Sunday, January 17, 2010

Edgar J. Steele Survives A Heart Incident... Barely

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." --- Mark Twain
The Road to Hell is Paved with Bailout Money
My name is Edgar J. Steele.
Life is funny. Death isn't. Trust me on this one. I died on November 21, 2009.
Ironically, just two weeks prior to my death I sent a message out to this list that said, in discussing my sabbatical from any sort of public speaking or appearance during the latter part of the year: "It actually has grown kind of fun to watch the speculation over whether or not I died this summer." It seemed amusing at the time. Little did I know.
On November 21 I was sitting in my study, reading, when I felt a little "pop" in my chest. I sat there for 15 minutes, fearing that I would pass out if I dared try to stand. Finally, I staggered to my feet, got help and rushed to the local hospital emergency room, where I was quickly diagnosed with a condition serious enough to justify being "choppered" to the nearest cardiac specialty hospital unit. In fact, they told me that I very likely would not live long enough to get there. Fortunately, there just happened to be a helicopter parked on the roof at that very time.
The surgeon's team met me in the elevator at the receiving facility and began work then and there, so far gone was I. My blood pressure had gone to zero - technically, I was dead. Nip and tuck, as they say, but somehow they managed to snatch me back. "Seconds," the surgeon later told me, was all that then separated me from eternity. I spent several hours on a heart-lung machine that day, then 9 days unconscious and on a respirator, then another two weeks in the ICU, barely able to move. It has been a long, slow, painful journey back.
Turns out that the 15 minutes I spent sitting at my desk when this first occurred likely saved my life. My surgeon remarked upon the extensive clotting at the point of rupture that served to direct the blood for a time, clotting that would not have occurred had I been moving around immediately.
I didn't have a heart attack, but what is called an "ascending aortic aneurism." The main artery, the aorta, blew out just where it exited my heart, kind of like a garden hose suddenly failing right at the faucet. The surgeon replaced a large section, together with the main heart valve, and has pronounced me "good as new." The odds of my survival were very, very slim - on the order of 3 or 4 per cent. No explanation as to why this happened. Some things just happen.
It wasn't my time, apparently. All my life, I have known that something important is coming - something I just have to live to see. It hasn't happened yet. I had a very significant dream about this when I was 4 years old. Big things are coming. I've told you this repeatedly.
So I have a good excuse for having been silent all this time, folks. Thank you for the inquiries and the kind words expressing support. Will I be back? Yes, eventually. Will I be just as acerbic? Probably worse. Familiarity breeds contempt. After I beat prostate cancer 12 years ago, I became very unimpressed with the disease when others contracted it.
Now that I have visited the land of the dead (sorry - no touchy-feely "near-death" experiences for me, not a one), I find that I am unimpressed with a good deal of the suffering that takes place in the world. Let me illustrate my lack of sensitivity for you: Have you noticed the similarity between the aftermaths of the Katrina hurricane and the Haiti earthquake? TV films show hordes of Blacks just standing around or looting and hurting each other, doing nothing except complaining about the lack of aid forthcoming from the rest of us. They could be cleaning up, digging out bodies, burying their dead, helping each other, just as seen in similar disasters at other times and in other places. But, no. Ask yourself why. Read my book for a detailed explanation.
Yes, I will be back eventually.
New America - an idea whose time has come.
My name is Edgar J. Steele. Thanks for listening. Please visit my web site,, for other messages just like this one. -ed
Copyright ©2010, Edgar J. Steele
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Intelligence Agencies Are Their Achilles Heel

Lynchpins hold the various elements of a complex structure together.
America's intelligence agencies are the lynchpins, used by the International Monetary/Banking Cartel to enforce their various agendas on the US government.
Decades ago, Congress lost control of our intelligence agencies, making a parody of the system of "checks and balances" envisioned by our founding fathers. Today, the foreign Monetary Cartel controls all three of our branches of government through their ownership of what has never really been "our" intelligence services.
Meanwhile, the Cartel's mass media deflects our attention away from the unconstitutional and secret powers of the underground intelligence community with petty exposes of how the K Street gang of lobbyists buy off our elected and appointed officials.
Do they really expect us to believe that what is reported on during the light of day exceeds thatwhich transpires during the dark of night?
The usual tools of enforcement used by intelligence agents on our elected officials and appointed bureaucrats are various, depending on what's needed: Fixing elections, bribes, blackmail, and assassinations are their usual instruments of forcing compliance from our national leaders.
Subvert a nation's intelligence services and you're one step from subverting a nation's government, something long ago accomplished by the International Monetary/Banking Cartel in America.
The thousands of outrageous and unconstitutional governmental orders, directives, laws, judicial interpretations, and actions taken by our federal government has made America no better than any other Banana Republic in history; for some time, we've been ruled by a self-appointed, corrupt and exceedingly small group of private financial oligarchs through their control of intelligence agencies. And as long as Americans continue to believe they live in a democracy, the longer this foreign Monetary Cartel will have their way with us.
The very first realization the majority of people must have to regain control of their respective nations is coming to know with certainty that the private Monetary/Banking Cartel, not only controls the central banks of the world, they own them. This ownership allows - probably no more than a few hundred financial capitalists - to create money, of any country, out of the thinest of airs, control all credit, and to then enforce into indebtedness all nations and peoples of the world.
Such edification, however, may prove to be difficult in a world wherein its super-power - the USA - is largely composed of people who believe the Cartel's US central bank - the Federal Reserve System - is a American federal government institution. The American government has more control over Federal Express than it does over the Federal Reserve System.
And before the American government can issue its own currency and credit (without debt), she must defang its intelligence community of sixteen bloated intelligence and security agencies, starting with the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency; but doing so will not be easy or without danger.
Toward the end of his term as president, John F. Kennedy swore he was going to tear the CIA into a thousands pieces: He paid the ultimate price for his patriotic intention. Disempowering US intelligence agencies will not be an easy job, as they have never been more powerful.
And under the cover of the "national security" ruse, intelligence agencies have grown even more influential and authoritative, as they turn us into a rogue nation, intent on destroying all of our liberties at home, while expanding our terrorist attacks on innocent people abroad, complete with the torture of our fellow human beings. One can only hope that the majority of Americans will stop opting for security over their freedoms.
Ben Franklin wrote, "They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
But ironically, the so-called "national security" and "consumer protection" measures taken by the US government have made our country more insecure than ever before in our history. From a plummeting economy, to wide-open borders, to dangerous full-body scanners, to poisonous vaccines, to chemtrails, to GMO foods, to the loss of habeas corpus, to the bombing of women and children, to the depleted uranium poisoning of our own troops (and the entire world), Americans have never been so insecure, all thanks to the ruling moneychangers of our world and their covert use of national intelligence agencies.
Robber barons have thrown us back into the Middle Ages and into a neo-feudalism, all superimposed with poisons, radiation, and a fascistic government, largely in the name of "national security."
But if we can defang the intelligence agencies, we will have defanged the nemesis of mankind - the alien, archfiends of the International Monetary/Banking Cartel. Intelligence agencies are their Achilles' heel - perhaps a small, but a potentially mortal weakness.
J. Speer-Williams

Haiti earthquake: death toll may hit 200,000

Anger has turned to violence on the streets of Haiti as survivors lose patience with the painfully slow process of getting international aid after the earthquake that authorities say may have killed 200,000 people.
Haiti's shell-shocked government gave the United States control over its main airport to bring order to aid flights from around the world and speed relief to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Trucks piled with corpses have been carrying bodies to hurriedly excavated mass graves outside the city but thousands of bodies still are believed buried under rubble.
"We have already collected around 50,000 dead bodies," Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, Haiti's interior minister told Reuters. "We anticipate there will be between 100,000 and 200,000 dead in total, although we will never know the exact number."

Around 40,000 bodies have been buried in mass graves.

Although doctors, rescue teams and supplies had been flying into the Haitian capital, Port au Prince, a series of bottlenecks meant aid was not getting to those who needed it most.

The sound of gunfire echoed around Port au Prince as looters fought over scarce food supplies, hijacked vehicles and raided a UN warehouse where 15,000 tons of food had been stockpiled.

Even the most stoic Haitians began to express frustration at the continued lack of help on the fourth day of their ordeal, and in one part of the capital corpses were piled up to build roadblocks in protest at the delays.

David Wimhurst, spokesman for the Brazilian-run UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, said: "They want us to provide them with help, which is, of course, what we want to do. But they're slowly getting more angry and impatient."

Brazil's defence minister Nelson Jobim, who spent two days in Port au Prince, said: "As long as the people are hungry and thirsty, as long as we haven't fixed the problem of shelter, we run the risk of riots."

The problem has been worsened by the complete destruction of Port-au-Prince's main prison, where almost all of the 4,000 inmates survived the earthquake and are now roaming the streets.

Rescuers have been told to stop work when it gets dark because of fears they will be attacked.

"Our biggest problem is security," said Delfin Antonio Rodriguez, rescue commander for the Dominican Republic. "Yesterday they tried to hijack some of our trucks. Today we were barely able to work in some places because of that. There's looting and people with guns out there, because this country is very poor and people are desperate."

Shaul Schwarz, a photographer for TIME magazine, said he saw at least two roadblocks formed with bodies of earthquake victims and rocks.

"They are starting to block the roads with bodies," he said. "It's getting ugly out there. People are fed up with getting no help."

Pierre Jackson, who is desperate for medical help for his mother and sister who both have crushed legs, said: "We've been out here waiting for three days and three nights but nothing has been done for us. What should we do?"

The main pinch point is at the small airport in Port au Prince, which lost its control tower in the tremor. It became so clogged with aid aircraft that many of them had to wait hours to be unloaded and it had to be closed to new arrivals for eight hours. A shortage of jet fuel also meant some could not take off again.

"There's only so much concrete," said US Air Force Col Buck Elton. "It's a constant puzzle of trying to move aircraft in and out."

Once supplies had been unloaded, blocked roads meant progress in getting them to where they were needed was desperately slow. "People have been almost fighting over water," said aid worker Fevil Dubien as he distributed water from a lorry in a suburb of Port-au-Prince.

The situation improved with the arrival of the American aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, with 19 helicopters on board, which will be used to transport supplies by air. The US is also sending more than 10,000 soldiers and marines to keep the peace.

Charities have managed to set up several field hospitals, and 17 search and rescue teams were picking through the rubble of collapsed buildings with sniffer dogs, pausing every so often to wait for aftershocks to pass.

Most Haitians, however, are still having to use their bare hands to search for survivors.

"We hear on the radio that rescue teams are coming from the outside but nothing is coming," said Jean-Baptiste Lafontin Wilfried, as he helped dig through the remains of an office building. "We only have our fingers to look for survivors."

The World Food Programme (WFP) said it was drawing up plans to feed two million people for a month.

Emila Casella, of the WFP, said: "The physical destruction is so great that physically getting from point A to B with the supplies is not an easy task. Pictures can get out instantly ... and that's important because the world needs to know. But getting physically tons and tons of equipment and food and water is not as instant as Twitter or Skype or 24-hour television news."

The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said "thousands" of people in Haiti were waiting for surgical treatment. The UN was looking at the possibility of using the national soccer stadium in Port au Prince as a base for a giant field hospital.

Meanwhile, with bloated corpses posing an increasing risk to public health, mass graves were being dug to get the bodies off the streets.

Aid workers from as far afield as China, France, Iceland and Venezuela are among those already deployed on the ground in Haiti.

Some of the wounded, including Spain's ambassador to Haiti and some staff from the US embassy, were taken to the nearby US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba – site of the controversial prison camp for terrorism suspects – for medical treatment.

Liony Batista, project manager of the charity Food for the Poor, said: "I don't think that a word has been invented for what is happening in Haiti. It is a total disaster."

‘Blazing ring' eclipse plunges Africa, Asia into darkness

A solar eclipse that reduced the sun to a blazing ring surrounding a sombre disk plunged millions of people in Africa and Asia into semi-darkness on Friday.

A combination picture shows the sequence of an annular solar eclipse as observed in Suining, Sichuan province, China

The spectacle, visible in a roughly 185-mile band running 8,060 miles across the globe, set a record for the longest annular eclipse that will remain unbeaten for more than a thousand years.

An annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun but does not completely obscure it, thus leaving a ring - an annulus - of sunlight flaring around the lunar disk.

The moon's shadow first struck the south-western tip of Chad and western Central African Republic at 5.14 GMT and then reached Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia before racing across India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China.

Local media in the affected areas issued warnings about the dangers of looking directly at the sun, but fascinated onlookers thronged streets to witness the celestial phenomenon.

In India, where the eclipse was visible from the southern-most tip, astronomers and curious spectators watched in awe, using sunglasses and even ultra-dark welding masks as day turned into darkness.

The maximum duration of "annularity" - the time the moon is in front of the sun -- was 11 minutes, eight seconds at 706 GMT, making it "the longest annular eclipse of the 3rd Millennium," according to Nasa.

Only on December 23, 3043 will this record be beaten, Nasa said.

Cuba is Missing...From US Reports on the International Response to Haiti’s Earthquake

There are only two US media outlets that have reported on Cuba’s response to the deadly 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti. One was Fox News, which claimed, wrongly, that the Cubans were absent from the list of neighboring Caribbean countries providing aid. The other was the Christian Science Monitor (a respected news organization that recently shut down its print edition), which reported correctly that Cuba had dispatched 30 doctors to the stricken nation.

The Christian Science Monitor, in a second article, quoted Laurence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense and now based at the Center for American Progress, as saying that the US, which is leading the relief efforts in Haiti, should “consider tapping the expertise of neighboring Cuba,” which he noted, “has some of the best doctors in the world--we should see about flying them in.”

As for the rest of the US media, they have simply ignored Cuba.

In fact, left unmentioned is the reality that Cuba already had over 400 doctors posted to Haiti to help with the day-to-day health needs of this poorest nation in the Americas, and that those doctors were the first to respond to the disaster, setting up a hospital right next to the main hospital in Port-au-Prince which collapsed in the earthquake.

Far from “doing nothing” about the disaster as the right-wing propagandists at Fox-TV were claiming, Cuba has been one of the most effective and critical responders to the crisis, because it had set up a medical infrastructure before the quake, which was able to mobilize quickly and start treating the victims.

The American emergency response, predictably, has focussed primarily, at least in terms of personnel and money, on sending the hugely costly and inefficient US military--a fleet of aircraft and an aircraft carrier--a factor that should be considered when examining that $100 million figure the Obama administration claims is being allocated to emergency aid to Haiti. Considering that the cost of operating an aircraft carrier, including crew, is roughly $2 million a day, just sending a carrier to Port-au-Prince for two weeks accounts for a quarter of the announced American aid effort, and while many of the military personnel sent there will certainly be doing actual aid work, delivering supplies and guarding supplies, many, given America’s long history of brutal military/colonial control of Haiti, will inevitably be spending their time ensuring continued survival and control of the parasitic pro-US political elite in Haiti.

Otherwise, the US has basically ignored the ongoing day-to-day human crisis in Haiti, while Cuba has been doing the yeoman work of providing basic health care.

But that’s not a story that the American corporate media want to tell.

James Turk-The US on the Cusp of Hyperinflation

Click this link ......

Peter Schiff - The Lunacy of Government

Click this link .......

Families face shock 20% rise in heating bills as gas giants cash in on Big Freeze

Families face record winter gas bills averaging £360 as power companies reap a huge windfall from the big freeze.

The 'big six' energy suppliers have refused to pass on a steep fall in wholesale prices to customers.

They are collecting a profit bonanza of £846million in a single month by charging over the odds to keep homes warm.

Householders have had no choice but to turn up the heat to cope with the coldest spell in 30 years, with snow and ice blanketing the entire country.

Domestic demand for gas over the last month is predicted to be 60 per cent higher than in a normal winter.

This increased consumption will result in average bills of £360 for the three-month period from November through to the end of January, compared with £300 a year ago.

Greedy suppliers decided to reduce the tariff to customers by less than 10 per cent - even though the wholesale price of gas came down by some 60 per cent between 2008 and 2009.

Separately, heating oil companies, which provide fuel to thousands of rural communities, have been accused of putting up their prices by more than 50 per cent since November.

The evidence of apparent profiteering has brought calls from consumer groups and MPs for inquiries by both the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading.

At the same time, there is a mounting clamour for a windfall tax from pensioner groups, Labour MPs, unions, think tanks and the Local Government Association, which represents councils from all parties.

Analysts at the suggest the bill in the coldest period over Christmas and New Year would have been at least £36 lower if suppliers had cut their prices by a further 10 per cent, as they easily could, before the winter began.

Multiplying this across the nation's 23.5million households suggests the big six - British Gas, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), RWE nPower, Eon, EDF and Scottish Power - are making an extra £846million in a month.

British Gas is on course for a rise of more than 50 per cent in annual profits

SSE recently revealed a 36 per cent increase in profits for the period before the temperatures plummeted. UK suppliers owned by German, French and Spanish firms are enjoying a similar bonanza.

The snow continues to cause disruption, as evidenced by this snow plough clearing thawing snow on the A66 in County Durham

The snow continues to cause disruption, as evidenced by this snow plough clearing thawing snow on the A66 in County Durham

Andrew Hallett, energy expert at the official customer body, Consumer Focus, said: 'As energy firms failed to fully pass on wholesale price cuts before winter they will be cashing in on the cold snap.

'Consumers are paying over the odds for their increased heating needs, giving a profits boost to suppliers.'

Joe Malinowski, founder of, said: 'This year's record winter bills will come as a real shock to many people particularly when you consider that wholesale gas prices fell by over 30 per cent in 2009 and are 60 per cent lower than their 2008 peak.

'In freezing conditions, turning down the heating is not always an option.'

Apart from the cost, there is a real threat to the health of elderly customers who are too scared to turn on their heating. It is feared the cold temperatures, which exacerbate many underlying health problems, could contribute to some 60,000 deaths.

The National Pensioners' Convention said: 'We know that energy firms are quick to put up prices yet very slow to bring in the reductions.

'Energy companies, particularly in this cold winter, will be making huge profits out of very vulnerable customers. That raises the serious question as to whether they should pay money back through a windfall tax to fund things like home insulation.'

The Local Government Association has argued the need to raise an extra £500million a year for ten years from both oil and gas firms to fund a massive home insulation scheme.

Christine McGourty, director of Energy UK, which represents the major gas and electricity suppliers, rejected allegations of profiteering and advised anyone struggling with bills to contact the supplier for help.

She said much of the gas being used this winter was bought up to two years ago, when wholesale prices were higher.

Millions set for council tax increase as black hole in local government pensions hits £60billion

Millions face higher council tax and cuts in services because the black hole in local government pensions has soared to £60billion.

Figures obtained under freedom of information show councils’ pension deficits have nearly trebled thanks to the recession.

Council tax bills in April next year will depend in part on a calculation of the size of the pensions black hole, due to take place this March.

The last survey in 2007 found that the deficit was as high as £23billion. A total of 83 out of 87 town halls were in the red on that occasion.

National Pensioners Convention demo London 10 September 2003

Black hole: Pensioners, pictured protesting in 2003, will be especially hit

Since then one in ten funds has conducted a new valuation which show deficits have grown by more than 280 per cent on average – in part due to stock market falls.

If this is replicated across all pension funds, next year’s valuation by the Government’s accountant will show a deficit of more than £60billion.

Since the scheme is part-funded by employer contributions – in effect money from taxpayers – homeowners could be left to carry the can.

The black hole is equivalent to £2,608 for each of the 23million council tax-paying households in England and Wales. The Government has written to town hall chiefs warning that council taxes may have to increase.

To avoid a big tax rise, councils may not be forced to ensure pension pots are 100 per cent funded. They also plan to raise the size of individual employee contributions and cap taxpayer contributions.

But the Liberal Democrats, who uncovered the figures, said such measures will only delay the crisis.

Work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb also warned pensioners could be worst hit by tax rises.

‘A failure to set aside enough money and run the scheme responsibly means millions of people could be faced with bleak service cuts or council tax hikes,’ he added. ‘Thanks to ministers sticking their heads in the sand many vulnerable people will suffer.’

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said the figures were ‘pure speculation’.

The £16bn raspberry: JP Morgan defies Obama by paying out billions in bonuses

Banking giant JP Morgan announced £16billion in pay and perks for staff yesterday, signalling the start of a bumper New Year for bankers.

The huge figure flies in the face of international efforts to curb excessive payments to financial staff, characterised by Chancellor Alistair Darling's recently unveiled supertax on bonuses.

The U.S. company said the amount was 18 per cent higher than a year ago, even though overall staff numbers have fallen slightly.

On average its 25,000 investment bankers around the world will pocket a pay package worth £232,194 each - but the big dealmakers would have earned several million.

JP Morgan Chase

Profits: Pedestrians walk past the JP Morgan Chase headquarters in New York as the company reported a big jump in net profit in the fourth quarter

Financial experts believe it is the first in a succession of handouts that will see more than £40billion paid out in the next fortnight.

Wall Street titans Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch are all due to reveal their profits and payouts next week.

It came as Barack Obama piled pressure on Mr Darling and Gordon Brown to come up with new ways of clawing back taxpayers' cash used to bail out the financial sector.

The U.S. president has announced plans for a levy to make American banks repay £55billion over the next ten years.

He denounced the 'obscene' level of bonuses and called for 'policymakers in other important financial centres to do something similar'.

The levy is expected to cost British banks operating there up to £ 10billion.

Jp Morgan
Hard line: President Barack Obama, shown here at a press conference with Vice President Joe Biden, is set to impose a bank levy

Tough stance: President Obama described bank bonuses, handed out by executives such as JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, as 'obscene'

Yesterday TUC general secretary Brendan Barber called for a tax on bank transactions to force financial institutions in this country to make 'a proper contribution'.

He said: 'These obscene bonuses paid so soon after the world's taxpayers had to rescue the banking system show that there is something fundamentally wrong in the relationship between banking and the rest of the economy.

'Banks are meant to support society, but instead taxpayers' support guarantees that whatever happens to the economy banks will continue to pay gigantic bonuses.'

It is estimated that the taxpayer-funded bailout of financial institutions in Britain cost £850billion.

Mr Darling's 50 per cent windfall tax on bonuses over £25,000 was announced with great fanfare in last month's Pre-Budget Report as a way of 'changing behaviour' in the City. The Chancellor said it would raise a relatively modest £550million.

But Downing Street yesterday stressed that it was instead a major revenue raising measure.

Mr Brown's spokesman repeatedly refused to condemn the JP Morgan payout, referring only to 'behaviour we saw in previous years' that 'was unacceptable'.

He added: 'It's for individual banks to make their decisions about how they wish to respond.'

Treasury officials are considering forcing the banks to pay £50billion into a crisis fund which would be used to stabilise the financial system if it got into trouble again.

The measure has already received cautious approval from Shadow Chancellor George Osborne.

‘World’s worst banker’ Sir Fred Goodwin quietly returns to business

He became the public face of the biggest banking crisis in a century: unashamed, unloved and, ultimately, unemployable.

Or so it seemed. Sir Fred Goodwin, the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive dubbed “the world’s worst banker” for his role in bringing the City to its knees, has quietly returned to corporate life in Edinburgh after more than a year in virtual hiding.

The Times can reveal that Sir Fred, blamed for the near collapse of RBS before it was rescued by a £20 billion taxpayer bailout, started as a senior adviser to RMJM, the world’s fifth largest architecture firm, before Christmas.

Sources close to the company confirmed that staff were told of the appointment yesterday afternoon. In an internal statement, Peter Morrison, chief executive of RMJM Europe, said: “In order to support our international expansion strategy, we have engaged Sir Fred Goodwin as an adviser to the business. I look forward to him becoming an integral part of our established advisory team.”

RMJM would not confirm how much Sir Fred, 51, will earn but it will certainly be less lucrative than his role at RBS. In 2007, a year before his actions almost caused the demise of Britain’s second-biggest bank, he had a salary of £4.2 million. He can, however, still look forward to a performance-related bonus.

Sir Fred’s decision to take over ABN Amro for £50 billion in 2007, despite warnings that RBS was overburned with debt, led to the catastrophic demise of the bank and the loss of about 20,000 jobs.

Nicknamed “Fred the Shred”, the engineer’s son from Paisley left RBS in November 2008 before taking his children out of school, leaving his £3 million house in the suburbs of Edinburgh and fleeing for a gated retreat on the French Riviera to escape a public backlash that resulted in the vandalism of his home in March.

Sir Fred has had numerous offers in the past few months, according to RMJM sources, but turned them all down. They said that he “warmed immediately” to their proposal. The position will involve assisting with international projects, particularly in Asia, where Sir Fred is well known from his banking days and where his reputation did not suffer the same battering.

Fellow Edinburgh architects expressed amazement at the appointment. “This is a guy who was once branded ‘The world’s worst banker’,” said one. “Why on earth would you want to appoint someone like that?” one said.

RMJM said that it thought long and hard before approaching Sir Fred. “Of course we recognised that this would be a controversial appointment,” an RMJM source said. “But we saw an advantage in recruiting someone with global business experience who had demonstrated a proven ability in business acquisitions to help us to develop our international markets. Do international people view Sir Fred in the same way as he is seen by the media? I don’t think so.” Mr Morrison, the chief executive, consulted significant clients and international contacts before approaching Sir Fred. New colleagues who have begun working with him said that he is “a dream to work with”, according to RMJM.

Sir Fred was forced to apologise to the Treasury Select Committee and was told in May to hand back a further £210,000 a year from a pension pot that had already been reduced from £555,000 to £342,500.

RMJM’s projects include the Scottish Parliament building, the Dubai International Convention Centre and the Beijing Olympic Green Convention Centre.

Job descriptions

What Sir Fred did at RBS Chief executive 2000-2008

Salary: £4.2 million in 2007

Pension: £703,000 a year, later reduced to £342,500

Job description: Running one of the largest banks in the world CV highlights Acquisition spree, buying stakes in 26 banks in seven years. Sacked thousands of employees as part of cost-stripping exercise. An ill-fated £50 billion takeover of ABN Amro in 2007, despite warnings that RBS was over-indebted

What he will do at RMJM Senior adviser to architectural firm that designed the Scottish Parliament building

Salary: Unknown, but he will receive performance- related bonus

Job description: Business trips to Asia to expand RMJM abroad

Strategy meetings with members of RMJM’s panel of elite architecture experts

Canadian Labour from 1880-1920: United by War and Divided by Ego, but Outclassed and Overwhelmed by Capital –

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Winnipeg General Strike, 1919

At the turn of the 20th century, Canadian capitalʼs progressive attack on the sovereignty of the individual crossed boundaries of age, gender, ethnicity and occupation. Lacking the means to combat a covert propaganda war or the munitions to resist federal police, working-class opposition was generally ineffectual. Nonetheless, ideologues championed attempts to alleviate the suffering of poor and the oppression of wage workers. Battles were fought – often in vain – in attempts to secure a living wage, unemployment support and access to employment opportunities, but well-meaning social critics often unintentionally served the interests of capital. Traditional forms of racism, classism and chauvinism began to be scrutinized, but persistent infighting among working-class organizations weakened their impact and mitigated their ability to mount sufficient opposition to the ruling socio-economic paradigm. Lacking a cohesive voice, the cacophony of working-class grievances typically failed to seriously threaten capitalist dogma. Divisions in character and agenda polarized civic groups and unions, which further limited their ability to compel recognition in the public sphere. Squabbling among themselves, political progressives were unable to comprehend the scale of the oppression they faced. Like slaves bound in Platoʼs cave, hopeful reformers were unable to overcome myopias, and capitalists would prove efficient in exploiting these weaknesses to their benefit.

Canadaʼs second industrial period began in the 1880s, and ushered in the rise of monopoly capitalism.1 Consolidation of wealth would characterize a ʻGilded Ageʼ of ʻRobber Baronsʼ for the whole of North America. Deflation and ruthless pursuit of profits coincided with rampant wage reductions2 and the introduction of ʻscientific managementʼ methods.3 In response, working-class participation in the ʻmovement cultureʼ via oppositional labour organizations further expanded, and was exemplified with the regionalized popularity of the Knights of Labour and the Salvation Army.4

Utilizing religious rhetoric, the K of L and Salvation Army attempted to transcend traditional segregations based on race, gender and class by framing their social critiques with Christian metaphor and allying themselves with ʻrespectableʼ society, which they hoped would give greater weight to their ideas.5 Many ʻfreethinkersʼ had come to see the Christian church as tacitly endorsing capitalist interests, having been corrupted by its dependence on donations.6 Whereas the church might suggest workers concede authority to management, the K of L saw it as sinful to not support labour, and the Army saw it as amoral to ignore the poor.7 Both groups had their greatest successes in industrial centers, but were also among the first to make inroads in smaller Canadian towns.8 Operational and organizational methods were divergent, but both groups were hierarchical9 and egalitarian.10 The K of L hoped to organize men, women, skilled and unskilled labourers into an umbrella union capable of bridging differences and demanding attention.11 The Armyʼs ʻsoldiersʼ consisted of men, women, blacks, immigrants, skilled, unskilled and the unemployed.12 Women were welcome in both groups, but were routinely given roles of authority within the Salvation Army, while contemporary Victorian chauvinisms were more pronounced in the K of L.13 Through education14 and the application of producerist ideology, Knights hoped to stabilize wages15 and preserve the Sabbath.16 At social gatherings and strikes K of L intellectuals made appeals to rationalism,17 but the Salvation Army relied upon emotionalist revivalism and drew heavily from working-class popular culture to win ʻspiritualʼ converts.18 In pursuit of social salvation, the K of L successfully organized municipal and provincial political candidates, but was less effective in federal elections, where it was repeatedly defeated.19 The Army, content with personal salvation, never became political.20 Both groups mobilized significant class forces larger than themselves, but by the 1890s persistent economic difficulties, concerted capitalist aggression and paradoxical divisions in composition, agenda, and expression devastated both groups, leaving them pale shadows of their former selves.21

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) attempted to organize those who had previously been unorganized.22 With successive economic depressions, immigration and the completion of rail projects, unemployment was especially high23; but in 1905 the One Big Union arrived and membership was open to all, regardless of race, class, gender or profession. What further set the IWW apart from other radical labour organizations was its strong multiculturalism, militant insistence on a new social paradigm and acceptance of industrial terrorism.24 In Edmonton and Calgary during the depression years between 1913-1915, the IWW recruited unemployed, unskilled, unorganized, migrant and immigrant workers.25 These labourers were traditionally marginalized from Canadian society, lacked citizenship and were too transitory to engage the parliamentary process.26 Immigrants were habitually denied access to state-run support centers, and the unemployed were left to the churchʼs forced labour/indoctrination camps.27 The IWW organized these ʻmiscreantsʼ and provided life-sustaining social services in the hope that the organized threat of disorder could force concessions and relieve destitution.28 Similar to the K of L, Salvation Army and Charles McKiernan, the IWW strove to preserve the integrity of the individual with work and dignity instead of dependency and handouts.29 The IWW appealed to Christian morality, but was decidedly more secular than the Salvation Army and K of L.30 In IWW ideology, the capitalist drive for profits created unemployment and necessitated aggressive, class-conscious opposition.31 Strikes,32 marches33 and novel forms of protest34 were led by the IWW in attempts to draw sympathetic public support, but few were successful in providing long-term relief. A collaboration with the Socialist Party was attempted, but a lack of official recognition or progress probably contributed to fatal internal bickering.35 The IWW was occasionally efficient in mobilizing and transporting non-local protesters to regional conflicts, but local municipalities ignored the ʻinterlopersʼ and police might arrest IWW-mobilized protesters upon arrival.36 In response to the organization of the unemployed, capitalists enacted demeaning policies which created perpetual economic dependence. Capital-friendly authorities legislated retroactive deductions from the wages of homeless labourers housed in IWW shelters.37 A sister organization, the Unemployed League, was legislated into having to ask permission before holding meetings in public parks.38 Directly attacking the premise of the IWW, municipalities refused to recognize the unemployed as a group and would only address them individually.39 Neutered by constant defeats, confronting poor agricultural harvests40 and the politicization of World War I, the IWW and other humanitarian agencies were blocked from obtaining meaningful concessions and were reduced to begging for scraps.

North America experienced a massive immigration boom in the years between 1840-1920, and uneven distribution of immigrant workers contributed to regional economic turmoil.41 For many Canadians with entrenched racial prejudices, immigrants – who tended to segregate in ethno-centric communities – were second- class citizens.42 Complex psychological and economic factors contributed to the institutionalization of racist social policies.43 Gripped in a global financial crisis, Canadians hoped to secure jobs for citizens before immigrants by using nationalistic rhetoric to push for discriminatory employment practices.44 European immigrants were more easily incorporated into the Euro-centric Canadian milieu than Asians, who were permanently marginalized as foreigners and denied political rights.45 Immigration was especially contentious in British Columbia, where profit-mad capitalists imported tens of thousands of Chinese labourers to work at reduced wages. Aggravating delicate labour relations, contractors hired-out bountiful, cheap Asian labourers.46 Many unions saw immigration as a direct threat and attempted to restrict patronage to establishments that employed or served Asians.47 The Vancouver Trades and Labour Council periodically organized collective opposition to Asian immigration by pushing tax breaks for employers who adopted all-white hiring policies and demanding a substantial increase in the Chinese head tax, before calling for a ban on Chinese immigration in 1890.48 Racist bigotry dominated the social identity of many Canadians, but some reform-minded labour organizations recognized Asian immigrants as a commodity capable of being wielded in pursuit of economic concessions.49 The Communist Party of Canada was instrumental in organizing Asian workers under the Workerʼs Unity League50; however, Asians also chartered their own unions51 to organize opposition52 or provide unemployment support for Asians, who were ignored by provincial relief programs.53 Although recognition of the Asian labourersʼ concerns would take time,54 the growth of radical politics and poor economic conditions combined with increased Asian militancy to gradually improve inter-racial solidarity.55 Unfortunately, inter-ethnic cooperation was generally temporary and most labour organizations excluded Asians.56 This allowed capitalists and unsympathetic Asian employers to manipulate starving, impoverished Asian labourers into acting as strikebreakers,57 which undermined working-class opposition and depressed wages.

Capitalists also benefitted from the availability of exploitable female labourers.58 The impact of females within the wage economy was examined by an 1880s Royal Commission investigation into labour and capital. Politically necessitated by growing class conflict, the roving commission heard depositions across Canada, but gender issues were not recognized as a priority.59 Within the limited attention given to gender issues, testimony came from female labourers employed in textiles, shoe factories, matchmaking, tobacco and printing, but domestic servants and those employed outside factories were ignored.60 Fearing recrimination, women who testified before the commission presented conflicting views of the workplace. Women were more inclined to voice dissatisfaction with reduced salaries, unhealthy factories and victimization under employer embezzlement schemes if they testified anonymously.61 Framed by the prevailing culture, the commissionersʼ inquiries reflect paternal, moralistic chauvinisms. Assuming that sexual predation was prolific in factories, they ignored the economic exploitation of women. Among the staid commissioners, protecting women labourers from profanity was viewed as a more pressing concern than whether or not female labourers had a living wage.62 Also providing relevant testimony were smugly self-interested employers, who saw women as morally-impressionable, exploitable commodities63 dependent on men for guidance, security and identity.

The profit-driven feminization of the workplace accelerated between 1900-1930, and corresponded with an uneven application of ʻscientific managementʼ practices.64 Although regional in diffusion, urban office work attracted women from across the country. Female clerical work depressed wages for male clerical workers,65 but women typically lacked superior employment opportunities.66 Fundamentally unrewarding and formulaic,67 mechanized clerical work created a heterogeneous under-class of menial jobs.68 Women office workers were devalued through repetitive, standardized tasks, specialized division of labour,69 and a rigidly impersonal chain of command. Contrasted with male office workers, vertical mobility was rarely possible for women,70 but clear hierarchies separated office positions.71 An inter-industry comparative analysis illustrates stratification among and within companies,72 which seems to indicate additional competitive hierarchies unrelated to gender. The office thick with competition, insecurity and anxiety dominated their lives. With a living wage out of reach, female clerks faced constant attack from employers who rationalized reduced wages based on misogynist stereotypes. With their criticisms muffled by exclusion from many traditional craft unions, female labourers began flocking to radical organizations and progressive labour politics.

Following unrewarding consolidation under Laurierʼs continentalist liberalism during the 1880s,73 moderately reform-minded skilled and working-class labourers, francophones, farmers, Catholics and capitalists organized various labour parties to give political voice to skilled craft workers.74 Widespread public cynicism in the establishmentʼs integrity had reduced parliamentary participation.75 Ideologically committed to “libertarian and egalitarian democracy”,76 independent labour parties attempted to orchestrate a working-class renaissance through the voting booth.77 Thoroughly grass-roots, generally decentralized78 and lacking a codified dogma,79 labourism organized through community-based local precincts80 that grew into federalized campaigns to restrict the work week, extend franchise, install proportional representation81 and provide limited social welfare programs.82 Dominating working- class politics in Eastern Canada until the 1920s,83 labourism placed supreme value on ʻhonest toilʼ,84 advocated a biased view of ʻnatural justiceʼ,85 equated respectability with independence86 and was primarily secular.87 Far from radical, they had grandiose dreams of a gradualist social revolution88 induced through collective bargaining.89 Labourists believed “aggressive but not dominant action”90 could create a meritocratic society 91 and maintain their limited power over production. After rare provincial victories, labourists were corralled into liberal caucus92 and were unsuccessful in mitigating federal apathy.93

During WWI public discontent with high costs of living, institutionalized greed and legislative malfeasance combined with secure war-time employment and war-inspired democratic rhetoric to historically empower labourism with collaboration from Canadian Marxists and ethical socialists: “provid[ing] the ideological dimension of the unprecedented post-war upsurge of the … working class.”94 Labour became increasingly self-confident and aggressive in its pursuit of reform, but regional political attitudes towards industrial capitalism varied.95 Socialists had previously condemned labour parties as puppets96 – little men who surrender their own power in return for vicariously enjoying the stateʼs or partyʼs exertion of will.97 However, precedent led labourists to view small-scale industrialists as co-producers.98 The coziness was especially pronounced in Ontario, where escalating economic competition and tariffs galvanized alliances between labour and small-scale industrialists.99 Following the return of Canadian soldiers at the end of the war, employment security declined and capitalʼs consolidation resumed.100 Large corporations lacking incentive to concede power increasingly controlled the means of production, and craft workers were progressively marginalized. Labourʼs antipathy towards industrial unionism contributed to electoral defeats and fatal internal schism.101 There seems little doubt that capitalists watched with glee as labourʼs confidence in electoral reform dwindled and demoralization spread.

In 1917 working-class labourers all over the world were emboldened by the Russian Bolshevik Revolution.102 There was growing recognition that the global economy was corrupt, obsolete and in need of revision.103 Political parties and radical labour organizations attempted to capitalize on the growing revolutionary zeal, and the general strike came to be seen as the key to labourʼs emancipation from unchecked capitalist tyranny. With labour backed into a corner by capital-friendly legislation, the stage was set for an explosive confrontation that would shock the world and define Canadian labour relations for generations.
Winnipegʼs six-week general strike of 1919 grew out of trade workerʼs pursuit of collective bargaining and the right to a living wage;104 embodying the collective struggle against capitalist hegemony. The strike was organized by the Trades and Labour Union105 and the One Big Union, but Helen Armstrong and women labourers played instrumental roles. The city came to a stop after Helen persuaded female telephone workers to strike, which convinced many other labourers to join.106 Reduced wages and limited welfare options put female workers at substantial disadvantage, but Helen encouraged women to be extremely antagonistic towards strikebreakers.107 In response to the drain on profits, Winnipegʼs elite organized the Citizensʼ Committee of One Thousand to consolidate capitalʼs opposition.108 Following the dismissal of the police force, ʻspecial constablesʼ were hired and used in the violent suppression of strikers.109 For the first time in Canadian history, women were essential, proactive participants in labour resistance. The 1919 general strikes in Winnipeg and
Vancouver110 illustrated the power of labour solidarity and the ruthlessness of Canadaʼs oligarchy.

As labour struggled against the overt machinations of capitalism, covert offensives also eroded individual autonomy and dignity. In the years preceding and following WWI, global economic turbulence contributed to sporadic Canadian regional support for enforced public schooling. For many, schooling was seen as facilitating social and economic mobility.111 Working-class families dutifully assumed students might achieve economic autonomy and independence through education, but children were actually being thoroughly indoctrinated with mediocrity “with military precision” in “huge, mechanical, educational machines” that mimicked mills, railroads and prisons.112 By targeting the emotional development of children, capital played a long-term game that labour could not hope to understand, let alone compete with. Capital interests sought cross-generational hegemony113 and used sundry methods to achieve this goal.

The potential for Canadian labour solidarity accelerated from the beginnings of the ʻmovement cultureʼ through Winnipegʼs historic general strike. Women began to make inroads within multiple sectors of the wage economy, with suffrage looming. Classic ethnic barriers maintained racist and classist segregations of appropriate work, but immigrants, migrants, the unemployed and all previously unorganized found vehicles of voicing dissent. Canadian class-consciousness was obviously on the ascent. But this bias ignores the inescapable fact that labour faced an ʻimpossibilistʼ task: capital was increasingly successful in its quest to manufacture society, and repeatedly able to exploit signature weaknesses in labour organizations. The map for success was drawn; regrettably, the opponent was clever and far too mighty.

End Notes:

1 Palmer, Bryan. Working-Class Experience: Rethinking the History of Canadian Labour, 1800-1991. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1992. p. 117.
2 Ibid. p. 120.
3 Ibid. p. 160.
4 Marks, Lynne. “The Knights of Labor and the Salvation Army: Religion and Working-Class Culture in Ontario, 1882-1890.” Canadian Working Class History. Eds. Laurel Sefton MacDowell and Ian Radforth. Toronto: Canadian Scholarsʼ Press, 2000. p. 156.
5 Ibid. p. 166.
6 Ibid. p. 168, 171.
7 Ibid. p. 171.
8 Ibid. p. 159.
9 Ibid. p. 158.
10 Palmer. p. 122.
11 Ibid. p. 120, 131.
12 Marks. p. 161.
13 Ibid. p. 174-5.
14 Ibid. p. 158.
15 Ibid. p. 175.
16 Ibid. p. 167.
17 Palmer. p. 132-3.
18 Marks. p. 156, 171, 172.
19 Palmer. p. 139-40.
20 Marks. p. 171.
21 Marks. p. 177.
22 Schulze, David. “The Industrial Workers of the World and the Unemployed in Edmonton and Calgary in the Depression of 1913-1915.” Canadian Working Class History. Eds. Laurel Sefton MacDowell and Ian Radforth. Toronto: Canadian Scholarsʼ Press, 2000. p. 265.
23 Ibid. p. 269.
24 Ibid. p. 265-6.
25 Ibid. p. 266-7.
26 Ibid. p. 266.
27 Ibid. p. 272-3.
28 Ibid. p. 267.
29 Ibid. p. 270.
30 Ibid. p. 273.
31 Ibid. p. 268.
32 Ibid. p. 268.
33 Ibid. p. 270, 273.
34 Ibid. p. 266.
35 Ibid. p. 274.
36 Ibid. p. 280.
37 Ibid. p. 275.
38 Ibid. p. 274.
39 Ibid. p. 278.
40 Ibid. p. 285.
41 Palmer. p. 162.
42 Ibid. p. 162.
43 Creese, Gillian. “Exclusion or Solidarity? Vancouver Workers Confront the ʻOriental Problemʼ.” Canadian Working Class History. Eds. Laurel Sefton MacDowell and Ian Radforth. Toronto: Canadian Scholarsʼ Press, 2000. p. 293-4.
44 Ibid. p. 298-9.
45 Ibid. p. 294-6, 300. See also: Palmer. p. 186.
46 Ibid. p. 295.
47 Ibid. p. 298.
48 Ibid. p. 296.
49 Ibid. p. 299.
50 Ibid. p. 309.
51 Ibid. p. 302.
52 Ibid. p. 303.
53 Ibid. p. 306.
54 Ibid. p. 306.
55 Ibid. p. 295.
56 Ibid. p. 295.
57 Palmer. p. 124.
58 Lowe, Graham. “Class, Job and Gender in the Canadian Office.” Canadian Working Class History. Eds. Laurel Sefton MacDowell and Ian Radforth. Toronto: Canadian Scholarsʼ Press, 2000. p. 384.
59 Trofimenkoff, Susan. “One Hundred and Two Muffled Voices: Canadaʼs Industrial Women in the 1880ʼs.” Canadian Working Class History. Eds. Laurel Sefton MacDowell and Ian Radforth. Toronto: Canadian Scholarsʼ Press, 2000. p. 144.
60 Ibid. p. 145-6.
61 Ibid. p. 147-8.
62 Ibid. p. 149-152.
63 Ibid. p. 153.
64 Lowe. p. 382-3.
65 Ibid. p. 381, 388.
66 Ibid. p. 393, 400.
67 Ibid. p. 381.
68 Ibid. p. 393.
69 Ibid. p. 384.
70 Ibid. p. 389.
71 Ibid. p. 391.
72 Ibid. p. 392.
73 Heron, Craig. “Labourism and the Canadian Working Class.” Canadian Working Class History. Eds. Laurel Sefton MacDowell and Ian Radforth. Toronto: Canadian Scholarsʼ Press, 2000. p. 319.
74 Ibid. p. 319.
75 Ibid. p. 316.
76 Ibid. p. 320.
77 Ibid. p. 316, 319.
78 Ibid. p. 316.
79 Ibid. p. 318.
80 Ibid. p. 317.
81 Heron, Craig. The Canadian Labour Movement: A Short History. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company, 1996. p. 44.
82 Heron, Craig. “Labourism and the Canadian Working Class.” p. 325.
83 Ibid. p. 315.
84 Ibid. p. 325, 334.
85 Ibid. p. 324-5.
86 Ibid. p. 325-6.
87 Ibid. p. 327.
88 Ibid. p. 323.
89 Ibid. p. 321.
90 Ibid. p. 321.
91 Ibid. p. 324.
92 Ibid. p. 316.
93 Ibid. p. 322.
94 Ibid. p. 329.
95 Ibid. p. 329.
96 Ibid. p. 320.
97 Reich, Wilhelm. Listen, Little Man! Trans. Ralph Manheim. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974.
98 Heron. p. 323-4.
99 Ibid. p. 329-330.
100 Ibid. p. 331.
101 Ibid. p. 331.
102 Palmer. p. 189.
103 Heron. p. 320. See also: Building a Nation: The Notorious Mrs. Armstrong. Dir. Paula Kelly. 2001.
104 Palmer. p. 201. See also: Building a Nation.
105 Palmer. p. 202. 106 Building a Nation.
107 Building a Nation.
108 Palmer. p. 203. See also: Building a Nation.
109 Palmer. p. 204. See also: Building a Nation.
110 Creese. p. 302.
111 Heron. p. 324.
112 Blount, Jackie. Destined to Rule the Schools: Females and the Superintendency, 1873-1995. Albany: State University of NY Press, 1998. p. 39.
113 The ʻphilanthropyʼ of Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, John Rockefeller Sr., Henry Ford, et al institutionalized a systemic attack on individual potentiality: “In our dream … people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [cerebral and character- driven] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is a very simple as well as a very beautiful one … we will organize our children … and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.” (Gates, Fredrick. “Occasional Letter No. 1.” US General Education Board, 1906.)

VA clinic now concedes violations

In a dramatic about-face, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center has acknowledged that its troubled prostate cancer program violated federal radiation rules meant to protect patients from harm.

Just last month, Philadelphia VA officials disputed the finding of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigation that the hospital committed eight safety violations in its prostate brachytherapy program.

They did so despite an internal Department of Veterans Affairs review showing that 97 of 114 prostate cancer patients treated over six years at the hospital received incorrect doses of radiation.

Yesterday, Gerald Cross, acting undersecretary for health at the VA, changed course.

"I accept the violations," he wrote in a 12-page letter detailing the agency's latest position.

Cross said the failure by Philadelphia VA staff to identify and report the poor quality of treatments was "perplexing" and showed "a lack of safety culture."

Changes in the VA's position during the 19-month investigation bother Steve Reynolds, director of the division of nuclear material safety for NRC Region III, which oversees the Veterans Health Administration.

"If you look at the facts of the situation, they had major problems at VA Philadelphia," Reynolds said. "The doctors, the medical physicists, the radiation safety officer, the radiation safety committee - they weren't doing their jobs as we expected them to do."

Reynolds also said this was the first time in his more than 20-year career that a licensee had reversed its position after an enforcement conference.

Now, he said, the nuclear agency must resolve the conflict between what Philadelphia VA officials initially said last month and what the VA's Cross now says.

"This is no longer as clear-cut," he said. "They made it more complicated."

Still, Reynolds said the NRC would issue its enforcement action - ranging from a reprimand to a fine up to $500,000 - in the next several months.

Prostate brachytherapy involves implanting dozens of tiny radioactive seeds into the acorn-size gland to kill cancerous cells.

The Philadelphia VA treated 114 veterans with brachytherapy from 2002 to 2008, when problems were discovered and the program was shut down.

So far, 11 of the veterans have had recurrences of their cancer, and eight show signs of a possible return. In addition, nine of the men sustained radiation injuries to their rectums, according to the VA's latest information.

The treatment mistakes led to internal investigations, congressional scrutiny, the NRC probe, an ongoing review by the VA's inspector general, and a flood of legal claims.

Up to December, 31 veterans or wives have filed claims seeking a total of $58 million against the VA, according to records obtained by The Inquirer through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Several lawmakers who have investigated the cases said the VA responses were anemic. The lead physician lost his VA job when the program closed. Another physician accepted a three-day suspension, and a radiation safety employee received a letter of reprimand in her personnel file.

In his letter, Cross supported the VA's staff in one area. He reiterated the VA's intention to withdraw 78 of the 97 cases as reportable events worthy of concern.

However, even using new criteria to evaluate mistakes, as the VA proposes, would leave the Philadelphia hospital with 19 bad implants - a still-troubling 17 percent of cases.

Records show that the Philadelphia VA's program was deeply flawed from its earliest patients, and that doctors and officials repeatedly missed chances to correct it.

On Feb. 3, 2003, for example, the brachytherapy team implanted its ninth patient, planning to put 74 radioactive seeds into his prostate. A routine check after the implant showed that 40 of the seeds landed in the bladder.

In another case in 2005, 45 of the 90 seeds implanted in an 86-year-old veteran were put in his bladder and had to be extracted.

Some seeds ended up near the rectum, and the patient reported significant pain in urination, records showed. He was one of eight Philadelphia patients whom the VA sent to Seattle last year for reimplantation.

Both cases were reported to the NRC, which did not deem them to be violations.

In December, the VA used those earlier NRC findings as evidence that its radiation policies were not flawed.

The NRC's Reynolds rejected that. "It is troubling when a licensee says, 'Hey, you inspected me years ago and didn't find a problem; therefore, we must be OK,' " Reynolds said. "In this case, they just took it out of context."

An NRC report in November found the VA had committed eight apparent violations.

Those included failure to train staff on how to identify and report bad implants, a lack of procedures to ensure safe implants, and not reporting mistakes as quickly or fully as required.

But in December, at the NRC's predecision conference, the mood grew contentious when Joel Maslow, chairman of the Philadelphia VA's radiation safety committee, rejected seven of the eight apparent violations.

Maslow noted that the NRC had not found violations in the 2003 or 2005 cases, and said the medical center had found documents showing that the staff had been properly trained to identify and report medical events.

He said that the hospital had reported problems to the NRC, albeit months or years afterward.

"We reported what we knew when we knew it," he testified last month.

In a statement yesterday, Maslow defended his testimony as "valid and based on factual information." But he added, the VA's new "consolidated response is more complete and clearly the best way forward."

The VA's reversal yesterday also undermined testimony by Mary Moore, the medical center's radiation safety officer. Moore told the NRC that the brachytherapy program's staff had gotten training and that documents proved that fact.

But "the records do not support a conclusion that training documents were adequate," Cross wrote.

In a statement yesterday, Moore did not address those concerns. "I am committed to continue strengthening our program to ensure a safe environment for our patients and staff," she said.

Other observers said the VA hospital needed to acknowledge problems in its performance to move forward.

"It is about time for the Philadelphia VA to accept their outrageous mistakes in the treatment of our local veterans," said U.S. Rep. John Adler (D., N.J.), a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee. "Now, the Philadelphia VA is going to have to work hard to convince the thousands of brave men and women in our area, who served our country, that the hospital is getting back on the right track."

Medical center director Richard Citron said that is what he and his staff were trying to do.

In a statement, Citron said, "This was a terrible situation, and we are not happy if even one veteran did not receive the level of care he earned and deserves."

Met Office boss says winter forecasts have been 'very good indeed'

The head of the Met Office yesterday insisted that its recent forecasts had been "very good indeed", and blamed the public for not heeding snow warnings.

John Hirst also defended his £200,000-a-year salary as chief executive of the national forecaster, saying that his pay reflected the success of the organisation.

Mr Hirst dismissed complaints that the Met Office failed to alert the public about the extent of this week's snowfall as not "based in fact", and accused people of ignoring its warnings.

"When the snow came on cue, bringing a great deal of disruption with it, our advice seemed to have been forgotten," he wrote in an article for The Times.

"While we didn’t get the quantities of snow right everywhere, particularly over London and the South East, the forecast for snow and the areas that could be affected was correct.

"Indeed, if you look at our forecasts since this severe cold snap began in mid-December, the performance of the dedicated staff at the Met Office has really been very good indeed."

Mr Hirst did concede that there were problems with the Met Office's new long-term seasonal forecasts, which mistakenly predicted a mild winter and the "barbecue summer" that never was last year.

But he maintained that the Met Office was admired across the world for its short-term forecasts, which are now more accurate than ever.

The Daily Telegraph disclosed earlier this month that Mr Hirst received a 25 per cent pay rise last year for his role as chief executive, taking his remuneration including bonuses to between £195,000 and £200,000.

In the article he claimed that his package was justified because it was conditional on the Met Office hitting targets for accuracy and satisfaction. Mr Hirst added that the Met Office did not receive a direct subsidy from the taxpayer, although it does receive money from the Government for providing forecasts to departments.

Snow brought renewed chaos to much of the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, disrupting transport networks and public services after two days of thaw.

Afterwards a Met Office spokesman admitted they were taken by surprise by the amount of snow in the South East, and said that the system for issuing bad weather advisories and warnings would be reviewed.

The wintry weather is forecast to continue until April, although the main threat for the next few days comes from rising temperatures. The Environment Agency has warned of an increased risk of flooding in some areas as ice and snow continues to melt, with weekend rain expected to exacerbate the problem.

Black ice was blamed for a 10 car pile-up on the near Oldham yesterday which left seven people injured, and icy road warnings were in place across the country for Saturday.

Regulators Close 3 Banks In Minnesota, Illinois, Utah

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Three U.S. banks were shuttered on Friday night by state regulators, bringing the total number of bank failures this year to four, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said.

Two small banks were closed in Illinois and Minnesota and sold to other lenders, but the FDIC was unable to secure a buyer for a third failed bank in Utah and instead created a bridge bank to give customers time to transfer their money elsewhere.

In Illinois, state regulators shut down Town Community Bank and Trust in Antioch.

Town Community Bank and Trust, which only had ...

Missing Gold

A King's Ransom in Precious Metals Seems to Have Disappeared

This image is found on the website companion for the television documentary America Rebuilds under the section Uncovering Property. The page, entitled A Treasure in Silver and Gold, describes the vault as two levels of 3,000 square feet each. See the source for the full-sized image. The page credits images to Leslie E. Robertson and Associates.

The basement of 4 World Trade Center housed vaults used to store gold and silver bullion. Published articles about precious metals recovered from the World Trade Center ruins in the aftermath of the attack mention less than $300 million worth of gold. All such reports appear to refer to a removal operation conducted in late October of 2001. On Nov. 1, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced that "more than $230 million" worth of gold and silver bars that had been stored in a bomb-proof vault had been recovered. A New York Times article contained:

Two Brinks trucks were at ground zero on Wednesday to start hauling away the $200 million in gold and silver that the Bank of Nova Scotia had stored in a vault under the trade center ... A team of 30 firefighters and police officers are helping to move the metals, a task that can be measured practically down to the flake but that has been rounded off at 379,036 ounces of gold and 29,942,619 ounces of silver .. 1

Reports describing the contents of the vaults before the attack suggest that nearly $1 billion in precious metals was stored in the vaults. A figure of $650 million in a National Real Estate Investor article published after the attack is apparently based on pre-attack reports.

Unknown to most people at the time, $650 million in gold and silver was being kept in a special vault four floors beneath Four World Trade Center. 2

An article in the TimesOnline gives the following rundown of precious metals that were being stored in the WTC vault belonging to Comex. 3

  • Comex metals trading - 3,800 gold bars weighing 12 tonnes and worth more than $100 million
  • Comex clients - 800,000 ounces of gold with a value of about $220 million
  • Comex clients - 102 million ounces of silver, worth $430 million
  • Bank of Nova Scotia - $200 million of gold
The TimesOnline article is not clear as to whether the $200 million in gold reported by the Bank of Nova Scotia was part of the $220 million in gold held by Comex for clients. If so, the total is $750 million; otherwise $950 million.

There appear to be no reports of precious metals discovered between November of 2001 and the completion of excavation several months later. Assuming that the above reports described the value of precious metals in the vaulst before the attack, and that the $230 million mentioned by Giuliani represented the approxmiate value of metals recovered, it would seem that at least the better part of a billion dollars worth of precious metals went missing. (It is not plausible, of course, that whatever destroyed the towers vaporized gold and silver, which are dense, inert metals that are extremely unlikely to participate in chemical reactions with other materials.)

An article in The Sierra Times suggests that gold was recovered from two trucks in a tunnel under 5 World Trade Center, giving rise to suspicions that the trucks were being used to remove the gold from the vaults before the South Tower fell. 4 However, this report may have been based on an erroneous reading of other reports that describe the removal of crushed vehicles from a tunnel under 5 WTC in order to gain access to the vaults under 4 WTC to remove their contents. 5

Why is there this huge discrepancy between the value of gold and silver reported recovered, and the value reported to have been stored in the vaults? There are a number of possible explanations, from outright theft using the attack as cover, to insurance fraud. Until there is a genuine investigation that probes all the relevant facts and circumstances surrounding the attack, we can only speculate.

Obama Releases Pornographic Nude Family Photos

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Obama Lonely in Office, People Mag Says

Barack and Michelle Obama Open Up in Intimate Interview, Reveal that Sasha and Malia Now Feel at Home in White House

(CBS) First lady Michelle Obama's 46th birthday is on Sunday, just a few days before President Obama marks the first anniversary of his inauguration.

People magazine sat down with the first couple to talk about the past year.

Betsy Gleick, People's executive editor, filled "Early Show" viewers in on the candid session.

Gleick said the headline of the interview is that Michelle and Barack are optimistic about the country's direction, but that there are huge challenges ahead for the U.S.

"Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith pointed out that the president talked a lot about "being in the bubble" of the powerful office.

Gleick called Barack's words on the subject "touching."

"He just talked about the loneliness of the job. And some of the loneliness, he embraces. He realizes that he has big decisions that he alone needs to make," she said. "But he misses being out among regular people."

Smith said rhe People magazine photo spread is among the best he's seen of the couple.

Gleick said the pictures show the genuine affection between the President and first lady.

"They're comfortable," she said. "They have sort of taken to life in the White House. Their children have taken to life in the White House."

In fact, the interview also highlights the lives of Barack and Michelle's daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Gleick said there are several "adorable" anecdotes about the children getting adjusted to life in the mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue. She added the two girls seem as if they now view the historic residence home.

As for the presidential garden, Gleick said it's still an important symbol for Michelle in her fight against childhood obesity and self-sustaining food supplies.

"She tells us we're going to be hearing a lot more this year from her about childhood obesity and healthy eating for families."

The Deindustrialization of Tampa Bay

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Family of Secrets

Bonnie Faulkner hits broadcasting pay dirt (the dirt part is truly dirty) with this highly
disturbing series of Bush dynastic revelations from author Russ Baker, speaking about his new book,
Family of Secrets.

From the program notes, you wouldn't perceive just how disturbing the information is.

"Guns and Butter - "Family of Secrets - The Bush Dynasty"

"Family of Secrets - The Bush Dynasty" with investigative reporter and author, Russ Baker. The Bush family's extensive ties to intelligence; the Kennedy assassination; Nixon and Watergate; W's rise to power. Russ Baker is the author of Family of Secrets - The Bush Dynasty, The Powerful Forces That Put It In the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America."

After hearing the interview and reading the book, I suggest you find a priest, rabbi. monk, swami, shaman or whatever and consider seriously cleansing yourself. I am serious. The book is a must read for 9-11 activists because the anatomy of this family has deep ties to what happened on September 11, 2001. The dark ties go back, they move forward into the future. They must be stopped like Van Helsing pursuing Dracula. Only these dynastic vampires are real.

Find out who Russ Baker is and bring him into the orb of our media circuit, and do it today.

John Parulis

Green tea 'may block lung cancer'

Drinking green tea may offer some protection against lung cancer, say experts who studied the disease at a medical university in Taiwan.

The latest work in more than 500 people adds to growing evidence suggesting the beverage has anti-cancer powers.

In the study, smokers and non-smokers who drank at least a cup a day cut their lung cancer risk significantly, a US cancer research conference heard.

The protection was greatest for people carrying certain genes.

But cancer experts said the findings did not change the fact that smoking is bad for health.

Daily cuppa

Green tea is made from the dried leaves of the Asian plant Camellia sinesis and is drunk widely across Asia.

The rates of many cancers are much lower in Asia than other parts of the world, which has led some to link the two.

Laboratory studies have shown that extracts from green tea, called polyphenols, can stop cancer cells from growing.

But results from human studies have been mixed. Some have shown a protective effect while others have failed to find any evidence of protection.

In July 2009, the Oxford-based research group Cochrane published a review of 51 studies on green tea and cancer which included over 1.5 million people.

They concluded that while green tea is safe to drink in moderation, the research so far is conflicting about whether or not it can prevent certain cancers.

Reduced risk

Dr I-Hsin Lin, of Shan Medical University, found that among smokers and non-smokers, people who did not drink green tea were more than five times as likely to get lung cancer than those who drank at least one cup of green tea a day.

Among smokers, those who did not drink green tea at all were more than 12 times as likely to develop lung cancer than those who drank at least a cup a day.

Researchers then analysed the DNA of people in the study and found certain genes appeared to play a role in the risk reduction.

Green tea drinkers, whether smokers or non smokers, with certain types of a gene called IGF1, were far less likely to develop lung cancer than other green tea drinkers with different types of this gene.

Yinka Ebo, of Cancer Research UK, said the findings should not be used as an excuse to keep smoking.

"Smoking tobacco fills your lungs with around 80 cancer-causing chemicals. Drinking green tea is not going to compensate for that.

"Unfortunately, it's not possible to make up for the harm caused by smoking by doing other things right like eating a healthy, balanced diet.

"The best thing a smoker can do to reduce their risk of lung cancer, and more than a dozen other cancer types, is to quit."

Nations scrap orders for GSK swine flu jab

British drugs company renegotiates H1N1 deals with 'many governments'

The British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline has confirmed it is in talks with several countries keen to reduce their orders of its swine flu vaccine Pandemrix. The Belgian government yesterday became the latest to tell the company that it was paring back its requirement.

The health ministry in Brussels said it would be cutting its order by about €33m (£29m) after initially asking for 12.6 million doses of Pandemrix. The cancellation comes after a host of countries in the northern hemisphere told the pharmaceuticals industry that there was insufficient demand for the treatment. Britain, France, Germany, Spain and the US have all indicated in the past two weeks that they will be renegotiating their deals.

Demand for vaccines to combat H1N1 influenza has fizzled out because the pandemic has proven to be less aggressive than was first feared. Regulators who initially indicated that two vaccinations would be needed by each swine flu patient now say that one dose is sufficient. Analysts predict that European governments could return or cancel up to 50 per cent of what they ordered, which could reduce GSK's income from Pandemrix by £300m.

Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GSK, said in October that forecasts for about £1bn in sales of Pandemrix in the fourth quarter were "pretty close to being right". However, since he made his remarks a number of analysts have lowered the estimates. Credit Suisse, for example, cut its forecasts for GSK's 2009 and 2010 sales by $800m.

GSK issued a statement yesterday, saying it shipped 130 million doses of Pandemrix, worth £835m, in the final three months of last year. "Shipments of the vaccine continue to be delivered in the first half of 2010 and GSK is in ongoing discussions with many governments as their needs evolve," the company added. "This includes renegotiation of contracts with governments who have announced changes to their planned immunisation programmes, and with governments who have placed new orders for the pandemic vaccine. It is therefore too early to say what the final number of doses supplied and the value of these orders will be."

GSK pointed out that while sales in the northern hemisphere would be hit, countries in the southern hemisphere had yet to reach peak swine flu season. Drugs that were originally earmarked for countries such as Britain and Germany this winter could be re-routed elsewhere in the coming months.

Yet this could still be costly for GSK. Countries south of the equator are generally thought to be paying less for the vaccine. The company has disclosed that it charges clients on a sliding scale, from €7 a dose for developed countries, to providing the World Health Organisation with 60 million vaccines for free.

Earlier this week, GSK confirmed that German health officials had cancelled 30 per cent of its Pandemrix order, trimming it to 34 million doses. Meanwhile, the French health minister, Roselyne Bachelot, told French television last week: "I have cancelled 50 million doses. These orders had not been paid for or delivered so they are cancelled."

GSK insists that talks with France are ongoing. Ms Bachelot's ministry originally said it would need 94 million vaccines and ordered them from GSK, Sanofi-Pasteur, Baxter and Novartis. Baxter, along with GSK, has a contract to supply swine flu vaccine in the UK.

News of more cancelled vaccine orders came as the WHO hit back at claims that its H1N1 forecasts had been unduly influenced by the big drugs companies. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO director-general's special adviser on pandemic influenza, said yesterday: "The world is going through a real pandemic ... the description of it as a fake is both wrong and irresponsible".

His comments followed a claim by Wolfgang Wodarg, the chairman of the Council of Europe's health committee, that global drugs companies had influenced the WHO's assessment of the dangers of the H1N1 virus, calling the outbreak a "false pandemic"

Mr Wodarg said the WHO's campaign was "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century".

GSK also issued a robust rebuttal of Mr Wodarg's comments yesterday, saying: "Allegations of undue influence are misguided and unfounded. The WHO declared that H1N1 swine flu met the criteria for a pandemic.

"Responding to it has required unprecedented collaboration. As WHO have stated, legal regulations and numerous safeguards are in place to manage possible conflicts of interest."

Like Sheep To the Slaughter

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, at a Reuters Washington Summit in mid-October, acknowledged problems with the advisory system.
"The problem is a color code, or a number, or whatever, without information to people as to what it means, and what they're supposed to do, that's really where the frustration is," Napolitano said at the summit. "The code itself, absent a connection with real information, doesn't have much utility."
But that's just the point, really, isn't it? Americans aren't supposed to learn or care about what kinds of terrorist threats there are, nor why any of these threats exist. We're supposed to see a sign with pretty colors, and then react like sheep, get scared, and let the government take away a few more of our precious American civil liberties.

This is not hyberbole. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was pressured to use the terror alert system to scare the public into voting for Bush, who used this victory to continue the destruction of the rule of law and US civil liberties.
Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was "blindsided" by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.
This worked pretty well for a while. But now Americans are beginning to question why we are supposedly facing a never-ending existential threat from people who just don't like our movies or taste in music. They want details. They want to know why we are sacrificing American ideals and spending hundreds of billions of dollars fighting wars we can't win against people who shouldn't hate us.

Authoritarian rulers love to scare the people. But they're going to have to come up with something better than this pretty soon.

Ron Paul-We Are Blaming the Wrong People!

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US pouring 10,000 troops in Haiti

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US military leaders said Friday they would pour 10,000 troops in earthquake-battered Haiti in the coming days, warning that it was urgent to bring water and food to prevent deaths and unrest.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the top military chief, said that up to 10,000 US troops would be either in Haiti or offshore on six Navy vessels that will arrive by Monday.

"It looks like between 9,000 and 10,000 with the arrival of the Marines and the three ships that are associated with that," Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told reporters.

Mullen said that about 1,000 troops were already in Haiti including members of the 82nd Airborne brigade, who arrived late Thursday and were already delivering water from helicopters.

The US military has also sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, which will serve as a "floating airport" to bring in supplies and rush out victims as Port-au-Prince's airport struggles to function.

Massive US ship nears Haiti to join relief effort

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the security situation remained "pretty good" but that supplies needed to be delivered urgently.

"The security situation remains OK," Gates told the news conference.

"The key is to get the food and the water in there as quickly as possible so that people don't, in their desperation, turn to violence," Gates said.

"But at this point, other than some scavenging and minor looting, our understanding is the security situation is pretty good."

Gates defended the pace of US relief efforts, noting that the United States was dealing with a sovereign foreign government.

"I don't know how ... this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has," he said.

There were constraints on how fast aid teams and supplies could be ferried in, said Gates, citing badly damaged roads and the small size of airport.

"The collapse of the infrastructure in Haiti, the small size of the airport, the time it takes a ship to get from point A to point B -- those are all just facts of life," he said.

Asked why the military had not used air drops to deliver aid, Gates said such an operation could lead to riots without "any structure on the ground in terms of distribution."

"We are dealing with a sovereign country. The Haitians are still in charge of air traffic control at this point," he said.

President Barack Obama on Friday spoke for half-an-hour with Haiti's President Rene Preval, whose palace was devastated by the earthquake but was unhurt.

Air Force Colonel Steve Shea, who is coordinating logistics for the forces heading to Haiti, said the United States considered Preval to be in charge of operations.

But he said that Haiti had given the green light to US forces to install navigation systems at the airport and expand its capacity, after bottlenecks caused a suspension of flights on Thursday.

Shea said the United States was looking for an agreement on the use of Haitian airspace as more troops come in, pointing to the difficulties in coordinating relief flights coming in from around the world.

"It's a challenge because the international community is all on board to help out," Shea told reporters on a conference call. "We're looking for a memorandum of understanding so that it's respected on all ends."

Air Force Colonel Sid Banks, who also works in logistics, said that US authorities learned during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 the risks when groups arrive seeking to "just roll their sleeves up and get to work.

"A lot of times when you don't have a good command and control ... you're going to create chaos," Banks said.

Haiti theater of US interventions

The United States has a mixed legacy in Haiti. US forces invaded in 1915 due to instability in the impoverished nation, staying until 1934.