The Hightower Report

An anonymous Congressman gives generously to Eli Lilly by sticking it to autistic children; and something stinks at the Pentagon -- literally.

The Smells of War

War stinks, as we know, but now those madcap experimenters in charge of the Pentagon's Department of Turning Anything and Everything Into Weapons That Eat Taxpayers' Money have come up with several possibilities for making war stinkier yet.

The objective of this multimillion-dollar R&D program is to weaponize stench. We're not talking about the nasty smell of two-day-old road kill or of the gagging power of an overloaded Porta Potti on a hot day. Instead, we're talking about both of these combined, with some rotten eggs and hot beer breath thrown in for good measure. The military hopes to extract the essence of these "malodorants," as it calls them, and pack them into canisters that can be fired at armies, unruly crowds, protesters, Democrats, and others whom the military doesn't like.

Among the horrific smells that they've already bottled are ones labeled "Bathroom Malodor," "Burned Hair," and simply, "Stench Soup." Courageous journalists at the Los Angeles Times sniffed out this story and filed this firsthand report: "Bathroom Malodor had a strongly fecal smell, with sharp notes of spoiled eggs and an undertone of rotting rodent." As for Stench Soup, the reporter said, the smell is so foul "that it fills the mind with white noise."

Pentagon researchers claim that these "odor weapons" should not be considered as chemical warfare, which is outlawed by international treaty, but as psychological warfare. Smells, they note, are powerful triggers of memory and emotions, and repugnant smells not only can cause people to gag and barf, but also to panic and flee. By using smells, they can turn one's own emotions into a weapon of war.

Instead of using disgusting odors, why not spread wonderful scents into the air -- such as a baking pie or a spring garden? This would mellow people out and turn their thoughts away from conflict. Instead of making war, let's stimulate people to make love ... or at least a pie.

Perverse "Philanthropy"

It's said that the noblest philanthropists are not those who give millions of dollars and, in exchange, get their names carved on public buildings, but those who give anonymously, expecting nothing in return.

Well, somewhere in Congress there lurks a charitable "saint" ... at least in terms of anonymous giving. In this case, the gift went to Eli Lilly, the giant drug maker. As part of the bill to create the humongous Department of Homeland Security, some Congress critter generously and silently contributed a special amendment that exempts Eli Lilly from liability for the damage that one of its chemicals can cause for our children.

The chemical is thimerosol, a drug preservative that contains mercury and that might have caused autism and other neurological damage in many children who took drugs containing the additive. Lawsuits by parents against Eli Lilly have sprung up all across the country. But -- poof! -- these suits have now disappeared, thanks to this charitable amendment removing Lilly's liability.

Who was the corporation's congressional benefactor? No one is taking credit. The amendment was snuck into the Homeland Security bill behind closed doors, but none of the negotiators will admit to the giveaway. The Bush White House, which says it's all for this bit of corporate compassion -- and which has extensive ties to Eli Lilly -- nonetheless won't claim credit for inserting the amendment. Even Lilly's CEO, who has been given a coveted seat on the New Homeland Security Advisory Council, says he never even asked for the favor.

Meanwhile, Lilly lawyers are rushing to court to dismiss all of the suits of the families, citing the lucky amendment as its reason. At least one mother, whose son took thimerosol and now suffers severely from autism, cried when she learned of Congress' generosity to Lilly -- "It just makes me sick," she said.

The lawmaker who did this to her is one "philanthropist" whose name deserves to be plastered on a wall of shame somewhere.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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Eli Lilly, Department of Homeland Security, thimerosol, George W. Bush, malodorants, Bathroom Malodor, Burned Hair, Stench Soup, Pentagon

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