Colloidal Silver: Natural Treatment for Ebola?

In the News: Silver and Ebola

There is a tremendous buzz about silver and Ebola …

For example, a Google search for silver and Ebola turns up 25 million hits.   And the FDA sent a cease and desist letter to the makers of Nano Silver, demanding that they stop claiming their product cures Ebola.

Many people who are into alternative health are convinced that colloidal silver cures Ebola.  On the other hand, many mainstream people are positive it’s bunk.

Who’s right? What does the science show?

Can Silver Really Kill Germs?

Metal ions can kill germs through the “oligodynamic effect”. As Wikipedia notes:

The oligodynamic effect …  was discovered in 1893 by the Swiss Karl Wilhelm von Nägeli as a toxic effect of metal ions on living cells, algae, molds, spores, fungi, viruses, prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms, even in relatively low concentrations. This antimicrobial effect is shown by ions of mercury, silver, copper, iron, lead, zinc, bismuth, gold, aluminium, and other metals.

WebMD notes:

Colloidal silver can kill certain germs by binding to and destroying proteins.

Science Daily writes:

Silver has been known to have antibacterial properties since ancient times.

Silver has been used for thousands of years to fight infection.  The father of modern medicine – Hippocrates – discussed the use of silver in wound care.

Before the introduction of modern antibiotics, colloidal silver was used as a germicide and disinfectant.  In the early 20th century, surgeons routinely used silver sutures to reduce the risk of infection, silver-containing eyedrops to treat ophthalmic problems, for various infections,and sometimes internally. During World War I, soldiers used silver leaf  to treat infected wounds.

Today, the World Health Organization includes colloidal silver as a disinfection method for providing safe drinking water in developing countries.

Many modern hospitals filter hot water through copper-silver filters to defeat staph infections and Legionnaires’ disease.

Silver is used to disinfect the drinking water in two space stations: the International Space Station and Russia’s Mir .

The Journal Nanomedicine published a study in 2010 – written by scientists from Harvard Medical School, MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, Harvard-MIT Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, the University of Waterloo’s Nanotechnology Engineering and Brigham and Women’s Hospital – showing:

Inorganic nanoparticles, such as gold and silver, have been shown to have anti-HIV activity in vitro

Inorganic nanoparticles such as silver have antiviral effects or improve antiviral effects of other molecules, as in the case of gold nanoparticles.

Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin, Hong Kong and elsewhere have shown the same thing.

Janice L Speshock and Saber M. Hussain – while at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (Hussain is still there as senior scientist; Speshock is now a professor at Wayne State Medical school) – documented that nano silver can inhibit monkeypox virus and Tacaribe virus.

They note:

Silver nanoparticles possess many unique properties that make them attractive for use in biological applications. Recently they received attention when it was shown that 10 nm silver nanoparticles were bactericidal [i.e. they kill bacteria] ….

And they point out:

Silver-containing nanoparticles have previously demonstrated antimicrobial efficacy against bacteria and viral particles.

(“Efficacy” is the scientific term for “how well it works”.)

They’ve also shown that silver nanoparticles have some effect on  Ebola …

Specifically, Cathepsin B – a type of enzyme which breaks down proteins – is an  essential ingredient for Ebola infection, according to studies by two different teams of American scientists. (But see this.)

Speshock and Hussain explained in a 2010 study:

Cathepsin B activity decreases in a dose-dependent manner with [both silver and gold] nanoparticles …

But Is It SAFE?

While alternative health folks claim that colloidal silver is safe, Speshock and Hussain caution that little is known about the risks of reducing these normal Cathepsin B cell enzymes which have important functions for our health.

Indeed, Dr. Hussain participated in a study showing that silver nanoparticles can decrease body weight and locomotor activity in adult male rats.

A study published last year in Critical Reviews In Microbiology notes:

There is little understanding of [silver nanoparticles'] interactions with microorganisms.

And even proponents of a daily colloidal silver supplement admit that it kills beneficial gut bacteria, as well as dangerous bugs. As such, even they say that you shouldn’t overdo it.

Putting It All Together: Colloidal Silver As a Treatment for Ebola?

The University of Michigan’s Risk Science Center notes:

Silver has been used as an antimicrobial agent for thousands of years – the Romans used to use silverware to reduce food and drink-borne infection.  More recently, nanoparticles of silver have been used in everything from food containers to socks in an attempt to imbue them with microbe-killing properties.

When used in the right way, the material certainly does exhibit antimicrobial properties. But there’s a massive jump from odor-resistant socks to curing Ebola patients.

***

The source of Dr. Laibow’s [the main person touting silver to prevent Ebola] optimism appears to be a 2009 presentation of research carried out by Janice Speshock and Saber Hussain at the US Air Force National Laboratory.  A Powerpoint of this presentation has been declassified, and is currently doing the rounds on the internet.

The presentation reports on research into the effectiveness of silver nanoparticles in rendering hemorrhagic fever viruses like Ebola ineffective.  The study was carried out using cell cultures, and a number of viruses and virus-like particles.  It seemed to indicate that when the silver nanoparticles penetrated into cells along with the virus in sufficient quantities, they were effective at preventing the virus from being active once the cell had been exposed.

While it is impossible to interpret research findings from Powerpoint slides alone, the data do suggest that there are some unusual interactions between silver nanoparticles and Ebola-like viruses, although there are no data indicating whether similar interactions are also seen with other nanoparticles.  More importantly, they do not indicate whether these same interactions would occur in an infected patient.  They also do not indicate the quantity of silver nanoparticles someone wold need to take to render Ebola ineffective, or whether the necessary dose to have an effect would cause medical complications.

This presentation builds on previously published research by Speshock and Hussain that looked at Monkey Pox virus plaque formation inhibition by nano silver.  Using cell cultures, the researchers found that nano silver and and silver ions were effective at reducing Monkey Pox Virus-induced plaques.  However, they also concluded

“The present study demonstrates the feasibility of implementing the use, and characterizing the efficacy, of silver-based nanoparticles against [Monkey Pox Virus] infection in vitro. However, for nanoparticles to be used in therapeutic or prophylactic treatment regimens, it is critical to understand the in vivo toxicity and potential for long-term sequelae [i.e. complications] associated with exposure to these compounds.”

In 2010 Speshock and Hussain published research on the interaction of silver nanoparticles with Tacaribe virus.  The research – published in the Journal of Nanobiotechnology – indicated that in cell cultures, the presence of silver nanoparticles increased the cell uptake of the virus, but also suppressed its activity once in cells. They concluded

“Due to the known toxicity of Ag- NPs [silver nanoparticles] in many human cell lines, and the short time limit of efficacy following infection, the Ag-NPs would likely make a more effective decontamination tool as opposed to an in vivo therapeutic agent. However, if the Ag-NPs do indeed facilitate the uptake of arenaviruses into the cell and inactivate the virus prior to cell entry, further studies should be performed to determine if Ag- NPs can prove to be an effective vaccine adjuvant.” ***

With significantly more research, silver nanoparticles may have some role to play in preventing or managing infections. But the research does not support clinical applications at this stage.  Even if there was proof that silver nanoparticles are effective in humans in suppressing viral activity (and there is not), there are critical questions over dose and delivery.

To be effective, there would need to be systemic uptake of nano silver within the body at doses that are sufficient to inhibit the Ebola virus, but low enough to prevent unacceptable harm.  Currently, scientists have no ideas what an appropriate dose is.

Even if they did, it is not clear how the silver nanoparticles would be delivered.  Taking the material orally – as would be expected of colloidal silver dietary supplements – is unlikely to be effective as silver nanoparticles dissolve in gastric juices.  Nanoparticle uptake from the gut into the body is also very poor.  Inhaling silver nanoparticles is likewise unlikely to lead to significant nano-silver distribution through the body.  Which leaves direct injection of silver nanoparticles into the bloodstream – not an option to be undertaken lightly with an unproven and untested nanomaterial.

Similarly, Live Science reports:

There is some evidence that silver has antimicrobial properties, said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

But as far as taking it orally as medicine, “silver has been tried in various other circumstances against several different infections with very limited effect,” Schaffner told Live Science.

[Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease specialist and a senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Center for Health Security] noted that silver coatings on bed railings, catheters and endotracheal tubes can inhibit bacteria from colonizing those surfaces. Silver is also added to certain topical antibacterial creams, such burn creams, to prevent infection, he said.

But there’s no peer-reviewed evidence that silver could help a person infected with the Ebola virus, Adalja said. And if the drug were actually made of tiny silver nanoparticles, then the particles could potentially penetrate cells and “wreak some havoc there,” Adalja added.

The bottom line is that colloidal silver – like mannose-binding lectins – is a powerful substances which can kill many dangerous germs. But – like lectins – it can also cause health problems in the wrong dosage or form.

As such, I believe that more scientific research has to be conducted before we know whether colloidal silver is effective in the treatment of Ebola and – if so – what the safe and appropriate dosage is.

End notes: In an emergency – say, if one were directly exposed to Ebola – one would have to make his or her own decision about whether to gulp down colloidal silver as a desperate measure. 

I am not a healthcare professional, and this does not constitute medical advice.

Disclosures: None. I don’t work for – or have any investments or other financial interest in – any companies which sell colloidal silver or medicine.

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The Pope: “Corruption Is a Greater Evil than Sin”

Modern interpretation of Christ driving the money changers from the temple by Anthony Freda/Daniel Zollinger

“More than Forgiven, This Evil Must Be CURED”

Preface: If you are an atheist (or adherent of another faith) and believe that the Catholic faith is crazy, you are obviously entitled to your belief.  But please remember that very few Americans are atheists … and the majority don’t trust atheists.  More importantly, it’s wise to work with allies on core issues, such as fighting corruption … even if you would normally disagree with them. 

In this case, the Pope just may speak for a lot of allies.  After all, there are more than a billion Catholics worldwide.  Some 85% of the American population identifies itself as Christian, and 78 million Americans have been baptized into the Catholic Church. The U.S. has the world’s fourth largest Catholic population.

Legal authorities have done nothing to crack down on Wall Street corruption.  The U.S. government admits that it refuses to prosecute fraud … pretty much as an official policy.

Sure, a few “small fish” are indicted … but the big boys go free.  Indeed, there are two systems of justice in Americaone for the Wall Street  fatcats, and one for everyone else.

In reality,  the government helped cover up the crimes of the big banks, used claims of national security to keep everything in the dark, and changed basic rules and definitions to allow the game to continue. See this, this, this and this.    Because fraudsters weren’t prosecuted and the banks weren’t broken up, the fraudsters are now committing bigger and bigger crimes, and banks are now bigger than ever … leaving the economy open to an even bigger crash than occurred in 2008.

Even the President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank has repeatedly said that bankers have to improve their ethics … but to no avail.

Why isn’t the government cracking down on corruption and fraud?  Because most government workers are themselves corrupt.  As is the government procurement process.

Yesterday, Pope Francis gave a powerful speech, directly addressing these problems (Google translate):

The scandalous concentration of global wealth is possible due to the connivance of public leaders with the powers that be. The corruption is itself a process of death … when life dies, there is corruption.There are few things more difficult than opening a breach in a corrupt heart: “So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich with God” (Luke 12:21). When the personal situation of the corrupt becomes complicated, he knows all the loopholes to escape as did the dishonest steward of the Gospel (cf. Lk 16.1 to 8).

The corrupt through life with shortcuts opportunism, with the air of one who says, “It was not me”, coming to internalize his mask as an honest man. It’s a process of internalization. The corrupt can not accept criticism, dismisses anyone who provides criticizes, tries to belittle any moral authority to question him, does not value the other and insults anyone who thinks differently.  If the balance of power permits, he  prosecutes anyone who contradicts him.

Corruption is expressed in an atmosphere of triumphalism because the corrupt fancies himself a winner. In that he struts to belittle others. The corrupt knows no fraternity or friendship, but complicity and enmity.

The corrupt does not perceive his corruption. It’s a little like what happens with bad breath … it’s hard for those who have it to know, unless someone else tells them.

For this reason, the corrupt can hardly get out of their internal state by way of remorse of conscience. Corruption is a greater evil than sin. More than forgiven, this evil must be cured.

Corruption has become “natural” to the point of getting to statehood linked to personal and social custom, a common practice in commercial and financial transactions, in public procurement, in any negotiation involving State agents. It is the victory of appearances over reality …

***

There are now many international conventions and treaties on the matter … not so much geared to protect the citizens, who ultimately are the latest victims – particularly the most vulnerable – but how to protect the interests of operators of economic markets and financial companies.

The penalty is selective. It is like a net that captures only the small fish, while leaving the big [fish] free in the sea.

(Note: I tried to improve Google translate’s rough translation. My Italian is rusty, and I would welcome a better translation from a fluent Italian speaker.)

What Does it Mean to Do God’s Work?

The head of Goldman Sachs said he’s doing “God’s work” with his banking activities.

The head of Barclays also told his congregation that banking as practiced by his company was not antithetical to Christian principles.

Are they right? Is big banking as practiced by the giant banks in harmony with Christian principles?

Do Justice

Initially, the Bible does not counsel us to ignore the breaking of laws by the the powerful.

In fact, the Bible mentions justice over 200 times — more than just about any other topic. The Bible asks us to do justice and to stand up to ANYONE — including the rich or powerful — who do injustice or oppress the people.

Indeed, one of the first things God asks of us is to do justice:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

While many churches and synagogues have become obsessed with other issues, many have arguably ignored this most important of God’s demands of us. As pointed out by a leading Christian ministry, which rescues underage girls trapped as sex slaves in third world countries:

In Scripture there is a constant call to seek justice. Jesus got upset at the Pharisees because they neglected the weightier matters of the law, which He defined as justice and the love of God . . . Isaiah 58 complains about the fact that while the people of God are praying and praying and praying, they are not doing anything about the injustice.

Should Christians just pray for justice and leave the rest to God?

That’s not what the Bible asks us to do. Instead, Hebrews 11:33 tells us that we are God’s hands for dispensing justice, and God uses us to “administer justice.”

We have to “walk our talk” and put our prayers into action.

God demands that we do everything in our power to act as “God’s hands” in bringing justice. And as Saint Augustine reminds us, “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.”

Indeed:

The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene. (Isaiah 59:15-16)

This is the only place in the Bible where the word “appalled” is used for the way God feels — in other words, the only thing which we know God is appalled by is if people are not doing justice.

There are hundreds of other references to justice in the Bible, including:

  • Blessed are they who maintain justice . . . . (Psalm 106:3)
  • This is what the LORD says: Maintain justice and do what is right . . . . (Isiah 56:1)
  • This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. (Jeremiah 22:3,13-17)
  • Follow justice and justice alone. (Deuteronomy 16:19, 20)
  • For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice . . . . (Job 11:5,7)
  • Learn to do right! Seek justice . . . . (Isaiah 1:17)

So if the powerful players in the giant banks broke the laws, they must be held to account.

Fraud and Manipulation of Money

The big banks have engaged in systemic, continuous ongoing criminal fraud.

Allowing the banks to commit crime with impunity is not what Jesus would do. What would Jesus do? Turn over the tables of the money-changers. (economists agree.)

Moreover, the giant banks manipulate currency through the use of schemes such as manipulating interest rates (gaming interest rates in different regions – Libor, Eurobor, etc. – can in turn drive their currencies up or down), high frequency trading and artificially suppressing gold prices (which artificially inflates the value of fiat money) .

As Ron Paul notes, the Bible forbids altering the quality of money (which, at the time and place, was entirely in the form of coins):

Even the Bible is clear that altering the quality of money is an immoral act. We are instructed to follow the rules of “just weights and measures.” “You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin” (Leviticus 19:35-36). “Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD, and a false balance is not good” (Proverbs 20:23). The general principle can be summed as “You shall not steal.”

Proverbs 11:1 also provides:

Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.

So to the extent that the giant banks have engaged in any dishonest acts or the manipulation of currencies, they are violating scripture.

Oppression of the Poor

The Bible condemns oppression of the poor for the benefit of the affluent:

He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want. (Proverbs 22:16)

To the extent that the giant banks have oppressed the poor to increase their riches, they are violating scripture.

Due to their looting, inequality is now worse in American than in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, most Latin American banana republics … and ancient Rome.

Waging War

Bankers are often the driving force behind war. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9), and Jesus would not have taken kindly to waging wars for profit based upon false pretenses.

Jesus Was Killed for Standing Up to Corruption

Reverend Howard Bess notes:

Jesus did not go to the temple to cleanse. He came to the temple to announce the destruction of a whole way of life. Those who operated the temple had no power to silence Jesus and put him to death. Those powers were held by the Roman retainers.

The charges that were leveled against him can be summed up as insurrection. There were three specific charges: encouraging non-payment of taxes, threatening to destroy property (the temple), and claiming to be a king. It was the temple incident that took Jesus from being an irritating, but harmless country rebel from the rural north to a nuisance in a city that controlled the great tradition. Rome’s retainers killed him on a cross.

In other words, Jesus wasn’t sentenced to death until he challenged the money changers. Jesus didn’t die for a sin like lust or slothfulness. He died for our corruption.

Resurrection: Christ’s Ministry

Christ – and his ministry – lives to the extent that we act as God’s hands to confront the big banks which are warping our economy and our world.

But Isn’t the Economy Still Too Fragile?

Shouldn’t we wait until the economy is stronger before prosecuting fraud?

Nope …

Ecclesiastes 8:11 notes:

When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.

Nobel prize winning economists agree.

Postscript: Not all bankers are bad people. For example, many bankers at smaller banks and credit unions are good people who are trying to help their communities. Each must be judged by his or her own acts.

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Obama Is “Handling” Ebola … with P.R.

More Interested In Optics than Solutions

Obama didn’t appoint an infectious disease expert – or even someone with any healthcare experience – as Ebola czar.  He appointed a lobbyist and PR flack.

American healthcare workers caught Ebola because hospitals are not using proper protocolseven today.

Obama is running around doing photo ops with recovered Ebola patients:

Obama hugs Nina PhamLarry Downing/Reuters

That’s a nice picture – intended to reassure people that Ebola is not very dangerous – but won’t do anything to contain the spread of Ebola.

Just as with the financial crisis, environmental accidents and food safety problems, the government is all about “optics” … covering up problems instead of fixing them.

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Huffington Post: In the War Between the CIA and Senate Democrats, Everybody Won Except the Public

Eric Zuesse

Ryan Grim and Ali Watkins of Huffington Post headlined in an October 23rd news story, “Senate-CIA Dispute Unsettled As Final Investigation Into Torture Report Ends,” and they reported that the investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, concerning records that the CIA had erased from its computer hard drives, pertaining to the CIA’s role in the use of illegal tortures of detainees, has been halted, because the Senate’s chief law enforcer, its Sergeant-at-Arms, says that he “can’t verify any of what CIA is saying.” Furthermore, even the Inspector General of the CIA himself asserts that the CIA’s accusations of illegality in the way that the Senate investigating panel had received the CIA documents that the CIA had wanted to hide, was based on “inaccurate information” that was supplied by the CIA. The key document was “The Panetta Review” of the CIA’s role in the tortures. Leon Panetta was the Obama-appointed CIA chief. The Obama Administration — its Justice Department, under Attorney General Eric Holder — declined to investigate the CIA’s accusation against the Senate Intelligence Committee, which — since Democrats currently control the U.S. Senate — is controlled by a Democratic Senator, California’s Dianne Feinstein. Furthermore, Holder refuses to investigate possible criminality by the CIA. So: President Obama, via his AG, has, essentially, waved off the entire matter.

Senator Feinstein’s war against the CIA started when she said in the Senate on 11 March 2014  that:

Per an exchange of letters in 2009, then-Vice Chairman [of the Committee, Senator Kit] Bond [R-Mo.], then-Director Panetta, and I agreed in an exchange of letters that the CIA was to provide a “stand-alone computer system” with a “network drive” “segregated from CIA networks” for the committee that would only be accessed by information technology personnel at the CIA—who would “not be permitted to” “share information from the system with other [CIA] personnel, except as otherwise authorized by the committee.”

It was this computer network that, notwithstanding our agreement with Director Panetta, was searched by the CIA this past January, and once before. …

The CIA just went and searched the committee’s computers. The CIA has still not asked the committee any questions about how the committee acquired the Panetta Review. In place of asking any questions, the CIA’s unauthorized search of the committee computers was followed by an allegation—which we have now seen repeated anonymously in the press—that the committee staff had somehow obtained the document through unauthorized or criminal means, perhaps to include hacking into the CIA’s computer network. As I have described, this is not true.

So, now, this entire investigation into the CIA’s role in illegal tortures has died, allegedly because the Senate’s Sergeant-at-Arms doesn’t trust the CIA, the CIA’s Inspector General finds the CIA’s accusations against the Democratic-led Committee to be based on “inaccurate information,” and the U.S. Attorney General asserts that the CIA’s case against that Committee isn’t worth pursuing.

President Obama refuses to subject any official in the George W. Bush Administration to legal proceedings, which might result if the findings in the Panetta Review were to be revealed to anyone outside the CIA itself. Senators Feinstein and Bond were on opposite sides of this matter. The Republican, Bond, didn’t want anyone in the George W. Bush Administration to be investigated; the President agrees; and, so, the investigation that Senate Democrats had been pursuing for years is now being simply abandoned.

In other words: Everyone is being protected, except the public, whose interest in living in a democracy under the U.S. Constitution has been sacrificed by all officials who are involved in the matter. Senator Feinstein and Senate Democrats have been blocked by Republicans, and by the President, from completing their investigation of the CIA’s role in the tortures. This is consistent with this President’s entire record of blocking legal investigations of his predecessor in the White House, and of his Administration. It happened before, with Senator Carl Levin’s investigation into the 2008 financial collapse. It is happening yet again, with Senator Feinstein. If there were a Republican occupying the White House, the result would have been the same. (Or, perhaps we should ask: Is there  a Republican occupying the White House?)

———-

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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War Culture

According to a book by George Williston called This Tribe of Mine: A Story of Anglo Saxon Viking Culture in America, the United States wages eternal war because of its cultural roots in the Germanic tribes that invaded, conquered, ethnically cleansed, or — if you prefer — liberated England before moving on to the slaughter of the Native Americans and then the Filipinos and Vietnamese and on down to the Iraqis. War advocate, former senator, and current presidential hopeful Jim Webb himself blames Scots-Irish American culture.

But most of medieval and ancient Europe engaged in war. How did Europe end up less violent than a place made violent by Europe? Williston points out that England spends dramatically less per capita on war than the United States does, yet he blames U.S. warmaking on English roots. And, of course, Scotland and Ireland are even further from U.S. militarism despite being closer to England and presumably to Scots-Irishness.

“We view the world through Viking eyes,” writes Williston, “viewing those cultures that do not hoard wealth in the same fashion or make fine iron weapons as child-like and ripe for exploitation.” Williston describes the passage of this culture down to us through the pilgrims, who came to Massachusetts and began killing — and, quite frequently, beheading — those less violent, acquisitive, or competitive than they.

Germans and French demonstrated greater respect for native peoples, Williston claims. But is that true? Including in Africa? Including in Auschwitz? Williston goes on to describe the United States taking over Spanish colonialism in the Philippines and French colonialism in Vietnam, without worrying too much about how Spain and France got there.

I’m convinced that a culture that favors war is necessary but not sufficient to make a population as warlike as the United States is now. All sorts of circumstances and opportunities are also necessary. And the culture is constantly evolving. Perhaps Williston would agree with me. His book doesn’t make a clear argument and could really have been reduced to an essay if he’d left out the religion, the biology metaphors, the experiments proving telepathy or prayer, the long quotes of others, etc. Regardless, I think it’s important to be clear that we can’t blame our culture in the way that some choose to blame our genes. We have to blame the U.S. government, identify ourselves with humanity rather than a tribe, and work to abolish warmaking.

In this regard, it can only help that people like Williston and Webb are asking what’s wrong with U.S. culture. It can be shocking to an Israeli to learn that their day of independence is referred to by Palestinians as The Catastrophe (Nakba), and to learn why. Similarly, many U.S. school children might be startled to know that some native Americans referred to George Washington as The Destroyer of Villages (Caunotaucarius). It can be difficult to appreciate how peaceful native Americans were, how many tribes did not wage war, and how many waged war in a manner more properly thought of as “war games” considering the minimal level of killing. As Williston points out, there was nothing in the Americas to compare with the Hundred Years War or the Thirty Years War or any of the endless string of wars in Europe — which of course are themselves significantly removed in level of killing from wars of more recent years.

Williston describes various cooperative and peaceful cultures: the Hopi, the Kogi, the Amish, the Ladakh. Indeed, we should be looking for inspiration wherever we can find it. But we shouldn’t imagine that changing our cultural practices in our homes will stop the Pentagon being the Pentagon. Telepathy and prayer are as likely to work out as levitating the Pentagon in protest. What we need is a culture dedicated to the vigorous nonviolent pursuit of the abolition of war.

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The Rape of Democracy

Eric Zuesse

On the one side are Republicans, who resent taxes and self-identify with rich people who say that government is basically a huge waste of money and only private business is efficient and productive.

On the other side are Democrats, who don’t resent anything and who say that government is good enough to be worth the taxes that are paying for it.

Neither party is “pro-government,” and both parties are “pro-private-enterprise” or pro-corporate; so, what America actually has is two conservative parties, one of which — the Republicans — is extremely  conservative.

Those are the only two political parties that have a history and a donor-base that’s big enough to stand a chance of winning 99% of elections in America; so, third parties exist here only to draw off more support from voters of one of the two real parties than from the other, and thus to throw elections in close races and thereby use their voter-base of fools so as to enable them to extort something from one of the two real parties. Otherwise, they’re simply stupid, all the way from their bottom to their top.

That’s the reality of the ideological ‘debate’ in the United States increasingly during recent decades: conservatism versus extreme conservatism, the latter of which is otherwise called “fascism.”

How did this ideologically monotonous, all-conservative, America come about?

Republican donors have simply been winning. They especially won in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-Republican to 4-Democrat Citizens United decision that makes a corporation (either profit or nonprofit) a “person” with the special privilege to donate unlimited and even secret cash to any and all political campaigns.

In November 1933, the founder of today’s form of extreme conservatism or “fascism,” Benito Mussolini,” defined what fascism is, by saying (see page 426 there) that it’s “corporationsm”: he wrote that “the corporation plays on the economic terrain just as the Grand Council and the militia play on the political terrain. Corporationism is disciplined economy, and from that comes control, because one cannot imagine a discipline without a director. Corporationism is above socialism and above liberalism. A new synthesis is created.”

In other words, he said: corporations are more efficient than any government can be;  so, governments should be run like corporations are — top-down by a decisive CEO — in order to get things done that government wants done, and to do it quickly and efficiently, not to waste money.

Mussolini’s teacher was Vilfredo Pareto, who defined the very concept of “efficiency” that’s used in today’s economic theory; he said that it’s simply transactions in which all participants are participating voluntarily. In other words: there is no government over them, no regulator of the economy; there are just trades, transactions, these being voluntary, like in the idealized economy. (But, he ignored what ‘voluntary’ means; he instead used a self-invented term “ophelimity” for that, in order to ward off questions to which he had no answer: all of the important questions — such as “Taxes aren’t voluntary; are they therefore automatically inefficient, bad, welfare-reducing?” And: “If someone buys or sells on the basis of misrepresentations, was the transaction ‘voluntary’?” Pareto was just a con-artist in the intellectual sphere, but a very successful one.)

Mussolini promised to “make the trains run on time”; he would be the CEO to do that, so that people could go efficiently about their private business, while he tried to minimize the role of government in the economy. To him, government was just a necessary evil, and should be run more like a corporation is run. Bureaucracy wasn’t seen as the evil; government  bureaucracy was, and he wanted to reduce it to a minimum, transferring it to private corporations, which would supposedly be more “efficient.” He invented the privatization of what had been government, tax-supported, functions. In September 2009, the European University Institute issued their RSCAS_2009_46.pdf, titled “From Public to Private: Privatization in 1920’s Fascist Italy,” (subsequently retitled “The First Privatization: Selling SOEs” in the 2011 Cambridge Journal of Economics) by Germa Bel, who said in her summary: “Privatization was an important policy in Italy in 1922-1925. The Fascist government was alone in transferring State ownership and services to private firms in the 1920s; no other country in the world would engage in such a policy until Nazi Germany did so between 1934 and 1937.” She particularly noted: “In his first speech as a member of the Italian Parliament in June 1921, Mussolini said: ‘The State must have a police, a judiciary, an army, and a foreign policy. All other things, and I do not exclude secondary education, must go back to the private activity of individuals.’”

That policy was subsequently taken up by Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Margaret Thatcher in Britain, and Ronald Reagan in the U.S., because the ideology, fascism, gradually became normalized throughout the West, via corporate-backed people such as Milton Friedman and other extremist conservatives; and liberals merely rejected it, they didn’t offer any coherent ideology to replace  it.

The Cold War against the communists had given fascism a privileged position: one couldn’t talk against “the free market” without running up against Joseph R. McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunts or other people’s similarly far-right nationalist demagoguery, which meant that there was really no acceptable alternative to fascism, in the West.

Then, when communism fell, and when it became replaced (under the guidance of the Harvard economics department, thoroughly Paretian of course) in the 1990s, with fascisms, and massive privatizations of previously state-owned assets, there was no clear alternative anywhere  to fascism. Mussolini had won WWII, after his death — first in the communist countries, then in the rest. Aristocrats were now firmly in control worldwide.

What the Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court did in their Citizens United  decision was simply to carry this privatization-ideology more fully into the sphere of U.S. political campaigns. The five fascist ‘Justices’ didn’t refer to Benito Mussolini, but, if they had been honest, they would have — and they wouldn’t have referred at all to the U.S. Constitution, which, certainly in its original intent, was anti-corporate.

The author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, wrote, on 12 November 1816, to his long-time friend Dr. George Logan of Philadelphia, about the “profligacy” of England’s government, wasting resources to prop up its international corporations, which Jefferson said had brought about “the ruin of its people” in order to benefit aristocrats. He said, “This ruin [in England] will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall, on that hereditary aristocracy which has for generations been preparing the catastrophe [meaning creating the catastrophe (by corrupting the government), not meaning to prepare for the catastrophe]. I hope we shall take warning from the [English] example [e.g., the British East India Company] and crush in it’s [sic] birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

On 26 December 1827, he wrote to William B. Giles, warning that “younger recruits, who, having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of ’76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and moneyed incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry. This will be to them a next best blessing to the monarchy of their first aim, and perhaps the surest stepping-stone to it.” He was forecasting fascism, as America’s enemy.

Benjamin Franklin was equally clear about this. In James Madison’s extensive account of the proceedings at the U.S. Constitutional Convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution, Madison recorded, on 10 August 1787, concerning a proposal that had been put forth by a certain proponent of slavery, Charles Pinckney (sometimes spelled “Pinkney”), to restrict voting only to people who had property, that (in Madison’s paraphrase of Benjamin Franklin’s speech), Franklin had asserted on this date, that:

“the possession of property increased the desire of more property — Some of the greatest rogues he was ever acquainted with, were the richest rogues. We should remember the character which the Scripture requires in Rulers, that they should be men hating covetousness – This Constitution will be much read and attended to in Europe, and if it should betray a great partiality to the rich – will not only hurt us in the esteem of the most liberal and enlightened men there, but discourage the common people from removing to this Country.” (Precursing the Statue of Liberty: it didn’t just happen — our Founders were planning for it.)

Madison immediately added there:

“The Motion of Mr. Pinkney was rejected by so general a no, that the States were not called.”

Not only did Franklin’s statement sway the entire convention; it caused Madison himself, ever-afterwards, to change his mind from ambiguity to clearly favoring persons over property. Thus, in 1821, he wrote that:

“there are various ways in which the rich may oppress the poor; in which property may oppress liberty. …  It is necessary that the poor should have a defence against the danger. … Under every view of the subject, it seems indispensable that the mass of citizens should not be without a voice, in making the laws which they are to obey, & in choosing the magistrates, who are to administer them, and if the only alternative be between an equal & universal right of suffrage for each branch of the Govt. and a confinement of the entire right to a part of the citizens, it is better that those having the greater interest at stake namely that of property & persons both, should be deprived of [that] half their share in the Govt.; than, that those having the lesser interest, that of personal rights only, should be deprived of the whole.”

Alexander Hamilton was fairly quiet about this matter at the Convention, but he had already been fully on record as having written, on 23 February 1775, in his The Farmer Refuted, that:

“no Englishman who can be deemed a free agent in a political view can be bound by laws to which he has not consented, either in person or by his representative. … It is therefore evident, to a demonstration, that unless a free agent in America be permitted to enjoy the same privilege [as in England], we are entirely stripped of the benefits of the constitution, and precipitated into an abyss of slavery. For we are deprived of that immunity which is the grand pillar and support of freedom. And this cannot be done without a direct violation of the [then-existing British] constitution.”

Hamilton was saying that one of the reasons a revolution against the King was necessary is that the King was violating the British Constitution, by denying all (non-slave) colonists an equal right to vote, irrespective of how wealthy they might happen to be.

However, the fascist jurist Antonin Scalia famously said, with glee, in the 12 December 2000 Bush v. Gore case (5 Republicans beating 4 Democrats), that, ”the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.” Scalia refused to mention that that’s not because the original intent of the Founders wasn’t overwhelmingly in favor of equal voting rights for all non-slaves. (But women were yet another traditionalist issue too hot to touch in that era.) Scalia’s Constitutional “originalism” rejects the original intent of the Founders, but instead is based upon the bigoted intent of the most-conservative Americans and even Britishers during that time, as constituting our Constitution’s “original intent”; and, so, Scalia is unalterably opposed to the concept of one-person-one-vote, and he does all that he can to amplify the voting-power of the wealthy, via increasing the influence of money over our ‘elections.’ This naturally tends to transform one-person-one-vote into one-dollar-one-vote (which is the fascist ideal: rule by dollars, instead of rule by voters).

The entire thrust of Republican Supreme Court ‘Justices,’ in regards to electoral disputes, has been based far more upon the attitudes and values of people such as Benito Mussolini, than reflecting people such as Benjamin Franklin. Big-money has taken over, and liberals haven’t provided any alternative to that ideology. But Franklin did. And Jefferson did. And Madison did. And Hamilton did. Many of America’s great Founders did.

This fact is being ignored, because the wealthy interests who have financed conservative scholars don’t want it to become known. And liberal aristocrats, such as George Soros, serve more to distract such debates than to finance authentically progressive scholars, such as Zephyr Teachout, the author of the brilliant “Constitutional Purpose and the Anti-Corruption Principle”. In a briefer and more down-to-earth vein than Teachout’s, is my own “Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court Are Wrong: The Original Intent of the U.S. Constitution Was Progressive.” Such progressive writings are marginalized, because people like Soros, Gates, the Kochs, and the Waltons, are of only two basic types: some of them (the few ‘liberal’ aristocrats) ignore the ideological issue, but the others of them are strongly ideological, finance conservative scholars, and thus determine what type of thinking is ‘respectable’, and what types are not. (Truth doesn’t equate with their ‘respectability’.)

The conservatives have pre-empted a true jurisprudence of original intent, in order to block an authentic one coming from the progressives, just as the fascists have pre-empted a true “welfare”-based economics, in order to block an authentic one coming from any progressives. Thus, what we’ve got is unscientific, mythological, jurisprudential theory, and economic theory — both. Both of these conservative efforts have succeeded, because of enormous aristocratic money behind them. In scholarship, merit is starved; corruption is fed. Truthful scholarship and truthful politics are thus the two legs that are needed in order for a culture to be able to walk toward an authentic liberty, a liberty of the public (away from the aristocracy), but both legs are crippled with corruption; and, so, what prevails in both law and economics is instead the well-funded fascism. It has nothing to do with truth. Truth is what corruption blocks. Corruption is inimical to truth.

Thus, corruption wins; truth loses. That’s the problem. When there is great inequality of wealth, the truth gets drowned-out by lies. It’s been happening in America, and around the world. More and more money is going into the promulgation of lies, because that’s what any aristocracy thrives upon, quite naturally. Without those lies, the public would recognize: the aristocracy’s authority is founded on fraud.

———-

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.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

EXCLUSIVE: Was Ebola Accidentally Released from a Bioweapons Lab In West Africa?

Accidents at Germ Labs Have Occurred Worldwide

Nations such as Russia, South Africa and the U.S. have long conducted research into how to make deadly germs even more deadly. And accidents at these research facilities have caused germs to escape, killing people and animals near the facilities.

For example, the Soviet research facility at Sverdlovsk conducted anthrax research during the Cold War. They isolated the most potent strain of anthrax culture and then dried it to produce a fine powder for use as an aerosol. In 1979, an accident at the facility released anthrax, killing 100. A Russian Ebola researcher also died when she cut her finger while in the lab.

The U.S. has had its share of accidents.  USA Today noted in August:

More than 1,100 laboratory incidents involving bacteria, viruses and toxins that pose significant or bioterror risks to people and agriculture were reported to federal regulators during 2008 through 2012, government reports obtained by USA TODAY show.

***

In two other incidents, animals were inadvertently infected with contagious diseases that would have posed significant threats to livestock industries if they had spread. One case involved the infection of two animals with hog cholera, a dangerous virus eradicated from the USA in 1978. In another incident, a cow in a disease-free herd next to a research facility studying the bacteria that cause brucellosis, became infected ….

The issue of lab safety and security has come under increased scrutiny by Congress in recent weeks after a series of high-profile lab blunders at prestigious government labs involving anthrax, bird flu and smallpox virus.

***

The new lab incident data indicate mishaps occur regularly at the more than 1,000 labs operated by 324 government, university and private organizations across the country ….

“More than 200 incidents of loss or release of bioweapons agents from U.S. laboratories are reported each year. This works out to more than four per week,” said Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert at Rutgers university in New Jersey, who testified before Congress last month at a hearing about CDC’s lab mistakes.

The only thing unusual about the CDC’s recent anthrax and bird flu lab incidents, Ebright said, is that the public found out about them. “The 2014 CDC anthrax event became known to the public only because the number of persons requiring medical evaluation was too high to conceal,” he said.

CDC officials were unavailable for interviews and officials with the select agent program declined to provide additional information. The USDA said in a statement Friday that “all of the information is protected under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.”

Such secrecy is a barrier to improving lab safety ….

Gronvall notes that even with redundant systems in high-security labs, there have been lab incidents resulting in the spread of disease to people and animals outside the labs.

She said a lab accident is considered by many scientists to be the most likely source of the re-emergence in 1977 of an H1N1 flu strain that had disappeared in 1957 because the genetic makeup of the strain hadn’t changed as it should have over those decades. A 2009 article in the New England Journal of Medicine noted the 1977 strain was so similar to the one that disappeared that it suggests it had been “preserved” and that the re-emergence was “probably an accidental release from a laboratory source.”

***

In 2012, CDC staff published an article in the journal Applied Biosafety on select agent theft, loss and releases from 2004 through 2010, documenting 727 reported incidents, 11 lab-acquired infections and one loss of a specimen in transit among more than 3,400 approved shipments.

The article noted that the number of reports received by CDC likely underestimates the true number of suspected losses and releases.

Indeed, there have been many accidents involving germ research. For example, the New York Times noted in 2005:

In 2002, the discovery of lethal anthrax outside a high-security laboratory at the military’s premier biodefense laboratory, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Maryland, led to sampling throughout the institute.

And the Los Angeles Times reported in 1988:

The Senate report noted that accidents have occurred in the handling of potentially deadly biological material. Vials of biological warfare agents have been misplaced or spilled, it said, employees have been exposed to deadly toxins and a fire once broke out in the high-containment laboratory of the Army’s leading germ warfare facility at Ft. Detrick, Md.

Researchers are creating some very dangerous bugs. The Frederick News Post – an excellent local newspaper for the community surrounding the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick – reported in 2010 that the facility would eventually aerosolize Ebola:

Ludwig said researchers at the facility will likely start out working on vaccines for filoviruses such as Ebola and Marburg, as well as new anthrax vaccines.

***

The facility will have the capability to produce viruses in aerosolized form that would simulate a potential biological attack on the test animals. Ludwig said aerosol is the means of exposure researchers are most concerned with given its implications to battlefield and homeland defense.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist has re-created the 1918 Spanish flu in the lab. The Guardian noted in June:

In an article published last month, [Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health] argued that experiments like Kawaoka’s could unleash a catastrophic pandemic if a virus escaped or was intentionally released from a high-security laboratory.

***

Many of the groups that create dangerous viruses to understand their workings are funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Lord May [the former president of the Royal Society and one time chief science adviser to the UK government] said he suspected the NIH supported the work because officials there were “incompetent” and believed the justifications that scientists told them. “This is work that shouldn’t be done. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

***

The study identifies particular mutations that made the virus spread so easily. But that is not much use for surveillance, said Lipsitch, because there are scores of other mutations that could have the same effect.

***

Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said he feared that governments and funding bodies would only take the risks seriously once an accident had happened. “It’s madness, folly. It shows profound lack of respect for the collective decision-making process we’ve always shown in fighting infections. If society, the intelligent layperson, understood what was going on, they would say ‘What the F are you doing?‘”

Obama Now Claims that He’s Shutting Down Domestic Germ Program

The New York Times reported last week that President Obama is so concerned about these accidental releases that he’s clamping down on germ research:

Prompted by controversy over dangerous research and recent laboratory accidents, the White House announced Friday that it would temporarily halt all new funding for experiments that seek to study certain infectious agents by making them more dangerous.

It also encouraged scientists involved in such research on the influenza, SARS and MERS viruses to voluntarily pause their work while its risks were reassessed.

***

The announcement, which was made by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services, did not say how long the moratorium would last. It said a “deliberative process to assess the potential risks and benefits” would begin this month and stretch at least into next year.

The move appeared to be a sudden change of heart by the Obama administration, which last month issued regulations calling for more stringent federal oversight of such research and requiring scientists and universities to disclose that their work might be risky, rather than expecting federal agencies to notice.

***

The moratorium is only on research on influenza virus and the coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS.

***

The debate over the wisdom of “gain of function” research erupted in 2011 when the labs of Ron Fouchier of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, separately announced that they had succeeded in making the lethal H5N1 avian flu easily transmissible between ferrets, which are a model for human susceptibility to flu.

The debate heated up further this year when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted it had suffered laboratory accidents that exposed dozens of workers to anthrax and shipped deadly avian flu virus to another federal lab that had asked for a more benign flu strain.

***

The White House said the moratorium decision had been made “following recent biosafety incidents at federal research facilities.”

***

Many scientists were furious that such work had been permitted and even supported with American tax dollars. But others argued that it was necessary to learn which genetic mutations make viruses more dangerous. If those mutations began appearing naturally as the viruses circulated in animals and people, warnings could be issued and vaccines designed, they said.

***

Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist and bioweapons expert at Rutgers University, argued that the long history of accidental releases of infectious agents from research labs made such work extremely risky and unwise to perform in the first place.

Germs Abroad

The U.S. conducts germ research worldwide.  As the Los Angeles Times pointed out in the 1988 article:

The Army conducts or contracts for germ warfare work at 120 sites worldwide ….

The National Journal’s Global Security Newswire reported in 2011 that such sites include bioweapon germs such as Anthrax and Ebola in Africa:

The Obama administration has requested $260 million in fiscal 2012 funding to bolster protective measures at African research sites that house lethal disease agents, the Examiner reported on Sunday (see GSN, April 14).

The Defense Department funding would be used to safeguard against extremist infiltration facilities in Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere that hold potential biological-weapon agents such as anthrax, Ebola and Rift Valley fever.

The heads of germ research for the Russian and South African governments both say that they intentionally created more lethal forms of deadly germs such as Ebola.

Specifically, the former head of Russia’s biological weapons program told PBS:

In the 70s and beginning of 80s the Soviet Union started developing new biological weapons–Marburg infection biological weapon, Ebola infection biological weapon, Machupo infection, [or] Bolivian hemorrhagic biological weapon, and some others.

The head of South Africa’s Apartheid-era biological weapons program also worked on weaponizing Ebola. The New Yorker noted in 2011:

Dr. Wouter Basson, and the various apartheid-era clandestine weapons programs he oversaw as leader of Project Coast…

South Africans call him Dr. Death. He is regularly compared by the local press, never very persuasively, to Josef Mengele. . .

***

There were revelations of research into a race-specific bacterial weapon; a project to find ways to sterilize the country’s black population ….

***

Basson’s scientists were working with anthrax, cholera, salmonella, botulinum, thallium, E. coli, ricin, organophosphates, necrotizing fasciitis, hepatitis A, and H.I.V., as well as nerve gases (Sarin, VX) and the Ebola, Marburg, and Rift Valley hemorrhagic-fever viruses. They were producing crude toxins (and some strange delivery systems) for use by the military and police, and they were genetically engineering extremely dangerous new organisms—creating, that is, biological weapons.

And see this.

Dr. Basson alleges that the UK and U.S. helped South Africa with its biowarfare research:

The U.S. has – in the past – intentionally deployed germ warfare abroad. For example, the Senate’s Church Committee found that the CIA decided to bump off the heads of Congo and Cuba using lethal germs.  And the United States sold anthrax to Saddam Hussein in 1985, for the express purpose of using it against Iran. (CIA files also prove that the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against Iran.)

Top Bioweapons Expert Speaks Out on Ebola

Washington’s Blog spoke with one of America’s leading experts on the dangers of research into deadly germs, Dr. Francis Boyle.

Dr. Boyle wrote the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the American implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

Dr. Boyle served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International (1988-1992), and is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: You said recently that laboratories in West Africa run by the Centers for Disease Control and Tulane University are doing bioweapons research.  What documentary evidence do you have of that?

You mentioned that a map produced by the CDC shows where the laboratories are located on the West Coast of Africa?

DR. FRANCIS BOYLE:  Yes. They’ve got one in Monrovia [the capital of Ebola-stricken Liberia] … one in Kenema, Sierra Leone [the third largest city in the Ebola-hotzone nation], which was shut down this summer because the government there believed that it was the Tulane vaccines which had set this whole thing off.

And then they have another one in Guinea, where the first case [of Ebola] was reported.

All of these are labs which do this offensive/defensive biowarfare work.

And Fort Detrick’s USAMRIID [the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases] has also been over there. So it’s clear what’s been going on there.

CDC has a long history of doing biowarfare work. I have them doing biowarfare work for the Pentagon in Sierra Leone as early 1988.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG:   And how do you know that? Have you seen official documents?

DR. FRANCIS BOYLE:  An official government document: the Biological Defense Research Program, May 1988.  I analyzed it in my book, Biowarfare and Terrorism.

It’s clear that [the U.S. bioweapons researchers] were using Liberia to try to circumvent the Biological Weapons Convention.  And CDC – for years – has been up to its eyeballs in biowarfare work.

They always try to justify the development of offensive biological weapons by claiming it’s being done for “defensive” purposes.  That’s just a lie … and it’s always been a lie.

It’s been the case on Ebola and just about every other biowarfare agent you can think of.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG:  Does that type of research violate the Biological Weapons Convention?

DR. FRANCIS BOYLE: Well, of course! It also violates the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act [which Boyle drafted], which was passed unanimously by both houses of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Bush, Senior.

That Act creates life in prison for this type of “Dr. Menegle” type work.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG:  And Obama recently said – as quoted in the New York Times article – that he’s “curtailing” this type of defensive research, or putting it on hold.

Do you believe him?

DR. FRANCIS BOYLE:  That’s the smoking gun, right there. Read that article [the New York Times article quoted above, which notes "a sudden change of heart by the Obama administration" about labs creating ever-deadlier versions of germs which are already lethal]. 

The reason they’ve stopped it is to cover themselves, I think, because they know that this type of work was behind the outbreak of the [Ebola] pandemic in West Africa.

But that’s an admission right there, de facto.

_ _ _

Dr. Boyle made it clear that he is not suggesting – as some others are – that Ebola was intentionally released into the African population. He says he has seen no evidence of intentional release.  He’s speaking about an accidental release of germs from a biowarfare research lab.

He’s convinced, in fact, that this Ebola epidemic in Africa started with the release from a U.S. bioweapons lab in West Africa.   One of the reasons for his conviction that the outbreak started with the release from a bioweapon lab is that this Ebola strain seems to be much worse than those previously seen in the wild.

As Dr. Boyle told us:

It seems to me that [the Ebola epidemic in West Africa] has U.S. biowarfare programs written all over it.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 14 Comments

List of the World’s Richest Countries; America’s Special Role in It

Eric Zuesse

The world’s richest countries are the ones where the median wealth per person is the highest. This system ranks nations truly according to the most-representative person in each given nation — the person who is in the exact middle of that nation’s population in terms of per-person wealth. Consequently, for example, if a Bill Gates or other billionaire relocates into a certain country, no matter how small its population is, this won’t change that country’s ranking, whereas it could raise the country’s ranking if the ranking-system were according to the mean wealth per person (i.e., dividing everybody’s total wealth by the total population-number). If a billionaire moves into a town where the median person’s wealth is $100,000, then that town’s mean wealth can increase by a huge multiple, but the town’s median wealth would remain unchanged by the addition of that new resident. (Similarly, if the billionaire moved away, the town’s per-person wealth wouldn’t be affected by it.) To rank countries according to mean wealth would enable a country with only relatively few wealthy people to rank very high as a ‘wealthy’ nation, even if the vast majority of people there live in poverty and squalor. Only by using median wealth as the indicator of a country’s wealth can a ranking system produce rankings that reflect the vast majority of people in each of the ranked nations. It’s the only fair international ranking-system for the various nations’ wealth: it shows the wealth of the typical person in each country.

The most authoritative calculation of per-capita wealth within nations has been performed by the team of world-respected specialists on such matters, who produce the annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook. The latest edition was just now published, their Global Wealth Databook 2014. Following is the rank-order of the richest 33 countries, the only nations (other than a few tiny places such as Andora and Monaco, which aren’t even calculated there) that can reasonably be called “First World,” rather than simply “developing” or “outright poor.” This is not to say that such a nation as China, which has a median per-person wealth of only $7,033, or Brazil, with $4,772, or Russia with $2,360, or India with $1,006, might not become major economic powers; but the average person in such nations is extremely poor by current First-World standards; and what will be listed below is that First World, as of today, not ten or twenty years from now.

The rank-order on this list is according to median wealth. Then there is a dot, followed by a second number, which represents the given nation’s ranking in Credit Suisse’s 2013 list. There is considerable change among the rankings from year-to-year, and some of this change results from methodological refinements, but there can also be real wealth-changes occurring, such as when the 2008 crash destroyed the values of people’s houses, more in some countries than others, and of their retirement accounts. Then, in the listing below, comes the nation’s name, followed by the median per-capita wealth there. Then comes a slash (/) followed by the mean per-capita wealth there. The mean per-capita wealth is always higher than the median per-capita wealth, because, even if there were total equality in wealth, the mean would be identical to the median; the mean can never be less than the median; it’s always more than the median.

The higher the ratio is of the mean/median, the more heavily skewed that nation’s wealth-distribution is. The lowest such ratio on this list is Slovenia, $33,395/$21,855, or 1.53. Malta’s is 1.71. Belgium’s is 1.75. Italy’s is 1.84. Luxembourg’s is 1.98. Spain’s is 1.99. All others are above 2. The highest wealth-inequality is found in U.S., 6.60; Denmark, 6.57; and Switzerland, 5.71. However, Denmark is one of the most-equal countries in terms of annual incomes. The U.S. is the only country that is extremely skewed in terms of both wealth and income. What’s shown below relates only  to wealth; not at all to income.

Here is the list:

 

1.8.          Iceland $104,109 / $234,785

2.2.          Luxembourg $93,267 / $184,228

3.7.          Japan $92,236 / $191,877

4.3.          Belgium $84,526 / $147,824

5.6.          UK $76,958 / $162,999

6.5.          Italy $65,140/ $119,773

7.1           Australia $54,426 / $103,151.

8.22.        Taiwan $48,635 / $107,028

9.14.        Netherlands $46,020 / $106,872

10.4.        France $44,998 / $103,619

11.9.        Switzerland $40,697 / $232,548

12.33.      Hong Kong $36,614 / $117,371

13.13.      Canada $35,631 / $108,464

14.12.      Singapore $33,814 / $112,757

15.16.      Ireland $34,651 / $91,334

16.10.      Finland $33,517 / $78,532

17.30.      Israel $32,456 / $92,507

18.17.      Spain $32,443 / $64,521

19.27.      U.S. $31,688 / $209,022

20.28.      Malta $31,611 / $54,120

21.21.      Greece $28,748 / $$57,716

22.11.      Norway $25,650 / $110,805

23.20.      Austria $24,588 / $91,321

24.23.      Sweden $23,246 / $126,304

25.23.      UAE $22,736 / $56,794

26.26.      Slovenia $21,855 / $33,395

27.25.      Germany $21,663 / $89,779

28.30.      Portugal $20,663 / $48,008

29.28.      Kuwait $18,349 / $52,260

30.35.      Bahrain $17,021 / $36,400

31.15.      New Zealand $16,871 / $47,748

32.48.      Chile $16,536 / $46,697

33.19.      Denmark $15,959 / $104,865

 

That’s national wealth, and now it will be related to national power:

If the global power-ranking of countries depends upon each country’s super-rich — the billionaires in it — then the U.S. (with its superabundance of billionaires) will have vastly more power than it has wealth, because it will have a disproportionately large number of the people who are the world’s “movers and shakers,” the people who fund political campaigns, and who hire former and future government (and NGO) employees (“the revolving door”). The U.S. therefore vastly disproportionately dominates the Forbes list of a thousand people with net worths of $1.8 billion or more. In fact, America’s having 1,568 billionaires, or about half of the “movers and shakers” who are eagerly sought out by politicians in every country, gives the United States Government an international clout that is far beyond our nation’s wealth, because this is not only vast wealth, but it is also extremely concentrated wealth.

This helps to explain U.S. President Barack Obama’s phrase referring to our country as “the one indispensable nation.” He was indirectly praising the extreme economic inequality in the United States. (He doesn’t praise it directly, because he is a ‘Democrat.’) As was mentioned, this nation is the most unequal among the wealthy ones; so, he proudly insisted, in his speech, that not only has our country been “the one indispensable nation” for “the century passed [sp.: 'past'],” but that “it will be true for the century to come.” He bragged: “By most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise — who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away — are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.” It sounded much like George W. Bush. This speech at West Point went on to assert: “America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader — and especially your Commander-in-Chief — to be clear about how that awesome power should be used.”

Especially the Central Intelligence Agency has been important in achieving bigger bang for the buck than the military, by secretly (though always violently) overthrowing national heads-of-state in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973, and Ukraine in 2014 — just to mention the CIA’s proudest accomplishments. Our President was saying that not every nail needs the same big and expensive hammer such as the U.S. applied, for example, in Iraq in 2003 — an all-out invasion. He told these graduating cadets: “Class of 2014, you have taken this time to prepare on the quiet banks of the Hudson. You leave this place to carry forward a legacy that no other military in human history can claim. You do so as part of a team that extends beyond your units or even our Armed Forces, for in the course of your service you will work as a team with diplomats and development experts.” Of course, those “diplomats and development experts” work with the CIA, but he didn’t mention the CIA in his speech. After all, it’s a secret agency, and it’s always trying to do things cheaply that the military charges a lot more money and American blood to do. (The CIA might be as costly in foreign blood, but that’s another story entirely. America’s KGB isn’t much more popular abroad than theirs was.)

This is Obama’s vision of how to develop America, when the U.S. Government deals with other nations. NATO relies upon it. If this country weren’t the most inequitable of the wealthy countries, his plan wouldn’t be able to succeed; it wouldn’t be practically feasible. So, Obama is committed to keep things the way they are; he’s a national leader who is determined to project his nation’s past onto its future, “for the century to come.” He has a vision for the country, and it’s focused on the past, which he likes just fine.

Every conservative should admire him. He is a classic conservative, though not in his campaign rhetoric (remember, he was the candidate of ‘change’). However, any intelligent conservative can see that he is actually one of them, despite the liberal phrases. Unfortunately, there aren’t many intelligent conservatives. If they understood what conservatism is, they’d probably get a heart-attack before they’d embrace this man. But conservative leaders always rely upon their followers not understanding what they are doing. So, that too is normal for a gifted conservative leader, such as Obama is. Funneling wealth from the public to the aristocracy isn’t the kind of operation that politicians want to talk about, unless they are progressives who oppose it; but politicians who do that don’t get much support from America’s 1,568 billionaires.

———-

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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What Happens When Cash Is No Longer Trash?

Those who actually create value as opposed to chasing yield with nearly-free money will actually have some traction once the swamp of excess liquidity drains.

When those closest to the money spigots of the Federal Reserve can borrow billions for next to nothing, cash–laboriously saved from years of paychecks–is reduced to trash. What chance does a saver have in a bidding war for a house or other asset against a financier who can borrow essentially unlimited cash?

Answer: none. The saver can leverage his cash at best 4-to-1: a 20% down payment leverages a mortgage of 80% borrowed money. The financier can borrow as much he wants for next to nothing.

The saver will lose every bidding war, thanks to the excess liquidity created by the Fed and other central banks.The reason given for this vast expansion of credit is that if credit is cheap enough, people and businesses will put that nearly-free money to work.

The problem with cheap credit is that it does not flow to productive investments–it flows to safe yields.Launching a new product or service is risky, especially in a stagnant economy, so the safe way to play unlimited credit (i.e. liquidity) is to chase assets that reliably generate returns.

Consider housing as an example. If a saver wants to buy a house to rent out as an investment, he is going to be paying 4.5% or so for the 80% of the money he is borrowing via a mortgage.

The rental income has to exceed his costs–the mortgage, property taxes, maintenance, etc.–by at least 3%. Otherwise he might as well buy a long-term Treasury bond and earn the 3% without the risk of vacancies, unexpected expenses like a new roof, etc.

Since his mortgage costs 4.5%, the yield has to be considerably higher than 5% to make buying the house a good investment. Let’s say the rental has to generate a return of 10% to yield a net return (after paying the mortgage, property taxes, etc.) of 3%.

The financier paying less than 1% for his borrowed money has an entirely different calculus. Since the cost of his borrowed money is so cheap, he can bid the asset price up and still earn a return above 3%. Raising the price of the house quickly raises the costs of owning for the saver, as the interest costs of the bigger mortgage eat away at the yield.

The financier can raise his bid by 25% and the additional interest on the nearly-free money is trivial.

The systemic result of excess liquidity (cheap credit) is bubbles in every asset class that yields a low-risk return. Buying low-yield assets is still profitable if you can borrow money for next to nothing.

Though the timing of the collapse of excess liquidity is unknown, we can safely predict excess liquidity will collapse because all extremes eventually revert to the mean. At some point assets reach such heights that even free money isn’t earning a real (i.e. adjusted for inflation) return.

At that point, participants lose faith in the easy-money policies that have issued cheap credit as the cure-all for stagnation. The excess liquidity is still gushing out of central banks, but even financiers don’t want any more as there’s no way left to earn a return even with nearly-free money.

As correspondent Jay F. observed, the collapse of excess liquidity will be a positive development, as it will restore the equilibrium between cash that is saved and the real returns on assets.

“A worthy subject for your attention and treatment is how the collapse of credit liquidity is actually a very helpful thing for individuals who are real creators of real value– as they now get to compete on a much more level playing field. I see this phenomenon unfolding all around us as overvalued assets and professions go on the chopping block to maintain the status quo. It’s actually a very good thing.”

Well said, Jay. Those who actually create value as opposed to chasing yield with nearly-free money will actually have some traction once the swamp of excess liquidity drains. 

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Prof. Zunes Details, Easily Debunks Near Unanimous, Crude US Gov. Lying in Service of US/Israeli Terrorism

US/Israeli Terrorist Attack against Palestinian Refugee Camp, Gaza

US/Israel Terror-Bomb Densely Populated Palestinian Refugee Camp, Gaza

This report is posted today in Counterpunch.  It is written by Stephen Zunes, “a professor of Politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.”

He explicitly details not only that US government lying (ie propaganda) in favor of US/Israeli terrorism is near unanimous and in opposition to US public opinion, but that the lies are incredibly transparent and cannot withstand the slightest scrutiny…

Terror Tunnels and Other Lies

Gaza and the Bi-Partisan War on Human Rights

by STEPHEN ZUNES

Israel’s seven weeks of attacks this summer on heavily populated civilian neighborhoods in Gaza has led to unprecedented concern among Americans who, while still broadly supportive of Israel, found the attacks to be disproportionate and unnecessary.

Close to 1,500 Palestinian civilians in Gaza were killed in the Israeli attacks—more of 500 of whom were children—and 18,000 homes were destroyed, leaving over 100,000 people homeless. Despite this devastating civilian toll, leading Democrats in Washington have joined Republicans in claiming that Israel’s actions were legitimate acts of self-defense against military targets, dismissing reports by reputable Israeli and international human rights groups saying otherwise.

In July and August, the two houses of Congress passed four resolutions and forwarded a series of letters providing unqualified backing for the massive Israeli air and ground assault, echoing the Israeli government’s justifications for the war and directly contradicting findings by United Nations officials on the ground, as well as investigations by both Israeli and international human rights groups.

What is particularly shocking is not just the vehemence with which the vast majority of congresspersons so enthusiastically supported a military operation condemned by most of the international community, but that they went on record making demonstrably false accusations despite being repeatedly confronted with evidence directly contradicting their claims.

The resolutions and letters seem to assume that while Hamas was guilty of terrorism in the deaths of the five civilians killed by Hamas rockets inside Israel, the Israeli government bore absolutely no responsibility for the deaths of nearly 1,500 Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli ordnance inside the Gaza Strip. Indeed, members of Congress have repeatedly asserted that the Palestinian side was somehow responsible for the deaths of its own people at Israel’s hands.

On July 25, Amnesty International reported that “Israeli forces have carried out attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians, using precision weaponry such as drone-fired missiles, as well as munitions such as artillery, which cannot be precisely targeted, on very densely populated residential areas.” Israeli forces “directly attacked thousands of homes,” including high-rise apartment blocks, killing whole families. Observing that civilians in the Gaza Strip had “nowhere to escape military operations by Israeli forces,” Amnesty provided ample evidence that Israeli forces were engaging in “indiscriminate attacks on urban areas using artillery and bombs.” In a particularly serious breach of international law, Amnesty further reported that “ambulances and medical personnel on their way to collect the wounded appear to have been deliberately targeted on several occasions, and hospitals have been destroyed by shelling from tanks and missiles.”

The congressional reaction to reports like Amnesty International’s was swift.

On July 29, the U.S. House of Representatives, with more than 100 co-sponsors from both parties, passed a resolution by unanimous consent insisting that the Israeli attacks were exclusively “focused on terrorist targets” and that Israel “goes to extraordinary lengths to target only terrorist actors.” Co-sponsors included such prominent Democrats as Alan Grayson (FL), Jared Polis (CO), Eric Swalwell (CA), Richard Neal (MA), Joseph Kennedy (MA), Tulsi Gabbard (HI), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Brad Sherman (CA), Elliot Engel (NY), and Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (FL). Two days later, Senate majority leader Harry Reid introduced a resolution, also pushed through by unanimous consent, claiming that “the Government of Israel has taken significant steps to protect civilians in Gaza” and that “Israel’s attacks have focused on terrorist targets.”

These were just two in a series of similar bipartisan resolutions and public letters that went through Capitol Hill as part of a concerted campaign to discredit human rights groups, journalists, medical workers, UN officials, and any other eyewitness who discredited the Israeli government’s talking points.

Amnesty International certainly wasn’t alone in implicating Israeli forces in war crimes. Human Rights Watch cited evidence of Israel “blatantly violating the laws of war designed to spare civilians,” including by attacking heavily populated neighborhoods, bombing UN-run schools, and shooting at fleeing civilians. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem challenged its government’s claims that it had “no intention of harming civilians,” noting that “after more than three weeks of lethal bombardments by Israel in the Gaza Strip which have killed hundreds of civilians and wiped out dozens of families, this claim has become meaningless.” UN officials also charged Israeli forces with engaging in serious violations of international law following a series of attacks against UN schools where Palestinians were seeking refuge, prompting a bipartisan letter signed by 149 House members to the UN secretary general insisting that “Israel practices the greatest caution trying to prevent civilian casualties.”

These human rights groups and UN officials also strongly denounced Palestinian militants for firing rockets into civilian areas in Israel and for keeping armaments and soldiers in close proximity to civilian areas in Gaza, as well as for their refusal to accept several ceasefire proposals that could have ended the carnage earlier. Congress had no problem with that. By contrast, since Israel is considered an important strategic ally of the United States and a lucrative market for U.S. arms manufacturers, both major political parties made it a priority to lie and cover up for Israel’s war crimes, effectively insisting that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, and the United Nations were simply wrong and that they—from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices in Washington, DC—somehow knew better.

The Human Shields Myth

The Israeli government has repeatedly claimed that the large number of civilians killed by its forces were a result of Hamas using “human shields,” defined under international law as “Utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas, or military forces immune from military operation.”

No eyewitnesses in the Gaza Strip during the war found any evidence of this, however. For example, in late July, New York Times reporters in Gaza noted, “There is no evidence that Hamas and other militants force civilians to stay in areas that are under attack.” Likewise, Jeremy Bowen of the BBC that he saw “no evidence” for “Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields.” According to reporters from The Independent and The Guardian, it was a “myth” that Hamas forced civilians to stay in their neighborhoods during Israeli attacks. Contrary to accusations by members of Congress, the Gazans who failed to heed Israeli warnings to evacuate did so because areas Israel had declared safe were being attacked as well.

Similarly, on July 25, Amnesty International noted that it had no evidence “that Palestinian civilians have been intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to ‘shield’ specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks.” Preliminary investigations by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and other groups—while noting that Hamas had illegally engaged in hostilities in close proximity to populated areas and had stored weaponry in unoccupied homes and schools—found no evidence that Hamas had actually engaged in actions that met the widely accepted legal definition of using human shields.

Again, the response in Congress was swift: In less than a week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pushed through a Senate resolution claiming that “Hamas intentionally uses civilians as human shields” and condemning the United Nations Human Rights Council for not saying so. Similarly, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)—who serves, ironically, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee focusing on human rights—drafted a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, signed by 34 of her colleagues, insisting that “Hamas is using Palestinian men, women, and children as human shields to deter Israeli attacks.” When I contacted them, neither senator’s office was able to provide any evidence backing their claims, nor did they explain how they were able to somehow locate information that journalists, UN officials, and human rights monitors in Gaza were unable to find.

House resolution went one step further, claiming that Hamas had “encouraged Palestinians to gather on the roofs of their homes to act as human shields.” Without any regard for the evidence, the resolution—also adopted by unanimous consent—put the House on record calling on “the international community to recognize and condemn Hamas’ breaches of international law through the use of human shields.” A letter signed by 149 members even insisted, in reference to rockets targeting Israel (and without any supporting evidence), that Hamas “publicly declares it the duty of every Palestinian to put his or her life on the line to protect them.”

Protocol I of the Fourth Geneva Convention makes it clear that even if one party to a conflict is in fact shielding itself behind civilians, such a violation “shall not release the [other] Parties to the conflict from their legal obligations with respect to the civilian population and civilians.” In other words, even if Hamas actually had used civilians as shields, it would still have been a war crime for Israel to kill them. To use a domestic example: if bank robbers were holding tellers and customers hostage while shooting at the police, the police could not get away with killing the hostages along with the criminals. Indeed, the implications of such broad bipartisan support in Congress for such a concept are chilling, given that this rationale could be replicated by law enforcement officials here in the United States—particularly given the militarization of local police forces in the name of fighting terrorism.

There is little question that these broadly supported bipartisan efforts were designed not just to defend Israel’s war on Gaza, but to discredit empirical investigations by human rights organizations overall. For example, one of the House resolutions passed this summer—in addition to making unsubstantiated claims about Hamas—also claimed that “throughout the summer of 2006 conflict between the State of Israel and the terrorist organization Hezbollah, Hezbollah forces utilized human shields in violation of international humanitarian law.”

In reality, empirical investigations during and following the conflict by several reputable investigative bodies found absolutely no evidence supporting this charge. A detailed study by Human Rights Watch published at the end of the fighting in Lebanon found “no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack.” Similarly, Amnesty International, in a well-documented report of its own, observed that “While the presence of Hizbullah’s fighters and short-range weapons within civilian areas is not contested, this in itself is not conclusive evidence of intent to use civilians as ‘human shields’, any more than the presence of Israeli soldiers in a kibbutz is in itself evidence of the same war crime.” In addition, Amnesty reported that while Hezbollah did store weapons and fire from civilian areas, it was only long after most of the civilian population had been evacuated. Subsequent reports for the U.S. Army War College and elsewhere also failed to find any evidence for the charge, which was nonetheless repeated by the House resolution years later.

In apparent anticipation of the U.S. bombing in Syria and Iraq, which would commence soon thereafter, the bipartisan House majority also went on record saying that Islamic State forces “typically use innocent civilians as human shields.” Following the logic from this and other resolutions supporting Israel’s attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza, this appears to have been a preemptive effort to exempt U.S. forces from any moral or legal culpability for the deaths of Syrian and Iraqi civilians caused by the imminent bombing of urban areas in those countries as well.

Attacks on the United Nations

Attacking the United Nations used to be the reserve of right-wing Republicans. Under the current congressional leadership, however, it has become a bipartisan affair, at least when concerns are raised about war crimes by a right-wing ally of the United States.

A particular target of the bipartisan attacks was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who on July 20 condemned Israel’s devastating bombing and shelling of the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza—which resulted in scores of civilian casualties, including journalists and health care workers—as “atrocious.” In response, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) drafted a strongly worded letter, signed by a bipartisan group of colleagues, insisting that the Shijaiyah massacre was a “measured response of a nation-state trying to defend its citizens” and that Israel was actually “undertaking extraordinary efforts to avoid civilian casualties while Hamas cynically uses other Palestinians as human shields.” The letter went on to claim that Ban’s expression of concern about civilian deaths “undercuts the legitimate right of nation-states to defend their citizens.”

Another UN official targeted by Capitol Hill was Navi Pillay, the highly regarded UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who criticized Israeli forces for their “disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life.” Senator Boxer and her allies accused Pillay and the United Nations of having a “clearly political and biased agenda,” despite the fact that Pillay had made similar accusations against Hamas for failing to distinguish between civilian and military targets. During her tenure at the United Nations, Pillay had also roundly condemned war crimes and other human rights abuses by North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and other countries, raising no objections from Congress. According to 35 senators, however, the objections raised by Pillay and other UN officials were not due to evidence that Israel had also committed war crimes, but to the UN’s supposed opposition to “The fact that Israel has effective defenses against the rockets aimed at its citizens.”

Another target of congressional wrath has been the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA), the relief and development agency that provides education, health care, social services, and other assistance for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere in the Middle East. UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl has repeatedly condemned Hamas for a number of illegal activities, including storing weapons in two unoccupied UN schools, and called for an end to the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza aimed at Israel. But when Krahenbuhl also noted that Israeli forces were acting “contrary to international humanitarian law” in attacking UN schools housing refugees, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) co-authored a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State John Kerry calling for an investigation into the allegedly “one-sided statements from UNRWA leadership that unjustly condemn Israel.” The six Israeli attacks on UNRWA schools—which killed 46 civilians, including 10 UN staff members—took place after UNRWA officials notified the Israelis of their exact locations and the absence of any Hamas military equipment or activity.

The primary target of Congress was the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which had been praised by many in Congress only months earlier for its efforts to expose war crimes by the Assad regime in Syria. The UNHRC found itself the target of bipartisan wrath when it voted to establish a commission of inquiry looking into “all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law” in the hostilities in Gaza. The United States was the only one of the UNHRC’s 47 members to vote against establishing the commission.

While unfortunately only mentioning Israel by name in establishing the commission, the language of the resolution condemned “all violence against civilians wherever it occurred,” explicitly including the killing of Israeli civilians as a result of Hamas rocket fire. Commission chair William Schabas, a respected Canadian human rights lawyer, noted that the mandate is “clear that violations of international humanitarian law by all participants in the conflict would be covered.” Similarly, Pillay noted that “resolution S-21/1 of the Human Rights Council mandates the independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” She added that there was “increasing evidence of incidents that may constitute war crimes on both sides.”

In response to the establishment of the commission, nearly 150 members of the House signed a July 25 letter to Pillay protesting the UNHRC’s decision “to unjustly probe alleged war crimes” by a nation simply “defending its citizens from rocket attacks and terror tunnels” while failing to condemn Hamas’ fictitious “continuing use of human shields.” Similarly, the July 31 Senate letter to Ban denounced the UNHRC for investigating possible Israeli war crimes, insisting that Israel has “worked assiduously to minimize civilian casualties” and claiming that the UN had allegedly “turned a blind eye to Hamas’ brazen and depraved use of civilians as human shields.”

The full chambers of both the House and Senate went on record condemning the UN investigation as well, with Democratic leader Reid, on the Senate floor, declaring he was “disgusted” that the UNHRC would adopt a resolution “accusing Israel of human rights violations in the ongoing Gaza conflict,” calling such accusations “anti-Israel.” The desperation with which both political parties in Congress have rushed to block a UN inquiry exemplifies their determination to minimize the availability of data that would expose how their previous resolutions and letters were essentially efforts to hide the truth.

Terror Tunnels and Other Lies

Other mistruths abound.

For example, Senate Resolution 526 justified Israel’s war in part on the alleged necessity “to destroy the matrix of tunnels Hamas uses to smuggle weapons and Hamas fighters into Israel to carry out terrorist attacks.”

However, most reports seem to indicate that while the tunnels—which were primarily used to smuggle civilian goods into the besieged enclave—have at times been used to attack Israeli soldiers, no Israeli civilians have been subjected to attacks through the tunnels. [It is perfectly legal to attack soldiers of an occupying army.] For example, an Israeli magazine’s investigation concluded that in all six Hamas attacks launched through the tunnels, “Hamas’ targets were IDF soldiers, not the communities.” Leading Israeli military correspondent Alon Ben-David explicitly said that “there is no doubt their goal is to hurt and capture soldiers—not civilians.” Similarly, a senior military source told Israel’s Army Radio that “all tunnels were aimed towards military targets and not Gaza-perimeter communities.”

None of the resolution cosponsors I contacted could cite any terrorist attacks carried out from those tunnels, yet none of these senators who supported the resolution have thus far distanced themselves from this claim.

Another misleading statement came in Senate Resolution 498, co-sponsored by 79 out of 100 members of the Senate, which accused Hamas’ secular Fatah rivals of sharing responsibility for attacks on Israel, despite the consensus that the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority desperately wanted to prevent another Gaza war. Working on the absurd assumption that the rival parties in the newly formed Palestinian coalition government were somehow responsible for each other’s actions, the resolution insisted that “the unity governing agreement implies Fatah’s and the Palestinian Authority’s support for Hamas’ belligerent actions against Israel” and called on “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas.”

In reality, the cabinet of the technocratic “unity” government does not have a single Hamas member, and the Palestinian Authority has maintained its commitment to past agreements, including non-belligerence and full recognition of Israel. As the New York Times observed, those “who oppose a two-state solution understand that a unified Palestinian leadership is a prerequisite for any lasting peace” and would thus seek to undermine it. (Ironically, Congress has been willing to spend billions of dollars propping up the disparate coalition government of Iraq, which has included in its ruling coalition members affiliated with the radical Islamist Mahdi Army, notorious for acts of terrorism and attacks on U.S. personnel.)

Additional misleading information has concerned the alleged role of outside actors in supporting the Hamas attacks. For example, one of the House resolutions contains the bizarre claim that the Syrian government was providing “material support and training to Hamas” in its “rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza.” Not only is there no evidence for this charge, but Hamas and the Syrian regime are now bitter rivals; Hamas has not even had a diplomatic office in the Syrian capital of Damascus since 2011. Indeed, the Palestinian Islamist group has denounced the Assad regime and thrown its support to armed rebel groups seeking its overthrow. Hamas is on much friendlier terms with other Middle Eastern governments—such as Turkey and Qatar—that are considered U.S. allies. Again, requests to congressional offices to back up this claim were unanswered.

The Broad Agenda

When it comes to Israel, both parties allow ideology to trump the facts. A majority of both Democrats and Republicans are determined to attack the United Nations and discredit human rights groups if they dare document war crimes by the right-wing Israeli government.

This is nothing new, however. Back in the 1980s, members of Congress (primarily Republicans, but some Democrats as well) also tried to undermine the credibility of the UN and human rights organizations when they provided evidence of war crimes by U.S. allies in the Central America. In recent decades, leaders in both parties have also covered for atrocities committed by allied governments in Indonesia, Turkey, Colombia, Rwanda, and beyond.

What’s different today is that liberal and progressive groups that used to expose “Death Squad Democrats” along with Republicans who defended such governments are now giving unconditional support to Democratic defenders of Israel’s war crimes.

Barbara Boxer, perhaps the most outspoken Democratic supporter of Israel’s actions in the Senate, has been named a “progressive hero” by such groups as MoveOn and Democracy for America. Peace Action has endorsed Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, whom—despite his co-sponsorship of Senate Resolution 498—they label as a “peace leader.” Backers of these and other resolutions covering up for Israeli war crimes—including Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Al Franken (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI)—have been labeled “bold progressives” by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is raising money for their re-election. Meanwhile, MoveOn has endorsed Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and other unconditional supporters of Israel’s actions.

While most Americans are still broadly supportive of Israel, only a minority agree that Hamas was mostly responsible for this summer’s violence. Even in the early weeks of the conflict, when sympathy for Israel was strongest, only 29 percent of Democrats surveyed agreed Hamas was mostly at fault, a demonstration that the vast majority of Democrats in Congress—who have gone on record insisting that Hamas was solely responsible—are at odds with their constituents. This gap is particularly apparent among the core Democratic constituencies, such as liberals, minorities, women, and young people, whose enthusiasm is needed to get the vote out in November. Already, there are signs that the strident support by most congressional Democrats in defense of Israeli war crimes has alienated some of the party’s base—particularly among young people, who tend to trust human rights groups over politicians.

Still, it’s important to note that not everyone in Congress supported these right-wing initiatives. Scores of House and Senate members, particularly progressive Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans, refused to do so. Though four of these resolutions were adopted by a parliamentary procedure known as “unanimous consent,” it does not mean they had unanimous support. While technically anyone present could block it by demanding a roll call vote, such resolutions are often pushed through without advance warning when hardly anyone is on the floor. Indeed, the very fact that the party leadership went to some lengths to avoid virtually any roll call votes on the war may have stemmed from an awareness that a growing number of members from both sides of the aisle are reluctant to go on record supporting war crimes.

The bottom line, though, is that there is currently a large majority of both parties willing to undermine and discredit UN agencies and reputable human rights groups in their investigations of war crimes and suppress the reporting and enforcement of international humanitarian law.

The bipartisan implication that, in the name of fighting terrorism, a government can legitimately engage in the massive bombardment of urban areas where 70 percent of the casualties are civilians goes well beyond Israel and Palestine. Unfortunately, the willingness of supposedly “progressive” activist groups to provide unconditional support for the re-election campaigns of those pushing this kind of agenda shows these politicians that they have little to lose when they do.

Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

This essay was originally published by Foreign Policy in Focus.

Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics.  He also writes professionally for the film industry.  Here is his blog.  Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

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In Uncharted Waters

What I see as extremes that must necessarily end badly, others see as mere extensions of recently successful policies and trends.

A long-time reader recently chastised me for using too many maybe’s in my forecasts. The criticism is valid, as “on the other hand” slips all too easily from qualifying a position to rinsing it of meaning.

That said, given that we’re in uncharted waters, maybe’s become prudent and certainty becomes extremely dangerous. I have long held that the financial policy extremes that are now considered normal are unprecedented in the modern era: extremes in debt, leverage, risk, complexity and willful obfuscation of these extremes.

Consider the extent to which sky-high asset valuations and present-day “prosperity” depend on extremes of leverage: autos purchased with no money down, homes purchased with 3.5% down payments and FHA loans, stocks bought on margin, stock buybacks funded by loans, student loans issued with zero collateral, and so on–an inverted pyramid of “prosperity” resting precariously on a tiny base of actual collateral.

Since we have no guide to the future other than the past, we extrapolate past trends. Human nature hasn’t changed over the short time-frames of civilizations (i.e. the past few thousand years), so in terms of human drives, emotions and responses, the past is an excellent guide to the range of human responses to crisis, euphoria, greed, fear, etc.

But extending trends is a shifting foundation for forecasts, as trends end and reverse, generally without telegraphing the end of an era. Few in 1639 China foresaw the collapse of the status quo Ming Dynasty a mere five years hence.

With the hindsight of history, we can discern the cracks in the Ming Dynasty before its collapse, but once we shift to our own era, things become less certain.

In my view, we’re drifting in uncharted seas.

I have covered the dangers of certainty before: Certainty, Complex Systems, and Unintended Consequences (February 14, 2014)

What I see as extremes that must necessarily end badly, others see as mere extensions of recently successful policies and trends. Let’s review a few of the many extremes that we now accept as ordinary and harmless.

Consider how much new debt is now required to lift GDP (“growth”) off the flat line:

The slightest pause in the expansion of credit nearly collapsed the entire global economy:

Extraordinary central state and bank policies have boosted the wealth of those closest to the Federal Reserve’s money spigot and left everyone else poorer:

It’s not just real income that’s declined–so has household wealth.

Incentives to borrow money to obtain a college degree are declining while student loan debt hits astounding extremes:

Feel free to extend this line of Federally funded student debt: where does it end?

The Federal Reserve has pushed astonishingly extreme policies for six years. Now that the Fed owns significant chunks of the Treasury bond and mortgage bond markets, it’s being forced to limit these easing programs:

All the Fed money-printing and bond buying has sent money velocity in the real economy into a tailspin: this is good, right? No, actually it’s a calamity. Money has slipped into a coma.

Extend the trendlines in these charts, and then ask yourself: where do they end? What will they trigger as they push ever deeper into uncharted waters?


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Pew Finds: Conservatives Get Their News from Fox; Liberals Get Theirs Everywhere

Eric Zuesse

Pew headlined on October 21st, “Political Polarization & Media Habits,” and reported “Striking Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives,” such as that Fox News Channel dominates as the news-source among conservatives, but that no news-source dominates among liberals.

47% of “Consistent Conservatives” cite FNC as their “main source for news about gov’t and politics,” whereas 15% of “Consistent Liberals” cite CNN as theirs — and no news-source is more-frequently cited by them than CNN. NPR ranks second among them, at 13%. MSNBC is third, at 12%. New York Times is fourth, at 10%. Local TV is fifth, at 5%.

By contrast: for “Consistent Conservatives,” Local radio is second, at 11%. Local TV is third, at 5%. Local newspaper is fourth, at 3%. Google news is fifth, at 3%.

Those are the main news-sources for more than 96% of Americans.

Here are the two main tables, showing which news sources each of the 2,901 respondents named:

 

The key question listed 36 news-sources, and doesn’t indicate influence but only that the respondent has “heard of” the named source (it’s like a politician’s name-recognition, versus his actual support):

 

ASK ALL WEB RESPONDENTS:

Q.20 Please click on all of the sources that you have heard of, regardless of whether you use them or 

not. If you are unsure, please DO NOT click it. You can click anywhere in each of the boxes.

Mar 19-Apr 29 2014

Based on web respondents

[N=2,901] [%]

95 CNN 

94 ABC News 

94 NBC News 

93 CBS News 

93 Fox News Cable Channel 

90 USA Today 

89 MSNBC 

88 PBS 

85 New York Times 

82 Wall Street Journal 

80 Yahoo News 

80 Washington Post 

76 BBC 

71 Google News 

66 Rush Limbaugh Show 

66 Huffington Post 

65 The New Yorker 

64 Daily Show

62 Colbert Report

60 Bloomberg

53 NPR

49 Glenn Beck Program

42 Al Jazeera America

36 The Guardian

34 The Economist

34 Drudge Report

32 Politico

31 BuzzFeed

22 Mother Jones

21 Slate

18 The Blaze

15 Breitbart

12 Daily Kos

9 ThinkProgress

 

In addition, there were included a few news-sources that shouldn’t have been. For example, the Ed Show, on MSNBC, was listed, whereas it’s only one show of many on that channel and not even the most-watched. (Among the ones more-watched there are Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell.) But no show on the channel should have been listed, because the channel itself, MSNBC, was one of the listed options. Similarly, the Hannity Show on Fox was listed, though FNC itself was also listed, and though the O’Reilly show on that channel has an even larger audience. Moreover, Mother Jones was listed, but The Nation was not, National Review was not, Harper’s was not, etc.

The list that I have included here from Pew’s does, however, include the Colbert Report, and Daily Show, because the Comedy Channel wasn’t listed; and it includes Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, because they are independently syndicated.

The Pew study just wasn’t well-thought-out. Nonetheless, it’s not a complete waste.

Here is their other key table, indicating actual influence: the respondent’s “main source” of political news:

 

ALL SOURCES MENTIONED 

Mar 19-Apr 29

201411

Based on 

web respondents

[N=2,901] [%]

16 CNN

14 Fox

10 Local TV

5 NPR

4 Local radio

4 Yahoo

4 Google

4 MSNBC

4 Local newspaper

3 NBC

3 ABC

3 New York Times

3 MSN

2 CBS

2 Facebook

2 Huffington Post

2 Local digital

1 BBC

1 Blog

1 Drudge

1 Univision/Telemundo/MundoFox

1 PBS

1 Blaze

1 Reddit

1 HLN

1 Rush Limbaugh

1 USA Today

1 Wall Street Journal

1 Other radio

11 Other

2 Refused

 

This indicates that even the TV networks and major newspapers have little political influence; only CNN, Fox, Local TV, NPR, and Local radio, do. Any political news that isn’t presented on one of those five is inconsequential, reaching too small an audience — unless another news-medium (such as The New York Times) picks the news-report up and it becomes spread so as to reach one or more of these five news-media.

 

Finally, the most-trusted news-sources also differed between liberals and conservatives, except the Wall Street Journal, which was trusted by all ideological groups (but un-influential on political matters because it’s mainly a business paper).

Liberals trusted everything except conservative media: BuzzFeed, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Drudge, Breitbart, FNC, and The Blaze.

Conservatives trusted The Wall Street Journal and those other conservative sources, except BuzzFeed, which was the opposite of The Wall Street Journal: it was distrusted  by all ideological groups.

 

In any case: It seems that these are the only 5 news-sources that have any real political impact:

16 CNN

14 Fox

10 Local TV

5 NPR

4 Local radio

Everything else is just “buzz.”

 

———-

 

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.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

D.C. Is America’s Most Expensive City, Because It’s Where the Pig Trough Is Located

People Will Pay a LOT of Money to Live Near the Money Spigot

We noted in 2011 that Washington, D.C. is like a separate country.  Specifically, the sausage-makers engaging in pork-barrel politics and the lobbyists feeding at the trough are doing great … while the rest of the country stagnates.

No wonder D.C. is the most expensive city in America.

My daughter just came back from D.C., and brought me this souvenir:

Posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News | 3 Comments

Everything Wrong With Liberalism in One Image Found on FaceBook

Here’s a fairly typical image of a sort that constantly clogs up my FaceBook page. I take it to be the full and open expression of someone or some group’s honest outlook. I don’t think they’d identify themselves at the bottom as “Jesus, Republicans & Other Bullshit” if they were self-censoring.

And I certainly appreciate the cursing and the criticism of religion.

Here are my concerns:

“We’ve been at war now for over 12 years.”

No, we haven’t. The U.S. government and the U.S. military have, and it’s been for over two centuries now. This latest installment has been actively opposed by many of us and opposed in many ways in opinion polls by a majority of the U.S. population for years. It’s OK to take responsibility and blame for insufficient resistance, but not to identify with the criminals. If “we” are at war, we want “us” to win or to “redeploy responsibly,” but certainly not to face prosecution or to make restitution — as basic morality requires.

“Experts put the total cost at $4 – $6 trillion dollars.” That’s a sum of direct and indirect costs of war spending. The direct spending on the wars that is included in it is much smaller. It’s certainly right to include the indirect damage. But we should start from the right place. The Pentagon and the media, and everyone who sees or reads the media, separate war costs from routine basic military spending. The latter is spending preparing for wars and provoking wars. It is justified by the existence of the wars. The wars are fought using the weapons and bases not counted as “war spending.” That basic war preparations cost is now over $1 trillion each year. That’s over $10 trillion each decade. Then add some extra hundreds of billions in “war costs.” And then calculate the indirect damages and lost opportunities, which are enormous. The $4 – $6 trillion figure is ridiculously low, subservient to propaganda, and builds in the notion that possessing the sort of massive military that guarantees eternal wars is perfectly acceptable.

“Imagine if we had invested that in our own country and people.” The war on Iraq was not an investment in the people of Iraq. It killed a million, injured millions, made millions into refugees, and absolutely destroyed a society, leaving behind the disaster now being addressed with another war. Yes, of course, we should have invested many trillions of dollars in people’s needs rather than in mass murder. But anyone who’s really tried to figure out how to spend many trillions of dollars would know that it’s almost impossible to do. One will be obliged to let the other 95% of humanity have some of it for sheer lack of ways to spend it in the United States. And anyone who’s given any thought to global suffering would be sickened by the idea of 5% of humanity hoarding such unfathomable wealth, just as many of us are sickened by the military using it to kill — and to kill many more by taking that money away from where it’s needed than the military ever kills using weapons.

Moving away from militarism requires identifing with humanity, not a nation. “We” must begin to mean humanity. Our graphics should not push nationalism, falsify numbers to make militarism seem normal, pretend war is something new to the United States — which was born out of war and for the sake of war. Moving away from militarism requires dumping the Democratic Party along with the Republican, and along with both great mountains of bullshit. In certain of his comments, Jesus was actually closer to where we need to go than FaceBook posters are.

Posted in General | 6 Comments

Public Says No to Silencing Prisoners’ Speech

I would not have guessed that people cared so much and so well about U.S. prisoners. The Governor of Pennsylvania is expected to sign into law a dangerous precedent that we all need to speak out against and put a quick stop to. In the first day since posting the following petition, over 10,000 people have signed it and added quite eloquent reasons why. It can be signed here.

We stand against the passage, in Pennsylvania, of the so-called “Revictimization Relief Act,” which affords virtually unlimited discretion to District Attorneys and the state Attorney General to silence prisoner speech, by claiming that such speech causes victims’ families “mental anguish.” Politicians are claiming a power that if granted to them will be difficult if not impossible for citizens to check.

In seeking to silence the legally protected speech of prisoners, the state also damages citizens’ right and freedom to know — in this case, to better understand an area of U.S. life physically removed from public scrutiny.

This legislation emerged following the failure of the Fraternal Order of Police and its allies to stop prisoner and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from delivering an October 5, 2014, commencement address. This bill sacrifices the rights of all prisoners in Pennsylvania in order to silence Abu-Jamal — an unethical deployment of collective punishment by those in power.

Victim relief is not served by denying fundamental rights to those convicted, especially because prisoner freedom of speech is crucial for redressing wrongful convictions and the current crisis of harsh sentencing that is often disproportionate to alleged crimes. Our society is currently engaged in a full-scale debate on the problems of mass incarceration that could not have developed without prisoners’ voices.

Here’s a PDF of the names and comments of the first 10,000 plus people to sign this. Flipping through the first few pages, these comments jump out at me:

Lawrence       Fine     NY       This is an ill-conceived bill.

Christopher   Scerbo            ME      Democracy is never served by silence.

Robert            Post     NJ        The only proper answer to bad speech is good speech!

Ellen   Kirshbaum     NY       Why does speech frighten these corrupt politicians?  Let all prisoners SPEAK!

Jenefer           Ellingston       DC       Why is our local or national gov’t afraid of Free Speech?

Allan   Carlson           NJ        This is a FASCIST law. It represents that antithesis of the intent of the Founding Fathers who penned the U.S. Constitution.

Jesse   Reyes  NJ        This bill only makes sense if it is known, beyond all shadow of doubt, that the incarcerated person is actually “guilty.”  The Innocence Project and several other high profile cases (“The Central Park Jogger” case) has proven that far too many incarcerated people are not guilty of the crimes they were sent to prison for.  I would not want to deny anyone their rights on that basis alone.  This bill is wrong and should not be signed by anyone who actually cares about our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

Jan      Clausen          NY       This bill threatens to make Pennsylvania a poster child for the unconstitutional curtailment of the free speech rights that are known around the world as one of the great strengths of U.S. system. Pennsylvanians and all U.S. citizens need to wake up and soundly reject this ill-conceived measure that threatens the freedoms of all.

Dallas C.          GalvinNY       Censorship for the state that promotes itself as the site of the U.S. Constitution and home of Benjamin Franklin and William Penn? Deeply troubling behavior.  Rethink, then reject.  Mr. Jamal (let’s be clear about motivation here) has been able to show the corruption and disingenuousness of the D.A., the state senate, and police.  Clean up your own acts, then you need no longer fear free and unfettered speech.

David  Drukaroff       NJ        I have tried to win exoneration for a wrongfully convicted inmate for the last 25 years. People have a right to know how this inmate feels.

Chad   Sell      PA       Does anyone care about the constitution anymore?

Katharine       Rylaarsdam    MD      Public officials are servants of the law, not demigods who should be granted unlimited arbitrary power.

Edward          Costello           CA       This is outrageous.

Julimar           CastroMN      Wrongful and disproportionate convictions exist. To prevent these people from speaking is outrageous. I suspect those proposing this law care more about silencing convicts and preventing them from telling the truth regarding the system, than about the families themselves.

Robert            Belknap          NC       This is theft of rights, pure and simple.

Paul    Palla    PA       Have you heard of the Constitution?  You know, that thing that guarantees everybody FREEDOM OF SPEECH??!?

NancyNorton            NY       I used to visit prisoners in our local jail.  It is too easy to forget these people, members of our community and citizens of our county.  The right of free speech should not be abridged because a person is serving a sentence in prison or jail.  We need to remember these people and not dismiss them as a group we can ignore.

J. R.      Jarvis  WA      I believe in justice, human rights and the constitution – this ain’t it!

ralph   Calabrese       NY       Too many of our freedoms are being taken from us.

Sean    Murphy          FL        These abuses of power must be stopped and we must resist the 1% from using criminals and other hot topics to pass laws that ultimately will affect us all.

Sharyn            Diaz     OR       prisons have replaced the poorhouses in America and now you want to silence the common folk…shame on you…all of you who support just another try at control.

r.          tippens           MA      This is a law straight from Stalin’s text book.  Please…do not embarrass this democracy.

BetseyPiette  PA       Once again Corbett & Co. will waste millions of tax dollars to defend their criminal violation of citizens’ Constitutional Rights but can’t find money for public education?

Dave   JeckerTX       Being a prisoner is bad enough and their punishment is that given to them for their actions.  Words should never be silenced and that is a human right.  We have seen how governments silent individuals and groups and it leads to nothing except rebellion.  Right to speech is everyone’s human right, it is not something you can take away.

Samuel           Perry  NJ        Prisoners are on the front line of our civil liberties battles. The rights that oppressive governments first strip from prisoners are the rights the same regimes will later strip from “non-citizens” and finally “citizens” themselves. Free speech doesn’t come from Government and cannot be taken away by government. Philadelphia should know that.

DonnaFriedman       FL        So many in prison for drug use, mental illness and even falsely accused.  They should have the right to say what goes on there.

Joanne            Snyder            CA       No lessons learned about corrupt Pennsylvania judges who sentence juvenile offenders in exchange for money?  Who is paying for this?

Rev. Jake         Harrison         TX       Freedom of speechdoes not exclude inmates – and some of the most poignant voices in history were those of inmates.

Casey  Lyon    VT       Let us not forget the insightful words of Dostoyevsky: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

JG        Tentler           NY       This dangerous precedent must not be allowed to be established.It’s implications are chilling and are clearly designed to muzzle the free speech of one Political Prisoner,at the expense of every wrongly incarcerated petitioner who is stifled by it.

Carol   Stanton           NC       We must not become a gulag state.

Add your signature.

For more information:
Bring Mumia Home
Free Mumia
Text of the bill

Posted in General | 3 Comments