Ahaa

Alternative Media

We Kill Our Revolutionaries

By Chris Hedges

  Law officers and National Guard troops assemble outside the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville in 1993 as a revolt by prisoners entered its 10th day. (AP/Mark Duncan)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio—Siddique Hasan, his legs shackled to a chair, sat in the fourth-floor visiting room of the Ohio State Penitentiary, a supermax prison. The room, surrounded by thick glass windows, had a guard booth in the center and food vending machines flanking a microwave on one wall. There was a line of small booths, entered through a door behind Hasan, where families, including children, were talking to prisoners through plexiglass partitions.

Hasan, born Carlos Sanders, has been in juvenile detention facilities or prison since he was an adolescent. His early life was difficult, unstable and marked by extreme poverty. His mother had her first child at 12 and her fourth and final child at 19. His father, who was physically abusive to Hasan’s mother, abandoned the family when Hasan was 5. The children and their mother survived on her meager pay from cooking and cleaning jobs. Hasan, the third of the four children, lived briefly in foster homes and never went beyond fifth grade. He ran the streets with his older brother and engaged in petty crime. Since his first incarceration, in his early teens in Georgia—where he was nicknamed Savannah Slim or Savannah Red, and where he worked with other convicts on Georgia prison highway details—until today, he has spent only 17 months outside prison walls. He has always rebelled. He masterminded a mass escape from a juvenile detention facility when he was 15 years old and, a year later, a mass escape from a county jail. In 2013 he took part in a hunger strike with other death row prisoners that saw prison authorities finally agree to expand the range of items at the prison commissary, permit physical contact in visits with relatives, allow prisoners to use computers to do legal research, increase the length of phone conversations and increase recreation time.Hasan, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 52 years old, bearded and with wire-rim glasses, had a white kufi on his head. He wore a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve shirt, light blue prison pants and white Nikes. His 209-pound frame was taut and compact, the result of an intense exercise regime. He has been on death row since he was convicted for his actions while leading, along with four others, the April 1993 uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville, Ohio. They are known as the Lucasville Five. The uprising saw prisoners take control of the prison for 11 days in protest against numerous grievances, including deaths that occurred allegedly from beatings by guards. It was one of the longest prison uprisings in U.S. history. By the time it was over, 10 people had been killed by prisoners, including a guard.

“I am a human being,” Hasan said. “I don’t like being locked up, deprived of my rights, told when to go to bed, when to eat, when to shower. These things hurt a person physically, emotionally and psychologically. No human being should be caged like an animal.”

Before he converted to Islam in 1981, he said, he was “a materialist freak and a monster that sold drugs and protected people for payment in prison.” He organized prison gambling rings and extortion rackets and oversaw a small army of enforcers.

“I would have 30 pairs of shoes, 30 bottles of lotion, 30 bottles of shampoo, 30 bottles of baby oil and 200 bars of soap in my cell,” he said. “But once I came into Islam and put into practice the knowledge I acquired, I changed.”

He hopes prisoners will organize to mount a coordinated nationwide work stoppage and hunger strike to improve conditions behind bars, including raising pay from the roughly $1 a day that prisoners now receive for eight hours of labor to the legal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. He would like to see coordinated boycotts of the overpriced commissaries. He said prisoners should purchase only the bare necessities, such as soap and toothpaste, and forego the “zoozoos and wamwams,” prison slang for junk food. He places no hope in the courts and the legislatures. Prisoners will have to start to carry out acts of mass civil disobedience for any justice, he said—that is the only mechanism left to them.

“Prison authorities never give you anything without a fight,” he said, clutching white prayer beads. “Those prisoners who can should refuse to go to work to demand the minimum wage, although the first thing the prison will do is try and break it up by transferring the leaders to another prison or remove them from the general population. But if any protest is done right, with unity, they may not lock anyone down. Let the prison authorities know in advance what will be done. Let them know the demands. Don’t surprise them. Give them an opportunity to resolve it, say 60 days. If you catch them by surprise all you will get is a lockdown. If you put them on notice they can’t say they didn’t know it was coming.”

“The beauty of a work stoppage is that the prison administrators have to bring in compensated labor,” he said. “This is what happened in the Georgia prison system in 2010 when the prisoners held a work stoppage for six days. It cost the state a lot of money. The prisoners got a lot of concessions. The issue of state pay cannot be solved expeditiously. That takes time. It is best to have other demands and other tactics. We can lower commissary prices and the price of phone calls through boycotts.”

There are lessons about resistance Hasan has learned that apply not only to the 2.3 million Americans who are incarcerated but to a society in which the loss of civil liberties and the creation of the security and surveillance state increasingly mirror the prison state. Revolt, he said, must include certain elements. Those who rebel must understand how systems of power work; otherwise, effective resistance is impossible. Revolt requires a disciplined and hierarchical organization and an incorruptible leadership to prevent betrayal, anarchy and bloodshed. To maintain unity there must be a commitment to nonviolence and a refusal to allow intrusion from personal, racial or religious animosities, including the hatred many prisoners feel for homosexuals and those who are informants or “snitches” for the prison administration. Divisions among the oppressed, Hasan said, are gifts to the oppressor. There must also be a clear set of achievable demands and an active support network outside the prison willing to mobilize on behalf of the rebels. Any revolt requires transparency, including informing the authorities in advance of a protest and articulating demands. Prisoners who mobilize an entire prison cannot hope to keep anything secret given the swarms of informants, he said. Finally, a revolt requires a willingness on the part of the rebel leaders to sacrifice and to even lose their lives. For him, Husan said, this last element is made possible by his faith.

“Most prisoners don’t have a problem going on strike for fair wages and better conditions,” he said. “They will challenge the powers that be. The problem is that we need people on the outside to help us. If we go on a hunger strike and starve ourselves, if we refuse to work or participate in our own self-destruction there have to be groups publicizing our resistance and backing us.”

Hasan, who had been only months away from being released at the time of the uprising, lived in the Lucasville prison honor wing, reserved for prisoners who had good disciplinary records. He worked as an imam among the prison population. During the uprising he repeatedly minimized or prevented violence. He is credited with saving several lives, a fact that came up in his trial. The state, as always, was far more concerned with removing a charismatic and incorruptible prison leader, no matter what he or she did, from the general prison population. Prisoners in sworn affidavits after the uprising told of Ohio State Highway Patrol officers moving through the institution’s population and offering deals for reduced sentences to those who would name and testify against revolt leaders. One of those who testified against the leaders of the uprising, Anthony Lavelle, the head of the Black Gangster Disciples inside the Lucasville facility, is widely believed to have carried out the murder of the prison guard, Robert Vallandingham. For that killing, Hasan was sentenced to death with George Skatzes, Namir Abdul Mateen, Jason Robb and Keith Lamar. Despite intense pressure by the state, and promises to spare them from the death penalty, the five men refused to incriminate each other. That the five are mixed racially, that Skatzes and Robb at the time were members of the Aryan Brotherhood and had to reject white solidarity to stand with the black defendants, was remarkable.

“They rose above their status as prisoners, and became, for a few days in April 1993, what rebels in Attica had demanded a generation before them: men,” Mumia Abu Jamal wrote in the foreword to “Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising,”by Staughton Lynd. “As such, they did not betray each other, they did not dishonor each other, they reached beyond their prison ‘tribes’ to reach the commonality.”

It was the Muslims, the most disciplined and politically conscious segment of the prison population, who organized the Lucasville revolt. And the uprising was, from its inception, designed to be nonviolent. Guards would be seized, as had happened five years earlier in the prison during a protest against deplorable conditions, and held until prisoners were permitted to make contact with the press. Once the press reported the prisoners’ grievances, and once the state agreed to address the abuses, the guards would be released.

“We were dealing with a warden, Arthur Tate Jr., who was very hard-line,” Hasan said. “The convicts called him King Arthur. We wanted to bring enough pressure on the system to take it out of his hands and get his superiors in Columbus at the ODRC [Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction] to respond. The goal was always to resolve this amicably.”

 No one in Lucasville, Hasan said, wanted to replicate the bloodbath that took place in New York state in September 1971 during the four-day uprising at the Attica prison in which over 43 people were killed, including 10 correctional officers and civilian employees, along with 33 prisoners who died at the hands of state police officers who stormed the institution. But uprisings, as Hasan swiftly found out, are very difficult events to control.

The catalyst for the revolt was a decision by the prison administration to test the prisoners for tuberculosis by injecting them with a substance the Muslims believed contained alcohol, which is forbidden to followers of Islam. Hasan and other Muslim leaders asked the prison authorities to do the testing by X-ray or sputum sample. The prison refused. The testing, especially because it was scheduled for Ramadan, was, Hasan said, “the final straw.”

“Muslims were fasting,” he said. “They couldn’t take a shot.”

Conditions in the prison were already barbaric. There was severe overcrowding. White and black prisoners often physically clashed, and the practice of housing men of different races within the same cells exacerbated the tension. Medical facilities were inadequate. Families that attempted to visit prisoners were harassed and abused by the guards. Commissary items were overpriced. Phone calls were limited to one five-minute conversation a year, usually at Christmas. Guards routinely beat prisoners, at times fatally. A group of prisoners known as the “Lucasville 14” had earlier attempted to renounce their U.S. citizenship. Three of them, to illustrate their seriousness, cut off fingers and mailed them to the United Nations and the U.S. Department of Justice. Prisoners had also attempted to organize a branch of the Industrial Workers of the World to demand that prison laborers receive the national minimum wage. Every attempt to organize or resist was met with harsher control.

“There were several incidents where a prisoner did something like masturbate in front of a female guard, spit on a guard or become verbally and physically abusive,” Hasan said. “In situations like these the guards are supposed to file a conduct report. But instead the guards took the liberty of physical abuse, and in some cases this was fatal. They would take a prisoner to isolation or administrative segregation, go into the cell, close the door and jump on the prisoner while he was handcuffed and shackled.”

Internal prison protests, he said, have become an imperative. Nearly all rehabilitation programs have been terminated. Tens of thousands of prisoners are locked for months or even years in isolation. Prisons, every year, are extracting more money from prisoners and their families through exorbitant phone fees, rising commissary prices, money transfer services that take huge commissions and refusing to provide items such as footwear, forcing prisoners, who typically earn about $28 a month, to pay $45 for sneakers. Prisoners must also pay an array of fees, including hundreds of dollars to be taken on a visit to a dying family member or to a funeral home. And more and more prisoners, because of fees and fines, are leaving prisons with thousands of dollars of debt. Over 60 percent of those who are released return to prison. This is by design.

“The prison officials know that when you get out you are coming back,” he said. “You are not trained to do anything. There is no advanced program of education. There is no vocational training. You get out and you don’t have a place to live. You are on somebody’s couch. You don’t have money. You can’t get a job. It’s just a matter of time before you go back to exploiting your old way of living. And prisoners are demonized. They are portrayed as incorrigible, unsympathetic, uncaring, irredeemable monsters that need to be in prison.”

In the 1993 revolt the Muslims seized a dozen guards at the end of the recreation period around 3 in the afternoon. Prisoners, freed from their cells and prison control, grabbed baseball bats and fire extinguishers and attacked guards. Hasan said someone suggested to him they murder the snitches and the “fags,” an act he denounced, saying “that would mean killing half the prison population.” Prisoners began to barricade hallways with ice machines and locker boxes. They used 45-pound weight bars and pickaxes to smash windows and doors to capture guards in a secure area known as a “safewell.”

“Me and some of the other Muslims had congregated in the barbershop,” he said. “A brother told us they were killing snitches in [Block] L6. We went down to L6 and saw bodies on top of bodies. Not all were dead; some were gagging for air, some survived.”

“It was mass chaos,” he said. “People were beating the guards and beating convicts. It was pandemonium. Blood was in the hallway. It was like a massacre. Blood does not have a nice smell. I remembered snapping on the Muslims and telling them to secure these guys.”

Hasan moved the captured guards to the shower stalls and kept them protected. He placed vulnerable prisoners, including the informants, in cells for their safety. The Muslims had drawn up an organizational plan before the uprising, with groups assigned to security, legal matters, food distribution and education. They struggled to impose order.

I asked him how he felt when he saw the bodies and the bloodbath, something he had desperately hoped to avoid.

“I didn’t feel anything, maybe because I have a different perception about death than other people,” he said.

“Stabbin’. Killin’. Hangin’. This was not [an intended] part of the uprising,” he said. “Things got out of hand. You had a lot of prisoners with a lot of grudges, animosities and hatred in their hearts for prisoners and nonprisoners. These people had snitched on them or abused them. People settled old scores with other prisoners and with guards. That’s what happened. That’s what went wrong.”

Rape, too, was a problem during the uprising. Prisoners who committed rapes during the revolt were locked in cells. Hasan said one black prisoner, Bruce Harris, raped a white prisoner. Other white prisoners, when they heard of the rape, wanted to kill Harris. Hasan intervened.

It was agreed that a prisoner from each of the three main prison factions—the Aryan Brotherhood, the Muslims and the Black Gangster Disciples—would punish Harris. They took Harris into the corridor and beat him for three minutes. Then they took him to the gym and beat him again for three minutes. After that, they locked him in a cell.

“Bruce was nervous that they were going to kill him and he started tearing up the cell,” Hasan said. “He tore the porcelain toilet off the wall and smashed it to pieces, disturbing the Muslims, who were praying. I went to Bruce. I asked him to stop. I assured Bruce that he was not going to die. I told him I would escort him out to the prison authorities when the time came to end the riot. He promised to stop making a ruckus.”

Harris, however, was killed later by fellow prisoners. The state attempted to charge Hasan with the murder, but during the trial a video was produced showing Hasan in negotiations with prison authorities at the time of Harris’ murder.

“When there is disorder and no law, people have the tendency to do evil things,” Hasan said.

“What is the cause of any uprising?” he asked. “Simply put, it’s man’s injustice to man. We could not expect freedom, but we could expect freedom from oppression, tyranny, persecution and gross miscarriages of justice that go on in institutional life. Prisons are here to stay. Be realistic. It’s about the money, the control and the power. But if you take over a prison you can confront the evil and the corruption, you can make some changes.”

The captured guards, he said, suddenly began calling him Mr. Sanders, something that was unthinkable when he was under their domination.

“The guards were all saying they were sorry, they were just doing their jobs,” he said.

The white prisoners, many of them members of the Aryan Brotherhood, gathered nervously in the gym in the first hours of the revolt. They feared that the blacks would turn on them. All of the alleged snitches killed in the first few hours were white. A few blacks believed to be snitches had been beaten but had survived. Hasan called the Muslims to prayer in the gym. He demanded that the non-Muslim prisoners be quiet and respectful during prayer. When it was over he announced that any other religious group that wanted to worship would be given the same respect shown to the Muslims. That promise of respect broke down the racial walls and made possible an alliance between whites and blacks. Prisoners began to paint slogans such as “Convict Race,” “Convict Unity” and “White and Black Together” on the walls.

“I did what I did with the choices that were available,” Hasan said. “I had to do something. I am a revolutionary. To be a revolutionary is to be an agent of change, which is impossible if one doesn’t know what needs to be changed. For there to be a revolution there must be revolutionary consciousness. A prisonwide hunger strike, a prisonwide work stoppage, would have been more effective. But then it would not have been about the Muslims. You would have had to take it to the whole convict body.”

On death row all who rebel against empire are comrades.

“People, Muslim and non-Muslim, admire ISIS [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria],” he said. “They are happy to see ISIS stand up against the U.S. government and Israel. A lot of us may not agree with all their tactics, but we know what it is like to be pushed to the edge. We also know that al-Qaida carried out the attacks of 9/11 against the symbols of American power, the Pentagon and the financial institutions. If they only wanted to kill Americans they could have flown the planes into a stadium with 80,000 or 90,000 people during a pro football game. Prisoners, because they are oppressed, like seeing anyone stand up to the big bad wolf.”

The Lucasville uprising was settled peacefully. The state promised not to carry out reprisals against the leaders, a promise it broke once it regained control.

The state should not be able to murder people, no matter what these people have done. But what of a state that places a person such as Hasan on death row when it knows he never committed murder? What of a state that cut a plea deal with the actual killer of the corrections officer so it could execute Hasan? The message sent by the state is clear: It does not fear criminals. It fears rebels.

Hasan, who is fighting his own death sentence in the courts, has seen several men taken to the death chamber. Two of those executed—Abdul-Hakim Zakiy and Abdullah Sharif Kaazim Mahdi—were close friends. The last conversations before execution haunt him.

“Brother Mahdi didn’t get a lot of visits in prison,” he said. “He would not participate in the final process. He didn’t want a last meal. He spent the day fasting and reading the Koran. He asked for a little olive oil and some Islamic dates. I told him he would be dearly missed. I told him I knew he had a strong faith. I told him I knew he believed in Allah. I told him to accept that all life is transitory. I told him to hope that Allah would accept his worship, the sincerity of his belief and grant him paradise. I told him I loved him. I felt helpless.”

“He did not want his family to get his body,” he went on. “He wanted his body washed and buried according to Islam. He wanted to rest in the prison burial plot with the other Muslim prisoners. It is hard to see someone you love and admire go through that. I believe I will see him in the next life. I can’t imagine going through that without my faith.”

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Big Food Corporate Power Grab: “GMOs are Safe”

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A recent report by US Right to Know (‘Seedy Business: What Big Food is Hiding with Its Slick PR Campaign on GMOs’, see here) outlines how agrichemical firms have spent more than $100 million since 2012 on political and PR campaigns to shift the media narrative on GMOs. The non-profit food research group is now calling on media to accurately report that the science on GMOs is contradictory and has been largely controlled by corporations that profit from GMO seeds and the pesticides that go with them.

Stacy Malkan, media director of US Right to Know says:

“Unfortunately, many members of the media, and even some scientists, have been snookered by PR firms about a supposed scientific consensus on GMOs that doesn’t exist.”

Part of the PR campaign takes place on prominent websites that forward the notion that the debate on GMOs has been settled. The claim is based on the premise that there is a consensus on GMO safety within the ‘scientific community’, which has been fuelled by the results of two much publicised ‘big list’ reviews that supposedly give GMOs the green light on safety.

According to the first review by Nicolia and colleagues, some 1,700 studies show GMOs are safe for human and animal health and the environment. The second review is promoted on the claim that trillions of GMO meals eaten indicate that there is no health risk to food producing animals or humans.

Despite the claims, those 1,700 studies do not indicate that GMOs are safe (see here to discover that many even indicate risks: GMO Myths and Truths (pp. 102–126.). Moreover, the methodology, evidence and conclusions from the ‘trillion meal’ review have been deconstructed to reveal that it too shows nothing of what the pro-GMO lobby claims it does (see here). In fact, the review has been described as ‘junk’.

These ‘big list’ reviews are being used for the purpose of pro-corporate PR spin passed off as sound science by a lobby group that constantly attacks its critics for relying on emotion, ideology and lies. However, as documented here and here, it is the pro-GMO lobby that engages in such tactics by distorting and censoring science, capturing regulatory bodies, attacking scientists whose findings are unpalatable to the industry and bypassing proper scientific and regulatory procedures altogether.

Similarly, US Right to Know’s report ‘Seedy Business’ shows how science can be swayed, bought or biased by the agrichemical industry in many ways, such as suppressing adverse findings, harming the careers of scientists who produce such findings, controlling the funding that shapes what research is conducted, the lack of independent US-based testing of health and environmental risks of GMOs and tainting scientific reviews of GMOs by conflicts of interest.

The pro-GMO lobby is engaged in a propaganda crusade carried out on the web and in the print media by slick media communications personnel or scientists who promote themselves as ‘objective’ when nothing could be further from the truth in certain cases (for example, see this and this).

Making grandiose statements based on gross misrepresentations that are guaranteed to grab media headlines on the back of ‘big list’ reviews are designed to play on the public’s ignorance.

“Assembling big lists of studies supposedly providing overwhelming evidence of the safety of GMOs has become common practice by GMO proponents… The success of the tactic depends on the reading public failing to examine the actual studies and seeing what they say.” Claire Robinson (here).

In challenging the ‘scientific’ claims of the pro-GMO lobby, Claire Robinson adds:

“… authors should re-learn the basic scientific principle of citing a specific data point to support each claim they make about GMO safety. The problem for them is that doing so would cause their entire house of cards to collapse.”

US Right to Know urges people to read a January 24 statement published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, which has been signed by 300 scientists, physicians and scholars that asserts there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs (see here).

This statement says that the claim of scientific consensus on GMOs frequently repeated in the media is “an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated” to propagate the belief that debate on the topic is “over.” That claim “…is misleading and misrepresents or outright ignores the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of scientific opinions among scientists on this issue,” according to the statement.

The statement goes on to make numerous important points, including:

1) There are no epidemiological studies investigating potential health effects of GMO food on human health. With no epidemiological studies, claims that “trillions of GMO meals” have been eaten with no ill effects have no scientific basis.

2) GMO studies are frequently mischaracterized as showing safety. For example, the EU Research Project, which has been internationally cited as providing evidence of GMO safety, was not designed to test safety and provides no reliable evidence of safety. Another example is the false claim that “hundreds of studies” listed on the biotechnology website Biofortified demonstrate GMO safety. In fact, many of the studies on that list do not address safety concerns at all and several of the studies raise serious concerns.

3) The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and UN’s Codex Alimentarius share a precautionary approach to GMO crops and foods, in that they agree that genetic engineering differs from conventional breeding and that safety assessments should be required before GM organisms are used in food or released into the environment.

4) Claims that government and scientific organizations endorse safety are often exaggerated or inaccurate. For example, an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada said it is “scientifically unjustifiable” to presume that GM foods are safe without rigorous scientific testing.

5) A report by the British Medical Association concluded that “many unanswered questions remain” about the long-term effects of GMOs on human health and the environment and that “safety concerns cannot, as yet, be dismissed completely on the basis of information currently available.”

6) There is no consensus on environmental impacts of GMOs, and many concerns have been raised about increased herbicide use, potential health impacts and the rapid spread of herbicide-resistant weeds.

The joint statement concludes:

“…the totality of scientific research outcomes in the field of GM crop safety is nuanced; complex; often contradictory or inconclusive; confounded by researchers’ choices, assumptions, and funding sources; and, in general, has raised more questions than it has currently answered… [Decisions on whether to continue and expand GMO crops should] be supported by strong scientific evidence… obtained in a manner that is honest, ethical, rigorous, independent, transparent, and sufficiently diversified to compensate for bias… [rather than based on] misleading and misrepresentative claims by an internal circle of likeminded stakeholders that a ‘scientific consensus’ exists on GMO safety.”

For a comprehensive overview of the myths and misrepresentations forwarded by the pro-GMO lobby and the actual reality of the situation, consult this report:

GMO Myths and Truths: An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy and of GM crops and foods

Fukushima Plant: New leak

By

AFP, Feb 22, 2015 (emphasis added): Sensors at the Fukushima nuclear plant have detected afresh leak of highly radioactive water into the sea… [with] contamination levels up to 70 times greater than the already-high radioactive status seen at the plant… TEPCO said itsemergency inspections of tanks storing nuclear waste water did not find any additional abnormalities… It was not immediately clear what caused the original spike… “With emergency surveys of the plant and monitoring of other sensors, we have no reason to believe tanks storing radioactive waste water have leaked… We are currently monitoring the sensors”…  The latest incident, one of several that have plagued the plant in recent months, reflects the difficulty in controlling and decommissioning the plant… TEPCO has not been able to effectively deal with an increasing amount of contaminated water…

NHK, Feb 22, 2015: Fukushima radioactive contamination sets off alarm — [TEPCO] says it has detected high levels of radioactive substances in a drainage channel on the plant’s premises on Sunday… the plant’s alarm system went off around 10 AM… levels of beta-ray emitting substances, which are not detected under normal circumstances, had risen to up to 7,230 Becquerels per liter… The utilitysuspects that contaminated water in the channel may have leaked into the port.

Japan Times, Feb 22, 2015: Strontium-90 levels spike alarmingly at Fukushima No. 1 plant — The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Sunday that an alarm went off at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant signaling high radioactivity levels in drainage ditches… the first alarm sounded at around 10 a.m., and another alarm 10 minutes later indicated much higher levels. Officials said contaminated water may have been discharged into the ditches.

(Link removed) Jiji Press, Feb 22, 2015: Radioactivity Alarm Rings at TEPCO Fukushima Plant

Watch NHK’s broadcast hereelated Posts

  1. TV: Groundwater shows massive spike in radioactive material at Fukushima plant — Strontium-90 up over 10,000% in past few months — Tepco apologizes (VIDEO) June 19, 2013
  2. TV: “Extremely high levels of radioactive substances” leaked Wednesday night at Fukushima plant — 25 trillion becquerels of Strontium-90 and other beta emitters estimated to have flowed out — “Investigation is still underway” (VIDEO) February 19, 2014
  3. CNN: Alarm due to radiation spike brings ’1st-of-its-kind’ response at US nuclear site — Inspections cancelled, no one able to enter facility due to ‘high radiation’ levels — Reuters: Plans got called off over ‘safety thing’ — Gov’t: ‘Pretty sure’ we know where leak is — Local TV calls it ‘emergency’ (VIDEO) February 17, 2014
  4. Officials: Typhoon caused significant increase in radioactive releases from Fukushima — Record levels of ‘highly toxic’ nuclear material found in ground outside reactor — Among the most poisonous substances at plant October 11, 2014
  5. Tepco admits “radiation levels in groundwater are soaring” at Fukushima — “Strontium readings spike 6,500-fold in one day” (VIDEO) October 18, 2013

U.S. Army Claims to Be Full of Liars

By: David Swanson Monday February 23, 2015 8:36 am

“Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession” is the title of a new paper by Leonard Wong and Stephen Gerras of the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. Its thesis: the U.S. Army is full of liars who habitually lie as part of a lying culture that has internalized and normalized lying to the point of unrecognizability.

Finally a claim from the Army I’m prepared to take seriously!

But the authors aren’t interested in the Army’s lying press releases or lying Congressional testimony or lying sound bytes promoting each new war, predicting imminent success, and identifying each dead adult or child as an evildoer. In fact, it seems pretty clear that the authors are in fact lying to themselves about the nature of the Army’s lying.

To hear them tell it, the Army’s lying problem could be the same as in any other institution. They don’t compare the Army to any other institutions, except to say that their analysis applies to the whole U.S. military, and the implication is that other institutions do not have it so bad. But the root of the problem, as they see it, is impossible demands placed on members of the military. To meet the impossible demands, people lie. And this — not the mission of mass murder — makes them “ethically numb.”

Members of the Army, we’re told, engage in “ethical fading,” using euphemisms and obscure phrases to disguise the immorality of what they are doing — namely overstating the supplies shipped or understating their own weight or some other “ethical” matter, not burning families to death in their homes with million-dollar missiles.

All of this unethicalness, the authors maintain, can create hypocritical leaders who hide billions in the “Overseas Contingency Operations” slush fund or cover up sex scandals. Really? Immorality enters an institution of mass murder that routinely deceives the public and much of the government from the bottom up? Excessive demands on troops creates a culture of lying than infects the good generals at the top? Are you kidding me? No, of course you aren’t. You’re lying to yourselves.

Soldiers realize pretty quickly that they’re not benefitting the people of Iraq or Afghanistan or whatever country they’re terrorizing. They understand that the entire mission is a lie. They learn to lie about their own actions, to plant “drop weapons,” to invent justifications, to provide support for their commanders’ efforts to believe their own lies.

Matthew Hoh, a State Department whistleblower, said today: “The culture of lying that is endemic and systemic in the Army, as found by researchers with the Army War College, finds its expression in America’s pointless wars, a one trillion dollar-a-year, pork-filled and inauditable national security budget, chronic veteran suicides, an expanded and more globally robust international terrorist movement, and untold suffering of millions of people and political chaos throughout the Greater Middle East perpetuated by our war policies.

“However, listening to our military leaders, and the politicians who adore and deify them rather than oversee them, America’s wars and its military have been a great patriotic success. This report is not a surprise for those of us who have worn the uniform, nor should it be surprising to those who have watched and paid attention with a modicum of critical and independent thought to our wars these past thirteen plus years. The wars are failures, but careers must prosper, budgets must increase and popular narratives and myths of American military success must endure, so the culture of lying becomes a necessity for our Army at a great physical, mental and moral cost to our Nation.”

In other words, War Is A Lie.

Ukraine Could Lead to Nuclear War?

The Stakes Are Too High Not to Negotiate Peace

Former Soviet leader and Nobel prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the battle in Ukraine could result in a nuclear war:

“A war of this kind would unavoidably lead to a nuclear war,” the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner told Der Spiegel news magazine, according to excerpts released on Friday.

“We won’t survive the coming years if someone loses their nerve in this overheated situation,” added Gorbachev, 83. “This is not something I’m saying thoughtlessly. I am extremely concerned.”

One of America’s top experts on Russia – Steven Cohen – has warned that failure to negotiate a peace treaty in Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.

Steven Starr – a nuclear arms expert and senior scientist for Physicians for Social Responsibility –warns that proposed U.S. legislation would be a direct path towards nuclear war with Russia.

Former Russian advisor to Margret Thatcher John Bowne said yesterday:

I think it is dire particularly because President Obama has had the wrong end of the stick, and he follows a strategic mistake. When President Reagan and Secretary of State Gorbachev, with the assistance of Margret Thatcher, achieved an end to the cold war, in other words, the colder part of Second World War in the mid 1980’s, it was agreed, if not in writing but tacitly, that neither side would try to poach on the old buffer states of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. From the Russian point of view, they see a number of countries have voted quite democratically, like Poland, to go into the European Union and be associated with NATO and things like that. They have also seen activity by the secret services of the West, most notably the CIA in the Ukraine, to persuade them to go. This has angered the Russians, and when you come to the Ukraine and Crimea, you are treading on vital interests of Russia. It is very similar to the situation in October of 1962, when Khrushchev of the Soviet Union decided to put intercontinental ballistic missiles in Cuba, right in the soft underbelly of the United States, threating the vital interests of the United States. In that confrontation, President Kennedy had to win even if it meant nuclear war. He had to win that battle. In this case, we have the West interfering in the soft underbelly of Russia, notably the Ukraine and in Crimea. This threatens the vital interest of Russia like a warm water port with access to the Eastern Mediterranean, which they have sought for 200 years. Putin, who enjoys 80 percent domestic support, has to win even if it means going to war.

***

This would have a very high risk of slipping into nuclear war. Russia has enormous ground forces, and they are very up to date. Putin has updated the Russian armed forces tremendously. They have very sophisticated rocket weapons, and if we saw massive numbers of our troops being slaughtered, maybe we would be the first to press the nuclear button. . . . So, this is a desperate situation.

Former Polish president – and famed anti-communist activist – Lech Walesa also warned that the U.S. and Nato’s arming of Ukraine could lead to a nuclear war.

Leading American political activist Noam Chomsky agrees.

Australian doctor and Nobel prize winner Helen Caldicott warns:

The expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders is “very, very dangerous,” Caldicott said. “There is no way a war between the United States and Russia could start and not go nuclear. … The United States and Russia have enormous stockpiles of these weapons. Together they have 94 percent of all the 16,300 nuclear weapons in the world.”

“We are in a very fallible, very dangerous situation operated by mere mortals,” she warned. “The nuclear weapons, are sitting there, thousands of them. They are ready to be used.”

***

Caldicott strongly criticized Obama administration policymakers for their actions in forward positioning U.S. and NATO military units in countries of Eastern Europe in response to Russian support of breakaway separatists in the provinces of eastern Ukraine. On –, the U.S. government announced the deployment of the Ironhorse Brigade, an elite armored cavalry unit of the U.S. Army to the former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, along the historic invasion route from the West to St. Petersburg.

“Do they really want a nuclear war with Russia?” she asked “The only war that you can have with Russia is a nuclear war. … You don’t provoke paranoid countries armed with nuclear weapons.”

And see this, this, this, this, this and this.

Indeed, Eric Zuesse says that the risks are so high – and the American leaders so reckless – that Russia is preparing for an expected nuclear attack by the U.S.

Postscript: In the 1987 book To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans, one of the world’s leading physicists – Michio Kaku – revealed declassified plans for the U.S. to launch a first-strike nuclear war against Russia. The forward was written by the former Attorney General of the United States, Ramsey Clarke.

In Towards a World War III Scenario, Michel Chossudovsky documents that the U.S. is so enamored with nuclear weapons that it has authorized low-level field commanders to use them in the heat of battle in their sole discretion … without any approval from civilian leaders.

May cooler heads prevail …

Lost Sherlock Holmes story

Walter Elliot discovers tale starring famous detective in collection of short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in effort to save his favourite bridge in Selkirk

Walter Elliot, 80, from Selkirk, with a book containing a short Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Walter Elliot, 80, from Selkirk, with the book containing a short Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Photo: SWNS

An historian has unearthed the first unseen Sherlock Holmes story in more than 80 years that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote to help save a town bridge.

Walter Elliot, 80, found the 1,300-word tale starring the famous detective in a collection of short stories written for a local bazaar.

The wooden bridge in the Scottish town of Selkirk was destroyed by the great flood of 1902 and locals organised a three-day event to raise funds for a new one in 1904.

As part of the event, organisers sold a collection of short stories by locals called The Book o’ the Brig.


The book is now on display at the Selkirk Pop Up Community Museum (SWNS)

Mr Elliot has now unearthed a copy of the book and spotted his story “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar”.

He was given the 48-page pamphlet more than 50 years ago by a friend, but forgot about it until recently when he looked in the attic.

Mr Elliot was prompted to dig out the rare papers – tired together with string – and put it on display as part of an upcoming local pop-up museum.

It is believed the story – about Holmes deducing Watson is going on a trip to Selkirk – is the first unseen Holmes story by Doyle since the last was published over 80 years ago.

Mr Elliot, a great-grandfather, said: “In Selkirk, there was a wooden bridge that was put up some time before it was flooded in 1902.

“The town didn’t have the money to replace it so they decided to have a bazaar to replace the bridge in 1904. They had various people to come and do things and just about everyone in the town did something.


Bannerfield’s bridge in Selkirk which features in ‘The Book o’ the Brig’ (SWNS)

“The local MPs and landowners and everyone in two days I think took in £560, which was quite some sum then.

“The Saturday was opened by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He had written a wee story about Sherlock Holmes and Watson and this was in the book.

“I can’t remember how much they raised but they wanted it to be a carriage bridge but they didn’t get quite enough for that, but they built an iron bridge and it’s still there today.

“He really must have thought enough of the town to come down and take part and contribute a story to the book. It’s a great little story.”

The book – around ten inches long and three inches wide, with a soft brown paper cover – contained stories from local people as well as the famous author.

“I have no idea how many they made and sold,” said Mr Elliot. “I’ve had this book for about 40 or 50 years. I must have got it from a friend because I can’t remember buying it from anyone.

“Usually people would throw out these books or sell them off. It has been in my family for quite a while now.

“I have no idea if it has ever been published – I’ve never seen it. I’ve always been interested in history and my family has always passed on stories and I suppose this was one of the stories that was passed down.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes

It was not the last time Conan Doyle visited the town – he returned a few months later with a cricket team to play Selkirk.

In 1905, he gifted a now-lost Border league football trophy, called the Conan Doyle Cup, last won by Kelso in 1937-38.

A year later, Conan Doyle stood as a Unionist candidate for Westminster in the nearby Hawick Burghs constituency.

The booklet will be on show at the Cross Keys Selkirk Pop-up Community Museum from Saturday, along with Mr Elliot’s painting of the replaced bridge.

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