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

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

twd-s04e16-06

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

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

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

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

ee1feb20-143c-11e4-9c67-b1d71d17fcff_comic-con-2014-the-walking-dead-season-5-trailer-_0021_Layer-17

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

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

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

thewalkingdead_season5_trailer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in General | 10 Comments

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

Contradicts Previous Government Statements

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

However, the CDC now admits that you can

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

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

Yesterday, CNS News reported:

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

***

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

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

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

And CNS pointed out last week:

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 7 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in General | 3 Comments

Obama Misrepresents the Russian Economy

Eric Zuesse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both were/are based on lies.

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

———-

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, Science / Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Both Parties Are Responsible

The Dallas Morning News notes:

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

In reality, both sides have dropped the ball.

Democrats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Mail adds:

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

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

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

Republicans

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Los Angeles Times story included,

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

***

The AP story of October 15 stated,

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Response to Ebola: We Don’t Have the “Strongest” Medical System In the World … Only the Most EXPENSIVE

U.S. Healthcare Executives Are Talking Their Book

U.S. medical officials have repeatedly said – almost like a mantra – that Ebola can’t possibly effect our country because we have the “strongest” and “best” medical system in the world.

Were they speaking as scientists … or salesman?   After all, the U.S. has the most expensive medical system in the world.  And – like all good salesmen – they have to talk up and justify the super-pricey product.

In fact, independent studies rank the strength and quality of our system as low.  In June, the Washington Post headlined, “Once again, U.S. has most expensive, least effective health care system in survey“:

A report released Monday by a respected think tank ranks the United States dead last in the quality of its health-care system when compared with 10 other western, industrialized nations, the same spot it occupied in four previous studies by the same organization. Not only did the U.S. fail to move up between 2004 and 2014 — as other nations did with concerted effort and significant reforms — it also has maintained this dubious distinction while spending far more per capita ($8,508) on health care than Norway ($5,669), which has the second most expensive system.

“Although the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country and has the highest proportion of specialist physicians, survey findings indicate that from the patients’ perspective, and based on outcome indicators, the performance of American health care is severely lacking,” the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based foundation that promotes improved health care, concluded in its extensive analysis.

How could that be?

Roy Poses, MD – Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University, and the President of the Foundation for Integrity and Responsibility in Medicine -  notes:

From 1983 to 2000, the number of managers working in the US health care system grew 726%, while the number of physicians grew 39%, so the manager/physician ratio went from roughly one to six to one to one (see 2005 post here). As we noted here, the growth continued, so there are now 10 managers for every US physician.

We have frequently discussed how generic managers in charge of health care organizations may follow business-school dogma at the expense of patients’ and the public’s health.  In particular, they may also prioritize short-term revenue ahead of all other concerns, and hence may favor high-technology and procedural care, often performed electively, ahead of the the less glamorous and remunerative parts of health care, e.g., ED care of poor, uninsured, febrile patients.

Unfortunately, much of the country’s efforts to ward off Ebola are likely to be lead by generic managers who may have little understanding of epidemiology, public health or virology, and little understanding of the state of health care at the sharp end.  So unfortunately I expect continuing “glitches,” or worse.  Hopefully, the country, although not every single one of its inhabitants, will survive them.  Then we need to seriously reflect on the wisdom of handing control of health care over to generic managers, rather than health care professionals.

Dr. Poses gives a specific example, the Dallas hospital – Texas Health Presbyterian – where sloppiness has caused 2 nurses (so far) to contract Ebola:

USA Today published on October 14, “Texas Health Presbyterian was a respected, renowned hospital.”

***

Instead, it appears that the leaders appeared tremendously overconfident, and worse, may have silenced employees from raising concerns that could have reflected badly on leadership.  This occurred in a context in which transparency was imperative so that other people who might have to deal with Ebola patients might be better prepared.

On the other hand, based on what we have been posting on Health Care Renewal for nearly 10 years, the conduct of the Texas Health Resources leaders should have come as no surprise.  On Health Care Renewal we have been connecting the dots among severe problems with cost, quality and access on one hand, and huge problems with concentration and abuse of power, enabled by leadership of health care organizations that is ill-informed, incompetent, unsympathetic or hostile to health care professionals’ values, self-interested, conflicted, dishonest, or even corrupt and governance that fails to foster transparency, accountability, ethics and honesty.

We have seen many examples of hospital executives who seemed vastly impressed by their own brilliance, egged on by board members who were themselves executives of other organizations, and by marketing and public relations functionaries dependent on these executives for their own career advancement.  In particular, we have posted examples of hospital CEOs and other top executives making millions of dollars a year based on their supposed “brilliance,” or “visionary” capacity, at least according to the board members who supposed to be exercising stewardship over their institutions, and the public relations people they hired.  Such brilliance has often been asserted, but rarely been explained or justified  (The latest example was here, and much more discussion is here.)

Most such ostensibly “brilliant” hospital executives had no direct experience in clinical care, public health, or biomedical science.

Making hospital leaders feel entitled to make more and more money regardless of their or their institutions’ performance seems to be a recipe for “CEO Disease,” leading to disconnected, unaccountable, self-interested leaders.  Hospital leaders suffering from the CEO disease may be particularly willing to countenance suppression of any facts or ideas that might raise doubts about their brilliance.

So the leadership of Texas Health Resources may in fact be very typical of that of large non-profit hospital systems.  THR is such a system.  A Dallas Morning News article about Mr Doug Hawthorne, the Texas Health Resources CEO who just retired in September, 2014, stated

In 1997, Doug Hawthorne helped reshape the health care industry in North Texas by leading the creation of Texas Health Resources, an alliance of Presbyterian Healthcare Resources, Harris Methodist Health System and Arlington Memorial Hospital.

By 2014,

 With more than 22,000 employees in fully owned and joint venture operations, Texas Health is one of the largest care providers in North Texas. For its 2012 fiscal year, it had $3.7 billion in total operating revenue and $5.3 billion in total assets.

For leading this system, Mr Hawthorne made a lot of money, although apparently no recent data is available on his compensation,

He was among the most highly compensated not-for-profit CEOs in the region. For 2012, the most recent information available, his base salary was about $1 million and his bonus was about $1.1 million.

It should be no surprise that to justify this compensation, Mr Hawthorne was proclaimed a visionary.  According to the Dallas/ Fort Worth Healthcare Daily, Mr Hawthorne was inducted in 2014 into the Texas Business Hall of Fame.  At that time,

A healthcare visionary, Mr. Hawthorne is at the helm of one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States, Texas Health Resources,’ the Hall said in a release announcing the induction.

Yet Mr Hawthorne had no direct patient care experience, public health experience, or biomedical or clinical science experience.  Mr Hawthorne is on the board of directors of the LHP Hospital Group Inc, a for-profit that provides capital and services to non-profit hospitals.  The official bio, posted by LHP stated his educational background only included

B.S. and M.S. degrees in healthcare administration from Trinity University in San Antonio.

Furthermore, as we mentioned earlier, the current CEO of Texas Health Resources, Mr Barclay E Berden, who has only been on the job since September 1, 2014, also was hailed by system board of trustees for his “unique leadership strengths.”  His current compensation is unknown, but I would guess is likely over $1 million/year.  He highest degree is a MBA, and like his predecessor, had much experience in hospital management, but apparently none in clinical care, public health, or biomedical science.

Lambert Strether notes:

I found this the most vivid:

Among the nurses’ allegations was that the Ebola patient’s lab samples were allowed to travel through the hospital’s pneumatic tubes [instead of being hand-delivered], opening the possibility of contaminating the specimen delivery system. The nurses also alleged that hazardous waste was allowed to pile up to the ceiling.

What could go wrong? Isolation wards won’t do the trick if the specimen tubes got contaminated. Dear Lord. IMNSHO, it’s not aerosolization we have to worry about, but out-of-control neo-liberal infestations that hollow out our rickety, “jalopy institutions.” Institutionally, this is third-world stuff, and it’s an especially noxious and lethal form of American exceptionalism to pretend that it isn’t. If there were a specimen tube that ran straight to the CEO’s office, or medical waste piled up outside his door, you can bet these problems would be fixed toot sweet, but since that will never happen, more canaries will have to suffer and die.

While Democrats pretend that the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare) will help fix this problem, real liberals say that Obamacare is really just a giveaway to the big, for profit healthcare companies … and will only make things worse.

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

Why the State Has Failed to Reform Our Broken Financial System

Expecting the state to truly reform the nation’s engines of financialization is like asking the cocaine addict married to the wealthy dealer to divorce the dealer.

Most observers think they know why the government (i.e. the state) has failed to truly reform the financial system: corrupt politicos on the receiving end of the Too Big to Fail (TBTF) banks and financiers’ millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions do the banks’ bidding.

While the reduction of democracy to an auction in which the highest bidder controls the state is certainly one systemic reason for this abject failure,there is an even greater, more deeply systemic reason why the state cannot reform the rotten core of financialization.

The state has become dependent on the wages and profits of finance for its own revenues.

Here’s an analogy of what’s happened in the past few decades of financialization: you meet Mr./Ms. Right (he/she is attractive, makes a lot of money, well-dressed, good social skills, etc.), fall in love and marry.

Unbeknownst to you, Mr./Ms. Right is a cocaine dealer. When you find out the source of the fat paychecks, he/she reassures you it’s just business and that he/she never uses the stuff. But if you want to try a taste, go ahead–it won’t hurt you.

You think about leaving him/her, but the money is just so good. Life without all that easy money looks bleak and difficult.

Just to see what all the fuss is about, you try the cocaine.

So now you’re addicted not just to the easy money but to the cocaine, too. Now it’s impossible to leave the dealer.

Substitute finance-dependent profits and wages for cocaine and you now understand the marriage of the state and the engine of financialization:financialization has generated the big profits, the hefty wages that pay most of the state’s income taxes and enabled most of the consumption of the past three decades.

Were the state to actually limit financialization–excessive debt, leverage and risk– it would be cutting the primary source of its own revenues. The wages and profits generated by financialization aren’t limited to banks and financial institutions–every industry that depends on leveraged debt and cheap credit is ultimately an arm of financialization.

This includes the entire FIRE economy–finance, insurance and real estate–as well as the auto industry, home furnishings, boating, recreation, tourism–every industry that has been living off credit cards, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and other sources of cheap credit.

Cheap credit is the cocaine, and not only is the state addicted to the cocaine of cheap credit that enables its own stupendous borrowing, it’s also addicted to the easy money that is generated by our economy’s addiction to credit.

Take a look at this chart of financial sector profits. Recall that all corporate profits are about 11% of gross domestic product (GDP). So purely financial profits are about one-third of all corporate profits–an extraordinarily high percentage historically.

But this chart vastly under-represents the true impact of financialization on profits and jobs. How many homes would be sold if all buyers had to put down 20% istead of 3.5% for FHA loans? How many vehicles would be sold if buyers had to put down 20% of the vehicle’s cost in cash and qualify for a 3-year loan? How much of the economy’s consumption would go away if credit cards had to paid in full every month?

How much federal income tax does a minimum-wage retail worker pay? Zero. How much income tax does a $300,000 a year finance worker pay? A lot. Truly reforming the financial sector to eliminate the cocaine of financialization would gut not just credit-based consumption but state tax revenues.

Expecting the state to truly reform the nation’s engines of financialization is like asking the cocaine addict married to the wealthy dealer to divorce the dealer.

This is why socio-economist Immanuel Wallerstein characterizes our finance-dependent version of capitalism as “a particular historical configuration of markets and state structures where private economic gain by almost any means is the paramount goal and measure of success.”


Understand what’s really go on in the job market:
Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy
, a mere $9.95 for the Kindle ebook edition and $15.47 for the print edition.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Head of the CDC Was Behind the Big Gulp Soda Ban In New York

Hey Bloomberg,<br /> here&#8217;s a big gulp of&#8230;..FREEDOM.</a></p> <p>by Anthony Freda“Hey Bloomberg, here’s a big gulp of…..FREEDOM” by Anthony Freda

NANNY COLABloomberg the Nanny, by William Banzai

Libertarians were outraged by New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s “Big Gulp” ban (which a state court ultimately struck down). They slammed it as a “Nanny State” measure.

But it was current Centers for Disease Control head Tom Frieden who was actually behind the ban.

The New York Times reported in 2004:

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city’s health commissioner, has turned out to be an active policy advocate among the city’s department heads, the outspoken architect of some of the Bloomberg administration’s more controversial policies.

Although Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is more closely associated with a law that bans smoking citywide, the legislation was actually developed by Dr. Frieden, who was also given responsibility for helping to push it through the City Council.

***

Even Mayor Bloomberg’s partnership with Snapple to sell juice in vending machines in schools has not gone without his notice.

”I would have preferred water,” he admitted, although he added that he liked the money that the agreement will raise.

He is almost certainly the only city agency head who keeps a bowl of condoms in the reception area of his office.

And the Daily Caller reported in 2010:

  • In 2009, Frieden took to the pages of the New England Journal of Medicine to sell the need for a soda tax. “It is difficult to imagine producing behavior change of this magnitude through education alone, even if government devoted massive resources to the task,” Frieden wrote. “Only heftier taxes will significantly reduce consumption.”
  • In 2010, after Obama tapped Frieden to head up the Centers for Disease Control, Bloomberg announced his support for a soda tax. “The soda tax is a fix that just makes sense,” he said in a March 2010 radio address. “It would save lives. It would cut rising health care costs. And it would keep thousands of teachers and nurses where they belong: in the classrooms and clinics.” Three years earlier, Bloomberg said he was opposed to a soda tax.
Posted in Politics / World News | 3 Comments

CDC AUTHORIZED EBOLA AIRLINE FLIGHT

Staggering Negligence

The Centers for Disease Control said that the second nurse to catch Ebola at the Dallas hospital shouldn’t have flown commercially.

But as CBS News reports,  CDC itself authorized her flight in advance:

In the case of Amber Vinson, the Dallas nurse who flew commercially as she was becoming ill with Ebola, one health official said “somebody dropped the ball.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Vinson called the agency several times before flying, saying that she had a fever with a temperature of 99.5 degrees. But because her fever wasn’t 100.4 degrees or higher, she didn’t officially fall into the group of “high risk” and was allowed to fly.

Update: Confirmed by NBC News.

Update: the CDC now says that the nurse may have been symptomatic while on the flight.

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

World Health Organization Forced to Admit that Ebola Might Be Spread to Healthcare Workers through Coughing and Sneezing

CDC and WHO Admit Frontline Healthcare Workers Might be Exposed

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control were forced to admit that Ebola could be spread through coughing or sneezing in a cramped healthcare setting.

The World Health Organization also wrote last week:

Common sense and observation tell us that spread of the virus via coughing or sneezing is rare, if it happens at all. Epidemiological data emerging from the outbreak are not consistent with the pattern of spread seen with airborne viruses, like those that cause measles and chickenpox, or the airborne bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

Theoretically, wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person.

This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing (which does not mean airborne transmission) onto the mucus membranes or skin with cuts or abrasions of another person.

That’s why all frontline healthcare workers should wear respirators … just like CDC personnel.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 1 Comment

Why Bush Censored Discovery of Chemical Weapons in Iraq

Reports out today:

Democracy Now:

A new report says the Bush administration concealed the discovery of chemical weapons in Iraq that had been developed with U.S. support in the 1980s — and then denied medical care to the wounded American soldiers involved. According to The New York Times, U.S. troops secretly reported finding more than 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or bombs after the 2003 invasion. All of the chemical weaponry predated 1991, just one year after Saddam Hussein stopped being a U.S. ally and recipient of the Western military aid that helped build his arsenal. At least 17 American and six Iraqi troops were wounded in their handling of the munitions in six separate incidents between 2004 and 2011. The weapons’ existence was kept from the troops entering those areas, and officials denied the victims the care they needed. One soldier talked about his health problems as a result of chemical exposure.

Andrew Goldman: “I still have residual blisters every now and then. I still have a lot of trouble breathing. I have a constant headache. I haven’t not had a headache since 2008 … Only thing I can think of is politics. Doesn’t jive with the story they wanted.”

In addition to raising new questions about the neglect of soldiers’ health and the Bush administration’s false pretext for going to war, the disclosure also carries implications for Iraq’s ongoing crisis. The Islamic State now controls most of the territory where the chemical weapons were found.

New York Times (via RT):

“In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies…”

As reported by RT and others, the chemical weapons, etc., that the US provided Saddam Hussein:

…may now be in the hands of Islamic State militants [who now control the very areas where the weapons were found].

People are acting like this is all new information, but it is absolutely not.

Anyone who wanted to know could have known, starting in the early 1980s, that the USA was (completely openly, not even covertly) providing Saddam with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons components, as well as diplomatic and political support, since the USA was one of the members of the Axis of Evil that was waging a war of aggression and genocide against Iran and the Kurds, killing over a million (in addition to 500,000 young Iraqis, mainly conscripts).

In 1982, the USA took Saddam off its “terrorist” list (leaving Nelson Mandela on until 2007) so the USA could join in Saddam’s Axis for the invasion and genocide (the USA also committed genocide against the Kurds in Turkey, under Bill Clinton.)

Here, for example, is Noam Chomsky in 2006, giving what today is being reported as “new” information:

Bush administration policies have, again, consciously been carried out in a way, which they know is likely to increase the threat of terror. The most obvious example is the Iraq invasion. That was undertaken with the anticipation that it would be very likely to increase the threat of terror and also nuclear proliferation. And, in fact, that’s exactly what happened, according to the judgment of the C.I.A., National Intelligence Council, foreign intelligence agencies, independent specialists. They all point out that, yes, as anticipated, it increased the threat of terror. In fact, it did so in ways well beyond what was anticipated.

To mention just one, we commonly read that there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. Well, it’s not totally accurate. There were means to develop weapons of mass destruction in Iraq [provided by the USA] and known to be in Iraq. They were under guard by U.N. inspectors, who were dismantling them. When Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest sent in their troops, they neglected to instruct them to guard these sites. The U.N. inspectors were expelled, the sites were left unguarded. The inspectors continued their work by satellite and reported that over a hundred sites had been looted, in fact, systematically looted, not just somebody walking in, but careful looting. That included dangerous biotoxins, means to hide precision equipment to be used to develop nuclear weapons and missiles, means to develop chemical weapons and so on. All of this has disappeared. One hates to imagine where it’s disappeared to, but it could end up in New York.

Here is Chomsky in 2008 talking about how the US supported Saddam, including providing him with chemical weapons, etc.

Here is Chomsky in 2002 talking about how in the ’80s he was strongly opposing the USA’s noble mission to ensure Saddam could gas Iran and the Kurds.

Neither Iraq having US-provided WMD or US soldiers being injured by them and denied care by all-loving, all-benevolent US leaders (who always have the best interests of the world in their hearts) is news:

Here is William Blum in 1998:

U.S. companies sold Iraq the ingredients for a witch’s brew

The United States almost went to war against Iraq in February because of Saddam Hussein’s weapons program. In his State of the Union address, President Clinton castigated Hussein for “developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them.”

“You cannot defy the will of the world,” the President proclaimed. “You have used weapons of mass destruction before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.”

Most Americans listening to the President did not know that the United States supplied Iraq with much of the raw material for creating a chemical and biological warfare program. Nor did the media report that U.S. companies sold Iraq more than $1 billion worth of the components needed to build nuclear weapons and diverse types of missiles, including the infamous Scud.

When Iraq engaged in chemical and biological warfare in the 1980s, barely a peep of moral outrage could be heard from Washington, as it kept supplying Saddam with the materials he needed to build weapons.

According to a 1994 Senate report, private American suppliers, licensed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, exported a witch’s brew of biological and chemical materials to Iraq from 1985 through 1989. Among the biological materials, which often produce slow, agonizing death, were:

* Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax.

* Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin.

* Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal cord, and heart.

* Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs.

* Clostridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing systemic illness.

* Clostridium tetani, a highly toxigenic substance.

Also on the list: Escherichia coli (E. coli), genetic materials, human and bacterial DNA, and dozens of other pathogenic biological agents. “These biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction,” the Senate report stated. “It was later learned that these microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program.”

The report noted further that U.S. exports to Iraq included the precursors to chemical-warfare agents, plans for chemical and biological warfare production facilities, and chemical-warhead filling equipment.

The American company that provided the most biological materials to Iraq in the 1980s was American Type Culture Collection of Maryland and Virginia, which made seventy shipments of the anthrax-causing germ and other pathogenic agents, according to a 1996 Newsday story.

Other American companies also provided Iraq with the chemical or biological compounds, or the facilities and equipment used to create the compounds for chemical and biological warfare. Among these suppliers were the following:

* Alcolac International, a Baltimore chemical manufacturer already linked to the illegal shipment of chemicals to Iran, shipped large quantities of thiodiglycol (used to make mustard gas) as well as other chemical and biological ingredients, according to a 1989 story in The New York Times.

* Nu Kraft Mercantile Corp. of Brooklyn (affiliated with the United Steel and Strip Corporation) also supplied Iraq with huge amounts of thiodiglycol, the Times reported.

* Celery Corp., Charlotte, NC

* Matrix-Churchill Corp., Cleveland, OH (regarded as a front for the Iraqi government, according to Representative Henry Gonzalez, Democrat of Texas, who quoted U.S. intelligence documents to this effect in a 1992 speech on the House floor).

The following companies were also named as chemical and biological materials suppliers in the 1992 Senate hearings on “United States export policy toward Iraq prior to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait”:

* Mouse Master, Lilburn, GA

* Sullaire Corp., Charlotte, NC

* Pure Aire, Charlotte, NC

* Posi Seal, Inc., N. Stonington, CT

* Union Carbide, Danbury, CT

* Evapco, Taneytown, MD

* Gorman-Rupp, Mansfield, OH

Additionally, several other companies were sued in connection with their activities providing Iraq with chemical or biological supplies: subsidiaries or branches of Fisher Controls International, Inc., St. Louis; Rhone-Poulenc, Inc., Princeton, NJ; Bechtel Group, Inc., San Francisco; and Lummus Crest, Inc., Bloomfield, NJ, which built one chemical plant in Iraq and, before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, was building an ethylene facility. Ethylene is a necessary ingredient for thiodiglycol.

In 1994, a group of twenty-six veterans, suffering from what has come to be known as Gulf War Syndrome, filed a billion-dollar lawsuit in Houston against Fisher, Rhone-Poulenc, Bechtel Group, and Lummus Crest, as well as American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) and six other firms, for helping Iraq to obtain or produce the compounds which the veterans blamed for their illnesses. By 1998, the number of plaintiffs has risen to more than 4,000 and the suit is still pending in Texas.

A Pentagon study in 1994 dismissed links between chemical and biological weapons and Gulf War Syndrome. Newsday later disclosed, however, that the man who headed the study, Nobel laureate Joshua Lederberg, was a director of ATCC. Moreover, at the time of ATCC’s shipments to Iraq, which the Commerce Department approved, the firm’s CEO was a member of the Commerce Department’s Technical Advisory Committee, the paper found.

A larger number of American firms supplied Iraq with the specialized computers, lasers, testing and analyzing equipment, and other instruments and hardware vital to the manufacture of nuclear weapons, missiles, and delivery systems. Computers, in particular, play a key role in nuclear weapons development. Advanced computers make it feasible to avoid carrying out nuclear test explosions, thus preserving the program’s secrecy. The 1992 Senate hearings implicated the following firms:

* Kennametal, Latrobe, PA

* Hewlett Packard, Palo Alto, CA

* International Computer Systems, CA, SC, and TX

* Perkins-Elmer, Norwalk, CT

* BDM Corp., McLean, VA

* Leybold Vacuum Systems, Export, PA

* Spectra Physics, Mountain View, CA

* Unisys Corp., Blue Bell, PA

* Finnigan MAT, San Jose, CA

* Scientific Atlanta, Atlanta, GA

* Spectral Data Corp., Champaign, IL

* Tektronix, Wilsonville, OR

* Veeco Instruments, Inc., Plainview, NY

* Wiltron Company, Morgan Hill, CA

The House report also singled out: TI Coating, Inc., Axel Electronics, Data General Corp., Gerber Systems, Honeywell, Inc., Digital Equipment Corp., Sackman Associates, Rockwell Collins International, Wild Magnavox Satellite Survey, Zeta Laboratories, Carl Schenck, EZ Logic Data, International Imaging Systems, Semetex Corp., and Thermo Jarrell Ash Corporation.

Some of the companies said later that they had no idea Iraq might ever put their products to military use. A spokesperson for Hewlett Packard said the company believed that the Iraqi recipient of its shipments, Saad 16, was an institution of higher learning. In fact, in 1990 The Wall Street Journal described Saad 16 as “a heavily fortified, state-of-the-art complex for aircraft construction, missile design, and, almost certainly, nuclear-weapons research.”

Other corporations recognized the military potential of their goods but considered it the government’s job to worry about it. “Every once in a while you kind of wonder when you sell something to a certain country,” said Robert Finney, president of Electronic Associates, Inc., which supplied Saad 16 with a powerful computer that could be used for missile testing and development. “But it’s not up to us to make foreign policy,” Finney told The Wall Street Journal.

In 1982, the Reagan Administration took Iraq off its list of countries alleged to sponsor terrorism, making it eligible to receive high-tech items generally denied to those on the list. Conventional military sales began in December of that year. Representative Samuel Gejdenson, Democrat of Connecticut, chairman of a House subcommittee investigating “United States Exports of Sensitive Technology to Iraq,” stated in 1991:

“From 1985 to 1990, the United States Government approved 771 licenses for the export to Iraq of $1.5 billion worth of biological agents and high-tech equipment with military application. [Only thirty-nine applications were rejected.] The United States spent virtually an entire decade making sure that Saddam Hussein had almost whatever he wanted. . . . The Administration has never acknowledged that it took this course of action, nor has it explained why it did so. In reviewing documents and press accounts, and interviewing knowledgeable sources, it becomes clear that United States export-control policy was directed by U.S. foreign policy as formulated by the State Department, and it was U.S. foreign policy to assist the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

Subsequently, Representative John Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, investigated the Department of Energy concerning an unheeded 1989 warning about Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. In 1992, he accused the DOE of punishing employees who raised the alarm and rewarding those who didn’t take it seriously. One DOE scientist, interviewed by Dingell’s Energy and Commerce Committee, was especially conscientious about the mission of the nuclear non-proliferation program. For his efforts, he received very little cooperation, inadequate staff, and was finally forced to quit in frustration. “It was impossible to do a good job,” said William Emel. His immediate manager, who tried to get the proliferation program fully staffed, was chastened by management and removed from his position. Emel was hounded by the DOE at his new job as well.

Another Senate committee, investigating “United States export policy toward Iraq prior to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait,” heard testimony in 1992 that Commerce Department personnel “changed information on sixty-eight licenses; that references to military end uses were deleted and the designation ‘military truck’ was changed. This was done on licenses having a total value of over $1 billion.” Testimony made clear that the White House was “involved” in “a deliberate effort . . . to alter these documents and mislead the Congress.”

American foreign-policy makers maintained a cooperative relationship with U.S. corporate interests in the region. In 1985, Marshall Wiley, former U.S. ambassador to Oman, set up the Washington-based U.S.-Iraq Business Forum, which lobbied in Washington on behalf of Iraq to promote U.S. trade with that country. Speaking of the Forum’s creation, Wiley later explained, “I went to the State Department and told them what I was planning to do, and they said, ‘Fine. It sounds like a good idea.’ It was our policy to increase exports to Iraq.

Though the government readily approved most sales to Iraq, officials at Defense and Commerce clashed over some of them (with the State Department and the White House backing Commerce).

“If an item was in dispute, my attitude was if they were readily available from other markets, I didn’t see why we should deprive American markets,” explained Richard Murphy in 1990. Murphy was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs from 1983 to 1989.

As it turned out, Iraq did not use any chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces in the Gulf War. But American planes bombed chemical and biological weapons storage facilities with abandon, potentially dooming tens of thousands of American soldiers to lives of prolonged and permanent agony, and an unknown number of Iraqis to a similar fate. Among the symptoms reported by the affected soldiers are memory loss, scarred lungs, chronic fatigue, severe headache, raspy voice, and passing out. The Pentagon estimates that nearly 100,000 American soldiers were exposed to sarin gas alone.

After the war, White House and Defense Department officials tried their best to deny that Gulf War Syndrome had anything to do with the bombings. The suffering of soldiers was not their overriding concern. The top concerns of the Bush and Clinton Administrations were to protect perceived U.S. interests in the Middle East, and to ensure that American corporations still had healthy balance sheets.

What are US “interests” in the Middle East?  Blum, in the same article, quotes Chomsky:

“It’s been a leading, driving doctrine of U.S. foreign policy since the 1940s that the vast and unparalleled energy resources of the Gulf region will be effectively dominated by the United States and its clients, and, crucially, that no independent indigenous force will be permitted to have a substantial influence on the administration of oil production and price.”

Not one US official who participated in the Axis of Evil genocide against Iran and the Kurds has been prosecuted or jailed.  Instead, Obama is protecting them, and has even hired at least one Bush Jr. era torturer into his regime (and Obama is himself, of course, a torturer).

However, one Dutch businessman, Frans van Anraat, who also provided Saddam with chemicals, etc., was jailed for 17 years for War Crimes, illustrating that trying American-monster counterparts of Anraat is, technically, possible.  At the very least, Anraat’s arrest confirms that we can, and should, disassociate ourselves from and boycott the heinous US corporate government.

Iraq having US and European weapons did not make an invasion legal in any way, which is why the highest authority in the UN stated that the invasion was illegal.  Do US chemical weapons and other WMD stockpiles, the world’s biggest, or the fact that the US has used them more than any other country, or the fact that the US was an accomplice in Saddam’s worst crimes, mean other countries can invade the US?

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

Posted in General | 3 Comments

Top U.S. Military Leaders are Worried About Ebola

In Contrast to Civilian Leaders, the Military Is Expressing Real Concern

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – the American top military leader – told CNN today:

“If you bring two doctors who happen to have that specialty [i.e. doctors who are experts in Ebola] into a room, one will say, ‘No there is no way it will ever become airborne, but it could mutate so it could be harder to discover,’ ” and another might say something completely different, Dempsey said.

He said he is alarmed by the World Health Organization’s warning that Ebola cases could increase and the virus could mutate.

“Then it will be an extraordinarily serious problem,” he said. “I don’t know who is right. I don’t want to take that chance, so I am taking it very seriously.”

The head of the U.S. Southern Command – the branch of the U.S. military responsible for all U.S. military activities in South America and Central America – says:

There is no way we can keep Ebola [contained] in West Africa.

If it breaks out [in Central America], it’s literally, ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States … They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.

[I saw how easy it is for illegals to enter the United States. While visiting the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua with U.S. embassy personnel, I saw a group of men] waiting in line to pass into Nicaragua and then on their way north.

The embassy person walked over and asked who they were and they told him they were from Liberia and they had been on the road about a week. They met up with the network in Trinidad and now they were on their way to the United States — illegally, of course.

[The men] could have made it to New York City and still be within the incubation period for Ebola.

And he said:

The nightmare scenario, I think, is right around the corner.


(starting at 28:40.)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent – and vice president of the National Border Patrol Council #3307 – agrees that mass migration could spread Ebola to the U.S. , and says that “NOTHING” has been done to secure the border in the event the Ebola virus spreads to Central America.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 4 Comments

Can We Admit That Economic Policy Has Failed Yet?

Government Economic Policy Has Been As Bad As Its Policy Towards ISIS or Ebola

What’s causing the market to tank?

Lets turn back the clock a couple of days, when the head of the International Monetary Fund said that there was too much financial gambling (based on overly-low interest rates):

“A sudden shift in sentiment could easily cascade across the entire globe,” IMF Managing Director  Christine Lagarde told the fund’s governing board. “There is too little economic risk-taking, and too much financial risk-taking.”

And let’s travel back 2 weeks:

The recent edition of the Geneva report – “an annual assessment informed by a top drawer conference of leading decision makers and economic thinkers” – finds that the “poisonous combination” of spiraling debts and low growth could trigger another crisis. The report also notes:

Contrary to widely held beliefs, the world has not yet begun to de-lever and the global debt to GDP ratio is still growing, breaking new highs.

And as the Telegraph puts it:

On a global level, growth is being steadily drowned under a rising tide of debt, threatening renewed financial crisis, a continued squeeze to living standards, and eventual mass default.

(A number of billionaires also believe a crash is imminent.)

This is not surprising …

The Bank for International Settlements has been warning for years that the U.S. and other Western countries have been using all of the wrong approaches to fix the economy.

Instead of helping to reduce unemployment, bad government policy has made it much worse. And see here and here.

Excessive leverage was one of the main causes of the 2007-2008 crisis … and yet governments responded by encouraging more leverage.

And bad government policy has driven the entire world into debt.

Indeed – instead of fixing any of the real problems which led to the 2007 crisis – governments on both sides of the Atlantic have simply tried to paper over them.   It’s pretty clear how this movie is going to end …

Let’s jump back a year, when we pointed out that quantitative easing hurts the economy, that failing to break up the big banks is killing us, and that:

Bad government policy has created a years-long unemployment problem. But instead of fixing the problem, the government is trying to paper over it.

***

The U.S. and British governments encouraged interest rate manipulation. And central banks have been directly manipulating interest rates for hundreds of years.

Government agencies have helped banks manipulate commodities prices for decades.

The government twisted statistics and intentionally lied when it pretended that the banks it was bailing out were solvent

The government has long ignored energy and food prices when reporting on inflation.

Fraud is Wall Street’s business model, which is – unfortunately – being supported by the government.

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.

It is not only a matter of covering up fraud that has already happened. The government also created an environment which greatly encouraged fraud. Here are just a few of many potential examples:

  • Business Week wrote on May 23, 2006:

“President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations.”

  • Tim Geithner was complicit in Lehman’s accounting fraud, (and see this), and pushed to pay AIG’s CDS counterparties at full value, and then to keep the deal secret. And as Robert Reich notes, Geithner was “very much in the center of the action” regarding the secret bail out of Bear Stearns without Congressional approval. William Black points out: “Mr. Geithner, as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since October 2003, was one of those senior regulators who failed to take any effective regulatory action to prevent the crisis, but instead covered up its depth”
  • The former chief accountant for the SEC says that Bernanke and Paulson broke the law and should be prosecuted
  • The government knew about mortgage fraud a long time ago. For example, the FBI warned of an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud in 2004. However, the FBI, DOJ and other government agencies then stood down and did nothing. See this and this. For example, the Federal Reserve turned its cheek and allowed massive fraud, and the SEC has repeatedly ignored accounting fraud. Indeed, Alan Greenspan took the position that fraud could never happen
  • Bernanke might have broken the law by letting unemployment rise in order to keep inflation low
  • Paulson and Bernanke falsely stated that the big banks receiving Tarp money were healthy, when they were not
  • Of course, deregulation by Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, Phil Gramm and many other high-level politicians and regulators also helped to grease the skids for fraud

Economist James K. Galbraith wrote in the introduction to his father, John Kenneth Galbraith’s, definitive study of the Great Depression, The Great Crash, 1929:

The main relevance of The Great Crash, 1929 to the great crisis of 2008 is surely here. In both cases, the government knew what it should do. Both times, it declined to do it. In the summer of 1929 a few stern words from on high, a rise in the discount rate, a tough investigation into the pyramid schemes of the day, and the house of cards on Wall Street would have tumbled before its fall destroyed the whole economy. In 2004, the FBI warned publicly of “an epidemic of mortgage fraud.” But the government did nothing, and less than nothing, delivering instead low interest rates, deregulation and clear signals that laws would not be enforced. The signals were not subtle: on one occasion the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision came to a conference with copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. There followed every manner of scheme to fleece the unsuspecting ….

This was fraud, perpetrated in the first instance by the government on the population, and by the rich on the poor.

***

The government that permits this to happen is complicit in a vast crime.

Let’s rewind 2 years, when we showed that never-ending war destroys our economy.

Let’s step back 3 years, when we noted that the economy would crash again unless we fix the following core problems:

    • Focusing on policy objectives other than reducing unemployment (which has the net effect of actually increasing unemployment)

And let’s flash back 6 years, when we showed the the root of the economic crisis was dishonesty.

Indeed, this market crash was foreseeablethousands of years ago.

Posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News | 4 Comments

The Globalization of War

obama soldiers globalresearch.ca

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, who publishes Global Research.

The world is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The U.S. and its NATO allies have embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity. This “war without borders” is intimately related to a worldwide process of economic restructuring, which has been conducive to the collapse of national economies and the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

The U.S. weapons producers are the recipients of  U.S. Department of Defense multibillion dollar procurement contracts for advanced weapons systems. In turn, “The Battle for Oil” in the Middle East and Central Asia directly serves the interests of the Anglo-American oil giants. The U.S. and its allies are “Beating the Drums of War” at the height of a worldwide economic depression.

The military deployment of US-NATO forces coupled with “non-conventional warfare” –including covert intelligence operations, economic sanctions and the thrust of “regime change”– is occurring simultaneously in several regions of the world. 

Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. War has been provided with a humanitarian mandate under NATO’s “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P). The victims of U.S. led wars are presented as the perpetrators of war.  Civilians in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq are responsible for their own deaths.

Meanwhile,  the Commander in Chief of the largest military force on planet earth is presented as a global peace-maker. The granting of the Nobel “peace prize” in 2009 to President Barack Obama has become an integral part of the Pentagon’s propaganda machine. It provides a human face to the invaders, it demonizes those who oppose US military intervention.

The Nobel Committee says that President Obama has given the world  “hope for a better future”.   The prize is awarded for Obama’s “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

…His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population. 1 (The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009: Barack H. Obama, Press Release, October 9, 2009)

Realities are turned upside down. “War is Peace”  said  George Orwell.  The media in chorus upholds war as a humanitarian endeavor. “Wars make us safer and richer” says the Washington Post.

The Big Lie becomes The Truth. In turn, upholding The Truth –through careful documentation and investigative analysis of the horrors of U.S. led wars– is casually categorized as “conspiracy theory”.

While Washington wages a “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), those who forcefully oppose America’s wars of aggression are branded as terrorists.  War becomes peace, a worthwhile “humanitarian undertaking”.  Peaceful dissent becomes heresy.

With unfolding events in Ukraine and the Middle East, humanity is at a dangerous crossroads.  At no time since the Cuban Missile Crisis has the World been closer to the unthinkable: a World War III scenario, a global military conflict involving the use of nuclear weapons.

The killing machine is deployed at a global level, within the framework of the unified combat command structure. It is routinely upheld by the institutions of government, the corporate media and the mandarins and intellectuals of The New World Order in Washington’s think tanks and strategic studies research institutes, as an unquestioned instrument of peace and global prosperity.

A culture of killing and violence has become imbedded in human consciousness.

War is broadly accepted as part of a societal process: The Homeland needs to be “defended” and protected.

“Legitimized violence” and extrajudicial killings directed against “terrorists” are upheld in western democracies, as necessary instruments of national security.

A “humanitarian war” is upheld by the so-called international community. It is not condemned as a criminal act. Its main architects are rewarded for their contribution to world peace.

Nuclear weapons are heralded by the US government as instruments of peace. The pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons is categorized as an act of “self-defense” which contributes to an illusive concept of “global security”. (see Chapter II).

The so-called “missile defense shield” or “Star Wars” initiative involving the first strike use of nuclear weapons has been developed globally in different regions of the world. The missile shield is largely directed against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Meanwhile, in the context of unfolding events in Syria and Ukraine, there has been a breakdown of international diplomacy. Whereas a Neo-Nazi regime directly supported by the West has been installed in Kiev, the Russian Federation is now threatened by US-NATO with military action on its Western frontier. (See Chapter IX).

New Cold War?

While this renewed East-West confrontation has mistakenly been labelled a “New Cold War”, none of the safeguards of The Cold War era prevail. Russia has been excluded from the Group of Eight (G-8), which has reverted to the G-7 (Group of Seven Nations). Diplomacy has collapsed. There is no Cold War East-West dialogue between competing superpowers geared towards avoiding military confrontation. In turn, the United Nations Security Council has become a de facto mouthpiece of the U.S. State Department.

Moreover, nuclear weapons are no longer considered a “weapon of last resort” under The Cold War doctrine of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD).  Nuclear weapons are heralded by the Pentagon as “harmless to the surrounding civilian population because the explosion is underground”. In 2002, the U.S. Senate gave the green light for the use of nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater.  Nukes are part of the “military toolbox” to be used alongside conventional weapons.

The “Communist threat” of The Cold War era has been replaced by the worldwide threat of “Islamic terrorism”. Whereas Russia and China have become capitalist “free market” economies, a first strike pre-emptive nuclear attack is nonetheless contemplated.

China and Russia are no longer considered to be “a threat to capitalism”.  Quite the opposite. What is at stake is economic and financial rivalry between competing capitalist powers. The China-Russia alliance under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) constitutes a “competing capitalist block” which undermines U.S. economic hegemony.

In Asia, the U.S. has contributed under its “Pivot to Asia” to encouraging its Asia-Pacific allies including Japan, Australia, South Korea, The Philippines and Vietnam to threaten and isolate China as part of a process of “military encirclement” of China, which gained impetus in the late 1990s.

Meanwhile, war propaganda has become increasingly pervasive. War is upheld as a peace-making operation.

When war becomes peace, the world is turned upside down. Conceptualization is no longer possible. An inquisitorial social system emerges. (See Chapter X). The consensus is to wage war. People can longer think for themselves. They accept the authority and wisdom of the established social order.

An understanding of fundamental social and political events is replaced by a World of sheer fantasy, where “evil folks” are lurking. The objective of the “Global War on Terrorism” narrative –which has been fully endorsed by the US administration– has been to galvanize public support for a worldwide campaign against heresy.

Global Warfare

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

The concept of the “Long War” has characterized US military doctrine since the end of World War II. Worldwide militarization is part of a global economic agenda.

Militarization at the global level is instrumented through the U.S. military’s Unified Command structure: the entire planet is divided up into geographic Combatant Commands under the control of the Pentagon. U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska plays a central role in coordinating military operations.

While surrounding and confronting Russia and China, new U.S. military bases have been set up with a view to establishing U.S. spheres of influence in every region of the World.  There has been a reinforcement of the six geographic commands including the creation in 2008 of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).

As heralded by the Pentagon, AFRICOM becomes a “full-spectrum combatant command” responsible for what are described as “defense” and U.S. “national  security” operations “through focused, sustained engagement with partners in support of our shared security objectives”. AFRICOM’s area of jurisdiction extends to the entire “African continent, its island nations, and surrounding waters”. 2 US Africa Command, “What We Do”,

This US militarization of Africa supports the concurrent economic conquest of the continent, the pillage of its natural resources, the acquisition of its extensive oil and gas reserves, etc.

AFRICOM is an instrument of a U.S. led neocolonial project in alliance with the United Kingdom which consists in expanding the Anglo-American sphere of influence specifically in Central Africa, Francophone West Africa and North Africa largely at the expense of France.

While the US has military bases and/or facilities in more than 150 countries, with 160,000 active-duty personnel, the construction of new military bases is envisaged in Latin America including Colombia on the immediate border of Venezuela.

Military aid to Israel has increased. The Obama presidency has expressed its unbending support for Israel and the Israeli military, which is slated to play a key role in US-NATO led wars in the Middle East. The unspoken agenda is outright elimination of Palestine and the instatement  of “Greater Israel”.

Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of War. America’s Long War against Humanity, excerpt from forthcoming book, Global Research Publishers, 2014.  Expected date of publication November-December 2014.
Posted in Politics / World News | 1 Comment

Ebola: Everything you need to know right now

The current Ebola outbreak, unlike others throughout history, is lasting a very long time; with cases now being reported on a variety of continents well outside of its equatorial African origin.

I’m not especially worried about Ebola striking me or my loved ones, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment. But I’m growing increasingly concerned about government response to the outbreak.

So let’s spend some time understanding the nature of Ebola, specifically, and viral contagion, more generally. At the very least, Ebola can serve as an instructive reminder about how our society’s responses to a viral outbreak could prove to be at least as disruptive and damaging as the virus itself.

Ebola

While very often cited as being 90% fatal once contracted, Ebola is rarely that lethal. In fact it was only that lethal in a single isolated outbreak. A 50% to 70% mortality rate is more common. As of Oct 10 2014, the latest outbreak had afflicted 8,376 and killed 4,024 — a mortality rate of 48%.

This places the Ebola strain responsible for the latest outbreak on the lower end of the Ebola lethality scale. Don’t misunderstand me: this is still a very deadly virus, to be sure. But it’s not a guaranteed death sentence, either.

Viruses come in a wide variety of types and shapes. But the general structure they all share is that they have some form of nuclear material, either DNA itself or RNA, housed inside of a protein capsule. Think of a peanut M&M, where the peanut is the genetic payload and the outer coatings serve both a protective purpose (while the virus is seeking a new host) and as the means of docking with a host’s cell.

That’s really all a virus is. A few proteins and some genetic material. No membranes, no sexual merging of genetic material, and no ability to replicate themselves all on their own. There are debates still ongoing today as to whether a virus should even be considered a living thing.

The life cycle of a virus is very simple. A virus particle will dock with a target host cell (most viruses are highly specific for the precise sorts of cells they will and won’t bind to), insert its genetic payload which hijacks the host’s replicative machinery, replicate the genetic payload wildly which codes for both new genetic material and protein capsule subunits, and then reassemble lots of intact virus particles which then escape the host cell to go and find other cells to infect.

Within a mammalian host, once a virus attack is recognized, an antibody response is mounted and the fight is on. As the virus particles escape the host cell (which is usually damaged or killed as a consequence of having been hijacked) it is vulnerable to being identified by a host antibody, itself a highly-specialized protein that will ‘dock’ with a virus particle more or less permanently (they bind together very tightly) and thereby incapacitate the virus’ ability to dock to a new host cell.

With lethal viruses, something goes wrong with this process. Either the virus replicates too quickly for the host to counter effectively, or the virus tricks the immune response into either too little or too much activity — both conditions which can end poorly for the host.

For example, the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 preferentially killed those between the ages of 20 and 40. This was unusual because it’s exactly opposite the flu mortality patterns we normally expect, where the very young and the very old are the most susceptible.

The best prevailing explanation for this is that it was the very health and vigor of the patients that did them in. The Spanish flu (and other avian flu strains) cause the host body to unleash a ‘cytokine storm‘ which is a very unhealthy, and sometimes lethal, positive feedback loop between immune cells and a class of attractor signaling molecules called cytokines. As more cytokines are released, say into the lung tissue, immune cells are attracted and can then release more cytokines, which attracts more immune cells, and so on. The place to which they are attracted becomes damaged by this overly-aggressive response of the immune cells and for the Spanish flu victims, this happened in the lungs, critically impairing respiration. Hence, the ‘healthier’ a host was, the more damage the Spanish flu virus caused.

In the case of Ebola, the virus preferentially targets the cells that line the inner walls of blood vessels (a.k.a. endothelial cells) as well as white blood cells, a fact which helps to spread the virus throughout the body fairly rapidly, as white blood cells actively migrate system-wide.

Through a variety of mechanisms, the Ebola virus causes the endothelial cells to detach from the blood vessels and die, which compromises blood vessel integrity. This targeting of the blood vessels is why the Ebola virus is classified as a hemorrhagic fever. The patient’s blood vessels literally break down. That leads to the many visible symptoms of an Ebola victim, not the least of which is various burst blood vessels all throughout the body.

(Source)

Currently, it’s thought that once exposed, an Ebola victim will incubate the virus for a period of up to 21 days before symptoms express. It’s only once the victim is symptomatic that they themselves can transmit the virus and infect others.

This characteristic of Ebola, more than any other, is why I don’t fear it overly much as a pandemic risk. A far more worrisome virus would be one that’s infective during asymptomatic stages of its host cycle, as is the case with HIV.

Early symptoms of Ebola include the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Unfortunately, that pretty much describes any reasonably intense flu, which complicates screening procedures and causes unnecessary worry among those who merely have the flu but worry about the possibility of Ebola.

Nonetheless, authorities have no choice but to take every traveling passenger with these very ordinary flu symptoms as a possible Ebola case. It’s a safe bet we’ll hear plenty in the coming days and weeks about Hazmat-suited response teams escorting sickly passengers off of planes.

A tip: if you have a fever, don’t travel. You’ll worry a lot of people unnecessarily. And you may end up in quarantine, really throwing your travel plans off the rails.

The Short-Term Risk

While gruesome and heartbreaking, the actual number of deaths by Ebola as well as the total number of people infected is very, very low compared to other hazards out there.

Are you more worried about Ebola than driving to work? If so, you have those risks entirely inverted.

(Source)

In the above chart, there are 27 years worth of data contained in each data point. That means that if the chart reads 2,700 for a given day, then an average of 100 people died on US roads on that day each year out of 27.

For the US, the above chart translates into ~33,000 vehicle deaths per year. Even in Africa where some 4,000 people have died from Ebola so far in 2014, America’s vehicle fatalities dwarf that current statistic.

Other communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and diarrheal disease cause some 9 million deaths worldwide each year.

This is why I’m personally not that worried about Ebola striking me or my family here in the eastern US at this time. Nor would I be overly worried in Dallas, where the first two US-soil cases of Ebola command national attention. The odds of getting infected at this point are very low at the individual level.

The Longer-Term Risk

However, I do think that the reaction to Ebola, which could include ex- and inter-US travel bans and other economically and socially disruptive practices could be another matter altogether at this moment in time. While there is a small, but non-zero, chance that this Ebola strain could morph into something more virulent, there is a very good chance of a more Draconian government response developing.

In Part 2: Prudent Precautions To Take Now, we dive into not only what damage to our civil liberties and livelihood these heavy-handed and poorly executed government responses are likely to be, but we also address the actions that individuals can take today on important questions like:

 

  • Who is at risk of infection in the current ebola outbreak?
  • What’s the likelihood the current strain will morph into a more virulent form?
  • What are the best steps to take today to reduce your vulnerability to a pandemic?

What Ebola reminds us of is that when a true pandemic arrives it will travel much faster than those in the past (thanks to air travel being an order of magnitude faster than dawning recognition) and that our complex, highly leveraged, just-in-time global economy is utterly unprepared for even a minor glitch in the flow of goods let alone the virtual lockdown that a true pandemic would require.

A small amount of preparing can make you much less vulnerable should (when?) that comes to pass.

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

Posted in General | Leave a comment