"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Bail Me Out

The new Airbus A380 has managed to grab alot of headlines in the last few days and weeks. The new double-deck carrier is set to make a big challenge against Boeing's 747, better known as the Jumbo Jet. The main points revealed in most reports were that it has increased capacity and requires a longer runway. However the Irish Times reports, "It is an aircraft which represents possibly the greatest commercial risk in the history of aviation with €12 billion already spent and entry to service still more than a year away." (1)

The size of the risk is noteworthy, however, the risk may not exactly be described as commercial. Boeing, Airbus's main competitor, has a complicated history when it comes to it's commercial risks. And this new challenge represents quite a worry for them. "The inaugural flight of the Airbus A380 is a shot in the arm for the European aviation industry and a shot across the bows of its great US rival, Boeing." Should this "commercial risk" turn risky, what probable outcome is likely for a company of Airbus's size?

Following the events of 9/11, there resulted a predictably sizeable drop-off of new airplane orders by airlines. On 18/11, Boeing announced a layoff of up to thirty thousand employees, as the first step in financial recovery after what could also be described as commercial risk, i.e. any move a company makes is a commercial risk.

Although Boeing remained profitable, Congress came up with a way to "save" Boeing. They chose to "allow the Air Force to lease 100 Boeing 767 planes under the guise of replacing an "aging" fleet of mid-air refueling tankers, guaranteeing that the company's return on investment would far exceed what the company would make if the planes were sold outright, and as a result, soaking the taxpayers. But a bailout is a bailout even when it's a lease. In this instance, it's expensive, wasteful, and attempts to reward a company with questionable ethical practices.

To replace the current fleet of refueling tankers, which many critics argued should be upgraded instead of replaced, the deal calls for a ten-year, $21-billion lease. At the end of the term, the Air Force will be left with no tankers and be forced to either buy the leased planes outright or purchase brand news ones. It turns out that upgrading the current fleet of KC135E tankers would cost only $3.2 billion."

Therefore the lease arrangement, generated billions of dollars in revenue for a company that was in financial trouble long before 9/11. (2)

What we learn from this is that commercial risk is only absorbed by commercial companies if (a) they turn out to be profitable risks or (b) if they are small enough not to have nay influence on the government.

"Since taxpayers were not the cause of Boeing's fiscal woes, they should not be forced to bear the $16.8 billion cost of bailing out the company. In fact, the real reasons for Boeing's problems were set forth by Robert Samuelson, who wrote for Newsweek: "The story of Boeing's distress comes in three parts: bad luck, bad management and bad government policy." Samuelson believes that Boeing became overconfident, and reports that they took a product-development holiday for the last eight years." (3)

The Irish Times proclaims "the Airbus promises significantly lower operating costs" and that "The size and capacity of the giant sky carrier is a sight to behold."

Green Party Euro-MP Dr Caroline Lucas when told that the A380 has been credited with creating jobs and boosting the EU’s economy replied “In fact most of the jobs created by the A380 over the next generation will be in the health and environmental sectors cleaning up its mess. Tony Blair has today tried to bask in the glory of its unveiling – but the truth is he has wasted public money that would have been better invested in sustainable public transport and renewable energy production.

“His zeal for the project undermines his stated enthusiasm for tackling climate change – and he should be hanging his head in shame.” (4)

The A380's giant leap away from sustainability and the Irish Times lack of comment unusual given that the Times reported "The Minister for the Environment, Mr Dempsey, recently described climate change as "probably the greatest environmental threat facing the global community". Most scientists would agree; indeed, they would go further by saying it is the greatest threat to the survival of humanity on the planet." (5) as far back as November 1997.

Either the reporting is inaccurate or Global Warming is no longer an issue.

1. The Irish Times
2. Tax Payer
3. National Review
5. The Irish Times


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

When Media Dogs Don’t Bark

By Norman Solomon

The recent decision by General Motors to pull its advertising from the Los Angeles Times has not gone over very well.

“Blame the press,” Daily Variety scoffed in mid-April, after several days of publicity about the automaker’s move. “That’s the latest coping mechanism for General Motors, whose slumping share price and falling profits have generated a wave of negative media coverage. ... GM isn’t the first Fortune 500 company to retaliate against a newspaper’s editorial coverage by taking a punch at its ad division. But most companies understand the tactic just doesn’t work; it only generates more bad coverage.”

In the Motor City, the Detroit News business writer Daniel Howes told readers that the monetary slap at the L.A. Times exposes “GM’s thinning corporate skin.” Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam had this to say: “On the one hand, the decision, which may affect up to $20 million in ad spending, sends a powerful message to the Times. On the other hand, it sends a powerful message to the country about the idiots who are running GM.”

Drawing more attention to GM’s financial woes, the ad-yanking gambit is likely to backfire. But news outlets are far from immune to advertiser pressure.

By coincidence, the conflict between General Motors and the L.A. Times went public just as a new report highlighted the media clout of advertisers and other powerful interests in business and government. The media watch group FAIR (where I’m an associate) released the results of its fifth annual “Fear & Favor” report on “how power shapes the news.”

The FAIR report, by Peter Hart and Julie Hollar, provides context with sobering information: “A survey of media workers by four industry labor unions found respondents concerned about ‘pressure from advertisers trying to shape coverage’ as well as ‘outside control of editorial policy.’ In May [2004], the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released a survey of media professionals that found reporters concerned about how bottom-line pressures were affecting news quality and integrity. In their summary ... Bill Kovach, Tom Rosensteil and Amy Mitchell wrote that journalists ‘report more cases of advertisers and owners breaching the independence of the newsroom.’”

Among the examples in the new “Fear & Favor” report are these gems:

Last July, “when furniture giant Ikea opened a new store in New Haven, Conn., the New Haven Register cranked out 12 Ikea stories in eight straight days -- accompanied by at least 17 photographs and a sidebar on product information -- with headlines such as ‘Ikea’s Focus on Child Labor Issues Reflects Ethic of Social Responsibility’ and ‘Ikea Employees Take Pride in Level of Responsibility Company Affords Them.’ ... The back-scratching reached its apex the day of the grand opening, when the Register heralded the arrival of Ikea and fellow super-store Wal-Mart and remarked upon Ikea’s ‘astonishingly low prices -- a coffee table for $99, a flowing watering can for $1.99, a woven rocking chair, $59.’ Sound like an ad? It was the Register’s lead editorial.”




Friday, April 22, 2005

Alienation of the centres

"Everything You Know Is Wrong" "Stupid White Men" "Dude Where's My Country?" "The War Against the Terror Masters: Why It Happened. Where We Are Now. How We'll Win." "Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos"

For those on the left and the right there is a significant prize that has been unatainable in it's entirity in the past and the future looks set not to break that trend. The prize is the attention of those people who insist on loitering around the centre. The left and right just can't understand how these people can just stand around in complete ignorance of the obvious staring them in the face. They can't understand how they believe one thing, but not it's "obvious" implications. It's taken for granted that the left ignores the right and vica versa, save for the frequent ad hominen agruments that grace the insde pages of many mainstream news outlets, but the centres, they are considered fair game.

These loiters are considered a fickle bunch, by the left and right...
Some of them are support the war in Iraq, but not for all the reasons the right cling to. For example some don't see it as a war on terror, they see it as disposing of a cruel dictator. Some were led by stories of WMD and now feel cheated, not by their government, but by unaccountable intelligence agencies. Some are considered mis-informed, biasedly informed or not informed at all. Some are under the illusion that their government is always right.

Some are anti-war, but not because they see no links to 9/11, no WMD, casualties, the reasons given by government, but because they don't want their sons and daughters to go to war or the monetary cost, or the risk of the creatian of a new terrorist threat.

Some see no disparity in the compassion shown for the victims of the tsnuami in south east Asia, a relatively unpreventable situation and the suffering of an equivalent number of people in Iraq, a preventable situation.

Moore's films and books epitimise the attack on the centre by the left. But he attacks one of their most sensitive areas, their faith in government. The right on the other hand attacks a similar, but less easily explained area, their patriotism.

These are both very sensitive areas for many people. In some cases it's an inbuilt notion that living in a democratic nation means that government in essence is a "force" for good. There are "bad eggs" and mistakes made, but for the most part government attempts to promote equality at home and where possible, abroad. In other cases it is a notion that a democratic nation has a duty to change oppressive regimes in other countries. An admirable idea on paper, but it is never as simple as paper might suggest.

Ask almost anyone whether they believe their government will not raise taxes next year, even if they have emphatically denied it for the last twelve months, and you will in most cases hear the answer "no", but ask someone whether they believe their government is killing innocent civilians in a foriegn country and the reply you get will be quite different.

With Moore's approach, many are immediately put on the defensive. Being blamed for the deaths of people half way across the world, or even for ones closer to home is a saddening experience and sometimes anger is an easier response. On the other side the conservatives take a similar assuming tone. "You are either with us or aganist us," makes the options simple, but for those undecieded a similar defense is necessary. For these, there was scant option in the recent 2004 elections, with both candidates ploughing the same field. But they recieved no help from the left, who managed to throw away their "famous" morals and plug the "lesser of two evils." With conflicting tones from both sides, the centre is doing less loitering and more hiding.

Those in the centre feel underseige, the left is accusing them of being ignorant, the right is accusing them of being unpatriotic. Long established as not being the quickest way to ones heart. And thats what it really comes down to, a question of heart. Where do your morals lie, once you are as informed as you can be, it's then your own decision. A decision those on the right and the left have made and for those "undecided" a mission has been undertaken to convince them. So if either side want to get some of these "undecieded" on board they need to stop attacking them and start informing them.

And for my own "two cents". Yes, ask questions of your government, but remember, they are anything but stupid.


It's all about credible witness

"And when the 12th largest company in the world controls the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network?" (except this one is public)

The hypocrisy of the 'liberal' media:

The BBC's Magic Quotes
Or how to make unsubstantiated claims against our official enemies.
by: Antony Wright on: 22nd Apr, 05

On March 30th the Media Advocacy group, Medialens, issued a Media Alert – ‘But The Generals Love Napalm’. The alert questioned the failure of the BBC to investigate reports of US atrocities during their assault on the city of Falluja, specifically alleged evidence of war crimes.

BBC Director of News Helen Boaden, in her response, stated that it was vital that these reports are independently verified.

Too right Helen, the BBC can’t go round making unsubstantiated claims. Unless of course they liberally throw quotes and the word alleged into the article and then they can publish whatever they want. Oh and don’t forget the one liner at the end refuting the claims. Job done! Or is that damage done?


Global Echo


Election Fever

The Irish Times reports today on the upcoming UK elections and all that it entails; the razzmataz of election fever, the kissing of babies and most importantly the issues. Keen observations are made; "the economy, public services and taxation are not such that they are causing voters to change sides, the war in Iraq...has been sidelined as an issue...Europe...is barely mentioned," but without comment.

Why have these issues become so banal that they are barely mentioned, even when they have represented the core objectives in the present governments plan. The focus instead is brought upon immigration, the key to all our problems, they would have us believe. Their threat to our security, their theft of our jobs, their sponging off our resources and their dilution of our culture. Unless of course if you're in the market for cheap labor, as the Torys made a shameless example of by using a company employing below minimum wage paid foreigners to distribute campaign literature. Labour instead cleverly went for teens to distribute their work. Obviously 'values' leap out the window when theres a penny to be saved/made.

Eamon McCann rightly pointed out "There aren't enough foreigners in this pasty faced country." Britain, I think, could also do with some cultural 'dilution'. In any case, maybe it would allow them to better empathize with the suffering of non-whites in, lets say, Iraq.

Both the Conservatives and Labour have made immigration and asylum seekers their key issue, proposing alternatives such as policing the ports and processing asylum seekers off shore. Backing up the focus on this issue is the on going defense against 'terror' and the recent case of a failed asylum seeker jailed last week for murdering a police officer. Obviously this wasn't the smoking gun it once was, back when this "anti-social loner" was labeled a threat to Britain. But even so he remains a real crowd pleaser in the papers.

Those smaller issues that have yet to surface; the abuse at Abu Ghraib, the illegal (now legal, apparently) war, the defiance of public opinion, the forging/sexing up/plagiarism of documents etc. And although
The Liberal Democrats have said that Iraq is an issue, they have failed to make it one. Possibly saving it until its too late, a tactic that has no doubt been passed on by successive leaderships.

On the eve of the invasion Blair said: "The question most often posed is not 'Why does it matter?' but 'Why does it matter so much?' Here we are: the government with its most serious test, its majority at risk, the first cabinet resignation over an issue of policy."(1) And while the war still rages, over a year since it 'ended', the issue has been sidestepped. The responsiblity must lie with the honest and hardworking journalist to make the issues issues. To allow those in power to decide the news, makes the independent press all but useless.

"Mr Blair's first term was dominated, among other things, by the initiation of reform in public services. His second term was blighted by Iraq."(2)

Whoever "blighted" Mr. Blair's second term with iraq, it certainly wasn't the Times.

1. Global Echo
2. The Irish Times

A third term for Mr Blair

At the midway point in the British general election campaign, opinion poll after opinion poll tells the same story: prime minister Tony Blair and his Labour Party will be returned on May 5th for a historic third term in office. Out of 11 samplings since April 7th, according to reputable opinion pollsters, Labour has scored an average of 39.4 per centage points. The Conservatives come in a distant second with an average rating of 32.2 and the Liberal Democrats a respectable third at 21.5.

continued... (2)

Blair made a pledge to the Iraqis once
The suffering of my people must not be conveniently forgotten now

Like so many others in this country I recently received a letter and a card from the Rt Hon Tony Blair. It read: "Enclosed is a summary of our pledges for you to review. We fulfilled every pledge in 1997 and 2001. If re-elected we will do so again."

continued... (1)


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Back to the Past

ZNet Commentary
The New Pope and Journalism’s Crisis of Faith
By Norman Solomon

The papacy of Benedict XVI confronts journalists with a key question: How much critical scrutiny is appropriate when a religious leader gains enormous power?

So far, most American media outlets seem to be walking on eggshells to avoid tough coverage of the new pope. Caution is in the air, and some of it is valid. Anti-Catholic bigotry has a long and ugly history in the United States. News organizations should stay away from disparaging the Catholic faith, which certainly deserves as much respect as any other religion.

At the same time, the Vatican is a massive global power. Though it has no army, it is more powerful than many governments. And in the present day, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church is the capital of political reaction garbed in religiosity. Many dividing lines between theology and ideology have virtually disappeared.

After more than two decades as a Vatican power broker, Joseph Ratzinger is now in charge as Pope Benedict XVI. He is extremely well-positioned to push a longstanding agenda that includes hostility toward AIDS prevention measures, women’s rights, gay rights and movements for social justice. No one in the hierarchy was more committed to stances like vehement opposition to condoms while millions of people contracted cases of AIDS that could have been prevented. And he has been the commander of the Vatican’s war on liberation theology.




The Return of Terror Fried Rice

[This article was susequently pulled by the Guardian:

Update: The Insider asked The Guardian newspaper why they removed the above article from their website, but they provided no explanation until we threatened to publicise the fact.

On 20 April 2005 we received a vague statement from The Guardian by email stating that the article was removed for "legal reasons":-

"I can tell you that the article The Ricin Ring That Never Was was removed from the archive for legal reasons."
-- Ian Mayes (Ian.Mayes@guardian.co.uk), Barbara Harper/Readers' Editor's office.]

April 15th
The Irish Times catches on and prints yesterday's Guardian article:

Scare stories about terrorist threat blown away

Evidence prosecution lawyers tried to link to Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in trials of terrorist suspects has been shown to be false, writes Duncan Campbell.

Colin Powell does not need more humiliation over the manifold errors in his February 2003 presentation to the United Nations. But on Wednesday a London jury brought down another section of the case he made for war - that Iraq and Osama bin Laden were supporting and directing terrorist poison cells throughout Europe, including a London ricin ring.

Wednesday's verdicts on five defendants, and the dropping of charges against four others, made it clear there was no ricin ring. Nor did the "ring" make or have ricin.

Not that the government shared that news with the British public. Until today, the public record for the past three fear-inducing years has been that ricin was found in the Wood Green flat occupied by some of Wednesday's acquitted defendants. It was not.


The Irish Times


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Just a suitcase and $20,000

Counting the dead in Iraq

In 2004 the US-based scientist Dr Les Roberts led a survey into deaths caused by the invasion of Iraq. His results showed that approximately 100,000 Iraqis had been killed after the invasion. He spoke to Joseph Choonara about his survey

Your research on mortality in Iraq, published in the prestigious Lancet journal, made headlines across the globe last November. What motivated you to conduct the survey?

This is about the ninth “hot war” I’ve worked in. In most wars people are killed more by disease and disruption than by bullets and bombs. But when I read the newspaper reports on the war, all I heard about were the bullets and bombs. I didn’t think the reports were describing the suffering of the Iraqis very well.

I thought it would serve the interests of Iraqis if I described what they were really dying of. So, if we found they were dying of diarrhoea we could do something about that.

If they were dying at home in childbirth because they were too scared to go to hospital, we could do something about that. Much to our surprise we found that these things weren’t what they were dying of. Most were dying violent deaths.

Tommy Franks from US Central Command told the press that the US army “don’t do body counts”, despite the duty of care the Geneva Convention imposes on occupying forces. You showed it is possible to make mortality estimates.

Absolutely. I was smuggled across the border into Iraq. I went with just a suitcase and $20,000 in my pocket. All it took was six Iraqis brave enough to do the survey.

During a war things are messy and the Geneva Convention imposes very few constraints. But during an occupation things are quite different.

As I understand it there are obligations for the occupying forces that are similar to the obligations of a police officer on the streets here towards the local population — to arrest them if they step out of line, but to protect them the rest of the time.

Most of the people killed by the coalition were women and children, which implies the use of a lot of force, and perhaps too much.


socialist worker


No more Aussies!

All our problems can be laid at the feet of immigrants!
Apparently not:

Conservatives use 'cheap' migrant leafleters

Eastern European migrants allegedly earning less than the legal minimum wage are delivering Conservative Party leaflets in a key marginal constituency.

Despite conducting a high-profile campaign calling for tough controls on immigration, the Tories are using a company employing low-paid foreigners to distribute campaign literature.

Staff delivering the leaflets in the prosperous Richmond Park constituency in south-west London claim they are earning £4 an hour - compared with the statutory minimum of £4.85.

Geoff Martin, a union organiser in south-west London, said the situation exposed the "rank hypocrisy" of the Conservative Party. "There they are, campaigning against immigration and the only way they can get election literature distributed is through an agency employing eastern Europeans, potentially earning less than the national minimum wage. The fact that they can't deliver their own literature, says a lot for the Conservative Party today. "

Sasha Srdanovic, a Yugoslav immigrant and distribution manager at London Letterbox, the company used by the Conservatives, confirmed that eastern Europeans had been employed.




Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Does the Resistance Target Civilians?

According to US Intel, Not Really
by: M. Junaid Alam on: 18th Apr, 05

The ceaseless demonization of Iraqis committed to ending foreign control of their country is a key ideological crutch for maintaining the American occupation. Smearing the armed resistance as a band of murderous thugs is well understood by American war planners to be a crucial part of effective counter-insurgency work. (1) Obviously, brutal and horrific attacks on Iraqi civilians have been carried out by some forces claiming to be a part of the resistance. But there is strong evidence from US government and independent intelligence data suggesting that this phenomenon has been wildly exaggerated and torn out of context, creating a false public perception that serves to prop up domestic support for the occupation.


Global Echo


Monday, April 18, 2005

It doesn't have to make sense...

it just has to sound good.

Mark Steyn has again managed to plummet off the radar to new depths in the art of making his predictibly standard issue US administration rhetoric arguments. In this case, he 'debates' the validity of the nomination of John Bolton for the position of UN Ambassador. Apparently a man without any positive attributes, if Mr. Steyn's piece is anything to go by. The technique employed by Mr. Steyn to fight Mr. Bolton's corner is not new to him, it is unfortunately the staple diet of any Steyn reader. Instead of making the case, that Mr. Bolton represents the best man for the job, he opts for the easier task of attacking those that criticise Mr. Bolton, thereby neither adressing the issue or providing any evidence for the man's suitability. So the Democrats get a bashing, Barbara Boxer gets a socking and our intelligence gets an insulting.

Since the 'great political commentator' Mr. Steyn cannot put togeather a defense or convincing proposal for Mr. Bolton's nomination, perhaps it might be appropriate to allow him to speak for himself. Mr John Bolton, in his own words:

“It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem
in our short-term interest to do so—because, over the long term,the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States.”

"[M]any Republicans in Congress--and perhaps a majority--not only do not care about losing the General Assembly vote but actually see it as a 'make my day' outcome. Indeed, once the vote is lost… this will simply provide further evidence to why nothing more should be paid to the UN system." The Washington Times, 1998

''If the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.''
1994 Global Structures Convocation, New York, NY.

“There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world and that is the United States when it suits our interest and we can get others to go along.''
1994 Global Structures Convocation, New York, NY.

General Assembly Resolutions and international conference declarations, (such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Agenda 21, and the Millennium Declaration) are “mind-numbing.”
Policy Review. Bring Back the Laxalt Doctrine, 2000.

"If I were redoing the Security Council today, I'd have one permanent member because that's the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world."
National Public Radio with Juan Williams, 2000.

"Support for the International Criminal Court concept is based largely on emotional appeals to an abstract ideal of an international judicial system."
Statement before the House International Relations Committee, 2000.


Just what the UN needs, a hip kind of guy

Opinion: Boy, this confirmation battle over John Bolton is really heating up, writes Mark Steyn.

Mr Bolton is the president's plain-spoken nominee for UN ambassador ("There is no such thing as the United Nations") and the Democrats in the US Senate are reluctant to confirm him for anything other than the title role in the next Incredible Hulk movie. Senator Barbara Boxer, the Democratic Party's comely California obstructionist, has charged that Bolton needs "anger management lessons".


The Irish Times


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Terror Fried Rice

Colin Powell and cohorts should have been unsubtley shamed by the recent verdict in the case of suspected terror plots in the UK. Their exploitation of the suspected plot, scaremongering the public into believing there was a massive posioning conspiracy, thouraghly foiled. The threat was said to represent only a drop in the ocean, when it came to what this worldwide organisation was capable of. It was used as yet another reason to invade Iraq, which at the time, was still linked to international terrorism by the US/UK governments and under the trusting eye of the media.

But even the rubbishing of the 'suspected' plot by the courts seems to have little effect on how the story is to be played out/relayed to the public. The Irish Times reports today, the same evidence that was brought up at the outset of the inquiry "Their objective was - in furtherance of their extremist Islamist cause - to commit acts of terrorism in the UK, by use of poisons such as ricin and cyanide, and by use of explosives," prosecutor Nigel Sweeney told London's Old Bailey court. Even though the relavancy of this might be lost on most. What is not mentioned is that "after police discovered a suspected chemical weapons lab in a north London apartment and launched a countrywide sweep" (1) there was no chemical weapons found, not even poisons.

The government have apparently not been proven wrong, the man obviously was a danger, since he did murder someone. However he and the other aquited men were not the threat they were hyped to be. [Gareth Peirce, the solicitor for four men found not guilty in the trial, called on the government to justify some of its claims. "There was never any ricin, there were no poisons made. There seems to be a pathetic, clumsy, amateurish attempt to make some by a man who was conceded, I think by all, to be a difficult, anti-social loner," she said. "But I think one also has to consider how was it that all of us in this country were allowed to believe that there was ricin. That there was a substantial plot. That it wasn't an individualist, tiny, failed attempt."] (2)

The Irish Times choosing though, to linger on the loosest part of the judgement, "The jury confirmed the essential thrust of the prosecution that there was a terrorist conspiracy aimed at the UK." A less inflamatory lead would have been "The jury also confirmed that none of the other men suspected represented any threat to society."

Therefore the government has been free to use this single incident to "cast a slur on all asylum seekers and immigrants." Shaping the way for future public fear manipultaion.

The actual recipes the man possessed for posions were readily available to anyone with access to a computer.

"However, the distinguishing characteristic of the recipe for ricin, including the one cited in the terror trial, is the ratio of acetone used to wash the weight of castor seeds. It is -four to one-, a marking characteristic of its origin in American sources. Kurt Saxon, originally published it in a pamphlet called "The Weaponeer" in 1984. (Currently it can be found in Saxon's "The Poor Man's James Bond," Vol. 3," 1988.)"

"GlobalSecurity became aware of the trial of Bourgas and others as it proceeded. Senior Fellow George Smith, Ph.D., was consulted by an expert witness and scientist for the defense lawyers on the nature and provenance of ricin and other allegedly poisonous recipes seized for the case. Relevant materials from Saxon and Hutchkinson originals were also furnished.

It was the British prosecution's aim to link the "UK poison cell" to al Qaida by associating its ricin and poisons recipes with documents of Afghan -- read al Qaida -- origin. It cited three documents of interest: the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" seized in an information gathering raid in Manchester in 2000, notes found in English and Russian in Kabul in 2001 and notes found in Kabul, written in Arabic, also in 2001.! (3)

"The trial of the infamous "UK poison cell," a group portrayed by Secretary of State Powell as al Qaida-associated operatives plotting to launch ricin attacks in the United Kingdom and in league with Muhamad al Zarqawi in Iraq, found nothing of the sort. The jury did find "the UK poison cell," known as Kamel Bourgas and others (Sidali Faddag, Samir Asli, Mouloud Bouhrama, Mustapha Taleb, Mouloud Sihali, Aissa Kalef), not guilty of conspiracy to murder by plotting ricin attacks and, generally speaking, not guilty of conspiracy to do anything. Kamel Bourgas had been previously convicted of murder of a British policeman in an unpublicized trial."

Martin Pearce -- leader of the Biological Weapon Identification Group at Porton Down, had finished lab tests which indicated the ricin finding was a false positive. "Subsequent confirmatory tests on the material from the pestle and mortar did not detect the presence of ricin. It is my opinion therefore that toxins are not detectable in the pestle and mortar," wrote Pearce in one document.

"The alleged existence of ricin and "the UK poison cell" in January 2003 would subsequently play a part of Colin Powell's presentation as rationale for war against Iraq. In his speech to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003, Powell purported to show how a web of terrorists including the UK cell, was interconnected with Muhamad al Zarqawi, who was said to be directing terrorist plots from the safe refuge of Iraq."

The Guardian tells it with a dash of common sense:

"Yesterday's verdicts on five defendants and the dropping of charges against four others make clear there was no ricin ring. Nor did the "ricin ring" make or have ricin. Not that the government shared that news with us. Until today, the public record for the past three fear-inducing years has been that ricin was found in the Wood Green flat occupied by some of yesterday's acquitted defendants. It wasn't."

[The most ironic twist was an attempt to introduce an "al-Qaida manual" into the case. The manual - called the Manual of the Afghan Jihad - had been found on a raid in Manchester in 2000. It was given to the FBI to produce in the 2001 New York trial for the first attack on the World Trade Centre. But it wasn't an al-Qaida manual. The name was invented by the US department of justice in 2001, and the contents were rushed on to the net to aid a presentation to the Senate by the then attorney general, John Ashcroft, supporting the US Patriot Act.

To show that the Jihad manual was written in the 1980s and the period of the US-supported war against the Soviet occupation was easy. The ricin recipe it contained was a direct translation from a 1988 US book called the Poisoner's Handbook, by Maxwell Hutchkinson.

We have all been victims of this mass deception. I do not doubt that Bourgass would have contemplated causing harm if he was competent to do so. But he was an Islamist yobbo on his own, not an Al Qaida-trained superterrorist. An Asbo might be appropriate.] (4)

1. The Irish Times
2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4441993.stm
3. http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/nsn/nsn-050411.htm
4. Duncan Campbell is an investigative writer and a scientific expert witness on computers and telecommunications. He is author of War Plan UK and is not the Guardian journalist of the same name


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Truth in permanent care

"They keep telling us that in war truth is the first casualty, which is nonsense since it implies that in times of peace truth stays out of the sick bay or the graveyard." (Alexander Cockburn)

In the media, an embedded journalist is a one who works within and under the control of one side's army in a military conflict. (1)

The purpose of this recent change in war reporting is purported to be, for the safety of journalists and for better access to otherwise restricted zones.

The BBC explains their view on this change: "The relationship between the military and the media has always been uneasy, due mainly to the fact that each has sharply differing aims. While the military sees propaganda as a weapon in itself, a journalist's role is to cut through the half-truths and report both sides of the story."

One would expect those aims to be:
Media: Report the facts, as bias free as possible.
Military: To do the required task set out by it's superiors, as efficiently as possible.

"In the Vietnam war, the tie was stretched to breaking point, with Washington blaming reporters for fuelling anti-war protests. The backlash came in the form of heavy restrictions being slapped on journalists - hence the tight controls in the last Gulf War."

Therefore, in reporting, the media found themselves relaying the horrors of war to a population who considered themselves acclimatized to violence, by years of 'Hollywood' gore, shocked to find that the reality of death to be a 'little' more provocative. They were, obviously from a military stand point, preferred to be kept, eyes closed and fingers in ears.

While embedding simply means, in essence, that the journalist avails of military protection as long as no information that would indanger the lives of troops would be disclosed, it amounts to much more than this.

"While the policy is said to be the brainchild of the Pentagon, British forces have gone along with it. In the US, many reporters were packed off to "boot camps" in the weeks leading up to the war."
Here that very conflict that suposedly sparked tensions during Vietnam is tackled head on by the 'military machine'. The Pentagon decides journalists are better off working closely with the military. No conflict here then.

The BBC's Van Klaveren says the military has maintained a light touch on reporters.
However "There has been no censorship and reporters are not required to submit scripts before broadcast. There are, however, a couple of golden rules - journalists cannot give specific details of locations or outline the future plans of their unit."

What kind of 'touch', is not made clear.

The idea "that the mere fact journalists are so enmeshed with the military makes it difficult for them to think objectively. If your safety is in the hands of soldiers, the argument goes, you will be unwilling to criticise them" is dismissed saying that the teams are "professional enough to maintain independence."

Although "He concedes that if life gets more difficult for the US-led forces, this will put an extra strain on journalists. But if restrictions are imposed, audiences will be told."
How difficult conditions would have to get is not made clear, but evidently there will be a press release once reporting gets censored.

"You know what I saw in El Salvador. A lot of the reporters down there would hang out at the Camino Real Hotel, which is right down the street from the Embassy. And they would not dare say anything that would piss off anyone at the Embassy, because then the Embassy would cut them off from their scoops. You see they would loose their contacts. So they really have to nurture relationships with these power holders and if they do anything without clearing it with them, then they are subject to be squeezed out, and eventually throws their career off track. So it doesn't work like from the top down, it's very systemic."
(From an interview with Stan Goff, a retired US army veteran who taught Military Science and Doctrine at West Point.)

Question: And from what little we can get from the media currently, do you think they are accurately portraying what is happening with...?

Stan Goff: (laughter) The media has never accurately portrayed a military operation as long as I've been involved with this stuff. I've never seen an accurate portrayal to this day, not one. But then again I've never seen an accurate portrayal by the military public affairs officers either. The public is kept pretty much in the dark about how military operations are really conducted and what may be going on now and I think we are all being kept deeply in the dark about Afghanistan right now. I strongly suspect that the collateral damage as they call it is far worse than they are going to allow anyone to know. And it's a dumb operation. It's just not a very smart operation in a lot of ways. I think it's comparable in many respects to Somalia. (3)

"Since the start of the 2003 War on Iraq, there have been 13 incidents involving the killing of journalists by US soldiers. All the journalists who have been killed were "unembedded" journalists. No journalist employed by mainstream media such as the BBC or CNN have been killed or abducted in Iraq...
...The US role in preventing independent news from reaching the public has been widely reported since the invasion of Iraq. Independent journalists were nowhere to see in Iraq, and most of them have been forced to leave the country. The killing of the Italian intelligent agent Nicola Calipari and injuring of Giuliana Sgrena, the award-winning war reporter with the progressive Italian daily newspaper Il Manifesto, by US forces is a case in point..." (5)

Evidence enough that reporters embedded with the US/UK forces are safer than those who choose to stay un-embedded. "This may well be due to the/their [understandable] reticence/reluctance to telling uncomfortable news of war crimes committed by the invader/occupier forces.

Would you agree, that when journalists are 'in bed' with aggressive war criminals the truth is certainly the first casualty of that war?" (4)

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embedded
2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2885179.stm
3. medialens


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Sweet smell of success?

Drugs, Bases and Jails
By Tom Engelhardt
TomDispatch (Monday 04 April 2005)

"If Iraq has been the disaster zone of Bush foreign policy, Afghanistan is still generally thought of as its success story -- to the extent that anyone in our part of the world thinks about that country at all any more. Before the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan experienced a relative flood of American attention. It was, after all, the liberation moment. Possibly the most regressive and repressive regime on Earth had just bitten the dust. The first blow had been struck against the 9/11 attackers. The media rushed in -- and they were in a celebratory mood."



[The last wash of Afghan news came when, after a year of planning, Laura Bush made it there for six hours last week to "offer support for Afghan women in their struggle for greater rights," to meet President Hamid Karzai, and to have a meal with American troops at Bagram Air Base. (Headlines were of the "Laura Bush Pledges More Aid for Afghanistan," "Laura Bush in Afghanistan to Back Women's Education," "First Lady Drops in on Afghanistan" variety.) Standing next to an Afghan woman, shovel in hand, she also had her picture taken and disseminated in the American press. The caption in my hometown paper says she was "posing for a photograph at a women's dorm at Kabul University and planting a tree." As a photo, nationalities aside, it might easily have graced the pages of Soviet Life magazine and come from a distant imperial era.]

[When you begin to look around, you quickly find that just about everyone -- Bush proponents and critics alike -- seems to agree on at least some of the following when it comes to the experiment in "democracy" in Afghanistan: The country now qualifies, according to the Human Development Index in the UN's Human Development Report 2004, as the sixth worst off country on Earth, perched just above five absolute basket-case nations (Burundi, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Sierra Leone) in sub-Saharan Africa. The power of the new, democratically elected government of Hamid Karzai extends only weakly beyond the outskirts of Kabul. Large swathes of Afghanistan are still ruled by warlords and drug lords, or in some cases undoubtedly warlord/drug lords; and while the Taliban was largely swept away, armed militias dominate much of the country as they did after the Soviet withdrawal back in 1989. In addition, a low-level guerrilla war is still being run by elements of the former Taliban regime for which, in areas of the South, there is a growing "nostalgia."

Women, outside a few cities, seem hardly better off than they were under the Taliban. As Sonali Kolhatkar, co-Director of the Afghan Women's Mission, told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!:

"We hear… about [how] five million girls are now going to school. It is wonderful. When I was in Afghanistan, I noticed that in Kabul, certainly schools were open, women were walking around fairly openly with not as much fear. Outside of Kabul, where 80% of Afghans reside, totally different situation. There are no schools. I visited the Farah province, which is a very isolated, remote province in western Afghanistan and there were no schools except for the one school that Afghan Women's Mission is funding that is administered by our allies, the members of RAWA. Aside from that one school for girls, there are no schools in the region. And so we hear all of these very superficial things about how great Afghan women are, you know, the progress they're making. The U.N. just released a report recently on Afghanistan where they described Afghanistan's education system as, quote, 'the worst in the world.' And, you know, we never hear that. Our media, when they covered Laura Bush's trip, will not mention, will not do their homework, and will not mention these facts."]


Slim to none

What are your TRUE chances of getting rich?

To answer this question we first have to define "rich". In The super-rich, the 'plain' rich, the 'poorest' rich...and everyone else I explain how and why I conclude that a household or family with an annual income at least ten times that of the average-- with no one in the family actually working to make it-- qualifies as rich in America today.

So the basement income to qualify as 'rich' will here be considered to be $400,000 in annual income that'll come in regardless of whether anyone in the family is holding a paying job or not.

As pointed out in The super-rich, the 'plain' rich, the 'poorest' rich... even winning the maximum prizes available in high-profile sweepstakes like the Publisher's Clearinghouse won't get you into the 'rich' category without still more large gobs of luck to go with it. Some winners may find themselves in worse financial shape a few years after winning than they were before! And prestigious awards like the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer, or MacArthur Foundation Award fall even shorter in regards to propelling winners into the 'rich' class.

Inheritance of wealth is by far your best bet. Flip side? If you have no such prospects your chances of ever attaining riches dims substantially.

More than 50% of everyone qualifying as rich today basically inherited their wealth. So if you have a rich relative who really really likes you (and is considerably older than you), you may have a shot there.



Friday, April 08, 2005

Gap for dissent

"Is mainstream media free fair and objective?"

Nowadays, this radical press has all but disappeared from the world of mainstream media and the vast majority of our information is controlled by a tiny number of powerful individuals. Noam Chomsky has famously argued that in our current society the mass media operates according to a "propaganda model" where the mass media produces information that passes through a number of filters, which all serve to shape information to the needs of the powerful.

Order of speakers:
Vincent Browne
Ciaran Moore
Jack Byrne
Sean O'Siochrú
Harry Browne

Overwhelming answer: "NO! so its up to all of us to create and keep creating the global alternative media"

Vincent Browne::
Opened and talked about the issue of mainstream media, is it "free fair and objective"-
He made reference to Noam Chomsky and then went on to say how Irish mainstream media was controlled by one man- Tony O`Reilly
He talked about the rising level of corporate control over the journalistic duty to tell the truth, how a target audience is desired by the Irish times and how the paper is directed to their interests- category 1-2 of the market, was how i think he referred to the market- upper- middle class, mostly southside Dublin.
Filtration of the news was an issue he talked about and how certain stories got over talked about (Brian Murphy case)
He also talked about how libel affects the limits to which journalists can push things, he himself has been sued and was threatened with all his property to be taken away if he followed a certain direction.
He outlined how Dermot Desmond, one of Irelands most powerful in the corporate world, is not allowed to be mentioned within the Times, at one point saying that even the name Denis Desmond was not to be used as such a close ring.
Eircom and the Beef tribunal were also talked about.
Vincent finished by outlining the diversionary tacticts used by the media to focus on the violence surrounding mayday protests as opposed to examining the issues that were being protested about and how he supported the protestors in their outlining all that is wrong with the direction the EU is going.




Newspeak 101

It is over a month now since those Iraqis that forsook the relative safety of their homes, attempting to register their vote in an election fraught with major problems (understatement of the year), hoping to secure independence for a country that has long suffered at the hands of cruel dictators propped up by foreign powers. However, the pounding of the ballot box calling for coalition withdrawl has been comprehensively supressed by many, if not all, national newspapers. Today, Iraq's first "democratically" elected government in more than 50 years will devote themselves "to preserv[ing] the independence and sovereignty of Iraq and to preserv[ing] its democratic and federal system," while at the same time backing "the US military presence in Iraq" against the democratic wishes of it's people. The obvious hypocrisy negated the need for further comment from The Irish Times, however, the dead cannot speak for themselves. 100,000 and counting. What's the exchange rate on human life for truth
these days?

Fuck it, who cares

"I did not think so at first. But the U.S. is incredibly dependent on oil," news agency TT quoted Blix as saying at a security seminar in Stockholm. "They wanted to secure oil in case competition on the world market becomes too hard." Hans Blix


"The family was all carrying white flags, as instructed, according to the young man who gave his testimony. Yet he watched his mother and father shot by snipers-his mother in the head and his father shot in the heart. His two aunts were shot, then his brother was shot in the neck. The man stated that when he raised himself from the ground to shout for help, he was shot in the side." Reported by Dahr Jamail

"The death toll from the highly toxic weapons component known as depleted uranium (DU) has reached 11,000 soldiers and the growing scandal may be the reason behind Anthony Principi?s departure as secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department."


Response to:

Jaafari nominated prime minister as Iraq's president is sworn in

IRAQ: Islamist Shia Ibrahim Jaafari was named as Iraq's next prime minister yesterday, moving the country a step closer to its first democratically elected government in more than 50 years.

Mr Jaafari announced his own nomination shortly after Iraq's new president, Kurdish former guerrilla leader Jalal Talabani, was sworn into office in parliament, along with two deputies.

"Today represents a big step forward for Iraq and a big responsibility for me," said Mr Jaafari, who spent more than two decades opposing Saddam Hussein from exile. His appointment to the most powerful post under the interim constitution had long been agreed in principle but was delayed by weeks of bargaining over other jobs among the Shia and Kurdish groups that dominate the parliament elected on January 30th.


The Irish Times


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Double Standards

Dear Madam,

The Irish Times has several times now referred to the recent elections in Iraq as 'democratic'. For instance in today's edition one is informed that "Iraq will get its first democratically elected president today" echoing the sentiment of Mark Steyn who wrote "Now, a legitimate, freely and democratically elected government deriving its powers from the consent of the governed is in Baghdad," in his article suposedly dismissing many of what he called Iraq's 'myths'.

This however poses the question as to why the recent elections in Iraq, under military occupation, are reported in a different manner to those reported in yesterday's Times.

Robert Mugabe's re-election was described using quotes by the South African observer mission and the regional Southern African Development Community observer mission who oversaw the election. They described the election results as encapsulating "the will of the people," although "neither group was willing to describe the election as free and fair." More than likely with good reason. It is noted that the elections were not referred to as democratic.

It comes as no surpirse that the very next day elections endorsed by the US, UK and subsequently The Irish Times were reported to have produced Iraq's "first democratically elected president today." While at the same time describing the voting process as such: "Meanwhile, frustration is growing among ordinary Iraqis who braved suicide bombs and threats from militants to register their vote."

The questioned remains, half answered, can elections be described as democratic if they are neither free nor fair?

Yours sincerely,

In response to:

Kurd may be selected today as new president of Iraq

IRAQ: Iraq will get its first democratically elected president today if the veteran Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani is approved by the national assembly.


The Irish Times

Mugabe to use majority to rewrite constitutionBill Corcoran in Johannesburg

ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe will use his party's newly acquired two-thirds majority in parliament to reinstate most of the provisions of a draft constitution rejected in a national referendum in February 2000.

The Irish Times


Monday, April 04, 2005

Television is not the truth!

Television is a goddamned amusement park!

Nelson Chaney: All I know is that this violates every canon of respectable broadcasting.
Hackett: We're not a respectable network. We're a whorehouse network, and we have to take whatever we can get.
Nelson Chaney: Well, I don't want any part of it! I don't fancy myself the president of a whorehouse.
Hackett: That's very commendable of you, Nelson. Your indignation is duly noted; now, sit down.

Why media ownership matters

By Amy Goodman and David Goodman

George Bush must have been delighted to learn from a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll that 56 percent of Americans still think Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the start of the war, while six in 10 said they believe Iraq provided direct support to the al-Qaida terrorist network — notions that have long since been thoroughly debunked by everyone from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee to both of Bush's handpicked weapons inspectors, Charles Duelfer and David Kay.

Americans believe these lies not because they are stupid, but because they are good media consumers. Our media have become an echo chamber for those in power. Rather than challenge the fraudulent claims of the Bush administration, we've had a media acting as a conveyor belt for the government's lies.

As the Pentagon has learned, deploying the American media is more powerful than any bomb. The explosive effect is amplified as a few pro-war, pro-government media moguls consolidate their grip over the majority of news outlets. Media monopoly and militarism go hand in hand.

When it comes to issues of war and peace, the results of having a compliant media are as deadly to our democracy as they are to our soldiers. Why do the corporate media cheerlead for war? One answer lies in the corporations themselves — the ones that own the major news outlets.

At the time of the first Persian Gulf War, CBS was owned by Westinghouse and NBC by General Electric. Two of the major nuclear weapons manufacturers owned two of the major networks. Westinghouse and GE made most of the parts for many of the weapons in the Persian Gulf War. It was no surprise, then, that much of the coverage on those networks looked like a military hardware show.


The Seattle Times

American Media...

You wake up in the morning. Brush your teeth. Splash the sleep out of your eyes and head for the kitchen for a cup of coffee or tea and whatever is available for breakfast.

You wander to the living room and search for the remote control. It is in its usual place- stuck inexplicably between the sofa cushions. You turn on the television and stand there flipping from one channel to the other, looking for a news brief or something that will sum up what happened during those six hours you slept. You finally settle on the pleasant face on the screen- the big hair, bright power suit, capped teeth and colorful talons- blandly reading the news. The anchoress is Julie Chan. The program is CBS’s The Early Show (Live from Fifth Avenue!).

Guess the nationality of the viewer above. Three guesses. American? No. Canadian? No. British? Japanese? Australian? No, no and no. The viewer is Iraqi… or Jordanian… or Lebanese… or Syrian… or Saudi… or Kuwaiti… or… but you get the picture.

Two years ago, the major part of the war in Iraq was all about bombarding us with smart bombs and high-tech missiles. Now there’s a different sort of war- or perhaps it’s just another phase of the same war. Now we’re being assailed with American media. It’s everywhere all at once.
It began with radio stations like Voice of America which we could access even before the war.

After the war, there were other radio stations- ones with mechanical voices that told us to put down our weapons and remain inside our homes, ones that fed us American news in an Iraqi dialect and ones that just played music. With satellite access we are constantly listening to American music and watching American sitcoms and movies. To be fair- it’s not just Iraq that is being targeted- it’s the whole region and it’s all being done very cleverly.




Friday, April 01, 2005

Broccoli Watch

(Ensuring your Broccoli isn't genetically altered to watch you)

David McConnell Professor of Genetics at TCD and also head of the Irish Times Trust spoke yesterday (31/3/05) on Primetime. On which, he defended the introduction of genetically modified crops into Ireland on several grounds. Firstly, because they have better resistance to pests etc. Secondly, that they were essential to food supply in the developing world and lastly that when introduced in the US they were held to be publically accountable and still went ahead, "proving" the legitimacy of these claims.

Due to the fact that a handful of corporations (Monsanto, Syngenta, Aventis, Dow, Dupont) control agricultural biotechnology and inturn the patent monopolies over GM seeds and plants, farmers who "choose" to use GM seeds and subsequently those consumers sold the resulting crops become, in essense, controlled by those corporations.

The arguments presented for defense would be admirable, if they stood up to the facts. In relation to feeding the developing world, there are several problems that make this argument more than suspicious. One of these problems is that seeds provided to farmers will produce only one crop. The seeds produced in this season cannot be re-used, forcing the farmer to purchase more seeds. The so called "suicide seeds" were greeted by public outrage in 1988 when Monsanto, the company which developed the technology, was forced to back down when activists and scientists around the world warned of possible wild crop sterilisation through contamination.

However, recently a document leaked to the ETC Group (an international research and advocacy organisation) reveals that Canada is going to the UN to promote "terminator" technology. A fancy new term for "suicide seeds" which was formed I suspect to identify with "the kids", bascially genetically engineered seeds designed to grow crops which can't reproduce. These "suicide seeds," designed solely to protect the patents and profits of multinational corporations, are currently forbidden from being planted outside the lab. (4)

Those that are attempting to foward the use of GM seeds and plants in Europe and Ireland more often than not use the tatic of demanding evidence of any detrimental effects to the environment from those who oppose it. That GM seeds maybe harmful or, in the event of their use, cause an irreversible effect on the environment is beside the point.

This is possibly the most confusing argument one could offer. "I have something that may be very harmful to you, I plan to use it, unless you can prove it to scientifically and categorically dangerous." It has been made the reposibility of those opposed to GM seeds being used in their country, due the possible risks to the environment and therefore humans, to produce evidence that the seeds are unsafe. The usual, although not universal, law of companies producing evidence proving the safety of their products, before government approval, apparently does not apply.

If this logic were to follow, any pharmacutical company could demand the right to test their drugs on a public, unless said public can produce evidence that those drugs will affect them adversely. Hence, GM companies wish to study the general public, with little opposition from the media, in an experiment that may be impossible to end.

'We were told it was progress,' Arnold Taylor, a 60-year-old Canadian farmer, told me. 'And now we're trapped in a giant experiment over which we have no control. The British government should look to Canada. Once you open the door to GM, you may never be able to close it.' (6)

Recent study's report that approximately 58% of American's claim to have never eaten GM food, however the fact is that almost all American's have at some time or regularly eat GM food. Obviously unbeknownst to them.

GM crops are being marketed as a cure for world hunger due to their resistance to pest infection and their higher yeilds.

Most of the current acreage under GM crops is planted with first generation GM crops based on herbicide resistance or the introduction of Bt. toxin genes for pest control. Herbicide resistant genes allow higher tolerance to herbicides, therefore increased herbicide is needed. This does not increase crop yields.

Increased yield from genetically engineered crops is the most important argument used by the genetic engineering industry. However, genetic engineering has actually led to a decline in yields. Yield trials carried out at the University of Wiscousin on soya bean. Found that genetically engineered soya beans had 4 percent lower yields than conventional varieties. Based on data collected in the 12 states that grow 80 percent of U.S. soya.

As the world's third largest producer of cotton, the Indian government bowed to the interests of multinational companies and allowed the introduction of GM crops. The cotton yields resulting from this venture have been dramatically less than promised in the first year of planting. With several major effects, one being that India's vital textile industry could suffer if the prices of locally-grown cotton prove uncompetitive. (8)

"In the first few months the farmers were delighted with the crop since it grew fast and looked healthy. Most satisfying was that the leaves were not being eaten by worms.
Unfortunately, in the fourth month, the Bt cotton stopped growing and producing new buds while the existing cotton bolls did not get any bigger. The crop then wilted and dried up at the peak bolling stage. This was accompanied by leaf-drooping and shedding."

Subsequently, about 200 farmers committed suicide.

The cotton failure has cost the farming industry a total loss of approximately twenty million euro. The law states that any company that provides poor quality seeds, the performance of which does not match the claims made by the company, is to be held liable for the failure of the variety. Despite this, Monsanto has refused to acknowledge the failure or provide any compensation to the farmers. (1)

GM crops are not giving increased yields in farmers fields. Yields have declined by 50 to 60 percent. The higher yields only exist in falsified corporate generated data.

Second generation crops are being sold as the future for increasing nutrition, these have also failed in to stand up to scientific scrutiny in this regard.

Under the Indo-Swiss Technology Transfer agreement for vitamin A rice (golden rice), genetically engineered rice produces 70 times less vitamin A than other sources of food.
Vitamin A is essential to human good health.

"Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and raises the risk of disease and death from severe infections. In pregnant women VAD causes night blindness and may increase the risk of maternal mortality. Vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem in 118 countries, especially in Africa and South-East Asia, once again hitting hardest young children and pregnant women in low-income countries." (3)

If genetically engineered crops were aimed at feeding the hungry, the Monsanto and the others would be developing seeds with certain predictable characteristics:

(a) ability to grow on substandard or marginal soils;
(b) plants able to produce more high-quality protein, with increased per-acre yield, without increasing the need for expensive machinery, chemicals, fertilisers, or water;
(c) they would aim to favour small farms over larger farms;
(d)the seeds would be cheap and freely available without restrictive licensing; and
(e) they would be for crops that feed people, not meat animals. (5)

Vandana Shiva, an environmental campaigner, described why the GM cotton is a bad idea for India: "In the US, cotton growers only choose GM varieties under duress. Farmers are not totally free. In the US they are totally under corporate control."

In 1992, the FDA (The US Food and Drug Administration) ruled that GM crops are “substantially equivalent” to crops obtained with traditional breeding techniques and therefore do not need to be approved (unless the transferred genes are known to induce a human allergen). This ruling of “substantial equivalence” is highly contested by many prominent biologists, including professors at MIT and Harvard, as well as scientists within the FDA itself. In 1992, for example, Dr. Louis J. Pribyl of the FDA’s Microbiology Group warned (in an internal memo uncovered in a lawsuit filed) that there is “a profound difference between the types of expected effects from traditional breeding and genetic engineering.”

Under this ruling the FDA does not require any mandatory pre-market safety testing of the GM crops. Prominent biologists argue that the genetic alteration of food should at least go through the same safety and toxicological tests required of all “food additives.” This would require testing for such things as unknown allergens, novel toxins and changes in nutritional content. In favor of the bio-tech industry, though, the FDA continues to refuse to make these basic tests mandatory.

The FDA also does not require that GM crops are labeled denying consumers the freedom of choice in the market place. Opinion poll after opinion poll, including one performed by the FDA itself, has consistently shown that the American public overwhelmingly (by 70-90%) wants GM crops to be labeled. (7)

The fact that many Americans believe they are GM free is not so unbelievable.

1. http://www.planorganic.com/india_talk_pavitra.htm
2. http://zmagsite.zmag.org/Apr2003/shiva0403.html
3. http://www.who.int/nut/vad.htm
4. Greenpeace
5. http://www.marxist.com/scienceandtech/genetic_engineering.html
6. http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=1394
7. http://web.mit.edu/thistle/www/v13/4/food.html
8. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1897049.stm