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Archive for June, 2011

The Onion Is All Fun And Games Until Somebody Gets Hurt And Then They Are Heartless Money-Grubbing Corporate Greedheads Just Like All The Rest

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011


DAILY NEWS: Emily Guendelsberger doesn’t have health insurance, so she will be wholloped with medical bills associated with the surgery she needs to fix her leg, which was broken in last Saturday night’s stampede of marauding teens down Broad St. Guendelsberger is the local arts and entertainment editor for The Onion, the satirical news and entertainment site, and she is not covered under its health-care plan. My colleague Dan Gross asked an Onion spokeswoman if the company would help Guendelsberger with her bills anyway. Here was the cagey answer. “We can’t divulge any details surrounding the compensation or benefits packages of our employees,” Onion spokeswoman Anne Finn told Dan.  “We will say that when we heard about the events that transpired, we were shocked and saddened. Our hearts immediately went out to Emily and we wanted to leave the option for people to help her.” Isn’t that wonderful? They wanted to “leave the option for people to help,” not “leave the option for The Onion to help.” So they set up a PayPal account so that others – i.e., not The Onion – could help Guendelsberger. MORE

DAN GROSS: Nonetheless, while Guendelsberger, a former Daily News copy editor, remains hospitalized, donations are pouring into “The A.V. Club’s Emily Guendelsberger Fund” set up to accept PayPal funds to The local edition of the Onion, which is full of fake news but real entertainment coverage, which Guendelsberger oversees, is published in partnership with Philadelphia Media Network, owner of the Daily News, Inquirer and PMN spoksman Mark Block would not say if the company would contribute, but said the company “Is supportive of our employees contributing,” to the Onion’s PayPal account. MORE

RELATED: The Onion has been around since 1988; founded by Tim Keck and Christopher, then two juniors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and originally supported by ad revenue from local restaurants and small businesses. The Onion is now distributed free in 11 cities across America (with a print circulation of nearly 700,000), has published 9 collected volumes, and produced its own feature film, The Onion Movie. Since starting the online edition in 1996, they’ve expanded to include the A/V Club, which regularly features film/music reviews and interviews, and the Onion News Network, daily online video parodies, for which the site has invested more than $1 million and hired 15 new staffers. According to the 2008 MediaKit, online readership runs at an average of more than 5 million unique monthly visitors (the AV Club recently passed 1 million). According to a 2003 CNN article, The Onion, which started with only an $8000 loan from Keck’s mother, was by 1994 “generating $1 million a year in ad revenue and a few hundred thousand dollars in profit.” Annual revenues really took off after The Onion started up the website.  The Onion now averages more than $10 million in annual profit. Not bad for just making it all up. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: A Small Army Of Assholes Beats Up Onion Editor

ALSO: We’d Love To Run Into These Dicks In A Dark Alley Some Day


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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Job Killing For Electoral Gain

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011


[Artwork by WMXDESIGN]

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY What the Republican party is doing to the American economy is the most detestably intentional attempt to ensure failure since Tonya Harding & Co. brought down Nancy Kerrigan. Never before in their often sullied history have congressional Republicans purposely acted with such disdainful disregard for the best economic interests of the American people. Sound disparaging? Hell, the words I’d really like to use in describing these lying, cheating, elitist, two-faced, hypocritical, obstructionist, bottom-feeding bastards would likely be censored by even the most “liberated” publications.   Throughout the campaigns leading up to the 2010 elections, the Republican leadership (Tea Party included) stated unequivocally time and time again that if they were entrusted with the keys to the kingdom, their number one priority would be to put Americans back to work. What pure, unadulterated BULLSHIT that turned out to be! Of course, we now know that, with crossed middle fingers behind their backs, the actual number one and, in fact, sole priority of these con artist creeps was to sabotage and otherwise subvert the current American presidency.

ShitMyUncleSays_FINAL.jpgMake no mistake, this isn’t just partisan politics or politics as usual, this borders on treason. The number two definition of that word in Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary states: “Betrayal of confidence or trust.” Folks, if that’s not the LEAST of what these Nazis-cum-nightshade have been guilty of over the last year and a half, the Koch brothers are a couple of closet Commies.

Since November 2, 2010, no Republican in either congressional body, House or Senate, has introduced a single job creation bill. ZIP. ZERO. ZILCH. NOT ONE. It isn’t shameful, it’s despicable. It isn’t enough that Republicans stood by for nearly eight years while a cabal of some of our most “respected” financial institutions perpetrated the most massive financial fraud in American history, they now leave middle and lower class Americans to suffer the harrowing aftermath alone. And, for icing on the cake, they work overtime to weaken all attempts to outlaw or regulate the very Wall Street scams and scammers responsible for the thievery.

Ninety percent of time which could otherwise be spent fashioning actual “job creation” legislation is instead frittered away in phony condemnation or attempted repeal of something truly beneficial to all Americans, i.e. the President’s health care law. The other ten percent is spent vetoing or filibustering any and all Democrat initiated “stimulus” legislation. Without exception, every action taken by these double-dealing douchebags is designed specifically to demolish the American social welfare system and/or enhance the already luxurious lifestyles of the top 1 percent of American citizenry with even more tax cuts.

If there’s anything we learned from the Clinton years, it’s that elevated tax rates appear to have no detrimental effect on economic growth. In fact, one could argue quite the opposite given that the period 1993-2001 was one of the most prosperous in American history. So, it should come as no surprise that Republican claims about how less government spending will somehow spur economic growth and create much needed new jobs is proving, in practice, to have the exact opposite results. It’s rather difficult to explain how cutting the work force actually expands the work force. It’s what I like to call a “Bachmannism,” if you get my drift.

By the way, have you noticed what’s happened to the “corporate kingpin” portion of these one-percenters since the meltdown? Millions upon millions of Americans are still out of work, losing their homes, wondering how they will hold their families together. Millions more who had their life savings and retirements wiped out are fearful they won’t be able to care for themselves. The economy is still bobbing in sewage. But, by God, Wall Street is booming, and the titans of business and industry are pulling down more long green than ever before. God bless America, where the rich get richer and the middle class get goner — and everyone acts like it’s just a coincidence.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

1,638 = The number of Americans killed in action in Afghanistan
11,191 = The number of Americans  wounded in Afghanistan.
0 = To date the number of financial industry kingpins indicted for having committed the most massive FRAUD in American history.

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DENY THE DENIERS: Exxon STILL Buying The Finest Climate Change Denial Science Blood Money Can Buy

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011


[Illustration byBEN HEIENE]
MOTHER JONES: Back in 2008, ExxonMobil pledged to quit funding climate change deniers. But according to new documents released through a Greenpeace Freedom of Information Act request, the oil giant was still forking over cash to climate skeptics as recently as last year, to the tune of $76,000 for one scientist skeptical of humankind’s role in global warming. This—and much more—came to light in a new report about the funding of Wei Hock “Wille” Soon, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Soon has been a favorite among climate skeptics for years, since coauthoring a paper back in 2003 that claimed that the 20th century was probably not the warmest, nor was it unique. That paper, published in the journal Climate Research, was widely criticized by climate scientists for its content, not to mention the funding it received from the American Petroleum Institute. An astrophysicist by training, Soon has also claimed that solar variability—i.e., changes in the amount of radiation coming from the sun—are to likely to blame for warming temperatures. In 2007, Soon coauthored a paper challenging the claim that climate change harms polar bears. The paper drew plenty of criticism, as it was funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute, The Charles G. Koch Foundation, and ExxonMobil—groups with a clear interest in the debate over whether the bears merited endangered species protections. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: ExxonMobil, the Michael Jordan of climate change denial, was supposed to have quit the game. In 2005, Mother Jones reported that the oil company had pumped $8 million into more than 40 think tanks, media outlets, and consumer groups that questioned the existence of climate change. In 2007, new CEO Rex Tillerson announced that the company would try to “soften” its dirty image. A few months later, it pledged to stop funding groups “whose position on climate change could divert attention” from the need for clean energy. Yet corporate records released earlier this year show that the world’s largest petroleum company hasn’t cut off the cash altogether. In 2008, it gave at least $50,000 to the Heritage Foundation, which recently published a report claiming that the Waxman-Markey climate bill will kill millions of jobs, boost electricity prices 90 percent, and cost a typical family $4,600 per year in taxes and extra energy costs by 2035. Sarah Palin posted a segment of the report on her Facebook page. (In reality, the Congressional Budget Office has found that the bill would cost the average household $175 a year by 2020; the EPA pegs its cost at no more than $140 per household per year.)

exxonlies.jpegIn 2008, ExxonMobil also gave more than $100,000 to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which supports overseas groups that often oppose action on global warming. Atlas’ websites in 14 countries translate and syndicate stories and videos such as a recent interview about “Climategate” with the Cato Institute’s resident global warming skeptic, Patrick Michaels. In addition, it has supported more than 200 libertarian think tanks in countries including Spain, China, and Ghana. In the lead-up to Copenhagen, more than 76 think tanks in 48 countries signed its petition against “Green Protectionism,” creating the impression of a global grassroots movement opposed to action on climate change. Since 1998, ExxonMobil and its foundations have given Atlas nearly $1 million. Meanwhile, Exxon is basking in the glow of its supposed change of heart. In August, Forbes (whose publisher, Steve Forbes, sits on the board of the FreedomWorks Foundation) hailed Tillerson for not being “as gruff and forceful as his predecessor Lee R. Raymond in dismissing global warming alarmists.” For that, and the company’s efforts to pump more natural gas, the magazine named ExxonMobil “Green Company of the Year.” MORE

RELATED: In 2006, according to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans saw “solid evidence” for global warming. By this fall, that figure had dropped to 57 percent—and just 36 percent said they believed that humans are to blame. That’s good news for climate change skeptics and deniers, who have spent years trying to perpetuate the illusion that the reality of climate change is up for debate. Never mind that the scientific consensus is firmly on the side of global warming—for anyone seeking an alternate view, there’s an entire parallel universe where junk science and bogus statistics ricochet through an echo chamber of kooky blogs, “nonpartisan” institutes, and fake “green” and “citizen” groups that are often acting on behalf of the oil and coal industry. Here’s a guide to the dozen loudest components of the climate disinformation machine. MORE

RELATED: Billionaire oilman David Koch likes to joke that Koch Industries is “the biggest company you’ve never heard of.” But the nearly $50 million that David Koch and his brother Charles have quietly funneled to climate-denial front groups that are working to delay policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming is no joking matter. Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have a vested interest koch_openspace.jpgin delaying climate action: they’ve made billions from their ownership and control of Koch Industries, an oil corporation that is the second largest privately-held company in America (which also happens to have an especially poor environmental record). It’s time more people were aware of Charles and David Koch and just what they’re up to. Greenpeace has released the report “Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” to expose the connections between these climate denial front groups and the secretive billionaires who are funding their efforts. The Koch brothers, their family members, and their employees direct a web of financing that supports conservative special interest groups and think-tanks, with a strong focus on fighting environmental regulation, opposing clean energy legislation, and easing limits on industrial pollution. This money is typically funneled through one of three “charitable” foundations the Kochs have set up: the Claude R. Lambe Foundation; the Charles G. Koch Foundation; and the David H. Koch Foundation. MORE


RELATED: How The Second Largest Company In America Is Spending Bazillions To Brainwash The American People Into Voting Against Themselves

PREVIOUSLY: Top NASA Climate Scientist Says CEOs of Big Oil Should Be Brought Up On Charges Of High Crimes Against Humanity And Nature

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MARCELLUS FAIL: New York Times Acquires Investor Emails Calling Gas Drilling ‘A Giant Ponzi Scheme’

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

gasland_300x255.pngNEW YORK TIMES: Natural gas companies have been placing enormous bets on the wells they are drilling, saying they will deliver big profits and provide a vast new source of energy for the United States. But the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells. In the e-mails, energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves. Many of these e-mails also suggest a view that is in stark contrast to more bullish public comments made by the industry, in much the same way that insiders have raised doubts about previous financial bubbles. “Money is pouring in” from investors even though shale gas is “inherently unprofitable,” an analyst from PNC Wealth Management, an investment company,  wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail. “Reminds you of dot-coms.” “The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work,” an analyst from IHS Drilling Data, an energy research company,  wrote in an e-mail on Aug. 28, 2009. Company data for more than 10,000 wells in three major shale gas formations raise further questions about the industry’s prospects. There is undoubtedly a vast amount of gas in the formations. The question remains how affordably it can be extracted. MORE

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WIKILEAKS: Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011


THE ATLANTIC: At latest count, at least four studios are working on at least five movies about the WikiLeaks story. And with Assange somewhat out of pocket while on house arrest, plenty of option deals are going to journalists who are covering the secretive organization.

  • Guardian reporters David Leigh and Luke Harding sold rights to their book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy to DreamWorks
  • Raffi Khatchadourian embedded with Assange for a New Yorker profile  and sold rights to his HBO and the BBC which will release a documentary by Inside Job director and Oscar winner Charles Ferguson.
  • Bill Keller sold his life rights to a production company led by another Oscar winner, Mark Boal, writer/producer of Hurt Locker, after he wrote about his dealings with Assange.

Along with those four projects, Universal Pictures will release a documentary by Alex Gibney, director of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (and brother of The Atlantic‘s staff editor James Gibney). MORE

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HEAR YE: Nick Cave & Neko Case Duet On Cover The Zombies “She’s Not There” For True Blood

Monday, June 27th, 2011


listen.gifKCRW: This season, the 4th, is going to kick off with a bang. Not just watching the latest adventures of Sookie Stackhouse and all her supernatural friends but I am so very excited about the new version of The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” a new collaboration with Neko Case and Nick Cave. A little background. If you are a fan of True Blood you know that each episode is named after one of the songs that are in that episode. So it’s always exciting for me to crack open the script and see what the writer has in mind for the title and the song that I will ultimately need to track down and license for use in the show. When I received the first script for episode #401, written by Alex Woo, I saw the title “She’s Not There”, one of my favorite songs by 60′s British Invaders The Zombies. Alex had suggested that we use the Santana version of the song. I thought well, we’ve got some time. Why don’t we try and produce a new, fresh version of this classic and make it our own? Let’s have some fun with this — Bon Temps Louisiana Style. The show’s creator Alan Ball gave me his blessing and I was off and running. The brainstorming began. I spread the word. I spoke with one of my friends CC Adcock, the great Louisiana musician and producer about it and he came up with a new arrangement for the song, more dark and sexy. We thought it would be great to make it a sly duet between a man and woman. I loved the idea. […] Yes Neko’s beautiful voice and sexy twang would be perfect for True Blood. Then I decided to go with the magical flow and continued down the C section. Johnny Cash…mmm,, would be great but he’s er…dead. Cat Power mmm, could be very interesting. I would love to watch Cat and Neko go at it, but NO we need a man for this collaboration. Then the second bolt of lightning hit me: NICK CAVE. I had to sit down and catch my breath imaging this duet with Neko Case and Nick Cave. Let me make some calls and see if somehow this could work. Turns out they both fans of True Blood and LOVED the song idea and wanted to it. MORE

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People Of Earth Push Back Against Jersey Shore Towns’ Efforts To Privitize The Ocean

Monday, June 27th, 2011


ASSOCIATED PRESS: New Jerseyans have to put up with taxes, tolls, toxic waste and, occasionally, Snooki. So an occasional trip to the beach is all that keeps some folks here sane. Now officials in the nation’s most densely populated state are rewriting public beach access rules that could make it easier for well-to-do towns to keep out-of-towners off their beaches , and a sandstorm is brewing. The state says it had to act and give more local control over access after a court decision struck down more stringent rules that spelled out uniform standards for each shore town. The state feels it can accomplish more by working with shore towns and giving them flexibility rather than dictating a “one-size-fits-all” access policy to them. But many beachgoers fear the new rules, if adopted, would reward the very people who have made it so hard for outsiders to reach the beach for decades. Joe Woerner, an official with the Jersey Shore Surfrider Foundation, said he was handcuffed as a teenager 20 years ago as he came out of the ocean with his surfboard. He was taken to a police holding cell in Sea Girt. Crossing a hundred yards or so of sand without a beach badge. “I was a 15-year-old boy arrested for using the ocean,” he said. “These are the kind of people who will be making our rules.” MORE

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A Small Army Of Assholes Beats Up Onion Editor

Monday, June 27th, 2011

fist.jpgDAILY NEWS: A WOMAN’S leg was broken and several other people were injured Saturday night when a large group of teens accosted pedestrians in Spring Garden, police and witnesses said.Philadelphia police responded to two reports of pedestrians being assaulted by a large group of young people along Broad Street about 9:30 p.m. One of those reports came from Emily Guendelsberger, 27, city editor for local arts and entertainment content for the Onion, the satirical newspaper and website. She was walking with seven friends on Green Street near Broad when they were accosted, she said. Guendelsberger, who remained hospitalized with a broken leg yesterday, declined to comment further. According to the police report of the incident, Guendelsberger was “jumped” by 30 to 40 men who punched and kicked her numerous times. Police said they checked the area for surveillance but had no luck. MORE

RELATED: Dozens of West Philly boys – ranging in age from 11 to 19 – stormed a Sears store in Sears_Robbery.JPGUpper Darby on Thursday as part of a “flash mob” [PICTURED, RIGHT] and made off with thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise, police said. Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said he believed that the group organized the mass theft through social networking, although the exact networking site was not yet clear. He said that the kids traveled together on public transportation and arrived at the store on 69th Street en masse about 7:10 p.m. The kids – Chitwood estimated there were around 40 boys – scattered throughout the store and began to “rob, steal and pillage,” he said. MORE

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SIDEWALKING: Mars Hotel Foxtrot

Monday, June 27th, 2011


Wilco, Solid Sound Festival, 10:47 PM Saturday by JONATHAN VALANIA



RELATED: Guthrie was born in Massachusetts, USA, the youngest daughter of folksinger Arlo Guthrie and the granddaughter of Woody Guthrie. MORE

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Ex-Marine Fireman, Inexplicably Suspended For Posing Shirtless In Charity Calendar, Commits Suicide

Monday, June 27th, 2011

slivinski_jack.jpgPHILLY.COM: John (Jack) Slivinski Jr., the Philadelphia firefighter who got in hot water by posing shirtless for a charity calendar, was found dead at his Lawndale home Saturday. Police and colleagues said the cause was suicide. Slivinski, 31, a former Marine who followed his father into the department, was praised Sunday as a gutsy firefighter who won a spot on the department’s elite rescue unit. MORE

RELATED: Since joining the Philadelphia Police Department in 2003, Officer Deona Carter has been miss_carter.jpgheralded by her supervisors as a “reliable” cop with “sound judgment.” The 29-year-old officer’s Internet fans also rave about her appearance. “Sexy ass,” one horndog wrote on her MySpace page. “If u r the law i m so doing the crime,” another wrote. “YOU CAN HANDCUFF ME AND BEAT ME,” wrote an online friend named “butta.” That’s because when Carter isn’t patrolling the streets of the 18th District, headquartered at 55th and Pine streets in West Philly, she drives men crazy with her voluptuous curves on MySpace, where she goes by “Miss Carter.” In her profile photo, Carter, a Robert E. Lamberton High School grad who lists her occupation as “philly finest,” poses for the camera wearing a police hat, but with a couple of sultry modifications to the uniform: high heels and a skimpy blue dress that’s cut closer to her belly button than her knees. MORE

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Monday, June 27th, 2011


[Illustration by GREG JOENS]

Colonel.jpgBY COLONEL TOM SHEEHY In the Spring of 1978, I was working for A&M Records in Boston. I was staying at the Copley Plaza Hotel, and as I was getting dressed, I decided not to wear my jacket that morning. I got on the elevator, and as it stopped on the floor below me, a man got on who looked very familiar, but what really caught my attention was his manner of dress. He was wearing a very heavy winter coat which suggested to me, the weather must have changed over night. I debated whether or not to go back to my room and get a sweater or a jacket, but just then, the elevator door opened. The man and I got out and proceded to walk to the front door of the hotel. As I got closer to the entrance, I could see that there was a lot of snow on the ground. I was somewhat perplexed, because yes, this was Boston, but it was springtime! Just then, a guard stopped me and said I would have to use the side entrance of the hotel to exit the building. I asked him why, and he told me because they are filming in front of the hotel. Ah ha !!! Then it dawned on me. It was fake snow, and  the man with the squinty face was an actor. In fact he was Peter Falk, and they were filming the television series “Coloumbo.”

RELATED: Mr. Falk’s prime-time popularity, like that of his contemporary Telly Savalas, of “Kojak” fame, was founded on a single role. A lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department, Columbo was a comic variation on the traditional fictional detective. With the keen mind of Sherlock Holmes and Philip Marlowe, he was cast in the mold of neither — not a gentleman scholar, not a tough guy. He was instead a mass of quirks and peculiarities, a seemingly distracted figure in a rumpled raincoat, perpetually patting his pockets for a light for his signature stogie. He drove a battered Peugeot, was unfailingly polite, was sometimes accompanied by a basset hound named Dog, and was constantly referring to the wisdom of his wife (who was never seen on screen) and a variety of relatives and acquaintances who were identified in Homeric-epithet-like shorthand — an uncle who played the bagpipes with the Shriners, say, or a nephew majoring in dermatology at U.C.L.A. — and who were called to mind by the circumstances of the crime at hand. It was a low-rent affect that was especially irksome to the high-society murderers he outwitted in episode after episode. MORE

listen.gifFRESH AIR: Peter Falk joined Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross in 1995 for a discussion about his acting career and about what it was like to grow up with a glass eye. “I was very comfortable with it,” he said. “And I realized you could get a laugh with it. … You could always get people’s attention if you took a spoon and tapped it.” MORE

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BOOKS: Q&A Wth Annie Jacobsen, Author Of Area 51

Friday, June 24th, 2011

BY JONATHAN VALANIA Annie Jacobsen writes about national security for the Los Angeles Times’ Sunday Magazine. Recently, she published a fascinating and expansive history of Area 51, which is sort of the Land Of Oz for conspiracy theorists, UFOologists and national security buffs alike. According to Jacobsen, it is also the incubator and proving ground for most if not all of the gee-whiz top secret surveillance hardware, aircraft and weaponry deployed by the national security state and ground zero for more than 100 above and below ground nuclear bomb tests. But it is the final chapter of the book that has sparked the most controversy with its jaw-dropping claims that the infamous UFO crash at Roswell was actually a Nazi-designed flying saucer piloted by children surgically disfigured to look like ETs, sent by Stalin to trigger mass hysteria in the U.S. a la War Of The Worlds. Furthermore, Jacobsen alleges that U.S. scientists spent decades reverse engineering the spacecraft and its mutant pilots  — some of which survived the crash and persisted in a coma. Her single, anonymous source for all is a man she claims is the last surviving member of the team that worked with the Roswell remains. Recently, we called upon the author to explain…

PHAWKER: One of the first things I wanted to ask you about that I haven’t read or seen touched upon in any of the other interviews that I’ve encountered is this very intriguing line about Howard Hughes having a secret hangar at Area 51 and what exactly he was doing out there is still classified. Can you elaborate on that at all?

ANNIE JACOBSEN: I wish I could, that’s one of the few details in the book that that’s all I got. That came to me from Jim Annie_Jacobsen_Area_51_800x1200_85.jpgFreidman who worked as the liaison between Area 51 and Hughes’s people in the hotel. Jim Freidman was the guy who would let Hughes’s people know when a nuclear bomb test was going off twenty-four hours before the test, so he was at about twenty-two hours advance notice on the rest of the population. He [Hughes] was apparently deathly afraid of nuclear weapons and he thought the world would end, so said Jim Freidman, and so he would skedaddle out of town in advance of the weapons test, but what exactly he was doing at Area 51 in that hangar of his is unknown. Of course Hughes Aircraft was a big defense contractor, but that is actually of great mystery still.

PHAWKER: Can you talk a little about the Atomic Energy Commission and the enormous power it wielded back in the post-World War II era and the secrets that, by design, it witheld from everyone, including succeeding presidents.

ANNIE JACOBSEN: The Atomic Energy Commission, now called the Department of Energy, has always enjoyed its own system of secret keeping, which I found very surprising when I first began reporting it. That is not the way the Constitution is set up but it is the way the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 was written and it gave the Atomic Energy Commission its own secret keeping that runs parallel to the presidential system which is what the Department of Defense worked under. The argument for it was this idea of nuclear power immediately after the war was so volatile and so uncontrollable that its secrets needed to be kept in a manner—and this is where we get the phrase “born classified”—all the nuclear secrets, and that included everything with timing and firing and alpha measurements and so on, needed to be able to be kept on lock down essentially with the AEC and no one else could have access to that. Scholars who study this call that an unanswerable authority, and I certainly felt that same way when I was researching the AEC and its secret keeping ability, the way that they were able to for example conduct medical experiments on humans under the aegis of AEC work was very scary and spooky and that remains the case to this day and many of their records remain classified under that rubric of AEC secrets but they actually have a lot more to do with other issues and they should never have been classified at all in that way in my opinion.

PHAWKER: And The Department of Energy is still responsible for maintaining that secrecy?


PHAWKER: OK. Just to clarify, there are classified secrets that the DOE currently holds that not even the president of the United States could not access?

ANNIE JACOBSEN: That is the information that I got when I was reporting the book and, certainly, when you read the way in which the classification systems work for the AEC, it makes that clear. In other words, anyone in the government can be considered…it can be written that they don’t have a need-to-know about a certain program and so unless they are able to prove that they require a need-to-know, that is the case and I certainly write about one of those cases in my book.

PHAWKER: Let’s jump forward to the most controversial aspect of the book. That is the assertion that one of your sources told you the alleged UFO crash at Roswell was in fact a Nazi-designed flying saucer type vehicle piloted by some sort of mutant child-like human beings that had either been genetically or surgically altered to look like aliens or people from outer space. This is something that Stalin put into place, for the people who haven’t read the book, and the idea behind this was to scare the hell out of the American people and create a panic in much the way that Orson Welles’s World War II radio broadcast had, correct?

Annie_Jacobsen_photo_credit_Michael_Hiller_333x500.jpgANNIE JACOBSEN: Well, there are a couple of important backstory distinctions that I would like to make. In summary, it’s hard for people to wrap their heads around that many different archetypes of evil, so to speak. What I write about in the book at length are two issues. One of them has to do with propaganda and black propaganda, and the other has to do with Operation Paper Clip which was the program which was initiated by president Truman immediately after the war to pillage the quote unquote great minds of Nazi Germany and bring them over to us to work on our science programs and that specifically dealt with airplane programs and aerospace programs. The best example is of course Wernher von Braun who was Hitler’s rocket designer during the war and then came here and designed missiles for us and is largely accredited with getting man to the moon. And so, Wernher von Braun was not alone. We brought over hundreds of Nazis with varying degrees of complicity in the Holocaust, some of which were deported and sent home, some of which stayed here. The Soviets did the same. They too pillaged Third Reich scientists for their own programs. It was very controversial and secretive at the time and even Albert Einstein, when he found out about it, was horrified and he went to president Truman and he said, look, having Third Reich former Nazi scientists in the employ of the United States is a very bad idea and they’re not fit for American citizenship, but Truman didn’t listen to that and went ahead and so did the Russians. The idea was that the real threat after WWII was the Soviets and that whatever it took to beat the Soviets back was going to be more important than people’s roles in WWII. Much of Project Paperclip—most of Project Paperclip is still classified. There’s an interesting statistic I report in the book that, in 1999 the Associated Press determined that there are over 600 million classified documents about Project Paperclip and about 100,000 of them have been declassified in the eleven or twelve years since. That’s a lot of information that’s still secret, and from what I learned in my reporting, a lot of those documents pertain to Area 51. They speak to Aerospace programs that former Nazis worked on that were then tested out of Area 51. The information that came to me from one of my sources was that in fact a flying shaped saucer crashed in New Mexico in 1947—now known as the famous Roswell incident. The equipment was shipped to Wright-Patterson Air force Base and then in 1951 it was brought to Area 51. The source I use in the book—the only source I keep anonymous—was one of five engineers who worked to reverse engineer that flying craft at Area 51. I stand by the veracity of this source—as you said it’s obviously garnered quite a bit of controversy among people. Certainly, what I relay in the book… and I do it very clearly, in a manner that makes it clear to the reader that I am relaying information that was related to me by a single source. I even switch to the first person in the last seven pages of my book to make that clear distinction between the way I report that and the way I report the first 367 pages of my book. I absolutely believe that what my source tells me that he was witness to is in fact the truth. So I made a decision to report it that way and I stand by that.

PHAWKER: Just to clarify: what is even more appalling—assuming this is all true—than that is that we continued this kind of experimentation up to the late 80s, correct?

ANNIE JACOBSEN: I tried to make it very clear in my book as much as I just quote from my source, so the lack of additional detail comes from the fact that the source was only willing to tell me certain details and he chose to withhold others. What I write about in the book…I clearly distinguish between what the source (and so does the source) was privy to, in other words he received the equipment and he also received the bodies of those child-sized aviators you referenced earlier and that I wrote about in the book. He worked on that program for two weeks and he was an eyewitness to them. Then after that, he, being the EG&G engineer that he was, worked to understand what it was that he had worked on for those two weeks, and mindful of the fact that when you are a q-cleared nuclear scientist, you are working in an incredibly strict need-to-know environment (the q-clearance allows employees to handle nuclear secrets) and that your need-to-know is limited to what it is that your superiors choose that you need to know. Vannevar Bush was the superior on the project, same as he’d been superior on the Manhattan Project, so the information that I talk about, about where this flying disc came from and where the five child aviators came from is information that is second hand to this source as he was told. Again, he stands by the truthfulness of that information. Many people have since speculated about that may be disinformation and there’s all kinds of theories and as is the nature of people who…when you read something that’s controversial and hard to wrap your mind around, I think its normal to try and figure out for yourself what might have gone on, and I think that’s what a lot of people have been doing with regards to the last seven pages of my book.

I haven’t answered your question, but I’m going to because what you asked me was about this idea that perhaps…you asked me about the suggestion by the engineer that we worked on the same program and that is something that I write in the book. I asked the source if this flying disc really came from Russia with these child-sized aviators in it who were the product of the horrific Soviet human experimentation program, surgically altered humans made to look like aliens, as the engineer was told, why on earth didn’t Truman make this announcement to the public to show what an abhorrent man Stalin was? And the answer my source gave me was , because we made the decision to do the same thing. While that is impossible, if you love the country, to believe, at first glance, when you read my book and put into context what the AEC had done in terms of the human experiments, what its system of secret keeping allowed it to do, and this notion that the whole of Area 51 exists to push science and technology further and faster than the Russians, it does make a kind of wicked sense that scientists could make the decision that, if the Soviets were capable of doing something, we too needed to be capable of doing that, otherwise they were winning in the science race.

PHAWKER: Just to play devil’s advocate here, what would be the scientific value of creating these bizarre, mutant child-sized creatures to operate a spaceship other than the shock value of trying to pass them off as aliens and try to startle the American public?

ANNIE JACOBSEN: That’s certainly a question I had asked well, and as I write in the book, my source’s answer to me was that I didn’t have a need-to-know.

PHAWKER: Going back to Stalin’s intentions, not that I expect you to be able to answer this, but what was he hoping to Area_51.jpgaccomplish once they had panicked the United States?

ANNIE JACOBSEN: I wrote a little more about that in the book. I encourage anyone that’s interested in what we’re talking about to read because 400 pages +100 pages of notes hopefully gives you those answers, but again I couldn’t possibly imagine putting myself in the shoes of Josef Stalin, nor would I want to.

PHAWKER: Fair enough. I also watched this ABC news report where they claim to have tracked down your source and they characterize him as a sweet old man who may not be so credible or reliable anymore. Is there anything you’d like to clarify form that broadcast?

ANNIE JACOBSEN: Protecting the anonymity of my source has and always will be paramount to me because that’s honoring my work to him, but I have seen him since and he does stand by everything written in the book.

PHAWKER: And what about this T. D. Barnes fellow who apparently cooperated with the book and is now claiming that he feels swindled with the ending chapter of the book?

ANNIE JACOBSEN: Again, I would never want to place myself in anybody else’s shoes about why they say certain things, so I would say you can certainly ask him.

PHAWKER: In your estimation, would you be one of these people who think that secret military activity could explain the majority of UFO sightings in the latter half of the twentieth century?

ANNIE JACOBSEN: Well I certainly write a lot about UFO sightings and UFOs being unidentified flying objects and how they link up to Area 51. One example I write about is that in the middle of the 1950s when the U-2 was flying out of Area 51, according to the CIA , it accounted for more than half of the UFO sightings on the West Coast. That same problem later happened in the 1960s when the A-12 Oxcart, the CIA mach-3 spy plane that was a precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird, when that was flying out of Area 51, there was the same issue with lots of UFO sightings. I interviewed Commander Slater in the book. He was in charge of Area 51 during Oxcart and he told me these great stories which I relay in the book about commercial pilots flying over Nevada and looking up and seeing the Oxcart at 90,000 feet, seeing it whiz by at mach-3, and many of the passengers in the plane seeing that same thing and drawing a very logical conclusion which was, that must be a UFO, since no one had any idea that plane existed. And commander Slater would get a call when that pilot would report that to the FAA. Slater would have to call the FBI and the FBI would meet the place wherever, say LAX, and make the pilots and all the passengers sign inadvertent disclosure agreements saying that they wouldn’t ever say anything about what they saw. And you can imagine how that would foster the idea that, well we must have seen a UFO.

PHAWKER: It would be useful for the government if they were wanting to keep military aerospace research secret. It’s a useful cover story to have people speculating that this is little green men from other planets all the time, correct?

ANNIE JACOBSEN: I write about that in the book. I think it’s endlessly fascinating because you have this idea of information and disinformation and using information and half-truths to perpetuate a myth or giving straight-out misinformation. The Soviets were doing this constantly. It was a hallmark of their work against the United States government during the Cold War. In fact they’re the ones that came up with the world’s worse disinformation and the CIA became so alarmed and ultimately paranoid about Soviet disinformation that one of its most legendary players, a man by the name of James Jesus Angelton, he created this very famous concept called the Wilderness of Mirrors, and that was the idea that the Soviets might be able to defeat the Americans through all this propaganda and disinformation they were feeding our way and that the West would become ensnared and lost by sort of looking into the looking glass and seeing back reflections, and being completely unable to distinguish between what is truth and what is lies. This is an essential theme in my book and UFOs are one element of that puzzle. On that note I have to get to another appointment.

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COMING ATTRACTION: Q&A With Annie Jacobsen, Author of Area 51: An Uncensored History Of America’s Top Secret Military Base

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011


Among other things we ask her to clarify her jaw-dropping claims that the infamous UFO crash at Roswell was actually a Nazi-designed flying saucer piloted by children surgically disfigured to look like ETs, sent by Stalin to trigger mass hysteria in the U.S. a la War Of The Worlds. Look for it tomorrow on a Phawker near you!

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