1. “2) As a professor of Anthropology, do you feel that the public rejection of any alternative theory is symptomatic of human nature?
I don’t know what the public believes, so I don’t know if indeed the public rejects any alternative theories of what happened. I can say this, however. I’ve noticed that regarding what I believe to be human nature, humans are pretty much “herd animals” for the most part, and they have a tendency to want to believe what their neighbors–or members of their reference group, be it peers or others–believe whenever possible, and they are also usually relatively easy to manipulate through advertising techniques (appealing to unconscious desires relating to sex, status, and survival) as well as by the big lie, frequent reinforcement of a message, muddying the waters, etc.
3) What does the existence and propagation of the 9/11 myth demonstrate about American society? Is adhering to myths a reoccurring theme for us?
I think that much of “history” is composed of just such constructed narratives as the “official” 9/11 myth, and adhering to myths has been a recurring theme for many in the US, but also all over the world. People generally tend to accept what they hear the most, and what they get from the mainstream media, and what members of their reference group accept.
This is how humans are socialized to be humans and how they are enculturated to the cultural norms of their societies.”
2. “Last week in Tel Aviv, a judge imposed a $25,000 fine on three tenants who extended their balcony illegally by annexing 23 sq. meters (250 sq. ft.). Well, that’s not really a scoop. Illegal construction is a punishable offense everywhere, even if there are no immediate victims like in this case. Israel is a law-and-order state; you can’t just take an area and keep it.
Unless you are in the occupied territories, of course. There, taking possession of land and building temporary or stationary flats without any permission – and not just flats, but houses, neighborhoods, entire settlements – is not an offense but a Zionist and Jewish-religious duty. If it is done without any immediate victims, that’s fine. If it forces some Palestinians out of their homes or fields, that’s even better. Just like the tenants in Tel Aviv, the West Bank occupants will soon be paid a visit by the state; but whereas in Tel Aviv the visitors would take them to court, in the West Bank they would connect them to running water and electricity, and leave a few soldiers behind just to make sure the owners of the stolen land do not harm their security, or even their sense of security.”
3. “Obama Administration Demands Amnesia From Reporters Covering Gitmo
Jack Newfield, the legendary investigative reporter, once wrote that if government officials had their way, journalists would be “stenographers with amnesia.”
The “amnesia” part, at least, was generally considered a bit of an exaggeration.
But now, the Pentagon has banned four reporters from covering the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because they refused to forget something that had already been reported to the world.”
4. ” If Joe Lieberman’s anti-terror bill becomes law, the Times Square bomb will have worked
A draconian bill proposed by the independent senator would open a Pandora’s box of civil liberties issues
There is a legion of reasons why Lieberman’s planned law has outraged many, including the fact that it opens a Pandora’s box of civil liberties issues. It is also fairly clear that Lieberman and his Republican pals have only Muslim terrorists in mind with this sort of law. Would they have proposed it for rightwing Cuban-Americans who have sponsored anti-Fidel Castro terrorism? Or the many Irish-Americans who have supported IRA terrorists?
Megan McArdle, a columnist for the Atlantic, drew a parallel with America’s treatment of its mass murderers and serial killers: “Can someone explain to me – hopefully using graphs and small words – why Joe Lieberman is willing to share the precious blessing of American citizenship with Charles Manson, Gary Ridgway and David Berkowitz, but wants citizenship stripped from a guy who strapped some firecrackers to a bag of non-explosive fertiliser?”
5. “How Economic Recessions Cause Wars and Revolutions
This revolution-creating dynamic also spawns wars. Corporations demand that wages and benefits be reduced during a recession so that “profitability is restored.” This is the only way out of a global recession, since nothing is produced under capitalism if it doesn’t create a profit; and recessions destroy profit. But there are other ways to restore profits.
While corporate-controlled governments work to restore domestic profitability by attacking the living standards of workers, they likewise look abroad to fix their problems. A sure-fire way to increase profits is to export more products overseas, something Obama has mentioned in dozens of speeches. One way to ensure that a foreign country will accept/market your exported goods is by threatening them, or attacking them. An occupied country, like Iraq for example, was forced to allow a flood of U.S. corporations inside to pillage as they saw fit — an automatic export boom.
When the world market shrinks during a recession — since consumers can afford to buy fewer goods — the urge to dominate markets via war increases dramatically. These same shrinking markets compel international corporations, based in different nations, to insanely compete for markets, raw materials, and cheap labor. War is a very logical outcome in such circumstances. President Obama reminds us:
“The world’s fastest-growing markets are outside our borders. We need to compete for those customers because other nations are competing for them.” Having a giant military establishment to back them up enables U.S. corporations to be better “competitors” than other nations.
War also serves as a valuable distraction to an angry public which is demanding jobs, higher wages, health care, well funded public education, and taxes on the wealthy. Better to channel this anger into hatred toward a “foreign enemy.”
A common spin in the right wing coverage of BP’s oil spill is a gleeful suggestion that the gulf blowout is Obama’s Katrina.
In truth, culpability for the disaster can more accurately be laid at the Bush Administration’s doorstep. For eight years, George Bush’s presidency infected the oil industry’s oversight agency, the Minerals Management Service, with a septic culture of corruption from which it has yet to recover. Oil patch alumnae in the White House encouraged agency personnel to engineer weakened safeguards that directly contributed to the gulf catastrophe.
The absence of an acoustical regulator — a remotely triggered dead man’s switch that might have closed off BP’s gushing pipe at its sea floor wellhead when the manual switch failed (the fire and explosion on the drilling platform may have prevented the dying workers from pushing the button) — was directly attributable to industry pandering by the Bush team. Acoustic switches are required by law for all offshore rigs off Brazil and in Norway’s North Sea operations. BP uses the device voluntarily in Britain’s North Sea and elsewhere in the world as do other big players like Holland’s Shell and France’s Total. In 2000, the Minerals Management Service while weighing a comprehensive rulemaking for drilling safety, deemed the acoustic mechanism “essential” and proposed to mandate the mechanism on all gulf rigs.
Then, between January and March of 2001, incoming Vice President Dick Cheney conducted secret meetings with over 100 oil industry officials allowing them to draft a wish list of industry demands to be implemented by the oil friendly administration. Cheney also used that time to re-staff the Minerals Management Service with oil industry toadies including a cabal of his Wyoming carbon cronies. In 2003, newly reconstituted Minerals Management Service genuflected to the oil cartel by recommending the removal of the proposed requirement for acoustic switches. The Minerals Management Service’s 2003 study concluded that “acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly.”
The acoustic trigger costs about $500,000. Estimated costs of the oil spill to Gulf Coast residents are now upward of $14 billion to gulf state communities. Bush’s 2005 energy bill officially dropped the requirement for the acoustic switch off devices explaining that the industry’s existing practices are “failsafe.”
Bending over for Big Oil became the ideological posture of the Bush White House, and, under Cheney’s cruel whip, the practice trickled down through the regulatory bureaucracy. The Minerals Management Service — the poster child for “agency capture phenomena” — hopped into bed with the regulated industry — literally. A 2009 investigation of the Minerals Management Service found that agency officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.” Three reports by the Inspector General describe an open bazaar of payoffs, bribes and kickbacks spiced with scenes of female employees providing sexual favors to industry big wigs who in turn rewarded government workers with illegal contracts. In one incident reported by the Inspector General, agency employees got so drunk at a Shell sponsored golf event that they could not drive home and had to sleep in hotel rooms paid for by Shell.”
The same microbiologist, who declined to speak on the record and who recounted extensive fungus work at Fort Detrick, also stated that researchers at Israel’s Institute for Biological Research, located in Ness-Ziona about 20 km from Tel Aviv, have worked with the Cryptococcus gatti fungus. They also report that mysterious Israeli-American scientist Joseph Moshe, 56 years old, may have conducted covert studies with the fungus while he was recently living in California. This report concerning Moshe is especially interesting because Moshe was briefly in the international spotlight in 2009 when he was the subject of a spectacular chase and arrest by the LA police department and SWAT team, assisted by the FBI, Secret Service, CIA, US Army and several other unidentified federal officials. That highly unusual arrest has never been fully explained to the media, and the whereabouts of Moshe has remained unknown since its occurrence. Compounding the mystery surrounding the Moshe case is that there is another scientist named Moshe Bar-Joseph who works in Israel and who looks remarkably like Joseph Moshe, except that he is about 20 years older.
Why Moshe was pursued and apprehended by the police is a largely unanswered question. According to the Los Angeles media, which recorded the entire incident by helicopter and ground cameras, Moshe claimed to be “a former Mossad microbiologist” who had telephoned a police dispatch number before his pursuit and had made “threatening statements about the White House and the president.” Reportedly, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed this when he spoke with several Los Angeles reporters.
On August 14, 2009, several Los Angeles police cruisers and an unmarked armored vehicle pursued Joseph Moshe as he drove his red VW automobile several miles through downtown Los Angeles before his car’s engine was reportedly knocked out by an electromagnetic pulse. Moshe refused to exit his car when ordered several times by the police, and after the driver’s window of his VW was smashed out by a robotic arm and several rounds of tear gas and pepper gas were fired into the vehicle, he still remained behind the wheel, refusing to move. At the time, police officers on the scene were stunned that Moshe was able to withstand three tear gas shells and hosing with pepper spray without moving. Later that day, a Los Angeles law enforcement official said: “I can’t explain that; there’s no way to explain that.”
After his apprehension, Moshe was taken to the Patton State Mental Hospital and then to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles. Sometime about 60 days later, Moshe was quietly released and his current whereabouts are unknown. Since his arrest became public, reports about Moshe’s activities in the US have spread like wildfire, especially across the Internet. Many of these reports are unconfirmed, but a few come from credible sources and have linked Moshe to the grossly underreported outbreak of flu in the Ukraine.
Other reliable sources, including two former Fort Detrick biochemists, have also linked Moshe to a mysterious disease that is becoming alarmingly common in Vermont and other states, including California. The disease is known to have killed or incapacitated at least 10 to 20 rural dwellers and farmers. This disease is said to be Morgellons disease or “a rare, mutated form of Morgellons disease.” Former Fort Detrick scientists, speaking off the record, say that the disease is one that was “experimented with intensely” in the late 1960′s at several “test sites in New England.” Morgellons causes patients to suffer horrible skin problems as well as fatigue, confusion and serious memory problems, as well as joint pain and the strange sensation that pins and needles are piercing the body or that something is crawling beneath one’s flesh. Some researchers and physicians believe that Morgellons is actually a psychiatric condition called “delusional parasitosis.” Other physicians, who are familiar with treating the disease, say it may be caused by “an airborne, unidentified spore” and that it was developed in the laboratory from an affliction that was first identified in the 1700′s. Regardless of its origin, some researchers say that Morgellons is becoming “a very real medical problem in some parts of the country.”
8. “Obama’s natural choice of Kagan
It’s anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration’s lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority. The Obama administration is filled to the brim with exactly such individuals — as is reflected by its actions and policies — and this is just one more to add to the pile. The fact that she’ll be replacing someone like John Paul Stevens and likely sitting on the Supreme Court for the next three decades or so makes it much more consequential than most, but it is not a departure from the standard Obama approach.
The New York Times this morning reports that “Mr. Obama effectively framed the choice so that he could seemingly take the middle road by picking Ms. Kagan, who correctly or not was viewed as ideologically between Judge Wood on the left and Judge Garland in the center.” That’s consummate Barack Obama. The Right appoints people like John Roberts and Sam Alito, with long and clear records of what they believe because they’re eager to publicly defend their judicial philosophy and have the Court reflect their values. Beltway Democrats do the opposite: the last thing they want is to defend what progressives have always claimed is their worldview, either because they fear the debate or because they don’t really believe those things, so the path that enables them to avoid confrontation of ideas is always the most attractive, even if it risks moving the Court to the Right. “