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Meet Eli Rosenbaum, the Justice Department’s Nazi Hunter

American taxpayers still paying for World War 2

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • March 17, 2020

The New York Times is reporting somewhat ruefully that “The Mission to Hunt Nazis Has Become a Race Against Time.” The U.S. Government’s zeal in going after alleged former “Nazis” began in 1979 when the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) was established within the Justice Department. In 2002, OSI included 13 attorneys, almost all of whom were Jewish, backed up by 10 “historians.” In 2010 it merged with the Criminal Division’s Domestic Security Section to create a new unit, the current Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP).

HRSP engages in a range of enforcement activities, but one of its principal focuses is the arrest and repatriation of claimed human rights violators associated with the German concentration and prison camp system preceding and during the Second World War. In the cases of those individuals linked to the camps, the HRSP has reportedly pursued the cases with some urgency because “These people are old, and they’re dying,” suggesting that the pursuit of World War II’s possible surviving criminals is more about revenge than justice. The Times article describes it as a “race against natural life spans.”

The man in charge of ferreting out hidden Nazis is Eli Rosenbaum, highly educated in the usual places and a lawyer. Wikipedia describes him as an Israeli-American, the dual-bit, if true, presumably in spite of the fact that he holds a high-level and highly paid American government job, an all too common feature of officials who engage in so-called holocaust related issues. Rosenbaum has been seeking out what he describes as Nazis as what amounts to a full-time job since 1980, though he disdains descriptions of him as a Nazi hunter

The most recent victim of the Department of Justice’s HRSP and Rosenbaum is a 94 year-old man living in Tennessee named Friedrich Karl Berger, who was recently ordered by Memphis federal judge Rebecca Holt to be returned to Germany. Holt ruled that he was deportable under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act due to his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” which constituted rendering voluntary assistance to a Nazi-sponsored persecution.

Some facts regarding Berger’s involvement on World War II were presented by his defense and do not seem to have been disputed by the prosecution represented by Rosenbaum, who regretted that the passage of 75 years since 1945 means that Berger might be the last real live “Nazi” that he is able to punish.

Berger was drafted in 1943 when he was 17 years old, at the height of the war, and was enlisted in the navy. In 1945, he was seconded to the Neuengamme prison camp near Hamburg as a guard. Neuengamme was in fact a complex of as many as 80 camps and subcamps that were relatively low security. Berger was at a subcamp near Meppen. Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians and political opponents of the Nazis were imprisoned in the camps and it is believed that some of the prisoners, mostly Russians, were the victims of medical experiments or were gassed to death. Many prisoners also reportedly died from malnutrition and abuse as well as from actual starvation when the allies began to bomb the railroads and roads that provided food to the camps.

The camps were run by the SS, but the guards, which included women for women inmates, were drawn from a number of branches of the military services as well as from the police. Berger was therefore not SS even though the prosecution kept referring to Neuengamme as an SS camp, and he was not even armed except possibly for a brief period when the prisoners were being moved to the main camp near Hamburg as the war was ending. The prosecution claimed that the prisoners were forced to work outside digging defensive trenches during the winter of 1945 “to the point of exhaustion and death… Berger was part of the SS machinery of oppression that kept concentration camp prisoners in atrocious conditions of confinement.”

In fact, the largest loss of life of the Neuengamme prisoners took place when 9,000 of them were being evacuated in late April 1945 on the passenger liners Deutschland and Cap Arcona and two large commercial steamers the Thielbeck and Athen. The British bombed the ships, possibly thinking that they were full of fleeing government officials, killing at least 7,100 prisoners and crew.

In his justification for revoking citizenship and expatriating Berger, Rosenbaum claimed that the man had made two mistakes: “Mr. Berger made his choice to enlist in 1943 in the German military” and he then made another choice “not to request a transfer when he was assigned to a sub-camp overseeing prisoners…” Both claims are not completely credible as Berger was drafted and, as a low-ranking enlisted man being ordered to take up a position, he was hardly in control of where he was sent and what he would be called upon to do. If he had objected at that point in the war he might have been shot.

After the war Berger emigrated legally to Canada and then on to the United States in 1959. His entry into the country was completely legal and he eventually became a citizen, married and had children who are American citizens and settled down in a modest house in Oak Ridge Tennessee. He worked in a factory that made wire stripping machines. Acquaintances recall him as friendly and talkative, a kind man who took care of his sick wife until she died some years ago. One neighbor who knew him for 30 years described him as “proud to be living in the United States.”

The Times article illustrates what critics of the media have sometimes described as the “poisoned pen.” In the second paragraph of the article it describes Berger as one of many “under-the-radar Nazi collaborators.” It goes on to report on the “cases that played out over the years in the long shadow of World War II and the Holocaust, as collaborators were discovered and rooted out from often-cozy American existences that had normalized them and scrubbed them of their complicity.” The piece concludes with “Devora Fish, the director of education for the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, who opined that prosecutions like those of Mr. Berger help ensure that the sins of the past will not be forgotten. ‘Every time that somebody is brought to justice, even from 50 years ago or longer, that is a message to the world. Because we are not going to stop until everybody is brought to justice. Even if it’s something you did years ago, it will catch up to you.’” In another comment, Efraim Zuroff, a holocaust historian (sic) and currently the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s top Nazi hunter, praised the deportation of Berger, saying his age did not diminish his guilt, adding the usual spin of Jewish perpetual victimhood, and observing “Especially these days, when we see anti-Semitism on the rise and the rise of right-wing movements, this is a reminder that, if you commit such crimes, even many years later, you will be held accountable.”

How destroying the end of the life of a 94 year-old who was seventeen when he got caught up in a war that victimized him as much as millions of others provides justice is not completely clear, particularly as Berger was not a decision maker and was not personally linked to any mistreatment of anyone. Revenge is not justice but it is something that the United States government and the U.S. media promote relentlessly through the activity of taxpayer funded Rosenbaum and also the ridiculous bizarre State Department offices of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism and the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues.

And going after “Nazis” with such virulence ignores other war crimes like the fire bombings of Tokyo which killed 100,000 and Dresden where 25,000 died, mostly civilians. Or Hamburg itself, close to camp Neuengamme, where 35,000 died in a firestorm that destroyed the city and which was possibly witnessed by Berger. And then there are Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 2 million dead Vietnamese and more than a million dead Muslims since 9/11. Inevitably, he who controls the media controls the narrative while the winner in a war writes the history books and also decides who is guilty.

One also has to wonder about modern day war crimes and what Eli Rosenbaum would do about them. Israel has just killed its 10,000th Palestinian since 2000. In Gaza alone, Israeli snipers shooting unarmed demonstrating Arabs in the past year have killed more than 200 and injured 8,000. The favored sniper tactic has become shooting the Palestinians in their knees. One leading sniper boasts that on one day alone he shot forty-two knees, mostly of teenagers, crippling them for the rest of their lives. “I remember the knee in the crosshairs, bursting open” said another marksman. Will Eli Rosenbaum, once he runs out of potential victims and stops chasing “Nazis,” be representing the interests of those severely injured in Gaza to punish the Israeli war criminals and bring justice?

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | | 8 Comments

DOJ drops charges against ‘Russian trolls’ after they dared demand evidence in US court

RT | March 17, 2020

The US is dropping the much-hyped indictment for ‘election meddling’ against a company supposedly behind the so-called Russian troll farm, closing the opening chapter of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russiagate investigation.

Further pursuing the case against Concord Management & Consulting LLC, “promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security,” the Department of Justice wrote to the federal judge overseeing the case on Monday, in a motion to drop the charges.

DOJ lawyers cited “recent events and a change in the balance of the government’s proof due to a classification determination,” saying only that they submitted further details in a classified addendum.

Concord was one of the three companies – the Internet Research Agency is another – and 13 individuals charged in February 2018 with waging “information warfare against the United States of America” using social media.

The DOJ rationalizes the motion to dismiss by arguing that Concord is “a Russian company with no presence in the United States and no exposure to meaningful punishment in the event of a conviction.” That has always been the case, however. What really changed since the indictment was filed is the complete implosion of Mueller’s case, helped in part by Concord fighting the case in court.

The motion inadvertently reveals that Mueller’s prosecutors never intended the case against Concord, two other entities and 13 individuals to actually go to trial, otherwise they would have anticipated what ended up happening: Concord’s lawyers demanding discovery documents from the DOJ, which the US authorities say risks “exposure of law enforcement’s tools and techniques.”

Mueller’s team tried to fight the discovery proceedings by arguing in January 2019 that Concord was leaking them to “discredit” the investigation. Within two months, however, the investigation discredited itself, by having to admit there was no “collusion” between US President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

They still insisted that Russia had “meddled” in the election, but there too the case proved a problem. Concord successfully petitioned Judge Dabney L. Friedrich in May last year to rebuke the prosecutors for presenting their allegations as facts.

This is not to say that the DOJ is ready to disavow ‘Russiagate’ as a debunked conspiracy theory, however. Though the Concord case was dropped, the charges against the Internet Research Agency and the 13 Russian individuals were not. Given that none of them have a presence in the US, and have not dignified the indictment with a response, it is unclear how – if at all – the DOJ intends to proceed with the case.

Keeping it on the books may keep the flames of ‘Russiagate’ alive, though, which is very convenient for the media and others heavily invested in the narrative of Moscow somehow menacing US elections, despite not a shred of actual evidence being presented to back it up.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | | 3 Comments

US-Led Coalition Closing Several Bases in Iraq Following Rocket Attacks – Reports

Sputnik – March 16, 2020

The US-led coalition against Daesh is departing from several of its smaller bases in Iraq after several recent rocket attacks against them, CNN reported on Monday citing a statement it obtained from the coalition.

“As a result of the success of Iraqi Security Forces in their fight against Daesh, the Coalition is re-positioning troops from a few smaller bases,” the coalition said as quoted by CNN. “These bases remain under Iraqi control and we will continue our advising partnership for the permanent defeat of Daesh from other Iraqi military bases.”

Earlier this month, two rocket attacks hit coalition troops near Baghdad, killing two American soldiers and a British servicewoman. It prompted massive strikes against the local Shia militants by the US-led coalition.

The attacks against the coalition forces came after the US had announced that it would move air and missile defence systems into Iraq to defend against ballistic missile and drone threats. Washington blamed the attacks on Iranian-backed militants but Tehran has rejected the accusations.

Iraq has warned the US and other foreign forces against using attacks on the coalition troops as a pretext for unauthorised military action in the country. The US command claimed they had consulted with Iraqi authorities about the “defensive” strikes but it was not clear if Baghdad had approved it.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Circle in the Darkness: Memoir of a World Watcher – Book Review

By Jim Miles | Palestine Chronicle | March 16, 2020

(Circle in the Darkness – Memoir of a World Watcher.  Diana Johnstone.  Clarity Press, Atlanta Georgia. 2020)

Diana Johnstone has done a masterful job of writing her autobiography, Circle in the Darkness, that provides many details of her life, her early influences, and the various stages of her career throughout the second half of the Twentieth Century and the first part of Twenty-first.

It is a wild ride through various aspects of society, concentrating on the historical events of her era.

Much of what she writes is not news to those who do follow alternative news sites, but what is added is a strong personal perspective based on – not surprisingly – facts and truth, both from her own experiences in regions of concern and a wide arrange of conversations with both people of significant influence and those with no influence but feeling the impact of developments in their country.

The details Johnstone adds are a strong and valuable retort to mainstream media disinformation that has “moved farther and farther away from informing the public and nearer and nearer to instructing them in what they should think.”

Themes

One of three themes that impressed me and are developed throughout the book, the media takes a large hit. While discussing NATO crimes of the Balkan, she writes, “The journalist was no longer asked to dig for new information and provide fresh analysis, but to contribute to the “common narrative”” as originated by NATO and the media.

When discussing mass media and the Military Industrial Complex she writes, “those private interests coincide quite closely with those of the U.S. government, since the same economic powers are behind both.”

Relying on “open sources and thoughtful analysis of known facts” rather than “spook revelations” her work is significantly more accurate than the mainstream.

NATO and European unity cover another large thematic area. She discusses how NATO and the European Union actively promote the neoliberal order as conditioned by the U.S. and other global hegemonic financial powers against the best interests of their own people and against the best interests of many sovereign states in the world.

When discussing the idea of Joint Criminal Enterprise as argued by the U.S. in relation to Serbia (essentially all Serbs are guilty of war crimes) she reverses the argument with clear examples, and summarizes, “U.S. strategy basically boils down to the implicit or explicit threat to wipe out the whole nation it is attacking…. This war is not the result of a clever plan by some ragtag Balkan clan leaders. This war was deliberately planned and carried out by the real Joint Criminal Enterprise: NATO.”

The third theme was her development of ideas concerning the development of the “left”.

It has changed from operating with the best interests of the people in mind – anti-war, support for workers and societal infrastructures – to becoming a supporter of war and more interested in the distractions of identity politics, “The Left has evolved from a program to an attitude.”

Certainly, there is merit in people’s identity but it comes at the cost of no longer working against class structures that keep workers down and keep the rich getting richer.

Johnstone follows the developments in France to its present-day neoliberal U.S. supporting government of Macron and follows the developments in Sweden as it turned away from the left of Olaf Palme towards a strong non-NATO supporter of all NATO adventures.

A Host of other Ideas

Many other ideas are presented in Circle in the Darkness.

Israel is discussed directly only briefly but Zionism’s influence is related throughout. While discussing false flags, the USS Liberty attack is mentioned threading into the theme of the media as ”the mainstream media have persisted in ignoring what happened, even as evidence mounted that General Moshe Dayan personally ordered the attack.”

The relationship between the dropping of the gold standard and the introduction of the petrodollar is touched upon, a topic that is rare if ever in mainstream journalism. Again just touching on it she discusses the “debt trap” on a personal level when two local Minnesota farmers commit suicide after being enticed to overextend themselves into debt.

In general, however, this is Diana Johnstones’ story of the many people she meets and interviews, or argues with, debates with, or simply discusses the many issues of her career spent mostly within European journalism. That overlapped with her employment by the German Green party and how she watched it change from an anti-war truly green party to a pro-war neoliberal supporter of capitalism.

She continues to write as an independent journalist today, with her work published globally in several alternate news sites. While I am familiar with the same history background as Ms. Johnstone, I do not have the expertise of overseas experience, the philosophical background, and the wide range of contacts she has had available throughout her career.

Circle in the Darkness covers an amazing and productive lifetime and provides valuable insights and factual details in support of her views and reporting.

It is entertaining – not in the distractive sense but for the quality of the writing and her combination of anecdotal stories combined with researched ideas.

Thus it is a very strong informative work on our modern history, an important read to more clearly understand the machinations of the modern political-military scene.

– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles.  His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Israel settlers attack Palestinian farmers in Jordan Valley

MEMO | March 16, 2020

While Palestinians are busy fighting the outbreak of the coronavirus, Israeli occupation settlers have increased their attacks in the occupied Jordan Valley, Al Mugtama Magazine reported yesterday.

The armed settlers carried out a wide-scale campaign of attacks on the Palestinian herders and farmers. They stole scores of animals and damaged wide swathes of farmlands.

“The situation in the Jordan Valley is very difficult,” Mahmoud Bsharat, who has received an expropriation order for his farm, told the magazine.

He said that the “gangs of settlers” cut trees and steal cattle, as well as opening fire at the Palestinian shepherds. They also steal tractors from Palestinian farmers and damage their farms.

Activist Aref Daraghmeh told the magazine that Jewish settlers carried out 45 attacks over the past few days in the Jordan Valley, noting that they stole farming equipment in addition to damaging farms and homes.

He also said that the occupation imposed high fines on Palestinians and has been carrying out military drills that damage their crops.

This, Daraghmeh explained, was part of the settlers’ efforts to force Palestinians out of the area in preparation for its annexation by Israel.

The Palestinian Authority warned that Israel may use the state of emergency brought on by the COVID-19 to carry out its “colonial” plans in the occupied West Bank based on what was announced in the US ‘deal of the century’.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 8 Comments

Israeli historian Ilan Pappé on the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

If Americans Knew | March 16, 2020

Ilan Pappé is an Israeli historian who is currently a professor at the University of Exeter in England. His book, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” was based on declassified Israeli archives.The video is by filmmaker Porter Speakman Jr.

A trailer for Speakman’s film, “With God On Our Side,” can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/490.

A long interview with Pappé can be viewed at https://youtu.be/32667KycvJE?t=139

For another book on the founding of Israel, see “Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the U.S. was used to create Israel” by Alison Weir. The book is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Against-Our-Be…

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , | 7 Comments

Beijing believes COVID-19 is a biological weapon

By Lucas Leiroz | March 16, 2020

From conspiracy theory to geopolitical realism, the possibility to treat COVID-19 as a biological weapon has been finally accepted in the public sphere. The recent statement by the Chinese spokesman Zhao Lijian, formally accusing the US of bringing coronavirus to China, has highlighted a series of new opinions about the pandemic.

The hypothesis of biological warfare behind the global pandemic had already been raised by Russian experts some weeks ago. Like any opinion that is slightly different from the official version of Western governments and their media agencies, the thesis was ridiculed and accused of being a “conspiracy theory”. However, as soon as the official spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the second largest economic power on the planet publishes a note attesting to this possibility, it leaves the sphere of “conspiracy theories” to enter the realm of public opinion and official government versions.

In addition to making the explanation of biological warfare official, Zhao Lijian raised important questions about the pandemic data in the USA: “When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!”

The supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, ordered on the same day of the declaration of the Chinese Ministry the creation of a unified center of scientific research specialized in the fight against the coronavirus. The motivation, according to the Iranian spiritual and political leader, was motivated by evidence that the pandemic is a biological attack. These are his words: “The establishment of a headquarters to fight the outbreak [of COVID-19] occurs due to the presence of evidence that indicates the possibility of a biological attack, signaling that it is necessary that all coping services [to the coronavirus] be under the command of a unified headquarters”.

In fact, what the mainstream Western media has called a “conspiracy” has been manifested in US defense programs for a long time. We must briefly recall the official document named “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”, published by the conservative think tank “Project for a new American Century”, where we can clearly read: “(…) advanced forms of biological warfare that can target specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool “.

Taking into account that the document was published in 2000, we can see that the possibility of biological warfare has been carefully considered and worked on by American strategists for at least two decades. However, the projects are even older. This article published in Global Research tells a brief history of biological warfare technology, tracing the remote origins of this practice by the American armed forces. In this genealogy of biological warfare, we find reports of the use of bio-weapons in wars in great conflicts of the last century, such as the Second World War, the Korea War and the conflicts with Cuba. Even so, until last Thursday, the mere fact of mentioning this hypothesis for the new coronavirus was rejected as conspiracy.

We must attain to concrete data: Pentagon has 400 military laboratories around the world, whose activities are still obscure; the USA has not yet made a clear statement about the COVID-19 data in its territory, having not yet informed the identity of its patient zero and maintaining uncertain information about the number of infected; Chinese scientists conducted a complex study in which they concluded that the virus did not originate in China, but that it had multiple and diverse sources from the Huanan marine seafood market from where the virus subsequently spread.

In February, the Japanese media agency Asahi TV reported that the virus originated in the U.S., not China, and that Washington would be omitting its actual numbers, with some cases of death attributed to influenza being, in fact, camouflaged cases of coronavirus; on February 27, a Taiwanese virologist presented a series of flowcharts on a TV program, corroborating the thesis that the virus has an American origin, providing a scientific explanation to the flow of the virus sources devoid of any geopolitical purpose.

Another curious fact is that China has been unexpectedly affected by epidemic phenomena, particularly during the period of the trade war between Beijing and Washington. Only between 2018 and the beginning of 2020, the country recorded epidemic episodes of H7N4, H7N9 (two variations of bird flu) and African swine flu. Also, the US has not officially responded to any of these notes, remaining silent about the coronavirus situation in its territory.

Not proposing a concrete answer, but only speculations, we can consider that the circumstances of the case present us a very extensive list of possibilities about what in fact the coronavirus is. Obviously, it is possible that it is not a biological weapon – and this is the official version of most of the media agencies and governments – however, once this hypothesis has been raised and no concrete evidence to the contrary is presented, it is also possible that it is a biological weapon.

The most important thing to do is to dispel the myth that biological wars are conspiracy theories. We must begin to take this possibility seriously and analyze the evidences in search of real solutions. Biological weapons are methods that have long been used and that form a fundamental part of modern warfare, whose costs are less than the methods of direct confrontation of the old wars of mobilization – and whose benefits are greater.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 15 Comments

Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Fresh air, sunlight and improvised face masks seemed to work a century ago; and they might help us now.

By Richard Hobday | March 10, 2020

When new, virulent diseases emerge, such SARS and Covid-19, the race begins to find new vaccines and treatments for those affected. As the current crisis unfolds, governments are enforcing quarantine and isolation, and public gatherings are being discouraged. Health officials took the same approach 100 years ago, when influenza was spreading around the world. The results were mixed. But records from the 1918 pandemic suggest one technique for dealing with influenza — little-known today — was effective. Some hard-won experience from the greatest pandemic in recorded history could help us in the weeks and months ahead.

Influenza patients getting sunlight at the Camp Brooks emergency open-air hospital in Boston. Medical staff were not supposed to remove their masks. (National Archives)

Put simply, medics found that severely ill flu patients nursed outdoors recovered better than those treated indoors. A combination of fresh air and sunlight seems to have prevented deaths among patients; and infections among medical staff.[1] There is scientific support for this. Research shows that outdoor air is a natural disinfectant. Fresh air can kill the flu virus and other harmful germs. Equally, sunlight is germicidal and there is now evidence it can kill the flu virus.

`Open-Air’ Treatment in 1918

During the great pandemic, two of the worst places to be were military barracks and troop-ships. Overcrowding and bad ventilation put soldiers and sailors at high risk of catching influenza and the other infections that often followed it.[2,3] As with the current Covid-19 outbreak, most of the victims of so-called `Spanish flu’ did not die from influenza: they died of pneumonia and other complications.

When the influenza pandemic reached the East coast of the United States in 1918, the city of Boston was particularly badly hit. So the State Guard set up an emergency hospital. They took in the worst cases among sailors on ships in Boston harbour. The hospital’s medical officer had noticed the most seriously ill sailors had been in badly-ventilated spaces. So he gave them as much fresh air as possible by putting them in tents. And in good weather they were taken out of their tents and put in the sun. At this time, it was common practice to put sick soldiers outdoors. Open-air therapy, as it was known, was widely used on casualties from the Western Front. And it became the treatment of choice for another common and often deadly respiratory infection of the time; tuberculosis. Patients were put outside in their beds to breathe fresh outdoor air. Or they were nursed in cross-ventilated wards with the windows open day and night. The open-air regimen remained popular until antibiotics replaced it in the 1950s.

Doctors who had first-hand experience of open-air therapy at the hospital in Boston were convinced the regimen was effective. It was adopted elsewhere. If one report is correct, it reduced deaths among hospital patients from 40 per cent to about 13 per cent.[4] According to the Surgeon General of the Massachusetts State Guard:

`The efficacy of open air treatment has been absolutely proven, and one has only to try it to discover its value.’

Fresh Air is a Disinfectant

Patients treated outdoors were less likely to be exposed to the infectious germs that are often present in conventional hospital wards. They were breathing clean air in what must have been a largely sterile environment. We know this because, in the 1960s, Ministry of Defence scientists proved that fresh air is a natural disinfectant.[5] Something in it, which they called the Open Air Factor, is far more harmful to airborne bacteria — and the influenza virus — than indoor air. They couldn’t identify exactly what the Open Air Factor is. But they found it was effective both at night and during the daytime.

Their research also revealed that the Open Air Factor’s disinfecting powers can be preserved in enclosures — if ventilation rates are kept high enough. Significantly, the rates they identified are the same ones that cross-ventilated hospital wards, with high ceilings and big windows, were designed for.[6] But by the time the scientists made their discoveries, antibiotic therapy had replaced open-air treatment. Since then the germicidal effects of fresh air have not featured in infection control, or hospital design. Yet harmful bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Sunlight and Influenza Infection

Putting infected patients out in the sun may have helped because it inactivates the influenza virus.[7] It also kills bacteria that cause lung and other infections in hospitals.[8] During the First World War, military surgeons routinely used sunlight to heal infected wounds.[9] They knew it was a disinfectant. What they didn’t know is that one advantage of placing patients outside in the sun is they can synthesise vitamin D in their skin if sunlight is strong enough. This was not discovered until the 1920s. Low vitamin D levels are now linked to respiratory infections and may increase susceptibility to influenza.[10] Also, our body’s biological rhythms appear to influence how we resist infections.[11] New research suggests they can alter our inflammatory response to the flu virus.[12] As with vitamin D, at the time of the 1918 pandemic, the important part played by sunlight in synchronizing these rhythms was not known.

Face Masks Coronavirus and Flu

Surgical masks are currently in short supply in China and elsewhere. They were worn 100 years ago, during the great pandemic, to try and stop the influenza virus spreading. While surgical masks may offer some protection from infection they do not seal around the face. So they don’t filter out small airborne particles. In 1918, anyone at the emergency hospital in Boston who had contact with patients had to wear an improvised face mask. This comprised five layers of gauze fitted to a wire frame which covered the nose and mouth. The frame was shaped to fit the face of the wearer and prevent the gauze filter touching the mouth and nostrils. The masks were replaced every two hours; properly sterilized and with fresh gauze put on. They were a forerunner of the N95 respirators in use in hospitals today to protect medical staff against airborne infection.

Temporary Hospitals

Staff at the hospital kept up high standards of personal and environmental hygiene. No doubt this played a big part in the relatively low rates of infection and deaths reported there. The speed with which their hospital and other temporary open-air facilities were erected to cope with the surge in pneumonia patients was another factor. Today, many countries are not prepared for a severe influenza pandemic.[13] Their health services will be overwhelmed if there is one. Vaccines and antiviral drugs might help. Antibiotics may be effective for pneumonia and other complications. But much of the world’s population will not have access to them. If another 1918 comes, or the Covid-19 crisis gets worse, history suggests it might be prudent to have tents and pre-fabricated wards ready to deal with large numbers of seriously ill cases. Plenty of fresh air and a little sunlight might help too.

References

  1. Hobday RA and Cason JW. The open-air treatment of pandemic influenza. Am J Public Health 2009;99 Suppl 2:S236–42. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.134627.
  2. Aligne CA. Overcrowding and mortality during the influenza pandemic of 1918. Am J Public Health 2016 Apr;106(4):642–4. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.303018.
  3. Summers JA, Wilson N, Baker MG, Shanks GD. Mortality risk factors for pandemic influenza on New Zealand troop ship, 1918. Emerg Infect Dis 2010 Dec;16(12):1931–7. doi:10.3201/eid1612.100429.
  4. Anon. Weapons against influenza. Am J Public Health 1918 Oct;8(10):787–8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.8.10.787.
  5. May KP, Druett HA. A micro-thread technique for studying the viability of microbes in a simulated airborne state. J Gen Micro-biol 1968;51:353e66. Doi: 10.1099/00221287–51–3–353.
  6. Hobday RA. The open-air factor and infection control. J Hosp Infect 2019;103:e23-e24 doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2019.04.003.
  7. Schuit M, Gardner S, Wood S et al. The influence of simulated sunlight on the inactivation of influenza virus in aerosols. J Infect Dis 2020 Jan 14;221(3):372–378. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiz582.
  8. Hobday RA, Dancer SJ. Roles of sunlight and natural ventilation for controlling infection: historical and current perspectives. J Hosp Infect 2013;84:271–282. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2013.04.011.
  9. Hobday RA. Sunlight therapy and solar architecture. Med Hist 1997 Oct;41(4):455–72. doi:10.1017/s0025727300063043.
  10. Gruber-Bzura BM. Vitamin D and influenza-prevention or therapy? Int J Mol Sci 2018 Aug 16;19(8). pii: E2419. doi: 10.3390/ijms19082419.
  11. Costantini C, Renga G, Sellitto F, et al. Microbes in the era of circadian medicine. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2020 Feb 5;10:30. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2020.00030.
  12. Sengupta S, Tang SY, Devine JC et al. Circadian control of lung inflammation in influenza infection. Nat Commun 2019 Sep 11;10(1):4107. doi: 10.1038/s41467–019–11400–9.
  13. Jester BJ, Uyeki TM, Patel A, Koonin L, Jernigan DB. 100 Years of medical countermeasures and pandemic influenza preparedness. Am J Public Health. 2018 Nov;108(11):1469–1472. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304586.

Dr. Richard Hobday, an internationally recognised authority on health in the built environment, is an independent researcher working in the fields of infection control, public health and building design. He is the author of `The Healing Sun’.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

China Wants Iran Sanctions Lifted to Avoid Damage to ‘Economy and People’s Lives’ Amid Pandemic

Sputnik – March 16, 2020

Beijing calls for lifting Iran sanctions as the Islamic republic fiercely struggles to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

“China urges countries involved to immediately lift the relevant sanctions against Iran to avoid further damage to the Iranian economy and people’s lives,” the ministry’s spokesman Geng Shuang said.

Keeping sanctions in force at a time when the fight against the virus in Iran “has entered a crucial stage” would be antihuman, he added.

The diplomat warned that the restrictions would get in the way of the United Nations and other organisations providing assistance to virus-hit Iran.

“Beijing will continue providing assistance to Tehran based on the needs of the Iranian side and its own capabilities, and we also call on the international community to cooperate with Iran to ensure public health security at a regional and global level,” he stressed, noting that China had already sent humanitarian medical supplies and experts to help Iran.

According to the Iranian health ministry, 1,053 new cases of Covid-19 infection have been reported in the country in the past 24 hours.

In a letter to world leaders on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that crippling US sanctions had cost the national economy some $200 billion in less than two years and curbed the effective fight against the pandemic. He urged the global community to show unity in the face of the deadly viral disease and abandon any policy that hinders global efforts to combat it.

Iran is suffering from the biggest coronavirus outbreak after China and Italy, with nearly 14,000 confirmed cases and over 720 deaths.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , | 3 Comments