Category Archives: Interview

A Story of Resurrection

Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.
— Michelle Rosenthall

A feature on a local person usually doesn’t go down the rabbit hole of a person’s trauma and her battles scraping to get out of darkness.

A few artists I’ve interviewed  unleashed catharses into their personal journeys, including personal hells; however, after reading my drafts, many have declined to “expose” so much of their lives for public consumption. The exposing of one’s trials and tribulations is powerful to readers, but many times opening up in person is easy; seeing it in print is devastating.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is not a great place to find healing, though, and a person like Oregon Coast resident Kiera Morgan faces those demons head on. She embraces the good, bad and ugly of her totality.

The Central Oregon Coast (where I live) has remarkable narratives of people who face down homelessness, incarceration, depression, poverty, illness — what some call the school of hard knocks to the tenth power. Trudging out of the dark into the bright burning light serves up powerful survivors’ tale. It is a microcosm to the rest of the USA, the world.

Kiera Morgan fits this to a tee. I met her last year at Depoe Bay’s Neighbors for Kids (a non-profit for families in need of a place for children to be when parents are working) while I was giving a presentation on an anti-poverty program I am heading up in Lincoln County.

Her nose for news quickly motivated Kiera to get me on camera for her weekly show, “Coffee with Kiera.” This is a newish Lincoln County digital platform of her own creation: Pacific Northwest News and Entertainment.

A few months later, here I am talking to her on phone, my first interview conducted with the impersonal tools of social distancing.

I ask Kiera several times — “Are you okay with the dirty laundry aired and published in a newspaper?”

I am not ashamed of where I came from. I think my story could be a learning lesson for others.

ACES — the deck is stacked

Her story is one of reclamation — radio DJ-ing, theater and a newshound background. She has been out here since 1994. Setting down coastal roots entailed pain, struggle and personal discord. Kiera is now at her sweet spot — a good marriage to Tony Thomas (with Rogue Brewery in Newport  for 12 years) and her own involvement in civic and community programs.

She has been on (or is currently a member of) such diverse advisory boards as the Salvation Army, Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, Partnership Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Central Coast Child Development Center.

Sort of the “why” of Kiera’s involvement in these social services non-profits weaves back to her early years as well as her adulthood: she was born in Idaho 55 years ago; moved to Bend; ended up in Gresham by the age of five. She’s spent time in Portland, Pendleton, Sweet Home and, finally, the Central Oregon Coast.

Though she’s not “just” defined as a child of early divorce, Kiera recalls a stepdad who was an abusive alcoholic. She ended up emotionally and physically battered.

We bring up ACES — Adverse Childhood Experiences. I’ve worked in education, with gang prevention programs, newly released prisoners and foster teens. Training around ACES, I was galvanized to in understanding my students’ and clients’ childhood traumas. Those negative events early on have concrete outcomes — future violence victimization and perpetration, lifelong physical and mental health issues, substance abuse, homelessness and plethora of lost opportunities as adults.

The adage, “it takes a village to raise a child,” is pivotal in how society should create neighborhoods, communities and situations where children can thrive. Letting children fall through the cracks and live in abusive, impoverished homes nullifies many possibilities of a thriving adulthood.

Kiera emphasizes how our communities pay for this as fellow citizens get involved in substance abuse, are challenged with illiteracy and fall into myriad unhealthy lifestyle “choices.” As a community, we pay in many ways for these people failing through the cracks:

Poverty, violent parents, substance abuse in the household and being a foster youth are all high-influencing ACES.

Kiera ticks off all of the above. Her biological father was out of the picture, she says, not because that was his choice. Her mother was not emotionally sound to break away from an abusive husband, her step-father.

She moved in briefly with her biological father who was a chef and baker in Rhododendron at an operation centered around rental cabins.

“I would go to the restaurant for meals,” she says, emphasizing how she rode her bike to friends’ homes, and was able to hang with farm animals at her friends’ parents’ farms.

“My dad was good-natured, a very positive person. He would literally give the shirt off his back to anyone in need. He was a happy man, and everyone called him, Hap.”

Getting back up

Kiera’s time with her biological father ended when a private detective, hired by Kiera’s mother, stated he saw Hap letting his young daughter hang out by herself in their cabin while her father was just around the corner working in the restaurant.

More ACES: whipped by her step-father, and bruises on her body. “I literally had the design of his belt on me because he hit me so hard.”

Her biological father would show up to his sister’s house. They called the police once, and the step-father told the officer the marks were evidence of normal disciplining. Nothing happened to the abuser.

The young Kiera witnessed her stepfather’s heavy drinking. She had the marks of being swatted and belted, and she held in the emotional pain. The vicious cycle of a mother allowing the abuse of the child by a male step-parent put Kiera front and center into his rage. She was grabbed by the throat, her hair pulled and head slammed against the wall.

The next day the sixth grader showed a teacher the fingerprint bruises on her neck and welt on the back of the head.

Is this proof enough, or do I have to die before you believe me?

This journey has more twists and turns in Part Two published on the OCT website, but as one bookend to her life, Kiera reiterates, “I want to be like my dad — loving and a smile on my face. It’s important for me to expand my web site. It puts me at peace knowing I can help others through the news site.”

PTSD may stand for post traumatic stress disorder, but the label could mean Personally Tough Strong Dame after spending time with Kiera Morgan.

So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive

— Audre Lorde

Kiera is open about her life, about survival. She recounts how she was living paycheck to paycheck in Sweet Home. She was with an alcoholic, a husband who “did get physical with me, punched me.”

She emphasizes leaving an abusive spouse is not always an option. Kiera knows the psychological underpinnings of “battered spouse syndrome” by heart. She went back to this fellow many times.

One instance, Kiera’s sister came to get her, and Kiera spent her time couch surfing, virtually homeless. She lived in her car. “Nine months pregnant. Jeff found out where I was. He told me he missed me. I knew better, though, but I went back to him.”

The vicious cycle of believing a man can and will change when the bottle or the needle are more important in their lives is not atypical.

At the end of her pregnancy, she was quickly feeling massive heartburn. Eventually she went to OHSU where she was diagnosed with toxemia, which meant bed rest. On Sept. 10, 1992, a six-pound, nine-ounce Nick was born.

Foster parents bow out

Being put into a foster home and being told that you are just like their own daughter is powerful. More impacting is having these foster parents tell you they are done fostering and want out of the deal.

Kiera had that experience in 8th grade. Afterward, she got packed up and sent to a different foster home, this time in Gresham. “They had lots of kids. It was that they needed a babysitter for the other foster kids, and I was it.”

Kiera laughs, telling me she constantly listened to the Billy Joel song, “My Life.”

She had an older foster sister, aged 16, who stole and used drugs. “I could have easily gone down that path.”

Her Aunt Jean told her that she was going to be her daughter. Another change in schools. “It was tough, even though I knew Aunt Jean loved me. I really loved music and that what really helped me get through some rough parts.”

She was obsessed with record clubs, and she got into Queen, the Bee Gees, Journey, Cheap Trix and others.

My aunt always encouraged me to work. I babysat and worked at an after-school program for a Montessori School.”

Theater, she says, was a lifesaver for her. She was involved in the Overlook Acting Company that gathered in North Portland. She calls those people “my theater family.”

She also got involved in the Big Sister program. That sister, Lois, paid for a plane ticket to go to Alaska so Kiera could visit Lois’s family. But tragedy struck — her biological father was killed in a sandstorm in Idaho, hit from behind by a semi. Kiera had only been in Alaska two days when she got the news of his death.

She graduated from high school in 1983 at age 17 and went to work for a window treatment company.

More tragedy. Her foster mom was aged 60 when she was diagnosed with an inoperative brain tumor. Kiera took care of Jean for three weeks, before she passed away.

“I’ve been on my own since age 17.”

After she died, an ex-husband of Lois showed and took away the house.

Kiera was working in Beaverton for a dry cleaners, and then the day care center, and landed another job, at an Albertson’s bakery. There, she met a woman whose husband was director of the National Broadcasting School in Portland.

Work, buses from one side of Portland to the other, and this amazing school. She graduated as valedictorian. Her first gig was with KFIR AM/FM in Sweet Home.

It was a country station. “I had grown up on KGON since I was a baby. I was a rock ’n’ roller.”

Country Western music grew on her.

She ended up in an abusive relationship, but he was the father of her son. She ended in a domestic violence shelter in Pendleton. One thing led to another and she drove to Newport, found jobs and a house and ended up at the Shilo Inn as a DJ.

She was in a small trailer up the Alsea River near Waldport, Oregon.

Nick is 28 years old and had his first baby July 2019 with Amelia. Three years ago, Keira and Tony (they were married in 2001) bought a house in Newport Heights.

Kiera’s life is one of struggle, but with plenty of highlights too: working for KZVS-Toledo, KFND, delivering newspapers, retail work for the Chocolate Basket. She also works for KSHL — the Wave, 93.7 FM — doing sales and PSAs.

She and Tony have his son, Nathan, and girlfriend sharing the house with Rocky the cat and two shih tzus.

Her takeaway at the end of the interview:

I want people to feel hope.

Q & A Rapid-fire

PH: What makes you tick inside?

KM: What makes me tick, is work. I am a hopeless workaholic. I like to stay busy and be in touch with what is going on around me.

PH: What do you like about this county, this community?

KM: What I like about Lincoln County and this community is the willingness to help others when they are in need. When the chips are down for someone or an event creates a situation where people need help, like right now, we step up and help.

PH: What advice would you give a young woman who is in a viscous and abusive relationship? The elevator speech.

KM: I would say to a woman in an abusive situation that they should use their best judgement to protect themselves and loved ones. Don’t always believe everything your abuser says. If you can get out and do so safely there are those who can help you recover and get back on your feet. Most of all get counseling!!

PH: What are two big changes you have seen since first moving to Lincoln County almost 30 years ago?

KM: One of the biggest changes I have seen is the effort to help those and a better understanding of homelessness. I think people now realize that those who are homeless are not that way because they are lazy, they are families who work but simply can’t afford high rents and costs of getting into homes or apartments with fees and credit checks. I am also proud of the changes being made to have a better understanding between law enforcement, the community and those who have a mental illness and the work to get them the help they need.

PH: What are the top two issues that need addressing in Lincoln County?

KM: One of the top issues that concerns in Lincoln County, in my opinion, remains the lack of quality child care! Families often can’t afford the high cost of child care so they turn to the next best thing. This is not always a safe choice but when we live in a county that is not a M-F, 9-5 community it leaves parents with little choice. There is an extreme lack of infant care. This makes two parent families choose between only one parent working or having to work opposite shifts, which puts a strain on families. If I have said it once I will say it a thousand times “you can’t have economic development without childcare.” Families need a safe place for their kids to go for them to be able to work, it also defeats the purpose when the parent is working is paying nearly all of their paycheck to childcare. Help from the state or from companies is essential. Homelessness would be the second. There are many options that could be explored that have been done in other areas including creating small house communities, instead of trailer parks that would be managed by programs such as Grace Wins or the programs in Lincoln City.

PH: If you could do some things over in your life, what would they be?

KM: I am old enough now to realize that the mistakes that we make in our lifetime are what helps us to learn and grow as a person and become better. Love and appreciate those you have in your life, as we truly never know when things can change.

PH: What’s your basic life philosophy?

KM: My basic life philosophy is happiness. Do what makes you happy, treat others with the respect and kindness that you would like to be shown.

Interview Most Foul

Imagine this: A so-called presidential historian for a major television network publishes an interview in the most famous newspaper in the world with the most famous singer/songwriter in the world, who has recently written an explosive song accusing the U.S. government of a conspiracy in the assassination of the most famous modern American president, and the interviewer never asks the singer about the specific allegations in his song except to ask him if he was surprised that the song reached number one on the Billboard hit list and other musical and cultural references that have nothing to do with the assassination.

Imagine no more. For that is exactly what Douglas Brinkley, CNN’s presidential historian, has just done with his June 12, 2020 interview with Bob Dylan in the New York Times. The interview makes emphatically clear that Brinkley is not in the least interested in what Dylan has to say about the assassination of the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, whose murder most foul marks in the most profound way possible the devolution of the U.S. into the cesspool it has become. Brinkley has another agenda.

He introduces the interview by sketching in his relationship with Dylan and tells us that he therefore felt “comfortable” reaching out to him in April after Dylan had released his song about the JFK assassination, “Murder Most Foul.”  He conveniently links to a New York Times piece by John Pareles wherein Pareles writes about the surprise song release, “The assassination of John F. Kennedy is its core and central trauma — “the soul of a nation been torn away/and it’s beginnin’ to go into a slow decay” — while Dylan tries to find answers, or at least clues, in music.”

That is simply false – for Dylan emphatically does not try to find answers or clues to JFK’s murder, but boldly states his answer. If you listen to his piercing voice and follow the lyrics closely, you might be startled to be told, not from someone who can be dismissed as some sort of disgruntled “conspiracy nut,” but by the most famous musician in the world, that there was a government conspiracy to kill JFK, that Oswald didn’t do it, and that the killers then went for the president’s brothers.

But neither Pareles or the presidential historian interviewer Brinkley has any interest in Dylan’s answer.  As I wrote five days after the song’s release, it was already clear that the corporate media were in the process of diverting readers from the core of Dylan’s message.

While the song’s release has garnered massive publicity from the mainstream media, it hasn’t taken long for that media to bury the truth of his words about the assassination under a spectacle of verbiage meant to damn with faint praise. As the media in a celebrity culture of the spectacle tend to do, the emphasis on the song’s pop cultural references is their focus, with platitudes about the assassination and “conspiracy theories,” as well as various shameful and gratuitous digs at Dylan for being weird, obsessed, or old. As the song says, “they killed him once and they killed him twice,” so now they can kill him a third time, and then a fourth ad infinitum. And now the messenger of the very bad news must be dispatched along with the dead president.

Brinkley continues this coverup under the guise of promoting Dylan’s upcoming album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, while showing his appreciation for Dylan’s music and his genius and asking questions that emphasize cultural and musical allusions in the new album, and making certain to not allow Dylan’s explosive message any breathing room.

Here is Brinkley’s opening question, the only semi-direct one the presidential historian deems worthy of asking about “Murder Most Foul” and the assassination of an American president.  This question opens the interview and shuts the door on further inquiry.  It is a ridiculous question as well:

Was “Murder Most Foul” written as a nostalgic eulogy for a long-lost time?

To which Dylan responds:

To me it’s not nostalgic. I don’t think of “Murder Most Foul” as a glorification of the past or some kind of send-off to a lost age. It speaks to me in the moment. It always did, especially when I was writing the lyrics out.

Could Brinkley really think he was asking a serious question?  Nostalgia?  What, for a brutal assassination, as Dylan describes it:

Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb

….

Shot down like a dog in broad daylight

….

The day that they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing

No, the presidential historian knew the question wasn’t serious. Did he think Dylan was nostalgic for the bloody murder of a man he calls the king, as he sings the part of Hamlet sending his midnight message of truth and revenge to JFK’s ghost? Of course not. Brinkley was doing what all the mainstream corporate media do: Making sure the truth was hidden behind a stream of pop cultural references and questions that would appeal to the New York Times’ aging readers who are nostalgic for their youth as they contemplate old age and death.

When Dylan answers one of his questions about his recent song, “I Contain Multitudes,” by saying “it is trance writing,” he uses a word that applies to this New York Times’ interview.  It is a trance-inducing interview meant to do what the Times has been doing for nearly six decades: obfuscating the truth about the murder of President Kennedy by the national security state led by the CIA. The same CIA that has always found a most receptive mouthpiece in the Times.

This interview, that begins with a witless question about nostalgia, ends with the question all the aging baby boomer Times’ readers were waiting to hear Brinkley ask Dylan:

How is your health holding up? You seem to be fit as a fiddle. How do you keep mind and body working together in unison?

From nostalgia to health more or less sums up this interview.

Murder be damned – even when Dylan’s song that initiated this interview, “Murder Most Foul,” truly startles and is a redemptive song. For Dylan holds the mirror up for us. He unlocks the door to the painful and sickening truth of JFK’s assassination. He shoves the listener in, and, as he writes in Chronicles, “your head has to go into a different place. Sometimes it takes a certain somebody to make you realize it.”

Bob is that certain somebody.

“What is the truth and where did it go?” he asks.

Brinkley asks other questions to take your head to places where you won’t see a thing.  It’s quite a magic trick.

COVID-19 Pandemic: Time for Bold programs from the Left to Help the People

Fred Magdoff, Professor Emeritus of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont and author of many articles and books on ecology, agriculture and economy, frequent Monthly Review contributor and closely associated with struggles of the working people, discusses the coronavirus pandemic in light of capitalism and agriculture in the following interview conducted on April 2, 2020.

*****

Farooque Chowdhury: Since long, you are telling about and analyzing environment and ecology, and the devastation the capitalist system is doing to these. Today, in view of this coronavirus pandemic, how do you find the situation in view of your analysis?

Fred Magdoff: As capitalist relations permeate the world and as forests are cut down and farming expanding, there is more disturbance of ecosystems that previously had little disturbance and were relatively stable. The lessening of the zones available for wildlife to live apart from humans means that there will be more possibility for diseases to move from wildlife to humans. The new corona virus causing Covid-19 is believed to have moved from bats, possibly through another animal, to humans. In this situation, the market for wildlife for human consumption is apparently part of the story. This is one aspect of capitalism turning everything possible into commodities, including nature. But there is also the possibility of future diseases, especially bacterial ones, originating in factory farms where animals live in crowded and inhumane conditions and routinely fed antibiotics. This has contributed to the widespread development of strains of bacteria that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics. Drug companies try to sell as much of their antibiotics as possible (just like other drugs) — for use in humans or farm animals (or pets). Thus, the profit motive directly leads to the overuse of antibiotics and the growing problem of new antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

FC: In What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism, you and John Bellamy Foster, editor, Monthly Review, singled out the capitalist system as the demonic hand destroying our planet’s environment and ecology, and threatening all life on this planet. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic shows the system’s devastating role in all areas related to life including healthcare, economy, science, nature that encompasses the wild and wild life. The system denies basic primary requirements for life. Now, the people are paying the price with lives. How do you find today’s reality – loss of so many lives, a mass murder scene spanning   continents, due to this pandemic?

FM: This is an example of capitalism’s failings in many ways. One of course, especially in the United States, is the failure of the health care system itself. As the late biologist Richard Levins put it, “Health Service is a commodity, health a by-product.” Hospitals in the U.S. have relatively few beds for patients, at less than 3 per 1000 people they are able to just handle the flow in normal times. There were inadequate stockpiles of supplies and although the national government years ago began a system to purchase thousands of low cost ventilators — now needed in large quantities to deal with this disease that attacks the respiratory system — the program was a failure. As companies involved in the early contracts were bought out by large companies in the continuing process of monopolization, larger firms lost interest in what they viewed as a low profit product. And even to this day, the government has been incapable of developing the needed production capacity not only for ventilators but also for masks and gowns [Personal Protective Equipment] to protect healthcare workers. Literally hundreds of health care workers have gotten sick for no other reason than inadequate protective equipment. And there is no system to date for rational distribution of needed materials to the places of highest need. The situation that we now face in the United States is caused by capitalism, mistakes made in various government agencies, and extreme incompetence at the highest levels of government, including the president. Literally months were lost in beginning to respond to the crisis, especially because of the delay in testing people to see where it was spreading and providing the ability to trace people who had come into contact with those testing positive for Covid-19. To this day, the extent of testing for the virus is inadequate, making it harder to fight the disease. This delay in testing by itself will cause thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of deaths. More people have become ill in the United States than any other country. Deaths due to Covid-19 in the United States have surpassed deaths that have occurred in China. And if trends don’t change very soon the United States will have more deaths than any other country. It is estimated that from 100,000 to 200,000 people may die in the United States under best case scenarios, and this reality is in the richest and most powerful country in the world. This can only happen in a country in which profit comes before health and the government is unwilling to do what was widely known to be necessary to protect the population during a pandemic.

FC: The pandemic-situation the world humanity is facing now is without any precedent. Its full implication is yet to be comprehended. Where is to start to come out of this plethora of death and disease, this system’s indifference to life?

FM: It is not at all clear what society will look like after widespread deployment of an effective vaccine and medicines to treat those with disease. The pandemic will certainly have long-term effects on people, especially those that have lost family and friends to the disease. There will undoubtedly be economic changes, with the larger and stronger companies becoming even larger and more powerful while others go bankrupt. It may take a long time for people to get back to a “normal life” — keeping in mind that “normal life” was not a good life for many people. What will happen to the debts they were not able to pay? What will happen to the people forced out of homes because they couldn’t pay the rent of mortgage? This is certainly a time for bold programs from the left to help the mass of the people survive and recover. The left should push programs that enhance food security for those in need and for universal health care coverage and other social programs like routine paid sick leave from work. Once the economy begins to recover, let’s put people back to work building homes for the homeless and renovating dilapidated schools as well as for other social needs such as fixing other parts of a dilapidated infrastructure.

FC: Thank you for shedding light on today’s burning issues.

 

Do Masks and Respirators Prevent Viral Respiratory Illnesses?

A health professional told me back in March that face masks were ineffective but that respirators (the N95) were. Because of the source, I thought there must be validity to this. However, it seemed counterintuitive. I reasoned that there would be differentials between using any type of mask versus no mask because no mask usage would allow aerosols to penetrate unabated, whereas a mask should capture much of the aerosol and reduce risk of spread to others and presumably should also function to mitigate breathing in viral-laden droplets. Because of the greater density of respirator material, the prophylactic would be reasoned to be greater.

However, what I had not considered was how extremely small the virion was in relation to the porosity of the material in the masks and respirators. I also had not looked at the scientific literature on the subject … until now.

Denis Rancourt, an eminent physics professor, former anarchist, and author, examined the scientific evidence for using face masks and respirators as preventative of contracting respiratory influenza-like disease, or respiratory illnesses believed to be transmitted by minuscule droplets.

What I have noticed is that Rancourt is wedded to the evidence, and he is unafraid to make known his conclusion even though it goes against the mainstream consensus. His article, “Masks Don’t Work: A review of science relevant to COVID-19 social policy,” is Rancourt at his iconoclastic finest. He concludes,

No RCT [randomized control trial] study with verified outcome shows a benefit for HCW [health care workers] or community members in households to wearing a mask or respirator. There is no such study. There are no exceptions.

The virions are super tiny, tinier than the pores in the respirators. Rancourt writes,

if anything gets through (and it always does, irrespective of the mask), then you are going to be infected. Masks cannot possibly work. It is not surprising, therefore, that no bias-free study has ever found a benefit from wearing a mask or respirator in this application.

Rancourt’s article is fascinating and anyone curious abut the efficacy of masks should read it.

*****

Kim Petersen: Recently, American vice-president Mike Pence was criticized for walking around the Mayo clinic accompanied by mask-wearing staff although he did not wear a mask. He excused his refusal to don a mask based on the frequent testing he undergoes, so presumably he would not be a danger to others. Given what the science reveals on mask wearing, how do you view the reaction to Pence’s refusal to wear a mask?

Denis Rancourt: In my article “Masks Don’t Work: A review of science relevant to COVID-19 social policy”, I show that there have been many randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses of RCTs, which were designed to detect any benefit from wearing a mask, in terms of reducing the risk of being infected by a viral respiratory disease.

In the many studies, in which the known bias of self-reporting is eliminated by using laboratory-confirmed infection detection, no statistically meaningful advantage is ever found, in either health-care or community settings, with either surgical masks or N95 respirators. No study, and there have been many, has been able to establish any advantage of wearing a mask or respirator, with viral respiratory diseases.

This means that, even in controlled professional health-care settings, any benefit is too small to be detected by science, and that other factors must be overwhelmingly more important.

Regarding all viral respiratory diseases — which are both known to be transmitted by small aerosol particles (i.e., “droplets” of less than a few microns in diameter) and known to be highly infectious in terms of the so-called minimum-infective-dose (i.e., the number of virions that will likely be sufficient to cause illness or detectable infection) — in plain language, this means “masks don’t work”. (A “virion” is a single virus unit, the RNA and its shell.)

Therefore, any societal debate about the virtue or responsibility of wearing a mask to reduce the risk of infection, whether it involves Pence or anyone else, is occurring in a science vacuum. It is a political and psychological debate, not one that is science-based.

Likewise, no unbiased RCT has ever shown any advantage for a confirmed-infected person to be less likely to transmit a viral-respiratory-disease infection to susceptible (i.e., not immune) persons if the infected person wears a mask.

Studies that show that cough and sneeze droplets are physically intercepted by masks are irrelevant in this regard, because they do not represent the reality of actual person to person transmission, nor do they measure actual transmission.

In my article, which has been read more than 70 K times on Research Gate, I also review what is known about the physics and biology of transmission of this class of diseases. I argue that, on this basis, one should not expect masks to work. Likewise, if masks cannot stop inward transmission (into the lung), then, by the same physics, they cannot stop outward transmission.

However, it is important to distinguish a RCT that evaluates risk of actual person-to-person transmission of confirmed infection, as one class of study, and the necessarily simplistic arguments based on hypothetical scenarios using physics and biology. And the “masks intercept droplets” studies are useless in the relevant context. Masks intended to stop a surgeon’s spit from impacting an incision area are a completely different question.

Coming back to Pence, a face mask is a powerful psychological symbol of submission (to both the invisible disease and any State policy directives), such that it is understandable that many political leaders would not want to wear masks in front of media cameras.

KP: You write that there has been no randomized controlled trial that shows a benefit for anyone (doctors, nurses, regular folks, et al.) wearing a mask or respirator. The reason proffered is because the mask/respirator material is too porous for virion particles. The N95 respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 μm) test particles, but the virion particles (from 0.06 μm to 0.14 μm) (See Na Zhu et al., “A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China,” 20 February 2020, NEJM, 382:727-733.) can pass through.

I am trying to visualize this on a larger scale. If I kick a soccer ball at a chain-link fence, all soccer balls will be blocked. But if I throw a handful of sand at the chain-link fence, almost all grains of sand will pass through. Is this an apt analogy for the mask and the virion?

DR: The many RCTs show no statistically valid benefit from wearing a mask or N95 respirator, and show no differences in RCT comparisons between surgical masks and N95 respirators, regarding risk of infection from this class of diseases. That is a separate question from any hypothetical mechanistic explanation as to why any benefit from wearing a mask would be so small as to be undetected. In other words, that masks don’t work must be discerned from the question of why masks don’t work. The former is a scientific outcome of the studies, irrespective of what we believe or infer about the latter.

Nonetheless, regarding a discussion of the hypothetical mechanisms, one can say the following things:

  • There can be little doubt that the overwhelmingly dominant path of infection is via small aerosol particles of less than approximately 2 microns in diameter.
  • Such a particle can contain many and up to hundreds of virions.
  • One virion is approximately 0.1 microns in size.
  • Such small aerosol particles stay suspended in air in-effect indefinitely, as part of the fluid air; as would virions themselves, subject to chemical adsorption and aggregation.
  • Regarding the masks and respirators, pore-size of the filtering material is not the relevant bottleneck in practice.
  • The seal to the face is never perfect, and the mask is regularly moved by pressure differences, by the user for reasons of discomfort, and by normal facial and operational movements.
  • Inhaled and exhaled air will flow mostly through the paths of least resistance (or fluid impedance): through the breaks in the seal, through the sides of a mask, and though the larger pores or stretches or micro-tears in the filtering material.
  • The minimum-infective-dose is expected to be less that a single small aerosol particle, and can be as little as a single undamaged virion.

Thus, it is not difficult to conclude that mask and respirators should not work, even leaving out the complex particle-mask-material interactions that can occur, mask aging and wear considerations, and so on.

KP: You cite possible harm from dictates requiring the wearing of masks. Could you elaborate?

DR: My answer is in two parts. First, there is potential medical harm to the individual from the wearing of a mask. Second, there is societal and psychological harm from being forced to wear a mask in public.

In one large RCT in Japanese health centers, health-care workers who wore respirators suffered significantly more headaches than the cohort of workers who did not wear respirators. This was a statistically significant outcome. Furthermore, professional health-care workers self-report significant discomfort from wearing respirators, and therefore often adjust them or remove them, contrary to protocol. If healthcare workers, in circumstances in which there is no scientific basis for wearing respirators, suffer headaches and discomfort, then this can only negatively impact the intended health care.

More broadly, the potential health hazards of population-scale extended personal mask use have not been studied. Potential health hazards include such factors as:

  • constriction of breathing itself, including both flow restriction, and recycling of CO2 and vapour-laden breath
  • breathing-in the particles, fibres and chemicals from the mask-material itself, both in a new mask and for aging, used, washed, and sun-bleached masks
  • retention of particulates and adsorbed substances in proximity to the face, which would normally be expelled in the exhaled breath
  • collection, concentration and retention of particulates and adsorbed substances from the environment onto the mask, in proximity to the face
  • reactions of particulates and adsorbed substances on the mask, including shedding of virions or virion-carrying nano-particles from larger mask-captured droplets
  • and so on

Such factors have not been studied, yet population-scale policies of extended mask-wearing are being implemented.

From a societal perspective, what are the consequences of government coercion (“education” and enforcement) to wear masks in public, given that there is no scientific basis for any benefit from mask wearing, in terms of reducing the risk of being infected by a viral respiratory disease?

How is this not an arbitrary application of power, which directly infringes or denies personal freedom? What are the long-term consequences of habituation to arbitrarily applied violations of personal freedom?

The recent scientific study of Hickey and Davidsen (2019) (“Self-organization and time-stability of social hierarchies”) in my view provides a theoretical foundation that such habituation to arbitrarily applied power is part of a progressive degradation towards an extreme totalitarian state, depending on the degree of authoritarianism (whether contestation is effective) and the degree of violence (magnitude of the penalty for disobeying).

We should rollback arbitrary State powers. I would say: If an individual evaluates or believes that a mask constitutes health or privacy or religious protection in public, then the individual should be free to wear a mask, but how can forcing all individuals to wear masks be justified, beyond government pronouncements? Security cannot be based on arbitrarily forced behaviour of everyone. This is the classic recipe for totalitarian rule.

In fact, the present case of pandemic mask laws or policies is a case where a health pretext and stoked fear are being exploited by governments, in a globalized corporate environment in which there are billions to be made from vaccines and other treatments, and where legal liabilities for the treatments have largely been socialized. Regular vaccination, for diseases that have always been kept in check by the human immune system, are a hard method of creating dependence on the State, involving seasonal violations of bodily integrity, which could become forced.

KP: You point a finger at governments, monopoly media, and institutional propagandists for deciding “to operate in a science vacuum, or select only incomplete science that serves their interests.” Which institutional propagandists do you refer to?

DR: The main institutional propagandists here are the arms and legs of the pharma-medical complex, from the WHO and CDC, through the medical schools, to every hospital, research laboratory, clinic, community health center, and doctor’s office. The medical establishment is a major network of the high-priests that structure and control modern society. In their book, “health” is a dependence on the health system, not healthy living conditions, contrary to all the science regarding the determinants of public health. I mean, Pharma and medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the Western world, after heart disease and cancer, and that is not a “pandemic”? It is not even on the radar, except in specialized conferences and journals.

As another example of institutional and professional alignment with top-down directives and recommendations, John Ioannidis showed in 2005 (“Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”) that most of the scientific research that finds marginal benefits for expensive and dangerous treatments is incorrect.

In the case of the on-going COVID-19 saga, several top researchers and experts have broken rank, and these professionals have been profiled in a series of three articles in Off-Guardian, for example. Generally, these contrarians who insist on practicing science, have been avoided by the mainstream media, and have had to be featured in the alternative media, and on YouTube. John Ioannidis and Knut Wittkowski are just two of the names that stand out for me.

KP: Given that the conclusion of your review of meta-analyses is accurate, why would so many health care professionals, who presumably have been trained in evidence-based practice, disregard the absence of evidence for the efficacy of masks and respirators?

DR: It is a myth that medicine is an evidence-based practice. This myth is propagated by the medical establishment. It has never been the case in the history of medicine, and it is not the case today. In practice, medicine is whatever the profession can get away with and profit from.

From a political perspective, the public-relations statement about being “science-based” is a propagandist mantra applied in training those initiated into the profession. It is designed to deliver legitimacy in the public’s mind and among other professions, and means that the profession will attack, destroy or capture competitors that are not in the profession, such as homeopaths, nutritionists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, psychologists, councillors, life coaches, etc.

There is a large litigation record of this reality. If you litigate against or attempt to discipline an MD or a medical specialist for a practice that is not science based, then you find that the in-court or administrative-tribunal argument will never be about the science itself or whether a scientific basis exists. None of the actual medical researchers will be called as expert witnesses, and they would be seen as irrelevant and thus inadmissible. Instead, a complete defence will be based on whether or not the hired expert witnesses for the defendant will be of the opinion that the impugned practice is within the spectrum of actual practice in the field, irrespective of whether there is a scientific basis. In order to win, you will need to prove that the impugned act or practice is egregiously contrary to what is generally done or officially recommended by a certifying body; again, irrespective of any scientific-basis consideration. “Scientific basis” is given lip service, nothing more.

For example, when a drug or procedure is convincingly and unavoidably proven to be unacceptably harmful after being put into practice, and this harm is reported in the mainstream media, and there is organized public outcry, then the practice is changed but no practitioners are ever found to have been at fault. This means that the practitioners are not responsible to evaluate and establish a scientific basis for their prescriptions and treatments. They are only bound to do what one does in the profession. If mechanical ventilators are the treatment for critical COVID-19 patients, then we kill those patients with those mechanical ventilators until the proverbial shit hits the fan (“New study finds nearly all coronavirus patients put on ventilators died,” The Hill, 23 April 2020).

The history, to this day, of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is exhibit-one regarding the extent to which medical practice is distinct from any scientific basis. The said Manual is the pseudo-scientific organizational pretext for a large pharmaceutical project of managing the mind, which relies on heavy-handed “precautionary” prescriptions, made by any army of medical practitioners. For example, see Gary Greenberg (2013) (The Book of WOE: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry).

I could go on for days. Coming back to the masks, medical commentators, like politicians, will say whatever seems advantageous at the time, in terms of propping up their own legitimacy and popularity, and in terms of avoiding public-perception liability. If it is politically risky to recommend masks, then masks are out, and there is no evidence that they work. If it becomes risky to go against masks, then masks are in, and we must all do our part to protect those who are most vulnerable, etc.

KP: Since there is evidence that viruses flourish during dry periods, might the use of a humidifier be a recommended preventative measure during seasons when humidity is low?

DR: There is conclusive evidence that viral respiratory diseases and flu-like diseases predominantly propagate via small aerosol particles, which are stabilized in dry air, and that this is why these diseases are seasonal in mid-latitude regions. The reproduction number, R0, can vary four-fold during a season, in accordance with absolute humidity of the atmosphere. This oft-confirmed discovery was initiated with the landmark work of Shaman et al. (2010).

Closed buildings such as hospitals, residences for the elderly, and day-care centers are proven to have large densities of virion-laden aerosol particles suspended in the air, in the dry season. In addition, air-flow has been shown to play a role regarding transmission, in restaurants and airplanes.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable to examine the use of controlled absolute humidity, and air-flow management in critical facilities housing many persons at risk of severe complications if infected. A high humidity would in-principle draw-out virtually all the aerosol particles, by condensation, particle growth, and gravitational removal. In principle, what was an environment of high-density of aerosol particles, would become an environment of low-density of aerosol particles. Only a true RCT comparative study, with laboratory-confirmed infection determinations, could demonstrate whether such measures can be effective.

The Endless Cruelty of US Sanctions: The US Interception of Chinese Medical Supply to Cuba

Enhanced transcript on an interview with PressTV

Background

Cuba complained recently that a shipment of test kits, masks and respirators, donated by the Chinese Alibaba group, didn’t arrive because the American company tasked with transportation feared breaching U-S sanction rules. Washington imposed an embargo on Cuba in 1962 after the island nation nationalized its oil industry. The measures have been denounced by the United Nations 28 years in a row.

PressTV:  What are your views on this?

Peter Koenig:  First, there are no words to describe the cruelty of this and many other similar acts by the United States, to utilize this pandemic to tighten the screws even more on sanctioned countries like Cuba and Venezuela and Iran, and many others, by blocking vital medical supplies from reaching these countries’ medical staff and hospitals to treat patents. The blockage of this medical supply may cause even more deaths from a virus that most likely originated in the US.

But did you know that this worldwide pandemic was planned for years, and its last step before it was launched was Event 201, sponsored by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (created and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation), by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Economic Forum, the club of the ultra-oligarchs that meet every January in Davos, Switzerland.

The event took place on October 18, 2019, in New York City and produced a number of pandemic simulations, exactly with a corona virus which, for the simulation strangely and coincidentally, was called 2019-nCoV. Later the name was changed by WHO into COVID-19. The result of the simulation produced 65 million deaths in 18 months, a stock market collapse of more than 30% and an insane number of unemployment and bankruptcies. What we are living now is exactly that; in fact, we are seeing just the tiny top of the iceberg.

This was a planned worldwide destruction of the socioeconomic fabric and all that depends on it. It was an attempt of the few powerful on top of the pyramid — the Dark Deep State — to plunge the bulk of the world population into a never before seen misery, and, of course, as always, it will affect poor countries more than the rich.

Having said this, the illegal US blockage of Cuba for almost 60 years, which we all know is inhuman and cruel and against all international laws and standards.

The UN has voted against this illegitimate blockade against Cuba for almost 30 years in a row. Of the 193 UN members, 191 voted against the continuation of the blockade. The exceptions were the US and Israel.

This entire world body voting against the US sanctions represents more than 99% of the world population. Yet, it does nothing against the US and its sanctions and embargos on Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, China, Russia, North Korea – and many more. Currently about 30% of the world population are affected in one way or another by US sanctions. Why doesn’t the entire world collectively sanction the US?

I know, this is a pipe dream. But it’s a possibility. Especially now that the world economy is about to collapse because of the draconian measures almost every government of the globe has taken to fight the corona virus. We have literally created “planet lockdown”. Now that we may enter into an entire new socioeconomic paradigm, is the time for the 99.9% of the population, to apply the shock doctrine in reverse. It would be the moment for the 191 countries of the UN body to take control and start sanctioning the US, until the ruthless empire becomes a normal respectable nation.

PressTV Question:  In December 2014 Obama initiated the “Cuban Thaw” and in July 2015 reestablished diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana. What happened after that?

PK:  First, I think we have to see this new “overture” by Obama like many other initiatives he took — a dishonest move. It foremost was to put officially US spies and US propaganda agents into the newly reopened US Embassy, because the loosening of the embargo was never part of the deal. There was not even a plan when that might happen.

Then came Trump, a ferocious anti-socialist, anti-everything-that-is-not capitalist fanatic. He also immensely dislikes Obama and wanted to undo as much as possible of what Obama managed in his eight years at the helm in Washington. So, instead of talking about the next steps of loosening the embargo, as the Cubans rightly expected, Trump tightened the screws on the sanctions invoking the strengthening of the Helms-Burton act. This US federal law is a mere strengthening of the sanctions and embargo against Cuba.

Then under a ridiculous pretext that Cuba poisoned US embassy staff with an unidentifiable hearing disease, Washington withdrew almost all staff from the Embassy. But the official Cuban Washington relation is still on the records, and the Embassies nominally in place.

Since then, Trump and his various advisors and spokespeople have repeatedly declared that President Trump will not tolerate any socialism in the world, and especially not in “his” Hemisphere; that he will eradicate Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as we know them. That has so far not happened. We’ll see. These countries’ resistance is much stronger than the Trump ideologues are capable of imagining.  So much for the Obama “opening” to Cuba.

Covid-19 is a Sign of our Fate if We Do Not Take Radical Action

In the backdrop of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Michael D. Yates, decades-long union activist, director of Monthly Review Press and former Associate Editor of Monthly Review magazine, discusses condition of the working people and steps required. The interview of Professor Michael Yates, whose academic fields include labor economics and the relationship between capital and labor, was taken on March 28, 2020.

Farooque Chowdhury: For a long time, you have been working with unions, as an organizer, educator, and negotiator. Your works on class and labor are significant. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the working people in countries, from Thailand, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh to Italy, Spain, United States, in countries in Africa, have been paying the price most. Already unemployment and uncertainties are staring in the faces of millions of the working people. We’ve seen the unprecedented exodus of hundreds of thousands of the working people running away in hoards, jumbling like animals, from Mumbai and New Delhi, from Dhaka. They stuffed trains in Mumbai, as if the people were goods being transported. They embarked on a hundreds of kilometers journey by walking starting from New Delhi. Among them were children, thirsty, tired. Later, authorities provided buses to carry them to their rural homes in the eastern parts of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. They were fleeing from hunger, not from the pandemic. You are well aware of the condition the U.S. working classes are going through. In late-March, a teenage boy who tested positive for COVID-19 died in Lancaster, California, after being denied service at an urgent care center because he did not have health insurance. The system appears like a disjointed machine coming to a sudden, crushing halt. How do you find the condition of the working classes in this pandemic situation, when capital’s first job is to slaughter the working people?

Michael D. Yates: The United States is being led by monsters who care not at all for the working people. Their deaths won’t matter a bit to criminals like Donald Trump and his government of boot-lickers and money-grubbers. Trump says that the U.S. was made for people to get back to work. In other words, to be exploited and now subject to disease and death. Some of his supporters have even said that older people like myself should be willing to die so that the economy can get moving again. We know that rich people, the capitalists who run the country, won’t be sacrificing their lives. They will be in isolated luxury and will get the very best medical care. While workers will get a measly $1,200 and some extra unemployment compensation, if they are lucky, the big corporations will have access to over 4 trillion dollars in bailout monies. We see that healthcare workers, grocery store employees (of whom my son is one, risking his health every day), construction workers, and many others do not have adequate or any safety clothing and equipment. And the millions now unemployed will soon enough run out of what little money they have. We can be assured that draconian laws and other measures will be and are being put in place now in case workers begin to rebel. And I am not even mentioning the homeless and the imprisoned, including all the detained immigrants. They are at greatest risk and will die in large numbers from the virus. These insane things are happening in the world’s richest countries. I can only imagine the horror stories in poor countries, where a few billion people live desperate lives in the best of times.

The really sad thing here in the U.S. is that there are working people who support Trump, who think the Covid-19 threat is a hoax or not that serious, who are all too ready to blame foreigners and other countries.

There are unions and working-class organizations doing what they can to combat the crisis. Just not enough. There are poor homeless mothers who are occupying abandoned houses so that they have shelter. Food banks and the like are being organized. All to the good. But too many years of stagnation of the labor movement and right-wing propaganda have taken a toll.

FC: The capitalist system’s deity – profit – always takes toll from the working classes. The forms vary – appropriate, unlivable environment in the working people’s habitats, slash public healthcare system and fatten private healthcare industrial complex, increase funds for scientific research for military purpose while neglect medical research for public health. It has enslaved science, medical science, natural science with the task of super-accumulation of capital. Habitats of the working people are inhuman pits of sufferings. This has not basically changed since Engels penned the scene in his famous work on the condition of the working class in England. How do you find today’s reality the working people are facing in countries due to this pandemic?

MY: The reality today in the U.S. is as you describe it. So many things are striking. Capital has since the 1970s more and more infiltrated all aspects of our lives and all parts of the world. There has been little effective movement to stop this, as even the social democratic governments of Europe have succumbed to the neoliberal program of continuous austerity and become ever more craven to the needs of capital. In the UK, for example, there was once a very fine national healthcare system. But decades of government cutbacks have eroded its effectiveness and scope. Today, the National Health Service has about 100,000 unfilled vacancies. In the US, the system is much worse. Working people typically have no or completely inadequate health insurance, and therefore millions suffer health problems that could and should have been corrected. Not many workers belong to unions anymore, so union-negotiated healthcare is not available to them. The very poor are in dire health. Hospitals are run as businesses with a focus on cost-cutting. This includes university-run hospitals. Public hospitals are mostly reserved for the poor, so, while healthcare workers in them are caring and competent, these hospitals are sadly lacking in needed supplies. Private hospitals are run on a just-in-time basis, so that there is no inventory of extra beds, and other critical supplies. Hence, the lack of ventilators, beds, masks, etc. As for science, pharmaceutical companies don’t find it profitable to do research on drugs that would combat the new viruses. So they don’t do such research. There is little public alternative as the government has been pretty much captured by capital, which wants no competition from the government. Scientists are often, though not always, just corporate workers willing to do capital’s bidding. We know of a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, who did excellent research on the heart, who has spent his years after winning the prize accumulating enormous wealth and engaging in the promotion of dubious products. Now, we see businesses and their scientists fighting to make money from the virus. Remember that the two scientists who developed the polio vaccine, Salk and Sabin refused to seek patents for the vaccine, believing that it belonged to the people. Sounds almost unbelievable today.

FC: Factories in countries are shuttering down in the face of the pandemic ravaging countries. This is one sort of demobilization of the working people. Unions are facing unexampled situation. How to face this unprecedented situation arising out of the pandemic while capital is putting the burden on labor – deaths silencing societies, squeezed down bargaining space, indefinite choice between disease, death and hunger?

MY: This is indeed a daunting task. One thing people like myself can do is disseminate as much information as possible, in an accessible way understandable by working people. Point out the lies of the ruling class. Importantly, show people counter examples to what is going on here. Make people aware, for example, of the remarkable biomedical advances made in Cuba. Ask why the drugs developed there are not available here. Point out the valiant acts of solidarity shown by Cuban doctors and medical workers around the globe. Encourage collective measure by workers aimed at caring for their own communities. Encourage mass strikes to improve matters, especially basic needs like health.

I hope that the experience of working-class people during this pandemic will serve as a giant wake-up call, shining a light on the irrational, body and soul-destroying elements of life as we have known it. For example, if governments say there can be no home evictions, that workers have a right to some money to stave off starvation, if people cannot be charged for virus tests and treatment, and this sort of thing, then maybe they will begin to think that rents, slaving away at meaningless jobs, that lack of healthcare, are really stupid. And that why should these things ever be tolerated? Believe me, the ruling class will be a harsh master when this is over. It will be up to us to fight against and overcome whatever they do.

FC: World humanity has never faced such a situation. What’s the way-out by the working people, through their unions and political organizations?

MY: The answer to the previous question addresses this in part. I will add here that in the end, capitalism is at the root of this pandemic. The spread of global agribusiness, the tremendous destruction of forests for such agriculture (and mining plus other capitalist ventures), the development of complex global supply chains that link the nations of the Global South and Global North have set the stage for this pandemic and others, perhaps worse, to come. Nature with its complexity and breadth once stopped these pandemics or limited them to small areas. What this means is that what has been done by capital must come to an end, sooner rather than later. Nothing less will bring us health and better lives overall. Only democratic socialism has any chance at all to stop the multiple plagues now assaulting us. If we don’t embark upon a radically new path, we are doomed. Covid-19 is but a sign of our fate if we do not take radical action.

FC: Thank you for discussing the devastating situation working people are encountering today, and the steps that are now required.

  • MR Online posted the interview on April 12, 2020.
  • Soleimani’s Assassination: An Act of Psychological Warfare

    Douglas Valentine believes that assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani is an act of psychological warfare which allows Trump to deflect attention from the impeachment scandal and appease his American and Israeli followers.

    Douglas Valentine is the author of The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World. His rare access to CIA officials has resulted in portions of his research materials being archived at the National Security Archive, Texas Tech University’s Vietnam Center and John Jay College.

    He has written three books on CIA operations, including the Phoenix Program: America’s Use of Terror in Vietnam, which documented the CIA’s elaborate system of population surveillance, control, entrapment, imprisonment, torture, and assassination in Vietnam. His new book describes how many of these practices remain operational today. in an extensive interview with Parsi Policy, Valentine explained that assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani is an act of psychological warfare.

    *****

    Mostafa Afzalzadeh: In many countries, it is the intelligence communities that actually run and control the governments. What is the role of the intelligence services, especially the CIA, in the United States?

    Douglas Valentine: The US government officially spends $50 billion a year on intelligence. Much of that is on “foreign” intelligence but nowadays, it’s impossible to determine where foreign intelligence ends and domestic intelligence begins. Especially in regard to psychological warfare aimed at the American people by its own government. Psychological warfare — the shaping of beliefs, and thus political and social movements — is the most highly prized and effective of all intelligence operations.

    The process of converting “intelligence” gained on foreign adversaries into policy relies on an impenetrable barrier of secrecy. As Guy Debord said, secrecy dominates this world, foremost as the secret of dominance. This highly restricted process of access to information allows politicians, intel bureaucrats and their corporate partners in the arms industry 1) to turn Lies into Truth and 2) gobble up the lion’s share of the US budget, at the expense of the general welfare of the citizens. This means the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and the poor never have any idea what’s really happening.

    For example, as we now know, the Iraq War was based on a Big Lie, and the War in Afghanistan has been based entirely on a Big Lie for 18 years. But no one bats an eye, and there’s no unified mass movement to make the government tell the truth, because the relentless psy-war that permeates public discourse creates a paranoid war culture where killing imaginary threats is venerated as the highest virtue. Americans believe America must always be the superior force, the dominator, and the intelligence agencies create the fictions that keep the “Dream Machine” churning.

    We face the ultimate danger now. Trump, the abusive stud personified, with the help of Fox News and other right wing news outlets, has manipulated public distrust of “fake news” and a “deep state” to effect a Fascist coup. No one knows disinformation from misinformation anymore thanks to Trump.  Many people, as a result, even believe the inherently fascist CIA and military are opposing Trump. Whether you believe the Big Lies or manage to see through them, we’re all powerless prisoners within of the Spectacle – the contrived Great Delusion.

    Trump has INCREASED the military budget, CIA operations are ever expanding. Trump has not impeded the military or intelligence establishments.

    MA: At some point in the Syrian crisis, it was said that the CIA was planning to launch a fictitious attack together with white helmets to launch a chemical strike against the Syrian people so that get the Trump administration to start a war on Syrian government. To what extent can the CIA operate outside the command and supervision of the US President?

    DV: You assume the Trump administration did not want to get involved. And that’s a mistake.  Like all administrations, the Trump admin has “stated” policies that satisfy its political base, and it has “unstated” policies that are necessary to satisfy the Establishment. The CIA conducts Trump’s “unstated” policies. Trump runs the CIA and it cannot defy him, even if he portrays it as a renegade. That’s Double Speak and it is part of the cover story.

    The CIA and military have “long range” strategic plans in place.  For example, the military has 800 bases around the world to ensure that US corporations have access to foreign markets, and that the US military dominates the world. Trump will not close these military bases because they are in the economic and national security interests of the US and he wants the economy to do well. He closed one base in Syria to appease Turkey, but he kept the US military forces in Syria.

    Trump has INCREASED the military budget — there are as many Navy warships patrolling the oceans, and as many warplanes flying over foreign nations, and as many nuclear weapons aimed at Russia and China as ever.  In fact, there are more. Same with intelligence operations. CIA operations are ever expanding. Trump has not impeded the military or intelligence establishments. He has merely made charges against individual members of the military, CIA and FBI to secure his control over the minds of American citizens. The Empire marches on.

    MA: What was the reason for Trump’s clash with US security agencies, especially the CIA, and the lack of recognition of reports given to the president at the beginning of his presidency?

    DV: As I said, it’s an illusion. He is the president, the Commander in Chief, he runs the security agencies. He tells them what to do and they salute and do it. Some members of the security agencies suspect Trump of being a wannabe dictator and a Russian agent. It’s also thought that he laundered money for the Jewish branch of the Russian mafia starting as early as the mid-1980s. And it’s possible he did, wittingly or unwittingly, as part of a long range CIA operation designed to install corrupt oligarchs in the USSR as part of a strategic plan to corrupt and subvert the USSR.

    Trump is exactly the sort of greedy hustler the CIA would use in such an operation. If it is true, then Trump is a protected person who is blackmailing the CIA. The CIA can’t reveal that he worked for them in this illegal operation involving drug money. Nothing about his relationship with the CIA could ever be made public. Many CIA employees may object to a freak of nature like Trump lording it over their agency.  But no one who knows could ever tell.

    MA: During the Obama administration, the CIA appears to have been more active in assassinating and sabotaging programs towards Iran than in the Trump administration, activities like the Stuxnet and assassinating Iranian scientists. The measures are said to have taken place with the participation of the Mossad intelligence agency. In your opinion these actions in the Trump administration has become less? If so, why?

    DV: That appears to be true, in part. Iranian scientists were murdered. But Trump has not reduced economic warfare and psy-war operations against Iran. He sabotaged the nuclear agreement and isolated the nation. And I believe he has gotten the MOSSAD more deeply involved in US intelligence operations, domestically as well as overseas in Iran.  Witness his relationship with Netanyahu and his status as a hero in Israel, which considers Iran an existential threat.  I could elaborate, but it’s all speculation.

    MA: Few years ago, various publications wrote about Michael D’Andrea, who was in charge of Iran in the CIA, please described how capable this person is and how capable he is to act out of the general structure of CIA against Iran?

    DV: I cannot comment on D’Andrea. I do know the CIA hires psychopaths capable of committing any crimes, and then puts them in charge of operations like the ones D’Andrea ran and is currently running.

    MA: In the Obama administration, a person named David Cohen went to the CIA from the Treasury Department. To what extent can the CIA play a role in sanctions against Iran?

    DV: It plays a defining role. As I mentioned, it conducts unstated policy. It has secure lines of communication with the Iranian government and can negotiate terms of any settlement without the media or other part of the government knowing.

    It can secretly through agents inside the Iranian program and through electronic intercepts determine what Iran is doing, from Iran’s strategic plans to the details of its nuclear program. That’s intelligence. It can also disrupt whatever Iran is doing through a variety of methods.

    The assassination is meant to terrify the leaders in Iran and deter them from attacks against Americans and Israelis.

    MA: Why did Trump go against his previous practice and directly assassinate the Iranian authorities?

    DV: I absolutely disagree that the assassination is a departure from Trump’s policy. I have no idea why you would say that. Trump is on record saying he believes in assassination, including killing the families of his targets. Plus which drone strikes, which are the primary instrument of CIA selective terror and assassination, have increased under Trump.

    MA: What would be the consequences of such a decision for the US government?

    DV: Trump’s assassination of a High Value target is an act of psychological warfare, in this case aimed primarily at the US public and Israeli public. 1) It allowed Trump to deflect attention from the impeachment scandal. 2) It assured his American and Israeli followers that he is predatory, with the willingness to kill without remorse.

    It is also an act of selective terror directed at Iran.  The assassination is meant to terrify the leaders in Iran and deter them from attacks against Americans and Israelis.

    MA:  Thanks for your time.

  • First published at Parsi Policy.