Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Plus or Minus 95%

I’ve been hearing the number 36,000 a lot lately.

I heard it on the radio during a “news update” on the pending swine flu pandemic. I read about it in a recent news story on the same topic.

36,000 is the number of annual U.S. deaths attributed to be caused by influenza.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard that number. Several months ago I was having a conversation with my mom and the topic of the flu – and the number of deaths from it per year – came up.

She asked me if I have ever known anyone who had died of the flu.

I admitted I hadn’t.

She asked me if I thought that was odd. She then told me that during the Vietnam War, just about everyone had some sort of personal acquaintance with a soldier who had died there. A relative, a friend, a friend’s son, a kid that went to your church, a classmate; regardless of what it was, just about everyone had some sort of connection with a soldier who had been killed in Vietnam.

That was a war that lasted 10 years and resulted in around 57,000 U.S. dead. With the flu, we’re talking about 36,000 deaths every single year. What are the odds that I wouldn’t have some sort of a connection with somebody who had died from the flu at some point during my lifetime?

She also pointed out that in over 20 years as an RN working in Intensive Care Units at hospitals in several different states, she could not recall a single death from influenza.

So when I started hearing this number “36,000” again recently, I decided to do a little digging.

The first place I went was to the CDC website (, which is, according to their tagline, “Your Online Source for Credible Health Information.”

Sure enough, there it was: CDC estimated that about 36,000 people died of flu-related causes each year, on average, during the 1990s in the United States. (Source)

But there was also this little statement in the document as well: Flu-related deaths are deaths that occur in people for whom influenza infection was likely a contributor to the cause of death, but not necessarily the primary cause of death.

“Not necessarily the primary cause of death”? Isn’t that essentially the same thing as “not the cause of death”?

It also goes on to say that, Flu is a serious disease that causes illness and deaths nearly every year in the United States.

"Nearly every year"? What the heck does that mean?

Curious – and now a little suspicious as well – I dug a little deeper and found a document that listed the leading causes of death for 2005 and found the following information:

2005 Leading Causes of Death
· Heart disease: 652,091
· Cancer: 559,312
· Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 143,579
· Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 130,933
· Accidents (unintentional injuries): 117,809
· Diabetes: 75,119
· Alzheimer's disease: 71,599
· Influenza/Pneumonia: 63,001
· Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 43,901
· Septicemia: 34,136
· Suicide: 32,637
· Chronic Liver Disease & cirrhosis: 27,530
· Renal Diseases: 24,902
· Parkinsons Disease: 19,544
· Homicide: 18,124
· All others: 433,800

(Total number of deaths: 2,448,017)

Okay, we’re grouping Influenza and Pneumonia together now. Not sure why, but okay. Still, it should be safe to assume that since we have already been told that Influenza accounts for 36,000 deaths, Pneumonia would account for the other 27,001, right? After all, these aren’t conflicting sources; it’s all from the CDC.

A little more digging, however, led me to the “Final Data for 2005”. It even has the CDC logo right on the top of the page. If you scroll down to Table 10 on page 33, you’ll see the breakdown of deaths from Influenza and Pneumonia:

Influenza: 1,812
Pneumonia 61,189

Isn’t that interesting? What happened to 36,000?

Even more interesting is when you take a look at the demographic breakdown. If you do, you’ll find that of the 1,812 people who died from Influenza, 80% of them were 75 or older.

To be honest, I already knew that people died when they got old, but I didn’t realize until now that the CDC will provide estimates that are plus/minus 95% accurate, which I guess is the government equivalent to “pretty good shootin’”.

Maybe the CDC should change their tagline to “Your Online Source of Incredible Health Information”.

Did you know?: During the 1976 Swine Flu scare, only 1 person actually died from the flu, but 25 died from the vaccinations given to prevent it. (Source)

Only Human

If you’ve never heard of the term “corporate personhood” before, don’t feel bad. It’s not something that is splashed all over the news or taught as part of your average school curriculum. I had never heard the term myself until just a few years ago, and I worked for a corporation for years.

When I did hear it – and learned what it was – I was amazed.

Corporate personhood is the concept that corporations were intended to fully enjoy the legal status and protections created for human beings. In other words, in the eyes of the law, there is no difference between you and General Electric. Or Microsoft. Or Monsanto.

Below is a great article that explains corporate personhood in much more depth if you have the time & desire to read it.

Abolish Corporate Personhood

If not, below is an excerpt from the article that pretty much puts it into its proper perspective:

It is important to remember what a corporation is to understand the implications of corporate personhood for democracy. A corporation is not a real thing; it's a legal fiction, an abstraction.

You can't see or hear or touch or smell a corporation - it's just an idea that people agree to and put into writing. Because legal personhood has been conferred upon an abstraction that can be redefined at will under the law, corporations have become superhumans in our world.

A corporation can live forever. It can change its identity in a day. It can cut off parts of itself - even its head - and actually function better than before. It can also cut off parts of itself and from those parts grow new selves. It can own others of its own kind and it can merge with others of its own kind.

It doesn't need fresh air to breathe or clean water to drink or safe food to eat. It doesn't fear illness or death. It can have simultaneous residence in many different nations. It's not male, female, or even transgendered. Without giving birth it can create children and even parents.

If it's found guilty of a crime, it cannot go to prison.

I would add that it also cannot feel pain, remorse, or compassion. It is incapable of love, has no conscience, and is entirely devoid of any inherent sense of morality or ethics. It does not have the ability to discern good from evil.

And, of course, it really doesn’t care that it can’t do any of that.

There is, in fact, only one thing that a corporation does care about: its own well-being. And despite all of the things that it doesn’t need, there is one thing that is absolutely essential for it’s survival: money.

It must have a continuous – and ever increasing – supply of money in order to “live”.

And since it gets that ever increasing supply of money from us, it is absolutely essential to it’s survival that we consume what it creates – in ever increasing amounts – in order to feed it. That’s why we are called “consumers”, after all, and we’ve done our job well; to the point of going into massive personal (and governmental) debt in order to let nothing interfere with our rate of consumption.

But now imagine what would happen if one of these lifeless, soulless, unfeeling entities saw its very existence threatened; its “food supply” dwindling. To what lengths might it go to ensure its own survival, especially knowing that it can’t go to jail?

Would anything really be out of the question?

Monday, April 27, 2009

"How Scared Should We Be?"

That question is taken from the article Swine Flu: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Outbreak. Not only is it from the article, it is actually one of the 5 things that we apparently “need to know”.

Step back from this for just a second and think about that question. Have we become so dependant that we can’t even think for ourselves anymore? Do we really need someone else to not only tell us when we should be scared, but to actually tell us how scared we should be?

Now that's scary.

Here’s a question for you: If we’re no longer capable of determining our own actions and emotions, is there really any difference between us and a computer? After all, they also need someone to tell them what to do because they can’t think for themselves either (well, for now anyway).

Maybe I should go ahead and get “Dell” tattooed on my arm. I sure wish somebody would tell me if that’s okay.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ask Your Doctor if ________ is Right for You

(I normally don’t post twice in one day, but this seemed a natural tie-in with my post from earlier today).

From Vioxx maker Merck and Co drew up doctor hit list:
Staff at US company Merck &Co emailed each other about the list of doctors - mainly researchers and academics - who had been negative about the drug Vioxx or Merck and a recommended course of action.

The email, which came out in the Federal Court in Melbourne yesterday as part of a class action against the drug company, included the words "neutralise", "neutralised" or "discredit" against some of the doctors' names.

It is also alleged the company used intimidation tactics against critical researchers, including dropping hints it would stop funding to institutions and claims it interfered with academic appointments.

"We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live," a Merck employee wrote, according to an email excerpt read to the court by Julian Burnside QC, acting for the plaintiff.

Well, if that doesn’t sound like a benevolent organization looking out for the health & welfare of people everywhere then I just don’t know what does. Is there any reason to suspect that the other members of the “Brotherhood of Big Pharma” behave any differently?

When you have a company like this that manufactures the vaccines we pump into our children & babies (which they apparently don’t do very well either: FDA warns Merck to clean up vaccine plant), is it any wonder that some people may choose not to trust their products or to believe the drivel that constantly spews from their PR department?

Here is an excellent article on the topic of vaccines: The Judgment on Vaccines is In???

FYI - If you're interested, below is a list of vaccines that Merck manufactures:

Hepatitus A
Hepatitus B
MMRII (measles, mumps, rubella)**

**made with fetal cells from aborted babies

The Importance of Being Compliant

(my apologies to Oscar Wilde on the title of this post)

An article published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution back in February just caught my attention this morning. Below is the opening sentence from More Atlanta-area kids get shots after crackdown at schools:

Five months into the school year and fearing bad publicity, Atlanta Public Schools kicked 105 students out of class on Jan. 30 for failing to get vaccinations they should have had on Day One, documents show.

Interesting. So they kick the unvaccinated kids out of school. Does that strike anyone else but me as odd? Apparently this was done in the name of “safety” if the tagline SPOTLIGHT: WATCHING OUT FOR YOUR SAFETY AND POCKETBOOK posted above the article’s title is to be believed.

But that doesn’t make any sense. All of the students that were allowed to remain in school have dutifully received their vaccinations; they should have nothing to worry about, right? So if kicking out the unvaccinated children wasn’t done for the “safety” of the others, then what was it done for?

Later in the article comes this statement:
“I think the positive part of this is that all the principals, as well as the public school superintendents, now understand the importance of compliance,” said Juliet Cooper, nursing director at the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness.

Ah. There it is: compliance. Now I understand.

- excerpts from the novel “What So Proudly We Hailed”:

Girls were immunized for HPV and began getting pap smears every year starting in grade school. Everybody got at least one flu vaccine a year for whatever happened to be the biggest threat to the population at that moment, and the number of vaccinations in general required for children tripled by 2017 as new vaccines were developed for diseases that nobody had even heard of ten years before.

If you were 18 or older, you were also required to donate two pints of blood a year for the national blood bank (in addition to the increased need for the expanded healthcare system, there was still a war going on too, don’t forget).

The hospitals were numerous and clean, the nurses would always smile as they herded you through from station to station, and the doctors would all nod their heads as you answered their questions. It seemed the same as before, and yet, there was a definite underlying current that everyone seemed to pick up on even thought we were all afraid to say anything about it. A negativity that you could literally feel. Because even thought the smiles were the same as before, there was now an unspoken message that was as plain and blunt and non-negotiable as it was taboo to even mention: Shut up and take your medicine.

So we did.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The (One Hundred and Eighty) 3rd Time’s the Charm

One of the details that has come out of the recently released White House “torture” memos is the revelation that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (still in U.S. custody) was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 (which works out to an average of 6 times a day – every day – for the entire month).

Forget for a moment that this in itself is probably the best evidence you could ever put forth if you were trying to prove the complete ineffectiveness of waterboarding. What is even more insane to me is the kind of rationale that would have ever considered it to be a good idea in the first place. I mean, how does this conversation go?

CIA Interrogator #1: “Well, that was disappointing.”

CIA Interrogator #2: “Sure was. I really thought we had him that time.”

CIA #1: - - heavy sigh - -

CIA #2: “So, what do you say? One more time? It’d really be a shame to stop now after 182 only to find out later that the next one would’ve been the mother lode.”

CIA #1: [nodding] “Yeah. Yeah, I think you’re right. One more might just do the trick."

Nothing says “Home of the Brave” like torture.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Brainwashing 101

Question: How do you get someone to believe a lie?
Answer: Keep telling it to them over and over again.

Don’t believe it? Then answer this: What document does the term “separation of church and state” come from? If you said the U.S. Constitution, you’re wrong. Nowhere in the Constitution or any of the amendments can the phrase “separation of church and state” be found.

So where does that phrase come from? It comes from an interpretation of the First Amendment which was then repeated again and again through the years until it became accepted as truth. Here’s what the First Amendment actually says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Not quite the same thing, is it? But while the guidelines in the First Amendment are very specific and finite in scope, the catch-all term “separation of church and state” can be applied on a much broader scale. And that can come in real handy for enterprising minds who might wish to apply it on a much broader scale.

When our minds are continually bombarded with something over and over, we eventually becomes desensitized to it. We stop questioning it. We accept it as fact; as “normal”.

And it makes no difference what it is that we are subjected to either. No matter how shocking, how vulgar, how blatantly false it may be to us initially; if we are hit with it again and again and again, it eventually – over time – becomes normal and inoffensive and true.

That my friends, is what you call brainwashing.

I read an interesting (and at this point, still shocking and vulgar) article this morning called: UMass faculty member argues for human cloning

You can read the whole thing if you like, but I would simply direct your attention to this one quote from the article:

Eddon acknowledged that the thought of human cloning is probably disturbing to most. But the “gut feeling” that cloning is immoral may be erased with exposure to it.

I agree with that statement. It might take awhile, but eventually, if we as a society continue to be subjected to the concept over and over again, it will take.

Ask yourself why you believe the things that you do. There’s lots to choose from: Evolution. Global warming. Terrorism. Food. Nutrition. Medicine. Insurance.

Regardless of what your views are on those topics – or any others – do you believe what you do about them because you gave them independent thought, study, and investigation yourself? Or do you believe what you do because it was told to you by someone else?

and over,
and over,
and over . . . .

Friday, April 17, 2009

Here There Be Monsters (Reprise)

'I have pressed the first lever,' said O'Brien. 'You understand the construction of this cage. The mask will fit over your head, leaving no exit. When I press this other lever, the door of the cage will slide up. These starving brutes will shoot out of it like bullets. Have you ever seen a rat leap through the air? They will leap on to your face and bore straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes first. Sometimes they burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue.'

The cage was nearer; it was closing in. Winston heard a succession of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in the air above his head. But he fought furiously against his panic. To think, to think, even with a split second left -- to think was the only hope. Suddenly the foul musty odour of the brutes struck his nostrils. There was a violent convulsion of nausea inside him, and he almost lost consciousness. Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane, a screaming animal. - excerpts from “1984”, by George Orwell

Justice Department lawyers said the CIA could place [Abu] Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box. Because Zubaydah appeared afraid of insects, they also authorized interrogators to place him in a box and fill it with caterpillars (that tactic ultimately was not used). - CIA interrogation tactics: a terrifying ordeal

Funny what things become acceptable to a nation of people when they blindly believe that they are the “good guys”. It makes no difference who you are - or who you once were; the moment you descend into evil, you become evil yourself.

The flag of the United States – and everything it stood for – is burning.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Roots" - Alex Haley

Although I had seen most of the TV mini-series back in the 70’s, I’d never actually read the book that started it all, and memories being hazy things, I couldn’t really remember the story. Reading Roots was a reminder of why this book was such a phenomenon when it came out.

Other than being a well-written, interesting, and moving story, there were several things about the book that made a notable impression on me.

First, was the amount of time at the beginning of the story that Haley devoted to Kunta Kinte’s life growing up in Africa. You know what’s eventually going to happen to him, but it took a lot longer to get to than I thought it would. Haley purposely makes you spend a lot of time with Kunta as he grows from a boy into a man, and I noticed that I became very interested in this boy and his life just as it was. Knowing the inevitable was coming, each page got harder and harder to turn, and I started wishing that Kunta would just be able to continue living out his life in his village with the people & the customs that he knew. Of course, that wasn’t his fate, and just when you get to the point where you begin to think that everything will be okay, you reach the page that changes everything for him.

Secondly, I was impressed with the tone of the book. There was no malice, anger, or agenda in Haley’s writing. He wasn’t trying to make a statement or pass judgment; he was simply telling a story about his ancestors, and that is exactly how the story is presented. I thought he was very fair and impartial in his depictions of everyone in the story, white and black. I don’t know how accurate his descriptions & depictions were, but they certainly seemed real; not contrived or sensationalized.

Third, were the abrupt changes that occurred in the story. As an example, for 600 pages or so the story focuses almost exclusively on Kunta, and then suddenly – without warning – you leave him behind while the story takes another path. You never hear another word about him. You never find out his ultimate fate. You are left instead to simply wonder, just as his daughter did. I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of loss.

Finally, as Haley brings the generations of the story up to his own life, he relates how, during his research on the book, he was able to track down the actual village in Africa where his ancestor Kunta had lived before his abduction. Kunta was still very much a part of the village’s oral ancestral history, and there was a very moving moment when Haley relates what happened when the people of the village came to realize that he was one of the descendants of Kunta Kinte, this young 17-year old boy who vanished without a trace one day hundreds of years before.

In the end, Roots isn’t really a story about slavery; it’s a story about human beings, the things that we do to each other, and how those things shape every generation to come. I highly recommend it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blaine's 30 Step Guide to Pretty Good Livin'

1) Get out of debt. All debt.
- Do whatever you can to pay off your home, or sell it and buy one that you can pay off.
- Pay off your car(s) and drive them until the wheels fall off. All a car does is move you from point “A” to point “B”; anything & everything else about it is worthless.
- Cut up your ATM card. You don’t need it.
- Get rid of all but one credit card. Pay it off every month; revolving debt will kill you.

2) Cancel your TV cable or satellite. It’s a propaganda machine that’s rotting your brain. I am absolutely serious. Watch movies from Netflix or get them free from the library.

3) Cancel your home internet service. You can surf at work during off hours if you need to (and you do anyway); don’t waste your time or money doing it from home.

4) Realize that your integrity is one of the few things that can never be taken from you. Your house, your car, your belongings, your children, your spouse – even your life – can all be taken from you in a variety of ways. No one can take your integrity away from you without your consent. Don’t give it, sell it, or barter it.

5) Stop trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’. You’ll never catch them, and they’re jerks anyway.

6) Find something you love to do and do it. One half of your waking life is spent at work; you better like what you do, where you do it, and who you do it with.

7) Stop shopping at Wal-Mart.

8) Get rid of your cell phone. I’m sorry, but you’re not important and you have nothing important to say. Important people don’t have cell phones anymore; they have people like you make their calls for them. Be important. Chunk it.

9) Live below the poverty line. Not only will you never have to pay any state or federal income taxes at all, but you will probably get a substantial “refund” even though you didn’t withhold any money from your paycheck in the first place. If you are debt free, have no mortgage or car payments, and you aren’t wasting your money on TV, internet, & cell phones, you can live very well on less than $20k a year.

10) Stop eating at Ruth’s Cris, Emeril’s, and other “high-end” restaurants. The emperor has no clothes.

11) Quit working for any large corporation. You are nothing more than a line on a spreadsheet that will be deleted without any qualms at all if it will “help the bottom line”. It’s not a question of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.

12) Stop drinking “diet” soda. Instead, sprinkle some aspartame around ants and watch them die. Then ask yourself why you eat it and feed it to your children. A spoonful of real sugar has only 15 calories and doesn’t kill anything if it’s consumed.

13) Stop drinking soda period.

14) Start researching the theory of evolution for yourself and watch it fall apart in your hands. You have time to do this now because you’re not wasting your life sitting in front of the TV.

15) Throw out every food item in your home that contains HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and see what you have left.

16) Use real butter.

17) Read.

18) Understand that the odds of your home being completely destroyed are very low and then drop the insurance on your home (which you can do if you own it outright). Realize that if it is destroyed you can simply start over.

19) Drop any other insurance that you can. It’s a rip-off.

20) Accept the fact that you are mortal and will die.

21) Get out of stocks, 401(k)’s, money market funds, and all other “virtual” wealth. It’s “virtually” worthless (as many people are now finding out). If you want to invest, invest in things that will always be valuable; guns, land, gold, etc.

22) Do something really nice for someone without any strings attached and without letting them know who did it. See how that makes you feel. Decide whether you want to feel that way more often.

23) Don’t promise more than you can deliver; always deliver more than you promised.

24) If you are a man, love your wife. If you are a woman, respect your husband. Do it unconditionally, even when they don’t deserve it.

25) Understand that the lives you touch are the only legacy you will ever leave. Think about what you are leaving behind and ask yourself if you are satisfied with it. If not, start doing something about it.

26) Pray for the people you love. Pray more for the people you don’t.

27) Seriously ask yourself if you could live – as in “exist” – without a car. Without access to a bank. Without electricity. Understand that if you can't answer "yes" to those questions, you are subservient, not independent. It’s always illuminating to know where you fit into the grand scheme of things.

28) Stop drinking alcohol. If your life is really that good, why do you feel the need to experience it through the veil of an alcoholic haze? If it’s not that good, why do you keep living it the same way? If you can’t enjoy yourself when you’re stone-cold sober, realize that something is wrong. Fix it.

29) I wasn’t kidding about the cell phone. It’s nothing more than a leash. YOU DON’T NEED IT.

30) Treat everyone in your life as if it’s the last time you will ever see them, because one of these days, it will be.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Amortals Among Us

The March 23 issue of Time magazine included a list of “10 Ideas that are Changing the World”. The list ran the gamut from such ground-breaking concepts as the #1 listed “Jobs are the New Assets” (i.e., you make money from working – insert collective “ahhhhh” here) to more disturbing things like #8 “Biobanks” (facilities that collect and store blood & tissue samples from as many people as possible so that they may be available for use in unrestricted scientific research).


Also included in the list at #5 was something entitled “Amortality”. You read that right; not "immortality", but "amortality". What does that mean? Here are some selected passages from the article:

[Amortality] is about more than just the ripple effect of baby boomers’ resisting the onset of age. Amortality is a stranger, stronger alchemy, created by the intersection of that trend with a massive increase in life expectancy and a deep decline in the influence of organized religion – all viewed through the blue haze of Viagra.

The defining characteristic of amortality is to live in the same way, at the same pitch, doing the same things, from late teens right up until death.

Amortals don’t just dread extinction. They deny it.

“We are in serious striking distance of stopping aging,” says De Grey, founder and chairman of the Methuselah Foundation . . .

It is “bleeding obvious,” he adds, that it is possible to extend the human life span indefinitely. “Most people take the view that aging is this natural thing that is going on independently of disease. That’s nonsense”.

To sum it all up then, to be “amortal” is to be Peter Pan: To refuse to grow up; to pretend you will never die; to believe that science will save you; and to make no plans for – and indeed, to deny completely – your own eventual demise.

How sad. And yet, how entirely predictable if we’d given it any forethought.

We have taken God out of our society and our culture, which means - by logical default - that we have created a godless society and a godless culture. Is that really what we wanted?

Put it this way: When you hear the term “godless society”, what do you think of?

Do you think of things like utopia, happiness, fulfillment, and light?
Or do other words come to mind, like mayhem, pain, hopelessness, and darkness? "Godlessness” is, by definition, “evil and wicked”.

Funny that we would ever want to create a world like that. Funny too, that once we created it, we would then have the desire to live in it forever.

Sorry, but I’ll pass.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What's in Your Vaccine?

As if there weren’t enough reasons already not to trust vaccines:

WARSAW (AFP) – Nine health workers went on trial in northern Poland Monday accused of having tested a vaccine against bird flu on nearly 200 patients without their knowledge, court officials said.

The accused -- three doctors and six nurses -- are charged with "fraud, creating false documents and delivering health care without authorisation" to 196 patients, judge Piotr Szadkowski of the Torun region told AFP.

If found guilty, they risk up to 10 years in jail.

All nine accused, some reportedly clad in wigs and sun glasses to avoid being identified, pleaded not guilty.

The medical personnel are charged with administering a vaccine banned in Poland against the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu that can be transmitted to humans.

The patients were paid for the vaccines, Polish news agency PAP reported.

They allegedly led their patients, many of them poor and homeless, to believe they were being vaccinated against ordinary flu.

Police discovered the scam by chance when they were called to break up a fight at a homeless shelter, PAP said.

Source: Health workers on trial for vaccine scam in Poland

What they don’t mention in the story above is that 21 of the homeless volunteers died in the test, a number which is – interestingly – quoted as being “well above the average of eight”. (Nice to know that we have collected enough data on vaccine testing to know what the “average” number of fatalities will be!). Don’t feel too bad though; they did get paid prior to being killed:

Homeless people die after bird flu vaccine trial in Poland

I sure am glad to know that this kind of thing could never happen in the United States!

What a relief to know that our government institutions, corporate entities, and culture in general are all grounded in clear set of ethics, morals, and integrity. Whew!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Above the Law - Update

Last week I made a post entitled “Above the Law” in which I questioned two very disturbing events. I’m happy to say that the second one – a planned “seatbelt checkpoint” in Tennessee involving police, the U.S. Military, and the Department of Homeland Security – was cancelled after the governor's office was questioned about it:

In response to a number of calls to the Tennessee Governor’s office, the Whiteville, Tennessee police have canceled a planned seat belt checkpoint operation that was to be conducted in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and the 251st Military Police in Bolivar, Tennessee.

Keith Sherley of 101.5 FM in Jackson, Tennessee, interviewed Representative Johhny Shaw earlier today. Shaw indicated Governor Phil Bredesen “didn’t need another headache” and canceled the checkpoint. Shaw, who represents the area in Tennessee where the exercise was to be held, admitted the checkpoint was a “bad idea in the first place.” Shaw voiced his opposition to military involvement with local law enforcement. “It would have frightened more people than it helped,” Shaw added. He said he did not think the operation would be rescheduled.

The fact that this was shut down after only a small amount of public scrutiny & questioning strongly implies that it would not have held up to any sort of legal inquiry, nor would whatever justification used for doing it prove to have any merit.

I think it’s also safe to say that the authorities in charge were well aware of that. Why else would they be so quick to pull the plug?

And yet, while it certainly makes me feel better to know that this “operation” was cancelled, the question of why it was planned in the first place is still left completely unanswered.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Above the Law

If you have any concern whatsoever about the United States, your family, or your freedoms, I urge you to go to the below link and watch the embedded video. It’s only 9 minutes long. I wouldn't ask if it weren't worth spending the time.

Please put your politics aside for this 9 minutes. Forget about Republicans and Democrats. Forget that this video is from Fox News. Forget the commentary on the video if you like. Just pay attention to the taped conversation that occurred between a detained man and the TSA authorities who were interrogating him.

Man detained and harassed at airport for carrying CASH!

Did this man do anything wrong? Was he rude or belligerent? Is it a crime now to carry cash, even if it is $4,700? Does this have anything to do with airport safety or protecting American citizens? Do government agencies have the right to pry into any area of our lives that they want, even if there is no legal justification for doing so? Are the “authorities” not required to provided answers regarding the legality of their own actions?

This is not conspiracy theory, folks. It’s not paranoia. And it’s not an isolated incident. Abuse of government mandated power is happening in this country everyday, everywhere. Below is yet another news item (just from today) that illustrates a similar disturbing show of force:

DHS, Military Police, Law Enforcement Plan Checkpoint in Tennessee

This is for a seatbelt checkpoint in Tennessee. Why does the Department of Homeland Security need to be involved in a seatbelt checkpoint in any way, even if only as “observers”? And what about the military? Forget that it’s illegal for the military to be used in this way in the first place, why would they need to be involved at all? It’s a seatbelt checkpoint. Or is it?

Why are these things happening?
Who gains from them?
What is the motive behind them?
And most importantly, to what end are they leading us?

Is the world of tomorrow one where we should be expected to divulge information about any and every aspect of our lives to anyone wearing a badge, simply because they want to know? Should we come to expect more and more “checkpoints” in the future? Perhaps even ones that are wholly administered by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Military?

Lots of questions. Few answers. One really bad feeling.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In The Beginning

What do you think of when you read the series of statements below?:

1) A government rounds up people that it has deemed to be “undesirable”

2) These undesirable people are forced to produce papers proving who they are and where they are from

3) The undesirables are then catalogued, separated into different groups, and given a highly visible marking which reflects their final disposition

4) The undesirable people are then “processed” according to a predetermined fate selected for them by the government

If you’re like most people, you probably didn’t have to read through all 4 of those statements before visions of Swastikas, death camps, and smoke belching chimneys came to your mind. It is an accurate description of what occurred in Nazi Germany.

The problem is, this isn’t Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, this is Ontario today:

'Ontario Residents Only' at Tent City
Dozens of Ontario police and code enforcement officers descended upon the homeless encampment known as Tent City early Monday, separating those who could stay from those to be evicted.

Large, often confused, crowds formed ragged lines behind police barricades where officers handed out color-coded wristbands. Blue meant they were from Ontario and could remain. Orange indicated they had to provide more proof to avoid ejection, and white meant they had a week to leave.

Many who had taken shelter at the camp -- which had grown from 20 to more than 400 residents in nine months -- lacked paperwork, bills or birth certificates proving they were once Ontario residents.

"When my husband gets out of jail he can bring my marriage certificate; will that count?" asked one tearful woman.

Another resident, clearly confused, seemed relieved to get a white band -- not understanding it meant she had to leave.

Pattie Barnes, 47, who had her motor home towed away last week, shook with anger.

"They are tagging us because we are homeless," she said, staring at her orange wristband. "It feels like a concentration camp."

Ontario officials, citing health and safety issues, say it is necessary to thin out Tent City. The move to dramatically reduce the population curtails an experiment begun last year to provide a city-approved camp where homeless people would not be harassed.
Read Entire Article

Granted, we’re talking about homeless people, not Jews & Gypsies.
Granted, they are only being marked with wristbands, not tattoos.
Granted, they are only being removed, not exterminated.

I’ll grant you all that. But those 4 statements above still apply in their entirety.

I’m not saying that this is the same thing – because it’s not – but you have to admit, the similarities are disturbingly close. I also understand the justification for doing it; after all, it sure seems to be in the best interests of everyone.

But then again, I’m sure the German people thought the same thing over 70 years ago.

At least in the beginning.