12.13.17

Half a decade since Sandy Hook

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 5:41 pm by George Smith

One change despite general national stasis. Massacres under the Trump administration aren’t accompanied by surges in gun sales. There’s no fear of an imagined coup by liberals.

This graph from the NY Times today begs to be cited, but not for a good reason:

In the five years since the shooting, which transformed a fairly anonymous Connecticut town into a buzzword in the caustic national debate on gun violence, armed men have killed people at a nightclub, an outdoor music festival, a social services center, movie theaters, a church in South Carolina and a church in Texas.

Massacres are met with a collective shrug; they’re automatically political but with a new president who has no obvious interest in saying anything about them. The brutal killing of twenty very young children and six adults was the moment it became impossible to do anything about slaughters. When the country demonstrated that it would do nothing after a barabarity against children it conceded nothing could ever be done.

Currently. Sheryl Crow has shown some shocked humanity, releasing a a commemorative song on Bandcamp and wondering:

“You would think after Vegas we would see some leadership from our country community,” Crow told the Guardian. “But all I can say about that is if there’s money involved, and fear, these conversations come to a screeching halt.

“There’s no one that I know of in the popular country world that is willing to step out and really to take a stand on this, and that’s really unfortunate.

“I hope there will be people who find a way out of their fear, who stick up for humanity as opposed to sticking with their fanbase or the money that can come along with having those large crowds.”

Crow’s new song, The Dreaming Kind, released on Monday, is a tribute to the 20 young children and six adults who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut five years ago.

The song was inspired, Crow has told the press, by her “real sense of helplessness” after the recent Las Vegas massacre and how to tell her two sons about America’s shootings.

Continued Crow:

Three days before her Sandy Hook tribute song was slated to debut on ABC’s Good Morning America, she told the Guardian, she still had not sat down with her children to explain what had happened at the elementary school in Newtown. Even contemplating that conversation left her shaken.

“I think they won’t understand,” she said. “I’m not even able to fathom that.”

Except for one or two outliers, country music’s big stars haven seen silent. Understandably, big portions of their audiences are so locked into 2nd Amendment mythologies, espousing change would be heard as an attack. Careers would certainly suffer.

Five years after NewTown a trip to YouTube to see the DickDestiny-penned “Gun Nut Folk Tube” makes it clear. There’s no grasp of satire but a very noticeable burning anger in the comments section. (Keep in mind this is a tune that’s only been played 680 some times on YouTube, yet it still attracted gunfire.)

“[My parents] imparted loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage,” wrote one man”. They also set me up with a better moral standard to know right from wrong. I now serve this great country and know what individual freedom and personal responsibility are about more than most. Maybe, you should impart those into this song. If not and you feel it is a wrong country then by all means let me know. I will pay you a one way ticket anywhere you want.”

What honor, integrity and so on have to do with documented gun slaughter is anyone’s guess. But it demostrates that point that argument, even without profanity, has been pointless. Invitations to leave the country drop like leaves in the fall.

And satire has been lost in America for decades. What does remain true is Tom Lehrer’s observation that if you’re doing it right someone’s going to get angry. Pain is part of it. It shows that some part of you is still human.

What remains true in “Gun Nut Folk Tune” is the observation: “In this country life is cheap/For it comes with all the creeps.”

There’s an ocean of mean in the national character and it’s ineradicable.


Dowloadable copy of “Gun Nut Folk Tune” from Soundcloud.

Trivia: The photo is from a “shoot a 50 caliber machine gun business” in Las Vegas.



12.07.17

The ricin pensioner: A sad and ugly tale

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 2:23 pm by George Smith

Seventy year old Betty Miller, accused of making ricin powder to use on herself after testing — unsuccessfully, fortunately — on acquaintances at her retirement home had a dog. On a sign at her apartment:

“I wish I could be the person my dog thinks I am.”

Unspecified in court are citations of mental illness (depression?) and attempts at suicide and a story in which Miller researched basic information on plant poisons on the net, apparently settling on ricin because of castor plants readily available in the home’s garden.

Miller, upon feeling ill, drove herself to the hospital where she revealed she may have been exposed to ricin. Doing that in the context of a hospital triggers the entire anti-terror national network set up over the last decade and a half, summoning everyone from the FBI and Homeland Security to an array of local responding agencies including the state of Vermont, in this case.

Information on various tests has been doled out. The presence of ricinine comfirmed. Ricinine is not ricin, but an organic compound that is viewed as a marker in castor. It can be read about in a toxicological study of ricin poisoning here.

“Ricinine is an alkaloid present in the castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) that can be used as a biomarker for ricin poisoning,” reads another analytical paper in which ricin was used in a suicide.

Although not ill now, an unnamed tenant is said to have tested positive for ricin exposure at the home where Miller is alleged to have tester her powder on others.

Currently, the case is involved in securing Miller’s cellphone so that it may be examined for possible corroborating information.

12.01.17

Ricin pensioner: A first

Posted in Bioterrorism, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 1:24 pm by George Smith

Oldest alleged ricin poisoner ever, in Shelburne, VT.

From WCAX and the FBI:

The FBI says Betty Miller, 70, of Shelburne, was arrested for manufacturing ricin in her apartment. In an affidavit Friday, officials said Miller told them she wanted to harm herself and was testing the toxic poison by sprinkling it on the food and drinks of other Wake Robin residents.

Miller told authorities she found instructions on the internet and over the summer harvested 30-40 castor beans on the Wake Robin campus. She made a total of 2-3 tablespoons of the highly toxic powder and then placed it in multiple servings of other residents’ food and beverages over a period of weeks.

The case developed when “Miller drove herself to the hospital to be checked out.” Regardless of “instructions on the Internet,” no one has been sickened the state health department became “aware of one person who probably became ill with ricin poisoning.”

The update to Arsenic and Old Lace is flabbergasting. Dementia also comes to mind.

UpdatedDementia: “Miller, 70, made her first appearance in federal court on Friday. Judge John Conroy noted that she had a ‘lengthy mental health history’ but did not elaborate.”

Miller’s collection — bottles of “apple seed,” “cherry seed,” and “yew seed” — in addition to her castor seed powder, seem to indicate an ongoing interest iin poisons. Apple and cherry seeds contain minor amounts of amygdalin, a cyanide-group-containing compound. Yew contains an alkaloid.


Roll “Ricin Mama.”

11.29.17

The mystery of pensioner ricin

Posted in Bioterrorism, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 1:35 pm by George Smith

A chin-scratcher from Vermont:

SHELBURNE, Vt. (WCAX) The FBI is now investigating poison found at a Shelburne assisted-living facility.

Police say they responded Tuesday morning to Wake Robin in Shelburne. That’s when they called the hazmat team.

In a statement, state officials say ricin was found in an apartment…

All areas where the substance was found were evacuated and the FBI is assisting in the investigation. A Wake Robin spokeswoman said all the residents are safe.

The big question for police now– how did the poison get there? And why was it there?

Given my years of experience with the subject, you can still never predict incidences having to do with this particularly unique American fascination.


In only slightly related news, Newsweek reports a Europea “terror chief” warning of ISIS’ potetial use of drones to drop viruses, anthrax, or perhaps ricin.

Bet against. Castor powder is simply not toxic enough. Dispensing small amounts of it in the air would be ineffective. More effective is its use as a psychological weapon because of beliefs on how easy something like this is alleged to be to do.

And, historically, the only terrorist to put anthrax into powder form has been an American from within the biodefense research community — Bruce Ivins.

In addition, there have been no crimes involving the spread of castor powder containing ricin. Although at one time the US had a castor seed milling industry that produced tons of oil and the powder, called castor mash, or pomace.

11.06.17

Ricin round-up

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks, War On Terror at 3:27 pm by George Smith

Attempted suicide in Texas:

Corpus Christi fire and police responded to a condominium complex in the 14200 block of Whitecap Boulevard at about 8:30 p.m. Monday.

The call was described as a mental health issue with threats of suicide, police Lt. J.C. Hooper said.

Hooper would not disclose the man’s condition on Tuesday.

Fire Capt. James Brown said the man made the mixture by extracting oil from castor beans. He did not know exactly how he made the liquid.

“He somehow constructed ricin on his own,” Brown said. “I’m not sure on the process, but he extracted oil from the beans and ingested it.”

Corpus Christi Medical Center confirmed that a patient suspected of ingesting ricin was admitted to the Bay Area Hospital.

Confusion reigns. If the young man was unable to get castor seeds, just castor oil, there was no ricin. Ricin is present only in the mash of castor seeds. Castor oil, on the other hand, has various uses in human society.

As a laxative is one.


In Derby, England, a video (which I have not seen), connected to an ongoing terrorism trial:

A factory worker contacted a man he believed was an IS commander to pledge allegiance to IS and ask for “an order”, a court has heard.

Munir Mohammed, 36, from Derby, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of plotting a terror attack using a homemade bomb with Rowaida El-Hassan.

The jury watched a video about making nerve agent ricin that was found at his home and they were told he exchanged messages with Ms El-Hassan about it.

They deny preparing terrorist acts.

Despite one of the accused’s alleged training in pharmacy, the level of expertise was quite low. One suspect was on video purchasing the wrong ingredient for a notional bomb plot:

Asda CCTV footage shows a suspected ‘bomb maker’ buying the wrong type of nail varnish remover for ‘terror attack’ explosives, a court has heard.

Sudanese immigrant Munir Mohammed allegedly enlisted the help of a chemist he met on a dating website in his plot to make explosives or deadly ricin poison …

The court was shown footage of the defendant visiting an Asda store near his home on December 1 last year.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told jurors when Mohammed was in the supermarket, he spoke on the phone to El-Hassan who sent him a link via WhatsApp to a website advertising a bottle of hydrogen peroxide,

Ms Whyte also told the court his till receipt showed he had bought a bottle of Sally Hansen acetone-free nail polish remover.

The prosecution say he saw the word “acetone” and assumed he was buying a component of TATP explosives, when in fact he had bought the wrong product.

Despite being technology enabled — the Internet, WhatsApp — obviously no remedy for fairly obvious goof-ups.

Sixteen years on, the technical knowledge required to make bombs, exotic poisons and WMDs outside of warzones and government labs remains quite low. In inverse proportion to using a rented truck or a guns as murder weapons, so to speak.

10.08.17

GE’s tax avoiding Jeff Immelt moves on

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 5:07 pm by George Smith

Six years after the Taxavoidination (GE and Jeff) tune/video, Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, has moved on.

From the wire:

General Electric announced Monday that Jeffrey Immelt retired as director and chairman of the company’s board of directors, about two months earlier than expected.

In June, GE said Immelt would retire from the board at the end of December.

Jeff Immelt was the public face of General Electric when it became known as one of the biggest American corproate tax evaders, paying zero tax in 2010, at the height of the Great Recession. Immelt was aslo a member of President Barack Obama’s jobs board, charged with recommendations on how to increase employment in the US. Famously, Immelt recommended boosting tourism since it was the only immediate way to boost corporate hiring — in the hospitality industry — in the United States.

Around the same time Immelt was seen on television news complaining about Americans who didn’t applaud his company for all the great things it did.

From this blog:

Now Immelt is more famous as the CEO of GE, the country’s biggest corporate tax evader. And as one of the leader’s of President Obama’s Jobs and Economy advisory group who, last week, offered as an unemployment solution the boosting of tourism and encouraging more out-of-work people to return to re-education camp to enroll in community college.

Immelt, in other words, is a major annoyance, a corporate enemy of the middle class, if average Americans know of him at all… Paradoxically, GE’s p.r. arm, in an effort to make people feel good about the company, is pushing commercials featuring the company’s investment and financial services arm, GE Capital.

All the problems, corporate tax avoidance, offshoring, deindustrialization and unemployment/underployment associated with a sluggish plutocrats’ economy and inequality outlined during Immelt’s run remain unadressed. Or they’ve gotten worse.

“GE & Jeff (Taxavoidination)” was my most seen and heard original tune/video for this blog.


Jeff Immelt.

10.03.17

Same old …

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 5:01 pm by George Smith

Horror.

My comment was made years ago. It still works. Nothing can change, nothing will change.

“In this country life is cheap …”


Tag: Gun Nut Folk Tune

08.31.17

Harvey potentially boosts vulnificus season

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle at 5:45 pm by George Smith

Although still a relatively rare hazard, the NY Times informs Harvey floodwaters could boost area Vibrio vulnficus infections:

Some Texas public health officials expect an increase in gastrointestinal problems from bacteria breeding in stagnant floodwaters that can contain Escherichia coli (E. coli), Shigella, and Vibrio vulnificus. The latter, which is present in the Gulf of Mexico, can cause terrible infections that can lead to amputations. It is harmful if swallowed or if it comes into contact with a cut.

In a report issued one month after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had counted 24 cases of hurricane-related wounds infected with Vibrio vulnificus or its relative, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, of which six were fatal.

The danger comes from the flooding of waterways that are known to contain vulnificus in any area suggested to hurricanes.

Vibrio vulnficus — from the archives.


Most irresposible headline keyed to Harvey and vulfnicus, from Mother Jones:

If Things Weren’t Already Bad Enough, Houston Is About to Face a Public Health Nightmare
Entire neighborhoods have become contaminated and potentially toxic rivers.

A potential six cases after a disaster as widespread as Katrina in no way points to a nightmare. No link. Mother Jones provides nothing useful, in this case, other than an instance in bad headline/clickbait handwaving.

Phrase to never use as a layman: “Gut microbiota”

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 5:25 pm by George Smith

The New York Times asks on its web frontpage:

“Can I Test the Health of My Gut Microbiota?”

NO.

The article is an intelligence test. If you read it, you flunk. I’ll admit to getting about a third of the way in. As pure clickbait aimed at the upper middle class of American shoeshine, people who think reading about their “gut microbiota” makes them informed on health and scince, it’s first rate.

08.23.17

Tom Friedman’s Cream Pie Moments

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 2:37 pm by George Smith

Last week Tom Friedman was bowled over by American servicemen and their multi-billion dollar war network infrastructure at Al Udeid airbase in Qatar. It’s in service to what Friedman loves, traveling the world to bring back what he thinks are teachable examples of how things are done with excellence for the rest of us.

First up was national unity And Charlottesville. In this the US military was held up, as it has been by by many, as the shining example of integration, unity and how to treat others with respect.

Friedman:

Just one glance at our traveling party and the crews at this base and you realize immediately why we are the most powerful country in the world … In the control center I’m introduced to the two Russian-speaking U.S. servicemen who 10 to 12 times a day get on the local “hotline” with the Russian command post in Syria to make sure Russian planes don’t collide with ours. One of the servicemen was born in Russia and the other left Kiev, Ukraine, just five years ago, in part, he told me, because he dreamed of joining the U.S. Air Force: “This is the country of opportunity.” [Keep in mind how the -opportunity- arose, pip squeak. The US military destabilized Iraq and, subsequently, Syria.]

Then we get a briefing from the combat innovation team, which is designing a new algorithm for dynamic targeting with colleagues in Silicon Valley.I ask their commander about his last name — Ito — and he explains, “My dad is from Cuba and my mother is from Mexico.” The intelligence briefing was delivered by “Captain Yang.”

The very reason America is the supreme power in this region is that the U.S. military can take all of those different people and make them into a fist.

“Pluralism is our true source of strength at home and abroad,” Friedman concludes. You knew this was coming.

You also know he could have just gone to the supermarket in Pasadena and interviewed the day staff to find the same thing. The US military is not magical or special. Neither is its military. You find the same things in it, much of the time, as you do anywhere else.

Coincidentally, a colleague reprinted an article on the nature of domestic terrorism, taken from the archives of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in 2014:

The military and the far right. Throughout the history of US far-right extremism, many of its most influential and infamous members have had ties to the military. A small sampling includes the former Confederate soldiers who founded the Ku Klux Klan in 1866; its first leader was a former Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forest. The highly influential Willis Carto served in World War II before a 50 year career with far-right extremism that encompassed, according to the Anti-Defamation League, “nearly every significant far-right movement in the country, from neo-Nazism to militias, segregationism to Holocaust denial.” An aide to General McArthur, William Potter Gale, oversaw guerilla resistance in the Philippines during World War II before helping establish the racist, anti-Semitic, and apocalyptic Christian Identity movement and the virulently anti-federal government umbrella organization Posse Comitatus. The North Dakota Posse leader Gordon Kahl, who died in a 1983 shootout with federal agents, and whom many far-right extremists consider to be the Posse’s greatest martyr, earned two purple hearts as an aircraft gunner in World War II. Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler served in World War II.

The trend has continued in more recent years: Neo-Nazi Louis Beam was a Vietnam veteran. The founder of one of the leading racist groups of its time, White Aryan Resistance, Tom Metzger, spent the early 1960s in the US Army. Metzger is often credited with being the “godfather” of the racist skinhead scene. Timothy McVeigh, whose actions during Operation Desert Storm merited him the Bronze Star, later killed 168 people, including 19 children in the 1995 Oklahoma City truck bombing; his accomplice, Terry Nichols, was also a veteran. Army of God adherent and Centennial Olympic Park and abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolf was an Army veteran. In August 2012, Army veteran Wade Michael Page killed six people in a racially motived shooting rampage at a Wisconsin Sikh temple. Radicalized during his time at Ft. Bragg, Page told an interviewer, “If you don’t go in the military a racist, you’re sure to leave as one.”

To be clear, the homeland security department’s 2009 report on far-right extremism did not denigrate US military personnel or exaggerate their past or potential for terrorism. Many studies and reports demonstrate that veteran and active-duty US military personnel account for only a miniscule part of far-right extremist plots and attacks. But the percentage of individuals and members in far-right groups with military experience is larger than the corresponding percentage of those with military experience in the population at large. And in a 2008 study, the FBI reported that veteran and active duty military personnel “frequently occupy leadership roles within extremist groups …

However, Friedman can’t get over the alleged perfectly synchronized pluralism of the US command at Al Udied. (Or maybe it’s just its mind-numbing infrastructure of war.)

We toured the command center here with its wall-size screens that take the data from satellites, drones, manned aircraft, cyber, sensors, human intelligence and aerial refueling tankers and meld them into a series of strategic targeting decisions. Watching the choreography of all this is both chilling and mesmerizing.

We are moving “from wars of attrition to wars of cognition,” explained General Goldfein. These new integrated systems are simultaneously “state of the art, unparalleled — and too slow for the future.”


What if all of this talent and energy and idealism and pluralism were applied not to propping up a decrepit Arab state system against Iran, but instead fixing the worst neighborhoods of Baltimore, Chicago and Detroit?

And this is where it’s at its most intelligence-insulting. The idea, that we get again and again in the culture of lickspittle, that if the magnificent US military were just repositioned to point our way, if they came home, they could work magic.

Reality makes a hash of it. What is the accomplishment from Al Udeid?

The Middle East’s versions of Stalingrad in Mosul and Raqqa. And today, a Times front page story on a plague caused by cholera in Yemen where we’ve assisted Saudi Arabia in bombing the country’s water sanitation facilities into rubble.

“The world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” reads part of the headline. It’a quite a notch on the belt. What doesn’t follow is how people who bring about humanitarian crises, who break things globally, could fix things domestically.

“We need to have a national discussion about this,” writes Friedman. No we don’t. Surely not with him as impresario. Get the cream pies.

Tom Friedman, hit by pie.

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