Saturday, April 24, 2010

Looting Main Street (and you too!)

Some Articles on Wall Street, the Federal Government, & You:

The Sickening Abuse Of Power At The Heart of Wall Street

Posted: 24 Apr 2010 12:02 PM PDT
By Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers

Here’s where we stand with regard to democratic discourse on the future our financial system: leading bankers will not come out to debate the issues in the open (despite being approached by reputable intermediaries after our polite challenge was issued) – sending instead their “astro turf” proxies to spread KGB-type disinformation.

Even Larry Summers [after watching the video at the link to the left, are you thinking this is someone you would like to trust?], who has shifted publicly onto the side the angels (surprising and rather late, but welcome anyway), cannot – for whatever reason – bring himself to recognize the dangers inherent in our unstable and too-big-to-manage banks.  Or perhaps he is just generating excuses that will justify not bringing the Brown-Kaufman amendment to the floor of Senate?

So let’s take it up a notch.

I strongly recommend that the responsible congressional committees request and require all assistant secretaries at the US Treasury (and other relevant political appointees over whom they have jurisdiction) to appear before them early next week.

The question will be simple: Please share your calendar of meetings this weekend, and provide us with a complete accounting of people with whom you met and conversed formally and informally. 

The finance ministers and central bank governors of the world are in Washington this weekend for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund.  As is usual, the world’s megabanks are also in town in force, organizing big meetings and small dinners.

Through these meetings dutifully troop US treasury officials, providing in-depth and off-the-record briefings to investors.

Banks such as JP Morgan Chase and the other top tier financial players thus peddle influence, leverage their access, and generally show off.  They accumulate information from a host of official contacts and discern which way policymakers – their “good friends” – are leaning.

And what is the megabank whisper mill working on?  Ignore the “economic research” papers these banks put out; that is pure pantomime for clients-to-be-duped-later.  I’m talking about what they are telling the market – communicated in specific, personal conversations this weekend.

They are telling people that, based on their inside knowledge, Greece and potentially other eurozone countries will default on their debt.  Perhaps they are telling the truth and perhaps they are lying.  Most likely they are – as always – talking their book.

But the question is not the substance of their whisper campaign this weekend, it is the flow of information.  Have they received material non-public information from US government officials?  Show me the calendar of the top 10 treasury people involved, and then we can talk about whom to summon from the private sector to testify – under oath – about what they were told or not told.

There is no question that the megabanks derive great power and enormous profit from their web of official contacts.  We should reflect carefully on whether such private flows of information between governments and “too big to fail” banks are entirely suitable in today’s unstable financial world.

Large global banks make money, in part, through nontransparent manipulation of information – this is the heart of the SEC charges against Goldman Sachs.  But the problem is much broader: the Wall Street-Washington corridor is alive and well on its way to another crisis that will empower, enrich, and embolden insiders (public and private) while impoverishing the rest of us.

The big players on Wall Street are powerful like never before – and they use this power to press for information and favors from sympathetic (or scared) government officials.  The big banks also appear hell-bent on abusing that power.  One consequence will be further destabilizing global financial markets – watch carefully what happens to Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain at the beginning of next week. 

It is time for Congress to step in with a full investigation of the exact flow of information and advice between our major megabanks and key treasury officials.  Start by asking tough questions about exactly who exchanged what kind of specific, material, market-moving information with whom this weekend in Washington.

[Please go to Baseline Scenario for the many informative links.

Also see other good posts on regulation of Wall Street at Baseline Scenario:

Greek Bailout, Lehman Deceit, And Tim Geithner

Break Up The Banks

John Paulson Needs A Good Lawyer

The Best Thing I Have Read on SEC-Goldman (So Far)

And search their posts for other info.
Other links:

Looting Main Street

Merkley amendment to ban conflict of interest trading by banks (PROP Trading Act)

U.S. charges Goldman with subprime fraud

American Kleptocracy

What’s Wrong with the Financial Reform Bill

Dylan Ratigan Mocks Wall Street

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cole Case & Baker County Birds

In This Issue:

- Cole Case Developments [Edited 4/22/10]
- Some Baker County Birds (Spring Arrivals)



The sluggish legal process made a significant lurch forward this week in the Brian Cole sexual abuse case, when his attorney filed a motion to toss out essentially all the significant evidence. Cole, a former Economic Development Director, consultant, former County Commissioner, and former Nazarene Sunday school teacher, has been accused by the State of Oregon "of four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree (Class A misdemeanors) and two counts of providing liquor to a person under 21 (Class A misdemeanors)."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010, Bob Moon, a premier defense attorney here in Baker City, filed a motion with our Circuit Court to suppress (exclude) the most important and damaging evidence produced by the prosecution in the case--beginning with information gathered at the time of initial law enforcement contact at the Rural Fire Protection District property on Pocahontas Road. Alleging that the stop was illegal, Moon then claims that "all other evidence derived from" the evidence obtained during the stop, must be suppressed.

While attorney Moon's "facts" and and legal theories in support of Cole's defense have yet to be responded to by the prosecution, presented below is the text from pages 1 through 7 of his memorandum, which encompasses the "facts" from the defense perspective, and the text from pages 18 & 19, which offer the defense's conclusions. As I am not a lawyer, and as his arguments in pages 7 through 18, have not yet been responded to by the prosecution, it seemed to me less that helpful for the pursuit of justice, to include them here without rebuttal from the prosecution. I have removed the numerous references to the alleged victim and her family, by placing in brackets "[]" other references, such as [the 17 year-old minor].

It was surprising to me that while the press is properly admonished to protect the identity of alleged juvenile victims, the courts and defense attorneys have no such qualms. In fact, Attorney Moon's memorandum seems to go out of its way to reveal the victim's identity, not that many do not already know. In following up on this question, I have found the Oregon state agencies in Salem less than forthcoming. Generally, a minor is someone under the age of 21, and a juvenile is a person under the age of eighteen. [Corrected on my own edit 4/22/10] In this case, the alleged sex abuser, was 47 at the time of the incident. The alleged victim was 17 years old.

The most relevant portion of the defense's argument is that:

"The October 31,2009, contact between Deputy Maldonado and Brian Cole was a "stop" without legal justification and was thus illegal. From this illegal stop the state obtained evidence of furnishing alcohol to a minor. The state used this iIIegally obtained evidence to secure a November 3, 2009, warrant for [the minor's] messages from October 30, 2009, to November 1, 2009, even though that application only established probable cause to believe that evidence of "furnishing aicohol to a minor" would be found in a single phone call and text message that occurred on October 31,2009."

Following up, the defense then presents the "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" argument that "Any and all evidence derived from an unreasonable search and/or seizure must be suppressed as "fruit of the poisonous tree."

Beyond that, basically, the defense contends that because in their view, the check on suspicious activity at an out of the way rural fire department was "illegal," then most of the evidence gained from statements made during the stop are inadmissible, and that because the defendant was not read his "Miranda" rights, even though no arrest took place, anything he said should also be inadmissible. They further contend that, in order to find incriminating evidence, the State Police used "coercive techniques" to gain information from the alleged victim, and used unjustified illegal searches to gain access to "sexually-suggestive" text messages between her and the defendant, Brian Cole. The evidence included what the state described as "sexually explicit text messaging." The state also contends that the alleged victim's father had no right to consent to the search of his juvenile daughter's computer, which revealed a "personal journal" with statements that led the state "to conclude that [the alleged victim] had a romantic relationship with Brian Cole."

Here is the text of the portions of the motion minus the laborious and legalistic arguments:



On October 31, 2009, at approximately 8:15 p.m. Baker County Sheriffs Deputy Travis Ash drove past the Baker Rural Fire Department (BRFD) station located about two miles west of the Baker City limits on Pochahontas Road. He noticed a car parked underneath a light in the BRFD's parking lot. At that time, Ash was handling another matter of urgency, so he called Baker County Sheriffs Deputy Gabe Maldonado on his cell phone and asked Maldonado to check on this parked car. At the time, Maldonado was finishing a traffic stop on Hwy 30, but after finishing that stop he drove to the BRFD.

Maldonado arrived at BRFD at approximately 8:33 p.m. with his overhead lights on. According to his police report, he pulled into BRFD's parking lot where he saw a white four-door Volkswagen backed into the end of the gravel parking lot facing Pochahontas Road with it's lights off and he noticed the ·car had no front license plate. Maldonado saw that the car had two people in it. Maldonado reported that the man looked startled. Maldonado says he saw a younger-looking female and he thought the two of them were passing something between them because they were both looking down towards the center console. Maldonado parked in front of the Volkswagen and turned on his vehicle spotlight. He reported to dispatch that he was on a "traffic stop ... no front plate." Maldonado then says he saw the driver sit back in his seat, place his left elbow on the driver's door and lean his head on his left hand.

Maldonado approached the Volkswagen on the driver's side door and the driver identified himself as Brian Cole. Maldonado asked Cole for identification and Cole gave Maldonado his license. Maldonado then asked the passenger to identify herself and she said she was [. . . .]. She then told Maldonado her date of birth and he determined that she was 17 years old. During the conversation Maldonado could detect an odor of alcohol. Maldonado then asked Cole to step out of his car. At that time, Baker County Sheriffs Deputy Rich Kirby arrived at the fire station. When Cole got out of his car Maldonado reported that Cole said "I know this doesn't look good." Cole explained that the [17 year-old minor . . .] was unhappy with her performance and they were sitting there talking about it.

Maldonado told Cole that he could smell alcohol and Cole said, "I've had a few sips, but that's all." When asked whether [the 17 year-old minor] had been drinking Cole said, "I don't know. I don't think so." Cole said that he and [the 17 year-old minor] had not been doing anything else in the car and that a bottle of schnapps was in the car. Maldonado asked Cole if he would consent to the search of his car and Cole agreed. Maldonado then explained the situation to Kirby. They decided that Kirby would further question Cole, and Maldonado would talk to [the 17 year-old minor].

Kirby asked Cole what he was doing there with the 17 year-old minor. Cole explained that [the 17 year-old minor] . . . had a bad day that day, so they were at the fire siation talking. Kirby asked how the two of them had gotten together that night and Cole could not remember whether he called her or whether she called him. Cole told Kirby that he picked[ the 17 year-old minor] up near his office in downtown Baker City and that she was in the vehicle when he went into his office and grabbed the bottle of schnapps.

[The 17 year-old minor] explained to Maldonado that she was walking around Baker City when Cole called her. She looked at her cell phone and told Maldonado that Cole called her at 7:47 p.m. that evening. Maldonado asked her where she was going when Cole called her and she said she was just on a walk . . . . Maldonado asked [the 17 year-old minor] how she would describe her relationship with Cole and she said they were "friends, that's it."

[The 17 year-old minor] said Cole is ". . . ." The 17 year-old minor then admitted taking a "couple of sips" of the schnapps.

[The 17 year-old minor] told Maldonado that the schnapps were undemeath her seat. Maldonado
then searched Cole's car and found the schnapps bottle.

Maldonado then asked Cole how he and [the 17 year-old minor] got together that evening and Cole said that he picked [the 17 year-old minor] up. Maldonado asked if Cole called [the 17 year-old minor] or if [the 17 year-old minor] called Cole and Cole said "I don't know," but he then thought about it further and said, "I texted her."

Cole was then issued a citation for furnishing alcohol to a minor and was told he was free to leave. [The 17 year-old minor] was transported to the Baker County Sheriffs office by Deputy Kirby where she was cited for minor in possession of alcohol. While at the Baker County Sheriff's office waiting for her parents to arrive, Kirby noticed that she was text messaging someone. Shortly afterwards, [the 17 year-old minor] was released to her
mother . . . .

The police involved in this investigation were likely still very suspicious that some type of illicit relationship existed between Cole and [the 17 year-old minor], so the next day on November 1, 2009, Deputy Ash determined that [the 17 year-old minor]'s cell phone number was . . . . and Brian Cole's cell phone number was . . . . Ash then wrote letters to their respective cell phone companies requesting that those companies preserve all text and voice messages associated with these numbers. Ash indicated in these letters that "the incident date began on 10-31-09 and is still ongoing."

Also that day the Oregon State Police's major crime unit began investigating this case and OSP Sergeant Ty Duby asked OSP Detective Dave Aydelotte to work on this criminal investigation of Brian Cole. On November 2,2009, Aydelotte went to [the 17 year-old minor's] home in Baker City and met with her father . . . . Her Father told Aydelotte that he provides a cell phone to his daughter, . . . , through a family plan at U.S. Cellular and that he pays the bill on this account. [The father] told Aydelotte that he knew the [17 year-old minor's ] phone had been working on October 31, 2009, but on November 1 they were unable to get the phone to stay on.

A U.S. Cellular representative told [the father] that the phone had been water damaged. Aydelotte asked [the father] for consent to obtain the cell phone records from [the 17 year-old minor]s account, including text messages. [The father] agreed and signed a "consent to search" form. He also told Aydelotte that [the 17 year-old minor] had a Dell laptop computer that was paid for by both him and [the 17 year-old minor].

On November 3, 2009, Aydelotte applied to the Baker County Justice Court for a search warrant to obtain the cell phone records, including text messages, from [the 17 year-old minor] and Cole's cell phones. Aydelotte indicated in his search warrant affidavit to Justice of the Peace Lise Yervasi that he was investigating the crime of providing liquor to a person under 21. Aydelotte said in his affidavit that on Saturday, October 31, 2009, Brian Cole was cited for furnishing alcohol to a minor, 17-year-old [minor]. Aydelotte indicated that Cole admitted texting [the 17 year-old minor] to pick her up that evening and that [the 17 year-old minor] admitted that Brian Cole called her at 7:47 p.m. that evening. Aydelotte asserted that he had probable cause to search both Brian Cole's cell phone records and [the 17 year-old minor]'s records for the crime of furnishing alcohol to a minor and, based on that assertion, Judge Yervasi authorized the search of all of the cell phone records for both Brian Cole and [the 17 year-old minor] for the timeframe of between October 30, 2009, through November 1,2009. The warrants were served later that day. The records were provided to Aydelotte on November 5, 2009. The records from Brian Cole's cell phone contained no text messaging between Cole and [the 17 year-old minor]. However, Aydelotte reviewed the text message records captured on [the 17 year-old minor]'s phone and found sexually-suggestive texts that he thought were exchanged between [the 17 year-old minor] and Brian Coie on October 30,

On November 11, 2009, Sergeant Duby and Detective Aydelotte interviewed [the 17 year-old minor] at Baker City's Oregon State Police office. After what can only be described as a very coercive interview, [the 17 year-old minor] denied having any sexual contact with Brian Cole, but acknowledged that they exchanged text messages where they described sexual scenarios to each other.

On November 22, 2009, Aydelotte applied for another search warrant in the Baker County Justice Court. Aydelotte described what he thought was sexually-explicit text messaging that was exchanged between [the 17 year-old minor] and Brian Cole that he had obtained from [the 17 year-old minor]'s cell phone records. He acknowledged in this application that [the 17 year-old minor] was 17 years of age. He swore that probable cause existed to search Brian Cole's home, office and person for electronic equipment for the crime of "online sexual corruption of a child in the first degree" under ORS 163.433.

Aydelotte then asked for a warrant to search Brian Cole's home, office and person for electronic equipment for that crime. Then, without any grounds to believe that [the 17 year-old minor]'s computer would also contain evidence of online corruption of a child in the first degree, Aydelotte asked for a warrant to seize her computer as well. Despite online sexual corruption of a child in the first degree defining "child" as a person the defendant reasonably believes to be under 16 years of age (see ORS 163.431(1)) and having no grounds to believe that evidence of that crime would be on [ the 17 year-old minor]'s computer, Judge Yervasi signed a warrant authorizing the search of [the 17 year-old minor]r's computer.

[The 17 year-old minor]'s computer had her personal journal that Detectives Aydelotte and Duby were able to review. The journal had entries that led Duby and Aydelotte to conclude that [the 17 year-old minor] had a romantic relationship with Brian Cole. Duby and Aydelotte then re-interviewed [the 17 year-old minor] on December 3, 2009. Aydelotte and Duby confronted [the 17 year-old minor] with several journal entries. She first explained that these were short stories that she was making up. Then, in what can only be described as an incredibly coercive interview, [the 17 year-old minor] indicated that Brian Cole had
touched her several times sexually.

Sometime thereafter, a Baker County grand jury convened to consider this case. [The 17 year-old minor] testified at this grand jury and likely testified that Brian Cole provided her alcohol on January 1, 2009. The grand jury did not deliberate in this case. Rather, on February 10, 2010, Special Baker County District Attorney Sean Riddell filed an Information accusing Brian Cole of four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree (Class A misdemeanors) and two counts of providing liquor to a person under 21 (Class A misdemeanors).

The October 31,2009, contact between Deputy Maldonado and Brian Cole was a "stop" without legal justification and was thus illegal. From this illegal stop the state obtained evidence of furnishing alcohol to a minor. The state used this iIIegally obtained evidence to secure a November 3, 2009, warrant for [the 17 year-old minor]'s text messages from October 30, 2009, to November 1, 2009, even though that application only established probable cause to believe that evidence of "furnishing aicohol to a minor" would be found in a single phone call and text message that occurred on October 31,2009.

From these illegaily-obtained text messages, Troopers Duby and Aydelotte interviewed [the 17 year-old minor] on November 11, 2009. [the 17 year-old minor] disclosed no sexual contact between her and Brian Cole, but she gave Aydelotte additional information that he used to obtain a November 22, 2009, warrant to search [the 17 year-old minor]'s computer. Of course, in this November 22, 2009, application Aydelotte swore that he had probable cause to search for the crime of "Online Corruption of a Chiid" when he knew or should have known that a "child" was defined as a person reasonably believed by the defendant to be under 16 years of age when, in fact, [the 17 year-old minor] was 17.

This illegal search disclosed to the state [the 17 year-old minor]'s personal journal that they used as leverage, along with other coercive techniques, to eventually get [the 17 year-old minor] to declare that Cole had engaged in sexual contact with her. Under these facts, the state cannot prove that they would have obtained evidence of this sexual contact (or evidence of the January 1, 2009, furnishing alcohol to a minor) "independently" or "inevitably," so this court should declare that all evidence obtained by the state in this case was "fruit of the poisonous tree" and order it suppressed.

Brian Cole should have been given Miranda warnings on October 31, 2009, Also, statements made by Brian Cole to the police that day where made after an illegal stop. For those reasons, his statements should be suppressed and any consent he
gave should be deemed invalid as involuntary. Finally, this court should rule that Cole has a privacy interest in his text messages, which could not be overcome by [the father]'s consent. So, evidence obtained from [the 17 year-old minor]'s cell phone records should aiso be suppressed by this court.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED this 14th day of April, 2010.
J. Robert Moon, Jr. OSB#81322
Attorney for Defendant"


See Also:
Baker County Blog: 1) Western Wildlife and 2) New Cole Hearing Set
Mar 30, 2010

Odds & Ends: Brian Cole Case and Environmental Issues
Feb 18, 2010

Hells Canyon Early Spring Wildflowers (also, Brian Cole Case)

Halloween Happenings: Brian Cole Cited for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor
Last update 8:50 PM, 11/3/09.

Some Baker County Birds (Spring Arrivals)

Baker County in March

Lots of Baker County birds have returned since February. Hard to know where to start. How about February? Only a few here, the rest for another blog.

Horned Larks

I began to see these sometime year-round residents in late February and early March. They were quite common in small groups or pairs by March 15th, in often windswept bare ground and sagebrush country, from Shetky Road north of Highway 203 and on to the east. It is said to be an early nester, with Gabrielson & Jewett (Birds of Oregon, 1940) putting the dates as between April 3, and June 20. Gabrielson & Jewett wrote that horned larks used to exist here in "great wintering flocks."although I have not seen them. The "streaked horned lark" of the west side of the state, much reduced in numbers, was recently featured on an edition of PBS's "Oregon Field Guide."
Horned Lark, Eremophila alpestris, Schetky Road, May 11, 2008

Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), the most numerous of our raptors, are nesting now in the larger trees in Baker County (as are the Great-horned and Barn Owls, except that the Barn Owls are more often found in small cliff caves, barns and manufactured owl boxes).

Red-tailed Hawk, Beaver Creek, 2/26/09

Adult Red-tail, Stall Road, 12/27/09

Red-tailed Hawk nesting on Sunny Slope Rd., April 26, 2010


Another almost common raptor in Baker County is the Osprey--also known as the Fish Hawk. At the time "Birds of Oregon" was written in 1940, the Osprey had been in serious decline in Oregon. Today, due to various efforts, including the placement of nesting platforms near fish-bearing water, they are doing well. Platforms with nests can be found along Highway 7 at Hudspeth Road and a mile or two further west. There is another on Wingville Road near Highway 30, another on the east side of the "UPS/Freeway ponds," and another just south of Highway 86 where it crosses the Powder River before entering the lower Powder River canyon. Perhaps the favorite spot for leisurely viewing is Anthony Lakes, where they can be seen diving feet and head first into the lake, in an often successful effort to capture trout swimming near the surface. Osprey's first arrive in very late March or early April, and leave in October.

Osprey (Pandion haliatus), Snacking on fish, Sunnyslope Road, Baker County, OR, April 6, 2010

Osprey Family with small chick on left, Hwy 7 and Hudspeth Road, Baker County, OR, April 28, 2007

Osprey Family on nesting platform,
Wingville Road about 1/8 mile west of Hwy 30, Baker County, OR, July 4, 2009

The Last Resort

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nukes--Focus on Iran & Terrorists, But is There an Enemy Within?

In This Issue:

- Nuclear Hysteria (A Pass For Israel)

- Steve Earle- Rich Man's War


Frightened by Obama's "Nuclear Summit?"

Democracy Now! 4/14/10

AMY GOODMAN: But Professor Mueller, why is it so hard for groups to get so-called “loose” nukes?

JOHN MUELLER: Well, mainly because they don’t exist. No one has really been able to find anything that’s a loose nuke. If you did actually buy or sell—buy or steal a nuclear weapon, what you’d find is that it’s got a lot of locks on it, and there’s very few people who know how to unlock it. In the case of Pakistan, for example, they keep their weapons in pieces, so you’d have to steal or buy one half, find—go to another secure location and buy or steal the other half, somehow know how to put tab A into slot B, and set it off. The number of people—as I say, the number of people who know how to set them off is very small. The people who designed them are not—do not know how to set them off. And the people who maintain them do not know how to set them off. So just getting the bombs—and they also have locks on them which will, if tampered with, will cause a conventional explosion, which will cause the weapon itself to self-destruct, effectively, in a conventional explosion. So the danger is extraordinarily small, it seems to me.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And John Mueller, you also say that terrorists exhibit only a limited desire to obtain these nuclear weapons, which goes contrary to what most intelligence reports are telling us. Why do you say that?

JOHN MUELLER: Well, I looked at those intelligence reports, and, of course, Obama said the same thing. The indication of interest is extraordinarily small. There is some interest. They sort of think about it. They have thought about it from time to time. But, for example, in Afghanistan, when there were some hotheads among al-Qaeda who wanted to develop weapons of mass destruction, mostly like chemical weapons, which actually aren’t weapons of mass destruction, bin Laden basically approved it but didn’t put any money into it. When they were—when they left Afghanistan after the invasion in 2001, we got a computer which indicated that their entire budget for weapons of mass destruction, mainly primitive work on chemical weapons, was about $2,000. And since that time, they certainly haven’t been in better position. There’s no indication they have anything resembling a competent technology team that could put anything together, maybe not even chemical weapons, much less nuclear ones.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, I want to turn to what President Obama had to say at yesterday’s news conference when he was asked about Israel’s nuclear program. He was questioned by Scott Wilson of the Washington Post.

SCOTT WILSON: You have spoken often about the need to bring US policy in line with its treaty obligations internationally to eliminate the perception of hypocrisy that some of the world sees—


SCOTT WILSON: —toward the United States and its allies. In that spirit and in that venue, will you call on Israel to declare its nuclear program and sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty? And if not, why wouldn’t other countries see that as an incentive not to sign onto the treaty that you say is important to strengthen?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, Scott, initially you were talking about US behavior, and then suddenly we’re talking about Israel. Let me talk about the United States. I do think that as part of the NPT, our obligation as the largest nuclear power in the world is to take steps to reducing our nuclear stockpile, and that’s what the START treaty was about, sending a message that we are going to meet our obligations.

And as far as Israel goes, I’m not going to comment on their program. What I am going to point to is the fact that consistently we have urged all countries to become members of the NPT. So there’s no contradiction there.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: That was President Obama speaking yesterday at the news conference. Well, last year, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas pressed Obama on nuclear weapons in the Middle East in a clear reference to Israel. The President tried to ignore that part of her question.

HELEN THOMAS: Mr. President, do you think that Pakistan and—are maintaining the safe havens in Afghanistan for these so-called terrorists? And also, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I think that Pakistan—there is no doubt that in the FATA region of Pakistan, in the mountainous regions along the border of Afghanistan, that there are safe havens where terrorists are operating. And one of the goals of Ambassador Holbrooke, as he is traveling throughout the region, is to deliver a message to Pakistan that they are endangered as much as we are by the continuation of those operations and that we’ve got to work in a regional fashion to root out those safe havens.

With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everybody will be in danger. And one of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally. I think that it’s important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead the way on this.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, in addition to John Mueller, we’re also joined from Washington, DC by author and activist John Steinbach, who just wrote a paper on Israel’s nuclear weapons program, published by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, John Steinbach. Can you talk about what President Obama has said in those two clips we just played and your paper on Israel’s nuclear weapons program?

JOHN STEINBACH: Yes. Good morning.
Well, we need to go all the way back to the early 1970s, when it became obvious that Israel had a nuclear weapons program and, in fact, by then had perhaps a dozen nuclear weapons. It became a difficult political situation, and Nixon met with Prime Minister Golda Meir, and they made a deal. And the deal was that the United States would stop pressing Israel about its nuclear weapons program, and in return, that Israel would never acknowledge publicly that it had nuclear weapons. So this policy has continued to this very day. And when Obama talks about Israel’s—not wanting to speculate about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, everybody knows that this is—that Israel has a large nuclear arsenal. Hans Blix last year said everybody knows Israel has about 200 nuclear weapons. It’s not a secret.

AMY GOODMAN: John Steinbach, what about the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, not showing up at this largest gathering of world leaders since FDR that’s hosted by the United States?

JOHN STEINBACH: Well, the excuse was that if he went there, that he would be questioned by Israel—by Egypt and Turkey about the nuclear weapons program. But Israel has been challenged in every conceivable international venue by Turkey, Egypt and many, many other nations in the world. This is nothing new. The world knows that Israel has nuclear weapons. Ehud Barak last year let loose that it has the nuclear weapons.

We have incontrovertible evidence, because Mordechai Vanunu, the nuclear technician, back in 1986 released several hundreds of photographs to the Sunday London Times. It was examined by Frank Barnaby and Ted Taylor, high-ranking Manhattan Project scientists. They concluded twenty-five years ago that Israel had a hundred sophisticated nuclear weapons. And Frank Barnaby said they had the hydrogen bomb. So I think that it speaks for itself.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And John Steinbach, you write that Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region provides the impetus for other nations in the region to—the impetus for the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Explain that.

JOHN STEINBACH: Well, let me give you an example. About eighteen months ago, the Arab League had a meeting, and they made a public statement saying that if Israel ever publicly acknowledges that it has nuclear weapons, that the Arab League would be forced to develop its own nuclear weapons. And Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, immediately took exception to that and took the Arab League to the woodshed. And he said, “Look, you know, everybody knows that Israel has nuclear weapons. We want Israel to acknowledge their nuclear arsenal. We want Israel to bring that to the table. And we want to proceed to negotiate a nuclear-weapons-free treaty in the Middle East. And unless Israel acknowledges its program and comes to the table, that’s not going to happen.” And statements such as the Arab League made are not helpful.

And I think we need to contrast this situation, this absurd situation. All the nations in the Middle East have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran, which is technically not part of the Middle East, has also signed it. Iran, over the last ten years, has undergone the most intensive scrutiny by the IAEA of any nation in the entire world. And in the meantime, on the basis that it might be trying to acquire nuclear weapons, in the meantime, you have Israel that not only has hundreds of nuclear weapons, but it has a very powerful, very sophisticated delivery system that includes submarines, missiles and bombers.


America’s Loose Nukes in Israel

By Grant Smith

See Also, for links, and etc. Information Clearing House

April 14, 2010 "Antiwar" -- Israel decided this week to send Minister for Intelligence Affairs Dan Meridor to the Nuclear Security summit. This U.S. bid to secure vulnerable nuclear stockpiles against non-state actors is both closely watched and furiously spun. Israel avoided exposing Prime Minister Netanyahu to embarrassing scrutiny of Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons arsenal. For this reason, trumpets the New York Times, Israel sent a lower-level delegation. But Israel has long responded defiantly to threats of robust U.S. oversight. A long-running investigation into how weapons-grade uranium went missing from Pennsylvania illustrates why America has been incapable of securing its own nuclear materials and know-how from insider threats. The future of that uranium may determine the success or failure of the Obama administration’s non-proliferation effort.

Steve Levin was a member of the underground Haganah [an Israeli terrorist group back in the 40's takeover of Palestine] – a precursor to the Israel Defense Forces – and fought during Israel’s 1948 war under Meir Amit, who later became head of Israeli intelligence. Levin was a close friend of David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel. In the mid-1940s while leading the Jewish Agency, Ben-Gurion launched a massive clandestine conventional arms financing, theft, and smuggling network [.pdf] in the United States diverting to Palestine small arms, heavy machine guns, munitions-making equipment, aircraft, ships, and tanks destined for American scrap yards after World War II.

On the nuclear front, Levin financed the purchase of the Apollo Steel Company facility in Pennsylvania for $450,000. Founder and President Dr. Zalman M. Shapiro, a genius inventor and head of a local Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) chapter, incorporated the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) at Apollo in 1956. Levin capitalized NUMEC through a stock offering in 1957 and business took off – propelled by the critical knowledge of highly talented scientists. NUMEC co-founder Dr. Leonard P. Pepkowitz previously worked on the clandestine Manhattan Project in 1944 producing America’s first atomic bombs. Pepkowitz later led analytical chemistry research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. NUMEC regularly received large quantities of highly enriched uranium and plutonium from industry giants Westinghouse and the U.S. Navy for reprocessing into nuclear submarine fuel and other specialty uses. Shapiro was meticulous in his stewardship of the company’s financial resources, carefully shopping around for banks willing to accommodate the complex demands of the fast growing NUMEC.

In the early 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) began documenting suspicious lapses in NUMEC’s security, inexplicably lax record-keeping, and the ongoing presence of large numbers of Israelis at the plant. In 1962 the AEC considered suspending "classified weapons work" at NUMEC. In 1965 an AEC audit found that NUMEC could no longer account for 220 pounds of highly enriched uranium. In 1966 the FBI opened an investigation – code-named Project DIVERT – and began monitoring NUMEC’s management and Israeli visitors. On Sept. 10, 1968, four Israelis visited NUMEC to "discuss thermoelectric devices with Shapiro," according to correspondence seeking official AEC consent for the visit from NUMEC’s security manager. Among the approved visitors was Rafi Eitan. After Eitan’s visit, 587 pounds of highly enriched uranium was classified as missing.

Former Deputy of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology Carl Duckett said the agency came to the conclusion by 1968 that “NUMEC material had been diverted by the Israelis and used in fabricating weapons.” An eyewitness gave testimony to the FBI about one late evening in 1965 when he encountered several NUMEC employees loading a flatbed truck with nuclear materials. It was unusual that material was shipping so late at night. Moreover, these particular employees (names were censored from the 2,654 pages of FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act) "never loaded trucks themselves." The eyewitness was "sure this was high-enriched uranium products due to size and shape of the container and the labeling." An armed guard ordered the witness away; he was later threatened to never reveal what he had seen on the loading dock.

The FBI, CIA, Congress, the GAO, and the AEC spent fruitless decades investigating the diversion. The FBI insisted on nuclear forensics to determine whether radioactivity in soil samples collected outside Dimona in Israel had any telltale NUMEC signature. But not until U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard was arrested spying for Israel in 1985 was Rafi Eitan’s importance fully understood. In 1986 investigators discovered the Eitan who entered NUMEC in 1968 had the same birth date – 11/23/1926 – as the spy handling Pollard. According to Anthony Cordesman, “There is no conceivable reason for Eitan to have gone [to the Apollo plant] but for the nuclear material.” Eitan has since been forced out of the cold as one of Israel’s top economic espionage agents for Israel’s secretive LAKAM, involved in multiple operations against U.S. targets. The Israel lobby’s role, never deeply explored by the Pollard investigators, was perceptible in the background. An operative of a U.S.-Israel business foundation provided the Washington, D.C., safe house where documents stolen by Pollard were duplicated and secreted away to Israel.

But Pollard’s subsequent life sentence in prison is the exception to the rule – crimes for Israel (even nuclear diversion) aren’t punished by America. In a now familiar pattern, the investigation of NUMEC uranium diversion waxed and waned into the 1990s. DIVERT was soon transformed into a futile investigation into whether Zalman Shapiro had foreknowledge or personal involvement in the caper and ways officials in agencies from the State Department to the AEC thwarted warranted law enforcement and accountability for Israel. To date, all of the uranium-diversion masterminds, financiers, and beneficiaries have escaped criminal prosecution, even as U.S. taxpayers fund a nuclear waste cleanup at the (now defunct) NUMEC Apollo facility.

That the U.S. is a sieve for Israeli nuclear espionage is well documented. In 1988 the GAO determined that Department of Energy nuclear laboratories were far too open to foreign visits from "countries identified as sensitive by DOE because they are a security and/or proliferation risk, such as Pakistan and Israel." The lessons of Eitan went unheeded. The report found that "Of 637 visitors from countries such as India, Israel, and Pakistan, the DOE required background checks for only 77." In addition to amassing critical knowledge, other nuclear technologies known to have been diverted from the U.S. to Israel include dual-use triggering technologies, klystrons, and krytons.

It never had to be this way. In the early 1960s, just as the problems at NUMEC began, President John F. Kennedy unleashed a robust non-proliferation and law enforcement pincer maneuver. He demanded U.S. inspections of Israel’s Dimona weapons plant in order to prevent Israel from going nuclear. Kennedy simultaneously ordered Israel’s American lobby to register as foreign agents to bring their undeclared activities out into the open. But Israel and its U.S. lobby ultimately prevailed on both counts.

In formally pressing Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while pushing for a settlement freeze and peace negotiations, the Obama administration is retracing JFK’s final footsteps. Israel’s lobby still has its own sovereign policy priorities. As Zalman Shapiro and lobby elites such as neoconservative gadfly Frank Gaffney gathered at ZOA events on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, pivoting the U.S. military from Iraq toward Syria and Iran was a top priority. The lobby also worked day and night to keep America’s front (and back) doors open for massive aid transfers and trade preferences, buffing up its own image by plucking operatives from the harsh clutches of law enforcement – even winning presidential pardons to erase or exalt other unfortunate historic events that called into question the U.S.-Israel "special relationship." Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh noted that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) entire executive committee (the Conference of Presidents) favors releasing Jonathan Pollard on the grounds that "his crimes did not amount to high treason against the United States, because Israel was then and remains a close ally." These unspoken, forced policies directly pit Israeli prerogatives against American national security, governance, and rule of law – they are often only won only through illegal means. As Israel ratchets up its own "project divert" effort to compel others to confront NPT signatory Iran (while derailing meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations), the rest of the world showed true commitment to non-proliferation by sending top diplomats to America’s summit.

Israel simply sent in another spy.

This is why the U.S. must demand more than Israel’s entry into the NPT. Only by recovering all purloined nuclear materials can Obama win confidence in America’s own commitment to controlling loose nukes.

Grant F. Smith is the author of the new book Spy Trade: How Israel's Lobby Undermines America's Economy. He is a frequent contributor to Radio France Internationale and Voice of America's Foro Interamericano. Smith has also appeared on BBC News, CNN, and C-SPAN. He is currently director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2010

Here is an historic document mentioned in the article above. Well worth reading.

See link to entire article at top for many more good articles.

Obama: Israel should sign NPT

American president lauds leaders who took part in Washington nuke summit, says world safer as result of conference; responding to question, Obama says all nations should sign Non-Proliferation Treaty, including Israel

By Yitzhak Benhorin

April 14, 2010 "YNetNews" -- WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the US Administration calls upon all nations to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including Israel.

Speaking at a press conference end of a nuclear summit in Washington, Obama said that the world was safer today as result of the convention's achievements.

“We have seized the opportunity,” Obama said at the conclusion of a two-day summit on nuclear security in Washington. “The American people will be safer and the world will be more secure.”

When asked about Israel's nuclear program, Obama at first refused to address the issue, instead insisting to talk about the US and its commitment to reducing American nuclear weapon stockpiles.

"Initially you were talking about US behavior, and then suddenly we're talking about Israel. Let me talk about the United States," the president said. "I do think that as part of the NPT, our obligation, as the largest nuclear power in the world, is to take steps to reducing our nuclear stockpile. And that's what the START treaty was about, sending a message that we are going to meet our obligations…as far as Israel goes, I'm not going to comment on their program.

However, although initially saying he will not address Israel's nuclear program, Obama continued, pointing out that the US is calling on all nations to sign the NPT.

"What I'm going to point to is the fact that consistently we have urged all countries to become members of the NPT. So there's no contradiction there," he said. "And so whether we're talking about Israel or any other country, we think that becoming part of the NPT is important. And that, by the way, is not a new position. That's been a consistent position of the United States government, even prior to my administration."

Copyright © Yedioth Internet. All rights reserved.

And Then, there is the USS Liberty Incident

Forty Years Later

Searching for the Truth About the USS Liberty


Forty years ago this week, I was asked to investigate the heaviest attack on an American ship since World War II. As senior legal counsel to the Navy Court of Inquiry it was my job to help uncover the truth regarding Israel's June 8th 1967 bombing of the USS Liberty.

On that sunny, clear day 40 years ago, Israel's combined air and naval forces attacked our American intelligence-gathering ship for two hours, inflicting 70 percent casualties. Thirty four American sailors died and 172 were injured. The USS Liberty remained afloat only by the crew's heroic efforts.

Israel claimed it was an accident. Yet I know from personal conversations with the late Admiral Isaac C. Kidd -- president of the Court of Inquiry -- that President Johnson and Secretary of Defense McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of "mistaken identity".

The ensuing cover-up has haunted us for forty years. What does it imply for our national security, not to mention our ability to honestly broker peace in the Middle East, when we cannot question Israel's actions even when they kill Americans?

On June 8th, survivors of Israel's cruel attack will gather in Washington, DC to honor their dead shipmates as well as the mothers, sisters, widows and children they left behind. They will continue to ask for a fair and impartial congressional inquiry that, for the first time, would allow the survivors themselves to testify publicly.

For decades, I have remained silent. I am a military man and when orders come in from the Secretary of Defense and President of the United States, I follow them. However, attempts to rewrite history and concern for my country compel me to share the truth.

Admiral Kidd and I were given only one week to gather evidence for the Navy's official investigation, though we both estimated that a proper Court of Inquiry would take at least six months.

We boarded the crippled ship at sea and interviewed survivors. The evidence was clear. We both believed with certainty that this attack was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.

I am certain the Israeli pilots and commanders who had ordered the attack knew the ship was American. I saw the bullet-riddled American flag that had been raised by the crew after their first flag had been shot down completely. I heard testimony that made it clear the Israelis intended there be no survivors. Not only did they attack with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned at close range three life rafts that had been launched in an attempt to save the most seriously wounded.

I am outraged at the efforts of Israel's apologists to claim this attack was a case of "mistaken identity."

Admiral Kidd told me that after receiving the President's cover-up orders, he was instructed to sit down with two civilians from either the White House or the Defense Department, and rewrite portions of the Court's findings. He said, "Ward, they're not interested in the facts. It's a political matter and we cannot talk about it." We were to "put a lid on it" and caution everyone involved never to speak of it again.

I know that the Court of Inquiry transcript that has been released to the public is not the same one that I certified and sent to Washington. I know this because it was necessary, due to the exigencies of time, to hand correct and initial a substantial number of pages. I have examined the released version of the transcript and did not see any pages that bore my hand corrections and initials. Also, the original did not have any deliberately blank pages, as the released version does. In addition, the testimony of Lt. Lloyd Painter concerning the deliberate machine-gunning of the life rafts by the Israeli torpedo boat crews, which I distinctly recall being given at the Court of Inquiry and including in the original transcript, is now missing.

I join the survivors in their call for an honest inquiry. Why is there no room to question Israel even when they kill Americans -- in the halls of Congress?

Let the survivors testify. Let me testify. Let former intelligence officers testify that they received real-time Hebrew translations of Israeli commanders instructing their pilots to sink "the American ship".

Surely uncovering the truth about what happened to American servicemen in a bloody attack is more important than protecting Israel. And surely forty years is long enough to wait.

Ward Boston served as chief counsel to the Navy's Court of Inquiry into the attack on USS Liberty and as a naval aviator in World War II on the carrier Yorktown, and as an FBI agent prior to his assignment to the Navy's Judge Advocates General Corps. He is a graduate of the Law School of the College of William and Mary, and a resident of Coronado, California.

For more information see this story in Navy Times by Bryan Jordan.
[Or, just google USS Liberty.]

Steve Earle- Rich Man's War

Jimmy joined the army ‘cause he had no place to go
There ain’t nobody hirin’
‘round here since all the jobs went
down to Mexico
Reckoned that he’d learn himself a trade maybe see the world
Move to the city someday and marry a black haired girl
Somebody somewhere had another plan
Now he’s got a rifle in his hand
Rollin’ into Baghdad wonderin’ how he got this far
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war

Bobby had an eagle and a flag tattooed on his arm
Red white and blue to the bone when he landed in Kandahar
Left behind a pretty young wife and a baby girl
A stack of overdue bills and went off to save the world
Been a year now and he’s still there
Chasin’ ghosts in the thin dry air
Meanwhile back at home the finance company took his car
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war

When will we ever learn
When will we ever see
We stand up and take our turn
And keep tellin’ ourselves we’re free

Ali was the second son of a second son
Grew up in Gaza throwing bottles and rocks when the tanks would come
Ain’t nothin’ else to do around here just a game children play
Somethin’ ‘bout livin’ in fear all your life makes you hard that way

He answered when he got the call
Wrapped himself in death and praised Allah
A fat man in a new Mercedes drove him to the door
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war

Sarangel Music (ASCAP)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Banks: "Too Big To Fail" Must Become "Small Enough To Fail."

In the following article, Simon Johnson explains why "Too Big To Fail" must become "Small Enough To Fail."

The Baseline Scenario
What happened to the global economy and what we can do about it
What Would Really End “Too Big To Fail”?

with 47 comments

By Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and The Next Financial Meltdown

As we move closer to a Senate – and presumably national – debate on financial reform, the central technical and political question is: What would prevent any bank or similar institution from being regarded – ultimately by the government – as so big that it would not be allowed to fail. If you are “too big to fail” (TBTF), credit markets see you as lower risk and as more attractive investment – enabling you to obtain more funding on cheaper terms, and thus become even larger.

Everyone agrees, in principle, this is a bad arrangement. It’s an unfair distortion of markets – giving huge banks the opportunity to grow bigger, because they have implicit government guarantees. It is also manifestly unsafe, because it encourages reckless risk-taking: If things go well, the TBTF bank gets the upside; if there is mismanagement of risk, or just bad luck, the downside falls to the taxpayer and to society more broadly. These costs can be huge: 8 million jobs lost since December 2007.

But there remains sharp disagreement on what exactly would end too big to fail. The main views fall primarily into three camps.
. . . .

Make our largest banks small enough to fail. There is simply no other way to really end the problem of Too Big To Fail.

See What Would Really End “Too Big To Fail”? for full article, including Johnson's lucid arguments and associated links.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wolves and Other Predators

In This Issue:
[Heavily Edited; ranch photos added 4/6/10]

- HCPC Reflects on Wolves

- "Collateral Murder" A video of Soldiers Killing Reporters & Civilians, While Wounding Two Children, in Iraq


I'm not really up to blog post tonight, but Greg Dyson, Executive Director, and legal lead at Hells Canyon Preservation Council had such a thoughtful and personal contribution about wolves on the "from the Canyons" blog last week, that I just had to post it, along with another piece about an additional predator we know all too well--ourselves.

Fish & Wildlife Service Photo (above)

Low perimeter fencing at Jacobs Sheep Ranch in Baker County

In the last week or so, the film, “Lords of Nature” was shown in the North East Oregon towns of Baker City and Enterprise. It was also shown last year in La Grande, with several folks from Baker City attending. Greg Dyson's post, which follows, refers to this year's showings. Both in Enterprise and Baker City, a defense of the predators role in ecosystem function was presented by some panelists, including Bob Beschta, who helped pioneer work about the predator's role in maintaining a balance in wild ecosystems. Ranchers, who have developed a living in the past by grazing the lands inhabited previously by wolves and other predators, ultimately eradicating the wolves to maximize profits, were also in attendance. Here is Greg Dyson's honest and heartfelt response to their concerns:

Ranchers and Wolves!

Two local volunteers set up two local showings of the fantastic film “Lords of Nature” last week – one showing in Baker City and the other in Enterprise. There was great turnout at both showings, and the audience included many local ranchers. Then, the night after the Enterprise showing, Oregon’s only confirmed breeding wolf pack paid a visit to a ranch near Enterprise, digging up a buried cow carcass and coming closer to a ranch house than at any other time.

The Wallowa County Chieftain’s sensationalist headline screamed “Wolves at the Door: Wallowa County Ranchers Face Their Worst Fears.” This wolf activity and the preceding comments by some of the ranchers at the events gave me plenty to think about this week.

There were clearly a few over-the-top statements by some ranchers at the films. One claimed to be able to control all the threats to his livestock except for wolves. Yet he never did explain how he controlled the weather. This same rancher artificially inflated the number of livestock he had lost to wolves in order to make the threat sound much worse than it was, but in doing so he made a huge error: he admitted that he didn’t ear-tag all his calves and didn’t know for sure how many he sent out to pasture. His single-minded message was that he “needs the tools to control wolves,” which, in case it isn’t obvious, is just a euphemism for wanting to shoot wolves.

Another rancher said that he had no room to work with anyone on this issue, and that the only solution for him is that there are no wolves, period. His livestock allotment is on federal public land, in the heart of the Imnaha pack’s territory.

My initial thought after hearing the ranchers speak at the Lords of Nature showings was that I’ve never heard such a bunch of whiners. I thought ranchers prided themselves on their stoic, steady ability to deal with everything that gets thrown their way. I also thought they believed in fully functioning landscapes. The comments I heard came across more like a bunch of kids throwing a tantrum. I thought they sounded like the classic “bury the head in the sand” approach, refusing to admit change is happening even when it clearly is. I know these few vocal ranchers don’t necessarily speak for other ranchers who are indifferent about wolves or may even like wolves as long as wolves don’t kill livestock. But that reaction of mine to their comments isn’t very helpful either, and so I made myself move on to more constructive thoughts, namely, where do we go from here?

Step one, I think, is to admit as a community that change is happening. Wolves are here and they’re not going away. This is, after all, historic wolf country, and I’ve heard lots of people point out that the ranchers are the interlopers, not the wolves. There is also the growing recognition that our wildlands are not fully functioning without top predators like wolves.

But the fact remains that ranchers are operating in wolf country, so what do we do about that? Well, we have learned that the visit to the ranch by the Imnaha pack was not entirely random or unexpected. They were known to be in the area for at least a few days prior to the visit, and they dug up a recently buried cow carcass near the ranch. [A situation similar to that which preceded the attack at the Jacobs ranch in Baker County, given that they were aware that wolves were in the area.- Chris]

We have better tools to deal with situations like this than we are currently applying. If wolves are in the area, we can set up fladry and other means of scaring wolves off … in advance of any wolf activity. We can practice better carcass disposal, or work together to devise a better system of dealing with carcasses. Ranchers operating in wolf country will have to avoid sloppy practices, and must know how many of their livestock are where. And not only ranchers, but wolf advocates can step up to deal with these situations (as some already do).

In my mind there is also a huge distinction between ranching operations on private land and those on public land. The Oregon Wolf Plan recognizes those distinctions, and ranchers must come to terms with that. After all, on national forests there is a legal mandate for maintaining viable wildlife populations. There is no legal mandate to allow ranching.

The primary point is that we need to be able to have conversations about these issues, away from the over-the-top rhetoric. I’m not confident, however, that we’ll get there. Anti-wolf rhetoric seems to be on the upswing. I suspect we’ll battle this out in the Oregon legislature, as we have for the last several sessions. The outspoken wolf opponents – and some of our politicians – want to make this into rural/urban issue, but it isn’t. There are wolf advocates throughout this state.

HCPC is a rural-based group, and we advocate for the return of wolves—and will continue to do so. Yet we also believe that there are solutions that can only come about with a joint commitment to solving these wolf-related issues. We challenge the ranching community to make the same commitment.

Greg Dyson
Executive Director

Posted by Hells Canyon Preservation Council
[All bold emphasis in Greg Dyson's piece above was added by me - Chris]

To reiterate and expand slightly on Greg Dyson's points (my statements, not HCPCs):

- The wolves and other predators have a moral and legal right to inhabit the public lands.

- We all need to take responsibility for engaging in productive and reality based conversations about how co-existence between predators and ranchers can become a reality, without resorting to hyperbolic, irresponsible or illegal, speech or behavior.

- The practice by ranchers, either through negligence or intent, of luring predators to kill livestock with inadequately protected livestock areas or other improper practices such as uncovered, or insufficiently covered carcasses, especially when they know, or should know, that wolves and other predators are in the area, will have to end. The pattern seems to be to set the wolves up for an attack by ignoring the threat, not taking effective actions, or maintaining sloppy practices, and then to create hysteria and sympathy by manipulating the press when the inevitable occurs. See also Coexisting with Carnivores at the Defenders' web site.

- All scientifically defensible practices necessary to keep wolves away from livestock should be used by ranchers in wolf territory. These would include reasonably adequate fencing of private ranching activities in wolf territory, the use of fladry and other effective defensive devices, and active herding with enough herders and large dogs, like great pyrenees, to avert attacks, especially on public lands grazing allotments.


Sheep at the Jacobs Ranch are Essentially Defenseless Due to Inadequate Fencing.

See also: MONDAY, MAY 11, 2009, Wolves Again. . . .

Collateral Murder

After watching, and being revolted at the video below, I was reminded of an experience I had on April 1, 2005, in the Sheephole Mountains just east of the marine base north of 29 Palms, California. I was there on a trip to experience wildflowers and desert critters in an especially rainy and productive year for the southern deserts. While I was camping and hiking in an area of BLM land there, with the wildflowers and threatened desert tortoises, a contingent of marines on weekend furlough came in to camp nearby. Soon thereafter, the guns began to blaze, cutting down the desert flora and fauna near my camp. This was an area inhabited by the threatened desert tortoises and breeding birds, like loggerhead shrikes and desert sparrows, not to mention many other life forms, like butterflies, as well as the wildflowers and desert shrubs.
Desert View From Sheephole Mountains, April 1, 2005

As I happened to be watching them come in and set up while I was photographing wildflowers and scenery near the crest of a nearby hill, I went over to inquire if there were any Native American petroglyphs in the cave-like areas next to where they were camped and shooting. I also, of course, wanted them to know I was nearby so they would be careful not to send the bullets my way.
Mating Checkerspot (?) in Sheephole Mountains

Desert Aster in Sheephole Mountains

That beautiful sunny afternoon, as I photographed a large and very old desert tortoise, the bullets only intensified in number, including sporadic fully automatic rifle fire. Later, as the night closed in, a few of them came near my camp to fire a few close rounds, as if to enhance their importance and power, as well as my fear.

Desert Tortoise in the Sheephole Mtns.

I was duly impressed and left the next day, but not before I thought about my own experience in "Basic Training," at which time the military tries with much success to extinguish all decency, and all respect for life from the average human--Traits it hates to see in its young recruits, who, except for the most severely damaged, must be taught to think "Kill, Kill, Kill."

Collateral Murder

5th April 2010 10:44 EST WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff.

[The military decided the pieces of camera equipment carried by a couple of Reuters photographers were weapons and shot down the whole group in cold blood, as if it were some sort of video game party, and while they celebrated the entire incident. No one had been threatened by the group, but they and their rescuers were killed or wounded, including two wounded children in the rescuer's van. Entire video can be seen here: Collateral Murder- Chris]

Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.

The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured.

After demands by Reuters, the incident was investigated and the U.S. military concluded that the actions of the soldiers were in accordance with the law of armed conflict and its own "Rules of Engagement".

Consequently, WikiLeaks has released the classified Rules of Engagement for 2006, 2007 and 2008, revealing these rules before, during, and after the killings.

WikiLeaks has released both the original 38 minutes video and a shorter version with an initial analysis. Subtitles have been added to both versions from the radio transmissions.

WikiLeaks obtained this video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers. WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident.

WikiLeaks wants to ensure that all the leaked information it receives gets the attention it deserves. In this particular case, some of the people killed were journalists that were simply doing their jobs: putting their lives at risk in order to report on war. Iraq is a very dangerous place for journalists: from 2003- 2009, 139 journalists were killed while doing their work.


Eagle Cam

The eagle was again completely covered with 1-2 inches of snow last night near midnight, with the snow still coming down. Not even the head was showing--only the outline of the truly devoted parent.