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Chavez, Obama and Galeano

April 29th, 2009 - by admin

Richard Gott / The Guardian – 2009-04-29 22:29:08


Chavez’s Perfect Gift to Obama
Richard Gott / The Guardian/UK

“To be alive: a small victory. To be alive, that is: to be capable of joy, despite the goodbyes and the crimes, so that exile will be a testimony to another, possible country…. Joy takes more courage than grief. In the end, we are accustomed to grief.”
— Eduardo Galeano, Days And Nights of Love and War (1978)

LONDON (April 20, 2009) — Some surprise has been expressed in the Anglo-Saxon world that Hugo Chavez should have presented a book to Barack Obama by Eduardo Galeano.

Ignorance can be the only defence, the very fault that the Venezuelan president had earlier accused his US counterpart of suffering from. For Galeano is one of the most well-known and celebrated writers in Latin America, up there with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and his huge output of fact and fiction, as well as his journalism, has been published all over the continent. His books have been continuously in print since the 1960s, read voraciously by successive generations.

It was a brilliant idea of Chavez’s to give Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America to Obama, since this book, first published in 1971, encapsulates a radical version of the history of Latin America with which most Latin Americans are familiar. Its subtitle, Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, gives a flavour of its contents, which discuss the way in which Latin America has been dominated and exploited by its European invaders (and later by US corporations) for hundreds of years.

Written in short episodes, sometimes just paragraphs, it is very characteristic of Galeano’s highly original style, comparable in some ways to that of the Swedish writer Sven Lindqvist, who has a similar capacity to write about history and current affairs in a language that is both poetic and passionate. The late Polish writer Ryszard Kapuscinski might be mentioned in the same breath.

Some resistance to Galeano’s writings in the mainstream conservative culture of the US may have been caused by the fact that his books were published by the socialist Monthly Review press and translated by Cedric Belfrage, a British-born journalist who emigrated to work in Hollywood and became a member of the US Communist party. Belfrage was deported back to England in 1955, in the waning years of the McCarthy era, before establishing himself as a Spanish translator in Mexico, where he translated many of Galeano’s books.

Galeano was born in Montevideo in Uruguay in 1940 and became the editor in the 1960s of Marcha, Latin America’s best and most influential political and cultural weekly. Galeano took refuge in Buenos Aires in 1973, after a military coup in Uruguay closed down his magazine, and founded a comparable review, Crisis, in Argentina, chronicling the events of the dramatic Peronist years between 1973 and 1976, when another coup sent him into exile in Spain. Galeano then expanded his Open Veins into a three-volume cultural and political history of Latin America, titled Memories of Fire, with thoughts and reflections on the events of almost every year throughout the continent.

Chavez will certainly have read Obama’s own biographical writings and will know that Obama is an intelligent and creative writer himself. He would also have guessed that Obama would enjoy and appreciate the writings of Galeano as he seeks to recast US policy towards Latin America.

As a North American, unfamiliar with the Latin American passion for soccer, Obama might also benefit from reading Galeano’s Football in Sun and Shadow, a wonderful account of the history of the game, published in 1995. The book was written largely to convince leftwing intellectuals (and Cubans obsessed with baseball), some of whom had a supercilious attitude towards the game, of its political and cultural significance.

Galeano celebrated soccer’s broad appeal to the great mass of the people of Latin America, an aspect of the southern continent’s culture that North Americans ignore at their peril. (c) 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited Richard Gott is a writer and historian. He worked for many years at the Guardian as a leader-writer, foreign correspondent and as the features editor

I Hope “Ojalá”
Eduardo Galeano

(November 10, 2008) — Will Obama prove, at the helm of government, that his threats of war against Iran and Pakistan were only words, broadcast to seduce difficult ears during the election campaign? I hope. And I hope he will not fall, even for a moment, for the temptation to repeat the exploits of George W. Bush. After all, Obama had the dignity to vote against the Iraq war, while the Democratic and Republican parties were applauding the announcement of this carnage.

In his campaign, the word most often repeated in his speeches was leadership. In his administration, will he continue to believe that his country has been chosen to save the world, a toxic idea that he shares with almost all his colleagues? Will he insist on the United States’ global leadership and its messianic mission to take command?

I hope the current crisis, which is shaking the imperial foundations, will serve at least to give the new administration a bath of realism and humility.

Will Obama accept that racism is normal when it is used against the countries that his country invades? Isn’t it racism to count the deaths of invaders in Iraq, one by one, and arrogantly ignore the many dead among the invaded population? Isn’t this world racist, where there are first-, second-, and third-class citizens, and the first-. second-, and third-class dead?

Obama’s victory was universally hailed as a battle won against racism. I hope he will assume, in his acts of government, this great responsibility.

Will the Obama government confirm, once again, that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are two names of the same party?

I hope the desire for change, which these elections have established, will be more than a promise and more than a hope. I hope the new government has the courage to break with the tradition of the one and only party, disguised as two parties which at the moment of truth do more or less the same thing while simulating a fight. Will Obama fulfill his promise to shut down the evil Guantánamo prison?

I hope, and I hope he will end the evil blockade of Cuba.

Will Obama continue to believe that it is great to have a wall that prevents Mexicans from crossing the border, while money moves without anyone asking for its passport?

During the election campaign, Obama never honestly confronted the subject of immigration. I hope, now that he is no longer in danger of scaring voters away, he can and wants to break down this wall, much longer and more embarrassing than the Berlin Wall, and all the walls that violate people’s right to free movement. Will Obama, who so enthusiastically supported the recent little gift of 750 billion dollars to bankers, govern, as usual, to socialize losses and privatize profits?

I’m afraid so, but I hope not.

Will Obama sign and comply with the Kyoto Protocol, or will he continue to give the privilege of impunity to the nation that is poisoning the planet the most? Will he govern for cars or for people? Can he change the murderous course of the lifestyle of the few who are risking the fate of all? I’m afraid not, but I hope so.

Will Obama, the first black president in the history of the United States, realize the dream of Martin Luther King or the nightmare of Condoleezza Rice?

The White House, which is now his house, was built by black slaves. I hope he won’t forget it, ever.

Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan writer, is the author of Open Veins of Latin America and Days and Nights of Love and War among many other books and articles. The original essay, “Ojalá,” appeared in Página/12 on 6 November 2008. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi. from www.monthlyreview.org 11/10/08

Pandemic: The Mysterious Deaths of the World’s Microbiologists

April 29th, 2009 - by admin

Jolly Roger Revolution & Mark Harper / Rense.com – 2009-04-29 22:26:27


Flu Bug: The Mysterious Deaths of the World’s Microbiologists
Jolly Roger Revolution.blogspot

If you sell crack, join a gang, or rob the mob you can expect to die a violent death, but if you listen to your mother, eat all the right foods, and study hard in college to become a microbiologist, you should expect to live to a ripe old age and die peacefully.

That being the case, a few eyebrows were raised when five microbiologists either disappeared or died mysteriously violent deaths in 2001. A short time later the number rose to 19, and then 29.

They were found stabbed to death in the trunks of cars, thrown off bridges, or they wrapped their cars around trees after their brake fluid disappeared. Once again, this is the stuff of Hollywood spy stories, and not the way you would expect a microbiologist to give up the ghost.

By 2005, we lost 40 microbiologists in less than 4 years, all under suspicious circumstances, and during this time someone discovered that they were all working for the government, or government contractors, on projects related to bio-terrorism, flu pandemics, or anthrax. Obviously they weren’t trying to find a cure for anything, or there would be no need to silence them.

Then it was discovered that our government was involved in strange experiments that involve exhuming bodies of people that were killed by the 1918 Spanish flu, and genetically engineered flu viruses, all the while the media is preparing the public with stories of bird flu wiping out thousands of chickens (acid test?) and even a few people here and there.

People who are becoming accustomed to the practices and motives of our criminal government tried to warn you of an impending flu pandemic, but your TV training taught you to dismiss them all as “crazy conspiracy theorists,” and you naturally associated all their warnings with stories of Bigfoot and UFO abductions, just as you were trained to do.

The good folks of FEMA predicted a need for a few million plastic coffins, which are now spread out across the country, but despite this revelation, most of America still thinks their biggest concern is a toss up between the Super Bowl and American Idol.

Well it seems as if the crazy conspiracy theorists were right again, because the world-wide flu pandemic they were warning you about has been unleashed, and it will dominate the headlines until millions, if not billions of people are dead. It won’t be stopped because no one with the means to stop it wants to stop it.

Wash your hands often, pull your kids out of school, avoid crowds, if not people altogether, avoid alcohol or drugs that will weaken your resistance, and stay well-nourished.

Two of the goals here are to cull the population, and to encourage general mayhem and misery that only a World Government can save you from. You’ll be so worn out and tired of death and depression that you’ll offer little resistance to the new order. The economic collapse and World War three are part of the same plan, and it’s all been tried before. It’s the same crew behind this latest attempt, and it’s not difficult to see who’s behind it all, once again.

This flu pandemic that will soon cause people to drop like flies is no mutated bird flu. It’s a genetically engineered virus designed to kill as many people as possible. And after people do start dropping like flies, political dissidents will be accused of being flu carriers and no one will object to them being hauled away. Good luck. — Jolly Roger

The Mysterious Deaths of Top Microbiologists
What Really Happened.com

It all began with Don Wiley.

On November 15th, Harvard Professor Don Wiley left a gathering of friends and colleagues some time after 10:30 PM. The next morning, Memphis police found his rental car stopped on a bridge, with a full tank of gas and keys still in the ignition. There was no financial or family trouble. Indeed Wiley was supposed to meet his family at the Memphis airport to continue on to an Icelandic vacation. Neither was there any history of depression or mental illness.

In the report printed in the New York Times on November 27th, the FBI’s Memphis office distanced itself from the case saying that the available facts did not add up to a suspicion of foul play. I guess at the FBI it’s a perfectly everyday occurrence for a Harvard Professor to stop his rental car on a bridge in the middle of the night before he is supposed to leave for Iceland and just walk away into the Tennessee dark.

The NYT report of November 27th also downplayed Professor Wiley’s expertise in virology, quoting Gregory Verdine, a professor of chemical biology at Harvard, said, “If bioterrorists were to abduct Don Wiley, they’d be very disappointed,” because his research was in studying the component parts of viruses, and “that doesn’t really help you make a more dangerous version of the virus.”

But this statement is not consistent with the facts of Professor Wiley’s full range of knowledge. Wiley has, in conjunction with another Harvard Professor, Dr. Jack Strominger, won several academic prizes for their work in immunology, including a Lasker prize. Don Wiley is a Harvard professor, but he is also a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the National Institute of Health.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and performs biological research, sometimes jointly funded by the Department of Defense and the NIH. Don Wiley’s peers at Harvard include professors such as John Collier performing research on Anthrax.

So, contrary to the dismissive tone of the New York Times report, Professor Wiley would be of great value to anyone developing biological weapons. This makes the FBI’s obvious disinterest in the case highly questionable, indeed reminiscent of the FBI’s obvious disinterest in the numerous witnesses in Oklahoma City who had seen Tim McVeigh in the company of additional perpetrators not to mention the witnesses who had seen additional bombs.

Especially in light of the events of 9/11, the vanishing of a scientist with Professor Wiley’s expertise in virology and immunology should have been expected to be an issue of critical national importance, yet the official tone of the government was that this is nothing to worry about. Move along citizen, nothing to see.

In the context of the Anthrax letters being sent through the mail, any disappearance of any microbiologist under questionable circumstances should have set off alarm bells across the nation. but it didn’t. Professor Wiley was assumed to have committed suicide, end of story.

The professor’s colleagues expressed doubts about the official “suicide” explanation for his disappearance.
Then, more biologists started to die under suspicious circumstances.

The Very Mysterious Deaths of Five Microbiologists
The body count of infections disease experts continued to climb. Connections to weapons research began to surface.

As many as 14 world-class microbiologists died between 9/11/1 and 3/2/2, and on 6/24/2 yet another microbiologist was added to the list.

Still the US Government acted as if nothing was amiss, as silent on the question of dead microbiologists as they are on the question of the Israeli spies and their connection to 9-11.
In fact, the official silence on the question of how so many top experts in infectious diseases could die in such a short time span is deafening.

Now, statistically, it’s possible, even likely, that one or two of these microbiologists legitimately were killed in random accidents. But for so many to die in such a short while exceeds all reasonable bounds of statistics. Prudence would demand an investigation, not the “ho hum” attitude of the government which even today continues to issue dire warnings to the general population of how much we are all in danger from “bioterrorism”.

So, let’s take a moment and step away from the perpetual fear-mongering of the media (and Rumsfeld) as they assure us another attack IS coming (with a certainty which suggests inside information on the subject) and assume for a moment that some party has indeed decided to “liquidate” weapons research infectious disease experts.

There is really only one reason to kill off a bunch of scientists. To keep them from doing something they are able to do.
What were these scientists able to do? Maybe blow the whistle if an artificially created disease was about to be used in a manner those who created it did not approve of.

Regardless of the exact reason, there does seem to be a clear pattern of targeted microbiologists, and paired with it, an obvious government disinterest in the matter.
I leave it to you to figure out why.

Dead Scientists And Microbiologists – Master List
Compiled by Mark J. Harper (mjharper712@hotmail.com)

If you see any incorrect dates or errors, please provide me with accurate information. Thank you, Mark

Marconi Scientists Mystery

In the 1980’s over two dozen science graduates and experts working for Marconi or Plessey Defence Systems died in mysterious circumstances, most appearing to be suicides., The MOD denied these scientists had been involved in classified Star Wars Projects and that the deaths were in any way connected. Judge for yourself…

March 1982: Professor Keith Bowden, 46
–Expertise: Computer programmer and scientist at Essex University engaged in work for Marconi, who was hailed as an expert on super computers and computer-controlled aircraft.
–Circumstance of Death: Fatal car crash when his vehicle went out of control across a dual carriageway and plunged onto a disused railway line. Police maintained he had been drinking but family and friends all denied the allegation.
–Coroner’s verdict: Accident.

April 1983: Lt-Colonel Anthony Godley, 49
–Expertise: Head of the Work Study Unit at the Royal College of Military Science.
–Circumstance of Death: Disappeared mysteriously in April 1983 without explanation. Presumed dead.

March 1985: Roger Hill, 49
–Expertise: Radar designer and draughtsman with Marconi.
–Circumstance of Death: Died by a shotgun blast at home.
–Coroner’s verdict: Suicide.

November 19, 1985: Jonathan Wash, 29
–Expertise: Digital communications expert who had worked at GEC and at British Telecom’s secret research centre at Martlesham Heath, Suffolk.
–Circumstance of Death: Died as a result of falling from a hotel room in Abidjan, West Africa, while working for British Telecom. He had expressed fears that his life was in danger.
–Coroner’s verdict: Open.

August 4, 1986: Vimal Dajibhai, 24
–Expertise: Computer software engineer with Marconi, responsible for testing computer control systems of Tigerfish and Stingray torpedoes at Marconi Underwater Systems at Croxley Green, Hertfordshire.
–Circumstance of Death: Death by 74m (240ft.) fall from Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol. Police report on the body mentioned a needle-sized puncture wound on the left buttock, but this was later dismissed as being a result of the fall. Dajibhai had been looking forward to starting a new job in the City of London and friends had confirmed that there was no reason for him to commit suicide. At the time of his death he was in the last week of his work with Marconi.
–Coroner’s verdict: Open.

October 1986: Arshad Sharif, 26
–Expertise: Reported to have been working on systems for the detection of submarines by satellite.
–Circumstance of Death: Died as a result of placing a ligature around his neck, tying the other end to a tree and then driving off in his car with the accelerator pedal jammed down. His unusual death was complicated by several issues: Sharif lived near Vimal Dajibhai in Stanmore, Middlesex, he committed suicide in Bristol and, inexplicably, had spent the last night of his life in a rooming house. He had paid for his accommodation in cash and was seen to have a bundle of high-denomination banknotes in his possession. While the police were told of the banknotes, no mention was made of them at the inquest and they were never found. In addition, most of the other guests at the rooming house worked at British Aerospace prior to working for Marconi, Sharif had also worked at British Aerospace on guided weapons technology.
–Coroner’s verdict: Suicide.

January 1987: Richard Pugh, 37
–Expertise: MOD computer consultant and digital communications expert.
–Circumstance of Death: Found dead in his flat in with his feet bound and a plastic bag over his head. Rope was tied around his body, coiling four times around his neck.
–Coroner’s verdict: Accident.

January 12, 1987: Dr. John Brittan, 52
–Expertise: Scientist formerly engaged in top-secret work at the Royal College of Military Science at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, and later deployed in a research department at the MOD.
–Circumstance of Death: Death by carbon monoxide poisoning in his own garage, shortly after returning from a trip to the US in connection with his work.
–Coroner’s verdict: Accident.

February 1987: David Skeels, 43
–Expertise: Engineer with Marconi.
–Circumstance of Death: Found dead in his car with a hosepipe connected to the exhaust.
–Coroner’s verdict: Open.

February 1987: Victor Moore, 46
–Expertise: Design Engineer with Marconi Space and Defence Systems.
–Circumstance of Death: Died from an overdose.
–Coroner’s verdict: Suicide.

February 22, 1987: Peter Peapell, 46
–Expertise: Scientist at the Royal College of Military Science. He had been working on testing titanium for it’s resistance to explosives and the use of computer analysis of signals from metals.
–Circumstance of Death: Found dead allegedly from carbon monoxide poisoning, in his Oxfordshire garage. The circumstances of his death raised some elements of doubt. His wife had found him on his back with his head parallel to the rear car bumper and his mouth in line with the exhaust pipe, with the car engine running. Police were apparently baffled as to how he could have manoeuvred into the position in which he was found.
–Coroner’s verdict: Open.

April 1987: George Kountis age unknown.
–Expertise: Systems Analyst at Bristol Polytechnic.
–Circumstance of Death: Drowned the same day as Shani Warren (see below) – as the result of a car accident, his upturned car being found in the River Mersey, Liverpool.
–Coroner’s verdict: Misadventure.
(Kountis, sister called for a fresh inquest as she thought ‘things didn’t add up.’)

April 10, 1987: Shani Warren, 26
–Expertise: Personal assistant in a company called Micro Scope, which was taken over by GEC Marconi less than four weeks after her death.
–Circumstance of Death: Found drowned in 45cm. (18in) of water, not far from the site of David Greenhalgh’s death fall. Warren died exactly one week after the death of Stuart Gooding and serious injury to Greenhalgh. She was found gagged with a noose around her neck. Her feet were also bound and her hands tied behind her back.
–Coroner’s verdict: Open.
(It was said that Warren had gagged herself, tied her feet with rope, then tied her hands behind her back and hobbled to the lake on stiletto heels to drown herself.)

April 10, 1987: Stuart Gooding, 23
–Expertise: Postgraduate research student at the Royal College of Military Science.
–Circumstance of Death: Fatal car crash while on holiday in Cyprus. The death occurred at the same time as college personnel were carrying out exercises on Cyprus.
–Coroner’s verdict: Accident.

April 24, 1987: Mark Wisner, 24
–Expertise: Software engineer at the MOD.
–Circumstance of Death: Found dead on in a house shared with two colleagues. He was found with a plastic sack around his head and several feet of cling film around his face. The method of death was almost identical to that of Richard Pugh some three months earlier.
–Coroner’s verdict: Accident.

March 30, 1987: David Sands, 37
–Expertise: Senior scientist working for Easams of Camberley, Surrey, a sister company to Marconi. Dr. John Brittan had also worked at Camberley.
–Circumstance of Death: Fatal car crash when he allegedly made a sudden U-turn on a dual carriageway while on his way to work, crashing at high speed into a disused cafeteria. He was found still wearing his seat belt and it was discovered that the car had been carrying additional petrol cans. None of the normal, reasons for a possible suicide could be found.
–Coroner’s verdict: Open.

May 3, 1987: Michael Baker, 22
–Expertise: Digital communications expert working on a defence project at Plessey; part-time member of Signals Corps SAS.
–Circumstance of Death: Fatal accident owhen his car crashed through a barrier near Poole in Dorset.
–Coroner’s verdict: Misadventure.

June 1987: Jennings, Frank, 60.
–Expertise: Electronic Weapons Engineer with Plessey.
–Circumstance of Death: Found dead from a heart attack.
–No inquest.

January 1988: Russell Smith, 23
–Expertise: Laboratory technician with the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, Essex.
–Circumstance of Death: Died as a result of a cliff fall at Boscastle in Cornwall.
–Coroner’s verdict: Suicide.

March 25, 1988: Trevor Knight, 52
–Expertise: Computer engineer with Marconi Space and Defence Systems in Stanmore, Middlesex.
–Circumstance of Death: Found dead at his home in Harpenden, Hertfordshire at the wheel of his car with a hosepipe connected to the exhaust. A St.Alban’s coroner said that Knight’s woman friend, Miss Narmada Thanki (who also worked with him at Marconi) had found three suicide notes left by him which made clear his intentions. Miss Thanki had mentioned that Knight disliked his work but she did not detect any depression that would have driven him to suicide.
–Coroner’s verdict: Suicide.

August 1988: Alistair Beckham, 50
–Expertise: Software engineer with Plessey Defence Systems.
–Circumstance of Death: Found dead after being electrocuted in his garden shed with wires connected to his body.
–Coroner’s verdict: Open.

August 22, 1988: Peter Ferry, 60
–Expertise: Retired Army Brigadier and an Assistant Marketing Director with Marconi.
–Circumstance of Death: Found on 22nd or 23rd August 1988 electrocuted in his company flat with electrical leads in his mouth.
–Coroner’s verdict: Open

September 1988: Andrew Hall, 33
–Expertise: Engineering Manager with British Aerospace.
–Circumstance of Death: Carbon monoxide poisoning in a car with a hosepipe connected to the exhaust.
–Coroner’s verdict: Suicide.

Above list compiled by Raymond A. Robinson in ‘The Alien Intent’
(A Dire Warning)

(Note: link above is dead)

Date?: Dr. C. Bruton
–Expertise: He had just produced a paper on a new strain of CJD. He was a CJD specialist who was killed before his work was announced to the public.
–Circumstance of Death: died in a car crash.

1994/95?: Dr. Jawad Al Aubaidi
–Expertise: Veterinary mycoplasma and had worked with various mycoplasmas in the 1980s at Plum Island.
–Circumstance of Death: He was killed in his native Iraq while he was changing a flat tire and hit by a truck.
Source: Patricia A. Doyle, PhD

1996: Tsunao Saitoh, 46
–Expertise: A leading Alzheimer’s researcher
–Circumstance of Death: He and his 13 year-old daughter were killed in La Jolla, California, in what a Reuters report described as a “very professionally done” shooting. He was dead behind the wheel of the car, the side window had been shot out, and the door was open. His daughter appeared to have tried to run away and she was shot dead, also.

Dec 25, 1997: Sidney Harshman, 67
–Expertise: Professor of microbiology and immunology.
“He was the world’s leading expert on staphylococcal alpha toxins,” according to Conrad Wagner, professor of biochemistry at Vanderbilt and a close friend of Professor Harshman. “He also deeply cared for other people and was always eager to help his students and colleagues.”
–Circumstance of Death: Complications of diabetes

July 10, 1998: Elizabeth A. Rich, M.D., 46
–Expertise: An associate professor with tenure in the pulmonary division of the Department of Medicine at CWRU and University Hospitals of Cleveland. She was also a member of the executive committee for the Center for AIDS Research and directed the biosafety level 3 facility, a specialized laboratory for the handling of HIV, virulent TB bacteria, and other infectious agents.
–Circumstance of Death: Killed in a traffic accident while visiting family in Tennessee

September 1998: Jonathan Mann, 51
–Expertise: Founding director of the World Health Organisation’s global Aids programme and founded Project SIDA in Zaire, the most comprehensive Aids research effort in Africa at the time, and in 1986 he joined the WHO to lead the global response against Aids. He became director of WHO’s global programme on Aids which later became the UNAids programme. He then became director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, which was set up at Harvard School of Public Health in 1993. He caused controversy earlier this year in the post when he accused the US National Institutes of Health of violating human rights by failing to act quickly on developing Aids vaccines.
–Circumstance of Death: Died in the Swissair Flight 111 crash in Canada.

April 15, 2000: Walter W. Shervington, M.D., 62
–Expertise: An extensive writer/ lecturer/ researcher about mental health and AIDS in the African American community.
–Circumstance of Death: Died of cancer at Tulane Medical Hospital.

July 16, 2000: Mike Thomas, 35
–Expertise: A microbiologist at the Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville.
–Circumstance of Death: Died a few days after examining a sample taken from a 12-year-old girl who was diagnosed with meningitis and survived.

December 25, 2000: Linda Reese, 52
–Expertise: Microbiologist working with victims of meningitis.
–Circumstance of Death: Died three days after she studied a sample from Tricia Zailo, 19, a Fairfield, N.J., resident who was a sophomore at Michigan State University. Tricia Zailo died Dec. 18, a few days after she returned home for the holidays.

May 7 2001: Professor Janusz Jeljaszewicz
–Expertise: Expert in Staphylococci and Staphylococcal Infections. His main scientific interests and achievements were in the mechanism of action and biological properties of staphylococcal toxins, and included the immunomodulatory properties and experimental treatment of tumours by Propionibacterium.

November 2001: Yaacov Matzner, 54
–Expertise: Dean of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem and chairman of the Israel Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusions, was the son of Holocaust survivors. One of the world’s experts on blood diseases including familiar Mediterranean fever (FMF), Matzner conducted research that led to a genetic test for FMF. He was working on cloning the gene connected to FMF and investigating the normal physiological function of amyloid A, a protein often found in high levels in people with blood cancer.
–Circumstance of Death: Professors Yaacov Matzner and Amiram Eldor were on their way back to Israel via Switzerland when their plane came down in dense forest three kilometres short of the landing field.

November 2001: Professor Amiram Eldor, 59
–Expertise: Head of the haematology institute, Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and worked for years at Hadassah-University Hospital’s haematology department but left for his native Tel Aviv in 1993 to head the haematology institute at Ichilov Hospital. He was an internationally known expert on blood clotting especially in women who had repeated miscarriages and was a member of a team that identified eight new anti-clotting agents in the saliva of leeches.
–Circumstance of Death: Professors Yaacov Matzner and Amiram Eldor were on their way back to Israel via Switzerland when their plane came down in dense forest three kilometres short of the landing field.

November 6, 2001: Jeffrey Paris Wall, 41
–Expertise: He was a biomedical expert who held a medical degree, and he also specialized in patent and intellectual property.
–Circumstance of Death: Mr. Walls body was found sprawled next to a three-story parking structure near his office. He had studied at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Nov. 16, 2001: Don C. Wiley, 57
–Expertise: One of the foremost microbiologists in the United States. Dr. Wiley, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard University, was an expert on how the immune system responds to viral attacks such as the classic doomsday plagues of HIV, ebola and influenza.
–Circumstance of Death: Police found his rental car on a bridge outside Memphis, Tenn. His body was found Dec. 20 in the Mississippi River.

Nov. 21, 2001: Vladimir Pasechnik, 64
–Expertise: World-class microbiologist and high-profile Russian defector; defected to the United Kingdom in 1989, played a huge role in Russian biowarfare and helped to figure out how to modify cruise missiles to deliver the agents of mass biological destruction.
–Background: founded Regma Biotechnologies company in Britain, a laboratory at Porton Down, the country´s chem-bio warfare defense establishment. Regma currently has a contract with the U.S. Navy for “the diagnostic and therapeutic treatment of anthrax”.
–Circumstance of Death: The pathologist who did the autopsy, and who also happened to be associated with Britain´s spy agency, concluded he died of a stroke. Details of the postmortem were not revealed at an inquest, in which the press was given no prior notice. Colleagues who had worked with Pasechnik said he was in good health.

Dec. 10, 2001: Robert M. Schwartz, 57
–Expertise: Expert in DNA sequencing and pathogenic micro-organisms, founding member of the Virginia Biotechnology Association, and the Executive Director of Research and Development at Virginia´s Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon.
–Circumstance of Death: stabbed and slashed with what police believe was a sword in his farmhouse in Leesberg, Va. His daughter, who identifies herself as a pagan high priestess, and several of her fellow pagans have been charged.

Dec. 14, 2001: Nguyen Van Set, 44
–Expertise: animal diseases facility of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization had just come to fame for discovering a virulent strain of mousepox, which could be modified to affect smallpox.
–Circumstance of Death: died at work in Geelong, Australia, in a laboratory accident. He entered an airlocked storage lab and died from exposure to nitrogen.

January 2002: Ivan Glebov and Alexi Brushlinski.
–Expertise: Two microbiologists. Both were well-known around the world and members of the Russian Academy of Science.
–Circumstance of Death: Glebov died as the result of a bandit attack and Brushlinski was killed in Moscow.

January 28, 2002: David W. Barry, 58
–Expertise: Scientist who codiscovered AZT, the antiviral drug that is considered the first effective treatment for AIDS.
–Circumstance of Death: unknown

Feb. 9, 2002: Victor Korshunov, 56
–Expertise: Expert in intestinal bacteria of children around the world
–Circumstance of Death: bashed over the head near his home in Moscow.

Feb. 14, 2002: Ian Langford, 40
–Expertise: expert in environmental risks and disease.
–Circumstance of Death: found dead in his home near Norwich, England, naked from the waist down and wedged under a chair.

Feb. 28, 2002: Tanya Holzmayer, 46
–Expertise: a Russian who moved to the U.S. in 1989, focused on the part of the human molecular structure that could be affected best by medicine.
–Circumstance of Death: killed by fellow microbiologist Guyang (Matthew) Huang, who shot her seven times when she opened the door to a pizza delivery. Then he shot himself.

Feb. 28, 2002: Guyang Huang, 38
–Expertise: Microbiologist
–Circumstance of Death: Apparently shot himself after shooting fellow microbiologist, Tanya Holzmayer, seven times.

March 24, 2002: David Wynn-Williams, 55
–Expertise: Respected astrobiologist with the British Antarctic Survey, who studied the habits of microbes that might survive in outer space.
–Circumstance of Death: Died in a freak road accident near his home in Cambridge, England. He was hit by a car while he was jogging.

March 25, 2002: Steven Mostow, 63
–Expertise: Known as “Dr. Flu” for his expertise in treating influenza, and a noted expert in bioterrorism of the Colorado Health Sciences Centre.
–Circumstance of Death: died when the airplane he was piloting crashed near Denver.

Nov. 12, 2002: Benito Que, 52
–Expertise: Expert in infectious diseases and cellular biology at the Miami Medical School
–Circumstance of Death: Que left his laboratory after receiving a telephone call. Shortly afterward he was found comatose in the parking lot of the Miami Medical School. He died without regaining consciousness. Police said he had suffered a heart attack. His family insisted he had been in perfect health and claimed four men attacked him. But, later, oddly, the family inquest returned a verdict of death by natural causes.

April 2003: Carlo Urbani, 46
–Expertise: A dedicated and internationally respected Italian epidemiologist, who did work of enduring value combating infectious illness around the world.
–Circumstance of Death: Died in Bangkok from SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) – the new disease that he had helped to identify. Thanks to his prompt action, the epidemic was contained in Vietnam. However, because of close daily contact with SARS patients, he contracted the infection. On March 11, he was admitted to a hospital in Bangkok and isolated. Less than three weeks later he died.

June 24, 2003: Dr. Leland Rickman of UCSD, 47
A resident of Carmel Valley
–Expertise: An expert in infectious disease who helped the county prepare to fight bioterrorism after Sept. 11.
–Circumstance of Death: He was in the African nation of Lesotho with Dr. Chris Mathews of UCSD, the director of the university’s Owen Clinic for AIDS patients. Dr. Rickman had complained of a headache and had gone to lie down. When he didn’t appear for dinner, Mathews checked on him and found him dead. A cause has not yet been determined.

July 18, 2003: Dr. David Kelly, 59
–Expertise: Biological warfare weapons specialist, senior post at the Ministry of Defense, an expert on DNA sequencing when he was head of microbiology at Porton Down and worked with two American scientists, Benito Que, 52, and Don Wiley, 57.
–Helped Vladimir Pasechnik found Regma Biotechnologies, which has a contract with the U.S. Navy for “the diagnostic and therapeutic treatment of anthrax”
–Circumstance of Death: He was found dead after seemingly slashing his wrist in a wooded area near his home at Southmoor, Oxfordshire.

Oct 11 or 24, 2003: Michael Perich, 46
–Expertise: LSU professor who helped fight the spread of the West Nile virus. Perich worked with the East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Control and Rodent Abatement District to determine whether mosquitoes in the area carried West Nile.
–Circumstance of Death: Walker Police Chief Elton Burns said Sunday that Perich of 5227 River Bend Blvd., Baton Rouge, crashed his Ford pickup truck about 4:30 a.m. Saturday, while heading west on Interstate 12 in Livingston Parish. Perich’s truck veered right off the highway about 3 miles east of Walker, flipped and landed in rainwater, Burns said. Perich, who was wearing his seat belt, drowned. The cause of the crash is under investigation, Burns said.
“Mike is one of the few entomologists with the experience to go out and save lives today.”
~ Robert A. Wirtz, chief of entomology at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

November 22, 2003: Robert Leslie Burghoff, 45
–Expertise: He was studying the virus that was plaguing cruise ships until he was killed by a mysterious white van in November of 2003
–Circumstance of Death: Burghoff was walking on a sidewalk along the 1600 block of South Braeswood when a white van jumped the curb and hit him at 1:35 p.m. Thursday, police said. The van then sped away. Burghoff died an hour later at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

December 18, 2003: Robert Aranosia, 61
–Expertise: Oakland County deputy medical examiner
–Circumstance of Death: He was driving south on I-75 when his pickup truck went off the freeway near a bridge over the Kawkawlin River. The vehicle rolled over several times before landing in the median. Aranosia was thrown from the vehicle and ended up on the shoulder of the northbound lanes.

January 6, 2004: Dr Richard Stevens, 54
–Expertise: A haematologist. (Haematologists analyse the cellular composition of blood and blood producing tissues eg bone marrow)
–Circumstance of Death: Disappeared after arriving for work on 21 July, 2003. A doctor whose disappearance sparked a national manhunt, killed himself because he could not cope with the stress of a secret affair, a coroner has ruled.

January 23 2004: Dr. Robert E. Shope, 74
–Expertise: An expert on viruses who was the principal author of a highly publicized 1992 report by the National Academy of Sciences warning of the possible emergence of new and unsettling infectious illnesses. Dr. Shope had accumulated his own collection of virus samples gathered from all over the world.
–Circumstance of Death: The cause was complications of a lung transplant he received in December, said his daughter Deborah Shope of Galveston. Dr. Shope had pulmonary fibrosis, a disease of unknown origin that scars the lungs.

January 24 2004: Dr. Michael Patrick Kiley, 62
–Expertise: Ebola, Mad Cow Expert, top of the line world class.
–Circumstance of Death: Died of massive heart attack. Coincidently, both Dr. Shope and Dr. Kiley were working on the lab upgrade to BSL 4 at the UTMB Galvaston lab for Homeland Security. The lab would have to be secure to house some of the deadliest pathogens of tropical and emerging infectious disease as well as bioweaponized ones.

March 13, 2004: Vadake Srinivasan
–Expertise: Microbiologist.
–Circumstance of Death: crashed car into guard rail and ruled a stroke.

April 12, 2004: Ilsley Ingram, 84
–Expertise: Director of the Supraregional Haemophilia Reference Centre and the Supraregional Centre for the Diagnosis of Bleeding Disorders at the St. Thomas Hospital in London.
–Circumstance of Death: unknown

May 5, 2004: William T. McGuire, 39
–Expertise: NJ University Professor and Senior programmer analyst and adjunct professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
–Circumstance of Death: Body found in 3 Suitcases floating in Chesapeake Bay.

May 14, 2004: Dr. Eugene F. Mallove, 56
–Expertise: Mallove was well respected for his knowledge of cold fusion. He had just published an open letter outlining the results of and reasons for his last 15 years in the field of new energy research. Dr. Mallove was convinced it was only a matter of months before the world would actually see a free energy device.
–Circumstance of Death: Died after being beaten to death during an alleged robbery.

May 25, 2004: Antonina Presnyakova
–Expertise: Former Soviet biological weapons laboratory in Siberia –Circumstance of Death: Died after accidentally sticking herself with a needle laced with Ebola.

July 21, 2004: Dr. John Badwey 54
–Expertise: Scientist and accidental politician when he opposed disposal of sewage waste program of exposing humans to sludge. Biochemist at Harvard Medical School specializing in infectious diseases.
–Circumstance of Death: Suddenly developed pneumonia like symptoms then died in two weeks.

June 22, 2004: Thomas Gold, 84
–Expertise: He was the founder, and for twenty years the director, of the Cornell Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, where he was a close colleague of Planetary Society co-founder Carl Sagan. Gold was famous for his provocative, controversial, and sometimes outrageous theories. Gold’s theory of the deep hot biosphere holds important ramifications for the possibility of life on other planets, including seemingly inhospitable planets within our own solar system. Gold sparked controversy in 1955 when he suggested that the Moon’s surface is covered with a fine rock powder.
–Circumstance of Death: Died of heart failure.

June 24, 2004: Dr. Assefa Tulu, 45
–Expertise: Dr. Tulu joined the health department in 1997 and served for five years as the county’s lone epidemiologist. He was charged with tracking the health of the county, including the spread of diseases, such as syphilis, AIDS and measles. He also designed a system for detecting a bioterrorism attack involving viruses or bacterial agents. Tulu often coordinated efforts to address major health concerns in Dallas County, such as the West Nile virus outbreaks of the past few years, and worked with the media to inform the public.
–Circumstance of Death: Dallas County’s chief epidemiologist, was found at his desk, died of a stroke.

June 27, 2004: Dr Paul Norman, Of Salisbury, Wiltshire, 52
–Expertise: He was the chief scientist for chemical and biological defence at the Ministry of Defence’s laboratory at Porton Down, Wiltshire. He travelled the world lecturing on the subject of weapons of mass destruction.
–Circumstance of Death: Died when the Cessna 206 crashed shortly after taking off from Dunkeswell Airfield on Sunday. A father and daughter also died at the scene, and 44-year-old parachute instructor and Royal Marine Major Mike Wills later died in the hospital.

June 29, 2004: John Mullen, 67
–Expertise: A nuclear research scientist with McDonnell Douglas.
–Circumstance of Death: Died from a huge dose of poisonous arsenic.

July 1, 2004: Edward Hoffman, 62
–Expertise: Aside from his role as a professor, Hoffman held leadership positions within the UCLA medical community. Worked to develop the first human PET scanner in 1973 at Washington University in St. Louis.
–Circumstance of Death: unknown

July 2, 2004: Larry Bustard, 53
–Expertise: A Sandia scientist who helped develop a foam spray to clean up congressional buildings and media sites during the anthrax scare in 2001. Worked at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. His team came up with a new technology used against biological and chemical agents.
–Circumstance of Death: unknown

July 6, 2004: Stephen Tabet, 42
–Expertise: An associate professor and epidemiologist at the University of Washington. A world-renowned HIV doctor and researcher who worked with HIV patients in a vaccine clinical trial for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.
–Circumstance of Death: Died of an unknown illness

July 21, 2004: Dr Bassem al-Mudares
–Expertise: He was a phD chemist
–Circumstance of Death: His mutilated body was found in the city of Samarra, Iraq and had been tortured before being killed.

August 12, 2004: Professor John Clark
–Expertise: Head of the science lab which created Dolly the sheep. Prof Clark led the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, one of the world’s leading animal biotechnology research centres. He played a crucial role in creating the transgenic sheep that earned the institute worldwide fame.
–Circumstance of Death: He was found hanging in his holiday home.

September 5, 2004: Mohammed Toki Hussein al-Talakani
–Expertise: Iraqi nuclear scientist. He was a practising nuclear physicist since 1984.
–Circumstance of Death: He was shot dead in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad.

October 13, 2004: Matthew Allison, 32
Fatal explosion of a car parked at an Osceola County, Fla., Wal-Mart store was no accident, Local 6 News has learned. Found inside a burned car. Witnesses said the man left the store at about 11 p.m. and entered his Ford Taurus car when it exploded. Investigators said they found a Duraflame log and propane canisters on the front passenger’s seat.

November 2, 2004: John R. La Montagne
–Expertise: Head of US Infectious Diseases unit under Tommie Thompson. Was NIAID Deputy Director.
–Circumstance of Death: Died while in Mexico, no cause stated.

December 21, 2004: Taleb Ibrahim al-Daher
–Expertise: Iraqi nuclear scientist
–Circumstance of Death: He was shot dead north of Baghdad by unknown gunmen. He was on his way to work at Diyala University when armed men opened fire on his car as it was crossing a bridge in Baqouba, 57 km northeast of Baghdad. The vehicle swerved off the bridge and fell into the Khrisan river. Al-Daher, who was a professor at the local university, was removed from the submerged car and rushed to Baqouba hospital where he was pronounced dead.

December 29, 2004: Tom Thorne and Beth Williams
–Expertise: Two wild life scientists, Husband-and-wife wildlife veterinarians who were nationally prominent experts on chronic wasting disease and brucellosis
–Circumstance of Death: They were killed in a snowy-weather crash on U.S. 287 in northern Colorado.

January 7, 2005: Jeong H. Im, 72
–Expertise: A retired research assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Primarily a protein chemist.
–Circumstance of Death: He was stabbed several times and his body was found in the trunk of his burning white, 1995 Honda inside the Maryland Avenue parking garage.

MOSSAD, Israeli Secret Agents. Liquidate 310 Iraqi Scientists

(October 31, 2004) — More than 310 Iraqi scientists are thought to have perished at the hands of Israeli secret agents in Iraq since fall of Baghdad to US troops in April 2003, a seminar has found.

The Iraqi ambassador in Cairo, Ahmad al-Iraqi, accused Israel of sending to Iraq immediately after the US invasion ‘a commando unit’ charged with the killing of Iraqi scientists.

“Israel has played a prominent role in liquidating Iraqi scientists. The campaign is part of a Zionist plan to kill Arab and Muslim scientists working in applied research which Israel sees as threatening its interests,” al-Iraqi said.

Thanks to Patricia Doyle and to those who sent numerous emails to help correct this file and a special thanks to the members of my forum who inspired me to compile it all.

File started on Nov 28 2003

Dead Scientists Summary List

Going Nuclear: Navy Tries to Skip Out on Radioactive Cleanup in San Francisco

April 29th, 2009 - by admin

Sarah Phelan / San Francisco Bay Guardian – 2009-04-29 21:19:36


Legislators Demand better Cleanup Plans for a Radioactive Shipyard Dump

SAN FRANCISCO (April 29, 2009) — April Fool’s Day is known as a day for practical jokes designed to embarrass the gullible. But Assembly Member Tom Ammiano’s legislative aide Quentin Mecke says the April 1 letter that Ammiano and fellow Assembly Members Fiona Ma and state Sen. Leland Yee sent Mayor Gavin Newsom urging him not to support a proposal to bury a radiologically-contaminated dump beneath a concrete cap on the Hunters Point Shipyard was dead serious.

In their letter, Ammiano, Ma, and Lee expressed concern over that fact that federal officials don’t want to pay to haul toxic and radioactive dirt off the site before it’s used for parkland. They noted that an “estimated 1.5 million tons of toxics and radioactive material still remain” on the site.

A 1999 ordinance passed by San Francisco voters as Proposition P “recognized that the U.S. Navy had for decades negligently polluted the seismically-active shipyard, and that the city should not accept early transfer of the shipyard to San Francisco’s jurisdiction, unless and until it is cleaned up to the highest standards,” the legislators wrote. “Given the information we have, a full cleanup needs to happen,” Mecke told us.

But Newsom’s response so far suggests he may be willing to accept the Navy’s proposal.

From the 1940s to 1974, according to the Navy’s 2004 historical radiological assessment, the Navy dumped industrial, domestic, and solid waste, including sandblast waste, on a portion of the site known as Parcel E. Among the materials that may be underground: decontamination waste from ships returning from Operation Crossroads — in which atomic tests in the South Pacific went awry, showering Navy vessels with a tidal wave of radioactive material.

“We have serious questions about the city accepting what is essentially a hazardous and radioactive waste landfill adjacent to a state park along the bay, in a high liquefaction zone with rising sea levels,” the letter reads. “We understand that the Navy is pushing for a comparatively low-cost engineering solution which the Navy believes will contain toxins and radioactive waste in this very unstable geology. We hope that you and your staff aggressively oppose this option.”

Keith Forman, the Navy’s base realignment and closure environmental coordinator for the shipyard, told the Guardian that the Navy produced did a thorough analysis of the site.

The Pentagon estimates that excavating the dump would cost $332 million, last four years, and cause plenty of nasty smells. Simply leaving the toxic stew in place and putting a cap on it would cost $82 million.

Espanola Jackson, who has lived in Bayview Hunters Point for half a century, says the community has put up with bad smells for decades thanks to the nearby sewage treatment plant. “So what’s four more years?” Jackson told the Guardian.

Judging from his April 21 reply to the three legislators, who represent San Francisco in Sacramento, Newsom is committed only to a technically acceptable cleanup — which is not the same thing as pushing to completely dig up and haul away the foul material in the dump.

He noted that during his administration federal funding for shipyard clean-up “increased dramatically, with almost a half-billion dollars secured in the last six years.” Newsom also told Ammiamo, Ma, and Yee that the city won’t accept the Parcel E landfill until both the state Department of Toxic Substances Control and the federal Environmental Protection Agency “agree that it will be safe for its intended use.”

The intended use for Parcel E-2 is parks and open space, said Michael Cohen, Newsom’s right-hand man in the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The Navy won’t issue its final recommendations until next summer. “That’s when regulatory agencies decide what the clean up should be, whether that’s a dig and haul, a cap, or a mix of the two, ” Cohen explained.

Part of the Navy’s concern is the expense of trucking the toxic waste from San Francisco to a secure landfill elsewhere — someplace designed to contain this sort of material (and someplace less likely to have earthquakes that could shatter a cap and let the nasty muck escape).

David Gavrich and Eric Smith say the Navy is looking at the wrong solution. Gavrich, founder of the shipyard-based Waste Solutions Group and the San Francisco Bay Railroad, which transports waste and recyclables, and Eric Smith, founder of the biodiesel-converting company Green Depot, who shares space with Gavrich and a herd of goats that help keep the railyard surrounding their Cargo Way office weed-free, say the military solution is long-haul diesel trucks. But, he observes, the waste could be moved at far less cost (and less environmental impact) if it went by train.

Saul Bloom, executive director of Arc Ecology, a nonprofit that specializes in tracking military base reuse and cleanup operations, would also like to see the landfill removed, even though he’s not sure about the trucks vs. train options.

“We don’t have confidence about having a dump on San Francisco Bay,” Bloom said. “I’m concerned about the relationship between budgetary dollars and remediation of the site. I’m concerned that the community’s voice, which is saying they’d like to see the landfill removed, is not being heard.”

Mark Ripperda of EPA’s Region 9 told us that community acceptance is important, but a remedy must also be evaluated using nine specific criteria.

“A remedy must first meet the threshold criteria,” Ripperda said. “If it passes the threshold test, then it is evaluated against the primary balancing criteria and finally the modifying criteria are applied.”

Noting that he has not received any communication from either the Assembly Members or the Mayor’s Office concerning the Parcel E-2 cleanup, Ripperda said that “the evaluation of alternatives considered rail, barge, and truck transport, with rail being the most favorable transportation mode for the complete excavation alternative. However, the waste would still be transported and disposed into a landfill somewhere else and the alternatives must be evaluated under all nine criteria.”

Ripperda said it’s feasible to remove the worst stuff — the “hot spots” — and cap the rest. “A cap will eliminate pathways for exposure and can be designed to withstand seismic events,” he told us. “The landfill has been in place for decades and the groundwater data shows little leaching of contaminants.”

Meanwhile Newsom has tried to redirect the problem to Ammiano, Ma, and Yee, saying he seeks their “active support in directing even more state and federal funds” toward cleaning up the shipyard. He made clear he wants to move the redevelopment project forward — now.

Sen. Mark Leno is carrying legislation that includes a state land swap vital to the city’s plans to allow Lennar Corp. to build housing and commercial space on the site.

But while Cohen claims the aim of the land trade is to “build another Crissy Field,” some environmentalists worry it will bifurcate the southeast sector’s only major open space. They also suspect that was the reason Leno didn’t sign Ammiano’s April 1 letter.

Leno says that omission occurred because Sacramento-based lobbyist Bob Jiroux, who Leno claims drafted the letter, never asked Leno to sign. (Jiroux refused to comment.)

Claiming he would have signed Ammiano’s letter given the chance, Leno described Jiroux as a “good Democrat” who used to work for Sen. John Burton, but now works for Lang, Hansen, O’Malley, and Miller, a Republican-leaning lobbying firm in Sacramento whose clients include Energy Solutions, a Utah-based low-level nuclear waste disposal facility that stands to profit if San Francisco excavates Parcel E-2.

Ammiano dismisses the ensuing furor over Energy Solutions as a “tempest in a teapot.

“I signed that letter to Newsom because of the truth that it contains,” Ammiano said. “Sure, there’s crazy stuff going on. But within the insanity, there’s a progressive message: the community wants radiological contaminants removed from the shipyard.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

UAE Guns for Advanced Weaponry

April 29th, 2009 - by admin

Ahmed Janabi / Al Jazeera – 2009-04-29 21:12:00


Reports Say the UAE Is
Purchasing Billions of Dollars Worth of
Advanced Weaponry

• IN VIDEO: UAE Goes Shopping for US Arms
Despite the global economic crisis, the United Arab Emirates, a country of under a million people, is set to see its total defence spending for this year soar to over $7 billion. Al Jazeera’s Owen Fay reports on the reasons behind the tiny Gulf nation’s increased defence spending, which has seen it become the world’s third largest importer of American weapons.

(April 28, 2009. 17:59 Mecca Time) — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been purchasing advanced weaponry from leading suppliers of military hardware at an alarming rate, fuelling what some believe could be a new conventional arms race in the Middle East.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which conducts scientific research into issues of conflict and peaceful resolution, says the UAE was the world’s 15th largest arms importer between 1999 and 2003.

However, by 2008, it had become the third-largest, behind China and India.

Mustafa al-Ani, the head of the security and defence department at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre, believes the UAE’s new arms strategy is based on what its defence ministry believes is “reliable threat identification”.

He says the UAE and other Arab countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council believe that Iran could be a potential threat in case its disagreement with the West over its nuclear programme escalated into military engagement.

“After settling its border disputes with Saudi Arabia and Oman, theoretically, the UAE no longer feels threatened by any of its neighbours. The threat is coming from across the Gulf — Iran,” al-Ani told Al Jazeera. “The UAE’s recent arms purchases indicate that it has identified air, missile and naval threats,” he said.

UAE’s Strategic Value
In 2005, it was estimated that the UAE’s military expenditure was 3.1 per cent of its total GDP of $184.6 billion, which some say is considerable for a country of such small size.

However, some analysts say the elevated rhetoric between the Bush administration and Iran over its nuclear programme spread fears that Tehran could, potentially, strike at US military and civilian interests throughout the Gulf.

Although tiny, the UAE lies along the access point to what is now considered to be the most strategically important body of water in the world – the Straits of Hormuz.

More than 40 per cent of the world’s oil supply passes through these straits every day, including 90 per cent of all oil produced in the Gulf region.

In the event any military action is taken against Iran, Tehran has threatened to close down the Straits; though this is unlikely, any disruption – however small – would have significant repercussions on world oil prices.

The Straits themselves are patrolled by the British and US navies with support from Gulf countries, but the specific concern for the UAE lies in its proximity to Iran.

The UAE sits at the southern entrance to the Strait of Hormuz
All of the UAE’s oil fields – and largest cities – lie within range of Iranian missiles.

The UAE, Bahrain and Qatar host several military and naval installations, which could become the targets of a counter-strike by Iranian forces should Iran’s nuclear facilities be targeted.

In 2006, Jeffery Kohler, the director of the Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which is part of the US department of defence, told the media that Iran’s neighbours were arming themselves by turning to Western arms suppliers. He said the UAE and Saudi Arabia were among those who sought advanced US weaponry.

Reports Scrutinised
But Riad Kahwaji, the director of the Dubai-based Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), has played down the SIPRI report.

“I do not think the UAE’s arms purchases are larger than those of Iran, Israel, Russia and many more countries,” he said. “However, we know that UAE’s military expenditure is huge, and can lure many arms manufacturers worldwide, but we should keep in mind that our military structure is defensive in nature,” he said.

Last December, the UAE concluded a $3.3bn Patriot missiles arms deal with the US. The US and UAE are also negotiating a $9bn deal that would include air defence systems and Black Hawk helicopters.

Some experts have said that the UAE, like other Gulf nations, faces the potential of internal threats as well. The Gulf has, for the past two decades, been a magnet for millions of foreign workers, largely young men, who outnumber the region’s indigenous populations.

A 2005 census estimated the population of the UAE to be as high as 4.8 million, of which only 19 per cent were indigenous Emirati Arabs. Non-Arabs, mainly south Asians, constitute half of the overall population. South Asians are thought to comprise 75 per cent of the UAE’s labour force.

The UAE has always been keen to send a message that it has a powerful army and internal security forces.

Mutar Jumaa, an Emirati who published several studies on the demography of Gulf Arab countries while working at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), believes the UAE suffers from a serious demographic crisis. “I can say the UAE and the Gulf are in [an] unpleasant situation, and I totally agree with the need for effective security forces backed by [a] powerful army.

“The fact that our citizens are way outnumbered by foreign working bachelors is something disturbing. We had some unrest last year, disgruntled migrant workers attacked people and used violence to get what they wanted. Some South Asian countries even started to ask us to grant citizenship to their workers in our country.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

House Judiciary Democrats Want Special Prosecutor for Torture

April 28th, 2009 - by admin

David Swanson / After Downing Street – 2009-04-28 23:16:26


Judiciary Democrats Call for Special Counsel on Torture

WASHINGTON (April 27, 2009) — House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and fifteen other Judiciary Democrats today called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate possible violations of federal criminal law related to the interrogation of detainees.

The attorney general acknowledged in his confirmation hearings that waterboarding is torture. Moreover, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the top Bush Administration official in charge of military commissions have also concluded that the United States engaged in torture of detainees.

The Geneva Convention and the Convention Against Torture both require the United States to investigate, and if necessary prosecute, alleged violations. Justice Department regulations provide for the appointment of a special counsel when a criminal investigation is both warranted and in the public interest, and when an investigation may pose a conflict of interest within the Department. Since these conditions are present, the signatories below conclude that a special counsel should be appointed.

The signatories include:

• Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Chairman
• Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
• Rep. Robert Scott, Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
• Rep. Steve Cohen, Chairman, Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law
• Rep. Hank Johnson, Chairman, Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy
• Rep. Mel Watt
• Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
• Rep. Maxine Waters
• Rep. Robert Wexler
• Rep. Pedro Pierluisi
• Rep. Luis Gutierrez
• Rep. Tammy Baldwin
• Rep. Anthony Weiner
• Rep. Linda Sánchez
• Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
• Rep. Daniel Maffei

The Text of the Letter Follows

April 28, 2009

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General of the United States
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

We write to request that you appoint a special counsel for the investigation and possible prosecution of any violations of federal criminal laws related to the interrogation of detainees in the effective custody or control of the United States in connection with counter-terrorism operations or armed conflicts in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Many of us previously asked your predecessor, Attorney General Mukasey, to do so, expressing our desire to ensure an independent investigation into serious allegations that high-ranking officials, including lawyers and others from the Department of Justice itself, approved the use of enhanced interrogation techniques that amounted to torture.

Recent events highlight the need for such an appointment. The OLC memos formally released last week provide additional details regarding the purported legal justifications provided by DOJ lawyers for various interrogation techniques, including the slamming of detainees into walls, the use of stress positions, confinement in boxes, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding.

The Senate Armed Services Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in US Custody, declassified and released on April 21, confirms that these interrogation practices were developed at the request of and authorized by high-ranking administration officials, and that the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere can be linked to these policy decisions.1 Top Bush Administration officials previously testified that at least three detainees were subjected to waterboarding, (2) and the recently released OLC memos reveal that one detainee was subjected to waterboarding 183 times in a one month period while another was subjected to waterboarding 83 times in one month. (3)

During your confirmation hearings, you testified that waterboarding is torture, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had been denied access to detainees held at CIA secret prisons for several years, has concluded that the treatment alleged by fourteen of these detainees constituted torture. (4) Earlier this year, the Bush Administration’s top official in charge of military commissions concluded that the US military’s treatment of Mohammed al-Qahtani “met the legal definition of torture.”(5)

As you are aware, Justice Department regulations provide for the Attorney General to appoint an outside special counsel when:

• a “criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted,”

• the “investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department,” and

• “it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.”(6) Such counsel is to be appointed from outside the government and should have the authority to secure resources for the investigation and prosecution and have full investigatory and prosecutorial powers. (7)

We believe that these three criteria have been met and warrant the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether federal criminal laws were violated by individuals who authorized or participated in the interrogation of detainees.

First, as noted above, there is abundant, credible evidence of torture and the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees, and criminal investigation is not only warranted, it is also required. The Geneva Conventions obligate High Contracting Parties like the United States to investigate and bring before our courts those individuals “alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed” grave breaches of those Conventions. (8)

The war crimes act, 18 U.S.C. § 2441, creates jurisdiction in the U.S. courts whenever the victim or alleged offender is a U.S. national or member of the Armed Forces, and specifically identifies torture and cruel or inhuman treatment, as well as the conspiracy to commit those acts, as punishable war crimes.

The Convention Against Torture (CAT) – signed by President Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1994 – also obligates the U.S. to conduct a “prompt and impartial investigation” and “submit the case to [our] competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution” whenever there are reasonable grounds to believe that torture has been committed in a territory under our jurisdiction or by U.S. nationals. (9)

The federal anti-torture statute, 18 USC § 2340A, criminalizes torture and the conspiracy to commit torture and creates jurisdiction in the U.S. courts whenever the “alleged offender is a national of the United States” or “is present in the United States.”

Second, a conflict of interest would be presented in having the Department investigate allegations that high-ranking Justice Department officials and lawyers provided legal guidance on and may have been involved in developing interrogation policy. For example, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel and former Attorney General and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales advised the Administration and President to deny detainees the legal protection of the Geneva Conventions, and OLC lawyers wrote extensive legal memos that authorized specific interrogation techniques that likely amounted to torture.

While some key individuals are no longer with the Department or Executive Branch, it is impossible to determine at this stage and before conclusion of the necessary investigation whether additional conflicts of interest might exist or arise. When Department lawyers are alleged to have been involved, we believe the Attorney General should turn to a special counsel.

Finally, there can be little doubt that the public interest will be served by appointment of a special counsel. The authorization and use of interrogation techniques that likely amounted to torture has generated tremendous concern and outrage in this country, and has harmed our legal and moral standing in the world. As a country committed to the rule of law, we must investigate and demand accountability for acts of torture committed by or on our behalf.

Appointing a special counsel to undertake this task would serve the interests of the Department and of the public in ensuring that the necessary investigation is thorough and impartial, and that the United States fairly investigates serious and credible accusations of misconduct, even where high-ranking government officials may be involved.

We applaud President Obama’s efforts to assure America and the rest of the world that this Department’s investigative and prosecutorial decisions will be free from political considerations. We are confident that you and the President will uphold this critical guarantee, and will restore the Department’s independence and integrity. Yet, as you undoubtedly are aware, Americans on both sides of the political aisle worry that this issue already is mired in politics, with those who oppose investigation characterizing that possibility as a political witch hunt and those who, like us, support accountability expressing concern that the rule of law must be upheld.

Given these factors, any decisions that you make regarding prosecutions will be perceived by some as political. Appointment of a special counsel insulates you and the Department from such claims, and instills confidence that the outcome of the investigation could not possibly have been predetermined or otherwise improperly influenced.

The special counsel rules provide for both accountability and transparency. An appointed special counsel would be subject to Department ethics rules and to oversight by you to prevent undue expansion of the investigation.

The special counsel would report to you about any decision to prosecute or not to prosecute; you could provide that report to Congress and the public, and would have to report to Congress if the special counsel is fired or the investigation halted.

Appointing a special counsel balances the need, recognized after Watergate, to ensure independent investigation of high-ranking officials with the need to avoid prosecutors with unchecked power.

Given the importance of this issue, we look forward to a response to our request at your earliest convenience.

1 Senate Armed Services Committee Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody, http://levin.senate.gov/newsroom/supporting/2009/SASC.DetaineeReport.042….

2 Three were waterboarded, CIA chief confirms, LA Times, Feb. 6, 2008.

3 Scott Shane, Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects, NY Times, April 20, 2009.

4 ICRC Report on the Treatment of fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody, Feb. 2007, available at http://www.nybooks.com/icrc-report.pdf.

5 Bob Woodward, Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official, Washington Post, January 14, 2009, A01.

6 28 C.F.R. 600.1.

7 Id. at 600.3-600.6.

8 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and the Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, Aug. 12, 1949, entered into force Oct. 21, 1950, 6 U.S.T. 3217, 75 U.N.T.S. 31, Art. 49http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/7c4d08d9b287a42141256739003e636b/fe20c3d903ce27e3c125641e004a92f3; Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick, and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, Aug. 12, 1949, entered into force Oct. 21, 1950, 6 U.S.T. 3217, 75 U.N.T.S. 85, Art. 50 ; Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Aug. 12, 1949, entered into force Oct. 21, 1950. 6 U.S.T. 3316, 75 U.N.T.S. 135, Art. 129; Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War, Aug. 12, 1949, entered into force Oct. 21, 1950, 6 U.S.T. 3516, 75 U.N.T.S. 287, Art. 146.

9 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), Arts. 7(1), 12.

Iran Arrests Bomb Suspects, Cites Israeli Link

April 28th, 2009 - by admin

Nazila Fathi / New York Times & Payvand News / Press TV – 2009-04-28 22:59:17


Iran Arrests Bomb Suspects, Cites Israeli Link
Nazila Fathi / New York Times

TEHRAN (April 28, 2009) — An Iranian newspaper said Monday that the authorities had arrested a group of what it called terrorists linked to Israel, accusing them of planning to plant bombs in Tehran ahead of the June 12 elections.

The daily Kayhan newspaper [See story below] quoted the minister of intelligence, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi , as saying that a “terrorist team” wanted to create “anarchy and insecurity” ahead of the elections. He did not reveal when the arrests took place or how many people had been arrested.

“According to the evidence, the Zionist regime wants to hook up with anti-revolutionary elements and use them as an instrument for its own purposes,” the minister was quoted as saying.

The accusation was the second incident in a week highlighting Iran’s long-running suspicions about and hostility toward Israel. Iran does not recognize Israel and has no diplomatic or economic ties with it.

Such are the suspicions that a serious debate erupted here last week over reports that Israeli oranges had reached Iranian markets. The oranges bore stickers indicating that had been imported from Jaffa. An Iranian official, Hossein Safaee, said the importation of the oranges was “worrisome” and demanded that the “violators should be brought to justice,” Mehr news agency said.

It was not clear how the oranges, which were in boxes marked Made in China, were imported. Some news reports said they had been shipped via Dubai and were distributed for free at one of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speeches near Tehran.

The minister of commerce, Moahammad Sadeq Mofateh, denied that the oranges were imported legally and announced a prize of $1 billion for anyone who could prove that they were, Iranian newspapers reported.

© 2009 New York Times

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Iran Sheds Light on Arrested Terror Suspects
Payvand News / Press TV

TEHRAN (April 28, 2009) —Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has disclosed few details about an ‘Israeli-backed’ terrorist group which was plotting a wave of bombings in the country.

Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei said on Monday that the ministry had picked up on a series of suspicious activities which prompted the agency to focus its attention on the suspects.

The Iranian minister made the remarks after an announcement on Sunday that the country’s intelligence forces had arrested “a group of deceived elements … who wanted to carry out explosions, particularly before the June presidential election.”

“The leading members of the group who have so far been arrested are less than 10 people,” Mohseni-Eje’i said. He added that the group comprised of three wings — the leading wing, the supporting wing and a wing in charge of supplying required equipment.

Due to the sensitivity of the matter, however; Mohseni-Eje’i did not add further details about the group but said more information would be released once the ministry studies every aspect of their plots.

The fresh terrorist plot came after Iran in 2008 said it disbanded a terrorist cell supported by Britain, Israel and the United States responsible for killing 13 civilians and injuring more than 200 Iranians in a blast in the southern city of Shiraz.

The Intelligence Ministry later announced that the terrorist group had also planned to target Iranian oil pipelines, Tehran’s international book fair as well as scientific, religious and educational centers, and other crowded locations in different cities.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

World-famous Pianist Boycotts US to Protest Washington’s Militarism

April 28th, 2009 - by admin

Mark Swed et al. / Los Angeles Times Blog – 2009-04-28 22:15:51


Krystian Zimerman’s Controversial Appearance at Disney Hall
Mark Swed / Los Angeles Times Blog

LOS ANGELES (April 27, 2009) — In 1978, an unknown, soft-spoken, 21-year-old Polish pianist appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for its newly appointed music director, Carlo Maria Giulini, in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The performances of Chopin’s two piano concertos were recorded by Deutsche Grammophon. Krystian Zimerman’s eloquence went far beyond his years, and a major career was launched.

In the ’80s, Zimerman became Leonard Bernstein’s favorite pianist, the conductor’s choice to record the Beethoven and Brahms piano concertos. In 1992, the summer before Esa-Pekka Salonen became music director of the L.A. Philharmonic, he selected Zimerman to perform with the orchestra at the Salzburg Festival.

And now, Sunday, making his Disney Hall debut in a recital sponsored by the Philharmonic, Zimerman, who has become arguably the greatest pianist of his generation, made the surprise and shocking announcement from the stage that in protest to America’s military policies overseas and particularly in Poland, he would no longer perform in the United States.

“Get your hands off my country,” he said, soft-spoken but seething. He accused the US military of wanting “to control the whole world,” and made a reference to the US military detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Approximately three dozen in the audience walked out, some shouting obscenities. “Yes,” he answered, “some people when they hear the word military start marching.”

Others remained but booed or yelled for him to shut up and play the piano. But many more cheered. He responded by saying that America has far finer things to export than the military, and he thanked those who support democracy.

Zimerman (who doesn’t allow photos taken of his performances) had been in a seemingly curious mood all evening. Normally, the most exacting of pianists, he dispatched with strange impatience Bach’s Partita No. 2 and Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 32, Opus 111, in the first half the program.

He quickly walked to the piano and instead of allowing the audience to quiet and the mood to be just right, he launched into each piece, not even waiting for latecomers to be seated before beginning Beethoven’s most visionary sonata.

A program change from Brahms’ late piano pieces, Opus 119, to the Piano Sonata No. 2 by Grazyna Bacewicz, announced over the loudspeakers after intermission, was the evening’s next surprise. It was premiered in 1953 and is a strikingly modernist, moody and nationalist sonata for Soviet Poland. Again Zimerman went straight to the piano and immediately attacked the percussive first movement. The performance was riveting.

Before playing the final work on his recital, Karol Szymanowski’s “Variations on a Polish Folk Theme,” Zimerman more typically sat meditatively on his bench for a moment. Twice he leaned toward the keys and almost began to play, but then turned to the audience saying he hadn’t planned to speak but decided he could not keep silent.

Zimerman is a magnificent obsessive. He travels with his own Steinway, is his own piano technician, and even his own truck driver. He typically spends half a year devising a concert program and will do anything to achieve the sound he desires.

Three years ago at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, he substituted Gershwin for Chopin because the Transportation Security Administration had held up his piano at the airport and he didn’t have time to practice to adjust it properly. An earlier piano was destroyed by Homeland Security at JFK airport because officials were suspicious that its glue could be an explosive in disguise.

All along, Szymanowski’s Variations had seemed an unusually lightweight end to a program that contained far-reaching Bach, Beethoven and (originally) Brahms. An early work by the only internationally famous Polish composer of the early 20th century, the pleasingly Chopinesque Variations were written in 1904 when the composer was 22 and demonstrate none of the erotic mysticism of his mid-career compositions or the folk-inspired nationalism that made him known as the Polish Bartók.

Yet to hear Zimerman play anything in Disney was amazing. His Bach was richly nuanced and beautiful although pushed in the final Capriccio. The trills in his Beethoven had a bell-like shimmer that sounded like a newly discovered acoustic phenomenon.

But in the Szymanowski, Zimerman’s meticulous tone, so luminous in the Introduction and theme, ultimately took second place to idealistic patriotic zeal. It’s a good thing that he can look after his own pianos, because this one will probably want some doctoring after the treatment he gave it. There was no encore. Pianist, audience and piano were all spent. The cheers were deafening.

I hope Zimerman reconsiders his US embargo. He has, of course, angered some Americans. But our country is precisely the place where politics are not outlawed from the concert hall. And I can’t imagine a more compelling case to be made for Polish solidarity than his incomparable performance of these variations.

Krystian Zimerman’s Shocking Disney Hall Debut
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES (April 27, 2009) — Poland’s Krystian Zimerman, widely regarded as one of the finest pianists in the world, created a furor Sunday night in his debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall when he announced this would be his last performance in America because of the nation’s military policies overseas.

Before playing the final work on his recital, Karol Szymanowski’s “Variations on a Polish Folk Theme,” Zimerman sat silently at the piano for a moment, almost began to play, but then turned to the audience. In a quiet but angry voice that did not project well, he indicated that he could no longer play in a country whose military wants to control the whole world.

“Get your hands off of my country,” he said. He also made reference to the US military detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

About 30 or 40 people in the audience walked out, some shouting obscenities. “Yes,” he answered, “some people when they hear the word military start marching.”

Others remained but booed or yelled for him to shut up and play the piano. But many more cheered. Zimerman responded by saying that America has far finer things to export than the military, and he thanked those who support democracy.

For the first half of the recital, Zimerman had played a Bach Partita and Beethoven’s last piano sonata, Opus 111, with firm determination. After intermission he made a last minute substitution, exchanging late Brahms works for a 1953 sonata by Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz. The Szymanowski variations, which closed the program, was played with an astonishing ferocity that brought nothing but tumultuous cheers. There was no encore.

The pianist was not available after the concert for further comment.

Zimerman has had problems in the United States in recent years. He travels with his own Steinway piano, which he has altered himself. But shortly after 9/11, the instrument was confiscated at JFK Airport when he landed in New York to give a recital at Carnegie Hall.

Thinking the glue smelled funny, the TSA decided to take no chances and destroyed the instrument. Since then he has shipped his pianos in parts, which he reassembles by hand after he lands. He also drives the truck himself when he carries his instrument from city to city over land, as he did after playing a recital in Berkeley on Friday.

What led to Krystian Zimerman’s surprising comments, walkouts
Jessica Garrison and Diane Haithman / Los Angeles Times Blog

LOS ANGELES (April 28, 2009) — Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman, who is widely admired for his virtuosic performances and who famously tours with his own custom-altered Steinway, created a furor at Disney Hall on Sunday night when he stopped his recital to announce that this would be his last American appearance — in protest of the nation’s military policies overseas.

In a low voice that could not be heard throughout the auditorium, Zimerman, universally considered among the world’s finest pianists, made reference to Guantanamo Bay and US military policies toward Poland.

“Get your hands off my country,” he said.

Then he turned to the piano and played Szymanowski’s “Variations on a Polish Folk Theme” with such passion and intensity that the stunned audience gave him multiple ovations.

Earlier, about 30 or 40 people in the audience had walked out after Zimerman’s declaration, some shouting obscenities.

“Yes,” the pianist, known in Poland as “King Krystian the Glorious,” answered, “some people, when they hear the word military, start marching.”

Zimerman then said that America has far finer exports than its military — and he thanked those who supported democracy. He left the stage without further comment and was unavailable Monday.

His manager, Mary Pat Buerkle, told the Associated Press on Monday that Zimerman has talked for the last couple of years about not coming back to the United States “for a while. . . . I don’t think it’s appropriate to say it’s all political.”

Zimerman has had problems in the United States in recent years, but many in the classical music world thought they were logistical.

Just a week ago, before an appearance in Seattle, Zimerman expressed frustration about the hassle and expense of touring the US with his piano.

Shortly after Sept. 11, his instrument was confiscated at JFK Airport when he landed in New York to give a recital at Carnegie Hall. Thinking the glue smelled funny, the Transportation Security Administration decided to take no chances and destroyed the piano. Since then he has shipped his pianos in parts, which he reassembles by hand after he lands. To get from city to city within the US, he hires a driver to take the shell of the piano, and he drives another car that holds the precious custom-designed keys and hammers.

Lately, he’d seemed pleased with the direction the United States has taken. During a performance Friday at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, he delighted his Bay Area audience by making sly reference to his approval of Barack Obama in the White House.

But by the time he drove his piano to Los Angeles, Zimerman’s mood appeared to have darkened. His remarks, which some in the audience characterized as angry, were the talk of Los Angeles’ classical music world and its small Polish community Monday.

Deborah Borda, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, said that while some patrons were taken aback by Zimerman’s comments,she did not believe it would affect attendance or fundraising.

“It was very clear he was speaking for himself,” she said. “We obviously can’t censor. We believe in freedom of expression. We don’t use a hook to drag people off the stage.”

In a spirited range of comments on Culture Monster, many praised Zimerman and others said the stage was no place for divisive political speech. “Go Zimerman, and take the Dixie Chicks with you,” said one post, referring to the country music group that in 2003 created a ruckus when a member said they were ashamed President Bush was from Texas.

Others noted that though classical music culture in the United States is among the least overtly political of enclaves, Poland has a long tradition of mixing the political and the musical. Composer and pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski was Poland’s third prime minister and is revered in Poland the way the Founding Fathers are here.

“There is a tradition of Polish pianists being in the middle of political events,” said Marek Zebrowski, director of the Polish Music Center at USC.

Though Poland gets comparatively little attention in the US, American policy recently has been a hot-button issue in Poland. Poles were upset about allegations that the CIA held suspected Al Qaeda militants in secret prisons in Poland. A Polish newspaper mockingly referred to the country as “the 51st state.” Also controversial was a Bush administration proposal to put missile defense facilities there.

Sumi Hahn, a Seattle journalist who interviewed Zimerman earlier this month, said she was not surprised to hear of his outburst. She said he told her that he had “very mixed feelings now about America.”

In the past five years,” she quoted him as saying, “something happened here that changed the world: a war based on lies. . . . So much damage was done worldwide … and Americans are so unaware.”

On the other hand, Robert Cole, director of Cal Performances in Berkeley, said he was surprised to hear of Zimerman’s L.A. comments — especially because of the lightness that characterized his performance in Berkeley.

Just before playing a Bach partita, Zimerman told his audience it was important to consider the political purpose of a piece of music. Bach, he told his audience, “had made a decision to put his piece in a minor key rather than a major one.” Perhaps, he said, according to audience members who were there, he did that because there was a leader Bach didn’t like.

Zimerman made an approving reference to Obama and then played the piece, but ended it in a joyful C major instead of amelancholy C minor.

“The audience loved it,” said Christina Kellogg, director of public relations at Cal Performances. “His playing was brilliant and they broke into huge applause, and he was clearly pleased that the audience was completely with him.”

Cole said he had breakfast with the pianist last week at a music-themed cafe across the street from the campus. Zimerman spoke mainly of how exhausting it was to travel with a Steinway.

“I’m sorry he’s not coming back,” Cole said. “He reminds me of Don Quixote. He’s on a quest for perfection.”

Cole added that, from a public relations perspective, it’s too bad Zimerman hadn’t offered his comments about Bach to Los Angeles and saved his fiery political rhetoric for Berkeley.

“I think he maybe picked the wrong place,” he said. “It would have been less of an uproar here.”

Mark Swed contributing.

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NATO Warships begin Exercise with Pakistan Navy

April 28th, 2009 - by admin

DAWN.com – 2009-04-28 22:08:24


KARACHI (April, 28, 2009) —NATO warships sailed out on Monday to take part in an exercise with Pakistan Navy and its air units against piracy, terrorism and human trafficking in the Arabian Sea. Nine warships, four of NATO and five of Pakistan Navy, are taking part in the exercise which has assumed great significance in the wake of latest incidents of piracy in the Horn of Africa with similar potential in the North Arabia Sea because of growing Taliban and Al Qaeda threat emanating from tribal areas and Afghanistan.

NATO warships from the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Canada, carrying about 800 personnel, anchored here on Sunday for the two-day exercise.

The exercise will provide an opportunity to reassess the timely force availability by developing mission-tailored units, both fleet and marines, augmented with specialised modular units and command-and-control elements, capable of flexibly switching roles and tasks, at and from the sea.

It will also put on test the so-called effective intelligence through collective situational awareness and information dominance.

The exercise will contribute in effective command and control by optimising inter-operability in the conduct of networked operations and logistic sustainability by further developing the sea-base concept to enhance operational endurance that may ultimately evolve into the ship/scout-fighter concept as part of the navy’s contribution to both homeland maritime security and forward-deployed expeditionary maritime presence.

The purpose of the exercise is also to test survivability and force protection by providing flexible defence against various types of missiles, mines, torpedoes and improvised explosive devices and the means for close-in engagement of asymmetric threats or militant maritime forces.

After two days of exercise, NATO ships will proceed to the coast of Somalia where piracy has become a potential threat to international seaborne traffic. The threat has compelled China to dispatch its naval missions to the Horn of Africa to send the message that it would not tolerate activities aimed at chocking the Straits of Hormuz and Straits of Malacca.

Talking to the media onboard Portuguese Navy Frigate NRP ‘Corte-Real’, Rear Admiral Pereira Da Cunha, Commander of the Standing NATO Maritime Group-I, said collective efforts had to be made to fight sea crimes, such as piracy and terrorism, because they had no boundaries.

The exercise was also aimed at strengthening longstanding military and diplomatic ties with Pakistan and its navy, he added.

Copyright © 2009 – Dawn Media Group

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Plan Would Deploy Guard Near Mexico
$350 Million Effort Aimed at Drug War
Mary Beth Sheridan, Spencer S. Hsu and Steve Fainaru / Washington Post

(April 25, 2009) — The Pentagon and Homeland Security Department are developing contingency plans to send National Guard troops to the US-Mexican border under a $350 million initiative that would expand the US military’s role in the drug war, according to Obama administration officials.

The circumstances under which the troops could be deployed have not been determined, the officials said. They said the proposal was designed to give President Obama additional flexibility to respond to drug-related violence that has threatened to spill into the United States from Mexico and to curb southbound smuggling of cash and weapons.

The initiative, which was tucked into the supplemental budget request sent to Congress this month, has raised concerns over what some US officials perceive as an effort by the Pentagon to increase its counternarcotics profile through a large pot of money that comes with few visible requirements.

The broadly worded proposal does not mention troop deployments, stipulating only that the military is to receive up to $350 million “for counter-narcotics and other activities . . . on the United States’ border with Mexico.”

If the contingency plans go unused, the money would be retained for military operations and maintenance after September 2010, an administration official said.

The proposal is being closely monitored by the State Department, which administers the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative, a three-year aid package to fight drug trafficking in Mexico and Central America. The new funding would be nearly as much as the 2009 budget for Merida, and some observers said they fear that the military could use the money to set up a parallel counternarcotics program with little oversight.

“The real question is what happens if this morphs into something else,” said a US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

House and Senate committees began receiving briefings from White House budget staff this past week. Some lawmakers and aides said they were unaware that the funds would be allocated to deploy troops.

“Frankly, I’m baffled that an additional $350 million has been requested under the defense appropriation,” Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said Thursday.

Joy Olson, executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America, which promotes democracy and human rights in the region, said the request lacks the accountability provisions included in the Merida Initiative, which was passed after more than a year of debate in both countries.

“They may say that this is for the National Guard, but the way it’s written, it is really a blank check for the Defense Department to do whatever it wants on counter-drug issues at the border — and it doesn’t say which side of the border,” Olson said.

The administration did not seek additional funding under Merida because the new assistance is targeted only on the US side of the border, said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plan is still being formulated. A second administration official said $250 million is for the deployment of National Guard troops if they are needed, and the remaining $100 million would go to protect unaccompanied minors found crossing the border.

The funds are to be available until the end of September 2010. The proposal also authorizes the secretary of defense to transfer up to $100 million to other federal agencies.

“We wanted to make sure he [Obama] was in a position that, if the facts on the ground warranted it, that he had resources at his disposal to be able to enhance the capacity on the ground through the use of National Guard troops,” another administration official said.

The contingency plan to deploy National Guard troops appears to mark a shift for Obama.

More than 10,000 Mexicans have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderón took on the cartels after taking office in December 2006. Amid indications that the violence could spill into the United States, some officials have intensified calls for Washington to beef up security along the border.

In early March, the president brushed off calls to deploy troops, saying: “I’m not interested in militarizing the border.” His comments were echoed by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last week while visiting the border region: “There are [no plans] that I am aware of or that I would talk about” to increase military activity.

On Wednesday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) sent a joint letter to the Senate and House leadership requesting additional troops for the four southwestern border states under the National Guard Counterdrug Program.

Expanding the program “provides a good opportunity to minimize perceptions that anyone is militarizing the border by enabling National Guard personnel already familiar with drug trafficking to use their expertise and skills to support the direct services underway by law enforcement,” the governors wrote.

The issue is especially sensitive in Mexico, where any perceived threat of military intervention is greeted warily. Mexican officials said they have received assurances that Obama has no immediate plans to send troops to the border.

A spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, Ricardo Alday, said the Mexican government believes that other US law enforcement agencies “are a more effective tool than National Guardsmen in shutting down transnational organized crime operating on both sides of our common border.”

The Bush administration spent more than $1 billion to deploy as many as 6,000 Guard troops on the border in Operation Jump Start, which began in 2006 and ended two years later. The focus was stemming the tide of illegal immigration.

This time, the roles of Guard troops probably would be similar, administration officials said.

As before, no US troops will operate in Mexico, the officials said, and any National Guard forces assigned would not engage in domestic US law enforcement, a role that is broadly constrained under a federal law known as the Posse Comitatus Act, Obama aides said.

Guard troops would operate border detection systems, provide communications, analyze intelligence, build roads, and provide air and ground transport, freeing up law enforcement agents to perform other duties, they said.

“It would be mobility. It would be the counternarcotics surveillance work they already do, consistent with existing missions,” one official said. “They . . . would not be opening trunks and arresting people.”

The official stressed that circumstances that would trigger deployments are still to be determined, that the funding request was intended to preserve the president’s flexibility and that it should “by no means be seen as presupposing the use of Department of Defense assets.”

The US military and Guard conduct ground and air surveillance along the border, relay data to law enforcement agencies and aid long-standing counternarcotics efforts.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

On Patrol with Nigeria’s Police

April 27th, 2009 - by admin

Andrew Walker / BBC News – 2009-04-27 22:59:28


In the first of a series of articles looking at policing in Nigeria, the BBC’s Andrew Walker goes on a patrol with the newly formed, elite Specialist Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) in the eastern city of Enugu.

ENUGU (April 27, 2009) — With machine-gun at the ready, a policeman flags down a car with his torch.

“You! Out Now!” he barks.

The driver wordlessly complies, standing with hands raised before being asked, the routine is now so familiar.

The Nigerian police have a terrible reputation for corruption and brutality. But they also have problems with their technical capacity to fight crime. The main method used by this elite unit of police officers is to stop cars at random looking for guns.

“When criminals see us, their behavior changes. We’re looking for people who try and run from us,” Sars’ Commanding Officer Stephen Osaghae told the BBC.

Their aggressive manner, which includes pointing loaded automatic weapons at drivers who have done nothing to arouse suspicion, is necessary, they say. “You have to make everyone think when Sars are around, they are the owners of the job,” says Inspector Olawole Ohiolebo. On the night the BBC was out with them, Sars did not find any weapons.

Mr Osaghae admits there is probably a better way of catching armed robbers. “But we don’t have the equipment. In Europe you have helicopters and other sophisticated gadgets, we don’t.”

At one of the patrol stops, a van approaching them does a quick u-turn. It’s the moment the police have been waiting for. But it takes them too long to get into their truck and by the time they are in pursuit, the van has gone.

The radio they have doesn’t work properly and they can’t inform other police of where they are for several minutes. Only one truck has been pursuing the suspects. When they meet up with their second police car, Mr Osaghae is furious. “What kind of human being are we working with? We needed back-up!” he yells at his men.

They return to the barracks without making any arrests.

The life of a policeman in Nigeria is dangerous. A few weeks before the BBC caught up with the men from Sars, their patrol was ambushed by a gang. “The robbers we come up against have sophisticated weapons, better than ours ”
Patrolman Tiku

Someone sent them into a trap. Their pick-up truck was blown up with dynamite placed by the side of the road. Three officers were killed in the gunfight that followed. Inspector Godspower points to a line shaved into his scalp. “The bullet went here. Fsst!”

He motions over his head, tracing the path of the shot that nearly killed him. Another one went right through his arm.

The police officers say armed robbers are unredeemable evil misfits who smoke marijuana to dull their senses, kill without remorse and use black magic charms to protect themselves. Patrolmen say Enugu’s robbers are led by a notorious bandit called Ngukelomo, who has political connections which have enabled him to be released from custody in the past.

Some of the men admit to being afraid they might one day get killed.

“The robbers we come up against have sophisticated weapons, better than ours. We have no bulletproof vests. We need better equipment to protect us,” says patrolman Tiku, a 34-year-old officer who has been with the police for 10 years.

Kemi Okenyodo, of police reform group the Cleen Foundation, says the police need more than just expensive gadgets to improve their ability to work effectively. “The police capacity to investigate crime is next to zero,” she says.

Officers are not trained in policing techniques – if they do have qualifications, they are often irrelevant to police work, she says. Nowhere is the police’s lack of capacity more evident, reformers say, than in the interrogation of suspects.

Back at the Sars office the next day, two suspects are brought to Mr Osaghae’s office. One, a young man is accused of organising the rape and robbery of a woman who lives in a building he used to guard.

“You will take us to your accomplices,” orders Mr Osaghae.

“I don’t know who you are talking about,” says the man.

“Why are you lying? Take him back to the cells. In 15 minutes you will tell the truth,” says Mr Osaghae.

When asked what he meant by that, he refuses to elaborate. Before speaking to another suspect, Mr Osaghae asks for 15 minutes alone with him. When the BBC is let back in the room, the man tearfully confesses to being a kidnapper.

Mrs Okenyodo says the Cleen Foundation has pictures and witness statements that accuse Sars police of torture and killing of suspects. Enugu Commissioner of Police Mohammed Zarewa denies his men beat confessions out of people – the deaths are likely to be as a result of fire-fights with armed criminals, he says. “Any criminal can get a lawyer and make up a story,” he says.

Mr Zarewa has just been posted to Enugu, and he promises to investigate any accusation levelled against his officers. But Mrs Okenyodo says none of the cases brought up by police reform activists have been investigated. “The east of Nigeria, in terms of policing, is crazy,” she says.


Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Al-Maliki Slams US Troops over Iraq Raid

April 27th, 2009 - by admin

Ernesto Londono & Zaid Sabah / Washington Post – 2009-04-27 22:54:17


BAGHDAD (April 27, 2009) — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday denounced a predawn American raid in southern Iraq during which two Iraqis were killed, saying his government intends to prosecute US soldiers who carried out the operation.

The incident marked the first time Iraq’s government has called for the prosecution of US soldiers, setting the stage for a showdown between the two countries at a time when sectarian violence appears to be spiking.

Since the implementation this year of a bilateral security agreement, US forces have been barred from conducting unilateral operations and can no longer detain Iraqis for long periods. The agreement says American forces can be prosecuted in Iraqi courtrooms for grave, premeditated crimes committed off base and off duty – criteria that US officials have said effectively means American soldiers will never face Iraqi justice.

But the language of the agreement is vague, which could make this a test case. If that happens, it may become an irritant in US-Iraqi relations and could exacerbate hostility toward US soldiers at a time when extremists are vowing to step up attacks against US troops in Iraq.
Al-Maliki statement

In a statement issued by the Iraqi government’s Baghdad security command, which reports to the prime minister, al-Maliki called the raid “a violation of the security agreement.” He demanded the immediate release of the six men US forces took into custody after the raid and said he would ask the top US commander in Iraq to “send those who carried out this action to the judiciary.”

Efforts were quickly launched in an attempt to tone down the dispute. The six detainees were released, said Major Gen. Read Shakir Jawdat, head of the provincial police that includes Kut. At the same news conference, US Col. Richard Francey offered condolences to the family of a woman killed in the raid.

The US military earlier in the day said the raid had been “fully coordinated and approved” by the Iraqi government. A US military spokesman would not say who in the Iraqi government approved the raid or whether Iraqi security forces were present.

The raid targeted Shiite militiamen who belong to an elite unit created by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to carry out attacks against US forces, the US military said.

Hours after the raid, as protesters gathered in downtown Kut, which is 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, the Iraqi Defense Ministry announced it had detained two top Iraqi military officials in Wasit province for authorizing the American raid without obtaining approval from their commanders.

The raid began at approximately 1:30 a.m., when US convoys pulled up outside the house of Capt. Muaamer Abid Naama al-Bidyree, who is assigned to the Interior Ministry’s internal affairs office, relatives said. Bidyree was not home at the time, they said. While American soldiers were searching the house, which is split up into several apartments occupied by members of an extended family, Bidyree’s wife began screaming.

“The wife was alone in the house,” said Um Amar, 50, a relative who lives there. “She started yelling: ‘Americans, Americans!’ ”
2 people shot

Bidyree’s brother Khalid, who was armed, and one of Bidyree’s sisters-in-law, Nedal Abolabas, then headed toward Bidyree’s residence. US soldiers fired, striking Khalid in the head, and Abolabas in the chest, Um Amar said.

In a statement, the US military said soldiers opened fire on a man because “forces assessed him to be hostile.” The woman, the statement said, “moved into the line of fire and was also struck by gunfire.” The military said soldiers suspected that members of the Promise Day Brigades, the elite Sadr militia, were in the house.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2009 Hearst Communications Inc

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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