This blog features information about the political campaign nationally and in the state of Pennsylvania. it will discuss congressional races western PA, but it won't restrict comments to those jurisdictions. On many occasions, it will feature humor, but its main purpose is to "cut the legs off" political jihad. This is a site for political grown-ups of all ages.

Location: Ambridge, Pennsylvania, United States

I have a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester (English and American Literature). I taught for 10 years at various educational institutions (Univ. of Rochester, my alma mater, College of William and Mary, and University of Georgia, where I was also Asst. Ed. of the Georgia Review. Later, I worked as a speechwriter and "thinker" at various large companies, including Phillips Petroleum, Gulf Oil, Aetna, Merck (consultant), and Eli Lilly (consultant), among many others. I'm a full-time writer and political commentator/analyst. Favorite company: AudioTech Business Books. Favorite female: my wife, Patricia Ann Maloney. Favorite politcal candidate: Diana Lynn Irey (PA's 12th congressional district)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mary Thomas of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Professor Steve Kurtz: Paranoid Journalism

In recent weeks, I've written extensively on the strengths (many) and weaknesses (few, but significant) of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Of course, the paper has some readers who are staunch leftists, and they generally blame George Bush, Dick Cheney, "Scooter" Libby, the CIA, and the FBI for most -- if not all -- of the world's problems. A few reporters and columnists at the P-G -- Milan Simonich, Dennis Roddy, Reg Henry, and Tony Norman among them -- specialize in feeding the insatiable appetites of the "Blame America first" crowd.

A recent addition to this group is Mary Thomas, the P-G's art critic, with her bizarre piece ("Kurtz Case, Activist Art in Limbo," March 7, 2007, page C-3) on Professor Steve Kurtz, "a founding member of the widely acclaimed [by whom?] art collective Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) . . . ." Ms. Thomas explains that "The group explains the impact of science and technology on consumer culture through works that are activist, performative and conceptual."

Thomas' article is a monument to journalist murkiness, portraying the professor as a mixture of the strange figure in Conrad's Heart of Darkness ("Mistuh Kurtz, he dead") and the hapless "K" in Kafka's The Trial. The U.S. Justice Department has charged the professor with wire fraud and mail fraud related to certain "CAE projects."

We never learn the details of what the alleged defrauding involved. We never learn the details about a lot of things in this case.

If you read Thomas' article carefully, you will have many questions and few answers about the accusations. After Kurtz's wife died somewhat mysteriously in 2004, the FBI confiscated his computer, his books, and a variety of "microorganisms" contained in petri dishes. What these substances were and how Kurtz proposed to use them we never learn.

Apparently, Kurtz -- a very strange looking man with a greasy ponytail -- isn't a terrorist, although like most things, the article doesn't give us any definitive information on that. We do learn that the fraud charges are "based on his alleged receipt of the bacteria from University of Pittsburgh scientist Robert Ferrell." If the case goes to trial, a big "if," Kurtz and Ferrell theoretically could face sentences of 20-years.

Again, what were the bacteria and how did Kurtz intend to use them? Thomas doesn't tell us. Also, did Professor Ferrell send them to Kurtz or not? Again, the article doesn't enlighten us. Why exactly is the Justice Dept. accusing the professors of fraud? Search me, because Thomas doesn't clarify such points.

She does tell us that Kurtz is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for his defense (against precisely what?). Some of the money will fund an "international presence" at the trial, which will "include persons to conduct consciousness-raising activities [unheard of since the early 1970s?] as well as expert witnesses . . . to attest to the worth of CAE work."

In Thomas' piece, we read that the CAE -- and Kurtz -- have been associated with exhibits dealing with "Free Range Grain," as well the supposed evils of genetically modified foods and the real evils of Nazi eugenics and germ warfare.

The article suggests that there's something trendy about opposing Nazi pseudo-science and the use of weapons of mass destruction in form of germ warfare. Frankly, I haven't heard anyone advocating either.

Professor Kurtz seems to be one of those throwbacks to the hippie era. He may be one of those people who writes "Amerika" with a "k," suggesting this country is somehow the heir to Hitler's Germany.

As for CAE, one of its projects "incorporated an actual gene donor profile form." It did so "to make a point about how ingrained and myopic social values are, and how they can be manipulated." Say what?

For Ms. Thomas, mounting her soap-box in what's supposed to be reporting, "CAE, in short, provokes the kinds of questions that an informed citizenry must consider to control its destiny." That's just special pleading masquerading as journalistic insight. The facts presented in the piece don't justify the author's generalizations.

The paranoid style of reporting has lots of details. Few of them, however, advance a reader's understanding of the situation supposedly under investigation. Thomas suggests something very bad is going on, but she can't quite put her finger on what it is.

Did Professor Kurtz receive the bacteria? Did Professor Farrell send them? If so, why were they such a matter of concern to the FBI and the Justice Department? We'll never know.

Also, is Kurtz what he appears to be: an individual who defines his self-worth by his infinite capacity to stick it to the bourgeoisie? Is he, in other words, a relatively trivial figure vigorously involved in cultivating his status as a victim? The answer seems to be yes. Maybe Thomas could have explained that to us up front.

She deserves a good scolding from her editor. Apparently, she inhabits a hothouse where conspiracy theories blossom endlessly. In that word, an artist -- no matter how bizarre and self-serving -- is invariably right and the government is always wrong.

She assumes a readership that doesn't want to be confused by mundane facts. In the case of this particular reader, her assumption was dead wrong.

This will be my last column on the P-G, at least for a while. Mary Thomas and a few others will be happy to hear that.


Blogger ls1967 said...

Dear Stephen, it's not only paranoid lefties who are alarmed by this case. Traditional conservatives believe in small government, and many are outraged by the neocons' radical overreach in this and other cases, their unprecedented expansion of government, and their shredding of the Constitution. (Even some of the police privately expressed shock at the JTTF's actions in this case.) Mary Thomas's article provided this URL:, which explains why this is a precedent-setting case that threatens all Americans' consitutionally guaranteed right to legally and legitimately question the actions of their government. Finally, Steve Kurtz is far from a 'throwback to the hippie era' or 'bizarre and self-serving' - he is in fact an internationally acclaimed artist, which is why thousands of people on 5 continents immediately rallied to his defense. Kurtz and Critical Art Ensemble's writings have been translated into more than16 languages and their work has been covered by most major art journals (including Artforum, Kunstforum and The Drama Review, which dedicated a special section to Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) in a recent issue). CAE have performed and exhibited in many of the world's most important cultural institutions, including the MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, The ICA London, Shirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, The Museum of Modern Art Paris, and many more. For almost two decades CAE has produced participatory theater events in which they publicly legally and safely perform basic scientific processes to explain and demystify them. Audiences who participate in CAE events walk away with a clearer understanding of the issues surrounding genetically modified foods, reproductive technologies and germ warfare. CAE's projects are recognized by artists, scientists, and institutions worldwide as thorough, investigative, educative and safe.

8:04 PM  
Blogger ls1967 said...

PS I understand your criticism is of the article, so I wanted to explain why this case is considered so important to people from all ends of the political spectrum. As bizarre as it may seem, it is actually very likely to go to trial, because judges really can't throw out Grand Jury indictments even if they want to; even if the prosecutor lied to the grand jury, the case has to go to trial.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Stephen R. Maloney said...

Thanks very much for your thoughtful response. You're right that my criticism was mainly of the lack of detail in the Mary Thomas piece, rather than of Professor Kurtz, whose work I really don't know. Two generations ago, my mother, Ruth Maloney, graduated in art education from the State College at Buffalo. She was an excellent artist and a wonderful teacher. I'm not hostile by nature to unconventional art, although Steve Kurtz and I might look at the world in very different ways. As for Mary Thomas, she might be a fine person for all I know, but if she was trying to seel Mr. Kurtz's case to a general audience, she didn't go about it effectively. It sounds as if the case is one based on a giant misunderstanding, which would be small consolation to Kurtz if he ends up in jail. People choose the causes that are important to them. I've been reading a lot lately about jihadists and various mass murderers, most of them in Islamic countries. I (semi-secretly) wis that people like Kurtz and his fellows in CAE would take up that cause, rather than tilting at the windmill of Genetically Modified Foods (GMF). The issue there strikes me as follows: GMFs are going to be necessary to feed people who currently are starving to death. Genetic modification is something controlled by (evil) scientists at Monsanto and Dow, but rather a principle of evolution. Are GMFs "totally safe?" Nothing in life is completely safe. I incline to what Unamuno called "the tragic view of life," which says among other things that life is not quite a simple as Steve Kurtz and CAE seem to believe. Overall, you've inclined me to learn more about Kurtz and his organization.
Again, thanks for your response.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Stephen R. Maloney said...

Note: In my response, I meant to say that GMFs are NOT controlled by various mad scientists at chemical companies.

9:04 PM  
Blogger lgs1967 said...

Thank you for that reply. I hope you don't mind my long repsonses, but I find it very valuable to discuss these issues with folks whose politics are different from mine. Also I'm new to the blogosphere, so please let me know if I'm overstepping any limits. I wanted to point out that actually, CAE has never taken an "anti-GMO" position; to the contrary, their assumption has been that some may be helpful, and others harmful, to people and the environment, and that therefore, risk has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To do that, the public needs to be informed and have a basic undertanding of the science involved. CAE's work, on every subject, has been to demysitfy and inform and to cut through the hype and hysteria. (On the question of Monsanto's GMOs, the problem is more their strong-arming tactics against traditional and organic farmers to force them to grow Monsanto 'products' (see the case of Percy Schmeizer for example); a reasoned assessment would tend to conclude, I think, that consolidation of the global food supply in the hands of only a few corporations is something we should probably all be at least concerned about, based, if nothing else, on our knowledge of what has happened with monopolies in the past and the centrality of food to survival. On the subject of the 'war on terror' I highly recommend anything written by constitutional lawyer David Cole (see especially "Less Safe, Less Free: Why we are losing the war on terror" or "The New McCarthyism: Repeating History in the War on Terrorism". One of the startling statistics he points out is this: ""Of the 80,000 Arabs and Muslim foreign nationals who were required to register after September 11, the 8,000 called in for FBI interviews, and more than 5,000 locked up in 'preventive detention', not one stands convicted of a terrorist crime today. In what has surely been the most aggressive national campaign of ethnic profiling since World War II, the government's record is 0 for 93,000." When you combine this with a climate at the DoJ in which nothing assures prosecutors of the fast track to promotion more than convictions of 'terrorism', you can begin to see why this nightmare has happened to Steve Kurtz - as well as to all those other supposed 'terrorists' and 'sleeper cells' (kids with cell phones, the Christian community center in Miami, and so on) that we keep hearing about, once, on the nightly news, and then never again. But it's important to remember that innocent people's lives are being ruined, just as in the McCarthy era - even though we don't hear about *that* on the nightly news (one guy in LA is living in his garage after losing his business, his family and everything else; there are hundreds more stories like that). And the people targeted are overwhelmingly poor and lack the resources Kurtz has to launch an adequate defense. One other thing to point out is that William Hochul, the DoJ prosecutor in Kurtz's case, is the same guy who put away the "Lackawanna Six sleeper cell" shortly before Kurtz's arrest (for which of course he won huge promotions and awards). Some time afterward, he admitted that he had NO EVIDENCE AT ALL to put away those kids, but said "but we have to make examples." This is the (post) Ashcroft policy of "preventive justice" at the DoJ, and its something that many traditional conservatives who are opposed to government overreach are justifiably alarmed about (as opposed to that little cabal of neoconservatives who are busy creating the most massive and powerful federal government ever seen in this country). Best regards,

10:25 AM  
Blogger Stephen R. Maloney said...

I keep finding your comments late at night when I don't always have the energy to respond adequately. I guess you're right about us being on different sides of the fence politically. Since I spent a good portion of my life in the academic world (and another portion in electoral politics), I have a lot of experience with liberals. One thing they're absolutely terrible about (and conservatives aren't much better) is examining their own views. They read very selectively. How many of them have the works of Bernard Lewis on the history of Islam -- or Ms. Ali's "Infidel"? We have Silvestre Reyes as Nancy Pelosi's choice to head the House Committee on Homeland Security. It turned out that Reyes, who's no more suited to BE on that committee, didn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shias, a knowledge that's central to understanding the dynamics of terrorism. Where were the liberals, including people like Steve Kurtz, who HAD A MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL OBLIGATION TO OPPOSE THE REYES NOMINATION? The man is incompetent, but of course he's a loyal Democrat and an Hispanic, which I guess makes him untouchable. I'm not aware of any major terrorist attack (going back to the African embassies, the USS Cole, 9/11, the Madrid Train Bombings, the London Bombings, Bali, the various attacks in Egypt, the hundreds of suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many others that weren't carried out by Muslim fanatics, most of them from the Middle East and South Central Asia. Given all these horrors, your concern about John Ashcroft seems wildly misplaced. John Ashcroft???!!! As for the Lackawanna Six, I recall the neighbors saying of their trip to Pakistan that "They were just pursuing their Islmaic studies!" It turned out they were also conducting their "Islamic studies" in the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. If you and were meeting face-to-face, I'd ask respectfully why you choose your details so selectively. With the terrorist actions I've mentioned, I don't think it should be necessary for the FBI to "make up" terrorists, although I do agree that they're not nearly as effective as they should be. Some sophisticated polling in Great Britain had demonstrated that there are perhaps 200,000 Muslims in Britain who are supportive of Al Qaida style terrorism. I submit that you and Steve Kurtz should be focusing on doing something about the people represented in such statistics. They refer to people who are supportive of -- or willing to engage themselves in -- the mass murder of infidels (people like you, me, Steve Kurtz, most members of CAE, Mary Thomas, and billions of other people). My impression is that CAE is largely indifferent to the horrors I've mentioned. The members seem to get their gratification from sticking it to relatively benign institutions like Monsanto. A couple of years ago I read Tom Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears," a fictional story about Muslim terrorists setting off a nuclear bomb at the Super Bowl (in Denver). Now, I hear that the film of the Clancy story doesn't touch the question of Muslim terrorists. Instead, it turns the bombers into American neo-nazis. That strikes me as the essence of liberalism: never confront a troubling reality when it's possible to rely on straw-men. In a world of bin Ladens, Zawahiris, and al Zarqawis, let's pretend that the real villains are John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. I submit that one essential difference between bin Laden and Gonzales is that one of them wants to kill you -- and the other wants to save your life. One deserves your total animosity, and the other your gratitude.

9:02 PM  
Blogger lgs1967 said...

First of all, I’d submit that the problem of selective reading isn’t confined to liberals. (I myself try to read from a wide variety of sources and opinions, which is why I found your blog). The same would go for ignorance. I’d like to see Bush or any number of our Representatives, from either party, asked basic questions about the difference between Shias and Sunnis - like where they are located geographically. Also bear in mind that what constitutes liberalism today is what used to be called conservatism. Barry Goldwater-style conservatism, except for a few points, now represetns basically the leftmost wing of the Democratic Party. Second, no one here is indifferent to the horrors of 911 or any other terrorist attack, or, I hope, to the horrors of war in general. That's a straw man argument. To say that just because someone doesn't agree with you on every point, or doesn't choose to make the fight against Islamic fundamentalism their number one project, or happens to be concerned about the fact that the Constitution of our great country is now in shreds - that therefore they don’t care about the loss of innocent life - would be insulting if it weren't so ridiculous. As you said, people have to pick their battles - and people also disagree as to the best solution to problems like terrorism and global civil war. David Cole for example, suggests many solutions to terrorism that do not include overthrowing our democratic institutions, and he makes a darn good case that doing so is in fact causing us to *lose* the war on terror. I myself do read the writings of the right, even the far, far right, and that is why I happen to think that the neoconservatives (not conservatives, which are a wide, diverse and complex group) - but the neocons, that group of 35 or so people that clustered around the Project for the New American Century from the 80s on (including Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, William Kristol, Richard Perle) and are now in the highest offices of the Bush Jr administration (important: Reagan and Bush Sr were NOT neocons) - represent a most dangerous threat to our great democracy, even greater in fact, than the terrorists (in part because, like Cole, I think their policies are causing us to lose the war on terror). The neocons do not believe in democracy, they advocate a bizarre form of neo-Platonism in which a select group of elites MUST lie to the people because the people can not handle the truth, they advocate the use of religion to maintain social order although they themselves are not religious (hence their cynical relationship to the Christian right); and they believe that the only way to extend American empire into the next century is through an end to democratic institutions, the militarization of every aspect of society and military expenditure without limit – in short an Orwellian vision of endless and total war and totalitarianism (and they were in fact praying for a “new Pearl Harbor” long before 911 so as to be able to begin to realize this goal). Their ideas about what a military IS and what it can actually DO are truly delusional (according to many generals) but that kind of extreme military fetishism is also classic to fascist thought. Based on their own writings, the only major point on which they differ from historical fascism is that unlike historical fascists, who were corporatists, they advocate market deregulation, which is hardly surprising given our global economy. Based on their own writings, the neocons’ intentions toward me or anyone who disagrees with any aspect of their agenda, or toward ordinary citizens, whom they disdain, or to the fundamental safeguards of our democracy, are not benign. In the first few days after his arrest, Steve Kurtz WAS a “terrorist” according to the JTTF and the media – if he had been detained *after* the Military Commissions Act of 2006, he could easily have been disappeared and held in indefinite detention, incommunicado, without access to legal counsel or even knowing what he was being held for, because we no longer have the right of habeas corpus – the most fundamental safeguard of democracy which has been enshrined in law since the 13th Century. The MCA also of course allows evidence obtained under torture. To think that these powers won’t, and aren't, being used against innocent people is to engage in a willful miseading of history. Whenever governments have had unlimited power, they have used it. What has made America great for over 200 years is the recognition on the part of the framers of the Constitution that there must be legal safeguards for democracy to exist. People on all sides of the political spectrum need to put aside our differences to ensure that our great democracy is not totally destroyed by the neocons. If we let that happen, we will have nothing left to defend against other totalitarian forces.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Stephen R. Maloney said...

Silly me: I thought the head of the House Intelligent Committee -- no matter what his ethnicity -- should be, well, intelligent. I thought he should have some understanding of the nature of the threat that intelligence seeks to mitigate.

Overall, I still don't know what materials Steve Kurtz had in his petri dishes, or whether it is illegal to possess or transmit them. If it is, then he should bear the consequences. If it's not, then he has little to fear.

I have no idea how he stands on terrorism (mass murder), whether he's for it or against it. If he's for it, then I wish him ill. If he's against it, then it may be time for him to so indicate.

On torture: It may be that people like Khalid Sheik Muhammed (KSM), who reportedly participated in the beheading of Daniel Pearl and "masterminded" 9/11 was tortured. If it resulted in gathering information from him, THEN I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH IT.
He is engaged in illegal acts (to say the least) against American civilians, and as a foreign national he should have no rights under the U. S. Constitution, for which he has such contempt.

I hope to see him tried by a military tribunal and executed, preferably by firing squad. Period. There are several others in that category. My degree of sympathy for them is near absolute zero. Good riddance to them all.

My strong belief, after living on this earth and paying close attention for many years, is that most people on the far left are in fact totally indifferent to the real evils of the world -- to the suffering and death of people tortured, starved, propagandized, and killed by tyrants, most of them in our time adherents to the Muslim faith, throughout the world: in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Uganda, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and many other lands. My view is that the people indifferent to evil -- ones I call the extreme liberals -- invent a "virtual world," where mass murder is somehow justified because it's -- in some bizarre and complex way -- really the fault of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Ashcroft. The virtual world, the real one turned on its head, is really an extreme use of their human brains to do what brains do: process and simplify stimuli in such a way as to make sense of the world. If everything bad that happens -- including 9/11 and the umhappy situation of Steve Kurtz -- is really the fault of George Bush (with help from Monsanto), then it becomes easily understamdable and quickly fixable. The fix is to get rid of George Bush and all those Darth Vaders masquerading as "neocons." During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, by the way. It has never in the history of humankind applied to enemy combatants, basically people engaged in the conduct of a war. The Patriot Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President of the U.S. It is the law of the land, and it is a good law. It basically harms no one not engaged in some form of violence against the U.S. or otherwise in support of worldwide terrorism (Al Qaida, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the like).

On the law of the land: many years ago, Justice Arthur Goldberg said of the U. S. Consitution: "It is not a suicide pact." When terrorists game the Constitution, that is, use hard-won freedoms to undermine freedom, then it must be modified to protect the safety and lives of the American people. To me, that's one of those truths that are "self-evident." I think even Jefferson would come around on that one.

1:12 PM  
Blogger lgs1967 said...

I never suggested that suspected terrorists shouldnt be tried - I said habeas corpus shouldn't be taken away fro US citizens. It has to be universal to have any meaning, and that's why our founding fathers made 'innocent until proven guilty' the basis of our legal system. How do you prove you're a citizen if you're locked in indefinite detention? The PATRIOT act has indeed harmed innocent people, including US citzens, such as Steve Kurtz. And yes, all the materials he used were legal and safe - you can read all about them if you go to the CAE Defense Fund website and look at the FAQ section. And yes, he and CAE have gone on record aginst terrorism of all kinds - inlcuding for example, the idiotic practices of some radical environmentalists, like test-plot burning and so on. But that's no guarantee he won't go to jail. Maybe on 'Law and Order' innocent people don't go to jail, but in the real world they do all the time.

Re: choosing battles: if your criterion is saving lives or protecting people from horrendous deaths or terroristic practices, there are plenty of battles to fight, and it's ridiculous to say everyone who doesn't pick your battle is somehow the enemy of mankind. To be concerned with issues like the world’s food supply, or preventable infectious diseases is hardly less important than fighting terrorism of all kinds, considering that death due to starvation and preventable infectious disease caused by poverty and malnutrition kill far more people in the world than anything else – hundreds of millions of people every year, not thousands. These are totally solvable problems that would require very little of the resources that already exist. That is by no means suggesting we should ignore the problem of terrorism.

I myself am hardly 'anti-corporate' - like quite a few capitalists in fact, I think corporations should have the responsibilities, not only the rights, of private individuals. Many corporations do act responsibly. Monsanto is not one of them. If Monsanto was an individual and had to abide by the responsibilities of individuals, and it lived in Texas, it would be on Death Row. It is no exaggeration to describe its tactics against traditional farmers as terroristic. Knowing full well that seeds from its fields blow onto neighboring farms and contaminate crops that have been bred for hundreds of years by seed-saving farmers, it goes and sues those farmers for tens of thousands of dollars for ‘patent infringement,’ forcing them to economic ruin unless they agree to sign Monsanto’s contracts. (See the story of Percy Schmeiser who is one among hundreds: They are thereby slowly taking over the fields of community after community. Their goal is control of 100% of the world’s staple crops – and they’re well on their way with (as of 2005) 97% of the world's GM corn and 90% of the GM soy, cotton and canola areas, and 41% of the global market share of corn, 25% of soy, 31% of beans, and 25% of tomatoes.

The problem is that from an agricultural standpoint alone, monoculture is a terrible idea. If you recall the Irish potato famine, which occurred because there was only one kind of potato being grown in that region and it got hit by a blight, you get some idea of the unprecedented risk associated with losing biodiversity of the entire world’s food supply. Biodiversity, is in fact, an evolutionary safeguard. But due to the irresponsible monopolistic practices of Monsanto and a few other ‘gene giants’ we’re losing it at an incredible rate – where previously there were hundreds of genetic varieties of corn, wheat, soy, canola, potatoes, or you-name-it, now there are only a few. From any rational standpoint, for one or a few companies to have exclusive rights to what since the beginning of human history has been considered part of the ecological ‘commons’ – the gene pool, life itself – is an incredibly stupid and disastrous idea. Finally, independent studies have shown that, contrary to the claims of Monsanto about ‘feeding the world,’ the use of their GMOs does not increase yield but in fact in many instances diminishes it – and it do not reduce starvation but in fact increases and expands it. This is because the farming practices associated with Monsanto’s crops are not economical or sustainable from an agricultural standpoint, as the incredible amounts of pesticides required and the practice of monocultural farming destroy soil fertility over the long run; and because the monocultural farming practices and monopolistic pricing of Monsanto is driving third world farmers and their communities to ruin.

I don’t understand the exclusive focus of some on the extreme right on the possible or the improbable as opposed to the actual, where the imagined continually trumps experience and reality. As opposed to the “what if” of possible future deaths from germ warfare, for example, millions, not thousands - of people are *actually* dying every year from totally preventable infectious diseases like AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and Multi-Drug-Resistant TB. Not maybe, not some day, but now, really. And if you think MDRTB is bad now, that's nothing compared to what it's becoming. Unlike some of these other diseases, it won't only affect the poor. Our best protection against these as well as emerging infectious disease is of course global public health policy. Germs don't care about borders. Public health policy is what contained SARS for example, and what developed the AIDS cocktail which has saved and prolonged thousands of lives. But since 911 we have the redirection of billions of dollars of finite health care resources away from global public health programs and toward the complete fantasy of germ warfare programs --even though according to most military experts, germs are completely useless as WMDs -- so that instead of stopping this holocaust, which would be almost shockingly inexpensive and easy to do, we have its acceleration (and not incidentally of course, this happens to be a gigantic cash cow for those in on the scam).

On these questions you can't 'liberal-bait' me, because I'm in the company of thousands of scientists - not just lefties and not just liberals - who have gone on record to oppose, for example, the patenting and consolidation of the global food supply, and the turning over of the NIH and university labs to germ warfare programs.

2:08 PM  

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