Saturday, July 31, 2010
When we look at all the figures, from where the debt economy has been going for years, to the way the specific meltdown occurred and was carried out, to what's looming on the horizon, how isn't this deliberate? I've yet to see the question asked: with increasing computer power and quality of techniques why aren't 'we' getting better at sustainable economics? Where is our age of prosperity? Increased computational power shouldn't mean decreased prosperity for all... unless it's being used to deliberately plunder the masses.
This trend has been accelerating almost directly in line with accelerating technological change and the ever increasing collective power of the computers of those at the commanding heights.
Not even boosts in personal productivity from cell phones has managed to allow the populace to try and keep pace with the growing plutocrat oligarchs:
This is simple, and complex. Simple Answer: The economic war has been underway for many years, but until more recently it was a slow crawling menace. Until the mid-2000's it was more of a scheme to cheat the masses, to keep us undermined yet just happy enough to not really notice the gradual decline. However, over the past few decades it has increased at an alarming rate, incidentally in line with computational increase. Until about 5 years ago it was mostly a plundering of the nation, and right about when that was finished, and when we were all unwittingly at our weakest ever, and when the technology was in place to pull it off, and with a new level of motivation never seen before, the plutocrats went for the jugular of the masses directly and then furthered their cause by instituting TARP "bailouts".
YouTube LinkThis came as a one-two punch: (1) They triggered the sea of debt into a tsunami by imploding the Property Price Index (engineered housing bubble), which directly plundered the 'wealth' of those who bought into the con.
(2) Oil price gauging. Completely manufactured fuel price hikes. Virtually everything we use is made from petroleum distillates & derivatives, and is then transported using petroleum based fuels. Triple the price of fuel, by design considering the actual cost and production of oil had never changed, and spike the prices of almost literally everything we all take for granted.
The timing of these 2 events is what to focus on. The fuel crisis was ratcheted up right in line with the increasingly looming 'pop' of the housing bubble, which squeezed everyone, especially the poor and the newly damned. Complex Analysis: Not only has the global economy imploded rather dramatically, all the hard numbers point towards an inevitable total collapse, especially in the USA. The Federal Reserve and EU Bank are both privately owned institutions, and there's no debating this fact. The Federal Reserve in particular was at the heart of the US economic meltdown, which brought the rest of the world with it. These institutions are literally at the helm of each federal economy, and aren't subject to being audited. They're above each government, just the same as your local city government is subject to the state government, and the state to the federal government. The global banking scheme is seemingly leading the world into a post-apocalyptic nightmare. How is this possible? Today we have increasingly powerful computers of all different sizes, yet the more powerful our computing hardware and software becomes the faster we're falling into the abyss, instead of rising to an economic utopia. Computers clearly aren't helping the system maintain a balanced budget sheet, while when you look at the graphs it appears they're helping the elitist plutocracy to plunder the nations. Ask yourself how in the face of everything that's happened in the past few year, billionaires increased in numbers and profits at a record rate in 2009 (Link 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). What a trillion dollars looks like in $100 bills:
Many people put all of the blame of our current woes on the housing bubble, but a more realistic view is that that crisis only sped up the inevitable. The massive spending associated with bailouts and stimulation merely put off even longer the inevitable. The longer this inevitable is put off the harder the crash will be. Just look at the numbers. Spending got us into the mess, so in response they spend and loan even more. Like it's going out of style... literally.
It wasn't originally designed to implode, despite that being how it looks today, but it's always been designed to leech away the self-reliable wealth of those with less. The less you have the more it hurts you... is and always has been the purpose of the privately owned Federal Reserve bank. The mechanism responsible is inflation.
When the value of the dollar is deliberately reduced every year it creates a situation where you have to set up your surplus finances in ways that will hedge against the inflationary dollar devaluation. During 'normal' times, you could invest your money into your home or other property and as the value of the dollar goes down the value of the property would go up. This is just the opposite with automobiles which helps explain why social engineering has us all obsessing with dumping all of our money into our cars that are worth $10,000 less the day you drive it off the lot. Everybody's primary financial concerns should be in how to position their earnings against inflation, not new spinner rims.
Now what happened with the housing meltdown is the big trend that makes it hard to believe that the design wasn't to rob almost literally all of the populace, as normally the best thing the little guy can do is invest in his property so that he can fight off inflation. All those years most people thought their house was somehow naturally going up in value, in reality the dollar was going down in value and the markets knew it. Except now the value of our homes has plummeted, it's unsafe to even invest in property, endless millions refinanced their homes and now owe more than the property is worth, and some 60% of US national assets have been absorbed by the Federal Reserve and the Big 6 banking cartel that are the majority stock holders in the "Fed".
YouTube LinkThe other catalyst of the economic downturn was the fuel price crisis. It served as the 1-2 punch to the entire global economy. In the graph above you can see that the more fuel consumption went down the more the price went up. This is the opposite of how the market works, proving massive manipulation. What's important about is it happened directly parallel to the housing collapse, which made its effects substantially worse than if it occurred in 1999. Assuming it was deliberate, what does this tell you about the titans of Wall Street and their disdain for the global populace? [edit on 28-7-2010 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss]
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reply posted on 28-7-2010 @ 04:07 AM by IgnoranceIsntBlisss
That graph shows that neither oil production nor inventory had ever changed in ways to justify the spike in prices. On the contrary, inventories went up while consumption was down while mass scale price gouging like never before was in full effect. The answer for how this happened was market speculation. The big banks and hedge funds in effect 'all' got together and continuously bet in large scale that oil prices would go up, and sure enough that's what happened. The costs of everything went up, people were broke, major institutions absorbed by the government & banks, the property markets crashed, and now the inevitable collapse is out in the open for everyone to see.
YouTube LinkNote that during the peak of the oil crisis Obama actually went on the record saying that 'fuel' prices should be artificially increased so that people would use less fossil fuels. Now he didn't say to raise oil prices in that particular quote, but inherently that is the overall goal of Cap'N Trade type policies, and we all had a devastating test run during the artificial fuel crisis. Can anyone say they were glad the test run of Cap & Trade happened?
YouTube LinkObama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is a Federal Reserve agent, being the former president of the New York branch Federal Reserve Bank. Other Federal Reserve agents in the Obama Administration include Paul Volker, Christina Romer, Alan Blinder, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers.As with 9/11, Bush ignored all of the warnings of the looming 'economic 9/11'. His Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, a key player in the economic meltdown. Goldman has embraced the world of AI, with sophisticated AI supercomputers that utilize learning algorithms to conduct "high frequency trading" that allows them to literally cheat at the stock trading game, and in all likelihood conduct operations such as artificially raising global fuel prices. Goldman Sachs agents in the Obama's inner circle include Gary Gensler, John Corzine, Rahm Emanuel, Mark Patterson, Neel Kashkari, Reuben Jeffery III and apparently even Elana Kagen. During the economic disaster, Goldman executives cheered their results, emails went on to show. All throughout the crisis, Sachs reaped billions of dollars in record profits while the rest of the world economy has floundered. In July of 2010 Sachs was fined the record amount of $550 million by the SEC for their role in the Subprime fiasco. The same day their stocks actually went up 5% as those in the game know how much evil they had committed, and were relieved at only having to pay a mere $550 million. Days after the settlement, Sach's put aside $9 billion for employee bonuses. Sachs was Obama second largest campaign contributor, funneling him $994,795, 7 times what Enron famously gave to Bush. His other top contributors included Google, Harvard, University of California, Microsoft, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Stanford, IBM, Morgan Stanley, BP and General Electric.
YouTube LinkThese people are textbook "Disaster Capitalists", those whose portfolios are stacked to reap profits and success in their goals via the mass scale suffering of others. It's no secret that BushCo. was a regime of disaster capitalists, but ObamaCo. is too. Rahm Emanuel and Hillary Clinton have made public statements condoning the capitalization of crisis. The notorious Henry Kissinger said the economic crisis was a "great opportunity" for Obama to create a "new world order."
YouTube LinkDisaster capitalists are amongst the greatest threat to the world, as having people set up to reap profits ranging from millions to trillions sets a precedent of why would they prevent the crisis, especially if there are agendas that transcend money. "Problem Reaction Solution" is the mechanism to our undoing. Between the agents from the Federal Reserve many of the key players in the economic meltdown are all accounted for. On top of everything above, Larry Summers, under Bill Clinton, played a key role in repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, which was set up after the first Great Depression to prevent it from happening again. He also helped deregulate derivatives, for which there is now a one quadrillion dollar bubble. After the modern collapse had already begun, Obama made him a top level adviser.
YouTube LinkThe Federal Reserve was the centerpiece of the housing bubble, as well as in serving as the vehicle to enable Congress to commit runaway spending that involves endless wars and the AGI Manhattan Project. In the meltdown aftermath, Obama moved immediately to hand the bankster monolith even more power, and the Congress banished Ron Paul's legislation that would have given the Congress for the first time the ability to audit the Federal Reserve to bring to light their deeds.
These players are amongst those at the forefront of setting up a total plutocracy. In a plutocracy the wealthy rule everything, as described by an infamous leaked Citigroup memo. The mentality of the classical elitist must be discussed. They tend to be Social Darwinists, who apply Darwinist theory to sociology. In their view it's their divine role to dominate those beneath them, at the top of the food chain as the fittest to survive. This class of elites are their own social group, much like how most ordinary people identify themselves with race, political party, music scene, and so on. This social group adherence transcends the everyday social group affiliations the rest of us know, and elitist propaganda has us all wanting to identify with them to subconsciously justify their types of actions.
So we're in the middle of a collapse that by all measures looks deliberate, that was caused by private stock holders, who made unfathomable amounts of cash on the ways up and down, and were handed trillions of unaccountable dollars in "bailout" money in the aftermath. Despite all of this, there's still this push for a near-trillion dollar military budget (in the US alone), along with a global government based on a multi-trillions dollar global carbon tax, and even a mandatory "health care" obscenity that might cost trillions overall, yet somehow we're not to come to the conclusion that there's a total economic world war being waged against us?
YouTube LinkThanks for viewing. Let me know if I missed anything, please. . [edit on 28-7-2010 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss]
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Friday, July 30, 2010
31 July 2010, by Julia Angwin and Tom MCGinty (The Wall Street Journal)
The largest U.S. websites are installing new and intrusive consumer-tracking technologies on the computers of people visiting their sites—in some cases, more than 100 tracking tools at a time—a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.
The tracking files represent the leading edge of a lightly regulated, emerging industry of data-gatherers who are in effect establishing a new business model for the Internet: one based on intensive surveillance of people to sell data about, and predictions of, their interests and activities, in real time.
The Journal's study shows the extent to which Web users are in effect exchanging personal data for the broad access to information and services that is a defining feature of the Internet.
In an effort to quantify the reach and sophistication of the tracking industry, the Journal examined the 50 most popular websites in the U.S. to measure the quantity and capabilities of the "cookies," "beacons" and other trackers installed on a visitor's computer by each site. Together, the 50 sites account for roughly 40% of U.S. page-views.
The 50 sites installed a total of 3,180 tracking files on a test computer used to conduct the study. Only one site, the encyclopedia Wikipedia.org, installed none. Twelve sites, including IAC/InterActive Corp.'s Dictionary.com, Comcast Corp.'s Comcast.net and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.com, installed more than 100 tracking tools apiece in the course of the Journal's test.
Straight, IncorporatedBy Pete Brady, story and photos - Monday, November 12 2001
In 1982, Leigh Ann Bright was a rebellious teenager who used marijuana and alcohol. Her mom told her she had to talk to counselors at a St Petersburg, Florida drug rehab institution called Straight, Incorporated.
A week before her 15th birthday, Bright went to Straight's building, a converted warehouse. She began chatting with two other teenaged girls, who suddenly announced that they were "peer counselors" who believed Bright had a "serious drug problem" requiring long-term treatment. They told Bright to sign a form agreeing to participate in Straight's residential rehab program. She tried to get out of the room and asked to speak to her parents. She was prevented from exiting. Other Straights joined in, telling Bright she would be "court ordered into the program" unless she signed the consent form.
"They said I could leave after 14 days," Bright recalled recently.
Now a 33-year-old accountant who worked full time while earning two bachelor's degrees, Bright says she is "haunted" by what happened to her in Straight's warehouse nearly 20 years ago.
For six months, not 14 days, Bright was sequestered in the Straight program against her will, without a shred of peace or privacy, without permission to communicate freely with the outside world.
"I was crying and desperate. I was a prisoner," she says.
Going to the bathroom, showering, getting dressed, sleeping, eating - the youngster's most intimate acts were monitored by Straight staffers, most of whom were troubled teens who had been in the program longer than her.
During the day, Bright and hundreds of other youngsters were forced to participate in bizarre rituals. They were required to write "moral inventories," detailing how drugs and sex "ruined" their lives. They sat through hours of lurid encounter group sessions in hot, unventilated rooms, listening to emotional discussions and Straight's Orwellian philosophy.
Bright felt she had been kidnapped by a cult-like organization.
"Straight had its own really weird lingo and some group customs," Bright recalls, describing fellow inmates who jumped around, frothed at the mouth, and waved their arms in reckless abandon during surreal "motivational-confessional" sessions in which they were compelled to publicly disclose their deepest, darkest secrets.
Girls and boys were in separate areas of a large room during these sessions.
"You could hear the boys complaining about being sexually abused," Bright said. "It was like any prison - if somebody wants you and can overpower you, you're fair game. Their stories were horrible."
Every evening, Bright was taken under watch to "foster homes" run by families that had daughters in Straight. Parents of "Straightlings," as Bright now calls them, were required by Straight to be wardens of "newcomers" like Bright. Suburban homes were used as de facto prisons where Bright was watched closely by a veteran Straightling, called an "oldcomer," and her parents, until the sun came up and she was transported back to the warehouse.
The young girl's life became a blur of torment and depression. She begged her captors to allow her to leave. "You're not going anywhere until you are cured," they told her. "We can do whatever we want to."
"They wanted us to do hours of military-style exercises," Bright recalls. "I'd get exhausted. The oldcomers vilified me. They'd circle around and begin hitting me. They knocked me around like a beachball. They threw me on the ground. They sat on me. They bruised me. I have a permanent injury from what they did, but they did a lot worse to other kids. They broke kids' bones and bloodied them up. They drove kids to attempt suicide. Brutality was part of their program. They called it 'tough love.'"
Once, when Bright got angry and refused to cooperate with her torturers, she was made to stand in front of a group of snarling oldcomers hurling verbal abuse at her. She fought back, and was thrown to the ground by Dr Miller Newton, Straight's director.
"Miller Newton terrified me," Bright explained. "He was tall and had a lot of weight on him. When he got angry, his face would get red underneath his beard. He was physically abusive to a lot of kids, the most frightening man I've ever known. He grabbed me by the hair and threw me. Then he gave the order to 'marathon' me, which was what they did if they really wanted to mess you up. For three days and nights, they refused to give me food or let me sleep. When I went to the foster home, the girl told her mother, 'She's being marathoned, we have to keep her awake.' I hoped her mother would have some compassion, but she just went along with it. They stayed up all night in shifts preventing me from sleeping."
Bright constantly thought of escape. Other Straight victims won freedom by crashing through a window or leaping out of a moving car, but Bright didn't want to injure herself, she just wanted to tell her parents how desperate she had become, and that Straight was not providing any of the professional counseling or medical services that her parents were paying for.
"Straight told parents that if your kids tell you they are being assaulted, it's a lie, all druggies are liars," Bright says. "I begged my mother to put me in juvenile detention or some hospital, anywhere but back in Straight. They required my parents to be involved in Straight parent sessions. They took a ton of money from my family. Straight was all about money. They kept you until the money ran out. Straight was a for-profit prison, but it was also a twisted, abusive family."
Even if Leigh Ann Bright's story was an isolated anecdote, it would still be deeply troubling. But Bright's nightmarish allegations are corroborated by lawsuits filed by dozens of Straight survivors, and by reports from hundreds of juveniles who claim they were abused in drug treatment programs across the US.
Other former Straight inmates have committed suicide, assisted government investigations, and gone public with allegations including sexual abuse of minor males, assault of a female client who says oldcomers raped her with a curling iron for not writing her moral inventory, the breaking of a girl's finger because she refused to "confess" that she had a drug problem, and a practice in which kids were encouraged to spit on newcomers.
In 1983 a federal jury found Straight criminally guilty of holding a college student named Fred Collins against his will for five months, and awarded him $220,000. In 1990, a judgment of $721,000 was awarded to a woman who alleged that Miller Newton had thrown her against a wall. On another occasion, drug counselors working for Newton were found guilty of assaulting clients. Last year, Newton and co-defendants spent $4.5 million settling a suit brought by a young woman abused in a Newton-managed rehab program called "Kids of North Jersey." Newton has since moved back to St. Petersburg and reconfigured himself as a Catholic priest named Father Cassian Newton.
Wes Fager, a Virginia computer scientist who placed his son Bill in a Springfield, Virginia Straight facility in 1989, is one of the leaders of an anti-Straight coalition whose website, Straight Inc Survivors, contains shocking documents, revelations, and questions about the program's sponsors, their goals, and their influence on past and present drug war politics.
"My son had minor brushes with the law," Fager said when asked why he became interested in Straight. "A school counselor and a county judge told me Straight was the best help he could get. I put him in there, and I regret it to this day. They had a wall of secrecy around what they were doing. They wouldn't let me communicate with him. I finally found out enough to know he was being abused in there. I got him out after four months, but they had damaged him permanently. I've spent the last six years of my life gathering data on Straight and its connections to the US drug treatment industry."
Fager's data is backed up by other independent investigators, published reports, public records, and sworn testimony from former inmates of drug rehab centers.
He traces the origins of America's current juvenile drug rehabilitation programs to a notorious organization, "Synanon," founded in 1958 by a California alcoholic. Synanon was probably the first US "treatment" organization to define rehabilitation as incarceration, intimidation, and mind control. The organization has been described as a cult by many investigators, but its harsh tactics were mimicked by a government-funded Florida juvenile drug program known as The Seed, which was incorporated in 1972.
Congressional investigators soon determined that The Seed's rehab practices included brainwashing techniques similar to those used by military psychological warfare specialists. When this finding was made, the program was still receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars per year from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and law enforcement agencies, so Congress ordered NIDA and White House drug czar Robert DuPont (who later became a paid consultant and defense witness for Straight) to clean up the program's abuses.
Congress later cut off The Seed's funding, but Florida Republican Congressman Bill Young, who represented the same St. Petersburg district where Leigh Ann Bright had been incarcerated, lobbied for continued funding. In 1976,Young helped St. Petersburg Republican activists Mel and Betty Sembler in their creation of a new rehab program modeled after The Seed. The Sembler's program, called "Straight, Inc," soon began receiving federal grants. Republican officials, politicians and lobbyists joined the Semblers as founding board members of Straight.
In the 1980's, Republican operatives, government money, and official recommendations from judges and drug treatment "experts" helped Straight open centers similar to Bright's warehouse prison, in 12 states. Nancy Reagan and White House drug czar Carlton Turner promoted Straight as a "model for successful drug rehabilitation," even though Florida's Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services censured Straight in 1983, after receiving dozens of complaints of abuse and false imprisonment. Investigations showed that kids were often tricked into entering the centers, having been told by their parents that they were going to doctors, dentists or business appointments, then left behind to face de facto imprisonment.
Ignoring press reports about Straight abuses that had been brought to her attention, Nancy Reagan brought England's Princess Diana to the Straight-Springfield facility where Bill Fager had been held, telling the princess that Straight knew best how to turn dopers into productive citizens.
Reagan's praise notwithstanding, the Straight program began to unravel.
"The American Civil Liberties Union filed successful lawsuits showing that Straight subjected kids to 'inhumane treatment that creates an immediate danger to physical and mental health.' Officials closed Straight's Washington, DC facility in 1991," Fager reports. "Straight-Sarasota closed in 1983 in the middle of criminal investigations. Straight-Cincinnati closed in 1987 on the opening day of court proceedings against it. Straight centers in Southern California, Virginia Beach, DC, Boston, Dallas, Orlando, Detroit, and Maryland were closed due to investigations in 1990, '91, and '92.
"The last treatment facility using the name Straight was Straight-Atlanta," continued Fager. "Just days before it closed in 1993, a woman named Kathleen M Cone incorporated a Straight-like program called Phoenix Institute for Adolescents, in Marietta, Georgia just 4 1/2 miles from Straight's facility. Cone had been the registered agent for Straight-Atlanta. In 1993, a Straight-like program named Pathway Family Center was incorporated only 15 miles from the closed Detroit Straight facility. Helen Gowanny, a Pathway founder, had been the registered agent for Straight-Detroit.
"When Straight-Orlando's director Michael Scaletta closed down his Straight in 1992," concluded Fager, "he immediately opened a Straight-like program, called SAFE, in the same warehouse where Straight had operated. When Miller Newton's KIDS franchise in California closed under state pressure, Straight took over operations there. In 1990, Kids Helping Kids of Hebron, Kentucky, a Straight-like program co-founded by former Straight officer George Ross, changed its name and moved into the old Straight facility in Milford, Ohio."
According to Fager, Straight also made inroads into Canada. Between June 1988 and February 1989 Straight operated a "Family Service Center" in Edmonton, Alberta. Miller Newton assisted Dr Dean Vause, who had trained at Newton's disgraced New Jersey facility, in setting up a Straight-like program called the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center in Calgary in 1990.
Fager is worried that many currently-operating treatment programs are run by people who have been affiliated with Straight, and that these programs are continuing Straight's practice of abusing youngsters.
In December 2000, the Orlando, Florida TV station WAMI aired a pair of reports about abuses at an Orlando Straight clone program known as SAFE. The televised reports were called Force of habit and Safe Haven? They described strip searches, food deprivation, and teenagers being watched by other teenagers while showering or going to the toilet.
Lucy Moore, a young girl who had been enrolled in SAFE, told the interviewer about her horrific experiences. "I was forced to hold an enema in my hand," said Lucy, "and stand for about an hour and a half, the attention being focussed on me, and about every ten minutes I was told how I was full of crap, how I needed to be flushed out."
According to the televised reports, Governor Jeb Bush visited the SAFE facility and praised it, calling it "a very successful substance abuse program."
Fager and reform allies staged a protest at the SAFE facility last November, after he was contacted by parents of children imprisoned in the facility.
He says his questions about the legality of SAFE's operations, and about its connections to the Semblers and Straight, were stonewalled by representatives of Governor Bush and Florida drug czar Jim McDonough.
"The way Straight programs operated is a huge scam," Fager concludes. "There were proven charges of ongoing criminal activity; the programs should have been closed down and everyone who worked for them held accountable for the harm they did. Instead, Straight officers started new programs, using different names, carrying on the same cycles of abuse, receiving government funding. Nobody from Straight's leadership ever apologized for the harm they have done- they defiantly defended their tactics and smeared those who tried to uncover their abuses. Only a few low-level members of the organization have been punished for their vicious treatment of kids. Programs similar to Straight are now aligning themselves with churches so they can take advantage of Bush's faith-based funding program, and the fear-based, boot camp model of 'rehabilitation' is still the norm rather than the exception in America."
While regional Straight offices were being investigated, closing, and re-opening under different names, the St Petersburg-based national office, formerly called Straight Incorporated, was renamed "Straight Foundation Incorporated" in 1985. Ten years later, when Straight's reputation was beyond repair, its name was changed to the "Drug Free America Foundation, Incorporated. (DFAF)"
Betty and Mel Sembler, Straight's founders, also founded DFAF, which began receiving government money and assistance soon after it opened.
The Semblers are Republican power brokers who profit from their long-time relationship with the Bush family and other influential Republicans. Mel Sembler is a millionaire developer who made his fortune building environmentally destructive projects that are partially responsible for the severe water shortages and drought plaguing Florida. He gives lots of money to the Republican Party. His generosity was rewarded when the first Bush presidency brought him the job of US ambassador to Australia in 1989.
Another wealthy Republican and Straight co-founder, Joseph Zappala, was given the ambassadorship to Spain in 1989. George Bush Senior even made a TV commercial for Straight. Last year, Sembler headed the Republican national finance committee, helping raise millions of dollars for George W Bush.
Betty Sembler is a zealous prohibitionist, attending White House drug policy meetings, serving on state and federal drug advisory committees, and serving as board member for DARE Florida and DARE International.
Sembler is a co-chairperson of Jeb Bush's campaign committee, and a frequent, clandestine financial donor to Republican causes and candidates. Sembler's efforts to defeat medical marijuana initiatives are assisted by the Bush family, especially Barbara Bush, who makes promotional films for DFAF. The organization claims that George W Bush will base his drug policies on DFAF input.
In 1998, Sembler and Florida's Department of Law Enforcement sponsored an anti-medicalization of marijuana conference. The keynote speaker was former drug czar Bill Bennett. In 1999, the Semblers helped Florida drug czar Jim McDonough popularize his ecologically-disastrous anti-marijuana Fusarium fungus idea. McDonough and Betty Sembler are advisors to a powerful Defense Department drug task force funded through the Florida National Guard.
DFAF teamed with Arizona's Maricopa County Prosecutor, Rick Romley, to produce and market a film that opposes medical marijuana. In February 2001, Bush's White House advisors interviewed Rick Romley for the position of drug czar at the same time Bush was nominating Mel Sembler as president of the prestigious Export-Import Bank.
In Florida, Sembler was honored with "Betty Sembler Day," August, 8, 2000. The honor was pushed through by Jeb Bush, who feted Sembler for founding DFAF and another organization, Save Our Society from Drugs (SOS). Both organizations are devoted to defeating medical marijuana initiatives and drug policy reform. DFAF received at least $400,000 in government subsidies last year.
During recent Congressional testimony, Sembler delineated her absolutist views.
"I am the president and founder of Drug Free America Foundation, Inc an organization whose mission is to expose the hidden agenda of those who wish to legalize all Schedule I drugs in our country," Sembler said. "Their agenda includes subverting Federal supremacy, manipulating public opinion, and perpetrating a fraudulent marketing campaign touted as compassion for the sick. We've all witnessed this campaign, some of us agape at the blatant untruths used to convince voters in eight states and the District of Columbia that smoked crude marijuana is really 'medicine' dressed up to look like a weed. These drug pushers in coat and tie are intent on using any means possible to market addictive, unsafe, life-threatening substances to our children.
"In a clear violation of Federal drug laws and the Constitution's supremacy clause," claimed Sembler, "these businessmen disguised as medical experts, using tactics worthy of the Goebbels award, distort truth, eschew legitimate research, manufacture 'facts' and bombard the public with disinformation. We already know what their motivation is. It is documented by their own words, and certainly by their own actions. The only thing standing in their way is the Constitution of the United States of America. To sweep away the protection offered by that august document, the money bags have employed wordsmiths so they can hide behind the First Amendment, and therefore cleverly use the word "recommend" as a euphemism for prescribe.
"If you read the fine print on any of the initiatives," continued Sembler, "or examine the tactics that are being used in states that have no initiative process, it becomes very clear that this is not about compassion, and it is not about medicine. It is about softening public opinion to promote the acceptance that to chemically alter one's mind is an inherent right. The premise is that old excuse about a victimless crime. There is no such thing as a victimless crime. The parents of this nation are helpless without you as our elected representatives stepping up to the plate and telling the American people the truth: 'you have been misled.'"
At the 2001 Florida drug summit, I asked Sembler about critics of Straight and her other anti-drug activities.
"They should get a life," Sembler said impatiently. "I am proud of everything we have done. There's nothing to apologize for. The legalizers are the ones who should be apologizing."
Alarmed by the ascendance of the Bush family and its drug war allies to the top ranks of American politics, Straight survivors and policy reformers are working hard to expose abuses in America's drug treatment industry.
In July, former Straight inmates got together with journalists, cult experts, parents, lawyers, and activists at a Washington, DC conference sponsored by The Survivors of Harmful Treatment Programs and the Trebach Institute.
Dr Arnold Trebach, a political science professor, public interest attorney, and author, founded the institute in 1999 after retiring from the Drug Policy Foundation, which he founded in 1986.
During his 50 year career as a civil rights official, professor, and reform advocate, the 73-year-old Trebach has increasingly focused on the drug war as a symbol of what's wrong with America.
Trebach's 1987 book, The Great Drug War, is perhaps the best single volume about the subject. Its unparalleled credibility and comprehensiveness are grounded in Trebach's abundant skills as a policy analyst, legal scholar, and investigative journalist.
The book contains a chapter describing in chilling detail the incarceration of Fred Collins, now a doctorate-holding professor of mathematics, in the St Petersburg Straight facility in 1982. Collins did not have a drug abuse problem, but his brother George was already in the program, and Straight often demanded that siblings of inmates also be enrolled in residential treatment. Fred Collins' parents tricked him into entering the Straight building. He was held there in abysmal conditions against his will until he escaped four months later.
During Mel Sembler's tenure as ambassador to Australia, Trebach attended an international drug conference in the "land down under."
"A pediatrician from St Petersburg, Donald Ian Macdonald, Straight's medical director, was on a panel with me," Trebach recalls. "He gave a speech saying that I represent the worst of America, that it was despicable that he had to share the stage with a drug pusher. In my response, I said, 'Dr Macdonald, thank you for revealing to this international audience, and our American ambassador and his wife, the viciousness and cowardice of drug warriors. You've worked at the right hand of the president of the United States, and I want everybody here to know that adopting American drug policy means adopting these vicious and cowardly sentiments.'
"During the evening session," continued Trebach, "my wife and I were sitting near Holland's head of drug policy when Mel Sembler got up and said, 'I'm glad that everyone is here, including Dr Trebach and Dr Macdonald. I have some experience in this field - I formed a drug treatment program called Straight Incorporated, to help children.' The Dutch official said to me, 'Oh, I have heard about that program. It's the Hitler Youth.'"
During Mel Sembler's ambassadorship, Betty Sembler was creating DARE Australia and designing pro-drug war ads for the Advertising Federation of South Australia.
Trebach later went on nationwide Australia television, expressing dismay that the American ambassador was Straight's founder. "I told the country that Straight destroys children and it should never be adopted in Australia," Trebach said. "Straight is a window on the rotten core of the drug war: its hate, hysteria, and cruelty. It's the same stupidity we saw in Vietnam and in Waco - the government claims to want to save people from some alleged evil, so it kills them."
Donald Macdonald used his position as Reagan's White House Director of Drug Abuse Policy to implement policies that created profits for Straight and other drug war industries. Today, Macdonald runs a company called Employee Health Programs that helps employers institute draconian, privacy-busting "drug-free workplace" regulations required by federal laws that Macdonald himself helped shape.
Trebach says he's troubled by the "revolving door" aspect of the drug war industry, typified by the Semblers and Macdonald who network with politicians and other profiteers, using taxpayer dollars to promote policies that grant them more tax dollars and more power.
"We have to be very concerned, at a time when some people are pushing 'treatment' as an alternative to jail, that many of the nation's premier medical people, politicians, and policy makers are those who have been involved in, or supported, organizations that harm young people," Trebach warns. "It may be that some forms of treatment are no better than jail. They may even be worse than jail."
Fager, Trebach, Bright and Straight Inc Survivors have decided to fight back. They intend to provide irrefutable documentation about drug treatment abuses to Congress, law enforcement officials, and the media, expose connections between Straight and top government officials, and seek criminal indictments of treatment industry operatives who've committed crimes like kidnapping, assault, sexual abuse, perjury, and false imprisonment.
They're demanding that the US Department of Health and Human Services guarantee that federal funds will not be used for drug treatment programs unless protections are in place to keep treatment from harming children. They'll have lawyers who successfully sued Straight teach other treatment survivors how to make perpetrators pay for the wrong they did.
"It's a frightening thing to come forward and fight Straight and its supporters, because they are the most powerful people in this country," Bright acknowledged. "I'm afraid I will be attacked by these people. There are a lot of us working on this, but in the end, I am alone. This has been a hard path. It's not easy to talk about what happened to me. Maybe fighting this injustice will ruin my life, but it will all come out, everything evil they did to me and others, everything they are still doing. It's what I have to do."
? Straight Survivors: www.straightinc.homestead.com
? Clockwork Straight, an online book about Straight Inc: www.thestraights.com
? Arnold Trebach: The Trebach Institute, 5505 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 185, Washington, DC 20015-2601; fax 301-986-7815; email firstname.lastname@example.org; website www.trebach.org
? Betty Sembler: Drug Free America Foundation, PO Box 11298, St Petersburg, FL 33733; tel 727-893-2616; email email@example.com; website www.dfaf.org
Speaking as both an astronomer and "a concerned member of the human race," Sir Martin Rees examines our planet and its future from a cosmic perspective. He urges action to prevent dark consequences from our scientific and technological development.
About Martin Rees
Martin Rees, one of the world's most eminent astronomers, is a professor of cosmology and astrophysics at the University of Cambridge and the UK's Astronomer Royal. He is one of our key… Full bio and more links
Milton Friedman - Incentives for Immoral Behavior
Professor Friedman explains how some laws do little more than make immoral behavior profitable. http://www.LibertyPen.com
The End of (Military) History
"In watching the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history." This sentiment, introducing the essay that made Francis Fukuyama a household name, commands renewed attention today, albeit from a different perspective.
Developments during the 1980s, above all the winding down of the Cold War, had convin More..ced Fukuyama that the "end of history" was at hand. "The triumph of the West, of the Western idea," he wrote in 1989, "is evident... in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism."
Today the West no longer looks quite so triumphant. Yet events during the first decade of the present century have delivered history to another endpoint of sorts. Although Western liberalism may retain considerable appeal, the Western way of war has run its course.
For Fukuyama, history implied ideological competition, a contest pitting democratic capitalism against fascism and communism. When he wrote his famous essay, that contest was reaching an apparently definitive conclusion.
Yet from start to finish, military might had determined that competition's course as much as ideology. Throughout much of the twentieth century, great powers had vied with one another to create new, or more effective, instruments of coercion. Military innovation assumed many forms. Most obviously, there were the weapons:dreadnoughts and aircraft carriers, rockets and missiles,poison gas, and atomic bombs -- the list is a long one. In their effort to gain an edge, however, nations devoted equal attention to other factors:doctrine and organization, training systems and mobilization schemes, intelligence collection and war plans.
All of this furious activity, whether undertaken by France or Great Britain, Russia or Germany, Japan or the United States, derived from a common belief in the plausibility of victory. Expressed in simplest terms, the Western military tradition could be reduced to this proposition: war remains a viable instrument of statecraft, the accoutrements of modernity serving, if anything, to enhance its utility.
That was theory. Reality, above all the two world wars of the last century, told a decidedly different story. Armed conflict in the industrial age reached new heights of lethality and destructiveness. Once begun, wars devoured everything, inflicting staggering material, psychological, and moral damage. Pain vastly exceeded gain. In that regard, the war of 1914-1918 became emblematic: even the winners ended up losers. When fighting eventually stopped, the victors were left not to celebrate but to mourn. As a consequence, well before Fukuyama penned his essay, faith in war's problem-solving capacity had begun to erode. As early as 1945, among several great powers -- thanks to war, now great in name only -- that faith disappeared altogether.
Among nations classified as liberal democracies, only two resisted this trend. One was the United States, the sole major belligerent to emerge from the Second World War stronger, richer, and more confident. The second was Israel, created as a direct consequence of the horrors unleashed by that cataclysm. By the 1950s, both countries subscribed to this common conviction: national security (and, arguably, national survival) demanded unambiguous military superiority. In the lexicon of American and Israeli politics, "peace" was a codeword. The essential prerequisite for peace was for any and all adversaries, real or potential, to accept a condition of permanent inferiority. In this regard, the two nations -- not yet intimate allies -- stood apart from the rest of the Western world.
So even as they professed their devotion to peace, civilian and military elites in the United States and Israel prepared obsessively for war. They saw no contradiction between rhetoric and reality.
Yet belief in the efficacy of military power almost inevitably breeds the temptation to put that power to work. "Peace through strength" easily enough becomes "peace through war." Israel succumbed to this temptation in 1967. For Israelis, the Six Day War proved a turning point. Plucky David defeated, and then became, Goliath. Even as the United States was flailing about in Vietnam, Israel had evidently succeeded in definitively mastering war.
A quarter-century later, U.S. forces seemingly caught up. In 1991, Operation Desert Storm, George H.W. Bush's war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, showed that American troops like Israeli soldiers knew how to win quickly, cheaply, and humanely. Generals like H. Norman Schwarzkopf persuaded themselves that their brief desert campaign against Iraq had replicated -- even eclipsed -- the battlefield exploits of such famous Israeli warriors as Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin. Vietnam faded into irrelevance.
For both Israel and the United States, however, appearances proved deceptive. Apart from fostering grand illusions, the splendid wars of 1967 and 1991 decided little. In both cases, victory turned out to be more apparent than real. Worse, triumphalism fostered massive future miscalculation.
On the Golan Heights, in Gaza, and throughout the West Bank, proponents of a Greater Israel -- disregarding Washington's objections -- set out to assert permanent control over territory that Israel had seized. Yet "facts on the ground" created by successive waves of Jewish settlers did little to enhance Israeli security. They succeeded chiefly in shackling Israel to a rapidly growing and resentful Palestinian population that it could neither pacify nor assimilate.
In the Persian Gulf, the benefits reaped by the United States after 1991 likewise turned out to be ephemeral. Saddam Hussein survived and became in the eyes of successive American administrations an imminent threat to regional stability. This perception prompted (or provided a pretext for) a radical reorientation of strategy in Washington. No longer content to prevent an unfriendly outside power from controlling the oil-rich Persian Gulf, Washington now sought to dominate the entire Greater Middle East. Hegemony became the aim. Yet the United States proved no more successful than Israel in imposing its writ.
During the 1990s, the Pentagon embarked willy-nilly upon what became its own variant of a settlement policy. Yet U.S. bases dotting the Islamic world and U.S. forces operating in the region proved hardly more welcome than the Israeli settlements dotting the occupied territories and the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) assigned to protect them. In both cases, presence provoked (or provided a pretext for) resistance. Just as Palestinians vented their anger at the Zionists in their midst, radical Islamists targeted Americans whom they regarded as neo-colonial infidels.
No one doubted that Israelis (regionally) and Americans (globally) enjoyed unquestioned military dominance. Throughout Israel's near abroad, its tanks, fighter-bombers, and warships operated at will. So, too, did American tanks, fighter-bombers, and warships wherever they were sent.
So what? Events made it increasingly evident that military dominance did not translate into concrete political advantage. Rather than enhancing the prospects for peace, coercion produced ever more complications. No matter how badly battered and beaten, the "terrorists" (a catch-all term applied to anyone resisting Israeli or American authority) weren't intimidated, remained unrepentant, and kept coming back for more.
Israel ran smack into this problem during Operation Peace for Galilee, its 1982 intervention in Lebanon. U.S. forces encountered it a decade later during Operation Restore Hope, the West's gloriously titled foray into Somalia. Lebanon possessed a puny army; Somalia had none at all. Rather than producing peace or restoring hope, however, both operations ended in frustration, embarrassment, and failure.
And those operations proved but harbingers of worse to come. By the 1980s, the IDF's glory days were past. Rather than lightning strikes deep into the enemy rear, the narrative of Israeli military history became a cheerless recital of dirty wars -- unconventional conflicts against irregular forces yielding problematic results. The First Intifada (1987-1993), the Second Intifada (2000-2005), a second Lebanon War (2006), and Operation Cast Lead, the notorious 2008-2009 incursion into Gaza, all conformed to this pattern.
Meanwhile, the differential between Palestinian and Jewish Israeli birth rates emerged as a looming threat -- a "demographic bomb," Benjamin Netanyahu called it. Here were new facts on the ground that military forces, unless employed pursuant to a policy of ethnic cleansing, could do little to redress. Even as the IDF tried repeatedly and futilely to bludgeon Hamas and Hezbollah into submission, demographic trends continued to suggest that within a generation a majority of the population within Israel and the occupied territories would be Arab.
Trailing a decade or so behind Israel, the United States military nonetheless succeeded in duplicating the IDF's experience. Moments of glory remained, but they would prove fleeting indeed. After 9/11, Washington's efforts to transform (or "liberate") the Greater Middle East kicked into high gear. In Afghanistan and Iraq, George W. Bush's Global War on Terror began impressively enough, as U.S. forces operated with a speed and élan that had once been an Israeli trademark. Thanks to "shock and awe," Kabul fell, followed less than a year and a half later by Baghdad. As one senior Army general explained to Congress in 2004, the Pentagon had war all figured out:
"We are now able to create decision superiority that is enabled by networked systems, new sensors and command and control capabilities that are producing unprecedented near real time situational awareness, increased information availability, and an ability to deliver precision munitions throughout the breadth and depth of the battlespace... Combined, these capabilities of the future networked force will leverage information dominance, speed and precision, and result in decision superiority."
The key phrase in this mass of techno-blather was the one that occurred twice: "decision superiority." At that moment, the officer corps, like the Bush administration, was still convinced that it knew how to win.
Such claims of success, however, proved obscenely premature. Campaigns advertised as being wrapped up in weeks dragged on for years, while American troops struggled with their own intifadas. When it came to achieving decisions that actually stuck, the Pentagon (like the IDF) remained clueless.
If any overarching conclusion emerges from the Afghan and Iraq Wars (and from their Israeli equivalents), it's this:victory is a chimera. Counting on today's enemy to yield in the face of superior force makes about as much sense as buying lottery tickets to pay the mortgage: you better be really lucky.
Meanwhile, as the U.S. economy went into a tailspin, Americans contemplated their equivalent of Israel's "demographic bomb" -- a "fiscal bomb." Ingrained habits of profligacy, both individual and collective, held out the prospect of long-term stagnation: no growth, no jobs, no fun. Out-of-control spending on endless wars exacerbated that threat.
By 2007, the American officer corps itself gave up on victory, although without giving up on war. First in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, priorities shifted. High-ranking generals shelved their expectations of winning -- at least as a Rabin or Schwarzkopf would have understood that term. They sought instead to not lose. In Washington as in U.S. military command posts, the avoidance of outright defeat emerged as the new gold standard of success.
As a consequence, U.S. troops today sally forth from their base camps not to defeat the enemy, but to "protect the people," consistent with the latest doctrinal fashion. Meanwhile, tea-sipping U.S. commanders cut deals with warlords and tribal chieftains in hopes of persuading guerrillas to lay down their arms.
A new conventional wisdom has taken hold, endorsed by everyone from new Afghan War commander General David Petraeus, the most celebrated soldier of this American age, to Barack Obama, commander-in-chief and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. For the conflicts in which the United States finds itself enmeshed, "military solutions" do not exist. As Petraeus himself has emphasized, "we can't kill our way out of" the fix we're in. In this way, he also pronounced a eulogy on the Western conception of warfare of the last two centuries.
The Unasked Question
What then are the implications of arriving at the end of Western military history?
In his famous essay, Fukuyama cautioned against thinking that the end of ideological history heralded the arrival of global peace and harmony. Peoples and nations, he predicted, would still find plenty to squabble about.
With the end of military history, a similar expectation applies. Politically motivated violence will persist and may in specific instances even retain marginal utility. Yet the prospect of Big Wars solving Big Problems is probably gone for good. Certainly, no one in their right mind, Israeli or American, can believe that a continued resort to force will remedy whatever it is that fuels anti-Israeli or anti-American antagonism throughout much of the Islamic world. To expect persistence to produce something different or better is moonshine.
It remains to be seen whether Israel and the United States can come to terms with the end of military history. Other nations have long since done so, accommodating themselves to the changing rhythms of international politics. That they do so is evidence not of virtue, but of shrewdness. China, for example, shows little eagerness to disarm. Yet as Beijing expands its reach and influence, it emphasizes trade, investment, and development assistance. Meanwhile, the People's Liberation Army stays home. China has stolen a page from an old American playbook, having become today the preeminent practitioner of "dollar diplomacy."
The collapse of the Western military tradition confronts Israel with limited choices, none of them attractive. Given the history of Judaism and the history of Israel itself, a reluctance of Israeli Jews to entrust their safety and security to the good will of their neighbors or the warm regards of the international community is understandable. In a mere six decades, the Zionist project has produced a vibrant, flourishing state. Why put all that at risk? Although the demographic bomb may be ticking, no one really knows how much time remains on the clock. If Israelis are inclined to continue putting their trust in (American-supplied) Israeli arms while hoping for the best, who can blame them?
In theory, the United States, sharing none of Israel's demographic or geographic constraints and, far more richly endowed, should enjoy far greater freedom of action. Unfortunately, Washington has a vested interest in preserving the status quo, no matter how much it costs or where it leads. For the military-industrial complex, there are contracts to win and buckets of money to be made. For those who dwell in the bowels of the national security state, there are prerogatives to protect. For elected officials, there are campaign contributors to satisfy. For appointed officials, civilian and military, there are ambitions to be pursued.
And always there is a chattering claque of militarists, calling for jihad and insisting on ever greater exertions, while remaining alert to any hint of backsliding. In Washington, members of this militarist camp, by no means coincidentally including many of the voices that most insistently defend Israeli bellicosity, tacitly collaborate in excluding or marginalizing views that they deem heretical. As a consequence, what passes for debate on matters relating to national security is a sham. Thus are we invited to believe, for example, that General Petraeus's appointment as the umpteenth U.S. commander in Afghanistan constitutes a milestone on the way to ultimate success.
Nearly 20 years ago, a querulous Madeleine Albright demanded to know: "What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" Today, an altogether different question deserves our attention: What's the point of constantly using our superb military if doing so doesn't actually work?
Washington's refusal to pose that question provides a measure of the corruption and dishonesty permeating our politics.
By Andrew Bacevich
Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His new book, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, has just been published.
Were You Aware that Philip Morris Owns Some of The Largest Food Alcohol Companies?
Philip Morris' Non-Tobacco Companies and Brands:
Miller Brewing Brands: Miller Geniune Draft, Miller Lite, Miller High Life, Lowenbrau, Red Dog, Leinenkugel’s, Icehouse, Milwaukee’s Best, Meister Brau, Sharps, Magnum, Celis, Shipyard, Olde English 800, Hamm’s, Mickey’s and Henry Weinhart’s. Miller has a majority interest in Molson USA, LLC, who imports Asahi, Presidente, Molson, More.. and Foster’s into the US market
Kraft Foods Brands: Miracle Whip, Good Seasons, Jell-O, Sure Jell, Certo, , Kool-Aid, Seven Seas, Country Time, Taco Bell Home Originals, Baker’s Baking Products, Maxwell House Coffee, Sanka, Yuban Coffee, General Foods International Coffee, Cool Whip, Dream Whip, Athenos Cheese, Cheez Whiz, Cracker Barrel, Velveeta, Claussen Pickles, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, DiGiorno Italian Sauces and Pizzas, Calument Baking Powder, Minute Rice, Shake ‘N Bake, Oven Fry, Altoids, Toblerone Chocolate, Stove Top Stuffing, Capri Juice Drinks, Crystal Light, Tang, Bull’s Eye Barbecue Sauce, Knudsen, Sealtest, Breakstone’s, Light N’ Lively, Breyers, Jack’s Pizza, Tombstone Pizza
Post Cereals: (Alpha-Bits, Grape Nuts, Raisin Brands, Banana Nut Chrunch, Pebbles, Toasties, Oreo’s, etc.)
Oscar Meyer Products
Louis Rich Products
Philip Morris is the largest tobacco company in the world. Philip Morris also owns a financial subsidiary Philip Morris Capital Corporation.
Kraft also distributes and sells Starbucks coffee and California Pizza Kitchen products.
Obama's Mean Streak
By Ed Lasky
Barack Obama seems to have a pattern of using ceremonial or stately events as opportunities to ambush and humiliate people. This behavior is unpresidential and reveals a vindictive streak that makes Richard Nixon look like Mister Rogers.
A few examples of Obama's taking pleasure in administering pu More..blic pain to others:
During the State of the Union Address, he chose to direct his ire at the justices of the Supreme Court, located in the front rows. After the Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of the First Amendment regarding political speech, Barack Obama famously chose to dress down the black-clad justices before the entire nation -- miscomprehending the law and the ruling in a fit of (un)presidential petulance. The embarrassing spectacle was prompted by a view that the court's ruling may make it easier for opponents of the president and Democrats to make their views known to the public.
Regardless of Obama's pique, it was wrong on so many levels that it earned a rebuke from the Supreme Court historian, who had enthusiastically voted for him. The noted historian said it "was really unusual in my mind to see the President going after the Supreme Court in such a forum." That is change for you. He predicted that justices may refuse to attend in the future because "you don't go to be insulted. I can't see the Justices wanting to be there and be insulted by the President."
Their appearance was a mark of respect for the government of the United States, broken into three branches but united in the goal of helping fellow Americans. Barack Obama did not reciprocate the respect -- and demeaned himself (though his narcissism and his cheering section entourage would shield him from such self-reflection) and the dignity of the office by needlessly ambushing the most august institution of the land.
He seems to have a penchant for ambushing financial executives, too -- or people he calls "fat cats" -- after he cashes their campaign checks. But he does like to tag people with labels.
While purportedly holding a meeting to work with financial executives to help stabilize financial markets, Barack Obama could not resist taunting them with the threat that "I'm the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks." That was not why they came to a meeting supposedly called to work together to resolve problems in the financial sector.
He did the same with doctors, though. He co-opted the American Medical Association to get them on board for ObamaCare and then blasted doctors for, among other sins, taking kids' tonsils out because doctors are greedy.
While meeting with a Democrat wavering on casting a yes vote on ObamaCare, he chose not to engage him with reasons, but instead belittled him in front of others by telling him, "Don't think we're not keeping score, brother." Was this form of public emasculation really necessary? No...but Obama has the itch, and it must be scratched.
He chose to snub a variety of foreign leaders, including then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with whom he denied a diplomatic meeting during a visit (a snub that may have hurt Brown politically at home). Also, Obama walked out of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to have dinner with his family -- and refused a photo-op, joint news conference, or proper welcome, to boot. Both were democratic leaders, yet Obama bows to dictators such as the Saudi King and has a hug for the thug from Caracas. The ambushing of Netanyahu may have had a goal of also hurting him with voters in Israel, who treasure their relationship with America. The ambush did not work. Israelis don't like being ambushed -- they have had plenty of experience with such treatment. The public rallied to Netanyahu after the disgraceful treatment meted out to him by Barack Obama.
Can we forget the lack of graciousness when Obama told John McCain during the health care summit that he convened, supposedly in the spirit of comity, that "the election is over"?
Was it necessary to allude that racism led Boston policemen to confront Obama's friend, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, over what appeared to be a breaking and entering? For all the nation to see, he slurred Boston policemen as racists. Why?
In the hands of this president, the bully pulpit is used not to persuade and convince, but to bully into a public pulp those he considers his foes. At a groundbreaking for a car battery plant funded by "stimulus money" that was located in the district of Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra (who opposed the stimulus), Obama could not resist the urge to try to humiliate Hoekstra, who also was at the opening.
There are some folks who want to go back -- who think we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession," Obama said later in his comments honoring a new advanced battery factory being built by the company LG Chem. "Some made the political calculation that it's better to obstruct than lend a hand. They said no to the tax cuts, they said no to small business loans, they said no to clean energy projects. It doesn't stop them from coming to ribbon cuttings -- but that's OK."
This was not the first time he chose to turn a celebration into an ambush, a party into a shooting gallery.
The president was flying to Peoria to appear with the CEO of Caterpillar at a plant. Obama told reporters that he had spoken to the CEO, who he said assured him that he was going to rehire laid off employees as soon as the stimulus bill was passed. This was a surprise to the CEO, who, after the Obama appearance at the plant was over, was asked by the reporters about this so-called pledge. He stumbled over the issue -- who wants to publicly call the president a liar? But the CEO said that Obama's statement was not true, and there were no plans to rehire people. He was ambushed by Barack Obama.
So was Republican Congressman Aaron Schock, whose district encompassed the plant. Obama invited Schock along on Air Force One for the trip. In his speech, Obama singled out Schock for another Obama ambush, telling his audience to visit with Schock and encourage him "to do the right thing for the people of Illinois." In this case, Obama's ambush killed two birds with one stone -- a rare sign of efficiency on the part of our competency-challenged President.
The body count of Obama's ambushes will grow in the years ahead. How does this help to bring about the civility that Obama preaches should be part of our civic discourse? Of course, it doesn't. Hypocrisy is Obama's trademark. His style of ambushing and humiliating people is a sign of something deeper and darker in Obama's psyche, in his emotional makeup. He is vindictive and enjoys the spectacle of belittling people in front of others and in front of cameras.
The milk of human kindness does not flow in this man's veins, but rather something bitterer -- a type of personal poison that he enjoys spraying on others.
This does not dignify the office or the man. But he doesn't seem to care, and the courtier press that covers him with glory doesn't, either.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
Armed conflict and attacks
Arts, culture and entertainment
Friday, July 30, 2010
by: Jeffrey M. Smith
(NaturalNews) At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.
This was a bold new direction for Monsanto, which needed a big change to distance them from a controversial past. As a chemical company, they had polluted the landscape with some of the most poisonous substances ever produced, contaminated virtually every human and animal on earth, and got fined and convicted of deception and wrongdoing. According to a former Monsanto vice president, "We were despised by our customers."
So they redefined themselves as a "life sciences" company, and then proceeded to pollute the landscape with toxic herbicide, contaminate the gene pool for all future generations with genetically modified plants, and get fined and convicted of deception and wrongdoing. Monsanto's chief European spokesman admitted in 1999, "Everybody over here hates us." Now the rest of the world is catching on.
"Saving the world," and other lies
Monsanto's public relations story about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are largely based on five concepts.
1. GMOs are needed to feed the world.
2. GMOs have been thoroughly tested and proven safe.
3. GMOs increase yield.
4. GMOs reduce the use of agricultural chemicals.
5. GMOs can be contained, and therefore coexist with non-GM crops.
All five are pure myths -- blatant falsehoods about the nature and benefit of this infant technology. The experience of former Monsanto employee Kirk Azevedo helps expose the first two lies, and provides some insight into the nature of the people working at the company.
In 1996, Monsanto recruited young Kirk Azevedo to sell their genetically engineered cotton. Azevedo accepted their offer not because of the pay increase, but due to the writings of Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro. Shapiro had painted a picture of feeding the world and cleaning up the environment with his company's new technology. When he visited Monsanto's St. Louis headquarters for new employee training, Azevedo shared his enthusiasm for Shapiro's vision during a meeting. When the session ended, a company vice president pulled him aside and set him straight. "Wait a second," he told Azevedo. "What Robert Shapiro says is one thing. But what we do is something else. We are here to make money. He is the front man who tells a story. We don't even understand what he is saying." Azevedo realized he was working for "just another profit-oriented company," and all the glowing words about helping the planet were just a front.
A few months later he got another shock. A company scientist told him that Roundup Ready cotton plants contained new, unintended proteins that had resulted from the gene insertion process. No safety studies had been conducted on the proteins, none were planned, and the cotton plants, which were part of field trials near his home, were being fed to cattle. Azevedo "was afraid at that time that some of these proteins may be toxic."
He asked the PhD in charge of the test plot to destroy the cotton rather than feed it to cattle, arguing that until the protein had been evaluated, the cows' milk or meat could be harmful. The scientist refused. Azevedo approached everyone on his team at Monsanto to raise concerns about the unknown protein, but no one was interested. "I was somewhat ostracized," he said. "Once I started questioning things, people wanted to keep their distance from me. . . . Anything that interfered with advancing the commercialization of this technology was going to be pushed aside." Azevedo decided to leave Monsanto. He said, "I'm not going to be part of this disaster."
Monsanto's toxic past
Azevedo got a small taste of Monsanto's character. A verdict in a lawsuit a few years later made it more explicit. On February 22, 2002, Monsanto was found guilty for poisoning the town of Anniston, Alabama with their PCB factory and covering it up for decades. They were convicted of negligence, wantonness, suppression of the truth, nuisance, trespass, and outrage. According to Alabama law, to be guilty of outrage typically requires conduct "so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society."(1)
The $700 million fine imposed on Monsanto was on behalf of the Anniston residents, whose blood levels of Monsanto's toxic PCBs were hundreds or thousands of times the average. This disease-producing chemical, used as coolants and lubricants for over 50 years, are now virtually omnipresent in the blood and tissues of humans and wildlife around the globe. Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group says that based on Monsanto documents made public during a trial, the company "knew the truth from the very beginning. They lied about it. They hid the truth from their neighbors." One Monsanto memo explains their justification: "We can't afford to lose one dollar of business." Welcome to the world of Monsanto.
Infiltrating the minds and offices of the government
To get their genetically modified products approved, Monsanto has coerced, infiltrated, and paid off government officials around the globe. In Indonesia, Monsanto gave bribes and questionable payments to at least 140 officials, attempting to get their genetically modified (GM) cotton accepted.(2) In 1998, six Canadian government scientists testified before the Senate that they were being pressured by superiors to approve rbGH, that documents were stolen from a locked file cabinet in a government office, and that Monsanto offered them a bribe of $1-2 million to pass the drug without further tests. In India, one official tampered with the report on Bt cotton to increase the yield figures to favor Monsanto.(3) And Monsanto seems to have planted their own people in key government positions in India, Brazil, Europe, and worldwide.
Monsanto's GM seeds were also illegally smuggled into countries like Brazil and Paraguay, before GMOs were approved. Roberto Franco, Paraguay's Deputy Agriculture Ministry, tactfully admits, "It is possible that [Monsanto], let's say, promoted its varieties and its seeds" before they were approved. "We had to authorize GMO seeds because they had already entered our country in an, let's say, unorthodox way."
In the US, Monsanto's people regularly infiltrate upper echelons of government, and the company offers prominent positions to officials when they leave public service. This revolving door has included key people in the White House, regulatory agencies, even the Supreme Court. Monsanto also had George Bush Senior on their side, as evidenced by footage of Vice President Bush at Monsanto's facility offering help to get their products through government bureaucracy. He says, "Call me. We're in the 'de-reg' business. Maybe we can help."
Monsanto's influence continued into the Clinton administration. Dan Glickman, then Secretary of Agriculture, says, "there was a general feeling in agro-business and inside our government in the US that if you weren't marching lock-step forward in favor of rapid approvals of biotech products, rapid approvals of GMO crops, then somehow, you were anti-science and anti-progress." Glickman summarized the mindset in the government as follows:
"What I saw generically on the pro-biotech side was the attitude that the technology was good, and that it was almost immoral to say that it wasn't good, because it was going to solve the problems of the human race and feed the hungry and clothe the naked. . . . And there was a lot of money that had been invested in this, and if you're against it, you're Luddites, you're stupid. That, frankly, was the side our government was on. Without thinking, we had basically taken this issue as a trade issue and they, whoever 'they' were, wanted to keep our product out of their market. And they were foolish, or stupid, and didn't have an effective regulatory system. There was rhetoric like that even here in this department. You felt like you were almost an alien, disloyal, by trying to present an open-minded view on some of the issues being raised. So I pretty much spouted the rhetoric that everybody else around here spouted; it was written into my speeches."(4)
He admits, "when I opened my mouth in the Clinton Administration [about the lax regulations on GMOs], I got slapped around a little bit."
Hijacking the FDA to promote GMOs
In the US, new food additives must undergo extensive testing, including long-term animal feeding studies.(5) There is an exception, however, for substances that are deemed "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS). GRAS status allows a product to be commercialized without any additional testing. According to US law, to be considered GRAS the substance must be the subject of a substantial amount of peer-reviewed published studies (or equivalent) and there must be overwhelming consensus among the scientific community that the product is safe. GM foods had neither. Nonetheless, in a precedent-setting move that some experts contend was illegal, in 1992 the FDA declared that GM crops are GRAS as long as their producers say they are. Thus, the FDA does not require any safety evaluations or labels whatsoever. A company can even introduce a GM food to the market without telling the agency.
Such a lenient approach to GM crops was largely the result of Monsanto's legendary influence over the US government. According to the New York Times, "What Monsanto wished for from Washington, Monsanto and, by extension, the biotechnology industry got. . . . When the company abruptly decided that it needed to throw off the regulations and speed its foods to market, the White House quickly ushered through an unusually generous policy of self-policing." According to Dr. Henry Miller, who had a leading role in biotechnology issues at the FDA from 1979 to 1994, "In this area, the U.S. government agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked them to do and told them to do."
The person who oversaw the development of the FDA's GMO policy was their Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Michael Taylor, whose position had been created especially for him in 1991. Prior to that, Taylor was an outside attorney for both Monsanto and the Food Biotechnology Council. After working at the FDA, he became Monsanto's vice president. He's now back at the FDA, as the US food safety czar.
Covering up health dangers
The policy Taylor oversaw in 1992 needed to create the impression that unintended effects from GM crops were not an issue. Otherwise their GRAS status would be undermined. But internal memos made public from a lawsuit showed that the overwhelming consensus among the agency scientists was that GM crops can have unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects. Various departments and experts spelled these out in detail, listing allergies, toxins, nutritional effects, and new diseases as potential problems. They had urged superiors to require long-term safety studies.(6) In spite of the warnings, according to public interest attorney Steven Druker who studied the FDA's internal files, "References to the unintended negative effects of bioengineering were progressively deleted from drafts of the policy statement (over the protests of agency scientists)."(7)
FDA microbiologist Louis Pribyl wrote about the policy, "What has happened to the scientific elements of this document? Without a sound scientific base to rest on, this becomes a broad, general, 'What do I have to do to avoid trouble'-type document. . . . It will look like and probably be just a political document. . . . It reads very pro-industry, especially in the area of unintended effects."(8)
The FDA scientists' concerns were not only ignored, their very existence was denied. Consider the private memo summarizing opinions at the FDA, which stated, "The processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks."(9) Contrast that with the official policy statement issued by Taylor, Monsanto's former attorney: "The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way."(10) On the basis of this false statement, the FDA does not require GM food safety testing.
Fake safety assessments
Monsanto participates in a voluntary consultation process with the FDA that is derided by critics as a meaningless exercise. Monsanto submits whatever information it chooses, and the FDA does not conduct or commission any studies of its own. Former EPA scientist Doug Gurian-Sherman, who analyzed FDA review records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, says the FDA consultation process "misses obvious errors in company-submitted data summaries, provides insufficient testing guidance, and does not require sufficiently detailed data to enable the FDA to assure that GE crops are safe to eat."(11)
But that is not the point of the exercise. The FDA doesn't actually approve the crops or declare them safe. That is Monsanto's job! At the end of the consultation, the FDA issues a letter stating:
"Based on the safety and nutritional assessment you have conducted, it is our understanding that Monsanto has concluded that corn products derived from this new variety are not materially different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters from corn currently on the market, and that the genetically modified corn does not raise issues that would require premarket review or approval by FDA. . . . As you are aware, it is Monsanto's responsibility to ensure that foods marketed by the firm are safe, wholesome and in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements."(12)
The National Academy of Sciences and even the pro-GM Royal Society of London(13) describe the US system as inadequate and flawed. The editor of the prestigious journal Lancet said, "It is astounding that the US Food and Drug Administration has not changed their stance on genetically modified food adopted in 1992. . . . Governments should never have allowed these products into the food chain without insisting on rigorous testing for effects on health."(14)
One obvious reason for the inflexibility of the FDA is that they are officially charged with both regulating biotech products and promoting them -- a clear conflict. That is also why the FDA does not require mandatory labeling of GM foods. They ignore the desires of 90 percent of American citizens in order to support the economic interests of Monsanto and the four other GM food companies.
Monsanto's studies are secret, inadequate, and flawed
The unpublished industry studies submitted to regulators are typically kept secret based on the claim that it is "confidential business information." The Royal Society of Canada is one of many organizations that condemn this practice. Their Expert Panel called for "completely transparent" submissions, "open to full review by scientific peers" They wrote, "Peer review and independent corroboration of research findings are axioms of the scientific method, and part of the very meaning of the objectivity and neutrality of science."(15)
Whenever Monsanto's private submissions are made public through lawsuits or Freedom of Information Act Requests, it becomes clear why they benefit from secrecy. The quality of their research is often miserable, and would never stand up to peer-review. In December 2009, for example, a team of independent researchers published a study analyzing the raw data from three Monsanto rat studies. When they used proper statistical methods, they found that the three varieties of GM corn caused toxicity in the liver and kidneys, as well as significant changes in other organs.(16) Monsanto's studies, of course, had claimed that the research showed no problems. The regulators had believed Monsanto, and the corn is already in our food supply.
Monsanto rigs research to miss dangers
Monsanto has plenty of experience cooking the books of their research and hiding the hazards. They manufactured the infamous Agent Orange, for example, the cancer and birth-defect causing defoliant sprayed over Vietnam. It contaminated more than three million civilians and servicemen. But according to William Sanjour, who led the Toxic Waste Division of the Environmental Protection Agency, "thousands of veterans were disallowed benefits" because "Monsanto studies showed that dioxin [the main ingredient in Agent Orange] was not a human carcinogen." But his EPA colleague discovered that Monsanto had allegedly falsified the data in their studies. Sanjour says, "If they were done correctly, [the studies] would have reached just the opposite result."
Here are examples of tinkering with the truth about Monsanto's GM products:
• When dairy farmers inject cows with genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rbGH), more bovine growth hormone ends up in the milk. To allay fears, the FDA claimed that pasteurization destroys 90 percent of the hormone. In reality, the researchers of this drug (then owned by Monsanto) pasteurized the milk 120 times longer than normal. But they only destroyed 19 percent. So they spiked the milk with a huge amount of extra growth hormone and then repeated the long pasteurization. Only under these artificial conditions were they able to destroy 90 percent.
• To demonstrate that rbGH injections didn't interfere with cows' fertility, Monsanto appears to have secretly added cows to their study that were pregnant BEFORE injection.
• FDA Veterinarian Richard Burroughs said that Monsanto researchers dropped sick cows from studies, to make the drug appear safer.
• Richard Burroughs ordered more tests on rbGH than the industry wanted and was told by superiors he was slowing down the approval. He was fired and his tests canceled. The remaining whistle-blowers in the FDA had to write an anonymous letter to Congress, complaining of fraud and conflict of interest in the agency. They complained of one FDA scientist who arbitrarily increased the allowable levels of antibiotics in milk 100-fold, in order to facilitate the approval of rbGH. She had just become the head of an FDA department that was evaluating the research that she had recently done while an employee of Monsanto.
• Another former Monsanto scientist said that after company scientists conducted safety studies on bovine growth hormone, all three refused to drink any more milk, unless it was organic and therefore not treated with the drug. They feared the substantial increase of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the drugged milk. IGF-1 is a significant risk factor for cancer.
• When independent researchers published a study in July 1999 showing that Monsanto's GM soy contains 12-14 percent less cancer-fighting phytoestrogens, Monsanto responded with its own study, concluding that soy's phytoestrogen levels vary too much to even carry out a statistical analysis. Researchers failed to disclose, however, that they had instructed the laboratory to use an obsolete method of detection -- one that had been prone to highly variable results.
• To prove that GM protein breaks down quickly during simulated digestion, Monsanto uses thousands of times the amount of digestive enzymes and a much stronger acid than what the World Health Organization recommends.
• Monsanto told government regulators that the GM protein produced in their high-lysine GM corn was safe for humans, because it is also found in soil. They claimed that since people consume small residues of soil on fruits and vegetables, the protein has a safe history as part of the human diet. The actual amount of the GM corn protein an average US citizen would consume, however, if all their corn were Monsanto's variety, would be "about 30 billion to four trillion times" the amount normally consumed in soil residues. For equivalent exposure, people would have to eat as much as 22,000 pounds of soil every second of every day.
• Monsanto's high-lysine corn also had unusual levels of several nutritional components, such as protein and fiber. Instead of comparing it to normal corn, which would have revealed this significant disparity, Monsanto compared their GM corn to obscure corn varieties that were also far outside the normal range on precisely these values. On this basis, Monsanto could claim that there were no statistically significant differences in their GM corn content.
Methods used by Monsanto to hide problems are varied and plentiful. For example, researchers:
• Use animals with varied starting weights, to hinder the detection of food-related changes;
• Keep feeding studies short, to miss long-term impacts;
• Test Roundup Ready soybeans that have never been sprayed with Roundup -- as they always are in real world conditions;
• Avoid feeding animals the GM crop, but instead give them a single dose of GM protein produced from GM bacteria;
• Use too few subjects to obtain statistical significance;
• Use poor or inappropriate statistical methods, or fail to even mention statistical methods, or include essential data; and
• Employ insensitive detection techniques -- doomed to fail.
Monsanto's 1996 Journal of Nutrition study, which was their cornerstone article for "proving" that GM soy was safe, provides plenty of examples of masterfully rigged methods.
• Researchers tested GM soy on mature animals, not the more sensitive young ones. GMO safety expert Arpad Pusztai says the older animals "would have to be emaciated or poisoned to show anything."
• Organs were never weighed.
• The GM soy was diluted up to 12 times which, according to an expert review, "would probably ensure that any possible undesirable GM effects did not occur."
• The amount of protein in the feed was "artificially too high," which would mask negative impacts of the soy.
• Samples were pooled from different locations and conditions, making it nearly impossible for compositional differences to be statistically significant.
• Data from the only side-by-side comparison was removed from the study and never published. When it was later recovered, it revealed that Monsanto's GM soy had significantly lower levels of important constituents (e.g. protein, a fatty acid, and phenylalanine, an essential amino acid) and that toasted GM soy meal had nearly twice the amount of a lectin -- which interferes with the body's ability to assimilate nutrients. Moreover, the amount of trypsin inhibitor, a known soy allergen, was as much as seven times higher in cooked GM soy compared to a cooked non-GM control. Monsanto named their study, "The composition of glyphosate-tolerant soybean seeds is equivalent to that of conventional soybeans."
A paper published in Nutrition and Health analyzed all peer-reviewed feeding studies on GM foods as of 2003. It came as no surprise that Monsanto's Journal of Nutrition study, along with the other four peer-reviewed animal feeding studies that were "performed more or less in collaboration with private companies," reported no negative effects of the GM diet. "On the other hand," they wrote, "adverse effects were reported (but not explained) in [the five] independent studies." They added, "It is remarkable that these effects have all been observed after feeding for only 10 to 14 days."(18)
A former Monsanto scientist recalls how colleagues were trying to rewrite a GM animal feeding study, to hide the ill-effects. But sometimes when study results are unmistakably damaging, Monsanto just plain lies. Monsanto's study on Roundup, for example, showed that 28 days after application, only 2 percent of their herbicide had broken down. They nonetheless advertised the weed killer as "biodegradable," "leaves the soil clean," and "respects the environment." These statements were declared false and illegal by judges in both the US and France. The company was forced to remove "biodegradable" from the label and pay a fine.
Monsanto attacks labeling, local democracy, and news coverage
• On July 3, 2003, Monsanto sued Oakhurst dairy because their labels stated, "Our Farmers' Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones." Oakhurst eventually settled with Monsanto, agreeing to include a sentence on their cartons saying that according to the FDA no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbGH-treated and non-rbGH-treated cows. The statement is not true. FDA scientists had acknowledged the increase of IGF-1, bovine growth hormone, antibiotics, and pus, in milk from treated cows. Nonetheless, the misleading sentence had been written years earlier by the FDA's deputy commissioner of policy, Michael Taylor, the one who was formerly Monsanto's outside attorney and later their vice president.
• Monsanto's public relations firm created a group called the Dairy Coalition, which pressured editors of the USA Today, Boston Globe, New York Times and others, to limit negative coverage of rbGH.
• A Monsanto attorney wrote a letter to Fox TV, promising dire consequences if the station aired a four-part exposé on rbGH. The show was ultimately canceled.
• A book critical of Monsanto's GM foods was three days away from being published. A threatening letter from Monsanto's attorney forced the small publisher to cancel publication.
• 14,000 copies of Ecologist magazine dedicated to exposing Monsanto were shredded by the printer due to fears of a lawsuit.
• After a ballot initiative in California established Mendocino County as a GM-free zone -- where planting GMOs is illegal, Monsanto and others organized to push through laws in 14 states that make it illegal for cities and counties to declare similar zones.
Monsanto's promises of riches come up short
Biotech advocates have wooed politicians, claiming that their new technology is the path to riches for their city, state, or nation. "This notion that you lure biotech to your community to save its economy is laughable," said Joseph Cortright, an Oregon economist who co-wrote a report on the subject. "This is a bad-idea virus that has swept through governors, mayors and economic development officials."(19) Indeed, The Wall Street Journal observed, "Not only has the biotech industry yielded negative financial returns for decades, it generally digs its hole deeper every year."(20) The Associated Press says it "remains a money-losing, niche industry."(21)
Nowhere in the biotech world is the bad-idea virus more toxic than in its application to GM plants. Not only does the technology under-deliver, it consistently burdens governments and entire sectors with losses and problems.
Under the first Bush administration, for example, the White House's elite Council on Competitiveness chose to fast track GM food in hopes that it would strengthen the economy and make American products more competitive overseas. The opposite ensued. US corn exports to Europe were virtually eliminated, down by 99.4 percent. The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) calculated that the introduction of GM corn caused a drop in corn prices by 13 to 20 percent.(22) Their CEO said, "The ACGA believes an explanation is owed to the thousands of American farmers who were told to trust this technology, yet now see their prices fall to historically low levels while other countries exploit US vulnerability and pick off our export customers one by one."(23) US soy sales also plummeted due to GM content.
According to Charles Benbrook, PhD, former executive director of the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Agriculture, the closed markets and slashed prices forced the federal government to pay an additional $3 to $5 billion every year.(24) He says growers have only been kept afloat by the huge jump in subsidies.(25)
Instead of withdrawing support for failed GM crops, the US government has been convinced by Monsanto and others that the key to success is to force open foreign markets to GMOs. But many nations are also reeling under the false promise of GMOs.
Canola crashes on GM
When Canada became the only major producer to adopt GM canola in 1996, it led to a disaster. The premium-paying EU market, which took about one-third of Canada's canola exports in 1994 and one-fourth in 1995, stopped all imports from Canada by 1998. The GM canola was diverted to the low-priced Chinese market. Not only did Canadian canola prices fall to a record low,(26) Canada even lost their EU honey exports due to the GM pollen contamination.
Australia benefited significantly from Canada's folly. By 2006, the EU was buying 38 percent of Australia's canola exports.(27) Nonetheless, Monsanto's people in Australia claimed that GM canola was the way to get more competitive. They told farmers that Roundup Ready canola would yield up to 30 percent more. But when an investigator looked at the best trial yields on Monsanto's web site, it was 17 percent below the national average canola yield. When that was publicized, the figures quickly disappeared from the Monsanto's site. Two Aussie states did allow GM canola and sure enough, they are suffering from loss of foreign markets.
In Australia and elsewhere, the non-GMO farmers also suffer. Market prices drop, and farmers spend more to set up segregation systems, GMO testing, buffer zones, and separate storage and shipping channels to try to hold onto non-GMO markets. Even then, they risk contamination and lost premiums.
GM farmers don't earn or produce more
Monsanto has been quite successful in convincing farmers that GM crops are the ticket to greater yields and higher profits. You still hear that rhetoric at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). But a 2006 USDA report "could not find positive financial impacts in either the field-level nor the whole-farm analysis" for adoption of Bt corn and Roundup Ready soybeans. They said, "Perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of [GM] crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative."(28)
Similarly, the Canadian National Farmers Union (NFU) flatly states, "The claim that GM seeds make our farms more profitable is false."(29) Net farm incomes in Canada plummeted since the introduction of GM canola, with the last five years being the worst in Canada's history.
In spite of numerous advertising claims that GM crops increase yield, the average GM crop from Monsanto reduces yield. This was confirmed by the most comprehensive evaluation on the subject, conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2009. Called Failure to Yield, the report demonstrated that in spite of years of trying, GM crops return fewer bushels than their non-GM counterparts. Even the 2006 USDA report stated that "currently available GM crops do not increase the yield potential of a hybrid variety. . . . In fact, yield may even decrease if the varieties used to carry the herbicide tolerant or insect-resistant genes are not the highest yielding cultivars."(30)
US farmers had expected higher yields with Roundup Ready soybeans, but independent studies confirm a yield loss of 4 to 11percent.(31) Brazilian soybean yields are also down since Roundup Ready varieties were introduced.(32) In Canada, a study showed a 7.5 percent lower yield with Roundup Ready canola.(33)
The Canadian National Farmers Union (NFU) observed, "Corporate and government managers have spent millions trying to convince farmers and other citizens of the benefits of genetically-modified (GM) crops. But this huge public relations effort has failed to obscure the truth: GM crops do not deliver the promised benefits; they create numerous problems, costs, and risks. . . . It would be too generous even to call GM crops a solution in search of a problem: These crops have failed to provide significant solutions."(34)
Herbicide use rising due to GMOs
Monsanto bragged that their Roundup Ready technology would reduce herbicide, but at the same time they were building new Roundup factories to meet their anticipated increase in demand. They got it. According to USDA data, the amount of herbicide used in the US increased by 382.6 million pounds over 13 years. Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans accounted for 92 percent of the total increase. Due to the proliferation of Roundup resistant weeds, herbicide use is accelerating rapidly. From 2007 to 2008, herbicide used on GM herbicide tolerant crops skyrocketed by 31.4 percent.(35) Furthermore, as weeds fail to respond to Roundup, farmers also rely on more toxic pesticides such as the highly poisonous 2,4-D.
In spite of Monsanto's assurances that it wouldn't be a problem, contamination has been a consistent and often overwhelming hardship for seed dealers, farmers, manufacturers, even entire food sectors. The biotech industry recommends buffer zones between fields, but these have not been competent to protect non-GM, organic, or wild plants from GMOs. A UK study showed canola cross-pollination occurring as far as 26 km away.(36)
But pollination is just one of several ways that contamination happens. There is also seed movement by weather and insects, crop mixing during harvest, transport, and storage, and very often, human error. The contamination is North America is so great, it is difficult for farmers to secure pure non-GM seed. In Canada, a study found 32 of 33 certified non-GM canola seeds were contaminated.(37) Most of the non-GM soy, corn, and canola seeds tested in the US also contained GMOs.(38)
Contamination can be very expensive. StarLink corn -- unapproved for human consumption -- ended up the US food supply in 2000 and resulted in an estimated price tag of $1 billion. The final cost of GM rice contamination in the US in 2006 could be even higher.
Deadly deception in India
Monsanto ran a poster series called, "TRUE STORIES OF FARMERS WHO HAVE SOWN BT COTTON." One featured a farmer who claimed great benefits, but when investigators tracked him down, he turned out to be a cigarette salesman, not a farmer. Another poster claimed yields by the pictured farmer that were four times what he actually achieved. One poster showed a farmer standing next to a tractor, suggesting that sales of Bt cotton allowed him to buy it. But the farmer was never told what the photo was to be used for, and said that with the yields from Bt, "I would not be able to buy even two tractor tires."
In addition to posters, Monsanto's cotton marketers used dancing girls, famous Bollywood actors, even religious leaders to pitch their products. Some newspaper ads looked like a news stories and featured relatives of seed salesmen claiming to be happy with Bt. Sometimes free pesticides were given away with the seeds, and some farmers who helped with publicity got free seeds.
Scientists published a study claiming that Monsanto's cotton increased yields in India by 70 to 80 percent. But they used only field trial data provided to them by Monsanto. Actual yields turn out to be quite different:
• India News(39) reported studies showing a loss of about 18 percent.
• An independent study in Andhra Pradesh "done on [a] season-long basis continuously for three years in 87 villages" showed that growing Bt cotton cost 12 percent more, yielded 8.3 percent less, and the returns over three years were 60 percent less.(40)
• Another report identified a yield loss in the Warangal district of 30 to 60 percent. The official report, however, was tampered with. The local Deputy Director of Agriculture confirmed on Feb. 1, 2005 that the yield figures had been secretly increased to 2.7 times higher than what farms reported. Once the state of Andhra Pradesh tallied all the actual yields, they demanded approximately $10 million USD from Monsanto to compensate farmers for losses. Monsanto refused.
In sharp contrast to the independent research done by agronomists, Monsanto commissioned studies to be done by market research agencies. One, for example, claimed four times the actual reduction in pesticide use, 12 times the actual yield, and 100 times the actual profit.(41)
In Andhra Pradesh, where 71 percent of farmers who used Bt cotton ended up with financial losses, farmers attacked the seed dealer's office and even "tied up Mahyco Monsanto representatives in their villages," until the police rescued them.(42)
In spite of great losses and unreliable yields, Monsanto has skillfully eliminated the availability of non-GM cotton seeds in many regions throughout India, forcing farmers to buy their varieties.
Farmers borrow heavily and at high interest rates to pay four times the price for the GM varieties, along with the chemicals needed to grow them. When Bt cotton performs poorly and can't even pay back the debt, desperate farmers resort to suicide, often drinking unused pesticides. In one region, more than three Bt cotton farmers take their own lives each day. The UK Daily Mail estimates that the total number of Bt cotton-related suicides in India is a staggering 125,000.
Doctors orders: no genetically modified food
A greater tragedy may be the harm from the dangerous GM foods produced by Monsanto. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has called on all physicians to prescribe diets without GM foods to all patients.(43) They called for a moratorium on GMOs, long-term independent studies, and labeling. They stated, "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. "There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation…"
Former AAEM President Dr. Jennifer Armstrong says, "Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions." Renowned biologist Pushpa M. Bhargava believes that GMOs are a major contributor to the deteriorating health in America.
Pregnant women and babies at great risk
GM foods are particularly dangerous for pregnant moms and children. After GM soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died -- compared to 10 percent deaths among controls fed natural soy.(44) GM-fed babies were smaller, and possibly infertile.(45)
Testicles of rats fed GM soy changed from the normal pink to dark blue.(46) Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm.(47) Embryos of GM soy-fed parent mice had changed DNA.(48) And mice fed GM corn had fewer, and smaller, babies.(49)
In Haryana, India, most buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had reproductive complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, and infertility; many calves died. About two dozen US farmers said thousands of pigs became sterile from certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water. Cows and bulls also became infertile.(50)
In the US, incidence of low birth weight babies, infertility, and infant mortality are all escalating.
Food that produces poison
Monsanto's GM corn and cotton are engineered to produce a built-in pesticide called Bt-toxin -- produced from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. When bugs bite the plant, poison splits open their stomach and kills them. Organic farmers and others use natural Bt bacteria spray for insect control, so Monsanto claims that Bt-toxin must be safe.
The Bt-toxin produced in GM plants, however, is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray, is designed to be more toxic,(51) has properties of an allergen, and cannot be washed off the plant.
Moreover, studies confirm that even the less toxic natural spray can be harmful. When dispersed by plane to kill gypsy moths in Washington and Vancouver, about 500 people reported allergy or flu-like symptoms.(52)(53) The same symptoms are now reported by farm workers from handling Bt cotton throughout India.(54)
GMOs provoke immune reactions
GMO safety expert Arpad Pusztai says changes in immune status are "a consistent feature of all the [animal] studies."(55) From Monsanto's own research to government funded trials, rodents fed Bt corn had significant immune reactions.(56)(57)
Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50 percent. Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles says "I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it."
GM soy and corn contain new proteins with allergenic properties,(58) and GM soy has up to seven times more of a known soy allergen.(59) Perhaps the US epidemic of food llergies and asthma is a casualty of genetic manipulation.
Animals dying in large numbers
In India, animals graze on cotton plants after harvest. But when shepherds let sheep graze on Bt cotton plants, thousands died. Investigators said preliminary evidence "strongly suggests that the sheep mortality was due to a toxin. . . . most probably Bt-toxin."(60) In one small study, all sheep fed Bt cotton plants died; those fed natural plants remained healthy.
In an Andhra Pradesh village, buffalo grazed on cotton plants for eight years without incident. On Jan. 3, 2008, 13 buffalo grazed on Bt cotton plants for the first time. All died within three days.(61) Monsanto's Bt corn is also implicated in the deaths horses, water buffaloes, and chickens in the Philippines.(62)
Lab studies of GM crops by other companies also show mortalities. Twice the number of chickens fed Liberty Link corn died; seven of 40 rats fed a GM tomato died within two weeks.(63) And a farmer in Germany says his cows died after exclusively eating Syngenta's GM corn.
GMOs remain inside of us
The only published human feeding study revealed that even after we stop eating GMOs, harmful GM proteins may be produced continuously inside of us; genes inserted into Monsanto's GM soy transfer into bacteria inside our intestines and continue to function.(64) If Bt genes also transfer, eating corn chips might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.
Biologist David Schubert of the Salk Institute says, "If there are problems [with GMOs], we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop." In the nine years after GM crops were introduced in 1996, Americans with three or more chronic diseases jumped from 7 percent to 13 percent.(65) But without any human clinical trials or post marketing surveillance, we may never know if GMOs are a contributor.
In spite of the enormous health dangers, the environmental impacts may be worse still. That is because we don't have a technology to fully clean up the contaminated gene pool. The self-propagating genetic pollution released into the environment from Monsanto's crops can outlast the effects of climate change and nuclear waste.
Replacing nature: "Nothing shall be eaten that we don't own"
As Monsanto has moved forward with its master plan to replace nature, they have led the charge in buying up seed businesses and are now the world's largest. At least 200 independent seed companies have disappeared over 13 years, non-GMO seed availability is dwindling, and Monsanto is jacking up their seed prices dramatically. Corn is up more than 30 percent and soy nearly 25 percent, over 2008 prices.(66)
An Associated Press exposé (67) reveals how Monsanto's onerous contracts allowed them to manipulate, then dominate, the seed industry using unprecedented legal restrictions. One contract provision, for example, "prevented bidding wars" and "likely helped Monsanto buy 24 independent seed companies throughout the Farm Belt over the last few years: that corn seed agreement says that if a smaller company changes ownership, its inventory with Monsanto's traits 'shall be destroyed immediately.'"
With that restriction in place, the seed companies couldn't even think of selling to a company other than Monsanto. According to attorney David Boies, who represents DuPont -- owner of Pioneer Seeds: "If the independent seed company is losing their license and has to destroy their seeds, they're not going to have anything, in effect, to sell," Boies said. "It requires them to destroy things -- destroy things they paid for -- if they go competitive. That's exactly the kind of restriction on competitive choice that the antitrust laws outlaw." Boies was a prosecutor on the antitrust case against Microsoft. He is now working with DuPont in their civil antitrust lawsuit against Monsanto.
Monsanto also has the right to cancel deals and wipe out the inventory of a business if the confidentiality clauses are violated:
"We now believe that Monsanto has control over as much as 90 percent of (seed genetics). This level of control is almost unbelievable,' said Neil Harl, agricultural economist at Iowa State University who has studied the seed industry for decades."
Monsanto also controls and manipulates farmers through onerous contracts. Troy Roush, for example, is one of hundreds accused by Monsanto of illegally saving their seeds. The company requires farmers to sign a contract that they will not save and replant GM seeds from their harvest. That way Monsanto can sell its seeds -- at a premium -- each season.
Although Roush maintains his innocence, he was forced to settle with Monsanto after two and a half years of court battles. He says his "family was just destroyed [from] the stress involved." Many farmers are afraid, according to Roush, because Monsanto has "created a little industry that serves no other purpose than to wreck farmers' lives." Monsanto has collected an estimated $200 million from farmers thus far.
Roush says, "They are in the process of owning food, all food." Paraguayan farmer Jorge Galeano says, "Its objective is to control all of the world's food production." Renowned Indian physicist and community organizer Vandana Shiva says, "If they control seed, they control food; they know it, it's strategic. It's more powerful than bombs; it's more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world."
Our food security lies in diversity -- both biodiversity, and diversity of owners and interests. Any single company that consolidates ownership of seeds, and therefore power over the food supply, is a dangerous threat. Of all the corporations in the world, however, the one we should trust the least is Monsanto. With them at the helm, the impact could be cataclysmic.