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How could he?

Was it an example of immaturity, reminding one of a child who becomes angry in the middle of a game and takes his ball home?

How could Stanley Cup winning goaltender Tim Thomas, a hero of the average man, pass up a photo op with President Obama, who had invited his team to the White House some seven months after they won the championship?

It was "Bush League. Shabby. Immature. Unprofessional and Self-centered," wrote Hockey Hall of Fame writer Kevin Paul Dupont in the Boston Globe.

Or was it?

I think not.

Tim Thomas, a goaltender who took years to achieve anything and spent a good part of his checkered career playing in Europe, is a maverick. He claims the right to think for himself, a dangerous idea in this age of get along and go along. And he made his point by being the only Bruin not to attend one of these traditional championship audiences in which the modern imperial president, a person who can make war with little objection from Congress, basks in the accomplishment of a championship team.

As a longtime Bruins fan, I've read Dupont's excellent hockey analysis over the years. Yet, from the time to time, he has slipped in comments in his hockey columns that public schools and other government departments are underfunded. Dupont has every right to criticize Thomas.

However, it would be nice if, as he sets himself up as the political critic of hockey players, he would disclose his own political sympathies. I would guess that, like most of the Boston Globe staff, he likely believes in the principle of more government and voted for Obama.

But I must not forget the principled man who did this: Tim Thomas. He is a man who caused himself much grief by standing alone. Until recently he was an apolitical hockey hero who came out of nowhere to become a champion. Everyone liked or at least respected him.

Now he is a target of the politically correct; of the enablers of President Obama who pretend that everything is fine in America; who want to forget that more and more of our young people are dying every day in useless wars, that he is spending the country into bankruptcy and that the president's Keynesian policies – and he is certainly not the first president who followed these failed policies – have made things even worse than when he took over from another failed president, George W. Bush.

So why did the "shabby" (sic) Tim Thomas do what he did? We're told by Dupont that his comments are part of "the right wing/conservative/Tea Party end of our political spectrum for the last 2-3 years."

The last two to three years? It must be opposition to President Obama, whose policies Dupont says are making things a little better. (Very little, I would say). Here let's listen to Dupont:

"Politically our nation is a mess," Dupont says (It's probably those damn Tea Party types who want less government), "but the material Property of the People of the people at least seems to be getting better."

Does it, now?

In a quarter century of living in Queens, New York I've never seen more empty stores in our commercial strips. Possibly, Obama, who I doubt has ever studied the Keynesian policies he doggedly pursues, has never heard the comments of a former British prime minister, someone who made the same errors but learned:

"We used to think that you could just spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending,' said British prime minister James Callaghan in September 1976. "I tell you, in all candor, that the option no longer exists; and that insofar as it ever did exist, it only worked by injecting bigger doses of inflation into the economy followed by higher levels of unemployment as the next step," Callaghan said.

But let us not forget this goaltender who so angers the politically correct. He issued a short statement at NHL.com when he decided to pass up a photo-op with the president. Let's look at his comments, the comments that Dupont dismisses as "blather."

Thomas, in a wonderfully short statement, explains his White House absence by writing, "I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties and Property of the People."


But it gets better.

"This is being done at the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government," Thomas writes.

As a journalist who has written against the Iraqi wars, who has been shocked by the Patriot Act and who sees more of his property taken by various levels of ravenous government, and who believes that limited government was the original idea of our now perverted constitution, I was delighted by Thomas' words.

But isn't Dupont warning us that Thomas is part of a vast right wing conspiracy?

Sorry, Dupont, you obviously missed this part of the statement: "This was not about politics or party," Thomas explains, "as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in this country."

Well said, Tim Thomas. Oh, and one more thing before I shut down. The reason why the Duponts of this world can never understand an individual like Thomas is because, right or wrong, agree or not, he did what he did because he believed in something. Thomas would refuse to goose step even if everyone else in our leviathan world was goose stepping.

I would respect that, even if Thomas and I didn't share the same value: the love of liberty. That's right of the individual, as F.A. Hayek explains in the first sentence of The Constitution of Liberty, to go about his or her life with the maximum of liberty. And pace modern liberals, many of whom are de facto socialists, that also means economic liberty.

Thomas is a maverick. And J.S. Mill reminds us in On Liberty that the maverick serves society even when he's wrong!


When he's wrong he is still forcing us to think of why we believe in something. The maverick keeps our brains from going to sleep. That's something we sorely need in this Fahrenheit 451 age of endless television and cell phone calls. (Thanks for waking up some people out of their mental slumbers, Tim Thomas. But cuidado, senor. Some people would prefer to sleep forever until republican virtue and limited government are dead letters!)

And then there is another point to consider from On Liberty. Maybe, just maybe, the maverick is right and rest of us are wrong. Thankfully truth is not based on majority votes.

Ultimately, Thomas, taking Polonius' counsel in Hamlet, made the right choice because he was true to himself. It's all right there at the end of Thomas' magnificent little statement: "This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL."

The hockey player Tim Thomas will never create half the buzz or excitement of the great Robert Gordon Orr. Yet Tim Thomas will always be my favorite Bruin.

Tu Ne Cede Malis

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Unless I am seriously mistaken or misinformed, the rate of unemployment in the U.S. remains high and the foreclosure rate on homes is approaching the level of the Depression years. Two major bond rating companies, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s just warned that, if the federal government doesn’t stop spending and borrowing, America’s Triple-A highest ranking will be down-graded.

Along with all the other things in the federal budget wish list for 2011 are millions to be spent on climate change.

It helps to understand how obscene this is if you pause to consider (1) there is not one damn thing anyone can do about climate change, (2) climate change has been researched and studied since the late 1980s, enough to fill an entire wing of the Congressional Library to hold all the reports, and (3) the only climate change Americans really need to know about is what the weather will be tomorrow.

With a tip of the hat to Climatequotes.com and the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) report on “research development, fiscal year 2011”, let me share just a few of the ways the Obama administration intends to squander your money.

The magic number is $2,481,000 and it represents specific amounts devoted to “climate change” research or other programs requested for the 2011 budgets by an alphabet soup of federal agencies that include the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, Department of Energy (DOE), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Department of Agriculture (DOA).

The figures cited all come from chapter 15 of the AAAS report and you can access it via Climatequotes.com.

NOAA’s total budget request is for $5.6 billion, an increase of 17%. It intends to devote $437 million for climate research funding, an increase of $77 million over last year.

Over at the National Science Foundation (NSF), its budget of $7.4 billion (that’s a lot of science!) includes a request for $480 million for Atmospheric and Earth Sciences, $765.5 million for NSF’s Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability program and $19 million for a joint program with DOE “to promote education in clean energy research. An additional $10 million would fund “Climate Change Education” in the nation’s schools. It’s not education, it’s indoctrination.

The Department of Energy which currently is projecting that permits for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico won’t be forthcoming until, maybe, June. DOE seems oblivious to the fact that the price of oil is set to hit $100 a barrel and higher costs will hit everyone driving anything using gasoline or diesel fuel. Fuel oil prices will rise and any business that uses oil or anything made with oil will be forced to raise its prices. In short, everything.

DOE, however, is in no hurry and, of course, the Obama administration is dead set against ANWR or off-shore exploration and extraction of the BILLIONS of barrels of crude oil projected to exist.

However, DOE is set to receive $28.4 billion in 2011 and that includes $4.6 billion for research and development in its Office of Science and $2.4 billion for energy research and development. Its Office of Biological and Environmental Research is devoted to atmospheric science, including “climate modeling”, which would be allocated $627 million. Last time I checked, oil, coal, and natural gas were not found in the “atmosphere”, but rather were extracted from deep within the Earth.

The entire global warming hoax was and is based on “climate modeling”, all of which consistently found that the Earth was warming at an alarming rate. Except that the Earth is NOT warming. It has been cooling since 1998. And DOE intends to waste $627 million on more modeling. It is worth noting that the most sophisticated models of the National Weather Bureau still cannot predict with any confidence what the weather – not the climate – will be next week.

The Environmental Protection Agency, gearing up to regulate all utilities that produce carbon dioxide and all other industries that do the same, has zero authorization to do so under the Clean Air Act. It is CO2 that is designated by the warmists as the chief culprit for the global warming that is NOT happening.

Despite this, EPA has requested $169 million “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, with $43.5 million in new funding for “regulatory efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” through the Clean Air Act. And it wants $22 million for its Global Change Research Program. It is time to shut down this rogue agency before it totally destroys the economy.

Even the Department of Agriculture wants $159 million for “climate change research”, an increase of 42% and $179 million for renewable energy, to “help farmers.” Farmers are heavy users of fossil fuels to operate the machinery needed to till, plant, and harvest crops. They need reliable energy, not "renewable" energy.

The Recovery Act of 2009 has managed to blow more than $600 million on climate change research and billions on greenhouse gas mitigation.

This is just the tip of the “climate change” rip-off in terms of billions wasted or soon to be wasted on “research” that can only be deemed an obscene diversion of taxpayer money that will not benefit a single taxpayer, generate any new jobs except for those in government agencies, and further bankrupt a bankrupted nation about to have its credit rating reduced.

The “scientists”, “regulators”, and “administrators” feasting off this federal largess should be handed a shovel to earn a living on one of those “shovel ready” projects we were told about.

Beyond that, if Congress was really intent on cutting back on spending, they could begin by defunding or shutting down the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and all the other federal grifters with their snouts rooting around in the climate change trough.

Reprinted with permission from Warning Signs.

Alan Caruba founded The National Anxiety Center in 1990 where this series is posted. An author, business and science writer, he blogs daily at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.

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There really is no mystery to solving the nationwide bed bug epidemic. In 1946 the solution was DDT. Today the solution could still be DDT if it hadn’t been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s and, since then, any number of other beneficial pesticides.

I know something about this because, as a public relations counselor I have worked with pesticide manufacturers in the past and elements of the pest control industry today.

The problem isn’t so much the bed bugs as the brainwashing of Americans to believe that pesticides are worse than the pests. One of the reasons Americans live in an essentially pest-free environment in their homes, offices, restaurants, hotels, and elsewhere is the widespread use of pesticides, despite decades of effort by environmental organizations to spread and maintain an irrational fear of pesticides.

In the years following World War Two, the pest control industry had eliminated bed bugs to a point where today’s generation of pest control professionals literally had no experience dealing with them when they began to reappear in American homes, hotels, and other structures.

What is the Environmental Protection Agency’s answer? It is to hold bed bug “summits” in which industry and other experts testify to the obvious necessity to authorize the use of existing pesticides and expedite the registration of new formulations to rid the nation of this pest.

Today there is only one pesticide, Propoxur, known to effectively knock down a bed bug infestation, but when Ohio pest control professionals asked the Environmental Protection Agency for permission to use it, it was denied.

In December, Forbes magazine had an article, “America’s Most Bed Bug-Infested Cities.” Is it any surprise that three of Ohio’s cities, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton, were identified as the most infested?

Among the other cities cited as suffering major bed bug infestations were New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

A January 11th article in The Wall Street Journal, “City’s Problems with Bedbugs Getting Itchier” reported a seven percent increase in complaints about bed bugs. “Nationally,” the article noted, “one out of five Americans has had a bedbug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered the pests at home or in a hotel, according to the National Pest Management Association.”

The bed bug epidemic owes more to governmental regulation than to the experience and expertise of pest control professionals, all of whom must be licensed and certified by their respective States. Given the pesticides to address the epidemic, the industry could eliminate it.

It is shameful that America has to endure this epidemic, not just in terms of the physical harm that people encounter from it, but because it is entirely preventable. We are fortunate that bed bugs do not spread disease, despite the discomfort of their bites.

The last EPA bed bug summit heard 34 suggestions that would expand the bureaucracy at every level of government and expand training and licensure requirements. The answer is not more bureaucracy, but less. Not more paperwork, but the application of existing and new pesticides to rid America of the bed bugs.

The answer is more realism, less fear-mongering about pesticides, and the removal of regulatory barriers so that the pest control industry nationwide can do what it does best, eliminate bed bugs and other insect pests that spread disease and destroy property.

Reprinted with permission from Warning Signs.

Alan Caruba founded The National Anxiety Center in 1990 where this series is posted. An author, business and science writer, he blogs daily at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.

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The following appeared in the May-June 2000 issue of Probe magazine, (Vol.7, No.4) and is mirrored from http://ctka.net/pr500-king.html with permission of the author. We are grateful for Jim Douglass' "being there" and for his penetrating exploration and accounting of the 20th Century's true "trial of the century."

According to a Memphis jury's verdict on December 8, 1999, in the wrongful death lawsuit of the King family versus Loyd Jowers "and other unknown co-conspirators," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a conspiracy that included agencies of his own government. Almost 32 years after King's murder at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, a court extended the circle of responsibility for the assassination beyond the late scapegoat James Earl Ray to the United States government.

I can hardly believe the fact that, apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on in it. After critical testimony was given in the trial's second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, "Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson's trial was the trial of the century. Clinton's trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who's here?"

What I experienced in that courtroom ranged from inspiration at the courage of the Kings, their lawyer-investigator William F. Pepper, and the witnesses, to amazement at the government's carefully interwoven plot to kill Dr. King. The seriousness with which U.S. intelligence agencies planned the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. speaks eloquently of the threat Kingian nonviolence represented to the powers that be in the spring of 1968.

In the complaint filed by the King family, "King versus Jowers and Other Unknown Co-Conspirators," the only named defendant, Loyd Jowers, was never their primary concern. As soon became evident in court, the real defendants were the anonymous co-conspirators who stood in the shadows behind Jowers, the former owner of a Memphis bar and grill. The Kings and Pepper were in effect charging U.S. intelligence agencies – particularly the FBI and Army intelligence – with organizing, subcontracting, and covering up the assassination. Such a charge guarantees almost insuperable obstacles to its being argued in a court within the United States. Judicially it is an unwelcome beast.

Many qualifiers have been attached to the verdict in the King case. It came not in criminal court but in civil court, where the standards of evidence are much lower than in criminal court. (For example, the plaintiffs used unsworn testimony made on audiotapes and videotapes.) Furthermore, the King family as plaintiffs and Jowers as defendant agreed ahead of time on much of the evidence.

But these observations are not entirely to the point. Because of the government's "sovereign immunity," it is not possible to put a U.S. intelligence agency in the dock of a U.S. criminal court. Such a step would require authorization by the federal government, which is not likely to indict itself. Thanks to the conjunction of a civil court, an independent judge with a sense of history, and a courageous family and lawyer, a spiritual breakthrough to an unspeakable truth occurred in Memphis. It allowed at least a few people (and hopefully many more through them) to see the forces behind King's martyrdom and to feel the responsibility we all share for it through our government. In the end, twelve jurors, six black and six white, said to everyone willing to hear: guilty as charged.

We can also thank the unlikely figure of Loyd Jowers for providing a way into that truth.

Loyd Jowers: When the frail, 73-year-old Jowers became ill after three days in court, Judge Swearengen excused him. Jowers did not testify and said through his attorney, Lewis Garrison, that he would plead the Fifth Amendment if subpoenaed. His discretion was too late. In 1993 against the advice of Garrison, Jowers had gone public. Prompted by William Pepper's progress as James Earl Ray's attorney in uncovering Jowers's role in the assassination, Jowers told his story to Sam Donaldson on Prime Time Live. He said he had been asked to help in the murder of King and was told there would be a decoy (Ray) in the plot. He was also told that the police "wouldn't be there that night."

In that interview, the transcript of which was read to the jury in the Memphis courtroom, Jowers said the man who asked him to help in the murder was a Mafia-connected produce dealer named Frank Liberto. Liberto, now deceased, had a courier deliver $100,000 for Jowers to hold at his restaurant, Jim's Grill, the back door of which opened onto the dense bushes across from the Lorraine Motel. Jowers said he was visited the day before the murder by a man named Raul, who brought a rifle in a box.

As Mike Vinson reported in the March-April Probe, other witnesses testified to their knowledge of Liberto's involvement in King's slaying. Store-owner John McFerren said he arrived around 5:15 pm, April 4, 1968, for a produce pick-up at Frank Liberto's warehouse in Memphis. (King would be shot at 6:0l pm.) When he approached the warehouse office, McFerren overheard Liberto on the phone inside saying, "Shoot the son-of-a-bitch on the balcony."

Café-owner Lavada Addison, a friend of Liberto's in the late 1970's, testified that Liberto had told her he "had Martin Luther King killed." Addison's son, Nathan Whitlock, said when he learned of this conversation he asked Liberto point-blank if he had killed King.

"[Liberto] said, 'I didn't kill the nigger but I had it done.' I said, 'What about that other son-of-a-bitch taking credit for it?' He says, 'Ahh, he wasn't nothing but a troublemaker from Missouri. He was a front man . . . a setup man.'"

The jury also heard a tape recording of a two-hour-long confession Jowers made at a fall 1998 meeting with Martin Luther King's son Dexter and former UN Ambassador Andrew Young. On the tape Jowers says that meetings to plan the assassination occurred at Jim's Grill. He said the planners included undercover Memphis Police Department officer Marrell McCollough (who now works for the Central Intelligence Agency, and who is referenced in the trial transcript as Merrell McCullough), MPD Lieutentant Earl Clark (who died in 1987), a third police officer, and two men Jowers did not know but thought were federal agents.

Young, who witnessed the assassination, can be heard on the tape identifying McCollough as the man kneeling beside King's body on the balcony in a famous photograph. According to witness Colby Vernon Smith, McCollough had infiltrated a Memphis community organizing group, the Invaders, which was working with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In his trial testimony Young said the MPD intelligence agent was "the guy who ran up [the balcony stairs] with us to see Martin."

Jowers says on the tape that right after the shot was fired he received a smoking rifle at the rear door of Jim's Grill from Clark. He broke the rifle down into two pieces and wrapped it in a tablecloth. Raul picked it up the next day. Jowers said he didn't actually see who fired the shot that killed King, but thought it was Clark, the MPD's best marksman.

Young testified that his impression from the 1998 meeting was that the aging, ailing Jowers "wanted to get right with God before he died, wanted to confess it and be free of it." Jowers denied, however, that he knew the plot's purpose was to kill King – a claim that seemed implausible to Dexter King and Young. Jowers has continued to fear jail, and he had directed Garrison to defend him on the grounds that he didn't know the target of the plot was King. But his interview with Donaldson suggests he was not naïve on this point. [post_title] => The Martin Luther King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-martin-luther-king-conspiracy-exposed-in-memphis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-07-03 12:58:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-07-03 17:58:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.lewrockwell.com/2011-x/columns/douglass-jim1.1.1.html [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => article [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_title_2] => The Martin Luther King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis [subtitle] => [directory] => 2011-x [podPressMedia] => [podPressPostSpecific] => Array ( [itunes:subtitle] => ##PostExcerpt## [itunes:summary] => ##PostExcerpt## [itunes:keywords] => ##WordPressCats## [itunes:author] => ##Global## [itunes:explicit] => Default [itunes:block] => Default ) ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 138122 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2011-01-17 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-01-17 06:00:00 [post_content] =>      

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.

~ Herbert Spencer

My academic life in college was largely spent studying what were then referred to as the "liberal arts." History, geography, economics, philosophy, art, literature, music, psychology, and the genuine sciences, were among the various subject areas we considered essential to becoming mature, self-directed, learned individuals. We also studied one or more foreign languages, not simply to help us navigate our trips to other lands, but to provide us with the perspective that there are other people on the planet who think, live, and speak differently from us.

This approach to learning helped to provide us with the means of thinking clearly, rationally, and logically; to help us understand causal relationships in analyzing the interconnected and unpredictable complexities of our world; to distinguish fact from fantasy, and transcendent truths from fashionable opinion; all for the purpose of living as responsible individuals pursuing our respective self-interests with others.

I won't dwell, here, on how most colleges have long since abandoned such purposes in favor of curricula that [1] focus on career skills, and/or [2] serve the ideological policies of groups with social/political agendas, whose members have largely taken over the so-called "social sciences." One of the numerous adverse consequences of this transformation has been to produce many college graduates who are unable to bring the art of critical thinking to an analysis of events. An example is found in the incapacity of so many persons to identify causal connections between actions undertaken by political systems and the consequences thereof. When government officials intervene in economic decision-making [e.g., mandating minimum wage laws] that produces adverse consequences [e.g., increased unemployment], even seemingly well-educated men and women fail to see the relationship. Indeed, economic ignorance tends to feed upon itself, a fact addressed in Murray Rothbard's comment that "[i]t is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a 'dismal science.' But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance."

Another example of the disordered thinking produced by the failure to develop causal explanations of events began occurring right after the recent shootings in Tucson. How easily have people fallen for the statist lines that these killings were "caused" by private gun ownership, talk radio, the Internet, hostile rhetoric, or some mushy sense of a "failure to get along." I am surprised that the statists have not tried to exploit the shootings as another symptom of global warming! The comments made by politicians, government officials, and media flaks, have all acknowledged the presence of an atmosphere of anger in America, but none have addressed the cause of such widespread resentment.

Nearly four decades ago, I wrote an article – titled Violence As a Product of Imposed Order – that was published, in 1975, in the University of Miami Law Review. At the core of this article was a discussion of what is known as the "frustration-aggression" hypothesis. Briefly stated, the idea is premised on a recognition that each of us is motivated by the pursuit of what we consider to be our self-interest. Without any need for forcible direction from others, we will organize our energies and other resources in an effort to maximize our well-being.

When our self-directed, self-serving undertakings are forcibly interfered with by others [e.g., the state], our purposes become frustrated, a consequence of which is often a resort to aggression. A number of contributors to the study of aggression tell us much of the dynamics regarding aggression. Two such commentators observe, "[a] person feels frustrated when a violation of his hopes or expectations occurs, and he may then try to solve the problem by attacking the presumed source of frustration." In words that seem to have particular application to our present world, another adds: "I believe we are witnessing at all levels of our social network a conflict based on dualistic thinking, the polarities of which are personal or individual freedom as against social structures maintaining the functions of regulation and control." Another scholar expresses the point more succinctly: "[w]hen our drive to master the environment, or take from it what we need, is obstructed, we become angry." As two others observe: "the feeling that one has little control over his own destiny may lead to attempts to restore oneself as an active agent. This may involve attacking those who appear to be influencing and controlling the individual."

The voices of institutionalism – whose function it is to constantly remind us that "all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds" – will reject notions that the forces of the status quo have any causal connection to the violence and other aggression that surrounds us. When, during the 2008 Republican presidential "debates," Ron Paul introduced the idea of "blowback" as an explanation for the terrorism of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani revealed himself as intellectually unfit for any government office by expressing shock and resentment at Paul's analysis. What Paul was explicating, of course, was the "frustration-aggression" hypothesis: if X attacks Y, Y may choose to retaliate by attacking X. Children on the playground understand this basic fact, even if former New York City mayors do not. Those with even a rudimentary understanding of physics will recognize the proposition as Newton's "third law of motion."

Those who refuse to recognize the causal connection between state action and the epidemic of anger sweeping the world, would do well to ask this question: why do political systems have to rely on the use of violence to accomplish their ends? Violence forces life to abandon its own purposes, and to move in directions it does not want to go. What could be more frustrating, more conducive to aggression, than to deny to life its very sense of being? Individuals and firms operating in the free market don't employ such methods. Indeed, this is what clearly distinguishes the state from a free market system. Buyers and sellers in the marketplace prosper by appealing to – not frustrating – one another's purposes. Voluntary transactions are not only profitable to each of the participants, but to society as a whole. Why, then, the attraction of some, and the sanction of so many others, to violent methods of dealing with one another? Why do we persist in pretending that such practices serve any purposes beneficial to life? Why do we condemn the victims of state-generated conflict, compulsion, and brute-force for their counterattacks? Why do we not grasp the obvious fact that we are destroying our lives, as well as the lives of our children and grandchildren, by refusing to withdraw our energies from the kind of antiquated, organizational thinking that life, itself, can no longer tolerate?

The vertically-structured systems through which the institutional order has long operated are in a state of collapse. In large part because of technologies [e.g., the Internet] that are diffusing the control of information into the hands of the millions rather than just the few, our social systems – and thinking – are rapidly becoming decentralized. The political establishment has mobilized its violent powers in a desperate effort to shore up its weakened foundations and reinvigorate the status quo. But such efforts will no more halt the ongoing transformations than did the Luddite machine-breaking riots curb the Industrial Revolution.

What the state's increasing resort to coercion will do, however, is to further expand the sense of frustration people experience in their efforts to promote their self-interests. As economic dislocations continue to spread; as wars against the rest of the world widen the paths of destruction; as individual lives are subjected to more expansive and sophisticated police-state surveillance and intrusions; as men and women experience an ever-diminishing sense of the material and emotional quality of their lives; the resulting frustrations will produce more aggressive reactions.

As a result of institutionalized conditioning, we have grown up with certain expectations of the political system. Among these are lies such as that government exists to protect our lives and other property interests; that the state is necessary for the creation and maintenance of social order; and that we – the ordinary people – control it. In recent years, men and women have gotten fleeting glimpses of the man behind the curtain, and are beginning to see through the fraud and deception that has long been practiced upon them. There is a growing awareness that the system does not serve its avowed purposes, thus producing a frustration of expectations which, in turn, produces more aggression. Even as the statists try to shift the blame for all of this to the Totos of the world, centrifugal forces continue their redistribution of social energies, and neither "all the king's horses nor all the king's men" will be able to stop the process. As we discovered, along with Dorothy and her friends from Oz, you cannot lose your innocence more than once.

Butler Shaffer Archives

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Recently by Robert Wenzel: How Bad Will the Muni Bond SituationGet?

Jim Rogers spoke in Chicago this week. Dan Collins was there to report on his comments. Rogers has it pretty much nailed. This from the Collins report:

Rogers added that he never saw a time when so many currencies appeared in distress and wasn’t prepared to offer an alternative currency, instead advising the attendees to invest in real assets...

When asked whether all this quantitative easing and money printing would cause inflation, Rogers responded by pointing out there already has been quite a bit of inflation in the United States and criticized the way the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates its numbers. “It should be criminal. Prices are going up except in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is here and it is going to get worse.”

And he expects the cost of money to rise at well, stating that the 30-year bull market in bonds is ending and an era of sharply rising interest rates is on the way.

Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.

2011 Economic Policy Journal

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Why did daylight saving time (DST) start, and why does it still continue? When asking a random sample of people we heard two answers again and again: "To help the farmers" or "Because of World War I ... or was it World War II?" In fact, farmers generally oppose daylight saving time. In Indiana, where part of the state observes DST and part does not, farmers have opposed a move to DST. Farmers, who must wake with the sun no matter what time their clock says, are greatly inconvenienced by having to change their schedule in order to sell their crops to people who observe daylight saving time.

Daylight saving time did indeed begin in the United States during World War I, primarily to save fuel by reducing the need to use artificial lighting. Although some states and communities observed daylight saving time between the wars, it was not observed nationally again until World War II.

Of course, World War II is long over. So why do we still observe daylight saving time?

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 provided the basic framework for alternating between daylight saving time and standard time, which we now observe in the United States. But Congress can't seem to resist tinkering with it. For example, in 1973 daylight saving time was observed all year, instead of just the spring and summer. The current system of beginning DST at 2 AM on the first Sunday in April and ending it at 2 AM on the last Sunday in October was not standardized until 1986.

The earliest known reference to the idea of daylight saving time comes from a purely whimsical 1784 essay by Benjamin Franklin, called "Turkey versus Eagle, McCauley is my Beagle." It was first seriously advocated by William Willit, a British Builder, in his pamphlet "Waste of Daylight" in 1907.

Over the years, supporters have advanced new reasons in support of DST, even though they were not the original reasons behind enacting DST.

One is safety. Some people believe that if we have more daylight at the end of the day, we will have fewer accidents.

In fact, this "benefit" comes only at the cost of less daylight in the morning. When year-round daylight time was tried in 1973, one reason it was repealed was because of an increased number of school bus accidents in the morning. Further, a study of traffic accidents throughout Canada in 1991 and 1992 by Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia before, during, and immediately after the so-called "spring forward" when DST begins in April. Alarmingly, he found an eight percent jump in traffic accidents on the Monday after clocks are moved ahead. He attributes the jump to the lost hour of sleep. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Coren explained, "These data show that small changes in the amount of sleep that people get can have major consequences in everyday activities." He undertook the study as a follow up to research showing that even an hour's change can disrupt sleep patterns and "persist for up to five days after each time shift." Other observers attribute the huge spike in accidents on the first Monday of DST to the sudden change in the amount of light during driving times. Regardless of the reason, there is no denying that changing our clocks has a significant cost in human lives.

While some people claim that they would miss the late evening light, a presumably similar number of people love the morning light. And projects, postponed during the sun-filled summer, will be tackled with new vigor when the sun sets an hour earlier each day.

Congress appears to have felt we were not having enough of a difficult time so in 2007 they passed a law starting Daylight Savings time 3 weeks earlier and ending it one week later. This cost US companies billions to reset automated equipment, put us further out of sync with Asia and Africa time-wise, inconvenienced most of the country, all in the name of unproven studies that claim we save energy.

STANDARDTIME.COM SAYS: If we are saving energy let's go year round with Daylight Saving Time. If we are not saving energy let's drop Daylight Saving Time!

Reprinted from StandardTime.com.

November 6, 2010

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Can you read a sidewall? What do all those numbers (and letters) really mean?

Here’s a short primer on tires – and tire-related terminology – that should help you get to know your four friends a bit more intimately:

Contact Patch

As your tires rotate, only a portion of the total tread is actually in contact with the ground at any given moment. This is known as the contact patch. Think of it as your tire’s “footprint.” Sport/performance-type tires are characterized by their wider footprint – more tread is in contact with the ground – which provides extra grip, especially during hard acceleration on dry pavement and during high-speed cornering.

Treadwear Indicators

These are narrow bands built into the tread during manufacturing that begin to show when only 1/16 of the tire’s tread remains. Also called wear bars, treadwear indicators are there to provide an obvious visual warning that it’s time to shop for new tires.

Speed Ratings

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An alpha-numeric symbol you’ll find on your tire’s sidewall that tells you the maximum sustained speed the tire is capable of safely handling. An H-rated tire, for example, is built to be safe for continuous operation at speeds up to 130 mph. Most current model year family-type cars have S (112 mph) or T (118 mph) speed ratings. High performance cars often have tires with a V (149 mph) or ZR (in excess of 149 mph) speed rating. A few ultra-performance cars have W (168 mph) and even Y (186 mph) speed-rated tires. High-speed tires usually also provide better braking and handling performance, although they will tend to wear faster, too.

Maximum Cold Inflation Load Limit

This refers to the maximum load that can be carried in a given vehicle with a given type of tires – and the maximum air pressure needed to support that load. In your vehicle’s owner’s manual, you should be able to find the recommended cold inflation load limit. It’s important not to exceed the load limit (or over or under-inflate the tires) as this can lead to stability/handling problems and even tire failure. Always check tire pressure “cold.” Driving creates friction which creates heat; as the tires warm up, the air inside expands, increasing the pressure. Measuring air pressure after driving can give a false reading; you may actually be driving around on under-inflated tires.

Load Index

This number corresponds to the load carrying capacity of the tire. The higher the number, the higher the load it can safely handle. As an example, a tire with a load index of 89 can safely handle 1,279 pounds – while a tire with a load rating of 100 can safely handle as much as 1,764 pounds. It’s important to stick with tires that have at least the same load rating as the tires that came originally with the vehicle – especially if it’s a truck used to haul heavy loads or pull a trailer. It’s OK to go with a tire that has a higher load rating than the original tires; just be careful to avoid tires with a lower load rating than specified for your vehicle, even if they are less expensive. Saving a few bucks on tires is not worth risking an accident caused by tire failure.

Aspect Ratio

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This technical-sounding term refers to the relationship between the width of a tire and the height of the tire’s sidewall. High-performance “low profile” tires have “low aspect ratios” – meaning their sidewalls are short relative to their width. This design provides extra stiffness and thus better high-speed handling and grip – but also tends to result in a firmer (and sometimes, harsh) ride. “Taller” tires, on the other hand, tend to provide a smoother ride and better traction in snow.

Radial vs. Bias-Ply Tires

Bias-ply tires have their underlying plies laid at alternate angles less than 90 degrees to the centerline of the tread; radials have their plies laid at 90 degrees to the centerline of the tread. That’s the technical difference. The reason radial tires are dominant today is that they help improve fuel efficiency and handling; they also tend to dissipate heat better than bias-ply tires. No modern passenger cars come with bias-ply tires these days and their use is generally not recommended. (Exception might include older/antique vehicles that originally came equipped with bias-ply tires. Some RVs also used bias-ply tires, etc.) It is very important never to mix radial and bias-ply tires; dangerously erratic handling may result.

LT and MS Tires

These designations indicate “Light Truck” and “Mud/Snow” – and are commonly found on tires fitted to 4WD SUVs and pick-ups. LT-rated tires are more general purpose, built primarily for on-road use – while MS-rated tires typically have more aggressive “knobby” tread patterns designed for better off-road traction.

Temporary Use Only

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Many modern cars come with “space-saver” tires which are smaller and lighter than a standard or full-size spare tire. They are designed to leave more room in the trunk and be easier for the average person to handle when a roadside tire change becomes necessary. However, they are for temporary use only – and not designed to be used for extended periods (or high-speed) driving. Your car will probably not handle (or stop) as well while the space saver tire is on; to be safe, you should keep your speed under 55 mph and avoid driving on the tire beyond what’s absolutely necessary to find a repair shop where you can have your damaged tire repaired or replaced.

Treadwear, Traction and Temperature Ratings

Each tire has three separate ratings for Treadwear, Traction and Temperature. Traction ratings run from AA to A to B and C – with C being the lowest on the scale. The ratings represent the tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement under controlled testing conducted by the government. C-rated tires are marginal and should be avoided. Never buy a tire with a Traction rating that isn’t at least equal to the minimum rating specified by the manufacturer of your vehicle.

Temperature ratings from A to B to C – with C being the minimum allowable for any passenger car tire. The ratings correspond to a given tire’s ability to dissipate heat under load; tires with lower ratings are more prone to heat-induced failure, especially if driven at high speeds (or when overloaded). As with Traction ratings, never buy a tire with a Temperature rating that’s less than specified for your vehicle.

Treadwear ratings differ from Traction and Temperature ratings in that they aren’t a measure of a tire’s built-in safety margin. Instead, these ratings – represented by a three digit number – give you an idea of the expected useful life of the tire according to government testing. A tire with a Treadwear rating of 150, for example, can be expected to last about 1.5 times as long as a tire with a Treadwear rating of 100. These are just guides, however. Your tires may last longer (or not) depending on such factors as how you drive, whether you maintain proper inflation pressure and rotate the tires per the recommendations – and so on.

Reprinted with permission from the National Motorists Association.

September 21, 2010

Eric Peters is automotive columnist for the National Motorists Association.

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This is a chapter from the book Colloidal Silver: Medical Uses, Toxicology and Manufacture

Silver has been used as a medicine and preservative by many cultures throughout history. The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and others used silver vessels for water and other liquids to keep them fresh. Pioneers trekking across the Wild West generations ago faced many hardships. Keeping safe drinking water was one of them. Bacteria, algae, etc. found a fertile breeding ground in the wooden water casks that were carried on the wagons. They placed silver and copper coins in the casks to retard the growth of these spoilage organisms. They also put silver dollars in their milk to keep it fresh.

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Silver water purification filters and tablets manufactured in Switzerland are used by many nations and international airlines. Silver is also used in the water purification systems of space craft. Preventing the growth of algae and bacteria in swimming pools is another problem that people face today. Electrical ionization units that impregnate the water with silver and copper ions are available today that sanitize the pool water without the harsh effects of chlorine.

Medical applications of silver were recognized by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and in the alchemical writings of Paracelsus. Following the discovery of bacteria as a cause of disease, several physicians discovered the antibacterial qualities of silver and applied them to their practice of medicine. They used silver nitrate successfully in the treatment of skin ulcers, compound fractures, and suppurating wounds.

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In 1881, Carl Crede pioneered the installation of 2% silver nitrate in the eye of neonates to prevent gonorrheal ophthalmia, a technique which has been in widespread use ever since. Von Naegeli and others in 1893 realized that the antibacterial effects of silver were primarily due to the silver ion. He coined the term oligodynamic to mean that a small amount of silver is released from the metallic surface when placed in contact with liquids.

In the early 1900's silver foil dressings were used for wounds. These dressings were used extensively until just after World War II, and were listed in the Physician's Desk Reference until 1955.

In the early 1970's, Drs. Becker, Marino, and Spadaro, of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Syracuse, New York, pioneered the study of implanted silver wires and electrodes and silver-coated fabrics for the treatment of complex bone infections.

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Dr. A. B. Flick developed broader clinical applications for silver nylon fabrics, first in partnership with Dr. Becker and later independently. Other university-centered research teams also investigated the wound healing properties of silver-plated fabrics applied with the application of an electrical potential. The result was the commercial introduction of silver dressings for wound healing and burns.

Silver sulfadiazine ointment is the number one treatment for burns in U.S. burn centers. Silver-coated catheters and silver heart valves are used because they stop the bacterial growth that was commonplace with the old ones. To protect us from food poisoning, silver particles are now being put in cutting boards, table tops, surface disinfectants, washing machines, and refrigerators. Silver is now being used in clothing, for the military, sportsman and businessman. It is woven and impregnated into the fabric to kill bacteria that cause body odor and clothing odors.

In contemporary times, colloidal silver as a medicinal substance for internal use is something of an orphan. It is popular among alternative medicine enthusiasts but is not approved by the FDA.

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Silver was used as a medicine in the late 1800's and early 1900's. While several metal salts and compounds demonstrated strong germicidal properties, silver alone showed both strong germicidal properties and low or no toxicity to humans. The colloidal state proved to be the most effective form because it lacked the caustic properties of salts (such as silver nitrate) and demonstrated a high level of activity with very low concentrations.

Medicinal silver compounds were in widespread use in the late 1800's and early 1900's. By 1940, there were approximately four dozen different silver compounds on the market being used to treat every known infectious disease.

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These different silver preparations were drastically different from each other. Some were true colloids of silver, others were silver salts or other compounds of silver. Many were silver proteinates. The actual silver content also varied widely, with some products containing as much as 30% silver by weight.

With the discovery of antibiotics, interest in silver, as an anti-microbial medicine, declined. There were, at that time, no antibiotic resistant strains of disease organisms and there was a lot of excitement over the new wonder drugs.

In Ayurvedic medicine silver is used in small amounts as a tonic or elixir or rejuvenative agent for patients debilitated by age or disease. Silver was also used in homeopathic medicine. The dilute concentrations were in the same range as the modern low concentrations of colloidal silver.

Recently, with the development of antibiotic resistance in many diseases and the increase in new strains of bacteria and viruses worldwide, there is renewed interest in silver. Large companies are developing and introducing new silver compounds for a variety of anti-microbial applications, including protection against the spread of the AIDS virus.

Today, colloidal silver is sold as a trace mineral supplement without medical claims or claims of specific benefits. Its need, or lack thereof, in human nutrition is not scientifically established. It remains popular as an "alternative" health care modality because of the large number of anecdotal reports of positive benefits.

August 19, 2010

John Hill is a former electrical engineer and doctor of chiropractic. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where he writes and presents classes and seminars on natural and alternative health care.

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Excerpted from chapter 7 of Theory and History. An audio version of this article, excerpted from the forthcoming audiobook version, read by John Pruden, is available as a free MP3 download.

Any philosophy of history must demonstrate the mechanism by means of which the supreme agency that directs the course of all human affairs induces individuals to walk in precisely the ways which are bound to lead mankind toward the goal set. In Marx's system the doctrine of the class struggle is designed to answer this question.

The inherent weakness of this doctrine is that it deals with classes and not with individuals. What has to be shown is how the individuals are induced to act in such a way that mankind finally reaches the point the productive forces want it to attain. Marx answers that consciousness of the interests of their class determines the conduct of the individuals. It still remains to be explained why the individuals give the interests of their class preference over their own interests. We may for the moment refrain from asking how the individual learns what the genuine interests of his class are. But even Marx cannot help admitting that a conflict exists between the interests of an individual and those of the class to which he belongs.[1] He distinguishes between those proletarians who are class conscious, i.e., place the concerns of their class before their individual concerns, and those who are not. He considers it one of the objectives of a socialist party to awake to class consciousness those proletarians who are not spontaneously class conscious.

Marx obfuscated the problem by confusing the notions of caste and class. Where status and caste differences prevail, all members of every caste but the most privileged have one interest in common, viz., to wipe out the legal disabilities of their own caste. All slaves, for instance, are united in having a stake in the abolition of slavery. But no such conflicts are present in a society in which all citizens are equal before the law. No logical objection can be advanced against distinguishing various classes among the members of such a society. Any classification is logically permissible, however arbitrarily the mark of distinction may be chosen. But it is nonsensical to classify the members of a capitalistic society according to their position in the framework of the social division of labor and then to identify these classes with the castes of a status society.

In a status society the individual inherits his caste membership from his parents, he remains through all his life in his caste, and his children are born as members of it. Only in exceptional cases can good luck raise a man into a higher caste. For the immense majority birth unalterably determines their station in life. The classes which Marx distinguishes in a capitalistic society are different. Their membership is fluctuating. Class affiliation is not hereditary. It is assigned to each individual by a daily repeated plebiscite, as it were, of all the people. The public in spending and buying determines who should own and run the plants, who should play the parts in the theater performances, who should work in the factories and mines. Rich men become poor, and poor men rich. The heirs as well as those who themselves have acquired wealth must try to hold their own by defending their assets against the competition of already established firms and of ambitious newcomers. In the unhampered market economy there are no privileges, no protection of vested interests, no barriers preventing anybody from striving after any prize. Access to any of the Marxian classes is free to everybody. The members of each class compete with one another; they are not united by a common class interest and not opposed to the members of other classes by being allied either in the defense of a common privilege which those wronged by it want to see abolished or in the attempt to abolish an institutional disability which those deriving advantage from it want to preserve.

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The laissez-faire liberals asserted: If the old laws establishing status privileges and disabilities are repealed and no new practices of the same character – such as tariffs, subsidies, discriminatory taxation, indulgence granted for nongovernmental agencies like churches, unions, and so on to use coercion and intimidation – are introduced, there is equality of all citizens before the law. Nobody is hampered in his aspirations and ambitions by any legal obstacles. Everybody is free to compete for any social position or function for which his personal abilities qualify him.

The communists denied that this is the way capitalistic society as organized under the liberal system of equality before the law, is operating. In their eyes private ownership of the means of production conveys to the owners – the bourgeois or capitalists in Marx's terminology – a privilege virtually not different from those once accorded to the feudal lords. The "bourgeois revolution" has not abolished privilege and discrimination against the masses; it has, says the Marxian, merely supplanted the old ruling and exploiting class of noblemen by a new ruling and exploiting class, the bourgeoisie. The exploited class, the proletarians, did not profit from this reform. They have changed masters but they have remained oppressed and exploited. What is needed is a new and final revolution, which in abolishing private ownership of the means of production will establish the classless society.

This socialist or communist doctrine fails entirely to take into account the essential difference between the conditions of a status or caste society and those of a capitalistic society. Feudal property came into existence either by conquest or by donation on the part of a conqueror. It came to an end either by revocation of the donation or by conquest on the part of a more powerful conqueror. It was property by "the grace of God," because it was ultimately derived from military victory which the humility or conceit of the princes ascribed to special intervention of the Lord. The owners of feudal property did not depend on the market, they did not serve the consumers; within the range of their property rights they were real lords. But it is quite different with the capitalists and entrepreneurs of a market economy. They acquire and enlarge their property through the services they have rendered to the consumers, and they can retain it only by serving daily again in the best possible way. This difference is not eradicated by metaphorically calling a successful manufacturer of spaghetti "the spaghetti king."

Marx never embarked on the hopeless task of refuting the economists' description of the working of the market economy. Instead he was eager to show that capitalism must in the future lead to very unsatisfactory conditions. He undertook to demonstrate that the operation of capitalism must inevitably result in the concentration of wealth in the possession of an ever diminishing number of capitalists on the one hand and in the progressive impoverishment of the immense majority on the other hand. In the execution of this task he started from the spurious iron law of wages according to which the average wage rate is that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely required to enable the laborer to barely survive and to rear progeny.[2] This alleged law has long since been entirely discredited, and even the most bigoted Marxians have dropped it. But even if one were prepared for the sake of argument to call the law correct, it is obvious that it can by no means serve as the basis of a demonstration that the evolution of capitalism leads to progressive impoverishment of the wage earners. If wage rates under capitalism are always so low that for physiological reasons they cannot drop any further without wiping out the whole class of wage earners, it is impossible to maintain the thesis of the Communist Manifesto that the laborer "sinks deeper and deeper" with the progress of industry. Like all Marx's other arguments this demonstration is contradictory and self-defeating. Marx boasted of having discovered the immanent laws of capitalist evolution. The most important of these laws he considered the law of progressive impoverishment of the wage-earning masses. It is the operation of this law that brings about the final collapse of capitalism and the emergence of socialism.[3] When this law is seen to be spurious, the foundation is pulled from under both Marx's system of economics and his theory of capitalist evolution.

Incidentally we have to establish the fact that in capitalistic countries the standard of living of the wage earners has improved in an unprecedented and undreamt-of way since the publication of the Communist Manifesto and the first volume of Das Kapital. Marx misrepresented the operation of the capitalist system in every respect.

The corollary of the alleged progressive impoverishment of the wage earners is the concentration of all riches in the hands of a class of capitalist exploiters whose membership is continually shrinking. In dealing with this issue Marx failed to take into account the fact that the evolution of big business units does not necessarily involve the concentration of wealth in a few hands. The big business enterprises are almost without exception corporations, precisely because they are too big for single individuals to own them entirely. The growth of business units has far outstripped the growth of individual fortunes. The assets of a corporation are not identical with the wealth of its shareholders. A considerable part of these assets, the equivalent of preferred stock and bonds issued and of loans raised, belong virtually, if not in the sense of the legal concept of ownership, to other people, viz., to owners of bonds and preferred stock and to creditors. Where these securities are held by savings banks and insurance companies and these loans were granted by such banks and companies, the virtual owners are the people who have claims against them. Also the common stock of a corporation is as a rule not concentrated in the hands of one man. The bigger the corporation, as a rule, the more widely its shares are distributed.

Capitalism is essentially mass production to fill the needs of the masses. But Marx always labored under the deceptive conception that the workers are toiling for the sole benefit of an upper class of idle parasites. He did not see that the workers themselves consume by far the greater part of all the consumers' goods turned out. The millionaires consume an almost negligible part of what is called the national product. All branches of big business cater directly or indirectly to the needs of the common man. The luxury industries never develop beyond small-scale or medium-size units. The evolution of big business is in itself proof of the fact that the masses and not the nabobs are the main consumers. Those who deal with the phenomenon of big business under the rubric "concentration of economic power" fail to realize that economic power is vested in the buying public on whose patronage the prosperity of the factories depends. In his capacity as buyer, the wage earner is the customer who is "always right." But Marx declares that the bourgeoisie "is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery."

Marx deduced the excellence of socialism from the fact that the driving force of historical evolution, the material productive forces, is bound to bring about socialism. As he was engrossed in the Hegelian brand of optimism, there was to his mind no further need to demonstrate the merits of socialism. It was obvious to him that socialism, being a later stage of history than capitalism, was also a better stage.[4] It was sheer blasphemy to doubt its merits.

What was still left to show was the mechanism by means of which nature brings about the transition from capitalism to socialism. Nature's instrument is the class struggle. As the workers sink deeper and deeper with the progress of capitalism, as their misery, oppression, slavery, and degradation increase, they are driven to revolt, and their rebellion establishes socialism.

The whole chain of this reasoning is exploded by the establishment of the fact that the progress of capitalism does not pauperize the wage earners increasingly but on the contrary improves their standard of living. Why should the masses be inevitably driven to revolt when they get more and better food, housing and clothing, cars and refrigerators, radio and television sets, nylon and other synthetic products? Even if, for the sake of argument, we were to admit that the workers are driven to rebellion, why should their revolutionary upheaval aim just at the establishment of socialism? The only motive which could induce them to ask for socialism would be the conviction that they themselves would fare better under socialism than under capitalism. But Marxists, anxious to avoid dealing with the economic problems of a socialist commonwealth, did nothing to demonstrate the superiority of socialism over capitalism apart from the circular reasoning that runs: Socialism is bound to come as the next stage of historical evolution. Being a later stage of history than capitalism, it is necessarily higher and better than capitalism. Why is it bound to come? Because the laborers, doomed to progressive impoverishment under capitalism, will rebel and establish socialism. But what other motive could impel them to aim at the establishment of socialism than the conviction that socialism is better than capitalism? And this pre-eminence of socialism is deduced by Marx from the fact that the coming of socialism is inevitable. The circle is closed.

In the context of the Marxian doctrine the superiority of socialism is proved by the fact that the proletarians are aiming at socialism. What the philosophers, the Utopians, think does not count. What matters is the ideas of the proletarians, the class that history has entrusted with the task of shaping the future.

The truth is that the concept of socialism did not originate from the "proletarian mind." No proletarian or son of a proletarian contributed any substantial idea to the socialist ideology. The intellectual fathers of socialism were members of the intelligentsia, scions of the "bourgeoisie." Marx himself was the son of a well-to-do lawyer. He attended a German Gymnasium, the school all Marxians and other socialists denounce as the main offshoot of the bourgeois system of education, and his family supported him through all the years of his studies; he did not work his way through the university. He married the daughter of a member of the German nobility; his brother-in-law was Prussian minister of the interior and as such head of the Prussian police. In his household served a maid, Helene Demuth, who never married and who followed the Marx mnage in all its shifts of residence, the perfect model of the exploited slavey whose frustration and stunted sex life have been repeatedly depicted in the German "social" novel. Friedrich Engels was the son of a wealthy manufacturer and himself a manufacturer; he refused to marry his mistress Mary because she was uneducated and of "low" descent;[5] he enjoyed the amusements of the British gentry such as riding to hounds.

The workers were never enthusiastic about socialism. They supported the union movement whose striving after higher wages Marx despised as useless.[6] They asked for all those measures of government interference with business which Marx branded petty-bourgeois nonsense. They opposed technological improvement, in earlier days by destroying new machines, later by union pressure and compulsion in favor of feather-bedding. Syndicalism – appropriation of the enterprises by the workers employed in them – is a program that the workers developed spontaneously. But socialism was brought to the masses by intellectuals of bourgeois background. Dining and wining together in the luxurious London homes and country seats of late Victorian "society," ladies and gentlemen in fashionable evening clothes concocted schemes for converting the British proletarians to the socialist creed.


[1] Thus we read in the Communist Manifesto: "The organization of the proletarians into a class, and consequently into a political party, is at every instant again shattered by the competition between the workers themselves."

[2] Of course, Marx did not like the German term "das eherne Lohngesetz" because it had been devised by his rival Ferdinand Lassalle.

[3] Marx, Das Kapital, 1, 728.

[4] On the fallacy implied in this reasoning, see below pp. 175 ff.

[5] After the death of Mary, Engels took her sister Lizzy as mistress. He married her on her deathbed "in order to provide her a last pleasure." Gustav Mayer, Frederick Engels (The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1934), 2, 329.

[6] Marx, Value, Price and Profit, ed. E. Marx Aveling (Chicago, Charles H. Kerr & Co. Cooperative), pp. 125–6. See below p. 137.

Reprinted from Mises.org.

August 5, 2010

Ludwig von Mises was the acknowledged leader of the Austrian School of economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. Mises's writings and lectures encompassed economic theory, history, epistemology, government, and political philosophy. His contributions to economic theory include important clarifications on the quantity theory of money, the theory of the trade cycle, the integration of monetary theory with economic theory in general, and a demonstration that socialism must fail because it cannot solve the problem of economic calculation. Mises was the first scholar to recognize that economics is part of a larger science in human action, a science that Mises called "praxeology." [post_title] => The Class Struggle [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-class-struggle [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-04-21 13:27:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-04-21 18:27:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.lewrockwell.com/mises/mises-class-struggle.html [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => article [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_title_2] => The Class Struggle [subtitle] => [directory] => mises [podPressMedia] => [podPressPostSpecific] => Array ( [itunes:subtitle] => ##PostExcerpt## [itunes:summary] => ##PostExcerpt## [itunes:keywords] => ##WordPressCats## [itunes:author] => ##Global## [itunes:explicit] => Default [itunes:block] => Default ) ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143701 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2010-07-31 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-07-31 05:00:00 [post_content] =>      

The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010

Here I stand

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years." The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."

This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

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I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contend that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.

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John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, "We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don't do that." Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not "to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States."

To illustrate this idea, doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea of "critical thinking?" Is there really such a thing as "uncritically thinking?" To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

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And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

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We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren't we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don't have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can't run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, "You have to learn this for the test" is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

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For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

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For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn't have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a "see you later" when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!

Reprinted from Signs of the Times.

July 31, 2010

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Coconut Oil is the Healthiest Oil on Earth! ... says Dr. Bruce Fife, a naturopathic doctor and the author of The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil (now being published as The Coconut Oil Miracle.)

Excerpt from back jacket:

"If there was an oil you could use for your daily cooking needs that helped protect you from heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative conditions, improved your digestion, strengthened your immune system, and helped you lose excess weight, would you be interested? This is what coconut oil can do for you.

What Coconut Oil DOES NOT Do:

  • Does not increase blood cholesterol level.
  • Does not promote platelet stickiness or blood clot formation.
  • Does not contribute to atherosclerosis or heart disease.
  • Does not contribute to weight problems.
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What Coconut Oil DOES Do:

  • Reduces risk of atherosclerosis and related illnesses.
  • Reduces risk of cancer and other degenerative conditions.
  • Helps prevent bacterial, viral, and fungal (including yeast) infections.
  • Supports immune system function.
  • Helps control diabetes.
  • Provides an immediate source of energy.
  • Supports healthy metabolic function.
  • Improves digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Supplies important nutrients necessary for good health.
  • Supplies fewer calories than other fats.
  • Promotes weight loss.
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis.
  • Has a mild delicate flavor.
  • Is highly resistant to spoilage (long shelf life).
  • Is heat resistant (the healthiest oil for cooking).
  • Helps keep skin soft and smooth.
  • Helps prevent premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.
  • Helps protect against skin cancer and other blemishes.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant."
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Why do some say that coconut oil is bad for you?

Tropical oils were very popular in the US food industry prior to World War II. The US is the largest exporter of soybeans. The well-oiled marketing machinery funded by the soy bean and corn industry and supported by the American Heart Association was committed to change the American Diet, calling among others, for the substitution of saturated fats for polyunsaturates. The Prudent Diet, as it was called, left a legacy which still haunts us today. 40 years on, this conceptual change in the eating habits of Americans has negatively influenced and changed the dietary regimes of societies all around the world that were initially not even affected by America's particular meat, potato and milk diet. So determined was the pursuit of the American industries in converting their claims into magnificent billboards of health and wealth that even small island nations in the South Pacific were converted by this powerful marketing machine to change centuries of dietary traditions of tropical oils to importing polyunsaturated fats. Today heart disease is still on the increase and obesity, linked to the “new” American diet, is a major social problem worldwide that has governments worried about the health care cost of future generations. The U.K. and Australia unfortunately, are racing to catch up to their allies with a large percentage of the population being defined as overweight.

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Studies were done to show that coconut oil, and all saturated fats, were bad for one's health because they raised serum cholesterol levels. However, these studies were done on hydrogenated coconut oil, and all hydrogenated oils produce higher serum cholesterol levels, whether they are saturated or not. Recent research shows that it is the presence of trans fatty acids that causes health problems, as they are fatty acid chains that have been altered from their original form in nature by the oil refining process.

Although many studies at the time had also shown research to the contrary, the mud stuck and by the mid 60’s the reputation of all saturated oils in America had been destroyed. This reputation later extended to the rest of the western world.

Lauric Acid (found in coconut oil) is necessary for good health says Dr. Mary Enig, a Ph.D. nutritionist/biochemist and one of the world’s leading authorities on fats and oils. She states, “Approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria including listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of the free lauric acid."

Reprinted from Coconut Connections.

July 1, 2010

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Daylight Saving Time starts this Sunday morning (3/14/10) – set your clock ahead.

The Proposal

The activists here at standardtime.com have a modest proposal to end daylight saving time that will reap large benefits in addition to ending the semi-annual changing of the clock.

It has not escaped our notice that in the United States, Eastern standard time is the same as Central daylight time and Mountain standard time is the same as Pacific Daylight Time. Thus, we propose that The Pacific and Central time zones remain on permanent daylight saving time, and that the Mountain and Eastern time zones remain on permanent standard time.

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In addition to releasing us from the burden of having to set our clocks every few months, this will also reduce the number of time zones in the United States from four to two. Thus, for example, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Dallas will now all be operating on the same time, and people will no longer have to adjust to different time zones when they do business or travel between any of these cities. Also, we'll be able to get rid of those annoying television schedules that say "8:30 PM/7:30 Central", since the Eastern time zone will be the same as the Central time zone. Further, people traveling or doing business between the East and West coasts will only have a two hour time difference to contend with, instead of the three hour difference with which we are currently burdened.

This proposal will simplify scheduling, travel, and commerce. And by ending semi-annual clock tampering, it will also allow people to get more sleep, be better adjusted to their daily routine, avoid missed appointments resulting from failure to reset clocks, and, most importantly, save lives.

Please help to bring about an end to the mad, semi-annual ritual of changing our clocks, by taking just a few moments to add your name to our petition below, which will be forwarded to the appropriate government officials. And please remember to tell anyone you know who might be interested in helping to support our cause to visit standardtime.com and sign up, too.

Reprinted from Standard Time.

March 12, 2010

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Everyone who knows anything about volcanoes and earthquakes is aware of the potentially earth destroying capability of the Yellowstone Super Volcano. Yellowstone could do what the Toba Super Volcano did some 70,000 years ago: throw the planet into an ice age that lasted close to 60,000 years and destroy 90-98% of the world’s population. Those are not wild speculations but reality. No one wants to think about it of course; however, Yellowstone may be leaving a calling card for us.

Over the last few months things have been heating up in our famous National Park and none of it is good.

Over eight days, more than 1,270 mostly tiny earthquakes have struck between Old Faithful and West Yellowstone. The strongest dozen or so have ranged between magnitudes 3.0 and 3.8. These are beginning to become serious in size, as a growing swarm of course, but the vast majority have been too weak to be felt even nearby.

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Online chatter about an imminent volcanic eruption in Yellowstone hasn't really picked up compared with the attention that a similar quake swarm drew just over a year ago. But here I am chatting!

"Perhaps we have done a better job in the past year or so helping the public understand that earthquake swarms are not unusual in Yellowstone," park spokesman Al Nash said Monday. That said, taken together as a whole, this represents the SECOND greatest and largest swarm in history. The largest quakes in the current swarm have included two of magnitude 3.1 and one of magnitude 3.0 late Sunday and early Monday, according to the University of Utah, which helps monitor seismic activity in Yellowstone.

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Take note: one of the world's largest volcanoes slumbers at the core of Yellowstone.

The volcano last had a caldera-forming eruption 640,000 years ago and last spewed lava 70,000 years ago, which means it could have erupted along with the Toba super volcano. Geologists say Yellowstone could erupt again, although the probability of an eruption within anyone's lifetime is extremely low! I like those odds, but with all the weird things going on in the physical world these days, who knows?

Relatively mundane fault slippage is believed to be causing the latest quakes, said Jamie Farrell, a researcher at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Not that the swarm isn't interesting to geologists - quite the opposite. "It gives us an opportunity to maybe get a better idea of what the processes are that are causing the earthquakes we're seeing," Farrell said. "Hopefully, each time we get one of these, we can get maybe a little better idea of what's going on down there."

I'm glad someone is watching because we may be getting a wake-up call; however, if we are, does anyone know what in the world we could do about it anyway?

March 2, 2010

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Please note that in the article that follows, I am not claiming that the U.S. Government knew Mutallab had a bomb or intended to hurt anyone on Flight 253 when the U.S. Government let him board.


Since our flight landed on Christmas Day, Lori and I have been doing everything in our power to uncover the truth about why we were almost blown up in the air over Detroit. The truth is now finally out after the publication of this Detroit News article.

Let me quote from the article:

"Patrick F. Kennedy, an undersecretary for management at the State Department, said Abdulmutallab's visa wasn't taken away because intelligence officials asked his agency not to deny a visa to the suspected terrorist over concerns that a denial would've foiled a larger investigation into al-Qaeda threats against the United States.

"Revocation action would've disclosed what they were doing," Kennedy said in testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security. Allowing Adbulmutallab to keep the visa increased chances federal investigators would be able to get closer to apprehending the terror network he is accused of working with, "rather than simply knocking out one solider in that effort."'

Now it all becomes apparent. Let me detail everything we know about the "Sharp Dressed Man" (SDM).

1. While being held in Customs on Christmas Day, I first told the story of the SDM.

2. My story has never changed.

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3. The FBI visited my office on December 29, 2009, and showed me a series of approximately 10 photographs. None were of the SDM. I asked the FBI if they brought the Amsterdam security video to help me identify the SDM, but they acted as though my request was ridiculous. The FBI asked me what accent the SDM spoke in and I indicated that he had an American accent similar to my own. I further indicated that he wore a tan suit without a tie, was Indian looking, around age 50, 6'0" tall and 250–260 lbs. I further indicated that I did not believe that he was an airline employee and that he was not on our flight.

4. During the first week of January, 2010, Dutch Military Police and the FBI indicated that over "200 Hours" of Amsterdam airport security video had been reviewed and it "Shows Nothing."

5. The mainstream media picked up the "Shows nothing" story, which slanders my story. After visiting my office twice for a flight 253 special, Dateline NBC and Chris Hanson indicated that my story was "Unsubstantiated rumor dispelled as myth" and our story did not air during the TV special.

6. On January 2, 2010, I receive a call from a flight 253 passenger who indicated to me that it may be in my best interest to stop talking publicly about the SDM because he believes I am "wrong" in what I saw. He did not make any claim that he saw the SDM boarding gate incident at all. This call was made out of the blue after he made a "revelation" of this event on January 1, 2010. I later discover that this caller has ties to the U.S. Government.

7. On January 20, 2010, current Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), Michael E. Leiter, made a startling admission. Leiter indicated that: "I will tell you, that when people come to the country and they are on the watch list, it is because we have generally made the choice that we want them here in the country for some reason or another."

8. On January 22, 2010, CongressDaily reported that intelligence officials "have acknowledged the government knowingly allows foreigners whose names are on terrorist watch lists to enter the country in order to track their movement and activities."

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CongressDaily also reported, citing an unnamed "intelligence official" that Michael E. Leiter's statement on January 20, 2010, reflected government policy and told the publication, "in certain situations it's to our advantage to be able to track individuals who might be on a terrorist watch list because you can learn something from their activities and their contacts."

9. On January 22, 2010, ABC News published an article that showed a change of position in the government's official story. Please see this blog post for more information.

The U.S. government provided no explanation for the reason my story was initially discounted.

10. The SDM could not be from Al Qaeda. When speaking at the counter in Amsterdam, the SDM said the following "He is from Sudan, we do this all the time." Who is "we"? If it is Al Qaeda, you surely don't make such a statement to an airport security official.

11. The SDM could not be from airport security. The SDM did not dress in any security uniform and did not appear to have any security badge. The SDM did not speak with a Dutch accent. The SDM dressed in a suit coat and pants. If the SDM was a higher up security official, he would not have to convince the ticket agent to let Mutallab on the plane without a valid passport. Instead, he would just order her to do it.

12. Could the SDM have been a U.S. Government official? He dressed in a suit and not a security uniform. Check. He indicated we do this all the time. Could "we" be the U.S. Government? Check. He spoke English with an American accent. Check. Would he need to convince the ticket agent that this was a normal procedure to allow boarding without a passport? Check. Would he have the ability to obtain such clearance? Check. Could he enter this security area even though he wasn't a passenger? Check. Would the ticket agent likely refer this request to a manager? Check. Would the U.S. Government not want this information public and try to hide it? Check.

13. The Amsterdam security video has not been released. A much more minor airport security violation occurred at the Newark New Jersey airport several days after the flight 253 incident. That video was released shortly thereafter.

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14. Senators Levin and Stabenow, as well as Congressman Dingle, all refuse to discuss the matter with me.

With the information we already knew and the admission from the above referenced Detroit News article, we have evidence and claims made by government officials that the U.S. Government wanted Mutallab to proceed into the U.S. in order to obtain information on other terrorists involved with him. Once we take this statement and add it to my eyewitness account of a "Sharp Dressed Man" escorting Mutallab through the boarding process and allowing him to board without a valid passport we can make the connection that the "Sharp Dressed Man" was a U.S. Government official/agent.

The reasoning behind the following events now becomes very clear:

1. The reason Mutallab got through security despite the numerous warnings for months before our flight.

2. The reason why there have been so many lies from the U.S. Government attempting to discredit my eyewitness account.

3. The reason why the Amsterdam airport security video is being hidden from the public.

4. The reason why the government is proposing a "Failed to Connect the Dots" account of the failure. The truth is too damning.

5. The reason why Mr. Wolf of the Obama administration indicated on the Keith Olberman Show that the White House was investigating a possible "intentional act" from within the U.S. Government as the reason for the Christmas Day attack.

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6. The explanation for the cameraman and why he hasn't been identified (Obviously, he was another U.S. Government agent) whose job was to film Mutallab for some governmental purpose.

7. The reason for the lax security after landing, which can be attributed to foreknowledge of the possible suspects involved.

8. The reason for the failure to search or secure the plane and passengers after landing, which can also be attributed to foreknowledge of the possible suspects involved.

9. The corporate media's attempt to bury my eyewitness account.

10. Carl Levin's, Debbie Stabenow's and John Dingle's intentional avoidance of my story and failure to return my calls/emails.

11. Janet Napolitano's statement that "The System Worked." From her point of view it probably did as this WAS PART OF THE SYSTEM!

This article is the big center piece of the puzzle that has been missing and was needed to finish the entire puzzle.

This appeared on Kurt Haskell's blog.

February 2, 2010

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Spring this year was unusually wet in the eastern half of the United States, with heavy rains falling everywhere from Kansas and Missouri to New York City and Washington, D.C., the National Weather Service reported – and with those rains has come a bumper crop of mosquitoes.

According to Jeannine Dorothy, a Maryland state entomologist, the wetter than usual spring means more mosquito eggs – and more of the adult critters to swat.

"Our traps have probably been ten times above normal," Dorothy said. Where overnight traps might normally catch 80 or so mosquitoes, Dorothy said, she and her colleagues were seeing 1,000 or more bugs in their traps in July. Their observations predict an itchy end to summer. What's the best way to swat those pesky skeeters?

According to Jim Brasseur, a fluid dynamics professor at Penn State University, the best approach is to clap or slap from both sides – rather than a swat from one side only.

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Just as a hand passed quickly through a tank of water will force the water to move around it, a hand swept through the air towards a mosquito will push a column of air at the insect, forcing it around the hand. Because mosquitoes are small and light, they can ride the flowing air right over a swatting hand. Unless the aim is perfect and the mosquito is riding the air right into the center of the hand, a swat will fail to make contact and the mosquito will live on.

A better strategy, said Brasseur, is to slap your hands together with the mosquito in between. The two clapping hands will force dual columns of air together and create a larger "dead water" region to trap the mosquito as the hands meet. With a clap, your timing and aim don't have to be quite as good as with a swat, so it is relatively easy to clap the critters between your palms.

Another strategy is to swat the bug against a surface. A flat surface will block the wind flow and also create a dead water region to trap the bug before it is squashed.

One of the best surfaces, advised Dorothy, is the arm or neck. Wait until they land and start biting and then swat them, she said. "Then they are less likely to fly away."

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Such skills will be necessary next year as well, she added. The high number of mosquitoes this year means a likely bumper crop of the critters again next year because the females have likely been laying an expanded number of eggs on dry ground, where they will remain until the heavy rains of 2010.


  • Greater rainfall leads to expanded mosquito populations because the creatures thrive on moisture. They lay their eggs on the surface of standing water or on flood-prone dry ground just above the water line, where they stay until heavy rains arrive.
  • When mosquito eggs hatch, they release "wrigglers" – larvae that develop into mature mosquitoes after a week or so.
  • Male mosquitoes do not bite. They feed themselves on plant nectar. Female mosquitoes do bite, however, because they need the blood to nourish their eggs.
  • Mature females will live a couple of weeks and they can develop hundreds of eggs with each meal.

AVOID GETTING BITTEN: Advice from Jeannine Dorothy, a Maryland state entomologist

  • Mosquitoes like dark colored clothing, so wear whites.
  • Loose fitting clothing is a good bet because it may be harder for mosquitoes to penetrate to the skin.
  • Bug sprays containing DEET are particularly effective.
  • Cleaning up standing water removes places where the mosquitoes can breed.

September 10, 2009

Jason Socrates Bardi writes for Inside Science News Service.

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Bacteria present naturally in your body and sometimes found in food could keep cold and flu viruses at bay.

According to a study, young children who drank a mixture of such bacteria, known as probiotics, had fewer colds, needed fewer antibiotics, and missed fewer days of school.

Researchers have already shown that probiotics can benefit those who are ill, and the bacteria are thought to boost the immune system's response to invaders.

~ ABC News July 27, 2009

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

For most of you reading this, cold and flu season is right around the corner, and with it will come the yearly push urging you to get a flu vaccine to stay healthy.

This year the push will be even more magnified with the exaggerated swine flu risks … and the dangerous vaccine solution … being heavily promoted.

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If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be this: you have at your disposal tools to bolster your immune system and drastically reduce your risk of colds and the flu. You do not need a vaccine to do this. In fact, a vaccine could easily make your health worse.

And one of these "tools" that I urge you to look into right away is good bacteria, or probiotics.

Eighty percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system, so – it makes perfect sense that probiotics would be very effective at warding off cold and flu viruses

Remember, a robust immune system is your number one defense system against ALL disease, and in order to keep your immune system in top working order you must have a healthy balance of good to bad bacteria in your gut (the optimal balance is about 85 percent "good bacteria" and 15 percent "bad").

The researchers in this new study actually found quite significant benefits among 3- to 5-year-old children who received either a single strain or combination of probiotics twice a day for six months.

Compared to the placebo group, the single and combination probiotic groups had reduced fever by 53 percent and 73 percent respectively, decreased coughing by 41 percent and 62 percent, and reduced runny noses by 28 percent and 59 percent.

Antibiotic use was also 68 percent and 84 percent lower, respectively, which is a major gain in and of itself because antibiotics are vastly overused in children and contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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Why are Probiotics so Important?

Probiotics are one of only two supplements that are recommended to all new patients who come to the Natural Health Center that I stared in 1985 (the other being an omega-3 fat supplement). It's also one of the few supplements that I personally take every day.

In many cultures, probiotic-rich food and drinks, such as the fermented superfoods natto, kefir, lassi (an Indian yogurt drink) and sauerkraut, are an integral part of the daily diet.

If you eat a diet rich in fermented foods like these that have NOT been pasteurized (pasteurization will kill the probiotics), then you will likely enjoy great digestive, and immune system, health.

However, if you find yourself strongly drawn to processed foods or rely on mostly cooked foods, as is commonplace in the United States, the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract will have a hard time staying optimal.

This is most unfortunate because this ratio between the "good" bacteria and the other bacteria is one of the critical factors determining your optimal health, as the good bacteria are essential for:

  • The proper development of your immune system
  • Protection against over-growth of other microorganisms that could cause disease
  • Digestion of food and absorption of nutrients

The probiotics in your gut also play a role in helping numerous bodily functions, such as:

  • Digesting and absorbing certain carbohydrates.
  • Producing vitamins, absorbing minerals and eliminating toxins.
  • Keeping bad bacteria under control.
  • Preventing allergies. Friendly bacteria train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately.
  • Providing vital support to your immune system. Beneficial bacteria have a lifelong, powerful effect on your gut's immune system and your systemic immune system as well.

Sugar is also an incredibly efficient fertilizer for growing bad bacteria and yeast in your gut, so if you indulge in a lot of it you're fueling the bad bacteria rather than the good.

Likewise, stress, pollution, and taking antibiotics can further upset the balance in a negative way.

Since helpful bacteria are increasingly absent in most people's diets, it is important to purposely include foods that contain live probiotic bacteria in your diet, or take a probiotic supplement – especially since flu season is just around the corner.

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Here's What You Need to Know to Avoid the Flu This Year

Now is the time to start making healthy changes that will keep you virtually immune to cold and flu viruses. If you follow the tips I recommend, you can easily sail through each and every winter (and fall, spring and summer) without so much as a case of the sniffles.

How do I know this?

Because I have not caught the flu in over 20 years, and you can avoid it too – without getting vaccinated – by following these simple guidelines.

  • Optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is the likely cause of seasonal flu viruses. Getting an optimal level of vitamin D will help you fight infections of all kinds. In fact, the largest study yet of the association between vitamin D and respiratory infections found people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu.

  • Eat plenty of probiotic-rich fermented foods, or take a high-quality probiotic supplement to support your digestive and immune system health.

  • Avoid or Limit Sugar. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately and a strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness.

  • Get Enough Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight off cold and flu viruses.

  • Have Tools to Address Stress. We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness.

If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Meridian Tapping Technique (MTT), which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma

  • Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads.

  • Take a good source of animal-based omega-3 fats like Krill Oil, which is crucial for maintaining health.

  • Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap for this – antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.

Also, be careful not to overdo it. Washing your hands too much can actually remove much of the protective layer on your skin and increase your chances of acquiring an infection.

August 18, 2009

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By 1935, tensions ran high in Louisiana, as rumors of multiple plots to assassinate Huey Long swirled around the capital. Huey’s consolidation of personal power led to talk of armed insurrection by his enemies. On September 8, Huey was shot by the relative of a political enemy in the State Capitol, and he died two days later at age 42. News of Huey’s death made headlines around the world, and more than 100,000 mourners flocked to Baton Rouge to attend his funeral.

After the election of Long ally Oscar K. Allen to the governorship in 1932, Huey continued to exercise de facto control of state government and made frequent trips to Baton Rouge to push his bills through the legislature.

After death threats and a drive-by shooting at his New Orleans home, Huey beefed up his personal security, surrounding himself with armed bodyguards from the state police. Huey also worried about his family’s safety and was concerned that his children may be kidnapped. The threats only strengthened his resolve to crush his political opponents.

Completely stymied by Long's political maneuvers and legislative victories, his enemies formed a paramilitary organization called the Square Deal Association to plot armed insurrection. The movement likened itself to the 1874 white supremacist uprising against the state’s Reconstruction government.

In January 1935, 200 armed Square Dealers stormed the East Baton Rouge Parish courthouse, prompting Gov. Allen to call out the National Guard and declare martial law.

In July, Huey declared that he had discovered an assassination plot against him. Long’s associates had eavesdropped on a secret meeting in New Orleans, which included four Louisiana congressmen, New Orleans Mayor Walmsley, and former Governors Parker and Sanders. Another man, identified as “Dr. Wise,” was introduced at the gathering.

Huey Long Shot and Killed

On September 8, Huey was in the State Capitol in Baton Rouge for a special session of the Louisiana legislature, pushing through a number of bills including a measure to gerrymander opponent Judge Benjamin Pavy out of his job. According to the generally accepted version of events, Pavy’s son-in-law, Dr. Carl Weiss, approached Huey in a corridor and shot him at close range in the abdomen. Huey’s bodyguards immediately opened fire on Weiss as Huey ran to safety.

Weiss was killed instantly, and Huey was rushed to a nearby hospital, where emergency surgery failed to stop internal bleeding.

Huey died two days later on September 10, 1935, ten days after his 42nd birthday. His last words were, “God, don’t let me die. I have so much to do.”

This is excerpted from the Long Legacy Project and is reprinted in compliance with their terms of use.

August 3, 2009

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So much for the ongoing secrecy of the nation’s independent central banking system. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 75% of Americans favor auditing the Federal Reserve and making the results available to the public.

Just nine percent (9%) of adults think that’s a bad idea and oppose it. Fifteen percent (15%) aren’t sure. Over half the members of the House now support a bill giving the Government Accounting Office, Congress’ investigative agency, the authorization to audit the books of the Federal Reserve Board.

Support for the bill has grown now that the Obama administration is proposing to give the Fed greater economic regulatory powers. The Fed which sets U.S. monetary policy was created as an independent agency to keep it free of politically-motivated interference.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in a town forum filmed on Sunday which is airing this week on PBS stations said he is strongly opposed to the audit legislation. “I don’t think the American people want Congress running monetary policy,” he said. Howard Rich addressed this issue in a recent commentary and concluded it was important to locate the “trillions of dollars” the Fed has spent over the last year-and-a-half.

The new survey finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans in every demographic category – including age, gender, political affiliation, race and income – disagree with Bernanke and favor auditing the Fed to make its secretive deliberations public.

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Fifty-two percent (52%) of Americans support Bernanke’s efforts to speak out more publicly than his predecessors as Fed chairman, but his favorables have gone down over the past month. A plurality (41%) think the previous Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, did a better job, too.

While the president hopes to expand the Fed chairman’s regulatory controls, 46% of Americans say he already has too much power over the economy.

Fifty-one percent (51%) oppose expanding the Fed’s regulatory powers.

Despite Bernanke’s pledge that the Fed will keep interest rates and inflation down, 54% of Americans think interest rates will be higher a year from now, up 20 points from April.

Perhaps helping to drive the support for regularly auditing the Fed is the growing unpopularity of Obama’s economic initiatives to date. While the Fed is an independent agency, just 20% of Americans believe the Fed chairman is truly independent of the Obama administration. Sixty percent (60%) say his decision-making is influence by the president.

See survey questions and toplines. Crosstabs are available to Premium Rasmussen Members only.

This is reprinted with permission from Rasmussen Reports.

August 1, 2009

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In March 1995, the WHO and UNICRI announced the publication of the results of a global study on cocaine. Information had been collected in 22 cities and 19 countries about the use of the coca leaf and its derivatives, its effects on consumers and the community as a whole, and the answers of the governments concerned to the cocaine problem. Preparations for the research began in 1991. Over more than two years, three sub-projects were developed which "proposed to collect up-to-date information about cocaine at regional and national levels." The study was never published despite being "the largest study ever on cocaine use."

Reference to the study can be found in the UNICRI (United Nations Interregional Institute of Crime Investigation) library, where it is still marked as "RESTRICTED."

The Director of the PSA, Hans Emblad, sent a copy of the Briefing Kit to the United Nations Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP), where it caused a sensation. Two months later, on 9 May 1995 in Commission B of the forty-eighth General Health Assembly, the destiny of these years of labour was determined by the intervention of the representative of the United States of America, Mr Boyer. He expressed his government's concern with the results of this study: "which seem to make a case for the positive uses of cocaine, claiming that use of the coca leaf did not lead to noticeable damage to mental or physical health, that the positive health effects of coca leaf chewing might be transferable from traditional settings to other countries and cultures and that coca production provides financial benefits to peasants."

The representative said that his government considered suspending funds to WHO research if "activities related to drugs failed to reinforce proven drug control approaches." In reply, the representative of the Director General defended the study claiming it was "an important and objective analyses done by the experts," which "represented the views of the experts, and did not represent the stated policy position of the WHO, and WHO's continuing policy, which was to uphold the scheduling under the convention." It was not the intention to publish the study in its current form, the representative explained as it might lead to "misunderstanding." The debate concluded with agreement on a peer review by "genuine experts."

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"The United States Government considered that, if WHO activities relating to drugs failed to reinforce proven drug control approaches, funds for the relevant programmes should be curtailed. In view of the gravity of the matter, he asked the Director-General for an assurance that WHO would dissociate itself from the conclusions of the study and that, in substance abuse activities, an approach would not be adopted that could be used to justify the continued production of coca."

Peer review is a fundamental part of every scientific study, including those of the WHO. The timeline set for the peer review procedure was programmed in the terms of reference as to be concluded by 30 September 1997. In fact, from March 1995, names of potential researchers were listed and, in accordance with procedure, sent to the US National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in charge of selecting the candidates. Over the course of almost two years, an intensive fax exchange took place whereby the PSA proposed names and NIDA answered by refusing each and every one of them.

There has been no formal end to this "Cocaine Initiative." The majority of the participating scientists never heard what was done with their work.

See also: "Coca, cocaine and the international conventions," Transnational Institute UNGASS Review, April 2003.

See also: "The WHO cocaine report the US didn't want you to see," Transform Drug Policy Foundation, June 10, 2009.

Download the full leaked report here or here.

The document was obtained by the unaligned think tank, the Transnational Institute. This summary was provided on WikiLeaks.

June 24, 2009

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The ads are everywhere. Kentucky Fried Chicken is rolling out a new line of healthier, grilled meat. Subway offers milk and apple slices in lieu of soda and chips. McDonald's carries salads, yogurt parfaits and fish sandwiches.

Do these healthy choices lead Americans to eat healthier? Not according to new findings published in the Journal of Consumer Research, which suggest that having these nutritious foods on the menu may ironically influence people to pick the worst options instead.

Most people want to eat things that are good for them. But the problem, according to a group of psychologists at Duke University and Loyola College in Baltimore, is that our brains may reward us just for looking at healthy foods, so that we can choose foods poor in nutrition with a clear conscience.

"The mere presence of a healthy item on the menu helps to fulfill your goal to eat healthy," says Beth Vallen, who studies consumer behavior at Loyola College. She calls this psychological trickery "vicarious goal fulfillment."

Vallen and her colleagues asked one group of college students to pick from a menu of French fries, chicken nuggets, and a baked potato. A second group received a menu with these three items and a side salad, too. The students who saw the leafy greens were ironically more likely to order the French fries, the least nutritious option.

The experiment was repeated with a "ballpark" menu showing a fatty hamburger, a breaded chicken sandwich, and fish sandwich. When a veggie burger option was added, the hamburger became a more popular option.

  Seeing this picture on the menu could make you more likely to choose a higher-calorie meal, scientists say Photo Credit: Keith Weller      

Inspired by the recent trend of selling healthier snacks in vending machines, the researchers also tried showing the students different kinds of Oreo cookies. Adding a low-fat 100-calorie cookie pack to the cookie choices drove students to pick chocolate dipped Oreos over a lighter version of the snack.

Paradoxically, the unhealthy influence of these healthy options was most powerful on students with the greatest self-control – those who responded in surveys that they would usually choose health over indulgence. "These are the people who normally monitor their behavior," says Vallen.

These high self-controllers can blame their subconscious. Those who saw the unhealthy version of the menu responded faster to the word "health" flashed up on a computer screen than those given the salad menu. Since response time is a measure of how strong a goal is, this suggests that the goal of health was weakened in the minds of those who saw the salad.

"Consumers need to be aware that cues in the environment, like seeing healthy foods, can influences their choices and self-control automatically," says Vallen.

Salads at fast food restaurants may be boosting the sales of fried foods in other ways, says Brian Wansink of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of the book "Mindless Eating."

"What managers at Burger King have told me is that French fries outsell salads 30 to one," he says. He suspects that healthy foods may boost the sales of unhealthy items because "veto voters," moms who would ordinarily abstain from fast food, may take their kids to get happy meals if they themselves can order a salad.

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"I don't think we should draw the conclusion that healthy items should not be on the menu," says Pierre Chandon, a professor of marketing at INSEAD, a business school in France. "There are obviously positive aspects of having a healthy menu. But it can backfire."

Chandon has identified several other psychological tricks that healthy food can play on us.

For one thing, including a healthy item on a menu creates a "health halo" that makes the other choices seem more nutritious than they actually are. In 2007 Chandon discovered that diners at Subway were much more likely to underestimate the calories of fatty menu items than McDonald's customers.

"They've all seen the commercials with Jared and the healthy subs and think that all of the sandwiches are low in calories," says Chandon.

A peculiar aspect of these psychological phenomena, including "vicarious goal fulfillment," is that they may be particular to Americans. "When we added trans-fat-free crackers to a menu [of a restaurant frequented by locals] in New York, the other items appeared healthier," says Chandon. "But when we tried the same thing in Times Square, with international tourists, we saw no effect."

"We need to stop categorizing food as 'good food' and 'bad food," he says. To eat better, we should focus more on quantity, not just quality."

Video: Food Psychologist Explains the Mindless Way People Overeat

A food psychologist has found that people overeat unconsciously, due to numerous factors. Studies show that larger plates result in larger servings. Also, watching television while eating leads to people eating 40 percent more food.

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originally aired December 1, 2007 by Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science

June 13, 2009

Devin Powell writes for Inside Science News Service.

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The carrot is getting in touch with its more colorful past, thanks to scientists whose research in Maryland, Wisconsin, and Texas has produced a variety of different colored carrots, each aimed at preventing specific health problems.

The designer carrots come in a rainbow of colors chosen not for their looks but for their medicinal properties, ranging from preventing macular degeneration and cardiovascular disease to improving brain function and controlling blood pressure. The purple carrot, for instance, contains a pigment that has been shown in experiments to improve memory and learning in mice.

While these colorful carrots may seem exotic to consumers, the carrot is actually returning to its ancient roots. The first domesticated carrots, grown a thousand years ago in Asia, were not orange. They were purple, white, and possibly black. Modern-day markets in Turkey still sell purple carrots, which are used to make a fermented beverage called "shalgam" that tastes like pickle juice.

The first orange carrots appeared in the 16th century. One romantic, apocryphal rumor amongst botanists says that farmers in Holland bred the brighter vegetable to honor their prince, William I of the "House of Orange."

A more likely story, according to horticulturist Philipp Simon of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is that orange carrots gained popularity in many countries because the purple pigment makes a mess when cooked. "If you touch a purple carrot, the color tends to come off on your hands; if you boil a purple carrot, it stains everything in the pot – and the pot itself – black," says Simon, who bred many of the strains of orange carrots sold today in the U.S. Unlike water-soluble purple pigments, the orange in a carrot is fat-soluble and does not bleed out when boiled or steamed.

Simon began collecting purple carrots from Turkey, India, and Syria to unlock the genetics that made this color switch possible. He discovered that the purple color is linked to a single gene, which produces carrots that are purple just at the surface or all the way down to the core. The exact gene has yet to be identified, but experiments suggest that orange carrots carry a mutation in this bit of DNA.

When the carrot turned orange, it lost some of its nutritional value. Nutritionist Janet Dura-Novotny and her team at the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in Maryland studies the chemicals that give Simon's purple vegetables their hue: a group of antioxidants called anthocyanins that also color apple skins, berries, and autumn leaves.

Animal studies have shown that these natural compounds improve the mental and physical health of rodents. Mice fed anthocyanin extract have better memories and learn new tricks faster as the chemicals accumulate in the parts of their brains important for these abilities. Anthocyanins also reduce inflammation and combat weight gain, which could help prevent cardiovascular disease. The chemicals also block the growth of blood vessels that feed cancers.

To see if what is good for animals could also be good for human beings, Dura-Novotny has been feeding purple carrot juice to volunteers. Her team has found that some – though not all – of the several types of anthocyanins in purple carrots are "bioavailable," readily absorbed into the bloodstream when the juice is swallowed.

Just eating the colorful vegetables may not be enough – timing is also important. The body, the team found, can only absorb a certain amount of anthocyanins in one sitting; any extra is simply flushed out. "Eating a large amount of the vegetables at dinner would have less benefit than eating several smaller amounts throughout the day," says Dura-Novotny.

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In addition to purple, a rainbow of colored carrots, each touting a specific health benefit, are being studied by the vegetable improvement teams in Maryland and Wisconsin. Red carrots borrow a sweet-tasting substance commonly found in tomatoes, lycopene, which may help to prevent colon cancer. Yellow pigments come from leutin, a chemical that builds up in the eye and helps provide resistance against age-related diseases like macular degeneration. Even old-fashioned orange is getting a boost, with ultra-orange carrots enriched in the beta-keratin thought to protect against stroke, heart disease, and retinal damage.

The Maryland researchers are also experimenting with other vegetables that contain anthocyanins. The red tinges in red leaf lettuce are pigmented antioxidants, a natural sunscreen that helps the plant protect its DNA against damage caused by ultraviolet rays. Steven Britz, a plant physiologist at BARC, has developed a way to make darker, more colorful lettuce by bombarding the growing plants with UVB radiation – the component of sunlight that burns beach-goers.

Whether these specialty vegetables will make a splash in the consumer market has yet to be seen. Small growers in England tried to introduce purple and white carrots to British markets in 2002. "It was an economic disaster," says John Stolarczyk, curator of the virtual World Carrot Museum. "The ordinary every day English person is conservative and wanted orange carrots, not something different."

A version of the purple carrots, bred by Texas A&M professor Leonard Pike, can be found at the Whole Foods chain of grocery stories. Pike named these "maroon" carrots after the university's official colors, maroon and white. Smaller specialty markets also carry purple and other colors of carrots, and the California-based Bolthouse company is marketing purple carrot juice.

June 5, 2009

Devin Powell writes for Inside Science News Service.

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The three best visual illusions in the world were chosen at a gathering last weekend of neuroscientists and psychologists at the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Florida.

The winning entry, from a Bucknell University professor, may help explain why curve balls in baseball are so tricky to hit.

A properly thrown curve ball spins in a way that makes the air on one side move faster than on the other. This causes the ball to move along a gradual curve. From the point of view of a batter standing on home plate, though, curve balls seem to "break," or move suddenly in a new direction.

This year's winning illusion, created by Arthur Shapiro of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, may explain this phenomenon. His animation shows a spinning ball that, when watched directly, moves in a straight line. When seen out of the corner of the eye, however, the spin of the ball fools the brain into thinking that the ball is curving.

So as a baseball flies towards home plate, the moment when it passes from central to peripheral vision could exaggerate the movement of the ball, causing its gradual curve to be seen as a sudden jerk.

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As search crews found debris fields Tuesday in the area where Air France flight 447 apparently crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, John Perry Fish was waiting for the phone to ring.

Fish's company, American Underwater Search and Survey on Cape Cod, was involved recovering pieces of the 1996 TWA flight 800 crash in the Atlantic and the 2002 crash of China Airlines flight 611 over the Taiwan Strait.

He described the difficulties and procedures needed to find the remains of Air France flight.

"The water is deep in that region," he said, "some 7000 meters deep in the deepest parts, but averaging about 4000 meters. It is near the mid-Atlantic ridge, [an undersea mountain range] which runs from Iceland to the south Atlantic."


The first problem in finding the debris and black boxes from the plane, he said, is that the aircraft was not being tracked on radar when it disappeared, "so you don't know exactly where to start. If you have a radar track, you can plot an area of a couple miles out from that point and start searching."

Without the radar, he said, the task is to find the floating debris and do "hindcasting," which traces the path of debris backwards as it floats on the ocean currents.

"They'll have to work with flotsam," he said. "You get the wind and current data and work back. You have to distinguish between the light material that is on the surface and exposed to the wind, and the buoyant material, which is floating, but just under the surface and not exposed to the winds."

Chris German, the chief scientist for the deep submergence group at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod, said that even with two debris fields located miles apart, the backtracking can be done.

"You look at the ocean currents and wind and determine where the debris was 10 hours before, then 10 hours before that. You do that all the way back to when you think the crash occurred." Fish said that the hindcasting could trace out the path up to 30 days back in time.


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Fish said that once a point of impact has been estimated, the search begins for a debris field on the ocean bottom. That can be done by towing an unmanned sonar-mapping submersible at the end of a miles-long cable or by sending newer, autonomous submersibles that map the ocean bottom on out their own, which come back to the surface with their data.

The unmanned vehicles can only scan a strip about a kilometer wide at a time. And they have to be close to the bottom to see objects smaller than a small car, German said.

"In rougher terrain, you are looking at surveying a couple of square miles per day," he said.

The task is made harder by undersea currents, German said. He once lost a submersible craft off a ship near Bermuda, he said.

"It fell in and went to the bottom and we knew where it went in," he said. "But there are deep-sea currents that affect objects as they sink to the bottom."

He found his lost submersible, he said, but it was at the far edge of the projected search area, pushed there by the deep currents.

Once the debris field is located, a vehicle that can detect the pings of the black box can enter the search, Fish said.

The box, actually orange and about the size of a loaf of bread, is a technology that "hasn't changed much in decades," said Michael Thompson, a technical manager at Honeywell, which supplies black boxes to airlines.

It records the sounds of the pilot's voice and the engine noise, as well as data on the plane's altitude, airspeed, and heading.

"It takes some luck to find the box in the debris," said Thompson.


Attached to every black box is an underwater location device, also called an acoustic pinger, that can function up to depths of 20,000 feet (about 3.8 miles), said Thompson.

When a sensor on this device detects water, it activates the pinger, which sends out short pulses of sound in every direction, once every second. These sounds are about as loud as an electric drill would be above water.

"Under normal conditions, they have a range of about a mile," said Tom Greenacre, president of Dukane's Seacom division, a company that manufactures the pingers.

The ultrasonic acoustic pings are too high-pitched for a human ear to hear, at 37.5 kilohertz. This frequency was chosen to stand out against the types of sounds produced by waves, weather, and wildlife, said Thompson.

To detect them, ships and submersibles use underwater microphones called hydrophones.

The environment around the black box can distort the pings. Ambient noises can mask the sound, or wreckage from the crash can absorb the pings if the plane ends up on top of the box.

The top layers of water in the ocean where the temperature changes sharply can bend or refract a pulse of sound. Like a prism bending a ray of light, these "thermoclines" can send a pulse off course and confuse listening devices.

So any device trying to detect the ping has to be lowered below the thermoclines.

"It's highly dependent on the nature of the debris ... there are just so many variables," Greenacre said.


The battery of the black box lasts for 30 days. If the search takes more than 30 days and the black box batteries are dead, said Fish, the box can still be found "but you have to sort through the debris."

And that would be a difficult task, said German, who has spent time exploring volcanic thermal vents on the mid-Atlantic ridge.

"It's very dark down there," he said. "Even with lights and optimal equipment, you can only see tens of feet."

June 4, 2009

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I was born and raised a liberal Democrat. My grandmother, who lived through the Depression, thought that Franklin Roosevelt was the savior of the United States. My father, who was a farmer, explained to me why it was a good policy for the government to pay farmers to not grow crops. For years I thought that gun control laws were necessary to curb violent behavior. At one time I believed that minimum wage laws were compassionate. I used to defend our government in its foreign interventions, especially those based on humanitarian grounds.

But, during the past twelve years, I have rejected many political beliefs taught to me by my family and my schools. I now believe that our country is in serious trouble that only libertarian principles can alleviate.

Furthermore, these problems have a direct effect on your future.

When you graduate, you will look for a job. What if you cannot find one because the economy is in a recession or even a depression?

Your salary will be paid in dollars. What will those dollars be worth after the Federal Reserve decreases their value with its policy of inflation and Wall Street bailouts?

You will begin to save for your retirement. What if you pay into Social Security your whole life but receive no benefits at the end because the system is bankrupt?

And, heaven forbid, what if you must terminate your employment because our country reinstates the draft and sends you off to war as it did with my generation in the 60s?

The Non-aggression Principle

Libertarianism is based on this Non-aggression Principle: It should be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided that he does not initiate violence or threaten violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another.

The Non-aggression Principle implies all the common prohibitions against theft, murder, rape, torture, and violence against other individuals except in cases of self-defense of one's person or property.

But government itself is financed by the compulsory payment of taxes by its citizens. Taxes are not voluntary. If you disagree with the policies of your government you may not withhold your taxes because if you do the government will threaten you with the violence of law enforcement.

It therefore follows that the government that governs best is the government that governs least.

The libertarian philosophy advocates a small government in line with the US Constitution as envisioned by our founding fathers. It is growing in popularity but has a huge uphill battle to wage. Our government is in large part controlled by special interest groups and the leaders of an entrenched two-party system. The maintenance of this system is based on a series of myths that are perpetuated to justify an ever-expanding government that assumes more power year by year, the very antithesis of a government that governs least.

Here are some of those myths.

Myth Number One – That which is immoral should be illegal.

It is true that many actions that are immoral should be illegal – actions such as theft and murder. However, no action by any individual in the privacy of his own home that does not initiate violence against another should be illegal even if it is immoral. Nor should any action between two consenting adults that does not initiate violence against others be illegal even if it is immoral.

We are in the midst of a huge, expensive, failed war on drugs. The war itself produces more harm than the abuse of the illegal drugs. A recent study puts our incarceration rate at 1%, the highest per capita rate of any country in the world. It is estimated that about a half million of these are for nonviolent drug offenses. Alcohol prohibition was responsible for gangland violence in the streets, and drug prohibition is no different. Libertarians call for an end to the drug war.

Myth Number Two – Government regulation is necessary to save us from the failures of laissez faire capitalism.

The prime example of this myth is the belief that laissez faire capitalism caused the Great Depression and that government intervention in the economy ended it. The fact is, however, that the Federal Reserve was founded in 1913, a full 16 years before the fateful stock market crash of 1929. The Fed presided over an expansion of the credit market, which produced the roaring 20's, the largest economic bubble in history before its collapse.

In recent history, we have seen the dot com bubble and now the real estate mortgage bubble. Both of these bubbles are created by government intervention in the credit market through the Federal Reserve central bank. Libertarians call for an economic policy governed by the principles of the Austrian School of Economics, which includes a minimization of government intervention in the free market.

Myth Number Three – Government intervention in the affairs of foreign countries is necessary for the security of its own citizens.

Ever since the tragic events of September 11, our executive branch has justified its intervention in Iraq and the subsequent erosion of our civil liberties in order to secure our safety. It has even established a policy of preemptive war, whereby it claims the authority to invade another country because that country might aggress against us in the future. Imagine the chaos in the world if every country claimed that authority.

Our intervention in Iraq has made us less safe, not more, because of the unintended consequence called "blowback" by the CIA in its recently declassified report on our policy in Iran. The 9/11 Commission report also describes the blowback phenomenon. Our military intervention, apart from its devastating effects on Iraqi civilians, acts as recruiting tool for extremists. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

Libertarians call for a foreign policy of nonintervention in general and an immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq in particular.

Myth Number Four – Non-interventionism is the same as isolationism.

Isolationists want to isolate the country from interaction with the rest of the world. To that end, they are for national economic self-sufficiency and protectionist tariffs. Isolationists use trade wars and economic sanctions as foreign policy tools to isolate other countries from the world economy.

Libertarian non-interventionists, on the other hand, support international trade, low tariffs, cultural exchange, and diplomatic contact. They view trade as so beneficial that they refuse to withhold it even from despotic states. A positive example is our continuing trade with Communist China, which serves to open that country to the liberal ideals of the west and is beneficial both to us and to them in spite of their tarnished record on human rights. A negative example is our continuing economic boycott of Cuba, a policy that has failed to remove its leader of a half century.

Myth Number Five – If the government does not solve a social problem, the social problem will not be solved.

This myth is used to justify government provision of social services such as health care, education, and retirement. The myth is based on the conflation of negative rights with positive rights.

Negative rights are rights of prohibition against other people from initiating violence against you. Negative rights are enshrined in the phrase from the Declaration of Independence that all people have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Positive rights force other individuals to provide you with a service. Positive rights are claims that you have a right to a job with a living wage, a right to affordable health care, a right to an education, and a right to a comfortable retirement. Government uses the fiction of positive rights to expand its power in the provision of these services.

Libertarians object to the use of government to provide social services on two grounds, one ethical and one practical.

Because tax collection is not voluntary, people who receive social services from the government do so through a forced exchange of tax dollars. The receipt of such services thus violates the Non-aggression Principle and is unethical.

The practical objection is the observation that no government agency exercising monopoly power can provide a service with better quality or lower price than the free market can under the discipline of the profit motive. We would have better schools and better health care without government interference in these markets.

Libertarians call for a government whose sole function is limited to the Constitutional guarantee of the negative rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Myth Number Six – Libertarianism is idealistic and does not work in practice.

Libertarians are often accused of having a nave faith in the free market, and having ideas about the way society ought to be governed that are not practical. As with most myths, the truth is precisely the opposite, as can be demonstrated by public choice theory. Public choice scholars analyze the structure of government from an economic and political perspective to explain why certain policies come into being.

Government programs are not effective because the incentive system does not reward bureaucrats for good service or punish them for bad service. The Los Angeles Unified School District is impossible to reform because they do not go out of business when they provide poor service as a private company would. Nor does FEMA.

Politicians cannot be expected to be good stewards of other people's money obtained through the force of taxation. They are motivated by the same self-interest that motivates all people. Because of the professionalization of the political class, their interest is in winning elections, a process that is only possible by courting special interests.

It is the height of naveté to place your faith in a governmental system that can only work if its politicians and bureaucrats are saints and angels.


The libertarian philosophy is the ultimate philosophy of tolerance. It is a philosophy of live and let live, of not initiating violence against any other individual, of liberty for all, of peace, and of prosperity.

That is why I am a Ron Paul libertarian.

This is based on a talk delivered at the Forum for Political Understanding, Pepperdine University, on April 7, 2008.

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At the end of last month, the U.S. Selective Service System issued a report assuring President George W. Bush that it would be ready to implement a draft within 75 days. While stirring up a storm of speculation, this report may actually be the least compelling harbinger of a draft.

Far more dire is the skyrocketing need for troops amid plummeting supply. More than 300,000 of the 482,000 soldiers in the US army are already deployed abroad, predominantly in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea and the former Yugoslavia. The ratio of two soldiers abroad for every one at home is the opposite of what military strategists say is necessary to maintain a long-term deployment.

It would take 100,000 new troops at home to correct this discrepancy, but the government concedes that new troops are not coming in.

All four military services missed their enlistment quotas last year, according to one analysis, and regular military, reserve and National Guard recruitment levels are at a 30-year low.

With a lack of new troops, the Pentagon has relied heavily on rotations to maintain the 150,000-strong force in Iraq. Yet a Pentagon-funded poll in late 2003 found that 49 percent of troops did not plan to re-enlist, and that number is likely to be even higher now.

Without a major influx of new recruits, many observers say the option of relying on Reserves and National Guard troops is not sustainable.

Last September, the 40,000 National Guard troops who make up nearly half of US forces in Iraq were asked to remain on active duty after their tours were done, and most were officially told that their enlistment would extend until 2031. This presidential action, known as "stop loss," is only meant for emergencies or congressionally declared wars, of which Iraq is neither.

The head of the Army Reserves recently wrote a memo saying that over-deployment has crippled his troops' readiness and that the reserves were "degenerating into a broken force."

Almost desperate, the Pentagon has called up more than 5,500 "Ready Reserves," older men and women whose regular reserve duty has already ended, and many of whom are now grandfathers and grandmothers. The Army also plans to significantly increase the number of recruiters and to launch a new 150-million-dollar ad campaign.

Jeffrey Record, a visiting professor at the Air War College, said in a January 2004 report that the US Army is "near the breaking point." And Charles Moskos, creator of the army's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy on gay soldiers, and an advisor to four presidents on military affairs, was quoted last July as saying, "We cannot achieve the number of troops we need in Iraq without a draft."

Since Vietnam, those who cried "draft" have been laughed at. But the combination of increasing troop needs, a shortage of new recruits and a hawkish administration that is now casting shadowy glances Iran, Syria, and Korea, has led the US media, from Rolling Stone to Time Magazine, to once again to take up the question of a draft.

The US left is also gearing up to counter a potential draft, and to strike at the occupation where it is most vulnerable – military recruitment.

Last weekend, activists and former military personnel who resisted combat duty came together for a youth and resistance conference in New York City. At the heart of the conference, organized by NYC No Draft No Way, was a plan to support and encourage resisters in the military, and to cut off the information channels and recruitment methods used by recruiters like the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC).

"Bush and Rumsfeld said absolutely there will not be a draft," said Dustin Langley, a former Navy officer and organizer for the No Draft, No Way campaign.

"This is the man who said that 'we know where the WMDs are', 'I will restore dignity to the White House', and 'we will be greeted as liberators in Iraq'."

"All a draft takes is for Congress to sit down and pass legislation," Langley said. "Military recruiters don't have the right to be on our campuses, to lie to us, and to take our children to an early grave."

Justino Rodriguez, the son of an officer waiting to return to Iraq on his 42nd tour of duty, also spoke. On Mar. 9, Rodriguez was beaten and arrested by police along with two other students from the City College of New York for peacefully protesting the presence of military recruiters at a campus career fair.

Rodriguez said that the career fair more or less consisted of three groups. A line of students wrapped around the corner for jobs offered by the telecom giant Verizon, while the retail chain Walgreens made its case for entry-level positions paying eight dollars an hour. And then there were the military recruiters.

"They prey on the fact we can barely afford to go to college," Rodriguez said. "What they don't say is it's so hard to get the GI Bill that less than half do."

Rodriguez and two other students, as well as 20 faculty and staff who challenged the recruiters, were suspended from school. A petition started that day demanding the full reinstatement of staff and students – which has been done – received 1,000 signatures. The students are still fighting the criminal charges.

Langley and others say parents need to be educated about parts of the "No Child Left Behind Act," which allow military recruiters to access information about students including their home address, telephone number, and extracurricular activities.

Most are unaware that they can prevent this information from being released by submitting an Opt-Out Form signed by parents or students to the school administration.

Organizers also want to publicize the option for military resisters to find safe haven in Canada. During the Vietnam War, over 50,000 Americans went to Canada to avoid the draft. Today however, Canadian law does not allow foreigners to apply for immediate "landed immigrant status"; they must apply outside of the country and wait up to two years or more for a decision.

But Gerry Condon, a former Green Beret who refused to fight in Vietnam and who is organizing support for military personnel who have already gone to Canada to avoid fighting in the Iraq war, says that military resisters can avoid the new law by entering Canada as tourists and applying for refugee status.

At the conference, Condon said he was surprised the antiwar movement had not been bolder in asking people in the military to resist.

"It's illegal," he said, "But so is the war."

April 23, 2005

Niko Kyriakou writes for Inter Press Service.

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is charging that U.S. Army documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the mistreatment of detainees in Iraq was much more widespread than the government has admitted.

The advocacy group also accused the Army of failing to comply with a court order to release the documents and of manipulating the media "to minimize coverage and public access."

The ACLU said the reason for the delay in delivering the more than 1,200 pages of documents was "evident in the contents," which include reports of brutal beatings, "exercise until exhaustion," and sworn statements that soldiers were told to "beat the f**k out of" detainees. One file cites evidence that military intelligence personnel in Iraq "tortured" detainees held in their custody.

The treatment was reportedly meant to "soften up" detainees for interrogation. It occurred at the same time guards at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were carrying out similar tactics.

Army officials also released the first full accounting of 16 closed detainee-homicide investigations and eight open cases from Afghanistan and Iraq. The list shows that half of the cases (12) occurred in U.S. detention facilities abroad from late 2002 to late 2004.

And the ACLU has disclosed a Sept. 14, 2003 memo signed by Lt. Gen. Ricardo A. Sanchez, then senior commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, authorizing 29 interrogation techniques, including 12 that "far exceeded limits established by the Army's own Field Manual."

The Sanchez memo allows for interrogation techniques including the use of military dogs specifically to "exploit Arab fear of dogs," sensory deprivation, and stress positions.

"At a minimum, the documents indicate a colossal failure of leadership," ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer told IPS. "The documents provide further evidence that abuse of prisoners was pervasive in Iraq. The government's contention that abuse was aberrational is completely unhinged from reality."

The documents were supposed to have been turned over to the ACLU on March 21, but were not released until late on March 25 – the Friday preceding Easter weekend.

"Select reporters received a CD-ROM with the documents before they were given to the ACLU," the group added.

The documents – along with more than 30,000 others to date – were released in response to a federal court order that directed the Defense Department and other government agencies to comply with a year-old request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace. The New York Civil Liberties Union is co-counsel in the case.

The newest documents include:

  • Evidence of abuse of a teenage detainee: A high school student had his jaw broken, requiring his mouth to be wired shut, and could eat only through a straw. The victim was told "to say that I've fallen down and no one beat me." The Army report concluded that the broken jaw was caused either as a result of a blow by a U.S. soldier or a collapse due to "complete muscle failure" from being excessively exercised.
  • Death of a detainee with no history of medical problems: Abu Malik Kenami died while in detention in Mosul, Iraq. On the day he died, Kenami had been "punished with several ups and downs – a correctional technique of having a detainee stand up and then sit-down rapidly, always keeping them in constant motion … and ha[d] his hands flex-cuffed behind his back." He was also hooded, with "a sandbag placed over [his] head." The file states that "[t]he cause of Abu Malik Kenami's death will never be known because an autopsy was never performed on him."
  • Soldiers were told to "beat the f**k out of detainees": Army documents include sworn statements that soldiers were told in August 2003 to "take the detainee[s] out back and beat the f**k out of them."

  • Perceptions of chain-of-command endorsement of retribution: A military intelligence team saw soldiers kicking blindfolded and "zipcuffed" detainees several times in the sides while yelling profanities at them. The investigation concludes that at least three military personnel abused the detainees. It adds that some of the soldiers "may perceive that the chain-of-command is endorsing 'payback' by allowing the units most affected by suspected detainee actions to play the greatest role in bringing those suspects to justice."

In a separate development, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which joined the ACLU in the FOIA case, said "at least 26 prisoners who died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 were likely the victims of criminal homicide."

CCR released a series of documents surrounding one unexplained death in Mosul, Iraq, obtained through a FOIA request with the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace. CCR said the documents derive from "what appears to be a very brief investigation of the death of a prisoner" in December 2003 in an Army Brigade Holding Area in Mosul, Iraq.

One soldier reports, "He continued to mess with his mask/sandbag so I took his handcuffs off and put them behind his back and smoked him for another 20 minutes before I sat him down."

At night, the prisoner had to sleep with the sandbag on his head and his hands cuffed behind his back. On the morning of the fourth day, he was found dead in his cell. According to the report, an autopsy was supposed to be performed, but no record of it was provided. As the result of another investigation, the Army has decided not to prosecute 17 U.S. soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released by the Army last week.

Investigators had recommended that all 17 soldiers be charged in the cases, according to the accounting by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The charges included murder, conspiracy, and negligent homicide.

The Defense Department declined to comment further on any of its reports.

April 2, 2005

William Fisher writes for Inter Press Service.

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Is the U.S. government spying on its citizens' e-mail and Web surfing habits?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that defends civil liberties on the Internet, believes the answer is probably "yes." Earlier this month, the San Francisco-based watchdog filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other U.S. Department of Justice offices.

It is seeking documents that would shed light on whether the government has been using the USA PATRIOT Act, which curtails some civil liberties as part of the "war on terror," to spy on Internet users and collect secret information about their online activity without a search warrant.

"Although Internet users reasonably expect that their online reading habits are private, the [Justice Department] will not confirm whether it collects or believes itself authorized to collect URLs using pen-trap devices," said Kevin Bankston, an EFF attorney.

Pen-traps collect information about the numbers dialed on a telephone but do not record the actual content of phone conversations. Because of this limitation, court orders authorizing pen-trap surveillance are easy to get; instead of having to show probable cause, the government need only show relevance to its investigation. The government is not required to inform people that they are or were the subjects of pen-trap surveillance.

The USA PATRIOT Act was hastily passed by Congress shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Parts of it are due to expire this year and require re-authorization by Congress.

Under the act, the government can monitor an individual's Web-surfing records, use roving wiretaps to monitor phone calls made by individuals "proximate" to the primary person being tapped, access Internet Service Provider (ISP) records, and monitor the private records of people involved in legitimate protests.

Section 216 of the act gives the government permission to conduct surveillance in criminal investigations using pen registers or trap and trace devices ("pen-traps").

The Justice Department says the new definitions allow pen-traps to collect e-mail and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. However, the agency has been less forthcoming about Web surveillance. It will not reveal whether it believes URLs (Uniform Resource Locator, the global address of documents and other resources on the Web) can be collected using pen-traps, despite the fact that URLs clearly reveal content by identifying the Web pages being read.

"Much of the [PATRIOT] Act is coming up for review this year, but we can never have a full and informed debate of the issues when the DOJ [Justice Department] won't explain how it has been using these new surveillance powers," Bankston told IPS.

The Justice Department's implementation of the PATRIOT Act has been widely criticized, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a $3.5 million campaign to "promote a public debate about proposals and measures that violate civil liberties without increasing our security."

The group filed the first lawsuit against the PATRIOT Act and has since filed other challenges. In Sept. 2004, it received the first-ever ruling in its challenge to National Security Letters, which were expanded under the PATRIOT Act.

Last October, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee sent 50 questions to the Justice Department about how it was implementing the Act.

Committee Chair James Sensenbrenner, a conservative Republican from Wisconsin, ultimately declared himself "satisfied that the DOJ has produced answers that are sufficient for the committee's oversight and legislative efforts at this time."

But Lee Tien, EFF senior counsel, said at the time, "We need to have a systematic knowledge of how surveillance powers are used."

Tien was concerned about the Justice Department's failure to maintain records of how it uses its new powers, and the fact that the department gave the congressional committee only anecdotal answers, rather than complete numbers.

While the law was passed as an anti-terrorism measure, it is not limited to terrorism. For example, government spying on suspected computer trespassers – not just terrorist suspects – requires no court order. Wiretaps are now allowed for any suspected violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, potentially opening the way to government spying on any computer user.

The PATRIOT Act also gave Internet Service Providers (ISPs) authority to release certain private data if a person's life is in danger. The Justice Department does not have statistics on the number of times it has accessed such information, according to its report to the congressional committee.

However, it does describe how this tool enabled investigators to track down a student who posted threats to bomb his high school on an electronic bulletin board.

"The general problem with this provision is that it puts the ISP in a very difficult position," lawyer Tien says. "If you have an FBI agent on you, and there is a serious threat ... that is pretty hard to contest."

Last April, the ACLU challenged this section of the law on behalf of an unnamed Internet company as an "undue restriction on free speech and privacy rights." A federal judge ruled the section unconstitutional and barred the FBI from invoking that part of the law in the future.

The PATRIOT Act requires ISPs and any other type of communications provider – including telephone companies – to comply with secret "national security letters" (NSLs) from the FBI.

Those letters can ask for information about subscribers, including home addresses, what telephone calls were made, e-mail subject lines and logs of what Web sites were visited.

In the ACLU case, U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero ruled that "the recipient of an [NSL] is forever gagged against disclosing its existence to any person," and that this gag order amounts to an "unconstitutional prior restraint of speech in violation of the First Amendment."

The U.S.' "big three" ISPs – Microsoft Network (MSN), America Online (AOL), and Earthlink – all provide their customers with privacy agreements. But the MSN and Earthlink agreements give these ISPs authority to intercept their customers' e-mails; the AOL agreement limits its monitoring to AOL content, not Web-browsing.

Civil libertarians have found some unlikely allies in Congress. Conservative Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas is emerging as a new congressional leader on freedom of information policy and openness in government.

Two years ago, Sen. Cornyn, who was previously Texas' attorney general, helped broker an amendment to limit the scope of an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act sought by the National Security Agency.

February 2, 2005

William Fisher writes for Inter Press Service.

[post_title] => The World Wide Watchers [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-world-wide-watchers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-04-18 13:11:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-04-18 18:11:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.lewrockwell.com/ips/fisher2.html [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => article [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_title_2] => The World Wide Watchers [subtitle] => [directory] => ips [podPressMedia] => [podPressPostSpecific] => Array ( [itunes:subtitle] => ##PostExcerpt## [itunes:summary] => ##PostExcerpt## [itunes:keywords] => ##WordPressCats## [itunes:author] => ##Global## [itunes:explicit] => Default [itunes:block] => Default ) ) [28] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 138831 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2005-02-02 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2005-02-02 06:00:00 [post_content] =>

When Israel dispatched F-16 bombers almost 24 years ago to destroy Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in Osirak, the pilots knew they only had to hit a single target. Were Israeli or U.S. planes to be sent today to neutralize Iran's nuclear program, the mission would be far more complicated: with Iranian facilities spread out, the pilots would have to strike targets across the country, and none of them a large, clearly identifiable reactor.

Speaking last week, though, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was not ready to rule out military action – by Israel. If Jerusalem became convinced, he said, that "the Iranians had significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards."

Israeli leaders, extremely concerned by the prospect of a nuclear Iran, have been less brazen. If Israel acted alone, "we will remain alone," Vice Premier Shimon Peres said. "Everyone knows our potential, but we also have to know our limits. As long as there is a possibility that the world will organize to fight against Iran's nuclear option, let the world organize."

With the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discussing Iran's nuclear activities, the rhetoric has become increasingly shrill. Israeli leaders have long warned of what they see as the danger of Iran's nuclear program to the entire region, and they are hoping the Americans will ultimately prevent Tehran from getting the bomb.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei told the Washington Post Sunday that he could not see "how a military solution can resolve the Iran issue. In my view, with Iran having almost self-sufficiency in the technology, the Iranians will go underground ... you might delay them, but they will rebuild it with the objective of having a weapon."

Israeli intelligence officials estimate that Iran could be capable of producing enriched uranium within six months and have nuclear weapons within two years. Earlier this month, head of Israeli military intelligence Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi said that while Iran was not currently capable of enriching uranium to build a nuclear bomb, "it is only half a year away from achieving such independent capability – if it is not stopped by the West."

Israeli officials have also accused Tehran of trying to dupe the international community. They believe Iran will try and stave off the threat of sanctions while pushing ahead secretly with its efforts to attain nuclear weapons capability.

ElBaradei admitted Iran had "cheated" in the past about its nuclear program, but said it was now "cooperating." The IAEA determined in November that Iran was complying with an agreement to cease uranium enrichment. For its part, Iran insists that its program has a purely civilian goal – the production of electricity.

The European Union is urging Tehran to completely ditch its nuclear fuel program to prove it is not seeking to produce atomic weapons. It is holding out a trade accord as an incentive. But German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who along with Britain and France is trying to engage Iran on the nuclear issue, said last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that "diplomatic and political" means were required to persuade Tehran, not force.

As with Iraq, the United States has taken a far more hardline stance. Earlier this month, President George W. Bush hinted at possible military action against Iran. He said he hoped the issue could be resolved diplomatically, but that he would "never take any option off the table."

In Jerusalem, officials interpreted Cheney's warning about a possible Israeli military strike as a message to the Europeans to get tough on Iran. A senior Israeli official was quoted as saying that Cheney's remarks were "intended to tell the Europeans: 'If you don't take a greater role in a policy of implementing sanctions and moving vigorously to stop Iran's nuclear program, then we are not responsible for what Israel will do.'"

Ze'evi said he has been trying to explain the magnitude of the Iranian nuclear threat to European countries. "The Iranians can reach Portugal with nuclear weapons," he said. "This doesn't worry the Europeans. They tell me that during the Soviet regime as well they were under a nuclear threat, and I try to explain to them that Iran is a different story."

Some observers in Israel argue that a nuclear Iran would be less of a threat to Israel than to other countries in the region. They point to reports that Israel possesses a submarine-based second-strike capability.

Arab countries blame Israel for spurring nuclear aspirations in the Middle East. The Jewish state is believed to be the only Middle East country with nuclear arms, although it neither denies nor confirms its possession of such weapons – a policy that has been dubbed "nuclear ambiguity." Israel has between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, according to foreign reports.

Israel's atomic secrets were exposed for the first time almost 20 years ago by Mordechai Vanunu, a technician at the nuclear plant in Dimona in the south of the country. Vanunu, who was released from jail last year after serving an 18-year term for treason, handed information in 1986 to the Sunday Times in London about Israel's nuclear program He was later kidnapped by Israeli agents in Rome and smuggled to Israel to stand trial.

Dr. Shmuel Bar, a senior research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya near Tel Aviv says the chances of Israeli military action are low. "If we act unilaterally, we will be blamed, the Iranians will react, and we will not get public American backing," he told IPS. Israel, he added, must not turn the Iranian nuclear issue into an Israeli problem. "It is first and foremost an American problem."

The United States cannot accept a nuclear Iran which would be able to "dictate its positions in the Gulf and in Iraq," says Bar. He foresees disagreement between Europe and the United States, leading ultimately to unilateral American action. "There could be an oil embargo on Iran with the American Sixth Fleet blocking passage [of Iranian vessels] in the Gulf."

A growing number of experts now argue that a military option no longer exists because Iran has spread its nuclear facilities across the country and has not concentrated them in one place, as was the case in Iraq. There have also been reports of Tehran setting up dummy nuclear facilities.

A single air strike, therefore, would be insufficient to knock out Iran's program. What is more, Israel is aware that Tehran would likely respond, possibly with long-range missiles.

This might explain why some in the United States today talk of regime change in Iran, rather than of military action. It is also questionable whether Bush, mired in Iraq, has the appetite for another major military escapade.

But Shmuel Bar does not rule out the possibility of U.S. military action. "Bush is an ideological president, and he isn't going to be running for a third term," he says.

February 2, 2005

Peter Hirschberg writes for Inter Press Service.

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On Sunday, the U.S. periodical Newsweek revealed that the Pentagon is actively considering an effort in Iraq that human rights groups say more closely resembles a dark and desperate homage to D'Aubissonism than an actual policy initiative.

Harkening back to the days when the Ronald Reagan administration and its Salvadoran proxies, led by the extreme right-wing political leader Roberto D'Aubuisson, were fighting a "losing war" with the leftist rebels of the FMLN, Newsweek recalled how "the U.S. government funded or supported 'nationalist' forces that allegedly included so-called 'death squads' directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers."

Adding that "many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success – despite the deaths of innocent civilians" (perhaps the understatement of the year so far, given the low-end estimate of 40,000 civilians dead) – the magazine reported that the Pentagon may apply this approach to Iraq, deploying US Special Forces teams to "advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers."

This may be the best indicator to date as to just how far 'round the bend the current crop of Pentagonistas has gone in their bid to check the insurgency-they-never-thought-could-happen.

This is not just because Pentagon hawks are apparently still rationalizing away murdered Salvadorans. It's also because the US military's own scholarship over the past 20 years holds that that the U.S.'s military and political counterinsurgency efforts in El Salvador are at best a case study in how to prolong an insurgency, and not an approach worthy of emulation.

In a 1991 paper for the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Maj. Robert J. Coates characterized the conflict – then in its twelfth year – as far from the "success" the George W. Bush administration now claims it was, but rather as an ongoing "insurgency to be defeated."

Having been a US military advisor to the ESAF, the El Salvadoran Armed Forces, Coates was certainly in a position to know.

Contrary to rosy reports about the ESAF's "improvements," Coates characterized its officer corps as one so "riddled with corruption" and inhumane to its own soldiers ("officers view the enlisted men as a replaceable commodity") that it was "detrimental to the war effort," so much so that it had actually "aided the insurgency's ability to prolong the war."

Coates' report was, however, really only a shorter, updated version of 1989's "American Military Policy in Small Wars: The Case of El Salvador" by the conservative quartet of Andrew Bacevich, James Hallums, Richard White and Thomas Young – all, at the time, US Army lieutenant colonels.

In essence, their conclusion was that a decade of billions of dollars in US military and civil aid had accomplished little but preserving a wretched status quo with no end in sight.

Unlike many who start from the errant presumption that counterinsurgency is primarily a military, rather than political, affair, the colonels held that any U.S.-backed military counterinsurgency efforts had to be conducted only as support for a program of real social, political, economic and military reform, with an "honest and responsive government" as a partner.

In El Salvador, the officers found, US aid in the name of counterinsurgency had created a defining paradigm in which the Salvadoran military and its proxies pursued a campaign of "lavish brutality, fail[ing] to distinguish between dissenters and revolutionaries," killing tens of thousands – many of whom had nothing to do with the FMLN – reflecting a "US policy built on a foundation of corpses."

So concluded Benjamin Schwartz, the RAND Corporation analyst tasked with assessing El Salvador policy for the Department of Defense. Drawing on his own experiences for a December 1998 Atlantic Monthly review of William Leo Grande's excellent "Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977–1992," Schwartz noted that while victory was elusive, the "dirty little secret" to maintaining a perpetual stalemate was that "death squads worked."

Looking back with revulsion on the bipartisan enabling of mass murder – with Republicans "greatly exaggerating" the human rights achievements of what they knew was a perpetually "homicidal regime" and Democrats pursuing a policy of "meaningless threats," getting the occasional unenforceable condition attached to aid that they would never block – Schwartz summed up "counterinsurgency" in El Salvador as a policy that "demanded nothing less than that America effect fundamental changes in the country's authoritarian culture, its political practices, and its economic, social and military structure.

"Such a project used to be called, presumptuously, 'nation-building'...What is indisputable is that for a decade American policymakers in Washington and American civilian and American military personnel in El Salvador consorted with murders and sadists."

As Schwartz and others have noted, the end of the war in El Salvador had little to do with a triumph of military counterinsurgency or the effectiveness of US" nation-building" efforts, but with the end of the Cold War.

With the mighty Sovieticus gone, the Salvadoran government knew Tio Sam would no longer be so effusive with aid and accommodating of murder, and finally the government sat down and negotiated a peace with the FMLN.

This illustrated one of many lessons about the US efforts in El Salvador: "American involvement in counterinsurgency," observed the Army War College's Steve Metz, "is often like lending money to a chronic gambler – it postpones real resolution of the problem rather than speeding it."

So what, then, is the real import of the El Salvador counterinsurgency experience to Iraq? At best, a cautionary study in comparisons.

First, in terms of actual soldiering, the Iraqi military is just as bad, if not worse, then the Salvadoran army.

Second, not only does Iraq currently lack a real government, but based on the Sunni boycott of elections, it's not going to have a truly legitimate, representative government.

Third, despite the US government's crowing about civil and economic assistance to make Iraq a better place, whatever government Iraq does have will, on the Salvador model, likely be allowed to be as ineffectual, brutal or corrupt as it wants – because, as was the case in Salvador, the imperative of staving off the guerillas will trump all, as it reflects a US strategic national security objective.

There may be some optimists in the US executive – as well as Democratic enablers in Congress – who think that the Salvador model can be deployed in a way that also applies lessons learned from Salvador without repeating them in Iraq.

For that to work, though, the US government and its army actually need a modern counterinsurgency doctrine and training regimen – which, as a recent generation of young officer-scholars and military historians continue to note, it doesn't have. May fortune favor the foolish.

January 13, 2005

Jason Vest is a Senior Correspondent for The American Prospect and a contributor to the Boston Phoenix and The Nation, specializing in intelligence and national security affairs.

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How could he?

Was it an example of immaturity, reminding one of a child who becomes angry in the middle of a game and takes his ball home?

How could Stanley Cup winning goaltender Tim Thomas, a hero of the average man, pass up a photo op with President Obama, who had invited his team to the White House some seven months after they won the championship?

It was "Bush League. Shabby. Immature. Unprofessional and Self-centered," wrote Hockey Hall of Fame writer Kevin Paul Dupont in the Boston Globe.

Or was it?

I think not.

Tim Thomas, a goaltender who took years to achieve anything and spent a good part of his checkered career playing in Europe, is a maverick. He claims the right to think for himself, a dangerous idea in this age of get along and go along. And he made his point by being the only Bruin not to attend one of these traditional championship audiences in which the modern imperial president, a person who can make war with little objection from Congress, basks in the accomplishment of a championship team.

As a longtime Bruins fan, I've read Dupont's excellent hockey analysis over the years. Yet, from the time to time, he has slipped in comments in his hockey columns that public schools and other government departments are underfunded. Dupont has every right to criticize Thomas.

However, it would be nice if, as he sets himself up as the political critic of hockey players, he would disclose his own political sympathies. I would guess that, like most of the Boston Globe staff, he likely believes in the principle of more government and voted for Obama.

But I must not forget the principled man who did this: Tim Thomas. He is a man who caused himself much grief by standing alone. Until recently he was an apolitical hockey hero who came out of nowhere to become a champion. Everyone liked or at least respected him.

Now he is a target of the politically correct; of the enablers of President Obama who pretend that everything is fine in America; who want to forget that more and more of our young people are dying every day in useless wars, that he is spending the country into bankruptcy and that the president's Keynesian policies – and he is certainly not the first president who followed these failed policies – have made things even worse than when he took over from another failed president, George W. Bush.

So why did the "shabby" (sic) Tim Thomas do what he did? We're told by Dupont that his comments are part of "the right wing/conservative/Tea Party end of our political spectrum for the last 2-3 years."

The last two to three years? It must be opposition to President Obama, whose policies Dupont says are making things a little better. (Very little, I would say). Here let's listen to Dupont:

"Politically our nation is a mess," Dupont says (It's probably those damn Tea Party types who want less government), "but the material Property of the People of the people at least seems to be getting better."

Does it, now?

In a quarter century of living in Queens, New York I've never seen more empty stores in our commercial strips. Possibly, Obama, who I doubt has ever studied the Keynesian policies he doggedly pursues, has never heard the comments of a former British prime minister, someone who made the same errors but learned:

"We used to think that you could just spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending,' said British prime minister James Callaghan in September 1976. "I tell you, in all candor, that the option no longer exists; and that insofar as it ever did exist, it only worked by injecting bigger doses of inflation into the economy followed by higher levels of unemployment as the next step," Callaghan said.

But let us not forget this goaltender who so angers the politically correct. He issued a short statement at NHL.com when he decided to pass up a photo-op with the president. Let's look at his comments, the comments that Dupont dismisses as "blather."

Thomas, in a wonderfully short statement, explains his White House absence by writing, "I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties and Property of the People."


But it gets better.

"This is being done at the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government," Thomas writes.

As a journalist who has written against the Iraqi wars, who has been shocked by the Patriot Act and who sees more of his property taken by various levels of ravenous government, and who believes that limited government was the original idea of our now perverted constitution, I was delighted by Thomas' words.

But isn't Dupont warning us that Thomas is part of a vast right wing conspiracy?

Sorry, Dupont, you obviously missed this part of the statement: "This was not about politics or party," Thomas explains, "as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in this country."

Well said, Tim Thomas. Oh, and one more thing before I shut down. The reason why the Duponts of this world can never understand an individual like Thomas is because, right or wrong, agree or not, he did what he did because he believed in something. Thomas would refuse to goose step even if everyone else in our leviathan world was goose stepping.

I would respect that, even if Thomas and I didn't share the same value: the love of liberty. That's right of the individual, as F.A. Hayek explains in the first sentence of The Constitution of Liberty, to go about his or her life with the maximum of liberty. And pace modern liberals, many of whom are de facto socialists, that also means economic liberty.

Thomas is a maverick. And J.S. Mill reminds us in On Liberty that the maverick serves society even when he's wrong!


When he's wrong he is still forcing us to think of why we believe in something. The maverick keeps our brains from going to sleep. That's something we sorely need in this Fahrenheit 451 age of endless television and cell phone calls. (Thanks for waking up some people out of their mental slumbers, Tim Thomas. But cuidado, senor. Some people would prefer to sleep forever until republican virtue and limited government are dead letters!)

And then there is another point to consider from On Liberty. Maybe, just maybe, the maverick is right and rest of us are wrong. Thankfully truth is not based on majority votes.

Ultimately, Thomas, taking Polonius' counsel in Hamlet, made the right choice because he was true to himself. It's all right there at the end of Thomas' magnificent little statement: "This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL."

The hockey player Tim Thomas will never create half the buzz or excitement of the great Robert Gordon Orr. Yet Tim Thomas will always be my favorite Bruin.

Tu Ne Cede Malis

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