Saturday, October 25, 2014

yale team projects 90,000 deaths in one liberian county alone by mid-december


thelancet |  A substantial scale-up in public health response is needed to control the unprecedented Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in west Africa. Current international commitments seek to expand intervention capacity in three areas: new EVD treatment centres, case ascertainment through contact tracing, and household protective kit allocation. We aimed to assess how these interventions could be applied individually and in combination to avert future EVD cases and deaths.

Methods - We developed a transmission model of Ebola virus that we fitted to reported EVD cases and deaths in Montserrado County, Liberia. We used this model to assess the effectiveness of expanding EVD treatment centres, increasing case ascertainment, and allocating protective kits for controlling the outbreak in Montserrado. We varied the efficacy of protective kits from 10% to 50%. We compared intervention initiation on Oct 15, 2014, Oct 31, 2014, and Nov 15, 2014. The status quo intervention was defined in terms of case ascertainment and capacity of EVD treatment centres on Sept 23, 2014, and all behaviour and contact patterns relevant to transmission as they were occurring at that time. The primary outcome measure was the expected number of cases averted by Dec 15, 2014.

Findings - We estimated the basic reproductive number for EVD in Montserrado to be 2·49 (95% CI 2·38—2·60). We expect that allocating 4800 additional beds at EVD treatment centres and increasing case ascertainment five-fold in November, 2014, can avert 77 312 (95% CI 68 400—85 870) cases of EVD relative to the status quo by Dec 15, 2014. Complementing these measures with protective kit allocation raises the expectation as high as 97 940 (90 096—105 606) EVD cases. If deployed by Oct 15, 2014, equivalent interventions would have been expected to avert 137 432 (129 736—145 874) cases of EVD. If delayed to Nov 15, 2014, we expect the interventions will at best avert 53 957 (46 963—60 490) EVD cases.

Interpretation - The number of beds at EVD treatment centres needed to effectively control EVD in Montserrado substantially exceeds the 1700 pledged by the USA to west Africa. Accelerated case ascertainment is needed to maximise effectiveness of expanding the capacity of EVD treatment centres. Distributing protective kits can further augment prevention of EVD, but it is not an adequate stand-alone measure for controlling the outbreak. Our findings highlight the rapidly closing window of opportunity for controlling the outbreak and averting a catastrophic toll of EVD cases and deaths.

Funding - US National Institutes of Health.

Friday, October 24, 2014

please help a brotha out: wtf feed talkin-bout?


withintheblackcommunity |  Remember that compliment I gave to you when I was in Ethiopia last week about your handling of the Ebola situation?

I was in the airport in South Africa when I streamed your video of the (White) lady and I noticed that SINCE she was ONLY talking about "Ebola" from the perspective of the DEFENSE OF THE UNITED STATES and AMERICAN POLITICS - and didn't GIVE A DAMN about the condition of West Africans - that her views - affirmed by you - must represent YOUR VIEWS.

Please allow me to take my compliments about your handling about Ebola back.

I didn't understand your "riddle" of a response at the time.

But now everything seems perfectly clear.

My ALL ENCOMPASSING theory is:

1) IT IS IRRELEVANT WHO (which entity) created the Ebola virus and set it loose in West Africa - the symbolic homeland that the AMERICANIZED NEGRO was stolen away from through American Chattel Slavery

2) The ONLY thing that matters is the COMPETENCIES to DEFEND AGAINST this "Genetic Warfare Agent" on the ground where it is ravaging the people, their HOPE and their INSTITUTIONS

3) The key distinguishing feature of MY "Conspiracy Model", however, is my inspection of the REACTIONS BY THE AMERICANIZED NEGRO:

*** After years of bringing up the "Fidel/Che (Cuba) went to Africa to fight White supremacy and provide medical care - the AMERICAN COUP IN LIBYA and related CIA insurgency and Drone bombings did not compel these same operatives (your buddy Dr Spence for example) to protest the most recent American actions - defining the personas of "good and evil" as they did in the past.

********INSTEAD when "EBOLA" came to bear -THEN they spoke up about "Africa" and the "Cubans sending medical doctors to fight in Africa"

*** After HURRICANE KATRINA in which the HUDDLED MASSES of the Americanized Negro was presented for the world to see at the "SuperDome" and "The Morial Convention Center" this crisis was framed as AMERICAN (Right-Wing Government) benign Neglect

******YET to-damned-day WHEN the Americanized Negro heard that up to 1.4 MILLION AFRICANS might be dead by February 2015 - THIS WAS NOT POWERFUL ENOUGH of a bit of INFORMATION to have the NEGRO LEADERS suspend their AMERICAN CAPITALISTIC POLITICAL OPPORTUNISTIC CAMPAIGNING for the American Mid-Term Elections in which they vow - via LIFE AND LIMB to defeat the WHITE RIGHT-WING ENEMY - and look across the SLAVE TRADE ROUTES of the ATLANTIC at the DESPERATE NEED OF THEIR "BLACK ANCESTORS"

***********The very same ancestors that Dr Henry Louis Gates induced them to purchase a DNA CHEEK SWAB TEST to determine their "West African Slave Ancestry"

*********** EXCEPT THIS TIME they turned away from the NEEDS OF THEIR ANCESTORS as they were watching MSNBC/DailyKOS/Thing Progress who themselves was watching FOX NEWS for OFFENSIVE COMMENTS against AFRICANS and AMERICANIZED NEGRO - that they would syndicate in order to keep the NEGRO IN AMERICA TRAINED ON "RACISM CHASING" - .........

****** ThumbnailRATHER THAN AWARE that after 50 years of VOTING FOR HIS SALVATION - their CONSUMER STATUS makes them INCOMPETENT to provide ONE DAMNED BIT OF STRUCTURAL ASSISTANCE to the people in West Africa.

In driving down Highway 74 in Georgia 20 minutes ago I saw a NEGRO IN A MASERATI . NO less than a $120,000 car.

This as the entire nation of Liberia has 10 ambulances for a population of 1.5 million.

THERE IS NO EFFORT AMONG THE AMERICANIZED NEGRO to purchase 100 Ford 150 trucks on the African continent.

50% of them to pick up EBOLA INFECTED LIVE HUMAN BEINGS for transport to the medical station.

50% of them to take away DEAD AFRICAN BODIES so they won't infect the rest of the population.
But a few weeks ago when I listened to a Radio One station I did hear Rick Ross say that he has a 12 cylinder vehicle that he only drives on certain days because of its color scheme.

THIS IS WHAT THE YOUNG NEGROES IN DETROIT are being INDOCTRINATED WITH.

SO I ASK YOU, CNU - "Occupy Wall Street Supporter" when you hear a "Niomi Klein type character attacking CAPITALISM - do YOU envision in your mind that she is ALSO talking about BLACK CONSUMER CAPITALISTIC EXPLOITATION - which - because it is seen as INFERIOR - is left unchecked to attack the NEGRO in a manner worse than a SUBPRIME LONE FROM COUNTRYWIDE MORTGAGE?

Naomi Klein: "All corporate capitalism is bad EXCEPT the version practiced by the Americanized Negro - whose songs are played 90% of the time in South Africa BECAUSE they are progressive allies. Beyonce, Jay-Z and 50 Cent are too valuable to our movement in compelling the Negro to vote for PROGRESSIVISM, unlike the Koch Brothers. "

the ebola epidemic in West Africa has U.S. biowarfare programs written all over it.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you believe him?

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

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

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

gain of function...,


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

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

Opponents of this type of research, called gain of function — for example, attempts to create a more contagious version of the lethal H5N1 avian influenza to learn which mutations made it that way — were elated.

“Brilliant!” said Peter Hale, the executive director of the Foundation for Vaccine Research, which opposes such experiments. “The government has finally seen the light. This is what we have all been waiting for and campaigning for. I shall sleep better tonight.”

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

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

future time orientation gone wild


salon |  This bizarre friggin’ case, which an Orange County grand jury is starting to unravel, isn’t just about a squabble between business partners. Ghoulish apartheid-era germ warfare experiments in South Africa are part of the story, and stashes of explosives and deadly germs and illegal firearms. Weighing the evidence available so far, it’s not clear whether Ford was a player in an evil international plot or just a brainy fruitcake dabbling in danger. But this much is clear: In the person of Larry Ford, someone’s big dreams found a refuge in Irvine, down where the megalopolis meets the desert and where, to paraphrase Raymond Chandler, the hot Santa Ana winds send housewives reaching for kitchen knives while they eye the backs of their husbands’ necks. 

Ford isn’t the first of his type. In the past few years, the biotech gold rush has churned up some strange characters, several of them medical men like Ford. At the University of California at Irvine Medical Center, with which Ford himself was affiliated for a while, a doctor sold donor organs for profit, a researcher put a radioactive substance on a colleague’s chair and Ricardo Asch, the fertility doctor, was losing so much money on his racehorse that he intermingled his patients’ embryos to improve his success rates. 

Ford himself doesn’t seem to have cared about money. He was apparently motivated by some twisted ideology and some genuine altruism, a nostalgia for apartheid, perhaps (he had ties to the old South African military), along with a dream of stopping AIDS with the product he’d designed, a vaginal suppository, or microbicide, that kills germs spread by sex. But in the land of the fast buck, in an era in which doctors become biotech millionaires overnight, greedy characters glom onto the Larry Fords of the world — the big-thinking science guys, the could-be-geniuses — like a cloud of sweet poison. And sometimes they get a lot more than they bargained for. 

The police insist that Riley’s shooting was a sideshow to the main events in the conspiracy. According to what Riley told police, he and Ford stood to make a lot of money from a new product, separate from the microbicide, which, citing commercial reasons, neither Riley nor other company officials will discuss. Money alone may have been enough reason for Ford, or one of his seamy pals, to take Riley out. Luckily for Riley, it was a botched job. 

The bullet ripped through Riley’s lip and gashed a cheekbone, causing flesh wounds light enough for him to be back at work within a few weeks. The bullet ricocheted into the window of a bank, and as the people inside turned their heads they saw a guy in a face mask run through the courtyard to the back parking lot. Then he just stood there — 15, maybe 20 seconds — until a van pulled up with its sliding back door open and the hitman dove into it. A fast-thinking bank manager got the license-plate number. 

The van belonged to Ford’s tax accountant, a Peruvian-born Altadena, Calif., businessman by the name of Dino D’Saachs. A witness told police he heard D’Saachs talking to a private eye named Glen Morales about “taking somebody out,” but Morales, a big dude with a blown-out back, didn’t meet the description of the shooter, who is still at large, according to Ray. D’Saachs was taken into custody right away, though. Ford was also a suspect — phone logs and other evidence linked him to D’Saachs the day of the crime — but he wouldn’t talk. 

On March 2, three days after the shooting, Ford killed himself. The suicide note claimed he was innocent of the attempted murder, but added that there was information hidden in the house of interest to the police. Only, when the note got to the part about where that information was hidden, it was illegible — “doctor’s handwriting,” police said. Or maybe it was just part of Ford’s last joke, which was to leave a tangle of clues to an existence that’s still largely a mystery. 

To be sure, a few of the more bizarre statements that police gathered about Ford, and subsequently used to get search warrants, simply haven’t been confirmed. For starters, there was the bit about the “white chimpanzees.” According to an affidavit by an Irvine police office, later unsealed by a judge, Ford and Valerie Kessler, his assistant and lover, drugged and had sadomasochistic sex with young women they referred to as the “white chimpanzees.” Then there was the report from a “reliable informant” that Ford “had a long history of treating female patients who ended up suffering multiple long-term illnesses ranging from cancer to abdominal infections,” and allegations of “longstanding unauthorized medical experiments on unwitting patients by infecting them with unknown germs.”

oh my..., the rabbit-hole has turned up a mother-lode


belfasttelegraph |  Why did Graham Coe, the detective who found Dr Kelly's body, not tell Hutton that there was a third suited man with him and his partner DC Colin Shields when the body was discovered, as some eyewitnesses had suggested. Why has he subsequently admitted this? And why does he refuse to name him?

How did Dr Kelly cut his left wrist if, as friends said, he had damaged his right arm to such a degree that he struggled cutting steak?

Why was the ulnar artery severed rather than the radial, which is how the cut would "naturally" have been made, from left to right, with the right hand? Could this suggest the cut was made by a third person?

Why were there no fingerprints on the knife when Dr Kelly was not wearing gloves? Nor on the bottle from which he supposedly drank to swallow the tablets? Why was that fact not disclosed to Hutton, but only later through a Freedom of Information request?

Why did the helicopter which passed over the scene with heat-seeking equipment not detect the body soon after death – a piece of information obtained using the Freedom of Information Act five years after the Hutton Inquiry ended?

What explains the discrepancy between the account of the position of the body given by the dog handler who discovered it and the paramedics when they arrived? Did someone move the body? Did Dr Kelly die where his body was found?

Why did the head of the investigation into Dr Kelly's death, Superintendent Alan Young of Thames Valley Police, not give evidence to Hutton?

Did the police and three officers from MI5's Technical Assessment Unit strip the wallpaper at Dr Kelly's home in the hours after he was reported missing – but before his body was found? Had Dr Kelly written 40,000 words of a book on Iraq and biological warfare which they took away? Where are his computers now?

Why did Lord Hutton place a 70-year embargo on release of the post-mortem documents?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

who ebola sitrep


WHO | Ebola Response Roadmap Situation Report 15 October 2014

A total of 8997 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in seven affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States of America) up to the end of 12 October. There have been 4493 deaths.

Data for epidemiological week 41 are incomplete, with missing data for 12 October from Liberia. This reflects the challenging nature of data gathering in countries with widespread and intense EVD transmission. These challenges remain particularly acute in Liberia, where there continues to be a mismatch between the relatively low numbers of new cases reported through official clinical surveillance systems on one hand, and reports from laboratory staff and first responders of large numbers of new cases on the other. Efforts are ongoing to reconcile different sources of data, and to rapidly scale-up capacity for epidemiological data gathering throughout each country with widespread and intense transmission.

It is clear, however, that the situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is deteriorating, with widespread and persistent transmission of EVD. An increase in new cases in Guinea is being driven by a spike in confirmed and suspected cases in the capital, Conakry, and the nearby district of Coyah. In Liberia, problems with data gathering make it hard to draw any firm conclusions from recent data.

There is almost certainly significant under-reporting of cases from the capital Monrovia. There does appear to have been a genuine fall in the number of cases in Lofa district, but a concerted effort will be required to sustain that drop in cases and translate it into an elimination of EVD in that area. In Sierra Leone, intense transmission is still occurring in the capital Freetown and the surrounding districts.

Of the countries with localized transmission, Nigeria and Senegal are now approaching 42 days since the date of last potential contact with a probable or confirmed case. Both Spain and the United States continue to monitor potential contacts.

the ebola done partying in december



motherboard | Part of the allure of epidemiology is being able to describe and predict highly dynamic outbreaks with simple, clean mathematical models. But how close can models really get to perfectly mapping the spread of disease? 
Modeling how disease spreads early in an outbreak is a major challenge as sample sizes remain low and variables high. But a recently-developed method of making short-term outbreak projections called the IDEA model has shown promise, and is even doing an excellent job of tracking the current Ebola outbreak.
"If validated, the implications of such a finding may be profound," wrote the model's creators in an open-access 2013 paper in PLOS One, "e.g., the ability to project, with a high degree of accuracy, the final size and duration of a seasonal influenza outbreak within 2 weeks of onset."
The graph above shows how the model is faring with the current Ebola outbreak. So far, it's nearly perfect. If the IDEA model continues to predict the epidemic with the same accuracy, we can expect Ebola to start burning out in December, with a total of 14,000 cases. Currently, according to the CDC there are or have been 8,400. We have a ways to go

the ebola: flying the friendly skies


WSJ | While a number of researchers are modeling the spread of Ebola in West African countries besieged by the deadly virus, a group led by Alessandro Vespignani at Boston’s Northeastern University has used air traffic connections to explore how the disease might spread to the rest of the world.
The study, published last month in PLOS Currents: Outbreaks, simulated the number of passengers traveling daily from West Africa to other parts of the world in an effort to quantify the risk of the disease spreading Ebola internationally.
The short-term probability of the virus spreading to countries outside of Africa, the researchers concluded, is small; however, if the current outbreak isn’t contained, the chances of it spreading internationally will increase.

strict texas law protects medical-industrial egregores from patients and employees...,



observer |  One of the unexpected lessons from the Ebola cases in Dallas may well be how thoroughly Texas protects hospitals—and their insurance companies—from answering for critical lapses in care.
When Thomas Eric Duncan entered the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s emergency room on Sept. 25 with a fever and complaining of stomach pain, there’s a chance that proper treatment might have saved him from the Ebola virus that would kill him 13 days later. Instead, the Liberian man was sent home with only painkillers and antibiotics. Duncan’s family and his fiancĂ©e are haunted by the question of whether Duncan might have survived had he been properly diagnosed. Executives at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital have admitted to mistakes and apologized to Duncan’s family.

But should Duncan’s family members seek more than an apology, and ask the courts to hold the hospital accountable for its missteps, they won’t find much recourse under Texas law. Neither will the nurses who contracted Ebola while treating Duncan, apparently for a time without sufficient safety gear, nor will anyone who might have contracted the virus from them later.

Thanks to a number of Texas court decisions and laws—including a sweeping 2003 Republican-led tort reform effort—lawyers say it’s unlikely that Presbyterian faces serious legal risk from the Ebola cases or others like them. Even if the hospital were found liable in court, the damages would be limited. Without the threat of expensive litigation, critics of tort reform argue, hospitals face little consequence for turning away sick, uninsured patients, even ones with Ebola.

The Dallas Morning News has reported that Duncan’s family members are considering a lawsuit against the hospital. The first challenge they would face is probably the greatest: proving that Duncan ever had a better-than-even chance of survival once he’d contracted the virus. With Ebola’s global mortality rate estimated recently at 70 percent, doctors and hospitals are probably safe from ever answering for even the most blatant malpractice against an Ebola patient. That’s not necessarily true in states where courts have adopted what’s known as a “loss of chance” doctrine allowing lawsuits even when the chance of survival is under 50 percent. But Texas’ courts have consistently shut the door to that possibility, ruling that if a patient was likely to die, then the hospital can’t be held liable for malpractice.

If there were a way past that barrier, Duncan’s family would face the same obstacles any other patient has since Texas’ 2003 tort reform law took effect. The law requires emergency room patients to prove not just negligence on the part of hospital staff but “willful and wanton” negligence. That “emergency room standard” is one of a few changes introduced in the tort reform law that raised the standard for lawsuits against hospitals. Another section of the law, related to hospitals’ responsibility for credentialing dangerous doctors, has protected another Dallas-area hospital from litigation over a dangerous Dallas neurosurgeon who killed two patients and paralyzed four others in a series of botched surgeries.

u.s. hospitals weigh withholding care to ebola patients...,


reuters |  The Ebola crisis is forcing the American healthcare system to consider the previously unthinkable: withholding some medical interventions because they are too dangerous to doctors and nurses and unlikely to help a patient.

U.S. hospitals have over the years come under criticism for undertaking measures that prolong dying rather than improve patients' quality of life.

But the care of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, who received dialysis and intubation and infected two nurses caring for him, is spurring hospitals and medical associations to develop the first guidelines for what can reasonably be done and what should be withheld.

Officials from at least three hospital systems interviewed by Reuters said they were considering whether to withhold individual procedures or leave it up to individual doctors to determine whether an intervention would be performed.

Ethics experts say they are also fielding more calls from doctors asking what their professional obligations are to patients if healthcare workers could be at risk.

U.S. health officials meanwhile are trying to establish a network of about 20 hospitals nationwide that would be fully equipped to handle all aspects of Ebola care.

Their concern is that poorly trained or poorly equipped hospitals that perform invasive procedures will expose staff to bodily fluids of a patient when they are most infectious. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with kidney specialists on clinical guidelines for delivering dialysis to Ebola patients. The recommendations could come as early as this week.   
The possibility of withholding care represents a departure from the "do everything" philosophy in most American hospitals and a return to a view that held sway a century ago, when doctors were at greater risk of becoming infected by treating dying patients.

"This is another example of how this 21st century viral threat has pulled us back into the 19th century," said medical historian Dr. Howard Markel of the University of Michigan.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

the unselfconscious irony of bioweapons-creating pots gassing about decapitating kettles...,


guardian |  Considered as a broad moral category, what Margalit defines as radical evil is not uncommon. The colonial genocide of the Herero people in German South-West Africa (now Namibia) at the start of the 20th century was implemented against a background of ersatz-scientific racist ideology that denied the humanity of Africans. (The genocide included the use of Hereros as subjects of medical experiments, conducted by doctors some of whom returned to Germany to teach physicians later implicated in experiments on prisoners in Nazi camps.) The institution of slavery in antebellum America and South African apartheid rested on a similar denial. A refusal of moral standing to some of those they rule is a feature of societies of widely different varieties in many times and places. In one form or another, denying the shared humanity of others seems to be a universal human trait.

Describing Isis’s behaviour as “psychopathic”, as David Cameron has done, represents the group as being more humanly aberrant than the record allows. Aside from the fact that it publicises them on the internet, Isis’s atrocities are not greatly different from those that have been committed in many other situations of acute conflict. To cite only a few of the more recent examples, murder of hostages, mass killings and systematic rape have been used as methods of warfare in the former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Rwanda, and the Congo.

A campaign of mass murder is never simply an expression of psychopathic aggression. In the case of Isis, the ideology of Wahhabism has played an important role. Ever since the 1920s, the rulers of the Saudi kingdom have promoted this 18th-century brand of highly repressive and exclusionary Sunni Islam as part of the project of legitimating the Saudi state. More recently, Saudi sponsorship of Wahhabi ideology has been a response to the threat posed by the rise of Shia Iran. If the ungoverned space in which Isis operates has been created by the west’s exercises in regime change, the group’s advances are also a byproduct of the struggle for hegemony between Iran and the Saudis. In such conditions of intense geopolitical rivalry there can be no effective government in Iraq, no end to the Syrian civil war and no meaningful regional coalition against the self-styled caliphate.

But the rise of Isis is also part of a war of religion. Nothing is more commonplace than the assertion that religion is a tool of power, which ruling elites use to control the people. No doubt that’s often true. But a contrary view is also true: politics may be a continuation of religion by other means. In Europe religion was a primary force in politics for many centuries. When religion seemed to be in retreat, it renewed itself in political creeds – Jacobinism, nationalism and varieties of totalitarianism – that were partly religious in nature. Something similar is happening in the Middle East. Fuelled by movements that combine radical fundamentalism with elements borrowed from secular ideologies such as Leninism and fascism, conflict between Shia and Sunni communities looks set to continue for generations to come. Even if Isis is defeated, it will not be the last movement of its kind. Along with war, religion is not declining, but continuously mutating into hybrid forms.

Western intervention in the Middle East has been guided by a view of the world that itself has some of the functions of religion. There is no factual basis for thinking that something like the democratic nation-state provides a model on which the region could be remade. States of this kind emerged in modern Europe, after much bloodshed, but their future is far from assured and they are not the goal or end-point of modern political development. From an empirical viewpoint, any endpoint can only be an act of faith. All that can be observed is a succession of political experiments whose outcomes are highly contingent. Launched in circumstances in which states constructed under the aegis of western colonialism have broken down under the impact of more recent western intervention, the gruesome tyranny established by Isis will go down in history as one of these experiments.

The weakness of faith-based liberalism is that it contains nothing that helps in the choices that must be made between different kinds and degrees of evil. Given the west’s role in bringing about the anarchy in which the Yazidis, the Kurds and other communities face a deadly threat, non-intervention is a morally compromised option. If sufficient resources are available – something that cannot be taken for granted – military action may be justified. But it is hard to see how there can be lasting peace in territories where there is no functioning state. Our leaders have helped create a situation that their view of the world claims cannot exist: an intractable conflict in which there are no good outcomes.

that magic orange grease though....,


farmingpathogens |   There’s something fishy about the bushmeat narrative of Ebola.

In August we explored the way the story internalizes the outbreak to local West Africans. It’s part of the ooga booga epidemiology that detracts from the circuits of capital, originating in New York, London and elsewhere, that fund the development and deforestation driving the emergence of new diseases in the global South.

But in addition, and not unconnected, there’s something missing from the model’s purported etiology. Indeed, Ebola may have almost nothing, or only something tangentially, to do with the bushmeat trade.

In this new commentary just published in Environment and Planning A, a team of ecohealth scientists of which I’m a part proposes Ebola emerged out of a phase change in West Africa’s agroecology brought about by neoliberal development.

We hypothesize more specifically that the pathogen arose as oil palm, to which Ebola-bearing bats are attracted, underwent a classic case of creeping consolidation, enclosure, commoditization, and proletarianization that at one and the same time curtailed artisanal production and expanded the human-bat interface over which Ebola traffic likely increased.

Explorations of such structural causes, the heart of the matter, have largely been shelved before they’ve begun. The emergency response, or lack thereof, has moved front and center. Both eminently understandable and opportunistically convenient. The failure to address upstream causes produces the crisis that becomes another way of avoiding such a discussion.

The tension manifests in some striking ways, with many veiled allusions to structural sources of the outbreak but few open declarations. It’s as if scientists and first responders are expected to talk about the outbreak’s origins without using anything more than generalities, careful euphemisms and pointed ellipses, avoiding offending funding sources whose capital accumulation helped drive the outbreak in the first place.

surprise, surprise..., the firestone rubber plantation stopped ebola in its tracks


CDC |  On March 30, 2014, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) of Liberia alerted health officials at Firestone Liberia, Inc. (Firestone) of the first known case of Ebola virus disease (Ebola) inside the Firestone rubber tree plantation of Liberia. The patient, who was the wife of a Firestone employee, had cared for a family member with confirmed Ebola in Lofa County, the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia during March–April 2014. To prevent a large outbreak among Firestone's 8,500 employees, their dependents, and the surrounding population, the company responded by 1) establishing an incident management system, 2) instituting procedures for the early recognition and isolation of Ebola patients, 3) enforcing adherence to standard Ebola infection control guidelines, and 4) providing differing levels of management for contacts depending on their exposure, including options for voluntary quarantine in the home or in dedicated facilities. In addition, Firestone created multidisciplinary teams to oversee the outbreak response, address case detection, manage cases in a dedicated unit, and reintegrate convalescent patients into the community. The company also created a robust risk communication, prevention, and social mobilization campaign to boost community awareness of Ebola and how to prevent transmission. During August 1–September 23, a period of intense Ebola transmission in the surrounding areas, 71 cases of Ebola were diagnosed among the approximately 80,000 Liberians for whom Firestone provides health care (cumulative incidence = 0.09%). Fifty-seven (80%) of the cases were laboratory confirmed; 39 (68%) of these cases were fatal. Aspects of Firestone's response appear to have minimized the spread of Ebola in the local population and might be successfully implemented elsewhere to limit the spread of Ebola and prevent transmission to health care workers (HCWs). 

Firestone Liberia, Inc. is an affiliate of Firestone Natural Rubber Company, LLC, a division of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., that operates rubber tree plantations in Liberia. The original plantation was established in 1926 by the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. The company harvests natural rubber and wood from a plantation area of approximately 120,000 acres (185 square miles) in the Firestone District of Margibi County (Figure 1). The populations of Margibi County and Firestone District are 238,000 and 69,000, respectively (Government of Liberia 2014 population estimates). Employees and their dependents reside within 121 communities inside the Firestone plantation. Nearly 16,000 students matriculate at 27 schools operated by Firestone. Although Firestone manages the plantation, the area is accessible to non-company residents from surrounding communities and includes roadways permitting passage of people and commerce.

Firestone operates a referral hospital, two clinics, and seven health posts, with 181 health care providers within the plantation area. The main hospital has an emergency department, labor and delivery department, intensive care unit, and 170-bed routine inpatient capacity with an additional 130-bed surge capacity for both adult and pediatric patients. Health posts are located within housing communities and staffed by non-physician primary care providers who reside in those communities. Firestone also operates a mobile medical unit that follows a daily route through the plantation area and surrounding communities. Firestone's reported health care catchment population of roughly 80,000 includes employees, retirees, dependents, and the residents of the densely populated surrounding communities in Margibi and Montserrado counties. Firestone provides perinatal care (representing 70% of all deliveries at Firestone's main hospital), routine vaccinations, primary care through the mobile medical unit, and emergency care for members of the communities surrounding Firestone's plantation area. The total number of patient visits to Firestone facilities averages nearly 5,500 per month.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

trust issues start early and pervade, corrode, and undermine to create castes in america


Washington Post | America is the land of opportunity, just for some more than others.
That's because, in large part, inequality starts in the crib. Rich parents can afford to spend more time and money on their kids, and that gap has only grown the past few decades. Indeed, economists Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane calculate that, between 1972 and 2006, high-income parents increased their spending on "enrichment activities" for their children by 151 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to 57 percent for low-income parents.
But, of course, it's not just a matter of dollars and cents. It's also a matter of letters and words. Affluent parents talk to their kids three more hours a week on average than poor parents, which is critical during a child's formative early years. That's why, as Stanford professor Sean Reardonexplains, "rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students," and they're staying that way.
It's an educational arms race that's leaving many kids far, far behind.
It's depressing, but not nearly so much as this:
Even poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong. Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves. You can see that in the above chart, based on a new paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's annual conference, which is underway.

trust issues: u.s. biowarfare laboratories in west africa are the origin of the ebola epidemic in west africa


ICH |  Could Ebola Have Escaped From US Bio-warfare Labs? American law professor Francis A. Boyle, answers questions for tvxs.gr and reveals that USA have been using West Africa as an offshore to circumvent the Convention on Biological Weapons and do bio-warfare work. Is Ebola just a result of health crisis in Africa - because of the large gaps in personnel, equipment and medicines - as some experts suggest?

That isn’t true at all. This is just propaganda being put out by everyone. It seems to me, that what we are dealing with here is a biological warfare work that was conducted at the bio-warfare laboratories set up by the USA on the west coast of Africa. And if you look at a map produced by the Center of  Disease Control you can see where these laboratories are located. And they are across the heart of  Ebola epidemic, at the west coast of Africa. So, I think these laboratories, one or more of them, are the origins of the Ebola epidemic.

US government agencies are supposed to do defensive biological warfare research in these labs. Is there any information about what are they working on?

Well, that’s what they tell you. But if you study what the CDC and the Pentagon do… They say it is defensive, but this is just for public relation purposes than anything. It’s a trick. What it means is what they decide at these bio-warfare labs. They say, “well we have to develop a vaccine”, so that’s their defensive argument. Then what they do is to develop the bio-warfare agent itself. Usually by means of  DNA genetic engineering. And then they say, “well to get the vaccine we have to develop the bio-warfare agent” - usually by DNA genetic engineering - and then they try to work on the vaccine. So it’s two uses type of work. I haven’t read all these bio-warfare contracts but that’s typical of the way the Pentagon CDC has been doing this since at least the 1980’s. I have absolute proof from a Pentagon document that the Center of Disease Control was doing bio-warfare work for the Pentagon in Sierra Leone, the heart of the outbreak, as early as 1988. And indeed it was probably before then because they would have had to construct the lab and that would have taken some time. So we know that Fort Detrick and the Center for Disease Control are over there, Tulane University, which is a well-known bio-warfare center here in USA - I would say notorious for it - is there. They all have been over there.

In addition, USA government made sure that Liberia, a former colony of  the USA, never became a party to the Biological Weapons Convention, so they were able to do bio – warfare work over there - going back to 1980’s - the USA government, in order to circumvent the Biological Weapons Convention. Likewise, Guinea the third state affected here - and there is an increase now – didn’t even sign the Biological Weapons Convention. So, it seems to me, that the different agencies of the US government have been always there try to circumvent the Biological Weapons Convention and engage bio-warfare work. Indeed, we had one of these two lab bio-warriors admit in the NY Times that they were not over there for the purpose of either screening or treating people. That’s not what these labs are about. These labs are there in my opinion to do bio-warfare work for different agencies of the US government. Indeed, many of them were set up by USAID. And everyone knows that USAID is penetrated all up and down by the CIA and CIA has been involved in bio-warfare work as well.

Are we being told the truth about Ebola? Is that big outbreak began all of a sudden? How does it spread so quickly?

The whole outbreak that we see in the west coast of Africa, this is Zaire/Ebola. The most dangerous of five subtypes of Ebola. Zaire/Ebola originated 3500 km from the west coast of Africa. There is absolutely no way that it could have been transmitted 3500 km. And if you read the recently published Harvard study on the DNA analysis of the west Africas’ Zaire/Ebola there is no explanation about how the virus moved there. And indeed, it’s been reported in the NY Times that the Zaire/Ebola was found there in 1976, and then WHO ordered to be set to Porton Down in Britain, which is the British equivalent to Fort Detrick, where they manufacture all the biological weapons for Britain. And then Britain sent it to the US Center for Disease Control. And we know for a fact that the Center for Disease Control has been involved in biological warfare work. And then it appears, at least from whatever I’ve been able to put together in a public record, that the CDC and several others US bio-warriors exported Zaire/Ebola to west Africa, to their labs there, where they were doing bio-warfare work on it. So, I believe this is the origins of the Zaire/Ebola pandemic we are seeing now in west Africa.

Why would they do that?

Why would they do that? As I suggested to try to circumvent the Biological Weapons Convention to which the US government is a party. So, always bio-warriors do use offensive and defensive bio-warfare work, violating the Biological Weapons Convention. So effectively they try to offshore it into west Africa where Liberia is not a party and Guinea is not a party. Sierra Leone is a party. But in Sierra Leone and Liberia there were disturbances which kept the world from really paying attention of what was going on in these labs.

USA sent troops to «fight» Ebola. What do you think about that move?

The US military just invaded Liberia. They send in the 101st Airborne Division to Liberia. That’s an elite division of combat and they have no training to provide medical treatment to anyone. They are there to establish a military base in Liberia. And the British are doing the same in Sierra Leone. The French are already in Mali and Senegal. So, they’re not sending military people there to treat these people. No, I’m sorry.

trust issues: florida dengue outbreaks and bioweapons research...,


truthout |  It appears highly unlikely that any "detective work" performed by the CDC and Florida health officials will unearth evidence of dengue fever being imported into Florida, but that evidence certainly exists. Prior to the recent Key West findings and still today, the CDC has consistently reported that there have been no outbreaks of dengue fever in Florida since 1934 and none in the continental US since 1946. This report is incorrect.

Unknown to most Americans is that dengue fever has been the intense focus of US Army and CIA biological warfare researchers for over 50 years. Ed Regis notes in his excellent history of Fort Detrick, "The Biology of Doom," that as early as 1942 leading biochemists at the installation placed dengue fever on a long list for serious consideration as a possible weapon. In the early 1950s, Fort Detrick, in partnership with the CIA, launched a multi-million dollar research program under which dengue fever and several addition exotic diseases were studied for use in offensive biological warfare attacks. Assumably, because the virus is generally not lethal, program planners viewed it primarily as an incapacitant. Reads one CIA Project Artichoke document: "Not all viruses have to be lethal ... the objective includes those that act as short-term and long-term incapacitants." Several CIA documents, as well as the findings of a 1975 Congressional committee, reveal that three sites in Florida, Key West, Panama City and Avon Park, as well as two other locations in central Florida, were used for experiments with mosquito-borne dengue fever and other biological substances.

The experiments in Avon Park, about 170 miles from Miami, were covertly conducted in a low-income African-American neighborhood that contained several newly constructed public housing projects. CIA documents related to its top-secret Project MK/NAOMI clearly indicate that the mosquitoes used in Avon Park were the Aedes aegypti type. Specially equipped aircraft, in one of the larger experiments, released 600,000 mosquitoes over the area. In one of the Avon Park experiments, about 150,000 mosquitoes were dropped in paper bags designed to open upon impact with the ground. Each bag held about 1,000 insects. Besides dengue, some of the mosquitoes were also carrying yellow fever.

Avon Park residents, still living in the area, say the experiments resulted in "at least 6 or 7 deaths." One elderly resident told Truthout, "Nobody knew about what had gone on here for years, maybe over 20 years, but in looking back it explained why a bunch of healthy people got sick quick and died at the time of those experiments." Interestingly, at the same time experiments were conducted in Florida, there were at least two cases of dengue fever reported among civilian researchers at Fort Detrick in Maryland.

A 1978 Pentagon publication, entitled "Biological Warfare: Secret Testing & Volunteers," reveals that the Army's Chemical Corps and Special Operations and Projects Divisions at Fort Detrick conducted "tests" similar to the Avon Park experiments in Key West, but the bulk of the documentation concerning this highly classified and covert work is still held by the Pentagon as "secret." One former Fort Detrick researcher says the Army "performed a number of experiments in the area of the Keys," but that "not all concerned dengue virus."

In 1959, Fort Detrick launched its largest mosquito experiment called Operation Bellwether, consisting of over 50 field experiments. Some of these experiments, designed to ascertain the "rate of biting" and "mosquito aggressiveness," were conducted in partnership with scientists with the Rockefeller Institute in New York, where scientists bred their own strain of mosquitoes. Some of the Bellwether experiments were conducted in Florida, as well as in other states, including Georgia, Maryland, Utah and Arizona.

The 1978 Pentagon publication, along with two other Chemical Corps reports, reveal the identities of a number of the companies and institutions that assisted the Army in its offensive biological warfare experiments: Armour Research Foundation (1951-1954); the Battelle Memorial Institute (1952-1965); Ben Venue Labs, Inc. (1953-1954); University of Florida (1953-1956); Florida State University (1951-1953); and the Lovell Chemical Company (1951-1955).

In the spring and summer of 1981, Cuba experienced a severe hemorrhagic dengue fever epidemic. Between May and October 1981, the island nation had 158 dengue-related deaths with about 75,000 reported infection cases. Prior to this outbreak, Cuba had reported only a very small number of cases in 1944 and 1977. At the height of the epidemic, over 10,000 people per day were found infected and 116,150 were hospitalized. At the same time as the 1981 outbreak, covert biological warfare attacks on Cuba's residents and crops were believed to have been conducted against the island by CIA contractors and military airplane flyovers. Particularly harmful to the nation was a severe outbreak of swine flu that Fidel Castro attributed to the CIA. American researcher William H. Schaap, an editor of Covert Action magazine, claims the Cuba dengue outbreak was the result of CIA activities. Former Fort Detrick researchers, all of whom refused to have their names used for this article, say they performed "advance work" on the Cuba outbreak and that it was "man made."

trust issues: um, er, ah..., why the pentagon deploying domestically, redundantly, to address these "issues"?


zerohedge |  President Obama may have been busy golfing this weekend, and his brand new Ebola Czar may have had more pressing matters to attend than the White House's Saturday evening meeting on the US "response to domestic Ebola cases" (because clearly the Ebola Czar is superfluous at such Ebola-related events), but that doesn't mean that the administration will once again be caught with its pants down the next time an Ebola index patient is unveiled on US soil. Nope. 

In taking a page right out of America's response to the Ebola pandemic in... West Africa, where the US has dispatched several thousands troops to do, something, unclear what, earlier today, it was revealed that the U.S. military is forming a 30-person "quick-strike team", which according to CNN is "equipped to provide direct treatment to Ebola patients inside the United States, a Defense Department official told CNN's Barbara Starr on Sunday."
The team will be under orders to deploy within 72 hours at any time over the next month, the official said.  The Department of Health and Human Services requested the military team, and the Pentagon has given verbal approval, the official said.

The team will include five doctors, 20 nurses and five trainers, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

The Pentagon has been working to determine what assistance it could offer the civilian health care sector following a White House meeting last week during which President Barack Obama said he wanted a more aggressive response, according to two Defense officials.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered chief of the Northern Command, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, "to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States," Kirby said.

Jacoby is already working with the military on the joint team, Kirby said, and once formed, it will head to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for up to seven days of training in infection control and personal protective equipment. The training, provided by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, will begin "within the next week or so," Kirby said.

The team will remain in "prepare-to-deploy" status for 30 days, he said. It will be able to respond anywhere in the U.S. if "deemed prudent by our public health professionals," he said.
To summarize: the Pentagon, as in the US army, will provide direct treatment to Ebola patients.
So just how exactly is the US army's crack 30-person "SWAT" team which has a whopping 5 doctors, more competent to deal to deal with what is, at last check, a medical situation than, say, America's medical professionals? Or is, in the parlance of our times, where an "Iraq military advisor" really means crack commando fighting Syrian troops on the ground on behalf of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, "direct treatment" merely a euphemism for something far less enjoyable? 

For the partial answer to some of these questions, please read "Public Health Emergency Declared In Connecticut Over Ebola: Civil Rights Suspended Indefinitely, and also "Obama Mobilizes National Guard, Army Reserves To Fight Ebola" - they serve as a good starting point for where all of this is ultimately headed.

trust issues: u.s. army withheld promise from germany that ebola and marburg wouldn't be weaponized...,


rt |  The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus - among other related diseases - would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.
German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate's Economics Office (Econoff), "seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens."

Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.

"This matter concerns the complete genome of viruses such as the Zaire Ebola virus, the Lake Victoria Marburg virus, the Machupo virus and the Lassa virus, which are absolutely among the most dangerous pathogens in the world,"
the request notes.

The Zaire Ebola virus was the same strain of Ebola virus which has been rampaging through West Africa in recent months.

"The delivery would place the recipient in the position of being able to create replicating recombinant infectious species of these viruses," the cable notes.

However, it also points out that Germany has in place an "exceptionally restrictive policy," adding that approval would not be granted to the export until US assurance was provided.

"A decision about the export has not yet been made. Given the foregoing, we would appreciate confirmation that the end use certificate really is from the Department of the Army and of the accuracy of the data contained therein," the document stated.

There is no follow-up document available to confirm whether the US Army eventually provided Germany with the necessary guarantees.

Bioweapons were outlawed in the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and was signed and ratified by 179 signatories, including Germany, the US and Russia.

It dictates that signatories, "under all circumstances the use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons is effectively prohibited by the Convention" and "the determination of States parties to condemn any use of biological agents or toxins other than for peaceful purposes, by anyone at any time."

@phx - trust issues start early and pervade, corrode, and undermine the total school experience



thisamericanlife | Chana Joffe - A few weeks after JJ was first suspended, Tunette took him to a birthday party. And this is where, at this point, remember, I'm feeling really low on myself, I guess my parenting skills. And so I go to this birthday party. And it's for his friend, one of his little friends.
And all the parents are kind of talking, all the women parents. And we're talking about the preschool. And some of them are saying things that they like and don't like and all these different things. And then I said, well, JJ's been suspended. And they were like, suspended? And I'm like, yeah.
And they said, they suspend kids? They were shocked. And I said, absolutely. I said, he's been suspended, and I started telling them all the things that he had done.

And then one parent's like, I wonder why my kid hasn't been suspended. And I'm like, hm? What? So then she says, well, my son, he hit this kid on purpose, and they had to rush that kid to the hospital, and all I got was a phone call. And I was like, hm. And one after another, they kept telling me different stuff-- my kid did this, my kid did that, my kid bit somebody, my kid-- all these things.

And my kids, they're all the same age, all the same class. And only JJ had been sent home. So I was like, what is going on? That's when I thought to myself, something is not right.
Chana Joffe -The other parents were white at this birthday party?

Tunette Powell -The other parents were white. It was three other parents and myself. And they were white. And where we live, the majority of the kids are white.

And I'm not a person who does that, oh, everything's against black people, or I don't wake up and look for situations where there's discrimination or racism or any of that. So I wasn't-- oh, they're just doing this because my kids are black. I had no reason to believe that. After that birthday party, it forced me to consider it.
Chana Joffe - After the birthday party, Tunette's younger son, Joah, got suspended. Joah was three, though just barely three. He'd just had his birthday that week.

Tunette writes for a local Omaha parenting blog called Momaha. She wrote a post with the headline, "Is My Black Preschooler Just Another Statistic?"

I reached out to the preschool. And they did not want to comment or even allow me to talk to the director of the school. But Tunette's post got picked up by the Washington Post. And she started getting dozens of messages, especially from black parents, all over the country.
Tunette Powell In every part, every little sector, just saying that this has happened to me, and I thought I was by myself.
Chana Joffe -Tunette was very much not by herself. This is not a new conversation for lots of black and Latino parents noticing that their kids seem to be punished more harshly than white kids. That's not new.
What is new is that some academics and activists have been taking these stories and attaching them to a new, provocative term-- "the school-to-prison pipeline." The idea is that what's happening to Tunette's son is happening to lots of kids of color all over the country. And once those kids are old enough, the excessive punishment in school really messes them up and makes them much more likely to wind up in prison.

Monday, October 20, 2014

the systemic roots of a global pandemic


collapseofindustrialcivilization |  Over the ages, a number of empires have exploited and looted the resource-rich lands of Africa. At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from Scotland in the northern hemisphere to the deserts of Africa in the south. The Romans stripped their North African territory of its trees, making it their breadbasket of grain production. Originating in central Africa, malaria was likely spread to the center of the Roman Empire on their cargo ships. Passengers on their boats could have carried malaria in their bloodstream before becoming symptomatic, and water barrels on board could have harbored mosquito larvae. In fact, the DNA work of Dr. Robert Sallares has proven that the most lethal form of malaria helped topple ancient Rome. Fast forwarding to today, the blow-back from industrial agriculture and transnational corporate land grabs in Africa has now reached the shores of the hegemonic American Empire in the form of a deadly tropical disease called Ebola.

The Roman Empire seized fertile African land by brute force, but in modern times capitalist industrial civilization takes over Third World countries with the stroke of a pen. Structural adjustment loans by such tools of western power as the IMF and World Bank are signed requiring privatization of the economy and government cuts in social spending. Vast tracks of forests are cleared for mining or monoculture crop production such as palm oil. Subsistence farmers are dispossessed of their ancestral lands and forced to migrate to cities in search of work. Deprived of adequate healthcare and the opportunity to earn a livable wage, these urban poor live in squalor and are driven to hunt in the surrounding forests for a cheap source of protein known as bushmeat. Fruit bats, a keystone environmental species, have been identified as an Ebola virus host that has spread the disease through bushmeat consumption, habitat destruction, and human encroachment. Thus the neoliberal agenda of ‘developed’ nations has acted to create the atmosphere from which this pandemic arose.

Due to the long history of exploitation by outside powers, native Africans are justifiably wary and prone to conspiracy theories involving intervention by Western institutions as well as their own governments which have been, to a great degree, corrupted by the resource curse. These unpleasant facts are, of course, never mentioned by the MSM because it might spark a flicker of moral compunction in the ‘developed’ world which has ended up with so much of Africa’s wealth in the form of rare earth minerals used inside electronic devices, gold and diamonds in jewelry, or petrol pumped into vehicles. The horrific realities behind conflict minerals are always kept out of sight and out of mind by the next consumer diversion.

ferguson, the foreclosure crisis, and america's hedge-fund landlords


billmoyers |  The events in Ferguson last month laid bare many of the tensions that are simmering in America. In areport for The New York Times’ Dealbook, Matthew Goldstein adds another to the list: Americans are still reeling from the 2008 fiscal meltdown, the resulting crash in the housing market and monied interests taking advantage in minority neighborhoods like Ferguson’s.

Nationally, 17 percent of homeowners are underwater — they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are actually worth. In Ferguson, that figure sits at 50 percent. Because so many homeowners are struggling, the town is ripe for institutional investors — often hedge funds or private equity groups on the coasts, thousands of miles away — to buy up homes, then rent them to low-income tenants. And that’s what has happened. Investment firms are responsible for roughly a quarter of all recent housing purchases in the town.

Goldstein profiled two Ferguson families renting from one Los Angeles-based investment firm, Raineth Housing:

Housing advocates worry about what will happen if investors in firms like Raineth become dissatisfied with the returns from leasing homes to low-income families. The commitment of out-of-state landlords to maintaining properties also is a concern. Tenants and local housing officials have given Raineth mixed grades as a landlord.

Mr. Bryant, 24, who lives on Mueller Avenue in Ferguson, said he and his mother had been generally pleased with their home, which they have rented for four years. He said the landlord’s property manager had been fairly responsive about making repairs, although Mr. Bryant said the house, which has white siding and burgundy trim, “needs to be worked on, or updated.”

The Walkers, who moved into their two-bedroom white brick home on La Motte Lane a year ago, tell a different story. Ethel Walker, 54, a custodian at a local school, said her asthma has worsened because of a persistent mold problem in the house, which she blames on a leaky pipe and water in the basement. More recently, Ms. Walker and her daughter said they had had to deal with raw sewage gurgling up in their yard.

“When you’d flush the toilet it’d come up in the backyard,” Tasha Walker, 31, said.

As Goldstein notes, tenant advocates say the problem comes when investors try to turn too quick a profit on their investment — or fail to turn a profit at all. In New York City, for example, private equity firms have invested in neighborhoods — often low-income communities that investors were unfamiliar with — where the economics of their investment didn’t work out and tenants suffered. In some cases, residents watched their buildings fall into disrepair as their new Wall Street landlords sought to wring maximum profit. In others, tenants faced intense pressure to leave their homes as new landlords tried to gentrify neighborhoods and raise rents. Tenants’ rights groups have dubbed this style of landlordship “predatory equity.”

These practices have spread far beyond urban neighborhoods to the suburbs, where an abundance of cheap homes are teetering on the brink of foreclosure. In the wake of the housing crisis, Bloomberg reported, Blackstone Group raised $20 billion to purchase “as many as 200,000 homes.” As of 2013, the fund was renting residences in 14 cities. Ferguson was “largely avoided” by Blackstone, Goldstein writes, but other investment groups filled the gap.

So increasingly, in Ferguson and across America, homes that went through foreclosure during the crisis are now owned by large financial entities, many of which are staffed by individuals who had a hand in creating the crisis in the first place. And increasingly, Americans are renting from them.