Thursday, January 31, 2008

Europe: Right-Wing Extremists Form Umbrella Party

" ... it was 'nauseating that the Who's Who of European extreme rightists would meet together at Strache's invitation in the Austrian parliament.' ... "

FPÖ to help form pan-European right-wing umbrella party
Wiener Zeitung

FPÖ General Secretary Harald Vilimsky has said that the FPÖ and other right-wing parties, including the Belgian Vlaams Belang, will form a new party to be called "The Patriotic European Party" as an umbrella party for national right-wing parties.

He added that FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache would hold a joint press conference with leaders of right-wing parties in Belgium, Bulgaria and France on Friday afternoon to provide more information about the new party.

Those leaders would include Wolen Siderov, the chairman of the Bulgarian party Ataka, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, Frank Vanhecke, the chairman of the Belgian Vlaams Belang, and Bruno Gollnisch from the recently-dissolved right-wing ITS faction in the European Parliament.

Vilimsky denied that there was any link between establishment of the new party and the 2009 elections for the European Parliament. He added, however, that the new party would run a list in that election if joint lists were allowed.

At the press conference, Strache declared that the new party would be neither rightist nor leftist and that its supporters would fight against being smeared with the label of right-wing extremism.

Strache added that the basis for the new party would be the so-called "Vienna clarification" of November, 2005. It rejected Turkish EU membership and the new EU constitution and called for "the creation of a Europe of free and independent states in the framework of an alliance of sovereign, national states."

In response, BZÖ General Secretary Gerald Grosz charged that Strache was leading the FPÖ into "an extreme-right corner," which left the BZÖ as "the only reasonable alternative to the right of center" in Austria.

Grosz added that it was "nauseating that the Who's Who of European extreme rightists would meet together at Strache's invitation in the Austrian parliament." The BZÖ, Grosz claimed, would clearly distance itself from such people.

The BZÖ general secretary was particularly caustic about the presence of Le Pen and Gollnisch, whom he called "admitted right-wing extremists and fascists."

In conclusion, Grosz said that "the only thing lacking is the presence of the Viking Youth to guard the hall (in parliament) where the meeting is to take place."

Strache was present at a Viking Youth event in Germany some years ago. The group was banned in that country on November 10, 1994 for its extremist right-wing views.

SPÖ Europe spokeswoman Elisabeth Grossman added that the formation of "an anti-European and nationalistically-oriented Europe party is completely absurd and contradictory.

"The project of European integration is based on friendly cooperation among EU member states and is unequivocally opposed to nationalist endeavours"

Greens' MEP Johannes Voggenhuber found something positive in the news. "The game of hide-and-seek in domestic politics has come to an end. The FPÖ has publicly declared what it stands for: the extreme-right, nationalist and anti-European fringe."

Voggenhuber added that he reckoned with the early demise of the new party since "a pan-European party of aggressive nationalists is a contradiction in terms."

Berkeley Council Tells Marines to Leave

By Doug Oakley
Contra Costa Times

Hey-hey, ho-ho, the Marines in Berkeley have got to go.

That's the message from the Berkeley City Council, which voted 6-3 Tuesday night to tell the U.S. Marines that its Shattuck Avenue recruiting station "is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders."

In addition, the council voted to explore enforcing its law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against the Marines because of the military's don't ask, don't tell policy. And it officially encouraged the women's peace group Code Pink to impede the work of the Marines in the city by protesting in front of the station.

In a separate item, the council voted 8-1 to give Code Pink a designated parking space in front of the recruiting station once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week from noon to 4 p.m.
Councilman Gordon Wozniak opposed both items.

The Marines have been in Berkeley for a little more than a year, having moved from Alameda in December of 2006. For about the past four months, Code Pink has been protesting in front of the station.

"I believe in the Code Pink cause. The Marines don't belong here, they shouldn't have come here, and they should leave," said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates after votes were cast.

A Marines representative did not respond to requests for comment.

The resolution telling the Marines they are unwelcome and directing the city attorney to explore issues of sexual orientation discrimination was brought to the council by the city's Peace and Justice commission.

The recommendation to give Code Pink a parking space for protesting and a free sound permit was brought by council members Linda Maio and Max Anderson.

Code Pink on Wednesday started circulating petitions to put a measure on the November ballot in Berkeley that would make it more difficult to open military recruiting offices near homes, parks, schools, churches libraries or health clinics. The group needs 5,000 signatures to make the ballot.

Even though the council items passed, not everyone is happy with the work of Code Pink. Some employees and owners of businesses near the Marines office have had enough of the group and its protests.

"My husband's business is right upstairs, and this (protesting) is bordering on harassment," Dori Schmidt told the council. "I hope this stops."

An employee of a nearby business who asked not to be identified said Wednesday the elderly Code Pink protesters are aggressive, take up parking spaces, block the sidewalk with their yoga moves, smoke in the doorways, and are noisy.

"Most of the people around here think they're a joke," the woman said.
Wozniak said he was opposed to giving Code Pink a parking space because it favors free speech rights of one group over another.

"There's a line between protesting and harassing, and that concerns me," Wozniak said. "It looks like we are showing favoritism. We have to respect the other side, and not abuse their rights. This is not good policy."

Ninety-year-old Fran Rachel, a Code Pink protester who spoke at the council meeting, said the group's request for a parking space and noise permit was especially important because the Marines are recruiting soldiers who may die in an unjust war.

"This is very serious," Rachel said. "This isn't a game; it's mass murder. There's a sickness of silence of people not speaking out against the war. We have to do this."

Anderson, a former Marine who said he was "drummed out" of the corps when he took a stand against the Vietnam War, said he'd love to see the Marines high tale it out of town.

"We are confronted with an organization that can spend billions of dollars on propaganda," Anderson said. "This is not Okinawa here; we're involved in a naked act of aggression. If we can provide a space for ordinary people to express themselves against this kind of barbarity, then we should be doing i

Bush Orders NSA to Snoop on US Agencies


Cyber attack fear used to expand spy grid

By Ashlee Vance in Mountain View
27th January 2008

Not content with spying on other countries, the NSA (National Security Agency) will now turn on the US's own government agencies thanks to a fresh directive from president George Bush.

Under the new guidelines, the NSA and other intelligence agencies can bore into the internet networks of all their peers. The Bush administration pulled off this spy expansion by pointing to an increase in the number of cyber attacks directed against the US, possibly from foreign nations. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will spearhead the effort around identifying the source of these attacks, while the Department of Homeland Security and Pentagon will concentrate on retaliation.

The Washington Post appears to have broken the news about the new Bush-led joint directive, which remains classified. The paper reported that the directive - National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 - was signed on Jan. 8. Earlier reports from the Baltimore Sun documented the NSA's plans to add US spying to its international snooping duties.

The new program will - of course - drains billions of dollars out of US coffers and be part of Bush's 2009 budget.

During Bush's presidency, US citizens have come under an unprecedented spying regime. In addition to upping its focus on suspected criminals, the administration permitted a system for wiretapping the phone calls of Average Joes and Janes. The government is also funding specialized computers from companies such as Cray that can search through enormous databases at incredible speed. Ah, if only Stalin could see us now.

The government points to cyber attacks against the State, Commerce, Defense and Homeland Security departments as the impetus for expanding the NSA's powers. "U.S. officials and cyber-security experts have said Chinese Web sites were involved in several of the biggest attacks back to 2005, including some at the country's nuclear-energy labs and large defense contractors," the Post reported.

Critics of the new directive will point to the NSA's ability to operate in total secrecy as cause for concern.

More troubling, however, may be the Pentagon and Homeland Security's aspirations to hit attackers with counter-strikes.

Proving that a nation rather than a rogue set of attackers are behind a cyber attack will likely be very difficult. In addition, the international community has yet to address the rules of cyber war in any meaningful way.

THEATER REVIEW OF 'FABRIK': The Suit Maker Who Sounded the Alarm About Nazis

January 30, 2008

If you’ve always found puppets only slightly more appealing than, say, clowns, “Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz” may well change your mind. This modest yet powerfully affecting production capitalizes on the range of the art form and takes it to impressive heights.

But be warned: this is not “Sesame Street.” Given some of its imagery and subject matter, the play is not appropriate for children under 10.

The story traces the life of the real Moritz Rabinowitz, a Polish Jew sent to Norway by his family to escape pogroms. In the years before World War II he grew highly successful as a suit manufacturer. (“Fabrik” is Norwegian for “factory.”) Chipper, fastidious and ever reciting his rules for the successful businessman, Moritz senses the virulent anti-Semitism spreading and writes opinion pieces in local and national journals warning of its advance. As an outspoken major employer, he is singled out for his views and eventually sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin.

Three puppeteers in multiple roles — David Arkema, fortunately not painting Moritz in entirely saintly colors; Gwendolyn Warnock, deftly portraying most of the women; and Kirjan Waage, a tireless Norwegian fielding 16 parts (he also designed the hand-and-rod puppets) — keep the narrative flowing inexorably across a seamless 55 minutes. The three performers wrote the script with Gabrielle Brechner; they are all members of Wakka Wakka Productions, the company presenting the piece.

Throughout “Fabrik” the inventive stage effects and their variety are consistently startling. Early scenes of Moritz at work or in bed with his wife possess a warm humor recalling the Muppets. (The Jim Henson Foundation helped support this production.) But gradually — beginning with an imaginative dream sequence in which Moritz swims through an aqueous environment, hunted by a sharklike Hitler — the mood begins to shift. As the Holocaust deepens, the tableaus become more Expressionistic and nightmarish. The image of a puppet on its side, lifelessly staring downward, will haunt you.

“Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz” continues through Feb. 17 at Urban Stages Theater, 259 West 30th Street, Manhattan, (212) 352-3101 or

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

James Glassman, the Successor of Karen Hughes, Eyes the Internet

Official: U.S. enemies 'eating our lunch' online

James Glassman appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Glassman is nominated to become assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy

He says U.S. must end misconception that it wants to weaken the Muslim world

Glassman: "I am deeply committed to a program of vigorous communication"

From Charley Keyes

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The man nominated to head public diplomacy at the State Department said Wednesday that al Qaeda is doing a better job than the Bush administration in winning friends over the Internet.

"Our enemies are eating our lunch in terms of getting the word out in digital technology," said James Glassman.

He was answering questions at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

If approved by the committee and then by the Senate, Glassman would succeed President Bush's longtime friend and adviser Karen Hughes as assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy.

Glassman is now the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors -- responsible for the radio, television and Internet networks paid for by U.S. taxpayers -- such as the Voice of America, available in dozens of languages, and Arabic language Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa.

Hughes stepped down from her State Department post in December.

Glassman's comments Wednesday echoed a November speech by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in which he said the United States needs more speed, agility and cultural relevance in its communications.

"Public relations was invented in the United States, yet we are miserable at communicating to the rest of the world what we are about as a society and a culture, about freedom and democracy, about our policies and our goals," Gates said.

"It is just plain embarrassing that al Qaeda is better at communicating its message on the Internet than America."

Glassman said he agrees "with the spirit" of Gates' criticism and said he would continue the work begun by Hughes and others to use person-to-person contacts, student and cultural exchanges and new technologies to push the United States' message.

"I am deeply committed to a program of vigorous communication," he told the committee.

In September 2005, Hughes traveled throughout the Middle East as part of what she dubbed a "listening tour" to repair the U.S. image damaged after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But she had a tough sell, and many Arabs criticized Hughes for what they called her lack of understanding of the region.

Glassman said the United States must overturn a misconception in the Muslim world that it is a military threat, that it wants to weaken and divide the Muslim world and spread Christianity.

One member of the committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, asked Glassman, "Do we broadcast what people want to hear or what they need to hear?"

Glassman replied, "We have to be honest. If we tell them lies they are going to figure that out very quickly."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, introduced Glassman to the committee, saying the public diplomacy post is "the closest thing to a supreme allied commander in the war of ideas and one of the most important posts in Washington."

US Propped up Suharto Despite Rights Abuses: Documents

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States declassified documents Monday detailing how Washington propped up ex-Indonesian leader Suharto, who died at the weekend, at the expense of democracy and human rights.

The documents, declassified following requests under a freedom of information law, showed the US administration did not use its leverage to bring Suharto to account during his 32-year reign until his last months in office.

"One thing that is clear from the tens of thousands of pages of which we had declassified concerning US ties with Suharto from 1966 to 1998 -- at no moment did US presidents ever exercise their maximum leverage over his regime to press for human rights or democratization," Brad Simpson of the National Security Archive told AFP.

The body, a non-governmental research institute at George Washington University in Washington, collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act.

Simpson, who directs the Archive's Indonesia and East Timor documentation project, said the only time Washington "decisively intervened" in Indonesia was in 1998, when it was reeling from a financial meltdown amid unprecedented riots.

Bill Clinton, the Democratic US president at that time, phoned Suharto about half a dozen times, pressing the Indonesian leader to adopt a stringent adjustment program demanded by the International Monetary Fund, according to the documents.

Suharto adhered to the demands of the United States and IMF.

"I think it is indicative of the kinds of pressure US could bring to bear when it decides that it is in our interest to do so, but this was done on behalf of international financial institutions, never on behalf of human rights activists and the pro-democracy movement in Indonesia," Simpson said.

The declassified documents include transcripts of Suharto's meetings with Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, as well as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

They also mirrored US perceptions of Suharto from the earliest years of his violent rule, including the 1969 annexation of West Papua, the 1975 invasion of East Timor, and the so-called "mysterious killings" of 1983-1984.

The United States was a steadfast ally of Suharto for much of his rule, providing him aid, weapons and diplomatic support as it regarded him as an effective bulwark against communism.

Suharto made his first visit as head of state to the United States in May 1970 amid rampant corruption and a major crackdown on political parties at home but at the White House meeting, Nixon told the Indonesian leader he was presiding over one of the "largest democratic countries in the world."

"There are no issues between the US and Indonesia," Kissinger wrote to Nixon approvingly, "and relations are excellent."

In his talks with President Gerald Ford at the White House five years later, Suharto brought up the question of Portuguese decolonization in East Timor and declared "the only way is to integrate the territory into Indonesia."
Ford gave no response, according to the documents.

There also was no mention of human rights in Indonesia in the briefing papers of Suharto's meeting with President Reagan in October 1982.

Two years later, when Vice President George H. W. Bush visited Jakarta on the heels of an alleged massacre of hundreds of civilians in East Timor and "mysterious killings" in Indonesia, the discussions centered largely on US ties with the Soviet Union and China.

The US embassy in Jakarta estimated that the government had summarily executed about 4,000 people at that time, documents showed.

Human rights abuses during Suharto's rule included a 1965-1966 crackdown on suspected communists and sympathizers estimated by historians to have killed at least half a million people.

Following Suharto's death Sunday, he was hailed by the US embassy in Jakarta as a "historic figure" who "achieved remarkable economic development."

"Though there may be some controversy over his legacy," Suharto "left a lasting imprint on Indonesia and the region of Southeast Asia," the embassy statement read.

The Body Snatchers

" ... what kind of person would be savage enough to snatch a 60-year-old man off the North Philly streets, pump his 5-foot frame full of morphine, cut him open "like a frog in biology class" and professionally remove his heart, liver, kidney and cartilage. ... "
Clueless in Philadelphia

In light of a potential plea in a body-snatching case, a Hunting Park woman wants the cops to re-examine her father's murder.

by Brian Hickey
Philadelphia City Paper
January 23, 2008

Just like it did five years ago, the bad news found Letrese Bryant via the airwaves. In February 2003, the televised image of a police officer holding a blanket that had once been on her couch and a sneaker that had once been on her father's foot was all Letrese needed to confirm that her missing dad had been murdered.

But in the agonizing time since, nobody has been able to tell her what kind of person would be savage enough to snatch a 60-year-old man off the North Philly streets, pump his 5-foot frame full of morphine, cut him open "like a frog in biology class" and professionally remove his heart, liver, kidney and cartilage. Hell, she hasn't even heard from investigators in years. All she's been able to do is relive the horrors alone in unknowing, tearful silence.

Until last week.

Again, it was the TV news. This story was about local funeral homes caught up in a body-snatching ring that saw "cutters" harvest every last usable part of a dead person's body. A grand a corpse was the going rate, according to a New York magazine piece about the so-called Brooklyn-based mastermind, which also stated that cutters targeted poor areas in Philadelphia for their bounty. Turns out they might be cutting a plea deal, Letrese heard after being shaken from a near-sleep. It was another one of those cases that force the masses to wonder where our shared humanity went, but it left Letrese asking a more personal question.

"Could these have been the people who did something to my father?" she asked her husband, Eddie West. "Who's to say that it isn't connected?"

These are logical things to wonder. Once police turned Mr. Willie James "Pete" Kent's body over inside an abandoned shell off North Seventh Street, they had little direction. There wasn't a drop of blood, or any evidence, to be found. A ritualistic murder? Depraved med students? Nobody knew. And still, nobody knows. Could that soon change? Letrese prays so.

"This is the best thing that's happened since his death," she told me Monday.

Perhaps she spoke to soon. Letrese has already seen her optimistic hopes challenged at every turn. When I called the District Attorney's office to ask about a potential tie-in, I was told they didn't think so. The local harvesting didn't start until a year after Kent's discovery, they explained, and that the Philly funeral parlors involved (including one not too far up Hunting Park Avenue from where Kent lived) stood accused of abusing the dead, not turning humans into corpses. "These guys aren't murderers," a prosecutor told me.

From there, I tried the cops. The public affairs office confirmed the case was still open, and that I should feel free to contact the homicide detective upon whose desk the Kent folder resides. While he was so memorable that the spokeswoman knew him only as Det. Baker, she knew he's on the overnight shift, so I made an early-morning call.

While you'd hope that an investigator's ears may perk when reminded of a cold case, all Baker mustered was, "You can call all you want, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give you any information."

Granted, he was a shade more polite when Letrese called Tuesday; he's apparently not that strong of a reader, though, considering he told her that "your father was stabbed to death. What does [the body-snatching ring] have to do anything?"

"It was crushing," says Letrese, realizing that even if it were inclined to do so, the DA's office wouldn't get involved until police actually do their jobs. A job that includes realizing that a body missing its organs is no mere stabbing.

So, here's a summary: A lead that warrants follow-up has been summarily dismissed by someone who swore to serve you and me, thus leaving Letrese and her family no closer to an answer. Well, I don't care how many murders are on Baker's desk. Should our homicide detectives let a heavy workload deter them from even dedicating a moment's thought to potential tips, they're disgraces to their profession.

"I wish people would just think about it, just look at it," says Letrese, who hired an attorney to advocate on her behalf. "I know they're busy. There are plenty of murders, but what about my murder? I mean, does it matter to anybody but me and my family?"

Well, does it?


UK: Deborah Orr: We must protect disabled people against this wave of barbaric and hateful crimes

He died in his mother's arms, so badly beaten that his uncle did not at first recognise his face ...

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Brent Martin's story should, and could, have been a story of quiet success. The 23-year-old had struggled in his short life with his learning difficulties, and those struggles more than once had become so serious that he had been compelled to spend long periods in psychiatric hospitals. Even a generation ago, such a history might have condemned a young man to an institutionalised life. But we are more enlightened now, in theory at least.

Martin, released in spring of last year into the care of his family, was recognised as a man who was quite capable of living independently, supporting himself through work, paying his taxes, living and loving like the equal member of a civilised society that he was, or should have been. In August last year, he was winning. He was about to start a new job as a landscape gardener, about to move into a flat and live on his own for the first time, and enjoying the time that he spent with his girlfriend.

Then, on 23 August, he was chased for a mile and a half through two estates in Sunderland. Repeatedly, he was set upon by 21-year-old William Hughes, and two boys of 16 and 17. Between them – they had trained as boxers – they bet £5 that one of them could knock him out with their fists. Their attacks got more frenzied until they started kicking Brent, and stamping on him. They removed his lower clothing, at the end, and took photographs of their bloodied selves to mark the occasion.

Brent died in his mother's arms of a massive head injury. He had been so badly beaten that his uncle did not at first recognise his face. Hughes and the 16-year-old admitted murder, while the 17-year-old was found guilty of murder at Newcastle Crown Court last week, after telling witnesses that "he was not going down for a muppet". All three have been warned that they face mandatory life imprisonment, when sentencing takes place next month.

What is the worst thing about this abhorrent crime against a vulnerable person? The worst thing is that it is by no means the most horrific recent example of escalating violence against people with disabilities. Over the last couple of years, a slew of vicious and often fatal crimes against people with physical or mental disadvantages have come to trial. Sometimes, the ordeals of victims went on for many months before they died.

Steven Hoskin, 39, was targeted over a long period by 30-year-old Darren Stewart, along with his girlfriend, Sarah Bullock, 17, Martin Pollard, 21, and a shifting cast of teenagers who were attracted, presumably, by Stewart's drug-dealing. Stewart, it had long been known, had moved into Steven's tiny flat . He had been commandeering his benefit money, and hitting him if he tried to resist.

Material and financial abuse developed into mental and physical abuse, which for some dark reason reached its perverted climax on the evening of 6 July 2006. Steven, who had a reading age of six, was tortured, taunted, burnt with cigarettes and yanked around on a dog's lead, until he confessed, erroneously, to being a paedophile.

Having extracted their "confession", the three of them fed him 70 Paracetamol tablets, and marched him to Trenance Viaduct in St Austell, where they forced him over the rail. He fell 30 metres to his death. Bullock kicked his head and stamped on his fingertips to help him on his way.

The Cornwall Adult Protection Committee published a Serious Case Review that investigated the protracted events leading up to Steven's murder last month. It identified 40 occasions on which various support services had had an opportunity to intervene. Until a month before his death, social services had visited Steven weekly. Despite the presence of Stewart, who was locally notorious, they saw no cause for concern. When Steven requested that the visits should stop, a month before his death – presumably under pressure from the people he sometimes described, happily, as "his gang" – they complied. Steven also asked the police for assistance 12 times, but had no luck.

This case ought to have achieved a prominence similar to the Victoria Climbie case, or the Stephen Lawrence case, but so far there is little sign of wide-spread unease. This is particularly worrying because even cruelty of this magnitude is by no means unique. Under the leadership of the estimable Katherine Quarmby, Disability Now magazine has identified four other recent cases in which "financial abuse" of disabled people living independently exploded into terminal violence.

Raymond Atherton, Kevin Davies, Rikki Judkins and Barrie-John Horrell all suffered a similar pattern of abuse before they were killed by people purporting to be their friends. Yet, despite legislation under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which identified hostility based on "the disability or perceived disability of the victim" as a hate crime, none of these five cases was identified as a potential disability hate crime.

Disability Now investigated 50 crimes against disabled people in 2006 and 2007, 14 resulting in death, many others in serious injury, and a substantial number involving attacks on people in wheelchairs or using mobility scooters, and established that only two of them had been treated as hate crimes. The magazine is now campaigning for hate crimes against disabled people to be recognised as such.

There remains a school of thought which scoffs at the idea that attacks inspired by a particular prejudice should be treated as especially heinous. The argument is that murder or violence is murder or violence, whatever sets it off. This is not a sensible view. It is really important to highlight particular prejudices as unacceptable triggers for crimes, as this concentrates public outrage and raises wider awareness of specific dangers.

Also, it offers particular lawful protection for the groups that need it most, adjusting the balance in the favour of those under attack, or at least formally acknowledging the need for such an adjustment.

Survey after survey confirms that the disabled are massively more likely to be assaulted than their typically-abled peers. In 2002 the crime prevention organisation, Nacro, found that disabled people are four times as likely to be violently attacked, and twice as likely to be burgled. A more recent report by the cerebral palsy charity Scope found that 47 per cent of disabled people had either experienced physical abuse or witnessed the physical abuse of a disabled friend.

Practical counter-measures are needed when such additional stresses are being perpetrated against already vulnerable people in such a widespread manner. The advances that have been made towards the full participation of disabled people in everyday life are still fragile, and they need to be defended. A concentrated effort to reduce the barbaric lack of stigma around such a cowardly form of criminality is absolutely essential.

Scientists Discover Way to Reverse Loss of Memory

Exclusive: the accidental breakthrough
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The accidental breakthrough came during an experiment originally intended to suppress the obese man's appetite, using the increasingly successful technique of deep-brain stimulation. Electrodes were pushed into the man's brain and stimulated with an electric current. Instead of losing appetite, the patient instead had an intense experience of déjà vu. He recalled, in intricate detail, a scene from 30 years earlier. More tests showed his ability to learn was dramatically improved when the current was switched on and his brain stimulated.

Scientists are now applying the technique in the first trial of the treatment in patients with Alzheimer's disease. If successful, it could offer hope to sufferers from the degenerative condition, which affects 450,000 people in Britain alone, by providing a "pacemaker" for the brain.

Three patients have been treated and initial results are promising, according to Andres Lozano, a professor of neurosurgery at the Toronto Western Hospital, Ontario, who is leading the research.

Professor Lozano said: "This is the first time that anyone has had electrodes implanted in the brain which have been shown to improve memory. We are driving the activity of the brain by increasing its sensitivity – turning up the volume of the memory circuits. Any event that involves the memory circuits is more likely to be stored and retained."

The discovery had caught him and his team "completely by surprise", Professor Lozano said. They had been operating on the man, who weighed 190kg (30st), to treat his obesity by locating the point in his brain that controls appetite. All other attempts to curb his eating had failed and brain surgery was the last resort.

The treatment for obesity was unsuccessful. But, while the researchers were identifying potential appetite suppressant points in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain associated with hunger, the man suddenly began to say that memory was flooding back.

"He reported the experience of being in a park with friends from when he was around 20 years old and, as the intensity of stimulation increased, the details became more vivid. He recognised his girlfriend [from the time] ... The scene was in colour. People were wearing identifiable clothes and were talking, but he could not decipher what they were saying," the researchers write in Annals of Neurology, published today.

The man, who has not been identified, was also tested on his ability to learn lists of paired objects. After three weeks of continuous hypothalamic stimulation, his performance on two learning tests was significantly improved. He was also much more likely to remember a list of unrelated paired objects with the electrodes turned on than when turned off.

Speaking to The Independent yesterday, Professor Lozano said: "His performance improved dramatically. As we turned the current up, we first drove his memory circuits and improved his learning. As we increased the intensity of the current, we got spontaneous memories of discrete events. At a certain intensity, he would slash to the scene [in the park]. When the intensity was increased further, he got more detail but, when the current was turned off, it rapidly decayed."

The discovery surprised the scientists as the hypothalamus has not usually been identified as a seat of memory. The contacts that most readily produced the memories were located close to a structure called the fornix, an arched bundle of fibres that carries signals within the limbic system, which is involved in memory and emotions and is situated next to the hypothalamus.

Professor Lozano is a world authority on deep-brain stimulation who has undertaken 400 operations on Parkinson's disease sufferers and is developing the technique as a treatment for depression, for which he has performed 28 operations. He said the discovery of its role in stimulating memory had wide implications.

"It gives us insight into which brain structures are involved in memory. It gives us a means of intervening in the way we have already done in Parkinson's and for mood disorders such as depression, and it may have therapeutic benefit in people with memory problems," he said.

The researchers are testing the approach in six Alzheimer's patients in a Phase 1 safety study. Three have so far had electrodes surgically implanted. The electrodes are attached via a cable that runs below the skull and down the neck to a battery pack stitched under the skin of the chest. The "pacemaker" delivers a constant low-level current that stimulates the brain but cannot be perceived by the patient.

Professor Lozano said: "It is the same device as is used for Parkinson's disease. We have placed the electrodes in exactly the same area of the hypothalamus because we want to see if we can reproduce the findings in the earlier experiment. We believe the memory circuits we are stimulating are close by, physically touching the hypothalamus.

"It is a very effective treatment for the motor problems associated with Parkinson's disease and it has been used on 40,000 people. We are in the early stages of using it with Alzheimer's patients and we don't know if it will work. We want to assess if we can reach the memory circuits and drive improvement. It is a novel approach to dealing with this problem."

British researchers welcomed the discovery. Andrea Malizia, a senior lecturer in psychopharmacology at the University of Bristol who is studying deep-brain stimulation as a treatment for depression, said: "If they had said let's stick an electrode in the hypothalamus to modify Alzheimer's disease, I would have said 'Why start there?' But, if they have had a serendipitous finding, then that is as good. Serendipitous findings are how a lot of discoveries in science have been made."

Ayesha Khan, a scientific liaison officer at the Alzheimer's Disease Society, said: "This is very cutting-edge research. It is exciting, but the initial result is in one person. It will need much further investigation."

How deep-brain stimulation works

Deep -brain stimulation has been used for more than a decade to treat a range of conditions including depression, chronic pain, Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders.

It has been so successful in treating Parkinson's that 40,000 patients worldwide now have electrodes implanted in their brains driven by pacemakers stitched into their chests.

As the devices become smaller, requiring less risky surgery, and the target areas of the brain requiring stimulation are more precisely identified, demand for the treatment is expected to leap. Although it is expensive, the potential savings in care and treatment costs are immense. It does not lead to dependence on drugs and is reversible.

The electrodes are implanted under local anaesthesia while the patient is awake. Before the operation, the neurosurgeon performs an MRI scan and establishes the target location for the electrodes. He then carries out a craniotomy – lifting a section of the skull – and inserts the electrodes and leads. By stimulating the electrodes and checking the patient's response, the surgeon can check that they are positioned in the right place.

Different areas of the brain are targeted for different conditions. For Parkinson's disease, they are placed in the subthalamic nucleus; for depression, in area 25 of the cingulate cortex.

Deep-brain stimulation was developed in France and first licensed by the Food and Drug Administration in the US in 1997 as a treatment for tremor. In the UK, the surgery is performed at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, in Bristol, in Oxford and at a handful of other centres.

The name of the procedure is in some ways a misnomer as it often involves inhibiting electrical activity in an area of the brain rather than stimulating it. The technique is as much about restoring balance between competing brain areas which leads to the tremor characteristic of some types of Parkinson's disease.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Negroponte: US has used Waterboarding in Past

Also See: Attending Physician: Jimi Hendrix was Waterboarded to Death w/Red Wine
US has used waterboarding in past: ex-spy chief

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Former US spy chief John Negroponte admitted that the United States has used a controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding but does not anymore, according to a published interview Monday.

Negroponte, who currently serves as deputy secretary of state, told the National Journal that the country has made improvements and that it has been years since interrogators used the simulated drowning technique, often described as torture.
"We've taken steps to address the issue of interrogations, for instance, and waterboarding has not been used in years," Negroponte told the magazine.
"It wasn't used when I was director of national intelligence, not even for a few years before that."

Negroponte, a career diplomat, was named by President George W. Bush to be director of national intelligence in February 2005, a position he held until 2007.

The CIA has been embroiled in a controversy over the destruction of videotapes that allegedly showed the use of torture during Al-Qaeda interrogations.

The top US law enforcer, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, this month announced a criminal investigation into the matter after the CIA chief in December admitted that the agency had destroyed tapes of harsh interrogations of two Al-Qaeda suspects in the months after the 9/11 attacks.

The tapes reportedly showed the two suspects undergoing waterboarding, and were made in 2002 and destroyed in 2005 to protect the identity of agency operatives, CIA chief Michael Hayden said.

The White House has insisted that the United States does not torture anyone, but refuses to confirm what tactics might have been used to prise information out of reluctant detainees.s

The Legal Team that Convicted Fox News' Doug Guetzloe - Central Florida's Public Corruption Unit


Our position: Lawson Lamar's public corruption unit deserves support
January 14, 2008

Questioning the ethics of Central Florida's politics can be a thankless job. Just ask Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar.

Mr. Lamar didn't win any friends among the politicians and hangers-on when he called for tough ethics reforms, including campaign contribution limits, in 2006. And he was met with skepticism when he joined a handful of other state attorneys by forming what he calls the Government Accountability Unit, a team dedicated to rooting out public corruption.

To be sure, like any team of prosecutors, this team has had its hits and misses. The most recent was the 5th District Court of Appeals' overturning of the unit's conviction of state Sen. Gary Siplin on grand-theft charges.

But Mr. Lamar and his team should be applauded for their efforts. Their successes go beyond the win-loss tally.

And there have been victories.

Prosecutors won convictions against former Osceola Property Appraiser Bob Day and former Orlando City Commissioner Ernest Page for misusing the power of their offices. Political consultant Doug Guetzloe was convicted of campaign violations in connection with the cowardly circulation of an anonymous campaign flier in the 2006 Winter Park mayor's race.

Easy wins? Small fish? The point here isn't just to pack public officials and political cheap-shot artists to the big house. Mr. Lamar is sending message after message to officials not to violate the public trust. His efforts led to the formation of an ethics task force in Orange County that has recommended a list of important reforms.

Did his team overreach in pursuing Mr. Siplin? The diverse jury that convicted him didn't think so.

Mr. Lamar's investigation into shenanigans at the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority yielded only one set of charges against the agency's former public-relations consultant. But it has also generated what is said to be a highly critical grand-jury report that could uncover a seamy world of good-old-boy politics. Unfortunately, that report is being kept secret at the request of Allan Keen, the expressway authority's former chairman who resigned just ahead of Mr. Lamar's investigation.

That report should be made public. And if its findings shame public officials into enacting ethics reforms, that's more important than any one conviction.

Yes, Mr. Lamar should have known better than to turn to a special prosecutor to investigate a land deal Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty entered into with a developer. The deal stunk, but it clearly wasn't illegal.

So there may be some missteps along the way. But any community should welcome a state attorney on the alert for public corruption.

Keep pushing, Mr. Lamar.,0,5650919.story

Monday, January 28, 2008

Re Dumbed-Down, Establishment Assholes

Listen up, eye rollers!

Deanna Spingola Deanna Spingola
January 24, 2008

Eye rollers, people who condescendingly roll their eyes when confronted with truth, share common characteristics: apathy, naivety, and of course blissful ignorance. In addition, some eye rollers can be very dispassionate, as exemplified in the following separate scenarios:

While attempting to explain the illegalities of unwarranted surveillance, a friend replied — "As long as I am not doing anything wrong, I don't care if they listen to my conversations." While describing the potential tyrannical controls of Codex, another person responded — "I'll just stop taking vitamins." A friend borrowed a copy of Afghanistan After Democracy which photographically illustrates the horrendous birth defects caused by the ongoing use of depleted uranium by the U.S. government. Upon returning the book, that person said — "Well, lots of people have birth defects" implying that the cause is inconsequential and oh well, too bad! Rejection of these and other circumstances does not exempt media-dumbed-down American citizens from culpability or relieve victims from the consequences. What affects one citizen's liberty eventually affects all citizens.

Eye Rollers who read the daily papers assume they are well-informed. Thomas Jefferson warned: "The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. It is a melancholy truth that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood." It is currently legal to falsify or fabricate "news." "Media propaganda tactics include blackouts, misdirections, expert opinions to echo the Establishment line, smears, defining popular opinions, mass entertainment distractions," and the proliferation of the so-called conservative and liberal positions. [1]

According to a decision by the Florida Appeals Court on February 14, 2003 in the Jane Akre whistleblower lawsuit, the court agreed with Fox News who asserted that it is not against the law to distort or falsify the news in the United States. "The Court held that Akre's threat to report the station's actions to the FCC did not deserve protection under Florida's whistle blower statute, because Florida's whistle blower law states that an employer must violate an adopted 'law, rule, or regulation.'" [2] "Fair and balanced" Fox News, citing the First Amendment, asserted that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying or deliberately distorting the news on public airways in the United States. The Bill of Rights was designed to protect individual human rights, not the government or corporations. Apparently, corporations (inanimate entities) have appropriated those liberties due to the deliberately ambiguous Fourteenth Amendment.

The Florida Appeals court, in a questionable interpretation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy against falsification of the news, claimed that the FCC policy was not law but merely policy. Consequently, corporations decide what to "report," without consideration of truth. [3] Currently it is a crime for a private citizen to lie to a government official, but it is not a crime for a government official to lie to the people. [4] Lying is not a crime unless one "contracts" by their oath to tell the truth; that is why government officials resist testifying under oath. Bush and Cheney refused to testify under oath to the 9/11 Commission. With few exceptions, lying politicians are rarely prosecuted. Yet, citizens who perjure themselves often suffer harsh consequences. Despite high-priced lawyers and public support, Martha Stewart was jailed for lying, not for questionable stock transactions. She unwittingly entered into a "contract" with the court to tell the truth. The intimidating media-overkill sent a fearful message to the masses. "When the people fear their government, there is Tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is Liberty." Thomas Jefferson

"Five major media outlets filed briefs of Amici Curiae (friend of FOX) — to support the FOX position: Belo Corporation, Cox Television, Inc., Gannett Co., Inc., Media General Operations, Inc., and Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc." Highly profitable corporate broadcasters, through government complicity, and with the protection of the court, have seized the public airways and erroneously, but conveniently, shield themselves with the First Amendment. Well-compensated, often arrogant and belligerent, persuasive "pundits," without impunity, feign sincerity, propagate the party line and increase profits for their corporate employers. Contrary to the myth, they are not government watchdogs.

The airways belong to the people, not the government or corporations who are intimate partners. Corporate monopolization of the public airwaves will further increase with the FCC decision on December 18, 2007 to allow even greater media consolidation. Bush nominated Kevin Martin as an FCC member on April 30, 2001. Martin served as the Deputy General Counsel for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 and participated in the Florida recount. Bush then designated Martin as the FCC chairman on March 18, 2005. [5] Martin wants to end limits on media ownership by removing the "cross-ownership ban." This plan takes effect shortly if unimpeded. Since 1983, the number of corporations owning most newspapers, magazines, book publishers, recorded music, movie studios, television and radio stations has decreased from fifty to five. [6] Prior to his FCC position, Martin was Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. His wife, Catherine, was a spokeswoman for Cheney during the Valerie Plame fiasco and now works on Bush's communications staff. [7]

Media corporations share board members with "other large corporations including banks, investment companies, oil companies, health care, pharmaceutical, and technology companies." Media systems, until the 1980's, were domestically owned, regulated, and national in scope. Together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the U.S. government deregulated and privatized all communications media which "resulted in a global commercial media system dominated by a small number of super-powerful transnational media corporations (mostly U.S. based), working to advance the cause of global markets and the CIA agenda." [8]

The 1934 Communications Act, and later the Fairness Doctrine (1949) [9] allowed equal time to opposing opinions. Mark S. Fowler, a communications lawyer appointed to head the FCC by President Ronald Reagan, aggressively opposed the Fairness Doctrine as well as the First Amendment. "He set about pruning, chopping, slashing, eliminating, burying and deep-sixing fifty years of regulations that guarded against monopolistic practices and excessive commercialism and protected the public interest standard." The Fairness Doctrine, along with diversity, fairness, equal time and objectivity was rescinded in 1987. Television and radio stations were no longer required to present both sides of important or controversial issues nor give equal time to candidates. [10] Networks have called early election results affecting western voters and a whole plethora of issues. Elite-selected candidates are promoted while constitutional candidates are ignored or ridiculed.

For decades U.S. "news" has been fabricated. Radio Free Europe and the Committee for a Free Europe were big priorities for Truman and his crony, Frank Wisner. Wisner, a Wall Street lawyer, was a Navy censor, head of Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operations in southeastern Europe at the end of World War II, and the head of the Directorate of Plans (clandestine chief) of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the 1950s. He was the OSS liaison to the Gehlen Organization, was a senior CIA official (from 1947 until 1965) and was involved in the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala (1954) and Mossadeq in Iran (1953). He was the first Director of the CIA's covert action wing called the Office of Policy Coordination (created 1948).

Wisner, along with Allen Dulles, Richard Helms and Phillip Graham (publisher of The Washington Post and husband of CFR/Trilateralist Katharine Graham) established Operation Mockingbird, the CIA program designed to completely control the U.S. media. The CIA collaborated with media-skilled Nazi war criminals who conveniently escaped the gallows after Nuremburg. [11] General Reinhard, Klaus Barbie, Otto von Bolschwing (Eichmann's crony) and SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny joined the CIA's perception management efforts. "There's even evidence that Martin Bormann, Hitler's second-in-command at the end of the war, faked his own death and escaped to Latin America, where he worked with CIA-linked groups." [12] "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." William Casey, CIA Director (staff meeting, 1981).

A real chip off the old globalist block, Wisner's son, Frank G. Wisner, Jr. (CFR, Bilderberger), was ambassador to the Philippines from August 1991 until June 1992. He is Executive Vice President of the American International Group (AIG), the world's third largest capital investment pool and a leading member of the World Trade Organization. Maurice Greenberg is the former chairman. AIG's insurance operations, including the entire period under Greenberg's leadership, have been connected to CIA covert operations. AIG purchased those six ports from Dubai. You remember those ports — U.S. citizens demanded that the government not sell the ports to Dubai. Well, they did anyway and then Dubai sold them to AIG. [13]

"Directly relevant to the post-9/11 events, current members of AIG's board of directors include former US ambassador and CFR member Richard Holbrooke, a major post-9/11 war advisor to the Bush administration and business partner of George Soros." The board included Frank Wisner, Jr., a former Enron director. Wisner Jr., then U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, helped Enron win contracts to operate two Subic Bay power plants despite "fierce local opposition." [14] While in India, Wisner secured numerous "deals" for Enron. He left India only after Enron was firmly entrenched. [15]

Wisner preceeded Paul Wolfowitz as United States Department of Defense Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from January 1993 to June 1994. In 2003, Frank Wisner, Jr. was co-chairman of a new independent task force report on Afghanistan cosponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. [16] He, along with Richard Armitage, is on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development. [17] Wisner is also a trustee with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. [18] Families that prey together get richer and accrue power with each generation.

Truman and Eisenhower were the first two presidents to introduce and mobilize propaganda as an official peacetime institution. It was a "war of words" and an "integral component of the government's foreign policy operation." Both Truman and Eisenhower employed propaganda and psychological strategy in order to promote the "Cold War" operation. In fact, much of the planning for the "Cold War" took place during the administration of these two presidents. [19]

The unrestricted propaganda operation, without congressional oversight, was controlled by the president. This, along with unconstitutional treaties, increased presidential power while decreasing constitutional checks and balances. Presidential influence (intervention) metastasized outside of the country, especially with Reagan who was perfect globalist material. The "great communicator" was a "trustworthy" spokesperson who Americans supported. The perfect "persuader" led the U.S. into the highly profitable military buildup. He got help from abroad. Former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos donated $12 million dollars to Reagan's 1980 and 1984 presidential campaigns. That money, according to rumor, was used, in part, to "sabotage Carter's negotiations to free 52 U.S. hostages held in Iran. [20]

The National Security Council (NSC) was created by Public Law 80-253, approved on July 26, 1947, a reorganization of the U.S. security apparatus. Its function was to advise the president (chairman of the Council) on "integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to national security and to facilitate interagency cooperation. At the President's direction, the NSC also assesses and appraises risks to U.S. national security, considers policies and then reports or makes recommendations to the President." [21] This legislation also provided for a Secretary of Defense, a National Military Establishment, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Security Resources Board." [22]

The NSC was organized with the following seven permanent members: the President; the Secretaries of State, Defense, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; and the Chairman of the National Security Resources Board. The CIA Director reports to the NSC and can attend meetings and advise but is not a NSC member. [23] The Amendments Act of 1949 removed the three military services from NSC membership and added the Vice-President. Additionally, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was added as an advisor. [24]

Harry S. Truman replaced the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), created June 13, 1942, with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1947. Truman struggled to regularize U.S. psychological warfare and the CIA which is not an intelligence-gathering operation — that misconception is one of the agency's greatest propaganda triumphs. [25] "Despite its name, the Central Intelligence Agency's main purpose is, and has always been, carrying out covert operations involving economic warfare, rigged elections, assassinations and genocide. "The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that 6 million people had died by 1987 as a result of CIA covert operations." [26] The CIA distorts intelligence to justify its own goals. This "disinformation" deceives policymakers and has resulted in organized terror throughout the world. Using the CIA, our government breaks national and international laws in the name of national security. [27]

In addition to the CIA, Truman, careful never to use the word "propaganda" bypassed the wrangling National Security Council and, through a Presidential Directive [28] (addressed to The Secretary of State, The Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence) founded the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB), on April 4, 1951 as suggested by Gordon Gray, a CFR member, who was the Board's first director. [29] Henry Kissinger was Gray's consultant. Gray worked for Frank Wisner's Wall Street Law firm, was a State Senator and also became a newspaper publisher — The Winston-Salem Journal and the Twin Cities Sentinel. He was the son of tobacco baron, Bowman Gray, chairman of the R. J. Reynolds Corporation.

There were two major purposes of the PSB: legitimize and institutionalize propaganda during peacetime and as a war of words during the orchestrated "Cold War" and to enable a president to commandeer congressional responsibility at the expense of the American republic. The Psychological Strategy Board was chaired by the CIA and consisted of the following: (1) Undersecretary of State, (2) The Deputy Secretary of Defense, (3) Director of Central Intelligence, (4) A representative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, (5) An appropriate representative or head of any department or agency of the Government as determined by the Board. [30]

On Thursday 26 July 1951, President Truman told the media that the Psychological Strategy Board was a part of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Board was terminated by Executive Order 10483 of September 3, 1953. Its functions were transferred to the Operations Coordinating Board (OCB). These agencies, without any congressional oversight, would assist in the ideological "war of words" against communism. The CIA has published and disseminated hundreds of books promoting the official Cold War party line. Their newspapers and magazines throughout the world provides cover for their agents and allows the implementation of misinformation that consistently reaches U.S. audiences via the wire services which also "employs" CIA agents who prevent problematic facts from public exposure. [31]

In 1977, Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein (exposed Watergate with Bob Woodward) declared that over 400 US journalists were CIA employees "who have secretly carried out assignments according to documents on file at CIA headquarters, from intelligence-gathering to serving as go-betweens." A high-level source told Bernstein, "One journalist is worth twenty agents." [32] CIA media assets include ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press International (UPI), Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, and Copley News Service. The CIA had infiltrated the nation's businesses, media, and universities with tens of thousands of on-call operatives by the 1950's. CIA Director Dulles had staffed the CIA almost exclusively with Ivy League graduates, like George H. W. Bush, from Yale's infamous Skull and Bones (Brotherhood of Death) Society. [33] So, who provides your perceptions?


[1] Operation Mockingbird: CIA Media Manipulation, By Mary Louise

[2] The Media Can Legally Lie, Project Censored by Liane Casten, Spring 2003

[3] Court Ruled That Media Can Legally Lie by Liane Casten

[4] John Zube On Law, Donald M. Fraser

[5] Biography of FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin

[6] More Media Disinformation? FCC Proposes Greater Media Consolidation by Stephen Lendman, Global Research, December 13, 2007

[7] Ibid

[8] Operation Mockingbird: CIA Media Manipulation, By Mary Louise

[9] Communications Act of 1934

[10] The Republican Noise Machine, Right-Wing Media and How it Corrupts Democracy by Steve Brock, p. 294-95

[11] The CIA and Nazi War Criminals, National Security Archive Posts Secret CIA History Released Under Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 146, Edited by Tamara Feinstein, February 4, 2005

[12] The Gehlen Org, The CIA's Greatest Hits by Mark Zepezauer

[13] Dubai firm sells US ports to AIG, December 11, 2006

[14] A six-part series, The United States in the Philippines: post-9/11 imperatives By Larry Chin, Online Journal Contributing Editor

[15] Frank Wisner, Source Watch

[16] Wisner: 'Pivotal Moment' in Afghanistan, June 23, 2003

[17] Middle East Peace and Development

[18] Frank G. Wisner, NNDB

[19] The Rhetorical Presidency, Propaganda, and the Cold War, 1945-1955 by Shawn J. Parry-Giles, Praeger Series in Presidential Studies, 2002, Introduction

[20] A six-part series, The United States in the Philippines: post-9/11 imperatives By Larry Chin, Online Journal Contributing Editor

[21] National Security Council (NSC), Truman Administration (1947-1953)

[22] Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, Papers of Harry S. Truman, Staff Member and Office Files: National Security Council File, Date Span: 1947–1953

[23] Ibid

[24] Ibid

[25] Safe For Democracy, The Secret Wars of the CIA by John Prados, 2006, Chapter 5, The Covert Legions

[26] Operation Mockingbird: CIA Media Manipulation By Mary Louise

[27] The CIA's Greatest Hits by Mark Zepezauer, Odonian Press,, Accessed December 14, 2007

[28] Safe For Democracy, The Secret Wars of the CIA by John Prados, 2006, Chapter 5, The Covert Legions

[29] Harry S. Truman Papers Staff Member and Office Files: Psychological Strategy Board Files, Dates: 1951-53

[30] Ibid

[31] The Mighty Wurlitzer (the CIA's propaganda machine) from the book The CIA's Greatest Hits by Mark Zepezauer

[32] Operation Mockingbird: CIA Media Manipulation By Mary Louise

[33] Ibid

Deanna Spingola has been a quilt designer and is the author of two books. She has traveled extensively teaching and lecturing on her unique methods. She has always been an avid reader of non-fiction works designed to educate rather than entertain. She is active in family history research and lectures on that topic. Currently she is the director of the local Family History Center. She has a great interest in politics and the direction of current government policies, particularly as they relate to the Constitution.

When Wendi met Rupert

Sydney Morning Herald
January 26, 2008

Bruce Dover was there when a young, ambitious Chinese woman met an ageing media mogul.

Rupert Murdoch without a telephone was like an alcoholic without a drink. He would grow agitated, fidgety, desperately looking for a fix. Murdoch ran his empire by phone and at almost any time of his day - every day, 6am in the gym or midnight in his hotel room - there was an executive he could call somewhere in the world who was in the middle of their day and able to take a call from the boss.

So in late 1997 those of us who were in telephone contact with Murdoch at least once a week were more than a little flummoxed when his private secretary of some 34 years, Dot Wyndoe, advised that the boss would be unavailable for the next four to five days because he was going on a "walking tour of Wales". Murdoch taking leisurely walks in the country was hard to believe; Murdoch without a phone and not contactable was incredible.

By a strange coincidence, the very same week, Wendi Deng, who had been working with me in Beijing during the previous few months, advised that she had to attend a wedding in New York at short notice and needed some time off - just four or five days. She would take the Thursday night flight to New York but be back at work the following Wednesday morning.

The trips, of course, may have been perfectly innocent, but given the recent train of events, for the first time an inkling that something was developing between our ageing media magnate boss and the 29-year-old business development executive started to firm into something like suspicion.

I had introduced Murdoch to Wendi at a cocktail party at Hong Kong's Harbour Plaza Hotel just before the July 1, 1997 handover celebrations. As an introduction, it was pretty straightforward: "Murdoch, this is Wendi Deng. Wendi is working with us in business development in China." Wendi was a Yale MBA graduate who had been with STAR TV less than a year. She was tall, attractive, intelligent, vivacious and confident, and immediately had the chief executive's full attention. After the cocktail party, on the way back to the hotel, he remarked how "impressive" he found "the young Chinese women" present at the function. "Intelligent and full of enthusiasm … they're the people who will change China and make it a superpower to be reckoned with. They should be running the country.

He went on: "I've found that as you get older, it's important to surround yourself with young people - full of new ideas, energy and enthusiasm. It rubs off on you, revitalises you." On reflection, I might have missed the pertinence of this observation, and a similar prescient remark from Deng just a few weeks before. At a dinner party at the home of James Pringle, the then London Times Beijing correspondent, the conversation among the gathered women had somehow turned to the subject of eligible bachelors. Deng had roundly announced that her ideal catch would be "a richer, older man". It sounded almost flippant at the time but perhaps those of us present should have paid the remark significantly more attention.

None of us who worked and socialised with Deng was aware then that she had a past very much removed from that of the single, up-and-coming business executive which she now presented to the world. It was a surprise when a Wall Street Journal investigative report published some years later revealed she had already been married to an older, if not richer, man. Her first husband, Jake Cherry, was a middle-aged engineer and a married man when their relationship began. They had met a decade earlier when Jake and his wife, Joyce, were working in Guangzhou, China. Joyce tutored Deng in English. After a few months, Joyce departed for the US west coast with her two children while Jake stayed on to complete his work as a construction supervisor. It was Jake who suggested to his wife they sponsor Wendi in the US while she attended college.

In 1988, Wendi, aged 19, came to California, moved in with the Cherrys - sharing a bedroom with the couple's five-year-old daughter - and began her studies. Soon after, Wendi and Jake began a relationship. When Joyce discovered the two were seeing each other she ordered Wendi out of the house. Jake soon followed and moved into a nearby home with Deng, who had enrolled at California State University. Jake and Wendi married in February 1990. He was 53. She was 21. They were barely together for four months before Wendi moved out to take up with a young American named David Wolfe. Wendi and Jake divorced in 1992, four months after Wendi received her green card, enabling her to live and work in the US. In any case, having graduated with flying colours, she was on her way to one of America's most prestigious learning institutions - Yale.

Wendi was hardworking and eager to learn, but also ambitious and single-minded in her desire to succeed. There was no doubt she put in the long hours required to excel. She impressed everyone with her energy, good humour and wit. Wendi had an extraordinary ability to absorb information like a sponge, then process and regurgitate it. She wasn't afraid to ask questions. Well aware of her charms, she was flirtatious with the mainly male executive coterie around her at STAR, and a good number of them were actively vying for her attention.

Wendi was devoid of self-consciousness, which some colleagues could mistake for rudeness or brashness, but there was always a touch of innocence to her behaviour that was her saving grace. One notable flaw was that she often spoke too much when she might have done better to listen, or inserted herself into a conversation with a comment that was totally unrelated to the discussion.

Within a few months of starting work she had convinced the chief executive of STAR TV, Gary Davey, that she needed a more grandiose title on her business card, in order to be taken more seriously by her Chinese counterparts during her forays across the border. By mid-1997, she was proudly bearing a card from STAR TV anointing her vice-president - business development. Not bad for someone less than a year out of university and with no previous experience in the media. But she was undoubtedly a fast learner, to the point that I was trying to convince her to give up her Hong Kong role and move full time to Beijing to support me in the mainland China operations.

Three months after the cocktail party Murdoch was back in Hong Kong, en route to Shanghai, where we had arranged meetings with some of the biggest media players. Our regular interpreter was unavailable so it was agreed that Wendi would accompany us to translate at the meetings.

We flew into Shanghai and checked into the historic Peace Hotel. Murdoch was keen to acquaint himself with the city, so in the early evening we set off to walk along the riverside. My mobile phone rang and I had to go back to work, so Murdoch and Wendi decided to continue their city tour on their own. Wendi took the boss's arm and guided him across the road … The next morning, I trudged down to the hotel gym at 6am to find Murdoch and Wendi already there, pumping away on a pair of exercise bicycles. I remember noting that the two of them had struck up quite a remarkable rapport in a short time, judging by the laughter coming from their corner of the gymnasium.

Over the following weeks and months, it became apparent to both Gary Davey and me that Murdoch was having an ongoing dialogue with Wendi. Murdoch would sometimes sprout what we called "Wendi-isms" in our weekly conversations, and Wendi would parrot observations that Murdoch had uttered in our business discussions.

Few of us at this time had any inclination that the relationship between Murdoch and Anna - after 30 years of marriage - was in serious trouble and headed for the rocks. I got an inkling once, when in the back of a limousine on the way from Beijing Airport to the hotel Murdoch was having a "yes dear" conversation with Anna on the mobile phone, rolling his eyes upwards and frowning a lot. After the conversation had finished, he turned and said: "She wants me to slow down, spend time at home, go to all these silly functions … Makes me feel I'm getting to be an old man or something."

So while the "walking expedition in Wales" set us all thinking, new events were about to make our jaws hit the floor. At this early stage, we'd realised that the boss had taken a shine to Wendi but it still required an enormous leap of faith to turn it into a romance between a 68-year-old prudish media mogul and a 29-year-old Chinese graduate.

In February 1998 Murdoch had agreed to make another visit to China. The boss, however, was being strangely reticent about his travel plans. First, Murdoch, who had always stayed at the Regent, wouldn't say where he was staying. No, he didn't want us to make a booking; yes, he'd look after it himself; and no, he wasn't sure which hotel it would be.

The Beijing meetings were set for Tuesday until Friday, so we expected Murdoch - whose schedule was always extremely tight and who never wasted a day anywhere if he could avoid it - to fly in early Monday, as usual. Instead, he announced that he would be arriving the Friday before and spending the weekend in Hong Kong "catching up on the paperwork".

As usual, he was travelling unaccompanied and with just his carry-on suit bag and an over-sized briefcase stuffed full of documents. When we dropped Murdoch at the hotel he again said there was no need to bother ourselves with having to "chaperone" him around the city.

He disappeared up the hotel lift with a parting remark that we would catch up Monday morning before heading off for the airport and our Beijing meetings.

The next day, I returned to the hotel to make sure everything was OK and was accosted by a rather exuberant concierge.

"Mr Dover, Mr Dover," he spluttered. "I just wanted to let you know the dinner cruise on the harbour has been arranged and the boat will be ready at 7pm."

Funny, I thought. Murdoch hadn't mentioned anything about a boat on the harbour.

"And the flowers that Mr Murdoch ordered, sir. Can I charge them to your room?"

From Rupert's Adventures In China, by Bruce Dover, published this week by Viking.

The many lives of a woman with drive
WENDI DENG was born in 1969 in the provincial city of Xuzhou, where she attended the Xuzhou No.1 Middle School before her father, an engineer, relocated the family to China's third-largest city, Guangzhou. She excelled at high school and was admitted to medical school.

Her life changed in 1987 when, at 18, she met and befriended an American couple, Jake and Joyce Cherry, who sponsored her application for a student visa and agreed to support her in the US. In 1988, she left China to attend California State University at Northridge, boarding with the Cherrys.

Within a year, Joyce Cherry accused her husband of having an affair with Deng and divorced him. Deng married Jake Cherry in 1990. He was 53, she was 21. They divorced in 1992, four months after Wendi received her green card, giving her permanent residency in the US.

After graduating, Deng was admitted to the prestigious MBA course at Yale, and graduated in 1996. She got a job with STAR TV in Hong Kong, owned by News Corp, where she earned a reputation for being smart, hard-working, ambitious, brash and flirtatious. In July 1997, Deng was introduced to Rupert Murdoch at a company cocktail party. Within months, they had begun a clandestine relationship. Murdoch was then 68, Deng 29, and Murdoch's 30-year marriage to Anna Murdoch had broken down but was still officially intact.

Deng and Murdoch married in June, 1999. For several years she was an influential informal adviser to the media baron but while she continues to be involved with News Corp's internet business in China, her influence now is primarily as the mother of their two daughters, Grace, 6, and Chloe, 4, and as a social ambassador and the mistress of their six homes around the world.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

UK: ‘It’s widely assumed that the British Council is a wing of our secret services’

" ... It was no accident that Le Carre used the British Council as the opening background for his first glasnost-era novel. The Russia House is fiction but its author knew what he was writing about.... "

By Trevor Royle, Diplomatic Editor
Sunday Herald

THERE WAS little surprise in the British diplomatic and intelligence communities that the Russians decided to target the British Council as their latest ploy in the row begun by the alleged murder of the former Federal Security Service agent Alexander Litvinenko. For a start, the Russian security services hoped to embarrass the British government: the council's chairman is Lord Kinnock of Bedwellty and his son Stephen is the head of the St Petersburg office. Their high profile, not least the accusation that Stephen Kinnock had been caught drink-driving, was certain to grab the headlines and intensify the diplomatic game of cat and mouse.

But there was more to the action than the intimidation and harassment of British officials. For many Russians and, indeed for many people who are suspicious of British motives all over the world, the British Council is an ideal target, not just because it is a symbol of British culture and learning but because it is popularly supposed to be a front for espionage activities.

Established in 1934 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1940, the British Council is an independent and non-political organisation which was founded to promote British ideas, the English language and education in arts, science and technology. But that apolitical stance has always been viewed with distrust and many hostile countries regard the organisation as a school for spies.

"There is a widespread assumption that the British Council is a wing of our Secret Intelligence Services, however minor," admits a British diplomatic source. "Officially it is no such thing but there are connections. Why should it be otherwise, because all information is invaluable? After all, the British Council also deals with trade missions and inevitably that involves low-grade intelligence-gathering."

Throughout the cold war it was generally assumed that the worlds of culture, academe and journalism offered handy camouflage for the espionage community. Tit-for-tat expulsions were commonplace and they always involved a worrying number of press or cultural attaches who had been unmasked as CIA, MI5 or KGB operatives. Given that background, it was hardly surprising that the spy thriller writer John le Carre, pictured left, should have set his 1989 novel The Russia House against both the cultural backdrop of glasnost and the end of communism.

Small wonder, too, that the novel should have opened with the British Council playing a leading role from the outset of the action. The organisation's "first ever audio fair for the teaching of the English language and the spread of British culture" is "grinding to its excruciating end" and as one of its officials is packing his wares, an attractive Russian woman approaches him and persuades him to undertake the clandestine delivery of a manuscript to an English publisher who is apparently her friend. "It is a novel," she says. "A great novel. Its message is important for all mankind." The action runs on helter-skelter from that literary connection.

It was no accident that Le Carre used the British Council as the opening background for his first glasnost-era novel. The Russia House is fiction but its author knew what he was writing about. Before becoming an author of international bestsellers, John le Carre had been recruited into the intelligence services under his real name, David Cornwell, and had used his cover as a consular official to write his first novels about the role of MI5 and MI6 during the cold war. Not only did he use real people from his trade as characters in his books, but he also introduced espionage vocabulary and tradecraft to a wider public. He was not the first writer to dabble in espionage - others included John Buchan, Graham Greene and Charlotte Bingham, but he was the first to broaden the idea of espionage and to give it some respectability.

When official papers from the 1960s and 1970s started being released, more credence was given to the belief that the Soviet security services targeted British cultural institutions and those associated with them. The distinguished Kremlinologist Professor Archie Brown, a fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford, remembered the blackmailing of a British graduate during a year's exchange in Moscow in the 1970s. After drinking a spiked glass of wine, he woke up naked in bed with a Russian man. On the floor were US dollar bills and a number of religious icons.

Also in the room were two KGB agents who threatened him with arrest both for homosexual activity, then a crime, and for attempting to export icons, also a crime. In return for Soviet silence, the agents asked for inside information about the British Embassy and the members of the British Council. The matter was eventually resolved but the incident was an uncomfortable reminder that nothing was sacred or untouchable in the dirty undercover wars waged by both sides during the cold war. Last week's events show that little has changed.

CIA Perception Management: The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry "Examines" Mind Control and the Cycle of Child Abuse

By Alex Constantine

I haven't written about the committee of "skeptics" for years, but I stumbled upon a trashing of "conspiracy" researchers by one Evan Harrington of Temple University posted on January 4th at the CSICOP site, "Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia: Notes from a Mind-Control Conference," that concerns a researcher I know, Walter Bowart, author of Operation Mind Control. Herrington hangs Bowart by his own petard (whatever a petard may be) for speaking candidly about another CIA front, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF):

"Bowart opened the conference with a direct appeal to the therapists. Bowart claimed that 'the False Memory Spindrome [sic] Foundation . . . is a Central Intelligence Agency action. It is an action aimed at the psychological and psychiatric mental health community to discredit you, to keep you in fear and terror.' Bowart stated that everyone connected with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) will be shown to be 'spooks or dupes.' According to Bowart, the CIA is currently conducting a campaign of mind control against the American public and wants to discredit victims of these experiments so that their stories will be seen as false memories."

This is all true - I've written about the FMSF-CIA connections since its founding by accused pedophiles in Washington state and Ralph Underwager, formerly an official of the Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) - but we are to infer from this report that Bowart is merely "paranoid."

"Skeptic" Evan Harrington (today a PhD at Temple U.) himself may be above "paranoia," but he isn't above manipulating facts, Fox-News style, to manage popular beliefs.

On the well-known cycle of child abuse, he writes:

" ... regarding your question about the association of childhood victimization and adult offending there is evidence to consider. Cathy Widom is well known for her prospective study examining various forms of childhood victimization and later adult offenses. I don't have the citations at the moment but I'm sure you all have them or can find them. Widom found a small effect of physical abuse and neglect on later violent offending, but as for sexual abuse...there was no relation to adult sexual offending. At a conference I asked Widom about this issue, to which she responded that there appears to be no sexual cycle of violence. A couple of years ago there was a GAO report examining the sexual cycle of violence, which examined Widom's data, data from Linda Williams, and some other data, and their conclusion as well was that there is no support for the idea of a sexual cycle of violence."

"No support" is "spindrome" for "unproven" or "inconclusive" - but it sounds as if academics dispute the existence of the cycle, when in fact an overwhelming majority of studies support the model, but fail to nail down precise statistics due to numerous X factors that may contribute to criminal pathology, eg. abuse outside the family and other considerations.

The CIA/FMSF-CSICOP would debunk ALL claims of child abuse if they could get away with it, so they have set their sights on the cycle of abuse to undercut accusations in the courtroom (the justice system throws FMSF board members handsome "expert" legal fees). Harrington promotes the Company line, and his "small effect of physical abuse and neglect on later violent offending" turns out to be a rather large effect, after all. Google it.

In fact, Dr. Widom found it difficult to isolate violent childhood abuse as a cause of violence in adult life - a methodological problem strictly, not a reason to dismiss the cycle as an urban legend, and that will be shown here.

Dr. Widom has, in fact, confirmed the intergerational model, and that's why she titled her book THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE.

In general, the literature finds:

"Recent studies about the link between abuse and delinquency present a very strong case for a strong connection between childhood abuse and neglect and later delinquent and criminal behavior. For example, three research projects from different geographical areas demonstrate a strong statistical correlation between such maltreatment and subsequent misbehavior."

This is Harrington's "small" effect, and it is contradicted by all legitimate studies. (See, for instance, "The link between a history of maltreatment and subsequent offending behaviour," Falshaw Probation Journal.2005; 52: 423-434, and many others).

"An early study conducted in a metropolitan county area in the Midwest by a pioneer in research on the 'cycle of violence,' Dr. Cathy S. Widom of the Department of Psychiatry at the New Jersey Medical School, showed that youth 'who had been abused or neglected as children were more likely to be arrested as juveniles (27 percent versus 17 percent), adults (42 percent versus 33 percent) and for a violent crime (18 percent versus 14 percent)” than a comparable control group of young people with no comparable history of abuse or neglect. (Cathy S. Widom & Michael G. Maxfield, An Update on the “Cycle of Violence,” RESEARCH IN BRIEF, Nat’l Inst. of Just., February 2001, at 3, citing C.S. Widom, The Cycle of Violence, RESEARCH IN BRIEF, Nat’l Inst. of Just., October 1992.)"

And this is the substance of the study's findings - juvenile stats can be studied, but Dr. Widom found that determining childhood abuse to be a causative factor in adult behavior cannot be determined without error because other factors in psychological development intercede over the years. This uncertainty is reflected in the GAO report:

United States General Accounting Office

CYCLE OF SEXUAL ABUSE - Research Inconclusive About Whether Child Victims Become Adult Abusers

The report verbatim:

... Researchers have noted that there is widespread belief that there is a “cycle of sexual abuse,” such that sexual victimization as a child may contribute to perpetration of sexual abuse as an adult. Such a pattern
is consistent with social learning theories—which posit that children learn
those behaviors that are modeled for them—and also with psychodynamic
theories—which suggest that abusing others may help victimized
individuals to overcome childhood trauma."

But this is the entire problem: "Studying the relationship between early sexual victimization and later perpetration of sexual abuse is methodologically difficult. If researchers take a retrospective approach, and ask adult sex offenders whether they experienced childhood sexual abuse, there are problems of selecting a representative sample of offenders, finding an appropriate comparison group of adults who have not committed sex offenses but are similar to the study group in other respects, minimizing errors that arise when recalling traumatic events from the distant past, and dealing with the possibility that offenders will purposely overreport childhood abuse to gain sympathy or underreport abuse to avoid imputations of guilt. A prospective approach—selecting a sample of children who have been sexually abused and following them into adulthood to see whether they become sexual abusers—overcomes some of the problems of the retrospective approach, but it is a costly and time-consuming solution. In addition, researchers choosing the prospective approach still face the challenge of disentangling the effects of sexual abuse from the effects of other possible problems and stress-related factors in the backgrounds of these children (e.g., poverty, unemployment, parental alcohol abuse, or other inadequate social and family functioning)."

Harrington's "no support for the idea of a sexual cycle of violence" should read "inconclusive support." Playing with words in this way is how CIA propagandists do their job. Widom found that it is difficult to prove the cycle of violence - she didn't deny that it exists. The researcher was unable to design a study to measure it. That research support exists, but defies clear, indisputable interpretation. Harrington and his allies at PSICOP and the FMSF exploit this uncertainty to subvert claims of child abuse, and this is why they are highly paid by pedophiles and violent parents to defend them the courtroom with fudged "expert" testimony.

This much can be said:

"Violence is often learned within the family." - Cathy Widom, Ph.D.

But this is difficult to quantify, and the CIA's pro-pedophile fronts like it that way.

2007 Eye on the Right

Posted December 30, 2007

From the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy's Year In Review, "a hawk's eye view of what the think tanks on the conservative right are up to." Read the full report on this year in politics and policy on our website.

The Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Institute continued to blame poverty on the poor in 2007, decrying the efficacy of any and all public efforts to address economic hardship (the Manhattan Institute doesn't suffer a similar affliction; they spent more than $12 million in 2006 to get out their message.) Par for the course was a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed by Senior Fellow Steven Malanga, who scoffed at efforts to raise the minimum wage or protect labor rights because "poverty in America results increasingly from the choices that people make, not our economic system's supposed shortcomings."

Along similar lines, Fellow Heather MacDonald deplored calls to expand social services for babies and children as "a pathetic if the last 40 years of poverty policy haven't proven the futility of such money sinkholes." Noting that the lowest income Americans are often uneducated, underemployed, and disproportionately include single mothers struggling to raise children on their own, Malanga, MacDonald, and many of the nearly 40 other commentators on the Manhattan Institute payroll offer an uncomplicated prescription: the poor should simply get an education, get a job, and above all, get married. Nothing could be easier.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

After more than 20 years fighting environmental protection and regulation of toxic waste and emissions, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, with the backing of the world's largest oil companies, today devotes some of its $3 million annual operating budget to propagating conspiracy theories about the scientific consensus on global warming. Climate scientists, according to Fellow Steven Milloy, are part of a sinister plot. "Averting planetary disaster is not what global warming alarmism is all about. There are many nefarious agendas driving the global warming controversy, none of them have anything to do with 'saving' the planet."

The first threat is "radical left-wing environmentalists whose global socialism." Other conspirators include "Europeans [who] now see global warming as a means of hampering U.S. economic competitiveness" and yes, even Wal-Mart, the conservative stalwart, which is scheming to sell compact fluorescent bulbs rather than the cheaper but less efficient incandescent variety. To Milloy, even a modest agenda to address global climate change amounts to a full-scale "recipe for social, political and economic disaster...for everyone, with the possible exception of the misanthropic, back-to-nature socialists among us." A fringe viewpoint? Perhaps, but as a regular contributor to, Milloy enjoys a wide audience.

The Heritage Foundation

Washington's premier conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, will celebrate its 35th birthday in 2008 (no need for a present -- last year, they declared total assets of over $213 million). But if you imagine that their advancing age has encouraged mature and responsible thinking, think again. This year, Heritage Foundation "expert" and vice president of government relations, Michael Franc, stooped to a true low: comparing the new congressional majority to the terrorist mastermind behind the massacre on 9/11.

"I do not question the patriotism of these lawmakers," Franc avers, but "who would have thought that one of the chief challenges confronting congressional Democrats would be a need to distinguish themselves from Osama bin Laden?" What have Nancy Pelosi and her caucus done that makes it so hard for Franc to tell them apart from the brutal Al Qaeda leader? First, Franc points out that bin Laden opposes the Iraq war and believes that it has endangered America's international reputation. Congressional Democrats have also been heard criticizing the war, noting the international opinion surveys that show a less favorable impression of the U.S. What's more, Franc will have us know, bin Laden criticized capitalism in his latest video, while Senator Harry Reid speaks about the middle class squeeze. Finally, bin Laden thinks global warming is a threat and could ultimately lead to widespread death and displacement and "liberal lawmakers make these points every day." What's the lesson for the man who compares our nation's elected leadership to murderous terrorists? "Liberals need to wean themselves from... excessive rhetoric." We'll be right behind you, Mr. Franc.

Family Research Council

According to their mission statement, The Family Research Council "champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society." But this mainstay of the far religious right isn't talking about just any marriage, or any family. Indeed their $22 million in assets are devoted to promoting a narrow and exclusive definition of both. "Society gives 'benefits' to marriage because marriage gives benefits to society," writes FRC's Peter Sprigg in USA Today, "Therefore, when those who are not married, such as people in homosexual or cohabiting relationships, seek to receive such public benefits, they bear the burden of proof. They must show that such relationships benefit society (not just themselves) in the same way and to the same degree that authentic marriage between a man and a woman does. This is a burden they cannot meet. Only the union of a man and a woman can result in the natural reproduction that is essential literally to continue the human race." Last time we checked, it was all too easy for cohabitating opposite sex couples to engage in "natural reproduction" -- especially as the FRC condemns abortion and contraception.

The Hoover Institution

Founded in 1919 by 31st President-to-be Herbert Hoover, the Hoover Institution has been home to ultraconservatives like Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, enjoying an operating budget well over $38 million in 2007. As long-time advocates of tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations, Hoover has updated and revised its 1985 pitch for regressive taxation, "The Flat Tax."

Their plan calls for a flat tax on personal and corporate incomes that would effectively place a greater burden on America's struggling middle and lower income earners, while significantly lowering the amount paid by individuals and corporations who benefit the most from our economy. Their flat tax at a "low, uniform 19%" would actually raise taxes on the lower and middle classes, while dramatically cutting them for the highest earners. Sadly, it seems that if the Hoover Institution wins its 25 year struggle to raise the taxes of those least able to pay them, the promise of "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage" will yet remain an even more dismal reminder of Hoover's failed public policy.

Employment Policy Institute/Center for Consumer Freedom/Center for Union Facts

Rick Berman is quite a guy. Back in 1991, he founded the Employment Policy Institute which to this day doggedly repeats a single point in publications from The New York Times to The San Diego Union-Tribune: raising the minimum wage, instituting a living wage, and requiring employers to put a penny toward employee health care are all guaranteed to destroy jobs and help almost no one. But why content yourself with a single one-note right wing think tank when you can run three of them?

Through his Center for Consumer Freedom, Berman argues against schools banning junk food and laws requiring restaurant menus to list calorie content. Through the highly abrasive Center for Union Facts, he runs newspaper ads attacking the labor movement and asserting that union leaders -- in general -- embezzle their members' dues money. His editorials, meanwhile, deride labor as a "perpetual money machine" and sound the warning that facilitating the process for employees to choose union representation could strengthen unions. And then? "Stronger unions use their greater financial strength to push the activist, liberal agenda that will elect more union-friendly legislators." They might even try to raise the minimum wage.

Cato Institute

The libertarian Cato Institute has always toed a consistent line: America would be better off without most of the laws, regulations, and public goods we have today. The privatization of everything from schools to Social Security is part of the plan. Accordingly, Michael F. Cannon, Cato's director of Health Policy, wants you to trust free markets with your life. Cannon advocates cutting the public safety net out of health care altogether. He makes the case against "conservatives [who] have been seduced into thinking we can achieve universal coverage in a free-market way," arguing that "a free market would not provide health insurance to all; some people are uninsurable..." And with that, Cannon is off organizing the "Anti-Universal Coverage Club." That's the last we'll hear from him about the "uninsurables" -- mostly very sick people with expensive medical conditions, who certainly cannot afford to pay for the care they need out-of-pocket -- because those of us who think that sick people ought to have access to medical care are "lefties and rent-seeking weasels." But Cannon needn't worry: while millions of Americans are still without adequate health coverage, and medical expenses are a leading contributor to personal bankruptcy, they're not feeling the squeeze at Cato, which declared assets of well over $22 million last year.

American Enterprise Institute

Observers from across the political spectrum have noted that a college education is out of reach for the majority of Americans. Most people have the soaring cost of tuition in mind when they say this. But Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve and now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (2006 net assets: $69 million), is talking about IQ. While experts on human intelligence are still debating the worth of IQ tests, with some arguing that the tests only measure the ability to take the test itself, Murray is eager to stake the educational future of America on it. To his mind, IQ tests prove that most Americans are too stupid for college. "It makes sense for only about 15 percent of the population -- 25 percent, if one stretches it -- to get a college education. And yet more than 45 percent of recent high school graduates enroll in four-year colleges... Government policy contributes to the problem by making college scholarships and loans too easy to get." You heard it from American Enterprise first, ladies and Gentlemen: too many Americans are getting a college degree. Let's get to work cutting those lousy scholarships.