Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Likely Reason Fields Planted With Monsanto's GMO Sugar Beets Were Torched

Just a few weeks ago we learned that Monsanto's gmo'ed wheat seeds miraculously returned to life, a full twelve years after a test planting in 16 states, including Oregon, afterwhich the GMO wheat seeds were 'wholly destroyed'. 

If you recall, Monsanto and its whor  excuse me, 'professors' claimed that the study involved" 'Very rigorous' protocols (that) controlled the work at agricultural research stations", and at the conclusion of the test planting:  
"GM seeds were burned, buried six feet underground or shipped back to Monsanto", said Oregon State University professor Robert Zemetra. Wide "no-plant" areas were maintained around test sites to prevent pollen movement from the GM wheat to other crops. Testing sites were checked two years after the trials for the presence of "volunteer" wheat plants that might have popped up."

The 'risen from the dead' GMO'ed wheat popping up thru the Earth came at a very inopportune time for Monsanto's operations on in Oregon. 

After years of fighting vocal opposition from neighboring organic and small family farmers, buying politicians with their lobbyists and burrowing their way into Oregon State University's crop sciences department; Monsanto finally swayed Oregon's Department of Agriculture this February into allowing GMO'ed canola seeds to be planted in the Wilamette Valley. (more Here)

But since the 'very rigorous protocols' and burning and burying of the wheat seeds and the 'wide no-plant areas' failed miserably to curb Monsanto's dainty and delicate wheat seeds from springing back to life, just last month the Oregon House passed a bill banning canola seeds from the Wilamette Valley for the next five years. Now it remains to be seen if the Senate will in turn approve the bill and pass it on to the governor for signing. (more Here)

Farmers as far away as Kansas are now suing Monsanto for potentially devaluing the wheat they grow and then sell to foreign markets, and an attempt is being made to combine the lawsuits into a Class Action suit. (more Here)

Lost Cree Lake, Jackson County
And now comes word that an 'arsonist(s)' has set alight Monsanto's sugar beet plants that were, until they were torched, growing in SW Oregon's Jackson County. Note it isn't a local arson squad going after the perpetrators, but rather Federal Agents. Is it a federal crime to burn a field of, let's say, corn? I know if someone sets my home alight not to expect agents to come running from D.C. to solve the crime. But again, we live in a fascist state where corporations run the government and we the idiots foot the bill. Just as curious, why is it that this 'crime' that reportedly took place in 'early June' is only being reported on now, nearly a month after the fact? (By the way, I don't know the answer to this question, yet)

Federal investigators are asking the public to help solve middle-of-the-night crimes that left ruined fields of genetically engineered sugar beets in rural Jackson County.

The crop destruction took place over the course of two separate nights in early June, when an unknown individual or group destroyed about 6,500 sugar beet plants genetically engineered to stand up to the herbicide Roundup on a pair of privately-owned plots of land leased and managed by Syngenta.

The first act of what the FBI considers "economic sabotage and a violation of federal law involving damage to commercial agricultural enterprises," took place during the night of June 8, when about 1,000 sugar beet plants on one property were destroyed. Three nights later, the destruction continued on another property, where another 5,500 plants were ruined. 

"It doesn't look like a vehicle was used. It looks like people entered the field and destroyed the plants by hand," said Paul Minehart, head of corporate communications in North America for Syngenta, a global agriculture corporation based in Basel, Switzerland.
Estimates for the damage were not specified but the financial losses are significant, according to FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele.
A group, Oregonians for Food and Shelter, is offering a reward up to $10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the culprits. 
Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba issued a statement about the sabotage.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time someone has deliberately taken the cowardly step of uprooting high value plants growing in our state. Regardless of how one feels about biotechnology, there is no justification for committing these crimes and it is not the kind of behavior we expect to see in Oregon agriculture,” Coba said.
More than decade ago, environmental saboteurs vandalized experimental crops across the country in a revolt against high-tech agriculture.
Foes of genetic engineering also struck in 2000, when members of the Earth Liberation Front, with roots in Oregon, set fire to agriculture offices at Michigan State University. ELF's position was that genetic engineering was "one of the many threats to the natural world as we know it."
Have information about the destruction? Ring the local offices of the FBI at (541) 773-2942 during normal business hours or call the FBI in Portland anytime at (503) 224-4181

A couple more questions. 

Why is a Swiss agricultural corporation (Syngenta is another of the very evil corporate entities that are thriving in these thoroughly judaified early days of the 21st century) growing Monsanto's crap in rural Oregon? 

And what is 'Oregonians for Food and Shelter'? Why are these Oregonians offering up $10K of their own money to find the heroes  oops - culprits - no ...  may we say .... 'terrorists' who set fire to freaky plants? And, why is setting fire to freaky plants a federal crime? And, just since I'm a bit stoned and in a quizative frame of mind right now, what is NOT
a federal crime these days? (The last one's a question I've no hope of answering - not even the sychopath-in-charge, Eric Holder, can figure that one out). 

I'll not go into great detail here, but instead give you the broad overview of what Syngenta's all about. Formed 13 years ago, Syngenta has very close ties to Monsanto, and some of their business overlaps. According to wiki,
Syngenta is a large global Swiss specialized chemicals company which markets seeds and pesticides. Syngenta is involved in biotechnology and genomic research. The company was ranked third in total seeds & biotech sales in 2009 in the commercial market.[2]Sales in 2010 were approximately US$ 11.6 billion. Syngenta employs over 27,000 people in over 90 countries. Syngenta is listed on both the Swiss stock exchange and in New York. 

Syngenta is an amalgamation of Novartis and Zeneca. Novartis was formed when Geigy, Sandoz and Ciba merged at different times. Sandoz was the pharmacological lab that produced LSD, the drug our federal government was so eager to turn the world on to that they dosed the French town of Pont-Saint-Esprit one fine morning in 1951. The residents didn't seem to take too well to trippin' out - madness and death ensued and the outbreak was blamed on a local baker who must have baked a really funky batch of bread that early morning. I don't know what happened to the baker, but I can't imagine his business survived. Oh well.... have to break a few eggs and all that...

Oh, and why is this fine Swiss corporation growing these altered sugar beets in Oregon? Oh right - because it is against Swiss law to grow GMO crops on Swiss soil. 

And Oregonians for Food and Shelter? Aside from the fact that they came up with a goose-bump inducing name, OFFS really isn't about 'food and shelter' for the masses. Instead it represents corporate interests that just so happen to make a great deal of money cutting trees and growing crops and selling chemicals for business interests to spray on forests and farm and ranch lands. 


Eric Geyer, 2012 Chairman, Roseburg Forest Products

Jerry Anderson, Hancock Timber Resource Group

Luke Bergey, Miami Corporation
Ron Borisch, Longview Timber Corp.
Andy Bryant, Yamhill Environmental Services, Timber Division
Mike Fahey, Columbia Helicopters, Inc.
Jake Gibbs, Lone Rock Timber Management Company
David Hampton, Hampton Affiliates
Chris Jarmer, Oregon Forest Industries Council
Greg Miller, Weyerhaeuser Company
Ted Reiss, Seneca Jones Timber Company


Mark Dunn, 2012 Vice Chair J.R. Simplot Company
Barry Bushue, Oregon Farm Bureau
Jean Godfrey, Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers
Mike Iverson, Oregon Fresh Market Growers Association
Rick Jacobson, NORPAC Foods, Inc.
Jerry Marguth, Oregon Seed Council
Blake Rowe, Oregon Wheat Growers League
Carol Russell, Russell Cranberry Company
Craig Smith, Northwest Food Processors Association
Currently vacant Oregon Association of Nurseries


Doug Hoffman, 2012 Secretary WILCO – Winfield, LLC
Bruce Alber, Past Chair Wilbur-Ellis Company
Curt Dannen, Crop Production Services, Inc.
Mike Diamond, Monsanto Company
Debbie Ego, Rasmussen Spray Service
Danelle Farmer, Syngenta Crop Protection
Cindy Finlayson, Umatilla Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Jim Fitzgerald, Far West AgriBusiness Association
Jerry Harchenko, Pacific NW Aerial Applicators Alliance
Brendan McCarthy, Portland General Electric
Kent Pittard, DuPont
April Snell, Oregon Water Resources Congress
Bryan Stuart, Western Regional Alliance
Andrea Vogt, RISE

All those big names, I'd expect more than a measly $10K reward. Some of these old families have more than $10K in change lost under their couch cushions. 

But the real rub is this:

Syngenta and other growers of Sugar Beets in Southern Oregon are breaking laws and, so far, are not being held accountable: 

Biotech company violated USDA isolation requirements for GM sugar beet crops in Southern Oregon; USDA does nothing

Residents of Jackson County, Oregon have organized an initiative to ban the production of genetically modified plants in the county. Organizers of GMO-Free Jackson County have submitted a county ordinance and are collecting signatures with the aim of putting the initiative on the ballot for an election in 2013 or 2014. The initiative was launched in response to concerns that seeds for genetically modified Roundup Ready sugar beets were being grown in close proximity—and illegally—to producers of organic crops.

Illegal plantings all over the Rogue Valley

Last February, Chris Hardy, owner of Village Farm in Ashland, Oregon, discovered that a neighbor was growing GM sugar beet seeds just one-quarter of a mile from his small organic farm in Ashland, Oregon.
The neighbor was growing the beets under contract with biotechnology company Syngenta for seed production.
The problem was that his neighbor’s GM sugar beet plants could cross pollinate with—and contaminate—Hardy’s chard and table beet plants, ruining their organic status.
“I told him ‘are you serious?’” Hardy said. “I thought this was outrageous.”
Another even bigger problem was that the GM plantings violated US Department of Agriculture requirements, which call for a 4-mile separation distance between GM beets and other Beta seeds, which includes Swiss chard and table beets. From February 2011 until July 2012, GM sugar beets were partially deregulated by USDA and subject to the 4-mile separation distance.
Hardy contacted Syngenta about the violation and a company representative told him that there were other GM beet seed production fields throughout the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon.
“He said there was a checkerboard of fields ranging in size from one-quarter to 10 acres being grown from South Ashland up to Grants Pass, a distance of about 25 miles,” Hardy said.
Hardy also contacted the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service about Syngenta’s violation of the 4-mile buffer. The agency sent out an inspector who interviewed Hardy and several other farmers, but nothing resulted from it.
“Syngenta was very cavalier, hopscotching all over the valley,” said Brian Comnes, a retired computer project manager in Ashland and one of the organizers of the GMO-free initiative.
Another organic farmer, Steve Fry, owner of Fry Family Farms in Medford, was forced to destroy a chard crop because he found that a neighbor was growing GM sugar beets 400 yards from his farm. Fry was growing the chard for seed but his customer refused to buy the seed because he was concerned it had been contaminated by the GM beets.
“I can’t grow chard seed because the Syngenta guy is down the street,” Fry said. “Once GMOs are in town, everyone has to go away.”

Collecting signatures to put GMO ban on ballot

Following the discovery of the GM beets, Hardy called a meeting of farmers and citizens in Jackson County to alert them, and they organized GMO-Free Jackson County. In May, the group filed a proposed county ordinance that would make it illegal to grow GM plants in the county.
According to Comnes, the group has already collected the required 4662 signatures to get the ordinance on the ballot, but they aim to get more in case some signatures aren’t valid.
“We’d like to get 6500 by December 8 (the deadline to qualify for the next county election),” Comnes said, noting that the Ashland City Council also backs the initiative.
If they achieve that goal, Ordinance No. 635 would appear on the ballot for the next county election, which could be as early as March 2013 or as late as May 2014. If Jackson County voters pass the initiative, the ordinance would become law a year later, meaning it may not take effect until 2015.
Until then, Hardy says it’s a “crapshoot” for Rogue Valley farmers to grow organic chard and table beets because of the GMO contamination threat.
On top of that, in July USDA-APHIS completely deregulated GM sugar beets so the 4-mile isolation distance to protect chard and table beets is no longer a requirement.
If Jackson County voters pass Ordinance No. 635, the county would become the third in the US to pass a GMO ban, following Mendocino and Marin counties in California who passed similar laws in 2004.
- See more at:

I did check, but so far I can find no evidence that our heroes at Oregonians for Food and Shelter have ponied up a $10K reward for information leading to the prosecution of Syngenta.... but now you know why hero(es) burned those god damned gmo'ed sugar beets in the first place. 

Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, the FBI hasn't yet published a toll-free number for folks to call to report GMO'ed crops being grown illegally in Oregon or any other American State. Perhaps they simply don't have the funds or manpower for such a costly and encompassing investigation... 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

As Dallas's Upper Crust Prepare To Celebrate The City's Role in the Murder of President John F. Kennedy, Mayor Promises Heightened Security and Background Checks

What a real leader of men looks like. I'd contrast JFK's profile with Bush or BO, but frankly such images side-by-side are too heartbreakingly tragic to view. 

With the 50th anniversary of the murder of America's last real President fast approaching, the city of Dallas is already preparing itself for the festivities. 

There's concern, however, that the party atmosphere could be sullied by the arrival of 'conspiracy buffs' and other extremist folks of the trouble-making variety. 

It is fortunate, then, that Dallas has a mayor who's 'with it' and knows how to throw a good bash. 
This photo has nothing directly to do with this article, but I laughed so hard when I saw it I just had to post it.

Mike Rawlings, the party planning mayor, has determined that anyone wishing to attend the gala has to first register for tickets. Then the mayor will have an as of yet un-named entity (a public relations outfit? the FBI or other state or federal agency?) run background checks on the prospective merry-makers. If they appear to be party poopers, the mayor will not send them tickets, wisely keeping the riff-raff at bay. 

So, if you plan on being in Dallas, Texas in late November for the civic celebration, be certain to queue now for tickets. But don't be surprised if you are turned away before you reach the bar. This wing-ding is only for those rational folks who know LH Oswald, the Lone Gunman, plotted and committed the murder of our President. And, since you're reading this blog you're likely already on the 'Do Not Invite' list. 

Besides, I've heard you like to spike the punch with LSD.* 


Plans for the 50th anniversary of the murder of President John F. Kennedy at Dealey Plaza in Dallas just got weirder by one whole magnitude. Yesterday Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings unveiled a process that will make security much tighter for the ceremony next November than security would be for a speech by a living president.
This is about a dead president. He won't be there. He's dead. He has been dead for half a century. That's what the ceremony is about.

The plan announced by Rawlings requires people who want to attend the event to apply for tickets months in advance so an entity which the city so far has refused to name can vet them for "extremist ties." I'm pretty sure the unnamed entity doing the vetting is a public relations company, which should pretty much tell you what's really going on here.

But wait. We still need to deal with the weird factor first before diving into details. Mr. Mayor, this is for you. Who are you protecting? Who is it who requires all of this crazy background checking and cop presence? What are we trying to make up for here? It looks like Dallas is trying to show it's not going to allow the assassination to happen again.

First of all, it can't happen again. He's dead. I already said that, didn't I? Sorry. But I'm getting weirded out by this for some reason I can't quite put my finger on yet.

Take a second with me. The accusation of history is not that Dallas allowed it to happen. The accusation is that Dallas did it. If we really want to correct the record somehow, the best way would be not to shoot any more presidents.
Go ahead, dismiss the accusation as unfair and crazy and based on nothing. I won't even argue that with you. But you can only make that argument insofar as the accusation is conspiratorial. You'd be right: Nobody has ever proved anybody in Dallas was in on a conspiracy.

The more powerful and unsettling accusation is that Dallas did it, because Dallas leaders in the early '60s fostered and fomented an atmosphere of political extremism that had to produce a Lee Harvey Oswald sooner or later. The late Stanley Marcus made that argument to me personally in an interview for a book.

So all of this vetting and the fences and the storm troopers and stern warnings and background checks by a PR company. What do you think that looks like, Mr. Mayor? In fact, forget what it looks like. What do you think it is? It's exactly the same kind of weird, parochial, off-the-charts, intolerant extremism that produced the assassination in the first place.

Is that what's got me so weirded out? Somehow, by some hook or crook, in a series of events and behaviors that simply defy reason, you are doing exactly what you want to avoid. You are doing it again.

Yes. You are doing it again. Dallas is displaying the same kind of intolerant jack-boot authoritarian intolerance that it did a half century ago when it was a petri dish for the infection called Lee Harvey Oswald. And, believe me, none of the world press you are so damned worried about will miss that story.

You have been quoted saying that no tickets will go to people deemed by your PR company to have "extremist ties." That's you. None of you, not you Mr. Mayor, not any of your special committee members, none of you should get tickets by this metric, because your whole approach to this event -- a public gathering in a public place to observe and talk about public history -- is extremist to the nth degree.
If you want to screen the crowd for pressure-cooker bombs -- you invoked the Boston Marathon -- do it. Do it that day, at the event. I suspect you'll have to do it anyway. Listen, there is a deep historical record here to show what you really want to do. This is content-based suppression of free speech to keep assassination conspiracy theorists away from the international press you think will show up for the 50th.

Why do you think you have the right to do that? This isn't your event. It doesn't belong to you. It belongs to the public. But you don't believe that, do you? You guys handed out press materials yesterday amounting to five pages of information. I counted six times in those five pages when you said the event will be "paid for by private donations."

You said it six times in five pages. Paid for. What the hell do you think that means? You think you bought it? You think you own the event because of your money? That's obscene, and it's obscene in exactly the same way the atmosphere here was obscene 50 years ago.

Go ahead and surround Dealey Plaza with literal or figurative concertina wire. As I have said here before, it will be a marvelous example of people playing to their own stereotype. Count on lots of street theater. You are making this a much better story for those visiting reporters by making it a much worse one for yourselves.

Oh, I know why it's spooking me so much. Decades ago I covered a story where they dug up Lee Harvey to see if he was really Lee Harvey. They took him to the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office, where the examiner found that he was Lee Harvey. But in the process they brought the stiff back through Dealey Plaza in a coffin in the world's most bizarre motorcade, of which my own vehicle was a part.

You're not thinking ... you wouldn't ... no, you can't even be considering ,,, OMG! Somebody! Call Arlington National Cemetery! Tell them to post extra guards!

*Speaking of LSD, I'm reading a really good book right now entitled A Secret Order, subtitled: Investigating the High Strangeness and Synchronicity in the JFK Assassination by HP Albarelli, Jr. 

I'm still less than 1/2 the way thru the book, but so far it is a great read. It is amazing how many times LSD and doctors come up in the first 100 pages. I knew a little about this government's role in the distribution of LSD and its apparent wish to 'turn on' damn near everyone. But the, as Albarelli calls them, 'synchronicities' that tie together the players in President Kennedy's murder are stunning. 
I recommend the book. 

Also, I happened upon a documentary film a few weeks ago entitled Berkeley in the Sixties. As it was before my time, I was struck by the fact that the Free Speech movement at Berkeley began in the year 1960. I had always assumed it was the mid or even late 60's. 

When one watches film of the students, noticeably missing are glazed eyes and unconstrained boobs (I admit to being slightly disappointed by the absence of the latter), and in fact the student protesters look, well, normal. 

Yet as the film rolls and we sink into the middle then late 60's, the protests devolve. Rather than making life miserable for TPTB at Berkeley and the entire University of California system (and not to mention Governor Reagan) the students march into Oakland and create mayhem for that city's residents, thereby turning off a significant number of black folks (a natural ally) and really pissing off middle class people everywhere. Of course this is also around the same time Ken Kesey and the crew returned to the West Coast and Leary himself also moved back to California. 

Is there a chance the Free Speech Movement that exploded in Berkeley in 1960 was organic? If so, there's little doubt it frightened certain segments of society. And, as always happens when people come together to fight injustice, the movement was infiltrated and usurped. 

If any readers have knowledge of this time in our history, I'd love to read your comments below; especially if you have a take on whether or not this movement's birth was a groundswell of students coming together for a greater good, or if the students were simply played from day one. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Feds Adopt New Measure To Prevent Further Leaking of Their Activities to the Public

In the wake of the Snowden leaks, our masters have wisely initiated a new plan of action to keep us, the idiots who pay the taxes and in return get spied upon, in the dark. 

Called a 'Two Man Rule' (perhaps a more honest name would be '1 gentile and 1 jew rule'); the NSA has vowed no one individual will have access to 'sensitive' information. Instead, every man (and woman) will have a minder to look over their shoulder and keep tabs on what information is being accessed. This should prove to be beneficial to America's unemployment problem. 

Link Here

Former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden, currently on the run, has set a precedent which may hamper future whistleblowers in the United States.
Once the now-fugitive leaked details about surveillance on American citizens to the media, Snowden went on the run — moving from Hong Kong to Russia over the weekend — and is expected to attempt to reach Cuba. The U.S. government has revoked his passport and warned other countries not to help the former contractor on his international travels, predictably using political weight to try and bring the whistleblower to heel and back on American soil.
The former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor leaked information about the controversialPRISM data mining scheme to U.K. publication The Guardian, where the story was quickly picked up by media outlets worldwide. Now charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property, whether or not Snowden manages to board a connecting flight and make it to Ecuador where he has applied for asylum remains to be seen.
There is something ironic about exposing spying in order to be charged with espionage. However, as reported by The New York Times, the situation plunges deeper than including only one individual. Not only has Snowden left an enraged, sleep-deprived government in his wake, but he may be the cause of future headaches for the next generation of IT staff.
The situation between Snowden and the National Security Agency has placed scrutiny on information technology and system administrators worldwide. These IT staff are required to keep systems functional and working smoothly, and so often have unrestricted access to every part of a network.
As 'super users,' system administrators do not always possess relevant security clearance, but are able to access files from a network's root, complete with full privileges.
However, if you have an axe to grind, this responsibility also hands you all the tools and data you need on a plate — something the NSA is determined to stop from happening again.
In a television interview on Sunday, NSA director Gen. Keith B. Alexanderacknowledged this issue, and has outlined plans to boost the security of networks containing sensitive information. The agency is soon to institute a "two-man rule" which would stop the institution's 1,000 system administrators from having complete freedom over a system. Instead, a second check will be required before sensitive information is accessed.
Some agencies already have implemented similar systems, which are comparable to a safe that needs two keys to unlock. However, the concept is not just present in cryptography; instead, other industries also use the system as a safety measure. When a plane is repaired, another engineer is required to pass the vehicle — and the nuclear industry also makes use of similar checks. Now it seems security will also be tightening in the digital field. Eric Chiu, president of computer security firm Hytrust, told the publication:
"The scariest threat is the systems administrator. The systems administrator has godlike access to systems they manage."
Software could also be used to monitor staff access, but a good systems administrator is likely to be able to circumvent such checks. In addition, some U.S. officials argue that more thorough employee vetting protocols are the best long-term solution to stop rogue IT members of staff slipping through the net.
However, even with additional security measures being taken, it's unlikely to prevent whistleblowers from eventually reaching their goals. Chris Simkins, the former Justice Department counterespionage lawyer, commented that it is "more difficult than it sounds" to keep confidential information from being leaked.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Looking Forward to Retirement?

If so, make sure you don't move to a place dominated by Chosens.

I happened upon this article published by the Tampa Bay Times and it (accidentally) does a strikingly good job describing the mental makeup of these people. A keen memory for long-ago slights, an even keener memory for long ago gifts given, and a self-aggrandizing ability to compare ones travails with those suffered by famous and infamous men of days gone by.  

CLEARWATER — Ivan "Van" Farber, 68, careens through suburban traffic beneath a Florida sky the color of ash and indigo, squinting against the wind as his convertible speeds and slows.
Farber's is a face that could have adorned a coin of the Roman Empire, a sloping brow and strong nose that easily express aggrieved dignity. His erratic handling of this Ford Mustang might lack gravitas, but he is nervous just now, as befits a man running from unseen enemies.
It's not his car, anyway. His car went up in flames on Easter.

"My car blew up here," he says, once he has reached his destination, the On Top of the World retirement community off U.S. 19 in Clearwater. Standing in an empty parking space encrusted with melted tire rubber, Farber shakes his head and gestures toward his boarded-up, second-floor condo, damaged twice in recent weeks by arson.
"It's beyond imagination," he says in a Bronx accent. "It's not what people retired to be able to do."
On the stairway, Farber meets an elderly woman whose eyes widen when his white hair and graven features bob into view. He says hello. She moves uneasily toward the elevator.
"She's afraid," Farber says when she is gone. "They're all afraid."
Something strange is going on at On Top of the World, an internationally themed complex for residents age 55 and over.
Turn on Australia Way, drive past the Moorish arches of Building 5 ("Old World Spanish") and the tall, white columns of Building 6 ("Grecian Classic") and you will arrive at Building 7, in the "English Tudor" style, pale taupe walls with brown trim.
Three times in the past two months this place has been an active crime scene. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is investigating the explosion of Farber's car and two fires in his condo as suspected arsons.
But this is the setting for a story that goes back further than that. It is a tale of old age ignited by bitter passions, equal partsPulp Fiction and Cocoon.
It is the story of Van Farber and his neighbors, and its ending is not yet clear.
• • •
On Top of the World was built in the 1960s. The complex of about 6,500 residents — one of the state's first retiree mega-communities — combines an aggressively modern architectural sensibility with Old Florida kitsch.
Its entrance is a triumphal arch on Sunset Point Road, opening on a blue-and-gold globe and parkway lined with bare-breasted Greco-Roman statues. Beyond are rows of cruciform apartment buildings, each with its own It's a Small World-style decorative theme.
Farber moved here in 2000. Before that, he said, he was a schoolteacher and entrepreneur in his native New York City and in Pennsylvania.
On the side, he pursued an interest in progressive political causes. He claims to have worked as a young man for former New York Sens. Robert Kennedy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and says his grandfather, a Jewish barber in the Bronx, was a drinking buddy of political patriarch Joseph Kennedy.
Those claims could not be independently verified, but a more recent piece of his resume is less grandiose: In 2010, he served as a campaign consultant for the late Shelly Leonard, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the Florida House of Representatives.
On Sunday night, March 31, Farber said he was watching Masterpiece Theatre at a neighbor's condo when he heard an explosion. Stepping outside, he saw his car on fire. Others had gathered in the parking lot. One of them, Farber said, was rubbing his hands and laughing in the flames' ruddy glow: his 64-year-old neighbor, George Landis.
Once, the men were friends. When Landis first moved in, Farber, a longtime resident, took the newcomer under his wing. He took him to baseball games, Farber said, and gave him a bicycle as a token of fellowship.
Things changed at a Tampa Bay Rays game two years ago. While leaving Tropicana Field, Landis, who had been drinking, got in an altercation with a police officer.
According to court records, Landis was arrested and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and assault on a law enforcement officer, receiving probation. But depending on whom you ask, the incident had more far-reaching consequences.
Farber said his cooperation with the police investigation turned Landis against him and led others at On Top of the World to brand him an informer.
"They have this snitch thing," Farber said. "You don't snitch on a neighbor."
It is Landis, Farber alleges in court documents, who planted a bomb in his car in retaliation for the episode. When that failed, Farber recently testified before a judge, Landis set fire to his condo twice in mid May. On both occasions, Farber wasn't home.
"He's threatened my life," Farber said. "The real frustration is that he's blown up my car, he's set off bombs in my condo, it's uninhabitable, and the sheriff's department doesn't have him in jail. It's unbelievable."
Landis is a shambling Vietnam veteran with hearing aids, watery hazel eyes and a thin mustache. About 5½ feet tall, he is 7 inches shorter and weighs 90 pounds less than Farber. He speaks in a slow and heavily sandpapered murmur that is the opposite of his antagonist's mile-a-minute drone.
Landis denies bombing Farber's car or setting fire to his condo. He acknowledges they had a falling out, but said it was over a business deal gone sour, not his arrest at the Rays game. He asserts that he gave Farber $37,000 for a condo at On Top of the World.
"Van sold it to me on a handshake," Landis said. "I'm from the old school." At the time, Landis admits, he was in the throes of a serious drinking problem.
Farber did not own the condo Landis believed he had bought; it is owned by Farber's son, Scott, a New York resident. Landis moved into the unit and continues to occupy it, but Scott Farber sued him in February, seeking to force him out.
Scott Farber declined to comment for this story. Van Farber denies ever taking money from Landis. "His whole story is a lie, start to finish," Farber said.
Elizabeth Minor, a 59-year-old Clearwater resident, loaned Farber the convertible he was driving on a recent afternoon. She said he is a benevolent figure in the English Tudor building, frequently taking neighbors along to his beloved Rays games and running errands for disabled occupants of the complex.
Minor said she once heard Landis make menacing remarks to Farber when she was visiting On Top of the World to go swimming. The recent fires have saddened and disturbed her. "I think it's horrific," she said. "I don't go over there anymore."
• • •
The mutual recriminations between Farber and Landis quickly become exhausting, but this is not a simple story of a one-on-one feud. Farber paints himself as a victimized Good Samaritan, but many who have dealt with him have a different view.
In his 12 years at On Top of the World, Farber has built an impressive record of disagreement with and alienation from his neighbors. Complaints against him have been extensively documented through letters to the complex's management team and reports to the Pinellas Sheriff's Office.
His alleged transgressions range from the obnoxious — hogging the building's storage space — to the weirdly aggressive. Cecile Sangiamo, 77, has lived at On Top of the World for 20 years. She said she was once at a potluck with Farber and Shelly Leonard, who had a pet cockatoo.
"I was repelled," she said. "Around food … the bird could just make his droppings. And the feathers." When she complained, she said, Farber threatened to throw her down a flight of stairs.
Three residents — Landis, Josephine Pleskach and Tom Kovach — have filed for restraining orders against Farber. He has also filed for injunctions against them, as well as against Roy Satkowski, the 66-year-old co-chairman of the English Tudor building residents' committee.
Even before the fires, the Sheriff's Office was involved. In March, Deputy Frank Felicetta was called after Farber, allegedly wielding a metal pipe or similar instrument, "started banging … on the ground and yelling loudly" at Landis, claiming Landis was violating a protective injunction by approaching him too closely.
"It appears (Farber) may be suffering from mental illness, as evidenced by his recent behavior," Felicetta wrote in a report. Farber was taken into custody under the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows for forcible psychiatric examination of those who might pose a danger to themselves or others.
Farber was released and two days later was charged with felony aggravated assault after he was accused of threatening Kovach, who is 70. Kovach was arrested the same day on a misdemeanor charge of violating one of Farber's injunctions. Both men have pleaded not guilty and the cases are pending.
In 2012, Satkowski wrote a letter to On Top of the World management warning that if Farber was "allowed to continue with this kind of behavior someone will be killed."
Landis, Kovach, Pleskach, Satkowski, Sangiamo — all distrust Farber and say they are exasperated with his dramatic tales of firebombs and threats upon his life. They say there is no mystery as to who destroyed his car or set the condo fires.
By their account, Farber did it all himself.
• • •
The strife at the English Tudor building is not unusual. Retirement communities and condominium associations can be bellicose environments. Disagreements over storage space, pool hours and pet policies can lead to surprising acrimony.
But rarely do they lead to a car in flames. Faced with the recent spate of arsons, a number of residents are voicing the suspicion that Farber is destroying his own property — endangering others in the process — in an attempt to frame Landis.
"It all pertains to what he's trying to do to George. He's trying to say that George did all this," Satkowski said. "He's done it himself. Everyone around here will testify to that." Satkowski acknowledges there is "no positive proof" of this claim.
Pleskach, 71, said she thinks there was no car bomb, only a fire that Farber lit in his own automobile, igniting something combustible. "He's a nutcase," she said.
Farber denies the allegations, calling them absurd. Neither the vehicle nor his home was insured, he says. He asserts that Pleskach, Satkowski and others who side with Landis are conspiring against him. Landis has gathered allies, Farber alleges, by volunteering to walk neighbors' dogs.
If someone at On Top of the World is responsible for the arsons, it is unclear where the elderly culprit came by the stealth and know-how to plant a car bomb and start two fires in a crowded building with nobody noticing. Managers at the condominium complex declined to comment, citing the pending criminal investigation.
Both Farber and Landis have had past troubles with the law. Before the Tropicana Field incident, Landis had pleaded guilty in Orange County to misdemeanor battery. Prior to his pending aggravated assault case, Farber was charged but acquitted for assault in Pennsylvania.
The obvious danger posed by repetitive arsons in a building filled with retirees has gotten the attention of public safety officials. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that his staff has briefed him about the incidents and that the investigation into the three suspected arsons is ongoing.
"Anything and everything is possible," Gualtieri said.
• • •
"I'm being made to live like Osama bin Laden."
Displaced by fire and concerned that law enforcement has turned its back on him, Farber has been moving from house to house, borrowing different cars and closely guarding his whereabouts. On a recent afternoon, he emerged from hiding to face Landis in court, asking Pinellas Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone to extend the range of his 5-foot restraining order.
The reason cited by Farber in his petition: "Respondent 'car bombed' my vehicle."
"I did too much fighting for civil rights in the '60s, and fighting against the Vietnam War, to let a punk like this scare me," Farber said, waiting for his hearing to begin in a hallway at the county courthouse in Clearwater. He likened himself to a notable African-American civil-rights activist whose home was firebombed in 1963.
"It was Medgar Evers' house that was bombed," he said. "Now it's my house that's getting bombed."
Bulone's courtroom is cavernous, with deep rows of benches similar to church pews. Specially designated for hearings on restraining orders, it feels hallowed by a history of intense conflict, like former battlefields.
Farber's voice filled the dimly lit chamber. Toting a battered leather briefcase, wearing a gray suit and red tie, he clutched the edges of the lectern and told Bulone that he feared for his life.
As the judge listened, thumb and index finger resting for long stretches on the bridge of his nose, Farber filibustered. He pleaded. He wept, at least three times. He bitterly recalled the distant era when he and Landis were on better terms.
"I got him a bike, your honor! He was a friend! I took him to a Rays game!"
Landis, attended by his lawyer, R. Curtis Murtha of Clearwater, was more subdued. Murtha argued that Farber was attempting to make it easier to misuse the injunction to have Landis arrested.
Farber won.
It was a small tactical victory in an incomplete war, requiring Landis to stay 100 feet from him at all times. Farber received the decision with expressionless calm; Landis shook his head in disgust.
Explaining his ruling, Bulone said merely that "circumstances had changed" since the previous injunction was issued. "This is a pretty serious situation," he said.
The judge did not weigh in on who might be culpable in the arsons, saying he would await the results of the Sheriff's Office investigation. The question of whether the voluble man in the red tie was more Medgar Evers or Osama bin Laden would have to wait for another day.