The newly-released batch of Hillary Clinton emails provides further proof that Freedom of Information (FOI) law has been blatantly violated. The documents include material directly responsive to a FOI request I made back in 2012 after the Benghazi terrorist attacks on the U.S. compounds. However, the material was not produced at the time, as required by law. Once again, there appears to be nobody who holds government officials and agencies accountable for their routine violation of this law. So the infractions occur frequently and with impunity. If nobody polices our government officials and agencies–if they are above the law–then how does a lawful society function?
Click here to view the WSJ database of emails. One of the many emails that should have been provided under FOI in 2012, but was not, is to Clinton from Huma Abedin on Sept. 14, 2012. Others include Clinton communications on Benghazi with her chief aide Cheryl Mills.
Several local police forces in California got on the police body-cameras bandwagon well before police killings around the nation in the summer of 2014 triggered a broad push for their adoption. The Rialto Police Department was the focus of a 2013 New York Times story that emphasized how much body cameras improved interactions between officers and the public.
But in Oakland, it appears authorities will only release the body-camera videos when they exonerate police, and that the video will be kept from the public and the media in other circumstances on the grounds that it is part of an ongoing investigation. The East Bay Express recently reported on how the Oakland police are dealing with four police killings. In two cases, Police Chief Sean Whent won’t release any body-cam footage. In the other two cases, police wouldn’t release the footage to the public. Instead, on Aug. 19, the Oakland Police Department held a screening for 11 members of the media.
This account is from the East Bay Express :
[The] videos included police body camera footage taken by officers who were chasing Richard Linyard and Nathaniel Wilks (in two separate incidents). On July 19, Linyard was allegedly fleeing the police on foot when he was later found wedged between two buildings. A coroner’s report said Linyard died from injuries he suffered when he was apparently stuck between the buildings.
On August 12, Wilks allegedly fled the police in a vehicle and then on foot. Several officers confronted and shot Wilks near the intersection of 27th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.
Watson said OPD showed videos to select members of the media in order to dispel inaccurate reports that officers beat Linyard, and claims that Wilks was shot in the back. Both incidents sparked protests. “We held the viewing in the interest of the public, to be able to share information through fair and balanced reporting,” said Watson.
Watson, however, said that the video footage will not be released to the broader public, and that OPD believes the California Public Records Act allows the department to withhold the footage because it is evidence in several ongoing investigations.
‘Completely wrong’ to withhold some video
As the Bay Area News Group reported, giving the police the right to pick and choose which videos to release outraged local civil-rights lawyer Jim Chanin. “I think it’s completely wrong to have selective showings of one shooting and not another shooting, depending on how the department feels . … There’s an inference now that if (police) don’t show you a video, there could be something wrong or improper about (another) shooting,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Sacramento, a bill that would establish statewide procedures on access to and use of policy body-camera footage appears to have failed, U-T San Diego columnist Steve Greenhut wrote on Friday.
In April, a comprehensive bill by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, passed its initial committee vote. Per its official description, “Assembly Bill 66 would provide guidelines about when the cameras are to be operated, require notification of those being recorded, and prohibit law-enforcement officers involved in serious use-of-force incidents that result in serious bodily injury or death from viewing the video until they have filed an initial report.” Whent, the Oakland police chief, testified in favor of the bill.
But Weber’s bill was effectively killed within weeks. As Dan Walters wrote in the Sacramento Bee :
Weber’s body camera bill was beaten up in the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. Police unions, whose endorsements politicians crave, strongly opposed it as unfair, and the committee insisted that only local authorities decide when cops can see body videos.
What does it mean if the majority of what’s published in journals can’t be reproduced?
The ability to repeat a study and find the same results twice is a prerequisite for building scientific knowledge. Replication allows us to ensure empirical findings are reliable and refines our understanding of when a finding occurs. It may surprise you to learn, then, that scientists do not often conduct – much less publish – attempted replications of existing studies.
Journals prefer to publish novel, cutting-edge research. And professional advancement is determined by making new discoveries, not painstakingly confirming claims that are already on the books. As one of our colleagues recently put it, “Running replications is fine for other people, but I have better ways to spend my precious time.”
Once a paper appears in a peer-reviewed journal, it acquires a kind of magical, unassailable authority. News outlets, and sometimes even scientists themselves, will cite these findings without a trace of skepticism. Such unquestioning confidence in new studies is likely undeserved, or at least premature.
A small but vocal contingent of researchers – addressing fields ranging from physics to medicine to economics – has maintained that many, perhaps most, published studies are wrong. But how bad is this problem, exactly? And what features make a study more or less likely to turn out to be true?
We are two of the 270 researchers who together have just published in the journal Science the first-ever large-scale effort trying to answer these questions by attempting to reproduce 100 previously published psychological science findings.
Attempting to re-find psychology findings
Publishing together as the Open Science Collaboration and coordinated by social psychologist Brian Nosek from the Center for Open Science, research teams from around the world each ran a replication of a study published in three top psychology journals – Psychological Science ; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ; and Journal of Experimental Psychology : Learning, Memory, and Cognition. To ensure the replication was as exact as possible, research teams obtained study materials from the original authors, and worked closely with these authors whenever they could.
Almost all of the original published studies (97%) had statistically significant results. This is as you’d expect – while many experiments fail to uncover meaningful results, scientists tend only to publish the ones that do.
What we found is that when these 100 studies were run by other researchers, however, only 36% reached statistical significance. This number is alarmingly low. Put another way, only around one-third of the rerun studies came out with the same results that were found the first time around. That rate is especially low when you consider that, once published, findings tend to be held as gospel.
The bad news doesn’t end there. Even when the new study found evidence for the existence of the original finding, the magnitude of the effect was much smaller — half the size of the original, on average.
One caveat: just because something fails to replicate doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Some of these failures could be due to luck, or poor execution, or an incomplete understanding of the circumstances needed to show the effect (scientists call these “moderators” or “boundary conditions”). For example, having someone practice a task repeatedly might improve their memory, but only if they didn’t know the task well to begin with. In a way, what these replications (and failed replications) serve to do is highlight the inherent uncertainty of any single study – original or new.
More robust findings more replicable
Given how low these numbers are, is there anything we can do to predict the studies that will replicate and those that won’t? The results from this Reproducibility Project offer some clues.
There are two major ways that researchers quantify the nature of their results. The first is a p-value, which estimates the probability that the result was arrived at purely by chance and is a false positive. (Technically, the p-value is the chance that the result, or a stronger result, would have occurred even when there was no real effect.) Generally, if a statistical test shows that the p-value is lower than 5%, the study’s results are considered “significant” – most likely due to actual effects.
Another way to quantify a result is with an effect size – not how reliable the difference is, but how big it is. Let’s say you find that people spend more money in a sad mood. Well, how much more money do they spend? This is the effect size.
We found that the smaller the original study’s p-value and the larger its effect size, the more likely it was to replicate. Strong initial statistical evidence was a good marker of whether a finding was reproducible.
Studies that were rated as more challenging to conduct were less likely to replicate, as were findings that were considered surprising. For instance, if a study shows that reading lowers IQs, or if it uses a very obscure and unfamiliar methodology, we would do well to be skeptical of such data. Scientists are often rewarded for delivering results that dazzle and defy expectation, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Although our replication effort is novel in its scope and level of transparency – the methods and data for all replicated studies are available online – they are consistent with previous work from other fields. Cancer biologists, for instance, have reported replication rates as low as 11%–25%.
We have a problem. What’s the solution?
Some conclusions seem warranted here.
We must stop treating single studies as unassailable authorities of the truth. Until a discovery has been thoroughly vetted and repeatedly observed, we should treat it with the measure of skepticism that scientific thinking requires. After all, the truly scientific mindset is critical, not credulous. There is a place for breakthrough findings and cutting-edge theories, but there is also merit in the slow, systematic checking and refining of those findings and theories.
Of course, adopting a skeptical attitude will take us only so far. We also need to provide incentives for reproducible science by rewarding those who conduct replications and who conduct replicable work. For instance, at least one top journal has begun to give special “badges” to articles that make their data and materials available, and the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences has established a prize for practicing more transparent social science.
Better research practices are also likely to ensure higher replication rates. There is already evidence that taking certain concrete steps – such as making hypotheses clear prior to data analysis, openly sharing materials and data, and following transparent reporting standards – decreases false positive rates in published studies. Some funding organizations are already demanding hypothesis registration and data sharing.
Although perfect replicability in published papers is an unrealistic goal, current replication rates are unacceptably low. The first step, as they say, is admitting you have a problem. What scientists and the public now choose to do with this information remains to be seen, but our collective response will guide the course of future scientific progress.
A huge chunk of the $17 billion in bailout money the IMF granted to Ukraine in April 2014 has been discovered in a bank account in Cyprus controlled by exiled Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, the German newspaper Deutsche Wirtshafts Nachrichten (DWN) reported on Thursday.
In April last year $3.2 billion was immediately disbursed to Ukraine, and over the following five months, another $4.5 billion was disbursed to the Ukrainian Central Bank in order to stabilize the country’s financial system.
“The money should have been used to stabilize the country’s ailing banks, but $1.8 billion disappeared down murky channels,” writes DWN.
Ihor Kolomoyskyi, the former governor of Dnipropetrovsk, is one of Ukraine’s richest businessmen, with a business empire that includes holdings in the energy, media, aviation, chemical and metalwork industries. At the center of Kolomoyskyi’s wealth is PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest financial institution, which claimed the bulk – 40 percent – of the bailout money which had been earmarked for stabilizing the banking system.
“Theoretically, the IMF should retain direct control over the distribution of funds. In fact, it seems that the banks chose their own auditors.”
DWN notes that the IMF reported in January 2015 that the equity ratio of Ukraine’s banking system had dropped to 13.8 percent, from 15.9 percent in late June 2014. By February 2015 even PrivatBank had to be saved from bankruptcy, and was given a 62 million Euro two-year loan from the Central Bank.
“So where have the IMF’s billions gone?”
The racket executed by Kolomoyskyi’s PrivatBank was uncovered by the Ukrainian anti-corruption initiative ‘Nashi Groshi,’ meaning ‘our money’ in Ukrainian.
According to Nashi Groshi’s investigations, PrivatBank has connections to 42 Ukrainian companies, which are owned by another 54 offshore companies based in the Caribbean, USA and Cyprus. These companies took out loans from PrivatBank totaling $1.8 billion.
These Ukrainian companies ordered investment products from six foreign suppliers based in the UK, the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean, and then transferred money to a branch of PrivatBank in Cyprus, ostensibly to pay for the products.
The products were then used as collateral for the loans taken out from PrivatBank – however, the overseas suppliers never delivered the goods, and the 42 companies took legal action in court in Dnipropetrovsk, demanding reimbursement for payments made for the goods, and the termination of the loans from Privatbank.
The court’s ruling was the same for all 42 companies; the foreign suppliers should return the money, but the credit agreement with Privatbank remains in place.
“Basically, this was a transaction of $1.8 billion abroad, with the help of fake contracts, the siphoning off of assets and violation of existing laws,” explained journalist Lesya Ivanovna of Nashi Groshi.
In March Kolomoyskyi was dismissed from his position as governor of Dnipropetrovsk after a power struggle with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko; the fraud was carried out while he was governor of the region in East-Central Ukraine.
“The whole story with the court case was only necessary to make it look like the bank itself was not involved in the fraud scheme. Officially it now looks like as if the bank has the products, but in reality they were never delivered,” said Ivanovna.
Such business practices have earned Kolomoyskyi a fortune currently estimated by Forbes at $1.27 billion, and were known to investigators beyond Ukraine’s borders; Kolomoyskyi was once banned from entering the US due to suspicions of connections with international organized crime.
Despite these suspicions, it appears that Kolomoyskyi is unlikely to face justice, as he is currently living in exile in the US; he fled Ukraine earlier this year. Ukraine has been granted a further $3.6 billion in debt relief from creditors. Russia, despite its membership in development lending institutions, has refused to contribute funds to Ukraine due to concerns emanating from this and other instances of widespread graft.
Waimea, HI – Doctors are sounding the alarm after noticing a disturbing trend happening in Waimea, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Over the past five years, the number of severe heart malformations has risen to more than ten times the national rate, according to an analysis by local physicians.
Pediatrician Carla Nelson, after seeing four of these defects in three years, is extremely concerned with the severe health anomalies manifesting in the local population.
Nelson, as well as a number of other local doctors, find themselves at the center of a growing controversy about whether the substantial increase in severe illness and birth defects in Waimea stem from the main cash crop on four of the six islands, genetically modified corn, which has been altered to resist pesticide.
Hawaii has historically been used as a testing ground for almost all GMO corn grown in the United States. Over 90% of GMO corn grown in the mainland U.S. was first developed in Hawaii, with the island of Kauai having the largest area used.
According to a report in The Guardian :
In Kauai, chemical companies Dow, BASF, Syngenta and DuPont spray 17 times more pesticide per acre (mostly herbicides, along with insecticides and fungicides) than on ordinary cornfields in the US mainland, according to the most detailed study of the sector, by the Center for Food Safety.
That’s because they are precisely testing the strain’s resistance to herbicides that kill other plants. About a fourth of the total are called Restricted Use Pesticides because of their harmfulness. Just in Kauai, 18 tons – mostly atrazine, paraquat (both banned in Europe) and chlorpyrifos – were applied in 2012. The World Health Organization this year announced that glyphosate, sold as Roundup, the most common of the non-restricted herbicides, is “probably carcinogenic in humans”.
Waimea is a small town that lies directly downhill from the 12,000 acres of GMO test fields leased mainly from the state. Spraying takes place often, sometimes every couple of days. Residents have complained that when the wind blows downhill from the fields, the chemicals have caused headaches, vomiting, and stinging eyes.
“Your eyes and lungs hurt, you feel dizzy and nauseous. It’s awful,” local middle school special education teacher Howard Hurst told the Guardian. “Here, 10% of the students get special-ed services, but the state average is 6.3%,” he says. “It’s hard to think the pesticides don’t play a role.”
To add insult to injury, Dow AgraSciences’ main lobbyist in Honolulu, until recently, actually ran the main hospital in town. Although only 1,700ft away from a Syngenta field, the hospital has never done any research into the effects of pesticides on its patients.
Hawaiians have attempted to reign in the industrial chemical/farming machine on four separate occasions over the past two years. On August 9 an estimated 10,000 people marched through Honolulu’s main tourist district to protest the collusion of big business and state putting profits over citizens’ health.
“The turnout and the number of groups marching showed how many people are very frustrated with the situation,” native Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte said.
Hawaiians have also attempted to use a ballot initiative to force a moratorium on the planting of GMO crops, according to The Guardian:
In Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui and Molokai, both with large GMO corn fields, a group of residents calling themselves the Shaka Movement sidestepped the company-friendly council and launched a ballot initiative that called for a moratorium on all GMO farming until a full environmental impact statement is completed there.
The companies, primarily Monsanto, spent $7.2m on the campaign ($327.95 per “no” vote, reported to be the most expensive political campaign in Hawaii history) and still lost.
Again, they sued in federal court, and, a judge found that the Maui County initiative was preempted by federal law. Those rulings are also being appealed.
Even amidst strong public pressure, the chemical companies that grow the GMO corn have continued to refuse to disclose the chemicals they are using, as well as the specific amounts of each chemical being used. The industry and its political cronies have continually insisted that pesticides are safe.
“We have not seen any credible source of statistical health information to support the claims,” said Bennette Misalucha, executive director of Hawaii Crop Improvement Association in a written statement distributed by a publicist.
Nelson pointed out that American Academy of Pediatrics’ report, Pesticide Exposure in Children, found “an association between pesticides and adverse birth outcomes, including physical birth defects,” going on to note that local schools have twice been evacuated and kids sent to the hospital due to pesticide drift. “It’s hard to treat a child when you don’t know which chemical he’s been exposed to.”
Sidney Johnson, a pediatric surgeon at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children who oversees all children born in Hawaii with major birth defects says he’s noticed that the number of babies born here with their abdominal organs outside. This is a rare condition known as gastroschisis and has grown from three a year in the 1980s to about a dozen now, according to The Guardian.
Johnson and a team of medical students have been studying hospital records to determine if any of the parents of the infants with gastroschisis were residing near fields that were undergoing spraying during conception and early pregnancy.
“We have cleanest water and air in the world,” Johnson said. “You kind of wonder why this wasn’t done before,” he says. “Data from other states show there might be a link, and Hawaii might be the best place to prove it.”
It was recently revealed that these chemical companies, unlike farmers, are allowed to operate under an antiquated decades-old Environmental Protection Agency permit. This permit was grandfathered in from the days of sugar plantations when the amounts and toxicities were significantly lower, and which allowed for toxic chemicals to be discharged into water. Tellingly the state of Hawaii has asked for a federal exemption to allow these companies to continue to not comply with modern standards.
The ominous reality of collusion between these mega-corporations and the political class in Hawaii has seemingly left the citizens of the state with virtually no ability to safeguard their children’s health. We tread dangerously close to corporate fascism when profits are put above the health of the people.
A friend once got a bit of a reputation by pointing out that “you don’t need the weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.” But you do need a demographer to know which way the Jews are going.
Some readers will recall the journalistic hockey brawl in the NY Times over the National Jewish Population Survey 2000/2001, partially released in October 2002. Now the full survey is out, but the sticks are still flying, and the penalty box is full.
J. J. Goldberg, editor of Forward, the leading ‘Jewish community’ weekly, contributed an op-ed to the 9/17 Times, denouncing “flawed figures.” James Tisch, chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, replied in the 9/22 issue, defending their numbers against “critics” who “try in vain to ascribe to us ulterior motives.”
If gentile readers were confused about the furor, they will be comforted in knowing that most Jews likewise don’t grasp the underlying issues. But valid stats are crucial to a scientific understanding of the evolution of American Jewry. And with the US military all over the Middle East, and Palestine/Israel certain to be a priority concern in the forthcoming presidential election, universal misunderstanding of the status of Jewry in modern America can have fatal consequences for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans.
The best way for us to start is with the reader estimating the percentage of Americans who are Jews. Got your number? Now the scholars’ calculations. Their figures sit between 2.2% and 2.5%. Now compare your estimate and these figures with the guesses put forth by Americans in a 3/90 Gallup poll.
Twenty-four percent had no opinion. Beyond them, the average American thought that America was 18% Jewish.
That broke down to eight percent of Americans thinking that Jews are less than 5% of the people, 10% saying that Jews are between 5% and 9%, 25% believing that Jews are between 10% and 19%, 18% estimating that Jews are between 20% and 29%, 12% coming up with between 30% and 49%, and 3% reckoning that Jews are 50% — or more! — of all Americans.
Pretty wild? But why should gentile Americans know better? Their guesses are based on what they see. Turn on the TV, go to the movies, pick up a newspaper, follow an election, and in every case Jewish involvement is far above 2.5%.
It is much more shocking that most Jewish estimates are also surreal. Here are the numbers given by American Jews in a 3/98 poll, done nationally by the LA Times.
Twelve percent of our Jews think they are 2% of Americans, 13% think Jews are 3%, and 11% say they don’t know, which is also a ‘proper’ answer. But 7% of America’s Jews think they are 1% of Americans. Five percent of the Jews thought Jews are 4%. Ten percent of the Jews said they are 5%. Eighteen percent believed Jews are 6-10%. Six percent estimated our Jews to be 11-15%, and 18% of America’s Jews projected themselves as over 15% of the population, a whopping margin of error of over 600%.
So, where did those delicious Jewish overestimations come from? Jews know the country is overwhelmingly Protestant, and that the Jewish percentage is much smaller than the Catholics. But they watch the same TV, go to the same movies, etc. Thus, while their numbers aren’t as stratospheric as most gentiles, they likewise tend to be on the high side.
There are two reasons for the Jewish miscalculations. They fall into two broad categories, religious and non-religious. Pious Jews may or may not read the Bible, but the overwhelming majority definitely don’t read much about the mundane history of Judaism since biblical times. And while atheists and agnostics know enough about their ex-religion’s follies to justify abandoning it, once they bail out they usually lose interest in its evolution.
To be sure, many Jews, nationally, read the NY Times, which ran stories on the 1990 NJPS and the 2000-1 follow-up. Atheists might read an article about a bombing in Israel, but they often ignore articles about Judaism as a religion as they see it as not worth reading about. And most religious Jews don’t read the Times or the community weeklies which sit, for the most part unbought, on newsstands in their neighborhoods.
The scholars, real and alleged, argue over the absolute number of Jews because the US census doesn’t count people by religion and it doesn’t accept ‘Jewish’ as an ethnic category. While the contested figures range from 5.2 million in the 2000-1 Survey, to a high of 6.7 million give by a few dissenters, the blood really flows over the intermarriage rate.
The 1990 Survey reported a 52% intermarriage rate. The latest survey reports that “the intermarriage rate for Jews who have married since 1996 is 47%. Differences between intermarriage rates … are due to differences between the “born Jewish” definition used for the 1990 analysis and the “currently Jewish” definition used in this report.”
They say that 1990 NJPS researchers “calculated and presented an intermarriage rate for ‘born Jews,’ a category that included those they considered Jewish at the time of the survey and some they considered non-Jewish, including non-Jews who had been born to at least one Jewish parent and were raised in a non-Jewish religion.”
They admit further on that “In the current survey, applying the broad “born Jews” definition to people whose marriages began in 1991-95 and since 1996 yields intermarriage rates of 53% and 54%, respectively.”
To understand their distinctions between “born Jews” and “currently Jewish,” you must appreciate the sociological law which, as I’m its discoverer, I call, with my customary modesty, Brenner’s law: All religions lie about how many followers they have, and all left wing groups lie about how many people came to their last demonstration. Indeed, more paper has been wasted on debates over who is a Jew than on any other topic, including who really is a Trotskyist.
Today, with the enormous intermarriage rate, the Jewish establishment can’t face reality. They know that “slightly more than a fifth of Jewish adults who were raised by two Jewish parents are intermarried. In contrast, nearly three-quarters of Jewish adults with just one Jewish parent are intermarried. In other words, Jewish adults who are the children of intermarriages are more than three times as likely to be married to non-Jews themselves. At the same time, among those who had intermarried parents, a Jewish upbringing reduces the rate of intermarriage. Almost 60% of Jewish adults who were raised Jewish by intermarried parents are themselves intermarried, compared to 86% of their counterparts who had intermarried parents but were not raised Jewish by them.”
So they stopped counting adults who convert to another monotheistic religion as Jews, and don’t put kids of intermarried Jews, who aren’t raised Jewish, in their ‘current Jews’ category, and, lo presto, they come up with the 47% figure.
Serious scholars find this grotesque. Bob Dylan, my friend mentioned above, converted to Christianity. But many pollsters consider him to be the most famous Jew of his generation. Subsequently, Bob oriented towards Menachem Schneersohn, the late Lubavicher ‘rebbe,’ who most members of his Orthodox sub-sect believe to be the messiah, hovering over his grave in New York, eventually to come back again. It would be unworkable for demographers tracking the evolution of Jewry to drop Bob from their rolls of Jewry because he became a Jesus freak, and then put him back, but as a convert from Christianity.
When doing scientific surveys of religions, races, nationalities, the standard rule is ‘all’s fish that comes into the net.’ T. S. Elliot became a British citizen, but every literary critic correctly lists him as an American poet.
The intermarriage rate has become such an obsession with the Jewish honchos that they overlook an even more ominous stat. Eight out of 10 Jews living with a sexual partner without benefit of clergy is sleeping with a non-Jew. But in their formalistic minds, ‘only’ 47%, for marriages, means that they are still in business, if in deep trouble, whereas if a majority of kids with at least one born Jewish parent intermarry, and the rest are shacking up with gentiles, “organized Jewry,” as their journals call them, is unmistakably little more than the dirty ring in the bathtub after the water is gone down the drain.
For all their abracadabras, Judaism is well and truly shriveling up, everywhere except in Israel, and it doesn’t matter what intermarriage percentage they concoct. Intermarriage is a symptom of the collapse of Jewry, not its cause.
The 1st colonial American Jews, known as the Sephardim, of Portuguese and Spanish descent, in time intermarried and converted to Christianity, as did most of the 1st colonial Ashkenazis, meaning German and Eastern European Jews. In the 19th century, almost 200,000 German Jews came here. About 60,000 converted in that century. By now, most of the rest have intermarried, tho not necessarily converted, and have no connection to organized Jewry.
From 1881 and the 1st czarist pogroms, thru to 1921, when the US established immigration quotas, to keep out Jews and other undesirables, a minority of Ashkenazis from the Russian empire came here already Marxist atheists. They still considered themselves Jews because they spoke Yiddish, which only Jews spoke. Once here, they recruited other immigrants to leftist atheism.
In the 30s, another minority of American-born Jews became Communists. They also saw themselves as Jews because most lived in Jewish neighborhoods, and most married atheist Jews. Moreover anti-Semitism was still a force here, and they were considered Jews by the larger American public. But most of their descendants, usually no longer leftists, are completely assimilated
Today things are significantly different. Many young Jews grow up in ‘white’ suburbs, mixed in with gentiles. They don’t know a word of Yiddish. They go to school with and then work with gentiles. Most of them never encounter anti-Semitism. This is the sociological basis for the intermarriage wave.
Their great-grandparents came here ‘Orthodox,’ now only 9.7% of our Jews, by the NJPS numbers, even less in other surveys. Orthodoxy segregates women in a separate section of the synagogue. Only men can be rabbis. Everyone keeps the kosher laws, no pork, shrimp, etc. Somewhere along the line most of their families abandoned Orthodoxy for either the ‘Conservative’ sect, 15.2%, with its synagogues having local option on segregation and women rabbis, or ‘Reform,’ 17.4%. They have complete gender equality and now have some gay rabbis. They also have, according to rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, an intermarriage rate of “60% to 70%.”
Even if they went to Hebrew school after their day in public school, after their bar mitzvah, their initiation into theological adulthood, at 13, most drop away from any form of Jewish identification. Some of the consequences were described by Reform’s Michael Myers in “Beyond Survival and Philanthropy,” a book based on a symposium in Israel, re the disintegration of American Jewry:
“Host cultures, especially that of America, represent a more serious threat to our collective Jewish existence than ever before. Not only are Jews more socially acceptable then ever in the past, but so is Judaism. The problem is that Jewish tradition is seen as narrow and prejudiced the moment it makes any claim to exclusivity, the moment it makes any claim to superiority.”
Two contributors, Steven Cohen and Charles Liebman, presented the problem from a Zionist perspective:
“After all, if all people are to be treated equally without regard to race, religion, national origin, sex, and most recently, sexual preference, how can American Jews feel totally comfortable in maintaining a special relationship with, let alone granting preference to, Israelis?”
The end result of the process of de facto assimilation is expressed in a host of stats from the 2000-1 NJPS, and from the American Jewish Identity Survey-2001, done at the Center for Jewish Studies at City University of New York. The latter is based on the methodology of the 1990 NJPS and is more reliable than the 2000-1 NJPS, compromised as it is by sugarcoating facts to please the establishment.
According to the AJIS, “More Jews than most other Americans respond ‘None,’ when asked ‘What is your religion, if any?’…. Fewer Jews than members of most other American religious groups agree with the essential proposition of religious belief that ‘God exists.’” Twenty-seven percent of all Jews are uncertain or reject theism, with only 14% of Americans saying they have no religion. The AJIS reported that by 2001 only 51% still believed in some form of Judaism, a 12% decline since 1990. By my reckoning, by this writing, a majority of US Jews reject Judaism. Even the NJPS 2000-1 concedes that only 46% belong to synagogues. That minority divides up 39% Reform, 33% Conservative, 21% Orthodox, 7% other types.
Inevitably the Zionist movement has been dramatically affected by the migrations into religious skepticism and intermarriage. A 1995 American Jewish Committee poll found only 22 percent of America’s Jews calling themselves Zionists, down from 90 percent in 1948. I haven’t found a later percentage figure, but, according to an article in New York’s May 2002 Jewish Post, the decline continues. In 1997, 107,802 votes were cast for American delegates to the World Zionist Congress. In 2002, 88,753 votes were cast.
Even that decline doesn’t tell the whole story of the movement’s decadence. Reform’s slate got 42.24% of the vote, the conservatives received 22.29% and the Orthodox slate garnered 20.23%. The American branch of the Israeli Labor Party got 2.2% and Meretz, a liberal ally of the LP received 3.96%. The rest went to tiny factions supporting Sharon’s ruling Likud Party.
Followers of the late terrorist, Meir Kahane, are not allowed to run in the elections, but they number a few dozen to a couple of hundred, at most. The most significant outside group are the Lubavitchers, who number about 15,000. They are major funders of the Likud and many New York Democrats and Republicans. When the rebbe was alive, a visit to him was a ritual stop for our politicians. Although most Jews look upon the Lubavichers as the Jewish Amish, and have nothing to do with them, a photo op with Schneersohn meant you were ‘good for the Jews.’
The election percentages give an impression that is contradicted by visible reality. Everyone attending the annual NY Salute to Israel Day parade notices that almost all the men wear kippot, Hebrew for skull caps, which tells us that they are Orthodox. Reform and Conservative rabbis got their congregations to sign up for the election so that they could put pressure on the Israeli government to grant equality to their co-religionists there, who are not allowed to legally marry or divorce even their own followers. But the bulk of the voters do nothing more than vote.
The vote drop from 1997 to 2002 can be explained, in large part, by disenchantment over the fact that Israel didn’t do anything significant in the way granting them their rights. Reform Zionists have an ideology of ‘Jewish peoplehood,’ which ties them to Israel in spite of their getting nothing more than a kick in the teeth from the government. In case you haven’t noticed, most politicians, everywhere, operate on one principle. ‘If we don’t give the beggars what they want, what will they do to hurt us?’ Since the Reform rabbis will do nothing, they get nothing. But the penalty they and Zionism pay is that the bulk of Reform, especially the youth, are de facto non-Zionist. As Beyond Survival and Philanthropy delicately put it, US Jews “have such difficulty appreciating the virtual monopoly the Orthodox exercise over the meaning of Judaism in Israel.”
Our universities are disaster areas for Judaism and Zionism. Darwin and physics courses destroy most students lingering faith in the Old Testament. And the devil, taking the form of left-wing professors and the anti-war movement, does the rest. The 1/4/02 issue of Ha’ aretz, Israel’s liberal daily, reported that out of “about 400,000 Jewish students … only about 5 percent have any connection to the Jewish community.”
In many respects, the best illustration of Zionism’s increasing isolation are the tourist stats. According to the NJPS, “just over one-third of all American Jewish adults have been to Israel, (35%).” Ninety-two percent of all Jews have traveled abroad, but England and France outrank Israel as a destination. Although Reform’s members are the most affluent of the 3 groups, they are least likely to go to Israel.
We see this again with immigration to Israel. Most of the true believers who go there to live, and especially the ones who actually stay, are Orthodox.
It is characteristic of the NJPS that it didn’t ask a direct question, ‘are you a Zionist?’ Instead it asked vague questions as to emotional attachment, whether US and Israeli Jews shared a common destiny, etc.
“My people are American. My time is today.” George Gershwin, who was never even bar mitzvahed, said that in 1926. Its taken decades for the typical young Jew to get to that point, but that is the case today. And the assimilation process is a worldwide one, with intermarriage rates of over 50% in every country in the world except Israel and Australia, and even in that last country the rate is climbing.
Why then is the Zionist lobby so powerful when their own scholars write endlessly about the alienation of their youth from the movement? The answer is simple: the Jews are the richest ethnic or religious stratum in the US. Because their standard of living is so high, they are the most educated. Because they are the most educated, they are the most scientific oriented, hence most inclined towards atheism or religious skepticism. But the true believer minority still has an unbelievable amount of money to throw at the politicians.
In 1991, I interviewed Harold Seneker, then the editor of the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans, for an article in The Nation. I told him that I found Jews, 2.2% of the population, to be about 25% of the 400. He told me that he thought this a success story, both for American capitalism and for the Jews, and that he wanted to write a story on it. But Forbes wouldn’t let him. The then publisher had gone thru the Hitler era, when talking about Jewish money was an anti-Semitic specialty.
This mentality is still common on the left as well, and it is wide spread among elderly Jews. Forbes, much of the left, and old Jews share what must be called a ‘folk Marxist’ mentality. Despite the differences in their politics, they all believe that history repeats itself. Someday there is going to be another 1929 Depression. The capitalists will, once again, call up central casting and get another Hitler to smash the left.
This is fantasy. Its a projection of the past, and Germany’s past at that, into America’s future. In reality, journalists constantly turn out articles for Zionist publications about how Jewish campaign contributors play a major role in funding both parties and, very rarely, the topic is touched on in the mainstream media. “The Political Future of American Jews,” a 1985 American Jewish Congress pamphlet by Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, declared that “While there have been few reliable statistics on the subject — and some reluctance to gather any — the journalistic and anecdotal evidence is overwhelming that more than a majority of Democratic funds on a national level, and as much as a quarter of Republican funds have come from Jewish sources.” They were referring to private contributions, as was an article in the 1/5/93 NY Times announcing that “Jews contributed about 60 percent of Mr. Clinton’s noninstitutional campaign funds.”
My estimate is that 84 of the latest 400 are Jews. The magazine doesn’t list religious affiliations unless the person involved is distinctive in giving to religious charities, etc. And not all of the Jews are pro-Zionists. Some listees are among the educated disaffiliated we are discussing. But Zionist money is prodigious. James Tisch, chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations isn’t on the list, altho he is CEO of Loews Corp., listed on the Fortune 500 list. But daddy, Laurence, is, at $2 billion, and uncle Preston is worth $2.3 billion. His predecessors at the Conference were Ronald Lauder, $1.8 billion, and Mort Zuckerman, who struggles along with a penny ante $1.2 billion. Chaim Sabon, $1.7 billion, is a University of California regent. Mayhaps he got the job because he gave the Democrats the largest campaign contribution in American history?
Because of the establishment’s cover-up of the extent of the disintegration of organized Jewry, it is reasonable to think that most gentile politicians don’t realize it. But the Jewish pols do. And there is no reason to think that the gentiles would stop pandering to Zionists even if they understood that they are a shrinking minority among Jews.
Both major parties pick their candidates via primaries which any member can enter. So occasionally an honest Democrat or Republican is elected to congress and begins to criticize their party’s Israel über alles line. Usually it doesn’t take long before a tidal wave of Zionist cash pours in against them in the next election and out they go.
Some Arabs denounce Zionist funding, all day and all night, but there is no way of suppressing Zionist campaign contributions without doing away with the whole structure of privately funded campaigns, and they never talk about that. Many leftists don’t like to talk about it because of their fear of raising anti-Semitism. They want to talk about oil money. That’s fine. Any kid who they let cross streets alone knows that oil is the major reason that the US in so deeply involved in the Middle East. But that doesn’t explain why the two capitalist parties are so pro-Zionist. Indeed their pro-Zionism creates problems for them with the Arab masses. And it doesn’t explain why liberal Democrats are as zealous for Israel as the most fanatic Republican Christian Zionist.
If liberals constantly badmouth big business, they don’t get contributions from the major corporations. But Zionist money is single issue money. A liberal can dump on oil companies, or whatever, and he still gets a share of the Zionist gusher.
A personal experience tells it all about liberals and Zionism. In 1971, the Vietnam-era National Peace Action Coalition asked me to draw in Eldon Clingen, the Liberal Party member of the New York City Council from Manhattan. We had been in the Socialist Party’s youth In the 1950s. He joined the Libs on assignment but subsequently involved himself in Democratic Party politics, without changing party registration. But, as he was “Mr. Clean Air” for his leadership in the anti-pollution effort, the Libs asked him to be their Council candidate.
He was pleased to get his Lib faction involved. We chatted. I mentioned that lower-case liberals, against war in Vietnam, shot passing Arabs, even camels, to get Jewish votes.
“Oh, you have me wrong. I’m of Christian descent, and when I think of the terrible things Christians have done to Jews, I say I can’t do enough for the Jews.”
I told him that the next time he called for more ‘enough’ for Israel, he should write a check to me because, although I’m a Jew, I don’t get any of that ‘enough.’
“OK, I’ll tell it like it is: In order for a liberal — and I mean a lower-case liberal — to win in New York, he must have the Black, Puerto Rican and Jewish votes because he can’t get the Irish or Italian vote. They are locked away with the right-wing. But Blacks and Puerto Ricans don’t give us money. So don’t tell me about terrible things Israelis are doing to Palestinians. It would upset me. But I’m not going to break with my meal ticket.”
The moral of the story is that, while it is crucial to talk about oil industry domination of US foreign policy, it is just as crucial to talk about Zionist funding and its enormous influence on domestic politics. The discussion of both factors must be within a context of insisting that ordinary Americans, Jew or gentile, are fools if they continue to support parties that are so obviously funded by the rich.
Far from being afraid of discussing Zionist funding, it should be a major point in any critique of private contributions. Jews are less than 2.5% of the people. Zionists are now considerably less than 22% of all Jews. (My current estimate is ca. 10%.) And rich campaign contributors are a minority of Zionists. Yet we have an overwhelmingly gentile Congress that is emphatically more pro-Zionist than the majority of Jews.
Far from being a diversion of public attention from the capitalist nature of American politics, as some leftists fear, talking about Zionist money is one of the best ways of making that point. Because of the civil rights struggle and other battles, equality for all races, religions, nationalities, has become part of the broad American value system. Because of this, my percentage estimate of the Jewish proportion of the 400 richest Americans, which, trust me on this, is shared by serious scholars, has an automatic tendency to shock. But isn’t capitalism about inequality? It is absurd to think that a system that sanctifies inequality could be egalitarian in the ethno-religious distribution of wealth.
All that is necessary to make the important point that it isn’t Jewish contributions but Zionist slush that is offensive, is to cite the fact that we now can see that the Zionists are a minority of Jews. Talk about the oil industry and Zionist contributions at the same time, and people will get the correct idea that we are trying to explain a complex problem in detail.
Let’s go further. What US support for Israel and support for Saudi Arabia additionally have in common is that both regimes are theocratic states. An atheist of Jewish background should be concerned if we talked about Israel and didn’t talk about Saudi Arabia. So the moral of the story is talk about both. Additionally, everyone now sees a growing alliance between the Zionist establishment and the so-called Christian Zionists. These fanatics support Israel because of their lunatic notion that the creation of Israel means that Christ is coming, any minute now, to save a Christian America, and send all those atheist Jews, and atheist gentiles, to hell. Hitherto, the Jewish establishment could at least be relied on to resist attempts to convert America into a ‘Christian’ government. But, with the new alliance on foreign policy, that resistance is getting weaker and weaker. The Christian right now reasonably expects an increase in Zionist votes and funding for their candidates. Indeed it is a central tenet of Jewish neo-con politics that it is unreasonable to expect perpetual Christian Zionist support for Israel, unless they get something back in return.
In other words, we are now in a complex political crisis with profound domestic and international consequences. A complex situation can’t be dealt with in a one-sided manner. We have no choice but to examine all parts of the situation. If we denounce all the criminals, Americans, Arabs, Christians, Israelis, Jews, Muslims, for their crimes, from a democratic secular perspective, in a scientific manner, the Zionists and their Democratic and Republican patrons can say anything they want. An educated public will see that we don’t want to deny anyone their rights. On the contrary, they will see that we want to extend human equality and secularism, here and in the Middle East.
LENNI BRENNER is editor of 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis.
Do you have your savings in a mutual fund? Does your pension fund invest in stocks, just as mutual funds do? If so, you may want to know this has been a bad week for U.S. stock markets. The Dow and Nasdaq indices have plummeted big time, but not because of the U.S. economy which is showing signs of revival. It is, as the Wall Street Journal reports, mostly because of the woes in China plus the shakiness of the depressed Greek economy and weaknesses of the economies in other larger emerging nations such as Brazil and Turkey.
Welcome to the world of extreme dependency by the U.S., the world’s biggest economy, on the instabilities of small and large nations overseas. This dependency is exactly what the giant corporations further by pushing globalization, often to misname it “free trade” in order to boost Congressional and White House support for the “global economy”.
Although big business won’t go so far as to advocate U.S. dependence-inducing globalized markets for oil, they are pushing for trade agreements that make the U.S. more dependent even on essentials like food and medicines.
For example, 80 percent of our seafood is now imported, often through dubiously treated fish farms from China. Eighty percent of the ingredients in the medicines you take come from China and India where there are very few inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration, assuming they can gain entry visas.
The 2014 report to Congress from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission describes the recent casualties and looming dangers to the health of the American people from uninspected or counterfeit drugs.
U.S. companies and importers are working hand-in-hand with these exporters to increase their markups and lower costs by displacing U.S. domestic production. Corporations and patriotism are rarely associated.
How often have you been told that trade agreements like NAFTA, GATT and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are “win-win” deals for all signatory countries? But are you told that the U.S. has been buying more abroad than it is selling abroad, leading to huge trade deficits for more than three decades?
China shipped “nearly four dollars’ worth of goods to the United States for every dollar’s worth of imports it purchased from the United States” (according to the above-noted Report) for a deficit exceeding $300 billion and growing each year.
These regular trade deficits mean we’re exporting millions of jobs. When chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan was asked over fifteen years ago at a Congressional hearing whether he was worried about these annual trade deficits, he replied that he would be concerned only if they continue unabated. Mr. Greenspan has not been heard from since on his projected worries.
Dogmatic free traders don’t recognize any evidence that disproves their “win-win” secular religion. Whole industries are taken from the U.S. and lost to dictatorial countries with poorly paid workers that daily violate human rights. Still, the “free-traders” don’t budge.
Of course the ultimate, latter stage dependency created by corporate globalization is when our own health, safety, labor and legal/democratic standards are pulled down by the combination of fleeing U.S. corporate giants in cahoots with fascist regimes overseas.
To be first or best with labor rights, environmental or safety standards for our people is to be accused of imposing “non-tariff trade barriers” against imports from countries that treat badly their consumers, workers and environment. So, for example, our being first with an auto safety standard, a food labelling requirement or a ban on a toxic chemical here lets exporting countries sue the U.S. in secret tribunals in Geneva, Switzerland whose decisions by corporate lawyers (temporarily sitting as trade judges) are final.
If we disobey these secret rulings, countries that win can collect billions of dollars in fines from you the taxpayers. Did you know that international trade could impose its profiteering zeal on your daily health and safety and get its way, not in our courts, but in kangaroo courts closed to the public?
You’re entitled to ask whether you ever agreed to this corporatism when you voted for your Senators, Representatives and Presidents.
Meanwhile, better take a last look at the country-of-origin label on the meat packages sold in your neighborhood supermarkets. Brazil and Mexico beat the U.S. in a secret tribunal in Geneva and were ready to charge us billions of dollars because of these labels. So, the Congress is rushing to repeal its own country-of-origin labelling law—supported by just about every American—to avoid being fined. Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t it time for us to bear down on our corporatist politicians and export them out of our legislatures?
For more information to quicken your resolve, see http://www.citizen.org/trade/.
After decades of claiming that cannabis has no medicinal value, the U.S. government is finally admitting that cannabis can kill cancer cells.
Although still claiming, “there is not enough evidence to recommend that patients inhale or ingest cannabis as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy,” the admission that “cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory,” highlights a rapidly changing perspective on medicinal cannabis treatments.
In the most recent update to the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) website included a listing of studies, which indicated anti-tumor effects of cannabis treatment.
Preclinical studies of cannabinoids have investigated the following activities:
• Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
• A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.
• A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.
• A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells. Studies in mouse models of metastatic breast cancer showed that cannabinoids may lessen the growth, number, and spread of tumors.
• A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, CBD may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells. Studies in mouse models of cancer showed that CBD together with delta-9-THC may make chemotherapy such as temozolomide more effective.
The NCI, part of the U.S. Department of Health, advises that ‘cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment’ by smoking, eating it in baked products, drinking herbal teas or even spraying it under the tongue.
The site goes on to list other beneficial uses, which include: anti-inflammatory activity, blocking cell growth, preventing the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors, antiviral activity and relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis.
Several scientific studies have given indications of these beneficial properties in the past, and this past April the US government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revised their publications to suggest cannabis could shrink brain tumors by killing off cancer cells, stating, “marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others.”
“Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors,” the NIDA said. “Research in mice showed that these extracts, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.”
Research on marijuana’s potential as a medicine has been stifled for decades by federal restrictions, even though nearly half of the states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in some form.
Although cannabis has been increasingly legalized by states, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug — along with heroin and ecstasy — defining it as having no medical benefits and a potential for abuse.
The vast majority of the $1.4 billion spent on marijuana research, by the National Institute of Health, absurdly involves the study of abuse and addiction, with only $297 million being spent researching potential medical benefits.
Judging by the spending levels, it seems the feds have a vested interest in keeping public opinion of cannabis negative. Perhaps “Big Pharma” is utilizing their financial influence over politicians in an effort to maintain a stranglehold on the medical treatment market.
US Federal Judge Re Clinton: “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy”
A US federal judge stated that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for official emails while serving as secretary of state was a violation of government policy, media reports said.
Sullivan was presiding over a hearing on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submissions for the release of Department of State records, Politico reported.
“We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy,” US District Judge Emmet Sullivan said in an apparent reference to Clinton, according to a report on the Politico web site on Thursday afternoon.
In a further comment from the bench, Sullivan said the case was an unusual one because “there was a violation of government policy,” apparently referring to Clinton’s admitted use of a private email server to conduct official business from her home, the site said.
In the case, Department of Justice lawyer Peter Wechsler argued that the FOIA usually does not permit the search and public release of e-mails from the private accounts and servers of US government officials. However, Wechsler admitted that the circumstances in this case were different, the report said.
Sullivan did not define or further elaborate on how he believed Clinton had violated government policy, according to the Politico account.
The judge repeatedly referred to the State Department’s obligation to preserve its records under the Federal Records Act of 1950, and emphasized that he was determined to investigate the issue thoroughly, the report said.
Politico also reported that Sullivan noted the State Department needed to question Clinton as to whether anyone else might still possess copies of official records from her four years as secretary of state.
Moreover, Sullivan emphasized that the public’s general right to privacy did not apply in this case because of the official position Clinton had held.
“We’re not talking about a search of anyone’s random email,” the newspaper reported Sullivan as saying.
Clinton continues to argue that her use of a private email account while secretary of state was legal and within approved government policy.
She told reporters in Las Vegas on Tuesday that what she did was “legally permitted.”
However, Sullivan’s comments contradict her current argument and position on the issue.
“The Clinton campaign and Clinton attorney David Kendall did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the judge’s remarks,” Politico stated.
In the FOIA case, the conservative group Judicial Watch is trying to get records released about the conditions under which one of Clinton’s closest friends and deputy chief of staff at the State Department, Huma Abedin, was paid and employed while still doing private consulting work.
The US Air Force apparently made a ‘slight’ miscalculation worth several billions of dollars regarding the cost of research, procurement and support of its upcoming top-secret long-range bomber, according to media reports.
In 2014, in its annual report to the US Congress, the Air Force estimated the cost of the Long-Range Strike Bomber program between fiscal years 2015 through 2025 would be $33.1 billion. A year later however a similar report contained quite a different figure — $58.4 billion for fiscal 2016-2026.
In an attempt to explain this ‘minor’ discrepancy, Air Force officials claimed that both figures were in fact off the mark, with the correct numbers in both cases being $41.7 billion, according to Bloomberg.
US Air Force spokesperson Ed Gulick said in a statement that the program costs remained stable and that the service “is working through the appropriate processes to ensure” the report, requested by lawmakers is “corrected, and that our reports in subsequent years are accurate.”
The Air Force originally intended to award the development and production contract for the bomber in June or July, but eventually delayed the announcement until September. Currently, two entities, Northrop Grumman and a joint team of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, – are working to secure the contract.
The Pentagon intends to use the new stealth aircraft to bolster its aging bomber fleet. According to the US Air Force’s estimates, it would cost about $55 billion to construct up to 100 of the new bombers, with each aircraft being worth about $550 million.
What a long, strange trip it’s been for engineer Dr. Walter Tamosaitis. Well, perhaps not so much strange as it has been heart-wrenching. Nonetheless, every once in awhile those who are maligned end up being vindicated. That’s exactly what happened last week for Tamosaitis, who has been entangled in five strained years of litigation against his former employer URS (now owned by AECOM).
On August 12, Tamosaitis agreed to a $4.1 million settlement of his federal whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against Hanford contractor URS. While AECOM refused to acknowledge any wrong-doing in the ordeal, there’s no question it didn’t want to drag on the case that could well have made the contractor look even worse than it already did. URS was hired by Bechtel to turn the radioactive sludge at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Eastern Washington into glass rods. It’s proven to be a costly and complex task, and the longer the clean up drags on the more money the contractors make.
“We are very pleased that Walter can get on with his life after five years of litigation, and that he has been vindicated,” said Jack Sheridan, the Seattle attorney who represented Tamosaitis, “This settlement sends a message to whistleblowers everywhere that integrity and truth are worth fighting for, and that you can win if you don’t give up.”
In 2011, I wrote an investigative piece for Seattle Weekly, reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund, that not only looked into the very serious safety concerns raised by Tamosaitis at the Hanford nuclear reservation, put also exposed how his superiors plotted to silence him by removing him from his position and forcing him to work in an off-site, windowless basement. It was an egregious attempt to kill the messenger — a message that put millions of contract dollars at risk.
What URS didn’t expect, however, was that Tamosaitis would refuse to go down without a fight. He openly spoke with me about a greedy management culture at Hanford run amok. He was candid in explaining that the Hanford cleanup was a cash cow for URS and its parent contractor Bechtel, the same company accused of bilking tax-payers over its botched Iraq reconstruction projects. As such, he accused them of putting profits above safety of its employees and the public.
Tamosaitis was in charge of overseeing a sludge mixing project at Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant (WTP), where, if certain deadlines were met, Bechtel and URS would walk away with a $6 million bonus. Yet Tamosaitis wasn’t about to sign off on it, because the mixing process wasn’t working out.
“The drive to stay on schedule is putting the whole [WTP] project at risk,” Tamosaitis told me in 2011. “”Not on my watch’ is a standard mantra among [DOE and Contract] management who like to intimidate naysayers like me. These guys would rather deal with major issues down the road than fix them up front … Cost and schedule performance trump sound science time and again.”
In 2011, Tamosaitis filed a federal whistleblower complaint under the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA). By 2013, Tamosaitis was let go for “lack of work.” Initially his case was dismissed by Federal District Court Judge Lonny Suko, who found that there was insufficient evidence to support his retaliation claim and that he didn’t have the right to a jury trial under ERA. In 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled Judge Suko, stating there was “plenty of evidence that Bechtel encouraged URS E&C to remove Tamosaitis from the WTP site because of his whistleblowing, that URS E&C knew that Tamosaitis’s whistleblowing motivated Bechtel, and that URS E&C carried out the removal.”
The 9th Circuit also found that Tamosaitis indeed had a right to a jury trial. In July 2014, AECOM announced it would acquire URS and has since been pushing for a resolution. While no parties admitted liability, with a $4.1 million settlement, it’s clear who was victorious. Of course, the bigger issue is, will this set a precedent and help ensure that future Hanford employees aren’t afraid to step forward and voice concerns about public health and environmental safety?
That’s the hope, insists Tom Carpenter, director of the Seattle-based nonprofit watchdog group that keeps a close eye on all things Hanford.
“This is great news for Walt and great news for the public. Walt is a hero who staked his career to raise nuclear safety issues that could have resulted in a catastrophe down the road,” Carpenter said after the settlement announcement. “His issues were investigated and validated, and those safety issues are being scrutinized and corrected. This settlement brings justice to Walt, and is a necessary step in the quest to address a broken safety culture at Hanford that has historically punished employees for bringing forward concerns.”
As former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sets her sights on the White House, she continues to be plagued by her email scandal. On Monday, journalist Bob Woodward compared the controversy to the infamous Nixon tapes, which led to the end of his presidency.
While still the most likely Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly addressed concerns about the private email she held while serving as US Secretary of State. While some have expressed concern that Clinton’s servers could have been compromised, others have focused on the fact that she deleted tens of thousands of emails she deemed “personal.”
On Monday, Bob Woodward of the Washington Post compared Clinton’s “emailgate” to the Nixon tapes, the White House recordings which helped prove Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal. Watergate was brought to the public’s attention by Woodward, himself.
“Follow the trail here,” Woodward said on MSNBC. “There are all these emails. Well, they were sent to someone or someone sent them to her. So, if things have been erased here, there’s a way to go back to these email or who received them from Hillary Clinton.”
“So you’ve got a massive amount of data in a way, reminds me of the Nixon tapes: Thousands of hours of secretly recorded conversation that Nixon thought were exclusively his.”
While Woodward does not speculate as to what may have been included in Clinton’s deleted emails, he does note that they could provide valuable insight into what kind of leader Hillary Clinton would be.
“Again, it’s the volume: 60,000 emails and Hillary Clinton has said 30,000 of them, half, were personal and they were deleted. Who decided that? What’s on those emails?” he said.
“The big question about Hillary Clinton is, who is she? Is she this secretive hidden person or is she this valiant public servant? Look at those 60,000 emails and you’re going to get some answers.”
Those emails are currently being combed over by the US Justice Department, after the Democratic candidate handed over her server last week.
Woodward isn’t the first to draw a comparison between Clinton and Nixon. “If Nixon had email, he’d have been just like Hillary Clinton,” reads the headline for an article in the Hill by H.A. Goodman. In it, he makes note of the Nixon Library, where anyone can now listen to roughly 60 hours of tape acquired by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.
“However, there will always be 18.5 minutes of missing tape, destroyed by someone within Nixon’s administrations, containing ‘incriminating evidence’ that nobody will ever be able to hear,” Goodman writes.
“Clinton and her team unilaterally deleted 31,830 emails, without any oversight, and with the expectation that Americans simply trust that these emails never contained any classified or incriminating data.”
Time will tell what the ultimate effect of the emails will be on Clinton’s presidential campaign, but Woodward doesn’t sound terribly optimistic.
“This has to go on a long time; the answers are probably not going to be pretty.”