The Middleman

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mark Schapiro’s story. What strikes me about Asher Karni and others profiting from the sale and distribution of this advanced technology is how easily they seem to slip from responsible, ethical and moral men, respected by their communities, to cold-blooded reptiles willing to sacrifice anyone and anything for a quick monetary profit. As Mr. Schapiro points out, the international traffic in dual-use nuclear technology is difficult to track due to the nature of dual-use technology and the fact that it can be legally marketed above ground in the guise of medical technology. The fact that the hospital in Pakistan flatly denies any knowledge of the triggers deal or of any contact with Asher Karni is indeed suspicious. The evidence Mr. Schapiro presents in the form of e-mail correspondence between Karni and the Islamabad businessman, Humayun Khan, serves to further implicate Karni and it is not much of a stretch with their backgrounds and savvy as businessmen, to conclude that they knew exactly what they were doing.

Perhaps this is a surprising enterprise for a Jewish man to seemingly be involved with importing devices that could destroy his homeland. When it comes to ethical trade practices versus a chance to make $80,000.00 profit, all bets are off. These people seem to be able to convince themselves at the time that they are fully within legal and ethical bounds to push a deal such as this through with no thought to consequences. It did sound as if there were some traces of remorse and acceptance responsibility for his actions when Asher Karni appeared before Judge Patricia A. Coan, but that could change too.

As for Rabbi Altman’s statement: “…If you want to find a terrorist, you can find a terrorist. If you want to find a businessman, you can find a businessman.”, I think the Rabbi needs to realize that a terrorist and a businessman need not be mutually exclusive. Society needs to look at the war on terrorism and see that it involves not only armed insurgents in the desert, but businessmen looking to profit from the sale of potentially more destructive weapons components. This is a very complex subject that involves drawing conclusions about the protection of the state versus the rights of individuals; the needs of medical technology versus a catastrophic nuclear bomb trigger.

Will we learn anything from history? It doesn’t seem as though we have to date. Although history may scare us, we seem doomed to relive it. Our only hope is that we can recognize the present for what it is. This well researched and thought provoking article by Mark Schapiro is an excellent example of timely and worthwhile investigative reporting. My thanks to Mr. Schapiro for writing it and to Mother Jones for publishing it.


We’ll Always Have Paris

Great article on the estate tax. Like your letter-writing reader, Anna Fogle, I was surprised–and disappointed–that you didn’t mention United for a Fair Economy’s years-long efforts to fight repeal of the federal estate tax. We have built coalitions, lobbied congress, and taken ads in big newspapers to feature famous and wealthy opponents of repeal. We have a “Call to Preserve the Estate Tax” that over 5000 Americans have signed. We have sponsored letter-writing, feature article, and op-ed campaigns across the nation. We even developed and spun off a group of creative action-takers, Billionaires for Bush, to fight estate tax repeal. I’d like to send you a copy of our co-founder, Chuck Collins’, book, “Wealth and Our
Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes”, if you tell me you’d like one and where to send it. It was co-authored by Bill Gates Sr.

I’d also like to draw your attention to our newest short report: “Taxpayers for a Day.” (
It’s about how Wall Street CEOs pushing for Social Security privatization have the most to gain and the least to lose from such proposed schemes.
It’s co-authored by United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for America’s Future.

Christina Kasica
United for a Fair Economy

Do Something … But What?

The piece today by Bradford Plumer is very useful (though I think it finally overstates the risks of intervention).

“It would be near impossible, moreover, to patrol for the countless helicopter gunships swarming the area. And Sudan would certainly be capable of defending its airspace with its fleet of advanced Chinese and Russian fighter jets.”

Khartoum has a very limited number of HIND helicopter gunships (but they have indeed [been] used to extraordinarily deadly effect). Their use in the three Darfur states has diminished very significantly in recent weeks.

Secondly, Khartoum has some jets, but only a few that are not relics by NATO standards. There is certainly nothing that could count as a fleet of “advanced Chinese and Russian fighter jets.” These ( only 10 MiG29s) have only recently been acquired (by oil revenues) and there are not skilled pilots who could in fact make use of them for defensive military purposes in Darfur. They most certainly could not “defend” Sudan’s airspace from any remotely sophisticated military intrusion.

Eric Reeves
Smith College

The Side Effects of Truth

If anything, we need more David Grahams. If Dr. Graham had been around back in the early 1960’s, perhaps my son might not have been hospitalized and near death in the hospital the following week. He was tied to a board and needles in both arms and legs to rehydrate him after losing half his body weight.

The problem is verified in the Journal of Dental Research, Vol. 69, Feb. 1990, Special Issue, in Drs. Pendrys and Stamm’s article about infant formulas containing lethal amounts of fluorides (up to 7.34 mg/L), pages 529-538. The specific information is on page 533:
“Following an American Dental Association-sponsored meeting, the manufacturers of infant foods realized the need to monitor,
and in certain cases reduce, the fluoride ion concentrations in their products.”

I have to wonder how many babies were affected and may have died to bring this to their attention. The soy-based infant formulas were the highest, ie.: 7.34 mg/L, which my pediatritian prescribed since my son was allergic to milk and milk products.

Anita Knight

This article is an amazing look at what has taken place in America. I am a civil service employee for Dept. of Children and Family Services in California. The psychotropic drugs given to the children are numerous and in most cases unnecessary. The schools and some of the caregivers are using any excuse to medicate the children they find “difficult to control”. We are all just standing by and watching this horror happen. I wish an investigation could be conducted regarding the children in foster care. These children are under the courts supervision and their parents are left out of the decisions to medicate and over medicate their children. Some of these small children are on several psych drugs over long periods of time. What a mess. There seems to have been a decision made to medicate or handcuff black children in America.

Ernest Pappas

The End of Poverty: An Interview with Jeffrey Sachs

As long as we use money or credits or hours worked as a medium of exchange, we will always have poverty. The thing that makes money valuable is the desire for it. The more limited the supply, the greater the demand, the more the product is valued. For money to have value, a great many people must want money. If no one wanted it, money would be worth only the paper it was printed on.

As long as money is used, capitalism/wage slavery/economic blackmail MUST have a desperate impoverished class to do the work to keep money valuable to allow the powerful and wealthy to live in luxury. Oil has value because wars are fought to control it, paid for by taxing the poor. Hemp oil, biomass oil could do just as good a job as oil, but where would the profit be in that?

Without money, waste and environmental destruction would be discouraged. Human Rights would be extended and protected. Worker safety would be more than lip service paid by employers. Food would not be destroyed to keep the price of groceries up. A global healthcare system could be organized and effected. Starvation, refugees, drought, epidemics, slavery, corruption, piracy, injustice, greed, murder for money, homelessness, ignorance, war, overpopulation could all be addressed and overcome.

But not by using money.

Timothy Gilmore

Left, Right, & Wrong

I would simply like to give Mr. Keizer my compliments on a most thoughtful essay. His credentials as an Episcopalian priest inspired my trust. (I, a Methodist, have vacillated between forgiveness and righteous anger in my dealings with right-wing Christians.)

I recently saw the movie “What the bleep do we know?” and had a very different reaction from Mr. Keizer. The fact that quantum physicists and spiritual gurus are coming together in their thinking is exciting to me. The power of love will always prevail, in the long term, and those of us who choose to do whatever we can to bring the peace and justice of heaven to earth can experience a bit of joy as we work together.

Mr. Keizer’s ideas about private charity vs. political action for the public good are very wise. I have tried to exercise a combination of the two, but I see more clearly now the inherent problem with wealth.

Thank you for a great magazine! I will make a greater effort to read it in the future. It is heartening to know there are so many wise and articulate people in our world today!

Carolyn C. Peterson

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