Weakening radiation standards; a cap on accident liability; reactor propaganda vs improvements; old units running past expiration dates; revving the engines beyond design specs …. You’d think we were itching for a meltdown.
The Environmental Protection Agency has recommended increased radiation exposure limits following major releases. It would save the industry a bundle to permit large human exposures then, rather than shut down rickety reactors now.
The EPA proposal is a knock-off prompted by Fukushima, because after the triple meltdown started three years ago, Japan increased — by 20 times — the allowable radiation exposures deemed tolerable for humans. Prior to the meltdowns of March 2011, Japan allowed only 1 milliSievert of radiation per year in an individual’s personal space. Now, the limit is 20 milliSieverts per year. This is not safe, it’s just allowable, or, rather, affordable, since the cost of decontaminating 1,000 square miles of Japan to the stricter standard could bust the bank.
The Price Anderson Act provides US reactor owners with a liability cap and a tax-payer bailout in the event of serious accidents or attacks. The law relieves utilities of hundreds of billions in financial risk posed by our ongoing meltdown roulette game. The owners won’t be bankrupted by the next loss-of-coolant disaster, but the US might.
Fukushima has spewed more long-lived radioactive chemicals to the air, the soil and the ocean than any catastrophe in history. But the chant heard round the world is: “The dose is low, there’s no immediate danger.” Promoters of nuclear power repeat this mantra at every opportunity, hoping to dodge Germany’s answer to Fukushima — a permanent reactor phase-out — and it has nearly drowned out all warnings of radiation’s health and environmental effects.
Have you heard of PSR’s March 2011 “Health risks of the releases of radioactivity from the Fukushima reactors: Are they a concern for residents of the US?”; or IPPNW’s June 2014 “Critical Analysis of the UNSCEAR Report”; or the Nov. 2012 “Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health within the context of the nuclear accident at Fukushima”; or Greenpeace’s two major reports, “Lessons from Fukushima,” and “Fukushima Fallout”? No, the feds would rather you read the UN Scientific Committee’s exec. summary which claims Fukushima’s effects are “unlikely to be observable.” This conclusion was made before any research was done.
The chances of radiation disasters will increase further if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows US reactors to run for 80 years. This is what Duke Power, Dominion Power and Exelon suggest for seven of their 40-year-old rattle traps now operating in Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina.
These seven reactors were designed and licensed to be shut down in the current decade. However, since 1991 the nuclear industry has been granted 70 “license extensions” that have generally added 20 years. Now the owners want to push their units an extra 40 years.
Former NRC Commissioner George Apostolakis wasn’t apoplectic when the commission considered the idea, but, according to the New York Times, he said, “I don’t know how we would explain to the public that these designs, 90-year-old designs, 100-year-old designs, are still safe to operate.” The NRC has yet to rule on the 80-year option, but it’s never denied a single license extension request.
Gunning old Fukushima-type engines
Captured by the industry it’s supposed to govern, the NRC has approved 149 reactor “power uprate” applications and has denied exactly one. Power uprates boost the output of old reactors beyond what their original licenses permit. It’s done by packing reactor cores with extra fuel rods and, feeling lucky, running them harder.
Chillingly, 23 operating US reactors are duplicates of the Fukushima-type General Electric Mark 1. Fifteen of these clunkers have been granted power uprates, and seven of these 15 have been granted a second power uprate. (See chart) Susquehanna’s two 31-year-old Fukushima clones in Pennsylvania were granted a hair-raising three power uprates.
With the radiation industry and the NRC working to deny or delay post-Fukushima safety improvements, how do you feel about reactor operators stomping the accelerator while they run their geriatric uranium jalopies toward the cliff?
Eight members of the Wahdan family, the youngest only two years old, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on their home in Gaza after Israeli forces confined them inside and used their home as a military base.
On July 17, Israeli soldiers raided a home where 15 members of the Wahdan family were sheltering in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun during a period of intense Israeli artillery bombardment. Israeli forces detained and removed seven male family members from the home including, Rami Hatem Zaki Wahdan, 30. The eight remaining family members, including three children, were confined to the ground floor of the home by Israeli forces as they used the house as a military base for over a week, according to evidence collected by DCI-Palestine. On August 4, following his release, Rami returned to find Beit Hanoun destroyed and the family home flattened to the ground.
The charred remains of Su’ad Wahdan, 67, and her grandchildren, Zeinab, 27, Sumoud, 22, Ahmad, 14, and Hussein, 10, were found under the rubble. The remains of Zaki Wahdan, 70, his daughter-in-law, Baghdad, 51, and his great-granddaughter, Ghena, 2, have not yet been recovered.
“Israeli military offensives have been consistently characterized by disproportionate force directed at civilians,” says Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “In this incident, Israeli soldiers deliberately attacked a house while fully aware there were people inside. Targeting civilians is strictly prohibited under international law and this tragedy must be investigated as a possible war crime.”
In a sworn affidavit collected by DCI-Palestine, Rami said he was able to have limited contact with his sister, Zeinab, 27, via mobile phone. She told him that the situation in Beit Hanoun was very dangerous, and Israeli soldiers held them captive on the ground floor of their house. In Rami’s last contact with Zeinab on Friday, July 25, she explained that the Israeli soldiers had withdrawn from the house in anticipation of an upcoming humanitarian ceasefire, but ordered the family to stay in the home.
Rami, his father, three brothers and two uncles were bound and blindfolded and taken from the home for interrogation on July 17. Having no connection to Hamas or information on tunnels, Rami and the other men were released three days later from an interrogation facility near the Erez border crossing in northern Gaza. Continued fighting and shelling prevented them from returning to Beit Hanoun so they took shelter with relatives and at a school in the nearby Jabalia refugee camp.
Rami and his brothers returned to Beit Hanoun on August 2, but failed to locate their grandparents’ home before Israeli forces moved back into the area. On August 3, Rami learned that his father and three other members of his family, including his four-year-old niece, were killed in a separate incident when Israeli drones targeted a house in Jabalia refugee camp where they had sought refuge.
On August 4, Rami returned to Beit Hanoun with his brothers and uncles to continue their search but instead found complete destruction. The family’s house was one of a group of homes completely destroyed in an hour of continuous airstrikes just minutes before the humanitarian ceasefire began on July 26.
Rami and the other men started sifting through debris and rubble for any sign of their family that they believed had been forced to remain in the home. They discovered severed limbs and body parts of brothers Ahmad and Hussein, their sisters Zeinab and Sumond, and their grandmother Su’ad. No remains of their grandfather, his daughter-in-law or his two-year-old great-granddaughter were found.
Speaking to DCI-Palestine, Rami said, “I feel like my family is cursed. Those who stayed in the house were murdered, and those who fled the area were also murdered. And those who have survived are still struggling. I keep remembering the incident. I will not forget it.”
International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and requires that all parties to an armed conflict distinguish between military targets, civilians and civilian objects. Directly targeting civilians is a grave violation of international law and amounts to a war crime. Israeli forces confined the family to the home and therefore were aware that eight civilians were inhabiting the house. The circumstances of the attack strongly suggest conduct amounting to a war crime under international law.
The civilian population of the Gaza strip, particularly children, paid a heavy price during Israel’s seven-week military offensive known as Operation Protective Edge. The UN estimates over 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians and including 501 children, lost their lives. DCI-Palestine has independently verified 475 child deaths as of October 29, 2014.
Reflecting on the loss of twelve members of his family, Rami said, “I cry a thousand times a day. I cannot and will not forget what Israel did to us in this war and how they executed my family in two different incidents. They murdered my little brothers, my two sisters, my mother and my grandparents in Beit Hanoun. And they murdered my father, my niece, my brother’s wife and my uncle’s wife in Jabalia refugee camp.”
A video posted online by Al Arabiya News on July 29, 2014 captures the destruction of the Beit Hanoun neighborhood in one hour.
A few days ago, I published a short story linking to a PRN.fm radio interview I did with noted international law attorney Francis Boyle, whom I pointed out was a drafter of the US Biological Weapons and Anti-Terrorism Act passed into law in 1981, which act supposedly barred the United States from continuing to keep or to develop new germ warfare weapons.
Boyle told me, on last Wednesday’s radio program “This Can’t Be Happening!,” that he believes the Zaire Ebola strain that is wracking Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea in west Africa, originally came from one of several BSL4-level bio-research labs operated in those countries and funded by a combination of the Center for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the US Defense Department, perhaps because of testing of Ebola being conducted there, or because of some containment breach.
Boyle pointed out the oddity that the epidemic is the Zaire strain, which has in the past been limited to Zaire in central Africa, and not a local strain found in fruit bats in west Africa — the alleged vector that news reports have claimed is being suspected of initiating the outbreak of the disease. As he noted, fruit bats don’t migrate, and certainly didn’t fly 2200 miles from central Africa to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
For running this alarming interview with Boyle, I have received some criticism from readers who suggest that Boyle’s facts are weak.
Since then I have been checking out some of his claims and suspicions.
One particularly interesting one is his claim that a BSL4 lab handling Zaire Ebola in Kenema, Sierra Leone, was shut down in July by order of the Sierra Leone government.
I have confirmed that, and attach a screen shot (see below) from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation’s Facebook Page. This press release declares that the ministry was setting up a new operations center in Freetown for responding to the Ebola crisis, and that in the interim before that center was up and running, all Ebola cases would be brought to a treatment center operated by the government in Kailahun.
Significantly, the announcement also said that the move of operations away from Kenema came in response to concerns expressed by “health workers and the people of Kenema.” Even more significantly, it said that Tulane University, which had been operating the lab under US government contract, was being ordered “to stop Ebola testing during the current Ebola outbreak.”
Now just what kind of “testing” of Ebola might that be, it seems fair to ask. I did try, leaving messages with several people in the public relations office at Tulane University, but got no return calls.
UPDATE: On Thursday, a reader who is an MD contacted someone he knew at Tulane, Vice President for Research Laura Levy, asking her to explain what Tulane was doing in Kenema. He later sent me her response, which was a link to a web page on Tulane’s website. It seeks to debunk “myths” about Tulane’s work in West Africa. In that article, it states that it is a “myth” that Tulane has been ordered to leave Sierra Leone. But no one is saying that. Tulane was ordered to shut down it’s Ebola lab in the town of Kenema, not to leave Sierra Leone altogether. The article also states that it is a “myth” that the University and its researchers are “collaborating” with the military in Sierra Leone. It goes on to say that “Tulane is working with Harvard University and others in the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium to develop diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for Lassa fever and Ebola. Support for the consortium has come principally from the National Institutes of Health.”
But actually the consortium’s own website says that Tulane is the leader of the consortium. It lists a number of partners, including Harvard University, Scripps Research Institute, and a company called Corgenix. No government “partners” are listed. Yet Corgenix, on its company site, lists USAMRIID, the Pentagon’s bioweapons research unit, as a “member of the consortium.”
Curious indeed that Tulane Research VP Levy omitted that important bit of information.
Here’s what Coregenix had to say about USAMRIID:
USAMRIID (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases), located at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is the lead medical research laboratory for the U.S. Biological Defense Research Program, and plays a leading role in national defense and in infectious disease research. The Institute’s mission is to conduct basic and applied research on biological threats resulting in medical solutions (such as vaccines, drugs and diagnostics) to protect the warfighter. USAMRIID is a subordinate laboratory of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command.
Corgenix and USAMRIID are members of the Viral Hemorrhagic fever Consortium, working to develop state of the art diagnostic products for biothreat agents and emerging pathogens.
Navy Times, hardly a den of conspiracy writers, published an article about Ebola and the US decision to send 3000 troops (not doctors!) to the impacted countries in west Africa, back on August 1. That article states:
Filoviruses like Ebola have been of interest to the Pentagon since the late 1970s, mainly because Ebola and its fellow viruses have high mortality rates — in the current outbreak, roughly 60 percent to 72 percent of those who have contracted the disease have died — and its stable nature in aerosol make it attractive as a potential biological weapon.
Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) have sought to develop a vaccine or treatment for the disease.
Boyle’s contention is that ever since the US signed onto the Geneva Convention outlawing germ warfare, it has used research into defense against germ weapons as a cover for US research into germ weapons themselves.
It’s interesting that Navy Times is reporting that Pentagon-funded researchers at USAMRIID have been trying to develop a vaccine for Ebola for decades, yet how does that square with a report on Oct. 23 in the New York Times that Canadian and US researchers had developed an Ebola vaccine that was 100% successful in monkeys a full decade ago, long after the Pentagon began “seeking to develop a vaccine” and several years after the NIH began a campaign to develop one. And yet, as the Times article states, the promising vaccine “sat on the shelf” for years without being tested in humans, because it encountered a “biotech valley of death” with no drug companies willing to pay for human testing.
So where was all that public US Defense Department and NIH funding, given the promise that this vaccine was showing?
Maybe it was just bureaucratic bumbling, nationalist prejudice (the vaccine was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, for god’s sake!, an concept that is toxic to the US drug industry), or just Washington stupidity. But then, if Boyle is right, then the Pentagon may not really have been all that interested in finding a vaccine, but rather was focussed on doing covert research on bioweapons, including Ebola.
It may seem hard to swallow the idea that your government could be contemplating such awful weapons, but let’s remember that the US is the country that continues to insist on its right to strew highly toxic and carcinogenic depleted uranium dust all over countries it invades or bombs, like Afghanistan, Syria and especially Iraq (according to a new report by David Swanson, the Obama administration is sending DU-armed aircraft to the Middle East again, evidently for use in its attacks on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, as if it hadn’t spread enough of the stuff across the desert already).
As well, the US stands credibly accused of having deployed germ weapons in Cuba, Nicaragua and East Germany over the years, and perhaps in other places too.
And there was one other article in the New York Times — this one pulled, oddly, after it made it into the first edition of the paper on October 17. It reported that President Obama, “Prompted by controversy over dangerous research and recent laboratory accidents,” had announced that he was temporarily halting “all new funding for experiments that seek to study certain infectious agents by making them more dangerous.” He asked those scientists already doing such government-funded research to “voluntarily halt” their work during this moratorium. Could this be a backhanded admission, or at least hint, that something like that might have been done to the Zaire Ebola strain that is circulating now in west Africa?
Got that? Your government has been paying researchers to do genetic modification of dangerous pathogens like avian or pandemic flu strains, SARS…and hemorrhagic fever viruses like Ebola, to make them more deadly and/or more easily transmitted!
A big problem is that this administration is and has been the most secretive since at least the post-Cointelpro reforming of the Freedom of Information Act, with the government under President Obama not just refusing to release information to journalists and the public, but resorting to aggressively pursuing and jailing whistleblowers, and even charging and jailing some under the wretched Espionage Act of 1917, and also threatening journalists themselves with jail, like James Risen of the New York Times.
As former Reagan administration Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts says, given that level of secrecy and prosecution of leakers, it behoves us as journalists and as news readers to be ready to believe the worst of this government of ours.
I believe that while Professor Boyle may in the end prove to have been an alarmist about what this Ebola outbreak really is, and to have been wrong that the US government was behind it, either through deliberate testing gone wrong or because of an accident at an African lab, he is right to raise the issues he’s raising.
Because giving this country’s historic track record, he also might be right.
Climate depression is real. Just ask a scientist. – Madeleine Thomas
Wow. Here I was, hard at work on my long promised post on clouds, and I spotted this article on twitter. Much easier to write about this one than about clouds.
At Grist, Madeleine Thomas has penned an article Climate depression is real. Just ask a scientist. Excerpts:
Two years ago, Camille Parmesan, a professor at Plymouth University and the University of Texas at Austin, became so “professionally depressed” that she questioned abandoning her research in climate change entirely.
“I felt like here was this huge signal I was finding and no one was paying attention to it,” Parmesan says. “I was really thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’” She ultimately packed up her life here in the States and moved to her husband’s native United Kingdom.
“In the U.S., [climate change] isn’t well-supported by the funding system, and when I give public talks in the U.S., I have to devote the first half of the talk to [the topic] that climate change is really happening,” says Parmesan, now a professor at Plymouth University in England.
From depression to substance abuse to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest that climate change will take a pretty heavy toll on the human psyche as storms become more destructive and droughts more prolonged.
“I don’t know of a single scientist that’s not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost,” Parmesan is quoted saying in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2012 report, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.”
Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychiatrist based in Washington, D.C. — and co-author of the National Wildlife Federation’s report — calls this emotional reaction “pre-traumatic stress disorder,” a term she coined to describe the mental anguish that results from preparing for the worst, before it actually happens.
What’s even more deflating for a climate scientist is when sounding the alarm on climatic catastrophes seems to fall on deaf ears. “How would that make you feel? You take this information to someone and they say they don’t believe you, as if it’s a question of beliefs,” says Jeffrey Kiehl, senior scientist for climate change research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. “I’m not talking about religion here, I’m talking about facts.”
“I could imagine that if scientists start to talk about how they’re feeling about the issue and how emotional they’re feeling about the issue, those who are critical about climate change would seize that information and use it in any way they could to say that we should reject their science,” Kiehl says.
It’s only natural then that many climate scientists and activists often feel an extreme pressure to keep their emotions in check, even when out of the spotlight.
“You don’t just start talking about unbelievably fast sea-level rise at a cocktail party at a friend’s house,” Tidwell says. “So having to deny the emotional need to talk about what’s on your mind all the time … those are some of the burdens that climate aware scientists and activists have to endure. But nobody talks about how it makes them feel personally.”
So how does a climate scientist handle the stress? Van Susteren offers several “climate trauma survival tips” for those in the field. Meditation and therapy are two, as are taking particular care to reinforce boundaries between work and one’s personal life. But she also says being honest is just as important. “[Don’t] believe that you are invulnerable,” she writes. “In fact, admitting what you are going through makes you more resilient.”
And a dose of honesty may be more than just therapeutic. Some real talk about how we’re all screwed may be just what the climate movement needs. “Forgive my language here, but if scientists are looking for a clearer language to express the urgency of climate change, there’s no clearer word that expresses that urgency than FUCK,” [Grist's Brentin] Mock writes.
Perhaps it’s time for those deeply involved in climate science to come forward about the emotional struggle, or at the very least, for those in mental health research and support to start exploring climate change psychology with more fervor.
“There’s a taboo talking about it,” Lertzman says, adding that the tight-lipped culture of the scientific community can be difficult to bridge. “The field of the psychology of climate change is still very, very young … I believe there are profound and not well-recognized or understood psychological implications of what I would call being a frontliner. There needs to be a lot more attention given to frontliners and where they’re given support.”
Oh my, where to start with this one. Lets try this:
I feel your pain. Circa 2007 I felt the same way you did, and ran around turning off lights and unplugging things, feeling really uncomfortable about the carbon footprint of myself and my surroundings. But then I woke up as a scientist and realized that my belief in dangerous anthropogenic climate change was second order belief – based on the IPCC consensus. That is, I believed in the consensus without having done a real detailed assessment of my own. Then when climategate triggered me to closely examine everything, notably the IPCC’s attribution argument, I realized that the fingerprints were ‘muddy’, the climate models are running too hot, the forcing data is uncertain, no account is made for multidecadal and longer internal variability, and they have no explanation for the warming 1910-1940, the cooling 1940-1976, and the hiatus since 1998. Once you raise questions about 20th century attribution, then your angst about impacts that you think are attributable to AGW becomes much less justified.
In terms of tips, try reading some literature on history, philosophy and sociology of science – you will become more humble as a scientist and less likely to believe your own hype. Read Richard Feynman. Hang out at Climate Etc. Listen seriously to a serious skeptic.
If these strategies don’t work, try learning about aberrant psychologies, such as the God complex and paranoia and look in the mirror (there are probably others, but I don’t know that much psychology myself).
And also inform yourself about psychological hardiness (something I learned from days at U. Chicago and hanging out with grad students in Salvatore Maddi’s group). Excerpt from Wikipedia:
The coping style most commonly associated with hardiness is that of transformational coping, an optimistic style of coping that transforms stressful events into less stressful ones. At the cognitive level this involves setting the event into a broader perspective in which they do not seem so terrible after all. At the level of action, individuals high in hardiness are believed to react to stressful events by increasing their interaction with them, trying to turn them into an advantage and opportunity for growth, and in the process achieve some greater understanding.
The ‘pre-traumatic stress’ thing clicked a link in my mind to my old U. of Chicago pal Colonel Paul Bartone, a military psychologist and a member of the hardiness group. The following paper seems relevant: A Model for Soldier Psychological Adaptation in Peacekeeping Operations. I think these concepts are relevant for what is going on with Parmesan et al. Seems like skeptics are more hardy?
The psychology of all this is probably pretty interesting, and worthy of more investigation. But Jeff Kiehl is right – whining scientists aren’t going to help either the science or their ’cause.’
We are having an outbreak of reports in the Canadian press about “home grown” terrorists, “radicalized” young men of Muslim faith traveling out of the country to participate in extremist groups abroad, a relatively insignificant phenomenon which has received inordinate publicity. In any event, if you give the matter some thought, you realize that this “news” is a kind of empty publicity, noise about something as old and familiar as human life itself, although it has been bestowed with a new name intended to frighten us into supporting measures outside the framework of a society of laws.
The truth is that young men, at least a certain portion of them, have always traveled abroad to join causes and wars. It’s about as ordinary a phenomenon as playing team sports or joining clubs. In many cases, we end up praising them for their bravery and idealism, as was certainly the case with the many thousands of Europeans, Americans, and Canadians who traveled to Spain in the 1930s to volunteer in the civil war against General Franco. In other cases, we condemn and imprison them and sometimes even execute them as part of the losing side, as America has been doing in its rampage through the Middle East.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the emergence of new, independent nations from the British Empire drew thousands of young men to Africa to fight as mercenaries or volunteers. Apartheid South Africa used to run classified ads in newspapers abroad to attract young men in its battle against the African National Congress. Young Jewish men in the past went to Israel to join the IDF out of some sense of brotherhood, and they do so still. The French Foreign Legion gained almost mythical status as a place for young men to leave things behind, embracing an undefined sense of purpose and brotherhood. Young European adventurers, often young noblemen with hopes of gaining glory, sailed across the Atlantic in the 1770s to volunteer in the American colonies’ revolt against the British Empire, far more of them than Washington’s meagre army could use.
Magnetic leaders like Napoleon or Castro or Nasser attracted countless volunteers from abroad in their heyday. Our history books don’t dwell on the fact but large numbers of young men from many countries volunteered for Hitler’s invading legions. The phenomenon does not depend on the high or noble nature of the cause, although the luster and publicity around grand causes undoubtedly attracts a still wider range of young men.
Young men often just want to escape from every-day, humdrum life, a boring marriage, a nothing job, or, as in the case of the Foreign Legion, to leave a criminal or failed past behind in hopes of high adventure, a new identity, and a fresh start in life. The genuine nature of a cause often matters little because young men’s fantasies convert grubby deeds into mythic stuff at least for a time. Young men in the Foreign Legion were actually fighting for a brutal imperialism in North Africa. Volunteers to the IDF only assist in the oppression of an abused people, not in the protection of the Jewish people. Those who joined Napoleon thought they were spreading liberté, égalité et fraternité across a mummified old-order Europe, but they were helping one of history’s great bloody soldier-conquerors glorify himself and do what it was he lusted after doing.
Mental illness also intrudes into terrorist matters, all things unusual or different being grist for the big dumb mill of the press. In Canada, during the wave of empty chatter about “home-grown terrorists,” there were two isolated incidents of murder in different parts of the country, one of a policeman and one of a reservist in the military. Immediately the press began a completely uninformative and patience-exhausting round of speculation about the dark nature of the perpetrators, complete with interviews of various self-proclaimed “terrorism experts,” men, as it generally turns out, who run security firms and are out drumming up business. In both cases, we finally learned through the fog of misinformation generated by the press, that the young dead men were deeply mentally disturbed, their acts having no more political significance than the crazed men set on suicide who first kill their wives or children or the boys who periodically show up heavily armed at school, shooting their way through classmates.
And of course, it is almost invariably males who do these things, our prisons containing about ten men for every woman. The violence we see in professional football, hockey, or boxing being almost an exclusive male domain. Women rarely commit murder, males being responsible for almost all of it, with young males being responsible for an extraordinarily disproportionate share.
Aside from the psychotic and deeply depressed, there is a certain segment of young men in every society who are simply attracted to opportunities for legal killing, rape, and mayhem – this being the truly ugly side of every war and conflict that we never mention in our sentimental world-war memorial services or high school textbooks. These men are variously termed sociopaths or psychopaths, and they appear to exist naturally in some proportion in any population. They enjoy killing, inflicting pain, and the sense of supreme power over the lives of others, and they are incapable of sympathy for their victims or remorse for their acts. They only fear being caught, and war provides a wonderful legal playground for them.
The bloodiest, most brutal and pointless war of the last half century, America’s grotesque slaughter in Vietnam, attracted thousands of volunteers from other countries to join in the gruesome fun – acts which included everything from raping girls and then shooting them to throwing men out of helicopters. Even then-peaceful Canada, whose prime minister, Lester Pearson, bravely turned down Lyndon Johnson’s bullying demands to send troops (charmer that Johnson was, he is said to have grabbed our Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader by the lapels during a meeting and pushed him against a wall), saw hundreds of adventure-seeking young men, on their own, join the American holocaust, which would see three million horribly slaughtered, countless wounded, and an ancient agricultural land overwhelmed with America’s landmines, cluster bombs, and poisons.
Today we call people terrorists as easily as we more accurately might have called them reckless or mad. The word terrorist has been given an almost frightening, superstitious connotation much resembling the word witch in the seventeenth century when any poor old soul who suffered from a mental illness like schizophrenia might be burnt alive for her mumblings and delusions. Today, the same people we once burnt would be sent to a homeless shelter or a psychiatric hospital. Another aspect of the word terrorist is related to what Stalin used to say when he expected his officials to launch a new purge to keep the country terrorized into submission. The Vozhd would say something about “wreckers” or “wreckers of the revolution” and his minions would busy themselves demonstrating alacrity in finding large numbers to consign to prison or death. All of our press and government spokespeople now use terrorist with those two meanings, and to the extent that they do, we should recognize the foolishness of their speech and its danger to a free society.
Of course, anyone who commits violent crime needs dealing with, and we do have laws covering every form of violent crime and what is judged the degree of culpability. But creating a special class or type of crime, somehow understood to be different in nature from other crimes, and thereby requiring extraordinary measures of espionage and policing and imprisonment and standards of evidence, is a shabby, dishonest, and cowardly political act. It is a political act in exactly the sense best explained by George Orwell.
The template for this kind of state activity comes directly from Israel. It long ago succeeded in changing the outside perception of events since 1948 from that of a relatively powerless people having their homes and lands taken with great brutality. Everyone knows instinctively that people treated in that fashion have every right in international law and custom to fight their oppressors. We call them at various times and circumstances freedom fighters, guerillas, resistance fighters, or irregulars. But in this case, they were transformed into terrorists who seek only to destroy law-abiding, democratic Israel – unspeakably evil beings intent on attacking the imported Ozzie-and-Harriet peacefulness of white-picket fence neighborhoods constructed on other people’s property. It truly is a case of the world turned on its head.
It does make things so much easier when you shoot someone or bulldoze their home or send them to prison indefinitely with no trial and subject to torture, if you first have demonized them, much as in the case of witches or wreckers, with terrorist being this generation’s choice demonizing word. And when Israel kills some people whose identity as “terrorists” might be seen as very doubtful, the victims magically become militants, a Newspeak word which strives to make the killing of anyone from boys to grandfathers palatable, our shabby press in the West having adopted the word in its reportage without so much as blinking an eye, much less asking a question. This has been Israel’s day-in, day-out pattern of government for decades, but now it has managed to export to the United States the same pattern of behavior. The United States, after all, is a nation given to Captain Ahab-like obsessions, as it has demonstrated many times in its history, Muslims now having displaced the Communists it pursued with relentless fury for decades at home and abroad. And when the United States embraces a new obsession, its dependents in Europe, Canada, Australia, and other places are bullied into embracing it too. America has many avenues for pressuring the acceptance and recognition of its latest craze or special interest or dark operation and to quiet the criticism which would naturally flow from those who disagree and think for themselves.
Were America not enthralled with this voodoo about terror, Europe and others would quickly fall away, and Israel’s ugly behavior would be left in a glaring spotlight, much as South Africa’s once was.
It is the force of these considerations in part which leads so many to question the true nature of what happened on 9/11, for that set of events was pivotal in having American public opinion embrace extraordinary, anti-democratic, and anti-human rights measures. I do not subscribe to the (not-uncommon) conspiracy notion that the American government was complicit in 9/11, using it as a kind of Nazi Reichstag Fire to ignite the mindless war on terror and a crusade through the Middle East to overturn governments unfriendly to Israel. I do very much believe though that the full story of that event has never been told, and, as always, that can only mean highly embarrassing or compromising facts are being suppressed. The immense body of confidential information in Washington on all matters of state – literally tens of billions of documents – would largely disappear if it weren’t for considerations of embarrassment and compromise, the need for genuine government secrecy being much rarer than many assume.
A free society does not recognize crimes deemed in some way to be different or more heinous or extraordinary: it maintains and enforces sensible, well-reasoned laws which apply equally to all. It does not create criminal laws which reflect political pressure or special interests. The United States, now on a new hunt for a great white whale, has virtually re-created East Germany’s dreaded Stasi, only in a much more sophisticated and far-reaching form. It meshes with the all-pervasive secret state police apparatus Israel has constructed in the Middle East with infinite care since 1948. Now, over all our lives there is something, not answerable to any electorate, working to dissimulate, to intimidate, and to generate fear as nothing of which the Soviet Union was remotely capable. It influences all of our laws and customs, even attempting to shape the way we speak and think.
Israeli economics minister Naftali Bennett has claimed of Binyamin Netanyahu that “The prime minister is not a private person but the leader of the Jewish state and the whole Jewish world.” Really? Netanyahu is the leader of all the Jews in London, or California, or Ethiopia, who may never have set foot in his state?
This extraordinary remark by Bennett lays bare the fundamental flaw in the very concept of Israel. It is not a modern state, defined as a territory and comprising all the various citizens of whatever descent who live within it. It is rather a vicious racist construct, defined absolutely by race, refusing territorial limits, and with an aggressive theocratic overlay that claims tribal superiority over the entire rest of the world.
Here is a picture of the New Zealand cricket team. In the last twelve months, New Zealand cricket teams have fielded payers including Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, Colin Munro, Dean Brownlie, Ross Taylor, Rob Nicol, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne and Mark Craig, not to mention the McCullum brothers. But if I told you that Alex Salmond was the leader of all Scots around the world, including the Black Caps, you would quite rightly call me a nutter.
We would not tolerate the level of racism in any other country that we tolerate from Israel. There was a huge outcry against Labour MP Paul Flynn who dared question whether it was sensible to send a strongly professed Zionist Jew as British ambassador to Israel, but when the Israeli government itself proclaim the political leadership of all Jews all over the world, it is a logical impossibility not to ask the question.
I wish nothing but good to all people, including all Jewish people, but by their increasingly hardline racialist approach, their unceasing encroachment on Palestinian land and their rigorous adoption of all the racist mechanisms of an apartheid state internally, I feat that the window of opportunity for a peaceful future for those Jewish people living in what is currently Israel is closing fast.
It must be universally proclaimed: there is not a single racial group in the whole world from whom worldwide racial claims of political allegiance, or an internal racially based legislative order, are acceptable. Bennett’s remarks are beyond the limit of civilised political discourse.
Documentary produced by Béatrice Pignède, with footage shot by Jonathan Moadab, Sylvia Page, Jean-Sébastien Farez and Saber Farzard. Music by Gilad Atzmon.
Visit http://apophenia.altervista.org for parts 1 to 4.
The U.S. Air Force says it is not halting its use of Depleted Uranium weapons, has recently sent them to the Middle East, and is prepared to use them.
A type of airplane, the A-10, deployed this month to the Middle East by the U.S. Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing, is responsible for more Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination than any other platform, according to the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). “Weight for weight and by number of rounds more 30mm PGU-14B ammo has been used than any other round,” said ICBUW coordinator Doug Weir, referring to ammunition used by A-10s, as compared to DU ammunition used by tanks.
Public affairs superintendent Master Sgt. Darin L. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing told me that the A-10s now in the Middle East along with “300 of our finest airmen” have been sent there on a deployment planned for the past two years and have not been assigned to take part in the current fighting in Iraq or Syria, but “that could change at any moment.”
The crews will load PGU-14 depleted uranium rounds into their 30mm Gatling cannons and use them as needed, said Hubble. “If the need is to explode something — for example a tank — they will be used.”
Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told me, “There is no prohibition against the use of Depleted Uranium rounds, and the [U.S. military] does make use of them. The use of DU in armor-piercing munitions allows enemy tanks to be more easily destroyed.”
On Thursday, several nations, including Iraq, spoke to the United Nations First Committee, against the use of Depleted Uranium and in support of studying and mitigating the damage in already contaminated areas. A non-binding resolution is expected to be voted on by the Committee this week, urging nations that have used DU to provide information on locations targeted. A number of organizations are delivering a petition to U.S. officials this week urging them not to oppose the resolution.
In 2012 a resolution on DU was supported by 155 nations and opposed by just the UK, U.S., France, and Israel. Several nations have banned DU, and in June Iraq proposed a global treaty banning it — a step also supported by the European and Latin American Parliaments.
Wright said that the U.S. military is “addressing concerns on the use of DU by investigating other types of materials for possible use in munitions, but with some mixed results. Tungsten has some limitations in its functionality in armor-piercing munitions, as well as some health concerns based on the results of animal research on some tungsten-containing alloys. Research is continuing in this area to find an alternative to DU that is more readily accepted by the public, and also performs satisfactorily in munitions.”
“I fear DU is this generation’s Agent Orange,” U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott told me. “There has been a sizable increase in childhood leukemia and birth defects in Iraq since the Gulf War and our subsequent invasion in 2003. DU munitions were used in both those conflicts. There are also grave suggestions that DU weapons have caused serious health issues for our Iraq War veterans. I seriously question the use of these weapons until the U.S. military conducts a full investigation into the effect of DU weapon residue on human beings.”
Doug Weir of ICBUW said renewed use of DU in Iraq would be “a propaganda coup for ISIS.” His and other organizations opposed to DU are guardedly watching a possible U.S. shift away from DU, which the U.S. military said it did not use in Libya in 2011. Master Sgt. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing believes that was simply a tactical decision. But public pressure had been brought to bear by activists and allied nations’ parliaments, and by a UK commitment not to use DU.
DU is classed as a Group 1 Carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and evidence of health damage produced by its use is extensive. The damage is compounded, Jeena Shah at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) told me, when the nation that uses DU refuses to identify locations targeted. Contamination enters soil and water. Contaminated scrap metal is used in factories or made into cooking pots or played with by children.
CCR and Iraq Veterans Against the War have filed a Freedom of Information Act Request in an attempt to learn the locations targeted in Iraq during and after the 1991 and 2003 assaults. The UK and the Netherlands have revealed targeted locations, Shah pointed out, as did NATO following DU use in the Balkans. And the United States has revealed locations it targeted with cluster munitions. So why not now?
“For years,” Shah said, “the U.S. has denied a relationship between DU and health problems in civilians and veterans. Studies of UK veterans are highly suggestive of a connection. The U.S. doesn’t want studies done.” In addition, the United States has used DU in civilian areas and identifying those locations could suggest violations of Geneva Conventions.
Iraqi doctors will be testifying on the damage done by DU before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C., in December.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration said on Thursday that it will be spending $1.6 million to try to identify atrocities committed in Iraq . . . by ISIS.
Video Music that shows the political violence in Peru, using the song composed by Ruben Blades, with the same title. Rodolfo Pereira was the director and editor.
The latest hot topic in the Russian media. Russian politicians are talking about it. Historical precedent and behavior of Western media suggests that they are.
A major topic in the Russian media is mystification with how Putin is portrayed in the Western media.
Wildly popular at home, and seen as a decent, modest, an admirable person, and Russians don’t understand how there can be such a disconnect with Western impressions.
Recently, leading Russian commentators and politicians have been suggesting that this can only be explained by a deliberate campaign to defame Putin, by governments or other groups.
Yesterday, at a briefing to foreign journalists, Sergey Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff, arguably the 2nd most powerful man in Russia, spoke of an “information war” consisting of “personal attacks” on Putin.
The western media hit a new low…
The day before another member of Putin’s inner circle, Vyasheslav Volodin, made similar remarks, telling foreign journalists “an attack on Putin is an attack on Russia.”
The logic, they argue, is that by defaming the leader of a country, you weaken his power domestically by undermining popular support for him, and internationally, by rallying popular opinion to support policies against that country. The ultimate goal, they argue, is to weaken the country itself. They also talk about regime change.
They argue that if one looks at the facts, that there is evidence of ongoing character assassination which cannot be explained by a vague popular zeitgeist in the West, but is more likely the result of a dedicated effort to introduce this defamation into the news flow.
Newsweek has been one of the most virulent Putin-bashers for years
The issue of manipulation of news by intelligence services has been in the news recently with revelations that the CIA and German Secret Service (GSS) have long-running programs to influence how media executives and top journalists convey and interpret the news, including direct cash payments.
Here are some examples they point to:
- Portraying him as a scheming dictator trying to rebuild a repressive empire.
- Claiming he personally ordered the murder of a number of journalists, and personally ordered a KGB defector to be murdered with radiation poisoning.
- Frequently citing unsubstantiated rumors he is having an affair with a famous gymnast.
- Allegations that he has stashed away billions for his personal benefit, without providing evidence.
- Recent article in newsweek claiming he leads a luxurious and lazy lifestyle, sleeping late.
- Recent article in NYT focusing on a supposed personal arrogance.
- Hillary Clinton mentioning in speech after speech that he is a bad guy, a bully, that one must confront him forcefully.
- Frequently using pejoratives to describe his person – “a jerk and a thug” (Thomas Friedman this week in the NYT)
- Mis-quoting him on his regret about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
- Articles about a supposed super-luxury villa built for him in southern Russia.
- The over-the top headlines in the western media (they were worst of all in Germany) portraying him personally responsible for murdering the victims of MH17.
- And soft stuff – magazine covers making him look sinister, monstrous, etc.
RI sat down with The Saker, a leading analyst of Russia in international affairs, and asked him what he thinks:
So, is there any credence to this line of thinking, or is this conspiracy theorists running wild?
There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the US is waging a major psyop war against Russia, although not a shooting war, for now, and that what we are seeing is a targeted campaign to discredit Putin and achieve “regime change” in Russia or, should that fail, at the very least “regime weakening” and “Russia weakening”.
So this is a US government program?
Yes, Putin is absolutely hated by certain factions in the US government two main reasons:
1. He partially, but not fully, restored Russia’s sovereignty which under Gorbachev and Yeltsin had been totally lost … Russia then was a US colony like Ukraine is today … and,
2. He dared to openly defy the USA and its civilizational model.
… a free and sovereign Russia is perceived by the US “deep state” as an existential threat which has to be crushed. … this is a full-scale political assault on Russia and Putin personally.
So what the Russians are saying, that the constant personal attacks against Putin in the global media are partly the result of deliberate efforts by US intelligence services, … basically, planted stories…
It seems like “Operation Mockingbird” all over again… Are you aware of other instances aimed at Putin?
(Editors Note: Operation Mockingbird was a CIA program started in the 1950s to influence the US media, which was gradually exposed by investigative journalists starting in the late 60s, culminating in sensational televised congressional hearings in 1975 which shocked the nation, forcing the program’s termination. Critics maintain that the same tactics have continued since, under different programs. Wikipedia)
Yes, of course. Since this defamation has very little traction with the Russian public … Putin’s popularity is higher than ever before .., there is an organized campaign to convince them that Putin is “selling out” Novorussia, that he is a puppet of oligarchs who are making deals with Ukrainian oligarchs to back-stab the Novorussian resistance…
… So far, Putin’s policies in the Ukraine have enjoyed very strong support from the Russian people who still oppose an overt military intervention…
… but if Kiev attacks Novorussia again – which appears very likely – and if such an attack is successful – which is less likely but always possible – then Putin will be blamed for having given the Ukrainians the time to regroup and reorganize.
Warm and fuzzy…
So you are saying that if the Ukrainian military strengthens its position enough to deliver a serious blow to the East Ukrainians, the US can use this as a method to strike at Putin’s support base…
Yes, that’s right … there are a lot of “fake patriots” in Russia and abroad who will reject any negotiated solution and who will present any compromise as a “betrayal”. They are the “useful idiots” used by western special services to smear and undermine Putin.
Is it limited to government special ops, or are there other groups who might have an interest in doing this?
Yes, well here is something that most people in the west don’t appreciate… there is a major behind-the scenes struggle among Russian elites between what I call the “Eurasian Sovereignists” (basically, those who support Putin) and what I call the “Atlantic Integrationists” (those whom Putin refers to as the “5th column).
The western media talks about this as the struggle between Russian liberals and conservatives, reformers and reactionaries, right?
Well its sort of like that, but not exactly…
The former see Russia’s future in the Russian North and East and want to turn Russia towards Asia, Latin America and the rest of the world, while the latter want Russia to become part of the “North Atlantic” power configuration.
The Atlantic Integrationists are now too weak to openly challenge Putin – whose real power base is his immense popular support – but they are quietly sabotaging his efforts to reform Russia while supporting anti-Putin campaigns.
Regarding the revelations of CIA activities in Germany, do you think this is going on in other countries, in the US?
I am sure that this is happening in most countries worldwide. The very nature of the modern corporate media is such that it makes journalists corrupt.
As the French philosopher Alain Soral says “nowadays a reporter is either unemployed or a prostitute”. There are, of course, a few exceptions, but by and large this is true.
This is not to say that most journalists are on the take. In the West this is mostly done in a more subtle way – by making it clear which ideas do or do not pass the editorial control, by lavishly rewarding those journalists who ‘get it’ and by quietly turning away those who don’t.
If a journalist or reporter commits the crime of “crimethink” he or she will be sidelined and soon out of work.
There is no real pluralism in the West where the boundaries of what can be said or not are very strictly fixed.
Ok, but is it like what has been revealed in Germany, …similar specific operational programs in France, the UK, Italy, Latin America, etc.
Yes, one has to assume so – it is in their interests to have them and there is no reason for them not to.
As for the CIA, it de-facto controls enough of the corporate media to “set the tone”. As somebody who in the past used to read the Soviet press for a living, I can sincerely say that it was far more honest and more pluralistic than the press in the USA or EU today.
Joseph Goebbels or Edward Bernays could not have imagined the degree of sophistication of modern propaganda machines.
If the US is doing it, can’t one assume other governments are too? Are the Russians doing it against western leaders?
I think that all governments try to do that kind of stuff. However, what makes the US so unique it a combination of truly phenomenal arrogance and multi-billion dollar budgets.
The US “deep state” owns the western corporate media which is by far the most powerful media on the planet. Most governments can only do that inside their own country … to smear a political opponent or discredit a public figure, but they simply do not have the resources to mount an international strategic psyop campaign. This is something only the US can do.
So foreign governments are at a great disadvantage in this arena vis-a-vis the US?
An Argentine Federal court handed a life sentence to 15 out of 21 people accused of crimes against humanity during the last Argentine military dictatorship on Friday. Among the accused were soldiers, policemen, and former politicians.
The court also gave a sentence of between 12 and 13 years to four of the accused, and absolved one of them.
The 21 people were stood trial for their participation in the illegal detention center known as “La Cacha”. The judge ruled that they collaborated in the genocide that killed thousands of Argentinians.
They were also found guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Laura Carlotto, daughter of Estela de Carlotto, founder of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. This movement searches for the disappeared babies that were taken away from their parents by the military during the dictatorship.
The proceedings began in December 2013, and ended with the reading of the verdict on Friday.The attendees, most of them human right activists, labeled the accused “murderers”.
Between 1976 and 1983, the Argentine dictatorship kidnapped, tortured and slaughtered some 30,000 people, most of them citizens and activists who opposed the military government. Up to now the grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo have identified more than 110 of the disappeared children.