This past May, in an unheralded and almost unnoticed move, the Energy Department signaled a fundamental, near epochal shift in US and indeed world history: we are nearing the end of the Petroleum Age and have entered the Age of Insufficiency. The department stopped talking about "oil" in its projections of future petroleum availability and began speaking of "liquids." The global output of "liquids," the department indicated, would rise from 84 million barrels of oil equivalent (mboe) per day in 2005 to a projected 117.7 mboe in 2030--barely enough to satisfy anticipated world demand of 117.6 mboe. Aside from suggesting the degree to which oil companies have ceased being mere suppliers of petroleum and are now purveyors of a wide variety of liquid products--including synthetic fuels derived from natural gas, corn, coal and other substances--this change hints at something more fundamental: we have entered a new era of intensified energy competition and growing reliance on the use of force to protect overseas sources of petroleum.
To appreciate the nature of the change, it is useful to probe a bit deeper into the Energy Department's curious terminology. "Liquids," the department explains in its International Energy Outlook for 2007, encompasses "conventional" petroleum as well as "unconventional" liquids--notably tar sands (bitumen), oil shale, biofuels, coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids. Once a relatively insignificant component of the energy business, these fuels have come to assume much greater importance as the output of conventional petroleum has faltered. Indeed, the Energy Department projects that unconventional liquids production will jump from a mere 2.4 mboe per day in 2005 to 10.5 in 2030, a fourfold increase. But the real story is not the impressive growth in unconventional fuels but the stagnation in conventional oil output. Looked at from this perspective, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the switch from "oil" to "liquids" in the department's terminology is a not so subtle attempt to disguise the fact that worldwide oil production is at or near its peak capacity and that we can soon expect a downturn in the global availability of conventional petroleum.
Friday, October 26, 2007
... Browsing news stories of the latest carnage from Iraq today, my eye caught this extraordinary sentence buried in an Associated Press report about U.S. forces claiming to have killed 49 militants in a dawn raid in Baghdad's Sadr City Shiite enclave:
"Iraqi police and hospital officials, who often overstate casualties, reported only 15 deaths including three children."
This sounds like the sort of wild-eyed, paranoia-fueled conspiracy claim that one normally would find only in the extreme fringe far-right blogosphere.
But that sentence didn't come from Little Green Footballs or Flopping Aces, or any of the other right-wing nutcase blogs that populate the outer fringes of the Web.
It came from the Associated Press.
And, frankly, it's an extraordinary claim--and one that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
Note that this AP report isn't claiming that Sunni insurgents, or Shiite militias lie about their casualties. That wouldn't be anything new. In fact, we've heard claims like those before, (as the insurgency and the U.S. military continue their ongoing propaganda wars).
No, this is "Iraqi police and hospital officials," whose casualty claims, AP would have us believe, are no longer to be trusted...
Maybe I've missed it in previous AP coverage, but I don't recall ever seeing this extraordinary claim made in previous AP coverage. It seems like this bold claim would warrant a major, investigative story in and of itself.
Constantinos Karatheodori (Caratheodory). Considered ... one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, he was born in Berlin in 1873 from Greek parents and died in Munich in 1950. Karatheodori was raised by his Grandmother in Brussels, where he graduated from the military school where he studied engineering and was considered a charismatic and brilliant student. Then he moved to Germany, where he studied mathematics and became University professor. In 1920 he came to Greece, invited by his friend and Prime Minister at the time, Eleftherios Venizelos, to organize the University of Smirni. Unfortunately in 1922 the Turks seized Smirni –however he managed to save the university library and moved to Athens, where he taught at the Polytechnic School and became member of the Athens Academy. In 1924 he moved to Berlin where he stayed until the end of his life in 1950.
As a mathematician, he made important contributions to the theory of real functions, conformal representations, calculus of variations, and to the theory of point-set measure, as well as to thermodynamics and relativity theory. He was greatly admired by the most well-known scientists of his time, with Albert Einstein considering him as “a great teacher” (although he wasn’t Einstein's actual teacher as it is mistakenly believed). He was so much admired by peers that when he was accepted into the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin in 1919, none other than Max Planck gave the honorary dedication. ~ Link ~
Constantin Carathéodory (or Constantine Karatheodoris) (September 13, 1873 – February 2, 1950) was a Greek mathematician. He made significant contributions to the theory of functions of a real variable, the calculus of variations, and measure theory. His work also includes important results in conformal representations and in the theory of boundary correspondence. In 1909, Carathéodory pioneered the Axiomatic Formulation of Thermodynamics along a purely geometrical approach.
[ ... ]The Greek authorities intend to create a museum honoring Karatheodoris in Komotini, a major town of the northeastern Greek region where his family came from.
On December 19, 2005, Israeli officials along with Israel's ambassador to Athens, Ram Aviram, presented the Greek foreign ministry with copies of 10 letters between Albert Einstein and Constantin Carathéodory [Karatheodoris] that suggest that the work of Carathéodory helped shape some of Albert Einstein's theories. The letters were part of a long correspondence which lasted from 1916 to 1930. Aviram said that according to experts at the National Archives of Israel — custodians of the original letters — the mathematical side of Einstein's physics theory was partly substantiated through the work of Carathéodory. ~ Link ~
Proponents of Einstein have acted in a way that appears to corrupt the historical record. Albert Einstein (1879-1955), Time Magazine's "Person of the Century", wrote a long treatise on special relativity theory (it was actually called "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies", 1905a), without listing any references. Many of the key ideas it presented were known to Lorentz (for example, the Lorentz transformation) and Poincaré before Einstein wrote the famous 1905 paper.
As was typical of Einstein, he did not discover theories; he merely commandeered them. He took an existing body of knowledge, picked and chose the ideas he liked, then wove them into a tale about his contribution to special relativity. This was done with the full knowledge and consent of many of his peers, such as the editors at Annalen der Physik.
The most recognisable equation of all time is E = mc2. It is attributed by convention to be the sole province of Albert Einstein (1905). However, the conversion of matter into energy and energy into matter was known to Sir Isaac Newton ("Gross bodies and light are convertible into one another...", 1704). The equation can be attributed to S. Tolver Preston (1875), to Jules Henri Poincaré (1900; according to Brown, 1967) and to Olinto De Pretto (1904) before Einstein. Since Einstein never correctly derived E = mc2 (Ives, 1952), there appears nothing to connect the equation with anything original by Einstein.
Arthur Eddington's selective presentation of data from the 1919 Eclipse so that it supposedly supported "Einstein's" general relativity theory is surely one of the biggest scientific hoaxes of the 20th century. His lavish support of Einstein corrupted the course of history. Eddington was less interested in testing a theory than he was in crowning Einstein the king of science.
The physics community, unwittingly perhaps, has engaged in a kind of fraud and silent conspiracy; this is the byproduct of simply being bystanders as the hyperinflation of Einstein's record and reputation took place. This silence benefited anyone supporting Einstein.
The Smartest Futurist On Earth
By Brian O'Keefe
If you went around saying that in a couple of decades we'll have cell-sized, brain-enhancing robots circulating through our bloodstream, or that we'll be able to upload a person's consciousness into a computer, people would probably question your sanity.
But if you say things like that and you're Ray Kurzweil, you get invited to dinner at Bill Gates' house - twice - so he can pick your brain for insights on the future of technology. The Microsoft chairman calls him a "visionary thinker and futurist."
Kurzweil is an inventor whose work in artificial intelligence has dazzled technological sophisticates for four decades. He invented the flatbed scanner, the first true electric piano, and large-vocabulary speech-recognition software; he's launched ten companies and sold five, and has written five books; he has a BS in computer science from MIT and 13 honorary doctorates (but no real one); he's been inducted into the Inventor's Hall of Fame and charges $25,000 every time he gives a speech - 40 times last year.
[ ... ]
Kurzweil, however, has something bigger on his mind than just making money -after half a lifetime studying trends in technological change, he believes he's found a pattern that allows him to see into the future with a high degree of accuracy. The secret is something he calls the Law of Accelerating Returns, and the basic idea is that the power of technology is expanding at an exponential rate. Mankind is on the cusp of a radically accelerating era of change unlike anything we have ever seen, he says, and almost more extreme than we can imagine.
[ ... ]
He has plenty more ideas that may seem Woody Allen - wacky in a Sleeper kind of way (virtual sex as good as or better than the real thing) and occasionally downright disturbing à la 2001: A Space Odyssey (computers will achieve consciousness in about 20 years). But a number of his predictions have had a funny way of coming true.
Back in the 1980s he predicted that a computer would beat the world chess champion in 1998 (it happened in 1997) and that some kind of worldwide computer network would arise and facilitate communication and entertainment (still happening)...
Letters to the president from his ardent admirer Belacqua Jones
The ideology of free market fundamentalism rests on three pillars of bullshit: deregulation, privatization, and the elimination of the social safety net. They are all scams, but the one that tickles my follicles is deregulation. In that one word, Orwellian language transcends itself and in doing so establishes a new aesthetic standard for duplicity.
If done honestly, deregulation is a misnomer. Instead of deregulating, business is simply exchanging the benign regulation of the government for the harsh and unyielding regulation of the market. Under the millstone of pure market regulation, if you screw up, you go under and take a lot of people with you.
Ronnie kicked the whole thing off the second he’d sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution. No sooner had he began his orgy of deregulation then the Continental Bank of
So, the government bailed them out, deregulation became a scam, and the savings and loan industry took note.
However, there was one area in which business had total, unregulated freedom: the creation of financial bubbles. And, oh, how they blew those babies up until they popped. There was the 1990 bond bubble, the dot.com bubble, the housing bubble, the subprime bubble that was followed by a liquidity crisis and a credit crunch. Our financial adventurers could move with impunity knowing that the Fed and Congress stood ready to pump more cash into the system should their fuckups overtake them.
You see, personal responsibility is an individual virtue, not a corporate one.
Once again, the Fed is coming to the rescue as the banks sink beneath reams of Asset Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP) nobody wants. So, we are seeing the creation of a $100 billion Master-Liquidity Enhancement Conduit (M-LEC). This fund will buy the banks bogus paper and put it on hold, thus moving the banks’ liability off their books. Otherwise, they’d have to increase their cash reserves, which would give them less money with which to fund the next bubble.
Nobody has quite figured out what to do with the other $400 billion in toilet paper they are holding (there’s a lot of give and take in that figure because nobody is really sure just how deep in shit the banks are).
It really doesn’t matter because the benevolent hand of the government will bail them out. Might I suggest that when you give your radio address next Saturday you thank
What the hell, no matter how many bubbles pop, we still have the national security bubble, and that will keep the economy humping along the road to oblivion.
by David Korten
If there is to be a human future, we must bring ourselves into balanced relationship with one another and the Earth. This requires building economies with heart.
The boring brilliance of JG Ballard
25 Oct 2007
Who is Britain's greatest living novelist? If pressed, I would have to say JG Ballard. No other contemporary writer, in my opinion, has engaged with modernity and our urban environment quite like Ballard. And with Crash, his startling novel of 1973, he tackles the evident intersection of our prevailing psychological, philosophical, sexual and technological violence - so engrained is it in our modern age - in a way that nobody else has managed.
Crash is the definitive novel of technocentrism: where the blurring of our technologies and functionality is evoked through a cultural and political desert in the urban environment, revealing a society governed by the car and the - mostly sexual - violence we are left with. A crumbling world where we are dwarfed by a new machine age that has no real need for us - a world we are ill-equipped to understand as it leaves us standing - forcing us to worship its gleaming by-products and ignoring its manipulation of us. To put it simply: Ballard understands that modernity has left us to our own basal needs - and we're not coping too well.
Interwoven through this dazzling narrative is the palpable, all too human, presence of boredom. It is the glue that binds the sequence of events in Crash together: behind its synthesis of crumpled fenders, chrome headlights, semen, brake fluid and oil, Crash is a book about boring people who are simply bored; these people cling to the one thing they can control. The car is the symbol of a limited body, and through the motorcar - through its actual prostheses and a series of repeated collisions - these bored individuals can begin to understand the things ordinarily beyond their own control: sexual urges, the realisation of death, violence and desire.
Crash serves to remind us that we can never fully grasp the meaning of modernity. We are ruthlessly exposed as limited vessels in its presence. For me it is the most telling and damning novel of our age: in a world that is devoid of all meaning it is extremism that dominates as the prevailing alternative to the collective ennui that binds us together.
WASHINGTON — As the federal judiciary embarks on a historic revision of its rules against judicial misconduct, the panel of judges that's overseeing the drafting of new regulations refuses to disclose the public comments that could help shape the overhaul.
After requesting public comments about the proposed rules, the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability refuses to say how many responses it received, who commented or what was said.
"I have never heard of public comments being made confidentially," said Abner Mikva, a retired chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. "I'm trying to think of an explanation, but this strikes me as very strange."
What's known is that several chief circuit judges across the country are among those who weighed in, sparking speculation that the judiciary is debating the merits of the proposed rules, which would impose unprecedented oversight over how federal courts handle complaints.
Legal experts said they weren't surprised by the reticence to release the information. By tradition and necessity, the federal judiciary often weighs some of its most important decisions behind closed doors and without public input...
Thursday 25 October 2007
Friends of the Earth has today welcomed the news that EU Environment
Commissioner Dimas is for the first time proposing to ban two types of
genetically modified (GM) maize because of the risks they pose to the
environment. The environmental group is urging the whole of the European
Commission to put environmental safety first and support the proposed
The two GM maize varieties (Syngenta's Bt11 and Pioneer/Dow's 1507) are
engineered to produce a toxin (commonly called Bt) that is poisonous to
certain insect pests. However, scientific studies show that these GM
maize are toxic to certain butterfly species and may also affect other
beneficial insects and have long term negative effects on soil health.
The proposal is apparently based on clear scientific evidence proving
that the cultivation of these two GM crops has the potential to cause
environmental harm. Commissioners Mandelson (Trade), Verheugen
(Industry) and Fischer Boel (Agriculture) are among a small group of
Commissioners that are expected to oppose the proposal and the
application of the precautionary principle to this case.
Several scientists have recently published studies showing that the
effects of GM Bt maize are far from predictable and that their potential
risk is greater then previously thought. These studies demonstrate that
the current EU risk assessment procedure is not able to evaluate the
risks posed by GM Bt crops.
An announcement is expected shortly as to whether France will also ban a
Bt maize on similar environmental grounds.
In addition, during the World Trade Organisation dispute over GM
products, the EU had already argued that Bt crops should not be
currently grown because of the incomplete knowledge about their
long-term environmental impact. 
Friends of the Earth GM campaigner, Clare Oxborrow said:
"This is a major blow to the GM industry. For the first time there is a
European Commission proposal that GM crops should not be approved in
Europe - and crucially this relates to two maize varieties for
commercial growing. The Commission has raised serious concerns about the
environmental impact of growing these crops."
 See http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRU00606620071025
 For example:
* Recent research shows that GM crops producing Bt toxins could
seriously affect aquatic ecosystems, since pollen and agricultural
wastes from Bt maize enter streams where they may become toxic to
aquatic life. This toxicity pathway for Bt toxins has not been
* The level of Bt toxin produced by one of these GM varieties varies
strongly between different locations and between plants on the same
field. The reasons for these differences are not known. This raises
serious questions about the current capacity to assess the impact of Bt
toxins on the environment.
* Unexpectedly, another recent study found that one type of GM Bt maize
has significant higher amino acid levels compared to its non-GM
counterpart, which made it much more susceptible to aphid infestation.
Again this is another demonstration that Bt maize is subject to
unexpected and unpredictable negative effects.
(All references to the studies are available from Friends of the Earth)
 European Communities - Measures affecting the approval and marketing
of biotech products (DS291, DS292, DS293). Comments by the European
Communities on the scientific and technical advice to the panel. 28
January 2005. See Friends of the Earth summary:
Environment correspondent, BBC News website
the Earth's natural environment are in decline; and that the decline will
affect us, the planet's human inhabitants, in some pretty important ways.
Feel like you have heard it before? Of course you have, not least from the
So what, you might ask, is special about this report? Why is it worth any
more than a cursory headline glance before returning to the party?
Well, first there is the sheer scale. Hundreds of researchers from a huge
variety of disciplines have compiled, written and analysed its 572 pages;
thousands more have reviewed the various chapters.
Second, Geo-4 covers the whole range of environmental issues, and the
links between them.
In these climate-obsessed times, it is often forgotten that issues like
forestry, fresh water supplies, agriculture, biodiversity, and the spread
of desert land all connect to each other and to climate change.
READ THE REPORT IN FULL
In the language of James Lovelock's Gaia theory, the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that have punctuated 2007 allowed
us to take the planet's temperature; Geo-4 shows us what is going on in
the blood supply, the lymph system, the intestines and the immune
Third, it explores the links between social trends and environmental
decline in a way that is not often done. Which other body, for example,
asks whether the divergence we are seeing in the wealth of the richest and
the poorest is good or bad for the environment?
And fourth, it is a staging post on a journey which in principle the
international community embarked upon 20 years ago; a chance to see how
far society has come, and in which direction.
1987 was perhaps the year when the international community, through the
United Nations, began to sound as though it were serious about the
Our Common Future contained fine words, and fine sentiments; Geo-4
suggests they have not been acted upon... Full article >>
Scrapbook of memorabilia kept by CIA operative who buried Che renews attention to Guevara's execution, U.S. Role
Selling of history, including captured Cuban records,
intercepts and communications, raises questions about future access
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 232
Edited by Peter Kornbluh
Posted - October 25, 2007
Washington, DC, October 25, 2007 - As bidding begins today at 5:00 p.m. CST at the Heritage auction house in Dallas, Texas for a scrapbook containing a lock of Che Guevara's hair along with photos, captured documents, intelligence intercepts, and original fingerprints relating to the capture, execution and secret burial of the Argentine-born revolutionary, the National Security Archive posted declassified U.S. documents relating to his death 40 years ago this month. (Censored versions of some of the documents were first posted on the 30th anniversary of Guevara's execution, which took place on October 9, 1967 in Bolivia.)
The macabre memorabilia being auctioned off to the highest bidder were compiled by a Cuban exile CIA operative named Gustavo Villoldo, who was tasked to help capture Guevara and, after his execution by the Bolivian military, secretly bury him in the middle of the night. Before Guevara's hands were cut off, Villoldo helped fingerprint his corpse, and a "death mask"--a plaster cast of his face--was made as proof that the real Che had been captured and killed. The covert operative also clipped a portion of Che's beard as a memento of the CIA's triumph over Latin America's most famous revolutionary.
"This collection of memorabilia records one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of revolution and counterrevolution during the Cold War," said Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Archive's Cuba Documentation Project. "The documents and photos are of high value to current and future students of Latin America and U.S. policy toward the region."
The documents posted today by the Archive include secret memos to President Lyndon Johnson on Che's capture and death and a declassified debriefing with another CIA operative, Félix Rodríguez, who was present when Che was executed.
The government of Venezuela has reportedly expressed interest in bidding on the collection. Kornbluh said he hoped that whoever acquired the documents and scrapbook would make the materials available for public study or donate them to a museum.
... According to all these high paid "experts" on "mainstream" and cable
network television, anyone who has reasonable questions about what
really happened on 911 is not only outside the "mainstream" of
society, but would have been an advocate of Timothy McVeigh. Here's
just a few of these "fringe" wackos so maligned by the aforementioned:
Bob McIlvaine, father of Robert McIlvaine, Assistant Vice President,
Merrill Lynch, WTC North Tower, 106th floor. Interview by Evan
Solomon, CBC News 8/30/06: Bob McIlvaine: "I believe 100% that the
U.S. orchestrated 9/11 with the help of other agencies around the
world. But my blame goes to the United States because it happened in
the U.S. There's people within the U.S. that knew it happened, that
planned this to happen."
Bill Doyle - father of Joseph Doyle, Cantor Fitzgerald, WTC North
Tower. Article 8/6/05: "I honestly don't believe the government story.
During another interview, Doyle said: The 9/11 Commission is probably
the worst representation of the 9/11 Families or for that matter all
the American public because it's a sham. It really is.... We had tons
of different questions that we asked them to ask. They wouldn't do it.
And the continuing cover-up is just beyond belief... There's just such
a continuing coverup. And why don't we just let the information about
9/11 be known? And then maybe this conspiracy type of thing would go
away, but it's never going to go away or I don't think it can go away
because they were complicit..."
Michelle Little, sister of Firefighter David M. Weiss, FDNY, Rescue
Company 1, Midtown Manhattan, lost his life trying to rescue others
from the World Trade Center the day of the attacks. Press Conference,
National Press Club 9/12/06: "I am here today to call for the facts of
September 11, 2001 to be released to the American public. ... The time
is now to call upon all the Americans to lobby local media to cover
this story and to pressure members of Congress to support legislation
by reopening this investigation. We must hold those involved
accountable for this atrocious tragedy. My brother, David, and ten
brothers from his unit were murdered on 9/11. For them and for all of
our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles that
died that day, it is imperative for their lives to know the truth."
Lt. Col. Shelton F. Lankford, U.S. Marine Corps. Retired U.S. Marine
Corps fighter pilot with over 300 combat missions flown. 20-year
Marine Corps career. "This isn't about party, it isn't about Bush
Bashing. It's about our country, our constitution, and our future. ...
Your countrymen have been murdered and the more you delve into it the
more it looks as though they were murdered by our government, who used
it as an excuse to murder other people thousands of miles away. If you
ridicule others who have sincere doubts and who know factual
information that directly contradicts the official report and who want
explanations from those who hold the keys to our government, and have
motive, means, and opportunity to pull off a 9/11, but you are too
lazy or fearful to check into the facts yourself, what does that make
Barry Zelman, brother of Kenneth Zelman, Oracle Corp., on assignment
at Marsh & McLennan, WTC North Tower, 99th floor. Speech given at The
Citizens' Commission on 9-11, 9/9/04: "I just embrace people that
understand that four airplanes an hour and half between the first
impact and the second impact with zero military response in the United
States. It didn't happen that way. It couldn't have happened that way.
You're talking about the most intelligent agencies that we have on the
face of the earth. State of the art agencies ... And there was zero
military response? ...It's very transparent that our own president did
not want to investigate this tragedy. And I'm standing before you
today for one reason. The only thing that I can give my brother is the
truth. That's it."
Donna Marsh O'Connor, mother of Vanessa Lang Langer, Regus Business
Center, WTC South Tower. Press Conference, National Press Club
9/12/06: "This government has made me a victim of conspiracy theories
because they haven't answered fully, or allowed anyone to ask the true
questions of September 11th. And that's what I'm asking from you
[members of the media] today; for exposure. We are not crazy. We have
questions. We demand answers ...We're asking for a new investigation
into the events of September 11th and this time a truly bipartisan,
global--with families invested from the beginning, middle and though
out the end." ...
[Much here on the Lockerbie Pan Am 103 scandal and the conviction
of the Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.
For much more, see Wikipedia-Watch at http://www.wikipedia-watch.org .
See also these recent articles among others in our archives
Media Conspiracy: Vatican Mucked with Gerry Adams Wikipedia Entry
Media Conspiracy: Wikipedia being edited by CIA, Diebold, politicians?
sent by Daniel Brandt - Oct 23, 2007
Spies in Wikipedia
by Kiwi Bird
Translated from Russian
Published Sep 26, 2007 by Computerra magazine
Original Russian http://www.computerra.ru/magazine/333677/
In September of this year, the milestone of two million articles on the
English-language version of Wikipedia represents an impressive success
for the global Internet community. This is a grand and, most
importantly, freely-available source of information about almost
everything in the world.
However, if Wikipedia reflects the real world as it is, and given that
modern society includes a high level of activity on the part of secret
agents, it would be surprising if such agents ignored the ever-popular
"People's Encyclopedia." And they have not ignored Wikipedia, but have
tried to spin articles for particular purposes. This ranges from
varnishing the image of political leaders, to the use of disinformation
and cover for covert operations.
The interest of special agents and agencies in influencing Wikipedia
should not surprise anyone; it is simply a daily part of their official
duties. The scale and efficiency of their efforts on Wikipedia are not
surprising, but they stun untrained observers. At the same time, they
reveal to the mass media how international policy is pursued, and what
stands behind the war against global terrorism.
Google and other search engines have given Wikipedia articles high
rankings, often placing them at the top of the listings. It should be
remembered that the contents of these articles have already influenced
those who are not adept at pursuing objectivity.
American professor Ludwig De Braeckeleer is a nuclear physicist by
profession, who also researches government abuses of power and human
rights issues. He has been interested in the Lockerbie disaster for a
Curious details still surface today about the bombing in 1988 of a
Boeing 747 over Scotland, which killed 270 people. As more evidence
emerged, those who were following the case noticed that the
intelligence services of several nations were implicated.
De Braeckeleer also stumbled across something strange while searching
the web to prepare an article about Lockerbie. He wanted a source for
information about the infiltration of PFLP by the Israeli security
agency Shin Bet. (The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -
General Command was an early suspect in the Lockerbie case.) He
consulted Wikipedia, where he knew the Shin Bet connection had once
been noted, but there was no longer any trace of that information in
Wikipedia. The article itself (on Operation Entebbe) had been blocked
from editing. It is not unusual for disputed articles to be protected
from editing for certain periods. But normally this still allows access
to previous versions of the article, as is the case when vandalism is
reverted, for example. However, this time it was impossible to recover
the information. [De Braeckeleer reads better in the original English
For someone seeking the truth as meticulously as De Braeckeleer, this
was a red flag signaling that something was not right. The scientist
began to analyze Wikipedia and its articles on the Lockerbie case and
the tragic flight of Pan Am 103. This included the unjust, to say the
least, trial of Libyan Megrahi, who categorically denied his guilt and
was sentenced to life imprisonment. Despite Wikipedia's professed
"neutral point of view," all of its articles on the subject were
clearly biased toward the official viewpoint of the authorities. In
trying to determine who could be manipulating the facts, De Braeckeleer
came across a Wikipedia editor who used the pseudonym "SlimVirgin."
Many Wikipedia editors and administrators prefer to hide behind screen
names, and sometimes it is not difficult to discover their real names.
But this was not the case with SlimVirgin. This woman (her gender has
not been questioned) first appeared in Wikipedia in the Fall of 2004,
and since then has skillfully concealed her identity and whereabouts.
But she is not famous for that. She quickly understood the methods of
successful Wikipedia combat (learn the formal rules, and loudly accuse
opponents of violating the rules, so that an administrator can ban the
opponent from the debate). SlimVirgin began vigorously editing articles
within the scope of her interests. Among the first, it must be
emphasized, were articles about Pan Am 103 and ABC News journalist
Pierre Salinger, who had investigated the case. SlimVirgin's editorial
work progressed so well, and she observed the rules so perfectly, that
she gained the rank of administrator. This gave her the right to remove
users from the debate and from editing.
Of course, this created enemies and detractors for SlimVirgin,
including those who had been banned by her from participating in the
establishment of a "People's Encyclopedia." For example, a poll in the
famous forum Wikipedia Review awarded SlimVirgin the dubious title of
"most abusive administrator." At the same time, the numbers increased
among those who wanted to know the real identity of this cool and
mysterious woman who was hiding behind the guise of a "lean virgin."
===== LOCKERBIE ======
"A spectacular miscarriage of justice"
Many found the verdict of the Scottish judges, who decided that
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi had intentionally caused the death of
270 people, to be unconvincing and unfair. The international observer
appointed by the United Nations, professor Hans Koechler, called the
decision a "spectacular miscarriage of justice." He elaborated on the
inconsistencies and questionable evidence against Megrahi.
The "Libyan connection" had been questioned from the beginning, and
many demanded a new, independent investigation. However, all British
prime ministers, including Thatcher, Major, and Blair, spared no effort
to block such an investigation. Nevertheless, in 2005 a Scottish
appeals court began a procedure for reviewing the case, and so far
there is substantial information suggesting that U.S. and British
intelligence agencies forged evidence against Libya in order to isolate
that country. In particular, one of the key pieces of evidence in the
case against Libya -- a fragment from a printed circuit board of a
timer fuse -- was planted by CIA employees, according to the testimony
of a Scottish policeman. And engineer Ulrich Lumpert, from the Swiss
firm Mebo that produced timers ordered by the Libyan army, recently
admitted that he secretly provided a counterfeit board at the request
of American intelligence.
But if evidence of Libya's guilt was fabricated, then who blew up the
plane? Immediately after the disaster, Pan American Airlines hired the
detective firm Interfor, headed by Juval Aviv, a former
Israeli-intelligence Mossad operative. Aviv quickly discovered that Pan
Am flight 103 from Europe to America regularly carried heroin. This
channel for Syrian traffickers was covered up by the CIA in exchange
for intelligence on Palestinian militant groups in Syria. On the day of
the disaster, everything went wrong: terrorists who knew about the
channel replaced the suitcase containing drugs, which avoided security
screening, with a suitcase containing explosives. This version of
events was confirmed in 1990 by former Defense Intelligence Agency
operative Lester Coleman, who described Syrian cooperation with U.S.
intelligence services. After writing his book Trail of the Octopus,
Coleman was under severe legal pressure from U.S. security services. He
had to go into hiding and request asylum in Sweden, and became the
first American political refugee since the Vietnam War.
Next came a massive Internet hunt for bits of information that could
shed light on the mystery of SlimVirgin. The key role in her
identification was played by American researcher Daniel Brandt, known
for his site Wikipedia-Watch.org. He is also known for revelations
about misinformation published in Wikipedia about the Kennedy
assassination (the Seigenthaler case), as well as the identification of
another administrator. This was a professor of theology with two
doctorates named Essjay, who turned out to be an ambitious young
imposter named Ryan Jordan. The story of the painstaking investigation
of the SlimVirgin case would make a good chapter in a spy novel, but we
will go to the end because it is more interesting.
The consistency and credibility of the collected evidence leaves no
doubt that SlimVirgin is the screen name chosen by Linda Mack, now
living in Canada under the name Sarah McEwan. In the 1980s she was a
student in the philosophy department at Cambridge University. She
participated as a journalist in the investigation of the Lockerbie
attack, while playing an active role as an organizer of some close
relatives of the victims. Due to a series of events, strong suspicions
arose concerning Linda Mack's close links to the British security
service MI5, causing her to disappear from sight for a long time. Years
later she surfaced in the Canadian province of Alberta under the name
Sarah McEwan. Her email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) was the same
address that Cambridge showed for Linda Mack in its list of alumni.
The most important evidence was an involuntary confession by SlimVirgin
that she was Linda Mack. In the early 1990s, American journalist John K.
Cooley worked with Pierre Salinger at the London bureau of ABC News,
and was involved with the investigation of Lockerbie. In his email to
Brandt, he described how they hired an impressive and energetic Linda
Mack, who was eager to investigate the bombing. But after a while it
became clear that Linda was trying to push journalists toward the
official version of the story that accused Libya. It wasn't long before
a special unit of Scotland Yard raided ABC News and seized certain
materials. Because only a few people knew about the seized material,
Salinger realized that this was the work of Linda Mack, and he locked
her out of her office. ABC's efforts to fight the seizure were
unsuccessful in court. Daniel Brandt had already announced the
identification of SlimVirgin as Linda Mack publicly, and she knew that
he was about to ask John Cooley for information. She called Cooley as a
former colleague and asked him not to speak to Brandt. But her request
was late -- an email from Cooley to Brandt had already been sent.
These events occurred in Fall 2006. At that time almost no one was
interested in the identification of SlimVirgin, except for regular
visitors to the web forum Wikipedia Review . But at the end of July
2007, the above-mentioned professor Ludwig De Braeckeleer published his
article "Wikipedia and the Intelligence Services" at the South Korean
"civic journalism" site OhmyNews . He briefly recapped the key
points about the "People's Encyclopedia." This article was picked up by
the very popular forum Slashdot. Because of that, the OhmyNews
article was read by 50,000 people in three days.
Reaction to leaks
Whenever the work of intelligence services is punctured, the most
important information for analysis appears in the first days and hours
after the event. Those who know something inadvertently reveal
superfluous information, while those who are directly involved are
either keeping silent, or refute everything through quick and flagrant
misinformation. In the case of Linda Mack, it is impossible to
determine who knew what in the upper echelon of Wikipedia, but their
reaction fits all the characteristics of espionage leaks.
SlimVirgin slipped into a state of unconsciousness and has not shown
any signs of life for thirty hours. This is very unusual, because she
is known as an administrator with inhuman capacity for work. Over the
past year, she edited nearly 35,000 articles (about 100 every day,
without holidays and weekends). The same SlimVirgin also holds a record
of continuous editorial work lasting 26 hours, with the longest break
in editing not exceeding 40 minutes. These statistics from Wikipedia's
editing records suggests either a supernatural ability, or more likely
that SlimVirgin is a convenient smoke screen for an entire team of
specialists editing Wikipedia articles on behalf of intelligence
The "god-king" of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, rushed to protect the honor
and dignity of SlimVirgin, declaring the article by De Braeckeleer as
"really spectacular nonsense." A bit later in a special message to
readers of Slashdot, he stated:
"This story is demented and broken on so many levels, it is quite
difficult to know where to begin, even. Here we have an excellent
Wikipedia administrator who has been victimized by lunatic conspiracy
theorists, a private person who has absolutely no relation to the wild
stories that this article promulgates. Slashdot, you have been trolled."
But participants in the discussion were able to prove from the records
of Wikipedia that certain administrators, contrary to their own rules,
had completely removed editing evidence. Jimmy Wales had to admit that
yes, this is sometimes done, but only to protect the identity of
administrators or editors, who are often threatened with physical
======== Wikipedia and its rules ========
Like any online community, Wikipedia follows certain rules of conduct.
But because Wikipedia is a rather contradictory combination of normal
encyclopedia, panel discussions, and role-fantasy games, the rules are
intricate and ambiguous. For example, everyone knows the famous motto,
"The encyclopedia that anyone can edit." But in fact, anyone who wants
to fix or add something has to be liked by the administrator who is in
charge of that topic.
According to basic rules of Wikipedia, the articles should reflect the
"neutral point of view." However, some points of view are always more
neutral than others. One's point of view (POV) should be supported by
sources that are "verifiable" and "reliable" -- although "reliable" is
a constant subject of fierce disputes. But there is a clear taboo
against "original research," which are opinions that are not supported
by recognized authority.
Editing and overall policy in Wikipedia is conducted on the basis of
"consensus." In practice this means approximately the following: there
can be only one successful editor who is able, through flattery or
threats, to persuade the others. If someone wants to simply edit the
encyclopedia, he or she will quickly come into conflict with more
aggressive editors. That will end first with a temporary, and then a
total ban on participation.
The highest level of the Wikipedia hierarchy is called The Cabal, or
Clique. Becoming a member of the Clique means that one has
unprecedented authority, including the right to ignore the rules. But
to achieve such power, a person has to sell one's soul to the devil by
renouncing one's own views, and accepting the viewpoint of the Clique.
According to the head of Wikipedia, Jimbo Wales, The Cabal represents
the power of "some shadowy mysterious elite group of us to do things
that might not be possible for newbies."
- -from a satirical essay
The most curious reaction to the news of SlimVirgin's identity was
demonstrated by the English-language media: apart from personal blogs
and web forums, not a single word appeared in any of the major media!
Previous scandals such the Seigenthaler case, exposing Essjay, and the
WikiScanner program by Virgil Griffith, received wide coverage. But
there was silence about SlimVirgin, comparable to the silence on
classic themes such as UFOs and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
This year such themes have been completely ignored by major media, even
when new light is shed on these twentieth-century mysteries. First the
famous E. Howard Hunt, who personally participated in many covert
operations during the 1950s and 1960s, admitted before he died that the
assassination of President Kennedy was organized by U.S. intelligence,
in conjunction with the Mafia and top administration officials, headed
by Vice-President Lyndon Johnson. Several months later a notarized
deathbed confession by Walter Haut was published. In 1947 he was the
public relations officer at the 509th Bomb Group based in Roswell, New
Mexico. First he composed a press release about the crash of a flying
disc, and soon followed with a new release about a weather balloon. For
the rest of his life he gave evasive explanations of what was really
found, but just before he died he dared to tell the truth.
In the document he left behind, Walter Haut states that he not only saw
the wrecked spacecraft, but also the bodies of aliens recovered from
it. They had unusually large heads, and bodies the size of a
ten-year-old child. It is clear that the deathbed confessions of people
who participated in these extraordinary events deserve serious
attention. But the major media ignored both of them.
Moreover, the sensational confession of E. Howard Hunt did not even get
any space in Wikipedia's article on the assassination of John F.
Kennedy (at least it is mentioned in the article on E. Howard Hunt).
The confession of Walter Haut is reflected in the article about the
Roswell incident, but it lacks a direct reference to the document
published on the web. Thus, the conclusion: for important Wikipedia
articles, the content is gradually approaching the official information
available from traditional sources. It is more or less understandable
who is behind this. Everyone must decide for himself or herself whether
this is acceptable.
in the United States - despite strong evidence that he is innocent. In
his first British interview, he talks to Laura Smith about life in
solitary, how he has remained politically active, and why the Panthers
are still relevant today.
by Laura Smith
...In Abu-Jamal's company, it is easy to forget that you are inside prison
walls. As he talks, one is pulled into a world of urgent work that needs
doing, of debates to be thrashed out, of injustices to be tackled. With
characteristic eloquence, he calls Hurricane Katrina "a rude awakening
from an illusion", watching television "a profoundly ignorising
experience" and observes that much commercial hip-hop contains "no
distinction, except in beat and tone, to a Chrysler advert". "If the
message is, I am cool because I am rich, and if you get rich, you can be
cool like me, that's a pretty fucked-up message." On American politics,
he is damning. "You would think that a country that goes to war
allegedly to spread democracy would practice it in its own country."
Born Wesley Cook in the Philadelphia projects, he adopted the name Mumia
as a 14-year-old (later adding Abu-Jamal - "father of Jamal" in Arabic -
when his first son was born). The following year, aged just 15, he
helped found the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther party after
being handed a copy of their newspaper in the street. "I was like,
whoah," he says. "It just thrilled me. I was like, this is heaven. This
is great. Everything. It was the truth. Uncut, unalloyed. It was
everything. It fit me."
He spent long days helping with party activities, which included free
children's breakfast programmes and the monitoring of police, whose
corruption at that time has since become notorious (at least a third of
the officers involved in Abu-Jamal's investigations have since been
found to have engaged in corrupt activities, including the fabrication
of evidence to frame suspects).
Mostly, as the party's lieutenant of information, he wrote, gathering
stories for The Black Panther, the party's newsletter. "It was great
fun," he remembers now. "You worked six and seven days a week and 18
hours a day for no pay ... When I tell young people that now they are
like, what was that last part? Are you crazy, man? But because we were
socialists we didn't want pay. We wanted to serve our people, free our
people, stop the homicide and make revolution. We thought about the
party morning, noon and night. It was a very busy but fulfilling life
for thousands of people across the country. We were serving our people
and what could be better than that?"
Subject to relentless disruption by the FBI's Counter Intelligence
Programme, which targeted radical and progressive organisations, and
riven by internal disagreements, the Black Panthers imploded in the
early 1970s. For Abu-Jamal it was a personal tragedy. "Despair," he
says when asked how it felt. "A profound despair."...
Oct. 24, 2007
By one estimate from the Social Investment Forum, socially responsible funds held about $179 billion as of 2005. That was up more than tenfold from a decade earlier, according to the organization. But still it represents a sliver of the $9 trillion overall held in mutual funds at that time.
The socially responsible investing segment includes more than 200 mutual funds, the Social Investment Forum says, and it continues to expand with the introduction of exchange traded funds geared toward this investing audience.
Typically, socially responsible investing has been associated with liberal causes, such as human rights and the environment. But it also includes religious-oriented funds, many of which feature a conservative focus. These are sometimes referred to as examples of morally responsible investing, or MRI.
The LKCM Aquinas Funds, for example, seek to promote Catholic values by following investment guidelines set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Aquinas Funds screen investments for policies on issues such as abortion, contraceptives, human rights, gender and race discrimination and fair employment practices. The fund managers say they will try to influence a company's practices to reflect the bishops' guidelines, and if unsuccessful they may sell the investment.
[ ... ]
Once a person has settled on general principles to follow, an investor should not get too hung up on exact screening procedures for broadly screened social mutual funds.
"They're all a little bit different in their criteria. It's not that big a deal unless you have some belief you want to be strict about," Wheat said.
Once done with that process, Wheat says they should consider the same factors as with other mutual funds, such as performance.
In general, socially responsible funds are higher cost than otherwise comparable funds, according to Morningstar. That is partly because of the expenses associated with the screening process and partly because many of the funds are run by smaller investment firms.
As a whole, such funds do just as well as other mutual funds over the long term, says Morningstar.
Full article >>
Oil Prices Surge on Inventory Report
Wednesday October 24, 6:08 pm ET
By John Wilen, AP Business Writer
Crude supplies fell last week by 5.3 million barrels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires, on average, had been expecting supplies to increase by 300,000 barrels.
"We haven't missed like this in a long time," said James Cordier, president of Liberty Treading Group in Tampa, Fla.
Analysts said the decline was particularly surprising because refineries are shutting down for seasonal maintenance, processing less crude. Refinery activity fell during the week ended Oct. 19 by 0.2 percentage point to 87.1 percent of capacity. Analysts had expected an increase of 0.3 percentage point... Full article >>
Merrill's loss its biggest ever
Merrill Lynch & Co. on Wednesday reported its first quarterly loss in
six years and the biggest in its 93-year history after the summer's
credit crisis triggered a larger-than-expected $8.4 billion in write-
The report sent the company's shares skidding $3.90, or 5.8 percent,
to $63.22, on the New York Stock Exchange.
The world's largest brokerage reported a third-quarter loss after
paying preferred dividends of $2.31 billion, or $2.82 a share,
compared with a profit of $3 billion, or $3.50 a share, a year
earlier. Wall Street expected a loss of 45 cents a share, according to
Thomson Financial, and the results were worse than the loss of 50
cents a share Merrill forecast earlier this month.
Merrill's write-down exceeded Citigroup Inc.'s $6.5 billion, and
increased to more than $30 billion the total third-quarter cost for
bad loans and trading losses reported by the world's biggest
securities firms and banks.
"It's safe to say this is the largest write-down" by a U.S. securities
firm, said Charles Geisst, a finance professor at Manhattan College in
Riverdale, N.Y., and author of "100 Years of Wall Street."
"The only other time we had such big losses was the Third World debt
crisis in the 1980s. Even then, the losses didn't match this one." ...
Worse than Chernobyl: 'dirty timebomb' ticking in a rusting Russian nuclear dump threatens Europe
20,000 discarded uranium fuel rods stored in the Arctic Circle are corroding. The possible result? Detonation of a massive radioactive bomb experts say could rival the 1986 disaster. By Rachel Shields
A decaying Russian nuclear dump inside the Arctic Circle is threatening to catch fire or explode, turning it into a "dirty bomb" that could impact the whole of northern Europe, including the British Isles.
Experts are warning that sea water and intense cold are corroding a storage facility at Andreeva Bay, on the Kola Peninsula near Murmansk. It contains more than 20,000 discarded fuel rods from nuclear submarines and some nuclear-powered icebreakers. A Norwegian environmental group, Bellona, says it has obtained a copy of a secret report by the Russian nuclear agency, Rosatom, which speaks of an "uncontrolled nuclear reaction".
John Large, an independent British nuclear consultant who has visited the site, told The Independent on Sunday: "The nuclear rods are fixed to the roof and encased in metal to keep them apart and prevent any reactions from occurring. However, sea water has eroded them at their base, and they are falling to the floor of the tanks, where inches of saltwater have collected.
"This water will begin to corrode the rods, a reaction that releases hydrogen, a gas that is highly explosive and could be ignited by any spark. When another rod falls to the floor and generates such a spark, an enormous explosion could occur, scattering radioactive material for hundreds of kilometres."
Mr Large, who was decorated by Russia's President Vladimir Putin for his role in the salvage operation that retrieved nuclear material from the Kursk submarine in 2000, added: "This wouldn't be a thermonuclear or atomic explosion, as in a bomb, but the outcome is just as bad. Remember Chernobyl? If you had the right weather conditions and wind pattern, this would mean a radioactive cloud drifting over the UK."
The three storage tanks contain more than 32 tons of radioactive material. But the Kola Peninsula is littered with relics of Soviet nuclear facilities, housing more than 100 tons of nuclear waste - the largest concentration in the world.
Experts predict that a major explosion at Andreeva Bay could destroy all life in a 32-mile radius, including Murmansk and a sliver of Norway, whose border is only 28 miles away. But a much wider area of Norway, north-west Russia and Finland would be rendered uninhabitable for at least 20 years, and huge quantities of radioactive material would be dumped into the Barents Sea... Full article >>
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