Why Do Banks Want Our Deposits? Hint: It’s Not to Make Loans

By Ellen Brown.

Many authorities have said it: banks do not lend their deposits. They create the money they lend on their books.

Robert B. Anderson, Treasury Secretary under Eisenhower, said it in 1959:

When a bank makes a loan, it simply adds to the borrower’s deposit account in the bank by the amount of the loan. The money is not taken from anyone else’s deposits; it was not previously paid in to the bank by anyone. It’s new money, created by the bank for the use of the borrower.

The Bank of England said it in the spring of 2014, writing in its quarterly bulletin:

The reality of how money is created today differs from the description found in some economics textbooks: Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits.

. . . Whenever a bank makes a loan, it simultaneously creates a matching deposit in the borrower’s bank account, thereby creating new money.

All of which leaves us to wonder: If banks do not lend their depositors’ money, why are they always scrambling to get it? Banks advertise to attract depositors, and they pay interest on the funds. What good are our deposits to the bank?

The answer is that while banks do not need the deposits to create loans, they do need to balance their books; and attracting customer deposits is usually the cheapest way to do it.

Reckoning with the Fed

Ever since the Federal Reserve Act was passed in 1913, banks have been required to clear their outgoing checks through the Fed or another clearinghouse. Banks keep reserves in reserve accounts at the Fed for this purpose, and they usually hold the minimum required reserve. When the loan of Bank A becomes a check that goes into Bank B, the Federal Reserve debits Bank A’s reserve account and credits Bank B’s. If Bank A’s account goes in the red at the end of the day, the Fed automatically treats this as an overdraft and lends the bank the money. Bank A then must clear the overdraft.

Attracting customer deposits, called “retail deposits,” is a cheap way to do it. But if the bank lacks retail deposits, it can borrow in the money markets, typically the Fed funds market where banks sell their “excess reserves” to other banks. These purchased deposits are called “wholesale deposits.”

Note that excess reserves will always be available somewhere, since the reserves that just left Bank A will have gone into some other bank. The exception is when customers withdraw cash, but that happens only rarely as compared to all the electronic money flying back and forth every day in the banking system.

Borrowing from the Fed funds market is pretty inexpensive – a mere 0.25% interest yearly for overnight loans. But it’s still more expensive than borrowing from the bank’s own depositors.

Squeezing Smaller Banks: Controversy Over Wholesale Deposits

That is one reason banks try to attract depositors, but there is another, more controversial reason. In response to the 2008 credit crisis, the Bank for International Settlements (Basel III), the Dodd-Frank Act, and the Federal Reserve have limited the amount of wholesale deposits banks can borrow.

The theory is that retail deposits are less likely to flee the bank, since they come from the bank’s own loyal customers. But as observed by Warren Mosler (founder of Modern Monetary Theory and the owner of a bank himself), the premise is not only unfounded but is quite harmful as applied to smaller community banks. A ten-year CD (certificate of deposit) bought through a broker (a wholesale deposit) is far more “stable” than money market deposits from local depositors that can leave the next day. The rule not only imposes unnecessary hardship on the smaller banks but has seriously limited their lending. And it is these banks that make most of the loans to small and medium-sized businesses, which create most of the nation’s new jobs. Mosler writes:

The current problem with small banks is that their cost of funds is too high. Currently the true marginal cost of funds for small banks is probably at least 2% over the fed funds rate that large ‘too big to fail’ banks are paying for their funding. This is keeping the minimum lending rates of small banks at least that much higher, which also works to exclude borrowers because of the cost.

The primary reason for the high cost of funds is the requirement for funding to be a percentage of the ‘retail deposits’. This causes all the banks to compete for these types of deposits. While, operationally, loans create deposits and there are always exactly enough deposits to fund all loans, there are some leakages. These leakages include cash in circulation, the fact that some banks, particularly large money center banks, have excess retail deposits, and a few other ‘operating factors.’ This causes small banks to bid up the price of retail deposits in the broker CD markets and raise the cost of funds for all of them, with any bank considered even remotely ‘weak’ paying even higher rates, even though its deposits are fully FDIC insured.

Additionally, small banks are driven to open expensive branches that can add over 1% to a bank’s true marginal cost of funds, to attempt to attract retail deposits. So by driving small banks to compete for a relatively difficult to access source of funding, the regulators have effectively raised their cost of funds.

Mosler’s solution is for the Fed to lend unsecured and in unlimited quantities to all member banks at its target interest rate, and for regulators to drop all requirements that a percentage of bank funding be retail deposits.

The Public Bank Solution

If the Fed won’t act, however, there is another possible solution – one that state and local governments can embark upon themselves. They can open their own publicly-owned banks, on the model of the Bank of North Dakota (BND). These banks would have no shortage of retail deposits, since they would be the depository for the local government’s own revenues. In North Dakota, all of the state’s revenues are deposited in the BND by law. The BND then partners with local community banks, sharing in loans, providing liquidity and capitalization, and buying down interest rates.

Largely as a result, North Dakota now has more banks per capita than any other state. According to a May 2011 report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

Thanks in large part to BND, community banks are much more robust in North Dakota than in other states. . . . While locally owned small and mid-sized banks (under $10 billion in assets) account for only 30 percent of deposits nationally, in North Dakota they have 72 percent of the market. . . .

One of the chief ways BND strengthens these institutions is by participating in loans originated by local banks and credit unions.  This expands the lending capacity of local banks. . . .

BND also provides a secondary market for loans originated by local banks. . . .

Although municipal and county governments can deposit their funds with BND, the bank encourages them to establish accounts with local community banks instead.  BND facilitates this by providing local banks with letters of credit for public funds.  In other states, banks must meet fairly onerous collateral requirements in order to accept public deposits, which can make taking public funds more costly than it’s worth.   But in North Dakota, those collateral requirements are waived by a letter of credit from BND. . . .

Over the last ten years, the amount of lending per capita by small community banks (those under $1 billion in assets) in North Dakota has averaged about $12,000, compared to $9,000 in South Dakota and $3,000 nationally.  The gap is even greater for small business lending.  North Dakota community banks averaged 49 percent more lending for small businesses over the last decade than those in South Dakota and 434 percent more than the national average.

In other states, increased regulatory compliance costs are putting small banks out of business. The number of small banks in the US has shrunk by 9.5% just since the Dodd-Frank Act was passed in 2010, and their share of US banking assets has shrunk by 18.6%. But that is not the case in North Dakota, which has 35 percent more banks per capita than its nearest neighbor South Dakota, and four times as many as the national average. The resilience of North Dakota’s local banks is largely due to their amicable partnership with the innovative state-owned Bank of North Dakota.

____________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

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Bioweapons Expert Reaffirms Belief that Ebola Escaped from a Biowarfare Lab

Does DNA Sequencing Show that Ebola Is Naturally-Occurring?

In response to bioweapons expert’s Dr. Francis Boyle’s conviction that this strain of Ebola escaped from a biowarfare laboratory in West Africa,  Empty Wheel’s Jim White argues that DNA sequencing shows that Ebola is naturally occurring.

Dr. Boyle sent us the following email, responding to White’s critique:

1.The primary problem with this entire Harvard study is this: These results they admit  come out of the  Kenema BSL4 Lab itself which was up to its eyeballs in doing this dirty biowarfare work there  before it was shut down. So they  did this work and then shut down the lab. Dead labs tell no tales.

As I see it, the biowarriors at  BSL4 Kenema are  exonerating themselves by means of this “study.” This is basically an exercise in Cover Your Biowarrior Butts.

2. If  all this transmission  has  been done by bats, then why did the US military set up their first ebola testing center in Liberia  in an abandoned lab filled with bats?

3.   “Ebola is a poor candidate for either biological warfare or terrorism, compared with viruses such as smallpox, which is highly infectious, or the hardy, easily dispersible bacteria that causes anthrax.”

We have been working on ebola for biowarfare purposes since about 1977 and continuously. We have aerosolized ebola at Fort Detrick, a telltale sign of weaponization.  We have also weaponized anthrax too. And the Russians and the Americans are keeping smallpox alive for weaponization purposes as well. The USA has at least two biowarfare weapons that I know of: ebola and anthrax.  And they very well could have more. We have spent $79 billion since 9/11 on developing biowarfare weapons, billions before that, and we continue to spend billions on weaponzing more of them.

[Note from Washington's Blog:  the Army Times reportedin August: "Filoviruses like Ebola have been of interest to the Pentagon since the late 1970s, mainly because Ebola and its fellow viruses have high mortality rates … and its stable nature in aerosol make it attractive as a potential biological weapon."]

4. “This means that these outbreaks arose from different “jumps” from the animal reservoir to the human population. The similarity between samples from the current outbreak confirm that it originated from a single jump, and since that time the disease has spread exclusively from human to human. This is different from previous outbreaks, which had spread via multiple zoonotic events.”

If  there were different “jumps” then we should have seen a pattern of “jumping” ebola outbreaks continuously over time and space from Zaire in 1976 to West Africa in 2013. There is no such pattern. That’s 3500 kilometers and no “jumping” ebola outbreaks.

5. Now to the Science article: “Phylogenetic comparison to all 20 genomes from earlier outbreaks suggests that the 2014 West African virus likely spread from central Africa within the past decade. Rooting the phylogeny using divergence from other ebolavirus genomes is problematic ….”

Once again, if it spread from central Africa within the past decade, we would have seen the “spread” of Ebola outbreaks during the past decade as it made its way to West Africa. We have not. And notice right out at  the outset they admit their basic methodology here is “problematic.” That is precisely correct. The entire study they admit themselves is “problematic.” It sure is “problematic” Basically the  US biowarriors at Kenema are covering their own rear ends. That’s the problematique of this “study”—cover-up

6. “[correcting 21 likely sequencing errors in the latter ...]”

This is absolute utter bull-twaddle right there. Notice they admit that they are “fixing” their results right there. No question about it: Correcting. Yeah, correcting to produce the results that they wanted in order to cover up this entire matter.

They admit right here at the beginning of the study that they fixed the results and that their methodology is “problematic”. The rest is pure and utter bull-twaddle based upon fixed results and a problematic methodology. It would be a waste of my time to continue analyzing an article based upon admittedly fixed results with an admittedly “problematic” methodology.

 

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 3 Comments

Why Gold Is Undervalued – And poised to re-price upwards from here

Gold has been in a bear market for three years. Technical analysts are asking themselves whether they should call an end to this slump on the basis of the “triple-bottom” recently made at $1180/oz, or if they should be wary of a coming downside break beneath that level. The purpose of this article is to look at the drivers of the gold price and explain why today’s market value is badly reflective of gold’s true worth.

First, I think a reminder would be timely. Those who seek to trade gold are at substantial disadvantage:

  • they line themselves up against too-big-to-fail banks which have the implicit backing of the taxpayer to bail them out of their trading positions;
  • furthermore markets have become so manipulated and dangerous that gold should be considered as insurance against systemic risk instead of a punt.

Because the majority of market investors don’t fully grasp these risks, when the current global financial bubbles eventually burst, there will only be a tiny minority who end up possessing gold — by which I mean physical gold held outside the fiat money system.

Technical Analysis & Gold

Using charts has the theoretical advantage of taking the emotion out of trading. So long as there is no significant change in the purchasing power of the currency against which it is traded, prices in the past have relevance to the future, because recent price experience sets an expectation in the human mind. The chart below shows the gold price since the peak in September 2011.

The chart shows a potential triple-bottom pattern formed over fifteen months, at just over $1180/oz. We know that the three bottoms were all at quarter-ends, strongly suggestive of price manipulation to enhance bullion bank profits and their traders’ bonuses. In each case, computer-driven traders had near-record short positions evident in this second chart, of Managed Money shorts on Comex:

This confirms that $1180/oz appears to be the point of maximum bearishness, in which case our triple-bottom pattern should hold.

However, this pattern is rare and should not be the first conclusion we jump to. The definitive work on Dow Theory (Technical Analysis of Stock Trends – Edwards & Magee) describes an unconfirmed triple bottom as “treacherous”. But the characteristics we’re seeing in this current formation, with the third low on low volume and the subsequent rise on improving volume, are encouraging. Confirmation of the pattern according to Edwards & Magee requires the gold price to move above $1375, a level worth noting. Once confirmed, a triple-bottom “almost always produces an advance of distinctly worth-while proportions.”

The danger of course is non-confirmation. One can imagine a price rally to say, $1300, unwinding the shorts, at which point subsequent bears might then mount a successful challenge on $1180.

Additionally, since Edwards& Magee published their work, computers have allowed us to define trends by moving averages, and a commonly accepted indicator is the 200-day MA, which stands at about $1280. If that level is broken and the gold price stays above it long enough to cause the MA to rise, that should trigger computer-driven buying. So any price over $1300 will likely confirm the bullish case, yet it would be a mistake today to be unreservedly bullish on technical grounds alone until this price level is exceeded.

Valuing Gold

None of this reins in the truly subjective nature of tomorrow’s prices. Instead, we should turn to relative valuations to get a sense of whether gold should be bought today or not.

To do this, we need to compare the quantity of gold with the quantity of fiat currency. While we have reasonable estimates of the total amount of above-ground gold stocks over the last few centuries, we really don’t know how much the central banks actually hold, on the basis their figures are for “gold and gold receivables (i.e. leased, loaned or swapped and not in their physical ownership). Equally, the task of assessing the true total amount of the world’s fiat currency and how that has grown over time is too great to be a practical proposition.

Instead, I have devised a simple and practical approach, by comparing the increase in the world’s above-ground gold stocks with a measure of the increase in the quantity of USD fiat currency.

I’ve devised a metric called the “fiat money quantity” (FMQ) which reverses the process by which fiat money was originally created. Our forebears’ gold was taken in by commercial banks, which would issue currency notes and record deposits in gold substitutes (dollars payable in our forebears’ gold). When the Fed was created, the Fed took in the same gold from member banks and issued its notes and recorded reserves against that gold in its balance sheet. So FMQ is the total of cash, accessible deposits in the commercial banks and bank reserves held at the Fed, adjusted by temporary factors that affect those reserves such as Repos and Reverse Repos. More details on how FMQ is calculated can be found here.

The chart below shows how FMQ has grown since 1959. It shows a steady rate of exponential growth prior to the Lehman crisis, after which it has increased alarmingly:

One glance tells us that USD fiat currency is in monetary hyperinflation, which is not reflected in official price inflation statistics (but that’s another story). Our objective is to try to get a feel for whether gold is cheap or dear, and the next chart shows how the gold price has progressed from the month before the Lehman crisis (nominal gold price in red, FMQ-adjusted price in yellow):

The message could not be made more clear: compared with fiat dollars, in real terms gold has fallen in price since the Lehman crisis despite the increase in its nominal price. With gold at $1200 recently, it has actually fallen by 41% in real terms from July 2008.

So to summarize, before the Lehman crisis, investors’ appreciation of systemic risk was relatively low. After the crisis, there were concerns that we faced a deflationary price contraction, so the nominal price of gold dropped (from $918 to $651). When it became clear the Fed would successfully inflate the financial system out of immediate trouble, gold rose to its high-point in September 2011 — but on an FMQ-adjusted basis the high was considerably less, reflecting the sharp increase in the quantity of new fiat money being issued: gold only rose about 20% from July 2008 on this basis. While there was undoubtedly some froth in the gold price at this point that needed correcting, given the circumstances the price level was otherwise reasonable. The subsequent bear market in gold since has taken it to an extreme undervaluation today.

Gold is not alone in having a market value divorced from reality. A bankrupt government such as Greece has had no problem borrowing 10-year money recently at only 6.5%, though this anomaly is beginning to correct. Other insolvent nations, such as Spain and Italy were recently able to borrow 10-year money as low as 2% and 2.2% respectively, though their bond yields have also subsequently risen slightly.

Think about this for a moment: the US dollar is the reserve currency and its government bond yields are the benchmark for global fiat money risk-free return. Governments with a demonstrably (much) worse borrowing record have been able to issue bonds at what amounted to a yield backwardation – significantly lower than the US 10-year Treasury bond. This has never happened before, so far as I’m aware.

Key market valuations are totally screwed up in a world of 0% interest rates and manipulated markets. If gold was alone in its extreme undervaluation, without a counterbalancing overvaluation in fiat-currency bond markets, something would probably be wrong with our analysis. The fact that this is not the case offers confirmation that gold is mis-priced and incorrectly valued in markets that have become divorced from reality.

Defining the Gold Market

It is common knowledge that dealings in paper gold are greater than that in physical bullion. Paper gold includes the following categories:

  • Unallocated gold accounts held with bullion banks.
  • Sight accounts held with central banks on behalf of other central banks.
  • Over-the-counter derivatives and options
  • Forwards on the London market (deferred settlement never intended to settle)
  • Regulated futures markets (Comex, Tocom etc.)
  • Gold ETFs not backed by physical gold.

The total of these markets, for which there is no estimate, is simply enormous (by contrast  GoldMoney estimates above-ground stocks of physical bullion total some 162,500 tonnes today, increasing at about 2,800 tonnes per annum.)

But we can get an idea of the overall interest in paper gold from numbers released by the Bank for International Settlements covering off-market derivatives, plus outstanding Comex interest. This is shown in the next chart:

The last data-point was end-2013, when gold coincidentally sank to $1180 for the second time. A significant portion of these derivatives can be expected to be hedges against bullion-bank liabilities such as unallocated accounts and perhaps positions in regulated futures, so they are a fair reflection of changes in outstanding paper interest. It is clear that over the course of the last thirteen years, in terms of tonnes equivalent, total gold derivatives have declined significantly. Some of this decline has been due to the increase in the gold price so the currency value of these derivatives would not have fallen so much; but from the peak in 2011 from which the gold price has fallen by nearly 40% in USD terms, outstanding paper gold has certainly accelerated gold’s decline.

This tells us that, given that their hedge positions are historically low, bullion banks have reduced their outstanding liabilities to customers with unallocated accounts, which would be consistent with the late stages of a bear market. Ironically, the unwinding of unallocated accounts has been hastened by the withdrawal of bullion from the London market redeployed to satisfy Asian demand, because ultimately physical bullion is the basis for the whole market. It is obvious that if the trend outlook for gold improves, given that the decline in outstanding derivatives has not led to reducing leverage on the physical market, liquidity could rapidly become a serious issue.

Meanwhile, physical gold goes from West to East.

Asian Demand

Physical gold features in the family pension fund for the average Asian. We are all familiar with this being the case for Indians, but it is also true for most other countries on the continent. The reason is simple: no Asian government has been able to suppress the ordinary citizen’s interest in gold as a store of wealth, and generally currency issuance has been badly abused by Asian governments. For example, in Turkey accumulating inflation from the 1980s led to six noughts being lopped of the lira in 2004. In India, since the 1960s the rupee price of gold has gone from INR160 to about INR76,000 per ounce today.

The history of Asian demand goes back to the oil crisis in the 1970s, when the Middle East suddenly became immensely wealthy from the rise in the price of oil. Naturally, they invested a portion of their new-found wealth in gold. The pace of gold acquisition by Arabs slowed in the early 1990s, because a new western-educated Arab generation began to manage the region’s financial resources, and these youngsters were doubtless discouraged by gold’s prolonged bear market. Instead they turned to equity markets and infrastructure investment. Then in 1990 India repealed the Gold Control Act.

This legislation banned Indians from owning gold in bar and coin form, which gave added impetus to smuggling and jewellery manufacturing. Its repeal was part of a process of economic liberation in the wake of a financial crisis which led to market-friendly economic reform. Since then, recorded private sector imports grew from a few hundred tonnes to as much as 1,000 tonnes annually before the Reserve Bank of India reintroduced import controls last year. Predictably the effect has been to restrict officially imported gold and increase smuggling.

Turkey is the gateway to Iran and the Moslem world to the east beyond the Caspian Sea. Gold has been actively used as money by this region since time immemorial. According to the Borsa Istanbul, Turkey has imported 3,060 tonnes of gold since 1995. Some of this has gone to Iran and to the east of Turkey, but equally the rest of the region will have had other sources over the decades. Lastly, South-East Asia is populated with a Chinese diaspora, and since its industrialization in the 1990s this region has also been stockpiling significant quantities of bullion. But the big story is China itself, which we investigate in detail in Part 2 of this report

Summary (Part 1)

When the gold price is being smashed in western capital markets, it’s easy to forget that Asia is quietly buying up not only all or most of its own mine and scrap supply, but significant quantities of the above-ground stocks held in western vaults as well. It’s a process that dates back to the birth of the petro-dollar in the 1970s and has continued ever since. The three big ownership centers are the Middle East, India and China — the latter two having in recent years enjoyed high rates of economic expansion, with increasingly wealthy middle-classes with a high propensity to save.

We cannot know in truth how much of the world’s above-ground stocks of gold are in the hands of these three centers. But they are only part of the Asian story, with Turkey and its sphere of influence plus the whole of South-East Asia, whose people also regard gold as a prime savings medium. All we can say is that it is likely that significantly more than half the world’s gold is in Asian hands. Importantly, over the last ten years the pace of Asian accumulation has increased, draining the west of its physical liquidity. And in this respect perhaps the most important indicator is the decline in outstanding OTC derivatives shown in the last of the charts above.

So not only do we have evidence that the price is based on western paper markets with declining liquidity, but by comparing above-ground stocks with the Fiat Money Quantity of the world’s reserve fiat currency, we can see that gold is extremely undervalued at a time of high, possibly escalating systemic and currency risk.

In Part 2:The Case For Owning Physical Gold Now we delve more deeply into the flows of bullion to Asia which will soon create supply shortages in the West, as well as detail the growing systemic and currency risk factors that few asset besides physical gold can offer protection against.

Click here to access Part 2 of this report (free executive summary; enrollment required for full access)

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Who is Pope Francis I?

We noted yesterday that the Pope has become an ally in the fight against Wall Street corruption, saying that “Corruption is a greater evil than sin“.

But as Michel Chossudovsky reminds us, the Pope himself has a dark background.

bergolio

This article was first published in March 2013 following the election by the Vatican Conclave of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

In the course of the last year, Pope Francis has been portrayed in chorus by the Western media as a left leaning champion of “Liberation Theology” committed to global poverty alleviation. According to London’s Telegraph, Pope Francis “is bringing Liberation Theology into the Vatican”.  in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi, the ‘preferential option for the poor’ has so to speak been reintegrated into the Catholic mainstream under the helm of Pope Francis I.

Liberation Theology according to Ambrose Evans Pritchard writing in the Telegraph: 

“now has a Papal imprimatur. It is close to becoming official doctrine for the world’s 1.2bn Roman Catholics under ‘Evangelii Gaudium’, the Pope’s first apostolic exhortation. This will have consequences.”. (emphasis added)

What the Western media fail to mention is that Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis I) was one of the main supporters –within the Catholic hierarchy– of Argentina’s military dictatorship which came to power in a CIA supported coup in 1976.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio not only supported the dictatorship, he also played a direct and complicit role in the “Dirty War” (la guerra sucia”) in liaison with the military Junta headed by General Jorge Videla, leading to the arrest, imprisonment, torture and disappearance of progressive Catholic priests and laymen who were opposed to Argentina’s military rule. “While the two priests Francisco Jalics y Orlando Yorio, kidnapped by the death squads in May 1976 were released five months later. after having been tortured, six other people associated with their parish kidnapped as part of the same operation were “disappeared” (desaparecidos).”

Liberation Theology has become a convenient tool of media propaganda: the protagonists of oppression are portrayed as liberators. Pope Francis I, heralded as the champion of Liberation in Latin America is now bringing his message to Palestine: According to Naim Ateek, the founder of Liberation Theology in Palestine, quoted in TIME, “We feel he has been able to speak about the poor in Latin America,… Now we would like to see him speak about the oppressed in Palestine.”

At a historic meeting at the Vatican in early May 2014 with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Pope Francis I  urged world leaders to challenge “all forms of injustice” and resist the “economy of exclusion… the throwaway culture, … and the “culture of death,” [which] … sadly risk becoming passively accepted.” (National Catholic Reporter, May 26, 2014.

Careful choice of words by Pope Francis: The “dirty war” in Latin America under Operation Condor in which he participated was predicated on the “Culture of Death”. The 1976 military coup was supported by Wall Street precisely with a view to imposing “the economy of exclusion”, conducive to the impoverishment of the Argentinian population. 

Michel Chossudovsky, May 28, 2013

“Washington’s Pope”? Who is Pope Francis I? Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Argentina’s “Dirty War”

by Michel Chossudovsky

March 13, 2013

[see update on the Secret Memorandum]

The Vatican conclave has elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I

Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio? 

In 1973, he had been appointed “Provincial” of Argentina for the Society of Jesus.

In this capacity, Bergoglio was the highest ranking Jesuit in Argentina during the military dictatorship led by General Jorge Videla (1976-1983).

He later became bishop and archbishop of Buenos Aires. Pope John Paul II elevated him to the title of cardinal in 2001

When the military junta relinquished power in 1983, the duly elected president Raúl Alfonsín set up a Truth Commission pertaining to the crimes underlying the “Dirty War” (La Guerra Sucia).

The military junta had been supported covertly by Washington.

US. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a behind the scenes role in the 1976 military coup.

Kissinger’s top deputy on Latin America, William Rogers, told him two days after the coup that “we’ve got to expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina before too long.” … (National Security Archive, March 23, 2006)

“Operation Condor”

Ironically, a major trial opened up in Buenos Aires on March 5, 2013 a week prior to Cardinal Bergoglio’s investiture as Pontiff. The ongoing trial in Buenos Aires is: “to consider the totality of crimes carried out under Operation Condor, a coordinated campaign by various US-backed Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s to hunt down, torture and murder tens of thousands of opponents of those regimes.”

For further details, see Operation Condor: Trial On Latin American Rendition And Assassination Program By Carlos Osorio and Peter Kornbluh, March 10, 2013

(Photo above: Henry Kissinger and General Jorge Videla (1970s)

The military junta led by General Jorge Videla (left) was responsible for countless assassinations, including priests and nuns who opposed military rule following the CIA sponsored March 24, 1976 coup which overthrew the government of Isabel Peron:

 ”Videla was among the generals convicted of human rights crimes, including “disappearances”, torture, murders and kidnappings. In 1985, Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment at the military prison of Magdalena.”

Wall Street and the Neoliberal Economic Agenda

One of the key appointments of the military junta (on the instructions of Wall Street) was the Minister of Economy, Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, a member of Argentina’s business establishment and a close friend of David Rockefeller.

The neoliberal macro-economic policy package adopted under Martinez de Hoz was a “carbon copy” of that imposed in October 1973 in Chile by the Pinochet dictatorship under advice from the  “Chicago Boys”, following the September 11, 1973 coup d’Etat and the assassination of president Salvador Allende.

Wages were immediately frozen by decree. Real purchasing power collapsed by more than 30 percent in the 3 months following the March 24, 1976 military coup. (Author’s estimates, Cordoba, Argentina, July 1976). The Argentinean population was impoverished.

Under the helm of Minister of Economy Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, central bank monetary policy was largely determined by Wall Street and the IMF. The currency market was manipulated. The Peso was deliberately overvalued leading to an insurmountable external debt. The entire national economy was precipitated into bankruptcy.

(See Image right: From left to right: Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, David Rockefeller and General Jorge Videla)

Wall Street and the Catholic Church Hierarchy

Wall Street was firmly behind the military Junta which waged “The Dirty War” on its behalf. In turn, the Catholic Church hierarchy played a central role in sustaining the legitimacy of the military Junta.

The Order of Jesus –which represented the Conservative yet most influential faction within the Catholic Church, closely associated with Argentina’s economic elites– was firmly behind the military Junta, against so-called “Leftists” in the Peronista movement.

“The Dirty War”: Allegations directed Against Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Condemning the military dictatorship (including its human rights violations) was a taboo within the Catholic Church.  While the upper echelons of the Church were supportive of the military Junta, the grassroots of the Church was firmly opposed to the imposition of military rule.

In 2005, human rights lawyer Myriam Bregman filed a criminal suit against Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, accusing him of conspiring with the military junta in the 1976 kidnapping of two Jesuit priests.

Several years later, the survivors of the “Dirty War” openly accused Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of complicity in the kidnapping of  priests Francisco Jalics y Orlando Yorio as well six members of their parish,  (El Mundo, 8 November 2010)

(Image Left: Jorge Mario Bergoglio and General Jorge Videla)

Bergoglio, who at the time was “Provincial” for the Society of Jesus, had ordered the two “Leftist” Jesuit priests and opponents of military rule  “to leave their pastoral work” (i.e. they were fired) following divisions within the Society of Jesus regarding the role of the Catholic Church and its relations to the military Junta.

While the two priests Francisco Jalics y Orlando Yorio, kidnapped by the death squads in May 1976 were released five months later. after having been tortured, six other people associated with their parish kidnapped as part of the same operation were “disappeared” (desaparecidos). These included four teachers associated with the parish and two of their husbands.

Upon his release, Priest Orlando Yorio “accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over [including six other people] to the death squads … Jalics refused to discuss the complaint after moving into seclusion in a German monastery.” (Associated Press, March 13, 2013, emphasis added),

“During the first trial of leaders of the military junta in 1985, Yorio declared, “I am sure that he himself gave over the list with our names to the Navy.” The two were taken to the notorious Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA) torture center and held for over five months before being drugged and dumped in a town outside the city. (See Bill van Auken, “The Dirty War” Pope, World Socialist Website and Global Research, March 14, 2013

Among those “disappeared” by the death squads were Mónica Candelaria Mignone and María Marta Vázquez Ocampo, respectively daughter of the founder of of the CELS (Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales) Emilio Mignone and daughter of the president of Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Martha Ocampo de Vázquez. (El Periodista Online, March 2013).

María Marta Vásquez, her husband César Lugones (see picture right) and Mónica Candelaria Mignone allegedly “handed over to the death squads” by Jesuit “Provincial” Jorge Mario Bergoglio are among the thousands of “desaparecidos” (disappeared) of Argentina’s “Dirty War”, which was supported covertly by Washington under “Operation Condor”. (See memorialmagro.com.ar)

In the course of the trial initiated in 2005:

“Bergoglio [Pope Francis I] twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court, and when he eventually did testify in 2010, his answers were evasive”: “At least two cases directly involved Bergoglio. One examined the torture of two of his Jesuit priests — Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics — who were kidnapped in 1976 from the slums where they advocated liberation theology. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads… by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work. Jalics refused to discuss it after moving into seclusion in a German monastery.” (Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2005)

The Secret Memorandum

[This section was added on March 19, 2013]

The military government acknowledged in a Secret Memo (see below) that Father Bergoglio had accused the two priests of having established contacts with the guerilleros, and for having disobeyed the orders of the Church hierarchy (Conflictos de obedecencia). It also states that the Jesuit order had demanded the dissolution of  their group and that they had refused to abide by Bergoglio’s instructions.

The document acknowledges that the “arrest” of the two priests, who were taken to the torture and detention center at the Naval School of Mechanics, ESMA, was based on information transmitted by Father Bergoglio to the military authorities. (signed by Mr. Orcoyen)

(see below).

While a former member of  the priests group had joined the insurgency, there was no evidence of the priests having contacts with the guerrilla movement.

“Holy Communion for the Dictators” 

The accusations directed against Bergoglio regarding the two kidnapped Jesuit priests and six members of their parish are but the tip of the iceberg. While Bergoglio was an important figure in the Catholic Church,  he was certainly not alone in supporting the Military Junta.

According to lawyer Myriam Bregman:  “Bergoglio’s own statements proved church officials knew from early on that the junta was torturing and killing its citizens”, and yet publicly endorsed the dictators. “The dictatorship could not have operated this way without this key support,” (Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2005 emphasis added)

(Image right: General Jorge Videla takes communion. Date and name of priest unconfirmed)

The entire Catholic hierarchy was behind the US sponsored military dictatorship.  It is worth recalling that on March 23, 1976, on the eve of the military coup:

Videla and other plotters received the blessing of the Archbishop of Paraná, Adolfo Tortolo, who also served as vicar of the armed forces. The day of the takeover itself, the military leaders had a lengthy meeting with the leaders of the bishop’s conference. As he emerged from that meeting, Archbishop Tortolo stated that although “the church has its own specific mission . . . there are circumstances in which it cannot refrain from participating even when it is a matter of problems related to the specific order of the state.” He urged Argentinians to “cooperate in a positive way” with the new government.” (The Humanist.org, January 2011, emphasis added)

In an interview conducted with El Sur, General Jorge Videla, who is now serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity confirmed that:

He kept the country’s Catholic hierarchy informed about his regime’s policy of “disappearing” political opponents, and that Catholic leaders offered advice on how to “manage” the policy. 

Jorge Videla said he had “many conversations” with Argentina’s primate, Cardinal Raúl Francisco Primatesta, about his regime’s dirty war against left-wing activists. He said there were also conversations with other leading bishops from Argentina’s episcopal conference as well as with the country’s papal nuncio at the time, Pio Laghi.

“They advised us about the manner in which to deal with the situation,” said Videla” (Tom Henningan, Former Argentinian dictator says he told Catholic Church of disappeared Irish Times, July 24, 2012, emphasis added)

It is worth noting that according to a 1976 statement by Archbishop Adolfo Tortolo, the military would always consult with a member of the Catholic hierarchy in the case of the “arrest” of a grassroots member of  the clergy. This statement was made specifically in relation to the two kidnapped Jesuit priests, whose pastoral activities were under the authority of Society of Jesus “provincial” Jorge Mario Bergoglio. (El Periodista Online, March 2013).

In endorsing the military Junta, the Catholic hierarchy was complicit in torture and mass killings, an estimated “22,000 dead and disappeared, from 1976 to  1978  … Thousands of additional victims were killed between 1978 and 1983 when the military was forced from power.” (National Security Archive, March 23, 2006).

The Role of the Vatican

The Vatican under Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II played a central  role in supporting the Argentinian military Junta.

Pio Laghi, the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to Argentina admitted “turning a blind eye” to the torture and massacres.

Laghi had personal ties to members of the ruling military junta including  General Jorge Videla and Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera.

(See image left. Vatican’s Nuncio Pio Laghi and General Jorge Videla)

Admiral Emilio Massera in close liaison with his US handlers, was the mastermind of “La Guerra Sucia” (The Dirty War). Under the auspices of the military regime, he established:

“an interrogation and torture centre in the Naval School of Mechanics, ESMA [close to Buenos Aires], … It was a sophisticated, multi-purpose establishment, vital in the military plan to assassinate an estimated 30,000 “enemies of the state”. …  Many thousands of ESMA’s inmates, including, for instance, two French nuns, were routinely tortured mercilessly before being killed or dropped from aircraft into the River Plata.

Massera, the most forceful member of the triumvirate, did his best to maintain his links with Washington. He assisted in the development of Plan Cóndor, a collaborative scheme to co-ordinate the terrorism being practised by South American military régimes. (Hugh O’Shaughnessy, Admiral Emilio Massera: Naval officer who took part in the 1976 coup in Argentina and was later jailed for his part in the junta’s crimes, The Independent, November 10, 2010, emphasis added)

Reports confirm that the Vatican’s representative Pio Laghi and Admiral Emilio Massera were friends.

(right: Admiral Emilio Massera, architect of “The Dirty War” received by Pope Paul VI at the Vatican)

The Catholic Church: Chile versus Argentina

It is worth noting that  in the wake of the military coup in Chile on September 11,1973, the Cardinal of Santiago de Chile, Raul Silva Henriquez openly condemned the military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet. In marked contrast to Argentina, this stance of the Catholic hierarchy in Chile was instrumental in curbing the tide of political assassinations and human rights violations directed against supporters of Salvador Allende  and opponents of the military regime.

The man behind the interfaith Comité Pro-Paz was Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez. Shortly after the coup, Silva, … stepped into the role of “upstander,”a term the author and activist Samantha Power coined to distinguish people who stand up to injustice—often at great personal risk—from “bystanders.”

… Soon after the coup, Silva and other church leaders published a declaration condemning and expressing sorrow for the bloodshed. This was a fundamental turning point for many members of the Chilean clergy… The cardinal visited the National Stadium and, shocked by the scale of the government crackdown, instructed his aides to begin collecting information from the thousands flocking to the church for refuge.

Silva’s actions led to an open conflict with Pinochet, who did not hesitate to threaten the church and the Comité  Pro-Paz. (Taking a Stand Against Pinochet: The Catholic Church and the Disappeared pdf)

Had the Catholic hierarchy in Argentina  and Jorge Mario Bergoglio taken a similar stance to that of Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez, thousands of lives would have been saved.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was not, in the words of Samantha Powers, a “bystander”. He was complicit in extensive crimes against humanity.

Neither is Pope Francis “a Man of the People” committed to “helping the poor” in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi, as portrayed in chorus by the Western media mantra. Quite the opposite: his endeavors under the military Junta, consistently targeted progressive members of the Catholic clergy as well as committed human rights activists involved in grassroots anti-poverty programs.

In supporting Argentina’s “Dirty War”, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has blatantly violated the very tenets of Christian morality which cherish  the value of human life.  Author’s message to Pope Francis: “Thou shalt not kill”

“Operation Condor” and the Catholic Church

The election of Cardinal Bergoglio by the Vatican conclave to serve as Pope Francis I will have immediate repercussions regarding the ongoing “Operation Condor” Trial in Buenos Aires.

The Church was involved in supporting the military Junta.  This is something which will emerge in the course of the trial proceedings.  No doubt, there will be attempts to obfuscate the role of the Catholic hierarchy and the newly appointed Pope Francis I,  who served as head of Argentina’s Jesuit order during the military dictatorship.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio:  “Washington’s Pope in the Vatican”? 

The election of Pope Francis I has broad geopolitical implications for the entire Latin American  region.

In the 1970s, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was supportive of a US sponsored military dictatorship.

The Catholic hierarchy in Argentina supported the military government. The Junta’s program of torture, assassinations and ‘disappearances” of thousands of political opponents was coordinated and supported by Washington under the CIA’s “Operation Condor”.

Wall Street’s interests were sustained through Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz’ office at the Ministry of Economy.

The Catholic Church in Latin America is politically influential. It also has a grip on public opinion. This is known and understood by the architects of US foreign policy as well as US intelligence.

In Latin America, where a number of governments are now challenging US hegemony, one would expect –given Bergoglio’s track record–  that the new Pontiff Francis I as leader of the Catholic Church, will play de facto, a discrete “undercover” political role on behalf of Washington.

With Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis I  in the Vatican –who faithfully served US interests in the heyday of General Jorge Videla and Admiral Emilio Massera–  the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Latin America can once again be effectively manipulated to undermine “progressive” (Leftist) governments, not only in Argentina (in relation to the government of Cristina Kirschner) but throughout the entire region, including Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.

The instatement of  “a pro-US pope” occurred a week following the death of  president Hugo Chavez.

“Regime Change” at the Vatican

The US State Department routinely pressures members of the United Security Council with a view to influencing the vote pertaining to Security Council resolutions.

US covert operations and propaganda campaigns are routinely applied with a view to influencing national elections in different countries around the World.

Similarly, the CIA has a longstanding covert relationship with the Vatican.

Did the US government attempt to influence the outcome of the election of the new pontiff?

Firmly committed to serving US foreign policy interests in Latin America, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was Washington’s preferred candidate.

Were undercover pressures discretely exerted by Washington, within the Catholic Church, directly or indirectly, on the 115 cardinals who are members of the Vatican conclave?

Who is Pope Francis I, Interview of Michel Chossudovsky with Bonnie Faulkner, Guns and Butter, KPFA Pacifica

Global Research TV (GRTV) Interview with Michel Chossudovsky

Author’s Note

From the outset of the military regime in 1976, I was Visiting Professor at the Social Policy Institute of the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina. My major research focus at the time was to investigate the social impacts of the deadly macroeconomic reforms adopted by the military Junta. 

I was teaching at the University of Cordoba during the initial wave of assassinations which also targeted progressive grassroots members of the Catholic clergy.

The Northern industrial city of Cordoba was the center of the resistance movement. I witnessed how the Catholic hierarchy actively and routinely supported the military junta, creating an atmosphere of  intimidation and fear throughout the country. The general feeling at the time was that Argentinians had been betrayed by the upper echelons of the Catholic Church.

Three years earlier, at the time of Chile’s September 11, 1973 military coup, leading to the overthrow of the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende,  I was Visiting Professor at the Institute of Economics, Catholic University of Chile, Santiago de Chile.

In the immediate wake of the coup in Chile,  I witnessed how the Cardinal of Santiago, Raul Silva Henriquez –acting on behalf of the Catholic Church– confronted the military dictatorship.

Posted in Politics / World News | 10 Comments

Obama Calls for Pause In Offensive Bioweapons Research

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.

Indeed, the Army Times reported in August:

Filoviruses like Ebola have been of interest to the Pentagon since the late 1970s, mainly because Ebola and its fellow viruses have high mortality rates … and its stable nature in aerosol make it attractive as a potential biological weapon.

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.)

Time to Stop All Offensive Germ Research

Given the history of offensive biowarfare research by Russia, South Africa and the U.S. – and the enormous potential for accidents – it’s time to stop all such research.

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

Ukriane’s Civil War Is Restarting: a Good Site for Following It

Ukrainian Government is said to have air-dropped leaflets: “leave or die.”

Introductory note by Eric Zuesse: Below is from a recent day’s report by the Belarusian (or “Byelorussian”) management-consulting firm Geopolitics, a site which often posts the most-penetrating daily reports and analyses of the Ukrainian civil war, with a dozen or more articles written by various Belarusian academics. One of these news reports, shown below, is provocatively headlined “War will begin on Monday; another is titled, “Kiev is preparing to capture Donetsk, and it will be the biggest defeat for Russia since 1991”; yet a third is “Donbass pending decisive assault”. So, some of these articles focus on the historical importance of the events.

Their site, geopolitics.by, should be frequently referenced and quoted by journalists, but (for some reason) it isn’t. Perhaps journalists aren’t encouraged to focus on what’s important, or historically significant.

I am posting here English-language auto-translations of those three plus of two more, all by google’s auto-translation system, from the original Russian. The remaining two are “Blitzkrieg for Novorossia,” and “Levada Center: Social protest in Ukraine catalyzes around the image of the enemy – Russia.”

I have tried to improve the auto-translations of these stories a bit, so as to make them more-readily understandable (since auto-translations tend to make for slow reading).

I shall start by showing the complete page’s table of contents, with titles for the more-than-two-dozen articles there, so that you’ll see, from that list of titles, the diversity and importance of the topics. All of the articles are presented in full at the linked web-page.

The term “ATO” that’s employed by the Ukrainian Government and that’s seen in some of these articles, refers to the Ukrainian Government’s “Anti-Terrorist Operation” to kill everyone who lives in the two adjoining areas of Ukraine that had voted 90% or more for the man whom Obama’s Ukrainian coup overthrew on 22 February of this year, and who was replaced by this new Government, whose “ATO” aims to get rid of those voters, so as to consolidate their regime by democratic elections in which the survivors will consist predominantly of their supporters. Those two regions are called “Donbass,” and are comprised of “LC” or the Lugansk area, or Luhansk; and of “DPR” or else “DNI” or Donetsk area, or Donetsk city and its environs.

On October 24th, an American engineer who works in Donbass, and who has reported extensively on this war, George Eliason, sent this email to me and a number of his other journalist friends:

The war is going to be in high gear in a few days here. I spent a few days embedded with the Novo Russia military and met with most of the leaders here. Their intel is that Poroshenko is going to attack hard. Ukraine has massed tanks along the south border and at Debalsova and outside Lugansk.

Poland gave Ukraine aircraft to bomb the cities and leaflets are being dropped in Ukrainian controlled cities that read: leave or die.

Things are going to happen quickly here soon – possibly over the weekend.

Please forward this to everyone writing on this. From the top down they are worried poroshenko is going to light the whole region on fire.

 

Here is the link to the page:

http://geopolitics.by/products/ukraina-protivostoyanie-daydzhest-po-sostoyaniyu-na-23102014

 

Ukraine. Confrontation: digest (as of 23/10/2014)

23/10/2014

Compiled -B.Tsypulyavsky

Table of Contents:

• For the Crimea, for gas and for the Donbass

• Lustration for the godfather and matchmaker

• In war, there are no angels

• Ukraine: 10 years of happiness to be seen

• A.Vasserman: “In the European trough Ukraine would have been just as food”

• In the armistice put “point”?

• Poroshenko discussed with Putin gas negotiations and complete cease-fire in the Donbass

• Blitzkrieg for Novorossia   

• Viktor Yanukovych will be tried in absentia

• Is it possible to get the regions of Galicia in the EU without the rest of Europe: the views of politicians

• Administration Poroshenko: Ukraine ready for “full-scale” war, but does not want it

• Poroshenko sacked his adviser on constitutional reform

• Administration Poroshenko: Elections in the DNI and LC – a “road to nowhere” that complicates the situation

• Moskal: Holding elections in some places Lugansk region is dangerous to life

• For political reasons

• Poroshenko signed a law court in absentia for crimes against the national security of the individual

• UN alarmed by reports of the use of prohibited weapons in the Donbass

• Unnatural Selection

• Donbass pending decisive assault

• Fighting reached a “point”

• Head of Luhansk region: power 129 settlements “fled the militia”

• The United States did not confirm the use of Ukrainian military cluster bombs

• Levada Center: Social protest in Ukraine catalyzes around the image of the enemy – Russia 

• Media: Ukraine demanded Russia to ban use of the communication network in the Crimea

• War will begin on Monday

• Kiev Donetsk is preparing to capture, and it will be the biggest defeat for Russia since 1991

• Poroshenko voter lists have more than 10 thousand combatants

• Tymoshenko urged to call a referendum on Ukraine’s accession to NATO

• “To the man management we come gradually”

• Purgin of a possible attack on the APU Donetsk: The situation is really “escalated to the limit”

• OSCE: a truce in Ukraine violated mainly security forces

• Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has received 260 reports of violations of the rights of voters

• Belarusian MPs will observe the elections to the parliament

• Shooters predicted attack Ukrainian troops in Donetsk and Makeyevka

 

Blitzkrieg for Novorossia

War Party in Kiev hopes to capture Donetsk 2-3 days

21 October 2014 20:02, Alex Verhoyantsev

According to an insider information agency, published Oct. 21, Ukrainian generals have plans for a sudden powerful blow to Donetsk from three sides.

The start of another “blitzkrieg” is planned immediately after the elections to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine VIII convocation that occur on October 26th.

Already formed is a three-armored fist aimed at Donetsk. Two of them are Avdiyivka-Sands, and Debalcevo. The impact will be inflicted only in Donetsk. The purpose of Kiev is to capture a significant portion of Donetsk with a swift blow coming in from three directions. This way, Russia will not have time to respond and help New Russia. Such impact will dissipate a lot of Novorossia’s armor and eliminate disparate militias within 2-3 days.

According to analyst Dmitry Dzygovbrodskogo, without the existence of Donetsk, Novorossia would be impossible.

Later, on October 21 in the network there was a message from the political scientist Anatoly Nesmiyan known as El Murid. He writes:

“A column of the Armed Forces of Ukraine moved through the village of Marinka Kurakhovo toward the direction of Donetsk, the Capital of the Donetsk People’s Republic. There are an endless stream of tanks, moving under conditions of minimal lighting, so as to make difficult determining the composition of the column. It is known, however, that a part of the convoy consists of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and trucks with infantry and ammunition.”

According to him, the renewed attack by security forces of Kiev who are surrounded at Donetsk airport is just a red herring to distract militias — and the most combat-ready units. Toward the same goal is that Government’s stuffing Ukrainian media with misinformation saying that the Prime Minister of the Donetsk Novorossian Republic Alexander Zaharchenko is violating the ceasefire.

More recently, experts said that the Ukrainian army is on the verge of defeat. The fact is that the combat effectiveness and morale in it are extremely low.

And now again we hear that an offensive is being prepared for a three-day blitzkrieg that might call into question the very existence of New Russia. How likely is such a scenario?

- Such a scenario is not excluded. The editor in chief of “National Defense” Igor Korochenko says that the War Party in Kiev has a strong position. He says that the objective will be to distract Ukrianians from the pressing problems associated with the winter period, if the Kiev government can suddenly launch an attack and crush Novorossia by their armored columns.

“SP”: – After the August offensive our militias said that technically speaking, the Ukrainian army had suffered heavy losses

This loss is now recharged. Supplies have gone to Ukraine from those countries that had been in the Soviet bloc, where there still remained the old Soviet equipment. Besides, Kiev urgently refilled a number of warehouses with heavy weapons.

Defeated army units are now being re-formed. So in general, Ukraine retains certain military capabilities.

“SP”: – Is the plan for taking only 2-3 days to enter Donetsk and hold a large part of it realistic?

- I do not think so. Blitzkrieg is hardly possible. The level of militants’ organization compared with the beginning of the war has increased significantly. Commanders of Novorossia units are in overall control of the situation.

Meanwhile, a new wave of offensive Ukrainian law enforcers will surely lead to new large losses among the civilian population. Kiev did not bother to meet the requirements of the Geneva Conventions. They behave as invaders in the Donbass. They consider the local population as a hostile ethnic group itself.

“SP”: – How do you assess the military potential of the militia of New Russia? Whether it is capable not only to repel the assault, but also to counter-attack to make whole at least the territory of the former Donetsk and Lugansk regions?

- The Army of New Russia is capable of holding those areas that it now controls. But to say that in the current state it could successfully attack on Kiev — that’s naive. They’d need to do a lot more to have a real Novorossia army on a professional basis. Without this, co-existence with Ukraine will be impossible. The future will show what happens next.

- It is clear that at the time of the armistice, both sides wanted to continue the war, says the head of the analytical department of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis Alexander Hramchihin. The Minsk agreements were signed under external pressure from Russia and Europe. [Obama, the U.S., wasn’t even mentioned in this context.] At the same time, both sides believe that victory was stolen from them, and want to continue the war.

Thus, except for Blitzkrieg, Ukraine now cannot arrange anything. If you get involved in protracted battles, on the eve of the winter, it may be a very sad end in Kiev for the current regime.

“SP”: – And yet you have the Ukrainian military forces trying to make blitzkrieg after summer defeats?

- Yes. Ukraine has lost only a few percent of its military equipment, which is surprising. Despite the fact that it is possible to supply military equipment to Ukraine from Eastern Europe. Direct evidence of this resupply is lacking, but there are indirect indications of it.

All summer, the Ukrainian army stupidly pressed mass. Given the limitations of militia forces for such a war in Kiev and more resources for the year will suffice. Superiority in manpower and technology is still behind Kiev.

“SP”: – If the Ukrainian offensive begins, how successfully will it develop?

- This will largely depend on Russia. Our government does not want this war resumed with renewed vigor. And it doesn’t want to get involved in the fighting. But for Russia to allow defeat of the militias has also become impossible.

In July and August it is Russia that prevented the final defeat of the militias. They are not enough people who can master military equipment. Not to mention the fact that their formation is still a lot of mess. However, in the Ukrainian army, it’s even more the case.

“SP”: – Will the chances Novorossia survive if Donetsk is captured?

- Reduction of the territory for militias would in any case be disastrous for them. They control the minimum of territory that they need. If you pull back for a few more tens of kilometers, just nowhere remains to expand the offensive. Yes, and economic potential of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in this case would be completely undermined.

Director, Center for Strategic Situation, Ivan Konovalov, believes that successful Blitzkrieg against New Russia is no longer possible.

- Ukrainian army was unable to cope with a much weaker militias.

The report of the agency “New Russia” is not very clear on what the “three armored fist” is:  a 3 armored division? But now there is no way for Ukraine to create a full-fledged three armored divisions. And it is not possible even in military technology, and trained crews. Who will manage the tanks? Or call on foreign mercenaries? I doubt it. It’s too expensive. And the number of mercenaries in the world is limited.

However, even when creating a big advantage in manpower and equipment, to take Donetsk, or rather a huge part of Donetsk, in just a few days is not possible. It is very difficult for the military offensive in such a territory. There are woods, hills, piles, very dense buildings, a lot of tracks.

We remember two months ago Ukrainian troops were sent into battle all combat-ready, but were not able to take Donetsk. How do they succeed now? The more so because the number of militia volunteers is constantly growing. They are now tens of thousands. And the light weapons they have are decent. And armor is enough. I witnessed how they are at one of the factories of Donetsk repairing armored [enemy] vehicles that were brought from the battlefield.

“SP”: – Based on the information agency “New Russia”, Kiev bet on surprise. Militia, according to the author, “never under any circumstances will we bombard residential areas of Donetsk … Thus our fighters will be limited to a set of tools for the destruction of Ukrainian punitive forces if they gain a foothold in the residential areas of Donetsk” …

- The position of the militia is clear – to try as much as possible to avoid the shelling of settlements, even if there are Ukrainian troops.

However, to really keep residential areas, you need a well-trained infantry. And here in Kiev there is none. The armored column breakthrough tactics were employed by the Ukrainian army to begin with. And what did it ultimately lead to? To infinity of “fired boilers.” If the next tank column tries to break through to the center of Donetsk without normal infantry support, it will just get burned even without the use of heavy weapons and “Grad” from the defenders.

Perhaps Ukrainian military expects to be suddenly in Donetsk and encourage volunteers to ensure that they left the city, not wanting to arrange it into a slaughterhouse. But I think the militia today calculate a variety of scenarios. And in one fell swoop, even armored, they do not hesitate.

In any case, confirmed evidence that there have been created powerful armored groups to strike in Donetsk is unavailable. For such information nowadays to remain completely hidden is impossible, because of the “Free Press.” It doesn’t exist.

 

Donbass pending decisive assault

Parliamentary elections and the authorities LC and DNR will lead to the resumption of large-scale battles

22.10.2014 00:01, Tatiana Ivzhenko

In Kiev, I predict worsening of the situation in the Donets Basin in the coming days. Concerns are related to both conduct October 26 elections to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and with the planned elections in a week of self-proclaimed leadership of the LC and the DNI. Political struggle develops into armed clashes.

On Monday afternoon, news agencies reported a powerful explosion in Donetsk. According to witnesses, the blast wave swept across the city, over the epicenter – in the area of warehouses for the Donetsk state factory of chemical products – rose “mushroom.” It is approximately 100 km from the border with Russia.

As of yesterday they did not know precisely what the substance was that exploded and which side struck.

Unveiled a different version: rocket attack on the territory of chemical enterprises, the explosion of stockpiled munitions factory and as a result of the detonation of RDX, an intentional undermining of warehouses.

On Monday evening, the Russian media issued a statement of the Prime Minister of breakaway DNR Alexnder Zaharchenko, who allegedly accused the Ukrainian troops’ firing of rockets at Donetsk “and allegedly declared the termination of the armistice. Yesterday morning Zaharchenko’s commentary in Tass news agency denied the report, saying that the journalists took the news from Twitter. ”I did not say that. I understand that someone on my behalf sent the page in social networks and on my behalf, and makes statements that do not have to do with me, “- he explained.

The Ukrainian side, in turn, made an official statement that the missile strikes or shelling of Donetsk did not come from them. Press center of the antiterrorist operation reported that the Ukrainian military respond to attacks by armed groups in the breakaway republics, but “beat off the attack with mortars.” And do not shoot on Human Settlements. No “Point-In,” “Grad,” “Twister,” “Hurricane”: “ATO do not use force,” – said the press center. It specified that the video, “which is used as proof that the Ukrainian military launched a missile attack (on the chemical plant. -”NG”), appeared on the Internet only four months ago.”

In Kiev yesterday sounded the assumption what the militia could do – intentionally or accidentally - to blow up the warehouses with their ammunition. Appointed last week, Minister of Defense of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak on the television talk show suggested that the explosion was arranged specifically to accuse the Ukrainian military. “This is yet another provocation by terrorists,” – he said. A speaker of the Council of National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Andriy Lysenko explained the situation as follows: “After the capture of militants Donetsk state plant, warehouses which store large amounts of chemicals, the terrorists tried to establish the production of explosives there.”

At this time in facebook, it was reported that the attack on a chemical plant are partisans. It unveiled a Johan Karlsen, who presents himself as the leader is still not known movement “AntiDNRovskoe resistance.” He wrote: “Declare: Donetsk exploded not” Tochka-U “! This undermining mined terrorist bases and warehouses. Now we’re going to do it regularly until you leave from Donetsk voluntarily, or you will have to take out “force.” …

Director of the Center for Applied Political Studies “Penta” Volodymyr Fesenko suggests that in the coming days, the situation will worsen sharply, although none of the parties requests the termination of the ceasefire. He said, “NG,” that there are many forces that try to disrupt the elections – in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and the authorities of the unrecognized republics. “It is possible that there will be attempts to expand the territory of the LC and the DNI to the borders of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. The leaders of the breakaway republics should be prepared for attacks on Debalcevo, Mariupol, and, it is possible to Raisin Kharkiv region.” Fesenko said that after a period of the next exacerbation followed by new peace talks, there will be temporary settlement and conditional silent mode. ”But the conflict is not frozen by politicians, and in the winter, which is forecast to be expected severe, the intensity of military operations will decrease, but the zone of instability in the Donbass will continue for months, if not years.”

Political analyst Konstantin Bondarenko confirmed that the truce will be forced – due to weather conditions – and will continue to heat. But the election may adversely affect the development of the situation in the near future: “The Ukrainian government does not recognize elections in the LC and the DNI. And those, in turn, said that the Donbass would not choose deputies to the supreme legislative body of Ukraine, therefore, for them to Ukrainian law does not apply. Such casuistry.” ”Nezavisimaya Gazeta”

 

Levada Center: Social protest in Ukraine catalyzes around the image of the enemy – Russia

22.10.2014 10:27

The view that between Russia and Ukraine is a war divides 70% of Ukrainian citizens and 26% Russian, results of a parallel survey conducted in Russia and Ukraine together “Levada Center” and the Kiev International Institute of Sociology.

About Russia’s support for pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, respondents’ opinions diverged less: this according to 50% of Russians and 74% of Ukrainians. In this case, responding to a question about whether they blame for the bloodshed Russia, 63% of Ukrainians reply favorably, while 27% do not recognize her guilt. In Russia, the relationship is reversed: 75% believe that the responsibility for the victims of the brotherly people of their country can not be held, and only 17% are willing to accept.

Radically different visions of the future and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, in Russia 40% of respondents were in favor of independence (against 25% in March), and in Ukraine 77% of respondents believe the Donbass should remain part of Ukraine.

According to the deputy director of “Levada-Center” Alexei Grazhdankina, acute feelings of Ukrainians about the alleged involvement of Russia in the conflict in the South-East of Kiev derive from an attempt to find some external force, which could explain the negative consequences of their own government’s policies.

The potential of social protest in Ukraine catalyzes around the image of the enemy in the face of Russia, emphasizes the sociologist, as issues related to the well-being of people, the economy, the prospects for how to spend the winter, are linked to the conflict. This view is supported by the fact that only 28% of Ukrainians believe that for the sake of peace in their country they need to accept any compromises. IA «Regnum»

 

 

War will begin on Monday

22 October 2014 12:13, Gevorg Mirzayan

List of parties who would go to the parliament, already roughly defined. The absolute leader in all polls is Block Poroshenko – for it are ready to vote a little less than 30%. But then the results of surveys differ. In general, it turns out that in addition to the parliament Poroshenko just passes the ”People’s Front”, “Citizenship”, “Radical Party”, “Fatherland” and “Strong Ukraine”. Chance to overcome the entrance barrier is the Communists, nationalists of “Freedom” and some other parties.

This election authorities position almost as the most important in the history of Ukraine, and at the same time claim that Moscow is trying every way to thwart them. For example, the SBU said the exposure in Kiev, the whole of the Russian underground terrorist organization, which was to make a series of terrorist attacks on election day (the explosion of the aircraft at the airport, “Juliani” morning of October 26, the Central Election Commission building fire and the Cabinet on the night of 25th to 26th of October). In turn, Moscow these statements is not even denies – the last time these dubious charges from Kiev was so much that the Russian authorities have simply stopped paying attention to them. Instead, Russia is trying to focus on the possible outcome of the elections and their consequences.

For example, Russian officials have said that the results of the elections recognize, but no breakthrough solutions to the new composition of Parliament do not wait. ”If the elections will lead to a stabilization of not only political, but also in the ruling circles, the government will create a predictable, which can be dealt with, will be able to lead to an increase in the degree of efficiency of the Ukrainian authorities – while they carry out their task,” – said the head of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the State Duma Alexei Pushkov, knowing full well that these items are implemented they are not likely.

On the one hand it may seem that the Kremlin’s skepticism was not warranted. Judging by the polls, the outspoken radicals of “Freedom” and “The Right Sector”, which was irritating the Russian public and positioned as the main radical forces of Ukraine, in the election, seems to fail. Seemingly confirmed by the statements of the political scientists and journalists who claimed that Ukraine extreme views in the Ukraine are not supported.However, in reality, there is probably another. Neither the “Freedom”, let alone “right sector” and could not become systemic and political forces to play by the rules. Their rate for ultra-did not work, not because the Ukraine in their ideology no storoonnikov, but just because one or another form of the elements of their political discourse used by other Ukrainian politicians and the media. Including parties and politicians from the ruling coalition – from Poroshenko to Yulia Tymoshenko, against which ”Freedom” and “Right sector” look rather than patriots and amateurs populist.

That dominance in the political arena of Ukraine extreme settings can be an obstacle for the effective operation of the future composition of the Verkhovna Rada. In fact, before the deputies will be the most difficult task, perhaps the most difficult for all 20 years of the existence of an independent Ukraine. There is a civil war, the economy is teetering on the brink of default, the oligarchs concentrated in their powerful resources of power, relations with its eastern neighbor spoiled. These tasks can not be considered unenforceable, but their solution requires innovative solutions and sober, what’s even the revisionist approach. In particular, Kiev must stop and lustration campaign to deepen the split in society, to take a course on the restoration of relations with Moscow to abandon tough anti-Russian rhetoric. However, members of this step are unlikely, because otherwise not included in the Rada radicals parliamentarians call traitors and with the acquiescence of the public subjected to their “people’s lustration.”

The stability in the future government, too, can not speak. Yes, with the formation of the coalition problems likely will not. Popular Front for the same does not refuse to work with Peter Poroshenko and ready to enter into a coalition. ”I am confident that we will have enough representatives of the democratic forces to form a majority without those who have worked with Yanukovych, without those who voted for the dictatorial laws on January 16,” – said one of the leaders of the NF, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov. President generally plans to gather under his wing a constitutional majority. However, following the establishment of the coalition may have traditional aspects associated with the sharing of portfolios, the struggle for power and cash flows, questions about the still not completed postmaydannogo redistribution of property. Instability in the ruling elite will enhance the running of the country civil war and the issues connected with it. So, on the table the new composition of the Verkhovna Rada will form the final report formed the current composition of the special commission investigating the crash of the Ukrainian armed forces under Illovayskom. It is likely to be found guilty Poroshenko and his inner circle. It is possible that some MPs will try to use the findings of this report to the weakening of the position of the president.

In this situation, the president can consolidate public opinion at the expense of a new stage of TAU - and it is also very concerned about Moscow, which has only just managed to freeze going on Ukraine civil war. Analysts write that over the past week, the Ukrainian army concentrated at the front lines considerable force. However, it is clear that in the winter to keep them there can not be. Therefore, the president has just a few weeks to decide: either he throws those troops on the blitzkrieg, or takes them to the place of permanent or temporary dislocation in the winter quarters. Moscow regards as credible both versions of events, especially after Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko and failed to find a compromise in Milan, and the issue of gas supplies to Ukraine podvis due to the fact that Kiev for its purchase and payment accumulated the debt is simply no money. That is why, according to some reports, the Kremlin is ready for any development of the situation. And if Poroshenko really begin the offensive after the elections to the parliament, it is not excluded that the new year will be welcomed militia already in Slavic and Mariupol. expert.ru

 

 

Kiev is preparing to capture Donetsk, and [if successful] it will be the biggest defeat for Russia since 1991

22.10.2014 12:24

Former Defense Minister DNR Igor Gunmen [Igor Strelkov, Igor Girkin] today, 22 October, made a statement on the current military situation in the Donbas, the correspondent of IA REGNUM.

“At the moment to me a continuous flow of information about preparing the coming offensive of armed forces of Ukraine and gangs of so-called” National Guard “to Donetsk. In recent days, the enemy sharply intensified activities of their intelligence groups, as well as artillery strikes against militias, residential areas and industrial enterprises. Massively used heavy multiple rocket launchers, heavy artillery and tactical missiles “Tochka-U”. Civilian victims during the so-called “truce” have been higher than those in the period of active hostilities months ago. Two forces of the enemy, having clearly offensive configuration, aimed at DNR capital from the north-west and south-west. Third, concentrated in the area Debalcevo, can strike at the miners or deeper – at Red Ray and anthracite to go to the border with Russia through the least covered by the host of the DNI and LC areas and immediately bring it under control, cutting off all supplies from the militia. If all assets collected by the Ukrainian side will be simultaneously and aggressively thrown into battle, the numerically small, poorly armed and poorly managed part of the militia without direct Russian assistance would be quickly defeated and the New Russia will cease to exist as soon as the people,” he said.

“Based on the available data at my disposal, as well as information and analysis of competent experts, I predict that the attack of Ukrainian troops will be primarily aimed at the capture of the city of Donetsk and directly MAKEEVKA agglomeration which is the largest and most important in the region,” emphasizes the former head of the Defense DNR offices.

According to him, the excuse for the attack can be any provocation, “which the Kiev junta has learned masterfully.” ”The attack can only be swift and decisive, designed to achieve results quickly, because otherwise it loses all point. The Ukrainian side is well aware that if the operation will slow down, there is a high likelihood of Russian intervention. Grab Donetsk or at least part of it before the Russian government decides to intervene – that is the APU. And then it will be possible to declare a unilateral ceasefire and access to the United States and Europe with a statement of commitment to resolve the conflict by peaceful means. The main thing is: do not give the Russian government time to make adequate decisions. …

“Simply put, Kiev has decided to take a risk – quick hit, and then again make peace,” but on their own terms (because without Donetsk, or with that capital divided, the front line of any sovereignty of Novorossia is out of the question in principle). If their plan is successfully implemented, it will be the largest military-political defeat of the Russian Federation since 1991 and will cause serious internal political turmoil [in Russia],” he said.

“In this regard, I appeal to all members of the Russian services, regulatory agencies under the Minsk Agreement: pay attention to the plans of Ukrainian punitive battalions and inform the President [Putin] about the likely consequences of their implementation for the Russian people and Russia’s Donbass” [Note: the Donbass was for centuries part of Russia] – he summed up. IA «Regnum»

 

———-

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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Does Anyone Else Think the Stock Market Is Living on Reds, Vitamin C and Cocaine?

This state of delusion would be amusing if it wasn’t so tragic.

The stock market’s wild swings of sentiment have got me thinking it’s living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine. This is a famous line from the Grateful Dead song Truckin’.

I’ve marked up a one-month chart of the S&P 500 (SPX) to illustrate what I mean:


Reds are slang for barbiturates, a class of depressants/sedatives (downers). Cocaine induces euphoric highs in which the cokehead feels he possesses god-like powers–for example, he might imagine he is a Federal Reserve member, or even its chairperson.

There are multiple interpretations of the role of vitamin C in the lyric, but for the purposes of the chart it serves as a modest dose of something healthy to keep the drug-ravaged market from crashing.

After multiple swings between cocaine highs brought to earth by downers, the market seems to be tripping on acid again. Though no one can know precisely what hallucinations are spinning through the manic-depressive sentiment of the market, it seems the market has responded to the withdrawal of its free-money cocaine–supplied of course by the Federal Reserve–by entering a drug-induced fantasy that everything’s been fixed in the global economy: Europe is growing again, China’s housing crisis has passed, U.S. corporate profits will feed corporate buybacks forever, and so stocks can loft higher again–a Bull Market without end.

This state of delusion would be amusing if it wasn’t so tragic. The acid will wear off soon enough, and a mega-dose of vitamin C will not be enough to restore the shattered health of a manic, drugged-out market careening between euphoria and fear.


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Top Ebola Scientists: Ebola More Likely to be Spread by Aerosol In Cold, Dry Conditions than In Hot, Humid Africa

Army’s Infectious Disease Research Unit and Discoverer of Ebola Strain Agree

We’ve repeatedly warned that this strain of Ebola might be spread by aerosols.

But there is a fascinating and terrifying wrinkle to this …

You might assume that hot, steamy places would be more likely to spread deadly germs than developed countries. But the opposite might be true.

In 1995, scientists from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) reported in the International Journal of Experimental Pathology:

We also demonstrated aerosol transmission of Ebola virus at lower temperature and humidity than that normally present in sub-Saharan Africa. Ebola virus sensitivity to the high temperatures and humidity in the thatched, mud, and wattel huts shared by infected family members in southern Sudan and northern Zaire may have been a factor limiting aerosol transmission of Ebola virus in the African epidemics. Both elevated temperature and relative humidity (RH) have been shown to reduce the aerosol stability of viruses (Songer 1967). Our experiments were conducted at 240C [i.e. 75 degrees Fahrenheit] and < 40% RH, conditions which are known to favour the aerosol stability of at least two other African haemorrhagic fever viruses, Rift Valley fever and Lassa (Stephenson et a/. 1984; Anderson et a/. 1991). If the same holds true for filoviruses [Ebola is a type of filovirus], aerosol transmission is a greater threat in modern hospital or laboratory settings than it is in the natural climatic ranges of viruses.

Peter Jahrling was one of the authors of the report.  Jahrling was discoverer of the Reston strain of Ebola, and is now chief scientist at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In 2012, scientists from USAMRIID published a report in the journal Viruses finding:

Aerosol transmission is thought to be possible and may occur in conditions of lower temperature and humidity which may not have been factors in outbreaks in warmer climates.

Given that this is the first time that Ebola has spread out of West Africa to cooler, dryer nations, we may soon find out whether or not high temperature and humidity really do suppress the spread of Ebola by aerosols.

H/t Kit Daniels.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 5 Comments

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.

A Chinese team of scientists notes in a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine:

There is a limited number of  well-controlled studies on the potential toxicities of nanosilver, though these studies tend to suggest that NSPs [nanosilver particles] can induce toxicity in living beings. It should be noted that in vitro conditions are drastically different from in vivo conditions; however, longer-term studies and assessment of NSP toxicity must be conducted so that NSP exposure does not exceed toxic levels.

(A study published recently in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine found no significant adverse effects from colloidal silver.)

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.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 12 Comments

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.

Posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in General | 2 Comments

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 , , , , , , , , , , | 8 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.

Indeed, the Army Times reported in August:

Filoviruses like Ebola have been of interest to the Pentagon since the late 1970s, mainly because Ebola and its fellow viruses have high mortality rates … and its stable nature in aerosol make it attractive as a potential biological weapon.

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 | 19 Comments