Thursday, April 8, 2010


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Thursday, September 3, 2009


The methane bomb: is it happening right under our noses?

Regular listeners to this program will recall that I have passed on irregular warnings from global climate scientists about the 'clathrate burst theory' or the 'methane bomb.' The question is whether global warming is creating a situation in which, at a certain temperature threshold, billions of tons of methane, which had been locked in a stable state in permafrost and under the seas, will suddenly come tumbling out into the atmosphere, thereby warming the globe several degrees and raising planetary havoc.

I suppose "planetary havoc" is a rather mild choice of words when I'm talking about mass extinction, and my own demise along with yours. Forget the glaciers, like that NorthWest forest? It'll burn away in a year. That sort of change is what I'm on about here-- oh yeah, and then there's the displacement of oxygen to the point that anyone who couldn't breathe at sixteen thousand feet will have to --ah--stop that breathing business.

(thanks to Tyger for that reference)

Arctic warming triggering methane release, study reveals (excerpt)
Rising temperatures in the Arctic are triggering the release of methane from the seabed, according to new research by German and British scientists published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Quelle: Cordis

21.08.2009. During a research cruise in autumn 2008, the team discovered over 250 plumes of methane gas bubbling up from the seabed at depths of less than 400 metres off the coast of the Norwegian island Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean. The extent of the plumes came as a surprise to the researchers.

'Our survey was designed to work out how much methane might be released by future ocean warming; we did not expect to discover such strong evidence that this process has already started,' commented Professor Tim Minshull of the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton in the UK.

The methane is released from methane hydrates found in marine sediments on the sea floor. Methane hydrate is an ice-like substance made up of water and methane that is stable at high pressures and low temperatures. Researchers have predicted for some time that as ocean temperatures rise, methane will be released as methane hydrates become unstable at ever greater depths.

According to the researchers, 30 years ago methane hydrate was stable at depths of 360 metres. Today, it is only stable at depths of 400 metres.

On board the research ship RRS James Clark Ross, the team used sonar to detect plumes of bubbles, then deployed a water-bottle sampling system to pick up bubble samples from different depths.

In total they found over 250 plumes of methane at depths shallower than 400 metres; some plumes were even discovered in water shallower than 200 metres. The strength of the plumes varied widely; some of the plumes were so powerful that they came to within 50 metres of the water's surface before the gases dissolved into the water.

The researchers believe that some plumes may be strong enough to release methane directly into the atmosphere on occasion. As well as contributing to climate change, dissolved methane makes the ocean more acidic and reduces the amount of oxygen dissolved in the water, making it a serious threat to much marine life.

Over the past 30 years, the temperature of the stretch of ocean covered by this study rose by 1°C, moving the zone under which hydrates remain stable from a depth of around 360 metres to 396 metres.

'If this process becomes widespread along Arctic continental margins, tens of megatonnes of methane per year - equivalent to 5% to 10% of the total amount released globally by natural sources - could be released into the ocean,' said Graham Westbrook of the University of Birmingham in the UK.

The researchers are now carrying out further investigations of the newly discovered plumes. 'Further exploration of hydrate and monitoring of methane release are needed to quantify the likely magnitude of future emissions,' the scientists conclude.

The study is a contribution to the International Polar Year (IPY), which drew to a close earlier this year.

Warming waters release methane plumes into Arctic sea (excerpt)

24 August 2009, by Tom Marshall

Scientists have found more than 250 plumes of methane gas rising from the seabed near Svalbard in the Arctic Circle.

A paper in Geophysical Research Letters details the findings, made on an expedition in Autumn 2008 in the British research ship RRS James Clark Ross.

The team of scientists from Birmingham University, the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and Royal Holloway University think the gas is being released from methane hydrate beneath the seabed, which is melting because of warming waters above.

Similar gas plumes have been found elsewhere in places like the Black Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, but this is the first time scientists have found them in where the conditions for their occurrence can be clearly attributed to climate warming.

'Various people have predicted this for several years, and methane from hydrate beneath the sea bed has been strongly appealed to by scientists looking to explain past climate shifts,' says Professor Graham Westbrook, a geophysicist at Birmingham University. 'But this is first time anyone's discovered a situation where it actually seems to be happening now as a result of rising water temperatures,' he adds.

The gas plumes rise from the seabed between 150m and 400m deep, and can reach 50m from the surface before petering out. The team found them with a sonar system designed to track shoals of fish, and subsequently took water samples and measurements of temperature and salinity at different depths.

Methane hydrate is a solid material composed of water and methane. It forms at high pressures and low temperatures. 'Hydrate looks just like ice, but when you get it to the surface it begins to fizz - once you remove it from the stability zone it immediately starts breaking down to methane gas and water,' says Westbrook. 'You can even set light to it - you end up with what looks like a piece of ice in your hand, with flames coming from it.'

Normally hydrate exists only in what scientists call the gas hydrate stability zone, or GHSZ. This zone begins at the seabed and stretches down several hundred metres until the Earth's heat becomes too great for hydrate to form.

The West Spitsbergen current, which flows northward through the area, has warmed by 1°C over the last 30 years. Westbrook believes this has caused the top of the GHSZ to move deeper - it used to start around 360m beneath the seabed, and now it starts around 400m. Hydrate that was once in its upper reaches is now outside the GHSZ and hence has broken down, releasing methane.

If this happened across the Arctic, large amounts of methane could be released - Westbrook estimates that tens of teragrammes could escape every year.

If this methane reached the atmosphere, it could potentially contribute to climate change, leading to a vicious circle of more methane leading to higher temperatures, in turn melting more methane hydrates.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere more than 20 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. Indeed, some scientists have suggested increased release of methane from the seafloor could have been partly responsible for rapid changes in the ancient climate.

But Westbrook remains cautious about the methane's potential impact on the climate. Few of the gas bubbles even reach the surface, and in those that do much of the original methane has dissolved into the surrounding waters on the way up, to be replaced by nitrogen.


Under corporate rule, you and I are supposed to pretend that this is the natural order of things and that nothing can be done. Certainly, any sudden, massive effort will require a new tax structure, thereby undermining the hegemony of the super-rich--our rulers, like the four heirs of the Walmart fortune who each year receive over $70 billion stolen from the dreams, vitality, and wages of millions of low-wage workers. The four heirs would have to be taxed down to, say, a billion each, and their armies of lawyers, and for that matter their armies of armies, won't stand for that. We need a revolution to save this planet, so I guess it's a matter of whether you'd prefer to die fighting, or die on your knees fighting for breath.


Not so long ago there was a decision to invade Afghanistan. Others had done it before and failed miserably, but in this case the technology was vastly superior to anything the Afghans could lay their hands on. The goal was officially to restore the legitimate government, which had been taken over by whackos and thieves. But as it turned out the original invasion force wasn't sufficient to pacify the country, so additional troops had to be sent in.

The Western forces fought their way through the Bolan Pass, swept through Kandahar and conquered Kabul. Soon afterwards Atkinson was released from duty, thereby escaping the catastrophe which awaited his comrades. During the subsequent rebellion the British political agent was beheaded and an estimated 16,000 Western soldiers, and their dependents, every last one of them that is, were slaughtered in a week by the Afghans defense forces. The only Briton known to have escaped was Dr. William Brydon, though a few others were captured.

That was in the Eighteen-Forties. Has anything changed?

Officials: US to Add 14,000 Combat Troops in Afghanistan

Posted By Jason Ditz

In what seems to be just the latest move in the ongoing US escalation in Afghanistan, Pentagon officials have indicated that they intend to swap out 14,000 support troops in favor of another 14,000 combat troops, which they called “trigger pullers.”

The move comes just days after it was reported that General Stanley McChrystal is planning to ask for another 20,000 combat troops, but does not appear to be a consequence of that, as officials say McChrystal may still request additional combat forces on top of this sometime soon.

The 14,000 non-combat troops which are being “rotated out” for this plan also does not really mean the number of forces on the ground will remain static, as the official said most of them would likely be replaced by additional private contractors.

NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen says that regardless of how poorly August’s elections are perceived, the alliance remains committed to continuing and escalating the war as well. He did however say he hoped the election, despite widespread fraud and intimidation, would be considered “credible.”


(Considered credible by, say, the US corporate talking heads and the sheep they lead?)

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Right after today's show was broadcast, I found an article that says there was a sudden-cyanosis type death from H1n1 in Malaysia:

This is significant because, as you'll see from my swine flu story below, the big worry (and one that the CDC evidently shares) is that H1N1 (which is actually the Spanish Flu returned) may well do its Jekyll and Hyde transformation as in 1918. One important aspect of that transformation (possibly caused by "passaging," look it up) was that the lungs were attacked so rapidly that persons afflicted could not draw oxygen, and died turning dark blue, often within hours of symptoms appearing. This was a terrifying situation, as you can imagine, and at first the Spanish Flu was thought to be the Black Death.

And now, here's the rest of today's script:

Sometimes the surprise in the news is the absence of the expected. There have been no hurricanes and no substantial tropical storms in the Atlantic so far this year. What's up with that?

ZACH HOFFMAN writes in Disaster News Network:

So far the 2009 hurricane season has been slow to start but forecasters warn that we’re not in the clear just yet.

On Tuesday, for the second time this year, Phil Klotzbach and William Gray, of Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project, trimmed their predictions – but just by one tropical storm and one hurricane. They expect 10 tropical storms and predict at least four will become hurricanes.

“Over the last few years a slow season is not very typical; however, in the long-term, the idea of not having a storm show up until August is not unusual,” said Letro.

He recalled the hurricane events in 1983, “There were only four named storms the whole year, and the first storm didn’t show up until August 15.”

“You would assume that was a real quiet year, but you wouldn’t want to tell that to the people in Galveston and Houston, Texas.”

The first storm to appear that year was hurricane Alicia; it drifted slowly over the western end of Galveston Island spawning 23 reported tornadoes and causing tremendous damage to the Gulf Coast.

For 2009, the Weather Research Center (WRC) in Houston forecasts at least seven named storms in the Atlantic Basin with four of these tropical storms intensifying into hurricanes.

“WRC’s Hurricane Orbital Cyclone Strike Index gives the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama the highest chance of experiencing a tropical storm or hurricane this summer,” according to forecasters.

"Louisiana is no stranger to hurricane activity; in 2008, hurricane Gustav made landfall over Louisiana causing over $20 million in damages, then just a short time later Ike re-flooded the areas beginning the recovery process from Gustav.

"Faith-based organizations like Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) are still looking for volunteers to aid in long-term rebuilding efforts for last year’s hurricanes in Louisiana and Mississippi, and even from Katrina in 2005.

“We are using this time to make preparations for what we are being told is going to be a fairly normal hurricane season once it gets here,” said John Robinson of PDA. “What we have seen previously is that late hurricanes catch people off guard.”
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, currently on his “Louisisana Working Tour” to promote economic development and job creation in the state, has been awarding grants to individual parishes that will go towards hurricane recovery efforts, hazard mitigation and infrastructure improvements.

“After Gustav and Ike struck, we rejected the idea of creating yet another process filled with bureaucracy to distribute hurricane recovery funds. We’re helping to expedite the rebuilding process by distributing funds to parishes so that officials on the ground can make their own decisions about how best to rebuild and prepare for future storms,” Jindal said.

"Chief Long-Range and Hurricane Forecaster Joe Bastardi of the Hurricane Center holds a different forecast for this season. "Anywhere along the United States coast is susceptible to an impact, but the Texas coast early in the season and East Coast from Carolinas northward during the heart of the season are areas that have us worried," he said.

"Bastardi points to several factors lowering the overall number of storms; a developing El Niño in the Pacific ocean could have a suppressing effect on the Atlantic activity, strong easterly trade winds across northern Africa will introduce dry air into the Atlantic inhibiting hurricane formation, and cooler water temperatures in the tropics tends to reduce hurricane activity and intensity.

“Tropical storms by nature are creatures of heat,” ....[snip]

Meanwhile solar energy hasn't been up to snuff, either. Scientists who study the sun expected more sunspots by now, but they aren't forthcoming as of the last 24 days or so. As a matter of fact, as of the last information I have, there are no sunspots at all right now. This is surely good news for anyone who hoped for more time to deal with human-induced global warming, but there's no guarantee it will continue. Would a goodly round of sunspots whip up some hurricanes, or is the heating period longer than that for such events? I don't know, but I have noted some very high water temperatures along the US Gulf Coast, so any storm that brews there long enough will surely pack a punch.


John Bolton fulminates for war in the Wall Street Journal.

--Yes, this is THE John Bolton who used to shoot his mouth off so badly that he repeatedly embarrassed even the Bush Junior Administration, and had to be forced from his comfy leather chair at the UN. He wrote:

"The public outcome of Mr. Gates's visit appeared polite but inconclusive. Yet Iran's progress with nuclear weapons and air defenses means Israel's military option is declining over time. It will have to make a decision soon, and it will be no surprise if Israel strikes by year's end.
Israel's choice could determine whether Iran obtains nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future."

Note that Bolton can breezily insert the phrase "military option" as if the world or the UN charter legitimized wars of aggression. And make no mistake that he is talking about a war of aggression, instigated by Israel and funded and logistically backed up by the United States. The "pre-emptive war" excuse is what got us into Baghdad, and for that matter it got Germany into Poland. It was never acceptable to rational people. But I would not accuse John Bolton of being a rational person. Bolton knows his war propaganda, though, so he tags on the long-discredited ruse that Iran's nuclear program is for war. We're supposed to forget the the IAEA has found no evidence of bomb-making.

Bolton seems worried that Israel might feel hampered in its desire for war. He also writes:

"Beyond that, Mr. Obama's [Iran] negotiation strategy faces insuperable time pressure. French President Nicolas Sarkozy proclaimed that Iran must re-start negotiations with the West by September's G-20 summit. But this means little when, with each passing day, Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile laboratories, production facilities and military bases are all churning. Israel is focused on these facts, not the illusion of "tough" diplomacy."

Terrifying, isn't it? Never mind that Israel's war machine has been churning indeed, stockpiling bunker-buster weapons and even practicing air maneuvers over the Nevada desert. Never mind that the nuclear reactor at Dimona has produced hundreds of deliverable nuclear weapons, now mounted on Israeli missiles, F-16s, Dolphin submarines, and who knows where else.

There's something more here that never gets mentioned. The imperial powers never shared oil refinery technology with Iran, because like all post-colonial economies, it was expected to produce raw product at or below cost, so that Western corporations could profit by adding value to the product. It's the same deal from Albania to Zanzibar. Iran has made terrific strides in technology lately, for example launching their first satellites into orbit. It's only a matter of time before they start refining their own oil, and then where will the multinational corporate profits come from? What would keep them from competing eventually with a wide range of Israeli and US products, including war weaponry? That's the real issue here. Iran could not hope to threaten Israel with nuclear destruction, because the game is already set, and they pray to god every day that no nuclear weapon goes off in the US or Israel, because they know they would then suffer complete destruction.

Bolton asks in the WSJ article " will Iran be tamed?" Bolton is the kind of jerk that is comfortable speaking of whole nations of people as if they were animals. One tames animals, not people, of course. He ends the article:

"Striking Iran's nuclear program will not be precipitous or poorly thought out. Israel's attack, if it happens, will have followed enormously difficult deliberation over terrible imponderables, and years of patiently waiting on innumerable failed diplomatic efforts. Absent Israeli action, prepare for a nuclear Iran."

So you see, the poor things have been forced into war! Forced, I tell you!

The monster has spoken: war is acceptable and probable. Sit back and watch it on the news. And don't you dare protest, unless you want a file with the US military:

By Amy Goodman (also reported yesterday on Democracy Now)

"Anti-war activists in Olympia, Wash., have exposed Army spying and infiltration of their groups, as well as intelligence gathering by the Air Force, the federal Capitol Police and the Coast Guard.

"The infiltration appears to be in direct violation of the Posse Comitatus Act preventing U.S. military deployment for domestic law enforcement and may strengthen congressional demands for a full-scale investigation of U.S. intelligence activities, like the Church Committee hearings of the 1970s.

" Brendan Maslauskas Dunn asked the city of Olympia for documents or e-mails about communications between the Olympia police and the military relating to anarchists, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) or the Industrial Workers of the World (Dunn's union). Dunn received hundreds of documents. One e-mail contained reference to a "John J. Towery II," who activists discovered was the same person as their fellow activist "John Jacob." [snip]

[Note: Jenka Soderberg of KBOO Evening News first broke this story worldwide. Go Jenka!]

I was just kidding about not protesting, by the way. The whole idea of this sort of infiltration is to undermine dissent by injecting fear into the activist community. There are far too many of us to effectively track, so feel free and easy joining or creating a protest group. Few things are more fun, and of course it's healthy and might eventually contribute to an outbreak of freedom, equality, liberty and democracy. That would be nice to see. Then when you travel, you can honestly point out that you've been trying to stop US imperial war policies.


Debka, the warmongering militarist Israeli site, had the following to say about the US envoys' trip to Israel last week:
.... secretary of state Hillary Clinton broadcast to Tehran Sunday, July 28, over NBC: "... if you're pursuing nuclear weapons for the purpose of intimidating, or projecting your power, we are not going to let that happen," she said. "Your pursuit is futile. We believe as a matter of policy it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons." [end]

This is the Clinton who campaigned for President saying that she would nuke Iran if need be. So the meaning of "unacceptable" has already been made clear to the Persians. Meanwhile she has nothing to say about Israel's rogue stash of nuclear weapons, created without IAEA oversight by diverting fuel from the Dimona reactor complex, and poised to destroy the region.


The following is an excerpt of a CDC news release:

CDC Advisors Make Recommendations for Use of Vaccine Against Novel H1N1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met [...last week] to make recommendations for use of vaccine against novel influenza A (H1N1).

The committee met to develop recommendations on who should receive vaccine against novel influenza A (H1N1) when it becomes available, and to determine which groups of the population should be prioritized if the vaccine is initially available in extremely limited quantities.

The committee recommended the vaccination efforts focus on five key populations. Vaccination efforts are designed to help reduce the impact and spread of novel H1N1. The key populations include those who are at higher risk of disease or complications, those who are likely to come in contact with novel H1N1, and those who could infect young infants. When vaccine is first available, the committee recommended that programs and providers try to vaccinate:

* pregnant women,

* people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,

* health care and emergency services personnel,

* persons between the ages of 6 months through 24 years of age, and

* people from ages 25 through 64 years who are at higher risk for novel H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

The groups listed above total approximately 159 million people in the United States.

The committee does not expect that there will be a shortage of novel H1N1 vaccine, but availability and demand can be unpredictable. There is some possibility that initially the vaccine will be available in limited quantities. In this setting, the committee recommended that the following groups receive the vaccine before others:

* pregnant women,

* people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,

* health care and emergency services personnel with direct patient contact,

* children 6 months through 4 years of age, and

* children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions.

The committee recognized the need to assess supply and demand issues at the local level. The committee further recommended that once the demand for vaccine for these prioritized groups has been met at the local level, programs and providers should begin vaccinating everyone from ages 25 through 64 years. Current studies indicate the risk for infection among persons age 65 or older is less than the risk for younger age groups. Therefore, as vaccine supply and demand for vaccine among younger age groups is being met, programs and providers should offer vaccination to people over the age of 65.

The committee also stressed that people over the age of 65 receive the seasonal vaccine as soon as it is available. Even if novel H1N1 vaccine is initially only available in limited quantities, supply and availability will continue, so the committee stressed that programs and providers continue to vaccinate unimmunized patients and not keep vaccine in reserve for later administration of the second dose.

The novel H1N1 vaccine is not intended to replace the seasonal flu vaccine. It is intended to be used alongside seasonal flu vaccine to protect people. Seasonal flu and novel H1N1 vaccines may be administered on the same day.




Notice that the CDC post begins by saying that it does not anticipate a shortage of vaccine--and then states "there is some possibility that initially the vaccine will be available in limited quantities." Or in other words, there might be a shortage. And then it turns out that this shortage is evidently anticipated to be severe enough that they are issuing triage guidelines before the stuff is even available.

But wait, who cares, right? If H1N1 is milder than seasonal flu, as we've all been hearing, why worry so much? Why issue guidelines, as I just read--and incredibly, I might add--that everyone is to be vaccinated? We don't currently try to vaccinate everyone against seasonal flu. On the contrary, it's quite the casual thing, recommended for the aged or infirm, available if you want it and never mind if you don't, even if it does kill thirty thousand people per year.

There is in fact something else going on here: The swine flu is, in fact, pretty much the 1918 Spanish Influenza.

We know this because persons who survived the 1918 flu have antibodies to it and are immune. Yoshihiro Kawaok discovered this fact at the University of Wisconsin.

The influenza pathogen, in its various forms, has been referred to as a "mutant swarm" because one of its chief characteristic is its constant ability to mutate and change, to avoid immune system response. So it is highly unlikely that the current virus is anything but the Spanish Flu. The CDC knows this, and also knows that the Spanish Flu was present in the US in the summer preceding its disastrous Fall 1918 outbreak. They know that there is every possibility that a super-deadly outbreak may occur as soon as this Winter, killing millions. Remember that the 1918 Spanish Flu sometimes killed within 24 hours of first symptoms, destroying intestinal linings, ravaging the lungs so badly that secondary infection set in within one day. Twenty million died worldwide, and that was when the world population was much smaller. And this flu is already mutating so that Tamiflu does not affect it.

We no longer have, in the United States, sufficient hospital beds nor respirators to deal with a severe influenza outbreak. This is because excess capacity beds were long ago stripped away to reduce staffing and overhead costs, so that higher salaries and/or profits could be paid to the very rich.

And what effect does that have?,25197,25877367-23289,00.html

No bed for swine flu man on life support

Natasha Bita | August 04, 2009
Article from: The Australian

A SWINE flu patient on life support was flown 700km between four Queensland hospitals in search of a bed, forcing Queensland Health to apologise to the man's family yesterday for the medical milk run.

The 48-year-old man, attached to a ventilator to help him breathe, was flown from hospital in the north Queensland town of Atherton to Cairns hospital, but the intensive care unit was full.

The chopper then refuelled and flew the man south to Townsville, which was also full.

He was then transferred to a second helicopter so the first one could return to base. After four hours, the desperately ill man arrived at the Mackay hospital, where he remains in a stable yet critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Patients dangerously ill with swine flu are taking up one in five intensive care beds in Queensland, which has started cancelling elective surgery to cope with a peak in infections expected at the end of this month.

The nation's chief health officers will meet in Melbourne on Friday to decide who will get priority for immunisation once a vaccine becomes available in October. Swine flu has killed 67 Australians and landed 105 in intensive care.
I have written Congress about this and I urge you to do the same. Corporate health denial must die now, right now, and respirators, beds, and personnel must be brought into availability. If they are not needed for the swine flu, they will be needed for earthquake, bird flu, or some other calamity, and as we are not immune to history, we no longer can afford to act irrationally purely to benefit the owning class. Who has a greater right to live, a health denial corporation's profits, or you and your loved ones?

Ironically, a severe crisis would force the government to deal with health issues directly. Are you willing to die or go to a quarantine camp, to bring about socialized medicine in the US? Of course, that would be "socialized" as in militarized:

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, August 4, 2009

According to CNN, the Pentagon is "to establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, according to Defense Department officials."

"The proposal is awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The officials would not be identified because the proposal from U.S. Northern Command's Gen. Victor Renuart has not been approved by the secretary.

The plan calls for military task forces to work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is no final decision on how the military effort would be manned, but one source said it would likely include personnel from all branches of the military.

It has yet to be determined how many troops would be needed and whether they would come from the active duty or the National Guard and Reserve forces.

Civilian authorities would lead any relief efforts in the event of a major outbreak, the official said. The military, as they would for a natural disaster or other significant emergency situation, could provide support and fulfill any tasks that civilian authorities could not, such as air transport or testing of large numbers of viral samples from infected patients.

As a first step, Gates is being asked to sign a so-called "execution order" that would authorize the military to begin to conduct the detailed planning to execute the proposed plan.

Orders to deploy actual forces would be reviewed later, depending on how much of a health threat the flu poses this fall, the officials said." (CNN, Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak, July 2009, emphasis added)

The implications are far-reaching.

The decision points towards the militarization of civilian institutions, including law enforcement and public health.

A nationwide vaccination program is already planned for the Fall.

The pharmaceutical industry is slated to deliver 160 million vaccine doses by the Fall, enough doses to vaccinate more than half of America's population.

The Pentagon is already planning on the number of troops to be deployed,. with a view to supporting a mass vaccination program.

It is worth noting that this involvement of the military is not being decided by the President, but by the Secretary of Defense, which suggests that the Pentagon is, in a key issue of of national interest, overriding the President and Commander in Chief. The US Congress has not been consulted on the issue.

This decision to mobilise the Armed Forces in the vaccination campaign is taken in anticipation of a national emergency. Although no national emergency has been called, the presumption is that a national public health emergency will occur, using the WHO Level 6 Pandemic as a pretext and a justification.

Other countries, including Canada, the UK and France may follow suit, calling upon their Armed Forces to play a role in support of the H1N1 vaccination program.

Chussodovsky, however, is skeptical of the danger of swine flu and points out that it will be very profitable for pharmaceutical corporations:

"The Pandemic serves the interests of Big Pharma. The WHO is planning for the production of 4.9 billion dose, enough to inoculate a large share of the World's population. Big Pharma including Baxter, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca have signed procurement contracts with some 50 governments. (Reuters, July 16, 2009). For these companies, compulsory vaccination is a highly lucrative undertaking...."

For myself, whereas I consider it possible, given the proclivities of our secret police societies as revealed by the Anthrax non-investigation, and by earlier publications such as the Search for The
Manchurian Candidate by John D. Marks, that swine flu was resurrected and released in order to bring about wild profits under a fascist military crackdown, I also think that preparations need to be underway. This pandemic still retains the capacity to be a monster.

It has another monster waiting to help it along: our capitalist health-denial system.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The emergency we are faced with is corporate rule. We are ruled by multinational corporations.

Here are some of the symptoms:

The war industry keeps our legislatures like concubines. Contributions for just last year amount to nearly $24 million, and 59% of that went to Democrats. You know, the rational, liberal party that's going to get us out of the wars? That one. fifty-nine percent. and it works. In past years the lions' share went to the Republicans. It's not a matter of ideology. It's whoever is in power.

We have imperial bases in most nations; in many, our soldiers are despised for their violence and arrogance. A BBC report from last February is typical: "In the latest of a string of incidents involving US troops, the man is accused of raping a Filipino woman at a hotel.

"The alleged rape happened before a 24-hour curfew was imposed on US troops, their families and civilians working for the military on Okinawa. "....Another American serviceman is accused of rape on Okinawa, the second alleged incident in 10 days.

"The first complaint was made by a 14-year-old schoolgirl, the second by a woman from the Philippines who says she was attacked in a hotel. In the last few days another soldier was found drunk asleep on a sofa in a house he had broken into, while another was arrested for drunk-driving."

The BBC article has a certain familiarity to it. Move thousands of miles to the Koreas, and the story is the same. "According to the south Korean government's official statistics, 50,082 crimes were committed by US soldiers from 1967 to 1998 (including those by soldiers' families), and 56,904 US soldiers were involved (including soldiers' families) in these crimes. "

We don't call the war industry "the war industry." We call it "the defense industry." That's because it defends us against having to act lik reasonable people to the rest of the world. It defends itself against the change that the people desire. It defends the fortunes of the hyper-rich. It defends against liberty, equality, and compassion, and keeps us all in fear. Now we have two inexcusable wars of aggression and occupation, but at least we have the infotainment industry to keep us abreast of developments. For example, during one of the invasions of Iraq, Jay Leno made a joke about how old some US soldiers were, saying they could do the job, but might leave the left turn signal on the tank blinking all the way to Baghdad. Everyone laughed, remember? Then he told the one about so-called smart munitions, about the guy who found his wife's arm two blocks away, with her hand still holding the teapot. Remember that one? I don't either. That's because Jay Leno will never tell that joke. Actual war isn't funny, but propaganda is a laugh riot. NBC profits depend on that.

The emergency is corporate rule, the symptom is war.

Desperation and poverty are increasing. "The Real Unemployment Rate Hits a 68-Year High

Comparing the Bureau of Labor Statistics' “U-3” and “U-6” rates.

By John Miller

"Although you have to dig into the statistics to know it, unemployment in the United States is now worse than at any time since the end of the Great Depression.

"From December 2007, when the recession began, to May of this year, 6.0 million U.S. workers lost their jobs. The big three U.S. automakers are closing plants and letting white-collar workers go too. Chrysler, the worst off of the three, will lay off one-quarter of its workforce even if it survives. Heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar and giant banking conglomerate Citigroup have both laid off thousands of workers. Alcoa, the aluminum maker, has let workers go. Computer maker Dell and express shipper DHL have both canned many of their workers. Circuit City, the leading electronics retailer, went out of business, costing its 40,000 workers their jobs. Lawyers in large national firms are getting the ax. Even on Sesame Street, workers are losing their jobs.

"The official unemployment rate hit 9.4% in May-already as high as the peak unemployment rates in all but the 1982 recession, the worst since World War II. And topping the 1982 recession's peak rate of 10.8% is now distinctly possible. The current downturn has pushed up unemployment rates by more than any previous postwar recession ...."

The emergency is corporate rule, the symptom is mass unemployment.

Education is nearly inaccessible to the poor, and ignorance is the new normal. In an international measurement of quality of life, the US slipped from second in 1980 to fifteenth today.

"The American Human Development Index is calculated from measures of three dimensions:

• A long and healthy life is measured using life expectancy at birth, calculated from mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2005.

• Access to knowledge is measured using two indicators: school enrollment for the population age three and older, and educational degree attainment for the population twenty-five years and older. Both indicators are from the American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2005.

• Decent standard of living is measured using median earnings from the American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2005.

We're fifteenth. We're next to Turkey now.

The emergency is corporate rule, the symptom is misery.

Health care is inaccessible to unemployed and poor, and often inadequate even for the middle class. According to an article in the BBC:

"The American healthcare system is a paradox of excess and deprivation. The United States spends more money on medical care than other nation: $2.5tn in 2009, over $8,000 per person.

Yet 46 million Americans - 15% of the population - don't have any health insurance. They are disproportionately the working poor, often employed by small firms that cannot afford to offer healthcare coverage (most Americans under age 65 get health insurance from their employers). Even many insured Americans lack adequate protection against the financial risks of illness. Medical care is consequently a leading cause of bankruptcy in the US."

Ron Williams - Aetna

Total Compensation: $24,300,112

Details: Williams earned $24,300,112 in total compensation for 2008, with more than half of that ($13,537,365) coming from option awards. He also received an additional $6,456,630 in stock awards to go along with his base salary of $1,091,764.

Personal use of a corporate aircraft and vehicle, as well as financial planning and 401(k) company matches added up to $101,487 for Williams.

....H. Edward Hanway - CIGNA

Total Compensation: $12,236,740....

Angela Braly - WellPoint

Total Compensation: $9,844,212.......,-stay-calm-for-this

The emergency is corporate rule, the symptom is death.

It's really too bad about corporate health care denial. Too bad if you die from it. Too bad if you're born, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group studying the umbilical cords of newborn babies. The body burden pollution, the melange of pthalates,mercury, lead, flame retardants, biphenyls, polymers, et cetera, comes with the act of birth now.

EPW writes "Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied."

The emergency is corporate rule; the symptoms are: Forests destroyed, rivers polluted,Appalachia is a moonscape, our oceans are dying, the atmosphere is overheating, glaciers are melting.

The emergency is corporate rule; the symptom is an elected President who is a collaborationist with the Fascist state that brought us Guantanamo, shoeless airports, police who are feared by minorities, and deadly dangerous to all.

The emergency is corporate rule, the symptoms are: Prisons are overcrowded, 2.3 million in chains, 7 million are under probation, parole, or incarceration.

Trillions have been given away to the hyper-rich banker class, undermining the currency.

Habeas corpus has been lost, the 4th Amendment is lost.


Close all imperial bases, close Guantanamo

Cease fire and really withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan

Open the prisons, release the prisoners of our racist drug war. Institute corrections not revenge.

Minimum wage $15/hour, 36 hour work week, 6 weeks vacation,

Maximum allowed personal wealth $3 million per year, $3 million property

Outlaw rents and mortgages/guarantee land rights to all

Seize and reorganize all corporations over $1 million sales as cooperatives

Nationalize banks, seize offshore assets, guarantee work or pensions

Outlaw all coal production after one year

Create an emergency mobilization project to decentralize the power grid, add solar/wind/wave/geothermal power

Socialize medicine and higher education

Institute people's newspapers, journalists, and media, elect and pay staff from tax

Sunset gasoline and diesel transportation, implement $3/gallon tax

Cease all night contrail formation

Restore full habeas corpus rights, cease all torture, prosecute torturers and war schemers

Restore all human rights, instantly shut down factory farming

Start a Manhattan project to remediate pollutionand the toxic body burden

Mandate media election coverage, ban all election media sales



Vice President Joe Biden said today that Guantanamo Bay's anti-habeas-corpus prison would be shut down by next January. AFP and BBC report this quote:

"We are going through every single detainee's records... to make a judgement about whether or not they should be tried [or] ... released and if so, what country might take them if we can't get them back to the country of origin because they're going to be tortured or mistreated," he said.

Speaking during a trip to eastern Europe taking in Georgia and Ukraine, he added: "We expect before January -- well before January -- we will have a decision on each and every individual being held." The Catholic Worker reported that one boy of 13 years of age, arrested in Afghanistan in 2002, was held in solitary for more than a year at Bagram and Guantanamo, and made to stand in stress position and deprived of sleep. If you were listening to Democracy Now earlier this morning, you heard the following: "The Obama administration meanwhile is facing a Friday deadline on whether to continue jailing Guantanamo Bay prisoner Mohamed Jawad. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged Jawad's indefinite imprisonment, saying he's been abused, threatened, and deprived of sleep in US custody. The case has received further scrutiny because it's believed Jawad was jailed when he was twelve years old. Federal District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle has given the Justice Department until tomorrow to explain why Jawad should still be jailed. Huvelle called the government's current case “an outrage” and “riddled with holes.” [no excuse.]



THAILAND Flu toll rises to 44, with 6,776 infected


Published: 22/07/2009 at 12:32 PM

The swine flu death toll has more than doubled from 20 last week to 44, while the total number of confirmed A(H1N1) flu cases has rocketed to 6,776, the Public Health Ministry reported on Wednesday.

Health deputy permanent secretary Paichit Varachit said 6,697 patients had recovered. Thirty-five others remained in hospitals and seven of them were in critical condition.

Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai said he had instructed provincial governors, doctors and nurses nationwide to implement more stringent measures to curb the A(H1N1) flu outbreak.

"Provincial authorities need to educate people about the disease and ways to protect themselves from being infected so they do not panic," Dr Witthaya said.

Government officials and employees of state enterprises with flu-like symptoms can rest at home without having to get medical certificates, and they would not lose their holidays and other benefits, he said.

"Thailand's ranking in the number of swine flu cases and fatalities has not really risen to fourth place, as other countries have stopped reporting on the flu situation," the minister said.

He also expressed his concern for people who go to watch the friendly soccer match between Thailand and Liverpool on Wednesday evening. People with flu symptoms should definitely not go to the game, he said.


Intensive Care Beds Fill in New Zealand as Flu Hits (Update2)

By Jason Gale

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Intensive care units in some New Zealand hospitals are full and a spike in flu cases has prompted doctors to postpone non-essential surgery to ease pressure on medical services, the country's health ministry said.

Seventy-four people are hospitalized with the H1N1 pandemic virus, also known as swine flu, with 26 in intensive care, in the nation of 4.2 million people, the ministry said in a statement today.

New Zealand, suffering the worst influenza season in more than a decade, may be a harbinger for other countries that have yet to experience the pandemic virus during winter, when colder, drier weather favors transmission. Disease trackers are watching how the pandemic evolves during the Southern Hemisphere winter to gauge its impact in the U.S. and Europe.

“It's a salutary warning to other countries,” said Lance Jennings, a clinical virologist with Canterbury Health Laboratories in Christchurch. “It's certainly been a strain on resources.”

Shortages of equipment, including respiratory support units, have been localized, Jennings said. Even with the pressure from both pandemic and seasonal flu, the nation's health services “are coping well,” Health Minister Tony Ryall said. Hospitals, some of which have deferred elective surgeries, may come under more strain as the flu season worsens, he said.


KCNA Terms Story of "Chain Reaction" Hypocritical

Pyongyang, July 22 (KCNA) -- The U.S. is now spreading in the countries around the DPRK the rumor that "chain reaction" may occur in Japan and south Korea unless the DPRK's access to nukes is checked.

The rumor has it that the DPRK's access to nukes may prompt Japan and south Korea to go nuclear, fearful of its "threat".

It sounds plausible at first but one can easily guess this is a sheer speculation as it is a departure from a reality.

Humankind wishes to see a nuclear-free world.

Had countries vied with each other to have access to nukes because of nuclear threat there might have already appeared a great number of nuclear weapons states in the world.

When a country is exposed to very potential and serious nuclear threats and when it finds no other way to cope with them, it is compelled to have access to nukes as its last resort.


Thursday, July 2, 2009


Obama ambassadorships bought:

Bailout salary limit evaded:

Sachs behind crashes:

Ultra-rich doing just fine:

EPA global warming censorship fraud:

Sea ice melting:

Melting raises seas: 2009-07-02 16:07:52

Swine flu mutation escaping notice

Swine flu serious in Argentina

This is PressWatch, counterpropaganda and Left opinion on KBOO community multimedia. I'm Theresa Mitchell; join me for a brief peek behind the video veil, and an examination of the News You're Not Supposed To Know....

I've had an awesome vacation and now I'm back after two weeks' absence, which is a geologic era so far as radio is concerned, especially weekly radio. So I'll re-introduce myself. I am Theresa Mitchell, a transgendered woman, actually a hermaphrodite mutated by Lily Pharmaceutical's now-banned drug diethylstilbestrol. Pleased to meet you. I'm also an anarcho-socialist firebrand, and I come to you once per week to attempt to destroy the manufactured consensus that corporate media produces in order to keep us all in quiet, orderly, grateful lines to the factory farm slaughterhouse.

While I was away I did think about what changes were necessary to the program, and so I'm going to post my comments on the Web in a different way. This time, and subsequently, I'm going to have a little list at the top of the page, which will essentially be a list of topics, with each topic followed by a(n) URL link. So if you're wondering where the hell I get my ideas and facts, the answer will be right there on top, click and voila! --you're there. That is, unless my idea has come merely from the rusting pile of facts and memories in my aging brain, in which case you can use your favorite search engine or just decide what you will.

I hope to have working some time today, but failing that, you'll find the list of topics and links, followed by part of today's script, at .

If you ask yourself what it is you really want in health care-- I mean for yourself and for people you care about-- the answer is easy and simple. You want to be able to get medical care when you need it; nor would you deny health care to anyone. That's true for everyone. We all agree that it's cruel to withhold needed care; if someone comes to you with a bleeding cut, and you have a bandage, you give it to them. It's human nature.

We all know, too, that other, more civilized countries have health care. So we insist to our legislators, for decade after decade, that health care must be provided. Sometimes they make more noise in response to our request, and other times they ignore it, but the bottom line is always the same, the same answer: No. No, you can't have health care, America. The rich would be inconvenienced by it. And no, you're certainly not allowed to ask for "single payer" socialized medicine.

Why is this?

It's a free country, after all, as the saying goes, which is odd in view of the fact that this is the world's most imprisoned country, but you're free to participate in politics--and on an equal basis, at that. Your dollar contributed to a politician's media election fund goes just as far as each of the other half-million dollars contributed in bundle by a rich person, and your voice is therefore proportionately considered. One million votes for two rich people, and fifty votes for you and your spouse. Perfectly reasonable, no? Would we expect any rational media-buying politician to act otherwise? They wouldn't get elected if they did. (Of course, some say that media should be forced to run free election ads, and that money should be banned from politics. Those radicals!)

Meanwhile, in the Land of the Free, you can get whatever you want with a half-million dollar contribution, and for that matter, you can stop any group of people from getting what they want, if it goes against your money. Why stop at preserving your health insurance stock investments? Why not leave it all behind, and find yourself a fabulous lifestyle in a foreign country, say as a real Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for the United States of America? Buying ambassadorships is a long American tradition, and it's become even more common since Reagan. According to

"...[President] Obama, to date, has nominated 50 individuals for ambassadorships. Of these, 19 have been career officers in the Foreign Service, 26 have given money to political candidates and five are not career diplomats but nor do they have known histories of campaign contributions.

"These 26 individuals, along with their immediate family members, have contributed roughly $3 million to federal candidates, committees and parties since 1989, with 92 percent of that going to Democrats — including more than $139,800 to Obama and $43,100 to former Sen. Hillary Clinton, who now heads the State Department.

"Sixteen of them are also responsible for bundling at least $5 million to Obama's campaign committee and at least $500,000 to the campaign of Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain. Additionally, according to Public Citizen's records, eight of these bundlers also directed at least $1.78 million toward his inaugural committee."

For example:
"Bruce J. Oreck, [nominated] for ambassador to Finland. Oreck, a lawyer who previously served as general counsel and vice president of his family's famous vacuum company, bundled more than $500,000 to Obama's presidential campaign. He and his wife, Charlotte, also bundled another $75,000 Obama's inauguration. (Existing disclosure requirements for inauguration bundlers don't make it clear whether that includes his personal contribution of $50,000.) Along with his wife and children, he has contributed $261,550 to federal Democratic candidates, parties and committees since 1989. That includes $9,200 to Obama and $1,000 to Hillary Clinton last cycle.

(more at )

But it's not fair to say that the ultra-rich are simply buying whatever items they want on the Washington menu. Not fair at all. In fact, the situation is far worse than that--they've been buying whatever they want for so long that the waiters--excuse mean, I mean the elected representatives, Senators, President, and appointees--rush to the table with an eager smile, and a little white towel, and know without being told exactly how to act. Take this whole business of executive pay caps--you didn't really think that the ultra-rich were going to let you, the stingy know-nothing tax payer, get away with limiting their annual bonus to half a million dollars, did you? Oh, sure, you can whine away about it being your tax money being used in a bailout, and that you intended it to stimulate the economy not line their pockets when they're obviously failing in their jobs, yada yada yada. God, you little people can be annoying. But rest assured it's not going to happen.
From an article in Too Much online by Sam Pizzigati :

"Geithner’s new directives essentially erase the executive pay cap President Obama announced in February. Geithner's new rules, in effect, turn that $500,000 maximum into a minimum.
Under these rules, a new federal pay czar will “automatically approve” any pay package the nation’s most troubled enterprises dish out that doesn’t top half a million."

In the same article, we read:

"How high above this half million can these pay packages now go? The original White House $500,000 cap on cash compensation did allow execs to collect additional stock awards, on an unlimited basis, so long as they didn’t cash those awards out until their firms had paid back their bailouts.

"But the bonus restriction that Congress then passed — limiting bonuses to one-third of total pay — effectively placed a lid on these additional awards at $250,000, a figure that would translate into one-third of total pay if cash compensation were limited to $500,000.

"The new regs Geithner released last week knock this lid off. They turn full responsibility for executive pay at firms now getting “exceptional assistance” — a group that now includes AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, Chrysler, GM, GMAC, and Chrysler Financial — over to a new pay czar, Washington superlawyer Kenneth Feinberg.

"Feinberg, for his part, spent last week reassuring Wall Street how reasonable his pay judgments will be. He even urged reporters not to call him a “czar.”

“It makes it sound as if my goal is to impose certain restrictions on the private marketplace,” Feinberg explained, “whereas I am much more interested in working with these companies.”

But surely this confindence is justified! From Raw Story today:

Rolling Stone expose: Goldman Sachs behind every market crash since 1920s

Goldman Sachs has played a crucial role in creating every market bubble since the 1920s -- and has profited from not only the bubbles, but from the crash that followed as well, says a new expose in Rolling Stone magazine.

An article in the July 9-23 issue of the magazine, written by Matt Taibbi, lists five asset bubbles that the 140-year-old investment bank helped create -- and one that Taibbi asserts the firm is currently working to make happen.

The five bubbles the article says Goldman was central to creating are the Wall Street stock bubble in the 1920s, which led to the Great Depression; the tech-stock bubble of the late 1990s, which ended in the 2001 recession; the housing bubble of the past decade, which resulted in the current economic crisis; the oil price run-up last summer, when oil shot up to $140 a barrel, likely helping tilt the entire world into recession; and what Taibbi describes as "rigging the bailout," when Goldman Sachs' well-placed alumni inside the U.S. government engineered last fall's bank bailout in such a way that the company profited massively.

But wait a minute, am I being to harsh on the ultra-rich? Didn't they take it hard in the stock crash? Not according to Pizzigati:

"The world’s high net worth individuals turn out to have ended 2008 with $32.8 trillion in wealth, not much less than the $33.4 trillion they held at the end of 2005. In other words, 2008’s great meltdown cost the world’s wealthy the gains they registered in 2006 and 2007 — and nothing more.

"These wealthy, especially those individuals who fall into the World Wealth Report “ultra” high net worth category, continue to hold a stunningly disproportionate share of the world’s wealth.

"About 80,000 individuals worldwide qualify as ultras. These super rich make up roughly 0.001 percent of the world’s population. They hold, even after the 2008 economic collapse, 10 percent of our planet’s entire wealth.

"These wealthy, to be sure, did “scale back” some on their personal spending in 2008. In the United States, home to 28.7 percent of the world’s high net worth individuals, fine art auction sales totaled only $2.9 billion in 2009, “down $1 billion from 2007,” the new World Wealth Report relates, and U.S. sales of Lamborghini luxury cars dropped 21 percent last year.

"But the amount of cash sloshing in wealthy pockets, meltdown notwithstanding, remains enormous. In December 2008, the new World Wealth Report observes, one historic diamond gaveled off in London for $24.3 million, “the highest price for any diamond or jewel ever sold at auction.”


Remember when the head of NASA was officially silenced by the Bush Administration, so that he could not talk about global climate change from a scientific perspective? Evidently someone in the corporate Right's propaganda mill does, because they've been trying to create an opposite story to stick in your ear.

By Zachary Roth - July 1, 2009, 8:43AM
"Conservatives are jumping up and down over a report by an EPA analyst expressing skepticism about climate change, which, they claim, was suppressed by agency brass because it didn't conform to Obama administration orthodoxy on global warming. The story has sparked explosive claims, on Fox News and other right-wing outlets, that the EPA censored scientific data for political reasons. And Monday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) called for an outright criminal investigation into the matter.

"But [Roth writes,] it's hard to blame EPA for not paying much attention to the study. And it's more than a little ironic that DC Republicans have chosen its author as their new standard-bearer in the defense of pure science against politics. Because the author, EPA veteran Al Carlin, is an economist, not a climate scientist. EPA says no one at the agency solicited the report. And Carlin appears to have taken up the global warming topic largely as a hobby on his own time. In fact, a NASA climatologist has called the report -- whose existence was first publicized last week by the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) -- "a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at."

The question is, may we please have some serious action against the devastation promised by global climate change? And the answer is No. Raising this question has alerted your handlers that there is some agitation en route to the slaughterhouse platform, and so you are being goaded with the ideological cattle pod. Git along there, little dawgies, nothing to see here. Unless it's this:
"A reconstruction of sea ice reveals the lowest levels in 800 years, according to new research published in the journal Climate Dynamics.

"Researchers modeled sea ice levels between Greenland and Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of Europe, from the 13th century to present using data from a natural climate "archive" and from historic human records.

"We have combined information about the climate found in ice cores from an ice cap on Svalbard and from the annual growth rings of trees in Finland and this gave us a curve of the past climate," Aslak Grinsted said in a press release. Grinsted is a geophysicist with the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. "We see that the sea ice is shrinking to a level which has not been seen in more than 800 years."

"The scientists also combed through harbor records and logbooks of ships that traveled the area to record human observation of sea ice levels. Then they pieced together a picture of how much sea ice has existed through this time period.

"Sea ice melting and re-freezing is a complicated process that is influenced by a number of factors such as wind patterns, ocean currents, and how much ice has frozen or melted in recent years. The authors did not point to any causes for the changes in sea ice levels in their study.

"The scientists noted that even though the 13th century was a relatively warm period and ice levels were low then, 20th century sea ice levels are still the lowest. The "Little Ice Age," from 1700 to 1800 had the greatest cover of sea ice, according to their data.

"Other studies have found that Arctic ice is getting thinner over time, so that when the normal summer melt occurs, the entire polar cap is retreating compared to decades past. Last year, this melting opened up the fabled Northwest Passage, as a substantial amount of older ice melted. Climate scientists say the North Pole could be ice-free during summer within a few decades.

--Aaaaand what effect might that have?

NZ scientist warns of Antarctic ice melt, sea rise 2009-07-02 16:07:52 Print

WELLINGTON, July 2 (Xinhua) -- A New Zealand scientist warned on Thursday of rising sea levels due to Antarctic ice melt.

Tim Naish said new evidence showed that changes to Antarctica's most vulnerable element, the West Antarctic ice sheet, could raise global sea levels by up to 5 metres (16 feet).

The Director of Victoria University's Antarctic Research Centre will present this new evidence at his inaugural professorial lecture on July 7 at Victoria University.

"Polar ice sheets have grown and collapsed at least 40 times over the past 5 million years, causing major sea-level fluctuations," he said in a media release. "The most recent ' interglacial' has lasted 10,000 years, during which time global sea-level and atmospheric temperatures have remained more or less constant, and human civilisation has flourished."

Professor Naish said much of his research has focused on the international drilling program in the sedimentary layers of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

"Evidence shows that this sheet is expected to melt first, along with Greenland. West Antarctica sits below sea level, so as the ocean warms, the ice sheet also warms. ... [....]

Here's the latest on the swine flu pandemic from Dr. Henry Niman:

...[A] patient ...[in Denmark has] developed a pandemic H1N1 infection while taking a prophylactic dose of oseltamivir (Tamiflu). The [reported lapse of] five days suggests the patient was infected after her contact, who was infected overseas, returned. The patient was given Tamiflu because of her infected contact, and developed flu-like symptoms while taking Tamiflu, which led to the isolation of the virus and sequence data (generated in Denmark and England), showing [that her infection had developed] resistance ...[to Tamiflu]).

The ... [foreign press] description [of the infection incident] made no mention of [the existence of] an isolate from the patient who traveled overseas, and no indication that an isolate was collected. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a wild type sequence from the overseas traveler or the patient with resistant H1N1 exists. This absence was also signaled by statements from Roche and other agencies who used the qualifiers of "appears" and "probably" when describing the development of resistance, because there is no evidence that resistance developed in the patient in Denmark.

A more likely scenario involves the silent spread of oseltamivir resistant H1N1. Denmark, like most countries in Europe, has focused on detection of H1N1 in travelers and contacts. Consequently, the number of H1N1 positive cases has been low.
The publicity associated with the Danish case will likely lead to more isolates and more sequences, and the explosion of cases in England may lead to a more serious approach toward testing for community spread in European countries like Denmark, which are focused on airport travelers and contacts.
Airport screening will only detect a small subset of infected patients, because those infected shortly prior to travel will not yet have symptoms, and about 30% of infected patients don't develop a high fever. Moreover, others take medication for flu-like symptoms, which lowers fevers. Thus, infected patients have been flying into these countries undetected for months, and community spread is significant, but not reported because of a lack of testing.

The detection of H274Y in pandemic H1N1 has parallels with H274Y in seasonal H1N1. The resistance was widely reported in early 2008 in Norway, but subsequent testing demonstrated that the resistance was widespread in the fall of 2007 and had silently circulated for months prior to detection. The limited number of NA sequences for most countries outside of North America allows for a repeat of [the] silent spread of Tamiflu resistant pandemic H1N1 at this time. [....]

Buenos Aires (AFP) - the number of dead by h1n1 influenza in Argentina has registered a great increase in the last five days, elevating from 26 to 43 , according to the minister of Health, Juan Manzur. " Between 43 and 44 deaths" , Manzur responded, referring to the swine influenza in this South American country, where official data had not been reported on the evolution of the disease from the past Friday. With this number, Argentina is the third country of the world in number of died by pig influenza, behind the United States and Mexico. The situation by the pig influenza is serious, diffícult" , the civil servant said, and warned that " we are attending a curve that still is in ascension" , in relation to the austral winter period and the seasonal increase of the influenza and the respiratory diseases. In its first contact with the press, Manzur announced a series of measures, among them, the creation of a special account in the scope of the ministry of Health with an allocation of 1,000 million pesos (263.1 million dollars) to fortify the sanitary structure in all the country. The civil servant anticipated in addition the decision to protect vulnerable social groups, like pregnant women, and informed that they will be able to ask for a preventive license in his works as of this Thursday and by a lapse of 15 days. Mazur summoned to the sectors of the health public, deprived and of union social works to face the pandemic and explained that any patient who enters a state hospital and needs internment, could be derived to any private hospital, and the cost will be confronted by the State. Before the advance of the epidemic, the provincial cities presented/displayed during the day an almost total paralysis and 17 of the 24 districts of the country advanced receso winter student they extended and it until July end. The governments of the Argentine capital and the province of Buenos Aires (center-this), the majors districts with almost 18 million inhabitants and where the greater amount of deaths was concentrated, declared the sanitary emergency. The Buenosairean provincial government announced the call to 2,000 professionals of the health, even retired and advanced Medicine students, to contain the increase of the demand for services. " We have a 40% of absenteeism within the system of health due to the contagion by A" influenza; , it said the minister of Buenosairean Health, Claudius Zin. ....

(breaking) --biggest US operations since Fallujah

Thursday, April 30, 2009


The outbreak of H1N1 recombinant influenza seems to have inspired quite a range of emotion, from racist rants by Michelle Malkin and Michael Savage( against Mexican immigrants, to disturbing theories of artificial origin ( and a hilarious send-up by John Stewart. Leftists seem to have their own brand of sneering dismissal.
The question is whether the current situation has the potential to cause widespread misery and death, and it is a little comparable to having been shot in the leg by an unknown assailant; although it is very relevant to ask who has perpetrated the crime, the first thing to do is to take action to save one's life, to stop the bleeding and call an ambulance. In order to develop a political and historic analysis of the flu outbreak, it is necessary to look at global, journalistic, and scientific sources, as well as comprehensive examinations like John M. Barry's book The Great Influenza. By coincidence, if you believe in that sort of thing, I picked up a copy of that book this February, purely out of curiosity. The account it tells of the 1918 outbreak is quite disturbing.

Here is a quote:
"No medicine and none of the vaccines developed then could prevent influenza. The masks worn by millions were useless as designed and could not prevent influenza. Only preventing exposure to the virus could Nothing today can cure influenza, though vaccines can provide significant--but nowhere near complete--protection, and several antiviral drugs can mitigate its severity."
John Barry also wrote: "...the closing orders that most cities issued could not prevent exposure; they were not extreme enough. Closing saloons and theaters and churches meant nothing if significant numbers of people continued to climb onto streetcars, continued to go to work, continued to go to the grocer. Even where fear closed down businesses, where both store owners and customers refused to stand face-to-face and left orders on sidewalks, there was still too much interaction to break the chain of infection."

Consider that, and consider the photographs in the news of people going about Mexico City with their face masks. They have been closing schools and stadiums too, and it is clear that if the virus is contagious enough, if it is like the 1918 virus in that regard, they will ultimately gain little from these precautions, and neither will we. We can wash our hands until the cows come home, and a sufficiently transmissible virus will still find its way into our bodies. The advice is to wear a mask and to avoid touching the eyes and mouth--but if you really think you can avoid touching your eyes unconsciously, try putting habanero pepper juice on your fingers, letting it dry, and try to go for eight hours without touching your eyes. You will touch your eyes. So, again, the question is whether the pandemic is likely to turn deadly.

The issue here is not how many people have died so far--a small number indeed compared to the world population or even to annual flu deaths--but rather what sort of process has been set into place. The experts are not sanguine.

NYT/Denise Grady 4/29/09

"A global swine-flu pandemic is likely, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday as it raised its alert level to Phase 5, the next-to-highest level in the worldwide warning system.

Phase 5 never has been declared before. Phase 6 means a pandemic is under way. WHO said its decision was based on the continuing spread of swine flu in the United States and Mexico, particularly the increasing numbers of unexplained cases."

What details can be gleaned from research scientists?

The following information is gleaned from a partial transcript I made last night from an interview on WPXI with Dr. Henry Niman, who holds a medical Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, and has worked with the prestigious Scripps Clinic, and also at the University of Pittsburgh and with Harvard University research teams.

In the WPXI interview earlier this week, Dr. Henry Niman pointed out that an influenza virus markedly similar to the current outbreak in its transmissibility, timing, and immune-refractory characteristics left 20-50 million people dead in 1918, at a time when the World population was a third of today's. A third of world's population was infected at that time, he said. If--and he points out that this is a big if--if it follows the 1918 pattern, it could 'kind of disappear,' or rather become less threatening over the Summer, and then reappear with greater violence this Fall. Adding to the list of 1918 similarities, Niman points out that most of the influenza deaths in Mexico are in a tight age group, 25-44 year olds.

Existing vaccines won't work, Niman says. An effort to produce a new vaccine will now get under way. The fact that there are few fatalities in the US at this time is probably a timing issue, he says; there would be a similar level of deaths if the number of infected persons rises to levels currently seen in Mexico. Within a month, the US flu-tracking map will "be covered in dots."

[This would seem to be echoed by a doctor in Mexico, Justino Regalado Pineda, an epidemiologist with the Health Ministry, who was cited in the Washington Post today:

"He speculated that one reason people have died in Mexico as opposed to the United States is that the life span of the virus could have been longer in Mexico. "]

Whereas the state of the pandemic is still mild even in Mexico, the number of actual cases, Dr. Niman says, are likely 10 or 100 times the reported number; most of these persons will experience a "mild course" similar to seasonal flu, because of the initial nature of the virus.

Counteractants will include tamiflu, an antiviral drug; however, Niman said, influenza generally is already resistant to one such drug, amantadine. He said seasonal flu is already resistant to tamiflu, so as the flu interacts with victims(recombines), there is a "good chance that that resistance will transfer to the swine virus" on the N gene; hence virus emerging in Fall might be resistant to Tamiflu.

It is still early in the pandemic process, so there is no guarantee that the disease will ebb in the Summer. Niman noted ruefully that there has been an announcement that testing is to stop on milder cases, to concentrate on severe symptoms. The new recombinant flu is widespread, Niman said; in the next week or two most cases will be from those "returned from Mexico," but that will change. An intensive vaccine effort will ensue, along with a "major effort" to monitor the virus; there will be no border closings, however, because the virus has already moved about --[as President Obama said last night].

The risk group for fatalities will be healthy adults, because of the "robust immune response.... that ends up killing the patient," similar to 1918. Commenting on the general threat level of the virus, Niman said that it is still early, and the virus might not sustain itself --but the number of people infected in Mexico militates against that forecast. He pointed out that earlier this week, one or two dozen students returned to the US who had gone to Mexico; days later, 150 were infected, 45 confirmed, and now parents are infected.

There is a lot more surveillance now than in 1918, Niman noted, so we can see the pandemic unfold at its early stages; but it is unlikely the virus will burn itself out, paradoxically because it is mild at this point, and is not eliminating the population. "People have a tendency to go to work, go to school, take public transportation," he said, thereby providing the opportunity for the disease to spread.

See or for the video URL of the interview.

Niman's comments on the similarities with 1918 may be borne out by breaking reports, such as this one from El Manana Nacional (and several other sources) in Mexico City:

One 24-year-old man started with a stomach ache and chills; he was initially treated by a private doctor, but the situation rapidly grew worse, and by the time he was taken to the hospital he was unconscious and having difficulty breathing. He died; "it began with cough and temperatures of 39 (102.2F) degrees, pain in the throat, diarrhea, vomiting, discomfort, and nausea."

This would be further underlined by a report in the Washington Post today (4/30/09), which said in part:

"Most of the fatal cases involved extensive lung damage, requiring doctors to prescribe mechanical breathing assistance. Exactly what caused the lung damage is not known."

The influenza outbreak in Mexico has been associated with numerous cases of "atypical pneumonia" although specifics seem to be hard to come by so far ( John M. Barry wrote in his NYT bestselling book The Great Influenza [pp. 242-243] "It was the lungs that had attracted attention from pathologists first. Physicians and pathologists had many times seen lungs of those dead of pneumonia. Many of the deaths from influenzal pneumonia did look like these normal pneumonias. And the later in the epidemic a victim died, the higher was the percentage of autopsy findings that resembled normal pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia.

Those who died very quickly, a day or less after the first symptoms, however, most likely died of an overwhelming and massive invasion of the virus itself. The virus destroyed enough cells in the lung to block the exchange of oxygen. This alone was unusual and puzzling. But the lungs of the men and women who died two days, three days, four days after the first symptom of influenza bore no resemblance to normal pneumonias at all. They were more unusual, more puzzling."

Note, then, this report of a rapid death from the Las Cruces Sun/News, New Mexico, by Ashley Meeks, seeming to bear out Niman's warning already:

April 29th 2009

"LAS CRUCES - A 6-year-old student in Las Cruces died Tuesday afternoon after being sent home from school sick that day with nausea and a fever, according to the Doña Ana Sheriff's Office.

By Friday, preliminary autopsy results should determine whether Columbia Elementary School first-grader Cody Scarborough had contracted swine flu, said Sgt. Joe Reynaud, who said the death had originally seemed to be caused by a heart attack.

"It's out of the ordinary to have a death of a 6-year-old. It could be anything from carbon monoxide to a birth defect," said Reynaud, who said Scarborough's mother had picked him up from school with a fever. "The child did not exhibit any symptoms previous to yesterday.""

If this sort of incident gains in frequency, it might be an indicator of the 'cytokine storm,' , the hyper-immune response that apparently killed many in 1918.

Doctor Henry Niman does not represent unanimous opinion in the scientific community, however:

Reuters reports "Masato Tashiro, head of the influenza virus research center at Japan's National Institute of Infectious Disease and a member of the WHO emergency committee, told Japan's Nikkei newspaper it appeared the H1N1 strain was far less dangerous than avian flu.

"The virus is relatively weak and about the same as regular influenza viruses passed on via human-to-human contact. I don't believe it will become virulent," he was quoted as saying.

"The threat to health from the avian influenza and its fatality rate is much greater than the new flu," he said.

"I am very worried that we will use up the stockpile of anti-flu medicine and be unarmed before we need to fight against the avian influenza. The greatest threat to mankind remains the H5N1 avian influenza.""

Tashiro's confidence is interesting in view of the fact that the virus has been reported to be composed of avian influenza as well as swine flu and H1N1 genetic components; due to intense pressure from corporate farmers, the disease may be renamed anyway.

If hand-washing, quarantine, and public closures are to be of no use, what can one do? But it is still, frustratingly, too early to determine if we are facing a November full of the reek of death and disease, or clear sailing to the next outbreak. Perhaps some strategem can be devised to defeat the influenza. Or maybe we're all just meat animals in a factory farm, waiting for the time of slaughter.

Monday, April 13, 2009


KBOO interview: Michio Kaku on his book "Physics of the Impossible"

It was a blast getting to meet Michio Kaku, the co-founder of String Theory. The man is a titan, not because he's eclipsing Hawking's and Sagan's video legacy, but because he's constantly contributing to the cutting edge of theoretical physics. One of the first (off-air) things I asked him was whether he was the exercising sort, because I couldn't figure out how he did so many things without collapsing from exhaustion--he's been on book tour for a month now, has another month to go, he's being filmed for a new 12-part series based on his book Physics of the Impossible--and he seemed quite poised. But he says he's not an exerciser, although he likes to figure-skate (!!).

Well, when conducting the interview on air, I figured it out. At one point in the audio ( ) you can hear him say the phrase "like this phone interview." But he was right in front of me. I noticed then that his eyes drifted to his right while he was expounding, and his left eye had an occasional rapid dance to it. He was working on his theory as he responded to my questions! I think he was probably developing mathematical solutions--just a feeling. But it was clear that he could meta-multi-task. I mean, I had his attention, it's just that he had SO MUCH MORE BRAINPOWER to work with, that he could have a lively conversation with me, and do some intellectual heavy lifting at the same time. Damn. Imagine that!

So do listen to the interview, it's a blast. Now 'scuse me while I go read the book again.