Wednesday, December 18, 2013

PNG will be taking a break for the holidaze. Come back in the New Year for more high-impact blog in this cyberspace.  Cheers!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Range States Commit to Polar Bear Protection

There is guarded optimism from wildlife advocates about the recent International Forum on Polar Bear Conservation.  The WWF's Director General said Arctic states have gone some way forward to guaranteeing a future for the magnificent white bear.  He said, "the states have built on forty years of good conservation planning" and urged them to meet the challenges of the next forty years as global warming continues to reduce the Arctic Sea ice pack the bears need to survive.  The five nations that are home to polar bear populations agreed to work on managing habitat in ways that account for shrinking ice and increasing industrial development.  WWF said it will watch to see the intentions expressed are implemented by appropriate actions and will issue "annual report cards" to assess progress.  Despite the good words, climate change will ultimately erode the bears' habitat. Only a global switch to renewable energy will slow or perhaps halt the process from taking place.  US Person says, "throw the switch!"

Monday, December 16, 2013

America's Dangerous Myths

US Person wants to leave his readers with these thoughts over the holidaze. A nation must have a central legend that functions as an organizing principle, a means of binding people, often of diverse ethnic origins and cultures, into a cohesive whole. Countries without unifying myths can fall apart. This lack of mythos is experienced in those unfortunate countries formed on a map by other powers usually in the settlement of a great war or the end of a colonial era. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria and several African states are examples. The necessity of mythos to nation-building was recognized by Joseph Geobbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, who set about creating a new mythos for the new greater Germany, The Third Reich. His creation was a heady brew of Germanic and Nordic folklore, eugenics, and Nazi Party predilections towards mystical occultism*. History can testify to its effectiveness in mobilizing an entire ethnic population at home and abroad. It can be a force for good, or as in the case of Hitler's Germany very bad.

America has a mythos made of several intertwined themes derived from its history of national formation. In a nation founded by immigrants to an undeveloped continent, any stories that could bind a diverse population where important for national cohesion. They have been elaborated, reformulated and retold by America's own version of Geobbel's Reich Ministry of Propaganda & Enlightenment, Hollywood. The mythos need not be historically accurate but should be related to the experience of the people and appeal to their sentiments, not to their limited logicality. As such it is a sort of propaganda. As Hitler explained in Mein Kampf, "the art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public though an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses." A mythos, if too unrelated to reality, can be destructive to a nation's collective psyche. As one rock singer put it, we can "be poisoned by these fairy tales". There are three themes in the American mythos that are particularly pernicious.

Nature is forever exploitable. The opening of the frontier and migration westward was based on the exploitation of nature. Forest and prairie were cut and cultivated for agriculture after the indigenous people and large animals were forcibly and ruthlessly removed. Later, nature was exploited for timber and mineral wealth regardless of its effects on the land health or beauty. The process still continues today, enabled by the idea that natural resources are there for man's taking in perpetuity without social cost. Without this enabling myth, American capitalism is a dead end because it requires the expansion of capital based on the consumption of materials and labor. It is becoming increasingly apparent that this myth is not related to reality. Global climate change, species extinction, and desertification are just some symptoms of overexploitation of the planet's resources. However, it is more convenient to deny the symptoms than admit the falsity of such a central organizing principle, thus the corporatist propaganda and influence-peddling of climate change denial.

There is righteous war. This theme was fully developed in World War II when the United States went to war against racist and militarist governments bent on world domination. Its roots go back to the colonial rebellion against the British Crown, seen in the eyes of patriots as the oppressor of free citizens. The theme also permeated the Civil War in which the devastation of the South was justified on the grounds of ending slavery: "mine eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of the Lord". The idea of war being a righteous undertaking suffered dissolution in Vietnam. That war was a traumatic national experience which divided the nation. Young people, who were expected to fight the war, did not see what was essentially a war of Vietnamese liberation from colonialism as being righteous or morally defensible when America was fighting on the side of the old regime. The same disillusionment is present in the latest American wars that are purely chosen wars of empire. The Iraq War, supposedly a righteous war of liberation against a totalitarian regime, was an imperial expedition which degraded into a sectarian civil war that still smolders in a nation suffering from a lack of mythos, formed as it was by drawing lines on a map at the end of World War I. In Afghanistan America is supposed bring the benefits of a modern nation to a benighted land of tribalism in the best tradition of Teddy Roosevelt and his "rough riders" in Cuba. America will leave Afghanistan after the longest war in its history having accomplished little besides killing one man blamed for a singularly spectacular terrorist attack thirteen years ago. What improbable conflict will be pushed upon a weary populace using the disingenuous rhetoric of moral rectitude and noble virtue? Understandably, the political elite has to resort to mercenary or robotic means to accomplish its exploitation of foreign resources by force.

The gun is the guarantor of liberty. The revolver was known as "the equalizer" on the western frontier. With a repeating firearm designed for human killing in his hand a man could alter the balance of power between himself and his antagonists be they savages or thieves. It made the slave owner the equal of twelve slaves. The idea that a gun makes a person equal and keep him free is perhaps the most dangerous myth in American society. It totally misapprehends the fact that the United States is a nation of laws flowing down from its founding charter which included a provision for raising an armed militia to protect the state. The Second Amendment is not a license to create private arsenals. What a gun does is protect a person's privilege. As long as you are armed, your will be done until another comes along with more powerful guns or more skill in using them. Armed insurrection may be enticing to some deranged, supercilious, or shallow-thinking people, but one thing they can be sure of--the government has more guns than they do and our laws allow the state to use them in protection of itself.

*Henirch Himmler, head of the Gestapo and SS, was the Nazi leader with the most interest and belief in the occult and German paganism. Himmler founded the Ahnenerbe research institute dedicated to finding 'scholarly' evidence of the fictional Aryan race from which pure Germans were supposed to be descended. It reality it was in the business of myth making for propaganda purposes. Himmler also ordered established, at considerable cost, an extensive archive of documents related to witch trials. The archive contained over 140,000 items stored at Wewelsburg Castle. The Hexenforschung Sonndercomando within his Reich Ministry for Security was responsible for the library. Brigadef├╝hrer Franz Alfred Six was assigned to head the project which lasted from September 1935 until January 1944. Witches (hexen in German) were viewed by Himmler and his mystical colleagues to be repositories of esoteric knowledge for which they were persecuted by the Christian church. Hitler, who himself had a mystical experience as he recovered from blindness after a gas attack a Ypres, is said to have been alienated by his subordinate's outlandish attachment to esoterica. Albert Speer quotes Hitler as saying, "To think I may some day be turned into an SS saint! I would turn over in my grave!"

Sunday, December 15, 2013

True America: A Radioactive Picture

Did the 1954 Howard Hughes biopic The Conqueror have anything to do with the death of American conservative icon John Wayne? The film about Mongolian warlord Temujin, who later became Genghis Khan, was filmed near St. George Utah, downwind of the Nevada Proving Ground because the area's desolate desert scenery emulated Central Asia for Hollywood's purposes. The test site was used in the 1953 "Upshot-Knothole" series of eleven above ground "gadget" tests that included firing the M65 atomic cannon [photo below]. The Conqueror was sometimes dubbed "A RKO Radioactive Picture", wordplay on the famous RKO Pictures trademark. The crew and cast spent weeks shooting on contaminated soil, and 60 tons of it was transported back to studio interiors to match location shots. They knew the soil was contaminated; a publicity still shows Wayne holding a Geiger counter! What they did not know was the degree of danger radioactive fallout posed to their health and their children's health. 91 of the 220 cast and crew of the film developed cancers by the time People Magazine published a story on the cancer "epidemic" in 1980. The cancer incidence rate among a group this size was three times the expected rate. Forty-six have died of cancer including the film's male star (lung cancer usually attributed to smoking) and director Dick Powell (lymphoma). Noted Mexican actor and cast member, Pedro Armend├íriz, shot himself when he learned he had terminal kidney cancer. Wayne reportedly regretted playing the Mongolian warrior, a part intended for Marlon Brando, saying the moral of the picture was "not to make an ass of yourself trying to play parts you're not suited for." Sound advice, Duke. The film, released in 1956, was a box office flop and may have contributed to the demise of RKO Picture studios. The cancer count does not include local Navajos who played Mongol extras (without makeup). US Person thinks another moral to be gleaned from "The Conqueror" is: fallout kills. [amateur video]

15 kiloton "Grable" test at Frenchman's Flat in which 21,000 soldiers were deliberately exposed to fallout in conjunction with the Desert Rock V exercise

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Buddha's Birthplace Uncovered

It is said, "if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." Of course this instruction is not meant to be taken literallly, only to remind a Zen practitioner that he or she is looking in the wrong place for enlightenment. An international team of archeologists lead by Robin Coningham of Durham University, UK is looking for Buddha in the sacred groves of Lumbini [photo] where the oldest sacred texts say Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Prince Siddhartha Gautama who became the "enlightened one"--Buddha. They may have found his actual birthplace. A wooden structure some 2500 years old, surrounded by a courtyard, was located beneath a brick temple built three centuries later to honor the birth of the Buddha. Lumbini is in Nepal near the Indian border and has become a venerated site by the world's 500 million Buddhists. It was overgrown by jungle before its rediscovery in 1896 and is now a UNESCO world heritage site.

The structure found inside the sacred Maya Devi temple was scientifically dated to the sixth century. Oral tradition has it that Queen Maya Devi was traveling to her father's kingdom when she gave birth to her son beneath a sal tree at Lumbini. No date was associated with the tradition. If the carbon dating proves to be correct, it would put the Buddha's birth at 550AD given the wooden temple was built about then. Coningham and his team of searchers have spent three years excavating the shrine and work continues. While the archeologists worked, Buddhist monks and nuns continuously circled the site chanting prayers as the birthplace of their religious leader was exposed to 21st century sunlight.

Besides the obvious and important historical significance of locating the Buddha's birthplace, is the large economic impact of a major world religion's significant shrine. Villagers around Lumbini live on less than one and half dollars a day. Professor Coningham hopes they will benefit from the influx of wealth that is bound to come with the find. Hundreds of thousands already make the pilgrimage to Lumbini's sacred sites and that figure is bound to increase now that modern science has validated ancient religious tradition. The Asian Development Bank has provided nearly $90 million in funding to expand Lumbini's roadways and airport. The Gautama Buddha airport will be expanded to allow international flights and is scheduled to be completed by 2017. The Nepal government wants to develop Lumbini as a center for peace and has plans for 2 million visitors annually by 2020. Several Asian countries including China and Japan have already built monasteries at Lumbini. The Sacred Garden where Siddhartha was born is also used by local Hindus for celebrations.

Friday, December 13, 2013

'Toontime: Chicken or the Egg?

Editorial cartoonists are of two mind about the interim Iranian nuclear deal:
[credit: Gary Varvel]
A diplomatic solution is only as good as its implementation as the antagonists in Syria are finding out as they attempt to transport and destroy an entire chemical weapons arsenal in the middle of a civil war.  A much awaited UN report concludes chemical weapons were used repeatedly in the conflict, probably by both sides although the report did not assess responsibility. It will take Russian trucks and American technology plus a lot of good faith on both sides.  We are very good at building for war, but peace not so much.

[credit: Bill Day]

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Canada Trades on Benign Image to Spy for US

Canada enjoys a relatively benign image worldwide as a peaceful democracy full of friendly people without the nasty tendencies towards violence and imperialism the United States has. NOT. The latest revelation out of Edward Snowden's cache of top secret documents show Canada in a much more sinister role as the imperial lacky who does the master's spying in places Americans are not welcomed ("unique geographic access to areas unavailable to the U.S."). A four page memo dated April 3, 2013 and marked top secret shows Canadian operatives at work in stations abroad amassing data on 20 high-priority countries at the request of NSA. There is a close working relationship between the Canadian signals intelligence group, Communications Security Establishment (CSEC) and the National Security Agency according to the briefing paper. The relationship dates back to 1949 and is driven by "the defense of North America as a whole." For informed people the relationship is not that surprising since Canada has cooperated in mutual military defense of the continent from the beginning of the Cold War. Another Snowden document shows that Canada cooperated with US spying on the G20 summit held in Toronto in 2010. What is important is that Canada's powerful technological spying is safe from the prying eyes of US politicians looking to score points against an agency being vilified for widespread abuse of domestic spying powers granted in the so-called Patriot Act passed in the wake of 9/11 hysteria. Much of the computer hardware and software used by CSEC for encryption, decoding and interception of electronic data comes from NSA. Compared to NSA with a budget of over $40 billion CSEC is tiny, costing Canadians a mere $1.2 billion. Nevertheless, revelations about Canada spying for the US as part of the "Five Eyes" partnership of Anglo-Saxon nations could imperil its diplomatic operations abroad, so it requires high-level political approval.

Fukushima Disaster New Excuse for Fascism

The Japanese government is reacting to the continuing disaster at Fukushima Daichi in an alarming way. A new state secrets act may prevent outside journalists from reporting on the destroyed reactors that continue to leak radiation into the environment. Japan's major newspaper, Asahi Shimbun says the new law is comparable to those passed by the militarist government responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor. An article in the peer-review journal Open Journal of Pediatrics says that tiny quantities of radioactive fallout crossing the Pacific from Fukushima is increasing the rate of hypothyroidism in California newborns. The study of babies born during the year the meltdowns were occurring and those born in 2012 showed an increase in cases of confirmed hypothyroidism of 21%  Both Japanese and American officials have dismissed the health effects of Fukushima fallout. Nuclear critics say it is another instance of governments employing the "big lie" to cover up a disaster they want to ignore.

credit: Reuters
Fukushima Daichi has become a dumping ground for radioactive wastewater stored in tanks hurriedly built by temporary labor imported from Okinawa. The workers themselves warn of their shoddy construction. The bolted-together storage tanks are only intended to last until 2016 when a purification system is supposed to be operating, but the tanks are already leaking. The government has ordered the bolted tanks [photo] replaced with welded units. That task will take precious time and given the byzantine nature of Japanese construction labor it will take more time than expected in the west. Reuters reports Japanese organized crime which has run labor rackets for generations has penetrated the expensive Fukushima clean up operation. In a rare prosecution of a Yakuza boss, the defendant admitted to skimming a third of wages paid to workers in the disaster zone for two years. He was given an eight month suspended sentence because he apologized for his actions and quit his mob. So sorry! Police say 50 gangs with over a thousand members operate in Fukushima prefecture controlled by three major crime syndicates. Working conditions are bad and the constant threat of radiation sickness keeps many potential workers away from the disaster zone.

The clean up of four partially melted nuclear reactors will take decades even under ideal conditions. The potential catastrophe of seismic activity disrupting the dangerous rod removal process looms over the site. Fallout has already been detected in the United States and human health impacts from are now documented in California. TEPCo has proved itself inept and the government feckless. This is why there is international pressure for the operation to be controlled from outside the country to insure full transparency and safety. Japan's government seeks to hide it's "loss of face" behind draconian censorship laws with stiff prison sentences for leakers because that course is easier than dealing with the stark truths of Fukushima, the world's worst nuclear disaster.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Urban Coyotes--A Cool Canine Hits the Streets

Beats walking!
When city tweets need protection from cats, who do they call? Coyotes of course. It is well known that coyotes are staging an invasion of sorts as the adaptable canines move into urban neighborhoods. US Person can testify to the strange, eerie yipping of coyotes at night from a nearby urban ravine. A new study by Professor Stan Gehrt of Ohio State University says feral and outdoor cats take extra precautions to steer clear of coyotes which see them as prey or unwanted competitors. As a result of dodging their own predator, free-roaming cats do less damage to other wildlife in urban green areas; they also live longer and are healthier. Free-roaming cats partition their use of urban habitat leaving the natural areas in cities to the coyotes. Thus, wildlife living in the green zones benefit from the coyotes presence by their suppressing cat predation. Nature is re-establishing normal preditor-prey relationships in a landscape that has been almost completely created by man.

Where's my beverage?
Gehrt and his colleagues studied 39 feral cats near six parks and nature preserves in Chicago. They found that study cats avoided coyotes' core activity areas in green remnants and restricted their core activity to more developed parts of the city near homes and shops. Coyotes do traverse more developed areas [photos], but these are not part of their core areas because coyotes tend to avoid humans. Core activity areas are those places within a home range where the animal spends most of its time performing living functions such as hunting. Cats, who have a seven thousand year history of human association, are habituated to living near human activity. In other words, cats know that humans provide a degree of protection from larger predators as well as food. The research shows feral cats are less diseased and short-lived than often portrayed by germ phobic humans. Study cats were trapped, examined, blood samples taken, and fitted with radio collars. Blood samples indicated the cats had little exposure to feline AIDs and feline leukemia virus. The study also determined that altered cats were even healthier than those still sexually intact. Subject cats had only a 20% mortality rate over two years despite high traffic volumes and a large number of coyotes, a survival rate that surprised researchers.

Chicago has one of the densest populations of coyotes ever recorded in an urban area. The coyotes studied are already a part of Gehrt's long-term Cook County, Illinois Coyote Project underway since 2000. The "ghost of the plains" has transformed itself into the "ghost of the cities", a testament to the specie's intelligence, adaptability and fortitude.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

COTW: Minimum Poverty

Mother Jones did a story on the striking fast food restaurant workers and included charts showing how the minimum wage in America is guaranteed to keep a person slaving in poverty while the top 1% get rich off the excess value produced by cheap labor. The official federal minimum wage is a measly $7.25/hr that has not kept up with inflation. The real value of the minimum wage has decreased 22% since 1968 when it reached a barely livable level of $9.25/hr, adjusted for inflation:

The second chart above shows that a person earning the minimum earns less in a year than the official poverty level for three people--a nuclear family with one child. Even in rural Mississippi, one of the poorest areas of America, it costs $47,000 for a family of two adults and one child to live a modest, yet secure life. Someone earning a fast-food average wage of $8.94/hr. makes only $18,595 a year. 52% of fast-food workers get public aid like food stamps for a total of $7 billion per year.

On the other end of the scale are the super-rich. It is staggering to think that only 51 Americans have a total net worth of over $1 trillion! The concentration of wealth in this country is 30 times what it was just a decade ago. Of course it is not reasonable for a restaurant worker to expect a $25/hr. wage [below], but it is equally ridiculous for the top 1% of wealthy Americans to expect a 271% increase in their incomes. If the Current Occupant really wants to improve the economy and not just give a free ride to plundering plutocrats while making patronizing speeches, he could do it by raising the minimum wage. The University of Chicago, hardly a bastion of Marxist thought, did a study of 23 years of household spending data and found a $1 raise in the minimum wage produced $2800 in new consumer spending.

Don't let the broadcasted corporatist happy-talk about lower unemployment figures fool you, either. The more realistic measure of unemployment includes those who have given up looking for work or are otherwise "marginally attached to the labor force" This official U-6 measure of unemployment for November is 13.2% which is historically very high. And if you count the long-term discouraged workers defined out of existence by the Clinton administration in 1994, the unemployment rate is actually a whopping Depression-level 23%! Tell that to the next unctuous, corporate flack who thinks he knows you.

Monday, December 09, 2013

French Forces Restore Order in Central African Republic

credit: Reuters
After days of rampant killing, French troops backed by helicopters and armored vehicles restored order in the streets of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic over the weekend. Muslim bands of Seleka fighters have pillaged and slaughtered at least 400 persons since last Thursday. It was feared the attacks could ignite a civil war, so the UN Security Council authorized French military action last Thursday. French forces plan to move into the countryside to prevent revenge attacks by Christian vigilantes and disarm Muslim fighters. The Bangui disorders began when Christian "anti-balaka" militias attacked Muslims. The nominal head of government, Michel Djotodia expressed gratitude for the French intervention in it's former colony. Djotodia is a Muslim himself and was installed last March as the country's first Muslim president in a predominately Christian nation. He rapidly lost control of his own forces in a country that has basically collapsed. Half of the population is said to be in need of humanitarian aid and the prospect of severe food shortages and famine is at hand. Once again French President Hollande had to make it clear the 1600 man French force is intervening for humanitarian purposes, not to prop up a dysfunctional government. France recently intervened in Mali, another former colony, when Islamist rebels threatened to overrun the central government. That intervention was largely successful. A 2,500 man force from the African Union is also in the Republic, but has remained inactive. French troops hope to use AU soldiers to support their peacekeeping role. Saying it was "France's duty to act", President Hollande expressed optimism that the killing will be stopped shortly. The Central African Republic has been independent only since 1960.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Dead Kennedys Epilogue Reprise

The final installment of the Dead Kennedys reprise begins with this History Channel interview of former Parkland Hospital intern Evalea Glanges who found a bullet hole in the windshield of the Kennedy limosine. Her statement is corroborated by Dallas motorcycle cops Stavis Ellis and H.R. Freeman. The damaged windshield was replaced at Ford's River Rouge plant, but a glazier assigned to repair the limousine noted the bullet hole in writing. The original windshield was destroyed. First posted December 13, 2006.
Personally, the greatest stumbling block to me concluding a conspiracy existed to kill president John F. Kennedy was the Kennedy family's public acceptance of the Warren Commission Report. Why would Robert Kennedy, his dead brother's closest advisor and then head of the family, accept the obviously flawed "single bullet" theory and its sine qua non of a lone assassin if it was not accurate? At the time of JFK's death Bobby was Attorney General and still in charge of the massive and top secretAMWORLD operation. The starting deadline for the operation was only ten days away. The near nuclear exchange of the Cuban missile Crisis was only a year behind him. Khrushchev had promised Soviet intervention if the United States attacked Cuba. If the plan for a coup in Cuba backed by American military forces were exposed, a nuclear war with the Soviet Union over Cuba was a very real possibility. Part of the planning for AMWORLD included contingencies such as retaliatory attacks by Cuba against US officials and interests. Any investigation of his brother's death was therefore fraught with national security considerations that had to be protected from public disclosure.

Robert Kennedy apparently believed from the day of JFK's death that the anti-Castro Cubans involved in AMWORLD might also be involved in the assassination. A logical conclusion given that some of them were being trained to assassinate the Cuban head of state. It might have been possible that a Cuban double agent had infiltrated the covert coup operation. Or perhaps a embittered survivor of the Bay of Pigs disaster had sought revenge for the alleged betrayal of their cause by the President. Hours after JFK's death Robert told journalist Haynes Johnson who was working on a book about Manuel Artime, Bay of Pigs veteran and exile leader of a private army training in Nicaragua for the coup, "one of your guys did it". He even asked his friend CIA Director McCone if the agency had killed his brother. McCone told him the agency had not. The Director also said he thought two people were involved in the shooting. Later, after Mafia bag man Jack Ruby eliminated Oswald in front of his astonished Dallas police buddies and television, Kennedy came to believe that the Mafia was involved with his brother's death. He was emotionally crushed by the thought that his relentless prosecutions may have been responsible for motivating his brother's killers. He was aware that his government's collaboration with organized crime gave it the means and the opportunity to strike back. Harris Wofford, a close associate of Robert and later a Senator, wrote that, "There was nothing Robert Kennedy could do or say about it. There was no way of getting to the bottom of the assassination without uncovering the very stories he hoped would be hidden forever...[he] took no steps to inform the Commission of the Cuban and Mafia connections that would have provided the main clues to any conspiracy." Such clues would have led to the exposure of AMWORLD.

Certainly FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover did not tell what he knew. No friend of the Kennedys, he publicly proclaimed the 'lone nut' was JFK's murderer and insured that the single bullet theory became the official story. Less than a week after the assassination an FBI agent tied Ruby to a gun smuggling ring that involved former Cuban president, Carlos Prio. Prio had been a corrupt official with ties to the Mafia. He became a Miami businessman and anti-Castro activist. Prio was outed by the Kennedys from AMWORLD, but he attempted to get into it anyway. He clearly knew about the operation, as CIA informants reported. The FBI report about Ruby's connection to Prio became a Warren Commission document (#3036) but it was buried there in 26 volumes of paper.

Richard Helms was tasked with conducting an internal agency review of it's files on Lee Harvey Oswald. Helms withheld information on Oswald from his chosen investigator John Witten. Oswald was the subject of a pre-assassination counterintelligence file (201) within the super secret Special Investigations Group (SIG) which apparently detailed Oswald's political activities. Witten initially concluded that Oswald had acted alone, but after reading the FBI's Oswald report at the invitation of a Kennedy aide, Nicholas Katzenbach, he decided that his initial conclusions were "completely irrelevant". Helms removed Witten from the Oswald review and it was taken over by the chief of CIA counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton. An insomniac, paranoid personality, and hardline anti-communist, it was Angleton's business to know where all the skeletons were buried. He is reputed to have had a photo of J. Edgar Hoover engaged in sex with his male lover. The classified 201 file, if it still exists, may show that Oswald was controlled by CIA agents like David Atlee Phillips, aka Maurice Bishop. Any theory, be it evolution or how President Kennedy was murdered is only as valid as its probative power. The national security cover up of the mob conspiracy to eliminate the President explains many of the assassination's curious factual incongruities:

  • Attorney General Kennedy decided to transport his brother's body back to Bethesda Naval Hospital for an autopsy over the strenuous objections of Texas law officers who insisted that Texas law required an autopsy at Parkland. Secret Service agents nearly had a violent confrontation with Texas officials over possession of the corpse.

  • The autopsy was closely monitored by the Attorney General from the 17th floor suite of the secure military hospital via telephone to Admiral Burkley, the President's physician. Witnesses to the autopsy have stated that Burkley controlled the examination. O'Connor: Burkley said, "I am in charge."; Jenkins: "I think he [hospital Commander Humes] was being directed."; Custer:" He [Admiral Burkley] seemed like he was controlling everything."

  • The initial observations of the Parkland physicians are at glaring odds with the report of the military autopsy especially regarding the nature and extent of the massive head wound. Dr. Clark, the only neurosurgeon to see the wound, described it as "tangential" at the Parkland press conference. When this statement is correlated with his other statements about the wound, a consistent description emerges: a shot tangentially hitting the right side of the President's head blowing out the right rear octant. Dr. McClelland's observations coincide with Clark's description, "I noted that the right posterior portion of the skull had been could actually look down into the skull cavity and see that probably a third or so of the brain tissue...had been blasted out" The Parkland Hospital reports consistently describe a right, front side impact that exploded through the back of the skull, driving bone fragments and brain tissue backward. Such an explosive force could have easily obscured a front entry wound.

  • There was an apparent change of medical opinion from the conclusion of the military autopsy in the early morning of November 23, 1963 to the submission of the final report supporting two hits from the rear. Jenkins: "I came out of the autopsy totally expecting them (Drs. Hume, Boswell & Finck) to say that there were two shooters." Hospital Commander Hume burned his autopsy notes and the first draft of the report. Boswell's notes and statements support a bullet entering the occiput and driving forward to the mid temple region depositing a bullet fragment behind the right eye visible in the autopsy X-rays, and another fragment moving down through the mid brain fracturing the skull floor (CE397).

  • None of the Cuban exile leaders--Artime, Ray, Menoyo, Varona, William--who were part of theAMWORLD coup plan were interviewed by the Warren Commission despite Oswald's very public confrontation and debate with Carlos Bringuier of the DRE (Directorio Revolutionario Estudiantil) the summer before the assassination. This group was run by CIA agent David Atlee Phillips and subsequently, George Joannides. By July, 1963 the organization was CIA funded at the level of $18-25,000 per month. It is probably not coincidence that Joannides was brought out of retirement to serve as CIA liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1976. The House Committee was not informed of his control of DRE in 1963.

  • Ruby's background of organized crime was not completely investigated by the Warren Commission. Ruby, aka Rubenstein, had ties to the mob going back to at least 1937 when he was an organizer for the Chicago Scrap Iron & Junk Handlers Union, Local 20467. The union was eventually placed in trusteeship and its President Paul Dorfman suspended by the AFL-CIO. Ruby was involved in gun running to Cuba in 1959 and played a small role in Jimmy Hoffa's deal to sell C-97 aircraft and guns to Castro using stolen Canadian bonds to finance the transaction. This transaction in turn served as cover for CIA sponsored assassination plots against Castro. Ruby pleaded with Chief Justice Earl Warren in Dallas to be brought to Washington for protection and questioning. Ruby told the Justice, "I am making a statement now that I may not live the next hour when I walk out of this room." He had good reason to be scared. His contacts with made guys like Joe Civello, Marcello capo in Dallas, might have allowed investigators to unravel the tangled web of deceit surrounding the lone gunman cover story if they been directed to do so by higher authority.

  • What the theory of a mob hit and national security cover up doesn't not explain is whether or not any agents of the United States government had prior knowledge that President Kennedy was the target of a plot to kill him. Most prominent researchers rule out institutional culpability. But as one researcher publicly noted there is no evidence ruling out the possibility that some government agents--so-called 'bad apples'-- had prior knowledge of the Mafia's plan to kill the President in Dallas. Indeed given their official assignments, political views, clandestine experience, and close collaboration with organized crime to hit Castro, it is probable that they did have prior knowledge of the Mafia's intentions. That they did nothing to alert the Secret Service to the danger facing Kennedy in Chicago, Tampa and finally Dallas makes them a part of the assassination conspiracy even if they were keeping the secrets of AMWORLD or similar operations. However, there is no "smoking file" available, only informed speculation.

  • At the top of my 'bad apple' list are the officers: David Sanchez Morales, then deputy chief of JMWAVE responsible for operations against Cuba, who had a close personal relationship with mob boss and plotter Johnny Roselli. He had a reputation of being a hard drinker who talked to much. Morales was himself an assassin with a long history of black operations going back to the successful CIA assassination of President Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954. His identity was keep secret from the Warren Commission and the next four government commissions to investigate aspects of the assassination. Morales died of heart attack before he was scheduled to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA); David Atlee Phillips stated he was Oswald's case officer. He was a friend of Marcelo employee and government informant Guy Bannister. He even had a friend in common with Jack Ruby. More importantly, he ran DRE and Alpha 66 for the Company giving him wide knowledge of anti-Castro group activity, and in 1963 he was in charge of the CIA's Cuba operations in Mexico City. He also worked on AMWORLD as part of the Special Affairs Staff (SAS) within the Company. Oswald was linked to Eloy Menoyo's exile group through Phillips, aka Maurice Bishop. Before he died, he told a former HSCA staff member that "JFK was done in by a conspiracy, likely including rogue American intelligence people." Its my opinion he was one of the "rogues"; James Jesus Angleton,the master counterespionage agent, had connections to the anti-communist Mafia that probably dated to his OSS service in Italy and Operation Gladio. Angleton's ultra secret Special Investigations Group had a file on Oswald's political activity prior to Dallas. His group could have picked up indications that the mob intended to use Oswald as a patsy. He was assigned by Richard Helms to cut off the Company's in house investigation of Oswald. Helms, a career officer risen in the ranks and passed over for the Director's job by JFK, demonstrated his overriding loyalty to the Company when he failed to inform Robert Kennedy about the "executive action" program code named ZR/RIFLE and the Rolando Cubela plot to kill Castro (AMLASH). Helms could have been informed by either Morales or Angleton about the Mafia menace. He finally attained the Director's chair during the Nixon administration. In 1977 Helms was convicted of misleading Congress about Nixon's plan for a coup in Chile. There are others who could be named as having prior knowledge. We will have to wait until 2017 when the CIA's files on the Kennedy assassination are supposed to be declassified to find out who they may be.

  • Post Script: One mystery that can be solved now is the identity of the paid collaborator that was to replace Fidel Castro. If you think it was Che Guevara you are wrong. Castro himself thought it was the revolutionary hero. Perhaps this is one reason Che went to Bolivia to fight for the rebels there. Castro did not find out until 1990 that it was Juan Almeida, Commander of the Cuban Army He [was] the number two man in Cuba behind Raul Castro according to the CIA. This web article is dedicated to El Presidente, Fidel Castro. Viva Fidel!

    Despite his repeated, failed efforts to covertly eliminate Castro, Kennedy made an overture to the Cuban leader seeking an accommodation with the communists just prior to his murder in Dallas. His directive to begin withdrawing US forces from Vietnam was reversed by the Johnson administration soon after LBJ took office. The war continued for 12 more years at the human cost of 60,000 Americans and two million Vietnamese.

    Friday, December 06, 2013

    'Toontime: The Obama Enigma

    Seems some progressive cartoonists like Ted Rall are having trouble depicting the Current Occupant for fear of offending so-called liberals:

    But conservative Michael Ramirez has no such problem; he wins the PNG award for funniest presidential caricature of 2013:

    Thursday, December 05, 2013

    Electric Cars Surge Ahead

    Electric vehicles are a solution to a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Hopefully, Americans will fully embrace the newest old technology once there is enough infrastructure and incentives in place. A sign of progress is that ten different auto makers now offer an electric or hybrid vehicle, and more than 100,000 on now on US roads. Sales of plug-in electrics nearly tripled in 2012. Driving 100 miles using electricity costs only an average of $3.45 versus $13.52 using gasoline in a car that gets 27mpg (Can you say that about your monstrous SUV?) A typical electric owner saves between $750 and $1200 a year on fuel. The Union of Concerned Scientists says that by 2035 electrics could avoid nearly 1.5 billion barrels of oil per day or more than the 2012 output of all the drilling rigs in the much abused Gulf of Mexico. So drive an electric, and a dolphin will thank you.

    22,000 Elephants Slaughtered for Ivory

    The official 2012 estimate of 15,000 from the African Elephant summit being held in Botswana was released at its opening this week. But conservationist think 7,000 deaths were not reported to the CITES program monitoring elephant deaths. Grim and unsustainable numbers, indeed, despite a slight decrease from last years 25,000 deaths. Elephants increase at no more than 5% per year. Poaching is at 7.4% for 2012. At the current rate a fifth of all African elephants will die for their ivory. Poaching is out of control, especially in very poor countries like the Central African Republic. If these were human populations being discussed the bloodbath would be quickly labeled a genocide. Data for 2013 is not yet released. Preliminary estimates based on TRAFFIC ivory volume indicate 2013 illegal deaths may be ahead of 2011 and 2012. Of the two separate elephant species still on the continent, Loxodonta cyclotis or the forest elephant has been the most severely decimated by poaching. A study in Plos One says that the diminutive forest elephant could be extinct in the next decade given the incredible slaughter that is occurring. More than 62% of Africa's forest elephant population has been killed for ivory. Referred to as the "architects of the forest" because of their browsing, migration and seed dispersal functions, extinction of the forest elephant would be an ecological disaster.

    credit: Nuria Ortega
    Developed nations have a definite role to play in stopping the extermination of the African elephant. Developed nations are the market being supplied by the illegal trade, and their security is threatened by armed insurrections funded by ivory sales. Luis Arranz, director of Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo was interviewed by Arranz says the numbers and size of poaching gangs has increased with the price of ivory. Gangs number over 30 people and they carry machine guns. Terror organizations like the Lord's Resistance Army are now involved. Children who have escaped the "army" say the leader Joseph Kony, issued orders to kill elephants and send the ivory to him. To combat such armed force Arranz has only 140 wildlife rangers [photo] some of whom are too old to patrol. The park is about 5,000 square kilometers. Arranz and his men are plagued with equipment problems and lack of funds; he suspects that one poaching massacre of 22 elephants in several groups was perpetrated from a helicopter since no tracks were found near the bodies and the skulls of dead elephants revealed the bullets entered from above. The DRC has no money to fund the park, so it is primarily financed by the European Union. Arranz says the ivory trade must be completely banned and the Asian people consumers that owning ivory is neither therapeutic or chic.

    Wednesday, December 04, 2013

    COTW: Hunger in America

    In a land of plenty for some, hunger is widespread and growing in America:
    More people are using food stamps, the primary means poor Americans use to provide for themselves and family:

    Hunger affects all regions of the country and impacts children the most. 16 million children under the age of majority live in a household without food security. Childhood hunger hampers a person's ability to learn and they are more likely to suffer poverty as an adult. This chart from the PEW Research Institute puts America's hunger problem in a global perspective. Notice how US stands out?
    "Santa, all I want for Christmas is something good to eat."

    Tuesday, December 03, 2013

    English Badger Cull Ends in Whimper

    The Gloucestershire badger cull has been called off early as shooters failed to achieve even a reduced number of kills. An eight week extension was granted by Natural England, but the number of kills was so low that the licensing organization decided to abandon the cull as of noon Friday. The trials in both Somerset and Gloucestershire realistically should be considered failures, but failure never stopped an ideologically committed bureaucracy. To be effective in controlling bovine TB scientists think a kill rate of 70% is necessary. The total number of badgers killed did not get close to that mark. The Gloucestershire cull was called off when it failed to reach 58% of the estimated population. Somerset also failed to reach its target after a three week extension. An official from the Humane Society International called the cull effort a "fiasco". Activists want the government to adopt a vaccination policy without the useless spilling of blood. Apparently, kill targets were set so high they actually exceed the entire badger population in the kill zone; embarrassingly, the environment minister accused the badger of "moving the goal posts". If they only had guns to defend themselves too!

    Monday, December 02, 2013

    New Cat Species Discovered in Brazil

    credit: Projeto Gatos do Mato-Brasil
    As well understood as the family Felidae is to science, it is surprising to discover a new species of cat living in the Atlantic coast rainforest of Brazil. A new species of cat was announced on November 27, 2013. Scientists studying the molecules of the tigrina or oncilla as it is known in Central America is actually two separate species that do not inter-breed. One lives in the Atlantic forests and the other lives in the cerrado and Caatinga ecosystems of northeaster Brazil. The new cat is officially named Leopardus guttulus The two tigrina populations have been separated for at least 100,000 according to biologists Eduardo Eizirik who is the lead author of a paper describing the discovery in the journal Current Biology. Tigrinas are about the size of a large domestic cat and are related to better known ocelots and margays which they resemble. Tigrinas are found as far north as Costa Rica and west to Ecuador.

    Because of their beautiful coats and small size, tigrinas could become the target of the ruthless pet trade that could attempt to interbreed the wild feline with domestic cats to satisfy the demand for exotic breeds such as Savannahs ( a cross with the African cerval, Bengals (x Asian leopard cat) and the Chausie ( x Asian jungle cat). Both species of tigrina inhabit areas that are rapidly being degraded. Only 7% of the Atlantic coast rainforest remains in fragments. DNA testing revealed the existence of a new clouded leopard, the Sunda in 2006.  If the testing on the tigrina is generally accepted by science, it will be the 41st species of cat in the world

    Sunday, December 01, 2013

    Dead Kennedys III Reprise

    First published December 5, 2006. None of the mafia dons who claimed to have plotted to kill President Kennedy in Dallas needed to inflate their already notorious reputations. In detective work an individual is suspected of murder if they had the means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime. The dons had more than enough of all three. Original links may have expired.

    Carlos MarcelloJohnny Rosselli and Santo Trafficante had much in common. They met at least once or twice a year, sometimes at a secluded location to avoid their surveillance like Marcello's Churchill Farms outside of New Orleans. All were in business with Jimmy Hoffa who was relentlessly prosecuted by the Justice Department. All three had worked for the CIA and participated is some way in the ongoing Castro assassination plots. Through their drug and gun running activities, they had numerous contacts with Cuban exile leaders including those few chosen to directly participate in the AMWORLD operation. The three men were under intense pressure from federal law enforcement at Bobby Kennedy's direction. And fatefully, the Mafia leaders had men who managed to penetrate AMWORLD without Kennedy's knowledge.

    The authors of Ultimate Sacrifice think that by fall 1962 the bosses had begun to formulate a plan to assassinate President Kennedy using techniques they had become familiar with in their CIA work. They wanted to use snipers equipped with high powered, scoped rifles shooting at the President in a moving vehicle. They planned three assassination attempts on their own turf, Chicago, Tampa and finally Dallas. The Kennedy 'problem' came to head for the bosses in the summer of 1963. Frank Ragano, lawyer for Hoffa and Trafficante related in his book that Jimmy Hoffa, indicted for jury tampering, requested in July 1963 that President Kennedy be eliminated. Ragano passed the request on to Marcello and Trafficante the next day in New Orleans. The planning for AMWORLDhad begun in May and it gave the dons cover for their plot against JFK. By using people linked to that operation, they could communicate and move equipment for seemingly authorized reasons. More importantly, they could force the government to truncate an investigation of the President's death to prevent exposure of its own top secret assassination and invasion plot,AMWORLD.

    The relationships between CIA, Mafia, and Cuban exile groups were Byzantine in complexity. Much of the 900 pages of Ultimate Sacrificeare devoted to detailing them. At least fourteen of the bosses' associates had knowledge of AMWORLD and six of them actually worked on aspects of the coup plan. But a handful of key connections demonstrate how thoroughly the coup operation was compromised. Johnny Roselli (aka Fillippo Sacco, John Rawlston) had a close relationship with David Morales, deputy chief of station of JMWAVE, the huge Miami CIA station. Morales had a long history, even by 1963, of covert ops. He had operated out of the US embassy in Havana under State Department cover, participated in the CIA sponsored 1954 coup against the President Arbenz of Guatemala, and supported the bloody suppression of the Tupemaro guerrillas in Uruguay. A trained assassin, he was considered effective but dangerous by his own colleagues.

    Besides running a team of exile Cuban snipers in Key Largo and handling poison pills intended for Castro, Roselli and Trafficante associate John Martino had organized operation TILT, backed by the CIA, to infiltrate exiles into Cuba to bring back Soviet technicians willing to defect. The team was inserted, never to be heard from again. But the operation was useful for cover as Roselli later claimed that the exiles had been captured, tortured and turned around for use against Kennedy. Martino used a similar story with interviewers, claiming in 1964 that JKF had been killed by Cuban intelligence (who had allegedly recruited Oswald) in revenge for CIA coup attempts. Amazingly, the FBI knew about Martino claims that President Kennedy was involved in a plot to overthrow Castro when he was killed. The FBI memo about Martino's knowledge of a secret operation became aWarren Commission Exhibit (#657)! Later in 1975 his story changed and he admitted to a Miami newspaper that he spread false information about Oswald. He is alleged to have told his wife on the morning of November 22, 1963, "Flo, they're going to kill him [Kennedy]. They're going to kill him when he gets to Dallas."

    The Chicago mob bribed Cuban exile leader Tony Varona, a CIA asset, Trafficante intimate and chosen participant in the AMWORLD operation. Varona's ties to the Mafia predated the Bay of Pigs to when he approached Meyer Lansky for financing of his exile group. The bribe is documented to have occurred at the same time Varona decided to join the AMWORLD operation. The CIA memo from August,1963 states based on an informant that Varona had been given $200,000 by Sam Giancana. Trafficante attempted to bribe Harry Williams (aka Enrique Ruiz-Williams) the Kennedys' Cuban exile coordinator. Williams went to a Miami bar to meet a CIA agent when he found Trafficante waiting for him in the bar. Trafficante wanted to give Williams "big" money so he could get his casinos back if the coup plan was successful. He turned the don down. Cuban exile leaders the mob could not corrupt, they implicated by association. Eloy Menoyo had been burned in a gun deal with Trafficante so he was cautious when dealing with him. But the mob was able to arrange a public meeting between Menoyo's trusted associate Anotonio Veciana (head of the violent Alpha 66 exile group), CIA propaganda expert and Oswald case officer David Atlee Phillips (aka Maurice Bishop) and Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas three months before the assassination. Trafficante, through John Martino and former Cuban death squad leaderRolando Masferrer, also successfully linked Oswald to a supporter ofManolo Ray, another of the five Cuban exile leaders in the AMWORLD operation. Silvia Odio was contacted at her Dallas apartment in September, 1963 by two Cubans who said they were members of Junta Revolucionario, Ray's exile group. The two Cubans introduced her to a third man, "Leon", who Odio later positively identified as Lee Harvey Oswald.

    The mob also used double and even triple agents to penetrateAMWORLDRichard Cain (aka Ricardo Scalzetti) is the most striking example of a man leading several lives at once. His existence must have been very stressful. Not only was he Chief Investigator for the Cook County Sheriff's office in 1963 and an FBI informant but he had worked for the CIA as an electronic surveillance specialist in 1962. Cain had helped bug a communist embassy in Mexico City. A year later he also became an informant for the CIA on undercover activities of Cubans in the Chicago area. He informed the agency about the Varona bribe (despite the document notation to the contrary). But his many talents did not stop there. He was a 'made' member of Giancana's crime family. Cain admitted that he had worked covertly for Giancana and had been on his payroll while a member of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County Sheriff's office from 1962-64. Cain had also been a part of the CIA-Mafia plots against Castro.

    Guy Banister, former Chicago FBI chief also fits the category of double agent. In 1963 he was working as a private detective in New Orleans. He had worked for Carlos Marcello and knew David Ferrie, Marcello's pilot. But Banister also had intelligence connections too. His former business partner was Carmne Bellino, a JFK aide, and he had worked with General Carroll who had become head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. More importantly, Banister had worked for Tony Varona's Cuban Revolutionary Counsel (CRC) doing background checks. CRC was backed by the Kennedys and had been set up by David Atlee Phillips. E. Howard Hunt, later one of the White House 'plumbers', was its CIA advisor. Banister's office was in the same building as the CRC's New Orleans office. Ferrie was the local leader's assistant. Roselli visited Banister in the summer of 1963.

    Both Banister and Ferrie knew Lee Harvey Oswald and both knew aboutAMWORLD. Banister employed Oswald in the summer of 1963. Ferrie was a pilot instructor for Oswald's Civil Air Patrol unit. Oswald's uncle, with whom he lived for time, was a Marcello bookie. Oswald himself may have been a cut out working for the CIA and/or Naval Intelligence as part of the plan to get assets into Cuba for anti Castro operations. This possibility could explain Oswald's strange trip to the Cuban and Russian embassies in Mexico City just weeks before the assassination. Oswald's allegedly thick military intelligence file is still classified. Regardless of Oswald's real status, Carlos Marcello would have been aware that Oswald would make a good patsy given Oswald's public pro Castro stance as the one man New Orlean's chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

    The Mafia bosses also had one more thing in common: They all confessed during their lifetimes to plotting the murder of President Kennedy. Next: Dead Kennedys Epilogue