August 15 2006
Hell'sbrew of a story, actually....
Editor: I am wondering if there is any reason at all for this story - Hellbrew' is cheap, simple to make (11 Aug/06) (also copied at the end of this letter) aside from trying to make everyone afraid, and justify an ever-increasing police presence in our lives? Do you really see this as your job as an important Canadian newspaper, to cheerlead government programs and initiatives? Who is it you are working for - citizens who want to be free and need good, reliable information about their country and world to make good decisions, or the government which wants more and more control over them, and thus must feed them only certain kinds of information and opinion to direct them to certain paths?
This story is very much NOT of the 'good, honest reporting' variety, as it is full of holes and inaccuracies - perhaps even outright lies, although without knowing the mind of your reporter or interviewees one cannot be certain of this; it is certainly possible these are well-meaning but simply grossly ignorant (as in stupid) people - there are certainly no shortage of such out there in a country dumbed down extremely by years of mind-mushing American-Canadian lowest-common-denominator television and the recent few years of waaaaaay-overboard 'terrorism-panic' fostered by the media (considering another of your recent offerings, Fighting Al Quaeda must take priority, that unfortunately I don't have time to dissect in the way it deserves, that was most certainly the sound of a finger pointing).
Your story begins with what appears to be a simple lie - "They call it Hellbrew in the Middle East" - isn't it odd that the only references to Hellbrew (as a Middle East explosive) that Google can locate come from (dada!!) - your own Toronto Star story and your central interviewee!!! (Note for 'reporters' - don't put such silly and transparent
lies assertions that appear to have no grounding in fact in the first sentence of your stories - when they are seen to be what they are (as they are by many), it tends to cast doubt on the rest of the 'story' - read up on some of the classical propagandists and liars, who will tell you that lies ought to be surrounded by truthful things if possible, to gain some credibility thereby - sending a brand new fiction out on its own right at the head of a story is almost certain to result in disaster, especially when dealing with people who have been lied to a great deal recently by various 'authorities' and are becoming ever more sceptical (although of course there are those of us wondering if this whole airport 'terrorism' alert wasn't a test run to see just how gullible the citizens have been rendered the last few years, just how much they will believe - many reports indicate that most are very sceptical of this whole thing, full-spectrum inundation about "TERRIBLE TERRORIST MASS MURDER PREVENTED OHMYGODWOWWWW!!!!" from media and government notwithstanding) ....- concerning the ongoing "Wow! Look at us! We stopped ANOTHER massive terrorist attack! (But you can't see the evidence, it's all top secret! You trust us though, don't you? hahaha!)" program we've been exposed to lately, you might also check out a children's fable called 'Chicken Little' that deals with this kind of thing.... booga-booga!! booga-booga!!)
And then you carry on to some 'insights' offered by one John Thompson, of the Mackenzie Institute, a 'Canadian think tank on terrorism and organized violence' - with no comments offered from any other more questioning perspective, such as the one in this letter. When assessing such comments (aside from the fact that what is apparently his very first quote, the 'hellbrew' one, is quickly shown to be complete fabrication) one thing the intelligent inquirer notes is that 'institutes' devoted to such things as terrorism or organised crime, etc, have something of a vested interest in these things - that is to say, if it turns out that there is not really much terrorism in our country or world, for instance, then why support such institutes? Quite obviously, it is in the interest of such people to promote the idea that there is a lot of terrorism in the world or country, and that we are all at grave risk, and that their 'expertise' is sorely needed. Sure beats a day job at the hardware store, I expect, for those not inclined to such things but needing to make a living somewhere. But is it useful for We the Citizens to have a gang of professional Chicken Littles running around like this, screaming "TERRORISTS ARE COMING!! TERRORISTS ARE COMING YOU'RE ALL IN DANGER DUCK DAMMIT AND LISTEN TO WHAT WE EXPERTS TELL YOU!!!" every time we turn around? Some of us think not, actually. (But we don't get much space in the Star, anymore, and even less since the corporate takeover last year, for some reason). But wouldn't it be useful to have some commentary or opinions from others whose very careers are not dependant upon the existence of what they say they are experts in? Wouldn't it be useful to be actually exploring this issue in some depth, rather than playing the government role of promoting fear of 'terrorism!!' in the citizens? Wouldn't it be useful for everyone if, instead of promoting fear-induced hysteria in the population based on evil bogeymen wanting to blindly kill and destroy, you did a series on such questions as, Does 'terrorism' actually exist in the world? Are our own governments terrorist at times, or do their actions provoke reactions from others which are then labelled as 'terrorist acts'? What do the 'terrorists' actually want (hint - do NOT put "WORLD ISLAMOFASCIST STATE!!!!" at the top of the list - few people with brainpower sufficient for activities more advanced than walking and chewing gum at the same time actually believe this, all your fearmongering aside)? What can we do to convince them to stop their 'terroristic acts'? (hint: do not put "KILL EM ALL AND LET GOD SORT EM OUT" at the top of the list). etc and etc.
If you were really interested in informing your readers instead of booga-booga-ing them, you might, for instance, concerning the 'hellbrew' story, ask some questions that actually probed this supposed terrible explosive your other 'expert' says was the 'weapon of choice' of the alleged 'terrorists', the horrible AP (ohmygodduck!!). For instance, if this stuff is so very easy to make, as your second 'expert' says (whose name you don't even manage to spell correctly, where ARE you getting your staff these days? Sort of a 'rush' job story, I suppose, no time to check irrelevant details, pile on the booga-booga today while the Great Foiled Terrorist Caper of Heathrow is still fresh in the minds of the marks! Quick now!) and the country so full of people who hate us, as you seem to like to portray - then why aren't there explosions going off all over the place? Why, for instance, didn't the "terrorists" a few weeks ago who were planning heinous crimes (as you reported), instead of talking all their terrible plans over with the RCMP spies and informants and even get some instructions from them and then buy the 'bomb' materials from them (sorry if that sounds a little cartoonish, but it's just the way you say it happened), just drive 'round to the nearest hardware store, pick up a few readily available household ingredients, have a little chemistry session in their kitchen (only takes a half hour!!! anyone can do it!!! promises one of your 'experts') - and then go around blowing stuff up? Why aren't they doing this every weekend, I mean, they 'hate' us all and our freedoms so much, and all that, and these explosives are just SO easy to make and all - why aren't we seeing train stations and airplanes and all kinds of stuff blown up every week? Hmmmm - something isn't smelling quite right here, at least to me, although your intrepid reporter isn't seeming to detect anything he should be asking questions about - well trained lad, I suppose, on a career path and learning what the corporate press is looking for, or not as the case may be. Let's see - although Google finds no references to "hellbrew" (aside from mishmashes of junk, not unlike the 'hellbrew of nonsense' this 'story' itself might be called, actually), there are a number of places where you can find a Detailed description of the synthesis of acetone peroxide. And upon reading this, one will find that the stuff is apparently makable (the guy who wrote this sounds much more credible than whoever wrote your story, with details and stuff rather than wild speculation and unfounded statements), but it is difficult to do properly, and requires keeping it quite cold during the process, and even afterwards it is very unstable. Another source, Wikipedia, even notes that "...even nitroglycerine is more stable.." !!!!! my my. Me, now, I wouldn't want to be mixing up something less stable than nitro in an airplane cabin at 30,000 feet! Of course, this wouldn't bother 'terrorists' whose goal was to bring down the plane anyway, I suppose - but still, if the stuff goes off unexpectedly becuase of aircraft turbulence or something, and explodes in the middle of the cabin somewhere around the supposed terrorist's body rather than in a vulnerable place next to the aircraft body, the plane might not come down, which would seem to be unhelpful to 'the terrorists'. And it could be hard on the fingers and stuff while practicing in Mom's kitchen - people whose only objective is killing others because they hate freedom don't usually have the brainpower to make reliable amateur chemists (even our great Freedom Fighters ought to be careful - I mean, can you imagine George W concocting this in his kitchen without some mishaps? It is to LOL, actually - and are we going to sit here and calmly assert that heck, any old terrorist is smarter than the President of the World's Leading Democracy?), who are forced to be at least a little discriminating with the details, so lots of accidents can be expected during the learning curve for stuff like this - of course, if these guys are hiding under every mosque in Canada, not to mention lots of other places, (as you seem to imply) then there are lots of bodies to spare, I suppose. Although you'd think some of these accidental kitchen mishaps would make the news. You don't suppose - nah. (It does raise the interesting sort of question, though, of what the airport 'security' people were thinking when they got all the passengers to dump all their liquids together in some big vat at the security checkpoint at the airport - hmm, acetone alone, ok, peroxide alone, ok, mystery liquid 3 alone (sulphuric acid or whatever), ok - but acetone plus peroxide plus liquid 3 together KABOOM!!! - ok folks, start dumping, all that stuff together here, now, and we'll just see if any of y'all got terrorist bomb stuff there... geez, do any of you people have brains anymore? The inquiring mind truly does wonder sometimes....)
Now, to be clear, I am not saying that this chemical concoction, carefully prepared ahead of time, is not used by 'terrorists' at any time - who knows? - that's another story for another day - what I am saying is that it appears your 'experts' are cartoonizing the story (others might even say lying) to create a false impression in your readers, and promote a story given out by the police - a story we might recall with no evidence offered, and this story from a group who have been shown in the recent past to be not that concerned with the truth when it comes to justifying their often quite questionable activities to the people they are supposed to be 'serving' (i.e. here) - not unlike the Star, of course, carrying 'stories' like this that obviously have no real purpose in terms of 'informing' the public, but serve as nothing more than scare stories. The world is a natually stable place, not full of potential explosions just waiting to happen by mixing commonly available grocery store stuff together, and there is a great deal more to making these or any other types of explosives than buying a bit of peroxide and paint thinner or whatever and pouring them into the same bottle and pointing your 'specially rigged IPOD!!' at them and 'boom!' - and for you to attempt to give your readers the very false impression that things are otherwise is doing everyone a great disservice. Including yourselves - the media is suffering from an ongoing loss of credibility these days, and stories like this are a perfect example of why.
From Outside the Box -
Green Island Veritas
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Hellbrew' is cheap, simple to make
Used for suicide vests, expert says
Main ingredients peroxide, acetone
Aug. 11, 2006. 01:00 AM
In the Middle East, they call it Hellbrew.
British police are now saying the 24 alleged bombers arrested in Britain yesterday were probably planning to use a homemade, peroxide-based liquid to blow up the 10 U.S.-bound planes they had targeted.
John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute, a Canadian think-tank on organized violence, said he's pretty sure he recognizes which solution the terrorists had in mind.
"Triacetone triperoxide was the weapon of choice for the Palestinians during the second intifada. It's the preferred weapon for a lot of jihadists," said Thompson, who's been studying terrorist bomb-making techniques for over 20 years.
"It's really powerful for its weight, so it's used a lot in suicide bombers' vests."
Anyone with half an hour, a set of instructions found online and about $75 can easily make the stuff.
"You could make it in your kitchen," said Prof. Bhibou Mohanty, an explosives expert at the University of Toronto.
Mohanty said the major ingredients are peroxide, which is found in hair bleach, and acetone, which is found in most types of paint. Mix them in the right quantities, use some aluminium powder to increase potency — and you've got yourself a ready-made bomb.
The compound has advantages beyond its simple makeup. For instance, said Mohanty, it's really easy to get it to explode.
"It can be ignited, as opposed to detonated," he said. That means that a simple match or lighter would be enough to start an explosion.
Because it's a liquid, it can be stored in places where airport security officials might not look. Thompson said just a small eyedrop container could hold enough of the solution (properly mixed, of course) to bring down an aircraft.
British police have not confirmed the use of a peroxide-based solution. All they know for sure so far is that the explosives came in liquid form.
So in theory, there's still a whole range of possibilities as to what the bombers planned to use. Thompson said there are lots of ways to make a cheap liquid bomb. The only common denominator is that just about anyone can do it.
For instance, explained Mohanty, an ammonium nitrate-based bomb can be made using just fertilizer, diesel oil and water.
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