Friday, June 1, 2007

What’s the name of this? Badge?

I heard one of the classic summer pop songs of all-time yesterday afternoon while I was driving back from lunch. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” is one of those wonderful Sly Stone classics that shows just how great of a songwriter he really was. That incredible moment when Larry Graham delivers the verse, “first of the fall and then she goes back” is always one of those melting points for me.

The whole structure of that verse acts like a bridge in a song that actually has no bridge. This has made me think a bit about the greatest bridges and I thought I would put up a small personal top 5 list of great bridges that come to mind.

Writing a great bridge is one of those songwriter skills that is so important and overlooked, especially in this day and age of music, pop, rock or otherwise. The bridge, when it's done well, can move a song into a new territory or enhance/change the mood that a song creates. If done with a particularly strong sense of melody the bridge can break your heart or make your crazy dance more intense.

So, here is a list of this paranoid’s top 5 bridges, in no particular order:

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles. The moment the song shifts down a gear in tempo and key when the verse “and when I’m with you..” it’s obvious that they understood the structure and power of pop music. This is great on two levels (1) it’s placement in the song which gives it a new color and vibrancy, and (2) it foreshadows the songcraft skills the band will show in the explosion of growth and creativity they will have over a short handful of years.

“Invisible Sun” by The Police. I think I can start an argument over this choice, especially over what I define as the bridge. Technically the bridge would be the instrumental part after the second chorus where Andy Summers is bending the strings on his Telecaster while “whoa-o-a-ohs” are being sung in the background. But, I think the true bridge to this song is that great descending chord, crescendo section that connects the verse to the chorus. It’s that off-key delivery that get’s me, especially with Stewart Copeland’s fantastic snare snap just before the chorus begins.

“Georgia On My Mind” and “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael. I had to put both of these songs together. To this day Stardust can stop me in my tracks whenever I hear it played or performed and I have to admit that Brother Ray’s version of Georgia On My Mind with that lush orchestration of the bridge fills me with longing for something I can't define. Carmichael was such an amazing songwriter...and his stuff is damn fun to play on the ukulele!

“Say Goodbye to Hollywood” by Billy Joel. I’ve always wished that this song had been a big hit for Ronnie Spector, especially since it was written for her. I think it’s a great bridge not only in the structure of the song itself but it has a certain symbolism to me, with it’s dated late 70’s quality being inserted into a crafted in the style of a Ronettes song, structure. If Ronnie had had a hit with this she would have been sitting pretty as the 80’s dawned. I don't care if Ronnie Spector is as crazy as a bed bug, to this day I wish I could have the chance to meet her.

“Love Reign O’er Me” by The Who – The way the song becomes more poignant, heart breaking and open as Pete Townshend delivers that descending scale and then the bridge kicks in with “On the dry and dusty road..” with Pete playing an ascending scale on that Gretsch, always shows me just how well this band understood the power of not just the ideas that rock could create, but they understood the common dreams that rock fans shared. It adds to the overall power of the song, one of The Who’s greatest, and in the structure of Quadrophenia it just adds to the detail and sense of personal connection that I, and many other people, feel to the album. I try very hard to not find a personal identification with songs and albums because it's a dangerous way of appreciating art. Like reading poetry, you take great risks when you too closely identify words to the writer or selfishly to yourself, but Quadrophenia is one of the 3 albums I relate to on a deeply personal level. Mike Watt’s “Contemplating the Engine Room” and Jeff Buckley’s “Grace” being the other two.

How about it? Any additions you can think of for great bridges?

The TB scare - A real time example of how conspiracy theories are born.

How do conspiracy theories begin? This is a question that has received some serious study but very little of it has been done from the point of view of conspiracy theorists. The TB scare is a prime example of how certain mechanisms begin to work which lead to a theory being produced. The mechanisms are almost always related to lack of information, conflicting information or a breakdown in processes that occur in a pattern that simply should not occur. Coincidence always plays a part in any of these mechanisms, coincidence or synchronicity is a central component of any conspiracy theory.

Let’s look at the details that are too strange to not overlook and which seem suspicious at least on the first look, if not on a more deep investigative level:

1) There is a great deal of conflict in the statements being made between the CDC, Fulton County Health Department officials and the patient himself. The father of the patient is even saying that he recorded a meeting with these people where he asked questions to explicitly define what the health officials considered to be his options for traveling on a plane.

There will always be two ways of looking at and interpreting conversations and events, its simply a part of human nature that we all see things differently. However, with health officials and lawyers being at the center of this fiasco, some clarity should shine through and in this case the facts seem muddy and unfocused.

2) The father-in-law of the patient is not only a CDC employee, he is a microbiologist who’s area of professional specialty is the spread of TB. The father-in-law made a strange and surprising news conference yesterday in what appears to have been the front of his home. He stated that he did not give his son-in-law TB, that he did not speak with his son-in-law as a CDC representative and that he had no control over his actions.

This is very odd on several levels and the first thing that comes to mind is exactly what he and his son-in-law did talk about in relation to this situation. I cannot believe that this Dr. would not have been extremely interested in the details of his son-in-law’s health situation and most especially would have been interested in his plans to travel. His strongly worded statements that he, and the CDC, did not give his son-in-law TB are strange in that it has not even been suggested that he or they did in fact give him the disease. This kind of heading off at the pass strategy is peculiar.

3) The patient claims that he did not fully understand the risk involved in this little adventure and that he was convinced he was not contagious. Even though it was not discovered until after he had left the country that the form of TB he has was the XDR strain, he was still aware that he had a multiple drug resistant strain of the bacterial infection.

On a regular basis we are made aware of the ever increasing problem with drug resistant illnesses. I, and many others find it odd that this fact alone did not concern this young man more seriously when he was diagnosed. Just the term TB alone is enough to frighten most people, treatable and low level of contagiousness or not. To get on a plane and set off to Europe with your new bride is actually unfathomable. Even if you consider the point of view that he was selfish and did not want to waste the money spent on this trip there is still the fact that family, most certainly the father-in-law, would have been alarmed at the intention to travel in that condition.

With these inconsistent and almost unanswerable questions and answers, the attention of people is caught. When things do not add up, and in the TB scare case many things do not add up, people will begin to dig into the connections and facts much more deeply. Things do happen around us for which there is no explanation. Coincidences that seem improbable can and do happen. But when a breakdown of process occurs on a level this great, and involving a system that is fairly well defined and tested, suspicions will arise.

The inaction by the border officer who let this man pass is almost too unreal to be true. Here you have an employee who has been chosen for their ability to follow rules and orders unquestionably, who sees before him a computer screen that tells him to don protective clothing, isolate the suspect and notify officials immediately and his response is to let the man pass because he “looks healthy”? These things do not add up, human error rarely compounds itself to these levels, and I cannot think of an instance where the errors have been so widely spread where there was not something behind the scenes, guiding the outcome.

Now, I am not saying that the TB scare is a conspiracy theory. To be honest I can only see signs of a possibility, but I can see no real connecting string to each phase of this event. But the fact that the coincidences and errors all indicate a resemblance to known aspects of conspiracy theory (Revelation of Method for one) should be enough to concern the CT researcher and enthusiast, as well as leave the non-CT with a sense of uneasiness.

While the information is still developing and this is extremely fresh in your mind you should take note that the surrounding facts and oddities of this case are exactly how a conspiracy theory starts. Whether you believe all, some or no conspiracy theories it should still be something that you note.

The yearly Bilderberg news vacuum

Here is a brief roundup of news coming from the periphery of this year’s Bilderberg Group meeting in Istanbul:

Prison Planet is reporting that the meeting is being held at the Ritz Carlton after the group tried to throw reporters off the trail by telling them that the meeting would be held at the Klassis Hotel in Siliviri, Turkey. They are also reporting that Kissinger has asked the international community to cooperate with the US in the Iraq conflict in a speech given before the group.

An Austin TV station is reporting of criticism over Texas Governor Rick Perry’s attendance at the meeting, who’s expenses are being paid for by Perry’s campaign fund and PAC, “Texans for Rick Perry”. One of the criticisms being drawn against Gov. Perry is the Bilderberg secrecy which “..defeats the purpose of open democracy.”

In a Pro/Con style of editorials, the Turkish Daily News has offered a scathing anti-conspiracy theorist article regarding the meeting. Just days ago the paper offered a surprisingly frank and honest appraisal of the meeting. I guess Hank Kissinger didn’t like the tone of the earlier piece and made a few calls to get better PR.

"Our country's destiny"

Georgie Anne Geyer of The Dallas Morning News published a very well argued article on Thursday about the current state of terrorism. Included in the article was a quote from several friends of the President who claim that in a recent meeting he is beat his chest, with a wild eyed look and declaring he is the President. The mention of the President's imitation of a silverback gorilla has garnered all the attention, but there was another statement that should have rang alarms worldwide. According to these friends of Bush, the President said that he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country's destiny."

What sort of sneaky and evil little plan would keep us from leaving Iraq even after this President leaves office? In April I posted my thoughts on the subject that President Bush may not step down from office, as he is Constitutionally required to do at the end of this term. Since the war in Iraq is becoming less and less popular with the public each day, and the feelings of anger and being duped increase with each sunrise it is almost impossible to see how Americans would stand for such a thing, especially if there were a Democrat in the White House to match Democratic control of both houses. How would Bush setup Iraq so we would not leave after his Presidency?

There are really only a limited number of ways that this could be done. A false flag attack on US soil or a mass casualty on the troops who are deployed, in theater to Iraq, which could finger Iran or al-Qaeda would probably turn the tide of public opinion to regain support for our presence in Iraq. An outbreak of war between two gulf nations, with one of them pleading for our support could also be a possibility. The bottom line is that there are only a few reasons why Americans would stand for a continued presence in Iraq after this President leaves office.

While my theory that the President will stay in office well beyond January 2009 is an outside possibility at best and I know it’s a reaching theory with many holes, I can’t help but be amazed with how his statement and this possibility do have a point of meshing. With Bush recently signing the Natiional Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20, he has yet another tool to use in doing this.

I think it would behove all of us to keep a close eye on not only the President but also to consider the possibilities of what may be in store for us in the upcoming months. This week’s TB patient saga has brought to light a glaring and inexcusable hole in the systems that are supposed to keep people on watch lists out of the country. Remember, the border guard who let the infected TB patient back into the country said he did so because the guy “looked healthy”. This event should be viewed as a Revelation of the Method in how a false flag attack could be perpetrated. The eventual patsy/fall guy could be said to have used a similar method of gaining entry to the country and we will look back at this TB event and nod our heads “yes, I remember that.” without seeing the larger, underlying setup.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Semantics, folks. Semantics.

The recent story about our local TB patient who went globe trotting with his new wife while carrying what he knew to be a drug resistant form of tuberculosis is pretty odd and troubling on many levels but there is something to be gleaned from this that smacks of Doublespeak. The patient stated to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he had complied with the CDC and Fulton County Health Department officials on everything, "except the solitary confinement request" in Italy.

So, medical isolation for a contagious and highly dangerous disease is now considered "solitary confinement"? Really? I thought solitary confinement is a form of punishment given to prisoners, or used as a torture tactic.

It's all in the semantics, folks. When you feel you've been given a raw deal, the best way to call yourself a victim, without outright saying it, is to use words that evoke the belief that you've been victimized. I'm sure our TB patient would not like to experience solitary confinement in it's actual form which is served in prisons and CIA run rendition locations.

What this man has done is provide us with an excellent example of how Doublespeak really works and how using the word war to manipulate others into being sympathetic/empathetic to your situation really works. Politicians aren't the only people who know how to manipulate emotions based on words and their usage.

The masters of propaganda fully understand how to use Doublespeak and how to manipulate us with words. Marketing and advertising gurus have this same knowledge and they also use it to manipulate us in ways of separating us from our money. Religious leaders also understand this craft and look toward the James Dobsons and Pat Robertsons of this world to see how they twist words and definitions to make their flock conform.

When medical isolation becomes solitary confinement to a self described "well educated, intelligent and successful" person it's a sign we should all keep in mind that the tricks of the trade that propagandists use are around us every day.

Bilderberg Group begins meeting today

It's that time of the year again. The Bilderberg Group has begun it's yearly meeting, today in Istanbul. Among the expected American attendees this year are Grand Poobah Henry Kissinger, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld. I find the Wolfowitz attendance particularly interesting because of the recent scandal at the World Bank which has driven him out of that office with a fat, golden parachute. As is usual for this event, the mainstream media are subdued and the ever present attempt to debunk Conspiracy Theorists can be relied upon to hog up a sentence or two when it is reported.

One website that features a particularly long and eyes wide open article about the meeting is online version of the Turkish Daily News. One particular passage of their article is quite refreshing for it's honesty and candor,

"One may choose to believe or not, but the secrecy of the meetings – no cell
phones, no getting out of the hotel during three days, no notes, no interviews –
creates fertile ground for conspiracy theories. When senior representatives of
media giants such as the FT, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post
attend the meetings every year and next to nothing is printed in the same papers
about Bilderberg, one starts to wonder."

Even the Village Voice has a small, 7 paragraph article about the meeting which skims over the right-wing fear of Bilderberg that rose quite strongly in the '90s. While I think the far right-wing's response to the group during the '90s is an integral part of the American public's reaction to the Bilderberg Group, focusing on that aspect does a disservice to the study of the Bilderberg Group as a whole. Fear and loathing from the right is only one aspect of this subject.

The mechanisms and presence of secret societies has always fascinated me, as it has virtually every Conspiracy Theorist. At times this fascination can lead to the professional risk of going 'round the bend, so to speak, and full blown paranoia can cause the researcher or enthusiast to become radicalized. It's been my experience to notice that the main cause of this reaction is research into secret societies rather than government coverups/conspiracies or conspiracy theories of the religious or business world.

I've often thought that secret societies expose true fears and truths of human nature and the way things really work in this world. Getting too close to that truth can be overwhelming to the point where a complete overhaul of ones belief system is necessary. An epiphany can be small or massive and looking into the shadowy world of secret societies is guaranteed to generate a moment of clarity where the world changes on it's axis in front of your very eyes.

With the Bohemian Grove meeting just around the corner as well as the day to day discussions of the Bilderberg Group, the high weirdness websites and message boards will be in full swing, as usual. If anything extraordinary pops up I'll be certain to write about it a bit. In the meantime, hit Google, especially the Google News engine, and don't forget the sites that focus primarily on this subject, such as Alex Jones' Prison Planet.

Don't go 'round the bend!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More news on the melamine tainted food scandals

The safety of Chinese imports is a still developing story. The latest round of items contains a quite disturbing story. The former regulator of the Chinese food and drug agency has been sentenced to death after he was found guilty of accepting bribes to the tune of over $850,000. His harsh sentence isn’t nearly as disturbing as the vulnerability of Chinese regulators are to bribery. If the head regulator can be bribed to look the other way for such a relatively paltry sum, with not only his own life but the lives of innocents at stake, there is no way we can guarantee that local inspectors cannot be bribed as well. This of course deepens the concern we should have over any food, hygiene or health related product that is imported from China.

Chinese government officials have now stated on the record that US producers who get their raw materials from China should be cautious, “U.S. companies doing business with Chinese companies must also be very clear about the standards they need, and don't just look for a cheap price," says Yuan Changxiang, a deputy director in the ministry charged with inspecting imports and experts, in a USA Today report.

More melamine is still showing up in new dog food on the shelves of stores. Either this was caused by a factory not cleaning all of the tainted gluten from their food processing equipment, an unknown bag of contaminated gluten still being in their stockpile or an entirely new lot of gluten was used that is still showing signs of contamination. The bottom line is that the contaminated gluten is still showing up in the food supply several months after the story first broke.

The American Meat Institute thinks we should all just shut up and eat what ever they damn well want to give us. In a letter sent to Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Herb Kohl, who both chair Agriculture subcommittees at the Food and Drug Administration, the AMI states, “"Unfortunately, some groups have public policy positions supporting mandatory county-of-origin labeling for red meat that are solely for the purpose of erecting trade barriers, especially directed at Canada and Mexico - our two largest export markets for red meat."

"The claims made in that letter are irresponsible at worst and at best misleading - with respect to the handling and inspection of imported meat products," said Boyle. "To assert that any country-of-origin labeling regime would have an impact on food safety or the integrity of a food product is absurd."

So, we once again see an instance where a special interest group that works for big business really doesn’t give a damn about the safety and health of their customers. Screw you, AMI. It’s groups like yours that make me realize I made the right decision when I became a vegetarian 10 years ago.

We are slowly being poisoned, have been for decades, by big agri-business. The purpose of this mass murder is profit, culling of the human race and the maintenance of control over the masses (you and me).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The War on Terror, post Memorial Day

On the heels of a Memorial Day that has left 8 American soldiers dead in Iraq, this would be a good time to compare the operational and political methods that al-Qaeda used in 2001 and where they stood as an organization at that time to where they are today in 2007. A review of where things stand at this point in time, a "snapshot" as our President would say, can be illuminating. The information in this posting has come from various independant government reports that are freely available on the web, reports from journalists who have specialized in al-Qaeda and various books written about the organization over the last 10 years.

In 2001, al-Qaeda was organized under a strict hierarchical design. The planning , financing, leadership and operational responsibilities were centralized at the top level, with regional Lieutenants working under close supervision of the Captains of bin Laden. Training en mass was confined to Afghanistan with graduates of these training programs being sent to a handful of regions around the world without orders to train others. Instead they were sent to these places to carry out the technical aspects of their missions with support of locally recruited sympathizers who acted as soldiers.

The organization was considered outside the mainstream to Muslims in the African, Arabic and Persian cultures. Recruits for soldiers were targeted in the most susceptible environments of poverty and chaos. Recruits for positions as Lieutenants came from extremists backgrounds who had skills and educational backgrounds that could be exploited from bin Laden’s Captains. The Captains were long-term mercenaries of the Jihadist movements and virtually all shared experience in combat against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan or as covert militants in nations such as Egypt. Most of the Captains had exposure to CIA training or methods of operation that had been learned from CIA operators.

Their financial support was derived from bin Laden’s personal fortune and supplemented by running a variety of bogus religious charities worldwide, including a presence inside the US. This fund raising was apparently too small or too well run to bring attention to US authorities as this network was not exposed until well after the 9/11 attacks had occurred. They were politically marginalized, finding their only state support from governments that operated outside accepted channels of the world political stage. Sanctuary could only be found in nations of utter chaos such as Yemen and Ethiopia or a nation which rejected all norms of society and operated in it’s own bubble, as they found shelter in the Taliban government of Afghanistan.

Their strategic capabilities were severely limited although they did display an uncanny ability to organize attacks in a methodical, clockwork process. Their primary and only method of attacks were the use of bombs even though they were researching and experimenting with the use of non-conventional weapons such as poison gas. Their MO involved car bombings of buildings, vest explosive type suicide bombers and an interest in using civil aviation as a tool. The only members who had combat skills were the Captains. They had no understanding of the tactics, weapons and methods used by armed forces and no knowledge of those same subjects in how they were used by the US military.

Now, in 2007, they have altered this entire overview of their organization. Some of this was forced as Captains and Lieutenants were captured or killed, the majority appears to have been a conscious effort on their part to evolve and adapt in response to the changing environment in which they operate.

The organization is no longer operating in a rigid hierarchical structure. The planning , financing, leadership and operational responsibilities have moved away from the top down approach and it is now comprised of regional leaders who operate as independent Captains that are interconnected with one another and receive support from the top echelons of their chain of command. Regional Captains are now have autonomy. The Lieutenants now carry out the commands of the Captains, which allows them more freedom to train others, plan and lead attacks as well as creating operational relationships with sympathetic groups.

The organization is now mainstream in not only the African, Arabic and Persian cultures, it is now gaining the sympathy and empathy of Muslims residing in the First World countries of western Europe and the Americas. Soldiers once had to be recruited among the vulnerable populations using methods related to mind control and conditioning, now the organization has educated and intelligent sympathizers coming to them for membership. al-Qaeda can now pick and choose among candidates and a wider range of skills and academic backgrounds have integrated into their toolbox.

Financial support is much easier to gather, from a wider source of contributors, with a greater pool of wealth to draw upon. The actions of the current administration have forced even the polemic moderates around the world to condemn American actions, if not sympathize with the goals of al-Qaeda.

Their strategic resources have expanded, deepened and become very advanced. Combat experience has been gained as well as and understanding of how to adapt in crisis. Their chain of command appears to be robust with experienced and capable leaders able to rise as various managers and leaders are killed or captured. The entire organization appears to have evolved to a point where it is self-healing and adaptable. Their combat against US forces have given them an enormous boost in the arts of gathering, analyzing, classifying and disseminating intelligence gathered from combat missions. It also has given them real-world skills at being able to create, implement and evolve strategy based on that intelligence based on the activities seen in Iraq.

Instead of decapitating the leadership of the organization, instilling feelings of defeat and the sense of facing an unbeatable force as the war in Afghanistan began; the current administration shadow boxed with the top levels of power in the organization and brought a meager sized force to the theater of operations. While al-Qaeda was dealt a small blow at the onset and the Taliban was utterly defeated by 2003, the war in Iraq gave them a chance to regroup and prioritize their movements. al-Qaeda has since grown and become a more well defined organization and now even the Taliban have not only re-emerged but are now threatening to regain control of not only Afghanistan but possibly expand in Pakistan.

al-Qaeda operates freely in Iraq, many north and east African nations, is fortifying cells in Afghanistan and now have another government sponsored safe haven in the area of western Pakistan. The sub-Asian regions where they are actively hunted are still active and now they have created relationships with Sunni and Shiite militias that would have been unthinkable even two years ago.

The way this organization has grown and survived over the past 6 years, in spite of two declared war fronts and an undeclared front in southern Pacific nations, one cannot help but wonder if the abject failure of this administration to contain the organization is because of incompetence, or an intentional act. Following the fall of the Soviet Union the US had no clear-cut and terrifying enemy with which to base it’s military strengths and budget against. The War on Terror has seen a massive increase in defense spending and the usual suspects are the ones who have made a financial killing. Should we view the War on Terror and al-Qaeda’s growth as being a symbiotic creature, with one sustaining the growth of the other?