7/31/09

H1N1 Pandemic: Pentagon Planning Deployment of Troops in Support of Nationwide Vaccination

The epidemic that never was: Policy-making and the swine flu scare

According to CNN, the Pentagon is "to establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, according to Defense Department officials."
"The proposal is awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The officials would not be identified because the proposal from U.S. Northern Command's Gen. Victor Renuart has not been approved by the secretary.
The plan calls for military task forces to work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is no final decision on how the military effort would be manned, but one source said it would likely include personnel from all branches of the military.
It has yet to be determined how many troops would be needed and whether they would come from the active duty or the National Guard and Reserve forces.
Civilian authorities would lead any relief efforts in the event of a major outbreak, the official said. The military, as they would for a natural disaster or other significant emergency situation, could provide support and fulfill any tasks that civilian authorities could not, such as air transport or testing of large numbers of viral samples from infected patients.
As a first step, Gates is being asked to sign a so-called "execution order" that would authorize the military to begin to conduct the detailed planning to execute the proposed plan.
Orders to deploy actual forces would be reviewed later, depending on how much of a health threat the flu poses this fall, the officials said." (CNN, Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak, July 2009, emphasis added)
The implications are far-reaching.

The decision points towards the militarization of civilian instituions, including law enforcement and public health. The Pentagon is already planning on the number of troops to be deployed in the case of a pandemic. A nationwide vaccination program is already planned for the Fall. The pharmaceutical industry is slated to deliver 160 million vaccine doses by the Fall, enough doses to vaccinate more than half of America's population.

Keep Reading...

Restaurants: 22nd Consecutive Month of Traffic Declines in June

This statistic doesn't look so good. 22 consecutive months of traffic declines. Peacenik, Peacenik's self, doesn't go out to restaurants as much as Peacenik used to. And Peacenik has noticed that traffic seems to be off when Peacenik does go out. Bad weather, the economy, low consumer confidence, social distancing, stale menus, debt, fear of crime....lots of things could be sinking restaurant traffic. Peacenik will try and boost the Guelph restaurant index this weekend. Peacenik will collect all the loose change lying around Peacenik's basement apartment, and Peacenik will go out at least once. Peacenik will do Peacenik's part. Peacenik encourages you to do your part. Have a good long weekend.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2228/2447059092_9c0169d65e.jpg

by CalculatedRisk on 7/31/2009 10:10:00 AM

Note: Any reading below 100 shows contraction for this index.

From the National Restaurant Association (NRA): Restaurant Industry Outlook Remained Uncertain In June as Restaurant Performance Index Declined for Second Consecutive Month

The restaurant industry’s economic challenges continued to persist in June, as the National Restaurant Association’s comprehensive index of restaurant activity declined for the second consecutive month. The Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 97.8 in June, down 0.5 percent from May and its 20th consecutive month below 100.

Read on...

7/30/09

Kansas: what a great place to put a lab full of incredibly infectious cattle virus

Lets see. Mad Cow disease, which still makes Peacenik hesitate, before Peacenik eats a steak or hamburger. And Peacenik remembers the pictures of all the burning animals in the U.K. after the last big outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. And H1N5, bird flu, is still mutating in poultry factory farms, and wild bird flocks around the world. And is pork safe to eat now that H1N1, swine flu, is pandemic? Is it safe? Is it safe? Why not put a level 4 Lab in the middle of creationist Kansas? It's safe. Isn't it?

http://www.freefoto.com/images/07/17/07_17_31---Foot-and-Mouth-Funeral-Pyre--Hadrians-Wall--Northumberland_web.jpg?&amp%3Bk=Foot-and-Mouth+Funeral+Pyre%2C+Hadrians+Wall%2C+Northumberland
Foot and mouth disease funeral pyre

Posted on: July 29, 2009 7:25 AM, by revere

When the Bush Administration awarded a construction grant to put a Level 4 laboratory in Galveston, Texas to work on the most dangerous biological agents, a lot of people, including we here at Effect Measure, thought it was pretty stupid siting. Isn't Galveston open to Gulf hurricanes? Wasn't it the site of one of the most devastating storm floods in US history? Then came Hurricane Ike. It didn't seem that a hazardous agents lab could be more stupidly sited than Galveston (see here and here). That was an error in judgement on our part.

The thing about a lot of agents used in Level 4 labs is that while they are extremely dangerous if you get infected with them (Ebola is an example), most of them aren't that contagious. There may be no cure and no vaccine for them and they may be highly virulent, but they aren't that transmissible (see our post on these terms from the other day). There are some viruses that are incredibly transmissible, however. One is foot and mouth disease (FMD). This doesn't usually infect humans but it is devastating to livestock. The US lab that researched FMD was on an island (Plum Island off of Long Island, NY). That's a good precaution, because FMD has a history of getting out of even highly secure labs and infecting livestock. One of the more likely uses of bioterrorism is economic. The US reportedly has tried to do this to destabilize Cuba. The US denies it.

Read on...

Three Good Reasons To Liquidate Our Empire

The rationality of this article resonates with Peacenik. It seems so obvious. It makes sense. But Canada's and America's foreign policy isn't driven by rationality. Canada is going to help pacify the Pashtuns? Then Canada is going to rebuild their infrastructure? (While Canada's infrastructure falls apart). Then Canada is going to insure civil liberties for women, and education for everyone? (While Canada's education system implodes). Is Canada going to insure that everyone in Afghanistan gets a swine flu vaccination? Probaby. Are Canada's, and America's, priorities all screwed up? Of course. Read Chalmers Johnson's historical summary of Afghanistan. What the fuck is Canada doing there? And why? Bring the troops home now.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Ga9VWddYFBA/SZoglWokZmI/AAAAAAAAE1M/xxN-29clcrU/s400/afghanistan.jpg
Afghanistan

by Chalmers Johnson

However ambitious President Barack Obama's domestic plans, one unacknowledged issue has the potential to destroy any reform efforts he might launch. Think of it as the 800-pound gorilla in the American living room: our longstanding reliance on imperialism and militarism in our relations with other countries and the vast, potentially ruinous global empire of bases that goes with it. The failure to begin to deal with our bloated military establishment and the profligate use of it in missions for which it is hopelessly inappropriate will, sooner rather than later, condemn the United States to a devastating trio of consequences: imperial overstretch, perpetual war, and insolvency, leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union.

According to the 2008 official Pentagon inventory of our military bases around the world, our empire consists of 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories. We deploy over 190,000 troops in 46 countries and territories. In just one such country, Japan, at the end of March 2008, we still had 99,295 people connected to U.S. military forces living and working there -- 49,364 members of our armed services, 45,753 dependent family members, and 4,178 civilian employees. Some 13,975 of these were crowded into the small island of Okinawa, the largest concentration of foreign troops anywhere in Japan.

Read on...

Statistical Deceptions

punditman says...While Peacenik grows increasingly uneasy about the safety of a swine flu vaccine, punditman turns his gaze to the supposed "economic recovery" with equal skepticism. As always, Paul Craig Roberts sorts through the haze.

How Fake is the "Recovery"?

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

Last week on NPR a professor in the Sloan School of Management at MIT explained that what is really at stake in the health care bill is the US government’s ability to borrow. In other words, the bill is about cutting health care costs, not about providing hard-pressed Americans with health care.

The professor said that if we didn’t get health care costs under control, in 30 years the US government would not be able to sell Treasury bonds.

It is not at all clear that the Treasury will be able to sell its debt instruments in 30 months, and it has nothing to do with health care costs. The Treasury debt marketing problem has to do with two back-to-back US fiscal year budgets, each with a $2 trillion deficit. The size of the US deficit exceeds in these troubled times the supply of world savings available to fund the US government’s wars, bailouts and stimulus plans. If the Federal Reserve has to monetize the Treasury’s new borrowings by creating demand deposits for the Treasury (printing money), America’s foreign creditors might flee the dollar.

The professor didn’t seem to know anything about this and gave Washington 30 more years before the proverbial hits the fan.

One looks in vain to the US financial media for accurate economic information. Currently, Wall Street, the White House, and the media are hyping a new sign of economic recovery--”surging” June home sales. John Williams at shadowstats.com predicted this latest reporting deception.

Keep Reading...

7/29/09

Guillain-Barre Syndrome after Influenza Vaccination - More Lessons from 1976

In the recent past Peacenik has said that Peacenik would take a swine flu vaccine if and when it is ready. After reading this article Peacenik is saying that Peacenik will do some more research on a given vaccine before getting vaccinated. Peacenik can't ignore the controversies surrounding vaccines. And Peacenik doesn't trust the big pharma companies. Would they rush a vaccine to market just to cash in? Would they market a vaccine without testing it fully? They've done it before. Peacnenik hopes there will be informed unbiased people keeping the public aware of the issues in the inevitable vaccination panic to come. Will those people be politicians? Probably not. Will those people be in the media? Probably not.

So what d'ya'll think? -we gonna get stuck? by illuminating9_11.


by: SusanC
Mon Jul 27, 2009 at 19:45:18 PM EDT


The 1976 vaccine was correlated with an increased incidence of GBS, which, according to a recent study described earlier, may be due to molecular mimicry, between the HA molecule and human gangliosides, proteins that permeate our nervous system.

Ideally one would want to repeat the study and confirm the findings, at least, but we are in a pandemic, and tptb are in a rush to provide vaccines for millions of people. In the absence of further data, is there anything we can learn, even tentatively?

If HA is indeed a biological mimic, it could account for the very small but increased incidence of GBS after flu vaccines in general, and the 1976 one in particular. The effect of biological mimicry is, by definition, dependent on how closely the molecules are similar. To the extent that different HAs from different flu viruses have slight differences in conformation, they would probably have varying degrees of mimicry, such that vaccines made from these HAs may therefore have varying ability to induce GBS. Which is compatible with the varying incidence of GBS reported after seasonal flu vaccinations in different years. (see Haber 2004, Guillain-Barré Syndrome Following Influenza Vaccination)

Read on...

Scott Horton Interviews Juan Cole

punditman says...
There is an unspoken rule that permeates all mainstream broadcasts and most intellectual discourse: namely, we in the West always fight the "bad guys." In fact, we often hear military officials and clownish politicians talk about going after "bad people," and celebrating when we kill them.
How stupid is this paradigm? Are we living in a giant batman movie or what? Never mind that we may be killing innocent Pashtun tribesmen and their families in far away regions that few people can pronounce. Or we may be killing people that we used to support. But never mind these inconvenient truths; we call anyone who opposes us "Taliban," or "militants" or "extremists" or "insurgents" or, wait for it..."al Queda."

The script goes something like this: We "good guys" may be occasionally misguided though our intentions are pure, and though we may be experiencing total confusion and "mission creep" in the Af-Pak War, we are on the "good side" of history. Yet history suggests that we are no better or no worse than any previous colonial force. And we are having a really tough time pretending otherwise as we try to figure out what to do about being knee deep in the big muddy. Juan Cole understands this. Listen to him, for he is wise.

Juan Cole, author of Engaging the Muslim World, discusses the origin and meaning of the Taliban, the conflicting messages Obama and the U.S. military give on why staying in Afghanistan is a good idea, the benefits of an “Egypt solution” billion dollar yearly payoff to stabilize and allow withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s low popular support and territorial control.

MP3 here. (30:17)

(courtesy antiwar.com)

"Recession's Over, Recovery Underway": What's Missing in Action

Peacenik has been consistent in Peacenik's belief that the economy is still in big trouble. But the TV pundocracy has been unrelenting in declaring all is well. This article by Charles Hugh Smith is a nice summary of why all the good news may just be a smokescreen. But a smokescreen for what? A smokescreen for whom? Peacenik sees through the smokescreen. Peacenik sees the biggest transfer in history of wealth from the taxpayer to the corporate elite continuing unabated. Aided and abetted by our political and financial leaders.


U.S. economy

by Charles Hugh Smith

The mainstream media is gleefully hyping "the recession is over, the recovery is underway." Nice, except for everything that's missing in action.

"The recession is over, the recovery is underway." Exactly what will be driving this fabulous "recovery"? Let's check in on the usual forces which have powered previous recoveries:

1. Autos/vehicles: missing in action (MIA). Annual sales have plummeted from 17 million vehicles a year to about 9 million a year, and the U.S. probably contains about 30 million surplus/lightly used vehicles ( a number snagged from economist David Rosenberg's latest report). Modern vehicles can easily last 15-20 year, so the "need" to replace vehicles is rather low. Actual "necessary" replacement might require as few as 5 million vehicles a year.

With unemployment at 16%, assets down by $10 trillion and the FIRE economy (finance, real estate and insurance) in disarray, where does anyone think the consumer borrowing firepower will come from to finance an extra 8 million vehicles a year?

Read on...

Thousands Of China Steel Workers Clash With Police

Peacenik takes note of stories like this one about the Chinese factory executive being beaten to death. In France the modus operandi was to kidnap executives. Peacenik is against violence. Will this type of violence come to North America? Or has the North American worker been so brainwashed that they are unable to act? 30 years of brainwashing will do that to you. So laid off North American auto workers sit around complaining about union workers banking sick days, rather than complain about multimillion dollar bonuses being paid to corporate executives...with taxpayer money. Universal health care? CPP? Old age pensions? Fair wages? Environmental protections? That stuff is for commies.

AGAINST TAKEOVER DEAL

.
Thousands Of China Steel Workers Clash With Police


Some 30,000 disgruntled Chinese steel workers clashed with riot police in protest over a takeover deal, resulting in the death of an executive from another steel company, a human rights group said.

News that Beijing-based Jianlong Steel Holding Company would buy a majority stake in state-owned Tonghua Iron and Steel Group triggered Friday's protest, which also led to 100 people being injured, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said on its website.

Discontent over inequality and unemployment amid the economic downturn has triggered social frustration in China, with many cases of riots by angry citizens. Friday's clash happened in the northeast province of Jilin.

Read on...

7/28/09

Boiling The Frog: Nuclear Optimism Hides True Costs Till It's Too Late

Peacenik remembers all the advertising about heating your house for pennies a day. Now of course electric furnaces are an albatross for anyone trying to sell a house that has one. And all that cheap hydro? Taxpayers are on the hook for billions. Peacenik thinks those costs are cleverly hidden as legacy costs on Peacenik's hydro bill.

So now the world is facing peak oil. And hydro generated electricity is all tapped out. And natural gas is running out. So the Dick Cheneys of the world want nuclear energy. But the Dick Cheneys of the world want the nuclear industry to be fully subsidized by the taxpayer and ratepayer. The numbers don't add up. Peacenik is stocking up on solar lights so that Peacenik will still be able to read when the lights go out. What are you doing?

by Craig A. Severance



There is a well-known story about how to boil a frog. If you try to throw a frog into a pot already boiling, he'll jump out. However, put a frog into a pot and slowly raise the temperature -- and you get frog legs for dinner.

The nuclear power industry seems to be pursuing this strategy, slowly releasing ever higher cost estimates for new nuclear power plants. If the public does not realize the true costs of a new nuclear plant, the industry can obtain political support for the Federal loan guarantees it needs. After the taxpayers are on the hook and a nuclear project is already underway, the full costs will become clear.

At that point, however, it may be too late for taxpayers and utility ratepayers to jump out.

The Frog Jumps: The Ontario Story. Last week the Ontario government put plans to build 2 new next-generation reactors on hold, after it received bids "more than three times higher than what the Province expected to pay", according to a story in the Toronto Star. The only "compliant" bid -- one where the supplier would be sufficiently at risk if costs exceeded the amount quoted -- was reportedly a $26 billion quote from Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd, equal to roughly $10,800 per kW. (If this sounds familiar, recall my January 2009 study estimated a new nuclear project would most likely cost approximately $10,500/kW).

Read on...

7/27/09

Evil Syndicated

Peacenik just got back from a wilderness survival course. Some interesting stuff on mushrooms and the biomass of salamaders. Peacenik was out of the information loop, but did notice a newspaper box headline declaring the recession in Canada over. And Peacenik got some text news flashes from a Punditman correspondent, that in fact the recession was over. Peacenik goes away for one week and all the problems of society are cured. Is it time for Peacenik to admit that Doom and Gloom is dead? By the way Peacenik has CNBC on tv in the background right now. The pundits sound hysterical. Maria Bartolomo is hyperventilating. Apparently there is no limit to the upside. Was Peacenik wrong? Should Peacenik put his meagre savings into mutual funds?

Then Peacenik scanned the blogosphere. The bubble economy is back. Or is it? Was Peacenik wrong? Peacenik thinks the economy is close to absolute collapse. Read Kunstler's take on the stock market. Is Kunstler right? Peacenik thinks so. And ask yourself this. Why would you believe anything that any central banker, or corporate spokesmen or politician says about the economy?



by Jim Kunstler

By now, everyone in that fraction of the world that pays attention to something other than American Idol and their platter of TGI Friday's loaded potato skins knows that Goldman Sachs has been caught at another racket in the stock market: front-running trades. What a clever gambit, done with the help of the markets themselves - the Nasdaq in particular - in which information on trades is held back a fraction of a second from public view, while the data is shoveled to the computers of privileged subscribers who can execute zillions of programmed micro-trades before the rest of the herd makes a move. This allows them to vacuum up hundreds of millions of dollars by doing absolutely nothing of value. The old-fashioned method used by brokers was called "churning," in which stocks were bought and sold incessantly (by phone) from the portfolios of inattentive clients merely to generate commissions. In any sensible society - i.e. a society with an instinct for self-preservation - it would be against the law and the people doing it would be sent to prison.

I'm not a lawyer, but I've got to think that the actions at the Nasdaq end - shoveling the data to the privileged subscribers a fraction of a second early - is patently illegal in the first place, since the whole purpose of an exchange is to create a fair trading space. Where both parties are concerned, it should amount to a plain vanilla criminal conspiracy to commit stock trading fraud. Maybe the larger question is: since when did we become a society lacking the instinct for self-preservation - that is, a society bent on suicide? Or maybe the question is better put to Goldman Sachs's CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Read on...

Government Swine Flu Advisor On Vaccine Maker Payroll

punditman says...
It is merely coincidental I am sure that the UK government’s top advisor on swine flu, Professor Sir Roy Anderson, just happens to be a sitting board member of GlaxoSmithKline to the tune of £116,000-a-year. But never mind, sheeple. Hurry and line up to get your squalene-flavoured shot! Squalene is linked to a host of serious health disorders, including Gulf War syndrome, but once again, never mind that.
-your friendly neighbourhood wingnut.

by Paul Joseph Watson

Many people seem genuinely baffled that western governments are hyping the arrival of a swine flu pandemic as if it’s the greatest threat to humanity since the bubonic plague, despite the relatively low number of deaths from the virus, unaware that the pharmaceutical industry has been intimately joined at the hip with the state for decades.

Another illustration of that fact is the revelation that one of the UK government’s top advisors on swine flu also happens to be a sitting board member of GlaxoSmithKline, the company selling dangerous and untested swine flu vaccines, as well as anti-viral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, to the NHS.

“Professor Sir Roy Anderson sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), a 20-strong task force drawing up the action plan for the virus. Yet he also holds a £116,000-a-year post on the board of GlaxoSmithKline,” reports the Daily Mail.

We also learn that Anderson was “one of the first UK experts to call the outbreak a pandemic,” and has been busy on radio and TV pushing the effectiveness of anti-virals to fight swine flu, without telling listeners that he was on the GSK payroll.

Anderson was also a key government advisor during the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak in Britain which led to the slaughter of over 6 million animals and the complete decimation of the farming industry.

Batches of swine flu vaccine destined for Europe are being fast-tracked through safety procedures and there will be no testing on humans whatsoever before millions of people, starting with children and pregnant women, are inoculated as part of mass vaccination programs.

Keep Reading...

7/24/09

America's Wars: How Serial War Became the American Way of Life

punditman says...The thing that got punditman to start his website and to later morph it into this blog was the impending and subsequent American invasion of Iraq. Think about it: Punditman predates blogs.

The start of the Iraq War is beginning to feel like a long time ago. I think. And yet Iraq is far from resolved or peaceful. Think about it: What has changed in your life since 2003? Most of you will point to many things. But the problem is that not much has changed in terms of American foreign policy. As this cogent article points out, each new president is now expected to never give up one war without taking on another. Welcome to the age of perpetual warfare. It behooves us all to ask, "What is to be done about it?" Have a peaceful weekend.

By David Bromwich | TomDispatch.com

On July 16, in a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the “central question” for the defense of the United States was how the military should be “organized, equipped — and funded — in the years ahead, to win the wars we are in while being prepared for threats on or beyond the horizon.” The phrase beyond the horizon ought to sound ominous. Was Gates telling his audience of civic-minded business leaders to spend more money on defense in order to counter threats whose very existence no one could answer for? Given the public acceptance of American militarism, he could speak in the knowledge that the awkward challenge would never be posed.

We have begun to talk casually about our wars; and this should be surprising for several reasons. To begin with, in the history of the United States war has never been considered the normal state of things. For two centuries, Americans were taught to think war itself an aberration, and "wars" in the plural could only have seemed doubly aberrant. Younger generations of Americans, however, are now being taught to expect no end of war -- and no end of wars.

For anyone born during World War II, or in the early years of the Cold War, the hope of international progress toward the reduction of armed conflict remains a palpable memory. After all, the menace of the Axis powers, whose state apparatus was fed by wars, had been stopped definitively by the concerted action of Soviet Russia, Great Britain, and the United States. The founding of the United Nations extended a larger hope for a general peace. Organizations like the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) and the Union of Concerned Scientists reminded people in the West, as well as in the Communist bloc, of a truth that everyone knew already: the world had to advance beyond war. The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut called this brief interval "the Second Enlightenment" partly because of the unity of desire for a world at peace. And the name Second Enlightenment is far from absurd. The years after the worst of wars were marked by a sentiment of universal disgust with the very idea of war.

Keep Reading (scroll when you get there to find your place)...

7/23/09

Deadly Immunity

punditman says...
Yep, dear reader, you may have noticed that Peacenik is absent from the blog these past few days. You would be correct. He's off at his summer cottage preparing for whatever it is you prepare for at your summer cottage. Personally I drink beer and prepare for nothing when I am on vacation, but I expect a full report in the near future from Peacenik's survivalist compound.
He does have lots of beer, so I assume Peacenik is in a fine mood as he prepares for the end of whatever it is that is ending.

In the meantime, Punditman says that Punditman has noticed yet another article about the dangers of vaccines and yet another Big Pharma/government cover-up. This 2005 article by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. shows the depth of collusion between Big Parma and the US government. Punditman thinks this is highly relevant because of the current "debate" on the swine flu virus, plans to develop a vaccine and make you and your loved ones get jabbed either through mandatory vaccinations under emergency powers or through intense social pressure. Yep, that's what I predict at this juncture. Actually, I've noticed that there's no debate at all going on in the mainstream media. All is well in the corporate-media-medical matrix. It's just online wingnuts like me that are raising eyebrows and sounding alarms.

When your views run contrary to accepted wisdom, the usual progression goes something like this: First, skeptics and critics are ignored. That's the pure censorship phase and this is where we are currently with swine flu. Contrary opinion is 100% absent from mainstream discourse. It is sort of how punditman feels when he mentions the 1976 swine flu vaccine fiasco that led to crippling disease and death for thousands and ensuing lawsuits. He gets that "eyes glazed over" look from unaware, frivolous-TV-viewing folk who pass themselves off as thinking monkeys. Then, if we skeptics get louder, we'll be labeled wingnuts. That's the next step.
Then, with enough pressure, perhaps the powers that be will listen to our legitimate concerns. I think.

Of course by then it could be too late and the damage could be done, with untold numbers maimed by an unsafe vaccine for a threat that may have originated in a lab.

And of course, punditman could be completly wrong too.


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. investigates the government cover-up of a mercury/autism scandal


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.
(June 20, 2005)

In June 2000, a group of top government scientists and health officials gathered for a meeting at the isolated Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Georgia. Convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the meeting was held at this Methodist retreat center, nestled in wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River, to ensure complete secrecy. The agency had issued no public announcement of the session -- only private invitations to fifty-two attendees. There were high-level officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, the top vaccine specialist from the World Health Organization in Geneva and representatives of every major vaccine manufacturer, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Wyeth and Aventis Pasteur. All of the scientific data under discussion, CDC officials repeatedly reminded the participants, was strictly "embargoed." There would be no making photocopies of documents, no taking papers with them when they left.

The federal officials and industry representatives had assembled to discuss a disturbing new study that raised alarming questions about the safety of a host of common childhood vaccines administered to infants and young children. According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency's massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines -- thimerosal -- appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children. "I was actually stunned by what I saw," Verstraeten told those assembled at Simpsonwood, citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism. Since 1991, when the CDC and the FDA had recommended that three additional vaccines laced with the preservative be given to extremely young infants -- in one case, within hours of birth -- the estimated number of cases of autism had increased fifteenfold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in 166 children.

Even for scientists and doctors accustomed to confronting issues of life and death, the findings were frightening. "You can play with this all you want," Dr. Bill Weil, a consultant for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the group. The results "are statistically significant." Dr. Richard Johnston, an immunologist and pediatrician from the University of Colorado whose grandson had been born early on the morning of the meeting's first day, was even more alarmed. "My gut feeling?" he said. "Forgive this personal comment -- I do not want my grandson to get a thimerosal-containing vaccine until we know better what is going on."

But instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the vaccine supply of thimerosal, the officials and executives at Simpsonwood spent most of the next two days discussing how to cover up the damaging data. According to transcripts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, many at the meeting were concerned about how the damaging revelations about thimerosal would affect the vaccine industry's bottom line. "We are in a bad position from the standpoint of defending any lawsuits," said Dr. Robert Brent, a pediatrician at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware. "This will be a resource to our very busy plaintiff attorneys in this country." Dr. Bob Chen, head of vaccine safety for the CDC, expressed relief that "given the sensitivity of the information, we have been able to keep it out of the hands of, let's say, less responsible hands." Dr. John Clements, vaccines advisor at the World Health Organization, declared that "perhaps this study should not have been done at all." He added that "the research results have to be handled," warning that the study "will be taken by others and will be used in other ways beyond the control of this group."

In fact, the government has proved to be far more adept at handling the damage than at protecting children's health. The CDC paid the Institute of Medicine to conduct a new study to whitewash the risks of thimerosal, ordering researchers to "rule out" the chemical's link to autism. It withheld Verstraeten's findings, even though they had been slated for immediate publication, and told other scientists that his original data had been "lost" and could not be replicated. And to thwart the Freedom of Information Act, it handed its giant database of vaccine records over to a private company, declaring it off-limits to researchers. By the time Verstraeten finally published his study in 2003, he had gone to work for GlaxoSmithKline and reworked his data to bury the link between thimerosal and autism.

Keep Reading...

7/22/09

Bitter anniversary for rendition victim

punditman says...As if there isn't enough oppression these days, Punditman read this account in the Toronto Star the other dayof Benamar Benatta's forceable confinement without charge and his subsequent torture in the "good ole USA"and Punditman felt outrage at the injustice of it all. Thanks to the illegal actions of Canadian government officials in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, this man lost five years of his life, not to mention the PTSD he now has. Where is the accountabilty? Where is the redress? Shame on Canada. Shame on Canadians. Here is his story.

by Benamar Benatta

I was the subject of an "extraordinary rendition" from Canada to the United States, where I was held for nearly five years and tortured as a terror suspect, even though I was innocent.

An extraordinary rendition is a transfer from one jurisdiction to another without lawful authority. When Canadian officials put me in the back of a car against my will and drove me over the border during the night of Sept. 12, 2001, and handed me to the Americans without legal authority, their actions fit with the definition of extraordinary rendition.

Today marks a bitter anniversary: three years in my struggle to get answers as to how and why the Government of Canada could have done this to me, in violation of domestic and international law.

Keep Reading...


7/21/09

War Without Purpose

punditman says...This article by Chris Hedges outlines the utter disaster that is the Afghan War. The word quagmire comes to mind. Punditman has said from the beginning that you don't fight terrorists with armies who call in airstrikes that destroy villages full of civilians, or by pushing a button on the other side of the world that causes some drone to instantly vaporize people who did nothing to harm you. It's madness. But that is what armies do. Right from the beginning, the whole Afghanistan intervention, with its changing, nebulus justifications has turned into a series of blunders, scandals and slaughters.

Unfortunately, there is not much left of the antiwar movement because too many people think Afghanistan is a "good war" (unlike Iraq). The Obama Effect has essentially anesthetized critical thought. Was the movement against the Iraq War just an anti-Bush movement? You begin to wonder. Alex Cockburn over at counterpunch, sums up the pathetic state of the antiwar movement, thusly:

Where are the mobilizations, actions, civil disobedience? Antiwar coalitions like United for Peace and Justice and Win Without War (with MoveOn also belatedly adopting this craven posture) don’t say clearly “US troops out now!” from Afghanistan. They whine about the “absence of a clear mission” (Win Without War), plead futilely for “an exit strategy” (UFPJ). One letter from the UFPJ coalition (which includes Code Pink) to the Congressional Progressive Caucus in May laconically began a sentence with the astounding words, “To defeat the Taliban and stabilize the country, the U.S. must enable the Afghan people…”
To "defeat" the Taliban? With a peace movement like that, who needs a war movement? No wonder the war drags on and on. Even Western politicians have begun calls for negotiating our way out of this ill conceived mess.

By Chris Hedges

Al-Qaida could not care less what we do in Afghanistan. We can bomb Afghan villages, hunt the Taliban in Helmand province, build a 100,000-strong client Afghan army, stand by passively as Afghan warlords execute hundreds, maybe thousands, of Taliban prisoners, build huge, elaborate military bases and send drones to drop bombs on Pakistan. It will make no difference. The war will not halt the attacks of Islamic radicals. Terrorist and insurgent groups are not conventional forces. They do not play by the rules of warfare our commanders have drilled into them in war colleges and service academies. And these underground groups are protean, changing shape and color as they drift from one failed state to the next, plan a terrorist attack and then fade back into the shadows. We are fighting with the wrong tools. We are fighting the wrong people. We are on the wrong side of history. And we will be defeated in Afghanistan as we will be in Iraq.

The cost of the Afghanistan war is rising. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded. July has been the deadliest month in the war for NATO combatants, with at least 50 troops, including 26 Americans, killed. Roadside bomb attacks on coalition forces are swelling the number of wounded and killed. In June, the tally of incidents involving roadside bombs, also called improvised explosive devices (IEDs), hit 736, a record for the fourth straight month; the number had risen from 361 in March to 407 in April and to 465 in May. The decision by President Barack Obama to send 21,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan has increased our presence to 57,000 American troops. The total is expected to rise to at least 68,000 by the end of 2009. It will only mean more death, expanded fighting and greater futility.

We have stumbled into a confusing mix of armed groups that include criminal gangs, drug traffickers, Pashtun and Tajik militias, kidnapping rings, death squads and mercenaries. We are embroiled in a civil war. The Pashtuns, who make up most of the Taliban and are the traditional rulers of Afghanistan, are battling the Tajiks and Uzbeks, who make up the Northern Alliance, which, with foreign help, won the civil war in 2001. The old Northern Alliance now dominates the corrupt and incompetent government. It is deeply hated. And it will fall with us.

Keep Reading...

In an Impotent World Even the Bankrupt Can Prevail

punditman says...In this article, Paul Craig Roberts says that the US has given the green light to Israel to go ahead and attack Iran. He also implies that with help from Rafsanjani and Mousavi, the US media orchestrated the Iranian elections as “stolen,” in order to further isolate and discredit the Iranian government, thus making it easier to attack Iran. It's all about PSYOPS.

Roberts then asks whether or not the "naive youthful upper class Iranian protesters have set Iran up for destruction," concluding that the rest of the world is completely powerless to stop it. This is quite a series of claims. But Punditman would not be surprised if they all turn out to be true, because Paul Craig Roberts has a habit of turning out to be correctunfortunately.

Threatening Iran

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Japan did not spend years preparing her public case and demonstrating her deployment of forces for the attack. Japan did not make a world issue out of her view that the US was denying Japan her role in the Pacific by hindering Japan’s access to raw materials and energy.

Similarly, when Hitler attacked Russia, he did not preface his invasion with endless threats and a public case that blamed the war on England.

These events happened before the PSYOPS era. Today, America and Israel’s wars of aggression are preceded by years of propaganda and international meetings, so that by the time the attack comes it is an expected event, not a monstrous surprise attack with its connotation of naked aggression.

The US, which has been threatening Iran with attack for years, has passed the job to Israel. During the third week of July, the American vice president and secretary of state gave Israel the go-ahead. Israel has made great public disclosure of its warships passing through the Suez Canal on their way to Iran. “Muslim” Egypt is complicit, offering no objection to Israel’s naval forces on their way to a war crime under the Nuremberg standard that the US imposed on the world.

Keep Reading...

7/20/09

Now Legal Immunity for Swine flu Vaccine Makers

punditman says...Punditman is amazed at the cavalier attitude that many of his acquaintances and friends have concerning the issue of vaccine safety and the trustworthiness of Big Pharma. When confronted with evidence against the track record of certain vaccines, or the abysmyl safety record of many of these corporations, such as Baxter, they say, "that can happen with any immunization." Precisely. So perhaps there is a better approach to our health, in particular when it comes to something like Swine Flu.

What's more, according to the article below, the first vaccines will be given to the public before full data on safety and effectiveness become available. Our kids of course will be the first guinnea pigs. Wonderful. Punditman predicts that of course the authorities will tell you that everything is safe and will imply that those who refuse vaccines for themselves or their families are wackjobs. You heard it here first.

Punditman says this is going to play out in interesting ways, because he thinks there are millions of people who have read the same articles as he has and share his skepticism. And all are not wackjobs.

So now we learn that these companies will get total legal immunity from any lawsuits resulting from the swine flu vaccine? Punditman says that if you don't smell a rat over this one, then you are obviously already ill. Get help!

by F. William Engdahl

The US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, has just signed a decree granting vaccine makers total legal immunity from any lawsuits that result from any new “Swine Flu” vaccine. Moreover, the $7 billion US Government fast-track program to rush vaccines onto the market in time for the Autumn flu season is being done without even normal safety testing. Is there another agenda at work in the official WHO hysteria campaign to declare so-called H1N1 virus—which has yet to be rigorously scientifically isolated, characterized and photographed with an electron microscope—the scientifically accepted procedure—a global “pandemic” threat?

The current official panic campaign over alleged Swine Flu danger is rapidly taking on the dimensions of a George Orwell science fiction novel. The document signed by Sebelius grants immunity to those making a swine flu vaccine, under the provisions of a 2006 law for public health emergencies.

Not so sage SAGE

That is once the WHO in Geneva, on recommendation of the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group on Immunizations, declared H1N1 to be Phase 6 or Pandemic, automatic emergency health response programs could be activated even in countries such as Germany where reported outbreaks of even “suspected” H1N1 can be counted to date on the fingers of slightly more than one hand.

The WHO’s SAGE is also worth scrutiny. Its Chairman since 2005 has been the UK Director of Immunization at the British Department of Health, Dr David Salisbury. In the 1980’s Salisbury reportedly drew major fire for backing a massive vaccination of children with a multiple MMR vaccine manufactured by the predecessor company of GlaxoSmithKline. That vaccine was pulled off the market in Japan after significant numbers of children developed adverse reactions to the vaccine and the Japanese government was forced to pay significant compensation to the victims. In Sweden the MMR vaccine of GlaxoSmithKline was removed after scientists linked it to outbreaks of Crohn’s disease. Apparently that had little impact on WHO SAGE chairman Salisbury.

According to one independent UK investigator, Alan Golding, who obtained Freedom of Information documents on the case, in “1986 Trivirix, an MMR compound containing the Mumps Urabe strain AM-9, was introduced in Canada to replace MMR I. Concerns regarding the introduction of MMR in the UK are recorded in the minutes of the Joint Working Party of the British Paediatric Association and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) Liaison Group on June 26th of that year. Such concerns were soon to prove well grounded, as reports began to come in of an increased incidence of aseptic meningitis in vaccinated individuals. Ultimately, all MMR vaccines containing the Urabe strain of mumps were withdrawn in Canada in early 1988. This was before Urabe containing vaccines were licenced by the Department of Health for use in the UK…”

Keep Reading...

7/17/09

Grateful Dead - High Time - 3 24 86

punditman says...

You told me goodbye
How was I to know
You didn't mean goodbye
You meant please don't let me go
I was having a high time
Living the good life
Well I know

The wheels are muddy
Got a ton of hay
Now listen here baby
'Cause I mean what I say
I'm having a high time
Living the good life
Well I know

I was losing time, I had nothing to do
No-one to fight, I came to you
Wheels broke down, leader won't draw
The line is busted, the last one I saw

Tomorrow comes trouble
Tomorrow comes pain
Now don't think too hard, baby
'Cause you know what I'm saying
I could show you a high time
Living the good life
Don't be that way

Nothing's for certain
It could always go wrong
Come in when it's raining
Go on out when it's gone
We could have us a high time
Living the good life
Well I know

Fakes Left, Goes Right: Obama's Crossover Dribble on Marijuana Policy

punditman says...As with most issues under this "new" administration, it looks like not much is changing when it comes to US pot laws, even though there is some kind of stated "policy change." It seems AIDS patients, hepatitis patients, cancer patients and basically anyone with chronic pain and illness are just out of luck when it comes to getting their medicine. Those who use these marijuana dispensaries are predominently poor too, and they don't own land to grow homegrown or know people who own land who grow it.

By FRED GARDNER
www.counterpunch.org

Executive summary: Obama fakes left, goes right. Passes to Holder at the head of the key. Holder holds the ball, looking for a cutter. Looks in to Brown posting up, then swings it over to Russoniello on the wing. The Warriors veteran finds Obama behind a screen from Holder. Obama launches from beyond the arc... Off back iron. Rebound, Sibelius.

It has been business as usual for the Drug Enforcement Administration since Barack Obama took office. Attorney General Eric Holder has decreed a "policy change," and some PC (as in Pro-Cannabis) lobbyists and lawyers have hailed that "policy change" as a major victory. But try explaining it to workers at any of the six dispensaries that have been raided by the Obama-era DEA.

"I would have let them in if they would have showed me something," said John W., 35, who came to the front door of Emmalyn's on Howard St. in San Francisco on the afternoon of March 25. "They were dressed kind of like me," according to John, who was garbed in a football jersey. "Once they actually got in I could see that they had bulletproof vests that said DEA on the back. But I couldn't see that from the door. The only thing I could see was a person with a gun. I asked for a search warrant or a badge but they didn't show me either one, they just battered down the gate.

Keep Reading...

Ottawa takes on Facebook, Punditman takes on too much

punditman says...

Punditman noticed the following article this morning in the Globe and Mail: Ottawa takes on social media giant for violating Canada's law. Punditman is not a member of Facebook. Punditman spends an awful lot of time on the computer already for work and for Punditmanish reasons and doesn't need yet another reason to be virtual instead of real. Besides, it appears Facebook has come under a lot of criticism and litigation already. Sounds shady.

Punditman has heard reports from other trusted sources that Facebook can be a kind of creepy experience. Why does punditman need to connect with people he hasn't seen in thirty years? What if he didn't like some of his highschool classmates to begin with? Why does he need new "friends" whom he will never meet? What will these people do for Punditman? Punditman's life is hectic enough. If Punditman gets one more social engagement, online or off, Punditman may one day wig out and hermitize himself. Punditman says that punditman sometimes takes on too much.

Punditman realizes he has no privacy and lost it a long time ago, along with everyone else in the digital age. Some people don't realize it; others don't care. Punditman cares. Just last night at the pub, Punditman succumbed to overwhelming social pressure and was part of a group picture taken for a brewery's website. Luckily punditman was wearing sunglasses and so was peacenik. Who knows what nefarious forces might do with those images? Punditman wasn't particularly happy about it.

Why lose your privacy further by joining some frivolous social media site, says Punditman? There are other ways to get in touch with old buddies. I think. There are other ways to network with new people. I think. So the Canadian government is going after Facebook for privacy violations? Is this a step in the right direction? Or is this a joke, considering the far more insidious encroachments on liberty that have been accumulating in the post-9-11 world? Punditman thinks one commentator on the Globe and Mail article has a good point:
So we are worried about Facebook allowing the collection of personal information. What about the US Government? I would like to know how, with no authorization under law in Canada, mutual fund companies can collect personal information from clients that are US citizens and forward that information to the US government. And, if the client refuses to provide the information, the fund company can confiscate 30% of the client's money (not just earnings mind you, but capital too) and turn that over to the US government. Same thing when one company buys out another and some of the registered shareholders are US citizens.
Punditman does not have time to fact-check the above claim, but assuming it is true, Punditman is not the least bit surprised. Encroaching fascism is coming at us in many forms.

On the other hand, Facebook may be a great Canadian company. Punditman could be wrong.

Canada will have enough flu vaccines to share

This morning someone from the Ontario Campers' Association was on the news saying that summer camps were safe for campers. Peacenik thought for a moment that he was watching a rerun of Jaws when the mayor of Amity refuses to close the public beach for fear of ruining the town's tourist industry.

The summer camps are a warning of what will happen when schools reopen in the fall, just when the fall flu season arrives. Will the teacher even show up for work? Do school boards have a plan? Will bus drivers show up for work? Will a vaccine be ready? Will it work? Will anyone take it? So many questions. And Peacenik has no sense that society will be ready for a new and improved swine flu pandemic tomorrow, or in the fall.



Gloria Galloway

Ottawa — From Friday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Friday, Jul. 17, 2009 09:08AM EDT

Canadians will have a better chance of getting vaccinated against the pandemic influenza than people in many other countries, including the United States and Britain, thanks to nearly a decade of planning for the disease's arrival.

“We're actually in a fairly unique position of having domestic capacity, of having planned for that in Canada now for many years,” David Butler-Jones, Canada's chief public health officer, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail Thursday.

In 2001, the federal government began a 10-year agreement with a drug company that was eventually sold to GlaxoSmithKline. That contract obligates the giant pharmaceutical manufacturer to provide vaccine to every Canadian who wants it in the event of a pandemic.

Read on...

Orwellian Comments - Vice President Biden: ‘We Have to Go Spend Money to Keep From Going Bankrupt’

This article by Mish is interesting for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is the Vice President of the United States raising the spectre of the U.S. going bankrupt. That should really help consumer confidence.

But it was the history about William Calley that really got Peacenik's attention. Peacenik thinks war crimes should be prosecuted. It's called deterrence and justice. But look what happened to William Calley of My Lai infamy. Two days in jail. Three years of loose house arrest. And a lifetime of celebrity status on the right wing hate circuit. 30 years later the U.S. can barely be bothered investigating war crimes. And the right wing hate circuit dominates public discourse.

Orwellian Comments - Vice President Biden: ‘We Have to Go Spend Money to Keep From Going Bankrupt’

http://insurrection68.org/files/insurrection68/My%20Lai%20Massacre.jpg

My Lai Massacre

Inquiring minds are flabbergasted over the latest comments from Vice President Joe Biden: ‘We Have to Go Spend Money to Keep From Going Bankrupt’

Vice President Joe Biden told people attending an AARP town hall meeting that unless the Democrat-supported health care plan becomes law the nation will go bankrupt and that the only way to avoid that fate is for the government to spend more money.

“And folks look, AARP knows and the people with me here today know, the president knows, and I know, that the status quo is simply not acceptable,” Biden said at the event on Thursday in Alexandria, Va. “It’s totally unacceptable. And it’s completely unsustainable. Even if we wanted to keep it the way we have it now. It can’t do it financially.”

“We’re going to go bankrupt as a nation,” Biden said.

Read on...

July 16, 2009: Desensitization

As Peacenik walked to the bus this morning Peacenik noticed swarms of little red ants on the sidewalk. They seemed aimless. Peacenik wondered if these were the new European fire ants. What did they know?

Then on University Avenue Peacenik saw swarms of people, also seemingly aimless. What did they know? World leaders, and the leaders of Wall Street look at people the way Peacenik looked at those ants. 500,000 more unemployed people in the U.S. this week. 500,000 more people who won't be buying new cars or new tv's this week. The leaders don't care. Is society, and peoples' economic well being, and peoples' health as fragile as the ants Peacenik saw this morning? Everyday people choose which information to act on or to ignore. Why did Peacenik notice the ants this morning. Were they a sign? Is a storm coming? Were the ants a warning? People ants. Ants people. Have a good weekend.

by Ilargi



Unknown Hit me baby February 13, 1922
Washington, D.C. Ingenious Prohibition-era fashion accessory, the cane-flask.

Foreclosures. I’ve never been foreclosed on. I can only imagine what it must feel like, be like. Having to tell your little children that they will never see their home again. That they will now live with grandma, or in a smaller place, or a tent.

"More than 1.5 million properties received a default or auction notice or were seized by banks in the six months through June, the Irvine, California-based seller of default data said today in a statement. That’s a 15 percent increase from the year earlier. One in 84 received a filing."

Annualized, that's 3 million homes, or one in 42 U.S. households, which directly affects some 10 million people, and indirectly perhaps as much as a third of the population, with neighbors, suppliers, family etc etc. tossed in.

We’re threatening to become blind and immune to numbers. "Trillion" is a household term, where it never was until 2 years ago, like almost no-one would have known what a tsunami was until one happened, and now everybody thinks they do. The effect of billion and trillion becoming so normal in our daily language, what does it mean to those of us not directly impacted that 10 million of our fellow citizens are under threat of losing their homes?

Read on...

7/16/09

The full US/UK spin on events in Iran

punditman says...What's happening with the domestic Iranian situation lately? Seems to have fallen off the radar these past few days. I think.
Punditman came across an interesting bit of analysis over at Joe Bageant's website, and Joe has been kind enough to allow me to republish, in full, his correspondence with one of his readers on the situation. Punditman didn't ask for Matt's permission (the emailer), but presumably Matt, a self-described "fellow working class (landscaper) lefty in dying rust belt Michigan," doesn't mind a little web fame. Punditman is in agreement with the general ideas contained in the exchange. Are you?

(email sent on June 28, 2009)


Hi Joe,

Am I the only one not celebrating the violent turmoil and chaos in Iran? To me it has the same feel as the phony "color revolutions" that were engineered by the "National Endowment for Democracy", a benign sounding organization that in fact masks a cadre of spooks working to enrich corporate interests by destabilizing governments that don't toe the neo-liberal corporate globalist line.

It appears very much like the neo-cons on the march again, only this time the well meaning naïve "liberals" aren't going to say anything about U.S. imperialism because they are entranced by the super slick public relations machine Obama has. This worries me because at least Bush was awkward enough that many people could see through his malicious schemes, it seems this time around that 90% of the population is going to swallow the endless imperialist interventionist Kool-Aid.

I voted for Obama, and now I very much feel I owe Cynthia McKinney a giant apology.

In your opinion, am I onto something here, or have I read one too many "conspiracy" books? It's very lonely questioning both the "left" and "right" on their celebrations of Iran's nascent uprising, but something just doesn't feel right about it to me, it feels too slick and well timed to be a true spontaneous uprising against the admittedly somewhat odious Ahmadinejad.

Sincerely,

Matt,
a fellow working class (landscaper) lefty in dying rust belt Michigan

------

Matt,

I too suspect the US propaganda machine at work here. Some native Iranian friends tell me the incumbent could very well have won the election because he has massive support from people outside the two major cities -- that millions of Iranians live on farms, in villages and large towns we've never heard of, and support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because he has built roads, health clinics and infrastructure in rural and village areas. They tend to be conservative and more religious, like our heartland American voters that got Bush elected.

In Tehran and Mashhad more people tend to be educated in the western sense, especially the women, and wish for more western style civil liberties. However, these cities are also home to most conservative Muslim immigrants to Iran. One Iranian woman here, married to an American, said she thought Ahmadinejad probnably won (and she dislikes the guy) but the stupid fucking system overstated the margins way too far because, like all theocratic states, they just don't get it asbout the democratic process, just don't know when to quit.

So I dunno. And truthfully, I do not care at this point. Just as the average Iranian doesn't think much about the US, (despite what we are told) I don't think much about Iran -- despite that the media yabbering antagonistically in both countries. We are are among the little guys of the world, misled by the big guys, and much too busy with the struggles of daily life to obsess on political details and day to day machinations of the powerful. I am more concerned with my own people, not the "American people," but the plain old working human beings in this country, and their fate, and global solidarity among them.

One thing for sure, we're getting the full US/UK spin on events that are much more complicated than we are led to believe. For instance, the so-called "Twitter Revolution," wherein Twitter was supposed to have brought hundreds of thousands together in the demonstrations. According to communications researchers, There were less than 1000 Twitter communications during the mass demonstrations, and most of them were the same silly shit we see here. Doubtlessly our agents there are at work, doncha think? Just as theirs must be at work here in some dark corners of the Empire. Or maybe openly in certain mosques.

Anyway, I think nearly all the world's governments are corrupt (some just give the people more for their money), so I'm never much interested in the official version of anyone's news. Including ours.

In art and labor,

Joe

Clinton: US Won’t Hesitate to Use Military Against Iran

punditman says...She's at it again. Everyone's favourite iron lady. As the article notes, the IAEA has pointed out no evidence for the accusation exists, and America’s own National Intelligence Estimate says they don’t believe Iran has an active weapons program either. But facts don't matter. Hilary wants to kick some mullah butt and most sheeple will go along with it, because they are too lazy and stupid to look into issues past the shallow, biased, sycophantic reporting in the mainstream media. Damn, I feel like I'm in a worse mood than Peacenik today. But at least I didn't swear.

Not a Threat, It's a Promise, Secretary of State Tells CFR

In a high-profile policy address before the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the US wouldn’t not hesitate to use its military to “defend our friends, our interests, and above all, our people” during the segment discussing Iran.

She elaborated on the declaration with “this is not an option we seek nor is it a threat; it is a promise.” Clinton also warned Iran that the US offer to hold talks, which she had previously said she didn’t expect to work to begin with, would not be open-ended and that “our willingness to talk is not a sign of weakness.”

Today’s comments are the latest in a long line of bellicose rhetoric coming from the Secretary of State. Last month during a television interview she said that Iran was risking the possibility of a US invasion, citing the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq as a model.

Keep Reading...


It's Wasn't Only Cheney Who Had Assassination Programs: Clinton Did It, and Obama Does It, Too

This article makes a good point. The whole fucking U.S. government is evil top to bottom. If a spy satellite sees a tall Arab in Afghanistan, or Pakistan or who knows where else, they send in the drones. And no one cares about collateral damage. The U.S. has turned the Middle East into a turkey shoot. And unfortunately Canada is complicit. Peacenik says it is time to bring the troops home now.

By Jeremy Scahill, Rebel Reports. Posted July 16, 2009.

Members of Congress have expressed outrage over the "secret" CIA assassination program that former Vice President Dick Cheney allegedly ordered concealed from Congress.

But this program -- and the media descriptions of it -- sounds a lot like the assassination policy implemented by President Bill Clinton, particularly during his second term in office.

Partisan politics often require selective amnesia. Over the past decade, we have seen this amnesia take hold when it comes to many of President George W. Bush's most vile policies. And we are now seeing a pretty severe case overtake several leading Democrats.



Read on...

US Lobbyists with Clinton Ties Hired to Defend Honduran Coup Regime

I guess this is how you do it. A coup that is. Peacenik guesses that Manuel Zelaya doesn't have a hope in hell of returning to power. Not with Lanny Davis greasing the skids for the Honduran military. The oleaginous Lanny Davis was a primary media defender of Bill Clinton's blow job. He also was a big defender of George Bush and Joe Lieberman. oh, did Peacenik mention that Lanny was George Bush's roommate in university. Oh yeah and they're all Skull and Bones guys. Peacenik wonders why society even bothers with the pretence of democracy. It doesn't exist.

US Lobbyists with Clinton Ties Hired to Defend Honduran Coup Regime



Supporters of the coup in Honduras have begun hiring advisers and lobbyists with close ties to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an attempt to strengthen support in Washington for the coup. A Honduran business group has hired lobbyist Lanny Davis, who served as White House counsel for President Bill Clinton. The coup government has also hired Bennet Ratcliff, a public relations specialist with ties to former President Bill Clinton. [includes rush transcript]

Read on....

7/15/09

Doctors to issue 'fast track' death certificates for swine flu

When Peacenik first started monitoring the bird flu there were fear mongering stories that the funeral industry would not be able to keep up with a surge of flu pandemic fatalities. There would not be enough caskets. There would not be enough funeral homes. There would be mass graves. Looks like doctors, in the early stages of the swine flu pandemic, can't even cope with regular death certificates. This does not bode well. Peacenik doesn't want to be buried casketless in a mass grave.

Doctors to issue 'fast track' death certificates for swine flu

A nurse wearing protective clothing, as advised for dealing with potential swine flu patients


Doctors are to be allowed to issue "fast-track" death certificates under Government plans to help the health system cope with the workload at the height of the swine flu pandemic.

Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England, confirmed the planned move in an interview on BBC's Newsnight.

"We want to try and reduce as much as possible the burden of work on doctors and we're considering all sorts of things which wil help with that," he said. "It's one of a number of things that we hope at the height of the pandemic - which we may see in the autumn and winter - will reduce the burden of paperwork for doctors."

Read on...

The Man Who Knew Cheney's Secret

Reading this story about Cheney's assassination squads, caused Peacenik to remember what good movies the Bourne trilogy are. Peacenik wants to go home and watch a Bourne movie right now. But unlike the movies, Peacenik doesn't think there will be any justice for Cheney's assassination squads. Congress cheered when George Bush referred to some executive terminations. Everyone is complicit. The Bush administration, Congress, the media and the sheeple. Everyone liked living in a episode of 24. It took everyone's mind off their problems. They could ignore their rapidly evaporating standard of living. Dick's daughter will probably get elected as president some day. You heard it first from Peacenik.

The Man Who Knew Cheney's Secret



Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh raised eyebrows back in March when he told an audience at the University of Minnesota that Dick Cheney ran a secret hit squad that he kept hidden from congressional oversight.

"Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on," Hersh said at the time. He added: "Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us."

Read on...

Ontario to offer $10,000 electric car incentive

Peacenik keeps asking why Ontario is any different from the bankrupt California. Ontario, Canada's new have not province, is trying to revive the housing bubble and the dead automotive industry. Ontario owns some portion of GM. Peacenik can't remember how much. But a deficit ridden Ontario is going to go all in on electric cars? Is going to give non-existent tax dollars to the public to buy electric cars? Here's what Jim Kunstler had to say about electric cars:

"From a purely practical standpoint, the electric car is absurd. If they were produced on a mass basis, they would crash the electric grid -- assuming that the masses could afford to buy them, which assumes a lot. We simply don't have the electric generating capacity to run even one-quarter of the current car fleet on volts, and building the necessary nuclear or coal-fired power plants in five years is also an absurdity. (Don't expect wind, solar, biomass, or anything else to pick up the slack.) If electric cars were produced as just a niche product for the elite (e.g. Goldman Sachs employees), they would soon provoke the resentment of the non-elite left to the mercy of the oil markets."

Peacenik wonders how desperate Ontario is. This is lunacy. This is Social Credit redux. Who in Ontario, other than the bankrupt government, wants to buy a $40,000 electric car? Ontario can't even keep air conditioners running ferchrissakes.

Ontario to offer $10,000 electric car incentive

The McGuinty government aims to ensure that plug-in or electric cars, like the British electric Citroen C1 ev'ie, will make up 20 per cent of the government's fleet by 2020.


Ontario's government will announce a plan Wednesday to offer purchasers of electric cars incentives of up to $10,000 in a bid to make the environmentally-friendly vehicles more accessible to the average consumer.

The plan is part of the province's attempts to boost the struggling auto sector and position itself at the forefront of the emerging technology, sources told The Canadian Press.

"It's clear that cars are moving in this direction," a government source said.

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7/14/09

Drifting Downward

punditman says...Cogent writer Mike Whitney pulls no punches in this detailed account of what is happening with the US economy. He talks about how the Republicans are trying to sabotage the Obama stimulus plan. He talks about how Liberal economists have done a lousy job of explaining the need for more stimulus (just as the first stimulus is starting to have some positive effects). He talks about how stimulus is not a panacea but a bridge to take up the slack in demand, but it does not work without the political will to re-regulate. He talks about how inflation is the bogeyman that doesn't exist (for the time being). He talks about how the future is deflationary.

Punditman further says that deflation is bad unless you have a stable job, (especially if you have wage increases), no debt, a cash reserve and you don't want (or need) to sell your house anytime soon. As prices drop, such people will laugh all the way to the one pub left in their town, where they will sit around and drink with themselves as they ponder where all the people have gone. But how many people fit that profile? To avoid the worst case scenario, Punditman says certain things need to change starting with wages and a move away from the financialization of the economy, which has caused so much mayhem. Maybe things have to get a lot worse in the US than 18% real unemployment before people's consciousness turns? Punditman hopes for a change in consciousness.

The Deflating Economy
By MIKE WHITNEY

There should be a modest uptick in GDP in either in the 4th quarter 2009 or the 1st quarter 2010. This will mark the end of the current 20 month-long recession, but not the end of the crisis. The blip in growth doesn't mean that the troubles are over or that the economy is on the way to recovery. It simply means that Obama's $787 billion fiscal stimulus is beginning to kick in, giving a boost to consumer spending and generating short-term economic activity. Regrettably, when the stimulus runs out, the economy will slide back into negative territory. That's because the US consumer has crossed an important threshold and no longer has the ability to drive the economy through debt-fueled consumption. The data indicates a critical change in consumer behavior which portends a shift away from the current model for economic growth. It's a whole new ballgame.

From the mid-1980s to 2007, the ratio of debt-to-GDP rocketed from 165% to to over 350%; more than doubling in that same period. The build-up of personal debt follows the exact same trend-line as the aggregate profits of the financial sector; they're opposite sides of the same coin. Financial institutions increase profitability by expanding credit and inflating asset bubbles, not by allocating capital to productive enterprises. Their business model is inherently flawed. Speculative bubblemaking is Wall Street's method of shifting wealth from workers to the investor class. It never fails. It's the reason why 42 states are now facing budget shortfalls, unemployment has risen to 9.5 percent, and $45 trillion has vanished from global equity markets. Financialization has created a global crisis, crushed consumer demand, increased systemic instability, and put the economy into a nosedive.

In the last decade, the shifting of wealth from one class to another has greatly accelerated due to deregulation and the Fed's low interest rates. Stagnant wages have forced reluctant participants into the market seeking a better return on their savings, while lax lending standards and easy credit have seduced workers into increasing their personal debt-load. All of this has been done by design to ensure the profits for the few over the well-being of the many.

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WHO warns of worldwide vaccine shortfall for coming flu season

Peacenik knows not everyone is a big fan of vaccines, and not everyone is a big fan of hoarding, and not everyone thinks swine flu is going to be a big problem. But this story in the Globe and Mail and similar stories in other papers are ramping up a sense of concern. School closures this fall are almost a given. And who gets the vaccine if it is available is a huge issue. A couple of weeks ago there was concern about compulsory mass innoculations. Today there is a concern about vaccine availability. If the vaccine is available. And if Peacenik had access to it. Would Peacenik take the vaccine. Peacenik doesn't like needles. But Peacenik would get innoculated. Would you?

A nurse fills needles with flu vaccine at a clinic in Victoria. The Canadian Press

A nurse fills needles with flu vaccine at a clinic in Victoria.

Caroline Alphonso and Gloria Galloway

Toronto and Ottawa — From Tuesday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Tuesday, Jul. 14, 2009 05:38AM EDT

The worldwide supply of a pandemic influenza vaccine will take twice as long to manufacture and countries could have barely half of what they need for the fall's flu season if current production problems persist, the World Health Organization revealed Monday.

Canadian health authorities admitted that not everyone will receive the vaccine at the start of the flu season, as they scrambled to prioritize which groups would move to the head of the queue. Pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline Inc. is under contract to produce enough vaccine for all Canadians who wish to receive it, but it's unclear how quickly the vaccine will be rolled out and even if most will be vaccinated in the event the virus returns with a vengeance this fall.

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