U.S. Military Pays Iraqis for Positive News Stories on War :.

Imagine my shock:

U.S. Army officers have been secretly paying Iraqi journalists to produce upbeat newspaper, radio and television reports about American military operations and the conduct of the war in Iraq.

U.S. officials in Washington said the payments were made through the Baghdad Press Club, an organization they said was created more than a year ago by U.S. Army officers. They are part of an extensive American military-run information campaign - including psychological warfare experts - intended to build popular support for U.S.-led stabilization efforts and erode support for Sunni Muslim insurgents.


Counterintelligence Field Activity :.

The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. The proposal, made by a presidential commission, would transform CIFA from an office that coordinates Pentagon security efforts -- including protecting military facilities from attack -- to one that also has authority to investigate crimes within the United States such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage or even economic espionage.

The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence.

Paul Hellyer's Alien Comments :.

When will "aliens" take over from al Qaeda as the boogeymen of choice? Man, I can't wait for that.

Alas, maybe this old codger just drank too much sauce before his speech:

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada's Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Hellyer's speech ended with a standing ovation. He said, "The time has come to lift the veil of secrecy, and let the truth emerge, so there can be a real and informed debate, about one of the most important problems facing our planet today."

High Frequency Noise Repels Teenagers :.

I don't know if this is funny, frightening or both:

The device, called the Mosquito ("It's small and annoying," Stapleton said), emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that, he said, can be heard by most people younger than 20 and almost no one older than 30. The sound is designed to so irritate young people that after several minutes, they cannot stand it and go away.


Randy 'Duke' Cunningham's Next Assignment: Prison Bitch :.

When standard operating procedure bumps up against the need to maintain appearances:

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned his office today after pleading guilty to fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion in a political corruption case.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns accepted the pleas from Cunningham, 63, including the congressman's admission in federal court that he had accepted bribes in exchange for performance of his official duties.

Miami Police Stage "Random Shows of Force" :.

All this will do is remind people that they are living in a police state:

Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats.

"This is an in-your-face type of strategy. It's letting the terrorists know we are out there," Fernandez said.

Research Credit:


This is what experienced traders call overshooting a major new high. This isn't system-collapse-style panic buying. Not yet.

Just by eyeballing this, it looks like the second magic mystery dot move in the last couple of days. Watch for a short term pullback:

Gold futures in New York rose above $500 an ounce for first time in almost 18 years after the dollar fell the most in more than seven weeks versus the euro, increasing bullion's appeal as an alternative investment.

The dollar fell more than 1 percent against the euro yesterday after an industry report showed U.S. home sales in October fell more than analysts expected. Gold has jumped 15 percent this year, outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the 10-year Treasury note.

GOLD $498 $500.70 AS JAPAN BUYS :.

Japanese investors are eagerly diversifying their assets into precious metals as an alternative to stocks, bonds and currencies to boost returns.


Ritual Abuse of British Royal Marines :.

I think this one falls into the realm of Rigorous Intuition, but here you go anyway...

I won't even begin to venture any guesses as to what is happening in this video, but the surgeon's smock was an interesting touch. I couldn't help thinking of the MK handler in the new version of the Manchurian Candidate... "Hello Capitan, do you remember me?"

WARNING: Remove children from the room.

THE News of the World exposes the bullying culture of Britain's elite armed forces with a secret video documenting a sickening catalogue of abuse.

A young Royal Marine is FORCED into a barbaric naked fight with another recruit and then KICKED unconscious by a superior in a brutal booze-fuelled initiation ceremony.

And the shocking ritual---covertly filmed by a commando---is alleged to be one of many imposed on recruits.


China: Environmental Cataclysm, Millions without Water :.

Officials in Jilin City in China misled the public and then tried to dilute a huge benzene spill that had contaminated drinking water, it was revealed yesterday.

One hundreds tons of the carcinogenic chemical were discharged into the Songhua river earlier this month after an exposion at the 101 Chemical Plant in Jilin. The river supplies water to Harbin, the largest city in north-east China, which had its mains supply cut off this week.

Despite knowing that the blast had caused the equivalent of 10 tankerloads of benzene to enter the river on 13 November, Jilin officials told Chinese media the next day that the blast did not cause any air or water pollution. They also wanted to use reservoir water to dilute the pollution. The handling of the incident was an embarrassing and untimely reminder of the Chinese authorities' propensity for covering up bad news.

In a further blow to the credibility of the authorities, it was also revealed that another chemical plant had suffered an accident. The explosion at a chemical plant in Dianjiang county in Chongqing in western China killed one worker and caused the closure of two schools and the evacuation of at least 6,000 people, after strong-smelling smoke enveloped the area.

The incident, earlier this week, was not made public until yesterday - a cover-up reminiscent of the way Beijing tried to conceal the Sars outbreak in 2003.

There has been outrage in the Chinese media over the plight of 3.8 million of Harbin's nine million residents, who have been without water since midnight on Tuesday, but senior officials were still insisting that the authorities acted in an appropriate manner.

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Thanks KH!


I'm starting to wonder if aspartame was designed, from the beginning, as a mass culling agent:

A statistically significant increase in the incidence of malignant tumors, lymphomas and leukemias in rats exposed to varying doses of aspartame appears to link the artificial sweetener to a high carcinogenicity rate, according to a study accepted for publication today by the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). The authors of the study, the first to demonstrate multipotential carcinogenic effects of aspartame administered to rats in feed, called for an "urgent reevaluation" of the current guidelines for the use and consumption of this compound.

"Our study has shown that aspartame is a multipotential carcinogenic compound whose carcinogenic effects are also evident at a daily dose of 20 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg), notably less than the current acceptable daily intake for humans," the authors write. Currently, the acceptable daily intake for humans is set at 50 mg/kg in the United States and 40 mg/kg in Europe.

Aspartame is the second most widely used artificial sweetener in the world. It is found in more than 6,000 products including carbonated and powdered soft drinks, hot chocolate, chewing gum, candy, desserts, yogurt, and tabletop sweeteners, as well as some pharmaceutical products like vitamins and sugar-free cough drops. More than 200 million people worldwide consume it. The sweetener has been used for more than 30 years, having first been approved by the FDA in 1974. Studies of the carcinogenicity of aspartame performed by its producers have been negative.

The treated animals showed extensive evidence of malignant cancers including lymphomas, leukemias, and tumors at multiple organ sites in both males and females. The authors speculate the increase in lymphomas and leukemias may be related to one of the metabolites in aspartame, namely methanol, which is metabolized in both rats and humans to formaldehyde. Both methanol and formaldehyde have shown links to lymphomas and leukemias in other long-term experiments by the same authors.

The current study included more animals over a longer period than earlier studies. "In our opinion, previous studies did not comply with today's basic requirements for testing the carcinogenic potential of a physical or chemical agent, in particular concerning the number of rodents for each experimental group (40-86, compared to 100-150 in the current study) and the termination of previous studies at only 110 weeks of age of the animals," the study authors wrote.

Black Friday: Dawn of the Dead :.

Now playing at a shopping mall near you:

Orlando police officers were called to break up some fights between shoppers early Friday as Central Floridians flocked to stores for one of the busiest shopping days of the year, according to Local 6 News.

Line jumpers at a Best Buy at the Fashion Square Mall apparently started a fight at around 11:30 p.m. Officers responded and there were no arrests.

However, one person may be arrested for starting a fight at a Wal-Mart in east Orange County early Friday.

Some shoppers waited for as long as seven hours to be the first in the doors for bargains.

The day after Thanksgiving is known as "Black Friday" because traditionally it's seen as the day most retailers go into the "black" and start earning a profit for the year.

"I am looking for a plasma TV," Central Florida shopper Laura Campbell said. "I can get it for $287 instead of $700."

Local 6 News showed video of store shelves already empty.


Black Market Raw Milk :.

The wanderers will come from miles around to hear the stories by the fire. Those of us who left the centers of "progress" and "innovation"---before the simplification---will talk about how the Machine destroyed the mind of man and made an enemy of the natural world...

Or something like that.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Know that there will be pockets of survivors and hope that they will not make the same mistakes that we did:

Fans of organic raw milk are going to extremes to get their fix.

Months after the state's only raw organic dairy was shut down, black-market buyer groups have emerged, drophouses are cropping up, and FedEx is making special deliveries to the Valley from California.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has long refused to budge from its stance that raw milk is dangerous, possibly carrying high levels of potentially deadly pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli. State dairy regulators, also concerned about the health risks, enforce strict rules on raw-milk producers and sellers and are cracking down on illegal practices.

Still, consumer demand is brisk. Nationally and in Arizona, people are breaking the law to get their hands on raw organic milk, claiming it is superior in health and taste to the pasteurized, homogenized milk found on the supermarket shelf. They swear it tastes like melted vanilla ice cream.

"It's like heroin right now," said Tony Spaltro, a night manager at Gentle Strength Co-Op in Tempe, one of the few places Arizona consumers can purchase raw milk.

Research Credit:

Padilla Indicted After Three Years :.

Arbitrary imprisonment at the whim of the president:

Three years after the Bush administration labeled U.S. citizen Jose Padilla an enemy combatant and denied him normal access to the courts, he's facing criminal charges that he trained as a terrorist in preparation to fight a jihad.


A Gutless, Draft-Dodging Coward Named Dick Cheney :.

The last thing we need in the increasingly bitter Iraq debate is a gutless, draft-dodging coward like Dick Cheney criticizing those who did serve their country.

The Vice President, who used multiple deferments to avoid serving his country during the Vietnam conflict, jumped into the fray big time last week and again on Monday with an acrid broadside against those who properly question the President’s motives for dragging the country into the bloody dead-end called Iraq.

"This is revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety," Cheney said yesterday. "It has no place anywhere in American politics."

Sorry Dickie boy, but it is you and your cronies at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who have "no place anywhere in American politics." It is hypocrites like you, you shameless, cowardly son-of-a-bitch, who should be led from the White House in chains and locked away in some hellhole to rot for eternity.

Related: Cheney's Shotgun Rampage

Report: Bush Talked of Bombing Al-Jazeera :.

Let the D notices fly!

A civil servant has been charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo that a newspaper said Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded President Bush not to bomb the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.

The Daily Mirror reported that Bush spoke of targeting Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, when he met Blair at the White House on April 16, 2004. The Bush administration has regularly accused Al-Jazeera of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments.

The Daily Mirror attributed its information to unidentified sources. One source, said to be in the government, was quoted as saying that the alleged threat was "humorous, not serious," but the newspaper quoted another source as saying that "Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair."

Related: Control Room Is a Great Documentary

JFK: All These Secrets Are the Same Secret :.

Old essay.

Gold Approaches $500

Session high: $495.30

Off Topic: Grain Mills

Do any of you have hands on experience with either the Country Living or Diamant mills?

We're thinking about going with the Country Living mill because it employs sealed ball bearings and carbon steel burrs. It's also hundreds of dollars less than the Diamant.


Cryptogon Donations

Some Cryptogon readers have sent donations over the past several days:

AF $20
GC $25
MW $20

Thank you all for your kind words and congratulations on my marriage to Becky.


What is Google Doing? :.

I don't know what Google is up to, but they aren't kidding around:

So why buy-up all that fiber, then?

The probable answer lies in one of Google's underground parking garages in Mountain View. There, in a secret area off-limits even to regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn't just any shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data center. Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We're talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig. The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid.

General Motors Slashes 30,000 Jobs :.

General Motors said on Monday it would cut 30,000 North American manufacturing jobs and close a dozen plants as it struggles to compete with fast-growing rivals led by Toyota Motor. The cuts affect about a quarter of the North American factory work force at GM and are the deepest since it eliminated 21 plants and 74,000 jobs over four years beginning in December 1991.


Ireland Cleans Up with Low Corporate Tax Rates :.

Ireland faces a threat to its tax revenues from the European Union and the United States as international concerns grow about the attractiveness of Ireland's low-tax regime for companies.

The European Commission has published proposals for the harmonisation of the European corporation tax base, effectively standardising the way tax is calculated across Europe, which Ireland's EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has described as tax harmonisation "by the back door".

Now pressure is also growing on the US government following news stories which have shown that US companies such as Microsoft and Google are avoiding hundreds of millions of dollars in US taxes by paying the lower rates of corporate tax in Ireland.


Gene Turn-Off Makes Meek Mice Fearless :.

New Scientist should be re-named to the Joseph Mengele Weekly:

Deactivating a specific gene transforms meek mice into daredevils, researchers have found. The team believe the research might one day enable people suffering from fear - in the form of phobias or anxiety disorders, for example - to be clinically treated.

The research found that mice lacking an active gene for the protein stathmin are not only more courageous, but are also slower to learn fear responses to pain-associated stimuli, says geneticist Gleb Shumyatsky, at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US.


Low Post Volume

Work is bad right now. Mumbling-to-myself-at-the-end-of-the-day kind of bad. Apologies for the low post volume.

America's Largest Organic Dairy is a Sham :.

The Aurora Organic Dairy, located in Colorado and with a herd approaching 6000 cows, appears to have violated numerous organic regulations governing the rearing of animals entering its vast factory farm operation.


Collard Greens

My wife spotted a vendor at our farmer's market who sells organic collard greens. For the last few weeks, we have been enjoying this simple, tasty and extremely nutritious treat with dinner.

Thoroughly wash and then ribbon cut a bunch of organic collard greens.

Set a pot of water on the stove to boil and add a big pinch of salt.

Get out a large mixing bowl. Add some high quality olive oil, black pepper, and one (or two or more!) cloves of raw, pressed garlic. Squeeze in some fresh lemon or lime juice.

By now, your water should be boiling. Toss in your collards and boil them for five minutes. Drain.

Place the boiled collards in the mixing bowl and mix it all up.
That's it! You're ready to gobble up a tasty treat!

UPDATE: Last night, Becky crumbled some stinky goat cheese on top of the collards, just before serving. Oh man... that was something.

Not Guilty: Israeli Army Capitan Who Executed Palestinian School Girl :.

Pure evil:

An Israeli army officer who fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was acquitted on all charges by a military court yesterday.

The soldier, who has only been identified as "Captain R", was charged with relatively minor offences for the killing of Iman al-Hams who was shot 17 times as she ventured near an Israeli army post near Rafah refugee camp in Gaza a year ago.

The manner of Iman's killing, and the revelation of a tape recording in which the captain is warned that she was just a child who was "scared to death", made the shooting one of the most controversial since the Palestinian intifada erupted five years ago even though hundreds of other children have also died.

After the verdict, Iman's father, Samir al-Hams, said the army never intended to hold the soldier accountable.

"They did not charge him with Iman's murder, only with small offences, and now they say he is innocent of those even though he shot my daughter so many times," he said. "This was the cold-blooded murder of a girl. The soldier murdered her once and the court has murdered her again. What is the message? They are telling their soldiers to kill Palestinian children."

Cryptogon Reader Contributes $10

Thanks for the wedding gift/contribution, CF!

Daniel Ellsberg on Bush :.

Daniel Ellsberg, the former U.S. intelligence official responsible for leaking the so-called Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and 18 other newspapers, told an audience of about 400 that the Bush administration most likely would respond to any terror attack on U.S. soil by severely restricting freedom of the press and the individual's right to speak out.

"In a time of fear, I believe that the majority of the American people will cling to authority," Ellsberg told the gathering at Columbia High School for New Jersey Peace Action's annual luncheon.

"And if there is another terror attack," Ellsberg added sarcastically, "I believe the president will get what he wants. And what he wants is a new Patriot Act, one that will make the current Patriot Act look like the Bill of Rights."

UK Building Vehicle Tracking System :.

Are we safe yet? Not yet:

A "24x7 national vehicle movement database" that logs everything on the UK's roads and retains the data for at least two years is now being built, according to an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) strategy document leaked to the Sunday Times. The system, which will use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), and will be overseen from a control centre in Hendon, London, is a sort of 'Gatso 2' network, extending. enhancing and linking existing CCTV, ANPR and speedcam systems and databases.

Which possibly explains why the sorcerer's apprentices in ACPO's tech section don't seem to have needed any kind of Parliamentary approval to begin the deployment of what promises to be one the most pervasive surveillance systems on earth.

The control centre is intended to go live in April of next year, and is intended to be processing 50 million number plates a day by year end.


Economists Expect Sharp Recession After Real-Estate Bubble Bursts :.

Much of the nation has had a lovely real estate boom for the past five years, but the house party is almost over and the cleanup won't be pretty.

That's the word from economists and investors who have watched housing prices march ever higher.

"The collapse of the housing bubble will throw the economy into a recession, and quite likely a severe recession," warned a July report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

In recent weeks, many major investment firms have concurred. Said a Lehman Brothers report, "[A] turn in the housing market is central to our economic forecast."

"The demographic story behind the housing market boom, as we always thought, was a giant hoax," wrote Merrill Lynch & Co.'s North American economist, David Rosenberg, in a recent report.

If housing prices decline sharply, the effects could be broad. Lehman estimates one-third of the past year's U.S. economic growth was a consequence of the housing boom. Housing construction is equal to 5 percent of the national economy.

A downturn in housing could mean more than 1.3 million lost jobs, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts, bumping up the national unemployment rate by 1 percent and the unemployment rate in house-mad California by 2 percent. Those numbers don't include likely job cuts in housing-dependent businesses, such as banking, furniture and building materials.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research predicts worse, saying a bubble burst would mean the loss of 5 million to 6.3 million jobs.

The housing run-up has financed consumer spending, creating more than $5 trillion in bubble wealth, the center estimates. Consumers have used "cash-out" mortgages to pay for everything from new kitchens to college tuition.

A final nightmare scenario: A federal bailout of the mortgage market is likely if housing crashes, the center predicts. So, if corporate pension funds continue to falter and this dire prediction does come true, the Feds could conceivably be holding your mortgage and your pension.


Kuwait: World's Second Largest Oil Field Has Peaked :.

The peak output of the Burgan oil field will now be around 1.7 million barrels per day, and not the two million barrels per day forecast for the rest of the field's 30 to 40 years of life, Chairman Farouk Al Zanki told Bloomberg.

He said that engineers had tried to maintain 1.9 million barrels per day but that 1.7 million is the optimum rate. Kuwait will now spend some $3 million a year for the next year to boost output and exports from other fields.

However, it is surely a landmark moment when the world's second largest oil field begins to run dry. For Burgan has been pumping oil for almost 60 years and accounts for more than half of Kuwait's proven oil reserves. This is also not what forecasters are currently assuming.

Research Credit: RT


U.S. Army Admits Use of White Phosphorus as Weapon :.

...the claim by the US Government that White Phosphorus was used only for illumination at Fallujah had been pre-emptively debunked by the Army.

BBC: Amman Blasts Bear al-Qaeda Hallmark :.

In other news, from, Israelis were evacuated from the Amman hotel hours before the bombings:
A number of Israelis staying on Wednesday at the Radisson hotel were evacuated before the bombing by Jordanian security forces, apparently due to a specific security alert. They were escorted back to Israel by security personnel.

The Foreign Ministry stated Wednesday that no Israeli tourists are known to have been injured in the blasts. Representatives of Israel's embassy in Amman were in contact with local authorities to examine any report of injured Israelis, but none were received.
Well, well, well...

UPDATE: Edan's Letter

You'll love this. Some guy wrote to me saying that I've taken the above Haaretz quote "out of context." Interestingly enough, the original content of the story has been disappeared by Haaretz.

Imagine my shock.

Thanks Edan, I'll make a point of keeping the original quote posted, and I'll post your letter, in its entirety, so everyone can see what the writing of a fascist shill looks like. Have a nice day:

I really like your site most of the time - you seem to find EXTREMELY interesting news science/tech articles. And I plan on moving to NZ one day and opening an organic farm as well.


Your anti-Israel stance is really out of control. I am both Israeli and American and I think both governments are insane and have seriously f*cked-up policies


Your recent post on the Jordan bombings is COMPLETELY taken out of context.

The actual Ha'aretz quote is:

>>There is no truth to reports that Israelis staying at the Radisson SAS hotel in Amman on Wednesday were evacuated by Jordanian security forces before the bombing that took place there.<<

A good journalist would amend the post --- a good Israel-hater wouldn't.

Which are you?

Related: Cryptogon Stories on Israel

Apple DRM: System and Method for Creating Tamper-Resistant Code :.

Make your time:

On Nov. 3, the US Patent & Trademark Office revealed that Apple has filed patent application 20050246554 titled "system and method for creating tamper-resistant code." James D. Batson is listed as the sole inventor for application 837413 originally filed in April 2004. This appears to be related to Apple’s forthcoming Tiger-Intel platform.

Bush Borrowed More Than All Previous Presidents Combined :.

With fiscal conservatives like this, who needs liberals?

President Bush and the current administration have borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 presidents combined, a group of conservative to moderate Democrats said Friday.

Blue Dog Coalition, which describes itself as a group "focused on fiscal responsibility," called the administration's borrowing practices "astounding."

According to the Treasury Department, from 1776-2000, the first 224 years of U.S. history, 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions, but in the past four years alone, the Bush administration borrowed $1.05 trillion.

IBM's Public Image Monitoring Solution :.

It's important to maintain appearances:

Corporate leaders who ignore what bloggers are saying about them and their businesses could have serious consequences.

IBM today introduced new software that monitors and analyzes blogs, wikis, news feeds, consumer review sites, newsgroups and other community-generated content to keep tabs on their image.



Becky and I got married this morning!

Update: Video

Our close friends, Carmen and Fernando, were with us. Fernando is documentary filmmaker.

The Robot that Thinks Like You :.

Give that thing a gun:

Scientists built a robot that thinks like we do and set it loose to explore the world. New Scientist discovers what happened next

THE infant crawls across a floor strewn with blocks, grabbing and tasting as it goes, its malleable mind impressionable and hungry to learn. Before my eyes it is already adapting, discovering that the striped blocks are yummy and the spotted ones taste bad.

Its exploration is driven by instincts: an interest in bright objects, a predilection for tasting things, and an innate notion of what tastes good. This, after all, is how babies explore the world and discover that pink, perky objects exist, and that they produce milk. Hands-on exploration moulds their billions of untrained brain cells into a fully functioning brain.

The infant I am watching wander around its rather spartan playpen in the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) in La Jolla, California, is a more limited creature. It is a trashcan-shaped robot called Darwin VII, and it has just 20,000 brain cells.

Research Credit: TP


U.S. Pays Iraqi Man $5,000 After Murdering His Wife and Son :.

Bargains, American style:

HAMEED Hassan sat in the remains of his car, next to his dead wife, and watched his four-year-old son begin to bleed to death.

The family had been on the way to buy clothes in Rawah's small market when the American soldiers opened fire. A helicopter gunship joined in the attack, cutting the car and two of its occupants to pieces.

Hassan's wife, Basima Taha, died almost immediately. His youngest son, Mahmoud Muhsin, was not as lucky. Hit in the torso, his abdomen was torn open, a wound that would prove fatal.

They were outside the main government building in Rawah, a town on the Euphrates River about 90km from the Syrian border, deep in Sunni al-Anbar province, when Hassan turned his car around. He drove down a side street, alongside the civic centre, and found himself heading towards a group of US soldiers - engaged at that time in a major anti-insurgent offensive.

"They started shooting straight away," he said, "I saw no signal, no warning, just the bullets hitting my car. The helicopter joined in. I saw my wife was killed."

The soldiers drove off, leaving the family in the street.

The US military has not apologised for the incident. But it has agreed to pay compensation for the killings, an acceptance that innocent lives were lost.

Under the US "consequence management" system, there is a maximum payout of $2,500 per claim. A dead wife and a dead son are equivalent to two claims; meaning Hassan is in line to receive a total of $5,000 in cash.

Sergeant Jeffery Mubarak, a 37-year-old veteran of four US wars, is one of the soldiers processing compensation in Rawah. "Do I think we're paying the man enough money," he said, "No, I don't. But I just work here. I don't set the rates.

Fallujah - The Hidden Massacre :.

Support our troops?

See what happened when they rained white phosphorus on civilians in Fallujah.

Power Source that Turns Physics on its Head :.

BlackLight Power has been around for years, but why not post this?

It seems too good to be true: a new source of near-limitless power that costs virtually nothing, uses tiny amounts of water as its fuel and produces next to no waste. If that does not sound radical enough, how about this: the principle behind the source turns modern physics on its head.

DARPA Funds Solar Power for Battlefield :.

The terminator robots need clean power too:

A consortium led by the University of Delaware on Wednesday said that it could receive nearly $53 million in funding - with the bulk of the money coming from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) - to more than double the efficiency of terrestrial solar cells within the next 50 months.

The technology hopes to bring solar energy for soldiers on the battlefield. It is also aimed for commercial applications as well.

Big Loss for NZ Greens: Rod Donald Dies Suddenly :.

Yesterday morning, Becky and I were having breakfast at a restaurant when I noticed an old guy wearing suspenders [braces, in New Zealand English]. I made a comment about how I'm going to have to get some of those once we're in New Zealand and the crust starts to set in on our farm. Becky started telling me about Rod Donald, his political activities and his signature red braces and the possum pelt seat cover that he uses in parliament. That was the first I'd ever heard of the guy.

Later that night, Becky's mom called and told us that he had died.

New Zealand: Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels When You Sell Your Soul :.

Don't take any wooden nickels
When you sell your soul
A devil of a time awaits you
When the party's over
You're on your own

-Eels, Wooden Nickels
New Zealand is selling resident visas for NZ$2 million. What kind of people have a spare NZ$2 million lying around? Hint: You don't want them showing up in your neck of the woods.

I don't know if Kiwis know what they're dealing with, but I hope they figure it out before these wealthy imports trash the place. And trash the place they will, because their money will corrupt the political system. That is a mathematical certainty.

As someone fleeing a place that has been destroyed by investment, and progress, please hear me: don't let the same thing happen in New Zealand.

...If you're rich enough, you can now effectively buy your way into this country. A residency visa is yours as long as you've got a lazy two million dollars to invest in a government controlled account.

PESCHARDT: You're getting more than your fair share of rich and famous aren't you?

PRIME MINISTER HELEN CLARK: Oh we're doing very well with people who show an interest here. There's the odd person who's made their hundreds of millions and the United States economy who find sanctuary here in New Zealand.

PESCHARDT: There is an issue though isn't there, a serious issue, do you think it's morally right for a country as it were to sell a visa?

PRIME MINISTER HELEN CLARK: I think that we would not be the only country that had an investor category and New Zealand needs investment. As a country right through our history, we've been short on capital. We import the savings of others. We haven't been great savers ourselves so having people able to come here with investment resources that they can put to use in New Zealand, actually helps out a lot.


Bush: Making Friends and Influencing People :.

What will 'god' tell him to do next?

Nearly six in 10 Americans, 58%, said they had doubts about the president's honesty, a 13% rise in 18 months. Only 32% believed Mr Bush was handling ethical issues well, a significantly worse score than Bill Clinton achieved in his last scandal-besmirched year in office. His overall popularity has plunged to 39%, a new low for the Washington Post/ABC survey.

Mr Bush is no more popular in Argentina, where a protest by several thousand demonstrators turned ugly. In the coastal city of Mar del Plata, where he is attending a regional summit, protesters set fire to a bank, looted stores and battled riot police.

Earlier, the tone was struck by the former football star Diego Maradona, who wore a "Stop Bush" T-shirt to an anti-Bush "counter-summit" that drew some 4,000 protesters from around the world and easily eclipsed the official summit in the public's attention. "I'm proud as an Argentine to repudiate the presence of this human trash, George Bush," said Maradona.

Maradona's anti-Bush sentiment was replicated across a country driven to a near standstill by tens of thousands of people angry at the Iraq war and the US president's push for a region-wide free trade deal. Hospital and subway workers went on strike in Buenos Aires.

The latest popularity poll was published after Lewis "Scooter" Libby became the first White House aide for 130 years to be indicted in office. He appeared in court on Thursday to plead not guilty to five charges of lying to investigators.

RoundUp Ready 'Weeds', Free of Charge to Monsanto Customers :.

HA! Becky wants an amaranth grove on our farm. She will love this story:

...these 'weeds' with natural genetic resistance to herbicides are doing quite well, thankyouverymuch. thanks to farmers who'd been idiotically planting round-up ready soybeans every year since 1996, test plants in tennessee withstood a full 22 oz shot of roundup, and some even survived a double dose of 44 oz.

Hell: Made in China :.

Smuggled images from inside one of China's largest slave labor camps:

Inside the Lao Gai

The Lao Gai are the largest gulags of our times, providing the slave labour helping to propel China's economy. Rare images smuggled out reveal the brutal conditions inside the camps.

Related: Chinese Billionaires on the Rise


Apple Ramping Up TPM Lockdown on Intel Platform :.

Sometime next year, that a-hole Steve Jobs is going to walk out onto a stage at some Apple keynote presentation. He will yammer about ipods and maybe some other consumer crack for two hours. That's when "it" will happen.

Jobs will proceed to remove the mask.

* gasping noises rise from the audience as Jobs unfurls *

Moments later, B Gates will gaze out over the shocked crowd with a glimmer in his eye.

"And now, one more thing..."

Although the TPM restrictions are still protecting the OS as of this writing, the word on the street is that hackers have already begun dissecting Apple's new security measures. We are told that the TPM protections in 10.4.3 are significantly stronger, indicating that Apple has used the previous two releases to refine their mechanism for hardware control.

Related: Watch Steve Jobs Unfurl

U.S. Fears Prospect of Saudi Coup, Weighs Invasion Plans :.

I think Saudi Arabia, not Iraq, is the actual crown jewel in the eyes of U.S. geostrategists... Saudi Arabia WILL NOT be allowed to come under control of a radical Islamic regime. Absolutely, positively, will not. However, the House of Saud knows it's in dire trouble. I would not be surprised, at all, if the U.S. military was introduced into Saudi Arabia to, in effect, insure the "stability" of the criminal Saudi Regime. Is there anyone out there who thinks that the establishment of U.S. Central Command less than three hundred miles from Riyadh is a coincidence?

- Cryptogon, 2002
Flash forward to today:

The United States has raised the prospect of a military invasion of Saudi Arabia.

The House Armed Services Committee considered the possibility of a Saudi coup and U.S. response during a hearing on Oct. 26.

Saudi Arabia, with 200,000 military and National Guard troops, is the largest oil producer and exporter, with an output of nine million barrels of oil per day, according to Middle East Newsline. The Arab kingdom is the third largest supplier of oil to the United States, with more than 1.55 million barrels per day.

The scenario was outlined by Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, who cited a Saudi coup as one of several threats to the United States.

"How should the United States respond if a coup, presumably fundamentalist in nature, overthrows the royal family in Saudi Arabia?" O'Hanlon asked. "Such a result would raise the specter of major disruption to the oil economy."


Sooner or later, poverty will become a national security problem. Case in point, France:

Rioting youths shot at police and firefighters Thursday after burning car dealerships and public buses and hurling rocks at commuter trains. France's government faced growing pressure to curb the violence, fueled by anger over poor conditions in suburban Paris housing projects.

War by Remote Control :.

SkyNet v1.0:

As opposed to the expectations of many, the disengagement has not brought about real progress toward peace, but undoubtedly caused a revolutionary change in the way war is conducted. The violence of body touching body and eye meeting eye, the friction saturated with hatred at the checkpoints and in the alleyways, and the sight of spilled blood - the intimate violence of conflicted communities - is changing in front of our eyes, and has become a push-button war, shooting via TV screens, robots and computers, and long range artillery.

There's no more need to occupy territory and fill it with soldiers; it's possible to position a battery of cannons and mark out "killing zones" that are no less effective than the occupation in practice, and allow sticking to the fiction that "the occupation of Gaza is over." Land forces are envious of the air force, and also want to fight by pushing buttons. They also want to feel like the former air force commander and current chief of staff, who said, "I feel a slight knock in the plane as a result of releasing the bomb, and a second later it passes and that's all." True, innocent people are killed, but on the TV screen it doesn't look so terrible.

Therefore, the commanders of the ground forces devised a driverless armored vehicle, which patrols under remote control command and opens fire on the order of a youth sitting in front of a TV screen, who "identifies the enemy." Spanish TV recently broadcast a report on the arsenal of robots - on land and sea and in the air - that is turning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a kind of computer game, of course, on condition that you're on the Israeli side. And if you're Palestinian, you should be grateful that at least you won't have to see the occupier at the Rafah crossing.

U.S. Leads Way in Medical Errors :.

Patients in the United States reported higher rates of medical errors and more disorganized doctor visits and out-of-pocket costs than people in Canada, Britain and three other developed countries, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Israel Terrorizes Palestinians with Sonic Boom Air Raids :.

Israel is deploying a terrifying new tactic against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip by letting loose deafening "sound bombs" that cause widespread fear, induce miscarriages and traumatise children.

The removal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip opened the way for the military to use air force jets to create dozens of sonic booms by breaking the sound barrier at low altitude, sending shockwaves across the territory, often at night. Palestinians liken the sound to an earthquake or huge bomb. They describe the effect as being hit by a wall of air that is painful on the ears, sometimes causing nosebleeds and "leaving you shaking inside".

The Palestinian health ministry says the sonic booms have led to miscarriages and heart problems. The United Nations has demanded an end to the tactic, saying it causes panic attacks in children. The shockwaves have also damaged buildings by cracking walls and smashing thousands of windows.


Michael Moore Owns Halliburton Stock :.

Limousine liberals ARE the problem. Pull the mask off of any limousine liberal and you'll find youself gazing at Cheney:

Michael Moore, the biggest mouthpiece of the anti-hypocrite left, constantly denounces Republicans as racists for opposing affirmative action. Schweizer reports that Moore almost never hires black people. Moore insists, "I don't own a single share of stock." He denounces clever Enron style schemes to conceal wealth and rails against Haliburton as the Mother of All Evils. He told C-Span's Brian Lamb in his best prolier-than-thou voice that he wanted nothing to do with the stock market. "That's the rich man's game."

Well, it turns out Moore's got another game going. As Schweizer reports, Moore told the IRS his home is the headquarters of his tax-free foundation, to which he contributes some of his millions for the write-off. The foundation, in turn, not only bought stock --- its holdings are a Who's Who of "greedy" corporations, including Halliburton.

Bird Flu Threat May Spur U.S. to Recommend Vaccinations for All :.


The U.S. should recommend the largest annual vaccination program ever undertaken as a way to prepare against the threat of an avian influenza pandemic, public health officials said.

An annual flu vaccination campaign led by the federal government that targets every American would ensure the U.S. can rapidly produce and administer enough shots to protect the country against a lethal contagion, said Rex Archer, president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

President George W. Bush's flu pandemic plan announced yesterday may help increase vaccine production by protecting drugmakers such as Sanofi-Aventis SA, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and Novartis AG against lawsuits. A universal flu shot recommendation would provide drugmakers an additional economic incentive to build the vaccine plants needed in a pandemic.

Flu shots for all Americans would be "would be a massive program, delivering more vaccine than all other vaccines combined," said Benjamin Schwartz, senior science adviser to the U.S. National Vaccine Program Office, at a conference in Atlanta Oct. 25.

Related: Donald H. Rumsfeld - Former Chairman of Gilead Sciences

Related: Tamiflu

Related: Bird Flu "Pandemic" Antidote: Wash Hands

Related: Spain: Bird Flu Sparking Human Epidemic Is 'Science Fiction'

Related: STRATFOR on Bird Flu: Calm Down

CIA Operates Soviet Era Gulag, Other Secret Prisons :.

I sh!t you not!

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.

The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.

Unrest Spreads to Nine French Towns :.

Unrest spread across troubled suburbs around Paris in a sixth night of violence as police clashed with angry youths and scores of vehicles were torched in at least nine towns, local officials said.

Police in riot gear fired rubber bullets late Tuesday at advancing gangs of youths in Aulnay-sous-Bois -- one of the worst-hit suburbs -- where 15 cars were burned, according to officials in the Seine-Saint-Denis region.


End of Fundraiser for Tony's Crusty Roadshow :.

I spoke with Tony last night. I can confirm that he is settling into an ecovillage somewhere in Western Oregon. (His mobile phone was barely holding a signal.) Man oh man, from what he told me, it sounds like they have fired up and incredible community. I don't want to steal any of Tony's thunder, so you're just going to have to wait to hear about the organic gardens, yurts, shacks, hovels, compost heaps and the biodiesel truck with its own ecosystem of mosses and plants.

He wasn't able to resurrect his laptop, so he's still without access to the Internet. Thanks in part to the generosity of the following Cryptogon readers, Tony will be back online soon:

DB $25 AB $20 KH $25 AH $25 DG $30 PT $25 KL $25 MW $20

Well done, people. We raised $195, plus my $50. That's a grand total of $245!

October U.S. Sales at GM and Ford Drop 23% :.

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. both reported 23 percent declines in October U.S. sales on Tuesday, as high gasoline prices further undercut demand for big sport utility vehicles.


:. Reading

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture by Andrew Kimbrell Readers will come to see that industrial food production is indeed a "fatal harvest" - fatal to consumers, as pesticide residues and new disease vectors such as E. coli and "mad cow disease" find their way into our food supply; fatal to our landscapes, as chemical runoff from factory farms poison our rivers and groundwater; fatal to genetic diversity, as farmers rely increasingly on high-yield monocultures and genetically engineered crops; and fatal to our farm communities, which are wiped out by huge corporate farms.

Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America by Bertram Myron Gross This is a relatively short but extremely cogent and well-argued treatise on the rise of a form of fascistic thought and social politics in late 20th century America. Author Bertram Gross' thesis is quite straightforward; the power elite that comprises the corporate, governmental and military superstructure of the country is increasingly inclined to employ every element in their formidable arsenal of 'friendly persuasion' to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans through what Gross refers to as friendly fascism.

The Good Life
by Scott and Helen Nearing
Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash...Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings' challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills.

Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth by David Bollierd In Silent Theft, David Bollier argues that a great untold story of our time is the staggering privatization and abuse of our common wealth. Corporations are engaged in a relentless plunder of dozens of resources that we collectively own—publicly funded medical breakthroughs, software innovation, the airwaves, the public domain of creative works, and even the DNA of plants, animals and humans. Too often, however, our government turns a blind eye—or sometimes helps give away our assets. Amazingly, the silent theft of our shared wealth has gone largely unnoticed because we have lost our ability to see the commons.

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back-To-Basics Guide by John Seymour The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It is the only book that teaches all the skills needed to live independently in harmony with the land harnessing natural forms of energy, raising crops and keeping livestock, preserving foodstuffs, making beer and wine, basketry, carpentry, weaving, and much more.

When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten When Corporations Rule the World explains how economic globalization has concentrated the power to govern in global corporations and financial markets and detached them from accountability to the human interest. It documents the devastating human and environmental consequences of the successful efforts of these corporations to reconstruct values and institutions everywhere on the planet to serve their own narrow ends.

The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener This expansion of a now-classic guide originally published in 1989 is intended for the serious gardener or small-scale market farmer. It describes practical and sustainable ways of growing superb organic vegetables, with detailed coverage of scale and capital, marketing, livestock, the winter garden, soil fertility, weeds, and many other topics.