Monday, April 30, 2007

EAT ZINC OXIDE? As good as melamine, maybe better

Normally it's put in paint or used as sun block, but hey, anything goes these days!

Why does Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. of China, the firm the FDA is investigating in the melamine contamination of pet food incident, advertise the inert compound, zinc oxide, as feedstuff?

Who knows?

Certainly not your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow. Nope, if I were in the business of selling wheat protein, carrots, biologicals for consuming, zinc oxide would not be something that would occur to me.

As a biochemist, DD knows zinc ion is a critical component in metalloenzymes.

Metalloenzymes are common in nature and critical proteins in animal and human metabolism. Indeed, DD characterized a zinc-containing metalloenzyme found in wheat germ in his days in the wet biochemistry lab.

But one does not consume zinc oxide powder to furnish the very small amounts of zinc needed in a diet. That would be bad. One gets zinc as a matter of course in meats and, obviously by example above, in plant proteins, like those contained in wheat germ.

In fact, the addition of zinc oxide powder to animal diets appears to make little if any sense at all, even from a biochemical and nutritional standpoint.

Here's the nice page where Xuzhou advertises their "Zinc Oxide of Feedstuff," right next to the pretty pictures of "fresh carrots," "ginger" and "esb protein powder."

Look, not much lead, cadmium or arsenic in that zinc powder. It's mostly zinc. That's good to know.

"We can supply Zinc Oxide of Feedstuff," reads one statement from Xuzhou, retrieved from a Google cache of an expired page. "Our company is a multiplex technological private enterprise with research, production, distribution, which exports biologic feed, feed additive, wheat gluten meal wheat vital protein fresh preserved vegetables and so on. White or yellow powder, the density is 5.606, melting point 1975 . It is a kind of amphoteric oxide which is water-fast, ethanol-fast and dissolves in acid."

Here's The International Chemical Safety Card for zinc oxide.

"Do not eat," it says of zinc oxide. "Rinse mouth, refer for medical attention."

Will the FDA be looking to see if zinc oxide is in feeds? DD doesn't know. Maybe they've already done it. Or perhaps someone should ask.

Google cache of classified ad for Zinc Oxide of Feedstuff.


From this page at Cornell University, on causes of serious illnesses in cats.

"Signs: Zinc poisoning from elemental zinc results in hemolysis, regenerative anemia, or renal failure," it reads.

Cats falling ill from consuming contaminated pet food exhibit renal failure.

Simply coincidence? Quite possibly. Or possibly germane to present events, something to be looked into and ruled out, as one would do with anything else until an answer was arrived at.

"Zinc oxide poisoning can occur from the ingestion of houshold products containing zinc oxide such as diaper rash products, rubber products, cosmetics, batteries, soaps, and printing inks. Acute zinc oxide toxicity results in severe vomiting, CNS depression, and lethargy."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

THE EVIL OF PREDATORY CHINESE ANIMAL FEED VENDORS: We'll sell American fools plastic scrap. They'll cover it in artificial gravy and say it's great stuff.

The cat has burst from the bag with regards to the Chinese practice of selling American companies protein extending animal feeds stepped on with the plastic scrap, melamine.

“Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed,” said one Chinese animal feed-tainting rat, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company, which sells melamine, reported the New York Times here.

“I don’t know if there’s a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says ‘don’t do it,’ so everyone’s doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren’t they? If there’s no accident, there won’t be any regulation.”

Sounds about right to your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow.

If you're in possession of a good slave labor work force and there's no regulation of your industry, there's no reason at all not to sell poison to North American business partners (ChemNutra, Wilbur-Ellis Feeds, MenuFoods, etc) stupid enough to cede control of their supply chain in the pursuit of profit, right?

Perhaps if one could get away with selling chocolate bars made from crushed plywood, it would be a good thing to do. Is there any law in China that says you can't make chocolate from powdered plywood? If there's no accident while eating sugar-flavored crushed plywood, there shouldn't be any regulation, right?

Truly, only US news organizations could report such things with a straight face.

This blog has gone into some detail on the subject, dubbing the pet food contamination incidental agroterrorism.

If it had been done by al Qaeda, there would be no shortage of front page screaming.

The news would be a firebomb.

Tomahawks might be flying toward factories in order to put them out of action permanently; the US Special Forces command readying a search-and-destroy sally to make scorched earth of the bad guys.

However, this is enterprising use of the global marketplace, which -- somehow -- makes it all different.

"Melamine is at the center of a recall of 60 million packages of pet food, after the chemical was found in wheat gluten linked this month to the deaths of at least 16 pets and the illness of possibly thousands of pets in the United States," writes the Times.

"Many animal feed operators [in China] advertise on the Internet, seeking to purchase melamine scrap...Here at the Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group factory, huge boiler vats are turning coal into melamine ... "

Chinese agri-scum reported earlier today on the subject.

The question asked by pet food buyers, and by an increasing number of people worried about the selling of tainted animal feeds into the human food chain: Who is going to step up and sell food to American consumers that is guaranteed to be absolutely free of Chinese-originated contamination?

Since wheat, corn and rice glutens are not specialty commodities, who will have the stones and wisdom to bite the bullet and furnish animal feeds and pet foods made only in the United States?
AUTHOR OF THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO WAR: Made complete idiot by escort

When the prick stands, the brains get buried in the ground. -- Yiddish aphorism

Mr. Shock & Awe, Harlan Ullman -- apparently liked escorts, especially Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the DC madam now threatening to out more of the well-connected and powerful in her little black book.

Palfrey discusses Ullman, unintentionally quite amusingly, on her website in MP3 format.

Ullman was one of almost everybody's favorite boys in that high-fivin' back-slappin' happy time during the crushing of Saddam's pitiful military. He was common on news shows but hasn't been seen in those parts lately, at least until now.

As the owner of the phrase "Shock & Awe," the developer of the theory of it -- so to speak, one imagines Ullman's been about as popular as dog excrement on the bottom of the shoe, capable of provoking only a passing nausea.

DD's old Weapon of the Week column at the Village Voice had a special place for Ullman.

A reprint, for the sake of added comedy:


The book behind what has become the most vilified and ridiculed American slogan in recent history should be on everyone's coffee table. In Shock & Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance, an arrestingly wretched set of briefs published in 1996, authors Harlan Ullman and James Wade—in association with the National Defense University—ripped off blitzkrieg and retitled it Rapid Dominance.

Since this ersatz Complete Idiot's Guide to War has a great deal to do with the intriguing catastrophe that is Gulf War II, the press should also scrutinize it—with an eye more toward its risible substance than its fantastic plans.

It is not stretching to say Shock & Awe reads as if written either by flatulent egotists or writers for intellectual children. Tracts of it are devoted to dumbly obvious recapitulations of military history, dumbly obvious oversimplifications of conflict suitable for a college term paper, and the occasional parable from a historical figure, meant to lend a literary quality. Some tidbits, just from Shock & Awe's opening chapter:

• "Since the end of World War II, the military strength and capability of the United States have never been greater . . . "

• "Shutting [Iraq] down would entail both the physical destruction of appropriate infrastructure and the shutdown and control of the flow of . . . information and associated commerce . . . "

• "Rapid Dominance [read blitzkrieg] might conceivably achieve this objective in a matter of days (or perhaps hours) . . . "

Inevitably, the authors refer to Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the equivalent of a soldier's Magic 8 Ball, a book chock-full of self-evident aphorisms for every battle occasion:

• "Sun Tzu observed that disarming an adversary before battle was joined was the most effective outcome a commander could achieve."

• "The 'Sun Tzu' example is based on selective, instant decapitation of military or societal targets. . . . " Decapitation—sounds familiar, like something simple George W. Bush would like that doesn't work.

• "The concubines merely laughed at Sun Tzu" until he cut the head off one of them. "The ladies still could not bring themselves to take the master's orders seriously. So, Sun Tzu had the head cut off a second . . . [and] the ladies learned to march with the precision of a drill team."

The decapitation cure-all, again.

It is difficult to know how seriously this tripe was taken by U.S. war planners. To be sure, not everyone wearing military dress can be a fan of it. And many of them also know that blitzkrieg was very often not rapid, but good at setting off long battles in which the enemy did not give up even though its cities, people, and treasure were pulverized with "overwhelming force." If any of the critics got through to Don Rumsfeld, perhaps their heads were cut off.

Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow includes a link to Shock and Awe here. But you don't really need to read it to know it's been thought of as utter crap by anyone with a shred of common sense for a long time.

The original piece at the Village Voice.

Harlan Ullman, writing unremarkably on the op-ed pages of the Washington Times, recently.
CHINESE AGRI-SCUM: Pet food contamination creates continuing food security incident

Our national anti-terror experts love to rattle on how easy it is for al Qaeda to strike at every aspect of American life. Indeed, one of their favorite memes is how easy it is for jihadists to attack the food supply.

Jihadists could easily contaminate our milk with the microbial toxin that causes botulism! CNN even included it as an attack scenario in an Anderson Little-hosted biggest threats collection yesterday! Jihadi-caused hoof-and-mouth disease would cause panic in the streets and destroy our supply of beef!

So successful have they been with this windbag activity that one reporter for a major newspaper chain fairly recently bragged to your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow that it would be easy for even him to commit an act of agroterrorism.

"All I'd have to do is cut the hooves off a diseased cow and toss them in a cattle pen," he said matter-of-factly. "Easy!"

However, the usual bio/agroterror-is-coming experts haven't had much to say yet about the mass contamination of protein extenders used in pet foods.

Even the FDA's website is more careful than helpful, publishing only infrequently and then just passing on the same information one can get from implicated vendors like MenuFoods.

"The importer of the bad wheat gluten, ChemNutra Inc. of Las Vegas, contends that its Chinese manufacturer, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., illicitly added melamine to the gluten in order to boost the measurable protein level and thus the price of the shipment," writes the Chicago Tribune here.

"If so, the FDA may find itself pursuing criminal charges against the Chinese company," it adds.

Indeed, ChemNutra has started a blog to press the issue.

In a statement on its website, the company's CEO states: " ... here at ChemNutra, we are concerned that we may have been the victim of deliberate and mercenary contamination for the purpose of making the wheat gluten we purchased appear to have a higher protein content than it did, because melamine causes a false high result on protein tests. We had no idea that melamine was an issue until being notified by the FDA on March 29. In fact, we had never heard of melamine before. It’s simply not a chemical even on the radar screen for food ingredient suppliers."

However, ignorance of the identity of particular poisons is not an excuse, one must add. The point is to keep any poison, even those of unknown character, out of the food supply through due diligence. One thinks this would be somewhat obvious.

In an escalating crisis, the Feds have raided the Las Vages offices of ChemNutra and a plant in Kansas operated by MenuFoods, a business partner of ChemNutra's. MenuFoods, which furnished many of the recalled pet foods rebranded by other vendors, is now suing ChemNutra and the companies are battling each other with press releases.

Another implicated animal feed importer/vendor, one which has apparently shipped an astonishing tonnage of contaminated material, is Wilbur-Ellis Feeds.

Wilbur-Ellis' website does not even mention its role in the crisis.

The page on its feeds simply notes: "The Livestock Nutrition Group for Wilbur-Ellis Company is currently comprised of 3 business units. These units are primarily involved in the custom blending of minerals, trace minerals, vitamin and medicated feed articles. We also provide other specialty feed ingredients to the animal feed industry. We service a wide range of customers which include; feed manufacturers, feed dealers, independent consultants, veterinarians, dairy operations, beef feedlot operations, beef cow/calf operations, swine operations, layer operations, broiler operations, turkey operations, and other specialty animal operations."

Confidence inspiring, is it not?

On ChemNutra's crisis blog, the company excerpts a news report it attributed to a piece from the International Herald Tribune.

"For years [Chinese] animal feed sellers have been able to cheat buyers by blending the powder into feed with little regulatory supervision, according to interviews with melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here," it reads. [Note: DD was able to find the sentence in Google's database on a page trawled from the newspaper along with "Melamine scrap is added to animal feed to boost the protein level." However, the link to the story, entitled "Feed sellers in China routinely use protein substitute," identical to ChemNutra's citation, is dead and no cached copy of the piece was found. The search function at IHT.COM also does not return the story, which ran today. It is also not listed on the newspaper's frontpage. Decidely odd. A mirror of the vanishing IHT story is presented on this blog.]

The Chinese, predictably, have had little of substance to say on the matter.

"While the FDA has targeted select states for hog inspections, the pet food recall and the large number of sick cats and dogs have overwhelmed state agencies that often only investigate a dozen pet food complaints a year," continued the Tribune story.

"But just as troubling, federal officials and congressional critics of the FDA say, is the ease with which the bad gluten was passed along once in the U.S. After the Sept. 11 attacks, food and water safety were an issue of great concern, they say, but those concerns seem to have eroded."

The reporters are sort of getting to the reality, but it's a harsh one and they need to be encouraged to dig for the subtleties.

The fact is, warning about jihadi agroterrorism has become, for want of a better explanation, a fun game in the United States. State universities vie for funding for laboratories to study agroterrorism. Papers on agroterrorism are published. And the FBI holds a yearly seminar on agroterrorism, called -- get this -- Protect-The-Food.

But much of it is professional clowning, welfare for scientists and security-men, and enjoyment of taxpayer-delivered anti-terror funding.

Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow has seen numerous reports on what kind of agroterrorism Islamists might perpetrate. It has not seen a single report in the last couple years on the vulnerability of the food supply to global businesses which turn predatory and do something awful sub rosa in order to maximize profits.

In others words, this country is drowning in security experts who enjoy writing fictions, but really scarce in people rooted in reality, or any who much entertain risks associated with those most likely to perpetrate it, inside jobbers motivated by greed or other strong personal issues.

Consider, for example, a slide presented at the FBI's Protect-The-Food in 2005.

It is an astonishing example of pure idiot buffoonery. Completely baffling, it's intent seemed to be to make the point that agroterrorism is a much bigger threat now than a few years ago, when a Photoshopped George W. Bush and Saddam were sharing a beer down on the farm.

Presented by an agroterror expert from Kansas, a state with a big university vieing for funding of a new lab to study agroterrorism, it was proudly displayed on the FBI's website for over a year. Then it was noticed by this blog, at which point it was pulled.

If the contamination of protein extenders with melamine had initially been discovered in our food, rather than that of our pets, the story would have been an instant firebomb in March. That it now involves feed suppliers who serve the human food chain belatedly raises levels of outrage.

It is worth repeating that it is now obvious that pet food manufacturers, and large animal feed suppliers like Wilbur-Ellis, have lost control of their supply chain.

And this has come about through business decisions, now rightly judged to be bad ones, to engage with suppliers in China.

Protein extenders -- like wheat, corn and rice gluten -- are not unusual commodities and they can easily be furnished within the United States. However, apparently this has not been an attractive option to North American businesses because China does it so well with industry that is unregulated whie employing a slave labor workforce.

The American partners of the Chinese have had their reputations severely damaged. It may well crush some of them. It it is also possible they will face criminal charges if found to be in collusion with Chinese partners, and not just stupid and victims of betrayed trust or bad luck.

Previously, this blog has labeled the unfolding matter incidental agroterrorism. Not as a result of a desire to create fear, disturbance, pain and mayhem, but functionally creating the same out of a desire for dollars.

If it had been done to feeds more widely disseminated to slaughter animals and perpetrated by al Qaeda, cruise missiles might be flying, the Special Forces certainly getting ready for a recon-in-force search-and-destroy mission into the suspected area of trouble.

Related: Chinese tampering?

The FBI's Yearly Agroterror Confab.

Wilbur-Ellis Feed's Livestock Nutrition page.

Letter from CEO of ChemNutra.

ChemNutra's PR blog.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

THE WEEKEND SCOUNDREL: When he goes to a mind-reader, does he get half-price?

It was a slam dunk 60 Minutes would help me be self-serving. So screw ya, I'm laffin' all the way to the bank.

Exhibiting every trait of a dog except loyalty, George Tenet has been pimped while carrying the sob story he was done wrong by the Bush administration. One would have had to been a Trappist monk to have missed the teasers for Sunday's coming-out party and while there's a chance Tenet may be right in some small way, his story still fits more with the Winston Churchill-ism: "He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened."

"The former CIA director's book -- 'At the Center of a Storm' -- calls the situation in Iraq 'disastrous,'" stated a caption in today's Los Angeles Times.

The ferocity of intellect makes the eyes water.

In any case, "Al Qaeda's primary threat is nuclear, book says," writes reporter Julian Barnes, who should probably be reading recent Daily Mushroom Clouds, here and here.

Last week, the same was peddled in leaked Brit intelligence report; the week before, a much less famous person than Tenet, also pimping a book, delivered it.

"I am convinced [the nuclear bomb] is where [Osama bin Laden] and his operatives desparately want to go," Tenet has written, according to Barnes.

This being the case, one expects the book to contain even more thin and very warmeded-over terror gruel.

" ... [I]n early 2003, al Qaeda cancelled a planned cyanide attack on the New York City subway," writes Barnes further in. "Tenet writes, 'Zawahiri recalled the operatives in New York because we have something bigger in mind.'"

If this sounds familiar, it should. It's a shame Barnes doesn't mention it because his newspaper surely did when the story was much fresher.

"[Ron Suskind's] book is replete with grippingly detailed examples, the most sensational of which has been the subject of considerable news coverage based on a pre-book publication excerpt in Time magazine," wrote the newspaper on June 20. "That, of course, is the story of how Al Qaeda came within a little more than a month of using a workable device it had developed to unleash poison gas in the New York subway."

The cyanide plot story appeared in "The One Percent Doctrine," where it was vigorously flogged to the newsmedia even though the truth was somewhat less exciting and more complicated. At the time, it was called the Mubtakkar of Death and author Ron Suskind went from media outlet to outlet repeating his pleasing tale of megatragedy avoided.

So it would be reasonable to assume a replay after Sunday since mainstream terror beat journalists like nothing so much as to repeat the same stories over and over without clueing readers into how old and stale they are. Read the original deconstruction here.

"We said nonsense, but it was important nonsense!" -- Someone you don't know

Read the standard mainstream clowning at the Washington Post, the kind where it is pretended Tenet has emitted something remarkable and worth reading. Note catfight between Tenet and Ron Suskind, who spilled Tenet's stories for his own book a year earlier.

Friday, April 27, 2007

GENERAL PHYSICAL FITNESS: Waves hands for the evening news

The heavy rucksack of the obvious I'm about to sell you is yea big.

General Physical Fitness, using emphatic hand gestures learned in a Dale Carnegie course on how to make friends and influence people, reported things were very tough in Iraq. Stiffs in the news pool looked dumbly on.

David Petraeus, said to be the most brilliant man in the US military, resembling T.E. Lawrence and loaded with the stamina to perform more push-ups than others, went before the newsmedia, again, to tell us what we already know. Heads nodded sincerely. If he were a high school superintendent, many in assembly would now be able to imitate his special mannerisms. Hint: Use the word "rucksack" frequently, too.

You shoulda seen the catfish I hooked on the Euphrates yesterday. It was yea big! Older pic.

Iraq, a country the size of California, is yea big.

The hand-outs for the Dale Carnegie Course on How to Win Friends & Influence People were yea big!

The rucksacks I like most are about yea big.

The same thing from General Physical Fitness, a couple months ago.
LUNCH-TIME GLITTER ROCK LISTENING PARTY: The Sirens and Slade, for starters

Codpiece and kinky boots, not work safe imagery.

One also wonders where The Sirens' Miggy Starcrunch purchased the gold-colored Wehrmacht staff officer chapeau. Elegantly reminiscent of Erich von Zipper!

In any case, DD has been a fan of The Sirens, a glam band from Detroit, ever since stumbling across their first record at Amoeba on Sunset a couple years ago.

At the time, I wrote:
The singer of the Sirens ... dresses in a hot vinyl suit ... She also loves to perform Slade tunes, which she claims wreck her throat, not that anyone can tell on the Detroit band's version of "Gudbuy T'Jane." Even Screaming Lord Sutch (hear: Lord Sutch & His Heavy Friends) would have to admit they have the thumping beat, gutty guitar, and flashing lights. Add a knack for snappy Brill Building-influenced hard rock and/or rollicking Tommy Boyce-penned tunes like "Under the Moon of Love," performed à la Mud or Showaddywaddy. Three straight knockout shots come in a row: Suzi Quatro's "Glycerine Queen," "Destroy That Boy" (whose origin is hard to trace), and the aforementioned "Jane." Another home run is "Chez Maximes," an ebullient ripper, supposedly penned by the Hollywood Brats, about a brothel. It is said the Sirens are popular in France, where singer Muffy Kroha says the fans are crazed for glam-rock partying.

See the red cat-suit and the original here.

In February, The Sirens returned with More is More, a record jacked up even higher on electric rock platforms than the premier. The cover immediately strikes as taking cues from The Runaways' Live In Japan and Slade's In Flame, two records one knows must be in their record collection.

The Sirens perform covers of glitter rock classics and obscurities. Not infrequently, they improve on the originals with the net result being their albums make the equivalent of great genre mixtapes.

"Sirens singer Muffy Kroha towers over her bandmates on the back cover of More Is More," it is written this week's Baltimore City Paper. "It's her gang and she's kitted them out in gold leather and kinky boots. In return, they furnish the best tones of their career, on their second album in, for glam-rock chestnuts many would shrink from covering. Kroha's ear for the genre is astounding, allowing her to deliver genuine evangelism on Slade's 'Rock 'n' Roll Preacher,' the vibe glommed, she informs, from an old video on YouTube."

Read the entirety, which will surely make you want to buy the album, here.

For the newsstand copy, it's paired with my review of Slade's In For a Penny, an anthology of the band's 70-and-early-80's tunes you never heard, on Shout Factory, out now.

In the forests of Pine Grove, Pennsyltucky, Slade made a huge impression by dint of an early 70's showing on In Concert, part of Friday really late night TV. By Saturday, their volcanic performance had ensured that the handful of rock fans in town all knew of them. This must have happened across the country, but surprisingly, did not result in sales. Although Slade were gang-busters in the United Kingdom, their records did not move in the States and after much earnest straining and trying they abandoned the market. Slade did, however, have a good word-of-mouth audience for their live performances.

In For a Penny and this phenom are briefly written of here.

Making use of HP Image Zone solarization for that vintage 70's blacklight poster vibe. Is that bad?

Masterplan, a German metal band, also reviewed at PaperThinWalls.Com
CHLORINE REVISITED: Stealing swimming pool chlorine cylinders do not terror weapons make

"The Homeland Security Department is warning U.S. chemical plants and bomb squads to guard against a new form of terrorism: chlorine truck bombs," blared USA Today recently. (See here. Cross ref to Armchair Generalist.)

"At least five chlorine truck bombs have exploded in Iraq in recent months, killing scores of people and injuring many more after they breathed the toxic fumes," continues the newspaper deceptively.

Casualties have not been attributed to chlorine inhalations, for reasons your GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow will explain in a moment.

"The Chlorine Institute, a trade group that represents more than 200 companies that make and distribute chlorine, recently alerted the FBI to several thefts or attempted thefts of 150-pound chlorine tanks from water treatment plants in California," adds the newspaper.

" 'This is now being used as a tactic against us in another part of the world,' says Robert Stephan, Homeland Security's infrastructure protection chief. 'We've got to be prepared for [it] . . .' "

However, stealing 150 pound swimming pool chlorine sources will not make a terror weapon. More accurately, it might -- if done up right -- make a nuisance that could send one or two people to the emergency room with tearing eyes and a cough, if they were near it and chose not to run away at the first whiff of trouble.

As manager of a swimming pool, one that used cylinders of chlorine of the approximate size mentioned in the USA Today story, it can be said there is simply not enough chlorine present to pose a threat in the classical sense of chemical weaponry.

In World War I, the Germans got militarily interesting results employing a volume release of 160 tons of chlorine. One recent release in Iraq, discussed here, involved the release of about one and a quarter ton. It did not appear to result in any fatalities.

And the reason for this is scale.

The bad actors in Iraq have run up against a wall in that the volume of gas needed to create the result they wish if greater than their present capability by two orders of magnitude.

This is a significant hurdle, one they have -- so far, shown no ability to cross.

If the scientific nomenclature "two orders of magnitude" confuses and puts you off, allow DD to illustrate it another way, with pictures.

This is not a militarily interesting amount of chlorine.

Now this is a militarily interesting amount of chlorine.

The bottom photo comes from a Homeland Security document from a few years ago. It is entitled "National Planning Scenarios" and is "Intended For Use in National, Federal, State and Local Homeland Security Preparedness Activities."

It's a 120,000 gallon storage cylinder, the type one would find at an industrial production facility which cracks chlorine electrolytically from brine. If one does the calculations on the number of tons of material in such cylinder, one arrives at the ballpark figure of 600-750. Which is still two full orders of magnitude away from the bad actors in Iraq.

In the meantime, DD will suggest that Robert Stephan, Homeland Security's infrastructure protection chief, brush up on the technical details included in his own organization's planning documents.

As to why small chlorine cylinders would be going missing (if indeed they are) in California, it would be better not to immediately jump the gun, entertaining the fancy that Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda men are here.

On the other hand, California newspapers infrequently report upon the large number of white trash methamphetamine addicts in the state and their propensity for stealing everything not nailed down. And, if one is to believe such newspaper reports, meth heads have a special yen for copper because anything with copper in it can be taken to local scrap yards and turned in for two to three dollars a pound.

Local metal scrappers turn a blind eye to the source of the metal.

In any case, the control valves and tubing for small chlorine cylinders contain copper alloy. In fact, when I managed a swimming pool, much of the regulator the chlorine cylinder was attached to was made of copper.

And to see that this is so, simply peruse the fine print on chlorine cylinder valves at the Chlorine Institute, in .pdf form, here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

MISCHIEF-MAKERS AT THE PENTAGON: Seek overbroad restrictions on info about WMDs

In case you're bopping over from a recent item in Steve Aftergood's redoubtable Secrecy News -- here -- your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow will now produce appropriate review materials.

In a document posted by Aftergood on the Federation of American Scientists' website, it is revealed the Pentagon wishes to, in its words, require for safeguarding information on weapons of mass destruction.

The problem arises in its definition of information on WMDs.

Asserts the Pentagon:
The term `information concerning weapons of mass destruction' means information that--

(A) would assist in developing, producing, or using weapons of mass destruction or in evading the detection or the monitoring of the development, production, use, or presence of weapons of mass destruction; or

(B) would disclose a vulnerability to the effects of a weapon of mass destruction; and

(C) has been determined to be currently sensitive by an official designated as an Initial Denial Authority for the Department of Defense component concerned pursuant to Department of Defense Directive 5400.7-R, `DoD Freedom of Information Act Program', September 1998, or successor directive.

Examples of such information could include information that remains current and sensitive, such as but not limited to, formulas and design descriptions of lethal and incapacitating materials...

As a definition, it's far too broad. In fact, it's slipshod.

It's entirely reasonable, even logical, to assume that it's not possible to come up with such a definition in the neat and pat way Pentagon authors would like. So in a better world, the people who recommended it would be run out of town, instead of being permitted to send it to Congress year after year -- where it has, so far, been rejected -- as indicated by Aftergood.

It is also too broad because in the current climate, the one spawned specifically for the alleged war on terror, terrorists have been attributed with capabilities in the making of WMDs which they have not been found to possess in the real world.

This is tied to the regular meme, uttered by many terror experts, repeated ad nauseum by military and administration men, and duly repeated by the mainstream newsmedia, that it is easy for terrorists to produce WMDs.

For GlobalSecurity.Org and other venues, I have repeatedly dissected this fancy.

Indeed, I've published material -- which if one was to take seriously the utterances of many experts -- constitutes information which would possibly fall under the definition as written by the Pentagon.

Examples, a few of many, are here and here.

If the Pentagon were to be permitted to restrict such materials, the only purpose served would be to hinder the public's understanding of the nature of the war on terror and oversight of it. It would be remiss not to mention the possibility that this is one possible reason for the continuing efforts to restrict such information.

The "it's easy for terrorists" meme is discussed at length here and in its original version at GlobalSecurity.Org, here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

RICHES OF EMBARRASSMENT: FBI pulls goofy agroterror slides

Back in September, your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow took readers on a virtual trip to one of our government's seminars on agroterrorism.

See it here.

The FBI had maintaned a website for its yearly protect-the-food confabs and as a bonus attraction included the expert presentations given at the seminar in 2005.

It apparently did this proudly until DD came to the party, republishing some of the slides so that readers might know more intimately how 'good' their agroterror experts are.

And when the word 'good' is used in this context, it is meant as in a good-for-nothing or good-for-a-laugh way.

For example, take this slide, describing the nature of the agroterror threat.

Or this one, of a Photoshopped George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein sharing a brewski down on the ranch in Crawford.

What a laugh riot! Look at those guys on the carnival ride! Tee-hee!

And this one, labeled with an important-looking "For Official Use Only" stamp from an "intelligence center":

Formerly on-line here, they've since been removed.

How sad. DD apologizes for spilling the beans on the FBI's agroterror fun page.
THE DAILY MUSHROOM CLOUD: Beware of 'leaked' intelligence agency report

Write more about nuclear attack. Please.

Blog readers know not a week goes by without some pack of dreary fools turning in a news story or a report or a television spot on imminent nuclear attack. Everyone pretends to have the latest hot intelligence on the issue while actually serving the the same warmed-over excrement, again and again. And it's been done so frequently most people simply tune them out, as is proper.

In the real world, a smoke alarm that beeps continuously is considered to be defective and the battery is plucked from it.

However, the war on terror is often not a part of the real world and the mental defectives in intelligence agencies are not so easily plucked from the fold. So, instead of inspiring self-examination, an increasing note of panic, as if it were needed, has been seen creeping into nuclear attack reports. "No one is listening to us!" -- some now scream.

But here at DD Central we keep a tally so you don't have to!

In this week's installment, the usual suspects are rounded up:

"AL-QAEDA leaders in Iraq are planning the first “large-scale” terrorist attacks on Britain and other western targets with the help of supporters in Iran, according to a leaked intelligence report," writes a British newspaper.

"Spy chiefs warn that one operative had said he was planning an attack on 'a par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki' in an attempt to 'shake the Roman throne', a reference to the West.

"Another plot could be timed to coincide with Tony Blair stepping down as prime minister, an event described by Al-Qaeda planners as a 'change in the head of the company'.

"The report, produced earlier this month and seen by The Sunday Times, appears to provide evidence that Al-Qaeda is active in Iran and has ambitions far beyond the improvised attacks it has been waging against British and American soldiers in Iraq."

The report in question, produced by a Brit intelligence service, could be seen as another in a long line of shabby jobs. Or it could be interpreted as something fake, possibly contributed by the imagination of a newspaper reporter, meant to gin up concern over terror capabilities. Or it could be also seen as the product of morons who really need to apply themselves to something more productive other than the passing on of every molecule of hot-air and wishful thinking intercepted from jihadists.

"The report was compiled by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) - based at MI5’s London headquarters - and provides a quarterly review of the international terror threat to Britain," writes the newspaper.

The document also states, according to the newspaper: “While networks linked to AQ [Al-Qaeda] Core pose the greatest threat to the UK, the intelligence during this quarter has highlighted the potential threat from other areas, particularly AQI [Al-Qaeda in Iraq] ... “A member of this network is reportedly involved in an operation which he believes requires AQ Core authorisation. He claims the operation will be on ‘a par with Hiroshima and Naga-saki’ and will ‘shake the Roman throne’. We assess that this operation is most likely to be a large-scale, mass casualty attack against the West.”

In case you haven't teased the fine detail from this, what the newspaper is trying to imply is a real howler -- that terrorists in Iraq may have gotten their hands on a nuclear weapon.

However, even mainstream newsmen occasionally see they've crossed a line in terms of credibility. Therefore, the following waffle:

"Despite aspiring to a nuclear capability, Al-Qaeda is not thought to have acquired weapons grade material ... Last year Al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq called on nuclear scientists to apply their knowledge of biological and radiological weapons to 'the field of jihad'."

Note the obvious error. One doesn't automatically think of "nuclear scientists" as experts on biological weapons.

The original.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

PRESS RELEASE ON PET FOOD CONTAMINATION: Potential indication of malicious Chinese tampering?

Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow has four cats. One of them, Pez, lives outside during the day. As is typical of cats, Pez wanders daily to the neighbor's yard. The neighbor has two cats, Pez's associates. We both leave out food for our pets and they freely partake from each other's bowls.

This illustrates another source of worry and risk in the expanding Menu Foods recall of tainted pet food. Although you may be watching your pet's food or preparing it yourself from table scraps, if the pet wanders the neighborhood, it can be eating something out of your control. One answer is to keep your pet inside, a pain if the cat is determined to show its displeasure at the turn of events.

It is, of course, a very minor inconvenience compared to having a dieing pet.

Pet owners have had their confidence utterly dashed by the North American pet food industry. Although no American companies have been responsible for adding melamine to their products, the lack of diligence in controlling their supply chain and glaringly obvious poor business decisions have led to the food supply being compromised by Chinese partners.

As written on Friday, if melamine had been discovered in human consumables, the news would be a firebomb of frontpage outrage.

In any case, a press release on the melamine contamination in the rice gluten concentrates of an American distributor, Wilbur-Ellis, raises more questions.

"Wilbur-Ellis Company is voluntarily recalling all lots of the rice protein concentrate the San Francisco company’s Feed Division has shipped to pet-food manufacturers because of a risk that rice protein concentrate may have been contaminated by melamine, an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers that can lead to illness or fatalities in animals if consumed," states a press release on the website of the FDA.

"Wilbur-Ellis noted that it obtained rice protein from a single source in China and shipped to a total of five U.S. pet-food manufacturers located in Utah, N.Y., Kansas and two in Missouri.

"Last Sunday, April 15, Wilbur-Ellis notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that a single bag in a recent shipment of rice protein concentrate from its Chinese supplier, Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd., had tested positive for melamine. Unlike the other white-colored bags in that shipment, the bag in question was pink and had the word “melamine” stenciled upon it. Wilbur-Ellis separated that bag and quarantined the entire shipment for further testing and since that time, no further deliveries of rice protein concentrate have been made. Samples from the white bags tested negative for melamine. However, subsequent and potentially more sensitive tests by the FDA came back positive for melamine, leading Wilbur-Ellis to voluntarily issue the recall.

"Wilbur-Ellis began importing rice protein concentrate from Binzhou Futian Biology Technology in July 2006. A total of 14 containers holding 336 metric tons of rice protein concentrate were sent from Futian to Wilbur-Ellis. Wilbur-Ellis has distributed 155 metric tons to date."

These figures indicate a truly astonishing quantity of possibly lethally contaminated animal feed.

One line of reasoning being pursued is that the Chinese have stepped on a worthless product with melamine. This would be because melamine apparently assays as protein in general protein determinations of gross mixtures, a characteristic that would dress up a shoddy formulation.

One could read the Chinese vendor's weird shipment as an indication that it was internally assaying its product and had determined it had pooched the melamine formulation too high in a lot of pink bags. Then it reformulated the product with less melamine to pass a domestic assay and put it into white bags. A goof in the warehouse resulted in one incriminating bag being shipped with the others.

Another easy explanation is that the company had determined accidental melamine contamination in its lots and separated the bad bags. Through a goof, one of the bags of bad stuff wound up with others, still containing bad stuff.

In any case, this is still very bad business. It raises two questions: Why is the American market still importing protein extenders from China? And why do the Chinese continue to send it?

Are they nuts as well as greedy?

There is only one responsible course of action when looking at such large amounts of contaminated food: In addition to its recalls, the American pet food industry must immediately cease and desist taking imports from Chinese partners. It must permanently ban them from the US marketplace and take the strongest possible action against any industrial partners violating the ban. Last, it must immediately and transparently come to its customers with forthright explanations of how this is being done.

Related: Wilbur-Ellis press release at the FDA.

Menu Foods pet food recall as incidental agroterrorism.

Related: Chinese feed company advertises unusual compound, known to cause renal failure in cats.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

IN PRAISE OF DOOM: The rock music genre, not the phenomenon

Over at, the latest paying review of tuneage you won't want to buy -- but I might.

With a burst of feedback, Monarch! (yes, that usage isn't a typo) slows to the speed of 18 minutes over breakfast porridge in a bowl and it’s raining outside. Cymbal strikes and snare drum shots—in your ennui you toss spoonfuls of porridge at the wall. A banshee wails at the calumny. If you’d had “Speak Of The Devil, Speak Of The Sea” to listen to 10 years ago, you wouldn’t have have made it to work in the morning. The economy would have collapsed as the polity stared into its morning mush, a collective tear falling to the table..."

And you can read the rest on a girl-fronted French doom metal band's latest here.

Having a more empirically recognizable classic rock style is Motor City Resurrection by The 69 Eyes, a Gothy-looking glam rock act from Helsinki, Finland.

The 69 Eyes catalog has been remastered and reissued for the American market, trucked into BestBuy, and aimed at the masses. It won't stick but not for lack of trying.

Motor City Resurrection, a collection of singles and tribute cover songs said to have been big in Japan in 1990-91, shows one of America's most permanent additions to world youth culture and enjoyment is LA-style Sunset stripper rock. For Finns, 69 Eyes do a fine job of sounding like they knew the precise lay of the concrete and asphalt compounds and wastelands between the Whisky and the Troubador.

The 69 Eyes' cover of Iggy and the Stooges' "Gimme Some Skin," recorded for a Bomp vinyl single when the latter band was falling apart in LA subsequent to Raw Power, is exact and the most exciting cut on a CD that's good for repeat listens. Extra points for improving on GG Allin's "Gimme Some Head" by garbling the lyrics (you can just barely make out "I used to sniff girls' pantyhose/But there's nothing like a girl sitting on your nose") and boosting the original's impact and energy. (As fas as choosing from Allin's work, it's one of his tamer and more manageable lyrical excursions, arriving well before he'd gone wholeheartedly for a catalog defined by the likes of "Suck My A-- It Smells" and "Bite It You Scum.")

Now, if only I could find a copy of The Lee Harvey Oswald Band's A Taste of Prison.

Friday, April 20, 2007

INCIDENTAL AGROTERRORISM: Greed, the global market and pet food contamination

Last week, your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow wrote briefly that a great deal of anti-terror training is rubbish. As an example, it pointed to a case at a small college in Pennsylvania where a professor was said to be "helping American Indian tribes nationwide fight 'agroterrorism' – the intentional attempt to compromise the country’s food supply." (See here.)

And in the past, the standard line has been written that agroterrorism is easy and that al Qaeda is just getting ready to spring it upon us. (See here.)

However, the contamination of food, as in regular cases of food poisoning, most often happens through the collision of man's bad practices and nature.

Much, much, much less common is poisoning of masses of food in the distribution chain by tampering. (Offhand, in fact, I can't think of any cases of deliberate tampering of the size about to be discussed.)

One example which has now apparently taken everyone by surprise -- DD is not seeing the usual suspects from the bioterror-is-easy crowd checking in on it -- is what looks like the greed-driven contamination of the pet food supply by unknown parties in China.

What was initially reported as an accidental contamination of wheat gluten protein filler at Menu Foods has relentlessly expanded to include wheat, corn and rice gluten as well as other companies. Products using these materials have been sold in other countries and, in the United States, not only fed to many, many pets with very bad consequences, but now also to hogs, animals slated for human consumption. (The latter at a specialty pig farm in California.)

The FDA has stated that it is looking into purposeful contamination from China, plausible now because of the finding of melamine in a spectrum of plant glutens used as protein extenders. The compound is said to contribute to nitrogen counts in protein assays. Melamine contains three amine (NH2) moieties, the same moiety included in all amino acids, the basic building blocks of proteins. General chemical determinations of protein content in gross mixtures have always relied upon assays which specifically measure the amino acid nitrogen bound in proteins.

"FDA officials said they were investigating whether the melamine might have been added intentionally as a way to charge more for an inferior product," wrote the Los Angeles Times today. "The fact that three protein sources from China contained melamine adds credibility to that theory ... " it was reported.

Addition of a powder like melamine to any gross mixture would be one way to make a worthless product seem to be other than it actually is. That one would use a toxic component to do this is probably a result of malicious greed compounded by stupidity.

Because the contamination of pet foods has extended across so many brands and its consequences are so dire, the incident has thoroughly shaken the confidence of pet owners, even those who buy their food from companies not as yet involved in the recall.

What is certain now is that the pet food industry, somewhere along the line, lost control of its supply chain. It also became ignorant to the true nature of it (or looked the other way) and the risks its business decisions may have posed. After all, plant glutens are not a specialty product and can easily be extracted and purified in the United States.

The obvious reason why this is no longer the case is because of the global marketplace and the drive to get product cheaper than one could get it by employing American labor. Enter China, which for all practical purposes employs a slave labor workforce in industries which answer to no regulation.

In any case, the addition of melamine to products destined for pet food is an utterly despicable act. One can think of it as atrocious as the idea of adding ethylene glycol, antifreeze, to soda as an artificial sweetener.

If it had been done in the United States, the company furnishing the feed would already be looking at shuttering while under criminal investigation. Since it's in China, there is no reason to believe the involved parties will be turned out anytime soon, unless the Chinese government intervenes.

"The FDA said it 'fully expects' to get such cooperation," reported the Times. But in the very next sentence, it is stated: "The Chinese government has said that the contaminated wheat gluten was not meant for pet foods and therefore was not its regulatory responsibility."

Pet food contamination on this scale can be seen as an act of incidental agroterror.

While agroterrorism would not have been the intent, it has been the result. If the contaminated glutens had been in foods for human consumption, the news would be a firebomb. Because of the scale of it, it could -- in some circles -- be seen as a possible act of war.

It is serious business, business that crucifies the pet food industry on its lack of basic due diligence. While it did not put the poison into its product and has acted swiftly to remove material from the shelves, it cannot sidestep the cold steel truth that it egregiously broke the trust, however accidentally, its customers placed in it.

DD has long argued that it is not easy for terrorists to instigate bioterror or agroterrorism. On the other hand, it is far easier for pursuit of profit to inspire inside jobs in which unscrupulous industrial partners use their resources and the public's lack of knowledge about the nature of consumables to turn on the people who are their customers.

Where do the protein extenders in the foods on your kitchen shelves come from?

Full disclosure: DD owns four cats, none of which have been fed any of the implicated brands which, at this point, would seem to simply be a matter of good fortune.

Of related interest: Terrorists have long wanted to poison Americans with botox even though they haven't the capability. American doctors in the anti-aging industry, on the other hand, have put their patients on ventilators with botox in their pursuit of ill gotten gain. See here and here.

Related: Chines feed exporter advertises unusual compound, known to cause renal disease in cats.

Chinese Agri-Scum.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

HILARIOUS: Stale joke from the stale candidate for the stale journalists

Start paying royalties to Vince Vance already.

What he and they lack in substance they make up for in volume. In today's news:

"Republican 2008 presidential hopeful John McCain crooned the words "Bomb Iran" to a Beach Boys' tune in joking response to a question about any possible U.S. attack over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

" 'That old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran ... bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb,' the Vietnam War veteran warbled softly to the band's 'Barbara Ann' when he was asked when the United States would send an "airmail message" to Iran.

"The singing performance during a campaign stop on Wednesday in South Carolina drew chuckles from the audience and has already been viewed almost 11,000 times on the Internet video sharing site YouTube after being posted on Thursday."

Proof of the great American barometer that the excellence of something can be judged by the number of people willing to adopt it, courtesy of the mighty virtual river of all human wisdom -- YouTube.

James Woolsey and his colleague the Short Count, the author of the best-selling thriller, The Spike, and recruited by the CIA at least twice, sang the Vince Vance tune at DC's Metropolitan Club, beating everyone else to it by a few weeks. Presumably the only reason it didn't rocket to the top of YouTube is because the club is private and no one remembers who they are.

The resurrection of the novelty tune, Bomb Iran. Flip side: "Roll Over Moktada Sadr, Tell Banisadr The News."

If you know what this story is about, you'll surely enjoy Radiating Rubble.

Monday, April 16, 2007

THE MONDAY LAMEBRAIN: And those who love them

He that speaks lavishly shall hear us knavishly.

"Five years ago, [A British cosmologist named] Rees posted this prediction: 'By 2020, bioterror or bioerror will lead to 1 million casualties in a single event,'" wrote John Tierney, someone from the New York Times.

"He reasoned that 'by 2020 there will be thousands -- even millions -- of people with the capability to cause a catastrophic biological disaster. My concern is not only organized terrorist groups, but individual weirdos with the mind-set of the people who now design computer viruses.'"

"[Rees] didn't get any takers on, which seems to me a missed opportunity. So I've posted an offer there to bet him $200 -- not a huge sum, but enough to put both our reputations on the line. I realize that betting on disaster may sound ghoulish, but neither of us will personally profit (if I win, the money goes to the International Red Cross)," adds Tierney.

Hmmm, 200 dollars as a conflicting-of-interest reason to hook something that's been written about in the same way many times before into the pages of the Times? Sound about right to you?

(For those with longer memories, the Times has had its hand in bioterror scare pieces, something Tierney neglects to mention. Its editorial page furnished space for a previous prophet of doom to suggest terrorists putting botox in milk could cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans.)

"No matter how good their intentions, prophets face strong temptations to hype," Tierney writes, rather obviously.

He could have added, "And like many other windbags, I'm willing to enable it."

In any case, DD colleague Milton Leitenberg is cited in Tierney's piece with the counter to the standard horrible-bioterror-is-inevitable cant.

But, as usual, it gets second billing.

A copy of the original is here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

POO-TEE-WEET? The coincidence of massacre promo video and Kurt Vonnegut's demise

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times printed an excellent obituary on Kurt Vonnegut.

One citation from Slaughterhouse-Five was poignant.

"I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee," wrote Vonnegut.

"I have also told them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that."

Also during the week, the Military channel's Futureweapons show was in reruns.

Repeatedly broadcast was a segment themed around "weapons that strike total fear into the enemy." The channel aired its bits on the USAF's Sensor Fuzed Weapon, a super-automated cluster bomb for the engineering of a massacre.

That a show like Futureweapons, one devoted to manically enthusiastic expressions of delight over the machinery of slaughter, is successful, would probably not surprise Vonnegut.

Twenty-five years ago, Textron's promotional video on the Sensor Fuzed Weapon in Iraq would have looked like science fiction, another piece of unusually terrible technology described in a Vonnegut satire. Now it's deadening mainstream entertainment.

"This is an animation explaining Textron's [Sensor Fuzed Weapon] in Operation Iraqi Freedom," writes its YouTube uploader. "This is awesome! Your tax dollars well spent. You wold [sic] not want to be an enemy of the USA on the receiving end of these things. Obviously the B-52 can carry a whole bunch of SFW-loaded cluster bombs. That must be why a lot of pinhead nations want to ban them."

"Low collateral damage, no duds or live warheads," proclaims the video.


Friday, April 13, 2007

FRIDAY FUNNY PAGES: Found humor from the daily news

In today's Los Angeles Times, all-things-Marine-Corps reporter Tony Perry gets with the dolphin-and-pony show the Navy's marine mammal operation has been flogging to the newsmedia.

"We have the bestest jobs in the world," say the Navy handlers, in a manner of speaking, for "007 With a Snout?"

Could be!

The navy is trying to end the "scuttlebutt" that its dolphins are "007's" with a license to kill.

"Fantasy is more interesting than reality," says one marine scientist.

"On Thursday, navy officials allowed a rare glimpse into the training of Ten and 84 other dolphins and 25 California sea lions..." writes Perry.

Rare glimpse, in this case, meaning every time the Navy wishes to sell Zak or Ten or someone else as defenders against al Qaeda frogmen (the ones that don't exist) thinking of approaching ballistic missile submarines in home port, to newsmen.

"Officials warn reporters not to believe what they may have read in foreign newspapers or on various websites," it is said.


Sacco and Vanzetti -- for free
Hmmm, watch these guys interview themselves or Ultimate Fighting on Spike?

"[On PBS], there is The Brotherhood in which Newsweek investigative reporters Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff interview each other about their investigation as they investigate The Muslim Brotherhood's terrorist ties ... " writes someone at the Los Angeles Times.

The word investigate is used three times in one sentence so readers know Hosenball and Isikoff are top masturbators investigators.

Hey, we didn't get Osama bin Laden, but we got some guy named Christopher Paul of Columbus, Ohio, for being in Peshawar and Afghanistan in 1991.

He also "recently researched ... flight simulator computer programs," reported the Washington Post.

Uh-oh! UH-OH!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

LOOSE LIPS AND A FIVE BUCK TIP: Get banged up for assisting terrorism

"Hassan Abujihaad, 31, is accused of supporting terrorism by disclosing secret information about the location of Navy ships and the best ways to attack them," wrote Associated Press in March. "Investigators say he provided those secrets, in classified documents, to a suspected terrorism financier."

Sounds bad. The US government has found another terrorist nestled in our midst.

However, readers now know to ask for a close look at such alleged classified documents. They know not to trust the reporting skills of the mainstream media in the coverage of the "global war on terror."

Abujihaad, formerly known as Paul R. Hall, was a sailor on the USN destroyer Benfold in 2001. And Abujihaad bought three videotapes of Islamic fighters in Chechnya and Bosnia from a website vendor who was subsequently arrested in the war on terror.

Honorably discharged from the Navy in 2002, the government silently pursued Abujihaad, finally indicting and arresting him in March of this year.

His crimes?

Being extremely foolish in e-mail and giving a five buck tip to Azzam Publications, a company in London whose owner our government, post 9/11, wanted very badly.

Read the sad tale at el Reg here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

GUITAR ROCK TUESDAY NIGHT: George Brigman's 'Rags in Skull'

Tonight the evening news ended with a segment on the economic calamity of downloaded pop music. The messages: People steal more music in one or two months than iTunes has sold since its inception. And a Bruce Springsteen hit is pirated and illegally downloaded 137,000 times a day.

These features always make me feel like a fool for actually buying rock 'n' roll music and continuing to write about it.

While the facts are accurate, the stories are intelligence-insulting for what they don't point out.

No one, for example, is stealing the independently made CDs I regularly listen to.

Why? Because I have uniquely poor taste?

Or is it bcause it's not popular with an audience driven by mainstream desire.

Obscurity is something of an immunizer, although not entirely so, to the digital download blues. No six-figure masses want to steal George Brigman's Rags in Skull, even if it's a wonderful record of complex and perfectly crafted hard rock. They want to steal the Bruce Springsteen song that's played ad nauseum everyday on classic rock radio since it was first published in the 1980s.

The merciless stupidity of it is astonishing.

If someone steals from George Brigman, it's the old-fashioned kind of bootlegger, someone in Europe who duplicates his old records illegally, presses them into vinyl and CDs, distributing them in stores where they bite into the sales of the real thing. Fans often don't know they're buying knock-offs.

Second, you never see any news stories about people who still buy music.

Why not? The message is between the lines, that's why. We're too stupid to live, so grow old and die already.

I have no interest in young people who get their music on-line free or enabling networks that have an audience because the best thing they can do is furnish a pushbutton conduit to copyright infringement. It's a less interesting group than the colony of ants going about its business between the cracks in the driveway.

Few things are more deadening than seeing the infinite lists of digital content downloaded everyday, stolen or not, worth solely determined by the numbers in on-line tickers.

"Hey, if I like the song I buy the CD," says yet another spotty kid, self-servingly recorded for the thousandth-and-then-some time, by a TV camera or newspaper features writer.

As for the George Brigman's of the world, they'll still make good music whether the record industry ceases to exist or not.

You see, it was a happy occasion when local rocker George Brigman's '70s vinyl catalog was finally brought into the digital age last year. However, Bona Fide Records -- Brigman's decades-long sponsor -- promised more by him. And it has arrived in the form of Rags in Skull, Brigman's first new work in a quarter century, a love of heavy guitar having kept his spirit as well as his fingers young and supple despite the passage of time.

The rest of the old-fashioned review is here.

Also, see comment on NYC's She-Wolves: Bludgeoning Riffola, Suitable for When [Unprintable] -- at the Village Voice.

The She-Wolves are led by a former member of the Cycle Sluts from Hell, reviewed way long ago by DD at the Morning Call newspaper. (See reprint.)

The Cycle Sluts CD was almost instantaneously deleted by Sony upon arrival in 1991.

I dragged out my copy after giving the She-Wolves repeat listens and discovered I still liked the Cycle Slut CD quite a bit, although this -- perhaps -- does not come across entirely in the original. The songs "Speed Queen," with the lyric "Baby if you want to use my washing machine, first you gotta buy the detergent!" -- and "I Wish You Were a Beer," the latter with the chorus command of "Shut up!" -- haven't aged a bit.

The cover of the CD was an unfortunate choice. Designed by someone at the label inordinantly fond of softcore gay porn and determined to demonstrate it at the expense of the group, it tromped right over the thin line between exotic looks as dangerous rock for ridiculous camp imagery completely different from what was inside.
THE DAILY MUSHROOM CLOUD: Beware scholar pimping book

Write more about nuclear attack. Please.

Not a week goes by without someone waving their hands, screaming to inform the polity that it's not a matter of if, but only when a nuclear weapon is going to go off on American soil.

Since your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow has been following the beat, the stories are always the same.

No one is paying enough attention! Pay attention to me because I'm more serious! You can make an atom bomb from plans on the Internet and stuff bought at the hardware store!

Charles Bukowski once said the more crap you believe, the better off you are.

It certainly looks true for those regularly banging the nuclear terror bell.

There never seems to be an editor around with the nerve to say, "Instead of trying to stir up the same boring frights and doing the terrorists' work for them, why don't you just get lost!"

This week's selection is from Helen Caldicott, delivered through United Press International's "Outside View" column.

In actuality, there's nothing "outside" about the column. It's just more of the same.

Caldicott's column is used to pimp a book, "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer," published in 2006. The essay is an extract from it.

Now let us proceed to the usual brainless and oft-repeated memes, passed off as gnomic observations.

"With sophisticated technology the minimum amount of plutonium required to make a bomb is 1 to 3 kilograms (2.2 to 6.6 pounds), however the generally accepted amount is 5 kg (11 pounds) of weapons-grade plutonium and 8 kg (17.6 pounds) for reactor-grade plutonium," writes Caldicott.

"The design is available on the Internet; the essential materials can be bought at any hardware store. A homemade plutonium bomb would be difficult to make but a bomb using highly-enriched uranium would be less so. And the world is awash in plutonium."

It's that simple.

"In light of terrorist attacks using conventional weapons, it is only a matter of time before someone steals enough plutonium to make an adequate nuclear weapon. Then we proceed into the age of nuclear terrorism."

Or one might just as well say that in light of the lack of terrorist success with much more common materials than plutonium, like chlorine, in Iraq, there is no reason to believe such people would have any luck trying to make an atomic bomb. Or that comparing terrorist attacks with car and truck bombs to theoretical attacks with nuclear weapons is a bone-headed non sequitur.

The original is here.

Or you just might want to skip it and entertain yourself with some previous installments of The Daily Mushroom Cloud, by what means terrorists go nuclear, and the mythology of nuke cookbooks on the net.

Monday, April 09, 2007

MONSTER WARGAME MONDAY: One paid for by the Air Force, another which can furnish a good teaser movie reel

Over the weekend your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow began a wrestling match with Point of Attack 2, a tactical-level universal weapons system simulator programmed by HPS Simulations. For once, I won.

Point of Attack 2's development was funded by the US Air Force and at some point HPS turned it around for a "game." One uses "game" in quotes because it's definitely an acquired taste as pure entertainment.

It is another monster wargame, massive and too complicated for anyone who wants to sit down at the desktop for an hour of diversion. As is standard with such things, the initial build was massively bugged. So the first task for any buyer, and -- one assumes -- also the military user, is to patch it with a number of downloads from the developer.

The game is also designed so that it can play itself.

A user can load a scenario, set both sides to artificial intelligence, and allow the game to conduct war. The computer cranks. Statistics and results are tabulated in a spread sheet. The scope of victory or the nature of defeat is determined.

DD's first game was one of the canned scenarios, an al Qaeda attack on a base security team.

The action takes place on Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque and Point of Attack 2 contains a satellite map of the area upon which to wage it. One notices right away (note screeshot) that it's suitable for modelling urban combat just about anywhere.

Stryker team about to smack an al Qaeda section hard. Note civilians, indistinguishable from enemy. If they don't shoot at you, don't engage them.

Point of Attack 2 makes the fog-of-war a central part of the simulation. In this case, terrorists are hard to spot unless directly shooting at Blue Force. The player gives orders, a frustrating exercise when compared with consumer games since, as in real life, such orders aren't followed precisely. They also may not be executed at once.

Because confusion and imperfect or delayed intelligence and command-and-control are integral to the simulation, it behooves the player to not micromanage everything -- the exact opposite of BestBuy-stocked wargames.

In this scenario it became apparent that the actual tactical situation wouldn't be knowable for awhile. And this, indeed, turned out to be the case. The units under command had to be allowed to fight and search according to their SOP's -- standard operating procedures -- which are a huge part of the game's programming.

Right now, DD can see you thinking: "That looks like it could be used to re-enact John McCain's trip into a Baghad market!"

Indeed, Point of Attack 2 can do that.

It also models the use of chemical weapons, tactical nukes (5 kilotons) and even a number of systems and weapons which haven't been deployed or made.

For example, the developer states: "The simulation focuses on action at a tactical level, and painstakingly models the capabilities and effects of conventional weapons, along with developing technologies such as lethal/non-lethal Energy Weapons and Point Missile Defense systems."

One such "lethal/non-lethal energy weapons" is included in the Kirtland AFB attack scenario.

In one of the game's final tally sheets, kills chalked up to various weapon systems are seen below. The energy weapon, truck-mounted, is arrowed in the screenshot.

The reader will notice Hummvees with machine gun mounts were way more efficient at killing terrorists/insurgents. The "energy weapon" -- called a MASER --was slow and had difficulty acquiring targets. It could have been left in the garage.

How did the battle turn out? From the kill spreadsheet, it's obvious Blue Force stamped out the terrorists/insurgents. Even armed with a car bomb and a few machine-gun armed Toyota trucks, they didn't do well.

In the days to come, DD will get to exchanges with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and chemical warfare, software bugs permitting.

Point of Attack 2 webpage.

Last week, Lock On, the monster modern air combat simulation from Russia, was mentioned in connection with development of an iteration of that wargame for the Air National Guard.

The originating company, Eagle Dynamics, has seen its revenue stream go from the entertainment business to government contract, so much so that it delayed roll-out of product for its gamer cult audience.

Part of this fanatic cult audience makes "movies" with Lock On, using the game's eye-catching graphics and internal capture software. Clips and scenes are then extensively edited using software like Vegas.

While there are limits to the photo-realism in Lock On, clever users have learned to make them almost unnoticeable by diddling color saturation and using the kinds of washed-out or gritty tones that are common in modern television shows and videos.

The most successful Lock On movie is called "No Fear." Made a couple years ago, it is always being freshly uploaded and usurped at YouTube by young people wishing to make others think they're really creative.

Nine minutes long, it's set to music -- Edgar Winter's "Dying to Live," paradoxically originally written as an anti-war song, and The Drowning Pool's "Man Without Fear," the theme for the movie, Daredevil.

It's here.

It's a noir recruiting commercial for jet fighters. The USAF could make great use of it if not for the fact that it stars Russian Flankers shooting down F-15s.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


A great deal of what passes for anti-terror training in the United States is pointless garbage. Take this example which is standard in the practice of training people to respond to a fictitious threat, one that could not possibly be engineered.

It's a business in which the government hands out money to academics, or police organizations, or various state civil agencies. Then the parties who get the money purport to train others even though none of the "experts" has ever had any experience in understanding the nature of the threat from first-hand materials.

In this business it is completely unimportant that you know anything about what terrorists are really interested in.

It's more important to identify a theoretical vulnerability that will never exist and be certified by the Department of Homeland Security as someone suitable for addressing it.

Will training native Americans in Pennsylvania to recognize agroterrorism do?


Today's case is one from DD's old home state, Pennsyltucky.

"Steven R. Parker, instructor of environmental technology at Pennsylvania College of Technology, will present a Library Forum program on April 19 describing his experiences helping American Indian tribes nationwide fight 'agroterrorism' – the intentional attempt to compromise the country’s food supply," informs a press release from a very small college in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a town mostly known for the World Series of Little League Baseball.

"It also is being offered as a professional-development opportunity for faculty/staff," the school adds.

"Parker, an agroterrorism 'master trainer,' was contracted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to train tribal representatives to instruct tribal police officers, fire departments and others how to respond to an agroterror event."

Does Pennsyltucky have any Native Americans on reservations threatened by agroterrorism?

No, of course not. But don't get hung up over it.

Various places in Pine Grove and Schuylkill County, among many other counties in the state, have Indian names derived from the old Leni Lenape tribe, aka Delaware Indians. Other tribes in Pennsylvania included the Iroquois and the Susquehannas. We were taught these things in grade school decades ago.

However, in my forty some years in the state, I'll be damned if I ever ran into any.

For the eye-rolling original, go here.

Friday, April 06, 2007

THE MOST FLIMSY INTEL: Doug Feith's, naturally

Today, your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow patiently downloaded the "declassified" Inspector General report and slide exhibit pdfs from Senator Carl Levin's .gov website. Expecting little, we were furnished with even less.

In particular, I've long been interested in exactly where the information on ricin plots in London and their alleged linkage to al Qaeda and Iraq came from.

If you're unfamiliar, these claims constituted one of the many discredited planks in Colin Powell's speech to the UN Security Council prior to the mustering of enthusiasm for war with Iraq.

These beliefs were shattered during the trial of the London ricin ring, as reported by me, here.

Conspicuously absent from that case were American claims.

The outcome of that trial contributed greatly to the disillusionment with the war in the UK and the early adoption of the conviction there that the Bush administration had fabricated evidence for it. This nexus of events hurt the Blair government, which was perceived as toady to the Bush administration.

But in the United States, no one has seen fit to spill the beans on where this information came from. One has to dig through reports for fine print adn even then the trail is unusually dim.

Part of it, unsurprisingly, leads back to a tortured prisoner. It's described here. These traces were revealed in a part of the Senate Intelligence Select Committee's report on Iraq, released in September of last year.

With Levin's release of Feith's slide show on intelligence allegedly linking al Qaeda and Iraq, there is a very brief part entitled "Al Qaida Seeks Chem-Bio Weapons."

Most of it is redacted, one might reason nonsensically so. But even if one lets the ink go for a minute and imagines the slide without blackouts, the information is astonishingly thin, constituting -- at best -- two paragraphs.

One of the fragments in the clear -- "Unconfirmed reports of Iraqis assisting al Qaida in establishment of microbial laboratories in Afghanistan" -- appears to be absolute rubbish.

There simply is no indication anywhere in the public record to support it.

DD assumes it was entirely made up, something someone wanted to believe because it was convenient.

"...[C]ouriers transporting an alleged poison were intercepted" most probably refers to the arrest of members of the alleged London ricin ring in Operation Springbourne, a sweep conducted by British anti-terror forces in the months before the war in Iraq.

During this period, Colin Powell and others talked about ricin of al Qaeda origin being chased around Europe, ricin which was presumed to have been made in Iraq.

"The ricin that is bouncing around Europe now originated in Iraq -- not in the part of Iraq that is under Saddam Hussein's control, but his security forces know all about it," said Powell in one newspaper report.

The trial of the alleged ricin ring in London, being absent of anything that might be relevant to this assumption, showed it to be imaginary.

"The Feith office alternative intelligence assessments concluded that Iraq and al Qaeda were cooperating and had a 'mature, symbiotic' relationship, a view that was not supported by the available intelligence, and was contrary to the consensus view of the Intelligence Community," reads the germane press release on

"These alternative assessments were used by the Administration to support its public arguments in its case for war. As the DOD IG report confirms, the Intelligence Community never found an operational relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda; the report specifically states that,'the CIA and DIA disavowed any mature, symbiotic relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida.'”

"The very title of the Feith briefing slides contradicts his claim on February 16 that 'we didn’t do intelligence assessments,'" it adds.

One expects to see substantive work when one reads of intelligence purporting to show a danger. And it remains shocking to see how flimsy such actual material is when the cat is finally out of the bag.

The Levin page and pdfs are here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

FIRST IN LINE AT McDONALD'S: A 'bodacious bod' or looking like the second week into a garbage strike?

The heartbreaking reality of childhood obesity in America.

Music journalists at daily newspapers regularly write the most laughable copy. It has always been this way.

In today's Los Angeles Times, August Brown and Margaret Waffler ask readers to consider, without splitting a gut, the following about a singer -- pictured above -- of a punk rock band called The Gossip.

"The Gossip's Beth Ditto, the magma-voiced singer prone to onstage stripping ... [has] England crazy for the blistering soul-punk of [their] latest, Standing In the Way of Control," they report.

"NME not only put Ditto's bodacious bod on the cover, it also nominated her for its sexiest woman contest."

A long time ago, DD wrote volumes for the music pages for the Morning Call newspaper,part of the Times chain -- then Times-Mirror, now called Tribune.

And it can be said with some authority that if you were going to write utterly nonsensical hagiography about someone, you would either be sure not to include the impeaching photo or work in a helping of literary winking so readers knew you hadn't lost your mind.

Come to think of it, using phrase 'bodacious bod' would never have happened. Neither would have passing along, true or not, a British music tabloid's nomination for sexiest whatever.

However, being appropriately supercilious -- now there was something we were really good at.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

BOMB IRAN SET FOR GOOD FRIDAY (CODE AFD): Most decline to bite on Operation Bite

Today -- notably April Fool's -- the Jerusalem Post ran with the "Russian" rumint/disinfo that the Bush administration was set to attack Iran near the end of the week.

"The United States will be ready to launch a missile attack on Iran's nuclear facilities as soon as early this month, perhaps "from 4 a.m. until 4 p.m. on April 6," according to reports in the Russian media on Saturday," wrote the Post.

"According to Russian intelligence sources, the reports said, the US has devised a plan to attack several targets in Iran, and an assault could be carried out by launching missiles from fighter jets and warships stationed in the Persian Gulf."

The Post bites on Operation Bite, a bit of insubstantial trash wafting about. Flogged by a few websites, most notably Israel's Debkafile, it had been largely ignored by the mainstream media until JP picked it up a few hours ago. (Googling the alleged principals only points to the same reprints, citing this name.)

JP drops the moniker, Operation Bite, perhaps because it doesn't fit with the usual modern US sttack nomenclature, which calls for two-worders, perhaps like Persian Succor, Emerging TLAMs, Farsi Fool's-Mate, Flying Carpetbomb, Coshing Xerxes, Nipping Natanz, Popping Pustule, Cauterizing Carbuncle -- you get the idea.

The only difference between it and the computer sin wargame, Radiating Rubble, blogged in January, is the time for jump-off. DD set the clock to midnight in the Gulf. Assuming Tehran time, the Russians move it forward so as to correspond with the end of the news day throughout the US, which shows a mordant sense for the way things get done in DC.

As for DD, I plan to being installing free wireless broadband in the main bathroom.

The Short Count and James Woolsey sing "Bomb Iran," by Vince Vance & the Valiants.

USAF basics on taking out WMD programs.