Saturday, May 02, 2009

Stewart On Jane Harman & The Israeli Spies

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Your Government Not at Work - Jane Harman Scandal
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days


Aporkalypse Now: Finding the Real Swine in the Pandemic Pandemonium

Finding the Real Swine in the Pandemic Pandemonium

by Lucinda Marshall / May 2nd, 2009

For the last eight years, there has been no shortage of things to worry about: Bin Laden, Al Queda, Saddam Hussein, Anthrax, Bird Flu, Katrina, sub-prime mortgages, health care costs, gas pump prices, unemployment, stock price plunges and now we have H1N1, the non-Kosher virus formerly known as Swine Flu.

The news media is pigging out (sorry, I’ll try to contain myself) with 24/7 coverage of the potential pandemic and breathless reports that this is the new Black Death and millions could die. According to MSNBC, “H1N1 swine flu is seen as the biggest risk since H5N1 avian flu re-emerged in 2003, killing 257 people of 421 infected in 15 countries. In 1968 a “Hong Kong” flu pandemic killed about 1 million people globally, and a 1957 pandemic killed about 2 million. Seasonal flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people in a normal year, including healthy children in rich countries.” However, as I write this, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, only 12 people have died so far of this outbreak of H1N1.

To put all of this in further perspective, it is useful to compare these numbers to the annual number of deaths from other causes. According to WHO:

  • 1 million people die from malaria each year
  • 2 million from AIDS
  • 2 million from air pollution
  • 7.4 million from cancer
  • 17.5 million from cardiovascular disease
  • 1.6 million from tuberculosis

In other words, we KNOW that 31.5 million people will die each year from causes that in large part could be prevented, but 7 deaths a pandemic makes? Have we, as Simon Jenkins suggests in the Guardian all gone demented? Perhaps. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that WHO knows what it is talking about and that a lot of people could get sick from this virus, the question then becomes whether it is the virus we should fear or our ability to react to it.

Like any other disease, the first question should always be what is causing it and how can we prevent it, not the pharmaceutical industry driven approach of how can we (profitably) treat it with drugs such as Tamiflu, which as I noted during the bird flu scare is made by a company in which former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield has a significant financial stake.

Another critical point is that unlike birds that can fly pretty much anywhere, human and pig interaction is for the most part limited to farms, especially factory farms and circumstantial evidence indicates that this outbreak may have originated at a Smithfield Foods facility in Perote, Mexico. Grist reports that, “Smithfield operates massive hog-raising operations Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak originated. The operations, grouped under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carroll, raise 950,000 hogs per year.” According to Grist, 30% of the population living near the plant have become ill with flu-like symptoms which they believe is due contamination from the hog factory.

But as Narco News points out, the real culprit in swine flu may be NAFTA which went into effect the same year that Smithfield opened its Mexican facility in the aftermath of being hit with huge fines for environmental pollution in the U.S., “The so-called “swine flu” exploded because an environmental disaster simply moved to Mexico where environmental and worker safety laws, if they exist, are not enforced against powerful multinational corporations.”

The issue of whether agri-business run factory farms are the source of the problem has been all but ignored by the U.S. media. Instead we are being told to stay home if sick and seek medical care if really sick. Nice advice presuming you have paid sick leave benefits and health insurance. And even for those able to seek medical care, there are real questions about the adequacy of whether our problem-plagued healthcare infrastructure to handle a massive additional medical incident. As John Nichols points out, we need to reinstate funding for pandemic response; disaster preparedness and infrastructure maintenance aren’t luxuries, they are a necessity, something we surely should have learned from Hurricane Katrina.

So while we need to take this threat seriously, we need to do so in the context of the many existing health pandemics that already exist, we need to take steps to insure that our healthcare system itself is healthy and we need to address the root causes of what allowed the conditions in which the H1N1 virus manifested and take the necessary steps to correct policies that endanger public health.

Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the US and abroad. She also blogs at WIMN Online and writes a monthly column for the Louisville Eccentric Observer. Read other articles by Lucinda, or visit Lucinda's website.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Political Lies and Media Disinformation regarding the Swine Flu Pandemic

What is the flu? Influenza (the flu) is a serious contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Millions of people in the United States get the flu each year. Most people are sick for about a week. Some people (especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems) can get very sick and may die from the flu. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The World Health Organization (WHO) raised its pandemic alert level to Phase 5 on a 6 point scale.

The WHO's Phase 5 alert means "there is sustained human-to-human spread in at least two countries and that global outbreak of the disease is imminent... It also signals an increased effort to produce a vaccine... Human cases have been confirmed in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Britain, Israel, New Zealand and Spain." (emphasis added)

According to reports, the WHO took this decision after " a 23-month-old [child] died [from the swine flu] in Texas after travelling there from Mexico for medical treatment."

The swine flu was, according to reports, confirmed in 11 states in the US. Health officials at the WHO in Geneva and Washington are quoted as saying that the "spread of the virus is unlikely to stop".

The media has gone into full gear with little analysis and review of the evidence, focussing their attention on the more than 2400 cases of non-specific influenza in Mexico.

"the global outbreak is imminent...

all countries should activate preparedness plans",

The worst health crisis facing the world in 90 years..."

On the day following the WHO's Phase 5 Pandemic Alert, a scientist attached to the European Union's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention hinted, without evidence, that the epidemic could potentially affect 40% to 50% of the EU population "in a mild way". (See, April 30, 2009).

Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the World Health Organisation task force on swine flu, stated that "40 per cent of people in the UK could be infected within the next six months if the country was hit by a pandemic."

“We don’t really know what size epidemic we will get over the next couple of months... It is almost certain that, even if it does fade away in the next few weeks – which it might – we will get a seasonal epidemic in the autumn."

We might expect up to 30 to 40 per cent of the population to become ill in the next six months if this truly turns into a pandemic. “We could get substantial numbers infected in the next few weeks but, if I was to be a betting man, I would say it would be slightly longer because we are moving into summer.” Prof. Ferguson said the 152 deaths in Mexico probably made up a relatively small proportion of the total number infected, which might run into tens or hundreds of thousands." (Daily Express, May 1, 2009)

The media reports are twisted. Realities are turned up side down. Policy statements are not backed by medical and scientific evidence. Professor Ferguson's statements are unfounded. He has not bothered to check the number of "laboratory confirmed" swine flu cases in Mexico.

30 to 40 % of the British population? Up to 50 % of the population of the European Union's 500 million population?

On what basis are these statements being made?

On April 27, there was, according to reports, only one case of swine flu in the entire European Union: "Europe's first confirmed case of swine flu has been diagnosed in Spain. The country's health ministry confirmed the news on Monday morning, after tests on a man who had recently returned from a trip to Mexico." (BBC, April 27, 2009)


Weakening the Social Protest Movement

Statements of this nature on the "inevitable spread" of the disease, create, quite deliberately, an atmosphere of fear, insecurity and panic. They also serve to distract people's attention from a devastating global economic crisis which is leading the World into mass poverty and unemployment, not to mention the war in the Middle East and the broader issue of US-NATO war crimes.

The Real Global Crisis is marked by poverty, economic collapse, ethnic strife, death and destruction, the derogation of civil rights and the demise of State social programs. The EU announcement of the swine flu pandemic inevitably serves to weaken the social protest movement which has spread across Europe.

In Mexico, the swine flu emergency measures which have "closed down" entire urban areas, are widely perceived as a pretext of the Felipe Calderon government to curb mounting social dissent against one of the most corrupt administrations in Mexican history.

In Mexico, the May 1st Parade, which was directed against the Calderon government, was cancelled.

The WHO's Balance Sheet

The WHO advisory points to 148 laboratory confirmed cases Worldwide of the swine influenza, including 8 deaths, barely a pandemia:

"29 April 2009 -- The situation continues to evolve rapidly. As of 18:00 GMT, 29 April 2009, nine countries have officially reported 148 cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 infection. The United States Government has reported 91 laboratory confirmed human cases, with one death. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection including seven deaths.

The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (13), Germany (3), Israel (2), New Zealand (3), Spain (4) and the United Kingdom (5).

Further information on the situation will be available on the WHO website on a regular basis." (

In a 29 April statement, the WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan confirmed that

"Based on assessment of all available information, and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5.

Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world.

... WHO will be tracking the pandemic at the epidemiological, clinical, and virological levels.

... I have reached out to donor countries, to UNITAID, to the GAVI Alliance, the World Bank and others to mobilize resources.

Bonanza for the Pharmaceutical Conglomerates

Big Pharma has been identified by the WHO as the solution to the crisis:

"I [the WHO Director-General] have reached out to companies manufacturing antiviral drugs to assess capacity and all options for ramping up production. I have also reached out to influenza vaccine manufacturers that can contribute to the production of a pandemic vaccine."

The swine flu pandemic constitutes a corporate bonanza for a handful of BioTech conglomerates. The European Union has already given the green light to work with Big Pharma to develop a vaccine against the swine flu.

Examination of the Evidence

The data used to justify a Worldwide level 5 alert is extremely scanty. The WHO not only asserts that a "global outbreak of the disease is imminent", it also distorts Mexico's mortality data pertaining to the swine flu pandemic. According to the WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan in her official April 29 statement: "So far, 176 people have been killed in Mexico". From what? Where does she get these numbers? 159 died from influenza out of which only seven deaths corroborated by lab analysis, resulted from the H1N1 swine flu strain, according to the Mexican Ministry of Health. (For details, see below).

As documented by William Engdahl, the symptoms of swine flu are non specific, similar to those of flu in general. (See William Engdahl, Global Research, April 29, 2009).

Scientific opinion contradicts the WHO official statement:

"Scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza -- at least in its current form -- isn't shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.

In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.

Mounting preliminary evidence from genetics labs, epidemiology models and simple mathematics suggests that the worst-case scenarios are likely to be avoided in the current outbreak." (Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2009)


Influenza is a common disease. There are millions of cases of influenza across America, on an annual basis. "According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the flu kills up to 2,500 Canadians and about 36,000 Americans annually. Worldwide, the number of deaths attributed to the flu each year is between 250,000 and 500,000" (Thomas Walkom, The Toronto Star, May 1, 2009)

Most of the reported influenza cases in Mexico do not exhibit the A/H1N1 strain.

From the press reports, most of the Mexican cases of swine flu were "suspected": they have not been confirmed by an advanced lab examination. The Mexican Minister of Health, José Ángel Córdova confirmed that there were "2498 serious cases of atypical pneumonia associated with a flu condition" ...[which] could be related to the A/H1N1 virus". Out of those 2498 cases of influenza, 159 died, of influenza or related ailments, but only seven of these deaths were related to the swine flu, according to the official statement of the Minister of Health.

The figures above are consistent with the overall pattern of influenza observed in Mexico in previous years. "In a normal year, between 6,500 and 7,500 Mexicans die from pneumonia-like diseases" (Ibid)

159 reported deaths "have been blamed on the outbreak" but the lab reports suggest that the swine flu was the cause of death only in seven out of 159 cases.

For instance, in the Veracruz town of La Gloria where there was an outbreak of acute respiratory infections, out of 450 cases, 35 were tested for the swine flu virus and only one came back positive. (That is a ratio of 1/450)

The press reports are invariably biased. They will quote 152 or 159 deaths from the H1N1 virus, when in fact only seven of these deaths are associated with the A/H1N1 swine flue strain, according to the Minister of Health. The other deaths may be associated with cases of ordinary flu and/or related conditions, but it seems that the reports rarely make the distinction. Moreover, no details were given as to the lab results pertaining to these seven cases.

In the US only one lab in the entire country has the ability to confirm the identify of the virus, namely the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention located in Atlanta. How many labs are there in Mexico which have the ability to confirm the identify of the virus?

According to reports, samples are being sent to Mexico's National Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference, which then forwards them to government labs in the US and Canada. What this suggests is that there is no lab based analysis which documents the relatively large number of suspected cases. According to the Minister's statements, the laboratory analysis pertaining to the 159 deaths is being conducted in Mexican labs with the support of the Atlanta based CDCP and that the results are forthcoming.

The US

In the US there have been 109 reported cases of the virus (April 30, 2009), of which only five were hospitalized. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed that a 23 month child in Texas had died from the swine flu virus, following hospitalisation and clinical examination.

U.S. Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
(As of April 30, 2009, 10:30 AM ET)
# of laboratory confirmed cases
Arizona 1
California 14
Indiana 1
Kansas 2
Massachusetts 2
Michigan 1
Nevada 1
New York 50
Ohio 1
South Carolina
TOTAL COUNTS 109 cases 1 death
International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
See: World Health Organization

Media Disinformation

News reports point to "hundreds of New York schoolchildren reported to have fallen sick with "suspected swine flu". There was, however, no evidence corroborated by lab examinations of the incidence of the swine flu H1N1 strain. In all likelihood, the children were suffering from the flu, which is part of a common occurrence during the month of April. "All the cases were mild, no child was hospitalized, no child was seriously ill,” Dr. Frieden said. Health officials reached their preliminary conclusion after conducting viral tests on nose or throat swabs from the eight students, which allowed them to eliminate other strains of flu."

Tests were conducted on school children in Queen's, but the tests were inconclusive: among theses "hundreds of school children", there were no reports of laboratory analysis leading to a positive identification of the influenza virus. In fact the reports are contradictory: according to the reports, the Atlanta based CDCP is the "only lab in the country that can positively confirm the new swine flu strain — which has been identified as H1N1." (NYT, April 25, 2009)

Influenza is a common disease. Unless there is a thorough lab examination, the identity if the virus cannot be established.

It is revealing that the Atlanta based CDCP is playing a key role in identifying the virus on behalf of several Latin American countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. On April 30th, the US government established a CDCP lab in Mexico. In other words, a US government agency is monopolising the conduct of laboratory testing, the data and analysis.

May Day! May Day!

May Day! May Day!

It's International Workers' Day. Do you know where YOUR socialist leaders are?

WHAT? You don't have any? Well, better do something about that next election day.

In the meantime, enjoy these shots of Evo, who made TIME's top-ten most influential people of the year, signing six decrees that will make Bolivian workers' lives considerably better:


It was clearly a gorgeous day in La Paz. Perfect for giving speeches to a standing-room-only crowd:


...full of colorful personages, including a guy in a condor suit:


Oh yeah, and don't forget Chavecito. He gave another of his long, inexhaustible speeches today:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The myth of Talibanistan By Pepe Escobar

The myth of Talibanistan
By Pepe Escobar

Apocalypse Now. Run for cover. The turbans are coming. This is the state of Pakistan today, according to the current hysteria disseminated by the Barack Obama administration and United States corporate media - from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to The New York Times. Even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said on the record that Pakistani Talibanistan is a threat to the security of Britain.

But unlike St Petersburg in 1917 or Tehran in late 1978, Islamabad won't fall tomorrow to a turban revolution.

Pakistan is not an ungovernable Somalia. The numbers tell the story. At least 55% of Pakistan's 170 million-strong population are Punjabis. There's no evidence they are about to embrace Talibanistan; they are essentially Shi'ites, Sufis or a mix of both.

Around 50 million are Sindhis - faithful followers of the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband, now President Asif Ali Zardari's centrist and overwhelmingly secular Pakistan People's Party. Talibanistan fanatics in these two provinces - amounting to 85% of Pakistan's population, with a heavy concentration of the urban middle class - are an infinitesimal minority.

The Pakistan-based Taliban - subdivided in roughly three major groups, amounting to less than 10,000 fighters with no air force, no Predator drones, no tanks and no heavily weaponized vehicles - are concentrated in the Pashtun tribal areas, in some districts of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and some very localized, small parts of Punjab.

To believe this rag-tag band could rout the well-equipped, very professional 550,000-strong Pakistani army, the sixth-largest military in the world, which has already met the Indian colossus in battle, is a ludicrous proposition.

Moreover, there's no evidence the Taliban, in Afghanistan or in Pakistan, have any capability to hit a target outside of "Af-Pak"(Afghanistan and Pakistan). That's mythical al-Qaeda's privileged territory. As for the nuclear hysteria of the Taliban being able to crack the Pakistani army codes for the country's nuclear arsenal (most of the Taliban, by the way, are semi-literate), even Obama, at his 100-day news conference, stressed the nuclear arsenal was safe.

Of course, there's a smatter of junior Pashtun army officers who sympathize with the Taliban - as well as significant sections of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency. But the military institution itself is backed by none other than the American army - with which it has been closely intertwined since the 1970s. Zardari would be a fool to unleash a mass killing of Pakistani Pashtuns; on the contrary, Pashtuns can be very useful for Islamabad's own designs.

Zardari's government this week had to send in troops and the air force to deal with the Buner problem, in the Malakand district of NWFP, which shares a border with Kunar province in Afghanistan and thus is relatively close to US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops. They are fighting less than 500 members of the Tehrik-e Taliban-e Pakistan (TTP). But for the Pakistani army, the possibility of the area joining Talibanistan is a great asset - because this skyrockets Pakistani control of Pashtun southern Afghanistan, ever in accordance to the eternal "strategic depth" doctrine prevailing in Islamabad.

Bring me the head of Baitullah Mehsud
So if Islamabad is not burning tomorrow, why the hysteria? There are several reasons. To start with, what Washington - now under Obama's "Af-Pak" strategy - simply cannot stomach is real democracy and a true civilian government in Islamabad; these would be much more than a threat to "US interests" than the Taliban, whom the Bill Clinton administration was happily wining and dining in the late 1990s.

What Washington may certainly relish is yet another military coup - and sources tell Asia Times Online that former dictator General Pervez Musharraf (Busharraf as he was derisively referred to) is active behind the hysteria scene.

It's crucial to remember that every military coup in Pakistan has been conducted by the army chief of staff. So the man of the hour - and the next few hours, days and months - is discreet General Ashfaq Kiani, Benazir's former army secretary. He is very cozy with US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen, and definitely not a Taliban-hugger.

Moreover, there are canyons of the Pakistani military/security bureaucracy who would love nothing better than to extract even more US dollars from Washington to fight the Pashtun neo-Taliban that they are simultaneously arming to fight the Americans and NATO. It works. Washington is now under a counter-insurgency craze, with the Pentagon eager to teach such tactics to every Pakistani officer in sight.

What is never mentioned by US corporate media is the tremendous social problems Pakistan has to deal with because of the mess in the tribal areas. Islamabad believes that between the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and NWFP, at least 1 million people are now displaced (not to mention badly in need of food aid). FATA's population is around 3.5 million - overwhelmingly poor Pashtun peasants. And obviously war in FATA translates into insecurity and paranoia in the fabled capital of NWFP, Peshawar.

The myth of Talibanistan anyway is just a diversion, a cog in the slow-moving regional big wheel - which in itself is part of the new great game in Eurasia.

During a first stage - let's call it the branding of evil - Washington think-tanks and corporate media hammered non-stop on the "threat of al-Qaeda" to Pakistan and the US. FATA was branded as terrorist central - the most dangerous place in the world where "the terrorists" and an army of suicide bombers were trained and unleashed into Afghanistan to kill the "liberators" of US/NATO.

In the second stage, the new Obama administration accelerated the Predator "hell from above" drone war over Pashtun peasants. Now comes the stage where the soon over 100,000-strong US/NATO troops are depicted as the true liberators of the poor in Af-Pak (and not the "evil" Taliban) - an essential ploy in the new narrative to legitimize Obama's Af-Pak surge.

For all pieces to fall into place, a new uber-bogeyman is needed. And he is TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud, who, curiously, had never been hit by even a fake US drone until, in early March, he made official his allegiance to historic Taliban leader Mullah Omar, "The Shadow" himself, who is said to live undisturbed somewhere around Quetta, in Pakistani Balochistan.

Now there's a US$5 million price on Baitullah's head. The Predators have duly hit the Mehsud family's South Waziristan bases. But - curioser and curioser - not once but twice, the ISI forwarded a detailed dossier of Baitullah's location directly to its cousin, the Central Intelligence Agency. But there was no drone hit.

And maybe there won't be - especially now that a bewildered Zardari government is starting to consider that the previous uber-bogeyman, a certain Osama bin Laden, is no more than a ghost. Drones can incinerate any single Pashtun wedding in sight. But international bogeymen of mystery - Osama, Baitullah, Mullah Omar - star players in the new OCO (overseas contingency operations), formerly GWOT ("global war on terror"), of course deserve star treatment.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Nuremberg on Twitpic

How “The NAFTA Flu” Exploded

Smithfield Farms Fled US Environmental Laws to Open a Gigantic Pig Farm in Mexico, and All We Got Was this Lousy Swine Flu

By Al Giordano
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

April 29, 2009

US and Mexico authorities claim that neither knew about the “swine flu” outbreak until April 24. But after hundreds of residents of a town in Veracruz, Mexico, came down with its symptoms, the story had already hit the Mexican national press by April 5. The daily La Jornada reported:

Clouds of flies emanate from the rusty lagoons where the Carroll Ranches business tosses the fecal wastes of its pig farms, and the open-air contamination is already generating an epidemic of respiratory infections in the town of La Gloria, in the Perote Valley, according to Town Administrator Bertha Crisóstomo López.

The town has 3,000 inhabitants, hundreds of whom reported severe flu symptoms in March.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reporting from Mexico, has identified a La Gloria child who contracted the first case of identified “swine flu” in February as “patient zero,” five-year-old Edgar Hernández, now a survivor of the disease.

By April 15 – nine days before Mexican federal authorities of the regime of President Felipe Calderon acknowledged any problem at all – the local daily newspaper, Marcha, reported that a company called Carroll Ranches was “the cause of the epidemic.”

La Jornada columnist Julio Hernández López connects the corporate dots to explain how the Virginia-based Smithfield Farms came to Mexico: In 1985, Smithfield Farms received what was, at the time, the most expensive fine in history – $12.6 million – for violating the US Clean Water Act at its pig facilities near the Pagan River in Smithfield, Virginia, a tributary that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The company, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dumped hog waste into the river.

It was a case in which US environmental law succeeded in forcing a polluter, Smithfield Farms, to construct a sewage treatment plant at that facility after decades of using the river as a mega-toilet. But “free trade” opened a path for Smithfield Farms to simply move its harmful practices next door into Mexico so that it could evade the tougher US regulators.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect on January 1, 1994. That very same year Smithfield Farms opened the “Carroll Ranches” in the Mexican state of Veracruz through a new subsidiary corporation, “Agroindustrias de México.”

Unlike what law enforcers forced upon Smithfield Farms in the US, the new Mexican facility – processing 800,000 pigs into bacon and other products per year – does not have a sewage treatment plant.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, Smithfield slaughters an estimated 27 million hogs a year to produce more than six billion pounds of packaged pork products. (The Veracruz facility thus constitutes about three percent of its total production.)

Reporter Jeff Teitz reported in 2006 on the conditions in Smithfield’s US facilities (remember: what you are about to read describes conditions that are more sanitary and regulated than those in Mexico):

Smithfield’s pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in warehouse-like barns, in rows of wall-to-wall pens. Sows are artificially inseminated and fed and delivered of their piglets in cages so small they cannot turn around. Forty fully grown 250-pound male hogs often occupy a pen the size of a tiny apartment. They trample each other to death. There is no sunlight, straw, fresh air or earth. The floors are slatted to allow excrement to fall into a catchment pit under the pens, but many things besides excrement can wind up in the pits: afterbirths, piglets accidentally crushed by their mothers, old batteries, broken bottles of insecticide, antibiotic syringes, stillborn pigs—anything small enough to fit through the foot-wide pipes that drain the pits. The pipes remain closed until enough sewage accumulates in the pits to create good expulsion pressure; then the pipes are opened and everything bursts out into a large holding pond.

The temperature inside hog houses is often hotter than ninety degrees. The air, saturated almost to the point of precipitation with gases from shit and chemicals, can be lethal to the pigs. Enormous exhaust fans run twenty-four hours a day. The ventilation systems function like the ventilators of terminal patients: If they break down for any length of time, pigs start dying.

Consider what happens when such forms of massive pork production move to unregulated territory where Mexican authorities allow wealthy interests to do business without adequate oversight, abusing workers and the environment both. And there it is: The violence wrought by NAFTA in clear and understandable human terms.

The so-called “swine flu” exploded because an environmental disaster simply moved (and with it, took jobs from US workers) to Mexico where environmental and worker safety laws, if they exist, are not enforced against powerful multinational corporations.

False mental constructs of borders – the kind that cause US and Mexican citizens alike to imagine a flu strain like this one invading their nations from other lands – are taking a long overdue hit by the current “swine flu” media frenzy. In this case, US-Mexico trade policy created a time bomb in Veracruz that has already murdered more than 150 Mexican citizens, and at least one child in the US, by creating a gigantic Petri dish in the form pig farms to generate bacon and ham for international sale.

None of that indicates that this flu strain was born in Mexico, but, rather, that the North American Free Trade Agreement created the optimal conditions for the flu to gestate and become, at minimum, epidemic in La Gloria and, now, Mexico City, and threatens to become international pandemic.

Welcome to the aftermath of “free trade.” Authorities now want you to grab a hospital facemask and avoid human contact until the outbreak hopefully blows over. And if you start to feel dizzy, or a flush with fever, or other symptoms begin to molest you or your children, remember this: The real name of this infirmity is “The NAFTA Flu,” the first of what may well emerge as many new illnesses to emerge internationally as the direct result of “free trade” agreements that allow companies like Smithfield Farms to escape health, safety and environmental laws.

I’m just a poor boy, from a poor family…

I’m just a poor boy, from a poor family…

29 April 2009 ·

The Bolivian weirdness puts to shame anything that’s ever happened in Mexico. The closest parallel I can think of was William Walker’s ill-fated Republic of Sonora (an attempt by white supremacist invaders to create a breakwaway republic — which sounds like the Bolivian mess ) in 1853. Walker didn’t get bogged down in ideological fine points — it was openly white supremacist and all, but there was no attempt to dress it up as anything other than a grab for resources and land. It did have the novel feature of being self-financed: like so many other wannabe Mexican west coast realtors today, Walker sold properties he didn’t own, and hadn’t built on … but promised he would… as soon as the details were finalized).

The Republic of Sonora never managed to even include Sonora (they were laughed out of Sonora and Sinaloa), rechristened at some point “Republic of Lower Califonia” and reduced from a mercenary force to a couple of clueless gringos by the Mexican army.

Walker was only 29 when he invaded Sonora, and most of his mercenaries were a few years younger, but no one every referred to him as an “impressionable youth.” The United States Consul in La Paz, Baja California sprung Walker and his starving compatriots in 1853 by convincing the Mexican authorities they were dealing with a bunch of idiots, conmen, intriguers and filibustros, who would be dealt with severely in their own country (they weren’t — after eight minutes of deliberation, Walker was found not guilty of attacking a foreign country, and went on to attack other countries, until the Hondurans finally cut the crap and shot Walker and his band in 1860).

The Hungarian Ambassador in La Paz (Bolivia), however, is trying to make the unconvincing case that Elöd Tóasó, like Walker in 1853, a mere lade of 29, is only a “young adventurer…who made mistakes” and not even promising that his country will deal with it’s errant son. Tóasó, unlike his Irish cohort, 25 year old Michael Dwyer, screwed up when it comes to terrorist mercenaries, managing to be taken alive.

The Irish have been falling all over themselves to build sympathy for Dwyer, whose background as a “security guard” for a Shell Oil facility, and whose company looks to have recruited Dwyer and other Irish to work for the Bolivian fascist separatist organization, isn’t the most absurd part of this whole mess.

Here in Mexico, we’ve also had mercenaries in the pay of oil companies, and plots involving shadowy Masonic organizations… and fascist organizations, so that’s not what makes the Bolivian separatist movement so intriguing. Dwyer, and the other “adventurous youths” in this crusade for an Amazonian Reich were under the leadership of what has to be the U.S. wacko right wing’s greatest nightmare… or something dreamed up by satirist “General J.C. Christian” — a gay Islamocommiefascist terrorist. That, at least, is new.

Tóasó (L), trying to impress and Dwyer (R) impressed

Tóasó (L), trying to impress and Dwyer (R) impressed

Categories: Americas (outside U.S. and Mexico) · Baja Califonia Sur · Baja California · Bolivia · Evil-doers · Mercenaries · Mexican History 1824-1910 · Provincia · Sinaloa · Sonora · Terrorism

Bolivia terror plot: The Neo-Nazi UJC connection

Bolivia terror plot: The UJC connection


Just a bunch of fine young Cruceñista boyz, out cruising for chicks in a majorly pimped ride. Think these punks got lucky?

Well, kiddies, we knew THIS was coming, did we not? Now ABI confirms it: the Santa Cruz chapter of the Hitlerjugend was also involved in the plot to try to kill Evo, Alvaro and several other leading Bolivian politicians.

On Tuesday, police apprehended an advisor to the ultra-right-wing Santa Cruz Youth Union (UJC), Juan Carlos Gueber Bruno, suspected of having ties to the foreign mercenary cell broken up last month in the City of Santa Cruz.

Gueber Bruno, also known as "Comandante Bruno" in UJC circles, was arrested near his home in Villa Cotoca on suspicions of having supplied weapons to the group led by Eduardo Rózsa Flores.


Gueber Bruno, 49, acted in 2008 as an activist of the Comité Pro Santa Cruz.

Translation mine.

Well, well. Not only does he have ties to the UJC, but to Branko Marinkovic's band of not-so-young hooligans, too. This just keeps getting more and more interesting, no? It just keeps circling around and around Branko. Do you suppose this is who the "wealthy financier" of the group was, the one that was alluded to in the previous post?

Portrait of the Hungarian/Romanian would-be assassin Terrorist (in Bolivia ) as a Young Gun Nut

Portrait of the Terrorist as a Young Gun Nut


Elöd Tóasó, Hungarian/Romanian would-be assassin, posing with a sniper rifle last December at the Hotel Buganvillas, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Too bad it didn't have a magnifying mirror instead of a high-res telescopic sight, so he could take a peek in and realize how stupid he looked.

Strap yourselves in and fold up your tray tables, folks. It's time for another bumpy ride on Air Terrorcell!

Elöd Tóasó, the 29-year-old Hungarian-Romanian apprehended in an antiterror operation on April 16 in Santa Cruz, was the "communications link" of the international mercenary terror cell dismantled by the police, and was tasked with spying and telephone tapping.

In reality, far from being a "young adventurer" in search of a daily living, as described with paternal innocence by the Hungarian ambassador in La Paz, Matyas Józsa, Tóasó received military training in Bucharest, along with the Irishman, Michael Dwyer, who was killed in a hotel in Santa Cruz in a firefight with Bolivian police two weeks ago.

Tóasó, who appears in a photo published by the independent Cochabamba newspaper Opinión holding a sniper rifle with a high-precision telescopic sight, became a mercenary under the influence of Michael Dwyer and also that of the Hungaro-Croatian Bolivian Eduardo Rózsa Flores, leader of the mercenary cell.

The picture was taken in the middle of last December in the Hotel Buganvillas, one of the most exclusive in Santa Cruz, where the armed group stayed for more than two months at cost to a third party, currently unknown, whom Rózsa Flores described in an interview in Budapest last September as "the Bolivian financiers" and providers of the weapons.

According to the management of the five-star hotel, the terrorist group booked in the Buganvillas under false identities.

Tóasó, who was taken captive in the raid two weeks ago along with Jorge Tadik, a Bolivian ex-military man trained in Bolivia but with Hungarian roots, even convinced the ambassador of his own country that he was just an innocent adventurer, in spite of the evidence shown by a video of the conspirators making assassination plans.

"This man, to me, is far from being a terrorist. Young, 29 years old, who made mistakes, and I believe they invited him to come here offering to pay him this and that, but he didn't know what lay in store...I believe that this man had no money, because the financial crisis has hit Hungary hard too. We're very badly off, so this stems from the fact that our people have no money. He was young, and looking for adventure, and accepted something I don't think he thought through," said the Hungarian diplomat, trying to intervene on behalf of his countryman.

In Hungary, Tóasó was known to have belonged to the so-called "Szeklers", who consider themselves to be direct descendants of pure Hungarians, according to Opinión.

Along with Arpad Magyarosi, Tóasó joined the far-right paramilitary "Szekler Legion", which went to war in Croatia for separatist causes in the 1990s.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Yeah, just another cute young dreamer, like that Irish dude, who supposedly got in over his head and couldn't possibly have been a baddie. Looks to me like he damn well knew what he was doing, and didn't care as long as the rich "Bolivian financier" supplied plenty of money, guns and ammo. (And BMWs, as Mike Dwyer bragged to his friends back home. Which, incidentally, do NOT come cheap in Bolivia, even if you're only renting. Sorry, Mike's friends, your ol' buddy was definitely mobbed up.)

The open question remains as to who that "financier" was, but my spidey-sense tells me Branko Marinkovic has got to be feeling the noose closing in on him by now. The government of Bolivia has sent troops to guard the Brazilian and Paraguayan borders of Santa Cruz, since it's known that the weaponry and Jorge Rózsa Flores both got in through Puerto Suárez, on the border with Brazil. If I were in that gummint, I'd make sure that Branko had no means of leaving the country, lest he pull a Burusas and seek "political asylum" in Peru, too.

PS: For another portrait of a deranged Hungarian from the inside of his cracked skull, I recommend this piece in the Irish Times. Fancy a racist fascist calling Evo, who has never said one prejudiced word against whites, a Nazi! Pot, say hi to kettle over there in the funhouse mirror...

PPS: Andras Kepes, look for a subpoena from the Bolivian government in your mail this week. They're not impressed with you for interviewing that Flores crackpot and then sitting on it instead of informing the authorities of a terror plan. That makes you look kind of complicit in it, dude.

PPPS: A German-language blogger in Ireland is asking the same questions in his blog as Otto, BoRev and I are tackling, respectively, in ours. He's also found the "actual" website of the Szekler Legion to be "under construction", although it wasn't last week. Go to his link if you wanna see screenshots of the icky place before it was taken down for "construction".

PPPPS: And finally, don't worry--these Szekler whackjobs aren't the scariest Hungarians out there by a long shot. Click here to see who is.