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unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
July 28, 2014

Exposing Monsanto: Herbicide Linked to Birth Defects - the Vitamin A Connection


Exposing Monsanto: Herbicide Linked to Birth Defects - the Vitamin A Connection
Monday, 28 July 2014 09:27 By Jeff Ritterman, M.D., Truthout | Op-Ed

Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, with glyphosate as the primary ingredient, has recently been linked to a fatal kidney disease epidemic ravaging parts of Central America, India and Sri Lanka. A leading theory hypothesizes that complexes of glyphosate and heavy metals poison the kidney tubules. El Salvador and Sri Lanka have adopted the precautionary principle and taken action to ban the herbicide. In the United States, glyphosate is coming up for review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late 2014. Monsanto claims a low risk to human health, but the research is showing something very different. Will these health concerns be enough for the EPA to put restrictions on the herbicide - or to ban it altogether?

Monsanto's Claims of Safety

Thus far, Monsanto has been successful in portraying Roundup as a safe and effective herbicide. The Monsanto website claims:
Glyphosate binds tightly to most types of soil so it is not available for uptake by roots of nearby plants. It works by disrupting a plant enzyme involved in the production of amino acids that are essential to plant growth. The enzyme, EPSP synthase, is not present in humans or animals, contributing to the low risk to human health from the use of glyphosate according to label directions.

Public Kept in the Dark

Contrary to the company's claims of safety, a virtual avalanche of scientific studies on animals, including some funded by Monsanto itself, show alarming incidences of fetal deaths and birth defects. The record also shows that Monsanto has known since the 1980s that glyphosate in high doses causes malformations in experimental animals. Since 1993, the company has been aware that even middle and low doses can cause these malformations. These malformations include absent kidneys and lungs, enlarged hearts, extra ribs, and missing and abnormally formed bones of the limbs, ribs, sternum, spine and skull.

These startling revelations can be found in the report Roundup and Birth Defects: Is the Public Being Kept in the Dark? The document is authored by eight experts from the fields of molecular genetics, agro-ecology, toxico-pathology, scientific ethics, ecological agriculture, plant genetics, public health and cell biology. This report, written primarily for a European readership, is highly critical of the biotech industry and of the European Union's failure to evaluate glyphosate based on the science rather than on political concerns. It calls for an immediate withdrawal of Roundup and glyphosate from the European Union until a thorough scientific evaluation is done on the herbicide. From the report:
The public has been kept in the dark by industry and regulators about the ability of glyphosate and Roundup to cause malformations. In addition, the work of independent scientists who have drawn attention to the herbicide's teratogenic effects has been ignored, denigrated or dismissed. These actions on the part of industry and regulators have endangered public health. (Authors note: A teratogen is any agent that can disturb the development of an embryo or a fetus. The term stems from the Greek teras, meaning monster).

July 28, 2014

Rebuilding National Intelligence -- A 12-Step Plan


Rebuilding National Intelligence -- A 12-Step Plan
By Robert Steele
OpEdNews Op Eds 7/27/2014 at 08:38:49


Context -- Where We Went Wrong

National intelligence is a sub-set of the military-industrial-congressional complex that was created during World War II and then refused to go away. In the years following our touted victory over fascism we imported thousands of Nazis and facilitated the escape to Argentina of thousands more along with vast stores of stolen wealth; we also created a secret covert action fund (the Black Lily Trust) undeclared to Congress or the public, a fund that we used to restore fascists to power in Germany, Italy, and Japan.[2] We also turned Harry Truman's 1947 idea for a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) focused on integrating already known information,[3] into a clandestine and covert action hydra that today specializes in waves of indiscriminate assassination by drone,[4] rendition and torture,[5] and not-so-secret support to 42 of 42 dictators that are "best pals"[6] to a government that, as recent history has shown, works for the banks, not for the public. Connecting the dots, we have a federal government owned by banks, managed on their behalf by politicians whose principal foreign policy objective appears to be the cultivation of dictators and the subversion of democracy, all abetting the agenda of the 1% -- the banks -- instead of the 99% -- the public. This policy, by the by, is responsible for the flood of illegal immigrants compounding the 22.4% unemployment rate in the USA.[7]

As an afterthought to the CIA, in 1952 the National Security Agency (NSA) was created -- as an executive organ without a legislative charter -- to advance monitoring of foreign signals (Signals Intelligence or SIGINT) beyond what the military services already did. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) followed in 1961, to fund satellites capable of taking high-resolution images of Soviet targets (Imagery Intelligence or IMINT). Also created in 1961 was the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), intended by then Secretary of Defense McNamara to be a coherent single point of reference for decision-support to defense strategy, defense policy, defense acquisition, and defense operations. The two technical collection agencies, being vastly more expensive than Human Intelligence (HUMINT) or Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) became the darlings of Congress, where a 5% kick-back paid to the appropriate Political Action Committee (PAC) is the standard expectation for any outlay authorized and approved by Congress that is more often than not inconsistent with the public interest.[8] DIA, "led" in the past by flag officers unwilling to alienate the Services, was simply ignored and became a dumping ground, as did the National Geospatial Agency (NGA), for unpromotable mid-grade military officers.

On the counterintelligence front during all those years, we allowed J. Edgar Hoover, to use the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a personal tool for blackmailing elites both political and financial, while going through the motions of counter-intelligence and counter-espionage. Hoover gave his sacred mission no more than lip service, because he gained more personally by leaving traitors in power than by keeping government honest. Today, we have information suggesting that the NSA has replaced the FBI as the primary means of collecting lurid information with which to blackmail elites,[9] while also collecting insider trading information with which to create off-budget windfalls.[10] Meanwhile the NRO and the NGA have been far out-stripped by faster, better, cheaper commercial technology.

In 2004 we created the position of a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and abolished the historic position of Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), relegating the DCI to being merely the Director of the CIA. This was a military financial coup explicitly intended by Dick Cheney to marginalize the CIA and place all national intelligence and covert action budgets under predominantly military control. It was accompanied by a massive expansion of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence USD(I), who proceeded to neglect counterintelligence, Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), and expert human analysis, while embracing the industrial complex focus on spending tens of billions of dollars on technical collection and arcane scientific and technical means that have yet to yield any return on investment (ROI) validated by an ethical informed professional US Intelligence Community (US IC).
July 28, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan's proclivity for war


Pakistan's proclivity for war
Reviewed by Ehsan Ahrari
Jul 28, '14

For the past 15-plus years, Pakistan has been the unenviable focus of a variety of unflattering depictions of its state of affairs in scholarly and journalistic narratives. It appears as if various authors are in competition to select increasingly ominous phrases to describe that country and its cataclysmic state of affairs.

Some called it "the most dangerous place", "a country that is descending into chaos", a county that possesses a "Kalashnikov" culture, a "garrison state", or a "hard country".

As if following the same tradition, T V Paul's book, The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World, adds one more phrase, "warrior state", to portray it as a country where the security state has outgrown all other institutions and activities and where radical Islamization and its attendant obscurantism have been the consequences of state policy.

He describes Pakistan as a place where the chances for the decline of power of the security state are minimal and the prospects of the development of other institutions for the evolution of that country as a politically stable democracy or economically prosperous state are slim.
July 27, 2014

Navy secretary says combat ship costs will decline


Navy secretary says combat ship costs will decline
The Associated Press
© July 25, 2014


Operating costs for the U.S. Navy's newest ships will decline and "become more normal" over time, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday.

The Navy designed littoral combat ships to have smaller crews and lower costs than other vessels, but a Government Accountability Office report earlier this month said they each cost about $79 million to operate annually. That's more than the $54 million it costs to operate a frigate, which are larger and have more sailors on board.

As more of the ships enter the fleet and are used, the costs will be "well within acceptable limits" Mabus told The Associated Press during a visit to the USS Independence, the second littoral combat ship to be commissioned, while it participated in exercises off Hawaii.

"I think as we get into the operations, you're going to see them become more normal," Mabus said of the costs.



The USS Freedom, LCS #1 cost $584 million dollars, delivered. $79 million in annual operating costs is an overhead of 13.52%.

The USS Independence, LCS #2 cost $704 million dollars, delivered. $79 million in annual operating costs is an overhead of 11.22%.

Imagine a 10% annual operating cost on a $1.8 billion dollar Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (62 currently in service) or a 10% annual operating cost on a $5.6 billion dollar Zumwalt-class destroyer.

I'd like to see normal, Admiral. Wait a minute - what's normal operating costs on these things?
July 26, 2014

Gen. Dempsey: We're Pulling Out Our Cold War Military Plans over Ukraine


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs compares Russia activities to Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939; State Department makes new claims, but won't show the evidence

Gen. Dempsey: We're Pulling Out Our Cold War Military Plans over Ukraine
Jon Queally, staff writer
Friday, July 25, 2014

Hours after the U.S. State Department on Thursday claimed (though failed to describe) new evidence that Russia's military was both increasing the flow of arms to rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine and firing artillery at Ukrainian Army positions across its border, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey elevated the rhetoric against Russian President Vladimir Putin and directly invoked the idea that a new Cold War-like posture is now being taken by the U.S. military.

Speaking from the Aspen Security Forum, a defense industry conference in Colorado, Dempsey said Pentagon planners are now looking at military options “we haven’t had to look at for 20 years" and warned that Putin—whom he characterized as escalating the crisis inside Ukraine—“may actually light a fire” he cannot control. And not just in Ukraine or eastern Europe, Dempsey said, but globally.

Drawing a dramatic historical comparison, Dempsey equated Putin's alleged involvement in eastern Ukraine to the Soviet Union's invasion of Poland in 1939.

“It does change the situation. You’ve got a Russian government that has made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives. It’s the first time since 1939 or so that that’s been the case,” Dempsey said. “They clearly are on a path to assert themselves differently not just in Eastern Europe, but Europe in the main, and towards the United States.”
July 24, 2014

Obama Leads Republicans' War Against Russia:


Senate's Republicans Want U.S. War Against Russia Over Ukraine, Propose U.S. Weapons-Makers' Tax-Relief and Subsidy Act of 2014.
They'll Probably Get Their Way. They Carry Obama's Real Agenda.

Obama Leads Republicans' War Against Russia:
By Eric Zuesse
OpEdNews Op Eds 7/23/2014 at 07:43:03

S. 2277 in the U.S. Senate is a bill with 26 sponsors, all of whom are Republicans. No Democrats in the Senate support it. But the bill would be a dream for Obama, who quietly does: it's his actual policy. It aims to give him unlimited power to do to Russia what he wants to do to Russia: surround it with enemies and arm those enemies to the teeth. This Obama-Republican policy is now before the currently Democratic-majority Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and it proposes that the United States surround Russia with our nuclear missiles and Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABMs), and with American corporate investments (tax-favored and partly financed by the U.S. public) in Russia's adjoining countries of Ukraine and Georgia, plus in Moldova and in the Baltic nations near Russia, so as to make that strangulation even more provocative of a Russian military response, and thus of even more business to be generated for America's arms-dealers. This incredibly aggressive U.S. bill has the Orwellianly self-righteous, if not downright hypocritical, title of "Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014," and it might actually be more honestly titled the "U.S. Weapons-Makers and Oil Company Tax-Relief and Subsidy Act of 2014," because it proposes, among other goodies for Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, UT, KBR, Exxon, Chevron, etc. (quoting now the bill):


So, not only would the U.S. public be subsidizing U.S. armaments-makers and oil companies, but we would be guaranteeing or otherwise taking on some of the investment-risks, while the stockholders and executives of those American firms would reap all of the investment benefits, assuming that our ABM systems function perfectly and that we don't all get nuked to death ourselves, by this corrupt business deal that those 26 Republican Senators are seeking to turn into a new U.S. law signed by this "Democratic" President.

Right now, there are 51 Senate Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 Independents. So, Republicans are already close to controlling the Senate, and almost all of the Senate seats being contested now are held by Democrats. The latest odds are that there's an 86% chance that the 2014 elections will produce a Republican majority in the Senate as well as in the House, and only a 14% chance that the Senate will remain having a Democratic majority. Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that approximately an 86% likelihood exists that this bill will become law in 2015 (when Republicans are expected to be in the majority, and Obama is expected to sign it).

Perhaps a good investment opportunity now would thus be a construction company that builds bomb-shelters, especially nuclear-hardened ones (which don't exist, but never mind that, it'll be an "extra feature&quot . Republicans in Congress are probably already heavily invested in such firms, especially considering those 86% to 14% odds. On the other hand, any big and well-connected oil-or-gas firms would also be good, and so would any big "defense" (to use the Orwellian term) contractor (i.e.: the weapons-makers, and other aggression-merchants). Best might be a firm that's diversified in all of these war-marketing fields.
July 24, 2014

Normalizing Militarized Culture


Texas Governor Rick Perry guarding the border with Mexico to prevent children from entering the US

Normalizing Militarized Culture
By Bruce K. Gagnon
OpEdNews Op Eds 7/23/2014 at 11:31:47

The eternal race for president is on. Those first out the gate for the 2016 national election include Hillary Clinton and Gov. Rick Perry from Texas. Looming in the shadows is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (brother of G. W. Bush). The oligarchy will run two horses in the race - one from the Democrats and one from the Republicans - ensuring they pick a winner no matter who prevails.

With our mounting economic and environmental crisis the answer from the ruling oligarchy is more militarization. The photo of Rick Perry above is illustrative of that fact. Everything in America is stage managed - an endless public relations campaign -- Disney style. We are being led by this PR campaign to support a particular direction and it ain't for our benefit.

During times like these the message is widely sent out to all crazies, lunatics, and violent elements of society, those who have been in hiding because their views are not acceptable in a stable and peaceful culture, that they can now come out from behind the curtain. Thus we have recently witnessed the 'open carry' rallies where gun advocates take their weapons into hamburger joints and low-end department stores. The ruling oligarchy wants to normalize the militarized culture.

Now is the defining moment. If good hearted people shirk during these important times then we will hand our children a future certain to be one of chaos and madness. If we each help push back against this cultural disintegration then just maybe we have a chance to hold back the tide.


Gov. Goodhair is taking a page out of Dukakis' playbook:

You both look stoopid.
July 24, 2014

Keeping Spies Out: Germany Ratchets Up Counterintelligence Measures


Last year Britain's Independent newspaper exposed that Britain's GCHQ had established a "secret listening post" on top of the British Embassy in Berlin. The cylindric structure has since been removed.

Keeping Spies Out: Germany Ratchets Up Counterintelligence Measures
July 22, 2014 – 05:25 PM

Last Wednesday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière paid a visit to his colleague in the Foreign Ministry, Frank-Walter Steinmeier for a strictly confidential conversation about the currently tense relationship with the United States. Specifically, they planned to address the latest spying revelations and accusations. Before the meeting began, both ministers turned in their mobile phones. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has a small side room he uses for this purpose; part of the Foreign Ministry is in the former Nazi Reichsbank and has very thick walls. The room is now used to store smartphones and tablet computers when sensitive discussions take place.

The precaution reflects the significant disquiet and anxiety in Berlin's ministries and in the Chancellery as the summer holidays get underway. Slowly, ministry officials are starting to grapple with the true meaning of "360 degree" counterintelligence. It means defending yourself not just usual suspects like Russia or China. But also against Germany's closest allies, particularly the United States.

A few days ago, Chancellor Merkel reportedly told US President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation that anger over the US spying activities in Berlin's government quarter as well as the recruitment of an informant inside Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) foreign intelligence service has in no way subsided. Because Obama apparently expressed little understanding for the commotion in Germany, Merkel is now taking action.

The only thing she is lacking is a solid plan.
July 22, 2014

How US policies sealed Iraq's fate


How US policies sealed Iraq's fate
By Dahr Jamail
Jul 22, '14

For Americans, it was like the news from nowhere. Years had passed since reporters bothered to head for the country we invaded and blew a hole through back in 2003, the country once known as Iraq that our occupation drove into a never-ending sectarian nightmare. In 2011, the last US combat troops slipped out of the country, their heads "held high", as President Barack Obama proclaimed at the time, and Iraq ceased to be news for Americans.

So the headlines of recent weeks - Iraq Army collapses! Iraq's second-largest city falls to insurgents! Terrorist Caliphate established in Middle East! - couldn't have seemed more shockingly out of the blue. Suddenly, reporters flooded back in, the Bush-era neocons who had planned and supported the invasion and occupation were writing op-eds as if it were yesterday, and Iraq was again the story of the moment as the post-post-mortems began to appear and commentators began asking: How in the world could this be happening?

Iraqis, of course, lacked the luxury of ignoring what had been going on in their land since 2011. For them, whether Sunnis or Shiites, the recent unraveling of the army, the spread of a series of revolts across the Sunni parts of Iraq, the advance of an extremist insurgency on the country's capital, Baghdad, and the embattled nature of the autocratic government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were, if not predictable, at least expectable. And as the killings ratcheted up, caught in the middle were the vast majority of Iraqis, people who were neither fighters nor directly involved in the corrupt politics of their country, but found themselves, as always, caught in the vice grip of the violence again engulfing it.

An Iraqi friend I've known since 2003, living in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad, emailed me recently. He had made it through the sectarian bloodletting of 2006-2007 in which many of his Sunni compatriots were killed or driven from the capital, and this is the picture he painted of what life is now like for him, his wife, and their small children:
All the dangers faced by Iraqis from the occupation - arrests, torture, car bombs, and sectarian violence - those killings have become like a toy in comparison to what we are facing these days. Fighting has spread in all directions from the north, east, and west of Baghdad. Much of the fighting is between the government and Sunni insurgents who have suffered a lot from the injustice of Maliki's sectarian government.
July 22, 2014

Requiem for the American Century: Turning 70, Paragraph by Paragraph


Requiem for the American Century: Turning 70, Paragraph by Paragraph
by Tom Engelhardt | July 21, 2014 - 8:58am

First Paragraphs on Turning 70 in the American Century That Was

* Seventy-three years ago, on February 17, 1941, as a second devastating global war approached, Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life magazines, called on his countrymen to “create the first great American Century.” Luce died in 1967 at age 69. Life, the pictorial magazine no home would have been without in my 1950s childhood, ceased to exist as a weekly in 1972 and as a monthly in 2000; Time, which launched his career as a media mogul, is still wobbling on, a shadow of its former self. No one today could claim that this is Time’s century, or the American Century, or perhaps anyone else’s. Even the greatest empires now seem to have shortened lifespans. The Soviet Century, after all, barely lasted seven decades. Of course, only the rarest among us live to be 100, which means that at 70, like Time, I’m undoubtedly beginning to wobble, too.

* The other day I sat down with an old friend, a law professor who started telling me about his students. What he said aged me instantly. They’re so young, he pointed out, that their parents didn’t even come of age during the Vietnam War. For them, he added, that war is what World War I was to us. He might as well have mentioned the Mongol conquests or the War of the Roses. We’re talking about the white-haired guys riding in the open cars in Veteran’s Day parades when I was a boy. And now, it seems, I’m them.

* In March 1976, accompanied by two friends, my wife and I got married at City Hall in San Francisco, and then adjourned to a Chinese restaurant for a dim sum lunch. If, while I was settling our bill of perhaps $30, you had told me that, almost half a century in the future, marriage would be an annual $40 billion dollar business, that official couplings would be preceded by elaborate bachelor and bachelorette parties, and that there would be such a thing as destination weddings, I would have assumed you were clueless about the future. On that score at least, the nature of the world to come was self-evident and elaborate weddings of any sort weren’t going to be part of it.

* From the time I was 20 until I was 65, I was always 40 years old. Now, I feel my age. Still, my life at 70 is a luxury. Across the planet, from Afghanistan to Central America, and in the poverty zones of this country, young people regularly stare death in the face at an age when, so many decades ago, I was wondering whether my life would ever begin. That’s a crime against humanity. So consider me lucky (and privileged) to be seven decades in and only now thinking about my death.

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