https://financialcrimeswalkingtour.crowdmap.com

SUCCESS STORIES of the WALL STREET SLAVE MARKET

http://ajhudson.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/wall-street-was-founded-on-slavery/

Wall Street is a highly influential financial district but its history is rarely talked about. In order to understand the largesse of Wall Street and the system of global capitalism, it is crucial to know Wall Street’s history. Wall Street was founded on slavery and, to this day, it remains a key pillar in upholding racial inequality and economic oppression.

New York City was a Dutch settlement known as New Amsterdam in the Dutch colonial province called New Netherland during much of the 17th century. Through the Dutch West India Company, the Dutch utilized labor of enslaved Africans who were first brought to colony around 1627. The African slaves built the wall that gives Wall Street its name, forming the northern boundary of the colony and warded off resisting natives who wanted their land back. In addition, the slaves cleared the forests, built roads and buildings, and turned up the soil for farming. Slavery was not phenomenon limited to the southern American colonies. Northern colonies, such as Boston and New York, participated in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

In 1664, control of the colony was handed over Britain and New Amsterdam was renamed New York in honor of James II, the Duke of York. The Royal African Company had a royal monopoly on the British slave trade and James II was a major shareholder. With the Dutch gone, the British maintained the system of slavery in New York. They immediately created a series of laws to protect it. In 1665, a law was passed that legalized slavery. In 1682, slave masters were given the power of life-and-death over their slaves. Twenty years later, in 1702, New York adopted its first comprehensive slave code and it equated slave status with being African. The entire system of slavery was justified by an ideology of white supremacy that considers black Africans inferior and white Europeans superior — an ideology that still exists.

Slavery became the backbone of New York’s economic prosperity in the 1700s. To normalize this massive trade in human beings, in 1711, New York officials established a slave market on Wall Street. Slave auctions were held at Wall Street selling African slaves as property to traders wanting to buy them. Between 1700 and 1722, over 5,000 African slaves entered New York, most of whom came directly from Africa, while the rest from British colonies in the Caribbean and southern colonies. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, as Phyllis Eckhaus points out, New York had “the largest urban slave population in mainland North America”. Therefore, New York was a crucial location in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which established it as the world’s financial capital. Many well-known companies and financial institutions benefitted from the trans-Atlantic slave trade.They include Lehman Brothers (which went bankrupt in 2008), J.P. Morgan Chase, Wachovia Bank of North Carolina, Aetna Insurance, Bank of America, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Banks, such as Wachovia’s predecessors Bank of Charleston, South Carolina, and the Bank of North America, and J.P. Morgan Chase’s predecessor banks, made loans to slave owners and accepted slaves as “collateral”. When the slave owners defaulted on their loans, the banks became the new owners. The Lehman family members who established Lehman Brothers started their company to trade and invest in cotton, a cash crop produced by African slaves. Aetna sold insurance to slave owners who wanted to protect their investments in slaves aboard slave ships in case one of them died (this was a very common occurrence as millions of African slaves died on ships carrying them from Africa to the Americas). The insurance company’s policies compensated slave owners for the loss of people who were considered “property”. To this day, there are lawsuits against these corporations to seek reparations for their participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The trans-Atlantic slave trade built the foundation for modern global capitalism. Millions of Africans (somewhere between 12 to 30 million or more) were ripped away from their homes in Africa to work as slaves in European colonies in North and South America and the Caribbean. Unlike native Americans and other white Europeans, free African labor was plentiful (if one died, they could be replaced with another from Africa), Africans had no connections to American lands, and they knew how to grow essential cash crops like cotton and sugar that grew in both Africa and the Caribbean and southeastern United States. These factors made Africans the perfect slave labor force for European colonial powers. The slaves, along with performing many other services, were used to produce commodities that were sold in international markets for a profit (a characteristic of modern capitalism). In addition, slaves, themselves, were considered property and sold on markets. The benefits of this went to slave owners and investors — not the slaves. As a result, wealth was transferred from black African slaves (and their descendants) to white European slave owners and other whites who benefitted from this system (this laid the foundation for current wealth inequality between whites and blacks). This ensured that blacks would remain socioeconomically subordinate to whites for generations to come. Slavery went on for nearly 300 years from the sixteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century when Britain, America, and other countries that participated in the trans-Atlantic slave trade abolished it. Even after it ended, the foundation of modern capitalism and racial inequality was already built.

The end of slavery brought new political rights for black people in America, such as the right to vote. However, these political rights were very limited, particularly under the Jim Crow system in the American South. This system barred blacks from voting, segregated them in inferior schools, confined them to low-paying jobs, discriminated against them in numerous areas of life, and perpetuated heinous acts of racist violence against black people, such as lynching. While northern states did not have a de jure system of racial discrimination, there was similar de facto racial discrimination in housing and employment. The civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s eliminated legalized racial discrimination with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, thereby dealing a deathblow to Jim Crow. Despite the end of slavery and advancements of the civil rights movement, African-Americans remain socioeconomically oppressed. Black people disproportionately suffer more poverty, unemployment, and socioeconomic misery compared to whites and other ethnic groups. As of December 2011,unemployment for African-Americans is 15.8%, the same as it was at the beginning of 2011. While unemployment for whites is 7.5%, down from 8.5% at the beginning of the year. According to the Census Bureau’s Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage report for 2010, the poverty rate (defined as a family of four earning less than $22,314 a year) for African-Americans is 27.4%, while for whites it is 13% and 36.6% for Latinos.

The financial sector plays a substantial role in economically oppressing African-Americans. Racial segregation in housing long existed in the United States as a way to keep African-Americans living in separate, poorer neighborhoods away from whites. Redlining, which is the practice of denying or increasing the price of insurance and other financial services to certain neighborhoods based on race, contributed to racial segregation in America for much of the twentieth century. The practice began in the 1930s when the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), established to send loans to homeowners at risk of foreclosure, created a risk-rating system for communities to be used by mortgage lenders. The idea was to protect the long-term value of the property, which was undermined by the introduction of “undesirables” (usually blacks but also Latinos, Asians, and Jews) into a neighborhood. Using real-estate maps, the HOLC developed a classification system for communities. There were four classifications. Type A areas, coded green, were affluent areas in the suburbs and the most desirable for investment. Type B areas, coded blue, were still desirable, fully developed, but less affluent. Type C, coded yellow, were older, declining areas. Type D areas, coded red, were those with low homeownership rates, poor housing conditions, were in older, inner-city neighborhoods heavily populated by black people. These areas were considered undesirable and too risky for investment — hence the term “redlining”. As a result, HOLC did not provide any loans for black people at risk of foreclosure during the 1930s. This created a system, perpetuated by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), lending institutions, and insurance companies, that made it difficult for black people to own homes and accumulate wealth in their communities, thereby, entrenching racial segregation and inequality.

While redlining was outlawed by the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, similar racial discriminatory practices continue and achieve the same effect as redlining — further racial segregation and inequality. One common practice is known as steering. Real estate agents will steer people to neighborhoods predominantly populated by people of similar ethnic background. Whites are steered to “better”, white neighborhoods, while blacks and Latinos are steered toward neighborhoods with more black and Latinos, which tend to be poorer. Another racial discriminatory practice, which led to the financial crash and current depression, is predatory lending. Rather than deny financial services, financial institutions targeted the black community, and other nonwhite communities, to sell them risky, high-priced subprime mortgage loans. Because of this, the practice is also known as “reverse redlining”. Subprime loans are typically made to people with poor credit histories and, hence, come with higher interest rates. According to a 2009 NAACP “Discrimination and Mortgage Lending in America” report, “even when income and credit risk are equal, African Americans are up to 34 percent more likely to receive higher-rate and subprime loans” than whites. This predatory lending perpetuated a decade-long housing bubble from the late-1990s to late-2000s.

Wells Fargo is one of many financial institutions that engaged in predatory lending in black communities. As the New York Times reported in June 2009, Wells Fargo “saw the black community as fertile ground for subprime mortgages, as working-class blacks were hungry to be a part of the nation’s home-owning mania.” Revealing the big bank’s true racism, loan officers at Wells Fargo commonly referred to African-Americans as “mud people” and subprime loans as “ghetto loans”. Wells Fargo has been sued by individuals and groups, such as the NAACP, for its racial discriminatory practices. In late-November 2011, a regretful former regional vice president of Chase Home Finance in southern Florida (a subsidiary of JP Morgan Chase, whose roots lie in slavery), James Theckston, admitted the predatory lending practices of big banks to New York Times columnist Nick Kristof. In fact, predatory lending was incentivized since lenders earned higher commissions from subprime loans than normal prime loans. In his column, Kristof notes:

“One memory particularly troubles Theckston. He says that some account executives earned a commission seven times higher from subprime loans, rather than prime mortgages. Sothey looked for less savvy borrowers — those with less education, without previous mortgage experience, or without fluent English — and nudged them toward subprime loans

These less savvy borrowers were disproportionately blacks and Latinos, he said, and they ended paying a higher rate so that they were more likely to lose their homes. Senior executives seemed aware of this racial mismatch, he recalled, and frantically tried to cover it up.”

So not only did big banks intentionally push black people and other people of color to buy subprime loans but they were well aware of the racism behind their actions. Moreover, the banks did not care if people lost their homes because of these risky, high-priced subprime mortgages.

The reason why subprime mortgage loans were aggressively pushed on to millions of people was so they could be bundled up into mortgage-backed securities. In 1999, the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial from investment banking, was repealed under Clinton. This made it easier for subprime mortgage loans to be bundled into securities and sold on Wall Street for massive profits. When the housing bubble burst in 2007, that led to the financial crash in September 2008 and the current economic depression. Wall Street got bailed out but the people got stuck with massive poverty and unemployment. Millions of people lost their homes and many are on the edge of foreclosure. Black and Latino households were hit the hardest. As the Center for Responsible Lending points out, around 25% of all black and Latino borrowers lost their home to foreclosure or are close to foreclosure, compared to under 12% of all white borrowers. Home equity makes up the largest portion of overall wealth in black and Latino communities. Because of the collapse of the housing bubble and resulting foreclosures, black and Latino communities have experienced a dramatic wealth decrease in their communities. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, in 2005, median net worth (or total household wealth) of white households was $134,992, for Latinos it was $18,359, and $12,124 for blacks. In 2009, median net worth for white households dropped 16% to $113,149, Latino households experienced a 66% drop to $6,325, while black households experienced a 53% drop to $5,677. Pew rightly attributes this drop to the bursting of the housing bubble and recession that followed from it.

Wall Street, since its founding as a slave market, continues to play a substantial role in oppressing African-Americans and other working-class people. To fully understand racial inequality, it is important to know Wall Street’s historical roots in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. With this knowledge, we can combat the oppression of African-Americans by challenging the greed and oligarchy of Wall Street. Fortunately, there is already a movement doing just that — Occupy Wall Street.

——–

Historical sources:

  • David McNally, Another World Is Possible: Globalization & Anti-Capitalism, (Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2006), Ch. 4, pp. 137 – 204
  • Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492 – Present, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2003), Ch, 2, pp. 23 – 39
  • Lerone Bennett, Jr., Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, (New York: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc., 1982)
  • James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, (New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1995)
  • See also Douglas Massey & Nancy Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Harvard University Press, 1993) for history of racial segregation in the U.S.

http://www.africanburialground.gov/ABG_History.htm

African American history in New York City began in the Dutch colonies. The first Africans arrived in New Amsterdam as enslaved men in 1625 and 1626; the first enslaved women in 1628. They worked as farmers and builders and in the fur trade of the Dutch West India Company. Some helped build the wall intended to keep settlers safe from the native population at the location of today’s Wall Street. In 1644, the Company granted “conditional freedom” to the enslaved on condition that they make an annual fixed payment of farm produce. The children of the “conditionally freed” people, born and unborn, remained the property of the Company. Most of the families received grants to lands they had been farming before becoming “free.” At the time the area was generally undesirable swamp land. Today most of the area is in Greenwich Village. The Dutch continued to expand and to import enslaved Africans to meet growing labor needs. Between 1649 and 1659 they imported hundreds of men, women and children. In New Amsterdam, the first sales tax, an import tax of 10%, was imposed to discourage merchants from selling “human cargo” outside of the colony. Though not comprehensive, Dutch records do note that there were Africans who had never been enslaved who were living on the “free Negro lots” which today are located on land between from Astor Place and Prince Street.

In 1665, the Dutch surrendered New Amsterdam/New Netherlands to the British. For most European settlers, little changed in what became New York. For African New Yorkers, both enslaved and freed, British occupation meant severe change. Under Dutch rule, some Africans had gained half or full freedom. Even if enslaved, they had legal and social rights. One example is that no master could whip an enslaved African without the permission of the Dutch Common Council. This and other rules changed under the British rule. In a move toward commercial efficiency, the British formed the Royal African Company to import slaves directly from Africa to New York. “From the start of the English occupation the creation of a commercially profitable slave system became a joint project of both government and private interests. Unlike the Dutch West India Company which used slavery to implement colonial policy, the Royal African Company used the colony to implement slavery.” (Historian Edgar J. McManus) New York’s first slave market during the British period was established at Wall Street and the East River in 1709. In the early 1700’s there were 800 African men, women, and children in the city; about 15% of the total population. Local and state documents did not distinguish between free and enslaved Africans until 1756. Before then the term “slave” was used to describe all Africans and their decedents. They were all looked upon as valuable sources of labor.

The British enacted numerous laws that restricted where Africans could be employed and how they could be freed. Laws were passed to prevent free Africans from aiding runaway slaves. The New York “Slave Codes” grew so numerous that they are seen as a major cause of the 1712 slave revolt. In the revolt, enslaved Africans and natives gathered in an orchard on Maiden Lane with hatchets, guns, knives, and hoes and set out to burn and destroy property in the area. Nine whites were killed during the revolt. Twenty-one enslaved Africans were executed and six were reported to have committed suicide. After the revolt more laws were passed that prohibited Africans and natives from carrying weapons and entering military service. There were strict curfews and laws against gathering of more than two or three enslaved people. The revolt emphasized the growing fear that European New Yorkers had of the growing African population. At this time, Europeans in New York outnumbered people of African descent five to one, but the city contained the largest absolute number of enslaved Africans of any English colonial settlement except Charleston, South Carolina, and held the largest proportion of enslaved Africans of any northern settlement. By the first decade of the 1700’s, forty percent of New York’s households contained at least one enslaved African; again, the largest proportion of any northern settlement.

FREE MARKET
http://maap.columbia.edu/place/22.html

In 1711, New York was growing quickly, and the growing needs of the city were often supplied by slave labor. Nearly 1,000 out of about 6,400 New Yorkers were black, and at least 40 percent of the white households included a slave. In these homes, enslaved workers cooked, washed, sewed, hauled water, emptied the chamber pots, swept out the fireplaces and the chimneys, and cared for the children. Along the East River they built, loaded, and unloaded, the ships. They cleared the land uptown, and then planted and harvested the crops. And up and down the narrow streets they pedaled their master’s goods and even supplied the city’s first fast foods—fresh oysters and steaming hot corn on the cob. As the number of slaves imported into the city soared, barrel makers, butchers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and tin workers began to purchase young enslaved men in order to teach them their trades. Typically, when a slave owner ran out of work, they hired their slaves out at half the rate of free labor. Often the slaves themselves were sent out to find work. In a time when fear of a slave uprising was ever-present, the sight of so many enslaved men walking the streets looking to be hired caused alarm. Fearful white citizens began to complain. They demanded a market where slaves could be hired, bought, and sold. Finally, on December 13, 1711, the City Council passed a law “that all Negro and Indian slaves that are let out to hire…be hired at the Market house at the Wall Street Slip…” This market, known as the Meal Market (because grains were sold there), was located at the foot of Wall Street on the East River. It was the city’s first slave market.

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/2457/the_northern_slave_trade/

The hidden history of slavery in New York calls myths of American morality into question
by Phyllis Eckhaus / January 6, 2006

Americans excel at ego-boosting myths of exceptionalism: It’s our ingenuity, energy and can-do attitude that explain our rise from frontier to world power. But what if slavery were the real secret of our success? We like to condemn slavery as an exotic evil perpetrated by plantation Southerners, but two new books and a museum exhibit provide nightmarish reminders that slavery was the norm in the early years of this country, and that up through the eve of the Civil War, Northern bankers, brokers and entrepreneurs were among slavery’s staunchest defenders. In Complicity, a team of Hartford Courant journalists investigates this history, producing 10 stories that explore how deeply the fortunes of New York and New England were tied to the slave trade. “Slavery in New York,” an exhibit at the New York Historical Society through March 5, reveals New York as a city substantially built by slaves. The companion book of the same name, elegantly designed and illustrated, anchors the exhibit in a series of scholarly essays. Together, these works echo and amplify each other, providing a kind of surround-sound opportunity for an anguished identity crisis: If our supposedly freedom-loving forebears were not “good guys,” what were they? And what are we?

From the get-go, Americans were profiteers, and plundering the New World was backbreaking work. Writing in 1645 to John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, his brother-in-law Emanuel Downing complained, “I do not see how we can thrive until we get a stock of slaves sufficient to do all our business.” Further south, in New Amsterdam, slaves built Wall Street’s wall and cleared what became Harlem and Route 1. When a new shipload of slaves proved insufficiently hardy, Director General Peter Stuyvesant expressed his displeasure to the Dutch West India Company, insisting that the company supply the best slaves to Christian and company enterprises, while unloading the feeble on “Spaniards and unbelieving Jews.” For much of the 17th and 18th centuries, New York boasted the largest urban slave population in mainland North America. Slaves made up one-fifth the population. And white New Yorkers lived in terror of slave revolt. An alleged 1741 plot led to the jailing and torture of scores of slaves, 30 of whom were executed, 17 by burning at the stake. For slaves, the Revolutionary War was a liberating experience–but only if they fought for the British, who promised them freedom. Though George Washington sought to reclaim the colonists’ slaves, British General Guy Carleton oversaw the evacuation of more than 3,000 black Loyalists, who fled New York for Nova Scotia and other British outposts.

New York slowly and reluctantly abolished slavery; federal census figures showed slaves in the state until 1850. But the death of slavery in New York scarcely impeded the city’s business in the slave trade. In the peak years of 1859 and 1860, two slave ships bound for Africa left New York harbor every month. Although the trade was technically illegal, no one cared: A slave bought for $50 in Africa could be sold for $1,000 in Cuba, a profit margin so high that loss of slave life was easily absorbed. For every hundred slaves purchased in Africa, perhaps 48 survived the trip to the New World. By the end of the voyage, the ships that held the packed, shackled and naked human cargo were so filthy that it was cheaper to burn some vessels than decontaminate them. Law-abiding Northerners made money off slavery through the cotton trade. “King Cotton” was to antebellum America what oil is to the Middle East. Whole New England textile cities sprang up to manufacture cloth from cotton picked and processed by millions of slaves. In 1861, the United States produced more than 2 billion pounds of cotton, exporting much of it to Great Britain via New York. No wonder then that as the South began to talk secession, so too did New York Mayor Fernando Wood, who proposed that Manhattan become an independent island nation, its cotton trade intact.

How do we reconcile these facts with our mythology of the Civil War and our convenient conviction that the evils of slavery were contained within the South? Obviously, we can’t. Slavery was such a huge and gruesome enterprise, supported by so many, that it explodes inflated notions of American character. Instead, we might appropriately draw parallels between antebellum America and Nazi Germany. This is not to assert that ordinary Americans were “evil,” but rather that our insistent sorting of the world into “good guys” and “evildoers” distorts reality. Today, progressives are justly suspicious of the high-flown “freedom” rhetoric our government deploys to advance American empire. But we need always to be skeptical of reductive, righteous narratives. Far from promoting morality, such fictions allow us to hide our worst impulses from ourselves.

http://kalwnews.org/audio/oakland-general-strike-1946
http://www.indybay.org/olduploads/oakland_gstrike.mp3
http://www.archive.org/details/SanFranc1934

a “WORK HOLIDAY”
http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt2h4n993g&chunk.id=d0e1403&brand=calisphere&doc.view=entire_text
http://www.flyingpicket.org/node/12
http://libcom.org/library/oakland-general-strike-stan-weir
1946: The Oakland General Strike
by Stan Weir / Nov 22 2005

By nightfall the strikers had instructed all stores except pharmacies and food markets to shut down, Bars were allowed to stay open, but they could serve only beer and had to put their juke boxes out on the sidewalk to play at full volume and no charge. ‘Pistol Packin’ Mama, Lay That Pistol Down’, the number one hit, echoed off all the buildings. That first 24-hour period of the 54-hour strike had a carnival spirit. A mass of couples danced in the streets. The participants were making history, knew it, and were having fun.

The Oakland (California) General Strike was an extension of the national strike wave. It was not a ‘called’ strike. Shortly before 5 a.m., Monday, December 3, 1946, the hundreds of workers passing through downtown Oakland on their way to work became witness to the police herding a fleet of scab trucks through the downtown area. The trucks contained commodities to fill the shelves of two major department stores whose clerks (mostly women) had long been on strike. The witnesses, that is, truck drivers, bus and streetcar operators and passengers, got off their vehicles and did not return. The city filled with workers, they milled about in the city’s core for several hours and then organised themselves.



By nightfall the strikers had instructed all stores except pharmacies and food markets to shut down, Bars were allowed to stay open, but they could serve only beer and had to put their juke boxes out on the sidewalk to play at full volume and no charge. ‘Pistol Packin’ Mama, Lay That Pistol Down’, the number one hit, echoed off all the buildings. That first 24-hour period of the 54-hour strike had a carnival spirit. A mass of couples danced in the streets. The participants were making history, knew it, and were having fun. By Tuesday morning they had cordoned off the central city and were directing traffic. Anyone could leave, but only those with passports (union cards) could get in. The comment made by a prominent national network newscaster, that ‘Oakland is a ghost town tonight,’ was a contribution to ignorance. Never before or since had Oakland been so alive and happy for the majority of the population. It was a town of law and order. In that city of over a quarter mil lion, strangers passed each other on the street and did not have fear, but the opposite.

Before the second day of the strike was half over a large group of war veterans among the strikers formed their own squads and went through close-order drills. They then marched on the Tribune Tower, offices of the anti-labour OAKLAND TRIBUNE, and from there marched on City Hall demanding the resignation of the mayor and city council. Sailor’s Union of the Pacific (SUP) crews walked off the three ships at the Oakland Army base loaded with military supplies for troops in Japan. By that night the strikers closed some grocery stores in order to conserve dwindling food supplies. In all general strikes the participants are very soon forced by the very nature of events to themselves run the society they have just stopped. The process in the Oakland experiment was beginning to deepen. There was as yet little evidence of official union leadership in the streets. The top local Teamster officials, except one, were not to be found; the exception would be fired five months later for his strike activity. International Teamster President Dave Beck wired orders ‘to break the strike’ because it was a revolutionary attempt ‘to overthrow the government’. He ordered all Teamsters who had left their jobs to return to work. (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, December 5, 1946)

A number of the secondary Oakland and Alameda County union leaders did what they could to create a semblance of straight trade-union organisation. The ranks, unused to leading themselves and having no precedent for this sort of strike in their own experience, wanted the well-known labour leaders in the Bay Area to step forward with expertise, aid, and public legitimisation. The man who was always billed as leader of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, ILWU President Harry Bridges, who was then also State CIO President, refused to become involved,, ,just as he did 18 years later during the Berkeley Free Speech Movement struggles. The rank-and-file longshoremen and warehouse- men who had been drawn to the street strike were out there on their own. No organised contingents from the hundreds available in the warehouse and longshore hiring halls were sent to help, No CIO shops were given the nod to walk out or ‘sick-out’. Only through CIO participation could significant numbers of blacks have been drawn into this mainly white strike. The ILWU and other CIO unions would honour picket lines like those around the Tribune Tower or at the Oakland Army Base, but otherwise they minded their own business. Bridges had recently committed himself to a nine-year extension of the wartime no-strike pledge.


Oakland general strike. December 5, 1946. Photographer unknown.

The one major leader of the San Francisco General Strike who would come to Oakland was the SUP’s Secretary Treasurer, Harry Lundeberg. On the second night of the strike he was the principal speaker at the mass meeting in the overflowing Oakland Auditorium. He had been alerted when the strike was less than three hours old via a call from an old-time member at a pay phone on an Oakland street. By noon there were contingents composed mainly of Hawaiians acting as ‘flying squads’, patrolling to find any evidence of strike-breaking activity. They enlarged Upon their number by issuing large white buttons to all seamen or persons on the Street that they knew. The buttons contained the words ‘ Brotherhood of the Sea’, They represented the first officially-organised activity on the street, They did not attempt to run the entire strike or take over. It takes a time for seamen to get over the idea that they are somehow outsiders, The feeling is all the stronger among Hawaiian seamen ashore or residing in the States. They limited their activity to trouble-shooting. They won gratitude and respect. When Lundeberg spoke at the meeting, he had no program of action beyond that of the Oakland AFL leaders. But he got a wild response. He did not approach the microphone reluctantly. His demeanour reflected no hesitancy. Unlike the other speakers, he bellowed with outrage against the city council on behalf of the strikers. In a heavy Norwegian accent he accused: ‘These finky gazoonies who call themselves city fathers have been taking les sons from Hitler and Stalin. They don’t believe in the kind of unions that are free to strike.’ All true, but whether he knew it or not, by focusing on the City Council and no more, he was contributing to the undercutting of the strike, Instead of dealing with the anti-labour employers and city officials through the medium of the strike, plans were already being formulated to deal with the crisis in the post-strike period by attacking the City Council through use of the ballot box. The top Alameda County CIO officials were making hourly statements for the record that they could later use to cover up their disloyalty, The AFL officials couldn’t get them to come near the strike, but they could be expected to participate in post-strike electoral action.

The strike ended 54 hours old at 11 a.m. on December 5. The people on the street learned of the decision from a sound truck put on the Street by the AFL Central Labour Council. It was the officials’ first really decisive act of leadership. They had consulted among themselves and decided to end the strike on the basis of the Oakland City Manager’s promise that police would not again be used to bring in scabs. No concessions were gained for the women retail clerks at Kahn’s and Hastings Department Stores whose strikes had triggered the General Strike; they were left free to negotiate any settlement they could get on their own. Those women and many other strikers heard the sound truck’s message with the form of anger that was close to heartbreak, Numbers of truckers and other workers continued to picket with the women, yelling protests at the truck and appealing to all who could hear that they should stay out. But all strikers other than the clerks had been ordered back to work and no longer had any protection against the disciplinary actions that might be brought against them for strike-caused absences, By noon only a few score of workers were left, wandering disconsolately around the now-barren city, The CIO mass meeting that had been called for that night to discuss strike ‘unity’ was never held.

In the strike’s aftermath every incumbent official in the major Oakland Teamsters Local 70 was voted out of office. A United AFL-CIO Political Action Committee was formed to run candidates in the race for the five open seats on the nine-person City Council. Four of them won, the ballot listed the names of the first four labour challengers on top of each of the incumbents, but reversed the order for the fifth open office, It was felt that the loss was due to this trick and anti-Semitism. The fifth labour candidate’s name was Ben Goldfarb. Labour’s city councilmen were regularly outvoted by the five incumbents; however, the four winners were by no means outspoken champions of labour. They did not utilise their offices as a tribune for a progressive labour-civic program. They served out their time routinely, and the strike faded to become the nation’s major unknown general strike.




The Oakland General Strike was related to the 1946 Strike Wave in time and spirit, and revealed an aspect of the tem per of the nation’s industrial-working-class mood at war’s end. Labour historians of the immediate post-war period have failed to examine the Oakland Strike, and thus have failed to consider a major event of the period and what it reveals about the mood of that time. In developing their analyses they have focused almost entirely on the economic demands made by the unions that participated in the Strike Wave. These demands were not unimportant. But economic oppression was not the primary wound that had been experienced daily during the war years.

The ‘spontaneous’ Oakland General Strike was a massive event in a major urban area with a population similar to that of all major World War II defence-industry centres, Thousands had come to the Bay Area from all corners of the nation-rural and urban-in the early war years, and had stayed. Every theatre of war was represented among armed-forces veterans returning to or settling in this largest of Northern California’s central city cores. The Oakland General Strike revealed fundamental characteristics of a national and not simply a regional mood. Its events combined to make a statement of working-class awareness that World War II had not been fought for democracy. Or, more pointedly, it was a retaliation for the absence of democracy that the people in industry and the armed forces had experienced while ‘fighting to save democracy in a war to end all wars’. The focus of people’s lives was still on the war. They hadn’t fought what they believed to be ‘a war against fascism’ to return home and have their strikes broken and unions housebroken.

Emotionally, their war experiences were still very real, and yet they were just far enough away from those experiences to begin playbacks of memory tapes. The post-war period had not yet achieved an experiential identity. The Oakland Key System bus drivers, streetcar conductors, and motormen who played a leading role in the strike wore their Eisenhower jackets as work uniforms, but the overseas bars were still on their sleeves. Like most, they had lost four years of their youth; and while they would never complain about that loss in those terms, there were other related grievances over which resentment could be expressed.


Crowds Gather on first of Seattle General Strike

the SEATTLE GENERAL STRIKE of 1919
http://content.lib.washington.edu/lawsweb/strike.html
The Seattle General Strike of 1919, and its Aftermath

Although Seattle’s industries had profited in 1917-1918 from the boom in wartime production, the workers in those industries had not seen any related increase in their wages. As a result, in January 1919, the Metal Trades Council of Seattle went on strike, and shortly thereafter, the Central Labor Council of Seattle led many other local unions in calling a city-wide general strike, which lasted from the 6th to the 11th of February. The scale of the strike—tens of thousands of workers participated—panicked local and state officials, who mobilized police and military personnel despite the strike’s non-violent character. Ultimately the workers ended the strike without having won any concessions from the targeted businesses: in the months that followed, politicians and businessmen blamed the strike on “Bolshevik” union leaders, while the Seattle labor movement attempted to understand why the strike had failed and what steps should now be taken to work for change.

The University of Washington’s digital collections contain a small sampling of photographs and documents from the Seattle General Strike itself and the days immediately before and after the strike. Included are minutes from meetings of the Central Labor Council of Seattle, which organized the strike, as well as a photograph of workers on the city’s streets during the strike itself. The Central Labor Council of Seattle remained powerful and influential in the wake of the strike: the U.W.’s digital collections contain a wide range of correspondence, minutes, reports, ephemera, and news clippings that give some account of the work of the Seattle C.L.C. in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Included among the documents are minutes of Council meetings (along with labor spy reports giving different accounts of those same meetings), as well as selected letters from the correspondence of Anna Louise Strong, a prominent member of the Seattle labor movement.



Preparing for the General Strike, Seattle, 1919

The Central Labor Council’s official newspaper, the Seattle Union Record, played a prominent role in the build-up to the general strike, and became the subject of tense internal arguments in the city’s labor movement in the early 1920s. The U.W.’s digital collections include a wide range of documents relating to the Union Record, including clippings from the newspaper, a history of the paper up to 1923, as well as references to the paper appearing correspondence and reports from that era. Our digital collections also include documents relating to the life and work of Harry Ault — Ault was editor of the Union Record from 1912 to its demise in 1928, and his work was both credited for the paper’s widespread influence and denounced as “capitalist” and traitorous to the labor movement’s ideals. The documents include reminiscences composed by Ault about Equality Colony, the socialist commune he grew up in, as well as correspondence and reports that refer to his work as editor.

Anna Louise Strong was a progressive reformer whose work in Seattle initially addressed living conditions for impoverished children, but her writings about the Everett Massacre trial influenced her to become an outspoken activist on behalf of workers. Strong wrote extensively for the Seattle Union Record, and her editorial regarding the 1919 General Strike, entitled “No One Knows Where”, was perhaps the most widely distributed statement of the workers’ aims. The U.W.’s digital collections include correspondence, manuscripts, ephemera, and photographs which illuminate Strong’s career in connection with the labor movement in Seattle, and the Seattle general strike in particular.


the ’46 STRIKE WAVE
http://www.bitsofnews.com/content/view/6638/
http://www.oakland1946.blogspot.com/
http://www.flyingpicket.org/?q=node/42
Interview with Stan Weir – November and December, 1990

Pat McAuley: What I meant to ask was: a lot of these short, wildcat-type strikes, like the sit-down strike that you led, did these contribute to the General Strike that occurred in 1946 or 1947 in Oakland?
Stan Weir: Well, the General Strike was part of the ’46 strike wave. You can’t extract one from the other. There was a great deal of dammed up militancy. People who worked throughout the War had been taking all this crap from employers in the name of the War effort, that kind of phony patriotism, instead of real patriotism. It was time to catch up after the War, so there were wildcat strikes going on apace. As a matter of fact, there were more people out on strike in 1946 in the ’46 strike wave than any time before or since. It is the largest strike wave that ever occurred in the United States. That occurred as a last gasp of a labor force that was coming back, of a labor force that was still in place. That is, the G.I.’s were not all back yet, and the people who had spent this last four years together were still pretty much together, or they hadn’t been swamped by new workers coming in or guys returning from the Armed Forces. A lot of new technology and new mechanization had not yet been introduced.
The Oakland General Strike was, I think, in December. Mary got in my jeep and drove down with some of her girlfriends from campus to travel around the streets and look at it. We in the CIO were not a part of it officially. That is, the State of California CIO was run by Percy Peers. They were for having the General Strike after the War – having a no-strike pledge almost permanently for nine years after the War. When the General Strike broke out, the three ships at the Oakland Army Base, the gangs all walked off ‘em and went out in the streets and went on strike. Bridges immediately sent gangs of politicals back to those ships and kept working. In order to participate in that general strike, we had to stay out of work, be on absenteeism.

McAuley: The Maritime workers were a big part of this, weren’t they?
Weir: Well, they were, partly because I found them. That is, I was still a member of the Sailors’ Union. I am downtown, in Oakland. I got off the streetcar. The strike had started. There was no bus to take me the rest of the way to East Oakland to my job. I didn’t see any official leadership. There was not an official leader anywhere to be found. They’re all hiding. This is strictly rank and file. Downtown alone went on strike alone. So, I (and it might not have been the best thing to do) phoned up the Sailors’ Union, got Lundeberg, and said, “Hey, there’s a strike over here and there’s no organization. We need a way of developing a network. Whatever you can do.” What he did was he sent about thirty Hawaiians with a bunch of SIU-SUP Brotherhood of the Sea buttons and (they) began distributing those as some kind of strike police badge. At the Oakland General Strike meeting downtown in the Oakland Auditorium, Lundeberg was the only one to know what to say. It was all demagogy – “the Oakland City Council had tried to break the strike.” Going on that “the General Strike had taken lessons from Hitler and Stalin, and they were finks.” Anyway, he was the only one who talked radical like that, ‘cause he knew from the past, the recent past, although he had already sold out. I hadn’t yet absorbed that sellout, and that’s why I would call the union, get him, and tell him to get some forces over there.

McAuley: Did the strike die because of lack of strong leadership?
Weir: Yes. The leadership of the retail clerks’ and that of the Teamsters was very different. That is, finally the retail clerks’ leadership did show up. But they had all this strength. Remember, the General Strike was called in support of the workers at Kahn’s and Hastings department stores. Here, they had the town shut down. That leadership did not come up with an agreement that would protect the jobs of those people and settle their grievances. They went back to work with no protection and with no gains.

McAuley: But a lot of other workers were so ready to strike.
Weir: Yes!

McAuley: That they walked out in support of these retail clerks.
Weir: Yes. Absolutely. That accidental strike, the so-called accidental strike, without any leadership, with no one calling it, turned out to be an opportunity for people to vent their feelings about what had happened to them on the job during the War. The leaders, the real leaders of that strike, were the Key system bus drivers, who were just back from after the War. They were still wearing the Eisenhower jackets, but now they had converted them to bus driver jackets. A lot of them still had their gold hatch marks, overseas marks, on their jackets. I remember, and I’ve told this a number of times, an Army recruiting truck came down the street during the General Strike. Some young lieutenant in back of the truck says into the microphone over the loud P.A. system: “You ought to be ashamed of yourselves striking. You ought to be out fighting for your country.” It was so recently after the War, maybe he thought he could get away with that. Some big guy said, “Where do you think we got these?” and pointed to his overseas marks. He said, “Fall in!” and about 50 to 75 guys fell in, in close order, and he started them in a close order drill, and more guys, and more guys. Pretty soon, we had a company, not a platoon but a company. Pretty soon, he had more than a company. I mean he had hundreds, in close order drill. What are you going to do with them now? Marched on City Hall. Demanded to see the head of the City Council. No one would come out to talk to them. But they went to the seat of power in the city, the ones who had called on scab trucks from L.A. to come and be herded into those stores by Oakland police.

Pat McAuley: It is now December 5th (1990). I am in Stan Weir’s office of Singlejack Books, (in San Pedro), overlooking the harbor in Los Angeles. Stan, when we last talked, we were talking about the General Strike in Oakland. Is there anything else about that General Strike that comes to your mind?
Stan Weir: The General Strike confirmed for me ideas that I had been having for some time. It seemed to me that wherever I looked, the membership of unions, and of political parties I belonged to, a political grouping I belonged to, the membership was ahead of the leadership. But I’m going to talk about unions now. It seemed to me not only were the members of the unions I had been in, and was in, ahead of the official line on how to fight the employer and willingness to fight the employer, way ahead. They were way ahead when it came to the invention of democratic methods for furthering that fight. Those methods developed a societal set of attitudes on the part of these people. The officialdom you mentioned, when I said that you couldn’t find a union official in downtown Oakland, and you asked me before we started here today, “Do you think that shocked the officials?” Well, it had to have shocked them half out of their senses. At that time, it was close after the War. I, for example, at Cedar and San Pablo, got a bus to Ashby, got a trolley in downtown Oakland, then got a bus to East Oakland, where I was working in the East Oakland Chevrolet plant. When we got to downtown Oakland that morning, we rolled in somewhere between 6 and 7:30. A man came running over to our streetcar and talked briefly, just briefly, and fast, and hard, to our conductor and motorman on the streetcar. They got off and began to walk away. We yelled at them, “Hey! What’s this?!” He explained that Los Angeles scab-driven trucks with merchandise for the two department stores that were on strike, Kahn’s and Hastings department stores, that these trucks were being herded through the city, right now, by the Oakland police, and that’s why. And they disappeared. So, we were all there downtown. We couldn’t get to work. Immediately, a carnival kind of attitude hit us.

McAuley: Did they think the trolley-
Weir: Right here. And the trucks the men were driving, they just left them right at that spot. They didn’t even pull them to the curb. Of course, they did it with a method. It had its own method. It’s another way of protesting. Well, the first thing that hit us in this whole thing was we got a good excuse. We can’t get to work. And we’re here. So, it was kind of a carnival. It wasn’t half an hour before we were going into bars and saying, “No hard liquor. Serve beer and wine, if you must, but mainly beer,” and “You can stay open only if you bring your jukebox out in front and turn it on loud.” And we were dancing at 7 o’clock in the morning. Men and women. And joking, and so on. (Laughing) Feeling like, you know, God, freedom. It was marvelous. When you’re a factory hand, you get to sit down three minutes in a day, more than your lunchtime. You figure, like, it’s a great day if you beat ‘em out of three minutes! You know?

McAuley: Yeah.
Weir: When the line would break down, it would be like I would go into laughter almost immediately, and stay there. I’d laugh at anybody’s joke – and so would everybody else – if the line, the assembly line broke down at Chevrolet.

McAuley: The CIO wasn’t supporting this General Strike then.
Weir: No.

McAuley: Did the workers stay out?
Weir: Well, those who couldn’t get to work didn’t go to work. Yeah. But the CIO was led by the Communist Party at the time. And the Communist Party supported us. I think I’ve said that here on this tape. It was me at the State CIO Convention that year that got up and challenged Dick, the Chair of the Convention. He was from the Local 6 warehouse, IOWU. His dad owned a warehouse, and he struck against his father. That’s how he got started in unionism. (I’ve forgotten his last name.) But I said, “Where was the CIO in the Oakland General Strike? We had to stay away from work in order to participate. What is this? Where is the solidarity?” Paul Schlitt, the Secretary-Treasurer of the CIO, got up and said, “It wasn’t a general strike. We weren’t in it.” Well, that kind of double-think, using Orwell’s term, it was a transplantation of that kind of thinking into the situation in Oakland. But here we were, and without any leadership. By noon that day, the carnival was kind of over. We think we can’t go on like this forever. They’ll come and get us. (Laughing) Somebody will come and get us, you know, and it won’t be good. So, I had made a phone call to the Sailors’ Union to see what kind of help I could get from the seamen who were ashore and not working. And I talked to Lundeberg. Lundeberg spoke the next night, I believe it was, at the Oakland Auditorium in the General Strike meeting. He demagogically was militant and he gave people what they wanted to hear. He denounced the City fathers and the police as people who had been reading the writings of Stalin and Hitler. He knew that it was time to get mad. He wasn’t afraid, like the rest of the officials who were afraid to get up there and even sound off. Without any leadership, we cordoned the town off. You could get out without a union card. You couldn’t get in without a union card. There was a guy going down the street, a great big guy with a typewriter. People said, “Hey, where are you goin’ with the typewriter?,” and he began to run. They ran and they arrested him, in effect, until he explained that he wasn’t stealing the typewriter, that he didn’t believe in the strike and he was taking his work home ‘cause he might not be able to get to work the next day. They said, “Go. Get in your car and go.”

McAuley: So, was it the residents on these blocks?
Weir: No, this was downtown.

McAuley: Alright. Well, I meant the residents of the offices that form these informal authorities for these groups.
Weir: No, it was the people who got off the buses and the streetcars. It was the truck drivers. It was the people in their cars going to work. It wasn’t the residents so much. Although in West Oakland, which is close by, the blacks involved in this strike, some of them had just walked up from there, where they lived. But people in the offices, many were non-union. Now, the OPEIU, the office workers and the union, and the retail clerks did participate in the strike, because it was for Kahn’s and Hastings department store workers. But, that I know of, there was no general outpour of office workers – just, boom, like that – who were non-union and suddenly got the word. We did have experiences like this. Non-union people would come out and they’d be going to go home and they didn’t know for how long. They were impressed at the order, the neatness. That is, we kept the streets clean. There was no littering. Like I say, there were people who had cordoned, we had cordoned the city off, all the streets leading out of downtown Oakland. We had downtown, 10 square blocks. Maybe it was more than that. Maybe it was more like twenty blocks. But there was a desire to really do the right thing by everybody, everybody who was on your side. There was no rousting anybody, or anybody stealing gas from other people’s cars, or breaking in. So far as we could tell, those fifty-four hours were crimeless downtown. It’s like, in Albert Rhys Williams’ book, Through the Russian Revolution, He was a journalist and he went to Russia, because of the Russian Revolution, in February. He came back and wrote a book about what he saw. He was a good journalist. He is walking up and down the streets of Leningrad. He sees people walking by shoe stores, for example, with broken panes, and no one is reaching inside and grabbing those shoes and running away with them. Already there was a sense of collective property. “That’s not ours just to steal. We will take care of it. We will divie that up, so to speak.” Then, of course, I had read about Antonov Gouzenko in that book, the same book. There was open warfare between the Whites and the Reds. The Whites had captured the telephone building. I’ve forgotten whether it was Moscow or St. Petersburg, Leningrad. The Whites had captured Antonov Gouzenko, the head of the workers’ Red militia, and he’s imprisoned in the telephone building. People are shooting at one another and killing one another in this situation. The Reds are ringing and the cordon is all the way around the building. The Whites send out a Red Cross truck that they have captured, ostensibly with wounded. The Reds let the truck go through the line, the Red Cross truck, and get out around the corner, out of sight of the Whites. They grabbed the truck, and there were no wounded in it. The people inside confessed immediately that they were going for munitions. The Reds turned into a Trojan horse. They stuck highly armed people into that Red Cross truck and they went back in through a half an hour later. Zap! That was the end of that. The whites immediately surrendered. “Where is Antonov Gouzenko? This is your neck unless you produce him.” They release him and Antonov Gouzenko is just standing there. The rest of the Reds move to kill or harm bodily all the Whites standing there who had imprisoned him. He grabbed a gun away from someone and said, “The first one who puts a hand on any of these Whites that we’ve been fighting right now, I will shoot him.” They said, “What? You’re going to shoot us? We’re on your side.” He says, “I know. But you will damn the revolution by doing wrong. These people deserve a trial, like prisoners of war. You don’t represent the new (society) if you just (shoot them) because you said that they’d do it to us. Of course, they’d do it to us. But we don’t do it to them. We represent the new society.” He had been on the streets the whole time as head of the workers’ militia. Albert Rhys Williams says that the people caught on immediately. Simply, Gouzenko was the first to become objective in this situation. Then, the Reds led the Whites through the town, from the telephone building to the jail. Many of them were attacked and beat up by townspeople who were saying, “You got Whites?! Well, let’s get ‘em now! Let’s do ‘em in!” And the same Reds who would want to do ‘em in half an hour earlier. They said, “No, we’re taking him. We’re going to try him.” Of course, a lot of Whites got out of jail real quick just by promising. The Reds were very lenient at that time. But there was this morality, the feeling that ends and means have to always stick together. This is the working class itself, at the very bottom, insisting upon that, without any kind of long rationalizations about, “well, this is a special situation,” and all that malarkey. (They) just hung to it and stayed with it until the revolution itself had been starved out.

McAuley: So, in Oakland?
Weir: You could see that in Oakland. You could see the potential for that, right there in the streets.

McAuley: Mm hm. The spontaneous morality.
Weir: Yes.

McAuley: Do you think that the fact that people had just gone through the World War II experience, did that contribute in any way to this – this natural, but not always spontaneous, morality, but incredible order that took place?
Weir: I don’t know. I mean there’s no way of knowing the answer to that. I can only tell you what my feeling was. I think that there were people there who hadn’t really thought about a number of these things, that the General Strike posed for them in their minds. They approached the problem in their minds and they came up with these kinds of answers. Because the kinds of lives they lead doesn’t lead them to start moaning on the terrible people workers are; they’re lazy; they’re this or that and the other thing; or they don’t pay their rent on time; and all that. The people have nothing to gain by that. These people came up with brilliant ideas. Some of them had thought it through beforehand, in all probability. Trotsky speaks of this in The History of the Russian Revolution, that suddenly people’s minds are liberated. It staggers them. Suddenly they are free. Some of those who had been the most servile, the day before October or February, became the most bold. Zap! No one knows the exact process of the thinking of a crowd in that way.

McAuley: You saw this happen in Oakland?
Weir: In my experience, crowds of this kind, rather than being surly, lynch-mob types, or very close to that, just on the other side of the fence. No. My experience is that it is in the crowd that there is the most genius. At the Chevrolet plant, when we had the sit-down strike, the same thing occurred. That is, I stopped people from walking out. When we all gathered together again on the loading docks of the East Oakland plant, I said, “If any of us clock out—“, but I didn’t finish my sentence. Someone said, “A lot of us will never get back in.” Someone else said, “But if we hang tough here, available for work, the moment they begin to live up (to) the contract and the grievance we’ve just won, then we’ll see.” No one even said, “We’ll survive.” I mean the sentence was never totally finished. Everybody understood immediately. And that’s what we did. We stayed right there, visible, and available to work the moment that they quit reneging on the supply of gloves, which we wore out at three pair a week. It’s that same brilliance of people who have been released from the necessity to hide their feelings. Who knows what anybody really believes when they’re working on the job for an employer? You ask them a million questions, they are always going to answer the same way. Whatever strengthens their position on the job. They are not going to weaken there. That is, if you’re an interviewer from somewhere. If you come as a psychologist or an academic and you come interviewing people on the job, even if you’re (saying), “Harry Bridges sent me down here to the waterfront, fellas, and he said it was o.k. that I talk to you fellas,” you think they’re going to tell them, “This guy’s really the score”? Never.

McAuley: Yeah, yeah. Well, Stan, I want to get back to your party, WP [Workers’ Party], and they asked you to get inside of, you know, to get into the auto (industry) in order to support the Reuther caucus. What was so important about the (Walter) Reuther caucus? Who did they oppose?
Weir: Well, this fight shaped up with the Reuther caucus opposed to the R.G. Thomas and George Addes caucus. That was a coalition caucus, a coalition between the Phillip Murry-ites, the middle-of-the-road, conservative, CIO top leadership, which R.J. Thomas followed, and the supporters of the Communist Party point of view, their labor beliefs. They had had the leadership of the union all the way through the War, and they had misled it terribly all the way through the War, giving up conditions that were hard-won in the strikes of the thirties. They were for going back to peace work. They were for National Labor conscription. They were for a no-strike pledge during and after the War. And so on. Reuther, at least in the beginning, opposed them from the Left. Now, Reuther had taken over the rank and file caucus, which was built primarily by left-wing politicals during the War. That means mainly by Trotskyists, except it did not include the orthodox and largest group of the Trotskyists, the Socialist Workers’ Party people. They were in the R.J. Thomas and George Addes caucus 90% of the time. I think there was one brief interlude where they jumped over to Reuther for a moment, or at least differed with the Addes-Thomas people. People who were opposed to the CP from the Left as rank and filers or as politicals made up the rank and file caucus. Reuther wouldn’t touch it. It meant job action during the War, and he didn’t want that connected with his own history, his own reputation. But the minute the War was over, or in Europe, he began making innuendo and then directly. He did take over the leadership for the rank and file caucus, and it became the Reuther caucus. Now, he needed these Leftists and these militants. They made him president of the union. They didn’t give him a majority on the executive board. At the next convention, he got a majority on the executive board. Who did he need to get to get all that crowd? He needed the Catholics, for example, the ACTU, the Association of Catholic Trade Unions. They were the ones who were really red-baiting the hell out of the other side. And you can begin to see Reuther moving over into a red-baiting position in order to get a clean sweep.

cops protect freight san pablo.jpg

Cops block the street to keep strikers out. From the Oakland Museum of California

ORGANIZED LABOR
http://bayradical.blogspot.com/2007/06/this-is-strike-support-our-cause-part.html

In the first few days of December 1946, retail workers at Hastings’ and Kahn’s department stores, across the street from each other where Broadway meets Telegraph, had been on strike for more than a month. Most of the workers were women. Their pay was shitty, less than $16 a week, and worse, they were subjected to an absurd procedure where they had to show up to work first thing in the morning, and then wait in the basement (unpaid), until they were called to the floor to work. A clerk could easily be stuck in the basement all morning, or even all day. The Teamsters local had supported the retail workers strike from the beginning. They refused to deliver anything to the struck stores. (When I was at the Labor Archives, I even saw minutes from the Teamsters Local 70 meeting showing a member being expelled for trying to deliver to Kahn’s in November.) The local NAACP and National Negro Congress publicly supported the striking workers. And union laborers had stopped painting and construction of a new elevator at Kahn’s in solidarity. On the business side, the Oakland Tribune, then run by republican powerhouse Joe Knowland, advocated a citywide ban of pickets. According to Albert Lannon’s Fight or Be Slaves, right-wing city council members were publicly objecting to the use of the word ‘scab’. Most detrimentally, the city agreed to send out the police force to escort delivery trucks to the stores, so they could keep stock for the Christmas shopping season.

cops escort freight telegraph.jpg
OPD escorting delivery trucks from the notoriously anti-union company G.I. Trucking. From the Oakland Museum of California.

That move was too much for the local labor council. The night of December 1st, a Saturday, Teamsters patrolled every roadway into Oakland to keep the delivery trucks away, and the labor council organized members to use their cars to block the parking spaces surrounding the effected stores. Several hundred picketers came out in the middle of the night to keep the scabs out.

At 4 in the morning the cops started towing the strikers cars and blocking off sections of Broadway, Telegraph, and San Pablo. When they waved the streetcars through their police line at 6:30 Sunday morning, a driver told the cops that he’d never crossed a picket line, got out of the car and removed its control box, causing an immovable backup along the streetcar line. The general strike was on, although it was another day before the whole city was out.

streetcars stopped
Tribune clipping from the Oakland History Room.

At a long and fevered meeting of various local AFL union leaders Sunday afternoon (the clerks were affiliated with the AFL), Teamsters pledged that because of the strikebreaking deliveries, they would shut down work in the East Bay starting Monday. Every other union but the milk truck drivers’ agreed, and the milk truck drivers only insisted on working in order to get milk to local hospitals. Labor leaders went on the radio to declare Monday a ‘work holiday’ and to call everyone downtown, to the center of the strike, to show their support.

gen strike downtown.jpgFrom the Oakland Museum of California.

At the peak, as many as 30,000 people were packed into the rainy downtown streets. The mood was excited to say the least. Bars were allowed to stay open, but they were only allowed to serve beer, and were told to turn their jukeboxes out to face the street, where people were literally dancing. All AFL building trades were shut down. All East Bay newspapers were shut down. Buses, streetcars, greyhounds, taxis, and trucking were stopped. Gas stations were closed too. Hotels, movie theaters, and larger restaurants and grocery stores were shut.

happy strikers.jpgThe picture’s pretty blurry, but can you make out those huge grins? From the Oakland Museum again.

I’ve read conflicting stories on this, but from what I understand, the CIO, the second-largest umbrella union organization in Oakland, had offered their support the night before the strike. They were patently turned down. AFL leaders didn’t want to be associated with the CIO whose on-the-ground organizers were largely communist. Robert Ash, the head of the labor council was quite progressive, but balked at working together, imagining headlines in the paper saying “Reds cause Anarchy Downtown” and so forth. Besides the communist associations, the AFL and CIO were rivals not comrades. Working directly with the CIO would have brought about ugly repercussions from national AFL leadership. The CIO honored picket lines anyway, and finally, on the third day of the strike, called for a general meeting to vote on whether to walk out themselves. A CIO walkout would have cut off gas and electricity to most of the city. At this suggestion, Oakland’s city manager was ready to settle. But the unions had lost the upper hand. The national vice president of the Teamsters, Dave Beck, told the local to withdraw from the general strike. He didn’t support revolution, and apparently, the strike was developing that flavor. Rumors circulated that Governor Earl Warren was going to send in the National Guard, and the mayor had declared a state of emergency.

Instead of holding their ground, the union negotiated with Oakland’s city manager only for an agreement that police would not be used to break strikes. There was no settlement for the department store clerks (who stayed on strike for eight more months, and then had to settle for a weak contract before they finally negotiated a better deal and a closed union shop in May of ’47). There was certainly no attempt to make structural change in the city. Robert Ash from the Labor Council admitted later, in retrospect, that had they held out, they could have had more. Maybe they could have gotten the whole right-wing city leadership to resign. But even that laudable goal suffers from a failure of imagination. Workers owned the city for those three days. They could have done anything. On the other hand, what can you do when you suddenly control your own world? When you have the power to rearrange everything, if only you can agree with tens of thousands of others who share that power? Who knew what to do with complete worker control of a city?

A year later that kind of question hardly mattered anyway. In 1947, congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act outlawing secondary boycotts (boycotts of union companies that do business with a struck company), removing government protection for wildcat (unofficial) strikers, and allowing the president to force workers back to their jobs if he feels that their strike “imperils the national health”. The phenomenon of the General Strike came to an abrupt end.

In the aftermath, the Teamsters local withdrew from the central labor council (and not long after, the national Teamsters withdrew from the AFL). Voters elected a labor slate of candidates for the City Council in ’47, but not enough to get a majority, and the winners didn’t work very well as a team, and were voted out a few years later. Oakland changed dramatically after the war, demographics changed, the beginnings of civil right struggles emerged, but worker control was not on the agenda.

soldiarity never 2
Found at the Oakland History Room.

If you’re interested in the Oakland general strike, I’d recommend Chris Rhomberg’s No There There. Online you can listen to a nice KPFA documentary on the strike that features interviews with participants and more on the historical context that led to the strike. Also, check out longshoreman and publisher Stan Weir‘s account of the strike at the very cool libcom.org or Dick Meister’s summery on ZNet.


States of emergency are bad

WHAT’S a GENERAL STRIKE?
http://recompositionblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/ralph-chaplin-on-the-general-strike/

Ralph Chaplin on the General Strike

This post is an excerpt from a pamphlet written by Ralph Chaplin, the author of the famous anthem “Solidarity Forever” and an organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World.

There has been a great deal of confusion as to just what was meant by the term, General Strike. In the past any strike of considerable proportions has usually been referred to as a “General Strike.” But many times this definition was not really applicable. Much of the misconception results from an erroneous or limited conception as to what a General Strike is and what it is supposed to do. The General Strike, as its name implies, must be a revolutionary or class strike instead of a strike for amelioration of conditions. It must be designed to abolish private ownership of the means of life and to supplant it with social ownership. It must be a strike, not of a few local, industrial or national groupings of workers but of the industrial workers of the world as an entity. If we keep in mind that there are four phases of the General Strike it will help to understand clearly what we mean by using the term:

* A General Strike in a community.
* A General Strike in an Industry.
* A national General Strike.
* A revolutionary or class strike– THE General Strike.

It will be seen from the above that, while the first three are General Strikes in the limited and commonly accpeted meaning of the term, only the last, or revolutionary class strike, is a General Strike in the full meaning of the term. The first three have been attempted at times with varying degrees of success, but the last has yet to be organized and made effective. Thus, for instance, the display of industrial power by the workers of Finland and Russia in 1905 or that in connection with the upheaval in Moscow which resulted in the overthrow of the Kerensky government in 1917, or the strike of the French Railroad workers in 1909, the great strike in Sweden in 1909, or the strike in Germany when the administration of Von Kapp was embarrassed in the same manner. There were also important General Strikes in Belgium in 1913, in Buenos Aries in 1920 and again in Great Britain in 1926. All these have been referred to as “General Strikes.” And they are General Strikes in the limited sense defined above.

Outstanding “General Strikes”
The so-called General Strike in Denmark which was called by the Socialists to block the forming of an unpopular cabinet by the King is an example in point, as is the now famous attempt of the Italian workers to take over the industries in 1920. The I.W.W. strikes of 100,000 lumber jacks or 40,000 copper miners in 1917 are fair examples of the industrial General Strike, while those affecting Seattle and Winnipeg are examples of the community General Strike. Volumes might be written about each of the instances cited. But in the end it would be plain that in each case the strikes did not cover sufficient area and were not supported by a sufficient number of workers in the various industries. Nor was the abolition of wage-slavery the objective of these strikes. In other words they were merely the foreshadowing of what Labor could do for itself under greater provocation, inspired by a greater sense of solidarity and with a more perfected organization at its disposal.

The conditions necessary for the successful operation of any of the four kinds of General Strike enumerated above have never existed. But, because it has not as yet been possible to use the economic power of Labor to full advantage, is no sign that such conditions will never exist. It has often been said, quite truthfully that, “one swallow does not make the spring.” It is equally true that swallows never visit us in the dead of winter. The fact that Labor has succeeded to a limited extent indicates that it can use its economic power to a much greater extent. The General Strike, once clearly defined and understood, offers Labor a weapon in the use of which Labor has shown great aptitude and willingness– a weapon with which all other weapons in the class war are puny in comparison. Just as gunpowder replaced the bow and arrow, so economic action will displace Labor’s cruder and less potent weapons in the final struggle for emancipation from wage slavery.

The One Big Strike on the Job
It may be argued however that the General Strike might prove to be as difficult to control and, due to the possible paralysis of transport, equally productive of privation as civil war. If State power were not captured by the workers would not the armed forces of the master class crush the strike with military power? Would not the result in the long run be the same as far as mass starvation and disorganization are concerned? The answer is that, as the I.W.W. conceives of the General Strike, it would be so perfectly organized by workers and technicians and effectually used that the feeding, supplying and transportation of armed mercenaries would be practically impossible. The strikes at Seattle and Winnipeg gave some indication of the ability of strikers to organize, picket and police their strike and, at the same time arrange for the adequate distribution of food stuffs to the population. As for machine guns, tanks, airplanes and bombs of asphyxiating or incendiary character, it is well to remember that such things are only available when they are manufactured and transported by labor and would be more difficult to use against workers stationed in and about the nation’s widely spread industries than against mobs massed together in the labor ghettoes of the great cities.

According to the modern idea of the General Strike it would not be at all necessary, during a well organized class movement of this sort for the employed workers to leave their assigned places in industry at all. On the contrary, the effort would be made to get workers into the industries instead of out of them in order to keep the wheels of production going. The General Strike, in other words would be a means of feeding rather than of starving the people. This is in keeping with the I.W.W. program of STRIKING ON THE JOB. The only difference would be that the factory doors, under the direction of the technical managerial staff of the productive forces, would be thrown wide open to absorb the millions of unemployed. The wheels of industry would operate in their customary manner only for the purpose of supplying human needs instead of the enrichment of a profit-greedy Kept Class. The General Strike therefore would simply mean that the army of production under competent technical and managerial direction, would continue to man and remain in the industries, producing and transporting goods for consumption but refusing any longer to yeild up surplus value to the parasite class. The General Strike would be a General Lockout against these idle drones who now hold as their `private property’ the machinery upon which the human race depends for life.

Mass Opposition to Exploitation
The General Strike is conditioned upon the WILL of the workers to make it effective and their stubborn determination to put an end to exploitation by producing goods for USE instead of PROFIT. Unlike the small strike the General Strike does not necessarily depend on the complete withdrawal of productive effort from machinery, but rather their ability to withdraw or withhold only such effort as will put a complete stop to the profits of the parasitic ‘owners’. The ultimate aim of the General Strike as regards wages is to give each producer the full product of his labor. The demand for better wages becomes revolutionary only when it is coupled with the demand that the exploitation of labor must cease. Labor is exploited at the point of production, and it is at the point of production alone that Labor can stop the idle, absentee drones from receiving any more than they produce. Only the complete disallowal of any share whatever to nonproducers will guarantee economic justice to the working class. Working conditions under capitalism have occasioned many bitter controversies but even the most necessary demands for their betterment could hardly be called revolutionary. Even under Industrial Democracy such things will be matters of expediency and consistently sustained improvement, in keeping with recognized needs.


#OccupyOakland repurposes a fence

YOU meaning ‘WORKERS’
http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19211212
Occupy Oakland makes plans for citywide general strike
by Scott Johnson and Angela Woodall / 10/27/2011

Occupy Oakland protesters debated Thursday evening the practical difficulties of organizing a citywide general strike with the aim of shutting down the city of Oakland on Nov. 2. Speakers urged teachers, students, union members and workers of all stripes to participate in whatever way they could, and said the entire world was watching Oakland. “Oakland is the vanguard and epicenter of the Occupy movement,” said Clarence Thomas, a member of the powerful International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union who urged the hundreds of assembled people to support the strike. Protesters said the aim of the strike was to involve Oakland more aggressively in the global Occupy movement, and to help mobilize millions of Americans to protest against what they see as the excesses of Wall Street, unfair banking regulations and disparities in the nation’s health care system.

The call for a strike originated Wednesday evening during a General Assembly which drew at least a thousand people from all walks of life to Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza, which protesters had turned into a de-facto camp site before police kicked them out last week. Many people said they felt mobilized to participate after seeing videos and pictures from Tuesday night’s violence, when at least 200 riot police from around the Bay Area clashed with protesters, lobbing tear gas, flash-bang grenades and so-called “nonlethal” projectiles to attempt to corral and contain them.

Scott Olsen, a U.S.Marine corporal and Iraqi war veteran remained in intensive care at Highland Hospital after suffering critical wounds to the head from an unidentified police projectile. His condition was improving but as of Thursday evening he remained unable to talk. Spurred on by Olsen’s injury, the actions of the police and the relative absence of Mayor Jean Quan from the debate, the calls for a general strike gained momentum as the week progressed. Oakland last had a general strike over half a century ago, in 1946, when unions shut the city down for 56 hours. Bars were allowed to remain open, but could only serve beer. Jukeboxes were left to play, but had to be placed on public sidewalks so the maximum number of people could enjoy the music. A commonly heard song was “Pistol Packin’ Mama, Lay that Pistol Down,” a national hit at the time.

Today’s protesters say the next step is to involve as many local and national unions, community organizations, churches and student movements in the shortest time possible. “We’re going to have to do a lot of work, but we understand the importance of it,” said Josie Camacho, executive secretary and treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council, which has 120 affiliated unions and claims over 100,000 Bay Area members. “This movement has its own momentum,” Camacho said, adding that she and others were urging the AFL-CIO to join their ranks.

Some who support the movement have nevertheless expressed concern about the implications of a major strike. “There are a lot of people in this city who are struggling to hold on to their jobs,” said Noweli Alexander, an East Oakland resident and comptroller at a local design company. “I support this strike, but there needs to be more discussion about the economic consequences.”

Pastor George Cummings with Imani Community Church in Oakland and a leader with the Oakland Community Organizations, or OCO, a federation of congregations, schools, and allied community organizations, representing more than 40,000 families in Oakland, said the organization had not yet taken a stand on the proposed strike. However, Cummings continued, “As a leader of OCO, to the extent that the sentiments of the movement attempt to hold the financial institutions accountable, then we would support that,” Cummings said.

So far, both a nurses association and an Oakland teachers union have come out strongly in support of the Oakland protest’s goals, but have fallen short of giving their full endorsement for a general strike. Some teachers have expressed support for the strike, but said they would not bring students along for reasons of “legal liability.” “However energetic we are about the cause, we also are law-abiding organizations that are very cautious,” said Matthew Goldstein, president of the Peralta Federation of Teachers, which represents faculty at the four East Bay schools in the Peralta Community College District. The union planned to discuss the strike with its members and with its parent organization, the California Federation of Teachers, before deciding whether to participate.

“A general strike on the order of the 1946 general strike in Oakland is an ambitious goal, especially in just a few days,” Goldstein said. “It requires groundwork to be laid. There is still much to be determined.” “I’ll definitely be here,” said Max Bell Alper, a member of United Here 2850, a hotel and hospitality workers union, headquartered near Frank Ogawa Plaza. Alper said his family was hit hard by the recession and housing crisis. Occupy Oakland, he said, was an inspiration. “It looks like we’re on course to be the next 1946.”




OAKLAND POLICEMAN CHARGED with ATTEMPTED MURDER
http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/lqv57/marines_to_oakland_police_you_did_this_to_my/
by SawOnPoint  1 day ago

“Former Marine with special operations training in riot control.

Before gas goes into a crowd shield bearers have to be making no progress moving a crowd or crowd must be assaulting the line. Not with sticks and stones but a no bullshit assault. 3 warnings must be given to the crowd in a manner they can hear that force is about to be used. Shield bearers take a knee and CS gas is released in grenade form first to fog out your lines because you have gas masks. You then kick the canisters along in front of your lines. Projectile gas is not used except for longer ranged engagement or trying to steer the crowd ( by steering a crowd I mean firing gas to block a street off ). You also have shotguns with beanbags and various less than lethal rounds for your launchers. These are the rules for a WARZONE!!
How did a cop who is supposed to have training on his weapon system accidentally SHOOT someone in the head with a 40mm gas canister? Simple. He was aiming at him.

I’ll be the first to admit a 40mm round is tricky to aim if you are inexperienced but anyone can tell the difference between aiming at head level and going for range.

The person that pulled that trigger has no business being a cop. He sent that round out with the intention of doing some serious damage to the protestors. I don’t care what the protestors were doing. I never broke my rules of engagement in Iraq or Afghanistan. So I can’t imagine what a protestor in the states did to deserve a headshot with a 40mm. He’s damn lucky to be alive and that cop knows he was using lethal force against a protestor he is supposed to be protecting.”

[–]Oldforkeye 1 day ago

So… send in the National Guard to protect the marines from the police defending the banks that are screwing the people?

[–]go_boy 1 day ago

…perhaps she’ll die…

(There was an old woman who swallowed a fly…)

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/events/docs/A%20National%20Strategic%20Narrative.pdf
by Mr. Y

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/13/the_y_article

On Friday, April 8, as members of the U.S. Congress engaged in a last-minute game of chicken over the federal budget, the Pentagon quietly issued a report that received little initial attention: “A National Strategic Narrative.” The report was issued under the pseudonym of “Mr. Y,” a takeoff on George Kennan’s 1946 “Long Telegram” from Moscow (published under the name “X” the following year in Foreign Affairs) that helped set containment as the cornerstone of U.S. strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union. The piece was written by two senior members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a “personal” capacity, but it is clear that it would not have seen the light of day without a measure of official approval. Its findings are revelatory, and they deserve to be read and appreciated not only by every lawmaker in Congress, but by every American citizen.

The narrative argues that the United States is fundamentally getting it wrong when it comes to setting its priorities, particularly with regard to the budget and how Americans as a nation use their resources more broadly. The report says Americans are overreacting to Islamic extremism, underinvesting in their youth, and failing to embrace the sense of competition and opportunity that made America a world power. The United States has been increasingly consumed by seeing the world through the lens of threat, while failing to understand that influence, competitiveness, and innovation are the key to advancing American interests in the modern world.

Courageously, the authors make the case that America continues to rely far too heavily on its military as the primary tool for how it engages the world. Instead of simply pumping more and more dollars into defense, the narrative argues:

By investing energy, talent, and dollars now in the education and training of young Americans — the scientists, statesmen, industrialists, farmers, inventors, educators, clergy, artists, service members, and parents, of tomorrow — we are truly investing in our ability to successfully compete in, and influence, the strategic environment of the future. Our first investment priority, then, is intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America’s youth.

Yet, it is investments in America’s long-term human resources that have come under the fiercest attack in the current budget environment. As the United States tries to compete with China, India, and the European Union, does it make sense to have almost doubled the Pentagon budget in the last decade while slashing education budgets across the country?

TEACHING SOFT POWER
http://hegemonicobsessions.com/?p=386
by HANS-INGE LANGØ / April 15th, 2011

Foreign Policy‘s John Norris has picked up on an article written by two U.S. military officers that seems to have gone largely unnoticed by the press. The article, titled “A National Strategic Narrative,” is being compared to George F. Kennan’s famous article “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” for laying out a new direction in U.S. foreign policy (Kennan used the pseudonym “X” for the article which was published inForeign Affairs in July 1947). The authors, U.S. Navy Captain Wayne Porter and U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Mark Mykleby, invite this comparison by signing it “Mr. Y” and making several references to Kennan’s important note. Whereas Kennan laid the intellectual foundation for a strategy of containtment vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, Porter and Mykleby are calling for a strategy of sustainment: “It is time for America to re-focus our national interests and principles through a long lens on the global environment of tomorrow. It is time to move beyond a strategy of containment to a strategy of sustainment (sustainability); from an emphasis on power and control to an emphasis on strength and influence; from a defensive posture of exclusion, to a proactive posture of engagement. We must recognize that security means more than defense, and sustaining security requires adaptation and evolution, the leverage of converging interests and interdependencies.”

The authors lay out three priorities as part of this new national strategy: investing in education to build the economy; relying less on military force and utilizing other parts of the foreign policy tool box, such as development and aid, to ensure long-term security; and developing sustainable access to, cultivation and use of natural resources. These are not ideas one would normally associate with the military, but something seems to be changing at the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has warned that the civilian side of U.S. foreign policy (e.g. the State Department and USAID) is underfunded. In a 2007 speech, he called cuts to ‘soft power’ tools during the 1990s “short-sighted,” saying it was a “gutting of America’s ability to engage, assist, and communicate with other parts of the world.” The message has not changed since then. In fact, both Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have vigorously opposed cuts to the State Department budget on repeated occasions. The Y article seems to be a continuation of this emphasis of ‘soft power’, and John Norris rightfully concludes that though the article was written in a personal capacity, “it would not have seen the light of day without a measure of official approval.”

It is a fundamentally optimistic proposition, confident in the capability of the United States to achieve positive influence in the world and the willingness of others to cooperate, rather than compete. Both these assertions are debatable. Should the United States move away from interventionism, it could find it has more influence through soft power than blunt coercion, yet there is no guarantee for that. As others countries rise, like the United States once did, they too will seek their place in the world, testing the boundaries of cooperation and accommodation. In the next couple of decades, Asia will be ripe for conflicts as China and India assert themselves, with Japan, South Korea and a host of other countries seeking physical and economic security. That is not to say that Asia is doomed to repeat the mistakes of Europe. One could make the case that economic and cultural developments, with their accompanying interdependencies, lessen the incentives for war. While China is asserting itself through territorial claims in the South China Sea and elaborate navy exercises, Beijing is primarily concerned with keeping the economy running at a brisk pace. War is bad for business, and China’s military remains inferior to that of the United States – let alone a coalition of U.S. and other regional forces. In addition, nuclear proliferation serves as a deterrent of total war that was woefully lacking in Europe during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Yet despite these disincentives, all the major players in Asia are building up their military capabilities, and some are even making significant changes to their national security strategies in anticipation of a more threatening China. This development is taking place largely independently of U.S. actions in the region and despite security guarantees given to South Korea and Japan. The United States is even encouraging Japan to take a larger share of its own security burden, which basically means more defense spending and a more offensive posture. Perhaps this is due to fiscal concerns, as the United States can ill afford to subsidize its allies’ security forever, but it might also come from a realization that there are limits to U.S. influence in the region. The Asian powers have their own national interests irrespective of U.S. concerns. This means that even if the United States adopts a more cooperative approach to foreign policy, others might not follow.

Direct confrontation is not the only challenge facing the United States. One could even make the case that war is not even at the top of the list. Competition for natural resources and access to markets is likelier to result in lawfare, economic sanctions and other soft power confrontations than kinetic actions. To solve these issues, the United States needs a large toolbox, so Porter and Mykleby are right in this respect to focus on ‘smart power’. The danger is that a normative approach to foreign policy might crash into a real world of realpolitik and hard power. Speaking softly will only get you so far, unless you carry a big stick. Looking beyond the emphasis on ‘soft power’, there is a more fundamental message coming out of the Y article. Though a cliché it may be, one is reminded of John Winthrop and his famous sermon “City Upon A Hill” from 1630 when reading the article. The authors urge policymakers, and Americans in general, to examine the role of the United States in an increasingly interdependent world: “This Narrative advocates for America to pursue her enduring interests of prosperity and security through a strategy of sustainability that is built upon the solid foundation of our national values. As Americans we needn’t seek the world’s friendship or to proselytize the virtues of our society. Neither do we seek to bully, intimidate, cajole, or persuade others to accept our unique values or to share our national objectives. Rather, we will let others draw their own conclusions based upon our actions.”

As Jonathan Monten describes it in his excellent article “The Roots of the Bush Doctrine,” American exceptionalism in foreign policy has historically taken on two distinct characters: exemplarism and vindicationism. We last saw the former during the presidency of George W. Bush, when foreign policy thinking was dominated by the belief that the United States had to take active measure to promote American values of liberty abroad. Merely being an example was not enough to cause change. The latter, which is on display in the Y article, is the idea that the United States should sort out its own house first and act as a beacon of light to the world, instead of forcing its ideals on others. The practical implication of this would likely be a policy of offshore balancing, and here is the real potential of Porter and Mykleby’s proposition. This would not be isolationism – as noninterventionism is often, and mistakenly, called. It would be a policy based on the genuine belief that the United States cannot, and should not, run the world. There are limits to U.S. power, and nationbuilding schemes like the ones Iraq and Afghanistan come with huge opportunity costs both abroad and at home.

CHINA POLITELY COMMENTS
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-04/10/c_13822179.htm
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-04/10/c_13822287.htm
Facts and Figures: U.S. Human Rights Situation

BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhua) — China’s Information Office of the State Council, or cabinet, published a report titled “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010” here Sunday. Following is the full text:

Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010

The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 on April 8, 2011. As in previous years, the reports are full of distortions and accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the United States turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation and seldom mentioned it. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010 is prepared to urge the United States to face up to its own human rights issues.

I. On Life, Property and Personal Security

The United States reports the world’s highest incidence of violent crimes, and its people’s lives, properties and personal security are not duly protected.

Every year, one out of every five people is a victim of a crime in the United States. No other nation on earth has a rate that is higher. In 2009, an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes, 15.6 million property crimes and 133,000 personal thefts were committed against U.S. residents aged 12 or older, and the violent crime rate was 17.1 victimizations per 1,000 persons, according to a report published by the U.S. Department of Justice on October 13, 2010 (Criminal Victimization 2009, U.S. Department of Justice, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov). The crime rate surged in many cities in the United States. St. Louis in Missouri reported more than 2,070 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, making it the nation’s most dangerous city (The Associated Press, November 22, 2010). Detroit residents experienced more than 15,000 violent crimes each year, which means the city has 1,600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. The United States’ four big cities – Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York – reported increases in murders in 2010 from the previous year (USA Today, December 5, 2010). Twenty-five murder cases occurred in Los Angeles County in a week from March 29 to April 4, 2010; and in the first half of 2010, 373 people were killed in murders in Los Angeles County (www.lapdonline.org). As of November 11, New York City saw 464 homicide cases, up 16 percent from the 400 reported at the same time last year (The Washington Post, November 12, 2010).

The United States exercised lax control on the already rampant gun ownership. Reuters reported on November 10, 2010 that the United States ranks first in the world in terms of the number of privately-owned guns. Some 90 million people own an estimated 200 million guns in the United States, which has a population of about 300 million. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on June 28, 2010 that the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms that can not be violated by state and local governments, thus extending the Americans’ rights to own a gun for self-defense purposes to the entire country (The Washington Post, June 29, 2010). Four U.S. states – Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia and Virginia – allow loaded guns in bars. And 18 other states allow weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol (The New York Times, October 3, 2010). Tennessee has nearly 300,000 handgun permit holders. The Washington Times reported on June 7, 2010 that in November 2008, a total of 450,000 more people in the United States purchased firearms than had bought them in November 2007. This was a more than 10-fold increase, compared with the change in sales from November 2007 over November 2006. From November 2008 to October 2009, almost 2.5 million more people bought guns than had done so in the preceding 12 months (The Washington Times, June 7, 2010). The frequent campus shootings in colleges in the United States came to the spotlight in recent years. The United Kingdom’s Daily Telegraph reported on February 21, 2011 that a new law that looks certain to pass through the legislature in Texas, the United States, would allow half a million students and teachers in its 38 public colleges to carry guns on campus. It would become only the second state, after Utah, to enforce such a rule.

The United States had high incidence of gun-related blood-shed crimes. Statistics showed there were 12,000 gun murders a year in the United States (The New York Times, September 26, 2010). Figures released by the U.S. Department of Justice on October 13, 2010 showed weapons were used in 22 percent of all violent crimes in the United States in 2009, and about 47 percent of robberies were committed with arms (www.ojp.usdoj.gov, October 13, 2010). On March 30, 2010, five men killed four people and seriously injured five others in a deadly drive-by shooting (The Washington Post, April 27, 2010). In April, six separate shootings occurred overnight, leaving 16 total people shot, two fatally (www.myfoxchicago.com). On April 3, a deadly shooting at a restaurant in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, left four people dead and two others wounded (www.nbclosangeles.com, April 4, 2010). One person was killed and 21 others wounded in separate shootings around Chicago roughly between May 29 and 30 (www.chicagobreakingnews.com, May 30, 2010). In June, 52 people were shot at a weekend in Chicago (www.huffingtonpost.com, June 21, 2010). Three police officers were shot dead by assailants in the three months from May to July (Chicago Tribune, July 19, 2010). A total of 303 people were shot and 33 of them were killed in Chicago in the 31 days of July in 2010. Between November 5 and 8, four people were killed and at least five others injured in separate shootings in Oakland (World Journal, November 11, 2010). On November 30, a 15-year-old boy in Marinette County, Wisconsin, took his teacher and 24 classmates hostage at gunpoint (abcNews, November 30, 2010). On January 8, 2011, a deadly rampage critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed and 12 others injured in the attack (Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2011).

II. On Civil and Political Rights

In the United States, the violation of citizens’ civil and political rights by the government is severe.

Citizen’ s privacy has been undermined. According to figures released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in September 2010, more than 6,600 travelers had been subject to electronic device searches between October 1, 2008 and June 2, 2010, nearly half of them American citizens. A report on The Wall Street Journal on September 7, 2010, said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was sued over its policies that allegedly authorize the search and seizure of laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices without a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. The policies were claimed to leave no limit on how long the DHS can keep a traveler’ s devices or on the scope of private information that can be searched, copied or detained. There is no provision for judicial approval or supervision. When Colombian journalist Hollman Morris sought a U.S. student visa so he could take a fellowship for journalists at Harvard University, his application was denied on July 17, 2010, as he was ineligible under the “terrorist activities” section of the U.S.A. Patriot Act. An Arab American named Yasir Afifi, living in California, found the FBI attached an electronic GPS tracking device near the right rear wheel of his car. In August, ACLU, joined by the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian weekly, had filed a lawsuit to expedite the release of FBI records on the investigation and surveillance of Muslim communities in the Bay Area. The San Francisco FBI office has declined to comment on the matter “because it’ s still an ongoing investigation.” (The Washington Post, October 13, 2010). In October 2010, the Transportation Security Administration raised the security level at U.S. airports requiring passengers to go through a full-body scanner machine or pat-downs. It also claimed that passengers can not refuse the security check based on their religious beliefs. Civil rights groups contended the more intensive screening violates civil liberties including freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches (AP, November 16, 2010). The ACLU and the U.S. Travel Association have been getting thousands of complaints about airport security measures (The Christian Science Monitor, November 20, 2010).

Abuse of violence and torturing suspects to get confession is serious in the U. S. law enforcement. According to a report of Associated Press on October 14, 2010, the New York Police Department (NYPD) paid about 964 million U.S. dollars to resolve claims against its officers over the past decade. Among them was a case that an unarmed man was killed in a 50-bullet police shooting on his wedding day. The three police officers were acquitted of manslaughter and the NYDP simply settled the case with money (China Press, October 15, 2010). In a country that boasts “judicial justice,” what justice did the above-mentioned victims get? In June 2010, a federal jury found former Chicago police lieutenant Jon Burge guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. Burge and officers under his command shocked, suffocated and burned suspects into giving confessions in the 1970s and 1980s (The Boston Globe, November 5, 2010). According to a report on Chicago Tribune on May 12, 2010, Chicago Police was charged with arresting people without warrants, shackling them to the wall or metal benches, feeding them infrequently and holding them without bathroom breaks and giving them no bedding, which were deemed consistent with tactics of “soft torture” used to extract involuntary confessions. On March 22, a distraught homeless man was shot dead in Potland, Oregon, by four shots from a police officer (China Press, April 1, 2010). An off-duty Westminster police officer was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and raping a woman on April 3 while a corrections officer was accused of being an accessory (Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2010). On April 17 in Seattle, Washington, a gang detective and patrol officer kicked a suspect and verbally assaulted him (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 10, 2010). On March 24, Chad Holley, 15, was brutally beaten by eight police officers in Houston. The teen claimed he was face down on the ground while officers punched him in the face and kneed him in the back. After a two-month-long investigation, four officers were indicted and fired (Houston Chronicle, May 4, June 23, 2010). On August 11, three people were injured by police shooting when police officers chased a stolen van in Prince George’ s County. Family members of the three injured argued why the police fired into the van when nobody on the van fired at them (The Washington Post, August 14, 2010). On September 5, 2010, a Los Angeles police officer killed a Guatemalan immigrant by two shots and triggered a large scale protest. Police clashed with protesters and arrested 22 of them (The New York Times, September 8, 2010). On November 5, 2010, a large demonstration took place in Oakland against a Los Angeles court verdict which put Johannes Mehserle, a police officer, to two years in prison as he shot and killed unarmed African American Oscar Grant two years ago. Police arrested more than 150 people in the protest (San Francisco Chronicle, November 9, 2010).

The United States has always called itself “land of freedom,” but the number of inmates in the country is the world’ s largest. According to a report released by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project in 2008, one in every 100 adults in the U.S. are in jail and the figure was one in every 400 in 1970. By 2011, America will have more than 1.7 million men and women in prison, an increase of 13 percent over that of 2006. The sharp increase will lead to overcrowding prisons. California prisons now hold 164,000 inmates, double their intended capacity (The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2010). In a New Beginnings facility for the worst juvenile offenders in Washington DC, only 60 beds are for 550 youths who in 2009 were charged with the most violent crimes. Many of them would violate the laws again without proper care or be subject to violent crimes (The Washington Post, August 28, 2010). Due to poor management and conditions, unrest frequently occurred in prisons. According to a report on Chicago Tribune on July 18, 2010, more than 20 former Cook County inmates filed suit saying they were handcuffed or shackled during labor while in the custody, leaving serious physical and psychological damage. On October 19, 2010, at least 129 inmates took part in a riot at Calipatria State Prison, leaving two dead and a dozen injured (China Press, October 20, 2010). In November, AP released a video showing an inmate, being beaten by a fellow inmate in an Idaho prison, managed to plead for help through a prison guard station window but officers looked on and no one intervened until he was knocked unconscious. The prison was dubbed “gladiator school” (China Press, December 2, 2010).

Wrongful conviction occurred quite often in the United States. In the past two decades, a total of 266 people were exonerated through DNA tests, among them 17 were on death row (Chicago Tribune, July 11, 2010). A report from The Washington Post on April 23, 2010, said Washington DC Police admitted 41 charges they raised against a 14-year-old boy, including four first-degree murders, were false and the teen never confessed to any charge. Police of Will County, Illinois, had tortured Kevin Fox to confess the killing of his three-year-old daughter and he had served eight months in prison before a DNA test exonerated him. Similar case happened in Zion, Illinois, that Jerry Hobbs were forced by the police to confess the killing of his eight-year-old daughter and had been in prison for five years before DNA tests proved his innocence. Barry Gibbs had served 19 years in prison when his conviction of killing a prostitute in 1986 was overturned in 2005 and received 9.9 million U.S. dollars from New York City government in June 2010 (The New York Times, June 4, 2010).

The U.S. regards itself as “the beacon of democracy.” However, its democracy is largely based on money. According to a report from The Washington Post on October 26, 2010, U.S. House and Senate candidates shattered fundraising records for a midterm election, taking in more than 1.5 billion U.S. dollars as of October 24. The midterm election, held in November 2010, finally cost 3.98 billion U.S. dollars, the most expensive in the U.S. history. Interest groups have actively spent on the election. As of October 6, 2010, the 80 million U.S. dollars spent by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfed the 16 million U.S. dollars for the 2006 midterms. One of the biggest spenders nationwide was the American Future Fund from Iowa, which spent 7 million U.S. dollars on behalf of Republicans in more than two dozen House and Senate races. One major player the 60 Plus Association spent 7 million dollars on election related ads. The American Federation of States, County and Municipal Employees spent 103.9 million U.S. dollars on the campaigns from October 22 to 27 (The New York Times, November 1, 2010). U.S. citizens have expressed discontent at the huge cost in the elections. A New York Times/CBS poll showed nearly 8 in 10 U.S. citizens said it was important to limit the campaign expense (The New York Times, October 22, 2010).

While advocating Internet freedom, the U.S. in fact imposes fairly strict restriction on cyberspace. On June 24, 2010, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which will give the federal government “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency. Handing government the power to control the Internet will only be the first step towards a greatly restricted Internet system, whereby individual IDs and government permission would be required to operate a website. The United States applies double standards on Internet freedom by requesting unrestricted “Internet freedom” in other countries, which becomes an important diplomatic tool for the United States to impose pressure and seek hegemony, and imposing strict restriction within its territory. An article on BBC on February 16, 2011 noted the U.S. government wants to boost Internet freedom to give voices to citizens living in societies regarded as “closed” and questions those governments’ control over information flow, although within its borders the U.S. government tries to create a legal frame to fight the challenge posed by Wikileaks. The U.S. government might be sensitive to the impact of the free flow of electronic information on its territory for which it advocates, but it wants to practice diplomacy by other means, including the Internet, particularly the social networks.

An article on the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Magazine admitted that the U.S government’s approach to the Internet remains “full of problems and contradictions” (Foreign Policy Magazine website, February 17, 2011).

III. On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The United States is the world’s richest country, but Americans’ economic, social and cultural rights protection is going from bad to worse.

Unemployment rate in the United States has been stubbornly high. From December 2007 to October 2010, a total of 7.5 million jobs were lost in the country (The New York Times, November 19, 2010). According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor on December 3, 2010, the U.S. unemployment rate edged up to 9.8 percent in November 2010, and the number of unemployed persons was 15 million in November, among whom, 41.9 percent were jobless for 27 weeks and more (Data.bls.gov). The jobless rate of California in January 2010 was 12.5 percent, its worst on record. Unemployment topped 20 percent in eight California counties (The Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2010). Unemployment rate of New York State was 8.3 percent in October 2010. There were nearly 800,000 people unemployed statewide, and about 527,000 people were collecting unemployment benefits from the state (The New York Times, November 19, 2010). Employment situation for the disabled was worse. According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor on August 25, 2010, the average unemployment rate for disabled workers was 14.5 percent in 2009, and nearly a third of workers with disabilities worked only part-time. The jobless rate for workers with disabilities who had at least a bachelor’s degree was 8.3 percent, which was higher than the 4.5 percent rate for college-educated workers without disabilities (The Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2010). The unemployment rate for those with disabilities had risen to 16.4 percent as of July 2010 (The Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2010). In 2009, more than 21,000 disabled people complained to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about their experience of employment discrimination, an increase of 10 percent and 20 percent over the numbers of 2008 and 2007 (The World Journal, September 25, 2010).

Proportion of American people living in poverty has risen to a record high. The U.S. Census Bureau reported on September 16, 2010 that a total of 44 million Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, four million more than that of 2008. The share of residents in poverty climbed to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest level recorded since 1994 (The New York Times, September 17, 2010). In 2009, Mississippi’s poverty rate was 23.1 percent (www.census.gov). Florida had a total of 2.7 million people living in poverty (The Washington Post, September 19, 2010). In New York City, 18.7 percent of the population lived in poverty in 2009, as an additional 45,000 people fell below the poverty line that year (New York Daily News, September 29, 2010).

People in hunger increased sharply. A report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in November 2010 showed that 14.7 percent of U.S. households were food insecure in 2009 (www.ers.usda.gov), an increase of almost 30 percent since 2006 (The Washington Post, November 21, 2010). About 50 million Americans experienced food shortage that year. The number of households collecting emergency food aid had increased from 3.9 million in 2007 to 5.6 million in 2009 (The China Press, November 16, 2010). The number of Americans participating in the food-stamp program increased from 26 million in May 2007 to 42 million in September 2010, approximately one in eight people was using food stamps (The Associated Press, October 22, 2010). In the past four years, 31.6 percent of American families tasted poverty for at least a couple of months (The Globe and Mail, September 17, 2010).

Number of homeless Americans increased sharply. According to a report by USA Today on June 16, 2010, the number of families in homeless shelters increased 7 percent to 170,129 from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2009. Homeless families also were staying longer in shelters, from 30 days in 2008 to 36 in 2009, and about 800,000 American families were living with extended family, friends, or other people because of the economy. The number of homeless students in the U.S. increased 41 percent over that in the previous two years to one million (The Washington Post, September 23, 2010; USA Today, July 31, 2010). In New York City, 30 percent of homeless families in 2009 were first-time homeless (www.usatoday.com). The city’s homeless people increased to 3,111, with another 38,000 people living in shelters (The New York Times, March 19, 2010). New Orleans had 12,000 homeless people (News Week, August 23, 2010). An estimated 254,000 men, women and children experienced homelessness in Los Angeles County during some part of the year. Approximately 82,000 people were homeless on any given night. African Americans made up approximately half of the Los Angeles County homeless population, 33 percent were Latino, and a high percentage, as high as 20 percent, were veterans (www.laalmanac.com). American veterans served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could become homeless one year and a half after they retired, and about 130,000 retired veterans become homeless each year in the US (homepost.kpbs.org). Statistics from the National Coalition for the Homeless showed that more than 1,000 violent offences against homeless people have occurred in the U.S. which caused 291 deaths since 1999. (The New York Times, August 18, 2010)

The number of American people without health insurance increased progressively every year. According to a report by USA Today on September 17, 2010, the number of Americans without health insurance increased from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009, the ninth consecutive annual rise, which accounted for 16.7 percent of the total U.S. population. Sixty-eight adults under 65 years old died due to lack of health insurance each day on average in the US. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November 2010 showed that 22 percent of American adults between 16 and 64 had no health insurance (Reuters, November 10, 2010). A report issued by the Center for Health Policy Research, University of California, Los Angeles indicated that 24.3 percent of adults under 65 in California State in 2009 had no health insurance, representing a population of 8.2 million, up from the 6.4 million in 2007. Proportion of children without health insurance in the state rose from 10.2 percent in 2007 to 13.4 percent in 2009 (The China Press, March 17, 2010, citing the Los Angeles Times).

IV. On Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination, deep-seated in the United States, has permeated every aspect of social life.

An Associated Press-Univision Poll, reported by the Associated Press on May 20, 2010, found that 61 percent of people overall said Hispanics face significant discrimination, compared with 52 percent who said blacks do. The New York Times reported on October 28, 2010 that more than 6 in 10 Latinos in the United States say discrimination is a “major problem” for them, a significant increase in the last three years.

Minorities do not enjoy the same political status as white people. The New York city’s non-Hispanic white population is 35 percent, while more than 70 percent of the senior jobs are held by whites. Since winning a third term in November 2009, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced a parade of major appointments: bringing aboard three new deputy mayors and six commissioners. All nine are white. Of the 80 current city officials identified by the Bloomberg administration as “key members” on its Website, 79 percent are white. Of 321 people who advise the mayor or hold one of three top titles at agencies that report directly to him – commissioners, deputy commissioners and general counsels, and their equivalents – 78 percent are white. And of the 1,114 employees who must live in the city, under an executive order, because they wield the most influence over policies and day-to-day operations, 74 percent are white (The New York Times, June 29, 2010).

Minority groups confront discrimination in their employment and occupation. The black people are treated unfairly or excluded in promotion, welfare and employment (Chicago Tribune, March 12, 2010). It is reported that one-third of black people confronted discrimination at work, against which only one-sixteenth of the black people would lodge a complaint. The Washington Post reported on October 15, 2010 that about 30 black firefighters alleged systematic racial discrimination within the D.C. Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, claiming that black employees faced harsher discipline. Shirley Sherrod, who was black, was fired by the Agricultural Department after a blogger posted her truncated comments that 24 years ago, she did not help a white farmer when she was working for a nonprofit agency established to help black farmers. The U.S. Agriculture Department in February, 2010 reached a 1.25-billion-dollar settlement in a decades-long struggle by African-American farmers who had suffered from discrimination within farm loans (The Washington Post, July 23, 2010). The New York Times reported on September 23, 2010 that by September 30, 2009, Muslim workers had filed a record 803 claims of complaints over employment discrimination, up 20 percent from the previous year.

Minority groups have high unemployment rate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in July 2010, among the population 16 to 24 years of age, 2,987,000 unemployed people were white, with unemployment rate reaching 16.2 percent; 992,000 were black or African American people, with unemployment rate of 33.4 percent; 165,000 were Asians, with unemployment rate of 21.6 percent; 884,000 belonged to Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, with unemployment rate of 22.1 percent (www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/youth.pdf). According to a report of the working group of experts on people of African descent to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in August 2010, unemployment was a very serious issue for the Afro-descendant community in the United States, with levels of unemployment being, proportionately, four times higher among this population than in the white community. Reference was made to a case where the New York City Fire Department was found to have discriminated against people of African descent who had applied for employment as firemen. Of the 11,000 firemen employed by the New York City Fire Department, only about 300 were of African descent, despite their being about 27 percent of the population of New York (UN document A/HRC/15/18). Nearly one-sixth of black residents in the city were unemployed in the third quarter of 2010. About 140,000 of the city’s 384,000 unemployed residents, or 36 percent, were black (The New York Times, October 28, 2010).

Poverty proportion for minorities is also high in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau announced in September, 2010 that the poverty proportion of the black was 25.8 percent in 2009, and those of Hispanic origin and Asian were 25.3 percent and 12.5 percent respectively, much higher than that of the non-Hispanic white at 9.4 percent. The median household income for the black, Hispanic origin and non-Hispanic white were 32,584, 38,039 and 54,461 U.S. dollars respectively (The USA Today, September 17, 2010). A survey released by the America Association of Retired Persons on February 23, 2010 found that over the previous 12 months, a third (33 percent) of African Americans age 45+ had problems paying rent or mortgage, 44 percent had problems paying for essential items, such as food and utilities, almost one in four (23 percent) lost their employer-sponsored health insurance, more than three in ten (31 percent) had cut back on their medications, and a quarter (26 percent) prematurely withdrew funds from their retirement nest eggs to pay for living expenses. Even in the tough employment environment, 12 percent of African Americans age 65+ returned to the workforce from retirement, while nearly 20 percent of African Americans age 45 to 64 increased the number of hours worked and 12 percent took a second job (The Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2010). In 2009, there were more than 30,000 black children living in poverty in the nation’s capital, almost 7,000 more than two years before. Among black children in the city, childhood poverty shot up to 43 percent, from 36 percent in 2008. In contrast, the poverty rate for Hispanic children was 13 percent, and the rate for white children was 3 percent (The Washington Post, September 29, 2010).

The U.S. minority groups face obvious inequality in education. A latest report released by America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University showed that 81 percent of white, 64 percent of Hispanic, and 62 percent of African-American students graduated from high schools in 2008 (The World Journal, December 2, 2010). As of 2008, among white men aged 55 to 64, the college completion rate was 43 percent, while 19 percent of Hispanics. Among white men aged 25 to 34, the completion rate was 39 percent, compared with 14 percent of Hispanics (The Washington Post, October 20, 2010). In New York City, the number of white adults with a master degree were three times more than Hispanics. According to a report released by the Sacramento State University, only 22 percent of Latino students and 26 percent African American students completed their two-year studies in the university, compared with 37 percent of white students (The San Jose Mercury News, October 20, 2010). A report released from New York City’ s Department of Education in January 2010 found that 6,207 or 4.7 percent-out of a total of 130,837 disciplinary incidents reported in the City’s public schools during the 2008-09 school year were bias-related with gender, race/color, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation (The China Press, January 18, 2010). The USA Today on October 14, 2010 reported that African American boys who were suspended at double and triple the rates of their white male peers. At the Christina School District in Delaware, 71 percent of black male students were suspended in a recent school year, compared to 22 percent of their white male counterparts. African-American students without disabilities were more than three times as likely to be expelled as their white peers. African-American students with disabilities were over twice as likely to be expelled or suspended as their white counterparts (USA Today, March 8, 2010).

The health care for African-American people is worrisome. Studies showed that nearly a third of ethnic minority families in the United States did not have health insurance. Life expectancy was lower and infant mortality higher than average (BBC, the social and economic position of minorities). Mortality of African American children was two to three times higher than that of their white counterparts. African American children represented 71 percent of all pediatric HIV/AIDS cases. African American women and men were 17 times and 7 times, respectively, more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than white people, and twice more likely to develop cancer.

Racial discrimination is evident in the law enforcement and judicial systems. The New York Times reported on May 13, 2010, that in 2009, African Americans and Latinos were 9 times more likely to be stopped by the police to receive stop-and-frisk searches than white people. Overall, 41 percent of the prison population was estimated to be African American. The rate of African Americans serving a life sentence was more than 10 times higher than that of whites. Males of African descent who dropped out of school had a 66 percent chance of ending up in jail or being processed by the criminal justice system (UN document A/HRC/15/18). A report said 85 percent of the people stopped in New York to receive stop-and-frisk searches over the past six years had been black or Latino (The Washington Post, November 4, 2010). According to a report of the Law School of the Michigan State University, among the 159 death row inmates in North Carolina, 86 were black, 61 were white and 12 were from other ethnic groups. During the trial process of the 159 capital cases, the number of black members taken out from the jury by prosecutors more than doubled that of non-black members. According to statistics from the Chicago Police Department, the proportion of black people being the criminals and the victims of all murder cases is the highest, reaching 76.3 and 77.6 percent respectively (portal.chicagopolice.org). The Homicide Report of the Los Angeles Times showed 2,329 homicides in Los Angeles County from January 1, 2007 to November 14, 2010, with victims of 1,600 Latinos and 997 black people (projects.latimes.com/homicide/map/).

Racial hate crimes are frequent. The FBI said in an annual report that out of 6,604 hate crimes committed in the United States in 2009, some 4,000 were racially motivated and nearly 1,600 were driven by hatred for a particular religion. Overall, some 8,300 people fell victim to hate crimes in 2009. Blacks made up around three-quarters of victims of the racially motivated hate crimes and Jews made up the same percentage of victims of anti-religious hate crimes. Two-thirds of the 6,225 known perpetrators of all U.S. hate crimes were white (AFP, November 22, 2010).

Immigrants’ rights and interests are not guaranteed. Lawmakers in the Arizona Senate in April 2010 passed a bill to curb illegal immigration. The law requires state and local police to determine the status of people if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are illegal immigrants and to arrest people who are unable to provide documentation proving they are in the country legally (The Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2010). Another proposed Arizona law, supported by Republicans of the state, would deny birth certificates to children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents (CNN U.S., June 15, 2010). A group of UN human rights experts on migrants, racism, minorities, indigenous people, education and cultural rights expressed serious concern over the laws enacted by the state of Arizona, saying that “a disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants has been established”. The Arizona immigration law requires state law enforcement officers to arrest a person, without a warrant. It also makes it a crime to be in the country illegally, and specifically targets day laborers, making it a crime for an undocumented migrant to solicit work, and for any person to hire or seek to hire an undocumented migrant. The law may lead to detaining and subjecting to interrogation persons primarily on the basis of their perceived ethnic characteristics. In Arizona, persons who appear to be of Mexican, Latin American, or indigenous origin are especially at risk of being targeted under the law. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on November 19, 2010 that a large group of human rights organizations prepared to hold a vigil in South Georgia in support of suspected illegal immigrants being held in a prison in Lumpkin. As of September 17, 2010, the prison was holding 1,890 inmates. Court cases for inmates at the prison were pending for 63 days on average. With regard to immigration detainees, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants said, in a report to the Human Rights Council in April 2010, that he received reports of detainees being willfully and maliciously denied proper medical treatment, to which they are entitled by legislation, while they are in the custody of the national authorities. The Special Rapporteur observed during his country missions that irregular migrant workers are often homeless or living in crowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions (UN document A/HRC/14/30).

V. On the rights of women and children

The situation regarding the rights of women and children in the United States is bothering.

Gender discrimination against women widely exists in the United States. According to a report released on August 11, 2010 by the Daily Mail, 90 percent of women have suffered some form of sexual discrimination in the workplace. Just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. A report by the American Association of University Women released on March 22, 2010 showed that women earned only 21 percent of doctorate degrees in computer science, around one-third of the doctorates in earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences, chemistry, and math. Women doing the same work as men often get less payment in the United States. According to a report on September 17, 2010 by the Washington Post, in nearly 50 years, the wage gap has narrowed by only 18 cents. The census report released on September 16, 2010 showed that working women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The New York Times reported on April 26, 2010 that Wal-Mart was accused of systematically paying women less than men, giving them smaller raises and offering women fewer opportunities for promotion in the biggest employment discrimination case in the nation’s history. The plaintiffs stressed that while 65 percent of Wal-Mart’s hourly employees were women, only 33 percent of the company’s managers were (The New York Times, April 26, 2010).

Women in the United States often experience sexual assault and violence. Statistics released in October 2010 by the National Institute of Justice show that some 20 million women are rape victims in the country (www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/october/10-ag-1220.html). About 60,000 female prisoners fall victims to sexual assault or violence every year. Some one fifth female students on campus are victims of sexual assault, and 60 percent of campus rape cases occurred in female students’ dorms (World Journal, August 26, 2010).

According to the Human Rights Watch report released in August last year, 50 detainees in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers have been alleged victims of sexual assault since 2003. Most of these victims were women, and some of the alleged assailants, including prison guards, were not prosecuted. In one case, a guard in a Texas detention center pretended to be a doctor and sexually assaulted five women in the center’s infirmary (World Journal, August 26, 2010). According to figures from Pentagon, cited by the Time magazine on March 8, 2010, nearly 3,000 female soldiers were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up 9 percent from the year before. Close to one third of the retired female soldiers said they were victims of rape or assault while they were serving.

Women are also victims of domestic violence. In the United States, some 1.3 million people fall victim to domestic violence every year, and women account for 92 percent. One in four women is a victim of domestic violence at some point during her life, and the violence kills three women each day in the United States by a current or former intimate partner (CNN, October 21, 2010). In 2008, police in the New York City received reports of more than 230,000 domestic violence cases, which equals to 600 cases per day (China Press, April 3, 2010). In all homicide cases in 2009, of the female murder victims for whom their relationships to the offenders were known, 34.6 percent were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends (www2.fbi.gov). In the Santa Clara County in California, police receive more than 4,500 domestic violence related calls every year, and more than 700 women and children live in shelters to avoid domestic violence (World Journal, October 15, 2010; China Press, October 9, 2010).

Women’s health rights are not properly protected in the United States. According to the Amnesty International, more than two women die every day in the United States from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women in the past 20 years. Native American and Alaska Native women are 3.6 times, African-American women 2.6 times and Latina women 2.5 times more likely than white women to receive no or late pre-natal care (UN document A/HRC/14/NGO/13).

Children in the U.S. live in poverty. The Washington Post reported on November 21, 2010, that nearly one in four children struggles with hunger, citing the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than 60 percent of public school teachers identify hunger as a problem in the classroom. Roughly the same percentage go into their own pockets to buy food for their hungry students (The Washington Post, November 21, 2010). According to figures released on Sept. 16, 2010 by the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate increased for children younger than 18 to 20.7 percent in 2009, up 1.7 percentage points from that in 2008 (www.census.gov). Poverty among black children in the Washington D.C. is as high as 43 percent (The Washington Post, September 29, 2010), and some 2.7 million children in California live in impoverished families. The number of poor children in six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area has increased by 15 to 16 percent. Statistics show that at least 17 million children in the United States lived in food insecure households in 2009 (World Journal, May 8, 2010).

Violence against children is very severe. Figures from the official website of Love Our Children USA show that every year over 3 million children are victims of violence reportedly and the actual number is 3 times greater. Almost 1.8 million are abducted and nearly 600,000 children live in foster care. Every day one out of seven kids and teens are approached online by predators, and one out of four kids are bullied and 43 percent of teens and 97 percent of middle schoolers are cyberbullied. Nine out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school. As many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they’ re afraid of being bullied (www.loveourchildrenusa.org). According to a report released on October 20, 2010 by the Washington Post, 17 percent of American students report being bullied two to three times a month or more within a school semester. Bullying is most prevalent in third grade, when almost 25 percent of students reported being bullied two, three or more times a month. According to a UN report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, 20 states and hundreds of school districts in the United States still permit schools to administer corporal punishment in some form, and students with mental or physical disabilities are more likely to suffer physical punishment (UN document A/HRC/14/25/ADD.1).

Children’ s physical and mental health is not ensured. More than 93,000 children are currently incarcerated in the United States, and between 75 and 93 percent of children have experienced at least one traumatic experience, including sexual abuse and neglect (The Washington Post, July 9, 2010). According to a report made by the Child Fatality Review Team from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, between 2001 and 2008, injury-related deaths among children aged one to 12 years old in the United States was 8.9 deaths per 100,000. The figure for those in the New York City was 4.2 deaths per 100,000 (China Press, July 3, 2010). Thirteen children and young adults have died at a Chicago care facility for children with severe disabilities since 2000 due to failure to take basic steps to care for them (Chicago Tribune, October 10, 2010). According to a study published on October 14, 2010 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, about half of American teens aged between 13 and 19 met the criteria for a mental disorder. Fifty-one percent of boys and 49 percent of girls aged 13 to 19 had a mood, behavior, anxiety or substance use disorder, and the disorder in 22.2 percent of teens was so severe it impaired their daily activities (World Journal, October 15, 2010). Pornographic content is rampant on the Internet and severely harms American children. Statistics show that seven in 10 children have accidentally accessed pornography on the Internet and one in three has done so intentionally. And the average age of exposure is 11 years old – some start at eight years old (The Washington Times, June 16, 2010). According to a survey commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20 percent of American teens have sent or posted nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves. (www.co.jefferson.co.us, March 23, 2010). At least 500 profit-oriented nude chat websites were set up by teens in the United States, involving tens of thousands of pornographic pictures.

VI. On U.S. Violations of Human Rights against Other Nations

The United States has a notorious record of international human rights violations.

The U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused huge civilian casualties. A trove, released by the WikiLeaks website on October 22, 2010, reported up to 285,000 war casualties in Iraq from March 2003 through the end of 2009. The documents revealed that at least 109,000 people were killed in the Iraq war, and 63 percent of them were civilians (World Journal, October 23, 2010). In an attack in Baghdad in July 2007, an American helicopter shot and killed 12 people, among whom were a Reuters photographer and his driver (The New York Times, April 5, 2010). On February 20, 2011, a U.S. military operation in northeastern Afghanistan killed 65 innocent people, including 22 women and more than 30 children, causing the most serious civilian casualties in months (The Washington Post, February 20, 2011). According to a report in the Washington Post on October 15, 2010, Iraq’ s Human Rights Ministry reported in 2009 that 85,694 Iraqis were killed from January 2004 to October 31, 2008. Iraq Body Count, an organization based in Britain, said that a total of 122,000 civilians had been killed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq (Newsday, October 24, 2010).

The U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and other regions have also brought tremendous casualties to local people. According to a report by McClatchy Newspapers on March 2, 2010, the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops had caused 535 Afghan civilian deaths and injuries in 2009. Among them 113 civilians were shot and killed, an increase of 43 percent over 2008. Since June 2009, air strikes by the U.S. military had killed at least 35 Afghan civilians. On January 8, 2010, an American missile strike in the northwestern region of Pakistan killed four people and injured three others (The San Francisco Chronicle, January 9, 2010). During an American Special Operation in Afghanistan on February 12, five innocent civilians were shot to death, and two of them were pregnant mothers (The New York Times, April 5, 2010, page A4). On April 12, American troops raked a passenger bus near Kandahar, killing five civilians and wounding 18 others (The New York Times, April 13, 2010). The Washington Post reported on September 18, 2010, that from January 2010, a “kill team” formed by five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, had committed at least three murders, where they randomly targeted and killed Afghan civilians, and dismembered the corpses and hoarded the human bones (The Washington Post, September 18, 2010).

The U.S. counter-terrorism missions have been haunted by prisoner abuse scandals. The United States held individuals captured during its “war on terror” indefinitely without charge or trial, according to a joint study report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2010 by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The report said the United States established detention centers in Guantanamo Bay and many other places in the world, keeping detainees secretly. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established secret detention facilities to interrogate so-called “high-value detainees”. The study said the U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stephen G. Bradbury had stated that the CIA had taken custody of 94 detainees, and had employed “enhanced techniques” to varying degrees, including stress positions, extreme temperature changes, sleep deprivation, and “waterboarding,” in the interrogation of 28 of those detainees (UN document A/HRC/13/42). The United States makes arrests outside its border under the pretext of the “war on terror.” According to a report of the Associated Press on December 9, 2010, documents released by the WikiLeaks website indicated that in 2003, some U.S. agents were involved in an abduction of a German citizen mistakenly believed to be a terrorist. The U.S. agents abducted him in Macedonia, and secretly detained him in a CIA-run prison in Afghanistan for five months. However, a top diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin warned the German government not to issue international arrest warrants against the involved CIA agents.

The United States has seriously violated the right of subsistence and right of development of Cuban residents. On October 26, 2010, the 65th session of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” the 19th such resolution in a row. Only two countries, including the United States, voted against the resolution. The blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba qualifies as an act of genocide under Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted in 1948.

The United States refuses to join several key international human rights conventions, failing to fulfill its international obligations. To date, the United States has ratified neither the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, nor the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Up to now 96 countries have ratified the Convention. The United States, however, has not ratified it. So far, a total of 193 countries have joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child as states parties, but the United States is among the very few countries that have not ratified it.

On August 20, 2010, the U.S. government submitted its first report on domestic human rights situation to the UN Human Rights Council. During the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the record on November 5, the United States received a record 228 recommendations by about 60 country delegations for improving its human rights situation. These recommendations referred to, inter alia, ratifying key international human rights conventions, rights of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, racial discriminations and Guantanamo prison. The United States, however, only accepted some 40 of them. On March 18, 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the outcome of the UPR on the United States, and many countries condemned the United States for rejecting most of the recommendations. In the discussion on the United States, speakers from some country delegations expressed their regret and disappointment over the United States’ refusal of a large number of the recommendations. They noted that the United States’ commitment to the human rights area was far from satisfying, and they urged the United States to face up to its own human rights record and take concrete actions to tackle the existing human rights problems.

The above-mentioned facts illustrate that the United States has a dismal record on its own human rights and could not be justified to pose as the world’s “human rights justice.” However, it released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse and blame other countries for their human rights practices. The United States ignores its own serious human rights problems, but has been keen on advocating the so-called “human rights diplomacy,” to take human rights as a political instrument to defame other nations’ image and seek its own strategic interests. These facts fully expose its hypocrisy by exercising double standards on human rights and its malicious design to pursue hegemony under the pretext of human rights.

We hereby advise the U.S. government to take concrete actions to improve its own human rights conditions, check and rectify its acts in the human rights field, and stop the hegemonistic deeds of using human rights issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.

BABY COME BACK  | TEXAS v IRAN (cont.)

| PETROCURRENCY GLOSSARY |

the PETRODOLLAR
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-petrodollar.htm

“A petrodollar is a dollar earned by selling petroleum. Petrodollars flow into members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at a steady rate, and flow out at an almost equally steady rate as these countries invest petrodollars overseas. In fact, often money makes a round trip, flowing from a country like the United States to an OPEC member which in turn reinvests the funds in the United States. Prices for oil sales are generally given in United States Dollars (USD). In 1973, economist Ibrahim Oweiss wanted to come up with a term to describe the large volumes of currency changing hands as a result of oil sales. He coined the portmanteau “petrodollar,” referring to “petroleum” and the United States Dollar. People also use the term “oil money” or “petrocurrency” to describe petrodollars, although “petrocurrency” is also sometimes confusingly used to refer to the currency used by an oil producing country.

At various points in history, OPEC members have literally made more petrodollars than they knew what to do with. Rising oil prices resulted in such a flood of currency that these countries were unable to invest it on internal development projects. As a result, many nations started engaging in a practice known as petrodollar recycling, in which they promptly reinvest the currency in banks in regions like Europe and North America. Changes in oil prices can lead to ebbs and flows in the movement of the petrodollar and in the investment funds available to OPEC members. Some of these nations rely heavily on income from oil sales and are placed at a disadvantage when prices are depressed. In regions such as Dubai, the profound impact of petroleum sales on regional economies can be seen firsthand in the form of extravagant and rapid development reflecting the increasing wealth of some members of the population.

While the bulk of oil sales are conducted in USD and prices are quoted in USD, some countries have opted to sell in other currencies. The dominance of the USD in global commerce is credited in part to the petrodollar, and some theorists have suggested that changing economic trends may result in petrodollar warfare, in which there will be a push to denominate oil sales in other currencies. If, for example, the world switched to the petroeuro, based on the currency of the European Union, the United States Dollar might weaken as a result.”

for EXAMPLE
http://www.linkedin.com/in/josephevers
Investment Management industry, 2003 — Present (7 years )
“I created and ran a privately-held blackbox hedge fund based off of a proprietary, in-house FIX protocol implementation. We cribbed custom algorithms from bioinformatics, were the first to apply autocorrelation attacks to the market, and first to apply wavelets to price stochastics. As part of the management of this fund, we created our own international shipping arm to ease exploitation of petrodollar/petroeuro arbitrage. The chief chunks of our fund are global macro, managed futures and short bias, but you name it– options, swaps, rate agreements, bonds– we trade it in the course of a given week.”

PETRODOLLAR WARFARE
http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/RRiraqWar.html
http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/13/2010/3954
Petrodollar warfare: Dollars, Euros and the upcoming Iranian oil bourse
by William R. Clark / August 05 2005

“This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous…Having said that, all options are on the table.” — President George W. Bush, February 2005

Contemporary warfare has traditionally involved underlying conflicts regarding economics and resources. Today these intertwined conflicts also involve international currencies, and thus increased complexity. Current geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran extend beyond the publicly stated concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions, and likely include a proposed Iranian “petroeuro” system for oil trade. Similar to the Iraq war, military operations against Iran relate to the macroeconomics of ‘petrodollar recycling’ and the unpublicized but real challenge to U.S. dollar supremacy from the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency.



It is now obvious the invasion of Iraq had less to do with any threat from Saddam’s long-gone WMD program and certainly less to do to do with fighting International terrorism than it has to do with gaining strategic control over Iraq’s hydrocarbon reserves and in doing so maintain the U.S. dollar as the monopoly currency for the critical international oil market. Throughout 2004 information provided by former administration insiders revealed the Bush/Cheney administration entered into office with the intention of toppling Saddam.[1][2] Candidly stated, ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ was a war designed to install a pro-U.S. government in Iraq, establish multiple U.S military bases before the onset of global Peak Oil, and to reconvert Iraq back to petrodollars while hoping to thwart further OPEC momentum towards the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency ( i.e. “petroeuro”).[3] However, subsequent geopolitical events have exposed neoconservative strategy as fundamentally flawed, with Iran moving towards a petroeuro system for international oil trades, while Russia evaluates this option with the European Union.

In 2003 the global community witnessed a combination of petrodollar warfare and oil depletion warfare. The majority of the world’s governments – especially the E.U., Russia and China – were not amused – and neither are the U.S. soldiers who are currently stationed inside a hostile Iraq. In 2002 I wrote an award-winning online essay that asserted Saddam Hussein sealed his fate when he announced on September 2000 that Iraq was no longer going to accept dollars for oil being sold under the UN’s Oil-for-Food program, and decided to switch to the euro as Iraq’s oil export currency.[4] Indeed, my original pre-war hypothesis was validated in a Financial Times article dated June 5, 2003, which confirmed Iraqi oil sales returning to the international markets were once again denominated in U.S. dollars – not euros.

The tender, for which bids are due by June 10, switches the transaction back to dollars — the international currency of oil sales – despite the greenback’s recent fall in value. Saddam Hussein in 2000 insisted Iraq’s oil be sold for euros, a political move, but one that improved Iraq’s recent earnings thanks to the rise in the value of the euro against the dollar. [5]



The Bush administration implemented this currency transition despite the adverse impact on profits from Iraqi’s export oil sales.[6] (In mid-2003 the euro was valued approx. 13% higher than the dollar, and thus significantly impacted the ability of future oil proceeds to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure). Not surprisingly, this detail has never been mentioned in the five U.S. major media conglomerates who control 90% of information flow in the U.S., but confirmation of this vital fact provides insight into one of the crucial – yet overlooked – rationales for 2003 the Iraq war.

Concerning Iran, recent articles have revealed active Pentagon planning for operations against its suspected nuclear facilities. While the publicly stated reasons for any such overt action will be premised as a consequence of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, there are again unspoken macroeconomic drivers underlying the second stage of petrodollar warfare – Iran’s upcoming oil bourse. (The word bourse refers to a stock exchange for securities trading, and is derived from the French stock exchange in Paris, the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs.)

In essence, Iran is about to commit a far greater “offense” than Saddam Hussein’s conversion to the euro for Iraq’s oil exports in the fall of 2000. Beginning in March 2006, the Tehran government has plans to begin competing with New York’s NYMEX and London’s IPE with respect to international oil trades – using a euro-based international oil-trading mechanism.[7] The proposed Iranian oil bourse signifies that without some sort of US intervention, the euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project of U.S. global domination, Tehran’s objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on dollar supremacy in the crucial international oil market.



From the autumn of 2004 through August 2005, numerous leaks by concerned Pentagon employees have revealed that the neoconservatives in Washington are quietly – but actively – planning for a possible attack against Iran. In September 2004 Newsweek reported:

Deep in the Pentagon, admirals and generals are updating plans for possible U.S. military action in Syria and Iran. The Defense Department unit responsible for military planning for the two troublesome countries is “busier than ever,” an administration official says. Some Bush advisers characterize the work as merely an effort to revise routine plans the Pentagon maintains for all contingencies in light of the Iraq war. More skittish bureaucrats say the updates are accompanied by a revived campaign by administration conservatives and neocons for more hard-line U.S. policies toward the countries…’

…administration hawks are pinning their hopes on regime change in Tehran – by covert means, preferably, but by force of arms if necessary. Papers on the idea have circulated inside the administration, mostly labeled “draft” or “working draft” to evade congressional subpoena powers and the Freedom of Information Act. Informed sources say the memos echo the administration’s abortive Iraq strategy: oust the existing regime, swiftly install a pro-U.S. government in its place (extracting the new regime’s promise to renounce any nuclear ambitions) and get out. This daredevil scheme horrifies U.S. military leaders, and there’s no evidence that it has won any backers at the cabinet level. [8]

Indeed, there are good reasons for U.S. military commanders to be ‘horrified’ at the prospects of attacking Iran. In the December 2004 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows reported that numerous high-level war-gaming sessions had recently been completed by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel who has run war games at the National War College for the past two decades.[9] Col. Gardiner summarized the outcome of these war games with this statement, “After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers: You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work.” Despite Col. Gardiner’s warnings, yet another story appeared in early 2005 that reiterated this administration’s intentions towards Iran. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh’s article in The New Yorker included interviews with various high-level U.S. intelligence sources. Hersh wrote:

In my interviews [with former high-level intelligence officials], I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran. Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’ the former [CIA] intelligence official told me. But the [Bush administration officials] say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned – not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there. [10]

The most recent, and by far the most troubling, was an article in The American Conservative by intelligence analyst Philip Giraldi. His article, “In Case of Emergency, Nuke Iran,” suggested the resurrection of active U.S. military planning against Iran – but with the shocking disclosure that in the event of another 9/11-type terrorist attack on U.S. soil, Vice President Dick Cheney’s office wants the Pentagon to be prepared to launch a potential tactical nuclear attack on Iran – even if the Iranian government was not involved with any such terrorist attack against the U.S.:

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing – that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack – but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections. [11]

Why would the Vice President instruct the U.S. military to prepare plans for what could likely be an unprovoked nuclear attack against Iran? Setting aside the grave moral implications for a moment, it is remarkable to note that during the same week this “nuke Iran” article appeared, the Washington Post reported that the most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of Iran’s nuclear program revealed that, “Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years.”[12] This article carefully noted this assessment was a “consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, [and in] contrast with forceful public statements by the White House.” The question remains, Why would the Vice President advocate a possible tactical nuclear attack against Iran in the event of another major terrorist attack against the U.S. – even if Tehran was innocent of involvement?



Perhaps one of the answers relates to the same obfuscated reasons why the U.S. launched an unprovoked invasion to topple the Iraq government – macroeconomics and the desperate desire to maintain U.S. economic supremacy. In essence, petrodollar hegemony is eroding, which will ultimately force the U.S. to significantly change its current tax, debt, trade, and energy policies, all of which are severely unbalanced. World oil production is reportedly “flat out,” and yet the neoconservatives are apparently willing to undertake huge strategic and tactical risks in the Persian Gulf. Why? Quite simply – their stated goal is U.S. global domination – at any cost.

To date, one of the more difficult technical obstacles concerning a euro-based oil transaction trading system is the lack of a euro-denominated oil pricing standard, or oil ‘marker’ as it is referred to in the industry. The three current oil markers are U.S. dollar denominated, which include the West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI), Norway Brent crude, and the UAE Dubai crude. However, since the summer of 2003 Iran has required payments in the euro currency for its European and Asian/ACU exports – although the oil pricing these trades was still denominated in the dollar.[13]

Therefore a potentially significant news story was reported in June 2004 announcing Iran’s intentions to create of an Iranian oil bourse. This announcement portended competition would arise between the Iranian oil bourse and London’s International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), as well as the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). [Both the IPE and NYMEX are owned by U.S. consortium, and operated by an Atlanta-based corporation, IntercontinentalExchange, Inc.]

The macroeconomic implications of a successful Iranian bourse are noteworthy. Considering that in mid-2003 Iran switched its oil payments from E.U. and ACU customers to the euro, and thus it is logical to assume the proposed Iranian bourse will usher in a fourth crude oil marker – denominated in the euro currency. This event would remove the main technical obstacle for a broad-based petroeuro system for international oil trades. From a purely economic and monetary perspective, a petroeuro system is a logical development given that the European Union imports more oil from OPEC producers than does the U.S., and the E.U. accounted for 45% of exports sold to the Middle East. (Following the May 2004 enlargement, this percentage likely increased).



Despite the complete absence of coverage from the five U.S. corporate media conglomerates, these foreign news stories suggest one of the Federal Reserve’s nightmares may begin to unfold in the spring of 2006, when it appears that international buyers will have a choice of buying a barrel of oil for $60 dollars on the NYMEX and IPE – or purchase a barrel of oil for €45 – €50 euros via the Iranian Bourse. This assumes the euro maintains its current 20-25% appreciated value relative to the dollar – and assumes that some sort of US “intervention” is not launched against Iran. The upcoming bourse will introduce petrodollar versus petroeuro currency hedging, and fundamentally new dynamics to the biggest market in the world – global oil and gas trades. In essence, the U.S. will no longer be able to effortlessly expand credit via U.S. Treasury bills, and the dollar’s demand/liquidity value will fall.

It is unclear at the time of writing if this project will be successful, or could it prompt overt or covert U.S. interventions – thereby signaling the second phase of petrodollar warfare in the Middle East. Regardless of the potential U.S. response to an Iranian petroeuro system, the emergence of an oil exchange market in the Middle East is not entirely surprising given the domestic peaking and decline of oil exports in the U.S. and U.K, in comparison to the remaining oil reserves in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. What we are witnessing is a battle for oil currency supremacy. If Iran’s oil bourse becomes a successful alternative for international oil trades, it would challenge the hegemony currently enjoyed by the financial centers in both London (IPE) and New York (NYMEX), a factor not overlooked in the following (UK) Guardian article:

Iran is to launch an oil trading market for Middle East and Opec producers that could threaten the supremacy of London’s International Petroleum Exchange.

…Some industry experts have warned the Iranians and other OPEC producers that western exchanges are controlled by big financial and oil corporations, which have a vested interest in market volatility. [emphasis added]

The IPE, bought in 2001 by a consortium that includes BP, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, was unwilling to discuss the Iranian move yesterday. “We would not have any comment to make on it at this stage,” said an IPE spokeswoman. [14]

During an important speech in April 2002, Mr. Javad Yarjani, an OPEC executive, described three pivotal events that would facilitate an OPEC transition to euros.[15] He stated this would be based on (1) if and when Norway’s Brent crude is re-dominated in euros, (2) if and when the U.K. adopts the euro, and (3) whether or not the euro gains parity valuation relative to the dollar, and the EU’s proposed expansion plans were successful. Notably, both of the later two criteria have transpired: the euro’s valuation has been above the dollar since late 2002, and the euro-based E.U. enlarged in May 2004 from 12 to 22 countries. Despite recent “no” votes by French and Dutch voters regarding a common E.U. Constitution, from a macroeconomic perspective, these domestic disagreements do no reduce the euro currency’s trajectory in the global financial markets – and from Russia and OPEC’s perspective – do not adversely impact momentum towards a petroeuro. In the meantime, the U.K. remains uncomfortably juxtaposed between the financial interests of the U.S. banking nexus (New York/Washington) and the E.U. financial centers (Paris/Frankfurt).

The most recent news reports indicate the oil bourse will start trading on March 20, 2006, coinciding with the Iranian New Year.[16] The implementation of the proposed Iranian oil Bourse – if successful in utilizing the euro as its oil transaction currency standard – essentially negates the previous two criteria as described by Mr. Yarjani regarding the solidification of a petroeuro system for international oil trades. It should also be noted that throughout 2003-2004 both Russia and China significantly increased their central bank holdings of the euro, which appears to be a coordinated move to facilitate the anticipated ascendance of the euro as a second World Reserve Currency. [17] [18] China’s announcement in July 2005 that is was re-valuing the yuan/RNB was not nearly as important as its decision to divorce itself form a U.S. dollar peg by moving towards a “basket of currencies” – likely to include the yen, euro, and dollar.[19] Additionally, the Chinese re-valuation immediately lowered their monthly imported “oil bill” by 2%, given that oil trades are still priced in dollars, but it is unclear how much longer this monopoly arrangement will last.

Furthermore, the geopolitical stakes for the Bush administration were raised dramatically on October 28, 2004, when Iran and China signed a huge oil and gas trade agreement (valued between $70 – $100 billion dollars.) [20] It should also be noted that China currently receives 13% of its oil imports from Iran. In the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, the U.S.-administered Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) nullified previous oil lease contracts from 1997-2002 that France, Russia, China and other nations had established under the Saddam regime. The nullification of these contracts worth a reported $1.1 trillion created political tensions between the U.S and the European Union, Russia and China. The Chinese government may fear the same fate awaits their oil investments in Iran if the U.S. were able to attack and topple the Tehran government. Despite U.S. desires to enforce petrodollar hegemony, the geopolitical risks of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would surely create a serious crisis between Washington and Beijing.

It is increasingly clear that a confrontation and possible war with Iran may transpire during the second Bush term. Clearly, there are numerous tactical risks regarding neoconservative strategy towards Iran. First, unlike Iraq, Iran has a robust military capability. Secondly, a repeat of any “Shock and Awe” tactics is not advisable given that Iran has installed sophisticated anti-ship missiles on the Island of Abu Musa, and therefore controls the critical Strait of Hormuz – where all of the Persian Gulf bound oil tankers must pass.[22] The immediate question for Americans? Will the neoconservatives attempt to intervene covertly and/or overtly in Iran during 2005 or 2006 in a desperate effort to prevent the initiation of euro-denominated international crude oil sales? Commentators in India are quite correct in their assessment that a U.S. intervention in Iran is likely to prove disastrous for the United States, making matters much worse regarding international terrorism, not to the mention potential effects on the U.S. economy.

…If it [ U.S.] intervenes again, it is absolutely certain it will not be able to improve the situation…There is a better way, as the constructive engagement of Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has shown…Iran is obviously a more complex case than Libya, because power resides in the clergy, and Iran has not been entirely transparent about its nuclear programme, but the sensible way is to take it gently, and nudge it to moderation. Regime change will only worsen global Islamist terror, and in any case, Saudi Arabia is a fitter case for democratic intervention, if at all. [21]

A successful Iranian bourse will solidify the petroeuro as an alternative oil transaction currency, and thereby end the petrodollar’s hegemonic status as the monopoly oil currency. Therefore, a graduated approach is needed to avoid precipitous U.S. economic dislocations. Multilateral compromise with the EU and OPEC regarding oil currency is certainly preferable to an ‘Operation Iranian Freedom,’ or perhaps another CIA-backed coup such as operation “Ajax” from 1953. Despite the impressive power of the U.S. military, and the ability of our intelligence agencies to facilitate ‘interventions,’ it would be perilous and possibly ruinous for the U.S. to intervene in Iran given the dire situation in Iraq. The Monterey Institute of International Studies warned of the possible consequences of a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities:

An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities…could have various adverse effects on U.S. interests in the Middle East and the world. Most important, in the absence of evidence of an Iranian illegal nuclear program, an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by the U.S. or Israel would be likely to strengthen Iran’s international stature and reduce the threat of international sanctions against Iran. [23]

Synopsis:
It is not yet clear if a U.S. military expedition will occur in a desperate attempt to maintain petrodollar supremacy. Regardless of the recent National Intelligence Estimate that down-played Iran’s potential nuclear weapons program, it appears increasingly likely the Bush administration may use the specter of nuclear weapon proliferation as a pretext for an intervention, similar to the fears invoked in the previous WMD campaign regarding Iraq. If recent stories are correct regarding Cheney’s plan to possibly use a another 9/11 terrorist attack as the pretext or casus belli for a U.S. aerial attack against Iran, this would confirm the Bush administration is prepared to undertake a desperate military strategy to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, while simultaneously attempting to prevent the Iranian oil Bourse from initiating a euro-based system for oil trades.

However, as members of the U.N. Security Council; China, Russia and E.U. nations such as France and Germany would likely veto any U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Resolution calling the use of force without solid proof of Iranian culpability in a major terrorist attack. A unilateral U.S. military strike on Iran would isolate the U.S. government in the eyes of the world community, and it is conceivable that such an overt action could provoke other industrialized nations to strategically abandon the dollar en masse. Indeed, such an event would create pressure for OPEC or Russia to move towards a petroeuro system in an effort to cripple the U.S. economy and its global military presence. I refer to this in my book as the “rogue nation hypothesis.”

While central bankers throughout the world community would be extremely reluctant to ‘dump the dollar,’ the reasons for any such drastic reaction are likely straightforward from their perspective – the global community is dependent on the oil and gas energy supplies found in the Persian Gulf. Hence, industrialized nations would likely move in tandem on the currency exchange markets in an effort to thwart the neoconservatives from pursuing their desperate strategy of dominating the world’s largest hydrocarbon energy supply. Any such efforts that resulted in a dollar currency crisis would be undertaken – not to cripple the U.S. dollar and economy as punishment towards the American people per se – but rather to thwart further unilateral warfare and its potentially destructive effects on the critical oil production and shipping infrastructure in the Persian Gulf. Barring a U.S. attack, it appears imminent that Iran’s euro-denominated oil bourse will open in March 2006. Logically, the most appropriate U.S. strategy is compromise with the E.U. and OPEC towards a dual-currency system for international oil trades.

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes…known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. — James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

Footnotes:
[1]. Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’ Neill, Simon & Schuster publishers (2004)
[2]. Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, Free Press (2004)
[3]. William Clark, “Revisited – The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War with Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth,” January 2003 (updated January 2004) http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/RRiraqWar.html
[4]. Peter Philips, Censored 2004, The Top 25 Censored News Stories, Seven Stories Press, (2003) General website for Project Censored: http://www.projectcensored.org/ Story #19: U.S. Dollar vs. the Euro: Another Reason for the Invasion of Iraq http://www.projectcensored.org/publications/2004/19.html
[5]. Carol Hoyos and Kevin Morrison, “Iraq returns to the international oil market,” Financial Times, June 5, 2003
[6]. Faisal Islam, “Iraq nets handsome profit by dumping dollar for euro,” [UK] Guardian, February 16, 2003 http://observer.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12239,896344,00.html
[7]. “Oil bourse closer to reality,” IranMania.com, December 28, 2004. Also see: “Iran oil bourse wins authorization,” Tehran Times, July 26, 2005
[8]. “War-Gaming the Mullahs: The U.S. weighs the price of a pre-emptive strike,” Newsweek, September 27 issue, 2004. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6039135/site/newsweek/
[9]. James Fallows, ‘Will Iran be Next?,’ Atlantic Monthly, December 2004, pgs. 97 – 110
[10]. Seymour Hersh, “The Coming Wars,” The New Yorker, January 24th – 31st issue, 2005, pgs. 40-47 Posted online January 17, 2005. Online: http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?050124fa_fact
[11]. Philip Giraldi, “In Case of Emergency, Nuke Iran,” American Conservative, August 1, 2005
[12]. Dafina Linzer, “Iran Is Judged 10 Years From Nuclear Bomb U.S. Intelligence Review Contrasts With Administration Statements,” Washington Post, August 2, 2005; Page A01
[13]. C. Shivkumar, “Iran offers oil to Asian union on easier terms,” The Hindu Business Line (June 16, ` 2003). http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/bline/2003/06/17/stories/ 2003061702380500.htm
[14]. Terry Macalister, “Iran takes on west’s control of oil trading,” The [UK] Guardian, June 16, 2004 http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1239644,00.html
[15]. “The Choice of Currency for the Denomination of the Oil Bill,” Speech given by Javad Yarjani, Head of OPEC’s Petroleum Market Analysis Dept, on The International Role of the Euro (Invited by the Spanish Minister of Economic Affairs during Spain’s Presidency of the EU) (April 14, 2002, Oviedo, Spain) http://www.opec.org/NewsInfo/Speeches/sp2002/spAraqueSpainApr14.htm
[16]. “Iran’s oil bourse expects to start by early 2006,” Reuters, October 5, 2004 http://www.iranoilgas.com
[17]. “Russia shifts to euro as foreign currency reserves soar,” AFP, June 9, 2003 http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/7214-3.cfm
[18]. “China to diversify foreign exchange reserves,” China Business Weekly, May 8, 2004 http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-05/08/content_328744.htm
[19]. Richard S. Appel, “The Repercussions from the Yuan’s Revaluation,” kitco.com, July 27, 2005 http://www.kitco.com/ind/appel/jul272005.html
[20]. China, Iran sign biggest oil & gas deal,’ China Daily, October 31, 2004. Online: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-10/31/content_387140.htm
[21]. “Terror & regime change: Any US invasion of Iran will have terrible consequences,” News Insight: Public Affairs Magazine, June 11, 2004 http://www.indiareacts.com/archivedebates/nat2.asp?recno=908&ctg=World
[22]. Analysis of Abu Musa Island, http://www.globalsecurity.org http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/abu-musa.htm
[23]. Sammy Salama and Karen Ruster, “A Preemptive Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities: Possible Consequences,” Monterry Institute of International Studies, August 12, 2004 (updated September 9, 2004)http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/040812.htm

KUWAIT FIREFIGHTER INTERVIEW
http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/3620.cfm
Interview with Author Frank Touby / September 9, 2010

Worldpress: In your book “Burning Sands” you write about your experience fighting the oilfield fires in Kuwait that Saddam Hussein lit 19 years ago. You got a position as a trainee oilfield firefighter with Safety Boss Ltd., of Calgary, Alberta, to essentially better entrench yourself as a journalist. Some of the scenes you describe are quite intense. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
Frank Touby: It was the most fascinating and virtuous adventure of my life. We worked 14-hour days with no days off, and yet we were eager to get out there again at the start of each day. When we quenched a fire on a wild well that had been burning for five or more months we pinched off a toxic smoke trail that had stretched for thousands of miles around the earth. As the tail end of that noxious smoke stream trailed into the sky there was such a sense of exhilaration that came with participating in a truly worthy effort. I especially gained an appreciation for the skills and intelligence of farm boys, who provide most of the labor in the oil patch. They can operate almost any piece of heavy equipment for the first time just by looking at it. They are smart, dependable and energetic. I’m a guy whose career resulted from formal education and had an inclination to disregard such people whose work gets them dirty and who speak in less-than-correct English. Never again. On the other hand, these guys were so strong, so competent in their rightwing universes, that many of them couldn’t imagine others being truly needy of aid that government properly must provide. Not entirely their fault.

WP: Can you elaborate on that last point? What do you mean by “so competent in their rightwing universes…”?
FT: Sure. They were brought up in that rugged frontier milieu of independence, strength, self-made personhood and self-reliance. You look after yourself, your buds and your family in that model and everyone else does the same. So there is no need for crooked politicians or carpet-bagging bureaucrats to come in and tell you what to do with your land, your property and yourself. The men I worked with at Safety Boss, the blowout company, were Canadians mainly from Alberta and Saskatchewan. But it was very much the same with many of them. Mike Miller, the owner of Safety Boss, was not like that at all. He is a more urbane, philosophical man and a great, considerate leader. His company set a world record that likely will never be duplicated: 126 wild wells “killed” in five months. It probably won’t ever happen again because nobody will again set so many wells ablaze. There’s no point to it since it’s now proven that the wild wells can be quenched in a relatively short period of time. But nobody knew that at the time Saddam had his troops and sappers spend over a year preparing 700-plus wells to be torched.

WP: What did it teach you about the effects of war over resources?
FT: I must admit to having a jaded view that didn’t come from my experiences in Kuwait, but from events that transpired ever since. In short, I think war is almost a requirement to keep certain resources scarce and their prices high. Monopoly also serves that purpose—as it does with diamonds and with oil refineries that produce gasoline. War also accommodates the needs of the cabal Dwight Eisenhower warned us against as he left the presidency in 1961: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” So far we have failed.

WP: How do you think the BP oil spill compares to the oil fires in Kuwait?
FT: Aside from being wild wells, they couldn’t be more dissimilar. While the desert in Kuwait was aflame with over 700 oil fires, BP managed to contaminate an area larger than that from a single well. Kuwait was heartless and malicious; BP, to the best of our knowledge, was heartless and incompetent. I fear the harm from BP will both overshadow the severity and outlast the harm from six months of wild wells in Kuwait.

WP: What do you think government’s role should be in getting developed countries off oil?
FT: There’s no excuse for our dependency on oil from any source. It’s solely caused by the control transnational corporations hold over governments. Alcohol (ethanol) is a better fuel than petroleum: higher octane, clean burning, endlessly renewable. It’s what the Model T Ford originally used before J. D. Rockefeller gave huge funds to the Women’s Christian Temperance League to get it outlawed, allegedly so his oil wells would be worth a fortune. (It’s detailed in David Blume’s book “Alcohol Can Be a Gas: Fueling an Ethanol Revolution for the 21st Century.”) Ethanol poses a threat to corporate monopolists because it can be produced by little guys, in contrast to the millions of dollars worth of refinery that it takes to produce gasoline. Ethanol doesn’t have to be made from corn grain, which is an atrocity since that’s a food crop. Almost any vegetable matter will work, including corn stalks that normally go to waste. Bulrushes, or cattails, are especially productive. Government’s role should be to encourage such oil replacements, but that won’t happen so long as corporatists control politicians and corporations are considered equal to real human beings in our laws.

WP: Do you have any ideas as to how people can break that corporate stronghold? Because you’re right; in the United States, for example, we’ve seen Congress’ attempt at an energy bill fail miserably. Certainly corporate influence had something to do with that.
FT: Yes. The situation in Canada is nearly the same as in the U.S. Corporations buy politicians and universities. The latter are the principal mechanisms of corruption since universities produce the civil service and also issue the various scientific dictates that are used to justify regulations favored by their corporate patrons. The effects of purchased politicians need no explanation. In Canada both the Liberal and Conservative parties are on the same corporatist pages, just as Republicans and Democrats are identically compromised in the States. Government ministries or departments, such as the regulators of pharmaceuticals and broadcasters, function as advocates for the corporations they’re nominally regulating. The solution is simple to state and perhaps impossible to remedy, short of a revolution either by law or by arms. It requires an end to corporate personhood: the ridiculous notion that a business corporation has human rights identical to those of real human beings. That was recently confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court (Citizens United vs. FEC), which ruled that corporations mustn’t be denied the human right of freedom of speech by limiting the money they can spend on election campaigns. The result will naturally be that corporations can own any elections they choose. Enabled by government “regulators,” junk-food giants wreck the health of billions of people with unhealthful restaurant fare; farm and chemical oligopolies harm our food supplies; drug giants waste our health resources by ignoring or concealing unprofitable health alternatives while inventing new “diseases” and investing their research dollars on marketing schemes to sell prescription cures for such contrivances as “acid reflux disease” (aka, “heartburn,” effectively countered with baking soda); oil companies write their own environmental rules. Practically everything government regulates is now compromised by multinational corporations for their profit purposes. An intermediate step to remediate the harm might be to change tax codes in the U.S. and Canada, since both nations have well-established different tax categories for corporations than for individuals. Prohibit businesses from deducting any expenses and require them to report all worldwide revenues. It would have marked impact on each economy to start with, since many businesses and charities exist because of corporations’ abilities to write off related expenses. It would eliminate “charitable” deeds that are done in corporate names, but really those are promotional expenses. Corporations and all businesses can’t be expected to operate in any way except in their own interests. Regulation by government is needed to avoid oligopolies and other cancerous growths that strangle free enterprise or harm consumers and workers.
Universities should be prohibited from accepting funds from individuals or corporations to ensure their independence from corruption. They should be entirely funded by government, which has a responsibility to provide education just as it has to provide the military, healthcare, currency, police, fire departments, roads, regulation of enterprise and so forth. In other words, using the phrase of Seattle-based radio commentator Thom Hartmann, it’s incumbent on government to ensure and maintain “The Commons” that comprise civilization.

the PETROEURO
http://tradecrudeoil.coremach.com/capitalism-under-attack-petrodollars-petroeuros-and-the-iranian-oil-bourse/
Petrodollars, Petroeuros and the Iranian Oil Bourse
by Luigi Frascati / 2007

“This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous […]. Having said that, all the options are on the table” (President George W. Bush, February 2005)

Who would have ever imagined it?
Forget about the Prophet Mohammed, Islam, the Koran, President Ahmadinejad and his nuclear program, Islamofascism and all the umpah-pah. The Mullahs do not like American Dollars anymore. As reported by Reuters UK ([http://rtv.rtrlondon.co.uk/2006-12-18/3e56a070.html]) Iran announced that it has ordered its Central Bank to start using Euros for foreign transactions, and to transform the nation’s Dollar-denominated assets held abroad into the single European currency. “The government has ordered the Central Bank to replace the Dollar with the Euro to limit the problems of the executive organs in commercial transactions,” government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters.

Coming from OPEC’s fourth oil producer, this is a move that will undoubtedly have both deep economic reverberations and grave political consequences worldwide. It would certainly appear that rather than ‘wiping out Israel’ from the face of the planet, Iran is setting the tempo to wipe out American capitalism and influence everywhere. To understand the implications of such a move in financial affairs, one has to first revert to the importance of money in our economic systems and the effects that the ravages of inflation have over it.

Money is one of man’s most amazing inventions. Imagine the difficulty of our daily lives without those metal coins and coloured pieces of paper. To make any kind of transaction – from shopping for groceries to purchasing a real estate asset – you would have to find someone who had what you want and who wanted what you have, and then the two of you could barter. In a world with thousands of products, one would spend most of the time looking for trading partners and devoting very little time to actually earn an income. The alternative to avoid having to find trading partners would be for each and everyone of us to do a little bit of everything by ourselves.

But with money on the scene everything becomes more straightforward, simple and less time-consuming, and all of us can increase our productivity by and through specialization – that is doing what we do best, and then trade with our partners. As a direct and proximate consequence of our increased productivity, each of us can therefore become richer. It is easy to lose sight of the very basic economic point that we all owe a large part of our high living standards to the existence of money, its possession and the spending power that stems out of it. But there is a catch: money works best when its value is stable over time. And this is nowhere more true than in international trade.

Economically speaking, the power of the American Dollar and its influence in economic and financial affairs worldwide was born during the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference held at Bretton Wood, New Hampshire in July 1944. The Conference was attended by the delegates of all 45 allied nations directly and indirectly involved in the fight against the powers of the Axis – Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy, and their socio-economic doctrines. As a result of the Bretton Woods Conference, a system of exchange rate among different currencies was set up anchored on the American Dollar, which was made convertible to gold – the common denominator and measure of wealth worldwide. Thus, the American Dollar became de facto the reserve currency of the world, accepted and traded everywhere. This system remained in place until the early 1970’s and it allowed countries to accumulate reserves in American Dollars, as opposed to gold.

When in 1970-1971 an economically resurgent Western Europe began demanding payment for their US Dollars, as it became clear that the American Government did not have enough gold reserves to buy back all those Dollars, the US Treasury under the Nixon Administration rather than defaulting on its payment ‘de-anchored’ the Greenback – that is it severed the link between the Dollar and gold. To avoid an international collapse of the American currency in world markets, however, the US treasury had to substitute gold with another valuable commodity so as to entice foreign countries to keep their foreign reserves in Dollars and to continue accepting the American currency.

Thus in 1972-73 an iron-clad arrangement was made with Saudi Arabia to support the power of the House of Saud in exchange for accepting only U.S. Dollars for its oil. The rest of OPEC was to follow suit and also accept only American Dollars. Because the world had to buy oil from the Arab oil-producing countries, it now had the reason to hold Dollars as payment for oil. Because the world needed ever increasing quantities of oil at ever increasing oil prices, the world’s demand for Dollars could only increase. Even though Dollars could no longer be exchanged for gold, they were now exchangeable for oil. The Petrodollar was born.



In 2000, the first man who actually began demanding Euros for his oil was none other than Saddam Hussein of Iraq – and we all know what has happened to him. To be more specific, in fact, Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (1937-2006), former President of Iraq, made two strategic mistakes, the second one of which would ultimately cost him his neck – literally. Firstly, on August 2, 1990 he invaded Kuwait, a country very friendly with both the United Kingdom and the United States, and holding approximately ten percent of the world’s oil reserves. Saddam, furthermore, became a real threat to Saudi Arabia as well. By invading Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabia, Saddam breached the Carter Doctrine postulated by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, which states that “[…] an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” The Carter Doctrine was later on upheld by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 with National Security Directive 26, which declares that “Access to Persian Gulf oil and the security of key friendly states in the area are vital to U.S. national security […].” The Gulf War ensued in January 1991.



The second mistake of Saddam was to start demanding payment for his oil in Euros. At first, his demand was met with ridicule, later with neglect, but as it became clearer that he meant business the need arose to make an example of anyone who demanded payment in currencies other than U.S. Dollars. The punishment came with the worsening of the geo-political situation after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and an increased perception and worry about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction – which he had used extensively against the Kurds and his own citizens. President Bush’s Shock-and-Awe intervention in Iraq followed, which ultimately brought about the demise of the Iraqi dictator.



Contemporary warfare has traditionally involved underlying conflicts regarding economics and resources. Today these intertwined conflicts also involve international currencies, and thus increased complexity. Current geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran extend beyond the publicly stated concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions, and likely include a proposed Iranian “petroeuro” system for oil trade – the Iranian Oil Bourse (‘Bourse’ is the French word for Stock Exchange). The proposed Iranian Oil Bourse signifies that without some sort of US intervention, the Euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade.

This is so, because the Europeans would no longer have to buy and hold Dollars in order to secure their payment for oil, but would instead pay with their own currency. The adoption of the Euro for oil transactions would provide the European currency with a reserve status that would benefit the European at the expenses of the Americans. Given U.S. foreign debt levels and trade deficit, Tehran’s objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on the Dollar supremacy in the crucial international oil markets, and America can hardly afford that to happen. It is really a case of lethal economic terrorism and financial warfare, a matter of life and death.

And speaking of economic terrorism and financial warfare, it is very interesting and worth mentioning the link between oil and Euros on one side and Iran’s nuclear programme on the other side that Gholam Hossein Elham has made during the foresaid announcement. He has stated: “They (the Westerners) should put an end to their hostilities towards our nation and should also be aware that we are capable of achieving nuclear technology through very transparent and legal methods – something that they must respect. They must not waste their time with venting hostility against this nation, otherwise they will be harmed, more so than us.”

If Iran follows up with the intention to charge Euros for its oil, the upcoming Iranian Bourse will introduce Petroeuros currency hedging in direct competition with traditional Petrodollars. More than that, in political terms, it will pit America, Israel and Sunni Islam against Iran, Syria and Shiite Islam and will fundamentally create new dynamics and competition into the biggest markets in the world – those of global oil and gas trade. One of the Federal Reserve’s nightmares may well begin to unfold if it appears that international buyers will have a choice of buying a barrel of oil for USD 60 on the NYMEX and IPE – or purchase a barrel of oil for €45 – €50 through the Iranian Bourse. In essence, America would no longer be able to expand effortlessly its debt-financing with the issuance of US Treasury bills, and the international demand and liquidity of the American Dollar would fall. This is a very good reason to go to war.

PREVIOUSLY on SPECTRE : CABLE CUT CONSPIRACIES
https://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/how-to-run-a-traceroute-cable-cut-conspiracies-cont/
http://www.ilovebonnie.net/2008/02/13/google-maps-version-of-the-2008-submarine-cable-cuts/
http://www.ilovebonnie.net/2008/02/06/submarine-cables-subsidiares-and-subversion/
Undersea Cable Cuts and the Iranian Oil Bourse

“Through the research that I have exhaustingly done over the past few days, this is the one that has struck me as the most likely reason for the damages that have occurred to submarine internet cables. The Iranian oil bourse is going to be a stock market for petroluem, petrochemicals and gas. What’s the big catch here? The exchange planned on being ran with currencies excluding the U.S. dollar. If you remember from earlier in the post, Iran stopped allowing purchases of their oil with the U.S. dollar in December of 2007. So, obviously, the U.S. is not going to be happy about this. The biggest piece of information linking this to the recent damages is the proposed location of the bourse: the island of Kish. This is the island that is right next to at least two of the cuts that have recently occurred…”

IRAN OIL BOURSE
http://www.iranbourse.com/Default.aspx?tabid=215
http://www.islamidavet.com/english/2010/09/12/kish-island-open-to-foreign-investment/
http://www.oil-price.net/en/articles/iranian-oil-bourse-opening.php
Iranian Oil Bourse Opens
by Steve Austin / 2008.02.06

The Iranian Oil Bourse establishing Euro-based pricing of oil is set to open on February 17th 2008 and could have devastating effects on the US dollar. Currently all three major oil markets (WTI, NYMEX, IPE) trade barrels of oil in US dollars. Consequently any country buying oil needs dollars to pay for it. This enables the US Federal Reserve to issue huge volumes of dollars to meet increasing demand for oil. In return oil producing nations invest dollar proceeds in US treasury bills, allowing for the current US budget deficit. But this balance may become unsettled after a fourth major oil market opens this month, trading in Euros: the Iranian Oil Bourse (IOB).

Unlike other bourses, the IOB relies on a peer-to-peer trading model, using the Internet. IOB has been in the works for several years and encountered many hurdles on the way, the last of which are severed underwater internet cables creating an Internet outage throughout the Middle East days before the IOB’s opening and prompting conspiracy theories. In recent years the US has outfitted some of its submarines with the capability to splice optical fiber underwater so these theories may not be far-fetched. Having the world’s second largest oil reserves of 136 gigabarrels, Iran will likely extend its influence on financial markets when the IOB opens. Although under-reported by the media, this historical shift and its consequences should be watched closely.

GOVERNMENT-MADE BUBBLE?
http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2010/09/29/feature-irans-bourse-booms-despite-sanctions/
Iran’s bourse booms despite sanctions
by Robin Pomeroy / Sep 30, 2010

In the busy foyer of the Tehran Stock Exchange an old woman in a black chador clutches her shopping bag and gazes up hopefully at the electronic display showing the latest share prices. Like the other Iranians bustling past her, she is betting on a market that has soared to record highs despite ever-tightening international sanctions, lackluster oil prices and political uncertainty after last year’s disputed presidential election. While U.S. diplomats were busy upping Iran’s economic punishment over nuclear activities Washington fears are aimed at making a bomb, Iranian shares, which might have been expected to fall, have, instead, gone through the roof. Tehran’s Tepix index has risen 65 percent to all-time highs this year. Its latest record was set on Sept. 18, when it hit 18,658, up from 11,295 at the start of the year. By comparison, New York’s S&P 500 Index has made no major gains this year as the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the financial crisis.

Officials say privatisation, cheap valuations and moves to cut red tape and encourage private investors have lured Iranians away from the once-booming property market, the traditional home of the Iranian nest egg, which stagnated in late 2008. The world’s fifth-largest oil exporter hopes to raise $12.5 billion by privatising over 500 state firms during the 2010-11 year, and plans to sell all of its refineries and petrochemicals units, promising potential investors a solid pipeline of IPOs. Iranians are also increasingly reluctant to park their spare cash in the bank, where interest on instant access savings has fallen from about 12.5 percent three years ago to 6 percent now. Those rates seem healthy compared to Western economies, where central bank rates are near zero, but are no match for the rewards promised by a bourse which already boasts more than 330 listed firms and a market capitalisation above $70 billion.

Speaking in his office on the upper floors of the stock exchange, bourse chief Hassan Ghalibaf Asl summed up the logic: “The opportunities and good factors affecting the growth of the capital market and attracting investors are more important, and the weight of them is more, than bad factors.” Few dispute however, that the bad factors are there. From a lack of transparency to tightening sanctions, myriad challenges belie the Tehran Stock Exchange’s stellar performance. Firms related to the elite Revolutionary Guards and other state bodies have bought large stakes in privatised companies, further muddying the waters between public and private in a country where powerful quasi-official foundations pervade.

Last year, a consortium linked to the Revolutionary Guards took a controlling stake in the Telecommunications Company of Iran for $7.8 billion, raising concern that some firms being put up for sale are just being transferred within the public sector. Investments by these vast semi-official or politically connected organisations have caused the surges in stock prices that small investors have been happy to ride, Meir Javedanfar, an Iran expert at Middle East analysis firm Meepas, said. “Very few stock exchanges have record gains in a country where sanctions, economic isolation, unemployment and inflation are increasing,” he said. “All indicators point to this boom being a government-made bubble. It’s difficult to predict when it will burst.” Even in parliament, questions are being asked about the disconnect between soaring share prices and an economy facing not just sanctions but looming cuts to multi-billion-dollar state subsidies that currently guarantee cheap fuel to domestic industries and reduce the cost of goods for Iranian consumers. Many small investors are ordinary Iranians, who could end up suffering the most if boom turns to bust.

Sheltering from the blazing sun under the porticos of the bourse building, a man sits on a fold-out stool and sells economics text books laid at his feet on sheets of newspaper. Traders, the majority apparently amateurs, pass him on their way inside to swap rumours as they crowd around touchscreens, looking up data provided by the bourse on their chosen stocks. Iranians can place orders with professional brokers, without having to go in person to the bourse, but the building, with its atmosphere of anticipation, attracts scores of people, placing their cash alongside institutions like Iran’s pension funds. Apart from one turbaned cleric and a handful of women, most are middle aged men, and the mood is optimistic though smaller trades are driven largely by rumour, since rules requiring listed firms to disclose their performance and plans are lax.

With his boy-band haircut, jeans and T-shirt, 26-year-old Navid Sadri is not the typical day-trader on Tehran’s bourse, but he has been making his living on the market for eight years, long enough to know that a boom usually ends in a bust. “Eight months ago there was a very small crowd,” he says, pointing to the amateur traders hovering in the corridors above the bourse’s modest trading floor. “If every day there’s a bigger crowd it’s a sign that there will be a drop.” While domestic investment in the bourse booms, international sanctions and political uncertainty are hampering the flow of foreign funds and expertise that Iran needs to modernize. Foreign investment on the Tehran bourse accounts for just 0.5 percent of the shares, according to the bourse chief. “We don’t even look at the Iranian market. There is just too much political risk involved,” Robert McKinnon of ASAS Capital, an asset management company in Dubai, said in June, when bourse officials travelled to the city to drum up foreign interest.

In an effort to attract cash from abroad, Iran revoked a rule this year that had forced foreign investors to hold their initial capital in the Islamic Republic for three years. While foreign investors can now repatriate their capital whenever they want, U.S. rules ban any bank that does business with the United States from making transactions with Iran. That rule is enough to keep most major international banks at bay. So far, Tehran’s bourse has lured only a handful of smaller institutions willing to gamble on the world’s riskier markets. Fund management company Castlestone calls Iran stocks “a jaw-dropping opportunity” and plans to include them in a new high-growth emerging markets fund. Turquoise Partners, an investment firm with offices in Tehran and London, manages a $100 million fund on behalf of foreign investors wanting a piece of the Iranian action. “We’ve had a flood of money coming into the market in the last one and a half years,” Ali Mashayekhi, head of investment research at Turquoise, said.

CURRENCY WARS
http://www.ecb.int/stats/exchange/eurofxref/html/eurofxref-graph-usd.en.html#1999
http://www.feasta.org/documents/review2/nunan.htm
Petrodollar or Petroeuro? A new source of global conflict
by Cóilín Nunan

No observer of the lead-up to the war in Iraq and its aftermath could have failed to notice that the level of cooperation between Europe and America was extremely low. France and Germany were very strong opponents of the US/UK invasion and even after the war was declared over, disagreements persisted over the lifting of sanctions and how Iraq should be run. So was this just a one-off tiff or was it a symptom of deeper flaws in the relationship? I believe that the war on Iraq illustrated for the first time that continental Europe, led by France and Germany, no longer wishes to follow the Americans politically, although what has been termed a ‘clash of civilisations’ [1] is probably better viewed as a ‘clash of economies’.

While disagreements over the US trade barriers on steel imports or the European restrictions on imports of American genetically modified crops have attracted widespread comment, the most intense economic rivalry of all has received far less media attention than it perhaps should: this is the rivalry between the dollar and the euro for the position of world reserve currency, a privileged status that has been held by the dollar ever since the Bretton Woods agreement nearly 60 years ago.

At present, approximately two thirds of world trade is conducted in dollars and two thirds of central banks’ currency reserves are held in the American currency which remains the sole currency used by international institutions such as the IMF. This confers on the US a major economic advantage: the ability to run a trade deficit year after year. It can do this because foreign countries need dollars to repay their debts to the IMF, to conduct international trade and to build up their currency reserves. The US provides the world with these dollars by buying goods and services produced by foreign countries, but since it does not have a corresponding need for foreign currency, it sells far fewer goods and services in return, i.e. the US always spends more than it earns, whereas the rest of the world always earns more than it spends. This US trade deficit has now reached extraordinary levels, with the US importing 50% more goods and services than it exports. So long as the dollar remains the dominant international currency the US can continue consuming more than it produces and, for example, build up its military strength while simultaneously affording tax cuts.

Getting a share of this economic free lunch has been one of the motivations, and perhaps the main motivation, behind setting up the euro [2]. Were the euro to become a reserve currency equal to, or perhaps even instead of, the dollar, countries would reduce their dollar holdings while building up their euro savings. Another way of putting this would be to say that Eurozone countries would be able to reduce their subsidy to American consumption and would find that other countries were now subsidising Eurozone consumption instead.

A move away from the dollar towards the euro could, on the other hand, have a disastrous effect on the US economy as the US would no longer be able to spend beyond its means. Worse still, the US would have to become a net currency importer as foreigners would probably seek to spend back in the US a large proportion of the estimated three trillion dollars which they currently own. In other words, the US would have to run a trade surplus, providing the rest of the world with more goods and services than it was receiving in return. A rapid and wholesale move to the euro might even lead to a dollar crash as everyone sought to get rid of some, or all, of their dollars at the same time. But that is an outcome that no-one, not even France or Germany, is seeking because of the huge effect it would have on the world economy. Europe would much prefer to see a gradual move to a euro-dollar world, or even a euro-dominated one.

It turns out that there is a small group of countries which is playing the arbiter in this global contest. These are the world’s oil exporters, in particular OPEC and Russia. Ever since the days when the US dominated world oil production, sales of oil and natural gas on international markets have been exclusively denominated in dollars. This was partly a natural state of affairs since, up until the early 1950s, the US accounted for half or more of the world’s annual oil production. The tendency to price in dollars was additionally reinforced by the Bretton Woods agreement which established the IMF and World Bank and adopted the dollar as the currency for international loans.

The vast majority of the world’s countries are oil importers and, since oil is such a crucial commodity, the need to pay for it in dollars encourages these countries keep the majority of their foreign currency reserves in dollars not only to be able to buy oil directly but also to protect the value of their own currencies from falling against the dollar. Because a sudden devaluation of a country’s currency against the dollar would lead to a jump in oil prices and a possible economic crisis, every country’s central bank needs dollar reserves so as to be able to buy its own currency on the foreign exchange markets when its value needs to be supported.

The fact that oil sales and loans from the IMF are dollar-denominated also encourages poorer countries to denominate their exports in dollars as this minimises the risk of losses through any fluctuations in the value of the dollar. The knock-on effect of this is that, since many of these exports are essential raw materials which richer countries need to import, their denomination in dollars reinforces the need for rich countries to keep their own currency reserves in dollars.

While the denomination of oil sales is not a subject which is frequently discussed in the media, its importance is certainly well understood by governments. For example, when in 1971 President Nixon took the US off the gold standard, OPEC did consider moving away from dollar oil pricing, as dollars no longer had the guaranteed value they once did. The US response was to do various secret deals with Saudi Arabia in the 1970s to ensure that the world’s most important oil exporter stuck with the dollar [3]. What the Saudis did, OPEC followed. More recently, in June 2003, the Prime Minister of Malaysia publicly encouraged his country’s oil and gas exporters to move from the dollar to the euro. The European and American reactions were polar opposites: the EU’s Energy Commissioner, Loyola de Palacio, welcomed the suggestion, saying that ‘in the future the euro is [going to be] taking a place in the international markets in general as the money of exchange’ and that this was ‘a matter of realism’ [4]. Her counterpart in the US, the director of the Energy Information Administration, Guy Caruso, said that he couldn’t see ‘any particular merit’ in the move and that over the long run ‘the dollar’s always won out’ [5]. Either way, Malaysia is only a relatively minor oil exporter, so what it does can only have a very limited effect. A switch by a major oil exporter would be of far greater significance.

The first country to actually make the switch was a very important oil exporter indeed: Iraq, in November 2000 [6,7]. Before the war in Iraq began, some observers, myself included, argued that this might well be a major reason for the US desire to invade and the strong Franco-German opposition to the invasion [8,9]. Corroborating evidence included the apparent influence which loyalty (or lack thereof) to the dollar seemed to have on the US attitude towards other OPEC members. Iran had been talking of selling its own oil for euros [6,10] and was subsequently included in George Bush’s ‘axis of evil’. Venezuela, another important oil exporter, had started bartering some of its oil, thus avoiding the use of the dollar, and was encouraging OPEC to do likewise [11] – and the US was widely suspected in having played a part in the attempted coup against the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.

Semi-official confirmation that petro-currency rivalry was at the heart of the split between France and Germany, on the one hand, and the US, on the other, was provided by Howard Fineman, the chief political correspondent for Newsweek, in an article he wrote in April 2003, in the aftermath of the war. The Europeans and Americans were then arguing over whether the UN’s oil-for-food programme in Iraq should remain in place or not. Using the term ‘clash of civilisations’ to describe the divide which was developing, Fineman explained that the disagreement had little to do with the French calls for the search for weapons of mass destruction to resume and for sanctions to remain in place until the search was complete. Instead, Fineman said, it was mainly about the dollar vs the euro. Citing White House officials and a presidential aide, he explained that the dispute between the two continents was really about ‘who gets to sell – and buy – Iraqi oil, and what form of currency will be used to denominate the value of the sales. That decision, in turn, will help decide who controls Iraq, which, in turn, will represent yet another skirmish in a growing global economic conflict. We want a secular, American-influenced pan-ethnic entity of some kind to control the massive oil fields (Iraq’s vast but only real source of wealth). We want that entity to be permitted to sell the oil to whomever it wants, denominated in dollars.’ Fineman concluded his article by confidently predicting that future Iraqi oil sales would be switched back to dollars [1].

Fineman’s White House sources would appear to have been reliable as that is precisely what has happened: when Iraqi oil exports resumed in June of last year, it was announced that payment would be in dollars only [12,13]. It was also decided that the billions of Iraqi euros which were being held in a euro account, controlled by the UN under the oil-for-food programme, were to be transferred into the Development Fund for Iraq, a dollar account controlled by the US [13,14,15].

Furthermore, Youssef Ibrahim, a former senior Middle East correspondent for the New York Times and energy editor on the Wall Street Journal, who is a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, has called Iraq’s switch to the euro ‘another reason’ for the war, saying that a general move by oil producers to the euro would be a ‘catastrophe’ for the US [16].

America’s willingness to use violence to defend its economic interests does not seem to have reduced the number of oil exporters considering switching to the euro as they recognise that their use of the dollar enables the US to build up its military strength. In addition to Malaysia, Indonesia has the switch under consideration [17] while Iran has been shifting its currency reserves into euros. Moreover, according to the Vice-President of the Iranian central bank, it has actually sold some of its oil to Europe for euros and is encouraging members of an Asian trade organisation, the Asian Clearing Union, to pay for Iranian oil in the European currency [18]. Along with Malaysia, it is also at the forefront of efforts to establish a new gold-backed currency, the Islamic Gold Dinar, to be used in international trade amongst Muslim countries instead of both the dollar and the euro [19]. In a further development, in June 2004, Iran announced that it had plans to establish an oil-trading market for Middle Eastern and OPEC producers which could threaten the dominance of London’s International Petroleum Exchange and New York’s Nymex [20]. Such a move could help remove some of the technical difficulties that exist with a switch away from dollar-denomination of oil sales.

It is therefore not surprising to find that, just as with Iraq, the European Union and the US are dealing with Iran in very different ways. While the EU has been holding trade negotiations with Iran [21] and involved in dialogue about its nuclear programme, the US has refused to get involved in direct talks with the Iranian government which it views as ‘evil’. The American Enterprise Institute, a highly influential American ‘think tank’, has in fact been actively calling for ‘regime change’ [22] and, although this policy has yet to be officially endorsed by the Bush administration, in July 2004 it was claimed in the British press that a senior official of the Bush administration had indicated that, if re-elected, Bush would intervene in the internal affairs of Iran in an attempt to overturn the Iranian government [23,24].

European enthusiasm for the ‘petroeuro’ also appears undampened by the US takeover of Iraq. Since the war, the European Union has been actively encouraging Russia, another opponent of the US invasion, to move to euro oil and gas sales. In October 2003, during a joint press conference with Germany’s Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder, the Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia was thinking about selling its oil for euros. A few days later, the European Commission President, Romano Prodi, said, after a summit between Russia and the European Union, that Russia was now drawn to having its imports and exports denominated in euros [25,26].

In December 2003, speculation about the future roles of the dollar and the euro increased when OPEC Secretary General Alvaro Silva, a former Venezuelan oil minister, said that the organisation was now considering trading in euros or in a basket of currencies other than the dollar, as the US currency was declining in value [27] . Although a few days later the Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said that OPEC would not be discussing a switch to the euro at its next meeting (comments reinforced by the Qatari President of OPEC and the Algerian oil minister [28]), articles discussing a possible move continued to appear in the media [29,30] and the euro’s value against the dollar soared. Despite the speculation, no decision to move to the euro was taken at OPEC’s meeting in early February 2004 and thereafter the euro’s value fell back again.

In fact, close inspection of the dollar-euro exchange rate shows that since the euro’s introduction in January 1999, petro-currency rivalry appears to have played an important part in swinging the rate one way or the other. The markets, it seems, have noticed the importance of what is happening. On the other hand, the lack of an open discussion of the issues suggests that politicians and bankers are keen to move ahead with their plans with little or no explanation to the general public.

Should we not, however, be debating more openly what kind (or kinds) of international financial structure(s) we want to adopt, since the question has potentially huge implications for the stability of the world economy and for peace and stability in oil-exporting countries? A good starting point for such a debate would be the recognition that no country or countries should be allowed to dominate the system by controlling the issuance of the currency or currencies used. Similarly fundamental would be to prevent any country from running a persistent trade surplus or deficit so as to avoid the build up of unjust subsidies, unpayable debts and economic instability. At Bretton Woods, John Maynard Keynes, who understood how important these two conditions were, proposed a system which would have met them, but his proposal was rejected in favour of the dollar.[31] The dollar, though, is no longer a stable, reliable currency: the IMF has warned that the US trade deficit is so bad that its currency could collapse at any time.[32] Will we really have to wait for a full-blown dollar crisis before a public debate about creating a just and sustainable trading system can begin?

References
1. Howard Fineman, ‘In Round 2, it’s the dollar vs. euro’, April 23 2003, Newsweek, http://www.msnbc.com/news/904353.asp?0sl=22&newguid=FD367EA32A81424DB1136AF1FD3221F4&cp1=1
2. Anon., ‘Will the euro rule the roost?’, January 1 1999, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/events/the_launch_of_emu/inside_em u/225434.stm
3. David E. Spiro, The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets, Cornell University Press, 1999
4. Anon., ‘EU says oil could one day be priced in euros’, 16 June 2003, Reuters
5. Irene Kwek, ‘EIA Says Oil Price Switch To Euro From Dollar Unlikely’, 16 June 2003, Dow Jones Newswires
6. Recknagel, Charles, ‘Iraq: Baghdad Moves to Euro’, November 1 2000,Radio Free Europe, http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2000/11/01112000160846.asp
7. Faisal Islam, ‘When will we buy oil in euros?’, February 23 2003, The Observer, http://www.observer.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,900867,00.html
8. William Clark, ‘The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth’, January 2003, http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/RRiraqWar.html
9. Cóilín Nunan, ‘Oil, currency and the war on Iraq’, January 2003, http://www.feasta.org/documents/papers/oil1.htm
10. Anon., ‘Iran may switch to euro for crude sale payments’, Alexander Oil and Gas, September 5 2002, http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/news/ntm23638.htm
11. Hazel Henderson, ‘Globocop v. Venezuela’s Chavez: Oil, Globalization and Competing Visions of Development’, April 2002, InterPress Service, http://www.hazelhenderson.com/Globocop%20v.%20Chavez.htm
12. Carola Hoyos and Kevin Morrison, ‘Iraq returns to international oil market’, June 5 2003, Financial Times
13. Coalition Provisional Authority Regulation Number 2, http://www.cpa-iraq.org/regulations/index.html#Regulations
14. UN Security Council Resolution 1483, http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_resolutions03.html
15. Judy Aita, ‘U.N. Transfers Oil-for-Food Program to CPA, Iraqi Officials Nov 22’, November 2003, Washington File, http://www.cpa-iraq.org/audio/20031122_Nov-22UN_Transfers_Oil_for_Food_Program-post.htm
16. Catherine Belton, ‘Why not price oil in euros?’, October 10 2003, Moscow Times
17. Kazi Mahmood, ‘Economic Shift Could Hurt U.S.-British Interests In Asia’, March 30 2003, IslamOnline.net
18. C. Shivkumar, ‘Iran offers oil to Asian union on easier terms’, June 16 2003, http://www.blonnet.com/2003/06/17/stories/2003061702380500.htm
19. Anon, ‘Malaysia, Iran discuss the use of gold dinar’, July 3 2003, Asia Times, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/EG03Ae01.html
20. Terry Macalister, ‘Iran takes on west’s control of oil trading’, June 16 2004, The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1239644,00.html
21. Hooman Peimani, ‘EU and Iran talk trade, not war’, June 7 2003, Asia Times, www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EF07AK02.html
22. Guy Dinmore, ‘US lobbyists tune in for regime change in Iran’, December 5 2003, Financial Times
23. Michael Binyon and Bronwen Maddox, ‘US sets sights on toppling Iran regime’, July 17 2004, The Times
24. Jennifer Johnston, ‘Regime change in Iran now in Bush’s sights’, July 18 2004, The Sunday Herald, www.sundayherald.com/43461
25. Lisa Jucca and Melissa Akin, ‘Europe Presses Russia on Euro’, October 20 2003, Moscow Times
26. Simon Nixon, ‘What’s that in euros?’, October 18 2003, The Spectator, www.spectator.co.uk/article.php3?table=old§ion=current&issue=2003-10-18&id=3619
27. Anon., ‘OPEC may trade oil in euros to compensate for dollar decline’, December 9 2003, Associated Press, http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_490084,00020008.htm
28. Anon., ‘Saudi Arabia: Dollars only please’, December 13 2003, Reuters, http://money.cnn.com/2003/12/13/news/international/bc.energy .saudi.reut/
29. Patrick Brethour, ‘OPEC mulls move to euro for pricing crude oil’, January 12 2004, Globe and Mail, http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040112.wopec0112/BNStory/Business/
30. Anon., ‘To euro or not: should oil pricing ditch the dollar?’, February 9 2004, AFP
31. Michael Rowbottom, Goodbye America! Globalisation, Debt and the Dollar Empire, Jon Carpenter Publishing, 2000
32. Charlotte Denny and Larry Elliott, ‘IMF warns trade gap could bring down dollar’, September 19 2003, The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1045193,00.html

THIS FIRST: the HAYFLICK LIMIT
http://www.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/en/aktuelles/hayflick.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayflick_limit
“…is the number of times a normal cell population will divide before it stops, presumably because the telomeres reach a critical length…”

A PERPLEXING DEATHLESSNESS
http://rebeccaskloot.com/book-special-features/audiovideo/
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Henrietta-Lacks-Immortal-Cells.html
Henrietta Lacks’ ‘Immortal’ Cells
by Sarah Zielinski / January 22, 2010

Medical researchers use laboratory-grown human cells to learn the intricacies of how cells work and test theories about the causes and treatment of diseases. The cell lines they need are “immortal”—they can grow indefinitely, be frozen for decades, divided into different batches and shared among scientists. In 1951, a scientist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, created the first immortal human cell line with a tissue sample taken from a young black woman with cervical cancer. Those cells, called HeLa cells, quickly became invaluable to medical research—though their donor remained a mystery for decades. In her new book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, journalist Rebecca Skloot tracks down the story of the source of the amazing HeLa cells, Henrietta Lacks, and documents the cell line’s impact on both modern medicine and the Lacks family.

Q: Who was Henrietta Lacks?
A: She was a black tobacco farmer from southern Virginia who got cervical cancer when she was 30. A doctor at Johns Hopkins took a piece of her tumor without telling her and sent it down the hall to scientists there who had been trying to grow tissues in culture for decades without success. No one knows why, but her cells never died.

Q: Why are her cells so important?
A: Henrietta’s cells were the first immortal human cells ever grown in culture. They were essential to developing the polio vaccine. They went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in zero gravity. Many scientific landmarks since then have used her cells, including cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization.

Q: There has been a lot of confusion over the years about the source of HeLa cells. Why?
A: When the cells were taken, they were given the code name HeLa, for the first two letters in Henrietta and Lacks. Today, anonymizing samples is a very important part of doing research on cells. But that wasn’t something doctors worried about much in the 1950s, so they weren’t terribly careful about her identity. When some members of the press got close to finding Henrietta’s family, the researcher who’d grown the cells made up a pseudonym—Helen Lane—to throw the media off track. Other pseudonyms, like Helen Larsen, eventually showed up, too. Her real name didn’t really leak out into the world until the 1970s.

Q: How did you first get interested in this story?
A: I first learned about Henrietta in 1988. I was 16 and a student in a community college biology class. Everybody learns about these cells in basic biology, but what was unique about my situation was that my teacher actually knew Henrietta’s real name and that she was black. But that’s all he knew. The moment I heard about her, I became obsessed: Did she have any kids? What do they think about part of their mother being alive all these years after she died? Years later, when I started being interested in writing, one of the first stories I imagined myself writing was hers. But it wasn’t until I went to grad school that I thought about trying to track down her family.

Q: How did you win the trust of Henrietta’s family?
A: Part of it was that I just wouldn’t go away and was determined to tell the story. It took almost a year even to convince Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah, to talk to me. I knew she was desperate to learn about her mother. So when I started doing my own research, I’d tell her everything I found. I went down to Clover, Virginia, where Henrietta was raised, and tracked down her cousins, then called Deborah and left these stories about Henrietta on her voice mail. Because part of what I was trying to convey to her was I wasn’t hiding anything, that we could learn about her mother together. After a year, finally she said, fine, let’s do this thing.

Q: When did her family find out about Henrietta’s cells?
A: Twenty-five years after Henrietta died, a scientist discovered that many cell cultures thought to be from other tissue types, including breast and prostate cells, were in fact HeLa cells. It turned out that HeLa cells could float on dust particles in the air and travel on unwashed hands and contaminate other cultures. It became an enormous controversy. In the midst of that, one group of scientists tracked down Henrietta’s relatives to take some samples with hopes that they could use the family’s DNA to make a map of Henrietta’s genes so they could tell which cell cultures were HeLa and which weren’t, to begin straightening out the contamination problem. So a postdoc called Henrietta’s husband one day. But he had a third-grade education and didn’t even know what a cell was. The way he understood the phone call was: “We’ve got your wife. She’s alive in a laboratory. We’ve been doing research on her for the last 25 years. And now we have to test your kids to see if they have cancer.” Which wasn’t what the researcher said at all. The scientists didn’t know that the family didn’t understand. From that point on, though, the family got sucked into this world of research they didn’t understand, and the cells, in a sense, took over their lives.

Q: How did they do that?
A: This was most true for Henrietta’s daughter. Deborah never knew her mother; she was an infant when Henrietta died. She had always wanted to know who her mother was but no one ever talked about Henrietta. So when Deborah found out that this part of her mother was still alive she became desperate to understand what that meant: Did it hurt her mother when scientists injected her cells with viruses and toxins? Had scientists cloned her mother? And could those cells help scientists tell her about her mother, like what her favorite color was and if she liked to dance. Deborah’s brothers, though, didn’t think much about the cells until they found out there was money involved. HeLa cells were the first human biological materials ever bought and sold, which helped launch a multi-billion-dollar industry. When Deborah’s brothers found out that people were selling vials of their mother’s cells, and that the family didn’t get any of the resulting money, they got very angry. Henrietta’s family has lived in poverty most of their lives, and many of them can’t afford health insurance. One of her sons was homeless and living on the streets of Baltimore. So the family launched a campaign to get some of what they felt they were owed financially. It consumed their lives in that way.

Q: What are the lessons from this book?
A: For scientists, one of the lessons is that there are human beings behind every biological sample used in the laboratory. So much of science today revolves around using human biological tissue of some kind. For scientists, cells are often just like tubes or fruit flies—they’re just inanimate tools that are always there in the lab. The people behind those samples often have their own thoughts and feelings about what should happen to their tissues, but they’re usually left out of the equation.

Q: And for the rest of us?
A: The story of HeLa cells and what happened with Henrietta has often been held up as an example of a racist white scientist doing something malicious to a black woman. But that’s not accurate. The real story is much more subtle and complicated. What is very true about science is that there are human beings behind it and sometimes even with the best of intentions things go wrong. One of the things I don’t want people to take from the story is the idea that tissue culture is bad. So much of medicine today depends on tissue culture. HIV tests, many basic drugs, all of our vaccines—we would have none of that if it wasn’t for scientists collecting cells from people and growing them. And the need for these cells is going to get greater, not less. Instead of saying we don’t want that to happen, we just need to look at how it can happen in a way that everyone is OK with.

CONTACT
Rebecca Skloot
http://scienceblogs.com/culturedish/
http://rebeccaskloot.com/about/bio/
email: rebecca [at] rebeccaskloot [dot] com

BEFORE CONSENT
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Otto_Gey
http://www.medicalarchives.jhmi.edu/sgml/gey.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/17/arts/cells-that-save-lives-are-a-mother-s-legacy.html
Cells That Save Lives Are a Mother’s Legacy
by Rebecca Skllot / November 17, 2001

Deborah Lacks closed her eyes as a young cancer researcher opened the door of his floor-to-ceiling freezer. She stood clutching the ragged dictionary she uses to look up words like ”DNA,” ”cell” and ”immortality.” When the icy breeze hit her face, she opened her eyes slowly, and stared into a freezer filled with tiny vials of red liquid. ”O God,” she gasped, ”I can’t believe all this is my mother.” Fifty years ago, when Deborah Lacks was still in diapers, her 30-year-old mother, Henrietta Lacks, lay in a segregated ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The resident gynecologist sewed radium to her cervix in an attempt to knock out the cancer that was killing her. But before he finished, and without telling her, he took a small sample of her tumor and sent it downstairs to Dr. George Gey (pronounced guy), head of tissue culture research at Hopkins. Dr. Gey had spent almost 30 years collecting cancerous human cells and trying to make them grow, but until Ms. Lacks came along, they never did. Though Henrietta died a few months after her radium treatments, her cells are still living today.

Henrietta’s cells — named HeLa after the first letters in Henrietta and Lacks — became the first human cells to live indefinitely outside the body. They helped eradicate polio, flew in early space shuttle missions and sat in nuclear test sites around the world. In the 50’s, HeLa cells helped researchers understand the differences between cancerous and normal cells, and quickly became a standard laboratory tool for studying the effects of radiation, growing viruses and testing medications. HeLa is still one of the most widely used cell lines; in fact, this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for research in which HeLa cells played a pivotal role. Yet it was not until nearly two decades later — just before magazines like Jet and Emerge started writing stories about a black family whose mother had made important contributions to science without their knowledge — that anyone in Ms. Lacks’s family knew what had happened. Ms. Lacks, 52, doesn’t remember how she heard, but she’ll never forget her reaction: ”I went into shock,” she said. ”Why didn’t they just ask if they could use her cells?”

If the issue of using patient tissue without permission wasn’t a pressing one in the 50’s, informed consent has certainly become a heated topic today. ”In 1951, they wouldn’t have felt like they needed to ask,” said Ruth Faden, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Bioethics Institute. ”It’s a sad commentary on how the biomedical research community thought about research in the 50’s, but it was not at all uncommon for physicians to conduct research on patients without their knowledge or consent.” Today, when patients go in for surgery, they’re usually asked to sign a form saying whether their tissues can be used for research. But, said Lori Andrews, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law and co-author of ”Body Bazaar: The Market for Human Tissue in the Biotechnology Age,” that practice doesn’t solve an important problem. ”All of us have blood or tissue on file somewhere,” Ms. Andrews said. ”Today, every drop of blood taken from people, every organ or biopsy removed by a surgeon, is in the pipeline toward research and commercialization. Since the 60’s, every newborn in the U.S. has been tested for genetic disorders, and many of their samples are still on file for use in later research. There are no rules governing who has access to these samples.” Some bioethicists and lawyers want legislation requiring researchers to obtain consent before conducting research on any tissues, including those already in storage. But many research organizations — the American Society for Investigative Pathology, for example, and the College of American Pathologists — have argued that such blanket legislation could seriously damage scientific progress.

Dr. Mark Sobel, senior executive officer of the American Society for Investigative Pathology, agrees that informed consent should be required before new tissues are collected. But to Dr. Sobel, the millions of tissue samples collected before the current shift toward informed consent, like Henrietta Lacks’s cells, are a special case. Scientists conducting research on those samples have no way to contact the donors for permission. ”This is where we want some flexibility,” Dr. Sobel said. ”We want recognition that there’s a way — with policies in place for confidentiality and protecting the patients — that you can still use these very, very, very important resources of human tissue. Otherwise, it’s going to impede medical research.” To Dr. Sobel, using these samples ethically means protecting patient identity and assuring complete anonymity. Dr. Gey tried to do this for Ms. Lacks, but rumors began circulating that HeLa stood for someone named Helen Lane. When a few colleagues of Dr. Gey, who has since died, tried to correct this error, the Lacks family was thrown into a world of science they didn’t understand.

Ever since Ms. Lacks first heard about her mother’s cells, she has been trying to understand how they could be alive decades after her death. So she got a notebook, a dictionary and a science book and began teaching herself about cells, one word at a time. ”A cell,” she wrote, ”is a minute portion of living substance.” She copied one definition after another. ”As long as the cell receives an adequate supply of food,” she wrote, ”it will continue to grow and thrive for the duration of its life cycle.” Not even Dr. Gey ever understood precisely why the life cycle of Ms. Lacks’s cancer cells has continued indefinitely.

Within a few years of learning about HeLa cells, the Lacks family began getting letters from researchers, asking them to donate blood so scientists could find genetic markers to help identify Henrietta’s cells. But Ms. Lacks remembers differently: ”It was a typed letter, stating we need samples of the Lacks family to check her blood cells with theirs, to see if anybody has the same thing that she had,” she said. Ms. Lacks was in her late 20’s and had always worried that she might die at 31, just like her mother. ”I cried and cried,” she recalled. ”I had my two children, they was babies at the time, and I said ‘O God, am I going to make it past 31?’ ” She dodged the researchers at first, because she didn’t want to know whether she had cancer. When she finally decided to take the tests, she thought she’d get a phone call telling her whether she was going to live or die. She never heard back from the researchers and soon had the first of what would become several breakdowns.

Ms. Faden said: ”This could have been a very innocent misunderstanding. But this is why researchers have to be as straightforward as possible, because the expectation is that when a doctor wants to do something to you, it’s for your benefit. Physician-researchers need to make this clear by saying, ‘I’m not doing this to help you, I’m doing it to advance science.’ ” Bobbette Lacks, Henrietta Lacks’s daughter-in-law, says that if researchers had told them about HeLa cells, then informed them of future research, her family would have cooperated. But not now. ”I would never subject my kids to that,” Bobbette Lacks said. This year, the 50th anniversary of Henrietta Lacks’s death, some scientists wanted to honor her contribution. The National Foundation for Cancer Research had invited Deborah Lacks onstage to thank her for her mother’s cells. But the conference had been scheduled for Sept. 13 and was canceled after the terrorist attacks. So for now, Ms. Lacks is back to learning about her mother on her own. Until Ms. Lacks looked into that freezer filled with vials earlier this year, she had only read about her mother’s cells; she had never seen them. Christoph Lengauer, the young cancer researcher who was showing her around his lab at John Hopkins Oncology Center, leaned over a microscope, focused it on a single HeLa cell and projected it onto a monitor. She stared in silence, eyes wide, then sighed. ”I was doing a little bit of studying on that DNA in my books,” she said, patting her purse filled with notes. Now she is in the process of signing up for basic courses at a local community center in Baltimore in the hope that they will lead her toward college. She is not sure what degree she will pursue, but she knows for sure what she will study: science.

ENDLESS SUPPLY
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-01/five-reasons-henrietta-lacks-most-important-woman-medical-history

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a poor woman with a middle-school education, made one of the greatest medical contributions ever. Her cells, taken from a cervical-cancer biopsy, became the first immortal human cell line—the cells reproduce infinitely in a lab. Although other immortal lines have since been established, Lacks’s “HeLa” cells are the standard in labs around the world. Together they outweigh 100 Empire State Buildings and could circle the equator three times. This month, PopSci contributor Rebecca Skloot’s book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, tells the story behind the woman who revolutionized modern medicine. Here, five reasons we should all thank Henrietta Lacks:
1. Before HeLa cells, scientists spent more time trying to keep cells alive than performing actual research on the cells. An endless supply of HeLa cells freed up time for discovery.
2. In 1952, the worst year of the polio epidemic, HeLa cells were used to test the vaccine that protected millions.
3. Some cells in Lacks’s tissue sample behaved differently than others. Scientists learned to isolate one specific cell, multiply it, and start a cell line. Isolating one cell and keeping it alive is the basic technique for cloning and in-vitro fertilization.
4. A scientist accidentally poured a chemical on a HeLa cell that spread out its tangled chromosomes. Later on, scientists used this technique to determine that humans have 46 chromosomes—23 pairs—not 48, which provided the basis for making several types of genetic diagnoses.
5. It was discovered that Lacks’s cancerous cells used an enzyme called telomerase to repair their DNA, allowing them, and other types of cancer cells, to function when normal cells would have died. Anti-cancer drugs that work against this enzyme are currently in early clinical trials.


HeLa isn’t the only cell line in use today. Thousands have found their way into labs worldwide. Above are some commonly used lines and the number of scientific papers they appear in.

AVAILABLE IN BULK
http://www.atcc.org/
http://www.biocompare.com/ProductListings/18758/HeLa-Cells.html
http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/C/CancerCellsInCulture.html
http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/M/Media.html#Ham’s_Medium
http://ems3.intellor.com/index.cgi?c=105&t=13&s=corningweb
http://ems3.intellor.com/index.cgi?c=105&t=13&s=corningweb

Hela
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123232331
excerpt from ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’
by Rebecca Skloot / 2010

There’s a photo on my wall of a woman I’ve never met, its left corner torn and patched together with tape. She looks straight into the camera and smiles, hands on hips, dress suit neatly pressed, lips painted deep red. It’s the late 1940s and she hasn’t yet reached the age of thirty. Her light brown skin is smooth, her eyes still young and playful, oblivious to the tumor growing inside her — a tumor that would leave her five children motherless and change the future of medicine. Beneath the photo, a caption says her name is “Henrietta Lacks, Helen Lane or Helen Larson.” No one knows who took that picture, but it’s appeared hundreds of times in magazines and science textbooks, on blogs and laboratory walls. She’s usually identified as Helen Lane, but often she has no name at all. She’s simply called HeLa, the code name given to the world’s first immortal human cells — her cells, cut from her cervix just months before she died. Her real name is Henrietta Lacks.

I’ve spent years staring at that photo, wondering what kind of life she led, what happened to her children, and what she’d think about cells from her cervix living on forever —bought, sold, packaged, and shipped by the trillions to laboratories around the world. I’ve tried to imagine how she’d feel knowing that her cells went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to human cells in zero gravity, or that they helped with some of the most important advances in medicine: the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization. I’m pretty sure that she — like most of us — would be shocked to hear that there are trillions more of her cells growing in laboratories now than there ever were in her body.

There’s no way of knowing exactly how many of Henrietta’s cells are alive today. One scientist estimates that if you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons — an inconceivable number, given that an individual cell weighs almost nothing. Another scientist calculated that if you could lay all HeLa cells ever grown end-to-end, they’d wrap around the Earth at least three times, spanning more than 350 million feet. In her prime, Henrietta herself stood only a bit over five feet tall.

I first learned about HeLa cells and the woman behind them in 1988, thirty-seven years after her death, when I was sixteen and sitting in a community college biology class. My instructor, Donald Defler, a gnomish balding man, paced at the front of the lecture hall and flipped on an overhead projector. He pointed to two diagrams that appeared on the wall behind him. They were schematics of the cell reproduction cycle, but to me they just looked like a neon-colored mess of arrows, squares, and circles with words I didn’t understand, like “MPF Triggering a Chain Reaction of Protein Activations.”

I was a kid who’d failed freshman year at the regular public high school because she never showed up. I’d transferred to an alternative school that offered dream studies instead of biology, so I was taking Defler’s class for high-school credit, which meant that I was sitting in a college lecture hall at sixteen with words like mitosis and kinase inhibitors flying around. I was completely lost. “Do we have to memorize everything on those diagrams?” one student yelled. Yes, Defler said, we had to memorize the diagrams, and yes, they’d be on the test, but that didn’t matter right then. What he wanted us to understand was that cells are amazing things: There are about one hundred trillion of them in our bodies, each so small that several thousand could fit on the period at the end of this sentence. They make up all our tissues — muscle, bone, blood — which in turn make up our organs.

Under the microscope, a cell looks a lot like a fried egg: It has a white (the cytoplasm) that’s full of water and proteins to keep it fed, and a yolk (the nucleus) that holds all the genetic information that makes you you. The cytoplasm buzzes like a New York City street. It’s crammed full of molecules and vessels endlessly shuttling enzymes and sugars from one part of the cell to another, pumping water, nutrients, and oxygen in and out of the cell. All the while, little cytoplasmic factories work 24/7, cranking out sugars, fats, proteins, and energy to keep the whole thing running and feed the nucleus. The nucleus is the brains of the operation; inside every nucleus within each cell in your body, there’s an identical copy of your entire genome. That genome tells cells when to grow and divide and makes sure they do their jobs, whether that’s controlling your heartbeat or helping your brain understand the words on this page.

Defler paced the front of the classroom telling us how mitosis — the process of cell division — makes it possible for embryos to grow into babies, and for our bodies to create new cells for healing wounds or replenishing blood we’ve lost. It was beautiful, he said, like a perfectly choreographed dance. All it takes is one small mistake anywhere in the division process for cells to start growing out of control, he told us. Just one enzyme misfiring, just one wrong protein activation, and you could have cancer. Mitosis goes haywire, which is how it spreads. “We learned that by studying cancer cells in culture,” Defler said. He grinned and spun to face the board, where he wrote two words in enormous print: HENRIETTA LACKS.

Henrietta died in 1951 from a vicious case of cervical cancer, he told us. But before she died, a surgeon took samples of her tumor and put them in a petri dish. Scientists had been trying to keep human cells alive in culture for decades, but they all eventually died. Henrietta’s were different: they reproduced an entire generation every twenty-four hours, and they never stopped. They became the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory. “Henrietta’s cells have now been living outside her body far longer than they ever lived inside it,” Defler said. If we went to almost any cell culture lab in the world and opened its freezers, he told us, we’d probably find millions — if not billions — of Henrietta’s cells in small vials on ice.

Her cells were part of research into the genes that cause cancer and those that suppress it; they helped develop drugs for treating herpes, leukemia, influenza, hemophilia, and Parkinson’s disease; and they’ve been used to study lactose digestion, sexually transmitted diseases, appendicitis, human longevity, mosquito mating, and the negative cellular effects of working in sewers. Their chromosomes and proteins have been studied with such detail and precision that scientists know their every quirk. Like guinea pigs and mice, Henrietta’s cells have become the standard laboratory workhorse. “HeLa cells were one of the most important things that happened to medicine in the last hundred years,” Defler said.

Then, matter-of-factly, almost as an afterthought, he said, “She was a black woman.” He erased her name in one fast swipe and blew the chalk from his hands. Class was over. As the other students filed out of the room, I sat thinking, That’s it? That’s all we get? There has to be more to the story. I followed Defler to his office. “Where was she from?” I asked. “Did she know how important her cells were? Did she have any children?”

“I wish I could tell you,” he said, “but no one knows anything about her.” After class, I ran home and threw myself onto my bed with my biology textbook. I looked up “cell culture” in the index, and there she was, a small parenthetical: “In culture, cancer cells can go on dividing indefinitely, if they have a continual supply of nutrients, and thus are said to be “immortal.” A striking example is a cell line that has been reproducing in culture since 1951. (Cells of this line are called HeLa cells because their original source was a tumor removed from a woman named Henrietta Lacks.)” That was it. I looked up HeLa in my parents’ encyclopedia, then my dictionary: No Henrietta.

The Way of All Flesh, by Adam Curtis

As I graduated from high school and worked my way through college toward a biology degree, HeLa cells were omnipresent. I heard about them in histology, neurology, pathology; I used them in experiments on how neighboring cells communicate. But after Mr. Defler, no one mentioned Henrietta. When I got my first computer in the mid-nineties and started using the Internet, I searched for information about her, but found only confused snippets: most sites said her name was Helen Lane; some said she died in the thirties; others said the forties, fifties, or even sixties. Some said ovarian cancer killed her, others said breast or cervical cancer.

Eventually I tracked down a few magazine articles about her from the seventies. Ebony quoted Henrietta’s husband saying, “All I remember is that she had this disease, and right after she died they called me in the office wanting to get my permission to take a sample of some kind. I decided not to let them.” Jet said the family was angry — angry that Henrietta’s cells were being sold for twenty-five dollars a vial, and angry that articles had been published about the cells without their knowledge. It said, “Pounding in the back of their heads was a gnawing feeling that science and the press had taken advantage of them.”

The articles all ran photos of Henrietta’s family: her oldest son sitting at his dining room table in Baltimore, looking at a genetics textbook. Her middle son in military uniform, smiling and holding a baby. But one picture stood out more than any other: in it, Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah Lacks, is surrounded by family, everyone smiling, arms around each other, eyes bright and excited. Except Deborah. She stands in the foreground looking alone, almost as if someone pasted her into the photo after the fact. She’s twenty-six years old and beautiful, with short brown hair and catlike eyes. But those eyes glare at the camera, hard and serious. The caption said the family had found out just a few months earlier that Henrietta’s cells were still alive, yet at that point she’d been dead for twenty-five years.

All of the stories mentioned that scientists had begun doing research on Henrietta’s children, but the Lackses didn’t seem to know what that research was for. They said they were being tested to see if they had the cancer that killed Henrietta, but according to the reporters, scientists were studying the Lacks family to learn more about Henrietta’s cells. The stories quoted her son Lawrence, who wanted to know if the immortality of his mother’s cells meant that he might live forever too. But one member of the family remained voiceless: Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah.

As I worked my way through graduate school studying writing, I became fixated on the idea of someday telling Henrietta’s story. At one point I even called directory assistance in Baltimore looking for Henrietta’s husband, David Lacks, but he wasn’t listed. I had the idea that I’d write a book that was a biography of both the cells and the woman they came from — someone’s daughter, wife, and mother.

I couldn’t have imagined it then, but that phone call would mark the beginning of a decadelong adventure through scientific laboratories, hospitals, and mental institutions, with a cast of characters that would include Nobel laureates, grocery store clerks, convicted felons, and a professional con artist. While trying to make sense of the history of cell culture and the complicated ethical debate surrounding the use of human tissues in research, I’d be accused of conspiracy and slammed into a wall both physically and metaphorically, and I’d eventually find myself on the receiving end of something that looked a lot like an exorcism. I did eventually meet Deborah, who would turn out to be one of the strongest and most resilient women I’d ever known. We’d form a deep personal bond, and slowly, without realizing it, I’d become a character in her story, and she in mine.

Deborah and I came from very different cultures: I grew up white and agnostic in the Pacific Northwest, my roots half New York Jew and half Midwestern Protestant; Deborah was a deeply religious black Christian from the South. I tended to leave the room when religion came up in conversation because it made me uncomfortable; Deborah’s family tended toward preaching, faith healings, and sometimes voodoo. She grew up in a black neighborhood that was one of the poorest and most dangerous in the country; I grew up in a safe, quiet middle-class neighborhood in a predominantly white city and went to high school with a total of two black students. I was a science journalist who referred to all things supernatural as “woo-woo stuff”; Deborah believed Henrietta’s spirit lived on in her cells, controlling the life of anyone who crossed its paths. Including me.

“How else do you explain why your science teacher knew her real name when everyone else called her Helen Lane?” Deborah would say. “She was trying to get your attention.” This thinking would apply to everything in my life: when I married while writing this book, it was because Henrietta wanted someone to take care of me while I worked. When I divorced, it was because she’d decided he was getting in the way of the book. When an editor who insisted I take the Lacks family out of the book was injured in a mysterious accident, Deborah said that’s what happens when you piss Henrietta off.

The Lackses challenged everything I thought I knew about faith, science, journalism, and race. Ultimately, this book is the result. It’s not only the story of HeLa cells and Henrietta Lacks, but of Henrietta’s family — particularly Deborah — and their lifelong struggle to make peace with the existence of those cells, and the science that made them possible.

SOME JURASSIC PARK SHIT
http://rebeccaskloot.com/the-immortal-life/excerpt/
BY Rebecca Skloot / 2010

Deborah grabbed her bag off the floor, and dumped its contents onto the bed. “This is what I got about my mother,” she said. There were videotapes, a tattered English dictionary, a diary, a genetics textbook, many scientific journal articles, patent records, and unsent greeting cards, including several birthday and Mother’s Day cards she’d bought for Henrietta. While she sorted through the pile, as though she was saying something as everyday as It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, Deborah said, “Scientists do all kinds of experiments and you never know what they doin. I still wonder how many people they got in London walkin around look just like my mother.”

“What?” I said. “Why would there be women in London who look like your mother?” “They did that cloning on my mother over there,” she said, surprised I hadn’t come across that fact in my research. “A reporter came here from England talking about they cloned a sheep. Now you go on the Internet, they got stuff about cloning my mother all over.” She held up an article from the Independent in London and pointed at a circled paragraph: “Henrietta Lacks’s cells thrived. In weight, they now far surpassed the person of their origin and there would probably be more than sufficient to populate a village of Henriettas.” The writer joked that Henrietta should have put ten dollars in the bank in 1951, because if she had, her clones would be rich now. Deborah raised her eyebrows at me like, See? I told you!

I started saying it was just Henrietta’s cells scientists had cloned, not Henrietta herself. But Deborah waved her hand in my face, shushing me like I was talking nonsense, then grabbed a videocassette and held it up for me to see. It said Jurassic Park on the spine. “I saw this movie a bunch of times,” she said. “They talking about the genes and taking them from cells to bring that dinosaur back to life and I’m like, Oh Lord, I got a paper on how they were doin that with my mother’s cells too! “I don’t know what I’d do if I saw one of my mother clones walkin around somewhere.”

Deborah realized Jurassic Park was science fiction, but for her the line between sci-fi and reality had blurred years earlier, when her father got that first call saying Henrietta’s cells were still alive twenty-five years after her death. Deborah knew her mother’s cells had grown like the Blob until there were so many of them they could wrap around the Earth several times. It sounded crazy, but it was true. “You just never know,” Deborah said, fishing two more articles from the pile. One was called Human, Plant Cells Fused: Walking Carrots Next? The other was Man-Animal Cells Bred in Lab. Both were about her mother’s cells, and neither was science fiction. “I don’t know what they did,” Deborah said, “but it all sound like Jurassic Park to me.”


HeLa cells are cultured tumor cells isolated from cancer patient Henrietta Lacks in 1951. It is the first human cell to be kept in culture for long periods of time and is still used today.

CANCER DON’T STOP
http://m.discovermagazine.com/1992/dec/nolongerhuman171
by Lori Oliwenstein / December 1, 1992

Henrietta Lacks achieved a kind of immortality on February 9, 1951. On that day a sample of cancerous cells from her cervix was transferred to a culture dish, doused with nutrients, and left to grow. Lacks, a 30-year-old mother of four from Baltimore, had one of the most aggressive cervical cancers her doctors had ever seen, and the cells culled from her tumor grew avidly, doubling their number each day. Then they escaped. Small spills are always happening in laboratories; what distinguished Lacks’s cells was their ability to survive after they were somehow spilled. They were so hardy that if just one of them fell on a petri dish it would outgrow and overwhelm anything else living on that dish within a month.

Soon Henrietta Lacks’s cells were traveling from lab to lab, either deliberately sent–many cancer researchers had taken to using them in their experiments–or as an unseen contaminant tagging along in another cell line. Some researchers who thought they were looking at something completely different–a line of liver cells, say–ended up studying Henrietta Lacks’s cervical cells by accident. The cells even slipped through the iron curtain and into Russia.

Lacks died in October 1951, but her peripatetic cells lived on. Now some biologists are saying that those cells, called HeLa cells for short, have lost more than their connection to Henrietta Lacks. HeLa cells, these researchers claim, are no longer human at all: they are single-celled microbes–closely related to us, to be sure, but their own distinct species. How so, you ask? HeLa cells are not connected in any way to people, explains evolutionary biologist Leigh Van Valen of the University of Chicago. They have an extremely different ecological niche from us. They don’t mate with humans; they probably don’t even mate with human cells. They act just like a normal microbial species. They are evolving separately from us, and having a separate evolution is really what a species is all about.

The process of evolution is much the same for HeLas as it is for humans, although the former usually reproduce asexually, by cell division. As the cells divide, genetic mutations inevitably occur, and the ones that make the cells better adapted to their ecological niche–the petri dish– are preserved by natural selection. When Henrietta Lacks’s cells first became cancerous, they also acquired the ability to survive indefinitely in a culture medium; that massive genetic transformation made them substantially different from ordinary human cells, and after four decades of evolution they have become more different still. Different strains of HeLa cells, analogous to different races of human beings, have even developed in some of the geographically separated lines.

These little unicellular organisms have crossed oceans, spread their range, got into other cultures and outcompeted them, says Richard Strathmann, a marine biologist at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories who dabbles in evolutionary theory. They’re only different from other single-celled organisms in that a human being gave rise to them. Strathmann and Van Valen (the latter with his colleague Virginia Maiorana) put forth these ideas separately, in two papers in the same issue of the journal Evolutionary Theory, which Van Valen edits. (Both papers, he points out, were independently reviewed before publication.) Van Valen and Maiorana not only declared that HeLa may not be Homo sapiens, they gave the new species a name: Helacyton gartleri–Hela, after the HeLa cells themselves; cyton, from the Greek cytos, meaning cavity or cell; and gartleri after geneticist Stanley Gartler, who was the first to document the cells’ remarkable success.

While Van Valen is willing to name the new species, he is unwilling to suggest which higher taxonomic category it might fall into. Beyond the family name there are problems, he says. Since a HeLa cell can’t survive outside a culture medium, it obviously isn’t a primate in the usual sense. At the same time, says Van Valen, you can’t call it a protist- -a member of the kingdom of all single-celled organisms, which includes bacteria, protozoans, algae, and fungi–since that would mean that the same group had evolved twice, once sometime before 3.5 billion years ago and again today. It’s a fundamental tenet of evolutionary theory that evolution doesn’t repeat itself.

But that’s exactly what has happened, says Strathmann. And to him, HeLa cells are just a particularly aggressive and successful example of an evolutionary transition that has happened numerous times recently. Many cancer cells, in becoming cancerous, undergo the same type of genetic transformation that Henrietta Lacks’s cells did and thereby acquire the potential to be immortal; and many different lines of these cells are now surviving in petri dishes all over the world. All of them, according to Strathmann, have made the huge evolutionary leap from being metazoans– multicellular creatures with organs and tissues–to being single-celled protists. What’s most amazing, he says, is how fast they did it: it took nearly 3 billion years for the first metazoans to evolve after life originated but just a handful of years for HeLa and other cell lines to take exactly the same step in the other direction.

If this modern-day transition from human being to unicellular blob sounds like far-out fiction to you, you’re not alone. Some biologists consider the survival of HeLa cells a purely artificial phenomenon and argue that evolution in a petri dish has little relevance to evolution in nature. Indeed, Strathmann’s paper was rejected by other journals for just that reason before Van Valen agreed to publish it along with his own. Van Valen and Strathmann, of course, reject that criticism. The perception is that if human beings are manipulating the situation, it’s not natural, says Strathmann. But biomedical researchers are part of nature.

Organisms live in all sorts of odd places, including ones humans have created, adds Van Valen. Parks and cities are environments that we created, and organisms have become adapted to them. Human beings have even created new species before, albeit not from their own flesh. Modern corn, for instance, is a product of selective breeding by generations of farmers, and like HeLa cells, it can’t survive without human help. If HeLa had not been derived from human tissue, Van Valen says, there would be no question about its being a new species.

CONTACT
Leigh Van Valen
http://pondside.uchicago.edu/ecol-evol/people/vanvalen.html
email : leigh [at] uchicago [dot] edu

NEW SPECIES? HELACYTON GARTLERI
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa#Helacyton_gartleri

“Due to their ability to replicate indefinitely, and their non-human number of chromosomes, HeLa was described by Leigh Van Valen as an example of the contemporary creation of a new species, Helacyton gartleri, named after Stanley M. Gartler, whom Van Valen credits with discovering “the remarkable success of this species.” His argument for speciation depends on three points:

  • The chromosomal incompatibility of HeLa cells with humans.
  • The ecological niche of HeLa cells.
  • Their ability to persist and expand well beyond the desires of human cultivators.

It should be noted that this definition has not been followed by others in the scientific community, nor, indeed, has it been widely noted. As far as proposing a new species for HeLa cells, Van Valen proposes in the same paper the new family Helacytidae and the genus Helacyton.[12]Recognition of Van Valen and Maiorana’s names, however, renders Homo and Hominidae paraphyletic because Helacyton gartleri is most closely related to Homo sapiens.

‘LAB WEEDS’
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_M._Gartler
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Nelson-Rees
http://www.nature.com/nrc/journal/v2/n4/box/nrc775_BX1.html
http://www.sunypress.edu/p-133-a-conspiracy-of-cells.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa#Contamination
“Because of their adaptation to growth in tissue culture plates, HeLa cells are sometimes difficult to control. They have proven to be a persistent laboratory “weed” that contaminates other cell cultures in the same laboratory, interfering with biological research and forcing researchers to declare many results invalid. The degree of HeLa cell contamination among other cell types is unknown because few researchers test the identity or purity of already-established cell lines. It has been demonstrated that a substantial fraction of in vitro cell lines — approximately 10%, maybe 20% — are contaminated with HeLa cells. Stanley Gartler in 1967 and Walter Nelson-Rees in 1975 were the first to publish on the contamination of various cell lines by HeLa. Science writer Michael Gold wrote about the HeLa cell contamination problem in his book A Conspiracy of Cells. He describes Nelson-Rees’s identification of this pervasive worldwide problem — affecting even the laboratories of the best physicians, scientists, and researchers, including Jonas Salk — and many, possibly career-ending, efforts to address it. According to Gold, the HeLa contamination problem almost led to a Cold War incident: The USSR and the USA had begun to cooperate in the war on cancer launched by President Richard Nixon only to find that the exchanged cells were contaminated by HeLa. Rather than focus on how to resolve the problem of HeLa cell contamination, many scientists and science writers continue to document this problem as simply a contamination issue — caused not by human error or shortcomings but by the hardiness, proliferating, or overpowering nature of HeLa. Recent data suggest that cross-contaminations are still a major ongoing problem with modern cell cultures.”


Henrietta Lacks rests today in an unmarked grave in the cemetery across the street from her family’s tobacco farm in Virginia. / photo by Rebecca Skloot

RELENTLESS
http://www.jhu.edu/~jhumag/0400web/01.html
by Rebecca Skloot / April 2000

Not long before her death, Henrietta Lacks danced. As the film rolled, her long thin face teased the camera, flashing a seductive grin as she moved, her eyes locked on the lens. She tilted her head back and raised her hands, waving them softly in the air before letting them fall to smooth her curlers. Then the film went blank. Henrietta danced in Turners Station, a small, segregated Baltimore community where she moved in 1943. She had come by train from a plantation town in Virginia, leaving her kin behind, most still picking tobacco long after freedom from slavery. As she sped toward Baltimore, at the age of 23, her husband, David Lacks, waited in their new brick house with a stove that burned gas instead of wood. Henrietta knew she was heading into a more modern world. What she didn’t know was that less than a decade later, after giving birth to her fifth child, her womb would give rise to a new age in medicine.

On February 1, 1951, under the cover of a solitary tree, David Lacks stared through the window of his parked car, watching the rain fall. He and his five children, three still in diapers, sat outside Hopkins Hospital, waiting for Henrietta. A few days earlier, she had found blood spotting her underwear. Now, Howard Jones, a Hopkins physician, found a smooth eggplant-hued tumor glistening under the light on Henrietta’s cervix. He touched its surface, shocked by its supple texture, and Henrietta bled. Jones carefully cut a section of her quarter-sized tumor, sent it to the lab for a diagnosis, and sent Henrietta home with her family. Then came the news: the tumor was malignant.

Henrietta returned to Hopkins eight days later. While David and the children waited under the tree, physicians covered her cervix with radium in an attempt to kill the cancer. But before applying the first treatment, a young resident took one more sample. This one went to George Gey, head of tissue culture research at Hopkins. He and his wife, Margaret, had been searching for a tool for the study of cancer: a line of human cells that would live indefinitely outside the body. If they succeeded, they could observe and test human cells in ways they could never do in humans. Eventually, they could discover the cure for cancer. They were sure of it. After two decades of failure in their laboratory attempts, the Geys turned their attention to cervical cells, at the request of Richard TeLinde, then Hopkins chairman of Gynecology. TeLinde wanted cervical cells for his own research; the Geys wanted any cancer cells they could get. The day George Gey got his hands on Henrietta Lacks’s cells, everything changed. For the Geys, for medicine, and eventually for the Lackses.

Henrietta Lacks’s cells multiplied like nothing anyone had seen. They latched to the sides of test tubes, consumed the medium around them, and within days, the thin film of cells grew thicker and thicker. But Henrietta’s tumor cells took over her body as quickly as they’d taken over test tubes. Within months, tumors appeared on almost every organ, and Henrietta moaned from her bed for the Lord to help her. The day she died, October 4, 1951, George Gey appeared on national television with a vial of Henrietta’s cells. He called them HeLa cells, held them up to the camera, and said, “It is possible that, from a fundamental study such as this, we will be able to learn a way by which cancer can be completely wiped out.” Gey introduced the nation to his hopes for curing cancer while Henrietta’s body lay in the Hopkins morgue, her toenails shining with a fresh coat of red polish. And her family knew nothing of any cells.

As a train carrying Henrietta’s casket rolled back toward Virginia, her cells shocked Gey with their strength. The local undertaker met Henrietta’s body at the station where, less than a decade earlier, she had boarded her train to Baltimore. He buried her in an unmarked grave across the street from her family’s tobacco field, behind the house where her mother was born. But in the Lacks family cemetery, where cattle roam freely when the season’s right, folks today don’t know much about HeLa. They don’t know that soon after Henrietta’s death in 1951, Gey and his colleagues used her cells to grow the polio virus that was ravaging children throughout the world.

“It was Henrietta Lacks’s cells that embraced the polio virus,” says Roland Pattillo, a former fellow of Gey’s, who is now director of gynecologic oncology at Morehouse School of Medicine. “She made it possible to grow the virus so the vaccine could be developed.” That was just the beginning. Gey and his colleagues went on to develop a test, using HeLa cells, to distinguish between the many polio strains, some of which had no effect on the human body. Until researchers knew which strain produced polio’s crippling effects, they couldn’t know what they were fighting. Through Henrietta’s cells, they found their culprit. With this information, Jonas Salk and his colleagues in Pittsburgh created a vaccine, and the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis established facilities for mass-producing the HeLa cells. They would use them to test the polio vaccine before its use in humans. In the meantime, Gey shared his resources.

Packaged in small tubes tucked in plastic foam containers, with careful instructions for feeding and handling, shipments of Henrietta’s cells went out to Gey’s colleagues around the world. . . to Minnesota, New York, Chile, Russia. . .the list goes on. Researchers welcomed the gifts, allowing HeLa to grow. They used the cells to search for a leukemia cure and the cause of cancer, to study viral growth, protein synthesis, genetic control mechanisms, and the unknown effects of drugs and radiation. And though Henrietta never traveled farther than from Virginia to Baltimore, her cells sat in nuclear test sites from America to Japan and multiplied in a space shuttle far above the Earth. Still, David Lacks and his children hadn’t a clue.

“The [only thing] I heard about it was, she had that cancer,” David Lacks says. “They called me, said come up there because she died. They asked me to let them take samples, and I decided not to let them do it.” But the researchers told Lacks they could use his wife’s cells to study cancer. Something that might strike his family again someday. Their studies might someday help his children and his grandchildren. Lacks was skeptical. But, he thought, if they want to see how my wife’s cancer might affect our children, and get ready to treat them if they get sick, I guess that might be okay. “My cousins said it wouldn’t hurt, so eventually I let them do it. The [doctors said] it was the fastest growing cancer they’d ever known, and they were supposed to tell me about it, to let me know, but I never did hear.”

He didn’t hear, that is, until a hazy day in 1975, 24 years after Henrietta’s death, when his daughter-in-law went to a friend’s house for dinner. In a two-story brown-brick townhouse in Baltimore, five doors down from her home, Barbara Lacks, the wife of Henrietta’s eldest son, Lawrence, sat down for dinner at her friend Jasmine’s house. The two women had been friends for years, but Barbara had never met Jasmine’s sister or brother-in-law, who came all the way from D.C. for dinner. They gathered around the mahogany table, surrounded by plants and soft light, and Jackson, Jasmine’s brother-in-law, looked across the table at Barbara. “You know,” he said, “your name sounds so familiar.” Jackson was a scientist who spent his days in a Washington laboratory. “I think I know what it is. . .I’ve been working with some cells in my lab; they’re from a woman called Henrietta Lacks. Are you related?”

“That’s my mother-in-law,” Barbara whispered, shaking her head. “She’s been dead almost 25 years, what do you mean you’re working with her cells?” Jackson explained. The cells, he told her, had been alive since Henrietta’s death and were all around the world. Actually, by that time, they were standard reference cells–few molecular scientists hadn’t worked with them. Barbara excused herself, thanking him, promising she would be in touch, and ran home to tell her husband what she’d heard. Your mother’s cells, she told him, they’re alive. Lawrence called his father who called his brothers and his sister. They just couldn’t understand. “The question I really had,” says Barbara, “the question I kept asking Jackson was, I wonder why they never mentioned anything to the family. They knew how to contact us.” But, since no one had called in the two decades after Henrietta’s death, instead of continuing to wonder, the Lacks family got on the phone and rang Hopkins themselves. And they did it at an opportune time. Henrietta’s cells, it turned out, had grown out of control. Some scientists thought her relatives were the only people who could help.

Henrietta’s cells were, and still are, some of the strongest cells known to science–they reproduce an entire generation every 24 hours. “If allowed to grow uninhibited,” Howard Jones and his Hopkins colleagues said in 1971, “[HeLa cells] would have taken over the world by this time.” This strength provided a research workhorse to irradiate, poison, and manipulate without inflicting harm; but it also meant research labs were only big enough for one culture: HeLa. Though it took three decades for the Geys to succeed with their efforts to create a human cell line, after their success with HeLa, culturing cells became suspiciously easy. Researchers cultivated tissue samples from their own bodies and the bodies of their families and patients. Most grew successfully. Sure, the samples struggled during the first few weeks, or even months, in culture, but then, suddenly, they flourished. Samples blossomed into full-blown healthy cell lines with the strength of, well, the HeLa cell.

In 1974, a researcher by the name of Walter Nelson-Rees started what everyone called a nasty rumor: HeLa cells, he claimed, had infiltrated the world’s stock of cell cultures. No one wanted to believe him. For almost three decades researchers had done complex experiments on what they thought were breast cells, prostate cells, or placental cells, and suddenly, rumor had it they’d been working with HeLa cells all along. To believe this would be to believe that years of work and millions of dollars had, in essence, been wasted. The truth was, Henrietta’s cells had traveled through the air, on hands, or the tips of pipettes, overpowering any cell cultures they encountered. And researchers had no idea. There was no way to know which cells were growing in the petri dish. And there was no universally accepted test for a cell culture’s identity. To accept or reject the theory that HeLa cells had taken over, researchers wanted more evidence. This required detailed information about the cells’ source. But they knew only the barest facts about Henrietta: She was black, she was a woman, and she was dead.

Though it may have been coincidence, soon after the Lacks children called Hopkins asking about their mother’s cells, letters appeared in their mailboxes. Several Hopkins researchers wondered, the letters said, if the Lacks family would be willing to donate some blood and tissue samples. Soon, a nurse circled Barbara Lacks’s narrow dining room table with needles, blood tubes, and slides, gathering samples from the Lackses. From these donations, researchers would find precious bits of information about Henrietta–like her blood type–that they could use in their attempts to study her cells. “[It was] an elegant piece of work,” Nelson-Rees told a reporter, “by simple Aristotelian class logic and pure applied genetics, you could speculate, to a remarkable extent, as to what Henrietta Lacks’s [genetic makeup] was.” And this is exactly what the researchers did. But if you ask the family, you’ll get a different story. “The doctors tested us to see what was in my mother’s system, was it hereditary,” recalls Henrietta’s son Sonny Lacks. “But that’s all they said. They never got in contact with us again. We contacted them a couple a times, but they said they’d get back at us, then after a while, we just got tired of calling, so everybody just let it go and went back with their lives.” But every now and then, they wonder if they have the gene that killed their mother.

This point of confusion between what the researchers intended to do with the samples and what the participants understood their intentions to be is only one of several elements of the Lackses’ story that points to important ethical questions. Some have yet to find answers. “There are at least two issues that cases like Mrs. Lacks’s raise,” says Ruth Faden, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Bioethics Institute and the Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics. “One is the question of consent, and the other is what, if anything, is morally or legally due to a person if something of commercial value is developed from their cells.”

In terms of informed consent, says Faden, “the Lackses’ story is a sad commentary on how the biomedical research community thought about research in the 1950s. But it was not at all uncommon for physicians to conduct research on patients without their knowledge or consent. That doesn’t make it right. It certainly wasn’t right. It was also unfortunately common.” Since the era when Henrietta walked through the doors of Hopkins, the field of biomedical ethics was born, and with it came regulations about informed consent. Patients now have something like a legal promise that no physician will take samples without permission. It’s the latter issue, the commodification of human body parts, which is still an extremely unsettled area of ethics and law in public policy. And for the Lackses, who don’t all have health insurance or the money to afford it, the issue of commercial value in this case is very unsettled. Unsettled, but with little recourse.

Since the development of the HeLa cells, there’s been an explosion of both scientific and commercial interest in the use of human tissues for research purposes, yet research subjects generally see none of the returns. “The amazing thing,” says Faden, “is that here we are, almost 50 years later, the capacity to develop commercial products from human tissues is dramatically greater now than it was then, and we still haven’t figured out how to handle it. . . . In terms of public policy, we’re real clear that you can’t buy and sell organs, that’s illegal. But you can sell blood. You can sell human eggs and sperm. But you can’t sell your kidney. And apparently, you can’t sell your cells, you give those away. So, nothing is very clear, and there are a lot of deep worries about putting price tags on the human body.” This is partially why the United States has recently launched a Presidential Bioethics Advisory Commission to address this and related issues.

To this day, members of the Lacks family feel they’ve been passed over in the story of the HeLa cells. They know their mother’s cells started a medical revolution and are now bought and sold around the world. They’re pretty sure that someone, somewhere, has profited from their mother’s death. They know that someone wasn’t related to Henrietta. And their experience is not well-known. In cases like these, Faden agrees, a good way to begin addressing this problem is through the telling of a story from which everyone can learn. This story starts with Henrietta and the origin of the HeLa cells: They were not from Helen Lane or Helen Larson, as many publications have mistakenly reported, they were from Henrietta Lacks, wife of David, mother of five.

aka HELEN LANE, aka HELEN LARSEN
http://www.oprah.com/world/Excerpt-From-The-Immortal-Life-of-Henrietta-Lacks_1
adapted from ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ by Rebecca Skloot / 2010

In 1951, at the age of 30, Henrietta Lacks, the descendant of freed slaves, was diagnosed with cervical cancer—a strangely aggressive type, unlike any her doctor had ever seen. He took a small tissue sample without her knowledge or consent. A scientist put that sample into a test tube, and, though Henrietta died eight months later, her cells—known worldwide as HeLa—are still alive today. They became the first immortal human cell line ever grown in culture and one of the most important tools in medicine: Research on HeLa was vital to the development of the polio vaccine, as well as drugs for treating herpes, leukemia, influenza, hemophilia, and Parkinson’s disease; it helped uncover the secrets of cancer and the effects of the atom bomb, and led to important advances like cloning, in vitro fertilization, and gene mapping. Since 2001 alone, five Nobel Prizes have been awarded for research involving HeLa cells.

There’s no way of knowing exactly how many of Henrietta’s cells are alive today. One scientist estimates that if you could pile all the HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—the equivalent of at least 100 Empire State Buildings.

Today, nearly 60 years after Henrietta’s death, her body lies in an unmarked grave in Clover, Virginia. But her cells are still among the most widely used in labs worldwide—bought and sold by the billions. Though those cells have done wonders for science, Henrietta—whose legacy involves the birth of bioethics and the grim history of experimentation on African-Americans—is all but forgotten.

On January 29, 1951, David Lacks sat behind the wheel of his old Buick, watching the rain fall. He was parked under a towering oak tree outside Johns Hopkins Hospital with three of his children—two still in diapers—waiting for their mother, Henrietta. A few minutes earlier she’d jumped out of the car, pulled her jacket over her head, and scurried into the hospital, past the “colored” bathroom, the only one she was allowed to use. In the next building, under an elegant domed copper roof, a ten-and-a-half-foot marble statue of Jesus stood, arms spread wide, holding court over what was once the main entrance of Hopkins. No one in Henrietta’s family ever saw a Hopkins doctor without visiting the Jesus statue, laying flowers at his feet, saying a prayer, and rubbing his big toe for good luck. But that day Henrietta didn’t stop.

She went straight to the waiting room of the gynecology clinic, a wide-open space, empty but for rows of long, straight-backed benches that looked like church pews. “I got a knot on my womb,” she told the receptionist. “The doctor need to have a look.” For more than a year Henrietta had been telling her closest girlfriends that something didn’t feel right. One night after dinner, she sat on her bed with her cousins Margaret and Sadie and told them, “I got a knot inside me.”

“A what?” Sadie asked. “A knot,” she said. “It hurt somethin’ awful—when that man want to get with me, Sweet Jesus aren’t them but some pains.” When sex first started hurting, she thought it had something to do with baby Deborah, who she’d just given birth to a few weeks earlier, or the bad blood David sometimes brought home after nights with other women—the kind doctors treated with shots of penicillin and heavy metals.

About a week after telling her cousins she thought something was wrong, at the age of 29, Henrietta turned up pregnant with Joe, her fifth child. Sadie and Margaret told Henrietta that the pain probably had something to do with a baby after all. But Henrietta still said no. “It was there before the baby,” she told them. “It’s somethin’ else.” They all stopped talking about the knot, and no one told Henrietta’s husband anything about it. Then, four and a half months after baby Joseph was born, Henrietta went to the bathroom and found blood spotting her underwear when it wasn’t her time of the month.

She filled her bathtub, lowered herself into the warm water, and slowly spread her legs. With the door closed to her children, husband, and cousins, Henrietta slid a finger inside herself and rubbed it across her cervix until she found what she somehow knew she’d find: a hard lump, deep inside, as though someone had lodged a marble the size of her pinkie tip just to the left of the opening to her womb.

Henrietta climbed out of the bathtub, dried herself off, and dressed. Then she told her husband, “You better take me to the doctor. I’m bleeding and it ain’t my time.” Her local doctor took one look inside her, saw the lump, and figured it was a sore from syphilis. But the lump tested negative for syphilis, so he told Henrietta she’d better go to the Johns Hopkins gynecology clinic.

The public wards at Hopkins were filled with patients, most of them black and unable to pay their medical bills. David drove Henrietta nearly 20 miles to get there, not because they preferred it, but because it was the only major hospital for miles that treated black patients. This was the era of Jim Crow—when black people showed up at white-only hospitals, the staff was likely to send them away, even if it meant they might die in the parking lot.

When the nurse called Henrietta from the waiting room, she led her through a single door to a colored-only exam room—one in a long row of rooms divided by clear glass walls that let nurses see from one to the next. Henrietta undressed, wrapped herself in a starched white hospital gown, and lay down on a wooden exam table, waiting for Howard Jones, the gynecologist on duty. When Jones walked into the room, Henrietta told him about the lump. Before examining her, he flipped through her chart:

Breathing difficult since childhood due to recurrent throat infections and deviated septum in patient’s nose. Physician recommended surgical repair. Patient declined. Patient had one toothache for nearly five years. Only anxiety is oldest daughter who is epileptic and can’t talk. Happy household. Well nourished, cooperative. Unexplained vaginal bleeding and blood in urine during last two pregnancies; physician recommended sickle cell test. Patient declined. Been with husband since age 14 and has no liking for sexual intercourse. Patient has asymptomatic neurosyphilis but canceled syphilis treatments, said she felt fine. Two months prior to current visit, after delivery of fifth child, patient had significant blood in urine. Tests showed areas of increased cellular activity in the cervix. Physician recommended diagnostics and referred to specialist for ruling out infection or cancer. Patient canceled appointment. It was no surprise that she hadn’t come back all those times for follow-up. For Henrietta, walking into Hopkins was like entering a foreign country where she didn’t speak the language. She knew about harvesting tobacco and butchering a pig, but she’d never heard the words cervix orbiopsy. She didn’t read or write much, and she hadn’t studied science in school. She, like most black patients, only went to Hopkins when she thought she had no choice.

Henrietta lay back on the table, feet pressed hard in stirrups as she stared at the ceiling. And sure enough, Jones found a lump exactly where she’d said he would. If her cervix was a clock’s face, the lump was at 4 o’clock. He’d seen easily a thousand cervical cancer lesions, but never anything like this: shiny and purple (like “grape Jello,” he wrote later), and so delicate it bled at the slightest touch. Jones cut a small sample and sent it to the pathology lab down the hall for a diagnosis. Then he told Henrietta to go home.

Soon after, Howard Jones dictated notes about Henrietta and her diagnosis: “Her history is interesting in that she had a term delivery here at this hospital, September 19, 1950,” he said. “No note is made in the history at that time or at the six weeks’ return visit that there is any abnormality of the cervix.” Yet here she was, three months later, with a full-fledged tumor. Either her doctors had missed it during her last exams—which seemed impossible—or it had grown at a terrifying rate.

Henrietta Lacks was born Loretta Pleasant in Roanoke, Virginia, on August 1, 1920. No one knows how she became Henrietta. A midwife named Fannie delivered her in a small shack on a dead-end road overlooking a train depot, where hundreds of freight cars came and went each day. Henrietta shared that house with her parents and eight older siblings until 1924, when her mother, Eliza Lacks Pleasant, died giving birth to her tenth child.

Henrietta’s father, Johnny Pleasant, was a squat man who hobbled around on a cane he often hit people with. Johnny didn’t have the patience for raising children, so when Eliza died, he took them all back to Clover, Virginia, where his family still farmed the tobacco fields their ancestors had worked as slaves. No one in Clover could take all ten children, so relatives divided them up—one with this cousin, one with that aunt. Henrietta ended up with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks.

Tommy lived in what everyone called the home-house, a four-room wooden cabin that once served as slave quarters, with plank floors, gas lanterns, and water Henrietta hauled up a long hill from the creek. The home-house stood on a hillside where wind whipped through cracks in the walls. The air inside stayed so cool that when relatives died, the family kept their corpses in the front hallway for days so people could visit and pay respects. Then they buried them in the cemetery out back.

Henrietta’s grandfather was already raising another grandchild that one of his daughters left behind after delivering him on the home-house floor. That child’s name was David Lacks, but everyone called him Day, because in the Lacks country drawl, house sounds like hyse, and David sounds like Day. No one could have guessed Henrietta would spend the rest of her life with Day—first as a cousin growing up in their grandfather’s home, then as his wife.

Like most young Lackses, Day didn’t finish school: He stopped in the fourth grade because the family needed him to work the tobacco fields. But Henrietta stayed until the sixth grade. During the school year, after taking care of the garden and livestock each morning, she’d walk two miles—past the white school where children threw rocks and taunted her—to the colored school, a three-room wooden farmhouse hidden under tall shade trees.

At nightfall the Lacks cousins built fires with pieces of old shoes to keep the mosquitoes away, and watched the stars from beneath the big oak tree where they’d hung a rope to swing from. They played tag, ring-around-the-rosy, and hopscotch, and danced around the field singing until Grandpa Tommy yelled for everyone to go to bed.

Henrietta and Day had been sharing a bedroom since she was 4 and he was 9, so what happened next didn’t surprise anyone: They started having children together. Their son Lawrence was born just months after Henrietta’s 14th birthday; his sister, Lucile Elsie Pleasant, came along four years later. They were both born on the floor of the home-house like their father, grandmother, and grandfather before them. People wouldn’t use words like epilepsy, mental retardation, or neurosyphilis to describe Elsie’s condition until years later. To the folks in Clover, she was just simple. Touched.

Henrietta and Day married alone at their preacher’s house on April 10, 1941. She was 20; he was 25. They didn’t go on a honeymoon because there was too much work to do, and no money for travel. Henrietta and Day were lucky if they sold enough tobacco each season to feed the family and plant the next crop. So after their wedding, Day went back to gripping the splintered ends of his old wooden plow as Henrietta followed close behind, pushing a homemade wheelbarrow and dropping tobacco seedlings into holes in the freshly turned red dirt.

A few months later, Day moved north to Turner Station, a small black community outside Baltimore where he’d gotten a job working in a shipyard. Henrietta stayed behind to care for the children and the tobacco until Day made enough money for a house and three tickets north. Soon, with a child on each side, Henrietta boarded a coal-fueled train from the small wooden depot at the end of Clover’s Main Street. She left the tobacco fields of her youth and the hundred-year-old oak tree that shaded her from the sun on so many hot afternoons. At the age of 21, she stared through the train window at rolling hills and wide-open bodies of water for the first time, heading toward a new life. After her visit to Hopkins, Henrietta went back to her usual routine, cleaning and cooking for her husband, their children, and the many cousins she fed each day. Less than a week later, Jones got her biopsy results from the pathology lab: “epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix, Stage I.” Translation: cervical cancer.

Cervical carcinomas are divided into two types: invasive carcinomas, which have penetrated the surface of the cervix, and noninvasive carcinomas, which haven’t. The noninvasive type is sometimes called “sugar-icing carcinoma,” because it grows in a smooth layered sheet across the surface of the cervix, but its official name is carcinoma in situ, which derives from the Latin for “cancer in its original place.”

In 1951 most doctors in the field believed that invasive carcinoma was deadly, and carcinoma in situ wasn’t. So they hardly treated it. But Richard Wesley TeLinde, head of gynecology at Hopkins and one of the top cervical cancer experts in the country, disagreed—he believed carcinoma in situ was simply an early stage of invasive carcinoma that, left untreated, eventually became deadly. So he treated it aggressively, often removing the cervix, uterus, and most of the vagina. He argued that this would drastically reduce cervical cancer deaths, but his critics called it extreme and unnecessary.

TeLinde thought that if he could find a way to grow living samples from normal cervical tissue and both types of cancerous tissue—something never done before—he could compare all three. If he could prove that carcinoma in situ and invasive carcinoma looked and behaved similarly in the laboratory, he could end the debate, showing that he’d been right all along, and doctors who ignored him were killing their patients. So he called George Gey (pronounced “guy”), head of tissue culture research at Hopkins.

Gey and his wife, Margaret, had spent the last three decades working to grow malignant cells outside the body, hoping to use them to find cancer’s cause and cure. But most of the cells died quickly, and the few that survived hardly grew at all. The Geys were determined to grow the first immortal human cells: a continuously dividing line of cells all descended from one original sample, cells that would constantly replenish themselves and never die. They didn’t care what kind of tissue they used, as long as it came from a person.

So when TeLinde offered Gey a supply of cervical cancer tissue in exchange for trying to grow some cells, Gey didn’t hesitate. And TeLinde began collecting samples from any woman who happened to walk into Hopkins with cervical cancer. Including Henrietta.

Jones called Henrietta on February 5, 1951, after getting her biopsy report back from the lab, and told her the tumor was malignant. Henrietta didn’t tell anyone what Jones said, and no one asked. She simply went on with her day as if nothing had happened, which was just like her—no sense upsetting anyone over something she could just deal with herself.

The next morning Henrietta climbed from the Buick outside Hopkins again, telling Day and the children not to worry. “Ain’t nothin’ serious wrong,” she said. “Doctor’s gonna fix me right up.” Henrietta went straight to the admissions desk and told the receptionist she was there for her treatment. Then she signed a form with the words operation permit at the top of the page. It said:

I hereby give consent to the staff of The Johns Hopkins Hospital to perform any operative procedures and under any anaesthetic either local or general that they may deem necessary in the proper surgical care and treatment of: ______________________________.

Henrietta printed her name in the blank space. A witness with illegible handwriting signed a line at the bottom of the form, and Henrietta signed another. Then she followed a nurse down a long hallway into the ward for colored women, where Howard Jones and several other white physicians ran more tests than she’d had in her entire life. They checked her urine, her blood, her lungs. They stuck tubes in her bladder and nose.

Henrietta’s tumor was the invasive type, and like hospitals nationwide, Hopkins treated all invasive cervical carcinomas with radium, a white radioactive metal that glows an eerie blue. So the morning of Henrietta’s first treatment, a taxi driver picked up a doctor’s bag filled with thin glass tubes of radium from a clinic across town. The tubes were tucked into individual slots inside small canvas pouches hand-sewn by a local Baltimore woman. One nurse placed the pouches on a stainless steel tray. Another wheeled Henrietta into the small colored-only operating room, with stainless steel tables, huge glaring lights, and an all-white medical staff dressed in white gowns, hats, masks, and gloves.

With Henrietta unconscious on the operating table in the center of the room, her feet in stirrups, the surgeon on duty, Lawrence Wharton Jr., sat on a stool between her legs. He peered inside Henrietta, dilated her cervix, and prepared to treat her tumor. But first—though no one had told Henrietta that TeLinde was collecting samples or asked if she wanted to be a donor—Wharton picked up a sharp knife and shaved two dime-size pieces of tissue from Henrietta’s cervix: one from her tumor, and one from the healthy cervical tissue nearby. Then he placed the samples in a glass dish.

Wharton slipped a tube filled with radium inside Henrietta’s cervix, and sewed it in place. He then sewed a pouch filled with radium to the outer surface of her cervix and packed another against it. He slid several rolls of gauze inside her vagina to help keep the radium in place, then threaded a catheter into her bladder so she could urinate without disturbing the treatment. When Wharton finished, a nurse wheeled Henrietta back into the ward, and a resident took the dish with the samples to Gey’s lab, as he’d done many times before. Gey still got excited at moments like this, but everyone else in his lab saw Henrietta’s sample as something tedious—the latest of what felt like countless samples that scientists and lab technicians had been trying and failing to grow for years. Gey’s 21-year-old assistant, Mary Kubicek, sat eating a tuna salad sandwich at a long stone culture bench that doubled as a break table. She and Margaret and the other women in the Gey lab spent many hours there, all in nearly identical cat’s-eye glasses with fat dark frames and thick lenses, their hair pulled back in tight buns. “I’m putting a new sample in your cubicle,” Gey told Mary.

She pretended not to notice. “Not again,” she thought, and kept eating her sandwich. Mary knew she shouldn’t wait—every moment those cells sat in the dish made it more likely they’d die. But they always died anyway. “Why bother?” she thought. At that point, there were many obstacles to growing cells successfully. For starters, no one knew exactly what nutrients they needed to survive or how best to supply them. But the biggest problem facing cell culture was contamination. Bacteria and a host of other microorganisms could find their way into cultures—from people’s unwashed hands, their breath, and dust particles floating through the air—and destroy them. Margaret Gey had been trained as a surgical nurse, which meant sterility was her specialty—it was key to preventing deadly infections in patients in the operating room.

Margaret patrolled the lab, arms crossed, leaning over technicians’ shoulders as they worked, inspecting glassware for spots or smudges. Mary followed Margaret’s sterilizing rules meticulously to avoid her wrath. Only then did she pick up the pieces of Henrietta’s cervix—forceps in one hand, scalpel in the other—and carefully slice them into one-millimeter squares. She sucked each square into a pipette, and dropped them one at a time onto chicken-blood clots she’d placed at the bottom of dozens of test tubes. She covered each clot with several drops of culture medium, plugged the tubes with rubber stoppers, and wrote “HeLa,” for Henrietta and Lacks, in big black letters on the side of each tube. Then she put them in an incubator.

For the next few days, Mary started each morning with her usual sterilization drill. She’d peer into all the incubating tubes, laughing to herself and thinking, “Nothing’s happening.” “Big surprise.” Then she saw what looked like little rings of fried egg white around the clots at the bottom of each tube. The cells were growing, but Mary didn’t think much of it—other cells had survived for a while in the lab. But Henrietta’s cells weren’t merely surviving—they were growing with mythological intensity. By the next morning, they’d doubled. Mary divided the contents of each tube in two, giving them room to grow, and soon she was dividing them into four tubes, then six. Henrietta’s cells grew to fill as much space as Mary gave them. Still, Gey wasn’t ready to celebrate. “The cells could die any minute,” he told Mary. But they didn’t. The cells kept growing like nothing anyone had seen, doubling their numbers every 24 hours, accumulating by the millions. “Spreading like crabgrass!” Margaret said. As long as they had food and warmth, Henrietta’s cancer cells seemed unstoppable. Soon, George told a few of his closest colleagues that he thought his lab might have grown the first immortal human cells. To which they replied, Can I have some? And George said yes.

the HENRIETTA LACKS FOUNDATION
http://rebeccaskloot.com/book-special-features/henrietta-lacks-foundation/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/42653706@N00/sets/72157623243930457/
http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=3426&p=1
The Life After Death of Henrietta Lacks
by Van Smith / 4.17.2002

In the 27 years since the Lacks family serendipitously learned of Henrietta’s unwitting contribution, little has been done to honor her. “Henrietta Lacks Day” is celebrated in Turner Station each year on Feb. 1. In 1996, prompted by Atlanta’s Morehouse College, that city’s mayor proclaimed Oct. 11 Henrietta Lacks Day. The following year, Congress passed a resolution in her memory sponsored by Rep. Robert Ehrlich (R-Md.), whose 2nd District includes Turner Station, and the British Broadcasting Corp. produced a documentary on her remarkable story. Beyond that, however, virtually nothing has been done to celebrate Lacks’ contribution–not even by Hopkins, which gained immeasurable prestige from Gey’s work with her cells.

Lacks-Pullum is bitter about this. “We never knew they took her cells, and people done got filthy rich [from HeLa-based research], but we don’t get a dime,” she says. The family can’t afford a reputable lawyer to press its case for some financial stake in the work. She says she has appealed to Hopkins for help, and “all they do is pat me on my shoulder and put me out the door.”

Hopkins spokesperson Gary Stephenson is quick to point out that Hopkins never sold HeLa, so it didn’t make money from Henrietta’s contribution. Still, he says, “there are people here who would like something done, and I’m hoping that at some point something will be done in a formal way to note her very, very important contribution.” Lacks-Pullum shares those hopes, but she is pessimistic. “Hopkins,” she says, “they don’t care.”

Lost in the acrimony over ethical and financial issues stemming from Henrietta Lacks’ cells, though, is Henrietta Lacks herself. A descendant of slaves and slaveholders, she grew up farming the same land on which her forebears toiled–and that her relatives still farm today. As part of an aspiring black middle class with rural roots, she left her childhood home to join a migration to Baltimore, where Bethlehem Steel was eager to hire hard workers from the country. She was in the midst of realizing an American dream when her life was cut short. And her cells helped realize society’s larger dreams for health and knowledge. As such, she’s been called a hero, a martyr, even a saint. But during her life, as Ehrlich said to his colleagues in Congress, Henrietta Lacks “was known as pleasant and smiling, and always willing the lend a helping hand.” That she did, in more ways than she ever knew.

Trying to find Henrietta Lacks’ grave is a lesson in irony. She is now a world-famous woman, yet her body rests in an unmarked plot in a family burial ground next to her childhood house, now long abandoned and close to falling down. No one, not even her relatives, knows precisely which grave plot is hers.

The search starts in Clover, Va., where Henrietta grew up farming tobacco on her family’s land. It’s a small town of about 200 people in a region southwest of Richmond known as Southside. The first stop–Clover Cemetery, on the outskirts of town–is fruitless; plenty of Lackses but no Henrietta. A quick visit to the post office yields a clue, offered with matter-of-fact bluntness by a man at the copy machine. “What did you say her name was? Henrietta Lacks? Was she black or white?” Hearing the answer, he continues: “The cemeteries you can see from the road, they’re mostly for whites. You got to go back off the road to get to the black cemetery. So go back up that road and make a right on Lacks Town Road. A lot of blacks live up there. You can’t see the cemetery from the road, so you’ll have to ask people. But someone up there should be able to help you.”

Lacks Town is not really a town but a tiny community of relatives living along a one-mile dead-end road. Trailers, shacks, old log homes, and a ranch house or two are surrounded by small plots of farmland, barns, and machinery, with woods filling in the gaps. It’s part of Clover, but Lacks Town clearly has a distinct identity. “They stick together down there,” a local woman from the other side of Clover explains later.

In short order, someone helps me out: Otis Ferrell Jr., a young man, probably in his 30s, who immediately recognizes the proffered name. “Oh, the lady with the cancer cells,” he exclaims. “Yeah, she’s buried up there.” Ferrell points to the top of a hill in a tree-cluttered cow pasture, gesturing toward two downed trees, clearly visible from the road, giant gray hulks lying on their sides next to a large rusty-roofed abandoned building. “That’s where they whupped the slaves,” he says candidly (though falsely, his elders later explain). “And one day the trees just came down. The cemetery is just past them and that old house. Yeah, she’s up there, but the grave’s unmarked. Uncle Clifton knows which one it is.”

Clifton Garrett is Henrietta Lacks’ cousin, now in his 80s. He lives nearby, about a quarter mile down from Lacks Town Road, and he’s burning the leaves in his yard while heating up the barbecue grill. “What, you going to build a memorial?” he retorts when asked if he knows which grave is Henrietta’s, in a tone that suggests it’s high time someone did. As smoke and embers billow around, he says he’s not exactly sure which grave is hers. “I know where her mother is buried,” he says. “She must be close by.”

Garrett gives a poignant tour of the land where Henrietta Lacks is buried. The property, he says, belonged to Tommy Lacks, who, along with his two brothers, was a patriarch of Clover’s African-American Lackses. Tommy was Henrietta’s grandfather, and he cared for her and her siblings after their mother died.

“Henrietta was raised up in that house, and her mother was born in it,” Garrett says as he strolls past the dilapidated building. “It’s called the Old Home House. It was built in slave times. Hadn’t nobody lived in this house in many years. Ain’t nobody to take care of it, and it just started falling down. But back then, they kept everything clean. When we was children, we played together here. There was a henhouse, an icehouse, a corn silo, a stable. But now there’s nothing left of anything.”

It’s hard to say how many ancestors are laid to rest in the burial ground; many of the graves are unmarked, and the sites have long been trampled by cows. “They knocked the rocks away when they came in and cleaned up with a bulldozer,” Garrett explains. “This was a big family,” he continues. “Everybody in this cemetery is related one way or another. When they die, they bring them here because this is the family cemetery.”

Henrietta’s mother, Eliza Pleasant, was buried here in 1924 after she died in Roanoke, Va., giving birth to her 10th child. “I remember when they brought her here,” Garrett says. “I was only about 2 or 3 years old, but I remember it. She had a coffin and they opened it, and a little light in the coffin came on. My memory’s good.”

Eliza’s husband, John Randall Pleasant, worked for the railroad in Roanoke, where Henrietta was born in 1920. When Eliza passed away, John moved their children back to the Old Home House to be raised by their grandfather, Tommy. Eliza’s grave has a headstone: eliza, wife of j.r. pleasant. jul 12, 1886.-oct. 28, 1924. gone but not forgotten. Indentations in the earth indicate five other unmarked graves in two rows behind the headstone. One of them is John’s. One of them is Henrietta’s. Neither Garrett nor any other family members I was able to find in Clover or in Baltimore knows which is which.

Clifton Garrett did know Henrietta, though, and remembers her fondly. “She was just an average child. A nice friendly girl and everything. That’s all I can tell you. We would play out in the yard, go to school.” Going to Clover School, which was for black children and offered instruction through seventh grade, meant a two-mile walk, taking shortcuts through fields, forests, and backyards–and right past Clover Elementary School, then white-only. Garrett still remembers the names of his teachers and the school’s principal, and that the principal’s son was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Henrietta helped on the farm until she went up to Baltimore,” Garrett says. That happened in 1943, a short while after her husband moved there for work for Beth Steel. Garrett moved north too, for a job at Beth Steel making nails in the wire mill. “After I got grown, then I went up there. A lot of people from around here did. There were company barracks to stay in, so we used to live in Sparrows Point until we moved to Turner Station. Henrietta’s husband, David, worked on the shipyard. He was a hard worker. And Henrietta, she was a nice lady. Nice as she could be. Very friendly. Very friendly, she was.”

The dredged-up memories lead Garrett to muse aloud, about how some part of his cousin still thrives. “Her cells are still living,” he says, gazing at the ground near her grave. He shakes his head. “She’s dead, but her cells are still living,” he says again, and then is silent.

Gary Lacks, Henrietta’s nephew, cares for his elderly mother, Gladys Lacks, in Lacks Town. Like many in Clover, he’s a religious man, which gives him a unique perspective on his aunt’s story. “I go back to the Book of Genesis when God created man,” he says, his voice quickly rising in a crescendo of fervor. “He created him to live forever, really, but man ate up what God told him he couldn’t eat, and a process of death took over his body. But the possibility was in man that he could live–and if he could live, then his parts could live.” In Gary Lacks’ eyes, his aunt’s immortal cells are realizing God’s original intent for the human race.

Roberta Brooks’ view of Henrietta is more down to earth. “I worked in the field with Henrietta and Tommy and most of the Lacks Town folks when I was young,” recalls Brooks, another relative who lives near Clover. “I used to hang around more at the Old Home House than at my own house. We’d walk six miles to play together. We used to play on the creek, be teenagers together. Singing, playing horseshoes and ball games, shucking corn. There was lots to do. Children today come home and watch TV, but we had everything to do.”

As Brooks’ contemporaries got older, many took jobs in Baltimore. “A bunch of them in Lacks Town were working at Sparrows Point,” she says. “They were good jobs, about the best jobs paying, and they hired you quick there. They’d stay at the barracks, work all week, then return back to Clover for the weekend. And a lot of them stayed–and are living there still.”

Then Brooks touches on a sensitive subject–how Clover’s black Lackses and white Lackses are related. “When you get over in Lacks Town, oh, you don’t know who’s who,” she says. “It’s a big screwed-up thing. All the white Lackses and all the black Lackses, they’re all the same people. We all came up like family together, worked together and everything. And nobody married. Had bunches of children here and there and never married. It’s how it is. It’s a mess. And it’s just so deep, you can’t separate it.” The family history informs Brooks’ perspective on race relations: “That why I say, we’re all just human beings. Not black, not white. Just human beings. So it’s all about respect. That’s it. Respect.”

Gladys Lacks suffered a stroke last year. Her mind and eyes are as clear as day, but she has difficulty communicating. When it comes to the family’s tangled history, though, her two words speak volumes. “Master Ben,” she says, and leaves it at that. Records at the Halifax County courthouse offer further explanation. Ben Lacks and Albert Lacks, who were white (and related, although the African-American Lackses no longer recall how), owned the land Henrietta’s family worked and her descendants work still. When her grandfather, Tommy, married in 1903, he listed his parents as “Albert and Maria.” Tommy’s brother, James Lacks, married twice; the first time, he lists “Ben and Maria” as his parents, but the second time his parents are listed as “Albert and Maria.” Both white Lacks willed land to their black children. Albert’s 1888 will gave 10 acres each “from what is known as the Home Tract” to Tommy, James, and their brother Peter; Ben’s will of 1907 gave more land to Tommy and James.

“All of them hooked up together. They’re kin,” says William Morton, Peter Lacks’ grandson. Morton lives near Clover, having moved back after several decades in Baltimore, working at Sparrows Point (“Practically all of these fellows around here worked on the Point,” he says) and later for Morgan State University. Although records do not indicate Peter’s parentage, Morton says his grandfather “got land because he was kin to the owners.” Among Clover’s Lackses, he says, echoing his cousin Roberta Brooks, “that’s just the way it is.”

In Deborah Lacks-Pullum’s estimation, her parent’s middle-class aspirations in coming to Baltimore were realized. “We weren’t poor,” she says. “We were living comfortably.” Henrietta held down the home on New Pittsburgh Avenue in Turner Station while her husband, David, earned decent wages at the shipyard. Folks from Clover, in town to start jobs on the Point, would stay over until they could find their own housing. Before he came to Baltimore, David Lacks “was the hardest working man in Clover, working 15 acres by himself,” Lacks-Pullum says. Once here, he and Henrietta enjoyed a sterling reputation in the community as gracious, generous people.

“The door was always open for new arrivals from Clover,” says Barbara Wyche, a Morgan State lecturer who has dedicated much time and effort to studying Henrietta Lacks. The link to the family’s Virginia roots stayed strong, Wyche says–“Henrietta went home every summer and farmed.” It’s still strong: Deborah Lacks-Pullum frequently visits relatives in Clover.

After Henrietta died, David Lacks raised the children–Lawrence, Elsie (who died at the age of 15, a few years after Henrietta passed away), David Jr., Deborah, and Zakariyya–by himself, just as Henrietta’s grandfather had done after his wife died. They remained a happy family, though they missed their mother.

The news that Henrietta’s cells had been taken and used for research without their knowledge, though, cast a cloud over the family. David Lacks, Henrietta’s husband, doesn’t even like to talk about it. “He’s tired of talking–it’s the same thing, over and over,” she says. By default, Lacks-Pullum has become the family spokesperson when it comes to Henrietta–and she herself is getting weary. “I’m just tired of my family getting walked over,” she says. “It hurts.”

Recognition has been slow in coming, but the future holds some promise. Rebecca Skloot, a Pittsburgh-based science writer, has spent the last three years researching and writing a comprehensive book, HeLa: The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks, that’s due to be published by Times Books next year. And Charlene Gilbert, a Washington, D.C.-based filmmaker, is hard at work on a documentary titled Colored Bodies: Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa Cells.

Back in Clover, Gary Lacks is roaming the Old Home House, trying to avoid the holes in the floorboards. He’s explaining how the house and the family burial ground have fallen into disrepair. “There’s no one to keep it up,” he says. “People only think about it when they come up here to bury someone, then they forget about it until the next time. They let the cows come in, and the cows keep it clean, keep the bushes down.”

It wouldn’t take much money to save the Old Home House, he says, and even less to keep up the cemetery, find Henrietta’s grave, give it a headstone. But people don’t have much money in Lacks Town. He hopes that with the attention generated by the book and the film–and with all the millions of dollars at Johns Hopkins’ disposal–resources will become available to give his aunt’s final resting place the honor it deserves. He’s hopeful, but he isn’t holding his breath.

PRE-INDUSTRIAL LAND-USE
http://www.detroitagriculture.org/GRP_Website/Grown_In_Detroit.html
http://www.greeningofdetroit.com/3_0_cool_projects.php
http://detroitblackfoodsecurity.org/policy.html
http://urbanfarming.org/homefarming.html

DOWNSIZING
http://www.aia.org/aiaucmp/groups/aia/documents/pdf/aiab080216.pdf
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/mar/09/detroit-looks-at-downsizing-to-save-city/
Detroit wants to save itself by shrinking
BY David Runk / Mar 8, 2010

Detroit, the very symbol of American industrial might for most of the 20th century, is drawing up a radical renewal plan that calls for turning large swaths of this now-blighted, rusted-out city back into the fields and farmland that existed before the automobile. Operating on a scale never before attempted in this country, the city would demolish houses in some of the most desolate sections of Detroit and move residents into stronger neighborhoods. Roughly a quarter of the 139-square-mile city could go from urban to semi-rural.

Near downtown, fruit trees and vegetable farms would replace neighborhoods that are an eerie landscape of empty buildings and vacant lots. Suburban commuters heading into the city center might pass through what looks like the countryside to get there. Surviving neighborhoods in the birthplace of the auto industry would become pockets in expanses of green. Detroit officials first raised the idea in the 1990s, when blight was spreading. Now, with the recession plunging the city deeper into ruin, a decision on how to move forward is approaching. Mayor Dave Bing, who took office last year, is expected to unveil some details in his state-of-the-city address this month. “Things that were unthinkable are now becoming thinkable,” said James W. Hughes, dean of the School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, who is among the urban experts watching the experiment with interest. “There is now a realization that past glories are never going to be recaptured. Some people probably don’t accept that, but that is the reality.”

The meaning of what is afoot is now settling in across the city. “People are afraid,” said Deborah L. Younger, past executive director of a group called Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation that is working to revitalize five areas of the city. “When you read that neighborhoods may no longer exist, that sends fear.” Though the will to downsize has arrived, the way to do it is unclear and fraught with problems. Politically explosive decisions must be made about which neighborhoods should be bulldozed and which improved. Hundreds of millions of federal dollars will be needed to buy land, raze buildings and relocate residents, since this financially desperate city does not have the means to do it on its own. It isn’t known how many people in the mostly black, blue-collar city might be uprooted, but it could be thousands. Some won’t go willingly. “I like the way things are right here,” said David Hardin, 60, whose bungalow is one of three occupied homes on a block with dozens of empty lots near what is commonly known as City Airport. He has lived there since 1976, when every home on the street was occupied, and said he enjoys the peace and quiet.

For much of the 20th century, Detroit was an industrial powerhouse – the city that put the nation on wheels. Factory workers lived in neighborhoods of simple single- and two-story homes and walked to work. But then the plants began to close one by one. The riots of 1967 accelerated an exodus of whites to the suburbs, and many middle-class blacks followed. Now, a city of nearly 2 million in the 1950s has declined to less than half that number. On some blocks, only one or two occupied houses remain, surrounded by trash-strewn lots and vacant, burned-out homes. Scavengers have stripped anything of value from empty buildings. According to one recent estimate, Detroit has 33,500 empty houses and 91,000 vacant residential lots.

Several other declining industrial cities, such as Youngstown, Ohio, have also accepted downsizing. Since 2005, Youngstown has been tearing down a few hundred houses a year. But Detroit’s plans dwarf that effort. The approximately 40 square miles of vacant property in Detroit is larger than the entire city of Youngstown. Faced with a $300 million budget deficit and a dwindling tax base, Bing argues that the city can’t continue to pay for police patrols, fire protection and other services for all areas. The current plan would demolish about 10,000 houses and empty buildings in three years and pump new investment into stronger neighborhoods. In the neighborhoods that would be cleared, the city would offer to relocate residents or buy them out. The city could use tax foreclosure to claim abandoned property and invoke eminent domain for those who refuse to leave, much as cities now do for freeway projects.

The mayor has begun lobbying Washington for support, and in January Detroit was awarded $40.8 million for renewal work. The federally funded Detroit Housing Commission supports Bing’s plan. “It takes a true partnership, because we don’t want to invest in a neighborhood that the city is not going to invest in,” said Eugene E. Jones, executive director of the commission. It is not known who might get the cleared land, but with prospects for recruiting industry slim, planners are considering agricultural uses. The city might offer larger tracts for sale or lease, or turn over smaller pieces to community organizations to use.

Maggie DeSantis, a board member of Community Development Advocates of Detroit, said she worries that shutting down neighborhoods without having new uses ready is a “recipe for disaster” that will invite crime and illegal dumping. The group recently proposed such things as the creation of suburban-style neighborhoods and nature parks. Residents like Hardin want to keep their neighborhoods and eliminate the blight. “We just try to keep it up,” he said. “I’ve been doing it since I got it, so I don’t look at nobody trying to help me do anything.” For others, Bing’s plans could represent a way out. Willie Mae Pickens has lived in her near east-side home since the 1960s and has watched as friends and neighbors left. Her house is the only one standing on her side of the street. “They can buy it today. Any day,” said Pickens, 87, referring to city officials. “I’ll get whatever they’ll give me for it, because I want to leave.”

MORE MODEST VIEW
http://www.detroitmi.gov/DepartmentsandAgencies/MayorsOffice/ContacttheMayor/tabid/1238/Default.aspx
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703503804575083781073108438.html
Mayor Uses Census Tally Showing Decline as Benchmark in Overhaul
BY Alex P. Kellogg / February 27, 2010

This city is shrinking, and Mayor Dave Bing can live with that. The nation’s once-a-decade census, which gets under way next month, usually prompts expensive tally-building efforts by cities eager to maximize federal funding tied to the count. Detroit, which faces a population decline of as much as 150,000, has used that tactic in the past and once fought a successful court challenge to boost its count. But this time, Mr. Bing is pushing the city to embrace the bad news. The mayor is looking to the diminished tally, down from 951,270 in 2000, as a benchmark in his bid to reshape Detroit’s government, finances and perhaps even its geography to reflect its smaller population and tax base. That means, in part, cutting city services and laying off workers.

His approach to the census is a product of not only budget constraints but also a new, more modest view of the city’s prospects. “We’ve got to pick those core communities, those core neighborhoods” to sustain and preserve, he said at a recent public appearance, adding: “That’s something that’s possible here in Detroit.” Unlike his predecessors, Mr. Bing, a Democrat first elected last year to finish the term of disgraced former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, hasn’t touted big development plans or talked of a “renaissance.” Instead, he is trying to prepare residents for a new reality: that Detroit—like the auto industry that propelled it for a century—will have to get smaller before it gets bigger again.

With no high-profile census push, the city risks an undercount that would mean forgoing millions of dollars in federal funding. Nationwide, each person counted translates into about $1,000 to $1,200 in federal funding to municipal governments. But some community leaders see the hands-off approach as a sign the city’s leadership under Mr. Bing, a 66-year-old businessman and former basketball star, is prepared to face up to the depopulation problem and rethink Detroit’s future. “This is going to be hard to wrestle to the ground,” said Rip Rapson, president of the Kresge Foundation of Troy, Mich., a national philanthropy that has invested heavily in development projects aimed at salvaging the nicest remnants of the city. “He deserves enormous credit for leading the community into this.”

Soon after being elected to a full term in November, Mr. Bing began cutting back on city services such as buses and laying off hundreds of municipal workers. The mayor is now making plans to shutter or consolidate city departments and tear down 10,000 vacant buildings. And Mr. Bing is supporting efforts to shrink the capacity of the city’s school system by half. Along with the mayor, a number of academics and philanthropic groups are sketching visions of a different Detroit. One such vision has urban farms and park spaces filling the acres of barren patches where people once lived and worked. In a city of roughly 140 square miles, vacant residential and commercial property accounts for an estimated 40 square miles, an area larger than the city of Miami. “The potential of this open space is enormous,” said Dan Pitera, an architect at the University of Detroit Mercy who has done land-use studies on the city.

Thirty years ago, Mayor Coleman Young fought the census count in federal court, setting a precedent by arguing successfully that it missed tens of thousands of residents and cost Detroit millions in federal dollars. In 2000, Mayor Dennis Archer worked with schools, health clinics, neighborhood associations, charities and the like to pump up the numbers. The city even paid for census registration to be done at special block parties it helped throw. But that last count was ultimately a blow to Detroit’s pride, pinning its population below one million for the first time since the 1920s. At its peak in the 1950s, the city had been home to nearly two million people. Some experts believe the population will eventually settle just below 700,000, about the current size of Charlotte, N.C.

Long-term declines triggered by suburban sprawl, home-loan bias and racial strife have accelerated in recent years as home foreclosures and auto-industry cutbacks tear through even more stable, wealthy neighborhoods. Meanwhile, declining home values in Detroit’s better-off suburbs have made them more accessible to the city’s poorer residents, fueling the flight. The city is counting on nonprofit partners to take the lead on the census this year, rather than funding efforts itself. But with a population that is widely dispersed and largely poor and minority—two segments traditionally disinclined to fill out government paperwork—Detroit is already difficult to count. In the last census, just 62% of Detroiters responded, compared with an average of 71% statewide. “That’s why I keep telling the city, ‘you are in trouble,’ ” said Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit, an organization founded by large local philanthropies that want to help the city collect accurate demographic, housing, economic and other information. “Unfortunately, they don’t have the resources.” Erica Hill, the mayor’s census coordinator, says Detroit is in a bind. It knows an undercount would be costly, but it is too broke to promote the census the way it used to. “We need to make sure the city gets its due,” she said. But “we have to be creative and build a lot of partnerships to make this happen.”

ECONOMIES OF SCALE
http://www.hantzgroup.com/
http://www.hantzfarmsdetroit.com/press.html
http://money.cnn.com/2009/12/29/news/economy/farming_detroit.fortune/index.htm
Can farming save Detroit?
BY David Whitford / December 29, 2009

John Hantz is a wealthy money manager who lives in an older enclave of Detroit where all the houses are grand and not all of them are falling apart. Once a star stockbroker at American Express, he left 13 years ago to found his own firm. Today Hantz Financial Services has 20 offices in Michigan, Ohio, and Georgia, more than 500 employees, and $1.3 billion in assets under management. Twice divorced, Hantz, 48, lives alone in clubby, paneled splendor, surrounded by early-American landscapes on the walls, an autograph collection that veers from Detroit icons such as Ty Cobb and Henry Ford to Baron von Richthofen and Mussolini, and a set of Ayn Rand first editions. With a net worth of more than $100 million, he’s one of the richest men left in Detroit — one of the very few in his demographic who stayed put when others were fleeing to Grosse Pointe and Bloomfield Hills. Not long ago, while commuting, he stumbled on a big idea that might help save his dying city.

Every weekday Hantz pulls his Volvo SUV out of the gated driveway of his compound and drives half an hour to his office in Southfield, a northern suburb on the far side of Eight Mile Road. His route takes him through a desolate, postindustrial cityscape — the kind of scene that is shockingly common in Detroit. Along the way he passes vacant buildings, abandoned homes, and a whole lot of empty land. In some stretches he sees more pheasants than people. “Every year I tell myself it’s going to get better,” says Hantz, bright-eyed, with smooth cheeks and a little boy’s carefully combed haircut, “and every year it doesn’t.” Then one day about a year and a half ago, Hantz had a revelation. “We need scarcity,” he thought to himself as he drove past block after unoccupied block. “We can’t create opportunities, but we can create scarcity.” And that, he says one afternoon in his living room between puffs on an expensive cigar, “is how I got onto this idea of the farm.”

Yes, a farm. A large-scale, for-profit agricultural enterprise, wholly contained within the city limits of Detroit. Hantz thinks farming could do his city a lot of good: restore big chunks of tax-delinquent, resource-draining urban blight to pastoral productivity; provide decent jobs with benefits; supply local markets and restaurants with fresh produce; attract tourists from all over the world; and — most important of all — stimulate development around the edges as the local land market tilts from stultifying abundance to something more like scarcity and investors move in. Hantz is willing to commit $30 million to the project. He’ll start with a pilot program this spring involving up to 50 acres on Detroit’s east side. “Out of the gates,” he says, “it’ll be the largest urban farm in the world.”

This is possibly not as crazy as it sounds. Granted, the notion of devoting valuable city land to agriculture would be unfathomable in New York, London, or Tokyo. But Detroit is a special case. The city that was once the fourth largest in the country and served as a symbol of America’s industrial might has lately assumed a new role: North American poster child for the global phenomenon of shrinking postindustrial cities. Nearly 2 million people used to live in Detroit. Fewer than 900,000 remain. Even if, unlikely as it seems, the auto industry were to rebound dramatically and the U.S. economy were to come roaring back tomorrow, no one — not even the proudest civic boosters — imagines that the worst is over. “Detroit will probably be a city of 700,000 people when it’s all said and done,” says Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “The big challenge is, What do you do with a population of 700,000 in a geography that can accommodate three times that much?”

Whatever the answer is, whenever it comes, it won’t be predicated on a return to past glory. “We have to be realistic,” says George Jackson, CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. (DEGC). “This is not about trying to re-create something. We’re not a world-class city.” If not world class, then what? A regional financial center? That’s already Chicago, and to a lesser extent Minneapolis. A biotech hub? Boston and San Diego are way out in front. Some think Detroit has a future in TV and movies, but Hollywood is skeptical. (“Best incentives in the country,” one producer says. “Worst crew.”) How about high tech and green manufacturing? Possibly, given the engineering and manufacturing talent that remains. But still there’s the problem of what to do with the city’s enormous amount of abandoned land, conservatively estimated at 40 square miles in a sprawling metropolis whose 139-square-mile footprint is easily bigger than San Francisco, Boston, and Manhattan combined. If you let it revert to nature, you abandon all hope of productive use. If you turn it over to parks and recreation, you add costs to an overburdened city government that can’t afford to teach its children, police its streets, or maintain the infrastructure it already has.

Faced with those facts, a growing number of policymakers and urban planners have begun to endorse farming as a solution. Former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros, now chairman of CityView, a private equity firm that invests in urban development, is familiar with Detroit’s land problem. He says he’s in favor of “other uses that engage human beings in their maintenance, such as urban agriculture.” After studying the city’s options at the request of civic leaders, the American Institute of Architects came to this conclusion in a recent report: “Detroit is particularly well suited to become a pioneer in urban agriculture at a commercial scale.” In that sense, Detroit might actually be ahead of the curve. When Alex Krieger, chairman of the department of urban planning and design at Harvard, imagines what the settled world might look like half a century from now, he sees “a checkerboard pattern” with “more densely urbanized areas, and areas preserved for various purposes such as farming.

The notion of a walled city, a contained city — that’s an 18th-century idea.” And where will the new ideas for the 21st century emerge? From older, decaying cities, Krieger believes, such as New Orleans, St. Louis, Cleveland, Newark, and especially Detroit — cities that have become, at least in part, “kind of empty containers.” This is a lot to hang on Hantz. Most of what he knows about agriculture he’s picked up over the past 18 months from the experts he’s consulting at Michigan State and the Kellogg Foundation. Then there’s the fact that many of his fellow citizens are openly rooting against him. Since word leaked of his scheme last spring, he has been criticized by community activists, who call the plan a land grab. Opponents have also raised questions about the run-ins he’s had with regulators at Hantz Financial. But Detroit is nothing if not desperate for new ideas, and Hantz has had no trouble getting his heard. “It all sounds very exciting,” says the DEGC’s Jackson, whose agency is working on assembling a package of incentives for Hantz, including free city land. “We hope it works.”

Detroit’s civic history is notable for repeated failed attempts to revitalize its core. Over the past three decades leaders have embraced a series of downtown redevelopment plans that promised to save the city. The massive Renaissance Center office and retail complex, built in the 1970s, mostly served to suck tenants out of other downtown buildings. (Today 48 of those buildings stand empty.) Three new casinos (one already bankrupt) and two new sports arenas (one for the NFL’s dreadful Lions, the other for MLB’s Tigers) have restored, on some nights, a little spark to downtown Detroit but have inspired little in the way of peripheral development. Downtown is still eerily underpopulated, the tax base is still crumbling, and people are still leaving. The jobless rate in the city is 27%. Nothing yet tried in Detroit even begins to address the fundamental issue of emptiness — empty factories, empty office buildings, empty houses, and above all, empty lots. Rampant arson, culminating in the annual frenzy of Devil’s Night, is partly to blame. But there has also been a lot of officially sanctioned demolition in Detroit. As white residents fled to the suburbs over the decades, houses in the decaying neighborhoods they left behind were often bulldozed.

Abandonment is an infrastructure problem, when you consider the cost of maintaining far-flung roads and sewer systems; it’s a city services problem, when you think about the inefficiencies of collecting trash and fighting crime in sparsely populated neighborhoods; and it’s a real estate problem. Houses in Detroit are selling for an average of $15,000. That sounds like a buying opportunity, and in fact Detroit looks pretty good right now to a young artist or entrepreneur who can’t afford anyplace else — but not yet to an investor. The smart money sees no point in buying as long as fresh inventory keeps flooding the market. “In the target sites we have,” says Hantz, “we [reevaluate] every two weeks.”

As Hantz began thinking about ways to absorb some of that inventory, what he imagined, he says, was a glacier: one broad, continuous swath of farmland, growing acre by acre, year by year, until it had overrun enough territory to raise the scarcity alarm and impel other investors to act. Rick Foster, an executive at the Kellogg Foundation whom Hantz sought out for advice, nudged him gently in a different direction. “I think you should make pods,” Foster said, meaning not one farm but many. Hantz was taken right away with the concept of creating several pods — or lakes, as he came to think of them — each as large as 300 acres, and each surrounded by its own valuable frontage. “What if we had seven lakes in the city?” he wondered. “Would people develop around those lakes?”

To increase the odds that they will, Hantz plans on making his farms both visually stunning and technologically cutting edge. Where there are row crops, Hantz says, they’ll be neatly organized, planted in “dead-straight lines — they may even be in a design.” But the plan isn’t to make Detroit look like Iowa. “Don’t think a farm with tractors,” says Hantz. “That’s old.” In fact, Hantz’s operation will bear little resemblance to a traditional farm. Mike Score, who recently left Michigan State’s agricultural extension program to join Hantz Farms as president, has written a business plan that calls for the deployment of the latest in farm technology, from compost-heated greenhouses to hydroponic (water only, no soil) and aeroponic (air only) growing systems designed to maximize productivity in cramped settings.

He’s really excited about apples. Hantz Farms will use a trellised system that’s compact, highly efficient, and tourist-friendly. It won’t be like apple picking in Massachusetts, and that’s the point. Score wants visitors to Hantz Farms to see that agriculture is not just something that takes place in the countryside. They will be able to “walk down the row pushing a baby stroller,” he promises. Crop selection will depend on the soil conditions of the plots that Hantz acquires. Experts insist that most of the land is not irretrievably toxic. The majority of the lots now vacant in Detroit were residential, not industrial; the biggest problem is how compacted the soil is. For the most part the farms will focus on high-margin edibles: peaches, berries, plums, nectarines, and exotic greens. Score says that the first crops are likely to be lettuce and heirloom tomatoes.

Hantz says he’s willing to put up the entire $30 million investment himself — all cash, no debt — and immediately begin hiring locally for full-time positions. But he wants two things first from Jackson at the DEGC: free tax-delinquent land, which he’ll combine with his own purchases, he says (he’s aiming for an average cost of $3,000 per acre, in line with rural farmland in southern Michigan), and a zoning adjustment that would create a new, lower tax rate for agriculture. There’s no deal yet, but neither request strikes Jackson as unattainable. “If we have reasonable due diligence,” he says, “I think we’ll give it a shot.”

Detroit mayor Dave Bing is watching closely. The Pistons Hall of Fame guard turned entrepreneur has had what his spokesman describes as “productive discussions” with Hantz. In a statement to Fortune, Bing says he’s “encouraged by the proposals to bring commercial farming back to Detroit. As we look to diversify our economy, commercial farming has some real potential for job growth and rebuilding our tax base.” Hantz, for his part, says he’s got three or four locations all picked out (“one of them will pop”) and is confident he’ll have seeds in the ground “in some sort of demonstration capacity” this spring. “Some things you’ve got to see in order to believe,” he says, waving his cigar. “This is a thing you’ve got to believe in order to see.”

Many have a hard time making that leap. When news of Hantz’s ambitious plan broke in the Detroit papers last spring, few people even knew who he was. A little digging turned up a less-than-spotless record at Hantz Financial Services. The firm has paid fines totaling more than $1 million in the past five years, including $675,000 in 2005, without admitting or denying guilt, “for fraud and misrepresentations relating to undisclosed revenue-sharing arrangements, as well as other violations,” according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. (Hantz responds, “If we find something that isn’t in compliance, we take immediate steps to correct the problem.”)

Hantz Farms’ first hire, VP Matt Allen, did have an established reputation in Detroit, but it wasn’t a good one. Two years ago, while he was press secretary for former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Allen pleaded guilty to domestic violence and obstructing police after his wife called 911. He was sentenced to a year’s probation. Hantz says he has known Allen for many years and values his deep knowledge of the city. “He has earned a second chance, and I’m willing to give it to him,” he says. Some of Hantz’s biggest skeptics, ironically, are the same people who’ve been working to transform Detroit into a laboratory for urban farming for years, albeit on a much smaller scale. The nonprofit Detroit Agriculture Network counts nearly 900 urban gardens within the city limits. That’s a twofold increase in two years, and it places Detroit at the forefront of a vibrant national movement to grow more food locally and lessen the nation’s dependence on Big Ag.

None of those gardens is very big (average size: 0.25 acre), and they don’t generate a lot of cash (most don’t even try), but otherwise they’re great: as antidotes to urban blight; sources of healthy, affordable food in a city that, incredibly, has no chain supermarkets; providers of meaningful, if generally unpaid, work to the chronically unemployed; and beacons around which disintegrating communities can begin to regather themselves. That actually sounds a lot like what Hantz envisions his farms to be in the for-profit arena. But he doesn’t have many fans among the community gardeners, who feel that Hantz is using his money and connections to capitalize on their pioneering work. “I’m concerned about the corporate takeover of the urban agriculture movement in Detroit,” says Malik Yakini, a charter school principal and founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates D-Town Farm on Detroit’s west side. “At this point the key players with him seem to be all white men in a city that’s at least 82% black.”

Hantz, meanwhile, has no patience for what he calls “fear-based” criticism. He has a hard time concealing his contempt for the nonprofit sector generally. (“Someone must pay taxes,” he sniffs.) He also flatly rejects the idea that he’s orchestrating some kind of underhanded land grab. In fact, Hantz says that he welcomes others who might want to start their own farms in the city. “Viability and sustainability to me are all that matters,” he says. And yet Hantz is fully aware of the potentially historic scope of what he is proposing. After all, he’s talking about accumulating hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of acres inside a major American city. And it’s clear that he views Hantz Farms as his legacy. Already he’s told his 21-year-old daughter, Lauren, his only heir, that if she wants to own the land one day, she has to promise him she’ll never sell it. “This is like buying a penthouse in New York in 1940,” Hantz says. “No one should be able to afford to do this ever again.” That might seem like an overly optimistic view of Detroit’s future. But allow Hantz to dream a little. Twenty years from now, when people come to the city and have a drink at the bar at the top of the Renaissance Center, what will they see? Maybe that’s not the right vantage point. Maybe they’ll actually be on the farm, picking apples, looking up at the RenCen. “That’s the beauty of being down and out,” says Hantz. “You can actually open your mind to ideas that you would never otherwise embrace.” At this point, Detroit doesn’t have much left to lose.

CITY SERVICES
http://www.instructables.com/id/Bicyle-Power-for-Your-Television,-Laptop,-or-Cell-/
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/01/pedal-power-in-detroit-green-gym-for-homeless.php
Pedal-Power in Detroit: Green Gym for the Homeless
BY Roberta Cruger / 01.27.10

Between 1950 and 1980, Detroit lost 500,000 trees to Dutch elm disease, urban expansion and attrition, according to Paul Bairley, director of Urban Forestry for The Greening of Detroit. Among the city’s various environmental initiatives, it’s looking to slash residential land use by 30 percent, letting areas grow into natural greenways. There are green job initiatives, and for the homeless, a community center provides training for eco-conscious work and just opened a human-generated workout room. With green gyms popping up in Seattle and Hong Kong, why aren’t we tapping into sweat equity everywhere?

Gives new meaning to upcyling
Converting otherwise wasted energy, from the kinetic motion of treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes, into renewable energy is cost-effective and energy-efficient. That’s what a community organization in Detroit did this week with its new green gym, for people living in its transitional housing and other shelter programs, staff and volunteers. “Not only is this gym a good idea for the environment, but it will help build the general health of our clients who often struggle with diabetes or heart disease,” states Rev. Faith Fowler, the executive director.

The Cass Green Gym’s facility offers weight machines, boxing bags, a treadmill, and stationary bikes featuring Green Revolution technology that generates electricity. Cass Community Social Services (CCSS), located on Detroit’s Cass Avenue, projects that full classes with ten people, is enough power to light three homes for an entire year. It will redirect it back to the building’s electrical grid, reducing operating costs.

The company, Green Revolution, taps into pedal power, providing exercise machines and consulting to facilities, harnessing the energy of gym rats into green power. Its technology can be installed on most brands of indoor cycling equipment. At its retrofit gym in Ridgefield, Connecticut, a typical cycling class with 20 bikes has the potential to produce up to 3.6 Megawatts (3,600,000 watts) of renewable energy a year. This is equivalent to lighting 72 homes for a month, and reduces carbon emissions by over 5,000 pounds.

CCSS also links job training and permanent employment with ways to reduce the footprint. One venture, modeled after a Native American enterprise in Oklahoma, recycles old illegally dumped tires from vacant lots and converts them into mud mats. So far, formerly homeless men have collected more than 5,000 tires and sold over 2,000 mats. Another of its programs involves x-ray recycling, removing patient information from films and packaging the remains for recycling. And its document shredding effort will reuse the paper for insulation in seniors and low-income homes. As a native Detroiter, who worked a block from this center, renewal efforts are personally meaningful to me — and it should be for all of us. It was heartening to read a Time article on addressing urban post-industrial problems: “we could regenerate not just a city but our sense of who we are.”

PATHWAYS OF
http://www.jamesgriffioen.net/index.php?/prairies/feral-houses/
http://www.jamesgriffioen.net/trailmode.png
http://www.sweet-juniper.com/2009/06/streets-with-no-name.html
Streets With No Name
BY James Griffioen / June 23, 2009

This past winter, the snow stayed so long we almost forgot what the ground looked like. In Detroit, there is little money for plowing; after a big storm, the streets and sidewalks disappear for days. Soon new pathways emerge, side streets get dug out one car-width wide. Bootprints through parks veer far from the buried sidewalks. Without the city to tell him where to walk, the pilgrim who first sets out in fresh snowfall creates his own path. Others will likely follow, or forge their own paths as needed. In the heart of summer, too, it becomes clear that the grid laid down by the ancient planners is now irrelevant. In vacant lots between neighborhoods and the attractions of thoroughfares, bus stops and liquor stores, well-worn paths stretch across hundreds of vacant lots. Gaston Bachelard called these les chemins du désir: pathways of desire. Paths that weren’t designed but eroded casually away by individuals finding the shortest distance between where they are coming from and where they intend to go.


photo by James Griffioen

It is an urban legend on many college campuses that many sidewalks and pathways were not planned at all, but paved by the university after students created their own paths from building to building, straying from those originally prescribed. The Motor City, like a college campus, has a large population that cannot afford cars, relying instead on bikes and feet to meet its needs. With enormous swaths of the city returning to prairie, where sidewalks are irrelevant and sometimes even dangerous, desire lines have become an integral yet entirely unintended part of the city’s infrastructure. There are hundreds of these prescriptive easements across neglected lots throughout the city. Desire lines are considered by many landscape architects to be proof of a flaw in the design of a physical space, or more gently, a sign that concrete cannot always impose its will on the human mind. But what about a physical space that no longer resembles its intended design, a city where tens of thousands of homes have been abandoned, burned, and buried in their own basements? While actual roads and sidewalks crumble with each season of freezing and thawing, Detroiters have taken it upon themselves to create new paths, in their own small way working to create a city that better suits their needs.


photo by James Griffioen

Academics around the world argue about whether the first paths were created by hunters following game trails. There are scientists who study ants to better understand highways. They have created mathematical models for trail formation. When the great cities were built, sometimes roads were built along ancient paths. The Romans imposed grids on every city but their own. In Detroit many of the streets are named for the Frenchmen whose ribbon farms stretching north from the river were covered in asphalt: Beaubien, Dequindre, Campau, Livernois, Chene. In many cities, there are streets named for dead men once revered throughout the land but now mostly forgotten (Fulton, Lafayette, Irving) and others named for men no one remembers. In Detroit, there are streets no one has named. And they belong to anyone.


photo by James Griffioen

LAST DAYS
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/mar/10/detroit-motor-city-urban-decline
Detroit is a city in terminal decline. When film director Julien Temple arrived in town, he was shocked by what he found – but he also uncovered reasons for hope
BY Julien Temple / 10 March 2010

When the film- maker Roger Graef approached me last year to make a film about the rise and fall of Detroit I had very few preconceptions about the place. Like everyone else, I knew it as the Motor City, one of the great epicentres of 20th-century music, and home of the American automobile. Only when I arrived in the city itself did the full-frontal cultural car crash that is 21st-century Detroit became blindingly apparent. Leaving behind the gift shops of the “Big Three” car manufacturers, the Motown merchandise and the bizarre ejaculating fountains of the now-notorious international airport, things become stranger and stranger. The drive along eerily empty ghost freeways into the ruins of inner-city Detroit is an Alice-like journey into a severely dystopian future. Passing the giant rubber tyre that dwarfs the nonexistent traffic in ironic testament to the busted hubris of Motown’s auto-makers, the city’s ripped backside begins to glide past outside the windows.

Like The Passenger, it’s hard to believe what we’re seeing. The vast, rusting hulks of abandoned car plants, (some of the largest structures ever built and far too expensive to pull down), beached amid a shining sea of grass. The blackened corpses of hundreds of burned-out houses, pulled back to earth by the green tentacles of nature. Only the drunken rows of telegraph poles marching away across acres of wildflowers and prairie give any clue as to where teeming city streets might once have been. Approaching the derelict shell of downtown Detroit, we see full-grown trees sprouting from the tops of deserted skyscrapers. In their shadows, the glazed eyes of the street zombies slide into view, stumbling in front of the car. Our excitement at driving into what feels like a man-made hurricane Katrina is matched only by sheer disbelief that what was once the fourth-largest city in the US could actually be in the process of disappearing from the face of the earth. The statistics are staggering – 40sq miles of the 139sq mile inner city have already been reclaimed by nature.

One in five houses now stand empty. Property prices have fallen 80% or more in Detroit over the last three years. A three-bedroom house on Albany Street is still on the market for $1. Unemployment has reached 30%; 33.8% of Detroit’s population and 48.5% of its children live below the poverty line. Forty-seven per cent of adults in Detroit are functionally illiterate; 29 Detroit schools closed in 2009 alone. But statistics tell only one part of the story. The reality of Detroit is far more visceral. My producer, George Hencken, and I drove around recce-ing our film, getting out of the car and photographing extraordinary places to film with mad-dog enthusiasm – everywhere demands to be filmed – but were greeted with appalled concern by Bradley, our friendly manager, on our return to the hotel. “Never get out of the car in that area – people have been car-jacked and shot.”

Law and order has completely broken down in the inner city, drugs and prostitution are rampant and unless you actually murder someone the police will leave you alone. This makes it great for filming – park where you like, film what you like – but not so good if you actually live there. The abandoned houses make great crack dens and provide cover for appalling sex crimes and child abduction. The only growth industry is the gangs of armed scrappers, who plunder copper and steel from the ruins. Rabid dogs patrol the streets. All the national supermarket chains have pulled out of the inner city. People have virtually nowhere to buy fresh produce. Starbucks? Forget it. What makes all this so hard to understand is that Detroit was the frontier city of the American Dream – not just the automobile, but pretty much everything we associate with 20th-century western civilisation came from there. Mass production; assembly lines; stop lights; freeways; shopping malls; suburbs and an emerging middle-class workforce: all these things were pioneered in Detroit.

But the seeds of the Motor City’s downfall were sown a long time ago. The blind belief of the Big Three in the automobile as an inexhaustible golden goose, guaranteeing endless streams of cash, resulted in the city becoming reliant on a single industry. Its destiny fatally entwined with that of the car. The greed-fuelled willingness of the auto barons to siphon up black workers from the American south to man their Metropolis-like assembly lines and then treat them as subhuman citizens, running the city along virtually apartheid lines, created a racial tinderbox. The black riots of 1943 and 1967 gave Detroit the dubious distinction of being the only American city to twice call in the might of the US army to suppress insurrection on its own streets and led directly to the disastrous so-called white flight of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

The population of Detroit is now 81.6% African-American and almost two-thirds down on its overall peak in the early 50s. The city has lost its tax base and cannot afford to cut the grass or light its streets, let alone educate or feed its citizens. The rest of the US is in denial about the economic catastrophe that has engulfed Detroit, terrified that this man-made contagion may yet spread to other US cities. But somehow one cannot imagine the same fate befalling a city with a predominantly white population. On many levels Detroit seems to be an insoluble disaster with urgent warnings for the rest of the industrialised world. But as George and I made our film we discovered, to our surprise, an irrepressible positivity in the city. Unable to buy fresh food for their children, people are now growing their own, turning the demolished neighbourhood blocks into urban farms and kick-starting what is now the fastest-growing movement across the US. Although the city is still haemorrhaging population, young people from all over the country are also flooding into Detroit – artists, musicians and social pioneers, all keen to make use of the abandoned urban spaces and create new ways of living together.

With the breakdown of 20th-century civilisation, many Detroiters have discovered an exhilarating sense of starting over, building together a new cross-racial community sense of doing things, discarding the bankrupt rules of the past and taking direct control of their own lives. Still at the forefront of the American Dream, Detroit is fast becoming the first “post-American” city. And amid the ruins of the Motor City it is possible to find a first pioneer’s map to the post-industrial future that awaits us all. So perhaps Detroit can avoid the fate of the lost cities of the Maya and rise again like the phoenix that sits, appropriately, on its municipal crest. That is why George and I decided to call our film Requiem for Detroit? – with a big question mark at the end.

MEANWHILE

ICE HOUSE DETROIT
http://www.flickr.com/groups/icehousedetroit/
http://icehousedetroit.blogspot.com/
“It should be noted that The Michigan State land bank’s executive director Carrie Lewand-Monroe, And Development Specialist Khalilah Burt both extended themselves for a community based project in a manner that is not so commonly seen in other States. It is because of their continued interest in community stabilization, and their goal of fostering the development of the blighted, tax reverted properties that they got behind our project from the very beginning. Michigan State Land Bank- thank you for keeping Michigan a productive State.”

Michigan State Land Bank
http://www.michigan.gov/dleg/0,1607,7-154-34176-200357–,00.html
http://www.michigan.gov/dleg/0,1607,7-154-34176-127130–,00.html
http://www.michigan.gov/dleg/0,1607,7-154-34176_37400—,00.html

THE NON-MYTHOLOGICAL $1 DOLLAR HOUSE
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/02/detroit-homes-mortgage-foreclosures-80
Detroit homes sell for $1 amid mortgage and car industry crisis
BY Chris McGreal / 2 March 2010
One in five houses left empty as foreclosures mount and property prices drop by 80%

Some might say Jon Brumit overpaid when he stumped up $100 (£65) for a whole house. Drive through Detroit neighbourhoods once clogged with the cars that made the city the envy of America and there are homes to be had for a single dollar. You find these houses among boarded-up, burnt-out and rotting buildings lining deserted streets, places where the population is shrinking so fast entire blocks are being demolished to make way for urban farms. “I was living in Chicago and a friend told me that houses in Detroit could be had for $500,” said Brumit, a financially strapped artist who thought he had little prospect of owning his own property. “I said if you hear of anything just a little cheaper let me know. Within a week he emails me a photo of a house for $100. I thought that’s just crazy. Why not? It’s a way to cut our expenses way down and kind of open up a lot of time for creative projects because we’re not working to pay the rent.”

Houses on sale for a few dollars are something of an urban legend in the US on the back of the mortgage crisis that drove millions of people from their homes. But in Detroit it is no myth. One in five houses now stand empty in the city that launched the automobile age, forged America’s middle-class and blessed the world with Motown. Detroit has been in decline for decades; its falling population is now well below a million – half of its 1950 peak. But the recent mortgage crisis and the fall of the big car makers into bankruptcy has pushed the town into a realm unique among big cities in America.

A third of the population are unemployed. Property prices have fallen 80% or more in large parts of Detroit over the last three years. The average price of a home sold in the city last year has been put at $7,500 (£4,900). The recent financial crash forced wholesale foreclosures among people unable to pay their mortgages or who walked away from houses that fell to a fraction of the value of the loans they had taken out on them. Banks are selling off properties in the worst neighbourhoods, which are usually surrounded by empty and wrecked housing, for a few dollars each. But even better houses can be had at a fraction of their former value.

Technically, Brumit paid $95 for the land and $5 for the house on Lawley Street – which fitted what estate agents euphemistically call an opportunity. Brumit said: “It had a big hole in the roof from the fire department putting out the last of two arson attempts. Both previous owners tried to set it on fire to get out of the mortgages. So there’s a big hole about 24ft long and the plumbing had almost entirely been ripped out and most of the electrics too. It was basically a smoke damaged, structurally intact shell with a snowdrift in the attic.” Setting fire to houses to claim the insurance and kill off the mortgage is not uncommon in Detroit; a blackened, wooden corpse of a house sits at the bottom of Brumit’s street. But it is more common for owners to just walk away from their homes and mortgages.

On the opposite side of Lawley Street Jim Feltner and his workers were clearing out a property seized by a bank. “I used to be a building contractor. I was buying up places and doing them up. Now I empty out foreclosures. I do one or two of these a day all over the city,” he said. “I’ve been in Detroit 40 years and I’ve watched the peak up to $100,000 for houses that right now aren’t worth more than $20,000 tops. I own a bunch of properties. I have 10 rentals and I can’t get nothing for them, and they’re beautiful homes.”

Feltner’s workers are dragging clothes, boots and furniture out of the bedrooms and living room, and dumping them in the front yard until a skip arrives. Kicked to one side is a box of 1970s Motown records. A teddy bear lies spreadeagled on the floor. “You could get about five grand for this place,” said Feltner. “Nice house once you clean it out. All the plumbing and electricals are in it. Roof don’t leak.” Brumit said a man called Jesse lived there. “Jesse had mentioned that he was probably going to get out of there because he knew he could buy a place for so much less than he owed. That’s a drag. You don’t want to see people leaving,” he said.

The house next door is abandoned. On the next street, one third of the properties are boarded up. It’s a story replicated across Detroit. Joan Wilson, an estate agent in the north-west of the city, whose firm is offering a three-bedroom house on Albany street for $1, says that more than half of the houses she sells are foreclosures in the tens of thousands of dollars. “The vast majority of people that call to enquire, almost the first thing out of their mouth is that they want to buy a foreclosure. I have had telephone calls from people looking online that live, for example, in England or California, who’ve never set foot in the area. They’re calling about one specific house they see online. I tell them they need to look at the neighbourhood. Is it the only house standing within a mile?”

But what is blight to some is proving an opportunity to remake parts of the city for others living there. The Old Redford part of Detroit has suffered its share of desolation. The police station, high school and community centre are closed. Yet the area is being revitalised, led by John George, a resident who began by boarding up an abandoned house used by drug dealers 21 years ago and who now heads the community group Blight Busters. They are pulling down housing that cannot be saved and creating community gardens with fresh vegetables free for anyone to pick. “There’s longstanding nuisance houses, been around seven, eight, nine years. We will go in without a permit and demolish them without permission,” said George. “If you, as an owner, are going to leave something like that to fester in my neighbourhood, obviously you either don’t care or aren’t in a position to take responsibility for your property, so we’re going to take care of it for you.” Blight Busters has torn down more than 200 houses, including recently an entire block of abandoned housing in Old Redford. “We need to right-size this community, which means removing whole blocks, and building farms, larger gardens, putting in windmills. We want to downsize – right-size – Detroit,” George said.

Houses that can be rescued are done up with grants from foundations. “Detroit has some of the nicest housing stock in the country. Brick, marble, hardwood floors, leaded glass. These houses were built for kings,” George added. “We gave a $90,000 house to a lady who was living in a car. She had four children. It didn’t cost her a dime. We had over a thousand people apply for it. It’s probably worth $35,000 now.” Old Redford is seeing piecemeal renewal. One abandoned block of shops has been converted to an arts centre and music venue with cafes. One of the few remaining cinemas in Detroit – and one that’s among the last in the US with an original pipe organ – has been revived and is showing Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Brumit calculates that he has spent $1,500 to buy and do up his house, principally by scavenging demolition sites. He will move in with his wife and four-month-old child once it is complete, probably in the summer. He said: “The Americans we know got ripped off by the American dream. But [the renovation] is the most like moving out of the country that we can actually do. We’re the minority in terms of ethnicity and this is a rich environment … there’s 30% open space in the city and that doesn’t include the buildings that should be torn down. You’re in a city riding your bike around and you hear birds and stuff. It’s incredible.”

TIGGERRIFIC

DDD PROJECT
http://www.tyreeguyton.com/
http://www.heidelberg.org/FAQ.html
http://hamtramckstar.com/index.php/auburndale_st
http://www.thedetroiter.com/b2evoArt/blogs/index.php?blog=2&title=why_art_3_paint_the_town_orange
http://www.thedetroiter.com/nov05/disneydemolition.php
(Editor’s note: This statement arrived anonymously in our inbox recently and we felt it would be of interest to our readers.)

In the “D”, “D” doesn’t really stand for “Detroit”, but “Demolition.” Take a look around and you’ll notice a great number of buildings marked on the front with a circled “D” in faint chalk. Off to the side, many of these same buildings will also have a noticeable dot, courtesy of our own native son, Tyree Guyton. These dotted buildings have stood for so long that they have become, arguably, the most memorable landmarks of our fair city. In addition to Tyree Guyton, Detroit has had more than its fair share of artists who have taken notice of this situation and done something about it. Recently, however, we have taken up a particular project that has actually netted results – faster than anyone, especially us, could have anticipated.

The artistic move is simple, cover the front in Tiggeriffic Orange – a color from the Mickey Mouse series, easily purchased from Home Depot. Every board, every door, every window, is caked in Tiggeriffic Orange. We paint the facades of abandoned houses whose most striking feature are their derelict appearance. A simple drive would show you some of our most visible targets. Just off I-75, around the Caniff/ Holbrook exit, on the west side, towers a three story house, saturated so deeply in orange that it reflects color onto the highway with the morning sun. Also, on the east side of the highway by the McNichols exit, is another house screaming orange. In that same area, where the Davison Highway and John C Lodge M-10 Highway intersect, sit a series of two houses painted orange, most visible from the Lodge side. In our only location not visible from the highway, on the Warren detour between 94 and 96 on Hancock Street, sat a house so perfectly set in its color that it garnered approval from the Detroit Police Department.

Two of four locations have already been demolished. Of the four, the building on Dequindre, by the Caniff/ Holbrook exit, remains, as does the site that intersects the Lodge and Davison. There was no “D” on any of the façades, only burnt boards, broken glass, and peeling paint. Rallying around these elements of decay, we seek to accentuate something that has wrongfully become part of the everyday landscape. So the destruction of two of these four houses raises a number of interesting points. From one perspective, our actions have created a direct cause and effect relationship with the city. As in, if we paint a house orange, the city will demolish it. In this relationship, where do the city’s motivations lie? Do they want to stop drawing attention to these houses? Are the workers simply confused and think this is the city’s new mark for demolition? Or is this a genuine response to beautify the city?

From another perspective, we have coincidently chosen buildings that were set to be demolished within the month. However, with so many circled “D”s on buildings, it seems near impossible that chance would strike twice. In any case, what will be the social ramifications of these actions? Each of these houses serves within the greater visual and social landscape of the city. If the city doesn’t rebuild, will it be better to have nothing there rather than an abandoned house? In addition, each of these houses served as a shelter for the homeless at some point in time. Now there are, at least, two less houses for them. Why didn’t the city simply choose to renovate? Everything affects not only our experience now, but also that of the next generation. So before they are all gone, look for these houses. Look at ALL the houses in Detroit. If you stumble upon one of these houses colored with Tiggeriffic Orange, stop and really look. In addition to being highlights within a context of depression, every detail is accentuated through the unification of color. Broken windows become jagged lines. Peeling paint becomes texture. These are artworks in themselves.

If you see a house that you would like to see painted orange, paint it. Afterwards, email the good people at thedetroiter.com at ws [at] thedetroiter [dot] com. These buildings aren’t scenery. Don’t look through or around them. Take action. Pick up a roller. Pick up a brush. Apply orange.

The dialogue is going. Our goal is to make everyone look at not only these houses, but all the buildings rooted in decay and corrosion. If we can get people to look for our orange while driving through the city, then they will at the same time, be looking at all the decaying buildings they come across. This brings awareness. And as we have already seen, awareness brings action.

Yours Truly,
the DDD project

SEE ALSO

INCHVESTING
http://makeloveland.com/
http://7billionfriends.tumblr.com/
http://1000inchesinloveland.blogspot.com/
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124252909&ft=1&f=1001
Inchvesting In Detroit: A Virtual Realty
BY Sarah Hulett / March 4, 2010

For $1, you can own a piece of Detroit. It will be a small piece: 1 square inch, to be exact. But your deed to that microplot of land will also buy you passage into an online community that could yield big ideas for the city. Jerry Paffendorf is not your typical real estate developer. But then, the people lining up to buy into his project are not your typical investors. He calls them “inchvestors.” Paffendorf’s project is called Loveland. And it’s a hybrid: part virtual and part physical. “What we want to do is we want to build this wild social network of people that’s literally built out of the dirt and the ground,” Paffendorf says. The physical part is a vacant lot on Vernor Highway in east Detroit. Paffendorf bought the property at auction for $500. Then he put 10,000 square inches up for sale, and people from all over the planet began snapping them up. They’ve now all been sold to nearly 600 people. The “deeds” Paffendorf mails out are not legally valid, so the people who buy inches won’t get to vote in Detroit, or have to pay taxes.

A Real-Life SimCity
Some inchvestors have sentimental ties to the city, and they just liked the idea of having a physical stake in the place where they — or their parents or grandparents — grew up. But a lot of them are attracted by the project’s virtual possibilities and say Loveland is sort of like the SimCity computer game, but with real land. Rita King is the biggest “landholder” in Loveland, with 1,000 square inches. She works for IBM, and she’s an entrepreneur with a firm that helps companies use social media and virtual worlds. King is excited about the project’s potential to help the real city in which Loveland sits. “Because Loveland is physically located in Detroit, it takes those 500 inchvestors, and it ties us to Detroit, which means that the development of Detroit is now of critical importance to hundreds of people who don’t live or work in Detroit,” King says. “And now I, for one, am starting to look very closely at Detroit, and how can I help Detroit level up along with Loveland in our small way.” “Leveling up” is a phrase from the world of video games. It’s what happens when the character you’re playing makes it to the next level in the game. And for many, it’s an apt description of what Detroit needs to do. King says she expects the online component of Loveland to include interactive maps and stories. And proceeds from the project’s next phase are expected to be used to fund grants for nonprofit groups around Detroit.

Feedback From Locals Not Always Positive
But for all the excitement about the possibilities Loveland holds among high-minded techno-futurists, the project is also fodder for derision and mockery in some quarters. Here’s a sampling of some of the comments posted to an online discussion board called Detroit YES: “Sounds like a pyramid scheme … without the pyramid.” – “A virtual art project? That sounds to me like a project that’s almost an art project.” – “This guy’s laughing all the way to the bank.” Bill Johnson, who goes by the pseudonym “Gnome” on Detroit YES, thinks the project is just exploitation. “You know in places outside Detroit, we’ve got a bad reputation as sort of a pitiful, worthless place,” Johnson says. “And this guy’s preying on that. That’s what he’s really peddling.”

An Optimism
Paffendorf says Detroit is a place of opportunity and creativity. He shares an optimism about the city and his project with Ricki Collins. She’s 9 years old and lives next door to the empty lot Paffendorf bought. Hers is the only house left on the block. “I want people to remember this place. Remember it. And I want people to come over so we can get to know each other, learn new things about each other,” Ricki says. It’s not clear how many of the people who have bought into the project will actually visit their square-inch plots in person. But King says she intends to make the trek from New York City. She also plans to install a mailbox so people can send things to and from the site.

ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE
http://www.powerhouseproject.com/index.php?/updates/move-to-detroit/
http://mitchcope.com/projects/detroit-book/
http://www.powerhouseproject.com/index.php?/property/the-neighborhood/
http://www.visitdesign99.com/index.php?/studio/the-neighborhood-project/
http://www.dia.org/PressReleases/showpressreleases.asp?ID=649

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/opinion/08barlow.html
For Sale: The $100 House
BY Toby Barlow / March 8, 2009

Recently, at a dinner party, a friend mentioned that he’d never seen so many outsiders moving into town. This struck me as a highly suspect statement. After all, we were talking about Detroit, home of corrupt former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, beleaguered General Motors and the 0-16 Lions. Compared with other cities’ buzzing, glittering skylines, ours sits largely abandoned, like some hulking beehive devastated by colony collapse. Who on earth would move here? Then again, I myself had moved to Detroit, from Brooklyn. For $100,000, I bought a town house that sits downtown in the largest and arguably the most beautiful Mies van der Rohe development ever built, an island of perfect modernism forgotten by the rest of the world. Two other guests that night, a couple in from Chicago, had also just invested in some Detroit real estate. That weekend Jon and Sara Brumit bought a house for $100.

Ah, the mythical $100 home. We hear about these low-priced “opportunities” in down-on-their-luck cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Cleveland, but we never meet anyone who has taken the plunge. Understandable really, for if they were actually worth anything then they would cost real money, right? Who would do such a preposterous thing? A local couple, Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert, started the ball rolling. An artist and an architect, they recently became the proud owners of a one-bedroom house in East Detroit for just $1,900. Buying it wasn’t the craziest idea. The neighborhood is almost, sort of, half-decent. Yes, the occasional crack addict still commutes in from the suburbs but a large, stable Bangladeshi community has also been moving in.

So what did $1,900 buy? The run-down bungalow had already been stripped of its appliances and wiring by the city’s voracious scrappers. But for Mitch that only added to its appeal, because he now had the opportunity to renovate it with solar heating, solar electricity and low-cost, high-efficiency appliances. Buying that first house had a snowball effect. Almost immediately, Mitch and Gina bought two adjacent lots for even less and, with the help of friends and local youngsters, dug in a garden. Then they bought the house next door for $500, reselling it to a pair of local artists for a $50 profit. When they heard about the $100 place down the street, they called their friends Jon and Sarah. Admittedly, the $100 home needed some work, a hole patched, some windows replaced. But Mitch plans to connect their home to his mini-green grid and a neighborhood is slowly coming together.

Now, three homes and a garden may not sound like much, but others have been quick to see the potential. A group of architects and city planners in Amsterdam started a project called the “Detroit Unreal Estate Agency” and, with Mitch’s help, found a property around the corner. The director of a Dutch museum, Van Abbemuseum, has called it “a new way of shaping the urban environment.” He’s particularly intrigued by the luxury of artists having little to no housing costs. Like the unemployed Chinese factory workers flowing en masse back to their villages, artists in today’s economy need somewhere to flee. But the city offers a much greater attraction for artists than $100 houses. Detroit right now is just this vast, enormous canvas where anything imaginable can be accomplished. From Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project (think of a neighborhood covered in shoes and stuffed animals and you’re close) to Matthew Barney’s “Ancient Evenings” project (think Egyptian gods reincarnated as Ford Mustangs and you’re kind of close), local and international artists are already leveraging Detroit’s complex textures and landscapes to their own surreal ends. In a way, a strange, new American dream can be found here, amid the crumbling, semi-majestic ruins of a half-century’s industrial decline. The good news is that, almost magically, dreamers are already showing up. Mitch and Gina have already been approached by some Germans who want to build a giant two-story-tall beehive. Mitch thinks he knows just the spot for it.

PREVIOUSLY
http://www.archive.org/details/LostLandscapesOfDetroit2010
http://www.archive.org/details/DetroitC1965
http://www.archive.org/details/detroit_youve_never_met_1
http://www.archive.org/details/detroit_youve_never_met_2

RIOTS of 1943

http://apps.detnews.com/apps/history/index.php?id=185
BY Vivian M. Baulch + Patricia Zacharias / Detroit News / 2.11.99

“Recruiters toured the South convincing whites and blacks to head north with promises of high wages in the new war factories. They arrived in such numbers that it was impossible to house them all. Blacks who believed they were heading to a promised land found a northern bigotry every bit as pervasive and virulent as what they thought they had left behind in the deep south. And southern whites brought their own traditional prejudices with them as both races migrated northward. The influx of newcomers strained not only housing, but transportation, education and recreational facilities as well. Wartime residents of Detroit endured long lines everywhere, at bus stops, grocery stores, and even at newsstands where they hoped for the chance to be first answering classified ads offering rooms for rent. Even though the city enjoyed full employment, it suffered the many discomforts of wartime rationing. Child-care programs were nonexistent, with grandma the only hope — provided she wasn’t already working at a defense plant. Times were tough for all, but for the Negro community, times were even tougher. Blacks were excluded from all public housing except the Brewster projects. Many lived in homes without indoor plumbing, yet they paid rent two to three times higher than families in white districts. Blacks were also confronted with a segregated military, discrimination in public accommodations, and unfair treatment by police.

Woodward was the dividing line between the roving black and white gangs. Whites took over Woodward up to Vernor and overturned and burned 20 cars belonging to blacks, looting stores as they went. The virtual guerrilla warfare overwhelmed the 2,000 city police officers and 150 state police troopers. A crowd of 100,000 spectators gathered near Grand Circus Park looking for something to watch. Despite Detroit’s history of problems, the Seal of the City of Detroit offers hopeful and timeless mottoes: “Speramus meliora” (We hope for better things) and “Resurget Cineribus” (It will rise from the ashes.)”

RIOTS of 1967
http://www.67riots.rutgers.edu/d_index.htm



“Affordable housing, or the lack thereof, was a fundamental concern for black Detroiters. When polled by the Detroit Free Press regarding the problems that contributed most to the rioting in the previous year, respondents listed “poor housing” as one of the most important issues, second only to police brutality. (Detroit Free Press 1968, Thomas 1997:130-131). In Detroit, the shortage of housing available to black residents was further exacerbated by “urban renewal” projects. In Detroit, entire neighborhoods were bulldozed to make way for freeways that linked city and suburbs. Neighborhoods that met their fate in such manner were predominantly black in their composition. To build Interstate 75, Paradise Valley or “Black Bottom”, the neighborhood that black migrants and white ethnics had struggled over during the 1940s, was buried beneath several layers of concrete. As the oldest established black enclave in Detroit, “Black Bottom” was not merely a point on the map, but the heart of Detroit’s black community, commercially and culturally. The loss for many black residents of Detroit was devastating, and the anger burned for years thereafter.”


photo by James Griffioen

CITIES GONE FALLOW
http://www.thelandbank.org/programs.asp
http://www.geneseeinstitute.org/assistance/index.html
http://www.mott.org/news/pressreleases/20091203landbank.aspx
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/5516536/US-cities-may-have-to-be-bulldozed-in-order-to-survive.html
US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive
BY Tom Leonard / 12 Jun 2009

The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature. Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area. The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint. Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country. Mr Kildee said he will concentrate on 50 cities, identified in a recent study by the Brookings Institution, an influential Washington think-tank, as potentially needing to shrink substantially to cope with their declining fortunes. Most are former industrial cities in the “rust belt” of America’s Mid-West and North East. They include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis.

In Detroit, shattered by the woes of the US car industry, there are already plans to split it into a collection of small urban centres separated from each other by countryside. “The real question is not whether these cities shrink – we’re all shrinking – but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way,” said Mr Kildee. “Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity.” Karina Pallagst, director of the Shrinking Cities in a Global Perspective programme at the University of California, Berkeley, said there was “both a cultural and political taboo” about admitting decline in America. “Places like Flint have hit rock bottom. They’re at the point where it’s better to start knocking a lot of buildings down,” she said.

Flint, sixty miles north of Detroit, was the original home of General Motors. The car giant once employed 79,000 local people but that figure has shrunk to around 8,000. Unemployment is now approaching 20 per cent and the total population has almost halved to 110,000. The exodus – particularly of young people – coupled with the consequent collapse in property prices, has left street after street in sections of the city almost entirely abandoned. In the city centre, the once grand Durant Hotel – named after William Durant, GM’s founder – is a symbol of the city’s decline, said Mr Kildee. The large building has been empty since 1973, roughly when Flint’s decline began.

Regarded as a model city in the motor industry’s boom years, Flint may once again be emulated, though for very different reasons.
But Mr Kildee, who has lived there nearly all his life, said he had first to overcome a deeply ingrained American cultural mindset that “big is good” and that cities should sprawl – Flint covers 34 square miles. He said: “The obsession with growth is sadly a very American thing. Across the US, there’s an assumption that all development is good, that if communities are growing they are successful. If they’re shrinking, they’re failing.”


photo by James Griffioen

But some Flint dustcarts are collecting just one rubbish bag a week, roads are decaying, police are very understaffed and there were simply too few people to pay for services, he said. If the city didn’t downsize it will eventually go bankrupt, he added. Flint’s recovery efforts have been helped by a new state law passed a few years ago which allowed local governments to buy up empty properties very cheaply. They could then knock them down or sell them on to owners who will occupy them. The city wants to specialise in health and education services, both areas which cannot easily be relocated abroad.

The local authority has restored the city’s attractive but formerly deserted centre but has pulled down 1,100 abandoned homes in outlying areas. Mr Kildee estimated another 3,000 needed to be demolished, although the city boundaries will remain the same. Already, some streets peter out into woods or meadows, no trace remaining of the homes that once stood there. Choosing which areas to knock down will be delicate but many of them were already obvious, he said. The city is buying up houses in more affluent areas to offer people in neighbourhoods it wants to demolish. Nobody will be forced to move, said Mr Kildee. “Much of the land will be given back to nature. People will enjoy living near a forest or meadow,” he said. Mr Kildee acknowledged that some fellow Americans considered his solution “defeatist” but he insisted it was “no more defeatist than pruning an overgrown tree so it can bear fruit again”.

CONTACT
Daniel Kildee
http://www.co.genesee.mi.us/treasurer/intro.html
email : dkildee [at] sbcglobal [dot] net

‘FOOD DESERT’
http://www.guernicamag.com/spotlight/1182/food_among_the_ruins/
Food Among the Ruins
BY Mark Dowie / August 2009

Detroit, the country’s most depressed metropolis, has zero produce-carrying grocery chains. It also has open land, fertile soil, ample water, and the ingredients to reinvent itself from Motor City to urban farm. Were I an aspiring farmer in search of fertile land to buy and plow, I would seriously consider moving to Detroit. There is open land, fertile soil, ample water, willing labor, and a desperate demand for decent food. And there is plenty of community will behind the idea of turning the capital of American industry into an agrarian paradise. In fact, of all the cities in the world, Detroit may be best positioned to become the world’s first one hundred percent food self-sufficient city.

Right now, Detroit is as close as any city in America to becoming a food desert, not just another metropolis like Chicago, Philadelphia, or Cleveland with a bunch of small- and medium-sized food deserts scattered about, but nearly a full-scale, citywide food desert. (A food desert is defined by those who study them as a locality from which healthy food is more than twice as far away as unhealthy food, or where the distance to a bag of potato chips is half the distance to a head of lettuce.) About 80 percent of the residents of Detroit buy their food at the one thousand convenience stores, party stores, liquor stores, and gas stations in the city. There is such a dire shortage of protein in the city that Glemie Dean Beasley, a seventy-year-old retired truck driver, is able to augment his Social Security by selling raccoon carcasses (twelve dollars a piece, serves a family of four) from animals he has treed and shot at undisclosed hunting grounds around the city. Pelts are ten dollars each. Pheasants are also abundant in the city and are occasionally harvested for dinner.

Detroiters who live close enough to suburban borders to find nearby groceries carrying fresh fruit, meat, and vegetables are a small minority of the population. The health consequences of food deserts are obvious and dire. Diabetes, heart failure, hypertension, and obesity are chronic in Detroit, and life expectancy is measurably lower than in any American city.


photo by James Griffioen

Not so long ago, there were five produce-carrying grocery chains—Kroger, A&P, Farmer Jack, Wrigley, and Meijer—competing vigorously for the Detroit food market. Today there are none. Nor is there a single WalMart or Costco in the city. Specialty grocer Trader Joe’s just turned down an attractive offer to open an outlet in relatively safe and prosperous midtown Detroit; a rapidly declining population of chronically poor consumers is not what any retailer is after. High employee turnover, loss from theft, and cost of security are also cited by chains as reasons to leave or avoid Detroit. So it is unlikely grocers will ever return, despite the tireless flirtations of City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Michigan Food and Beverage Association. There is a fabulous once-a-week market, the largest of its kind in the country, on the east side that offers a wide array of fresh meat, eggs, fruit, and vegetables. But most people I saw there on an early April Saturday arrived in well polished SUVs from the suburbs. So despite the Eastern Market, in-city Detroiters are still left with the challenge of finding new ways to feed themselves a healthy meal.

One obvious solution is to grow their own, and the urban backyard garden boom that is sweeping the nation has caught hold in Detroit, particularly in neighborhoods recently settled by immigrants from agrarian cultures of Laos and Bangladesh, who are almost certain to become major players in an agrarian Detroit. Add to that the five hundred or so twenty-by-twenty-foot community plots and a handful of three- to ten-acre farms cultured by church and non-profit groups, and during its four-month growing season, Detroit is producing somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of its food supply inside city limits—more than most American cities, but nowhere near enough to allay the food desert problem. About 3 percent of the groceries sold at the Eastern Market are homegrown; the rest are brought into Detroit by a handful of peri-urban farmers and about one hundred and fifty freelance food dealers who buy their produce from Michigan farms between thirty and one hundred miles from the city and truck it into the market.


photo by James Griffioen

There are more visionaries in Detroit than in most Rust-Belt cities, and thus more visions of a community rising from the ashes of a moribund industry to become, if not an urban paradise, something close to it. The most intriguing visionaries in Detroit, at least the ones who drew me to the city, were those who imagine growing food among the ruins—chard and tomatoes on vacant lots (there are over 103,000 in the city, sixty thousand owned by the city), orchards on former school grounds, mushrooms in open basements, fish in abandoned factories, hydroponics in bankrupt department stores, livestock grazing on former golf courses, high-rise farms in old hotels, vermiculture, permaculture, hydroponics, aquaponics, waving wheat where cars were once test-driven, and winter greens sprouting inside the frames of single-story bungalows stripped of their skin and re-sided with Plexiglas—a homemade greenhouse. Those are just a few of the agricultural technologies envisioned for the urban prairie Detroit has become.

There are also proposals on the mayor’s desk to rezone vast sections A-something (“A” for agriculture), and a proposed master plan that would move the few people residing in lonely, besotted neighborhoods into Detroit’s nine loosely defined villages and turn the rest of the city into open farmland. An American Institute of Architects panel concludes that all Detroit’s residents could fit comfortably in fifty square miles of land. Much of the remaining ninety square miles could be farmed. Were that to happen, and a substantial investment was made in greenhouses, vertical farms, and aquaponic systems, Detroit could be producing protein and fibre 365 days a year and soon become the first and only city in the world to produce close to 100 percent of its food supply within its city limits. No semis hauling groceries, no out-of-town truck farmers, no food dealers. And no chain stores need move back. Everything eaten in the city could be grown in the city and distributed to locally owned and operated stores and co-ops. I met no one in Detroit who believed that was impossible, but only a few who believed it would happen. It could, but not without a lot of political and community will.

There are a few cities in the world that grow and provide about half their total food supply within their urban and peri-urban regions—Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Havana, Cuba; Hanoi, Vietnam; Dakar, Senegal; Rosario, Argentina; Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines; and, my personal favorite, Cuenca, Equador—all of which have much longer growing seasons than Detroit. However, those cities evolved that way, almost unintentionally. They are, in fact, about where Detroit was agriculturally around one hundred and fifty years ago. Half of them will almost surely drop under 50 percent sufficiency within the next two decades as industry subsumes cultivated land to build factories (à la China). Because of its unique situation, Detroit could come close to being 100 percent self-sufficient.

First, the city lies on one hundred and forty square miles of former farmland. Manhattan, Boston, and San Francisco could be placed inside the borders of Detroit with room to spare, and the population is about the same as the smallest of those cities, San Francisco: eight hundred thousand. And that number is still declining from a high of two million in the mid-nineteen fifties. Demographers expect Detroit’s population to level off somewhere between five hundred thousand and six hundred thousand by 2025. Right now there is about forty square miles of unoccupied open land in the city, the area of San Francisco, and that landmass could be doubled by moving a few thousand people out of hazardous firetraps into affordable housing in the eight villages. As I drove around the city, I saw many full-sized blocks with one, two, or three houses on them, many already burned out and abandoned. The ones that weren’t would make splendid farmhouses.


photo by James Griffioen

As Detroit was built on rich agricultural land, the soil beneath the city is fertile and arable. Certainly some of it is contaminated with the wastes of heavy industry, but not so badly that it’s beyond remediation. In fact, phyto-remediation, using certain plants to remove toxic chemicals permanently from the soil, is already practiced in parts of the city. And some of the plants used for remediation can be readily converted to biofuels. Others can be safely fed to livestock.

Leading the way in Detroit’s soil remediation is Malik Yakini, owner of the Black Star Community Book Store and founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. Yakini and his colleagues begin the remediation process by removing abandoned house foundations and toxic debris from vacated industrial sites. Often that is all that need be done to begin farming. Throw a little compost on the ground, turn it in, sow some seeds, and water it. Water in Detroit is remarkably clean and plentiful.

Although Detroiters have been growing produce in the city since its days as an eighteenth-century French trading outpost, urban farming was given a major boost in the nineteen eighties by a network of African-American elders calling themselves the “Gardening Angels.” As migrants from the rural South, where many had worked as small farmers and field hands, they brought agrarian skills to vacant lots and abandoned industrial sites of the city, and set out to reconnect their descendants, children of asphalt, to the Earth, and teach them that useful work doesn’t necessarily mean getting a job in a factory.

Thirty years later, Detroit has an eclectic mix of agricultural systems, ranging from three-foot window boxes growing a few heads of lettuce to a large-scale farm run by The Catherine Ferguson Academy, a home and school for pregnant girls that not only produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but also raises chickens, geese, ducks, bees, rabbits, and milk goats.
Across town, Capuchin Brother Rick Samyn manages a garden that not only provides fresh fruits and vegetables to city soup kitchens, but also education to neighborhood children. There are about eighty smaller community gardens scattered about the city, more and more of them raising farm animals alongside the veggies. At the moment, domestic livestock is forbidden in the city, as are beehives. But the ordinance against them is generally ignored and the mayor’s office assures me that repeal of the bans are imminent.

About five hundred small plots have been created by an international organization called Urban Farming, founded by acclaimed songwriter Taja Sevelle. Realizing that Detroit was the most agriculturally promising of the fourteen cities in five countries where Urban Farming now exists, Sevelle moved herself and her organization’s headquarters there last year. Her goal is to triple the amount of land under cultivation in Detroit every year. All food grown by Urban Farming is given free to the poor. According to Urban Farming’s Detroit manager, Michael Travis, that won’t change.

Larger scale, for-profit farming is also on the drawing board. Financial services entrepreneur John Hantz has asked the city to let him farm a seventy-acre parcel he owns close to the Eastern Market. If that is approved and succeeds in producing food for the market, and profit for Hantz Farms, Hantz hopes to create more large-scale commercial farms around the city. Not everyone in Detroit’s agricultural community is happy with the scale or intentions of Hantz’s vision, but it seems certain to become part of the mix. And unemployed people will be put to work.

Any agro-economist will tell you that urban farming creates jobs. Even without local production, the food industry creates three dollars of job growth for every dollar spent on food—a larger multiplier effect than almost any other product or industry. Farm a city, and that figure jumps over five dollars. To a community with persistent two-digit unemployment, that number is manna. But that’s only one economic advantage of farming a city.

The average food product purchased in a U.S. chain store has traveled thirteen hundred miles, and about half of it has spoiled en route, despite the fact that it was bioengineered to withstand transport. The total mileage in a three-course American meal approaches twenty-five thousand. The food seems fresh because it has been refrigerated in transit, adding great expense and a huge carbon footprint to each item, and subtracting most of the minerals and vitamins that would still be there were the food grown close by.


photo by James Griffioen

I drove around the city one day with Dwight Vaughter and Gary Wozniak. A soft-spoken African American, Vaughter is CEO of SHAR, a self-help drug rehab program with about two hundred residents recovering from various addictions in an abandoned hospital. Wozniak, a bright, gregarious Polish American, who, unlike most of his fellow Poles, has stayed in Detroit, is the program’s financial director. Vaughter and Wozniak are trying to create a labor-intensive economic base for their program, with the conviction that farming and gardening are therapeutic. They have their eyes on two thousand acres in one of the worst sections of the city, not far from the Eastern Market. They estimate that there are about four thousand people still living in the area, most of them in houses that should have been condemned and razed years ago. There are also six churches in the section, offering some of the best ecclesiastical architecture in the city.

I tried to imagine what this weedy, decrepit, trash-ridden urban dead zone would look like under cultivation. First, I removed the overhead utilities and opened the sky a little. Then I tore up the useless grid of potholed streets and sidewalks and replaced them with a long winding road that would take vegetables to market and bring parishioners to church. I wrecked and removed most of the houses I saw, leaving a few that somehow held some charm and utility. Of course, I left the churches standing, as I did a solid red brick school, boarded up a decade ago when the student body dropped to a dozen or so bored and unstimulated deadbeats. It could be reopened as an urban ag-school, or SHAR’s residents could live there. I plowed and planted rows of every imaginable vegetable, created orchards and raised beds, set up beehives and built chicken coops, rabbit warrens, barns, and corrals for sheep, goats, and horses. And of course, I built sturdy hoop houses, rows of them, heated by burning methane from composting manure and ag-waste to keep frost from winter crops. The harvest was tended by former drug addicts who like so many before them found salvation in growing things that keep their brethren alive.

That afternoon I visited Grace Lee Boggs, a ninety-three-year-old Chinese-American widow who has been envisioning farms in Detroit for decades. Widow of legendary civil rights activist Jimmy Boggs, Grace preserves his legacy with the energy of ten activists. The main question on my mind as I climbed the steps to her modest east side home, now a center for community organizers, was whether or not Detroit possesses the community and political will to scale its agriculture up to 100 percent food self-sufficiency. Yes, Grace said to the former, and no to the latter. But she really didn’t believe that political will was that essential. “The food riots erupting around the world challenge us to rethink our whole approach to food,” she said, but as communities, not as bodies politic. “Today’s hunger crisis is rooted in the industrialized food system which destroys local food production and forces nations like Kenya, which only twenty-five years ago was food self-sufficient, to import 80 percent of its food because its productive land is being used by global corporations to grow flowers and luxury foods for export.” The same thing happened to Detroit, she says, which was once before a food self-sufficient community. I asked her whether the city government would support large-scale urban agriculture. “City government is irrelevant,” she answered. “Positive change, leaps forward in the evolution of humankind do not start with governments. They start right here in our living rooms and kitchens. We are the leaders we are looking for.”

All the decaying Rust-Belt cities in the American heartland have at one time or another imagined themselves transformed into some sort of exciting new post-industrial urban model. And some have begun the process of transformation. Now it’s Detroit’s turn, Boggs believes. It could follow the examples of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo, and become a slightly recovered metropolis, another pathetic industrial has-been still addicted to federal stimulus, marginal jobs, and the corporate food system. Or it could make a complete break and become, if not a paradise, well, at least a pretty good place to live.

Not everyone in Detroit is enthusiastic about farming. Many urbanites believe that structures of some sort or another belong on urban land. And a lot of those people just elected David Bing mayor of the city. Bing’s opponent, acting mayor Ken Cockrel, was committed to expanding urban agriculture in Detroit. Bing has not said he’s opposed to it, but his background as a successful automotive parts manufacturer will likely have him favoring a future that maintains the city’s primary nickname: Motor City.

And there remains a lasting sense of urbanity in Detroit. “This is a city, not a farm,” remarked one skeptic of urban farming. She’s right, of course. A city is more than a farm. But that’s what makes Detroit’s rural future exciting. Where else in the world can one find a one-hundred-and-forty-square-mile agricultural community with four major league sports teams, two good universities, the fifth largest art museum in the country, a world-class hospital, and headquarters of a now-global industry, that while faltering, stands ready to green their products and keep three million people in the rest of the country employed?

Despite big auto’s crash, “Detroit” is still synonymous with the industry. When people ask, “What will become of Detroit?” most of them still mean, “What will become of GM, Ford, and Chrysler?” If Detroit the city is to survive in any form, it should probably get past that question and begin searching for ways to put its most promising assets, land and people, to productive use again by becoming America’s first modern agrarian metropolis.

Contemporary Detroit gave new meaning to the word “wasteland.” It still stands as a monument to a form of land abuse that became endemic to industrial America—once-productive farmland, teaming with wildlife, was paved and poisoned for corporate imperatives. Now the city offers itself as an opportunity to restore some of its agrarian tradition, not fifty miles from downtown in the countryside where most of us believe that tradition was originally established, but a short bicycle ride away. American cities once grew much of their food within walking distance of most of their residents. In fact, in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, most early American cities, Detroit included, looked more like the English countryside, with a cluster of small villages interspersed with green open space. Eventually, farmers of the open space sold their land to developers and either retired or moved their farms out of cities, which were cut into grids and plastered with factories, shopping malls, and identical row houses.

Detroit now offers America a perfect place to redefine urban economics, moving away from the totally paved, heavy-industrial factory-town model to a resilient, holistic, economically diverse, self-sufficient, intensely green, rural/urban community—and in doing so become the first modern American city where agriculture, while perhaps not the largest, is the most vital industry.

DETROIT AS ENGLISH GARDEN
http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/07/0081594
Detroit arcadia: Exploring the post-American landscape
BY Rebecca Solnit / July 2007

Until recently there was a frieze around the lobby of the Hotel Pontchartrain in downtown Detroit, a naively charming painting of a forested lakefront landscape with Indians peeping out from behind the trees. The hotel was built on the site of Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, the old French garrison that three hundred years ago held a hundred or so pioneer families inside its walls while several thousand Ottawas and Hurons and Potawatomis went about their business outside, but the frieze evoked an era before even that rude structure was built in the lush woodlands of the place that was not yet Michigan or the United States. Scraped clear by glaciers during the last ice age, the landscape the French invaded was young, soggy, and densely forested. The river frontage that would become Detroit was probably mostly sugar maple and beech forest, with black ash or mixed hardwood swamps, a few patches of conifers, and the occasional expanse of what naturalists like to call wet prairie—grasslands you might not want to walk on. The Indians killed the trees by girdling them and planted corn in the clearings, but the wild rice they gathered and the fish and game they hunted were also important parts of their 
diet. One pioneer counted badger, bear, fisher, fox, mink, muskrat, porcupine, rabbit, raccoon, weasel, wildcat, wolf, and woodchuck among the local species, and cougar and deer could have been added to the list. The French would later recruit the Indians to trap beaver, which were plentiful in those once-riverine territories—détroit means “strait” or “narrows,” but in its thirty-two-mile journey from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie, the Detroit River also had several tributaries, including Parent’s Creek, which was later named Bloody Run after some newly arrived English soldiers managed to lose a fight they picked with the local Ottawas.

Fort Pontchartrain was never meant to be the center of a broad European settlement. It was a trading post, a garrison, and a strategic site in the scramble between the British and the French to dominate the North American interior. Cadillac, the ambitious Frenchman who established the fort in 1701, invited members of several Indian nations to surround the fort in order to facilitate more frequent trading, but this led to clashes not just between nations but between races. Unknown Indians set fire to Fort Pontchartrain in 1703, and the Fox skirmished there in 1712. After the English took over in 1760, deteriorating relations with the local tribes culminated in the three-year-long, nearly successful Ottawa uprising known as Pontiac’s Rebellion.

This is all ancient history, but it does foreshadow the racial conflicts that never went away in Detroit, though now white people constitute the majority who surround and resent the 83 percent black city. It’s as if the fort had been turned inside out—and, in fact, in the 1940s a six-foot-tall concrete wall was built along Eight Mile Road, which traces Detroit’s northern limits, to contain the growing African-American population. And this inversion exposes another paradox. North of Eight Mile, the mostly white suburbs seem conventional, and they may face the same doom as much of conventional suburban America if sprawl and 
auto-based civilization die off with oil shortages and economic decline. South of Eight Mile, though, Detroit is racing to a far less predictable future.

It is a remarkable city now, one in which the clock seems to be running backward as its buildings disappear and its population and economy decline. The second time I visited Detroit I tried to stay at the Pontchartrain, but the lobby was bisected by drywall, the mural seemed doomed, and the whole place was under some form of remodeling that resembled ruin, with puddles in the lobby and holes in the walls, few staff people, fewer guests, and strange grinding noises at odd hours. I checked out after one night because of the cold water coming out of the hot-water tap and the generally spooky feeling generated by trying to sleep in a 413-room high-rise hotel with almost no other guests. I was sad to see the frieze on its way out, but—still—as I have explored this city over the last few years, I have seen an oddly heartening new version of the landscape it portrays, a landscape that is not quite post-apocalyptic but that is strangely—and sometime even beautifully—post-American.

This continent has not seen a transformation like Detroit’s since the last days of the Maya. The city, once the fourth largest in the country, is now so depopulated that some stretches resemble the outlying farmland and others are altogether wild. Downtown still looks like a downtown, and all of those high-rise buildings still make an impressive skyline, but when you look closely at some of them, you can see trees growing out of the ledges and crevices, an invasive species from China known variously as the ghetto palm and the tree of heaven. Local wisdom has it that whenever a new building goes up, an older one will simply be abandoned, and the same rule applies to the blocks of new condos that have been dropped here and there among the ruins: why they were built in the first place in a city full of handsome old houses going to ruin has everything to do with the momentary whims of the real estate trade and nothing to do with the long-term survival of cities.

The transformation of the residential neighborhoods is more dramatic. On so many streets in so many neighborhoods, you see a house, a little shabby but well built and beautiful. Then another house. Then a few houses are missing, so thoroughly missing that no trace of foundation remains. Grass grows lushly, as though nothing had ever disturbed the pastoral verdure. Then there’s a house that’s charred and shattered, then a beautiful house, with gables and dormers and a porch, the kind of house a lot of Americans fantasize about owning. Then more green. This irregular pattern occurs mile after mile, through much of Detroit. You could be traveling down Wa bash Street on the west side of town or Pennsylvania or Fairview on the east side of town or around just about any part of the State Fair neighborhood on the city’s northern border. Between the half-erased neighborhoods are ruined factories, boarded-up warehouses, rows of storefronts bearing the traces of failed enterprise, and occasional solid blocks of new town houses that look as though they had been dropped in by helicopter. In the bereft zones, solitary figures wander slowly, as though in no hurry to get from one abandoned zone to the next. Some areas have been stripped entirely, and a weedy version of nature is returning. Just about a third of Detroit, some forty square miles, has evolved past decrepitude into vacancy and prairie—an urban void nearly the size of San Francisco.

It was tales of these ruins that originally drew me to the city a few years ago. My first visit began somberly enough, as I contemplated the great neoclassical edifice of the train station, designed by the same architects and completed the same year as Grand Central station in Manhattan. Grand Central thrives; this broken building stands alone just beyond the grim silence of Michigan Avenue and only half a mile from the abandoned Tiger Stadium. Rings of cyclone fence forbid exploration. The last train left on January 5, 1988— the day before Epiphany. The building has been so thoroughly gutted that on sunny days the light seems to come through the upper stories as though through a cheese grater; there is little left but concrete and stone. All the windows are smashed out. The copper pipes and wires, I was told, were torn out by the scavengers who harvest material from abandoned buildings around the city and hasten their decay.

On another visit, I took a long walk down a sunken railroad spur that, in more prosperous times, had been used to move goods from one factory to another. A lot of effort had gone into making the long channel of brick and concrete about twenty feet below the gently undulating surface of Detroit, and it had been abandoned a long time. Lush greenery grew along the tracks and up the walls, which were like a museum of spray-can art from the 1980s and 1990s. The weeds and beer cans and strangely apposite graffiti decrying the 1993 passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement seemed to go on forever.

I took many pictures on my visits to Detroit, but back home they just looked like snapshots of abandoned Nebraska farmhouses or small towns farther west on the Great Plains. Sometimes a burned-out house would stand next to a carefully tended twin, a monument to random fate; sometimes the rectilinear nature of city planning was barely perceptible, just the slightest traces of a grid fading into grassy fields accented with the occasional fire hydrant. One day after a brief thunderstorm, when the rain had cleared away and chunky white clouds dotted the sky, I wandered into a neighborhood, or rather a former neighborhood, of at least a dozen square blocks where trees of heaven waved their branches in the balmy air. Approximately one tattered charred house still stood per block. I could hear the buzzing of crickets or cicadas, and I felt as if I had traveled a thousand years into the future.


photo by James Griffioen

To say that much of Detroit is 
ruins is, of course, to say that some of it isn’t. There are stretches of Detroit that look like anywhere in the U.S.A.—blocks of town houses and new condos, a flush of gentility spreading around the Detroit Institute of Arts, a few older neighborhoods where everything is fine. If Detroit has become a fortress of urban poverty surrounded by suburban affluence, the city’s waterfront downtown has become something of a fortress within a fortress, with a convention center, a new ballpark, a new headquarters for General Motors, and a handful of casinos that were supposed to be the city’s economic salvation when they were built a decade ago. But that garrison will likely fend off time no better
than Fort Detroit or the
 Hotel Pontchartrain.

Detroit is wildly outdated, but it is not very old. It was a medium-size city that boomed in the first quarter of the twentieth century, became the “arsenal of democracy” in the second, spent the third in increasingly less gentle decline, and by the last quarter was a byword for urban decay, having made a complete arc in a single century. In 1900, Detroit had a quarter of a million people. By midcentury the population had reached nearly 2 million. In recent years, though, it has fallen below 900,000. Detroit is a cautionary tale about one-industry towns: it shrank the way the old boomtowns of the gold and silver rushes did, as though it had been mining automobiles and the veins ran dry, but most of those mining towns were meant to be ephemeral. People thought Detroit would go on forever.

Coleman Young, Detroit’s first African-American mayor, reigned from 1974 to 1993, the years that the change became irreversible and impossible to ignore, and in his autobiography he sounds like he is still in shock: “It’s mind-boggling to think that at mid-century Detroit was a city of close to two million and nearly everything beyond was covered with corn and cow patties. Forty years later, damn near every last white person in the city had moved to the old fields and pastures—1.4 frigging million of them. Think about that. There were 1,600,000 whites in Detroit after the war, and 1,400,000 of them left. By 1990, the city was just over a million, nearly eighty percent of it was black, and the suburbs had surpassed Detroit not only in population but in wealth, in commerce—even in basketball, for God’s sake.”

The Detroit Pistons are now based in Auburn Hills. According to the 2000 census, another 112,357 whites left the city in the 1990s, and 10,000 more people a year continue to leave. Even three hundred bodies a year are exhumed from the cemeteries and moved because some of the people who were once Detroiters or the children of Detroiters don’t think the city is good enough for their dead. Ford and General Motors, or what remains of them—most of the jobs were dispatched to other towns and nations long agoin trouble, too. Interestingly, in this city whose name is synonymous with the auto industry, more than a fifth of households have no cars.

“Detroit’s Future Is Looking Brighter,” said a headline in the Detroit Free Press, not long after another article outlined the catastrophes afflicting the whole state. In recent years, Michigan’s household income has dropped more than that of any other state, and more and more of its citizens are slipping below the poverty line. David Littmann, a senior economist for the Michigan think tank the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told the paper, “As the economy slows nationally, we’re going to sink much farther relative to the other states. We’ve only just begun. We’re going to see Michigan sink to levels that no one has 
ever seen.”

In another sense, the worst is over in Detroit. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city was falling apart, spectacularly and violently. Back then the annual pre-Halloween arson festival known as Devil’s Night finished off a lot of the abandoned buildings; it peaked in 1984 with 810 fires in the last three days of October. Some of the arson, a daughter of Detroit’s black bourgeoisie told me, was 
constructive—crackhouses being burned down by the neighbors; her own respectable aunt had torched one. Between 1978 and 1998, the city issued 9,000 building permits for new homes and 108,000 demolition permits, and quite a lot of structures were annihilated without official sanction.

Even Ford’s old Highland Park headquarters, where the Model T was born, is now just a shuttered series of dusty warehouses with tape on the windows and cyclone fences around the cracked pavement. Once upon a time, the plant was one of the wonders of the world—on a single day in 1925 it cranked out 9,000 cars, according to a sign I saw under a tree next to the empty buildings. Detroit once made most of the cars on earth; now the entire United States makes not even one in ten. The new Model T Ford Plaza next door struck my traveling companion—who, like so many white people born in Detroit after the war, had mostly been raised elsewhere—as auspicious. But the mall was fronted by a mostly empty parking lot and anchored by a Payless ShoeSource, which to my mind did not portend an especially bright future.

When I came back, a year after my first tour, I stopped at the Detroit Institute of Arts to see the Diego Rivera mural commissioned in 1932 by Henry Ford’s son, Edsel. The museum is a vast Beaux-Arts warehouse—“the fifth-largest fine arts museum in the United States,” according to its promotional literature—and the fresco covered all four walls of the museum’s central courtyard. Rivera is said to have considered it his finest work.

It’s an odd masterpiece, a celebration of the River Rouge auto plant, which had succeeded the Highland Park factory as Ford’s industrial headquarters, painted by a Communist for the son of one of the richest capitalists in the world. The north and south walls are devoted to nearly life-size scenes in which the plant’s gray gears, belts, racks, and workbenches surge and swarm like some vast intestinal apparatus. The workers within might be subsidiary organs or might be lunch, as the whole churns to excrete a stream of black Fords.

Rivera created this vision when the city was reveling in the newfound supremacy of its megafactories, but Detroit had already reached its apex. Indeed, the River Rouge plant—then the largest factory complex in the world, employing more than 100,000 workers on a site two and a half times the size of New York City’s Central Park—was itself built in suburban Dearborn. In 1932, though, capitalists and Communists alike shared a belief that the most desirable form of human organization—indeed, the inevitable form—was not just industrial but this kind of industrial: a Fordist system of “rational” labor, of centralized production in blue-collar cities, of eternal prosperity in a stern gray land. Even the young Soviet Union looked up to Henry Ford.

But Detroit was building the machine that would help destroy not just this city but urban industrialism across the continent. Rivera painted, in a subsidiary all-gray panel in the lower right corner of the south wall, a line of slumped working men and women exiting the factory into what appears to be an endless parking lot full of Ford cars. It may not have looked that way in 1932, but a lot of the gray workers were going to buy those gray cars and drive right out of the gray city. The city-hating Ford said that he wanted every family in the world to have a Ford, and he priced them so that more and more families could. He also fantasized about a post-urban world in which workers would also farm, seasonally or part-time, but he did less to realize that vision. Private automobile ownership was a double blow against the density that is crucial to cities and urbanism and against the Fordist model of concentrated large-scale manufacture. Ford was sabotaging Detroit and then Fordism almost from the beginning; the city had blown up rapidly and would spend the next several decades simply disintegrating.

Detroit was always a rough town. When Rivera painted his fresco, the Depression had hit Detroit as hard as or harder than anywhere, and the unemployed were famished and desperate, desperate enough to march on the Ford Motor Company in the spring of 1932. It’s hard to say whether ferocity or desperation made the marchers fight their way through police with tear-gas guns and firemen with hoses going full bore the last stretch of the way to the River Rouge plant. Harry Bennett, the thug who ran Ford more or less the way Stalin was running the Soviet Union, arrived, and though he was immediately knocked out by a flying rock, the police began firing on the crowd, injuring dozens and killing five. The battle of the Hunger March or the huge public funeral afterward would’ve made a good mural.

No, it wasn’t cars alone that ruined Detroit. It was the whole improbable equation of the city in the first place, the “inherent contradictions.” The city was done in by deindustrialization, decentralization, the post–World War II spread of highways and freeways, government incentives to homeowners, and disinvestment in cities that aided and abetted large-scale white flight into the burgeoning suburbs of those years. Chunks of downtown Detroit were sacrificed early, in the postwar years, so that broad arterial freeways—the Edsel Freeway, the Chrysler Freeway—could bring commuters in from beyond city limits.

All of this was happening everywhere else too, of course. The manufacturing belt became the rust belt. Cleveland, Toledo, Buffalo, and other cities clustered around the Great Lakes were hit hard, and the shrinking stretched down to St. Louis and across to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Newark. Now that it has entered a second gilded age, no one seems to remember that New York was a snowballing disaster forty or fifty years ago. The old textile district south of Houston Street had emptied out so completely that in 1962 the City Club of New York published a report on it and other former commercial areas titled “The Wastelands of New York City.” San Francisco went the same way. It was a blue-collar port city until the waterfront dried up and the longshoremen faded away.

Then came the renaissance, but 
only for those cities reborn into more dematerialized economies. Vacant lots were filled in, old warehouses were turned into lofts or offices or replaced, downtowns became upscale chain outlets, janitors and cops became people who commuted in from downscale suburbs, and the children of that white flight came back to cities that were not exactly cities in the old sense. The new American cities trade in information, entertainment, tourism, software, finance. They are abstract. Even the souvenirs in these new economies often come from a sweatshop in China. The United States can be mapped as two zones now, a high-pressure zone of economic boom times and escalating real estate prices, and a low-
pressure zone, where housing might be the only thing that’s easy to come by.

This pattern will change, though. The forces that produced Detroit—the combination of bitter racism and single-industry failure—are anomalous, but the general recipe of deindustrialization, depopulation, and resource depletion will likely touch almost all the regions of the global north in the next century or two. Dresden was rebuilt, and so was Hiroshima, and so were the cities destroyed by natural forces—San Francisco and Mexico City and Tangshan—but Detroit will never be rebuilt as it was. It will be the first of many cities forced
to become altogether something else.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is in one of those flourishing parts of Detroit; it is expanding its 1927 building, and when I said goodbye to the Rivera mural and stepped outside into the autumn sunshine, workmen were installing slabs of marble on the building’s new facade. I noticed an apparently homeless dog sleeping below the scaffolding, and as I walked past, three plump white women teetered up to me hastily, all attention focused on the dog. “Do you have a cell phone?” the one topped by a froth of yellow hair shrilled. “Call the Humane Society!” I suggested that the dog was breathing fine and therefore was probably okay, and she looked at me as though I were a total idiot. “This is downtown Detroit,” she said, in a tone that made it clear the dog was in imminent peril from unspeakable forces, and that perhaps she was, I was, we all were.

I had been exploring an architectural-salvage shop near Rosa Parks Boulevard earlier that day, and when I asked the potbellied and weathered white man working there for his thoughts on the city, the tirade that followed was similarly vehement: Detroit, he insisted, had been wonderful—people used to dress up to go downtown, it had been the Paris of the Midwest!—and then it all went to hell. Those people destroyed it. My traveling companion suggested that maybe larger forces of deindustrialization might have had something to do with what happened to the city, but the man blankly rejected this analysis and continued on a tirade about “them” that wasn’t very careful about not being racist.

On the Web you can find a site, Stormfront White Nationalist Community, that is even more comfortable with this version of what happened to the city, and even less interested in macroeconomic forces like deindustrialization and globalization: “A huge non-White population, combined with annual arson attacks, bankruptcy, crime, and decay, have combined to make Detroit—once the USA’s leading automotive industrial center—
into a ruin comparable with those of the ancient civilizations—with the cause being identical: the replacement of the White population who built the city, with a new non-White population.” It could have been different. “In more civilized environs, these facilities might have easily been transformed into a manufacturing and assembly center for any number of industrial enterprises,” writes the anonymous author.

A few months before the diatribe in the salvage yard, I’d met a long-haired counterculture guy who also told me he was from Detroit, by which he, like so many others I’ve met, meant the suburbs of Detroit. When I asked him about the actual city, though, his face clenched like a fist. He recited the terrible things they would do to you if you ventured into the city, that they would tear you apart on the streets. He spoke not with the voice of a witness but with the authority of tradition handed down from an unknown and irrefutable source. The city was the infernal realm, the burning lands, the dragon’s lair at the center of a vast and protective suburban sprawl.

The most prominent piece of public art in Detroit is the giant blackened bronze arm and fist that serve as a monument to heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, who grew up there. If it were vertical it would look like a Black Power fist, but it’s slung from cables like some medieval battering ram waiting to be dragged up to the city walls.

Deindustrialization dealt Detroit a sucker punch, but the knockout may have been white flight—at least economically. Socially, it was a little more complex. One African-American woman who grew up there told me that white people seemed to think they were a great loss to the city they abandoned, “but we were glad to see them go and waved bye-bye.” She lived in Ann Arbor—the departure of the black middle class being yet another wrinkle in the racial narrative—but she was thinking of moving back, she said. If she had kids, raising them in a city where they wouldn’t be a minority had real appeal.

The fall of the paradise that was Detroit is often pinned on the riots of July 1967, what some there still refer to as the Detroit Uprising. But Detroit had a long history of race riots—there were vicious white-on-black riots in 1833, 1863, 1925, and 1943. And the idyll itself was unraveling long before 1967. Local 600 of the United Auto Workers broke with the union mainstream in 1951, sixteen years before the riots, to sue Ford over decentralization efforts already under way. They realized that their jobs were literally going south, to states and nations where labor wasn’t so organized and wages weren’t so high, back in the prehistoric era of “globalization.”

The popular story wasn’t about the caprices of capital, though; it was about the barbarism of blacks. In 1900, Detroit had an African-American population of 4,111. Then came the great migration, when masses of southern blacks traded Jim Crow for the industrialized promised land of the North. Conditions might have been better here than in the South, but Detroit was still a segregated city with a violently racist police department and a lot of white people ready to work hard to keep black people out of their neighborhoods. They failed in this attempt at segregation, and then they left. This is what created the blackest city in the United States, and figures from Joe Louis and Malcolm X to Rosa Parks and the bold left-wing Congressman John Conyers—who has represented much of the city since 1964—have made Detroit a center of activism and independent leadership for African Americans. It’s a black
 city, but it’s surrounded.

Surrounded, but inside that stockade of racial divide and urban decay are visionaries, and their visions are tender, hopeful, and green. Grace Lee Boggs, at ninety-one, has been politically active in the city for more than half a century. Born in Providence to Chinese immigrant parents, she got a Ph.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr in 1940 and was a classical Marxist when she married the labor organizer Jimmy Boggs, in 1953. That an Asian woman married to a black man could become a powerful force was just another wrinkle in the racial politics of Detroit. (They were together until Jimmy’s death, in 1993.) Indeed, her thinking evolved along with the radical politics of the city itself. During the 1960s, the Boggses were dismissive of Martin Luther King Jr. and ardent about Black Power, but as Grace acknowledged when we sat down together in her big shady house in the central city, “The Black Power movement, which was very powerful here, concentrated only on power and had no concept of the challenges that would face a black-powered administration.” When Coleman Young took over city hall, she said, he could start fixing racism in the police department and the fire department, “but when it came time to do something about Henry Ford and General Motors, he was helpless. We thought that all we had to do was transform the system, that all the problems were on the other side.”

As the years went by, the Boggses began to focus less on putting new people into existing power structures and more on redefining or dismantling the structures altogether. When she and Jimmy crusaded against Young’s plans to rebuild the city around casinos, they realized they had to come up with real alternatives, and they began to think about what a local, sustainable economy would look like. They had already begun to realize that Detroit’s lack of participation in the mainstream offered an opportunity to do everything differently—that instead of retreating back to a better relationship to capitalism, to industry, to the mainstream, the city could move forward, turn its liabilities into assets, and create an economy entirely apart from the transnational webs of corporations and petroleum. Jimmy Boggs described his alternative vision in a 1988 speech at the First Unitarian-Universalist Church of Detroit. “We have to get rid of the myth that there is something sacred about large-scale production for the national and international market,” he said. “We have to begin thinking of creating small enterprises which produce food, goods, and services for the local market, that is, for our communities and for our city. . . . In order to create these new enterprises, we need a view of our city which takes into consideration both the natural resources of our area and the existing and potential skills and talents of Detroiters.”

That was the vision, and it is only just starting to become a reality. “Now a lot of what you see is vacant lots,” Grace told me. “Most people see only disaster and the end of the world. On the other hand, artists in particular see the potential, the possibility of bringing the country back into the city, which is what we really need.” After all, the city is rich in open space and—with an official unemployment rate in the mid-teens—people with time on their hands. The land is fertile, too, and the visionaries are there.


photo by James Griffioen

In traversing Detroit, I saw a lot of signs that a greening was well under way, a sort of urban husbandry of the city’s already occurring return to nature. I heard the story of one old woman who had been the first African-American person on her block and is now, with her grandson, very nearly the last person of any race on that block. Having a city grow up around you is not an uncommon American experience, but having the countryside return is an eerier one. She made the best of it, though. The city sold her the surrounding lots for next to nothing, and she now raises much of her own food on them.

I also saw the lush three-acre Earth Works Garden, launched by Capuchin monks in 1999 and now growing organic produce for a local soup kitchen. I saw a 4-H garden in a fairly ravaged east-side neighborhood, and amid the utter abandonment of the west side, I saw the handsome tiled buildings of the Catherine Ferguson Academy for Young Women, a school for teenage mothers that opens on to a working farm, complete with apple orchard, horses, ducks, long rows of cauliflower and broccoli, and a red barn the girls built themselves. I met Ashley Atkinson, the young project manager for The Greening of Detroit, and heard about the hundred community gardens they support, and the thousands more food gardens that are not part of any network. The food they produce, Atkinson told me, provides food security for many Detroiters. “Urban farming, dollar for dollar, is the most effective change agent you can ever have in a community,” she said. Everywhere I went, I saw the rich soil of Detroit and the hard work of the gardeners bringing forth an abundant harvest any organic farmer would envy.

Everyone talks about green cities now, but the concrete results in affluent cities mostly involve curbside composting and tacking solar panels onto rooftops while residents continue to drive, to shop, to eat organic pears flown in from Argentina, to be part of the big machine of consumption and climate change. The free-range chickens and Priuses are great, but they alone aren’t adequate tools for creating a truly different society and ecology. The future, at least the sustainable one, the one in which we will survive, isn’t going to be invented by people who are happily surrendering selective bits and pieces of environmentally unsound privilege. It’s going to be made by those who had all that taken away from them or never had it in the first place.

After the Panic of 1893, Detroit’s left-wing Republican mayor encouraged his hungry citizens to plant vegetables in the city’s vacant lots and went down in history as Potato Patch Pingree. Something similar happened in Cuba when the Soviet Union collapsed and the island lost its subsidized oil and thereby its mechanized agriculture; through garden-scale semi-organic agriculture, Cubans clawed their way back to food security and got better food in the bargain. Nobody wants to live through a depression, and it is unfair, or at least deeply ironic, that black people in Detroit are being forced to undertake an experiment in utopian post-urbanism that appears to be uncomfortably similar to the sharecropping past their parents and grandparents sought to escape. There is no moral reason why they should do and be better than the rest of us—but there is a practical one. They have to. Detroit is where change is most urgent and therefore most viable. The rest of us will get there later, when necessity drives us too, and by that time Detroit may be the shining example we can look to, the post-industrial green city that was once the steel-gray capital of Fordist manufacturing.

Detroit is still beautiful, both in its stately decay and in its growing natural abundance. Indeed, one of the finest sights I saw on my walks around the city combined the two. It was a sudden flash on an already bright autumn day—a pair of wild pheasants, bursting from a lush row of vegetables and flying over a cyclone fence toward a burned-out building across the street. It was an improbable flight in many ways. Those pheasants, after all, were no more native to Detroit than are the trees of heaven growing in the skyscrapers downtown. And yet it is here, where European settlement began in the region, that we may be seeing the first signs of an unsettling of the very premises of colonial expansion, an unsettling that may bring a complex new human and natural ecology into being.

This is the most extreme and long-term hope Detroit offers us: the hope that we can reclaim what we paved over and poisoned, that nature will not punish us, that it will welcome us home—not with the landscape that was here when we arrived, perhaps, but with land that is alive, lush, and varied all the same. “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” was Shelley’s pivotal command in his portrait of magnificent ruins, but Detroit is far from a “shattered visage.” It is a harsh place of poverty, deprivation, and a fair amount of crime, but it is 
also a stronghold of possibility.

That Rivera mural, for instance. In 1932 the soil, the country, the wilderness, and agriculture represented the past; they should have appeared, if at all, below or behind the symbols of industry and urbanism, a prehistory from which the gleaming machine future emerged. But the big panels of workers inside the gray chasms of the River Rouge plant have above them huge nude figures—black, white, red, yellow, lounging on the bare earth. Rivera meant these figures to be emblematic of the North American races and meant their fistfuls of coal, sand, iron ore, and limestone to be the raw stuff of industrialism. To my eye, though, they look like deities waiting to reclaim the world, insistent on sensual contact with the land and confident of their triumph over and after the factory that lies below them like an inferno.

SPECTREVISION / OFFICE OF POPULAR HOLIDAYS
HEREBY FORMALLY RECOGNIZES : BEST THEME PARTY PROPOSAL 2009

1st EARTH BATTALION
http://www.firstearthbattalion.org/
http://www.neweartharmy.com/
http://www.firstearthbattalion.com/
http://www.firstearthbattalion.org/?q=node/9
http://www.firstearthbattalion.org/?q=taxonomy/term/3
http://www.firstearthbattalion.org/?q=taxonomy/term/4

COLLECTIBLE FIELD MANUAL
http://www.dareland.com/field_manual.pdf
http://arcturus.org/field_manual.pdf

ORIGINS
http://firstearthbattalion.com/frequently-asked-questions/what-is-the-first-earth-battalion-and-how-did-it-originate.php
What Is The First Earth Battalion And How Did It Originate?
BY Jim Channon  /  06 October 2009

Post Vietnam 1978 was a time when military morale and enrollment were at an all time low. During this period the U.S. Army needed to drastically shift approaches and prepare to defeat a vastly larger Soviet force in Europe. Army leaders called upon officers to develop needed creative approaches to dealing with this challenge. They were encouraged to fully explore the Army’s Be All That You Can Be philosophy. In response, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon created the First Earth Battalion, that collected new technologies to support a conceptual prototype of the soldier of the future. Channon was inspired by the human potential and advanced human performance movements and drew many of his ideas from these fields and from the time he spent at Esalen Institute. Many senior generals in the Army backed Channon because he was a bold example of what a young officer could do creatively. The word spread and other elements within the Army became more boldly involved in testing ideas that were on the edge. They came to call him the “lightening rod”. Like any endeavor that involves studying new ideas, some of the ideas panned out and others did not. The larger story is that the U.S. Army is one of the most creative organizations in the world and that it must continue to be so in order to deal with the radically different missions it must prepare for. Few people understand that reality because of the rigid prototype the media has created around military culture.

What Is Evolutionary Tactics?
Jim Channon delivered his ideas about the First Earth Battalion through his illustrated field manual, Evolutionary Tactics which offered a 21st Century vision of the soldier of the future. Evolutionary Tactics was published by the Army in 1978. The manual was modeled after the popular Whole Earth Catalog with illustrations of advanced human performance skills. It is credited with kick-starting a very creative surge of activity in the U.S. Army. Army commanders adopted the elements that served them. There was no one cookie-cutter solution. Original copies have become something of collector’s item. Since that time, tens of thousands of copies have been downloaded from the Internet by fans across the globe. The archetype used in the manual is the warrior monk … who is invincible in war but very persuasive in peace. We see this model in action in the middle east today.

Who Are “The Men Who Stare At Goats”?
The movie evolved from a book of the same title written by British satirical writer Jon Ronson. It stars four of the most creative minds in Hollywood today: George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges and Ewan McGregor. The title of the book and film is based on an experimental lab that once existed at Fort Bragg, NC where the military reportedly attempted to kill goats simply by staring at them. There were no corresponding approaches in Jim’s field manual. The highly anticipated film is due out in December 2009. The movie is a comedy, much of which is inspired by Jim Channon’s First Earth Battalion because it kick-started a very creative surge in the army. Channon is portrayed in the film by Jeff Bridge’s who plays the character Bill Django. The First Earth Battalion is known in the film as The New Earth Army a name Jim offered the producers who wanted the creative liberty of making comedy without any direct association with the actual Battalion scenarios. Though they both claim to be based on a true story, author Jon Ronson and screenwriter Peter Straughan took wide artistic license blurring the lines between fact and fiction in order to create a somewhat dark Hollywood comedy. Here are some important facts:
• Jim Channon was never discharged from the U.S. Army. He served in the U S Army as an infantry officer and creative spark-plug from 1962 to 1982 and was in Vietnam twice 65-66 and 70-71. During his time in Vietnam, he lost just one infantry soldier and never killed an innocent civilian. He was known for his ability to imagine and illustrate the future battlefield and its advanced applications.

Returning home from Vietnam, his goal was to find non-lethal and peaceful solutions to potentially change the shape of war as we know it and save lives in the process. His work in the military was highly respected as he was asked to present to large high ranking conferences with his most creative talents and launched a simulation and games program that is now funded at 50 million dollars a year.
• Channon retired from the military in 1982 and did not serve in Iraq. (Ronson speculated that the sound healing therapies detailed in Evolutionary Tactics evolved into torture techniques in Abu Graib or Guantanamo. This is total speculation since sounds have been used since the beginning of armed struggle to influence moral or frighten the enemy.

Was The First Earth Battalion A Secret Paranormal Force In The U.S. Military?
No. The Earth Battalion has acted like a think-tank collecting and reviewing advanced human performance skills from all disciplines and it still does. It was never secret although some of the spin-off ideas may have became secret once tested (such as remote viewing.) The think-tank is still active and provides advanced human performance solutions for soldiers planet-wide. It is supported by Jim’s retirement pay and has dozens of other volunteer military thinkers as part of the brain trust. Paranormal sensibilities possessed by soldiers can increase survival rates on the modern and very complex battlefield. The goal is to create more situationally-aware combatants with a more advanced understanding of threats, allowing for peaceful incursions into dangerous areas and sparing the lives of civilians.

Optimal Futurist
Most futurists today tend to be people who communicate about what might happen in the next few years. Visionaries tend to cast images about possibilities that seem far ranging. What he does is interview leaders and scan the planet for things that are working now. Then he upgrades their potential and bundles them into socially attractive settings. So, then they become strategies that are describable and organized graphically so people may actually get at the business of creating and even constructing them. Walt Disney created the word imagineer to make the connection between visionaries and engineers. To some extent his graphics talents allow him to illustrate things that can be constructed because they are drawn in 3D. He uses a personally created advanced visual language to get this done. If you view his over 70 videos on youtube.com you will see the graphics and storywork live.

His real gift is that he has scanned the social architecture of the earth and has created bundled solutions for many parts of the coming world. His focus is on qualities of life assembled in beautiful settings. He has interviewed over 2000 leaders on their ideas of a future with a higher purpose. Those ideas have been assembled in PROJECT EARTHRISE that he created with the fellows at the World Business Academy. They are ideas projected 100 years out. We believe he may be more fluent in long range futures than anyone alive at the moment. He has an extra-ordinary set of skills.

Where Are Members Today?
Not surprisingly many original members remain actively involved in planetary affairs. Jim Channon lives in Hawaii on an eco-homestead and has pioneered a wide range of evolutionary ideas for living. Jim is still actively engaged in envisioning the global militaries of the world coming together as a New Earth Army to deal with environmental and social problems of the future. He calls this endeavor Operation Noble Steward and has written about on his website and discussed it in his many You Tube videos. John Alexander, the father of non-lethal weapons has just completed a major analysis of Africa and has written two books on the future of warfare. His character in the film is played more or less by the George Clooney role although there are few direct correspondences since the comedy writer needed all the creative license he could get. John’s book, The Warrior’s Edge, provided an accurate description of many of his projects that explored phenomenology. Still exploring, he currently serves as a council member of the Society for Scientific Exploration [http://www.scientificexploration.org/] and the board of directors of the International Remote Viewers’s Association [www-irva.org]. Major General Bert Stubblebine is developing a sustainable community in Panama and raising global awareness about questionable medical practices created by large pharmaceutical companies involved in Codex. Most of the 130 some odd members of the Army’s original think-tank called Task Force Delta (where these ideas were spawned) have gone on to positions of meaningful social responsibility and other future-based technologies.

GOAT LAB
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/11/psychic-spies-acid-guinea-pigs-new-age-gis-the-true-men-who-stare-at-goats/
Psychic Spies, Acid Guinea Pigs, New Age Soldiers: the True Men Who Stare at Goats
BY David Hambling  /  November 6, 2009

“More of this is true than you would believe,” we’re told, just a few minutes into the movie version of The Men Who Stare At Goats, which opens today. But how many of the film’s outlandish military research projects really happened? Turns out there’s plenty of material in the movie which sticks quite close to the truth — though reality is a bit more complicated. (Warning: minor spoilers ahead.)

Psychic spies? True. The non-fiction book which serves as the movie’s basis features Colonel John B. Alexander. He served as a Special Forces commander in Vietnam and spent decades promoting the use of psychics and “remote viewers” for national security. (That is, when he wasn’t pursuing his interests in -linguistic programming, UFOs, or non-lethal weapons.) In 2007, our own Sharon Weinberger interviewed Col. Alexander in some depth on the military use of witches. “They were doing palmistry, crystal ball kinds of stuff,” he said. Danger Room also noted Col. Alexander’s long-running feud with Armen Victorian (alias Henry Azadehdel, alias Habib Azadehdel, alias Cassava N’tumba and others), orchid smuggler, conspiracy theorist and all-round spooky character in the intelligence world.

Moving into the further reaches of the fringe we find earlier work, such as Boeing’s 60’s psychic experiments which concluded that certain subjects could force a random number generator to produce a specific number by sheer willpower. By 1985 an Army report declared that “psychokinesis could, with continued research, have a potential military value for future military operations ” and as recently as 1996 the phenomenon of eyeless vision was being investigated. Military psychics may still be in business: a 2007 report suggested that the 9/11 attacks had been predicted some years beforehand by Remote Viewers. In the post-9/11 world where every option seemed worth exploring, it’s not implausible that some psychic spies were reactivated.

Drug experimentation? True. Troops were doused with everything from concentrated cannabis oil to LSD — at times, without their knowledge. Researchers would watch as servicemen would then “carry on conversations with various invisible people for as long as 2-3 days.” The CIA was so enamored of acid, the agency had to issue a memo instructing that the punch bowls at office Christmas parties were not to be spiked.

Hippie Army? True. Lt. Col. Jim Channon dove deep into the New Age movement, and came back to the military with a most alternative view of warfare — one in which troops would carry flowers and symbolic animals into battle. In the movie, Channon is played by Jeff Bridges. His First Earth Battalion is renamed the “New Earth Army.” But the ideas are the same. Much of the artwork from the New Earth manual is lifted straight from the Channon original.

Channon has been taking advantage of the publicity for his cause; this week he has a column in the Guardian newspaper, suggesting (among other things) that armies should be used for reforestation and navies to control over-fishing. The military’s interest in Eastern and alternative practices is once again on the rise. “Warrior mind training“, apparently based on ancient Samurai techniques, is being taught at Camp Lejeune as a possible treatment for PTSD. Elsewhere the Army has a $4 million initiative exploring other approaches including Reiki, transcendental meditation and “bioenergy.” The Air Force is looking into acupuncture for battlefield pain relief.

Sound weapons? True. Unpleasant sounds and repetitive music — including the Barney theme — have been used as real-life psychological warfare and interrogation techniques. (Some of the bands involved have been less than happy about it.) Repetitive music takes a long time to be effective, but loud, discordant noise is becoming more common as a method of dispersing crowds. Danger Room’s David Axe was a test subject for the LRAD sonic blaster and reported “It was like having a hundred nagging girlfriends in my brain screaming at me”, while Sharon Weinberger tried the Inferno blaster and experienced “the most unbearable, gut-wrenching noise I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Killing animals with telepathy? False. The most outrageous claims in the movie (and book) is that military psychics could kill goats by looking at them. Even John Alexander says this isn’t true.  “As I told Jon Ronson when the book first came out, Alexander writes, ‘He [one of the soldiers] hit the goat.’” Goats are the one of the preferred substitutes for human targets in military testing, and there are rumors of lethal goat-zapping experiments with the Active Denial System. Special operations Command use them for training battlefield medicine – first shoot your (anesthetised) goat —  a practice which is still controversial.

In her review of the movie, Col Alexander’s wife mentions that in real life her husband can disperse clouds by looking at them — “It certainly helped during our cruise to Antarctica!” – but asserts that he has never used his powers to kill a goat. (Look at time lapse photography of clouds and cloud-busting becomes less impressive). Psychics are notoriously prone to believing in their own powers and are often convinced that experiments have proven their abilities when the results have been equivocal. In the Guardian, Dr. Phillip Sponenberg suggests that mytonic or fainting goats plus little self-deception may be behind the supposed success of the goat-staring experiment.

However, as the First Earth Battalion’s manual makes clear, winning the psychological battle is a big part of the struggle. If your opponent believes that you can kill them with a look, then they are already half-way to being defeated. And many martial arts masters know that by overawing their students with displays that might be described as trickery, they can convince them of the value of their discipline. So it might be best not to take everything quite at face value, as Jon Ronson does in the book and Ewan Mcgregor does in the movie. Or maybe they really can kill goats with a look.


Crazy Rulers Of The World (BBC 2004)

SPOILER ALERT
http://www.firstearthbattalion.org/?q=node/96
A viewers guide to the Goats movie TRUE OR FALSE
BY John B. Alexander  /  U.S. Army (retired)  /  11.06.2009

The movie, The Men Who Stare at Goats, is based on a book of the same title. While listed as nonfiction, the facts were extrapolated almost beyond recognition. The people in the book were listed by their real names. I was named many times. While some Special Forces units experimented with various techniques, the vast majority of the incidents came from one of two other sources. Formal psi research programs were conducted in the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). There was also a unique think tank called Task Force Delta at Headquarters Department of the Army and later at the Army War College. Delta was arguably the most innovative organization in the world. With support of senior leadership, we were consciously pushing the envelope. It should be noted that all of the explorations undertaken were done based on solid rationale.

Facts and Fiction
– The First Earth Battalion (1EB) was created by Lt. Col. Jim Channon, a brilliant imaginer and artist. He literally owns the First Earth Battalion concept.
– The 1EB was never an authorized military unit of the U.S. Army
– The 1EB was a notional concept that encouraged/allowed people to think innovatively, yet within a military construct
– The New Earth Battalion is a movie version of 1EB
– Most of the movie characters are based on real people – though some are composites
– The Kevin Spacey character seems to be made up for movie purposes
– Senior officer with ponytail (Jeff Bridges) NOT REAL
– Remote Viewing – REAL- and was a 20 year official program
– Use of Remote Viewing in Gen Dozier kidnapping by Red Brigade – REAL
– Concern about Soviet psychic research – REAL
– JEDI projects – REAL – but ad hoc (I had one of them with multi-agencies)
– Spoon bending – REAL – was taught to hundreds
– Cloud busting –REAL – though never as fast as done by Clooney
– Computer crashing – REAL – incident did happen
– Fire walking -REAL
– New Age exploration – REAL
– Running into walls – NOT REAL (is the opening scene of the movie)
– Use of LSD – not only NO, BUT HELL NO
– Hamster staring –ATTEMPTED – by Guy Savelli (a civilian martial artist)
– Goat Lab – REAL – used to train medics
– Goats – Hit by martial artists – It did die hours later
– Goats – Staring – no credible evidence to support this allegation
– Dim mak – PROBABLY REAL – supported by physical evidence
– References to a hollow army –REAL – post Vietnam was a traumatic period

Pushing The Envelope
’“If everything you’re attempting is successful, you are nowhere close to the edge!”

THE U.S. MILITARY AND CREATIVITY
http://www.firstearthbattalion.org/?q=node/44
The U.S. Military and Creativity
BY John B. Alexander, Ph.D.  /  10.26.2008

“Colonel John Alexander was an original member of the Earth Battalion and served in many interesting paranormal scouting efforts. Eventually he headed up the non-lethal weapons world for the Army. He continues to be a trusted thinker and solid communicator to the Defense world about many of the gifts created by the members of this circle of pioneers. Thanks for this outstanding coverage of much of the Battalions near legendary works.” -Jim Channon

=================================================

The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) lists four core values: Integrity, Courage, Competency, and Creativity. In 2006, as a senior fellow at the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), I drafted a monograph addressing creativity as it applied to Special Operations Forces (SOF).* Indeed, SOF elements pride themselves their ability to quickly adapt to rapidly changing, and often extremely dangerous situations, and rightfully so. Of concern to me was not the myriad of operations successfully conducted by small units. Rather, it was that problems emerge when large organizations, such as USSOCOM, attempt to institutionalize creativity. To quote on young U.S. Army Special Forces officer I encountered in Timbuktu, “Creativity is directly proportional to the distance from the flag pole.”

Having been involved in many creative projects during my 32 years in the United States military, and observing the Army’s responses to them, my objective was to point out that creativity is much easier to say, than it is to execute in large organizations. Almost invariably, as creative projects gain increased visibility, the more traditional values of the large system come in conflict. When that happens, steps are taken to eliminate the creative project.

In the monograph I addressed seven such innovative Army projects as well as several from the other services. (No service, organization, or individual has a corner on creativity.) The Army projects addressed were all successful, yet all were terminated as opposition from conventional sources rose. One of those projects, the Army’s Organizational Effectiveness program, was probably the largest institutional transformation project ever undertaken by any organization.

The monograph covered several projects, including remote viewing, that run counter to conventional scientific wisdom. Despite theoretical arguments about the fundamental causation, an operational capability was developed. However, because of the perceived controversial nature of some of the material, including remote viewing, an executive decision was made that the monograph would not be published by a U.S. Government organization. Based on my agreement with JSOU, I am free to publish that material in other sources. The monograph will be done in its entirety in book form at a later date.

Given the recent development of the inept and highly fictionalized book, Men Who Stare at Goats, as a movie, it was determined it would be useful to present a more accurate picture of the history surrounding some of those projects. While the book tends to present the material in a ridiculing and somewhat humorous manner, these projects were both successful and developed with a lot of serious thought behind them. Both Jim Channon and I are covered extensively in the book, for which even the title is misleading. (While there was a goat involved, it was physically hit by a martial arts instructor.) This article will present material that provides background on two of the seven projects. One lesser-known project, called Task Force Delta, was closely related to Jim Channon’s legendary and boundary-breaking work on The First Earth Battalion.** In a large part, it was we, the members of Task Force Delta, who initially helped spread the about Jim Channon’s creative endeavor.

Appendix B
Task Force Delta
‘Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.’ -William Plomer

The early 1980s military think tank called Task Force Delta was an extremely creative organization dedicated to exploring concepts of high performance. It is unlikely that any military unit has ever been as cost-effective. General Don Starry actuated the concept when he was the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) commander (1977-1981). He was familiar with James Grier Miller’s Living Systems theory, which was just emerging at that time. This theory posited that all living systems, no matter what size or complexity, had three main functions. Those were input, throughput, and output and they applied from unicellular life, such as ameba, through large social organizations including the U.S. Army.

General Starry believed that systems theory offered lessons that would be beneficial to the Army’s development and the future challenges that it would face. Initially Colonel Mike Malone, a respected leadership and systems theory expert, directed the evolution of the organization. With Malone’s retirement, the Task Force Delta think tank soon moved to the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Then Lieutenant Colonel Bill Witt provided leadership while waiting for the permanent director to be transferred from the Army Chief of Staff office. Lieutenant Colonel Frank Burns, an OE officer for General Meyer, became the director and remained there until the unit was abolished. All of those directors possessed inquisitive minds and a healthy understanding of emerging systems theory.

The basis of the Task Force Delta think tank was an extremely small core group, supported by interested people, all of whom worked in other organizations. The entire staff consisted of one lieutenant colonel, one civilian equivalent, and three administrative personnel. Participation by other people was on a totally voluntary basis. Frank Burns cast a wide net both inside the Army and in the civilian sector looking for people with innovative ideas and concepts they could contribute. Meetings were held quarterly, and most participants had to secure their own funding. Even many civilians with no other affiliation with the Army attended at their own expense. The meetings were so mentally stimulating that members rarely missed a session.

Some sessions could best be described as data gathering and mental cross-pollination. Presentations on a wide range of topics would be arranged. For many of the civilians it was a unique opportunity to provide ideas directly to an Army audience that was open to new ideas. Some noted their frustration at previous attempts to beat on the Army’s front door only to find that most offices were just too busy to listen. In those times, fighting fires was the theme of the day.

More important than the formal sessions was the ability to network with bright, innovative people. It was not uncommon for informal gatherings to go on late into the night, sometimes at the expense of nodding off the next day. That really did not matter. Also significant were the interpersonal contacts that routinely assisted participants in their regular assignments back at home station. Many deep bonds were formed. In fact, a substantial number of these relationships continue today, nearly 25 years later and long after the official demise of the Task Force Delta think tank.

On occasion, tasks would be assigned to the members attending the Task Force Delta think tank meetings. An example is when Lieutenant General Max Thurman, then Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, asked the group to explore all aspects of future Army personnel issues. The topics ranged from recruiting and retention to professional education, health and welfare, leadership principles, organizational structures and assignments, and emerging human capabilities. In response, meetings were conducted from Monday through Thursday noon. Initially plenary sessions occurred and later small, self-defined groups that discussed specific aspects of the personnel system. As with other meetings, these sessions tended to run through meals and late into the evening.

At noon on Thursday the discussions stopped, and the real work began. Each person decided what topic area they wanted to contribute to. A chapter outline was provided, and the teams went to work. Being very self-motivated, most people worked continuously throughout the night. When General Thurman arrived at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, he received a bound book containing the deliberations on all aspects of the personnel system and many suggestions about how to deal with future complex issues.

Two items are important to remember for this 1982 time: a) word processing, as it is commonly known today, did not exist and b) the think tank conference attendees were all volunteers. Nobody had a laptop computer, shared networks, or memory sticks. The physical requirements of producing a written document of that magnitude took tremendous effort. Nobody was graded on their input, nor would their efforts ever be reflected in personal efficiency reports. Some of the participants were civilians, whose only motivation was the excitement of being able to collaborate in a truly high performing organization and the possibility that somebody might read their concepts and recognize that it could be applied in the Army.

Obviously the book had not been edited, and chapter formats did not all match; that would come later. The success was definitively demonstrating the primary effort necessary to create such a complex document in a short period of time. The Task Force Delta think tank proved what systems theorists predicted about the possibilities that emerge when high performing organizations are tasked and then given permission to respond as they deem necessary.

The networking efforts went far beyond periodic meetings. The Task Force Delta think tank led the way in obtaining and initiating computer networks that were populated by regular people, not just techno-wizards. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, only a few researchers and innovative managers understood the potential power of computer networks. Malone envisioned a small organization that could be used to research the possibilities that emerging technology and networking provided by the think tank. At this time, personal computers were scarcely known. Yet many of the think tank members were given one to take home and use. Most of the communication was done during off-duty hours and transmitted at the rate of 600 baud, thus simple messages could take several minutes to download. In an age where 24 mega bits per second (Mbps) is attainable, communicating at such slow speeds is almost inconceivable.

While the Internet concept in 1980 was embryonic, the ability to network was considered extremely innovative. For the first time, the Task Force Delta think tank members demonstrated how to staff papers around the world in less than 24 hours. This ability was a dramatic improvement over the telecommunications of the day, or sending printouts via mail and taking weeks for coordination.

Following Malone’s initial guidance, the composition of the Task Force Delta think tank remained closely balanced. He insisted that organizational composition include what he termed both “bumblebees and butterflies.” In other words, as a counterweight to some pretty far out ideas, he wanted people with their feet planted firmly on the ground and an excellent sense for the realistic needs of the Army. As we were just coming out of the Vietnam War, virtually all of the Army officers involved had combat experience, which served well as a sobering reminder of the real world.

What the Task Force Delta think tank demonstrated was that high performing networks could provide significant advantages over traditional organizational communications. The financial costs were very small compared to the return of efforts provided from the vast volunteer network that addressed a myriad of tasks because they found it interesting. People worked extensively, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. Guidance was minimal and generally not necessary. Participants with difficult problems could have near instant access to a wide range of technical experts. As each scouted the burgeoning intellectual terrain, they reported back, often self-initiating new areas of inquiry. However, some traditional leaders viewed such intellectual freedom as a threat. Shortly thereafter, the Task Force Delta think tank was closed.

Appendix C
Origins of the First Earth Battalion
‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ -William Shakespeare, Hamlet

During the late 1970s and early 1980s one of the Army’s brightest and most futuristic thinkers was Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon. A military intelligence officer by training, Channon served 10 years in the Infantry, including an assignment as a platoon leader in Vietnam. He also had spent some time in Public Affairs. As such, he was even assigned the Army interface with Hollywood. During this period Channon initiated a scouting mission to explore the various emerging human potential movements that were burgeoning in California at the time. This effort was purely volitional and conducted mostly on his free time. In no way could his activities be construed as part of the domestic surveillance activities that later led to extreme difficulties for the military.6

Among his personal skills Channon was (and still is) a phenomenally gifted artist. He had an extraordinary ability to listen to people describe abstract concepts, then quickly transform those ideas into easily understandable graphics. In fact, some of the basic symbols and graphic designs used in the Army today originated with Channon over 25 years ago. His artistic ability and mental acuity were widely known by senior officers who often coveted his capabilities. Before Thurman briefed the U.S. Army senior leadership, he would always ask, “Where’s Jimmy?” Although assigned outside of the Pentagon, even on the West Coast, Channon would be summoned to quickly create the visual briefing materials. His renderings included a vast number of the normal overhead transparencies as well as his large-scale summaries called “monster-grams,” continuous charts that would cover many feet and could be taped to the walls of the briefing room. The state of the art in projection technology had not advanced to a degree anywhere close to what is available today.

Channon was also a key member of the Task Force Delta think tank and worked closely with Frank Burns and others in that circle. Therefore, he was one of the group who were seriously engaged in studying cultural transformation in the post-Vietnam era. As repeated attempts to convey transitional concepts in traditional briefing format failed, Channon realized that an innovative framework was required to help people fully understand the significance of these events. As with all organizations, especially old institutions, change is mightily resisted. The concept, he believed, had to be one that fostered free thinking, or what later became known as “out of the box” thinking.

The name First Earth Battalion literally appeared in his head during one of his many transcontinental flights. He terms this innovation as a “mystical hit.” The concept was to create a large catalogue of possibilities and display them graphically. At that time a book titled The Whole Earth Catalogue was selling widely in New Age circles. It contained pages and pages of new technologies, techniques, and materials from which the reader could choose. Similarly, Channon created the First Earth Battalion catalogue as a field manual, which was designed to provide readers a permissive-thinking platform. Channon now describes the Earth Battalion as protomythological—looking at the future while rooted in a historic framework (the battalion). The motto of the First Earth Battalion was dare to think the unthinkable. These words were taken in a positive sense, not the foreboding notion that meant massive death.

Channon’s drawings were done in black and white. Often they were sketchy and suggestive with limited text, and the concepts intentionally never were written out in detail. He wanted people to fill in the missing material for themselves. The concept was to get people to think, not to view the catalogue as a finished document, or worse, a total blueprint for an actual Army organization.

Many of the concepts were way beyond the understanding of traditional Army officers. For instance, exchanging soldiers and their families to populate critical targets in opposing countries was never seriously considered as a viable operational concept. Rather, by describing a conscience corps, Channon was focusing on the consequences in human terms should a nuclear exchange occur. In truth, many in the military had become rather cavalier when discussing nuclear strike capabilities. However impractical in reality the notion was, it did cause readers to think about the implications of nuclear strikes in a new and more personal light. He eventually bundled these ideas under what he called “combat for collective conscience.” As he predicted, global opinion today is shaped by the ethical judgments of the world that watches combat unfold.

Well before the current outpouring of concerns about global warming, Channon’s work had strong ecological preservation components. He envisioned energy conservation, recycling technologies, and reforestation as voluntary integrants of the military, not issues to be forced on posts through draconian legislation. In many areas Channon’s concepts were way ahead of their times; and he readily acknowledges the need for an incubation period, often years and maybe decades, before new ideas can be brought to fruition. As a further example, in a 1979 version of the First Earth Battalion, he already envisioned strategic micro forces—smaller units that could act decisively without requiring the massing of larger forces. In a way, he was describing what SOF has become but at a time when these elements were not as highly regarded as they are today.

Balance was an essential element in much of Channon’s work. In some areas the Army could easily accept his ideas. Physical fitness, albeit with lower impact on joints, was reasonable. He was a strong advocate of establishing and maintaining a healthy diet. New theories were emerging about how the brain functions and exercises to enhance cognitive capabilities. The use of previsualization before engaging in complex tasks was encouraged. Also advocated were ancient, and proven effective, meditation techniques.

Establishing a balance between mind and body seemed to resonate well in the Army. However, Channon’s notions of integrating spiritual concepts, especially ones that transcended national boundaries, were of more concern to some casual observers. In fact, the First Earth Battalion did suggest that individuals would operate in a global, not national, context and focused on planetary peace making. The acknowledgement of a tripartite balance of body, mind, and spirit is less well accepted within military circles. The concept of the warrior-monk has survived for millennia. However, in the U.S. Army, spiritual matters were generally left to the chaplains and seen as matters of personal choice. Channon, however, invoked the need for balance in all three domains, and did so unapologetically.

At the time Channon wrote the First Earth Battalion, General “Shy” Meyer was the U.S. Army Chief of Staff. As the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, he had inherited an Army that was in need of repair. Meyer’s efforts to rebuild the Army continued as he was selected over many more senior generals as one of the youngest Army Chiefs of Staff. Throughout his tenure Meyer strived to create an environment that permitted exploration. Channon viewed the publication of the First Earth Battalion, and its acceptance by many senior officers, as a mechanism for more junior officers to see that they had permission to think more freely.7

A limited number of original copies were made of the First Earth Battalion. Initially these 300 copies were circulated to selected members of Task Force Delta think tank. The draft annotation on the title page expressed the notion that this document was a living instrument. Demand for copies quickly grew as information about the script spread via word of mouth. Those officers holding originals began photocopying additional copies and handing them to friends. Channon notes that this was an intentional means of distribution as it created a mystique about the nature of the manuscript and gave it enhanced value. Many people who had only a vague notion of the Task Force Delta think tank wanted copies of the coveted First Earth Battalion. People who never would have normally read the paper did so because of the preternatural aura associated with owning a copy. The underground distribution technique probably ensured wider readership than it would have obtained had it been formally printed and officially sent out. The effectiveness of this scheme has been noted. Over the decades, photocopied versions of the original manuscript could be found with officers who were interested in future concepts. With the military today, a sub rosa element that circulates this document still exists.

Soon this somewhat mysterious concept was to escape beyond the bonds of the Army. Within a short time civilian media were asking Channon for information about the First Earth Battalion. In February 1982, a popular publication of the day, Omni Magazine, carried an article by that title. That was quickly followed by a Dateline segment on NBC that featured Lieutenant Colonel Channon discussing the inner workings of the notional organization. Despite prior approval of the Public Affairs Office at Fort Lewis, Washington, many senior officers in the “Big Army” were not happy seeing a lieutenant colonel pushing the conceptual envelope on national television.

Under-appreciated by a number of traditional-minded generals, Channon retired from the Army in September 1982. He retained the copyright for First Earth Battalion, and in recent years he has slightly updated the original publication by adding a colored cover. It is currently available on the Internet. In 2005 more than 10,000 copies were downloaded for free; printed copies are sold to those interested in that format. As testament to the efficacy of the notional concepts Channon brought to the Army, he successfully transitioned those same skills to the civilian sector. There, he has assisted a dozen of the world’s largest 100 companies (and many others) to envision their futures. He provides multidimensional graphics and storytelling magic that allow their employees to more fully comprehend, and be charged, by the company’s objectives.

In a recent interview, Channon noted many of the key aspects that led to the development of First Earth Battalion. At that time the Army depended heavily on formal written documents to convey structural information. Various field manuals and other official publications provided rather sterile, highly organized transfer mechanisms for technical information. Eschewed by the military, Channon opined, was transmission of the cultural information that engendered the soul of the organization. Like today, the late 1970s was a period of cultural transformation as the Army struggled to recover from the distasteful experience of Vietnam. To be successful, the change must be deeper than doctrine documents. Channon’s objective was to revitalize the Army he loved at a most visceral level.

Channon studied various religious rites of passage. Throughout history these rituals have evoked primal emotions, a very scary notion, even counterintuitive, for many staid military officers. He noted also the importance of symbology and ceremonies. True loyalty was not something obtained by a written or sworn oath. Rather deep and abiding loyalty comes from shared common experience, especially when endured in hardship. To communicate culture means establishing programs that produced many such shared experiences and often incorporated historical events of great importance to the organization. He noted that cultural transference through ceremonies has tended to be squeezed out by the exigencies of day-to-day business. The importance of this medium is still not fully understood.

Beyond the printed document, Channon embodied the essence of cultural transformation. He advocated and demonstrated the ability to simultaneously communicate complex, value-laden information on multiple channels simultaneously. Employing visual and auditory effects as well as orchestrated emotional stimuli, Channon’s techniques had the ability to initiate concordance in multisensory modes so that soldiers would integrate the Army’s values at a deep-seated, core level.

End Notes:
* Among the SOF elements are U.S. Army Rangers, U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Navy SEALS and Special Boat units, U.S. Air Force Air Commandos, and other specialized units.
** Note that Task Force Delta was an Innovate think tank that had no relationship with any other military organization using Delta In Its title.

{John Alexander currently lives In Las Vegas and, though retired, Is still active with several governmental and nongovernmental agencies.}

CONTACT
John Alexander
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_B._Alexander
email : nonlethal2 [at] aol [dot] com

http://www.scientificexploration.org/mission.html
http://www.irva.org/about/index.html
http://www.coasttocoastam.com/shows/2005/09
http://www.coasttocoastam.com/guest/alexander-col-john/5669
http://www.sunshine-project.org/incapacitants/azadehdel.html
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2007/05/weird_v_weirder/
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2007/06/dinner-with/

BIO
http://web.archive.org/web/20071223210937/http://www.nidsci.org/bios/alexander.php

“Dr. John Alexander has been a leading advocate for the development of non-lethal weapons since he created renewed interest in the field starting in 1989. An original thinker, he has developed other unique concepts for conflict that must remain undisclosed at this time. He entered the US Army as a private in 1956 and rose through the ranks to sergeant first class, attended OCS, and was a colonel of Infantry in 1988 when he retired. During his varied career, he held many key positions in special operations, intelligence, and research and development. From 1966 through early 1969 he commanded Special Forces A-Teams in Vietnam and Thailand. His last military assignment was as Director, Advanced Systems Concepts Office, US Army Laboratory Command. After retiring from the Army, Dr. Alexander joined Los Alamos National Laboratory where he was instrumental in developing the concept of Non-Lethal Defense. As a program manager, he conducted non-lethal warfare briefings at the highest levels of government including the White House Staff, National Security Council, Members of Congress, Director of Central Intelligence, and senior Defense officials. He also met with heads of industry, and presented at academic institutions, including Columbia, Harvard and MIT.

Dr. Alexander organized and chaired the first five major conferences on non-lethal warfare and served as a US delegate to four NATO studies on the topic. As a member of the Council on Foreign Relations non-lethal warfare study, he was instrumental in influencing the report that is credited with causing the Department of Defense to create a formal Non-Lethal Weapons Policy in July 1996. For several years, he has been a distinguished guest lecturer at the US Air Force Air University and participated in key war games when non-lethal weapons were first being considered. Dr. Alexander wrote the seminal articles on current non-lethal warfare.”

DIM MAK
http://www.firstearthbattalion.org/?q=node/89
Staring at Goats: The Rest of the Story
BY John B. Alexander  /  10.02.2009

There has been substantial derision associated with the book, The Men Who Stare at Goats, and the movie of the same name. However, information has recently come to light that suggests that the basic concept that led to the ignoble title was derived from a painful lesson in the U.S. Army Special Forces history. Specifically, it stems from the capture, and lengthy captivity, of then-Lieutenant James “Nick” Rowe in South Vietnam. For those who may not be familiar with him, Rowe is still considered a hero in Special Forces. Unfortunately, despite his legendary actions as a prisoner of war (POW) in Vietnam, he was assassinated by communist insurgents in Quezon City, in the Philippines on 21 April 1989. Almost presciently, now-Colonel Rowe had reported that he was second or third on the terrorist’s target list.

The basics of his capture and imprisonment are known. On 29 October 1963, LT Rowe, along with Captain Rocky Versace and team medic, Sergeant First Class Dan Pitzer, was taken as a POW near the village of Le Coeur in An Xuyen Province while advising a Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) unit. The team members were separated and later, in 1965, Rocky Versace was executed by the Viet Cong. He was last heard singing God Bless America at the top of his voice. It was based on reports of his continued resistance, that Versace was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2002.

Then, in December 1968, 62 months after falling into the hands of the Viet Cong, Rowe was rescued during an American air cavalry raid in the U-Minh Forest also known as the “forest of darkness.” The years in captivity were extremely harsh for Rowe. He repeatedly attempted to escape and was frequently subjected to torture and physical deprivation. Like Versace, he was also threatened with execution on several occasions. As the VC had grown tired of his continued resistance, Rowe was finally scheduled for execution at the end of December, just a few days after his fortuitous rescue. Even that event proved to be a close call as Rowe was nearly shot by the helicopter crews. Though clad in black pajamas, he was recognized as an American by his beard and scooped up.

Throughout his years in detention Rowe maintained a constant vigil and mental awareness of his surroundings. Though physically weakened, he tried many methods to gain an upper hand. For a long time he convinced the Viet Cong that he was an engineer who happened to be the war zone. Rowe was concealing the fact that he was a Special Forces intelligence officer and had access to information about camps across the Mekong Delta. It was only after some American peace-advocates went to North Vietnam and provided a complete list of names and units that his captors learned his true identity and that they had been fooled. Rowe paid a high price for that revelation, but he had successfully evaded being forced to provide useful information to the enemy. By the time the Viet Cong understood his importance, the information he had was too dated to be actionable.

After his recovery from serious diseases and extensive injuries, Rowe left the Army. Then, in 1981 he was recalled to active duty and went to Ft. Bragg where he became the director the Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) course.* The intent of that course was to prepare members of special operations forces, and other personnel conducting high risk missions, to be better prepared for the eventuality of being cut off from friendly forces or worse yet, captured. Obviously, it was Colonel Rowe’s personal experience in captivity that caused the senior leadership of the U.S. Army Special Forces to place him in that position of high responsibility.

Enter the goats. As mentioned, during his captivity Rowe tried a wide variety of techniques to assist in escape. Being the director of SERE, he had considerable latitude in exploration of unique measures that might be helpful for the students. Drawing on his background Rowe was determined to explore all options of techniques that might prove useful. To that end, he directed a senior NCO assigned to the school to track down information about dim mak, a relatively obscure martial arts skill known in English as the death touch. Dim mak defies conventional physiology. It is not a hard blow to a vital organ. Rather, it involves a relatively light strike that is designed to interrupt the flow of chi (or ki in the Japanese tradition) in such a manner that death follows several hours later. According to Chinese medicine philosophy, this life force, or chi, flows along meridians throughout the body and moderates all human functioning. This concept of chi is the basis for the Eastern medical practice of acupuncture, and while easily observable it is not commonly accepted by Western medicine practitioners.

Rowe was painfully aware of the physical degradation that follows captivity. He reasoned that almost all traditional martial arts techniques require too much physical exertion for most prisoners to execute effectively. His interests therefore, were in locating and pursuing techniques that could be employed by POWs while requiring minimum output of physical energy. (Are we still laughing?)

The NCO went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and worked with members of the combative skills course. There he was told about a civilian instructor by the name of Guy Savelli who professed some of these very advanced skills.

Savelli was contacted, his capabilities verified, and then he was brought to Ft. Bragg where he taught several students. As I told Jon Ronson when the book first came out, “He hit the goat.” At that time I thought it was Savelli who had executed the blow to the goat in question. In fact, it was this same senior NCO who had been trained by Savelli who hit the goat leading directly to its death several hours after that. It was the moderate physical energy expended combined with the delay in time of death that was the sought after outcome. It worked.

As I recorded in my first book, The Warrior’s Edge, I have seen the photos taken of the necropsy that show most remarkable physical damage to the goat. Specifically, there was a path of energy, not unlike what a bullet would produce while transiting a body, which ran across the chest cavity. The difference was that there was no wound of entrance or wound of exit. The NCO has recently confirmed those observations as well. That experiment may be the first tangible, albeit elusive, evidence that dim mak can produce physical results (death). Like this NCO, I trained with Savelli, but for a shorter period of time. That experience left little doubt that Savelli had mastered some very advanced martial arts skills and could teach them to others.

Rowe was not prepared to limit his inquiry to the physical impact of dim mak. Based on his extensive experience with his Viet Cong captors, he believed that they could be mentally influenced. The first objectives were relatively simple. Could a guard be made to look in a certain direction? Could the prisoner cause the guard to walk in a specified direction, or pause for a longer period of time? What were the limits of influence that could be applied by a prisoner?

While the answers to these questions remain obscured, there is some literature, mostly anecdotal, that supports the notion that remote influence is a distinct possibility. During my training in the Washington area, Savelli described to us a technique he called the mind stops. In it, he claimed that he could confront an adversary, and then he would maneuver himself behind that person without them being aware of his movement. This capability is not unique and has been reported by other researchers. One fairly well documented case is that of Wolf Messing, a German Jew who fled to the USSR at the beginning stages of World War II. His unusual mental skills attracted the attention of Stalin who arranged for a series of tests. During one dramatic demonstration he was able to pass by attentive guards and enter Stalin’s well-protected house. When questioned, the guards claimed that they had witnessed Lavrenti Beria, dreaded head of the NKVD, enter the premises, not Messing.

Another, more extreme, form of remote mental influence was reported by KGB defector, Major Nikolai Kokolov. Among other topics Kokolov reported on the extent of psychic research being conducted during the Cold War. In debriefings, he described the Soviet use of mental influencing to actually fracture the spinal columns of test subjects. Current readers may not be aware that lethal experimentation on humans was conducted in several subject areas. By the time he took over leadership of SERE, COL Rowe had access to that intelligence information as well as his personal experience with similar techniques to draw upon.

It is worth noting that beyond the anecdotes, there is scientific research has been conducted in the area of remote influencing. In its most basic form, prayer is a method of invoking remote intervention in one’s life, and there are many studies demonstrating the success of those techniques. Those are beyond the scope of this piece, but worth exploring to interested readers.

In addition to esoteric mental influence techniques, the SERE instructors explored more mundane and pragmatic approaches as well. Of particular interest were martial arts techniques in which the initial movements appeared normal and non-threatening. As an example, simply brushing one’s hair aside in a seemingly harmless manner may allow the prisoner to move their hand within a few inches of a guard’s eyes. Under other conditions, allowing a prisoner’s hand close to vital organs would be perceived as a potential attack, and would likely cause a severe response by the guard.

Camouflaging intent of aggression is not new. In fact, there is an entire martial arts form that was founded on the concept of masquerading offensive movements, thus allowing practice to occur uninhibited. Capoeira is a Brazilian fighting art form that was developed by the African slaves as they prepared for conflict with their owners. The graceful and intricate movements were portrayed as a harmless folk dance. In reality, the moves were designed to enhance the fighting skills of the practitioners. The history dates back at least two centuries, and Capoeira can be observed in many Brazilian cities today.

As renowned commentator Paul Harvey used to proclaim, “And know you know the rest of the story.” Therefore, taken in context, staring at goats, or hitting them, makes more sense than what one might initially believe. Instead of being overly concerned about a foreigner’s attempt at humor via gross distortion of truth, maybe we should embrace this opportunity to explain the perfectly logical origins that form the basis of those experiments. That includes acknowledging visionary contributions of one of our heroes and fallen comrade, Colonel Nick Rowe!

• The site, located at Camp Mackall, NC, is now officially the Colonel James “Nick” Rowe SERE Training Center
• Note: SFC Pitzer was released by the Viet Cong in 1967. This action was in response to American protestor visits. Pitzer was a medic, and the other two POWs released were black soldiers as the VC played the race card.
• Like many SOF personnel, the NCO involved with the SERE training described wishes to remain anonymous. While retired from the U.S. Army, he continues to work in a sensitive position serving the interests of his country.


JIM CHANNON
http://www.coasttocoastam.com/guest/channon-jim/41737
http://www.coasttocoastam.com/show/2009/10/25

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/nov/02/men-who-stare-at-goats1
My First Earth Battalion comes to life in The Men Who Stare at Goats
BY Jim Channon  /  2 November 2009

Five years ago, Jon Ronson showed up on my doorstep to interview me for a TV series, Crazy Rulers of the World. I watched with interest as he digested all the edgy ideas about an army trying to reinvent itself for the 21st century into his programme. Jon’s job was to show the paradox between how visionaries think and how politicians get it wrong. He then expanded the show into a book, The Men Who Stare at Goats, partly based on my First Earth Battalion manual.

The Battalion “mythology” I developed was a creative thinking tool designed to encourage the young leaders in the army to think of new ways, with the aim of changing the nature of war and improving the chances of survival for all involved. It was intended to stretch the imagination. The film is a comedy, because the screenwriter Peter Straughan saw great potential in the humorous contrast between the soldier archetype and some of the more “hippy” ideas mentioned.

So, why did four of the brightest actors in Hollywood team up to make a movie about a small, activist band of army officers? Was it their fascination with the audacity and spirit of these men, who wanted to make a difference in the world? Could it have been George Clooney, known for his politically provocative films, who felt he just had to tell the world the unbelievable tale about a very creative period in the US army’s history?

People ask if I’m upset about myself or other members of the First Earth Battalion being portrayed as fools. I guess it’s the ultimate “roast”. What I’m mostly pleased about is that the First Earth Battalion’s shelf life has been extended far into the future, and that the real story now has a chance of getting out.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/nov/03/men-who-stare-at-goats-jim-channon
Strategic shamanism and the new world order
BY Jim Channon  /  3 November 2009

I find it very interesting to remind people that 30 years have passed since I wrote the Earth Battalion field manual. I’ve always wanted the story to be told by Hollywood – it’s one of great hope and promise, a mythology meant to start a social movement and to inspire individuals, both military and civilian. The goal is to evolve beyond conflict to a new level of peace-making where we can collectively address the social and environmental challenges that create global conflicts in the first place. So I have been doing lots of other strategic shamanic work since 1978.

My work shifted to corporations: I have taken the same approach to redirecting Fortune 500 companies and other large institutions toward their higher purposes; I leave them with visionary illustrations to guide the followup. I came to London and reminded Shell that they were really a liquid transportation company and they could carry fresh water about with virtually the same technology they use for oil. Paradigm shift!

But old-world thinking persists on the battlefield. What really gets my goat is that the “shock and awe” that happened in Baghdad is now part of the reason it’s taking so long for trust to be restored in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s hard on the frontline soldiers.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/nov/04/1
The paranormal soldier demystified
BY Jim Channon  /  4 November 2009

The term “psychic spy” features in The Men Who Stare at Goats. That’s because the paranormal is critical to New Earth Army missions. Firstly, an extended range of perception using all senses is the key to not stepping into a killing zone. Modern warfare may seem less violent than traditional scenes of men charging up hills in the face of oncoming fire. But paradoxically, it can be worse – worse because civilians are also often present in the battle area. One miscue and an avalanche of bullets or shrapnel can be triggered in which everyone in range becomes the victim of the chaos. Not entering such situations is the key to victory.

Remember, the real victims of war are the young soldiers who must live a lifetime of regret and trauma because they have inadvertently killed a woman or child in the heat of a firefight. We must accept that the trauma victims of modern warfare are casualties for the rest of their lives. Not moving into danger zones is simply the most skillful thing any unit can do in many situations.

Another important idea about the paranormal is that it is currently one of the most overlooked skillsets in modern life. We must awaken to the possibility that the most important single advance the human race can make to enter this century where we engage the galaxy and all of its mysteries will require we become adept at moving through dimensions of many kinds. We must tend to our interdimensional world.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/nov/05/1
The armies of the world should unite to save Earth
BY Jim Channon  /  5 November 2009

It is often overlooked, but the Marshall Plan executed after the second world war may have been the largest humanitarian exercise in the history of the planet. The allied armies decided to put Europe back together. Military forces had, and have, the tools and proper organisation to help reconstruct the very things they have destroyed. Imagine if all services were asked to recover the living biosphere of our planet which we know is compromised. The Earth is the only stage for life that we have.

After years of thinking I have conceived of important missions matched to a corresponding capability for each branch of service. The army would properly reforest and clean the fresh water sources. The navy would control over-fishing and recycle the ocean waste. The marines would tend the shorelines and restore the coral reefs and wetland areas. Then the air forces would sense the environment from above and detect polluters while also having the instant mass transport of rescue villages for all the displaced refugees likely to surface during climate change.

The many national guard units would reconstruct the countryside with the assistance of the youth to bring nature back to her fullness for a more decentralised and sustainable world. The corporations would all shift 30 degrees to the green. Global villages and the internet will become our worldwide exchange system, and former power centres will just be support services. The world is already one culture. Countries are obsolete and have been for 30 years.

JON RONSON ON COAST TO COAST
http://www.coasttocoastam.com/show/2005/09/06


GUY SAVELLI
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Savelli
http://www.worldkungfu.com/Master.html
Precepts For More Effective Training: “To have paranormal results, one must live a paranormal life.”

BERT STUBBLEBINE ON REMOTE VIEWING
http://www.remoteviewing.com/remote-viewing-history/remote-viewing-research-lecture.html
http://www.remoteviewing.com/about-psitech/about-technical-remote-viewing.html
http://www.biomindsuperpowers.com/Pages/Superpowers.html
http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/?page_id=198
http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/?page_id=299
http://www.trvuniversity.com/remote-viewing-links.html
http://mergenthalerlinotype.wordpress.com/


AREAS OF NATIONAL RESEARCH
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2007/07/new-correlation/
http://foia.abovetopsecret.com/ultimate_UFO/UFO_GOVT/of_Interest/paranormal_briefing.pdf

ULTIMATE WARRIOR TRAINING
http://wisdomatwork.com/WisdomAtWork/JEDIWARRIOR.html
Jedi Warrior Training for the U.S. Army Special Forces Green Berets
BY Dr. Joel & Michelle Levey, Program Co-designers and Directors of Advanced Biocybernaut Training

Our Trojan Warrior Program – aka – Jedi Warrior, or the Ultimate Warrior Training Program for the U.S. Army Special Forces – is to date the most intensive mental training and transformation program to be offered in the military in modern times. The program review team at West Point Military Academy described Jedi Warrior as, “The most exquisite orchestration of human technology that we have ever seen.” Two of our advisors, George Leonard and Michael Murphy, founders of Esalen and the Human Potential Movement, described the program as “the most intensive leadership and human development program to be offered in modern times.”

The full story on this program has yet to be fully told and we are the only members of the original design team who were also involved with the program’s full delivery.  The senior officer whose inspired leadership brought this program into being, has asked us to consider writing the definitive full story of this historic program. Some day we hope to fulfill his request.  We are frequently invited to offer briefings on this program for leaders around the globe who are interested in the profound implications of applying lessons learned to equipping cadres of leaders in other disciplines with the wisdom, resiliency and capacity to accomplish their complex missions. This work clearly has increasing relevance in preparing leaders and communities to resiliently meet the challenges, and embrace the opportunities, of these times.

Special Forces of the Mind
In 1982 we were approached by the US. Army to design and direct the “Ultimate Warrior Training Program”, AKA “Jedi Warrior,” and “The Ultimate Warrior,” for two A Teams of Special Forces, Green Berets.  This six month-long, full-time program came about through the efforts of a number of concerned and high-ranking officers who were inspired by the vision of the First Earth Battalion, compelled by the psi/ESPinage research taking place in China and behind the Iron Curtain, and by increasing interest in advanced mental development possibilities. These leaders also lived with the grief of knowing how much unnecessary suffering took place during and following the war in South East Asia, and wanted to find ways to reduce the likelihood of that happening in the future. (Note: It was estimated at that time that more than twice as many men and women committed suicide after returning from SE Asia than died in combat… envision three Vietnam Memorials…)

These visionary and compassionate leaders understood that because their people were unprepared to stop the war inside themselves, under pressure the seeds of violence within them manifested as the outer violence that destroyed many innocent people, including their families and themselves. We were told that more than twice as many people committed suicide after returning home than died in combat, and that they lived with the grief of that knowledge on a daily basis. These courageous military leaders approached us with a hope and confidence that we would be able to help design a state of the art, advanced leadership and human development program for their elite Special Forces soldiers.

The stakes were very high. We* were asked to work with two highly strategic elite teams, whose mission had the potential to either trigger or avert World War III, under the old Cold War scenario. Our mission was to design and deliver a full-time intensive and holistic program to equip these two A Teams of Special Forces Troops with the personal, team, and mission capabilities necessary to recognize and reduce the conflict/war within themselves so they could perform at peak levels in the midst of extreme danger and distress – such as working behind enemy lines for prolonged periods of time.

Prior to submitting our proposal, we went through considerable soul searching. We consulted many of our mentors and advisors, and contemplated the potential implications, both positive and negative of participating in designing and implementing such a program. During this same period, Trident submarine was coming into Puget Sound for the first time. As we pondered this RFP from the Army we realized that if we had six months to train the crew of a nuclear submarine that we would feel that the world was a safer place. It became clear that the benefits to the men and to the globe were potentially extreme. We assembled our team, created and submitted our proposal for a six-month full time training program. We received an almost immediate reply from leaders at West Point Military Academy who evaluated our proposal and stated that our proposal represented “the most exquisite orchestration of human technology we had ever seen!”  Their response was heartening.

In preparation for the program we engaged dozens of our mentors to ask for their council and advice.  Our primary question for them was: “If you had the opportunity to work intensively for six months with men who were in a position to start or stop the next world war, what would you do and what would be most essential to teach them?” Our advisors and collaborators ranged from Vietnam veterans and respected military leaders, to leading martial artists, noted researchers like Elmer Green from the Menninger Foundation, Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, and Nobel Peace Laureate, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. By the time the program began, we had woven the best of our own experience with the insights of many others to deliver what Michael Murphy, founder of the Esalen Institute, and Esquire editor George Leonard, once called, “the most intensive leadership and human development program to be offered in modern times.”

For this pioneering project we designed an extensive lab of state-of-the art technology to teach the men mastery of their minds and bodies.  It was vital that our soldiers learned skills for recognizing and transforming their inner demons into inner allies.  Our advanced Biocybernaut training combined technologies of biofeedback, neurofeedback, cyberphysiology, and contemplative inner methods of mastery drawn from the vast array of contemplative science traditions. In our lab the soldiers developed the skill and confidence necessary to sense and control many previously unconscious physiological functions: they learned to recognize and control muscle tension, to control blood circulation in order to keep their hands warm in cold environments, manage the intensity and physiology of their responses to stress. For many visiting dignitaries to the base, the Jedi Biocybernaut Lab became a first stop on the tour of the base, where they learned that it was actually possible to recognize and control the level of their blood pressure. The lab included the world’s first multiple-synchrony brainwave feedback system, which we helped to design, in order to teach up to sixteen people at a time to “synchronize” their brain waves in order to move toward a team resonance and flow state of deep attunement to each other’s inner state of being.

Our goal with all of this modern and ancient technology was to build the soldiers’ skills and confidence that they could indeed recognize, understand, and influence/control their mental, emotional, and physiological experience, and that they could strengthen the mindful clarity they’d need to choose the wisest path of action even in the midst of the “VUCA” conditions of the battlefield.  (Note:  VUCA is a military term referring to operations in Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous conditions.  Our training helped equip our men with the skills necessary to bring a deeper Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility forward to meet the challenges of their VUCA mission environments.)

For men who were outwardly fearless and willing to give their lives for their country, the most terrifying part of our training was a month-long silent meditation retreat that was called, “the encampment.”  This was a time of intensive mental training and martial arts training where they learned skills for looking deeply into their own minds and bodies in order to recognize, befriend and transform their “inner enemies”, to resolve inner conflicts and tap inner strengths that could influence their outer effectiveness. They deepened their insight into how these internal enemies could ultimately cost them their lives if they were deployed on their mission. Our teams discovered and learned how to tap reservoirs of inner strength they never dreamed existed. Following this month of intensive mindfulness and meditation training the men were parachuted at night into a four-day ordeal called “the gut check” – a field simulation in very rugged terrain with a series of tests and check-points that needed to be passed on a strict timeline or the men would not have food or water for the next leg of the test.  Our two teams were the first in history to muster both the individual and team strengths necessary to successfully complete this extremely arduous mission simulation.

The “integral nature” of the Jedi Warrior training design provided an exquisite blend of methods for developing the wholeness and extra-ordinary capabilities of our soldiers. Ours was also the first program for the Special Forces to openly address issues regarding death, dying and grieving. We introduced highly sophisticated methods of physical and team training that were a step beyond the somewhat archaic practices that were the norm in their physical training. Our men learned to make wiser choices in diet to promote higher levels of performance. Jedi Warrior training enabled our soldiers to develop extraordinary skills for self-mastery, self-regulation, and resilience.  They learned skills for high-performance sleep, deep relaxation, energy healing, and how to find an inner state of calm intensity in which they could focus their minds for self -healing or to maintain states of clear alertness for long periods of time. They trained intensively in the martial art of Aikido, a martial art form that emphasizes cultivating a greater sensitivity to energy flow and force while creatively transforming the energy of inner and outer conflict. We applied these learnings to enhancing the mission skills and technical capabilities essential to their success, such as working with code, emergency medical work, and other vital skills necessary for their work. We also worked closely with the soldiers’ families and significant others to help integrate these insights and learnings into their home life and relationships.

In addition to the outcomes summarized below, some of the most notable impacts of our work were evident in an enhanced quality of communication and relationship with their families. Many wives and children of the men thanked us because their spouse/father came home and talked to them and openly shared his feelings and fears. Some commented that their husband/father seemed more in control of his emotions and was able to talk through difficulties without getting physically abusive. One team was selected as the most outstanding team in the NATO Games that year. Many of these men went on to train others in these inner arts, while others were recruited by Delta Force and other special units in the Service. Others taught at the War College or were decorated for their special roles in operations in Somalia, the Gulf War, and Eastern Europe. Over the years we have heard from many of the men that what they learned has saved their lives, their missions, their teams, and their families from many difficult situations. Reports over time indicate that the program had a profound effect on the lives of those who participated in it, opening a vast horizon of new possibilities for personal and professional development. The benefits of this investment in these people’s lives continue to this day.

Organizational Warrior Training: Special Forces at Work
The methods distilled through our work with the Jedi Warrior project have inspired and informed the design of hundreds of programs we have subsequently offered to organizations around the globe. Jedi Warrior provided an organizational learning laboratory that has great relevance for leaders in complex, high-stakes systems who seek wisdom, resilience, mindful presence, collective creative intelligence, fierce compassion, and courage. With practice, the Jedi Warrior core disciplines allow insight and intuition to deepen, courage and confidence to grow, health and performance to improve, and innovation to be guided by a wisdom congruent with the pressing needs of the times.

When our colleagues in other organizations hear about the work we did with the Army Special Forces, they often respond by saying,  “We need a Jedi Warrior or ‘ultimate warrior’ training program for the people in our organization! We work on an organizational battlefield with every growing levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity and need to develop greater skills to increase our personal and collective resilience, wisdom, creativity, and strength.” In response to these requests we have designed and delivered a variety of programs incorporating methods from the Jedi Warrior program for over 100 corporate clients around the globe with inspiring and enduring results.

*The original design for this program was created by us (Joel & Michelle Levey) and Bud Cook, and then at a later stage we brought in Richard Strozzi Heckler (aikido teacher), and Jack Cirie (team leader) as members of our core delivery team.  It was inspired by the vision of Lt. Col. Jim Channon’s inspired work with the First Earth Battalion.  A host of remarkable advisers and visiting trainers also participated in this program, and each brought great wisdom, expertise, and inspiration to this historic training.

CONTACT
Joel & Michelle Levey
http://wisdomatwork.com/WisdomAtWork/LeveyBio.html
email : levey [at] wisdomatwork [dot] com

PTSD
http://web.archive.org/web/20080401145018/http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do;jsessionid=HvsdqLBh821wfTW1xnX90yhWpL01S5wtpJjDRBLQvGLynb12dMGY!767256891
http://www.usamraa.army.mil/pages/Baa_Paa/DCoE_PH_TBI_Program_Announcement.pdf

The Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health (PH) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is soliciting proposals for studies on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in service members dealing with sustainment and treatment for psychological health and promoting healing for traumatic brain injuries in service-members. The high prevalence of psychoneurological and other brain injuries associated with the current OEF/OIF war effort make it especially important to understand current use of CAM therapies by service-members, and to explore approaches that may be particularly effective in both protecting and treating the injured service-member. The DoD is dedicated to supporting evidence-based approaches to medical treatment and wants to support the use of alternative therapies if they are proven efficacious. Specific aims of this call for proposals focus on a holistic approach for trauma spectrum disorders, including patients with TBI and/or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and/or substance dependence/abuse. With the focus on a holistic approach for trauma spectrum disorders, including patients with TBI and/or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and/or substance dependence/abuse, the following delineate several of the areas of interest: 1. Conducting rigorous clinical studies to determine the efficacy of alternative therapies for treating psychological health injuries using techniques such as music, animal-facilitated therapy, art, dance/movement, massage therapy, EMDR program evaluation, virtual reality, acupuncture, spiritual ministry, transcendental meditation, yoga and other novel approaches. 2. Identification of patterns of use of CAM therapies to build resilience in military populations, 3. Identification of factors and perceptions associated with use of alternative and complementary therapies by service-members, 4. Studies of mechanisms and efficacy of biologically-based treatments, botanicals, and nutritional supplements for enhancing cognitive function and mood in patients with trauma spectrum disorders, including TBI and/or PTSD, depression, anxiety, and/or substance dependence/abuse, 5. Studies that examine gender-specific implications and issues related to the use of CAM therapies, 6. Biological mechanisms and efficacy underlying acupuncture for trauma spectrum disorders, including TBI and/or PTSD, depression, anxiety, and/or substance dependence/abuse, including neuroimaging studies, and 7. Identification of the use and efficacy of therapies using bioenergies such as Qi gong, Reiki, distant healing, and acupuncture, especially new biophysical approaches involving instrumentation.Proposals must provide a clear justification and military relevance for the choice of therapies selected for study. Collaboration with DoD medical researchers at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), clinical research laboratories at military medical centers and VA centers are encouraged and will be considered in the selection of awards. Studies should be designed to test pragmatic and theoretical components at once; thus, they need to include sham control to separate specific from non-specific effects. Rationale should include why the intervention should have effects across trauma spectrum and evaluate putative mechanisms. Use of primary care and community sites should be accessed and networked into participate. Two types of proposals will be considered. Individual research proposals containing preliminary data are expected to average $200,000 per year for up to four years of support; no proposal award will exceed $1M in total funding (including indirect costs). Seedling grants proposing innovative but testable hypotheses without preliminary data, will be considered for $300,000 in total funding (including indirect costs), with research to be completed within 18 months. A total of approximately $4,000,000 is available for the portfolio of projects to be funded.

YOGA, ANIMAL THERAPY
http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2008-10-07-holistic_N.htm
Pentagon researches alternative treatments
BY Gregg Zoroya  /  10.7.2008

The Pentagon is seeking new ways to treat troops suffering from combat stress or brain damage by researching such alternative methods as acupuncture, meditation, yoga and the use of animals as therapy, military officials said. “This new theme is a big departure for our cautious culture,” Dr. S. Ward Casscells, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary for health affairs, told USA TODAY. Casscells said he pushed hard for the new research, because “we are struggling with” post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) “as we are with suicide and we are increasingly willing to take a hard look at even soft therapies.” So far this year, the Pentagon is spending $5 million to study the therapies. In the previous two years, the Pentagon had not spent any money on similar research, records show. About 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD or major depression, and about 320,000 may have experienced at least a mild concussion or brain injury in combat, according to a RAND Corp. study released this year.

The Army reported a record 115 suicides last year, and suicides this year are at a rate that may exceed that, said Col. Eddie Stephens, the Army’s deputy director for human resources policy. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported last month that suicides among Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans from all services reached a record high of 113 in 2006, the latest year for which there were figures.  Some military hospitals and installations already use alternative therapies, such as acupuncture as stress relievers for patients. The research will see whether the alternatives work so the Pentagon can use them more, said Army Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, head of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. Many of the treatments have been used for centuries, Sutton said, “so it just makes sense to bring all potential therapies to bear.”

Her office issued a request for research proposals this year on therapies ranging from art and dance, to the ancient Chinese healing art of qigong or a therapy of hands-on touching known as Reiki. Sutton’s office narrowed a list of 82 proposals to about 10 projects this year, and research should begin, with servicemembers as subjects in some cases, in the next few months, said Col. Karl Friedl, head of the Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, which oversees the work. Friedl said research will include how meditation can improve emotional resilience; how holding and petting an animal can treat PTSD and how acupuncture pain relief can relieve headaches created by mild brain damage from blasts. “We want to add everything we can to our tool kit” for these injuries, said Col. Elspeth Ritchie, an Army psychiatrist.

Some soldiers who suffer from PTSD are reluctant to share their experiences in traditional psychiatric therapy, said Col. Charles Engel, an Army psychiatric epidemiologist. He said those soldiers may be more willing to use acupuncture and other alternatives if they are effective. Initial research this summer with combat veterans showed that acupuncture relieved PTSD symptoms and eased pain and depression, Engel said. “Improvements were relatively rapid and clinically significant,” he said. About one third of sailors and Marines use some types of alternative therapies, mostly herbal remedies, according to a survey conducted last year. A recent Army study shows that one in four soldiers with combat-caused PTSD turned to herbs, chiropractors, acupuncture or megavitamins for relief. Although the Pentagon’s study of alternative medicine for combat diseases is unique, research into such therapies for broad public use is not new, said Richard Nahin, a senior adviser for the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The NIH spends about $300 million a year on similar research.

HOMEOPATHY, POWER OF PRAYER
http://www.siib.org/research/research-home/military-medicine.html
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a5wBTQVASIso
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/11/AR2005071101140_pf.html
Probing Edges Of Medicine — And Reality
Homeopathy Against Bioterrorism? For a Local Research Institute, Few Areas of Study Are Too Far Out
BY Sandra G. Boodman  /  July 12, 2005

Ask Wayne B. Jonas why the scientific foundation he directs is funding research into the effects of prayer, the use of homeopathy to fight bioterrorism and whether magnetic devices can heal orthopedic injuries, and he offers a straightforward answer: Science is the way to determine whether they work. “We’re trying to stimulate good-quality research,” said Jonas, a former chief of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who directs the nonprofit Samueli Institute for Information Biology (SIIB) in Alexandria. “There is a good case for looking at these things scientifically, because we don’t know a lot about them.”

But, the 51-year-old board-certified family physician and retired Army doctor adds, “it’s difficult to walk the scientific fence” — dodging criticism from “the hard-core skeptics” who dismiss alternative medicine as quackery and the “hard-core advocates” who accept it uncritically. Jonas has headed the institute — named for its principal benefactor, California philanthropist Susan Samueli — since its inception in 2001. What began as a two-person foundation has grown into a research organization with four offices and a staff of 15. It has an annual budget of about $4 million provided by the Samueli family, and an additional $5 million in contracts from the Department of Defense (DOD) to study alternative treatments. Currently the institute is funding about 50 projects, awarding grants ranging from $20,000 to $250,000 to researchers in the United States, Europe and Asia. Some grants have been awarded to institute staff members.

Among the DOD-related projects, which are a collaboration with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the military medical school in Bethesda where Jonas is a clinical professor, are several to determine whether the use of extremely diluted poisons, including cyanide and botulinum toxin, might protect soliders from higher doses to which they could be exposed in biological warfare. “The work in this area is in its earliest stages but has some promising characteristics,” said Iris R. Bell, director of research for the integrative medicine program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “The Samueli staff are open-minded scientists, they are not taking anything as dogma. They are asking the bigger questions, such as what are the assumptions of science? I would expect the work they do and the work they fund is going to be controversial.”

Critics of the institute say that while they support rigorous research into alternative medical treatments, Samueli is not doing it. “There is nothing of scientific value they’re doing that I’m aware of,” said Wallace Sampson, editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and clinical professor emeritus of medicine at Stanford. “They’re all ideologues trying to prove something that doesn’t exist.”

Homeopathy, prayer and other forms of “energy medicine” belong to a category the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the name for the office Jonas once directed, calls “among the most controversial of CAM practices.” Homeopathy, a treatment invented in the late 1700s, is predicated on the belief that “like cures like” and that illnesses can be treated by stimulating a healing response through the ingestion of highly diluted substances such as herbs, heavy metals or poison ivy, which would cause harm at larger doses. In most cases no single molecule of the substance remains. Homeopathy has not been conclusively proven to be effective for any clinical condition, according to NCCAM, and its “key concepts do not follow the laws of science.”

Sampson and other critics of Samueli’s work also question its use of terminology not found in science, such as “information biology,” which Jonas defines as “the interaction of information with biological systems”; and “salutogenesis,” which he says is the process of healing and the opposite of pathogenesis, the process of disease. “We have to keep an open mind, but not an open mind to nonsense,” said Bruce Flamm, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Irvine. “The Samuelis are very generous people,” said obstetrician-gynecologist Flamm, “but this institute is a sadly misguided waste of money that could be spent on legitimate research.”

Last year, after Flamm repeatedly raised questions about a widely promulgated study conducted by researchers affiliated with Columbia University that prayer could help infertile women conceive, the study was withdrawn. (Samueli had no affiliation with the study.) One of the authors is currently serving time in federal prison on unrelated criminal fraud charges. Some skeptics say the Samueli-sponsored research is fundamentally unscientific and that much of it lacks the necessary safeguards to prevent spurious results. One paper presented at a Samueli-sponsored conference last year on optimal healing environments — a concept Jonas said he is helping to synthesize — was entitled “The Spa as a Model of an Optimal Healing Environment.” Written by an executive of the posh Canyon Ranch Spa in Tucson, it was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Using Canyon Ranch as a case study, the author concluded that “creating an optimal healing environment at any price point” requires “a dedicated, caring staff.”

What Objective?
“What they’re doing isn’t science, it’s faith healing,” said Robert L. Park, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland and the author of a 2002 book entitled “Voodoo Science,” which includes a lengthy discussion of homeopathy. Adrienne Fugh-Berman, an associate professor in the complementary medicine program at Georgetown University, said she regarded the studies listed on the SIIB Web site as “pretty self-indulgent.” Fugh-Berman, a physician who has published two dozen studies of alternative treatments, called the belief that homeopathy could be used to fight bioterrorism “embarrassing” and said she regarded optimal healing environments as “spa therapy for rich people. What bothers me about some of the research is that I suspect its objective is to create a veneer of science over certain strongly held beliefs,” she said.

Jonas disputes these criticisms and says the institute follows standard NIH grant review practices. He said the goal is to fund credible pilot studies to determine what works — or doesn’t — and that he has no other agenda. Negative results of studies are published on the SIIB Web site, he noted. While the nonprofit foundation tries to subsidize research that is rigorous, Jonas continued, it is not always possible to conduct randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of alternative therapies. “A high percentage meet those requirements,” he said, but “some things can’t be blinded.” Richard H. Grimm, an epidemiologist who is director of the Berman Center for Outcomes at the University of Minnesota, agreed, noting that much of conventional medicine is predicated on treatments that haven’t been put to such a test. “It’s relatively easy to do a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of something that fits into a capsule,” Grimm said, but not for a non-drug treatment.

Andew J. Vickers, an assistant attending research methodologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, said the Samueli Institute should be judged on the quality of science it supports. Vickers said he forsees three possible outcomes for the research on homeopathy and prayer. The first is that they work, the second is that “none of this works and it’s a waste of time” and the third is that “they find other things along the way that would be scientifically useful. Science is full of examples of that.”

Suddenly Samueli
It was Susan Samueli’s longstanding interest in alternative medicine that led to the creation of the institute in 2001, Jonas said. Around the same time, she and her husband Henry endowed the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine in the medical school at the University of California, Irvine. The family’s fortune comes from Henry Samueli’s interest in Broadcom, a company he co-founded in the early 1990s while on leave from teaching at UCLA, where he earned a doctorate in electrical engineering. Broadcom pioneered the manufacture of chips used in DSL and cable modems just before the demand for these chips skyrocketed. Over a period of a few years, that invention catapulted the Samuelis from middle-class comfort to the ranks of the Forbes 400, a listing of America’s richest families.

The son of Polish Holocaust survivors who as a youth worked in his family’s liquor store, Henry Samueli has made record gifts to the engineering schools at UC Irvine and UCLA, both of which now bear his name. Several months ago the couple bought the Mighty Ducks professional hockey team. Susan Samueli, whose undergraduate degree in math is from Berkeley, has a PhD from the American Holistic College of Nutrition and a diploma from a British homeopathic institute. The holistic college is an unaccredited correspondence school located in Birmingham, Ala.

Jonas’s interest in homeopathy dates back to college. In a 1996 book entitled “Healing With Homeopathy,” he wrote that as a medical student he suggested trying homeopathy on several patients who were faring poorly with conventional treatments and was upbraided by supervisors. Later, while stationed as an Army doctor in Germany, where homeopathy is popular, Jonas said his interest in the subject grew, in part because he couldn’t understand how it might work. Jonas said he thinks the answer might lie in a substance released by an ingredient in glass or could be due to the placebo effect. He said he doubts the view, widely held by other homeopaths, that the water somehow retains the “memory” of the diluted substance, which results in healing. “There are possible ways to explain this on a rational basis,” he said.

Two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Jonas, a former official at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, urged Congress to consider the use of homeopathy to fight bioterrorism. In testimony before a commitee chaired by Indiana’s Republican Rep. Dan Burton, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of alternative medicine in Congress, Jonas said that “homeopathic medical literature reveals numerous reports of apparently successful treatment of epidemic diseases . . . including smallpox” from the last century. A month later NCCAM chief Stephen E. Straus, a virologist, warned the House commitee against using alternative remedies for biological weapons. In 2003 Jonas was lead author of an analysis of homeopathy studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The authors, all specialists in alternative medicine, concluded that homeopathy may be effective for some conditions and “deserves an open-minded opportunity to demonstrate its value” but should not supplant proven therapies.

To Colorado physician Steven Bratman, the author of a dozen books on alternative medicine and an expert in research in the field, using homeopathy to combat bioterrorism is “completely insane — not as insane as UFOs, but pretty close. For homeopathy to work, there would have to be a whole new law of science,” said Bratman, a former alternative medicine practitioner who said he abandoned acupuncture and other treatments about a decade ago after he grew increasingly uneasy about their lack of scientific underpinnings. “The fact that DOD is spending money on this research is unfortunate,” he said.

Increasingly, Jonas said, the Samueli Institute is focusing on projects that explore and define optimal healing environments, a concept that grows out of his long-standing interest in preventive medicine. “We have a biomedical system that is attempting to apply the acute care model to chronic illness,” he said. “We need a new way of thinking. . . . That’s the salutogenic model.” This interest in healing is reflected in the institute’s expensively decorated suite of offices overlooking the King Street Metro station in Old Town Alexandria. Situated outside Jonas’s office is a large section of an aspen tree, trucked in from land the Samueli family owns in Telluride, Colo. Native Americans, Jonas said, believed the aspen tree was endowed with curative properties. It seemed a fitting symbol.

BATTLEFIELD ACUPUNCTURE
http://www.n5ev.com/battlefield_acupuncture.htm
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2008-12-11/news/0812100207_1_battlefield-acupuncture-pain-with-acupuncture-traditional-chinese-acupuncture
Military tries ‘battlefield’ acupuncture to ease pain
BY David Wood  /  December 11, 2008

Using ancient Chinese medical techniques, a small team of military doctors here has begun treating wounded troops suffering from severe or chronic pain with acupuncture. The technique is proving so successful that the Air Force will begin teaching “battlefield acupuncture” early next year to physicians deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, senior officials will announce tomorrow. The initiative marks the first high-level endorsement of acupuncture by the traditionally conservative military medical community, officials said.

Using tiny needles that barely penetrate the skin of a patient’s ear, Air Force doctors here say they can interrupt pain signals going to the brain. Their experience over several years indicates the technique developed by Col. Richard Niemtzow, an Air Force physician, can relieve even unbearable pain for days at a time. That enables badly wounded patients who arrive here by medevac aircraft to begin to emerge from the daze of pain-killer drugs administered by surgeons in the field. “This is one of the fastest pain attenuators in existence – the pain can be gone in five minutes,” said Niemtzow, a physician, acupuncturist and senior adviser to the Air Force surgeon general.

He and others stressed that tiny needles cannot replace morphine and other powerful drugs used in combat medicine. And they acknowledged that acupuncture doesn’t work for everyone. But neither does acupuncture provoke the kind of adverse side effects, allergic reactions and potential addiction associated with powerful psychotropic drugs often used to dull the pain of the severely wounded. “We use acupuncture as an adjunct” to traditional therapy, said Niemtzow. “The Chinese have used it for 5,000 years. It works, and it’s powerful.”

The procedure developed by Niemtzow is a variation of traditional Chinese acupuncture in which long, hair-thin needles are inserted into the body at any of hundreds of points to ease pain. Niemtzow’s variation uses one or more needles inserted into any of five points on the ear. The needles, which penetrate about a millimeter (or 4/100ths of an inch) into the skin, fall out after several days. The procedure can be repeated. The ear acts as a “monitor” of signals passing from body sensors to the brain, he said. Those signals can be intercepted and manipulated to stop pain or for other purposes.

CIA IN-HOUSE ACID TESTS
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/0802130623/bizarrehistorica
http://www.historyhouse.com/c/in_history/?lsd

Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, has been a sacrament of artists, would-be prophets, and other such social chaff since the 1960s. Invented in 1938 by chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann while looking for an analeptic (circulatory stimulant), he found it had no effect on lab animals and forgot all about it. Years later, on the fateful day 16 of April, 1953, he accidentally absorbed a little through his fingertips and went flying on the first acid trip. By then the CIA had a ten-year-old program running, looking for interrogation drugs and truth serums. They’d played with caffeine, barbiturates, peyote, and marijuana. They also tried to get subjects to kill while under hypnosis, rounding out an operation seemingly concocted from the plots of situation comedies. Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain report in their Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD, and the Sixties Rebellion, that by 1953, the CIA had authorized project MK-ULTRA, designed to perfect mind-control drugs during the Cold War. Conceived by Richard Helms of the Clandestine Services Department, it went beyond the construction of mere truth serums and ventured into disinformation, induction of temporary insanity, and other chemically-aided states.

The director of MK-ULTRA, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, figured LSD’s potential as an interrogative agent paled in comparison to its capacity to publicly humiliate. Lee and Shlain note the CIA imagined a tripping public figure might be amusing, producing a memo that says giving acid “to high officials would be a relatively simple matter and could have a significant effect at key meetings, speeches, etc.” But Gottlieb knew that giving LSD to people in the lab was a lot different than just passing it out, and felt the department did not have an adequate grasp on its effects. So the entire operation tripped to learn what it was like, and, according to Lee and Shlain, “agreed among themselves to slip LSD into each other’s drinks. The target never knew when his turn would come, but as soon as the drug was ingested a … colleague would tell him so he could make the necessary preparations (which usually meant taking the rest of the day off). Initially the leaders of MK-ULTRA restricted the surprise acid tests to [their own] members, but when this phase had run its course they started dosing other Agency personnel who had never tripped before. Nearly everyone was fair game, and surprise acid trips became something of an occupational hazard among CIA operatives…. The Office of Security felt that [MK-ULTRA] should have exercised better judgment in dealing with such a powerful and dangerous chemical. The straw that broke the camel’s back came when a Security informant got wind of a plan by a few [MK-ULTRA] jokers to put LSD in the punch served at the annual CIA Christmas office party … a Security memo writer… concluded indignantly and unequivocally that he did ‘not recommend testing in the Christmas punch bowls usually present at the Christmas office parties.'”

MILITARY ACID TESTS


British Army


Czech Army

MKULTRA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKULTRA
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-04-05-army-experiments_N.htm
Researchers tested pot, LSD on Army volunteers
BY Richard Willing  /  4.6.2007

Army doctors gave soldier volunteers synthetic marijuana, LSD and two dozen other psychoactive drugs during experiments aimed at developing chemical weapons that could incapacitate enemy soldiers, a psychiatrist who performed the research says in a new memoir. The program, which ran at the Army’s Edgewood, Md., arsenal from 1955 until about 1972, concluded that counterculture staples such as acid and pot were either too unpredictable or too mellow to be useful as weapons, psychiatrist James Ketchum said in an interview. The program did yield one hallucinogenic weapon: softball-size artillery rounds that were filled with powdered quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ, a deliriant of the belladonnoid family that had placed some research subjects in a sleeplike state and left them impaired for days. Ketchum says the BZ bombs were stockpiled at an Army arsenal in Arkansas but never deployed. They were later destroyed. The Army acknowledged the program’s existence in 1975. Follow-up studies by the Army in 1978 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1981 found that volunteers suffered no long-term effects.

Insider’s account
Ketchum’s book, Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten, appears to be the first insider’s account of experiments performed on about 2,000 soldier volunteers, says Steven Aftergood, a government-secrecy expert for the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C. Ketchum self-published the book, which he sells on his website. In an interview, Ketchum, 75, said he wrote the book to trigger a debate about the potential uses of non-lethal chemicals to incapacitate terrorists who take hostages or use human shields. “Incapacitating agents are designed to save lives,” he said. “Isn’t it at least something we should be thinking about?” Such research, says chemical weapons opponent Edward Hammond, would not only be illegal under current international law but probably never should have been performed. “There are things that have taken place in the past that should probably stay there,” says Hammond, director of the Sunshine Project, an Austin group that opposes biological warfare. Ketchum’s memoir draws from previously classified files, including filmed experiments, and notes of tests given subjects before, during and after they were fed, sprayed or injected with mind-altering chemicals.

He says:
•LSD was rejected for weapons use because even soldiers on prolonged trips could carry out violent acts.
•Even especially powerful marijuana lacked “knockdown effect.” It was rejected because its effects could be overcome simply by lying down and resting.
•Soldier volunteers were willing participants who knew the program’s potential risks. Drugs given to soldiers were described in general terms but not named though “many seemed to find out through the grapevine.”
•Intelligence reports of the time showed that Soviet researchers were planning a large-scale LSD program.
•The CIA ran a parallel program that sometimes gave hallucinogens secretly to unwitting citizens. The agency persuaded two Army doctors to carry out experiments for the CIA that the Army would not have authorized.

Ketchum says the Army phased out the hallucinogen project in about 1972, in part because disclosure of such research would have caused a “public relations problem.” Ketchum’s notes suggest the Army’s fears were not imaginary. They describe soldiers on “red oil,” an especially powerful form of marijuana, who smirked for hours and found even routine spatial reasoning tests to be hilarious. Soldiers under the influence of hallucinogens ate imaginary chickens, took showers in full uniform while smoking cigars and chatted with invisible people for two to three days at a time. One attempted to ride off on an imaginary horse while another played with kittens only he could see. Another described an order of toast as smelling “like a French whore.” Some of the researchers also took LSD “as a matter of curiosity,” Ketchum says. His lone trip, he adds, was “something of an anti-climax.” Colors seemed more vivid and music more compelling, he remembers, but “there were no breakthroughs in consciousness, no Timothy Leary stuff.” At least two soldiers who received LSD in the 1950s later sued the Army, alleging that the drug later caused them to suffer memory loss, hallucinations and occasional outbursts of violence. The claims were denied. After leaving the Army, Ketchum saw patients in a private psychiatric practice. The experiments on human subjects ended in 1975, according to Jeff Smart, historian for the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. The United States signed a United Nations-sponsored chemical weapons ban in 1993 that outlawed incapacitating agents.

Calmative agents
Even so, the U.S. military has remained interested in researching non-lethal chemicals. In 2000, the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, a Quantico, Va., group run by all four major military branches, commissioned a study of the possible military uses of “calmative” pharmaceuticals such as anesthetics and serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The Sunshine Project’s Hammond, who obtained the study through the Freedom of Information Act, says using calmatives as weapons would also be outlawed by the 1993 chemical weapons ban. Ketchum says that is not clear. In October 2002, Russian special forces used a calmative agent to subdue Islamist Chechen terrorists who were holding about 850 hostages in a Moscow theater. More than 120 hostages died from the drug’s effects.

BZ + MIND DE-PATTERNING
http://www.counterpunch.org/robeson.html
http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/155.html
http://i2.democracynow.org/1999/7/1/did_the_cia_drug_paul_robeson

EDGEWOOD ARSENAL
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgewood_Arsenal_experiments
http://www.forgottensecrets.net/excerpts.html
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-04-05-army-experiments_N.htm
Researchers tested pot, LSD on Army volunteers
BY Richard Willing  /  4/6/2007

Army doctors gave soldier volunteers synthetic marijuana, LSD and two dozen other psychoactive drugs during experiments aimed at developing chemical weapons that could incapacitate enemy soldiers, a psychiatrist who performed the research says in a new memoir. The program, which ran at the Army’s Edgewood, Md., arsenal from 1955 until about 1972, concluded that counterculture staples such as acid and pot were either too unpredictable or too mellow to be useful as weapons, psychiatrist James Ketchum said in an interview.

The program did yield one hallucinogenic weapon: softball-size artillery rounds that were filled with powdered quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ, a deliriant of the belladonnoid family that had placed some research subjects in a sleeplike state and left them impaired for days. Ketchum says the BZ bombs were stockpiled at an Army arsenal in Arkansas but never deployed. They were later destroyed. The Army acknowledged the program’s existence in 1975. Follow-up studies by the Army in 1978 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1981 found that volunteers suffered no long-term effects.

Insider’s account
Ketchum’s book, Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten, appears to be the first insider’s account of experiments performed on about 2,000 soldier volunteers, says Steven Aftergood, a government-secrecy expert for the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C. Ketchum self-published the book, which he sells on his website. In an interview, Ketchum, 75, said he wrote the book to trigger a debate about the potential uses of non-lethal chemicals to incapacitate terrorists who take hostages or use human shields. “Incapacitating agents are designed to save lives,” he said. “Isn’t it at least something we should be thinking about?”

Such research, says chemical weapons opponent Edward Hammond, would not only be illegal under current international law but probably never should have been performed. “There are things that have taken place in the past that should probably stay there,” says Hammond, director of the Sunshine Project, an Austin group that opposes biological warfare. Ketchum’s memoir draws from previously classified files, including filmed experiments, and notes of tests given subjects before, during and after they were fed, sprayed or injected with mind-altering chemicals.

He says:
•LSD was rejected for weapons use because even soldiers on prolonged trips could carry out violent acts.
•Even especially powerful marijuana lacked “knockdown effect.” It was rejected because its effects could be overcome simply by lying down and resting.
•Soldier volunteers were willing participants who knew the program’s potential risks. Drugs given to soldiers were described in general terms but not named though “many seemed to find out through the grapevine.”
•Intelligence reports of the time showed that Soviet researchers were planning a large-scale LSD program.
•The CIA ran a parallel program that sometimes gave hallucinogens secretly to unwitting citizens. The agency persuaded two Army doctors to carry out experiments for the CIA that the Army would not have authorized.

Ketchum says the Army phased out the hallucinogen project in about 1972, in part because disclosure of such research would have caused a “public relations problem.” Ketchum’s notes suggest the Army’s fears were not imaginary. They describe soldiers on “red oil,” an especially powerful form of marijuana, who smirked for hours and found even routine spatial reasoning tests to be hilarious. Soldiers under the influence of hallucinogens ate imaginary chickens, took showers in full uniform while smoking cigars and chatted with invisible people for two to three days at a time. One attempted to ride off on an imaginary horse while another played with kittens only he could see. Another described an order of toast as smelling “like a French whore.” Some of the researchers also took LSD “as a matter of curiosity,” Ketchum says. His lone trip, he adds, was “something of an anti-climax.” Colors seemed more vivid and music more compelling, he remembers, but “there were no breakthroughs in consciousness, no Timothy Leary stuff.”

At least two soldiers who received LSD in the 1950s later sued the Army, alleging that the drug later caused them to suffer memory loss, hallucinations and occasional outbursts of violence. The claims were denied. After leaving the Army, Ketchum saw patients in a private psychiatric practice. The experiments on human subjects ended in 1975, according to Jeff Smart, historian for the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. The United States signed a United Nations-sponsored chemical weapons ban in 1993 that outlawed incapacitating agents.

Calmative agents
Even so, the U.S. military has remained interested in researching non-lethal chemicals. In 2000, the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, a Quantico, Va., group run by all four major military branches, commissioned a study of the possible military uses of “calmative” pharmaceuticals such as anesthetics and serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The Sunshine Project’s Hammond, who obtained the study through the Freedom of Information Act, says using calmatives as weapons would also be outlawed by the 1993 chemical weapons ban. Ketchum says that is not clear. In October 2002, Russian special forces used a calmative agent to subdue Islamist Chechen terrorists who were holding about 850 hostages in a Moscow theater. More than 120 hostages died from the drug’s effects.

VETS SUE
http://www.mofo.com/news/pressreleases/15100.html
http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/2009/01/vietnam-vets-sue-cia-for-secre.html
Vietnam Vets Sue CIA for Secret Drug Experiments on GIs
BY Jeff Stein  /  January 7, 2009

A Vietnam veterans group is suing the CIA for “thousands of secret experiments to test toxic chemical and biological substances under code names such as MKULTRA.,” its attorneys said today. The suit was filed in federal court in northern California on behalf of the Washington-based Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc., and six aging veterans with multiple diseases and ailments “tied to a diabolical and secret testing program, whereby U.S. military personnel were deliberately exposed, by government and military agencies, to chemical and biological weapons and other toxins without informed consent,” the Morrison & Foerster law firm said in a press release. The firm said the alleged CIA research program was launched in the early 1950s and continued through at least 1976 at the Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick, Md., as well as universities and hospitals across the country contracted by the CIA. Defendants include the CIA, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense and various government officials responsible for these agencies. “The CIA secretly provided financing, personnel, and direction for the experiments, which were mainly conducted or contracted by the Army,” the suit says.

According to the veterans, the experiments, conducted over a 25 year period, included:
·    the use of troops to test nerve gas, psychochemicals, and thousands of other toxic chemical or biological substances, and … the insertion of septal implants in the brains of subjects in … mind control experiments that went awry, leaving many civilian and military subjects with permanent disabilities;
·    the failure to secure informed consent and other widespread failures to follow the precepts of U.S. and international law regarding the use of human subjects, including the 1953 Wilson Directive and the Nuremberg Code;
·    a … refusal by the DoD, the CIA, and the Army to … locate the victims of their … experiments or to provide health care or compensation to them;
·    the  destruction by the CIA of evidence and files

Update: CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf said the agency would have no comment “on specific matters before the court.” But, she added, “CIA activities related to MK-ULTRA have been thoroughly investigated, and the CIA fully cooperated with each of the investigations. In addition, tens of thousands of pages from documents related to the program have been declassified and released to the public. “MK-ULTRA was investigated in 1975 by the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee, and in 1977 by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research,” Harf added.

STRAIGHT EDGE
http://istpp.org/military_science/
http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=8459
http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=9055

I saw the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats [http://www.themenwhostareatgoatsmovie.com] with interest. I enjoyed the movie for what it was – a satirical look at the US military’s attempt to develop more of the full potential of their warriors using so-called paranormal approaches. Unfortunately, words like “paranormal” and “supernatural” are loaded terms which carry negative connotations. For this reason, scientists are hesitant to associate themselves with people who profess interest in such things. However, since I have already been associated with one of the real-life characters of the book and movie, I would like to discuss the real-life military possibility of using more of the potential of the human mind through my area of expertise – Invincible Defense Technology (IDT), a technique that includes Yogic Flying. I would also like to recommend a book by Craig Pearson, Ph.D. titled: The Complete Book of Yogic Flying [http://www.mum.edu/achievements/2008_11_08.html] which discusses this approach in great detail. (Full disclosure: Dr. Pearson is the Executive Vice-President of Maharishi University of Management. I am employed at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) which is affiliated with this institution.)

In The Men Who Stare at Goats, the character General Hopgood (played by Stephen Lang) is based on Major General Albert Stubblebine, US Army (Retired), a former commander of the US Army Intelligence & Security Command (INSCOM). He is satirically portrayed as attempting to walk through walls without success. In both the book and movie, a soldier under his command allegedly killed a goat by staring at it. In real life, Stubblebine served as a consultant on my Consciousness-Based Military Defense doctoral committee at The Union Institute & University. He was an intelligent pioneer in the development of human resource technologies for the US Army. Stubblebine understood the latent potential of the human mind, and, that warriors would eventually be trained to harness it. Jon Ronson wrote in his book, The Men Who Stare at Goats, “General Stubblebine passionately believes the First Earth Battalion [http://firstearthbattalion.com] doctrine that every human being alive was capable of performing supernatural miracles.”

While serving on my doctoral committee, Stubblebine helped organize my lecture series about Invincible Defense Technology in Moscow. Thanks to him, and the late Brig. Gen. Clarence E. Beck, U.S. Army (Ret.), I recruited another distinguished general (retired Soviet Army General-Major Leonid Shershnev, who fought in Afghanistan) as well as other military-related leaders to participate in my doctoral program in Consciousness-Based Military Defense which is now known as Invincible Defense Technology in military circles.

Shershnev was a key figure in the Soviet’s war in Afghanistan. His reflections on the futility of war were similar to Stubblebine’s and those of many of our own military personnel after the Vietnam War. Shershnev regretted the inappropriate waste of lives, and has vowed to spend his life working to create world peace. Probably due to his efforts, many generals and other military-related leaders from Russia and other former Soviet-block countries attended the Third International Conference on Invincible Defense in The Netherlands in the 1990’s. Senior leaders wrote encouraging assessments of the potential of Invincible Defense Technology to prevent war and terrorism and apparently reported back to their governmental leaders, urging implementation. See “The Need for a Prevention Wing of the Military by the Conference Participants” [http://istpp.org/military_science/third_invincible
_defense_p13.html
] and “The Race for ‘Inner Space'” [http://www.davidleffler.com/enewsletter/
20080411_IDT_News.html#LETTER.BLOCK8
] for related information.

The goal of Invincible Defense Technology is to enhance the peace-keeping capabilities of the military, adding a “non-lethal weapon,” a kind of national armor (called “rastri kavach” in ancient Vedic literature) that would ensure the security and invincibility of their nation. The founder and chief proponent of this approach is the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a renowned scientist of consciousness and Vedic scholar. Maharishi stated that so-called supernatural abilities are normal to a stress-free nervous system, which can be achieved through the Transcendental Meditation program and its advanced practices, if people are properly trained in the correct manner to harness them. In 1997, studying this non-religious approach, I completed my Ph.D. under the auspices of the doctoral program at The Union Institute & University. Invincible Defense Technology was labeled such because Maharishi recognized its potential to prevent the birth of an enemy, a principle he abbreviated with the phrase “victory before war.” His vision was that any country taking full advantage of this technology could become invincible. He asserted that invincibility can never be attained through conventional weapons, but can be attained if a nation is incapable of creating enemies. If a nation has no collective stress, it becomes “friends” with everyone.

Prevention Wings of the Military consisting of about 3% of the military could ideally achieve this goal. These special units would be trained in the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and TM-Sidhi programs. They would practice them in large groups, twice a day. Extensive scientific research shows these programs not only reduce stress on the individual level, but also reduce the collective societal stress that is ultimately responsible for social problems, like war, terrorism and crime. For instance, a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution [http://invinciblemilitary.org/articles/sapratableii.
html#b41
] (32: 776-812, 1988) found that a group of only two hundred people practicing IDT in Israel during the Lebanon war were able to reduce war deaths there by seventy-six percent. A follow-up study of seven different TM-Sidhi assemblies published in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality [http://invinciblemilitary.org/articles/sapratableii.
html#b13
] (17: 1, 285-338, 2005) showed similar results as well as a 68% reduction of war injuries.

These “effects at a distance” have been studied in other ways, such as research showing changes in EEG (brainwave) coherence. During the practice of Transcendental Meditation, an individual experiences “transcendental consciousness,” a proposed fourth state of consciousness. This state is characterized by increased coherence of the EEG where different parts of the brain are working together more coherently. Increased EEG coherence during the TM program correlates with increased creativity and achievement outside the TM program, in activity. When many people practice this technique (or the more advanced TM-Sidhi program) together in one place, the coherence-generating effect is enhanced. Also, when meditating groups are large, similar increases in coherence are produced in subjects far removed from the group. One experiment showed increases in EEG coherence one thousand miles from the group. Another study offers a proposed explanation of causality in biological terms. Research conducted on the powerful neurotransmitter serotonin shows that it produces feelings of contentment, happiness and even euphoria. Low levels of serotonin, according to research, correlate with violence, aggression, and poor emotional moods. The peer-reviewed study showed that higher numbers of Invincible Defense Technology experts correlated with a marked increase in serotonin production among other community members. This finding offers a plausible neurophysiologic mechanism to explain reduced hostility and aggression in society at large. Another peer-reviewed study conducted globally showed that international terrorism dropped 72% and world conflict dropped 32% during the global experiment and went back to previous levels after it was over.

Militaries and civilian groups worldwide have already begun to harness the full potential of the human mind using Invincible Defense Technology. The book titled The Complete Book of Yogic Flying: Maharishi’s Mahesh Yogi’s Program for Enlightenment and Invincibility by Craig Pearson, Ph.D. is available at [http://mumpress.com/p_c16.html] and is the most comprehensive book available on the topic of Invincible Defense Technology.

Editor’s Note: The Seoul Times previously published Dr. David Leffler’s co-authored article with renowned quantum physicist John Hagelin , Ph.D., which further discusses the military potential of Invincible Defense Technology. It is titled “S. Korea Needs a Defense System Beyond Nuclear Weapons.” [http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=8459]

{Dr. David R. Leffler serves as the Executive Director at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) [http://www.StrongMilitary.org]. David received his Ph.D. in Consciousness-Based Military Defense from The Union Institute & University in Cincinnati.}

‘HOLISTIC’ STRATEGY
http://www.pajhwok.com/viewstory.asp?lng=eng&id=76279
Military solution improbable in Afghanistan
BY Maj.Gen.(Ret.) Kulwant Singh, Col. Brian Rees & Dr. David Leffler  /  Jun 17, 2009

In congressional testimony, Army Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal vowed that he would use a “holistic” strategy and take extreme measures to avoid Afghan civilian casualties. Its “measure of effectiveness will not be the number of enemy killed, it will be the number of Afghans shielded from violence,” he said. By starting to think holistically and measuring the effectiveness of avoiding casualties, McChrystal is on the right track. However, his new strategy may not be sufficient to bring an end to the protracted violence. War is based in social stress that is not likely to be ended by changing the rules of engagement, limiting airstrikes or using small ground units in search and detention operations.

Although a military solution to the Afghanistan war is improbable, it is possible to deploy a scientifically verified technology of defence to reduce societal stress and end the war. Extensive research has confirmed its effectiveness, and militaries have already applied it in order to defuse and eliminate conflict and prevent disruption and attack from within the country or outside the country.

Meditation has been shown to reduce stress not only in the individual but also throughout society. The Vedic tradition of knowledge, from ancient India, includes highly developed, non-religious meditation practices, in particular the Transcendental Meditation programme and its advanced techniques that have become the focus of intense scientific research over the past 50 years. These practices, taken together, are known as Invincible Defence Technology (IDT) in military circles. They have been used by members of many faiths to eliminate conflict in the recent past. If the military were to apply this human resource-based technology, which is non-lethal and non-destructive, it could reduce the collective societal stress fuelling the tensions in Afghanistan.

A Prevention Wing of the Military would be the ideal way to achieve this goal. It would comprise about 2 to 3 percent of the military of Afghanistan. The personnel involved would practice these technologies in large groups, morning and evening. Studies show that when the size of the IDT group reaches a particular threshold, war and terrorism abate, crime goes down in the affected population, and quality-of-life indices go up. Scientists have named this phenomenon the Maharishi Effect after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who first predicted it. In 1993, a two-month Maharishi Effect intervention was studied in Washington, DC. Predictions of specific drops in crime and other indices were lodged in advance with government leaders and newspapers. The research protocol was approved by an independent Project Review Board. The findings, published in Social Indicators Research, showed that crime fell 23 percent below the predicted level when the IDT group reached its maximum. Temperature, weekend effects, and previous trends in the data failed to account for changes.

Over 50 studies have evaluated and confirmed the reduction of crime, violence, terrorism, and even open warfare through the establishment of IDT groups. The causal mechanism has been postulated to be a field effect of consciousness — a spillover effect on the level of the unified field from the peace-creating group into the larger population. A study published in the Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality offers an explanation of a proposed causality of IDT in biological terms. Research on the powerful neurotransmitter serotonin has shown that it produces feelings of contentment, happiness and even euphoria. Low levels of serotonin correlate with violence, aggression, and poor emotional moods.

The peer-reviewed study showed that higher numbers of IDT experts practicing in groups correlated with an increase in serotonin production among other community members. These results were statistically significant and followed the attendance figures in the IDT group. This finding offers a plausible neurophysiologic mechanism to explain reduced aggression and hostility in society at large. The Maharishi Effect has also been documented on a global scale in a study published in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. When large assemblies of IDT experts exceeded the Maharishi Effect threshold for the world (about 7,000 at that time) during the years 1983-1985, terrorism globally decreased 72%, international conflict decreased 32%, and violence was reduced in other nations without intrusion by other governments. This study used data provided by the Rand Corporation.

The evidence indicates that the military may be able to accomplish its mission simply by establishing a coherence-creating unit of IDT experts. As part of its responsibility to protect, the military is obligated to thoroughly examine methods for preventing war and terrorism. IDT is such a method. All that is necessary is to provide the proper training for a group of military personnel- or indeed, any large group within the country. Lt. Gen. McChrystal has the opportunity today to implement a cost-effective, scientifically validated and truly holistic strategy to bring peace to Afghanistan. Events on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan may increase the difficulty of exploiting this opportunity in the future.

{Major General (R) Kulwant Singh, UYSM., PhD, leads an international group of generals and defence experts that advocates Invincible Defence Technology. Colonel Brian M. Rees, MD, US Army Reserve, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, is a graduate of the US Army War College, and is currently Deputy Command Surgeon of 63rd RRC, Los Alamitos, California. David Leffler, PhD, a US Air Force veteran, is the executive director at the Centre for Advanced Military Science.}

CONTACT
David Leffler
http://www.davidleffler.com/
email : drleffler [at] hotmail [dot] com

INVINCIBLE DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY
http://www.davidleffler.com/explanation.html
http://www.davidleffler.com/sapraalternative.html
http://www.davidleffler.com/sapratableii.html
http://www.davidleffler.com/links.html
http://istpp.org/manual.html

U.N. REFORESTATION PROJECT
http://www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign/
http://www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign/howtoplant/index.asp
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=593&ArticleID=6254&l=en
http://www.firstearthbattalion.org/?q=node/76

“Blue helmets have already planted nearly 30,000 saplings in 11 peacekeeping missions worldwide, in countries including Timor-Leste, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Georgia and Lebanon. To date, more than 4 billion trees have been planted, with 169 countries having taken part in UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign. Ethiopia alone has planted 1.4 billion trees, while Turkey has planted 707 million and Mexico has planted 537 million.”

PREVIOUSLY ON SPECTRE – HUMAN TERRAIN TEAMS
https://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/human-terrain-teams/
MILITARY CREATES ITS OWN EXIT STRATEGY
https://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2007/08/04/military-creates-its-own-exit-strategy/
“THESE PEOPLE HAVEN’T HEARD HEAVY METAL”
https://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2007/02/13/these-people-havent-heard-heavy-metal/
VOICE TO SKULL TECHNOLOGIES
https://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2007/02/05/voice-to-skull-technologies/
CARY GRANT’S THOUGHTS ON LSD
https://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/02/10/cary-grants-thoughts-on-lsd/