quinta-feira, 19 de fevereiro de 2009

Kisses unleash chemicals that ease stress levels


"Chemistry look what you've done to me," Donna Summer crooned in Science of Love, and so, it seems, she was right. Just in time for Valentine's Day, a panel of scientists examined the mystery of what happens when hearts throb and lips lock. Kissing, it turns out, unleashes chemicals that ease stress hormones in both sexes and encourage bonding in men, though not so much in women.

Chemicals in the saliva may be a way to assess a mate, Wendy Hill, dean of the faculty and a professor of neuroscience at Lafayette College, told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Friday.

In an experiment, Hill explained, pairs of heterosexual college students who kissed for 15 minutes while listening to music experienced significant changes in their levels of the chemicals oxytocin, which affects pair bonding, and cortisol, which is associated with stress. Their blood and saliva levels of the chemicals were compared before and after the kiss.

Both men and women had a decline in cortisol after smooching, an indication their stress levels declined.

For men, oxytocin levels increased, indicating more interest in bonding, while oxytocin levels went down in women. "This was a surprise," Hill said.

In a test group that merely held hands, chemical changes were similar, but much less pronounced, she said.

The experiment was conducted in a student health center, Hill noted. She plans a repeat "in a more romantic setting."

Hill spoke at the session on the Science of Kissing, along with Helen Fisher of Rutgers University and Donald Lateiner of Ohio Wesleyan University.

Fisher noted that more than 90 percent of human societies practice kissing, which she believes has three components — the sex drive, romantic love and attachment.

The sex drive pushes individuals to assess a variety of partners, then romantic love causes them to focus on an individual, she said. Attachment then allows them to tolerate this person long enough to raise a child.

Men tend to think of kissing as a prelude to copulation, Fisher said. She noted that men prefer "sloppy" kisses, in which chemicals including testosterone can be passed on to the women in saliva. Testosterone increases the sex drive in both males and females.

"When you kiss an enormous part of your brain becomes active," she added. Romantic love can last a long time, "if you kiss the right person."

Lateiner, a classical scholar, observed that kissing appears infrequently in Greek and Roman art, but was widely practiced, despite the spread of skin disease at that time by facial kissing. And there was a potential for social faux pas by kissing the wrong person at the wrong time.

Overall, the science of kissing — philematology — is under-researcherd, Hill concluded.

On the Net:
AAAS: http://www.aaas.org
Source: http://news.yahoo.com

Thrill-Seekers' Brains May Be Wired Differently

February 19, 2009
Robert Preidt

Region that affects addictive behavior is linked to risk-taking, too, study finds

The thrill-seeking behavior that makes people love skydiving, mountain-climbing or other intense activities might be based in an area of the brain that has been linked to addictive behaviors.

University of Kentucky and Purdue University researchers studied volunteers who were grouped as either "high-sensation seekers" or "low-sensation seekers" based on their responses to personality surveys and questionnaires on risk-taking.

Then, functional MRI was used to scan the participants' brains while they looked at photographs ranging from mundane images, such as cows and food, to emotional and arousing images, such as erotic scenes and violent pictures.

When high-sensation seekers viewed the emotional or arousing images, their brains showed increased activity in the region called the insula. Previous studies have found this area is active during addictive behaviors, such as craving cigarettes. When the low-sensation seekers saw the emotional or arousing images, activity increased in their brains' frontal cortex, which controls emotions.

The findings, published in the February issue of Psychological Science, could indicate the way by which sensation-seeking can result in negative behaviors, such as substance abuse and antisocial conduct, the researchers said.

"Individuals high in sensation-seeking not only are strongly activated by exciting, thrilling and potentially dangerous activities but also may be less likely than other people to inhibit or appropriately regulate that activation," the researchers concluded.

More information

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has more on the anatomy of the brain.

SOURCE: Association for Psychological Science, news release,
Feb. 11, 2009 Last Updated: Feb. 19, 2009

Copyright © 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: http://www.healthday.com

Eco-home uses medieval technique

February 2009

A zero-carbon home which borrows from a building style first used more than 600 years ago has been unveiled in Kent.

The arch design is adapted from a technique first used in the 1300s

The design of the four-bedroom house, called Crossways, has been adapted from the technique "timbrel vaulting", used in Catalonia, Spain. The arched building in Staplehurst is covered with earth and plants and was designed by architect Richard Hawkes. It has been given zero-carbon status because fossil fuels are not needed to heat it.

Sustainable building

According to its designers the large arch provides "great thermal mass, enabling the building to retain heat, absorb fluctuations in temperature and reduce the need for central heating or cooling systems".

The house gets much of its energy from solar panels, has triple-glazed windows and insulation made from recycled newspaper.

The earliest known example of the "timbrel vaulting" technique, which uses thin bricks to create lightweight and durable buildings, was in Valencia in 1382.

Richard Hawkes said: "The building demonstrates how contemporary design can celebrate local materials and integrate new technologies to produce a highly sustainable building that sits lightly on the Earth."

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk

Bees, Einstein and 2012

February 19, 2009
by Cristian Negureanu

a) Reuters

(Nov 25, 2008) - LONDON - Where in the United States, fruit farmers pay to have bees trucked thousands of miles to pollinate their crops and in parts of China, humans with feather dusters have taken on the task, in Britain most bees go nature's way... "We are extremely aware of the enormous threat there is to honey bees and the huge reduction in population," said Adrian Barlow, chief executive of trade group English Apples and Pears. "It is something we are very concerned about."


Albert Einstein said if the honey bees were suddenly gone mankind would have about 4 years left to live. Well, the honey bees are going extinct now and at the present rate in another year or so there will be no more honey bees left on earth. One year from now plus another 4 years gives us the year... 2012 in the NEWS: www.december212012.com


Honey Bee Navigation... The Earth's magnetic field changes on a daily cycle. It is suspected that this cycle is used by bees to maintain their internal clock. Sensitivity to the magnetic cycle would be especially useful to bees who remain inside the hive and are unable to detect sunrise and sunset. It has been experimentally shown that subtle magnetic disturbances can disrupt the bee's time-keeping abilities:


The earth's magnetic field impacts climate - Danish study:

e) Californian Congressman for Planet X Forsight

The Institute for Human Continuity commends Californian Congressman for Planet X Forsight saying preparedness for Near Earth Objects is key for the survival of the human race... As Planet X approaches our galaxy, its gravitational pull will interact with these NEOs in potentially disastrous ways for our planet. The Sky is Falling: the deadly threat posed by Near Earth Objects and what we can do about it By Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

Cristian Negureanu

Dr. Cristian Negureanu is a well known author and has published books since 1989! His work is well documented, very serious and he offers the readers innovating works of a great interest today. In 1990 he started to publish various articles and these are his most recent: Miracol Publishing House, Bucharest, 2003. The Gospel According to Darwin, (176 pages), Miracol Publishing House, Bucharest, 2003. Silence of the Idols, (208 pages), Miracol Publishing House, Bucharest, 2004. On the Doorsteps of the Kingdom, (176 pages), Miracol Publishing House, Bucharest, 2004. The Apocalypse of Psychiatry, (200 pages), Miracol Publishing House, Bucharest, 2004. "Images from the Station/Planet Eris/Nibiru" (a synthesis of the Sumerian writings, the Bible and the Book of Enoh) is to be published at the Antet Publishing House (www.antet.ro).

More articles by Cristian Negureanu

The Vatican, Darwin and Planet X
Going to Mars - It's snowing
Apocalypse in 2012? Date spawns theories, film
Planet Gliese 581c and and Planet X/Eris/Nibiru
"2012" Film: Roland Emmerich and NASA
Moses and the Spaceships of the Gods
Enoch and the Planet Eris/Nibiru
They Are Here!
Jonah's Submarine
The Bible and the Third World War - The 1000 Year Kingdom
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
The Unknown History of Mankind
Planet Eris and the global warming

Source: http://www.ufodigest.com

Asia's Jewish myths

February 11, 2009
by Ian Buruma

A chinese bestseller titled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the present crisis.

Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews is to See the World Clearly, The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols and I'd Like to Apologise to the Japanese - A Jewish Elder's Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which the Japanese came across after defeating the tsar's army in 1905.

The Chinese picked up many modern Western ideas from the Japanese. Perhaps this is how Jewish conspiracy theories were passed on as well. But Southeast Asians are not immune to this kind of nonsense either. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed has said that "the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." And a recent article in a leading business magazine in The Philippines explained how Jews had always controlled the countries they lived in, including the US today.

In the case of Mahathir, a twisted kind of Muslim solidarity is probably at work. But, unlike European or Russian anti-Semitism, the Asian variety has no religious roots. No Chinese or Japanese has blamed Jews for killing their holy men or believed that their children's blood ended up in Passover matzos. In fact, few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew, unless they have spent time abroad.

So what explains the remarkable appeal of Jewish conspiracy theories in Asia? The answer must be partly political. Conspiracy theories thrive in relatively closed societies, where free access to news is limited and freedom of inquiry curtailed. Japan is no longer such a closed society, yet even people with a short history of democracy are prone to believe that they are victims of unseen forces. Precisely because Jews are relatively unknown, therefore mysterious, and in some way associated with the West, they become an obvious fixture of anti-Western paranoia.

Such paranoia is widespread in Asia, where almost every country was at the mercy of Western powers for several hundred years. Japan was never formally colonised, but it too felt the West's dominance, at least since the 1850s, when American ships laden with heavy guns forced the country to open its borders on Western terms.

The common conflation of the US with Jews goes back to the late 19th century, when European reactionaries loathed America for being a rootless society based only on financial greed. This perfectly matched the stereotype of the rootless cosmopolitan Jewish moneygrubber. Hence the idea that Jews run America.

One of the great ironies of colonial history is the way in which colonised people adopted some of the same prejudices that justified colonial rule. Anti-Semitism arrived with a whole package of European race theories that have persisted in Asia well after they fell out of fashion in the West.

In some ways, Chinese minorities in Southeast Asia have shared some of the hostility suffered by Jews in the West. Excluded from many occupations, they too survived by clannishness and trade. They too have been persecuted for not being "sons of the soil". And they too are thought to have superhuman powers when it comes to making money. So when things go wrong, the Chinese are blamed not just for being greedy capitalists, but also, again like the Jews, for being communists, as both capitalism and communism are associated with rootlessness and cosmopolitanism.

As well as being feared, the Chinese are admired for being cleverer than everybody else. The same mixture of fear and awe is often evident in people's views of the US and, indeed, of the Jews. Japanese anti-Semitism is a particularly interesting case.

Japan was able to defeat Russia in 1905 only after a Jewish banker in New York, Jacob Schiff, helped Japan by floating bonds. So The Protocols of the Elders of Zion confirmed what the Japanese already suspected: Jews really did pull the strings of global finance. However, instead of wishing to attack them, the Japanese, being a practical people, decided they would be better off cultivating those clever, powerful Jews as friends.

As a result, during World War II, even as the Germans were asking their Japanese allies to round up Jews and hand them over, dinners were held in Japanese-occupied Manchuria to celebrate Japanese-Jewish friendship. Jewish refugees in Shanghai, though never comfortable, at least remained alive under Japanese protection.

This was good for the Jews of Shanghai. But the very ideas that helped them to survive continue to muddle the thinking of people who really ought to know better by now.

Ian Buruma's latest book is The China Lover.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au

segunda-feira, 16 de fevereiro de 2009

Evolution's Future Shock

February 12, 2009
by Alan Boyle

Recent advances in stem cell research - including the technique for reprogramming ordinary skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells - could put human evolution on a pace that's much faster and wilder than we can handle, according to a pioneer in the field.

Advanced Cell Technology's Robert Lanza, who was one of the first researchers to work on human cloning, thinks someone better be ready to put on the brakes before the breakthroughs spin out of control.

Chalk this one up as just one more controversy for a scientist who has to be used to it by now. For more than a decade, Lanza has been on the forefront of cloning research - first with genetically engineered cows, and then with human embryos. More recently, he's been delving into other avenues for cell therapy - ranging from extracting single cells from embryos to the cell reprogramming trick.

Lanza and others involved in stem cell research are seeking to harness the marvelous ability of embryonic stem cells to transform themselves into virtually any tissue in the body - which could lead to new treatments for maladies ranging from spinal-cord injuries to heart attacks and Parkinson's disease. Other types of cells, such as adult stem cells and umbilical-cord cells, have some of these abilities, but embryonic cells are seen as "the gold standard" for future therapies.

Observers are expecting stem cell research to surge now that President Obama has moved into the White House. Just last month, the Food and Drug Administration gave California-based Geron Corp. the go-ahead to begin the world's first medical study of a treatment based on human embryonic stem cells.

But there are lots of scientific and ethical questions yet to be answered: Last week, Lanza and his colleagues made headlines when they suggested that egg cells from animals might not be useful for creating human stem cells. If those findings hold up, it would be bad news for scientists who want to use animal eggs to supplement the very limited supply of human eggs available for stem cell research.

The research also raised some questions about the reprogrammed cells - which are also known as induced pluripotent stem cells, or IPS cells. The technology was touted in 2007 as a way to solve the ethical problems associated with destroying human embryos, but it could carry its own brand of ethical baggage. Experiments indicated that IPS cells could be used to create clones of any individual, dead or alive.

Lanza's main concern is that the technology could let someone tinker with the human genome in such a way that the tinkering is passed down from one generation to the next through sperm, egg and embryo - an enduring genetic chain known as the "germline." That could be done for seemingly good reasons: to build in resistance to disease, for instance, or to make us smarter or longer-lived. But like most science-fiction plots, such good intentions could have undesired consequences.

This week, I spoke with Lanza about his latest research and his latest concerns about IPS cells, as well as his observations on evolution and the fresh perspectives he'll be putting forth in "Biocentrism," an upcoming book on a biology-based theory of everything. Here's a trimmed-down taste of the conversation, fine-tuned with some follow-up e-mails:

Cosmic Log: Last week you published some research that related to the implications of IPS cell research for animal-human hybrid cells, as well as the prospects for human cloning. I saw some reports about that study indicating that a type of reproductive human cloning is doable, and that could set some alarm bells ringing.

Lanza: Well, yes. I think the first point of this particular paper was that the animal eggs didn't seem to be a suitable substitute for human eggs. In our particular lab, we tried hundreds of experiments trying to create patient-specific stem cells using animal eggs. And we got beautiful little hybrid embryos, but it didn't work, no matter how hard we tried.

We've had lots of experience with this. We've cloned entire herds of cows - in fact, we cloned a couple of endangered species using cow eggs. But despite all the tricks we attempted, we were unable to have any success. Then we looked at what was going on inside the cells. Up until now, people generally looked at pictures or looked under the microscope, but we assessed the complete gene profile. And we found that basically the eggs from the animals turned the genes off that we hoped would have been turned on.

What we also showed here, for the first time, was hard evidence that human cloning is indeed possible, at least in terms of proving that the donor human cell was actually being reprogrammed. This may be very important, along with the new IPS cell technology, in that it furnishes us for the very first time with the ability to start tampering with the germline.

At this point, the only two possible ways to enter into the era of "designer babies" is through either cloning or the new IPS cell technology. These new technologies are very similar. The technology currently used to reprogram a skin cell into a stem cell could be used to make designer babies and possibly even super-athlete babies. So despite the enormous medical promise of SCNT [somatic cell nuclear transfer, the traditional approach to cloning] and IPS cell technology, it opens a whole can of worms.

Someone could use these techniques to produce a child that has most if not all their genes. The implications of this are enormously troublesome. It revives the same issues raised by reproductive cloning. And although the technology for human reproductive cloning still doesn't exist, with the IPS cell breakthrough, we actually do have a technology whereby anyone - young, old, fertile, infertile, gay, straight - could pass on their genes to a child, using just a few skin cells. Or, in fact, hair follicles.

So if you had a few hair follicles from Albert Einstein, or whoever, you could theoretically generate IPS cells. And since those cells are immortal, any couple in the world could have a child who is, say, 10 percent or 75 percent Albert Einstein by just injecting a few of those cells into one of their embryos. Perhaps you could mix a little Brad Pitt in there, too.

The potential to fast-forward the era of designer babies exists. Of course, it would be scientifically and ethically irresponsible to use this technology for reproductive purposes. People have not thought the whole thing through.

Let's go back to the parents who are obsessed with having super-athlete babies. They could conceivably have the myostatin gene knocked out in a few skin cells, and then inject IPS cells into one of their in-vitro fertilized embryos. That would be unsafe and unethical, and there's no guarantee to what extent those cells will contribute to a child's muscle mass. It might be 1 percent or 100 percent. There's also the chance that the child would want to play chess instead of becoming a super-athlete.

But this isn't science fiction. We know the technology already exists to increase an animal's body mass by knocking out this myostatin gene. In cows, for instance, it's been used to literally double the muscle mass.

There's a concern that this could contribute to the germline. We've got to think about this carefully. It's not just a matter of people wanting to make their children stronger or have a higher IQ. When you start tampering with the human germline, you're really crossing a line that's wrong. Remember, the human body is an exquisitely fine-tuned machine that took millions of years of evolution. I think it would be foolish and arrogant for us to think that we can engineer better people through science.

Q: Do you see a distinction between using these technologies to repair genetic flaws and using them to enhance abilities?

A: There are two things to consider here: One, you can simply generate cells to replace worn-out tissues or organs. I don't see any problem with that whatsoever. You're not tampering with the germline.

Now, when you consider genetically correcting some sort of disease, you're really crossing a line. A good example of that would be sickle-cell anemia, which we consider an awful disease. But that gene actually protected people from malaria for thousands of years - when malaria was killing literally hundreds of millions of people. So we can't even begin to understand what tampering with other genes could lead to.

It would certainly accelerate evolution. But for better or worse? That's the question.

Q: So this would speed up human evolution even more than it's speeding up today? Could it lead to some sort of radical retooling of our species?

A: Absolutely. That's the whole issue. Evolution normally occurs, even today. There are natural mutations, and the bad mutations are weeded out.

There’s another unrecognized but seismic shift occurring in human evolution. The wide scale intervention of science and modern medicine - drugs, vaccines, machines, and soon, stem cells and regenerative medicine - has allowed the survival of a large range of mutations, traits and genetic combinations that would never have been possible in the past.

For instance, someone like Stephen Hawking - or even Bill Gates - might not have fared as well in a hunter-gatherer society. New economic, political and behavioral pressures will shape this pool of gene-combinations in directions never before possible. Human evolution is occurring - and will continue to occur - at a rapid and unprecedented rate.

The problem with these new technologies is that we can now go in directly and modify genetics. We can knock out a specific gene. In fact, we've done this in pigs to knock out a gene that's associated with hyper-acute transplant rejection in humans. But we've also found that knocking out those genes has other, adverse effects. So with these new tools, we're entering into an entirely new era - which we don't completely understand.

Q: How do you wrap your mind around the pluses and the minuses? Is there somebody who should be appointed as a genetics czar to have people toe the line? What are you suggesting?

A: I think there are several things going on. One is that we need to enact laws, just as we did when we were considering xenotransplantation, when we were worried about pathogens crossing the species line. We were concerned that although we passed a law in the United States, there might be "xeno-havens" somewhere else. The same would apply here. A while ago, the United Nations was on the verge of banning reproductive cloning. We need to move on that right away. That should also incorporate other technologies such as the IPS technology.

In the more developed countries, we obviously have laws in place to prevent abuses from happening - and that will probably succeed there. But in some of the developing countries, we may not have that regulation, and there could be some abuse. We've seen this with AIDS and other genetically based changes that move quickly from one country to another. If this technology is abused anywhere, once it gets into that germline and those people immigrate or move, it's in us, it's in the DNA of our species. And God only knows how it will manifest itself down the line.

Q: If someone else were to receive tissue as the result of an IPS operation, might that work its way into the germline? Would you have to have a restriction on people reproducing if they receive IPS cells?

A: No, that's not an issue. You wouldn't inject the IPS cells. You'd inject replacement cells that are terminally differentiated, and they would not enter the germline. When the patient dies, so do the cells. The concern here would be if you place the cell either into an embryo or the germline - that is, a sperm or an egg. Only then could it be passed on to subsequent offspring.

Q: Are there points of contact between what you're doing on this subject and the topics that you'll be addressing in "Biocentrism"?

A: No, they're separate. But I think biocentrism does have something to say about evolution as well. From a biocentric perspective, Darwinian evolution is an enormous simplification. While a lot of the components are right, it's still far from the complete picture. Darwin's theory of evolution is helpful if you want to connect the dots and understand the interrelatedness of life in the past. For instance, we can follow the changes that occurred in our genome even before we were human. We can even map some of the mutations and blind alleys that life took to get us here. But it fails to capture the driving force that's really going on.

If you consider the universe, there's a long list of traits that make it appear as if everything the universe contains - from atoms to stars - were tailor-made just for us. If the big bang had been just one part in a million more powerful, the cosmos would have blown outward too fast for stars and worlds to form. The result, of course, would be no us. Even more coincidentally, the universe's four forces and all the constants seem to be perfectly set up for atomic interactions, the existence of atoms, elements, planets, liquid water and life. You tweak any of them, and we never existed.

At the moment, there are only four explanations for this mystery. One is that it's just an incredible coincidence. Another is to say, God did it, and that explains nothing, even if it is true. The third is to invoke the anthropic principle, meaning that we'd have to find these conditions if we're alive, because what else could we find? And then there's the final option, biocentrism, which is what I'm supporting. It says the universe is actually created by life, and no universe that doesn't allow life could possibly exist.

The same thing would apply to our own human existence. Probability-wise, there are millions of things that could have gone wrong in the history of life on Earth. We could have been snuffed out at almost any turn. For instance, the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs could have missed the earth, and then we would have never evolved. The list goes on and on. Evolution might suggest that it's just dumb luck, that there's a 1-in-a-gazillion chance that we're here. But surely science can do better than the dumb-luck theory.

For additional food for thought on Darwin Day, take a look at these other Cosmic Log postings:

Source: http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com

Vitamin D and MS

February 12, 2009

Researchers found evidence that a direct interaction between vitamin D and a common genetic variant alters the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).

The research suggests vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and the early years of life may increase the risk of the child developing MS later in life.

For some time, scientists have known that environmental risk and genes determine MS risk. This new study identifies a direct link between Vitamin D and a gene variant known as DRB1*501.

"In people with the DRB1 variant associated with MS, it seems that vitamin D may play a critical role," study co-author Dr. Julian Knight was quoted as saying. "If too little of the vitamin is available, the gene may not function properly."

SOURCE: PLoS Genetics, February 2009
Source: http://www.ivanhoe.com

Inukpasuit, Inuit and Viking contact in ancient times

February 12, 2009
by Ronald Brower

There are many stories of ‘Qavlunaat,’ white-skinned strangers who were encountered in Inuit-occupied lands in times of old. Stories of contact between these foreign people and Inuit were passed down the generations and used mostly to scare children to behave “or the Qavlunaat will get them.”

This sparked my curiosity to explore both sides of the encounters from written records and Inuit oral legends to see if some of these events can be correlated. One must recall that these legends were passed down orally in the Inupiaq language.

Inuit myths and legends of contact with other people were passed from one generation to the next through story telling traditions. Many people have heard Pete Sovalik, a well-known Inupiaq story-teller tell this shortened version of a story relating to Qavlunaat and other races.

Taimaniqpaa_ruk - In Times of Old – Qavlunaat were one of the children of an Inuk woman who refused to marry; a Ui_uaqtaq. Her name was Sedragina, also known as Sedna in other Inuit regions. In her youth she was just an ordinary person – A young Inuk girl (agnaiyaaq) who grew up disliking men because of abuse committed to her as a child.

Having grown into a beautiful marriageable maiden, niviaq_siaq, men from many lands sought to marry her but she rebuked all men.

One time she was courted by a rich shaman’s son to no avail. Angered by her reluctance, the rich shaman called upon other equally strong shamuses to punish her. Together they cast a great spell upon her father’s lead dog that was transformed into a handsome young man by night but by day, he was just an ordinary lead dog.

Every evening he relentlessly pursued her for sexual favors until she was worn and tired for lack of sleep wherein she, in a weakened state, gave way to his wishes. In due time, she bore a litter of human and dog-like children having a variety of skin colors as many litters often do. These became the other races of man.

As they grew, she decided to send her children away toward the East, for they became a menace to the surrounding communities because of their wild behavior. Her father had also decided to end her miserable existence - to be rid of her and the shame she brought to his house.

In Inupiat legends her story is seen as the beginning of all other human races and of the sea animals. Hence modern Qavlunaat now know her as the Mother of the Sea, a Goddess deity, but in reality Inuit do not have gods. They believe that the visible world is pervaded by Anirniit, the powers, invisible forces or spirits that affect the lives of the living.

The story teller weaves in a passage of time when the children of Sedragina would return to their kin the Inuit. Their return would mark a time of change for the Inuit but the story tellers would not say what kind of change was to follow.

As hundreds of centuries passed, vague stories were heard of the return of these people now known as Qavlunaat but they slowly faded from legends passed down over the generations.

During the time when we lived in our little village of Iviksuk, our great uncle Owen Kiiriq would also tell tales during the dark months of winter in our little dwelling. Recalling a time that Inuit encountered another kind of race who already lived in our lands.

Kiiriq recalled that elders would call them Tunnit or Inukpasuit, the giants. They were treated as fearsome coastal dwellers and were considered enemies of Inuit. They spoke an Inuit language of an archaic type understandable to our ancestors.

Kiiriq would continue his tale and describe how Inupasuit were viewed as unkempt and unclean by Inuit standards. They were considered a danger to Inuit because they at times waylaid and captured unwary hunters.

Being smaller then them, our ancestors were considered a delectable prey. Once captured, they would be cooked and eaten with relish. Thus Inuit feared these giant beings and would attempt to wipe them out if they could. They were considered slow of thought but clever in their means of pursuit of game. Inuit were ever moving eastward and the Inupasuit soon fell into the lot of myths and legends in our great grandparents’ time.

My research led me to Farley Mowat, author of Westviking, who includes descriptive appendices called “The Vanished Dorset”.

Mowat provides a description by the Norse who encountered the Dorset (Tunnit) around A.D.1000 as being swarthy and ill looking with remarkable eyes.

Mowat refers to another encounter of the Tuniit in the Floamanna Saga where the Viking Thorgisl Orrabeinsfostri shipwrecked in Baffin Island around 997. There, he and his men encountered a giant people, describing the Tunnit.

The Tunnit had lived in the Arctic for a long period of time before contact with either Inuit or Vikings. They developed a culture based on seal hunting and wherever their sod houses are found they show a long period of occupancy as noted by their middens of mostly seal remains.

As climate changed, seals moved further north following the sea ice. Mowat suggest that as seals shifted their range, so did the Tunnit following their primary food source. This may be why Erik the Red did not encounter Inuit or Tunnit when he explored the Greenland coast around 981.

Inuit myths and legends have passed through generations of story tellers. Many have changed but a little over time. A number of Inuit legends are being studied by scholars to see if they can be historically correlated to evidence found in archeological sites in several locations.

Look for an interesting conclusion of this exposition in part two.

Ronald Brower is an Inupiaq language professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Source: http://www.thearcticsounder.com

The Recovery Plan From Hell: What Wall Street Wants

February 11, 2009
by Michael Hudson

Tuesday's announcement of the Obama-Geithner recovery plan is basically an extension of the Bush-Paulson plan – yet more giveaways to financial insiders, with a view to concentrating the U.S. banking system into a cartel of just a few large banks. This is not altogether bad news for the still relatively healthy part of the banking system (healthy in the sense of still avoiding negative equity). Smaller, less troubled banks will be bought out by the large "troubled" ones, to the personal financial benefit of their stockholders. This cannot solve today's financial problem: the fact that the debt overhead far exceeds the economy's ability to pay. In fact, it will spread the distortions that the large banks have introduced, until the entire system presumably looks like Citibank, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

But this clearly is only Stage One of a two-stage plan that has not yet been announced, although the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page has provided enough hints trickling out for the past three months to tip the hand of Wall Street's "dream recovery plan."

It is not exactly what most people are hoping for. In fact, it threatens to be a nightmare scenario for the economy at large. Watch for the magic phrase: "equity kicker," first heard in the S&L mortgage crisis of the 1980s.

The first question to ask about the Recovery Program is, "recovery for whom?" The answer is, for the people who design the Recovery Program and their constituency, the bank lobby. The second question is, what is it they want to recover? The answer is, another Bubble economy, having seen the Greenspan Bubble make them so rich with his particular kind of "wealth creation": wealth in the form of indebtedness of the "real" economy at large to the banking system, and unprecedented capital gains to be made by riding the wave of asset-price inflation.

For the financial elites, the problem is that it is not possible to inflate another bubble from today's debt levels, widespread negative equity, and still-high level of real estate, stock and bond prices. No amount of new credit or capital for the banking system will induce banks to provide credit to real estate that already is over-mortgaged, or to individuals and corporations already over-indebted. All professional observers have forecast property prices to keep on plunging for at least the next year, which is as far as the eye can see in unstable conditions such as we are experiencing today.

While the Obama administration's financial planners wring their hands in public and say "We feel your pain" to debtors at large, they also recognize that the past ten years have been a golden age for the banking system and Wall Street. The wealthiest 1 per cent of the population has raised its share of the returns to wealth – dividends, interest, rent and capital gains – from 37 per cent of the total ten years ago to 57 per cent five years ago, and an estimated 70 per cent today. Over two-thirds of the returns to wealth now go to the wealthiest 1 per cent of the population. This is the highest on record. We are approaching Russian kleptocratic levels.

Yet the financial Hard Right of the political spectrum – the lobbyists now in control of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the Justice Departments for starters – repeats the new Big Lie: that it is the poor who have brought the system down, "exploiting" the rich by trying to ape their betters and live beyond their means. Subprime families have taken out subprime loans, the lying poor have signed documents to obtain "liars' loans," as Alt-A, no-documentation loans are called in the financial junk-paper trade.

I learned the reality a few years ago in London, talking to a commercial bank strategist there. "We've had an intellectual breakthrough," he said. "It's changed our credit philosophy."

"What is it?" I asked, imagining that he was about to come out with yet a new junk mathematics formula?

"The poor are honest," he said, accompanying his words with his jaw dropping open as if to say, "Who could have guessed?"

The meaning was clear enough. The poor pay their debts as a matter of honor, even at great personal expense. Unlike Donald Trump, the poor are less likely to walk away from their homes when market prices sink below the mortgage level. In today's neoliberal Chicago School language, the poor behave "uneconomically." That is, they make choices that do not make economic sense, but rather reflect a group morality. This sociological gullibility is what made them rich pickings for predatory lenders such as Countrywide, Wachovia and Citibank.

As I said above, it was a golden age. The financial and real estate bubble is the world that America's financial power elite would love to recover. The problem for them is how to start a new bubble and make yet another fortune. The alternative would be to keep what they have taken and run – not so bad, but a scenario that perhaps they can improve on.

Discussions about emergency bailouts have focused on putting in place enough new lending capacity by the banking system to start inflating prices on credit once again. But a new bubble can't be started from today's asset-price levels. This week's $2 trillion or so in new bailout money for the banks ("capital," and specifically finance capital, not to be confused with industrial capital) will only be lent out once prices fall by another 30 to 50 percent. So this can represent only Stage 1.

The question for Stage 2 is, how can the $10 to $20 trillion capital-gain run-up of the Greenspan years been repeated in an economy that is "all loaned up"?

One thing Wall Street knows is that to make money, you not only need asset prices to rise, they have to go down again – and up again, and down again. Without going down, after all, how can they rise up? The more frenetic the price fibulation, the easier it is for computerized buy-and-sell programs to make money on options and derivatives. What is being planned today looks like a similar up-and-down movement in real estate.

The first trick is to preserve the wealth of the creditor class – Wall Street, the banks and the other financial vehicles that enrich the wealthiest 1 per cent and indeed, the richest 10 per cent of the population. Stage One involves buying out their bad loans at a price that saves them from taking a loss. This is done by shifting the loss onto the "taxpayers" – labor, onto whose shoulders the tax burden has been shifted steadily, step by step since 1980, with the Greenspan Commission imposing an onerous Social Security tax on the middle class and using the proceeds to slash taxes on the higher brackets. Next comes an "aggregator" bank (sounds like "alligator," from the swamps of toxic waste) to buy the bad debts and put them in a public agency. The government calls this the "bad" bank. But it does good for Wall Street – by buying loans that have gone bad – or perhaps nearer the truth, loans that never were good in the first place.

The harder part is to revive opportunities for creditors to make a new killing. (And it's the economy that's being killed.) Here's how I imagine the plan might work.

Suppose a recent buyer has purchased a home for $500,000, with a $500,000 adjustable-rate mortgage scheduled to reset at 8 per cent. Suppose too that the current market price has fallen to $250,000 – a loss of 50 per cent by the end of 2009. After all, there needs to be enough time for prices to decline. Otherwise, there would be no economy to "rescue." Mr. Geithner and Summers need to "feel your pain" to come out with the package that I'm describing. The government will swap "cash for trash," printing new Treasury bonds (interest to be paid by "the taxpayer) in exchange for the $500,000 mortgage that is going bad, heading toward only a $250,000 market price.

The "Bad" bank that the Obama plan decided was not quite ready to be created this week will take the form of a public/private partnership (PPP), of the sort that Tony Blair made so notorious in Britain. It will be financed with private funds – in fact, with the funds now being given to re-capitalize America's banks (headed by the Wall St. banks that have done so poorly). Banks will use the money they receive from the Treasury for selling their junk mortgages at par – along with other bailout funding – to buy shares in a new $5 trillion institution. Something like Fanny Mae or Freddie Mac will be created and its bonds guaranteed (that's the "public" part – "socializing" the risk). The PPP institution will start with, say, $3 trillion in funds, and will have the power to buy and renegotiate the mortgages that have passed into the hands of the government and other holders. This "Middle Class Homeowner Recovery Trust" will use its private funding for the "socially responsible" purpose of "saving the taxpayer" and homeowners by renegotiating the mortgage down from its original $500,000 to the new $250,000 price.

Here's the patter talk you can expect, with the usual Orwellian euphemisms. The "rescue the homeowners" PPP, a veritable Savior Bank, will go to a family strapped by its home mortgage debt and feeling more and more desperate as the price of its major asset plummets deep into Negative Equity territory. An offer will be made: "We've got a deal to save you. We'll renegotiate your mortgage down to $250,000, the current market price, and we'll also lower your interest rate to just 5.50 per cent. This will cut your monthly debt charges by nearly two thirds. You will escape from negative equity, and you can afford to stay in your home."

The family probably will say, "Great."

But they will have to make a concession. That's where the new public/private partnership makes its killing. Its Savior Bank, funded with private money that is to take the "risk" (and also the rewards) will say to the family that agrees to renegotiate its mortgage: "Now that the government has taken a loss while we've let you stay in your home, we need to recover the money that's been lost. So when the time comes for you to sell, or to renegotiate your mortgage, our Savior Bank will receive the capital gain up to the original amount written off. If we've made you whole, we want to be made whole too."

In other words, if the homeowner sells the property for $400,000, the Savior Bank will get $150,000 of the capital gain. If the property sells for $500,000, the bank will get $250,000. And if it sells for more, thanks to some new clone of Alan Greenspan acting as bubblemeister, the capital gain will be split in some way. If the split is 50/50, then if the home sells for $600,000, the owner at that time will split the $100,000 further capital gain with the Savior Bank. The Savior Bank will thus make much more through its share of capital gains than it extracts in interest!

This plan will be even better for Wall Street than the Greenspan bubble was! Last time around, it was the middle class that got the gains. To be sure, it really was the bank that got the gains, because mortgage interest charges absorbed the entire rental value. But at least homeowners had a chance at the free ride, if they didn't squander their money in refinancing their mortgages. And many did use their homes "like a piggy bank" to support their living standards.

But this time around, Wall Street is not obliged to make its money by making middle class homeowners rich. Debt-strapped homeowners are willing to settle merely for a plan that leaves them in their homes! It can get for itself the capital gains that have been the driving force of U.S. "wealth creation," Alan Greenspan bubble-style.

The irony is that the only kind of policies that are politically correct these days are those that make the situation worse: yet more government money in the hope that banks will create yet more credit/debt to raise house prices and make them even more unaffordable; to inflate a new bubble; to give what really should be called the "bad banks" – the Big Four or Five where the junk mortgages, junk CDOs and junk derivatives resulting from junk mathematics are concentrated – yet more money to buy out smaller banks that have not yet been infected with reckless financial opportunism.

And by the same token, lobbyists for these bad banks are screaming at the top of their voices that all solutions to the problem are politically incorrect: debt writedowns to bring the debt burden within the ability to pay. That is what the market is supposed to do – by bankruptcy in an anarchic collapse, if not by reasoned government policy. The bad banks, after demanding "free markets" all these years, have stopped the free market when it comes anywhere near them and their bonuses. For them, markets are free of regulation against predatory lending; free of taxing the wealthy so as to shift the burden onto labor; free for the financial sector to wrap itself around the "real" economy like a parasitic vine around a tree and extract the entire surplus in the form of financial engineering.

This is a travesty of freedom. But worst of all is the "freedom" of today's economic discussion from the wisdom of classical political economy and from the experience of economic history regarding how societies have coped with the debt overhead through the ages.

An alternative policy to save the economy from being "rescued" by Wall Street

There is an alternative to ward all this off. A debt writedown, followed by a land tax so that the "free lunch" (what John Stuart Mill called the "unearned increment" of rising land prices, a gain that landlords made "in their sleep") would serve as the tax base rather than labor and industry being burdened with an income tax.

One move would be to prevent banks from lending against the land's value. They could lend against buildings, but not land. This would cut the maximum permissible loan to 50 to 60 per cent of the total property price – unless the government did what classical economists advocated and tax the land's market price (its rental value) as the tax base, shifting the tax back off of labor. This would achieve the kind of free markets that Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and Alfred Marshall described, and which the Progressive Era aimed to achieve with America's first income tax in 1913.

A land tax would prevent housing prices from rising again. This would save homeowners from taking on so much debt in order to obtain housing. And it would save the economy from seeing "wealth creation" take the form of the "unearned increment" being capitalized into higher bank loans with their associated carrying charges (interest and amortization). The key to real estate bubbles is to inflate site valuations.

Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist. A Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) He can be reached via his website, mh AT michael-hudson DOT com

Source: http://counterpunch.org

sábado, 14 de fevereiro de 2009

Exposed: Europe’s GM-Hype in Times of Food and Fuel Crisis

ISIS Press Release 06/08/08

Pro-GM brigade at large in the food and fuel crisis

The pro-GM brigade has been losing no time in exploiting the current global food and fuel crisis and the high price of animal feed to promote GM as the solution in the mainstream media. An offensive was launched on the European Union (EU) to relax its policy on GM imports and cultivation. At present only one GM crop, a GM maize, is approved for cultivation in Europe. The European Commission department of agriculture has joined forces with the biotech industry and the animal feed industry in claiming that it is the EU’s GM policy that is harming Europe’s livestock industry.

Leading the charge of the pro-GM brigade in Europe is Britain, in its role as chief ally of the largest GM exporter the United States. The UK Independent reported that [1], “Ministers are preparing to open the way for genetically modified crops to be grown in Britain on the grounds that they could help combat the global food crisis.” The main source quoted in the article is environment minister Phil Woolas. The night before promoting the GM agenda, the article said, Woolas held talks with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, a biotech industry PR group representing Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Pioneer (DuPont), and Syngenta. This industry lobby group is run by Lexington Communications, a PR agency intimately connected to the New Labour government [2]. The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has fallen in line, calling on the EU to relax its rules on importing GM animal feed in order to cut spiralling food prices [3]. In addition, a new report by the UK Cabinet Office on the food and feed crises focuses almost exclusively on the role of the EU's GMO regulations in creating delays for GM feed crop approvals [4].

Critics say that such scaremongering is a cynical attempt to force the EU to drop its “zero tolerance” approach to GM and GM-contaminated imports. Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said at UK's National Farmers Union (NFU) conference [5], "I think the debate about higher prices and being able to meet the demand of people in the world for food is a perfect opportunity to make the case [for GMO crops]... We may have a window of opportunity here and I would encourage you to exploit that."

President of European Commission at the heart of EU’s pro-GM lobby

Industry lobbyists hoping to convince Europe to go down the GM route face an uphill battle, at least, as far as democracy prevails. Most EU member states and their elected representatives in the EU Parliament remain sceptical of GM crops. Votes by ministers from the member states on applications for their import or cultivation regularly oppose GM applications, but not with a sufficient majority to finally block the approval. The technical name for this type of majority decision in Eurospeak is an ‘unqualified majority’. In such cases, the decision reverts to the unelected European Commission.

The Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, is at the heart of the EU's pro-GM lobby. Reports have emerged that Barroso is trying to get member states to agree on GMOs behind closed doors, so that there are no more unqualified majorities [6]. Barroso is also trying to find a way to lift Europe’s “zero tolerance” policy and smooth the way for the entry of GMOs into Europe [7, 8]. The Commission has already announced that a decision on animal feed imports and EU GM approvals and laws will be reached this summer. A group of MEPs on the agriculture and environment, public health and food safety committees has written a letter to Barroso expressing concern at [9] “reports that the Commission is deliberately trying to find ways to avoid a co-decision process, thus excluding MEPs, the elected representatives of European citizens, from any decisions on this issue.”

The pro-GM lobby, including influential people within the European Commission, claims that Europe must open the doors to GMOs in order to solve the food and feed crisis; but there is little basis to the claim.

No evidence that GM crops will solve the food and fuel crisis

Most of the EU’s animal feed comes from Brazil and Argentina, which are careful to grow only those varieties of feed, both GM and non-GM, that are approved in the EU, so as not to harm their export markets [10]. An article in the Financial Times quotes a Brazilian diplomatic source saying, “We produce to satisfy our clients. We are not going to produce something they are not going to buy.” The article goes on to say that neither Argentina nor Brazil share the “apocalyptic” scenario currently being put forward by the biotech and livestock industries and intensive farmers [11].

Such scaremongering ignores the well-known fact that GM crops have at best, variable impacts on yields and are therefore not a solution to the food crisis, as was confirmed by the recent IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development) report on the future of agriculture [12].

More importantly, it ignores the fact that the major cause of the food and feed crisis is not European GM policy, but the rush to biofuels. Even the World Bank has now confirmed what NGOs have been saying ever since the notion of a food crisis was first mooted, that the Bush-subsidised ethanol boom (with the EU's agrofuel boom following in its wake) is by far the single most important factor in creating the food crisis that is driving 100m people worldwide below the poverty line. The report, which has not been published but was leaked to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, says biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75 percent. The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3 percent to food-price rises. Senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George W. Bush [13].

The irony is that exactly the same people who created this disaster by promoting the rush into agrofuels are now promoting a rush for GMOs as the solution. It is this hype that the European Commission and British politicians appear to be swallowing, without being honest about the vested interests at stake.

Monsanto does a complete about-turn on GMOs being needed to feed the world

And here’s another irony. The truth about GMOs as the solution to the global food crisis is not coming from politicians but from industry itself. Previously, in the face of growing global opposition, Monsanto has long proclaimed that GM crops are vital for feeding a hungry world, while critics countered that the food is there and that distribution is the key to tackling hunger. But as opposition to biofuels is rising in Europe and even in the US on the grounds that they are not a solution to climate change and are contributing to the food crisis, Monsanto is now keen to defend the biofuels gravy-train that sent food prices sky-rocketing, and the company's spin has suddenly gone into complete reverse.

The ethanol boom may be pushing millions towards starvation and hundreds of millions deeper into poverty, but, says Monsanto's chief technology officer Rob Fraley [14], "From a production perspective, we have abundance [of food]". Fraley now says the "challenges" are in distribution and access to food because of wealth distribution, in other words, poverty.

Fraley made his pitch at the launch of a new multi-million dollar lobby group for ethanol, the Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy, that Monsanto has helped set up. There could be no clearer demonstration that Monsanto's concern has never been feeding the hungry; its leading role in the ethanol lobby shows that the hungry can happily starve, just so long as it's good for the company's bottom line.

Given that industry has revealed the truth behind its biofuels agenda, is it too much to ask of Europe’s politicians that they should be equally honest about the vested interests behind the hyping of GM crops?

Claire Robinson is an editor of GMWatch www.GMWatch.org

Source: http://www.i-sis.org.uk

How Britain created Ulster's murder gangs

February 2009
By Neil Mackay

Since the Sunday Herald was founded in 1999, it has led the way in exposing the “dirty war” in Northern Ireland. Today, we report on the most shocking revelations to date. Our investigations show that far from merely “turning” terrorists to work for the state, British military intelligency actually created loyalist murder gangs to operate as proxy assassins. They even cleared areas in which the gangs were operating of police and army, to allow them to carry out their hits and escape.

On Monday, the world was stunned by the release of a report by Nuala O'Loan, the police ombudsman for Northern Ireland, which stated that Special Branch officers in Belfast had "colluded" with loyalist terrorists working for the British state as informers. According to O'Loan, police failed to stop these paramilitary gangs, part of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) from killing an estimated 15 people in the 1990s. While this was seized upon by republicans as proof that security forces had aided a loyalist campaign of sectarian assassination, in reality O'Loan's findings barely scratched the surface of a 30-year history of criminality and murder orchestrated by the British army and the Ulster police.

He insists on being named only as "JB", a sick, ageing man, who fears that ill-health or a bullet from an assassin wishing to silence him will claim his life before he has the chance to tell the true story of his life and crimes. On Wednesday, JB passed a bundle of papers to the Sunday Herald, making up the bulk of his unpublished memoirs, which paint British military intelligence as a callous, murderous, criminal cabal. JB claims that he - and dozens of other members of the terrorist organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) - were trained and armed by military intelligence.

He also claims select UVF officers were ordered by military intelligence to carry out assassinations against both IRA figures and ordinary Catholics. Such soft targets as innocent men and women were pinpointed by military intelligence in order to psychologically undermine the nationalist population of Northern Ireland and cut the support base from beneath the Provisional IRA.

Martin Ingram, the false cover name for a former member of the covert British military intelligence outfit the Force Research Unit (FRU), has supported the claims made by JB. Ingram eventually turned whistleblower, disgusted at the deaths the FRU had caused by colluding with terrorists in Ulster. He later went on to write a book about the double agent Stakeknife - IRA operative Freddie Scappaticci - who had been "handled" by Ingram's FRU team and exposed by Sunday Herald investigators. Ingram says he is aware of JB's history, and believes his claims are "completely credible". Loyalist sources have also confirmed JB's credibility.

advertisementJB, who was convicted twice of terrorist offences, once in the 1970s and again in the early 1990s, says he carried out some 50 UVF operations sanctioned by his handlers in the Military Reconnaissance Force (MRF), the army team which gathered intelligence and ran agents in Ulster. He says he became a "killer, bomber, arsonist and robber". Of the 50 state-sanctioned operations he took part in, "not all were successful".Some, he says, "were aborted". So far he has refused to go into details of the actual murders he took part in on behalf of British military intelligence. Beyond admitting that killings took place, he will only talk about how the British army trained him as a terrorist proxy.

Edward Heath
In JB's words, "military intelligence trained, armed and moulded squads of loyalists to put pressure on the IRA to abandon their campaign of bloodshed and carnage". JB was a young UVF member in the early 1970s when first approached by an MRF handler. JB says the military intelligence officer, whom he will name only as "Mike", told him that the then prime minister Edward Heath had sanctioned the "training of loyalists".Mike later added that "nobody, except at the very highest level of the British government and senior officers of the military" knew about the covert counter-insurgency operations.

Mike told JB that "London has ordered the war be taken to the IRA obviously this can't be done openly and must be done covertly. That's why we are looking for people like you ... We are enlisting men from all over the province to co-ordinate attacks, to convince the Catholic people that support for the Provos will only bring death and destruction to their own community."

As well as being trained in firearms at army barracks and firing ranges around Northern Ireland - primarily at Palace Barracks near Holywood in County Down - men like JB were also provided with intelligence on potential targets and given details about which targets to hit. JB knows of at least 30 loyalists who received similar training to him, but believes more than 120 could have been trained as proxy assassins. At times, he was given a British army uniform to provide him with cover while with his handlers. He even drank, on occasions, with his handlers in the Naafi - armed forces bars on military bases.

When proxies like JB were dispatched on a murder operation, military intelligence would impose an Out Of Bounds (OOB) order on the area in which the attack was to take place. In military terms, an OOB means an intelligence operation is under way and army and police are forbidden from entering the area. This gave loyalist murder gangs freedom to operate with impunity during such state-sanctioned attacks. At one stage, claims JB, Mike told him: "Mr Heath and the top brass have given the green light for this."

JB was trained by military intelligence, he says, in how to use a variety of hand-guns, machine guns and rifles, as well as bomb-making techniques. The UVF men working for military intelligence were also given consignments of guns and ammunition by handlers, sent on gruelling fitness courses and schooled in the arts of surveillance, counter-surveillance and intelligence gathering. Other classes included lectures on forensic science, how to avoid leaving incriminating evidence at the scene of crimes and how to steal cars for use in assassination operations.

JB also claims military intelligence instructed loyalists to plant explosives in a Catholic bar to make it look as if the IRA had accidentally set off the bomb. It was hoped such acts would drain Catholic support for republicans.

The bomb was planted in McGurk's Bar in Belfast on December 4, 1971. It killed 15 men, women and children. The immediate blame was indeed placed on the IRA. However, seven years after the bomb, a UVF man received 15 life sentences for the atrocity. JB says he was told about the planned bombing two weeks before the attack and was with his handler at the time it happened. He also claims he saw his handler take pot-shots at republican youths on the streets of Belfast around this time.

A captain in military intelligence spelt out the reasons for the army creating these secret counter-insurgency cells during one discussion with JB. He said: "This type of war can't be won by conventional means. The only solution is to implement a counter-operation, to counteract the violence of the enemy by heaping more violence on them That's why we've chosen men like you to instil trepidation and pandemonium among the Provos and their support base, the Catholic community We will match whatever they do, and outdo them."

In the weeks leading up to the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry, on January 30, 1972, in which the Paratroop Regiment killed 13 people taking part in a civil rights demonstration, JB was informed by his handlers that the British army had been ordered by the Cabinet "to use whatever force and tactics necessary to put these troublemakers down". JB "concludes there were plans for mass murder to be committed that day The Bloody Sunday massacre was sanctioned by the government and top military chiefs." JB is sure that there was a preconceived plan to open fire on the civil rights demonstrators, with the full knowledge this would cause civilian deaths. He believes military intelligence thought this would shake the IRA. Instead, the massacre was a huge boost to IRA support and recruitment.

The day before Bloody Sunday, JB was taken for a training session at Palace Barracks, where he was given a pep-talk by a major who praised him for "having the courage and loyalty to participate in covert actions against the common enemy". The major told JB: "We are hoping to provoke a confrontation with the IRA in Derry, and give them an example of what to expect in future attacks." JB was then offered the chance, he claims, to accompany his military handler, Mike, to Derry to watch the operation to contain the demonstration. Military intelligence sources today say events such as this would help forge a bond, or esprit de corps, between agent and handler.

JB was provided with a British army uniform, a gas mask, camouflage face-paint and a rifle as cover for the time he would spend in Derry with his handler. During the events, JB watched from a military intelligence observation post as soldiers opened fire on civilians. He also claims to have seen members of military intelligence shooting at, and hitting, unarmed civilians from the gun nest in the observation post.

Another killing carried out by loyalists and facilitated by military intelligence by the imposition of an OOB order took place in February 1972 when a bomb exploded in a pub killing, one Catholic man and injuring five others.

Trained proxies such as JB were often taken on "dummy run" assassination operations by handlers to ensure the OOB system was working. An OOB order would be given on a specific area of Belfast and JB and his team would enter the area, locate the home of a target, recce it and then leave. If they met with no security force patrols, they knew the OOB system was effective.

Mike at one time told JB: "We don't expect every time an ASU active service unit of the UVF goes out, they will kill somebody. The mere fact an attempt has been made and shots fired, even if they wound or miss altogether, is all part of the terror tactics." The policy was meant to "scare the shit" out of Catholics. Mike also instructed JB on how to "extract information" from Catholics or republicans they kidnapped. The techniques were "gruesome", JB said. Mike made clear that torture should be used, and referred to the victims as "Taigs", a derogatory term for Catholics. Mike also advised on the best shot to use to dispatch a victim of a backstreet execution.

WHILE refusing to give a statement about the actual operations in which he took part, JB said he knew about a number of high-profile loyalist atrocities, sponsored by the MRF. These included the shooting of three members of the Miami Showband, a popular Irish group, in July 1975. The band's bus was flagged down by members of the UVF dressed in army uniforms at a fake military checkpoint. Another MRF-sponsored atrocity, says JB, was the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 17, 1974, which killed 33 people and injured 250.

JB lists a series of killings by loyalists which were facilitated by military intelligence putting out OOB orders on the location where the target lived, including the murder of a taxi driver, an eight-year-old girl, various men walking alone in Catholic areas and a Catholic woman in a bomb blast at public toilets in Lurgan. Referring to the last killing, JB says: "As long as it was a Catholic killed, fear would be creeping into Catholic minds - who would be next?'"

When UVF proxies were targeting republicans or IRA men, nearly all the intelligence used in planning hits came from the British army's intelligence wing.

Perhaps the most horrible of all hits facilitated by military intelligence, says JB, was one that involved the infamous Shankill Butchers murder gang. An OOB was put in place, allowing the UVF to put up an illegal roadblock at which they abducted a Catholic man and took him to the head of the Shankill Butchers - a UVF psychopath called Lenny Murphy. The gang tortured their victims for hours with knives before finally executing them. Sometimes the torture sessions took place in front of baying crowds in loyalist drinking dens. At least 19 people died at the hands of the gang. JB states: "I verify and confirm what I have written is a true and very accurate account of events."

Source: How Britain created Ulster's murder gangs


Source: http://www.redicecreations.com