These poems depict a journey through a dark landscape, where the political and personal are fused into a geography of disinformation, sex, betrayal and deadly technology. Phelan has produced verbal "snapshots" of a subterranean war-- with fronts in Los Angeles as well as Fallujah-- where the only defense is one's integrity and the stakes may be life itself.
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Janet Phelan - Reporter at Large
There's a Spy in My Soup!
31.08.2014 Author: Janet Phelan
NSA: There’s a Spy in my Soup!
Okay, we now know that our phone calls are being monitored. Snowden has made it clear that none of our electronically conveyed communications are secure from NSA snooping. But to find that they are now listening to our potato chips?
As revealed recently in an article in MIT News, technology has been developed which would allow our relentlessly nosy government to pick up voice prints from a bag of potato chips, a glass of water, a window or potted plant.
Is an Airborne Biological Weapons Release Imminent?
A surprise drill in New York City has the authorities scrambling to address an anthrax attack.
MERS is reported to have mutated and is now airborne.
Ebola is now being discussed as a major airborne threat to the US population
These stories hit the news during the past week. All three issues highlight enhanced structured and established concerns about the possibility for an airborne pandemic—launched either through a natural occurring disease agent or a biological weapons attack.
But are these concerns realistic?
Since the anthrax attacks of September 2001, the US has pumped over 70 billion dollars into what is being termed a “defensive” biological weapons program–ostensibly to protect civilians and soldiers from the devastating potential of an airborne disease agent. These programs include Project BioShield, which provided funding for eight medical countermeasures, to address smallpox, botulinum toxin and radiological contamination. Plans for a second generation anthrax vaccine by VaxGen ran into multiple complications and the company did not fulfill its contract. Funding was therefore allocated to stockpiling more of the original vaccine, which has been thought to cause Gulf War Syndrome.
At the same time as these highly publicized and staggeringly expensive programs were launched, the US government was also covertly funding “black” projects involving the construction of covert and top secret delivery systems, which could deploy either a bio or chemical weapons attack—selectively—potentially devastating the target populations within the borders of the US.
Smallpox: A Deadly Shell Game
The recent announcement by the WHO that it was postponing a decisión on destroying the remaining smallpox depositories—one allegedly in Russia at VECTOR and the other in the United States at the CDC—may not have been prompted by what the press has termed a difference of opinión between research groups. In fact, the WHO may have no idea how many labs actually possess the deadly variola virus.
As widely reported, WHO´s advisory committee on variola virus research (ACVVR), felt that the stocks should be maintained, as the live virus was still needed to develop antiviral drugs.
On the opposing side, the WHO’s advisory group of independent experts to review the smallpox research programme (AGIES) was reported as believing that there was no research justification for holding on to the stocks.
Smallpox has killed over 500 million people in the twentieth century. A sustained global effort at vaccination resulted in the declaration, in 1980, that the world had been ridded of the deadly disease.
However, other considerations besides research protocols may be playing into the reluctance of the WHO to announce the destruction of what it terms the remaining stockpiles of smallpox.
South Africa's Dr. Death Again Evades Sentencing
South Africa’s “Dr. Death” Again Evades Sentencing
Basson was first arrested in 1997, following the dissolution of the apartheid government. His much publicized trial in Pretoria High Court in the years 1999-2002 produced outcries of judicial bias by his prosecutors. With 200 witnesses against him, who testified to his involvement in multiple assassinations as well as fraud and embezzlement during his tenure as head of Project Coast, Dr. Basson was the sole witness in his defense. He was acquitted of all sixty seven charges against him. The legal contortions executed by the Judge Hartzenberg—all resulting in Basson’s acquittal—eventuated in the State moving to have the judge recused. Hartzenberg, however, refused to step down from the case.
Basson, who was a medical doctor as well as a member of the military, had been charged with giving poisoned food and drink to members of the South African Defense Forces and other operatives, with instructions to supply these to ANC members and other “enemies of the state.” A number of deaths reportedly occurred as a result of the poisonings. In addition, Basson was allegedly involved in providing operatives with poisoned clothing and underwear to be given to specific targets, as well as providing poisons for injection. He was also known to be developing a “blacks-only” biological weapon.
Basson had been arrested with 1000 tablets of Ecstasy in his possession. The records of Project Coast and affiliated labs raise questions about whether he may have also been involved in drug dealing. He was also acquitted of these charges.
The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) took another tack and in 2006 began to investigate Basson. He was subsequently charged by the Council with “acting unprofessionally” in his capacity as the head of Project Coast. And this time, he was found guilty.
The Blast Zone
Climbing over the barrier
into the blast zone
where radioactive tins
of tuna, corn, fruit cocktail
are littered beside
the baby bombs
Somewhere in the eggshells
of the buildings in this neighborhood
the twisted steel rods
and bleached bones
is a painted green stucco house
with geranium filled windowboxes
where my rocking horse lived
Not I. I have severed myself
from my past
and cannot locate myself here,
Not in this manifestation
my face stained with soot
shards of aluminum tangled in my hair
my eyes cataracted with loss.
On the other side of the barrier
you sip your iced tea
and strategically place your newspaper
in your field of vision
Can you make me go away?
Block me completely?
Speed up my trajectory
You flick your ash in my direction
as the radioactive site tilts
the planet off its axis
and the barrier between us
ignites like celluloid
its edges blackened and curling
as the conflagration
unfurls its relentless foreordination.