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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

9 Jan - Night News

Depleted Uranium in Iraq 
From New American Media:

Forget about oil, occupation, terrorism or even Al Qaeda. The real hazard for Iraqis these days is cancer.
Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq. Thousands of infants are being born with deformities. Doctors say they are struggling to cope with the rise of cancer and birth defects, especially in cities subjected to heavy American and British bombardment.
Here are a few examples. In Falluja, which was heavily bombarded by the US in 2004, as many as 25% of new- born infants have serious abnormalities, including congenital anomalies, brain tumors, and neural tube defects in the spinal cord.
The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009 according to Al Jazeera English.
In Basra there were 1885 diagnosed cases of cancer in 2005. According to Dr. Jawad al Ali, director of the Oncology Center, the number increased to 2,302 in 2006 and 3,071 in 2007. Dr. Ali told Al Jazeera English that about 1,250-1,500 patients visit the Oncology Center every month now.
Not everyone is ready to draw a direct correlation between allied bombing of these areas and tumors, and the Pentagon has been skeptical of any attempts to link the two. But Iraqi doctors and some Western scholars say the massive quantities of depleted uranium used in U.S. and British bombs, and the sharp increase in cancer rates are not unconnected.

Robert Fisk has previously written on this subject in relation to the 1991 Gulf War and the Bosnian conflict in 1996:

Uranium - Mining and 'Depleted' 'Agent Orange' for the Ages )

Mobile phone radiation 'protects' against Alzheimer's

The memory benefits of phone exposure took months to show up, suggesting that a similar effect in humans would take years.
The researchers conclude that electro-magnetic field exposure could be an effective, non-invasive and drug-free way to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease in humans.
They are currently testing whether different sets of frequencies and strengths might produce a more rapid and greater cognitive benefit.
Chuanhai Cao, another author of the study, said: "Since production and aggregation of beta-amyloid occurs in traumatic brain injury, particularly in soldiers during war, the therapeutic impact of our findings may extend beyond Alzheimer's disease."
The authors say previous studies have linked a possible increased risk of Alzheimer's with "low-frequency" electro-magnetic exposure like the energy waves generated by power and telephone lines.
They say mobile phones emit "high frequency" electro-magnetic waves that are very different because they can have beneficial effects on brain function, such as increasing brain cell activity.

Sanyo rolls electric bicycles into U.S. market

Eneloop bicycles weigh in at 50 pounds each and the luxury of sweat-free peddling comes with a steep $2,300 U.S. ($2,369 Cdn) price tag.

Dark matter 'beach ball' unveiled
The giant halo of dark matter that surrounds our galaxy is shaped like a flattened beach ball, researchers say.
It is the first definitive measure of the scope of the dark matter that makes up the majority of galaxies' masses.
The shape of this "dark matter halo" was inferred from the path of debris left behind as the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy slowly orbits the Milky Way.


Default dictatorships...


 OK, aside from the fact Canadian tax dollars apparently went to former members of the Bush administration, I initially thought this was too funny.

A former spokesman for George W. Bush received a second sole-source contract from the Prime Minister's Office for American communications advice, according to filings with the U.S. Justice Department. Ari Fleischer was hired for a month last spring to help Stephen Harper receive American media exposure in advance of a critical G20 summit in London. But a second communications contract with the PMO, worth the same amout ($24,500) as the first, was paid out to Fleischer on Sept. 28.
The PMO paid Ari a whack of tax payer dollars so Harper could hang-out with the propagandamongers of the side that LOST the last US election?

But it really isn't so funny. It shows you that modern Conservatives can't ever appeal to group big enough to let them achieve any more than temporary power. They are not even interested in venturing out of their own echo chamber. They therefore must, by default, force themselves on the majority. They preach a good line about small government, which works when they're not in government. But the moment they are, their social ideology is so unpalatable by the majority, they must grow incrementally dictatorial if they are ever to survive long enough to implement substantive policy changes. 

The Airport Scanner Scam

Scan, baby, scan. That’s the mantra among politicians at all levels in the wake of the thwarted terrorist attack aboard a Detroit-bound passenger jet. According to conventional wisdom, the would-be “underwear bomber” could have been stopped by airport security if he’d been put through a full-body scanner, which would have revealed the cache of explosives attached to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s groin. 

The rush toward full-body scans already seems unstoppable. They were mandated today as part of the "enhanced" screening for travelers from selected countries, and hundreds of the machinesare already on order, at a cost of about $150,000 apiece. Within days of the bombing attempt,Reuters was reporting that the "greater U.S. government shift toward using the high-tech devices could create a boom for makers of security imaging products, and it has already created a speculative spike in share prices in some companies."
Which brings us to the money shot. The body scanner is sure to get a go-ahead because of the illustrious personages hawking them. Chief among them is former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, who now heads the Chertoff Group, which represents one of the leading manufacturers of whole-body-imaging machines, Rapiscan Systems. For days after the attack, Chertoff made the rounds on the media promoting the scanners, calling the bombing attempt "a very vivid lesson in the value of that he rush toward full-body scans already seems unstoppable. They were mandated today as part of the "enhanced" screening for travelers from selected countries, and hundreds of the machines are already on order, at a cost of about $150,000 apiece. Within days of the bombing attempt, Reuters was reporting that the "greater U.S. government shift toward using the high-tech devices could create a boom for makers of security imaging products, and it has already created a speculative spike in share prices in some companies."
Which brings us to the money shot. The body scanner is sure to get a go-ahead because of the illustrious personages hawking them. Chief among them is former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, who now heads the Chertoff Group, which represents one of the leading manufacturers of whole-body-imaging machines, Rapiscan Systems. For days after the attack, Chertoff made the rounds on the media promoting the scanners, calling the bombing attempt "a very vivid lesson in the value of that machinery"—all without disclosing his relationship to Rapiscan. machinery"—all without disclosing his relationship to Rapiscan.

Chertoff Linked to Body Scanner Manufacturer

Since the attempted bombing of a US airliner on Christmas Day, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has given dozens of media interviews touting the need for the federal government to buy more full-body scanners for airports.

What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines.

"Terrorism" is frequently applied by governments and by the corporate media to "guerrilla warfare", which is the traditional response of a weaker opponent who tactically seeks out soft targets rather than frontal military assault, e.g. the French Resistance fighters whom the Nazis referred to as "terrorists."
The concept of "state terrorism" is likewise controversial.
The use of terror tactics is common in international relations and the state has been and remains a more likely employer of terrorism within the international system than insurgents....

U.S. contractor worked for "secret services": Cuba

A U.S. contractor detained last month in Cuba for distributing satellite communications equipment to dissidents worked for American "secret services" and is being investigated, a top Cuban official said on Wednesday.

"This is a man hired by a company that contracts for the American secret services and that is the object of investigation," Alarcon told reporters after a meeting of Cuba's National Election Commission.

He said the contractor was part of trend toward "privatization of war" by the United States, which hires people to be "agents, torturers, spies."

Asked if the prisoner was in good condition, Alarcon said, "I can assure you that he is much better -- much, much better -- than the victims of those contractors all over the world."

Since Northwest Flight 253, Team Obama = Team Bush/Cheney, say 9/11 widows

The 9/11 Commissioners would not assign any accountability nor did they recommend that incompetent people be fired. Additionally, there was no urgency by the Bush Administration and/or Congress to make sure that common sense changes were made from “lessons learned”. In response, we asked, “whatWhat the hell? will your excuse be the next time an attack occurs?” Apparently, the same excuses are being used again.
President Obama stated, “This was not a failure to collect intelligence Š it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already hadŠ” With all due respect to President Obama, we have heard these words before.
Watching the press briefing on January 7, 2010 and reading the summary of the White House Review of the December 25 Attempted Terrorist Attack and The Corrective Actions, left us stunned. The desperate attempt by the current administration to convince us that these problems were somehow different from the ones faced prior to 9/11 was absurd. We can tell you without a doubt, these problems are not new at

Is Anyone Telling Us The Truth?

By Paul Craig Roberts

January 08, 2010 "ICH" -- What are we to make of the failed Underwear Bomber plot, the Toothpaste, Shampoo, and Bottled Water Bomber plot, and the Shoe Bomber plot? These blundering and implausible plots to bring down an airliner seem far removed from al-Qaida’s expertise in pulling off 9/11.

If we are to believe the U.S. government, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged al-Qaida "mastermind" behind 9/11, outwitted the CIA, the NSA, indeed all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies as well as those of all U.S. allies including Mossad, the National Security Council, NORAD, Air Traffic Control, Airport Security four times on one morning, and Dick Cheney, and with untrained and inexperienced pilots pulled off skilled piloting feats of crashing hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center towers, and the Pentagon, where a battery of state of the art air defenses somehow failed to function.

After such amazing success, al-Qaida would have attracted the best minds in the business, but, instead, it has been reduced to amateur stunts.

The Underwear Bomb plot is being played to the hilt on the TV media and especially on Fox "news." After reading recently that The Washington Post allowed a lobbyist to write a news story that preached the lobbyist’s interest, I wondered if the manufacturers of full body scanners were behind the heavy coverage of the Underwear Bomber, if not behind the plot itself. In America, everything is for sale. Integrity is gone with the wind.

Recently I read a column by an author who has a "convenience theory" about the Underwear Bomber being a Nigerian allegedly trained by al-Qaida in Yemen. As the U.S. is involved in an undeclared war in Yemen, about which neither the American public nor Congress were informed or consulted, the Underwear Bomb plot provided a convenient excuse for Washington’s new war, regardless of whether it was a real attack or a put-up job. 

Once you start to ask yourself about whose agenda is served by events and their news spin, other things come to mind. For example, last July there was a news report that the government in Yemen had disbanded a terrorist cell, which was operating under the supervision of Israeli intelligence services. According to the news report, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told Saba news agency that a terrorist cell was arrested and that the case was referred to judicial authorities "for its links with the Israeli intelligence services."

Could the Underwear Bomber have been one of the Israeli terrorist recruits? Certainly Israel has an interest in keeping the US fully engaged militarily against all potential foes of Israel’s territorial expansion.

The thought brought back memory of my Russian studies at Oxford University where I learned that the Tsar’s secret police set off bombs so that they could blame those whom they wanted to arrest. 


What the hell?

This is starting to feel like an episode in the Twilight Zone.

Still, there's word the Tories may go further to ensure prorogation becomes routine.  Government sources say they're contemplating formally shutting down Parliament at the end of every year, so the government can start afresh with a throne speech and a budget.

Do it often enough, it becomes routine, and people come to believe it's the norm.  Normal to kill any work still on the table and start all over again just to kill the same bills the following year.  Normal to incurr waste of taxpayers dollars on wasted bills.  Normal to wipe the slate clean of work done by committees studying abuses and scandals.

Sort of like going to confession on a regular basis:  wipe your sins away without coming to terms with them or being held accountable so that you can go out and commit a whole new set of sins, repeat some of the same ones, secure in the knowledge that never, ever will you be held accountable.

The role of elected representatives will erode further if the federal government makes good on its suggestion to make prorogation an annual event, experts say.   "It's not easy to see how this can work," said David Mitchell, president of the Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum. "It raises the question: Why do we have a Parliament?" 

Killing Organizers in Honduras

The bodies of slain activists are piling up in Honduras. While it's being kept quiet in most Honduran and international media, the rage is building among a dedicated network of friends spreading the word quickly with the tragic announcement of each compañero/a.
Now that the world heard from mainstream news outlets such as the New York Times of a “clean and fair” election on Nov. 29 (orchestrated by the US-supported junta currently in power), the violence has increased even faster than feared.
The specific targets of these killings have been those perceived as the biggest threats to the coup establishment. The bravest, and thus the most vulnerable: Members of the Popular Resistance against the coup. Their friends and family. People who provide the Resistance with food and shelter. Teachers, students, and ordinary citizens who simply recognize the fallacy of an un-elected regime taking over their country. All associated with the Resistance have faced constant and growing repercussions for their courage in protesting the coup. With the international community given the green light by the US that democratic order has returned via elections, it’s open season for violent forces in Honduras working to tear apart the political unity of the Resistance Front against the coup.
The killings are happening almost faster than they can be recorded.

Pavón and other human rights leaders in Honduras have been extremely vocal in denouncing these atrocities, but the story has remained under the radar for most Hondurans and almost all international media. At the time when Hondurans most need exposure to these abuses, they’ve been left to fend for themselves.
How did this happen? Why are people being randomly executed in dark corners of the country for simply standing in opposition to a military coup?
Most of the bloodshed is on the hands of coup president Roberto Micheletti and other leaders of the regime. However, President Barack Obama and the US State Department played a major role in allowing conditions to get to this point. The US government took no concrete action against the thousands of documented violations since the coup took place June 28. It’s no shock that the violence has worsened dramatically with the eyes of the world now averted.

When Does It Become Genocide?

During a visit to Ramallah a year ago while the Israeli bombardment of Gaza was underway, I shared my fears with a close Palestinian friend. "It may sound insane, but I think the Israelis' real objective is to see them all dead."My friend told me not to be silly, the assault was horrific, but it was not mass killing. I said that wasn't the issue: This was a population already very vulnerable to disease, ill-health, and malnutrition after years of siege, with its infrastructure rotted, its water and food contaminated. Israel's war would surely push the people over the brink, especially if the siege was maintained -- as it has been.
In other words, Israel would not directly kill tens of thousands of Palestinians, but it would create the conditions for tens of thousands to die. Any epidemic could finish the job. My friend fell silent at these words, but still shook his head in disbelief.
Two things have changed since last year: More people have started to apply the term "genocide" to what Israel is doing to Gaza. And not only is Israel being directly accused but also, increasingly, Egypt.
Is it genocide? "The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" -- a clear, concise document adopted by the United Nations in December 1948 -- states that genocide is any of five acts committed "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."
Three acts appear to apply to the situation in Gaza: "(a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."

Mutant toads discovered in Gladstone

CQUniversity researcher Dr Scott Wilson has examined more than 6000 toads in CQ, most from Gladstone, and said close to 10% of those had abnormalities.
In a normal toad population, Dr Wilson said only 1% or 2% of the amphibians had defects.
The research fellow, based in Gladstone, said the results of the year-long study were concerning because up to half are believed to have been caused by chemicals in the environment.
Dr Wilson said the porus skin that frogs and toads had allowed them to work like a canary in a coal mine.
Because the amphibians adapt to their environment, Dr Wilson said the results from Gladstone showed there was something in the Central Queensland environment that was causing bizarre abnormalities in toads.

A common stomach complaint known as ‘phowa’ affects up to 80% of the exiled Tibetan population.
The term phowa describes painful stomach disorders like ulcers, gastritis and reflux and several years ago one of the monks visiting Australia was diagnosed with the bacteria helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) as the cause of his problems.
H.pylori is a common bacterium that lives in the stomach, but it eluded medical science for many years. In 2005 two Australian scientists, Dr Robin Warren and Dr Barry Marshall, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering it and the link with stomach ulcers.
Last November Maureen and a medical team ran a pilot program to test about 60 monks back in the Dharamsala monastery and as expected, the tests showed that an incredibly high proportion of the population had the bacteria. It can be treated with a simple course of antibiotics.
“It was incredibly successful,” Maureen said. “78% of people tested positive and were promptly treated. Within seven days people who had been suffering for 20 years were basically cured. We had a 100% success rate (for those treated). It was an excellent result.”
Maureen is now hoping to go back in April to run a much bigger program that would involve testing all 500 monks at the monastery and about 2200 people at a nearby school.

Mideast Water Crisis Brings Misery, Uncertainty

The Middle East is facing its worst water crisis in decades. For three summers, the annual rains have failed to come. Farmland has dried up across the region in Iraq, Syria, southeast Turkey and Lebanon.More than 160 villages are abandoned now in Syria alone. According to a United Nations report on the drought, 800,000 people have lost their livelihood. Hundreds of thousands left once-fertile land that turned to dust and pitched tents near the big cities, looking for any kind of work.

Syria and Iraq blame Turkey's huge network of dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for reducing water supplies by 50 percent.
Turkey is the site of the headwaters of a river system that Syria and Iraq depend on. An informal agreement determines the flow downstream.
"When we had bad relations with Turkey, they reduced the flow of water despite the agreement, and now, thank God, we have excellent relations with Turkey, and hopefully, we will not see any cutoff of water," Sukkar says.
Turkey says there is enough water for everyone, but Syria and Iraq waste their share. Amery, the water expert, says the Turks are partly right.
"The issue is water but it goes far beyond water," he says.
Amery says the key to head off a water crisis is more efficient management of a scarce resource. But he adds politics, not climate, is the problem.
"A lot of Arabs believe that Turkey is trying to assert itself as a regional superpower," he says, "and water is being used as a tool to advance that interest."
Turkey is a water superpower because the headwaters of the great rivers — the Tigris and Euphrates — are in the Turkish mountains. Over the years, the Turks have built dozens of dams limiting the flow to the Arab world downstream.
Between 2007 and 2008, the drought forced residents to abandon about 160 villages in Syria and scores of villages in Iraq.
This week, Turkey and Syria agreed to joint management of some water resources, after being at odds for years.
Hat Tip :  Josh Landis at Syria Comment

The sky comes alive in Evans Heads

This weekend the skies over Evans Head will again roar with the sound of many  old aircraft as part of the annual Great Eastern Fly-In. www.greateasternflyin.com.

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