In late 2003, at the Sustainable Earth Summit conference in Johannesburg, the Pacific island nation of Vanutu announced that it was preparing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States over global warming. Vanutu stood only a few feet above sea level, and the island’s eight thousand inhabitants were in danger of having to evacuate their country because of rising sea levels caused by global warming. The United States, the largest economy in the world, was also the largest emitter of carbon dioxide and therefore the largest contributor to global warming.
The National Environmental Resource Fund, an American activist group, announced that it would join forces with Vanutu in the lawsuit, which was expected to be filed in the summer of 2004. It was rumored that wealthy philanthropist George Morton, who frequently backed environmental causes, would personally finance the suit, expected to cost more than $8 million. Since the suit would ultimately be heard by the sympathetic Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, the litigation was awaited with some anticipation.
But the lawsuit was never filed.
No official explanation for the failure to file has ever been given either by Vanutu or NERF. Even after the sudden disappearance of George Morton, an inexplicable lack of interest by the media has left the circumstances surrounding this lawsuit unexamined. Not until the end of 2004 did several former NERF board members begin to speak publicly about what had happened within that organization. Further revelations by Morton’s staff, as well as by former members of the Los Angeles law firm of Hassle and Black, have added further detail to the story.
Thus it is now clear what happened to the progress of the Vanutu litigation between May and October of 2004, and why so many people died in remote parts of the world as a result.
Los Angeles, 2004
From the Internal Report to the National Security Council(NSC) from the AASBC (Classified). Redacted portions from AASBC. Obtained FOIA 03/04/04.
In retrospect the conspiracy was extremely well-planned. Preparations were under for more than a year before the events themselves took place. There were preliminary as early as March 2003, and reports to the British and the German .
The first incident took place in Paris, in May of 2004. It is that the authorities But there now can be no doubt that what happened in Paris and the serious consequences that followed.
In the darkness, he touched her arm and said, “Stay here.” She did not move, just waited. The smell of salt water was strong. She heard the faint gurgle of water.
Then the lights came on, reflecting off the surface of a large open tank, perhaps fifty meters long and twenty meters wide. It might have been an indoor swimming pool, except for all the electronic equipment that surrounded it.
And the very strange device at the far end of the pool.
Jonathan Marshall came back to her, grinning like an idiot.“Qu’estce que tu penses?” he said, though he knew his pronunciation was terrible. “What do you think?”
“It is magnificent,” the girl said. When she spoke English, her accent sounded exotic. In fact, everything about her was exotic, Jonathan thought. With her dark skin, high cheekbones, and black hair, she might have been a model. And she strutted like a model in her short skirt and spike heels. She was half Vietnamese, and her name was Marisa. “But no one else is here?” she said, looking around.
“No, no,” he said. “It’s Sunday. No one is coming.”
Jonathan Marshall was twenty-four, a graduate student in physics from London, working for the summer at the ultra-modern Laboratoire Ondulatoire—the wave mechanics laboratory—of the French Marine Institute in Vissy, just north of Paris. But the suburb was mostly the residence of young families, and it had been a lonely summer for Marshall. Which was why he could not believe his good fortune at meeting this girl. This extraordinarily beautiful and sexy girl.
“Show me what it does, this machine,” Marisa said. Her eyes were shining. “Show me what it is you do.”
“My pleasure,” Marshall said. He moved to the large control panel and began to switch on the pumps and sensors. The thirty panels of the wave machine at the far end of the tank clicked, one after another.
He glanced back at her, and she smiled at him. “It is so complicated,” she said. She came and stood beside him at the control panel. “Your research is recorded on cameras?”
“Yes, we have cameras in the ceiling, and on the sides of the tank. They make a visual record of the waves that are generated. We also have pressure sensors in the tanks that record pressure parameters of the passing wave.”
“These cameras are on now?”
“No, no,” he said. “We don’t need them; we’re not doing an experiment.”
“Perhaps we are,” she said, resting her hand on his shoulder. Her fingers were long and delicate. She had beautiful fingers.
She watched for a minute, then said, “This room, everything is so expensive. You must have great security, no?”
“Not really,” he said. “Just cards to get in. And only one security camera.” He gestured over his shoulder. “That one back in the corner.”
She turned to look. “And that is turned on?” she said.
“Oh yes,” he said. “That’s always on.”
She slid her hand to caress his neck lightly. “So is someone watching us now?”
“Then we should behave.”
“Probably. Anyway, what about your boyfriend?”
“Him.” She gave a derisive snort. “I have had enough of him.”
Earlier that day, Marshall had gone from his small apartment to the café on rue Montaigne, the café he went to every morning, taking a journal article with him to read as usual. Then this girl had sat down at the next table, with her boyfriend. The couple had promptly fallen into an argument.
In truth, Marshall felt that Marisa and the boyfriend didn’t seem to belong together. He was American, a beefy, red-faced fellow built like a footballer, with longish hair and wire-frame glasses that did not suit his thick features. He looked like a pig trying to appear scholarly.
His name was Jim, and he was angry with Marisa, apparently because she had spent the previous night away from him. “I don’t know why you won’t tell me where you were,” he kept repeating.
“But I thought we were going to have dinner together.”
“Jimmy, I told you we were not.”
“No, you told me you were. And I was waiting at the hotel for you. All night.”
“So? No one made you. You could go out. Enjoy yourself.”
“But I was waiting for you.”
“Jimmy, you do not own me.” She was exasperated by him, sighing, throwing up her hands, or slapping her bare knees. Her legs were crossed, and the short skirt rode up high. “I do as I please.”
“Yes,” she said, and at that moment she turned to Marshall and said, “What is that you are reading? It looks very complicated.”
At first Marshall was alarmed. She was clearly talking to him to taunt the boyfriend. He did not want to be drawn into the couple’s dispute.
“It’s physics,” he said briefly, and turned slightly away. He tried to ignore her beauty.
“What kind of physics?” she persisted.
“Wave mechanics. Ocean waves.”
“So, you are a student?”
“Ah. And clearly intelligent. You are English? Why are you in France?”
And before he knew it, he was talking to her, and she introduced the boyfriend, who gave Marshall a smirk and a limp handshake. It was still very uncomfortable, but the girl behaved as if it were not.
“So you work around here? What sort of work? A tank with a machine? Really, I can’t imagine what you say. Will you show me?”
And now they were here, in the wave mechanics laboratory. And Jimmy, the boyfriend, was sulking in the parking lot outside, smoking a cigarette.
“What shall we do about Jimmy?” she said, standing beside Marshall while he worked at the control panel.
“He can’t smoke in here.”
“I will see that he does not. But I don’t want to make him more angry. Can I let him in, do you think?”
Marshall felt disappointment flood through him. “Sure. I guess.”
Then she squeezed his shoulder. “Don’t worry, he is busy later with other business of his.”
She went and opened the door at the back of the lab, and Jimmy came in. Marshall glanced back and saw him hanging back, hands in his pockets. Marisa came up to stand beside Marshall again, at the control panel.
“He’s all right,” she said. “Now show me.”
The electric motors at the far end of the tank whirred, and the wave paddles generated the first wave. It was a small wave, and it rippled smoothly down the length of the tank, to splash on a slanted panel at the near end.
“So, this is a tidal wave?” she said.
“It is a simulation of a tsunami, yes,” Marshall said, his fingers tapping the keyboard. On the control panel, displays showed temperature and pressure, generated false-color images of the wave.
“A simulation,” she said. “Meaning what?”
“We can make waves up to one meter high in this tank,” Marshall said. “But the real tsunamis are four, eight, ten meters high. Occasionally even more.”
“A wave in the ocean that is ten meters?” Her eyes widened. “Really?” She was looking toward the ceiling, trying to imagine it.
Marshall nodded. That would be over thirty feet high, the height of a three-story building. And it would be moving at eight hundred kilometers an hour, roaring up to the shore.
“And when it comes to the shore?” she said. “Is that the slope at this end? It looks like a pebble texture on it. Is that the shore?”
“That’s right,” Marshall said. “How high the wave goes up the shore is a function of the angle of the slope. We can adjust the slope to any angle.”
The boyfriend came forward, moving closer to the tank, but still he hung back. He never said a word.
Marisa was excited. “You can adjust it? How?”
“It is motorized.”
“To any angle?” She giggled. “Show mevingt-sept degrees. Twenty-seven.”
“Coming up.” Marshall typed at the keyboard. With a slight grinding sound, the slope of the shore angled higher.
The American boyfriend went closer to the tank to look, drawn by the activity. Itwas fascinating, Marshall thought. Anybody would be interested. But the guy never spoke. He just stood and watched the pebbled surface tilt. Soon it stopped.
“So that is the slope?” she said.
“Yes,” Marshall said. “Although in point of fact, twenty-seven degrees is fairly steep, more than the average shoreline in the real world. Maybe I should set it to—”
Her dark hand closed over his. “No, no,” she said. Her skin was soft. “Leave it. Show me a wave. I want to see a wave.”
Small waves were being generated every thirty seconds. They rippled along the length of the tank, with a slight whoosh. “Well, I first have to know the shape of the shoreline. Right now, it’s flat beach, but if it was an inlet of some kind…”
“Will it change to make an inlet?”
“Really? Show me.”
“What kind of inlet do you want? A harbor, a river, a bay…”
“Oh,” she said, shrugging, “make a bay.”
He smiled. “Fine. How big?”
With the whir of electric motors, the shoreline began to sink into a curve, the slope indenting into a bowl.
“Fantastic,” she said. “Come on, Jonathan, show me the wave.”
“Not yet. How big is the bay?”
“Oh…” She gestured in the air. “One mile. A bay of one mile. Now will you show me?” She leaned toward him. “I do not like to wait. You should know this.”
He smelled her perfume. He typed quickly. “Here it comes,” he said. “A big wave, coming into a one-mile bay, with a twenty-seven-degree slope.”
There was a much louder whoosh as the next wave was generated at the far end of the tank, and then it rippled smoothly toward them, a raised line of water about six inches high.
“Oh!” Marisa pouted. “You promised me it would bebig. ”
“Just wait,” he said.
“It will grow?” she said, giggling. She put her hand on his shoulder again. Then the American glanced back, and gave her a dirty look. She jerked her chin in the air, defiant. But when he looked back at the tank, she took her hand away.
Marshall felt despondent again. She was just using him, he was a pawn in this game between them.
“You said it will grow?” she said.
“Yes,” Marshall said, “the wave will grow as it comes to the shore. In deep water a tsunami is small, but in shallow water it builds. And the inlet will concentrate its power, so it goes higher.”
The wave rose higher, and then smashed against the curved shore at the near end. It foamed white, and sloshed up the sides of the shore. It came up about five feet, he guessed.
“So it comes high,” she said. “In the real world?”
“That’s about forty, fifty feet,” he said. “Fifteen meters.”
“Ooh la la,” she said, pursing her lips. “So a person cannot run away from this.”
“Oh no,” Marshall said. “You can’t outrun a tidal wave. There was a wave in Hilo, Hawaii, in 1957, came right down the streets of the town, tall as the buildings, people ran from it but—”
“So that’s it?” the American said. “That’s all it does?” His voice was growly, like he needed to clear his throat.
“Don’t mind him,” she said quietly.
“Yes, that’s what we do here,” Marshall said. “We generate waves—”
“Jesus fucking A,” the American said. “I could do that in my bathtub when I was six months old.”
“Well,” Marshall said, gesturing to the control panel, and the monitors displaying data, “we generate a lot of databases for researchers around the world who are—”
“Yeah, yeah. That’s enough. Boring as whale shit. I’m leaving. You coming, Marisa, or not?” He stood and glared at her.
Her apartment was just across the river from Notre Dame, and from the balcony in the bedroom he had a beautiful view of the cathedral, which was lighted at night. It was ten o’clock, but there was still a deep blue in the sky. He looked down at the street below, the lights of the cafés, the crowds walking on the streets. It was a busy and glamorous scene.
“Don’t worry,” she said, behind him. “If you’re looking for Jimmy, he won’t come here.”
Actually, the thought hadn’t occurred to him, until she mentioned it. “No?”
“No,” she said. “He will go elsewhere. Jimmy has many women.” She took a sip of red wine, then set the glass down on the bedside table. Unceremoniously, she pulled her top over her head and dropped her skirt. She was wearing nothing beneath.
Still in her high heels, she walked toward him. He must have seemed surprised, because she said, “I told you: I do not like to wait,” and threw her arms around him and kissed him hard, fiercely, almost angrily. The next moments were awkward, trying to kiss while she tore off his clothes. She was breathing hard, almost panting. She never spoke. She was so passionate she seemed almost angry, and her beauty, the physical perfection of her dark body, intimidated him, but not for long.
Afterward she lay against him, her skin soft but her body taut beneath the surface. The bedroom ceiling had a soft glow from the church façade opposite. He was relaxed, but she seemed, if anything, to be energized, restless after making love. He wondered if she had really come, despite her moans and her final cries. And then abruptly, she got up.
She took a sip of wine. “To the toilet,” she said, and turned away, passing through a door. She had left her wineglass. He sat up and took a sip, seeing the delicate pattern of her lipstick on the rim.
He looked at the bed and saw the dark streaks on the sheets from her heels. She had not taken them off until midway through their love-making. Now the heels were tossed away, coming to a stop beneath the window. Signs of their passion. He still felt, even now, as if he were in a dream. He had never been with a woman like this. Beautiful like this, living in a place like this. He wondered how much this apartment cost, the wood paneling, the perfect location…
He took another sip of wine. He could get used to this, he thought.
He heard water running in the bathroom. A humming sound, a tuneless song.
With abang! the front door slammed open and three men burst into the bedroom. They were wearing dark raincoats and hats. Terrified, Marshall set the wineglass on the table—it fell—and dived for his clothes beside the bed to cover himself, but in an instant the men were on him, grabbing him with gloved hands. He yelled in alarm and panic as they threw him over, shoving him facedown on the bed. He was still yelling as they pushed his face into a pillow. He thought they were going to suffocate him, but they didn’t. One man hissed, “Be quiet. Nothing will happen if you are quiet.”
He didn’t believe him, so he struggled, calling out again. Where was Marisa? What was she doing? It was happening so fast. One man was sitting on his back, knees digging into his spine, his cold shoes on Marshall’s bare buttocks. He felt the man’s hand on his neck, shoving him into the bed.
“Be quiet!” the man hissed again.
The other men had each taken one of his wrists, and they were pulling his arms wide, spread-eagling him on the bed. They were getting ready to do something to him. He felt terrified and vulnerable. He moaned, and somebody hit him on the back of the head. “Quiet!”
Everything was happening quickly, it was all impressionistic. Where was Marisa? Probably hiding in the bathroom, and he couldn’t blame her. He heard a sloshing sound and saw a plastic baggie and something white in it, like a golf ball. They were placing the baggie under his armpit, on the fleshy part of his arm.
What the hell were they doing?He felt the water cold against his under-arm, and he struggled but they held him tight, and then inside the water, something soft pressed against the arm, and he had asticky sensation, like sticky chewing gum, something sticky and tugging against the flesh of his arm, and then he felt a little pinch. Nothing, hardly noticeable, a momentary sting.
The men were moving quickly, the baggie was removed, and at that moment he heard two surprisingly loud gunshots and Marisa was screaming in rapid French—“Salaud! Salopard! Bouge-toi le cul!”—and the third man had tumbled off Marshall’s back and fallen to the ground, then scrambled up, and Marisa was still screaming, there were more shots, and he could smell powder in the air, and the men fled. The door slammed, and she came back, stark naked, babbling in French he could not understand, something aboutvacherie, which he thought was a cow but he wasn’t thinking straight. He was starting to tremble on the bed.
She came over and threw her arms around him. The barrel of the gun was hot and he yelled, and she set it aside. “Oh Jonathan, I am so sorry, so sorry.” She cradled his head against her shoulder. “Please, you must forgive me, it is all right now, I promise you.”
Gradually his trembling stopped, and she looked at him. “Did they hurt you?”
He shook his head, no.
“Good. I did not think so. Idiots! Friends of Jimmy, they think they make a joke, to scare you. And me I am sure. But you are not hurt?”
He shook his head again. He coughed. “Perhaps,” he said, finding his voice at last. “Perhaps I should be going.”
“Oh, no,” she said. “No, no, you cannot do this to me.”
“I don’t feel—”
“Absolutely no,” she said. She pushed closer to him, so her body was touching his. “You must stay a while.”
“Should we call the police?”
“Mais non. The police will do nothing. A quarrel of lovers. In France we do not do this, call the police.”
“But they broke in…”
“They are gone now,” she said, whispering in his ear. He felt her breath. “There is only us, now. Only us, Jonathan.” Her dark body slid down his chest.
It was after midnight when he was finally dressed and standing at the window, looking out at Notre Dame. The streets were still crowded.
“Why will you not stay?” she said, pouting prettily. “I want you to stay. Don’t you want to please me?”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have to go. I don’t feel very well.”
“I will make you feel better.”
He shook his head. In truth, he really did not feel well. He was experiencing waves of dizziness, and his legs felt oddly weak. His hands were trembling as he gripped the balcony.
“I’m sorry,” he said again. “I have to leave.”
“All right, then I will drive you.”
Her car, he knew, was parked on the other side of the Seine. It seemed far to walk. But he just nodded numbly. “All right,” he said.
She was in no rush. They strolled arm in arm, like lovers, along the embankment. They passed the houseboat restaurants tied up to the side, brightly lit, still busy with guests. Above them, on the other side of the river, rose Notre Dame, brilliantly lit. For a while, this slow walk, with her head on his shoulder, the soft words she spoke to him, made him feel better.
But soon he stumbled, feeling a kind of clumsy weakness coursing through his body. His mouth was very dry. His jaw felt stiff. It was difficult to speak.
She did not seem to notice. They had moved past the bright lights now, under one of the bridges, and he stumbled again. This time he fell on the stone embankment.
“My darling,” she said, worried and solicitous, and helped him to his feet.
He said, “I think…I think…”
“Darling, are you all right?” She helped him to a bench, away from the river. “Here, just sit here for a moment. You will feel better in a moment.”
But he did not feel better. He tried to protest, but he could not speak. In horror he realized he could not even shake his head. Something was very wrong. His whole body was growing weak, swiftly and astonishingly weak, and he tried to push up from the bench, but he could not move his limbs, he could not move his head. He looked at her, sitting beside him.
“Jonathan, what is wrong? Do you need a doctor?”
Yes, I need a doctor, he thought.
“Jonathan, this is not right…”
His chest was heavy. He was having trouble breathing. He looked away, staring straight ahead. He thought in horror:I am paralyzed.
He tried to look at her. But now he could not even move his eyes. He could only look straight forward. His breathing was shallow.
I need a doctor.
“Jonathan, can you look at me? Can you? No? You cannot turn your head?”
Somehow, her voice did not sound concerned. She sounded detached, clinical. Perhaps his hearing was affected. There was a rushing sound in his ears. It was harder and harder to breathe.
“All right, Jonathan, let’s get you away from here.”
She ducked her head under his arm and with surprising strength got him to his feet. His body was loose and floppy, sagging around her. He could not control where he looked. He heard the clicking of footsteps approaching and thought,Thank God. He heard a man’s voice say in French, “Mademoiselle, do you need help?”
“Thank you, but no,” she said. “Just too much to drink.”