Category Archives: COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Venezuela And Iran Show Solidarity Can Overcome US Empire

Commemorating 100,000 COVID-19 Deaths

The official milestone of 100,000 dead in the United States from COVID-19 is near. This figure is certainly an undercount as thousands of deaths from COVID-19 are not being recorded. Before our weekly news analysis, we pause to commemorate those deaths.

The US, with 4 percent of the world’s population, has 28 percent of the COVID19 deaths, disproportionately impacting black and brown people. Why is the US doing so poorly? President Trump surely deserves a great deal of blame. He continues to make major errors and critical mistakes were made in the first few months when Trump said on January 22: “It’s just one person coming in from China. We have it totally under control” and, on February 26: “When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days will be down to zero.” The Trump Death Clock reports 58,614 deaths could have been prevented if the US had acted more quickly.

But the problems are deeper than Trump. The US healthcare system is the most expensive in the world yet it is out of reach for tens of millions of people. The nation has never adequately invested in public health and does not have a community-based healthcare system that would have allowed immediate tracking of the virus. No state has met the requirements for reopening its economy, yet many are doing so. The nation has not put in place the testing and tracing needed to monitor and eliminate the virus.

This weekend, images of people at beaches and in malls without taking safety precautions compound the errors. In the next month, the impact of this recklessness will be widespread illness and death. We see nothing in US public policy coming from either party that will prevent that likely reality. Rather than fixing obvious errors in policy, the bipartisans are compounding them. We need to keep pushing for more. Our next General Strike call is May 28 at 7 pm EST. Our speaker is Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson and People’s Strike. Register at bit.ly/MayDayMeeting.

Iranian oil tanker, Fortune, arrives in Venezuelan waters and is escorted by  the Venezuelan navy (photo from TELSUR)

A Victory For Sovereignty, Independence, And Peace

This week, Venezuela and Iran faced up to threats made by the United States and defied the illegal US sanctions by sending five oil tankers from Iran to Venezuela. The US’ long term unilateral coercive measures have prevented the two countries with the largest oil reserves from selling their oil. This economic terrorism has caused tens of thousands of deaths in each country. Despite this economic warfare and constant threats of military attack, the two nations joined together in solidarity and broke through the US blockade to deliver much-needed oil and supplies to Venezuela.

This was a victory for sovereignty, independence, and peace. It was an act of dignity for both countries to take this successful stand against the United States. They have shown the world that illegal US economic sanctions, which impact 39 countries and one-third of the world’s population, can be defeated. They set an example that other nations can refuse the US’ unlawful demands. Acting together, the world can end the abusive unilateral coercive measures, end dollar domination, and create a multi-polar world where nations large and small have sovereignty and independence from hegemony.

US navy ships in the Caribbean (photo from Military.com)

US Threats And Show Of Force Dissipate

Last week, President Trump told a conservative audience that the US has Venezuela surrounded. Earlier this year, Trump ordered a US armada to the Caribbean to target Venezuela, including destroyers, littoral combat ships, Poseidon maritime planes, AWAC surveillance aircraft, and on-ground special forces units. This is the largest US military presence in the region since the 1989 invasion of Panama.

Anonymous White House officials told Reuters the US has been “looking at measures that can be taken” to stop the “unwelcome”  impending delivery. The Washington Post quoted an unnamed high-level Trump official saying the administration “would not abide” Iran’s support of Maduro and “The president has made clear the United States will not tolerate continued meddling by supporters of an illegitimate regime.”

These threats are occurring just weeks after the failed May 3-4 mercenary invasion of Venezuela organized and led by ex-US special forces troops. The Bay of Pigs-like attempt to enter Venezuela by sea with 80 mercenaries was stopped by the Venezuelan government with the assistance of fishermen in the civilian militia. Two former US special forces and some Venezuelan military defectors are under arrest. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has promised to use all means at the disposal of the United States to free the US citizens.

This week, US courts allowed the seizure of Venezuela’s largest foreign asset, CITGO, worth an estimated $8 billion. A federal judge approved the sale of the  CITGO refineries after the US Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling. Foreign Minister Arreaza denounced the sale as an act of piracy and said, “There are 12 children waiting for a bone marrow transplant” that was going to be paid for by CITGO profits.  On May 14, Venezuela filed suit in a London commercial court that seeks to force the UK Central Bank to return an estimated US $1 billion worth of Venezuelan gold. Venezuela plans to use the gold to buy food, medicines, and healthcare equipment to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic reports Reuters.

The ultimate corporate media source, the Wall Street Journal, urged military action to halt the Iranian tankers, warning of the “risk to U.S. interests in doing nothing.” They claimed “President Trump has the legal power to declare an emergency and interdict the tankers.”  It warned the US needs to be prepared to respond to Iran in the Persian Gulf if they do so.

Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity published a memorandum to the President warning that taking action would result in serious blowback from the world against the US. Further, such an action would be illegal and an act of war that would have unpredictable consequences, not just in Latin America but in the Middle East where there are many US targets. They urged the administration to stop “saber-rattling” as “huffing and puffing hasn’t blown Maduro’s house down.”

The five supertankers – Fortune, Forest, Petunia, Faxon and Clavel – carrying around 1.5 million barrels of fuel have to pass the belligerent US armada. Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said, “They will be escorted by Bolivarian National Armed Forces boats and planes to welcome them in and thank the Iranian people for their solidarity and cooperation.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi accused the US of threatening piracy and vowed a decisive response.”  Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami warned the United States “Iran will not tolerate obstacles [to its oil ships]. Both the United States and other countries know that we will not hesitate. If the obstacles continue or increase, Iran’s response will be forceful.”

Both Iran and Venezuela warned the United Nations that any action by the United States to stop the oil tankers would be illegal. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif wrote UN Secretary Antonio Guterres. Venezuela’s UN ambassador, Samuel Moncada, alerted the agency to the “threat of imminent use of military force by the United States.” The letter warned: “Ships with British, Dutch, French and American flags are bordering the coasts of our country, with a hostile and aggressive attitude . . . threatening the imposition illegal of a naval blockade.” He urged the UN Security Council to take immediate action to end the “warmongering and criminal policies,” of the US, which threaten the peace, security, and stability of the region.

Earlier in the week, the US blocked the Security Council resolution denouncing the attempted mercenary invasion of Venezuela. Ambassador Moncada thanked the countries that stood up for international law in the Security Council. Maduro said, “We have had a great victory in the UN Security Council” by exposing the US to criticism from the world.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro shake hands at Wyndham Concorde hotel in Magarita, Venezeula, on September 16, 2016 (from Reuters)

The First Iranian Supertanker Enters Venezuelan Waters

While the world waited for military conflict, on Saturday night after 7 pm local time, the first supertanker entered Venezuelan waters and is currently being escorted by the Bolivarian Republics’ military to port. The US did not intercept the tanker. Hopefully, this will continue for the remaining four tankers and the US will end the economic war against Iran, Venezuela, and other countries.

The arrival of these tankers from Iran marks a historic milestone as it is the first time that the Middle Eastern country exported fuel to Latin America. This is one example of many of US sanctions bringing nations together in solidarity against the United States. The US is caught in a paradox — the more it exercises force, the more power it loses as nations unite against US domination.

Venezuela’s strategic ties to Iran date back almost two decades, when President Hugo Chávez, the founder of its socialist state, struck a flurry of economic and financial deals with the president of Iran. The two nation’s were co-founders of OPEC in 1960. In 2008, Venezuela shipped gasoline to Iran when US sanctions were crippling its industry. Maduro has continued to build bilateral relations with Iran resulting in economic and other trade deals as well as through OPEC and the Non-Aligned Movement.

On Friday night, a group of Venezuelan youths raised the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran in front of the mountain barracks where Commander Hugo Chavez rests as a token of appreciation for the shipment of fuels. People in both Venezuela and Iran celebrated the victory over the US blockade.

Now is the time to build on that success to grow the movement against the US’ illegal coercive measures. The Sanctions Kill coalition is holding a series of webinars to educate and organize toward that goal. The first was on May 9 and featured representatives from six countries. Speakers included Ana Silvia Rodriguez Abascal, Charge des Affaires of the Cuban Mission to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Francisco O Campbell, Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Bashar Ja’afari, Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations and Carlos J. Ron Martinez, Venezuelan Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The next webinar will be on Sunday, May 31 at 1:00 pm EST and will feature representatives from Gaza, Venezuela, and other nations. It is taking place during an international week of action against imperialism from May 25 to 31.

The Non-Aligned Movement, a decades-old coalition of 120 nations representing 55 percent of the world’s population, has become reactivated. They met in Azerbaijan in October 2019 and in Venezuela in August 2019.  Both meetings denounced US sanctions and US military threats around the world. Nations are starting to provide assistance to sanctioned countries. In April, Britain, France and Germany used a new trade mechanism that bypasses US sanctions called Instex to send medical aid to Iran. These are positive signs.

While the victory of Iran and Venezuela is significant, it does not end the US economic war against the two countries. The US is persistent in its foreign policy goals and both countries need to be prepared for US escalation as a result of the Iranian supertankers going to Venezuela. Both countries cherish their independence and sovereignty. They will not give in. And they are building international solidarity. We in the US must demand that our government cease its hostilities and become a cooperative member of that global community.

One Rule for Me and Another for Everyone Else: The Cummings Coronavirus Factor

Leaving crises to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s management skills will never disappoint those who favour chaos and the attractions of vague direction.  The double standard is to be preferred to the equal one.  With the United Kingdom sundered by death and the effects of COVID-19 (the PM himself having had his battle with the virus), the population was hoping for some clarity.  When, for instance, would the lockdown measures be eased?

On May 10, Johnson delivered an address from his comically staged desk which had the appearance of being trapped in the door during a bungled removal effort.  “We have been through the initial peak – but it is coming down the mountain that is often more dangerous,” he tried explaining.  “We have a route, and we have a plan, and everyone in government has the all-consuming pressure and challenge to save lives, restore livelihoods and gradually restore the freedoms that we have.”  Seeds of confusion were sowed with promise.  People would be allowed to do “unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise”, and the “Stay Home” message had changed to “stay alert, control the virus and save lives.”  The broader citizenry were puzzled.

Mixed messaging was not the only problem facing Johnson, whose preferable default during any emergency is the behaviour of the reasonable Briton, characterised by patience and common sense.  Within his own circles, abiding by the rules has been a lax affair.  His chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, has been defiant before the lockdown rulebook.

In a statement and press address, Cummings laid out his explanation for his recent bad behaviour.  The heart-tugging element was important.  So was the ignorance that he had done nothing to niggle the ethical.  Johnson had just been found out to have contracted COVID-19.  Arrangements of how to handle the emergency were discussed. Then came the urgent call from Cummings’ wife. “She’d vomited and felt like she might pass out.  And there’ll be nobody to look after our child.  None of our usual childcare options were available.”

What followed that April, with most of the UK in mandated self-isolation, was travel – some 260 miles in all – that involved leaving his London home on a trip to County Durham, accompanied by his wife and child.  The decision had been made to stay in a cottage on the farm of Cummings’ father.  It was there that Cummings fell ill, as did his son, who spent a stint in hospital.  It subsequently surfaced that Johnson’s aide had also repaired to Barnard Castle, a visit reported to Durham police by Robin Lees, a retired chemistry teacher.  That visit raised eyebrows for falling within the category of non-essential travel.

The aide’s conclusion for breaching such rules were self-exculpatory, which cannot excite any surprise from those familiar with those behind the law and policy of the state apparatus.  The higher up the food chain of power, the more likely the powerful will misbehave and change the meals.  Andre Spicer puts it in a dull though accurate manner: “a large body of research […] shows that it is people in positions of power that are most likely to take excessive risks.”  Such risks are minimised, if not ignored altogether. The one who assumes, and presumes to be in a position of power, is likely to cheat, bend and break the order.

Cummings, in his reasoning, might have done unreasonable things in the past, but thought that what had transpired over those 14 days was reasonable.  “The regulations make clear, I believe the risks to the health of small children were an exceptional situation, and I had a way of dealing with this that minimised risk to others.”

Such a statement of behavioural latitude, in times when those in the United Kingdom, for the most part, have complied with the coronavirus lockdown, looks politically indulgent.  Johnson has added to that indulgence, claiming that Cummings merely “followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that.”  The “right kind of childcare” was not available” at that time; both Cummings and his wife “were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus”.

Staying with Cummings is courting a grand risk.  And such risks compound when they are given the Johnson touch.  Professor Stephen Reicher of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) furnishing Downing Street with advice on how the public might best respond to the lockdown measures, seethed on hearing about the prime ministerial defence. “I can say that in a few short minutes tonight, Boris Johnson had trashed all the advice we have given on how to build trust and secure adherence to the measures necessary to control Covid-19.”  Honesty had been “trashed”, as had respect for the public, equity, equal treatment, consistency and the message “we are all in this together”.

Even conservative commentary on the subject is wary of the prime minister’s loyalty to Cummings, showing that this is no ordinary row in the halls of Westminster.  Former Johnson adviser Tim Montgomerie expressed embarrassment for having “ever backed Boris Johnson for high office.”  Chair of the Northern Ireland select committee, Simon Hoare, was baffled.  “With the damage Mr Cummings is doing to the government’s reputation, he must consider his position.  Lockdown has had its challenges for everyone.”  The prime minister “is a populist who no longer understands the populace,” suggests Nick Cohen in The Spectator. “Dominic Cummings pretends to be an anti-elitist but cannot see how lethal the slogan ‘one rule for me and another for everyone else’ is to him and the elite he serves.”  That about sums it up.

Privacy, Auricular Confession and Computer Viruses

The original business with personal secrets

The unilateral declaration of independence adopted by the slave traders and slaveholders in congress assembled, otherwise known as the American Declaration of Independence, is one of the most successful psychological warfare instruments of modern history. Alone it did not win the fight of the colonial elite against its cousins in Great Britain. However, once the British regime was forced to cut its losses after the defeat at Yorktown, this propaganda document became the source of the most powerful delusion since the inception of Christendom based on the myth of an obscure crucifixion.

This instrument, for white supremacy the equivalent of the ten commandments attributed to Moses, has formed the basis of the religion in whose thrall millions of people for whom Christianity is perhaps meaningless or trivial have been held for over a century. That is not much time seen from the entirety of human history. However, given its global proliferation, penetrating areas where even Christianity could not win, it is remarkable to say the least. The brilliance with which an ideal whose fulfillment has been denied to more than the majority of the world’s population is still preserved is an expression of the insidiousness of the system of white supremacy. As James Baldwin told Cambridge students in 1964, he was raised “rooting for the cowboys” in American Western films — until he realised that he was, in fact, one of the “Indians”.

Most of the world consists of “Indians” — it is “Indian Country” as the US Cavalry called it whether in Dakota, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.

We find that we are being told to root for those whose entire social model is based on our subjugation or, if need be, extermination. Since we all learned to be “cowboys” we think that those who rule us are the Cavalry who will save us from the “Indians” — if we follow their orders and stay in the wagon train, wear our masks, keep our distance — and keep our mouths shut, only to prevent the dispersion of particulate infectious material, of course.

Let us be clear about one thing. The US Empire cannot collapse as long as its citizens at home are willing to travel throughout the world terrorising other countries. However, this capacity is rapidly being exhausted. Hence the cannon fodder at home is superfluous. At the same time if everyone is policing herself or himself for fear of infection or some other invisible fate, then there simply is less need to have troops around terrorising the world. Instead the terror can be performed more compactly with pharmaceutical teams operating in geographically quarantined territories, isolated by the collapse of international transport — except for the select.

As I have written in the past the actions implemented by the coordinated intelligence and policing forces worldwide aim at retraining masses of people to live with less work, less money and less social contact (such contact subject to constant surveillance — aka “tracing”). This is simply policing and population control without any health advantage whatsoever. Of course, there are various opinions — like other exit points on the human body — as to whether masks, gloves, and distance restrain disease proliferation. Yet this plurality of opinions is deliberately maintained because the more opinions in circulation the less chance that common sense will prevail. This is also a factor in deniability. People waste their time trying to decide which priest to believe, while their jobs disappear and their homes are confiscated.

But to come to the point, the principal objection raised to many of the incipient measures — contact tracing, health monitoring or the Gates ID2020 concept in its various forms — is that it would intrude on the privacy of individuals. However, there is no privacy in the West. Rather there is a religious belief in privacy (the individual equivalent of secrecy). Where does this belief originate? Western privacy is a reaction but actually a compliment to the Roman Catholic practice of auricular confession. The confessional defined the “private” as the scope of potential deviance from conformity to the Catholic universal doctrine which was defined as “sin” or “heresy”. Sin could be forgiven by confession to a priest. Heresy could only be punished — it was left to god to deal with the heretic once he was executed by the secular arm.

Privacy is really only the general privilege of the ruling class to conceal its wealth, methods of theft and murder, evade taxes, and prevent you from knowing how and why you can work yourself to death and still not own your home or the food on your plate. It immediately disappears — privacy that is — once you make a claim on the regime. To get a pittance for your family as an unemployed person you have to confess everything. The owners of the world can print four trillion dollars a day and no one has to answer a single question.

The “virus” is the contemporary manifestation of “sin”. We are all sinful and therefore the ridiculous number of infections reported. Many will die — that is the purpose of “sin” to rationalise the murder of our fellow human beings by priests/doctors/soldiers/police. Not to believe in the “virus” is heresy. You wondered why, since you linked your first PC to the internet, you are constantly plagued by viruses. Did it ever occur to you that the company that made the software also owns the viruses? You could dismiss this “planned obsolescence”; e.g., the fact that there are no more original spare parts for your three year old computer or car, by claiming that a new product was “progress”, another step on the stairway to heaven.

But now the producer of the most virus-laden software in the world tells you on TV that you will never be free of the virus his friends developed that can kill your grandmother or your child with cancer (from some other industrial poison).

And you are happy now. If you were a white man, you might have been created equal. If not, well, tough luck. You have a secret, not for long. If you aren’t infected yet, just check your computer…

How the U.S. Response to COVID-19 Failed and Caused Thousands of Deaths

There have been over 1.6 million #coronavirus cases and nearly 100,000 deaths in the U.S. While many countries are gradually recovering, no turning point for the pandemic in America is on the sight. Lots of people are shocked at how America, the largest economy in the world, and a great country in the eyes of many, has got to this point. So to find out what led to this mess, let’s back up a little and take a look at the timeline.

Battle Against COVID-19 in a Fragmented World has Ruined illions of Lives

It is not only about physically surviving the pandemic. People miss people, and places, sometimes desperately. And they die when separated.

We are bombarded by briefings and numbers. We are scared into submission by horrifying medical stories, by shocking images, and then, simultaneously, by predictions of economic and social downfall. Day and night, day and night.

But somehow, so often during this so-called coronavirus emergency, we tend to forget that people are people, not numbers, and that bare survival is far from everything.

*****

For decades we were told: “You are living in a globalized world. Borders have become redundant”. Some reluctantly, others happily, accepted.

Rich Westerners invaded all corners of the world with their yachts, villas and third and fourth homes.

Poor Philippine and Indonesian maids and hotel employees have migrated to the Gulf, in search of decently paid jobs.

Interracial, intercontinental marriages and relationships became the norm.

By the end of 2019, hundreds of millions were living in several parts of the world, simultaneously. For different reasons, both rich and poor individuals. For some it became a lifestyle, for others bare necessity.

For better or worse, cultures were increasingly becoming intertwined. To many, the color of skin was increasingly irrelevant. At least to those few hundreds of millions, who have been living on this planet Earth, not just in Asia or Europe, Oceania, the Middle East, South or North America.

I have written a lot about this trend. Some of it was clearly positive, while I have been criticizing, decisively, many elements.

But it was the reality, and as many of us believed, an irreversible, permanent one.

Human beings were breaking up the chains of their past. Suddenly, they felt free to step out of their traditional cultures, religions, habits. They formed relations with human beings coming from other parts of the world. They were marrying people with thoroughly different cultures and backgrounds. They were moving to far away places. And not only young people. Often their parents, seduced by wanderlust, were deciding to retire thousands of miles away.

Men and women were doing research in deep rain forests, some of them deciding to stay there forever. Others were ruining these forests, becoming rich on shameless plunder.

So many stories, good and bad. So many reasons, wonderful and horrible, of globalized or internationalized life.

Then suddenly, the end. Full stop!

COVID-19, or call it novel coronavirus, has arrived.

It came from nowhere, its mortality rate low, that of the common flu, but remarkably contagious.

Abruptly, our world stopped.

Almost all proverbial liberties have been taken away from the people. So fast, and without plebiscites, referendums, debates. Police, drones, surveillance, have rapidly been employed against the citizens, virtually everywhere.

And then, almost from the start of the pandemic, the borders began closing down. Borders, which we used to be told, were there to stay open forever.

And the international, or for some of us internationalist life, was suddenly arrested.

The changes were implemented so rapidly that most of us had no time to react. We watched, helplessly, as frontiers were closed, airlines cancelled flights, and the movement of people came to an abrupt stop.

Across the border lines, disappearing beyond the horizon, were our families, or loved ones, our colleagues and comrades, as well as countries and cities for which we longed for.

*****

There was nothing much we could do, because this brutal global lockdown was performed “for our own good”. We found ourselves sheltered in prison, ‘so we, and others, could survive’. Or that’s what we were told.

We have not been allowed to take risks, nor to dare. Our loved ones have not been allowed to dare either.

We have all become soft and so easy to manipulate.  All that talk about freedom and democracy has quickly been forgotten.

In just one or two months, our planet has become fragmented, as never before. Borders have been closed, even between the countries of Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East.

Europeans, for instance, who were forced into great sacrifices in exchange for a borderless continent, were suddenly stuck with those existing sacrifices, but also with the re-erected frontiers.

With shocking speed, all the gains made by humanity — gains towards an open world — were annulled, liquidated.

I have to repeat: people were not asked. Nobody consulted them.

While several airlines began receiving billions of dollars in government subsidies, there has been no compensation for those hundreds of millions of people whose lives have been virtually ruined, reduced to near nothing by the travel bans, which have amounted to imprisoning multitudes in their current locations.

*****

Right now, almost the entire South America is “out of reach”, and so is Asia. Foreigners cannot enter the United States. Actually, most of the countries have turned themselves into fortresses.

Imagine that you have relatives living in a different part of the world. Imagine that your spouse is there, somewhere, or your house, or important work which you love, passionately. Imagine that some neoliberal government is using COVID-19 lockdown to cover up the speeding-up of the destruction of its rainforests, as is happening right now in places such as Brazil and Indonesia. Imagine that such governments are dispossessing indigenous people, and you cannot continue your work, which is to expose crimes against humanity and nature.

Millions of people depend on your investigative work, but you cannot go. The borders are closed, planes are not flying. “It is all for your own good”. “It is all for the sake of others”.

You may want to ask: “What about the good of those millions who are being robbed, impoverished, even killed by events unrelated, or just partially-related, to the COVID-19? Do they have the right to live? Do they have the right to be protected, defended?”

But, not many are asking those questions! And if they do, the mass media is not paying attention.

The novel coronavirus, it appears, is now all that matters, at least to some, or to the majority. Or to the regime.

It is like those proverbial hospitals, which are letting people die from cancer and strokes, because their emergency rooms and beds are being used exclusively to treat COVID-19 patients.

There is something essentially and morally wrong with this approach. Something deeply wrong, philosophically and logically, too.

*****

Do governments in, say, Europe, have the right to tell a husband whose wife is dying in Japan or Korea, that he cannot jump on a plane and go, in order to be with her?

Can a scientist be prevented from flying to a lab, on the other side of the world, if he or she is working on some urgent project that could improve life on our planet?

Can I be prevented from flying to Venezuela, where U.S. and Colombian mercenaries have just attempted yet another coup against a legitimate government?

Apparently, the answer is “Yes!”

It is the “new normal” yes.

Four or five months ago, it would all have been considered insane, unacceptable, even criminal.

But now, a flu pandemic, has suddenly created a new ‘morality’, as well as thoroughly new rules and norms for humanity.

And we do not have to look for important missions, or life and death situations, only.

There are hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of people, who are simply living on this beautiful planet of ours, not in just one particular country, and who cannot exist in any other way. Their culture is multiculturalism. I do not say that it is good or bad. It is simply a fact. Their health, even medical supplies, depend on this ‘lifestyle’, as well as their emotional well-being, and their work.

Without being able to travel, their personal relationships are falling apart, their houses and apartments are literally collapsing, and their life is losing its meaning.

Is anyone compiling statistics on how many human lives are being affected, or even ruined in this manner? The number is definitely staggering.

*****

Caution, of course! Caution is essential. The coronavirus should not be taken lightly. But not the extreme approaches, which could, for decades to come, set back those countless positive gains that have been made by our civilization.

To travel, to explore; getting to know “the Other”, trying to understand, to live with each other as one humanity: this is one of the great advances made by humankind. Imperfect, sometimes hypocritical or half-hearted, but a great advance, nevertheless. Not globalization, but internationalism, when things are at their best.

We thought that we could take these advances for granted. We strongly believed that they couldn’t be removed from us.

We fought for the others, for the people of all nationalities and races, to be able to enjoy them soon, too. We thought that we could win.

And now, all of a sudden, we have realized that everything was just a mirage.

One strike of a pen by some government official, and all our liberties can disappear, get cancelled. We get pushed into the corner, as if we were cattle, or kindergarten children.

True rights are only those rights that can never, under any circumstances, be taken away from us.

*****

The most frightening is the absolutism, extremism with which the regulations have been introduced.

A state of siege, perhaps, but not outright incarceration.

Travel could have been made difficult, but still possible.

I will say it as an anecdote, but there is some truth in it: I have a combat gas mask, which I use when covering riots, uprisings and revolutions. It has a huge filter. There is no way that if I was wearing it, I could get infected, or infect other people on an airplane. If that is not enough, I would be willing to wear some plastic disposable suit, all the way from, say, South America to Asia, with transit points in Europe. It would be an extremely uncomfortable, but safe (for me and everybody) way of travel. And when in Asia, say Japan, I’d be happy to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine. And even pay some reasonable fee, for ‘causing bother’.

But if I really need to go, if it is a matter of life and death for me, there should be some draconic option for me and for millions like me.

But there isn’t! The borders of the entire Asia and of South America are closed, hermetically. Even the borders of the United States are sealed, despite the fact that it has the highest rate of infected people. Only citizens and green card holders can board the inbound planes.

And so, human lives continue being ruined, on a just recently unimaginable scale.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be done, it appears. All of us are at the mercy of our regimes.

We had no idea, but now we know.

Even when these restrictions are lifted, nothing will ever be “normal”. People will be well aware of the fact that their lives can be shattered again, on any pretext, at any time.

*****

If a cure, or prevention, are ten times, or even hundred times deadlier than the disease, then it is immoral to be applying them.

Also, it is essential to remember, that there are many different ways in which human beings can die. Some people could easily perish even if their lungs are intact, and hearts are beating. They could die from sorrow, from the absence of loved ones, or from the meaninglessness of life in confinement.

Today’s struggle, and combat should not be exclusively against COVID-19. The battle should be simply for life, for each and every human life, no matter what viruses, conditions or circumstances are endangering it.

• First published by the 21 Century Wire

Faschion: Dressing for Obedience 

Asset Deals: John Paul II and his successor ex-Hitler Youth and Roman Grand Inquisitor Joseph Ratzingen, Benedict XVI1

In 2015 I argued that the purpose of the CIA war against Vietnam was two-fold. First of all the company was charged with preserving the now US interest in what had been French business in Indochina. The second objective — a part of its global strategy — was to create a country, the Republic of Vietnam (aka South Vietnam), which could sustain the illusion — created in Korea between 1945 and 1952 — that there were two countries: one that counted as civilised (capitalist and subordinated to the West) and one that was not really Vietnamese (like the PRDK is not really Korean and at that time the PRC was not really China).

To understand this approach to world politics and the general hatred of humanity underlying it, one has to take very seriously a tiny detail in the history of US colonialism. That detail is the personality of the man who turned working class denim trousers into a fashion item, a guy named Edward Lansdale. The history of covert action — namely, the cowards’ war for capitalism or as Agee called it the campaign of “capitalism’s invisible army” — can be simplified as the marriage of desire and deceit. In a sense the opacity of covert action or what has been popularised as the “deep state” can be traced to the doctrine of sacerdotal celibacy. Sacerdotal celebacy — the rule that priests cannot marry — was first a rule to protect the property accumulated by the Church from dissipation by the inheritance in favour of clerical children. The second reason for it was to protect the investments of the Catholic Church in prostitution and slavery.2  As much as I would like to elaborate on this Western cultural phenomenon, a dogma derived from Roman Catholicism, that would go too far for what is intended here as a brief intervention. My intention here is simply to strongly suggest that readers think in broader contexts than are ever presented by any media.

We have now reached a point where the covert action programme formulated by those who organised and conducted the mass killing system in Vietnam and later in Latin America and in Central Asia has become the central product to be marketed worldwide. The so-called pandemic, the Covid-2019, is nothing more or  less than a product of the counter-terror factory that the Anglo-American Empire established in Vietnam — based on the template already developed in Korea.

In Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines and the Surveillance State, Alfred McCoy (2009) wrote that the machinery (now digital) for policing in the US began in the Philippines — a US colony from 1901 until 1949 — and thereafter a protectorate. That is also where the Levi’s marketer, Lansdale, began his career as a terrorist. Douglas Valentine (1990) showed in great detail from the testimony of those who actually created and executed the Phoenix “marketing campaign of South Vietnam” how this system was built and operated. Valentine, in contrast to McCoy,  emphasises the purpose of a system which is consciously defective but infinitely violent. Whereas the vast majority of opponents to US wars object to their injustice, they do so implying that these wars — were they justly waged — would somehow be less or acceptably imperial. Ultimately in his book The CIA as Organised Crime Valentine (2016) shows that the Phoenix program is the “new normal”.

What happened in between October 2019 and March 2020 can be translated into the sequences of the war against the VCI as conceived, planned and implemented by the US Central Intelligence Agency. (Actually it is irrelevant whether it or other government agencies actually was the overall planning and executive instrument.) Daniel Estufin called it in an rather unqualified fashion the recognition that the “limit to growth” had been reached. This explanation reminiscent of the Club of Rome and its eugenic report avoids an elemental difficulty with the entire “growth” concept. One can summarise that in the pathological definition of “cancer” as uncontrolled cell growth at the expense of the healthy organism. This is, in fact, a wonderful example of what the neo-conservative literary scholar described in her book Illness as Metaphor (1978). The economy must grow and grow without purpose or reason. The rulers, like cancer cells, must steal through all seasons. Cancer, the ubiquitous, virtually incurable self-destruction of the individual human body — almost entirely induced by the toxification of the environment by unrestrained theft under capitalism — is the sickness of surplus. In the 19th century people died of consumption — tuberculosis — the toxification by raw accumulation and the exhaustion of human bodies.

However, with the digitalisation of capitalism and its extraction methods, the disease which is the penultimate expression of capitalist pathology, is the virus. Communists were germs or bacteria. After the destruction of virtually anything resembling communism — the European communist parties notwithstanding — a new pathological model was needed. The virus is an insidious metaphor. It is not like bacteria, a life form which can both produce and destroy. The post-communist era — whereby communism was simply a term for any opposition to the ruling gangsters — requires new terror products. That actually means old products in new packages. Anti-communism was repackaged as anti-terrorism (of course, only pseudo-Islamic terror, an utter fantasy, like in the era of the Reconquista and Crusades). The so-called corona virus, for the honest, is really a fabrication — probably developed in the same kind of imperial laboratories where the computer viruses have been designed since a certain entity sought to guarantee the monopoly it expected from its IBM days.

In a previous appreciation I indicated that the “lockdown” should be understood in terms of the “strategic hamlet” program. Now I would advise those who are not saturated in obsequiousness or servility to consider the current phase — called contact tracing — in terms of what was called in Vietnam “census grievance”.

The historical crisis with which we are confronted today is first and foremost a crisis of literacy. It would take too much space to explain what I mean by that. However, reading Paulo Freire’s now very unfashionable Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968) would make my point clearer.

Irony is a term used to describe linguistic practices, reading, writing and speaking. It designates a discrepancy between the circumstances explicitly perceived and the language used to describe them. Yet if one applies the term with that rare quality, sincerity, then there is indeed some irony to be found in the appreciation of that part of the world with the most favourable population density (albeit thanks to the immeasurable homicidal capacity of its ruling class), where the ruling class mandates the most fanatical interest in social distancing and masking (or gloving). The irony lies in the fact that the most sociopathic segment of the world’s population is located in the Western peninsula of Eurasia and North America where very low population densities prevail. People who have on average more living space per capita than anywhere else in the world — just cannot get enough. Now people, who for some five hundred years have vented their malice on Africa, Central and South America, Australia and Asia (not to mention millions slaughtered between 1915-1945) just cannot bear being closer than 1.5 meters to each other and want this to be the British (or German) standard for the world.

It is hard to share sympathy or even affection with much of what is published as “critical” today. It is just as esoteric as the tatoos on so many legs, arms and backsides. Permanent jewelry and stenciled stupidity, masks and gloves substituting thinking or love. My sympathy at least is exhausted by people whose sterility and verility transcend human dimensions.

A few months ago I was adamant about the insincerity of the global warming crusaders. I remain so. I am convinced that these were witting or unwitting campaigners in the crusade of death that the rich white supremacists on this planet are waging against ordinary people. Their message was nothing more or less than the blind religious fanaticism that has made the West the best organised homicidal society on the planet. That is the legacy of Christendom.

Today at lunch I watched a report on the canonisation of the Polish fascist known by his papal name, John Paul II. Roman Catholics are now permitted to venerate this vile cleric as a saint. The rest of the “white” world will venerate him for his contributions to the world we have today. It is a world liberated from every respect for life in whatever form and dedicated to the cult of death.

If we do not resist the cult of death and its sociopathic instruments — like social distancing — we will actually join — but not as TV actors — a society of the “living dead”.

  1. Together with the US regime this dynamic duo in the Catholic cult of death- the ancient foundation of Christendom and global terrorism-  waged war against communism and national liberation.
  2. Henry G. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, Volume 3, 1907.

Brave New Normal (Part 2)

My columns haven’t been very funny recently. This one isn’t going to be any funnier. Sorry. Fascism makes me cranky.

I don’t mean the kind of fascism the corporate media and the fake Resistance have been desperately hyping for the last four years. God help me, but I’m not terribly worried about a few hundred white-supremacist morons marching around with tiki torches hollering Nazi slogans at each other, or Jewish-Mexican-American law clerks flashing “OK” signs on TV, or smirking schoolkids in MAGA hats.

I’m talking about actual, bona fide fascism, or totalitarianism, if you want to get technical. The kind where governments declare a global “state of emergency” on account of a virus with a 0.2% to 1% lethality (and that causes mild, flu-like symptoms, or absolutely no symptoms whatsoever, in over 97% of those infected), locks everyone down inside their homes, suspends their constitutional rights, terrorizes them with propaganda, and unleashes uniformed goon squads on anyone who doesn’t comply with their despotic decrees.

I’m talking about the kind of totalitarianism where the police track you down with your smartphone data and then come to your house to personally harass you for attending a political protest, or attack you for challenging their illegitimate authority, and then charge you with “assault” for fighting back, and then get the media to publish a story accusing you of having “set up” the cops.

I’m talking about the kind of totalitarianism where the secret police are given carte blanche to monitor everyone’s Internet activity, and to scan you with their “surveillance helmets,” and dictate how close you can sit to your friends, and menace you with drones and robot dogs, and violently pry your kids out of your arms and arrest you if you dare to protest.

I’m talking about the kind of totalitarianism that psychologically tortures children with authoritarian loyalty rituals designed to condition them to live in fear, and respond to absurd Pavlovian stimuli, and that encourages the masses to turn off their brains and mechanically repeat propaganda slogans, like “wear a mask” and “flatten the curve,” and to report their neighbors to the police for having an “illegal” private party … and to otherwise reify the manufactured mass hysteria the authorities need to “justify” their totalitarianism.

Yeah, that kind of stuff makes me cranky.

And you know what makes me really cranky? I’ll tell you what makes me really cranky. It is people who publicly project themselves as “anti-authoritarians” and “anti-fascists,” or who have established their “anti-establishment” brands and “dissident” personas on social media, or even in the corporate media, either zealously cheerleading this totalitarianism or looking away and saying nothing as it is rolled out by the very authorities and media propagandists they pretend to oppose. I don’t know exactly why, but that stuff makes me particularly cranky.

I’ll provide you with a few examples.

The militant “Portland anti-fascists”, who the corporate media fell in love with and made famous for bravely fighting off the Trump-loving Putin-Nazi Menace over the course of the last four years, as soon as the Corona-Totalitarianism began, did what all true anti-fascists do when the state goes full-blown fascist … no, they did not “smash the state,” or “occupy the streets,” or anything like that. They masked-up and started making vegan hand sanitizer.

Popular Internet “anti-imperialists” started accusing everyone opposing the lockdown of being part of some far-right Republican plot to “promote mass death under the banner of freedom” or to “normalize death” to benefit rich people, or being members of a “death cult,” or something. Celebrity socialists took to Twitter to warn that we would “shortly have the blood of thousands of people on our hands,” and call us “anti-vaxxers” and “flat earth fucks.” Indie political and military analysts patiently explained why governments needed to be able to pull people out of their homes against their will and quarantine them. Anarchist anthropologists averred that the lockdown wasn’t damaging the productive economy; it was only damaging the “bullshit economy,” and those complaining about being out of work were people whose work is “largely useless.”

Others simply looked away or sat there in silence as we were confined to our homes, and made to carry “permission papers” to walk to work or the corner grocery store, and were beaten and arrested for not “social-distancing,” and were otherwise bullied and humiliated for no justifiable reason whatsoever. (We are talking about a virus, after all, that even the official medical experts, e.g., the U.K.’s Chief Medic, admit is more or less harmless to the vast majority of us, not the Bubonic Fucking Plague or some sort of Alien-Terrorist-Death-Flu … so spare me the “we-had-no-choice-but-to-go-totalitarian” rationalization.)

My intent is not merely to mock these people (i.e., these “radical,” “anti-establishment” types who fell into formation and started goose-stepping because the media told them we were all going to die), but also to use them as a clear example of how official narratives are born and take hold.

That’s somewhat pertinent at the moment, because the “Brave New Normal” official narrative has been born, but it has not yet taken hold. What happens next will determine whether it does.

In order to understand how this works, imagine for a moment that you’re one of these people who are normally skeptical of the government and the media, and that you consider yourself an anti-authoritarian, or at least a friend of the working classes, and now you are beginning to realize that there is no Alien-Terrorist-Death-Flu (just as there were no “WMDs,” no “Russian hackers,” no “pee-tape,” etc.), and so it dawns on you that you’ve been behaving like a hysterical, brainwashed, fascist minion of the very establishment you supposedly oppose … or at the very least like an abject coward.

Imagine how you might feel right now.

You would probably feel pretty foolish, right? And more than a little ashamed of yourself. So … OK, what would you do about that? Well, you would have a couple of options.

Option Number One would be admit what you did, apologize to whomever you have to, and try like hell not to do it again. Not many people are going to choose this option.

Most people are going to choose Option Number Two, which is to desperately try to deny what they did, or to desperately rationalize what they did (and in many cases are still actively doing). Now, this is not as easy at it sounds, because doing that means they will have to continue to believe (or at least pretend to believe) that there is an Alien-Terrorist-Death-Flu which is going to kill hundreds of millions of people the moment we stop locking everyone down, and forcing them to “social distance,” and so on. They will have to continue to pretend to believe that this Alien-Terrorist-Death-Flu exists, even though they know it doesn’t.

And this is where that Orwellian “doublethink” comes in. People (i.e., these “anti-authoritarians,” not to mention the majority of the “normal” public) are not going to want to face the fact that they’ve been behaving like a bunch of fascists (or cowards) for no justifiable reason whatsoever. So, what they are going to do instead is desperately pretend that their behavior was justified and that the propaganda they have been swallowing, and regurgitating, was not propaganda, but rather, “the Truth.”

In other words, in order to avoid their shame, they are going to do everything in their power to reify the official narrative and delegitimize anyone attempting to expose it as the fiction that it is. They are going to join in with the corporate media that are calling us “extremists,” “conspiracy theorists,” “anti-vaxxers,” and other such epithets. They’re going to accuse those of us on the Left of aligning with “far-Right Republican militias,” and “Boogaloo accelerationists,” and of being members of the Russian-backed “Querfront,” and assorted other horrible things meant to scare errant leftists into line.

Above all, they are going to continue to insist, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that we are “under attack” by a “killer virus” which could “strike again at any time,” and so we have to maintain at least some level of totalitarianism and paranoia, or else … well, you know, the terrorists win.

It is this reification of the official narrative by those too ashamed to admit what they did (and try to determine why they did it), and not the narrative or the propaganda itself, that will eventually establish the “Brave New Normal” as “reality” (assuming the process works as smoothly as it did with the “War on Terror,” the “War on Populism,” and the “Cold War” narratives). The facts, the data, the “science” won’t matter. Reality is consensus reality … and a new consensus is being formed at the moment.

There is still a chance (right now, not months from now) for these people (some of whom are rather influential) to stand up and say, “Whoops! I screwed up and went all Nazi there for a bit.” But I seriously doubt that is going to happen.

It’s much more likely that the Brave New Normal (or some intermittent, scaled-down version of it) will gradually become our new reality. People will get used to being occasionally “locked down,” and being ordered to wear masks, and not to touch each other, and to standing in designated circles and boxes, like they got used to the “anti-Terrorism measures,” and believing that Trump is a “Russian asset.” The coming economic depression will be blamed on the Alien-Terrorist-Death-Flu, rather than on the lockdown that caused it. Millions of people will be condemned to extreme poverty, or debt-enslaved for the rest of their lives, but they’ll be too busy trying to survive to mount any kind of broad resistance.

The children, of course, won’t know any better. They will grow up with their “isolation boxes,” and “protective barriers,” and “contact tracing,” and they will live in constant low-grade fear of another killer virus, or terrorist attack, or Russian-backed white supremacist uprising, or whatever boogeyman might next appear to menace the global capitalist empire, which, it goes without saying, will be just fine.

Me, I’ll probably remain kind of cranky, but I will try to find the humor in it all. Bear with me … that might take a while.

• Read Part 1 here

Will Washington Allow the WHO to Investigate its Military Bio Labs?

In Fort Detrick, Maryland, the U.S. Army has cutting-edge labs researching viruses. In August 2019, Ft. Detrick labs were closed and a number of pneumonia cases, or illness with similarities to pneumonia, occurred in Maryland. What happened when the labs were shut down? What does the U.S. need the labs for? Dr. Qiao tries to connect the dots and get closer to the facts.

Economic Collapse Caused by Capitalism Not “COVID Pandemic”

The aversion of the rich and their political and media representatives to science in general and economic science in particular is legendary. When it comes to making sense of the economy, they rely mainly on irrationalism and discredited ideas. It is no accident that mainstream economics has long been called “the dismal science.” It lacks any robust explanation of economic realities. It is not useful to the public. Back in 2009, leading economists and “financial gurus,” when asked why they think the economy collapsed and wreaked havoc everywhere, relied heavily on “know-nothingism.” “We don’t really know for sure,” many nonchalantly and whimsically repeated.

The need for independent thinking, science, theory, and analysis has never been greater. Society cannot move forward on the basis of outmoded ideas that serve only a tiny ruling elite that is concentrating more wealth and power in its hands with each passing day.

For more than two months now news articles have been carrying headlines and content that create the impression that the massive and destructive economic collapse the U.S. and the rest of the world are suffering through was “triggered” or “induced” by the “COVID Pandemic.”

In other words, the economy was generally fine, or at least working sufficiently well all this time, until we all got sucker-punched by an invisible and sudden “pandemic.” Something “out of the blue,” something external to capitalism itself, is supposedly responsible for 40 million people becoming unemployed in under two months and for trillions of digital dollars being swiftly transferred to the super-rich. According to this nothing-is-inherently-wrong-with-capitalism view, if it were not for the “COVID Pandemic” we would allegedly not be experiencing the economic catastrophe we are experiencing. Things would still be “OK.”

This is the kind of irrationalism promoted recently by Jerome Powell, head of the U.S. Federal Reserve:

This downturn is different from those that came before it. Earlier in the post– World War II period, recessions were sometimes linked to a cycle of high inflation followed by Fed tightening. The lower inflation levels of recent decades have brought a series of long expansions, often accompanied by the buildup of imbalances over time—asset prices that reached unsupportable levels, for instance, or important sectors of the economy, such as housing, that boomed unsustainably. The current downturn is unique in that it is attributable to the virus and the steps taken to limit its fallout. This time, high inflation was not a problem. There was no economy-threatening bubble to pop and no unsustainable boom to bust. The virus is the cause, not the usual suspects—something worth keeping in mind as we respond.1

This is straightforward disinformation designed to divert attention from and cover up an economic fiasco that was inevitable. Such ideas are designed to block people from engaging in a conscious act of finding out what is really transpiring.

Extenuating factors are not the same as root-causes. Unfortunately, investigation and discussion of both are routinely blocked and undermined by the ruling elite.

The stock market was going to crash, millions were going to become unemployed, banks and large corporations were going to get bailed out again, and other horrible economic problems were going to emerge with or without a convenient pretext, with or without a virus. An unprecedented top-down worldwide lockdown greatly facilitated this.2

The economy was never “succeeding” or “doing great.” Economic growth has been anemic in most capitalist countries for years. Under-employment, debt, insecurity, inequality, pensions, and environmental conditions have been worsening for years.

Enormous financial bubbles such as the student debt bubble,3  The tech bubble, the bubble created by endless “quantitative easing,” and the refusal of capitalist firms to invest in real production are all expressions of a dysfunctional outmoded economy. An economy and society fueled almost entirely by credit and debt does not solve real problems.

A repeat of the big 2008 economic collapse, but only more severe, is something many have been discussing and accurately predicting for years. If anything, the launch of the antisocial neoliberal offensive 45 years ago caused the public health crisis everyone is suffering through today, not the other way around. The rich and their allies have been defunding, privatizing, and wrecking healthcare and other programs and services for decades, leaving the society unable to cope with even basic contingencies. Covid-19 did not break society, the economy, or the health care system, it mainly exposed the problems with all three under capitalism. Marciano reminds us that:

Years of austerity underfunding by Clinton, Obama, Bush and Trump have allowed corporations to profit off our public health care system. The underfunding has severely weakened the response to the COVID-19 crisis. Our public health agencies provide fine and vital human services. Since the 2008 Great Recession, however, they have lost 25% of their work force and now face this crisis without adequate resources.4

This parasitic neoliberal strategy is called “starve it, demonize it, privatize it.” This is what happens when the people are left out of the decision-making process and cannot make any decisions that favor the public interest. Instead, the rich and their allies keep making decisions and taking actions that make things worse for everyone.

The underlying cause of all economic slumps, busts, recessions, and depressions under capitalism is the fundamental contradiction between social production and private ownership. While the majority produces all the wealth in society, a tiny ruling elite controls all the wealth. Production of wealth and control of wealth are separate under capitalism. The working people have no control over the economy that they themselves built and operate. They are therefore blocked from setting a new aim, motivation, and direction for the economy.

An economy based on competing private owners of capital who block conscious human control and planning of socialized production is bound to fail and break down frequently. Competing owners of capital negate the development of an independent, diversified, and self-reliant economy, thereby ensuring destruction and insecurity for millions. The pursuit of maximum profit by competing owners of capital necessarily distorts the economy and produces regular crises. Under these conditions there can be no equilibrium that serves the working people.

New arrangements that empower the people are needed. The current health/economic crisis has brought to the fore many contradictions and openings that the people can exploit to forge ahead. There exists an opportunity to think things anew. A break from the old way of thinking about and doing things presents itself here and now.

Change that favors the people cannot be secured by relying on the cartel political parties of the rich or by going along with what the mainstream media says. The cartel political parties of the rich are committed to preserving the status quo that favors narrow private interests, no matter how damaging this is to the social and natural environment. This is why such self-serving political parties have been viewed as illegitimate and corrupt by many for decades. They lack the consent of the governed and operate undemocratically.

In the coming election cycle it is critical not to get caught up in the propaganda emanating from these anachronistic parties that have solved no major problems. The need is for people to think and act independently. Great things can be accomplished by relying on ourselves. Do not succumb to the false choices or self-serving agendas promoted by the rich and their representatives.

  1. Powell, J.  At the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, D.C., May 13, 2020.
  2. In early May 2020, the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, revealed that 66% of hospitalized coronavirus patients were at home before being admitted to a hospital. This casts doubt on the efficacy of the lockdown.  See:  Voytko, L.  Majority Of New Coronavirus Cases In New York Are From People Staying At Home—Not Traveling Or WorkingForbes, May 6, 2020.  Mainstream and independent news articles and reports have questioned the efficacy of face masks, ventilators, and social distancing measures as well. And for its part, Oxford University and others have stopped using WHO data on COVID-19, claiming it is full of repeated errors and inconsistencies.
  3. CNBC News states that: “Over the past 20 years, college costs have grown at over three times the rate of inflation. The result: 70% of college graduates have student debt, with the average borrower owing more than $37,000 at graduation.”  Note that many students owe well over $60k. See: Patrick B. Healey.  We should all be concerned about the student debt crisis, November 4, 2019.
  4. Marciano, J.  The COVID-19 crisis: What lessons will we learn?, Ashland Tidings, March 25, 2020.

Why is Sam Husseini Channeling Neocon Conspiracy Theories on Covid-19?

Journalist Sam Husseini, was once known for challenging the Neocon warmongers on the Iraq War in a former lifetime. He now seems to have joined them, becoming a promoter of anti-China Neo-con conspiracy theories on the origins of Covid-19.

Husseini recently wrote a series of articles that recycle a large amount of right wing disinformation–alt-right fecal matter–and smeared them inside a juicy little hamburger of truth: the fact that the US engages in dangerous biowarfare research.

It is certainly true, if not really hot news, that the US has at least 2 dozen known biowarfare labs, many in Eastern Europe and the Ukraine. It’s unknown to what extent they comply with the regulations and oversight of the international bioweapons convention to which the US is a signatory.

It’s also true that the US has a long history of biowarfare and biowarfare research, going back at least to the Korean war. The use of biowarfare–Anthrax, Bubonic Plague, Cholera, Encephalitis–in Korea was such an international scandal that an entire mythology of communist “brainwashing” was invented to discredit the captured American pilots that confessed to these very real crimes against humanity.

It’s also true that accidental releases have happened from US biowarfare labs. For example, USAMRIID (Army biolab facility) at Fort Detrick was shut down in July, 2019 for leakage of contaminated waste.

But that said, Husseini is mistaken–or deeply dishonest–in suggesting that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was doing biowarfare research and thus possibly linked to the release of Covid-19 virus. It’s unclear why he is saying this, but In doing so, he is recycling the thoroughly discredited rumors of Rush Limbaugh, Josh Rogin, Steve Bannon, Tom Cotton, Mike Pompeo, and other rightwing hawks and loons. In other words, a journalist, who in another life, made a modest reputation for challenging neocon propaganda and disinformation, is now functioning as one of its key shills.

This propaganda relies on four thinking errors or deceits.

Failure of common sense: the language con

Husseini first pulls off this canard by arguing that there is no meaningful difference between biowarfare and biodefense. This is hardly true. Although there is always some overlap between basic science, medicine, preventive research, and warfare, there are also serious differences in emphasis, approach, practice, and funding that he glosses over. Husseini has to assert this tenuous proposition in order to implicate the Wuhan lab in suspected biowarfare malfeasance (or error), and to claim that there is a global biowarfare arms race between China and the US (rather than by the US against its opponents). That linguistic sleight of hand, in particular, the equivalence of biowarfare and biodefense is factually not true, and is certainly not true in one very obvious way regarding the Wuhan lab: if there were a biowarfare arms race happening around the world, the countries putatively at war with each other–the US and China–would not share or allow access to their labs to a competitor state, collaborate, or exchange their research and researchers. But the fact is the US was given wide access to the Wuhan Labs–not just scientists but also US State Department functionaries–as were French scientists. The Wuhan lab solicited US aid and funding. (Husseini seems to believe that biowarfare labs openly solicit funding from other countries). Scientists in the US and China collaborated and worked together collegially, trained each other, shared information, published papers, and still maintain some relations.

As a point of contrast, no one, not a single Chinese national has ever set foot in Fort Dietrick, the key US biowarfare research lab. No Chinese university has ever collaborated with them. No Chinese funding has been directed to it. No one knows exactly what they are researching. This is not the case with Wuhan—there is knowledge which viruses they had, and published papers on what they were researching, how they were being researched, as well as what safety protocols were in place. If we take into consideration the fact that Chinese researchers are no longer welcome to do even basic research in the US at this point in time, it’s inconceivable that the US would have been assisting the Chinese with weaponizing viruses that could potentially be used against them, or funding such work when even basic scientific research–and now graduate study in the sciences–is being obstructed in the US for the Chinese.

Until Husseini can refute this basic logic, it’s not possible to give his claim about the Wuhan labs any credence, never mind the fact that he offers no proof whatsoever, only the conflating of science with weapons development, “coincidence”, innuendo, and 3 degrees-removed-guilt-by-association.

Misinterpreting Research: The Science Con

Husseini has also misread the article in Nature Medicine. This is one of several key articles that has refuted the “bioweapon” theory that he argues for. He misunderstands what the specifics of the RBD (receptor binding domain) and the furin cleavage site entail from an evolutionary perspective. This misunderstanding may be due to a lack of scientific literacy on his part, for which one can’t fault him, except that he subjects this illiteracy onto others who are already confused or ignorant about the science. The Nature Medicine article argues–convincingly, if not conclusively–that natural selection, either in humans, or in an animal host is responsible for the very unique features of this novel virus: it demonstrates convincingly the fact that the virus could not have been engineered: a) it has no “backbone” that would correspond to or indicate that there is anything sequenced from existing components–it is truly novel b) the furin cleavage site of the spike protein–the part that makes the virus dangerous to humans–doesn’t correspond to any existing known virus (it has no close homologues in the Bat CoV RatG13, or the Pangolin CoV). It also does not to correspond to any samples held in Wuhan. That means it could not have been lab-engineered.

The “Gain of Function” Con: Weasels, Ferrets, Monkeys, and Evolution

Husseini, however, is not one to gainsay his rigid views, and along with other far-right operatives, tries to misdirect further. Although the refutation of the lab-created-bioweapon theory is a well-accepted conclusion in the scientific community and among medical and epidemiological professionals, Husseini argues that “gain of function” (weaponization of a virus) could have been induced by natural means (by inducing passage through animals). He’s trying to argue that SARS-CoV-2 could have been produced, by inducing natural evolution in the Wuhan lab in such a way that it would not show signs of engineering, and in a way that would weaponize it.

The Nature Medicine article refutes the possibility not just of genetic engineering, but also argues against naturally induced passage. Husseini is either misreading this conclusion, or is simply dishonest on this.

In this, he misunderstands the nature of gain of function through animal passage–he seems to confound engineering zoonotic transfer with gain of function within animal-restricted viruses or viruses that are already known to infect humans. (The example of the H5N1 is such an example). This also disregards the fact that the closest existing known virus is Bat CoV RatG13, which has a 96% similarity with SARS CoV-2. That differential, although seemingly close, is comparable to 20-50 years of natural evolution, and not something that can be bred through short animal passage (“ten passages through ferrets”) as Husseini implies in weasel prose. It’s as if someone were arguing that the proverbial monkey typing randomly on a typewriter would come up with a Shakespeare monologue; or plunking away at a piano, would come up with a Beethoven Sonata after a few tries. It’s possible mathematically/theoretically, and completely improbable in the time frames he imagines: yet another overlooked detail is that the BSL4 lab in the Wuhan institute of Virology has been operational for only 2 years.

Failure of Logic: The Leak Con

As even the intelligence community itself has debunked the “engineered” lie, Husseini and his cohort merchants of mendacity (Josh Rogin, Mike Pompeo), then shift down to another back up lie: even if it wasn’t lab-engineered, and even if there wasn’t a lab-induced “natural” “gain of function”, it’s possible that the Wuhan lab had collected samples of this dangerous virus–captured in nature (from bats), and leaked it by accident. In his words, “The virus could have been found in the wild, studied in a lab and then released.” (Proponents of this lie often append some kind of “horror” story about researchers getting crapped on by bats, or that the researchers cooked and ate the lab animals or eggs, or sold them to the Wuhan market for pocket money).

Apart from the sheer absurdity of these cooked up assertions, this is an irrational, illogical argument: if it was captured from the wild, then it exists already in nature, and it’s much more likely that the tens of millions of people around the world who routinely interact with or are exposed to bats would be vectors of zoonotic transfer, rather than a half dozen highly trained scientists who are trained in and mandated to adhere to the strictest biohazard safety standards and protocols—protocols which they themselves, as consummate professionals, helped pioneer.

In other words, if it’s already out in nature, it can’t be leaked out to nature.

Also, according to American researchers who have worked there and trained staff, the lab itself, whenever it works with viruses–any virus–,deactivates them, so only inactive viruses are worked with. Reserve samples are stored in liquid nitrogen, making it unlikely that they could ever become virulent.

Last but not least, the virus researcher herself, Shi Zheng Li has stated categorically that the lab did not have any such samples, and therefore could not have leaked them. In other words, we have consensus among the expert scientific community, eye witness testimony, scientific analysis, logic, probability, and common sense on one hand all arguing against the “lab leak” conspiracy theory. On the other hand, there is innuendo, lies, conflation, misdirection, and wishful/magical thinking seemingly ungrounded in anything but racism and the need to demonize and divert blame.

Prosecutorial Misconduct: The “Journalism” Con

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s clear that Husseini is no longer doing journalism here, but acting as a corrupt prosecutor would: the way thousands of innocent “suspects” are accused and railroaded in the American courts. This is especially clear when he cherry picks and weaponizes the statement of scientist Shi Zheng Li at Wuhan. Shi recalls asking herself, “If coronaviruses were the culprit… could they have come from our lab?” This might ordinarily be considered a statement of the conscientiousness and care of a researcher to exclude every conceivable possibility, the desire to leave no stone unturned—as a good scientist should. Husseini cherry picks this statement as implication of guilt both of the lab and the researcher, and then dismisses further and careful refutation by her:

“Why should the world take her word? As Ebright…[says] “A denial is not a refutation.”

Shi is considered an impeccable professional academic, honored by the French government (“Chevalier des Ordres Palmares Academiques”) for her contributions to science. That Husseini resorts to tarring a researcher who has dedicated her life to saving lives and advancing science in this sarcastic manner reveals much about him and his values.

Now, it’s well known that Fort Detrick is a biowarfare institution, and that it was recently temporarily closed for certain violations. That fact is well established. It’s also known that the US is doing biowarfare research in many other institutions.

If Husseini was simply arguing that dangerous biowarfare research is happening around the world, or in the US, he could have made that argument, and made it easily. It’s easy fare to highlight the known dangers, the known failures, as well as the history of biowarfare by the US. Even if he wanted to capitalize or sensationalize off the existing news cycle, he could have simply asserted, “although the Wuhan leak theory has been effectively discredited by the intelligence and scientific communities, we still have ample reason to be worried about other potential leaks and bioweapons research.” There was no reason to bring the Wuhan lab into the biowarfare scare story, except that it feeds the conspiracies and the trolls, draws sensationalist, conspiratorial attention to his work, and gives support and succor to the endless bastinado of China-bashing.

What is to be made of someone who echoes extreme, debunked right wing lies while pretending to be critiquing them in generic terms?

These are some basic, commonsense questions that Husseini—and anyone implicating the Wuhan lab has to answer–even if we disregard all the science:

1. If there were a biowarfare arms race happening between the US and China–why would the Chinese government share or allow access to their labs to a competitor state, collaborate, or exchange their research and researchers?

2. If there were a biowarfare arms race happening between the US and China–why would the Chinese lab be [reduced to] soliciting funds from the US government?

3. Researchers of Chinese origin, or with Chinese ties, are hounded, surveilled, and practically banished from doing even basic research in the US at this point in time. They were terminated from MD Anderson’s cancer research, for example. In this witch hunt environment, why would the US be assisting the Chinese with weaponizing viruses that might theoretically be used against them?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. They also require a modicum of logic.

Until Husseini (and his co-conspiracy-truthers) can coherently answer these questions, they are trafficking in contradiction, conspiracy, and absurdities.

From Absurdities to Atrocities:

The right-wing corporate media, the MSM, members of the administration, the Secretary of State, the President, key senators, right-wing think tanks and institutions, GOP talking points, Steve Bannon, the Committee on the Present Danger, Falun Gong, right-wing fascists around the world, extreme far right crackpots–all have been touting and stoking the lie that China is responsible one way or another for the virus. This propaganda has been echoed across the political spectrum, and “catapulted” 24-hrs a day, across all media—highbrow, low brow, broadsheet, tabloid, at the center and on the margins, we have been swimming in a morass of lies and deceit.

Nevertheless, every single one of these lies has been carefully shown to be without merit. As this has happened there has been a continually retrenchment, recycling, and refurbishing of the lies. First, there was the allegation that Covid was strictly a “communist” virus–something that could only arise in a depraved communist state—hundreds of thousands of dead put paid to that statement, showing the danger when ideology supersedes science. Then there was the allegation that there was some sort of cover up. As the facts came out, the duration of this coverup shrank from months, weeks, to days and looks likely be reduced to hours or minutes. There was also the allegation that it was spread deliberately by planes (full of infectious people) that flew out of Wuhan. That was easily debunked with actual flight schedules. Then the lie that the Chinese hid and hoarded PPE and masks (as if 4 Billion masks exported in a few weeks were hoarding). Virus “made in China”, and the virus “leaked by China” are the ugly, exhausted faggot ends of these absurd libels and lies.

By spreading the lies and errors behind this lie, Husseini is aligning with, or at least feeding those extreme, hate-filled politics and ideas.

Why would Husseini cast his lot with these crackpots? Only Husseini can answer this.

This type of propaganda should be very familiar to him. It fits a readily recognizable pattern: it’s simply a recycling of the WMD template during the run up to the Iraq War that he once opposed. That war, too, had its own WMD biowarfare labs: “mobile weapons labs” and other “dodgy dossiers” and “satellite pictures” that were shown to be false, as they have also been concocted for Wuhan. (The “labs” in question, were hydrogen generation units for weather balloons). Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Tony Blair, and other powerful purveyors of systemic mendacity argued up and down the court that these were dangerous to the world–until they slinked off in infamy. Yet some people still believe these lies to be true.

We know that Covid-19 is raging throughout the world, creating untold suffering and pain, causing needless deaths, and ravaging entire countries and economies. As it does so, it is fundamentally revealing and delegitimating the existing structures of power that have brought us to the edge of this catastrophe, in particular, the US-imposed, neoliberal, imperialist-capitalist structures of the global economy. China, outside of that circuit of control, looks to have successfully controlled the virus for the moment, and is regrouping and restarting. At the current moment, China seems to offer one alternative model: a better, people-centered approach to public health, governance, and development. As the jubilant Schadenfreude against China suddenly turned suddenly to jealous rage for its successes in containment, the desire to re-direct confusion and outrage outward against the Chinese became evident: it ties to the current global moment where the US is losing its global “leadership” status, during a election season that needs to distract and redirect blame, and in a historical moment where the US has declared China an enemy, waged hybrid warfare, and is rooting around for reasons to further escalate hostilities against it. This is the reason for the ceaseless propaganda war–the absurdities pronounced daily and relentlessly, the absurdities, as Voltaire put it, that prepare you for atrocities: the atrocity of kinetic war.

Are Husseini and other hack “journalists” the “good Germans” in this war? Time will tell.

But in the meantime, no self-respecting human–with a smidgen of scientific knowledge or good sense–should give any space to these ideas.

*****

Here are some articles and presentations debunking the theory:

  1. The Lancet editor-in-chief: U.S. has wasted time
  2. American Researcher Who Worked In Wuhan Virology Lab Says It’s Unlikely Coronavirus Escaped From There
  3. Nature Medicine article
  4. Nature Medicine article, explained
  5. The Lancet Statement
  6. Vox explainer 1, 2
  7. Moon of Alabama debunks the theory and shows the media circuit.