HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Thursday, January 05, 2006


LIVING in the DANGER ZONE - new Reporters risk themselves in war zones for far more than glory, Vulnerability of freelancers, Tales of personal terror in the dissolving Russian Empire; A prayer for Jill Caroll

UNPATRIOTIC SPYING- The struggle for America's Soul
See our latest important effort on the greatest scandal of this administration, one which will metastasize if anyone in the press does their job, and snooping victims come forward. The FBI is doing full spectrum warrantless monitoring of 30,000 people a year, but are there even 3000 legitimate terrorism suspects a year? Now the Pentagon, CIA, NSA have also been spying on Americans- all illegally or illegitimately. No judge, no magistrate, no control, no limits; Records are open to state, local, and corporate "authorities" and are never destroyed. Thousands can rip through anyone's life, and could this vindictive administration avoid persecuting critics? With stunning revelation from Joe Wilson.

Was reading new book ICE where they’ve drilled ice cores from Greenland, 7000 ft and 115,000 years of history- climate, weather, eruptions, bacteria in Grand Canyon-like layers. This penetrates through the last ice age into the previous warm period, but the shock was the startling abrupt shifts: 8 times in the last 100,000 year ice age, temperature spiked upward 15-20° F (comparable to our time) in only 1-3 years. Climate changes apparently aren’t like mountain building- slow grinding changes that take thousands of years. They are more like earthquakes- sudden sharp convulsions that totally change life on earth. After the 1300 year Younger Dryas return to Ice Age weather after the spastic start of the current warm period, the end was explosive- temperatures went up 20°F in less than one year- maybe only one season. Now latest reports from Nature Magazine have incredibly, the Gulf Stream dropping 30% in the last 8 years , the loop that brings life giving heat to the arctic latitude Northern Europe (look at world map- England, France are up at Newfoundland latitudes- only Gulf Stream makes them and Scandinavia habitable) is partially splitting off into a southern loop that only goes up to Straits of Gibraltar (red). This is perhaps due to the dilution of heavy evaporated salty water by massive quantities of fresh melt off of the Greeland ice cap (5000 cu. mi. extra in 40 years), so it doesn't sink and complete the loop underwater (blue). This has been hypothesized to be the trigger for previous ice ages- which I reported on back in 1998, the previous hottest year in history. Maybe it's possible to have enormous warming in some places and arctic cooling in others- the accumulation of 2 mile ice sheets would seem to require much heat to put that moisture in the atmosphere initially, though the arctic has been subject to much more warming than anyplace else.
pic expands- Gulf Stream diversion
Now Europe-Russia, from Italy to the Urals is suffering under one of worst cold waves in record with estimated 1000 people dead already (if 181 dead in Ukraine alone, 4 times that in Russia- every winter day in Moscow 10-20 drunks freeze to death so it isn't reported). It's not expected to break -5 in Russia until February and this has gone on since about the 15th. Read on- maybe the onset of bitter ice age cold comes fast too- they didn't mention the speed of the reversal.

Saturday, January 28, 2006
BARROW, Alaska - Ridges of sea ice packing car-sized chunks of the cold stuff slammed onto a road in this northern Alaskan town in quantities not seen in nearly three decades.
Two ice surges, known to Alaska Natives as ivus, stunned residents who had never seen such large blocks of ice rammed ashore.
"It just looked like a big old mountain of ice," said L.A. Leavitt, 19, who left his nightshift job at the city to check out the ridges.
Ivus are like frozen tsunamis and crash ashore violently. They have killed hunters and are among the Arctic's most feared natural phenomena.
The ivus crashed ashore Tuesday after strong winds from Russia and eastward currents began pushing pack ice toward Barrow last weekend, said North Slope Borough disaster coordinator Rob Elkins.
By late Monday, thick, old sea ice known as multiyear ice had shoved younger, thinner ice onto shore.
Witnesses here said the northernmost ridge was about 20 feet high and 100 feet long and contained car-size blocks. Ice left a coastal road with only one lane, they said.
"It was just an amazing sight," said Elkins. "It looks like huge stacks of huge ice cubes."

Bitter cold kills 181 in Ukraine
About 3,000 people treated in hospital
Thursday, January 26, 2006; Posted: 9:30 a.m. EST (14:30 GMT)Thursday, January 26, 2006 Pedestrians enter a subway to avoid the freezing weather in Kiev.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- A bitter cold wave has killed 181 people in Ukraine over last five days, the Health Ministry said Thursday.
Another 3,000 people have been treated in hospital as temperatures plunged to minus 25 C (minus 13 F), the ministry said in a statement.

Records fall as cold grips Europe
Harbor workers clean ice from boats in Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna.
VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Vienna's subway tracks cracked, German authorities shut a key canal to ships after it iced up and a zoo moved its penguins indoors Tuesday as a deadly deep freeze tightened its arctic grip on much of Europe.
The killer cold wave, which has been blamed for more than 50 deaths in Russia, claimed at least 13 lives over the past five days in the former Soviet republic of Moldova,


Alito answered Senator's insistent questions in a dull monotone that emphasized that this was a small man, with no great heights of skill, vision, courage, or wisdom. As usual, in order to find a candidate extreme enough, Repubs must accept a huge helping of mediocrity. It is sad and distressing that Repubs don't realize the huge danger to democracy of appointing an extremist lifetime Supreme who believes in unlimited executive power- Senators could well be rendering their own jobs moot. Alito ducked and weaved and avoided answering anything, except that he was almost sure to overturn Roe, and would always defend the rights of the big guy- corporate or government. Sadly, Dems seem to be backing away from a filibuster- if you can't use it now to prevent the enthronement of a man who could destroy the Constitution- it is worthless. Use it or lose it by default. OK, it's gone.

C-Span has vote indications at 37-57 at the end Monday, with wimps Dems Bayh, Cantwell, Dorgan (ND), Johnson (SD), Landrieu, Rockefeller and Repub Snowe not taking a stand that would have allowed a filibuster. After an insanely short 4 days of debate, Senate discussion was crushed by cloture at 4:30 Jan 30 by the crazy vote of 72-25 (19 Dems voted to stop debate), in time to deliver a shiny new radical judge for Bush's State of Union. Chafee was the only Repub against. The final vote was 58-42, with only Dems Byrd (WV), Nelson NE, Johnson (SD), and Conrad (ND) voting for him. So 5 out of 6 fence sitters voted against Alito, but not when it could have counted to qualify for a filibuster. Byrd either has suffered some aneurysm or was completely co-opted by Alito's "charm", because he gave an impassioned defense of Alito's integrity and qualities that sullied his recent sterling eloquence against right wing radicalism. NYT says Ted Kennedy concentrated too much on gotcha factoids, like Alito's membership in racist anti-female Princeton club rather than his radical judicial decisions.
Then Frist had the nerve to lie bald faced about "unprecedented obstructionism" by Dems blocking court nominees, when 70 or so Clinton nominees were kept bottled up by Oral Hatch in committee.

SOB STORY: The touching breakdown of Scalito's wife into tears after her husbands badgering may have been another tawdry Repub setup- it came during Lindsay Graham's (see Graham Cracker) questioning, who had participated in
coaching sessions for Alito in the White House (im-impartiality). Poor woman- let's remember, this clown wants to make 1 million women a year criminals. Cry about that. Spectre's initial appearance of moderation was a sham- he is a first class weasel, the same guy who invented the "magic bullet theory" as a Warren Commision council, and who savagely beat up Anita Hill in defending the pervert Justice Clarence Thomas (3 other women were blackmailed into not coming forward by David Brock).


The outbreak of bird flu in Turkey may be the big one, but they still claim there has been no person to person transfer. 3 kids from the same family: Mehmet Ali Kocyigit, 14, and his two sisters Fatma, 15, and Hulya, 11, are dead in the far eastern town of Dogubeyazit, 90 miles north of Van near Mt. Ararat- in an impoverished Armenian district. The children reportedly played catch with severed chicken heads.. for several days. This is not advisable. These kids need toys. A 4th child recovered. Since then it has been confirmed in 18 cases all across Turkey, including 5 cases in the 7 million pop capital Ankara, and chickens in Istanbul and 15 other cities, though the real number is undoubtedly more. One who died was reportedly treated with the anti-viral Tamilflu.
- Van - 7, including 3 deaths
Ankara - 3
Kastamonu - 2
Corum - 1
Samsun - 1

In Van, authorities rounded up 38 people with flu symptoms and hospitalized them. If they actually have bird flu, that may be a good technique, but if they have regular flu, it is the best way to create a pandemic- consolidating bird flu and regular flu victims in the same hospital could cause the gene mixing that would create the next great human killer. In fact, as in all potential epidemics, real isolation, preferably in situ, is the best medicine. Huge numbers of British and Russian tourists have been canceling vacations to the cheap southern Med resorts. Whne the
Minister of Health showed up in the 2nd poorest city of Dogubeyazit, he was mobbed by panicked townsfolk.

A Swedish team of researchers investigating flu
symptoms in Vietnam tested 46,000 people and believe there were far more mild cases of bird flu than were believed- 750, which would mean it isn’t the nightmarishly 52% fatal that was believed (76 of 146), but only 10%. This would still be triple the fatality rate of the Great Influenza of 1918-19 that killed from 50-100 million people. 2 Ankara brothers who have tested positive have no symptoms, 2 more have only mild symptoms. But why would they be testing people with no symptoms? Japan said Tuesday that 77 poultry workers had tested positive for previous exposure to bird flu- the weak H5N2 variant in the first confirmed infections of humans involving the weaker strain of the virus that has hit its chicken industry, but 5 there got H5N1 in 2004.

French drug company Sanofi Pasteur has reported an encouraging start in early clinical trials for a prototype bird flu vaccine. It said it had seen a good response from the 300 volunteers trialling the vaccine." Early reports claim people need a huge amount of vaccine for immunity- 3 to 10 times normal. In China, pigs are reportedly widely infected with a human influenza, so the pool of available epidemic breeding dishes isn't 200, but millions. To illustrate the danger to the human race: in every infected cell, over 99% of the 100,000-1 million daughter viruses are mutations and a change of only 18 out of 4500 genes could change a regular human flu into the 1918 flu, also a bird flu (which was sequenced from Alaskan cadavers). In fact, tests on the Turkish flu show it has already mutated to make humans more susceptible.

Avian Flu- wiki, H5N1


The nightmare in West Virginia was an instant deja vu, because 3 hours before I had been reading the rescue chapter in a book (Striking Back-A. Klein) about the Munich Olympics hostage taking in the Borders’ library, and the same things happened: the 9 remaining athletes were all reported safe around the world and there was huge celebrating for many hours- till the truth came out. When MSNBC said, they all were OK- I had a bad feeling- this mine company were famous weasels- and in such desperate straights, small indications are given huge import and rumors fly faster than anyone can shoot them down. This happened right where a gonzo friend has a spread- 10 mi. from Buckhannon, so I've studied the area.
Last Supper in salt
MINES: I've had several tours of major huge mines: the Homestake mine (Lead, SD): hundreds of miles of passageways up to a mile and half below ground- the richest single gold mine in the world worked for 125 years till end of 2001; and the incredible Polish Wieliczka salt mine near Krakow- a 700 year old wonder with dozens of levels and also hundreds of miles of tunnels, including a football field size amphitheatre with huge statues of people, animals, etc..... all carved from... salt. Took a 5 hour guided tour through Wind River Cave in Wyoming, squeezing through bottlenecks, and dropping floors in the most audacious Ranger led event ever. Never dealt with coal, though, except for dipping into WV at Bluefield several decades ago. It was the grimmest place I ever saw, where no one ever smiled, hardscrabble poverty reigned, and death hung over the place like a shroud. It was a revelation: miners earn their pay, but I was very glad to leave. With salaries of 45-75K, most anyone with limited prospects could be persuaded to stay.

CARBON MONOXIDE, a odorless, colorless, tasteless gas, comes from burning the coal in tight closed spaces.. or slow oxidation of the coal. Mostly, burning makes CO2, which is a physiological poison that convinces the body it is starving of oxygen and kills it by panic (>15%). CO, on the other hand is an active vicious poison that destroys the hemoglobin in the blood, and it's ability to carry oxygen. One breathe of the pure stuff is enough to kill, and even low single digit percentages are fatal. It's almost the exact density as air, so you can't avoid it by going up or down, like with CO2, which is 50% heavier. If people are exposed long enough, like that survivor, recovery can take months and years. I accidentally poisoned myself with it in the lab once- felt like my head was being crushed for 3 or 4 hours- a splitting headache is it's main feature, but low low level poisoning from, say old VW van heat exchangers causes deep exhaustion and misery. I was nailed by this in Boston for several months before I figured out what it was, cause you can't smell the exhaust.

hostages Shorr + Spitzer
The tragedy in the 1972 Olympics was the result of incompetent, ignorant, pompous, cowardly German officials who were as responsible for the deaths of the Israelis as if they had shot them themselves… according to a new book Striking Back. It was run by blithering blowhard Bavarian bureaucrats, who because of the German Constitution, had almost complete autonomy- nothing of the rescue was run by the nat. German Gov.- it was all Bavarian and Munich police, who had no anti-terrorist training. In fact, there was no such thing in demilitarized Germany- no SWAT, no special forces, no anti-terrorists. The top Israelis who flew in were ignored and abused- their offer of a counter-terrorist squad rejected. Because they had no experience at all with Germany, because of..... the past (only 27 years from the death camps), they thought the Germans would run the rescue with their usual devastating efficiency and effectiveness. They couldn't have been more wrong.

First the Munchkens had a group of assault cops dressed on track suits assemble on top of the Israeli building- in full view of TV cameras airing footage to the Palestinians. Forced to retreat there, they sent the terrorists and captives by 2 helicopters to a military airfield, where a 727 was supposed to take them Cairo, but an ambush by sharpshooters was actually planned. 6-10 Munich police dressed as crew simply bailed out of the plane while the helicopter was in flight without telling anyone- it was suicidal, they thought. They were probably right- they still were wearing their police pants with Lufthansa jackets. They thought there were only 5 hijackers; when there were 8 (4 were employees at the Olympics); they had only 5 marksmen there out of 29 in the area, they had no proper searchlights, no night vision gear or scopes, no radios, no generator power, no armored cars, no forces or plans to storm the plane if things went bad. “Later it was discovered that one of the snipers never fired a shot, and yet another sniper was positioned directly in the line of friendly fire, without any protective gear”-Wikipedia

They just opened fire- killing 3 terrorists- and commencing an hour and a half firefight. The remaining terrorists quickly knocked out the 3 lightstands with grenades, so snipers were firing in the dark. The Chermans refused to storm the plane, and insisted on waiting for armored cars. When they appeared, however, the hostage takers, realizing the game was up- blew up one helicopter with hogtied hostages with a grenade, and wiped out the rest with machine gun bursts. The Germans did kill 2 more hijackers after the massacre; 3 survived and were released 2 months later when Black September hijacked a Lufthansa jet. They were flown to Libya for a heroes welcome. German firefighters refused to go in and put out the fire even when the terrorists left- one hostage died of smoke inhalation. To their credit, German officials did offer to exchange themselves for the Israelis, or an infinite amount of money, and one cop was killed in the shootout. Somehow the story got promulgated that all the hostages were safe, and Israelis and much of the world wept in relief. Then, like in WV, they wept much more. The good Bavarian burghers stonewalled the Israeli families for decades, denying the existence of any documents about the case, giving them nothing in info or compensation (Israel also did nothing) until 2002. Finally- just last year- 2004, they offered $114K to each of the 36 family members, now only 27. Disgraceful.

The new movie Munich is based on a semi-discredited 1984 book: Vengeance, which already produced a 1986 movie: The Sword of Gideon. Munich is supposed to be a masterpiece and doesn’t claim historical accuracy (though this galls me- when you do a movie about some famous event, you are writing history- why not do it right?). Many of the Israeli assassination targets had little or nothing to do with Munich; amazingly the alleged mastermind Abu Daoud (who was shot 6 times by Israelis but survived) claims the unwitting financier of the Munich kidnappings was Mahmoud Abbas- current Palestinian Authority President. Much confusion exists over whether the remaining 3 terrorists were later killed by Israeli hit squads or not- 2 may have been, but at least one was alive in 1999 for a documentary One Day in Sept.

Adden: June 14- Finally saw movie and it is a powerhouse on the horror of war and the risks of vengeance. The shadow war of targeted killings unfold as regular Palestinian terrorist events happen in the background, sometimes in apparant retaliation (vaguely remembered from my semi-youth). The ambiguity and confusion of counter terror terror has never been so accurately portrayed- nothing ever goes exactly as intended, and the firefights and bombing scenes are very realistic and harrowing. This actually shows the effect of a machine gun ripping through a human body, not the TV cartoon violence of thousands of shots without ever hitting someone. The killing of the gorgeous Dutch seductress assassin (a Montreal Naomi Watts type) is one of the most horrible ever displayed. "Such a waste," she says as she's killed. The Munich massacre was searingly and relatively accurately depicted- incredible the Germans let the 3 hijackers go- the Jews really were on their own. The incredible moral quandry of becoming what you hate, and are warring against, is vividly displayed and has immediate application to America, where our Bike Boy President and his nitwit neocons are disemboweling the Bill of Rights, sanctioning torture of innocents, and lying us into a conflict of faiths that could last generations.

Spielberg addresses the book controversy at the beginningof the DVD, saying Vengeance was attacked but never discredited. He does avoid the most attrocious event of the Mosad vendetta- the killing of the wrong man in a street in Norway, which publically outed the whole plot. The Palestinians aren't cardboard cutouts, in the most impossible scene PLO gunmen and the Israeli hit squad share a safe-house after a long standoff ("ETA- Basque!", scream the Mossad men). After, Eric Bana and a PLO guy argue about Palestine and the Palestinian has the same motivations- honor, homeland, family. stopping them from killing us. No way they wouldn't make them for Israelis, though.

Truly a masterpiece, and a film that will have you thinking, and remembering- long after you see it.