Monday, January 26, 2015

Planned Electromagnetic Warfare Training Over Olympic Peninsula Proven Harmful to Humans and Animals

Documents Show Navy's Electromagnetic Warfare Training Would Harm Humans and Wildlife

by Dahr Jamail - Truthout

If the US Navy gets its way, it will begin flying Growler supersonic warplanes over Olympic National Forest and wilderness areas of the Western Olympic Peninsula next September in order to conduct electromagnetic warfare training exercises.

A shooter signals an EA-18G Growler aboard USS Carl Vinson. (Photo: Matt Buck

As Truthout previously reported, this would entail flying 36 jets down to 1,200 feet above ground in some areas, in 2,900 training exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day, 260 days per year, with the war-gaming going on indefinitely into the future. The Navy's plans also include having 15 mobile units on the ground with towers emitting electromagnetic radiation signals for the planes to locate as part of their exercises.

Navy personnel have been met with outrage, anger and a growing concern from the public about the negative health impacts to humans and wildlife in the areas where their war games are planned.

The Navy appeared to attempt to slide their plans by the public by choosing not to advertise public comment periods and meetings in the local media of the areas where their war games would be taking place. However, word got out and the Navy has had to extend public comment periods and hold more public meetings.

Navy personnel have been met with outrage, anger and a growing concern from the public about the negative health impacts to humans and wildlife in the areas where their war games are planned.

The Navy's response has been to point people toward their own so-called environmental assessment (EA), and claim that "no significant impacts" will occur to wildlife or humans from their electromagnetic war games.

However, Truthout has acquired several documents from the Navy, Air Force and even NASA that directly contradict the Navy's claims that their exercises pose no threat to wildlife and humans, and spoke with an expert on the human impact of electromagnetic radiation fields who also refutes the Navy's claims.

Dr. Martin Pall, a professor emeritus of biochemistry and medical sciences with Washington State University, has written several peer-reviewed papers on the subject of how electromagnetic radiation of various levels impacts human beings, as well as given international lectures on the subject.

The health impacts of even the Navy's lowest levels of electromagnetic radiation emissions are shocking.

Pall told Truthout that these claims by the Navy are "untrue," and provided reams of evidence, including his own scientific reports, that document, in detail, the extremely dangerous impacts of even very low levels of the microwave and electromagnetic radiation that the Navy would be emitting during their war games.

Pall's paper, titled "Electromagnetic fields act via activation of voltage-gated calcium channels to produce beneficial or adverse effects," outlines the impact of electromagnetic radiation on biological organisms, and was given the honor of being posted on the "Global Medical Discovery" site as one of the top medical papers of 2013.

Pall told Truthout that the Navy has not provided "any evidence" to support their claims that electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) do not impact wildlife and humans deleteriously.

According to Pall, a NASA study, and more then 1,000 other scientific reports and studies, the health impacts of even the Navy's lowest levels of electromagnetic radiation emissions are shocking.

The Doctor's Opinion


Pall explained that people and agencies that advocate for the current safety standards around EMF levels claim that we only have to be concerned about their thermal/heating effects.

Pall's aforementioned paper and the 24 studies cited within it show that the generally accepted EMF safety standards are based on a false assumption: "that all you have to worry about is heating."

The Navy claims that there is "no conclusive evidence" that EMF radiation harms humans or wildlife due to "inconsistent data" and "conflicting reports" on the subject.

Pall vehemently disagrees with this position.

"We have a situation now where most people in the world are exposed to microwave frequency radiation based on scientific studies that have no scientific merit."

His analysis of scientific reports and data shows that a great number of them show harmful effects at non-thermal levels, when it is viewed consistently according to cell types, fields and end points of studies. Nevertheless, many of the studies claimed there were "no effects" from EMF radiation, simply because the effects were non-thermal, despite the studies themselves showing evidence of non-thermal effects.

"So in the data there is no inconsistency whatsoever. None," according to Pall.

"This has been going on for years, and people have been assured of safety based on these things and it is absolute nonsense," he explained.

"So we have a situation now where most people in the world are exposed to microwave frequency radiation based on scientific studies that have no scientific merit."

Pall said he sees the entire regulating system as flawed, and there is ample scientific evidence to back his perspective.

"We know the claims that you only have to worry about heating effects are false; there is no question on that," he said. 
 "All the assurances of safety are based on that assumption. So this whole thing is of great concern."

According to Pall, there is ample evidence of biological effects from EMF radiation that are "extremely worrisome." These include cellular DNA damage that causes cancer and infertility, "and both of these have been repeatedly reported to occur with low-level exposures."

Nevertheless, Pall added, "There are studies that don't report these, because they are done under different conditions, and that is not surprising."

"What the Navy is doing we have no idea because they don't tell us . . . but from what little they have told us, they are using a lot of pulse fields in wavelengths that are damaging to us."

To make his point, Pall cited an infertility study conducted with rats that showed there was less fertility with each generation, "and by the fifth generation they were completely infertile."

Pall was very clear in his assessment of the potential impact of the Navy's EMF war-gaming plans, as well as how EMF radiation impacts our daily lives - from cell phones, to wireless networks, to the myriad other electronic devices that are so common today.

"So what we're doing is exposing ourselves to these fields," he said.

"What the Navy is doing we have no idea because they don't tell us . . . but from what little they have told us, they are using a lot of pulse fields in wavelengths that are damaging to us, to biological organisms. They give us not one iota of evidence of what biological effects are produced by those fields, and don't even tell us what fields they are using. You only find empty statements of 'don't worry about these things.'"

Numerous studies back another of Pall's points, which is that there is ample evidence that younger people are more susceptible than older people to the harmful effects of EMF radiation.

"This is why childhood leukemia is more common than adult leukemia," Pall said.

Dean Millett, the district ranger for the Pacific district of the Olympic National Forest, has issued a draft notice of a decision in which he had agreed with the Navy's finding of "no significant impact," which has cleared the way for a US Forest Service special permit to be issued to the Navy for the war games. Millet, however, insists that the decision is his to make, but claims that he has not made a final decision yet.

Millet claims to not be concerned about the impact of the Navy's war-gaming on amphibians, as well as other wildlife, including birds.

"Millet's statements about the Navy's EIS [environmental impact statement] being solid, and his not worrying about amphibians, are interesting to me," Pall said when asked about the position of Millet and the Forest Service.

"Millet has been emailed this evidence, that amphibians are particularly sensitive to these fields, and much of the amphibians' decline around the world are being attributed to these fields. We also know that migrating birds are particularly susceptible. Yet neither Millet nor the Navy has given any evidence to the contrary, and that is not science. Science is always based on evidence."

During a recent public information meeting, the Navy told Truthout that their Growler jets would not be emitting any EMF radiation, despite the fact that all the planes they intend to use for their war-gaming will be "fully equipped" with all of the electromagnetic warfare weapons available for radar jamming, and other operations.

If what the Navy says is true, and that the only EMF radiation signals emitted will be from their 15 mobile ground towers, which they claim to be "no worse than a cell phone tower," this will still be extremely hazardous to biological organisms in the area, according to Pall.

"There are close to 1,000 studies on electromagnetic fields that show the production of oxidated stress," he said. "So even just using a cell phone gives you oxidative stress in your brain by breaking down your blood brain barriers that protect you from infections and other things."

Pall explained that, according to his and numerous other studies, there are numerous neuropsychiatric effects caused by this "low-level" EMF radiation, including depression.

"They are planning on running a huge experiment without collecting the data, so everyone out there will be exposed and be a part of their experiment."

Physical effects include heart arrhythmias and tachycardia, "and these can lead to sudden cardiac deaths," Pall said. "Slow heartbeats also occur at increasing rates, and these are indirect effects and they are all life threatening. There is a lot of literature on cardiac effects on humans, and I'm writing a paper on it right now."

Pall also cited a study that showed that when young rats are exposed to low-level EMF radiation, "you end up with middle-aged rats that have Alzheimer's disease. Rats don't normally develop Alzheimer's."

Pall cited one of the philosophers of science whose work determined the structure of modern science, Karl Popper, who believed the strongest type of scientific evidence is that evidence which falsifies a theory.

"So we have literally thousands of studies that have falsified the heating paradigm for microwave fields, each of which individually have falsified the claim that all you have to worry about is heating," Pall explained.

"Now, what Popper would say then is, obviously the statement that all you have to worry about is heating is a false claim. You only have to falsify it once. So the only way you can claim safety is to look at each of those individual studies and prove that it has been deeply flawed. The Navy hasn't done that, nor has the ranger, and they haven't done it because it can't be done."

Pall is confident in this statement because in order for the Navy and Forest Service to claim the war-gaming will be safe, they would have to test every EMF field, at every level of frequency emission, at every distance, for every human and animal, at every age.

But instead of conducting this kind of thorough research, according to Pall, "They are planning on running a huge experiment without collecting the data, so everyone out there will be exposed and be a part of their experiment."

A 2013 paper published in the journal Reviews on Environmental Health, titled "Radiation from wireless technology impacts the blood, the heart and the autonomic nervous system," lists a series of 14 different pleas from multiple scientists who state the need for much more vigorous action on the health effects from microwave EMFs.

Nevertheless, the Navy and Forest Service maintain their position that there would be "no significant impact" from the electromagnetic war-gaming, despite reams of well-documented scientific evidence to the contrary.

Thus, Pall believes the burden of proof lies with both the Navy and the Forest Service.

"So the Navy's response is both untrue and illogical," he said.

"We know all these fields have all these effects. So the Navy has to come up with the evidence that proves their EMF fields don't cause all these problems. The Navy and the ranger [Millet] need to answer these questions. I've seen no inconsistencies in the literature at this point, and what they need to do as scientists, as opposed to propagandists, is to show that each study that falsifies their point of view is deeply flawed, and they've not even started to do that, and there are thousands of studies in the scientific literature."

Other Studies


In February 2014, Willie Taylor, director of the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance with the US Department of the Interior, sent a letter to Eli Veenendall with the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In it, Taylor lists several concerns about the impact of communication towers, as well as towers emitting "electromagnetic radiation."


"The Department recommends revisions to the proposed procedures to better reflect the impacts to resources under our jurisdiction from communication towers," Taylor writes in the letter. "The placement and operation of communication towers, including un-guyed, unlit, monopole or lattice-designed structures, impact protected migratory birds in two significant ways. The first is by injury, crippling loss, and death from collisions with towers and their supporting guy-wire infrastructure, where present. The second significant issue associated with communication towers involves impacts from non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation emitted by them."

The Navy consistently claims that their towers will only emit as much radiation as cell towers, yet this is exactly the level of radiation cited as a problem.

The letter, of which Truthout acquired a copy, included an attachment that stated: "Radiation studies at cellular communication towers were begun circa 2000 in Europe and continue today on wild nesting birds. Study results have documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and death (e.g., Balmori 2005, Balmori and Hallberg 2007, and Everaert and Bauwens 2007)."

The Navy consistently claims that their towers will only emit as much radiation as cell towers, yet this is exactly the level of radiation cited in the aforementioned letter as a problem, as well as the levels described by Pall, the electromagnetic radiation expert.

Furthermore, the letter notes that the Federal Communications Commission continues to use outdated exposure standards when it comes to radiation emitted from cell phone towers.

"The problem," the letter continues, "appears to focus on very low levels of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. For example, in laboratory studies, T. Litovitz (personal communication) and DiCarlo et al. (2002) raised concerns about impacts of low-level, non-thermal electromagnetic radiation from the standard 915 MHz cell phone frequency on domestic chicken embryos - with some lethal results (Manville 2009, 2013a). Radiation at extremely low levels (0.0001 the level emitted by the average digital cellular telephone) caused heart attacks and the deaths of some chicken embryos subjected to hypoxic conditions in the laboratory while controls subjected to hypoxia were unaffected (DiCarlo et al. 2002)."

The letter concludes:

Balmori found strong negative correlations between levels of tower-emitted microwave radiation and bird breeding, nesting, and roosting in the vicinity of electromagnetic fields in Spain. He documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and death in House Sparrows, White Storks, Rock Doves, Magpies, Collared Doves, and other species. Though these species had historically been documented to roost and nest in these areas, Balmori (2005) did not observe these symptoms prior to construction and operation of the cellular phone towers.

Furthermore, a NASA study published in April 1981, titled "Electromagnetic Field Interactions with the Human Body: Observed Effects and Theories," was clear about the damage that EMF radiation caused to humans. Information for the NASA report was collected from over 1,000 written sources that "included journals, conference proceedings, technical reports, books, abstracts, and news items," and "additional sources included in-person meetings, telephone interviews, and lecture tapes."

"Both theories and observations link non-ionizing electromagnetic fields to cancer in humans," the report notes. "Man is changing his terrestrial electromagnetic environment . . . If he knew the consequences of these changes, he might wish to compensate for or enhance them."

The study "is concerned chiefly with those lower frequencies" of EMF radiation, just as are most of the aforementioned studies as well as Pall's work, all of which obviously applies to the impact of the Navy's claims that only their towers would be emitting signals, and not their Growler warplanes.

As for adverse effects from EMF radiation, the report states, "Some result in death and persistent disease," with other impacts being "ventricular fibrillation and sudden infant death syndrome," "cataracts," "accelerated aging," and that electromagnetic fields "may promote cancer" and cause a "decrease in sex function."

Aircraft noise, another issue related to the Navy's war-gaming plans, has also been noted as biologically harmful by the Navy itself.

The NASA study lists dozens of other human health impacts, and one of the tables in the report, titled, "Subjective effects on persons working in radio frequency electromagnetic fields," lists symptoms that include hypotension, exhausting influence on the central nervous system, decrease in sensitivity to smell, periodic or extreme headaches, extreme irritability, increased fatigability, and intensification of the activity of the thyroid gland.

Further evidence comes from Swiss Re, a group which describes itself as "a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer," which released their own risk assessment report, within which they listed "emerging risk topics" which could impact the insurance industry in the future.

The report lists "unforeseen consequences of electromagnetic fields" as having "high potential impact."

Aircraft noise, another issue related to the Navy's war-gaming plans, has also been noted as biologically harmful by the Navy itself.

According to the Naval Research Advisory Committee's April 2009 "Report on Jet Engine Noise Reduction," jet noise is described as "a problem" and the Navy was advised to take "actions to reduce noise in existing and next generation tactical jet aircraft engines."

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss


For every three decibels over 85, the permissible exposure time before hearing damage can occur is cut in half.

Decibel level Example and Permissible Exposure Time
30 Whisper
45 Refrigerator humming, rainfall
60 Normal conversation
85 Heavy city traffic; 8 hours
95 Motorcycles; 1 hour
105 MP3 player at maximum volume; 7.5 minutes
113 Older Navy jets at 1,000 feet; less than 1 minute
120 Sirens; less than 30 seconds
150 Gun muzzle blast, Growler jets at takeoff. (No noise levels exist for Growlers flying in trios at 1,200 feet.) INSTANTANEOUS HEARING LOSS
- Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The report also acknowledges that the US Department of Veterans Affairs was spending more than $1 billion annually on hearing loss cases alone, as well as the fact that the Navy's jet noise is "a serious health risk," and that despite this, "tactical jet noise levels have increased as the velocity and airflow from these engines have increased to produce added thrust."

The executive summary of this report states that the ongoing hearing loss issues and efforts toward increasing hearing protection of Navy personnel will "Require further development of noise abatement procedures to minimize the noise footprint around Naval and Marine Air Stations. And finally, it will require more research into the physiological effects of the full spectrum of noise - including low frequency pressure levels - on humans."

As for impact on wildlife, Dr. Robert Beason, a professor of biology at the State University of New York at Geneseo, speaking at a workshop titled "Avian Mortality at Communications Towers" sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ornithological Council, and the American Bird Conservancy, made several statements of concern about the impact of microwave signals and other electromagnetic radiation from communication towers similar to the towers the Navy plans to use for their warfare training.

"Peter Semm and I have found that a pulsed microwave signal results in changes in the rate of spontaneous activity of superficial neurons in the avian brain," Beason said. "These responses are occurring in higher centers of the brain, not in the lower centers where they could be filtered out."

He concluded his presentation urging caution, and clearly stating that more work needs to be done to safeguard migratory birds in regards to radio and electromagnetic radiation emitting towers located where they fly.

"There are numerous questions related to the features of communication towers for which we lack basic knowledge of either the neural or the behavioral responses of the birds," Beason said. "Gaining this type of information is paramount in determining what features of these towers can be modified in such a way to decrease their attractiveness to birds to allow communication field engineers to design and construct these towers in such a way to reduce the impact on migratory birds."

Navy Admits Harmful Biological Effects


On October 4, 1971, the Naval Medical Research Institute published a research report written by Dr. Zorach Glaser, of which Truthout acquired a copy. The title of the report is "Bibliography of Reported Biological Phenomena ('Effects') and Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation."

Given that the Navy continues to claim that their EMR warfare training exercises will have "no significant impact" on humans, it is interesting to note that their own research paper's abstract states:

More than 2,000 references on the biological responses to [microwave and] radio frequency and microwave radiation, published up to June 1971, are included in the bibliography. (Three supplementary listings bring the number of citation to more than 2,300.) Particular attention has been paid to the effects on man of non-ionizing radiation at these frequencies.

The Navy's paper lists well over 100 negative biological effects caused by microwave and radio frequency radiations, of which here is a partial list from their report: corneal damage, tubular degeneration of testicles, brain heating, alteration of the diameter of blood vessels, liver enlargement, altered sex ratio of births, decreased fertility, sterility, altered fetal development, decreased lactation in nursing mothers, altered penal function, death, cranial nerve disorders, seizures, convulsions, depression, insomnia, hand tremors, chest pain, thrombosis, alteration in the rate of cellular division, anorexia, constipation, altered adrenal cortex activity, chromosome aberrations, tumors, altered orientation of animals, birds and fish, loss of hair, and sparking between dental fillings.

Pall found the report notable, and suggested that in order to prove there are no biological effects possible from their EMR warfare training, the Navy would need to provide a specific response to each of the studies cited in their own report.

"What they need to show is that none of the over 2,000 studies that should be well known to them are not relevant to their planned tests for the Olympic peninsula," Pall said. "Those studies date, of course from before late 1971 and there have been many thousands of apparently relevant studies published since that time, but perhaps they should start with these studies which were important enough to be cited by the Naval Medical Research Institute in 1971."

US Air Force Acknowledges Health Effects


A June 1994 US Air Force document, titled, "Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation Biological Effects and Safety Standards: A Review," authored by Scott Bolen, clearly acknowledges the non-thermal health effects.

"It is known that electromagnetic radiation has a biological effect on human tissue."

The report, signed and vetted by the US Air Force Chief of the Wide Area Radar Surveillance Division and the US Air Force Deputy Director of the Surveillance and Photonics Department, states in its abstract, "It is known that electromagnetic radiation has a biological effect on human tissue."

The introduction of the report states that "researchers have discovered a number of biological dysfunctions that can occur in living organisms" and that "exposure of the human body to RF/MW [radio frequency/microwave] radiation has many biological implications" that range from "innocuous sensation of warmth to serious physiological damage to the eye," and added that "there is also evidence that RF/MW radiation can cause cancer."

The report goes on to acknowledge that RF/MW radiation "is known to have a biological effect on animals and humans" and lists biological impacts like "damage to major organs, disruption of important biological processes, and the potential risk of cancer," among many others which include "mutagenic effects," "cardiovascular effects," negative effects on chromosomes, and notes that "Soviet investigators claim that exposure to low-level radiation can induce serious CNS [central nervous system] dysfunctions."

Ongoing Concerns


Olympic Peninsula resident Karen Sullivan worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 15 and a half years, in Delaware, Washington, DC, and from 1998 through 2006 in Alaska. She worked in the Division of Endangered Species, External Affairs, and spent the last seven years as assistant regional director for External Affairs, which covered all media and congressional interaction and correspondence, plus outreach, publications and tribal grants for the Alaska region.


"How can Navy jets be allowed to fly over wilderness areas and do what they do, and potentially destroy a wilderness soundscape that exists within a wilderness area? How can that be legal?"

She called the Navy's so-called environmental assessment "bogus" because "it is old and not of broad enough scope."

"It's baffling to try to pin down what they [the Navy] are doing on paper, but it is nonetheless very obvious what they are doing," she said. 
 "It's certainly not in the public interest and certainly takes away from the public trust of these lands. How can Navy jets be allowed to fly over wilderness areas and do what they do, and potentially destroy a wilderness soundscape that exists within a wilderness area? How can that be legal? I can't understand."

Dr. Pete Lauritzen, a professor emeritus of engineering from the University of Washington, recently attended a Navy public information scoping session in order to find out specifics about the types and intensities of radiation that will be used in the Navy's war games, but was frustrated by the Navy's lack of forthrightness.

Nearly 400 people attended the scoping session, most of who expressed their concerns by filing official comments to the Navy.



The US Navy has held several "scoping sessions" where they invited
the public to provide comments about the war-gaming plans. Each 
session became increasingly crowded, with the vast majority of those 
providing comment being opposed to the Navy's plans. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)




Former US Fish and Wildlife employee Karen Sullivan who
attended a recent Navy scoping session (not pictured) told Truthout,
"The Navy is behaving in a way that makes their sense of 
entitlement very obvious." (Photo: Dahr Jamail)


Lauritzen was frank about what should be done.

"My general concern is that the EIS [environmental impact statement] should be done by an independent party that is reliable and has a good reputation. But the Navy is doing their own EIS, so that means they are withholding information and only giving out what they want, and being quite vague on specifics," he said.


Port Townsend Mayor David King, who expressed his concerns 
with the Navy's plans of increasing the number of jets 
and ensuing noise pollution. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)


David King, the mayor of Port Townsend, a small town on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula that would be heavily impacted by increased jet noise as well as affected economically from the Navy's plans, was also present at the Navy's recent scoping meeting in his town to express his concerns.


"My main concern is that over the last year we've heard much more noise impacts than we've heard in prior years," King told Truthout. "And a further expansion of the Growler fleet seems to me to indicate that that situation will only get worse."

King plans to talk with city officials in other towns and cities that will be impacted by the Navy's plans.

Truthout contacted the Navy and asked if the Navy had conducted studies that would disprove the more than 1,000 studies and papers that show negative impacts on biological organisms resulting from EMF radiation, and if so, where could the results be viewed.

Naval Public Affairs Officer Mike Welding provided the following response:

The Navy uses the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) "Standard for Safety Levels with Respect to Human Exposure to Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields, 3 kHz to 300 GHz," to make its determinations. The IEEE standard serves as a consensus standard developed by representatives of industry, government agencies, the scientific community and the public. Additionally, the Navy has a long history of using these systems safely and employed them successfully to provide our aviators the training they need without incident or adverse effects.

Welding also provided the "NAS Whidbey Island's Electronic Warfare fact sheet," which repeatedly stated that the Navy's war-gaming has "no adverse effects to people or the environment," but failed to provide any evidence to support these claims.

Welding did not provide any specific response to Truthout's aforementioned questions addressing the scientifically proven negative impacts of EMF radiation on biological organisms.

Sullivan, the Olympic Peninsula resident, is frustrated by the Navy's ongoing lack of adequate responses to people who are concerned about the possible war-gaming, and was frank about what she thought would be required to stop the electromagnetic warfare training plans for the Western Olympic Peninsula.

"The Navy is behaving in a way that makes their sense of entitlement very obvious," she said. "And I have been told by a congressional staffer that this is probably going to have to be settled in court."


Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.
His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in Washington State.

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Bringing Gaza to the Homeland: Israeli High-Tech Armors Up US Border

Gaza in Arizona: How Israeli High-Tech Firms Will Up-Armor the U.S.-Mexican Border 

by Todd Miller and Gabriel M. Schivone - TomDispatch

It was October 2012. Roei Elkabetz, a brigadier general for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was explaining his country’s border policing strategies. In his PowerPoint presentation, a photo of the enclosure wall that isolates the Gaza Strip from Israel clicked onscreen. “We have learned lots from Gaza,” he told the audience. “It’s a great laboratory.”

Elkabetz was speaking at a border technology conference and fair surrounded by a dazzling display of technology -- the components of his boundary-building lab. There were surveillance balloons with high-powered cameras floating over a desert-camouflaged armored vehicle made by Lockheed Martin. There were seismic sensor systems used to detect the movement of people and other wonders of the modern border-policing world. Around Elkabetz, you could see vivid examples of where the future of such policing was heading, as imagined not by a dystopian science fiction writer but by some of the top corporate techno-innovators on the planet.

Swimming in a sea of border security, the brigadier general was, however, not surrounded by the Mediterranean but by a parched West Texas landscape. He was in El Paso, a 10-minute walk from the wall that separates the United States from Mexico.

Just a few more minutes on foot and Elkabetz could have watched green-striped U.S. Border Patrol vehicles inching along the trickling Rio Grande in front of Ciudad Juarez, one of Mexico’s largest cities filled with U.S. factories and the dead of that country’s drug wars. The Border Patrol agents whom the general might have spotted were then being up-armored with a lethal combination of surveillance technologies, military hardware, assault rifles, helicopters, and drones. This once-peaceful place was being transformed into what Timothy Dunn, in his book The Militarization of the U.S. Mexico Border, terms a state of “low-intensity warfare.”
Tomgram: Miller and Schivone, Bringing the Battlefield to the Border

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: For those of you fascinated by America’s borderlands, note that for another week you can get a signed, personalized copy of Todd Miller’s book Border Patrol Nation in return for a $100 contribution to this site, as you can my book Shadow Government, Maya Schenwar’s new book, Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn't Work and How We Can Do Better, and other offerings. Just check out our donation page for the details. Tom]

Predator drones, tested out in this country’s distant war zones, have played an increasingly prominent role in the up-armoring of the U.S.-Mexican border. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched its first Predator in 2004, but only really ramped up drone use in March 2013. There have been approximately 10,000 Predator flights along that border since. The agency had plans to expand its ten-Predator fleet -- nine after a $12 million maritime drone crashed off the California coast, as those robotic planes are wont to do -- to 24. It was going to dispatch some of them to the Canadian border as well. (You never know, after all, what dark forces might descend on us from the chilly north.) The CBP even got into the chummy habit of encouraging interagency drone-addiction by loaning its Predators out to the FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the U.S. Forest Service, among other places. You might say that the CBP was distinctly high on drones.

Only one problem: the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general recently audited the use of drones on the border and issued a scathing report, calling them “dubious achievers” and essentially declaring them an enormous waste of money, time, and personnel. At $12,255 a flight hour (when not simply grounded), military-grade drones turned out to cost way more than the CBP estimated or reported, flew far less often, and helped find a mere 2% of the immigrants crossing the border without papers. As Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post reported, “Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of border-crossing apprehensions were attributed to drone detection.” The inspector general suggested that the CBP should, among other things, shelve its plans to expand its drone fleet (at the cost of a mere $443 million).

Based on such a report from the IG -- the CBP is part of the Department of Homeland Security -- you might assume that it would be curtains for the drone program. But if you’re a betting kind of guy in twenty-first-century Washington, you’re not going to put your money on any self-respecting part of the national security state giving up, or even cutting back, on its high-tech toys. Drones, after all, are sexy as hell and what self-respecting government official wouldn’t want a machine onto which you could attach even more seductively high-tech devices like Vader (think deep, breathy voice, though the acronym stands for “Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar”), a set of sensors that can detect motion on the ground. So CBP has instead struck back, accusing the inspector general of cherry-picking his data and misconstruing more or less everything.

Meanwhile, the drones continue to fly and the CBP, as Todd Miller who covers the militarization of America’s borders for TomDispatch has long noted, remains gaga for high-tech border toys of just about any sort. Today, Miller and Gabriel Schivone suggest that, whatever waste and extravagance may be involved, our already heavily technologized borders and the increasingly robot-filled skies over them are just at the beginning of an era of border-closing high-tech extravaganzas. When it comes to visions of how to shut down the world, it’s evidently time to call in the real experts, the Israelis, who live in a country without fully demarcated borders, and yet have had a remarkable amount of experience building high-tech walls. Tom

Gaza in Arizona: How Israeli High-Tech Firms Will Up-Armor the U.S.-Mexican Border 

by Todd Miller and Gabriel M. Schivone

 

The Border Surge


On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration reform. Addressing the American people, he referred to bipartisan immigration legislation passed by the Senate in June 2013 that would, among other things, further up-armor the same landscape in what’s been termed -- in language adopted from recent U.S. war zones -- a “border surge.” The president bemoaned the fact that the bill had been stalled in the House of Representatives, hailing it as a “compromise” that “reflected common sense.” It would, he pointed out, “have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents, while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.”

In the wake of his announcement, including executive actions that would protect five to six million of those immigrants from future deportation, the national debate was quickly framed as a conflict between Republicans and Democrats. Missed in this partisan war of words was one thing: the initial executive action that Obama announced involved a further militarization of the border supported by both parties.

“First,” the president said, “we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings and speed the return of those who do cross over.” Without further elaboration, he then moved on to other matters.

If, however, the United States follows the “common sense” of the border-surge bill, the result could add more than $40 billion dollars worth of agents, advanced technologies, walls, and other barriers to an already unparalleled border enforcement apparatus. And a crucial signal would be sent to the private sector that, as the trade magazine Homeland Security Today puts it, another “treasure trove” of profit is on the way for a border control market already, according to the latest forecasts, in an “unprecedented boom period.”

Like the Gaza Strip for the Israelis, the U.S. borderlands, dubbed a “constitution-free zone” by the ACLU, are becoming a vast open-air laboratory for tech companies. There, almost any form of surveillance and “security” can be developed, tested, and showcased, as if in a militarized shopping mall, for other nations across the planet to consider. In this fashion, border security is becoming a global industry and few corporate complexes can be more pleased by this than the one that has developed in Elkabetz’s Israel.

The Palestine-Mexico Border


Consider the IDF brigadier general’s presence in El Paso two years ago an omen. After all, in February 2014, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency in charge of policing our borders, contracted with Israel’s giant private military manufacturer Elbit Systems to build a “virtual wall,” a technological barrier set back from the actual international divide in the Arizona desert. That company, whose U.S.-traded stock shot up by 6% during Israel’s massive military operation against Gaza in the summer of 2014, will bring the same databank of technology used in Israel’s borderlands -- Gaza and the West Bank -- to Southern Arizona through its subsidiary Elbit Systems of America.

With approximately 12,000 employees and, as it boasts, “10+ years securing the world’s most challenging borders,” Elbit produces an arsenal of “homeland security systems.” These include surveillance land vehicles, mini-unmanned aerial systems, and “smart fences,” highly fortified steel barriers that have the ability to sense a person’s touch or movement. In its role as lead system integrator for Israel’s border technology plan, the company has already installed smart fences in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

In Arizona, with up to a billion dollars potentially at its disposal, CBP has tasked Elbit with creating a “wall” of “integrated fixed towers” containing the latest in cameras, radar, motion sensors, and control rooms. Construction will start in the rugged, desert canyons around Nogales. Once a DHS evaluation deems that part of the project effective, the rest will be built to monitor the full length of the state’s borderlands with Mexico. Keep in mind, however, that these towers are only one part of a broader operation, the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan. At this stage, it’s essentially a blueprint for an unprecedented infrastructure of high-tech border fortifications that has attracted the attention of many companies.

This is not the first time Israeli companies have been involved in a U.S. border build-up. In fact, in 2004, Elbit’s Hermes drones were the first unmanned aerial vehicles to take to the skies to patrol the southern border. In 2007, according to Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine, the Golan Group, an Israeli consulting company made up of former IDF Special Forces officers, provided an intensive eight-day course for special DHS immigration agents covering “everything from hand-to-hand combat to target practice to ‘getting proactive with their SUV.’” The Israeli company NICE Systems even supplied Arizona’s Joe Arpaio,“America’s toughest sheriff,” with a surveillance system to watch one of his jails.

As such border cooperation intensified, journalist Jimmy Johnson coined the apt phrase “Palestine-Mexico border” to catch what was happening. In 2012, Arizona state legislators, sensing the potential economic benefit of this growing collaboration, declared their desert state and Israel to be natural “trade partners,” adding that it was “a relationship we seek to enhance.”

In this way, the doors were opened to a new world order in which the United States and Israel are to become partners in the “laboratory” that is the U.S.-Mexican borderlands. Its testing grounds are to be in Arizona. There, largely through a program known as Global Advantage, American academic and corporate knowhow and Mexican low-wage manufacturing are to fuse with Israel’s border and homeland security companies.

The Border: Open for Business


No one may frame the budding romance between Israel’s high-tech companies and Arizona better than Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “If you go to Israel and you come to Southern Arizona and close your eyes and spin yourself a few times,” he says, “you might not be able to tell the difference.”

Global Advantage is a business project based on a partnership between the University of Arizona’s Tech Parks Arizona and the Offshore Group, a business advisory and housing firm which offers “nearshore solutions for manufacturers of any size” just across the border in Mexico. Tech Parks Arizona has the lawyers, accountants, and scholars, as well as the technical knowhow, to help any foreign company land softly and set up shop in the state. It will aid that company in addressing legal issues, achieving regulatory compliance, and even finding qualified employees -- and through a program it’s called the Israel Business Initiative, Global Advantage has identified its target country.

Think of it as the perfect example of a post-NAFTA world in which companies dedicated to stopping border crossers are ever freer to cross the same borders themselves. In the spirit of free trade that created the NAFTA treaty, the latest border fortification programs are designed to eliminate borders when it comes to letting high-tech companies from across the seas set up in the United States and make use of Mexico’s manufacturing base to create their products. While Israel and Arizona may be separated by thousands of miles, Rothschild assured TomDispatch that in “economics, there are no borders.”

Of course, what the mayor appreciates, above all, is the way new border technology could bring money and jobs into an area with a nearly 23% poverty rate. How those jobs might be created matters far less to him. According to Molly Gilbert, the director of community engagement for the Tech Parks Arizona, “It’s really about development, and we want to create technology jobs in our borderlands.”

So consider it anything but an irony that, in this developing global set of boundary-busting partnerships, the factories that will produce the border fortresses designed by Elbit and other Israeli and U.S. high-tech firms will mainly be located in Mexico. Ill-paid Mexican blue-collar workers will, then, manufacture the very components of a future surveillance regime, which may well help locate, detain, arrest, incarcerate, and expel some of them if they try to cross into the United States.

Think of Global Advantage as a multinational assembly line, a place where homeland security meets NAFTA. Right now there are reportedly 10 to 20 Israeli companies in active discussion about joining the program. Bruce Wright, the CEO of Tech Parks Arizona, tells TomDispatch that his organization has a “nondisclosure” agreement with any companies that sign on and so cannot reveal their names.

Though cautious about officially claiming success for Global Advantage’s Israel Business Initiative, Wright brims with optimism about his organization’s cross-national planning. As he talks in a conference room located on the 1,345-acre park on the southern outskirts of Tucson, it’s apparent that he's buoyed by predictions that the Homeland Security market will grow from a $51 billion annual business in 2012 to $81 billion in the United States alone by 2020, and $544 billion worldwide by 2018.

Wright knows as well that submarkets for border-related products like video surveillance, non-lethal weaponry, and people-screening technologies are all advancing rapidly and that the U.S. market for drones is poised to create 70,000 new jobs by 2016. Partially fueling this growth is what the Associated Press calls an “unheralded shift” to drone surveillance on the U.S. southern divide. More than 10,000 drone flights have been launched into border air space since March 2013, with plans for many more, especially after the Border Patrol doubles its fleet.

When Wright speaks, it’s clear he knows that his park sits atop a twenty-first-century gold mine. As he sees it, Southern Arizona, aided by his tech park, will become the perfect laboratory for the first cluster of border security companies in North America. He’s not only thinking about the 57 southern Arizona companies already identified as working in border security and management, but similar companies nationwide and across the globe, especially in Israel.

In fact, Wright's aim is to follow Israel’s lead, as it is now the number-one place for such groupings. In his case, the Mexican border would simply replace that country’s highly marketed Palestinian testing grounds. The 18,000 linear feet that surround the tech park’s solar panel farm would, for example, be a perfect spot to test out motion sensors. Companies could also deploy, evaluate, and test their products “in the field,” as he likes to say -- that is, where real people are crossing real borders -- just as Elbit Systems did before CBP gave it the contract.

“If we’re going to be in bed with the border on a day-to-day basis, with all of its problems and issues, and there’s a solution to it,” Wright said in a 2012 interview, “why shouldn’t we be the place where the issue is solved and we get the commercial benefit from it?”

From the Battlefield to the Border


When Naomi Weiner, project coordinator for the Israel Business Initiative, returned from a trip to that country with University of Arizona researchers in tow, she couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the possibilities for collaboration. She arrived back in November, just a day before Obama announced his new executive actions -- a promising declaration for those, like her, in the business of bolstering border defenses.

“We’ve chosen areas where Israel is very strong and Southern Arizona is very strong,” Weiner explained to TomDispatch, pointing to the surveillance industry “synergy” between the two places. For example, one firm her team met with in Israel was Brightway Vision, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems. If it decides to set up shop in Arizona, it could use tech park expertise to further develop and refine its thermal imaging cameras and goggles, while exploring ways to repurpose those military products for border surveillance applications. The Offshore Group would then manufacture the cameras and goggles in Mexico.

Arizona, as Weiner puts it, possesses the “complete package” for such Israeli companies. “We’re sitting right on the border, close to Fort Huachuca,” a nearby military base where, among other things, technicians control the drones surveilling the borderlands. “We have the relationship with Customs and Border Protection, so there’s a lot going on here. And we’re also the Center of Excellence on Homeland Security.”

Weiner is referring to the fact that, in 2008, DHS designated the University of Arizona the lead school for the Center of Excellence on Border Security and Immigration. Thanks to that, it has since received millions of dollars in federal grants. Focusing on research and development of border-policing technologies, the center is a place where, among other things, engineers are studying locust wings in order to create miniature drones equipped with cameras that can get into the tiniest of spaces near ground level, while large drones like the Predator B continue to buzz over the borderlands at 30,000 feet (despite the fact that a recent audit by the inspector general of homeland security found them a waste of money).

Although the Arizona-Israeli romance is still in the courtship stage, excitement about its possibilities is growing. Officials from Tech Parks Arizona see Global Advantage as the perfect way to strengthen the U.S.-Israel “special relationship.” There is no other place in the world with a higher concentration of homeland security tech companies than Israel. Six hundred tech start-ups are launched in Tel Aviv alone every year. During the Gaza offensive last summer, Bloomberg reported that investment in such companies had “actually accelerated.” However, despite the periodic military operations in Gaza and the incessant build-up of the Israeli homeland security regime, there are serious limitations to the local market.

The Israeli Ministry of Economy is painfully aware of this. Its officials know that the growth of the Israeli economy is “largely fueled by a steady increase in exports and foreign investment.” The government coddles, cultivates, and supports these start-up tech companies until their products are market-ready. Among them have been innovations like the “skunk,” a liquid with a putrid odor meant to stop unruly crowds in their tracks. The ministry has also been successful in taking such products to market across the globe. In the decade following 9/11, sales of Israeli “security exports” rose from $2 billion to $7 billion annually.

Israeli companies have sold surveillance drones to Latin American countries like Mexico, Chile, and Colombia, and massive security systems to India and Brazil, where an electro-optic surveillance system will be deployed along the country’s borders with Paraguay and Bolivia. They have also been involved in preparations for policing the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. The products of Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries are now in use from the Americas and Europe to Australia. Meanwhile, that mammoth security firm is ever more involved in finding “civilian applications” for its war technologies. It is also ever more dedicated to bringing the battlefield to the world’s borderlands, including southern Arizona.

As geographer Joseph Nevins notes, although there are many differences between the political situations of the U.S. and Israel, both Israel-Palestine and Arizona share a focus on keeping out “those deemed permanent outsiders,” whether Palestinians, undocumented Latin Americans, or indigenous people.

Mohyeddin Abdulaziz has seen this “special relationship” from both sides, as a Palestinian refugee whose home and village Israeli military forces destroyed in 1967 and as a long-time resident of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. A founding member of the Southern Arizona BDS Network, whose goal is to pressure U.S. divestment from Israeli companies, Abdulaziz opposes any program like Global Advantage that will contribute to the further militarization of the border, especially when it also sanitizes Israel’s “violations of human rights and international law.”

Such violations matter little, of course, when there is money to be made, as Brigadier General Elkabetz indicated at that 2012 border technology conference. Given the direction that both the U.S. and Israel are taking when it comes to their borderlands, the deals being brokered at the University of Arizona look increasingly like matches made in heaven (or perhaps hell). As a result, there is truth packed into journalist Dan Cohen’s comment that “Arizona is the Israel of the United States.”

Todd Miller, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Homeland Security. He has written on border and immigration issues for the New York Times, Al Jazeera America, and NACLA Report on the Americas and its blog Border Wars, among other places. You can follow him on twitter @memomiller and view more of his work at toddwmiller.wordpress.com.

Gabriel M. Schivone, a writer from Tucson, has worked as a humanitarian volunteer in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands for more than six years. He blogs at Electronic Intifada and Huffington Post's "Latino Voices." His articles have appeared in the Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Republic, StudentNation, the Guardian, and McClatchy Newspapers, among other publications. You can follow him on Twitter @GSchivone.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Todd Miller and Gabriel M. Schivone
 

Designing Future: Car-Free Cities

Global shift away from cars saves US$100 trillion, eliminates 1,700 MT of CO2 pollution

by ITDP.org


Urban transportation systems an emerging priority ahead of UN climate and sustainable development meetings

NEW YORK - More than $100 trillion in cumulative public and private spending, and 1,700 megatons of annual carbon dioxide (CO2); a 40 percent reduction of urban passenger transport emissions; could be eliminated by 2050 if the world expands public transportation, walking and cycling in cities, according to a new report released by the University of California, Davis, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

Further, an estimated 1.4 million early deaths could be avoided annually by 2050 if governments require the strongest vehicle pollution controls and ultralow-sulfur fuels, according to a related analysis of these urban vehicle activity pathways by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) included in the report.

"Transportation, driven by rapid growth in car use, has been the fastest growing source of CO2 in the world, said Michael Replogle, ITDP's managing director for policy and co-author of the report. "An affordable but largely overlooked way to cut that pollution is to give people clean options to use public transportation, walking and cycling, expanding mobility options especially for the poor and curbing air pollution from traffic."

"The analysis shows that getting away from car-centric development will cut urban CO2 dramatically and also reduce costs, especially in rapidly expanding economies," said report co-author Lew Fulton, co-director of NextSTEPS Program at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis.

"It is also critical to reduce the energy use and carbon emissions of all vehicles."

The report, A Global High Shift Scenario, is the first study to examine how major changes in transport investments worldwide would affect urban passenger transport emissions as well as the mobility of different income groups. The authors calculated CO2 emissions in 2050 under two scenarios, a business-as-usual scenario and a "High Shift" scenario where governments significantly increased rail and clean bus transport, especially Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and helped urban areas provide infrastructure to ensure safe walking, bicycling and other active forms of transportation. The projections also include moving investments away from road construction, parking garages and other ways that encourage car ownership.

Under this High Shift, not only would CO2 emissions plummet, but the net financial impact of this shift would be an enormous savings over the next 35 years, covering construction, operating, vehicle and fuel-related costs.

The report was released at the United Nations Habitat III Preparatory Meeting in New York on September 17th, in advance of the September 23rd United Nations Secretary-General's Climate Summit, where many nations and corporations will announce voluntary commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including new efforts focused on sustainable transportation.

"This timely study is a significant contribution to the evidence base showing that public transport should play central role in visions for the city of tomorrow" says Alain Flausch, Secretary General of the International Association of Public Transport, and member of UN Secretary General's Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport.

Better Mobility Leads to Social Mobility


The new report also describes sustainable transportation as a key factor in economic development. Under the High Shift scenario, mass transit access is projected to more than triple for the lowest income groups and more than double for the second lowest groups. Notably, the overall mobility evens out between income groups, providing those more impoverished with better access to employment and services that can improve their family livelihoods.

"Today and out to 2050, lower income groups will have limited access to cars in most countries under almost any scenario; improving access to modern, clean, high-capacity public transport is crucial," said Fulton.

"Unmanaged growth in motor vehicle use threatens to exacerbate growing income inequality and environmental ills, while more sustainable transport delivers access for all, reducing these ills. This report's findings should help support wider agreement on climate policy, where costs and equity of the cleanup burden between rich and poor are key issues," noted Replogle.

Emission Standards Save Lives


Air pollution is a leading cause of early death, responsible for more than 3.2 million early deaths annually. Exposure to vehicle tailpipe emissions is associated with increased risk of early death from cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer, as well as respiratory infections in children. Car and diesel exhaust also increases the risk of non-fatal health outcomes, including asthma and cardiovascular disease.

The International Council on Clean Transportation evaluated the impacts of urban travel by cars, motorcycles, trucks and buses on the number of early deaths from exposure to soot emitted directly from vehicle tailpipes.

"Future growth in vehicle activity could produce a four-fold increase in associated early deaths by 2050, even with a global shift to mass transit," said ICCT's Joshua Miller, a contributor to the study. 
 "We could avoid about 1.4 million early deaths annually if national leaders committed to a global policy roadmap that requires the strongest vehicle pollution controls and ultralow-sulfur fuels."

Cleaner buses alone would account for 20 percent of these benefits.

Fuel Economy Standards Save Fuel and Cut CO2 Emissions


While this study has not focused on further actions to boost motor vehicle fuel economy, it takes into account existing policies that, in the International Energy Agency's Baseline scenario, improve average new car fuel economy by 32 percent in countries that belong to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 of the world's most developed, democratic, market economies, and 23 percent in non-OECD countries.

The High Shift scenario increases this to 36 percent and 27 percent respectively, due to improved in-use driving conditions and a slight shift to smaller vehicles. However, the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) calls for much more: a 50 percent reduction in fuel use per kilometer for light-duty vehicles worldwide by 2030. Achieving the GFEI 2030 goal could reduce 700 megatons of CO2 annually beyond the 1,700 reduction possible from a High Shift scenario.

Taken together, achieving this fuel economy goal with better public transport, walking and cycling could cut annual urban passenger transport CO2 emissions in 2050 by 55 percent from what they might otherwise be in 2050 and 10 percent below 2010 levels.

Cutting Emissions with Sustainable Transportation Across the World's Cities


Transportation in urban areas accounted for about 2,300 megatons of CO2 in 2010, almost one quarter of carbon emissions from all parts of the transportation sector. Rapid urbanization - especially in fast developing countries like China and India - will cause these emissions to double by 2050 in the baseline scenario.

Among the countries examined in the study, three stand out:

  • United States: Currently the world leader in urban passenger transportation CO2 emissions, with nearly 670 megatons annually, the US is projected to lower these emissions to 560 megatons by 2050 because of slower population growth, higher fuel efficiencies, and a decline in driving per person that has already started as people move back to cities. But this pace can be sharply accelerated with more sustainable transportation options, dropping to about 280 megatons, under the High Shift scenario.
  • China: CO2 emissions from transportation are expected to mushroom from 190 megatons annually to more than 1,100 megatons, due in large part to the explosive growth of China's urban areas, the growing wealth of Chinese consumers, and their dependence on automobiles. But this increase can be slashed to 650 megatons under the High Shift scenario, in which cities develop extensive BRT and metro systems. The latest data show China is already sharply increasing investments in public transport.
  • India: CO2 emissions are projected to leap from about 70 megatons today to 540 megatons by 2050, also because of growing wealth and urban populations. But this increase can be moderated to only 350 megatons, under the High Shift scenario, by addressing crucial deficiencies in India's public transport.


The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) is a global nonprofit that helps cities design and implement high-quality transit systems to make communities more livable, competitive and sustainable. ITDP works with cities worldwide to bring about transport solutions that cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce poverty, and improve the quality of urban life. Please visit http://www.itdp.org for more information.

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) is a non-profit research organization dedicated to improving the environmental performance and efficiency of transportation to protect public health, the environment, and quality of life. ICCT provides national and local policymakers with technical analysis of regulations, fiscal incentives, and other measures for clean vehicles and fuels. For more information, please visit http://www.theicct.org.

Citizen Sterling: Whistleblower Faces :Justice" on Leak Case

CIA Leak Trial: “This Case Is Not About Politics” [sic]

by Norman Solomon - ExposeFacts.org

Continuing to deliberate as this week gets underway, the jurors in the CIA leak trial might ponder a notable claim from the government: “This case is not about politics.”

The prosecution made that claim a few days ago in closing arguments — begun with a somber quotation from Condoleezza Rice about the crucial need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

Of course prosecutor Eric Olshan was not foolish enough to quote Rice’s most famous line:

“We don’t want the smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud.”

During the seven days of the trial, which received scant media coverage, Rice attracted the most attention. But little of her testimony actually got out of the courtroom, and little of what did get out illuminated the political context of the government’s case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling.

A heavy shroud over this trial — almost hidden by news media in plain sight — has been context: the CIA’s collusion with the Bush White House a dozen years ago, using WMD fear and fabrication to stampede the United States into making war on Iraq.

And part of the ongoing context of the Sterling case has been the Obama administration’s unrelenting pursuit of Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information — revealed in the last chapter of a book by James Risen — about a now-15-year-old CIA operation that’s far more suitable for Freedom of Information Act disclosures than criminal prosecution. The jury is weighing nine felony counts, including seven under the atrociously misapplied Espionage Act.

It was just six weeks after the invasion of Iraq when, at the end of April 2003, Rice hosted a meeting at the White House to tell representatives of the New York Times that the newspaper should not report on Operation Merlin, the CIA’s ill-conceived and dangerous maneuver that had provided a flawed design for a nuclear weapon component to Iran three years earlier.

The Times management caved within a week. Only Risen’s book State of War, published in January 2006, finally brought Operation Merlin to light.

Rice was in her usual smooth form at the Sterling trial. Emphatic that the CIA’s Operation Merlin was hardly known to anyone, Rice testified: “This program was very closely held. It was one of the most closely held programs during my tenure.” Yet the CIA manager in charge of Operation Merlin (“Bob S,” who appeared at the trial behind a screen) testified that the operation was known to more than 90 people.

Helping to lay groundwork for the Iraq invasion, Rice was a key enabler for the CIA’s slam-dunk mendacity about Saddam Hussein’s purported weapons of mass destruction. More than a decade later, she has used the Sterling trial as an opportunity for more distortion of the historical record, as though her quash-the-Merlin-story meeting at the White House in 2003 was free of self-service.

The prosecution helped Rice settle into her stance:

Q: “Now, was the purpose of your convening this meeting out of any sort of embarrassment that it would get out that there had been a botched operation?”

RICE: “My concern in convening this meeting was that we had a very sensitive, extremely important program for the security of the country that was about to be compromised . . . That was my concern.”

But one of the prosecution’s main concerns, no doubt shared by Rice, had to do with insulating the trial from intrusive context — a context that could explain why any whistleblower or journalist might want to expose and debunk Operation Merlin — an operation targeting a supposed nuclear weapons program in Iran, a country that the Bush administration was eager to attack with the goal of regime change.

When the time came for Rice to face cross-examination, defense lawyer Barry Pollack tried to blow away some fog:

Q: “[P]reventing working nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of rogue states is one of the most important missions of your, the administration you worked for certainly –”

RICE: “Yes.”

Q: “– and any other administration, correct?”

RICE: “That’s correct.”

Q: “And certainly counterproliferation was of great interest at this particular time, correct?”

RICE: “That’s correct.”

Q: “The United States had invaded Iraq the earlier month?”

PROSECUTOR OLSHAN: “Objection.”

JUDGE LEONIE BRINKEMA: “Well, we’ve heard that before. Let’s just move this along, Mr. Pollack. Sustained.”

A week later, in the closing arguments, Pollack — who noted that “the government has great lawyers” — told the jury: “Make no mistake. This is a very important case for the government.” He pointedly reminded jurors that the last chapter in Risen’s book “made the CIA look bad.”

Minutes later, wrapping up the prosecution’s closing statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Trump declared:

“This case is not about politics. It’s not about salvaging the reputation of the CIA.”

But, no matter how great the government’s lawyers may be, the case of United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling has everything to do with politics and the CIA’s reputation.


Norman Solomon is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Reviewing Risen's Pay Any Price

Pay Any Price - Greed, Power and Endless War by James Risen

by Jim Miles - Foreign Policy Journal

Following the events in Paris at Hebdo Charlie and the accompanying media frenzy concerning freedom of expression and freedom of the press, James Risen’s recent book Pay Any Price becomes, ironically, even more important than its original intention of uncovering the abuses of governmental power that tend to be hidden from view of the mainstream media.

Much of what Risen writes about are the efforts of the government and its various agencies and cohorts trying to maintain secrecy around its efforts to keep the endless war going in order to keep the profits rolling in.

Following on a previous expose on the CIA (State of War, Free Press, 2006) that highlighted the secrecy and manipulations of the CIA within the Bush “war on terror”, Pay Any Price highlights how the Obama administration is a continuation of the Bush administration. “Obama’s great achievement - or great sin - was to make the national security state permanent.”

“America has become accustomed to a permanent state of war….the creation of a homeland security complex at a time of endless war has bequeathed us with the central narrative of the war on terror - modern tales of greed joined hand in hand with stories of abuse of power.”

Each chapter focuses on one or two particular story lines to highlight the activities of these deeper government activities and their efforts to keep them quiet. Quirky characters who managed to ingratiate themselves with the powerful in Washington are presented alongside those who have stood against the tide of corruption, secrecy, greed and power.

Business, money and power


The first chapter, “Pallets of Cash” explores the billions of dollars in cash that were distributed in Iraq during the 2003 war, much of which went missing, unaccounted for, while a couple billion more are reportedly stored in a Lebanon ‘safe site’. One of Risen’s current problems stems from the nature of his sources, many of whom he does not identify - for obvious reasons - but who are of interest to the powers that be in order to squelch them. As for the billions of dollars of missing cash, one has to wonder how much of that has gone to fund the strange rise of ISIS, its well armed devotees, and its well trained units.

In “The Emperor of the War on Terror”, the story of Dennis Montgomery’s scam of the CIA creating “one of the most elaborate and dangerous hoaxes in American history” is outlined. The CIA “buried the episode and acted like it never happened...trying to block any information about Montgomery and his schemes from becoming public.” More wonder, as this puts into question all the ‘saves’ claimed by the government against supposed terrorist actions.

As with all wars, money is to be made. “The New Oligarchs” looks at the companies and personnel involved with the drone wars (General Atomics), Abu Ghraib (CACI), and the training of Afghan police (Dyncorp). Power is the accompaniment to money. In “Rosetta”, Risen outlines the convoluted history of the 9/11 lawsuit against the Saudi financial elites. It is an awkward story to follow as shady characters acting within the shadows of government (including some within government) work towards their own ends, not necessarily those of the plaintiffs.

“The web of relationships that developed among Motley Rice, Mike Asimos, Rosetta, the Pentagon, the FBI, and the DEA operated completely outside the government’s normal intelligence-gathering processes….so dependent on personal contacts that few people in the government ever had the nerve to go back and try to unravel exactly what happened.”

The story of Rosetta shows how Bush “reached for a national security answer to terrorism rather than a law enforcement solution....using the courts was never an option.” It also shows how “greed and ambition have been married to unlimited rivers of cash” to create “rogue intelligence operations with little or no adult supervision.”

These currents of cash, power and ambition continue in the next chapter, “Alarbus”, a tale of “a runaway covert action program” underscoring “how greed and the hunt for cash have all too often become the main objects of the war on terror.”

Not to be outdone for cash and power, “Too Big To Fail” looks at KBR, the spin off from Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, the former “connected to the “vast majority” of war-zone fraud cases referred to investigators.” KBR became the “biggest money machine of the Iraq war”, with a “contracting bonanza on an unprecedented scale,” and a “virtual monopoly over basic services,” giving KBR “enormous influence and inevitably helped shape the course of the war.”

Humanity


Part III, “Endless War,” has three chapters titled “The War on... Decency/Normalcy/Truth.” The overriding theme concerns the lack of respect in general for humanity and what should be humanitarian principles of interaction domestically and with foreign affairs. It is the story of torture, domestic security in the physical sense, and finally the efforts of the NSA to establish itself as the hub of cyberspace security around the world.

The first idea, decency, examines the excuses and abuses for the application of torture, an idea that has surfaced before (1) and more recently with the Senate report (2) condemning the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation. Risen’s story follows that of Damien Corsetti, who described Abu Ghraib, “if an evil place ever existed, that was it. It was all just death and fucking death. That single place changed everyone who was there. A cancerous growth went on there.” As should be common knowledge, “The only people who have been held to account are those who were at the very bottom of the chain of command.”

The whole torture archipelago, which extended well beyond Abu Ghraib and the CIA, “was built on a myth...despite strong evidence to the contrary.” The newly redefined torture tactics - “enhanced interrogation techniques” - “had been originally designed to break men and force them to spout lies and propaganda,” but the advocates claimed “they would elicit the truth, and not lies and propaganda. In the upside down world of the global war on terror, their explanations were widely accepted.”

After reading this chapter, another wonder rises: why would anyone bother to visit a psychiatrist or psychologist, as they and their associations were complicit in the torture setup.

“The War on Normalcy” first explores the towns of Derbyline, VT, and Stanstead, Quebec, really just one village bisected by the international border and, before 9/11, without any concerns about citizens meandering back and forth going about their daily business. That of course changed post 9/11, as one resident said, “There’s no negotiating with these people [Homeland Security]. It’s totally senseless. There is no thought put into it. Al Qaeda has won. They have changed our lives.” Big business, big money, has also won.

To this day, “The rush to transform the United States from an open society to a walled fortress...has not been curbed by the killing of Osama bin Laden.” The U.S., and indeed much of the western world, has succumbed to the fear of terror, “reinforced by the network of independent terrorism analysts that has grown up around the global war on terror….by consistently warning that America is under siege [they] have built a cottage industry out of fear.”

Terror is used as a political strength. “In the White House and Congress...American leaders have learned that keeping the terrorist threat alive provides enormous political benefits.” It is also used to create wealth for those in power and connected to power, “Fear sustains the multibillion dollar security industry through both Republican and Democratic administrations.”

This fear factor carries over into the final chapter, “The War on Truth,” which discusses the burgeoning role of the NSA and cyber security. It is

“the story of the people who tried to stop the NSA’s domestic spying program...in the face of money, power, and greed. It is also the story of how government secrecy - and a crackdown on whistleblowers - has enabled the worst excesses of the post 9/11 era to go unchecked, from torture to data mining on a massive scale. Secrecy has enabled a new class of national security entrepreneurs and wild freebooters. Secrecy breeds corruption.”

Secrecy, greed and corruption go together, “government secrecy has prevented the public from understanding the true nature of the cyber threat or knowing the full extent of the government’s intrusions into their online privacy in the name of cybersecurity.” There is, as per Edward Snowden, “little real difference between cybersecurity and domestic surveillance.”

There is now a whole new cybersecurity industrial complex, one which is also used offensively, as “the NSA is now one of the world’s leaders in the use of offensive cyberattacks,” and “has been behind some of the most sophisticated and damaging cyberattacks ever mounted,” - except of course for those we do not hear about, either from the U.S./Israel side, or the ‘other - evil’ side.

In closing, Risen says that his response to both the government’s campaign against him and to the endless wars and endless fear factors, is the writing of Pay Any Price. It is his answer as “to how best challenge the government’s draconian efforts to crack down on aggressive investigative journalism and suppress the truth in the name of ceaseless war.”

Risen’s writing is clear and concise. He notes when certain personnel have refused comment on a particular subject, and has kept some of his sources at their request, from being named. The information he provides is well referenced and he uses outside indicators to support his anecdotal material. It is an enlightening read for the individual stories that are told, and for the repercussions that the global war on terror, and its associated power, greed, and secrecy has had on our daily lives.


Pay Any Price - Greed, Power and Endless War. James Risen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2014.
(1) Two books well worth reading concerning torture, its history, applications and illegalities:

Torture Team – Deception, Cruelty and the Compromise of Law. Philippe Sands. Allen Lane, Penguin. New York. 2008.

http://www.palestinechronicl.com/torture-team-book-review/#.VLRqaZU5D9k

and :

A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror. Alfred W. McCoy. Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Company, New York. 2006

(2) The CIA torture report: The full text of the Senate investigation, National Post. December 9, 2014 (Canada).

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/12/09/the-cia-torture-report-the -full-text-of-the-senate-investigation/