Monday, August 31, 2009

America's Tortured Past

America's Tortured Past - by Stephen Lendman

On August 24, an ACLU press release stated:

In response to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, "The government today handed over to the American Civil Liberties Union (one of dozens of documents comprising an unprecedented 130,000 previously secret pages, including) a detailed official description of the CIA's interrogation program."

Referring to a heavily redacted December 2004 report (originally commissioned by CIA director George Tenet) detailing torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, it "describes the use of abusive interrogation techniques including forced nudity, sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation and stress positions." Far worse ones were understated or redacted entirely.

According to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

The report "is a profoundly disturbing document that illustrates, as well as anything could, how far the CIA strayed from the law and from values that are integral to our democracy. That the barbaric methods outlined in the paper were approved by the country's senior-most officials is particularly appalling."

Bush's Justice Department office of legal counsel head, now a federal appeals court judge, Jay Bybee, advised the CIA that torture and threats of imminent death were legal if they didn't cause mental harm even though US and international law forbid all forms at all times with no exceptions allowed for any reason.

Given America's tortured past, none of this should surprise. More on that below.

On August 25 in The New York Times, Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti headlined: "Report Shows Tight CIA Control on Interrogations." Claiming it "focused on aberrations in the field," the writers said "by no means (did it represent) gung-ho operatives running wild. It is a portrait of overwhelming control exercised from CIA headquarters and the Department of Justice - control Bush administration officials say was intended to ensure that the program was safe and legal."

These same officials said:

-- federal courts have no jurisdiction and can't review detainee mistreatment or mistaken arrests;

-- US and international laws don't apply in the "war on terror;" and

-- the President as Commander-in-Chief enjoys "the fullest range of power to protect the nation....(that he has) complete discretion in the exercise of his authority in conducting operations against hostile forces."

The 2006 Military Commissions Act authorized torture, created the lawless category of "unlawful enemy combatants," denied them judicial fairness, claimed they can be disappeared, indefinitely detained with no right to counsel, then tried by kangaroo tribunals with no right of appeal and executed.

To protect national security, they may be subjected to all forms of abuse, innocent or guilty, and the right of "military necessity" justifies the most extreme mistreatment.

Any form of intense and prolonged physical and psychological torture may be inflicted short of causing injuries resulting in death, organ failure, or permanent damage - continuing America's long tradition of inflicting abusive barbaric treatment.

The Times gave examples, but omitted prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, painful shackling, severe beatings, electric shocks, induced hypothermia, exposure to bright lights and eardrum-shattering sounds 24 hours a day, denial of medical care, proper food or enough of it, excruciating force-feeding to hunger-strikers, induced psychological trauma, forced sodomy, threats and bites by attack dogs, being blindfolded and hung from the ceiling by their wrists, and subjected to repeated humiliations, indignities and barbarism for months, even years, although most Guantanamo detainees (and others) committed no crime and were turned in for bounties that snared children as young as 13.

Deaths resulted from asphyxiation, extreme beatings, and deprivation prolonged enough to cause organ failure. Yet Attorney General Eric Holder plans no more than prosecutorial investigations (by a career Justice Department insider) of "rogue" agents, not top officials who authorized their crimes and bear main responsibility for them.

At the same time, Obama's Interrogation and Transfer Policy Task Force will continue the Bush administration's policy of extraordinary renditions to countries with disturbing histories of torture, provoking outcries from human rights activists. It assures continuation of abusive practices despite hollow assurances of closer monitoring, more humane treatment, and greater access for diplomats - the same never honored Bush administration pledges suggesting a similar betrayal by Obama.

Revealed CIA Report Abuses

On August 28, the Washington Post headlined, "CIA Releases Its Instructions For Breaking a Detainee's Will," then continued:

"As the session begins, the detainee stands naked, except for a hood covering his head. Guards shackle his arms and legs, then slip a small collar around his neck. The collar will be used later; according to CIA guidelines for interrogations, it will serve as a handle for slamming the detainee's head against a wall."

"After removing the hood, the interrogator opens with a slap across the face (followed by more slaps). Next comes head-slamming, or 'walling'....'twenty or thirty times consecutively' is permissible (and) if that fails, there are far harsher techniques to be tried."

The New York Times said the Bush administration's Justice Department knew about two dozen abuse cases years ago but declined to pursue prosecutions despite detainee deaths and other extreme examples of torture.

Manadel al-Jamadi was a victim. Captured by Navy Seals in October 2003, he was beaten and tortured, then suspended from a barred window with his arms tied behind his back. He died in November. Army reservist Charles Graner was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment at Fort Leavenworth military prison. Eight Navy Seals received light administrative punishment for torturing al-Jamadi and other prisoners. Higher-ups at Abu Ghraib remained free to abuse others.

Redacting the worst crimes and omitting all committed at secret "black sites," the CIA report revealed the following:

-- one or more detainees were told their mothers would be raped in their presence;

-- CIA operatives conducted mock executions by firing guns in adjoining rooms even though a federal law expressly forbids threatening detainees with imminent death;

-- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was told his children would be killed if America experienced another terrorist attack;

-- a detainee was repeatedly knocked out from pressure to his carotid artery;

-- inmates were threatened with guns;

-- Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the accused mastermind of the October 2000 US Cole bombing, was terrorized with a power drill, nearly drowned by waterboarding, and according to a 2006 ICRC report was threatened with sodomy and the arrest and rape of his family;

-- other evidence from an internal Justice Department investigation revealed reports of prisoners abused in US military custody as early as 2002; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was informed and did nothing to stop them;

-- a December 2004-initiated Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation revealed that top White House, Defense Department and CIA officials turned a blind eye to repeated acts of torture and abuse; in addition, the FBI knew about them, failed to act, and only belatedly reported them after Abu Ghraib photographs became public.

CIA officials knew they faced "potentially serious long-term political and legal challenges as a result of the program, particularly (their) use of (extreme interrogation practices) and the inability of the US Government to decide what it will ultimately do with terrorists detained by the agency." They also feared public knowledge could "seriously damage....the reputation and effectiveness of the agency itself." Yet they continued the most abusive practices and still do given the cover afforded them by the Obama administration.

America's Tortured Past

Many, perhaps most or all countries have used torture at times in their past, so it shouldn't surprise that America did as far back as before the republic's birth. Accused 17th century Salem witches faced abusive interrogations, a less extreme form of waterboarding, grueling trials, death by hanging for those convicted, and at least one victim was crushed to death under heavy boulders. None so far as known was burned alive.

Native Americans were (and still are) victims of genocide through mass slaughter, starvation, neglect, and by exposing them to deadly pathogens like smallpox and other diseases, including influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria, typhus, plague, cholera, and scarlet fever.

Entire tribes were annihilated. Columbus exterminated the whole Hispaniola population by torture, mass-murder, forced labor, starvation, disease, despair, stabbing natives for sport, dashing babies' heads on rocks, letting children be eaten by dogs, beheadings, and burning people at the stake among other atrocities, including especially brutal treatment of women.

In the antebellum South, slaves were tortured by whipping, painful restraint, prolonged isolation in a sealed shed with choking tobacco smoke, and by other punishments. Theodore Roosevelt defended water torture (today's waterboarding) called the "water cure" to extract confessions from Filipinos because "nobody was seriously damaged."

In 1995, Bill Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39) authorizing extraordinary rendition to other countries for interrogations and torture.

Torture As A Weapon of War

In his book, "War Without Mercy," John Dower documented atrocities by both sides in the Pacific war. American forces "mutilat(ed) Japanese war dead for souvenirs, attack(ed) and (sank) hospital ships, sho(t) sailers who had abandoned ship and pilots who had bailed out, kill(ed) wounded soldiers on the battlefield, and tortur(ed) and execut(ed) prisoners."

Japanese ones aside, American atrocities included civilian abuse, burying combatants alive, and routinely using torture against a race called so vile and subhuman that all forms of barbarism were justified to exterminate them.

In the Korean War, mass indiscriminate killing of civilians was commonplace. It got General Curtis LeMay to boast that US planes "burned down every town in North Korea," killing 20% or more of the population. Both sides committed barbaric acts, including massacres and torture.

Korean expert Bruce Cumings explained the "extraordinary destructiveness of the United States air campaigns, from the widespread and continuous use of firebombing (mainly with napalm), to threats to use nuclear and chemical weapons," to the use of biological weapons, to incinerating whole towns and villages, turning the entire North to rubble, and slaughtering millions of its people, mainly civilians.

In Hwangjoo County, US forces designated one area a hand-grenade field, killing 500 civilians. Prisoners and civilians were buried alive, burned, drowned, shot, stabbed, and beaten to death. In Hwemun Village in Erang County, one woman, after arrest, was forcibly mutilated. Her breasts, legs, and arms were cut off. Then her eyes were gouged out before she was stabbed to death. Others were beheaded. Thousands of civilians were brutally tortured. One family of six was hanged upside down from a tree and burned alive. Another civilian was skinned alive, then burned to death.

Still others were murdered with bats, spears, stones, sticks, clubs, flails, and pickaxes. Women were assaulted and raped. In all, US forces massacred tens of thousands of civilians systematically, ruthlessly, and brutally, including by disemboweling them while alive.

Barbarity in Vietnam was even worse. Atrocities were widespread and commonplace, including massacres, rape, torture, mutilations, wanton mass destruction, use of chemical and biological weapons, and as Richard Nixon told Henry Kissinger: "We're gonna level that goddam country. We're gonna hit 'em, bomb the livin' bejusus out of 'em." Kissinger concurred in replying: "Mr. President, I will enthusiastically support that, and I think it's the right thing to do."

US forces got carte blanche to carpet bomb, incinerate entire villages, burn people alive, fire freely on civilians, murder wounded prisoners or beat them to death, throw people out of helicopters, torture sadistically, gang rape young girls, and commit every imaginable atrocity to people called gooks, vermin, or as General William Westmoreland described them, "worthless termites." Against them, as in the Middle East and Central Asia, inflicting any form of human suffering is permissible.

Torture by US Police

For decades to the present, police have used torture to intimidate, extract confessions, treat people of color especially sadistically, especially black men. In Chicago, the practice has been scandalous according to the Human Rights at Home Chicago Police Torture Archive. Below is the timeline of one of the most egregious examples:

-- in May 1972, the notorious Jon Burge (trained in torture techniques in Vietnam) was assigned to the Area Two detective division on the city's South Side, a predominantly black community;

-- in August 1972, allegations of torture against him and other detectives surfaced;

-- in May, 1973, Anthony Jones was tortured by electric shock and suffocation with a plastic bag;

-- in 1977, Burge was promoted to sergeant;

-- from 1973 - 1981, torture allegations were made against him and his men; Russian roulette, brutal beatings, and other abuses were cited;

-- in 1981, Burge was promoted to lieutenant in charge of the Violent Crimes Unit at Area 2;

-- from 1981 - 1993, dozens of victims made torture accusations, suits were filed, but through 1990, the administration and City Council took no action; Mayor Daley made "no comment whatever;"

-- after torturing detainees for 21 years, the Chicago Police Board fired Burge;

-- in March 1993, the Fraternal Order of Police planned to honor him with a float in the annual St. Patrick Day's parade; community outrage stopped it;

-- in 1993 and 1994, torture allegations against other officers were investigated; through 1998, no action was taken;

-- in November 1999, torture expert Dr. Robert Kirschner testified that abuses by Chicago police followed a pattern found in nations where the military and other security forces practice it;

-- in 2004, several former black detectives under Burge admitted in sworn statements that they saw or heard evidence of torture, saw implements used (including Burge's "shock box"), and that abusive practices were an "open secret" at Area 2;

-- Burge was never charged with a crime, is retired, and now lives in Florida; and

-- the Burge case was notorious in Chicago, but is just the tip of the iceberg there and throughout the country; rarely are abusers held accountable; often they're rewarded and promoted.

Torture in US Prisons

Imprisonments are to punish, not rehabilitate, as those confined can attest, and what's experienced inside is shocking and lawless, but prisoners are powerless to resist:

-- savage beatings by prison guards and other inmates;

-- psychological intimidation and abuse;

-- attacks by fierce dogs;

-- arbitrary abusive shakedowns;

-- lengthy solitary confinement for minor infractions;

-- abusive strip searches;

-- extended lockdowns during which prisoners are confined to their cells;

-- electroshocks with cattle prods and 50,000 volt emitting Tasers that leave victims shaking for hours and are potent enough to kill;

-- assaults by toxic chemicals like pepper spray or mace that cause severe pain, second degree burns, temporary blindness, and occasionally death; and

-- sodomy by guards and other inmates.

Supermax confinement is much worse:

-- the above abuses and extreme deprivation are common;

-- inmates have little contact with staff and none with other prisoners;

-- they're confined alone in small windowless cells for 23 hours a day;

-- they have no work, social contact, education, recreation, rehabilitation, or privacy;

-- when outside their cells, they're painfully shackled and escorted by four-man teams; and

-- over time, the toll is devastating: severe anxiety and panic attacks; lethargy; insomnia, nightmares; dizziness; irrational anger, at times uncontrollable; confusion; social withdrawal; loss of memory and appetite; delusions and hallucinations; self-mutilation; profound despair and hopelessness; suicidal thoughts; and paranoia and schizophrenia.

Many are too scarred psychologically to ever adjust normally again in society. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. In US prisons, it's brutally inflicted. At around 2.4 million, America has the world's largest prison population, more than China and India combined. Poor blacks and Latinos comprise two-thirds of it. Most prisoners committed non-violent crimes (commonly elicit drugs possession) yet are victims of violence inside against which they have no redress or ability to avoid.

The CIA's Tortured Past

Since the 1950s, the CIA conducted torture experiments, including very harsh mind control forms. At McGill University's Allan Memorial Institute, the agency funded Dr. Ewen Cameron's work with psychiatric patients, keeping them asleep and isolated for weeks, administering LSD and PCP angel dust cocktails, then monitoring the results. They showed that sensory deprivation and hallucinogenic drugs disrupt clear thinking enough to make subjects receptive to suggestion. The CIA developed a new interrogation technique that University of Wisconsin historian Alfred McCoy called "the first real revolution in the cruel science of pain in more than three centuries."

In his book, "A Question of Torture," McCoy explained how techniques were developed, refined, codified in manuals, used extensively in Southeast Asia, Central America, and now everywhere, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at secret black sites globally. A worldwide gulag exists with no oversight or legal compliance - on US bases, torture ships, and in prisons of complicit countries. Nothing is banned, including the most inhumanely harmful abuses.

At Fort Benning, Georgia's School of the Americas, SOA (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or WHINSEC), hemispheric security force students are taught the latest ways to torture, repress, exterminate poor and indigenous people, overthrow democratically elected governments, assassinate targeted leaders, and suppress popular resistance when it erupts. They practice techniques of sensory deprivation and overload, mind control, forced nudity and other humiliations, sleep and food manipulation, how to inflict physical and psychological pain, and commit virtually any atrocity imaginable, designed for maximum impact.

In making a case for "torture warrants," Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz asked "should law enforcement be authorized to torture suspects who are thought to have information about a ticking bomb," then claimed that "scenario had long been a staple of legal and political philosophers" to justify the most extreme forms of abuse.

Torture, he claims, "can sometimes produce truthful information" despite its prohibition at all times for any purpose. In addition, experts say it doesn't work and non-abusive practices are much more effective. The US Army Field Manual 34-52, Chapter 1 says:

"Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear."

A declassified May 10, 2004 FBI document said the agency "has been successful for many years obtaining confessions via non-confrontational interviewing techniques." A former FBI interrogator said torture turns people into terrorists, and top CIA and military experts categorically say torture doesn't work.

Yet apologists like Dershowitz and others claim it does and in ticking bomb cases is justified. He and at least four other Harvard Law School professors agree, leading international human rights expert and University of Illinois Law School Professor Francis Boyle to call "Harvard's Gitmo Kangaroo Law School" the "School for Torturers" and advises parents not to "send your children (there) where they will grow up to become racist war criminals!....Harvard is to Law School as Torture is to Law....Harvard Law School is a Neo-Con longer fit to educate Lawyers, Members of the Bar, and Officers of the Court."

George Bush's Secret Torture Memorandum

Dated February 7, 2002, it directed the Vice-President, Secretaries of State and Defense, Attorney General, White House Chief of Staff, CIA Director, National Security Affairs Assistant, and Joint Chiefs Chairman regarding "Humane Treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda Detainees."

It states:

Regarding the treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda detainees, "Geneva applies to conflicts involving 'High Contracting Parties,' which can only be states. However, the war against terrorism ushers in a new paradigm, one in which groups with broad, international reach commit horrific acts against innocent civilians, sometimes with the direct support of states. (This) requires new thinking in the law of war (thus) I hereby determine as follows:

-- "....none of the provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with al Queda in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world...."

-- "....I have the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva between the United States and Afghanistan (but) I determine that the provisions of Geneva will apply to our present conflict with the Taliban;"

-- however, "I....determine that common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either al Qaeda or Taliban detainees....; (Therefore, these detainees) are unlawful combatants not qualify as prisoners of war under Article 4 of Geneva...."

"I hereby direct the secretary of state to communicate my determinations in an appropriate manner to our allies, and other countries and international organizations cooperating in the war against terrorism of global reach."


George W. Bush

On July 9 in Common Dreams, former CIA officer Ray McGovern wrote: "Seldom does a crime scene have so clear a smoking gun" that exposes the president authorizing torture as official US policy and commanding his top officials to implement it.

Barack Obama's January 22 Executive Orders banned torture, directed the closure of CIA black sites and Guantanamo, and the "immediate review of all" its detainees. They also halted Military Commission proceedings, and assured that "humane standards of confinement" will be observed in accordance with international humanitarian laws, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It prohibits:

-- "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

-- outrages of personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;"

-- carrying out sentences or execution "without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples;" and

-- caring for the wounded and sick, including by an impartial body like the ICRC "offer(ing) its services to the Parties to the conflict."

He ordered the rule of law restored, but never followed through. Detainees are still at Guantanamo. Conditions and practices there are unchanged. Torture and other indignities remain official US policy. Inmate lawyers report a ramping up of abuses, including beatings, dislocation of limbs, pepper spraying in closed cells, force-feeding of hunger strikers, and other violations of US and international laws.

In addition, CIA black sites remain open. Extraordinary renditions were reauthorized. Restoring the rule of law was abandoned. The Global War on Terror was rebranded the "Overseas Contingency Operation" to include the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and enemies throughout the world.

Policies are unchanged under an administration as lawless as its predecessor and with an "absolute (commitment) to eliminat(e) the threat of terrorism (with) the full force of our power," including by using torture.

In a March 2008 campaign speech, Obama said the following:

"I believe that we must reject torture without equivocation because it does not make us safe, it results in unreliable intelligence, it puts our troops at risk, and it contradicts core American values. When I am president, the American people and the world will be able to trust that I will outlaw torture."

In office, Obama abandoned his promise to end America's sordid, tortured past in violation of the rule of law, ethical and moral standards, and everything he swore he'd change.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Early and Current Fears about Vaccine Dangers

Early and Current Fears about Vaccine Dangers - by Stephen Lendman

Given today's hysteria over a non-existent Swine Flu threat and possible mandating of experimental, untested, toxic, and likely bioengineered vaccines, it's appropriate to review early fears about their dangers - when evidence first surfaced and concerns were raised.

In 1920, Charles Michael Higgins' "Horrors of Vaccination Exposed and Illustrated: Petition to the President to Abolish Compulsory Vaccination in Army and Navy" (now available in a new 2008 edition) issued a "Public Challenge to Health Departments" in citing "Deaths from Vaccination Denied and Concealed - More Deaths from Vaccination than from Smallpox," then continued:

"In order that there shall be no misunderstanding about the serious charge which I bring against vaccination, as being now actually more dangerous to public health and human life than natural smallpox, and the equally serious charge which I make against vaccinating doctors - who now control our Departments of Health and Vital Statistics - of denying and concealing these facts from the people, I now issue this special challenge" to the New York city and state authorities that "I will....prove from their death certificates and vital records, now concealed and withheld from the public, that there have been more deaths from vaccination than from smallpox in every year for the past fifteen years in the City and State of New York."

Calling compulsory vaccinations "medical barbarism," Higgins petitioned President Woodrow Wilson to stop mandating them for army and navy personnel. He cited facts he called shocking, including death certificates of primary school aged children "all killed in one week in September, 1915, from vaccination resulting in lockjaw and septicemia" and numerous others dead from "vaccine infection." Yet throughout 1915, only three people died from smallpox.

Higgins bluntly stated that:

"Compulsory disease as a condition for public schooling or for service in army and navy is medically barbarous and legally unconstitutional, and should be abolished." They violate the "right to life, health, and education..."

He asked Wilson to pardon court-martialed soldiers who refused non-consensual vaccinations, then imprisoned at "hard labor for twenty-five years!....for asserting (their) right to the medical sanctity of (their) own bod(ies)...."

He said that in the 1904 - 05 Russo-Japanese War, typhoid vaccinations weren't used. Instead, for almost the first time, modern, effective sanitation and hygiene practices were employed, and few soldiers experienced typhoid fever. But in the WW I Gallipoli campaign, English soldiers got typhoid vaccinations. Unsanitary conditions prevailed, and many succumbed to typhoid and other infectious diseases. In 1918 under conditions of poor sanitation for US forces, vaccinations proved ineffective in preventing "a high death-rate among the well vaccinated men."

On March 28, 1919, an official report from the Chief Surgeon of the AEF in the US Public Health was titled, "Typhoid Vaccination no Substitute for Sanitary Precautions."

Higgins quoted medical authorities admitting vaccination dangers and condemning their mandatory use. The 1913 edition of Osler's "Modern Medicine," Volume I stated:

"With the greatest care, however, certain (vaccination) risks are present and so it is unwise for the physician to force the operation upon those who are unwilling, or to give assurance of absolute harmlessness."

In 1889, the English Commission on Vaccination exhaustively studied the issue, published its findings in 1896, concluded that vaccinations were dangerous, and said laws making them compulsory should be repealed or modified. An enacted "conscientious clause" subsequently let parents exempt their children. Yet, contrary to fears at the time, smallpox greatly declined because of improved sanitation and good hygiene practices.

As early as the mid-19th century, books about vaccine dangers included Dr. Charles Schieferdecker's "Dr. CGG Nittinger's evils of vaccination" (1856), William Tebb's "Sanitation, not Vaccination the True Protection against Small-Pox" (1881), William White's "The Story of a Great Delusion" (1885), Alfred Russel Wallace's "Vaccination Proved Useless & Dangerous" (1889), Dr. Tenison Deane's "The Crime of Vaccination" (1913), and many others.

In his book, Higgins referred to vaccinations as the cause of "great epidemics of deadly disease in animals and mankind...." and cited government reports he called "notorious public facts."

"In October, November, and December, 1901, (a tetanus epidemic occurred) after vaccination(s were administered) in Camden, Philadelphia, and to a certain extent in near-by towns." Higgins wrote the Secretary of War citing proof "that there was a distinct medical and logical relation between influenza and vaccination, and that many serious diseases, including smallpox and cowpox, commence like influenza...."

The "wholesale and repeated vaccinations in the military camps throughout the world (suggested) that this vaccine infection had escaped....and was running wild as a world-wide epidemic infection," and to check it required all vaccinations be halted. He stressed what he called "no mere hypothesis or theory, but rather a hard fact" borne out by "foot and mouth disease" epidemics in cattle and other animals, "some of which originated from two of the largest vaccine factories in this country," at the time in Philadelphia and Detroit.

He cited US Bureau of Animal Industry and US Department of Agriculture reports that clearly showed vaccine infection as the cause of the 1902 and 1908 epidemics, and the "strong suspicion" that later ones in 1914 and 1915 were as well.

He called for the abolition of "dangerous medical domination and monopoly which now controls our Departments," which had long abused public power, that denied "Medical Truth, Freedom and Progress (and) which should no longer be tolerated." He urged that compulsory army and navy personnel vaccinations be abolished, replaced solely by voluntary ones.

He said "the practice of inflicting on the human body a compulsory medical disease, which is dangerous to the health and life and causes many deaths every year, is obviously illegal and a medical crime on the people which must be suppressed." On September 17, 1919, he asked President Wilson to put a stop to "vaccination horrors and medical mendacities."

Vaccinations Given US Military Forces During Major Military Conflicts since 1775

From at least the 1770s to the present, inoculations were routinely used. From the American Revolution through the Spanish-American War, smallpox vaccinations were administered. In WW I, typhoid was added, and in WW II, shots were given for smallpox, typhoid, typhus, tetanus, cholera, diphtheria influenza, scarlet fever, plague, paratyphoid A and B, and yellow fever. The Korean War adopted the same regimen. Vietnam added immunizations for polio, tetanus-diphteria toxoids, measles and meningococcal.

For the Gulf War, still more were added for anthrax, botulinum, adenovirus types 4 and 7, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), and rabies - a virtual toxic stew besides depleted uranium exposure that combined caused Gulf War syndrome, its devastating effects on many thousands of troops, yet the Pentagon denied it existed.

The Afghan and Iraq wars added varicella (chicken pox), hepatitis A, influenza, yellow fever, pneumococcal, plus the upcoming Swine Flu vaccine. In combination, US military forces now get a greater than ever toxic brew of up to 20 dangerous inoculations plus booster shots (including for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis DTaP) that assure damage to (or destruction of) their immune systems followed by serious health problems later on.

In 1919, Higgins called smallpox and typhoid inoculations "medical barbarism." Today it's at an intolerable level.

Confessions of a Medical Heretic

On April 16, 1988, a portion of a brief New York Times obituary read:

On April 5, "Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn, a physician, author and critic of the medical establishment, died after a brief illness....He was 61 years old." Besides teaching at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, he was best known as "The People's Doctor" and for his 1979 bestseller, "Confessions of a Medical Heretic," in which he cautioned against "the harmful impact upon your life of doctors, drugs and hospitals."

In a November 1984 East West Journal article, he called immunizations a "medical time bomb," and (as a paediatrician) said the "greatest threat to childhood diseases lies in the dangerous and ineffectual efforts made to prevent them." He referred to deceptive marketing practices and called paediatricians objecting to their "bread and butter" the equivalent of a priest denying the infallibility of the Pope.

He urged parents to reject all inoculations for their children, but explained that in many states they're mandatory. He administered them early in his practice, but later stopped "because of the myriad hazards they present." He summarized his concerns as follows:

-- no evidence confirms that vaccinations eliminate childhood diseases;

-- the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines don't work and cited Jonas Salk later admitting that mass inoculations caused an epidemic after 1961;

-- smallpox vaccinations are "the only source of smallpox-related deaths for three decades after the disease had disappeared;"

-- significant inoculation risks are real; parents should avoid them when possible;

-- doctors are derelict for not explaining their hazards and for "defend(ing) them to the death;"

-- a "myriad (of known) short-term hazards (exist but) no one knows the long-term consequences of injecting foreign (substances) into the bod(ies) of your child(ren);"

-- even more shocking is that "no one is making any structured effort to find out," yet

-- suspicions now confirm that mass-inoculations dramatically increase autoimmune and neurological diseases, including leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and numerous others ranging from annoying to lethal;

-- he asked: "Have we traded mumps and measles for cancer and leukemia," and blamed vaccinations for their destructive harm, including thousands of annual SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) deaths; and

-- he said the best way to protect children is make sure they're not vaccinated.

Doctors Speak Out on Vaccine Dangers

The Merck Manual (first published in 1899, now available in a Home Edition) warns individuals with B and/or T cell immunodeficiencies to avoid live-virus vaccines (the main ingredient in ones produced by Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, and perhaps others) due to the risk of severe or fatal infections. Immunodeficiencies include common food allergies, inhalant ones, eczema, dermatitis, neurological deterioration and heart disease. Vaccines may be lethal for people with these conditions because their immune systems can't produce a healthy reaction to the viral assault on them. Getting it may induce illnesses they're intended to prevent and many other potentially deadly ones.

It's no surprise that many doctors, earlier and now, share Mendelsohn's concerns and state them.

On April 2, 2002 in the London Telegraph, autism specialist Dr. Kenneth Aitken said: "When I was in training, one in 2,500 (children were autistic). Now it is one in 250. At the moment, the only logical explanation for this is MMR" immunizations.

On April 27, 1979, at the American Society of Microbiology meeting, a paper by Drs. Anthony Morris, John Chriss, and BG Young titled, "Occurrence of Measles in Previously Vaccinated Individuals" concluded that "By the (US) government's own admission, there has been a 41% failure rate in persons who were previously vaccinated against the (measles) virus."

A 1993 British Medical Journal article stated: "In 1993 a high court judge in the UK decided that it was impossible to know the exact contents of vaccines and that science had no idea what the cocktails of chemicals, contaminants and heavy metals contained in vaccines could do to the human body, or why they would work to prevent disease."

Dr. J. Anthony Morris, former FDA Vaccine Control head said: "There is a great deal of evidence to prove that immunization of children does more harm than good." He concluded that "There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza. The producers of these vaccines know that they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway."

Professor LC Vincent, Bioelectronics founder, said "Vaccines DO predispose to cancer and leukemia."

In December 1985, Dr. Albert Sabin, discoverer of the oral polio vaccine, admitted that "Official data have shown that the large-scale vaccinations undertaken in the US have failed to obtain any significant improvement of the diseases against which they were supposed to provide protection."

The National Institute of Health's (NIH) Dr. James A. Shannon said that "The only wholly safe vaccine is a vaccine that is never used."

Professor Ari Zukerman of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated: "Immunization against smallpox is more hazardous than the disease itself."

Dr. Paul Frame in the Journal of Family Practice believes "There is insufficient evidence to support routine vaccination of healthy persons of any age."

Dr. John B. Classen stated that his "data proves that the studies used to support immunization are so flawed that it is impossible to say if immunization provides a net benefit to anyone or to society in general."

Dr. Gerhard Buchwald concluded from the results of 150 trials that "Vaccination is not necessary, not useful, (and) does not protect. There are twice as many casualties from vaccination as from AIDS."

The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons stated that "Public policy regarding vaccines is fundamentally flawed. It is permeated by conflicts of interest. It is based on poor scientific methodology (and it's) insulated from independent criticism."

In his book, "Health and Nutrition Secrets," Dr. Russell L. Blaylock wrote: "Multiple vaccinations, especially in newborns, are another major source of childhood mercury exposure because of the mercury-containing thimerosal preservative. Over twenty-two vaccinations are now recommended for children before the age of two! Effects of exposure can vary from subtle to major malformations but even minor degrees of maldevelopment can have unacceptable consequences."

Blaylock called flu vaccinations, especially for the elderly, "criminal" because of known substance dangers in them, including methylmercury, phenylmercury, ethylmercury, and aluminum that remain in the nervous system for decades and damage it.

According to the WHO, "The best vaccine against common infectious diseases (is) and adequate diet" along with good sanitation and hygiene practices.

Dr. Rebecca Carley calls vaccinations "The True Weapons of Mass Destruction Causing VIDS, Vaccine Induced Diseases."

Immunogeneticist Dr. Hugh Fudenberg concluded that individuals getting five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the time of his study) were 10 times more vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease than others receiving two or fewer shots. He cited dangerous mercury and aluminum ingredients that accumulate in the brain causing cognitive dysfunction.

Flu shots contain 25 micrograms of mercury. One microgram is considered toxic. By age two, most US children have received around 237 micrograms of mercury through vaccines alone.

Vaccines contain the following toxic and others substances:

-- thimerosal (mercury);

-- aluminum hydroxide and phosphate;

--ammonium sulfate;

-- amphotericin B,

-- animal tissues and fluids, including horse blood, rabbit brain, dog kidney, monkey kidney, chick embryo, chicken egg, duck egg, pig blood, and porcine (pig) protein/tissue;

-- calf serum and fetal bovine serum;

-- betapropiolactone;

-- macerated cancer cells;

-- formaldehyde;

-- formalin;

-- synthetic phenol;

-- gelatin and hydrolyzed gelatin;

-- glycerol;

-- human diploid cells (from aborted human fetal tissue);

-- MSG;

-- the anti-biotics neomycin and neomycin sulfate;

-- phenol red indicator disinfectant dye;

-- phenoxyethanol (antifreeze);

-- potassium monophosphate;

-- polymyxin B;

-- polysorbate 20 and 80;

-- residual MRC5 proteins;

-- sorbitol;

-- sucrose;

-- tri(n)butylphosphate;

-- VERO cells, a continuous line of monkey kidney cells linked to the SV-40 virus known to cause leukemia; and

-- washed sheep red blood cells.

One or a combinations of theses substances can play havoc with the human immune and neurological systems and cause deadly autoimmune and other diseases.

On August 15, a UK Mail Online article linked Swine Flu vaccines to a deadly nerve disorder called Guillan-Barre Syndrome (GBS). It cited a leaked letter from Britain's Health Protection Agency ahead of planned mass-vaccinations in the country. Sent to about 600 neurologists on July 29, it referred to America's 1976 killer virus Swine Flu scare, the urging then that everyone be vaccinated, and the millions who did with these results:

-- people died from the vaccine (from respiratory failure after severe paralysis), not Swine Flu;

-- 500 GBS cases were detected;

-- experts said the vaccine increased the GBS risk level eight-fold;

-- once the link was established, vaccinations were halted, but the damage was done after about 10 weeks of inoculations; and

-- the US government paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle damage claims from thousands of victims.

UK press coverage currently describes concern over the government releasing a vaccine "of unknown safety," yet plans remain to proceed. According to Jackie Fletcher, founder of the vaccine support group Jabs: "The (UK) Government would not be anticipating (trouble) if they didn't think there was a (GBS) connection. What we've got is a massive guinea-pig trial."

In a July 26 article titled, "Startling New Evidence That The 'Swine Flu' Pandemic Is Man-Made," Dr. A. True Ott cited evidence showing that Novartis Pharmaceuticals "conspired with corrupt 'scientists' at the US Army Institute of Pathology, Ft. Detrick, Maryland, to create a 'novel' strain of weaponized 'influenza' virus by....'reverse engineering' the deadly 1918 killer strain (then) maliciously and surreptitiously releas(ing it globally) in March and April 2009 for the primary purpose of creating a panic-stricken world-wide demand for Novartis vaccine material."

Ott claims the vaccine will unleash "lethal waves of increasingly virulent and deadly disease, rather than to curtail and limit the existing outbreak" - for huge profits and "a massive and sudden (worldwide) depopulation" agenda.

He called the scheme much greater than Henry Kissinger's 1974 NSSM-200 diabolical plan for "the immediate reduction of world population" in the hundreds of millions.

In 1987, Dr. Maurice Hillerman, prominent vaccine expert and head of Merck's vaccine division admitted that mass inoculations in the 1950s and 1960s likely caused thousands of annual cancer deaths because the SV40 virus (from dead monkeys) contaminated the first polio vaccine. "According to Hillerman, MERCK KNEW THE VACCINES WERE INFECTED WITH SV40, but distributed them anyway."

Many other examples show that "live viruses in vaccines SPREAD....disease very effectively. When combined with SQUALENE ADJUVANT the virus becomes many times more potent and lethal."

Ott claims Novartis' patent application reveals "smoking gun" evidence. The company admitted that "their 'invented' vaccine will be effective because of ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING THE ORIGINS OF THE PANDEMIC FLU STRAIN THAT WAS 'REVERSE ENGINEERED'....Clearly the pandemic virus was not an act of nature. (It's) a conspiracy to commit mass murder" for profit.

Writing for Citizens for Legitimate Government (CLG), Dr. Andrew Bosworth sounded the alarm about "The Swine Flu Hoax," admitted its mysterious origins, expressed concern that it might be lethal, and suggested that it was either accidently or deliberately released by corporate or government sources to cause a global epidemic for profit and power.

He cited suspicions of doctors and scientists that Swine Flu was man-made because of its unique combination of viruses from different parts of the world. He mentioned spurious media and official reports of Swine Flu deaths, perhaps from conventional flu, another cause, or an unrelated medical condition. He called the US government's pandemic policy "ridiculous" and "repugnant," leaving people terrified and uninformed enough to react adversely to their own well-being.

Current News from Jane Burgermeister's

Burgermeister is the journalist who filed criminal charges against Baxter AG, Baxter International, and Avir Green Hills Biotechnology AG "for producing and distributing contaminated bird flu material this winter, alleging that this was a deliberate act to cause a pandemic, and also to profit" from it. In addition, she accused Austrian Health and other Ministry officials of knowledge and support of this practice, then later named Baxter, Novartis, Sanofi Aventis, world agencies (including the WHO, UN, and CDC), and high-level officials in Austria, other European countries, and America of conspiratorial involvement.

Her web site features the following recent reports:

-- on August 25, the UK Daily Mail said "Up to half of (British) family doctors do not want to be vaccinated against swine flu," and one-third of them said the vaccine was inadequately tested;

-- in Australia, "Leading infectious disease experts have called on the Federal Government to abandon its mass swine-flu vaccination plan because of fears the vaccine is a contamination risk that could spread blood-borne diseases;"

-- In Jacobson v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1905), the US Supreme Court ruled that the state could require people to be vaccinated for the common good; in April 2009, reported that a possible new Massachusetts law (Bill 2028) will require compulsory vaccinations; those refusing face $1,000 a day fines or 30 days in prison; after the state senate unanimously passed it, Catherine Austin Fitts concluded that Boston's money men must be "very scared about something," given that the city is "the capital of equity investment;"

-- on August 25, Health Minister Ulla Schmidt admitted on German TV that the Swine Flu vaccination campaign was a hoax and the largest ever inoculation experiment in history; and

-- on August 22, Dr. Wolfgang Wogarg, chairman of the health committee in the German parliament and European Council, warned about potential Swine Flu vaccine safety. He said Novartis' vaccine contained cancerous animal cells, and emphasized peoples' fears over the disease from being inoculated. "It is a great business for the pharmaceutical industry," he told Neuen Presse. Swine flu is not very different from conventional flu, but the vaccine can have dangerous side effects.

Lessons from the 1976 Swine Flu Outbreak

Soldiers at Fort Dix, NJ were affected. About 240 became ill. One death was reported, but the illness never spread beyond the base, so it's curious why not. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention couldn't explain why the disease was contained or how it was introduced.

More curious is the current hype over person-to-person transmission when it didn't happen in 1976. Northwestern University's Immunology Professor Robert Lamb explains that isolated swine flu cases in humans aren't uncommon. "Every year, you will find some pig farmer somewhere who gets swine flu. But it usually doesn't transmit to his family," let alone to the surrounding area or beyond.

Several years ago, Texas A & M's head of microbial and molecular pathogenesis, John Quarles, isolated a swine flu virus in a student on campus. He took samples from him and about 100 others close to him. Not a single one of them was affected, and according to Quarles: "That's pretty classic for swine flu."

In research conducted by Dr. Pascal James Imperato, dean at SUNY's School of Public Health, he reported that "the 2009 H1N1 virus was less efficiently transmitted by droplet infection (inhalation of respiratory pathogens exhaled by someone infected) in ferrets compared to the seasonal human H1N1 virus. This is a significant finding as it indicates that the 2009 swine flu virus might not be as easily transmitted between humans as its seasonal counterpart" - unless it's bioengineered to make it contagious and deadly.


Swine Flu is a virus-induced respiratory illness in pigs. Few succumb and die, and humans are rarely infected, except occasionally among people having direct contact with infected animals. For most who do, symptoms are generally mild. Medications and other treatments aren't essential. The illness usually lasts from two to seven days, and most patients recover well on their own.

Currently, no global pandemic or public health emergency exists, nor does forensic evidence link H1N1 to reported deaths. Yet fear-mongering persists to convince people globally to submit voluntarily to dangerous, possibly deadly bioengineered, vaccines.

If large numbers of confirmed Swine Flu deaths occur, contrary to compelling scientific reasons why they should not, then serious investigation is called for to determine if inoculations, not H1N1, caused them, and whether corporate greed and government complicity are behind a sinister plot to distract world attention from a deepening global depression, enrich drug companies hugely, and depopulate nations in numbers too horrifying to imagine - or as some observers put it, "depopulation by inoculation."

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Growing Poverty and Despair in America

Growing Poverty and Despair in America - by Stephen Lendman

In 1962, Michael Harrington's "The Other America" exposed the nation's dark underside enough for John Kennedy to ask his Council of Economic Advisor chairman, Walter Heller, to look into the problem and for Lyndon Johnson to say (on January 8, 1964) that his administration "today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America."

In fact, it was little more than a skirmish that fell way short of addressing the real problem in the world's richest nation. Today it's even greater and increasing exponentially under a president who, unlike Johnson, declared war on the poor and disadvantaged to favor privilege over growing needs and essential social change.

In his book, Harrington wrote:

"In morality and in justice every citizen should be committed to abolishing the other America, for it is intolerable that the richest nation in human history should allow such needless suffering. But more than that, if we solve the problem of the other America we will have learned how to solve the problems of all of America." Sadly, we didn't then nor have we now.

Perhaps more than anything, increasing homelessness and hunger highlight the growing problem as, in the face of deteriorating economic conditions and growing human needs, administration policies are indifferent, counterproductive, uncaring and hostile.

In December 2008, Reuters reported that "Homelessness and demand for emergency food are rising in the United States as the economy founders," according to a December 2008 US Conference of Mayor's Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness survey of 25 American cities. Chief causes cited were growing poverty, unemployment, and unaffordable housing costs with greater than ever expected challenges in 2009. At the time, it was reported that "Cities continue to develop aggressive strategies to prevent homelessness" and provide other essential services, but that was then and this is now.

An Epidemic of State Budget Shortfalls

As economic conditions deteriorate, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)'s July 29 report highlighted the growing problem. Titled "New Fiscal Year Brings No Relief from Unprecedented State Budget Problems," it cited the following issues:

-- at least 48 states "addressed or still face shortfalls in (their FY 2010) budgets," the result of "the worst decline in tax receipts in decades;"

-- at issue is a $163 billion deficit or 24% of their budgets, and these numbers keep rising as conditions worsen;

-- at least 33 states "already anticipate" 2011 deficits that may exceed 2010 ones; and

-- for FYs 2010 and 2011, shortfalls of at least $350 billion are expected, and FY 2012 may bring little or no relief.

In response, deep social service cuts are being implemented, putting the burden on vulnerable Americans to cope and survive. The situation is grave and worsening with at least 21 states cutting "low-income children's or families' eligibility for health insurance or reduce their access to health care services."

Elderly and disabled persons programs are also being reduced or eliminated. So are services for home and child care, rehabilitation, and other essential needs for the poor and low-income households. The most vulnerable of all are affected, yet more cuts are expected as new budget pressures arise.

Pre-school, K-12, and higher education cuts are being made as well. Public payrolls and hours worked are being slashed, exacerbating the growing unemployment problem, worse still by cutting pay for the still-employed. Tax increases may also be considered at the worst possible time.

"Expenditure cuts and tax increases are problematic policies during an economic downturn because they reduce overall demand and can make the downturn deeper. When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, eliminate or lower payments to businesses and nonprofit organizations that provide direct services, and cut benefit payments to individuals."

Demand is then reduced because households have less to spend. As a result, the economic crisis deepens. CBPP said federal assistance is crucial, yet the Obama administration declined while providing trillions to Wall Street and other corporate favorites. That's the state of governance in America today under Republican and Democrat administrations, each no different from the other.

Hunger in America

On its web site, Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest) said in "the land of plenty," one in eight Americans (meaning millions) face growing hunger problems, and not just the poor and unemployed. They're "often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet" and have to forego meals at times, even for days.

Hunger and Poverty Facts

-- in (pre-crisis) 2007, 37.5 million people were impoverished; they comprised:

-- 12.5% of the population and 9.8% of families;

-- 20.3 million or 10.9% of people aged 18 - 64;

-- 13.3 million or 18% of children under age 18; and

-- 3.7 million or 9.7% of seniors aged 65 or older who benefit from Social Security and Medicare.

In addition:

-- 36.2 million Americans are food insecure, including 12.4 million children;

-- they comprise 13 million or 11.1% of households;

-- 4.7 million households experience "very low food security" meaning hunger is a persistent problem;

-- households with children have double the food insecurity as ones with none;

-- single women-headed households are worst off with 30.2% of them insecure; and

-- 53.9% of food-insecure households rely on one or more of the following federal programs - food stamps, the National School Lunch Program, and the Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); in addition, Feeding America (in 2007) provided emergency food aid to about 25 million low-income people, 8% more than in 2001.

On August 6, the US Department of Agriculture reported a record 34.4 million Americans (one in nine) receiving food stamps in May as unemployment keeps surging. It was the sixth consecutive monthly record, and every state showed an increase as economic conditions worsen.

On September 10, the Commerce Department will release 2008 census data expected to show around another 1.5 million people added to the poverty rolls over 2007 figures - a total of nearly 39 million representing 12.7% of Americans. According to Rebecca Blank, Economic Affairs Undersecretary, final numbers aren't yet in and may be worse than expected because of how bad things are for growing numbers in the country. She believes if (U-3) unemployment hits 10% (up from 9.4% now), poverty could reach 14.8% this year and rising because of jobs and homes lost, savings exhausted, and the sharpest ever decline in personal wealth between mid-2007 and December 2008.

Worst of all, conditions for most people are deteriorating as businesses, states, and local governments shed workers and cut budgets at the worst possible time. It promises harder times ahead and potentially millions more impoverished.

Homelessness Facts

Annually, two - three million Americans, including 1.3 million children, experience homelessness and many more are at risk. Most vulnerable are those losing jobs, homes, and the millions of low-income workers paying 50% or more of their income in rent so that a missed paycheck, health emergency, or unexpected financial burden makes them vulnerable to homelessness at a time government aid is being cut.

Criminalizing the Homeless

In the face of a growing burden on society's most needy, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty reported that "many cities use the criminal justice system to punish people living on the street for doing" what they must to survive. Local ordinances prohibit sleeping, camping, eating, sharing food, sitting, loitering, and/or begging in public places with criminal penalties imposed on offenders. Some cities even punish organizations and individuals for helping, and the idea always is to keep the unwanted out of sight, mind, and preferably out of cities, at least in or near more affluent areas or business districts.

As economic conditions deteriorate, the problem will grow and so will the plight of the homeless as cities crack down harder in violation of constitutional and international human rights laws.

The OECD's 2008 Report, "Growing Unequal?: Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries

It states that America "is the country with the highest inequality level and poverty rate" among the 30 OECD countries, ranking only ahead of Mexico and Turkey. In addition, since 2000, inequality grew rapidly, "continuing a long-term trend (going) back to the 1970s" when inflation-adjusted household incomes began falling. Other data cited includes:

-- the gap between rich and middle and poorer income groups widened;

-- government redistribution of income "plays a relatively minor role in the United States," partly because social service spending is low and falling; in 2008 America, it was 9% of household incomes compared to 22% on average in OECD countries;

-- social mobility in America is low, and children of poor families are less likely to become rich; and

-- "wealth is distributed much more unequally than income: the top 1% controls some 25 - 33% of total net worth and the top 10% holds 71%;" other estimates place these disparities much higher and widening as social inequalities increase, high-paying jobs disappear, the middle class keeps shrinking, poverty grows, and federal and state governments cut essential services in the face of increasing need among greater numbers of people.

The Working Poor Keep Getting Poorer

The Working Poor Families Project October 2008 study highlighted similar problems from 2002 through 2006. Titled "Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short: New Findings on the Challenges Confronting America's Working Families," it reported:

-- jobs paying poverty-level wages rose by 4.7 million;

-- low-income working families (earning less than double the Census definition of poverty) increased by 350,000;

-- below poverty-level jobs rose to 29.4 million and comprise 22% of all jobs compared to 19% in 2002;

-- most disturbing is that this happened during a period of economic growth, but at the same time wages haven't kept pace with the cost of living;

-- low income family numbers rose to nearly 9.6 million or 28% of the population;

-- children in them number 21 million;

-- 72% of low-income families with working adults in them performed the equivalent of one and one-quarter jobs - a far greater burden than in other OECD countries; and

-- income inequality is highest in New York; California is fourth, but all states are in a race to the bottom as conditions deteriorate everywhere, so all rankings are disturbing compared to the late 1990s.

The US Labor Department's latest productivity report highlights the plight of workers even more. It rose 6.4% in Q 2, the largest gain since 2003, while workers' compensation fell sharply, 2.2% on an annualized basis. According to Mark Vitner of Wells Fargo Bank, the productivity increase "is almost entirely the result of cost-cutting, not improved ways of producing goods and providing services." It also shows how powerless workers are at a time of massive job cuts, so staying employed takes precedence over wages paid and benefits. The result is profits up, pay down, benefits disappearing, and American workers transitioning to serfs.

More confirmation comes from the latest Internal Revenue Service statistics for 2007 showing that the income disparity between the top 10% and bottom 90% reached "a higher level than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of the stock market bubble in the 'roaring' 1920s," according to data from University of California economist Emmanuel Saez. He noted that "2007 was an incredibly good year for the super rich" and added:

"Based on the US historical record, falls in income concentration due to recessions are temporary unless drastic policy changes such as financial regulation or significantly more progressive taxation are implemented and prevent income concentration from coming back."

But these are no ordinary times as the US sinks slowly into depression. The super-rich are exploiting it to their advantage, while millions of working Americans are losing jobs, homes, benefits, savings, futures, and safety net protections. The 2007 data reflected the peak of the current cycle. What's ahead will be far more grim, disturbing, and reflective of an America that is no more.

The Economic Policy Institute's (EPI) State of Working America - 2008/2009

As the economy contracted in 2008, job losses and unemployment accelerated, but EPI's report missed the worst of it from early 2009 to the present. It cited:

-- wages losing ground to inflation;

-- high energy costs;

-- the burst housing bubble;

-- millions of defaults on home loans followed by foreclosures;

-- declining financial markets and frozen credit;

-- less health care coverage and fewer higher-paying jobs with good benefits; and

-- "for the first time since the mid-1940s, the real incomes of middle-class families are lower at the end of this business cycle than they were when it started;" as a result, "prosperity is eluding working families" as they fall further behind, now more than ever as depression takes hold.

EPI calls family income "the core building block of American living standards." Yet during the last business cycle, significant productivity growth was accompanied by stagnant or falling real incomes. "That has never happened before." The latest economic recovery bypassed the middle class and created greater income inequality. The Bush administration's tax cuts exacerbated the problem by helping the top 1% mostly, the middle class marginally, and low-income families not at all.

Clear racial disparities show whites consistently better off than blacks and Hispanics, men doing better than women, huge class distinctions, and mobility up the income ladder bypasses most at lower levels. One study showed that about 60% of families starting out in the bottom fifth stratum were still there a decade later. At the same time, over half the top income ones kept their position.

EPI concludes that "where you start out in the income scale has a strong influence (over) where you end up (so) the rate of economic mobility is low" in the richest country in the world where the select few alone benefit. All others lose out as their incomes don't keep pace with inflation and their living standards erode.

Another study implies that a poor family of four with two children needs nine to 10 generations to reach middle-income status. It means where you're born is where you'll stay. So-called rags-to-riches tales are just folklore, and stagnant or downward mobility today is more serious than ever.

Wages and salaries comprise three-fourths of family income, and for the middle class, it's even higher. Yet since 2002, they didn't grow at all despite historically high productivity, meaning business benefitted, not workers who fell further behind. Women and minorities fare worst plus everyone in lower income categories. During the 2002 - 07 recovery, no progress was made "in reducing the share of workers with low earnings (in) all race/ethnic groups and for both genders....The very highest earners have done considerably better than other workers for at least (the past) 30 years, but they (did) extraordinarily well over the last 10 years."

In addition, eroding "employer-provided benefits, most notably pensions and health insurance, is an important aspect of the deterioration in job quality (and economic security) for many workers." Most harmed are young workers facing bleak prospects, older ones losing jobs and not wanted, and the erosion of unionization since the 1950s, especially since the late 1970s.

Overall, 2002 - 07 growth was a jobless recovery followed by the subsequent wiping out of five years of modest gains. From 2000 - 2007, average annual job growth was an anemic 0.6%, well below the 1990s 1.8% figure. In addition, the unemployment rate rose 0.7% from March 2001 (the last business cycle's peak) to December 2007 even though average workers age increased and the labor force participation rate shrank - "both of which should have put downward pressure on the" unemployment rate. The great American job creation machine faltered badly in the new millennium and now has collapsed.

Net family wealth also determines household well-being, particularly from income and financial assets, including real estate. Yet in America, the top 1% controls more than the bottom 90% combined and the disparity is growing. In 1962, the bottom 80%'s share was 19.1%. In 2004, it was 15.3%, the difference shifting to the top 5%.

In addition, until the current downturn, average household debt grew much faster than income, fueled by increases in mortgages, home equity loans, and high credit card balances. Since the housing bubble burst and home prices collapsed, the damage done has been enormous with still more to come.

The result is growing poverty levels as discussed above with numbers increasing as economic conditions weaken. "The backsliding against poverty in the 2000s is most notable among the least advantaged," especially blacks, Hispanics, mother-only families, and the poor unable to keep pace.

It shows up in inequality in health security in the form of inadequate or no insurance, lower life expectancies for poor and lower income households, and an eroding safety net for the most needy. Rising health care costs, lost or no benefits, and an economic crisis have increased the plight of millions of the country's least advantaged.

EPI's report highlights a nation of growing inequality, lower wages, fewer benefits, diminished worker bargaining power, and disempowered unions v. market fundamentalists, complicit government officials, and their "You're-on-Your-Own" (YOYO) ideology against which they're powerless.

They believe markets know best so let them, arguing that alternatives "will create the wrong incentives." Recent decades reveal the folly of this approach on American workers' living standards. Exposing the "ownership society" myth, all household security measures, including net worth, have fallen despite a few years of late 1990s progress.

Today, "The macro-economy is in serious disrepair, beset by the spillovers from the bursting....housing bubble, high energy prices, and unsustainable levels of household indebtedness" causing economic collapse and the possibility of a deep, protracted depression. So far, remedial measures have been patchwork and counterproductive as growing millions face greater uncertainties with no imminent signs of relief and federal and state governments not caring or helping.

In 2009, the State of Working America is dire and worsening enough for millions of households to face greater than ever challenges on their own with government indifferent to their plight.

Concluding an early 1980s edition of his book, Michael Harrington sensed what "Other Americans" were up against in writing:

"I end this review, then, on an ambivalent note. There was progress; there could have been more progress; the poor need not always be with us. But it will take political movements much more imaginative and militant than those in existence in 1980 to bring that progress about. Until that happens, the poor will be with us." And today, in exponentially growing far greater numbers because nothing is being done to reverse them.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Codex Alimentarius Threatens Human Health

Codex Alimentarius (CA) Threatens Human Health - by Stephen Lendman

On its web site, CA (Latin for food code) says:

"The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN) and WHO (World Health Organization) to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations."

Whatever its founding purpose, CA is much different today because corporate interests control it - global pharmaceutical, food, and banking giants in league with complicit UN and government agencies to promote GMOs over healthy foods, and drugs over natural remedies by restricting or banning vitamin and dietary supplements, except ones they control. Organic food as well by irradiation and hidden synthetic additives or ingredients.

If CA's standards and guidelines are adopted, they'll establish binding global rules, effectively overriding sovereign national laws. GMO foods and drugs will proliferate. Labeling will be banned. Food and drug giants will decide what will and won't be sold. Governments will be prohibited from countermanding them. Everyone's health and well-being will be jeopardized.

Since its 2004 founding, the Natural Solutions Foundation has been involved in "discover(ing), develop(ing), demonstrat(ing) and disseminat(ing) natural solutions to the problems facing us and threatening our health and freedom." Its goal is "to support advanced healthcare and health freedom" globally, not a system promoting corporate interests at the expense of human health and well-being.

It explains that CA has "absolutely nothing to do with consumer protection." It's a corporate-run "Trade Commission" created to control "every aspect of how food and nutritional supplements are produced and sold to the consumer." It's about profits, not human health. It wants to ban natural remedies and promote unsafe drugs. It's "unscientific because it classifies nutrients as toxins and uses 'Risk Assessment' to set ultra low so-called 'safe upper limits' for them." It wants to prohibit everything not explicitly permitted and controlled by them.

Under the 1986 - 1993 GATT Uruguay Round, its 110 member countries agreed to harmonize their domestic laws to conform to international standards. In January 1995, the WTO replaced GATT, and as of July 2008, its membership included 153 nations.

Its Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade was established "to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles. It specifically refers to:

-- ...."the important contributions that international standards and conformity assessment systems can improving efficiency of production and facilitating the conduct of international trade....;" and

-- the importance of "develop(ing) such international standards and conformity assessment systems."

It states that "Members are fully responsible under this Agreement for the observance of all provisions of Article 2" - pertaining to the "Preparation, Adoption and Application of Technical Regulations by Central Government Bodies;" under them, "Members shall formulate and implement positive measures and mechanisms in support of the observance of (Article 2's) provisions by other than central government bodies."

This means that WTO members are legally bound under global guidelines, including CA standards if adopted, that override currently in force national laws. Under WTO rules, failure to comply may bring punitive fines or crippling trade sanctions.

At its July 2005 session, the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), drew up guidelines that set restrictive upper dosage limits on popularly used vitamin and mineral supplements and nutrients. They prohibit the sale of all curative, preventative, and therapeutic supplements without a doctor's prescription, most now accessible over-the-counter at health food, other stores, or by mail order.

Twenty-six other committees are tasked with setting global standards for different areas of the global food and drug trade, including:

-- fruits and vegetables;

-- fruit and vegetable juices;

-- fats and oils;

-- meat, poultry and fish;

-- cereals, pulses (used for food and animal feed) and legumes;

-- milk and milk products;

-- natural mineral waters;

-- sugars;

-- cocoa products and chocolate;

-- food hygiene;

-- food labeling (as a way not to disclose GMO foods and ingredients)

-- pesticide residues;

-- residues of veterinary drugs found in foods;

-- food additives;

-- regional coordination, and more.

Codex standards are binding on all WTO members under its Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. Both were included among the Multilateral Agreements on Trade in Goods that was part of the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement that established the WTO.

Currently, it says that "there is no legal obligation on Members to apply Codex standards, guidelines and recommendations." In fact, the WTO uses them to resolve international trade disputes that are legally binding on all members.

On December 31, 2009, Codex standards will be globally mandated unless legal challenges prevent it. In force, they'll override food and drug laws of all member countries, including consumer protection ones and America's 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). It classifies nutrients and herbs as foods, sets no dosage limits, and permits the sale of all dietary supplements unless expressly proved unsafe. Codex rules reverse things by prohibiting everything NOT proved safe, including high potency, therapeutically effective nutrients and supplements.

Common foods, herbs, nutrients, amino acids, homeopathic and other natural remedies would be called drugs. Potencies would be limited, and prescriptions would be required for their use. Some would be banned altogether.

In contrast, about 300 dangerous food additives will be allowed, including aspartame, BHA, BHT, potassium bromate, and tartrazine. New guidelines will authorize the worldwide proliferation of unlabeled GMO foods, drugs, and ingredients, known to harm human health.

In addition:

-- dangerous high-potency industrial chemicals, pesticides, and fungicides will be allowed, ones now near-universally banned, including aldrin, hexachlorobenzene and toxaphene;

-- growth hormones for cows will be mandated;

-- antibiotics as well for all "food herds, fish and flocks;"

-- irradiation will be required for all foods not locally grown and sold raw and unprocessed; and

-- new standards will permit dangerous toxic levels (0.5 ppb) of aflotoxin in milk produced from moldy storage conditions of animal feed; aflotoxin is one of most potent carcinogenic compounds known.

In addition, professional written, oral or other nutritional advice will be banned, including about the benefits of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and other health-promoting substances. Henceforth, they'll be considered toxins or poisons to be removed from food because Codex will prohibit their use to "prevent, treat or cure any condition or disease."

In America before the 1996 Food Quality and Protection Act passed, the 1958 Delaney Clause prohibited use of known carcinogens in processed foods. It specifically said:

"the Secretary of the Food and Drug Administration shall not approve for use in food any chemical additive found to induce cancer in man, or, after tests, found to induce cancer in animals."

It protected against unsafe food additives, meat and poultry drugs, color additives, and cancer-causing pesticide residues in processed foods above a certain level.

Obama's Enforcers

On July 23, Obama appointed Monsanto vice-president and lobbyist Michael Taylor as food safety czar - the man Jeffrey Smith, author and leading GMO foods critic, called "The person who may be responsible for more food-related illnesses and death than anyone in history....This is no joke....What have we done?"

At FDA in the early 1990s, Taylor headed policy over letting Monsanto's GM bovine growth hormone (rBGH) be injected into cows to increase milk supply despite the known health dangers. He also kept containers from being labeled to warn consumers. Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand banned the drug because of the significant cancer and other risks.

Taylor also got the FDA to treat genetically modified foods and ingredients as "substantially equivalent" to natural ones, so no testing was required for safety. Ever since in America and many other countries, GM foods have proliferated despite reliable evidence of their harm to human health.

Rumored to become USDA's food safety head is Dennis Wolff - an rBGH-using dairy farmer and Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary. Wolff spearheaded state legislation to ban rNGH-free labeling so consumers could choose safe milk over contaminated brands. He partially succeeded when governor Ed Rendell balked but allowed an FDA disclaimer on containers regarding bovine growth hormone's safety.

Operation Cure All

A June 14, 2001 FTC press release headlined "Operation Cure All Wages New Battle in Ongoing War Against Internet Health Fraud." It cited a 1997 initiated law enforcement and consumer education campaign in announcing new actions against "the fraudulent marketing of supplements and other health products on the Internet" targeting dietary supplements, herbal products, and various other "questionable" substances. The FDA claimed (without evidence) that "unscrupulous marketers (were selling to) the sickest and most vulnerable consumers." To the general public as well that relies on them as essential nutrients and natural remedies that are far more effective, safer, and vastly cheaper than dangerous overpriced drugs.

At stake isn't consumer safety. It's protecting drug company profits by eliminating competition. It's about removing safe alternatives, natural therapies, and information about them. It's to empower drug giants and approve only their products for sale. It's to establish standards they alone write; to pave the way for mass-marketing of genetically modified foods and drugs. It's a stepping stone toward mandated harmful global Codex rules.

Codex Alimentarius - A Sinister Scheme for Profit at the Expense of Human Health

Empowering Ag and drug giants through CA poses an unacceptable danger to humanity as Dr. Rima Laibow, Medical Director of the Natural Solutions Foundation, explains:

-- it will replace "safe upper (nutrient) limits with junk science;"

-- reduce them to useless levels; and

-- call essential-to-life and well-being nutrient levels toxic or poisonous.

Adequate nutrient levels are vital to "health and longevity. Nutrients are essential components of enzyme function in the human body and enzymes are the very stuff of life because they carry out every biological process in your body. Without enzymes, nothing would happen. Literally."

"There would be no digestion, no growth, no life. At any moment, approximately 35,000 enzymatic reactions are occurring in every cell in your body. Nutrients feed and support enzymatic action and that's why they are so crucial to health."

At optimum levels, they produce optimum health. At impaired levels, symptoms. At unhealthy levels, illness, and "No enzymatic action = death." Varying human nutrient needs depend on "genetic diversity and requirement, diet, climate and energy output, toxic load (from food, water, air, and skin absorption), underlying nutritional deficits, (and all types of) diseases and stress." In sum, it's called "Biological Individuality - a concept "totally absent from the philosophy of Codex Alimentarius."

According to Laibow, there is no "scientifically measurable 'upper limit' for nutrients" because their potential toxicity is "astonishingly low" even though at times "more is not necessarily better." DSHEA prohibits nutrient upper limits because they're foods, not drugs. "Scientifically, DSHEA is right on the mark." CA is pseudo-science for profit at the expense of human health. Legal challenges have five months left to stop them.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Obstacles to Real Health Care Reform - Private Insurers and Big PhRMA

The Obstacles to Real Health Care Reform: Private Insurers and Big PhRMA - by Stephen Lendman

In almost the same breath on August 17, the White House effectively dropped a real public option (that likely never existed) while Obama was telling the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) that the Pentagon will escalate the Afghanistan/Pakistan war into a long-term conflict that will assure "more difficult days ahead." He did so in defiance of international and Constitutional law, the lives and welfare of American forces, millions in both target countries, and lied at the same time saying: "This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity" in plain contradiction of the fact that in October 2001, US forces launched a long-planned premeditated attack against a non-belligerent country posing no threat to America.

Obama's Central Asia agenda matches his domestic arrogance against the rights and welfare of millions of Americans. Denying them real health care reform is one of many ways he defiles the public interest in deference to the corporate ones he serves.

On financial matters, it's trillions for Wall Street. On "defense," it's imperial wars and handouts to weapons and munitions makers, and on public health it's promoting mass-innoculations of experimental, toxic vaccines and rejecting real health care reform - universal single-payer, the only real kind that all other Western nations provide. But not the richest country in the world more focused on corporate than public welfare.

Simply put, the obstacle to real health reform is the insurance and drug lobby's stranglehold on Democrat and Republican administrations and Congress. Corporate lawyers draft new laws, sign-off on changes, and industry officials staff the FDA, CDC, and other related agencies, then return to high-paying jobs in the sectors they represent. Public welfare is unconsidered under a system favoring profits, so achieving real reform is near-nil. Whatever, if any legislation, passes, will make a dysfunctional system worse by rationing care, leaving growing millions uninsured, many others underinsured, while enriching insurers, drug companies, and large hospital chains.

Predatory Drug Giants

Called Big PhRMA with good reason, they wield inordinate power over policies affecting their industry. Poorly tested new drugs are fast-tracked and only withdrawn after hundreds, often thousands, are harmed. Yet no congressional committee ever investigated a process endangering millions of lives because lawmakers reap huge campaign contributions regularly in return for industry-friendly legislation and regulations.

In January 1997, Rezulin got swift FDA approval to control blood sugar for patients with Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes. It was only withdrawn in March 2000 after dozens of liver failure deaths were reported and many others found to be afflicted with serious, potentially life threatening damage.

In May 1999, the FDA fast-tracked Vioxx (the anti-inflammatory NSAID) despite suspicions at the time that Merck knew of dangerous side effects and marketed the drug anyway. Evidence later emerged that the FDA knowingly approved, promoted, and refused to recall it after as many as 100,000 heart attacks were reported and thousands of deaths.

Dr. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said this after reading Wall Street Journal-published insider emails on how Merck hid damaging clinical trials evidence and sold the drug anyway:

"In the case of Vioxx, the FDA was urged to mandate further safety testing after a 2001 analysis suggested a 'clear-cut excess number of myocardial infarctions.' It did not do so. This refusal to engage with an issue of grave clinical concern illustrates the agency's in-built paralysis, a predicament that has to be addressed through fundamental organizational reform....the FDA acted out of ruthless, short-sighted, and irresponsible self-interest" to protect the interests of its own - and it happens regularly by approving dangerous drugs and only recalling them in cases too egregious to ignore. Even then only reluctantly to assure maximum industry profits.

The agency also censors its own scientists as Dr. David Graham, associate director for science in the FDA's Office of Drug Safety, explained in summer 2005:

"....the review and clearance process has been turned into a battleground, full of contention and intimidation because our managers, the people who fill out our performance evaluations, had created a system where it was taking a great risk to stand firm in our scientific beliefs."

He essentially called the FDA a corrupted, industry-controlled tool placing bottom-line considerations over public health and welfare, then punishing whistleblowers who expose abuses.

On September 30, 2004, Merck, not the FDA, voluntarily recalled Vioxx after facing growing numbers of lawsuits (burgeoning later to around 50,000), but admitted no fault or responsibility at the time. It was later learned that around 80% of Vioxx claimants were on Medicare or Medicaid. Government, not Merck, will pay 80% of settlement claims. Merck may later repay some or all of them.

However, under a subsequent FDA preemption policy, no lawsuits may be filed in state courts pertaining to agency-approved drugs so winning them in federal ones, stacked mostly with hard-right Federalist Society-affiliated or approved judges, will prove far more challenging, expensive, and time consuming. In addition, getting approvals for class-actions will be harder.

Dr. John Abramson's Expose of Drug and Insurance Company Abuses

In his book, "Overdosed America: The broken promise of American medicine," Dr. Abramson explains how drug and insurance giants controlled US health care after the Reagan administration transformed an essential need into a commodity as follows:

-- by massively reducing federal funding for independent medical research and mediation trials;

-- forcing researchers to be funded by the drug giants;

-- corrupting the whole system for profit, including some medical journals accepting funding in return for publishing industry-friendly studies on new drugs, other products, and treatments; for example, a New England Journal of Medicine report claimed Vioxx was safer than earlier NSAIDs when no such evidence existed; as worrisome, doctors are trained to use medical journal data in treating patients;

-- in 1991, 80% of clinical trials took place at universities with considerable private funding but some academic oversight; by 2000, universities conducted only 34% of trials;

-- more than ever, drug companies design and control trials of their own products to hide unfavorable findings and promote positive ones; in addition, test results are private and unavailable to the public on the pretext they'll compromise proprietary secrets beneficial to competitors; as a result, peer review is impossible and dangerous drugs are made available for sale; and

-- one study found that industry-run clinical trials are 5.3 times more likely to be positive than independent or public ones.

Dr. Abramson's advice on drug usage:

-- if possible, avoid new drugs that may or may not be safe;

-- choose a generic alternative; they're cheaper and for drugs that have been around long enough for serious problems to emerge;

-- whenever possible, choose an alternative treatment as all drugs have disturbing side effects, some very dangerous from prolonged use; and

-- follow sound medical advice, not TV ads, articles, or non-expert opinions, and always use sound judgment since protecting human health is a personal responsibility, not to be taken lightly.

Secret White House-Big PhRMA Deal Revealed

In mid-August, it was learned that the White House and Big PhRMA secretly agreed to what both sides denied. According to a knowledgeable insider, the Obama administration won't use government leverage to bargain for lower prices, import them from Canada, demand Medicare rebates, or shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Part D under which prices stay high most often. In return, PhRMA agreed to (but may not follow through on a promise to) cut up to but no more than $80 billion in projected costs over a ten year period, a small fraction of the extra billions it will reap if universally-mandated insurance coverage becomes law and drug coverage available under it.

Martin Weiss' "20-Year Battle with Insurance Companies"

In an August 17 commentary, financial expert and investor safety advocate Martin Weiss explained his own confrontations with insurers, starting in 1989 when he began rating them honestly.

At the time, large insurers like Executive Life, Fidelity Bankers Life, First Capital Life, and others were over-invested with risky junk bonds. He rated First Capital Life a D- and felt he was generous. Days later, company lawyers and officials threatened to sue and "put me out of business....if I didn't give them a better rating."

"Who the hell do you think you are," they asked. "All the established ratings agencies give us high grades." Weiss refused and cited the company's own financial statement for proof. An "ultimate threat" followed:

"Weiss better shut the f... up or get a bodyguard," one official said.

Instead, he "intensified" his warnings, and "within weeks, the company went belly up, still boasting high ratings from established agencies on the very day it failed. In fact, AM Best, the nation's leading insurance rating agency, didn't downgrade (the company) to a warning level until five days" after it went out of business along with two of its closest competitors, leaving their investors and policy holders high and dry.

The moral to this horror story is simple. If investing in these companies was foolhardy, why would anyone buy their health insurance and entrust them with their lives!! Why should anyone HAVE to buy private insurance that sacrifices human health for profits at extortionist premiums!! Why should drug prices be sky high!! When will the public demand better from the bipartisan criminal class in Washington, and get activist enough for change!!

Weiss calls insurers "denial machines" that spend substantial sums as follows:

-- for computer programs and systems that deny and/or delay claims payments;

-- hire doctors to poke holes in legitimate claims; and

-- pay bonus premiums to employees denying the most claims and/or approving the lowest amounts of payments.

"In sum, health insurers build massive machines designed" solely to deny and delay claims. The less they pay and longer they wait, the greater the bottom line profits and share prices. In 2008 alone, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) reported nearly 200,000 complaints against insurers, excluding states that don't keep records and millions of cheated policyholders who don't act.

According to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo: "All too often, insurers play a game of deny, delay, and deceive."

On August 11, a Health and Human Services Department (HHS) study reported that:

"Insurance companies can retroactively cancel individual policies if any condition was not disclosed when the policy was obtained. More to the point, insurers can cancel the policies" even if people aren't aware of them or if a current condition is unrelated to a past one.

"Coverage can also be revoked for all members of a family, even if only one family member failed to disclose a medical condition."

Two major insurers told Congress that they automatically investigate medical records of policyholders with histories of medical conditions like leukemia, ovarian and brain cancer, pregnancy with twins, and numerous other situations linked to high costs.

One of the worst abuses is direct interference with medically recommended procedures and using their concentrated market clout to literally get away with murder.

When CNN reports that "More than eight in 10 Americans questioned in a (March 2009-released) CNN/Opinion Corp. survey....said they're satisfied with the quality of (their) health care, ignored were the above abuses that might have produced different results. In addition, respondents without insurance weren't interviewed. Coverage cancelation wasn't addressed or experiences with the most abusive companies. Weiss named some major ones based on frequency of customer complaints:

-- American International Group (AIG)
-- Atlantis Health Plans, Inc.
-- Celtic Insurance Company
-- CIGNA Healthcare of NY, Inc.
-- Fortis Group
-- GHI HMO Select, Inc.
-- Mutual of Omaha Group
-- Oxford Health Plans of NY, and
-- United Health Group

He also named those with the fewest complaints:

-- CNA Insurance Group
-- Mass Mutual Life Ins. Co.
-- Northwestern Mutual
-- Sun Life Assurance Company of CN
-- Universal American Financial, and
-- UNUM Provident Corp. Group

The best advice is avoid the worst, choose the best, work for change, and demand responsible government provide it.

High Drug and Insurance Costs

In America, drug costs are high, and lengthy patent protection fosters monopoly pricing for extended periods. While charges vary by country and products, a 2008 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) study found, on average, that US drug prices are 70% higher than in other OECD countries.

It also showed that insurance administrative costs are six times those in other developed nations. They go for marketing (including sales and advertising), claims processing, utilization review, high executive pay, and profits - all of which deliver no health care, just needless costs that can be eliminated under a universal single-payer system.

Yet the Obama administration won't consider one in deference to industry demands and hard-liners in his own party. Even the AARP representing seniors, its denial notwithstanding. On August 17, CBS News reported that up to 60,000 people cancelled their memberships since July 1, angered over the group's position on health care.

Many are switching to the American Seniors Association, a libertarian-sounding organization that "provide(s) seniors with the choices, information, and services they need to live healthier, wealthier lives." Its president Stuart Barton believes "seniors are most upset with (proposed) cuts in Medicare (and) flat-out (opposes) Obama's plan (calling) for $313 billion dollars in Medicare cuts over ten years" and another $300 billion from Medicaid. Obama told a recent town hall meeting that AARP is "on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors."

An AARP spokesperson denied it, but members believe it's waffling by supporting Obama through the back door, while telling members no plan is being endorsed. According to its Social Impact vice president, Cheryl Matheis:

"AARP has not endorsed any plan at this point. We haven't seen provisions in legislation yet, so we're going to reserve judgment until we see them." But she admitted that so far she knows nothing to quibble with, leading members to view that as a tacit endorsement causing thousands to exit in anger. Still, the organization represents 40 million seniors, adds thousands more monthly, and loses them naturally through attrition. Whether current loses lead to greater ones may depend on what side of the health care debate AARP supports once legislative efforts are clearer.

Obama Administration Waffling

Over the August 15 weekend, the Obama administration dropped its demand for a "public option" in capitulation to the insurance giants that reject one out of hand and have lobbied ferociously against it. In its place, a Senate Finance Committee-proposed "non-profit health insurance cooperative" scheme may be adopted, similar to ones in many states that sell insurance, can pick and choose their members, reject ones judged costly, exclude pre-existing conditions, and charge premiums comparable to private insurers.

It's why critics denounce them as flawed, so we're back to square one if they're adopted. After initial government funding, they'd be on their own much like private for-profit businesses and end up operating the same way. They'll leave a dysfunctional system in place, do nothing effective to fix it, and keep private insurers and Big PhRMA in charge.

A Flawed Public Option Perhaps Abandoned

It was ill-conceived from the start as co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein explained in a July 22 commentary:

"Private health insurance doesn't work. Even middle-class families with supposedly good coverage are just one serious illness away from financial ruin. Illness and medical bills contribute to 62 percent of personal bankruptcies - a 50 percent increase since 2001. And three-quarters of the medically bankrupt had insurance, at least when they first got sick."

Coverage bought in good faith often fails because it's beset by co-payments, deductibles, and loopholes denying situations that arise. For others, lost jobs end coverage at a time those still having it pay more and get less.

"Now Congress plans to make it a federal offense not to purchase such faulty insurance." It may also do the following:

-- tax workers' health benefits to meet the cost of covering the poor and provide more revenue for insurers;

-- drain funds from hospitals serving the neediest in deference to the large chains;

-- rely on unenforceable promises from hospitals, insurers, Big PhRMA, and the AMA to control costs; and

-- generate savings by computerizing medical records for more centralized control and better management, an idea the Congressional Budget Office says won't work.

Obama's "health plan can't make universal, comprehensive coverage affordable," something only universal single-payer can do and at an annual saving of about $400 billion now and much more later on - "enough to cover the uninsured and to upgrade coverage for all Americans" equitably.

Everyone would be in, no one left out. Wasteful administrative costs would be eliminated as well as exclusions for pre-existing conditions. Seniors would be fully covered when they need it most. So would the poor and uninsured, and no one would be one serious illness away from insolvency.

Insurers today compete by denying care, choosing healthy customers, not the sick, shifting costs onto patients, and lobbying for public subsidies and industry-friendly legislation. "Decades of experience (have shown) that private insurers cannot control costs or provide families with the coverage they need." They're the bane of the system, not the solution, and government-run clones won't fix the problems because no effort will be made to try.

Obama wants to ration health care by instituting a "global payments" system in place of the current fee-for-service one that reimburses for each visit or procedure. It assures expensive services would be limited or denied, outpatient treatment and drugs will substitute for many surgeries, and full coverage will only be available for higher fees or expensive supplemental insurance premiums.

Obamacare is reactionary and class-based. It's industry-friendly at the expense of real reform. It assures affluent households top-flight care, others only as much as they can afford, and imposes fines on people too poor to buy coverage, so whatever plan is imposed on them will be inadequate when they need it most because current ones are designed to fail. It subordinates an essential needs to bottom-line considerations and leaves a broken system in place.

Obamacare is to health care reform what No Child Left Behind is to educating the nation's youths in for-profit schools; what Operation Iraqi Freedom is to liberating an occupied people; what Operation Enduring Freedom is to bringing democracy to Afghanistan; and what the Global War on Terror is to peace and good will.

It's a scheme to ration health care, enrich corporate providers, and leave a broken system in place. It's a patchwork idea to repackage failure and claim success. It's a corrupted way to sacrifice real needs on the alter of marketplace medicine by doing too little and leaving growing millions out in the cold, on their own, and at the mercy of for-profit predators. The solution is everybody in, nobody out under a universal, single-payer system. It's time has come, and no one should accept anything less or politicians who won't provide it.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate for the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.