MatrixLeaks: January 2013

A Tale of Cocaine Trafficking, Sex Crime Charges, Extraordinary Rendition & Julian Assange



As reported at Dailycensored.com on November 14, 2012, two sources have alleged that the CIA has been engaging in cocaine trafficking in Chile to fund an $88 million campaign to defeat President Rafael Correa in Ecuador’s upcoming presidential election: former British Diplomat Craig Murray, and Chilean journalist  Patricio Mery Bell.

It is no secret that the US wants to see Correa defeated and the presidential election scheduled next month in Ecuador will see whether he is. He has enacted policies the US government considers adverse to US interests including closing the US military base in Ecuador. Moreover, it is likely the US sees the defeat of Correa as key to getting its hands on Julian Assange.

There is also the $19 billion judgment by an Ecuadorean court against Chevron for despoiling the Amazon rainforest. A group of the plaintiffs have recently begun initiating legal proceedings to seize Chevron’s assets in Canada, Brazil and Argentina.


The allegations of Cocaine trafficking are strikingly similar to cocaine trafficking by the CIA in the 1980s to fund the Contras in Nicaragua.

Patricio Mery Bell is head of the Panorama news service in Chile. In October 2012, Bell arranged to meet with the Ecuadorian president while Correa was in Chile, to present evidence of CIA cocaine trafficking in Chile to fund Correa’s defeat.

On his way to meet with Correa, Patricio Bell was arrested and charged with assaulting a woman. His cell phone, which contained evidence to be presented to Correa, was confiscated and never returned.

Patricio Bell claims he was set up by the woman accusing him, and it has been reported that the she has ties to a CIA backed anti Castro groups in Miami. The charges against Bell  are suspiciously similar to those against Assange, but the coincidences don’t end there.

Craig Murray is the other person who has disclosed allegations that the CIA was trafficking cocaine in Chile to fund the defeat of Correa in Ecuador. Murray had two independent sources, one in the UK the other in Washington.

Craig Murray is a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who exposed torture, renditions and collusion between the CIA and British MI6. He was subsequently charged with extortion for sexual purposes and blackmailing people into sex in exchange for British visas. He did get his name cleared 18 months later.

   Sex crime charges

The sex crime charges against Assange, Bell and Murray are part of a pattern of whistle blowers being charged with sex crimes which includes Iraqi weapons inspector Scott Ritter and Guantanamo Bay Chaplain James Yee.

As Craig Murray reported: after returning to the US, Iraqi weapons inspector Scott Ritter was entrapped in a computer sex sting set up by the FBI. Not coincidentally, this occurred after Ritter publicly stated that there were no weapons of Mass destruction in Iraq.


Chaplain James Yee exposed mistreatment of inmates at Guantanamo Bay. After espionage charges were dropped against him, Yee was convicted of adultery and having pornography on a government computer, only to have those convictions later overturned.

Sexual entrapment has long been used in espionage to blackmail adversaries and recruit spies. Now it appears it is being used against whistleblowers. The fact that Britain used sex crime charges against Craig Murray heightens suspicions of collusion with the US to render Julian Assange.

   Djibouti

For those skeptical that Britain, Sweden and the US are collaborating to render Assange, a story out of Djibouti should put to rest any doubts. According to an article by the UK’s Independent (thanks to Truthout.org reader Arbed121), three Somali men were arrested in the African country of Djibouti last August and accused by US agents of supporting the Somali militia Al Sabah. A lawyer for the men claim the three were sojourning in Djibouti when they crossed paths with “friendly” undercover CIA and FBI agents.

The three were interrogated by US agents in Djibouti (a country which has a history of assisting the US with renditions) without being charged with any crime. After two months, they were secretly indicted in New York, taken into custody by the FBI and flown to the US to stand trial.

Two of the men were Swedish citizens, one a resident of Britain. Britain and Sweden had been monitoring the three for some time. The UK stripped the British man of his residency. Sweden has made no effort to defend their citizens. The Independent article reported Sweden has in fact cooperated with the US on a number of rendition cases.


   Julian Assange

The charges against Julian Assange must be viewed in context with the sex crime charges against Craig Murray, Patricio Bell, James Yee and Scott Ritter. Add the collaboration between Britain, Sweden and the US in the Djibouti renditions and we find even more evidence that these three countries may be colluding to render Assange.


At a speech from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Craig Murray claimed Wikileaks revealed how governments had colluded in the rendition and torture of individuals across the globe. And now some of these same governments appear to be colluding to render Assange.

From renditions in Africa to cocaine trafficking in South America, the US war on terror rolls on unceasingly as it targets and takes out adversaries across the globe. Many, such as the Djibouti three, have committed no offenses against the US. Chile, Britain, Sweden, and Djibouti reveal a chilling pattern of international governments acting unlawfully – presumably at the behest of the US military-industrial complex.

It is clear the US views Julian Assange as an ongoing threat to exposing its mischief across the globe. Vice President Joe Biden has even labeled him a high-tech terrorist. And now the US has in its sights the one leader who has stood up for Assange, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, as the CIA has allegedly trafficked cocaine in Chile to fund a plot to get rid of him.

Apparently Correa now fears for his life, because he recently publicly stated there may be a CIA plan to assassinate him.

   An Orwellian story

The facts of this tale bear a striking resemblance to what Orwell wrote about in his dystopic novel, 1984. We are in an unending state of perpetual war with an ill-defined and shifting enemy and the populace are under constant surveillance while individuals are labeled sex criminals and terrorists and then hunted down for offenses that often are little more than “thought crimes.” They are then coerced into confessing their “crimes” after being subjected to techniques which include waterboarding, not unlike the practices described in Orwell’s notorious 1984, Room 101.

Newspeak and double think are now the order of the day. “Cocaine trafficking” is the “war on drugs”, “rendition is liberty”, “subverting elections” is “democracy” and “framing whistleblowers” is “justice”.







Print Page

Anti-suicide nasal spray for U.S. Army



US Army grants $3 million for anti-suicide nasal spray research

The U.S. Army gave $3 million to the University of Indiana to develop an antidepressant that can be taken as a nasal spray. The grant could speed the development of a portable and easy-to-use device for preventing mental health problems.

One of the reasons depression and suicidal tendencies are so challenging to treat is that most medicines can't easily be delivered to the brain. Your brain is protected by the aptly named blood-brain barrier, which is specifically designed to keep any outside material from getting inside. While that's good in most situations, the barrier also keeps out medicines.



The nasal spray uses a nanoparticle delivery approach to send very tiny droplets of a drug called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) into the body and across the blood-brain barrier. That way, the drug reaches the brain and dissolves slowly. TRH has demonstrated the potential to prevent suicide, depression, and bipolar disorder in other studies, but right now, a spinal tap is the only way to send it to the brain. If the researchers at the University of Indiana are successful, the delivery approach could lead to a new treatment that would be effective without being invasive. The technology could be applied to other diseases beyond mental illnesses, too.

Tragically, mental health problems are not uncommon in the military. Report for the year 2012:

The Army suicide pace this year is surpassing last year, particularly among active-duty soldiers where there is a 22% increase — 116 deaths so far this year vs. 95 during the same seven months last year, according to Army data.

The current Army suicide rate seven months into this year is 29 deaths-per-100,000, far surpassing last year's rate of about 23 deaths-per-100,000, says Bruce Shahbaz, an Army analyst. Those rates compare with a 2009 civilian rate — the latest available data — of 18.5 for a demographically similar population.

A new pattern has emerged this year with more suicides among veteran soldiers than among younger GIs, Shahbaz says.

Within the active-duty Army in 2012, there were 54 suicides among enlisted soldiers ranked sergeant or higher (not including officers ranked lieutenant or higher) compared with 46 among junior enlisted, the first time this has happened, Shahbaz says. The Army has traditionally viewed younger soldiers as the most vulnerable suicide population, but that may be changing, he says.

Shahbaz says one theory for the higher rate of suicide is that with the draw-down of troops from combat, soldiers are spending more time at home and the emotional adjustments have become a struggle.


The July record included 26 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers and 12 among National Guard or Reserve soldiers who were not on active-duty service. The 26 suicides are also a monthly all-time record high for the active-duty Army.

Fort Bragg, N.C., reported the most suicides of any Army installation so far this year with 13 deaths.

In a recent interview with USA TODAY, Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, said suicides are now the most common form of death in the Army, claiming more lives that combat or motor vehicle accidents.

"We're very focused on this," Odierno said, citing a campaign begun this year aimed at improving emotional resiliency, closely monitoring soldier attitudes and regularly assessing support programs.

Suicides have increased across the military, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress last month. He said servicemembers of all branches are killing themselves at the rate of about one per day. "That is an epidemic," he testified. "Something's wrong."

The problem is worse within the Army, which saw its suicide rate double from 2004 to 2009, before stabilizing for three years.

Given the sharp increase in suicides so far this year, the Army is poised for its first significant jump in its suicide rate since 2009, Shahbaz says.

Odierno says a key factor in reducing suicides is other soldiers assisting a troubled friend. "If we can start getting peers coming forward and telling somebody, 'Hey, we really might have a problem here,' that's when we're having success," he says.

   TRH has antidepressant effects

Lead researcher Dr Michael Kubek claims that a chemical compound based on a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) is capable of almost-instantly cheering people up.


He told The Daily: “We've known since the 1970s that TRH has antidepressant effects, and it works quite rapidly. The bottom-line problem has been figuring out how to get it into the brain.”

But he emphasised that it wouldn’t replace anti-depressants.

He added: “The phase directly after starting an antidepressant is very vulnerable time frame in a patient's life. The nasal spray would stabilise them right away, while they wait for the anti-depressants to do their job.”

Dr Sandrine Dupre, a research associate in The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences, told The Huffington Post UK: “TRH is an important chemical in the brain which has a central role in the regulation of many physiological processes.

"It is known to play a key role in helping the body produce thyroid hormones when it senses levels circulating in the blood have dropped – abnormal concentrations of thyroid hormones have been associated with depression.

“TRH administered as a nasal spray in rats has been shown to be an effective way of targeting the brain and had anti-seizure effects but the exact mechanisms involved are still not fully understood. The multi-functionality of this neuropeptide also makes it difficult to predict if the proposed anti-depression treatment will have an effect.”

General Lloyd J Austin III, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, said earlier this year that in a career spanning 37 years, suicides were the toughest enemy that he’d ever faced.

The suicide rate among US soldiers is around 40% higher compared to civilians of a similar age – and there are more deaths from suicide than from combat or vehicle accidents, according to USA Today.

While the suicide rate is increasing in the military, it is also an increasing concern in the US civilian population.

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years. Every day, more than 100 Americans take their own life.




Print Page

Money, Sex, the Holy Bible...



Catholic Church Makes A Fortune In The German Porn Business

"Weltbild", Germany’s largest media company, sells books, DVDs, music and more -- and also happens to belong 100% to the Catholic Church. Few people knew about this connection until this month when Buchreport, a German industry newsletter, reported that the Catholic company also sells porn.


A Church spokesman responded: “Weltbild tries to prevent the distribution of possibly pornographic content.”


Well, it's prevention efforts have apparently not been so successful. For more than 10 years, a group of committed Catholics has been trying to point out what is going on to Church authorities, and they are outraged at the hypocrisy of the spokesman's statement. In 2008, the group sent a 70-page document to all the bishops whose dioceses have shared ownership of Weltbild for 30 years, detailing evidence of the sale of questionable material.


Today, the Augsburg-based company employs 6,400 people, has an annual turnover of 1.7 billion euros, and an online business in Germany second only to Amazon. Weltbild is also Germany’s leading book seller, controlling 20% of the domestic bookstore market. Profits are regularly reinvested in the company with an eye to rapidly increase the market share – an increase that is only possible if Weltbild continues to sell materials that are not compatible with the teachings of the Church.

The 2,500 erotic books in their online catalogue, including those from Blue Panther Books, an erotic book publisher owned by Weltbild, are only one example. Their titles include: “Anwaltshure” (Lawyer’s Whore), “Vögelbar” (F—kable) and “Schlampen-Internat” (Sluts’ Boarding School).

The Church also owns a 50% share in publishing company Droemer Knaur which produces pornographic books, and so indirectly is also a publisher of pornographic material, titles including “Nimm mich hier und nimm mich jetzt!” (Take Me Here, Take Me Now!), and “Sag Luder zu mir!” (Call Me Slut!).

   As the Church sells S & M

16/07/2012


50 shades of gray circulates through Weltbilt. A marketing choice or an oversight?

The Church frowned upon the spread of a wise education as "Make Love," but circulates freely the book of the moment: "Fifty shades of gray".

THE EVENT - Not even two weeks ago, the Pope drew attention to the sale of erotic and esoteric books on-line "Weltbild" but the text has miraculously escaped the ban. The publishing group is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese: Each sale was and should be monitored according to Christian principles but is still debate. It is a lack of economic controls or a move?

A doubt may arise, whereas "50 shades of gray" is at the top of the charts in many countries. Meanwhile, "Make Love" was banned despite having a noble purpose:
The authors say that such a text has ambitious goals, wants to teach future adults to hear, in fact, the essay also explains a number of practical exercises. Make Love the kids by the hand and teaches them how to get closer to your body because most know the sex of children only through the computer. "The 80% of fourteen year olds already watch porn movies, in practice it comes to sexuality through a screen that shows couples kissing, making love in an aggressive manner: this is what they learn about sex."

It is not the first time he receives Weltbild critics to attack the proposal of erotic and pornographic literature:

Securities sold by a red light of the biggest German publishers cases, Weltbild, had created a major scandal in Germany last year. The reason was the share ownership of Weltbild, wholly in the hands of the Catholic Church, with a lot of bishops or their representatives on the board of directors or supervisory board. The marketing material in sharp contrast with Catholic morality had raised a media uproar, among other things, started by some conservative Christian groups, who thought it intolerable that the clerical propose an eroticism for the masses. A thesis accepted with some reluctance and hesitation, even from the hierarchy. The German Bishops' Conference had decided to sell Weltbild, to get rid of its "scandalous" activities ".


CRITICAL - The Bishop of Augsburg Zdarsa Konrad criticized widely distributing the book BDSM, although a note accompanying the sale: "We believe that the story of this book is disturbing because it shows the subjugation of women" but the button will flash a few inches for sale .

DEFENCE - Many priests have continued to complain about the inappropriate presence of a similar text, but the economic measures is clear: the text is so widespread that it must go beyond the prohibitions. The note accompanying the sale is not mandatory for all retailers and continues to appear on the shelves of the web without problems.

ATTACKS -  Where does the fear of the spread of such a text? "Children and young people may be influenced in a negative way and the question of 'abortion could get out of his private value." The Church critic Carel Halff and wonders if his approach was in part supported by the bishops who oversee the sale of the texts. For now answer is the result of budget management edited by Halff: sales have increased and, according to some market research, GFK (funded by the new foundation promoted by twelve German dioceses with 49 million) became the third store most popular on-line sales in Germany after Amazon and eBay. It will be enough to silence the critics?

   The German bishops prefer bondage to the Pope

04/09/2012

Despite the order of Benedict XVI, the publishing company controlled by the church's birth Ratzinger continues to sell securities erotic as "50 Shades of Grey".

The affairs of the Catholic Church with the 'eroticism are also worried about the Pope In Germany the intervention of Pope Benedict XVI is not, however, served to stop the business, as the publisher Weltbild is still in the hands of the German bishops.

THE POPE'S WORRIED - Last year, the event generated great fanfare Weltbild in Germany. The publishing company is a major player in the German market, and sells books and video materials of all kinds, including titles from erotic content. It would be normal because the porn eros or sell a lot, but the problem is the property of Weltbild.


This fall publishing is in fact owned by the Catholic Church in Germany 100%, ended in embarrassment as commercial erotic material that blatantly contradicts the message of the bishops. Pope Benedict XVI was in full knowledge of the case, according to a letter signed by his secretary, Georg Gänswein of 2 November 2011 and addressed to the Deputy Foreign Minister Hector Balestrero Vatican published the book by Gianluigi Nuzzi "Your Holiness." "The Holy Father has decided: we must act immediately," writes Father Georg in reference to the scandal caused by Weltbild.

CONTRADICTED VATICAN - The Pope's message, however, is only heard by the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and not respected. The order came from Rome to sell is in fact not yet been realized, if ever. A few weeks after the outbreak of the case, the German Bishops' Conference announces first offering for sale of Weltbild, and then his company transformation. The control remains completely in the hands of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which fall into the now familiar contradiction. The bestselling erotic "50 shades of gray" is sold with great success, by Weltbild, thus disproving the order given by the Pope, who does not want the publisher of his church sells books by sexually explicit.


Maybe once someone writes a book - "50 shades of Catholic Church"






Print Page

Happy birthday, Guantánamo! 3




 Each Year in January, MatrixLeaks will publish the same article - "Happy birthday, Guantanamo!" - until the cruel cage will not be closed - as Mr. Obama promised in January 2010. 

  "I intend to close Guantánamo, and would not give it up. Many times I have repeated that the United States does not conduct torture and I will make sure that indeed be so. I will make every effort to increase America's moral reputation in the world", Barack Obama said during his election campaign, in which, among other things, promised to be one of the first things you will do will be closing the Guantánamo base. Base Guantánamo will be closed to 22. January 2010., believe me."

Already we in 2013 year, and Barack Obama president of the nearly four years. Gunatánamo this week have the birthday cake candles. Eleven years of existence. There is no indication that it will close the base, which thinks about its one hundred and seventy four inmates - um, who do they ask?



The camp for prisoners at Guantanamo was opened in 2002, under the Bush administration, and its purpose is, how then said - keeping al-Qaeds members who are or will one day be accused of terrorism. The intention was to quit and other individuals who are considered risky for the security of the United States. It all happened while they were extremely fresh wounds from the so-called terrorist attacks of September 11, so the American public greeted the project with Bush's approval. The base is a large 116 square kilometers and consists of several camps, which, because of the treatment of prisoners, can be called concentration camps. The most important are Delta and Iguana Camp. The first twenty prisoners arrived at Guantánamo 11. January 2002. Since then, the base marched hundredth person, some were released, some convicted, all tortured and changed forever.



Amnesty International sends the years appeals to the U.S. government, saying the violation of the rights of prisoners, and one of their reports, in 2005 George W. Bush commented, it seems to me that they do some of their decisions based on the world and accusations of prisoners, people who hate America , people who are trained not to tell the truth. Indeed, America is a free country you do not have the right to hate. Why the hate, you ask? Gunatánamo is the best illustration of the tactics of intimidation, torture by the U.S. government applies worldwide. Just drape the flag of democracy and crime can begin. In peace, for freedom!

   As in the cage

It has already been written about the case of Omar Khadra, "child of Guantanamo". Recently, his sister, Zaynab Khadra, gave an interview for the site Cageprisoners.


Zaynab Khadra said, among other things, how to work with Omar first heard in 2006, four years after being caught. After that, her and her family were allowed two phone calls a year, why they had to travel to Ottawa, because the conversation could be done only from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From the calls of 2009 can be performed via the Red Cross, so now the family is able to hear with Omar even three to four times a year. Zaynab said her brother grew up, his voice is more mature, his dialect is changed, such that the same person, and yet completely different. Omar does not believe in the legal system, the only way to find faith and rare interviews with his family. It acts more powerful than all of us, "said Zaynab.
Numerous other interviews can be found at the above-mentioned website. Cageprisoners is a British non-profit organization founded by former inmates of Guantanamo. On their website you can find personal testimonies, reports and latest news related to Guantánamo. Their goal is to be the voice of those who can not speak.



                                   Omar Khadra at the time of his arrest and today (talkleft.com)


   Death as a way

When you torture, humiliate, intimidate, offend, and they themselves may be unsure why, when you are about to end power and a better tomorrow eludes you every day, as the only way you might see them - death. By 2008, at Guantanamo were recorded four committed suicide and hundreds of attempts. It is a fact known to the public, and can only guess at the actual figures, which are assumed to be higher. Only in August 2003 there were eight three p.m. suicide attempt, which the Pentagon described as "manipulative behavior". 10 June 2006, three prisoners were found dead. The official statement was that the Pentagon appears to have committed suicide pact. Prison commander Admiral Harry Harris said the reason for suicide could not be despair, because the reasons for the despair and depression inmates had. I tried to kill himself, said Shad Muhammad, of twenty from Pakistan, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and sent to Gunatánamo 2002. I tried four times, because we are disgusted by my life. We needed more blankets, but they did not listen. They never listened, "he said. Washington Post reported that documents on the methods of all sorts torture in Gunatánamo - exposure to hot and cold during sleep, bright light, extremely loud music, hard tests.


   Admit it and you will receive medication

Adel El-Gazzar, former prisoner Gunatánama, the base has arrived with injured leg, after twenty to give a long journey from Pakistan. Twenty-five days he spent in what was then Camp X-ray (the camp was established in 2002, later repealed, and the prisoners were transferred to Camp Delta). After these twenty-five days after being rushed to the hospital to his amputated leg. El-Gazzara asked that he cleaned the wound and change dressings every day, as though to avoid amputation, but his request was denied. Wound was opened and forced him to a shower several times a day, and every new contact with water it was very painful. One day is spent crying in pain. There was a doctor with painkillers. I'll give you a drug, and the pain will go away for ten minutes, you just have to first sign a confession that you are a member of al-Qaeda, he said. El-Gazzara has refused to sign a confession. Shortly after his leg was amputated. During his stay in the database, even thirteen prisoners amputated leg. He says that the problem was not in wounds, and which were not great, but the inadequate medical treatment for which he came to amputation. Despite the pain the prisoners were able to sleep only at certain times and certain number of hours. If they violate the rules, hit them in the head, they took blankets, denied food, and threatened with further abuse.
Adel El-Gazzara after eight years was released from Gunatánamo and sent to Slovakia, the first thing I did was that I cried like a baby. I was really, really happy to leave this awful place, but also sad because my brothers who remained there. I wondered how I'm going to start a new life in an unfamiliar country, with an uncertain future. Prisoners in Gunatánamo my brothers, with them, I've spent more years than with his own wife and children. We suffered together under the same conditions. We are one big family, and I am sorry that I left them on the site. You know, it sounds strange - but Gunatánamo world outside is cold, cold place. There are, even in suffering, were together, side by side. Outside, everyone looks at their job, nobody cares for others.



   The future?

Obviously not enough sad that it closed. Announced the relocation of prisoners in long-Thomson Correctional Center in Illionis. However, on 30 April, 2010th year, the base is closed. Another new year prisoners were greeted with the good old Gitmo, no reason to celebrate. They are one hundred and seventy four pending, they should not move, they need freedom, they want to return to their homes from which they were drawn because they are dark and worship Allah. On their face bonded with a label "terrorist ", they are to blame for all the woes of the great American people on behalf of that with them you can handle whatever the big ones will. Nine years ago, before the eyes of the entire world, with prisoners be treated as the biggest vermin, scum who should be removed from this otherwise vibrant planet. Muslims are guilty!

They hang up first, so they are tried. As the Wild West. Just as the Wild West were both good cowboys, brave fighters who would proudly rode into the sunset.






 Note:  The first article was written a two year ago can be read here.
I hope that I would not write about this inhumanity who looks like that is from the 14th century!!!




Print Page

Joystick Death



The Woes of an American Drone Operator

A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can't do it anymore.


For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn't be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.


The container is filled with the humming of computers. It's the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren't flying through the air. They're just sitting at the controls.

Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact.



"These moments are like in slow motion," he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.

With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.

Second zero was the moment in which Bryant's digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.


"Did we just kill a kid?" he asked the man sitting next to him.

"Yeah, I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.

"Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.

They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?

   Invisible Warfare

 When Bryant left the container that day, he stepped directly into America: dry grasslands stretching to the horizon, fields and the smell of liquid manure. Every few seconds, a light on the radar tower at the Cannon Air Force Base flashed in the twilight. There was no war going on there.

Former soldier Brandon Bryant, 27, takes a break near his home in Missoula, Montana. Bryant has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He flew drone missions in Iraq and Afghanistan during which he saw both American soldiers and Afghan civilians killed.

Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance. It is no unfettered war, but one that is controlled from small high-tech centers in various places in the world. The new (way of conducting) war is supposed to be more precise than the old one, which is why some call it "more humane." It's the war of an intellectual, a war United States President Barack Obama has promoted more than any of his predecessors.

In a corridor at the Pentagon where the planning for this war takes place, the walls are covered with dark wood paneling. The men from the Air Force have their offices here. A painting of a Predator, a drone on canvas, hangs next to portraits of military leaders. From the military's perspective, no other invention has been as successful in the "war on terror" in recent years as the Predator.

The US military guides its drones from seven air bases in the United States, as well as locations abroad, including one in the East African nation of Djibouti. From its headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the CIA controls operations in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.


   'We Save Lives'

Colonel William Tart, a man with pale eyes and a clear image of the enemy, calls the drone a "natural extension of the distance."

Until a few months ago, when he was promoted to head the US Air Force's Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Task Force in Langley, Tart was a commander at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, near Las Vegas, where he headed drone operations. Whenever he flew drones himself, he kept a photo of his wife and three daughters pasted into the checklist next to the monitors.

The Predator: From the US military's perspective, no other invention has been as successful in the "war on terror" in recent years as the drone.

He doesn't like the word drone, because he says it implies that the vehicle has its own will or ego. He prefers to call them "remotely piloted aircraft," and he points out that most flights are for gathering information. He talks about the use of drones on humanitarian missions after the earthquake in Haiti, and about the military successes in the war in Libya: how his team fired on a truck that was pointing rockets at Misrata, and how it chased the convoy in which former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and his entourage were fleeing. He describes how the soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan are constantly expressing their gratitude for the assistance from the air. "We save lives," he says.

He doesn't say as much about the targeted killing. He claims that during his two years as operations commander at Creech, he never saw any noncombatants die, and that the drones only fire at buildings when women and children are not in them. When asked about the chain of command, Tart mentions a 275-page document called 3-09.3. Essentially, it states that drone attacks must be approved, like any other attacks by the Air Force. An officer in the country where the operations take place has to approve them.

The use of the term "clinical war" makes him angry. It reminds him of the Vietnam veterans who accuse him of never having waded through the mud or smelled blood, and who say that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

That isn't true, says Tart, noting that he often used the one-hour drive from work back to Las Vegas to distance himself from his job. "We watch people for months. We see them playing with their dogs or doing their laundry. We know their patterns like we know our neighbors' patterns. We even go to their funerals." It wasn't always easy, he says.

One of the paradoxes of drones is that, even as they increase the distance to the target, they also create proximity. "War somehow becomes personal," says Tart.

   'I Saw Men, Women and Children Die'

 A yellow house stands on the outskirts of the small city of Missoula, Montana, against a background of mountains, forests and patches of fog. The ground is coated with the first snow of the season. Bryant, now 27, is sitting on the couch in his mother's living room. He has since left the military and is now living back at home. He keeps his head shaved and has a three-day beard. "I haven't been dreaming in infrared for four months," he says with a smile, as if this were a minor victory for him.

The Creech Air Force Base north of Las Vegas, Nevada, is an important center of US drone operations. Here, protesters can be seen demonstrating against the use of the unmanned aircraft, which have resulted in civilian deaths in several Arab and Asian states.

Bryant completed 6,000 flight hours during his six years in the Air Force. "I saw men, women and children die during that time," says Bryant. "I never thought I would kill that many people. In fact, I thought I couldn't kill anyone at all."





Print Page

The World Water Crisis




I've just watched Irena Salina's incredible, infuriating documentary FLOW: For Love of Water, a film about the often-invisible and underreported global water crisis. Ranging from widespread US contamination to the tragedy of developing nations who are forced by the World Bank to sell their water companies like Vivendi, Nestle, Suez and Thames, who get sweetheart deals to offer substandard, overpriced monopoly water service, at terrible cost to human life.


Global water profiteering is at the center of a global healthcare crisis that kills more people than AIDS or malaria. The film shows the grim reality of water in Asia, Africa, South and Central America, and the USA. The mortality is awful, and not just from bad water or no water -- also from police forces in states like Bolivia who go to war against people whose water supply has been sold to foreign multinationals who are reaping windfall profits while they die.

In the US and Europe, the bottled water industry pulls in billions to sell products that are more contaminated and toxic than what comes out of the tap. The result is a gigantic mountain of empty plastic bottles that toxify the environment -- and three times more money spent on bottled water than it would take to solve the world's real water crisis. The companies like Nestle that pump out our aquifers use private investigators to harass people who sign petitions to stop them from pumping.

But it's not all doom and gloom -- low-cost, sustainable purification technologies like ultraviolet water-health run by village cooperatives can make dramatic development differences for the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, who are able to maintain their own systems without foreign involvement. Local activists all over the world and fighting back and winning public, non-profit ownership of their waterworks.

The companies that control our water control our lives. Without us even noticing it, we've handed the planet's destiny to a few companies with a plan to line their pockets by holding our survival hostage.

Going a bit overboard at first with the new-agey platitudes and enough lush close-ups of trickling streams to make Terrence Malick green with envy, Salina starts out taking a macro view, presenting the water cycle as something akin to a circulatory system for all life on Earth. Then she gets out a magnifying glass, and things start getting scary.

It's never pleasant to look closely at what you're actually consuming, and the early segments of Flow are sure to send you scrambling home from the theater to change that expired Brita filter in the fridge. There are more than 116,000 manmade chemicals floating around our allegedly clean H2O supply, with one scientist even pointing to the recent discovery of Prozac in Texas tap water. (Come to think of it, that actually explains a lot about the Lone Star State.)

Of course, this wouldn't be a modern doc without at least one or two jaw-dropping examples of cronyism and incompetence from the Bush administration, so you'll be pleased to learn that our Environmental Protection Agency currently doesn't bother regulating 51 known water contaminants. My personal favorite is the popular pesticide atrazine, an endocrine disruptor so toxic it causes prostate cancer in humans and turns boy frogs into girl frogs; the EPA's okay with us spraying 76 million pounds of this junk all over the countryside every year. The usage of atrazine is banned in the European Union, which provides Salina her best ironic punch line, since that's where we buy it from.

                                                                  Irena Salina

But don't assume buying bottled water will keep you any safer. It turns out that stuff is even less regulated than what comes out of your taps (and sometimes that's exactly what you're buying). The UN estimates the entire world could be provided with clean drinking water for about a third of what we're spending per year on bottles of Dasani and Poland Spring. But alas, this is a big business, with profit margins ranking alongside electricity and oil, so naturally the sharks have already moved in to try and privatize it all.

Salina's concerned most with the concept of ownership. Like air or sunshine, water is a transient substance. But don't tell that to the smiling suits in companies like Suez and Vivendi. The privatization of water supplies in developing countries is a complicated scam that's been going on for years, and should probably be the subject of its own feature. Flow doesn't spend nearly enough time tracing it back through the World Bank and the IMF, but we're at least treated to some vinegary footage of well-heeled execs snarling at poor people. (The 2000 Cochabamba Water Wars, in which citizens took to the streets and eventually drove out the profiteers, make a too-brief appearance here, as they did in the 2005 doc The Corporation.)



But this question of possession isn't just a problem for other countries. Flow's most compelling segment chronicles the members of a Michigan farming community who tried to fight back after Nestle plunked down a bottling plant in their backyards. Appalled to find their streams transformed into mudflats and sudden sinkholes all over town, local activists waged a petition protest that was met with intimidating visits from thuggish private eyes. Their initial legal victories are currently being ground down in the appeals process.

Flow too often gets bogged down with lyrical dithering. Salina's a much better muckraker than she is a poet. But despite all the touchy-feely frou-frou on the margins, the movie raises some uneasy questions about commodification of natural resources and the public good  that are worth thinking about, even after you've changed that old Brita filter.

Flow is seeking signatures for a petition to the UN:  "Article 31: Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance."


FLOW is a documentary film that every man should look! It will certainly change your view of the greatest natural treasures!



FLOW - For Love Of Water - Full Length













Print Page
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...