Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shooting from the Mavi Marmara: time for Israel to put up or shut up

Richard Lightbown looks at the continuing Israeli disinformation about the murder of aid workers aboard the Gaza-bound Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, on 31 May 2010 and challenges the Israelis either to produce the evidence to back up their version of events or to shut up and accept responsibility for their actions.

The inappropriately named Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) is reputed to have links with Israeli intelligence. On 15 September the organization published a report1 that was based in part on information from Şefik Dinç. Mr Dinç had been on the Mavi Marmara for the Turkish newspaper Habertürk and has written a book on the raid entitled The Bloodstained Mavi Marmara. At present the book is only available in Turkish. Although there is no reason to doubt the ITIC translations into English, one can certainly criticize the way ITIC has blended its own material with that of Mr Dinç. As they describe it in Section 5:

In some cases we verify those descriptions against the information we have on the confrontation.

In the words then of the late Iraqi arms expert, Dr David Kelly, the account has been “sexed up”.

Mr Dinç apparently is very critical of the Turkish government for not preventing the incident and blames the Turkish charity IHH for insisting on entering Gaza. There is no criticism in the ITIC version of his account of the state of Israel. In considering this one should not forget the legality here. The government of Turkey along with those of Greece, Sweden and Ireland had no reason to stop any of the ships which were acting lawfully. IHH and its partner organizations were legally entitled to enter Gazan waters since the Israeli blockade is unlawful (see report of the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission – the Hudson-Philips inquiry – plus previous statements from the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, Professor Richard Falk). As Iara Lee, an eyewitness to the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, described it

Under an illegal siege, the delivery of aid to civilians is a prohibited act; the intent of our humanitarian convoy was to violate this unjust prohibition.

The blame then for this tragedy must lie squarely with the government of Israel for applying an illegal blockade and ruthlessly enforcing it with the use of unjustified lethal violence by heavily armed troops against civilians. The International Terrorism Disinformation Center never makes these facts clear. Neither does it acknowledge that the defence of the Mavi Marmara, which was basically cobbled together in only a few hours before the attack, was a legal defence of a ship that was the victim of a well-planned, violent, illegal terrorist attack against the civilian passengers and crew.

The language used in the ITIC report betrays the bias. The defenders on the upper deck are twice described as using ”extreme violence”, but the term is never applied to the soldiers. True, the defenders ignored the stated aims of the flotilla and hit boarding soldiers with iron bars and wooden clubs, and hit them again as they lay on the deck. At least one soldier was stabbed. At least two were thrown onto a lower deck where only the intervention of other passengers prevented one of them from being thrown overboard. But one should remember that by this stage two passengers were already dead or dying from Israeli gunshot wounds and the passenger’s violence was certainly exceeded by soldiers who according to Mr Dinç killed nine civilians and injured 30 in about 20 minutes. ITIC apparently has no problem with this violence, or with the fact that the Israeli military initiated it.

The bias later becomes religious prejudice in a sentence in Section 6 which states:

Eight of them [the martyrs] belonged to Islamist Turkish organizations and not one of them was a peace activist or human rights worker.

(Contrary to this libellous assertion, details of the charitable and human rights work of these martyrs can be read on the IHH website.)

“…live fire began from the first [Israeli] helicopter before any of the commandos rappelled onto the deck [of the Mavi Marmara]. This is the version accepted by the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission, which also gave us the names of the two casualties killed by this initial fire before any soldier had landed on the upper deck.”

But the two most important points of controversy appearing in the ITIC report are the moment at which the Israeli soldiers began to use live fire, and whether the passengers used live fire at all.

On the first point, Section 4 states:

The author’s [Turkish journalist Şefik Dinç’s] description clearly shows that IDF [“Israel Defence Forces”] soldiers did not open fire until after other soldiers were attacked and taken hostage.

In Section 12 it appears that Mr Dinç is saying that the soldiers did not begin to fire live ammunition until after three of their colleagues had been taken below as captives. In other words soldiers on the deck did not commence firing until after they were attacked. This has never been denied by the passengers as far as I am aware. What has been asserted, and what Mr Dinç has not referred to (or the reference has been edited out), is that live fire began from the first helicopter before any of the commandos rappelled onto the deck. This is the version accepted by the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission, which also gave us the names of the two casualties killed by this initial fire before any soldier had landed on the upper deck.

On the subject of passengers’ use of firearms, Mr Dinç is never quoted by ITIC as offering support for this controversial accusation, which has been categorically denied by the captain along with passengers and reporters. Instead, an ITIC “verification” has been tacked on here in the form of two uncorroborated allegations in footnotes 7 and 8. There is also an allegation that a soldier was shot in the knee. The source for these very important claims is “According to our [ITIC] information…” This is the sole evidence provided for serious charges that passengers had brought at least one firearm on board which had then been fired at the soldiers along with three of the IDF’s own weapons. While this may be sufficient evidence in an Israeli military court on the West Bank, it is entirely inadequate for anyone seeking the truth on the flotilla raid. (Regarding the claim that passengers had fired four firearms at the soldiers, it should be borne in mind that one passenger is an ex-US Marine, and that standard IDF issue Glock semi-automatic pistols have a magazine of 17 rounds which fire as fast as the trigger is pulled. Yet apparently only one soldier was hit in the knee. One might be forgiven for thinking that Hollywood wrote more credible scripts for John Wayne.)

Unfortunately, these unfounded allegations are not new. The IDF has been making these uncorroborated charges since the raid, most notably by Gen Giora Eiland. Gen Eiland headed the nine-person panel of experts that produced a report for the IDF into the raid which reported that the commandos had acted properly. The report has never been released to the public. In a BBC Panorama interview with Jane Corbin, broadcast on 12 August, the general said:

We have very clear evidence that at least in four cases the other side did use live fire. In some of them were Israeli weapons stolen from soldiers but at least in one case they used their weapon, because we found bullets and shells that is not in use in the Israeli forces.

No photographic evidence was produced in support. No details were given. The bullets and shells have never been produced for independent analysis. There is only a scrap of audio material in a video on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website where a voice says in Hebrew that they are receiving live fire and the authenticity of this recording is in dispute. (This has been raised as part of a complaint of bias and lack of balance against the aforementioned BBC Panorama programme.) Gen Eiland’s “clear evidence ... in four cases” remains a phantom, and on the face of it a fraud.

(BBC Editorial Guidelines, under the section Impartiality and Diversity of Opinion, state:

We must rigorously test contributors expressing contentious views during an interview whilst giving them a fair chance to set out their full response to our questions.

Ms Corbin did not ask any supplementary question or make any attempt to cross examine the general on this very contentious view. The programme’s deputy editor subsequently denied that Ms Corbin had conducted a “limp interview”.)

Israel holds vast amounts of photographs and film footage, including its own infrared footage which would pick up gun discharges. Only small quantities of carefully selected material have so far been released. We have been shown photographs of weapons stashes from the Mavi Marmara consisting mostly of a variety of kitchen knives and standard tools such as hammers and pipe wrenches. The time is long overdue for the real evidence on the firearms to be produced. Israel should now put up or shut up.

There does of course remain the possibility (probably remote) that Israel has in fact produced credible evidence to the first international inquiry with which it has ever cooperated. The UN Panel of Inquiry, led by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, into the raid is due to report soon (and was originally scheduled to report in late September). Both the Israeli and Turkish governments have been providing evidence to the inquiry and it will be interesting to see how the panel reports. If it criticizes the raid it will be an embarrassment to both Binyamin Netanyahu who has already been lambasted about it by Tzipi Livni, and to Barack Obama who was trying to avoid an unfavourable inquiry by the UN Human Rights Council. If it exonerates Israel, Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s report will be compared unfavourably to the Hudson-Phillips inquiry, which has already declared that there is clear evidence to support prosecution for wilful killing, torture and causing great suffering. Sir Geoffrey’s previous record suggests that he will be taking his remit seriously and will not wish to be seen to impugn his integrity. (But it remains to be seen just how well he will be able to understand the facts from his ivory tower in the UN building in New York.) Either way the fallout could still be problematic for Israel and Mr Netanyahu, as well as certain programme makers at the BBC.

IMF admits that the West is stuck in near depression

If you strip away the political correctness, Chapter Three of the IMF's World Economic Outlook more or less condemns Southern Europe to death by slow suffocation and leaves little doubt that fiscal tightening will trap North Europe, Britain and America in slump for a long time.

Spain, trapped in EMU at overvalued exchange rates, had a general strike last week
Spain, trapped in EMU at overvalued exchange rates, had a general strike last week

The IMF report – "Will It Hurt? Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Consolidation" – implicitly argues that austerity will do more damage than so far admitted.

Normally, tightening of 1pc of GDP in one country leads to a 0.5pc loss of growth after two years. It is another story when half the globe is in trouble and tightening in lockstep. Lost growth would be double if interest rates are already zero, and if everybody cuts spending at once.

"Not all countries can reduce the value of their currency and increase net exports at the same time," it said. Nobel economist Joe Stiglitz goes further, warning that damn may break altogether in parts of Europe, setting off a "death spiral".

The Fund said damage also doubles for states that cannot cut rates or devalue – think Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Italy, all trapped in EMU at overvalued exchange rates.

"A fall in the value of the currency plays a key role in softening the impact. The result is consistent with standard Mundell-Fleming theory that fiscal multipliers are larger in economies with fixed exchange rate regimes." Exactly.

Let us avoid the crude claim that spending cuts in a slump are wicked or self-defeating. Britain did exactly that after leaving the Gold Standard in 1931, and the ERM in 1992, both times with success. A liberated Bank of England was able to cut interest rates. Sterling fell. The key point is whether you can offset the budget cuts.

But by the same token, it is fallacious to cite the austerity cures of Canada, and Scandinavia in the 1990s – as the European Central Bank does – as evidence that budget cuts pave the way for recovery. These countries were able export to a booming world. They could lower interest rates, and were small enough to carry out `beggar-thy-neighbour' devaluations without attracting much notice. We were not then in our New World Order of "currency wars".

Be that as it may, it is clear that Southern Europe will not recover for a long time. Portuguese premier Jose Socrates has just unveiled his latest austerity package. He has capitulated on wage cuts. There will be a rise in VAT from 21pc to 23pc, and a freeze in pensions and projects. The trade unions have called a general strike for next month.

Mr Socrates has already lost his socialist majority, leaking part of his base to the hard-Left Bloco. He must rely on conservative acquiescence – not yet forthcoming. Citigroup said the fiscal squeeze will be 3pc of GDP next year. So under the IMF's schema, this implies a 3pc loss in growth. Since there wasn't any growth to speak off, this means contraction.

Spain had a general strike last week. Elena Salgado, the defiant finance minister, refused to blink. "Economic policy will be maintained," she said. There will be another bitter budget in 2011, cutting ministry spending by 16pc.

Mrs Salgado has ruled out any risk of a double-dip. But the Bank of Spain fears the economy may contract in the third quarter.

The lesson of the 1930s is that politics can turn ugly as slumps drag into a third year, and voters lose faith in the promised recovery. Unemployment is already 20pc in Spain. If Mrs Salgado is wrong, Spanish society will face a stress test.

We are seeing a pattern – first in Ireland, now in Greece and Portugal – where cuts are failing to close the deficit as fast as hoped. Austerity itself is eroding tax revenues. Countries are chasing their own tail.

The rest of EMU is not going to help. France and Italy are cutting 1.6pc GDP next year. The German squeeze starts in earnest in 2011.

Given the risks, you would expect the ECB to stand by with monetary stimulus. But no, while the central banks of the US, the UK, and Japan are worried enough to mull a fresh blast of money, Frankfurt is talking up its exit strategy. It risks repeating the error of July 2008 when it raised rates in the teeth of the crisis.

The ECB is winding down its lending facilities for eurozone banks, regardless of the danger for Spanish, Portuguese, Irish, and Greek banks that have borrowed €362bn, or the danger for their governments. These banks have used the money to buy state bonds, playing the internal "carry trade" for extra yield. In other words, the ECB is chipping at the prop that holds up Southern Europe.

One has to conclude that the ECB is washing its hands of the PIGS, dumping the problem onto the fiscal authorities through the EU's €440bn rescue fund. That is courting fate.

Who believes that the EMU Alpinistas roped together on the North Face of the Eiger are strong enough to hold the rope if one after another loses its freezing grip on the ice?

Take the Before It's News 5-Minute User Survey for a Chance to Win a $100 Money Card

In the wake of a massive, country-wide campaign over at least two years, lending institutions are caving in to the fact that 'only God can create something out of nothing' by Tom Dennen

Creating debt on paper and then charging interest on it turns out to be unconstitutional.

Hard Journalism works and California attorney Ellen Brown proves it: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21285 " On September 20th, Ally Financial Inc., which owns GMAC Mortgage, the nation’s 4th largest lender, halted evictions and resale of repossessed homes in 23 states ..."

Why? Stories like these :beforeitsnews.com/story/199/739/Facing_foreclosure_Stay_put_-_legally:_Produce_The_Note.html and many others, mostly from bloggers including Mike Rivero at whatreallyhappened.com/ who has consistently supported this B4IN reporter's fight against the debt-based banking system that is tearing Europe apart today and about to shut down America.by burying the nation in debt 'created out of thin air'.

The voices against this crippling and tyrannical system of debt-created money are many and rising and my hat is off to one of the most articulate and persistent of them, Ellen Brown.

Watch the Press, the Real Press where this still applies:

"Trust in journalists depends on accuracy, fairness and a readiness to acknowledge mistakes and apologize for them … journalists should represent the governed, those without power, those without information - and that is no route to popularity with those who wield power." - Peter Cole, London Daily Mail.

Obama’s cave-in to Israel: letter suggests US not honest broker

Jonathan Cook considers the significance of a leaked letter from US President Barack Obama to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu which undermines Obama’s claim to be an honest broker and confirms suspicions that Netanyahu’s professed desire to establish a Palestinian state is insincere.

The disclosure of the details of a letter reportedly sent by President Barack Obama last week to Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, will cause Palestinians to be even more sceptical about US and Israeli roles in the current peace talks.

According to the leak, Obama made a series of extraordinarily generous offers to Israel, many of them at the expense of the Palestinians, in return for a single minor concession from Netanyahu: a two-month extension of the partial freeze on settlement growth.

A previous 10-month freeze, which ended a week ago, has not so far been renewed by Netanyahu, threatening to bring the negotiations to an abrupt halt. The Palestinians are expected to decide whether to quit the talks over the coming days.

Obama's promise to Israel

  • US veto of UN Security Council proposals on Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • No further extensions of settlement building freeze
  • Permanent Israeli military presence in occupied Jordan Valley
  • Permanent Israeli control of Palestinian borders
  • US to give Israel enhanced weapons systems, security guarantees and increase its billions of dollars in annual aid
  • US to create anti-Iran regional security pact

Netanyahu was reported last week to have declined the US offer.

The White House has denied that a letter was sent, but, according to the Israeli media, officials in Washington are privately incensed by Netanyahu’s rejection.

The disclosures were made by an informed source: David Makovsky, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a close associate of Dennis Ross, Obama’s chief adviser on the Middle East, who is said to have initiated the offer.

The letter’s contents have also been partly confirmed by Jewish US senators who attended a briefing last week from Ross.

According to Makovsky, in return for the 60-day settlement moratorium, the US promised to veto any UN Security Council proposal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the next year, and committed to not seek any further extensions of the freeze. The future of the settlements would be addressed only in a final agreement.

The White House would also allow Israel to keep a military presence in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, even after the creation of a Palestinian state; continue controlling the borders of the Palestinian territories to prevent smuggling; provide Israel with enhanced weapons systems, security guarantees and increase its billions of dollars in annual aid; and create a regional security pact against Iran.

There are several conclusions the Palestinian leadership is certain to draw from this attempt at deal-making over its head.

The first is that the US president, much like his predecessors, is in no position to act as an honest broker. His interests in the negotiations largely coincide with Israel’s.

Obama needs a short renewal of the freeze, and the semblance of continuing Israeli and Palestinian participation in the “peace process”, until the US Congressional elections in November.

Criticism by the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington may damage Obama’s Democratic Party unless he treads a very thin line. He needs to create the impression of progress in the Middle East talks but not upset Israel’s supporters by making too many demands on Netanyahu.

The second conclusion – already strongly suspected by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and his advisers – is that Netanyahu, despite his professed desire to establish a Palestinian state, is being insincere.

The White House’s private offer meets most of Netanyahu’s demands for US security and diplomatic assistance even before the negotiations have produced tangible results. For Netanyahu to reject the offer so lightly, even though the US was expecting relatively little in return, suggests he is either in no mood or in no position to make real concessions to the Palestinians on statehood.

The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported on 1 October that senior White House officials were no longer “buying the excuse of politicial difficulties” for Netanyahu in holding his right-wing governing coalition together. If he cannot keep his partners on board over a short freeze on illegal settlement building, what meaningful permanent concessions can he make in the talks?

The third conclusion for the Palestinians is that no possible combination of governing parties in Israel is capable of signing an agreement with Abbas that will not entail significant compromises on the territorial integrity of a Palestinian state.

“...without the Jordan Valley, the creation of a viable Palestinian state ... would be inconceivable. Statehood would instead resemble the Swiss-cheese model the Palestinians have long feared is all Israel is proposing.”

One US concession – allowing Israel to maintain its hold on the Jordan Valley, nearly a fifth of the West Bank, for the forseeable future – reflects a demand common to all Israeli politicians, not just Netanyahu.

In fact, the terms of Obama’s letter were drafted in cooperation with Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister and leader of the supposedly left-wing Labour Party. When he was prime minister a decade ago, he insisted on a similar military presence in the Jordan Valley during the failed Camp David talks.

Ariel Sharon, his successor and founder of the centrist Kadima Party, planned a new section of the separation wall to divide the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank, though the scheme was put on hold after American objections.

Today, most Palestinians cannot enter the Jordan Valley without a special permit that is rarely issued, and the area’s tens of thousands of Palestinian inhabitants are subjected to constant military harassment. B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, has accused Israel of a “de facto annexation” of the area.

But without the Jordan Valley, the creation of a viable Palestinian state – even one limited to the West Bank, without Gaza – would be inconceivable. Statehood would instead resemble the Swiss-cheese model the Palestinians have long feared is all Israel is proposing.

Social Security Administration Admits Social Security Can Be Cut At Any Time: Benefits Are Welfare Payments ; No Insurance

The Social Security Administration admits on its' own website that Social Security benefits can be cut at any time for any reason:
The fact that workers contribute to the Social Security program's funding through a dedicated payroll tax establishes a unique connection between those tax payments and future benefits. More so than general federal income taxes can be said to establish "rights" to certain government services. This is often expressed in the idea that Social Security benefits are "an earned right." This is true enough in a moral and political sense. But like all federal entitlement programs, Congress can change the rules regarding eligibility--and it has done so many times over the years. The rules can be made more generous, or they can be made more restrictive. Benefits which are granted at one time can be withdrawn, as for example with student benefits, which were substantially scaled-back in the 1983 Amendments.

There has been a temptation throughout the program's history for some people to suppose that their FICA payroll taxes entitle them to a benefit in a legal, contractual sense. That is to say, if a person makes FICA contributions over a number of years, Congress cannot, according to this reasoning, change the rules in such a way that deprives a contributor of a promised future benefit. Under this reasoning, benefits under Social Security could probably only be increased, never decreased, if the Act could be amended at all. Congress clearly had no such limitation in mind when crafting the law. Section 1104 of the 1935 Act, entitled "RESERVATION OF POWER," specifically said: "The right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of this Act is hereby reserved to the Congress." Even so, some have thought that this reservation was in some way unconstitutional. This is the issue finally settled by Flemming v. Nestor.

In this 1960 Supreme Court decision Nestor's denial of benefits was upheld even though he had contributed to the program for 19 years and was already receiving benefits. Under a 1954 law, Social Security benefits were denied to persons deported for, among other things, having been a member of the Communist party. Accordingly, Mr. Nestor's benefits were terminated. He appealed the termination arguing, among other claims, that promised Social Security benefits were a contract and that Congress could not renege on that contract. In its ruling, the Court rejected this argument and established the principle that entitlement to Social Security benefits is not contractual right.

Stuxnet Super Virus Also Attacked China

The latest super virus, Stuxnet, which attacked Iran’s Nuclear Facility, is reported to have attacked China too. Some of the industrial computing systems and their hardwares run by the Siemens software were affected by the Stuxnet worm. Now there is a fear shown by the US, that if the virus could hit China, then the United States is not missing on its list.

China has stated that there are almost six million industrial computing systems affected by the malicious worm, these machines are considered the most important part of an functioning industry. The Stuxnet virus aims only Siemens run industrial software which run machineries within a particular industry.

Stuxnet in known as a secret thief also, as after installing itself in an industrial computer, it reprograms the commands for a particular machine or hardware, and provides dangerous commands to them. In addition to this, it also steals sensitive information from the computing system and sends it to the server of the country where it has come from. Many countries around the world have buckled themselves to fight against his virus, as they have prepared anti-viruses that can neutralize the Stuxnet worm program.

Joseph Stiglitz: the euro may not survive

Joseph Stiglitz, one of the world's leading economists, has warned that the future of the euro is "looking bleak" and the fragile European economic recovery could be irreparably damaged by a "wave of austerity" sweeping the continent.

Joseph Stiglitz: the euro may not survive
Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize winner, warned that speculators are putting pressure on Spain

The former chief economist of the World Bank and a Nobel prize winner also predicted that short-term speculators in the market could soon start putting pressure on Spain, which is struggling with a large deficit and high unemployment. Last week, Moody's cut the country's credit rating from AAA to Aa1.

The former adviser to President Bill Clinton also says that the banking sector has gone back to "business as usual" too quickly and that there are still risks of another financial crisis despite some improvements in regulation.

Mr Stiglitz, now a professor at Columbia Business School, makes the arguments in an updated edition of his book, Freefall, on the credit crunch. In the new material, exclusively extracted in today's Sunday Telegraph, he reveals fears that governments around the world will attempt to cut their deficits too quickly and risk a double dip recession.

Tomorrow, George Osborne will outline the Government's latest plans for multi-billion pound public sector cuts to tackle the historically-high UK deficit. He has faced criticism that the Coalition is in danger of cutting too hard and too fast but the Chancellor has said that without a credible programme for getting the UK economy into balance, interest rates will rise and growth will be choked off.

"The worry is that there is a wave of austerity building throughout Europe and even hitting America's shores," Mr Stiglitz said. "As so many countries cut back on spending prematurely, global aggregate demand will be lowered and growth will slow – even perhaps leading to a double-dip recession.

"America may have caused the global recession but Europe is now responding in kind."

Mr Stiglitz warned that Spain, similarly to Greece, was now in the speculators' sights.

"Under the rules of the game, Spain must now cut its spending, which will almost surely increase its unemployment rate still further," he said. "As its economy slows, the improvement in its fiscal position may be minimal.Spain may be entering the kind of death spiral that afflicted Argentina just a decade ago. It was only when Argentina broke its currency peg with the dollar that it started to grow and its deficit came down.

"At present, Spain has not been attacked by speculators, but it may be only a matter of time."

Turning to the euro, Mr Stiglitz said that the different needs of countries with high trade surpluses, particularly Germany, and those running deficits such as Ireland, Portugal and Greece, meant that the single currency was under intense pressure and may not survive. He suggests that one way to save the euro would be for Germany to leave the eurozone, so allowing the currency to devalue and help struggling countries with exports.

"Countries that share a currency have a fixed exchange rate with each other and thereby give up an important tool of adjustment," he said. "So long as there were no shocks, the euro would do fine. The test would come when one or more of the countries faced a downturn."

Gerald Celente: Money junkies - When money is the only thing that matters

Click this link ........ http://tinyurl.com/2ah2amz

Doctor admits that most MDs know nothing about nutrition, health

(NaturalNews) Most people probably assume that their doctors know everything there is to know about health because, after all, they went through many years of medical school. But according to a recent New York Times piece written by a doctor, most medical schools teach few, if any, courses in nutrition, and most students graduate and become doctors with no sense of how nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining good health.

Even though most of the chronic diseases people face are related to poor diet, medical school training focuses largely on drugs, surgical procedures and other reactionary interventions instead. In fact, some medical schools do not even teach a single course in nutrition.

Back in the mid-1980s, the National Academy of Sciences published a report about the lack of nutrition education in medical schools, and advised that such schools begin offering at least 25 hours in nutrition education to their students. But a recent study published in Academic Medicine, a Journal of the Association of American Medical College, reveals that conditions have either remained unchanged or actually gotten worse.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill found that the average number of nutrition education hours offered by most medical colleges today has actually dropped by nearly half since six years ago. Today, only 25 percent of medical schools even offer the minimum recommended number of hours in nutrition education.

"Nutrition is really a core component of modern medical practice," emphasized Kelly M. Adams, registered dietitian at UNC and lead author of the study. "[Students] aren't getting enough [nutrition] instruction while in medical school."

For the past 15 years, UNC has been offering an online- and CD-ROM-based program that students can used to supplement their medical education. While the program has helped some, many medical school students still end up graduating with dismal knowledge in proper nutrition.

California Welfare Recipients Reportedly Spent Millions in Vegas, Tourist Hotspots

Welfare recipients in California reportedly have blown millions in government aid outside the state at tourist hotspots ranging from Las Vegas to Hawaii to South Beach -- even cruise ships.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that more than $69 million in welfare money was spent or withdrawn out-of-state since 2007, at hotels and restaurants and ATMs across the country. Of that, nearly $12 million was withdrawn in Las Vegas, some of it at high-dollar shops and casinos along The Strip.

The spending accounted for a fraction of the $10.8 billion California spent on its welfare recipients during that time period. The state does not require the aid to be spent inside California, though recipients are supposed to get permission to skip out on the program's job training requirement.

But recipients are supposed to prove they need the welfare money to pay for basic expenses. According to the data analyzed by The Times, nearly $400,000 was accessed in Hawaii -- including more than $70,000 on the ritzy getaway island of Maui and more than $2,000 on the tiny island of Lanai, where Four Seasons resorts are just about the only attraction.

The Times reported that in Las Vegas, nearly $9,000 was withdrawn at the Tropicana and nearly $8,000 at the Venetian. In Florida, more than $13,000 was tapped in South Beach. And more than $16,000 was withdrawn from 14 cruise ships from ports ranging from Beijing to Rio de Janeiro.

Click here to read the full story from the Los Angeles Times.

Do We Have a Right to Know If Our Food Has Been Genetically Modified?

Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

The FDA is close to approving genetically modified (gm) salmon. See this and this.

We know that at least some genetically modified foods may harm the environment. See this and this.

And serious questions have been raised about whether some gm foods might increase allergies or cause other health problems in humans. See this, this, this and this.

Indeed, as Mother Jones pointed out last week, gm salmon may itself increase allergies:

Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen called the company's food safety tests "woefully incomplete," and the group pointed out that the FDA approval panel is mostly comprised of GE [i.e. genetic engineering] cheerleaders, with no fish ecologists or allergists. Why's an allergist important? Because the company's own tests suggest that the new salmon could be much more allergenic than regular salmon.

In order to understand the allergy tests, a bit of backstory on how AquAdvantage salmon are made is necessary. First, genetic engineers create a "diploid" fish, meaning like people, it has two sets of chromosomes. Then, to make the final market product, they add genetic material from other fish and breed a new salmon with three sets of chromosomes—a "triploid" female that can't reproduce. AquaBounty researchers compared the allergenicity—or potential to cause an allergic reaction—of a control group of salmon to both the genetically engineered diploids and triploids. They found (PDF, see page 102) that the diploid salmon were 40 percent more allergenic than the control, while the triploid group was 19 percent more allergenic.

AquaBounty says that the triploids' allergenicity level wasn't statistically significant, and although the diploids' level is significant, it doesn't matter because only triploids will be sold. But Hansen of the Consumers Union finds a few problems with this argument. For starters, the test wasn't double blind, meaning the researchers knew which fish were part of which test group. Second, the sample size of triploid fish was tiny—only six fish in all. Third, although AquaBounty is going to try to turn all its market-bound fish into triploid sterile females, the process isn't perfect, and some 5 percent could end up as the more allergenic diploid. Especially scary when you consider that unlike the triploids, the diploids aren't sterile. So if they escaped, they could breed with wild salmon.

The FDA simply doesn't have enough information to determine whether AquaBounty's salmon are likely to cause more allergic reactions than their non-GE counterparts. But there is good reason to be concerned about the potential allergenicity of all GE foods, says Margaret Mellon, director of the scientist Union of Concerned Scientsts' Food and Environment Program. "You have this technology that allows you to essentially move proteins around from food to food," she says. "You can move a highly allergenic protein into a new food, and no one will know to avoid the new food."

Indeed, a 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who were allergic to Brazil nuts were also allergic to soy beans that had been implanted with a Brazil nut protein. There is also some evidence that even proteins don't usually cause allergies can become allergenic when they are moved to a new food. A 2005 Australian study found that mice who were fed peas containing a typically non-allergenic protein from kidney beans experienced allergic reactions.

Another worry is that potentially allergenic GE crops might "escape" into foods. In the late '90s, the pharmaceutical giant Aventis introduced StarLink, a genetically engineered variety of corn. StarLink was approved for sale in the US, but only for non-food uses, since it contained a potentially allergenic protein. But then, traces of it started turning up in food (most famously, Taco Bell taco shells), and 28 people claimed they had suffered allergic reactions to foods containing StarLink. Although the CDC later found no medical evidence that any of those people had an allergy to the corn, an EPA advisory panel acknowledged that the CDC's tests did "not eliminate StarLink...protein as a potential cause of allergic symptoms."

The bottom line: It's not that genetically engineered foods are inherently more allergenic than traditional foods, but transfering genes does make it more likely that allergens might pop up in unexpected places. "There can be a lot of unintended side effects when you do genetic modification, which means you have to test very carefully," says Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the watchdog group Food and Water Watch. "In the case of salmon, one test on six fish just seems very insufficient for something that will open the floodgates to other GE meat and fish."
Allergic reactions can - in a small percentage of people - be more severe than just a sniffle or stomach ache. Some people die from allergic reactions.

At least genetically modified salmon will be labeled as such, so people can avoid it if they wish. Right?


As the Washington Post notes:

The FDA says it cannot require a label on the genetically modified food once it determines that the altered fish is not "materially" different from other salmon - something agency scientists have said is true.

Perhaps more surprising, conventional food makers say the FDA has made it difficult for them to boast that their products do not contain genetically modified ingredients.

Unfortunately, stifling the ability of producers of traditional foods to tell consumers they are not using an additive is nothing new. For example, Monsanto has sued milk producers who labeled their product as not containing growth hormone.

Liberals and conservatives, progressives and libertarians should all be up in arms about this.

We have a right to know what we're eating.

Postscript: Farmed salmon contains less of the healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and more pollutants than wild salmon. See this and this. GM salmon will be farmed (unless it escapes into the ocean). So eating wild salmon may potentially be one way to avoid gm salmon, reduce exposure to pollutants, and increase healthy Omega 3s.

The reason that wild salmon has more Omega 3s than farmed salmon is that wild salmon eat Omega 3 rich foods. It is the same reason that grass-fed beef contains more Omega 3s than beef from cows fed corn, meat or other "modern" feeds. See this and this.

Eating Omega 3 rich foods can increase gray matter in adults and boost neurological development in children. Conversely, low dietary levels of Omega 3s in mothers can reduce their kids' IQ.

This is not entirely surprising, given that (1) our brains are about 60% fat, and (2) leading nutritionists say that humans evolved to consume alot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more), and that a low Omega 3 diet is a very new trend within the last 100 years or so

Big Pharma Scores Big Win: Medicinal Herbs Will Disappear in EU

Graphic source: Newsphiles.org

It's almost a done deal. We are about to see herbal preparations disappear, and the ability of herbalists to prescribe them will also be lost.

Big Pharma has almost reached the finish line of its decades-long battle to wipe out all competition. As of 1 April 2011—less than eight months from now—virtually all medicinal herbs will become illegal in the European Union. The approach in the United States is a bit different, but it's having the same devastating effect. The people have become nothing more than sinks for whatever swill Big Pharma and Agribusiness choose to send our way, and we have no option but to pay whatever rates they want.

Big Pharma and Agribusiness have almost completed their march to take over every aspect of health, from the food we eat to the way we care for ourselves when we're ill. Have no doubt about it: this takeover will steal what health remains to us.

It Begins Next April Fools Day

In the nastiest April Fool's Joke of all time, the European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products (THMPD) was enacted back on 31 March 2004.(1) It laid down rules and regulations for the use of herbal products that had previously been freely traded.
This directive requires that all herbal preparations must be put through the same kind of procedure as pharmaceuticals. It makes no difference whether a herb has been in common use for thousands of years. The costs for this are far higher than most manufacturers, other than Big Pharma, can bear, with estimates ranging from £80,000 to £120,000 per herb, and with each herb of a compound having to be treated separately.

It matters not that a herb has been used safely and effectively for thousands of years. It will be treated as if it were a drug. Of course, herbs are far from that. They're preparations made from biological sources. They aren't necessarily purified, as that can change their nature and efficacy, just as it can in food. It's a distortion of their nature and the nature of herbalism to treat them like drugs. That, of course, makes no difference in the Big Pharma-ruled edifice of the EU, which has enshrined corporatism in its constitution.

Dr. Robert Verkerk of the Alliance for Natural Health, International (ANH) describes the problem of requiring drug-like compliance on herbal preparations:
Getting a classical herbal medicine from a non-European traditional medicinal culture through the EU registration scheme is akin to putting a square peg into a round hole. The regulatory regime ignores and thus has not been adapted to the specific traditions. Such adaptation is required urgently if the directive is not to discriminate against non-European cultures and consequently violate human rights.(2)

Try to imagine facing your children or grandchildren when they ask why you didn't. How will you tell them that you really weren't that interested in their welfare? How will you tell them that it was more important to watch the latest fake reality show on television than to take the time to write a simple letter?
It is only by actively protesting that this travesty against our welfare can be stopped. If we sit back in apathy, then it will happen. Our right to protect our health and that of our children is hanging in the balance. If you care for your child's or grandchild's welfare, then you must act. Speak out, for now is the moment of truth. You can sit back and do nothing, or you can speak out.
And then, once you have, talk to everyone you know. Tell them that it's time to act. There truly is no time to waste.

Trade Law

To best understand how this can be happening, one needs to see that trade laws have been at the center of the moves to place all aspects of food and medicine under the control of Big Pharma and Agribusiness. If you've followed what's been happening in the United States regarding raw milk and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) claims that foods magically become drugs when health claims are made, you may have noted that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been part of the process.
Rather than treating food and traditional medicines as human rights issues, they have been treated as trade issues. That makes the desires of large corporations the focus of food and herbal law, rather than the needs and desires of people. It's this twisting that has resulted in the FDA's making outrageously absurd statements, such as claiming that Cheerios and walnuts quite literally become drugs simply because of health claims made for them.
The goal of it all is to make the world safe for the megacorporations to trade freely. The needs and health of the people simply are not a factor in their considerations.

How to Fight This Encroachment on Our Health and Welfare

It's not a done-deal, at least, not quite. If you value your access to herbs, or if you care about access to vitamins and other supplements, please take action. Even if these issues seem meaningless to you, consider the people who do care. Should they be denied the right to the medical treatment and health maintenance of their choice?
The ANH has been active in fighting these encroachments. They are currently going to court in an attempt to stop the implementation of THMPD. We can hope that they'll succeed, but recent history shows that no legal maneuver is likely to stop this juggernaut. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for the results of their efforts. We need to see their endeavor as part of a whole, one in which each of us plays a role.

It's up to us—each and every one of us—to take action. If you live in Europe, please, send a letter or message to your Member of European Parliament. Go to this page to find out who is your MEP and the contact information. Then, send a letter that states, in no uncertain terms, that you strongly support the ANH's actions in trying to suspend the implementation of THMPD and that you hope they will also take a stand in support of the people's right to choose herbal treatments.
If you find it difficult to write such a letter, click here for a sample (in the universal .rtf format) suggested by ANH. Feel free to use it.

15 Things You Shouldn’t Be Paying For

15 Things You Shouldn’t Be Paying For

Want to save money? Here are 15 ways to save with the help of Phil Taylor

Basic Computer Software — Thinking of purchasing a new computer? Think twice before you fork over the funds for a bunch of extra software. There are some great alternatives to the name brand software programs. The most notable is OpenOffice, the open-source alternative to those other guys. It’s completely free and files can be exported in compatible formats.

Your Credit Report – You don’t have to pay for your credit report. You could sign up for one of the free credit monitoring services online to get a quick look at your credit report. You just have to remember to cancel the service before the end of the free trial. Or you could do one better and visit www.annualcreditreport.com, the only truly free place to see all three of your credit reports for free once a year.

Cell Phone – The service plan may be expensive, but the phone itself doesn’t have to cost a thing. Most major carriers will give you a free phone, even a free smart phone, with a two-year contract.

Books — There’s a cool place in your town that’s renting out books for free: the library. Remember that place? Stop by and put your favorite book on reserve. And if you don’t feel like getting out, visit www.paperbackswap.com and find your books there (small shipping fees apply).

Water– Besides the monthly utility bill, there’s no reason to shell out $1 for every bottle of water you drink. Bottled water is so last decade anyway. We’re over it, and into tap, filters, and reusable water bottles. It’s cheaper for you and better for the environment.

Credit Card — With as many credit cards as there are available on the market today, it’s easy to avoid a credit card with an annual fee. Unless you’re dead set on a particular perk that a fee card brings, skip the annual fee card and pocket that money yourself.

Debt Reduction Help — Speaking of credit cards, if you’re in over your head with credit card help, there are many free sources you can turn to for help with your debt. No one is going to be able to magically wipe away your debts, but there is help out there that will set you up on a debt reduction plan you can handle. Start with a visit to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Basic Tax Preparation – If your tax situation isn’t that complicated, then you should probably be preparing your own tax return using one of the many free online services. It’s now common for e-filing to be free as well with many services. You won’t even need a stamp.

The News – Leave it to a blogger to try and kill off traditional print. I’m not anti-newspaper. I just don’t find them practical anymore. Skip the daily .50 cents and get your news online. And for you dedicated coupon clippers, you can get most of your Sunday coupons online now too.

Budgeting Tools – There are many budgeting tools (both online and desktop) that offer up the service for free. Don’t ask me how they do this, but who cares. If you’re looking to reign in some of your spending, the good news is you can do it for free.

Pets — This is a controversial one, I know. But there are likely many pets down at your local animal shelter that could use just as much love as the pure-bred types. There may be a small fee due to the shelter for shots and basic care, but you’ll have your pet home without paying a mini-fortune.

Shipping — If you like to buy online, you probably use coupons to get a percentage off of your purchase. Take your skills to the next level and look for coupons or promotion codes that offer free shipping. If in doubt, visit a site like www.freeshipping.org.

Checking Account — Isn’t it nice when a bank takes your money, lends it out to earn money, and then has the audacity to charge you for the service? What a joke. Checking should be free. If yours isn’t free then move to one of the many banks that offers a checking account for free. And the same can be said for ATM fees, teller fees, and checks.

DVD Rentals — Did you know that you can rent DVDs from RedBox locations for $1 a night? And better yet, if you use one of the coupon codes from www.insideredbox.com you can avoid the $1 charge. Free DVD rentals! Most libraries now have free DVD rental as well.

Exercise — Skip the expensive gym memberships. Visit your local park for a walk or run. Do basic push-up and sit-up programs in your living room. Rent a workout DVD from the library. There are many free workout programs you can download online as well.

Oakland cop leaves note after shooting family's dog

An Oakland family can't believe police shot and killed their aging Labrador retriever "Gloria." They found out what happened when they got home and saw a note on their front door saying that an Oakland police officer had shot and killed her. Now the family is questioning police policy.

The 11-year-old family dog has an entire page dedicated to her in the Hallock family scrapbook. Matthew Hallock picked the yellow lab out of the litter when he was 3 years old because she looked like his beloved teddy bear.

"Just being a presence was important and it made everything complete. Now that she's gone, it's like missing a family member," says Matthew.

Gloria was shot and killed by an officer who responded to the family's home because the alarm system went off.

Officers left a note on the door stating the dog advanced on the officer in a threatening manner before being shot and killed.

"There is no way you couldn't stop Gloria, if you simply drop a doughnut or ham sandwich in front of her," says Ward Hallock.

The family admits Gloria had a loud bark and was territorial about the backyard, but the Hallocks can't believe shooting her was the only option.

"Did you have to go to the revolver first? Was there pepper spray, or mace, or Taser, or baton," asks Ward.

Gloria's arthritis slowed her down, but she always managed to greet the family members at the door. The kids, Isabel and Matthew, are having a tough time with her death.

"I don't think it was necessary, she didn't have to go like this, she was a good dog, she didn't really deserve to die this way," says Isabel.

Ward says he isn't thinking about taking legal action against the police department; he's interested in bringing about a change in police policy.

"We're not here to cause problems for the Oakland police. We're here to cease any future engagements like what happened Tuesday night," says Ward.

The Hallocks are not angry with police, they say they want to work with them. The police chief is already police policy after an officer shot and killed a young deer who was cornered in someone's backyard.

ABC7 called and e-mailed police to ask them about this incident, however we did not hear back from them, but will try back during normal business hours on Friday.

(Copyright ©2010 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Biggest sealife survey: Most ocean life is unknown

London, England (CNN) -- The planet's seas and oceans are richer and more diverse than scientists suspected, the biggest survey of marine life has revealed -- but many mysteries remain.

The Census of Marine Life, which announced its full findings Monday, has taken 10 years to complete, employing 2,700 scientists from 80 nations. The $650 million study surveyed from the coldest waters to the warmest lagoons, from the smallest microbes to the largest cetaceans.

It even looked at life 10,000 meters (6.2 miles) down in the Marianas Trench southeast of Japan.

Scientists tagged and tracked marine creatures in order to gain insight into their migratory habits and populations as well as how they breed and what they eat.

The census also explored some unusual sights during its 10 years, including what scientists labelled a "White Shark Cafe" and a "sturgeon playground" in the Pacific as well as giant bacteria and mollusks.

In August scientists working on the census revealed that the richest waters for marine life are around Australia and Japan; and that crustaceans are the biggest group populating the seas, making up around one-fifth of sea life.

Scientists estimate that there are more than 1 million marine species but only about 250,000 have been formally described in scientific literature over the centuries. Those figures exclude microbes -- of which the census estimate there are up to 1 billion kinds.

Myriam Sibuet, vice-chair of the Scientific Steering Committee on the mammoth study, said: "The census enlarged the known world. Life astonished us everywhere we looked. In the deep sea we found luxuriant communities despite extreme conditions."

The census also collated information on the 16,764 species of fish that have ever been described -- but estimates that a further 5,000 have yet to be discovered.

Central to the census is its database called the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (or OBIS), which includes 28 million observations of more than 120,000 species, going back centuries. OBIS is growing at the rate of about five million observations each year.

The amount of marine life yet to be detailed varies wildly by region. The census estimates only 10 percent is yet to be described in European waters -- but that figure rises to 75 percent for the deeper waters of the Mediterranean and 80 percent for the seas around Australia.

The census is inviting other organizations, projects and individuals to help monitor life in the world's waters by contributing to OBIS.

Ian Poiner, chair of the Census Steering Committee, said: "This cooperative international 21st century voyage has systematically defined for the first time both the known and the vast unknown, unexplored ocean.

"All surface life depends on life inside and beneath the oceans. Sea life provides half of our oxygen and a lot of our food and regulates climate. We are all citizens of the sea."

The census also used DNA barcoding -- for example, ensuring a specimen can be identified by something as small as a fish scale -- for 35,000 species, as well as establishing baseline measures so that future damage from climate change or pollution can be accurately assessed.

Patricia Miloslavich, co-senior scientist on the census, said in a statement: "Before the census, we lacked even a simple list of known marine species. Information was scattered all over the world with limited access. If we liken Earth to a firm with humankind as CEO, we must surely know the key employees and their functions."

More than 300 key scientists who worked on the census meet from Monday in London to discuss their findings and plan further work.

The survey was began 10 years ago by Fred Grassle at Rutgers University, New Jersey, and Jesse Ausubel of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, New York.

Iran opens airspace to China warplanes

Chinese fighter jets, file photo
The Islamic Republic of Iran has reportedly opened its airspace to Chinese warplanes taking part in joint military maneuvers with Turkey.

Ankara and Beijing conducted the drills in Turkey's Central Anatolia region last month.

The war games, codenamed the Anatolian Eagle, were the first involving Turkey and China. Turkey had previously carried out Anatolian Eagle maneuvers with the US and other NATO members as well as Israel.

Turkish F-16, Chinese Su-27 and Mig-29 fighter jets took part in mock dogfights during the drills.

The maneuvers come ahead of a planned visit by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to Turkey.

Turkey and China took their first step in military cooperation in the late 1990s with joint missile production, manufacturing weapons with a 150-kilometer range, the Hurriyet daily reported on its website.

The multinational Anatolian Eagle exercise is hosted by the Turkish Air Forces and is aimed at boosting aerial cooperation and training. The exercises have been performed since June 2001.


13 Wildly Irresponsible Vintage Ads Aimed at Kids

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In a world full of government regulations where every light bulb comes in a package explaining how you shouldn't eat it, it's easy to forget that it wasn't always like this. Once upon a time, not only did manufacturers not care what we did with their product, they seemed to build entire ad campaigns around tempting us to use them to kill our children.

Du Pont Cellophane

We understand that the 1950s were a different time -- you apparently weren't allowed to file a liability lawsuit until you first proved your worth by fighting a bear in the courtroom. Still, we're fairly certain that even back then, babies needed oxygen to survive.

This Du Pont Cellophane advertisement actually looked to raise the bar beyond mere irresponsibility by promising that this product could asphyxiate a number of babies at once.

Iver Johnson's "Safe" Revolvers

One thing we left off our recent list of time travel dangers: In the past, the average five-year-old girl was more of a man than most modern men will ever be. Apparently, little girls took revolvers to bed just in case they needed to kill a dude during their nap. This ad appeared in Harpers in 1904, in case any time travelers are wondering what era to avoid if they don't like playing the most permanent game of freeze tag possible.

We're thinking that generation's whole mindset can be summed up by this ad's two warnings: "Absolutely Safe" and "they shoot straight and kill." These were a people who saw no contradiction in those two statements. If you got shot, it was your own damned fault for getting in front of the gun.

Du Pont Sun Lamp

At what age should you be ashamed about your lack of a deep, sexy tan? About two weeks, if you're living in 1960 and believe this ad for a Du Pont Health Tan Sun Lamp. This was decades before infant spray-tans were available, so concerned mothers had no choice but to hold their babies under its "long tanning rays" for hour after hour.

Fortunately, you can mount it on your bed and "Sleep Under It." Though the baby wouldn't know when to turn over to keep his South Beach tan even, so you'd presumably have to strap him to some kind of rotisserie device that'd slowly twirl him around.

Distaval Children's Sedative

We can forgive this 1960 ad for the children's sedative Distaval for the fact that the product's active ingredient was thalidomide (famous for getting pulled from shelves in 1961 for causing birth defects). They presumably didn't know at the time. But we're thinking that even 50 years ago, it wasn't considered good parenting to tell your three-year-old, "Why don't you go to the bathroom and get yourself a little bit o' sedative. You need to mellow out, son."

Though this whole self-service approach to children's medication was apparently not that uncommon, considering ...

Ayer's Cough Syrup

Seriously, check out the dazed, stupefied look the kid on the left is sporting, while her sibling tries desperately to somehow open the giant bottle with a spoon. Both can be explained by the fact that Ayer's Cherry Pectoral, a self-proclaimed cure-all for any throat or lung problems, contained opium.

Yeah, don't wait for Mommy and Daddy to pry open the 50-gallon drum of opium juice, young Sally. We'll show you how to get the lid off with common household utensils. Just don't depend on little Mary for help -- she'll be spending the next three days marveling at how the whole world seems to be covered in fur.

This seemed to be a common theme with the Ayer's people ...

Ayer's Cathartic Pills

Stop and think about the last time you struggled with getting a "childproof" pill bottle open. Now look at this 1890 advertisement for Ayer's Cathartic Pills, which makes pill containers look like a giggling wonderland for naked toddlers to frolic in. "Hey, look, Steve brought a huge stick of butter! Ha-ha, the old days are frickin' rad you guys!"

By the way, if you don't know what cathartic pills are or why it's a terrible idea for children to take handfuls of them, let's just say they uh, evacuate the bowels, which is not particularly something that children or babies need help with. And if you're giving them out in the copious amounts you see here, you might as well give them a non-Iver Johnson revolver to play with.

Cigarette Santa

That's right, in 1952 Santa didn't bring shiny red bicycles or teddy bears down the chimney. He lugged down a gigantic box that seems to contain about two thousand Camel cigarettes.

OK, we admit that Santa gets used in ads aimed at adults, too. And after all, it's not like it actually shows kids smoking or anything. Unlike ...

Doug Stanhope on the Pledge of Allegiance and liberty part 1

Briton, 91, and his 82-year-old wife ordered off QM2 cruise ship after expletive-ridden row over 'anti-Semitic' remarks

A wealthy Briton and his Broadway show producer wife were ordered off the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship after an alleged fight with another passenger at a black-tie dinner.

Frederick Evans, 91, and Gloria Sher, 82, were told by the captain to leave at the next port following what was said to be an expletive-ridden row over anti-Semitic remarks.

The couple faced being dumped in a remote part of Quebec in Canada before fellow passengers came to their defence and asked that they be allowed to stay.

Frederick Evans and his Broadway producer wife Gloria Sher

Argument: Frederick Evans and his Broadway producer wife Gloria Sher, who is Jewish, faced being dumped in a remote part of Quebec. The row erupted at a formal dinner when another passenger allegedly said: 'There are too many Jews on board'

The captain agreed - but only on the condition that they spend the remaining six days of their £12,000 cruise in their cabin under house arrest and handed over all their alcohol.

Miss Sher said she was furious about her treatment, especially as the ship's predecessor, the Queen Elizabeth 2, had special memories for her.

She met Mr Evans aboard the QE2 in 1991 and also knew Commodore Bernard Warner, the ship’s captain, from several previous trips aboard the QM2.

‘I was treated with no respect and unbelievably rude and shockingly terrible,’ she said.

‘I've been sick ever since. It has ruined our lives. It's changed us forever.’

The row erupted during dinner when another passenger at the formal dinner was said to have remarked: ‘There are too many Jews on board’.

Miss Sher, who is Jewish, was appalled and apparently said back: ‘F*** you!’ and ‘How dare you insult me!’ before storming off to her stateroom.

The next morning Commodore Warner knocked on their door and, citing regulations, told them: ‘You insulted a fellow passenger. I'm going to have to ask you to leave the ship’.

Luxury confinement: The elderly couple were kept under house arrest on the QM2

Luxury confinement: The elderly couple were kept under 'house arrest' on the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship

He also suggested Miss Sher, who is slim of figure, had shoved somebody during the fracas.

‘He told two seniors we had to get off in Quebec and make our way home,’ said Miss Sher, who produced the Tony-nominated musical Shenandoah.

‘We begged him not to do this.’

Other passengers gave a different side to the story.

They said Miss Sher had been cantankerous during the journey and that on another night on the cruise she flew into a rage because a piano lounge was closed.

Mr Evans, however, disagreed, and said the captain acted like a modern-day Captain Bligh, a reference to the tyrannical leader of the 18th century vessel HMS Bounty that later saw its sailors rise up in a mutiny.

The couple claim they should be given far more regal treatment because of their connections.

Miss Sher says her husband is the illegitimate son of the Duke of Windsor, the abdicated King Edward VIII, as well as a British knight.

Her ex-husband, Louis K Sher, owned an art house cinema chain and produced a porn film.

Cunard said in a statement that it only refunded the couple £529 because they engaged in ‘multiple incidences of disrespectful and disruptive behaviour towards crew members and other guests'.

It added the company ‘fully supported’ the captain's decision.

The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means

The G8 must seize the opportunity to address the wider issues at the root of such atrocities

I have rarely seen the Commons so full and so silent as when it met yesterday to hear of the London bombings. A forum that often is raucous and rowdy was solemn and grave. A chamber that normally is a bear pit of partisan emotions was united in shock and sorrow. Even Ian Paisley made a humane plea to the press not to repeat the offence that occurred in Northern Ireland when journalists demanded comment from relatives before they were informed that their loved ones were dead.

The immediate response to such human tragedy must be empathy with the pain of those injured and the grief of those bereaved. We recoil more deeply from loss of life in such an atrocity because we know the unexpected disappearance of partners, children and parents must be even harder to bear than a natural death. It is sudden, and therefore there is no farewell or preparation for the blow. Across London today there are relatives whose pain may be more acute because they never had the chance to offer or hear last words of affection.

It is arbitrary and therefore an event that changes whole lives, which turn on the accident of momentary decisions. How many people this morning ask themselves how different it might have been if their partner had taken the next bus or caught an earlier tube?

But perhaps the loss is hardest to bear because it is so difficult to answer the question why it should have happened. This weekend we will salute the heroism of the generation that defended Britain in the last war. In advance of the commemoration there have been many stories told of the courage of those who risked their lives and sometimes lost their lives to defeat fascism. They provide moving, humbling examples of what the human spirit is capable, but at least the relatives of the men and women who died then knew what they were fighting for. What purpose is there to yesterday's senseless murders? Who could possibly imagine that they have a cause that might profit from such pointless carnage?

At the time of writing, no group has surfaced even to explain why they launched the assault. Sometime over the next few days we may be offered a website entry or a video message attempting to justify the impossible, but there is no language that can supply a rational basis for such arbitrary slaughter. The explanation, when it is offered, is likely to rely not on reason but on the declaration of an obsessive fundamentalist identity that leaves no room for pity for victims who do not share that identity.

Yesterday the prime minister described the bombings as an attack on our values as a society. In the next few days we should remember that among those values are tolerance and mutual respect for those from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Only the day before, London was celebrating its coup in winning the Olympic Games, partly through demonstrating to the world the success of our multicultural credentials. Nothing would please better those who planted yesterday's bombs than for the atrocity to breed suspicion and hostility to minorities in our own community. Defeating the terrorists also means defeating their poisonous belief that peoples of different faiths and ethnic origins cannot coexist.

In the absence of anyone else owning up to yesterday's crimes, we will be subjected to a spate of articles analysing the threat of militant Islam. Ironically they will fall in the same week that we recall the tenth anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica, when the powerful nations of Europe failed to protect 8,000 Muslims from being annihilated in the worst terrorist act in Europe of the past generation.

Osama bin Laden is no more a true representative of Islam than General Mladic, who commanded the Serbian forces, could be held up as an example of Christianity. After all, it is written in the Qur'an that we were made into different peoples not that we might despise each other, but that we might understand each other.

Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden's organisation would turn its attention to the west.

The danger now is that the west's current response to the terrorist threat compounds that original error. So long as the struggle against terrorism is conceived as a war that can be won by military means, it is doomed to fail. The more the west emphasises confrontation, the more it silences moderate voices in the Muslim world who want to speak up for cooperation. Success will only come from isolating the terrorists and denying them support, funds and recruits, which means focusing more on our common ground with the Muslim world than on what divides us.

The G8 summit is not the best-designed forum in which to launch such a dialogue with Muslim countries, as none of them is included in the core membership. Nor do any of them make up the outer circle of select emerging economies, such as China, Brazil and India, which are also invited to Gleneagles. We are not going to address the sense of marginalisation among Muslim countries if we do not make more of an effort to be inclusive of them in the architecture of global governance.

But the G8 does have the opportunity in its communique today to give a forceful response to the latest terrorist attack. That should include a statement of their joint resolve to hunt down those who bear responsibility for yesterday's crimes. But it must seize the opportunity to address the wider issues at the root of terrorism.

In particular, it would be perverse if the focus of the G8 on making poverty history was now obscured by yesterday's bombings. The breeding grounds of terrorism are to be found in the poverty of back streets, where fundamentalism offers a false, easy sense of pride and identity to young men who feel denied of any hope or any economic opportunity for themselves. A war on world poverty may well do more for the security of the west than a war on terror.

And in the privacy of their extensive suites, yesterday's atrocities should prompt heart-searching among some of those present. President Bush is given to justifying the invasion of Iraq on the grounds that by fighting terrorism abroad, it protects the west from having to fight terrorists at home. Whatever else can be said in defence of the war in Iraq today, it cannot be claimed that it has protected us from terrorism on our soil.


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