Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Court Rebuffs Feds, Reinstates Torture Suit

"'These will be the first torture victims to really have their day in court,' he said. ... "

Bob Egelko, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

(04-28) 11:58 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court rebuffed the Obama administration's assertion of secrecy today and reinstated a lawsuit by five men who say a Bay Area subsidiary of Boeing Co. helped the CIA fly them to foreign countries to be tortured.

A lawyer from President Obama's Justice Department argued to the court in February that the issues surrounding the "extraordinary rendition," program, including government-sanctioned interrogation methods and the company's alleged connection to the CIA, were so sensitive that the very existence of the suit threatened national security.

The Bush administration had taken the same position and persuaded a federal judge in San Jose to dismiss the suit.

In today's ruling, however, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the government and the company could take steps to protect national secrets as the case proceeded. The suit should be dismissed only if secret information is essential for the plaintiffs to prove their case or for the Bay Area company to defend itself, the court said.

"According to the government's theory, the judiciary should effectively cordon off all secret government actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the CIA and its partners from the demands and limits of the law," Judge Michael Hawkins said in the 3-0 ruling.

Allowing the government to shield its conduct from court review simply because classified information is involved "would ... perversely encourage the president to classify politically embarrassing information simply to place it beyond the reach of judicial process," Hawkins said.

The court did not address the plaintiffs' claims that they were kidnapped and tortured, but said judges have an important role to play in reviewing allegations of secret government conduct that violates individual liberties.

"As the founders of this nation knew well, arbitrary imprisonment and torture under any circumstances is a 'gross and notorious ... act of despotism,' " Hawkins said, citing language from a 2004 Supreme Court decision.

Either the administration or the company, Jeppesen Dataplan, a San Jose subsidiary of Boeing, could seek further review from a larger panel of the appeals court or from the U.S. Supreme Court. If those efforts fail, the case will return to U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Jose to consider whether it should go to trial. Ware dismissed the case in February 2008.

"This decision begins the lawsuit. It doesn't end it," said Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing the plaintiffs. But he said the ruling was potentially historic.

"These will be the first torture victims to really have their day in court," he said.

Extraordinary rendition refers to the practice of abducting suspected criminals and terrorists without any extradition or legal proceedings, and taking them to foreign countries or CIA prisons for detention and interrogation.

The Bush administration, which used the practice extensively, maintained it never took a prisoner to a foreign country without first obtaining assurances that no torture would be used.

Two of the five plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan are still imprisoned, one on Morocco and one in Egypt, and the others have been released without charges from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. All say they were subjected to brutal interrogations in overseas prisons run by foreign governments or the CIA, and all accuse Jeppesen of arranging their flights.

A Council of Europe report in 2007 identified the company as the CIA's aviation services provider. A company employee, in a court declaration, quoted a Jeppesen director as telling staff members in 2006 that the company handled torture flights for the CIA.


Austrian Holocaust Denier Sentenced to Five Years in Jail


Notorious Austrian Holocaust denier Gerd Honsik was sentenced to five years in prison Monday by a Vienna court that found him guilty of spreading National Socialist ideology.

While living in Spain from the early 1990s to evade a previous Austrian prison sentence, the neo-Nazi had continued to publish National Socialist ideology in a magazine and other venues.

"He is one of the ideological leaders of the neo-Nazi scene," prosecutor Stefan Apostol said Friday, alleging that Honsik had also passed out his publications at schools.

Both the prosecution and the defendant plan to appeal the verdict and sentence, Austrian press agency APA reported.

The 67-year-old defendant said he rejects "the doctrine which demonizes National Socialism," but claimed he was not a National Socialist himself.

Honsik, who wrote the book Acquittal for Hitler? in 1988, defended himself by arguing that he did not deny the existence of all the gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps.

After his lawyer, Herbert Schaller, pointed out that it was not Honsik but "fine and righteous foreigners" who had first denied the existence of gas chambers, the prosecutor said he would consider whether to also indict Schaller under Austria's law banning National Socialist activities.

In 1992, an Austrian court passed an 18-month prison term against Honsik for denying the crimes committed by Hitler's regime. Before starting his sentence, Honsik fled to Spain, but he was eventually extradited in 2007.

Another prominent Holocaust denier, the British writer David Irving, received a sentence of two years in prison and one year of probation from Austrian courts in 2006.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

"SWINE FLU" - 60 MINUTES, Nov 4, 1979

Am I suggesting that some government agency ... of God's Apple Pie Republic ... albeit, gone a bit sour ... would ever play around with highly-lethal pig viruses? Sure, you bet, but you have to watch those affiliated partners in the corporate sector, as well ...

By Alex Constantine (Revised)

In today's news: GILEAD, Glaxo and Roche, a few other pharmaceutical concerns, stand to make handsome profits in the near future: "Drug and vaccine makers on standby over swine flu," Apr 26, 2009, LONDON/ZURICH (Reuters) - "Drugmakers said on Sunday they could supply millions of doses of medicine and were ready to work on a vaccine against a new type of swine flu that has killed up to 81 people in Mexico and infected around a dozen in the United States. Roche Holding AG's Tamiflu, known generically as oseltamivir, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Relenza, or zanamivir, are both recommended drugs for seasonal flu and have been shown to work against viral samples of the new disease. ... The two companies have received contracts in recent years from individual governments and corporations for stockpiles of their medicines, following earlier fears over bird flu. Those sales provided windfall profits, especially for Roche, and also benefited their respective partners. Tamiflu was originally invented by U.S. biotech company Gilead Sciences Inc, while Relenza was licensed to Glaxo by Australia's Biota Holdings Ltd. ... Leading flu vaccine manufacturers include Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis SA, Glaxo, Novartis AG and Baxter International Inc. Sanofi Pasteur, as the world leading producer of influenza vaccine, is standing ready to assess its capabilities to support public health efforts, should the WHO and other health authorities request support from influenza vaccine manufacturers," said spokesman Pascal Barollier."

Baxter International and Austria's Orth-Donau Facility May be the Source of the Current Swine Flu Contagion in Mexico

Baxter? As in ... "Baxter working on vaccine to stop swine flu, though admitted sending live pandemic flu viruses to subcontractor"

Baxter admits sending live avian flu viruses to subcontractor: People familiar with biosecurity rules are dismayed by evidence that human H3N2 and avian H5N1 viruses somehow co-mingled in the Orth-Donau facility. 27 Feb 2009 The company that released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria confirmed Friday that the experimental product contained live H5N1 avian flu viruses. ...
Donau, Austria. [Source: The Canadian Press]

Compare with:

Spectre of pandemic 26 Apr 2009 The new strain contains gene sequences from North American and Eurasian swine flus, North American bird flu and North American human flu, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of Mexico's dead were young, healthy adults, and none was aged older than 60 or or younger than three, the World Health Organization said. This has alarmed health officials... Pandemic flus - like the 1918 Spanish flu and the 1957 and 1968 pandemics - often strike young, healthy people the hardest. Mexican officials promised a huge immunisation campaign in the capital this week. ...

Baxter International and American Home Products

"Baxter Corporation, a subsidiary of American Home Products [now Wyeth]—another direct progeny of the decartelized German drug and chemical combine known as I.G. Farben. ... "

WARREN BUFFETT Stands to make a KILLING, too

Warren Buffett snaps up shares in Glaxo, Philip Scott, This is Money, 20 February 2008: "Warren Buffett, the world's most famous investor and the second richest man in the US, has recently invested in UK pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline ... "

Cheney (again), Bush, Rumsfeld and Gilead

John F. Cogan, CEO of Gilead, was economic advisor to President George W. Bush, appointed to serve on a bipartisan commission on Social Security reform in 2001.

ON April 20, 2009, I reported: "I've been sifting through the known leads for a couple of months now, and can report that Dick Cheney is the key to the parapolitics of the [Flight 3407] crash ... "

Reported elsewhere: Shultz, Rusmfeld and Gilead Profit from the Bird Flu Scare

"The Gilead model also suggests a parallel to the Halliburton Corporation, whose former CEO is Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney’s company has so far gotten billions worth of US construction contracts in Iraq and elsewhere. Is it just a coincidence that Cheney’s closest political friend is Defense Secretary and Avian Flu beneficiary, Donald Rumsfeld?"
Schering-Plough, Swine Flu Vaccine Makers and Flight 3407

From the DEADLINE investigation of 3407: " ... Schering Plough’s own links to Flight 3407 come second only to Amherst Systems and include the deaths of three employees, Jennifer Neil, Dawn Monachino and Dawn Mossop, (plus Mrs Mossop’s family members; her husband Donald, son Shawn and cousin Ferris Reid). Another 3407 passenger, Donald Macdonald, worked in pharmaceuticals as the quality control engineer for the Canadian pharmacy firm Pharmetics who sold vitamin supplied to the troops in Afghanistan. Pharmetics ... purchased its Canadian plant off Schering Plough client Patheon. ... Patheon ... was purchasing manufacturing plants in Cincinnati from drug manufacture Aventis (now Sanofi–Pasteur). ... "


MARCH 10, 2009: " ... Merck & Co. agreed to buy rival Schering-Plough Corp. for $41.1 billion ... Schering-Plough brings to Merck biotech, consumer-health and animal-health businesses, as well as an expanded presence in Brazil, China and other emerging markets. ... "


"NAZI MONEY BURIED IN NEW CORPORATIONS At the end of the war Hitler ordered Martin Bormann, financial director of the Third Reich, to bury the treasure not only for Germany's economic recovery, but for the rise of the Fourth Reich. So Bormann buried it into 750 corporations as determined by their partners I.G. Farben and the Rockefellers, to establish a monopoly over the world's pharmaceutical and chemical industries because this would be essential for the 'New Ordnung' or 'New Order'. Among the 750 corporations that received the money, one of the principle recipients was Merck and Co. ... Merck has remained a major biological weapons contractor for CIA's top secret project NKNaomi, and Kissinger has remained all these years a major consultant to Merck. Two of the most important financial contributors to world population reduction have been the Merck Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation ... "


DEADLINE investigation redux:

Boston University and UMDNJ along side Schering Plough along pharmaceutical research firm and institutes like Kintex Hauptmanwoodward can all identified as key recipients of Department of Defence funding. Kintex, Schering Plough and Hauptman-Woodward can also be identified as financial supporters of the Niagara Medical Campus Buffolo.

Hauptman-Woodward, gained prominence recently after they were appointed to head a project on how viruses mutate and transfer between animals and humans.

Hauptman-Woodward former chairman is Donald Hess, the cofounder of Amherst Systems (purchased in 1999 by defence giant Northrop Grumman) who died in a plane crash in November 2008, just three months before his employees Jerome Krasuski, Darren Tolsma Steve Johnston and Ernest West died on Flight 3407.

The three million dollars in federal funding required for Hauptman-Woodward species jumping research can be identified as having come from the 2008 Department of Defence Appropriations Bill.

Hess also served on the board of Kinex Pharmaceutical, whose vice president Dr Allen Barnett is the former vice president of Schering-Plough and, like Hess, a member of the board of the University of Buffalo’s Niagara Medical Campus.

All lab facilities involved in the missing plague cases in Newark and Buffalo have another common link in that they were all designed by CUH2A whose client list includes US Bio Warfare military contractors Abbot Merck, Pfizer, Schering Plough, plus the New Jersey Economic Development Authority who lobbied pharmeseutical firms to set up their hazardous bio research in heavily populated areas.


Ties things up rather nicely. But let's dig a bit further for the pre-history of the Swine (two-legged variety) Flu ...

- AC
Time Machine, 1976 ...

"Wallace: Where did this so called "deadly variety of flu", where did it first hit back in 1976? It began right here at Fort Dix in New Jersey in January of that year, when a number of recruits began to complain of respiratory ailments, something like the common cold. ... "


MIKE WALLACE: The flu season is upon us. Which type will we worry about this year, and what kind of shots will we be told to take? Remember the swine flu scare of 1976? That was the year the U.S. government told us all that swine flu could turn out to be a killer that could spread across the nation, and Washington decided that every man, woman and child in the nation should get a shot to prevent a nation-wide outbreak, a pandemic.

Well, 46 million of us obediently took the shot, and now 4,000 Americans are claiming damages from Uncle Sam amounting to three and a half billion dollars because of what happened when they took that shot. By far the greatest number of the claims - two thirds of them are for neurological damage, or even death, allegedly triggered by the flu shot.

We pick up the story back in 1976, when the threat posed by the swine flu virus seemed very real indeed.

PRESIDENT GERALD FORD; This virus was the cause of a pandemic in 1918 and 1919 that resulted in over half a million deaths in the United States, as well as 20 million deaths around the world.

WALLACE: Thus the U.S. government's publicity machine was cranked into action to urge all America to protect itself against the swine flu menace. (Excerpt from TV commercial urging everyone to get a swine flu shot.) One of those who did roll up her sleeve was Judy Roberts. She was perfectly healthy, an active woman, when, in November of 1976, she took her shot. Two weeks later, she says, she began to feel a numbness starting up her legs.

JUDY ROBERTS: And I joked about it at that time. I said I'll be numb to the knees by Friday if this keeps up. By the following week, I was totally paralyzed.

WALLACE: So completely paralyzed, in fact, that they had to operate on her to enable her to breathe. And for six months, Judy Roberts was a quadriplegic. The diagnosis: A neurological disorder called "Guillian-Barre Syndrome" - GBS for short. These neurological diseases are little understood. They affect people in different ways.

As you can see in these home movies taken by a friend, Judy Roberts' paralysis confined her mostly to a wheelchair for over a year. But this disease can even kill. Indeed, there are 300 claims now pending from the families of GBS victims who died, alledgedly as a result of the swine flu shot. In other GBS victims, the crippling effects diminish and all but disappear. But for Judy Roberts, progress back to good health has been painful and partial.

Now, I notice that your smile, Judy, is a little bit constricted.

ROBERTS: Yes, it is.

WALLACE: Is it different from what it used to be?

ROBERTS: Very different, I have a – a greatly decreased mobility in my lips. AndI can't drink through a straw on the right-band side. I can't blow out birthday candles. I don't whistle any more, for which my husband is grateful.

WALLACE: It may be a little difficult for you to answer this question, but have you recovered as much as you are going to recover?

ROBERTS: Yes. This - this is it.

WALLACE: So you will now have a legacy of braces on your legs for the rest of your life?

ROBERTS: Yes. The weakness in my hands will stay and the leg braces will stay.

WALLACE: So Judy Roberts and her husband have filed a claim against the U.S. government. They're asking $12 million, though they don't expect to get nearly that much. Judy, why did you take the flu shot?

ROBERTS: I'd never taken any other flu shots, but I felt like this was going to be a major epidemic, and the only way to prevent a major epidemic of a - a really deadly variety of flu was for every body to be immunized.

WALLACE: Where did this so called "deadly variety of flu", where did it first hit back in 1976? It began right here at Fort Dix in New Jersey in January of that year, when a number of recruits began to complain of respiratory ailments, something like the common cold. An Army doctor here sent samples of their throat cultures to the New Jersey Public Health Lab to find our just what kind of bug was going around here. One of those samples was from a Private David Lewis, who had left his sick bed to go on a forced march. Private Lewis had collapsed on that march, and his sergeant had revived him by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But the sergeant showed no signs of illness. A few days later, Private Lewis died.

ROBERTS: If this disease is so potentially fatal that it's going to kill a young, healthy man, a middle-aged schoolteacher doesn't have a prayer.

WALLACE: The New Jersey lab identified most of those solders' throat cultures as the normal kind of flu virus going around that year, but they could not make out what kind of virus was in the culture from the dead soldier, and from four others who were sick. So they sent those cultures to the Federal Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, for further study. A few days later they got the verdict: swine flu. But that much-publicized outbreak of swine flu at Fort Dix involved only Private Lewis, who died, and those four other soldiers, who recovered completely without the swine flu shot.

ROBERTS: If I had known at that time that the boy had been in a sick bed, got up, went out on a forced march and then collapsed and died, I would never have taken the shot.

DR DAVID SENCER: The rationale for our recommendation was not on the basis of the death of a - a single individual, but it was on the basis that when we do see a change in the characteristics of the influenza virus, it is a massive public-health problem in the country.

WALLACE: Dr David Sencer, then head of the CDS - the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta - is now in private industry. He devised the swine flu program and he pushed it.

You began to give flu shots to the American people in October of '76?

DR SENCER: October 1st.

WALLACE: By that time, how many cases of swine flu around the world had been reported?

DR SENCER: There had been several reported, but none confirmed. There had been cases in Australia that were reported by the press, by the news media. There were cases in -

WALLACE: None confirmed? Did you ever uncover any other outbreaks of swine flu anywhere in the world?


WALLACE: Now, nearly everyone was to receive a shot in a public health facility where a doctor might not be present, therefore it was up to the CDC to come up with some kind of official consent form giving the public all the information it needed about the swine flu shot. This form stated that the swine flu vaccine had been tested. What it didn't say was that after those tests were completed, the scientists developed another vaccine and that it was the one given to most of the 46 million who took the shot. That vaccine was called "X-53a". Was X-53a ever field tested?

DR SENCER: I-I can't say. I would have to -

WALLACE: It wasn't

DR SENCER: I don't know

WALLACE: Well, I would think that you're in charge of the program

DR SENCER: 1 would have to check the records. I haven't looked at this in some time.

WALLACE: The information form the consent form was also supposed to warn people about any risk of serious complications following the shot. But did it?

ROBERTS: No, I had never heard of any reactions other than a sore arm, fever, this sort of thing.

WALLACE: Judy Roberts' husband, Gene, also took the shot.

GENE ROBERTS: Yes, I looked at that document, I signed it. Nothing on there said I was going to have a heart attack, or I can get Guillain Barre, which I'd never heard of.

WALLACE: What if people from the government, from the Center for Disease Control, what if they had indeed, known about it, what would be your feeling?

JUDY ROBERTS: They should have told us.

WALLACE: Did anyone ever come to you and say, "You know something, fellows, there's the possibility of neurological damage if you get into a mass immunization program?"


WALLACE: No one ever did?


WALLACE: Do you know Michael Hattwick?

DR SENCER: Yes, uh-hmm.

WALLACE: Dr Michael Hattwick directed the surveillance team for the swine flu program at the CDC. His job was to find out what possible complications could arise from taking the shot and to report his findings to those in charge. Did you know ahead of time, Dr Hattwick that there had been case reports of neurological disorders, neurological illness, apparently associated with the injection of influenza vaccine?


WALLACE: You did?


WALLACE: How did you know that?

DR HATrwICK: By review of the literature.

WALLACE: So you told your superiors - the men in charge of the swine flu immunization program - about the possibility of neurological disorders?

DR RATTWICK: Absolutely

WALLACE: What would you say if I told you that your superiors say that you never told them about the possibility of neurological complications?

DR HAJTWICK: That's nonsense. I can't believe that they would say that they did not know that there were neurological illnesses associated with influenza vaccination. That simply is not true. We did know that.

DR SENCER: I have said that Dr Hattwick had never told me of his feelings on this subject.

WALLACE: Then he's lying?

DR SENCER: I guess you would have to make that assumption.

WALLACE: Then why does this report from your own agency, dated July 1976, list neurological complications as a possibility?

DR SENCER: I think the consensus of the scientific community was that the evidence relating neurologic disorders to influenza immunization was such that they did not feel that this association was a real one.

WALLACE: You didn't feel it was necessary to tell the American people that information

DR SENCER: I think that over the - the years we have tried to inform the American people as - as fully as possible.

WALLACE: As part of informing Americans about the swine flu threat, Dr Sencer's CDC also helped create the advertising to get the public to take the shot. Let me read to your from one of your own agency's memos planning the campaign to urge Americans to take the shot. "The swine flu vaccine has been taken by many important persons," he wrote. "Example: President Ford, Henry Kissinger, Elton John, Muhammad Ah, Mary Tyler Moore, Rudolf Nureyev, Walter Cronkite, Ralph Nader, Edward Kennedy" -etcetera, etcetera, True?

DR SENCER: I'm not familiar with that particular piece of paper, but I do know that, at least of that group, President Ford did take the vaccination.

WALLACE: Did you talk to these people beforehand to find out if they planned to take the shot?

DR SENCER: I did not, no.

WALLACE: Did anybody?

DR SENC ER: I do not know.

WALLACE: Did you get permission to use their names in your campaign?

DR SENCER: I do not know.

WALLACE: Mary, did you take a swine flu shot?

MARY TYLER MOORE: No, I did not.

WALLACE: Did you give them permission to use your name saying that you had or were going to?

MOORE: Absolutely not. Never did.

WALLACE: Did you ask your own doctor about taking the swine flu shot?

MOORE: Yes, and at the time he thought it might be a good idea. But I resisted it, because I was leery of having the symptoms that sometimes go with that kind of inoculation.

WALLACE: So you didn't?

MOORE: No, I didn't.

WALLACE: Have you spoken to your doctor since?



MOORE: He's delighted that I didn't take that shot.

WALLACE: You're in charge. Somebody's in charge.

DR SENCER: There are -

WALLACE: This is your advertising strategy that I have a copy of here.

DR SENCER: Who's it signed by?

WALLACE: This one is unsigned. But you--you'll acknowledge that it was your baby so to speak?

DR SENCER: It could have been from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. It could be from CDC. I don't know. I'll be happy to take responsibility for it.

WALLACE: It's been three years now since you fell ill by GBS right?


WALLACE: Has the federal government, in your estimation, played fair with you about your claim?

ROBERTS: No, I don't think so. It seems to be dragging on and on and on, and really no end in sight that I can see at this point.

JOSEPH CALIFANO: With respect to the cases of Guillain Barre...

WALLACE: Former Secretary of HEW Joseph Caifano, too was disturbed that there was no end in sight. So a year and a half ago, he proposed that Uncle Sam would cut the bureaucratic red tape for victims suffering from GBS and would pay up quickly.

CALIFANO: We shouldn't hold them to an impossible or too difficult standard of proving that they were hurt. Even if we pay a few people a few thousand dollars that might not have deserved it, I think justice requires that we promptly pay those people who do deserve it.

WALLACE: Who's making the decision to be so hard-nosed about settling?

CALIFANO: Well, I assume the Justice Department is.

WALLACE: Griffin Bell, before he left?

CALIFANO: Well, the Justice Department agreed to the statement I made. It was cleared word for word with the lawyers in the Justice Department by my HEW lawyers.

CALIFANO: That-that statement said that we should pay Guillain Barre claims without regard to whether the federal government was negligent, if they - if they resulted from the swine flu shot.

GENE ROBERTS: I think the government knows its wrong.

JUDY ROBERTS: If it drags out long enough, that people will just give up, let it go.

GENE ROBERTS: I—I am a little more adament in my thoughts than my wife is, because I asked - told Judy to take the shot. She wasn't going to take it, and she never had had shots. And I'm mad with my government because they knew the fact, but they didn't realise those facts because they - if they had released them, the people wouldn't have taken it. And they can come out tomorrow and tell me there's going to be an epidemic, and they can drop off like flies to - next to me, I will not take another shot that my government tells me to take.

WALLACE: Meantime, Judy Roberts and some 4,000 others like her are still waiting for their day in court.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Enablers of Fascism: Right-wing blogs claim "Americans don't want an investigation of how the Bush administration treated terrorism suspects"

No Nazi Left Behind: Obviously, I don't agree with this Good German garbage. The far-right is running on desperation, and makes all kinds of ridiculous, McCainesque claims these days. Rasmussen Reports is citing the results of its own telephone survey, and Lord knows how many statistical outrages were committed to achieve these distorted numbers. Who did Rasmussen call? The Cheney family? - AC

Americans believe Obama's release of CIA memos endangers national security
April 24, 2009

Rasmussen finds 58% of Americans believe the Obama administration’s recent release of CIA memos endangers the national security of the United States.

Sizable majorities of Republicans and unaffiliated voters say the release of the CIA memos about the interrogations hurts national security. Democrats are evenly divided on whether the release hurt national security or helped the image of the United States abroad.

Other findings:

Americans don't want an investigation of how the Bush administration treated terrorism suspects. Only 28% think the Obama administration should do any further investigating of how the Bush administration treated terrorism suspects. Fifty-eight percent (58%) are opposed. Democrats are evenly divided over whether further investigation is necessary. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Republicans and 62% of voters not affiliated with either major party are against more investigating.

Just 42% of all voters say terrorism suspects were tortured by the United States, unchanged from October 2007. Most Democrats (54%) and a plurality of unaffiliated voters (46%) believe the United States did torture terrorism suspects. Fifty-five percent (55%) of Republican voters do not believe torture was used.

No wonder President Obama is now backing away from investigating the Bush Administration.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hugo Chavez Donates Island to New Jersey

Leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met President Barack Obama recently at the Summit of the Americas. Chavez gave Obama a book about colonialism in Latin America and an island. Petty's Island is home to a fuel-storage center used by Venezuela-owned CITGO.

Well, Chavez gave it back, and it's going to be a nature preserve, specifically preserving two bald eagles. That's not the only good thing about the return of the island to U.S. ownership, though. The island is a part of Pennsauken Township, NJ, and, according to their web site, the pirate Blackbeard parked his pirate ship there whenever he wanted to hang out in Philadelphia. Consequently, we think a few acres for a piracy museum isn't too much to ask.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baltimore: Left-Wing Protest at the Mayo Shattuck Estate

Protesters say: ‘No to utility shutoffs’ - "Power 4 the People, a committee of the Bail Out the People Movement—which marched April 3-4 against the big banks on Wall Street—along with the Coalition to Re-regulate BGE and the Network to Stop Foreclosures & Evictions marched on the lavish Baltimore home of Constellation/BGE (Baltimore Gas & Electric) CEO Mayo Shattuck on April 6. ... "

Review - The Kissinger Saga: Walter and Henry Kissinger by Evi Kurz

Note: I don't recommend this book - it glosses over Kissinger's Nazi/CIC/CIA collaborations (I'm judging it by the review, however, and may be wrong, but Kissinger's fascist alliances are probably of more significance than piano lessons), one more feather-light propaganda puff-piece for Good Germans, and a waste of petroleum. But it does shed light on Kissinger's formative youth ... and a future war crime tribunal may yet glean insights from it.

- AC

" ... Evidently what Kissinger has avoided having to remember was the trauma of his escape from the Nazis. Indeed, when Kurz succeeds in getting him before her cameras, he 'turns as white as chalk' when the subject comes up. ... "

Roger Lewis explores Henry Kissinger's surprising past in Evi Kurz's account of his years in Germany in The Kissinger Saga

by Roger Lewis
16 Apr 2009

With his horn-rimmed glasses, dark suits and generally lugubrious demeanour, it is plain to see how Dr Kissinger, the Presidential National Security Advisor, was the chief inspiration for Peter Sellers’ Dr Strangelove – who, as the world is about to end, gleefully informs the bigwigs in the bunker that nuclear annihilation won’t be too bad: “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. I am saying only 10 to 20 million people killed, tops, depending upon the breaks.”

Despite spending his adult life in America, Kissinger hasn’t lost or modified his sonorous Teutonic accent, “perhaps because he never wanted to,” according to Evi Kurz, in this fascinating and suggestive biography. Though he has ascended to great heights in the US – having been Nixon’s Secretary of State and the chairman, advisor or director of everything from the Chase Manhattan Bank to NBC and American Express – Kissinger remains the immigrant German: courtly, enigmatic, theatrical and somewhat furtive. There is nothing open or benign about his personality – his cunning commands respect, but not affection.

It was Evi Kurz’s intention to make a documentary about Kissinger’s early life for Bayerischer Rundfunk. For years she deluged her quarry with emails, letters and phone calls, but Kissinger always postponed an interview at the last minute. It became clear that his days were deliberately crammed with appointments so as to ensure he’d leave himself no time for private reflection. Even in his eighties, Kissinger’s diary contains back-to-back 20-minute meetings.

Evi Kurz’s brainwave was to investigate Kissinger through his more amenable younger brother, Walter, a successful businessman – a ranch in Colorado, an estate on Long Island, and so on. Walter, who called Kissinger by his original name of Heinz, provided the author with family documents and background information. Evidently what Kissinger has avoided having to remember was the trauma of his escape from the Nazis. Indeed, when Kurz succeeds in getting him before her cameras, he “turns as white as chalk” when the subject comes up.

Heinz Alfred Kissinger, remembered by relatives as “a great fat devil with lots of hair”, was born in the Bavarian town of Fürth in 1923. Here there was a substantial Jewish population, who ran the factories producing gilded mirrors and optical instruments. The Kissingers were weavers and traders, who had lived in the region for generations. Louis, Heinz and Walter’s father, trained to be a teacher, but just as he became senior master at the Helene-Lange-Gymnasium, Hitler came to power.

Jews were banned from the civil service and the military. Public educational institutions were closed to Jews, their businesses were boycotted, and the Reich Citizen Law deprived them of the right to vote. Heinz and Walter were forced to leave their school and Louis was “permanently retired”. Oddly he was to receive a full pension, which carried on being paid until his death in 1982.

The Kissingers’ bourgeois existence (piano lessons, theatre visits) abruptly ceased. Non‑Jewish neighbours turned their backs. It was Louis’s wife, Paula, who insisted that the family leave for a new life in America. On August 10 1938 they sailed from Le Havre to New York. It was a narrow escape: in November, Fürth’s synagogues were destroyed and the inhabitants of the Jewish orphanage were deported. By 1942, Louis and Paula’s siblings, and Kissinger cousins who had remained behind, believing that because they had been decorated during the First World War they would be immune, had all been sent to the gas chambers.

The refugees settled in the Bronx. Louis got a job in the accounts office of a shaving brush factory. In 1944, Heinz, now Henry, was sent back to Europe as an American soldier, part of a counter-intelligence section of an infantry regiment. Walter became a captain in Korea. On his return, Henry went to Harvard and obtained a doctorate for a thesis about Napoleon. As a young professor, he ran a study group on nuclear weapons and foreign policy, his work sponsored by Nelson Rockefeller. Hence his entry into the political sphere and – with Sellers and Kubrick – the satirical sphere.

Evi Kurz has discovered that Kissinger, an uneasy American, has been consolidating his ties with his birthplace. In 1998 he was made an honorary citizen of Fürth and has been given gold medals by the town council. He is often seen visiting the Jewish cemetery on Erlanger Strasse, paying homage at family graves. It is not beyond imagining that he will move back, for in Bavaria are his roots, and his identity.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jeppeson Renditions: CIA Memo Disclosure Undermines Government's "National Security" Argument

" ... The administration's chief rationale for dismissing the suit 'no longer exists' ... "

Lawyer tells Court CIA Memos Undermine Case
Bob Egelko, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
April 21, 2009

Foreign prisoners who accused a Bay Area company of arranging torture flights for the CIA told a federal appeals court Tuesday that the Obama administration's disclosure of memos on brutal CIA interrogations undermined its claim that their lawsuit would endanger national secrets.

The administration's chief rationale for dismissing the suit "no longer exists, because the (interrogation) methods are now public, and because they have been prohibited," Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing five current and former U.S. prisoners, said in a filing with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The five men accuse Jeppesen Dataplan, a San Jose subsidiary of the Boeing Co., of colluding with the CIA in their kidnapping and torture in a practice known as extraordinary rendition. ...


The Trouble With Eric Holder

posted by JOHN NICHOLS

Quick! Name the veteran Department of Justice insider who, shortly after the USA Patriot Act was signed into law and at a point when the Bush administration was proposing to further erode barriers to governmental abuses, argued that dissenters should not be tolerated?

Who invoked September 11, explicitly referencing "the World Trade Center aflame," in calling for the firing of any "petty bureaucrat" who might suggest that proper procedures be followed and that the separation of powers be respected?

John Ashcroft? No.

Alberto Gonzales? No.

It was Eric Holder, the man who has reportedly been selected by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States.

Appearing on CNN in June, 2002, the former Clinton administration Justice Department aide sounded as if he had just stepped out of the Bush camp: "We're dealing with a different world now. Everybody should remember those pictures that we saw on September the 11th. The World Trade Centers aflame, the pictures of the Pentagon, and any time some petty bureaucrat decides that his or her little piece of turf is being invaded, get rid of that person. Those are the kinds of things we have to do."

If that's unsettling, consider the fact that Holder was part of the legal team that in 2005 developed strategies for securing re-authorization of the Patriot Act.

Much will be made of Holder's role as a deputy attorney general in helping former President Clinton arrange for the last-minute pardon of fugitive/Democratic campaign contributor Marc Rich. (Holder said he gave Clinton a "neutral, leaning towards favorable" opinion of the proposed pardon.) And it will also be noted that Holder, as a corporate lawyer in private practice after leaving the Clinton team, played a key role in negotiating an agreement with the Justice Department that got Chiquita Brands International executives off the hook for paying protection money to right-wing death squads in Colombia.

But the first questions for Holder should go to the issue of his attitude toward the role of the attorney general in defending the Constitution. Holder's defenders will point to some eloquent speeches he has given, including one he delivered in June to the American Constitutional Society. In that speech, the former deputy attorney general condemned the Bush administration's "disastrous course" set by the Bush administration on issues such as torture and the practice of rendition.

"Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the ‘War on Terror' have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe," Holder said, correctly. "For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America's standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights."

That's a good message, to be sure.

But it must be juxtaposed against past statements made by Holder, such as this one: "The Attorney General is the one Cabinet member who's different from all the rest. The Attorney General serves first the people, but also serves the president. There has to be a closeness at the same time there needs to be distance."

What we need to know is this: How close would Holder, as attorney general, get to obeying his oath to defend the Constitution?

The place for that to happen is in a very serious, very aggressive confirmation process that should not simply presume that Holder will "get it" when questions about the Constitution arise.


CIA Torture & the Nuremberg Code: Apologies to Good Germans?

" ... Attorney General Eric Holder says it’s 'unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women ... for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department,' but he fails to note these very CIA agents requested said authority in order to engage in what all but the most insidious parsing of legal thought recognizes as torture... "

Obama Stands Nuremberg on Its Head
by Mike Farrell
Apr 20, 2009


... “Good Germans who were only following orders” are not exempt from the bar of justice. Individuals must be held responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Justice Robert Jackson, chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, declared in his opening statement to the tribunal that the men charged “represent sinister influence that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust. They are living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power.”

The arrogance and cruelty of CIA officers who torture and brutalize helpless prisoners are not expunged just because, as Obama said, they “carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice.” Attorney General Eric Holder says it’s “unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department,” but he fails to note these very CIA agents requested said authority in order to engage in what all but the most insidious parsing of legal thought recognizes as torture. ...

The cover-up mentality of the Good German press: "Time to put interrogations behind U.S.": " ... We agree with the decision by the Obama administration to defend CIA officials and employees in any legal proceedings related to the government's interrogation program if the method used didn't cause permanent damage. ... "

" ... There is no immunity from murder, as the Tribunal in Nuremberg stated in 1945. Thus we are obliged to follow through and bring George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld et. al. to justice and to punish them to the full extent of the law ... "

If just saying sorry will suffice, the Nazis could have gotten away with murder

April 19, 2009

VHeadline commentarist Kenneth T. Tellis writes: When memos of the crimes of torture and other illegal methods are exposed by the Obama regime and then shielded by order of the President, it is quite clear that the very government of the United States of America is no different to the mob that runs crime in America.

The former Bush regime went about gutting all norms and international agreements, by virtue of the fact that it could use threats of violence against any nation which pursued that course.

We are therefore reminded that neither the Bush regime nor the present one under Barack Obama is any different to the Nazis or the Soviets that the US government in the past condemned as War Criminals ... there is only one standard of justice which should apply to all nations.

It is now incumbent upon us to pursue a course that will bring about the trial of the CIA (US War Criminals) and their partners in crime, the Obama regime, to justice at an international neutral venue. That way, at least, we can be a part of a system of justice which does not permit anyone to break the law and profit from it as was done by the Bush regime for eight long years in which hundreds of people were tortured, killed and 'disappeared' under very mysterious circumstances. But that still does not account for the murder of close to two million Iraqis at the hands of the US Shutzstafeln, also called the Marines.

There is no immunity from murder, as the Tribunal in Nuremberg stated in 1945. Thus we are obliged to follow through and bring George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld et. al. to justice and to punish them to the full extent of the law ... just as those Nazis in Germany received at Nuremberg in 1945.

If just saying sorry will suffice, then the Nazis could have gotten away with murder. So whatever the excuse President Barack Obama, no member of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government agency that committed crimes against humanity, should be given immunity from prosecution.

Kenneth T. Tellis


Monday, April 20, 2009

Movement to Impeach Judge Jay Bybee Gaining Steam


The latest Office of Legal Counsel torture memos released last week have led to calls for further investigation and criminal prosecution of former Bush administration officials. But increasingly, lawmakers, newspapers and advocacy groups are demanding the impeachment of Jay Bybee, the author of some of those memos who is now a federal judge comfortably ensconced in a life-tenured seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Yesterday, as journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates were still digesting the details of some of the grisly CIA interrogation techniques set out and justified in the four most recently released legal memos, The New York Times called for Bybee’s removal, saying he “is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution.”

Today, Rep. Jerold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee followed suit and told The Huffington Post that the memo Bybee wrote justifying the CIA abuses “was not an honest legal memo. It was an instruction manual on how to break the law.”

This isn’t the first time critics have called on Congress to get rid of Bybee. Back in January, Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman called for Bybee’s impeachment in Slate.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is now using the growing momentum to call on its supporters to write to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the House Judiciary Committee chairman, to “demand they hold a hearing to determine whether grounds exist for Bybee’s impeachment.”

So could it happen?

Although federal judgeships are considered lifetime appointments, Article III of the U.S. Constitution provides only that judges “shall hold their Offices during good Behavior.” And it’s up to Congress to define that.

Still, impeachment is rare: only 13 federal judges have ever been impeached, and it hasn’t happened in about 20 years.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chanel and the Nazis - What Coco Avant Chanel and Other Films don't Tell You

Not just another pretty face - Murdoch's business partner in Australia was a Mafia kingpin, and his closest friend stateside is the CIA ...

This story ran in the London Times, a Murdoch propaganda mill. While it is inconceivable that pro-fascist News Corp. would ever dig too deeply to report factually on covert American and British trade with the Nazis (Fox News blacklists, silences and heaps scorn on anyone informed on this topic), they do continually point to France's Quislings. This gives Murdoch-owned media outlets the false appearance of opposition to fascism, and promotes a xeonphobic, geopolitical finger-pointing mentality central to right-wing nationalism. So I haven't lost my mind by posting a Times story - the paper is a valuable resource on French collaborators ... and little else, IMhO. - AC

By Kate Muir
April 4, 2009

Why is Coco Chanel getting a free pass on her collaboration with the Nazis? Her past was deeply compromised

As we gear up for cultural Chanel-mania this summer with two hagiographic films about the designer, a new biography and the sound of slavering from glossy magazines, it is worth pausing to investigate Coco Chanel's wholesale - and retail - involvement with the Nazis.

The world's greatest fashionista may have rescued women from the corset, but she did not have a good war. When shoppers swoon over the iconic quilted handbag with the CC logo, most are unaware that Chanel once went to Berlin to plot with Walter Schellenberg, who wore his Waffen SS logo as Hitler's chief of foreign intelligence.

Perhaps Chanel-lovers also have no idea that she tried to wrest control of her perfume manufacturing from a Jewish family, taking advantage of pro-Aryan laws. Or that she was arrested for war crimes - and then mysteriously released.

Previously, I'd seen it mentioned that Chanel had survived the war rather comfortably at the Paris Ritz in the arms of a Nazi officer, Hans Gunther von Dincklage, and then gone into exile in Switzerland with him, but a few hours spent in the library revealed that she was far more deeply involved with the Germans than that. There was even a (somewhat ridiculous) Nazi plot, using Chanel as bait, called “Operation Modelhut”.

Why there's no true story of Coco Chanel

None of this will be discussed, of course, in two upcoming biographical films: Coco Avant Chanel, starring Audrey Tautou, and Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, with Anna Mouglalis, about Chanel's relationship with the Russian composer. Nor was it detailed in a Chanel television mini-series with Shirley MacLaine last year, or in the 1981 film Chanel Solitaire. With commercial good sense, all films avoid the German invasion of Paris and Chanel's collaboration. It's a case of “Don't Mention The War!"

Time heals, but sometimes it's worth opening the wound again when a reputation suddenly appears to be sanitised. While Chanel's biographer, Edmonde Charles-Roux, says her style genius “consisted in being incorruptibly sober and pure”, her life was less clean-cut. Paris during the occupation was a compromising and uncomfortable place for other artists and writers, who tended to keep their heads down: “Oh, I am not looking for risks to take,” said Picasso, her friend, “but in a sort of passive way I do not care to yield to either force or terror.”

Edith Piaf sang in nightclubs for the Nazis. Jean-Paul Sartre said: “Everything we did was equivocal. We never quite knew whether we were doing right or wrong. A subtle poison corrupted even our best actions.”

But Chanel was unequivocal. She decided to place herself snugly in the enemy's bosom, conveniently near to her shop. After the Paris invasion she fled to the country, but returned a year later to demand back her room at the Ritz, which had been commandeered by the Germans. There, aged 56, she shacked up with von Dincklage, a German playboy officer 13 years her junior, who may have been a spy and was known frivolously as “Spatz” or sparrow.

Whatever his role, von Dincklage's coterie brought Chanel into high Nazi circles, yet she remains inexplicably untarnished, unlike Unity Mitford and Diana Mosley. It's hard to tell what the intentions of Operation Modelhut were, but they included the peculiar idea that one of Chanel's friends, who knew Churchill well, would pass a letter from her suggesting that there should be secret negotiations to end the war. Chanel - who had met Churchill once or twice at social events - obviously saw herself as a heroic figure in this.

Schellenberg was interrogated by the British after the war concerning the visit in 1943 from “Frau Chanel, a French subject and proprietress of the noted perfume factory”. According to the transcript: “This woman was referred to as a person Churchill knew sufficiently to undertake political negations with him, as an enemy of Russia and as desirous of helping France and Germany whose destinies she believed to be closely linked together.” Operation Modelhut fell apart, and the mutual friend of Churchill and Chanel denounced her as a German agent.

It seems to me that Chanel bent to the times, always intent on survival. The French call this Système D, or système débrouillard, which means getting round the rules somehow. As Charles-Roux notes, “playing refugee was not her style”, hence Chanel's move to the Nazi-infested Ritz. Who else could afford to buy her perfume? Later, when the law banned Jews from owning companies, she tried to depose the Wertheimer family who manufactured her scents. And towards the end of the war, as the Germans looked less than victorious, Chanel revived her largely imaginary friendship with Churchill.

After the war, thousands of the collaboratrices horizontales - sexual collaborators - had their hair shorn in public humiliations, yet Chanel was arrested and soon released, though no one knows exactly who among the Allies protected her. Was it her connection with the Duke of Westminster? There's no proof, except that Chanel and her perfume royalties went into exile in Switzerland for a decade, because she was most definitely not wanted at home.

Chanel made a comeback in 1956. The French papers panned her collection as old hat: she was not forgiven. But across the Atlantic, the Americans just loved those bags and little black dresses. Sales grew, Chanel was rehabilitated, and history faded away. Now she is merely a brand in Karl Lagerfeld's hands.

In his fascinating book, The Shameful Peace, Frederic Spotts notes that “the occupation was merciless in exposing character”. Keep that in mind - or, if you do go to the Chanel films this summer, turn off your mobile phones, forget Chanel's compromised past and enjoy the show.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Sale of Nazi Housewife Magazines

A collection of the official women's magazine of the Nazis could fetch up to £700 when it goes up for sale at an auction next week. - news.bbc.co.uk

Hitler's Painting of Black Cat to be Auctioned

www.telegraph.co.uk, 16 Apr 2009: A painting of a cat by the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler has been unveiled as the latest piece among a collection of works to be auctioned later this month.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Essay for a Post-Opus Dei United States

Excerpt by Alexandra Pereira
Ovi Magazine
Thursday, 09 April 2009

... Bush was a puppet in the hands of particular groups of interest. Nevertheless, some lessons should be learnt from it all. At least one would think so. But the bitter truth is that US citizens should be warned for the fact that such groups of interest will keep trying hard to move their strings and influence whomever is in power.

Lately, they have been recurrently attacking non-religious citizens and what they call “secularist Europe” – which is, of course, not constructive for transatlantic relationships, and undermines all Obama’s administration efforts. Some notes on these distorted prepositions will be helpful and clarifying.

The assertion according to which only Europe and non-religious people inside Europe are secularist is deeply wrong. For a start, secularism was introduced in the West and Europe in the place (modern day Spain) where centuries later Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, was born by Islamic philosophers, namely the Almoravid-Almohad Averroes, or Ibn Rushd, who came from a family of law scholars who had collaborated with several caliphs for generations before that.

And you can ask: but isn’t Islam the faith of the Sharia? My answer will be: not really, or not only. Actually, you understand very little of Islam and Islamic faith if you fail to understand this: Islam is not one, but multiple – this multiplicity is the heart and core of Islam. Needless to say, where there is multiplicity, there is space for the Other – this space was literally emotional and physical as Catholics, Berbers, Jews and Muslims lived inside the same towns and married each other in parts of Europe, under the caliphs, many centuries ago.

Second, we should never, ever forget these observations: there are plenty of religious secularists, just the same way as atheist non-secularist people exist. This should be a strong sign indicating that any tempting Manichaean ideas are wrong. Finally, secularism can be simply defined as “the belief that religion and ecclesiastical affairs should not enter into the functions or services provided by the state, or that they should not have influence or determine a state’s duties and the way it treats or relates to its citizens”.

Holyoake, a British secularism pioneer advanced many years ago that “Secularism is not an argument against Christianity, it is one independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of Christianity; it advances others. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, and act forever.” I can see nothing wrong with that – but I understand that particular faith-related radical and militant interests can, not only the ones related with Opus Dei, but with many other Christian groups which move interests and hundreds of millions of dollars in the United States every year.

Alexandra Pereira
Ovi Magazine, Finland

Nazi Origins of Adidas and Puma Tennis Shoes

Sneakers, Nazis, and a Family Feud
Two German brothers—and their communities—battled each other to build the Puma and Adidas empires

Review of Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud that Forever Changed the Business of Sport

By Barbara Smit
Business Week
Ecco; 384pp; $26.95

The term "sibling rivalry" doesn't quite do justice to the relationship between German shoemaking brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler, proprietors of the German athletic-shoe enterprise known as Dassler Brothers. During World War II, Rudolf was convinced that Adolf, better known as "Adi," contrived to have him sent to serve with German forces in Poland. After the German surrender, Rudolf retaliated by denouncing Adi to the Allies for allegedly assisting the Nazi war effort.

Bizarrely, the bickering brothers continued to share a villa, with their wives and children, in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach until 1948, when Rudolf and employees loyal to him formed a rival shoe company called Puma. Adi renamed his outfit Adidas (ADDYY). So great was the animosity between the brothers that the whole town became embroiled. Residents declared their loyalty to either Adidas or Puma according to the shoes they wore and sometimes refused to speak to members of the other side.

The epic feud shaped not only the shoe industry but also the relationship between sports and business. Both brothers and, later, their sons, realized that getting star athletes to wear their shoes was crucial to sales. Flouting Olympic rules, they showered potential medalists with cash and swag. The Dasslers can take much of the credit, or blame, for turning the Olympics into the marketing circus it is today.

It's a great story, unevenly told in Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud that Forever Changed the Business of Sport by Dutch journalist Barbara Smit. The book eventually finds its footing, but the early chapters are poorly paced and full of loose ends. Recounting Rudolf's war years, for example, Smit first seems to accept his postwar assertion that he was arrested by the Gestapo for suspected desertion in the final weeks of the war. Then later she raises the possibility that he was in fact working for the Gestapo. A better writer would have handled the contradictory evidence more gracefully.

Certainly, neither brother was a saint. Both joined the Nazi Party soon after Hitler took power, although their first allegiance seems to have been to the shoe business. (Adi worked hard to get star athlete Jesse Owens to wear his spikes at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, even though the Nazis reviled the black American.) After Adi and Rudolf split, they and their successors stopped at nothing to undermine each other. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Adidas managers contrived to get Puma shoes impounded by Mexican customs and may even have arranged for a Puma rep to be arrested and jailed.

As if the Puma-Adidas rivalry weren't enough, Rudolf and Adi couldn't even get along with their own offspring. Adi's estranged son, Horst, established a parallel company in France, using the Adidas name but offering a separate product line, competing for orders, and even spying on the Herzogenaurach faction.

Despite all the internal conflicts, Adidas and Puma rode the postwar sports boom to riches. They saw the potential of the U.S. market and signed athletes such as Joe Namath, the quarterback for the New York Jets who wore dazzling white Puma boots on the field.

The Adidas-Puma rivalry may even have fired the brothers' competitive spirit and contributed to their success. But their preoccupation with each other also seems to have left them exposed to newcomer Nike (NKE) in the 1970s. Nike's rise drove Adidas from a 60% market share in the U.S. to only 2.5% at the beginning of the '90s. The heirs of Adi and Rudolf eventually lost control of both Adidas and Puma.

Luckily for Smit, the owners and managers who followed were no less colorful. Smit's narrative improves considerably as the book proceeds, possibly because there are more living witnesses to provide the lively detail lacking in early chapters.

Smit is not one to draw business-case lessons from her tale. But a reader may come away with a new appreciation for the MBA-style professionalism at the top of Adidas and Puma today. Current Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer and Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz are both marketing professionals who have delivered stability and growth—even if they don't make such juicy copy as their companies' founders.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Cocaine & Sex at Bush's Department of the Interior

" ... One employee told investigators that [Greg] Smith directed her to purchase cocaine for him during normal MMS [Minerals Management Services] business hours, and Smith used the term 'office supplies' when discussing cocaine while at work.' ... "

Interior Officials Could Still Face Prosecution For Ethical Misconduct
By Zachary Roth
January 29, 2009

The list of Bush administration officials who could now face prosecution for their misdeeds over the last eight years doesn't only include those who authorized harsh tactics in the War on Terror.

Yesterday, Ken Salazar, the Interior Secretary, said at a White House briefing that he planned to reopen probes into a web of ethical misconduct at the department's Minerals Management Service, which included employees accepting gifts from, and having sex with, representatives of the oil and gas companies they were supposed to be regulating.

Reports by the department's Inspector General recommended that two MMS managers implicated in the scandal be prosecuted. But the Bush Justice Department declined to bring charges, a decision that the IG, Earl Devaney, publicly criticized, telling a congressional committee last September: ''I would have liked a more aggressive approach, and I would have liked to have seen some other people prosecuted here.''

Devaney also complained during his testimony that his report had been incomplete because Chevron -- one of the companies charged with giving gifts to the staffers -- had hired lawyers for six employees implicated in the scandal who later refused to cooperate with the IG' investigation.

One of those who escaped prosecution was Greg Smith, who ran the Denver office of MMS's Royalty in Kind (RIK) program, in which the government forgoes royalties and takes a share of the oil and gas for resale instead. Smith was accused in the reports -- including one special report focused on him -- of coercing two subordinates into sex, doing cocaine with a subordinate, suggesting to other employees that they should lie to investigators, and taking $30,000 from a private company for marketing its services to oil and gas companies.

One employee told investigators that "Smith directed her to purchase cocaine for him during normal MMS business hours, and Smith used the term "office supplies" when discussing cocaine while at work."

Here's another good excerpt:

"The RIK employee recalled that on one occasion in late 2004, Smith telephoned her repeatedly asking for drugs. She said she provided cocaine to him early that evening, but he continued to call her. Eventually, she said, Smith traveled to her house and wanted her to have sex with him. She said he also asked her if she had more cocaine, and she stated that she did not but that someone who was staying with her might. She said Smith obtained crystal methamphetamine from one of these individuals and she watched him snort it off the toaster oven in her kitchen. The RIK employee also said she and Smith engaged in oral sex that evening."

The other official who Devaney recommended prosecuting is accused of less tabloid friendly -- but equally serious -- misdeeds.

Lucy Dennet, a top official of the Minerals Revenue Management office in Washington DC, is accused of helping another MMS employee, Jimmy Mayberry, to create a lucrative MMS contract that benefited him after he left MMS. Mayberry and another former MMS employee, Milton Dial, have already pleaded guilty to creating the deal. Mayberry faces up to five years in prison.

One of the IG reports found:

"In the matter involving Ms. Dennet, Mr. Mayberry and Milton Dial, the results of this investigation paint a disturbing picture of three Senior Executives who were good friends, and who remained calculatedly ignorant of the rules governing post-employment restrictions, conflicts of interest and Federal Acquisition Regulations to ensure that two lucrative MMS contracts would be awarded to the company created by Mr. Mayberry - Federal Business Solutions - and later joined by Mr. Dial. Ms. Dennet manipulated the contracting process from the start. She worked directly with the contracting officer, personally participated on the evaluation team for both contracts, asked for an increase to the first contract amount, and had Mayberry prepare the justification for the contract increase. Ms. Dennet also appears to have shared with Mr. Mayberry the Key Qualification criteria upon which bidders would be judged, two weeks before bid proposals on the first contract were due."

So it looks like Smith and Dennet may not be out of the woods yet.

Salazar also suggested that he'd re-open the investigation into the activities of Steven Griles, the former Deputy Interior Secretary who was convicted of obstructing justice in connection with the Jack Abramoff investigation. More on that to come...


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Book Review: The Third Reich at War

This history of World War II from a German perspective is a superb study of a society at war.

By Terry Hartle | features.csmonitor.com
April 11, 2009 edition

The Third Reich at War By Richard J. Evans The Penguin Press 926 pp., $40.

Several years ago, Richard Evans, the Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, was asked to suggest a good general history of the Third Reich. He couldn’t think of a book to recommend – so he decided to write one himself.

It took him eight years and three volumes. “The Coming of the Third Reich,” published in 2003, recounts the Nazis’ rise to power through a combination of political violence and electoral success. “The Third Reich in Power” (2005) describes how the regime worked and follows its path to war.

Now with The Third Reich at War, Evans provides an exhaustive analysis of every aspect of the Second World War from the German perspective. This superb book is not simply a military history; it is a comprehensive portrait of a society at war.

Evans begins on Sept. 1, 1939 when 60 highly trained German divisions raced across the Polish border. This and the other early victories were the result of “surprise as much as anything.” Eventually the German military machine bogged down. Evans identifies three central turning points: the Nazis’ inability to win the Battle of Britain in 1940, their failure to capture Moscow in 1941, and their catastrophic defeat at Stalingrad in 1942.

More than a single battle or engagement, however, it was the vast economic and human resources that Russia and the United States brought into the conflict that sealed Germany’s doom. Evans contends that most high-ranking Nazis and professional soldiers realized that there was no way they could win the war after Stalingrad. Yet the fighting continued for another two and a half years.

The story ends with desperate warfare in the ruined streets of a Berlin defended by 16- and 17- year-olds who had received only perfunctory training. The casualties were astounding: Evans reports that nearly one-third of all German troops killed during the Second World War died in the last four and a half months of fighting.

“The Third Reich at War” is comprehensive, insightful, and grim. Drawing on official documents, extensive research by other scholars, and a careful review of diaries and records kept by individual Germans – from field marshals to housewives – the book provides as complete a picture as any reader except the most demanding specialist can want. The observations by individual Germans caught up in the war add a compelling human dimension that is rarely seen in such histories. The footnotes and bibliography – which Evans claims is not exhaustive – exceeds 100 pages.

The volume is insightful because Evans provides penetrating observations on every aspect of the war. For example, contrary to popular wisdom, he concludes that the German invasion of Russia began to lose momentum less than a month after it began. Later, he speculates that the Soviet Union’s willingness to sacrifice troops in frontal assaults on entrenched German positions may actually have prolonged the war.

But Evans’s insights are not confined to military matters. On virtually every aspect of German society during the war years he adds thoughtful comments and observations that enrich the analysis.

Finally, the book makes for grim reading because it recounts in numbing detail the systematic racism and violence that were at the heart of everything the Nazis did. And, as the war increasingly went against them, the violence only increased.

Examples and details build upon each other until the reader is almost overwhelmed. The torture, imprisonment, destruction, murder, and mass slaughter Evans recounts were not simply the work of a small number of fanatics. He notes: “These policies were put into action to one degree or another by hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Germans, who were committed to the Nazi cause.”

This book is a masterpiece of historical research and analysis. It is an amazingly complete and thorough assessment of Germany at war and is likely to remain the best study of the Third Reich at war for many years to come. (Readers who want a straightforward military history, however, should look elsewhere. Some military actions get relatively brief treatment – the Normandy invasion, for example, is covered in a single long paragraph.)

But those who want a comprehensive, multi-faceted history will not find a better, more engaging source, thanks to Evans’s willingness to examine the Nazi regime in all its horrible totality.

He sees its history as a cautionary tale of what can happen in any society and rightly predicts that we will remember these lessons for centuries.

He concludes: “The Third Reich raises in the most acute form the possibilities and consequences of the human hatred and destructiveness that exist, even if only in a small way, within all of us. It demonstrates with terrible clarity the ultimate potential of racism, militarism, and authoritarianism…. That is why the Third Reich will not go away.”

Terry Hartle is senior vice president of government relations for the American Council on Education.