Big Brother in the “Big Apple”: Encircling Manhattan with thousands of surveillance cameras

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, September 15, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

New York’s Mass Surveillance Plan Fast-Tracked by the NYPD. Mukasey Hands FBI Broad New Powers

Last month Antifascist Calling reported on a scheme by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to encircle Manhattan with thousands of surveillance cameras and sensors that would photograph all vehicles entering the city. Information captured by this intrusive system would be stored in a huge database for an undisclosed period of time. That plan is now moving forward with a vengeance.

The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative (LMSI) and a related program, Operation Sentinel, are modeled after London’s so-called “Ring of Steel.” In London, roads entering the city are narrowed and have tight serpentine curves that force drivers to slow down and be recorded by CCTV cameras. Typically, such roads have concrete or reinforced plastic medians with a sentry box where police stand guard and monitor traffic flows. Following the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks in London, security has been stepped up, with occasional spot checks by machine-gun toting police of cars and trucks entering the security cordon.

As it now stands, LMSI would link a matrix of 3,000 public and private surveillance cameras for monitoring and tracking vehicles and pedestrians south of Canal Street, the city’s financial hub. Other features of the system include mobile roadblocks that could swivel into place and block off any given street to traffic.

But as Durham University geographer Stephen Graham argues, these intrusive projects presuppose an “inside” and “outside” within a militarized urban space. Graham writes,

In a world of intensifying transnational migration, transport, capital and media flows … such attempts at constructing a mutually exclusive binary–a securitized ‘inside’ enclosing the urban places of the US Empire’s ‘homeland’, and an urbanizing ‘outside’, where US military power can pre-emptively attack places deemed sources of ‘terrorist’ threats–are inevitably both ambivalent and ridden with contradictions. They rest alongside the ratcheting-up of state surveillance and repression against Others targeted within US cities and society. They are paralleled … by military strategies which increasingly treat the ‘inside’ spaces within the US and the ‘foreign’ ones in the rest of the world as a single, integrated, ‘battlespace’ prone to the rapid movements of ‘terrorist’ threats into the geographical and urban heartlands of US power at any instant. And they obscure the complex geographies and political economies of ‘primitive accumulation’ which closely tie predatory post-war ‘reconstruction’ and oil contracts in Iraq, and homeland security contracts in US cities, to the same cartel of Bush-friendly oil companies, defence and security contractors and ‘private military corporations.’ (“Cities and the ‘War on Terror’,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Volume 30.2, June 2006, pp. 255-276)

As I have frequently reported, “homeland security” corporations and a related complex of right-wing think tanks and terrorism “specialists” drawn from academia and the media have sprung up across the U.S. Empire’s urban “battlespace” like so-many genetically-modified weeds.

Armed with a (highly-profitable) brief to “keep America safe,” the net result has been the strangling of democratic processes and institutions. While its corollary, lack of accountability and state criminality, are the built-in features of a “war on terror” promulgated by an illegitimate regime that operates privately and secretly and which demands only silence from a terrorized and compliant population.

In light of recent moves to securitize New York’s financial district as a first step towards militarizing the city as a whole, Operation Sentinel would photograph the license plates of every car and truck entering Manhattan across bridges or through tunnels. Under the proposal, radiation sensors would scan every vehicle for nuclear materials which could potentially be used in manufacturing a “dirty bomb.”

However, as I previously reported the technology to do so does not exist. Indeed, a recent story in The Washington Post confirms my initial assessment that Operation Sentinel is little more than a corporatist scam.

Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) monitors designed by major defense contractors Raytheon, Thermo Electron and Canberra Industries failed to perform as advertised after Congress had allocated tens of million of dollars for the system.

The program is now being scaled back after an audit report by the Government Accountability Office determined that the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) “misled Congress about the testing, cost and effectiveness of the machines. Budget documents this year showed the cost to put the monitors at borders and ports would be far higher than the detection office originally estimated,” according to the Post.

DNDO “is not sure” what methods it will deploy to screen “rail cars, privately owned vehicles, airport cargo and cargo at seaport terminals” in the near future, the report said. (emphasis added)

The lack of a reliable nuclear detection system will not deter NYPD officials however, who continue claiming Operation Sentinel is on a fast-track. But whether or not radiation monitors actually work, it now appears that the primary thrust of the project is to scrutinize all vehicles entering Manhattan. Information captured by the system will be stored in a huge database amenable to the usual data-mining techniques employed by the U.S. intelligence “community.”

However, last Monday the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), filed a lawsuit in New York’s State Supreme Court “challenging the NYPD’s refusal to disclose information about its plan to create a massive surveillance network in downtown Manhattan.” According to a statement by NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman,

“The NYPD is planning blanket surveillance of millions of law-abiding New Yorkers, but it refuses to disclose even the simplest details of this costly proposal. A plan of this scope, expense and intrusiveness demands robust public debate and legislative oversight. The public has a right to this information.” (New York Civil Liberties Union, “NYCLU Sues NYPD for Information on Massive Surveillance Plan,” Press Release, September 8, 2008)

With initial estimates to complete the system in the range of $100 million, massive cost overruns can be expected as high-tech security and other corporate grifters scramble to reap the benefits of federal, state and city largesse.

Among the many unanswered questions about the LMSI and Operation Sentinel, the NYCLU is seeking clarification on the scope of information gathered about citizens; how the cops intend to use the surveillance videos; with whom will police share captured video data; how long will such information be retained in its database; what privacy protections, if any, are built into the system; which private surveillance systems will be incorporated into LMSI; will assessments of London’s “Ring of Steel” be made prior to LMSI’s launch date; and finally, the extent of city funding.

Needless to say, the NYPD have been less than forthcoming. According to The New York Times, the police all but accused the NYCLU of aiding and abetting “terrorism” for seeking information on their intrusive programs. The Times reported,

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said the department had already released as much information as it could without compromising its plans for an area of the city–and nation–that has repeatedly been a target of terrorists.

“We have already provided the N.Y.C.L.U. with information short of a road map for terrorists to use in another attack on the financial district,” Mr. Browne said. ( Al Baker, “Group Sues for Details on Security Downtown,” The New York Times, September 9, 2008)

With grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), New York City is listed as a “tier 1” city by DHS. Accordingly, the New York State Office of Homeland Security (NYOHS) has designated that the NYPD and the Port Authority Police Department will be able to disperse funds in order to implement the proposed LMSI for “full-time counterterrorism duties” including “intergovernmental assignments.”

And a NYOHS “Program Guidance” document, states that “counterterrorism duties include such activities as intelligence gathering, information-sharing, and surveillance.”

Under the umbrella of the UASI, DHS is disbursing some $781.6 million “to build capabilities in high-threat, high-density urban areas across the country. The seven highest risk urban areas will receive a combined total of $429.9 million, and 53 high-risk urban areas will receive a total of $351.7 million.” New York’s LMSI clearly fall within these federal guidelines and undoubtedly, the feds will have major input in decision making.

As with other federal homeland security programs, the lack of civilian oversight appear to be de rigueur. Indeed, the New York City Council first learned of these programs when they were reported in the media. One might also reasonably inquire: “intelligence gathering, information-sharing, and surveillance” on whom and for what purpose?

If recent massive police preemptive actions in St. Paul during the run-up to the Republican National Convention are an indication of the direction “counterterrorist operations” are heading we can only surmise that the NYPD’s LMSI represent nothing less than a quantum leap towards the construction of a panoptic surveillance state.

Indeed, the World Socialist Web Site reported that eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee, an anarchist group that spearheaded protests in St. Paul have been charged with “terrorism.” The organizers have been brought up on conspiracy charges simply for attempting to organize marches and civil disobedience in Minnesota earlier this month during the coronation of right-wing presidential and vice presidential candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin, the darling of the theocratic Christian Right.

In what may be the first case of its kind, American citizens have been arrested and charged as terrorists for no other act than planning to protest and obstruct a political event. In this case the occasion was the nominating convention of a party chiefly responsible for policies detested by the majority of Americans, including the war in Iraq and the enrichment of a tiny layer of the enormously wealthy. (Tom Eley, “Political dissent as terrorism: ‘Minnesota Patriot Act’ charges filed against RNC Eight,” World Socialist Web Site, 11 September 2008)

As Eley points out, “more alarming than the case itself, however, is the fact that it has gone virtually unnoted by the national news media. This reporter could also find no mention of the case on the web sites of left-liberal publications such as the Nation, the Progressive, or In These Times.”

But as with all such repressive actions, the goal of “preemptive policing” and the mass surveillance that accompany the run-up to “cops-gone-wild” events like St. Paul, their purpose is to intimidate–and serve as a warning–to the population as a whole. In this respect, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative like the NSA’s warrantless spying programs are clearly designed to insure a seamless transition from surveillance to wholesale repression.

Unleashing the FBI: the New COINTELPRO

Meanwhile on the federal front, The Washington Post reports that “The Justice Department will unveil changes to FBI ground rules today that would put much more power into the hands of line agents pursuing leads on national security, foreign intelligence and even ordinary criminal cases.” Carrie Johnson writes,

The overhaul touches on several sensitive areas. It would allow, for example, agents to interview people in the United States about foreign intelligence cases without warrants or prior approval of their supervisors. It also would rewrite 1976 guidelines established after Nixon-era abuses that restrict the FBI’s authority to intervene in times of civil disorder and to infiltrate opposition groups. (“Rule Changes Would Give FBI Agents Extensive New Powers,” The Washington Post, September 12, 2008)

In other words, COINTELPRO-style infiltration and neutralization operations by federal gangsters and their paid provocateurs will now be “normalized” under new Bushist rules. However, far from being a case of improving the efficacy of “information gathering” to “detect terrorist threats” as the Post claims, new federal guidelines will create a broad legal framework for the suppression of basic constitutional and democratic rights.

Indeed, under the new rules proposed by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, “threat assessments” based on one’s race, ethnicity or religion will become standard operating procedure as FBI agents and their informants target individuals, or left-wing political groups, solely on the basis of constitutionally-protected speech or religion.

Aping the Sicherheitsdienst (SD, Nazi Security Service) approach to law enforcement, the Bush administration and their minions in the private security sector such as InfraGard, seek to criminalize broad sections of the population who don’t fit a prescribed behavioral “norm.” Denouncing the proposals, the American Civil Liberties wrote,

The rewritten guidelines have been drafted in a way to give the FBI the ability to begin surveillance without factual evidence, stating that a generalized “threat” is enough to use certain techniques. Also under the new guidelines, a person’s race or ethnic background could be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes will institute racial profiling as a matter of policy. The guidelines would also give the FBI the ability to use intrusive investigative techniques in advance of public demonstrations. These techniques would allow agents to conduct pre-textual (undercover) interviews, use informants and conduct physical surveillance in connection with First Amendment protected activities. (“New FBI Guidelines Open Door to Further Abuse,” American Civil Liberties Union, Press Release, September 12, 2008)

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said,

“The new guidelines offer no specifics on how the FBI will ensure that race and religion are not used improperly as proxies for suspicion, nor do they sufficiently limit the extent to which government agents can infiltrate groups exercising their First Amendment rights. The Bush administration’s message once again is ‘trust us.’ After eight years of historic civil liberties abuses, the American people know better. From the U.S. attorney purges to the abuse of national security letters, the Department of Justice and the FBI have repeatedly shown that they are incapable of policing themselves.”

By tossing Nixon-era intelligence guidelines out the window, Mukasey and his masters in the Executive branch are granting line agents, “unparalleled leeway to investigate Americans without proper suspicion, and that will inevitably result in constitutional violations,” according to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Our right to protest the government and its policies is not suspicious behavior; it is constitutionally protected speech.”

Unfortunately, in America’s post-constitutional “new normal,” characterized by an unprecedented looting of social wealth by crony capitalists, bloody wars of aggression, environmental plunder and the general putrefaction of culture under the flag of a “Christian Republic,” protesting the government and its policies are indeed the quintessential hallmarks of suspicious behavior!

Karl Marx perhaps said it best, prefiguring the high-tech barbarism of 21st century America: “The past lies like a nightmare upon the present.”

© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008

The url address of this article is:


Operation Sentinel: The High-Tech Police State Takes Shape

Annals of Homeland Security: Crony Capitalism, Nuclear Terror & the “Advanced Spectroscopic Portal”

RNC in Twin Cities: Eight protesters charged with terrorism under Patriot Act

RoboCops: Professional Policing of Political Protest – An Insider’s Viewpoint

Businessmen can “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law!! (video)

Infragard – First in a Series by Virginia Simson

The FBI Deputizes Business By Matthew Rothschild

Rule Changes Would Give FBI Agents Extensive New Powers

FBI to get freer rein to look for terrorism suspects

Police State


Israel’s dark arts of ensnaring collaborators By Jonathan Cook

Dandelion Salad

By Jonathan Cook
September 13, 2008
Jonathan Cook’s ZSpace Page

(Nazareth) Israel’s enduring use of Palestinian collaborators to entrench the occupation and destroy Palestinian resistance was once the great unmentionable of the Middle East conflict.

When the subject was dealt with by the international and local media, it was solely in the context of the failings of the Palestinian legal system, which allowed the summary execution of collaborators by lynch mobs and kangaroo courts.

That is beginning to change with a trickle of reports indicating the extent of Israel’s use of collaborators and the unwholesome techniques it uses to recruit them. “Co-operation”, it has become clearer, is the very backbone of Israel’s success in maintaining its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Collaboration comes in various guises, including land dealers, who buy Palestinian-owned land to sell it to settlers or the Israeli government; armed agents who assist Israeli soldiers in raids; and infiltrators into the national organisations and their armed wings who foil resistance operations.

But the foundation of the collaboration system is the low-level informant, who passes on the titbits of information about neighbours and community leaders on which Israel’s system of control depends.

Recent reports in the Israeli media, for example, suggest that the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, far from reducing the opportunities for collaboration, may actually have increased them. The current siege of the Strip — in which Israel effectively governs all movement in and out of Gaza — has provided an ideal point of leverage for encouraging collusion.

Masterminding this strategy is the Israeli secret police, the Shin Bet, which has recently turned its attention to sick Gazans and their relatives who need to leave the Strip. With hospitals and medicines in short supply, some patients have little hope of recovery without treatment abroad or in Israel.[…]

ZNet – Israel’s Dark Arts.

h/t: Jewish Peace News

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Bolivia: Fascist right launches ‘civic coup’ by Federico Fuentes & Stuart Munckton

Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission from Green Left Weekly

by Federico Fuentes & Stuart Munckton
13 September 2008

“[Today] a civil-prefectural coup against the unity of the country and democracy has been initiated”, Bolivian minister of government Alfredo Rada declared on September 9, as a growing wave of violence by small gangs of fascist youth engulfed the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

The violence by armed fascist gangs, backed by local authorities, spread in the following days throughout the rest of the so-called “half-moon” — the four eastern departments of Santa Cruz, Pando, Beni and Tarija.

The half moon is home to much of Bolivia’s natural resources and the main base of opposition to the left-wing government of President Evo Morales from the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), who on August 10 won a recall referendum on his presidency with 67% of the vote.

With a sizeable white middle class, compared the largely indigenous west, the oligarchy in the east has worked overtime to whip up a racist frenzy against a national government headed by Bolivia’s first ever indigenous president and the largely indigenous social movements that back it.

The oligarchy has pushed for “autonomy” from the national government in a manoeuvre aimed to protect its privileges from the national government’s pro-people measures, and now appears to be attempting to impose its domination of the half moon by force.

Reign of terror

Incited by the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, which groups together sectors of the oligarchy, and with the collaboration of the departmental prefects in the east and the US embassy, on September 9 the fascist shock troops of the Santa Cruz Youth Union (UJC) laid siege to public institutions, NGOs, community radio stations and the offices of the state TV channel, in some cases attempting to burn them down.

That same day, the head of the parliamentary bloc of the right-wing Podemos party and large landowner, Antonio Franco, “applauded” the violent takeovers, while Podemos deputy for Santa Cruz, Oscar Urenda, issued an open call to arms.

“If we are going to talk about confrontation, then lets talk about confrontation, if we are going to talk about war, there will be war, but they are not going to able to impose things on us”, he proclaimed. “We are strong enough to split this country and if I have to grab a log, a gun, I will do it, I’m going to defend my territory.”

An eyewitness account from September 12 published on writes: “What started on September 9th as vandalism against public institutions has developed into a fascist orgy of violence which threatens civil war.”

The writer states: “The list of occupied institutions is long. Everything from tax offices, administration of land, immigration authorities to the department of forestry was brutally destroyed. The national administration of land had its entire inventory destroyed and burned, and the same happened to the nationalized telecom company ENTEL. ENTEL had its entire main building smashed and the fascist hordes stole everything of value.”

The writer reported a “consistent attack on all social organizations and government supporters. In Santa Cruz, the human rights organization Cejis, is ravaged and their entire inventory is burned and destroyed. The same happens to CIDOB, the indigenous people’s main organization in Eastern Bolivia. All left wing leaders are hunted and many have had to go underground.”

“In … Tarija, the fascist gangs attack the peasants’ marketplace. Molotov cocktails are thrown at all the stalls … One right wing leader declares Tarija to be independent and declares civil war in the region.”

According to a September 12 Reuters report, the government has accused the fascists of “a real massacre” against government supporters in Pando with at least 15 people recorded killed. The national government is seeking the arrest of Pando prefect, Leopoldo Fernandez, who is alleged to have organised the killings. Fernandez has fled to Brazil.

According to a September 10 AP report, opposition protesters blew up a pipeline in Tariji, reducing the flow of gas to Brazil by half at one point. The protests also interrupted the flow of gas to Argentina. Santos Ramirez, president of the state oil company, YPFB, called the explosion “a terrorist attack”.

In response, additional troops were immediately ordered to the eastern departments to secure gas and oil installations. Gas exports to Argentina and Brazil were returning to normal by September 12, according to a Reuters report that day.


The attempt to seize power through brute force in the half moon is clear, but it has been met by a counter-offensive by the government and the powerful social movements that support the process of change.

The eyewitness account provides one example of the heroic actions of supporters of the government in the Plan 3000 working class neighbourhood: “The workers have rallied to a massive defence against the 400 young fascists who attack the marketplace with clubs, Molotov cocktails and hand weapons. Rapidly, thousands rally for the defence which develops into extreme violence with many wounded. About 3 o’clock at night, the fascists have been driven out, but the inhabitants keep the entrenchment defended.”

In the lead-up to the current wave of violence, Morales declared that his government would ensure that the institutions and security of the state were respected and called for the “unity of the people and the Armed Forces to defend the process of change”, according to the September 9 Argentine daily Clarin.

The article reported that phone calls had poured into the state radio station asking Morales to decree a state of emergency.

Minister of the presidency Juan Ramon Quintana, however, stated on September 9 that the government would not declare a state of emergency, arguing that the opposition wanted to provoke repression in order to have a banner around which to mobilise wider sections of the population against the government.

The commander of the army’s eighth division, General Marco Bracamonte, declared that the military would prevent any further takeover of oil and gas installations and defend the security of the state.

On September 10, the Six Federations of Coca Growers of the Tropics of Cochabamba, the union organisation from which Morales emerged and still remains president of, along with peasant organisations in Santa Cruz, began to cut off Santa Cruz’s road access.

The Chapare coca-growing region in Cochabamba — a MAS stronghold — is strategically located with the main highway connecting Santa Cruz to Bolivia’s west running through it.

Other social organisations also began to block road access to the other eastern departments.

A September 11 Prensa Latina article reported on the pledge to continue and strengthen the blockade of Santa Cruz by the National Coordinator for Change (CONALCAM), which unites many of the social movements that support the process of change led by Morales.

Permanent mobilisation

Fidel Surco, president of the Confederation of Colonisers — an organisation of indigenous campesinos — announced that CONALCAM had called for “permanent mobilisations” until Congress ratifies a referendum on adopting the new draft constitution scheduled for December, according to Prensa Latina.

The draft constitution, which would expand the rights of indigenous people, enshrine greater state control over natural resources and open the way for redistribution of large land holdings to impoverished campesinos, is a key source of conflict.

A key demand of the right-wing forces in the half moon is to withdraw plans for a referendum on adopting the text.

On September 10, Morales announced the expulsion from Bolivia of the US ambassador, Philip Goldberg, for his role in backing the coup. Goldberg had publicly urged the US to intervene on the side of the ‘half moon authorities behind the violence.
Golberg was given 72 hours to leave the country.

On September 11, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave the US ambassador in Caracas 72 hours to leave, in solidarity with Bolivia. On September 12, ABN reported that Honduras had suspended recognition of the US’s ambassador to it in solidarity with Venezuela and Bolivia.

The US responded be expelling the Venezuelan and Bolivian ambassadors from its territory

On September 11, Chavez offered Venezuelan military assistance in defence of democracy to Bolivia. “If any or our governments is overthrown, we will have a green light to perform military operations of any type to give the power back to the people in those countries”, Chavez insisted according to a September 1 Xinhua report.

Struggle for power

The “civic coup” that has been unleashed comes on the back of three weeks of small but violent demonstrations, generally limited to the inner city areas of the capitals of the half moon departments.

Protesters assaulted indigenous people, social movement leaders, MAS councillors, police officers and soldiers as well as initiating road blocks, occupying airports and state institutions and even physically taking over military airplanes.

The protests have focused on the issue of the revenue from the “direct tax on hydrocarbons”. More of the revenue from natural gas used to be directed towards the departmental authorities, but the Morales government is seeking to redirect revenue towards anti-poverty social programs, such as a new universal old-aged pension.

With moves towards nationalisation of Bolivia’s sizeable gas reserves — opposed by the opposition parties who, when in power, sought to privatise the industry — royalties from hydrocarbons have skyrocketed. As a result, even with the government’s redistribution policies, revenue to departments has still significantly increased.

Five of the nine departments are controlled by prefects openly hostile to the national government (the half moon plus Chuquisaca) and these authorities have used the increased funds to help organise violent destabilisation measures against the national government.

Since Morales’s crushing 67.4% victory in the recall referendum, his government has announced its intention for a referendum on the new constitution drafted by an elected constituent assembly.

While Morales issued a decree to hold the referendum on December 7, the National Electoral Court ruled that it would not hold the consultation as such a referendum had to be approved by parliament.

Oscar Ortiz, president of the Podemos-controlled Senate threatend on September 10 to intensify the violent protests if MAS insisted on its campaign to approve the new constitution, which would declare Bolivia a “plurinational state”.

Behind the half moon prefects and civic committees stand large agribusiness interests and gas transnationals who see their interests threaten by the advance of the self-proclaimed “democratic and cultural revolution” led by Morales.

Fearing the consolidation of the process of change, the rich elites have stepped up their attempts to oust the Morales government.

US role

The government has accused Santa Cruz Civic Committee president Branco Marinkovic, who only hours before had returned from a visit to Miami, of being the instigator of the plan to set the country alight.

Marinkovic, who has helped direct the UJC violence, is accused of acting “with the financial support and advise by ex-minister Carlos Sanchez Berzain, who is accused of genocide in Bolivia”, reported ABI on September 9.

Berzain is wanted in Bolivia on various charges relating to the deaths of more than 60 people in a massacre in 2003 that attempted to crush an uprising against plans to privatise Bolivia’s gas industry, when he was justice minister.

While Bolivia has asked the US to extradite both Berzain and Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (president in 2003), the Bush administration has refused to collaborate. Instead, Berzain was granted asylum in the US in July.

Further evidence of the role of the US in the current coup was demonstrated in a brazen display of imperial arrogance when Goldberg declared that “Washington should interfere in [Bolivia’s] internal affairs” and “called on the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales to pay attention to the demands of the opposition”.

Golberg merely confirmed what the MAS government has long asserted: Washington is directly involved in the plot to overthrow Morales, including via increased funding to opposition parties, “civil society” organisations and pro-autonomy groups.

On August 25, Goldberg secretly met with Santa Cruz prefect Ruben Costas, only nine days after Costas had announced plans to violate the national law by implementing a series of “autonomy” measures aimed at undermining the national government.

Morales declared the decision to expel Goldberg to be a homage to the historic struggle of the Bolivian people against imperialism — adding that only the people organised can defend democracy.

According to a September 12 AP report, Morales decreed a state of emergency in Pando, sending fresh troops to secure control. The carrying of weapons is banned under the decree “to safeguard lives and the collective good”, according to Rada.

The decree came after the authorities in the half moon finally agreed to national government requests to enter into talks to resolve the crisis.

It is clear that the talks will centre on the question of the referendum on the new constitution, with the secretary for autonomy in Santa Cruz stating: “We all agree that we have to look for a point of compromise.”

Speaking in Cochabamba, Morales stated that opponents “have every right to reject the new constitution, but through the vote and not through violence”.

However the current crisis resolves itself, the battle between poor, mostly indigenous oppressed majority and the racist, US-backed oligarchy is a central part of the continent-wide struggle against US domination and neoliberalism.

Supporters of social justice around the world need to raise their voices against US intervention and fascism in Bolivia, and for democracy.

For ongoing news, as well as to sign on to an international statement of support for Bolivia, visit]


Oppose the fascist coup in Bolivia! (Sign the petition)

Venezuela: New coup plot exposed, US ambassador expelled

The Threat of a Military Coup in Bolivia? by Jorge Martin

From Pristina to La Paz: Expelled US Ambassador to Bolivia had been in charge of Kosovo Secession

Is Obama a socialist?

Dandelion Salad

crossposted on current

Posted with permission by:

World Socialist Party (US)

13 September 2008

We got a an e-mail recently from some right-wing blogger for the New York Times who asked if we considered Barack Obama a socialist and if we supported his tax plans. blah, blah, blah. We won’t pass judgment on an article which may or may not see the light of day. But most likely this was another piece attempting to get someone calling themselves socialist to endorse Obama or one of his policies. Once that confession is procured, it will be widely touted as proof of Obama being a socialist, an elitist, etc.

But is Obama a socialist? OMFno-G no.

Obama isn’t anymore a socialist than McCain is a fascist, a leprechaun or sincere. Sure, Obama wants more government control of economic matters. But as even Obama said if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. Capitalism administered by the state is still capitalism. Duh.

No one’s calling Bush a socialist because he nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Because it’s not socialism. So why call Obama a socialist?

This election is all about two factions of capitalism competing for power with each-other.

The methods each faction uses to mobilize the working class to support them says much about the lack of class-consciousness in the US today.

The Democratic faction uses appeals for “justice” and “equality”, for tax breaks for workers even though most workers don’t “pay” enough taxes to make the breaks more than pavlovian whistles. Sure “equality” sounds nice, but it cannot happen in class society. The vast majority of people are workers for a reason – to create wealth for new rounds of capital growth. Those who benefit from that capital growth can be individual capitalists or state functionaries, but it’s workers who do the physical labor which creates the wealth. There can be no equality or justice in capitalism. Even if the capitalist class has now opened it’s membership roles to non-whites and females.

For being so slavish to Christian zealots, one would think the Republicans would “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. But being able to pay for such things as public infrastructure – ie highways, electric system, etc. takes a backseat to the accumulation of capital for massive investment in China, Mexico and India. So like the Democratic faction, they seek to slash public spending and taxes. Of course, underscoring their religious hypocrisy, the Republicans have spent more than any other administration building US federal debts to record highs. It is fortunate that US federal bonds which pay for all that debt are held by those whose taxes were cut – the capitalists. Kaching! profit on both transactions!


“Change” Part I: Has the West Reached Its Limits? by Richard C. Cook

Obama calls for US military mobilization (draft)




“Change” Part I: Has the West Reached Its Limits? by Richard C. Cook

by Richard C. Cook
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Sept. 14, 2008

“Train-wreck” doesn’t even begin to describe what is starting to happen to the U.S. today with the financial crisis, an onrushing depression, and the failure of George W. Bush’s war policy as he is faced down by Iran and the Russian bear.

But in an even broader sense, the West, as a civilization, after a century of world war and the utter failure of global finance capitalism, may have reached its limits.

Those with a vested interest in the status quo dismiss any suggestion that something is wrong. This includes Donald Luskin, author of an article in the Washington Post on Sunday, September 14, titled: “A Nation of Exaggerators: Quit Doling Out That Bad Economy Line.” Continue reading

Bill Moyers Journal: Rage on the Radio + Media Analysis

Dandelion Salad

Bill Moyers Journal

Sept 12, 2008

Rage on the Radio

What happens when America’s airwaves fill with hate? BILL MOYERS JOURNAL takes a tough look at the hostile industry of “Shock Jock” media with a hard-hitting examination of its effects on our nation’s political discourse.

Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS.


Media Analysis

Media experts Brooke Gladstone and Les Payne take stock of how the media have fared in the 2008 cycle. Do political partisans on both sides prefer propaganda to the facts?

Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS.


Aiding the National Guard

Response to the story “Weekend Warriors Off to Iraq.” BILL MOYERS JOURNAL gives viewers an intimate look at how deployments of National Guard troops to Iraq affect the state Governors’ ability to swiftly respond to domestic disaster at home and impact the families left behind. Traveling to New Jersey, THE JOURNAL follows families preparing for the deployment of nearly half of New Jersey’s National Guard to Iraq.

Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS.

*** is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that aims to monitor the accuracy of major national candidates’ statements and rhetoric.

The Fact-Checker
Run by veteran journalist Michael Dobbs, The Fact-Checker is a project of the WASHINGTON POST that publishes research evaluating and providing background and context to candidate statements and popular political stories.

Politifact and Truth-0-Meter
Politifact is an extensively cross-referenced fact-checking resource run as a joint project by the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES and CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY.


Bill Moyers mentions Jackie Calmes’ September 9, 2008, NEW YORK TIMES article “’08 Rivals Have Ties to Loan Giants.” For more information please visit the Center for Responsive Politics database of campaign contribution information


Rage on the Radio


Segment from the September 12, 2008 broadcast of Bill Moyers’ Journal. Correspondent Rick Karr examines the consequences of hate speech by right-wing radio talk show hosts.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Rage on the Radio 1“, posted with vodpod

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RNC – St Paul-Minneapolis MN

DNC – Denver CO




Obama calls for US military mobilization (draft)

Dandelion Salad

By Patrick Martin
13 September 2008

National service forum at Columbia University

In remarks that clearly pointed toward the restoration of the military draft under an Obama administration, the Democratic candidate said Thursday night that his job as president would include demanding that the American people recognize an “obligation” for military service. “If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some,” Senator Barack Obama declared.

Obama’s comments came as he and his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, took part in a forum on national service at Columbia University in New York City. Earlier in the day, both candidates joined in a memorial service at the site of the World Trade Center, commemorating the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

While “national service” encompasses more than the military, including such government-run programs as the Peace Corps, Americorps and Teach for America, as well as private and religious programs, both McCain and Obama focused on expanding the US Armed Forces as a major goal of the next administration, whether Democratic or Republican.

In an indication of the bipartisan support for the increasing militarization of American society, McCain jokingly offered to name Obama his coordinator for national service if the Republican were to win the election, and Obama reciprocated.


National service forum at Columbia University Obama calls for US military mobilization.


Is Obama a socialist?

Western media justify Iraq, Afghan bloodshed by John Pilger

Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission from Green Left Weekly

by John Pilger
13 September 2008

Try to laugh, please. The news is now officially parody and a game for all the family to play.

First question: Why are “we” in Afghanistan?

Answer: “To try to help in the country’s rebuilding program.” Who says so? Huw Edwards, the BBC’s principal newsreader.

What wags the Welsh are.

Second question: Why are “we” in Iraq?

Answer: To “plant a western-style open democracy”. Who says so? Paul Wood, the former BBC defence correspondent, and his boss Helen Boaden, director of BBC News. To prove her point, Boaden supplied with 2700 words of quotations from Tony Blair and George Bush.

Irony? No, she meant it.

Take Andrew Martin, divisional adviser at BBC Complaints, who has been researching Bush’s speeches for “evidence” of noble democratic reasons for laying to waste an ancient civilisation.

Says he: “The ’D’ word is not there, but the phrase ’united, stable and free’ [is] clearly an allusion to it.” After all, he says, the invasion of Iraq “was launched as ’Operation Iraqi Freedom’”.

Moreover, says the BBC man, “in Bush’s 1 May 2003 speech (the one on the aircraft carrier) he talked repeatedly about freedom and explicitly about the Iraqi transition to democracy … These examples show that these were on Bush’s mind before, during and after the invasion.”

Try to laugh, please.

Laughing may be difficult, I agree, given the slaughter of civilians in Afghanistan by “coalition” aircraft, including those directed by British forces engaged in “the country’s rebuilding programme”. The bombing of civilian areas has doubled, along with the deaths of civilians, says Human Rights Watch.

Last month, “our” aircraft slaughtered nearly 100 civilians, two-thirds of them children between the ages of three months and 16 years, while they slept, according to eyewitnesses.

BBC television news initially devoted nine seconds to the Human Rights Watch report, and nothing to the fact that “less than peanuts” (according to an aid worker) is being spent on rebuilding anything in Afghanistan.

As for the notion of a “united, stable and free” Iraq, consider the no-bid contracts handed to the major western oil companies for ownership of Iraq’s oil. “Theft” is a more truthful word.

Written by the companies themselves and US officials, the contracts have been signed off by Bush and Nouri al-Maliki, “prime minister” of Iraq’s “democratic” government that resides in an air-conditioned US fortress.

This is not news.

Try to laugh, please, while you consider the devastation of Iraq’s health, once the best in the Middle East, by the ubiquitous dust from British and US depleted uranium weapons. A World Health Organisation study reporting a cancer epidemic has been suppressed, says its principal author.

This has been reported in Britain only in the Glasgow Sunday Herald and the Morning Star. According to a study last year by Basra University Medical College, almost half of all deaths in the contaminated southern provinces were caused by cancer.

Try to laugh, please, at the recent happy-clappy Nurembergs from which will come the next president of the US. Those paid to keep the record straight have strained to present a spectacle of choice. Barack Obama, the man of “change”, wants to “build a 21st-century military … to stay on the offensive everywhere”.

Here comes the new Cold War, with promises of more bombs, more of the militarised society with its 730 bases worldwide, on which the US people spend US$0.42 of every tax dollar.

At home, Obama offers no authentic measure that might ease the US’s grotesque inequality, such as basic health care. John McCain, his Republican opponent, may well be a media cartoon figure — the fake “war hero” now joined with a Shakespeare-banning, gun-loving, religious fanatic — yet his true significance is that he and Obama share essentially the same dangerous prescriptions.

Thousands of decent US people came to the two nominating conventions to express the dissenting opinion of millions of their compatriots who believe, with good cause, that their democracy is evaporating.

They were intimidated, arrested, beaten, pepper-gassed; and they were patronised or ignored by those paid to keep the record straight.

In the meantime, Justin Webb, the BBC’s North America editor, has launched a book about the US, his “city on a hill”. It is a sort of Mills & Boon view of the rapacious system he admires with such obsequiousness.

The book is called Have a Nice Day.

Try to laugh, please.

[Reprinted from Green Left Weekly is the only Australian newspaper that regularly runs John Pilger’s articles. To read Pilger’s articles regularly, as well as for ongoing information on the “war on terror” that you wont find in the mainstream media, take out a subscription to GLW by visiting, or calling 1800 634 206 (free call in Australia).]


Tomgram: Slaughter, Lies, and Video in Afghanistan

RoboCops: Professional Policing of Political Protest – An Insider’s Viewpoint


RNC – St Paul-Minneapolis MN

DNC – Denver CO




Venezuela: New coup plot exposed, US ambassador expelled

Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission from Green Left Weekly

by Kiraz Janicke
13 September 2008

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the US ambassador in Caracas, Patrick Duddy, to leave the country within 72 hours on September 11.

Chavez announced the measure in solidarity with Bolivia, after Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled US ambassador Phillip Goldberg earlier that day for collaborating with the far right opposition movement currently carrying out violent protests to seize control of Bolivia’s wealthy eastern provinces.

The US has responded by expelling Bolivian and Venezuelan ambassadors from its territory, however Venezuela had already recalled its ambassador in protest.

Chavez said the measure was “in defence of democracy and the revolution in our brother country”, and that “both countries, Venezuela and Bolivia are victims of coup plotting and destabilising actions ‘made in the USA’.”

Venezuela and Bolivia are at the forefront of a continental-wide rebellion against neoliberalism and US domination.

In April 2002, the US backed a military coup against Chavez that was defeated by an uprising of the poor.

On September 10, host of television program The Razorblade and candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) for Carabobo governor in the November elections, Mario Silva, presented a recording in which a new coup and assassination plot planned against Chavez is discussed by former and active military officers.

Among the alleged participants are vice-admiral Carlos Alberto Millan Millan, who was on the verge of becoming commander general of the Navy.

In a fragment of the conversation, retired National Guard general Wilfredo Barroso Herrera outlined the taking over of the Miraflores presidential palace as their main goal: “There has to be only one objective … all our efforts towards where Mr [Chavez] is. If he is in Miraflores, then all our efforts go towards there.”

“We are going to take over Miraflores Palace, we are going to take over television plants”, the recording continued.

Also outlined was a plan to take over control of the Army general command with “the troops inside”, including “those that are in the barracks, in the Callejon Machado, 200 metres from the General Command”.

One of the actions could be to strike while Chavez was on a plane, aiming to “blow him up or capturing him with planes while [in] the air … we have to plan it well”.

In response the National Assembly has announced the creation of a special commission to investigate the coup plot.

National Assembly president Cilia Flores said the private media and opposition political parties are behind the move, ABN reported on September 11.

“They are promoting war. And what would they do with the million of Venezuelans who support the revolutionary government, those who want peace and don’t want to participate in a coup plot? It’s insane … they have openly urged people to rebel, generate violence and not recognise the democratic government.”

The PSUV, a mass party with millions of members and of which Chavez is president, has called for a massive mobilisation outside Miraflores on September 15 in support of Chavez and the revolutionary process.

Green Left Weekly correspondent Federico Fuentes also reported from the industrial city of Puerto Ordaz that Chavez supporters are planning mobilisations across the country.

Thousands of Chavez supporters rallied outside Miaflores on September 11, chanting “Chavez, friend, the people are with you”.


The Threat of a Military Coup in Bolivia? by Jorge Martin

From Pristina to La Paz: Expelled US Ambassador to Bolivia had been in charge of Kosovo Secession

Ike Devastates Cuba: An Eyewitness Report + Help Cuba Recover

Dandelion Salad

Climate and Capitalism
September 11, 2008

A letter from a Canadian living in Cuba

Hola all:

Cuba has been, and continues to be, devastated by Hurricane Ike.

The only thing, and without question the most important thing, that hasn’t been devastated is the will and determination of the Cuban people to surpass this disaster and go forward.

There’s lots of information circulating in the international press about the extent of damages. But there are perhaps a few things that haven’t, and it’s these I want to briefly mention to give you an idea of the extent of damages.

There’s not one province that has gotten off easy. More destruction, less destruction — but all fourteen provinces and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud have suffered from Hurricane Ike. And some have suffered a double impact, especially Pinar del Rio, which is still — as I write this — under Alarma Ciclonica (Hurricane Alarm) due to the intense rains and tropical storm winds that are still hitting the province. All of the province’s 14 municipalities are suffering, but the two municipalities of Los Palacios (south) and Las Palmas (north) have taken the brunt of both Gustav and Ike.


Ike Devastates Cuba: An Eyewitness Report : Climate and Capitalism.


Help Cuba Recover from Its Worst Economic Disaster

Climate and Capitalism
September 12, 2008

Money for hurricane relief is urgently needed

Cuba has suffered “the worst /economic disaster/ in its history,” some news agencies have reported. Damage from hurricanes Gustav and Ike is estimated between $3 and $4 billion. 2.5 million persons (from a population of 11 million) were evacuated and many thousands will remain evacuated because they have lost their homes. The total number of houses damaged by the two storms was 320,000 (entire small towns and 70% of houses in the Western provinces). Gustav alone totally destroyed more than 30,000 houses. Thousands of schools, hospitals, factories and other buildings have been damaged. Most crops in the entire island have been lost due to the winds and/or flooding. Most of the electricity network was damaged. And the list of destruction can go on and on…

Cuba needs your help because (thanks to the US embargo/blockade) it does not have access to the international credit system, so it is short in cash to deal with immediate needs, especially food and construction materials.


Help Cuba Recover from Its Worst Economic Disaster : Climate and Capitalism.

Portrait of an Animal Researcher By David Irving

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

photos at the original source

By David Irving

When people think of an animal researcher the image of a well trained, highly skilled scientist surrounded by test tubes and flasks and wearing an immaculately clean, white coat often comes to mind. Looking up from a microscope he, or she, strokes a plump, white rat and converses about the latest medical discoveries being made with the help of animals. This is America’s favorite image of an animal researcher. But just how accurate is it?

The fact that most people are unaware that medical research represents only the tip of the iceberg of this diverse industry called animal research that stretches from coast to coast and border to border, indicates just how skillfully the benign image of the humanitarian scientist has been disseminated. But animal research requires the production and use of 22 million animals a year in the United States and 100 million world wide, conservatively speaking, most of which are killed after being experimented upon. Most of this research has nothing to do with finding a cure for cancer, stroke, heart disease, or other debilitating, life-threatening conditions. In fact, most animal research is done to satisfy various commercial requirements or to test concepts in the manufacture of industrial and personal use products like cosmetics and fluoride toothpastes.

The more the public gets a closer look behind the closed doors of animal research facilities, the more the senselessness of their work becomes apparent. We know that birth defect experiments on animals cannot be applied to humans, so why are they done? We know that better pre-natal care and helping women to quit smoking can reduce infant mortality by over 35%, so why does ineffective nicotine testing on animals continue? We know that chemical and agricultural product testing on animals is irrelevant to any health applications for humans and could be done using non-animal methods, which is the preferred procedure for testing these products in Canada and Europe, so why are we pursuing it? We know that computer technology already exists capable of putting an end to animal testing for drugs, so what is the necessity of testing for drugs? We know that heart attacks can be prevented through diet and exercise, so why are we butchering animals in tests for heart disease? Certainly there is no need for secretive military testing on animals except to satisfy military paranoia.

The wheels on the huge gravy train funded by the tax dollars of the citizenry that the animal research industry has been riding for decades are beginning to creak. The medical establishment itself hides behind its own image without the courage to acknowledge the corruption in the fake applications for fake medical animal research projects to the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. These agencies squander billions of tax dollars in funding this fakery that has only pseudo-applications for human beings with few benefits, as described below. Linus Pauling zeroed in on the corruption when he wrote “Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud, and that the major cancer research organizations are derelict in their duties to the people who support them.”

Animal medical research is done mostly in conjunction with university research laboratories or medical facilities. There we find the researchers who are the standard-bearers for the animal research industry, the ones wearing those neat, white coats. But let there be no mistake. Even this group narrows to an even smaller minority when it dares to proclaim they are “legitimate” researchers. That is because the overwhelming majority of medical animal research is not legitimate. It is curiosity research in a ‘publish or perish’ kind of atmosphere where the researchers must design something unusual to capture NIH or other government agency funding. These agencies approve research projects on the bizarre premise that the more bizarre an experiment is the more scientific it must be.

Whoever doubts the above allegation needs only to take into account experiments in which chimpanzees have been locked in old refrigerators filled with cocaine smoke (New York University), cats have had their brains severed from their spinal cords after which anesthesia was discontinued while they were locked in frames and experimented upon for hours (Rockefeller University), cats have been forced to vomit 97 times in the space of three and one-half minutes (Rockefeller University), and primates have been subjected to a continuous three hour-long studio-generated sound that was10 decibels louder than a shotgun blast (New York University). The designer of that experiment, Lynn Kiorpes, has been drilling holes in baby monkeys heads for fourteen years while collecting $1.5 million dollars from the NIH for studying artificially created abnormalities. The babies are either killed and dissected instantly or are subjected to years of continuing experimentation. She works in secrecy behind the hallowed doors of New York University, one of the most notorious protectors of institutional animal abuse in the nation, which itself has been charged with more than 400 violations of the Animal Welfare Act and has been fined $450,000, the largest fine ever leveled by the USDA.

The thirst by government agencies to fund unnecessary, cruel experiments on animals seems unquenchable, and our esteemed university medical facilities continue to lap up public tax dollars with little sign that they are embarrassed by their display of greed as they walk hand in hand with animal abusers up to the cashier’s window. At the Oregon Health and Science University, researcher Eliot Spindel has been paid $7.6 million tax dollars by the NIH since 1992 (and will continue receiving funding until 2012) to literally rip baby monkeys from their mothers’ breasts to study nicotine effects on infant monkeys. Sometimes the babies are taken through cesarean section, while other times the mothers are allowed to keep them for several weeks before they are torn away, driving the mothers nearly insane. Losing their babies causes tremendous suffering to these primates who are operated on five times during their forced pregnancies to implant nicotine pumps in their backs.

In 2005 the Justice Department awarded a University of Wisconsin professor, John Webster, $500,000 to electrocute pigs with Taser guns to try to determine if stun guns are safe, a cruel project that could be done using follow-up medical studies of Taser victims instead—as many previous studies have.

In 2003 at Columbia University, a whistleblower exposed experiments in which mother baboons and their babies in-utero were operated on repeatedly to measure the flow of nicotine through the umbilical chord; baboons had one eye removed in senseless experiments to induce strokes before being abandoned in cages without care or painkillers; and monkeys had metal pipes implanted in their craniums driving them into a frenzy in irrelevant menstrual stress studies. The suffering these animals endured ended only when they died from the effects of the experiments or when they were killed by their researchers.

The foregoing list barely scratches the surface of the unbelievably sickening, bizarre, sadistic research which medical animal researchers in their clean white coats engage and which is routinely rubber stamped by the NIH and other government funding agencies, thus robbing the public blind.

Because of public “unease” more and more animal research scientists have begun to ask if their research is worth the few results, negative publicity, and community contempt. By now animal rights organizations and whistle-blowers have brought cruel animal research projects to light so often that university and medical research facilities are forced to defend their animal policies to the public. Columbia University, for example, has set up a Standards of Care website where it asserts that it “recognizes its scientific and ethical duty to treat animals involved in research humanely, and requires that all faculty, staff and students involved in animal research maintain the highest standards of care.” However, the undercover photographic evidence and other reports about the conditions in Columbia’s animal laboratories indicate that Columbia’s efforts to reassure a suspicious public are as much public relations as anything else, as proved by the barbaric stroke, tobacco, and menstrual experiments on baboons described above.

The same can be said of the University of Minnesota which advertises that their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee works to assure that research and other activities involving animals are “justified by their benefits and minimize any pain or suffering.” The university must have forgotten about one of their researchers, Marilyn Carroll, who for twenty-two years (at a cost of nine million dollars to taxpayers) has been using food deprivation to forcibly addict monkeys and rats to drugs including cocaine, PCP, nicotine, heroin, amphetamines and alcohol. Protests by animal rights groups including the ALF and SOAR (Student Organization for Animal Rights) have been raised against Carroll’s lab over the years where primates are subjected to withdrawal so that they suffer seizures, nose bleeding, respiratory problems, skin infections, self-mutilation, incessant rocking, hallucinations, screaming, and depression. Some just give up and curl into a ball in a corner of their cage where they cower in terror. That the practice of torturing innocent animals in an effort to attend to the addictions human beings have created themselves might be considered unethical and unjust, not to mention Mengelian, seems not to have penetrated the consciousness of erudite, highly educated, researchers like Carroll.

The above examples, unfortunately, are par for the course. The University of California San Francisco is the fourth largest recipient of federal research grants, receiving over $420 million from the NIH annually. On a university webpage the text above a photograph of a cute white mouse nestled cozily in the pocket of an empty, purple surgical glove advertises that “the University has established policies on the use of animal subjects to promote their humane care.” The text continues below the photograph in a statement all too similar to those made by Columbia and the University of Minnesota announcing that the university oversees all “research and instruction that involves vertebrate animals, in order to ensure that the highest ethical and animal welfare standards are met.”

In reality, the University of California San Francisco has one of the worst animal care records of all university medical research facilities in the country. It has been in nearly continuous violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which in 2004 filed formal charges against UCSF for 75 Animal Welfare Act violations between 2001 and 2003. These included performing surgery on an ewe and her fetus without providing post-surgical pain relief; leaving monkeys and lambs unmonitored after surgery (which resulted in a lamb frothing at the mouth and gasping for breath); forcing marmoset monkeys to breed continually and give birth while still nursing infants (one marmoset mother gave birth seven times to fourteen babies in just over three years. Six of the babies died and the mother lost 70 percent of her bodyweight over that period); depriving monkeys of water resulting in severe weight loss, performing a craniotomy on a monkey without providing post-operative pain relief, and subjecting at least one monkey to multiple injections of a brain-destroying chemical through the carotid artery. Some of the most egregious violations were done by three of UCSF’s top researchers, all of whom conduct brain experiments on primates and have received major NIH grants.

The foregoing are examples of what the University of California calls the “highest ethical and animal welfare standards.” In July of 2007 the PCRM (Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine) filed a lawsuit against UCSF for its mistreatment of dogs, monkeys and other animals used in experiments.

In spite of the cruelty and hypocrisy associated with university and medical center animal research laboratories, it is still undeniable that a small minority of animal researchers actually do engage in animal research which they believe is for humanitarian purposes. They have made a deliberate, conscious choice that it is moral to put human health concerns above those of animals. It is doubtful, however, that even the most caring researcher would deny that experiments sometimes cause suffering and pain to the animals involved. Dr. Robert Kass, Department Chair, Department of Pharmacology at the Columbia Medical Center, wrote that “we test as humanely and effectively as possible,” indicating that there are times when it is not possible to test humanely or effectively. Even so, this group of researchers do sometimes make discoveries that are applicable to humankind such as reported by Dr. Eric A. Rose, Associate Dean for Translational Research and Chair of the Department of Surgery at Columbia University who wrote: “The concept of cardiac catheterization was born here—animal research allowed the idea to become an applicable technique.” Dr. Rose’s defense of cardiac catheterization indicates he is concerned about the morality of animal testing. What Dr. Rose apparently fails to take cognizance of is that this technique might never have been necessary without the meat-based diets responsible for the arterial problems requiring catheterization. It could hardly be more patently unethical to slaughter animals in cruel ways and eat them, acquire a disease in the process of digesting and metabolizing them, and then slaughter and torture more animals to try to find a cure for the disease caused by eating them.

Should the medical establishment be unwilling to take the above argument into consideration, it can only be taken as a refusal to probe in any depth just what is moral and ethical and what is not.

Nevertheless, the sincerity of some medical scientists in attempting to solve medical enigmas is hard to deny. They use animals in their research out of a sense of compassion towards human beings. To them, animals are inferior and deserve compassion only insofar as it does not interfere with their research. Donald M. Silver, author of over 40 books on science for children and teachers who did cancer studies on mice at Sloan-Kettering Hospital in the 1970s, said that when doubts about his work arose, he only had to think about the terminally ill patients in the children’s ward. As recently as two months ago, Doctor John Young, director of comparative medicine at Los Angeles Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in an interview on PBS, proudly pointed to a laboratory prisoner pig as an ideal subject for animal research because its cardiovascular system is similar to that of human beings. However, as proved by Dr. Dean Ornish, a regimen of diet and exercise can cure heart disease. He is the author of Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, Eat More, Weigh Less and has been featured on all major medical journals and news media including NOVA on PBS. Perhaps Dr. Young doesn’t agree with Dr. Ornish’s methodology. Certainly, he must be aware of it. So why should a pig forfeit it’s life for a human being with heart problems, especially those who developed heart disease by eating pigs or cows in the first place?

Dr. Young did not discuss that researchers at Purdue University have found that a pig’s IQ is comparable to that of a chimpanzee.

He also pointed to terminally ill children as a moral imperative for conducting animal research. Those who agree with him like to pose questions like, “what if it was your own child suffering from cancer?” Certainly most people would hardly deny terminally ill children the best possible chance for survival with the best possible care, or, for that matter, any suffering human being even if it has been derived by experimenting upon animals. This is the direction that the world has taken up to the present. However, those who object to animal research did not invent the medical technology that is used in medicine today, and if they had, the means would be entirely different. Because treatment is the way it is does not justify continuing on the same tired path which Dr. Young advocates which, in the view of many, is so narrowly defined by its reliance on animal research that it prevents the kind of research that could really lead to cures for cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other devastating and deadly conditions.

For example, Dr. Ornish discovered how to cure heart disease without animal research. Dr. Young, with his animal research, has not. Yet Young believes he has the right to continue his cardiac experiments on innocent, highly intelligent creatures in spite of the fact that a cure is available. Let the reader be the judge. What is moral here and what is not?

If animal researchers like Dr. Young, Dr. Kass, and Dr. Rose really are interested in finding cures they might begin by having the courage to denounce the fake research of their colleagues like Eliot Spindel and Lynn Kiorpes for the fraud it is, as Linus Pauling has done, in order to free up hundreds of millions of dollars for serious, alternative investigations that might lead to real progress in the fight against the major diseases. The path that Dr. Young follows in is the same that animal researchers have been following for decades, and the result is always the same. They have just discovered that such and such when applied to rats, or some other species, cures such and such. Meanwhile, the real cure is always just around the corner unless someone like Dr. Ornish comes along and finds it..

The abandonment of animal testing in favor of alternative methodologies has already yielded significant results when it is tried, and several non-animal tests are being used to replace animal testing. This includes embryonic stem cell tests using non-human cells; human skin testing on leftovers from surgical procedures; cell and tissue culture (in vitro) studies used to screen for anti-cancer, anti-AIDS, and other types of drugs as well as for producing and testing pharmaceutical products like vaccines, antibiotics, and therapeutic proteins; comparative studies of human populations leading to the discovery of the root causes of human diseases including demonstrating the mechanism of AIDS transmission and how it could be prevented; and sophisticated scanning technologies (MRI, PET, and CT). Pharmagene Laboratories, based in Royston, England, studies how drugs affect human genes and the proteins they make. They use tools from molecular biology, biochemistry, and analytical pharmacology in combination with human tissues and sophisticated computer technologies in developing drugs so that the supposed need to test on animals is eliminated.

Scientists are certainly capable of discovering and inventing many other alternatives to animal research. While some medical researchers agree that an exhaustive search for alternatives to animal research is the future direction for medical research, the profession in general shows little enthusiasm and drags its feet.

It seems clear that when human beings venture forth in uncharted waters based on an intuitive sense of the possibilities ahead, only profound discovery and adventure lie in wait. That is the history of humankind and it is so fundamental to human existence that humanity can surely rely upon it. When it comes to medical research, what else is there – eternal dependency on a weaker animal species that cannot defend itself against humankind’s cruelty and abuse? Surely we are capable of much, much more. Isn’t it time we left our primitive views behind and began reaching for a higher destiny?

Our future must include widening our circle of compassion to include all species which cohabit the planet. In the process, we will be creating a vital, new template to apply to societal relations between nations that can end warfare between them. We will have been led there by our compassion for animals. And the partnership between human beings and animals that has been wrested away by the infamous practice of animal research will have been restored.

David Irving is a Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude graduate of Columbia University, class of 1980, School of General Studies. He subsequently obtained his Masters in Music Composition at Columbia and founded the new music organization Phoenix in New York City.

Nitrogen emerges as the latest climate-change threat

Dandelion Salad

By Robert S. Boyd
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Scientists are raising alarms about yet another threat to Earth’s climate and human well-being. This time it’s nitrogen, a common element essential to all life.

For years, people have been bombarded with warnings about the harmful effects of carbon — especially in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas widely blamed for global warming.

Now, it’s becoming clear that human activities, such as driving cars and raising crops, also are boosting nitrogen to dangerous levels — polluting air and water and damaging human health.


McClatchy Washington Bureau | 09/13/2008 | Nitrogen emerges as the latest climate-change threat.

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Gas stations are running out of Gas! Are your’s?

Dandelion Salad


Approx. 75% of the gas stations in my area are completely out of Gas. What’s the situation in your area? Please post a reply video or comment regarding the gas situation in your area and be sure to use the share feature to send this video with all of your youtube contacts.

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