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In Effect Sweden’s Economy Is Also Closed

By Paul Craig Roberts • Institute for Political Economy • April 29, 2020

We have been subjected to much nonsensical disinformation that Sweden has kept its economy open and is faring no worse in infections than countries with closed economies and without the economic consequences of closed-downed economies. The fact of the matter is that de facto Sweden’s economy is closed and is doing no better than anyone’s else’s, and its infection rate is still rising.

Sweden closed universities and high schools, banned gatherings of large groups, asked people to avoid non-essential travel, and advised those ill and over 70 to stay at home. Sweden did not require restaurants, bars, and gyms to close, but business is down by 70% as people have avoided the risk. That decline could be larger than in the US where restaurants are permitted to provide takeouts. In Sweden the hotel occupancy rate has dropped from 60% to 10%. Sweden’s economy is “open” only in words.

Despite the alleged “open economy,” economic sentiment indicators fell more in Sweden than in the rest of Europe and the US. The Swedish Riksbank estimates an 11% drop in Swedish GDP from January through April with a number of Swedish economic sectors being “drastically weaker.” This is worse than the 9% decline predicted for the US.

Moreover, closed down Norway, with which Sweden is usually compared, has seen its virus infection rate decline while “open” Sweden’s continues to rise.

This information comes from Bank of America’s Global Research, but I am prevented from reproducing the information. If I include the URL for the report, it opens as “bad request.” So I will describe a bit more of the information. It is distributed as a Merrill Lynch “morning market tidbits,” April 29, 2020.

There is a graph comparing Norwegian and Swedish infection rates. The rates begin together and rise together until the end of the first week in April when the Norwegian rate turns down and the Swedish rate continues to rise. If a line is fitted to the Norwegian data it is an upside down U shape. The line fitted to the Swedish data is a straight line that rises to the right. As of yesterday Sweden’s new cases per million people is a multiple of Norway’s.

In view of these facts, go now and review all of the false claims that Sweden proves the close downs were pointless.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Economics | | 6 Comments

WhatsApp Blasts Israeli Firm for ‘Being Deeply Involved’ in Hacking 1,400 Users, Court Files Say

By Lilia Dergacheva – Sputnik – 29.04.2020

The now unveiled court documents reveal how an Israeli firm could technically have conducted the hacking of strings of individuals, including human rights activists and journalists, alleging that it was carried out through its special software called Pegasus.

In newly publicised court filings cited by The Guardian, WhatsApp has taken a dig at the Israeli spyware company NSO Group, accusing it of exploiting US-based servers, as it was “deeply involved” in carrying out the mobile phone hacks of 1,400 users – with senior government officials and human rights activists among them.

The social media company took the matter to court last year, indicting NSO of severe human rights violations, including the hacking of more than a dozen Indian journalists and Rwandan dissidents.

The documents shed light on a number of technical details about how the hacking software, Pegasus, is allegedly deployed against targets.

WhatsApp alleges that the victims of the hack had received phone calls using its messaging app and were “infected” with Pegasus, which NSO reportedly updated using a network of computers for monitoring. “These NSO-controlled computers served as the nerve centre through which NSO controlled its customers’ operation and use of Pegasus”, the court files suggest.

WhatsApp insists that NSO gained “unauthorised access” to its servers by reverse-engineering the messaging app and then going around the company’s security settings that prevent misuse of the company’s call features.

One WhatsApp engineer who looked into the hacks charged in a sworn statement that in 720 instances, the IP address of a remote server was included in the malicious code used in the attacks. The remote server was allegedly based in Los Angeles and owned by a company whose data centre was used by NSO, which is said to have logs, including targeted users’ IP addresses, at its disposal.

NSO said in legal filings that it has no idea how government clients use its hacking tools, and therefore does not know who exactly they are targeting.

In comments to The Guardian, NSO defended its earlier statement praising its digital brainchildren: “Our products are used to stop terrorism, curb violent crime, and save lives. NSO Group does not operate the Pegasus software for its clients”, the company said, stressing that their “past statements about our business, and the extent of our interaction with our government intelligence and law enforcement agency customers, are accurate”. It added that the company’s management is preparing a formal response to the court files in the near future.

NSO is meanwhile in the public crosshairs over it latest product – a reportedly US-marketed tracking program specially meant for those infected with COVID-19. The new program, called Fleming, uses mobile phone data and public health information to identify the whereabouts of corona patients and whom they have come into contact with.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Covid-19 was already ‘silently circulating’ in France before virus arrived from China & Italy – study

RT | April 29, 2020

The outbreak of the coronavirus in France has little to do with cases imported from China or Italy, as another strain of the disease of unknown origin had already been infecting people in the country, research claims.

The virologists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris have sequenced the genomes from samples taken from 97 French and three Algerian coronavirus patients between January 24 and March 24.

What they found is that the dominant types of Covid-19 viral strains in France differed from those that arrived from China or Italy, and belonged to another group, or ‘clade.’

The earliest sample in the French clade dated from February 19 and came from an infected person who hadn’t traveled abroad recently and had no contacts with possible carriers of the disease.

“We can infer that the virus was silently circulating in France in February” prior to the wave of Covid-19 cases in the country, the virologists said in a paper, published on bioRxiv website but not yet peer-reviewed.

The origins of this third strain were unknown to the scientists. They also pointed out that their sampling was insufficient to reliably establish the time of its introduction in France.

The first coronavirus-related fatality was registered in the country in mid-February, with 129,859 people confirmed as infected and 23,660 dying from complications related to the highly contagious disease since then.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Iran breaks through US-led blockade to deliver record amount of oil to Syria

Al-Masdar News | April 28, 2020

Iran has managed to break through the U.S. blockade to deliver a large amount of oil to the Syrian Arab Republic, TankerTrackers website has revealed.

According to the website Tanker Trackers, Iran has significantly increased their oil exports to Syria, with several cargoes reportedly reaching the Port of Baniyas in the Tartous Governorate.

The website reported that Iran is currently delivering more than three times the normal amount they export to Syria, which is a significant increase to the Arab Republic, who relied heavily on the Islamic Republic’s oil last year.

“There can be several reasons why this is happening. Excess oil stocks in the midst of sanctions and a global oil glut is forcing Iran to ship and perhaps store the oil in a friendly country. Another reason is that Bashar Assad’s government and Hezbollah can be conduits to sell the oil on the black market. One place Hezbollah can manage to do this is Lebanon, where it has sway over the government,” the website Radio Farda reported.

However, despite these claims, the large oil exports to Syria have less to do with selling the petrol and more to do with the Arab Republic providing relief to its people.

Since the U.S. currently occupies some of Syria’s largest oil fields, the Arab Republic has been forced to find alternatives to meet the civil demand for this resource.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

George Soros Wants You to Believe Russia Is a Danger to World Peace, Turkey’s Erdogan an Angel

By Philip Giraldi | American Free Press | April 16, 2020

George Soros is a billionaire Hungarian-born investor who is extremely controversial due to his promotion of what he chooses to define as democracy and free-trade movements, primarily conducted through the Open Society Foundations, which he founded and has funded with $32 billion, according to one estimate. He contributed to the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, which has in part led to conservative politicians in the United States and elsewhere frequently citing Soros when complaining about politically motivated interference in support of a progressive agenda for the United States and also globally. At least they used to do so until Soros’s allies began to fire back with accusations of anti-Semitism, which had the effect of muting the complaints.

Soros moved from Europe to the United States in 1956 and is now an American citizen. The sources of at least some of his wealth are somewhat controversial. He made over $1 billion in 1992 by selling short $10 billion in British pounds sterling, leading to the media dubbing him “the man who broke the bank of England.” He has been accused of similar currency manipulation in both Europe and Asia. In 1999, New York Times economist Paul Krugman was highly critical of Soros’s interference in financial markets, writing, “Nobody who has read a business magazine in the last few years can be unaware that these days there really are investors who not only move money in anticipation of a currency crisis, but actually do their best to trigger that crisis for fun and profit. These new actors on the scene do not yet have a standard name; my proposed term is ‘Soroi.’ ”

Soros was heavily involved with the restructuring of former communist regimes in eastern Europe and had a hand in the so-called Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003 and the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine in 2014, both of which were supported by the U.S. government. But in March 2017, six conservative U.S. senators sent a letter to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking him to look into several grants that the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had given to groups connected to Soros, most particularly in Macedonia. Soros’s projects are particularly targeted by conservatives and nationalists, as they are transnational in nature, and, indeed, some critics have noted that the well-funded and broadly supported Open Society is the most effective and visible weapon in the arsenal of the progressive dominated globalist movement.

Soros has been linked to a number of theories that see him as a puppet-master pulling the strings on a worldwide conspiracy to control key elements of the world economy as well as leading politicians. His critics are generally conservatives who are opposed to the progressive causes that he promotes. Soros has been in the news recently for his financial support of a Washington-based think tank called the Quincy Institute, which is also funded by the libertarian Koch family. The institute claims to be a non-partisan organization that promotes a “restrained” foreign policy using diplomacy as a means to resolve international disputes rather than threats followed up by warfare, which has become the preferred option for successive U.S. presidents and their administrations.

Soros’s motives in suddenly embracing diplomacy and non-intervention might well be questioned. On March 4, the Financial Times published an op-ed (unfortunately behind a paywall) by Soros entitled “Europe Must Stand With Turkey Over Putin’s War Crimes in Syria.” It had the subtitle “Focusing on the Refugee Crisis Russia Has Created Addresses Symptoms Not the Cause.” In it, he let loose a sharp attack on both the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin.

The Soros op-ed is full of errors of fact and is basically a call for aggression against Russia. It starts with, “Since the beginning of its intervention in Syria in September 2015, Russia has not only sought to keep in place its most faithful Arab ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It has also wanted to regain the regional and global influence that it lost since the fall of the Soviet Union.” First of all, Russia did not “intervene” in Syria. It was invited there by the country’s legitimate government to provide assistance against various groups, some of which were linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State, that were seeking to overthrow President al-Assad.

And apart from Soros, few actual experts on Russia would claim that it is seeking to recreate the “influence” of the Soviet Union. Moscow does not have the resources to do so and has evinced no desire to pursue the sort of global agenda that was characteristic of the Soviet state.

There then follows a complete flight into hyperbole with: “Vladimir Putin has sought to use the turmoil in the Middle East to erase international norms and advances in international humanitarian law made since the second world war. In fact, creating the humanitarian disaster that has turned almost 6 million Syrians into refugees has not been a byproduct of the Russian president’s strategy in Syria. It has been one of his central goals.” None of Soros’s assertions are supported by fact. The U.S. and Israel are the two top flaunters of international norms and law, not Russia, and there is no evidence whatsoever that Moscow sought to create the “humanitarian disaster” in Syria. That was the work of the U.S. and its “allies” in the region who were supporting both separatists and terrorists.

Soros states his belief that “Assad is the most barbarous ruler that the world has seen since Joseph Stalin. When his own people rose up against him, he developed a military strategy designed to inflict the greatest possible harm on his civilian opponents. He deliberately targeted hospitals, schools and kindergartens, trying to kill or maim caregivers. He has used poison gas and chemical attacks over the course of a conflict that has left more than half a million dead.” None of the assertions are true and a lot of the “evidence” comes from propagandists for the terrorist groups, to include the notorious White Helmets. The lies advanced about the use of chemical weapons have recently been exposed.

Soros goes on to describe how Russia has “deliberately targeted” and bombed schools and hospitals, claims that largely derive from sources hostile to al-Assad and Putin that are impossible to check. Soros also asserts that, “The only government that has put up military forces to defend the civilians trapped in Idlib by Mr. Assad and its Russian ally is Turkey.” It is a claim that is perhaps the biggest lie of all, as Ankara is involved in Syria in support of its own completely selfish irredentist objectives and its desire to crush the Kurdish militias operating in the north and east of the country. Back in October, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan issued an emotional call to Jihad to his supporters, saying, “Inshallah, God has promised us in Syria victory from Allah and an imminent conquest; and give good tidings to the believers. We see it is happening right now.”

The Soros op-ed also included a bit of reminiscence, describing how, “In 2014, I urged Europe to wake up to the threat that Russia was posing to its strategic interests, albeit in a different context and geography. Russia had invaded Ukraine knowing that Europe would seek to avoid any confrontation with Moscow. Yet what is happening in Idlib now is following the same pattern: Europe is evading a confrontation with Russia over its Syria policy when it should be standing up to it . . . with respect to Syria at least, Turkey deserves Europe’s support. Europe should therefore seek to bolster Turkish President Erdogan’s negotiating position. . . . I hope that this would also put Mr. Putin’s war crimes at the center of the European conversation.”

The op-ed is neither conciliatory nor “diplomatic” and is a clear sign that Soros picks his enemies based on ideological considerations that also drive his choices on how to frame his ventures. He is a billionaire who has chosen to use his money to remake the world in an image that he is comfortable with. Unfortunately, there is a lot of that kind of thinking going around—that having lots of money ipso facto equates to some kind of superior wisdom. And the whole process is facilitated by the fact that politicians as well as space on editorial pages of leading newspapers can easily be bought. Soros would have Europe and the United States taking on Russia over what he perceives to be going on in Syria, where they have no genuine interests. It is a formula that we have seen played out repeatedly in the past 20 years and can only lead to disaster.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Hillary’s Been Enabling Sexual Predators’: Biden Accuser Rips Clinton for Endorsing Him

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally with Vice President Joe Biden(L), August 15, 2016, in Scranton, Pennsylvania

© AFP 2020 / DOMINICK REUTERS
Sputnik

During a conference call on Tuesday, Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee for the presidential race, received a formal word of support from Hillary Clinton, yet another party member to wish the former vice president luck as he prepares to take on President Trump in November.

The former Senate staffer who is accusing Joe Biden of sexually abusing her in the 1990s has blasted Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. I voted for her in the primary. I’m a lifelong Democrat”, Biden accuser Tara Reade told Fox News, before continuing her rant:

“But yet, what I see now is someone enabling a sexual predator and it was my former boss, Joe Biden, who raped me”, Reade fumed.She addressed at length Hillary Clinton’s “history enabling powerful men to cover up their sexual predatory behaviours and their inappropriate sexual misconduct”, arguing that this is not “what this country needs”.

“We don’t need that for our new generation coming up that wants institutional rape culture to change”, she stressed.

Biden’s press service has continuously dismissed the sexual assault claims, with Kate Bedingfield, Mr Biden’s communications director, busting the claims straight away, inviting journalists to verify them first: “Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims. We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false”, she said. Independently, the campaign released a statement from Marianne Baker, an executive assistant to Mr Biden from 1982 to 2000, who said: “In all my years working for Senator Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period. Not from Ms Reade, not from anyone”.

Biden received Clinton’s endorsement via livestream on Tuesday, as both Democrats are stuck at home due to the current coronavirus crisis-caused lockdowns and self-isolation measures.

Biden has received a flurry of endorsements from prominent party members including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday, and former President Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren, another 2020 rival, earlier this month. Sanders, the self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, who was the last to give up the fight in the primary, also endorsed Biden seeking not to further split the party during a healthcare crisis.

However, amid all the endorsements, calls have been on a rise for the presumptive Dem nominee to personally respond to Reade’s claims, as she thundered the other day in comments to Fox:

“I will not be smeared, dismissed, or ignored. I stand in truth and I will keep speaking out”, Biden’s former employee said.Reports of ‘Prominent Senator’ Behaving Badly

A number of other persons who appear to corroborate her claims have recently made headlines, one of them being Reade’s former neighbour, who told Business Insider that she recalled hearing about the ex-Biden staffer’s alleged assault when Reade said the incident occurred – back in 1993.

“This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it”, she shared with the publication.

Another individual, Lorraine Sanchez who worked with Reade in the mid 1990s, told the edition that she remembered Reade explaining her dismissal from her previous job by raising concerns about sexual harassment by her former boss.

The allegation surfaced after a clip came out that allegedly features the voice of Reade’s mother phoning into “Larry King Live” in 1993 and asking if her daughter should turn to the press about a “prominent senator” behaving inappropriately.

Reade, who was among the women who came out last year with stories about Biden being too handsy, claiming he “just had her up against the wall” in a Capitol Hill hallway in 1993, when Reade worked on his staff during his tenure as a senator for Delaware.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Fauci Backed Controversial Wuhan Lab with Millions of U.S. Dollars for Risky Coronavirus “Gain of Function” Research

By Fred Guterl | Newsweek | April 28, 2020

Excerpts:

But just last year, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the organization led by Dr. Fauci, funded scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other institutions for work on gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses.

In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million.

Many scientists have criticized gain of function research, which involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, because it creates a risk of starting a pandemic from accidental release.

The NIH research consisted of two parts. The first part began in 2014 and involved surveillance of bat coronaviruses, and had a budget of $3.7 million. The program funded Shi Zheng-Li, a virologist at the Wuhan lab, and other researchers to investigate and catalogue bat coronaviruses in the wild. This part of the project was completed in 2019.

A second phase of the project, beginning that year, included additional surveillance work but also gain-of-function research for the purpose of understanding how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans. The project was run by EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit research group, under the direction of President Peter Daszak, an expert on disease ecology. NIH canceled the project just this past Friday, April 24th, Politico reported. Daszak did not immediately respond to Newsweek requests for comment.

The project proposal states: “We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential.”

In layman’s terms, “spillover potential” refers to the ability of a virus to jump from animals to humans, which requires that the virus be able to receptors in the cells of humans. SARS-CoV-2, for instance, is adept at binding to the ACE2 receptor in human lungs and other organs.

According to Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, the project description refers to experiments that would enhance the ability of bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using techniques of genetic engineering. In the wake of the pandemic, that is a noteworthy detail.

A decade ago, during a controversy over gain-of-function research on bird-flu viruses, Dr. Fauci played an important role in promoting the work. He argued that the research was worth the risk it entailed because it enables scientists to make preparations, such as investigating possible anti-viral medications, that could be useful if and when a pandemic occurred.

The work in question was a type of gain-of-function research that involved taking wild viruses and passing them through live animals until they mutate into a form that could pose a pandemic threat. Scientists used it to take a virus that was poorly transmitted among humans and make it into one that was highly transmissible—a hallmark of a pandemic virus. This work was done by infecting a series of ferrets, allowing the virus to mutate until a ferret that hadn’t been deliberately infected contracted the disease.

The work entailed risks that worried even seasoned researchers. More than 200 scientists called for the work to be halted. The problem, they said, is that it increased the likelihood that a pandemic would occur through a laboratory accident.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

‘Tough Luck’ for US Prisoners During COVID-19

By John Kiriakou – Consortium News – April 28, 2020

A federal judge last week denied NSA whistleblower Reality Winner’s request for release rom federal prison, saying that her possible exposure to the coronavirus was not serious enough to warrant relief because she is incarcerated in a prison hospital for other health issues. The judge also said that each prison’s warden and the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) have jurisdiction over compassionate release. Federal judges do not.

Reality Winner (@bjwinnerdavis, Twitter)

The problem is that prison wardens and the BOP almost never release anybody under their compassionate release authorities, even though Congress recently made it easier for them to do so. Reality Winner is not the only person, then, suffering through this pandemic, worried about sick people living practically on top of each other, and without hope of relief.

I’m in regular touch with several prisoners in the federal system and they have reported a rapidly worsening situation because of the spread of coronavirus. Not only is the disease spreading among prisoners and staff alike because of overcrowding, but poor nutrition and inadequate hygiene also play an important role.

At least 27 federal prisoners have died of coronavirus so far and untold thousands have been infected. And, although there have been some high-profile releases, like celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti and former New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, most federal prisoners who have applied for compassionate release have been told to go fly a kite.

Years of Talk

One of those prisoners, Clint Goswick, is a friend of mine. He was convicted of being a part of a methamphetamine ring and was given two decades in prison. The truth of the matter is that there were 30 people involved in his “conspiracy.” And although his role in the conspiracy was that he allowed the use of methamphetamine at his house during a party, he was given a draconian sentence because one of the attendees at the party had a gun. Clint didn’t know there was a gun. He never saw a gun. He never touched a gun. But that gun quadrupled his sentence. And because his crime is now called a “gun crime,” he is ineligible for compassionate release, whether there’s a coronavirus pandemic or not.

Now multiply Clint times thousands of other prisoners. They’re all out of luck. They have to remain in prison. I always ask myself, “Is society really better off — are we really safer as a country — keeping a guy in his mid-60s in prison for a first-time non-violent drug offense?” Our politicians like to talk about prison reform and sentencing reform, but after years of talk and even passage of legislation, we have very little to show for it. Clint will have to remain in prison for another six years. He’ll be nearly 70 years old. And that’s only if he survives the coronavirus.

Marty Gottesfeld. (Twitter)

Marty Gottesfeld (Twitter)

I am also in touch with whistleblower Marty Gottesfeld. Marty is incarcerated in the notorious Communications Management Unit (CMU) at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terre Haute, Indiana. Until just a few weeks ago, Marty was held incommunicado because he had been reporting on conditions inside the prison for The Intercept, the HuffPo, and other outlets, and that reporting had embarrassed the BOP. The restrictions were lifted inexplicably and he immediately began blowing the whistle on conditions again.

Marty tells me that the BOP only locked down the prison for coronavirus on April 14. Prisoners have not been permitted to bathe since then. They are confined to their cells and are not permitted to have any outside exercise. Marty says that a nurse takes every prisoner’s temperature every few days and, if a prisoner has a fever, he is taken to solitary confinement — not to the medical unit. Solitary has a simple steel bunk, a toilet, and a sink. What it doesn’t have is a doctor or any comfort whatsoever for a sick prisoner.

Prisoners also are given one disposable mask every Wednesday morning, which they must wear at all times. For reasons not made clear to prisoners, there are new restrictions that have accompanied the lockdown. Prisoners, for example, are now allowed to spend only $50 per month in the commissary, rather than the normal $320 monthly (unless they are informants for the guards, in which case they can still spend $320.) At the same time, the commissary has no detergent, no disinfectant wipes and no hand sanitizer.

Prison authorities have also decided, in their infinite wisdom, that prisoners may only make one phone call per week. They did not explain how this is supposed to help control the coronavirus. The more likely scenario is that they hope prisoners will use their one phone call to speak with family members, rather than with journalists, who may be hungry for information from “the inside.”

No Clue

The bottom line is that the Bureau of Prisons leadership has no plan, no policy, to control the coronavirus inside its prisons. It’s winging it. If you have a fever or test positive, you go to solitary.

But how do you remain healthy when there’s no real medical care and no way to keep yourself clean? What do you do when the White House and the Congress say that many of you should be released to home confinement because of the pandemic and the warden and judges say “tough luck?”

I suppose we can write to our elected officials, but that clearly hasn’t worked. In the meantime, we can keep calling out the BOP and its wrong-headed, incompetent, and sadistic leadership. Maybe one of these days somebody will listen.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

His warnings unheeded, Iranian scientist contracts coronavirus in US jail

Undated picture provided by ISNA of US-held Iranian scientist, Sirous Asgari
Press TV – April 29, 2020

An Iranian scientist — who remains behind bars in the US despite having been exonerated in a sanctions trial — has contracted the new coronavirus after he repeatedly drew attention to his fragile health and called for his release from the “dirty” and “overcrowded” jail facility.

The Guardian reported the lawyers representing Sirous Asgari, a professor of material sciences at Sharif University of Technology, had confirmed his infection on Tuesday.

He has repeatedly pleaded for release since March, complaining about unsanitary detention conditions and overcrowding at the Louisiana facility, where he is being kept.

Coughing violently and suffering from a fever, Asgari told the paper in a phone call that the detention center was even taking in more inmates rather than releasing some as a precaution to stop further spread of the outbreak.

He also said the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) had refused to notify him about his positive test results, adding that he only learned about his infection from his lawyers and family members on Tuesday.

“It makes sense to send me to the hospital as soon as possible. I don’t trust them at all,” the 59-year-old said. “If something happens, they are not fast responders … I prefer to leave this dirty place.”

The detainees are responsible for all the cleaning at the detention facility,” where there is a single shower and only two toilets for all 44 of them to share,” the daily reported.

Ice, however, has told Asgari’s lawyers he would only be released to a hospital if he was struggling to breathe.

Asgari was arrested in the United States in mid-2017. Back then, the FBI alleged the scientist had shared information about a project he had conducted on a sabbatical in the US five years before with his students.

His wife, though, said in an interview in late March that the findings of the project had been published and made available on the Internet afterwards, which means there was nothing secret about the project. US legal authorities then charged him with withholding information in the process of visa application, circumventing the sanctions, and transferring technology to Iran.

Washington then delayed the holding of a trial for him several times, “all the while knowing they had no evidence to bring against him,” she said.

The Iranian professor was cleared of the charges at a court session that was ultimately scheduled after about two and a half years. Nevertheless, US Citizenship and Immigration Services then took the matters out of the hands of the country’s legal system, once again detaining Asgari for “lacking a valid visa and illegal presence on US soil.”

Mr. Asgari has reminded US officials that they themselves had seized his passport and were, hence, responsible for his prolonged presence in America.

His spouse said Washington was intentionally prolonging Asgari’s detention so that it could eventually swap him with an American prisoner held in Iran.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 5 Comments

Pentagon would be producing biological weapons in the Amazon Rainforest

By Lucas Leiroz | April 29, 2020

The theme of biological warfare has gained increasing prominence in recent times. The global pandemic of the new coronavirus has aroused interest in this matter in particular, and several speculations have arisen by experts from many countries about the possibility of an artificial origin of the virus that currently plagues the planet. In fact, it doesn’t matter if this particular virus was created in laboratory or not, but the use of biological manipulation for military purposes is a complex subject and worthy of careful study. The interest in the issue is absolutely legitimate and allows such a debate to go beyond the sphere of “conspiracy theories” to acquire an academic character.

Recently, some alleged cases of biological weapons operations have received due attention, thanks to the suspicions raised by the pandemic. This is the case for American military laboratories in the Amazon rainforest. Although little is said about this subject, the American armed forces maintain several laboratories for obscure research purposes within the Amazon territory. It is already known that many of these laboratories have or had an active participation in the drug production process by drug trafficking criminal organizations hidden in the Amazon. The most notorious laboratory is the so-called NAMRU-6, which belongs to the American Navy.

The “Observatory for the Closing of the School of the Americas” reported in a note that several bacteriological and tropical diseases researches are being carried out in the Peruvian Amazon by the NAMRU-6 base. “In Peru, the United States has a number of military bases, some allegedly involved in drug trafficking,” said Pablo Ruiz, spokesman for the observatory, emphasizing: “This is a military base that we are monitoring, which belongs to the US Navy. […] (NAMRU) Conducts research on pathological and infectious diseases, and we are very concerned because it is close to the Amazon, and eventually on that military base they could be preparing biological weapons.”

NAMRU-6 (Naval Medical Research Unit Six) is an American Navy biomedical research center based in Lima, Peru. Publicly, Washington states that the interest of the researches carried out by the base is the identification and control of infectious diseases and the development of medications for their control, however there are several suspicions about the real nature of its activities, with the hypothesis of clandestine operations on biological manipulation being highly considered. According to the Observatory (which is a social movement that fights for the end of foreign military bases in Latin America), NAMRU is behind the creation of several biological weapons, many of which have already been used in combat by the USA.

The Observatory spokesman reported that the investigations being carried out on NAMRU suggest that this base is behind the epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue in Cuba in 1981, which caused the death of hundreds of people. The hypothesis gains even more strength now that evidence is found of the use of the mosquito “aedes eagypt” (host of the virus that transmits dengue and other diseases) as a biological weapon by the Pentagon in several regions of the planet, as described in several official documents recently revealed.

Pablo Ruiz argued that the UN bodies responsible for the control of weapons of mass destruction should work more closely with regard to biological weapons and seek greater control over the activities carried out by military laboratories. In his words: “In the situation that humanity is currently experiencing, it would be very good if the UN body that ensures that no country produces weapons of mass destruction could visit this base and see what they are doing there with infectious diseases”.

In fact, too much attention has been paid in recent decades to the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation; however, biological weapons are almost never seriously treated, with almost all complaints on the subject being referred as “conspiratorial”. The reason for this is understandable: when used, biological weapons transmit an atmosphere of “normality”, as they deal with natural phenomena that are artificially manipulated. So, the last thing one could think about an infection is that it is a military weapon rather than a natural phenomenon. But this is exactly where the benefits of using such weapons are: they are almost never noticed and their damage can be greater than that of chemical and nuclear weapons – which clearly identify their launchers. The difficulty in understanding whether or not such weapons were used in a given event was the main reason why some countries chose to go ahead in research to develop such products.

It is increasingly difficult to deny the existence of biological weapons. It is a matter of time before publicly admitting that the biomedical field is a battlefield like any other, just as it happened recently with the cyberspace. However, until it is proved whether or not such weapons are being used, many things continue to happen, such as, for example, top-secret research by the American Navy within the Amazon Rainforest. The location is extremely strategic: far from any rich country, in remote and difficult-to-reach regions, these laboratories remain out of the international media and do not put the populations of western urban centers at risk in the event of accidents or leaks.

Indeed, Washington already has several accusations of using biological weapons. Experts from Russia, China, Iran and several other nationalities raised this hypothesis about the new coronavirus. Now, a new charge comes from South America. Above all, the US owes the world an answer. After all, what is so secret about biomedical research being carried out in military laboratories in remote areas of the globe? International society demands an explanation.

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

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | 3 Comments