Friday, November 18, 2005

Celestial Drops


The strange case of supernatural water
Florida tested ‘Celestial Drops’ to see if they warded off citrus canker
Florida's citrus crop contributes billions of dollars to the state's economy, so when that industry is threatened, anything that might help is considered. Back in 2001, when citrus canker was blighting the crop and threatening to reduce that vital source of revenue, an interesting — if not quite scientific — alternative was considered.
Katherine Harris, then Florida's secretary of state — and now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives — ordered a study in which, according to an article by Jim Stratton in the Orlando Sentinel, "researchers worked with a rabbi and a cardiologist to test ‘Celestial Drops,' promoted as a canker inhibitor because of its ‘improved fractal design,' ‘infinite levels of order,' and ‘high energy and low entropy.'"
The study determined that the product tested was, basically, water that had apparently been blessed according to the principles of Kabbalic mysticism, "chang[ing] its molecular structure and imbu[ing] it with supernatural healing powers."
Citrus canker is a bacterial disease that affects all citrus trees. Caused by a bacterium, Xanthomonas axonopodis, citrus canker can be spread from tree to tree by windborne rain, the movements of birds and other animals, and human activity, such as improper disposal of infected trees and fruit. The bacterium causes brown, crusted lesions with yellow haloes to appear on the surfaces of leaves and the skin of fruit, reducing the leaves' photosynthetic capacity and stunting the growth and preventing the maturation of the fruit.
The only accepted means of fighting the blight is the downing of affected trees and proper disposal of their remains.
The Florida state government is frequently bombarded with new supposed cures and preventatives. Most of them are not tested by the state with government funds. But in this one case, at least, it appears that an exception was made: Six months were spent establishing testing protocols and, finally, testing Celestial Drops. In a letter to the state government, Wayne Dixon, the head of Florida's Bureau of Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology, reported that the "product is a hoax and not based on any credible known science." He added, "I wish to maintain our standing in the scientific community and not allow [the developers of Celestial Drops] to use our hard-earned credibility" to promote their product.
David Park Musella is an editorial assistant with Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

BYU Physics Professor calls for new 9/11 investigation

From Vivalecanada:

The World Trade Center towers were DemolishedContributed by: somebigguy

This unbelievable news is finally hitting the mainstream media!!A recent paper by Brigham Young Physics Professor Steven Jones states the need for an investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11 due to overwhelming evidence that controlled demolition was the cause. This paper can be found here:
Professor Steven Jones was then the subject of the following Utah newspaper article:
Then he was featured in this Utah news broadcast:
And finally last night Steven Jones was a guest on the mainstream news show The Situation Room with Tucker Carlson. This video is available here:
It is great to see that these alternate views of what is arguably the most incredible events in our lifetimes are finally seeing the light of day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Chomsky Answers Guardian

From zNet:

Chomsky Answers Guardian
by Noam Chomsky

This is an open letter to a few of the people with whom I had discussed the Guardian interview of 31 October, on the basis of the electronic version, which is all that I had seen. Someone has just sent me a copy of the printed version, and I now understand why friends in England who wrote me were so outraged.

It is a nuisance, and a bit of a bore, to dwell on the topic, and I always keep away from personal attacks on me, unless asked, but in this case the matter has some more general interest, so perhaps it’s worth reviewing what most readers could not know. The general interest is that the print version reveals a very impressive effort, which obviously took careful planning and work, to construct an exercise in defamation that is a model of the genre. It’s of general interest for that reason alone.

A secondary matter is that it may serve as a word of warning to anyone who is asked by the Guardian for an interview, and happens to fall slightly to the critical end of the approved range of opinion of the editors. The warning is: if you accept the invitation, be cautious, and make sure to have a tape recorder that is very visibly placed in front of you. That may inhibit the dedication to deceit, and if not, at least you will have a record. I should add that in probably thousands of interviews from every corner of the world and every part of the spectrum for decades, that thought has never occurred to me before. It does now.

It was evident from the electronic version that t was a scurrilous piece of journalism. That’s clear even from internal evidence. The reporter obviously had a definite agenda: to focus the defamation exercise on my denial of the Srebrenica massacre. From the character of what appeared, it is not easy to doubt that she was assigned this task. When I wouldn’t go along, she simply invented the denial, repeatedly, along with others. The centerpiece of the interview was this, describing my alleged views, in particular, that:

....during the Bosnian war the “massacre” at Srebrenica was probably overstated. (Chomsky uses quotations marks to undermine things he disagrees with and, in print at least, it can come across less as academic than as witheringly teenage; like, Srebrenica was so not a massacre.)

Transparently, neither I nor anyone speaks with quotation marks, so the reference to my claim that “Srebrenica was so not a massacre,” shown by my using the term “massacre” in quotes, must be in print – hence “witheringly teenage,” as well as disgraceful. That raises the obvious question: where is it in print, or anywhere? I know from letters that were sent to me that a great many journalists and others asked the author of the interview and the relevant editors to provide the source, and were met by stony silence – for a simple reason: it does not exist, and they know it. Furthermore, as Media Lens pointed out, with five minutes research on the internet, any journalist could find many places where I described the massacre as a massacre, never with quotes. That alone ends the story. I will skip the rest, which also collapses quickly.

More interesting, however, is the editorial contribution. One illustration actually is in the e-edition. I did write a very brief letter in response, which for some reason went to the ombudsman, who informed me that the word “fabrication” had to be removed. My truncated letter stating that I take no responsibility for anything attributed to me in the article did appear, paired with a moving letter from a victim, expressing justified outrage that I or anyone could take the positions invented in the Guardian article. Pairing aside, the heading given by the editors was: “Fall out over Srebrenica.” The editors are well aware that there was no debate or disagreement about Srebrenica, once the fabrications in their article are removed.
The printed version reveals how careful and well-planned the exercise was, and why it might serve as a model for the genre. The front-page announcement of the interview reads: “Noam Chomsky The Greatest Intellectual?” The question is answered by the following highlighted Q&A, above the interview:

Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated?

A: My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly enough

It is set apart in large print so that it can’t be missed, and will be quoted separately (as it already has been). It also captures the essence of the agenda. The only defect is that it didn’t happen. The truthful part is that I said, and explained at length, that I regret not having strongly enough opposed the Swedish publisher’s decision to withdraw a book by Diana (not “Diane,” as the Guardian would have it) Johnstone after it was bitterly attacked in the Swedish press. As Brockes presumably knew, though I carefully explained anyway, there is one source for my involvement in this affair: an open letter that I wrote to the publisher, after editors there who objected to the decision, and journalist friends, sent me the Swedish press charges that were the basis for the rejection. In the open letter, readily available on the internet (and the only source), I went through the charges one by one, checked them against the book, and found that they all ranged from serious misrepresentation to outright fabrication. I then took – and take – the position that it is completely wrong to withdraw a book because the press charges (falsely) that it does not conform to approved doctrine. And I do regret that “I didn’t do it strongly enough,” the words Brockes managed to quote correctly. In the interview, whatever Johnstone may have said about Srebrenica never came up, and is entirely irrelevant in any event, at least to anyone with a minimal appreciation of freedom of speech.

The article is then framed by a series of photographs. Let’s put aside childhood photos and an honorary degree -- included for no apparent reason other than, perhaps, to reinforce the image the reporter sought to convey of a rich elitist hypocrite who tells people how to live (citing a comment of her own, presumably supposed to be clever, which will not be found on the tape, I am reasonably confident). Those apart, there are three photos depicting my actual life. It’s an interesting choice, and the captions are even more interesting.

One is a picture of me “talking to journalist John Pilger” (who isn’t shown, but let’s give the journal the benefit of the doubt of assuming he is actually in the original). The second is of me “meeting Fidel Castro.” The third, and most interesting, is a picture of me “in Laos en route to Hanoi to give a speech to the North Vietnamese.”

That’s my life: honoring commie-rats and the renegade who is the source of the word “pilgerize” invented by journalists furious about his incisive and courageous reporting, and knowing that the only response they are capable of is ridicule.

Since I’ll avoid speculation, you can judge for yourselves the role Pilger plays in the fantasy life of the editorial offices of the Guardian. And the choice is interesting in other ways. It’s true that I have met John a few times, much fewer than I would like because we both have busy lives. And possibly a picture was taken. It must have taken some effort to locate this particular picture, assuming it to be genuine, among the innumerable pictures of me talking to endless other people. And the intended message is very clear.
Turn to the Castro picture. In this case the picture, though clipped, is real. As the editors surely know, at least if those who located the picture did 2 minutes of research, the others in the picture (apart from my wife) were, like me, participants in the annual meeting of an international society of Latin American scholars, with a few others from abroad. This annual meeting happened to be in Havana. Like all others, I was in a group that met with Castro. End of second story.
Turn now to the third picture, from 1970. The element of truth is that I was indeed in Laos, and on my way to Hanoi. The facts about these trips are very easy to discover. I wrote about both in some detail right away, in two articles in the New York Review, reprinted in my book At War with Asia in 1970. It is easily available to Guardian editors, because it was recently reprinted. If they want to be the first to question the account (unlike reviewers in such radical rags as the journal of the Royal Institute, International Affairs), it would be very easy for a journalist to verify it: contact the two people who accompanied me on the entire trip, one then a professor of economics at Cornell, the other a minister of the United Church of Christ. Both are readily accessible. From the sole account that exists, the editor would know that in Laos I was engaged in such subversive activities as spending many hours in refugee camps interviewing miserable people who had just been driven by the CIA “clandestine army” from the Plain of Jars, having endured probably the most intense bombing in history for over two years, almost entirely unrelated to the Vietnam war. And in North Vietnam, I did spend most of my time doing what I had been invited to do: many hours of lectures and discussion, on any topic I knew anything about, in the bombed ruins of the Hanoi Polytechnic, to faculty who were able to return to Hanoi from the countryside during a lull in the bombing, and were very eager to learn about recent work in their own fields, to which they had had no access for years.

The rest of the trip “to Hanoi to give a speech to the North Vietnamese” is a Guardian invention. Those who frequent ultra-right defamation sites can locate the probable source of this ingenious invention, but even that ridiculous tale goes nowhere near as far as what the Guardian editors concocted, which is a new addition to the vast literature of vilification of those who stray beyond the approved bounds.
So that’s my life: worshipping commie-rats and such terrible figures as John Pilger. Quite apart from the deceit in the captions, simply note how much effort and care it must have taken to contrive these images to frame the answer to the question on the front page.

It is an impressive piece of work, and, as I said, provides a useful model for studies of defamation exercises, or for those who practice the craft. And also, perhaps, provides a useful lesson for those who may be approached for interviews by this journal.

This is incidentally only a fragment. The rest is mostly what one might expect to find in the scandal sheets about movie stars, familiar from such sources, and of no further interest.

Noam Chomsky

Vote fraud in Ohio? (again)

The Staggeringly Impossible Results of Ohio's '05 Election
READ MORE: Dick Cheney, George W. Bush

Is this the Election that will finally break the camel's back?
With so much going on, few have noticed the extraordinary outcome of last Tuesday's election in Ohio where the crooked state that brung you -- by hook and by crook -- a second term for George W. Bush may have turned in results so staggeringly impossible, that perhaps even the Mainstream Corporate Media (if only in Ohio?!) will have no choice but to look into it.

As usual, the Free Press' heroic Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are on the case. Their article on what happened on ballot issues 1 through 5 last week is A MUST READ for anybody who still gives the slightest damn about whatever democracy might be left in America.

I'll try to summarize here briefly. There were five initiatives on the ballot last week. Issue 1 was a controversial proposition for $2 billion in new state spending. The Christian Right was opposed (because some of the new funds might go to stem cell research), but otherwise, the Republican Governor Taft's Administration (he recently plead guilty to several counts of corruption) was pushing it hard alongside progressives in the state.

The Columbus Dispatch's pre-election polling, which Fritrakis and Wasserman describe as "uncannily accurate for decades", called the race correctly within 1% of the final result. The margin of error for the poll was +/- 2.5% with a 95% confidence interval. On Issue 1, the Dispatch poll was right on the money. They predicted 53% in favor, the final result was 54% in favor.

But then came Issues 2 through 5 put forward by ReformOhioNow.org -- a bi-partisan coalition pushing these four initiatives for Electoral Reform in the Buckeye State largely in response to their shameful '04 Election performance led by the extremely partisan Secretary of State (and Bush/Cheney '04 Co-Chair) J. Kenneth Blackwell.

On those four issues, which Blackwell and the Christian Right were against, the final results were impossibly different -- and we mean impossibly! -- from both the Dispatch's final polling before the election and all reasoned common-sense. Take a look:

ISSUE 1 ($2 Billion State Bond initiative)PRE-POLLING: 53% Yes, 27% No, 20% UndecidedFINAL RESULT: 54% Yes, 45% No

ISSUE 2 (Allow easier absentee balloting)PRE-POLLING: 59% Yes, 33% No, 9% UndecidedFINAL RESULT: 36% Yes, 63% No

ISSUE 3 (Revise campaign contribution limits)PRE-POLLING: 61% Yes, 25% No, 14% UndecidedFINAL RESULT: 33% Yes, 66% No

ISSUE 4 (Ind. Comm. to draw Congressional Districts)PRE-POLLING: 31% Yes, 45% No, 25% UndecidedFINAL RESULT: 30% Yes, 69% No

ISSUE 5 (Ind. Board instead of Sec. of State to oversee elections)PRE-POLLING: 41% Yes, 43% No, 16% UndecidedFINAL RESULT: 29% Yes, 70% No

Now, you tell us...What could possibly explain such unheard of differences between the Dispatch's poll and the final results?

Now, we'll tell you...This was the year that Ohio, under the encouragement and mandates of Blackwell, rolled out new Electronic Touch-Screen Voting Machines in 44 of its 88 counties...41 of them employeeing the same Diebold Touch-Screen Machines that California's Republican Sec. of State decertified in this state when 20% of them failed this summer in the largest test of its kind ever held.

Those would be the very same Electronic Voting Machines which a recent GAO Report (still unmentioned by a single wire-service or mainstream American newspaper) confirmed to be easily hackable.

Will the absurdly skewed results from last Tuesday's Ohio Election finally light a fire under the media -- either nationally or just in Ohio alone -- to look into what the hell is going on here?! We remain hopeful...if not optimistic.

The Free Press article is a must read, as mentioned, but we'll share their closing thoughts here on the possible reasons for the wildly unexplained discrepancy between the final polling and the final results which, as they posit, are due to either a completely inexplicable breakdown of the Dispatch's historically accurate polling methods wildly beyond the margin-of-error for all initiatives except Issue 1...or...somebody hacked that vote count:

If the latter is true, it can and will be done again, and we can forget forever about the state that has been essential to the election of every Republican presidential candidate since Lincoln.
And we can also, for all intents and purposes, forget about the future of American democracy.
Anybody in the Mainstream Media ready to give a damn yet?

Rush Limbaugh 'support the troops' scam

Rush Limbaugh has announced that he's sending his newsletter to our troops for free. Just kidding! He will only send the newsletter if someone 'donates' $50 per soldier.

From RushLimbaughOnline:

Rush Limbaugh's Adopt a Solider Program and Exploitation

Rush Announced his Adopt a Soldier Program But is it Really Generous and Patriotic?
On Friday, Limbaugh announced his "Adopt a Soldier Program". This involves soliciting money from listeners to pay for subscriptions to the Limbaugh letter and Rush 24/7 that will be "given" to the soldiers. Each listener can "adopt" as many soldiers as they wish who will each get a subscription. The donor pays the discounted price of $49.95 for each soldier. The description is on Rush's web site here... Adopt a Soldier Program Clearly this is a tasteless marketing ploy. Rush and Premiere Radio Networks are fattening their coffers by exploiting the generosity of listeners with the use of our military troops as props. There is not one thing stopping Limbaugh and Premiere from simply giving the subscriptions away. Rush 24/7 amounts to accessing content on rushlimbaugh.com. This content is produced and costs Premiere the same no matter how many people are consuming it. The Limbaugh Letter amounts to a handful of printed pages. If Rush and Premiere Radio Networks wished the troops to experience the generous and supportive spirit of the show, they would simply provide this to the troops instead of making it a function of how many Rush listeners are willing to pony up $49.95 per soldier. Without question, Rush and Premiere Radio Networks stand to make a tidy sum from this marketing effort. Let's suppose just 100,000 of the 3 million member listening audience forks over $49.95 to participate in this program. That comes out to a sum of $5,000,000. Subtracting the cost for paper and postage for 100,000 copies of the Limbaugh Letter makes only a slight dent. The profits are obviously quite large. To any sensible person, soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have needs far more urgent than either Rush 24/7 or the Limbaugh Letter. Items such as bullet proof vests, up-armored Humvees, airline tickets for family members to visit injured troops at Landstuhl or Walter Reed are certainly higher on the wish list. But such a donation drive would not result in Premiere Radio Networks making profits in the millions.

Strangely, Rush took the opportunity of this announcement of the "Adopt a Soldier Program" as something of a test for liberals.

BEGIN TRANSCRIPTRUSH: I've got an idea for you liberals. Liberals are always out there saying you "support the troops." Well, then adopt a soldier! Join the Adopt-a-Soldier program at RushLimbaugh.com if you're a lib and you want to say you support the troops. This is a great way to prove it.

Waxman's Iraq on the Record

About Iraq on the Record

Presented by Rep. Henry A. Waxman
On March 19, 2003, U.S. forces began military operations in Iraq. Addressing the nation about the purpose of the war on the day the bombing began, President Bush stated: “The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.” Two years later, many doubts have been raised regarding the Administration’s assertions about the threat posed by Iraq.

Prepared at the direction of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Iraq on the Record is a searchable collection of 237 specific misleading statements made by Bush Administration officials about the threat posed by Iraq. It contains statements that were misleading based on what was known to the Administration at the time the statements were made. It does not include statements that appear mistaken only in hindsight. If a statement was an accurate reflection of U.S. intelligence at the time it was made, it was excluded even if it now appears erroneous. For more information on how the statements were selected, see the full methodology.

The Iraq on the Record Report is a comprehensive examination of these statements.

Iraq on the Record is searchable by the the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq:
President George W. Bush Vice President Dick Cheney Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell Then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice

It is also searchable by issue area:
Iraq's Nuclear Capabilities Chemical and Biological Weapons Iraq and Al-Qaeda Iraq as an Urgent Threat

It is also searchable by keyword, such as "mushroom cloud", "uranium", or "bin Laden."

KCPW Controversy

From KSL:

Non-Profit Radio's Salaries Raise Some Eyebrows
November 14th, 2005 @ 5:13pm
John Hollenhorst Reporting

A public-radio executive says he's been unfairly criticized for his high salary and a profitable business deal. But others in the non-profit realm say they're shocked, or at the very least, have had their eyebrows raised.

The Salt Lake Tribune published the numbers--pretty big numbers for salaries and profitable ventures in non-profit public radio. But Blair Feulner says he's worth it because he's returned millions of dollars in value to listeners.

They're on the air in Park City as KPCW, at Library Square in Salt Lake as KCPW. Mostly news, and public affairs, highly informative, supported by listener dollars and business underwriters. Blair Feulner is the man who started it all many years ago.

Blair Feulner, KCPW/KPCW General Manager: "We are the best in the country at what we do. And we have the paperwork to prove it."

Feulner doesn't dispute the Salt Lake Tribune's report on his salary: 150,000-plus per year. Before his wife retired, together they made 280,000 two years ago. She worked there before they got married.

Blair Feulner: "She ran the business side and I ran the programming side. And I believe in equal pay for equal work."

But Salt Lake's other community station managers get a third to a half as much. James Roberts, a board member of KRCL, refused to criticize Feulner, but he's surprised.

James Roberts, KRCL Board: "I've not seen numbers that high at most non-profits, let alone non-profits in Utah."

KCPW board member David Simmons says Feulner's salary was set high for good reasons.
David Simmons, KPCW/KCPW Board Member: "Was both competitive, because we didn't want to lose the guy, and at the same time very fair. And I think we all felt very good about the decision and still feel very good about that decision."

Mayor Rocky Anderson says Feulner and his wife put their life into public radio in the early years for almost nothing.

Rocky Anderson, Mayor of Salt Lake City: "People who do a good job deserve to make good money."

Listeners and contributors will have the final say.

James Roberts, KRCL Board: "You know, ultimately they get to vote with their feet, either stay or not stay, based on whether they think that's fair or not fair."

The biggest eyebrow-raiser is a side deal that netted Feulner and his wife nearly 900,000 dollars. They arranged the purchase of a radio license in Coalvile, which the board later sold at an enormous profit. Because of a prior agreement with the board, the Feulner's got one-fourth of the profit.

SLC Library Boy: This is the radio station I volunteer for. I don't really have an opinion about the salary...all I know is that it is a great radio station.