Saturday, December 11, 2010

Questions, WikiLeaks, Leaks All Over The Place And Strange News...

Questions, WikiLeaks, Leaks All Over The Place And Strange News...

What Is The Justice Department Waiting For Before They Investigate Bush & Cheney For War Crimes?

Anna Ardin, one of the two complainants in the rape and sexual assault case against WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, has left Sweden, and may have ceased actively co-operating with the Swedish prosecution service and her own lawyer, sources in Sweden told Crikey.

The move comes amid a growing campaign by leading Western feminists to question the investigation, and renewed confusion as to whether Sweden has actually issued charges against Assange.

Naomi Klein, Naomi Wolf, and the European group Women Against Rape, have all made statements questioning the nature and purpose of the prosecution. Ardin, who also goes by the name Bernardin, has moved to the West Bank in the Palestinian Territories, as part of a Christian outreach group, aimed at bringing reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis.
 One source from Ardin’s old university of Uppsala reported rumours that she had stopped co-operating with the prosecution service several weeks a go, and that this was part of the reason for the long delay in proceeding with charges?—?and what still appears to be an absence of charges.

News of Ardin/Bernardin’s departure comes as reports circulate of Ardin’s connection to the right-wing Cuban exile community in Miami, something that Crikey readers learnt of months ago. Ardin’s move and confusion over her involvement and the real status of the charges against Assange come as the campaign questioning the charges against him has come to include a number of leading feminist activists.

Guy Rundle, Crikey


Wikileaks' Actions Deserve Our Support

The unity and extent of the attack on WikiLeaks in the wake of its releasing previously hidden State Department cables is not proof that what it did was wrong. Far from it. Rather, it demonstrates the lengths to which the federal government will go to preserve the happy illusions of the unaccountable American Empire.

Republicans and Democrats, journalists and government officials, all have joined in the chorus of condemnation assailing the activities of WikiLeaks. This motley collection of supposed adversaries, baying in unison at their new common enemy, should be enough to demonstrate the rightness and value of WikiLeaks' actions.

But if not, consider what those cables actually showed: excessive corruption at the highest levels of Afghanistan's government, kidnapping and torture of an innocent German civilian along with the (naturally) ensuing cover-up, the pressuring of the Spanish government to forgo prosecution of U.S. officials directly involved in the enactment of torture programs. None of these things deserves to be kept hidden from the public.
WikiLeaks' only crime was to rip the happy face mask off of the American Empire. For that, it will be harassed, vilified, and pursued. WikiLeaks deserves better, and deserves the support of anyone concerned about the crimes and abuses committed by the federal government in our name.

WikiLeaks backlash: The first global cyber war has begun, claim hackers The Guardian
He is a self-styled defender of free speech, his weapon a laptop and his enemy the US corporations responsible for attacking the website
 WikiLeaks. ...See all stories on this topic »

WikiLeaks cables: Russia 'was tracking killers of Alexander Litvinenko but UK ...
The Guardian
The latest
 WikiLeaks release comes after relations between Moscow and London soured as a result of Britain's decision to expel a Russian parliamentary ...See all stories on this topic »

Keeping Secrets WikiSafe
New York Times
In an age of
 WikiLeaks, flash drives and instant Web postings, leaks have begun to seem unstoppable. Articles in this series examine American diplomatic ...See all stories on this topic »

WikiLeaks suggests N. Korean, Burmese nuclear cooperation
Washington Post
The cables from the US Embassy in Rangoon, released Thursday by anti-secrecy Web siteWikiLeaks, are hardly definitive, citing accounts from dockworkers, ...See all stories on this topic »

WikiLeaks and the Internet's Long War
Washington Post
The latest fighters on one side are Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, and the media-dubbed "hacker army" that has risen in his defense in the past week, ...See all stories on this topic »

WikiLeaks Cyber Warfare Growing Exponentially!
By Ed. Dickau
“We all applaud the successful thwarting of the Christmas-Tree Bomber and hope our government continues to do all it can to keep us safe. However, the latest round of publications of leaked classified U.S. documents through the shady ...
Le Café Politique De Camus De Café -

Last updated at 1:44 AM on 12th December 2010

Accused: Julian Assange is in a British jail, fighting extradition to Sweden
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s lawyer says he has seen secret police documents that prove the whistleblower is innocent of rape claims made against him by two women in Stockholm.

Björn Hurtig, who is representing Mr Assange in Sweden, said the papers, which form part of the official Swedish investigation, reveal both women had ‘hidden agendas’ and lied about being coerced into having sex with Mr Assange, 39.

The freedom of information crusader is being held in Wandsworth jail in London while fighting extradition to face the accusations, which his defenders say are part of a plot to stop him releasing more embarrassing information on his website about governments worldwide.

Australian Mr Assange met both women at a seminar in Stockholm last August. After having intercourse with each, at different times, he faced sex charges – which he strenuously denies – that were withdrawn and then reinstated. 

Mr Hurtig said in an exclusive interview from his Stockholm office: ‘From what I have read, it is clear that the women are lying and that they had an agenda when they went to the police, which had nothing to do with a crime having taken place.
‘It was, I believe, more about jealousy and disappointment on their part. I can prove that at least one of them had very big expectations for something to happen with Julian.’
He has asked for Swedish prosecutors’ permission to disclose more ‘sensational’ information.

‘If I am able to reveal what I know, everyone will realise this is all a charade,’ he said. ‘If I could tell the British courts, I suspect it would make extradition a moot point. 
‘But at the moment I’m bound by the rules of the Swedish legal system, which say that the information can only be used as evidence in this country. For me to do otherwise would lead to me being disbarred.’
Mr Hurtig, a top sex-crime defence lawyer, is ready to fly to London and present the evidence when Mr Assange appears in court this week – if he is given the all-clear.

Campaign: Supporters of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, hold posters with his photo during a protest in Madrid, Spain, this weekend. The protesters are wearing masks depicting anti-establishment figure from the movie 'V for Vendetta'

Mr Assange has not been charged yet. Mr Hurtig said that when they met, ‘I was struck by how good-looking he was. He gave off an aura of someone who was very self-assured and comfortable with himself – the way famous people do. 

‘He denied vehemently that he had raped or in any way indulged in non-consensual sex. He was very upset. He kept saying, “How can they do this to me? I’ve done nothing wrong. They are trying to destroy my credibility.” He kept saying it was a witch-hunt and we must fight it.’ 

One of the women, a political activist in her 30s described as Miss A, claims she was unlawfully coerced and subjected to sexual molestation and deliberate molestation. The other woman, Miss B, who is in her 20s, has alleged he had sex with her without a condom while she was sleeping. 

Mr Assange told Mr Hurtig he had a brief affair with Miss A – who had organised a seminar for the Centre-Left group Brotherhood Movement – while staying in her flat. 
Miss B admitted in her police statement that she sought out Mr Assange after seeing him on TV and, clearly infatuated, attended the seminar he was giving. They had a ‘sexual encounter’ in a cinema on their first meeting and two days later had protected sex at her flat, 40 miles from Stockholm. But the woman told police that she woke up next morning to find him having sex with her without a condom.

‘This is what they are saying is rape,’ said Mr Hurtig. He said Mr Assange and Miss B parted on good terms, with Miss B buying his train ticket back to Stockholm. But Mr Hurtig said that after Mr Assange reneged on his promise to call her and failed to return her phone calls over the next few days, the drama took a ‘bizarre’ turn.

Miss B called the office of Miss A, whom she had briefly met at the seminar, asking the whereabouts of Mr Assange. During the conversation they realised that they had both been ‘victims of his charms’.

Mr Assange told Mr Hurtig he refused their request to take a test for sexually-transmitted diseases. 

He said Miss B was especially anxious about the possibility of HIV and pregnancy. It was then that she and Miss A walked into a police station and told their stories. 
Mr Hurtig said: ‘I don’t believe Miss B felt she had been raped until she went to the police station. She was encouraged by a policewoman and a junior female prosecutor to think that way.

While I don’t think there was any conspiracy, Julian says he is being victimised because of his role with WikiLeaks. The fact that he has a high profile has made him a target for opponents.’

Mr Hurtig said that before leaving Sweden to lecture in Britain at the end of September, Mr Assange tried in vain several times to arrange an interview with Stockholm police.
The strong sense of women’s rights in Sweden means 53 rape allegations are reported per 100,000 people, the highest rate in Europe. 

Also, under Swedish law there are gradations of rape. There is the most serious kind, involving major violence, ‘regular rape’, which could include a degree of violence, and ‘unlawful coercion’, which might involve putting emotional pressure on someone.

The case may turn on whether consensual sex turned into non-consensual sex – and whether a man’s decision not to use a condom can amount to a crime.

But Mr Hurtig remains confident that Mr Assange will get a fair hearing in Sweden. 
‘This is not a banana republic,’ he said. ‘It’s just that when it comes to sex crimes, the police and prosecutors and members of the court seem to lose their ability to think logically. That said, I’m convinced that as soon as the case is heard in Sweden it will be thrown out.’

Last updated at 10:01 PM on 11th December 2010

WikiLeaks' publication of 250,000 diplomatic cables and the impact it has had on governments was the subject of my column last week. I took the view that governments would react with an attempt to regulate the internet. 
There has been an interesting debate on the MailOnline website, with some agreeing with my argument, while others took a liberal and pro-internet line. 
One view was well expressed by Stuart of Norwich, who thinks it is not possible for governments to regulate the internet: 'With a sophisticated network, clouds and 128-bit encryption and other techniques, closing down a website is impossible.' 

It was the sheer scale of the operation that shook governments; not its content. Even so, if WikiLeaks was the main cyber threat, no one would be worried
I incline to accept that opinion, due to my teenage memories of the Second World War, when the technological battle was never conclusively won by either side until the development of nuclear weapons in 1945. 
The freedom fighters of the internet world can be physically resisted  -  they are not personally invulnerable  -  but they seem to be able to counter each move in the technical development of security measures. 
However, Roy of Southend does not share Stuart's view. He argues: 'The "internet" is, in fact, the sum total of all the corporate networks (private, academic, government, etc) interlinked for a common purpose. The naive belief in the freedom of the net ignores the fact that the "free" service is good only as long as those who run corporate networks can see an advantage for their own organisation.' 
Governments hold the ultimate power of coercion, as one can see from the policies adopted by China. They may not be able to regulate the internet, but they can regulate the people who are operating the system, so long as those people are under their control. The limitation of regulation is that it applies to the operator, not to the system. 
Undoubtedly, the world's governments have been shocked by the scale of the WikiLeaks operation. 
Yet governments were able to cope with the reaction to leaks of 'secret' cables that seemed to be little better than newspaper comments about political personalities. 
For example, any competent journalist could have written a comment on Vladimir Putin that was just as perceptive as anything from WikiLeaks  -  and without shaking the world. The leaks so far have largely been matters for the lawyers. 

Cyber war can be a fascinating subject. WikiLeaks has brought it to the public mind, largely on the question of vulnerability
It was the sheer scale of the operation that shook governments; not its content. Even so, if WikiLeaks was the main cyber threat, no one would be worried. 
There are, however, other cyber threats. There is a defence threat, either in terms of terrorism or, more remotely, of war. The Wall Street Journal last week pointed out that America's defence structure  -  the army, navy and air force  -  uses the internet in its communications and control system. 
Cyber war can be a fascinating subject. WikiLeaks has brought it to the public mind, largely on the question of vulnerability. In theory, it would be possible for a hostile hacker to turn off Western Europe's electricity supply system, including Britain's. 
The Iranian development of nuclear potential has incidentally shown that cyber war responses have become a natural reaction for countries that feel threatened. 
Someone  -  or some country  -  seems to have used computer 'worms' to penetrate Iran's nuclear development and, for a while, shut it down. 
It might be possible to infiltrate the control systems of nuclear missiles. At any rate, there must now be concern about the security of weapons systems, and we have to ensure that ours have not been primed to self-destruct. 
Governments are well aware of the military and terrorist potential of the internet. The public is increasingly aware of those threats. However, the internet is also the communications system of money laundering and cyber crime. 
The old-fashioned criminal, who kept his stash of cash in a shoe box under the bed, is almost as remote a creature as the 19th Century miser who kept his hoard in gold coins. 
Increasingly, the payment of tax is being avoided by companies that transfer to a more favourable tax jurisdiction while continuing to run a global internet business. Each company that leaves Britain leads to a reduction in tax revenue and jobs. Much of the good work carried out by former Chancellor Nigel Lawson in the Eighties has already been undone. 
We know there is a drain of tax revenues from Britain, represented in some cases by the takeover of major British companies, such as Cadbury, which has been bought by American food company Kraft. 
Politicians worry about the growth of tax avoidance when, in fact, they create it by putting up British taxes, which in turn encourages businesses to transfer abroad. Governments want to enjoy the benefits of the internet as a system of communications without facing the consequences of the internet's vulnerability and its extensive use to avoid taxes. They can't have it both ways. 
The internet is not compatible with maintaining early 20th Century defence, economic or social structures. Governments will fight back and will have some victories, but the internet can be expected to win. 

As I Wrote Last Week: 'The Hacker Will Always Get Through.'


I realize there are a lot more important things going on than this, but this is just too absurd. As you probably know already, the Nigerian government has charged Dick Cheney in a huge bribery case, and is trying to have him arrested via Interpol. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison. In Nigeria.

And now, Halliburton is offering Nigeria a $500,000,000 settlement to keep Cheney out of jail. Is he worth it?

As the article points out, how do Halliburton employees and stockholders feel about “donating” five hundred million dollarsjust to keep their slippery ex-CEO out of prison?

If you think he’s worth it, buy Halliburton stock. Buy a whole lot of it. NOW.

Maybe some patriotic Americans will start a Dick Cheney Fund. Please donate. You wouldn’t want our sleazy ex-vice president to go to jail in one of those poor, backward countries, would you? Having terrible unspeakable things done to him by his icky third world inmates?

[ahem] Uh, you wouldn’t, now, would you???

By Angela Ajetunmobi

So, it’s true: a 16-count charge has been filed against Dick Cheney at the Federal High Court, Abuja. There are “corruption charges, charges of giving gratification to public officers and obstructing justice”.

Nigeria hopes it shows commitment to bringing to justice, those who were participants in the “criminal enterprise associated with the bribe-for-contract arrangement”, known as Halliburton.

Recall that Halliburton/KBR had agreed to pay United States authorities $177m to settle charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] in the US over the scandal. Well, prosecuting lawyer of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had allegedly said: “As CEO of Halliburton, he (Cheney) has the responsibility for acts that occurred during that period”. One wishes the commission would simply and conversely apply same rule to the ‘CEO’s’ of the entity known as Nigeria who also had responsibility for acts that occurred under their watch.

Why are we arresting aides of ‘chief executives’ and not the CEO’s that they reported to? Surely, there is no shortage of Nigerian clients ‘who had the responsibility for acts that occurred during their watch’, for the EFCC to legitimately pursue, arrest and prosecute: former presidents, former governors and other political office holders on the governing ladder; add to that, investigations thrown at it from abroad- Siemens, Halliburton, Panalpina, Saipem, Technip.

Yes, the commission has repeatedly said its work stops when cases get to court; it is the courts that convict or acquit as the case determines. But the commission’s last-minute resort to plea-bargaining with high-profile clients shows its frustration with the process and our inadequate capacity to pursue prosecutions to their logical conclusion.

One had expected that as soon as the S308-Constitutionally-guaranteed immunity of governors fizzles out for example, it would be easier for the EFCC to go after them. With the chairman’s admission of frustration at seeing past alleged politicians enjoy their loot undisturbed, one wonders why the EFCC is embarking on this latest journey to nowhere in particular.

How or what will Mr. Cheney add at this time? In all the convictions we have seen relating to this matter, did Mr. Cheney play any important role or is it because he subsequently became an American vice president, that we feel the need to call his name now? Is it a foreigner, and former ‘leader’, residing in a foreign country, that the EFCC should be chasing now, when they haven’t finished chasing our available-in-this-country politically exposed persons, successfully?

The commission intended to subpoena a former US vice president; did it need to titillate us with the plan? Are we to be impressed with a commission that deliberately overlooks the ‘bigger boys’ in favour of the smaller accessible fry? We’ll be suitably impressed when purveyors of perpetual injunctions, which prevented the same commission from investigating, arresting, and harassing said purveyors, are prosecuted, rather than still walking free four years after tenure had expired.

Is Cheney the priority here? Are we to feel consoled that even the US once had a supposedly corrupt VP? Is this a tit-for-tat move? Is this based on the logic that if Cheney & Co did not offer bribes, Naija & Co would take none, so do not blame us alone?

Dick Cheney, now 69, was CEO of Halliburton and its former subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root, KBR Incorporated of Houston Texas, from 1995 to 2000. In 2000, he became the running mate to US President George. W. Bush and later Vice-President of the US. Now, Nigeria’s EFCC is investigating Halliburton and other companies, for alleged payment of $180m in bribes, in order to win a $6b Liquefied Natural Gas contract. This investigation is one of many being conducted by the EFCC in spite of the fact that some of these matters have been concluded in other countries, with convictions.

We do not know what role, if any, Dick Cheney played in the bribe matter beyond being the CEO; so we look forward to some major revelations by the commission beyond hype. It will not be enough for them to say he was CEO at the time. One knows that it is big news when the EFCC publicly announces that it has a warrant for the arrest of Cheney. The commission says the warrant will be transmitted through the world’s biggest International Police organisation [INTERPOL]. This means the world will be watching to see if an anti-corruption agency that is stumped at securing convictions at home, will succeed with a Cheney abroad.

Pigs Have Been Known To Fly In Dreams!

FDA Blunder And Coverup
Kills Millions!

The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) has just recommended that drinking water contain 25-50 mg of magnesium per liter to prevent deaths from heart attack and stroke. 
American bottled water averages <5 mg of magnesium (Mg) per liter, while bottled water in the rest of the world averages about 20 mg of magnesium per liter.
The FDA and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) caused the Mg-deficient-water problem by Un-Constitutionally destroying the American mineral water industry in the 1930’s, in the mistaken belief that pure water was good, and that mineral water was just impure water. No other country has ever destroyed their mineral water industry.

For decades, the evidence has been overwhelming that Americans are very deficient in Mg, as evidenced by the 23% shortfall from the RDI, yet the FDA and DOJ have covered up their blunder, getting a Federal lawsuit dismissed before the evidence could be shown, and keeping silent about the millions of deaths indicated by over 50 epidemiological studies from nine countries. Recent studies clearly confirm that water-borne Mg is far, far better in preventing cardiovascular pathologies than food-borne Mg.

Epidemiological studies indicate that millions of Americans have died due to the FDA’s and DOJ’s destruction of the American mineral water industry. See:

Now, it is up to the FDA and DOJ to end this travesty, requiring the Mg content of bottled or canned beverages to be put in labels’ nutrition panels, and requiring that all bottled or canned beverages contain at least 25 mg of Mg per liter. FDA and DOJ have ignored petitions and a lawsuit, continuing to kill Millions of Americans just to cover-up their blunder. 

Please Write The UN’s International Criminal Court Asking Them
to investigate this Crime Against Humanity in the United States. Please enclose a copy
of this page to:
Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court
Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague, The Netherlands

Things Are Heating Up In The UK!

Leaked Memo Sheds Light on Mysterious Bee Die-Offs and Who's to Blame

The culprit may be a pesticide that the EPA has allowed on the market despite the fact that the company which makes the pesticide has failed to prove it is safe.
December 10, 2010  |
A new leaked memo from the EPA has the beekeeping world buzzing. Bad puns aside, the failure of the EPA to protect the environment -- in this case, bees -- jeopardizes beekeepers' ability to continue in their work. Beekeeper Tom Theobald, who exposed the leaked memo, says that beekeepers now lose 30 to 40 percent or more of their hives each year, and it takes two years to recover each one. Theobald has been a beekeeper in Boulder County, Colorado for 35 years, but now he says he's not sure he can continue. "I can't afford to subsidize this as a hobby. I'll fold the tent," he says. "Commercial beekeepers will work themselves to death," he continues, noting that it's only the passion and commitment of beekeepers that has staved off a complete collapse of the entire beekeeping industry this long.

The leaked EPA memo, dated November 2, 2010, focuses on Bayer CropScience's request to register (i.e. legalize) its pesticide clothianidin for use on mustard seed and cotton. Clothianidin was first registered in May 2003, but its registration was conditional on safety testing that the EPA said should be completed by December 2004. Only, as the latest memo points out, the study, when it was done (long after 2004), was inadequate in demonstrating that clothianidin does not pose a threat to honeybees. Unfortunately, with the EPA's failure to ensure clothianidin's safety before allowing its use on corn and canola, it fell to beekeepers to discover why their bees were dying, and how the EPA allowed clothianidin on the market.
For beekeepers like Theobald, the story starts in the 1990's. During the warm months of the year when flowers are blooming, honeybees forage for nectar and pollen, eating them and storing them for the winter. When all went well, the bees could successfully survive the winter on their stored honey and pollen. Prior to 1995, Theobald and other beekeepers in his area lost about two to five percent of their colonies each winter. In an extraordinarily bad winter, 10 percent of the colonies might not make it. Beginning in 1995, 20 to 30 percent of colonies began dying each winter. At the time, Theobald assumed the cause were varroa mites, a parasitic mite that attacks bees. The mites were first found in the U.S. in 1987, but they did not reach Boulder County, CO until 1995, the same year the winter losses of bees grew.
Looking back, Theobald wonders if the losses were really caused entirely by the mites, or if the pesticide imidacloprid played a role. Both imidacloprid and clothianidin are "neonicotinoids," a class of pesticides that has risen in popularity in the last fifteen years. Imidacloprid, the first of the neonicotinoids to be commercialized, was registered in the U.S. in 1994. Neonicotinoids attack the nervous system of insects. They are frequently used by treating seeds prior to planting. Then, once the plant grows, the pesticide spreads to all parts of the plant -- including the pollen. The hope is that only pests who try to feed on the plant will be killed, and beneficial insects will not be affected. Sadly, it appears that the bees never got that memo.
A beekeeper has little control over where his or her bees forage, and whether they choose to dine on plants treated with pesticides. (Recall the recent incident in Brooklyn in which bees took a liking to the bright red syrup at a nearby Maraschino cherry factory, gorging themselves until they turned bright red and produced honey colored with Red Dye No. 40.) The bees of Boulder have their choice of alfalfa, yellow sweet clover, wildflowers, and an awful lot of corn. While corn does not require bees for pollination, it produces large amounts of pollen when it tassels -- a bee feast! Corn pollen is no doubt a major source of food for bees across the entire U.S., as more acres are devoted to corn than to any other crop. And beginning in 2004, corn seed companies began selling seeds with five times the previously used dose of neonicotinoids.
About four years ago, Theobald saw his winter losses climb again, to 30 to 40 percent. It was around that time that a Pennsylvania beekeeper, David Hackenberg, lost two-thirds of his hives and began investigating. Ultimately, he identified and made public the problem now called Colony Collapse Disorder. Theobald recognized the symptoms described by Hackenberg as what he had observed in his own hives: the bees would mysteriously disappear, and the empty hive would go weeks without bees from other hives coming to rob all of the honey. "Normally," says Theobald, "that would be unheard of."
Beekeepers around the world who experienced the same mysterious problem began looking for causes, and they all came to the same conclusion: neonicotinoid pesticides were behind CCD. When Theobald checked his hives in the fall of 2006, he found that the brood nests (the area where larva are kept) were smaller than usual. He says they should have been the size of a basketball, but instead they were the size of a grapefruit. In 2007, he did a more thorough investigation and found many hives with no brood at all. That meant that, after the summer bees died off (as they usually do), there would be no winter bees to replace them and to keep the colony going throughout the winter.
It appeared that the queen had stopped laying eggs around mid-September, and the larva from eggs laid before were dying. In early November, the queens began laying eggs once again. Theobald suspected that contaminated corn pollen, collected in August and stored, would have been fed to the larva and to the queen (as royal jelly) when the number of flowers declined and the bees needed to use their stored pollen, around mid-September. The contaminated pollen would have killed the larva and caused the queen to stop laying. With no bees to carry the hive through the winter (or a few bees, who might not survive), the entire colony dies.
With similar findings, some countries, like France, Germany, and Italy, banned or restricted the use of neonicotinoids. The U.S. did no such thing. In fact, as beekeepers questioned the safety of clothianidin, a neonicotinoid registered in 2003, the Bush EPA stonewalled and refused to provide Bayer's study demonstrating the safety of clothianidin to bees, even after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. In 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued over the EPA's failure to comply with the FOIA. Around the same time, Theobald made an amazing discovery on the internet.
Theobald found the missing study, along with incriminating EPA memos showing their mishandling of clothianidin's registration. The first memo, dated February 20, 2003, says, "Considering the toxicity profile and reported incidents of other neonicotinoids (e.g. imidacloprid), the proposed seed treatment with clothianidin has the potential for toxic risk to honey bees, as well as other pollinators." The scientists recommended requiring a study that spanned the entire life of a worker bee to test clothianidin for toxicity to the workers (as well as to the queen) prior to allowing the product on the market.
Two months later, on April 10, 2003, the EPA scientists amended their request (presumably after their first request was denied), calling for the registration of clothianidin on the condition that the study was completed soon thereafter. In May, the EPA granted the conditional registration. In March 2004, Bayer requested an extension for the study, which was granted. However, the new May 2005 deadline passed and the study was not submitted. Bayer also requested -- and was granted -- permission to perform its study in Canada on canola (a minor crop in the U.S.), with no test performed on corn.
Bayer finally completed its study and submitted it to the EPA in August 2006. The EPA left the study to collect dust until November 16, 2007, when they reviewed it and deemed it acceptable. Thus, clothianidin's registration was finally complete. Eight months later, Theobald found the study online. In an article he wrote for Bee Culture, he summarized it as follows: "Here's what the life cycle study of bees and canola consisted of: four colonies of bees were set in the middle of one hectare (2 1/2 acres) of canola planted from treated seed, with the bees free to forage over thousands of surrounding acres in bloom with untreated canola, which they most surely did. What do you think the results were? They were exactly what Bayer wanted of course."
This past November, when Bayer CropScience requested the registration of clothianidin for use on mustard seed and cotton, the Obama EPA reviewed the earlier study and found in inadequate to justify the new registration, but made no comment about the existing registration for corn and canola. Beekeepers are enraged. If the study -- used to justify the legal use of clothianidin on corn and canola -- is insufficient, then there is no evidence whatsoever to demonstrate that clothianidin is not a significant threat to bees. Why is clothianidin still legal? The sloppy, if not corrupt, work by the EPA resulted in eight growing seasons (so far) of widespread use of clothianidin. As of 2007, for example, 80 percent of corn seed sold by market leader Pioneer Hi-Bred (DuPont) contained either 0.25 or 1.25 mg per seed of clothianidin.
For beekeepers, hopefully the discovery of the recent memo will lead to restrictions or a ban on use of neonicotinoids, at least until more reliable experiments are conducted to determine their effect on bees. The larger question, for all of us, is why the EPA allows pesticides on the market before they have been tested for safety (using conditional registrations), and how sound is the science -- conducted by the pesticide companies -- once it is done? "They just kind of put the pesticides out there and deal with the effects after they occur," says Maryam Heinen, who, along with George Langworthy, directed the new documentary Vanishing of the Bees.

By: Rick Moran at 12:30 pm

Call me a spoil sport but I’m afraid I have fallen hopelessly behind many other conservatives and Republicans in being sufficiently fearful of Muslims, gays, and Mexicans. For some reason, I just can’t summon the proper amount of outrage at Mexicans who are overrunning the country, Muslims who are trying to convert us, and gays who want to hug us… or something.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. It’s just that my personal experience with these enemies of decent, God-fearing, patriotic Americans hasn’t matched up with the knee shaking, palm sweating, rank stink of fear generated by many conservatives in response to the “threat” these groups represent.

Take Muslims, for instance. It’s hard for me to get too worked up over Sharia creep and Muslim proselytizing when every single Muslim I’ve ever met seemed as bored with their religion as most other Americans are bored with theirs. The Muslim cab drivers I’ve come in contact with have been just as rude, just as clueless about getting me to my destination while running up the meter as any other Sikh, Greek, Russian, Kenyan, or Guatemalan hack out there. I have yet to experience a cab ride where a Muslim driver treated me like a “dhimmi” or demanded I worship Allah.

Nor have I been threatened with beheading upon paying for gasoline purchases at the local Muslim-owned convenience store. In fact, the proprietor (who goes by the name of “Jack”), and I trade good natured insults about religion all the time. He calls me a “Christian dog” and I refer to him as “Osama.” His beautiful teenage daughter sits behind the counter wearing a headscarf and gabs all day on her cellphone, giggling and laughing while the line at the counter grows longer and longer — just like at any other convenience store. When one of his sons works the counter, he can be just as surly and unpleasant as any other clerk in America.
Typical American Muslims? It might be typical of the experiences average Americans have with Muslims. But it doesn’t matter to many conservatives whose fear of Muslims seems to have exploded on to the front pages of American newspapers, shocking many of us with the inexplicable, unreasoning notion that America is in grave danger of being Islamicized. Fighting against “dhimmitude” and making wild accusations of plots to bring Sharia law to America against the will of the Christian majority is now a respectable pastime for pundits and mainstream conservative politicians alike.

Incredibly, there seems to have been an explosion of Koran scholars among conservatives on the internet as well. I don’t know where they all came from or what graduate school would have been so hard up to accept them, but there sure are a lot of frustrated academics on the right who specialize in telling us everything we don’t know about Islam - and were afraid to ask.

Write a piece about Islam or any prominent Muslim and the comments will be filled with do-it-yourself experts on the Koran and Sura, citing chapter and verse where it says that it’s OK to lie for Allah, killing Christians is a blessed act, and the goal of all Muslims is to place their boot on the neck of  America. If it wasn’t so pathetically ignorant, it would be amusing. The thought that a couple of million Muslims could impose their will on 150 million Christians is infantile. But that doesn’t stop some on the right from having a cow whenever an American community tries to accommodate the rituals and practices of Islam, or tries to expose kids to the complicated history of Islam and the West.

Being fearful of radical Islam is a good thing. The forced nonchalance on the left in their approach to combating terrorism represents a far greater danger to the republic than the healthy, intelligent recognition of the threat posed by Islamic extremists. Fear, as Ben Franklin noted, focuses the mind wonderfully. It is in that spirit that we acknowledge the extremity of the threat of terrorism, and plan accordingly to counter the jihadists in order to defend ourselves.

But to fear all Muslims is irrational. That hasn’t stopped a growing cadre of conservatives from initiating a campaign to demonize all Muslims everywhere, regardless of whether they are peaceful adherents of Islam or not.

What began after 9/11 as a few internet bigots twisting Islamic teachings to fit a predetermined narrative of violence and misogyny has become a mass movement with recognized leaders and politicians who seek to adopt the rhetoric and tactics of the fear mongers to make political hay. This October profile of Pam Geller in the New York Times pretty much says it all. Along with her sidekick Robert Spencer, a rogue academic whose musings on Islam are rejected by many mainstream Muslim scholars, Geller and Spencer represent an organized effort to deny the religion of Islam parity in American life with Christianity and Judaism.

Any attempt to accommodate Muslims be it foot baths at college campuses or time off for a Muslim holiday is portrayed as caving in to terrorists. The fact that the Muslim population of America is so tiny, and the threat seen by these bigots is so large suggests either a mass delusion or fear mongering for political purposes.

If this fear were confined to the fringes of the right, you might roll your eyes and chalk it up to the polarization and excessive ideology on both sides of the political divide. And if this abject fear were confined to Muslims, it might be thought of as an ideological anomaly, a result of the national trauma of 9/11. But in statements made by some candidates during the midterm campaign, as well as ads run in some districts, it is clear that fear of gays and illegal immigrants — largely Mexicans — have also achieved a kind of nauseating legitimacy on the right that would be shameful if those who are deliberately ratcheting up the fear could feel any shame at all.

The animus directed against illegal immigrants is so over the top that it suggests that many are less concerned with protecting our borders and more concerned with keeping America safe for white folk. There is indeed a racial element to the immigration debate. Just ask most Hispanic Americans. The message being sent by many conservatives is you’re not welcome - even if you’re here legally. Does the right really think that Hispanics voted 2-1 in favor of Democrats this past election because they thought Obama was doing such a fine job?  It should tell conservatives something that in the midst of the worst economy in 80 years, with the Hispanic community hard hit by joblessness, that they would see “more of the same” as the lesser of two evils.

As any rational American, I want our laws enforced, the border made secure as much as can be reasonably expected in an open, democratic society, and that something be done about the 10-12 million illegal aliens already here. It’s one of the toughest, most contentious problems we face and we’re not going to solve it by demagoguing the issue in order to appeal to the worst nativist instincts found in the American psyche.

What of those illegals already here? Do we deny them medical care? Do we make their kids stay at home all day by preventing them from going to school? Let’s not forget that American business makes a home for illegals in America by hiring them to do the scut work that Americans refuse to do. We’re not going to pay anyone $14 an hour to pick lettuce so we better get used to the idea of a guest worker program. And while amnesty has been proved to be a terrible idea, some kind of path to citizenship for those who truly want to be Americans has to be found and an orderly means of facilitating legal immigration that doesn’t involve waiting periods of years must be developed.

No easy answers to be sure. But we’re not going to find any answers at all as long as many on the right view Mexicans as criminals, or worse, the cause of unemployment and a drain on government resources. Reasonable people can disagree about the nature of how to approach the illegal immigration problem. But it must be done without the baggage of mindless fear directed toward illegals.

If many on the right are anti-Muslim and fearful of illegal immigrants, the attitude toward gays shown by many conservatives strikes me as being the most irrational. The mixture of sexual politics and religious fervor is a brew that has made otherwise kind, generous, intelligent people on the religious right into crusading bigots, unhinged from reality and filled with an unreasonable fear of what could happen if out of the closet homosexuals were to be considered equal with the heterosexual majority.

The idea that two people in love who want to get married are a threat to anyone or anything - including the institution of marriage which has been under attack by co-habitating heterosexuals for 40 years - is beyond the ken of my understanding. More than 50% of the families in America are “blended” families - products of two or more marriages. Marriage as an institution doesn’t need gays to be under assault. Straight people are doing a fine job at that, thank you with divorce rates that make one question why getting married in the first place is worth the effort.

There is a conservative case for gay marriage. Is there a conservative case for repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?” DADT is a different issue since it involves our national security and the tiresome efforts of liberals to use the military as a social science lab. Still, if someone is willing to serve, it is hard to make a case that they should be denied the opportunity. I remember similar arguments regarding readiness and combat effectiveness used against allowing women on naval vessels, and African Americans being integrated with white army units. Today, it is impossible to imagine our military without either “experiment.”

Somehow, I don’t think the Joint Chiefs would have signed off on repeal of DADT if they really believed we would lose 250,000 enlistees over the issue, or that it would destroy the esprit d’corps and unit cohesiveness so vital in combat. I’m sure they have their doubts, but I can’t believe them to be such political creatures as to sacrifice the effectiveness of the armed forces.
Apparently, many on the right know better than the JCS. I can’t escape thinking that at least some of this opposition is rank homophobia, in which case it is the right that has the problem, not patriotic gays who wish to serve their country.With polls showing that 67% of Americans support repeal (even 47% of Republicans), it appears that once again, fear is driving many on the right, not logic or reason.

I wish I could say that the fear of Muslims, Mexicans, and gays was confined to a small, grumpy, fanatical fringe of the right. Indeed, I still have enough faith in conservatism to think that the majority is far less hateful, bigoted, and yes, racist than the crazies who fear for Christian America from Muslims, see Mexicans as criminals, and gays as a threat to the American family. But the voices of reaction and hate have bigger microphones, more ink, and occupy a larger space on the internet  than those of us who believe their anger and fear are destroying the social fabric of America.

They are wrong. And America suffers because of them.


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