Wednesday, April 25, 2018

DNC: Worldwide Defenders of a Free Press and Democracy!!!


truthdig |  Exactly 200 days before the crucial midterm election that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress, the Democratic National Committee filed a 66-page lawsuit that surely cost lots of money and energy to assemble.

Does the lawsuit target purveyors of racist barriers to voting that block and deflect so many people of color from casting their ballots?

No.

Well, perhaps this ballyhooed lawsuit aims to ensure the rights of people who don’t mainly speak English to get full access to voting information?

Unfortunately, no.

Maybe it’s a legal action to challenge the ridiculously sparse voting booths provided in college precincts?

Not that either.

Announced with a flourish by DNC Chair Tom Perez, the civil lawsuit—which reads like a partisan polemic wrapped in legalisms—sues the Russian government, the Trump campaign and operatives, as well as WikiLeaks and its founding editor, Julian Assange.

It’s hard to imagine that many voters in swing districts—who’ll determine whether the GOP runs the House through the end of 2020—will be swayed by the Russia-related accusations contained in the lawsuit. People are far more concerned about economic insecurity for themselves and their families, underscored by such matters as the skyrocketing costs of health care and college education.

To emphasize that “this is a patriotic—not partisan—move,” Perez’s announcement of the lawsuit on April 20 quoted one politician, Republican Sen. John McCain, reaching for the hyperbolic sky: “When you attack a country, it’s an act of war. And so we have to make sure that there is a price to pay, so that we can perhaps persuade the Russians to stop these kind of attacks on our very fundamentals of democracy.”

Setting aside the dangerous rhetoric about “an act of war,” it’s an odd quotation to choose. For Russia, there’s no “price to pay” from a civil lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. As the DNC well knows, any judgment against such entities as the Russian Federation and the general staff of its armed forces would be unenforceable.

The DNC’s lawsuit amounts to doubling down on its fixation of blaming Russia for the Democratic Party’s monumental 2016 loss, at a time when it’s essential to remedy the failed approaches that were major causes of Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the first place. Instead of confronting its fealty to Wall Street or overall failure to side with working-class voters against economic elites, the Democratic National Committee is ramping up the party leadership’s 18-month fixation on Russia Russia Russia.

After a humongous political investment in depicting Vladimir Putin as a pivotal Trump patron and a mortal threat to American democracy, strategists atop the Democratic Party don’t want to let up on seeking a big return from that investment. Protecting the investment will continue to mean opposing the “threat” of détente between the world’s two nuclear superpowers, while giving the party a political stake in thwarting any warming of the current ominously frigid relations between Moscow and Washington.

In truth, the party’s Russia fixation leaves significantly less messaging space for economic and social issues that the vast majority of Americans care about far more. Similarly, the Russia obsession at MSNBC (which routinely seems like “MSDNC”) has left scant airtime for addressing, or even noting, the economic concerns of so many Americans. (For instance, see the data in FAIR’s study, “Russia or Corporate Tax Cuts: Which Would Comcast Rather MSNBC Cover?”)

But even some of the congressional Democrats who’ve been prominent “Russiagate” enthusiasts have recognized that the lawsuit is off track. When Wolf Blitzer on CNN asked a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jackie Speier, whether she believes that Perez and his DNC team “are making a big mistake by filing this lawsuit,” the California congresswoman’s reply was blunt: “Well, I’m not supportive of it. Whether it’s a mistake or not we’ll soon find out.” Speier called the lawsuit “ill-conceived.”

The most unprincipled part of the lawsuit has to do with its targeting of Assange and WikiLeaks. That aspect of the suit shows that the DNC is being run by people whose attitude toward a free press—ironically enough—has marked similarities to Donald Trump’s.

Grasshopper - You Will NEVER Overcome The Money Power!!!


techcrunch |  A new — and theoretical — system for blockchain-based data storage could ensure that hackers will not be able to crack cryptocurrencies once the quantum era starts. The idea, proposed by researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, would secure cryptocurrency futures for decades using a blockchain technology that is like a time machine.


To understand what’s going on here we have to define some terms. A blockchain stores every transaction in a system on what amounts to an immutable record of events. The work necessary for maintaining and confirming this immutable record is what is commonly known as mining. But this technology — which the paper’s co-author Del Rajan claims will make up “10 percent of global GDP… by 2027” — will become insecure in an era of quantum computers.

Therefore the solution to store a blockchain in a quantum era requires a quantum blockchain using a series of entangled photons. Further, Spectrum writes: “Essentially, current records in a quantum blockchain are not merely linked to a record of the past, but rather a record in the past, one that does not exist anymore.”

Yeah, it’s weird.

From the paper intro:
Our method involves encoding the blockchain into a temporal GHZ (Greenberger–Horne–Zeilinger) state of photons that do not simultaneously coexist. It is shown that the entanglement in time, as opposed to an entanglement in space, provides the crucial quantum advantage. All the subcomponents of this system have already been shown to be experimentally realized. Perhaps more shockingly, our encoding procedure can be interpreted as non-classically influencing the past; hence this decentralized quantum blockchain can be viewed as a quantum networked time machine.
In short, the quantum blockchain is immutable because the photons that it contains do not exist at the current time but are still extant and readable. This means the entire blockchain is visible but cannot be “touched” and the only entry you would be able to try to tamper with is the most recent one. In fact, the researchers write, “In this spatial entanglement case, if an attacker tries to tamper with any photon, the full blockchain would be invalidated immediately.”

Is this possible? The researchers note that the technology already exists.

Putting Command, Control, Communications Permanently Out Of Peasant Reach...,


ieee |  Chinese researchers have put forward a new quantum cryptography standard that could, if confirmed, substantially increase the speed of encrypted messages. The proposed new standard has been simulated on computers although not yet tested in the lab.

Quantum cryptography, the next-generation of secret messages whose secrecy is guaranteed by the laws of quantum mechanics, has been in the news recently. Last fall a group from the Chinese Academy of Sciences transmitted quantum cryptographically encoded communications (via satellite) to a ground station in Vienna, Austria.

The communications included quantum-encoded images and a 75-minute quantum-cryptographically secured videoconference, consisting of more than 2 gigabytes of data. IEEE Spectrum reported on the event at the time. And now, as of last month, the entire project has been detailed in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Media coverage of the event stressed its significance in moving toward a so-called “quantum Internet.” Yet the quantum internet would still be a distant dream when quantum cryptography can only mediate one or, at most, a few quantum-secured communications channels. To scale up to anything worthy of the name quantum Internet, quantum cryptography would need to generate not only thousands of cryptographic keys per second. Rather, a scalable quantum crypto system should aspire to key-generation rates closer to billions per second or greater—in the gigahertz (GHz) range and up, not kilohertz (kHz).

cosmos |  For a few minutes each night in certain parts of China, the brightest light in the sky is the lurid glow of the Micius satellite, shooting a green laser down to Earth as it swings through space 500 kilometres above. When conditions are right, you might also see a red beam lancing back through the darkness from one of the ground stations that send signals in reply. 

Micius is not your average telecommunications satellite. On 29 September 2017, it made history by accomplishing an astonishing feat, harnessing the mysterious qualities of quantum entanglement – what Einstein called ‘spooky action at a distance’ – to ‘teleport’ information into space and back again. In doing so, it enabled the first intercontinental phone call – a video call, in fact, between Beijing and Vienna – that was completely unhackable.

The weird science of quantum physics that powers Micius is at the heart of a technology arms race. On one side are quantum computers, still in their infancy but with enormous potential once they grow in power. Among their most prized, and feared, applications is the capacity to cut through the complex mathematical locks that now secure computer encryption systems – the ones that mean you can confidently conduct financial transactions over the internet. On the other side is the only sure defence – encryption techniques that also rely on the laws of quantum physics.

Until recently scientists had managed to make quantum encryption work only across distances of a hundred kilometres or so. The Chinese scientists behind Micius have now reached around the world. It brings the ultimate prize tantalisingly closer. “I envision a space-ground integrated quantum internet,” says Pan Jianwei, whose team became frontrunners in the quantum communications race after Micius switched on.

Mapping the American Precursors of Nazism


NewYorker  |  “History teaches, but has no pupils,” the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci wrote. That line comes to mind when I browse in the history section of a bookstore. An adage in publishing is that you can never go wrong with books about Lincoln, Hitler, and dogs; an alternative version names golfing, Nazis, and cats. In Germany, it’s said that the only surefire magazine covers are ones that feature Hitler or sex. Whatever the formula, Hitler and Nazism prop up the publishing business: hundreds of titles appear each year, and the total number runs well into the tens of thousands. On store shelves, they stare out at you by the dozens, their spines steeped in the black-white-and-red of the Nazi flag, their titles barking in Gothic type, their covers studded with swastikas. The back catalogue includes “I Was Hitler’s Pilot,” “I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur,” “I Was Hitler’s Doctor,” “Hitler, My Neighbor,” “Hitler Was My Friend,” “He Was My Chief,” and “Hitler Is No Fool.” Books have been written about Hitler’s youth, his years in Vienna and Munich, his service in the First World War, his assumption of power, his library, his taste in art, his love of film, his relations with women, and his predilections in interior design (“Hitler at Home”).

Why do these books pile up in such unreadable numbers? This may seem a perverse question. The Holocaust is the greatest crime in history, one that people remain desperate to understand. Germany’s plunge from the heights of civilization to the depths of barbarism is an everlasting shock. Still, these swastika covers trade all too frankly on Hitler’s undeniable flair for graphic design. (The Nazi flag was apparently his creation—finalized after “innumerable attempts,” according to “Mein Kampf.”) Susan Sontag, in her 1975 essay “Fascinating Fascism,” declared that the appeal of Nazi iconography had become erotic, not only in S & M circles but also in the wider culture. It was, Sontag wrote, a “response to an oppressive freedom of choice in sex (and, possibly, in other matters), to an unbearable degree of individuality.” Neo-Nazi movements have almost certainly fed on the perpetuation of Hitler’s negative mystique.

Americans have an especially insatiable appetite for Nazi-themed books, films, television shows, documentaries, video games, and comic books. Stories of the Second World War console us with memories of the days before Vietnam, Cambodia, and Iraq, when the United States was the world’s good-hearted superpower, riding to the rescue of a Europe paralyzed by totalitarianism and appeasement. Yet an eerie continuity became visible in the postwar years, as German scientists were imported to America and began working for their former enemies; the resulting technologies of mass destruction exceeded Hitler’s darkest imaginings. The Nazis idolized many aspects of American society: the cult of sport, Hollywood production values, the mythology of the frontier. From boyhood on, Hitler devoured the Westerns of the popular German novelist Karl May. In 1928, Hitler remarked, approvingly, that white settlers in America had “gunned down the millions of redskins to a few hundred thousand.” When he spoke of Lebensraum, the German drive for “living space” in Eastern Europe, he often had America in mind.

Among recent books on Nazism, the one that may prove most disquieting for American readers is James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law” (Princeton). On the cover, the inevitable swastika is flanked by two red stars. Whitman methodically explores how the Nazis took inspiration from American racism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He notes that, in “Mein Kampf,” Hitler praises America as the one state that has made progress toward a primarily racial conception of citizenship, by “excluding certain races from naturalization.” Whitman writes that the discussion of such influences is almost taboo, because the crimes of the Third Reich are commonly defined as “the nefandum, the unspeakable descent into what we often call ‘radical evil.’ ” But the kind of genocidal hatred that erupted in Germany had been seen before and has been seen since. Only by stripping away its national regalia and comprehending its essential human form do we have any hope of vanquishing it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What Does Responsibility Have To Do With Reproduction?


nursingclio |  Genetic counseling, as the previous two posts in this series suggested, has a lot to offer for navigating the tricky decisions things like prenatal testing and preimplantation genetic diagnosis raise. Well, in this post I’d like to make things a little more complicated. Enter the sheer messiness of history. I still believe genetic counseling is the best approach we have right now for helping prospective parents with hard choices, but it has a complicated — and not so distant — past that continues to shape counselors’ ways of interacting with clients and their decisions.

A LITTLE REVIEW

In the first post I shared a little bit of the history of genetic counseling in the United States and gave some examples of how, today, it can help prospective parents understand why they’re being tested and what those tests might mean. The second post discussed the history of blame and disability more broadly and introduced the fact that ideas about what disability means have changed over time — often significantly.

I’ve argued that genetic counseling has the potential to address feelings of blame, guilt, and confusion in the face of genetic testing results. Further, it can help answer questions like: What will life actually be like for parents and their children? What do genetic tests say and what don’t they say? What are the options after having a test?

My optimism about genetic counseling, evident in these two posts, is tempered by the fact that it has a complex and challenging past with origins in eugenics ideology that have influenced the way counseling is provided today. In a sense what I’m suggesting is that genetic counseling still has a lot of issues that need to be talked about and worked on, but that it’s way better than nothing.

Lets take a look at what I mean about how eugenic ideas shaped genetic counseling.

EUGENIC BEGINNINGS

Most of the first genetic counselors in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s were human geneticists, but the origins of human genetics lay in eugenics. Early genetic counselors identified self-proclaimed eugenicists like Charles Davenport, founder of the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor — one of the nation’s leading eugenics institutions between 1910 and the 1930s — as some of the first human geneticists in the United States. And four of the first five presidents of the American Society of Human Genetics, founded in 1948, were also board members of the American Eugenics Society.[1] Human geneticists tried to distance themselves from aspects of the traditional eugenics movement, particularly its racial prejudices and some of its scientific methods, but were still concerned about the eugenic effects of their work. They worried about what effect their counseling might have on the population as a whole.

Try? Been Doing It For A Minute, Consequences Be Damned...,


gizmodo |  Imagine a scenario, perhaps a few years from now, in which Canada decides to release thousands of mosquitoes genetically modified to fight the spread of a devastating mosquito-borne illness. While Canada has deemed these lab-made mosquitoes ethical, legal and safe for both humans and the environment, the US has not. Months later, by accident and circumstance, the engineered skeeters show up across the border. The laws of one land, suddenly, have become the rule of another.

If modern science can can defy the boundaries of borders, who exactly should be charged with deciding what science to unleash upon the world?

A version of this hypothetical scenario is already unfolding in the UK. Last year, the British government gave scientists the green light to genetically engineer human embryos. But in the US and most other nations, this possibility is still both illegal and morally fraught. Opponents to the practice argue that it risks opening up a Pandora’s Box of designer babies and genetically engineered super-humans. Even many more neutral voices argue that the technology demands further scrutiny.

And yet, the UK, at the vanguard of genetic engineering human beings, has already opened that box. In 2015, the British government approved the use of a controversial gene-editing technology to stop devastating mitochondrial diseases from being passed on from mothers to their future children. And last February, the UK granted the first license in the world to edit healthy human embryos for research. Recently, a Newsweek headline asked whether the scientists of this small island nation are in fact deciding the fate of all of humanity. It is a pretty good question.

This alarming ethical conundrum has not escaped the notice of global governments. A National Intelligence Council report released this month concluded that “genome editing and human enhancement” are “likely to pose some of the most contentious values questions in the coming decades.” Advancements in these arenas, the report said, “will affect relations between states.”

Dueterostems Already In The DIE Phase Of Their Nightmare...,


bigthink |  There are nearly 7.5 billion people on the planet right now. The question of how to feed, clothe, educate, employ, and hydrate everyone is a problem that is widely acknowledged. The question of overpopulation, and whether or not it is a major problem, often asks how our limited resources can be used in a growing world.

However, while most discussion of overpopulation is focused on the material aspects of it, some have asked about the psychological ramifications. Chief among these thinkers was Dr. John B. Calhoun who worked extensively with mice and rats to study the effects of overpopulation on behavior.
Dr. Calhoun was a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). In his most famous experiment, four breeding pairs of mice were moved into a mouse utopia. There were unlimited supplies of food, water and bedding. The area was disease free, the temperature perfectly controlled, and the researchers even cleaned the place monthly. As close to heaven as a mouse could get. All that they lacked was infinite space. There was, however, room for 3,000 mice.

Mice, for those who are unaware, are actually quite social creatures in the right conditions. They take on group roles, mark out territories, and develop hierarchies if their environment allows. It is this behavior that Calhoun wished to affect, and study. He described the experiment in terms of four “eras”, summarized here.

Days 0-100: The era called “Strive”. During which the mice were getting used to the new world, territories were established.

Days 100-315: The “Exploit” period. The population doubled every 60 or so days. Normal social behavior was noted here, and the population took full advantage of its unlimited resources.

Days  315-600: The “Equilibrium” period. It was here that the social roles of mice began to break down. Mice born during this period found they lacked space to mark out territories in, and random acts of violence among the mice began to occur. Many males simply gave up on trying to find females. These males retreated into their bedding and rarely ventured out. Simply eating, sleeping, and grooming. Calhoun dubbed these narcissistic loners “The Beautiful Ones”. They also tended to be rather stupid.

Days 600-800: The “Die” phase. The population, which maxed-out at 2,200, began to decline. No surviving births took place after day 600, and the colony ultimately died out. Individuals removed from the colony and placed in similar units continued to demonstrate erratic behavior and also failed to reproduce. The mice were remarkably violent at this time, for little reason.

A formula was written to explain what happened to the mice, how the population continued to crash even after conditions began to improve again. Calhoun felt there were truly two deaths for the mice: the first death was a spiritual one, leading to the decline into chaos and madness. After that event, no recovery was possible for the mice. The second was physical, and inevitable after the first.

Monday, April 23, 2018

We Already Know Civilizational Sleep Ends In Nightmares...,


Counterpunch |  It feels as if world events are in overdrive, and sometimes it’s hard to escape the thought that that there is no longer much point in trying to analyse, or make sense of, a trajectory increasingly out of control.

I see little evidence that those of us in the segment of the world political spectrum likely to read these words need much persuasion — nor that those who consider us dupes of the Evil Vladimir, or apologists for what was once called the “Yellow Peril”, could ever have any inclination to even glance at the arguments and sentiments of those they consider so utterly deluded.

In fact, the plethora of information (both truth and lies), and the amazing communicative possibilities most of us now have at our disposal, have brought with them a world in which no one is very often persuaded of anything: for every fact we present, they have access to an official or cleverly crafted lie with convincing-looking documentation that demonstrates our ostensible mendacity and subversion.

What pre-internet thinker – is it possible that bygone age ended only 20 years ago for most of us? — would have ever thought that a technological world in which every voice can be heard worldwide would solidify, rather than threaten, the role of propaganda in public life? or that near-universal access to technology enabling impressively thorough research, at incredible speed, would be one of the major factors in eliminating political consensus and rendering nearly obsolete the recognition of facts as such?

Well, perhaps there are brilliant minds out there who foresaw it all. But consider me dumbfounded. While there is a range of similarities between our world today and those described by Orwell and Huxley in their famous novels of future horror, there are other aspects that render this a different universe altogether, and one that continues to shock me.

Assuming that it WERE in fact possible to persuade people who accept their governments’ colossal lies and distortions that those same lies are in fact exactly that – lies — one would be required to acquaint most of them with the most basic facts of recent history. For remarkably, almost unbelievably, in a world where all of us have limitless information and history at our fingertips, most people know nothing about recent history – and the vast majority is not even curious about it.

‘Most White Americans, as a general statement, think they are better than the rest of the world. And most Americans have scant knowledge about the rest of the world. So the belief in cultural (and moral) superiority is based on what? The answer is not simple, but as a general sort of response, this trust in “our” superiority is built on violence. On an ability to be effectively violent. Most British, too, think they are superior to those “wogs” south of their emerald isle. But since the setting of the sun on Empire, “officially”, the British hold to both a sense of superiority and a deep panic-inducing sense of inferiority — at least to their American cousins. They are still better than those fucking cheese eating frogs or the krauts or whoever, but they accept that the U.S. is the sort of heavyweight champ of the moment. Meanwhile, the tragic and criminal fire at Grenfell Towers in London elicited a public discourse that perfectly reflected the class inequality of the UK, but also reflected, again, the colonialist mentality of the ruling party and their constituency … But that is exactly it. The colonial template is one etched in acid in the collective imagination of the West. At least the English-speaking West. Expendable natives…which is what Jim Mattis sees everywhere that he dumps depleted uranium and Willy Pete. It is what Madeleine Albright saw in Iraq or Hillary Clinton in Libya or Barack Obama in Sudan, Yemen, and…well… four or five other countries. It is what most U.S. police departments see in neighborhoods ravaged by poverty. As in those old Tarzan films, when the sound of drums is heard, the pith helmeted white man notes…”the natives are restless tonight”. When one discusses Syria, the most acute topic this week, remember that for Mad Dog and Boss Trump, or for the loopy John Bolton, these are just natives in need of pacification. Giving money to ISIS or Daesh, or whoever, as a cynical expression of colonial realpolitik, is nothing out of the ordinary. It is what the UK and US have done for a long while. It’s Ramar of the Jungle handing out beads to the *natives*.’ (John Steppling, “The Sleep of Civilization”) 


Overpopulation Leads to Catastrophe


medicalnewstoday |  The potentially catastrophic consequences of an exponentially growing global population is a favorite subject for writers of dystopian fiction. 

The most recent example, Utopia - a forthcoming David Fincher-directed series for HBO - won critical acclaim in its original incarnation on UK television for its depiction of a conspiracy-laden modern world where the real threat to public health is not Ebola or other headline-friendly communicable viruses, but overpopulation. 

Fears over the ever-expanding number of human bodies on our planet are not new and have been debated by researchers and policy makers for decades, if not centuries. However, recent research by University of Washington demographer Prof. Adrian Raftery - using modern statistical modeling and the latest data on population, fertility and mortality - has found that previous projections on population growth may have been conservative. 

"Our new projections are probabilistic, and we find that there will probably be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion people in 2100," Prof. Raftery told Medical News Today. "This projection is based on a statistical model that uses all available past data on fertility and mortality from all countries in a systematic way, unlike previous projections that were based on expert assumptions." 

Prof. Raftery's figure places up to an additional 5 billion people more on the Earth by 2100 than have been previously calculated. 
 
A key finding of the study is that the fertility rate in Africa is declining much more slowly than has been previously estimated, which Prof. Raftery tells us "has major long-term implications for population."

Sunday, April 22, 2018

American Nations As Revealed In Identity By Descent (IBD) Networks


medium  |  Earlier this summer, I presented the American Nations: the eleven regional cultures that comprise the United States and North America. Their existence explains much about our history, our constitutional arrangements, and, indeed, our political fissures — past and present. If you have any ancestors who were living in North America prior to the Civil War, the existence of these rival nations is likely reflected in parts of your family tree and, according to a recent study published in Nature Communications, may very well have left a mark on your DNA.

I couldn’t miss this study, because shortly after it came out, readers of my 2011 book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, were stuffing my inbox and flooding my social media feeds with it. A glance at the thumbnail illustration that accompanied the study made it clear why: Unbeknownst to the scientists who’d written the paper, the map depicting the key results of their research on the patterns of genetic variation in North America over time and space mirrored the American Nations map to an uncanny degree.
Here they are for comparison:










This is remarkable because the American Nations paradigm is resolutely not about genetics or genealogy. Rather, it’s built on the late cultural geographer Wilbur ZeFrolinsky’s Doctrine of First Effective Settlement, which argues that when a “new” society is settled, the cultural characteristics of the initial settlement group will have a lasting and outsized effect on the future trajectory of that society — even if their numbers were very small and those of later immigrants of different origins were very large. These lasting characteristics, which inform the dominant culture of entire regions of North America, are passed down culturally, not genetically, which explains why the Dutch-settled area around New York City still has obvious and distinct characteristics inherited from Golden Age Amsterdam, even though the portion of people there reporting Dutch ancestry to census takers is a vanishingly small 0.2 percent. Culture is learned, not inherited.

And yet the Nature study — powered by the enormous cross-referenced genomics and genealogy databases of Ancestry.com — reveals that the regional cultures have left a significant genetic imprint as well. That’s because members of a regional culture tended to mate with one another, rather than with people from rival areas, even when those rivals lived nearby, in the very same colony or state.
“Who we are today — the genetics of Americans all over the place — is the result of all kinds of cycles of reproductive isolation and the release of that isolation,” says Catherine A. Ball, a geneticist and the chief scientific officer at Ancestry who oversees the company’s DNA work. “Who your mates would be was linked to geography, politics, religion, war, and all of that is showing today in people walking on the streets and who they are related to.”

Ball wasn’t familiar with American Nations before I spoke with her, but the results show that the boundaries of the regional cultures were very real when it came to human reproduction, creating reproductive clusters centuries ago that geneticists have been able to recreate through the examination of nearly a million living Americans’ DNA.

Ban Baby-Making Unless Parents Are Licensed


ieet  |  For the sake of the children, let’s control human breeding. No one should be permitted to reproduce until they pass a battery of tests.

Does that proposal enrage you? Go ahead, hate me. Call me vile names like “Neo-Nazi-Elitist-Baby-Killing-Totalitarian-Sicko.” Or simply “Eugenicist.” I don’t care. I know I’m right. 

It’s blatantly clear that 15-year-old intoxicated half-wits can easily spawn, but should they? Hell no. Let’s control human breeding, please. Let’s keep babies away from buffoons, and let’s test fetuses meticulously to guarantee healthy infants. No one should be permitted to reproduce unless and until they pass a battery of tests. 

Philosophers, psychologists, and social workers have advanced this idea for 30+ years, notably Hugh LaFollette in his seminal essay, “Licensing Parents” (1980), and Peg Tittle, editor of Should Parents Be Licensed? (2004). Their suggested reform—based on humanitarian concerns for the rights of children—is always booed down hysterically with the shrill vocabulary that I listed above. 

But the reformers are right. Completely. Ethically. I agree with Joseph Fletcher, who notes, “It is depressing…to realize that most people are accidents,” and with George Schedler, who states, “Society has a duty to ensure that infants are born free of avoidable defects.”

Traditionalists regard pregnancy and parenting as a natural right that should never be curtailed. But what’s the result of this laissez-faire attitude? Catastrophic suffering. Millions of children born disadvantaged, crippled in childhood, destroyed in adolescence. Procreation cannot be classified as a self-indulgent privilege—it needs to be viewed as a life-and-death responsibility. 

Look at it this way: adoption centers don’t allow knuckleheads to walk out with a child; they maintain standards that we should apply to every wannabe parent.

Below I’ve compiled a list of deplorable situations caused by flawed individuals who should not be allowed to impregnate, gestate, reproduce, and parent because they’re mentally, physically, emotionally, or genetically unsuitable for the ambitious task.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

They Will Kill You


theintercept |  DRONES ARE A TOOL, not a policy. The policy is assassination. While every president since Gerald Ford has upheld an executive order banning assassinations by U.S. personnel, Congress has avoided legislating the issue or even defining the word “assassination.” This has allowed proponents of the drone wars to rebrand assassinations with more palatable characterizations, such as the term du jour, “targeted killings.”

When the Obama administration has discussed drone strikes publicly, it has offered assurances that such operations are a more precise alternative to boots on the ground and are authorized only when an “imminent” threat is present and there is “near certainty” that the intended target will be eliminated. Those terms, however, appear to have been bluntly redefined to bear almost no resemblance to their commonly understood meanings.

The first drone strike outside of a declared war zone was conducted more than 12 years ago, yet it was not until May 2013 that the White House released a set of standards and procedures for conducting such strikes. Those guidelines offered little specificity, asserting that the U.S. would only conduct a lethal strike outside of an “area of active hostilities” if a target represents a “continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons,” without providing any sense of the internal process used to determine whether a suspect should be killed without being indicted or tried. The implicit message on drone strikes from the Obama administration has been one of trust, but don’t verify.

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret slides that provides a window into the inner workings of the U.S. military’s kill/capture operations at a key time in the evolution of the drone wars — between 2011 and 2013. The documents, which also outline the internal views of special operations forces on the shortcomings and flaws of the drone program, were provided by a source within the intelligence community who worked on the types of operations and programs described in the slides. The Intercept granted the source’s request for anonymity because the materials are classified and because the U.S. government has engaged in aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers. The stories in this series will refer to the source as “the source.”  Fist tap Dale

The source said he decided to provide these documents to The Intercept because he believes the public has a right to understand the process by which people are placed on kill lists and ultimately assassinated on orders from the highest echelons of the U.S. government. “This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong,” the source said.  Fist tap Dale

They Can Control You


muckrock |  As part of a request for records on Antifa and white supremacist groups, WSFC inadvertently bundles in “EM effects on human body.zip”


When you send thousands of FOIA requests, you are bound to get some very weird responses from time to time. Recently, we here at MuckRock had one of our most bizarre gets yet - Washington State Fusion Center’s accidental release of records on the effects of remote mind control. 

As part of my ongoing project looking at fusion centers’ investigations into Antifa and various white supremacist groups, I filed a request with the WSFC. I got back many standard documents in response, including emails, intelligence briefings and bulletins, reposts from other fusion centers - and then there was one file titled “EM effects on human body.zip.”
 
Hmmm. What could that be? What does EM stand for and what is it doing to the human body? So I opened it up and took a look:  Fist tap Dale.


They Won't Cure You


arstechnica |  One-shot cures for diseases are not great for business—more specifically, they’re bad for longterm profits—Goldman Sachs analysts noted in an April 10 report for biotech clients, first reported by CNBC.

The investment banks’ report, titled “The Genome Revolution,” asks clients the touchy question: “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” The answer may be “no,” according to follow-up information provided.

Analyst Salveen Richter and colleagues laid it out:
The potential to deliver “one shot cures” is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically engineered cell therapy, and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies... While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow.
For a real-world example, they pointed to Gilead Sciences, which markets treatments for hepatitis C that have cure rates exceeding 90 percent. In 2015, the company’s hepatitis C treatment sales peaked at $12.5 billion. But as more people were cured and there were fewer infected individuals to spread the disease, sales began to languish. Goldman Sachs analysts estimate that the treatments will bring in less than $4 billion this year.

“[Gilead]’s rapid rise and fall of its hepatitis C franchise highlights one of the dynamics of an effective drug that permanently cures a disease, resulting in a gradual exhaustion of the prevalent pool of patients,” the analysts wrote. The report noted that diseases such as common cancers—where the “incident pool remains stable”—are less risky for business.

To get around the sustainability issue overall, the report suggests that biotech companies focus on diseases or conditions that seem to be becoming more common and/or are already high-incidence. It also suggests that companies be innovative and constantly expanding their portfolio of treatments. This can “offset the declining revenue trajectory of prior assets." Lastly, it hints that, as such cures come to fruition, they could open up more investment opportunities in treatments for “disease of aging.”  Fist tap Dale

Friday, April 20, 2018

Giuliani the Fixer: #NeverTrump Down To Legal and Political Horse-Trading



theconservativetreehouse |  If you look at Robert Mueller from the position of trying to protect his cherished Deep State institutions from horrible Trump swamp draining…. things begin to take a more accurate context. The only way for Mueller to protect his Swamp Allies and Institutions, was to generate leverage against Trump.

Having established only political leverage, nothing factually unlawful or illegal, the Mueller investigation begins to dry up. Leverage diminishes.

Without direct leverage against President Trump, Team Mueller moved to position leverage against those Trump cares about… that’s a secondary approach; but the secondary leverage approach is fraught with public noting Mueller is on a “witch hunt”… the investigation into outlying Trump allies becomes transparent in motive. Support for Mueller erodes amid independent-minded people.
Enter Rudy Giuliani, a political and legal Subject Matter Expert – with direct knowledge of evidence held by NYPD and NY FBI field office of gross criminal conduct by Hillary Clinton. (Weiner Laptop etc) Buried by SDNY Clinton Allies.

With Special Counsel Mueller having exhausted most of his investigative leverage, Giuliani enters to negotiate Mueller’s exit and discuss his team’s path of retreat and image face-saving.

The discussion from Mueller’s perspective will not center around Trump, but rather center around how much risk to Hillary Clinton, and by extension political allies within FBI and DOJ – including Obama White House, Mueller will permit.

Mueller will be looking to protect the interests of Obama, Clinton, Lynch, Comey, Brennan, Clapper, etc. and negotiating degrees of risk to the institutions each represents. This is the political horsetrading phase. The leverage cards held by each participant are laid on the table for discussion. Low leverage officials will be sacrificed by Mueller to protect those holding more leverage.
Giuliani is a well qualified person to present the Trump administration position within these negotiations. They are essentially negotiating who faces criminal prosecution and who doesn’t.

Ultimately protecting Obama and Clinton will be of higher importance to Mueller. If Mueller doesn’t protect Clinton, he knows her team will destroy everyone if she goes down. That scorched earth approach is a historic part of Team Clinton’s leverage. The stronger the evidence is against Clinton the more people Mueller will have to give up to protect her. The stronger the evidence against the corrupt institutions, the bigger the officials Mueller will have to sacrifice to save them.
Negotiating all this with Robert Mueller will likely be Rudy Giuliani’s primary job.

Likely the general public will never know the ultimate deal decisions. We will only be able to gauge the scale of corruption by the officials Mueller agrees to sacrifice.

WTF Is Going On With The #NeverTrump Coup?


bloomberg |  Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or the probe into his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein, who brought up the investigations himself, offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday, a development that helped tamp down the president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller, the people said.

After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probes. One person said Trump doesn’t want to take any action that would drag out the investigation.

The change in attitude by the president comes after weeks of attacks on the special counsel and the Justice Department, raising questions about whether he might take drastic steps to shut down the probes.

The shift gives some breathing room for Mueller, as well as Rosenstein, who has been criticized strongly by House Republicans for being slow to comply with requests for classified documents. Last week’s meeting was set up in part to allow Rosenstein to assuage Trump’s frustration with his decisions.

U.S. stocks pared their decline on the news. The S&P 500 Index closed down 0.6 percent in New York trading after an earlier slump of as much as 1 percent.

Rosenstein’s message may have been based on a technicality. Trump may not officially be a target, but Mueller hasn’t ruled out making him one at some point in the future, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the unfolding investigation.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Viruses Modulate the Function and Evolution of All Living Things



NYTimes |  High in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Spain, an international team of researchers set out four buckets to gather a shower of viruses falling from the sky.

Scientists have surmised there is a stream of viruses circling the planet, above the planet’s weather systems but below the level of airline travel. Very little is known about this realm, and that’s why the number of deposited viruses stunned the team in Spain. Each day, they calculated, some 800 million viruses cascade onto every square meter of the planet.

Most of the globe-trotting viruses are swept into the air by sea spray, and lesser numbers arrive in dust storms.

“Unimpeded by friction with the surface of the Earth, you can travel great distances, and so intercontinental travel is quite easy” for viruses, said Curtis Suttle, a marine virologist at the University of British Columbia. “It wouldn’t be unusual to find things swept up in Africa being deposited in North America.”

The study by Dr. Suttle and his colleagues, published earlier this year in the International Society of Microbial Ecology Journal, was the first to count the number of viruses falling onto the planet. The research, though, is not designed to study influenza or other illnesses, but to get a better sense of the “virosphere,” the world of viruses on the planet.

Generally it’s assumed these viruses originate on the planet and are swept upward, but some researchers theorize that viruses actually may originate in the atmosphere. (There is a small group of researchers who believe viruses may even have come here from outer space, an idea known as panspermia.)

Whatever the case, viruses are the most abundant entities on the planet by far. While Dr. Suttle’s team found hundreds of millions of viruses in a square meter, they counted tens of millions of bacteria in the same space.

Mostly thought of as infectious agents, viruses are much more than that. It’s hard to overstate the central role that viruses play in the world: They’re essential to everything from our immune system to our gut microbiome, to the ecosystems on land and sea, to climate regulation and the evolution of all species. Viruses contain a vast diverse array of unknown genes — and spread them to other species.

Last year, three experts called for a new initiative to better understand viral ecology, especially as the planet changes. “Viruses modulate the function and evolution of all living things,” wrote Matthew B. Sullivan of Ohio State, Joshua Weitz of Georgia Tech, and Steven W. Wilhelm of the University of Tennessee. “But to what extent remains a mystery.”

Nature Bats Last: Bacterium "Figures Out" How to Eat Plastic


theguardian |  Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”

The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.

“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”

About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.”

However, currently even those bottles that are recycled can only be turned into opaque fibres for clothing or carpets. The new enzyme indicates a way to recycle clear plastic bottles back into clear plastic bottles, which could slash the need to produce new plastic.

“You are always up against the fact that oil is cheap, so virgin PET is cheap,” said McGeehan. “It is so easy for manufacturers to generate more of that stuff, rather than even try to recycle. But I believe there is a public driver here: perception is changing so much that companies are starting to look at how they can properly recycle these.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

American Attempt to Niggerize Subvert Cuba with RAP was an Epic FAIL!!!


APNews |  For more than two years, a U.S. agency secretly infiltrated Cuba’s underground hip-hop movement, recruiting unwitting rappers to spark a youth movement against the government, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The idea was to use Cuban musicians “to break the information blockade” and build a network of young people seeking “social change,” documents show. But the operation was amateurish and profoundly unsuccessful.

On at least six occasions, Cuban authorities detained or interrogated people involved in the program; they also confiscated computer hardware, and in some cases it contained information that jeopardized Cubans who likely had no idea they were caught up in a clandestine U.S. operation. Still, contractors working for the U.S. Agency for International Development kept putting themselves and their targets at risk, the AP investigation found.

They also ended up compromising Cuba’s vibrant hip-hop culture — which has produced some of the hardest-hitting grassroots criticism since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. Artists that USAID contractors tried to promote left the country or stopped performing after pressure from the Cuban government, and one of the island’s most popular independent music festivals was taken over after officials linked it to USAID.

The program is laid out in documents involving Creative Associates International, a Washington, D.C., contractor paid millions of dollars to undermine Cuba’s communist government. The thousands of pages include contracts, emails, preserved chats, budgets, expense reports, power points, photographs and passports.

The work included the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” social network and the dispatch of inexperienced Latin American youth to recruit activists, operations that were the focus of previous AP stories.

“Any assertions that our work is secret or covert are simply false,” USAID said in a statement Wednesday. Its programs were aimed at strengthening civil society “often in places where civic engagement is suppressed and where people are harassed, arrested, subjected to physical harm or worse.”

Creative Associates did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

British Propaganda and Disinformation



strategic-culture |  When it comes to creating bogus news stories and advancing false narratives, the British intelligence services have few peers. In fact, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI-6) has led the way for its American “cousins” and Britain’s Commonwealth partners – from Canada and Australia to India and Malaysia – in the dark art of spreading falsehoods as truths. Recently, the world has witnessed such MI-6 subterfuge in news stories alleging that Russia carried out a novichok nerve agent attack against a Russian émigré and his daughter in Salisbury, England. This propaganda barrage was quickly followed by yet another – the latest in a series of similar fabrications – alleging the Syrian government attacked civilians in Douma, outside of Damascus, with chemical weapons.

It should come as no surprise that American news networks rely on British correspondents stationed in northern Syria and Beirut as their primary sources. MI-6 has historically relied on non-official cover (NOC) agents masquerading primarily as journalists, but also humanitarian aid workers, Church of England clerics, international bankers, and hotel managers, to carry out propaganda tasks. These NOCs are situated in positions where they can promulgate British government disinformation to unsuspecting actual journalists and diplomats.

For decades, a little-known section of the British Foreign Office – the Information Research Department (IRD) – carried out propaganda campaigns using the international media as its platform on behalf of MI-6. Years before Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir became targets for Western destabilization and “regime change.” IRD and its associates at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and in the newsrooms and editorial offices of Fleet Street broadsheets, tabloids, wire services, and magazines, particularly “The Daily Telegraph,” “The Times,” “Financial Times,” Reuters, “The Guardian,” and “The Economist,” ran media smear campaigns against a number of leaders considered to be leftists, communists, or FTs (fellow travelers).

These leaders included Indonesia’s President Sukarno, North Korean leader (and grandfather of Pyongyang’s present leader) Kim Il-Sung, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Cyprus’s Archbishop Makarios, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Chile’s Salvador Allende, British Guiana’s Cheddi Jagan, Grenada’s Maurice Bishop, Jamaica’s Michael Manley, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Guinea’s Sekou Toure, Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara, Australia’s Gough Whitlam, New Zealand’s David Lange, Cambodia’s Norodom Sihanouk, Malta’s Dom Mintoff, Vanuatu’s Father Walter Lini, and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.

After the Cold War, this same propaganda operation took aim at Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Somalia’s Mohamad Farrah Aidid, and Haiti’s Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Today, it is Assad’s, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s, and Catalonian independence leader Carles Puigdemont’s turn to be in the Anglo-American state propaganda gunsights. Even Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, long a darling of the Western media and such propaganda moguls as George Soros, is now being targeted for Western visa bans and sanctions over the situation with Muslim Rohingya insurgents in Rakhine State. 

Major Bases For Nazi Propaganda And Activity In The Middle-East


FrontPage |  In the Western world, knowledge of history is poor -- and the awareness of history is frequently poorer. For example, people often argue today as if the kind of political order that prevails in Iraq is part of the immemorial Arab and Islamic tradition. This is totally untrue. The kind of regime represented by Saddam Hussein has no roots in either the Arab or Islamic past. Rather, it is an ideological importation from Europe -- the only one that worked and succeeded (at least in the sense of being able to survive).

In 1940, the French government accepted defeat and signed a separate peace with the Third Reich. The French colonies in Syria and Lebanon remained under Vichy control, and were therefore open to the Nazis to do what they wished. They became major bases for Nazi propaganda and activity in the Middle East. The Nazis extended their operations from Syria and Lebanon, with some success, to Iraq and other places. That was the time when the Baath Party was founded, as a kind of clone of the Nazi and Fascist parties, using very similar methods and adapting a very similar ideology, and operating in the same way -- as part of an apparatus of surveillance that exists under a one-party state, where a party is not a party in the Western democratic sense, but part of the apparatus of a government. That was the origin of the Baath Party.

When the Third Reich collapsed, and after an interval was replaced by the Soviet Union as the patron of all anti-Western forces, the adjustment from the Nazi model to the Communist model was not very difficult and was carried throughout without problems. That is where the present Iraqi type of government comes from. As I said before, it has no roots in the authentic Arabic or Islamic past. It is, instead, part of the most successful and most harmful process of Westernization to have occurred in the Middle East. When Westernization failed in the Middle East, this failure was followed by a redefinition and return to older, more deep-rooted perceptions of self and other. I mean, of course, religion.

Religion had several advantages. It was more familiar. It was more readily intelligible. It could be understood immediately by Muslims. Nationalist and socialist slogans, by contrast, needed explanation. Religion was less impeded. What I mean is that even the most ruthless of dictatorships cannot totally suppress religiously defined opposition. In the mosques, people can meet and speak. In most fascist-style states, openly meeting and speaking are rigidly controlled and repressed. This is not possible in dealing with Islam. Islamic opposition movements can use a language familiar to all, and, through mosques, can tap into a network of communication and organization.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Why isn’t the Nazi Origin of Modern-day Terrorism Discussed in the Media?



HuffPo |  During the final months of World War II, Hitler saw his dreams for a Third Reich crumble as Allied Forces turned the tides of war. Hitler became increasingly desperate for results and for propaganda wins to maintain morale. He sought counsel from Otto Skorzeny, the leader of Operation Greif, which used German soldiers to infiltrate their opponents by adapting enemy languages, uniforms and customs. Skorzeny was the twisted genius who had dressed Nazi soldiers in American uniforms in an effort to spread rumors of Eisenhower’s assassination and demoralize the Allies. In 1943, Skorzeny led the rescue mission that freed Benito Mussolini from prison. In 1944, he organized a secret unit of German suicide bombers.

2016-07-07-1467919330-4015142-SSWerewolvesInsignia.jpg As the Nazi war effort failed, Hitler designated Skorzeny to create a new secret underground resistance movement—a terrorist unit calledWerwolf. The Werewolves’ sole purpose would be to attack the Allies after the war was over. They were to perform random acts of violence around Europe, sabotage rebuilding efforts, and destabilize governments in a guerrilla effort to build the Third Reich. 

Many of the Werewolves were captured by the Allied Forces or abandoned their posts before unleashing much terror on Europe, but some fled to the Middle East. 

Skorzeny Sets Up Shop In The Middle East
In Infield’s 1981 biography, Skorzeny: Hitler’s Commando, Infield describes how Skorzeny went to Egypt, where he recruited a staff of former SS officers to mask themselves as converted Muslims and train elite young Mujahideen and the Egyptian Army in terrorist tactics. Infield knew and interviewed Skorzeny, and uncovered a great deal of information relevant to the terrorism we are fighting today. 

It was Skorzeny who trained Arab volunteers in guerrilla warfare tactics to use against the British troops stationed in the Suez Canal zone. Palestinian refugees also received commando training, and Skorzeny planned their initial strikes into Israel via the Gaza Strip in 1953-1954. 

One of these young Palestinians was Yasser Arafat, who went on to become the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO was formed by Palestinian refugees seeking to claim land rights. It was their terrorist arm, Black September, that carried out the horrific kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. 

The Nazi link to Islamic extremism and terrorist tactics is clear. Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East also explores the Nazi political influence on radical Islamic political organisations, including the Muslim Brotherhood (founded in Egypt in 1928) and the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party of Syria founded in 1947. Former Nazis not only trained Islamic extremists in terror tactics, they also encouraged a nationalistic, socialist and genocidal political agenda in them.  


National Socialism (Nazis) and Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party


scotsman |  In Arabic, baath means renaissance or resurrection. The Baath Arab Socialist Party, to give the organisation its formal title, is the original secular Arab nationalist movement, founded in Damascus in the 1940s to combat Western colonial rule. But since then, the Baath Party has undergone many chameleon-like twists in belief and purpose. Even the young men in Iraq who today claim its discredited banner might be surprised at the party’s real origins. 

Those beginnings lie thousands of miles to the west, in the leafy streets and pavement cafes of the left bank of the Seine in Paris. 

Here, in the 1930s, the two founders of the Baath Party were educated at the Sorbonne University. They were middle-class Arabs from the then French colony of Syria. 

Michael Aflaq was a Greek Orthodox Christian and would become the main ideologue of Baathism, preaching freedom from Western colonialism, Arab unity and socialism. And Salah al-Din Bitar, born of a Muslim family in Damascus, would be the practical politician, later becoming prime minister of an independent Syria. 

Back home in French Syria, they became teachers by day and political intriguers by night. Early Baathist ideas were strongly fringed with fascism, as you might expect from a group of men whose ideas were formed in France in the turbulent Thirties. 

The movement was based on classless racial unity, hence the strong anti-Marxism, and on national socialism in the scientific sense of the word, such as nationalised industry and an autarkic economy serving the needs of the nation. Hence, the antipathy towards Western capitalism. 

But the rise of German fascism also played a role. Many in the Arab world saw Hitler as an ally. In 1941, the Arab world was electrified by a pro-Axis coup in Baghdad. At that time, Iraq was nominally independent but Britain maintained a strong military presence. An Arab nationalist by the name of Rashid Ali al-Kailani organised an army coup against the pro-British Iraqi monarchy and requested help from Nazi Germany. In Damascus, then a Vichy French colony, the Baath Party founders immediately organised public demonstrations in support of Rashid Ali. 

After the Second World War, the Baathists emerged as the leadership of Arab nationalism for two reasons. First, they were the only force with a coherent ideology. Second, the existing Arab political elites were blamed for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Nor was Islam a competitor. For the Western-educated founders of Baathism, Islam smacked of backwardness. For the nascent Islamic fundamentalists, the Baathists were substituting Arabism for the much wider historic conquests of Muslim civilisation. But it was that pan-Arab nationalism that appealed to discontented Arab youth in the Fifties and Sixties. 

Baathism had something else to offer these youths: its tight, disciplined internal organisation which - at any rate, before the party became corrupt - stood in sharp contrast to the ramshackle nature of many Arab civil institutions. 

Like the Nazi and Communist parties, the Baath is organised through small cells in a rigid hierarchy. Members are expected to devote their life to the party. In Iraq, would-be members pass through four stages even before becoming a full member: supporter, sympathiser, nominee and trainee. Currently, there are about two million Iraqis in these categories. The system requires passing successfully a series of tests, so full members of Saddam’s Baathist organisation are the most hardened and fanatical of his supporters. 

With war looming, Saddam has extended this principle with the establishment of Fedayeen Saddam, many of whom have been in action against allied troops. The Fedayeen consists of teenage level members or novices eager to move up in the Baath hierarchy ladder. In this respect, they are very reminiscent of the Hitler Youth. 

It is estimated that there are about 40,000 full members of the Baath Party in Iraq. Each is assigned to an autonomous cell. A cell consists of three to five members, only one of whom would have a link to the next level of operation. This limits the ability to penetrate the organisation from without. This structure was born of the original clandestine and illegal life of the Baathists before they came to power.