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 May 13, 2020

May 13 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. May 13, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it. “
Comment for May 13, 2020:”Now one notes that the Trump Administration is fearful of Russian interference in the 2020 Presidential election. But what about the more believable interference by the Trump Administration in the election? The growing rumors inside the Beltway is that this mysterious coronavirus attack was a trial effort on the part of the Trump people to see if they could prevent voters participating in the election, which would be postponed until some unspecified later date.”

The Table of Contents
• Michael Flynn: judge pauses justice department effort to dismiss case
• Michigan: rightwing militia groups to protest stay-at-home orders
• Congress presses Trump for answers on botched Venezuela ‘invasion’
• An economic tsunami could soon thrust half a billion people into extreme poverty
• Coronavirus conspiracy theories on the rise
• Did coronavirus really originate in a Chinese laboratory?
• In Germany, vaccine fears spark conspiracy theories
• Top 5 CIA operations against the Soviet Union
• Ukraine: CIA Coup
• US aid to Nazis
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Michael Flynn: judge pauses justice department effort to dismiss case
Order paves way for legal experts to oppose Trump administration motion to exonerate former adviser
May 12, 2020
by Maanvi Singh
The Guardian
A federal judge has put the justice department’s decision to dismiss a criminal case against Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, on hold – opening the door for legal experts and other outside parties to oppose the administration’s motion to exonerate Flynn of lying to the FBI.
Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order is the latest development in the high-profile case, which has led critics, including Barack Obama and hundreds of former FBI and justice department officials, to question whether William Barr, the attorney general, was orchestrating favors for Trump.
Flynn, a retired general and a close Trump ally, pleaded guilty to a felony charge amid the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 US election. The former administration official was charged with lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US during the presidential transition period. In exchange for leniency, Flynn cooperated with Mueller’s investigation as part of his plea agreement.
But Flynn sought to change his plea while awaiting sentencing, as the president floated the idea of a pardon.
The justice department said last week that the FBI had had no basis to question him, and federal prosecutors asked Sullivan to throw out their case against Flynn. None of the line prosecutors supervising the case signed the motion and one withdrew from the case.
Though lawyers for Flynn asked Sullivan to immediately toss out the charges, Sullivan said he wanted to hear more arguments. “Given the posture of the case,” he said, he anticipated that many outside parties would want to weigh in.
Sullivan has questioned Flynn in court before. During a 2018 hearing, he rejected a motion supported by the administration for probation, telling Flynn: “Arguably, you sold your country out.”
Flynn’s defense team said Sullivan’s order on Tuesday was prompted by a filing from a group that called itself “Watergate prosecutors” that questioned the justice department’s actions and suggested that political influence was at play.
Disputing the order, Flynn’s defense lawyer Sidney Powell and her co-counsel wrote in a court filing: “There is no place for third parties to meddle in the dispute, and certainly not to usurp the role of the government’s counsel.
“This travesty of justice has already consumed three or more years of an innocent man’s life – and that of his entire family,” Powell wrote. “No further delay should be tolerated.”
In a leaked web talk, Obama reportedly said the “rule of law is at risk” because the justice department dropped charges against Flynn. The chair of the House judiciary committee, Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, called the decision “outrageous” and said he intended to call Barr to testify about the handling of the case.
“We do not believe this case should have been brought, we are correcting that and we certainly hope that in the interest of true justice, that the judge ultimately agrees and drops the case against Gen Flynn,” said Kerri Kupec, a justice department spokesperson, in an interview Fox News on Tuesday evening.
The justice department did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.
Agencies contributed reporting.

Michigan: rightwing militia groups to protest stay-at-home orders
Thursday’s protest will be latest in a series that are now generating fears of an eruption of political violence
May 13, 2020
by Tom Perkins in Detroit
The Guardian
Rightwing militia groups in Michigan plan to rally at the state capitol building on Thursday to protest Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders that she put in place to slow the deadly spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thursday’s demonstration will be the latest in a series of protests that started as a demonstration against the lockdown policy but are now generating fears of an eruption of political violence.
The state is currently investigating what the Michigan attorney general, Dana Nessel, characterized on Monday as “credible threats” against state Democratic politicians. Her comments followed a report of threats of violence on rightwing social media pages.
Residents posting in the Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine Facebook page called for Whitmer’s assassination. “Wonder how long till she’s hit with a shotgun blast,” one wrote. Another said they hope Thursday’s protesters are “armed to the teeth” because “voting is too late”.
Dramatic images from a 30 April protest showed militia members carrying assault rifles while glaring and shouting from the galleries of the state legislature as an emotional debate over extending a stay-at-home order took place. In response, a black lawmaker last week came to Michigan’s capitol with an escort of armed black citizens.
Few states have been hit harder by the pandemic than Michigan. Wayne county, which holds the city of Detroit, has recorded some of the US’s highest rates of infection. Whitmer has instituted some of the country’s strictest emergency orders in order to control the virus’ spread. Polls have consistently shown the state’s residents approve by a wide margin of how she’s managed the crisis.
However, some residents of rural counties contend they shouldn’t be subjected to the orders because the infection rates in their communities are relatively low. But that message has frequently gotten lost as the demonstrations turned into a flashpoint in the bitter debate over gun rights, and a forum for making political statements and threats against Democrats.
During a state senate session on Tuesday, the state senator Mallory McMorrow said the protests and threats are now “about spreading blood on the front lawn of this building”.
Leadership on both sides of the aisle have condemned the protesters’ “intimidation” tactics and are calling on law enforcement to arrest those who brandish weapons.
“These folks are thugs and their tactics are despicable,” the Republican state senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, said during Tuesday’s session. “It is never OK to threaten the safety or life of another person, elected or otherwise, period.”
Democrats called for the state to ban guns in the state capitol building. The Republicans, however, control the legislature and are resisting that push.
The first and the largest protest, called “Operation Gridlock”, was partly organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, a grassroots political organizing group. Meshawn Maddock, one of its founders, said on Monday that the group is no longer involved.
Whitmer has remained steadfast in her approach. While she has relaxed some orders in recent weeks as the number of cases statewide has continued to drop, she extended the state of emergency until the end of May, and has implemented a six-phase reopening plan that could take months. At her Monday press conference, she acknowledged the right to protest, but asked demonstrators to exercise caution to prevent the virus from spreading.
“I would appreciate it if others would do their part to try and lower the heat,” she said. “If you choose to demonstrate I ask that you wear a mask and stay 6ft apart from others.”

Congress presses Trump for answers on botched Venezuela ‘invasion’
May 13, 2020
AFP
The head of a US congressional committee said Tuesday he was asking President Donald Trump’s administration for explanations over a mysterious botched “invasion” of Venezuela in which two Americans were arrested
“Congress needs answers, and we need them now,” said Eliot Engel, a Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We need to know if US laws were broken by American citizens and companies and whether any element of the US government was aware of what was taking place,” he said on Twitter.
Referring to the television spy, Engel said the raid sounded like “a bad Jack Ryan episode” and complained that the State Department had ignored his request for a briefing.
President Nicolas Maduro, a leftist whom the United States has been seeking to oust for more than a year, last week announced the military had thwarted a beachfront invasion in which eight people allegedly died and showed the passports of two US citizens said to be arrested.
Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly dismissed any US role in the episode, but the head of a private security firm in Florida said openly that his mercenaries were working on the ground in Venezuela to remove Maduro.
Two advisors to opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized as interim president by the United States and some 60 other countries, on Monday resigned after being accused by Maduro of links to the mercenaries.
“We need information on each and every one of the private security contractors that held meetings in the US related to a potential raid in Venezuela, and we need to know if the Trump administration was aware of these interactions,” Engel said.
While Democrats in Congress have clashed on a broad set of issues with Trump, they overwhelmingly oppose Maduro, whose 2018 re-election was widely seen as fraudulent and who oversees a crippled economy from which millions of people have fled.
“Anything that further delays a democratic transition is truly heartbreaking for the Venezuelan people,” Engel said.

An economic tsunami could soon thrust half a billion people into extreme poverty
May 12, 2020
by Kate Linthicum, Nabih Bulo and Ana Inova
Los Angeles Times
RIO DE JANEIRO — It seemed like Silvanah Lima was finally getting ahead.
Born and raised in Brazil’s drought-ridden northeast, she moved with her partner to Rio de Janeiro in 2018, in search of work. He was hired as a janitor; she began selling meals on the street, and soon they were bringing in $280 a month — enough to start saving to one day build a house back home.
The novel coronavirus pushed that dream out of reach. Lima, who has diabetes and heart problems, putting her at higher risk of dying if she contracts the virus, stopped working once the pandemic took hold in her sprawling slum, known as the City of God.
Now it seems that if the coronavirus doesn’t kill her, hunger may.
“We have to pay the rent, and we don’t have the money,” said Lima, 48. “I haven’t even been able to buy beans.”
The economic devastation the pandemic wreaks on the ultra-poor could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself.
The United Nations predicts that a global recession will reverse a three-decade trend in rising living standards and plunge as many as 420 million people into extreme poverty, defined as earning less than $2 a day.
As for the 734 million people already there, the economic tsunami will make it harder for them to ever climb out.
“I feel like we’re watching a slow-motion train wreck as it moves through the world’s most fragile countries,” said Nancy Lindborg, president of the nonprofit U.S. Institute of Peace and former head of the Ebola task force at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Hunger is already rising in the poorest parts of the world, where lockdowns and social distancing measures have erased incomes and put even basic food items out of reach.
In Guatemala, villagers are begging for food along highways by waving pieces of white cloth at passing drivers. In Colombia, the hungriest hang red flags from their homes in hope of donations.
The U.N. predicts the coronavirus could push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. World Vision, an international Christian aid organization, warns that 30 million children are at risk of dying.
“I want to stress that we are not only facing a global health pandemic but also a global humanitarian catastrophe,” said David Beasley, executive director of the U.N.’s World Food Program.
While the virus has already hammered many developed nations, which are now taking cautious steps to reopen their economies, it has yet to peak in many of the world’s poorest countries, meaning the economic devastation there could drag on longer.
The pandemic, which began in an industrial Chinese city but has since spread to even the remotest corners of the Amazon rainforest, has exposed the radical interdependence of the modern world — causing disruptions in everything from manufacturing to the global narcotics trade.
In Mexico, where an estimated 1.6 million households survive on money sent from relatives working in the United States, many are beginning to feel the secondary impact of the closures of restaurants, hotels and the construction industry north of the border.
“Families are not receiving their remittances,” said Abel Barrera Hernandez, an anthropologist in Mexico’s impoverished Guerrero state.
The decline in dollars has in recent weeks forced some subsistence farmers to migrate to northern Mexico in search of work, because they lack resources to cultivate food on their own land.
“It takes money to plant seeds, to buy fertilizer and to pay somebody to help you pick,” Barrera said. “But there is no money. Nobody has any money.”
In many of the world’s poorest places, the lockdowns have proved more destructive than the virus itself.
Take Shatila camp, a warren of sewage-slicked alleyways in Beirut that is home to 20,000 Palestinian refugees.
Clean water is scarce, and families live 10 to a room in moldy cinder-block shacks. The recommended separation for social distancing — six feet — is the length of some apartments.
Surprisingly, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the camp. But the people living there — mostly menial laborers who buy food one day at a time — are being driven deeper into hardship.
“People are hungry,” said an official who oversees health management at the U.N.’s agency for Palestinian refugees. “Hunger has more victims now than corona.”
Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle East politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said many countries in the region faced financial difficulties before the pandemic, and he worries about the potential for political unrest.
“You already had collapsed economies,” Gerges said. “The majority of people were already in abject poverty and had declining standards of living.”
Experts say the pandemic will only exacerbate global inequality, which has risen in recent decades as top earners pull away from everybody else. Among other things, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is being reinforced by a growing digital divide as the pandemic drives more jobs online.
“I’ve entered houses where the people have no bread, no cans of food, no sugar, no cooking gas,” said Mohammad S Al-Zawahreh, a Jordanian civil society activist. “It’s not going to work to tell these people to develop yourself — learn Skype or Zoom — while their children are starving.”
The U.N. and private aid groups have raised the alarm in recent weeks, saying a concerted international strategy is needed.
Last week U.N. officials increased the size of their coronavirus aid appeal from $2 billion to $6.7 billion, cautioning that “the specter of multiple famines” looms on the horizon.
“Unless we take action now, we should be prepared for a significant rise in conflict, hunger and poverty,” said Mark Lowcock, who heads the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
But there are growing fears that the United States and other wealthy nations — which are dealing with the pandemic on their own turf — will fail to heed the call to action.
“My big concern is that folks will lose their appetite for this kind of work, and there won’t be the political will necessary,” said Joy Portella, a U.S.-based health and development consultant.
At risk is three decades of progress. Since 1990, more than 1 billion people — 13% of the world’s population — have risen out of extreme poverty, according to the World Bank.
The gains were driven by China and India, where rapid industrialization has fueled major economic growth and lifted living standards.
Economists say those places are likely to recover more quickly than less-developed countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia, which depend on foreign aid and lack the economic engines to rally back. Citizens there will suffer the effects of reduced spending on education, health care and anti-poverty programs.
“People who were living in poverty and vulnerable before COVID-19 will be living in more poverty and will be more vulnerable after,” said Portella. “The less you have, the longer it takes to recover. The climb back … is just really steep and hard.”
But she and others said there is the potential for positive change. Longtime debates in the development world over the importance of hiring local foreign aid workers and the usefulness of cash transfers — as opposed to the donation of goods — may be settled by new travel restrictions.
Lindborg said she hopes the global nature of the pandemic will spark a new sense of empathy.
“My hope is that this is a giant reset moment,” she said. “This isn’t going to be the last pandemic. … There are other things we will face together.”
But in the poorest parts of the world, optimism is scant.
In Venezuela, which for years has been roiled by food scarcities, soaring inflation and street protests calling for the removal of President Nicolas Maduro, life was miserable for many before the pandemic, and it has only gotten worse.
In Caracas, Yelegnis Coromoto Andrade and her husband once earned about $30 a month cobbling together multiple jobs.
Since the restaurant where he worked closed and her gigs cleaning houses and caring for elderly clients dried up, their monthly income has fallen to just $3.
“We have lost a lot this year, and my question is, how will we get it back?” she said. “I try to keep putting the bread on the table, but all I see around me is hunger and need.”

Coronavirus conspiracy theories on the rise
In 2015, conspiracists feared refugees were taking over. Today they see dark global forces gaining power amid a global pandemic. Alexander Görlach asks: What happens when society can no longer agree on basic facts?
May 13, 2020
by Alexander Görlach
DW
Conspiracy theories have now reached the heart of society. It may still be early for any empirical data, but over the past few days I’ve seen plenty of anecdotal evidence: my Facebook timeline has been full of comments speaking out against virologists, Bill Gates, vaccinations, Angela Merkel and against the strict measures introduced to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back in 2015, when the refugee crisis unfolded in Europe, conspiracy theories gained a strong foothold in Germany. Proponents claimed Chancellor Merkel was secretly planning to bring in people from the Middle East and Asia in order to replace the German population; they suspected a global conspiracy.
The name of billionaire philanthropist George Soros has been tied to many of these theories, giving those who believe in them an excuse to pin the blame on a supposed worldwide Jewish conspiracy. Followers of Germany’s Reichsbürger movement, who deny the legitimacy of the German state and issue their own identity documents, have regularly chimed in from the fringes. Some of their theories were so bleak that in the end they became somewhat amusing. But back then, I didn’t feel the noose of the conspirators tightening around my neck.
It’s different this time, but why? Perhaps because the COVID-19 pandemic has affected literally everyone. Children can’t go to day care, kindergarten or school, and parents are forced to care for them at home while still finding a way to make a living. Universities have been shut down, and countless businesses — from restaurants to hair salons — were closed for weeks, destroying livelihoods. Older people can’t visit with their relatives and friends. Those who are sick, but don’t have COVID-19, are forced to wait for treatments and surgeries. And people who end up succumbing to the coronavirus pandemic die a slow death by suffocation.
Can this really be true? Can a virus really do this to our society? With a sigh, most people will likely say yes, perhaps even with tears in their eyes. The vociferous crowds gathering in public spaces, loudly demanding an end to the lockdown measures, are united by their firm belief that “those who are in charge” are colluding with evildoers.
Questioning basic facts
Back in 2015, people who had always opposed immigration weren’t criticizing reality, but how politicians were dealing with the influx of around 1 million refugees. These days, they’re mainly questioning basic facts, disputing scientific evidence of how the virus spreads. But even on this point there doesn’t seem to be agreement. Some people think COVID-19 is no worse than seasonal flu, while others support herd immunity, a position supported by a small minority in the international community. Still others — and this movement has existed for a long time — reject vaccinations of any kind, believing them to be useless. Even though at this point, a vaccine has yet to be developed against COVID-19.
What happens when a society can no longer agree on the basic facts? Eventually, there won’t be any place or institution left for open debate on the different ways that facts can be interpreted — if that isn’t already the case. In Germany, this attitude has already spread throughout society: recently, a few high-ranking Catholic bishops published an open letter spouting off about a “world government.”
The world’s autocrats, who in recent years have consistently discredited experts and belittled elites, are celebrating this chaos, happy in the knowledge that they have managed to convince their believers. They don’t celebrate education and knowledge; instead, they glorify baseless rumors and praise strongman tactics. In the end, stupidity and superstition will drive the nails in the coffin of democracy. This decline has nothing to do with the coronavirus; populists have been slowly infusing our society with this poison for years.

Did coronavirus really originate in a Chinese laboratory?
Did the novel coronavirus escape from a Chinese lab that researches bats? Though the early origins of the virus remain unclear, some Chinese scientists’ work is helping develop a vaccine. DW examines the facts.
April 18, 2020

by Fabian Schmidt
DW
Researchers and journalists have been speculating for months about how the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, emerged in the city of Wuhan, China. Initial indications pointed to a so-called wet market where fish was sold along with wild animals.
Now, however, Western media outlets are reporting that the virus possibly originated in the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Similar theories began making the rounds on social media sites as early as January, mostly in connection to conspiracy theories referencing secret Chinese military labs developing bioweapons. At the time, The Washington Post newspaper brushed off theories that the virus was manmade, citing experts who assessed that its characteristics pointed to a naturally occurring virus and not a manmade mutation.
That assessment was confirmed by a team of researchers led by Kristian G. Andersen, who published a finding stating as much in the March 17 edition of the journal Nature Medicine.
Another factor that would seem to corroborate that assessment is the fact that the lab’s work is not secret, and that much of its research on various bat viruses has been published in professional journals. Western partners have also been involved in a number of research projects conducted in Wuhan. One of those partners was the University of Texas’ Galveston National Laboratory. Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper has reported that the US government also provided financial support for research at the lab in Wuhan.
Where did the first infection come from?
But despite all these indications to the contrary, it can’t be said for certain that the pandemic didn’t accidentally enter the world via the Wuhan lab.
As early as the end of January, the magazine Science published an article questioning the official theory that the virus had been transmitted from an animal to a human at the wet market. And another study published in the medical journal The Lancet concluded that 13 of the first 41 people diagnosed with COVID-19 had no contact whatsoever to the Wuhan market.
Moreover, it is likely that “patient zero” — the first person to have the disease — was infected as early as November 2019. Thus, the earliest cases had no connection to the market, as Daniel Lucey, a professor for infectious diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center in the US, told Science Speaks in an interview in late January.
Are researchers to blame?
But how did the virus make its way to the Wuhan market? Shi Zhengli, a professor of virology at the Wuhan Institute who published findings on bat viruses in a February issue of Nature, may have the answer. In a story on the professor that ran in the South China Morning Post newspaper on February 6, she told of how she had traveled to caves across 28 different Chinese provinces to collect bat feces.
As was also reported in magazines like Scientific American, she used those samples to create a comprehensive archive of bat viruses. In early 2019, she and her colleagues published an extensive study on bat coronaviruses. The report noted that the horseshoe bat was a vector for coronavirus strains similar to the one that would later appear in Wuhan.
It was her team’s work that made it possible to sequence and publish the virus’ genome so quickly, presenting a historically unprecedented opportunity for speedily coming up with a vaccine.
Still, over the past several weeks Shi Zhengli has been relentlessly attacked on social media sites in Asia and around the world. That has prompted a public defense from her New York-based research partner Peter Daszak, the head of the EcoHealth Alliance, an NGO focused on scientific research and pandemic prevention.
Speaking with the US public radio program Democracy Now!, Daszak said the theory that the virus found its way out of the Wuhan lab was “pure baloney.” He said he had personally worked with the lab for 15 years and that it does not store SARS-CoV-2 viruses on its premises.
“It’s really a politicization of the origins of a pandemic, and it’s really unfortunate,” he said of stories implying any connection between the lab and the outbreak.
It is notable, however, that the Chinese government recently began censoring stories dealing with those origins. When confronted with the accusations printed in the Daily Mail, the Chinese Embassy in London reacted angrily, calling them “groundless.” The embassy also released a statement saying that research aimed at finding the origins of COVID-19 was still underway.

In Germany, vaccine fears spark conspiracy theories
Increasing numbers of Germans are turning out to protest the country’s coronavirus measures. Among them are many with a strong suspicion of vaccines — even though inoculation against COVID-19 is far from a reality.
May 13, 2020
DW
Someone has written the words “vaccine contents” in yellow chalk on the footpath along the banks of the Rhine River in Cologne. A few meters further on, an inconspicuous-looking woman adds “GG,” short for the German word for Basic Law, the country’s constitution, and then strikes a line through the two letters. Nearby, in the shadow of the Cologne Cathedral, people have gathered in an authorized protest “for basic rights, against compulsory masks and vaccinations, against coronavirus staging and the Gates Foundation.”
But instead of the expected 50 participants, only a handful have shown up on this Monday evening. The designated speaker uses a microphone to address the small crowd, her words nearly drowned out by the shouts of dozens of counterdemonstrators telling her to “Shut up!” Later on, down by the riverbanks, a few dozen people gather near the chalk markings to form a human chain.
In a statement that evening police say the protests went smoothly, praising the fact that COVID-19 protection measures “did not counter freedom of expression and the right of assembly.” In recent weeks, similar rallies have seen several attacks against journalists, along with people disregarding distancing regulations. Some rallies weren’t even registered with police ahead of time.
Hour of the anti-vaxxer
The increasing number of gatherings in German cities, some under the motto “Resistance 2020,” have attracted all sorts of supporters: people who belong to the far-right Reichsbürger movement, conspiracy theorists, liberals and people from the neo-right — and increasingly, those who support the anti-vaccine movement.
“Of course, vaccination is the best way to counter this pandemic,” said Jan Rathje, an expert on anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation in Berlin. “The idea that compulsory vaccinations will be carried out in the future is quite widespread among conspiracy theorists.” He told DW that some of the people taking to the streets believe that vaccines are “harmful to the individual,” and that ultimately they aren’t any good for society.
According to a French online survey of parents in five European countries, Germany has a relatively high proportion of people who refuse vaccinations, when compared with the other nations; nearly 3% absolutely refuse to have their children vaccinated. The German Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) says that around 20% of the population is skeptical when it comes to vaccines. However, a survey conducted by the BZgA shows that attitudes toward vaccinations are becoming increasingly positive in the country.
Unlike in some EU countries, in Germany it has always been up to the individual whether they want to get a recommended vaccine. Under the recent Infection Protection Act, however, the Health Ministry can now require “threatened sections of the population” to get certain vaccinations, if the federal states all agree. A law requiring children in day care centers and schools to be fully vaccinated against measles has been in force since March.
Fear of mandatory COVID-19 vaccine
Vaccine opponents have pointed to this precedent when speaking out against a potential coronavirus vaccine, currently in development around the world. Health Minister Jens Spahn has said Germany won’t need a law, if people immunize themselves voluntarily.
Presumably, many Germans are hoping for an eventual vaccine, even if it takes until 2021 or longer. But there is no data on whether the public would actually be prepared to get the shot, which has prompted Ken Jebsen, a former radio presenter popular among conspiracy theorists, to suspect that vaccine obligation will be introduced “through the back door.”
Jebsen’s views have attracted the attention of his regular readers. But some people who come to the anti-vaccine protests might not be right-wing or believe in conspiracy theories; they could just be into homeopathy or anthroposophy, said Beate Küpper, a social psychologist at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences. A feeling of insecurity and the need for information, a particularly potent combination at the moment, could lead to “many people finding their way onto such platforms by mistake — and then getting stuck,” she said.
Increasing anti-Semitism, anti-democracy at protests
Opposition to a coronavirus vaccination is “definitely one of the key messages” on protesters’ placards, said Jan Rathje. Demonstrators are afraid they could be “forced to be vaccinated without having a say in the matter,” he said, though he added that it was difficult to know how many people in these groups were actually anti-vaccination activists.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is keeping an eye on the protests, has noted an increase in right-wing extremists in attendance, as well as growing anti-Semitic and anti-democratic symbols and slogans.
Küpper isn’t surprised, pointing out that German society is particularly tense and inflamed right now. In February, a 43-year-old German man, radicalized by conspiracy theories, shot dead nine people with immigrant backgrounds in the Frankfurt suburb of Hanau. Küpper said the process of coming to terms with that tragic event was overtaken by the pandemic. “Unfortunately, when it comes to conspiracy theories and hatred, we’re simply continuing where we left off,” she said.

Top 5 CIA operations against the Soviet Union
August 27 2019
by Boris Egorov
Russia Beyond
The CIA reached enormous ocean depths to recover a sunken enemy submarine, landed on a drifting and disabled Soviet Arctic station, as well as spent unbelievable sums of money to arm Afghan fighters and Ukrainian nationalists.
1. Operation AERODYNAMIC
For over 40 years the CIA effectively played the “Ukrainian card” in its anti-Soviet war. Right after the end of World War II, Langley established close contacts with the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Rebel Army (UPA), both major anti-commusnist organizations that counted thousands of members in western countries and in the underground in Soviet Ukraine.
Operation CARTEL, whose goal was to support Ukrainian nationalists, was already in full swing in the late 1940s. During those years the operation changed its name many times, but remains better known as AERODYNAMIC.
At first, the CIA actively supported the armed resistance in Ukraine, sent in agents and instructors, provided financing to anti-Soviet military units, and also gathered information on Red Army positions and organizations.
However, by the mid-1950s when the OUN-UPA forces in Ukraine and Eastern Poland had been mainly eliminated, the Americans changed the course of their politics. Now, they made a bet on ideology: they began to publish anti-communist literature and magazines, as well as conduct underground radio translation and support illegal Ukrainian political movements.
In 1990, with the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, the American spy bosses in bosses shut down the programme.
2. Operation COLDFEET
In May 1961, an American reconnaissance plane in the Arctic spotted an abandoned Soviet drifting ice station. It looked like the Soviets had left it in a big hurry, afraid that the ice would soon break apart.
The CIA realized they had a perfect chance to get their hands on Soviet military secrets, and they surmised that the station might have valuable information from Soviet acoustical surveillance networks, which is used to monitor U.S. submarines under the Arctic ice.
It proved impossible to reach the station by icebreaker or helicopter, so two agents were dropped by parachute from a B-17 bomber onto the ice, followed by eight boxes of equipment.
During the course of those three days at the station the Americans collected over 80 documents and made hundreds of photos of Soviet equipment. When it was over, and with their precious intel in hand, the agents were swept from the station by a B-17 via the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, better known as Skyhook.
3. Project Azorian
In March 1971, due to unknown reasons the Soviet navy’s K-129 submarine sunk in the Pacific Ocean, just over 1,600 miles from Hawaii. The USSR, as it often did, tried to hush the tragedy and didn’t officially declare loss of the vessel. Thus, the submarine was in fact “ownerless” and in theory any country could lay a claim to it. Of course, the Americans couldn’t pass up such an opportunity.
The U.S. disguised the recovery operation under mining work, and specially built the Hughes Glomar Explorer vessel for the occasion. Looking like a drillship at first glance, it was designed to raise the Soviet submarine from the sea bed. The task wasn’t easy at all because K-129 was located on the enormous depth of 5,000 meters.
The recovery started in 1974, only six years after the sinking. The submarine collapsed into itself during the process, and the Americans could lift only the nose cone. The operation’s details are classified, but it is believed that the CIA agents got their hands on two torpedoes with nuclear warheads, while ballistic missiles, important documents and equipment remained on the bottom.
As the Americans later claimed, they buried the bodies of six Soviet sailors, which were found in the submarine’s sectors, with all proper respect.
4. Project Dark Gene
In 1960-1970, when the U.S. and Iran were still friends and allies, the CIA and the Imperial Iranian Air Force conducted joint aerial reconnaissance operations in the USSR’s southern regions, known as Project Dark Gene.
American and Iranian pilots, on Iranian fighters, regularly crossed the Soviet border to find gaps in the local anti-air defense and to test how effectively Soviet interceptors reacted to intruders.
As a part of the Dark Gene Iran acquired the newest equipment, including F-14 fighters, which the U.S. didn’t deliver to anybody else.
On November 23, 1973, a MiG-21SM piloted by Gennady Yeliseev was sent to intercept the Iranian F-4 Phantom II, which violated the Soviet border in the Mugan plain. After all the missiles failed to hit their target, Yeliseev hit the Phantom’s tail with the wing of his own plane. The first jet-based aerial ramming in history resulted in the F-4 crashing, with its pilots catapulting and captured. As for Yeliseev, his MiG hit a mountain, killing him instantly.
Four Iranian aircraft were shot down by the Soviets during the years when the operation was in full swing. After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Project Dark Gene was immediately shut down.
5. Operation Cyclone
During the entire period of Soviet intervention in Afghanistan (1979-1989) the CIA was conducting one of its most expensive operations ever, which came at an expense of several hundred millions of dollars per year. The goal of Cyclone was to provide the Mujahideen with all the necessary weapons and ammunition to fight the Soviets.
In order not to be directly involved in the conflict, the CIA cooperated with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which used the American money and weapons to organize funding, arming and training the Afghani opposition military units.
An especially remarkable episode of Cyclone was the supplying of Stinger hand-held anti-aircraft missiles to the Mujahideen in 1986. This led to major casualties in the Soviet Air Force, which had been a serious threat for the Afghan jihadists for years. Soviet special forces even started a hunt for the Stingers, which had been guarded by the Mujahideen with their lives.
With the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan, Cyclone came to an end. The CIA forgot about this country, but not for long, as it turned out.

Ukraine: CIA Coup
22 February 2014

On 22 February 2014 a western-backed coup in Ukraine took place. Neo-Nazis in Ukraine were supported by the west and the CIA was all over Ukraine leading up to the coup. The Euromaidan was another so-called colour revolution sponsored by the west in order to destabilize the country and orchestrate this regime change.
Ukraine’s former security chief, Aleksandr Yakimenko, has reported that the coup-plotters who overthrew the elected government in Ukraine, “basically lived in the (US) Embassy. They were there every day.” We also know from a leaked Russian intercept that they were in close contact with Ambassador Pyatt and the senior US official in charge of the coup, former Dick Cheney aide Victoria Nuland, officially the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. And we can assume that many of their days in the Embassy were spent in strategy and training sessions with their individual CIA case officers.
To place the coup in Ukraine in historical context, this is at least the 80th time the United States has organized a coup or a failed coup in a foreign country since 1953. That was when President Eisenhower discovered in Iran that the CIA could overthrow elected governments who refused to sacrifice the future of their people to Western commercial and geopolitical interests. Most US coups have led to severe repression, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture, corruption, extreme poverty and inequality, and prolonged setbacks for the democratic aspirations of people in the countries affected. The plutocratic and ultra-conservative nature of the forces the US has brought to power in Ukraine make it unlikely to be an exception.
Noam Chomsky calls William Blum’s classic, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, “Far and away the best book on the topic.” If you’re looking for historical context for what you are reading or watching on TV about the coup in Ukraine, Killing Hope will provide it. The title has never been more apt as we watch the hopes of people from all regions of Ukraine being sacrificed on the same altar as those of people in Iran (1953); Guatemala(1954); Thailand (1957); Laos (1958-60); the Congo (1960); Turkey (1960, 1971 & 1980); Ecuador (1961 & 1963); South Vietnam (1963); Brazil (1964); the Dominican Republic (1963); Argentina (1963); Honduras (1963 & 2009); Iraq (1963 & 2003); Bolivia (1964, 1971 & 1980); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); Greece (1967); Panama (1968 & 1989); Cambodia (1970); Chile (1973); Bangladesh (1975); Pakistan (1977); Grenada (1983); Mauritania (1984); Guinea (1984); Burkina Faso (1987); Paraguay (1989); Haiti (1991 & 2004); Russia (1993); Uganda (1996);and Libya (2011). This list does not include a roughly equal number of failed coups, nor coups in Africa and elsewhere in which a US role is suspected but unproven.
The disquieting reality of the world we live in is that American efforts to destroy democracy, even as it pretends to champion it, have left the world less peaceful, less just and less hopeful. When Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, at the height of the genocidal American war on Iraq, he devoted much of his acceptance speech to an analysis of this dichotomy. He said of the US, “It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis… Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever.”
The basic framework of US coups has hardly evolved since 1953. The main variables between coups in different places and times have been the scale and openness of the US role and the level of violence used. There is a strong correlation between the extent of US involvement and the level of violence. At one extreme, the US war on Iraq was a form of regime change that involved hundreds of thousands of US troops and killed hundreds of thousands of people. On the other hand, the US role in General Suharto’s coup in Indonesia in 1965 remained covert even as he killed almost as many people. Only long after the fact didUS officials take credit for their role in Suharto’s campaign of mass murder, and it will be some time before they brag publicly about their roles in Ukraine.
But as Harold Pinter explained, the US has always preferred “low-intensity conflict” to full-scale invasions and occupations. The CIA and US special forces use proxies and covert operations to overthrow governments and suppress movements that challenge America’s insatiable quest for global power. A coup is the climax of such operations, and it is usually only when these “low-intensity” methods fail that a country becomes a target for direct US military aggression.
Iraq only became a target for US invasion and occupation after a failed CIA coup in June 1996. The US attacked Panama in 1989 only after five CIA coup attempts failed to remove General Noriega from power. After long careers as CIA agents, both Hussein and Noriega had exceptional knowledge of US operations and methods that enabled them to resist regime change by anything less than overwhelming US military force.
But most US coups follow a model that has hardly changed between 1953 and the latest coup in Ukraine in 2014. This model has three stages:
1) Creating and strengthening opposition forces
In the early stages of a US plan for regime change, there is little difference between the methods used to achieve it at the ballot box or by an anti-constitutional coup. Many of these tools and methods were developed to install right-wing governments in occupied countries in Europe and Asia after World War II. They include forming and funding conservative political parties, student groups, trade unions and media outlets, and running well-oiled propaganda campaigns both in the country being targeted and in regional, international and US media.
Post-WWII Italy is a case in point. At the end of the war, the US used the American Federation of Labor’s agents in France and Italy to funnel money through non-communist trade unions to conservative candidates and political parties. But socialists and communists won a plurality of votes in the 1946 election in Italy, and then joined forces to form the Popular Democratic Front for the next election in 1948. The US worked with the Catholic Church, conducted a massive propaganda campaign using Italian-American celebrities like Frank Sinatra, and printed 10 million letters for Italian-Americans to mail to their relatives in Italy. The US threatened a total cut-off of aid to the war-ravaged country, where allied bombing had killed 50,000 civilians and left much of the country in ruins.
The FDP was reduced from a combined 40% of the votes in 1946 to 31% in 1948, leaving Italy in the hands of increasingly corrupt US-backed coalitions led by the Christian Democrats for the next 46 years. Italy was saved from an imaginary communist dictatorship, but more importantly from an independent democratic socialist program committed to workers’ rights and to protecting small and medium-sized Italian businesses against competition from US multinationals.
The US employed similar tactics in Chile in the 1960s to prevent the election of Salvador Allende. He came within 3% of winning the presidency in 1958, so the Kennedy administration sent a team of 100 State Department and CIA officers to Chile in what one of them later called a “blatant and almost obscene” effort to subvert the next election in 1964. The CIA provided more than half the Christian Democrats’ campaign funds and launched a multimedia propaganda campaign on film, TV, radio, newspapers, posters and flyers. This classic “red scare” campaign, dominated by images of firing squads and Soviet tanks, was designed mainly to terrify women. The CIA produced 20 radio spots per day that were broadcast on at least 45 stations, as well as dozens of fabricated daily “news” broadcasts. Thousands of posters depicted children with hammers and sickles stamped on their foreheads. The Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei defeated Allende by 17%, with a huge majority among women.
But despite the US propaganda campaign, Allende was finally elected in 1970. When he consolidated his position in Congressional elections in 1973 despite a virtual US economic embargo and an ever-escalating destabilization campaign, his fate was sealed, at the hands of the CIA and the US-backed military, led by General Pinochet.
In Ukraine, the US has worked since independence in 1991 to promote pro-Western parties and candidates, climaxing in the “Orange Revolution” in 2004. But the Western-backed governments of Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko became just as corrupt and unpopular as previous ones, and former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was elected President in 2010.
The US employed all its traditional tactics leading up to the coup in 2014. The US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has partially taken over the CIA’s role in grooming opposition candidates, parties and political movements, with an annual budget of $100 million to spend in countries around the world. The NED made no secret of targeting Ukraine as a top priority, funding 65 projects there, more than in any other country. The NED’s neoconservative president, Carl Gershman, called Ukraine “the biggest prize” in a Washington Post op-ed in September 2013, as the US operation there prepared to move into its next phase.
2) Violent street demonstrations
In November 2013, the European Union presented President Yanukovich with a 1,500 page “free trade agreement,” similar to NAFTA or the TPP, but which withheld actual EU membership from Ukraine. The agreement would have opened Ukraine’s borders to Western exports and investment without a reciprocal opening of the EU’s borders. Ukraine, a major producer of cheese and poultry, would have been allowed to export only 5% of its cheese and 1% of its poultry to the EU. Meanwhile Western firms could have used Ukraine as a gateway to flood Russia with cheap products from Asia. This would have forced Russia to close its borders to Ukraine, shattering the industrial economy of Eastern Ukraine.
Understandably, and for perfectly sound reasons as a Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich rejected the EU agreement. This was the signal for pro-Western and right-wing groups in Kiev to take to the street. In the West, we tend to interpret street demonstrations as representing surges of populism and democracy. But we should distinguish left-wing demonstrations against right-wing governments from the kind of violent right-wing demonstrations that have always been part of US regime change strategy.
In Tehran in 1953, the CIA spent a million dollars to hire gangsters and “extremely competent professional organizers”, as the CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt called them, to stage increasingly violent demonstrations, until loyal and rebel army units were fighting in the streets of Tehran and at least 300 people were killed. The CIA spent millions more to bribe members of parliament and other influential Iranians. Mossadegh was forced to resign, and the Shah restored Western ownership of the oil industry. BP divided the spoils with American firms, until the Shah was overthrown 26 years later by the Iranian Revolution and the oil industry was re-nationalized. This pattern of short-term success followed by eventual independence from US interests is a common result of CIA coups, most notably in Latin America, where they have led many of our closest neighbors to become increasingly committed to political and economic independence from the United States.
In Haiti in 2004, 200 US special forces trained 600 FRAPH militiamen and other anti-Lavalas forces at a training camp across the border in the Dominican Republic. These forces then invaded northern Haiti and gradually spread violence and chaos across the country to set the stage for the overthrow of President Aristide.
In Ukraine, street protests turned violent in January 2014 as the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and the Right Sector militia took charge of the crowds in the streets. The Right Sector militia only appeared in Ukraine in the past 6 months, although it incorporated existing extreme-right groups and gangs. It is partly funded by Ukrainian exiles in the US and Europe, and may be a creation of the CIA. After Right Sector seized government buildings, parliament outlawed the protests and the police reoccupied part of Independence Square, killing two protesters.
On February 7th, the Russians published an intercepted phone call betweenAssistant Secretary of State Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. The intercept revealed that US officials were preparing to seize the moment for a coup in Ukraine. The transcript reads like a page from a John Le Carre novel: “I think we’re in play… we could land jelly-side up on this one if we move fast.” Their main concern was to marginalize heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who had become the popular face of the “revolution” and was favored by the European Union, and to ensure that US favorite Arseniy Yatsenyuk ended up in the Prime Minister’s office.
On the night of February 17th, Right Sector announced a march from Independence Square to the parliament building on the 18th. This ignited several days of escalating violence in which the death toll rose to 110 people killed, including protesters, government supporters and 16 police officers. More than a thousand people were wounded. Vyacheslav Veremyi, a well-known reporter for a pro-government newspaper, was dragged out of a taxi near Independence Square and shot to death in front of a crowd of onlookers. Right Sector broke into an armory near Lviv and seized military weapons, and there is evidence of both sides using snipers to fire from buildings in Kiev at protesters and police in the streets and the square below. Former security chief Yakimenko believes that snipers firing from the Philharmonic building were US-paid foreign mercenaries, like the snipers from the former Yugoslavia who earn up to $2,000 per day shooting soldiers in Syria.
As violence raged in the streets, the government and opposition parties held emergency meetings and reached two truce agreements, one on the night of February 19th and another on the 21st, brokered by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland. But Right Sector rejected both truces and called for the “people’s revolution” to continue until Yanukovich resigned and the government was completely removed from power.
3) The coup d’etat.
The creation and grooming of opposition forces and the spread of violence in the streets are deliberate strategies to create a state of emergency as a pretext for removing an elected or constitutional government and seizing power. Once the coup leaders have been trained and prepared by their CIA case officers, US officials have laid their plans and street violence has broken down law and order and the functioning of state institutions, all that remains is to strike decisively at the right moment to remove the government and install the coup leaders in its place. In Iran, faced with hundreds of people being killed in the streets, Mohammad Mosaddegh resigned to end the bloodshed. In Chile, General Pinochet launched air strikes on the presidential palace. In Haiti in 2004, US forces landed to remove President Aristide and occupy the country.
In Ukraine, Vitaly Klitschko announced that parliament would open impeachment proceedings against Yanukovich, but, later that day, lacking the 338 votes required for impeachment, a smaller number of members simply approved a declaration that Yanukovich “withdrew from his duties in an unconstitutional manner,” and appointed Oleksandr Turchynov of the opposition Fatherland Party as Acting President. Right Sector seized control of government buildings and patrolled the streets. Yanukovich refused to resign, calling this an illegal coup d’etat. The coup leaders vowed to prosecute him for the deaths of protesters, but he escaped to Russia. Arseniy Yatsenyuk was appointed Prime Minister on February 27th, exactly as Nuland and Pyatt had planned.
The main thing that distinguishes the US coup in Ukraine from the majority of previous US coups was the minimal role played by the Ukrainian military. Since 1953, most US coups have involved using local senior military officers to deliver the final blow to remove the elected or ruling leader. The officers have then been rewarded with presidencies, dictatorships or other senior positions in new US-backed regimes. The US military cultivates military-to-military relationships to identify and groom future coup leaders, and President Obama’s expansion of US special forces operations to 134 countries around the world suggests that this process is ongoing and expanding, not contracting.
But the neutral or pro-Russian position of the Ukrainian military since it was separated from the Soviet Red Army in 1991 made it an impractical tool for an anti-Russian coup. So Nuland and Pyatt’s signal innovation in Ukraine was to use the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and Right Sector as a strike force to unleash escalating violence and seize power. This also required managing Svoboda and Right Sector’s uneasy alliance with Fatherland and UDAR, the two pro-Western opposition parties who won 40% between them in the 2012 parliamentary election.
Historically, about half of all US coups have failed, and success is never guaranteed. But few Americans have ended up dead or destitute in the wake of a failed coup. It is always the people of the target country who pay the price in violence, chaos, poverty and instability, while US coup leaders like Nuland and Pyatt often get a second – or 3rd or 4th or 5th – bite at the apple, and will keep rising through the ranks of the State Department and the CIA.
Direct US military intervention in Ukraine was not an option before the coup, but now the coup itself may destabilize the country and plunge it into economic collapse, regional disintegration or conflict with Russia, creating new and unpredictable conditions in which NATO intervention could become feasible.

US aid to Nazis
Canada is of course not the only NATO “ally” to be sending arms to Ukraine.
As Max Blumenthal has extensively reported, US weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, and training have been provided to Azov.
Under pressure from the Pentagon, a clause in the annually renewed defense bill banning US aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion was repeatedly stripped out.
This went on for three straight years before Democratic lawmaker Ro Khanna and others pushed it through earlier this year.
For his trouble Khanna was smeared in Washington as a “K Street sellout” who was “holding Putin’s dirty laundry.”
Despite the ban finally passing, Azov’s status as an official unit of the Ukrainian armed forces leaves it unclear how US aid can be separated out.
In 2014, the Israel lobby groups ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center refused to help a previous attempt to bar US aid to neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine.
Attempts by some in Congress to bar US military aid to Nazis in Ukraine may explain military aid from Israel.
Israel’s “deepening military-technical cooperation” with Ukraine and its fascist militias is likely a way to help its partner in the White House, and is another facet of the growing Zionist-White Supremacist alliance.
Israel has historically acted as a useful route through which US presidents and the CIA can circumvent congressional restrictions on aid to various unsavory groups and governments around the world.
In 1980s Latin America, these included the Contras, who were fighting a war against the left-wing revolutionary government of Nicaragua, as well as a host of other Latin American fascist death squads and military dictatorships.
It also included the South African apartheid regime, which Israeli governments of both the “Zionist left” and Likudnik right armed for decades.
As quoted in Andrew and Leslie Cockburn’s book Dangerous Liaison, one former member of the Israeli parliament, General Mattityahu Peled, put it succinctly: “In Central America, Israel is the ‘dirty work’ contractor for the US administration. Israel is acting as an accomplice and an arm of the United States.”
Amid an alarming rise in anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism, Israel now appears to be reprising this role in eastern Europe.

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Ethan Huff

Ethan Huff is a staff writer at NaturalNews, and as such responsible for a fair proportion of the wild-eyed conspiracy theories and insane pseudoscience peddled there. Huff is perhaps most notable for his anti-vaccine articles but adds some extra conspiracy theories, viz. that when certain people he thought were going to support the anti-vaccine cause turned out not to, it must be because either i) Big Pharma got to them, or ii) they are mentally ill; yes, that’s how things go down in the epistemic abyss that is NaturalNews. As for his article “H1N1 vaccine linked to 700 percent increase in miscarriages,” well, it was based on the “research” by Eileen Dannemann – indeed, his only source is Dannemann; although several sources are listed, they are all based exhaustively on her. We have encountered Dannemann before. We have encountered other examples of misusing the VAERS database before, too, but Dannemann’s idiocy still manages to impress (she got some anecdotes, too, as well as her own press release – which she cited in her own “research”).
Huff has also weighed in on the scientific process. In particular, after a debate at the British Royal Society, where Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal (now The BMJ), took the role of attacking the current processes of research dissemination and hyperbolically called the peer review process a “sacred cow” ready to “slaughtered” Huff took it the only way someone in his cognitive situation could, and the result was the article “‘Sacred cow’ of industry science cult should be slaughtered for the good of humanity, BMJ editor says.” Of course, people like Huff really don’t like peer review, which is a process inherently biased against pseudoscientific, unsupported nonsense dreamed up by people with little understanding of the field they are trying to engage with. Apart from that, I don’t think Huff’s article needs much comment.
It seems to illustrate a common strategy of Huff’s, though: Pick up some anecdotes, quackery, or anti-science covered somewhere else and, if necessary, add some conspiracy theories before covering it on NaturalNews – here is (a commentary on) Huff reporting a very, very dubious breast cancer testimonial reported in The Sun – dubious, in that the person in question, though praising altmed quackery for her recovery, was in fact cured – to the extent she was – by conventional medicine. Or just go for the tinfoil-hat-level conspiracies: In a preemptive review of the movie Contagion, based on the trailer, Huff penned “Hollywood begins mass brainwashing campaign to get people ready for the next bioengineered virus release.” No seriously: “The entertainment industry is no stranger to government propaganda campaigns, and the latest Hollywood flicks are no exception. A quick look at the trailer for the upcoming release of the movie Contagion reveals what appears to be a massive brainwashing campaign designed to prepare the American psyche for the next [!] intentional release of a bioengineered virus – and it also conveniently and subtly programs viewers into accepting the idea that vaccines might be the solution to a major, devastating disease outbreak.” And you have no idea how deep the conspiracy goes: You may not have noticed, but Huff has, that the themes of major movie releases over the past several decades are predictive of what ends up taking place not too long afterwards, which clearly shows “that Hollywood is deeply connected to the agendas of those that are now in control of various world governments, including the US government.” For instance, the movie Armageddon clearly predicted 9/11 since it mentioned the possibility of an asteroid hitting New York, and that proves that the government masterminded 9/11 and that Hollywood is in on it. Reflect on that, sheeple!
Meanwhile, Huff is doing his best to protect you from the big bad wolves in the name of “health freedom”. Huff has for instance promoted, and urged his readers to tell Congress to support, a bill entitled the “Free Speech About Science” (FSAS) Act of 2011, which curbs the FDA’s powers to hold supplement manufacturers accountable for the health benefits of the snakeoil they make – basically that such companies’s right to “free speech” means that they shouldn’t be forced to back up their claims with evidence (“the bill will amend current law to allow growers and manufacturers to freely share honest information about food and supplements with their customers,” according to Huff). Clearly, stopping poor supplement manufacturers from falsely advertising their products is an abuse of the health freedom of average Americans. (Defense of supplement manufacturers is a recurring theme of Huff’s).
You get the gist.
Diagnosis: Once again: you get the gist. Ethan Huff is an utterly lunatic tinfoil hatter and hard to distinguish from people with epilepsy-inducing webpage designs and weird font choices who are complaining that the lizard people in their TVs have possessed their ex-partners, were it not for the fact that Huff is usually able to stick to ordinary grammar conventions. And even so, NaturalNews can apparently pride themselves on a rather substantial readership.

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.

Al Ouimet

Goodnighties is a sleepwear product that will ostensibly “maximize sleep benefits” by neutralizing “the stress our bodies produce.” It does so since it is “made with a smart-fabric” that is “stimulating blood flow with negative ions to tired strained muscles.” If you worry about “bullshit” based on that description, rest assured that your worries will not be allayed by trying to go further into the details (some of which are discussed here). In any case, the sleepwear is supposed to be impregnated with a substance that emits negative ions. How that is connected to “the stress our bodies produce” is anybody’s guess, and that’s without even raising the question of how it is supposed to cureit, even if the ions could be directed to specific “tired, strained muscled” when absorbed by our bodies, which they cannot, even if they existed in the product, which tests (this one is a good report of various tests done on the product) suggest they do not. None of that prevents the company from making some spectacularly grandiose claims about the product, such as that the negative ions “increase blood flow and oxygen to relieve pain and restore joint mobility, “restore pH balance”, and (at the same time) “promote an alkaline reaction in the cells,” and that athletes use the product, the primary function of which is to provide a more peaceful sleep, as “a stimulus to enhance physical performance”. The product has, however, been promoted by Dr. Oz. So has astrology and communication with the spirits of the dead.
Most of the, uh, science supposedly supporting the product has been systematized by one Dr. Albert Ouimet, their leading scientist (we’re not sure whether there are more) and part of the original IonX development team (ditto). Ouimet has more recently also expanded the product sortiment, all based on ridiculous nonsense. Energy Athletic Golf (“powered by IonX”), for instance, can ostensibly “improve all aspects [products like this usually come with pretty strong claims] of a golfer’s game, helping to energize, increase focus and add power during every round” by “ionization”. The claim is discussed here. According to Ouimet, “science has learned […] that ionization energizes the body’s electrical circuits,” which “stimulates blood flow, increases efficiency of power and speeds up recovery.” Ah, yes, the science. If Ouimet knows what it means, then surely his target audience does not. How does it work? “With coverage many times greater than a bracelet or necklace, the IonX Ionized Energy Fabric, exclusive to Energy Athletic Golf, delivers ionized energy to the entire upper body through a negatively charged electromagnetic field built into the molecular structure of the fabric.” And apart from some technobabble and the claim that the shirt in question works with the body’s own “force field”, that’s pretty much all the details you will get. You will, however, also be told that “wearing Energy Athletic powered by IonX will have the advantage of increased average power of 2.7%” – “power” being that bar in the upper right of your screen that blinks red when it’s low. He’s also got a graph. And testimonials, of course.
Diagnosis: Some may find it hard to believe that Al Ouimet is a loon, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt (or not, depending how you see it), and suggest that he is a derangedly insane crackpot. His customers definitely are, at least.

No responses yet

Leave a Reply