There’s nothing like a glass of cool, clear water to quench one’s thirst. But the next time you or your child reaches for one, you might want to question whether that water is in fact, too toxic to drink. If your water is fluoridated, the answer may well be yes.
For decades, we have been told a lie, a lie that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans and the weakening of the immune systems of tens of millions more. This lie is called fluoridation. A process we were led to believe was a safe and effective method of protecting teeth from decay is in fact a fraud. For decades it’s been shown that fluoridation is neither essential for good health nor protective of teeth. What it does is poison the body. We should all at this point be asking how and why public health policy and the American media continue to live with and perpetuate this scientific sham.
The Latest in Fluoride News
Today more than ever, evidence of fluoride’s toxicity is entering the public sphere.The summer of 2012 saw the publication of a systematic review and meta-analysis by researchers at Harvard University that explored the link between exposure to fluoride and neurological and cognitive function among children. The report pooled data from over 27 studies- many of them from China- carried out over the course of 22 years. The results, which were published in the journal Environmental Health Sciencesshowed a strong connection between exposure to fluoride in drinking water and decreased IQ scores in children. The team concluded that “the results suggest that fluoride may be a developmental neurotoxicant that affects brain development at exposures much below those that can cause toxicity in adults.” 1
The newest scientific data suggest that the damaging effects of fluoride extend to reproductive health as well. A 2013 study published in the journal Archives of Toxicology showed a link between fluoride exposure and male infertility in mice. The study’s findings suggest that sodium fluoride impairs the ability of sperm cells in mice to normally fertilize the egg through a process known as chemotaxis. 2 This is the latest in more than 60 scientific studies on animals that have identified an association between male infertility and fluoride exposure.3
Adding more fuel to the fluoride controversy is a recent investigative report by NaturalNews exposing how the chemicals used to fluoridate United States’ water systems today are commonly purchased from Chinese chemical plants looking to discard surplus stores of this form of industrial waste. Disturbingly, the report details that some Chinese vendors of fluoride advertise on their website that their product can be used as an “adhesive preservative”, an “insecticide” as well as a” flux for soldering and welding”.4 One Chinese manufacturer, Shanghai Polymet Commodities Ltd,. which produces fluoride destined for municipal water reserves in the United States, notes on their website that their fluoride is “highly corrosive to human skin and harmful to people’s respiratory organs”. 5
The Fluoride Phase Out at Home and Abroad
There are many signs in recent years that indicate growing skepticism over fluoridation. The New York Times reported in October 2011 that in the previous four years, about 200 jurisdictions across the USA moved to cease water fluoridation. A panel composed of scientists and health professionals in Fairbanks, Alaska recently recommended ceasing fluoridation of the county water supply after concluding that the addition of fluoride to already naturally-fluoridated reserves could pose health risks to 700,000 residents. The move to end fluoridation would save the county an estimated $205,000 annually. 6
The city of Portland made headlines in 2013 when it voted down a measure to fluoridate its water supply. The citizens of Portland have rejected introducing the chemical to drinking water on three separate occasions since the 1950’s. Portland remains the largest city in the United States to shun fluoridation.7
The movement against fluoridation has gained traction overseas as well. In 2013, Israel’s Ministry of Health committed to a countrywide phase-out of fluoridation. The decision came after Israel’s Supreme Court deemed the existing health regulations requiring fluoridation to be based on science that is “outdated” and “no longer widely accepted.”8
Also this year, the government of the Australian state of Queensland eliminated $14 million in funding for its state-wide fluoridation campaign. The decision, which was executed by the Liberal National Party (LNP) government, forced local councils to vote on whether or not to introduce fluoride to their water supplies. Less than two months after the decision came down, several communities including the town of Cairns halted fluoridation. As a result, nearly 200,000 Australians will no longer be exposed to fluoride in their drinking water.9
An ever-growing number of institutions and individuals are questioning the wisdom of fluoridation. At the fore of the movement are thousands of scientific authorities and health care professionals who are speaking out about the hazards of this damaging additive. As of November 2013, a group of over 4549 professionals including 361 dentists and 562 medical doctors have added their names to a petition aimed at ending fluoridation started by the Fluoride Action Network. Among the prominent signatories are Nobel Laureate Arvid Carlsson and William Marcus, PhD who served as the chief toxicologist of the EPA Water Division.10
The above sampling of recent news items on fluoride brings into sharp focus just how urgent it is to carry out a critical reassessment of the mass fluoridation campaign that currently affects hundreds of millions of Americans. In order to better understand the massive deception surrounding this toxic chemical, we must look back to the sordid history of how fluoride was first introduced.
How to Market a Toxic Waste
“We would not purposely add arsenic to the water supply. And we would not purposely add lead. But we do add fluoride. The fact is that fluoride is more toxic than lead and just slightly less toxic than arsenic.” 11
These words of Dr. John Yiamouyiannis may come as a shock to you because, if you’re like most Americans, you have positive associations with fluoride. You may envision tooth protection, strong bones, and a government that cares about your dental needs. What you’ve probably never been told is that the fluoride added to drinking water and toothpaste is a crude industrial waste product of the aluminum and fertilizer industries, and a substance toxic enough to be used as rat poison. How is it that Americans have learned to love an environmental hazard? This phenomenon can be attributed to a carefully planned marketing program begun even before Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first community to officially fluoridate its drinking water in 1945. 12 As a result of this ongoing campaign, nearly two-thirds of the nation has enthusiastically followed Grand Rapids’ example. But this push for fluoridation has less to do with a concern for America’s health than with industry’s penchant to expand at the expense of our nation’s well-being.
The first thing you have to understand about fluoride is that it’s the problem child of industry. Its toxicity was recognized at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when, in the 1850s iron and copper factories discharged it into the air and poisoned plants, animals, and people.13 The problem was exacerbated in the 1920s when rapid industrial growth meant massive pollution. Medical writer Joel Griffiths explains that “it was abundantly clear to both industry and government that spectacular U.S. industrial expansion and the economic and military power and vast profits it promised would necessitate releasing millions of tons of waste fluoride into the environment.”14 Their biggest fear was that “if serious injury to people were established, lawsuits alone could prove devastating to companies, while public outcry could force industry-wide government regulations, billions in pollution-control costs, and even mandatory changes in high-fluoride raw materials and profitable technologies.” 15
At first, industry could dispose of fluoride legally only in small amounts by selling it to insecticide and rat poison manufacturers. 16 Then a commercial outlet was devised in the 1930s when a connection was made between water supplies bearing traces of fluoride and lower rates of tooth decay. Griffiths writes that this was not a scientific breakthrough, but rather part of a “public disinformation campaign” by the aluminum industry “to convince the public that fluoride was safe and good.” Industry’s need prompted Alcoa-funded scientist Gerald J. Cox to announce that “The present trend toward complete removal of fluoride from water may need some reversal.” 17 Griffiths writes:
“The big news in Cox’s announcement was that this ‘apparently worthless by-product’ had not only been proved safe (in low doses), but actually beneficial; it might reduce cavities in children. A proposal was in the air to add fluoride to the entire nation’s drinking water. While the dose to each individual would be low, ‘fluoridation’ on a national scale would require the annual addition of hundreds of thousands of tons of fluoride to the country’s drinking water.
“Government and industry especially Alcoa strongly supported intentional water fluoridation… [it] made possible a master public relations stroke one that could keep scientists and the public off fluoride’s case for years to come. If the leaders of dentistry, medicine, and public health could be persuaded to endorse fluoride in the public’s drinking water, proclaiming to the nation that there was a ‘wide margin of safety,’ how were they going to turn around later and say industry’s fluoride pollution was dangerous?
“As for the public, if fluoride could be introduced as a health enhancing substance that should be added to the environment for the children’s sake, those opposing it would look like quacks and lunatics….
“Back at the Mellon Institute, Alcoa’s Pittsburgh Industrial research lab, this news was galvanic. Alcoa-sponsored biochemist Gerald J. Cox immediately fluoridated some lab rats in a study and concluded that fluoride reduced cavities and that ‘The case should be regarded as proved.’ In a historic moment in 1939, the first public proposal that the U.S. should fluoridate its water supplies was made not by a doctor, or dentist, but by Cox, an industry scientist working for a company threatened by fluoride damage claims.” 18
Once the plan was put into action, industry was buoyant. They had finally found the channel for fluoride that they were looking for, and they were even cheered on by dentists, government agencies, and the public. Chemical Week, a publication for the chemical industry, described the tenor of the times: “All over the country, slide rules are getting warm as waterworks engineers figure the cost of adding fluoride to their water supplies.” They are riding a trend urged upon them, by the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Dental Association, the State Dental Health Directors, various state and local health bodies, and vocal women’s clubs from coast to coast. It adds up to a nice piece of business on all sides and many firms are cheering the PHS and similar groups as they plump for increasing adoption of fluoridation.” 19
Such overwhelming acceptance allowed government and industry to proceed hastily, albeit irresponsibly. The Grand Rapids experiment was supposed to take 15 years, during which time health benefits and hazards were to be studied. In 1946, however, just one year into the experiment, six more U.S. cities adopted the process. By 1947, 87 more communities were treated; popular demand was the official reason for this unscientific haste.
The general public and its leaders did support the cause, but only after a massive government public relations campaign spearheaded by Edward L. Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud. Bernays, a public relations pioneer who has been called “the original spin doctor,” 20 was a masterful PR strategist. As a result of his influence, Griffiths writes, “Almost overnight…the popular image of fluoride which at the time was being widely sold as rat and bug poison became that of a beneficial provider of gleaming smiles, absolutely safe, and good for children, bestowed by a benevolent paternal government. Its opponents were permanently engraved on the public mind as crackpots and right-wing loonies.” 21
Griffiths explains that while opposition to fluoridation is usually associated with right-wingers, this picture is not totally accurate. He provides an interesting historical perspective on the anti-fluoridation stance:
“Fluoridation attracted opponents from every point on the continuum of politics and sanity. The prospect of the government mass-medicating the water supplies with a well-known rat poison to prevent a nonlethal disease flipped the switches of delusionals across the country as well as generating concern among responsible scientists, doctors, and citizens.
“Moreover, by a fortuitous twist of circumstances, fluoride’s natural opponents on the left were alienated from the rest of the opposition. Oscar Ewing, a Federal Security Agency administrator, was a Truman “fair dealer” who pushed many progressive programs such as nationalized medicine. Fluoridation was lumped with his proposals. Inevitably, it was attacked by conservatives as a manifestation of “creeping socialism,” while the left rallied to its support. Later during the McCarthy era, the left was further alienated from the opposition when extreme right-wing groups, including the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan, raved that fluoridation was a plot by the Soviet Union and/or communists in the government to poison America’s brain cells.
“It was a simple task for promoters, under the guidance of the ‘original spin doctor,’ to paint all opponents as deranged and they played this angle to the hilt….
“Actually, many of the strongest opponents originally started out as proponents, but changed their minds after a close look at the evidence. And many opponents came to view fluoridation not as a communist plot, but simply as a capitalist-style con job of epic proportions. Some could be termed early environmentalists, such as the physicians George L. Waldbott and Frederick B. Exner, who first documented government-industry complicity in hiding the hazards of fluoride pollution from the public. Waldbott and Exner risked their careers in a clash with fluoride defenders, only to see their cause buried in toothpaste ads.” 22
By 1950, fluoridation’s image was a sterling one, and there was not much science could do at this point. The Public Health Service was fluoridation’s main source of funding as well as its promoter, and therefore caught in a fundamental conflict of interest. 12 If fluoridation were found to be unsafe and ineffective, and laws were repealed, the organization feared a loss of face, since scientists, politicians, dental groups, and physicians unanimously supported it. 23 For this reason, studies concerning its effects were not undertaken. The Oakland Tribune noted this when it stated that “public health officials have often suppressed scientific doubts” about fluoridation.24 Waldbott sums up the situation when he says that from the beginning, the controversy over fluoridating water supplies was “a political, not a scientific health issue.”25
The marketing of fluoride continues. In a 1983 letter from the Environmental Protection Agency, then Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, Rebecca Hammer, writes that the EPA “regards [fluoridation] as an ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized and water utilities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to them.” 26 A 1992 policy statement from the Department of Health and Human Services says, “A recent comprehensive PHS review of the benefits and potential health risks of fluoride has concluded that the practice of fluoridating community water supplies is safe and effective.” 27
According to the CDC website, about 200 million Americans in 16,500 communities are exposed to fluoridated water. Out of the 50 largest cities in the US, 43 have fluoridated water. 28
To help celebrate fluoride’s widespread use, the media recently reported on the 50th anniversary of fluoridation in Grand Rapids. Newspaper articles titled “Fluoridation: a shining public health success” 29 and “After 50 years, fluoride still works with a smile” 30 painted glowing pictures of the practice. Had investigators looked more closely, though, they might have learned that children in Muskegon, Michigan, an unfluoridated “control” city, had equal drops in dental decay. They might also have learned of the other studies that dispute the supposed wonders of fluoride.
The Fluoride Myth Doesn’t Hold Water
The big hope for fluoride was its ability to immunize children’s developing teeth against cavities. Rates of dental caries were supposed to plummet in areas where water was treated. Yet decades of experience and worldwide research have contradicted this expectation numerous times. Here are just a few examples:
In British Columbia, only 11% of the population drinks fluoridated water, as opposed to 40-70% in other Canadian regions. Yet British Columbia has the lowest rate of tooth decay in Canada. In addition, the lowest rates of dental caries within the province are found in areas that do not have their water supplies fluoridated. 31
According to a Sierra Club study, people in unfluoridated developing nations have fewer dental caries than those living in industrialized nations. As a result, they conclude that “fluoride is not essential to dental health.” 32
In 1986-87, the largest study on fluoridation and tooth decay ever was performed. The subjects were 39,000 school children between 5 and 17 living in 84 areas around the country. A third of the places were fluoridated, a third were partially fluoridated, and a third were not. Results indicate no statistically significant differences in dental decay between fluoridated and unfluoridated cities. 33
A World Health Organization survey reports a decline of dental decay in western Europe, which is 98% unfluoridated. They state that western Europe’s declining dental decay rates are equal to and sometimes better than those in the U.S. 34
A 1992 University of Arizona study yielded surprising results when they found that “the more fluoride a child drinks, the more cavities appear in the teeth.” 35
Although all Native American reservations are fluoridated, children living there have much higher incidences of dental decay and other oral health problems than do children living in other U.S. communities. 36
In light of all the evidence, fluoride proponents now make more modest claims. For example, in 1988, the ADA professed that a 40- to 60% cavity reduction could be achieved with the help of fluoride. Now they claim an 18- to 25% reduction. Other promoters mention a 12% decline in tooth decay.
And some former supporters are even beginning to question the need for fluoridation altogether. In 1990, a National Institute for Dental Research report stated that “it is likely that if caries in children remain at low levels or decline further, the necessity of continuing the current variety and extent of fluoride-based prevention programs will be questioned.” 37
Most government agencies, however, continue to ignore the scientific evidence and to market fluoridation by making fictional claims about its benefits and pushing for its expansion. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “National surveys of oral health dating back several decades document continuing decreases in tooth decay in children, adults and senior citizens. Nevertheless, there are parts of the country and particular populations that remain without protection. For these reasons, the U.S. PHS…has set a national goal for the year 2000 that 75% of persons served by community water systems will have access to optimally fluoridated drinking water; currently this figure is just about 60%. The year 2000 target goal is both desirable and yet challenging, based on past progress and continuing evidence of effectiveness and safety of this public health measure.” 38
This statement is flawed on several accounts. First, as we’ve seen, research does not support the effectiveness of fluoridation for preventing tooth disease. Second, purported benefits are supposedly for children, not adults and senior citizens. At about age 13, any advantage fluoridation might offer comes to an end, and less than 1% of the fluoridated water supply reaches this population. And third, fluoridation has never been proven safe. On the contrary, several studies directly link fluoridation to skeletal fluorosis, dental fluorosis, and several rare forms of cancer. This alone should frighten us away from its use.
Biological Safety Concerns
Only a small margin separates supposedly beneficial fluoride levels from amounts that are known to cause adverse effects. Dr. James Patrick, a former antibiotics research scientist at the National Institutes of Health, describes the predicament:
“[There is] a very low margin of safety involved in fluoridating water. A concentration of about 1 ppm is recommended…in several countries, severe fluorosis has been documented from water supplies containing only 2 or 3 ppm. In the development of drugs…we generally insist on a therapeutic index (margin of safety) of the order of 100; a therapeutic index of 2 or 3 is totally unacceptable, yet that is what has been proposed for public water supplies.”39
Other countries argue that even 1 ppm is not a safe concentration. Canadian studies, for example, imply that children under three should have no fluoride whatsoever. The Journal of the Canadian Dental Association states that “Fluoride supplements should not be recommended for children less than 3 years old.” 40 Since these supplements contain the same amount of fluoride as water does, they are basically saying that children under the age of three shouldn’t be drinking fluoridated water at all, under any circumstances. Japan has reduced the amount of fluoride in their drinking water to one-eighth of what is recommended in the U.S. Instead of 1 milligram per liter, they use less than 15 hundredths of a milligram per liter as the upper limit allowed. 41
Even supposing that low concentrations are safe, there is no way to control how much fluoride different people consume, as some take in a lot more than others. For example, laborers, athletes, diabetics, and those living in hot or dry regions can all be expected to drink more water, and therefore more fluoride (in fluoridated areas) than others. 42 Due to such wide variations in water consumption, it is impossible to scientifically control what dosage of fluoride a person receives via the water supply.43
Another concern is that fluoride is not found only in drinking water; it is everywhere. Fluoride is found in foods that are processed with it, which, in the United States, include nearly all bottled drinks and canned foods. 44 Researchers writing in The Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry have found that fruit juices, in particular, contain significant amounts of fluoride. In one study, a variety of popular juices and juice blends were analyzed and it was discovered that 42% of the samples examined had more than l ppm of fluoride, with some brands of grape juice containing much higher levels up to 6.8 ppm! The authors cite the common practice of using fluoride-containing insecticide in growing grapes as a factor in these high levels, and they suggest that the fluoride content of beverages be printed on their labels, as is other nutritional information. 45 Considering how much juice some children ingest, and the fact that youngsters often insist on particular brands that they consume day after day, labeling seems like a prudent idea. But beyond this is the larger issue that this study brings up: Is it wise to subject children and others who are heavy juice drinkers to additional fluoride in their water?
Here’s a little-publicized reality: Cooking can greatly increase a food’s fluoride content. Peas, for example, contain 12 micrograms of fluoride when raw and 1500 micrograms after they are cooked in fluoridated water, which is a tremendous difference. Also, we should keep in mind that fluoride is an ingredient in pharmaceuticals, aerosols, insecticides, and pesticides.
And of course, toothpastes. It’s interesting to note that in the 1950s, fluoridated toothpastes were required to carry warnings on their labels saying that they were not to be used in areas where water was already fluoridated. Crest toothpaste went so far as to write: “Caution: Children under 6 should not use Crest.” These regulations were dropped in 1958, although no new research was available to prove that the overdose hazard no longer existed. 46
Today, common fluoride levels in toothpaste are 1000 ppm. Research chemist Woodfun Ligon notes that swallowing a small amount adds substantially to fluoride intake. 47 Dentists say that children commonly ingest up to 0.5 mg of fluoride a day from toothpaste. 48
This inevitably raises another issue: How safe is all this fluoride? According to scientists and informed doctors, such as Dr. John Lee, it is not safe at all. Dr. Lee first took an anti-fluoridation stance back in 1972, when as chairman of an environmental health committee for a local medical society, he was asked to state their position on the subject. He stated that after investigating the references given by both pro- and anti-fluoridationists, the group discovered three important things:
“One, the claims of benefit of fluoride, the 60% reduction of cavities, was not established by any of these studies. Two, we found that the investigations into the toxic side effects of fluoride have not been done in any way that was acceptable. And three, we discovered that the estimate of the amount of fluoride in the food chain, in the total daily fluoride intake, had been measured in 1943, and not since then. By adding the amount of fluoride that we now have in the food chain, which comes from food processing with fluoridated water, plus all the fluoridated toothpaste that was not present in 1943, we found that the daily intake of fluoride was far in excess of what was considered optimal.” 49
What happens when fluoride intake exceeds the optimal? The inescapable fact is that this substance has been associated with severe health problems, ranging from skeletal and dental fluorosis to bone fractures, to fluoride poisoning, and even to cancer.
When fluoride is ingested, approximately 93% of it is absorbed into the bloodstream. A good part of the material is excreted, but the rest is deposited in the bones and teeth, and is capable of causing a crippling skeletal fluorosis. This is a condition that can damage the musculoskeletal and nervous systems and result in muscle wasting, limited joint motion, spine deformities, and calcification of the ligaments, as well as neurological deficits.
Large numbers of people in Japan, China, India, the Middle East, and Africa have been diagnosed with skeletal fluorosis from drinking naturally fluoridated water. In India alone, nearly a million people suffer from the affliction. 39 While only a dozen cases of skeletal fluorosis have been reported in the United States, Chemical and Engineering News states that “critics of the EPA standard speculate that there probably have been many more cases of fluorosis even crippling fluorosis than the few reported in the literature because most doctors in the U.S. have not studied the disease and do not know how to diagnose it.” 50
Radiologic changes in bone occur when fluoride exposure is 5 mg/day, according to the late Dr. George Waldbott, author of Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma. While this 5 mg/day level is the amount of fluoride ingested by most people living in fluoridated areas, 51 the number increases for diabetics and laborers, who can ingest up to 20 mg of fluoride daily. In addition, a survey conducted by the Department of Agriculture shows that 3% of the U.S. population drinks 4 liters or more of water every day. If these individuals live in areas where the water contains a fluoride level of 4 ppm, allowed by the EPA, they are ingesting 16 mg/day from the consumption of water alone, and are thus at greater risk for getting skeletal fluorosis. 52
According to a 1989 National Institute for Dental Research study, 1-2% of children living in areas fluoridated at 1 ppm develop dental fluorosis, that is, permanently stained, brown mottled teeth. Up to 23% of children living in areas naturally fluoridated at 4 ppm develop severe dental fluorosis. 53 Other research gives higher figures. The publication Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride, put out by the National Academy of Sciences, reports that in areas with optimally fluoridated water (1 ppm, either natural or added), dental fluorosis levels in recent years ranged from 8 to 51%. Recently, a prevalence of slightly over 80% was reported in children 12-14 years old in Augusta, Georgia.
Fluoride is a noteworthy chemical additive in that its officially acknowledged benefit and damage levels are about the same. Writing in The Progressive, science journalist Daniel Grossman elucidates this point: “Though many beneficial chemicals are dangerous when consumed at excessive levels, fluoride is unique because the amount that dentists recommend to prevent cavities is about the same as the amount that causes dental fluorosis.” 54 Although the American Dental Association and the government consider dental fluorosis only a cosmetic problem, the American Journal of Public Health says that “…brittleness of moderately and severely mottled teeth may be associated with elevated caries levels.” 45 In other words, in these cases the fluoride is causing the exact problem that it’s supposed to prevent. Yiamouyiannis adds, “In highly naturally-fluoridated areas, the teeth actually crumble as a result. These are the first visible symptoms of fluoride poisoning.” 55
Also, when considering dental fluorosis, there are factors beyond the physical that you can’t ignore the negative psychological effects of having moderately to severely mottled teeth. These were recognized in a 1984 National Institute of Mental Health panel that looked into this problem.
A telling trend is that TV commercials for toothpaste, and toothpaste tubes themselves, are now downplaying fluoride content as a virtue. This was noted in an article in the Sarasota/Florida ECO Report, 56 whose author, George Glasser, feels that manufacturers are distancing themselves from the additive because of fears of lawsuits. The climate is ripe for these, and Glasser points out that such a class action suit has already been filed in England against the manufacturers of fluoride-containing products on behalf of children suffering from dental fluorosis.
At one time, fluoride therapy was recommended for building denser bones and preventing fractures associated with osteoporosis. Now several articles in peer-reviewed journals suggest that fluoride actually causes more harm than good, as it is associated with bone breakage. Three studies reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed links between hip fractures and fluoride. 575859 Findings here were, for instance, that there is “a small but significant increase in the risk of hip fractures in both men and women exposed to artificial fluoridation at 1 ppm.” In addition, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that people given fluoride to cure their osteoporosis actually wound up with an increased nonvertebral fracture rate. 60 Austrian researchers have also found that fluoride tablets make bones more susceptible to fractures.61 The U.S. National Research Council states that the U.S. hip fracture rate is now the highest in the world. 62
Louis V. Avioli, professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, says in a 1987 review of the subject: “Sodium fluoride therapy is accompanied by so many medical complications and side effects that it is hardly worth exploring in depth as a therapeutic mode for postmenopausal osteoporosis, since it fails to decrease the propensity for hip fractures and increases the incidence of stress fractures in the extremities.” 63
In May 1992, 260 people were poisoned, and one man died, in Hooper Bay, Alaska, after drinking water contaminated with 150 ppm of fluoride. The accident was attributed to poor equipment and an unqualified operator. 55 Was this a fluke? Not at all. Over the years, the CDC has recorded several incidents of excessive fluoride permeating the water supply and sickening or killing people. We don’t usually hear about these occurrences in news reports, but interested citizens have learned the truth from data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Here is a partial list of toxic spills we have not been told about:
July 1993 Chicago, Illinois: Three dialysis patients died and five experienced toxic reactions to the fluoridated water used in the treatment process. The CDC was asked to investigate, but to date there have been no press releases.
May 1993 Kodiak, Alaska (Old Harbor): The population was warned not to consume water due to high fluoride levels. They were also cautioned against boiling the water, since this concentrates the substance and worsens the danger. Although equipment appeared to be functioning normally, 22-24 ppm of fluoride was found in a sample.
July 1992 Marin County, California: A pump malfunction allowed too much fluoride into the Bon Tempe treatment plant. Two million gallons of fluoridated water were diverted to Phoenix Lake, elevating the lake surface by more than two inches and forcing some water over the spillway.
December 1991 Benton Harbor, Michigan: A faulty pump allowed approximately 900 gallons of hydrofluosilicic acid to leak into a chemical storage building at the water plant. City engineer Roland Klockow stated, “The concentrated hydrofluosilicic acid was so corrosive that it ate through more than two inches of concrete in the storage building.” This water did not reach water consumers, but fluoridation was stopped until June 1993. The original equipment was only two years old.
July 1991 Porgate, Michigan: After a fluoride injector pump failed, fluoride levels reached 92 ppm and resulted in approximately 40 children developing abdominal pains, sickness, vomiting, and diarrhea at a school arts and crafts show.
November 1979 Annapolis, Maryland: One patient died and eight became ill after renal dialysis treatment. Symptoms included cardiac arrest (resuscitated), hypotension, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and a whole gamut of intestinal problems. Patients not on dialysis also reported nausea, headaches, cramps, diarrhea, and dizziness. The fluoride level was later found to be 35 ppm; the problem was traced to a valve at a water plant that had been left open all night. 64
Instead of addressing fluoridation’s problematic safety record, officials have chosen to cover it up. For example, the ADA says in one booklet distributed to health agencies that “Fluoride feeders are designed to stop operating when a malfunction occurs… so prolonged over-fluoridation becomes a mechanical impossibility.” In addition, the information that does reach the population after an accident is woefully inaccurate. A spill in Annapolis, Maryland, placed thousands at risk, but official reports reduced the number to eight. 65 Perhaps officials are afraid they will invite more lawsuits like the one for $480 million by the wife of a dialysis patient who became brain-injured as the result of fluoride poisoning.
Not all fluoride poisoning is accidental. For decades, industry has knowingly released massive quantities of fluoride into the air and water. Disenfranchised communities, with people least able to fight back, are often the victims. Medical writer Joel Griffiths relays this description of what industrial pollution can do, in this case to a devastatingly poisoned Indian reservation:
“Cows crawled around the pasture on their bellies, inching along like giant snails. So crippled by bone disease they could not stand up, this was the only way they could graze. Some died kneeling, after giving birth to stunted calves. Others kept on crawling until, no longer able to chew because their teeth had crumbled down to the nerves, they began to starve….” They were the cattle of the Mohawk Indians on the New York-Canadian St. Regis Reservation during the period 1960-1975, when industrial pollution devastated the herd and along with it, the Mohawks’ way of life….Mohawk children, too, have shown signs of damage to bones and teeth.” 66
Mohawks filed suit against the Reynolds Metals Company and the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) in 1960, but ended up settling out of court, where they received $650,000 for their cows. 67
Fluoride is one of industry’s major pollutants, and no one remains immune to its effects. In 1989, 155,000 tons were being released annually into the air, and 500,000 tons a year were disposed of in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. 68
Numerous studies demonstrate links between fluoridation and cancer; however, agencies promoting fluoride consistently refute or cover up these findings.
In 1977, Dr. John Yiamouyiannis and Dr. Dean Burk, former chief chemist at the National Cancer Institute, released a study that linked fluoridation to 10,000 cancer deaths per year in the U.S. Their inquiry, which compared cancer deaths in the ten largest fluoridated American cities to those in the ten largest unfluoridated cities between 1940 and 1950, discovered a 5% greater rate in the fluoridated areas. 69 The NCI disputed these findings, since an earlier analysis of theirs apparently failed to pick up these extra deaths. Federal authorities claimed that Yiamouyiannis and Burk were in error, and that any increase was caused by statistical changes over the years in age, gender, and racial composition. 70
In order to settle the question of whether or not fluoride is a carcinogen, a Congressional subcommittee instructed the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to perform another investigation. 71 That study, due in 1980, was not released until 1990. However, in 1986, while the study was delayed, the EPA raised the standard fluoride level in drinking water from 2.4 to 4 ppm. 72 After this step, some of the government’s own employees in NFFE Local 2050 took what the Oakland Tribune termed the “remarkable step of denouncing that action as political.” 73
When the NTP study results became known in early 1990, union president Dr. Robert Carton, who works in the EPA’s Toxic Substances Division, published a statement. It read, in part: “Four years ago, NFFE Local 2050, which represents all 1100 professionals at EPA headquarters, alerted then Administrator Lee Thomas to the fact that the scientific support documents for the fluoride in drinking water standard were fatally flawed. The fluoride juggernaut proceeded as it apparently had for the last 40 years without any regard for the facts or concern for public health.
“EPA raised the allowed level of fluoride before the results of the rat/mouse study ordered by Congress in 1977 was complete. Today, we find out how irresponsible that decision was. The results reported by NTP, and explained today by Dr. Yiamouyiannis, are, as he notes, not surprising considering the vast amount of data that caused the animal study to be conducted in the first place. The results are not surprising to NFFE Local 2050 either. Four years ago we realized that the claim that there was no evidence that fluoride could cause genetic effects or cancer could not be supported by the shoddy document thrown together by the EPA contractor.
“It was apparent to us that EPA bowed to political pressure without having done an in-depth, independent analysis, using in-house experts, of the currently existing data that show fluoride causes genetic effects, promotes the growth of cancerous tissue, and is likely to cause cancer in humans. If EPA had done so, it would have been readily apparent as it was to Congress in 1977 that there were serious reasons to believe in a cancer threat.
“The behavior by EPA in this affair raises questions about the integrity of science at EPA and the role of professional scientists, lawyers and engineers who provide the interpretation of the available data and the judgements necessary to protect the public health and the environment. Are scientists at EPA there to arrange facts to fit preconceived conclusions? Does the Agency have a responsibility to develop world-class experts in the risks posed by chemicals we are exposed to every day, or is it permissible for EPA to cynically shop around for contractors who will provide them the ‘correct’ answers?” 74
What were the NTP study results? Out of 130 male rats that ingested 45 to 79 ppm of fluoride, 5 developed osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. There were cases, in both males and females at those doses, of squamous cell carcinoma in the mouth. 75 Both rats and mice had dose-related fluorosis of the teeth, and female rats suffered osteosclerosis of the long bones.76
When Yiamouyiannis analyzed the same data, he found mice with a particularly rare form of liver cancer, known as hepatocholangiocarcinoma. This cancer is so rare, according to Yiamouyiannis, that the odds of its appearance in this study by chance are 1 in 2 million in male mice and l in 100,000 in female mice. He also found precancerous changes in oral squamous cells, an increase in squamous cell tumors and cancers, and thyroid follicular cell tumors as a result of increasing levels of fluoride in drinking water. 77
A March 13, 1990, New York Times article commented on the NTP findings: “Previous animal tests suggesting that water fluoridation might pose risks to humans have been widely discounted as technically flawed, but the latest investigation carefully weeded out sources of experimental or statistical error, many scientists say, and cannot be discounted.” 78 In the same article, biologist Dr. Edward Groth notes: “The importance of this study…is that it is the first fluoride bioassay giving positive results in which the latest state-of-the-art procedures have been rigorously applied. It has to be taken seriously.” 71
On February 22, 1990, the Medical Tribune, an international medical news weekly received by 125,000 doctors, offered the opinion of a federal scientist who preferred to remain anonymous:
“It is difficult to see how EPA can fail to regulate fluoride as a carcinogen in light of what NTP has found. Osteosarcomas are an extremely unusual result in rat carcinogenicity tests. Toxicologists tell me that the only other substance that has produced this is radium….The fact that this is a highly atypical form of cancer implicates fluoride as the cause. Also, the osteosarcomas appeared to be dose-related, and did not occur in controls, making it a clean study.” 79
Public health officials were quick to assure a concerned public that there was nothing to worry about! The ADA said the occurrence of cancers in the lab may not be relevant to humans since the level of fluoridation in the experimental animals’ water was so high. 80 But the Federal Register, which is the handbook of government practices, disagrees: “The high exposure of experimental animals to toxic agents is a necessary and valid method of discovering possible carcinogenic hazards in man. To disavow the findings of this test would be to disavow those of all such tests, since they are all conducted according to this standard.” 73 As a February 5, 1990, Newsweek article pointed out, “such megadosing is standard toxicological practice. It’s the only way to detect an effect without using an impossibly large number of test animals to stand in for the humans exposed to the substance.” 81 And as the Safer Water Foundation explains, higher doses are generally administered to test animals to compensate for the animals’ shorter life span and because humans are generally more vulnerable than test animals on a body-weight basis. 82
Several other studies link fluoride to genetic damage and cancer. An article in Mutation Research says that a study by Proctor and Gamble, the very company that makes Crest toothpaste, did research showing that 1 ppm fluoride causes genetic damage.83 Results were never published but Proctor and Gamble called them “clean,” meaning animals were supposedly free of malignant tumors. Not so, according to scientists who believe some of the changes observed in test animals could be interpreted as precancerous. 84 Yiamouyiannis says the Public Health Service sat on the data, which were finally released via a Freedom of Information Act request in 1989. “Since they are biased, they have tried to cover up harmful effects,” he says. “But the data speaks for itself. Half the amount of fluoride that is found in the New York City drinking water causes genetic damage.” 46
A National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences publication, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, also linked fluoride to genetic toxicity when it stated that “in cultured human and rodent cells, the weight of evidence leads to the conclusion that fluoride exposure results in increased chromosome aberrations.” 85 The result of this is not only birth defects but the mutation of normal cells into cancer cells. The Journal of Carcinogenesis further states that “fluoride not only has the ability to transform normal cells into cancer cells but also to enhance the cancer-causing properties of other chemicals.” 86
Surprisingly, the PHS put out a report called Review of fluoride: benefits and risks, in which they showed a substantially higher incidence of bone cancer in young men exposed to fluoridated water compared to those who were not. The New Jersey Department of Health also found that the risk of bone cancer was about three times as high in fluoridated areas as in nonfluoridated areas. 87
Despite cover-up attempts, the light of knowledge is filtering through to some enlightened scientists. Regarding animal test results, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, James Huff, does say that “the reason these animals got a few osteosarcomas was because they were given fluoride…Bone is the target organ for fluoride.” Toxicologist William Marcus adds that “fluoride is a carcinogen by any standard we use. I believe EPA should act immediately to protect the public, not just on the cancer data, but on the evidence of bone fractures, arthritis, mutagenicity, and other effects.” 88
The Challenge of Eliminating Fluoride
Given all the scientific challenges to the idea of the safety of fluoride, why does it remain a protected contaminant? As Susan Pare of the Center for Health Action asks, “…even if fluoride in the water did reduce tooth decay, which it does not, how can the EPA allow a substance more toxic than Alar, red dye #3, and vinyl chloride to be injected purposely into drinking water?” 89
This is certainly a logical question and, with all the good science that seems to exist on the subject, you would think that there would be a great deal of interest in getting fluoride out of our water supply. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. As Dr. William Marcus, a senior science advisor in the EPA’s Office of Drinking Water, has found, the top governmental priority has been to sweep the facts under the rug and, if need be, to suppress truth-tellers. Marcus explains 90 that fluoride is one of the chemicals the EPA specifically regulates, and that he was following the data coming in on fluoride very carefully when a determination was going to be made on whether the levels should be changed. He discovered that the data were not being heeded. But that was only the beginning of the story for him. Marcus recounts what happened:
“The studies that were done by Botel Northwest showed that there was an increased level of bone cancer and other types of cancer in animals….in that same study, there were very rare liver cancers, according to the board-certified veterinary pathologists at the contractor, Botel. Those really were very upsetting because they were hepatocholangeal carcinomas, very rare liver cancers….Then there were several other kinds of cancers that were found in the jaw and other places.
“I felt at that time that the reports were alarming. They showed that the levels of fluoride that can cause cancers in animals are actually lower than those levels ingested in people (who take lower amounts but for longer periods of time).
“I went to a meeting that was held in Research Triangle Park, in April 1990, in which the National Toxicology Program was presenting their review of the study. I went with several colleagues of mine, one of whom was a board-certified veterinary pathologist who originally reported hepatocholangeal carcinoma as a separate entity in rats and mice. I asked him if he would look at the slides to see if that really was a tumor or if the pathologists at Botel had made an error. He told me after looking at the slides that, in fact, it was correct.
“At the meeting, every one of the cancers reported by the contractor had been downgraded by the National Toxicology Program. I have been in the toxicology business looking at studies of this nature for nearly 25 years and I have never before seen every single cancer endpoint downgraded…. I found that very suspicious and went to see an investigator in the Congress at the suggestion of my friend, Bob Carton. This gentleman and his staff investigated very thoroughly and found out that the scientists at the National Toxicology Program down at Research Triangle Park had been coerced by their superiors to change their findings.”91
Once Dr. Marcus acted on his findings, something ominous started to happen in his life: “…I wrote an internal memorandum and gave it to my supervisors. I waited for a month without hearing anything. Usually, you get a feedback in a week or so. I wrote another memorandum to a person who was my second-line supervisor explaining that if there was even a slight chance of increased cancer in the general population, since 140 million people were potentially ingesting this material, that the deaths could be in the many thousands. Then I gave a copy of the memorandum to the Fluoride Work Group, who waited some time and then released it to the press.
“Once it got into the press all sorts of things started happening at EPA. I was getting disciplinary threats, being isolated, and all kinds of things which ultimately resulted in them firing me on March 15, 1992.”
In order to be reinstated at work, Dr. Marcus took his case to court. In the process, he learned that the government had engaged in various illegal activities, including 70 felony counts, in order to get him fired. At the same time, those who committed perjury were not held accountable for it. In fact, they were rewarded for their efforts:
“When we finally got the EPA to the courtroom…they admitted to doing several things to get me fired. We had notes of a meeting…that showed that fluoride was one of the main topics discussed and that it was agreed that they would fire me with the help of the Inspector General. When we got them on the stand and showed them the memoranda, they finally remembered and said, oh yes, we lied about that in our previous statements.
“Then…they admitted to shredding more than 70 documents that they had in hand Freedom of Information requests. That’s a felony…. In addition, they charged me with stealing time from the government. They…tried to show…that I had been doing private work on government time and getting paid for it. When we came to court, I was able to show that the time cards they produced were forged, and forged by the Inspector General’s staff….”
For all his efforts, Dr. Marcus was rehired, but nothing else has changed: “The EPA was ordered to rehire me, which they did. They were given a whole series of requirements to be met, such as paying me my back pay, restoring my leave, privileges, and sick leave and annual leave. The only thing they’ve done is put me back to work. They haven’t given me any of those things that they were required to do.”92
What is at the core of such ruthless tactics? John Yiamouyiannis feels that the central concern of government is to protect industry, and that the motivating force behind fluoride use is the need of certain businesses to dump their toxic waste products somewhere. They try to be inconspicuous in the disposal process and not make waves. “As is normal, the solution to pollution is dilution. You poison everyone a little bit rather than poison a few people a lot. This way, people don’t know what’s going on.”
Since the Public Health Service has promoted the fluoride myth for over 50 years, they’re concerned about protecting their reputation. So scientists like Dr. Marcus, who know about the dangers, are intimidated into keeping silent. Otherwise, they jeopardize their careers. Dr. John Lee elaborates: “Back in 1943, the PHS staked their professional careers on the benefits and safety of fluoride. It has since become bureaucratized. Any public health official who criticizes fluoride, or even hints that perhaps it was an unwise decision, is at risk of losing his career entirely. This has happened time and time again. Public health officials such as Dr. Gray in British Columbia and Dr. Colquhoun in New Zealand found no benefit from fluoridation. When they reported these results, they immediately lost their careers…. This is what happens the public health officials who speak out against fluoride are at great risk of losing their careers on the spot.”
Yiamouyiannis adds that for the authorities to admit that they’re wrong would be devastating. “It would show that their reputations really don’t mean that much…. They don’t have the scientific background. As Ralph Nader once said, if they admit they’re wrong on fluoridation, people would ask, and legitimately so, what else have they not told us right?”
Accompanying a loss in status would be a tremendous loss in revenue. Yiamouyiannis points out that “the indiscriminate careless handling of fluoride has a lot of companies, such as Exxon, U.S. Steel, and Alcoa, making tens of billions of dollars in extra profits at our expense…. For them to go ahead now and admit that this is bad, this presents a problem, a threat, would mean tens of billions of dollars in lost profit because they would have to handle fluoride properly. Fluoride is present in everything from phosphate fertilizers to cracking agents for the petroleum industry.”
Fluoride could only be legally disposed of at a great cost to industry. As Dr. Bill Marcus explains, “There are prescribed methods for disposal and they’re very expensive. Fluoride is a very potent poison. It’s a registered pesticide, used for killing rats or mice…. If it were to be disposed of, it would require a class-one landfill. That would cost the people who are producing aluminum or fertilizer about $7000+ per 5000- to 6000-gallon truckload to dispose of it. It’s highly corrosive.”
Another problem is that the U.S. judicial system, even when convinced of the dangers, is powerless to change policy. Yiamouyiannis tells of his involvement in court cases in Pennsylvania and Texas in which, while the judges were convinced that fluoride was a health hazard, they did not have the jurisdiction to grant relief from fluoridation. That would have to be done, it was ultimately found, through the legislative process. Interestingly, the judiciary seems to have more power to effect change in other countries. Yiamouyiannis states that when he presented the same technical evidence in Scotland, the Scottish court outlawed fluoridation based on the evidence.
Indeed, most of Western Europe has rejected fluoridation on the grounds that it is unsafe. In 1971, after 11 years of testing, Sweden’s Nobel Medical Institute recommended against fluoridation, and the process was banned.93 The Netherlands outlawed the practice in 1976, after 23 years of tests. France decided against it after consulting with its Pasteur Institute64 and West Germany, now Germany, rejected the practice because the recommended dosage of 1 ppm was “too close to the dose at which long-term damage to the human body is to be expected.” 84 Dr. Lee sums it up: “All of western Europe, except one or two test towns in Spain, has abandoned fluoride as a public health plan. It is not put in the water anywhere. They all established test cities and found that the benefits did not occur and the toxicity was evident.”94
Isn’t it time the United States followed Western Europe’s example? While the answer is obvious, it is also apparent that government policy is unlikely to change without public support. We therefore must communicate with legislators, and insist on one of our most precious resources pure, unadulterated drinking water. Yiamouyiannis urges all American people to do so, pointing out that public pressure has gotten fluoride out of the water in places like Los Angeles; Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey; and 95Bedford, Massachusetts. 46 He emphasizes the immediacy of the problem: “There is no question with regard to fluoridation of public water supplies. It is absolutely unsafe…and should be stopped immediately. This is causing more destruction to human health than any other single substance added purposely or inadvertently to the water supply. We’re talking about 35,000 excess deaths a year…10,000 cancer deaths a year…130 million people who are being chronically poisoned. We’re not talking about dropping dead after drinking a glass of fluoridated water…. It takes its toll on human health and life, glass after glass.” 96
There is also a moral issue in the debate that has largely escaped notice. According to columnist James Kilpatrick, it is “the right of each person to control the drugs he or she takes.” Kilpatrick calls fluoridation compulsory mass medication, a procedure that violates the principles of medical ethics. 97 A New York Times editorial agrees:
“In light of the uncertainty, critics [of fluoridation] argue that administrative bodies are unjustified in imposing fluoridation on communities without obtaining public consent…. The real issue here is not just the scientific debate. The question is whether any establishment has the right to decide that benefits outweigh risks and impose involuntary medication on an entire population. In the case of fluoridation, the dental establishment has made opposition to fluoridation seem intellectually disreputable. Some people regard that as tyranny.” 98
Source: Dr. Gary Null, PhD
In the early 1960s, Yale professor Stanley Milgram conducted a serious of famous psychological experiments to measure people’s obedience to authority. A volunteer was instructed by an experimenter to help administer a simple test to a subject in another room. Cards were drawn to determine which of two “volunteers” would play each role, but the cards were rigged such that the actual volunteer was always given the same role each time, and the other role was played by an actor. This gave the volunteers the impression that the role they happened to be assigned was arbitrary.
The test subject (i.e. actor) could be heard but not seen by the volunteer. Whenever a test question was answered incorrectly by the subject-actor, the volunteer was instructed to administer a shock by pressing a button on a control panel. These shocks began at a negligibly low voltage, but with each wrong answer, the shocks were to be increased in 15-volt increments until eventually the final level of 450 volts was reached. The shocks were fake, so no one was physically harmed, but the volunteers didn’t know that the shocks were fake.
As these shocks were administered, the subject in the next room (who again could be heard but not seen by the volunteer), would express discomfort in a manner befitting the severity of the shock, including complaining of a heart condition, screaming louder and louder, and banging on the wall. After a certain voltage was passed, the shock-receiver eventually become completely silent (as if to simulate unconsciousness or death). Even after this point, the volunteer was instructed to continue administering shocks.
Milgram’s experiment was intended to test how far the average person would go. At what point would they refuse to give out any more shocks, despite being told by the experimenter to continue?
If you haven’t already heard of this experiment, what would your prediction be? What percentage of people would go all the way to the end?
Before the first experiment was run, senior psychology students polled by Milgram collectively predicted that only 1.2% of the test volunteers would go all the way to 450 volts. They expected that about 99% of people would stop before that point, figuring that most people are not so sadistic. Similar polling of professional psychiatrists yielded a prediction that about 0.1% would go all the way to 450 volts, meaning that 99.9% would stop before that point.
What was the actual result?
In reality, 65% of volunteers made it all the way to the end of the experiment, which required pushing the 450-volt button not just once but three times in a row.
This experiment has been repeated numerous times with highly consistent results, even when the experiment was updated to conform to today’s stricter experimental ethics guidelines. Compliance rates are generally in the 61-66% range, meaning that most people go all the way to administering the full 450 volts.
Milgram himself reported 19 variations on this experiment that he conducted. By tweaking different factors, such as whether a fellow volunteer participant (played by an actor) voiced strong objections and quit, or obeyed until the end, Milgram found that the compliance rate could be tweaked up or down. In one variation he was able to achieve a compliance rate of 92.5%, while in another he was able to get it down to 10%. The effect of peer pressure had a strong influence on the results.
Incidentally, the compliance rate was the same for men and women alike, so the female volunteers were no more or less obedient than the male ones.
Instead of being blindly obedient or downright sadistic, the volunteer would usually object to going further at some point, often around 135 volts. In response to each verbal objection voiced by the volunteer, the experimenter would instruct the volunteer to continue with the following statements:
- Please continue.
- The experiment requires that you continue.
- It is absolutely essential that you continue.
- You have no other choice. You must go on.
If the volunteer objected a fifth time, then the experiment was halted. And of course the experiment would end if the volunteer objected more strongly at any point such as by getting up and walking out of the room. So the experimenter would eventually take no for an answer — but not right away.
There were also a few custom responses that the experimenter would give as replies to specific types of objections. For instance, if the objection was about doing irreparable harm to the subject, the experimenter would assure the volunteer that although the shocks were strong, no permanent tissue damage would occur.
As payment for participating in the experiment, which took about an hour, each volunteer received $4.
How Nazi Are You?
Milgram’s experiments were partly conceived in response to the trials of Nazi war criminals after WWII. Did the Nazis have to recruit unusually sadistic people to implement their plans? Did they have to use fear and force to get people to obey? Or is it actually much easier to get people to obey a perceived authority, even when it runs contrary to the person’s conscience?
I recently returned from a 30-day trip to Europe, during which I visited Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. This was an interesting progression as it relates to WWII since I went from the the aggressor (Germany) to an occupied country (Netherlands) to one of the victors (UK). I visited WWII-related museums and sights in each country and talked to locals about their perceptions of this phase of European history.
It was a compelling experience to visit some of the actual WWII-related locations I’d previously only read about in school or had seen in movies. I visited an old WWII bunker. I walked through the Secret Annex where Anne Frank hid from the Nazis. I explored the underground war rooms used by Winston Churchill and his staff. I caught trains at some of the stations that were once used to transport Jewish people to concentration camps.
Other than Pearl Harbor (which I visited when I was a teenager) and various constructed memorials, the USA is largely devoid of significant WWII sights. I can’t just stroll around Las Vegas and point to places where bombings or battles occurred. But when walking around certain European cities, such locations are hard to miss.
In many American WWII films, the Nazis are depicted as a society of evil, inhuman sadists. A great example of this portrayal can be seen in the role of Amon Göth (played by Ralph Fiennes) in the movie Schindler’s List. The real Amon Göth, who was the commandant of a concentration camp, would do things like make the Jews pay for their own executions, taxing them to compensate the Germans for the bullets used to kill them. After the war he was tried as a war criminal, found guilty, and executed by hanging at age 37. Apparently it took three tries to hang him before the execution was successful, due to a miscalculation of the rope length. As an SS Captain in charge of a concentration camp, Göth had plenty of people under his command to carry out his orders. So why did people obey him? More importantly, how many factors (like the threat of punishment) can we strip away and still see people obeying orders from someone like Göth?
Stanley Migram set out to discover some deeper truths. What would it take for a typical person to override his/her conscience and obey commands to hurt or kill others? As it turns out, for most people it doesn’t take much at all. If someone assumes an air of authority and tells people what to do, there will be plenty of people willing to obey, even if the commands contradict a person’s sense of ethics and morality.
According to Milgram,
“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.”
A key to the Milgram experiments is that a person is gradually eased into overriding their conscience. They aren’t instructed to give the 450-volt shock right away. Instead they begin with a voltage that isn’t even noticed. They progress from there in small increments.
The Nazis used a similar strategy. They didn’t immediately begin shipping Jews to gas chambers. They changed the climate and the culture slowly, such as by producing lots of propaganda, progressively restricting Jews’ rights, increasing Jews’ taxes, isolating the Jewish community in ghettos, and then moving them into camps. They started small and tuned the dial several notches each year. And people went along with each incremental step, which was a little stronger than the previous step.
It’s been interesting to observe some social changes that are happening today, which strike me as part of a gradual progression. For example, Microsoft recently announced the XBox One device, which comes with a Kinect camera system. This device actually watches you while you use it. It can closely monitor your eye movements, allowing it to determine exactly which part of the screen you’re looking at. It can register small shifts in your body movement. Supposedly it can even detect an increase in your heart rate, which tells it which part of a commercial may be affecting you emotionally.
Years ago a device like this would have seemed unconscionable and incredibly creepy. Some people will undoubtedly perceive it as such today, but as part of a progression towards greater personal surveillance and less privacy, this can also be viewed as just another incremental step. It’s only an entertainment system, right? But it also helps you get used to putting a surveillance device in your home, one that watches you, collects data about you, and rewards you in accordance with behavioral conditioning practices (such as by giving you points for watching commercials). If you object to some aspects of this, you may choose to disable those aspects initially, but of course not everyone will. Society will have time to get used to each progressive step, just like Milgram’s volunteers.
You may object verbally of course, but your verbal objections won’t be an issue if you still tolerate the outcome in the long run. As Milgram discovered, just about everyone objects at some point, but most of them still obey.
Another example is Google Glass, which is slated to be released next year. This device has already been banned by many businesses, including Las Vegas casinos, largely because it can function as an unwelcome surveillance device. Google claims that the privacy concerns regarding Glass are overblown. Cell phone cameras are already ubiquitous, and this is just one incremental step beyond that.
And of course if various authorities tell us these next steps are okay, nothing to worry about, then it shouldn’t be a big deal, right?
I’m not saying that this is a terrible thing per se. But I do think these are interesting examples of how progressive acquiescence can be used to change behavior, one incremental step at a time. When people object, it doesn’t necessarily kill the progression. It just means that people may need more time to get used to the current step before moving on to the next one. Verbal objections may slow the progression, but they aren’t sufficient to stop it.
If Milgram could get people to issue painful/lethal electric shocks by having an authority figure tell them to do so, you might imagine that it’s even easier to get people to take less extreme (but still questionable) actions, such as working long hours for low pay doing meaningless busywork.
Even though many people would naturally object to throwing so much time at empty and unfulfilling work, they’ll still go ahead and do it if someone tells them to. Most people with jobs don’t like the work they do, but they still show up, even if the incentives aren’t very compelling.
What if you want to quit, but your boss, your parents, or some other perceived authority figure objects? Will you surrender and go back to work if they say something like this:
- Please don’t quit.
- We need you to keep working.
- Many people are out of work. You should be glad that you have a job at all.
- You have no choice. You have to go to work.
Getting people to do meaningless work is actually pretty easy. Most of the time, you can just have an authority figure like a boss command them to do it, and they will.
Is this a trap you’ve fallen into?
Another place where people succumb to overrule-by-authority is their relationship life.
What if you want to split up, but your partner objects? Now what if your family objects? Or you partner’s family? Or your mutual friends? Or what if you sense that society at large objects to your desire to split up? What if you’re married? Do you have the inner resources to make this decision for yourself without being overruled by someone else?
What’s especially interesting about Milgram’s experiments is that just about every volunteer resisted in some way. They verbally questioned the experiment. They sweated, squirmed, groaned, or dug their nails into their skin. Some said they didn’t want the $4 payment. A few even had seizures. The experiment produced obvious signs of stress and discomfort in the volunteers. Yet the majority of them still obeyed all the way to the end.
We see these results all the time when people stay stuck in unfulfilling jobs or relationships. They show obvious signs of distress. Some complain. Some have nervous breakdowns. Some read self-help material incessantly, looking for a way out. Yet the majority still stay in those situations, lacking the inner strength to leave.
Do you allow anyone in your life to wield authority over your relationship decisions? Do you need anyone’s approval or fear their disapproval?
Students and Authority
Many students get suckered into high-stress situations at exam time. They’re told by authoritative professors and administrators that they must be tested and that exams are necessary. But the apparent necessity of exams is a manufactured illusion of academic life. Outside of such domains, the academic examination process is largely irrelevant. No one outside of school cares what exams you have or why you think you need them. In fact, many people consider the academic testing process ludicrous and dysfunctional.
During my first run at college, I disliked exams, so I declined to show up for many of them. A predictable consequence was that I failed many classes and was soon expelled. But I learned that the decision to take or not take any exam was mine to make. No one ever forced me to take a test — my permission was always required. I could see that behavioral conditioning techniques were being used to compel me to behave a certain way, such as rewards or punishments. Once I saw through this silly game, I became free to choose for myself whether to play the role of academic student, knowing that it was entirely my choice and that it was impossible for anyone to force me to be tested if I didn’t want to be tested. This turned out to be a powerful mental shift. When I returned to college later, I found it easy to ace my exams without undue stress and generally without needing to devote extra time to studying. I understood that submitting myself to testing was always my choice and never something I had to do. I could only be tested if I chose to be tested.
As a reward for taking and passing certain exams, you may receive a slip of paper that says you know something, but you’ve probably forgotten most of that material a week after the exams anyway. The purpose of the exam was to temporarily convince someone else that you know what they want you to know. What that slip of paper really says is that you’re obedient to authority and that you’ll do the assignments and take the tests that are given to you, and that in itself is something that many employers value. But if you don’t care to submit to another authority, then that slip of paper is of minimal utility. I have one in a box in my garage from my university days, and no one has ever asked to see it. In retrospect, I regard the effort required to earn it to be largely a waste of time, even though I did it faster than most people. (Incidentally, if you still want that slip of paper and you’d like to graduate faster than normal, read “10 Tips for College Students”.)
If you’re currently a student, recognize that no one has authority over you. You don’t actually have to show up to class, take exams, and do busywork. Participating is your choice, and no one can force to you play the role of academic student without your permission. The best they can do is apply behavioral conditioning techniques to try to get you to submit to their authority, but if you see through their silly games of rewards and punishments, those techniques lose a lot of their power. You may still choose to play the academic game for your own reasons, which is perfectly fine. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that any part of it is being forced upon you. The whole thing is your choice.
Now that you know about this tendency of human beings to obey authority even when strong objections may be present, how shall you deal with this?
The first step is to become aware of any areas in your life where you may already be succumbing to the pressure of authority and allowing it to override your own morals, ethics, values, or desires.
If you value your time, then where are you feeling pressured to waste time or to invest in activities or responsibilities that aren’t actually important to you? For example, how much time did you invest in social media or web surfing this week? Was that a conscious decision on your part, or did you behave that way because someone or something else was conditioning your behavior with the promise of updates, information, or the illusion of pseudo-connection?
If you value freedom, where have you been encouraged to give up some of that freedom in ways that feel uncomfortable to you? What do you feel compelled or obligated to do this week? What are your have-tos? Are those genuine needs you’ve decided to fulfill, or were you progressively lured into a trap by giving your power away unnecessarily? For instance, did you choose to take on as much debt as you have now, or were you subtly enticed to go there, one easy step at a time?
What areas of your life are causing you signs of distress? Where are you sweating, squirming, complaining, or biting your nails? What parts of your life are causing you the equivalent of mild seizures?
Notice where some part of you is objecting to the state of your reality. Is this an area where you’re still obeying some kind of authority, even if you’re not happy with the results?
As you become aware of your tendency to submit to authority, even if it’s hard to stomach all the areas where you’ve been doing so, this will increase your alignment with truth. At first these realizations might sting a little. But please don’t allow yourself to sink back down to a place of denial and ignorance. Do your best to maintain this level of awareness, even if you don’t feel ready to act on it yet.
A run of one of Milgram’s experiments with a single volunteer took about an hour. That didn’t give people much time to think about their decisions — they were caught in a high-pressure situation. In real-life situations, however, you’re more likely to have some time to pause and reflect on your decisions. This is especially true when it comes to career and relationship decisions. Use this reflection time to your best advantage, and learn to trust yourself in those quiet spaces where the influence of a perceived external authority figure is minimal. For instance, pay attention to how you feel about your job when you’re not at work, and notice how you feel about your relationship when your partner is away — in these moments you’ll have access to a more accurate assessment of your feelings.
Peer pressure certainly played a role in some of the Milgram experiments, either increasing or decreasing the compliance rate. The nice thing about peer pressure is that you can consciously create your own peer pressure to align with your desires.
When it’s possible to do so, seek out the support of others. When your inner voice is being squashed by the seemingly louder voice of some perceived authority, reach out to connect with others who’ve been in similar situations and have already moved beyond them. Especially target people who already have the results you desire, such as a fulfilling career, a happy relationship, or a stress-free academic life, and seek their counsel. Ask such people what they would do in your situation and why. See if their answers resonate with you.
You’ll often find when you talk to such people that they’ll have very different attitudes towards the same authorities that tend to overpower you. I experience this all the time from the opposite side when people share their current challenges with me. They constantly fall into the trap of giving away their power to some perceived outside authority. They often don’t even realize that they can choose to disobey, and that once they get past their resistance to doing so, everything will work out just fine. Disobeying may seem very difficult before you do it, but afterwards you’ll look back and kick yourself for making such a big deal out of it. In many cases it’s as simple as saying no and meaning it.
The student can’t change his/her major because Mom and Dad would be disappointed. The unhealthy relationship can’t end because the needy partner would be hurt. The crappy job can’t be quit because the bank wants to keep receiving the monthly loan payments.
You’re the authority in your life. Not your parents. Not your partner. Not your bank.
You can expect that other people will apply behavioral conditioning techniques to get you to comply with their wishes. Parents do it. Partners do it. Bosses do it. Banks do it. But in the end they’re all powerless to force you to do anything. The only way you obey is that you mistakenly believe that you have to obey. They tell you to obey, and you obey. But like the ornery volunteers in Milgram’s experiments who refused to go all the way to 450 volts, you always remain free to stop administering shocks at any time — especially to yourself.
The good news is that you’re not alone. Other people will be delighted to support you on this path, if you choose to invite their support. But they won’t be the same people who’ve benefitted from your obedience in the past, so don’t go looking for support from the authorities who are still giving you orders. If you go complaining to Amon Göth, you’ll get a bullet in the head for your troubles.
Don’t feel you must make a dramatic shift overnight. You may find it more realistic to make gradual, step-by-step progress.
In the Milgram experiments, even the subjects who objected and quit didn’t generally do so immediately. Their resistance increased gradually as the experiment progressed. As the voice of their conscience grew louder, their willingness to blindly obey authority gradually diminished.
During the 5-year Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, the Dutch didn’t immediately jump to maximum resistance. At first they tried to accept the occupation and adapt to it, but as the Nazis grew more oppressive, the Dutch pushed back with greater levels of resistance, including helping people go into hiding, printing underground newspapers, espionage, sabotage, and armed resistance.
Members of the Dutch resistance also sought to collaborate and coordinate their efforts, working together to support each other. Individually they were weaker, but collectively they could support each other in resisting the occupation on the long journey towards Liberation Day.
Demolishing Unauthorized Authority
Ultimately the task before you is to dismantle the external forms of authority in your life that you’re no longer willing to accept.
One memorable act of rebellion from my own life was when I was 17 years old and realized that I didn’t actually believe in the religious gobbledegook that had been fed to me throughout my childhood. For the first few months, I held this awareness only to myself, not having anyone in my life that I could safely confide in.
When I eventually shared my honest beliefs openly, the reaction from others was predictably negative. Initially this was a stressful time for me. What kept me going was the feeling of certainty that I was in the right, which was largely something created from within.
I experienced a powerful shift when I stopped giving my power away to the old perceived authority figures in my life. I stopped believing that they were smarter or wiser than I was. I finally allowed myself to believe that they could be wrong, mistaken, or deluded. By seeing them as fallible, I no longer held them up as worthy authorities over me.
In other words, I de-authorized those previous authorities. I rescinded permission for them to wield authority over me. Once I experienced that shift in my thinking, I then had the power to think and choose for myself, and no amount of behavioral conditioning tactics (i.e. rewards or punishments) would cause me to yield. As people recognized this shift in me and realized that they no longer had my permission to wield such authority over my thinking and behaviors, they soon gave up on trying to control me. Really I gave them no choice.
The power of Milgram’s experiment lies in the volunteers’ belief in the authority of the experimenter. By giving this person permission to wield authority over their decisions, they gave their power away and became capable of denying responsibility for the pain they may have caused. This allowed them to justify their participation as that of a cog in a machine.
One way to opt out of such an experiment before reaching the end is to place anyone who tries to claim authority over you on a lower rung than yourself on your mental ladder of authority. Don’t assume the experimenter is smarter or wiser than you. Realize that they may be mistaken, wrong, or unethical in their dealings and that you may be right. Stop doubting what your own mind is telling you.
Who or what have you authorized to be a greater authority than yourself in your life? If someone in a position of authority tells you that something is okay, but inside you feel creeped out by their actions, do you go along with them, or do you listen to yourself and say no? What if most of your friends and family go along for the ride? Will you succumb to that kind of peer pressure, even if you feel something isn’t right?
Note that the word authority includes the word author. To wield authority over your life is to become the author of your life. You can’t consciously author much of your life if you give someone or something else authority over you.
Objecting to the misapplied use of authority isn’t enough. Just about everyone objects at some point. People object yet still obey. At some point you have to be able to object and disobey, which means to obey your own inner guidance above the demands of any perceived external authority.
Subjectively speaking, there is no external authority. What’s happening internally (within your own mind) is that you’re stressing yourself out. The stress is a result of trying to deny your own power and authority, make yourself weak, and act like a cog in a machine. This is stressful because it contradicts your true nature. The reality is that you’re very powerful and creative, and if you desire to change some aspect of your reality that doesn’t suit you, you can do so. But in order to do so, you must recognize and accept your power. If you don’t like the way the world is right now, you can step up and do something about it. Pretending to be a powerless victim of circumstance doesn’t suit you.
Becoming an Authority
If you de-authorize the phony authorities in your life and become your own authority, you’ll begin to experience the flip side of Milgram’s experiment. Instead of being the hapless follower, you’ll soon find other people following your lead.
This is where the authority game becomes much more interesting. Instead of being a blind follower, you can transform yourself into a conscious leader. By authoring your own life more proactively, you’ll inspire others to follow your example.
I think that’s the secret fear that many people have when it comes to authority. Once you regain your personal authority, it’s an easy progression into the land of greater public responsibility. When you take charge of your life, you’ll attract others who want to follow your lead and do something similar. You won’t even have to try — those people will come to you.
If you know in advance that authoring your own life will result in others wanting to experience a similar story, is this something you can accept? Are you willing to step into the role of leader? Can you welcome that role into your life? Or would you rather keep playing the follower for a while?
You can follow, or you can lead, and there isn’t much of a space in between. If you’re not willing to lead, you’ll end up following by default.
If you’re willing to lead, then how are you going to lead? When people recognize the authority you have over yourself and become attracted to it, how will you deal with that? Will you try to ignore them? Will you accept that kind of responsibility and do your best? Will you abuse it and become a sadist?
One benefit of leadership is that you can learn a great deal more about your own path when you have a chance to see it reflected in those who seek to join you. Just as Milgram’s experimenters could observe when their volunteers were experiencing stress in response to the unethical demands placed upon them, you can also gauge the response to the authorship of your life from public feedback — but without giving your power away to that feedback. Allow the requests of others to serve as input, but make your own decisions from your personal sense of authority, wisdom, and conscience.
Reclaiming Your Power
Incidentally, Stanley Milgram was only 27 years old when he began conducting his famous experiments (he died at age 51), so don’t make the mistake of assuming that he was some wizened old senior professor. In his day he was quite the rabble-rouser, shaking up the status quo by challenging people’s beliefs.
As a result of going against the grain, Milgram had some authority-based pressure used against him as well. He moved from Yale to Harvard, but he was denied tenure at Harvard, probably because of the controversial nature of his experiments. His membership application to the American Psychological Association was also put on ice for a year.
Many of Milgram’s peers challenged the ethics of his experiments because the experiments caused significant stress to the volunteer participants. Yet most of the original participants, when interviewed about it later, were glad to have been part of the study. Some of them even wanted to work with Milgram. They understood the significance of his work, even though helping him with his research was stressful.
If Milgram’s experiments were indeed unethical, then wouldn’t it also be unethical for teachers to use their authority to stress out their students with exams and grades, for companies to control their employees with rewards and punishments, and for parents to demand that their children comply with family traditions and expectations? When is it okay to use stressful psychological tactics to control the behavior of another?
When stress-producing tactics are used on you in order to manipulate you into behaving a certain way, try to recognize these tactics for what they are — an invitation for you to give your power away. Realize that you can always decline this invitation, reclaim authority over your own life, and make your own conscious choices.
Even if most people continue to give their power away, you don’t have to be one of them. You can stop the shocks whenever you want. The shocks were never real to begin with.
Source: Steve Pavlina
A US drone has just taken a photo of Mullah Omar riding on a motorcycle through the streets of Damascus. 1
So what do we have as the United States refuses to rule out an attack on Syria and keeps five warships loaded with missiles in the eastern Mediterranean?
- Only 9 percent of Americans support a US military intervention in Syria. 2
- Only 11% of the British supported a UK military intervention; this increased to 25% after the announcement of the alleged chemical attack. 3
- British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a parliamentary vote August 29 endorsing military action against Syria 285-272
- 64% of the French people oppose an intervention by the French Army. 4 “Before acting we need proof,” said a French government spokesperson. 5
- Former and current high-ranking US military officers question the use of military force as a punitive measure and suggest that the White House lacks a coherent strategy. “If the administration is ambivalent about the wisdom of defeating or crippling the Syrian leader, possibly setting the stage for Damascus to fall to Islamic fundamentalist rebels, they say, the military objective of strikes on Assad’s military targets is at best ambiguous.” 6
- President Obama has no United Nations approval for intervention. (In February a massive bombing attack in Damascus left 100 dead and 250 wounded; in all likelihood the work of Islamic terrorists. The United States blocked a Russian resolution condemning the attack from moving through the UN Security Council)
- None of NATO’s 28 members has proposed an alliance with the United States in an attack against Syria. NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that he saw “no NATO role in an international reaction to the [Syrian] regime.” 7
- The Arab League has not publicly endorsed support of US military action in Syria; nor have key regional players Saudi Arabia and Qatar, concerned about a possible public backlash from open support for US intervention. 8
- We don’t even know for sure that there was a real chemical attack. Where does that accusation come from? The United States? The al-Qaeda rebels? Or if there was such an attack, where is the evidence that the Syrian government was the perpetrator? The Assad regime has accused the rebels of the act, releasing a video showing a cave with alleged chemical-weapon equipment as well as claiming to have captured rebels possessing sarin gas. Whoever dispensed the poison gas – why, in this age of ubiquitous cameras, are there no photos of anyone wearing a gas mask? The UN inspection team was originally dispatched to Syria to investigate allegations of earlier chemical weapons use: two allegations made by the rebels and one by the government.
- The United States insists that Syria refused to allow the UN investigators access to the site of the attack. However, the UN request was made Saturday, August 24; the Syrian government agreed the next day. 9
- In rejecting allegations that Syria deployed poison gas, Russian officials have argued that the rebels had a clear motivation: to spur a Western-led attack on Syrian forces; while Assad had every reason to avoid any action that could spur international intervention at a time when his forces were winning the war and the rebels are increasingly losing world support because of their uncivilized and ultra-cruel behavior.
- President George W. Bush misled the world on Iraq’s WMD, but Bush’s bogus case for war at least had details that could be checked, unlike what the Obama administration released August 29 on Syria’s alleged chemical attacks – no direct quotes, no photographic evidence, no named sources, nothing but “trust us,” points out Robert Parry, intrepid Washington journalist.
So, in light of all of the above, the path for Mr. Obama to take – as a rational, humane being – is of course clear. Is it not? N’est-ce pas? Nicht wahr? – Bombs Away!
Pretty discouraging it is. No, I actually find much to be rather encouraging. So many people seem to have really learned something from the Iraqi pile of lies and horror and from decades of other American interventions. Skepticism – good ol’ healthy skepticism – amongst the American, British and French people. It was stirring to watch the British Parliament in a debate of the kind rarely, if ever, seen in the 21st-century US Congress. And American military officers asking some of the right questions. The Arab League not supporting a US attack, surprising for an organization not enamored of the secular Syrian government. And NATO – even NATO! – refusing so far to blindly fall in line with the White House. When did that last happen? I thought it was against international law.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the United States did not respond to the use of chemical weapons the country would become an international “laughingstock”. Yes, that’s really what America and its people have to worry about – not that their country is viewed as a lawless, mass-murdering repeat offender. Other American officials have expressed concern that a lack of a US response might incite threats from Iran and North Korea. 10
Now that is indeed something to laugh at. It’s comforting to think that the world might be finally losing the stars in their eyes about US foreign policy partly because of countless ridiculous remarks such as these.
United States bombings, which can be just as indiscriminate and cruel as poison gas. (A terrorist is someone who has a bomb but doesn’t have an air force.)
The glorious bombing list of our glorious country, which our glorious schools don’t teach, our glorious media don’t remember, and our glorious leaders glorify.
- Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)
- Guatemala 1954
- Indonesia 1958
- Cuba 1959-1961
- Guatemala 1960
- Congo 1964
- Laos 1964-73
- Vietnam 1961-73
- Cambodia 1969-70
- Guatemala 1967-69
- Grenada 1983
- Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)
- Libya 1986
- El Salvador 1980s
- Nicaragua 1980s
- Iran 1987
- Panama 1989
- Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)
- Kuwait 1991
- Somalia 1993
- Bosnia 1994, 1995
- Sudan 1998
- Afghanistan 1998
- Yugoslavia 1999
- Yemen 2002
- Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular no-fly-zone basis)
- Iraq 2003-2011 (Second Gulf War)
- Afghanistan 2001 to present
- Pakistan 2007 to present
- Somalia 2007-8, 2011 to present
- Yemen 2009, 2011 to present
- Libya 2011
- Syria 2013?
The above list doesn’t include the repeated use by the United States of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and other charming inventions of the Pentagon mad scientists; also not included: chemical and biological weapons abroad, chemical and biological weapons in the United States (sic), and encouraging the use of chemical and biological weapons by other nations; all these lists can be found in William Blum’s book “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”.
A story just released by Foreign Policy magazine, based on newly-discovered classified documents, reports how, in 1988, the last year of the 8-year Iraq-Iran War, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks by Iraq far more devastating than anything Syria has seen. 11 Indeed, during that war the United States was the primary supplier to Iraq of the chemicals and hardware necessary to provide the Saddam Hussein regime with a chemical-warfare capability. 12
Now, apparently, the United States has discovered how horrible chemical warfare is, even if only of the “alleged” variety.
Some of those currently advocating bombing Syria turn for justification to their old faithful friend “humanitarian intervention”, one of the earliest examples of which was the 1999 US and NATO bombing campaign to stop ethnic cleansing and drive Serbian forces from Kosovo. However, a collective amnesia appears to have afflicted countless intelligent, well-meaning people, who are convinced that the US/NATO bombing took place after the mass forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stopthis “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic forced deportations of large numbers of people from Kosovo did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a Serbian reaction to it, born of extreme anger and powerlessness. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, and the few days after. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:
… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would NOW vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation.
On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that sort.
But the propaganda version is already set in marble.
If you see something, say something. Unless it’s US war crimes.
“When you sign a security clearance and swear oaths, you actually have to abide by that. It is not optional.” – Steven Bucci, of the neo-conservative Heritage Foundation, speaking of Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley) 13
Really? No matter what an individual with security clearance is asked to do? No matter what he sees and knows of, he still has to ignore his conscience and follow orders? But Steven, my lad, you must know that following World War II many Germans of course used “following orders” as an excuse. The victorious Allies of course executed many of them.
Their death sentences were laid down by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany, which declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
Nuremberg Principle IV moreover states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
Manning, and Edward Snowden as well, did have moral choices, and they chose them.
It should be noted that Barack Obama has refused to prosecute those under the Bush administration involved in torture specifically – he declares – because they were following orders. Has this “educated” man never heard of the Nuremberg Tribunal? Why isn’t he embarrassed to make this argument again and again?
I imagine that in the past three years that Manning has had to live with solitary confinement, torture and humiliation, adding mightily to her already existing personal difficulties, the thought of suicide has crossed her mind on a number of occasions. It certainly would have with me if I had been in her position. In the coming thousands and thousands of days and long nights of incarceration such thoughts may be Manning’s frequent companion. If the thoughts become desire, and the desire becomes unbearable, I hope the brave young woman can find a way to carry it out. Every person has that right, including heroes.
The United States and its European poodles may have gone too far for their own good in their attempts to control all dissenting communication – demanding total information from companies engaged in encrypted messaging, forcing the closure of several such firms, obliging the plane carrying the Bolivian president to land, smashing the computers at a leading newspaper, holding a whistle-blowing journalist’s partner in custody for nine hours at an airport, seizing the phone records of Associated Press journalists, threatening to send a New York Times reporter to jail if he doesn’t disclose the source of a leak, shameless lying at high levels, bugging the European Union and the United Nations, surveillance without known limits … Where will it end? Will it backfire at some point and allow America to return to its normal level of police state? On July 24, a bill that would have curtailed the power of the NSA was only narrowly defeated by 217 to 205 votes in the US House of Representatives.
And how long will Amnesty International continue to tarnish its image by refusing to state the obvious? That Cheleas Manning is a Prisoner of Conscience. If you go to Amnesty’s website and search “prisoner of conscience” you’ll find many names given, including several Cubans prominently featured. Can there be any connection to Manning’s omission with the fact that the executive director of Amnesty International USA, Suzanne Nossel, came to her position from the US Department of State, where she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations?
A phone call to Amnesty’s office in New York was unable to provide me with any explanation for Manning’s omission. I suggest that those of you living in the UK try the AI headquarters in London.
Meanwhile, at the other pre-eminent international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, Tom Malinowski, the director of HRW’s Washington office, has been nominated by Obama to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Is it really expecting too much that a high official of a human rights organization should not go to work for a government that has been the world’s leading violator of human rights for more than half a century? And if that designation is too much for you to swallow just consider torture, the worst example of mankind’s inhumanity to man. What government has been intimately involved with that horror more than the United States? Teaching it, supplying the manuals, supplying the equipment, creation of torture centers in much of the world, kidnaping people to these places (“rendition”), solitary confinement, forced feeding, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Chicago … Lord forgive us!
One of the reactions of the United States to Russia granting asylum to Edward Snowden was reported thus: “There was a blistering response on Capitol Hill and calls for retaliatory measures certain to infuriate the Kremlin. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), long one of the Senate’s leading critics of Moscow, blasted the asylum decision as ‘a slap in the face of all Americans’ and called on the administration to turn up the pressure on Moscow on a variety of fronts, including a renewed push for NATO expansion and new missile-defense programs in Europe.” 14
But we’ve long been told that NATO expansion and its missiles in Europe have nothing to do with Russia. And Russia has been told the same, much to Moscow’s continuous skepticism. “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO in 2001, “this is a military organization. It’s moving towards our border. Why?” 15 He subsequently described NATO as “the stinking corpse of the cold war.” 16
We’ve been told repeatedly by the US government that the missiles are for protection against an Iranian attack. Is it (choke) possible that the Bush and Obama administrations have been (gasp) lying to us?
America’s love affair with Guns
Adam Kokesh is a veteran of the war in Iraq who lives in the Washington, DC area. He’s one of the countless Americans who’s big on guns, guns that will be needed to protect Americans from their oppressive government, guns that will be needed for “the revolution”.
On July 4 the 31-year-old Kokesh had a video made of himself holding a shotgun and loading shells into it while speaking into the camera as he stood in Freedom Plaza, a federal plot of land in between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. This led to a police raid of his home and his being arrested on the 25th for carrying a firearm outside his home or office. The 23-second video can be seen on YouTube. 17
I sent Kokesh the following email:
“Adam: All your weapons apparently didn’t help you at all when the police raided your house. But supposedly, people like you advocate an armed populace to protect the public from an oppressive government. I’ve never thought that that made much sense because of the huge imbalance between the military power of the public vs. that of the government. And it seems that I was correct.”
I received no reply, although his still being in jail may explain that.
Kokesh, incidentally, had a program on RT (Russia Today) for a short while last year.
- The three preceding jokes are courtesy of my friend Viktor Dedaj of Paris ↩
- Reuters/Ipsos poll, August 26, 2013 ↩
- Sunday Times (UK), YouGov poll, August 25 ↩
- Le Parisien, August 30, 2012 ↩
- Christian Science Monitor, August 29, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, August 29, 2013 ↩
- The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, August 31, 2013 ↩
- UN Web TV, August 27, 2013 (starting at minute 12:00) ↩
- The Washington Post, August 31, 2013 ↩
- Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid, “CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran”, Foreign Policy, August 26, 2013 ↩
- William Blum, “Anthrax for Export”, The Progressive (Madison, Wisconsin), April 1998 ↩
- Washington Post, August 22, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, July 31, 2013 ↩
- Associated Press, June 16, 2001 ↩
- Time magazine, December 2007 ↩
- Washington Post, August 13, 2013 ↩
When is a bank an appendage of state? In China, the incorporation of commercial banking under the auspice of governmental policy is virtually indistinguishable. Philosophically, any government should have control of their currency and structure the precepts of banking and lending system. Capitalist banking would command a greater pragmatic function if competition among banks was based upon free enterprise. However, under the central banking scheme governments regulate banks, but are creatures of fractional reserve debt money issued by central bank parentage. The Chinese way has included a touch of mystery when analyzed within the context of western international banking.
How did a communist economic model transform into a partner of the globalist banksters cabal? Setting the political questions aside, the business of building an economy requires the acquisition of money on a scale that most societies are unable to access. The difference in the Great Wall nation became the favorite police state pattern for the corporatists to move their manufacturing facilities that grew a trading surplus, which accrued huge sums. China alone has amassed official reserves of US$3.2 trillion.
Translate this occurrence into a banking advantage would have you believe that Forbes’ reporting is correct. Written earlier this year, Red Banks Rising: Will China Become The World’s Banker?, has a Sino banking buy spree in full motion.
“In February China’s central bank issued a three-step plan that would tear down the barriers surrounding China’s big banks. Hopes quickly emerged that China’s banks could become international players much like China’s industrial companies, providing capital to a global economy that could use it. “Chinese banks are well positioned to follow Chinese companies abroad and provide financing; the question is whether they will also provide services to foreign companies,” says Ben Simpfendorfer, a Hong Kong-based consultant. “China would benefit from exporting its cash, and the rest of the world would benefit, especially foreign buyers of Chinese goods.”
For the most part the only Chinese financial firms putting serious money to work internationally are driven by Beijing’s politics. China Development Bank, a policy institution, has done some big deals in Africa and lent $10 billion to Petroleo Brasileiro, Brazil’s state-run oil company. There have been signs, however, that China’s big commercial banks are preparing to go global, too. ICBC has been opening and buying branches from New York to the Netherlands and last year paid $600 million for assets of Standard Bank in Argentina. It is now hiring scores of bankers in Brazil. “The Chinese banks will play a larger role internationally than they have in the past,” says John Weinshank, the corporate finance chief at China Construction Bank’s New York branch, which built a $2 billion loan book in two years. “That’s the plan. I can assure you we will be expanding in the Americas over the next two years.”
A second establishment flagship publisher, The Economist presents a viewpoint that a Giant reality-check, is on the horizon, Four of the world’s biggest lenders must face some nasty truths.
“CHINA’S banks are not real banks,” says Andrew Rothman of CLSA, a broker recently acquired by China’s CITIC Securities. The country’s biggest financial institutions are so closely held by the state that they are, in effect, arms of the treasury. Cosseted by rules that protect them from competition, they deliver huge profits in good times: bank profits as a share of China’s economic output equalled nearly 3% last year, whereas the highest ratio achieved in recent decades by American banks was only 1% of GDP (in 2006). In bad times the state is there to clean up, just as it did during a surge in dud loans in 1990s.
But the bargain that has driven China’s “Big Four” banks to the top of the global league tables is breaking down. Profitable though they are now, another wave of non-performing loans will soon hit them. As the Chinese economy rebalances, the state is less willing than it was in the past to pour credit into state-owned enterprises (SOEs) at the expense of households and private firms. Mr Rothman’s epithet will not hold forever. China’s big banks are slowly becoming real institutions.”
While the Chinese banks are adapting to international commerce circumstances, the fact that Chinese yuan does not have a reserve currency function has allowed the state-controlled regime to enjoy foreign exchange benefits that other countries resent. The day is coming, when fundamental rescaling of the world banking system, will alter the way that Chinese banks operate. The accounting firm of Ernest and Young presents the following view in a report, Challenges for central banks: wider powers, greater restraints.
“Emerging countries’ greater importance to the world economy has generated criticism of Western monetary policy and led to calls for some kind of international monetary reform. One of the strongest proponents of such reform is China. On the one hand, the capital restrictions and the state-controlled finance system enabled the Chinese authorities to partly shield the country from the worst effects of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 and to engineer a remarkable, if inflationary, stimulus. On the other hand, these same factors mean that China, in the words of Jin Liqun, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of China’s sovereign fund, China Investment Corporation, is the only one of the six biggest world economies that does not have its own international currency.”
Having it their way, while everyone else is shackled to floating currency convertibility, means that China’s state protecting racket will break down if a reserve currency role is eventually implemented. Since at this stage it is impossible to separate state control from business risk lending, the future of the top ten Chinese Banks are dependent upon the way the financial community navigates within the treacherous waters of the China Sea.
If the prototype of Chinese banking, with a reciprocal relation under the wing of state direction forecasts international banking, just what will the banksters do with the loss of their preeminence. If the past is a reliable gauge, bidding against the moneychangers is a tall order.
Caving To White House Pressure…
Beirut — It was reportedly a hectic and intense past weekend in Washington and London according to an emailed report from a Capitol Hill source, as the Obama and Cameron administrations tracked down and button-holed the leaders of the 28 European Union delegations gathering in Brussels to finally vote on whether Hezbollah’s ‘military wing’ should be sanctioned, by labeling it a “terrorist” organization. Several conversations took peace between Israel’s Tzipi Livni and the US State Department.
As of last Thursday (7/18/13) the project was by no means a done deal and only 17 EU members could be counted on “to do the right thing “as this observers contact explained. So 11 votes had to me nailed down fast and less than an hour before the EU vote, the last two EU hold-outs reluctantly went along.
When asked why, given all that was happening these days this region, the oft-delayed EU vote on Hezbollah could simply not just be put off again, this observer was advised it had to do with another European Union action and the tremors that it caused for the Zionist lobby, and their demands to the US State Department and the White House that something be done. Furthermore that the timing of the EU decision was a combination of pressure by the U.S. and Israel to compensate for recent decision by the EU to boycott products made in West Bank settlements. It was apparently influenced by Hezbollah’s involvement n Syria.
Ms. Livni called John Kerry ever since the first EU votes and advised in no uncertain terms that Israeli leaders were enraged when the European Union issued its official guidelines on the funding of Israeli projects beyond the Green Line which will substantial block ability of Israeli settlements and other entities operating in the West Bank to receive grants and from EU member states. Israel, claimed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni wanted adequate compensation from the EU and she reportedly warned Secretary of State John Kerry that talks with the Palestinians might otherwise be affected. The bus bombing in Bulgaria had little to do with the timing. The timing of the EU vote was fixed by White House pressure.
Ms. Livni demanded three things from Kerry as the ‘price tag’ of the Israeli government going thru the motions of appearing to be willing to resume negotiations and to state publicly that Israel will consider some sort of slow-down or temporary ‘time-out’ for the frenzied construction project on the West Bank.
She got two of the three.
One of Livni’s demands was the EU doing what it did and targeting with the ‘terrorist’ label Hezbollah’s military wing.
The second non-negotiable demand was that the White House appoint as Kerry’s Chief Negotiator at any Israel-Palestinian peace negotiation the Israeli born arch- Zionist Martin Indyk. Kerrey, not happy and under Israeli lobby pressure, agreed and will name Indyk shortly Congressional sources reveal.
Mr. Indyk began his Washington career as an AIPAC staffer, served as executive director of an AIPAC think tank offshoot, the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, and then served two terms as the first foreign-born U.S. Ambassador to Israel where, according to Jeffrey Feltman, his longtime aid, “Martin taught me all I need to know about the Middle East, and that is about preserving Israel.”
Indyk immigrated to the United States from Australia and later gained American citizenship in 1993. He wrote in the book Innocent Abroad, that: “I was first drawn to the Middle East through my Jewish identity and connection to Israel.” Indyk now works at Brookings for a man he calls his “godfather,” Haim Saban. Saban has said that his “greatest concern… is to protect Israel.”
According to Phillip Weiss writing in Mondoweiss.net: “Indyk was described in 1992 by a former AIPAC president as AIPAC’s political asset in the Clinton campaign. After the spectacular failure of Camp David negotiations that he helped conduct in 2000, Indyk was characterized by former Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Dahlan as having a pro-Israel bias and “advanced negative attitudes toward Palestinians.”
Professor James Wall, reports that former Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said that Indyk was “partial, biased, pro-Israel” and defended Israeli settlements more than Israelis do.
Ms. Livni’s third demand from the Obama administration was a reiteration of her earlier demand shared by some EU countries, including the United Kingdom and The Netherlands. It was a project for a more firm approach that includes blacklisting the entire Lebanese political organization. This way, all the accounts and assets of Hezbollah-affiliated organizations, businesses, and charities could have been frozen all over Europe. As some analysts have pointed out, Mosques in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and other EU countries that raise funds for the Hezbollah-operated charities, hospitals, and schools in Lebanon would have also been closed. She failed in this goal with the White House after a reportedly heated argument.
Kerry told Ms. Livni that there was no way the EU would agree so she should be content with what the EU had voted. He pleased for calm because he had worked hard to line up all 28 votes.
Following the EU vote, at a news conference, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni appeared to claim the full credit as she praised the EU decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s armed wing, which she said made clear that the party is a “terrorist organization”. “Finally, after years of deliberations, it is clear to the entire world that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization”, she said in a statement.
Not quite the case, but she did call to thank John Kerry.
According to Eli Bardenstein, writing in the 7/23/13 edition of the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, Livni’s role only added to a diplomatic blitz over the past year headed by Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs, Jeremy Issacharoll and the Counterterrorism Department headed by Shai Cohen. They organized a team that had been intensely lobbying European countries to promote branding all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
When asked for the main reasons the EU caved to White House pressure, a congressional contact who works with the Office of White House liaison succinctly replied: “Getting Israel of their backs for the EU boycott of the West Bank settlements, Assads apparent victory in Syria aided big-time by Hezbollah, and Obama wanting some progress with Kerry’s ‘peace talks’ project. He added, “Plus it was a politically inexpensive feel good affair that won’t have any real impact except for a PR gain for Livni who will use it in her campaign to replace Netanyahu.”
Dr. Ibrahim Mousawi, who directs Hezbollah’s Media Office, got it right when he explained that Hezbollah firmly rejected the decision and accused the EU of bowing to pressure from the United States and Israel.
In Lebanon and Syria, the EU’s move to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist group appears to have been shrugged off and viewed as part of the ongoing US-Israeli-backed conspiracy that it sees behind much of what is happening in the region. In this observers Hezbollah neighborhood last night there were some spontaneous celebrations of Ramadan seeming mixed with support for Resistance to the EU decision which is viewed here with disdain.
In practical terms, the EU decision constitutes a mere political slap on the wrist. Hezbollah is not known to have substantial identifiable assets in EU countries, and it does not rely on donations from supporters there. Also, according to the source, Washington does not believe that Hezbollah’s military wing has many assets in Europe and nor does it reply on funding from these countries. The EU was briefed by the State Department on this analysis and went along. For these and other reasons, the EU will maintain its contacts with Hezbollah on a variety of issues, including the activities of UNIFIL, the peacekeeping force on the border with Israel, and on joint projects between the EU and Lebanon.
But it may turn out to be a bit expensive after all for those voting to target Syria’s friends this week, according to one Damascus pro-government source who insists Syria will have a photographic memory when perhaps as early as next year, the half a trillion dollar reconstruction of war-devastated Syria begins.
She asked rhetorically, “Guess which 28 countries will be among those jostling for big contracts worth billions? Can you imagine we will be in much of a mood to forgive and forget their roles in this crisis? Call it pay-back or a price-tag, the EU may want to prepare their explanations for this vote.”
Lo and behold, a few short hours later, as if the NSA had given the Head of the EU delegation, Angelina Eichhorst, a quick transcript of our perhaps bugged conversation, the lady wasted no time coming to Beirut to assure Hezbollah and other political groups and personalities, that everything was fine as she played down the EU decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing. She promised that it would not affect the cooperation with the new Lebanese government even if the Shiite party dominated it. “The EU backs the efforts exerted by Premier-designate Tammam Salam to form a new cabinet and cooperates with the caretaker government which is dominated by Hezbollah”, she said. “The EU will happily work with any cabinet that Hezbollah is a part of!” She stressed and stressed again– perhaps a dozen times during her brief visit.
As this is a sort of a family publication, this observer could not possibly even conceive of offering the dear reader the verbatim two-word response to Ms. Angelina and the EU from one my neighbors.
Children of God for Life is calling on the public to boycott products of major food companies that are partnering with Senomyx, a biotech company that produces artificial flavor enhancers, unless the company stops using aborted fetal cell lines to test their products.
In 2010, the pro-life organization wrote to Senomyx CEO Kent Snyder, pointing out that moral options for testing their food additives could and should be used.
But when Senomyx ignored their letter, they wrote to the companies Senomyx listed on their website as “collaborators” warning them of public backlash and threatened boycott. Food giants Pepsico, Kraft Foods, Campbell Soup, Solae and Nestlé are the primary targets of the boycott, though Senomyx boasts other international partners on their website.
Senomyx website states that “The company’s key flavor programs focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products.…Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.”
Senomyx notes their collaborators provide them research and development funding plus royalties on sales of products using their flavor ingredients.
“What they do not tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 – human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors”, stated Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director for Children of God for Life, a pro-life watch dog group that has been monitoring the use of aborted fetal material in medical products and cosmetics for years.
“They could have easily chosen COS (monkey) cells, Chinese Hamster Ovary cells, insect cells or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors”, Vinnedge added.
In writing to their collaborators, it took three letters before Nestlé finally admitted the truth about their relationship with Senomyx, noting the cell line was “well established in scientific research”.
After hearing Ms Vinnedge speak publicly on the problem, angry consumers began writing the companies. Both Pepsico and Campbell Soup immediately responded.
Shockingly, Pepsico wrote: “We hope you are reassured to learn that our collaboration with Senomyx is strictly limited to creating lower-calorie, great-tasting beverages for consumers. This will help us achieve our commitment to reduce added sugar per serving by 25% in key brands in key markets over the next decade and ultimately help people live healthier lives.”
Campbell Soup was more concerned in their response: “Every effort is made to use the finest ingredients and develop the greatest selection of products, all at a great value. With this in mind, it must be said that the trust we have cultivated and developed over the years with our consumers is not worth compromising to cut costs or increase profit margins.”
While Campbell did not state they would change their methods, still their response, gave Vinnedge hope.
“If enough people voice their outrage and intent to boycott these consumer products, it can be highly effective in convincing Senomyx to change their methods”, she noted.
Need proof of Senomyx use of aborted fetal cell lines?
Following is the link to the on-line article for their patent on sweet receptors (they filed several separate patents for each of the different taste receptors): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC123709/
As it is lengthy and technical, we recommend you simply do a search in the document for HEK-293.
HEK CELL (Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cells), also often referred to as HEK 293, 293 cells, or less precisely as HEK cells are a specific cell line originally derived from human embryonic kidney cells grown in tissue culture. HEK 293 cells are very easy to grow and transfect very readily and have been widely-used in cell biology research for many years. They are also used by the biotechnology industry to produce therapeutic proteins and viruses for gene therapy.
Below is a list of products that contain HEK cells.
HEK cell Products; http://www.cogforlife.org/fetalproductsall.pdf
Pepsi Beverages on the Boycott
• All Pepsi soft drinks
• Sierra Mist soft drinks
• Mountain Dew soft drinks
• Mug root beer and other soft drinks
• No Fear beverages
• Ocean Spray beverages
• Seattle’s Best Coffee
• Tazo beverages
• AMP Energy beverages
• Aquafina water
• Aquafina flavored beverages
• DoubleShot energy beverages
• Frappuccino beverages
• Lipton tea and other beverages
• Propel beverages
• SoBe beverages
• Gatorade beverages
• Fiesta Miranda beverages
• Tropicana juices and beverages
Other Senomyx Partner Products
- At this time we are formally boycotting PepsiCo products, however many have asked us for lists of the other companies involved with Senomyx and what products are involved.
Unless we know a certain product or brand name specifically, we intend to boycott all of the company’s products.
• All coffee creamers
• Maggi Brand instant soups, bouillon cubes, ketchups, sauces, seasoning, instant noodles
Kraft – Cadbury Adams LLC Products:
• Black Jack chewing gum
• Bubbaloo bubble gum
• Bubblicious bubble gum
• Freshen Up Gum
• Sour Cherry Gum (Limited)
• Sour Apple Gum (Limited)
Cadbury Adams LLC Candies
• Sour Cherry Blasters
• Fruit Mania
• Bassett’s Liquorice All sorts
• Maynards Wine Gum
• Swedish Fish
• Swedish Berries
• Juicy Squirts
• Original Gummies
• Fuzzy Peach
• Sour Chillers
• Sour Patch Kids
• Mini Fruit Gums
Other Cadbury Adams LLC Products
• Certs breath mints
• Halls Cough Drops
Not part of Senomyx – N eocutis Products
This company produces anti wrinkle creams that contain cells from a 14 week gestation aborted malebaby. Following is the list of the creams, but we recommend a full boycott of all Neocutis Products.
Bio-Gel Prevedem Journee
Bio Restorative Skin Cream
Vaccines Containing HEK Cells And the Manufacturers:
MMR II (Merck)
ProQuad (MMR + Chickenpox – Merck)
Varivax (Chickenpox – Merck)
Pentacel (Polio + DTaP + HiB – Sanofi Pasteur)
Vaqta (Hepatitis-A – Merck)
Havrix (Hepatitis-A – Glaxo SmithKline)
Twinrix (Hepatitis-A and B combo – Glaxo)
Zostavax (Shingles – Merck)
Imovax (Rabies – Sanofi Pasteur)
Pulmozyme (Cystic Fibrosis – Genetech)
Enbrel (Rheumatoid Arthritis – Amgen)
Note: Moral options exist for Rabies, Polio,
Rheumatoid Arthritis. Separate moral options
currently not available for Measles and Mumps.
Back in January, Oklahoma Senator Ralph Shortey proposed legislation to ban the production of aborted fetal cell-derived flavor chemicals in his home state. If passed, S.B. 1418 would also reportedly ban the sale of any products that contain flavor chemicals derived from human fetal tissue, which includes Pepsi products as well as products produced by Kraft and Nestle (http://www.naturalnews.com)
.Biotech company using cell lines from aborted babies in food enhancement testing http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/biotech-company-using-cell-lines-from-aborted-babies-in-food-enhancement-te
Pro-life groups call for Pepsi boycott over aborted fetal cell lines
Oklahoma lawmaker wants to stop Pepsi from using aborted fetus cells in soda flavoring research (NaturalNews)
To Contact PepsiCo:
Jamie Caulfield, Sr. VP
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
Edmund M. Carpenter, Chair, Corporate Development
1 Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103-1701
Pro-life groups joining CGL in the boycott to date are: Life Issues Institute, American Life League, Colorado Right to Life, American Right to Life, Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute, ALL Arizona, Central Nebraskans for Life, Pro-Life Waco, Houston Coalition for Life, Mother and Unborn Baby Fox Valley, Womankind, Billboards for Life, Movement for a Better America, Defenders of the Unborn, Focus Pregnancy Help Center, Idaho Chooses Life, EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers of NY, Four Seasons for Life, CREDO, Life Choices, STOPP Dallas, CA Right To Life, Human Life Alliance, International Right to Life Federation, Operation Rescue, Pro-Life Nation, LifeNews.com, and Mary’s Outreach for Women.
To be clear, the aborted fetal tissue used to make Pepsi’s flavor chemicals does not end up in the final product sold to customers, according to reports — it is used, instead, to evaluate how actual human taste receptors respond to these chemical flavorings. But the fact that Pepsi uses them at all when viable, non-human alternatives are available illustrates the company’s blatant disregard for ethical and moral concerns in the matter.
HEK 293 cells were generated in the early 70s by transformation of cultures of normal human embryonic kidney cells with sheared adenovirus 5 DNA in Alex Van der Eb’s laboratory in Leiden, The Netherlands.
The human embryonic kidney cells were obtained from an aborted fetus and originally cultured by Van der Eb himself; the transformation by adenovirus was performed by Frank Graham who published his findings in the late 1970s after he left Leiden for McMaster University in Canada.
They are called HEK for human embryonic kidney, while the number 293 comes from Graham’s habit of numbering his experiments; the original HEK 293 cell clone was simply the product of his 293rd experiment.
In the course of his professional life in the world of national security Edward Snowden must have gone through numerous probing interviews, lie detector examinations, and exceedingly detailed background checks, as well as filling out endless forms carefully designed to catch any kind of falsehood or inconsistency. The Washington Post (June 10) reported that “several officials said the CIA will now undoubtedly begin reviewing the process by which Snowden may have been hired, seeking to determine whether there were any missed signs that he might one day betray national secrets.”
Yes, there was a sign they missed – Edward Snowden had something inside him shaped like a conscience, just waiting for a cause.
It was the same with me. I went to work at the State Department, planning to become a Foreign Service Officer, with the best – the most patriotic – of intentions, going to do my best to slay the beast of the International Communist Conspiracy. But then the horror, on a daily basis, of what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam was brought home to me in every form of media; it was making me sick at heart. My conscience had found its cause, and nothing that I could have been asked in a pre-employment interview would have alerted my interrogators of the possible danger I posed because I didn’t know of the danger myself. No questioning of my friends and relatives could have turned up the slightest hint of the radical anti-war activist I was to become. My friends and relatives were to be as surprised as I was to be. There was simply no way for the State Department security office to know that I should not be hired and given a Secret Clearance. 1
So what is a poor National Security State to do? Well, they might consider behaving themselves. Stop doing all the terrible things that grieve people like me and Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning and so many others. Stop the bombings, the invasions, the endless wars, the torture, the sanctions, the overthrows, the support of dictatorships, the unmitigated support of Israel; stop all the things that make the United States so hated, that create all the anti-American terrorists, that compel the National Security State – in pure self defense – to spy on the entire world.
Eavesdropping on the planet
The above is the title of an essay that I wrote in 2000 that appeared as a chapter in my book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Here are some excerpts that may help to put the current revelations surrounding Edward Snowden into perspective …
Can people in the 21st century imagine a greater invasion of privacy on all of earth, in all of history? If so, they merely have to wait for technology to catch up with their imagination.
Like a mammoth vacuum cleaner in the sky, the National Security Agency (NSA) sucks it all up: home phone, office phone, cellular phone, email, fax, telex … satellite transmissions, fiber-optic communications traffic, microwave links … voice, text, images … captured by satellites continuously orbiting the earth, then processed by high-powered computers … if it runs on electromagnetic energy, NSA is there, with high high tech. Twenty-four hours a day. Perhaps billions of messages sucked up each day. No one escapes. Not presidents, prime ministers, the UN Secretary-General, the pope, the Queen of England, embassies, transnational corporation CEOs, friend, foe, your Aunt Lena … if God has a phone, it’s being monitored … maybe your dog isn’t being tapped. The oceans will not protect you. American submarines have been attaching tapping pods to deep underwater cables for decades.
Under a system codenamed ECHELON, launched in the 1970s, the NSA and its junior partners in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada operate a network of massive, highly automated interception stations, covering the globe amongst them. Any of the partners can ask any of the others to intercept its own domestic communications. It can then truthfully say it does not spy on its own citizens.
Apart from specifically-targeted individuals and institutions, the ECHELON system works by indiscriminately intercepting huge quantities of communications and using computers to identify and extract messages of interest from the mass of unwanted ones. Every intercepted message – all the embassy cables, the business deals, the sex talk, the birthday greetings – is searched for keywords, which could be anything the searchers think might be of interest. All it takes to flag a communication is for one of the parties to use a couple or so of the key words in the ECHELON “dictionary” – “He lives in a lovely old white house on Bush Street, right near me. I can shoot over there in two minutes.” Within limitations, computers can “listen” to telephone calls and recognize when keywords are spoken. Those calls are extracted and recorded separately, to be listened to in full by humans. The list of specific targets at any given time is undoubtedly wide ranging, at one point including the likes of Amnesty International and Christian Aid.
ECHELON is carried out without official acknowledgment of its existence, let alone any democratic oversight or public or legislative debate as to whether it serves a decent purpose. The extensiveness of the ECHELON global network is a product of decades of intense Cold War activity. Yet with the end of the Cold War, its budget – far from being greatly reduced – was increased, and the network has grown in both power and reach; yet another piece of evidence that the Cold War was not a battle against something called “the international communist conspiracy”.
The European Parliament in the late 1990s began to wake up to this intrusion into the continent’s affairs. The parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee commissioned a report, which appeared in 1998 and recommended a variety of measures for dealing with the increasing power of the technologies of surveillance. It bluntly advised: “The European Parliament should reject proposals from the United States for making private messages via the global communications network [Internet] accessible to US intelligence agencies.” The report denounced Britain’s role as a double-agent, spying on its own European partners.
Despite these concerns the US has continued to expand ECHELON surveillance in Europe, partly because of heightened interest in commercial espionage – to uncover industrial information that would provide American corporations with an advantage over foreign rivals.
German security experts discovered several years ago that ECHELON was engaged in heavy commercial spying in Europe. Victims included such German firms as the wind generator manufacturer Enercon. In 1998, Enercon developed what it thought was a secret invention, enabling it to generate electricity from wind power at a far cheaper rate than before. However, when the company tried to market its invention in the United States, it was confronted by its American rival, Kenetech, which announced that it had already patented a near-identical development. Kenetech then brought a court order against Enercon to ban the sale of its equipment in the US. In a rare public disclosure, an NSA employee, who refused to be named, agreed to appear in silhouette on German television to reveal how he had stolen Enercon’s secrets by tapping the telephone and computer link lines that ran between Enercon’s research laboratory and its production unit some 12 miles away. Detailed plans of the company’s invention were then passed on to Kenetech.
In 1994, Thomson S.A., located in Paris, and Airbus Industrie, based in Blagnac Cedex, France, also lost lucrative contracts, snatched away by American rivals aided by information covertly collected by NSA and CIA. The same agencies also eavesdropped on Japanese representatives during negotiations with the United States in 1995 over auto parts trade.
German industry has complained that it is in a particularly vulnerable position because the government forbids its security services from conducting similar industrial espionage. “German politicians still support the rather naive idea that political allies should not spy on each other’s businesses. The Americans and the British do not have such illusions,” said journalist Udo Ulfkotte, a specialist in European industrial espionage, in 1999.
That same year, Germany demanded that the United States recall three CIA operatives for their activities in Germany involving economic espionage. The news report stated that the Germans “have long been suspicious of the eavesdropping capabilities of the enormous U.S. radar and communications complex at Bad Aibling, near Munich”, which is in fact an NSA intercept station. “The Americans tell us it is used solely to monitor communications by potential enemies, but how can we be entirely sure that they are not picking up pieces of information that we think should remain completely secret?” asked a senior German official. Japanese officials most likely have been told a similar story by Washington about the more than a dozen signals intelligence bases which Japan has allowed to be located on its territory.
In their quest to gain access to more and more private information, the NSA, the FBI, and other components of the US national security establishment have been engaged for years in a campaign to require American telecommunications manufacturers and carriers to design their equipment and networks to optimize the authorities’ wiretapping ability. Some industry insiders say they believe that some US machines approved for export contain NSA “back doors” (also called “trap doors”).
The United States has been trying to persuade European Union countries as well to allow it “back-door” access to encryption programs, claiming that this was to serve the needs of law-enforcement agencies. However, a report released by the European Parliament in May 1999 asserted that Washington’s plans for controlling encryption software in Europe had nothing to do with law enforcement and everything to do with US industrial espionage. The NSA has also dispatched FBI agents on break-in missions to snatch code books from foreign facilities in the United States, and CIA officers to recruit foreign communications clerks abroad and buy their code secrets, according to veteran intelligence officials.
For decades, beginning in the 1950s, the Swiss company Crypto AG sold the world’s most sophisticated and secure encryption technology. The firm staked its reputation and the security concerns of its clients on its neutrality in the Cold War or any other war. The purchasing nations, some 120 of them – including prime US intelligence targets such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yugoslavia – confident that their communications were protected, sent messages from their capitals to their embassies, military missions, trade offices, and espionage dens around the world, via telex, radio, and fax. And all the while, because of a secret agreement between the company and NSA, these governments might as well have been hand delivering the messages to Washington, uncoded. For their Crypto AG machines had been rigged before being sold to them, so that when they used them the random encryption key could be automatically and clandestinely transmitted along with the enciphered message. NSA analysts could read the messages as easily as they could the morning newspaper.
In 1986, because of US public statements concerning the La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin, the Libyans began to suspect that something was rotten with Crypto AG’s machines and switched to another Swiss firm, Gretag Data Systems AG. But it appears that NSA had that base covered as well. In 1992, after a series of suspicious circumstances over the previous few years, Iran came to a conclusion similar to Libya’s, and arrested a Crypto AG employee who was in Iran on a business trip. He was eventually ransomed, but the incident became well known and the scam began to unravel in earnest.
In September 1999 it was revealed that NSA had arranged with Microsoft to insert special “keys” into Windows software, in all versions from 95-OSR2 onwards. An American computer scientist, Andrew Fernandez of Cryptonym in North Carolina, had disassembled parts of the Windows instruction code and found the smoking gun – Microsoft’s developers had failed to remove the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for two keys. One was called “KEY”. The other was called “NSAKEY”. Fernandez presented his finding at a conference at which some Windows developers were also in attendance. The developers did not deny that the NSA key was built into their software, but they refused to talk about what the key did, or why it had been put there without users’ knowledge. Fernandez says that NSA’s “back door” in the world’s most commonly used operating system makes it “orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access your computer.”
In February 2000, it was disclosed that the Strategic Affairs Delegation (DAS), the intelligence arm of the French Defense Ministry, had prepared a report in 1999 which also asserted that NSA had helped to install secret programs in Microsoft software. According to the DAS report, “it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the [Microsoft] MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.” The report stated that there had been a “strong suspicion of a lack of security fed by insistent rumors about the existence of spy programs on Microsoft, and by the presence of NSA personnel in Bill Gates’ development teams.” The Pentagon, said the report, was Microsoft’s biggest client in the world.
Recent years have seen disclosures that in the countdown to their invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States had listened in on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, and all the members of the UN Security Council during a period when they were deliberating about what action to take in Iraq.
It’s as if the American national security establishment feels that it has an inalienable right to listen in; as if there had been a constitutional amendment, applicable to the entire world, stating that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the government to intercept the personal communications of anyone.” And the Fourth Amendment had been changed to read: “Persons shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, except in cases of national security, real or alleged.” 2
The leading whistleblower of all time: Philip Agee
Before there was Edward Snowden, William Binney and Thomas Drake … before there was Bradley Manning, Sibel Edmonds and Jesselyn Radack … there was Philip Agee. What Agee revealed is still the most startling and important information about US foreign policy that any American government whistleblower has ever revealed.
Philip Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 – a pioneering work on the Agency’s methods and their devastating consequences – appeared in about 30 languages around the world and was a best seller in many countries; it included a 23-page appendix with the names of hundreds of undercover Agency operatives and organizations.
Under CIA manipulation, direction and, usually, their payroll, were past and present presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, “our minister of labor”, “our vice-president”, “my police”, journalists, labor leaders, student leaders, diplomats, and many others. If the Agency wished to disseminate anti-communist propaganda, cause dissension in leftist ranks, or have Communist embassy personnel expelled, it need only prepare some phoney documents, present them to the appropriate government ministers and journalists, and – presto! – instant scandal.
Agee’s goal in naming all these individuals, quite simply, was to make it as difficult as he could for the CIA to continue doing its dirty work.
A common Agency tactic was writing editorials and phoney news stories to be knowingly published by Latin American media with no indication of the CIA authorship or CIA payment to the media. The propaganda value of such a “news” item might be multiplied by being picked up by other CIA stations in Latin America who would disseminate it through a CIA-owned news agency or a CIA-owned radio station. Some of these stories made their way back to the United States to be read or heard by unknowing North Americans.
Wooing the working class came in for special treatment. Labor organizations by the dozen, sometimes hardly more than names on stationery, were created, altered, combined, liquidated, and new ones created again, in an almost frenzied attempt to find the right combination to compete with existing left-oriented unions and take national leadership away from them.
In 1975 these revelations were new and shocking; for many readers it was the first hint that American foreign policy was not quite what their high-school textbooks had told them nor what theNew York Times had reported.
“As complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere, an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British ‘case officer’ operates … All of it … presented with deadly accuracy,” wrote Miles Copeland, a former CIA station chief, and ardent foe of Agee. (There’s no former CIA officer more hated by members of the intelligence establishment than Agee; no one’s even close; due in part to his traveling to Cuba and having long-term contact with Cuban intelligence.)
In contrast to Agee, WikiLeaks withheld the names of hundreds of informants from the nearly 400,000 Iraq war documents it released.
In 1969, Agee resigned from the CIA (and colleagues who “long ago ceased to believe in what they are doing”).
While on the run from the CIA as he was writing Inside the Company – at times literally running for his life – Agee was expelled from, or refused admittance to, Italy, Britain, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. (West Germany eventually gave him asylum because his wife was a leading ballerina in the country.) Agee’s account of his period on the run can be found detailed in his book On the Run (1987). It’s an exciting read.
- To read about my State Department and other adventures, see my book West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold war Memoir (2002) ↩
- See Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapter 21, for the notes for the above. ↩
Syrian Volunteers Exhibit Their Humanity, Despite International Politicizing of Emergency Aid…
Over the past twenty months, as the Syrian crisis continued beyond most early predictions, this observer learned something about the Syrian people that I had known for decades about Palestinians. And that is their great concern for their countrymen wherever they are found and whatever their current condition. When I am in Syria I am frequently asked “how are our people doing in Lebanon as refugees from this crisis?” In Lebanon, I am often asked “how are our (internal) refugees in Syria and what of our people in Jordan, Iraq or Turkey, how are they being treated and are they getting the basic necessities they need to live?”
And many Syrian refugees there are these bitter days. As of early November, 2012, close to 700,000 have fled their country with the UN now expecting close to one million by early next year if the fighting does not stop. Soon, it is likely that there will be close to 2 million displaced persons inside Syria according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There are currently, according to the 10/12 UNHCR Syrian Refugee Report, 205,000 in Jordan, approximately 60,000 in Iraq (the first known refugees who have sought refuge in Iraq during the past quarter century) 110,649 in Turkey and 110,095 in Lebanon. The true figures are higher by an estimated 13% if one were to include the many Syrian refugees who are unable or do not want to register with local authorities or NGO’s for various reasons.
“Many more Syrians have recently been displaced within our borders and we are bracing for a long conflict.” Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, Director of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent told this observer during a meeting in his Damascus office. Dr. Attar explained that “internally displaced persons” now exceed 1.5 million and close to 8.5% of the entire population have fled their homes during the last 19 months of conflict. Nearly 400,000 in Damascus alone. Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR’s regional co-coordinator for Syrian refugee’s advised that more than 3,000 refugees flee to neighboring countries every day, or approximately 90,000 per month. Both agree that due to the collapse of public services, and given that perhaps 1.2 million people need humanitarian aid inside the country, it brings the total number of Syrians requiring some form of relief to 2.7 million – or roughly 12 per cent of the total population.
Politicizing Humanitarian Aid
Whereas in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, official refugee camps are providing shelter at no cost to more than a quarter million Syrian refugees, the government in Lebanon has not yet permitted the construction of similar sites due to confessional fears that perhaps a political or other advantage might somehow accrue to a rival sect-once more exposing how deeply its current anarchist confessionalist arrangement paralyzes Lebanon. Unfortunately it is the same mentality and prejudices that so far has prevented Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from being granted the same elementary civil rights to work and to own a home that Syria and every other country granted the victims of the Zionist colonial enterprise usurpation of Palestine, six decades ago.
The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon who fled the violence in their homeland have increased sectarian tensions with one result being Syrian workers and refugees being targeted by elements of the Lebanese government. This despite the enormous aid Syria gave Lebanese refugees during the 2006 war when hundreds of thousands of Lebanese sought safety next door in Syria. Nadim Houry, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, has documented growing political harassment of Syrian workers in Lebanon. He reports: “We’ve seen the army and the police detaining and roughing up a number of Syrian workers. Most recently, the Lebanese army beat up 72 workers; most of them were Syrian,” Houry reported. “The Lebanese army rounded up the migrant men in the neighborhood and decided to ‘teach them a lesson’ instead of doing police work.”
Against this dismal backdrop one can find across the border in Syria hope and even inspiration. It is coming from the Syrian people themselves and their mainly Arab friends. Between 10,000 and 11,000 volunteers, including Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, are manning across Syria more than 80 Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARC) aid “sub-stations.” These include more than a dozen mobile clinics and pharmacies as well as 10 “on the spot readiness centers.” Depending on the level of localized conflict on any given day, SARC volunteers operate 24/7 anywhere from 6 and 30 ambulances, as they liaise with the Palestine Red Crescent Society volunteers, among others. Since mid-summer, SARC volunteers have been opening centers for psychological support services for children as well as adults. Recently a phone “hotline” has been set-up to help citizens find emergency help. International volunteers are most welcomed at any of SARC’s centers.
SARC’s volunteers have recently been praised by the UN World Food Program and many others for their work delivering humanitarian aid to internal refugees here in Syria. They distribute necessities of life during the chaos and killing to their fellow countrymen without regard to religion or political views. Foreign donor countries giving the most support currently include Germany, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy and Britain. Others help as well, including money and foodstuffs from Iran and cash from the American Red Cross, the latter channeled through the ICRC so as not to raise Congressional outcries about possible violations of heavy US sanctions being imposed on the Syrian people.
Founded in 1942, as the French colonizers withdrew from this 7000 year old civilization which they occupied in 1917, as part of the English-French Sykes-Picot arrangement, the Syria Arab Red Crescent society became linked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1946. SARC receives no government funding. This observer had the opportunity to meet SARC staff and volunteers of such singular commitment to helping their countrymen that more than a dozen have given their lives while trying to bring assistance to those stranded in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Deraa and elsewhere. One SARC team leader to me: “When one of our people is killed we bury the martyr and by the next morning we have 20 or more new volunteers who want to take their place and bring aid to those trapped in the most dangerous areas. I must tell you that this hell we are living through-we are confronting directly—it has made me very proud of my people and to be Syrian. Enshallah, we will overcome this chaos and killing and we will be stronger than before as a people.”
At the United Nations on 11/5/12, a top relief official said the UN aid effort in Syria, which means mainly SARC’s volunteers, “is very dangerous and very difficult.” The official, John Ging, director of operations of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated that the aid efforts in Syria (mainly being done by SARC volunteers) was supplying 1.5 million people in with food and that nearly half was being delivered into areas of conflict, but “there are areas beyond our reach, particularly areas under opposition control for quite a long time.”
Despite UNCHR’s role in studying the refugee problem and coordinating yet more studies and some registration of aid applicants during the current crisis, some familiar with its activities in Syria, including a few other NGO’s and some Syrian officials, have been critical of its performance to date. One highly respected governmental official told this observer recently, “I said to UNCHR’s local administration, “We have noticed the many fine vehicles that you flew into Syria, and we have met some of the well paid staff that you have brought to help us, but please can you show us that you have to date delivered even one loaf of bread to our desperate people?”
In fairness to UNCHR, after an admittedly slow start in Syria, it has recently picked up steam and its international staff is learning much from the local Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers.
Nor is SARC is without its critics.
Tawfik Chamaa, spokesman for the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM) speaking from his comfortable Geneva office issued an ad holmium broadside on 11/6/12 against the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society and its nearly 11,000 volunteers. He charged that cash or materials sent to SARC was being “confiscated by the regime. It will not reach the civilians who are bombed every day or besieged,” telling reporters in Geneva, “Ninety, even 95 percent of everything that is sent to Syrian Red Crescent headquarters in Damascus goes to support the Syrian regime, especially the soldiers.”
However, according to AFP, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN World Food Program (WFP), which both work closely with the Syrian Red Crescent Society, strongly denied their aid was being seized by the government or anyone else. This observer, during the late night of 11/7/12 contacted “Wassim”, a friend and a volunteer at the Damascus SARC HQ who last week arranged visits for me of SARC aid distribution centers and Wassim also flatly denied the UOSSM report. Wassim informed this observer on the evening of 11/7/12 that SARC will immediately prepare a response to the USOOM allegations.
UOSSM itself has been criticized, as have a few other NGO’s working in Syria, for becoming politicized, polarized and for being inordinately top heavy administratively with bloated salaries and ” humanitarian team leaders” sitting in offices in Paris or Geneva and elsewhere far from Syria. Mr. Chamaa, himself, is a high salaried founding member of the Western group of 14 aid organizations from countries including France, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States. According to SARC volunteers working in field aid distribution centers in Syria, Mr Chamaa could learn more were he to visit Syria and actually observe what’s happening on the ground before making unsupported claims. The UOSSM was set up at the beginning of the year mainly by Syrian doctors living in NATO countries. Some speculate that UOSSM hopes to be part of a possible future NATO affiliated “transition team” while others claim its political charges against SARC volunteers, without proof, are irresponsible and hurt those suffering most in Syria. The reason is because such alarmist press releases tend to damp down much needed donations of medical aid and necessities. This affects directly the 1.5 million people inside Syria who are in need of emergency humanitarian aid.
In response to Charmaa’s sensationalistic headline grabbing charges, UN World Food Program spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told the media on 11/7/12: ”I believe there is absolutely no confiscation. WFP food monitors are able to visit most areas to check that food is reaching the people who need it most. Even in some dangerous areas, they use WFP armored vehicles.” She insisted that the Red Crescent, “as the designated coordinator of humanitarian assistance in Syria, operates through branches in an independent manner”.
The ICRC said it was aware of Chamaa’s allegations. Its HQ stated on 11/7/12: “Whenever such facts are clearly established, which does not appear to be the case in Syria, we treat them very seriously and would address directly the management of (the Syrian Red Crescent) and Syrian authorities” ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk stressed that the ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent “strive to assist all populations in need without any discrimination, which is a challenging task given the deteriorating humanitarian situation and security conditions.” The ICRC and SARC volunteers recently managed to deliver medical and food aid to 1,200 people in the Old City of Homs, and since the beginning of the year they have provided food, water and other assistance to more than one million people across Syria, according to ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk, and as reported by AFP.
On 11/8/12 exhibiting exasperation, a sense of foreboding and just a whiff of defeatism, ICRC president Peter Maurer to a conference in Geneva that “We are in a situation where the humanitarian situation due to the conflict is getting worse. And we can’t cope with the worsening of the situation. We have a lot of blank spots, we know that no aid has been there and I can’t tell you what the situation is or what we can do.”
In a late breaking development Friday morning, 11/9/12, the UN human rights chief expressed concern after the ICRC said it was struggling to deliver aid in war-ravaged Syria. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told AFP during an interview at the Bali Democracy Forum in Indonesia: “The fact that they’ve now said they are unable to perform their core functions makes the humanitarian crisis in Syria extremely critical. Nearly hopeless.”
Don’t tell that to Zeinab Tamari, a thirties something Palestinian volunteer from the Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus who is traveling across Syria bringing aid and relief to her fellow Arabs.
And don’t tell either it to Syrian student Mahar Saad whose home was destroyed during fighting in Homs and who daily risks his life remaining in his neighborhood helping his neighbors despite losing family members in the fighting. Both are SARC volunteers appeared without being asked at one of the aid organizations outlets across Syria to help. They inspire hope for Syria and for all humanity, regardless of the outcome of the current crisis.
The staff and volunteers who perform the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society’s humanitarian work undertaken in the main by Syrians for Syrians, with Syrians are a credit to their country and warrant the blessings and support all people of good will as they risk their lives to bring aid to their countrymen.
At a time when America desperately needs to come together, we are becoming more divided than ever. The mainstream media and most of our politicians love to pit us against one another in dozens of different ways, and right now class warfare has become one of their favorite tools for getting us to hate one another. If you are struggling in this economy, you are being told that “the wealthy” are the cause of your problems. If you have money, you are being told that the poor hate you and want to tax you into oblivion. Class warfare has already become a dominant theme in the 2012 race for the White House, and there will certainly be endless speeches given along these lines by politicians from both major political parties all the way up to election day. Class warfare will be used by both sides as a way to divide America and get votes. And the frightening thing is that it is clearly working. There is more hatred between the poor and the wealthy in America today than at any other time that I can remember. But hating people because of how much money they have or don’t have is not going to solve anything. Instead, it is just going to cause more problems.
The other day, Yale economics professor Robert Shiller told CNBC that the globe is already in a state of “late Great Depression“. The United States is heading into unprecedented economic and financial problems and we desperately need to pull together as a country and solve these problems.
But instead, our leaders are tapping into the politics of division in a desperate attempt to get elected in the fall.
Rather than focus on real issues and real solutions, our politicians attempt to make “the wealthy” or “welfare recipients” the focus of our debates.
Well, you know what?
Most people that are rich and most people that are poor are not purposely trying to abuse the system. Most of them are hard working people that are trying to do the best that they can in a world that is increasingly going crazy.
These days, the Occupy Wall Street crowd loves to talk about how evil the “1 percent” is. But most of the “1 percent” are people that have worked really hard and that have been fortunate enough to get some really good breaks in life.
Yes, there are some among the “1 percent” that do some really bad things. The too big to fail banks and the big money managers on Wall Street should be held accountable for the crimes that they have committed.
But most wealthy Americans are not trying to oppress the poor. Most of them are just trying to do the best that they can for themselves and their families.
Neither are most poor people trying to abuse the system either.
Yes, without a doubt there are some that do not want to work and that want to live on government benefits indefinitely.
But that is a minority.
Most Americans that are receiving government benefits today would rather be working good jobs that would enable them to provide for their families.
Most Americans understand that government handouts can never provide dignity and hope for a better future.
But if you don’t demonize the poor and you point out the decline of the middle class, many Republicans will call you a “liberal” or a “socialist”.
And if you don’t demonize the rich and you don’t blame them for all of our economic problems, many Democrats will call you a “pig” or a “fascist”.
Unfortunately, playing the blame game is not going to get us anywhere.
The number of Americans living in poverty increased dramatically under George W. Bush and it also increased dramatically under Barack Obama.
Our country is drowning in debt, millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, the middle class is shrinking at an astounding pace, and the Federal Reserve continues to destroy our financial system.
Getting angry at the wealthy or the poor is not going to fix those problems.
But it will distract us from the reality that both major political parties have been doing a horrible job.
Sadly, Americans seem to really enjoy blaming one another these days. Just check out some of the slogans that have been seen on various signs at Occupy Wall Street protests….
“They Only Call It Class Warfare When We Fight Back”
“Eat The Rich – Feed The Poor”
“The Rich Are Wrecking The Planet”
So will destroying the lives of the rich solve our problems?
Of course not.
The truth is that we should want millions more Americans to be prosperous. We should be cheering for one another instead of tearing one another down.
But that is heresy to many on the left.
On the right, it is heresy even to mention that our tax system is fundamentally flawed and that it has thousands of loopholes that are being abused by the very wealthy.
In a previous article, I detailed how many of the largest and most profitable corporations in America get away with paying absolutely nothing in taxes.
There is something very wrong with that.
Our income tax system should be abolished altogether, but if we do have to pay income taxes, then it is fundamentally unfair for some people and businesses to be able to pay little or nothing while the rest of us get absolutely obliterated by taxes.
But if you try to say that to many on the right, they will look at you in horror.
The other day, there was a New York Times article that detailed the extreme measures that Apple takes to avoid paying taxes. It turns out that Apple sets up shell offices all over the globe in order to evade taxation….
As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.
That same article talked about how Apple has become a model which hundreds of other companies have followed. To giant corporations such as Apple, tax evasion has become an art form….
Apple, for instance, was among the first tech companies to designate overseas salespeople in high-tax countries in a manner that allowed them to sell on behalf of low-tax subsidiaries on other continents, sidestepping income taxes, according to former executives. Apple was a pioneer of an accounting technique known as the “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,” which reduces taxes by routing profits through Irish subsidiaries and the Netherlands and then to the Caribbean. Today, that tactic is used by hundreds of other corporations — some of which directly imitated Apple’s methods, say accountants at those companies.
So what is the solution to all of this?
Raising income taxes won’t work too well because the tax lawyers are always several steps ahead of our politicians.
The truth is that when taxes get raised it is always the middle class that gets absolutely clobbered and the wealthy always find more ways to reduce their exposure.
Just take a look at Mitt Romney. He made more than 42 million dollars in 2010 and yet Romney had an effective tax rate of only 14 percent.
If I could find a way to have an effective tax rate of only 14 percent I would be jumping up and down for joy, and so would millions of other Americans.
Our tax system is deeply, deeply broken and needs to be thrown into the trash can.
Abandoning the current tax system would not solve all of our problems, but it would be a start.
Unfortunately, neither political party is willing to even consider this.
Instead, the Democrats want to raise taxes a little bit and the Republicans want to lower taxes a little bit.
But neither alternative will do much of anything to solve any of the real problems we are facing.
Our economy is dying and it is not producing nearly enough jobs for all of us. When Barack Obama took office, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in America was 2.6 million. Today, it is 5.3 million.
At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all college graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed.
So where is all of the “change” that Obama promised?
Things just keep getting worse.
Since Obama has been in the White House, 14 million more Americans have gone on food stamps, and more than 25 percent of all American children are enrolled in the program today.
How will class warfare help those people?
Will blaming the wealthy make things better for them?
They are already receiving government handouts.
Will increasing those handouts a little bit more fundamentally change their lives for the better?
Of course not.
What those people need are good jobs.
But instead, both the Democrats and the Republicans continue to pursue the same job killing policies that have been destroying American jobs for decades.
Without good jobs, the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to grow.
In a previous article, I detailed the explosive growth of social welfare benefits that we have seen under both Republicans and Democrats….
Back in 1960, social welfare benefits made up approximately 10 percent of all salaries and wages. In the year 2000, social welfare benefits made up approximately 21 percent of all salaries and wages. Today, social welfare benefits make up approximately 35 percent of all salaries and wages.
The goal should not be to rape the rich and give out even more social welfare benefits.
Instead, the goal should be to develop an economy that creates good jobs.
We need have an economy that empowers individuals and small businesses.
Instead, we have an economy dominated by big government and big corporations.
We have an economy that funnels the vast majority of the economic rewards to a tiny elite while most of the rest of us struggle.
Just consider the following statistics….
*The following is how income gains in the U.S. were distributed during 2010….
-37 percent of all income gains went to the top 0.01 percent of all income earners
-56 percent of all income gains went to the rest of the top 1 percent
-7 percent of all income gains went to the bottom 99 percent
*In America today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
*According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
So what is the solution to that problem?
Is it to attack the rich and take away all their money and give more government handouts to the poor?
Of course not.
Rather, we need to change the rules of the game so that individuals and small businesses are empowered to succeed.
We need to decentralize economic power and dramatically reduce the undue influence that big government and giant corporations have over our economic system.
We need to create an environment where almost anyone that has a good idea and that is willing to work hard can succeed.
But instead of focusing on real solutions like shutting down the Federal Reserve, converting to debt-free currency, eliminating the income tax, shutting down the IRS, massively reducing the size of government and getting rid of thousands upon thousands of unneeded regulations, the mainstream media and our politicians are going to continue to try to get Americans to blame one another for our problems.
The efforts to divide America are working, and hatred is growing to unprecedented levels in this country.
Eventually this will lead to mass rioting in our major cities and that will make our problems far worse.
Hatred and division are not going to bring us a better future.
They are only going to destroy us from within.
We don’t need hate.
What we need is more love and more solutions.
Unfortunately, our leaders are leading us down a very dark path, and we are heading for a future that is going to be a complete mess.
Source: The Economic Collapse
Some weeks ago, Mexico’s second largest city was hit by over a dozen narco-blockades. Narcotraficantes shut down over a dozen intersections, evacuated citizens from buses and burned the empty vehicles (one bus driver didn’t get out in time). Meanwhile, the Mexican military executed a daring raid when they landed on Opus Dei school grounds to capture a head narcotics trafficker holed up in the nearby neighborhood.
The official story is that the narcos were retaliating for the Mexican government capture of one of their head honchos or that they were executing a diversion to allow other cartel members to escape the city.
Ironically, they later posted notes around town asking citizens for their forgiveness. It almost feels like this is Gotham and we’re living in a Batman movie, except, here there is no Dark Knight.
The US Agenda
Before we examine the issue further, it is necessary to state some clear facts:
1) The CIA and other US Government agencies have been caught running drugs into the U.S.
2) The DEA has been caught laundering money for drug cartels from Colombia to Mexico.
3) The ATF and the White House were caught selling tens of thousands of guns directly to Mexican drug cartels.
4) Attorney General Eric Holder has been caught stating that their goals are to demonize gun possession and create an anti-gun culture with the ultimate purpose of disallowing lawful firearm possession.
5) Operations Fast & Furious as well as Gunrunner were attempts at fomenting such an atmosphere.
Mexican Deep Politics
Dr. Peter Dale Scott is one of the preeminent researchers and authors on the topic of “deep politics” and the global drug trade. We had the great opportunity to speak with Dr. Scott for about an hour on these issues.
In his book American War Machine, he painstakingly details the nexus between the various actors. In this instance, these are mainly the US government, Mexican government and narco traffickers as well as middlemen in-between (i.e. the odd Iranian used-car salesman).
In 1947, the same year the CIA was created, the US government helped Mexico create its own agency called the Federal Security Directorate (DFS). The U.S. also assisted other countries in creating their own intelligence agencies (i.e. DINA in Chile, SIN in Haiti, etc.).
The CIA-DFS duo has been running drugs ever since. Indeed, the founder of the agency, Colonel Carlos Serrano had been caught in action. At the time, a State Department report noted the “Gestapo” powers of the DFS and how it was used “to get rid of their competition and control the business.” The main point of the DFS was not to stop the flow of drugs but to manage it and fight the communist left.
The DFS was essentially a CIA asset and many assets on the CIA payroll actually went on to become prominent politicians with at least one of them becoming the president of Mexico. Family members would then be drug trade contacts, such as was the case with Raul Salinas. Essentially, the US government was able to manipulate Mexican politics by proxy via the DFS. In a CIA report, out of six assessed Mexican agencies, despite the DFS having the worst record, the CIA went on to say that they would still work with them because they were the most “competent and capable!”
The CIA-DFS-Cartel Triad
Due to a scandal in 1985, the DFS morphed into CISEN at which time it lost its CIA protection because of the murder of a DEA agent. According to Peter Dale Scott, the institutional arrangements between the triad continued up until at least Ernesto Zedillo’s presidency (1995-2001).
One of the interesting things pointed out in American War Machine is that the agencies have their preferred cartels. The CIA and DFS/CISEN have cartels they are aligned with and make sure to support them against the competition. During the 1990s Salinas presidency, agencies and offices such as the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) were up to 95% under narco control at times.
The global drug trade is a key underlying factor in understanding world events. It has become the blood vessel of the global economy without which the system would collapse. It is what provides liquidity to the banks. It makes all those involved, from Afghanistan and Kosovo to Columbia and Wall Street, wealthy beyond imagination. It feeds the Prison-Industrial Complex with its drug offenders. It feeds the Military-Industrial Complex with the resulting violence and arms sales. It feeds the Pharmaceutical-Industrial Complex with the outlaw of natural medicine.
More importantly, it provides off-the-record cash for funding acts of terror, assassinations and other black operations by governments. Could you imagine the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) reaction assessing the receipts detailing how official government funds were used for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr?
Other examples might include when Nicaraguan Contras were trained in Veracruz, Mexico by CIA/DFS narco assets. Or the case of E. Howard Hunt, who was deeply involved in the drug trade as well as the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Seeing as this is the way the cookie crumbles, I am not a terrible optimist. Decriminalization is the only hope, but there are too many politicians who stand to lose too much (i.e. Hillaryious Clinton). Even the Netherlands is turning back the clock by banning cannabis sales. Only time will tell. In the meantime, keep your noses clean.
Jorge Gato lives in Mexico and is a social sciences educator who is in the trenches daily, warding off severe cases of cognitive dissonance, mass indoctrination and unhealthy reasoning. He writes athttp://dissidentthinker.wordpress.com/.
Source: The Dollar Vigilante
Most Americans are unaware that National Condom Week has been going on since the 1970s commencing the week of February 14th — and I’m not making this up. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) did not give out the customary flowers and chocolates; instead they distributed condoms to students at universities in the Pacific Northwest. In its effort to promote safer sex the organization launched WhereDidYouWearIt.com and passed out 55,000 condoms wrapped with smartphone scannable QR codes that link to the site so that students can “check in” to their booty call locations. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Tucker Cummings fills us in on the details:
When they check in, users can note their location (ie, “Shower,” “Party,” etc.) and rate their erotic encounter on a scale from 1 to 5. Users remain anonymous when checking in, but can reveal details such as gender and relationship status.
Working with the tag line “Safe sex happens. Find out where!”, the program gave the condoms away in only a few select locations. However, based on the map of check-ins, the condoms traveled across the Canadian border and all but two US states.
Users were asked to describe their sex-perience and some choices included “It was Ah-maz-ing”… “Rainbows exploded – mountains trembled” … “Things can only improve from here.” Users are also asked, “Where did you wear it?” PPFA urged students to share their entire experience through Facebook and Twitter.
Nathan Engebretson, PPFA’s New Media Coordinator in the North West, chirped:
We hope the site promotes discussions within relationships about condoms and helps to remove perceived stigmas that some people may have about condom use. Where Did You Wear It attempts to create some fun around making responsible decisions.
Let me get this straight. PPFA wishes to send the message to young people that rating their overall sex-perience online is something they can do for fun? The organization believes that someone sharing their sex-perience on Facebook and Twitter for the whole world to know is acting responsibly? This begs the question: What does PPFA consider irresponsible behavior? What do these people consider out of bounds, if anything?
While I’m on the subject of acting irresponsibly, PPFA chooses not to inform the public that using a condom does not provide100% effectiveness against some STDs. Moreover, the public is not told that birth control and contraception are not effective in reducing the number of abortions. According to Life News:
In Sweden, between 1995 and 2001, teen abortion rates grew 32% during a period of low-cost condoms, oral contraceptives and over-the-counter emergency contraception. Similarly, National Review recently reported that “out of 23 studies on the effects of increased access to ECs, not onestudy could show a reduction in unintended pregnancies or abortions.”
A recent ten-year study in Spain was reported to have found the same thing:
[C]ontraception use increased by about 60%, the abortion rate doubled. In other words, even with an increase in contraception use, there weren’t fewer unwanted pregnancies, there were more.
Planned Parenthood’s own affiliate, the Guttmacher Institute, showed simultaneous increases in both abortion rates and contraceptive use in the U.S., Cuba, Denmark, the Netherlands, Singapore, and South Korea. Guttmacher cites other countries as evidence of the opposite relationship, but it is noteworthy that many of those countries already had high abortion rates, often as part of existing coercive government policies.
The only 100 percent effective method of birth control is abstinence. Women who seek an abortion should be told that having an abortion can impact her emotional and psychological well being. It also has that affect on men.
Here’s the bottom line: There’s a growing number of drug resistant sexually transmitted diseases. The only way to prevent dreaded diseases such as HIV and the HPV virus is by abstaining from sexual relations.
But instead of acting responsibly, what does PPFA do? They distribute condoms to university students, making it not only easier for them to “hook up,” they also come up with a system students can have “fun” with and suggest that they use social networking to advertise where they’re having “safe sex”!
What we must not lose sight of is what PPFA does and where their primary source of revenue comes from. The money does not come from “general health care”, more specifically family planning, dispensing contraceptives, the morning after pill (RU486), providing pregnancy tests and breast exams (PPFA does not do mammograms). No, the bulk of their earnings come from aborting babies. The PPFA abortion mill kills over 300 thousand babies a year! For this they received “government health services grants and reimbursements” totaling $487.4 million in 2011. Why, when this “non profit” is worth more than 1 billion? In 2009 PPFA raked in $155 million by performing more than 322,000 abortions. So in essence tax payers are giving money to a lucrative operation! Does this make sense?
What makes no sense at all is that some women not only expect tax payers to pay for abortions and the abortion pill, they demand we pay! This is deeply disturbing to Americans who oppose lining the pockets of abortionists, yet pro-aborts have the gall to shout “get over it!”
Easy for them to say. Getting over the fact that every day 4,000 womb babies are murdered by abortionists is not going to happen
I’ll close with an excerpt from a piece I wrote titled Throwaway Human Beings:
According to science, life begins at conception. So, pro-lifers must urge those who haven’t gotten the message yet to take a look at the scientific evidence. For example, ultrasound technology proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a tiny human person is growing inside a mother’s womb. He/she is not developing into a person; he/she is already a person albeit an extremely small person, especially during the first-trimester. He/she is not a “blob of tissue” as many pro-aborts insist. Pro-aborts deliberately hide the fact that at10 weeks a fetus bends, stretches, opens and closes her hands, lifts her head, squints, swallows and wrinkles her forehead. More and more people now recognize that women who choose to have an abortion are signing a person’s death warrant! Still, over 4,000 babies are killed in America every single day. The latest polls show that Americans are finally starting to come to their senses. According to a 2011 Gallup poll “By a 24% margin, 61-37 percent, Americans take the pro-life view that abortions should either be legal under no circumstances or legal only under a few circumstances.”
In a bid to keep its servers out of the hands of global jurisdictions and evade prosecution, WikiLeaks has been allegedly reported as looking into ways to relocate the servers to offshore data centers.
Wikileaks’ servers have been based in many different countries such as France, Iceland and Sweden, and while the authorities have been so far unable to shut them down permanently, obviously they’re a prime target in the seemingly global fight against WikiLeaks and founder Julian Assange.
In an ’exclusive’ by Fox News , unnamed sources “within the hacker community” suggest:
“…Assange’s financial backers have been working behind the scenes on the logistics of moving the servers to international waters.
“Then they can keep running WikiLeaks and nobody can touch them,” one source told FoxNews.com. “If you get a certain distance away from any land, then you’re dealing with maritime law … They can’t prosecute him under maritime law. He’s safe. He’s not an idiot, he’s actually very smart.”
Fox News suggests a likely location may be the Principality of Sealand.
“… a rusty, World War II-era, former anti-aircraft platform off the coast of England in the North Sea. Based on a 1968 British court ruling that the facility is outside the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, Sealand’s owner has declared the facility a sovereign state, or “micro-nation.”
Prince Michael Bates of Sealand stands atop the helipad on his World War II era “micronation” — a possible future location for Wikileaks’ servers.
Image: Source: FOXNEWS.com
And while this move has been unconfirmed, it has been widely suspected that housing the servers in international waters will legally keep global authority’s hands off the sensitive information, and keep it online.
However, the legality of this manoeuvre has yet to be tested, and will probably become a bureaucratic and diplomatic nightmare, which may prove out to be no protection in the slightest.
Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy with the Washington, D.C., think tank Center for Democracy and Technology, said moving WikiLeaks’ servers to Sealand wouldn’t matter — unless the people behind WikiLeaks moved themselves.
“Where the data resides isn’t what determines jurisdiction,” Dempsey said. “You prosecute real people, you don’t prosecute servers. So if the WikiLeaks people want to live on a platform in the North Sea and educate their children there … for people who have lives, that doesn’t make sense.”
Dempsey makes a valid point about the feasibility of the alleged plan, but also warns, chillingly, that when you try to play outside the rules, the game becomes a free-for-all:
“Once you put yourself outside the realm of law, then you’re outside the realm of law, rules on search warrants and excessive force and all that — the reach of the Constitution — none of that applies,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey is seemingly willing to interpret constitutional law and how it applies to US citizens in a sweeping manner, which coming from a policy maker in Washington, seems like a dismaying erosion. Follow our laws or you have no human rights?
But, constitutional law and admiralty or maritime law is not as simple as FoxNews or Jim Dempsey make it seem. Maritime law can extend from shore to shore, include continental shelves, and there are ways to classify and encompass vessels and islands, and laws that apply to those structures.
If these allegations are true about WikiLeaks’ servers, it conjures up the events surrounding Radio Caroline.
“Radio Caroline is an English radio station founded in 1964 [...] to circumvent the record companies’ control of popular music broadcasting in the United Kingdom and the BBC’s radio broadcasting monopoly. Unlicensed by any government for most of its early life, it was considered a pirate radio station.”
Radio Caroline broadcast from floating ships 5km (3 miles) off the coast of England, just outside British territorial waters.
In 1966 the British Postmaster General, Anthony Wedgwood Benn, introduced a Bill to Parliament that outlawed unlicensed offshore broadcasting. This Bill became the Marine Offences Act and was enacted on 14 August 1967. The two Radio Caroline ships continued to broadcast with operations controlled from the Netherlands. In March 1968, both ships were towed to the Netherlands, because of unpaid bills, by the Wijsmuller tug company.
Floating vessels, like those used by Radio Caroline, must be registered by a country, and as such they come under the laws of that country no matter where the vessel goes. For example, the ships of the GreenPeace fleet have flown flags of many different nations at different times after governments deemed the vessels were involved in inappropriate activities and stripped them of their registration.
Conversely, the Principality of Sealand is fixed to the sea floor, like an island.
The famous royal fort Roughs Tower situated slightly north of the estuary region of the Thames River. Source: Sealandgov.org
During World War II, the United Kingdom decided to establish a number of military bases, the purpose of which was to defend England against German air raids. These sea forts housed enough troops to man and maintain artillery designed to shoot down German aircraft and missiles. They were situated along the east coast of England on the edge of the English territorial waters.
Even though it’s on the edge of territorial waters, there is contention as to its international status, no matter what the self-proclaimed “Prince of SeaLand” declares.
While it has been described as the world’s smallest nation, or a micronation, Sealand is not currently officially recognised by any sovereign state. Although Roy Bates claims it is de facto recognised by Germany as they have sent a diplomat to the micronation, and by the United Kingdom after an English court ruled it did not have jurisdiction over Sealand, neither action constitutes de jure recognition as far as the respective countries are concerned.
In the end, if these allegations regarding WikiLeaks’ servers are true, they will still need a country to work with. They’ll either require satellite communications, or fiber-optic cables to function. And while the US continues to seek extradition of founder Julian Assange, and payments to the pariah organization WikiLeaks are difficult to give through reluctant banks and online transaction-sites like Paypal, the pressure will be on countries to not treat with WikiLeaks, or suffer the consequences.
Source: Elizabeth Leafloor | RedIceCreations.com
“Echoing Angela Merkels call for a more united Europe, European Central Bank president Jean Claude Trichet calls for further fiscal and monetary consolidation of EMU countries.
Talking about the current EMU crisis, which he characterizes as “the gravest crisis since World War I” , he calls for further financial consolidation which, he hopes, would stabilize the economies of the members of EMU.” Source
A lot has been said about the Euro’s problems, most from a purely economic standpoint. It is clear that the imbalances that the Euro created in Europe are not sustainable.
Germany and its satellites (Netherlands, Finland, Austria) are much more competitive than Club Med. Because of the Euro the latter group of nations cannot devalue their currencies resulting in trade deficits and net capital out flow to the North.
Therefore the Euro’s existence depends on a permanent bail out mechanism for the South which not sustainable.
But economics are of lesser import here. The Euro was not created to build wealth but as a step toward a World Currency. To rule the world, one must first rule Europe. Clearly, the Euro is the central bankers’ pet project.
The current crisis is not at all unexpected. The Eurocrats couldn’t get their coveted Federation in 1992, at the time of the Maastricht Treaty so they had to settle for the Euro.
They reasoned the ‘right major crises’ would pop up at some point, making clear that monetary union without fiscal union is impossible. They expect the nation states of Europe to surrender fiscal sovereignty to save the Euro
In a recent article, an insider journalist, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, exposed this process:
“Certain architects of EMU calculated that the single currency would itself become the catalyst for a quantum leap in integration that could not be achieved otherwise….. This was the Monnet Method of fait accompli and facts on the ground. These great manipulators of Europe’s destiny may yet succeed, but so far the crisis is not been remotely beneficial.”
He ends his intriguing report with the point that, “I think it is fair to say events are unfolding more or less as we expected.”
WILL THE EURO FAIL?
If you look at the economic data, IT SHOULD. But if you realize the world is run by a few bankers who want World Government, with a World Currency the answer is ‘no’.
However, over the last two years, the Eurocrats have suffered badly. The popular resistance, both in the North and the South, is dramatic. Recently, the German Supreme Court allowed Merkel to go ahead with what had been done, but clearly reprimanded her for the lack of democratic legitimacy and the breach of the Maastricht Treaty, which does not allow fiscal or bond cooperation.
What happens if Greece leaves the Euro? Could they ever allow Romania, Bulgaria, and all these other second-rate nations in if even Greece couldn’t deal with the Euro’s dynamics? How would they ever sell World Currency if they cannot even make the Euro work?
Their biggest problem is that they lack all legitimacy. In 2005, France and the Netherlands rejected their ‘European Constitution’ by a resounding 60-40 margin. They pushed ahead with Lisbon anyway, but this was a disaster.
They need the popular vote. The Protocols make clear they need to say: ‘you wanted this, you voted for it’. Without this legitimacy, they face revolt at any time. They can’t push ahead if the underlying treaties and laws were never accepted by the populace.
So when Papandreou calls a referendum and ‘the markets’ and Merkozy are in total shock, what does this show? It just exposes the quicksand under their feet
They know this, but they are losing. They are losing the battle for the mind and they are pushing ahead because they have no other way.
WORLD GOVERNMENT AT STAKE
This whole European mess represents massive crisis for mankind. If the Euro fails, a death blow will be landed on their NWO project. It will take them decades to recover and resume the march to World Government. But they don’t have this time, because people are waking up.
True, the Occupiers are still largely clueless, but in Europe, where austerity is already biting badly, people are being forced to look for answers. There is talk of debt repudiation; there is the Icelandic example and there is of course interest free currency. In Germany dozens of regional currencies are flowering: they report 100% per annum growth.
It is now more important then ever to start talking solutions. We must keep in mind that this credit crunch is a total fabrication that could be solved over night.
Interest free currency is the main solution. Debt free Government currencies are a quick fix, but far from ideal. Much better isPublic Banking, which is interest free credit provided by state-owned banks. But eventually the Illuminati (Masonic Jewish) monopoly of currencies must end.
With the Oceans on the brink of collapse after Deep Horizon and Fukushima, with the Credit Crunch, with (HAARP induced) earthquakes everywhere and wars and rumors of wars its fair to say the NWO is preparing for their endgame.
But seeing their weakness in Europe, the result is not a foregone conclusion.
The challenge is to provide real alternatives. It is not enough to expose them. They expect a fight, but they expect to succeed,because they don’t think we can create the right solutions.
Jacques Attali, another insider: ‘Most of these new contestants will propose no system of substitution… Except for a handful who will propose a return to theocracy.’
So we know what to do. Let’s get going.
Each has attended meetings of the Bilderberg Group, a secretive, invitation-only organization whose annual conferences for the most part remain mysteriously off the record.
A recently published thriller novel, The Ninth Orphan, by James and Lance Morcan, shines a light on the little known Bilderberg Group and portrays it as being America’s, and the world’s, shadow government. The authors claim their book, which merges fact with fiction, exposes a secret elite pulling the strings of various administrations.
Is there any truth behind this supposed political conspiracy? Well, that depends on who you ask.
Conspiracy theorists have long said the Bilderberg Group undermines democracy and influences everything from nations’ political leaders to the venue for the next war; the politicians and industrialists who attend say it’s nothing more than a think-tank, conducted without media coverage so the world’s most powerful can speak freely.
Certainly, it’s easy to see why conspiracy theories plague the group.
Bilderberg takes its name from a hotel of the same name in the Netherlands where the first meeting took place in 1954. Ever since, every Bilderberg conference has received almost complete media blackouts despite being held at prominent five-star resorts.
Conspiracy theorists point out this dearth of media coverage is highly unusual given the veritable who’s who of world leaders and movers-and-shakers in attendance each year.
Other notable US political figures to have officially attended Bilderberg meetings include current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig and Colin Powell, former President Gerald Ford as well as Texas Governor and 2012 Presidential hopeful Rick Perry.
Some say these and all other US attendees have been in direct violation of the Logan Act, a Federal law which prevents US citizens and representatives from making policy decisions in secret with foreign government officials. However, no Bilderberger has ever acknowledged engaging in policy-making during the meetings and there is no clear proof that any of them do.
On the international roster, Bilderbergers have included leaders of almost every Western nation, Swiss bankers, EU Commissioners and Royalty. Among past and present attendees are current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Margaret Thatcher, the King of Spain Juan Carlos I and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip.
Beyond these confirmed Bilderbergers, there’s also a raft of other high profile figures suspected to have participated in conferences – according to the conspiracy theorists at least. For example, shortly before becoming the US President, Barack Obama was rumored to have met with key Bilderberg members at or near their conference venue in Chantilly, Virginia, in 2008.
Veteran Bilderberg observer, Jim Tucker, phoned Obama’s office during the campaign to confirm whether he had attended the conference. A campaign spokeswoman refused to discuss the matter, but would not deny that Obama had attended.
Other rumored attendees include Rupert Murdoch, George Bush, Sr. and George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton also denies having attended any Bilderberg meetings despite reported sightings of her at the locations of the 2006 (Toronto) and 2008 (Virginia) conferences.
Bill Clinton, however, was an official attendee of the 1991 Bilderberg conference in Germany while still a little known Governor of Arkansas; the following year he won the US Presidential Election.
So what does all this mean exactly? Is it just a pile of the usual circumstantial evidence that seems to conveniently support most conspiracy theories?
According to Belgian magnate and Bilderberg chairman Étienne Davignon, that is exactly the case. Davignon says an attraction of Bilderberg Group meetings is they provide an opportunity for participants to speak candidly and to find out what major figures really think without the risk of off-the-cuff comments becoming fodder for media controversy. However, partly because of its working methods to ensure strict privacy, the Bilderberg Group is often accused of conspiracies.
Then again, it is hard to believe the only decisions the world’s elite make at these exclusive resorts each year is what to order for dinner or what time to play golf.
How You Are Always Living In the Past, and Other Quirks of Perception…
I always knew we humans have a rather tenuous grip on the concept of time, but I never realized quite how tenuous it was until a couple of weeks ago, when I attended a conference on the nature of time organized by the Foundational Questions Institute. This meeting, even more than FQXi’s previous efforts, was a mashup of different disciplines: fundamental physics, philosophy, neuroscience, complexity theory. Crossing academic disciplines may be overrated, as physicist-blogger Sabine Hossenfelder has pointed out, but it sure is fun. Like Sabine, I spend my days thinking about planets, dark matter, black holes—they have become mundane to me. But brains—now there’s something exotic. So I sat rapt during the neuroscientists’ talks as they described how our minds perceive the past, present, and future. “Perceive” maybe isn’t strong enough a word: our minds construct the past, present, and future, and sometimes get it badly wrong.
Neuroscientist Kathleen McDermott of Washington University began by quoting famous memory researcher Endel Tulving, who called our ability to remember the past and to anticipate the future “mental time travel.” You don’t use the phrase “time travel” lightly in front of a group of physicists for whom the concept is not a convenient metaphor but a very real possibility. But when you hear about how our minds glide through time—and how our memory provides a link not only to the past but also to the future—you see Tulving’s point.
McDermott outlined the case of Patient K.C., who has even worse amnesia than the better-known H.M. on whom the film Memento was based. K.C. developed both retrograde and anterograde amnesia from a motorcycle crash in 1981. (The literaturedoesn’t say whether he was wearing a helmet, but let this be a lesson.) He can’t remember anything that happened more than a few minutes ago. He retains facts and skills, but can’t remember actually doing anything or being anywhere.
Tellingly, not only can he not recall the past, he can’t envision the future. When researchers ask him to picture himself somewhere he might go, he says that all he sees is “a big blankness.” Another patient McDermott has worked with can explain the future in the abstract, but says he can’t imagine himself in it.
To investigate the perception of past and future in people without brain injuries, McDermott did fMRI brain scans of 21 college students, asking them to recall a specific incident in their past and then envision themselves in a specific future scenario. Subjectively, the two feel very different. Yet the scans showed the same patterns of activity. Areas scattered all over the brain lit up; our temporal perception is distributed. As a control, McDermott also asked the students to remember events involving Bill Clinton (presumably, ones they were not personally involved in), and the patterns were very different. In a follow-up study, McDermott asked 27 students to anticipate an event in both a familiar and an unfamiliar place. The brain scan for the familiar one resembled the one for the act of remembering; the unfamiliar one was the odd man out.
The bottom line is that memory is essential to constructing scenarios for ourselves in the future. Anecdotal evidence backs this up. Our ability to project forward and to recollect the past both develop around age 5, and people who are good at remembering also report having vivid thoughts about the future.
McDermott’s colleague Henry Roediger studies metacognition—thinking about thinking. We express varying degrees of confidence in our memories. How we do this is clearly an issue for the court system. The N.J. Supreme Court recently tightened standards on the consideration of eyewitness testimony, citing the risk of false positives. Roediger pointed out that false negatives get less attention, but are equally bad. The worst eyewitnesses are full of passionate intensity, and the best lack all conviction. In both cases, innocent people can be sent to death row while the guilty walk.
Cognitive psychologists find that confidence sometimes correlates with accuracy, sometimes not. Roediger gave volunteers a memory word test. They had to study a list of words; afterwards, they were presented with a series of words and had to indicate whether each had been on the original list. They also had to say how confident they felt about their answer.
Whenever I hear about such tests, I brace myself for bad news. But Roediger said people actually did pretty well, and their confidence scores tracked the accuracy of their recall. Their blind spots were predictable. They systematically messed up, both in recall accuracy and self-assessment, when presented words that weren’t on the list but were synonyms of ones that were. The findings match what happens with eyewitnesses. We get things broadly right, but are easily confused by similar situations and faces.
It’s not that our memory is a glitchy wetware version of computer flash memory; it’s that the computer metaphor just doesn’t apply. Roediger said we store only bits and pieces of what happened—a smattering of impressions we weave together into feels like a seamless narrative. When we retrieve a memory, we also rewrite it, so that the time next we go to remember it, we don’t retrieve the original memory but the last one we recollected. So, each time we tell a story, we embellish it, while remaining genuinely convinced of the veracity of our memories.
So go easy on your friend who caught the 150-pound catfish. He wasn’t consciously lying, which is why he spoke with conviction, but that still doesn’t mean you should swallow his tale. To confuse is human; to accept we confuse, divine.
Speaking of fish, as neuroscientistMalcolm MacIver of Northwestern once put it to me, electric fish are the fruit flies of neuroscience—model organisms for studying how we sense the world. MacIver told the FQXi conference about his astoundingly comprehensive, leave-no-stone-unturned study of a species of Amazonian electric fish, using everything from supercomputer fluid simulations to an working model of the fish (captured in this video) and even an art installation.
The fish generates an electric field of about 1 millivolt per centimeter at a frequency that ranges from 50 to 2000 hertz. Water fleas, its prey, give themselves away by disrupting the field. (You can build a proximity sensor based on this concept. I use one to control the lights in my study.) What gets ichthyologists flapping is that, when this fish is out hunting, it doesn’t swim straight ahead, but at a 30-degree angle to the axis of its body—a seemingly cuckoo behavior that nearly triples the water drag force.
But MacIver demonstrated that the orientation also increases the effective volume of water sensed by the electric field. The fish strikes a balance between mechanical and sensory efficiency. Generalizing this insight, he distinguished between two distinct volumes around an organism: its sensory volume (the region it can scan for prey) and its motor volume (the region it can directly reach). For this fish and most other aquatic animals, the two are comparable in size—there’d be no point in looking out any farther. A fish’s reach does not exceed its grasp.
For land animals, though, things are quite different: their sensory volume is much bigger than their motor volume, since light travels much farther in air than in seawater. So when our ancestors crawled out of the sea, they gained the opportunity to plan their behavior in advance. No longer restricted to reacting to immediate stimuli, they had time to take in the scene and deliberate before moving. Animals that could arbitrage the difference in sensory and motor volumes gained an evolutionary advantage.
MacIver speculated that this set the stage for the evolution of consciousness. After all, what is consciousness, but the ability to make plans and gain some advantage over our environment, rather than lurching from crisis to crisis? Psychologist Bruce Bridgemanproposed this view of consciousness in the early 1990s. MacIver elaborated in a poston his blog, Science Not Fiction, earlier this year.
The fun thing about neuroscience is that you can do the experiments on yourself.David Eagleman of the Baylor College of Medicine proceeded to treat us as his test subjects. By means of several visual illusions, he demonstrated that we are all living in the past: Our consciousness lags 80 milliseconds behind actual events. “When you think an event occurs it has already happened,” Eagleman said.
In one of these illusions, the flash-lag effect, a light flashes when an object moves past it, but we don’t see the two as coincident; there appears to be a slight offset between them. By varying the parameters of the experiment, Eagleman showed that this occurs because the brain tries to reconstruct events retroactively and occasionally gets it wrong. The reason, he suggested, is that our brains seek to create a cohesive picture of the world from stimuli that arrive at a range of times. If you touch your toe and nose at the same time, you feel them at the same time, even though the signal from your nose reaches your brain first. You hear and see a hand clap at the same time, even though auditory processing is faster than visual processing. Our brains also paper over gaps in information, such as eyeblinks. “Your consciousness goes through all the trouble to synchronize things,” Eagleman said. But that means the slowest signal sets the pace.
The cost of hiding the logistical details of perception is that we are always a beat behind. The brain must strike a balance. Cognitive psychologist Alex Holcombe at Sydney has some clever demonstrations showing that certain forms of motion perception take a second or longer to register, and our brains clearly can’t wait thatlong. Our view of the world takes shape as we watch it.
The 80-millisecond rule plays all sorts of perceptual tricks on us. As long as a hand-clapper is less than 30 meters away, you hear and see the clap happen together. But beyond this distance, the sound arrives more than 80 milliseconds later than the light, and the brain no longer matches sight and sound. What is weird is that the transition is abrupt: by taking a single step away from you, the hand-clapper goes from in sync to out of sync. Similarly, as long as a TV or film soundtrack is synchronized within 80 milliseconds, you won’t notice any lag, but if the delay gets any longer, the two abruptly and maddeningly become disjointed. Events that take place faster than 80 milliseconds fly under the radar of consciousness. A batter swings at a ball before being aware that the pitcher has even throw it.
The cohesiveness of consciousness is essential to our judgments about cause and effect—and, therefore, to our sense of self. In one particularly sneaky experiment, Eagleman and his team asked volunteers to press a button to make a light blink—with a slight delay. After 10 or so presses, people cottoned onto the delay and began to see the blink happen as soon as they pressed the button. Then the experimentersreduced the delay, and people reported that the blink happened before they pressed the button.
Eagleman conjectured that such causal reversals would explain schizophrenia. All of us have an internal monologue, which we safely attribute to ourselves; if we didn’t, we might think of it as an external voice. So Eagleman has begun to run the same button-blink experiment on people diagnosed with schizophrenia. He reported that changing the delay time did not cause them to change their assessment of cause and effect. “They just don’t adjust,” Eagleman said. “They don’t see the illusion. They’re temporally inflexible.” He ventured: “Maybe schizophrenia is fundamentally a disorder of time perception.” If so, it suggests new therapies to cajole the brains of schizophrenic patients into recalibrating their sense of timing.
In the experiment for which Eagleman is best known, he sought to find out why time passes more slowly when we’re scared. Does something really happen in the brain—for instance, the time resolution of perception speeds up—or do we just think it does, in hindsight? After brainstorming scare tactics that probably wouldn’t have passed muster with a university ethics committee, he hit upon asking volunteers to take one of those Freefall or Demon Drop rides you find in amusement parks. They wore a special watch whose digits counted up too quickly for people to register them under normal conditions—thinking that, if perception really did speed up, people would be able to read the digits.
Alas, they couldn’t. Although they consistently reported that the ride took about a third longer than it really did, this must have been a trick of memory; their hyperacuity was a mirage.
Our memory becomes distorted because our brains react more strongly to novelty than to repetition. Eagleman investigated this effect by asking volunteers to estimate the duration of flashes of light; those flashes that were the first in a series, or broke an established pattern, seemed to last longer. This feature of consciousness, like the 80-millisecond rule, explain so much about our daily experience. When we’re sitting through a boring event, it seems to take forever. But when we look back on it, it went by in a flash. Conversely, when you’re doing something exciting, time seems to race by, but when you look back on it, it stretched out. In the first case, there was little to remember, so your brain collapsed the feeling of duration. In the second, there was so much to remember, so the event seemed to expand. Time flies when you’re having fun, but crawls when you recollect in tranquility.
I suspect that this inverse relation in our perception of time also explains how our experiences shift as we age. When you’re a kid, you wake up and say to yourself: “I’ve got a whole day ahead of me. How will I possibly fill it all?” But when you’re an adult, it’s more like: “I’ve got a day ahead of me. How will I possibly get it all done?” And don’t get me started on how people swear that the first year of their baby’s life went by so fast. (A second child is usually enough to disabuse them.)
You can probably tell from my lengthy description of Eagleman’s talk that it seemed to zip by at the time. The physicists in attendance found it one of the highlights of the conference. Not only was it engrossing in its own right, it had some professional interest for them. All theories of physics begin with sense-data. As Eagleman said, “We build our physics on top of our intuitions.”
We also build our physics on a recognition of the limits of perception. The whole point of theories such as relativity is to separate objective features of the world from artifacts of our perspective. One of the most important books of the past two decades on the physics and philosophy of time, Huw Price’s Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point, argues that concepts of cause and effect derive from our experience as agents in the world and may not be a fundamental feature of reality.
Time plays a variety of roles in physics, from defining causal sequences to giving a direction to the unfolding of the universe. How many of these roles are rooted in the contingent ways our brains perceive time? How might an alien being, who perceives time in a radically different way, formulate physics?
Source: George Musser | ScientificAmerican.com
The European Union appear concerned about the new Israeliherem law. The law suggests that a person or an organisation calling for the boycott of Israel , including the settlements, can be sued by the boycotts’ targets, without having to prove that they sustained any damage.
“We are concerned about the effect that this legislation may have on the freedom of Israeli citizens and organisations to express non-violent political opinions” said spokesperson for foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.
More and more people and institutions now understand that Israel is not a ‘civilised society’: it is impervious to notions of human and civil rights, and it also does not share the common and fundamental foundations of a Western value system. Israel is not a democracy and it has never been one. At the most, Israel has managed to mimic some of the appearances of a Western civilisation, but it has clearly failed to internalise the meaning of tolerance and freedom.
This should not take us by surprise: Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, and Jewishness is, sadly enough, inherently intolerant; indeed, it may be argued that Jewish intolerance is as old as the Jews themselves.
Regarding legislation then, how are we to understand the implications of the word ‘herem’? The Hebrew word herem in its contemporary usage refers to a ban, boycott and sanction. However, within the biblical context, the word suggests the total destruction of the enemy and his goods at the conclusion of a campaign.
The emergence of Christianity then, can be viewed as an attempt to rectify such a situation of stark intolerance — it can be understood as an attempt to drift away from The Old Testament’s dark ideology. Christianity introduced ideas of harmony and love. And it is no wonder that the man who dared suggest to his Judean contemporaries to ‘love their neighbours’ ended up nailed to wood. He himself ended up being subject to a vile homicidal herem campaign.
Uriel Da Costa
The spirit of herem is intrinsic to the Judaic teaching and spirit. Many people are aware of Spinoza being subject to a Rabbinical herem. Yet, not many are familiar with the story of Uriel Da Costa.
Da Costa was born a Catholic in 1585 in Porto, Portugal. From an early stage, Da Costa was aware that his family had Jewish origins, and in the course of his studies, he began to consider a return to Judaism. By 1617, Da Costa and his family had decided to return to Judaism, and they fled Portugal for Amsterdam, which was soon to become a thriving centre of the Sephardic Diaspora.
Once in the Netherlands though, Da Costa very quickly became disenchanted with Rabbinical Judaism. He came to believe that the Rabbinic leadership was consumed by rituals and (Talmudic) legalism. In 1624 Da Costa published a book entitled “An Examination of the Traditions of the Pharisees”, which questioned the fundamental belief in the immortality of the soul. The work also pointed out the discrepancies between biblical Judaism and Rabbinical Judaism.
The book was considered controversial and publicly burned. Da Costa was called before the Rabbinic leadership of Amsterdam for uttering blasphemous views against Judaism and Christianity, was fined a significant sum, and subject to herem.
In 1633 Costa sought reconciliation with the community. He vowed to go back to being “an ape amongst the apes.” However, soon enough, he began to express rationalistic and skeptical views again, for instance, expressing doubts whether biblical law was divinely sanctioned, or whether it was simply written down by Moses. He came to the conclusion that all religions were human inventions, ultimately rejecting formalised, ritualised religion. Possibly the first atheist Jew, Da Costa came to believe that religion should be based only on natural law, believing that God resides in nature, which is full of peace and harmony, whereas organised religion is marked by violence and strife.
It did not take long before Da Costa became, once again, subject to Rabbinical herem. For seven years he lived in virtual isolation, shunned by his family and loved ones. Ultimately, the loneliness was too much for him to bear, and he recanted once more.
As a punishment for his heretical views, he was publicly given thirty nine lashes at the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam, then forced to lie on the floor while the congregation trampled over him. The events left Da Costa traumatised, and he became suicidal. After writing his autobiography, “Exemplar Humanae Vitae” (1640), in which he disclosed his experience as a victim of Jewish intolerance, he set out to end the lives of both his cousin and himself. Seeing his relative approach one day, he grabbed a pistol and pulled the trigger, but it misfired. Then he reached for another, turned it on himself and fired, reportedly dying a terrible death.
Zionists and ‘Anti Zionists’ Alike
The record of vile Rabbinical measures against dissidence is staggering. But unfortunately, Jewish intolerance exceeds far beyond religious institutions. In Israel, it seems that Jews imposeherems on each other on a daily basis. The so called ‘Israeli left’ imposes herem on the West Bank settlements (as if Tel Aviv is not a settlement), and in response, the right wing governmentherems the left heremiates .
And as we all know, prominent Jewish critical voices outside of Israel too such as Norman Finkelstein, have been subject to relentless Zionist herems over the years.
However, one may find it astonishing that Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ who claim to be ‘progressive’, godless ‘atheists’ and ‘cosmopolitans,’ also consistently use the exact same Talmudicherem tactics that have been employed by their Rabbinical ancestors for hundred of years.
In the last decade we have come across more than a few Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ herem campaigns. Jewish ‘anti- Zionists’ single mindedly dedicated themselves to the destruction of Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR),which was at the time the biggest and most successful pro-Palestinian organisation in the UK. Monitoring the contemptible language used by Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ campaigners and observing the strategies they implement against fellow anti- Zionist Jews and Palestinian solidarity activists reveals a very grim picture and a repetition of the most horrendous Rabbinicalherem tactics.
But such a realisation and understanding of these Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ tactics should not really take us by surprise, after all, just like the Jewish State, the Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ also identify as Jews.
However, unlike Rabbinical Jews — who at least provide some reasoning for their severe judgements based on supposed transgression of Biblical tenets — the Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ concentrate solely on measures of punishment. Yet such a fact is hardly surprising : whilst hardly any of the so called ‘progressive’ Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ believe in God or follow the Torah — they have clearly managed to draw from Judaism its very worst methods i.e. brute and crude intolerance.
I too am obviously subject to on going and constant herem campaigns, conducted by various ethnic Jewish activists, both Zionist and crypto-Zionists.
However, I am delighted to report that my detractors are not at all successful. In fact, they are by now growing accustomed to learn that their hopeless herem attempts to excommunicate me simply backfire, time after time, leaving them frustrated and more and more isolated from the public discourse regarding the Israel/Palestine conflict.
On reflection, I would conjecture that the growing circulation of my work has little to do with my talent or wisdom though. It is much more simple than that: rather, my perspective on humanism and ethics is probably more straightforward, coherent, inclusive and consistent than the Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ pseudo progressive ethno-centric exclusivism, so clearly manifested in each of their herem campaigns and implicit in much of their writing.
Jews and the BDS
As one would expect, world Jewry welcome the new Israeli heremlaw. According to Ha’aretz, the umbrella organisation of French-Jewish groups in France (CRIF) hailed the new Israeli herem law : “the CRIF’s director general Haim Musicant pointed out that a similar such law has long existed in France, much to the satisfaction of the French Jewish community.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also defended the new law, saying “what stains (Israel’s) image are those savage and irresponsible attacks on a democracy’s attempt to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not.”
Netanyahu sums it up eloquently — the new Talmudic law is there to highlight and establish the terms regarding what is acceptable within ‘Kosher democracy’: it is a non-civilised setting driven by blatantly exclusivist policies. In a very similar manner, the Jewish so called ‘anti Zionists’ often enough claim to know what ‘Kosher anti Zionism’ is all about, and how its boundaries should be defined. Incredibly enough, the Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ also repeatedly preach to us about ‘who is good’ and ‘who is bad’ for the Palestinians.
I presume that by now, the continuum between Netanyahu’s attitudes and those of the crypto-Zionists within our midst is pretty well established, and clear enough for all of us to see.
In April, the renowned journalist and film maker Max Blumenthal addressed some questions regarding the Jewish hegemony within the BDS movement. The BDS is a call initiated by Omar Barghouti and Palestinian civil society to impose boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel.
Blumenthal wrote, “last night I went to Columbia University to see Omar Barghouti discuss his new book, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights… During his talk, Barghouti mentioned that he had approached J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami about arranging a debate on BDS. The response from Ben-Ami was as follows, according to Barghouti: ‘We want to keep this debate inside the Jewish community. So we won’t participate in a debate with any Palestinians.’”
“Last December”, Blumenthal continues, “I debated the issue of BDS against the director of J Street U, Daniel May. My debate partner was Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace. Daniel May’s partner was a Jewish student from Princeton also named Daniel May. Everyone involved in the debate was an Ashkenazi Jew, yet we were debating a movement founded and controlled by Palestinian civil society.”
If you should ask yourself why J Street insists on running the BDS as a ‘Jewish internal affair,’ or why the BDS has become a ‘Jewish call’, here is the answer – the BDS is interpreted by most Jews as a call for a herem, and this is what Jews do best : destroying, excluding, excommunicating, silencing, boycotting, sanctioning. After all, Jews have been doing this for centuries.
But here arises another problem regarding Jewish over representation and control within the boycott movement. As much as many of us sympathise with the Palestinian civil society call, hardly any of us actually want to operate within, or take direction on what we should do and think from a Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ Trotsky-ite synagogue. And as it happens — and this makes me very sad at times — some of the crypto Zionists who operate within the BDS movement are now using this important Palestinian call in order to promote Jewish interests, or to fight other Palestinian solidarity activists.
But I believe that for the BDS to be successful, this movement must be attentive first and foremost to the Palestinian call, and to that call above all others. For the BDS to be effective it must transcend itself beyond the banal herem type activity. It must be a universal call, and managed as a civil society campaign.
Herem, Post Herem and a Joke
Israel and Zionism then, has proved to be a short lived dream. It was initiated to civilise Jewish life, and to dismantle the Jewish self-destructive mode. It was there to move the Jew into the postherem phase. It vowed to make the Jew into a productive being. But as things turned out, neither the Zionists nor the ‘anti Zionists’ managed to drift away from the disastrous heremculture. It seems that the entire world of Jewish identity politics is a matrix of herems and exclusion strategies. In order to be ‘a proper Jew’, all you have to do is to point out whom you oppose, hate, exclude or boycott.
Such a state of affairs is indeed pretty tragic, but it certainly brings to mind the old Jewish joke:
Q: How many synagogues are needed in a village with just one single Jewish habitant?
A: Two synagogues; one that he goes to, and one he would never set foot in.