WTC Illnesses Vs. Bird Flu in the Press: A Study in Contrasts

Jenna Orkin

Environmental disasters are a bore. No explosions. Nobody bleeding to death before your eyes. Just a dubious-looking landscape, a bunch of data and some talking heads.

Until the bodies start falling. Then even the mainstream press sit up and take notice.

And that's where we are five years after the environmental disaster of 9/11 (whose vestiges linger, however, in contaminated buildings downtown.) To date, fifty-seven workers have died of illnesses related to their exposure to toxic pollutants at Ground Zero. Thousands more are sick as are some residents, office workers and students from the surrounding community. And so a few weeks ago the issue graduated from the Metro Section to page 1 of the New York Times.

It's been a one step forward, two steps back sort of battle. At one point the White House rescinded $125 million that had been allocated for health coverage. (It has since been restored.) And in spite of the glaring statistics, the premature illnesses and deaths, Ground Zero workers who have sought Worker's Compensation have routinely been told that their illnesses were not World Trade Center-related. The particles of glass, silica and other toxic substances found in their lungs were presumed innocent of WTC association until proven guilty by.... what? A stamp reading "Certified WTC Origin?" (Let's not get started on the quixotic quest, which was ultimately and ignominiously abandoned, for a WTC 'signature' or 'fingerprint.') Other workers, whose symptoms did not manifest themselves for several years, were told that the Statute of Limitations had run out.

So last Saturday the NYS AFL-CIO and NYC Central Labor Council along with DC 37 and other unions as well as Congresspersons Nadler, Maloney, Rangel and Fossella, the Sierra Club, NY Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, NY Environmental Law and Justice Project and 9/11 Environmental Action held a press conference demanding healthcare for all those affected. With the unions weighing in, this movement has now got legs like a centipede.

We always knew it would be this way. Those of us who warned from the beginning about returning downtown and who lobbied for representative testing and cleanup (routine EPA protocol prior to 9/11) knew it would be years before our dire prognostications would prove correct and that by then it would be too late for many victims.

But since the death of Police Officer James Zadroga at the age of 34, the first death officially linked to WTC exposure, the press have jumped on this issue, as have more politicians, with outrage and calls to arms. (Note: This is a simplified sketch of the last five years. Some press outlets have fought with us from the beginning. But, however tragic it is to say it, the way has been smoothed by the deaths of Ground Zero heroes.)

Why now, when prevention would have been so much more effective?

Because prevention isn't as sexy as death. Also there is the attitude of the mainstream press, one of whose members once explained: Until you have this sort of proof, to give air-time to views that deviate from the party line is 'irresponsible.' As in the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when the suits talk, people listen.

This is not the forum in which to point out the compelling evidence we in the alternative camp offered, starting in 2001, that all was not well in the state of Lower Manhattan. The point of this article is: The sort of conjecture that the above-cited reporter was disparaging is the lifeblood of the current bird flu hysteria.

According to a November, 2005 article by Michael Kane in From the Wilderness, 67 deaths had occurred as a result of bird flu in people, many of whose immune systems were compromised and who lived in countries with severely constrained health services. However the H5N1 virus which causes it had been 'isolated' only via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which, according to its inventor, Kary Mullis, cannot properly be used to isolate a virus. The correct method would be purification which has yet to take place.

Kane attributes the terror-of-the-week focus on bird flu to the potential of Donald Rumsfeld & Co. to profit. They'll certainly make out like bandits if the country buys Homeland Security Secretary Michael Levitt's blanket assurance, “If it isn‘t the current H5N1 virus that leads to an influenza pandemic, at some point in our nation‘s future another virus will.”

How long will it be before flu symptoms are added to the list of signs the NYC Transit Authority warns us to be on the lookout for? (In case you haven't been on the NYC subway system recently, when the doors close at each station, we get a recorded announcement to report 'suspicious packages' to the police or a transit system employee.) And what would those symptoms include? Fatigue? At any given moment half the train is asleep anyway.

Here's another possible incentive for the emphasis on bird flu when WTC-related illness is as lethal and was initially preventable: Where does bird flu come from? China. Like Sars. Like all that gross pollution the New York Times spread across its front page a few weeks ago. (See "Leave us Alone; China Pollutes Too" posted on this blog June 11.)

I had a professor once who said, "The reason the devil gets as far as he does in the world is that there's a little bit of truth to what he says."

He could have gone further: The devil doesn't need to lie at all. All he needs to do is tell half the story.

And with the environmental disaster of 9/11, that's literally what he did. Local and state hearings on the issue caved to the government agencies' stipulation that if they couldn't testify first, they wouldn't come at all. I never understood what would be so terrible about that. But everyone understood why the agencies demanded it. By lunchtime, most of the press had fled to file their stories. In the afternoon, experts for the opposing view as well as we, the unwashed masses, testified to a room empty of those in power but for the lone City Council- or State Assemblyman who had called for the hearing and who would nod sympathetically while taking calls on his cellphone. (Note: The devil in this image is not the State Assembly or City Council per se both of which host some admirable members; it is the system.)

But bird flu! Ahhh..... A terror concocted in the laboratory of some mad genius-scientist that combines the august history of the 1918 flu with tabloid-like horrors - courtesy, Alfred Hitchcock - of lethal foreign agents masquerading as innocent creatures and soaring above our helpless border controls.

Just as the people get the government they deserve (or at least they did back when elections were honest) they get the press they deserve. The nation's watchdogs have been goaded with sticks and gorged with carrots to become lapdogs - strike that - pussycats. But the truth will out, like a weed. Long live the internet. Long enough for the majority to catch on.

Note: Jenna Orkin represents neighborhoods beyond Lower Manhattan in a class action lawsuit against the EPA.

posted by FTW admin @ 10:57 AM   0 comments  

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Get the National Energy Policy Development Group Records Released

Mike Ruppert

Tom Whipple of Falls Church News Press is formidable and brilliant. I have noted previously that he is a retired 20+ year CIA intelligence analyst. He must have been one of their best and most prized for he does what great intelligence analysts do: Before getting down to work, he finds the right questions to ask. That way he is able to extract meaning out of mountains of stimuli.

In his series of articles on Peak Oil, Tom has asked some of the most important questions on the subject: Exactly how much energy is left? Where is it? And what kind is it?

Of course, in Crossing the Rubicon I detailed how I believed that ascertaining that information was exactly the purpose of Dick Cheney’s National Energy Policy Development Group. Remember them? They’re the guys who fought all the way to the Supreme Court twice to keep the records of what they did secret. It was unconstitutional but they did it. I have a whole chapter on it.

Since these are the vital questions, let's not waste time and money creating a whole new global inventory. Let's just do what it takes to get the NEPDG Records released. The work’s already been done.

posted by FTW admin @ 1:46 PM   46 comments  

Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Leave Us Alone; China Pollutes Too."
Jenna Orkin

When my son was twelve, he wanted to be a magician. As he underwent his sorcerer's apprenticeship, I picked up some tips. Rule number one was, when you're doing your sleight of hand, make sure the audience is looking somewhere else.

So it is with this morning's front page article in the New York Times about the pollution resulting from burning coal in China.

I'm not saying it's not a Godawful mess over there or that the mess won't spread around the globe. But when, as the article asserts about 9/10 of the way in, "the average American still consumes more energy and is responsible for the release of 10 times as much carbon dioxide as the average Chinese," isn't our focus on China a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

Not to sound like a fortune cookie, Chinese or otherwise, but in long articles, it pays to check out the last line:

"China is using subsidies to make its energy even cheaper, a strategy that is not unfamiliar to Americans, said Kenneth Lieberthal, a China specialist at the University of Michigan. 'They have done in many ways,' he said, 'what we have done.'"

Which brings to mind the last scene of Washington Square (or was it The Heiress?) in which the heiress sits unmoved upstairs while the suitor who once rejected her bangs on the door begging to be let in.

"How can you be so cruel?" her companion says.

She replies, "I have learned from masters."

China has learned from a master which is the United States. We showed the rest of the world the 'good life' and now we act affronted that they're going after it.

China's pollution is horrendous, as the many protests around the country attest. The point is, why are we focussing so much attention on that relative to what's in our own back yard?

posted by FTW admin @ 9:01 AM   7 comments  

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dixie Chicks for President


Maybe three times in the last eight and half years I have indulged myself to write something just for fun, just to remind myself that getting light is sometimes the best way to respond to a heavy world.

The Dixie Chicks may not save the world. The Dixie Chicks may not stop the war. But the Dixie Chicks have certainly saved my spirits and sense of humor. Long before it became fashionable to dislike the Bush Administration, especially for Southerners from Texas, these magnificent ladies stood up and said “Bullshit!” – in so many words.

They took their lumps, they stood their ground, they took the long way around and they’re not ready to make nice. Their new CD “Taking The Long Way” has debuted at No. 1, selling 526,000 copies in its first week.

Whether they know it or not, their success is a success for all of us who have fought this madness for the last five years. We have taken our own lumps; some hard ones, some nasty ones, and although we haven’t found our own drink of affirming water in the long, arid desert yet, The Dixie Chicks are taking a drink for all of us.

I bought the CD myself and, aside from its monumental symbolic value, it just happens to be really good music. I have been privileged to know as friends, meet or interact with great musicians from Benmont Tench (keyboards for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Alanis Morisette, Don Henley and everybody else), to David Lindley (Jackson Browne & more), to David Baerwald (songwriter for Sheryl Crow, composer, singer), to Tom Waits (who bought a case of Truth and Lies of 9/11). Those who know me well, know that two decades ago I had a band and was briefly a working singer in the 1980s.

“Taking the Long Way is just brilliant, beautiful, toe-tapping, happy-thigh-slapping, tear jerking, emotionally satisfying music. That may be a biased opinion on my part but – as opposed to so much else in this day and age – emotions and music connect to an important life reality here. The music (certainly not all political) is easier to trust because the Chicks have earned emotional credibility with me and all music is ultimately about human emotion. Because I trust them, I believe their music.

I hope these ladies break every record in the book. I hope they outsell the Beatles. If that’s the best Americans can do for a “revolution” now then let it scream from the highest hills that we, probably well more than half of the American people, are sick and tired of lies, death, and the empty-soulness of our nation. Let’s reach out to the rest of the frightened and imperiled people on this planet and show them something. Seeing this CD sell 10 million copies in this country in six months could change the harmonics of the nation and maybe the planet itself.

I’m going out to buy five more now.

Dixie Chicks for President!

Mike Ruppert (yeah, it’s me)

posted by FTW admin @ 5:09 PM   20 comments  

Friday, May 26, 2006

When Prophets Become Historians: The Map Makes All the Difference

Reflections for Act 2: From the Wilderness' Peak Oil Blog

Carolyn Baker

It was the fall of 2000, and I was surfing the Internet one Sunday afternoon, when for some strange reason, God knows why, I Googled “CIA And Drugs.” A plethora of sites appeared, and I began clicking on them, one by one. I was most intrigued with the story of Celerino Castillo since at that time, I was living in Texas, and welcomed any information about muckrakers from the Lone Star state. The next day I called Castillo thinking I’d get his voicemail, but I got him, and we talked for an hour. He emphasized that the one person I should learn more about was Mike Ruppert.

I began visiting the From The Wilderness website daily and soon became a subscriber. Being a curious investigative researcher and a college professor, I decided to email this Ruppert guy and see if we could have lunch during a trip I would soon be taking to Los Angeles. After reading all that he had endured over the years, I felt almost apologetic approaching him with such a suggestion. After all, I could have been Valerie Plame on a covert mission from “The Company” to make his life even more of a living hell than it had already been. On the contrary, Mike welcomed me warmly, and we became friends.

On another Sunday afternoon in September, 2001, I checked my email and found a special FTW bulletin for subscribers informing us that the U.S. stock market was about to tank—that the situation was dire, and something huge was on the horizon. Forty-eight hours later, that “something” blindsided the nation and the world, except for those many individuals who had received warnings, and for Mike who although not knowing what the “something” was going to be, had been connecting the dots and probably was not as surprised as the rest of us were.. Almost immediately, he put the stock market under his investigative microscope and illuminated the insider trading prior to 9-11 that has become one of the most solid pieces of evidence for U.S. government orchestration of the attacks.

In late 2001, I visited Mike again and then returned to the college classroom where for over a year, I felt terrified of discussing what I now knew to be true—that key members of the Bush Administration had foreknowledge of and perpetrated the events of 9-11. Only a fool would speak openly about this to a room full of students, I thought. But as the months passed and an avalanche of additional investigative reporting appeared in alternative media, I found myself no longer willing to remain silent on the issue.

By this time, I had also met and spent many hours on the phone with Catherine Austin Fitts. As I learned more about 9-11, the CIA’s longtime involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering through the stock market and U.S. banks, as I studied the nightmare of dirty tricks at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as I researched the rigged elections of 2000 and the $4 trillion dollars missing from the federal government, as I began to learn about Peak Oil, and as the torrent of lies and phony intelligence preceding the Iraq War catapulted the U.S. into an invasion of that nation, the dots in my awareness were connecting. Damn! I was developing a map.

Today, as I listen to progressives rant about the Iraq War, global warming, the shredding of the Constitution as a result of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, the pandemic of corruption in Washington and in corporate America—as I hear them acting oh so surprised at the realization that their country has become a fascist empire, I feel fortunate and deeply, deeply grateful to From The Wilderness—Mike, Catherine, Cele Castillo, Dale Allen Pfeiffer, Richard Heinberg, Dmitri Orlov, Paula Hay, Matt Savinar, and a host of individuals who, like Mike Ruppert, are “information cops” and are sharing with the world what they have discovered as a result of onerous, diligent investigative research.

Has FTW gotten it wrong on some occasions? Absolutely. Imperfect human beings cannot be on target one hundred percent of the time, and I’m quite certain that FTW will get it wrong again; however, in the same sentence, I hasten to add the question: How often has mainstream news gotten it right—I mean really, really right? Even the most astute investigators are neither omniscient nor clairvoyant, but those who tend to get it right most of the time are those who have not only read the research, but have lived it. As I’ve listened over the years to the stories of Mike, Catherine, Dmitri and others who have nearly paid with their physical lives, I’m reminded that being able to read the tea leaves incisively has everything to do with what one has experienced as well as what one investigates.

Go to your computer or your TV, if you have one, and check out mainstream news. If you have been a subscriber to FTW for the past five years, you will not be surprised by anything you hear. If you’ve read Crossing The Rubicon, by Mike Ruppert, you’ll be even less surprised. I’ve probably given the book to fifty people and told at least fifty more to go buy it themselves. Currently, 42% of the American people believe that 9-11 was an inside job. Over 70% want another (next time authentic) investigation. The FTW “prophets” of years gone by have now become historians.

My own book, U.S. HISTORY UNCENSORED: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You will be available later this summer. Not only has the FTW map served me superbly in navigating present time, but in illuminating our nation’s history as well. As for the future, while FTW is not in the business of offering “hope” it does offer us a treasure-trove of information that provides options, and while there is no “perfect plan”, and there are countless unknowns, it is reassuring to know from experience that having a reliable map makes all the difference. Act 2: From the Wilderness' Peak Oil Blog promises to add an important piece to that map.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. is an adjunct professor of history and a freelance writer for From The Wilderness. She has recently launched her new website Truth to Power at

posted by FTW admin @ 8:33 PM   15 comments  

Monday, May 01, 2006

Introductory Message from Mike Ruppert


Welcome to FTW’s new blog. Things are happening fast, almost too fast. But for those who have been FTW subscribers for even just a few months, it is difficult not to have the feeling that we have a major head start on events.

This blog is intended to serve as an information-sharing resource as we enter some very tough times. I strongly recommend that those who participate have at least some familiarity with the following: Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil; Denial Stops Here, The Truth and Lies of 9/11, and Wall Street’s War for Drug Money.

There are also many back stories from our archives that will make your participation in this important message board more rewarding. Three of the many I would recommend are Eating Fossil Fuels, Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century and Globalcorp.

The world situation is deteriorating rapidly—we all can see that. What is important is that we accelerate and empower our collective work in the recognition that answers and solutions are not going to be coming from the government, and the only thing we can expect from big business is more of the same inertia that is leading the human race towards the collapse of civilization and the precipice of extinction.

But the better-than-expected good news is that individuals and communities all over the world, especially inside America, are not only waking up but taking action. However, many of these developments, and the knowledge that is emerging as many communities strive to relocalize with a renewed sense of urgency, are well below our radar screens.

The information and predictions contained in Denial Stops Here are coming true in spades and at warp speed. What has been so deeply gratifying for me personally has been all the feedback I have received from many places telling me that people have not only been taking FTW’s message and information to heart, but that they have also been acting on it as well.

As Catherine Austin Fitts says, “No one is as smart as all of us.”

Tell us what you have learned. Tell each other what you think (in the spirit of cooperation and helpfulness). Share and discuss with only one prime directive, “What can we share here that will save lives by providing people with choices, experience, strength and hope”? This is the place for it.

This list is going to be moderated by one of the most wonderful human beings in the world, Jenna Orkin. Jenna is an activist and someone who is thoroughly familiar with FTW’s body of work. She—with my full backing—will decide what goes up and what does not. Needless to say ad hominem attacks on anyone and excessive profanity are out. (Although occasional profanity might undoubtedly be called for and appropriate.)

This blog is here so that people who care can help each other, and I hope that this blog will provide more evidence of what all of us at FTW have accomplished and of what people armed with a good map can do.

My most special gratitude to Jamey Hecht, Stan Goff, Dale Allen Pfeiffer, Michael Kane, Carolyn Baker, Lindsay Gerken, Dmitry Orlov, and every writer who put FTW on the map over these last eight years.

Michael C. Ruppert
May 1, 2006

posted by FTW admin @ 12:58 PM   36 comments