Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News August 7, 2020

Aug 07 2020

The Voice of the White House

Comments for August 6, 2020: A warehouse filled with explosive material ignites, a huge blast follows and much damage to Beirut ensues. Mark it, although the facts have been publish and are very clear, we can expect breathless  secrets from lunatic bloggers to erupt, explaining this was a Jewish/Russian/Portuguese plot. The Internet is a marvelous source of information…if one knows where to look…but it is also home to a hen house filled with squawking chickens, many of whom their doctors allow to use the computer. Many of the same types writ Trump’s Twitter messages.

The Table of Contents

  • Trump and Putin: The Prospering of Treason
  • Beirut’s accidental cargo: how an unscheduled port visit led to disaster
  • Beirut blast: Tracing the explosives that tore the capital apart
  • Trump said Beirut blast could be ‘a bomb of some kind
  • Another 1.18m Americans file for unemployment as benefits expire
  • Senate’s McConnell says U.S. economy needs ‘boost,’ but coronavirus aid talks drag on.
  • How not to lose the lockdown generation
  • War and Pandemic Journalism
  • US Atrocities in Korean War – Chem and Bio Weapons, Mass Civilian Bombing and Execution
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

 

 

Trump and Putin: The Prospering of Treason

Cui bono’ is a Latin phrase meaning ‘who benefits?’    

In the matter of the accusations at a high level that President Trump has worked, does work, for the Russians, the application of this phrase is quite important.

  • Who benefits from Trump’s economically restrictive tariffs?
  • Who benefits from Trump’s undeclared war on Latin Americans?
  • Who benefits from Trump’s harassment of China?
  • Who benefits from Trump’s divisive attacks on sections of the American public such as the black community and the latino?
  • Who benefits from Trump’s very ill-advised and illogical actions in the Middle East?

American interests, economic and social?

No, they not only do not benefit but they are seriously injured and impaired.

Who, then, benefits from these actions?

Simple logic and an application of Occam ’s Razor show with great clarity that only one entity benefits from Trumps belligerent actions and that is Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The recent allegations that Trump worked for the Russians; had been gotten at by them earlier on is the only clear and logical answer to the question ‘cui bono.’

And for the leader of a country to deliberately work against the interests of his country for another is an act of treason and should be treated accordingly.

 

Beirut’s accidental cargo: how an unscheduled port visit led to disaster

August 6, 2020

by Maria Vasilyeva

Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The chemicals that went up in flames in Beirut’s deadliest peace-time explosion arrived in the Lebanese capital seven years ago on a leaky Russian-leased cargo ship that, according to its captain, should never have stopped there.

“They were being greedy,” said Boris Prokoshev, who was captain of the Rhosus in 2013 when he says the owner told him to make an unscheduled stop in Lebanon to pick up extra cargo.

Prokoshev said the ship was carrying 2,750 tonnes of a highly combustible chemical from Georgia to Mozambique when the order came to divert to Beirut on its way through the Mediterranean.

The crew were asked to load some heavy road equipment and take it to Jordan’s Port of Aqaba before resuming their journey onto Africa, where the ammonium nitrate was to be delivered to an explosives manufacturer.

But the ship was never to leave Beirut, having tried and failed to safely load the additional cargo before becoming embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute over port fees.

“It was impossible,” Prokoshev, 70, told Reuters of the operation to try and load the extra cargo. “It could have ruined the whole ship and I said no,” he said by ‘phone from his home in the Russian resort town of Sochi on the Black Sea coast.

The captain and lawyers acting for some creditors accused the ship’s owner of abandoning the vessel and succeeded in having it arrested. Months later, for safety reasons, the ammonium nitrate was unloaded and put in a dock warehouse.

On Tuesday, that stockpile caught fire and exploded not far from a built-up residential area of the city. The huge blast killed 145 people, injured 5,000, flattened buildings and made more than a quarter of a million people homeless.

The ship might have succeeded in leaving Beirut, had it managed to load the additional cargo.

The crew had stacked the equipment, including excavators and road-rollers, on top of the doors to the cargo hold which held the ammonium nitrate below, according to the ship’s Ukrainian boatswain, Boris Musinchak. But the hold doors buckled.

“The ship was old and the cover of the hold bent,” Musinchak said by ‘phone. “We decided not to take risks.”

The captain and three crew spent 11 months on the ship while the legal dispute dragged on, without wages and with only limited supplies of food. Once they left, the ammonium nitrate was unloaded.

“The cargo was highly explosive. That’s why it was kept on board when we were there … That ammonium nitrate had a very high concentration,” Prokoshev said.

          BOUND FOR MOZAMBIQUE

Prokoshev identified the ship’s owner as Russian businessman Igor Grechushkin. Attempts to contact Grechushkin were unsuccessful.

Cypriot police questioned Grechushkin at his home in Cyprus on Thursday, a security source said. A Cyprus police spokesman said an individual, whom he did not name, had been questioned at the request of Interpol Beirut in relation to the cargo.

The ammonium nitrate was sold by Georgian fertiliser maker Rustavi Azot LLC, and was to be delivered to a Mozambique explosives maker, Fabrica de Explosivos.

A senior representative for Fabrica de Explosivos did not immediately respond when sent a request for comment on LinkedIn.

Levan Burdiladze, the Rustavi Azot plant director, told Reuters that his company had only operated the chemical factory for the last three years and so he could not confirm whether the ammonium nitrate was produced there.

He called the decision to store the material in Beirut port a “gross violation of safe storage measures, considering that ammonium nitrate loses its useful properties in six months.”

Initial Lebanese investigations into what happened have pointed to inaction and negligence in the handling of the potentially dangerous chemical.

Lebanon’s cabinet on Wednesday agreed to place all Beirut port officials who have overseen storage and security since 2014 under house arrest, ministerial sources said.

The head of Beirut port and the head of customs said that several letters were sent to the judiciary asking for the material be removed, but no action was taken.

Reuters could not immediately reach Lebanon’s justice minister for comment. The Justice Ministry is closed for three days of national mourning.

According to Prokoshev, the ship had been leaking but was seaworthy when it sailed into Beirut in September 2013. However, he said Lebanese authorities paid little attention to the ammonium nitrate, which had been stacked in the hull in large sacks.

“I feel sorry for the people (killed or injured in the blast). But local authorities, the Lebanese, should be punished. They did not care about the cargo at all,” he said.

The abandoned Rhosus sank where she was moored in Beirut harbour, according to a May, 2018 email from a lawyer to Prokoshev, which said it had gone down “recently”.

Additional reporting by Lisa Barrington in Dubai, Samia Nakhoul and Laila Bassam in Beirut, Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow, Victoria Waldersee in Lisbon, Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi, Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia, Michele Kambas in Nicosia and Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Mark Bendeich

 

Beirut blast: Tracing the explosives that tore the capital apart

Letters show officials knew of danger posed by ammonium nitrate cargo at Beirut port six years before deadly blast.

August 5, 2020

by Timour Azhari

Al Jazeera

Beirut, Lebanon – It was only after a massive explosion ripped through Beirut that most people in Lebanon learned about the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a hangar at the city’s port.\

The detonation of the material – used in bombs and fertilisers – sent shockwaves through the Lebanese capital, killing scores of people, injuring thousands, and leaving much of the city a mangled mess.

In the explosion’s devastating aftermath, many Lebanese are expressing immense shock and sadness at the destruction, and great anger towards those who allowed this to happen.

Analysis of public records and documents published online show senior Lebanese officials knew for more than six years that the ammonium nitrate was stored in Hangar 12 of Beirut’s port.

And they were well aware of the dangers it posed.

So how did this happen? Here’s what we know so far.

The cargo of ammonium nitrate arrived in Lebanon in September 2013, on board a Russian-owned cargo vessel flying a Moldovan Flag. The Rhosus, according to information from the ship-tracking site, Fleetmon, was heading from Georgia to Mozambique.

It was forced to dock in Beirut after facing technical problems at sea, according to (PDF) lawyers representing the boat’s crew. But Lebanese officials prevented the vessel from sailing, and eventually, it was abandoned by its owners and crew – information partially corroborated by Fleetmon.

The ship’s dangerous cargo was then offloaded and placed in Hangar 12 of Beirut port, a large grey structure facing the country’s main north-south highway at the main entrance to the capital.

Months later, on June 27, 2014, then-director of Lebanese Customs Shafik Merhi sent a letter addressed to an unnamed “Urgent Matters judge”, asking for a solution to the cargo, according to documents shared online.

Customs officials sent at least five more letters over the next three years – on December 5, 2014, May 6, 2015, May 20, 2016, October 13, 2016, and October 27, 2017 – asking for guidance and warning that the material posed a danger, Badri Daher, the current director of Lebanese Customs, told broadcaster LBCI on Wednesday.

They proposed three options: Export the ammonium nitrate, hand it over to the Lebanese Army, or sell it to the privately-owned Lebanese Explosives Company.

One letter sent in 2016 noted there had been “no reply” from judges to previous requests.

It pleaded: “In view of the serious danger of keeping these goods in the hangar in unsuitable climatic conditions, we reaffirm our request to please request the marine agency to re-export these goods immediately to preserve the safety of the port and those working in it, or to look into agreeing to sell this amount” to the Lebanese Explosives Company.

Again, there was no reply.

A year later, Daher, the new Lebanese Customs director, wrote to a judge once again.

In the October 27, 2017, letter, Daher urged the judge to come to a decision on the matter in view of “the danger … of leaving these goods in the place they are, and to those working there”.

Nearly three years later, the ammonium nitrate was still in the hangar.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Tuesday declared the explosion at the port a “great national disaster” and promised that “all those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price”.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun called the failure to deal with the ammonium nitrate “unacceptable” and vowed the “harshest punishment” for those responsible. An investigation has now been launched, and the committee is to refer its findings to the judiciary within five days.

The cause of the explosion is still not clear, but many Lebanese were quick to point out what they believe to be the root causes; immense mismanagement in a broken state run by a corrupt political class who they say treat the country’s inhabitants with contempt.

It is also not lost on Beirut’s residents that this tragedy emanated from the city’s port, a public utility known locally as the “Cave of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves” for the vast amount of state funds that have reportedly been stolen there over the decades.

The allegations include claims that billions of dollars in tax revenue never reached the state treasury due to schemes to undervalue imports, as well as accusations of systematic and widespread bribery to avoid paying customs taxes.

“Beirut is gone and those who ruled this country for the past decades cannot get away with this,” Rima Majed, a Lebanese political activist and sociologist said in a tweet.

“They are criminals and this is probably the biggest of their (too many) crimes so far.”

 

Trump said Beirut blast could be ‘a bomb of some kind’

President Trump said U.S. military generals told him they do not think the massive deadly explosion that rocked Beirut Tuesday was a manufacturing-type explosion.

August 4, 2020

Associated Press

President Trump spoke about the massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon Tuesday saying that while the investigation is still ongoing, it appears to have been a deliberate attack.

When asked by a reporter what he believes happened, Trump said that the Lebanese authorities and others believe that it could have very well been an attack. The president said U.S. military generals have told him that they think the massive explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday, killing more than 70 people, was likely a bomb.

Trump told reporters at the White House that he met with some generals and they do not think it was a manufacturing-type explosion. Trump says the generals seem to think it was an attack — “a bomb of some kind.” The explosion flattened much of a port and damaged buildings across the capital, sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. More than 3,000 others were injured, with bodies buried in the rubble.

Earlier the Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab spoke on television saying that Tuesday’s explosion “will not pass without accountability” and “those responsible will pay for what happened.”

During the Tuesday afternoon White House briefing President Trump said, “the United States stands ready to assist Lebanon, a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon, and we will be there to help, it looks like a terrible attack.”

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo released a statement Tuesday that said, “I’d like to extend my deepest condolences to all those affected by the massive explosion at the port of Beirut today. We are closely monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this tragedy.

“Our team in Beirut has reported to me the extensive damage to a city and a people that I hold dear, an additional challenge in a time of already deep crisis. We understand that the Government of Lebanon continues to investigate its cause and look forward to the outcome of those efforts.

 

Another 1.18m Americans file for unemployment as benefits expire

Economists worry expiration of $600 weekly lifeline will lead to sharp drop-off in household spending and set back the economy

August 6, 2020

by Dominic Rushe in New York

The Guardian

Another 1.18 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week as economists worry the expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits will lead to a sharp drop-off in household spending and set back the US economy’s near-term recovery.

Claims dipped last week after two weeks of rises and were the lowest since March but the latest figure from the department of labor marked the 19th week in a row that claims have topped 1m. Before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the US, the record for weekly claims was 695,000 in October 1982.

The figures come ahead of Friday’s monthly snapshot of the job market. Economists expect the unemployment rate to have dipped to 10.6% in July from 11.1% in June, a significant drop but still three times the pre-pandemic level.

Americans have been receiving an extra $600 in emergency benefits since March as part of the government’s coronavirus stimulus package. But that agreement expired at the end of last month and Congress is split over a possible extension. About 30 million people have been receiving the extra cash and it has accounted for 15% of all weekly wages paid in the US.

The expiration of the benefits without any replacement would likely cause a surge in evictions, hunger and poverty as well as having consequences for the wider economy.

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the knock-on effect of removing that cash from the economy could be severe. The EPI estimated 5mn jobs could be lost by July 2021 if it is cut as consumers are forced to cut back on spending.

“The $600 benefit is essential for millions of people to get food, to pay rent, to care for their children, to afford basic necessities. If it is cut off, it will mean a sharp decline in their living standards, an increase in poverty, and completely unnecessary suffering,” Heidi Shierholz, EPI senior economist and director of policy, wrote recently.

“The spending generated by that $600 is supporting over 5m jobs. In other words, kill the $600 and you will kill 5m jobs – jobs in every single state,” she wrote.

A recent paper from the JP Morgan and The University of Chicago argued that allowing the extra payment to expire could “meaningfully reduce” consumption. Eliminating the benefit “could result in large spending cuts and thus potential negative effects on macroeconomic activity”, the authors concluded.

If the $600 payments expire and are nor replaced, the authors project that US consumption will 4.2% – a drop that exceeds the entire 2.9% fall in the Great Recession.

 

Senate’s McConnell says U.S. economy needs ‘boost,’ but coronavirus aid talks drag on.

August 6, 2020

by Patricia Zengerle and David Morgan

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday the U.S. economy needs an “additional boost” to cope with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, as Republicans and Democrats remained far apart about what to include in another wave of relief.

Republican President Donald Trump, who has threatened to act unilaterally if Congress does not agree on a further aid package, said he was working on an executive order targeting eviction protections and unemployment benefits.

The order would also address student loan repayment options and payroll tax cuts – a proposal he has raised repeatedly that met with little enthusiasm from Democrats or his fellow Republicans.

Congress’ top two Democrats and White House negotiators have been talking for nearly two weeks on next steps to address a crisis that has killed more than 157,000 Americans and thrown tens of millions out of work.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not back down on a demand to reinstate the $600 weekly enhanced unemployment payments that have been a lifeline for people who lost their jobs in the pandemic but recently expired. Republicans want to cut the payment, calling it a disincentive to work.

“When they come to the table and are like, ‘$600 – how could it be?’ they’re just demonstrating their condescension to America’s working families,” Pelosi told a news conference, after earlier suggesting Republicans did not give a “damn” about Americans who are hurting.

She rejected Republican proposals to agree on a temporary solution while negotiations continue, and said she hoped Trump would take executive action to extend a moratorium on evictions that expired late last month.

Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer were due to join Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for more talks at the U.S. Capitol at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT).

As negotiations neared the end of their second week, McConnell said he agreed with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Mnuchin that agreement is needed on another aid package, even though some of his fellow Republicans do not think so.

“The economy does need an additional boost,” McConnell told CNBC. Nonpartisan analysts say McConnell’s Republicans face a risk of losing their slim Senate majority in November’s elections.

McConnell, who met with Trump on Thursday but kept mum about their talks, said that while the Senate would be in session next week, he would give at least 24 hours notice of any votes. Some senators said they were leaving town on Thursday but would come back if there’s a deal to be voted on.

“We might not get a deal,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby told reporters. “There’s a lot of pessimism here.”

MEADOWS IN THE MIDDLE

As negotiations dragged on, some Democrats suggested that Meadows’ background as a hard-line conservative in Congress might impede progress.

“Mark Meadows is in this (negotiating) room for the expressed purpose of representing the division within the Republican caucus,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons.

Meadows acknowledged he can be stubborn, but said Pelosi is too. “This is a negotiating strategy that the speaker often deploys: wear you down until finally you say, ‘I’ve had enough’ and you give in to her demands,” he told reporters on Wednesday evening.

“Anybody who’s covered Congress long enough knows that I typically will not concede as readily as some might think,” Meadows said.

Congress passed more than $3 trillion in relief legislation early in the pandemic. Pelosi and Schumer have pushed for a comprehensive package of assistance for the unemployed, the poor, hospitals, schools, and state and local governments.

Mnuchin has warned that the Trump administration would not accept “anything close” to the $3.4 trillion in new aid sought by Democrats. Senate Republicans have proposed a $1 trillion package that many of their own members have rejected.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and David Morgan; writing by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Scott Malone, Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis

 

 

How not to lose the lockdown generation

Lessons from the New Deal point the way forward in the era of Covid-19.

August 6, 2020

by Naomi Klein

The Intercept

Picture this: You live in rural Arkansas and tragedy strikes. A family member has fallen ill with that contagious respiratory illness that has already killed so many — but you don’t have enough space in your small home to quarantine them in a room of their own. Your relative’s case doesn’t appear to be life-threatening, but you are terrified that their persistent cough will spread the illness to more vulnerable family members. You call the local public health authority to see if there is room in local hospitals, and they explain that they are all stretched too thin with emergency cases. There are private facilities, but you can’t afford those.

Not to worry, you are told: A crew will be by shortly to set up a sturdy, well-ventilated, portable, tiny house in your yard. Once installed, your family member will be free to convalesce in comfort. You can deliver home-cooked meals to their door and communicate through open windows — and a trained nurse will be by for regular examinations. And no, there will be no charge for the house.

This is not a dispatch from some future functional United States, one with a government capable of caring for its people in the midst of spiraling economic carnage and a public health emergency. It’s a dispatch from this country’s past, a time eight decades ago when it similarly found itself in the two-fisted grip of an even deeper economic crisis (the Great Depression), and a surging contagious respiratory illness (tuberculosis).

Yet the contrast between how U.S. state and federal government met those challenges in the 1930s, and how they are failing so murderously to meet them now, could not be starker. Those tiny houses are just one example, but they are a revelatory one for the sheer number of problems those humble structures attempted to solve at once.

Known as “isolation huts,” the little clapboard houses were distributed to poor families in several states. Small enough to fit on the back of a trailer, they had just enough space for a bed, chair, dresser, and stove, and were outfitted with large screened-in windows and shutters to maximize the flow of fresh air and sunshine — considered essential for TB recovery.

As physical structures, the TB huts were an elegant answer to the public health challenges posed by crowded homes on the one hand and expensive private sanatoriums on the other. If houses were unable to accommodate safe patient quarantines, then the state, with Washington’s help, would just bring an addition to those houses for the duration of the illness.

It’s worth letting that sink in, given the learned helplessness that pervades the U.S. today. For months, the White House hasn’t been able to figure out how to roll out free Covid-19 tests at anything like the scale required, let alone contact tracing, never mind quarantine support for poor families. Yet in the 1930s, during a much more desperate economic time for the country, state and federal agencies cooperated to deliver not just free tests but free houses.

And that is only the beginning of what makes it worth dwelling on the TB huts . The cabins themselves were built by very young men in their late teens and early 20s who were out of work and had signed up for the National Youth Administration. “The State Board of Health furnishes the materials for these cottages and NYA supplies the labor,” explained Betty and Ernest Lindley, authors of  a 1938 history of the program. “The total average cost of one hut is $146.28,” or about $2,700 in today’s dollars.

The TB cabins were just one of thousands upon thousands of projects taken on by the 4.5 million young people who joined the NYA: a vast program started in 1935 that paired young people in economic need, who could not find jobs in the private sector, with publicly minded work that needed doing. They gained marketable skills, while earning money that allowed many to stay, or return to, high school or college. Other NYA projects including building some of the country’s most iconic urban parks, repairing thousands of dilapidated schools and outfitting them with playgrounds; and stocking classrooms with desks, lab tables, and maps the young workers had made and painted themselves. NYA workers built huge outdoor pools and artificial lakes, trained to be teaching and nursing aides, and even built entire youth centers and small schools from scratch, often while living together in “resident centers.”

The NYA served as a kind of urban complement to FDR’s better-known youth program, the Civilian Conservation Corps, launched two years earlier. The CCC employed some 3 million young men from poor families to work in forests and farms: planting more than 2 billion trees, shoring up rivers from erosion, and building the infrastructure for hundreds of state parks. They lived together in a network of camps, sent money home to their families, and put on weight at a time when malnutrition was epidemic. Both the NYA and the CCC served a dual purpose: directly helping the young people involved, who found themselves in desperate straights, and meeting the country’s most pressing needs, whether for reforested lands or more hands in hospitals.

Like all New Deal programs, the NYA and CCC were stained by racial segregation and discrimination. And the gender roles were — let’s just say that the girls discovered they could sew, can, and heal; and the boys discovered they could plant, build, and weld. Black girls in particular were streamed into domestic work.

Yet the scale of these two programs, which together altered the lives of well over 7 million young people over the course of a decade, puts contemporary governments to shame. Today, millions upon millions of young people are beginning their adulthood with the ground collapsing beneath their feet. The service jobs so many young adults depend on for rent and to pay off student debt have vanished. Many of the industries they had hoped to enter are firing, not hiring. Internships and apprenticeships have been canceled via mass emails, and promised job offers have been revoked.

These economic losses, combined with the decision of many colleges and universities to close residences and move online, have abruptly severed countless young adults from their support systems, pushed many into homelessness, and others back into their childhood bedrooms. Many of the homes young people now find themselves in are under severe economic strain and are not safe or welcoming, with LGBTQ youth at heightened risk.

All of this is layered on top of the pain of the virus itself, which has spread grief and loss through millions of families. And that is now mixing with the trauma of tremendous police violence directed at crowds of mostly young Black Lives Matter demonstrators, compounding the murderous events that precipitated the protests in the first place. In the background, as always, is the shadow of climate breakdown, not to mention the fact that when members of this generation first heard terms like “lockdown” and “shelter in place” related to the pandemic, many of their minds immediately turned to the terrorizing active shooter drills U.S. schools have had them practicing since early childhood.

It should be little wonder, then, that depression, anxiety, and addiction are ravaging young lives.

According to a survey conducted by National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau last month, 53 percent of people aged 18-29 reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Fifty-three percent. That’s more than 13 percentage points higher than the rest of the population, which itself was off the charts compared with this time last year.

And that still may be a dramatic undercount. Mental Health America, part of the National Health Council, released a report in June based on surveys of nearly 5 million Americans. It found that “younger populations including teens and young adults (25<) are being hit particularly hard” by the pandemic, with 90 percent “experiencing symptoms of depression.”

Some of that suffering is finding expression in another invisible crisis of the Covid era: a dramatic increase in drug overdoses, with some parts of the country reporting increases over last year of 50 percent. It should all be a reminder that when we talk about being in the midst of a cataclysm on par with the Great Depression, it isn’t only GDP and employment rates that are depressed. Huge numbers of people are depressed as well, particularly young people.

This is, of course, a global crisis. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres recently warned that the world faces “a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.” In a video message, he said, “We are at a defining moment for the world’s children and young people. The decisions that governments and partners take now will have lasting impact on hundreds of millions of young people, and on the development prospects of countries for decades to come.”

As in the 1930s, this generation is already being referred to as a “lost generation” — but compared to the Great Depression, almost nothing is being done to find them, certainly not at the governmental level in the U.S. There are no ambitious and creative programs being designed to offer steady income beyond expanded summer job programs, and nothing designed to arm them with useful skills for the Covid and climate change era. All Washington has offered is a temporary break on student loan repayments, set to expire this fall.

Young people are discussed, of course. But it is almost exclusively to shame them for Covid partying. Or to debate (usually in their absence) the question of whether or not they will be permitted to learn in-person in classrooms, or whether they will have to stay home, glued to screens. Yet what the Depression era teaches us is that these are not the only possible futures we should be considering for people in their late teens and 20s, especially as we come to grips with the reality that Covid-19 is going to be reshaping our world for a long time to come. Young people can do more than go to school or stay home; they can also contribute enormously to the healing of their communities.

While guest hosting Intercepted this week, I dug into what it would take to launch youth employment programs on the scale on the NYA and CCC — programs that, like their predecessors, addressed broad social needs while giving young people cash, skills training, and opportunities to work and possibly live in each other’s company. Put another way: What are the modern day equivalents of the home-delivered, NYA-built tuberculosis isolation hut?

Delving back in the history of New Deal youth programs, I was struck by how many of its projects have direct application to today’s most urgent needs. For instance, the NYA made huge and historic contributions to the country’s educational infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on low-income school districts, while training many young women as teaching assistants. It also provided significant reinforcements for an ailing public health system, training battalions of young people to serve as nursing aides in public hospitals.

It’s easy to imagine how similar programs today could simultaneously address the youth unemployment crisis and play a significant role in battling the virus. As just one example: We sure could use some of those nursing aides if there is a new surge of the virus this winter. A New York Times investigation last month quoted several doctors and nurses who are convinced that significant numbers of the Covid-19 deaths that took place in New York’s public hospitals could have been prevented if they had been adequately staffed. In emergency rooms where the patient-to-nurse ratio should not have been higher than 4 to 1, one public hospital was trying to get by with 23 to 1; others weren’t doing much better. Nightmare stories have emerged of disoriented patients pulling themselves off of oxygen machines and other vital equipment, trying to get up, and with no one there to stop them, dying alone. More nurses would have made all the difference.

Then there are the public schools, similarly understaffed after decades of cutbacks, that will be trying to enforce social distancing this year. If we weren’t in such a rush to get back to a bleak and diminished version of “normal,” there would be time for a NYA-style program to train thousands of young adults to help reduce class sizes and supervise kids in outdoor education programs.

And since we know that the safest place to gather is still outdoors, some college-age students could pick up the work begun by the NYA and expand the national infrastructure of trails, picnic areas, outdoor pools, campsites, urban parks, and wilderness trails. Thousands more could be enrolled in a rebooted CCC to restore forests and wetlands, helping draw planet-warming carbon out of the atmosphere.

Creating these kinds of programs would be complex, and costly. But the individual and collective benefits would be immeasurable. And as was the case during the Great Depression, many young people would be given the chance to do something they desperately want and need to do right now: Get the hell out of their childhood homes and live with their peers.

On Intercepted, I spoke about this prospect with Neil Maher, professor of history at Rutgers University–Newark and the author of a definitive history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, “Nature’s New Deal.” He told me that in his research into the CCC, he came across many participants describing their time in the program as a kind of sleepaway camp or even an outdoor university: a unique chance to live collectively, away from their families and the city, and become adults. But unlike so many actual university campuses that can’t reopen safely — given the daily commutes of faculty, staff, and many students — modern-day CCC-inspired camps could be designed as Covid “bubbles.”

The program would have to test participants on the way in, quarantine anyone who tested positive for two weeks, and then everyone would stay at the camp until the job was done (or at least their part of it). It could be that rare triple win: Heal some of the damage done to our ravaged planet, offer an economic and social lifeline to people in need, and design what might be one of the most Covid-safe workplaces around.

In the panic about this “lost generation,” there has been a lot of talk about how there is no work for young people. But that is a lie. There is no end of meaningful work that desperately needs doing — in our schools, hospitals, and on the land. We just need to create the jobs.

 

War and Pandemic Journalism

The Truth Can Disappear Fast

by Patrick Cockburn

The Independent

The struggle against Covid-19 has often been compared to fighting a war. Much of this rhetoric is bombast, but the similarities between the struggle against the virus and against human enemies are real enough. War reporting and pandemic reporting likewise have much in common because, in both cases, journalists are dealing with and describing matters of life and death. Public interest is fueled by deep fears, often more intense during an epidemic because the whole population is at risk. In a war, aside from military occupation and area bombing, terror is at its height among those closest to the battlefield.

The nature of the dangers stemming from military violence and the outbreak of a deadly disease may appear very different. But looked at from the point of view of a government, they both pose an existential threat because failure in either crisis may provoke some version of regime change. People seldom forgive governments that get them involved in losing wars or that fail to cope adequately with a natural disaster like the coronavirus. The powers-that-be know that they must fight for their political lives, perhaps even their physical existence, claiming any success as their own and doing their best to escape blame for what has gone wrong.

My First Pandemic

I first experienced a pandemic in the summer of 1956 when, at the age of six, I caught polio in Cork, Ireland. The epidemic there began soon after virologist Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for it in the United States, but before it was available in Europe. Polio epidemics were at their height in the first half of the twentieth century and, in a number of respects, closely resembled the Covid-19 experience: many people caught the disease but only a minority were permanently disabled by or died of it. In contrast with Covid-19, however, it was young children, not the old, who were most at risk. The terror caused by poliomyelitis, to use its full name, was even higher than during the present epidemic exactly because it targeted the very young and its victims did not generally disappear into the cemetery but were highly visible on crutches and in wheelchairs, or prone in iron lungs.

Parents were mystified by the source of the illness because it was spread by great numbers of asymptomatic carriers who did not know they had it. The worst outbreaks were in the better-off parts of modern cities like Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Melbourne, New York, and Stockholm. People living there enjoyed a good supply of clean water and had effective sewage disposal, but did not realize that all of this robbed them of their natural immunity to the polio virus. The pattern in Cork was the same: most of the sick came from the more affluent parts of the city, while people living in the slums were largely unaffected. Everywhere, there was a frantic search to identify those, like foreign immigrants, who might be responsible for spreading the disease. In the New York epidemic of 1916, even animals were suspected of doing so and 72,000 cats and 8,000 dogs were hunted down and killed.

The illness weakened my legs permanently and I have a severe limp so, even reporting in dangerous circumstances in the Middle East, I could only walk, not run. I was very conscious of my disabilities from the first, but did not think much about how I had acquired them or the epidemic itself until perhaps four decades later. It was the 1990s and I was then visiting ill-supplied hospitals in Iraq as that country’s health system was collapsing under the weight of U.N. sanctions. As a child, I had once been a patient in an almost equally grim hospital in Ireland and it occurred to me then, as I saw children in those desperate circumstances in Iraq, that I ought to know more about what had happened to me. At that time, my ignorance was remarkably complete. I did not even know the year when the polio epidemic had happened in Ireland, nor could I say if it was caused by a virus or a bacterium.

So I read up on the outbreak in newspapers of the time and Irish Health Ministry files, while interviewing surviving doctors, nurses, and patients. Kathleen O’Callaghan, a doctor at St. Finbarr’s hospital, where I had been brought from my home when first diagnosed, said that people in the city were so frightened “they would cross the road rather than walk past the walls of the fever hospital.” My father recalled that the police had to deliver food to infected homes because no one else would go near them. A Red Cross nurse, Maureen O’Sullivan, who drove an ambulance at the time, told me that, even after the epidemic was over, people would quail at the sight of her ambulance, claiming “the polio is back again” and dragging their children into their houses or they might even fall to their knees to pray.

The local authorities in a poor little city like Cork where I grew up understood better than national governments today that fear is a main feature of epidemics. They tried then to steer public opinion between panic and complacency by keeping control of the news of the outbreak. When British newspapers like the Times reported that polio was rampant in Cork, they called this typical British slander and exaggeration. But their efforts to suppress the news never worked as well as they hoped. Instead, they dented their own credibility by trying to play down what was happening. In that pre-television era, the main source of information in my hometown was the Cork Examiner, which, after the first polio infections were announced at the beginning of July 1956, accurately reported on the number of cases, but systematically underrated their seriousness.

Headlines about polio like “Panic Reaction Without Justification” and “Outbreak Not Yet Dangerous” regularly ran below the fold on its front page. Above it were the screaming ones about the Suez Crisis and the Hungarian uprising of that year. In the end, this treatment only served to spread alarm in Cork where many people were convinced that the death toll was much higher than the officially announced one and that bodies were being secretly carried out of the hospitals at night.

My father said that, in the end, a delegation of local businessmen, the owners of the biggest shops, approached the owners of the Cork Examiner, threatening to withdraw their advertising unless it stopped reporting the epidemic. I was dubious about this story, but when I checked the newspaper files many years later, I found that he was correct and the paper had almost entirely stopped reporting on the epidemic just as sick children were pouring into St. Finbarr’s hospital.

The Misreporting of Wars and Epidemics

By the time I started to research a book about the Cork polio epidemic that would be titled Broken Boy, I had been reporting wars for 25 years, starting with the Northern Irish Troubles in the 1970s, then the Lebanese civil war, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the war that followed Washington’s post-9/11 takeover of Afghanistan, and the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. After publication of the book, I went on covering these endless conflicts for the British paper the Independent as well as new conflicts sparked in 2011 by the Arab Spring in Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

As the coronavirus pandemic began this January, I was finishing a book (just published), War in the Age of Trump: The Defeat of Isis, the Fall of the Kurds, the Confrontation with Iran. Almost immediately, I noticed strong parallels between the Covid-19 pandemic and the polio epidemic 64 years earlier. Pervasive fear was perhaps the common factor, though little grasped by governments of this moment. Boris Johnson’s in Great Britain, where I was living, was typical in believing that people had to be frightened into lockdown, when, in fact, so many were already terrified and needed to be reassured.

I also noticed ominous similarities between the ways in which epidemics and wars are misreported. Those in positions of responsibility — Donald Trump represents an extreme version of this — invariably claim victories and successes even as they fail and suffer defeats. The words of the Confederate general “Stonewall” Jackson came to mind. On surveying ground that had only recently been a battlefield, he asked an aide: “Did you ever think, sir, what an opportunity a battlefield affords liars?”

This has certainly been true of wars, but no less so, it seemed to me, of epidemics, as President Trump was indeed soon to demonstrate (over and over and over again). At least in retrospect, disinformation campaigns in wars tend to get bad press and be the subject of much finger wagging. But think about it a moment: it stands to reason that people trying to kill each other will not hesitate to lie about each other as well. While the glib saying that “truth is the first casualty of war” has often proven a dangerous escape hatch for poor reporting or unthinking acceptance of a self-serving version of battlefield realities (spoon-fed by the powers-that-be to a credulous media), it could equally be said that truth is the first casualty of pandemics. The inevitable chaos that follows in the wake of the swift spread of a deadly disease and the desperation of those in power to avoid being held responsible for the soaring loss of life lead in the same direction.

There is, of course, nothing inevitable about the suppression of truth when it comes to wars, epidemics, or anything else for that matter. Journalists, individually and collectively, will always be engaged in a struggle with propagandists and PR men, one in which victory for either side is never inevitable.

Unfortunately, wars and epidemics are melodramatic events and melodrama militates against real understanding. “If it bleeds, it leads” is true of news priorities when it comes to an intensive care unit in Texas or a missile strike in Afghanistan. Such scenes are shocking but do not necessarily tell us much about what is actually going on.

The recent history of war reporting is not encouraging. Journalists will always have to fight propagandists working for the powers-that-be. Sadly, I have had the depressing feeling since Washington’s first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991 that the propagandists are increasingly winning the news battle and that accurate journalism, actual eyewitness reporting, is in retreat.

Disappearing News

By its nature, reporting wars is always going to be difficult and dangerous work, but it has become more so in these years. Coverage of Washington’s Afghan and Iraqi wars was often inadequate, but not as bad as the more recent reporting from war-torn Libya and Syria or its near total absence from the disaster that is Yemen. This lack fostered misconceptions even when it came to fundamental questions like who is actually fighting whom, for what reasons, and just who are the real prospective winners and losers.

Of course, there is little new about propaganda, controlling the news, or spreading “false facts.” Ancient Egyptian pharaohs inscribed self-glorifying and mendacious accounts of their battles on monuments, now thousands of years old, in which their defeats are lauded as heroic victories. What is new about war reporting in recent decades is the far greater sophistication and resources that governments can deploy in shaping the news. With opponents like longtime Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, demonization was never too difficult a task because he was a genuinely demonic autocrat.

Yet the most influential news story about the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait in 1990 and the U.S.-led counter-invasion proved to be a fake. This was a report that, in August 1990, invading Iraqi soldiers had tipped babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital and left them to die on the floor. A Kuwaiti girl reported to have been working as a volunteer in the hospital swore before a U.S. congressional committee that she had witnessed that very atrocity. Her story was hugely influential in mobilizing international support for the war effort of the administration of President George H.W. Bush and the U.S. allies he teamed up with.

In reality it proved purely fictional. The supposed hospital volunteer turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington. Several journalists and human rights specialists expressed skepticism at the time, but their voices were drowned out by the outrage the tale provoked. It was a classic example of a successful propaganda coup: instantly newsworthy, not easy to disprove, and when it was — long after the war — it had already had the necessary impact, creating support for the U.S.-led coalition going to war with Iraq.

In a similar fashion, I reported on the American war in Afghanistan in 2001-2002 at a time when coverage in the international media had left the impression that the Taliban had been decisively defeated by the U.S. military and its Afghan allies. Television showed dramatic shots of bombs and missiles exploding on the Taliban front lines and Northern Alliance opposition forces advancing unopposed to “liberate” the Afghan capital, Kabul.

When, however, I followed the Taliban retreating south to Kandahar Province, it became clear to me that they were not by any normal definition a beaten force, that their units were simply under orders to disperse and go home. Their leaders had clearly grasped that they were over-matched and that it would be better to wait until conditions changed in their favor, something that had distinctly happened by 2006, when they went back to war in a big way. They then continued to fight in a determined fashion to the present day. By 2009, it was already dangerous to drive beyond the southernmost police station in Kabul due to the risk that Taliban patrols might create pop-up checkpoints anywhere along the road.

None of the wars I covered then have ever really ended. What has happened, however, is that they have largely ended up receding, if not disappearing, from the news agenda. I suspect that, if a successful vaccine for Covid-19 isn’t found and used globally, something of the same sort could happen with the coronavirus pandemic as well. Given the way news about it now dominates, even overwhelms, the present news agenda, this may seem unlikely, but there are precedents. In 1918, with World War I in progress, governments dealt with what came to be called the Spanish Flu by simply suppressing information about it. Spain, as a non-combatant in that war, did not censor the news of the outbreak in the same fashion and so the disease was most unfairly named “the Spanish Flu,” though it probably began in the United States.

The polio epidemic in Cork supposedly ended abruptly in mid-September 1956 when the local press stopped reporting on it, but that was at least two weeks before many children like me caught it. In a similar fashion, right now, wars in the Middle East and north Africa like the ongoing disasters in Libya and Syria that once got significant coverage now barely get a mention much of the time.

In the years to come, the same thing could happen to the coronavirus.

Patrick Cockburn is a Middle East correspondent for the Independent of London

 

 

US Atrocities in Korean War – Chem and Bio Weapons, Mass Civilian Bombing and Execution

 

Koreans not only have good reason to view the US with suspicion and mistrust, it’s a miracle they don’t hate us for all eternity

With the world’s press spending a great deal of its energy on the rather fractious relationship between the United States and North Korea, a look back in time gives us some fascinating insight regarding the geopolitical stresses that rule the region, particularly the stresses that occurred during the Korean War.

Thanks to the International Action Center and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a Non-Governmental Organization which was founded in 1946 and acts as a consultative group to UNESCO, we have an interesting document that outlines some of America’s actions on the Korean Peninsula during the early 1950s.

In March 1952, the IADL issued a Report on U.S. Crimes in Korea during the Korean War.  Here is a screen capture showing the title page:

In the early 1950s, the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea repeatedly asked the United Nations to protest violations of international law by their enemies, the United States-led international coalition.

These requests were ignored by the United Nations and, as such, the Council of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers set up a Commission consisting of lawyers from several nations to investigate these allegations with a “boots on the ground” trip to Korea which took place from March 3rd to March 19th, 1952, visiting the provinces of North and South Piengan, Hwang Hai, Kang Wan, including the towns of Pyongyang, Nampo, Kaichen, Pek Dong, Amju, Sinchon, Anak, Sariwon and Wonsan among others.

The IADL notes that, under United Nations rules, the U.S. intervention on the Korean Peninsula was unlawful and that President Truman’s orders to the American Navy and Air Force should be considered an “aggressive act” that went against the United Nations Charter.

Here are some of the more interesting findings of the IADL Commission:

1.) Bacteriological Warfare:

The Commission investigated the allegations that American forces in Korea were using bacteriological weapons against both the DPRK armed forces and the nation’s civilian population.  Between the 28th of January and the 12th of March (i.e. during the dead of winter), 1952, the Commission found the following insects which carried bacteria in many different locations:

The Commission noted that many of the insect species had not been found in Korea prior to the arrival of American forces and that many of them were found in mixed groups or clusters that would not normally be found together, for example, flies and spiders.

It also noted that the January temperature was 1 degree Celsius (just above freezing) to 5 degrees Celsius in February but that the prevailing average temperature was far below the freezing level, temperatures that are extremely hostile to insect life.

The insects were infected with the following bacteria which include plague, cholera and typhus:

Eberthella typhus

Bacillus paratyphi A and B

Shigella dysenteriae

Vibrio cholera

Pasturella pestis

In addition, a great quantity of fish of a species which live in regions between fresh water and salt water were found; these fish were found in a half rotten state and were infected with cholera.

2.) Chemical Weapons:

On various occasions since May 6th, 1951, American planes used asphyxiating and other gases or chemical weapons as follows:

In the first attack on Nampo City, there were 1,379 casualties of which 480 died of suffocation and 647 others were affected by gas.

3.) Mass executions of civilians:

According to witnesses, the commander of the U.S. Forces in the region of Sinchon by the name of Harrison ordered the mass killing of 35,383 civilians (19,149 men and 16,234 women) during the period between October 17th and December 7th, 1950.

The civilians were pushed into a deep open grave, doused with fuel oil and set on fire.  Those who tried to escape were shot.

In another case, on October 20th, 2015, 500 men women and children were forced into an air raid cave shelter located in the city of Sinchon.  Harrison ordered American soldiers to put explosives into the shelter and seal it with sacks of earth prior to the fuse being lit.

Here are other examples of mass murders:

4.) Bombing and Attacking Civilians:

Prior to the Korean War, the capital city of North Korea, Pyongyang, had a population of 464,000.  As a result of the war, the population had fallen to 181,000 by December 31, 1951.  In the period between June 27, 1950 and the Commission’s visit, more than 30,000 incendiary and explosive devices were dropped on the city, destroying 64,000 out of 80,000 houses, 32 hospitals and dispensaries (despite the fact that they were marked with a red cross), 64 churches, 99 schools and university buildings.

Here is the conclusion of the Commission:

The IADL Commission unanimously found that the United States was guilty of crimes against humanity during the Korean War and that there was a pattern of behaviour which constitutes genocide.

Let’s close this posting with the conclusion of the 2001 Korea International War Crimes Tribunal which examined the testimony of civilians from both North Korea and South Korea over the period from 1945 to 2001:

The Members of the International War Crimes Tribunal find the accused Guilty on the basis of the evidence against them: each of the nineteen separate crimes alleged in the Initial Complaint has been established to have been committed beyond a reasonable doubt. The Members find these crimes to have occurred during three main periods in the U.S. intervention in and occupation of Korea.

The best-known period is from June 25, 1950, until July 27, 1953, the Korean War, when over 4.6 million Koreans perished, according to conservative Western estimates, including 3 million civilians in the north and 500,000 civilians in the south. The evidence of U.S. war crimes presented to this Tribunal included eyewitness testimony and documentary accounts of massacres of thousands of civilians in southern Korea by U.S. military forces during the war.

Abundant evidence was also presented concerning criminal and even genocidal U.S. conduct in northern Korea, including the systematic leveling of most buildings and dwellings by U.S. artillery and aerial bombardment; widespread atrocities committed by U.S. and R.O.K. forces against civilians and prisoners of war; the deliberate destruction of facilities essential to civilian life and economic production; and the use of illegal weapons and biological and chemical warfare by the U.S. against the people and the environment of northern Korea.

Documentary and eyewitness evidence was also presented showing gross and systematic violence committed against women in northern and southern Korea, characterized by mass rapes, sexual assaults and murdersLess known but of crucial importance in understanding the war period is the preceding five years, from the landing of U.S. troops in Korea on September 8, 1945, to the outbreak of the war. The Members of the Tribunal examined extensive evidence of U.S. crimes against peace and crimes against humanity in this period.

The Members conclude that the U.S. government acted to divide Korea against the will of the vast majority of the people, limit its sovereignty, create a police state in southern Korea using many former collaborators with Japanese rule, and provoke tension and threats between southern and northern Korea, opposing and disrupting any plans for peaceful reunification. In this period the U.S. trained, directed and supported the ROK in systematic murder, imprisonment, torture, surveillance, harassment and violations of human rights of hundreds of thousands of people, especially of those individuals or groups considered nationalists, leftists, peasants seeking land reform, union organizers and/or those sympathetic to the north.

The Members find that in the period from July 1953 to the present, the U.S. has continued to maintain a powerful military force in southern Korea, backed by nuclear weapons, in violation of international law and intended to obstruct the will of the Korean people for reunification.

Military occupation has been accompanied by the organized sexual exploitation of Korean women, frequently leading to violence and even murder of women by U.S. soldiers who have felt above the law. U.S.-imposed economic sanctions have impoverished and debilitated the people of northern Korea, leading to a reduction of life expectancy, widespread malnutrition and even starvation in a country that once exported food. The refusal of the U.S. government to grant visas to a delegation from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea who planned to attend this Tribunal only confirms the criminal intent of the defendants to isolate those whom they have abused to prevent them from telling their story to the world.

In all these 55 years, the U.S. government has systematically manipulated, controlled, directed, misinformed and restricted press and media coverage to obtain consistent support for its military intervention, occupation and crimes against the people of Korea.

It has also inculcated racist attitudes within the U.S. troops and general population that prepared them to commit and/or accept atrocities and genocidal policies against the Korean people.

It has violated the Constitution of the United States, the delegation of powers over war and the military, the Bill of Rights, the UN Charter, international law and the laws of the ROK, DPRK, Peoples Republic of China, Japan and many others, in its lawless determination to exercise its will over the Korean peninsula.

The Members of the Korea International War Crimes Tribunal hold the United States government and its leaders accountable for these criminal acts and condemn those found guilty in the strongest possible terms.”

And Washington wonders why the North Koreans are so hostile toward the United States!

The irony of Washington’s criticism of other nations (i.e Syria) and their use of chemical weapons is stunningly hypocritical.

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Cindy Uwanawich

 

Almost not worth covering, but Cindy Uwanawich is a self-proclaimed psychic of Crestline California who used to operate something called The Psychic Door, and who was arrested in 2013 for fleecing her clients. In particular, this particular “psychic” told a client that she was able to remove some spirit that had attached itself to said client on the condition that she brought her nine pennies, nine nickels, nine dimes, nine quarters and $9,000 for nine days. We somehow doubt that those coins would make much of a difference if push came to shove.

Now, we harbor some serious doubts about the extent to which Uwanawich believed her own story (tried reading her last name slowly, anyone?), and her grift is pretty much par for the course and not much different from that of prosperity gospel preachers, except for the obvious South-East Asian horror movie inspiration and the fact that the preachers tend to get off the hook. We are not really sure, however, how much it matters whether she believes in her own powers or not. That a murderer falsely thinks his murdering makes the world a better doesn’t really make shit difference, assessment-wise.

Diagnosis: A fairly common specimen, distinguished from the flock mostly by the fact that she was caught

 

Linda Moulton Howe

 

Another legend among UFO enthusiasts, Linda Moulton Howe is a ufologist and “investigative journalist”, and a mainstay on the Coast to Coast AM radio show and the Ancient Aliens TV series. She is in particular associated with cattle mutilation nonsense, starting with her 1980 documentary A Strange Harvest, where she investigated what she concludes to be unusual animal deaths (but really a mix of hearsay and the readily naturally explainable) caused by “non-human intelligence and technology”. Her conclusions were based on careful investigation of the evidence after ruling out, prior to investigation, the possibility of a natural explanation. She followed up with more “evidence” in the 1989 book Alien Harvest. Howe also claims to have seen secret government documents that supposedly prove that aliens are mutilating cattle, abducting people and generally flying around military bases. Indeed, in 1983 she was shown a secret presidential briefing paper that revealed how “extraterrestrials created Jesus” and placed him on earth “to teach mankind about love and non-violence” (but apparently also randomly mutilate cattle). The documents were allegedly shown to her by Richard Doty. We have covered Doty and his documents before.

Howe runs her own website called “EarthFiles.com”, which charges a subscription fee of $45 a year to access her body of work. Some of it, however, has been published in reputable journals disseminated in radio programs hosted by luminaries like Art Bell, George Noory and Whitley Strieber. That material contains, in addition to cattle mutilation tripe and reports of “unexplained” lights and sounds reported from all over the US:

  • “Bigfoot DNA”: Melba Ketchum (to be covered) apparently has proof that Bigfoot exists.
  • “The Return of Ezekiel’s Wheel”, based on recent “eyewitness sightings”.
  • “Pyramids Discovered in Alaska and Turkey”: “Immense structures not only built, but used in some unknown way for a thousand years.”
  • “Missing Time”: Howe has managed to unearth “a rare case of documented missing time”.
  • “Unknown objects in our skies. What are we NOT being told”: Yes, the government is conspiring to deny the presence of UFOs, for the usual nebulous reasons.
  • “The Rendlesham Code”: Howe investigates endorses a UFO contactee’s claims to have telepathically downloaded binary code numbers from aliens.
  • “Project Serpo”: Yup, Howe fell for that one, to no one’s surprise.

Howe also does crop circles and a variety of other environmentalist conspiracies (eg. colony collapse disorder and Monsanto).

By the way, the aliensdidit “explanation” for cattle mutilations seems to have received some competition from even more exotic hypotheses. Tom Bearden, for instance, thinks the “mutilations are the physical manifestation of the whole human unconsciousness which is somehow aware that the Soviets will, probably within three years, invade and destroy the Western world;” so there is that.

Diagnosis: Crazy, but her most characteristic trait seems to be that she’s amazingly gullible and will fall for anything you serve her if it concerns UFOs – unless it is based on reason and evidence, of course.

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply