration's use of harsh interrorgation techniques.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told a Washington audience this week that claims by former Vice President Dick Cheney that classified CIA memos showed that enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding worked were lies.

Levin, speaking at the Foreign Policy Association's annual dinner on Wednesday, said an investigation by his committee into detainee abuse charges over the use of the techniques — now deemed torture by the Obama administration — "gives the lie to Mr. Cheney's claims."

The Michigan Democrat told the crowd that the two CIA documents that Cheney wants released "say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of abusive techniques."

"I hope that the documents are declassified, so that people can judge for themselves what is fact, and what is fiction," he added.

Cheney, who has become a vocal public defender of the Bush administration's controversial interrogation policies, had asked the Obama administation to declassify the documents so there can be a more "honest debate" on the Bush administration's decision to use them on suspected terrorists.

He argued that those techniques provided valuable intelligence that saved American lives, but critics say they amounted to the illegal torture of prisoners in U.S. custody

On May 14, the CIA rejected the former vice president's request. CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano, in a written statement, said the two documents Cheney requested are the subject of two pending lawsuits seeking the release of documents related to the interrogation program, and cannot be declassified.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Contractors: Urged to lie in Afghan death

May 27, 2000

WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- Two U.S. security contractors involved in the shooting of an Afghan civilian say they were pressured by their employer to say they were drunk at the time.

Steven McClain and Justin Cannon, employees of the U.S. security company Paravant, told CNN they were encouraged by the company to tell investigators they were intoxicated during the May 5 shooting that left an Afghan civilian dead and two wounded. The reason for doing so, they said, was to protect Paravant's contract with the U.S. military.

"There was no question as to, 'Were you drinking?' It was, 'I know you were drinking, I know this happened,' and then pretty much trying to force us into making a statement on that," McClain told the U.S. broadcaster.

Paravant, which is affiliated with the successor company of security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, denied the allegations. A spokeswoman told CNN, "That did not happen. Their direction from the company was to cooperate with the investigation, and lying is not cooperating."

U.S. military officials are investigating the Kabul shooting and reportedly say they will consider whether to refer any charges to the Justice Department.

Prosecutor in Anthrax, Blackwater Cases Resigns

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal prosecutor who became the public face of the Justice Department's investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, the killing of Chandra Levy and the Blackwater Worldwide shooting is resigning.

Washington U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, a holdover from the Bush administration, will leave the Justice Department on Friday. He will join the auditing firm Ernst & Young, where he will lead their fraud investigation practice.

Taylor inherited the anthrax and Chandra Levy investigations and declared both long-unsolved matters closed.

The Justice Department declared that Army scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax mailings that killed five people in 2001. Ivins killed himself before he could be indicted. ...

Taylor previously served as counselor to Attorney Generals John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. He has also served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and as a line prosecutor in San Diego.

Taylor took the top job in Washington on an interim basis in 2006 and, though the Senate never acted on his nomination, federal judges in Washington unanimously voted to extend his tenure. ...

Neo-Nazis With Bomb Parts in Alabama, Maine

Intelligence Report
Summer 2009

A Belfast, Maine, neo-Nazi who was shot to death by his wife last December possessed a cache of radioactive and other dangerous materials suitable for building a "dirty bomb," according to an unclassified FBI intelligence report. A dirty bomb uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive and other harmful materials over a large area.

During a search of the house where James G. Cummings lived with his wife, Amber, investigators reportedly discovered instructions for making a dirty bomb, along with four 1-gallon containers filled with a mix of uranium and thorium, both of which are radioactive, along with highly toxic beryllium powder. The containers also held lithium metal, thermite, magnesium ribbon and other substances that are used to amplify the effects of homemade explosives.

According to the FBI report, police also found a membership application from the National Socialist Movement, the country's largest neo-Nazi group, which Cummings had filled out.

Amber Cummings reportedly told police that her husband was "very upset" over Barack Obama being elected president, had been in contact with white supremacist groups, and had been mixing chemicals in their kitchen sink while talking about dirty bombs. Authorities say she claimed that she gunned down her husband with a .45-caliber Colt Peacemaker after years of mental, physical, and sexual abuse, and termed the killing a "domestic violence homicide." Nevertheless, she was later indicted for murder.

One month after the dirty bomb components were allegedly discovered in Maine, police in Mobile, Ala., reported finding a "cache of explosives" in the residence of alleged neo-Nazi Thomas Hayward Lewis, after Lewis was arrested for spray-painting swastikas and neo-Nazi slogans on a Messianic Jewish house of worship. The slogans included "Hitler was right," "Juden raus (German for "Jews get out)," and references to Combat 18, a violent neofascist group based in the United Kingdom that promotes "lone wolf" terrorism.

At press time, Lewis was being held without bail.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cheney and Rumsfeld pressured CIA to mislead Congress in the 1970s, too

By Margie Burns
May 27, 2009, 00:21

The first time Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld pressured the CIA to mislead Congress was in 1975 and 1976, when Cheney was chief of staff to President Gerald Ford and Rumsfeld was Ford’s secretary of defense.

Cheney, having held a series of positions alongside Rumsfeld — starting under him in the Nixon administration — also became campaign manager for Ford’s reelection campaign. George H. W. Bush was head of the CIA, appointed by Jerry Ford when Ford switched Rumsfeld from White House chief of staff to secretary of defense.*

The mission of the three men was to protect the Ford presidency and some elements in the CIA from the Church Committee. According to researcher Lamar Waldron, they succeeded.

Waldron is co-author, with Thomas Hartmann, of Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination, an exhaustively documented 800 pages compiling more than three decades of research into the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. In two recent interviews of more than an hour each, Waldron discussed how much some things haven’t changed since before Watergate.

Reacting to public outrage over a series of abuses -- including domestic surveillance -- exposed during Watergate, the Nixon impeachment and the winding down of the Vietnam War, in 1975 Congress authorized a special senate committee chaired by Democrat Frank Church of Idaho to look into abuses of the intelligence agencies, primarily the CIA and FBI. The Church Committee was convened, getting off to a slow start and under steady CIA-friendly media fire from the beginning; Ford appointed George H. W. Bush as head of the CIA and Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense in October 1975.

As Waldron points out, we now know from thousands of documents declassified since the 1970s that a massive amount of vital information was withheld by Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush from the Senate’s Church Committee. The White House and top echelon of the CIA withheld from the committee information about the CIA’s manipulation of the news media; domestic spying; and material about Cuba, including JFK’s plan to topple Fidel Castro on December 1, 1963, the Mafia’s infiltration of the anti-Castro plan, and the CIA’s unauthorized continuation of agency plotting to use the Mafia to assassinate Castro. Waldron and Hartmann document in Legacy of Secrecy that then-CIA official Richard Helms withheld the unauthorized extension of the mob-linked anti-Castro plots from JFK himself, and from President Lyndon Johnson and from the Warren Commission afterward -- and even from JFK’s own CIA Director. ...


The Dead Hand of the Junior Mints King--Robert Welch Takes Over in Texas

Birch Society founder Robert Welch is, "posthumously, having the last laugh. His ideology has taken over a large segment of the Republican Party. Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News pundits are advocating the same sorts of ideas that the US laughed at in the latter days of the Eisenhower administration. ..."

May 27, 2009

Yesterday I saw an article in my local paper, titled Republicans Argue over Who They Are, that ran originally in the Houston Chronicle. It listed the major planks in the 2008 Texas state Republican Party platform. It "sought to abolish the IRS, repeal the minimum wage, privatize Social Security, end the corporate income tax, mandate 'American English' as the nation's official language, evict the United Nations from U.S. soil and 'dispel the myth' of a constitutional separation of church and state."

Back in the late 50s and early 60s a fringe political group called the John Birch Society attracted a lot of media notice. It still exists today, although its fifteen minutes are long over. It was named after John Birch, an American soldier and missionary killed by the Chinese in 1945. The group was founded by Robert Welch, heir to the Welch candy fortune. He published, at his own expense, a book called The Politician, which advanced the thesis that Dwight Eisenhower was either an agent or dupe of the Communist Party.

The JBS official agenda included items like getting the US out of the UN and radical reform to the tax code. JBS bumper stickers included "Support Your Local Police," "Impeach Earl Warren," and "US out of UN."

When the media first discovered the JBS many mainstream republicans distanced themselves from it as an extremist organization. Democrats condemned it. Comedians made jokes about it.

Welch is, posthumously, having the last laugh. His ideology has taken over a large segment of the Republican Party. Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News pundits are advocating the same sorts of ideas that the US laughed at in the latter days of the Eisenhower administration.

I guess I've become fixed in the mind set of my childhood. I still feel the peculiar mixture of fear and amusement those ideas elicited from me in 1960. On one hand I'm frightened that people can take this sort of nonsense seriously and on the other hand I can't help seeing its absurdity. Makes me wonder if time has passed me by. ...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DVD Review - Kenneth Anger: Magick Lantern Cycle

DVD £29.35, Blu-Ray £29.35, BFI
Phelim O'Neill
The Guardian
23 May 2009

Many would argue that part of the charm of Anger's films comes from the scratchy, ill-preserved quality of the prints that have been in semi-clandestine circulation over the years. But the restorers have done a bang-up job here, and the cleanliness of the images only highlights how modern his techniques were, making it easier to see how his uses of repetition, music and iconography have influenced film-makers such as David Lynch and Martin Scorsese. All his better known works are in this 10-film collection: Scorpio Rising, Invocation Of My Demon Brother, Lucifer Rising, as well as Anger's film on Aleister Crowley, a film portrait of the director himself, and a great booklet containing essays by Anger and acolyte Gary Lachman - a founder member of Blondie.

9/11 Commission official says public story “almost entirely untrue”

By Hunter Gorinson
May 21, 2009

Since the turn of the millennium, John Farmer’s resumé has boasted many impressive accomplishments: New Jersey Attorney General, Acting Governor of that same state for 90 minutes on January 8, 2002 and, perhaps most importantly, Senior Counsel to the Bush-appointed - and dramatically underfunded - 9/11 Commission (also known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States).

Now, with a freshly inked contract from Houghton Mifflin Books in hand, Farmer is set [to] contradict the findings of the so-called “truth commission” that he once helped administrate with his new book, The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America's Defense on 9/11. ...


Monday, May 25, 2009

Flight 3407 Crash: Idle "Chit-Chat" was NOT a Factor

By Alex Constantine

Getting Away with Mass Murder is a Breeze in Alfred E. Newman Nation

The press has reported widely that pilot "chit-chat" in the last five minutes of the flight was a contributing factor in the turboprop's disastrous approach to Buffalo Airport, but (as reported below)...

" ... In the last four minutes before the captain asked for the gear to be put down, there was only a single, three-sentence statement made by the captain ... Non-essential chatter wasn't a factor ... "

Contrast this with the official explanation spilled recklessly across the front pages of newspapers around the world, as in this story from the New York Daily News on May 11: "The pilot and co-pilot of the Newark-Buffalo flight that crashed in February, killing all 49 aboard, may have been distracted by their own idle chatter in the cockpit, federal officials said Monday. The National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday begins three days of hearings on the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 last Feb. 12. It will focus first on the violation of 'sterile cockpit' rules, which bar routine gabbing when the plane is under 10,000 feet. ... "

The NTSB claimed that "gabbing" in the cockpit was a primary cause of the crash. Marginalizing and blaming the victims is a gross injustice but Americans have been taught to point fingers, and smears go down easily in a country that refuses to take responsibility for its own murderous actions, and has no respect for human rights.

The public perception of the pilots as unprofessional airheads engaged in idle "gabbing" as the plane sped to its doom serves the purpose of inciting public scorn toward the flight crew. The word "sabotage" in this environment is entirely out of context, exactly where the NTSB wants it.

The Chatty Cathys scenario is an obscene lie, but Americans are generally too dumbed-down and conditioned by groundless official distortions to discern or even care about a little thing like mass murder. The "findings" of the NTSB are false and defamatory - exactly as expected in a case of political conspiracy.

"What? Me Worry?" rules the day, and this madness affects each of us deeply. One has to be more than an Alfred E. Newman to see it. Newman Nation doesn't.

- AC

Plane Answers: "Chit-chat" did NOT doom Colgan flight 3407
By Kent Wien
May 25th 2009

... The NTSB has released a tremendous amount of information already and I feel the need to shed some light on what the Colgan 1549 pilots may have been dealing with before the tragic accident.

We've heard that the captain reacted incorrectly by pulling up instead of pushing forward, that he didn't have much experience in the Dash 8 Q400, that he and the first officer were discussing non-essential topics during the sterile period and that the captain had flunked a number of checkrides while learning to fly. We also heard about their long commute before work and the lack of sleep each pilot had before the trip.

But how much did these facts play a part in the accident? We'll never know exactly what each pilot was thinking, but when you combine the transcripts with the NTSB recreation, a picture emerges that's a little more complicated than what's being reported.

According to the transcripts, the flight from Newark was completely normal until the start of the approach. Checklists were accomplished, altimeters were set, approach briefings were done. There was a fair amount of conversation, but this was mainly while above 10,000 feet. There may have been discussions with their company about where the aircraft would park after landing, but it's hard for me to determine if this was before or after they flew below 10,000 feet.

The press latched on to the 'chit-chat' these pilots were having before the accident. The cockpit voice recorder was installed years ago as a safety device, but it's sadly being used to satisfy the morbid curiosity of the public. Do we really need to hear the conversations that took place on the ground in Newark before this flight?

Much of that talking while approaching Buffalo revolved around icing and their prior experience in ice. In the last four minutes before the captain asked for the gear to be put down, there was only a single, three-sentence statement made by the captain in response to the co-pilot's concern with her lack of icing experience.

The Approach

After that, nothing was said for the next two minutes, until the chain of events that would cause this accident would begin.

"Gear down." The captain called.

The co-pilot responded by lowering the gear and pushing two knobs called condition levers forward. Just two seconds later, the approach controller told her to contact the tower. The co-pilot immediately looked down to change to the tower frequency, while acknowledging the controller. After she had spun some dials to enter the tower frequency in the VHF control panel, she looked at the gear handle to call out that it had extended completely-that it was now down and locked.

Two seconds later, the captain called for the flaps to be lowered to 15 degrees. Before even having a chance to look up and check on the flight's progress she needed to move the flap handle from 5 to 15 degrees.

In the 22 seconds that it took for the co-pilot to put the gear down, push the condition levers forward, change the frequency, verify the landing gear position and select flaps 15, the airplane had slowed from 180 knots to 133 knots and the stall warning system activated.

She was relying on the captain to fly the airplane or, in this case, monitor the autopilot, while she performed her non-flying pilot duties. Every pilot has been in this situation before, where rapid-fire actions can take the non-flying pilot's attention away. But usually being out of the loop for twenty seconds isn't enough to cause a problem. Up to this point, she had done everything right.

Now let's think about what the captain may have been dealing with:

He was in level flight at 2,300 feet with the flaps set to five degrees. He may have been tired, and so he likely felt like letting the autopilot take care of intercepting the final approach course. The autopilot was holding the altitude and heading and since the Dash 8 Q400 doesn't have any autothrottles, he was manually setting the power to the proper setting to maintain a speed of about 180 knots.

At one point, the speed picked up to 186 knots. He pulled the power back slightly to let it settle at 180 knots which took about 6 seconds.

A few seconds later he called for the gear to come down. The co-pilot brought the gear down and pushed the condition levers forward. The condition levers essentially control the pitch of the propellors. Pushing them forward drives the prop blades to a finer pitch, resulting in a higher prop RPM, but also more drag. These levers are procedurally moved forward so maximum thrust is available in the case of a missed approach. So putting the gear down and the condition levers are two actions that will result in a significant amount of drag.

But somehow, the captain was distracted. He had just pulled the power back prior to calling for the gear to come down. He didn't touch the throttles for the next 27 seconds, which means there was no way he had glanced at his airspeed for that half-minute. He could have been checking to see if there was any more ice accumulating or glancing at his approach plate.

The point is, he had become distracted and the co-pilot was out of the loop while she accomplished her required duties. The motion of the gear coming down and the condition levers coming forward meant that there was little time to react with the throttles.

This wasn't the first time a pilot failed to notice a loss of airspeed while on approach. In fact, less than two weeks later another accident occurred while flying an approach on autopilot. Turkish flight 1951 which crashed short of the runway in Amsterdam was equipped with an autothrottle system, but it had failed at 1950 feet, when it reduced the power to idle slowly without the crew noticing.

In an age when the flying public seeks comfort by thinking airplanes just land themselves, it appears that a reliance on automation may have led to two separate accidents in the month of February alone. Autopilot use is generally encouraged by many airlines as a way to reduce a pilot's workload.

But I'm certain that if the autopilot had been off in either accident, the pilots would have found it difficult to maintain altitude as the airplane slowed, which would have made it immediately obvious that more power was needed.

In both of these cases the autopilot masked this, making it easier to become distracted.

The Stall

When the stick shaker activated on Colgan flight 3407, the autopilot turned off automatically. Somehow the captain let the nose of the airplane reach nearly 30 degrees, and even though he correctly responded with full power, it wasn't going to prevent the continued loss of airspeed as long as he had the nose pointed up between 20 and 30 degrees.

The co-pilot had been thinking about ice for the last half of the trip because of the build-up she had seen earlier, and this might have been going through her mind as she heard the stick shaker activate at the exact moment she was moving the flap handle from 5 degrees to 15. She very well may have associated her flap selection with the stick shaker, and if a movement in the flight controls results in something going wrong, I could see most pilots tempted to move the flap handle back where it was before the problem began (in this case, back up).

This is exactly what she did, which made the recovery much more difficult for the captain, since an extra 20 or 25 knots would be needed to fly at the reduced flap settings. Bringing the flaps up is also a recovery technique in high-wing turboprops that encounter enough ice to stall the tail. So this may be further proof that she was convinced tail-icing was their problem.

The captain may have also thought tail icing was his problem and the reason the nose wanted to drop, completely misreading what the 'stick pusher' was trying to tell him. Reports have indicated that the captain had watched the NASA video on tailplane icing recoveries during training just a few months earlier. This is a video which will definitely leave a lasting impression on any pilot. ...

The Aftermath

Non-essential chatter wasn't a factor in this accident since the pilots had been quiet for more than two minutes prior to the airplane slowing. The NTSB will likely look at the training these pilots had received and how fatigue may have played a role in the accident. ...