Thursday, January 29, 2015

TREWS!? Establishment Riddled With Paedophiles?


Is The Establishment Riddled With Paedophiles? 

by Russell Brand - The Trews (E244)

Reaction to the delay in Parliament's child abuse inquiry, the allegations of child abuse against former politicians and the recent allegations against Prince Andrew.
Subscribe Here Now: http://tinyurl.com/opragcg and send links to video news items of topical stories that you'd like me to analyse.


Produced directed & edited by Gareth Roy.
Trews Theme by The Rubberbandits
Thanks to Jimi Mackay: @jimimackay
and Urban Nerds: www.urbannerdscollective.com 
for our creative services.

Looking the Trojan Hearse in the Mouth: Greece Defies Euro-Masters


Trojan Hearse: Greek Elections and the Euro Leper Colony

by Greg Palast for το χωνί (Greece)

[updated January 26, 2015] 

Europe is stunned, and bankers aghast, that the new party of the Left, Syriza, won Sunday's parliamentary elections in Greece.

Syriza won on the promise that it will cure Greece of leprosy.

Oddly, Syriza also promises that it will remain in the leper colony. That is, Syriza wants to rid Greece of the cruelty of austerity imposed by the European Central Bank but insists on staying in the euro zone.

The problem is, austerity run wild is merely a symptom of an illness. The underlying disease is the euro itself.

For the last five years, Greeks have been told that, if you cure your disease—that is, if you dump the euro—the sky will fall. I guess Greeks haven’t noticed, the sky has fallen already. With unemployment at 25%, with doctors and teachers eating out of garbage cans, there is no further to fall.

In 2010, when unemployment was a terrible 10%, a year into the crisis, the “Troika” (the European Central Bank, European Commission and the International Monetary Fund) told the Greeks that brutal austerity measures would restore their economy by 2012.

Ask yourself, Was the Troika right?

There is a saying in America: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Can Greece survive without the euro? Greece is already dead, but the Germans won’t even bother to bury the corpse. Greeks are told that if they leave the euro and renounce its debts, the nation will not be able to access world capital markets. The reality is, Greece can’t access world markets now: no one lends to a corpse.

There’s a way back across the River Styx. But it’s not by paddling on a euro.

There’s Life after Euro


Many nations do quite well without the euro. Sweden, Denmark and India do just fine without the euro—and so does Turkey, which had the luck to be excluded from the euro-zone. As long as Turks stick to the lira, even Turkey’s brain-damaged Islamo-fascist President Tayyip Erdoğan cannot destroy their economy.

Can Greece just dump the euro? They have happy precedents to follow. Argentina was once pegged to the US dollar much as Greece is tied to the euro today. In 2000, Argentines, hungry and angry, revolted. Argentina ultimately overthrew the dollar dictatorship, the IMF diktats and the threats of creditors, and defaulted on its dollar bonds. Free at last! In the decade since, the Argentine economy soared. Yes, today, Argentina is under attack by financial vultures, but that is only because the nation became so temptingly wealthy.

I was in Brazil when its President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told the IMF to go to hell—and rejected privatization of the state banks and the state oil company, rejected cutting pensions and thumbed his nose at the rest of the austerity nonsense. Instead, Lula created the bolsa familia, a massive pay-out to the nation’s poor. The result: Brazil not only survived but thrived during the 2008-10 world financial crisis. Despite pressure, Brazil never ceded control of its currency. (It is a sad irony that Brazil is only now faltering. That’s the fault entirely of Lula’s successor, President Dilma Rousseff, who is beginning to dance the austerity samba.)

Austerity: Religion, Not Economics


The euro is simply the deutschmark with little stars on it. Greece cannot adopt Germany’s currency without adopting Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, as its own.

And Schäuble has determined that Greece must be punished. As my homey Paul Krugman points out, there is no credible economic theory that says that austerity—that is, cutting government spending, cutting wages, cutting consumer demand—can in any way help a nation in recession, in deflation. That’s why, in 2009, Obama ordered up stimulus, not a sleeping pill.

But austerity has nothing to do with economics. It is religion: the belief by the stern Lutheran Germans that Greeks have had too much fun, spent too much money, and spent too much lazy time in the sun—and now Greeks must pay a price for their sins.

Oddly, I hear this self-flagellating nonsense from Greeks themselves: we are lazy. We deserve our punishment. Nonsense. The average Greek works more hours in a year than any other worker in the 34 nations of the OECD; Germans the least.

The Euro’s Father Describes his Little Bastard


Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, would like to pretend that austerity and the euro are two different things, that you can marry the pretty girl but not invite her ugly sister to the wedding. Apparently, the Syriza chief is blissfully ignorant of the history of the euro. The horror of austerity is not the consequence of Greek profligacy: it was designed into the euro’s plan from the beginning.

This was explained to me by the father of the euro himself, economist Robert Mundell of Columbia University. (I studied economics with Mundell’s buddy, Milton Friedman.) Mundell not only invented the euro, he also fathered the misery-making policies of Thatcher and Reagan, known as “supply-side economics” – or, as George Bush Sr. called it, “voodoo economics.” Supply-side voodoo is the long-discredited belief that if a nation demolishes the power of unions, cuts business taxes, eliminates government regulation and public ownership of utilities, economic prosperity will follow.

The euro is simply the other side of the supply-side coin. As Mundell explained it, the euro is the way in which congresses and parliaments can be stripped of all power over monetary and fiscal policy. Bothersome democracy is removed from the economic system. “Without fiscal policy,” Mundell told me, “the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business.”

Greece, to survive in a euro economy, can only revive employment by reducing wages. Indeed, the recent tiny reduction in unemployment is the sign that Greeks are slowly accepting a permanent future of low wages serving piña coladas to Germans on holiday cruises.

It is argued that Greece owes Germany, the IMF and the European Central Bank for bail-out-billions. Nonsense. None of the billions in bail-out funds went into Greek pockets. It all went to bail out Deutsche Bank and other foreign creditors. The EU treasuries swallowed 90% of its private bankers’ bonds. Germany bailed out Germany, not Greece.

Nevertheless, Greece must pay Germany back, Mr. Tsipras, if you want to continue to use Germany’s currency, that is.

Greece: Goldman Sacked


Greece’s ruin began with secret, fraudulent currency swaps, designed a decade ago by Goldman Sachs, to conceal Greek deficits that exceeded the euro zone’s 3%-of-GDP limit. In 2009, when the truth came out, Greek debt holders realized they had been cheated. These debt buyers then demanded usurious levels of interest (or, if you prefer, a high “spread”) to insure themselves against future fraud. The compounding of this interest premium brought the Greek nation to its knees. In other words, the crimes committed to join and stay in the euro, not Greek profligacy, caused the crisis.

The USA, Brazil and China escaped from depression by increasing their money supply and government spending and taking control of currency exchange rates—crucial tools Greece gave up in return for the euro.

Worse, once the Trojan hearse of the euro entered Athens, tourism, Greece’s main industry, drained to Turkey where hotels and souvenirs are priced in cheap lira. This allowed Dr. Mundell’s remorseless wage-lowering machine, the euro, to do its work, to force Greece to strip all its workers of pensions and power.

Greece fell to its knees, with no choice but to beg Germany for mercy.

But there is no mercy. As Germany’s Schäuble insists, democracy, this week’s vote, means nothing. "New elections change nothing in the accords struck with the Greek government,” he says. “[Greeks] have no alternative.”

Ah, but they do, Mr. Schäuble. They can tell you to take your euro and shove it up your Merkel.

* * * * * *

Investigative reporter Greg Palast's book, Vultures' Picnic, with the no-BS inside story of the financial collapse, will soon be released in a Greek edition by Livanis.

Support the Palast Investigative fund with a tax-deductible donation and get a signed copy Vultures' Picnic or or simply make a tax-deductible contribution to keep our work alive!

Greg Palast is also the author of several New York Timesbestsellers includingThe Best Democracy Money Can Buy andBillionaires & Ballot Bandits.

Palast is a Puffin Foundation Fellow for Investigative Reporting.

Subscribe to Palast's Newsletter and podcasts.
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www.GregPalast.com

Demand Forecasting Spells Reversal in Oil Prices

Increasing Demand For Refined Products Will Increase Oil Prices

by Dan Steffens - Oilprice.com

In last week's article I posted a chart from the International Energy Agency'srecent Oil Market Report that shows global demand for refined products catching up to supply by the 3rd quarter of this year. My opinion is that all of the analysts who are now blaming the sharp drop in oil prices on a "glut" of supply could change their tune quickly as consumers adjust to lower fuel costs.

Just as higher costs reduce demand for any commodity, lower costs will increase demand. This is especially true for a commodity that has a direct impact on standard of living, like oil does.

When the price of gasoline plunged below $1.00/gallon in 1986, demand for motor fuels and other refined products increased by almost 5% within twelve months. Today, world demand for hydrocarbon based liquid fuels (including biofuels) is over 92.5 million barrels per day. You can go to the IEA website and see for yourself that normal seasonal demand is expected to push demand over 94.0 million barrels per day within six months. I think both the IEA and our own Energy Information Administration (EIA) are grossly underestimating the price related demand increase that is already starting to show up in the data.

Last week's EIA report confirms that demand is already surging in the United States. Granted, part of the year-over-year increase in gasoline consumption may be a result of the harsh winter weather we had last year, but I think this story is going to play out. If gasoline prices remain low until this summer, we should see a sharp increase in the number of Americans that decide to take long driving vacations this year. We do love our SUVs.




Today's low crude oil price is blamed on Saudi Arabia's decision not to reduce supply even though the world is oversupplied by an estimated 1.5 million barrels per day. If gasoline under $2.00/gallon increases global demand for motor fuels by half of the amount it did back in 1986 (2.5%), demand for oil will increase by 2.4 million barrels per day and today's "glut" will soon fade from memory.

Gasoline prices in Texas are now under $1.75/gallon at many discount stations.

It is going to take a while to work off the build-up in both crude oil and gasoline inventories, but if the IEA and EIA start reporting that demand is catching up with supply the NYMEX strip price for crude oil will adjust quickly. The December, 2015 futures contract for WTI crude oil closed at $53.12/bbl on Friday, January 23 ($7.83/bbl above the front month contract). By the way, this has a lot to do with why crude oil inventories are building.





Keep in mind that oil production is also going to drop in response to lower prices. The U.S. active drilling rig count dropped by another 43 for the week ending January 23, 2015 to 1,633. Based on the upstream companies' capital budgets that I'm seeing, I expect the active rig count to drop below 1,000 by the end of May. We will soon have less than 700 rigs drilling for oil in this country and that means U.S. oil production will be on decline by the 4th quarter. In the last three years, only the U.S., Canada and Brazil have increased production. The rest of the world's oil production has been in decline despite previous $100/bbl oil prices.

Even before the sharp decline in oil prices, global demand for oil was growing at a rate of 1 million barrels per day per year. In my opinion, within six months the rate of demand growth will accelerate to over 2 million barrels per day. Demand could go even higher if consumers adjust their driving habits like they did back in 1986.

The upstream oil & gas producers will soon be reporting 4th quarter results, including updated reserve reports. Now is the time to add the best oil producers and MLPs to play the coming rebound in oil prices.


 For more on this topic see: http://www.prienga.com/blog/2015/1/20/supply-minus-demand-explained

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Syria's Diaspora in the Making: A Letter From One Refugee to Another

Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another

by Ramzy Baroud - Middle East Eye

Whenever the word ‘refugee’ is uttered, I think of my mother. When Zionist militias began their systematic onslaught and ‘cleansing’ of the Palestinian Arab population of historic Palestine in 1948, she, along with her family, ran away from the once peaceful village of Beit Daras.

Back then, Zarefah was six. Her father died in a refugee camp in a tent provided by the Quakers soon after he had been separated from his land. She collected scrap metal to survive.

My grandmother Mariam, would venture out to the ‘death zone’ that bordered the separated and newly established state of Israel from Gaza’s refugee camps to collect figs and oranges. She faced death every day. Her children were all refugees, living in shatat – the Diaspora.

My mother lived to be 42. Her life was tremendously difficult. She married a refugee, my dad, and together they brought seven refugees into this world - my brothers, my sister and myself. One died as a toddler, for there was no medicine in the refugee camp’s clinic.

No matter where we are, in time and place, we carry our refugee ID cards, our undefinable nationalities, our precious status, our parents’ burden, our ancestors’ pain.

In fact, we have a name for it. It is called waja’ - ‘aching’ - a character that unifies millions of Palestinian refugees all across the globe. With our refugee population now dominated by second, third or even fourth generation refugees, it seems that our waja’ is what we hold in common most. Our geographies may differ, our languages, our political allegiances, our cultures, but ultimately, we meet around the painful experiences that we have internalized throughout generations.

My mother used to say – ihna yalfalastinieen damitna qaribeh – tears for us Palestinians are always close by. But our readiness to shed tears is not a sign of weakness, far from it. It is because throughout the years we managed to internalize our own exile, and its many ramifications, along with the exiles of everyone else’s. The emotional burden is just too great.

We mask the unbearable aching somehow, but it is always close to the surface. If we hear a single melody by Marcel Khalifeh or Sheikh Imam, or a few verses by Mahmoud Darwish, the wound is as fresh as ever.

Most of us no longer live in tents, but we are reminded of our refugee status every single day, by the Israeli occupation, by the Gaza siege and the internally-displaced Palestinians in Israel, by the Iraq war and the displacement of the already displaced Palestinians there, by the despicable living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and throughout the Middle East.

But for us, Syria has been our greatest waja’ in years. Aside from the fact that most of Syria’s half a million Palestinian refugees are on the run again, living the pain of displacement and loss for the second, third, or even fourth time. Nine million Syrian refugees are now duplicating the Palestinian tragedy, charting the early course of the Palestinian Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948.

Watching the destitution of the Syrian refugees is like rewinding the past, in all of its awful details. And watching Arab states clamor to aid the refugees with ample words and little action feels as if we are living Arab betrayal all over again.

I watched my grandparents die, followed by my parents and many of my peers. All of them died refugees, carrying the same status and the same lost hope of return. The most they ever received from the ‘international community’ was a few sacks of rice and cheap cooking oil. And of course, numerous tents.

With time our refugee status morphed from being a ‘problem’ to an integral part of our identities. Being a ‘refugee’ at this stage means insisting on the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees as enshrined in international law. That status is no longer just a mere reference to physical displacement but also to a political, even a national identity.

Political division may, at times, dominate Palestinian society, but we will always be united by the fact that we are refugees with a common cause: going home. While for the Palestinians of Yarmouk near Damascus, being a refugee is a matter of life and death – often by starvation – for the larger Palestinian collective, the meaning of the word has become more involved: it has been etched onto our skin forever.

But what can one say by way of advice to the relatively new refugees of Syria, considering that we are yet to liberate ourselves from a status that we never sought?

There can be only reminders and a few warnings:


  • First, may your displacement end soon. May you never live the waja’ of displacement to the extent that you embrace it as a part of your identity, and pass it on from one generation to another. May it be a kind of fleeting pain or passing nightmare, but never a pervasive everyday reality.
  • Second, you must be prepared for the worst. My grandparents left their new blankets in their village before they fled to the refugee camps because they feared they would have been ruined by the dust of the journey. Alas, the camps became home, and the blankets were confiscated as the rest of Palestine was. Please remain hopeful, but realistic.
  • Third, don’t believe the ‘international community’ when they make promises. They never deliver, and when they do, it is always for ulterior motives that might bring you more harm than good. In fact, the term itself is illusory, mostly used in reference to western countries which have wronged you as they have us.
  • Fourth, don’t trust Arab regimes. They lie. They feel not your pain. They hear not your pleas, nor do they care. They have invested so much in destroying your countries, and so little in redeeming their sins. They speak of aid that rarely arrives and political initiatives that constitute mostly press releases. But they will take every opportunity to remind you of their virtues. In fact, your victimhood becomes a platform for their greatness. They thrive at your expense, thus will invest to further your misery.
  • Fifth, preserve your dignity. I know, it is never easy to maintain your pride when you sleep in a barren street covered in cardboard boxes. A mother would do whatever she can to help her children pass into safety. No matter, you must never allow the wolves awaiting you at every border to exploit your desperation. You must never allow the Emir, or his children or some rich businessman or sympathetic celebrity to use you as a photo-op. Do not ever kneel. Don’t ever kiss a hand. Don’t give anyone the satisfaction to exploit your pain.
  • Sixth, remain united. There is strength in unity when one is a refugee. Don’t allow political squabbles to distract you from the greater battle at hand: surviving until the day you return home, and you will.
  • Seventh, love Syria. Yours is an unparalleled civilization. Your history is rife with triumphs that were ultimately of your own making. Even if you must leave to distant lands, keep Syria in your hearts. This too shall pass, and Syria shall redeem its glory, once the brutes vanquish. Only the spirit of the people shall survive. It is not wishful thinking. It is history.

Dear Syrian refugee, it has been 66 years and counting since my people’s dispossession began. We are yet to return, but that is a battle for my children, and their children to fight. I hope yours ends soon. Until then, please remember the tent is just a tent, and the gusts of cold wind are but of a passing storm.

And until you return home to Syria, don’t let the refugee become who you are, as you are so much more.

Ramzy Baroud – www.ramzybaroud.net - is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

White House Down: The Drones Come Home (sort of)

Word Association: White House Threatened By Drones

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

WASHINGTON The White House faces a serious threat from drones, administration officials said today, after a recent incident in which a small, private drone crashed on the lawn near the president’s home. This episode, though minor, has alerted the White House to a wider problem, the official said.

“The drone campaign conducted by President Obama in countries all over world threatens to make the term ‘White House’ synonymous with murder, destruction, violence, terror and cowardly sneak attacks that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives,” said the official.

“Even now, there are many people who, when they hear the words ‘White House,’ immediately think of wedding parties blown to bits, of sleeping children eviscerated by flying shards of burning metal, of farmers in their fields atomized by missiles fired by comfortable suburban soldiers sitting in a wadded armchair ten thousand miles away, wolfing down Doritos while they push a button to kill someone. And hey, we don’t want people thinking that.”

The official said this risk from drones is compounded by the fact that President of the United States actually sits in his office in the White House and goes through checklists of people who are to be murdered that week by imperial fiat, with no charges, no judicial process, no defense, “not shriving time allowed,” he added, apparently making some kind of literary reference.

This association was particularly unfair, the official said. “Some of the people on White House death lists aren’t even murdered by drones! Guns, knives, garrottes, poison, defenestration, old-fashioned, non-robotic bombs and missiles — the White House murders people in many different ways all over the world, week after week. I think we should get more credit for this variety, and not have it all reduced to ‘drone attacks.’ Not only does that put the White House at risk of being identified solely as the center for a particularly hideous technology-driven evil of our times, it also does a disservice to the skills and inventiveness of our death squads.”

The official said the White House is taking urgent steps to protect itself from its association with the murderous state terror of the drone campaign. “We’re going to be stepping up the number of happy, peppy events we have at the White House,” he said, “and making sure they all have a very prominent ‘White House’ label. In the next few weeks, we’ll be having the White House Sweet Ole Granny Quilting Bee, featuring photogenic grannies from all over the country, and the White House ‘Smores and More Weekend, where the President and Mrs. President will gather with kindergarten kids from across this great land of ours to make some simple, tasty picnic treats.

“That will be followed by the White House Gala of Goodness at the White House, a celebration of all that is good and wholesome and right about America. The real coup of that one is that Clint Eastwood is going to be the guest host, and we have a really funny skit with Clint and the President and a chair, in the White House. The week after that we’ll have the White House Shout-Out to Brooklyn and Portland, where the nation’s hipster elite will gather at the White House to trade self-deprecating drollery with the Hipster-in-Chief. I’m not supposed to say anything about Lena Dunham being there, so you didn’t hear it from me!”

The official said the White House was confident these measures will help defend the White House from being attacked by drone associations. “I think we’re pushing at an open door,” the official said. “Look at the boffo box office for American Sniper. The American people want — and the American people deserve — to feel good about the murders being done in their name. A few marshmallow roasts, a few poetry readings or ceremonies with national champions of something or other, and the words ‘White House’ will go back to what they’ve always been: a synonym for good, clean fun.”

Counting the Costs and Opportunities of the Oil Price "Collapse"

Oil Price Collapse Hurting Some More Than Others

by Nick Cunningham - Oilprice.com

U.S. oil and gas rig counts dropped to their lowest level in over four years, falling by an additional 74 units for the week ending on January 16. The lower count provides fresh evidence that low oil prices are forcing drillers to pare back operations and slash spending.

While that may soon begin to cut into actual production figures, a new Wood Mackenzie report finds a lot of nuance in the oil patch, painting a complex picture of what to expect in 2015. The report identifies several trends beyond the simple narrative that low prices will force a cutback in drilling.

First, Wood Mackenzie estimates that at $40 per barrel, many producing Wells could be shut in. In fact, about 1.5 million barrels per day of production would be "cash negative" meaning it wouldn't even make sense to continue pumping at the most marginal wells, which tend to have extremely low-output. These "stripper wells," which only produce 15 barrels of oil per day or less, have high costs given their level of production.

Wells producing such a tiny flow of oil may seem like a nonissue, but with hundreds of thousands of them dotting the country, they collectively account for about one-tenth of the nation's production. As these wells become unprofitable, production should start declining.

Elsewhere, larger projects face a complicating set of factors that could slow drilling, but not as fast as some think. That's because slowing activity is also pushing down the rental rates that drillers pay for rigs. With weak demand, drillers can negotiate down rig prices. This leads to lower costs, helping drillers stay in the game.

Another interesting twist occurring from lower oil prices is the fact that the economics of natural gas production have been relatively enhanced. To be sure, natural gas prices are also low, but over the last several years, the revenues generated from a barrel of oil were so much greater than the equivalent form of energy in natural gas. That pushed companies to focus on wet gas and oil.

For the equivalent amount of energy, natural gas priced at $3 per MMBtu is equal to about $17 to $20 per barrel of oil. That is still significantly lower than the $50 oil is trading for now, but the disparity is not nearly as severe as when oil was trading for $100.

With that said, the fact is that oil and gas are often produced in tandem, so a drilling cutback could hurt the gas patch as well. Nevertheless, the composition of drilling could change in favor of more gas-rich areas relative to before.

Another intriguing trend forecasted by Wood Mackenzie is the resilience of offshore oil in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Offshore wells are much more expensive, but have much longer production lives. They also have long lead times, making cutbacks less feasible in the short run. And unlike shale wells, production is steady and can last decades, so the current period of low oil prices won't worry corporate executives who take a long-term view. As a result, while rigs start vanishing from shale regions, they should remain steady in the Gulf.

Still, it is not as if American shale will suddenly go into decline. Oil production across the U.S. continues to rise. In the first full week of January, oil production ticked up by an additional 60,000 barrels per day to 9.19 million barrels per day, according to the latest EIA data. Wood Mackenzie predicts that the industry will continue to consolidate and focus on the most profitable areas while finishing up projects still in the pipeline. That means the Eagle Ford in South Texas first and foremost, which remains one of the lowest cost shale basins in the country.

The thousands of oil wells across the United States are not uniform. The collapse in oil prices is hurting pretty much everyone, but some areas - core shale regions, and the Gulf of Mexico - will weather the storm better than others.

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Dahr Jamail, Robert Wintner, Janine Bandcroft Jan. 28, 2015

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com

Victorians may wonder what the distant rumbling sound heard day and night is. That mechanized thunder is none other than the US Navy's EA-18G Growler warplane; and if you think it sounds menacingly loud now, it may be coming nearer soon to just about everywhere you are.

Dahr Jamail is an Olympic peninsula-based freelance journalist and author, whose book titles include: 'The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,' 'Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Iraq,' and the contributed chapter, "Killing the Intellectual Class" for the anthology, 'Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered.' Jamail is also a Truthout staff reporter, and his latest book, 'The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible' is co-written with Truthout founding editor, William Rivers Pitt.

Listen. Hear.

Among Dahr’s many journalism awards are: the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and four Project Censored awards. His work has appeared at Truthout, Inter Press Service, Tom Dispatch, The Sunday Herald in Scotland, The Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, The Huffington Post, The Nation, The Independent, Al Jazeera, and at his own website, DahrJamail.net.

Dahr Jamail in the first half.

And; Robert Wintner is an environmental defender, author, and the wildly successful entrepreneur behind Hawaii's Snorkel Bob's reef outfitter company. He is also the engine behind the Snorkel Bob foundation, whose many charitable projects help to bring the appreciation of the oceans and all its inhabitants to humans who would otherwise remain ignorant of the workings of the Planet's single-most essential biosphere.

Some of Robert Wintner's book titles include: 'In a Sweet Magnolia Time', 'Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing', 'The Modern Outlaws', and his latest, '1969 and Then Some.' Snorkel Bob is also the author of several reef photography books. Just out is 'Reef Libre: An In-Depth Look at Cuban Exceptionalism & the last, Best Reefs in the World' and its companion DVD, Reef Libre, the Movie.

Getting down, way down, with Snorkel Bob in second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of what's good to do in and around our town and beyond. But first, Dahr Jamail and a distant rumble growing nearer. 

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca. And now heard at Simon Fraser University's http://www.cjsf.ca . He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/
G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Who Loves the Sniper's Tale - and why?

Why Do US Critics Love American Sniper?

by Jonathan Cook

I watched American Sniper the other night and it really is the most puerile propaganda imaginable. It is not even as though it is simply unfair to the “enemy” – that is, mostly ordinary Iraqis, who are shown to be ruthless and heartless killers filled with irrational hatred for the American soldiers sent to liberate them from … well, in this re-write of history it is seemingly from al-Qaeda. It is equally unfair to the US soldiers there, presenting them either as good guys being heroes or as good guys being traumatised by their exposure to the natives’ savagery.

And, of course, it also massively distorts the truth about Chris Kyle – a man who at best was so blinkered by his own childish jingoism that, by his own account, he never entertained a doubt about killing “Arabs”, even women and children, and at worst was a psychopath whom the US army gave a licence to go on a killing spree.

But even if one ignores the movie’s politics and its absolute failure to grasp documented facts about the invasion of Iraq and instead assesses it purely on its technical aspects, it’s a pedestrian affair at most. The romantic scenes, for example, are cliched and poorly written.

In other words, the only reason audiences could be raving about American Sniper, ensuring it becomes one of the biggest-grossing films in history, is that it closely aligns with the mood of self-pity that currently dominates in the US: the sense that those dark-skinned foreigners we tried to liberate were not only evil but, worse, ungrateful too.

Matt Tabibi has a good piece in Rolling Stone that sums up my feelings about the film. But one thing he doesn’t address is this: why, if it’s so clearly a mediocre film that soft-soaps the central character, ignores or deceives its audience on the context that brought soldiers like Kyle to Iraq, and has a plot that ought to embarrass a Walt Disney production, do 83% of “top critics” on a review aggregator site like Rotten Tomatoes give it the thumbs up?

In practice, “top critics” means the 50 or so film reviewers who work for the most prestigious US media outlets. So almost all of the US media’s supposedly finest critical minds are in agreement in lavishing praise on this dud. It is apparently “breath-taking”, “gripping” and “emotionally complex”. Or it is if the only complexity that interests you is whether Kyle gets to save another US soldier from the dark-skinned bad guys before he succumbs to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Reading the US reviews of American Sniper is a good way to remind ourselves not only of the critical role Hollywood plays in popularising lies about the West’s recent history and in sanitising our crimes, but also of the vital role the mainstream media play in giving these simplistic and duplicitous fables an aura of ethical complexity and intellectual respectability.

Jonathan Cook is a Nazareth- based journalist and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism - http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

Monday, January 26, 2015

Joining the Empire of Chaos: Canada Completes Quisling Transformation

Canada leaps into the empire of chaos

by Jim Miles - The Miles Report - Axis of Logic

To Members of Parliament, Canada:

Canada has always been a part of U.S. imperial ambitions, in spite of our pretensions otherwise. Locked in as we are to the U.S. economy and our dollar only relevant in comparison to the US$. Until the Harper regime, Canada was able to maintain that pretense. Our NATO political alignment, the NAFTA trade agreement, the North American Aerospace Defence Command - formerly NORAD - are a few big ticket acronyms that have kept us united and generally subordinated.

After achieving majority power in the last election, the Harper neoConservatives have been open advocates for causes that support U.S. imperial interests. That is not surprising when the history and roots of the Reform Party/Alliance Party/born-again-Conservative Party is examined. The strong attachments that the neoCons have to the U.S. Republican party has been well covered recently (see Party of One, Michael Harris, Viking, 2014; The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, Yves Engler, Fernwood Publishing, 2009; among many others). The neoCons share the Republican fundamentalist, right-wing, ‘might is right’, less government, corporate power agenda - and the electoral methodologies used to gain and stay in power.

Now that the U.S. has increased the ‘arc of instability’ and made it into its ‘empire of chaos’, Canada is either front running the hubris leading this, or is a perfectly willing assistant to creating chaos. A series of recent events highlights this in the financial world as well as in the military geopolitical world.

King Abdullah, “proponent for peace”


Yes, our great ally Saudi Arabia, has lost its monarch. So sad. The Saudis and our relationship to them are the height of hypocrisy and double standards.

This is the country that supported Bahrain in violently crushing the peaceful demonstrations by the majority Shia against their absolutist monarchy. Saudi Arabia is a country that is itself a monarchy, a fundamentalist autocratic tribal fiefdom writ large on the Arabian peninsula, supported by the reactionary fundamentalist Sunni Wahabi sect.

Rule of law is Sunni sharia law with no written “rule of law”, which is something the Canadian neoCons always tout as being one of the requirements of a country with whom they have good relationships. Misogyny, torture, beheadings, stonings, whippings, amputations, and death (well, obviously for beheading) are traits of their “legal” system. “Freedom” and “democracy” have little application in Saudi Arabia.

The events of 9/11 have the Saudi name written all over them, yet nothing was done concerning those incriminating liaisons. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban - associated further back with U.S. efforts to militarize the mujaheddin freedom fighters in Afghanistan against Soviet forces - are products of U.S. geopolitical interests. The oil interests of the U.S. have protected the House of Saud in the arc of instability and allowed the free flow of dollars between the oil country and the military corporations and investment houses of the U.S. (see House of Bush - House of Saud, Craig Unger, Scribner, 2004)

Two other events are occurring that add more hypocrisy and double standards to the mix, both tied in with the empire of chaos. The first is a feature of war; the second is a feature of financial predation, another part of war in itself.

ISIS


Harper’s hatred of Islam is obvious, his concerns for its peaceful members superficial. His coinage of the pejorative term “Islamicism” to denigrate all that is Islam clearly reveals his attitude.

Yet the current transformation of violent reactions to the continued imposed violence on the arc of instability - the region of the Middle East including Iraq, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon - has morphed into the more general empire of chaos with the violence spreading through to northern Africa, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa - well, to be honest, just about all of Africa. It has spread the chaos through the former Yugoslavia, created the encroachment of NATO into eastern Europe against the promises of President Clinton (yeah, like anybody should believe a U.S. promise), and now is doing its best to destabilize the Ukraine with its neoNazi coup-installed government; and then on into destabilizing Russia as per the Brzezinski “grand chessboard”.

But it is the current iteration of Islamic reaction to this ongoing petrodollar colonialism that has attracted most of Harper’s current concern. ISIS is seemingly an amalgam of reactionary Syrians, unforgiving Iraqi sunnis, and many other people wanting to combat the empire. Yet for the nature of ISIS there are questions about its origins. It is an organization that apparently draws support from Saudi Arabia, and has been supplied with U.S. weapons, either through Saudi Arabia or indirectly through covert and profiteering actions.

All was well with ISIS until they came too close to Irbil, the main Kurdish city with many international energy corporations seeking profits there. Then the U.S. decided it had to do something. Harper of course, realizing the ability to use this arena to foster his own anti-Islamic interests and create more domestic fear of the ‘other’ domestically, climbed aboard the USS Chaos. Fortunately for Harper, two lone wolf attacks, carried out in the name of ISIS, helped reinforce that fear of the ‘other’, without any discourse or awareness as to how and why ISIS came into existence. It really doesn’t matter, because as Harper said, “We’ll just kill them.”

And boots on the ground?

Well certainly. Anytime a country sends in its special ops forces, there will obviously be boots on the ground, well trained boots, boots able and willing to enter conflict, to kill or be killed. A combat mission? If it looks like combat, acts like combat, then it's combat.

Canada’s petrodollar and financial chaos


Harper boasted early on about Canada becoming a super-star energy state. Well, how is that working out for you?

Oil is a commodity; it is also a geopolitical weapon. Canada’s financial situation has become dependent on its oil revenues to provide the neoCon government the ability to cut taxes (and social services) and proclaim its achievement of a balanced budget (in spite of an increase in the overall debt to 1.8 trillion dollars!).

What is happening internationally with oil prices is arguable. It cannot be supply and demand, otherwise someone would cut supply to increase the dollar demand - it is not a free market situation.

It could be a Saudi-U.S. alliance to attempt to destabilize Russia. If so, it is not working out so well, as domestic Russian prices remain stable, except for some imports which can easily be covered with Russia’s large foreign reserves.

It could simply be Saudi intransigence. Perhaps they are demonstrating that they are still too important to be done away with - or perhaps signalling that maybe they can simply sell most of their oil to energy hungry China without western interference.

Whatever the cause, the consequences are widespread. Canadian pundits proclaim the benefits of the extra oil dollars in the consumers' pocket. Yet the average Canadian consumer is already over 160 per cent of annual income in debt. What little is to be gained from those extra pennies will be lost as the dollar loses value compared to other currencies - the US$ in particular - and the rising cost of imports which for Canada, especially in winter, includes most everything.

Then there is the added feature of the decrease in drilling, the loss of direct oil employment, and the loss of related support workers in many diverse fields servicing the oil sector. First to go will be the expensive sectors - fracking first, and tar sands second. Another added feature is that much of the financing for some of the riskier, more difficult projects depends on borrowed money - which, if the dollar and oil continue to slide in value, could have even more serious repercussions on the whole financial sector as bills default and loans go unpaid.

So what are the Harper neoCons doing about it? Nothing - oh, we’re waiting until April, and we are going to decrease the prime bank rate as well. The latter will allow more speculative spending, most of which will go to the stock market, giving it an artificial boost without productivity gains similar to that of the U.S. quantitative easing boost, another hazard on the path to financial decay.

Well done, Minister of Finance! Well done PM Harper (who, if you didn’t know, has a Masters degree in economics from U. of Calgary, Canada’s right-wing republican think tank university). But then, economists are not held in much esteem by some (yours truly included):

“Lacking empirical testing and measurement, economics narrows into a mock science of abstract assumptions without much regard as to whether its axioms are historically grounded….To the extent that the discipline uses mathematics, the spirit is closer to numerology than to natural sciences. Indeed, astrology also is highly technical and mathematical, and like economics it deals with forecasting.”

“Political economy, therefore, reasons from assumed premises - from premises which might be totally without foundations in fact.” [J.S. Mills]

“...one need not be committed unduly as to the relation between reality and these assumptions.” [Nobel prize winner Paul Samuelson]

From Michael Hudson
“The Bubble and Beyond”, 2013.

Electioneering - 2015


These broad three items - the economy, oil, ISIS - with the addition of the upcoming Senator Mike Duffy trial, narrow down to a focus towards the end of April.

The neoCons have already delayed the budget and then hinted there might be an emphasis on the manufacturing sector. Does that mean that NAFTA will be reopened, and that the trade agreements pending between Europe and China will be put on hold in order to protect our ‘other’ industries? There is also room to approach the failed U.S. monetary policy of ZIRP which, along with massive QE, has boosted the stock market without doing anything for productivity or the working person. The Canadian dollar is dropping, and unlike some other currencies, there is no gold to support it, as is evident with the current efforts by several European countries to repatriate their gold. Petro dollar - reliant only on oil.

Then there is oil. The big question concerns how low and for how long will the price continue to drop. In the meantime, the government’s only response so far has been to accept the Bank of Canada’s overnight lending rate change. Canada’s dollar is a petrodollar, and like many other dollars, petro or not, it is declining compared to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar is rising not because of intrinsic strength in the U.S. economy, but because the U.S. has one advantage that other currencies don’t - it is the world’s reserve currency, and as such can print as many dollars as they want and still maintain their top position, regardless of whether the economy, except for the top .1 percent, has improved - which in spite of Obama’s state of the union address, it has not.

Next is ISIS. This serves more as the ‘fear factor’, the ability to direct the anger of the population at something other than the ineptitude of the politicians/economists and an economy hanging on the brink of deeper and longer recession. The front page argument will be all about extending Canada’s mission in Iraq and on into Syria. Sure it will go before parliament, but with a dictatorial majority, the neoCons will assuredly continue their war-mongering in support of the empire of chaos.

Finally, the Mike Duffy trial is scheduled to begin April 7 and the court has set aside 41 days for the hearings. Who knows what wonderful stories and denouements will rise from this continuing affair.

All four of these items focus on one thing - Harper's ability to be re-elected in the fall. I would be sort of surprised if the election were to be changed to the spring, as these four items would then become great political cannon fodder for attacks on the neoCon position.

Certainly the neoCons will be obtaining information from their Republican advisors as to how to proceed with all this, and will be obtaining indirect financing from the Koch brothers to swamp the public in disinformation, innuendo, and lies.

Within the empire of chaos, there is some looming chaos in the Canadian sector. The neoCons, and the rest of Canada, are waiting until April to see what overall effect this chaos will have.

Planned Electromagnetic Warfare Training Over Olympic Peninsula Proven Harmful to Humans and Animals

Documents Show Navy's Electromagnetic Warfare Training Would Harm Humans and Wildlife

by Dahr Jamail - Truthout

If the US Navy gets its way, it will begin flying Growler supersonic warplanes over Olympic National Forest and wilderness areas of the Western Olympic Peninsula next September in order to conduct electromagnetic warfare training exercises.

A shooter signals an EA-18G Growler aboard USS Carl Vinson. (Photo: Matt Buck

As Truthout previously reported, this would entail flying 36 jets down to 1,200 feet above ground in some areas, in 2,900 training exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day, 260 days per year, with the war-gaming going on indefinitely into the future. The Navy's plans also include having 15 mobile units on the ground with towers emitting electromagnetic radiation signals for the planes to locate as part of their exercises.

Navy personnel have been met with outrage, anger and a growing concern from the public about the negative health impacts to humans and wildlife in the areas where their war games are planned.

The Navy appeared to attempt to slide their plans by the public by choosing not to advertise public comment periods and meetings in the local media of the areas where their war games would be taking place. However, word got out and the Navy has had to extend public comment periods and hold more public meetings.

Navy personnel have been met with outrage, anger and a growing concern from the public about the negative health impacts to humans and wildlife in the areas where their war games are planned.

The Navy's response has been to point people toward their own so-called environmental assessment (EA), and claim that "no significant impacts" will occur to wildlife or humans from their electromagnetic war games.

However, Truthout has acquired several documents from the Navy, Air Force and even NASA that directly contradict the Navy's claims that their exercises pose no threat to wildlife and humans, and spoke with an expert on the human impact of electromagnetic radiation fields who also refutes the Navy's claims.

Dr. Martin Pall, a professor emeritus of biochemistry and medical sciences with Washington State University, has written several peer-reviewed papers on the subject of how electromagnetic radiation of various levels impacts human beings, as well as given international lectures on the subject.

The health impacts of even the Navy's lowest levels of electromagnetic radiation emissions are shocking.

Pall told Truthout that these claims by the Navy are "untrue," and provided reams of evidence, including his own scientific reports, that document, in detail, the extremely dangerous impacts of even very low levels of the microwave and electromagnetic radiation that the Navy would be emitting during their war games.

Pall's paper, titled "Electromagnetic fields act via activation of voltage-gated calcium channels to produce beneficial or adverse effects," outlines the impact of electromagnetic radiation on biological organisms, and was given the honor of being posted on the "Global Medical Discovery" site as one of the top medical papers of 2013.

Pall told Truthout that the Navy has not provided "any evidence" to support their claims that electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) do not impact wildlife and humans deleteriously.

According to Pall, a NASA study, and more then 1,000 other scientific reports and studies, the health impacts of even the Navy's lowest levels of electromagnetic radiation emissions are shocking.

The Doctor's Opinion


Pall explained that people and agencies that advocate for the current safety standards around EMF levels claim that we only have to be concerned about their thermal/heating effects.

Pall's aforementioned paper and the 24 studies cited within it show that the generally accepted EMF safety standards are based on a false assumption: "that all you have to worry about is heating."

The Navy claims that there is "no conclusive evidence" that EMF radiation harms humans or wildlife due to "inconsistent data" and "conflicting reports" on the subject.

Pall vehemently disagrees with this position.

"We have a situation now where most people in the world are exposed to microwave frequency radiation based on scientific studies that have no scientific merit."

His analysis of scientific reports and data shows that a great number of them show harmful effects at non-thermal levels, when it is viewed consistently according to cell types, fields and end points of studies. Nevertheless, many of the studies claimed there were "no effects" from EMF radiation, simply because the effects were non-thermal, despite the studies themselves showing evidence of non-thermal effects.

"So in the data there is no inconsistency whatsoever. None," according to Pall.

"This has been going on for years, and people have been assured of safety based on these things and it is absolute nonsense," he explained.

"So we have a situation now where most people in the world are exposed to microwave frequency radiation based on scientific studies that have no scientific merit."

Pall said he sees the entire regulating system as flawed, and there is ample scientific evidence to back his perspective.

"We know the claims that you only have to worry about heating effects are false; there is no question on that," he said. 
 "All the assurances of safety are based on that assumption. So this whole thing is of great concern."

According to Pall, there is ample evidence of biological effects from EMF radiation that are "extremely worrisome." These include cellular DNA damage that causes cancer and infertility, "and both of these have been repeatedly reported to occur with low-level exposures."

Nevertheless, Pall added, "There are studies that don't report these, because they are done under different conditions, and that is not surprising."

"What the Navy is doing we have no idea because they don't tell us . . . but from what little they have told us, they are using a lot of pulse fields in wavelengths that are damaging to us."

To make his point, Pall cited an infertility study conducted with rats that showed there was less fertility with each generation, "and by the fifth generation they were completely infertile."

Pall was very clear in his assessment of the potential impact of the Navy's EMF war-gaming plans, as well as how EMF radiation impacts our daily lives - from cell phones, to wireless networks, to the myriad other electronic devices that are so common today.

"So what we're doing is exposing ourselves to these fields," he said.

"What the Navy is doing we have no idea because they don't tell us . . . but from what little they have told us, they are using a lot of pulse fields in wavelengths that are damaging to us, to biological organisms. They give us not one iota of evidence of what biological effects are produced by those fields, and don't even tell us what fields they are using. You only find empty statements of 'don't worry about these things.'"

Numerous studies back another of Pall's points, which is that there is ample evidence that younger people are more susceptible than older people to the harmful effects of EMF radiation.

"This is why childhood leukemia is more common than adult leukemia," Pall said.

Dean Millett, the district ranger for the Pacific district of the Olympic National Forest, has issued a draft notice of a decision in which he had agreed with the Navy's finding of "no significant impact," which has cleared the way for a US Forest Service special permit to be issued to the Navy for the war games. Millet, however, insists that the decision is his to make, but claims that he has not made a final decision yet.

Millet claims to not be concerned about the impact of the Navy's war-gaming on amphibians, as well as other wildlife, including birds.

"Millet's statements about the Navy's EIS [environmental impact statement] being solid, and his not worrying about amphibians, are interesting to me," Pall said when asked about the position of Millet and the Forest Service.

"Millet has been emailed this evidence, that amphibians are particularly sensitive to these fields, and much of the amphibians' decline around the world are being attributed to these fields. We also know that migrating birds are particularly susceptible. Yet neither Millet nor the Navy has given any evidence to the contrary, and that is not science. Science is always based on evidence."

During a recent public information meeting, the Navy told Truthout that their Growler jets would not be emitting any EMF radiation, despite the fact that all the planes they intend to use for their war-gaming will be "fully equipped" with all of the electromagnetic warfare weapons available for radar jamming, and other operations.

If what the Navy says is true, and that the only EMF radiation signals emitted will be from their 15 mobile ground towers, which they claim to be "no worse than a cell phone tower," this will still be extremely hazardous to biological organisms in the area, according to Pall.

"There are close to 1,000 studies on electromagnetic fields that show the production of oxidated stress," he said. "So even just using a cell phone gives you oxidative stress in your brain by breaking down your blood brain barriers that protect you from infections and other things."

Pall explained that, according to his and numerous other studies, there are numerous neuropsychiatric effects caused by this "low-level" EMF radiation, including depression.

"They are planning on running a huge experiment without collecting the data, so everyone out there will be exposed and be a part of their experiment."

Physical effects include heart arrhythmias and tachycardia, "and these can lead to sudden cardiac deaths," Pall said. "Slow heartbeats also occur at increasing rates, and these are indirect effects and they are all life threatening. There is a lot of literature on cardiac effects on humans, and I'm writing a paper on it right now."

Pall also cited a study that showed that when young rats are exposed to low-level EMF radiation, "you end up with middle-aged rats that have Alzheimer's disease. Rats don't normally develop Alzheimer's."

Pall cited one of the philosophers of science whose work determined the structure of modern science, Karl Popper, who believed the strongest type of scientific evidence is that evidence which falsifies a theory.

"So we have literally thousands of studies that have falsified the heating paradigm for microwave fields, each of which individually have falsified the claim that all you have to worry about is heating," Pall explained.

"Now, what Popper would say then is, obviously the statement that all you have to worry about is heating is a false claim. You only have to falsify it once. So the only way you can claim safety is to look at each of those individual studies and prove that it has been deeply flawed. The Navy hasn't done that, nor has the ranger, and they haven't done it because it can't be done."

Pall is confident in this statement because in order for the Navy and Forest Service to claim the war-gaming will be safe, they would have to test every EMF field, at every level of frequency emission, at every distance, for every human and animal, at every age.

But instead of conducting this kind of thorough research, according to Pall, "They are planning on running a huge experiment without collecting the data, so everyone out there will be exposed and be a part of their experiment."

A 2013 paper published in the journal Reviews on Environmental Health, titled "Radiation from wireless technology impacts the blood, the heart and the autonomic nervous system," lists a series of 14 different pleas from multiple scientists who state the need for much more vigorous action on the health effects from microwave EMFs.

Nevertheless, the Navy and Forest Service maintain their position that there would be "no significant impact" from the electromagnetic war-gaming, despite reams of well-documented scientific evidence to the contrary.

Thus, Pall believes the burden of proof lies with both the Navy and the Forest Service.

"So the Navy's response is both untrue and illogical," he said.

"We know all these fields have all these effects. So the Navy has to come up with the evidence that proves their EMF fields don't cause all these problems. The Navy and the ranger [Millet] need to answer these questions. I've seen no inconsistencies in the literature at this point, and what they need to do as scientists, as opposed to propagandists, is to show that each study that falsifies their point of view is deeply flawed, and they've not even started to do that, and there are thousands of studies in the scientific literature."

Other Studies


In February 2014, Willie Taylor, director of the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance with the US Department of the Interior, sent a letter to Eli Veenendall with the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In it, Taylor lists several concerns about the impact of communication towers, as well as towers emitting "electromagnetic radiation."


"The Department recommends revisions to the proposed procedures to better reflect the impacts to resources under our jurisdiction from communication towers," Taylor writes in the letter. "The placement and operation of communication towers, including un-guyed, unlit, monopole or lattice-designed structures, impact protected migratory birds in two significant ways. The first is by injury, crippling loss, and death from collisions with towers and their supporting guy-wire infrastructure, where present. The second significant issue associated with communication towers involves impacts from non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation emitted by them."

The Navy consistently claims that their towers will only emit as much radiation as cell towers, yet this is exactly the level of radiation cited as a problem.

The letter, of which Truthout acquired a copy, included an attachment that stated: "Radiation studies at cellular communication towers were begun circa 2000 in Europe and continue today on wild nesting birds. Study results have documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and death (e.g., Balmori 2005, Balmori and Hallberg 2007, and Everaert and Bauwens 2007)."

The Navy consistently claims that their towers will only emit as much radiation as cell towers, yet this is exactly the level of radiation cited in the aforementioned letter as a problem, as well as the levels described by Pall, the electromagnetic radiation expert.

Furthermore, the letter notes that the Federal Communications Commission continues to use outdated exposure standards when it comes to radiation emitted from cell phone towers.

"The problem," the letter continues, "appears to focus on very low levels of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. For example, in laboratory studies, T. Litovitz (personal communication) and DiCarlo et al. (2002) raised concerns about impacts of low-level, non-thermal electromagnetic radiation from the standard 915 MHz cell phone frequency on domestic chicken embryos - with some lethal results (Manville 2009, 2013a). Radiation at extremely low levels (0.0001 the level emitted by the average digital cellular telephone) caused heart attacks and the deaths of some chicken embryos subjected to hypoxic conditions in the laboratory while controls subjected to hypoxia were unaffected (DiCarlo et al. 2002)."

The letter concludes:

Balmori found strong negative correlations between levels of tower-emitted microwave radiation and bird breeding, nesting, and roosting in the vicinity of electromagnetic fields in Spain. He documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and death in House Sparrows, White Storks, Rock Doves, Magpies, Collared Doves, and other species. Though these species had historically been documented to roost and nest in these areas, Balmori (2005) did not observe these symptoms prior to construction and operation of the cellular phone towers.

Furthermore, a NASA study published in April 1981, titled "Electromagnetic Field Interactions with the Human Body: Observed Effects and Theories," was clear about the damage that EMF radiation caused to humans. Information for the NASA report was collected from over 1,000 written sources that "included journals, conference proceedings, technical reports, books, abstracts, and news items," and "additional sources included in-person meetings, telephone interviews, and lecture tapes."

"Both theories and observations link non-ionizing electromagnetic fields to cancer in humans," the report notes. "Man is changing his terrestrial electromagnetic environment . . . If he knew the consequences of these changes, he might wish to compensate for or enhance them."

The study "is concerned chiefly with those lower frequencies" of EMF radiation, just as are most of the aforementioned studies as well as Pall's work, all of which obviously applies to the impact of the Navy's claims that only their towers would be emitting signals, and not their Growler warplanes.

As for adverse effects from EMF radiation, the report states, "Some result in death and persistent disease," with other impacts being "ventricular fibrillation and sudden infant death syndrome," "cataracts," "accelerated aging," and that electromagnetic fields "may promote cancer" and cause a "decrease in sex function."

Aircraft noise, another issue related to the Navy's war-gaming plans, has also been noted as biologically harmful by the Navy itself.

The NASA study lists dozens of other human health impacts, and one of the tables in the report, titled, "Subjective effects on persons working in radio frequency electromagnetic fields," lists symptoms that include hypotension, exhausting influence on the central nervous system, decrease in sensitivity to smell, periodic or extreme headaches, extreme irritability, increased fatigability, and intensification of the activity of the thyroid gland.

Further evidence comes from Swiss Re, a group which describes itself as "a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer," which released their own risk assessment report, within which they listed "emerging risk topics" which could impact the insurance industry in the future.

The report lists "unforeseen consequences of electromagnetic fields" as having "high potential impact."

Aircraft noise, another issue related to the Navy's war-gaming plans, has also been noted as biologically harmful by the Navy itself.

According to the Naval Research Advisory Committee's April 2009 "Report on Jet Engine Noise Reduction," jet noise is described as "a problem" and the Navy was advised to take "actions to reduce noise in existing and next generation tactical jet aircraft engines."

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss


For every three decibels over 85, the permissible exposure time before hearing damage can occur is cut in half.

Decibel level Example and Permissible Exposure Time
30 Whisper
45 Refrigerator humming, rainfall
60 Normal conversation
85 Heavy city traffic; 8 hours
95 Motorcycles; 1 hour
105 MP3 player at maximum volume; 7.5 minutes
113 Older Navy jets at 1,000 feet; less than 1 minute
120 Sirens; less than 30 seconds
150 Gun muzzle blast, Growler jets at takeoff. (No noise levels exist for Growlers flying in trios at 1,200 feet.) INSTANTANEOUS HEARING LOSS
- Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The report also acknowledges that the US Department of Veterans Affairs was spending more than $1 billion annually on hearing loss cases alone, as well as the fact that the Navy's jet noise is "a serious health risk," and that despite this, "tactical jet noise levels have increased as the velocity and airflow from these engines have increased to produce added thrust."

The executive summary of this report states that the ongoing hearing loss issues and efforts toward increasing hearing protection of Navy personnel will "Require further development of noise abatement procedures to minimize the noise footprint around Naval and Marine Air Stations. And finally, it will require more research into the physiological effects of the full spectrum of noise - including low frequency pressure levels - on humans."

As for impact on wildlife, Dr. Robert Beason, a professor of biology at the State University of New York at Geneseo, speaking at a workshop titled "Avian Mortality at Communications Towers" sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ornithological Council, and the American Bird Conservancy, made several statements of concern about the impact of microwave signals and other electromagnetic radiation from communication towers similar to the towers the Navy plans to use for their warfare training.

"Peter Semm and I have found that a pulsed microwave signal results in changes in the rate of spontaneous activity of superficial neurons in the avian brain," Beason said. "These responses are occurring in higher centers of the brain, not in the lower centers where they could be filtered out."

He concluded his presentation urging caution, and clearly stating that more work needs to be done to safeguard migratory birds in regards to radio and electromagnetic radiation emitting towers located where they fly.

"There are numerous questions related to the features of communication towers for which we lack basic knowledge of either the neural or the behavioral responses of the birds," Beason said. "Gaining this type of information is paramount in determining what features of these towers can be modified in such a way to decrease their attractiveness to birds to allow communication field engineers to design and construct these towers in such a way to reduce the impact on migratory birds."

Navy Admits Harmful Biological Effects


On October 4, 1971, the Naval Medical Research Institute published a research report written by Dr. Zorach Glaser, of which Truthout acquired a copy. The title of the report is "Bibliography of Reported Biological Phenomena ('Effects') and Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation."

Given that the Navy continues to claim that their EMR warfare training exercises will have "no significant impact" on humans, it is interesting to note that their own research paper's abstract states:

More than 2,000 references on the biological responses to [microwave and] radio frequency and microwave radiation, published up to June 1971, are included in the bibliography. (Three supplementary listings bring the number of citation to more than 2,300.) Particular attention has been paid to the effects on man of non-ionizing radiation at these frequencies.

The Navy's paper lists well over 100 negative biological effects caused by microwave and radio frequency radiations, of which here is a partial list from their report: corneal damage, tubular degeneration of testicles, brain heating, alteration of the diameter of blood vessels, liver enlargement, altered sex ratio of births, decreased fertility, sterility, altered fetal development, decreased lactation in nursing mothers, altered penal function, death, cranial nerve disorders, seizures, convulsions, depression, insomnia, hand tremors, chest pain, thrombosis, alteration in the rate of cellular division, anorexia, constipation, altered adrenal cortex activity, chromosome aberrations, tumors, altered orientation of animals, birds and fish, loss of hair, and sparking between dental fillings.

Pall found the report notable, and suggested that in order to prove there are no biological effects possible from their EMR warfare training, the Navy would need to provide a specific response to each of the studies cited in their own report.

"What they need to show is that none of the over 2,000 studies that should be well known to them are not relevant to their planned tests for the Olympic peninsula," Pall said. "Those studies date, of course from before late 1971 and there have been many thousands of apparently relevant studies published since that time, but perhaps they should start with these studies which were important enough to be cited by the Naval Medical Research Institute in 1971."

US Air Force Acknowledges Health Effects


A June 1994 US Air Force document, titled, "Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation Biological Effects and Safety Standards: A Review," authored by Scott Bolen, clearly acknowledges the non-thermal health effects.

"It is known that electromagnetic radiation has a biological effect on human tissue."

The report, signed and vetted by the US Air Force Chief of the Wide Area Radar Surveillance Division and the US Air Force Deputy Director of the Surveillance and Photonics Department, states in its abstract, "It is known that electromagnetic radiation has a biological effect on human tissue."

The introduction of the report states that "researchers have discovered a number of biological dysfunctions that can occur in living organisms" and that "exposure of the human body to RF/MW [radio frequency/microwave] radiation has many biological implications" that range from "innocuous sensation of warmth to serious physiological damage to the eye," and added that "there is also evidence that RF/MW radiation can cause cancer."

The report goes on to acknowledge that RF/MW radiation "is known to have a biological effect on animals and humans" and lists biological impacts like "damage to major organs, disruption of important biological processes, and the potential risk of cancer," among many others which include "mutagenic effects," "cardiovascular effects," negative effects on chromosomes, and notes that "Soviet investigators claim that exposure to low-level radiation can induce serious CNS [central nervous system] dysfunctions."

Ongoing Concerns


Olympic Peninsula resident Karen Sullivan worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 15 and a half years, in Delaware, Washington, DC, and from 1998 through 2006 in Alaska. She worked in the Division of Endangered Species, External Affairs, and spent the last seven years as assistant regional director for External Affairs, which covered all media and congressional interaction and correspondence, plus outreach, publications and tribal grants for the Alaska region.


"How can Navy jets be allowed to fly over wilderness areas and do what they do, and potentially destroy a wilderness soundscape that exists within a wilderness area? How can that be legal?"

She called the Navy's so-called environmental assessment "bogus" because "it is old and not of broad enough scope."

"It's baffling to try to pin down what they [the Navy] are doing on paper, but it is nonetheless very obvious what they are doing," she said. 
 "It's certainly not in the public interest and certainly takes away from the public trust of these lands. How can Navy jets be allowed to fly over wilderness areas and do what they do, and potentially destroy a wilderness soundscape that exists within a wilderness area? How can that be legal? I can't understand."

Dr. Pete Lauritzen, a professor emeritus of engineering from the University of Washington, recently attended a Navy public information scoping session in order to find out specifics about the types and intensities of radiation that will be used in the Navy's war games, but was frustrated by the Navy's lack of forthrightness.

Nearly 400 people attended the scoping session, most of who expressed their concerns by filing official comments to the Navy.



The US Navy has held several "scoping sessions" where they invited
the public to provide comments about the war-gaming plans. Each 
session became increasingly crowded, with the vast majority of those 
providing comment being opposed to the Navy's plans. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)




Former US Fish and Wildlife employee Karen Sullivan who
attended a recent Navy scoping session (not pictured) told Truthout,
"The Navy is behaving in a way that makes their sense of 
entitlement very obvious." (Photo: Dahr Jamail)


Lauritzen was frank about what should be done.

"My general concern is that the EIS [environmental impact statement] should be done by an independent party that is reliable and has a good reputation. But the Navy is doing their own EIS, so that means they are withholding information and only giving out what they want, and being quite vague on specifics," he said.


Port Townsend Mayor David King, who expressed his concerns 
with the Navy's plans of increasing the number of jets 
and ensuing noise pollution. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)


David King, the mayor of Port Townsend, a small town on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula that would be heavily impacted by increased jet noise as well as affected economically from the Navy's plans, was also present at the Navy's recent scoping meeting in his town to express his concerns.


"My main concern is that over the last year we've heard much more noise impacts than we've heard in prior years," King told Truthout. "And a further expansion of the Growler fleet seems to me to indicate that that situation will only get worse."

King plans to talk with city officials in other towns and cities that will be impacted by the Navy's plans.

Truthout contacted the Navy and asked if the Navy had conducted studies that would disprove the more than 1,000 studies and papers that show negative impacts on biological organisms resulting from EMF radiation, and if so, where could the results be viewed.

Naval Public Affairs Officer Mike Welding provided the following response:

The Navy uses the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) "Standard for Safety Levels with Respect to Human Exposure to Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields, 3 kHz to 300 GHz," to make its determinations. The IEEE standard serves as a consensus standard developed by representatives of industry, government agencies, the scientific community and the public. Additionally, the Navy has a long history of using these systems safely and employed them successfully to provide our aviators the training they need without incident or adverse effects.

Welding also provided the "NAS Whidbey Island's Electronic Warfare fact sheet," which repeatedly stated that the Navy's war-gaming has "no adverse effects to people or the environment," but failed to provide any evidence to support these claims.

Welding did not provide any specific response to Truthout's aforementioned questions addressing the scientifically proven negative impacts of EMF radiation on biological organisms.

Sullivan, the Olympic Peninsula resident, is frustrated by the Navy's ongoing lack of adequate responses to people who are concerned about the possible war-gaming, and was frank about what she thought would be required to stop the electromagnetic warfare training plans for the Western Olympic Peninsula.

"The Navy is behaving in a way that makes their sense of entitlement very obvious," she said. "And I have been told by a congressional staffer that this is probably going to have to be settled in court."


Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.
His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in Washington State.

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By Dahr Jamail, Truthout/TomDispatch | News AnalysisDahr Jamail | Navy Plans Electromagnetic War Games Over National Park and Forest in Washington State
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Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
 

Bringing Gaza to the Homeland: Israeli High-Tech Armors Up US Border

Gaza in Arizona: How Israeli High-Tech Firms Will Up-Armor the U.S.-Mexican Border 

by Todd Miller and Gabriel M. Schivone - TomDispatch

It was October 2012. Roei Elkabetz, a brigadier general for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was explaining his country’s border policing strategies. In his PowerPoint presentation, a photo of the enclosure wall that isolates the Gaza Strip from Israel clicked onscreen. “We have learned lots from Gaza,” he told the audience. “It’s a great laboratory.”

Elkabetz was speaking at a border technology conference and fair surrounded by a dazzling display of technology -- the components of his boundary-building lab. There were surveillance balloons with high-powered cameras floating over a desert-camouflaged armored vehicle made by Lockheed Martin. There were seismic sensor systems used to detect the movement of people and other wonders of the modern border-policing world. Around Elkabetz, you could see vivid examples of where the future of such policing was heading, as imagined not by a dystopian science fiction writer but by some of the top corporate techno-innovators on the planet.

Swimming in a sea of border security, the brigadier general was, however, not surrounded by the Mediterranean but by a parched West Texas landscape. He was in El Paso, a 10-minute walk from the wall that separates the United States from Mexico.

Just a few more minutes on foot and Elkabetz could have watched green-striped U.S. Border Patrol vehicles inching along the trickling Rio Grande in front of Ciudad Juarez, one of Mexico’s largest cities filled with U.S. factories and the dead of that country’s drug wars. The Border Patrol agents whom the general might have spotted were then being up-armored with a lethal combination of surveillance technologies, military hardware, assault rifles, helicopters, and drones. This once-peaceful place was being transformed into what Timothy Dunn, in his book The Militarization of the U.S. Mexico Border, terms a state of “low-intensity warfare.”
Tomgram: Miller and Schivone, Bringing the Battlefield to the Border

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: For those of you fascinated by America’s borderlands, note that for another week you can get a signed, personalized copy of Todd Miller’s book Border Patrol Nation in return for a $100 contribution to this site, as you can my book Shadow Government, Maya Schenwar’s new book, Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn't Work and How We Can Do Better, and other offerings. Just check out our donation page for the details. Tom]

Predator drones, tested out in this country’s distant war zones, have played an increasingly prominent role in the up-armoring of the U.S.-Mexican border. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched its first Predator in 2004, but only really ramped up drone use in March 2013. There have been approximately 10,000 Predator flights along that border since. The agency had plans to expand its ten-Predator fleet -- nine after a $12 million maritime drone crashed off the California coast, as those robotic planes are wont to do -- to 24. It was going to dispatch some of them to the Canadian border as well. (You never know, after all, what dark forces might descend on us from the chilly north.) The CBP even got into the chummy habit of encouraging interagency drone-addiction by loaning its Predators out to the FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the U.S. Forest Service, among other places. You might say that the CBP was distinctly high on drones.

Only one problem: the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general recently audited the use of drones on the border and issued a scathing report, calling them “dubious achievers” and essentially declaring them an enormous waste of money, time, and personnel. At $12,255 a flight hour (when not simply grounded), military-grade drones turned out to cost way more than the CBP estimated or reported, flew far less often, and helped find a mere 2% of the immigrants crossing the border without papers. As Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post reported, “Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of border-crossing apprehensions were attributed to drone detection.” The inspector general suggested that the CBP should, among other things, shelve its plans to expand its drone fleet (at the cost of a mere $443 million).

Based on such a report from the IG -- the CBP is part of the Department of Homeland Security -- you might assume that it would be curtains for the drone program. But if you’re a betting kind of guy in twenty-first-century Washington, you’re not going to put your money on any self-respecting part of the national security state giving up, or even cutting back, on its high-tech toys. Drones, after all, are sexy as hell and what self-respecting government official wouldn’t want a machine onto which you could attach even more seductively high-tech devices like Vader (think deep, breathy voice, though the acronym stands for “Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar”), a set of sensors that can detect motion on the ground. So CBP has instead struck back, accusing the inspector general of cherry-picking his data and misconstruing more or less everything.

Meanwhile, the drones continue to fly and the CBP, as Todd Miller who covers the militarization of America’s borders for TomDispatch has long noted, remains gaga for high-tech border toys of just about any sort. Today, Miller and Gabriel Schivone suggest that, whatever waste and extravagance may be involved, our already heavily technologized borders and the increasingly robot-filled skies over them are just at the beginning of an era of border-closing high-tech extravaganzas. When it comes to visions of how to shut down the world, it’s evidently time to call in the real experts, the Israelis, who live in a country without fully demarcated borders, and yet have had a remarkable amount of experience building high-tech walls. Tom

Gaza in Arizona: How Israeli High-Tech Firms Will Up-Armor the U.S.-Mexican Border 

by Todd Miller and Gabriel M. Schivone

 

The Border Surge


On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration reform. Addressing the American people, he referred to bipartisan immigration legislation passed by the Senate in June 2013 that would, among other things, further up-armor the same landscape in what’s been termed -- in language adopted from recent U.S. war zones -- a “border surge.” The president bemoaned the fact that the bill had been stalled in the House of Representatives, hailing it as a “compromise” that “reflected common sense.” It would, he pointed out, “have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents, while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.”

In the wake of his announcement, including executive actions that would protect five to six million of those immigrants from future deportation, the national debate was quickly framed as a conflict between Republicans and Democrats. Missed in this partisan war of words was one thing: the initial executive action that Obama announced involved a further militarization of the border supported by both parties.

“First,” the president said, “we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings and speed the return of those who do cross over.” Without further elaboration, he then moved on to other matters.

If, however, the United States follows the “common sense” of the border-surge bill, the result could add more than $40 billion dollars worth of agents, advanced technologies, walls, and other barriers to an already unparalleled border enforcement apparatus. And a crucial signal would be sent to the private sector that, as the trade magazine Homeland Security Today puts it, another “treasure trove” of profit is on the way for a border control market already, according to the latest forecasts, in an “unprecedented boom period.”

Like the Gaza Strip for the Israelis, the U.S. borderlands, dubbed a “constitution-free zone” by the ACLU, are becoming a vast open-air laboratory for tech companies. There, almost any form of surveillance and “security” can be developed, tested, and showcased, as if in a militarized shopping mall, for other nations across the planet to consider. In this fashion, border security is becoming a global industry and few corporate complexes can be more pleased by this than the one that has developed in Elkabetz’s Israel.

The Palestine-Mexico Border


Consider the IDF brigadier general’s presence in El Paso two years ago an omen. After all, in February 2014, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency in charge of policing our borders, contracted with Israel’s giant private military manufacturer Elbit Systems to build a “virtual wall,” a technological barrier set back from the actual international divide in the Arizona desert. That company, whose U.S.-traded stock shot up by 6% during Israel’s massive military operation against Gaza in the summer of 2014, will bring the same databank of technology used in Israel’s borderlands -- Gaza and the West Bank -- to Southern Arizona through its subsidiary Elbit Systems of America.

With approximately 12,000 employees and, as it boasts, “10+ years securing the world’s most challenging borders,” Elbit produces an arsenal of “homeland security systems.” These include surveillance land vehicles, mini-unmanned aerial systems, and “smart fences,” highly fortified steel barriers that have the ability to sense a person’s touch or movement. In its role as lead system integrator for Israel’s border technology plan, the company has already installed smart fences in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

In Arizona, with up to a billion dollars potentially at its disposal, CBP has tasked Elbit with creating a “wall” of “integrated fixed towers” containing the latest in cameras, radar, motion sensors, and control rooms. Construction will start in the rugged, desert canyons around Nogales. Once a DHS evaluation deems that part of the project effective, the rest will be built to monitor the full length of the state’s borderlands with Mexico. Keep in mind, however, that these towers are only one part of a broader operation, the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan. At this stage, it’s essentially a blueprint for an unprecedented infrastructure of high-tech border fortifications that has attracted the attention of many companies.

This is not the first time Israeli companies have been involved in a U.S. border build-up. In fact, in 2004, Elbit’s Hermes drones were the first unmanned aerial vehicles to take to the skies to patrol the southern border. In 2007, according to Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine, the Golan Group, an Israeli consulting company made up of former IDF Special Forces officers, provided an intensive eight-day course for special DHS immigration agents covering “everything from hand-to-hand combat to target practice to ‘getting proactive with their SUV.’” The Israeli company NICE Systems even supplied Arizona’s Joe Arpaio,“America’s toughest sheriff,” with a surveillance system to watch one of his jails.

As such border cooperation intensified, journalist Jimmy Johnson coined the apt phrase “Palestine-Mexico border” to catch what was happening. In 2012, Arizona state legislators, sensing the potential economic benefit of this growing collaboration, declared their desert state and Israel to be natural “trade partners,” adding that it was “a relationship we seek to enhance.”

In this way, the doors were opened to a new world order in which the United States and Israel are to become partners in the “laboratory” that is the U.S.-Mexican borderlands. Its testing grounds are to be in Arizona. There, largely through a program known as Global Advantage, American academic and corporate knowhow and Mexican low-wage manufacturing are to fuse with Israel’s border and homeland security companies.

The Border: Open for Business


No one may frame the budding romance between Israel’s high-tech companies and Arizona better than Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “If you go to Israel and you come to Southern Arizona and close your eyes and spin yourself a few times,” he says, “you might not be able to tell the difference.”

Global Advantage is a business project based on a partnership between the University of Arizona’s Tech Parks Arizona and the Offshore Group, a business advisory and housing firm which offers “nearshore solutions for manufacturers of any size” just across the border in Mexico. Tech Parks Arizona has the lawyers, accountants, and scholars, as well as the technical knowhow, to help any foreign company land softly and set up shop in the state. It will aid that company in addressing legal issues, achieving regulatory compliance, and even finding qualified employees -- and through a program it’s called the Israel Business Initiative, Global Advantage has identified its target country.

Think of it as the perfect example of a post-NAFTA world in which companies dedicated to stopping border crossers are ever freer to cross the same borders themselves. In the spirit of free trade that created the NAFTA treaty, the latest border fortification programs are designed to eliminate borders when it comes to letting high-tech companies from across the seas set up in the United States and make use of Mexico’s manufacturing base to create their products. While Israel and Arizona may be separated by thousands of miles, Rothschild assured TomDispatch that in “economics, there are no borders.”

Of course, what the mayor appreciates, above all, is the way new border technology could bring money and jobs into an area with a nearly 23% poverty rate. How those jobs might be created matters far less to him. According to Molly Gilbert, the director of community engagement for the Tech Parks Arizona, “It’s really about development, and we want to create technology jobs in our borderlands.”

So consider it anything but an irony that, in this developing global set of boundary-busting partnerships, the factories that will produce the border fortresses designed by Elbit and other Israeli and U.S. high-tech firms will mainly be located in Mexico. Ill-paid Mexican blue-collar workers will, then, manufacture the very components of a future surveillance regime, which may well help locate, detain, arrest, incarcerate, and expel some of them if they try to cross into the United States.

Think of Global Advantage as a multinational assembly line, a place where homeland security meets NAFTA. Right now there are reportedly 10 to 20 Israeli companies in active discussion about joining the program. Bruce Wright, the CEO of Tech Parks Arizona, tells TomDispatch that his organization has a “nondisclosure” agreement with any companies that sign on and so cannot reveal their names.

Though cautious about officially claiming success for Global Advantage’s Israel Business Initiative, Wright brims with optimism about his organization’s cross-national planning. As he talks in a conference room located on the 1,345-acre park on the southern outskirts of Tucson, it’s apparent that he's buoyed by predictions that the Homeland Security market will grow from a $51 billion annual business in 2012 to $81 billion in the United States alone by 2020, and $544 billion worldwide by 2018.

Wright knows as well that submarkets for border-related products like video surveillance, non-lethal weaponry, and people-screening technologies are all advancing rapidly and that the U.S. market for drones is poised to create 70,000 new jobs by 2016. Partially fueling this growth is what the Associated Press calls an “unheralded shift” to drone surveillance on the U.S. southern divide. More than 10,000 drone flights have been launched into border air space since March 2013, with plans for many more, especially after the Border Patrol doubles its fleet.

When Wright speaks, it’s clear he knows that his park sits atop a twenty-first-century gold mine. As he sees it, Southern Arizona, aided by his tech park, will become the perfect laboratory for the first cluster of border security companies in North America. He’s not only thinking about the 57 southern Arizona companies already identified as working in border security and management, but similar companies nationwide and across the globe, especially in Israel.

In fact, Wright's aim is to follow Israel’s lead, as it is now the number-one place for such groupings. In his case, the Mexican border would simply replace that country’s highly marketed Palestinian testing grounds. The 18,000 linear feet that surround the tech park’s solar panel farm would, for example, be a perfect spot to test out motion sensors. Companies could also deploy, evaluate, and test their products “in the field,” as he likes to say -- that is, where real people are crossing real borders -- just as Elbit Systems did before CBP gave it the contract.

“If we’re going to be in bed with the border on a day-to-day basis, with all of its problems and issues, and there’s a solution to it,” Wright said in a 2012 interview, “why shouldn’t we be the place where the issue is solved and we get the commercial benefit from it?”

From the Battlefield to the Border


When Naomi Weiner, project coordinator for the Israel Business Initiative, returned from a trip to that country with University of Arizona researchers in tow, she couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the possibilities for collaboration. She arrived back in November, just a day before Obama announced his new executive actions -- a promising declaration for those, like her, in the business of bolstering border defenses.

“We’ve chosen areas where Israel is very strong and Southern Arizona is very strong,” Weiner explained to TomDispatch, pointing to the surveillance industry “synergy” between the two places. For example, one firm her team met with in Israel was Brightway Vision, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems. If it decides to set up shop in Arizona, it could use tech park expertise to further develop and refine its thermal imaging cameras and goggles, while exploring ways to repurpose those military products for border surveillance applications. The Offshore Group would then manufacture the cameras and goggles in Mexico.

Arizona, as Weiner puts it, possesses the “complete package” for such Israeli companies. “We’re sitting right on the border, close to Fort Huachuca,” a nearby military base where, among other things, technicians control the drones surveilling the borderlands. “We have the relationship with Customs and Border Protection, so there’s a lot going on here. And we’re also the Center of Excellence on Homeland Security.”

Weiner is referring to the fact that, in 2008, DHS designated the University of Arizona the lead school for the Center of Excellence on Border Security and Immigration. Thanks to that, it has since received millions of dollars in federal grants. Focusing on research and development of border-policing technologies, the center is a place where, among other things, engineers are studying locust wings in order to create miniature drones equipped with cameras that can get into the tiniest of spaces near ground level, while large drones like the Predator B continue to buzz over the borderlands at 30,000 feet (despite the fact that a recent audit by the inspector general of homeland security found them a waste of money).

Although the Arizona-Israeli romance is still in the courtship stage, excitement about its possibilities is growing. Officials from Tech Parks Arizona see Global Advantage as the perfect way to strengthen the U.S.-Israel “special relationship.” There is no other place in the world with a higher concentration of homeland security tech companies than Israel. Six hundred tech start-ups are launched in Tel Aviv alone every year. During the Gaza offensive last summer, Bloomberg reported that investment in such companies had “actually accelerated.” However, despite the periodic military operations in Gaza and the incessant build-up of the Israeli homeland security regime, there are serious limitations to the local market.

The Israeli Ministry of Economy is painfully aware of this. Its officials know that the growth of the Israeli economy is “largely fueled by a steady increase in exports and foreign investment.” The government coddles, cultivates, and supports these start-up tech companies until their products are market-ready. Among them have been innovations like the “skunk,” a liquid with a putrid odor meant to stop unruly crowds in their tracks. The ministry has also been successful in taking such products to market across the globe. In the decade following 9/11, sales of Israeli “security exports” rose from $2 billion to $7 billion annually.

Israeli companies have sold surveillance drones to Latin American countries like Mexico, Chile, and Colombia, and massive security systems to India and Brazil, where an electro-optic surveillance system will be deployed along the country’s borders with Paraguay and Bolivia. They have also been involved in preparations for policing the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. The products of Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries are now in use from the Americas and Europe to Australia. Meanwhile, that mammoth security firm is ever more involved in finding “civilian applications” for its war technologies. It is also ever more dedicated to bringing the battlefield to the world’s borderlands, including southern Arizona.

As geographer Joseph Nevins notes, although there are many differences between the political situations of the U.S. and Israel, both Israel-Palestine and Arizona share a focus on keeping out “those deemed permanent outsiders,” whether Palestinians, undocumented Latin Americans, or indigenous people.

Mohyeddin Abdulaziz has seen this “special relationship” from both sides, as a Palestinian refugee whose home and village Israeli military forces destroyed in 1967 and as a long-time resident of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. A founding member of the Southern Arizona BDS Network, whose goal is to pressure U.S. divestment from Israeli companies, Abdulaziz opposes any program like Global Advantage that will contribute to the further militarization of the border, especially when it also sanitizes Israel’s “violations of human rights and international law.”

Such violations matter little, of course, when there is money to be made, as Brigadier General Elkabetz indicated at that 2012 border technology conference. Given the direction that both the U.S. and Israel are taking when it comes to their borderlands, the deals being brokered at the University of Arizona look increasingly like matches made in heaven (or perhaps hell). As a result, there is truth packed into journalist Dan Cohen’s comment that “Arizona is the Israel of the United States.”

Todd Miller, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Homeland Security. He has written on border and immigration issues for the New York Times, Al Jazeera America, and NACLA Report on the Americas and its blog Border Wars, among other places. You can follow him on twitter @memomiller and view more of his work at toddwmiller.wordpress.com.

Gabriel M. Schivone, a writer from Tucson, has worked as a humanitarian volunteer in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands for more than six years. He blogs at Electronic Intifada and Huffington Post's "Latino Voices." His articles have appeared in the Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Republic, StudentNation, the Guardian, and McClatchy Newspapers, among other publications. You can follow him on Twitter @GSchivone.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Todd Miller and Gabriel M. Schivone