A Promising Ebola Treatment

This Substance Can Break Down Ebola’s Protective Shell … So Our Immune System Can Kill It

One off the most important substances our bodies produce to fight disease is a type of protein called a “mannose-binding lectin”.

As the Journal of Infectious Diseases notes:

Circulating mannose-binding lectin (MBL) is a first-line host defense against a wide range of viral and other pathogens.

***

MBL preferentially recognizes glycosylated viruses including influenza virus, human immunodeficiency virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronovirus (SARS-CoV), Ebola virus, and Marburg virus. It also recognizes many glycosylated gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.

Due to genetics, different people produce different amounts of MBL:

As a result of common genetic variants, MBL serum levels in humans range from 0 to 10,000 ng/mL. Thirty percent of the human population has levels <500 ng/mL, which are associated with increased susceptibility to infections in children and immunocompromised individuals.

MBLs are not only produced by our own bodies, but also by certain plants and algae.

MBLs have shown tremendous promise in fighting SARS, RSV, HIV, Hepatitis C, general immunodeficiency, and other diseases.

Including Ebola.

Specifically, it is well-documented that MBLs bind to the outside of the Ebola virus, breaking it down so that the body’s immune system can kill it.

Certain types of blue-green and red algae contain MBLs:

Numerous flowering plants contain MBLs. For example, a Scottish study showed that the common plants with the highest level of MBLs were lilies and Amaryllidaceae. Indeed, many higher plants contain MBLs which preferentially seek specific sugars.

Some foods contain MBLs, as well:

  • Bananas have an MBL called BanLec, which has been shown to attack viruses such as HIV
  • Lentils contain an MBL called LCH.  Several labs sell LCH on the web
  • Jerusalem Artichoke contains an MBL called Heltuba

So should we stuff our faces with algae, flowers, Jerusalem Artichoke, jack beans, bananas and rice?

Not so fast …

Some MBLs can be deadly … like ricin.  Consumption of food with high lectin content may lead to diarrhea, nausea, bloating or vomiting.

So MBLs aren’t a harmless silver bullet.

But with some further testing and tweaking, MBLs may end up being one of the most promising and quickest routes to treating Ebola.

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If Republicans Win Control of the Senate in November, Nuclear War with Russia Will Be More Likely. Here’s Why.

Eric Zuesse

Senate Bill S. 2277 is sponsored by 26 Republicans and no Democrats, and it would give President Obama the virtually unlimited authority to take U.S. to war against Russia in defense of the Ukrainian Government that Obama’s February 2014 coup established in Ukraine, the government that’s controlled by a coalition of one fascist party and two nazi (or racist-fascist) parties in northwest Ukraine. (Southeast Ukraine isn’t represented in the coalition; southeast Ukraine had voted overwhelmingly — and you can see the exact percentages here – for the President that Obama’s coup toppled in February 2014.)

Paul Roderick Gregory headlined at the Forbes site on October 10th, “A Republican Senate Can Help Send U.S. Weapons to Ukraine,” and he condemned Obama for backing off on Ukraine, and said:

 

“I recently gave five compelling reasons for U.S. lethal aid to Ukraine, and I explained why inaction on Ukraine threatens the destruction of NATO as we know it. The American establishment elite have increasingly concluded the same: that we must give Ukraine the means to defend itself against Russian aggression. Add former defense secretary and CIA head, Leon Panetta, to a long list of diplomats (Mike McFaul, Strobe Talbot), generals (Martin Dempsey, Philip Breedlove et al.), congressmen and senators (Ben Nelson, Sander Levin, Jim Gerlach, Gerland Connoly, Robert Menendez, Bob Corker, to name just a few) who disagree with the president on Ukraine.”

 

The regime that Obama imposed on Ukraine, after his coup, is heavily racist-fascist, or nazi. Here are the Obama-coup-regime’s supporters, and you can see their nazi symbols and Hitlerite militarism, which is based upon the pro-Nazi movement in Ukraine during World War II, the movement that had supported the Babi Yar massacre of Jews and that is even more passionately hostile toward ethnic Russians than toward Jews. And here you see these people proudly mass-murdering ethnic Russians, whom they hate — just trying to kill as many of the residents there as they can. Obama needs that done because the people in this region, southeastern Ukraine, had (as that map shows) voted over 90% for the man whom Obama’s mercenaries had overthrown on 22 February 2014. If they remain alive, and inside Ukraine, then Obama’s imposed leaders won’t survive any election that’s held throughout all regions of Ukraine. This is why the Obama regime in Ukraine has been massacring the residents in the ethnic-Russian areas in Ukraine’s southeast. The United States has sponsored this ethnic-cleansing operation in order to mass-murder the residents in Ukraine’s southeast, precisely so as to get rid of them. This statement is not hyperbole: Barack Obama is the very first President in U.S. history who has installed, in any foreign nation, a nazi, or racist-fascist, regime. As you can see, their most devoted battalions don’t even try to hide it: some of them proudly display their pictures of Hitler, even though they are Ukrainians, not Germans, themselves. These are the most devoted troops in Ukraine, on Obama’s side in the civil war that Obama caused. But congressional Republicans want him to give the matter even higher priority, and more resources, than he now is.

Furthermore, NATO has been gearing up for a nuclear war, a pre-emptive nuclear attack against Russia, supposedly to defend this new regime. But, actually, one of the main reasons for the overthrow was to establish in Ukraine a missile-base against Russia — it was to help prepare for our nuclear attack. Republicans in the Senate support our bringing Ukraine into NATO, which is the reason for this Republican bill, which is currently bottled up in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but will become passed into law and signed by the President if Republicans win back control of the Senate in this year’s elections.

Although no Democrat has officially co-sponsored this bill, the leader of the Committee that is considering it is Democrat Robert Menendez, and he has very actively spoken and written in support of it; he just doesn’t have the guts publicly to come out as a Republican. He’s like Obama: he built his following among Democrats and cannot afford to go public with his extreme conservatism.

I have written a lot about Obama’s strategy, here and here and here, but a recent report at Global Research, by Professor Michael Chossudovsky, is even more alarming: “Dangerous Crossroads: US-NATO to Deploy Troops, Conduct Large Scale Naval Exercises against ‘Unnamed Enemy.’” He quotes the veteran writer on nuclear war, Steven Starr as saying, “Any US-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war,” and Starr explains why this is a far more dangerous situation than any that existed during the Cold War, except possibly the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Ironically, the only way that Obama can be restrained on this planned attack would be if the U.S. Senate remains under Democratic control, because Obama is pursuing here a longstanding Republican foreign policy, of asserting “nuclear supremacy,” to win  a nuclear conflict against Russia (originally against the Soviet Union).

At present, this bill is considered extremely unlikely to pass in the Senate, but if Republicans take the Senate, then it almost certainly will pass next year, because both houses of Congress will then be controlled by the Republican Party.

Right now, President Obama wants to cool things in his Ukrainian civil war, because of the more-pressing and far more real threat to U.S. national security in the Middle East. But this lull in the Ukrainian conflict could turn out to be temporary if things become stabilized regarding ISIS.

So, if the Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate this November, then we’ll quite possibly have a nuclear war against Russia, because Republicans certainly want it, and so does Obama (and Senator Menendez), and Obama will therefore have the congressional funding to prepare the attack that both he and Republicans, and even at least one other ‘Democrat’ than Obama, apparently want and have been preparing.

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Our New Robot Overlords & The Third Type of Capital

Fortune will instead favor a third group: those who can innovate and create new products, services, and business models.

A recent issue of Foreign Affairs sported a catchy cover teaser: Our New Robot Overlords. This brings to mind various sci-fi scenarios, but the actual article title is academic to the point of obscurity: Labor, Capital and Ideas in the Power Law Economy.

Rather than rehash the usual failed Keynesian Cargo Cult economics, the authors describe three powerful ideas that resonate very strongly with my own work:

1. Digital technologies (networked software, automation and robotics) are radically reducing the need for human labor and the leverage of traditional capital (land, fixed assets and cash) globally.

2. Premiums flow to whatever inputs are scarce. Labor and traditional capital are no longer scarce; what’s scarce is innovative, practical ideas. Ideas (for new models, products, services, processes, etc.) are a third form of capital that will accrue most of the rewards.

3. This distribution of premiums/rewards follows a power law, i.e. the Pareto Distribution where the “vital few” with the 3rd type of capital (good ideas) reap most of the rewards.

This is of course a generalized simplification, and there are plenty of parts of the economy that still depend on labor and conventional capital. But the point here is that thanks to globalization and overcapacity, most inputs are no longer scarce, and so the premium (high wages and/or profit margins) that the owners of labor and capital can charge is trending down in every tradable sector.

This mirrors the analysis of socio-economist Immanuel Wallerstein, which I have covered in some depth:

Is This the Terminal Phase of Global Capitalism 1.0? (February 8, 2013)

How the Middle Class Lifestyle Became Unaffordable (May 7, 2014)

Is There Capitalism After Cronyism? (August 30, 2014)

One systemic source of rising inequality is crony-capitalism/crony socialism: the vast array of insider deals, collusion, winners being picked by the central state, too big to fail banks bailed out with taxpayer money, etc. People are increasingly aware the Status Quo is rigged, and the playing field is tilted to favor the few inside the crony-capitalist castle (what I call the New Nobility in a Neofeudal economy).

The authors of this essay are pointing out that the leverage of digital technologies rewards the most talented to an extreme degree. In an economy where the premium on labor and ordinary capital is falling (i.e. the yield on ordinary capital is near-zero, and wages are declining in real terms), those who can leverage ideas digitally can reap the premium reserved for what’s scarce.

“This means that the real winners of the future will not be the providers of cheap labor or the owners of ordinary capital, both of whom will be increasingly squeezed by automation. Fortune will instead favor a third group: those who can innovate and create new products, services, and business models.

The distribution of income for this creative class typically takes the form of a power law, with a small number of winners capturing most of the rewards and a long tail consisting of the rest of the participants. So in the future, ideas will be the real scarce inputs in the world — scarcer than both labor and capital — and the few who provide good ideas will reap huge rewards.”

Should the digital revolution continue to be as powerful in the future as it has been in recent years, the structure of the modern economy and the role of work itself may need to be rethought.”

For individuals, this means being able to solve problems and create value in ways that can’t be automated: this is the core message of my book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. The way to leverage one’s ideas is to network, network, network and acquire multiple skills that can be applied in innovative, practical ways to a wide spectrum of problems.

As a society, we will have to deal with the reality that the nature of work is fundamentally changing, and wages are no longer an adequate means of distributing the surplus of an economy.

In my view, the answer is to broaden the scope of work beyond the state (i.e. working for the government) or private sector companies which must make a profit or perish, to what I call the community economy.

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Shadow Facts About Shadow Government

Tom Engelhardt keeps churning out great books by collecting his posts from TomDispatch.com. His latest book, Shadow Government, is essential reading. Of the ten essays included, eight are on basically the same topic, resulting in some repetition and even some contradiction. But when things that need repeating are repeated this well, one mostly wants other people to read them — or perhaps to have them involuntarily spoken aloud by everybody’s iPhones.

We live in an age in which the most important facts are not seriously disputed and also not seriously known or responded to.

The United States’ biggest public program of the past 75 years, now outstripping the rest of the world combined, is war preparations. The routine “base” military spending, not counting spending on particular wars, is at least 10 times the war spending, or enough to totally transform the world for the better. Instead it’s used to kill huge numbers of people, to make the United States less safe, and to prepare for wars that are — without exception — lost disastrously. Since the justification of the Soviet Union vanished, U.S. militarism has only increased. Its enemies are small, yet it does its best to enlarge them. U.S. Special Operations forces are actively, if “secretly,” engaged in war or war preparations in over two-thirds of the nations on earth. U.S. troops are openly stationed in 90 percent of the nations on earth, and 100 percent of the oceans. A majority of the people in most nations on earth consider the United States the greatest threat to world peace.

The U.S. military has brought death, terror, destruction, and lasting damage to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya — and spilling out of Libya into Mali, sparked a Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq that has spread to Syria, rendered Pakistan and Yemen more violent and insecure with drone strikes, and fueled violence in Somalia that has spilled across borders.

These facts are well-established, yet virtually incomprehensible to a typical U.S. news consumer. So, if they can be repeated brilliantly and convincingly, I say: the more times the better.

We’re rendering the earth uninhabitable, and the October 27, 2014, issue of Time magazine includes a section headlined “Why the Price of Oil Is Falling — And What It Means for the World.” In reality, of course, it means devastation for the world. In Time it means a happy American oil boom, more sales for Saudi Arabia, and a good reason for Russia to rein in its military. Yes, the same Russia that spends 7% of what the United States does on its military. To get a sense of how Russia could rein in that military, here is a video of a Pentagon official claiming that Russia has physically moved closer to NATO (and put little green men into Ukraine).

Years ago I wrote an article for TomDispatch called “Bush’s Third Term.” Now of course we’re into Bush’s fourth term, or Clinton’s sixth. The point is that presidential power abuses and war-making expand when a president gets away with them, not when a particular party or individual wins an election. Engelhardt explains how Dick Cheney’s 1 percent doctrine (justifying war when anything that has a 1% chance of being a danger) has now become a zero percent doctrine (no justification is needed). Along with war today comes secrecy, which encompasses complete removal of your privacy, but also — Engelhardt notes — the abandonment of actual secrecy for “covert” operations that the government wants to have known but not to have held to any legal standard.

The White House went to the New York Times prior to President Obama’s reelection and promoted the story that Obama personally goes through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays and carefully picks which ones to have murdered. There’s no evidence that this hurt Obama’s reelection.

The Bush White House went to the New York Times and censored until after Bush’s reelection, the story that the government was massively and illegally spying on Americans.  The Obama White House has pursued a vendetta against whistleblower Edward Snowden for making public the global extent of the spying. While Engelhardt tells this story with the usual suggestion that Snowden let us in on a big secret, I always assumed the U.S. government was doing what people now know it is. Engelhardt points out that these revelations have moved European and Latin American governments against the U.S. and put the fear of major financial losses into Silicon Valley companies known to be involved in the spying.

Engelhardt writes that with the NSA and gang having eliminated our privacy, we can now eliminate theirs by publicizing leaked information. At the same time, Engelhardt writes that dozens of Snowdens would be needed for us to begin to find out what the U.S. war machine is doing. Perhaps the point is that the dozens of Snowdens are inevitable. I hope so, although Engelhardt explicitly says that the shadow government is an “irreversible way of life.” I certainly hope not, or what’s the point of opposing it?

Engelhardt notes that the U.S. government has turned against massive ground wars, but not against wars, so that we will be entering an era of “tiny wars.” But the tiny wars may kill in significant numbers compared with wars of centuries gone by, and may spark wars by others that rage on indefinitely. Or, I would add, we might choose to stop every war as we stopped the Syrian missile crisis of 2013.

Engelhardt pinpoints a moment when a turning point almost came. On July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter proposed a massive investment in renewable energy. The media denounced his speech as “the malaise speech.” “In the end, the president’s energy proposals were essentially laughed out of the room and ignored for decades.” Six months later, on January 23, 1980, Carter announced that “an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” The media took this speech quite seriously and respectfully, labeling it the Carter Doctrine. We’ve been having increasing trouble with people whose sand lies over our oil ever since.

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Public Health Expert Explains How to Prevent a Panic About Ebola: Tell the Truth!

Happy Talk Does NOT Reassure the Public … It Only Makes Things WORSE

The head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota – Dr. Michael Osterholm – is one of the world’s top infectious disease experts and a prominent public health scientist.

Dr. Osterholm just gave a talk shown on C-Span, explaining how to prevent the public from panicking about Ebola:

I categorically reject the idea that you can’t tell people you “don’t know” … because you’re afraid you’ll scare them.

There is a complete [scientific] literature on risk communications that says people are never frightened if you tell them you don’t know, but “this is what I’m doing to learn”.  Or [if you tell them] “this is something, and it might be very scary.”

The literature shows – over and over again – there are 2 things that will turn them to be very concerned … if not scared.

One is if you tell them with certainty “A”, and then you tell them with certainty “B”, and then A and B don’t happen … or they happen in a way you didn’t tell them.  Then they wonder about your credibility.

The second thing is if you get dueling banjos.  If you get one one person saying A, and another person saying “oh, you’re going to scare people, don’t say that” … because it’s not true. The literature supports that’s when people get concerned.

***

One of the worst enemies we can have today is dogma. Dogma should be, at the first instance, the thing we jettison immediately Do not fall into the trap of dogma. I see far too many today doing that for the fact that they want to reassure the public about A,B or C … and that is a dangerous path.

And see this.

Dr. Osterholm gives an example: the medical community is trying to downplay the fact that some people with Ebola never have a fever … right up until the time they die. The failure to talk openly about this fact will only end up shaking people’s confidence:

(And temperature screening is easily fooled, even when an Ebola carrier does have a fever.)

One of our recurring themes is that happy talk doesn’t fix anything.

Giving false assurances only backfires … instead making people lose trust in their governments and institutions, and increasing their fear.

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Top Ebola Experts: This Strain Is Much Worse Than We’ve Ever Seen Before (Video)

A More Dangerous Strain

The head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota – Dr. Michael Osterholm – is a prominent public health scientist and a nationally recognized biosecurity expert.

Dr. Osterholm just gave a talk shown on C-Span explaining that a top Ebola virologist – the Head of Special Pathogens at Canada’s health agency, Gary Kobinger – has found that the current strain of Ebola appears to be much worse than any strain seen before … and that the current virus may be more likely to spread through aerosols than strains which scientists have previously encountered.

Watch this minute-long clip:

Another top Ebola expert – chief scientist at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and discoverer of the Reston strain of Ebola (Dr. Peter Jahrling) – said last week that this strain of Ebola appears to be more virulent than other strains we’ve seen, producing a much higher viral load much quicker than other strains.

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Why Nations (and organizations) Fail: Self-Serving Elites

For those who doubt that America is ruled by a narrow elite: three charts.

The book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty neatly summarizes why nations fail in a few lines:

(A nation) is poor precisely because it has been ruled by a narrow elite that has organized society for their own benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people. Political power has been narrowly concentrated, and has been used to create great wealth for those who possess it.

Sound like any countries you know?Perhaps we should flip this question around and ask: how many nations don’tfit this profile?

I submit that this dynamic of failure–the concentrated power and wealth of self-serving elites– is scale-invariant, meaning that it is equally true of communities, towns, cities, states, nations and empires alike: all fail when they’re run for the benefit of a narrow elite.

There is a bitter irony in the ease with which American pundits discern this dynamic in developing-world kleptocracies while ignoring the same dynamic in America. One would imagine it would be easier to see the elites-inevitably-cause-failure in one’s home country, but the pundits by and large are members of the Clerisy Upper Caste, well-paid functionaries, apparatchiks, lackeys, factotums, toadies, sycophants and apologists for the very elites that are leading America down the path of systemic failure as the ontological consequence of their self-serving consolidation of wealth and power.

For those who doubt that America is ruled by a narrow elite: I don’t have charts for standard-issue third-world kleptocracies, but I doubt the concentration of wealth and political power is much more extreme than in America:

In a simulacrum democracy where the highest bidders control the state, who do you think can readily buy political power?

And the policies of the elites have really spread the prosperity around in the past few years (sarcasm-off):

What’s truly interesting about the authors’ exhaustive survey of the inevitability of failure in elite-dominated nations is how cities dominated by narrow elites fail, states controlled by narrow elites fail, and indeed, any organization that serves the interests of a few at the expense of the many fails for the same reasons. 

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Americans Are Much More Concerned about Ebola than Terrorists or War

ISIS, Terrorism and War Have Been Upstaged By Ebola

This chart from Google Trends shows that Americans are much more concerned about Ebola than ISIS or any other terrorists (Ebola is the graph in blue):

Americans are so concerned about Ebola that the second hottest search term today – behind only the trade of football star Percy Harvin – is Obama’s appointment of an  “Ebola Czar”, Ron Klain:

I scrolled through pages of Google trends search results, and didn’t find any interest by the American people in ISIS, the war in Syria, Iraq, the civil war in Ukraine, or conflicts anywhere in the world in which our military or intelligence services are involved.

Americans are sick and tired of war.  And even ISIS didn’t hold the attention of the American public for very long, especially when faced with something of which they are much more afraid,  and which is occurring much closer to home.

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Meanwhile, Back At Fukushima …

Even With Ebola, ISIS, Ukraine and Wild Stock Market Swings … Fukushima Still Ranks As Imporant World News

Nothing has been fixed at Fukushima.

After typhoon Phanfone dumped a bunch of water on Fukushima earlier this month, radioactive tritium levels jumped tenfold.

After typhoon Vongfong dumped a bunch more water on the plant, radioactive cesium and strontium levels soared.

Radiation levels in the water are at all-time highs.

Officials said there’s nothing they can do to stop it, and they have no idea how much radiation is running into the ocean.

The reactors didn’t just suffer a melt down, or even a China syndrome type melt-through, but a series of melt outs. Scientists have no idea where the cores of the nuclear reactors are. Well actually, maybe they have found them … scattered all over kingdom come.

The Japanese have dumped their plan to build an “ice wall” around the plant to contain the radiation. Indeed, they don’t have much of a plan to stabilize the reactors or contain the radiation. Their plan seems to be to dump it all in the ocean.

And Fukushima radiation is approaching the West Coast of North America …

As the Statesman Journal reports:

Radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster is approaching the West Coast, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is reporting.

A sample taken Aug. 2 about 1,200 kilometers west of Vancouver, B.C. tested positive for Cesium 134, the Fukushima “fingerprint” of Fukushima.

It also showed higher-than-background levels of Cesium 137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans from nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

***

“There is definitely offshore Fukushima cesium now,” Buesseler said. “It’s not on the beaches, but it’s offshore.”

Massive amounts of contaminated water were released from Fukushima following a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Radioactive water has continued to leak and be released from the complex.

No state or federal agency is testing Pacific waters for radiation from the crippled Japanese nuclear plant.

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Instead of Appointing a Medical Expert, Obama Appoints a LOBBYIST as Ebola Czar

What’s He Going To Do … Lobby To Convince Congress That Ebola Is Not That Big A Risk?

Obama has appointed Ron Klain as the Ebola Czar.

Klain has no medical or healthcare background whatsoever.

Instead, he’s a high-powered lobbyist. He helped the corrupt Fannie Mae to overcome “regulatory issues” in 2004. Wikipedia notes:

Klain [helped in] convincing Congress and Fannie Mae’s regulators that Fannie Mae wasn’t doing anything dangerous, and wasn’t exposing taxpayers to risk. In other words, Ron Klain got paid to help fuel the housing bubble up until a couple of years before it popped.

Klain also:

Represented a company facing asbestos-exposure lawsuits, the embattled drugmaker ImClone and two companies trying to win support for large mergers.

What’s he going to do … lobby to convince Congress that Ebola is not that big a risk?

Klain is also a major Democratic operative, serving as Chief of Staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden.  As such, it is not unlikely that he will be motivated to cover up for any missteps by Obama and CDC chair Tom Frieden.

Matt Stoller – a Democrat who knows as much about D.C. politics as anyone – notes:

Ron Klain is a fixer who is well-connected and knows his way around the exec branch. His skill is fixing PR problems, not logistics.

He’s not a doctor … just a spin doctor.

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YOU’RE EITHER THE BUTCHER OR YOU’RE THE CATTLE

I know many people have no interest in watching the boob tube because 99% of the programming is either mindless drivel or government sanctioned propaganda. It’s the 1% that reflects the deeper themes and moods engulfing our society. Television shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead reflect the darkening mood of this intensifying Fourth Turning. I wrote one of my more pessimistic articles called Welcome to Terminus in April regarding the season four finale of the Walking Dead series. I essentially argued we are approaching the end of the line and the world is going to get real nasty.

twd-s04e16-06

In the six short months since I wrote that depressing article, we’ve seen men beheaded on Youtube videos by terrorists no one had ever heard of at the beginning of this year. Somehow a ragtag band of 30,000 Muslim terrorists, using American military equipment supplied to fight Assad in Syria and taken from the Iraqi Army when they turned tail and ran away, have been able to defeat 600,000 Iraqi and Kurd fighters with air support from the vaunted U.S. Air Force. Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan descend into never ending religious based warfare. We’ve even had passenger planes mysteriously disappear in Asia with no trace.

Crimea seceded from Ukraine and rejoined Russia, initiating a plan to punish Russia by the western powers. America supported and planned the overthrow of a democratically elected government in the Ukraine, with a predictable push back response by Russia, leading to a bloody civil war in the Eastern Ukraine. We’ve had a false flag shooting down of an airliner over the Ukraine by the Ukrainian government, blamed on Russia and Putin by Obama and his EU co-conspirators. The American corporate media mouthpieces have ignored the cover-up of missing controller transmissions, black box recordings, and physical evidence regarding the murder of hundreds of innocent people by western politicians. Israel and Hezbollah resumed their endless religious war in Gaza, with thousands of casualties and destruction.

UK fear mongering and financial threats barely averted the secession of Scotland from the UK. Cantalonia continues to push for a secession vote to leave Spain. Violent protests have broken out in Spain, Italy, France and even Sweden. Turmoil, protests and riots in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico have been driven by anger at political corruption, high inflation, and general economic dysfunction. Saber rattling between China and Japan has increased and young people in Hong Kong have been protesting the lack of democratic elections being permitted by China. The world economy, undergoing central bank monetary stimulus withdraw, is headed back into recession as Germany, China and the U.S. join the rest of the world in economic decline. And now the Western Africa outbreak of ebola has gone worldwide, with predictions of an epidemic potentially causing worldwide economic chaos.

What’s happening in the real world makes the dystopian zombie world of Walking Dead seem almost quaint. The writers of this show brilliant use of symbolism and imagery captures the violent, chaotic, inhumane, darkening, brutal world we inhabit as the Fourth Turning crisis period we entered in 2008 deepens on a daily basis. There is a good reason why the first episode of their fifth season drew the biggest cable TV audience in history. The show is clearly tapping into the mood of the masses. Early in the latest episode you realize Terminus has become a processing center run by cannibals. The line between victim and criminal, killer and prey, good and evil, madness and sanity, and moral and immoral is blurred. Everything is relative in the post-pandemic world of the Walking Dead.

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Seeing Wall Street cannibals walk away unscathed after devouring the worldwide economic system in 2008 with their fraudulent financial schemes, corrupt politicians enriched by throwing taxpayers under the bus, militarized police forces trampling the Fourth Amendment, the NSA spying on every American, a private central bank enriching their owners by funneling trillions into their bank vaults, a president trampling on the Constitution by issuing executive orders to bypass the other branches of government, and billions of welfare and tax fraud from the urban ghettos to the penthouse suites in NYC, has convinced a large swath of Americans that everything is relative and nothing matters in our warped dystopian world. Right and wrong no longer matter. Morality is an antiquated concept. Adhering to the Constitution is an outmoded notion. Our society celebrates and condones our dog eat dog economic paradigm. Or zombie eats anything world in the case of Walking Dead.

The Terminus complex is reminiscent of the concentration camp in Schindler’s List. It is complete with railroad cars to hold the prisoners, gates with barbed wire, armed guards, and extermination facilities to “process” the prisoners. Thick black smoke belches into the air. There is a room stacked full of booty, teddy bears, watches, clothes – everything except the gold fillings.The Nazi like precision and attention to detail is reflected in the almost business-like method in which the Terminus administrators go about gutting their prey. The bone chilling efficiency and antiseptic processing facility evoke memories of the holocaust gas chambers. The opening sequence when Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Bob are among a group of men lined up to be gutted like pigs over a trough in place to collect their spilled blood, might have been the most brutal scene ever put on non-premium cable TV.

The callous and dispassionate way in which the prisoners (cattle) are lined up in front of a stainless steel trough is disconcerting and bone chilling. The victims are hit with a baseball bat and then their throats are slit over the trough by men in protective suits. They have become nothing but cattle to be butchered and consumed by the Terminus cannibals. You see another part of the processing plant where human remains are hanging from hooks like sides of beef. Gareth, the leader of Terminus, supervises the operation like a CEO, berating the butchers for not meeting quotas and following standard operating procedures. Not much different than how our mega-corporations are run today.

thewalkingdead_season5_trailer

The other fascinating similarity between the dystopian “nightmare of want” setting of Terminus and our modern day dystopian “empire of excess” is the use of false advertising and propaganda to lure “customers” into their web. Their version of billboard advertising was plywood with the hand written messages of “Sanctuary for All”, “Community for All”, and “Those Who Arrive Survive”. The Terminus cannibals would have fit in well on Madison Avenue with the highly paid spin artists, propagandists, and whores for the corporate oligarchs.

The signs along train tracks and radio transmissions from a call center like facility showed the calculated business-like efficiency of the cannibals in systematically and methodically luring victims to their slaughterhouse. It is the same techniques used by the apostles of Edward Bernays to consciously and intelligently manipulate the habits, opinions, tastes, ideas and actions of the masses, in order to control and influence their buying habits, voting decisions, and support of their rulers. The unseen men who constitute the “invisible government” use these techniques to keep the cattle docile, fed, and ignorant, as they are led to slaughter.

The government and lack thereof is always lurking in the murky background of how and why the United States has devolved into an infected world of the walking dead. This episode provided some clues about government labs producing viruses as weapons to be used against some unexplained enemy. The insinuation is that the government somehow lost control of the virus and the ensuing pandemic destroyed our modern world and left the survivors to battle the biters and each other for the remaining scraps. The Federal government caused the societal collapse and is nowhere to be found in rebuilding the nation.

It is unclear how the apocalypse went down, but you can assume it began with fear, which led to panic, chaos, economic collapse, violent upheaval, war, and total breakdown of governmental authority and control. It is ironic that today fear of a worldwide ebola pandemic is coinciding with an inevitable economic implosion, wars raging in the Middle East, violent protests raging around the globe, and trust in governmental authority plunging to all-time lows. The Walking Dead has wittingly or unwittingly captured the ambiance of our turbulent times.

When you are faced with desperate circumstances you can either do whatever you need to survive or you can submissively accept your fate and die. Gareth and his cannibalistic cohorts had been in the same situation as Rick and his posse, but they had somehow turned the tables on their captors. Gareth’s survival of the fittest creed was “either you’re the butcher or you’re the cattle”. Human beings react to intense pressure and life threatening situations in different ways. Some people snap and turn into monsters, like Gareth. Some people snap and lose their minds. Others, like Rick and Carol, summon an inner strength to do whatever it takes to survive while barely maintaining their humanity. Others turn into blind followers of a strong forceful leader, not questioning the morality, legality or humanity of what they are ordered to do. The line between right and wrong, necessary versus unnecessary, vengeance versus justice, and butcher versus cattle is blurred in a world without rules, government or accepted norms.

I believe the “butcher or cattle” analogy is sadly a valid meme for the world we currently inhabit. In the Walking Dead world, individuals must choose to be butcher or cattle. It’s a Darwinian world of kill or be killed. Like minded individuals with common values and goals form communities to protect themselves, provide for themselves, and attempt to bring a semblance of order in a chaotic world. The community of Westbury, led by the governor and the community of Terminus, led by Gareth, are founded upon a foundation of evil and ultimately destroyed. Rick’s community of liberty minded freedom fighters do whatever is necessary to survive, but retain their humanity, decency and desire to create a better world.

Our present day world may not be as brutish as the Walking Dead world, though the line between reality and fiction is often indistinguishable when you turn on the news, but the distinction between butchers and cattle is clear. The elected and non-elected rulers of the deep state are the butchers, sending young men off to die for oil companies and arms dealers, impoverishing the masses through inflation and their control of the currency, and enriching themselves through their complete control of the political, financial, judicial, and economic systems. This establishment, or invisible government as Bernays described, is committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. Its scope, financial resources, and global reach put it in a predator class all by itself.

The common people are the cattle being led to slaughter. We are kept docile with incessant propaganda from the mainstream media; marketing messages to consume from Madison Avenue; filtered, adjusted, manipulated economic data fed to us by government agencies; an endless supply of iGadgets and other electronic distractions; government education designed to keep us ignorant; 24/7 reality TV on six hundred stations to keep us entertained; corporate toxic processed food to keep us obese and tame; and an endless supply of Wall Street supplied debt to keep us caged in our pens with no hope of escape. The butchers of the deep state have maintained control for decades, but we’re entering a new era.

Fourth Turnings result in the tables being turned on the butchers. Some cattle are awakening from their stupor. They can see the bloody writing on the slaughterhouse wall. Anyone who isn’t sensing a dramatic mood change in this country is either a mindless zombie or a functionary of the deep state. The financial shenanigans of the ruling class are again being revealed as nothing but a Ponzi scheme built on a foundation of debt and propped up by delusions and ignorance. When the house of cards collapses in the near future, the tables will turn. When people have nothing left to lose, they will lose it. The butchers will become the cattle. There will be no sanctuary for these evil men. Their reign of terror will be swept away in a whirlwind of retribution, death and destruction. It might even make the Walking Dead look like a walk in the park.

Posted in General | 10 Comments

CDC Now Admits You CAN Get Ebola On a Plane Or Bus

Contradicts Previous Government Statements

The government has claimed that you can’t catch Ebola sitting on a bus with an Ebola carrier:

However, the CDC now admits that you can

As Huffington Post notes today, after Dallas nurse Amber Vinson flew on two commercial jets after catching Ebola:

A CDC spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that it was possible that passengers on Vinson’s Friday flight may have contracted the virus.

Yesterday, CNS News reported:

[CDC head Frieden said] if you are sick and you may have Ebola, should you get on a bus? And the answer to that is also no. You might become ill, you might have a problem that exposes someone around you,” he said.

***

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the CDC told CNSNews.com that it’s “not impossible” to contract Ebola from an infected person on a bus, particularly if the healthy person touches a contaminated object.

“It’s very unlikely,” CDC Spokesperson Kristen Nordlund explained. “But if, say, someone was sweating or had blood and touched a handrail and then you touched it right after, and put your hand in your mouth, it is possible. It’s not impossible.”

“Also if the person vomits on you, that can’t be ruled out,” Nordlund continued. “But to get it that way, there’s not a high likelihood of that happening.”

And CNS pointed out last week:

The CDC also explains a person may contract Ebola if he or she “spends a long amount of time within three feet (one meter) of a person who is sick with Ebola.”

***

On another page detailing Ebola exposure risks and “Public Health Actions,” the CDC reports there is “some risk of exposure” from “other close contact with an [Ebola] patient in health care facilities or community settings.” For these patients, the CDC recommends “If air transport is clinically appropriate and indicated, air medical transport only (no commercial conveyances permitted).”

“Controlled movement requires people to notify the public health authority about their intended travel for 21 days after their last known potential Ebola virus exposure,” the CDC stated. “These individuals should not travel by commercial conveyances (e.g. airplane, ship, long-distance bus, or train). Local use of public transportation (e.g. taxi, bus) by asymptomatic individuals should be discussed with the public health authority.”

“If travel is approved, the exposed person must have timely access to appropriate medical care if symptoms develop during travel,” the CDC continued. “Approved long-distance travel should be by chartered flight or private vehicle; if local public transportation is used, the individual must be able to exit quickly.”

On transcontinental commercial flights, of course, you might be sitting within 3 feet of people for many hours, with little opportunity for anyone to “exit quickly.”

No wonder almost 50% of all Americans are avoiding international air travel for fear of catching Ebola.

Postscript: Given the above, the CDC’s authorization for Ebola nurse Vinson to fly on a commercial jet with a temperature is stupid, indeed.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 6 Comments

A Different War-Is-Good-For-Us Argument

It seems like we just got through dealing with the argument that war is good for us because it brings peace. And along comes a very different twist, combined with some interesting insights. Here’s a blog post by Joshua Holland on Bill Moyers’ website.

“War has long been seen as an endeavor urged on by the elites who stood the most to gain from conflict – whether to protect overseas assets, create more favorable conditions for international trade or by selling materiel for the conflict – and paid for with the blood of the poor, the cannon fodder who serve their country but have little direct stake in the outcome.

“. . . MIT political scientist Jonathan Caverley, author of Democratic Militarism Voting, Wealth, and War, and himself a US Navy veteran, argues that increasingly high-tech militaries, with all-volunteer armies that sustain fewer casualties in smaller conflicts, combine with rising economic inequality to create perverse incentives that turn the conventional view of war on its head. . . .

“Joshua Holland: Your research leads to a somewhat counterintuitive conclusion. Can you give me your thesis in a nutshell?

“Jonathan Caverley: My argument is that in a heavily industrialized democracy like the United States, we have developed a very capital intensive form of warfare. We no longer send millions of combat troops overseas – or see massive numbers of casualties coming home. Once you start going to war with lots of airplanes, satellites, communications – and a few very highly trained special operations forces — going to war becomes a check writing exercise rather than a social mobilization. And once you turn war into a check writing exercise, the incentives for and against going to war change.

“You can think of it as a redistribution exercise, where people who have less income generally pay a smaller share of the cost of war. This is especially important at the federal level. In the United States, the federal government tends to be funded largely from the top 20 percent. Most of the federal government, I’d say 60 percent, maybe even 65 percent, is financed by the wealthy.

“For most people, war now costs very little in terms of both blood and treasure. And it has a redistributive effect.

“So my methodology is pretty simple. If you think that your contribution to conflict will be minimal, and see potential benefits, then you should see an increased demand for defense spending and increased hawkishness in your foreign policy views, based on your income. And my study of Israeli public opinion found that the less wealthy a person was, the more aggressive they were in using the military.”

Presumably Caverley would acknowledge that U.S. wars tend to be one-sided slaughters of people living in poor nations, and that some fraction of people in the United States are aware of that fact and oppose wars because of it. Presumably he is also aware that U.S. troops still die in U.S. wars and are still drawn disproportionately from the poor.  Presumably he is also aware (and presumably he makes all of this clear in his book, which I have not read) that war remains extremely profitable for an extremely elite group at the top of the U.S. economy. Weapons stocks are at record heights right now. A financial advisor on NPR yesterday was recommending investing in weapons. War spending, in fact, takes public money and spends it in a way that very disproportionately benefits the extremely wealthy. And while public dollars are progressively raised, they are far less progressively raised than in the past. War-preparations spending is in fact part of what drives the inequality that Caverley says drives low-income support for wars. What Caverley means by his claim that war is (downwardly) redistributive is made a bit clearer further on in the interview:

Holland: In the study you point out that most social scientists don’t see military spending as having a redistributive effect. I didn’t understand that. What some call “military Keynesianism” is a concept that’s been around for a long time. We located a ton of military investments in the Southern states, not only for defense purposes, but also as a means of regional economic development. Why don’t people see this as a massive redistribution program?

“Caverley: Well, I agree with that construction. If you watch any congressional campaign or you look at any representative’s communication with his or her constituents, you will see that they talk about getting their fair share of defense spending.

“But the larger point is that even if you don’t think about defense spending as a redistributive process, it is a classic example of the kind of public goods that a state provides. Everyone benefits from defense of the state – it’s not just rich people. And so national defense is probably one of the places you’re most likely to see redistributive politics, because if you’re not paying too much for it, you’re going to ask for more of it.”

So, at least part of the idea seems to be that wealth is being moved from wealthy geographical sections of the United States to poorer ones. There is some truth to that. But the economics is quite clear that, as a whole, military spending produces fewer jobs and worse paying jobs, and has less overall economic benefit, than education spending, infrastructure spending, or various other types of public spending, or even tax cuts for working people — which are by definition downwardly redistributive as well. Now, military spending can drain an economy and be perceived as boosting an economy, and the perception is what determines support for militarism. Similarly, routine “normal” military spending can carry on at a pace of over 10-times specific war spending, and the general perception on all sides of U.S. politics can be that it is the wars that cost large amounts of money. But we should acknowledge the reality even when discussing the impacts of the perception.

And then there’s the notion that militarism benefits everyone, which conflicts with the reality that war endangers the nations that wage it, that “defense” through wars is in fact counter-productive. This, too, should be acknowledged. And perhaps — though I doubt it — that acknowledgement is made in the book.

Polls show generally diminishing support for wars except in particular moments of intense propaganda. If in those moments it can be shown that low-income U.S.ians are carrying a larger load of war support, that should indeed be examined — but without assuming that war supporters have good reason for giving their support. Indeed, Caverley offers some additional reasons why they might be misguided:

Holland: Let me ask you about a rival explanation for why poor people might be more supportive of military action. In the paper, you mention the idea that less wealthy citizens may be more prone to buy into what you call the “myths of empire.” Can you unpack that?

“Caverley: In order for us to go to war, we have to demonize the other side. It’s not a trivial thing for one group of people to advocate killing another group of people, no matter how callous you think humanity might be. So there is typically a lot of threat inflation and threat construction, and that just goes with the territory of war.

“So in my business, some people think that the problem is that elites get together and, for selfish reasons, they want to go to war. That’s true whether it’s to preserve their banana plantations in Central America or sell weapons or what have you.

“And they create these myths of empire — these inflated threats, these paper tigers, whatever you want to call it — and try to mobilize the rest of the country to fight a conflict that may not necessarily be in their interest.

“If they were right, then you would actually see that people’s foreign policy views – their idea of how great a threat is — would correlate with income. But once you control for education, I didn’t find that these views differed according to what your wealth or income is.”

This seems a little off to me. There is no question that Raytheon executives and the elected officials they fund will see more sense in arming both sides of a war than the average person of any income or education level will tend to see. But those executives and politicians are not a statistically significant group when talking broadly about the rich and poor in the United States. Most war profiteers, moreover, are likely to believe their own myths, at least when speaking with pollsters. That low-income Americans are misguided is no reason to imagine that upper-income Americans are not misguided too. Caverley also says:

“What was interesting to me is that one of the best predictors of your desire to spend money on defense was your desire to spend money on education, your desire to spend money on healthcare, your desire to spend money on roads. I was really shocked by the fact that there is not much of a ‘guns and butter’ tradeoff in the minds of most respondents in these public opinion polls.”

This seems exactly right. No large number of Americans has managed in recent years to make the connection between Germany spending 4% of U.S. levels on its military and offering free college, between the U.S. spending as much as the rest of the world combined on war preparations and leading the wealthy world in homelessness, food-insecurity, unemployment, imprisonment, and so on. This is in part, I think, because the two big political parties favor massive military spending, while one opposes and the other supports various smaller spending projects; so a debate develops between those for and against spending in general, without anyone ever asking “Spending on what?”

Speaking of myths, here’s another one that keeps the bipartisan support for militarism rolling:

“Holland: The bumper sticker finding here is that your model predicts that as inequality increases, average citizens will be more supportive of military adventurism, and ultimately in democracies, this may lead to more aggressive foreign policies. How does this jibe with what’s known as “democratic peace theory” — the idea that democracies have a lower tolerance for conflict and are less likely to go to war than more authoritarian systems?

“Caverley: Well, it depends on what you think is driving democratic peace. If you think it’s a cost-avoidance mechanism, then this doesn’t bode well for the democratic peace. I’d say most people I talk to in my business, we’re pretty sure democracies like to fight lots of wars. They just tend not to fight with each other. And probably the better explanations for that are more normative. The public is just not willing to support a war against another public, so to speak.

“To put it more simply, when a democracy has the choice between diplomacy and violence to solve its foreign policy problems, if the cost of one of these goes down, it’s going to put more of that thing in its portfolio.”

This is truly a lovely myth, but it collapses when put into contact with reality, at least if one treats nations like the United States as being “democracies.” The United States has a long history of overthrowing democracies and engineering military coups, from 1953 Iran up through present day Honduras, Venezuela, Ukraine, etc. The idea that so-called democracies don’t attack other democracies is often expanded, even further from reality, by imagining that this is because other democracies can be dealt with rationally, whereas the nations that ours attacks only understand the so-called language of violence. The United States government has too many dictators and kings as close allies for that to hold up. In fact it is resource-rich but economically poor countries that tend to be attacked whether or not they are democratic and whether or not the people back home are in favor of it. If any wealthy Americans are turning against this type of foreign policy, I urge them to fund advocacy that will replace it with a more effective and less murderous set of tools.

Posted in General | 3 Comments

Obama Misrepresents the Russian Economy

Eric Zuesse

A report posted October 15th at Russia Insider (a Russian website), headlined “Russian Industry Expands Rapidly In September, Hammers Expectations: Fastest growth since 2012. Manufacturing up 3.6%. Food production shows double digit growth.” This contradicts many reports in U.S. media, which take unquestioningly the Obama Administration’s assertions that the Russian economy is doing poorly as a result of Obama’s sanctions against Russia. Russia has responded to those sanctions by simply increasing its trading with other nations, which aren’t within the U.S. orbit (and also increasing its trading internally, within Russia itself). For example, Russian President Putin counter-sanctioned against Europe, whose farmers have thus lost a market that’s now being met by Russia’s farmers, and by farmers in other, non-U.S.-controlled, nations. Russia’s Foreign Minister explained that, “Russia never intended to play the sanctions game, however the imposed bans against Russian companies and individuals forced Moscow to apply retaliatory measures,” so that America and the countries within its orbit won’t benefit. Instead, Europe is taking the hit from Obama’s sanctions. Europe has been corrupt enough to go along with — instead of to condemn and reject — those sanctions, and is paying a price for that.

On May 21st, the Wall Street Journal  bannered, “China and Russia Sign Natural Gas Deal: Gazprom CEO Says Agreement Worth $400 Billion Over 30 Years.” Then, on October 13th, that newspaper’s blog headlined, “Russia Seals Deal With China on Currency Swap,” and reported that, “The central banks of the two countries have announced today a 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) currency-swap agreement which would promote the international use of the Chinese renminbi, while making Moscow less dependent on the dollar.”

Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin is, thus far, successful in his effort to use the reductions of trade with America’s allies as an opportunity to boost trade with America’s non-allies, such as the BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia (their own internal market), India, China, and South Africa. (China is already a larger market than the U.S.; some of the others might also come to be so.) On July 9th, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency bannered “BRICS to Create New Development Bank in Brazil,”  and reported that those countries agreed to devote $100 billion in start-up capital to create a competitor to the Washington-controlled IMF, and to the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency. Already, a more extensive article had appeared in France’s Humanite, bannering on July 5th, “POUTINE DANS L’ANCIEN PRÉ CARRÉ YANKEE” (“PUTIN IN THE FORMER BACKYARD [of the] YANKEE”), and they reported also that Putin would be visiting several Latin American cities that month, to drum up even more trade with America’s non-allies.

On October 15th, the Voice of America headlined, “Experts Divided Over Whether Sanctions Against Russia Are Working,” and then said that the reason there’s doubt about this is not that the economic sanctions are failing (which they largely are), but instead that the sanctions are “mostly intended to change behavior [of Putin], to deter bad behavior [such as Putin’s 'seizure' of Crimea, which was actually no seizure at all]. And in that sense, … probably it hasn’t worked.” This ‘news’ report, from America, said that the sanctions have worked against the Russian economy (when there actually hasn’t yet been enough time to evaluate what the net effects of the sanctions will turn out to be on Russia): “The Russian economy is likely to be stagnant this year and probably will gradually decline in the next few years.”

The U.S. Administration refers to the Russian economy under Putin’s rule as a failure. On August 2nd, President Obama said to Britain’s Economist, “Russia doesn’t make anything. Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking.” All of that is blatantly false.

Regarding “Russia doesn’t make anything”: an August 2013 World Bank study, “Drivers of Firm-Level Productivity in Russia’s Manufacturing Sector,” reported:

“Russia experienced a well-documented productivity surge over the period 1999-2005, following the 1998 crisis. This contributed to a dynamic growth and poverty reduction. Estimated annual total factor productivity (TFP) growth of 5.8 percent was the driving force behind the observed average annual real GDP growth of 6.5 percent over this period (Alam et al. 2008). Part of the productivity surge is explained by better utilization of excess capacity, especially in the manufacturing sector, a key driver of Russia’s growth, but also within-firm factors and inter-sectoral allocation of labor. Productivity in manufacturing itself––an important engine of Russia’s growth––grew at a healthy rate of over 4 percent in this period.”

Putin had entered office in 2000, and so that analysis actually covered Putin’s entire record thus far; and, as I have documented in another article, the Russian economy has vastly outperformed the U.S. economy since Putin entered office, and Russia’s has been the only major economy whose growth has rivaled China’s. The growth in Russia’s manufacturing sector is simply a part of Russia’s broader stellar economic performance, thus far during Putin’s leadership of Russia.

Regarding Obama’s “Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity”: Mark Adomanis in Forbes responded to this by asserting that Russia is, in fact, “the world’s second most popular destination for immigrants after the United States.” But both men were wrong here: According to the latest CIA World Factbook, both countries, America and Russia, are mediocre in this regard. The “Net Migration Rate” is 1.69 per thousand population entering Russia, and 2.45 in the U.S. By contrast, it’s 83.82 in Lebanon, 27.35 in Qatar, 21.78 in Zimbabwe, 17.69 in British Virgin Islands, 17.22 in Jordan, 16.01 in Libya, 14.71 in Cayman Islands, 14.55 in Singapore, 13.6 in Bahrain, and 13.58 in UAE — just to mention the top ten. The highest immigration-rates in Europe are 8.31 in San Marino, 7.97 in Luxembourg, 7.96 in Norway, and 7.24 in Spain. The highest in the Americas is 5.66 in Canada. The five highest emigration-rates are: -113.51 in Syria, -21.64 in American Samoa, -20.93 in Micronesia, -17.85 in Tonga, and -14.12 in Nauru.

Regarding Obama’s “The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old”: Adomanis noted that male life-expectancy was actually 65.14 years in 2013. That’s correct. However, Adomanis didn’t note (as I did in my article) that this is up from just 59 years when Putin first came into power in 2000. The only time when male longevity had been as high as it was in 2013 was in 1986, shortly before Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union and he called Harvard’s economics department in to remake the Russian economy (disastrously, as my article explained); Putin simply threw out the Harvardians, and their oligarchs, but the man who led Harvard’s effort, Harvard’s Lawrence Summers, subsequently went on to lead U.S. President Obama’s economic team, and his economy for America’s 1%. According to the latest CIA World Factbook,  overall  life-expectancy in the U.S. is 79.56 years, and in Russia it’s 70.16 years. But back in 2000 when Putin entered power, it was just 65.3 years. So: Putin’s leadership has given the Russians an additional five years of life. The ways he has done this are described in my article, earlier referred-to, and also (in terms strictly of Putin’s economic policy) described by Jon Hellevig here (see especially his pages 21-23).

Regarding Obama’s “The population is shrinking”: Russia’s population has actually been growing since 2007. It had soared nearly 50% between 1950 and Gorbachev’s entry into office in 1990, then headed steadily downhill till 2007, when it finally turned around and has been again on a growth-trend. The declines in the growth-rates of Russia’s population started when Gorbachev came into power in 1990, went into absolute negative territory starting in 1995, reached their very nadir in 2001, and then in 2003 headed back upward toward positive growth-rates once again, starting in 2003, and finally actually reached positive territory in 2008, eight years into Putin’s reign.

One can’t know in advance whether Putin’s phenomenal economic record will continue even after Obama’s recent efforts to harm Russia, but on September 1st, the Wall Street Journal’s website bannered, “Russia’s Manufacturing Sector Grows Despite Western Sanctions Over Ukraine,” and reported: “Russian manufacturing showed a second consecutive month of growth in August, propped up by new orders, suggesting that Western sanctions haven’t yet impacted the sector.” So: Obama’s false statements about Russia’s past could turn out to be accompanied by his false assertions about its future. In any case, his track-record as an economic predictor thus far is poor.

President Obama seems to be competing hard with his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush. Like Bush, too, he’s not just an American nationalist, but an American aggressive imperialist.

Obama’s speech at West Point, on 28 May 2014 (less than a month after he had started Ukraine’s anti-Russian ethnic cleansing) made clear his American supremacism – and even his rationalization for it — by addressing the graduating cadets as follows: “Here’s my bottom line:  America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.” Obama alleged: “Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.” Our nazi President said — yes, this nazi in America’s White House said: “In Ukraine, Russia’s recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isn’t the Cold War [he said this after signaling his listeners that it really is but that he’s a ‘liberal’ and so he doesn’t assert such hate-mongering things explicitly, but the cadets naturally can come to the conclusion themselves; it’s what they’re being paid to do, and Obama’s a gifted deceiver leading them in doing that]. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions; Europe and the G7 joined us to impose sanctions; NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies; the IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine’s economy [and, get that -- he had actually already destroyed  it, and here is an even more-recent report on that]; OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine.” (He said all this after having spent over five billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer funds to destabilize Ukraine and bring about the civil war there.)

George W. Bush had his Iraq (and his 2008 crash), and Barack Obama has his Ukraine (and so much more).

Both were/are based on lies.

How anyone can respect either of these two U.S. Presidents is beyond me. Both men should be in prison, for the rest of their lives. If there is not accountability for such heinous crimes as they have perpetrated upon America and upon the entire world, then why not let everyone who now is in America’s prisons, out? That would be less insane than either of these two men’s being not  in prison. No current U.S. prisoner has perpetrated nearly as vast harms as Bush has, nor as Obama has. And what does it say for America’s sense of values, that Americans aren’t calling, loud and clear, and insistently, for both men’s severe imprisonment? It’s an embarrassment to this country — nothing less than that. No American should accept it. This American does not. Great Presidents, such as Lincoln and FDR, deserve their high honors: they earned that. Similarly, any Presidents who have been so vile as Bush was, and as Obama is, deserve to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives. I hope that America is better than to accept either man. The sheer symbolism of that continued acceptance, the message that it sends to the rest of the world about our country, is simply awful. It will look very bad in the history books.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

 

 

 

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Politicians Try to Make Ebola a Partisan Issue for the Upcoming Election … But BOTH Parties Dropped the Ball

Both Parties Are Responsible

The Dallas Morning News notes:

The political blame game over the deadly Ebola virus is in full swing just weeks before the November elections — with each side ignoring the facts.

In reality, both sides have dropped the ball.

Democrats

For example, Democrats are trying to blame Republicans for budget cuts to the Centers for Disease Control.  The CDC has had its budget slashed.

But Huffington Post notes that Obama also pushed for CDC cuts.  And McClatchy points out that both parties cut budgets for health.

Obama also largely ignored CDC’s recommendations for setting up Ebola centers around the world.

In addition, the health agencies have squandered money. For example, the Federalist notes:

A 2012 report on federal spending including the following nuggets about how NIH spends its supposedly tight funds:

  • a $702,558 grant for the study of the impact of televisions and gas generators on villages in Vietnam.
  • $175,587 to the University of Kentucky to study the impact of cocaine on the sex drive of Japanese quail.
  • $55,382 to study hookah smoking in Jordan.
  • $592,527 to study why chimpanzees throw objects.

Last year there were news reports about a $509,840 grant from NIH to pay for a study that will send text messages in “gay lingo” to meth-heads. There are many other shake-your-head examples of misguided spending that are easy to find.

The Daily Mail adds:

  • The NIH budget included $2.4 million for a new condom design whose inventor is now being investigated for fraud [The article explains:  " 'Origami Condom' creator Daniel Resnic is accused of spending NIH grant dollars on cosmetic surgery, a Playboy Mansion party and exotic trips, and using his friends as informal research subjects instead of holding a controlled human trial"]
  • Another $939,000 taught scientists that male fruit flies prefer younger females
  • $257,000 went to create a companion website for first lady Michelle Obama’s White House garden
  • It cost $592,000 to determine that chimpanzees with the best poop-flinging skills are also the best communicators, and another $117,000 to learn that most chimps are right-handed

Indeed, some worry that the head of the Centers for Disease Control is more focused on stopping soda than deadly diseases.

This is very similar to all of the wasted defense spending.

Republicans

Republicans blame the Democratic president and his Democratic CDC director for their failure to stop Ebola. And they have been doing an absolutely horrible job.

However, private healthcare – championed by Republicans – has been an absolute train wreck in dealing with Ebola.

Additionally, managers of the private hospitals are gagging the nurses, so they can’t say what’s really going wrong.  For example:

In a Washington Post story on October 12, about how many US hospitals seem not well prepared for Ebola infected patients, appeared this from Bonnie Castillo, director of Registered Nurse Response Network, part of the union, National Nurses United,

Castillo said the union has been trying to contact nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man diagnosed with Ebola, died Wednesday.

‘That hospital has issued a directive to all hospital staff not to speak to press,’ Castillo said. ‘That is a grave concern because we need to hear from those front-line workers. We need to hear what happened there. … They have them on real lockdown. There is great fear. This hospital is not represented by a union. Our sense is they are afraid to speak out.’

The Los Angeles Times story included,

The Dallas nurses asked the union to read their statement so they could air complaints anonymously and without fear of losing their jobs, National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said from Oakland.

***

The AP story of October 15 stated,

The Presbyterian nurses are not represented by Nurses United or any other union. DeMoro and Burger said the nurses claimed they had been warned by the hospital not to speak to reporters or they would be fired. ***

Covering up information vitally needed by health care professionals, other institutions, the government, etc to better manage a potentially fatal disease that is already epidemic in other countries appears completely unethical.  Doing so to preserve the reputation of managers seems reprehensible.  But the implication of the recent stories is that is what happened. 

Moreover, health experts say that local governments have the ultimate authority to make decisions on handling Ebola and overseeing hospitals in their area.  The CDC can set protocols – which are widely followed.  But it is the local governments which have the power to actually issue orders.

Conservatives are against big government, and think that power should devolve to state and local governments.  But so far – at least in dealing with Ebola – local governments like Dallas have done a horrible job.

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