Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The EverLasting Hurrah of the Golden Path

Jeff Huber's Revenge of the Surge:

...While visions of sugarplums danced in our heads, the Pentagon flew another escalation strategy under the radar. On the eve of Christmas Eve, Dexter Filkins of the New York Times reported "Taking a page from the successful experiment in Iraq, American commanders and Afghan leaders are preparing to arm local militias to help in the fight against a resurgent Taliban."

Merry Christmas, fellow citizens. Odds are now almost certain that your country will be in a state of war throughout your lifetimes, and possibly throughout your children's lifetimes as well...

It's hard to be surprised any more when the NYT echoes the Pentagon's G.I. jingo, but the experience of watching the newspaper of record cut and paste phrases like "a page from the successful experiment in Iraq" is aging poorly. From the outset, a key component of the surge strategy was the propaganda piece that would make it sound "successful" regardless of how it went.

As in the principles of war, "objective" is a prime tenet of information operations; but there's a difference between the way objectives work in warfare and how they're used in propaganda. In warfare—theoretically, anyway—the objective is supposed to be straightforward and tangible, and all operations and tactics should support the primary goal. In information operations, the objective, at least the stated one, is so vague and flexible that it doesn't need to have anything at all to do with the actual military operation. In fact, it's best if it doesn't; the less any statement meant for public consumption has to do with reality, the greater freedom of movement the information operator (aka "bull feather merchant" or "BFM") has.

When Bill Kristol pal Fred Kagan and the rest of the neocons at the American Enterprise Institute rammed their surge strategy past the Joint Chiefs' tonsils, the BFMs had to justify escalating the war to the public. Too many brass hats had admitted there was no military solution to the Iraq fiasco, so the "political unification" canard was adopted.

Political unification has proven to be as elusive as Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction; with the provincial elections just a stone's throw away, there's talk of a coup to oust Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki. That's been no problem for the BFMs, though; looking ahead, they nested the "security" piece of the puzzle in the original mission statement: establish security in order to allow political unity to come about. Since some measure of decreased violence has been achieved in Iraq, the BFMs can point to it as proof of the surge's success, and be reasonably confident no one will remember that improving security was the task, not the goal. They can also be fairly sure that not too many folks will ask hard questions about how that "security" was achieved.

In his three tours of duty in Iraq, David Petraeus has followed the same operational formula: he hands out a lot of weapons, bribes everybody he gave the weapons to not to use them, and transfers the heck out of Dodge before the time bombs he set blow off his successors' thumbs and noses (Hey, what's this?).

Four months after Petraeus turned over command of a "tamed" Mosul, the city's police chief defected and insurgents overran the city. When Petraeus was in charge of training Iraqi security forces, his recruits disappeared into the desert night along with about 190,000 AK-47 rifles and pistols. As commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq, he created "Awakening Councils," groups of former Sunni militants that Filkins says "are credited by American officials as one of the main catalysts behind the steep reduction in violence there." More that 100,000 of these former anti-U.S. guerillas have been armed to armpits and put on the dole so they won't attack Nuri al Maliki's government forces. Creating the Awakening Councils was the single dumbest thing—among a field of highly qualified contenders for the title—that we've done in Iraq, and now, it's one of the most compelling reasons for us to stay there forever: if we leave, the gravy spigot runs dry, and all our beautiful ugliness will melt out the drain pipe when the Sunni gunmen go back to their old line of business.

And thus it is that our catalyst of victory is the machinery of our failure; we've succeeded so well in Iraq that we must stay there always. Permanent occupation of Iraq was the operational and strategic objective all along, of course, even before 9/11, even before young Mr. Bush was selected to head the neoconservative ticket...

Well, of course. As it was in the beginning, is it now and ever shall be. Chaos is the plan.

"Tomorrow belongs to me"

Regarding Greenwald, Joe speaks. You listen:

The actions of the current American administration, as well as other examples of lesser atrocities (lesser in numbers only, that is) performed by many governments large and small since the end of WWII shows that we have failed in our mission of preventing aggressive war. The question is, how? How did we as Americans come to fall so low after having shown such nobility and such compassion to our former enemies? How did we go from reluctantly going to war with the powerful military empires of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, who were clear and present threats to world peace, to excitedly going to war with Iraq, who represented no realistic threat to our own safety or to world peace? How did we go from giving the leaders (those that remained) of these dangerous nations a fair trial to torturing and murdering a bunch of poor souls in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of whom were guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Some on the right would accuse me of being an "America-hater" for pointing this out, but of course the ones that do the torturing are the ones who really do hate America, or at least they hate the noble ideals this country was founded on.

I've spoken before on how we seem to find it hard to believe that our own countrymen could be capable of such atrocities, which is why we find it difficult to prosecute them for their crimes. Maybe it's because our leaders, even if they came to power illegitimately, are an indication of who we are as a nation. They may not have had the overwhelming support of the American people, but enough of us were perfectly happy to cheer them on, for whatever reasons. As ashamed as I think these people should be, a great part of it is that we don't stress enough the things that make America great. We protect the symbols of America more than we protect the things those symbols represent. We worship the military as a thing unto itself, not for the things it defends. We make celebrities and heroes of wealthy people regardless of how they earned their wealth, celebrate corporations who make profit from war or exploitation, and look with disdain on people who band together to try to get their fair share of their hard work. The politicians and the media elites who live in their own well-protected world are just symptoms of the real problems in this country, and most of our time is spent just trying to get by.

We should also remember how we got to Nuremberg in the first place: millions dead, a continent brought to ruin, and two cities devastated by the most horrendous weapon ever devised. Those who rose to power in Germany, Italy, and Japan, who either believed or merely perpetuated, for political purposes, the idea that God was on their side, were not the kind of people who would give up that power without a fight. And while the methods being used by our current administration are subtler, less obvious, there's no reason to believe they wouldn't hesitate to go as far as they did. I for one would rather they never got the opportunity...

I've heard even some of the Oborg- the less purely assimilated and vestigially partisan- mutter that letting Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton off will only ensure the whole criminal cabal will be back in 2012, with Jebbie at the helm.

But it's far worse than that, as Glenn and Joe hit precisely. It's not just Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton, or the Republican party that's the problem. The problem is even bigger than the hundreds of thousands of Company private contractors they represent and the millions of corporate termites eating at the foundations of democracy.

It's a problem that required two world wars to sterilize out of Europe, but has grown back. It's a problem that has haunted the middle east for the last 5000 years, and the Mediterranean basin for the last 3000. It's a problem that has lived in the jungles and savannas and deserts of Africa for the last 100,000.

The problem is that modern man is the killer ape. It wasn't the bonobos that evolved to ascendency. You can argue successfully that there has always been a large component of civil social congenial co-operativity in our species. But every time it's the alpha ape that's seized power and twisted the co-operativity beyond constructive to destructive purposes.

We've got to get beyond it. If we survive much longer, we will. But we provide our own strongest selection pressure, so just what primate will be the fittest to survive depends on our own nature.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good Question

Where Was George H. W. Bush on November 22, 1963 Anyway?

Keeping the Love Alive

The love of war, that is:

JERUSALEM -- In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine.

For two years, the Islamic Resistance Movement (known by its Arabic acronym, Hamas) has been losing support internally and externally. This wasn't the case in the days after the party came to power democratically in early 2006; despite being unjustly ostracized by the international community for its anti-Israeli stance, Hamas enjoyed the backing of Palestinians and other Arabs. Having won a decisive parliamentary majority on an anti-corruption platform promising change and reform, Hamas worked hard to govern better than had Fatah, its rival and predecessor.

Things began to sour when Hamas violently seized control of Gaza, but even then, Hamas enjoyed considerable domestic support -- and much goodwill externally. Then the movement turned down every legitimate offer from its nationalist PLO rivals and Egyptian mediators to pursue reconciliation, and support for it began to slip.

...The lack of international support since the 2006 elections, followed by this rebuff to Gaza's only Arab neighbor, Egypt, compounded the deterioration of Hamas's internal support. By November, the survey showed, only 16.6 percent of Palestinians supported Hamas, compared with nearly 40 percent favoring Fatah. The decline in support for Hamas has been steady: A year earlier, the same pollster showed that Hamas's support was at 19.7 percent; in August 2007, it was at 21.6 percent; in March 2007, it was at 25.2 percent; and in September 2006, backing for the Islamists stood at 29.7 percent.

That's why, as the six-month cease-fire with Israel came to an end, Hamas calculated -- it seems correctly -- that it had nothing to gain by continuing the truce; if it had, its credentials as a resistance movement would have been no different from those of Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah. Unable to secure an open border and an end to the Israeli siege, while refusing to share or give up power to Abbas, Hamas could have had no route to renewed public favor.

For different reasons, Hamas and Israel both gave up on the cease-fire, preferring instead to climb over corpses to reach their political goals. One side wants to resuscitate its public support by appearing to be a heroic resister, while the other, on the eve of elections, wants to show toughness to a public unhappy with the nuisance of the Qassam rockets...

It's a true love of common interests, common goals, where endless war is the objective, and Chaos is the Plan.

Bait and Switched

Debbie Morgan catches on.

...How often is a piece of news rendered unfit for United States citizen consumption and replaced with or rewritten to include propaganda?

A set of articles written by Joe McDonald about China's concerns with the current United States economic situation were replaced with one US-friendly article. Both articles were similar in content. One of them was found on USA Today and the other on the Washington Post; the titles were, respectively, China urges Washington to protect its investments and China tells US to get economy in order. The title of the US-Friendly article, which appeared the next morning on both USA Today and the Washington Post at the link of the original articles, was China's sinking currency causes tensions with U.S.

Both articles cite a statement made at the most recent Strategic Economic Dialogue by Vice Premier Wang Qishan; "We hope the U.S. side will take the necessary measures to stabilize the economy and financial markets, as well as to guarantee the safety of China's assets and investments in the United States." The original articles show that China is deeply concerned about keeping their economy on track, quote the governor of the Chinese central bank, who criticized the United States for the global economic situation and holds the US accountable because of its "excessive consumption and high leverage." While the original articles stated that Wang did not elaborate on his comments, Beijing reportedly owns $585 Billion in US Treasury debt.

The research department at RTR Radio discovered that links to the McDonald articles, book marked the night before, had been switched for a totally different one, written by David Lynch. The team found, upon further investigation, that while the links were still the same, the McDonald articles had, indeed, been replaced by the Lynch one, which claims that the Chinese yaun's value had peaked against the US Dollar and its descent was complicating relations between the United States and China. The tone of the Lynch article paints a totally different picture from the original McDonald pieces, even stating that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would "press Chinese officials for additional yuan gains," but instead found "Chinese officials more interested in lecturing than being lectured."..

Questions remain. How often does this kind of deception go on? How many times has it happened? Had I not experienced it first hand, I might not have believed it. Can we trust our mainstream media? My suggestion would be that when you find a piece of news that seems too controversial for the public, copy it, print it, take a screen shot of it, something" but don't let the mainstream media hide news from us! After all, how are we to make the right judgments if we don't have all the answers?

Answers: All the time, Countless, No, and finally, You aren't "supposed" to make correct judgements- that's up to our Dear Leaders.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Meet the New Boss, $ame Owners as the Old Boss

Michael Collins detects a trend:

A few defenders of President elect Barack Obama are attacking one of his most enlightened statements of the campaign -- the request for open dialog and criticism from his supporters. This occurred on his blog after he voted to support FISA legislation in the summer of 2008.

"I learned long ago, when working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, that when citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I'm not exempt from that. I'm certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too." Barack Obama, July 3, 2008

Responding to criticism of cabinet choices and, most recently, the selection of bigoted preacher Rev. Rick Warren to open the inauguration ceremonies, some Obama supporters are actually telling other supporters to "stop criticizing Obama!"

A Dec. 24 CNN poll showed that 82% of the public approves of the Obama transition efforts, while just 15% find them lacking.

If the well placed supporters can't tolerate negative feedback at 82% approval, what will happen when there's sizable public opposition for a broad based initiative? Sending twenty thousand U.S. troops to Afghanistan comes to mind.

During the cabinet appointment controversy, Obama's national deputy campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand, scolded the left in the Huffington Post. While this preceded the Warren appointment, Hildebrand's general argument was used by those apologizing for Obama's choice of Warren, as well.

Hildebrand starts out by arguing that, "This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments." What time would that be? When we're all facing eviction? After the next new war we simply have to fight? When even more of those responsible for past failures are placed in positions of authority?

He then states the obvious: "After all, he was elected to be the president of all the people - not just those on the left." Always a helpful reminder. Then those on the left are told to back off. After listing the critical issues facing the country, Hildebrand says, "That's his job." Just let Obama do it. Citizens are supposed to butt out while the boss takes care of it?

He ends by telling us that Obama will be a great president if "he can work with Congress and the American people." Those who speak out are denying Obama his "greatness?"

This isn't about Obama or anybody's greatness. It's about a nation in serious trouble, partially because the "loyal opposition" sat on its hands for eight years without raising as much as a whimper while corporatist policies brought the nation to its knees.

These arguments don't square with the history of free speech and questioning authority in the United States. Free speech is an essential element of greater economic and social justice, i.e., real change...

We have the real change involved in considering Certs a breath mint instead of a candy mint.

Meanwhile, Cryptogon is busy documenting the change Bu$hie's Free Market policies may have intended all along: causing even greater damage to the Chinese and Russian economies than our own.

If your goal is to create a worldwide post-industrial feudal state, the last thing you want is competitors. A real global Free Market, like Change, makes a great spiel for the rubes. Like Freedom of Speech, or the Bill of Rights, you can't beat them as talking points. But just ask Cheney: the grown-ups in charge know better.

Worse than eating broccoli

Today The New York Pravda's Opinion section comes out with a new Official Story on Iraq, presented in a quaint and artsy businesslike format.

You betcha it's All Good News, campers: only 500 civilians killed in 2008! Hardly anybody made homeless! We're winning one for the Gipper! Or Dear Leader, anyway!

In The New York Pravda's Business section:

Quietly, as the United States presidential election and its aftermath have dominated the news, America’s three broadcast network news divisions have stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq.

“The war has gone on longer than a lot of news organizations’ ability or appetite to cover it,” said Jane Arraf, a former Baghdad bureau chief for CNN who has remained in Iraq as a contract reporter for The Christian Science Monitor.

Joseph Angotti, a former vice president of NBC News, said he could not recall any other time when all three major broadcast networks lacked correspondents in an active war zone that involved United States forces.

Except, of course, in Afghanistan, where about 30,000 Americans are stationed, and where until recently no American television network, broadcast or cable, maintained a full-time bureau...

“Americans like their wars movie length and with a happy ending,” Mr. Boettcher said. “If the war drags on and there is no happy ending, Americans start to squirm in their seats. In the case of television news, they began changing the channel when a story from Iraq appeared...”

Ah, the Free Market solution to justify ignoring the war: bad news doesn't sell.

That must be the reason for the coverage change, certainly not the Pentagon's control of what news stories are news.

That must be the reason for the differences in statistics.

Deaths per week:

The tally:
Deaths for 2008 to date: 8,969, not 500.

How are these numbers derived?

Iraq Body Count (IBC) records the violent civilian deaths that have resulted from the 2003 military intervention in Iraq. Its public database includes deaths caused by US-led coalition forces and paramilitary or criminal attacks by others.

IBC’s documentary evidence is drawn from crosschecked media reports of violent events leading to the death of civilians, or of bodies being found, and is supplemented by the careful review and integration of hospital, morgue, NGO and official figures.

Systematically extracted details about deadly incidents and the individuals killed in them are stored with every entry in the database. The minimum details always extracted are the number killed, where, and when.

Confusion about the numbers produced by the project can be avoided by bearing in mind that:

* IBC’s figures are not ‘estimates’ but a record of actual, documented deaths.
* IBC records solely violent deaths.
* IBC records solely civilian (strictly, ‘non-combatant’) deaths.
* IBC’s figures are constantly updated and revised as new data comes in, and frequent consultation is advised...

All this differs from the numbers in The New York Pravda, which are derived from the Pentagon, who essentially pull their numbers out of Robert Gates' ass.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Brick in the Wall

via Avedon via makethemaccountable, it looks like Oborg Prime has chosen another live one:

Since the 1980s, but particularly under the Bush administration, certain elements of the religious right, corporate culture and Republican right wing have argued that free public education represents either a massive fraud or a contemptuous failure. Far from a genuine call for reform, these attacks largely stem from an attempt to transform schools from a public investment to a private good, answerable not to the demands and values of a democratic society but to the imperatives of the marketplace. As the educational historian David Labaree rightly argues, public schools have been under attack in the last decade "not just because they are deemed ineffective but because they are public."[1] Right-wing efforts to disinvest in public schools as critical sites of teaching and learning and govern them according to corporate interests is obvious in the emphasis on standardized testing, the use of top-down curricular mandates, the influx of advertising in schools, the use of profit motives to "encourage" student performance, the attack on teacher unions and modes of pedagogy that stress rote learning and memorization...

The hidden curriculum is that testing be used as a ploy to de-skill teachers by reducing them to mere technicians, that students be similarly reduced to customers in the marketplace rather than as engaged, critical learners and that always underfunded public schools fail so that they can eventually be privatized. But there is an even darker side to the reforms initiated under the Bush administration and now used in a number of school systems throughout the country...

As the logic of the market and "the crime complex"[2] frame the field of social relations in schools, students are subjected to three particularly offensive policies, defended by school authorities and politicians under the rubric of school safety. First, students are increasingly subjected to zero-tolerance policies that are used primarily to punish, repress and exclude them. Second, they are increasingly absorbed into a "crime complex" in which security staff, using harsh disciplinary practices, now displace the normative functions teachers once provided both in and outside of the classroom.[3] Third, more and more schools are breaking down the space between education and juvenile delinquency, substituting penal pedagogies for critical learning and replacing a school culture that fosters a discourse of possibility with a culture of fear and social control...

Unfortunately, Obama has appointed as his secretary of education someone who actually embodies this utterly punitive, anti-intellectual, corporatized and test-driven model of schooling.

Barack Obama's selection of Arne Duncan for secretary of education does not bode well either for the political direction of his administration nor for the future of public education. Obama's call for change falls flat with this appointment, not only because Duncan largely defines schools within a market-based and penal model of pedagogy, but also because he does not have the slightest understanding of schools as something other than adjuncts of the corporation at best or the prison at worse...

Duncan, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, presided over the implementation and expansion of an agenda that militarized and corporatized the third largest school system in the nation, one that is about 90 percent poor and nonwhite. Under Duncan, Chicago took the lead in creating public schools run as military academies, vastly expanded draconian student expulsions, instituted sweeping surveillance practices, advocated a growing police presence in the schools, arbitrarily shut down entire schools and fired entire school staffs. A recent report, "Education on Lockdown," claimed that partly under Duncan's leadership "Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has become infamous for its harsh zero tolerance policies. Although there is no verified positive impact on safety, these policies have resulted in tens of thousands of student suspensions and an exorbitant number of expulsions."[4] Duncan's neoliberal ideology is on full display in the various connections he has established with the ruling political and business elite in Chicago.[5]...

... In spite of what Duncan argues, the greatest threat to our children does not come from lowered standards, the absence of privatized choice schemes or the lack of rigid testing measures that offer the aura of accountability. On the contrary, it comes from a society that refuses to view children as a social investment, consigns 13 million children to live in poverty, reduces critical learning to massive testing programs, promotes policies that eliminate most crucial health and public services and defines rugged individualism through the degrading celebration of a gun culture, extreme sports and the spectacles of violence that permeate corporate controlled media industries. Students are not at risk because of the absence of market incentives in the schools. Young people are under siege in American schools because, in the absence of funding, equal opportunity and real accountability, far too many of them have increasingly become institutional breeding grounds for racism, right-wing paramilitary cultures, social intolerance and sexism.[13]...

[1] Cited in Alfie Kohn, "The Real Threat to American Schools," Tikkun (March-April 2001), p. 25. For an interesting commentary on Obama and his possible pick to head the education department and the struggle over school reform, see Alfie Kohn, "Beware School 'Reformers'," The Nation (December 29, 2008). Online: www.thenation.com/doc/20081229/kohn/print.

[2] This term comes form: David Garland, "The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society" (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

[3] For a brilliant analysis of the "governing through crime" complex, see Jonathan Simon, "Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear," (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007).

[4] Advancement Project in partnership with Padres and Jovenes Unidos, Southwest Youth Collaborative, "Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track," (New York: Children & Family Justice Center of Northwestern University School of Law, March 24, 2005), p.31. On the broader issue of the effect of racialized zero tolerance policies on public education, see Christopher G. Robbins, "Expelling Hope: The Assault on Youth and the Militarization of Schooling" (Albany: SUNY Press, 2008). See also, Henry A. Giroux, "The Abandoned Generation" (New York: Palgrave, 2004).

[5] David Hursh and Pauline Lipman, "Chapter 8: Renaissance 2010: The Reassertion of Ruling-Class Power through Neoliberal Policies in Chicago" in David Hursh, "High-Stakes Testing and the Decline of Teaching and Learning" (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008)...

[13] Donna Gaines, "How Schools Teach Our Kids to Hate," Newsday (Sunday, April 25, 1999), p. B5...

There is more, much more, extensively documented.

You would think, with the economy of the nation crashing and burning, an advocate of the Chicago School of anything would have little creditability.

If the goal was anything but control, you might be right.

Et Tu, Klaatu?

The difference is so stark even the Editorial page of The New York Pravda noticed:

The remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is a sentimentalized take on the 1951 classic. The new version has its uses, so see it. Then rent the original and watch it late at night — the way bleary-eyed adolescents did when it could be seen only on grainy broadcasts in the wee hours of the morning.

I compared the two earlier this month, watching the vintage version for the first time in at least 25 years. I was reminded of how deeply it had insinuated itself into the DNA of popular culture. I also thought of Norma Desmond, the fallen movie idol in “Sunset Boulevard,” who said of her spent career: “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”

Digital effects have revolutionized the monster, science-fiction and superhero genres, making the films larger than ever visually. But the same effects have whittled away at the acting space, making the movies smaller in the dramatic sense.

The minimalist — and altogether cool — effects in the 1951 film leave lots of room for the performers. Michael Rennie is aces as Klaatu, the brainy, handsome and thoroughly polite alien who threatens to eliminate every creature on the planet — kittens, puppies and cute little babies included — if earthlings become a danger to the galaxy.

Watching the movie as a middle-aged man, I saw what I lacked eyes to see as a 12-year-old. There is no shred of sentimentality in Rennie’s performance. He is a congenial exterminating angel, dropping round for tea to tell of horrors to come.

Rennie’s Klaatu is God-fearing, emotionally sophisticated, superior to but indistinguishable from the earthlings among whom he walks. That’s an open-minded characterization at the start of a decade dominated by red-baiting and fear of outlanders in general.

Keanu Reeves’s Klaatu is numbingly monotonic. He is emotionally underdeveloped, and suffers from a robotic flatness of affect. Instead, the scriptwriters gave him powers that are predictably demonstrated through pricey special effects that do not sustain dramatic momentum. With all this digital sleight of hand, the performers are reduced to the equivalent of bystanders at a fireworks show.

By making the new Klaatu emotionally naïve, the writers make him subject to earthling tears and cuddly puppy influences that would have cut no mustard with the Klaatu of old. This emotional vulnerability allows for a great deal of unjustified optimism about the human race’s ability to change its destructive behavior...

It gets worse. In the original, Klaatu was simply saying: look, we've made this race of police 'bots who react swiftly and sternly to unprovoked aggression in space. You cats had better mind your manners out there.

None of this inane prattle about "destroying the earth to save it" that's right out of the D.o'D. playbook. After all, it's our world. Global destruction was simply the bottom of the menu of things Gort could do if we insisted on being Asses in Space. You'll note Gort only takes out the weapons, not the soldiers, at first, and only two soldiers after they've killed Klaatu.

The differences in behavior are even more inane. In the new movie, ours is a liveable world the aliens want to preserve for "everyone"(?)- and the aliens want to go and sterilize it and repopulate it with "correct" lifeforms they've re-engineered derived from the original?

Why not let us sterilize it instead- if that's what we were going to do anyway?

Answer: Because it's not our world, any more than Iraq belongs to the Iraqis anymore...

But I digress. The original 1951 movie was a pop culture Molotov thrown at Allen Dulles' CIA, which was busy expanding the Invisible Empire with pre-emptive police action wars in Korea and VietNam. Some of the actors in the Day the Earth Stood Still were blacklisted during the McCarthy red scare.

The current movie is something else entirely, bankrolled and produced by a pseudo-environmental corporate wing of the same security industrial complex that feels entitled as Team Amerika, World Police, to destroy the Village to save it.

For themselves.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Answer is "Follow the Money"

The question is Did Bush Sr. Kill Kennedy and Frame Nixon?. David Swanson reviews Russ Baker's latest, Family of Secrets:

Russ Baker's new book presents an account of the U.S. government that is both remarkably new and extensively documented. According to this account, George H. W. Bush, the father of the current president, devoted his career to secret intelligence work with the CIA many years before he became the CIA director, and the network of spies and petroleum plutocrats he began working with early on has played a powerful but hidden role in determining the direction of the U.S. government up to the current day.

New research and newly highlighted information assembled by Baker presents at least the strong possibility that Bush was involved in assassinating President Kennedy, and that Bush was involved in staging the Watergate break-in (and the break-in at Dan Ellsberg's psychiatrist's) with the purpose of having these break-ins exposed and the blame placed on President Nixon. In this account, those in on the get-Nixon plot included John Dean and Bob Woodward. While this retelling of history would make a certain Robert Redford movie look really, really silly, it would -- on the other hand -- make Woodward's performance during Watergate fit more coherently with everything he's known to have done before and since. It would also give new meaning to Dean's recent book title "Conservatives Without a Conscience." I would love to see either of these men's response to Baker's book...

Baker does not focus on Bush Jr.'s grandfather, Prescott Bush, and does not even mention his role in the plot to overthrow President Roosevelt in 1933 ( http://davidswanson.org/node/1337 ). Baker's focus is on Poppy, although Prescott and his anger toward Kennedy are in the background. It is not a completely new idea to suppose that Kennedy was killed because he angered the CIA and powerful Americans with business interests in Cuba. It is, as far as I know, new to show, as Baker extensively documents and then summarizes, that:

"Poppy Bush was closely tied to key members of the intelligence community including the deposed CIA head with a known grudge against JFK; he was also tied to Texas oligarchs who hated Kennedy's politics and whose wealth was directly threatened by Kennedy; this network was part of the military/intelligence elite with a history of using assassination as an instrument of policy.

"Poppy Bush was in Dallas on November 21 and most likely the morning of November 22. He hid that fact, he lied about knowing where he was, then he created an alibi based on a lead he knew was false. And he never acknowledged the closeness of his relationship with Oswald's handler George de Mohrenschildt.

"Poppy's business partner Thomas Devine met with de Mohrenschildt during that period, on behalf of the CIA.

"Poppy's eventual Texas running mate in the 1964 election, Jack Crichton, was connected to the military intelligence figures who led Kennedy's motorcade.

"Crichton and D. Harold Byrd, owner of the Texas School Book Depository building, were both connected to de Mohrenschildt -- and directly to each other through oil-business dealings.

"Byrd brought in the tenant that hired Oswald shortly before the assassination.

"Oswald got his job in the building through a friend of de Mohrenschildt's with her own intelligence connections -- including family ties to Allen Dulles."

You start to get a taste of the sort of case Baker builds. It's persuasive, but not conclusive. If you buy into the basic outlines of it, you come up against a history of American politics in which our top "elected" officials are not just chosen through a process openly corrupted by money and media and parties, but are also chosen through a process of covert ops...

The interesting thing about Baker's claims regarding Kennedy and Nixon is that they would suggest that the CIA actually succeeded at something, that -- in fact -- the CIA or members thereof managed to keep major secrets for decades...

This has seemed obvious. The mistakes the CIA have made all seem to reap a tidy profit. Follow the money and they don't seem mistakes at all for the people that end up holding the gold.

Russ Baker elaborates on this "Nixon made a deal with the Devil" theme here:

...Why did Richard Nixon repeatedly promote George H.W. Bush (Bush Sr., or Poppy, as he is known) for important political posts despite both his apparent lack of qualifications and Nixon's own privately-expressed doubts about Bush's mettle? Why, even when Nixon became so wary of so many of his appointees that he fired cabinet members en masse, did he continue to be solicitous of Bush Sr.?

Nixon named the obscure Poppy to be UN ambassador in 1970 and then chairman of the national Republican Party in 1972. Even earlier, in 1968, Nixon actually put Bush Sr. on his list of vice presidential running mate prospects – this not long after Poppy was first elected to the House of Representatives. Similarly, Nixon's replacement, Gerald Ford, sent Poppy off as envoy to China and later made him CIA director, though by most accounts he was an odd choice for both of these sensitive jobs.

In short, in the Nixon era, Poppy Bush was the man who always seemed to be around, yet also managed to stay out of the main story. Digging way back, I came upon evidence that Nixon felt beholden to the Bush family and to the interests it represented. The reason: Bush Sr.'s father, Senator Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W. Bush, apparently helped launch Nixon's political career in 1946 as a way of destroying his first opponent, liberal congressman Jerry Voorhis, an outspoken critic of the excesses of bankers and financiers. Given the current Wall Street disasters, and the role of Prescott's grandson in enabling them, this revelation has obvious contemporary relevance.

Once I understood this special Nixon-Bush relationship, which is basically missing from all major Nixon biographies, I began to ask what exactly Poppy had been doing during the Watergate years. This led to the discovery that the Watergate break-in was almost certainly just one of a series of illegal acts that were engineered by people around Nixon, but not by Nixon himself. Far from defending Nixon's interests, these people had been privately frustrated with him on a variety of fronts and were now looking to take him down.

Simply put, once Nixon attained the presidency, he struggled for his independence, and began doing things that displeased his former sponsors...

Where have I heard this before? Oh, yes:

...After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Ask the Correct Questions

Cryptogon is so inclined: Israel Attacks Gaza, Hundreds Dead: Who Made a Killing?

What did the Benazir Bhutto assassination and the latest Israeli attacks in Gaza have in common?

There was a strong move higher on gold immediately preceding both incidents, which were spaced one year apart, to the day.

Remember how gold moved before Bhutto was killed?

Check out this Bloomberg piece from yesterday (a day before the Israeli attack):

Gold prices rose the most in a week as mounting tensions in the Middle East and South Asia boosted the appeal of the precious metal as a haven.

Palestinian militants yesterday launched their biggest rocket attack on southern Israel in at least six months after a truce expired Dec. 19. Pakistani troops are being diverted from tribal areas near Afghanistan to the border with India, the Associated Press reported. Gold gained 4 percent this week.

“The only possible explanation for gold’s gains are the geopolitical tension in Gaza and in India and Pakistan,” said Leonard Kaplan, the president of Prospector Asset Management in Evanston, Illinois.

Gold futures for February delivery climbed $23.20, or 2.7 percent, to $871.20 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Dec. 17. The metal is up 6.4 percent this month.

Yes, this is a Coincidence, but you might want to see, They Made a Killing: The Use of Knowledge of Covert Operations in the Stock Market, anyway, to see how this has worked in the past. Obviously, the Gaza attack isn’t a covert operation, but the point is the same...

Obviously they showed him the door because he was too crude, saying in public what the rest only said in private, but Rummy's chummies are still investing in terrorism futures, a niche of the Market that's still as profitable as ever.


The Cowboy wonders why no one has arrested Karl Rove for his latest venture- theatening Connell with death, and delivering on it.

One assumes Rove continues with his operations because some powerful people find them very useful.

Also, since he buried most of them, Rove knows where all the bodies are- and who paid to plant them.

He doubtless has massive evidence that could imcriminate most of Poppy's crime family- and others- and ways to disseminate it if he should go down.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Deafening the Playing Field

Nonlethally, of course:

...After the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the United States took action by imposing a strict arms embargo on China. So how, exactly, was it legal for a U.S. company to sell China a powerful tool to incapacitate and injure protesters in advance of the Olympic Games in Beijing?

Reporting from a Beijing police equipment expo in April, journalist David Hambling noticed a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) produced by California-based American Technology Corporation (ATC) on prominent display. The LRAD works by emitting from a dish high-energy acoustic waves that are said to be, at close proximity, louder than a jet engine. It is capable of reaching 150 decibels, enough to incite panic, inflict pain, and even cause hearing loss among large crowds...

The country most likely to produce weapons of mass destruction that might be used against Americans is Amerika.

Of course, they were used here, too, but the Company probably just gave them to Dear Leader's BFF.

Who needs a taser when you have a phaser?

via Cryptogon:

The research arm of the US Department of Justice is working on two portable non-lethal weapons that inflict pain from a distance using beams of laser light or microwaves, with the intention of putting them into the hands of police to subdue suspects.

The two devices under development by the civilian National Institute of Justice both build on knowledge gained from the Pentagon’s controversial Active Denial System (ADS) - first demonstrated in public last year, which uses a 2-metre beam of short microwaves to heat up the outer layer of a person’s skin and cause pain...

The NIJ’s laser weapon has been dubbed Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response - PHaSR - and resembles a bulky rifle. It was created in 2005 by a US air force agency to temporarily dazzle enemies (see image, right), but the addition of a second, infrared laser makes it able to heat skin too.

The NIJ is testing the PHaSR in various scenarios, which may include prison situations as well as law enforcement.

The NIJ’s portable microwave-based weapon is less developed. Currently a tabletop prototype with a range of less than a metre, a backpack-sized prototype with a range of 15 metres will be ready next year, a spokesperson says.

The truly portable mini-ADS could prove the more useful, as microwaves penetrate clothing better than the infra-red beam, which is most effective on exposed skin. Although the spokesman says: “In LEC [Law Enforcement and Corrections] use there is always a little bit of skin to target...”

A new nonlethal weapon for the Man, and it most certainly will never be abused to parboil suspected perpetrators from a distance.

Certainly the nonlethal capabilities of this weapon must be why the two pictures I've found of it are from the German and the Chinese armies, because militaries are known for their tendency to invest time and money in weapons that won't hurt people.

The crime is, weapons manufacturers aren't just content to develop top secret devices for the United States military. Their lobbyists spend a lot of time and money to convince Congress to allow them to sell them to domestic police agencies and foreign militaries, too. It's what the Free Market is all about.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Strange v.3

It's nice to see the Companies are going to continue to run the Company, often with Saudi controlling interest:

The Wall Street Journal reported in its December 19 edition, that President-elect Barack Obama is slated to choose retired Vice Admiral Dennis Blair as his Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Blair's choice as DNI would further cement Pentagon control over America's intelligence apparatus. Currently, Air Force Lt. General Michael V. Hayden, a former Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) is CIA Director while retired Vice Admiral and former chief at NSA, Mike McConnell is the current Director of the Office of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the chief of America's 16 spy agencies...

Agencies overseen by the ODNI include: the Central Intelligence Agency; Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency; Army Military Intelligence; Defense Intelligence Agency; Marine Corps Intelligence Activity; National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; National Reconnaissance Office; National Security Agency; Office of Naval Intelligence; the Department of Energy's Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence and Coast Guard Intelligence; the Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration; the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; and the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Half of the agencies comprising the "Intelligence Community" over which the ODNI has statutory authority are embedded within the Pentagon. But this doesn't quite tell the tale. ODNI is headquartered in McClean, Virginia, the capitol of militarist corporate grift. It employs some 1,500 people, largely drawn from the world of private intelligence contractors where top secret and above security clearances are marketable commodities. As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock wrote in his essential study, Spies for Hire:

The bulk of this $50 billion [intelligence budget] is serviced by one hundred companies... The analogy between the intelligence industry and the military-industrial complex famously described by President Eisenhower in 1961 is fitting. By 2006, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 70 percent, or almost three-quarters, of the intelligence budget was spent on contracts. That astounding figure...means that the vast majority of the money spent by the Intelligence Community is not going into building an expert cadre within government but to creating a secret army of analysts and action officers inside the private sector. (Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008, pp. 12-13)

Among the firms embedded at ODNI are corporate heavy-hitters such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton and SAIC. A glance at the Project on Government Oversight's Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD) find all four firms prominently on display...

Blair served as the President of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), which describes itself as "a non-profit corporation that administers three federally funded research and development centers to provide objective analyses of national security issues." However, according to the Journal,

he didn't recuse himself from involvement in a study of a contract for the F-22 fighter jet. At the time, he was sitting on the board of a subcontractor on that program, EDO Corp. The inspector general found in a 2006 report that Mr. Blair violated the institute's conflict-of-interest standards but didn't influence the outcome for the study. Mr. Blair resigned from IDA over the matter, and he also stepped down from the EDO board. (Siobhan Gorman, "Obama Picks Military Man, Blair, as Top Spymaster," The Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2008)

Sounds like more "change" from the "change president" to me! But other conflicts of interest are more troubling.

Iridium Satellite LLC, is a privately held firm based in Bethesda, Maryland and is one of a nexus of companies that have extensive contracts with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the ultra-spooky outfit that designs and flies America's fleet of military spy satellites. As ODNI, Blair would oversee NRO operations. As Tim Shorrock reported,

With an estimated $8 billion annual budget, the largest in the IC, contractors control about $7 billion worth of business at NRO, giving the spy satellite industry the distinction of being the most privatized part of the Intelligence Community (Spies for Hire, op. cit., p. 16)

Iridium, according to its website, maintains a "constellation" of "66 low-earth orbiting (LEO), cross-linked satellites operating as a fully meshed network and supported by multiple in-orbit spares. It is the largest commercial satellite constellation in the world..."

But what Admiral Blair and other Iridium board members are not likely to trumpet during Senate hearings, USA Today reported in 2003,

In an odd twist, the new Iridium is 24% owned by an investment firm controlled by Prince Khalid bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman of Saudi Arabia.

The prince used to own a minority chunk of the old Iridium in partnership with the Saudi Binladen Group, the company run by Osama bin Laden's family. So in a way, some of the money that gave a start to the world's most notorious terrorist partly funded a communications system helping the U.S. military blast Saddam's army. Now that's globalization. (Kevin Maney, "Remember those 'Iridium's going to fail' jokes? Prepare to eat your hat," USA Today, April 9, 2003)

Depending on one's point of view there's nothing odd at all, just business as usual!

The company's board of directors include, among others, Chairman of Iridium Holdings LLC, Dan Colussy, former CEO of United Nuclear Corporation and Chairman and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the defunct Pan American World Airlines. According to William Blum's definitive account, "Pan Am has a long history of collaboration with the CIA." Dennis Blair. Alvin B. "Buzzy" Krongard, the former Chairman of the Board of the investment banking firm Alex Brown Incorporated and Executive Director of the CIA. Steven Pfeiffer, a senior partner and Chair of the Executive Committee of the high-powered law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski. Tom Ridge, the former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and two-term Governor of Pennsylvania. Lest we forget, amongst Ridge's other "accomplishments" was his 1999 signing of a death warrant for framed-up journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, while Jamal's case was on appeal.

Pretty "smart" company Blair keeps! Which just goes to prove, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

You had to be there

Tom Tomorrow does the highlights of 2008:

An Unconventional Warfare Christmas

Antifascist Calling:

On December 13, the whistleblowing website Wikileaks did investigative- and citizen journalists a great service by publishing [.pdf] the Army Special Operations Forces FM 3-05.130, titled Unconventional Warfare.

Published in September 2008, the 248-page document though unclassified, is restricted "to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by other means." The Department of the Army urges recipients to "destroy by any method that will prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document." Wikileaks has guaranteed that the disappearance of this critical primary source into the bowels of the Pentagon will not occur...

Now, I realiize the ephemeral and changing nature of the Web- to say nothing of the Pentagon's desire to control what you read- makes it quite likely this link will disappear. If you'd like a copy of this interesting field manual, feel free to email me for it.

It's nothing you didn't already know, it's just amusing to see it written out in an Army field manual.

And Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silent Night for the Repo Men

It can't happen here, only in Britain, right:

The government has been accused of trampling on individual liberties by proposing wide-ranging new powers for bailiffs to break into homes and to use “reasonable force” against householders who try to protect their valuables.

Under the regulations, bailiffs for private firms would for the first time be given permission to restrain or pin down householders. They would also be able to force their way into homes to seize property to pay off debts, such as unpaid credit card bills and loans.

The government, which wants to crack down on people who evade debts, says the new powers would be overseen by a robust industry watchdog. However, the laws are being criticised as the latest erosion of the rights of the householder in his own home.

“These laws strip away tried and tested protections that make a person’s home his castle, and which have stood for centuries,” said Paul Nicolson, chairman of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, a London-based welfare charity. “They could clearly lead to violent confrontations and undermine fundamental liberties...”

...It is claimed these powers are already abused. In one case, an 89-year-old grandmother returned home to find a bailiff sitting in her chair having drawn up a list of her possessions. He was pursuing a parking fine owed by her son, who did not even live at the address.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Take a Walk on the Wild Side


Christians In Action

Jesse Ventura tells some really interesting stories.

Shoes for Royalty

Chris Floyd deconstructs the motivation behind the shoes and the silence of the lambs.

Since his site goes down regularly due to frequent attacks, I've reproduced parts of it it here, but visit the original for the links:

...We've all had good fun with the image of George W. Bush dodging the shoes flung at him by an angry Iraqi journalist this weekend – who rightly denounced the Crawford Caligula as a "dog" and a killer of Iraqi innocents – but now, as As'ad AbuKhalil notes, a more serious question arises: what will happen to Muntathar al Zaidi, the correspondent for Baghdadiyah Television, who, alone of all the journalists Bush has seen in the past eight years, had the courage to call him the murderer that he is?

After flinging the shoes at Bush – who ducked behind the protective hand of his puppet, Iraqi PM Nouri al Maliki – Zaidi was set upon by Iraqi security forces, who dragged him into a nearby room, where his cries could be heard for several minutes, as McClatchy reports. Later, a reporter for a television station run by Maliki's party said that Zaidi had been kicked and beaten until “he was crying like a woman," the New York Times reports. He's now being held in one of the Green Zone government's notorious prisons where the local goon squads, having learned from two stern masters – the Bush Family's old protégé Saddam Hussein and Bush's very own handcrafted torture program – subject detainees to horrible abuses. Zaidi's employers, who are based in Cairo, have called for his release, and up to 100 lawyers from across the Arab world have offered to defend him.

The incident has been played down in most of the corporate American press – especially Zaidi's motivation. The New York Times noted only that he had "bad feelings about the coalition forces," but of course gave no reasons why he might have such feelings. It's the same old "motiveless malignancy" that we are told drives every critic of American power – they are just "evil," or "extreme" or "unhinged," etc.; their reactions never have the slightest thing to do with U.S. policy. Yet McClatchy, as usual, digs deeper and reports that Zaidi had been especially affected by the American bombing of the thickly populated civilian areas of Baghdad's Sadr City during one of the brutal pacification operations of the "surge" earlier this year. As Juan Cole notes:

"The frequent US bombing of civilian Iraqi cities that are already under US military occupation has been one of the most under-reported stories of the Iraq War."

It has indeed. It is virtually an un-reported story in the mainstream press. This savage air campaign (a flagrant war crime, by the way; but of course in these days of "continuity," no one cares about that) was a key component of what Barack Obama has called the "success beyond our wildest dreams" of Bush's "surge" – along with the U.S. death squad operations that Establishment court scribe Bob Woodward was allowed to reveal earlier this year. Meanwhile, that "wild success" – which engendered a sense of "triumphalism" among Bush's entourage on the trip to Baghdad, the NY Times reports – has produced such a peaceful, stable situation that Bush had to sneak into Iraq's capital city (having sneaked out of America's capital city), where he was humiliated before the entire world…. more than five full years after he proclaimed "Mission accomplished." (If this is the type of "wild success" Obama envisions for his own promised Bush-like surge in Afghanistan, then the prez-elect better prepare himself for a taste of shoe leather on one of his future visits to Kabul, as one of our commenters here astutely noted yesterday.)

...But you know what? Good American Liberals will tell you that Zaidi should be punished severely for his heinous crime...

...Whenever a liberal "of impeccable credentials" shouts "long prison sentence!" I reach for my deconstruction toolkit. First, a rhetorical question: Should Marylin Klinghoffer, of Achille Lauro fame, have gone to jail for a rather long time after she spat in the faces of the terrorists who murdered her husband? After all, no one wants to make light of or license the physical assault on any man, no matter how much he's deservedly hated. This is not how we do justice, unless we're in favor of something tending toward anarchy, or fascism....

Perlstein speaks from the gut. His insistence on a long prison sentence is visceral. He feels violated by a bit of lese majeste, a touch of desacralization, and a pinch of blasphemy. The sentiment behind it is reflexive deference to authority. Many Americans just can't shake their royalist instincts. I see it in the classroom and on campus every day. I see it in sidewalk demos -- my working definition of a royal subject is someone who demonstrates against the war on the sidewalk but takes over the whole fucking street for the Annual fire department parade. I see it in the blind worship for the military. I see it every four years when the bloke-in-chief moves into his new quarters and it's Lady Diana getting married all over again (or buried again, depending on your political affiliation). The horses, the cannons, the flybys, the pageantry, the gravitas of Tom Brokaw. When you've been brainwashed with that sort of crap all your life, it's awfully tough throwing your Rockports at Dear Leader.

That last sentence is why one of the best analysts of our foreign policy and its blowback will never reach the main$tream, and why Chris Floyd's is one of the most targeted sites for Company trolls and hackers in cyberspace.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Not Troops, "Advisors"

Not "combat soldiers" or "warfighters":

...combat troops, defined by the military as those whose primary mission is to engage the enemy with lethal force, will have to be out of Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, the deadline under a recently approved status-of-forces agreement between the United States and Iraq.

The long answers open up some complicated, sleight-of-hand responses to military and political problems facing President-elect Barack Obama.

Even though the agreement with the Iraqi government calls for all American combat troops to be out of the cities by the end of June, military planners are now quietly acknowledging that many will stay behind as renamed “trainers” and “advisers” in what are effectively combat roles. In other words, they will still be engaged in combat, just called something else...

Obama might end the War by renaming it a Police Action, but that's too Cold War Retro. He might call it Humanitarian Aid, or maybe even rename the Marines the Peace Corps. They're equiped with guns, and depleted uranium munitions, but to educate the Iraqia and Afghanis.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the Longest Night, a Question

If the Detroit CEOs can't fly in corporate jets, why should the robber barons of Wall Street be able to?

Happy Solstice. The days grow longer and the nights shorter from here.

Mission Creep

There are some ex-Bu$hies who are pretending to wonder what they have wrought.

An ex-ambassador for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan and deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement affairs, Thomas A. Schweich:

We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk.

President-elect Barack Obama's selections of James L. Jones, a retired four-star Marine general, to be his national security adviser and, it appears, retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair to be his director of national intelligence present the incoming administration with an important opportunity -- and a major risk. These appointments could pave the way for these respected military officers to reverse the current trend of Pentagon encroachment upon civilian government functions, or they could complete the silent military coup d'etat that has been steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media.

While serving the State Department in several senior capacities over the past four years, I witnessed firsthand the quiet, de facto military takeover of much of the U.S. government. The first assault on civilian government occurred in faraway places -- Iraq and Afghanistan -- and was, in theory, justified by the exigencies of war.

The White House, which basically let the Defense Department call the budgetary shots, vastly underfunded efforts by the State Department, the Justice Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to train civilian police forces, build functioning judicial systems and provide basic development services to those war-torn countries. For example, after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Justice Department and the State Department said that they needed at least 6,000 police trainers in the country. Pentagon officials told some of my former staffers that they doubted so many would be needed. The civilians' recommendation "was quickly reduced to 1,500 [trainers] by powers-that-be above our pay grade," Gerald F. Burke, a retired major in the Massachusetts State Police who trained Iraqi cops from 2003 to 2006, told Congress last April. Just a few hundred trainers ultimately wound up being fielded, according to Burke's testimony.

Until this year, the State Department received an average of about $40 million a year for rule-of-law programs in Afghanistan, according to the department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs -- in stark contrast to the billions that the Pentagon got to train the Afghan army. Under then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the Defense Department failed to provide even basic security for the meager force of civilian police mentors, rule-of-law advisers and aid workers from other U.S. agencies operating in Afghanistan and Iraq, driving policymakers to turn to such contracting firms as Blackwater Worldwide. After having set the rest of the U.S. government up for failure, military authorities then declared that the other agencies' unsuccessful police-training efforts required military leadership and took them over -- after brutal interagency battles at the White House.

The result of letting the Pentagon take such thorough charge of the programs to create local police forces is that these units, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, have been unnecessarily militarized -- producing police officers who look more like militia members than ordinary beat cops. These forces now risk becoming paramilitary groups, well armed with U.S. equipment, that could run roughshod over Iraq and Afghanistan's nascent democracies once we leave.

Or consider another problem with the rising influence of the Pentagon: the failure to address the ongoing plague of poppy farming and heroin production in Afghanistan. This fiasco was in large part the result of the work of non-expert military personnel, who discounted the corrosive effects of the Afghan heroin trade on our efforts to rebuild the country and failed to support civilian-run counter-narcotics programs. During my tenure as the Bush administration's anti-drug envoy to Afghanistan, I also witnessed JAG officers hiring their own manifestly unqualified Afghan legal "experts," some of whom even lacked law degrees, to operate outside the internationally agreed-upon, Afghan-led program to bring impartial justice to the people of Afghanistan. This resulted in confusion and contradiction...

Obviously this man does not understand exactly what the real objectives of the Fourth Branch of government really are. But let us continue, marveling at the Magoo-like vision this ex-ambassador and law enforcement official has:

...One can also see the Pentagon's growing muscle in the recent creation of the U.S. military command for Africa, known as Africom. This new command supposedly has a joint civilian-military purpose: to coordinate soft power and traditional hard power to stop al-Qaeda and its allies from gaining a foothold on the continent. But Africom has gotten a chilly reception in post-colonial Africa. Meanwhile, U.S. competitors such as China are pursuing large African development projects that are being welcomed with open arms. Since the Bush administration has had real successes with its anti-AIDS and other health programs in Africa, why exactly do we need a military command there running civilian reconstruction, if not to usurp the efforts led by well-respected U.S. embassies and aid officials?

And, of course, I need not even elaborate on the most notorious effect of the military's growing reach: the damage that the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and such military prisons as Abu Ghraib have done to U.S. credibility around the world.

But these initial military takeovers of civilian functions all took place a long distance from home. "We are in a war, after all," Ronald Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, told me by way of explaining the military's huge role in that country -- just before the Pentagon seemingly had him removed in 2007 because of his admirable efforts to balance military and civilian needs. (I heard angry accounts of the Pentagon's role in Neumann's "retirement" at the time from knowledgeable diplomats, one of them very senior.) But our military forces, in a bureaucratic sense, soon marched on Washington itself.

As military officers sought to take over the role played by civilian development experts abroad, Pentagon bureaucrats quietly populated the National Security Council and the State Department with their own personnel (some civilians, some consultants, some retired officers, some officers on "detail" from the Pentagon) to ensure that the Defense Department could keep an eye on its rival agencies. Vice President Cheney, himself a former secretary of defense, and his good friend Rumsfeld ensured the success of this seeding effort by some fairly forceful means. At least twice, I saw Cheney staffers show up unannounced at State Department meetings, and I heard other State Department officials grumble about this habit. The Rumsfeld officials could play hardball, sometimes even leaking to the press the results of classified meetings that did not go their way in order to get the decisions reversed. After I got wind of the Pentagon's dislike for the approved interagency anti-drug strategy for Afghanistan, details of the plan quickly wound up in the hands of foreign countries sympathetic to the Pentagon view. I've heard other, similarly troubling stories about leaks of classified information to the press.

Many of Cheney's and Rumsfeld's cronies still work at the Pentagon and elsewhere. Rumsfeld's successor, Robert M. Gates, has spoken of increasing America's "soft power," its ability to attract others by our example, culture and values, but thus far, this push to reestablish civilian leadership has been largely talk and little action. Gates is clearly sincere about chipping away at the military's expanding role, but many of his subordinates are not.

The encroachment within America's borders continued with the military's increased involvement in domestic surveillance and its attempts to usurp the role of the federal courts in reviewing detainee cases. The Pentagon also resisted ceding any authority over its extensive intelligence operations to the first director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte -- a State Department official who eventually gave up his post to Mike McConnell, a former Navy admiral. The Bush administration also appointed Michael V. Hayden, a four-star Air Force general, to be the director of the CIA. National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley saw much of the responsibility for developing and implementing policy on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- surely the national security adviser's job -- given to Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, Bush's new "war czar." By 2008, the military was running much of the national security apparatus.

The Pentagon opened a southern front earlier this year when it attempted to dominate the new Merida Initiative, a promising $400 million program to help Mexico battle drug cartels. Despite the admirable efforts of the federal drug czar, John P. Walters, to keep the White House focused on the civilian law-enforcement purpose of the Merida Initiative, the military runs a big chunk of that program as well.

Now the Pentagon has drawn up plans to deploy 20,000 U.S. soldiers inside our borders by 2011, ostensibly to help state and local officials respond to terrorist attacks or other catastrophes. But that mission could easily spill over from emergency counterterrorism work into border-patrol efforts, intelligence gathering and law enforcement operations -- which would run smack into the Posse Comitatus Act, the long-standing law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement. So the generals are not only dominating our government activities abroad, at our borders and in Washington, but they also seem to intend to spread out across the heartland of America.

If President-elect Obama wants to reverse this trend, he must take four steps -- and very quickly:

1. Direct -- or, better yet, order -- Gates, Jones, Blair and the other military leaders in his Cabinet to rid the Pentagon's lower ranks of Rumsfeld holdovers whose only mission is to increase the power of the Pentagon.

2. Turn Gates's speeches on the need to promote soft power into reality with a massive transfer of funds from the Pentagon to the State Department, the Justice Department and USAID.

3. Put senior, respected civilians -- not retired or active military personnel -- into key subsidiary positions in the intelligence community and the National Security Council.

4. Above all, he should let his appointees with military backgrounds know swiftly and firmly that, under the Constitution, he is their commander, and that he will not tolerate the well-rehearsed lip service that the military gave to civilian agencies and even President Bush over the past four years.

In short, he should retake the government before it devours him and us -- and return civilian-led government to the people of the United States.

He should. In fact, he may even pretend to do so. But if he wants to live with the Praetorians, he won't. They work for the real Empire, and it's not run from the Oval Office.

Obama was only allowed to be elected because the military-industrial complex hasn't the slightest idea how to harness a civilian workforce, and it realizes it. Oh, they know all about slave labor. But slave labor everywhere can't produce the industrial wealth it takes to give those who would rule what they want.

The Company Hearts Small Airplanes

Brad Blog:

...The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that the private plane of the GOP's highly-placed "IT guru" Mike Connell's went down in Lake Township, Ohio on Friday evening. Connell was killed in the crash and is reported to have been the only person on board. There are no reports of anyone on the ground being hurt, though his plane crashed in a residential neighborhood.

Connell is a familiar name to readers of The BRAD BLOG as a key witness in the King-Lincoln v. Blackwell lawsuit regarding fraud in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio. That recently revived, long-standing lawsuit led to Connell's recent deposition on November 3, 2008, the day before this year's general election. According to plaintiff's lead attorney Cliff Arnebeck in July, a tipster had warned that Connell had been threatened by Karl Rove, as The BRAD BLOG reported at the time, in an attempt to intimidate him into "taking the fall" for Ohio election fraud not long after a motion was filed to lift the stay in that case.

Connell had been memorably described as a "high IQ Forrest Gump", by the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Ohio fraud case, for his apparent penchant at the scene of "every single crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the network firewall on a number of key Congressional committees to the case of the missing White House emails...

In late September, the federal judge in the Ohio case agreed to lift the stay, and in late October he compelled Connell to give a deposition to plaintiff attorneys on the Monday before the Tuesday general election.

Connell had been served with a subpoena to appear in the federal courtroom in Ohio at the same College Park, MD airport where his single engine plane reportedly took off from last night, on his final solo flight...

Strange? Yes We Con!

Frank Rich on driving with our eyes closed:

...Madoff, of course, made up everything. When he turned himself in, he reportedly declared that his business was “all just one big lie.” (The man didn’t call his 55-foot yacht “Bull” for nothing.) As Brian Williams of NBC News pointed out, the $50 billion thought to have vanished is roughly three times as much as the proposed Detroit bailout. And no one knows how it happened, least of all the federal regulators charged with policing him and protecting the public. If Madoff hadn’t confessed — for reasons that remain unclear — he might still be rounding up new victims.

There is a moral to be drawn here, and it’s not simply that human nature is unchanging and that there always will be crooks, including those in high places. Nor is it merely that Wall Street regulation has been a joke. Of what we’ve learned about Madoff so far, the most useful lesson can be gleaned from how his smart, well-heeled clients routinely characterized the strategy that generated their remarkably steady profits. As The Wall Street Journal noted, they “often referred to it as a ‘black box.’ ”

In the investment world “black box” is tossed around to refer to a supposedly ingenious financial model that is confidential or incomprehensible or both. Most of us know the “black box” instead as that strongbox full of data that is retrieved (sometimes) after a plane crash to tell the authorities what went wrong. The only problem is that its findings arrive too late to save the crash’s victims. The hope is that the information will instead help prevent the next disaster.

The question in the aftermath of the Madoff calamity is this: Why do we keep ignoring what we learn from the black boxes being retrieved from crash after crash in our economic meltdown? The lesson could not be more elemental. If there’s a mysterious financial model producing miraculous returns, odds are it’s a sham — whether it’s an outright fraud, as it apparently is in Madoff’s case, or nominally legal, as is the case with the Wall Street giants that have fallen this year.

Wall Street’s black boxes contained derivatives created out of whole cloth, deriving their value from often worthless subprime mortgages. The enormity of the gamble went undetected not only by investors but by the big brains at the top of the firms, many of whom either escaped (Merrill Lynch’s E. Stanley O’Neal) or remain in place (Citigroup’s Robert Rubin) after receiving obscene compensation for their illusory short-term profits and long-term ignorance.

There has been no punishment for many of those who failed to heed this repeated lesson. Quite the contrary. The business magazine Portfolio, writing in mid-September about one of the world’s biggest insurance companies, observed that “now that A.I.G is battling to survive, it is its black box that may save it yet.” That box — stuffed with “accounting or investments so complex and arcane that they remain unknown to most investors” — was so huge that Washington might deem it “too big to fail.”

Sure enough — and unlike its immediate predecessor in collapse, Lehman Brothers — A.I.G. was soon bailed out to the tune of $123 billion. Most of that also disappeared by the end of October. But not before A.I.G. executives were caught spending $442,000 on a weeklong retreat to a California beach resort.

There are more black boxes still to be pried open, whether at private outfits like Madoff’s or at publicly traded companies like General Electric, parent of the opaque GE Capital Corporation, the financial services unit that has been the single biggest contributor to the G.E. bottom line in recent years. But have we yet learned anything? Incredibly enough, as we careen into 2009, the very government operation tasked with repairing the damage caused by Wall Street’s black boxes is itself a black box of secrecy and impenetrability.

Last week ABC News asked 16 of the banks that have received handouts from the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program the same two direct questions: How have you used that money, and how much have you spent on bonuses this year? Most refused to answer.

Congress can’t get the answers either. Its oversight panel declared in a first report this month that the Treasury is doling out billions “without seeking to monitor the use of funds provided to specific financial institutions.” The Treasury prefers instead to look at “general metrics” indicating the program’s overall effect on the economy. Well, we know what the “general metrics” tell us already: the effect so far is nil. Perhaps if we were let in on the specifics, we’d start to understand why.

In its own independent attempt to penetrate the bailout, the Government Accountability Office learned that “the standard agreement between Treasury and the participating institutions does not require that these institutions track or report how they plan to use, or do use, their capital investments.” Executives at all but two of the bailed-out banks told the G.A.O. that the “money is fungible,” so they “did not intend to track or report” specifically what happens to the taxpayers’ cash.

Nor is there any serious accounting for executive pay at these seminationalized companies. As Amit Paley of The Washington Post reported, a last-minute, one-sentence loophole added by the Bush administration to the original bailout bill gutted the already minimal restrictions on executive compensation. And so when Goldman Sachs, Henry Paulson’s Wall Street alma mater, says that it is not using public money to pay executives, we must take it on faith.

In the wake of the Madoff debacle, there are loud calls to reform the Securities and Exchange Commission, including from the president-elect. Under both Clinton and Bush, that supposed watchdog agency ignored repeated and graphic warnings of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme as studiously as Bush ignored Al Qaeda’s threats during the summer of 2001.

But fixing that one agency is no panacea. All the talk about restoring “confidence” and “faith” in capitalism will be worthless if we still can’t see what’s going on in the counting rooms. In his role as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy Geithner, Barack Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary, has been at the center of the action in the bailout’s black box, including the still-murky and conflicting actions (and nonactions) taken with Lehman and A.I.G. His confirmation hearings demand questions every bit as tough as those that were lobbed at the executives from Detroit’s Big Three.

On Friday, Geithner’s partner in bailout management, Paulson, asked Congress to give the Treasury the second half of the $700 billion bailout stash. But without transparency and accountability in Washington’s black box, as well as Wall Street’s, there will continue to be no trust in the system, no matter how many cops the S.E.C. puts on the beat...

I keep hearing the Oborg say that things won't change until there is Trust, Hope, and Unity, and Bipartisanship again.

I think they have it exactly backwards. The Administration has to provide good paying jobs doing public works to repair our infrastructure, develop renewable energy resources, and advance environmentally friendly peacetime technology if it wants to rescue the economy and create the Trust, Hope, and Unity again.

As long as there are Partisans looking to steal the farm there should be no Bipartisanship.

A feeling of Trust, Hope, and Unity without cause is what the cattle have on the way to the slaughterhouse.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Son of Agent Orange

I've had a request for more links about Roundup.

The Wikipedia entry is a good place to start. Since these entries have a bad habit of being changed- especially once the company trolls get wind of them- I'm going to exercise some Fair Use rights here:

...Glyphosate is an aminophosphonic analogue of the natural amino acid glycine and the name is a contraction of glycine, phospho- and -ate. It was first discovered to have herbicidal activity in 1970 by John E. Franz, a scientist who worked for the Monsanto company. Franz received the National Medal of Technology in 1987 from Ronald Reagan for his discoveries[2] and in 1990 received the Perkin Medal for Applied Chemistry.[3] Franz is an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Glyphosate kills plants by inhibiting the enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS), which catalyzes the reaction of shikimate-3-phosphate (S3P) and phosphoenolpyruvate to form 5-enolpyruvyl-shikimate-3-phosphate (ESP). ESP is subsequently dephosphorylated to chorismate, which is an essential precursor in plants for the aromatic amino acids: phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan.[4][5] These amino acids are used as building blocks in peptides and to produce secondary metabolites such as folates, ubiquinones and naphthoquinone. X-ray crystallographic studies of Glyphosate and EPSPS shows that glyphosate functions by occupying the binding site of the phosphoenol pyruvate, mimicking an intermediate state of the ternary enzyme substrates complex.[6] The shikimate pathway is not present in animals, which obtain aromatic amino acids from their diet. Glyphosate has also been shown to inhibit other plant enzymes[7][8] and also has been found to affect animal enzymes.[9]

Roundup has a United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ (EPA) Toxicity Class of III for oral and inhalation exposure,[10] but more recent studies suggest that IV is appropriate for oral, dermal, and inhalation exposure.[11] It has been rated as class I (Severe) for eye irritation, however.[11] A 2000 review of the available literature concluded that "under present and expected conditions of new use, there is no potential for Roundup herbicide to pose a health risk to humans".[11]

In 1996 Monsanto was accused of false and misleading advertising of glyphosate products, prompting a law suit by the New York State attorney general.[12]
On Fri Jan 20, 2007, Monsanto was convicted of false advertising of Roundup for presenting Roundup as biodegradable and claiming that it left the soil clean after use. Environmental and consumer rights campaigners brought the case in 2001 on the basis that glyphosate, Roundup's main ingredient, is classed as "dangerous for the environment" and "toxic for aquatic organisms" by the European Union. Monsanto France planned to appeal the verdict at the time. [13]

On two occasions the United States Environmental Protection Agency has caught scientists deliberately falsifying test results at research laboratories hired by Monsanto to study glyphosate.[14][15][16] In the first incident involving Industrial Biotest Laboratories, an EPA reviewer stated after finding "routine falsification of data" that it was "hard to believe the scientific integrity of the studies when they said they took specimens of the uterus from male rabbits".[17][18][19] In the second incident of falsifying test results in 1991, the owner of the lab (Craven Labs), and three employees were indicted on 20 felony counts, the owner was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined 50,000 dollars, the lab was fined 15.5 million dollars and ordered to pay 3.7 million in restitution.[20][21][22] Craven laboratories performed studies for 262 pesticide companies including Monsanto.

Monsanto has stated that the studies have been repeated and that Roundup's EPA certification does not now use any studies from Craven Labs or IBT. Monsanto also claims that the Craven Labs investigation was started by the EPA after a pesticide industry task force discovered irregularities.[23]

Glyphosate itself is practically nontoxic by ingestion or by skin contact. The acute oral toxicity of Roundup is > 5,000 mg/kg in the rat.[24] It showed no toxic effects when fed to animals for 2 years, and only produced rare cases of reproductive effects when fed in extremely large doses to rodents and dogs. It has not demonstrated any increase in cancer rates in animal studies and is poorly absorbed in the digestive tract. Glyphosate has no significant potential to accumulate in animal tissue. [25][26]

Not only is glyphosate used as five different salts but commercial formulations of it contain surfactants, which vary in nature and concentration. As a result, human poisoning with this herbicide is not with the active ingredient alone but with complex and variable mixtures. [27]

A review of the toxicological data on Roundup shows that there are at least 58 studies of the effects of Roundup itself on a range of organisms.[28] This review concluded that "for terrestrial uses of Roundup minimal acute and chronic risk was predicted for potentially exposed nontarget organisms". It also concluded that there were some risks to aquatic organisms exposed to Roundup in shallow water. More recent research suggests glyphosate induces a variety of functional abnormalities in fetuses and pregnant rats.[29] Also in recent mammalian research, glyphosate has been found to interfere with an enzyme involved testosterone production in mouse cell culture[30] and to interfere with an estrogen biosynthesis enzyme in cultures of Human Placental cells.[31]

Studies have shown that the application of Roundup on wheat crops a week before harvesting results in higher glyphosate residue in the resulting grain and in the baked flour. [32]

The United States Environmental Protection Agency,[33] the EC Health and Consumer Protection Directorate, and the UN World Health Organization have all concluded that pure glyphosate is not carcinogenic. Opponents of glyphosate claim that Roundup has been found to cause genetic damage, citing Peluso et al.[34] The authors concluded that the damage was "not related to the active ingredient, but to another component of the herbicide mixture.

There is a reasonable correlation between the amount of Roundup ingested and the likelihood of serious systemic sequelae or death. Ingestion of >85 mL of the concentrated formulation is likely to cause significant toxicity in adults. Gastrointestinal corrosive effects, with mouth, throat and epigastric pain and dysphagia are common. Renal and hepatic impairment are also frequent and usually reflect reduced organ perfusion. Respiratory distress, impaired consciousness, pulmonary oedema, infiltration on chest x-ray, shock, arrythmias, renal failure requiring haemodialysis, metabolic acidosis and hyperkalaemia may supervene in severe cases. Bradycardia and ventricular arrhythmias are often present pre-terminally. Dermal exposure to ready-to-use glyphosate formulations can cause irritation and photo-contact dermatitis has been reported occasionally; these effects are probably due to the preservative Proxel (benzisothiazolin-3-one). Severe skin burns are very rare. Inhalation is a minor route of exposure but spray mist may cause oral or nasal discomfort, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, tingling and throat irritation. Eye exposure may lead to mild conjunctivitis, and superficial corneal injury is possible if irrigation is delayed or inadequate. [27]

Fish and aquatic invertebrates are more sensitive to Roundup than terrestrial organisms.[28] Glyphosate is generally less persistent in water than in soil, with 12 to 60 day persistence observed in Canadian pond water, yet persistence of over a year have been observed in the sediments of ponds in Michigan and Oregon.[10]
The EU classifies Roundup as R51/53 Toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.[35]

Roundup is not registered for aquatic uses[36] and studies of its effects on amphibians indicate it is toxic to them.[37] Glyphosate formulations that are registered for aquatic use have been found to have negligible adverse effects on sensitive amphibians.[38]

When glyphosate comes into contact with the soil it can be rapidly bound to soil particles and be inactivated.[10] Unbound glyphosate can be degraded by bacteria.[39] Roundup has been shown to increase the disease rate in the crop following a sprayed crop, suggesting damaged soil flora. [40]
Low glyphosate concentrations can be found in many creeks and rivers in U.S. and Europe,[citation needed] and in the US glyphosate has been called "relatively persistent" by the EPA.[10]

The EU classifies Roundup as N - Dangerous for the environment [35]

In soils, half lives vary from as little as 3 days at a site in Texas, 141 days at a site in Iowa, to between 1 - 3 years in Swedish forest soils.[22] It appears that more northern sites have the longest soil persistences such as in Canada and Scandinavia.

However, the binding of glyphosate to particulates can be an advantage for the detoxification of industrial toxin-polluted streams containing a wide class of toxicants. Treatment of industrial wastewater using immobilized bacteria showed complete conversion of glyphosate to nontoxic aminomethylphosphonic acid.[41]

A recent study concluded that certain amphibians may be at risk from glyphosate use.[42] One study has shown an effect on growth and survival of earthworms.[43] The results of this study are in conflict with other data and has been criticized on methodological grounds.[28] In other studies nitrogen fixing bacteria have been impaired, and also crop plant susceptibility to disease has been increased.[44][45][46][47][48][49] [40]

Monsanto firmly denies any negative impact on anything, including wildlife, and has many studies it has funded to back up its position.[citation needed] They would also be quick to point out that any possible negative impact on earthworms and nitrogen fixing bacteria, etc., would be offset by greater yields[citation needed], which have not been proven, due to the elimination of weeds, and also would point to soil benefits from less mechanical cultivation of weeds by using Roundup and similar products...

An in-vitro study[50] has suggested glyphosate may have an effect on progesterone production in mammalian cells and affect mortality of placental cells in-vitro.[31] Whether these studies classify glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor is a matter of debate.

Some believe that in-vitro studies are insufficient, and are waiting to see if animal studies show a change in endocrine activity, since a change in a single cell line may not occur in an entire organism. Additionally, current in-vitro studies expose cell lines to concentrations orders of magnitude greater than would be found in real conditions, and through pathways that would not be experienced in real organism.

Others believe that in-vitro studies, particularly ones identifying not only an effect, but a chemical pathway, are sufficient evidence to classify glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor, on the basis that even small changes in endocrine activity can have lasting effects on an entire organism that may be difficult to detect through whole organism studies alone. Further research on the topic has been planned...

But doubtless not funded, except by Monsanto, which has already written up the results for you.


#1 US EPA 2000–2001 Pesticide Market Estimates Agriculture, Home and Garden
#2 Technology Administration Agency, US Department of Commerce
#3 Colby Stong, The Scientist 1990, 4(10):28
#4 Purdue University, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Metabolic Plant Physiology Lecture notes, Aromatic amino acid biosynthesis, The shikimate pathway - synthesis of chorismate.
#5 Saccharomyces Genome Database - S. cerevisiae Pathway: chorismate biosynthesis
#6 E. Schönbrunn et al, Interaction of the herbicide glyphosate with its target enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate 3-phosphate synthase in atomic detail, PNAS 2001,98:1376-1380
#7 (Su , L.Y. et al. 1992. The relationship of glyphosate treatment to sugar metabolism in sugarcane: New physiological insights. J. Plant Physiol. 140:168-173.)
#8 (Lamb, D.C. et al. 1998. Glyphosate is an inhibitor of plant cytochrome P450: Functional expression of Thlaspi arvensae cytochrome P45071B1/ reductase fusion protein in Escherichia coli. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 244:110114.)
#9 (Hietanen, E., K. Linnainmaa, and H. Vainio. 1983. Effects of phenoxy herbicides and glyphosate on the hepatic and intestinal biotransformation activities in the rat. Acta Pharma. et Toxicol. 53:103-112.)
#10 EPA ReRegistration Decision Fact Sheet for Glyphosate (EPA-738-F-93-011) 1993. [.pdf]
#11 Williams GM, Kroes R, Munro IC. (2000) Safety evaluation and risk assessment of the herbicide Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, for humans. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 31 (2): 117-165. PMID 10854122.
#12 Attorney General of the State of New York. Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau. Environmental Protection Bureau. 1996. In the matter of Monsanto Company, respondent. Assurance of discontinuance pursuant to executive law § 63(15). New York, NY, Nov
#13 Monsanto Fined in France for 'False' Herbicide Ads
#14 (US EPA Communications and Public Affairs 1991 Note to correspondents Washington DC Mar 1)
#15 (US EPA Communications and Public Affairs 1991 Press Advisory. EPA lists crops associated with pesticides for which residue and environmental fate studies were allegedly manipulated. Washington DC Mar 29)
#16 (U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Com. on Gov. Oper. 1984. Problems palgue the EPA pesticide registration activities. House Report 98-1147)
#17 (U.S. EPA 1978 Data validation. Memo from K LOcke, Toxicology Branch, to R Taylor, Registration Branch. Washington DC Aug 9)
#18 (U.S. EPA Office of pesticides and Toxic Substances 1983, Summary of the IBT review program. Washington D.C. July)
#19 Schneider, K. 1983. Faking it: The case against Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories. The Amicus Journal (Spring):14-26. Reproduced at Planetwaves
#20 (US Dept. of Justice. United States Attorney. Western District of Texas 1992. Texas laboratory, its president, 3 employees indicted on 20 felony counts in connection with pesticide testing. Austin TX Sept 29)
#21 (US EPA Communications, Education, And Public Affairs 1994 Press Advisory. Craven Laboratories, owner, and 14 employees sentenced for falsifying pesticide tests. Washington DC Mar 4)
#22 Glyphosate Factsheet (part 1 of 2) Caroline Cox / Journal of Pesticide Reform v.108, n.3 Fall98 rev.Oct00
#23 Backgrounder: Testing Fraud: IBT and Craven Labs, June 2005, Monsanto background paper on RoundUp [.pdf]
#24 Roundup PRO® Herbicide MSDS [.pdf]
#25 Extoxnet Pip - Glyphosate
#26 http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.pdf
#27 Glyphosate poisoning study by Bradberry SM, Proudfoot AT, Vale JA.for the National Poisons Information Service (Birmingham Centre) and West Midlands Poisons Unit, City Hospital, Birmingham, UK.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15862083
#28 JP Giesy, KR Solomon, S Dobson (2000). "Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment for Roundup Herbicide". Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 167: 35-120
#29 Effect of the herbicide glyphosate on enzymatic activity...[Environ Res. 2001] - PubMed Result
#30 Walsh et al Roundup inhibits steroidogenesis by disrupting # steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein expression. Environ Health Perspect. 2000 108: 769–776.
#31 Richard et al, Differential Effects of Glyphosate and Roundup on Human Placental Cells and Aromatase, Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 113, No.6, 716-720[.pdf]
#32 WHO Environmental health criteria # 159 http://www.inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc/ehc159.htm#PartNumber:1
#33 US EPA Reregistration Eligibility Decision - Glyphosate [.pdf]
#34 Peluso M, Munnia A, Bolognesi C, Parodi S. Environ Mol Mutagen. 1998 31:55-9 PMID 9464316
#35 http://lscgw1.monsanto.com/esh/msdslib.nsf/2B20DAEB04E8631C0625689700650B45/$file/Roundup%20Ultra%203000-5059en-gb.pdf Roundup Material Safety Data sheet page 7, heading 16
#36 Monsanto Backgrounder 2005 Response to "The impact of insecticides and herbicides on the biodiversity and productivity of aquatic communities" [.pdf]
#37 Rick A. Relyea 2005 The impact of insecticides and herbicides on the biodiversity and productivity of aquatic communities Ecological Applications 15:618–627
#38 Wojtaszek et al Effects of vision herbicide on mortality, avoidance response, and growth of amphibian larvae in two forest wetlands Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 23:832–842 2004 [.pdf]
#39 Balthazor, Terry M and Laurence Hallas (1986) Glyphosate-degrading microorganisms in industrial waste treatment biosystems. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 51:432-34.[.pdf]
#40 CROP ECOLOGY, MANAGEMENT & QUALITY published online 26 August 2005 by M. R. Fernandeza, F. Sellesa, D. Gehlb, R. M. DePauwa and R. P. Zentner.
#41 Adams, William, Laurence Hallas, and Michael Heitkamp. 1994. Microbes and their use to degrade N-phosphonomethylglycine in waste streams. United States Patent 5288635
#42 Bette Hileman. (2005) Common herbicide kills tadpoles. Chemical & Engineering News. Washington 83(15):11.
#43 (Springett & Gray 1992, Soil Biol. Biochem. 24 (12):1739-1744)
#44 (Santos & Flores 1995, Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 20:349-352)
#45 (Brammel & Higgins 1988, Can. J. Bot 66:1547-1555)
#46 (Johal & Rahe 1988, Molec. Plant Pathol. 32:267-281)
#47 (Mekwatanakarn & Sivassithamparam 1987, Biol. Fertil. Soils 5:175-180)
#48 (Kawate et al. 1997, Weed Sci. 45:739-743)
#49 (Bergvinson & Borden 1992, Can J. For. Res. 22:206-209)
#50 Walsh LP et al. Roundup inhibits steroidogenesis by disrupting steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein expression. Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Aug;108(8):769-76.
#51 ISU Weed Science Online - Are RR Weeds in Your Future II
#52 Glyphosate resistance is a reality that should scare some cotton growers into changing the way they do business
#53 More glyphosate resistant weeds
#54 Development and Characterization of a CP4 EPSPS-Based, Glyphosate-Tolerant Corn Event,G. R. Heck et al Crop Sci. 45:329-339 (2005).
#55 Molecular basis for the herbicide resistance of Roundup Ready crops, T. Funke et al, PNAS 2006 103:13010-13015
#56 Monsanto Company History
#57 USDA/APHIS Environmental Assessment - In response to Monsanto Petition 06-178-01p seeking a Determination of Non-regulated Status for + Roundup RReady2Yield Soybean MON 89788, OECD Unique Identifier MON-89788-1, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service + Biotechnology Regulatory Services page 13 [.pdf]
#58 National Agriculture Statistics Service (2005) in Acreage eds. Johanns, M. & Wiyatt, S. D. 6 30, (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, DC). +
#59 Impact of glyphosate-tolerant soybean and glufosinate-tolerant corn production on herbicide losses in surface runoff. Shipitalo MJ, Malone RW, Owens LB. J Environ Qual. 2008 37(2):401-8 PMID 18268303
#60 http://www.chem.purdue.edu/courses/chm333/Roundup%20Article.pdf [.pdf]
#61 California Product/Label Database
#62 Glyphosate Roadside Vegetation Management Herbicide Fact Sheet [.pdf]
#63 New Super Strain of Coca Plant Stuns Anti-Drug Officials. Jeremy McDermott. The Scotsman (Scotland) 27 August 2004
#64 USDA National Agricultural Library, accessed 1 Nov 2007

Feel better now? I don't have time to reproduce all the links, so check on the Wikipedia site if you need them. To the correspondent that asserted "if the facts were out there, people would do something about this" I can only respond that the facts have been out there and published extensively for many years now.

They have shown themselves woefully unable to compete with corporate marketeering.

And the disasterous consequences of the action of Monsanto that wil reverberate across decades? We, our children, and our grandchildren will hear the lament "Who could have known?"