by Mitchel Cohen, from The Permanent Carnival


Two vast and trunkless legs of steel

Like silent Pharaohs over Wall Street stood

Scraping the vast canvas of immortality


How many died erecting those towers:

Welders of iron, exoskeletal beams?

Manhattan is missing her two front teeth

Can you help me find them?


What were their thoughts on that morning’s long fall?

Beat, you wings! Just another few breaths!

Millions of fingers of Flesh, of Memory —

Sift and sift that ancient dust


Manhattan is missing her two front teeth

Help me find them!


Now, only a torn, disfigured pedestal remains

And on it these words appear:

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.*


Autumn, impervious,

Mocking our imperial pretense,

Swirls her bluest skirt, whips her hips,

Casts the bones of September

Like I-Ching sticks over Baghdad

Throwing sunsets to die for.

                        *Stanza by Percy Bysshe Shelley



by Mitchel Cohen, from The Permanent Carnival

Greetings from Brooklyn, this little corner of the world.

The bones of September have barely been exhumed and new crises are already punching through the hum-drum drop­pings of everyday life. Flying in an airplane; attending antiwar protests; wearing darker skin; praying to an unsanctioned God facing the wrong direction; opening a letter ̶— all are filled with trepidation.

The anxiousness is pervasive, all-too-real. As Ginsberg once wrote: We hug and kiss the United States under our bed­sheets, the United States that coughs all night and won’t let us sleep.

There is a sense, not fully articulated, that at least some of the hysteria is being orchestrated, our emotions are manipulated and somewhere deep down a noisy lit­tle ulcer gnaws that this all may have something to do with Ter­rorism with a capital T, yes, but it also has something to do with Oil, with Pipeline, with Empire. Aladdin’s lamps are exploding all at once, and Papa Bush’s genetically engineered genies sweep down our chimneys at night when we are sleeping, jangling keys to apocalyptic dungeons lined with TV screens, we don’t know why and we don’t have time to think about it as the next crisis is announced and is upon us as earlier ones recede, wave after wave from sea to shining sea.

We are exhorted by mouths white with foam: Support America: Go shopping, wave flags (made in sweat­shops in China), cheer­ing (and, for some, pleading: Don’t hit me, I’m Ameri­can too, not one of THEM), never breaking off, allowing themselves to think about who is stampeding us into returning to routines we des­pised but which we now romanticize as “the good old days.”

Peace is not a noun meaning the absence of war; it is a verb: To Peace. To live as though the oneness is real (despite all the doubters, despite one’s own doubts!). To live as though we still have rights. To understand that ALL soil is sacred even as the gaping anthraxial wound swallows up Manhattan’s two front teeth and we wait for some tooth fairy to exchange them for quarters left under the pillow, this Autumn of abandoned child­hoods.

How is it that the death count keeps shrinking at Ground Zero — the Washington Post has exhaustive­ly tallied it at one-third of what the Mayor had been claim­ing ̶— and is get­ting higher at some­one else’s Ground Zero other side of the world?

Is there a huge transfer of bodies through the dark channels of earth, some insane transmigration of souls from the spiritual desert of Wall Street to Afghanistan’s flat earthly sands?

Beyond right and wrong,

beyond the political struggle to stop the bombardment,

beyond this and that, the harrowing dig through centuries of rubble to pull out real human lives;

beyond the tarpits of civilization, we charge through life like wounded Tyrannosaurs fired up by avenging Generals named Electric and Dynamic, Lockheed and Boeing and Unocal, Bechtel and Halliburton and Carlyle, merchants of both sides’ instru­ments, their awful machinery of holocausts, oblivious, sitting at the edge of world war three, or four, or five, about to extinct ourselves in Ginsberg’s hydrogen jukebox in a place called Paki­stan, called India ̶— Whose God is stronger? Which one do we trust the most — the one with the accurate Timex watch delivering videos at just the right moment, cell phone, dialysis machine and patch over one-eye slaughtering the lambs or the accountant book­keeper of capital with knotted white hair whose only prophet is profit, measuring out abysmal teaspoons of what he calls justice for every abyss full of his believers’ tortured souls?

Said Camus: I wish I could love my country and still love Justice.

We live in my country Tisofthee somewhere amidst the stars. Bush’s stolen election has kicked the whole world out of whack, thrown us into a parallel universe that wasn’t supposed to be, and everything that has trans­pired since ̶— the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, the stolen dreams of real democracy ̶— pile jumbled on the ocean floor as the earth heats up, the seas rise around us, and, like the World Trade Center, swallow us whole.

Written in early October, 2001


Environmentalists throughout the world owe an enormous debt of gratitude to political prisoner Julian Assange, the founder and publisher of Wikileaks — and most of them don’t know it.

It wasn’t only secret recordings pertaining to war and crimes-against-humanity that Wikileaks published, based on the heroic work of Chelsea Manning who downloaded thousands of secret US military files. A slew of cables Assange published revealed massive U.S. government attempts on behalf of Monsanto to coerce governments to allow foreign corporate land ownership, and with it genetically engineered agriculture throughout the world, and to squelch opposition to GMOs, breaking down existing laws prohibiting the genetic engineering of agriculture.

The cables revealed U.S. officials applying financial, diplomatic, and frequently military pressure on behalf of Monsanto and other biotech corporations.

These cables were followed by revelations that U.S., the World Bank and IMF loans “opened up Ukraine to major corporate inroads,” writes Joyce Nelson in The Ecologist and also in Counterpunch. “Loan conditions are forcing the deeply indebted country to open up to GMO crops, and lift the ban on private sector land ownership. U.S. corporations are jubilant at the ‘goldmine’ that awaits them.”(1)

The information, under the radar here in the U.S., reveals stipulations in the terms of the US’s massive arms financing of Ukraine going back for more than a decade.

And on April 28, 2020, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a bill into law authorizing the sale of farmland in Ukraine, lifting a moratorium that had been in place since 2001. This bill is part of a series of policy reforms upon which the IMF conditioned its $8 billion loan package.(2)

Wikileaks’ revelations about agriculture became the basis for understanding the mechanisms imperialism uses. The U.S. exerts its muscle on other countries to allow Monsanto et al. to take over huge tracts of land in Ukraine, bypassing direct purchase by foreign companies. Foreign ownership of land had been prohibited by law in Ukraine — a sudden realization that so-called internet “fact checkers” have been relying on to “debunk” news stories on the privatized dispersal of agricultural land there. But the “debunkers” ignore the many mechanisms utilized by foreign corporations to gain ownership and control of the land and skirt the law. So we find massive U.S. corporate investments in Ukrainian companies, controlling the kinds of seeds planted and how they are grown.

In a 2007 cable marked “confidential,” Craig Stapleton, then U.S. Ambassador to France, advised the U.S. to prepare for economic war with countries unwilling to introduce Monsanto’s GM corn seeds. He called for retaliation, to “make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices. In fact, the pro-biotech side in France [has] told us retaliation is the only way to begin to turn this issue in France.”(3)

The U.S. diplomatic team recommended that “we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits.”(4)

In another cable, this one from Macau and Hong Kong, a U.S. Department of Agriculture director requested $92,000 in U.S. public funds for “media education kits” to combat growing public resistance to genetically engineered foods. It portrays attempts to mandate the labeling of GMOs as a “threat” to U.S. interests, and seeks to “make it much more difficult for mandatory labeling advocates to prevail.”

The cables released by Wikileaks revealed that officials in the Obama administration, particularly in
Hillary Clinton’s State Department, intervened at Monsanto’s request “to undermine legislation that might restrict sales of genetically engineered seeds.” Under Hillary Clinton, the U.S. State Department was so gung-ho to promote GMOs that Mother Jones writer Tom Philpott called the agency she presided over “the de facto global-marketing arm of the ag-biotech industry, complete with figures as high-ranking as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mouthing industry talking points as if they were gospel.”(5)

The New York Daily News reported that State Department officials under Hillary Clinton were actively using taxpayer money to promote Monsanto’s controversial GMO seeds around the world.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoting Monsanto’s interests in Kenya in 2009. [Source:]

U.S. officials recommended pro-biotech and bio-agriculture DVDs be sent to every high school in Hong Kong.(6)

The cables reveal the joint strategic planning of Monsanto and the U.S. government. In one series, Monsanto concluded that northern Thailand would be an ideal location to cultivate genetically engineered corn for export to other countries, due to the area’s very low labor and infrastructure costs.

In this cable released by Wikileaks, one country, Peru, is mentioned as recipient, and the U.S. official suggests that even with transportation expenses across two oceans included, it would nevertheless be more profitable to grow and ship GMO corn from northern Thailand than from neighboring Argentina or Brazil, since U.S. “diplomatic efforts” would be used to drive down the cost of production in northern Thailand. The U.S. would press Thailand to drop its opposition to GM cultivation, and the country would be rewarded.

The cables provide a fascinating (and terrfying) glimpse into the seemingly mundane mechanisms of global imperialism and consolidation of control of world agriculture on a very localized level.

WikiLeaks “acquired” and published a searchable database and unabridged text of the secret 2015 TransPacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Trade in Services Agreement.(7) By publishing the secret text of the agreement, Assange exposed the U.S. government’s pressure on other countries to purchase and plant Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered seeds, which required the concomitant purchase of Monsanto’s patented pesticides, in order for the crops to grow.

The treaties limited the ability of one country to legally challenge environmental depradation in trade with another, making it abundantly clear that environmental issues could not be successfully addressed in piecemeal fashion, but must be seen as integrated political, technological, economic, and scientifically packaged warfare. To succeed, movements would be compelled to not only examine the dangers of each pesticide du jour, but the underlying mechanisms by which corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, Novartis, BASF and other pesticide and pharmaceutical manufacturers have come to determine government policies overall, as well as those of global regulatory agencies, which in turn allow them to get away with masking the truth about their products and outright lying about their danger.

While socialist and ecology activists have always exposed the collaboration between government and corporate expansion, the details revealed by WikiLeaks’ published documents are nothing short of astounding. They reveal the need for ecological movements to develop far more radical strategies for dealing with the immense destruction by capitalism in practice, and not just in theory nor in a piecemeal fashion. For this largely unknown contribution by Julian Assange, ecological activists, along with antiwar radicals motivated by Assange’s publishing of the now infamous “Collateral Murder” video (obtained from Chelsea Manning), owe Assange a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid.

Today, Julian Assange is locked away in a British prison and is fighting for his life. The U.S. government seeks to bring this Australian citizen to the United States for a show trial and then lock him up forever, if they don’t assassinate him en route, as the CIA and U.S. State Department had discussed. (8) The sacrifices Julian Assange has made are profound, and his contribution to ecological as well as antiwar movements is enormous. It is incumbent on all to demand an end to his incarceration and torment by the U.S. and British governments.

And yet, despite worldwide exposure of glyphosate’s dangers and its designation as a “probable carcinogen,” only a handful of governments throughout the world have joined with environmental activists and health professionals in banning Monsanto’s Roundup. We need to turn up the volume:

Free Julian Assange NOW.

“No” to GMOs and the planet destroyers


Many thanks to Patricia Dahl, an organizer with Stand with Assange NY, for outlining some of the secret involvements of the U.S. government with Monsanto and other corporate polluters that were first brought to light by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. See Michael Ratner, Moving the Bar: My Life as a Radical Lawyer (New York: OR Books: 2021), for an extensive first-hand review of Assange’s legal case by his chief attorney, before he died of cancer in 2016.


1. Joyce Nelson, “Monsanto and Ukraine,” Counterpunch, August 22, 2014, and also, Joyce Nelson, “Ukraine opens up for Monsanto, land grabs and GMOs,” The Ecologist, September 11, 2014.

2. Oakland Institute,Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict,” July 28, 2014; and also, Oakland Institute, Ben Reicher and Frederic Mousseau, “Who Really Benefits from the Creation of a Land Market in Ukraine?” August 6, 2021.


4. Ibid.

5. Tom Philpott, “Taxpayer Dollars Are Helping Monsanto Sell Seeds Abroad,” Mother Jones, May 18, 2013.

6. Anita Katial, Senior Director Europe Operations at USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), is named as the responsible officer for the pro-biotech propaganda effort on behalf of the U.S. government. ↑


8. Julian Borger, “CIA officials under Trump discussed assassinating Julian Assange – report: Mike Pompeo and officials requested ‘options’ for killing Assange following WikiLeaks’ publication of CIA hacking tools, report says.” The Guardian, Sept. 27, 2021.


Mitchel Cohen is Coordinator of the No Spray Coalition in New York City. He can be reached at:

FIFTY YEARS AGO – July, 1973













Mitchel Cohen, being taken in 1973 to RIVERHEAD and to YAPHANK PRISON, U.S.A., to begin a 4-month sentence for antiwar protests at SUNY Stony Brook, upon arrest 4 years earlier.

The walls are a mosaic of green weasel-snot. Something is crawling along my leg, I feel it under the blanket. Today is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, I don’t know. Some noise is penetrating the darkness, an electrical buzzing that will not stop. It must be a hundred degrees in here.

The bed rocks. I am in the top bunk, Star Spangled Banner is blasting over the loudspeaker right over my head. Someone is endlessly coughing across the room, and the stink of cigarettes is everywhere. It is still dark out. The shadows of barbed wire line the window edges. Everywhere I look there are bars and barbed wire.

There is a pervasive shuffling of feet and meaningless noise. I drop down from my bunk bed, pull on my prison-grays, and follow the trudge-trudge-trudge wherever it goes. Twenty steps, 30 steps, the guards search every prisoner. Forty steps more, go through an electronically opened gate and get searched again.

We come to the “mess hall”. The line moves quickly. Fellow prisoner cooks slop some food onto the trays. I stop, sit down, see my face distorted in the stainless steel table. “No talking!” I open my mouth and shovel liquids and mush into it. Then the shuffling and noise begins again. I follow it. It leads back to my dorm. I climb back into bed. I sleep, I think, or I wake. Which is the wake and which is the dream?

A train whistle’s blowing, brakes screeching. A red-faced man in a uniform – a drill sergeant — is standing next to me, his mouth wide open and smoke pouring out of his ears. I roll over and pull my pillow onto my head. A steel-toed workboot smacks the tile wall, narrowly missing my face.

Slowly, I turn my head and glare across the dorm room that houses 24 prisoners. Four car thieves and drug addicts, Vietnam vets all, stop their conversation, glare back at me. So, this is how it’s gonna be? My first day in Yaphank Prison and this is the welcoming committee.

I bury my face sideways against my pillow, tuck a deep breath into a forgotten corner of my lungs and, without looking up, a quiet, forceful and altogether alien voice emerges from my throat: “Whoever threw that boot, come pick it up. While you still can.”

JeesUS, did I say that? Down boy! Where the hell did that come from? Now I’m in for it, these guys’ll tear me to shreds. But there’s another force controlling me. I’m on automatic pilot. I keep my head down after my challenge, feign apathy. But my legs are getting ready to kick someone in the head, and my heart, oh yes, my strong athletic heart that normally beats slowly at 50 pulses per minute is now chugging along in high gear. I can feel the whole bunk bed trembling.

A minute passes. Nothing. No one says a word. Another minute. A pair of feet shuffle over near my bed, stop, then shuffle again. A hand reaches down, barely grazes my face, picks up the shoe. I hold my breath. Then the feet shuffle away. I slowly let my breath escape.

I am an unknown quantity, nerves of steel. Can I keep up this pretense for four months? That toothless fishmonger verbally fragged by an anti-war long-haired commie rat returns to his bunk to sulk. His buddies razz him. My bunk won’t stop quivering. Stop it, dammit!

*   *   *

“Hey Red,” bellows Adams. “Y’ever eat pussy?”

“Hell no!” Red groans back across the dorm, his eyes rolling, voice warbling, caricature of himself as a Black southern sharecropper. “Man, you is disgustin. Ain’t he disgustin, though?”

“Hey Red” Adams calls again in his high pitched whine, “your old lady ever give you a blow job?”

“Man, whatsamatter with you?! I just gets down there, puts the ol’ man in the boat. I don’t mess around with funky stuff like you white boys. Don’t talk. Nuthin’. When we rocks it, we make waves! And then it’s so quiet you could hear a rat pissin’ on cotton!”

Continue reading »

GUEST POST BY Alexis Baden-Mayer: David R. Franz: EcoHealth Alliance’s Anthrax-Era Biological Weapons Scientist

David R Franz

David R. Franz: EcoHealth Alliance’s Anthrax-Era Biological Weapons Scientist


Organic Consumers Association

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the ninth article in our ‘Gain-of-Function Hall of Shame’ series profiling key players in gain-of-function research.

“I think a lot of good has come from it. From a biological or a medical standpoint, we’ve now five people who have died, but we’ve put about $6 billion in our budget into defending against bioterrorism.”

—David R. Franz

When we began this series on the scientists, policy makers and funders involved in gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses and other potential pandemic pathogens, the lab-origin theory of COVID-19 was decidedly fringe.

The natural-origin theory ruled, with few people willing to point out that the emperor wore no clothes when actual links to the Wuhan wet market or an animal carrier of the virus couldn’t be established.

As we write now, popular demand is growing for an investigation into a potential lab-origin. The January 2021 publication of Nicholson Baker’s long-form investigative piece, “The Lab-Leak Hypothesis,” in New York Magazine signaled a watershed moment in the movement for COVID-19 truth.

Discovery of the truth is hampered by the recent crackdown on free speech by the tech companies running social media platforms since January 6. That was the day demonstrators, encouraged by their president, laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Protected by a thin line of riot-clad cops behind metal barricades, the building was easily breached by a massive crowd that had been allowed to march right up to its doors. The crowd-control failure proved deadly for both sides. Ashli Bobbitt, a woman attempting to move through a broken door, was shot to death (VIDEO) at close range by an unarmed officer who gave no warnings and was hidden from her view. In a separate incident, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died at the hospital after allegedly being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. While there is video of a rioter using a fire extinguisher as a weapon, it has not been alleged that was the victim of that attack was Sicknick.

Blaming Trump’s Tweets for the violence, tech companies moved quickly to limit his social media presence. Twitter permanently removed his @realDonaldTrump account, with more than 88 million followers. Facebook has banned Trump for the remainder of his term. Parler was the only major social media site to oppose the censorship. The plug was pulled on its 15 million users by Apple and Google, which hosted its app, and Amazon, which hosted its website.

There’s nothing we like about Trump, but we like censorship even less, if that’s possible. We support H.R. 7808, the Stop the Censorship Act of 2020, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) at the end of July. This bill would only allow tech companies to censor content that is actually “unlawful, or that promotes violence or terrorism,” not content they find merely “objectionable.”

We have to admit, we won’t miss Trump’s tweets, but we do miss the independent news sites that have been kicked off Twitter recently, most of all The Last American Vagabond, which has done excellent reporting on the origins of COVID-19.

Even in the midst of this unprecedented censorship, we predict that the obvious need to investigate the lab origins of COVID-19 will follow the same trajectory from conspiracy theory to conventional wisdom that the military origins of the anthrax attacks did.

Back in 2001, everyone took for granted that Islamic terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks.

The Bush Administration used its lies about the attacks to gain acceptance for the war on Iraq, the Patriot Act, the warrantless surveillance of Americans and even the so-called “targeted killing” of U.S. citizens.

Eventually, the anthrax in the letters mailed to two key Democratic Senators, Majority Leader Tom Dashle and Judiciary Committee Chair Parick Leahy, and several members of the media, was conclusively traced back to the Pentagon’s top bioweapons laboratory, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), and pinned on a Fort Detrick scientist.

The 2001 anthrax attacks and the risky gain-of-function experiments on bat coronaviruses that may have caused the COVID-19 pandemic share three eerie similarities.

First is the government funding. 

In both the anthrax experiments of the 1990s and the coronavirus research of the 2010s, military and civilian U.S. agencies simultaneously financed the creation of the dangerous biological agents and the production of the medical countermeasures needed to defend against them.

Second is the biotech bonanza. 

Pharmaceutical companies make easy money off wars and pandemics. Just ask Emergent BioSolutions. It got its big break, under the name BioPort, manufacturing anthrax vaccine for the military and now it’s got government contracts for COVID.

The taxpayer funding for experimental vaccines, antivirals or antibiotics isn’t the only windfall for pharmaceutical companies. The stock-market hype that follows public financing allows investors with good timing to get rich―even off the drugs that prove useless, end up unused or are eventually found to be too dangerous. “Emergency use” approvals come with liability waivers that make that rollercoaster ride risk free.

This pattern has played out over and over again. Brian Berletic, in his well-researched piece for 21st Century Wire, calls it the Pandemic Industrial Complex. He describes what’s happening now with COVID-19, but he also retraces the 2009 swine flu heist, the well-documented case of Roche using H1N1 to profit off Tamiflu (oseltamivir). After the money was made, it turned out that governments stockpiling had wasted billions of dollars and the World Health Organization (WHO) had based its advice to buy the drug on the word of scientists with financial ties to the company.

Berletic doesn’t mention that H1N1 may have been the result of a lab accident. That was the hypothesis proposed by Adrian Gibbs, a scientist who had participated in research that led to the development of Roche’s Tamiflu. WHO immediately dismissed his theory (even before Gibbs’ paper was published), but it hasn’t actually been debunked. An experiment to demonstrate how H1N1 could have emerged naturally from the reassortment of existing viruses failed.

Third is the people involved. 

We’ve profiled Robert Kadlec and Christian Hassell, whose government careers go back to the 2001 anthrax attacks and the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation, respectively.

In the Trump Administration, Kadlec and Hassell have been the Pandemic Industrial Complex’s kingmakers. When Biden cleans house, he should oust these two for corruption, including “seeking $100 million for labs that Hassell told Kadlec in an email were ‘in trouble for shady dealings, illegal accounting, and lack of accountability’ for unspecified Department of Defense projects.”

In this installment of the Gain-of-Function Hall of Shame, we add fellow anthrax alumnus David R. Franz, now an adviser to EcoHealth Alliance, the coronavirus-hunting funder of the Wuhan Institute of Virology that we covered in our profile of Peter Daszak.

Franz is a retired army colonel who served at USAMRIID beginning in 1987. He was Chief of the Cardiorespiratory Toxicology Department (1987-1989), Chief of the Toxicology Division (1989-1992), Deputy Commander (1993-1995), and Commander (1995-1998).

His years as commander overlap with those of the covert biological weapons programs described in Judith Miller’s book Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War, and he was a source for much of the information about them in the book. These included Projects Jefferson (the genetic engineering of vaccine-resistant anthrax, something the U.S. military had been doing since the 1980s), Clear Vision (the production of “biobomblets” that could be used to disperse anthrax), and Bite Size and Bacchus, or BACUS, Biotechnology Activity Characterization by Unconventional Signatures (the production of anthrax simulant outside the lab, as a terrorist cell might).

In August 1998, Franz left USAMRIID to work at the Southern Research Institute, a Pentagon biodefense contractor. SRI was one of the labs that, like USAMRIID, could have been a source of the virulent Ames anthrax used in the 2001 attacks. We know this because, in 2004, it accidentally sent live spores of this strain to a children’s hospital in Oakland. This made news and an SRI spokesperson was quoted saying they had been working with the pathogen since 2001.

David Franz was understood to be within the circle of potential suspects, but he was never fingered in the FBI’s investigation.

To this day, no one knows who did it.

There were three people variously blamed for the attack, but none of them were ever charged with a crime, let alone brought to trial. Ayaad Assaad, Steven Hatfill and Bruce Ivins each worked under Franz at USAMRIID.

The Arab Patsy

Whoever orchestrated the anthrax attacks wanted them blamed on Islamic terrorists. Each of the anthrax-filled letters read “DEATH TO AMERICA, DEATH TO ISRAEL, ALLAH IS GREAT.”

After 9/11, but before the anthrax attacks had been discovered, the FBI received a letter warning that a former USAMRIID scientist, the Egyptian-born Ayaad Assaad, was planning a biological attack. Laura Rozen reported in Salon:

“Dr. Assaad is a potential biological terrorist,” the letter stated, according to Assaad and [his lawyer] McDermott. The letter was received by the FBI in Quantico, Va., but Assaad did not learn from the FBI where it had been mailed from. “I have worked with Dr. Assaad,” the letter continued, “and I heard him say that he has a vendetta against the U.S. government and that if anything happens to him, he told his sons to carry on.”

According to Assaad, “The letter-writer clearly knew my entire background, my training in both chemical and biological agents, my security clearance, what floor where I work now, that I have two sons, what train I take to work, and where I live.

“The letter warned the FBI to stop me,” he said.

At the time, Assaad was involved in a lawsuit against USAMRIID, claiming that he had gone to his supervisor, David Franz, asking him to stop his coworkers, Charles Brown, Marian Rippy and Philip Zack, who had formed a “Camel Club” to harass Assaad with racially charged and sexually explicit poems and objects. He charged that Franz had “kicked me out of his office and slammed the door in my face” and later fired him in retaliation for his complaints. The FBI quickly cleared Assaad of any connection to the anthrax attacks.

The FBI never tried to trace the source of the accusatory letter, even though it may have been one of the best leads on whodunnit. As the Hartford Courant reported:

Assaad said he believes the note’s timing makes the author a suspect in the anthrax attacks, and he is convinced that details of his work contained in the letter mean the author must be a former Fort Detrick colleague.

Brown said that he doesn’t know who sent the letter, but that Assaad’s nationality and expertise in biological agents made him an obvious subject of concern after Sept. 11.

Don Foster, an expert on language forensics assisting the FBI, searched “through documents by some 40 USAMRIID employees” and “found writings by a female officer that looked like a perfect match.”

Foster doesn’t name names, so we don’t know who the female officer was. As Assaad’s Wikipedia page puts it, “he did not name Marian Rippy directly.”

One thing we do know is that racial harassment wasn’t the only thing David Franz let Rippy and Zack get away with under his watch.

During the same time that their Camel Club was active, an internal investigation revealed that 27 sets of specimens were reported missing at Fort Detrick and that secret research was being done in the lab outside of work hours.

Dr. Mary Beth Downs told investigators that she had come to work several times in January and February of 1992 to find that someone had been in the lab at odd hours, clumsily using the sophisticated electron microscope to conduct some kind of off-the-books research.

After one weekend in February, Downs discovered that someone had been in the lab using the microscope to take photos of slides, and apparently had forgotten to reset a feature on the microscope that imprints each photo with a label. After taking a few pictures of her own slides that morning, Downs was surprised to see “Antrax 005” emblazoned on her negatives.

Downs also noted that an automatic counter on the camera, like an odometer on a car, had been rolled back to hide the fact that pictures had been taken over the weekend. She wrote of her findings in a memo to Langford, noting that whoever was using the microscope was “either in a big hurry or didn’t know what they were doing.”

Documents from the inquiry show that one unauthorized person who was observed entering the lab building at night was … Lt. Col. Philip Zack, who at the time no longer worked at Fort Detrick. A surveillance camera recorded Zack being let in at 8:40 p.m. on Jan. 23, 1992, apparently by Dr. Marian Rippy, a lab pathologist and close friend of Zack’s, according to a report filed by a security guard.

Of course, there were other female scientists at USAMRIID who Don Foster may have been referring to. One is Patricia Fellows, a scientist who provided evidence that placed Bruce Ivins at the scene of the crime and who worked on anthrax with David Franz at the Southern Research Institute.

The Well-Paid Patsy

Once a “person of interest” in the FBI’s anthrax investigation, Steven Hatfill has since carefully controlled his reputation through a series of lawsuits targeting the government, news outlets, journalists and bloggers, including Don Foster, who wrote the 2003 article, “The Message in the Anthrax,” for Vanity Fair, and Luigi Warren, author of the Hatfill Deception blog.

In 2008, the Justice Department settled a lawsuit Hatfill brought under the Privacy Act accusing F.B.I. agents and Justice Department officials of leaking information about him to the news media. The government agreed to pay him $2.825 million in cash and an annuity of $150,000 a year for 20 years.

Hatfill worked at USAMRIID from 1997 to 1999, overlapping with the years Franz was in command.

In the years immediately preceding the anthrax attacks, Hatfill and Franz were each working on government anthrax projects with private contractors. As the Baltimore Sun reported:

Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, the former Fort Detrick biodefense researcher … commissioned a 1999 study that described a fictional terrorist attack in which an envelope containing weapons-grade anthrax is opened in an office.

The study, written by a veteran of the old U.S. bioweapons program, was submitted to Hatfill and a colleague at Science Applications International Corp., the McLean, Va., defense contractor where he then worked.

It discusses the danger of anthrax spores spreading through the air and the requirements for decontamination after various kinds of attacks. The author, William C. Patrick III, describes placing 2.5 grams of Bacillus globigii, an anthrax simulant, in a standard business envelope – slightly more than the estimated amount of anthrax in each of the letters that killed five people last fall.

During the same period, Franz was at the Southern Research Institute (SRI) which was working on an anthrax project for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). SRI has received $640.3 million in government funding since 2001.

In 1999-2001, DARPA contracted with SRI and other firms for microencapsulated anthrax. In their 2012 article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense, “Evidence for the Source of the 2001 Attack Anthrax,” Martin E. Hugh-Jones, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and Stuart Jacobsen link the forensic evidence from the attack anthrax to the microencapsulation techniques developed by the DARPA contractors. The significance was that microencapsulation would explain the silicon in the attack anthrax. Furthermore, there were no spores containing silicon in the anthrax handled by Bruce Ivins.

Eventually, the facts established that the attack anthrax was microencapsulated with a silicon coating, but, in the fall of 2002, the FBI reported to Congress that there was “no additive” in the Senate anthrax at all. The Bureau based this on the word of Ken Alibek who said he examined electron micrographs of the anthrax spores sent to Senator Daschle and saw no silica. Was he blinded by fear of self-incrimination?

Alibek is the Russian bioweapons scientist recruited to work for the United States who wrote the book Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World–Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It.

As his Wikipedia page states, “Perhaps his signal accomplishment was the creation of a new ‘battle strain’ of anthrax, known as ‘Strain 836,’ later described by the Los Angeles Times as ‘the most virulent and vicious strain of anthrax known to man.’”

It may be even more significant that he was one of the scientists who filed a patent on the silicon microencapsulation technology in 2001 along with former USAMRIID commander Charles L. Bailey.

David Franz worked with Alibek and Bailey on the DARPA contract in 1999-2001. Their firm Advanced Biosystems was the prime contractor for the DARPA project, while Franz’s SRI was a subcontractor.

Alibek also worked with Franz at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Disaster Preparedness. A 2002 university press release quoted Franz saying, “My role in the center is really to bring people together. Biodefense is a fairly small community, and after spending 27 years in the military, I know almost everybody in the neighborhood.”

The Dead Patsy

It was only after USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins had died of a Tylenol overdose in 2008 that the FBI announced their conclusion that he was solely responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) 2011 review of the FBI’s scientific work on the case “conclude[d] that the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins.”

Not even David Franz believed that Bruce Ivins should have been singled out.

“I just have no reason to suspect him, and I still don’t,” Franz told NPR.

Nicholson Baker mentions Ivins’ motives in his COVID origins article, “The Lab-Leak Hypothesis”:

Bruce Ivins, an eccentric, suicidal laboratory scientist from Ohio who worked in vaccine development at Fort Detrick, allegedly wanted to boost the fear level so as to persuade the government to buy more of the patented, genetically engineered anthrax VaxGen vaccine, of which he was a co-inventor. (See David Willman’s fascinating biography of Ivins, Mirage Man.) Fauci’s staff at NIH funded Ivins’s vaccine laboratory and gave $100 million to VaxGen to accelerate vaccine production. (The NIH’s $878 million contract with VaxGen, however, was quietly canceled in 2006; Ivins, who was never charged, killed himself in 2008.)

That Ivins was the lone wolf of the anthrax attacks strains credulity, but the idea that biological attacks on U.S. citizens and Senators could have been launched from U.S. military labs―”to persuade the government to buy more of the patented, genetically engineered … vaccine” seems worth considering, as does another motive: to increase budgets for biodefense.

“I think a lot of good has come from it,” Franz said of the 2001 anthrax attack to ABC News in 2002. “From a biological or a medical standpoint, we’ve now five people who have died, but we’ve put about $6 billion in our [2003] budget into defending against bioterrorism.”

Riding the wave of the fear generated from the 2001 anthrax attacks launched from the lab he commanded, Franz led the building of the Biodefense Industrial Complex that may be the source of today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Moving seamlessly from the anthrax research contracts that should have made Franz a prime suspect in the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation, he oversaw the construction of the U.S. global network of military and civilian high security biodefense labs.

While vice president of the Southern Research Institute’s Chemical and Biological Defense Division, Franz became deputy director of the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (home to one of SRI’s biolabs).

Staying on in the role of deputy director of the Center for Emergency Care Preparedness at UAB, Franz joined the Kansas State University-affiliated Midwest Research Institute (now MRI Global), to act as Chief Biological Scientist. A university press release describes his responsibilities as developing “business activities in the areas of biodefense education and preparation, nonproliferation, cooperative threat reduction and biosafety. He introduces scientists and staff at KSU and MRI to potential collaborative opportunities nationally and internationally.”

Simultaneously, he became Director of the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center at Kansas State University.

Thanks to Franz’s “business development” expertise, K-State is now the site of the new BSL-4 National Bio- and Agro-Defense Laboratory, and, USAMRIID will soon open the world’s largest high-containment research lab.

Today, in addition to serving as a Science and Policy Advisor to EcoHealth Alliance (a role he shares with fellow Gain-of-Function Hall of Shame inductee Scott Dowell of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Franz is a Principal at SBD Global, a business development consulting firm that specializes in helping corporations land federal contracts with “the world’s most opaque and hard-to-navigate” national security agencies.

Dollar signs are in Franz’ eyes again, as Americans die of COVID-19. Capitalizing on the tragedy, he recently penned a plea for increased funding for the Ft. Detrick lab he once commanded.

While we would like to believe that, if COVID-19 was released from a lab, it happened accidentally, unlike the 2001 anthrax attacks, but with people like Franz advising Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance, an intentional release cannot be ruled out.

An investigation into every possibility is urgently needed.

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

Read more from our Gain of Function Hall of Shame.


Continue reading »


by AL KUTZIK, edited by Mitchel Cohen

About the Author

Dr. Alfred J. Kutzik (1923-1994) was until January 1992 chair of the national Jewish Commission of the Communist Party USA and associate editor of Jewish Affairs. Before that he had been director of the NY State CP’s Reference Center for Marxist Studies and People’s School for Marxist Studies.

From 1980 to 1984 Dr. Kutzik was on the faculty of Coppin State College in Baltimore where he taught social science including the sociology of ethnic groups. From 1974 to 1979 he was at the University of Maryland where he taught his specialty of social policy before being fired for ideological reasons. He had formerly taught social policy at the University of Pennsylvania where he originated the course, “Class, Ethnicity and Social Welfare,” which pioneered in dealing with European origin as well as Third World ethnic groups. Continue reading »



There have been three professional baseball players I’m aware of from my Gravesend/Bensonhurst (Brooklyn) neighborhood: The one-of-a-kind Dodgers’ pitcher Sandy Koufax (who’d refused to play on the Jewish holidays, and made us all proud although we didn’t really know why!), John Franco, and Joe Pepitone, who was the NY Yankees’ first baseman in the mid-1960s.

You can still see the license-plate with Koufax’s name on it, on a black Jaguar on the next block. (Sandy’s? Or maybe a supporter’s?)

May be an image of 1 person and standing

Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Joe Pepitone

The Mets’ great relief pitcher, John Franco, grew up a few buildings over in the Marlboro Projects, and I remember him and his dad, who was a sanitation worker, from when I was a kid. (I vaguely remember some tension with them over a bus trip my parents organized for kids in the Projects to Hershey Pennsylvania when I was a junior at Stuyvesant High School, but don’t have a clue any longer what it was about)

Pepitone was sort of a gangsta from Bensonhurst, beaten by his father, who went on to live the high life as a Yankee in the mid 60s. He went to High school in Park Slope, before it was gentrified. When I lived there in 1977 thru 1982 the Slope was still a dangerous Mecca for activists. Similar in some ways to Coney Island. Even by the late 1970s I’d the opportunity to watch a patron of a particular bar on 7th Avenue come stumbling out with a knife in his back and fall face down on the sidewalk right in front of me. Same as, sometimes, we’d come across bodies on the beach in Coney Island. (They don’t call it Gravesend for nuthin!)

Pepitone was involved in some shooting incidents — he was shot by a classmate while in High School in 1958 and was lucky to survive. He is quoted in a newspaper article about the incident: “The kid was one of those wild ones you read about. He found this rusty gun on the docks and brought it to school. We were just finishing out last class, in office machines, and I was getting my coat.

“I was so frightened, I backed right into the clothes closet. The next thing I knew he had pulled the trigger. I didn’t feel a thing. I looked at my stomach and saw a hole. There was no blood. That’s all I remembered until after the operation.” (“Lucky to Be a Yankee … Luckier to Be Alive,” Associated Press, New York World-Telegram and Sun, February 26, 1962.)

Pepitone was called up by the Yankees in 1962, and he became only the 2nd Yankee ever (the first being Joe Dimaggio) to hit two home runs in one inning, which was special for the rookie as it portended an exciting continuation of the NY Yankee legacy following the thrilling 1961 season. At the end of the year they traded Moose Skowron to the Dodgers to make a spot for Joe to play 1st base, and he got two hits off of fellow Brooklynite Sandy Koufax in the World Series (which the Yankees lost in 4 straight games)

Pepitone was real smooth defensively at first base picking throws out of the dirt — except for one infamous throw by Yankee 3rd baseman Clete Boyer in game 4 of that year’s World Series in LA. Pepitone lost the ball in the glare of the LA crowd’s white shirts, he said, and that cost the Yankees the game and, he felt, the Series. Joe said, “Boyer’s throw was perfect. It was right there. I just lost it in the crowd. All I could see was spots. The ball hit me on the right wrist, then went up my arm and bounced off my chest.” (New York Times, October 7, 1963.)

As a Yankee, Pepitone lived the high life. He was the first pro baseball player to bring a hair dryer into the locker room along with various wigs, and loaded up his Pan Am carry bag with hair accoutrements. Yup, Joe Pepitone. He’d graduated from high school gun issues and now studied bar brawls (following the path paved by Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin and Whitey Ford).

Unlike the great Mets’ pitcher Tom Seaver, who’d taken out full page anti-war ads in the New York papers, I do not know if Joe got involved in any of the political movements of the 60s, except to make use of some of the availability of drugs. In fact, Pepitone says he would get Mickey Mantle stoned on something besides alcohol, and after being traded to the Chicago Cubs Joe had this to say to Rolling Stone Magazine’s Dan Epstein in 2015:

“Oh, I loved it. The only year I hit .300 was there [in Chicago, 1971]. I started off going good, and the fans, I got crazy with them. The Bleacher Bums at the Cubs’ ballpark [Wrigley Field] they’d hit me in the back with a [bleeping] football during warm-ups, and I’d turn around and play catch with them. One time, someone hit me in the back with some foil, all wrapped up, and there’s like four joints in it. I went and stuck it in the ivy on the outfield wall, but I remembered where I put it. [Laughs] Once they saw me do that, the regular Bleacher Bums started throwing things at me every day; I’d get hit with a little packet, I’d look and there’s a gram of coke in there. I was like, “Holy [bleep]!” Right into the ivy with it! [Laughs] I’m telling you, I got speed, I got everything. Used to be I was always the first person at the ballpark, and the first one to leave; next thing you know, people are wondering why I’m hanging out at the ballpark so long. Leo [Durocher] goes, “You still here?” “Yeah, I gotta get a rubdown from the trainer!” Then I’d be out in center field with my shorts on, looking through the ivy to find my dope. [Laughs] I loved Chicago! With the [stuff] I was getting in center field, I woulda played for nothing!”

Jim Bouton, in his controversial book “Ball Four,” had a bit to say about Pepitone, like the others, but I think I’ll just leave it here.

And now he’s gone. Joe Pepitone — a great Brooklyn baseball name and colorful player– died on March 13 of this year (2023) at age 82 of a likely heart attack.

Joe exemplified the neighborhood, along with Sandy Koufax and John Franco — in very differet ways, personally, but baseball — ah, baseball! — was on every boy’s brain in the early and mid-60s, until the Civil Rights movement, the Kennedy assassination, and the War in Vietnam kicked it off the the frontal lobes. Can’t say I’m nostalgic for those times, but I do remember those World Series, and how after school every day we’d become our favorite players. I remember one 15-year-old sliding safely into 2nd base on the cement of Lafayette High School’s ball “field” (now covered by teachers’ cars). None of us could believe that he would actually slide on the cement! The idiot kid tore up his jeans as well as his leg, wearing Number 25 just like his loony local idol.

Seeya Joe. And thanks for the memories. Brooklyn to the end!


Carol Lipton wrote:

In 1990, I got to live out a dream I had as a 9 year old girl, to play softball. My dad was a huge Yankees fan, and I inherited it from him. He took me to Yankee Stadium once to see a double header with the Angels. I once bet him that I could hula hoop one entire game of the World Series, and I did – for over 2 1/2 hours.

Even though I was a diehard Yankees fan, my biggest childhood crush was on Sandy Koufax. He was it for me- tall, dark, handsome, Jewish and left-handed! I kept asking my mom when I would be old enough to marry Koufax.

The boys in the projects let me play stickball, but the Little League wouldn’t admit girls. My dad taught me how to throw and catch “like a boy”, and I usually got placed on boys’ sports teams in day camp. I inherited both my parents’ extremely good hand-eye coordination.

When I was 12, I first played softball in camp, usually outfield. I wasn’t a great hitter until 1979 when I met one of the greatest work partners I ever had, a guy named Al Konstants. We both went to Chicago together in May 1979 and had an amazing week in Des Plaines Illinois. Al and I joined the EPA Mobile Source softball team and he coached me to be a great hitter. As a leftie, I had an advantage — everything I did was the mirror-image of what righties did, which is why so many people hate lefties. My specialty was hitting a powerful line drive between third base and the pitcher, that no one was ever able to catch.

I had more RBI’s than anyone else on the team. I also became a great hitter myself. By the time I joined the New York Naturally team in 1990, I was batting .750 and had the highest RBI’s. But my favorite thing totally was diving into first base head first, and stealing second. They carried me off the field many times, and I just jumped back in.


Mitchel Cohen

Wow, Carol! My specialty was smacking the ball hard as a righthanded hitter into rightfield — yes! the mirror image of you lefties! — thanks to learning to poke the ball against the short rightfield fence of Lafayette H.S.’s cement school yard.

As I got older and stronger, I could whip heavier bats. At one infamous game at Stony Brook against Newsday, I was in my 16th day of an antiwar hunger strike with others in the Red Balloon Collective, assumed to be weakened (ha!) and just the opposite occurred. I smashed the ball into right-center wayyyy over the centerfielder’s head, but rounding 3rd I barely stumbled home and almost fainted. Yea, carried off the field a hero.

It’s amazing what we remember, eh? In my story “For What It’s Worth” I talk about my dad who once joined us kids at the triangle across from Lafayette (now a sort of park, Brooklyn version) who hit the softball over the left-center fence AND it continued over the elevated D train (at that time it was the B train) AND over the fence of the park across the street. What a shot! We all watched it amazed, even though I had to break the news to him that by our groundrules anything over the fence was an out!

We watched that ball sail with about as much awe as watching Pablo’s dad throw a spalding like out of a human cannon from the ground and up to the roof of our 16-story building in Marlboro. (I was never able to throw it higher than the 4th floor, and I tried every day for years!) Wow I forgot about Pablo and his dad until this very moment 60 years later!.

I left out the story of my brother Robert getting separated from us and lost at the Polo Grounds when he was 3. My dad and I finally found him in the Giants’ dugout with the players! How? I have no idea!

Carol Lipton

That’s a wonderful story, Mitch. It’s amazing how the relationship between our fathers in that generation, major league ball, and the heroic things they did in our neighborhoods now has such meaning, and so poignant now that they’re gone. Your father’s hit sounds truly awesome. I was always my team’s secret weapon, in neighborhood softball, punchball and intramural volleyball and basketball.

In 1979, was in several after-hours softball games in DC where we creamed the Solid Waste Division (do I need to suggest our team slogan, lol) and I drove in the most runs with my line drives down third base. It was so cool coming in to work the next morning and all the guys greeting me with “Hi, slugger”.

I have my dad to thank for teaching me how to play sports, and indirectly, all of my heroes: Sandy Koufax, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Joe Pepitone, and so many more. Baseball is a heroic sport and it gives people the chance to be heroes.

Jack Shalom

Here’s a little Sandy Koufax-related story that I experienced. About a decade ago, I retired from full time high school teaching, but from time to time, I would fill in as a substitute teacher. So one day, I was subbing at Lafayette High School. I had attended Midwood High School, so I had never been in the building before, though I had known friends who went to Lafayette. When I entered the building, I noticed that the doors to the large ground floor auditorium seemed to be pretty firmly tied open throughout school hours, presumably, I assumed, to make sure no students were hiding out in the auditorium during class hours.

i don’t know why, but for some reason I looked behind one of the tied doors, and saw that screwed into the wall, completely hidden by the door, was a very dusty and old plaque. I leaned in to read the worn letters and realized it was a bronze plaque honoring Sandy Koufax who, of course, had been a student there. I was amazed, because I didn’t know he was a Lafayette alumnus. So I turned, excited, to the young security guard a few feet from me and told him that, amazingly, there was a plaque honoring Sandy Koufax hidden behind the door.

He looked at me and said, “Who?”

And I realized that there was no use continuing that conversation…




Watch this first:















New words by Mitchel Cohen
to tune of Kodachrome by Paul Simon


When I look back at all the coke I snort in Ukraine
It’s a wonder I can breathe at all
And though the lack of milit’ry hardware is all bullshit
I can read the writing on the wall

Coke Ukraine
They give us those nice bright colors
Give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, o yeah
I got German tanks coming
Love to nuke Russian cities
So Biden don’t take my Ukraine coke away

If you took all the Ukraine girls when I was single
In all those ads in every click-bait lure
They’re not enough to match my sweet imagination
That seeks to prolong this wretched war

Coke Ukraine
They give us those nice bright colors
Give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, o yeah
I got new weapons coming
Love to nuke Russian cities
So Biden don’t take my Ukraine coke away

Biden don’t take my Ukraine Coke
CIA don’t take my Ukraine Coke
Biden don’t take my CokeUkraine away
Biden don’t take my Ukraine Coke
Hunter and me we snorted Coke
Biden don’t take my CokeUkraine away


January 15th marks the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929). The airwaves are filled with timid and at best nostalgic tributes to the great man. Except for WBAI and other non-commercial stations, only Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech — and even there but a tiny snippet of it — makes it onto the airwaves.

Martin Luther King, Jr., giving his speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

Nothing about Dr. King’s analysis in which he castigates the United States as being “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

Nothing about Dr. King’s brilliant and courageous insights into the social and economic calamities of capitalism and the congruence of the oppression of people in Vietnam with that of people of color in the United States.

And, nothing about what it really means to be “Non-Violent”. Dr. King castigates those who praised him and the Civil Rights movement for being non-violent in the face of white supremacists in the South but who condemned him for calling on his country to be non-violent in its dealings with the rest of the world.

“In international conflicts the truth is hard to come by  because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for our superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the Truth. Ye shall know the Truth, says Jesus, and the Truth shall set you free.

“Now I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam today because I agree with Dante that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

Ever hear any of that on mainstream media?

All of that placed — and continue to place — Dr. King at odds with many of his key advisers in the Civil Rights movement, and with the President of the United States — then … and now.

His life — and keep in mind that he was assassinated when he was just 39 years old! — is thus relegated more-or-less “safe,” for those in power.  The hallowed if troubling days happened back then, which (they say) no longer exist. And so, Dr. King’s complex analysis is distorted and rendered almost meaningless today (even though it applies so vividly to our society!), and offered in a sense as a paean to  “Isn’t America great? Look at how far we have come.” Who now hears the entirety of any of Dr. King’s speeches? What insights could this ancient man actually hold for us today, and for our own movements for freedom?

My answer is, “a great deal”. Yes, it’s about the need to pass once again legislation supporting voting rights and the rights of all people to vote. But much much more is needed, and a deeper understanding of the role of the United States in the world and its relation to both the liberal leadership of the then-civil rights leaders, the Democratic Party, as well as the Republican Party and the Slave-ocracy.

Listen here to Dr. King’s entire “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

We remember Dr. King, and his powerful thoughts, words, actions, internationalism, and leadership.



Mitchel Cohen (19) in 1968 at SUNY Stony Brook

Hi folks,

I’m having a rough time of it today as I remember the close friends and acquaintances who died this year and last. I was just wondering if anyone else is feeling that way too ….

I’m still in shock over many of folks, snatched away and disappeared from our lives.

I thought of Mark Rausher today, as I often have done — “Computer Mark” was a longtime friend, living in Sheepshead Bay and later in New Paltz. We’d typeset at The Nation together (where we met) in the early 1980s. When my computer crashed today, I instantly thought “Call Mark!”, my go-to guy in everything computer related, and time glitched, a breathless gasp when I realized he’d died on New Years Day this year.

Hard to catch my breath.

So I’ll just list here some others, mostly friends and comrades meaningful to me, and maybe some of them to you, along with a few famous people who’ve died since 2020. For me, there are personal stories that go with each of them (like somehow I ended up with my friend Saralee Hamilton (RIP Saralee) at Barbara Ehrenreich’s wedding at her house somewhere in the 80s). Hard to believe that I am actually older than were a number of those listed here, most of whom I knew personally ….

Annette Averette
Day Star Chou
Frank Carr
Kevin Zeese
Glen Ford
Seth Farber
Patricia Logan
Ricardo Alarcon
Doug Appel
Stanley Aronowitz
Mickey Aronson
Ed Asner
Marty Balin
Kathy Boudin
Bari Boone
Alan Canfora
Ernesto Cardenal
Bob Carpenter
Harold Channer
Therese Chorun
Ramsey Clark
Colia Clark
Fritzi Cohen
Cecil Corbin-Mark
Binny Ipcar Corell
David Crowe
Chandler Davis
Diane DiPrima
Bruce Dixon
Barbara Ehrenreich
Toby Emmer
Bob Fass
Anne Feeney
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Milton Fisk
Arly Fox-Daly
Carol Friedman Russell
Todd Gitlin
Barbara Goldberg
Dr. Seymour Goldstein
David Graeber
David Ray Griffin
Connie Hogarth
Wadiya Jamal
Jim Johnson
Danny Kalb
Paul Kantner
Chuck Kaufman
Charlotte Koons
Sheldon Krimsky
Michael Lardner
Faith Legier
Thomas Lord
Mort McKlosky
Gerald Meyer
Helena Miele (Earthmum)
Charlene Mitchell
Dr. Luc Montagnier
John Molyneux
John Moran
Bob Moses Parish
Marilyn Naparst
Leo Panitch
Dorothy Williams-Pereira*
Daryll Williams-Pereira*
Delores Perri
Jeff Perry
Cecile Pineda
Sidney Poitier
William Pleasant
Frank Polanski
Louis Proyect
Arpad Pusztai
Joan Rausnitz Heymont
Peter Roman
Betty Garman Robinson
Bill Ross
Bill Russell
Vic Sadot
Tom Seaver
Bernice Silver
Patrick Sky
Kent Smith
Ann Snitow
Meredith Tax
Tania Temkin
Peter Lamborn Wilson
Holly Yasui
Sally Zinman

*I just learned a few days ago of Dorothy and Daryll’s deaths last year. Former Manhattan Boro President Gale Brewer wrote a note regarding these Green activists saying that Bellevue hospital was negligent in their treatment! Need to learn more.

Still sinking in ….. Thanks for listening – CLICK HERE




by Mitchel Cohen

The following was written a decade-and-a-half before the outbreak of the SARS COV2 Covid-19 pandemic.

THE FIGHT FOR FREE, UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE is even more critical today than it was a decade ago when Hillary and Bill Clinton sacrificed it to the greed of the insurance companies and HMOs. Yes, health care must be made a right, not a privilege. But we would be remiss if we were to limit our platform to the fight to equalize access to health care delivery in the United States without also addressing the quality of that care, and what is causing so many people to be sick to begin with.

Public hospitals are reeling from the whip of privati­za­tion, and we must of course stay the hand that wields the whip; but, in reality, hospitals are little more than assem­bly-line butcher shops in which drugs and invasive surgi­cal procedures are prescribed as a matter of course by al­leged experts schooled only in the reductionist constructs of western industrial medicine — helpful in acute emergen­cies, but devastating in terms of general public health.

As a result,

  • hysterectomies and episiotomies are unnecessarily carving up women at rates three or four times higher than in Europe.

  • infant mortality in the U.S. is worse than in any industrialized country in the world.

  • frontal lobotomies and Electro-Shock Therapy for treating depression and other ailments are making a comeback.

  • chemotherapy and radiation remain the preferred treatment for cancer despite showing no percentage increase in cancer cures for forty years.

  • twenty-one percent of Black American children have harmful quantities of lead in their blood, compared with 8.9 percent of all U.S. children, according to The NY Times (Feb. 7, 1996).

  • and, studies show what AIDS activists have long known — that early intervention with AZT, which is extremely toxic, has no beneficial, and quite likely severe deleterious effects that further compromise the immune system and cause unnecessary deaths.

On the other hand, acupuncture clinics have among the highest success rates in treating people for various drug ad­dictions (including tobacco and heroin), as well as in safely an­aesthetizing patients without the use of drugs. And all sorts of non-invasive herbal and botanical treat­ments offer suc­cessful, natural and cheap remedies to many condi­tions.

Yet none of the proposed national health legislation — not even the much needed “single payer” proposals (the Canadian model) — covers any of them.

Acupuncture, air and water filtration, a toxic-free envi­ron­ment, herbal, botanical and homeopathic remedies, free abortion and contraception on demand (including con­doms), midwifery and homebirth, organically-based foods and nutrient supplementation, chiropractic, Ibogaine (which cures heroin addiction), medical marijuana, clean need­le exchanges, powerful alternative cancer treatments, yoga and stress reduction, and massive non-toxic, holistic treatments for AIDS and multiple chemical sensitivities all are driven to the margins of acceptability. Most alternative therapies are viciously opposed by drug companies (which see them as a potential threat to their profits), the Ameri­can Medical Association and their hip-pocket congres­sion­al representatives.

All of the legislation that has come before Congress — including single payer — would further entrench today’s medical orthodoxy and suppress alternative programs and im­mune-boosting, non-invasive therapies. The Food and Drug Administration’s raids and arrests of legitimate al­ter­na­tive medicine providers and outlets, and its ongoing at­tempts to make vitamins and other nutrient supplements av­ail­able only by prescription, are the latest attacks on green medicine on behalf of the established orthodoxy.

Welcome to capitalism’s Brave New World Order: As­sem­bly line health care, where we shall be medicated, bio-genetically altered, pesticided, toxicated and guinea-pigged by the experts, all duly recorded in computer chips now being experimentally implanted under the skin of hu­man beings, along with all other information about our lives deemed relevant by the powers that be — our arrest records, travel logs, and so forth — to be accessed at the whim of police or medical officials controlling a scanning device.

Sedition or Sedation?

The most widespread successes in reducing disease earlier in this century were accomplished not by medical intervention but primarily by providing access to decent sanitation, clean water and healthy food. Only when the acute need arose did the administration of antibiotics make a difference.

Despite — and maybe because of — the huge levels of antibiotics used in the U.S. today (not only for medication in people but, especially, in animal feed), diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia are making a comeback. Residents of poor areas which have suffered inordinate government cutbacks in sanitation and social services, and prisoners are the most susceptible. Infections such as en­ceph­alitis and influenza have skyrocketed in the general population for periods of a few months at a time im­me­di­ately following nuclear bomb tests and mass spraying of pesticides; high rates of leukemia and thyroid disease are the norm in the proximity of regularly-functioning nuclear power plants, and afflict great numbers of people for hun­dreds of miles following accidents like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima.*

Hunger and malnutrition in children, lead poisoning, AIDS, cancer, chronic fatigue, breast cancer, multiple scle­­rosis, multiple chemical sensitivities, and occupational diseases like brown lung are rampant. These diseases are all systemic in origin, caused by intensive industrial pro­duc­tion’s ravaging of the environment and, cons­equently, our immune systems. Our bodies are increasingly sus­cep­ti­ble to diseases that in previous times it would have been a snap to fight off. Increasingly, we are forced to choose between the capitalist system and the immune system.

The alarming situation in the U.S. cries out for a radical anti-reductionist approach to what it means to be healthy and a no-holds-barred attack on everything destroying our health today. We must immediately:

  • put an end to the poisoning of our food, air, water.

  • shut down all nuclear power plants and urban waste incinerators.

  • force companies to do massive environmental clean-ups, especially in high-lead, mercury, PCBs and asbestos areas.

  • relocate sewage treatment facilities out of the inner cities.

  • end all toxic dumping, both at home and abroad. Clean up the primarily Black, Latino, American Indian and working class areas that receive the brunt of U.S.-generated industrial wastes.

  • in populated areas, shut down all factories that generate toxic wastes, and severely regulate them elsewhere.

  • ban most pesticides, herbicides, additives, non-organic fertilizer and antibiotics in agriculture and in animal feed.

  • nip Bovine Growth Hormone in the bud, and throw its criminal manufacturers in prison.

  • shut down all genetic engineering facilities.

  • end cash-crop agriculture around the world. This has destroyed people’s self-sufficiency and nutritional basis, in exchange for creating centralized, privatized ownership of land by giant multinational corporations, strip-mining the land to produce cash-crops for ex-port. Tens of millions of children starve to death each year, as a result.

  • support massive land redistribution  (in the U.S. as well as elsewhere) and efforts to develop sustainable organic agriculture, which would give rise to new and more healthy patterns of consumption as well as production. And, and this is added today,

  • end all so-called “Gain-of-Function” experimentation, and shut down all U.S.-funded biowarfare labs around the world.

Subvert the Dominant Paradigm

The deaths of people who have Acquired Im­mun­o­deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) continue to wrack our communities. We are among the many activists who continue to demand the federal government vastly increase spending on AIDS research and treatment, in addition to increasing funding to fight cancers, heart dis­ease, and so forth.

But we are also concerned about how this research is be­ing done, and its narrow focus on so-called “genetic predispositions” to particular diseases. The first and fore­most avenue of research and treatment for all diseases is to repair the toxicity of the polluted environment.

Strangely, too many of those who routinely criticize governmental economic and foreign policies fail to chal­lenge capitalism’s scientific policies as well, which are sim­­ilarly awash in hidden assumptions and drenched in ide­ology. Those assumptions guide the research into which we demand public funds be allocated. Much of the actual scientific understanding (or lack thereof) of the AIDS, cancer and heart disease epidemics is severely lim­i­ted or even skewed by the hidden ways in which cap­i­tal­ist ideology shapes researchers’ approach to disease.

As Stephen Jay Gould wrote more than two decades ago in “Ever Since Darwin”:

“Science is no inexorable march to truth, medi­a­ted by the collection of objective information and the destruction of ancient superstition. Sci­en­tists, as ordinary human beings, un­con­scious­ly reflect in their theories the social and political constraints of their times. As privileged mem­bers of society, more often than not they end up defending existing social arrangements as bio­lo­gic­ally foreordained.”

Many sacred cows are being toppled these days; yet Big Science, somehow, has managed to appear above it all. Greens and other progressives can no longer afford to relinquish the field of science and scientific research to the obviously self-interested assertions of the American Medi­cal Association, the pharmaceutical industry, the tobacco in­dustry and the federal government.

Let us look anew at some of those unasked as­sump­tions in light of our growing understanding of how capitalism operates:

  • Is fluoridation of water beneficial for our health, now that we know from Congressional testimony that that program was developed as a means for the aluminum industry to dispose of its toxic wastes in the late 1940s?

  • Are nuclear power plants and genetic-engineering factories necessary and desirable, now that we have seen the massive evidence proving the former’s deva­stating effects on our immune system and the latter’s con­centration on genetically increasing the tolerance of crops for pesticides, the better to poison us?

  • Should we give blanket endorsement to the govern­ment’s push to vaccinate all children, now that — at least for some vaccines like measles, whooping cough and chicken pox — epidemiological statistics call into question the pharmaceutical manufacturers’ claims about their safety and efficacy, and for others the link to autism, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and other serious health conditions in children? If it were left to the AMA we’d never even know of scientific studies that disprove or at least seriously contradict claims for vaccination and mass dispensation of antibiotics.

Clearly, the magic bullet approach to medicine — which tries to artificially stimulate the immune system into zapping a germ causing a disease (and, along with it, much of the body’s other microorganisms which it needs to function properly) — is not applicable to many of the diseases we face today which break down the overall im­mune system. Misuse of yesterday’s advances has helped bring on today’s nightmares. The astronomical quantities of antibiotics fed and injected into animals grown and slaughtered for mass-consumption, along with mandatory vac­cinations in humans, has helped generate resistant strains of germs and, at the same time, may have so com­promised our immune systems over a long period that we are suddenly susceptible to diseases that people in prior generations had been able to ward off.

Many studies that document that hypothesis are, like the immune system they discuss, systematically suppressed; they threaten the profits of the giant drug companies. Gen­etic research is too lucrative, both monetarily and ideo­lo­gically, for capitalism to fund and promote holistic ap­proaches to health care. Bovine Growth Hormone, a dan­ger­ous genetically-engineered drug injected into cows, increases the amount of other hormones in drinking milk and dairy products by 1,000 percent. Yet it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration with scant testing under pressure from the Monsanto corporation which owns the patent, and the milk is now sold on the market without even requiring so much as a label. Companies, such as Ben & Jerry’s, which refuse to use BGH milk and label their products to that effect, have been sued by Mon­santo and pressured by the federal government to remove their labels.

More and more, parents are being blamed for their child­ren’s diseases. (They’ve passed along bad genes, we’re told.) Genetic screening tests are not used to correct dan­gerous conditions on-the-job but to fire workers who are said to be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses that could be brought on by the chemicals involved in production. Many companies now try to ascertain a work­er’s genetic suitability for work in a cancer-causing en­vi­ron­ment instead of cleaning up the workplace to avoid ex­posing any  workers to cadmium and other carcinogens.

It has been more than 18 years since DuPont began screen­ing workers for an alleged genetic predisposition to sickle-cell anemia. The result? An increase in the number of unemployed Black DuPont workers, fired from jobs that, the company claimed, might bring on the disease, based solely on their inherited genetic characteristics. In­crea­singly, we’re taught that it’s our own fault, as the system tries to elude responsibility for its environmental devastation and poisoning of the earth and tries to get us to blame the victim — in this case, ourselves.

Creating a New Scientific Method

Even the Science section of The NY Times has finally begun to challenge some of the reductionist meth­od­ology of western medicine and look again at correlative relationships that had been incorrectly certified as causal ones. On December 24, 1991, a front page article by Natalie Angier, drawing on work which had been printed in a recent issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology by Dr. George C. Williams, an evolutionary biologist at SUNY Stony Brook, and Dr. Randolph M. Nesse, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, recounts new calls for physicians to heed the wisdom of Darwin, and to take the principles of evolution and natural selection into account as they seek to cure their patients. Just because a fever occurs when a person is sick, the researchers point out, doesn’t mean that the fever is necessarily a negative symptom of the disease. Just the opposite. Biologists argue that clin­i­cians often ignore the fundamental concepts of ev­o­lu­tion, as when they treat a fever with aspirin, even though fever is a highly effective method that mammals have evolved for combating invasive bacteria.

In fact, The Times continues, a moderate fever is among the most impressive mechanisms in the body’s defense repertory. Not only does a higher temperature stimulate the activity of the body’s warrior white blood cells, al­low­ing them to race to the site of an infection more rapidly and consume microbes more readily; a fever also inhibits the growth of many strains of interloping bacteria, which, unlike white blood cells, become torpid in the heat and be­gin to die off. According to one researcher, Dr. Matthew Kluger (University of Michigan), there have been no comprehensive studies exploring the possibility that asp­i­rin, when used effectively to reduce fevers, may prolong a patient’s illness as a result.

Correlations are often mistaken for causes, in health care as much as in politics. We need to challenge assump­tions that lead us to err in that manner. Angier explains:

“Dar­winists argue, for example, that the wretched morning sickness familiar to pregnant women is not an unfortunate hormonal side effect of child­bearing, as had long been be­lieved, but the best pos­sible thing that can happen to a woman and her baby. … Dr. Margie Profet of the Uni­ver­sity of California at Berk­eley, suggests that morning sick­­ness has great adaptive value, and that it ev­olved to protect the growing embryo against any toxins in the mother’s diet. She points out that most women suffer from nausea and vom­it­ing during the first trimester of pregnancy, which is exactly when the embryo’s organs are forming and hence when the developing infant is most vulnerable to even trace poisons in the diet.

‘Pregnancy sickness is an adaptation that evolved to protect the embryo against toxins that cause malformations or abortions,’ she said. `Toxins that are easy for an adult to handle can be dangerous for an early embryo.’

In another instance, Darwinists say that when a patient with an infectious illness suffers a seem­ingly dangerous dip in iron levels, a symptom some doctors find alarming and frantically try to treat, the patient’s body may in fact be working at peak performance to recover. … The [iron dip] response is not an aberration, but rather another potent defense against microbial foes. Scientists have learned that bacteria, fungi and parasites need iron to survive and divide, so that the body labors to keep the pre­cious metal from them. After infection, a chain of enzymatic reactions sops up most of the iron from the bloodstream and sequesters it in the liver, beyond the grasp of the bacteria, mak­ing it very difficult for most pathogens to sur­vive. There it remains until the infection is through.

And when the body’s iron-withholding re­sponse is combined with a fever, reports Dr. Eugene D. Weinberg, a microbiologist at Indi­ana University in Bloomington, the tactic be­comes a sort of one-two punch: an elevated tem­per­ature blocks a microbe’s ability to snatch away iron packets from the host enzymes that are ferrying the nutrient to the liver.

Clearly, correlations  between disease and fever, mic­robes and iron-level dips, and estrogen levels in pregnant women and morning sickness can no longer be translated into simplistic cause and effect thinking. Fever is not a symptom of a bacterial disease, but one way the body responds to infection to restore its health; low iron levels during some illnesses should not be met with iron sup­ple­ments, for that would compromise a natural body defense mechanism to the disease.

Take sickle-cell anemia, for example: Although the ex­act molecular basis for that disease has been known for more than 30 years, scientists still don’t understand why people afflicted with the condition became seriously ill as young children, while others are affected much later and to a far less serious degree. Carrying the sickle-cell gene from both parents produces an increased possibility of dev­eloping sickle-cell anemia at some point. But — and here’s an interesting and unpredicted fact — carrying the gene for sickle-cell anemia from just one parent gen­er­ates a natural resistance to malaria — a totally different disease!

It is impossible to predict the impact of isolated nu­tri­ents or genetic material on the development of the entire organism, for at each level of complexity and organization new relationships and interactions emerge that do not exist at more elemental levels. Any understanding of an indi­vid­u­al’s relationship to the ecosystem in which they live, and at the same time to the ecosystem within each of us, re­quires new ways of seeing that carry us beyond the iso­la­ted cause and effect linearity to which we are ac­cus­tomed and upon which capitalist science is based.

Cause and effect is limited to events that take place with­in one particular level of organization (and even there only in part). The implications of events upon a higher or low­er level of organization cannot be deciphered through lin­ear cause and effect reasoning any more than, according to the physicist Werner Heisenberg, one can predict both the location and the momentum of a single electron at any moment, however rational it might seem that we be able to do so. “Natural science,” Heisenberg wrote, “does not simply describe or explain nature. It is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves; it describes nature as ex­posed to our method of questioning.”

Such a dialectical (or holistic) approach to science and health care is essential to understanding our own bodies in the context of industrial capitalism’s assault upon them, as we strive to become our own experts. However, at an ever-increasing rate, medical researchers have been narrowing their focus to the genetic level, avoiding holistic or whole-system analyses. The implication of doing so, politically, is to mislead the public about the actual causes of disease, let the system off the hook and turn research itself into a factory-like industry, raking in big bucks for high-tech drug companies and university researchers funded by them.

On the other hand, large grassroots movements have emerged over the last two decades challenging the in­dus­trial medical model and those who profit from it. They have begun to develop new frameworks for understanding the non-predictive impact of localized, level-specific ev­ents on more complex as well as on more elemental levels of organization — the beginnings of a truly non-capitalist, dialectical scientific methodology that integrates the eco­lo­gical dimension outside the body with the health of the individual human being and what goes on inside of us.

Underground buyers’ clubs like DAAIR (Direct AIDS Alternative Information Resources) in New York City, run by people with AIDS, and the network of underground medical marijuana clubs; the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP); the National Black Women’s Health Project; women’s self-help clinics; affinity groups that fight against Bovine Growth Hormone; the Safe Foods Campaign; the No Spray Coalition’s and breast cancer co­al­ition’s fight against the mass and indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides, and groups that advocate nutritional supplementation are creating the basis for a people’s health care from the bottom up. And they all are under at­tack by the government (Democrats as well as Re­pub­li­cans), the American Medical Associ­a­tion, the to­bac­co in­dus­try and the giant pharmaceutical companies. With the as­sistance and involvement of con­scious activists like our­selves, their impact on the devel­op­ment of new models for maintaining health and treating illness will be profound.

People have a right to their own forms of health care free from government repression. Greens and other activ­ists must critique the limitations and underlying philoso­phy of capitalist medicine; we must include in our pro­grams health care options being created by people strug­gling against what the system has done to us; and, we must demand that THESE, and not industrial science’s  reduc­tion­­ist models, be publicly funded.

Greens need to begin critiquing not only the unfair and unequal application of technology, healthcare and science, but the science itself; we all must become our own experts, and learn from other traditions than that offered by capitalism’s industrial medical model.

By involving ourselves in this effort from-the-bottom-up as manifest in these excellent local projects, our cri­tique of capitalist science and its underlying reductionist philosophy helps a vibrant, conscious working class em­erge, one that can begin conceiving of itself as the bearer of a healthy and truly free society.

* I felt compelled to add Fukushima here which did not occur until 2011; and added the demand to end Gain-of-Function experimentation in biowarfare labs, pretty much the only changes I made to this essay.

Anti-copyright. Not-for-profit groups may reprint, so long as proper credit is given.

Just Found picture of my Dad (Abe Cohen), whose 98 birthday would be today! Here he is in 1951.


Dad (Abe Cohen) was 27 here in 1951, a few years back from serving in the US Marine Corps in the South Pacific. That’s Mitchel Cohen at 2 years old. Picture in Sheepshead Bay. Dad was 55 when he died in 1980. His 98 birthday would be on December 5th. Happy Birthday, Dad!!!!

from The Permanent Carnival

When my father died
They tied his wrists and ankles
Lifted his body

And then we were young
He swings me in Brighton Beach
Sky holds no limits

Leafy fingers of
Elm, Maple and Sycamore
Sweep my horizons

Stretch out for me. He
Runs me on bicycle, lets
Go, this world is mine

His body is brown
Fairer than I remembered
And the tattoo of

The hula dancer
Needled into his right arm
In the Philippines

World War 2 Marine
Has finally stopped twitching.
Goodbye, my hero.



The following was written by Mitchel Cohen in 2012 and printed in his book, What Is Direct Action? Lessons from (and to) Occupy Wall Street (intro by Prof. Richard Wolff)

Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn, looking northwest towards the Verrazano Bridge and Staten Island. October 29, 2012. Todd Maisel, New York Daily News

November, 2012   Ten Years ago

Southern Brooklyn ‘Sandy’ Diary
by Mitchel Cohen

I live on the 7th floor of a 160-household apartment building on the southern edge of Bensonhurst, right next to (but not included in) the mandatory Evacuation Zone. There is a large park between my building and Gravesend Bay. SuperStorm Sandy’s winds whipped the Bay into a frenzy; the waters smashed repeatedly into the pilings, esplanade, boat pier just across the Belt Parkway from my apartment.

The parkway had eerily emptied of traffic hours earlier. Suddenly, along with Coney Island, Brighton and Manhattan Beaches, it’s under water and mostly dark. Emmons Ave. in Sheepshead Bay was reported to have been flooded by a wave 10-feet high, carrying away a number of cars as well as pouring into houses and local restaurants.

The waters came within 5 feet of my building, flooded the parking lot when the sewers on Cropsey Avenue backed up with scathingly polluted water … and then stopped!

One woman in the next building screamed as she observed bodies floating down Cropsey Avenue. Fortunately, the “bodies” turned out to be mannequins freed as the storm washed through Kohl’s department store jutting out on pilings into Gravesend Bay at the end of Bay Parkway.

Dreier-Offerman / Calvert Vaux park across the highway would have absorbed much of the water from the bay had New York City, in its infinite wisdom, left the area wild and not flattened the hills and replaced the natural soil and trees with artificial turf a year ago. The water rolled over the synthetic turf like marbles of mercury on Teflon without being absorbed and came cascading across the Belt Parkway, even though there was hardly any rain with this storm.

As I walked the next day in Brighton Beach, there were long lines at the public pay telephones — if you could find one! My favorite scene: Into the mountain of sand that the storm deposited on the Coney Island Boardwalk, someone carved a heart with the name ‘Sandy’ in the center. ‘I Heart Sandy!’ Made me smile. Brooklynites maintain their sarcasm at all costs.

Four Days Later
Ida Sanoff had been trapped in her apartment in Brighton Beach. Like so many others, she and her husband Jeff have difficulty trudging the 8 flights of pitch black hallways and stairs a few times a day. ‘We have no water and our apartment is freezing. Both of our cars have been totaled, so getting around is next to impossible. Many people in our building have no flashlights & are feeling their way up & down the stairs in the dark. 311 is the biggest joke of all  either the line is busy & you can’t get through, or you finally do get through & you wait & wait & wait & no one ever picks up.

‘On Brighton Beach Ave., the mud line is half way up the facade of the stores. The building around the corner from me started pumping water out of their basement today.

‘On top of everything else, we had to put our almost 22 year old cat down today. Our truck driver took us in his car. We could not get out to her regular vet, the cat specialist in Queens so we went to the emergency vet on Flatbush Ave. & Ave. R. They had no power either and were functioning on an emergency generator. We met people from Gerritsen Beach who had only the clothes on their back, their home had been flooded & they lost everything.’

The Red Cross? FEMA? Nowhere to be found.

I was about to walk the 2′ miles to Brighton with a bag of groceries for Ida when I finally hear from her. She writes:

omg omg omg

Finally got to go up on the Boardwalk today & walk around my block. Looks like half of Breezy is on my beach. Chairs, tables, wooden steps, huge sections of piers, a blue rowboat stenciled RPYC or BPYC. can’t tell. All sorts of metal, a refrigerator. Toys. A rocking chair facing the shoreline.

Warbasse houses will not have power for weeks. Coney Island Creek which is loaded with hideous sediments, including coal tars, flooded it. Loads of seniors 20+ floors up in the cold & dark & with no water.

Two buildings of the Oceana/Millennium luxury condos at Coney Island Ave. have had major damage to their mechanicals and have been evacuated.

Behind my building, there was a lovely older co-op building. Lobby was a lovingly preserved time capsule of high-end design, circa 1960. Several steps up to the lobby so I thought they’d be OK. Went in with my friend who lives there. Everything had already been ripped out because it was soaked, walls, floors, everything. The high water mark was over my head. My friend said that on the first floor, people barely escaped the rising water in their apartments. In the condo building next door which is adjacent to the Boardwalk, the cars on the first floor garage level are buried several feet in sand. The windows on the first floor blew out & the whole place flooded. Sand piles 6 feet high on Ocean Parkway, a BobCat trying to at least clear the sidewalk. Mountains of sand on sidewalks that should be put back onto the beach & no way or no one to do it. Anyone have some dump trucks?

Several trees down in Seaside Park. Both synagogues on Sea Breeze Ave have several feet of sand in their lobbies.

Several stores open on Brighton Beach Ave. but no one is clear on whether or not the food they are selling is fresh, has defrosted or was soaked by flood waters. My friend bought some anyway. Rocco’s pizza being made by the light of a generator. I was so hungry, but again, not sure if the food had been compromised. Rocco’s deli said that they will get fresh cold cuts & cheese tomorrow. Hope they don’t sell out by the time I get there.

People waiting on lines for food.

The handball players shoveled the courts at West 5th and are having a grand time!

No one, but no one, here has a car. Rumor is that insurance companies are not even sending adjusters, they are just assuming that the cars are totaled. Need to see a doctor for the stitches in my finger & no way to get to one. Some folks I know nearby have cars, but don’t have gas. My truck driver got on a gas line in East NY at 4:30 AM & was told that gas was on the way. He gave up around 5 PM & found a station nearby that has gas and he is on the line & praying they don’t run out.

No subway service until Kings Hwy. Buses are packed & don’t stop. No way to get to Waldbaum’s on Ocean Ave & Voorhies which reportedly has reopened.

My block is ‘No Standing Fire Zone’ & everyone is parked here with no one to give tickets. If there is a fire we will fry. Tried calling 311  WHAT A JOKE!!!!!

But a few blocks north of here, everything is perfectly normal. People can’t understand why we are so upset.

Copenhagen, Denmark, 2009.











Election Day & after
A few days ago I attended a very moving and huge memorial service in Park Slope for Jessie Streich-Kest, the young animal rights and ACORN activist who was killed along with her friend Jacob Vogelman by a falling tree, as they walked outside with her dog Max.

I’m heading down to Coney Island after I vote to see what more I can do to help. So many people whose homes, boats, and lives are in ruins. This is a very great tragedy, just as it has been for decades for poorer people, homeless or near-homeless. Many large houses in the gated community of Sea Gate, on Coney’s tip, are gone. Can they continue to work together, these wealthy and these poor, in this great spirit of cooperation that sweeps over New York and everywhere else in responding to tragedy?

I talk to a man re-charging his cellphone on a generator set up on the edge of the Coney Island projects. He is wondering about all the birds  where do they go? Did they survive the vicious winds? He’s brought some nuts and crumbs for the birds, but  I hadn’t noticed this until he mentioned it — like the Red Cross and FEMA, there are few birds to be seen. He’s extremely concerned. They’ve disappeared!

I ask an electrician working on replacing equipment in the projects why is it that the private apartment building right next door had power restored a week ago? He just looks at me quizically, maybe bemused, more likely ‘is this guy (me) really so clueless?,’ and says: ‘If you have to ask, you already know the answer.’

Howard Brandstein — one of those who certainly knows that answer and is trying to do something about it — reports from the Sixth Street Community Center on the Lower East Side (built, over the decades, in the shell of a century-old abandoned synagogue that still retains some of the beautiful marble tablets inside), that they had hundreds of volunteers over the weekend making sandwiches and distributing them door-to-door in nearby public housing projects. The basement had been flooded, but Citlalic Jeffers, the young Coordinator of the Community Supported Agriculture project that runs out of the Center, is organizing emergency daily food distributions for the neighborhood in conjunction with Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES).

Everywhere, people are trying to help each other. Occupy Wall Street is doing a tremendous amount. They’ve morphed into ‘Occupy Sandy’; the OWS network of committed organizers kicked into high gear immediately, which says a great deal not only about who really gives a shit but about the benefits of lateral organizing. One friend from Occupy lived in Rockaway and her house was burned to the ground. I often see her collecting supplies to distribute. Beauty is everywhere amidst tragedy. Despite the Breezy Point section of Rockaway’s long history of exclusionary and racist housing and access policies, volunteers are nevertheless rallying to its assistance, demonstrating the ability of the human spirit to sweep aside prejudices in times of social crisis, at least temporarily. Perhaps not surprisingly, none of the media have discussed the nature and history of Breezy Point, as Mark Rausher points out:

“As a child, I grew up on the Southern shore of Brooklyn, within sight of the Rockaway Peninsula which juts into the Atlantic Ocean from Jamaica Bay. I frequently took a ferry from Sheepshead Bay to Rockaway, driving my mother crazy with my desire to ride on the water and breathe the sea air. Growing up, I heard about Breezy Point, an early gated community on Rockaway which for decades had discriminated against Jews, Blacks, Italians, Hispanics, Asians and other groups. Unlike the ‘uber-rich gated communities we hear so much about, this was an Irish enclave of small beachfront cottages, private and self-contained with a volunteer fire department and a large private security force, paying limited property taxes and not subject to anti-discrimination laws.

The devastating fires which consumed over 100 of these homes during Hurricane Sandy’s brief visit, in conjunction with a tornado that touched down there earlier this year, seem to me to be classic examples of karmic retribution; it also highlights the hypocrisy which surrounds our new economic reality — despite the fact that Breezy Point residents paid practically no taxes and flouted local laws (and morality), when the fires started, city, state and Federal funds were used to bring first responders to Breezy Point, to fight the fires and try to assist residents who had failed to honor the mandatory evacuation order. These residents, mostly middle-class, took advantage of America’s fierce support for individual/property rights when it suited them, but were more than glad to grab those services (and the public financial support which makes them available) when they needed them.”

Occupy Sandy, as the upcoming stories in this book relate, is spending a great deal of time and effort in the Rockaways, not only at Breezy Point but most especially in the Federal housing projects to the East which are neglected by public services, just as they are elsewhere. Volunteers are going up and down the stairs door-to-door to each and every one of the tens of thousands of apartments there and in Coney Island, just to check on people, provide some relief, water, food, blankets and batteries. In fact, several people have already been discovered dead, apparently for days or even weeks, in their apartments.

Occupy — with so many dedicated participants — has proven in practice that non-hierarchal networking is capable of organizing a very quick volunteer response. But one question especially lingers: Will Occupy be able to mobilize the same desperate people it is now assisting, when it comes to direct action protests, especially as it appears that the City is intentionally denying assistance to poor people in order to drive them out of the projects and confiscate that prime ocean-front real estate for luxury homes, hotels and playgrounds for the rich and famous? That is exactly what occurred in New Orleans, with tens of thousands of people never being able to return to their homes. Can Occupy Sandy switch gears from being a ‘salvation army’ type of activity, crucial though it has been, into a radical or even revolutionary movement with the thousands of people they are helping?

* * *

Since I’ve never ‘upgraded’ my internet connection from my land line ‘dial-up’, I am one of the few in my building whose internet access and phone service remains intact, even though our electricity never went out. So I can get and send email, and watch the News on TV thanks to my ancient indoor rabbit ears antenna, news that I relay to my neighbors when I see them in the elevator, to their astonished exclamations of ‘You’re kidding me!’ I tell them about independent mobilizations providing mutual aid that are occurring all over the place. Check out for info about how to organize assistance in your area.

In Coney Island, FEMA finally opened a center — a full four days after the storm. They ran out of supplies a few days ago. Today there’s a line of around 65 people outside, and soldiers and police, who are all over the FEMA warehouse, are not letting people in. I ask ‘why not?’ A soldier points to his wrist, and says ‘It’s not time, yet.’

On the Democracy Now! radio show, Mike Burke asks Rockaway organizer Catherine Yeager how her efforts with Occupy are different than FEMA’s. Her testy response is emblematic of the best of direct action organizing:

MIKE BURKE: Now, how are the relief efforts that are taking place here different from what we’re seeing with FEMA and the National Guard down the street?

CATHERINE YEAGER: FEMA down the street, from what I understand, is handing out pieces of paper that tell you to call a phone number to get help. Here, you come, and you get help immediately.

There are many people, mostly from the nearby NYC Housing Authority projects, who still have no electricity more than two weeks after the storm, no running water, no bathroom facilities, no food  and NYCHA (the public housing authority) is still charging them full rent, and was about to proceed with evictions for nonpayment until Occupy and many others raised a stink.

I’m sick of the stagnant, militarized FEMA facility. I decide to walk west on Neptune Avenue to West 29th Street, across from a deserted Kaiser Field, where neighborhood resident Pam Harris has turned her front yard into a relief center with Occupy Sandy. She tells me she didn’t know who the splurge of young people were, but they poured into Coney Island willing and ready to do the work needed to help people dig out from Sandy. Harris said she found the Occupy Relief website by doing a google search once she was able to access the internet. Now she’s filled with nothing but praise for all the young committed folks who’ve poured into Coney Island from all over the City to lend a hand.

In front of her house, a steady stream of people drop off supplies, while others pick up blankets, winter clothing, batteries, flashlights and diapers.

Occupy has set up a generator for people to charge their cellphones and computer batteries. (Several years later, Pam Harris won election to the NY State Assembly representing Coney Island and nearby areas. A few years later, she was indicted for funneling $23,000 raised by a non-profit company she’d set up, pled guilty, resigned from public office, and was sentenced to 6 months in prison.)

And now, every day another team of chefs come from restaurants around the City to serve hot meals for free to whoever wants one, no standing on ceremony, just come and take what you need, eat your fill of great food, and drop off supplies for others. There are no forms to fill out, no one is keeping track … and yet, Pam knows exactly where everything is and how much of this or that is available. ‘We’ll be running out of blankets tomorrow,’ she tells me. ‘If you can get the word out, that would be great.’ We’d just met; already, like a born organizer, she’s giving me an assignment, and I am all too grateful for the chance to help out. Across the street, the church is serving as a depot for clothing and an even bigger daily feeding operation is underway.

Radio station WBAI, which airs an ‘Occupy Wall Street’ show every weeknight at 6:30 pm and which is part of the listener-sponsored noncommercial Pacifica network, is pretty much alone among media in pointing out the racial and class discrepancies in government and Red Cross assistance. But it is on and off the air sporadically during the storm. As Chair of the Local Board for the last four years, I’m involved up to my ears in trying to get the station to remain on the air, not the least reason so that we can use the station to help give voice to the needs of our neighbors and mobilize assistance.

WBAI’s General Manager Berthold Reimers reports that after the NYC transit system was shut down the evening before the storm, a crew of seven WBAI producers and volunteers chose to disregard the mandatory evacuation orders and camped out at the station at its headquarters at 120 Wall Street so that they could provide round-the-clock live coverage of Hurricane Sandy, as Wall Street flooded 10 stories below them.

By Monday evening October 29th — ominously the date of the 1929 stock market crash(!) — the East River decided to race into the building and up the stairs on the ground floor, and then six feet or so higher, filling the lobby of the 34-story building. Generators exploded, and Con Ed — which had been taking shortcuts in protecting its equipment over the last few years and laying off hundreds of workers — had to shut off the power, and along with it WBAI’s ability to broadcast from that location. Announcer Michael G. Haskins was able to continue broadcasting for several hours from a remote location, using Comrex equipment that allows for remote broadcasting.

The WBAI crew, meanwhile, was trapped. While the view from the 10th floor is spectacular, it was not exactly for that reason that they stuck it out until Tuesday morning when the waters receded. Meanwhile, WBAI’s broadcast was interrupted late Monday night and again on Tuesday morning when Verizon lost its connection to the antenna atop the Empire State Building, and WBAI went silent.

WBAI was not able to come back on the air until late Tuesday night, and only with archival recordings. By Wednesday afternoon, the station was again broadcasting live, but sporadically, from the studios of Gary Null‘s internet Progressive Radio Network on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

All day Sunday and Monday, WBAI ran interviews with New Yorkers, and focused on questions that, at the time, were going unasked by the corporate media, Reimers said, proudly. Ken Gale asked: Are the nuclear power plants at Indian Point in jeopardy, and should they be shut down immediately?

Why did New York City shut off electricity, water and elevators more than 24 hours before the storm hit to the tens of thousands of poor and working class people living in public housing?

Was the City trying to drive people out for good?

What effect did global climate change have on this storm, and on future ones?

Nowhere else in the media could you hear that kind of questioning, which continues in a long train of searching out the truth in complicated stories. WBAI airs a biweekly show covering the global ecological crisis and climate change in the tradition of the station’s coverage of the protests against the Vietnam War in the ’60s, the Gulf War in the ’90s, and the endless ‘War on Terror’ in 2001 and since. WBAI covered the events of 9/11 live, and stayed at the mic round-the-clock reporting from downtown Manhattan.

Democracy Now!, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, which broadcasts over WBAI in New York City, carried stirring interviews on Monday November 5th, with Occupy Sandy activists; that same night, Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash provided the first comprehensive coverage of the situation in Coney Island, which was pretty much being ignored in the mainstream media. And Esther Armah, Ken Gale and Tony Ryan were unrelenting in their coverage of global climate change and especially the threat from the combination of the storm and New York’s nuclear power plants, which no one else was talking about.

In fact in the days leading up to the storm, a number of us were apoplectic over the possibility of radiation releases at NYC’s nuclear power plants. The government shut the subways. They shut the schools. They shut the parks, tunnels, bridges and even the electricity as generators exploded right near WBAI. But the nuclear power generators at Indian Point, just 26 miles north of New York City? Those they kept running.

Are they insane? Should the waters of the Hudson flood into the plant, that would be an unprecedented disaster, on the scale of Fukushima or worse. Should any of the spent fuel rods foolishly stored in pools at Indian Point be washed into the Hudson, we can kiss New York City goodbye. (How’s that for an early morning TV show — ‘Goodbye New York’?)

There were 16 nuclear power plants in the path of hurricane Sandy, as it whipped its way back from the Atlantic and up the coast. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission put additional observers at the sites and claimed they could shut down the nukes on just a few hours notice if they had to, so ‘don’t worry.’

Ken Gale, producer of the show ‘EcoLogic,’ presented the frightening scenario on WBAI. Hundreds of listeners called the governor and the NRC, begging them to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant at least for the storm’s duration.

WBAI provided phone numbers to call. And all of that concern had an effect. A spokesperson for the NRC was able to get through to me at home — a first! — and we had a long conversation. She agreed to discuss it live on the radio the next morning, but then WBAI was again knocked off the air.

The Obama-Nukes Connection

The nuclear nightmare is entirely manmade and profit driven. There is nothing ‘natural’ about it. It is the result not just of technology gone ‘inexplicably’ haywire but, predictably, of a certain kind of technology — a centralized, metered and capitalist technology, very expensive and made economically profitable only by a boatload of government subsidies to the nuclear industry.

Note: Just because nuclear power was used by the former Soviet Union and iswidespread in China, etc., does not make it less of a ‘capitalist technology.’ It is true that some leftists argue that nuclear power (like genetic engineering) is only a problem under capitalism and if only workers had control over it in a truly socialist society, it would be safe. Some discussion of that concept can be found in Mitchel Cohen, The Capitalist Infesto: Is Marx’s Critique of Science and Technology Radical Enough?, Red Balloon Pamphlets, 2010; also, by the same author, Big Science,and the Left’s Curious Notion of Progress (2005).

And yet, even amidst the current catastrophe, and even as the government of Venezuela halts its own nuclear program in response to public requests to reconsider the direction for society in light of Fukushima, the U.S. government is dead-set on shoring up the industry and constructing new nuclear power plants.

Note: Venezuela is suspending development of a nuclear power program following the catastrophe at the nuclear complex in Japan, President HugoChavez announced. Reuters, March 16, 2011. Venezuela ‘had hoped that a planned Russian-built nuclear power plant would provide 4,000megawatts (MW) and be ready in about a decade. But Chavez saidevents in Japan showed the risks associated with nuclear power were too great. ‘For now, I have ordered the freezing of the plans we have been developing ‘ for a peaceful nuclear program,’ he said during a televised meeting with Chinese investors.’

Note: $13 billion in cradle-to-grave subsidies and tax breaks, as well as unlimited taxpayer-backed loan guarantees, limited liability in the case of an accident, and other incentives have been approved this year to go to the nuclear industry to build new nuclear reactors. Also, note that the designer of the Fukushima nuclear reactors as well as many herein the U.S., the General Electric Company, paid no taxes at all in 2010 — even though it made billions in profits.

Along with Wall Street brokerage house Goldman Sachs, nuclear reactor operator Exelon Inc. — one of the largest employers in Illinois where Obama was Senator (a state that gets approximately half of its electricity from nuclear power, more than any other state)  was a top contributor to Barack Obama’s campaigns, officially donating over $269,000.

The company currently operates 10 reactors at six sites. The Quad-cities Nuclear Power Plant, located on the banks of the Mississippi River, is a GE Mark-1 plant, with the identical design and nearly the same age as the Fukushima reactors. Exelon barely averted disaster at its Braidwood nuke in Joliet, IL last year, caused by several problems that the company had refused to correct  including a poor design that led to repeated floods in buildings housing safety equipment. The company allowed vented steam to rip metal siding off containment walls and used undersized electrical fuses for vital safety equipment, according to the NRC. (Union of Concerned Scientists, ‘The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2010,’ March 2011)

As candidate for president, Obama knew about the deadly dangers of nuclear power. ‘I start off with the premise that nuclear energy is not optimal and so I am not a nuclear energy proponent,’ Obama said at a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa on December 30, 2007. ‘My general view is that until we can make certain that nuclear power plants are safe. ‘ I don’t think that’s the best option. I am much more interested in solar and wind and bio-diesel and strategies [for] alternative fuels.’ (Karl Grossman, ‘Behind the Hydrogen Explosion at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant,’

As he told the editorial board of the Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire on November 25, 2007: ‘I don’t think there’s anything that we inevitably dislike about nuclear power. We just dislike the fact that it might blow up ‘ and irradiate us ‘ and kill us. That’s the problem.’ But as president, Obama hired a nuclear power proponent out of the national nuclear laboratory system, Steven Chu, as his energy secretary. Chu, who had been director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, minimizes the impacts of radioactivity, as do many of the atomic physicists in the national laboratory system. Obama’s two top White House aides, meanwhile, had been deeply involved with Exelon  the utility operating more nuclear power plants than any other in the U.S. Rahm Emanuel, his former chief of staff and now Mayor of Chicago, was an investment banker central to the $8.2 billion corporate merger in 1999 that produced Exelon. David Axelrod, senior advisor and Obama’s chief political strategist, was an Exelon PR consultant. Frank M. Clark, who runs ComEd, helped advise Obama before he ran for President and is one of Obama’s largest fundraisers. Candidate Obama received sizable contributions from Exelon president and CEO John Rowe, who in 2007 also became chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry’s main trade group. As Forbes magazine wrote, ‘Ties are tight between Exelon and the Obama administration,’ noting Exelon’s political contributions and Emanuel’s and Axelrod’s Exelon links. Upon becoming President, Obama appointed Rowe to his Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Energy Future.

NOTE: Jonathan Fahey, ‘The President’s Utility,’ Forbes, January 18, 2010.Rahm Emanuel ‘was hired by Rowe to help broker the $8.2 billion dealbetween Unicom and Peco when Emanuel was at the investment bankWasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort). In his two-year careerthere Emanuel earned $16.2 million, according to congressional disclosures. His biggest deal was the Exelon merger.’

The revolving door between government and industry rotates just as fast in Japan as it does in the U.S. In fact, the former director general of METI left the agency and joined TEPCO as a senior adviser. Another METI board member became executive vice president at TEPCO. (John Bussey, ‘Japan Will Rebuild From Quake But Faces Other Daunting Tests,’ The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2011.)

Not surprisingly, given who funded his campaigns, as president Obama betrayed his campaign statements and began promoting ‘safe, clean nuclear power.’ He pushed for multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidies for the construction of new nuclear plants, and made them a central part of his energy policy. He now proposes allocating $36 billion in federal loan guarantees to jump-start the construction of new nuclear reactors. Unfortunately, he has maneuvered some who have argued fervently for the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce or reverse global warming, such as NASA scientist James Hansen, into supporting his pro-nuclear policies by falsely posing coal mining and sequestration, mountaintop removal, deep sea oil drilling, and hydro-fracking for natural gas as the options to nuclear power  all of which the Obama administration is aggressively promoting.

Opponents of nuclear power, in contrast, vigorously oppose every one of those Obama proposals and argue instead for funding for development of decentralized sustainable energy alternatives like solar and wind power. Contrary to the claims of nuclear supporters, anti-nuke activists also strongly oppose expansion of oil and coal-burning power plants and support phasing them out, as they are rightly seen as prime contributors to air pollution, asthma and greenhouse gases involved in global climate change. Nuclear power is not the answer.

John Rowe’s Nuclear Energy Institute praises legislation that would facilitate the development of smaller, scalable nuclear reactors. The legislation, sponsored by Democrats as well as Republicans,

“was introduced March 8 2011 in the U.S. Senate. The Nuclear Power 2021 Act (S. 512) was introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), along with Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). The legislation directs the Secretary of Energy to implement programs to develop and demonstrate two reactor designs, one fewer than 300 megawatts of electric generating capacity and the other fewer than 50 megawatts. This public-private, cost-shared program would facilitate the design certification by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of two small reactor designs by the end of 2017 and the licensing of the reactors by the end of 2020.” (‘NEI Welcomes Senators’ Legislation to Advance Development of SmallReactors,’ Nuclear Energy Institute, March 09, 2011. )

Even as the nuclear nightmare plays out in Japan and the odds in favor of the nightmare scenario happening in New York and at other nukes as global climate change generates stronger and much larger storms that threaten the plants, the President, the nuclear industry and its proponents in Congress bull ahead, disregarding the potential for causing global catastrophic events. Just as one of former President Bush’s first acts in office was to increase allowable arsenic in drinking water when that water was found to already have higher arsenic levels than expected (waters used, now, in the growing of rice which is now said to be replete with high levels of arsenic), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Obama is preparing to dramatically increase permissible radioactive releases in water, food and soil, in preparation for what they are calling ‘radiological incidents.’ (193Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), ‘RadiationExposure Debate Rages Inside EPA,’ April 5, 2011,

This is taking place entirely behind closed doors, warns the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Because this plan is considered ‘guidance’ it does not require public notice as a normal regulation would. The radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) ‘are protocols for responding to radiological events ranging from nuclear power-plant accidents to ‘dirty’ bombs.’ Under the new guides, nuclear energy plants would be allowed to vent much higher levels of radioactive isotopes into the water supply and expose many more people to higher doses of radiation, including

‘A nearly 1000-fold increase in strontium-90;

‘A 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for iodine-131; and

‘An almost 25,000 rise for nickel-63.

The new radiation guidelines would also allow long-term cleanup standards thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted, permitting doses to the public that EPA itself estimates would cause cancer in as many as every fourth person exposed. (ibid. Also, Brian Moench, MD, ‘Radiation: Nothing to See Here?’ Truthout, March 25, 2011  a popular compilation of the dangers of radiation.) These relaxations of radiation protection requirements are favored by the nuclear industry and allies in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Energy Department.

Fortunately, there are some in the regulatory agencies resisting the proposed increase in allowable radiation guides. The idea that there could be any ‘acceptable level’ of radiation  let alone these drastically ‘enhanced’ levels  is being vigorously opposed by public health professionals inside EPA where a critical debate is now taking place, according to documents PEER obtained by suing the EPA under the Freedom of Information Act. Even Exelon CEO John Rowe said lawmakers shouldn’t expand U.S. guarantees for loans for new reactors, and that he is reassessing a $3.65-billion plan to boost output by upgrading Exelon’s existing reactors —  not for any newfound moral, environmental or health-related concern but as a smokescreen for reducing corporate expenditures. (John McCormick, ‘Nuclear Illinois Helped Shape Obama View on Energyin Dealings With Exelon,’ Bloomberg News, March 23, 2011. )

Meanwhile, as the chaos and destruction generated by Hurricane Sandy make all too clear, we dodged a bullet this time with regard to the Indian Point nuclear power plant. We might not be so ‘lucky’ next year, or the year after that, when the storms of increasing magnitude are likely to strike again.

Reprinted from Mitchel Cohen, “Occupy Sandy” in What Is Direct Action? Lessons from (and to) Occupy Wall Street.


GUEST POST: CAITLIN JOHNSTONE: Worthless House Progressives Retract Mild Peace Advocacy Under Pressure From Warmongers


It’s meaningless nonsense. None of them are threatening to use any leverage to do anything and they all continue to vote for funding. None of them reached out to Republicans who are against the war to form a coalition to actually use their power. As is usually the case with these “progressives” they are trying to protect their brand.

The one thing that is good about this is that it ind icates that public opinion has now shifted enough in their districts that they feel they have to squeak up a bit to maintain their cred.    -Jack Shalom

If you actually read the original letter signed by House progressives including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna PressleyRashida TlaibJamaal Bowman and Ro Khanna, you will quickly see that it’s as innocuous and anodyne as any statement could possibly be while still containing words. It opens with effusive praise for Biden’s interventionism in Ukraine and condemns the Russian government unequivocally throughout, offering only the humble suggestion that he “pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.” Its authors make it abundantly clear that they support making sure such diplomacy is agreeable to Ukraine at every step of the way.

This impotent nothing salad was bizarrely spun by The Washington Post as a call on Biden to “dramatically shift his strategy on the Ukraine war,” despite nothing that could be remotely construed as “dramatic” existing anywhere in the body of the text. The letter received backlash from warmongers in both parties, including from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was personally slammed by Bernie Sanders, the pope of American progressivism. Trolls and warmongers swarmed the social media notifications of every account which posted the letter in an official capacity, mindlessly bleating the words “appeasement” and “Chamberlain” in unison.

In a statement on the retraction of the letter, CPC chair Pramila Jayapal says she accepts responsibility for the publication of the offending act of peacemongering while in the same breath blaming its publication on her staff.

“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting. As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this,” Jayapal said.

“Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory,” the statement reads, ignoring mainstream reports that US officials quietly believe Ukraine stands no chance at outright victory in this war. “The letter sent yesterday, although restating that basic principle, has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time and we withdraw the letter.”

Empire critics were quick to highlight the obsequious nature of this retraction.

“For progressives, I didn’t think it could get more pathetic than voting for a disastrous proxy war that the US provoked and prolonged, handing billions to arms makers in the process. In retracting their tepid call for diplomacy and blaming staffers for it, they somehow surpassed it,” tweeted Aaron Maté.

“Certainly speaks to the insanely hawkish atmosphere in Washington that pressured the progressive caucus to withdrawal a totally reasonable, responsible and necessary call for diplomacy in a conflict that risks escalating to nuclear armageddon,” tweeted Rania Khalek.

“Imagine being elected to Congress based on promises of challenging ‘the establishment’ or whatever, then being so petrified of anger from bipartisan DC establishment mavens that you can’t even wait 24 hours before meekly retracting the only mild dissent you’ve expressed,” tweeted Glenn Greenwald.handing billions to arms makers in the process. In retracting their tepid call for diplomacy & blaming staffers for it, they somehow surpassed it:

I don’t know what pressures were the ultimate deciding factor in the CPC’s decision to retract its feeble advocacy for a bit more diplomacy, or how much of that pressure was brought to bear behind the scenes by bigger political monsters in the Beltway swamp, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. The important take-home from this lesson, once again, is that progressive Democrats are worse than worthless at opposing the mechanisms of oligarchy and empire.

In fact if you look at their actions it’s not even really accurate to describe them as “progressive Democrats” as though they are a faction that has meaningful differences with the rest of that party. Aside from the occasional empty soundbyte about healthcare or debt forgiveness, they’re not doing anything to advance progressive agendas which make American lives better, and they’re certainly doing nothing to impede the expansion of the US war machine.

The progressive Democrat is a myth, like the good billionaire or the righteous American war. “The Squad” is nothing more than the social media-savvy branch of the Democratic establishment. The United States has two warmongering oligarchic parties, and a tremendous amount of narrative management goes into manipulating, cajoling and coercing Americans into staying psychologically plugged in to that fraudulent political paradigm.

This comes at the same time the defense minister of Romania was forced to resign for saying peace talks were necessary to achieve peace in Ukraine. It just reveals so much about where we’re at and where we’re headed that the most incendiary and outrageous thing you can say in our society is that we should probably attempt to diplomatically de-escalate hostilities between nuclear superpowers. The fact that the Overton window of acceptable political discourse has already been dragged that far in the direction of warmongering insanity prevents peace from ever having any space to get a word in edgewise.




All photos by Mitchel Cohen, October 7, 2022.
Lyrics by Phil Ochs

Scenes of my young years were warm in my mind
Visions of shadows that shine
‘Til one day I returned
And found they were the victims of the vines
Of changes

Brooklyn’s Eifel Tower. The Parachute jump. Oct. 7, 2022


Men’s bathroom, Coney Island, Oct 7, 2022



Filmset for “Imaginary Friends” ….



Moon over tattered red flag on Coney Island Beach, looking south over the Atlantic Ocean.



Still there after all these years! The original Nathan’s. If I still ate hot dogs (gave up eating pigs and cows — let alone horses! — a few decades ago) I’d surely return to my roots here! In the late 1960’s, some creep dropped a LSD into the mustard vats, injuring lots of unsuspecting people. YES to psychedelics when taken voluntarily, NO to imposing them (or ANY drug, mRNA vaxxines included) on people!



Part of set for “Imaginary Friends”, filming here. I remember eating my first 10 cent cotton candy here with my Grandmother in 1955, fascinated by the spinning of sugar into “cotton” and the tricky hand motion of sweeping the cardboard cone around the wheel.





View from the F Train.




Right on to Katie Halper and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) for challenging the Democrats in Congress over their financing of Israeli apartheid. Germane to Katie’s post below is a poem/song I wrote in 1988:


from Mondoweiss

Katie Halper loses job at ‘The Hill’ after calling on progressives to dismantle Israeli apartheid

The firing of Katie Halper by The Hill TV reflects growing support for Palestinian rights, and is reminiscent of the firing of Marc Lamont Hill by CNN 4 years ago.

Two weeks ago Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) got into hot water for asserting that you can’t be progressive and support Israel’s apartheid government. The Democratic leadership went haywire. Jake Tapper ran a segment on CNN quoting her “Jewish colleagues”, who had smeared her as antisemite. Tapper didn’t engage with Tlaib’s point about apartheid or explain to viewers why the only Palestinian member of the House might feel compelled to voice such frustration.

Now independent journalist Katie Halper says she was first censored by The Hill TV and then fired from its morning broadcast, “Rising,” after she submitted a commentary in which she stood up for Rashida Tlaib on the apartheid charge and uttered the words, “Free Palestine!”

Ryan Grim covers the case at the Intercept and says that monologues of the sort Halper submitted usually air without question. “[A]s a former co-host of the show, I’ve recorded more than 150 of them. There is no approval process.” (Grim could get no comment from Halper’s corporate former bosses at Nexstar media, which bought The Hill last year).

Halper has now published the (excellent) commentary that got her fired at BreakThrough News. Speaking “to my fellow Jews, to my friends in the Democratic Party who want to support Israel and think of themselves as progressive,” Halper methodically backs up Tlaib’s accusation and urges progressives to dismantle Israeli apartheid as they dismantled South African apartheid.

The case is similar to Marc Lamont Hill’s firing by CNN four years ago after he gave a speech at the U.N. in which he called for Palestine to be free from the river to the sea.

Katie Halper’s biggest offense may have been taking on Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL and his mouthpiece Jake Tapper of CNN. Halper said:

It’s outrageous that Rashida Tlaib is getting attacked. Tlaib is merely stating that Israel is an apartheid state, and that people who claim to have progressive values should not support an apartheid state. No matter how loose a definition of progressive we use, it certainly excludes supporting a racist apartheid position. What’s outrageous is attacking Tlaib for pointing out that Progressive Except for Palestine is an intensively contradictory position. What’s also outrageous is that the Anti Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt would claim that Israel is not an apartheid government. What’s outrageous is that Jake Tapper would accept Greenblatt’s statement as the truth and not propaganda that needed to be pushed back against. I understand that Greenblatt and perhaps Tapper feel like Israel is not an apartheid state, but unfortunately for them, apartheid is not about their feelings, but the facts.”

(Eli Valley speculates about Greenblatt’s possible “interference,” given his prominence in the capital and his spearheading the effort to smear Rashida Tlaib.)

Halper’s monologue is racking up views (20,000 so far today) and hundreds of supportive comments. She reports today that she is getting a ton of approval for her stance.

Let’s consider that support for a second. Clearly Tlaib and Halper are speaking to a receptive audience. Young American progressives support Palestinian freedom. “More than half of U.S students exposed to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s calls to boycott Israel – support the group, a Foreign Ministry survey conducted on campuses, released on Wednesday showed,” according to Israeli source Ynet.

That’s the Israeli foreign ministry polling! “The findings alarmed Israeli officials and indicated that the BDS movement has considerable influence on campuses.” Yes, even student leaders of the liberal Zionist lobby J Street support BDS — and then get crushed by the top of the organization for voicing that support.

These findings line up with other recent polling. We consistently see that sympathy for the Palestinian cause is increasing, especially among Democratic voters. A 2020 University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll found that 49% of Democrats had heard of BDS, and 48% of those who had heard of it said that they “strongly or somewhat” support the movement. A 2019 Center for American Progress poll found that 71% of Democrats support conditioning aid to Israel.

We’ve seen a staggering shift on this issue among Democrats over the last couple decades. When Gallup polled voters on the Middle East back in 2001 just 16% of Democrats said they sympathized with Palestinians. According to a 2021 Gallup poll a majority of Democrats now say that the United States should apply “more pressure on Israel” to make compromises, as opposed to “more pressure on Palestinians.”

Last week Zoha Qamar wrote about that growing division within the party at FiveThirtyEight. “A confluence of factors over the past decade seems to be driving this shift,” he wrote. “Social media has changed how war is witnessed across the globe — especially among young people — and a growing awareness of social inequities in the U.S. may be reshaping how some Americans perceive conflict internationally, too. But most of all, the Palestinian-Israeli question has become a topic that embodies an intra-party identity issue for Democrats, one that has increasingly pushed liberals to reconsider what constitutes progressive politics.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Photo:

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Photo: 

The position of voters might be changing, but it certainly hasn’t translated into a widespread shift among lawmakers. Rep. Betty McCollum’s (D-MN) historic bill aiming to end Israel’s detention of Palestinian children has just 32 cosponsors out of 435 voting representatives. Just eight Democrats voted against an extra $1 billion in Iron Dome funding last fall: The No votes belonged to Reps Andre Carson (D-IN), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) , Marie Newman (D-IL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Tlaib.

As we reported yesterday, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a tool for the pro-Israel lobby, told the Jerusalem Post conference two weeks ago that he doesn’t like to call out Tlaib and other progressive House members publicly over Israel because he doesn’t want to make them “superstars.” But he’s scared by their millions of followers on social media.

One of the things I’m most concerned about is there are millions of people on twitter including some young people, including some young Jews, who follow some of my far left colleagues. When they spread false information, especially using the tools of intersectionality, using words like apartheid, we have to be very clear and stand up to that. I worry about people on social media, especially young people, being influenced by that.

The young are being influenced, of course, and Gottheimer said he sometimes works behind the scenes so he doesn’t give Tlaib any “unnecessary attention.”

You are talking about a few people who are these splinter folks who are loud voices but not representative of the party . . .

Maybe not such a splinter after all!

Halper also assured viewers that she’s not going away.

It’s an important thing to show the world that, sadly, Israel is an apartheid state and we have to push back and when we encounter censorship we can’t run away with our tails between our legs.

Props to Halper for not running away and making Rashida Tlaib’s testimony even stronger. Publicly the congresswoman has ignored the recent attacks, but continues to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians. Yesterday she tweeted about Rian Suleiman, a 7-year-old boy who died of a heart attack while Israeli soldiers chased him after invading his home. “Don’t look away. $3.8 billion+ of our money is funding this,” wrote Tlaib. “Enough. It must stop.”

The United States has called for an “immediate and thorough” investigation, but the IDF has already declared there’s “no connection” between his death and the actions of his soldiers. At some places it’s still controversial to call this “apartheid.”



The question of freedom and determinism — or, in Rosa Luxemburg‘s prescient query: “Reform and Revolution” — is what got me started writing my zen-marxism series of pamphlets, of which the philosophical chapters in “The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides” are the most current outgrowths.

If conditions freely determine, can we be determined to be free?

If we’re robots, how do we know we’re robots, unless programmed to seek out that knowledge.

I wrote my very first zen-marxism essay on this question back in 1974 off-campus at SUNY Binghamton, where I was living on a mattress on the floor in the back room of an office on Clinton Street with three others — no shower or kitchen. That office served as a base for teams of students I’d recruited to organize farmworkers in the Finger Lakes region into the Eastern Farmworkers Association. Fresh out of a 4-month sentence in prison the previous summer for participating in antiwar demonstrations at SUNY Stony Brook, that philosophical question plagued me, tortured me. I tried talking about it to those around me and they were oblivious to what I considered to be a major philosophical problem.

That meditation started with:

Between Descartes, Hegel, Marx, Percy Shelley, Rosa Luxemburg, and Einstein there is an abyss, a chasm that each came to and was not able to cross — the question of Freedom, and the separation of subject from object. That Cartesian dualism plagued the Left for many years, even as we took actions against the policies of U.S. imperialism. How do I know that I’m not being “programmed” to do whatever it is that I’m doing?

By the end of the 20th rewrite of the essay and many mescaline trips (and political arrests) several years later, I’d figured out how to use dialectical philosophy to indeed bridge that chasm and answer that question: By making the subject under discussion — in this case the relationship of freedom and determinism — itself into the object of scrutiny — that is, making it a “meta-object”, freely studying the relationship of freedom and determinism (subject and object) and how to build radical organization based on that understanding.

That’s what Kurt Gödel analyzed in his own way — fascinating stuff! Bertrand Russell actually BANNED Gödel’s recursive thoughts from his work on mathematics, which Gödel threw into chaos. Douglas Hofstadter‘s encyclopediac work, “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid,” explored these questions in depth and occupied me for more than a year, plaguing my housemates as I alternated between quoting from Hofstadter and also Abbie Hoffman‘s book “Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture,” and antiwar and anti-apartheid protests,

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

It was gravity that pulled us down
Destiny that tore us apart
– Bob Dylan

When I went to college, the torrent of new experiences replaced the torment of these inquiries. I got an “F” in Philosophy 101 my first semester when I was 16 and wanted to kill Sternweiss, the odious professor. I hate therefore I am. (I actually went back to Sternweiss’s class many years later when I felt much more sure of myself and “got even” …. )

Three years into my “career” at Stony Brook, I and the rest of the Independent Caucus of SDS (and later the Red Balloon Collective) began reading Karl Marx. Marx and Engels, we read, made the important distinction between utopian and scientific socialism. They did not say, “This is how the world should work.” (utopian) Instead, they examined the motion of capitalism from within its own premises and processes (scientific). They showed where the motion of capitalism was taking it and where human beings might intervene to influence its direction. (The idea is that Leftist human interventions serves as acupuncture needles re-orienting the energy flows of history!)


of capitalism NOT

by positing an ideal world and wishing for it

nor by establishing a Communistic plot

(he’s buried in one!)

but by unraveling

the way

the system unfolds

inevitably, globally,

propelled by its own

internal contradictions.



does all that mean,

every word coiled in

its history

ready to spring!


will it first collapse?


there be

a future worth living in?

a planet to live on?


is in position

to take action?


must we organize ourselves

to achieve

the revolutionary new society we seek?


will loneliness evaporate

and love take root?

It was as though Marx and Engels were talking directly to me, about my whole childhood! My coming to Marx and Engels was not solely about politics, per se. It was extremely personal, and to some degree remains so. They gave me tools for understanding and explaining this huge philosophical conundrum that I had been unable to make sense of and had trapped myself in!

I had been unknowingly utilizing what Engels called a Utopian” framework; that’s why I couldn’t figure out how to validate my method for validating decisions I’d come to. What a relief, to have a label to affix to my “illness”! So, someone else had thought about all this before. I am not alone, maybe there’s a cure! I was just beginning to be able to put this dialectical thought into words: There can be no fine distinction between how we view the world and how the world has shaped each of us to view it — and that includes the desire to view “how the world has shaped us to view it.”

This was my starting point in addressing the same dilemma that has plagued Western philosophy since Descartes (and me, ever since I was a kid, and later in that first semester Philosophy 101): If my ideas and desires are conditioned by the world, how is it possible to even ask myself whether my ideas and desires are conditioned by the world, unless some outside force wants me to do so? Or, as I put it at the time, Am I not a robot? And if I’m not, how can I prove it?

For Descartes, the idea of reflexive thought — that is, the ability of an individual to think about how she is thinking — is so convoluted and so huge that he concluded in his Meditations that he could not have thought this up on his own. Consequently, it could only have been planted in his mind by an evil demon or some opposite and even more powerful force that stood outside his thought process and which he called “God”.

Descartes could not explain where the idea came from to “think about thinking” (and to actually do it) — the idea of the Idea. In much the same way that I had invented a procedure for answering questions over which I had no control (racing a closing door before it slammed shut), so too did Descartes invent a mechanism that could not be validated by his own first premises concerning rational thought. The name of that mechanism, for Descartes, was “God,” and it stood outside the quagmire of rationality that had entrapped him.

V.I. Lenin argued for a similar mechanism in What Is To Be Done? Since socialist consciousness does not arise out of working class relations on their own under capitalism, he wrote, it must come from outside the working class movements. Consequently, some mechanism, Lenin said, must be created to bring socialist direction into movements that on their own (he claimed) could never go beyond the narrow economic self-interest of trade unions.

For Descartes, that mechanism was God, coming from outside the process of thought applied to itself. For Lenin, it was the “vanguard party,” which was to come from outside the motion of the working class in itself. The function of the Communist Party would be to lead the working class to escape its economistic role under capitalism as an object and become conscious of and fulfill its historically determined potential as the free revolutionary subject of history.

Whether through Descartes’ God, Lenin’s party, or my racing of a slamming door, each of our approaches came up against the limits of rationality; they each required a mechanism that came from outside the process of reflexive thought. By standing outside and apart from the separated, fenced-off realms of objective and subjective, parts and wholes, each of these mechanisms (or rational approaches) strove to serve as bridges across the same philosophical abyss, and were therefore utopian constructs. (For me “utopian” meant you couldn’t get there by adding on rational steps. It required a Leap)

The separation of subject from object, “self” from “other” (what’s “in our heads” from what’s “out there”) is at the root of all dualisms. It confounds linear logic The moment we think to apply rational thought to itself, to its own premises, we’ve trapped ourselves.1 That “separation” (alienation) plays out through many “secondary” (but crucial and complex) dualities involving seemingly unbridgeable abysses: freedom and determinism, cause and effect, the whole and the parts, quality and quantity, universal and particular, abstract and concrete, absolute and relative, form and content, mechanisms of conditioning and independent consciousness, fact and value, reason and emotion, sadism and masochism, revolution and reform, mind and body, thinking and being, production and consumption, education and direct action, vanguard and mass, opportunism and adventurism, and, spontaneity and organization. These are all false dualities rooted in Descartes’ approach, reflecting, from different angles, the same severed Unity. Ultimately, all revolutionary strategy in the U.S. and Europe is and has always been about creating the means to bridge that chasm.

Every major philosophical question is propelled by our attempts to understand how our lives and thoughts came to be dominated by the separation of subject and object, and our efforts to re-unite them.2 The “idea” to investigate the Idea’s own existence — the taking of a subjective process and making it the object of scrutiny — is the first step in transcending that chasm in a dialectical manner.

For the New Left, every single facet of everyday life — our ways of seeing, thinking, acting, relating, eating, having sex, producing and loving– offers a window onto the totality of capitalist and, I would add, patriarchal relations. We see that totality refracted through the particularities of our lives, a mosaic of seemingly disparate parts and events. The ways in which we relate to each other and to nature, and the questions that go along with them — Do we compete over scarce resources? Do we see ourselves through the lens of isms, particularly religions, and the ideology of nationalism and the nation-state? — generally go unnoted, taken for granted. Who among us rejects the religion of their parents and adopts a different one? Very few. Who among us rejects identifying with the country they grew up in, at least in terms of how we view ourselves? (“We’re at war!” And exactly WHO falls within the embrace of that identity moniker “we“?) How can we create the kind of society in which people treat each other as full human beings and not as commodities or things?3

Once again, the “isms” through which we see and experience our own lives and the world around us generally go unnoted, taken for granted.

While Abbie Hoffman, the New Left’s most visible advocate, declared that we needed to make every ism a wasm, Karl Marx explained why that was exceedingly difficult to do:

The materialist doctrine that people are products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, therefore, changed people are products of changed circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is people who change circumstances and that the educator must him or herself be educated.4

And so, the question persists: How can anyone change the circumstances that have shaped their thought and actions, ways of being that maintain, enhance and protect the very circumstances they need to change? The vicious circle continues.

1That is why Bertrand Russell argued so strenuously against what I’m calling “reflexive” processes in his Principia Mathematica and in fact banned them outright! That’s also why Kurt Gödel’s conclusions, which were drawn from his mathematic logic, were so powerful in undermining Russell and indeed the Cartesian basis of Western philosophy.

2Subjective & objective, parts & wholes, are, as I argue throughout Zen-Marxism, false dualities which western society has created by severing “subjective” from “objective”, and the “parts” from the particular whole they’re part of.

3See, for instance, Mitchel Cohen, What Is Direct Action? New Left Lessons in Reframing Revolutionary Strategy, (Zen-Marxism #4), Red Balloon publications, 2013.

4Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, Number 3.





As we pass global temperature tipping points, we face widespread ecosystem collapse and the development of self-sustaining destructive feedback loops, write ROX MIDDLETON, LIAM SHAW and JOEL HELLEWELL

LAST week a team of scientists published their review of the evidence that has accumulated in the past few years about the properties and dangers of climate tipping points.

They compared this evidence with the 1.5-2°C rise in global temperature that will occur under the Paris Agreement. They found that we may still reach several climate tipping points or maybe have already crossed them.

A ”tipping point” is when a variable in a system, such as the global temperature in our climate, crosses a threshold which causes feedback.

From that point, significant self-perpetuating changes start to occur that are irreversible and often abrupt and dramatic.

The self-sustaining feedback loop means that even if we could magically reduce the temperature after crossing a tipping point, the changes would continue to happen and we cannot return to the previous state.

One of the tipping points identified in the review was the dieback of the Amazon rainforest.

The presence of the rainforest recycles rainfall in the Amazon basin, allowing it to persist through the dry season.

As some of the forest is lost due to both deforestation and high temperatures causing drying out (and eventually fires), this reduces its ability to promote and retain rainfall and leads to further drying.

After the tipping point of forest death, the forest can no longer sustain itself and the entire forest is condemned.

The Amazon rainforest is a huge sink for human carbon emissions. Upon its death these emissions will no longer be absorbed and will therefore contribute towards more climate change.

Another large store of carbon is permanently frozen soil in the northern boreal forests that lie in a ring around the north of the planet through Canada, Finland and Russia.

It is not fully known how these permafrosts will react to rising temperatures. The best-case scenario is that they thaw gradually, slowly releasing their carbon into the atmosphere over many years.

However, there is some evidence that a partial thaw would lead to an increase in microbial activity in the previously frozen carbon-rich organic matter.

This bacterial activity would generate its own heat and melt the permafrost further, creating a feedback loop leading to permafrost collapse and the release of all the stored carbon very quickly.

Four of the tipping points identified are the collapse of ice sheets around Greenland, West and East Antarctica, and the Arctic Sea.

It’s easy to grasp that less sea ice will form in a warmer sea as temperatures rise, but sea ice melting may unfortunately also face a tipping point at which a feedback loop begins so that sea ice loss accelerates further sea ice loss.

Open seas with less ice at the beginning of winter seem to lead to less sea ice growth. Ice is very reflective, so if less ice is formed then less heat is reflected and is instead absorbed by the sea in spring and summer.

The warmer sea melts more ice, so even less ice is present for the beginning of next winter. When the sea ice is gone there will be no heat reflected and global temperatures will rise.

While each of these tipping points would represent the terminal decline of a major earth ecosystem, what makes them particularly important is their capacity for interaction. Each tipping point has a roughly estimated temperature range at which it is predicted to occur.

Reaching one tipping point may push temperatures up enough to reach another tipping point, leading to a cascade of devastating, irreversible changes.

The self-sustaining nature of these tipping points means that once we are on the conveyor belt, we cannot get back off.

The uncertain ranges of temperature at which these tipping points may occur is also concerning. We have already reached just over one degree Celsius of warming since pre-industrial times.

This may not seem like much, but it already puts us in the lower ranges for several tipping points where they are considered “possible.”

One of these tipping points that we may have already passed is coral bleaching. At a high enough sea temperature coral ejects the symbiotic algae that live inside their tissue.

The coral turns white and brittle and the incredibly rich ecosystems of other marine life that live inside and around the coral also dies.

Reef health often depends on specialised fish that live in the coral; declines in the population of these fish due to mass coral bleaching would cause further reef deterioration.

More broadly bleaching can cause population crashes of fish that feed on animals in the reef, impacting humans that rely on fishing as a food source and ultimately the ocean carbon cycle.

Coral bleaching has already happened in many coral reefs, including large portions of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.

As sea temperatures have risen, mass bleaching events have become more common. It’s impossible to tell right now whether we have already crossed the threshold of reef decline but many believe it is very likely.

Single warming events have catastrophic effects which mean the time-scale for coral loss is years, not decades. It has been predicted that 99 per cent of coral reefs will have died within 10 years.

Current warming has brought us into the plausible range for several tipping points. Within these ranges, the likelihood of passing tipping points becomes ever more likely the higher the temperature rises.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit the temperature increase to “well below 2, preferably to 1.5°C.”

Even this seemingly small amount of extra warming pushes us into the “possible” ranges of several more tipping points, and changes the status of lower tipping points to “likely.”

The uncertainty in how soon we will reach these tipping points, how bad they will be for further warming, and how they will interact with each other demands that we take the strongest measures to prevent as much future warming as possible.

In the words of the scientists conducting the review: “The Earth may have left a safe climate state beyond 1°C global warming.”


This terrifying article, clearly explains dynamic systems and how tipping points work — exemplifying, I’ll add, a dialectical understanding of processes, both natural and man-made. Of course the shortfall here is what, if anything, human beings can do about our own extinction at this late date. My fear is that rather than being an argument for eliminating capitalism, it becomes one for the development of whole new geo-technological industrial “solutions” which, no doubt, will make matters even worse and facilitate the extinction of complex life on this planet.

Mitchel Cohen


From the start of the pandemic in 2020, thoughtful vaxxine challengers asked, “What would happen if the experimental mRNA vaxxines ended up increasing the chances of one’s body manufacturing misfolded spike proteins of the Covid virus? And what then?”

Unlike now-old fashioned vaccines, the mRNA vaxxines are designed to cause cells throughout the body to “manufacture” proteins where no spike protein had gone before. The novel idea would be to induce the body to create antibodies to the proteins the body itself would be “induced to produce”. One would expect regulatory health agencies would examine evidence of vaxxine-induced “malfunction”, which in this case would mean the incidence of Covid spike proteins misfolding into what are called “prions.” These could result in cascading chain reactions in the brain, as has been documented previously in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and Mad Cow disease.

The Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with evaluating such reports, does not appear to have required the Pfizer and Moderna manufacturers of the Covid vaxxine to submit research reporting incidence of misfolded proteins prompted by the mRNA vaxxines. (Note that this is a separate concern from adjuvants, metals, graphene oxides, and impurities in the composition of the vaxxine itself.) And yet, the FDA approved “emergency” allocation of the vaxxines despite the companies’ failure to test for prion formation — data which is essential in assessing risk prior to approval of such new vaxxine technology.

The No Spray Coalition against pesticides — which in 2007 had after many years won a federal lawsuit under the Clean Water Act against New York City’s spraying of massive amounts of organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides to kill mosquitoes said to be carrying and transmitting West Nile virus — has had some encounters with the frightening prion brain diseases. Farmers in Europe had been directed to drench their cattle with Malathion and Phosmet, which caused a rash of Mad Cow disease, Downer Cow syndrome and Scrapies (diseases with parallels in humans known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)).

S-[(1,3-Dioxo-1,3-dihydro-2H-isoindol-2-yl)methyl] O,O-dimethyl phosphorothioate


In the U.S., also implicated in those diseases was the feeding of protein supplements from “rendered” diseased animals to livestock, from animals already drenched in organophosphate pesticides, causing proteins to fold into prions and resulting in the animal diseases mentioned here. Organophosphate pesticides are, we learned, cholinesterase inhibitors (more on this later) and endocrine disruptors. The misfolding of proteins into nucleic acid-free prions seems to also be related to Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and more.

When vaxxine critic Steve Kirsch similarly hypothesized that the mRNA vaxxines for Covid may be facilitating the creation of prions leading to some of the same prion diseases we saw with the mass-applications of organophosphate pesticides, Twitter banned him “for life” from communicating such thoughts to others.

In my 2003 booklet, “Got Pus? Bovine Growth Hormone and the New World Order,” I quoted Barry Commoner as saying:

“In the 1980s, Stanley Prusiner confirmed that the infectious agents that cause scrapie, mad cow disease, and similar very rare but invariably fatal human diseases are indeed nucleic-acid-free proteins (he named them prions), which replicate in an entirely unprecedented way. Invading the brain, the prion encounters a normal brain protein which it then refolds to match the prion’s distinctive three-dimensional shape. The newly refolded protein itself becomes infectious and, acting on another molecule of the normal protein, sets up a chain reaction that propagates the disease to its fatal end.” (“Unraveling the DNA Myth The Spurious Foundation of Genetic Engineering,” Harpers, Feb. 2002.)

BARRY COMMONER, Cell Biologist, Ecologist, who ran for President in 1980 with the independent Citizen’s Party he’d founded.

Prions cause infected cattle to literally develop holes in their brains, suffer seizures, fall down and die. Studies now indicate that mad cow disease is linked to the devastating Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, although this was at first stren­u­ously denied by the pharmaceutical industry and the researchers they control who twisted every which way to protect the products of their corporate employers. We are seeing outbreaks of CJD in some people following mRNA vaxxinations today, and so need to again raise the same questions

STANLEY PRUSINER, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1997, for discovery of “Prions” —  a new biological principle of infection.

Prions are able to withstand severe heat such as pasteurization and even irradiation because they contain no DNA or other nucleic acids. There is no known way to defuse them. They may incubate for 30 years, and are passed to humans who eat meat from sick cows, regardless of how well one cooks the meat.

Unlike the eating of rendered meat from cows that died of Mad Cow disease or of drinking milk from cows injected with Monsanto’s recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, the relationship of CJD to consuming milk products from sick cows has not yet been established but should be seriously considered.

The U.S. government maintains that no BSE-infected cattle have been discovered in the U.S. But, as Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn point out, the disease may have appeared in the U.S. before the 1995 outbreak in England. (St. Clair & Cockburn, “Dead Meat: Why Mad Cows Are the Least of It,” City Pages Online, April 2, 1995.)

Richard Marsh, a veterinary scientist at the University of Wisconsin, was raising the alarm about BSE in American cattle a decade earlier. In 1985. Marsh discovered an outbreak of spongiform encephalopathy at a mink farm in Wisconsin. The mink had been fed a protein supplement made from rendered cows that had reportedly died from ‘downer cow syndrome.’ Marsh believed the cows had actually succumbed to a previously undetected form of BSE.

Around 100,000 cows a year die from downer cow syndrome in the U.S. Most of these dead cows were at the time rendered into protein supplements to feed other cattle, who under normal circumstances ate grass and not meat. As Cockburn and St. Clair saw it, “if this is true, the U.S. cattle population may already be infected with BSE and American meat consumers may have already contracted CJD.”


Prions bond with copper; those molecules are carried to the brain, destroying free radi­cals along he way. So far so good. But in bodies deficient in copper, prions will bind instead with manganese, which is what causes the proteins to fold improperly and create deadly chaos.

What causes deficiencies in copper? Among other things, overdosing with zinc — a mineral so important in fighting Covid — can actually make our bodies deficient in copper and thus more susceptible to Covid and other viruses. So it is essential to take zinc as part of one’s anti-Covid regimen but not to overdose on it over extended periods. Keep zinc and small amounts of copper in balance.

Now, here’s a very interesting ribbon tying together the activities of the No Spray Coalition against pesticides with understanding how to deal with Covid. Certain environmental toxins, particularly organophosphate insect­i­cides such as the widely used Malathion and Phosmet, which were derived from nerve gas developed by the Nazis in World War 2, introduce high levels of manganese (along with other toxins) into the environment. Organo­phosphate pesticides (OPs) are, in the opinion of those challenging official claims, critical co-factors in causing Mad Cow disease and CJD. OPs are also  Cholinesterase inhibitors, and play havoc with nerve and brain functioning.

Is there a relevant synergy among the zinc, copper and manganese in the blood, and in specific organs? One area of research would be to follow up on the role of manganese in the advent of Covid-19, and deficiencies of copper and zinc, in Parkinson’s / Alzheimer’s / dementia diseases.

Also in need of further examination would be the massive applications of Monsanto’s widely used herbicide Roundup, and its main active ingredient, Glyposate, on the management of metals in the body in establishing conditions in which the SARS COV2 virus thrives. The trace minerals, so-called +2 cations such as iron, zinc, copper, cobalt, selenium, manganese and molybdenum — writes Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D and senior research scientist at MIT in a chapter of my book “The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides” (newly reissued, 2022) — “are exploited by the body to catalyze various enzymatic reactions essential for metabolism and protection from oxidative stress. These metals are, however, dangerous if they are present as free ions in the blood, because of their high reactivity. In consideration of this, the body has developed sophisticated mechanisms to hide many of these metals in transport proteins in the blood and also produces specific proteins to carry them across the cell wall for passage across the gut barrier and then later for uptake by a cell.” How this relates to Covid-19 seems a crucial area for research and assessment.

                                                                                                 by Robert Lederman

Seneff continues a prescient essay, written a few months before the pandemic but with obvious implications to the biochemistry involved: “Ironically, with chronic glyphosate poisoning can come a situation of iron-based anemia simultaneous with iron-overload toxicity, in part because glyphosate tightly binds iron, preventing its uptake into the transport protein transferrin. Glyphosate then lets go of the metal it is carrying when it reaches a terminal watershed area of the blood, such as the kidneys or the brain stem, where the pH drops, causing glyphosate to lose binding capacity. The freed-up iron then becomes toxic to the tissues.” If you’re suddenly noting: “Holy Cow! Some of that is exactly what we’re seeing with Covid,” you’d be in good company — but don’t expect the FDA to have asked those questions of the corporate manufacturers prior to granting emergency authorization for its vaxxine distribution!


Let’s return briefly to Manganese madness, whose symptoms mirror those of Mad Cow and CJD. Manganese madness is an irreversible fatal neuro-psychiatric degen­erative syndrome that plagued manganese miners in the first half of the 19th century. But thus far official researchers have ignored the probability that these are parallel diseases with the same causation, aggravated by the intense use of organophosphate pesticides reacting with prions in the meat of sick cows.

Just prior to the mad cow disease epidemic in Britain, the governments of that country and of Switzerland mandated Malathion and Phosmet skin treatments for all cattle. Phosmet was initially marketed as an agricultural pesticide by ICI, and later by their renamed subdivision, Zeneca, and is used on more than 1.1 million acres of fruit orchards in the U.S. as well as in dog collars; it has been found in the dust in homes of pesticide applicators living close to orchard farms.

As mad cow disease terrorized Britain and Switzerland (1982), organic farmer Mark Purdey performed soil analyses on the areas near clusters of CJD and found high levels of mang­anese from crop spraying. Neurobiologist David Brown at Cambridge University, concluded that Purdey’s findings in the toxic en­vironment were supported by research that he had done in the laboratory and confirmed the synergistic links.

And yet the FDA, corporate scientists and pharmaceutical com­pan­ies have thus far failed to examine the obvious relationships between genetically engin­eered hormones, prions, pesticides, novel anti-mRNA vaxxines, and Mad Cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. How is an animal’s uptake of metals such as manganese and environmental conditions consistently exposing them to organophosphates and/or glyphosate (Monsanto’s pervasive “Roundup”) making them more or less susceptible to SARS‐CoV‐2, the causative pathogen of COVID‐19? No lab­oratory studies on these synergies have been reported. Neither Monsanto nor Novartis — which manufactured Malathion, along with DDT, Clioquinol, and Ritalin, and which remains one of the world’s largest genetic engineering pharmaceutical companies — is par­tic­ularly keen on revealing research that might establish such connections. (The Bayer-Monsanto consolidation—one of the rotting legs of what physicist and world ecology advocate Vandana Shiva calls “The Poison Cartel”—came on the heels of the merger of the agricultural divisions of Dow and Dupont (now called Corteva Agriscience), and Syngenta’s merger with ChemChina. (Syngenta itself was the  outcome of the consolidation of part of Novartis with AstraZeneca.)

All of this has severe environmental, economic, and health consequences. Groundwater becomes even more polluted as mutated, drug-resistant viruses, fungus, and bacteria enter the water supply and soil, blossoming in response to the increased use of antibiotics, metals, and genetically engineered chemicals in waste run-off.

What is the relation of pollutants to the malformation of Covid spike proteins and prions eventuated by the mRNA vaccines? Where are the holistic and synergistic analyses we so desperately need before such products are authorized? And, what ever happened to the “Precautionary Principle” before approving, even in a limited emergency capacity, new and experimental vaxxines based on technological platforms never fully tested nor previously utilized?

Mitchel Cohen, Coordinator
No Spray Coalition against pesticides

Another NoSprayer added this: I have been very concerned about shedding from the vaccines. Shedding is generally thought to only occur if a vaccine contains live virus, but shedding doesn’t have to be limited to a virus. We excrete all sorts of stuff through our skin. I’ve met former pesticide applicators who were still offgassing chemicals through their skin that they hadn’t been around in months.

It is also generally believed that prion diseases are not easily transmitted, but that has been put in question. It is certainly not true among animals that are confined as ‘live stock’ by humans, and millions of cows have been slaughtered because of outbreaks and fear of spread. These are just a few articles that describe prion shedding by various routes that can affect vulnerable individuals, mostly discussed among other animal species, but not excluding the potential effect on humans:



A Possible Link to Prion Diseases and Neurodegeneration

Prion diseases are a collection of neurodegenerative diseases that are induced through the misfolding of important bodily proteins, which form toxic oligomers that eventually precipitate out as fibrils causing widespread damage to neurons. Stanley Prusiner first coined the name `prion’ to describe these misfolded proteins (Prusiner, 1982).

The best-known prion disease is MADCOW disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), which became an epidemic in European cattle beginning in the 1980s. The CDC web site on prion diseases states that “prion diseases are usually rapidly progressive and always fatal.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). It is now believed that many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be prion diseases, and researchers have identified specific proteinaceous infectious particles linked to these diseases (Weickenmeier et al., 2019).

Furthermore, researchers have identified a signature motif linked to susceptibility to misfolding into toxic oligomers, called the glycine zipper motif. It is characterized by a pattern of two glycine residues spaced by three intervening amino acids, represented as GxxxG. The bovine prion linked to MADCOW has a spectacular sequence of ten GxxxGs in a row (see

More generally, the GxxxG motif is a common feature of transmembrane proteins, and the glycines play an essential role in cross-linking α-helices in the protein (Mueller et al., 2014). Prion proteins become toxic when the α-helices misfold as β-sheets, and the protein is then impaired in its ability to enter the membrane (Prusiner, 1982). Glycines within the glycine zipper transmembrane motifs in the amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) play a central role in the misfolding of amyloid-β linked to Alzheimer’s disease (Decock et al., 2016). APP contains a total of four GxxxG motifs.
When considering that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is a transmembrane protein, and that it contains five GxxxG motifs in its sequence (see, it becomes extremely plausible that it could behave as a prion. One of the GxxxG sequences is present within its membrane fusion domain. Recall that the mRNA vaccines are designed with an altered sequence that replaces two adjacent amino acids in the fusion domain with a pair of prolines. This is done intentionally in order to force the protein to remain in its open state and make it harder for it to fuse with the membrane. This seems to us like a dangerous step towards misfolding potentially leading to prion disease.

A paper published by J. Bart Classen (2021) proposed that the spike protein in the mRNA vaccines could cause prion-like diseases, in part through its ability to bind to many known proteins and induce their misfolding into potential prions. Idrees and Kumar (2021) have proposed that the spike protein’s S1 component is prone to act as a functional amyloid and form toxic aggregates. These authors wrote that S1 has the ability “to form amyloid and toxic aggregates that can act as seeds to aggregate many of the misfolded brain proteins and can ultimately lead to neurodegeneration.”

According to Tetz and Tetz (2020), the form of the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2 has prion regions that are not present in the spike proteins for other coronaviruses. While this was reported in a nonpeer-reviewed article, the authors had published a previous paper in 2018 identifying prion-like regions in multiple eukaryotic viruses, so they have considerable expertise in this area (Tetz and Tetz, 2018).

A final point here relates to information about the Pfizer vaccine in particular. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) Public Assessment Report is a document submitted to gain approval to market the vaccine in Europe. It describes in detail a review of the manufacturing process as well as a wide range of associated testing data. One concerning revelation is the presence of “fragmented species” of RNA in the injection solution. These are RNA fragments resulting from early termination of the process of transcription from the DNA template. These fragments, if translated by the cell following injection, would generate incomplete spike proteins, again resulting in altered and unpredictable three-dimensional structure and a physiological impact that is at best neutral and at worst detrimental to cellular functioning. There were considerably more of these fragmented forms of RNA found in the commercially manufactured products than in the products used in clinical trials.

The latter were produced via a much more tightly controlled manufacturing process.

Pfizer claims the RNA fragments “likely… will not result in expressed proteins” due to their assumed rapid degradation within the cell. No data was presented to rule out protein expression,
though, leaving the reviewers to comment, “These [fragmented RNA] forms are poorly characterised, and the limited data provided for protein expression do not fully address the uncertainties relating to the risk of translating proteins/peptides other than the intended spike protein” (EMA 2020). To our knowledge no data has been forthcoming since that time.

While we are not asserting that non-spike proteins generated from fragmented RNA would be misfolded or otherwise pathological, we believe they would at least contribute to the cellular stress that promotes prion-associated conformational changes in the spike protein that is present.

1. Lessons from Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease associated with Lewy body deposits in the brain, and the main protein found in these Lewy bodies is α-synuclein. That protein, α-Synuclein, is certainly prion-like insofar as under certain conditions it aggregates into toxic soluble oligomers and fibrils (Lema Tomé et al., 2013).

Research has shown that misfolded α-synuclein can form first in the gut and then travel from there to the brain along the vagus nerve, probably in the form of exosomes released from dying cells where the misfolded protein originated (Kakarla et al., 2020; Steiner et al., 2011).

The cellular conditions that promote misfolding include both an acidic pH and high expression of inflammatory cytokines. It is clear that the vagus nerve is critical for transmission of misfolded proteins to the brain, because severance of the vagus nerve protects from Parkinson’s. Vagus nerve atrophy in association with Parkinson’s disease provides further evidence of the involvement of the vagus nerve in transport of misfolded α-synuclein oligomers from the gut to the brain (Walter et al., 2018).

Another pathway is through the olfactory nerve, and a loss of a sense of smell is an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. Ominously, diminution or loss of the sense of smell is also a common symptom of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

There are many parallels between α-synuclein and the spike protein, suggesting the possibility of prion-like disease following vaccination. We have already shown that the mRNA in the vaccine ends up in high concentrations in the liver and spleen, two organs that are well connected to the vagus nerve. The cationic lipids in the vaccine create an acidic pH conducive to misfolding, and they also induce a strong inflammatory response, another predisposing condition.

Germinal centers are structures within the spleen and other secondary lymphoid organs where follicular dendritic cells present antigens to B cells, which in turn perfect their antibody response. Researchers have shown that mRNA vaccines, in contrast with recombinant protein vaccines, elicit a robust development of neutralizing antibodies at these germinal centers in the spleen (Lederer et al., 2020). However, this also means that mRNA vaccines induce an ideal situation for prion formation from the spike protein, and its transport via exosomes along the vagus nerve to the brain.

Studies have shown that prion spread from one animal to another first appears in the lymphoid tissues, particularly the spleen. Differentiated follicular dendritic cells are central to the process, as they accumulate misfolded prion proteins (Al-Dybiat et al., 2019).

An inflammatory response upregulates synthesis of α-synuclein in these dendritic cells, increasing the risk of prion formation. Prions that accumulate in the cytoplasm are packaged up into lipid bodies that are released as exosomes (Liu et al., 2017). These exosomes eventually travel to the brain, causing disease.

2. Vaccine Shedding
There has been considerable chatter on the Internet about the possibility of vaccinated people causing disease in unvaccinated people in close proximity. While this may seem hard to believe, there is a plausible process by which it could occur through the release of exosomes from dendritic cells in the spleen containing misfolded spike proteins, in complex with other prion reconformed proteins. These exosomes can travel to distant places. It is not impossible to imagine that they are being released from the lungs and inhaled by a nearby person. Extracellular vesicles, including exosomes, have been detected in sputum, mucus, epithelial lining fluid, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid in association with respiratory diseases (Lucchetti et al., 2021).

A Phase 1/2/3 study undertaken by BioNTech on the Pfizer mRNA vaccine implied in their study protocol that they anticipated the possibility of secondary exposure to the vaccine (BioNTech,
2020). The protocol included the requirement that “exposure during pregnancy” should be reported by the study participants.

They then gave examples of “environmental exposure during pregnancy” which included exposure “to the study intervention by inhalation or skin contact.” They even suggested two levels of indirect exposure: “A male family member or healthcare provider who has been exposed to the study intervention by inhalation or skin contact then exposes his female partner prior to or around the time of conception.”


from Worse Than the Disease? Reviewing Some Possible Unintended Consequences of the mRNA Vaccines Against COVID-19
by Stephanie Seneff and Greg Nigh

International Journal of Vaccine Theory, Practice, and Research 2(1), May 10, 2021

Stephanie Seneff is a Computer Scientist in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT, Cambridge MA, 02139, USA, E-mail:
Greg Nigh is a Naturopathic Oncologist, Immersion Health, Portland, OR 97214, USA



Soon we shall be covered by wheat.

Did you say, wheat?

Wheat, wheat.

– from Woody Allen’s “Love and Death”[1]

Ten months before Russian troops poured into Ukraine, that country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a bill into law authorizing the private sale of farmland, reversing a moratorium that had been in place since 2001.

An earlier administration in Ukraine had instituted the moratorium in order to halt further privatization of The Commons and small farms, which were being bought up by oligarchs and concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. As documented in a series of critical reports over ten years by the Oakland Institute based in California, the moratorium on land sales in Ukraine aimed to prevent the acquisition and consolidation of farmland in the hands of the domestic oligarch class and foreign corporations.

The marketization of farmland is part of a series of policy “reforms” that the International Monetary Fund stipulated as a precondition enabling Ukraine to receive $8 billion in loans from the IMF.[2]

Ukrainians protest privatization of land in December 2020.

Even amid the pandemic there has been “wide-ranging opposition from the Ukrainian public to reversing that ban, with over 64 percent of the people opposed to the creation of a land market, according to an April 2021 poll.”[3]

Additionally, the IMF loan conditions required that Ukraine must also reverse its ban on genetically engineered crops, and enable private corporations like Monsanto to plant their GMO seeds and spray the fields with Monsanto’s Roundup. In that way, Monsanto hopes to break the boycott by a number of countries in Europe of its genetically engineered corn and soy.


It is the thesis of this essay that agricultural competition over land use systems between the U.S. and Russia—two gigantic capitalist countries with the most powerful nuclear arsenals in the world—is a neglected but important force driving the war in Ukraine.

The U.S. government has for the last decade wrestled with Russia over who controls the energy pipelines through Ukraine into Europe, and in what currency costs for that so-called “natural” gas and oil are to be paid. At the same time, the war’s disruption of Ukraine’s wheat harvest and the historic droughts hitting the U.S.’s “wheat belt” have driven the cost of bread around the world through the roof. United Nations officials are making dire predictions concerning the world’s supply of grain.

Sign specifying that this field near the city of Nizhyn has
been contaminated by land mines. [Source:]

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, world food commodity prices made a significant leap in March 2022 to reach their highest levels ever, rising 12.6% in that month alone as war in the Black Sea region shocked the markets dependent on staple grains and vegetable oils.[4] Global wheat prices rose by 19.7%, vegetable oil by 23.2%, and grains 20.4%. In Tunisia and in other countries, cooking oil, semolina, and rice have all but disappeared from grocery stores, and flour shortages have led to a run on bakeries.[5]

In the Middle East, millions who already spend more than a third of their income on food, are being hit hardest by the war’s impact on the global food supply. Yet UN agencies have begun to divert sacks of grain that had been earmarked for other war zones to the Ukraine, leaving the people of Yemen and refugees from many areas in desperation.[6]

In peaceful times Ukraine harvests 80 million metric tons (MMT) of grain—a category that includes wheat, corn, barley, rice and millet. Between them Russia and Ukraine supply more than 25% of the world’s wheat. Russia recently overtook the U.S. and Canada to become the leading wheat-exporting country in the world; Ukraine is the world’s 6th largest exporter of wheat.


But this year, Ukraine’s harvest will likely reach less than half the norm. “A single MMT of wheat…is enough to feed every person in Europe for about two days, or the entire population of Africa for about a day and a half.…A country like the UK could only make it up by having everyone stop eating for three years. That’s the thing about tonnes of grain: a million here and a million there and pretty soon you’ve got a real issue on your plate.”[7]

People in France or Italy were never expecting to have any Ukrainian wheat shipped to them at all; but they are now competing against Egyptians and Moroccans, who are now suddenly looking for new sources of bread.[8]

The grains are not only used for bread and flour, but also for alcohol, fuel, and for feeding animals.[9] With more than half the tonnage grown in Ukraine last year never intended to be used for direct human consumption, shortages will impact other parts of the economy too.[10]

The Communist Party of Greece points out that “the military conflict in Ukraine is the result of the sharpening of competition between the two warring camps, primarily focused on spheres of influence, market shares, raw materials, energy plans and transport routes; competition which can no longer be resolved by diplomatic-political means and fragile compromises.”[11]

How much of the predicted food system collapse is a result of the war’s disruption of grain harvests, and—a question few in the U.S. mainstream media are asking—how much are skyrocketing food prices caused by plain old capitalist rivalry between two of the main grain-exporting countries of the world?

Competing systems for growing crops

U.S. agriculture relies on two main inputs: migrant farm labor and the monocropping of genetically engineered corn, soy, and other crops designed to tolerate—and thus be saturated with—Monsanto’s cancer-causing herbicide Roundup. The government’s regulatory process is broken, if it ever worked properly at all: Corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, Novartis, BASF and the other pesticide and pharmaceutical manufacturers are allowed to mask the truth about the dangers of their products.

They are facilitated in this by the complicity of federal (and global) regulatory agencies, allowing them to intentionally thwart the Precautionary Principle. Where the introduction of a new product or process whose ultimate effects are disputed or unknown, that product or process should be rejected. We need to support the development of international movements opposing the subservience of government agencies to the giant corporations.[12]


Six years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to seize economic opportunities around the growing of food by opposing genetically engineered agriculture and Monsanto’s Roundup, the world’s most widely used herbicide; he initiated a program to eliminate pesticides and genetically engineered crops from Russia’s fields. The goal was to out-compete the U.S. and Canada as the world’s number one and two grain exporters by going organic, which mattered especially in Europe with its stricter laws regarding the import and planting of GMOs.

Monsanto had planned to open its first plant in Russia,[13] but in June 2016 Russia’s State Duma adopted a government bill banning the cultivation and breeding of genetically modified plants and animals, except as used for scientific research purposes.[14] A few weeks later, Putin signed federal law No. 358 prohibiting cultivation of genetically engineered crops. The law also made it illegal to breed genetically engineered animals on the territory of the Russian Federation.[15]


Putin had said he envisioned a future in which Russia would become “the world’s largest supplier of ecologically clean and high-quality organic food.”[16] He called on the country to become completely self-sufficient in food production: “We are not only able to feed ourselves taking into account our lands, water resources; Russia is able to become the largest world supplier of healthful, ecologically clean and high-quality food which the Western producers have long lost, especially given the fact that demand for such products in the world market is steadily growing.”[17]

The 2016 laws were designed to implement Putin’s earlier proposals “to protect the Russian market and consumers from GMO products, as their use could have unforeseen consequences.”[18]

As reported in Farmers Weekly in June 2015, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich announced that Russia would not use GM technology to increase productivity in agriculture. “Russia has chosen a different path. We will not use these technologies,” Dvorkovich said.

As a result of this decision, Russian products will be “some of the cleanest in the world in terms of technology use,” Dvorkovich continued. A bill for a full ban on the cultivation of GM crops is currently making its way through the Duma.[19]

Arkady Dvorkovich [Source:]

Farmers Weekly continues: “Russian agriculture minister Nikolai Fyodorov also believes Russia must remain a GM-free country. At a meeting of deputies representing rural areas organized by United Russia, he said the government will not ‘poison their citizens.’”[20] United Russia is Russia’s largest political party, holding 2/3 of the seats in the state Dumas.

This was a far different response than provided by the government of Ukraine. Despite large protests against GMOs and the foreign corporate land grab, and despite the fact that Ukrainian law had prohibited private sector farmland ownership, Ukraine’s government negotiated a multi-billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund that stipulated a removal of the blocks to GMO production that was “transforming millions of pristine acres into [a] poisoned wasteland. Eco-genocide for profit. Monsanto’s dirty hands are hugely involved.”[21]


Ukraine’s agricultural success is crucial for its economy and ability to reduce its dependence on Russia, the New York TImes explained in May 2014. The Times continued:

““Western interests are pressing for change… As part of (an IMF loan agreement), the country’s government must push through business reforms that” let agribusiness and other corporate sectors operate freely.

In a recent article for The Real Agenda News, Luis R. Miranda takes it a step further: “Big multinationals want to exploit Ukraine’s potential. Especially Europe’s richest farmland.”

In retaliation for Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis back in August 2015, Russia extended its list of countries that it would subject to a food import ban.[23] Far from the sanctions hurting Russia’s economy, as Monsanto and other pesticide-producing corporations expected (and hoped), over the decade Russia succeeded in its plan to become the world’s number one exporter of wheat and other grains. Putin claimed that Russia’s success in that regard was due in part to the preference of much of the world for non-GMO food.[24]

Russia emerged as a top grain exporter because of the 
world’s preference for non-GMO food. [Source:]

The United States, on the other hand, uses genetically engineered crops (and now trees), and the pesticides and fertilizer they require, as weapons, breaking up the indigenous communities in Mexico, for example, disrupting the economies of other countries and forcing them into dependency.[25] Even U.S. food aid to the victims of the tsunamis in the South Pacific and to earthquake victims in Pakistan and Haiti was genetically engineered and saturated with pesticides. One result of the U.S. “police action” in Somalia in 1992 was the imposition of thousands of acres of genetically modified cassava, uprooting local communities.[26]

In the last 30 years, the takeover of domestic agriculture by GMO crops has been part of U.S. war efforts. Following the U.S. “shock-and-awe” bombing of Iraq in 2003, L. Paul Bremer—the U.S.-appointed administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq—issued Order 81. Officially titled “Amendments to Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law,” the edict prohibited farmers from saving seeds from genetically engineered crops, and made it illegal for them to replant those seeds, thereby serving as enforcer of Monsanto’s patents.

L. Paul Bremer [Source:]

Bremer’s edict was part and parcel of the IMF’s “structural adjustment program” (SAP)—the subject of major protests in Ukraine 11 years later in 2014. The IMF’s SAPs mandated the purchase and planting of Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds as part of its requirement before allowing for the ending of military hostilities, opening up Iraqi agriculture to the cultivation of GMO crops.[27]

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the author of much of U.S. foreign policy, portrayed American aid this way: “To give food aid to a country just because they are starving is a pretty weak reason.”[28] For Kissinger, the withholding of food as well as its selective distribution is to be used as a weapon in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives.

Henry Kissinger [Source:]

And so, the United States systematically dumps cheap genetically engineered products saturated with pesticides on foreign markets, undermining local producers and forcing them to purchase the patented seeds from the company manufacturing them, along with the pesticides needed to kill off the plants’ weedy competitors.[29] Uprooted from their lands, local producers become dependent on the United States and its corporations, and many try to flee across the border to the United States.

In his 2001 book, A Cook’s Tour, chef Anthony Bourdain presented a very unexpected take on Kissinger, one worth savoring:

“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia—the fruits of his genius for statesmanship—and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.”[30]

One note on Milošević and Kissinger: As brilliant a quote as this is by Anthony Bourdain, to compare Milošević with mass-murderer Henry Kissinger is an error. Milošević was posthumously cleared of all crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which after his death ruled in 2016—contrary to years of U.S. and particularly Germany’s denunciations—that there was no evidence that Milošević had “participated in the realization of the common criminal objective” and that he “and other Serbian leaders openly criticized Bosnian Serb leaders of committing crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing and the war for their own purposes” during the Bosnian War.[31]

With the advent and proliferation of genetically modified crops in the 1980s—a technology intimately tied to the widespread application of pesticides and in particular Monsanto’s Roundup—the tentacles of globalization expanded outward into control of the world’s food supply. Those private commercial patents were (and continue to be) enforced by U.S. military power.

Leticia Gonçalves [Source:]

And so, Leticia Gonçalves, for ten years the head of Monsanto’s operations in Europe and the Middle East, was not worrying over the new Russian anti-GMO and pesticides laws. “We still believe that Ukraine and Russia both are long-term opportunities for our business and we want to make sure we are in a position to accelerate our business growth despite the short-term geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges,” she said.[32]

Such longer term strategic views are not usually part of U.S. thinking; they might more readily be associated with China’s command-economy strategists, who plan ahead for 20, 50, and even 100 years. And yet, here we see a shift within capitalist planning. Today, Gonçalves oversees leading GMO exporter Archer Daniels Midland’s ancient grains, seeds and edible beans, and is a member of ADM’s Executive Council.

Monsanto Is the Devil and the Devil Must Be Slain. But It’s Not the Only One

In the U.S., powerful figures such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, former President Barack Obama, and current President Joe Biden have rejected the demands of the anti-GMO coalitions.

A picture containing text, person, outdoor, building Description automatically generated
Reverend Billy Talen, Savitri B. and the Church of Stop Shopping Choir.

Fed up with the pharmaceutical/agribusiness company lies, movements like “Millions Against Monsanto,” networks like the “Organic Consumers Association,” dynamic “artivists” such as Rev. Billy and his “Church of Stop Shopping Choir” (whose performances of “Monsanto Is the Devil” galvanized New York audiences for weeks on end), and the movement for community-supported agriculture coalesced family farmers and anti-corporate activists.

They exposed the government agencies’ revolving door—an arrangement whereby the giant agriculture and pharmaceutical corporations place their hirelings onto U.S. regulatory boards such as the Food and Drug Administration. Monsanto’s lackeys in government write their own laws and block even tepid demands for labeling of GMO products, at Monsanto’s behest.[33]

March against Monsanto in Vancouver in 2013. [Source:]

Billionaire Bill Gates—a major investor in Monsanto and proponent of genetic engineering (as well as experimental vaccines in the so-called “Third World”)—seized the opportunities he envisioned (and created) regarding a future of massive food shortages in global grain production, that we are seeing today; Gates began buying up acre after acre of farmland on which to grow GM crops.


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used taxpayer money to stomp all over the world promoting Monsanto’s controversial GM seeds; she mouthed the industry’s talking points as though they were gospel.[34] The Clinton State Department intervened at Monsanto’s request “to undermine legislation that might restrict sales of genetically engineered seeds.”[35]


Clinton was so gung-ho in promoting GMOs that Mother Jones writer Tom Philpott called her department “the de facto global-marketing arm of the ag-biotech industry.” Meanwhile, Gates has become the largest private individual owner of farmland in the U.S. and Clinton, while losing her campaign for the U.S. presidency to Donald Trump in 2016, received hundreds of thousands of dollars from GMO manufacturers for speeches she delivered.[36]

Key pieces of information regarding the U.S. government’s worldwide pressure tactics (including the use of its military) on behalf of Monsanto’s patented seeds exploded onto the internet via thousands of cables “liberated” by current political prisoner Julian Assange. The cables Assange published—some of which I have described in more detail in “‘The World’s Most Evil Company’ May Lose a Few Court Fights—But Will Keep On Poisoning and Killing Millions of People with Its Carcinogenic Pesticide Roundup,’”[37]—revealed massive U.S. government attempts on behalf of Monsanto and the other biotech corporations, twisting arms of government regulatory bodies throughout the world, along with planting its agents in movements to squelch opposition to GMOs.

The cables showed U.S. diplomats bringing financial, diplomatic, and even military pressure on behalf of Monsanto and other biotech corporations.

[Source: Courtesy of John Jonik]

Where Is Nestor Makhno Now That We Really Need Him?

Back in Europe, Monsanto’s Leticia Gonçalves was counting on Russia being forced to yield its opposition to Monsanto and support for organic agriculture; inter-capitalist rivalries and the U.S. military (and its control of NATO) would put the squeeze on Putin’s anti-Monsanto bluster, and make the world—or at least Russia—safe for Monsanto’s Democracy. And it appears she was right. By the end of February 2017, less than two years after Russia banned the cultivation of genetically engineered plants and animals, the first Monsanto factory was nevertheless allowed to open in the Kirov region near the village of October (Zuyevsky District).

“We have been waiting for Monsanto on the Kirov lands for a long time and have been working systematically for several years,” said marketing expert Igor Vasilyev, who now serves as the Governor of the region. Its former governor, Nikita Belykh, is a “liberal” in the Russian context—a long-time critic of Vladimir Putin and at least in theory a supporter of more human rights in Russia.

But Belykh allowed himself to be appointed by Putin to government office in the Kirov area 500 miles away from his home in Moscow where, according to Russian scientist Boris Ikhlov, writing from the State University of Perm, Belykh brokered the deal allowing Monsanto to set up shop in Russia.[38] Belykh was arrested in 2016 and has been serving an eight-year prison sentence for accepting a large cash bribe.

Nikita Belykh [Source:]

A number of Russian intellectuals understandably merge their opposition to Putin’s rule with involvement in “human rights” groups, but they do not stop there. They also bring into the ideological mix ardent support for neoliberal “progress,” as exemplified by their applause for Monsanto and the genetic engineering of agriculture.

According to Ikhlov, the liberal intelligentsia “sought to re-assure the Russian people that GMOs are safe and challenged the government’s anti-GMO policies.…Russian supporters of GMOs cite a list of hundreds of works in which the harmlessness of GMOs is allegedly proved. The list is on the Internet, but there is no text of any of these works. I wrote a letter to the Italian authors of this list, asking them to give me a link where I could find out more about each scientific article from the list. The Italians gave me a link, and it turned out that in this list there is not a single work dedicated to proving the harmlessness of GMOs.”[39]

Ikhlov illustrates the case of a member of the board of a main “human rights” organization funded by U.S. “donations,” who was a proponent of expanded civil liberties in Russia and who at the same time tied his critique of Putin’s human rights policies to supporting Monsanto’s biotechnologically engineered seeds and privatization of agriculture. (I have removed his name and affiliation, as well as other examples that Ikhlov provided, awaiting independent confirmation.) Many liberal Russian intellectuals, Ikhlov says, ended up supporting the Zelensky government in Kyiv, which today has strong ties to Monsanto despite public protests for many years against it.

Convoluted? Yes. Especially as the politics of neoliberalism express themselves through what at first may seem to be “human and scientific progress” in biotechnology and opposition to centralized political rule. So how can we disentangle these threads? Looking at the reality of the institutions of global capitalist domination—imperialism—should help.

“The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) is [sic] helping biotech run the latest war in Ukraine,” writes Christina Sarich in Natural Society. “Make no mistake that what is happening in the Ukraine now is deeply tied to the interests of Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, and other big players in the poison food game.”[40]

Exposed by the California-based Oakland Institute in 2014, the World Bank and IMF provided a loan of $17 billion to Ukraine.[41]

Hidden from mainstream media exposure in the U.S., the World Bank and IMF loan “has opened up Ukraine to major corporate inroads,” writes Joyce Nelson in The Ecologist. “Loan conditions are forcing the deeply indebted country to open up to GMO crops, and lift the ban on private sector land ownership. U.S. corporations are jubilant at the ‘goldmine’ that awaits them.”[42]

It is worth reading more from this 2014 report in The Ecologist—years before Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022. The information provided is shocking—and unreported here in the U.S. While some in the U.S. understand that the 2014 political battles in Ukraine were over the expansion of NATO and control over energy pipelines to Europe,[43] there was, and still is, an equally large but hidden global battle over GM grains, land ownership and usage, and “food pipelines.”

In late 2013, the then president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, rejected a European Union association agreement tied to the $17 billion IMF loan, whose terms are only now being revealed.

Writing in The Ecologist in September 2014, Joyce Nelson examines the IMF-Ukraine loan packages in great detail. The next few paragraphs below are taken directly from that report:

Instead, Yanukovych chose a Russian aid package worth $15 billion plus a discount on Russian natural gas. His decision was a major factor in the ensuing deadly protests that led to his ouster from office in February 2014 and the ongoing crisis.

According to the Oakland Institute, “Whereas Ukraine does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, Article 404 of the EU agreement, which relates to agriculture, includes a clause that has generally gone unnoticed: it indicates, among other things, that both parties will cooperate to extend the use of biotechnologies.

“There is no doubt that this provision meets the expectations of the agribusiness industry. As observed by Michael Cox, research director at the investment bank Piper Jaffray, ‘Ukraine and, to a wider extent, Eastern Europe, are among the most promising growth markets for farm-equipment giant Deere, as well as seed producers Monsanto and DuPont.’”

Ukrainian law bars farmers from growing GM crops. Long considered “the bread basket of Europe,” Ukraine’s rich black soil is ideal for growing grains, and in 2012 Ukrainian farmers harvested more than 20 million tons of corn.”

Monsanto’s “non-GMO” $140m investment

The excerpt here from Joyce Nelson’s Ecologist article, concludes with: In May 2013, Monsanto announced plans to invest $140 million in a non-GMO corn seed plant in Ukraine, with Monsanto Ukraine spokesman Vitaliy Feschuk confirming that “We will be working with conventional seeds only” because “in Ukraine only conventional seeds are allowed for production and importation.”

But by November 2013, six large Ukrainian agriculture associations had prepared draft amendments to the law, pushing for “creating, testing, transportation and use of GMOs regarding the legalization of GM seeds.”[44]

The Oakland Institute report and Nelson’s story in The Ecologist are devastating, and reveal what (to us) are the intense intra-capitalist rivalries that have exploded into open warfare in Ukraine.

Nor does it end there. The U.S. non-profit Food & Water Watch combed through five years of cables from 2005 to 2009 released by WikiLeaks revealing U.S. State Department pressuring governments worldwide on behalf of Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations like DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow. On May 14, 2013, it released its report, “Biotech Ambassadors: How the U.S. State Department Promotes the Seed Industry’s Global Agenda.”[45]:

“The U.S. State Department has lobbied foreign governments to adopt pro-agricultural biotechnology policies and laws, operated a rigorous public relations campaign to improve the image of biotechnology, and challenged commonsense biotechnology safeguards and rules – even including opposing laws requiring the labeling of genetically-engineered (GE) foods.”

According to (March 16, 2014), Morgan Williams is at “the nexus of Big Ag’s alliance with U.S. foreign policy.”[46]

Besides being president and CEO of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council, Williams is Director of Government Affairs at private equity firm SigmaBleyzer, which touts Williams’ work with “various agencies of the U.S. government, members of Congress, congressional committees, the Embassy of Ukraine to the U.S., international financial institutions, think tanks and other organizations on U.S.-Ukraine business, trade, investment and economic development issues.”

Morgan Williams, president and CEO of U.S.-Ukraine Business Council. [Source:]

The U.S.-Ukraine Business Council’s 16-member Executive Committee is packed with U.S. agribusiness companies, including representatives from Monsanto, John Deere, DuPont Pioneer, Eli Lilly, and Cargill.

The Council’s 20 “senior Advisers include James Greene (former head of NATO Liaison Office Ukraine); Ariel Cohen (Senior Research Fellow for The Heritage Foundation); Leonid Kozachenko (President of the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation); six former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine, and the former ambassador of Ukraine to the U.S., Oleh Shamshur.

Shamshur is now a senior adviser to PBN Hill + Knowlton Strategies—a unit of PR giant Hill + Knowlton Strategies (H+K). H + K is a subsidiary of the gargantuan London-based WPP Group, which owns some dozen big PR firms, including Burson-Marsteller (a long-time Monsanto adviser).[47]

Oleh Shamshur [Source:]

Hill + Knowlton, one might recall, orchestrated the phony “incubator” testimony to Congress in 1990, which became the pretext for sending thousands of U.S. soldiers into battle and bombing the hell out of Iraq. The PR firm invented the infamous yellow ribbon campaign, to whip up support for “our” troops. In pure advertising terms, the war campaign was a public relations masterpiece. First 15-year-old Nayirah’s unchallenged testimony about having witnessed babies pulled from incubators and left on the floor, then the yellow ribbon campaign, and then the claim that satellite photos revealed that Iraq had troops poised to strike Saudi Arabia—all fabricated by the PR firm, with the support of the U.S. government.[48]


As I wrote at that time in HOW PROPAGANDA WORKS, 101: Yellow-Ribboning the Lies: How George Bush Sold the 1991 Bombing of Iraq to America,[49] Hill + Knowlton was paid between $12 million (as reported two years later on 60 Minutes) and $20 million (as reported on 20/20) for “services rendered” for its Iraq fictions. The group fronting the money? Citizens for a Free Kuwait, a phony “human rights agency” set up and funded entirely by Kuwait’s emirocracy to promote the war to a gullible U.S. population.

Yet, even though these facts are now well known, the myths persist, and are reinforced in order to continue the perpetual drumbeat of war against Iraq, and now against Russia and Ukraine. (“Oh, but this time it’s different,” we’re told.) A 2003 HBO “behind-the-scenes true story” of the Gulf War never makes clear that the incubator story was fraudulent, and in fact had been managed by an American PR firm, not Iraq.

Poster promoting “Free Kuwait” movement. [Source:]

“Curiously, however, the truth seems to have been clear to Robert Wiener, the former CNN producer who co-wrote Live from Baghdad. As he explained to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (11/21/02), ‘That story turned out to be false because those accusations were made by the daughter of the Kuwaiti minister of information and were never proven.’ Unfortunately, HBO viewers won’t know that when they see the film.”[50]

“[W]hen Hill + Knowlton masterminded the Kuwaiti campaign to sell the Gulf War to the American public, the owners of this highly effective propaganda machine were residing in another country,” the United Kingdom, writes Sharon Beder and Richard Gosden in PR Watch. “Should this give some pause for thought? Does it demonstrate a certain potential for the future exercise of global political power…. the power to manipulate democratic political processes through managing public opinion”?[51]

Hill + Knowlton demonstrated 31 years ago that, when it comes to facts, the truth can be bought and sold to the highest bidder regardless of the consequences for U.S. soldiers, Iraqi civilians and indeed the idea of whether real democracy could exist under such manipulative circumstances.[52]

[Source: Photo courtesy of Mitchel Cohen]

Hill + Knowlton Strategies

Joyce Nelson continues in The Ecologist, noting that on April 15, 2014, Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper published an op-ed piece by H+K assistant consultant Olga Radchenko. The piece railed against Russian President Vladimir Putin and “Mr. Putin’s PR machine” and stated that

“Last month [March 2014—a month after the coup], a group of Kiev-based PR professionals formed the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre, a voluntary operation aimed at helping to communicate Ukraine’s image and manage its messaging on the global stage.”

The PBN Hill + Knowlton Strategies website states that company CEO Myron Wasylyk is “a Board member of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council,” and the company’s Managing Director/Ukraine, Oksana Monastyrska, “leads the firm’s work for Monsanto.” Monastyrska also formerly worked for the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.

According to the Oakland Institute, the terms of the World Bank/IMF loan to Ukraine have already led to “an increase in foreign investment, which is likely to result in further expansion of large-scale acquisitions of agricultural land by foreign companies and further corporatization of agriculture in the country.”

Nelson concludes her absolutely crucial 2014 investigative report in The Ecologist with the following prescient warning:

“Now the company is involved in fomenting a Cold War 2 or worse, and on behalf of Monsanto—recently voted the ‘most evil’ corporation on the planet. That’s something to recall in the midst of the extensive mainstream media demonizing of Putin.[53]


Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine has both obscured and heightened the competition between the GMO/non-GMO modalities for the export of grains and the use of vast acreage of land for GMO cultivation, just as it is a direct outgrowth of the more obvious fight between the U.S. and Russia over who controls the energy pipelines to Europe.[54]

One important consequence of the U.S.’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—the administration of sanctions on Russia accepted by many countries in Europe, but not in Asia or South America—is the driving up of the costs of fuel, fertilizer, pasta and bread throughout the world, as well as increasing farmers’ economic insecurities which threaten consistent and dependable food production. Add to that, perhaps, the recent explosions, fires, and plane crashes at nearly two dozen food processing facilities across Canada and the U.S.[55]


Also driving up prices in the U.S. are large, sudden and unexpected mandates reducing available railroad transport of nitrogen fertilizers, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and other farm-related materiel, just in time for spring planting season.[56]

Russia, which manufactures much of the world’s fertilizer (estimated at 25%), derives it—along with the energy pipelined to Europe—from fracked “natural” gas. Fracking—banned now in New York State, but not in Pennsylvania or in other states—is as environmentally destructive in Russia as it is everywhere else.[57]

There was a moment a few years ago when things might have gone differently when, along with the marketing of organic foods, came opposition to the use of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides (part of the definition of what in Europe is meant by what it means to be “organic”). But with Russia now as fully invested in “mainstream” corporate agricultural technology as the U.S., that hope is greatly diminished.

Sanctions’ Unexpected Consequences

On March 27, 2020, Russia’s Minister of Agriculture signed Order #160 that establishes a process for registering genetically engineered (GE) events for feed use “making it possible for those events to be imported after registration.”

However, the existing mechanism for registration of GE products for food use is still in effect. As of October, 2020 Russia continues to ban cultivating and breeding GE plants and animals.[58]

Still, in Russia, just as it is in the U.S., the ideology of industrial modernization is disguised as “progress.” Individuals and social movements are portrayed as “anti-progress,” which trivializes opposition to the imposition of the IMF’s neoliberal structural adjustment programs. Today in Russia food regulation is virtually non-existent. Sausages, fish, mineral water, wines, chocolate and even bread are adulterated.[59] Diabetes is rampant. And the liberal intelligentsia use the cover of “scientific progress” to dispense support for Monsanto and its genetically modified agriculture—a hallmark of the IMF’s structural adjustment programs.

United Nations World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley, who oversees international aid to refugees, warns that his agency is out of money. “We need a billion dollars for the next six months and we have just a little over 10 percent of that,” he warns.[60]

That is an amount that the wealthier countries of the world could make up in a heartbeat … if they really cared about the suffering of people in Ukraine, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere. It is chicken feed compared to the amounts President Biden has asked Congress to provide. They could end this war (and most wars, such as the bombing of Yemen) on the spin of a dime, instead of perpetuating it.

But they would rather keep the fight going over who controls the energy pipelines to Europe, as well as whether to allow genetically engineered crops in Ukraine—among other decisions and actions that Russia, Ukraine, Europe, and the U.S. have been dancing to.

In June 2020, “the IMF approved an 18-month, $5 billion loan program with Ukraine,” writes the Bretton Woods Project. The Ukraine government lift[ed] the 19-year moratorium on the sale of state-owned agricultural lands, after sustained pressure from international finance institutions (see Observer Winter 2019). Olena Borodina with the Ukrainian Rural Development Network commented that, “the agribusiness interests and oligarchs will be the primary beneficiaries of such reform…[This] will only further marginalize smallholder farmers and risks severing them from their most valuable resource.”[61]

Ukraine saw several large protests against the privatization of its land and agriculture.

A bill lifting the moratorium was passed in an emergency Parliamentary session in March. According to a May press release by U.S.-based think-tank the Oakland Institute, this coincided with mandatory Covid-19 stay-at-home orders in place across the country, “effectively quelling potential protests or demonstrations.”

U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia reflect the return of U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski’s geo-political Cold War strategems—what he termed the “Grand Chessboard.”[62] While Ukraine’s Zelensky government welcomed the IMF and World Bank’s stipulations insisting on the growing of Monsanto’s GM crops, it is not clear at the time of this writing how tightly Putin and the Russian Duma are willing to chain Russia to existing relations with Monsanto/Bayer and the technologies of the genetic engineering of agriculture.

On the one hand, the war has driven Russia further away from its prior anti-GMO policies, even though one could surmise that its new relationship with Monsanto would be negated by the sanctions and push Russia back into the “organic food” direction. But the Russian government seems now willing to forego its potential market for organic crops and energy in Europe, blocked by the sanctions, and pivot to China.

China has been driven closer to Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine—especially as the potentially huge market opens for Russia’s products there and in other Asian countries which do not claim the same strictures on how food is grown.

As I had written earlier, it is complicated, with several different forces at play. We never hear about the Oakland Institute’s May 2020 analysis[63] in U.S. mainstream corporate media, nor even on some erstwhile “Left” media like Democracy Now. Who would know, in the U.S., that “on April 28, 2020, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a bill into law authorizing the sale of farmland in Ukraine, lifting a moratorium that has been in place since 2001. This bill is part of a series of policy reforms upon which the IMF conditioned its $8 billion loan package.

“Amidst an ongoing economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented street protests against the lifting of the moratorium by Ukrainians who are overwhelmingly opposed to the law.”[64]

The Oakland Institute concludes that “opening the sale of land will benefit Western agribusiness interests and oligarchs who will now further consolidate ownership of land and intensify large-scale, industrial agriculture in ‘Europe’s Breadbasket,’ at the expense of Ukrainian farmers. While conditionalities accompanying Western foreign assistance are common practice, the way Ukraine has been forced to put its land for sale has no precedent in modern history.”[65]

Meanwhile, the World Food Program’s David Beasley’s appeal to push the politics aside to help the world’s children is especially gut-wrenching…and ignored, unless it serves some immediate ideological purpose: “Don’t make us make decisions between taking food from the children in Ukraine to the children in Yemen,” Beasley pleads.[66] But that is exactly what the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine sectors of the world’s capitalist class are doing.

[Source: Photo courtesy of Mitchel Cohen]

  1. Diane Keaton, in Woody Allen’s Love and Death,
  2. Oakland Institute,Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict,” July 28, 2014; and also, Oakland Institute, Ben Reicher and Frederic Mousseau, “Who Really Benefits from the Creation of a Land Market in Ukraine?” August 6, 2021.
  3. Ben Reicher and Frederic Mousseau, Oakland Institute, ibid.
  4. FAO report, April 8, 2022. .
  5. Taylor Luck, Ahmed Ellali, and Hamada Elrasam, “Ukraine war food crisis hits Arab world markets, right at Ramadan,” Christian Science Monitor, April 13, 2022.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Hana Trollman, “Ukraine produced a lot of grain – can farmers elsewhere replace the crops lost to war?” The Conversation, April 12, 2022
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Communist Party of Greece, as published in “The Ukraine war: A view from South Africa,” CPUSA
  12. Mitchel Cohen, The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides (New York: Skyhorse, 2019, reissued 2022).
  13. “As Crisis Hits, Seed Giant Monsanto Sees Business in Russia and Ukraine,” The Moscow Times, January 23, 2015.
  14. Sustainable Pulse, January 25, 2016.
  15. U.S. Department of Agriculture GAIN Report, Agricultural Biotechnology Annual | RS2020-0069, April 26, 2021. For more information, see FAS/Moscow GAIN Report, “GMO Registration for Cultivation Postponed,” June 27, 2014; “Producers Consider It Reasonable to Ban GMO Products [Russian language report],” May 7, 2016,
  16. Philip Case, “Putin wants Russia to become world leader in organic food,” Farmers Weekly, December 7, 2015, citing Putin’s December 3, 2015, address to the Russian Parliament. .
  17. Eduard Korniyenko, “Putin Wants Russia to Become World’s Biggest Exporter of Non-GMO Food,” Reuters, December 3, 2015.
  18. “Russia to Ban Genetically Modified Organisms in Food Production,” The Moscow Times, September 20, 2015.
  19. Farmers Weekly, op cit. Much of these two paragraphs is directly quoted from Farmers Weekly.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Luis R. Miranda, “Monsanto’s Land Grab in Ukraine,” The Real Agenda News, March 5, 2022.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Farmers Weekly, op cit.
  24. The International Reporter, April 24, 2016, “Russian Organic Wheat Takes World by Storm, US GMO Glyphosate Losing Out!” To my knowledge no GMO wheat has been marketed, yet, although Argentina, Brazil, and Australia are on the verge of doing so.
  25. Mitchel Cohen, op cit. In his Monsanto book mentioned earlier, Cohen goes into some detail about how this use of genetically engineered corn, for one, disrupts the indigenous communities in Mexico.
  26. Mitchel Cohen, Somalia and the New World Order: You Provide the Collateral, We’ll Provide the Damage (New York: Red Balloon Publications, 1994). See also GM Watch,”GM Cassava ‘Our Only Hope,’”
  27. “Why Iraqi Farmers Might Prefer Death to Paul Bremer’s Order 81,” GM Watch, September 19, 2008.
  28. Cited in Mel Reeves, “The African Union is Right: The U.S. is a Hypocrite,” The Spokesman, February 8, 2017,
  29. Mitchel Cohen, The Politics of World Hunger; also, Somalia and the Cynical Manipulation of Hunger; Silvia Federici, Africa, the IMF and the New Enclosures, Red Balloon Collective; and Midnight Notes, One No, Many Yeses, Box 204, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, December 1997.
  30. Joshua Keating, “Anthony Bourdain Really, Really Hated Henry Kissinger,” Slate, June 8, 2018, quoting from Bourdain’s book, A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines (New York: HarperCollins, 2002).
  31. Public Redacted Version of Judgement Issued on 24 March 2016 in Prosecutor vs. Radovan Karadžić, p. 1303″ (PDF).
  32. The Moscow Times, January 23, 2015, op cit. “Ukraine is the world’s sixth largest grain grower this season, and Goncalves said the region remained a priority for Monsanto.”
  33. See Brian Tokar, “Monsanto: Origins of an Agribusiness Behemoth,” in Mitchel Cohen, The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides, for an enumeration of who is who in that revolving door of corporate lackeys on U.S. government regulatory bodies.
  34. Tom Philpott, “Taxpayer Dollars Are Helping Monsanto Sell Seeds Abroad,” Mother Jones, May 18, 2013.
  35. Dave Murphy, Food Democracy Now, -marketing-arm-monsanto.
  37. Mitchel Cohen, “‘The World’s Most Evil Company’ May Lose a Few Court Fights—But Will Keep On Poisoning and Killing Millions of People with Its Carcinogenic Pesticide ‘Roundup,’” CovertAction Magazine, January 19, 2022.
  38. “Ecology and War,” Boris Ikhlov, Perm State University (Russia), Chair of the now lapsed Perm Public Environmental Committee, and Secretary of the executive committee of the Russian political association “Worker,” March 16, 2022.
  39. Ibid.
  40. Christina Sarich, “What They’re Not Telling You About Monsanto’s Role in Ukraine,” Natural Society, January 11, 2015, and updated October 10, 2021.
  41. See also, Oakland Institute, “Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict.”
  42. Joyce Nelson, “Ukraine opens up for Monsanto, land grabs and GMOs, The Ecologist, September 11, 2014. .
  43. Marilyn Vogt-Downey, “Wither Ukraine? An imperialist invasion without an imperialist army,” in The Ukraine & the U.S. Left, a Red Balloon Collective pamphlet, 2014.
  44. Nelson, op cit.
  45. Food & Water Watch, “Biotech Ambassadors: How the U.S. State Department Promotes the Seed Industry’s Global Agenda,” May 14, 2013,
  46. JP Sottile, “Corporate Interests Behind Ukraine Putsch,” Consortium News, May 11, 2022.
  47. Ibid.
  48. Despite the heart-rending testimonies TV viewers in the U.S. were subjected to night after night, in actuality fewer than 200 Kuwaitis were killed in Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Compare that to such “peaceful” ventures as the U.S. invasion of Panama the year before, which killed an estimated 7,500 Panamanians; or, a year after the first Gulf war, the 10,000 Somalis killed by U.S./U.N. troops in what was portrayed as a “peace mission” to bring food aid to the allegedly starving region. (In actuality, people in only certain areas of Somalia were starving—those that had been subjected to IMF structural adjustment programs. See Mitchel Cohen, “Somalia & the Cynical Manipulation of Hunger,” Red Balloon Collective, 1994.)
  49. See Mitchel Cohen, “HOW PROPAGANDA WORKS, 101: Yellow-Ribboning the Lies: How George Bush Sold the 1991 Bombing of Iraq to America,”
  50. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, “HBO Recycling Gulf War Hoax?” December 4, 2002.
  51. Sharon Beder and Richard Gosden, PR Watch, Volume 8, No. 2, 2nd Quarter 2001. The PR firm has since been working at the behest of the pharmaceutical industry to ban over-the-counter vitamin and nutritional supplement sales in Europe.
  52. See Mitchel Cohen, “HOW PROPAGANDA WORKS, 101,” op cit.
  54. Marilyn Vogt-Downey, “Wither Ukraine? An imperialist invasion without an imperialist army,” in The Ukraine & the U.S. Left, a Red Balloon Collective pamphlet, 2014.
  55. Melanie Risdon, “EXCLUSIVE: Food shortages magnified by string of destroyed food processing facilities,” Western Standard, April 23, 2022 – updated May 3, 2022.
  56. Dennis Rudat, “Union Pacific restricts fertilizer shipments, will not accept new orders,” Michigan Farm News, April 19, 2022.
  57. See Gasland, a 2010 film about fracking by Josh Fox.
  58. Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN), USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, .
  59. Boris Ikhlov, “Ecology and War,” a letter to the executive committee of the Russian political association Worker, March 16, 2022.
  60. “UN Aid Drive to Avert Yemen Catastrophe Falls Far Short,” Agence France Presse, March 17, 2022. In The Defense Post,
  61. “IMF and World Bank help push through contentious Ukraine land reform amid Covid-19 pandemic.” Bretton Woods Project: Critical Voices on the World Bank and IMF, July 2020.
  62. See Zbigniew Brzezinski’s elaboration of U.S. policy under the Carter administration, when he served as U.S. National Security Adviser, in The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (New York: Basic Books, 1997).
  63. “International Monetary Fund Leverages COVID-19 Economic Fallout to Create a Land Market in Ukraine Despite Widespread Opposition.” Oakland Institute, May 21, 2020.
  64. Bretton Woods Project, op cit.
  65. Oakland Institute, op cit.
  66. Agence France Presse, op cit.