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Engineering Contagion: UPMC, Corona-thrax and “the Darkest Winter”

Researchers at a BSL-3 lab tied to the organizers of the 2001 Dark Winter simulation, DARPA, and the post-9/11 biodefense industrial complex are genetically modifying anthrax to express Covid-19 components, according to FOIA documents.

By Whitney Webb | The Last American Vagabond | September 25, 2020

Soon after having been fired from his post as secretary of the treasury in December 2002, after a policy clash with the president, Paul O’Neill became a trustee of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Despite having just worked under and clashed with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, it wasn’t until O’Neill began answering to UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff as a member of the Center’s board that he chose to publicly denounce a superior as “evil.”

He wants to destroy competition. He wants to be the only game in town,” O’Neill would later state of Romoff, adding that “after 18 months I quit [the UPMC board] in disgust” due to Romoff’s “absolute control” over the board’s actions. O’Neill subsequently noted that UPMC “board members who have wealth of hundreds of millions of dollars are not willing to take this guy on.” When pressed by a local reporter, O’Neill further elaborated that he had been told by other board members that they were “afraid” of Romoff because Romoff might “harm them in some way.”

O’Neill’s criticisms of Romoff are hardly an outlier, as local community activists and even a state attorney general have noted that UPMC’s board lets Romoff do as he pleases.

Jeffrey Romoff has ruled UPMC with an iron fist since his predecessor, Thomas Detre, had a heart attack in 1992. As a result of the Center’s massive wealth accumulation, at first spurred by his magic touch for receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, Detre was able to use the financial power afforded to him to consolidate control over enough of the University of Pittsburgh to create his “own personal fiefdom,” which is now the stand-alone corporation known as UPMC.

Not long after Romoff took over the Center’s reins, he made his intentions clear to faculty and staff, stating at one 1995 UPMC meeting that his “vision” for the future of American health care was “the conversion of health care from social good to a commodity.” Motivated by profit above all else, Romoff aggressively expanded UPMC, gobbling up community hospitals, surgery centers, and private practices to create a “health-care network” that has expanded throughout much of Pennsylvania and even abroad to other countries, including China. Under Romoff, UPMC has also expanded into the health-insurance business, with 40 percent of the medical claims it pays out going straight back into places of care that are owned by UPMC—meaning UPMC is essentially paying itself.

In addition, since UPMC is officially a “charitable nonprofit corporation,” it is exempt from property taxes and has special access to the tax-exempt municipal bond market. UPMC can also solicit tax-deductible grants from private individuals and organizations, as well as governments. These grants totaled over $1 billion dollars between 2005 and 2017.

Despite these perks being officially justified because of UPMC’s “charitable institution” status, the UPMC board, with Romoff at the top, have seen their own multimillion-dollar-per-year salaries continue to climb. Perhaps this perk also comes from UPMC being a nonprofit corporation, as there are no stockholders to whom Romoff and the board must explain their increasingly exorbitant salaries. For instance, Romoff made $8.97 million last year as UPMC’s CEO, a marked increase over the $6.12 million he had raked in the prior year.

UPMC’s financial chicanery is so out of control that even Pennsylvania’s attorney general has taken action against it, suing UPMC in February 2019 for violations of the state’s charity laws based on their “unjust enrichment” and engaging in “unfair, fraudulent or deceptive acts or practices.” Though UPMC decided to settle out of court, the Center and Romoff came out of the affair relatively unscathed.

Now, thanks to the crisis caused by Covid-19, UPMC is once again on the path toward growing even larger and more powerful in pursuit of Romoff’s ultimate goal, which is, in his own words, to make UPMC the “Amazon of health care.”

In this fourth installment of the The Last American Vagabond series Engineering Contagion: Amerithrax, Coronavirus and the Rise of the Biotech-Industrial Complex”, the “nonprofit” health-care behemoth that is UPMC is squarely placed at the intersection of post-9/11 “biodefense” public-private partnerships; corporate-funded academics who shape public policy on behalf of their private-sector benefactors; and risky research on dangerous pathogens that threatens to unleash the very “bioterror” that these institutions claim to guard against.

The Odd Trajectory of UPMC’s Covid-19 Vaccine Efforts

In January 2020, when much of the world remained blissfully unaware of the coming global pandemic, UPMC was already at work developing a vaccine to protect against the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, known as SARS-CoV-2. That month, before the state of Pennsylvania had a single case of Covid-19, UPMC formed a “coronavirus task force,” which was initially focused on lobbying the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to obtain samples of live SARS-CoV-2 for research purposes. That research was to be conducted at the Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) housed within UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research. A day after the director of UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research, W. Paul Duprex, revealed UPMC’s efforts to access the SARS-CoV-2 virus, he announced that the virus samples, containing an estimated 50 to 60 million coronavirus particles, were already en route to the university. At the time, UPMC was one of only a handful of institutions on the CDC’s short list to receive live SARS-CoV-2 samples.

UPMC later stated that they began work on a vaccine for Covid-19 on January 21st, weeks before the February 14th announcement that the virus was on its way to the university. That original vaccine candidate used the published genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, released in early January 2020 by Chinese researchers, to synthetically produce SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins that would be transported into cells by an adenoviral vector, which is commonly used in a variety of vaccines. The vaccine candidate was nicknamed PittCoVacc, short for Pittsburgh Coronavirus Vaccine.

A little over a month after the live SARS-CoV-2 samples were received by UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research, UPMC received a $5 million grant from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an international organization founded in 2017 by the governments of Norway and India along with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant was officially awarded to “an international academic-industry partnership” that the Center for Vaccine Research had recently formed with the Institut Pasteur in France and Austrian vaccine manufacturer Themis. Soon after, in May, Themis was acquired by vaccine giant Merck, which began recruiting volunteers for human trials earlier this month on September 11. Merck has incredibly close ties with UPMC, particularly its commercialization arm known as UPMC Enterprises.

The CEPI grant seems to have drastically altered the Center for Vaccine Research’s interest in the original adenovirus-vector vaccine candidate, PittCoVacc, as the CEPI grant was specifically aimed at funding a different vaccine candidate that instead uses the measles virus as a vector. The measles virus and the genetic manipulation of measles for use in the measles vaccine is, notably, the principal research interest and expertise of Center for Vaccine Research director Paul Duprex.

This measles-based vaccine candidate has been described as “a modified [genetically altered] measles virus that delivers bits of the new coronavirus into the body to prevent Covid-19” as well as an “attenuated [genetically modified yet weakened] measles virus as a vector with which to introduce genetic material from SARS-[CoV-]2 to the immune system.” The combination of this weakened measles virus and SARS-CoV-2, per Duprex, will produce a “more benign version of coronavirus [that] will acquaint a person’s immune system” with SARS-CoV-2. No vaccine using this modality has ever been licensed.

On April 2nd, less than a week after the CEPI award had been announced, the UPMC researchers who had developed the original vaccine candidate using the more traditional adenovirus-vector approach published a study in EBioMedicine (a publication of the medical journal Lancet) that reported promising results of their vaccine candidate in animal studies. The news that a US institution was among the first in the world to develop a Covid-19 vaccine candidate with promising results from an animal study was heavily amplified by mainstream US media outlets, with those reports noting that UMPC was requesting government permission to quickly move onto human trials.

This original vaccine candidate, however, was mysteriously dropped from subsequent reports and statements from UPMC regarding its Covid-19 vaccine efforts. Indeed, in recent months, Duprex’s statements on the center’s Covid-19 vaccine candidates no longer mention the once-promising PittCoVacc at all. Instead, new reports, citing Duprex, claim that the only UPMC vaccine candidates are the CEPI-funded measles-vaccine candidate and another, more mysterious vaccine candidate, whose nature has only been recently revealed by documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Equally odd is that recent media reports on the original vaccine candidate have stopped mentioning UPMC at all, instead citing only Themis, its new owner Merck, and France’s Institut Pasteur. There are no reports indicating a break-up of the original “academic-industry partnership” that had received the CEPI grant. It seems that this is what may have come to pass, as Duprex stated that the UPMC measles-vector vaccine candidate had partnered with the Serum Institute of India for mass production, first for trials and then for public use, depending on how the vaccine advances through the regulatory process. In contrast, Themis/Merck have stated that their vaccine is being produced in France. It remains unclear what the relation is between these two, and apparently analogous, vaccine candidates.

Though Duprex has been relatively forthcoming about the nature of the first UPMC vaccine candidate (i. e., the CEPI-funded measles-vector vaccine), he has been much more tight-lipped about its second vaccine candidate. In late August, he told the Pittsburgh Business Times that the second vaccine candidate that UPMC was developing “works by delivering genetic material coding for a viral protein instead of the entire weakened or killed virus as is standard in other vaccines.” Yet Duprex declined to state what vector will be used to deliver the genetic material into human cells. Recent FOIA revelations, nevertheless, have revealed that UPMC’s second vaccine candidate involves genetically engineering a combination of SARS-Cov-2 and anthrax, a substance better known for its potential use as a bioweapon.

Corona-thrax

The recently obtained documents reveal that the BSL-3 lab that is part of UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research is conducting eyebrow-raising research involving combining SARS-CoV-2 with Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax infection. Per the documents, anthrax is being genetically engineered by a researcher, whose name was redacted in the release, so that it will express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which is the part of the coronavirus that allows it to gain access into human cells. The researcher asserts that “the [genetically engineered anthrax/SARS-CoV-2 hybrid] can [be] used as a host strain to make SARS-CoV-2 recombinant S protein vaccine,” and the creation of said vaccine is the officially stated purpose of the research project. The documents were produced by the University of Pittsburgh’s Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), which held an emergency meeting on June 22nd of this year to “discuss specific protocols involving research with the coronavirus,” which included a vote on the aforementioned proposal.

Edward Hammond, the former director of the Sunshine Project, an organization that opposed chemical and biological weapons and the expansion of “dual use” biodefense/bioweapon research, obtained the documents. Other FOIA documents recently obtained by Hammond have revealed an “explosion” of risky Covid-19-related research at other academic institutions, such as the University of North Carolina, which has already had lab accidents involving genetically engineered variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Hammond told The Last American Vagabond that the experiment, which he dubs “Corona-thrax,” is “emblematic of the pointless research excesses that often characterize the response of scientists to the federal government throwing billions of dollars at health crises.” Hammond added, “While I don’t think that Corona-thrax would be infectious, it falls into the categories of pointless and crazy. The biggest immediate risk of all this activity is that a researcher will deliberately or inadvertently create a modified form of SARS-CoV-2 that is even more difficult to treat, or more deadly, and this virus will escape the lab. It only takes a stray droplet.”

Jonathan Latham, a virologist who previously taught at the University of Wisconsin and who is the current editor of Independent Science News, agreed with Hammond that the Corona-thrax experiment is odd and said that he was “concerned here specifically about the research process and the risks of these specific experiments at Pittsburgh.” In an interview with The Last American Vagabond, Latham asserted that it is “unusual by historical standards . . . the combining of two highly pathogenic organisms in a single experiment.” He did note, however, that such studies for the purposes of vaccine research have become more common in recent years, as is made clear in a 2012 study.

Few experiments have been conducted that specifically utilize anthrax in this way. Since 2000, the studies that have examined the use of genetically modified anthrax as a potential vaccine vector have been affiliated with Harvard University. One of these studies was on the use of anthrax as a vector in a potential HIV vaccine and was jointly conducted in 2000 by Harvard researchers and the vaccine company Avant Immunotherapeutics (now part of Celldex).

Despite reporting positive preliminary results in their experiments, Avant/Celldex did not fund further experiments into a vaccine that used this anthrax-based modality, and it does not currently market or have any such vaccine in its product pipeline. This suggests that, for whatever reason, this company did not see much value in this vaccine, despite the preliminary study with Harvard claiming that the methodology was safe and effective.

The Harvard researchers involved in that 2000 study, however, continued to investigate the possibility of an anthrax-based HIV vaccine in 2003, 2004, and 2005, though without corporate sponsorship. Related yet different research has explored the use of “disarmed” anthrax components as an adjuvant in vaccines and as the basis for enzyme-linked immunospot assays.

The aforementioned Harvard researchers patented their methodology of using anthrax in this way for the production of a vaccine in 2002. This means that the anthrax-based “vaccine” currently being developed by UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research would have to develop a new method that utilizes anthrax in much the same way so as not to infringe on the patent, which is unlikely. The other alternative is that UPMC would pay the patent holders for use of their methodology if they want to commercialize it in a vaccine. Yet, given UPMC’s business model in general, as well as that of UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research specifically, this also seems unlikely.

Also odd is what sort of incentive UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research possesses for the Corona-thrax experiment. There are currently over a hundred vaccine candidates that use existing and tested vaccine platforms in pursuit of a Covid-19 vaccine, a fact Duprex himself has acknowledged. As Hammond told The Last American Vagabond, “It is perfectly obvious that there are numerous existing vaccine platforms for Covid-19 and that some of them will, sooner or more likely later, succeed. There is no serious need for some sort of quite strange bacterial platform, much less one that happens to be anthrax. It’s completely unnecessary and frankly bizarre.”

The Crown Jewel of the Biotech-Industrial Complex

UPMC

Ribbon cutting for the Center for Vaccine Research – From left: Donald S. Burke, U. S. Congressman Mike Doyle, Arthur S. Levine, Dan Onorato, Mark A. Nordenberg.

The Corona-thrax experiment is being conducted at the Center for Vaccine Research’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL), where the center’s work with pathogenic agents, such as anthrax and SARS-CoV-2, is conducted.

The creation of UPMC’s RBL was first announced in 2003, when the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, then and currently led by Anthony Fauci) stated it would fund the laboratory’s construction with an $18 million grant. It was originally planned to be mainly “dedicated to research on agents that cause naturally occurring and emerging infections, as well as potential agents of bioterrorism.” The plan to create the lab was part of the US government decision to dramatically ramp up “biodefense” research in the wake of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The lab was also intended to work on “developing a vaccine program focusing on basic and translational research” related to viruses of pandemic potential that are at risk of being “weaponized,” including SARS. After the creation of the lab was initially announced, the project expanded, eventually becoming UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research, which was launched in 2007. The Center for Vaccine Research was the second such institution to be officially added to the NIAID’s “biodefense” RBL network.

The opening of both this lab and UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research was made reality thanks to the efforts of the main authors of the June 2001 Dark Winter bioterror simulation, a controversial exercise that eerily predicted the 2001 anthrax attacks as well as the initial, yet bogus, narrative that Iraq and Islamic extremist terror groups were responsible for those attacks. However, the anthrax used in the attacks was later revealed to be of US military origin. As noted in Part I of this series, participants in the Dark Winter exercise had foreknowledge of the anthrax attacks and others were involved in the subsequent “investigation,” which many experts and former FBI investigators describe as a cover-up.

Dark Winter was largely written by Tara O’Toole, Thomas Inglesby, and Randall Larsen, all three of whom played integral roles in the founding or operations of UPMC’s Center for Biosecurity, along with O’Toole’s mentor, D. A. Henderson. UPMC’s Center for Biosecurity was launched in September 2003, just days before the NIAID announced it would fund the RBL lab that would later become the UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research.

Notably, just days after the attacks on September 11, 2001, O’Toole, Inglesby, and Larsen personally briefed Vice President Cheney on Dark Winter. Simultaneously, Cheney’s office at the White House began taking the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin to prevent anthrax infection. In the weeks between that briefing and the 2001 anthrax attacks, Dark Winter participants and several associates of Cheney, namely members of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) like Donald Kagan and Richard Perle, asserted that a bioterror attack involving anthrax would soon take place.

In the aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, Henderson “was tapped by the federal government to vastly increase the number of [biodefense] labs, both to detect suspected pathogens like anthrax and to conduct bio-defense research, such as developing vaccines,” with the announcement of UPMC’s RBL being part of the launch of the O’Toole-led Center for Biosecurity at UPMC, where Henderson was named senior adviser. In 2003, the Center for Biosecurity was set up at UPMC partially at the request of Jeffrey Romoff to be “the country’s only think tank and research center devoted to the prevention and handling of biological attacks,” with UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research being the hub of a new “biodefense research” lab network Henderson was setting up and managing at the time. That network remains technically managed by the Fauci-led NIAID.

Also noteworthy is that the Center for Vaccine Research’s director, from its opening in 2007 until 2016, was Donald Burke. Burke is a former biodefense researcher for the US military at Fort Detrick and other installations and, immediately prior to heading the UPMC center, was a program director at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where he worked closely with O’Toole and Inglesby.

At the time of the 2003 announcement regarding the creation of what would become UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research, Tara O’Toole stated:

“This new laboratory will enable University of Pittsburgh medical researchers to delve further into possible treatments and to develop vaccines against diseases that might result from bioterrorist attack or from natural outbreaks.”

A few years later, after she was nominated to a top post at the Department of Homeland Security, O’Toole was slammed by experts over her excessive lobbying “for a massive biodefense expansion and relaxation of provisions for safety and security.” Rutgers microbiologist Richard Ebright remarked at the time that “she makes Dr. Strangelove look sane.” It was also noted in hearings that O’Toole had worked as a lobbyist for several “life sciences” companies specializing in the sale of biodefense products to the U.S. government, including Emergent Biosolutions – a very controversial company and a key suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The history of the Center for Vaccine Research’s RBL, particularly the network of people who prompted the lab’s creation, raises concerns about the nature of the Corona-thrax experiment currently being conducted within the facility. This is especially true because the researcher conducting the experiment appears to be ignorant about key parts of the research he or she is conducting.

For instance, the FOIA-redacted researcher incorrectly states that a recombinant virus proposed for use in the study is incapable of infecting human cells, while the IBC members note that this is not the case. In addition, the unnamed researcher falsely claimed that one of the viral vectors for use in the investigator’s study did not express Cas9 (a protein associated with CRISPR gene editing) and gRNA (“guide RNA,” also used in CRISPR) and was unaware that handling those agents requires an enhanced BSL-2 lab (BSL-2+) as opposed to a typical BSL-2 lab.

Apparently such errors among researchers involved in Covid-19 research at UPMC is not an anomaly. During another UPMC IBC meeting included in the FOIA release, the IBC noted the following about a separate research proposal:

“In the investigator’s notes in responses to changes requested by the IBC pre-reviewers, the investigator indicates that RNA from SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 infected cells will be obtained from BEI resources. Genomic RNA isolated from cells infected with SARS-CoV-1 is regulated as a Select Agent by the Federal Select Agent Program and neither the University nor this investigator are registered for possession and use of these materials [emphasis added] (SARS-CoV-1). The investigator must NOT obtain SARS-CoV-1 genomic RNA without prior consultation with the University’s RO/AROs for Select Agents.”

This part, in particular, caught the attention of Jonathan Latham, who noted that it was odd that “a university researcher is trying to obtain approval for an experiment which no one at the university is allowed to do.” Latham added in an interview that “apparently this applicant is totally ignorant of the regulatory environment and by extension the risks of SARS-CoV, which is a highly infectious virus whose escape from a lab has already led to at least one death.”

While Latham assumed that this was a “university researcher,” it is worth noting that the use of the UPMC Center for Vaccine Research’s RBL is not exclusive to researchers affiliated with the university. Indeed, as noted on the NIH website, “Investigators in academia, not-for-profit organizations, industry, and government studying biodefense and emerging infectious diseases may request the use of biocontainment laboratories,” including the RBL managed by the Center for Vaccine Research.

In addition, the Center for Vaccine Research website notes that “scientists from outside the University of Pittsburgh can work in the RBL through a collaboration or contract. Outside scientists must comply with all University of Pittsburgh training, documentation, regulatory, and medical requirements.” This means that outside scientists using the facility are also subject to IBC review. Both the NIH and Center for Vaccine Research sites note that, for an outside researcher to use the UPMC RBL facility, approval from the center’s director must be obtained.

Since the name of the Corona-thrax researcher is redacted, there is no way of knowing if he or she is affiliated with the university or a separate institution, corporation, or government agency. Regardless of who is conducting this experiment, however, it is possible to examine the history and motivations of the man who ultimately signed off on it—the Center for Vaccine Research’s director, Paul Duprex.

Paul Duprex: DARPA-Funded Researcher and Gain-of-Function Enthusiast

Director of UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research, W. Paul Duprex

Paul Duprex is a former chief scientist for Johnson & Johnson whose subsequent foray into academia was largely funded with research grants from the NIH and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Much of Duprex’s research has focused on recombinant (i. e., genetically engineered) viruses or viral evolution.

In terms of his research funded by DARPA, Duprex was most closely associated with DARPA’s “Prophecy” program, the creation of which was overseen by Michael Callahan. Callahan’s suspect past and his ties to the origin of the current Covid-19 crisis in Wuhan, China, were the subject of a recent Unlimited Hangout article by Raul Diego.

In that article, Diego notes that the now-defunct Prophecy program had “sought to ‘transform the vaccine and drug development enterprise from observational and reactive to predictive and preemptive’ through algorithmic programming techniques” and that the program further “proposed that ‘viral mutations and outbreaks could be predicted in advance to more rapidly counter the unknown disease with preemptive drug and vaccine development.”

By all indications, Prophecy was DARPA’s first major foray into “predictive” AI-powered health care, which has expanded considerably in the years since. It also involved a component, which Duprex was particularly involved in advancing, whereby the “predictive” viral evolutions algorithms would be “validated and tested . . . by using multiple selective pressures on at least three closely related virus strains in an experimental setting.”

Such experiments, like this study by Duprex, involved the genetic engineering of three viral pathogen strains and then seeing which would become most transmissible and virulent in an animal host. Such studies are often referred to as gain-of-function (GOF) research and are incredibly controversial given that they often create pathogens that are more virulent and/or transmissible than they otherwise would be. It is also worth noting that UPMC, before Duprex joined the center, had also received millions in funding from DARPA’s Prophecy program “to develop in vitro and computational models for predicting viral evolution under selection pressure from multiple evolutionary stressors.”

Duprex has also been involved in conducting research for DARPA’s current INTERfering and Co-Evolving Prevention and Therapy (INTERCEPT) program, a successor to Prophecy that “aims to harness viral evolution to create a novel, adaptive form of medical countermeasure—therapeutic interfering particles (TIPs)—that outcompetes viruses in the body to prevent or treat infection.” TIPs are genetically engineered viruses with defective genomes that theoretically compete with real viruses for viral components in the human body but “evolve with” the viruses they are meant to protect the body against and are “susceptible to mutation over time.”

The goal of the INTERCEPT program is to use TIPs as “therapeutics” and have them injected into the human body to “preemptively” protect against the virus from which a particular TIP was developed. It is worth noting that, while DARPA frames much of its gene-editing research (including its “genetic extinction” technology research) as being aimed at promoting either human or environmental health, it has also openly admitted that these same technologies are of interest to DARPA for their ability to “subvert” the genes of human adversaries of the US military via “genetic weapons.”

Duprex led an INTERCEPT study published in February of this year in which he and his coauthors explored how to create a synthetic TIP of the Nipah virus, a deadly virus with a fatality rate of over 70 percent. In that study, they used both wild and genetically engineered strains of Nipah virus. Notably, the Clade X pandemic simulation, which will be discussed in detail in the next installment of this series, involved a genetically engineered combination of the Nipah virus and a parainfluenza disease.

Clade X took place in 2018 and was led by much of the same team that was responsible for the 2001 Dark Winter bioterrorism simulation, including former FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg and Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby of the UPMC Center for Biosecurity. Another notable participant at Clade X was Julie Gerberding, former CDC director and current executive vice president at Merck, which has close ties to UPMC as well as the Center for Biosecurity’s failed “21st Century Biodefense” project.

A few months after publishing the study funded by DARPA’s INTERCEPT program, Duprex coauthored another study on the use of synthetic “nanobodies” (i. e., bioengineered synthetic nanoparticles acting as antibodies) that was published in August. This effort mirrors other DARPA “health-focused” projects. That study was funded by the University of Pittsburgh, the NIH, and Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

In addition to his ties to DARPA programs involving the genetic engineering of viral pathogens, Duprex is a leading advocate for controversial gain-of-function research and was appointed to direct UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research less than three months after the federal moratorium on GOF research ended.

In October 2014, five days after that moratorium was first imposed, Duprex gave a talk to the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity entitled “Gain-of-Function Studies: Their History, Their Utility, and What They Can Tell Us.” In the talk, he asserted that “cross-species infection studies have already helped to improve surveillance in the field, have shed new light on basic influenza virus biology, and could assist in growing vaccine viruses better” and argues against the recently imposed moratorium.

In 2014, Duprex also wrote in a paper published in Nature that “GOF approaches are absolutely essential in infectious disease research; although alternative approaches can be very useful, these can never replace GOF experiments.” He added that, in his view, there were only two reasons for GOF research, the first being to “improve surveillance or to develop therapeutics” and the second being merely to learn “interesting biology.”

In that same paper, he also argued that “genetic engineering that is intended and likely to endow a low-pathogenicity, low-transmissibility agent with either enhanced pathogenicity or enhanced transmissibility may be appropriate if the benefits are substantial.” He also suggested in this 2014 paper that it “might” be necessary “to enhance pathogenicity of coronaviruses in order to develop a valid animal model for coronaviruses.” Years later, during the current coronavirus crisis, Duprex and other officials from the UPMC’s Center for Vaccine Research co-developed a Covid-19 research and development “blueprint” for the UN’s World Health Organization.

In addition, Duprex’s work for DARPA’s Prophecy program involved GOF research, as noted above, and the creator of that program, Michael Callahan – former head of DARPA’s biodefense therapeutics initiatives, is also a proponent of GOF who believes that such risky research is inseparable from “the research and development enterprise in the life sciences and for biotechnology.”

Duprex is also a founding member of Scientists for Science, a group of researchers (most of whom are involved in GOF research) who opposed the GOF moratorium and were “confident that biomedical research on potentially dangerous pathogens can be performed safely and is essential for a comprehensive understanding of microbial disease pathogenesis, prevention and treatment.” Another of the group’s founding members is Yoshihiro Kawaoka, whose controversial GOF experiments that made pathogenic viruses more deadly have garnered considerable media attention.

When the moratorium on GOF was lifted in December 2017, Duprex called it a “sign of progress,” adding that “on a personal level I’m really pleased these NIH funded scientists [conducting GOF research] get some clarity.” As previously mentioned, he became the Center for Vaccine Research’s director less than three months later, in March 2018.

The “Darkest Winter” Looms

UPMC

After a cursory examination of the background of UPMC, its Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, and the man directing its Center for Vaccine Research, the question about the nature of the Corona-thrax experiment becomes: Is this yet another ill-advised experiment by a lab led by a GOF enthusiast and fueled by a feeding frenzy over the billions of dollars thrown by the government and other entities into Covid-19 research? Or is there perhaps a more nefarious motive to genetically engineering something as bizarre as Corona-thrax?

While the latter question may appear conspiratorial, it is worth pointing out that the institutions most likely to have been the sources for the anthrax used in the 2001 anthrax attacks were conducting GOF research on anthrax funded by the Pentagon and the CIA that was justified as “improving” the controversial anthrax vaccine known as BioThrax.

For instance, Battelle Memorial Institute—a Pentagon and CIA contractor—began genetically engineering a more virulent form of anthrax “to see if the [anthrax] vaccine the United States intends to supply to its armed forces is effective against that strain.” While these experiments were going on, the embattled manufacturer of the anthrax vaccine now known as Emergent Biosolutions, entered into a contract with Battelle that gave Battelle “immediate exposure to the vaccine” it was using in connection with the genetically modified anthrax program.

As noted in Part II of this series, BioPort was set to lose its Pentagon contract for anthrax vaccine entirely in September 2001, and the entirety of its anthrax vaccine business was rescued by the 2001 anthrax attacks, which saw concerns over BioPort’s corruption and its horrendous safety track record replaced with fervent demands for more of its anthrax vaccine. Furthermore, as noted in detail in Part III of this series, Battelle was the most likely source of the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks. The ties between UPMC’s Center for Biosecurity, Battelle, and Emergent Biosolutions will be discussed in the next installment in the series.

What is also notable about these Corona-thrax experiments occurring at UPMC are the ties of UPMC’s RBL and Center for Vaccine Research to another key component of the center’s “biodefense” complex, the UPMC Center for Biosecurity. As previously mentioned, the people recruited to head this center at its founding in 2003 were intimately involved in the 2001 bioterror simulation Dark Winter, namely Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby.

While leading the UPMC’s Center for Biosecurity, O’Toole and/or her successor Inglesby engaged in other notable bioterror simulations, including one that took place last year— Event 201, which eerily predicted the coronavirus crisis that began this year. Inglesby, who is also the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in addition to his post at UPMC, was the moderator at Event 201.

Though Event 201 has garnered considerable scrutiny in recent months, another but less well-known exercise in 2018 that involved O’Toole and Inglesby, examined how a bioterror attack involving a genetically engineered pathogen could trigger a Continuity of Government (CoG) scenario, a government roadmap for the imposition of martial law in the United States. As other investigative series of mine have noted, there have recently been a myriad of intelligence agency–linked simulations that predict the imminent imposition of martial law in the United States following the 2020 election.

It is also notable that George W. Bush’s controversial and classified update to CoG plans in 2007, known as Executive Directive 51, was directly inspired by Dark Winter, and Barack Obama’s subsequent executive orders on CoG gave near-complete control of American infrastructure to the Department of Homeland Security in a such a situation. At the time Obama issued those executive orders, O’Toole was the DHS undersecretary for science and technology and also influenced those updates to the CoG plans. O’Toole is currently the executive vice president of the CIA’s In-Q-tel.

The simulation known as Clade X will be examined in greater detail in the next installment of this series as will the numerous and recent “predictions” from US government sources, controversial billionaires such as Bill Gates, and a web of individuals tied to UPMC who have warned that a bioterror attack or related public health catastrophe is set to take place in the United States in the latter half of 2020. As one high-ranking government official put it earlier this year, this allegedly imminent event will result in “the darkest winter in modern history.”

September 29, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The UN Ignores NGO’s Warnings About Mandated Vaccines

Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc. | August 20, 2020

Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc. is an NGO in Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) New York / Geneva / Vienna / Addis Ababa

Vaccine Mandates Violate the Right to Informed Consent

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared pandemic status for COVID-19, the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Governments responded by implementing unprecedented “lockdown” measures globally with no clear exit strategy apart from the stated goal of rapidly developing a vaccine. Concurrently, advocates of this hypothetical solution have called for lawmakers to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory.

However, compulsory vaccination violates the right to informed consent, one of the most fundamental ethics in medicine and a human right recognized under international law, including the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights of 2005, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol of 2006 and under internationally recognized agreements such as the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects of 2002, and the World Medical Association Declaration Of Helsinki of 1964, revised in 2013.

The United Nations (UN) and WHO are legally obligated to uphold the right to informed consent yet have instead been complicit in violating it.

For example, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) praised the Maldives government for passing a law in November 2019 that effectively outlawed the exercise of the right to informed consent by threatening parents with prosecution for non-compliance with public vaccine policy.

In January 2020, two articles in The BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal ) revealed that the WHO had been sponsoring a malaria vaccine trial that included 720,000 children in three African countries without having ensured that the prior informed consent of the parents had been obtained. Most egregiously, parents had not been informed that earlier trials had found the vaccine to be associated with an increased risk of childhood mortality, particularly among girls.

WHO also promotes the diphtheria, tetanus, and whole-cell pertussis (DTP) vaccine in global vaccination campaigns, despite the best available scientific evidence showing it to be associated with an increased rate of childhood mortality. While the vaccine may protect against the target diseases, it appears to detrimentally affect the immune system in a way that makes children more vulnerable to other diseases. This “non-specific effect” has been found to be true for non-live vaccine generally

WHO is aware of the evidence, but has dismissed it on the grounds that it comes from observational studies, which are prone to selection bias. However, WHO accepts the findings of observational studies showing beneficial non-specific effects of measles vaccination.

Additionally, the members of the WHO committee tasked with reviewing the evidence had conflicts of interest, including three having ties to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the manufacturers of DTP vaccines and the manufacturer of the experimental malaria vaccine.

WHO also receives funding from vaccine manufacturers, including GSK, Sanofi, and Merck. The single largest source of funding for WHO presently is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which promotes vaccines while holding investments in vaccine manufacturers including GSK, Sanofi, and Merck.

The public is repeatedly assured by public health officials and the media that “vaccines are safe and effective”, but in the absence of randomized placebo-controlled trials comparing long-term health outcomes, including mortality, between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, that statement is not justifiable. Vaccines do not undergo such trials before licensing. Nor are whole vaccine schedules studied for safety. With respect to the routine childhood vaccine schedule recommended by the United States of America (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institute of Medicine in 2013 observed that “studies designed to examine the long-term effects of the cumulative number of vaccines or other aspects of the immunization schedule have not been conducted.”

There are many legitimate concerns about vaccines in addition to their non-specific effects. Policymakers do not consider the opportunity costs of vaccination, such as the superiority of immunity acquired naturally compared to that conferred by vaccination.

For example, studies have found that having a flu shot annually could increase the risk of infection with novel influenza strains, as well as with non-influenza viruses, in part due to the lost opportunity to acquire the cross-protective, cell-mediated immunity conferred by infection.

A complementary hypothesis is the phenomenon of “original antigenic sin”, whereby the first experience of the immune system with an antigen determines future responses. Priming the immune system with antigen components of the influenza vaccine could potentially cause a mismatched antibody response to strains that the vaccine is not designed to protect against, thereby increasing the risk of infection as compared to an immune response in which naive T and B cells are instructed to fight off the infecting virus.

This phenomenon might help explain an increased risk of serious dengue infection among Filipino children who received the dengue vaccine and who had not already experienced a prior infection. This finding led the Philippines to the withdrawal of the vaccine, which the government had implemented into its childhood schedule upon the recommendation of WHO, despite earlier data having indicated that the vaccine might cause precisely that outcome.

A related hypothesis is that of “antibody dependent enhancement” (ADE), whereby vaccine-induced antibodies, instead of protecting the individual from subsequent infection, enhance the infection and thereby increase the risk of severe disease.

Attempts to develop a vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS) were impeded by this phenomenon, whereby vaccinated animals were found to be at increased risk of viral infection. This past experience has raised concerns about the potential for ADE with vaccines under development for SARS-CoV-2.

As another example of opportunity cost, surviving measles is associated with a reduced rate of all-cause mortality in children, and this survival benefit appears to more than offset measles deaths in populations with a low mortality rate from acute measles infection.

Additionally, measles infection has been observed to cause regression of cancer in children and has been associated with a decreased risk of numerous diseases later in life, including degenerative bone disease, certain tumours, Parkinson’s disease, allergic disease, chronic lymphoid leukaemia, both non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma, and cardiovascular disease.

Other infections have also been associated with health benefits, such as a reduced risk of leukaemia among children who experience Haemophilus influenzae type b infection during early childhood.

There is also the potential for mass vaccination to put evolutionary pressure on pathogens, as has been seen with the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, and the emergence of pertussis strains lacking pertactin, a key antigen component of the vaccine. According to CDC, such strains “may have a selective advantage in infecting DTaPvaccinated persons.”

Population effects of vaccination must be considered in addition to their effects on individuals. Data suggest that the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine has not been cost-effective but has rather increased health care costs due to the inferiority of vaccine-conferred immunity. This is because mass vaccination appears to have shifted the risk burden away from children, in whom it is generally a benign illness, and onto adolescents and adults, who are at greater risk of complications. Due to the loss of immunologic boosting from repeated exposures, elderly people who had chicken pox as children are at greater risk of shingles. But rather than reconsider existing recommendations, policymakers respond to this problem by recommending a shingles vaccine for the elderly

In the US, many parents are concerned that manufacturers of vaccines recommended by CDC for routine use in childhood enjoy legal immunity from injury lawsuits because this represents a disincentive to pharmaceutical companies in terms of developing safer and more effective means of disease prevention. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) of the US government effectively shifts the financial burden for vaccine injuries away from the industry and onto taxpaying consumers.

Another major problem is that policymakers treat vaccination as a one-size-fits-all solution to disease prevention, when the science is unequivocal in establishing that a risk-benefit analysis must be carried out for each vaccine and each individual. Not everyone is at the same risk from the target disease, and not everyone is at the same risk of harm from the vaccine.

For example, children with a mitochondrial disorder may be at increased risk of vaccine injury. In one case adjudicated under the VICP, the US government acknowledged that vaccinations can cause brain damage manifesting as symptoms of autism.

In a 2018 interview, the director of the CDC Immunization Safety Office acknowledged the possibility that vaccines could cause autism in genetically susceptible children but stated that it was “hard to predict who those children might be.”

Legislators do not have the specialized knowledge required to conduct the necessary risk/benefit analysis of the individual. Only the individual, or in the case of a child, the parents, possess that knowledge.

All vaccines carry risks. Compulsory vaccination constitutes a gross violation of the right to informed consent. Governments urgently need to orient health policies towards protecting rather than violating this human right.


Download original report here…

 

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Peruvian president wins impeachment process, but opposition grows

By Lucas Leiroz | September 28, 2020

The political crisis in Peru is far from over. Despite the fact that President Martín Vizcarra won the first stage of his dispute against the Congress mainly formed by Fujimori’s supporters, the expectation is that his opponents will continue to try to overthrow him through an institutional coup that “respects” the limits of “legality” and “democracy”.

In September 2019, Vizcarra resorted to the Constitution to legitimately dissolve the National Congress, after a series of clashes between the Legislative and the Executive, with parliamentarians denying cooperation with the government in a boycott gesture. In response, Congress intensified its opposition to the government and, even though suspended, illegally “deposed” President Vizcarra, recognizing his former vice president, Mercedez Araóz, as the country’s leader. For one day, Peru had two presidents – similar to the Venezuelan case: one legitimate and one artificially chosen by the opposition. However, Araóz resigned the next day.

Martín Vizcarra was elected in 2018 with a speech based on “fighting corruption”, as it could not be otherwise: Peru was one of the countries most affected by the “Operation Car Wash “, which started in Brazil and spread to several countries in Latin America, dismembering billion-dollar corruption schemes between governments and private companies. In Peru, four former presidents were investigated in the Operation and the leader of the largest congressional party, Keiko Fujimori, was arrested. Keiko is the daughter of Alberto Fujimori, a former president who ruled the country for ten years. She, under her father’s command, leads the opposition against Vizcarra and has a majority of supporters in the Congress. In July last year, Vizcarra asked Congress to vote on a legal reform to change the process of choosing judges for the Constitutional Court. But, instead of carrying out the reform, parliamentarians chose the judges themselves, which is why Vizcarra chose to close the Congress.

Thus began the conflict between the Executive and the Legislative, which has remained since then. Opponents recently launched an impeachment process against Vizcarra alleging his “moral inability” to exercise the position of president. The reason for such “moral incapacity” would be an alleged irregular hiring made by the president for the Ministry of Culture, a topic of ​​extremely low political relevance for the country. But the reforms carried out by Vizcarra partially reversed the scenario in Congress after its restoration, increasing the number of parliamentarians who support the President (his supporters are still a minority, though). Thus the impeachment request was rejected this September.

The head of state denounced that the impeachment request is part of a plot against him, planned by sectors of Congress that wish to take control of the country. Such sectors are said to be reminiscent of opponents who led Vizcarra to close Congress last year and have the support of a large political wing outside the legislative branch. The party with the greatest influence in Congress is still the “Fuerza Popular” of Alberto Fujimori and his daughter, who is now back in politics.

Keiko Fujimori is the main name of the opposition at the moment. Prosecuted for integrating the corruption schemes investigated by Operation Car Wash, Keiko has been arrested twice in recent years and is currently under house arrest, which is not preventing her from acting politically. Days ago, the daughter of the former dictator (who is also in prison), announced in her account on a social network that she is back to politics in a “100% active” way and “under her father’s command”. Apparently, Keiko intends to run for the 2021 elections – if she is no longer under judicial penalty – or at least to support some strong opposition candidate. This will inevitably increase internal tensions and the political crisis until next year’s elections, considering that Keiko Fujimori is president of Fuerza Popular, which is the country’s strongest party.

The scenario is worrying for Vizcarra from all points of view. Despite increasing the number of his supporters in Congress, Fujimori’s party is still the strongest one and could mobilize parliamentarians to overthrow him if the reason for the impeachment request was a stronger accusation than mere “moral incapacity”. And, with the recent history of Latin America, we can see that events like this have occurred with great frequency. In 2016, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was overthrown in an impeachment process without any material evidence of her crimes being presented. Also, last year Bolivian President Evo Morales was the victim of an explicit coup d’état orchestrated by the opposition, which led to the presidency the then vice-president of the Senate, Jenine Áñez, who still leads the country. In fact, the fragility of the legal and democratic structure of the Latin countries is immense, since these countries are going through a moment of special political crisis, possibly influenced by external factors and agents.

Vizcarra’s victory does not have real political relevance, in practice, as the Peruvian president has not been strengthened with it. Most Likely, there will be more pressure and the opposition trying to get him out of office even though the elections are only six months away.

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

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

US Accuses Its Own Informant in Venezuela Case of Lying to Feds

teleSUR – September 26, 2020

United States federal law enforcement has accused a key informant on the trumped up case targeting Venezuela’s Minister Tareck El Aissami of lying and stealing US $140,000.

The Associated Press reports that Venezuelan-born businessman and pilot Alejandro Marin was arrested on September 19th in Miami on three counts of knowingly making false statements to U.S. federal agents, according to court filings.

Marin operates a chartered flight business out of Miami’s Opa Locka executive airport and conspired in the plot against Vice President El Aissami, utilizing his business.

The government of Venezuela has said that the years-long persecution of Minister Tareck El Aissami, like the recent charges against President Nicolas Maduro, are part of a permanent destabilization campaign against top officials of the Bolivarian government.

AP’s Joshua Goodman reports that in coordination with US authorities, Marin had transported millions of dollars on private jets, in violation of US-imposed unilateral coercive measures.

The US $140,000 is said to have gone missing during a US-directed operation in July 2018. Federal public defender Christian Dunham, who is representing Marin, says his client is expected to appear in court on September 30th for a pre-trial detention hearing.

According to the arrest order, the stolen funds were deposited to an account controlled by Marin over two years ago.

The US government has tried various hands hoping to generate the evidence to forge a case and a narrative of criminality within the Venezuelan government.

With the mainstream media on side with Washington, the case against President Nicolas Maduro and officials, in which a US $15 million bounty was placed by the Justice Department in March, remains dubious at best as new information regarding the corrupt and criminal nature of the Venezuelan opposition aligned with Juan Guaido comes to light.

September 27, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | | Leave a comment

I’ve lost all trust in medical research – the financial muscle of Big Pharma has been busy distorting science during the pandemic

By Malcolm Kendrick | RT | July 4, 2020

Evidence that a cheap, over-the-counter anti-malarial drug costing £7 combats Covid-19 gets trashed. Why? Because the pharmaceutical giants want to sell you a treatment costing nearly £2,000. It’s criminal.

A few years ago, I wrote a book called ‘Doctoring Data’. This was an attempt to help people understand the background to the tidal wave of medical information that crashes over us each and every day. Information that is often completely contradictory, viz ‘Coffee is good for you… no, wait it’s bad for you… no, wait, it’s good for you again,’ repeated ad nauseam.

I also pointed out some of the tricks, games and manipulations that are used to make medications seem far more effective than they truly are, or vice versa. This, I have to say, can be a very dispiriting world to enter. When I give talks on this subject, I often start with a few quotes.

For example, here is Dr Marcia Angell, who edited the New England Journal of Medicine for over 20 years, writing in 2009:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as editor.”

Have things got better? No, I believe they’ve got worse – if that were, indeed, possible. I was recently sent the following email about a closed-door, no-recording-allowed discussion, held in May of this year under no-disclosure Chatham House rules:

“A secretly recorded meeting between the editors-in-chief of The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine reveal both men bemoaning the ‘criminal’ influence big pharma has on scientific research. According to Philippe Douste-Blazy, France’s former health minister and 2017 candidate for WHO director, the leaked 2020 Chatham House closed-door discussion was between the [editor-in-chiefs], whose publications both retracted papers favorable to big pharma over fraudulent data.

The email continued with a quote from that recording: ‘Now we are not going to be able to … publish any more clinical research data because the pharmaceutical companies are so financially powerful today, and are able to use such methodologies, as to have us accept papers which are apparently methodologically perfect, but which, in reality, manage to conclude what they want them to conclude,’ said The Lancet’s editor-in-chief, Richard Horton.”

A YouTube video where this issue is discussed can be found here. It’s in French, but there are English subtitles.

The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet are the two most influential, most highly resourced medical journals in the world. If they no longer have the ability to detect what is essentially fraudulent research, then… Then what? Then what, indeed?

In fact, things have generally taken a sharp turn for the worse since the Covid-19 pandemic struck. New studies, new data, new information is arriving at breakneck speed, often with little or no effective review. What can you believe? Who can you believe? Almost nothing would be the safest course of action.

One issue has played out over the past few months, stripping away any remaining vestiges of my trust in medical research. It concerns the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. You may well be aware that Donald Trump endorsed it – which presents a whole series of problems for many people.

However, before the pandemic hit, I was recommending to my local NHS trust that we should look to stock up on hydroxychloroquine. There had been a great deal of research over the years strongly suggesting it could inhibit the entry of viruses into cells, and that it also interfered with viral replication once inside the cell.

This mechanism of action explains why it can help stop the malaria parasite from gaining entry into red blood cells. The science is complex, but many researchers felt there was good reason for thinking hydroxychloroquine may have some real, if not earth-shattering, benefits in Covid-19.

This idea was further reinforced by the knowledge that it has some effects on reducing the so-called ‘cytokine storm’ that is considered deadly with Covid-19. It’s prescribed in rheumatoid arthritis to reduce the immune attack on joints.

The other reason for recommending hydroxychloroquine is that it’s extremely safe. It is, for example, the most widely prescribed drug in India. Billions upon billions of doses have been prescribed. It is available over the counter in most countries. So, I felt pretty comfortable in recommending that it could be tried. At worst, no harm would be done.

Then hydroxychloroquine became the center of a worldwide storm. On one side, wearing the white hats, were the researchers who’d used it early on, where it seemed to show some significant benefits. For example, Professor Didier Raoult, of the Institut Hospitalo-universitaire Méditerranée Infection, in France:

“A renowned research professor in France has reported successful results from a new treatment for Covid-19, with early tests suggesting it can stop the virus from being contagious in just six days.”

Then came this research from a Moroccan scientist at the University of Lille:

“Jaouad Zemmouri … believes that 78 percent of Europe’s Covid-19 deaths could have been prevented if Europe had used hydroxychloroquine… Morocco, with a population of 36 million [roughly one tenth that of the US], has only 10,079 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and only 214 deaths.

“Professor Zemmouri believes that Morocco’s use of hydroxychloroquine has resulted in an 82.5 percent recovery rate from Covid-19 and only a 2.1 percent fatality rate, in those admitted to hospital.”

Just prior to this, on May 22, a study was published in The Lancet, stating that hydroxychloroquine actually increased deaths. It then turned out that the data used could not be verified and was most likely made up. The authors had major conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies making anti-viral drugs. In early June, the entire article was retracted by Horton.

Then a UK study came out suggesting that hydroxychloroquine did not work at all. Discussing the results, Professor Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial, stated:

“This is not a treatment for Covid-19. It doesn’t work. This result should change medical practice worldwide. We can now stop using a drug that is useless.”

The study has since been heavily criticized by other researchers, who state that the dose of hydroxychloroquine used was potentially toxic. It was also given far too late to have any positive effect. Many of the patients were already on ventilators.

This week, I was sent a pre-proof copy of an article about a study that will be published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. Its author has found that hydroxychloroquine “significantly” decreased the death rate of patients involved in the analysis. The study analyzed 2,541 patients hospitalized in six hospitals between March 10 and May 2 2020, and found 13 percent of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died and 26 percent of those who did not receive the drug died.

When things get this messed up, I tend to look for the potential conflicts of interest. By which I mean, who stands to make money from slamming the use of hydroxychloroquine, which is a generic drug that’s been around since 1934 and costs about £7 for a bottle of 60 tablets?

In this case, first, it’s those companies who make the hugely expensive antiviral drugs such as Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir, which, in the US, costs $2,340 for a typical five-day course. Second, it’s the companies that are striving to get a vaccine to market. There are billions and billions of dollars at stake here.

In this world, cheap drugs such as hydroxychloroquine don’t stand much chance. Neither do cheap vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin D. Do they have benefits for Covid-19 sufferers? I’m sure they do. Will such benefits be dismissed in studies that have been carefully manipulated to ensure they don’t work? Of course. Remember these words: “Pharmaceutical companies are so financially powerful today, and are able to use such methodologies, as to have us accept papers which are apparently methodologically perfect, but which, in reality, manage to conclude what they want them to conclude.” 

Unless and until governments and medical bodies act decisively to permanently sever the financial ties between researchers and Big Pharma, these distortions and manipulations in the pursuit of Big Profit will continue. Just please  don’t hold your breath in anticipation.

Malcolm Kendrick is a doctor and author who works as a GP in the National Health Service in England. His blog can be read here and his book, ‘Doctoring Data – How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense,’ is available here.

September 26, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Hunter Biden’s conflict of interest silenced by ‘fake mainstream media’, but Trump’s own people are in on cover-up

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | September 25, 2020

While US President Donald Trump is correct that mainstream media outlets are duplicitously dismissing revelations about Joe and Hunter Biden, what about his own Treasury and intelligence community going full Russiagate?

Joe Biden should “leave the campaign” because he “knew everything” about his son Hunter’s shady business dealings overseas, Trump said on Thursday in an exclusive interview with Fox News Radio. He was referring to the 87-page report, published Wednesday by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Finance Committees, which looked into Hunter Biden’s business dealings while his father was Barack Obama’s VP.

“I look at Hunter Biden today, where he stole millions of dollars, stole millions,” Trump told Brian Kilmeade, adding that “his father was in on it.” The “corrupt” Biden “knew his son was getting all this money from China, from Ukraine and other places,” Trump said.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump pointed out that Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire from a Russian billionaire. That would be Elena Baturina, the richest woman in Russia, and widow of the former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. The report says she sent Biden’s company Rosemont Seneca Thornton the wire transfer for unspecified consulting services in February 2014, citing confidential documents.

Trump is clearly infuriated that both Biden and the media are shrugging the whole story off, given the insane amount of scrutiny he has been subjected to since 2016 for alleged – but never substantiated – “Russian ties.” His campaign was even spied on, before and after the election, on the basis of a salacious “dossier” fabricated by a British spy working for the Democrats.

By contrast, Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma is well-documented, and Joe Biden was filmed boasting about getting an Ukrainian prosecutor fired – but to Democrats and the media, it’s a “conspiracy theory,” which they even tried to use to impeach Trump back in December.

To the surprise of precisely no one, the very same outlets pushing ‘Russiagate’ for years now scurried to spin the Biden report. Hunter’s Burisma job was “problematic” but the report “doesn’t show it changed US policy,” is how the Washington Post put it. The Daily Beast called the report a “hatchet job” and “politically motivated.” The New York Times said the report “Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing” and “appeared to be little more than a rehashing of unproven allegations that echoed a Russian disinformation campaign.” And so on, and so forth.

Even Fox, which aired Kilmeade’s show where Trump made the comments, made sure to extensively quote Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates, who called the report “a foreign attack against the sovereignty of our elections with taxpayer dollars – an attack founded on a long-disproven, hardcore rightwing conspiracy theory.”

While Trump is not wrong to argue he’s running not just against Biden and the Democrats, but the entire mainstream media backing them – much like in 2016 – there’s just one tiny glitch with that line of reasoning: his own administration is backing up the Democrats’ narrative!

First there was William Evanina, the ODNI official appointed to oversee all election intelligence briefings by acting DNI Richard Grenell, Trump’s trusted envoy. Evanina told Congress in August that “Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment.’”

Later that month, Trump’s primary rival and now supposed ally Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) signed off on a “bipartisan” Senate Intelligence report that was a rehash of every single discredited “Russiagate” talking point the committee’s real chair Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) could cram in there. The media had a field day with that one.

Then, on September 10, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – one of his original cabinet picks – sanctioned Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach, a major source for the Senate Republicans’ report, as a “Russian agent.”

It was Mnuchin, not the media or the Democrats, who described Derkach’s publication of alleged phone calls between Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as “foreign interference in an attempt to undermine” the upcoming presidential elections. The recordings promoted “false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning US officials… with the intent to discredit” Biden, he added. None of this was actually substantiated, mind you, but US sanctions by definition don’t need to be.

So when Trump argues that the US mainstream media sides with the Democrats and cares about “Russian ties” only when they can be – and have been – weaponized against him, he definitely has a point. Yet when it comes to Mnuchin and Rubio siding with that narrative against him, he’s as silent as Joe Biden on the issue of Hunter. Seems like in post-facts America, the swamp drains you.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

September 25, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 1 Comment

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Under Federal Probe for Campaign Fund Theft

Former Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen speaks with EFE during an interview in Miami, Florida. November 2, 2018.

teleSUR | September 25, 2020

According to a Miami CBS affiliate, several one-time staffers have been subpoenaed to provide records or testify before a grand jury on Ros-Lehtinen’s alleged misuse of campaign funds for personal expenses, vacations, and ornate meals—part of an investigation by the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section.

Announcing in April 2017 she would not be seeking re-election in 2018, Ros-Lehtinen transferred almost $180,000 from her re-election campaign fund to a political action committee (PAC) she ran, not an unusual move. However, personal use of these funds is illegal under federal law, even if transferred first to a PAC.

Expense reports from the PAC show Ros-Lehtinen indulged in a nearly $4,000 family trip to Walt Disney World in December 2017, a $3,100 dinner at Coral Gables restaurant Mesa Mar for New Years 2018, more than $10,000 in rooms at New York’s Lotte New York Palace and $28,000 at the W Hotel on South Beach, among many other expenditures.

Nonpartisan watchdog group Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint against Ros-Lehtinen with the FEC in October 2019, claiming her PAC violated federal law by “converting contributions for personal use…none of which have any apparent connections to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen candidacy or duties as an officeholder.” It remains unclear if the FEC referred the case to the DOJ or whether the DOJ began its own investigation independently.

In a statement to CBS Miami, Ros-Lehtinen’s attorney Jeffrey Weiner said: “She and her former staff members and volunteers are cooperating fully with the Federal Elections Commission and the Department of Justice. We are gathering the information requested by the Department of Justice and are confident that, if bookkeeping errors were committed, they were due to negligence and not willful or intentional misconduct by the former congresswoman or anyone on her staff or her accountants.”

Weiner added: “As my team and I have investigated and studied the facts in this matter, we have not found any evidence whatsoever of intentional wrongdoing by Ileana or anyone on her behalf.”

Ros-Lehtinen, who represented Miami-Dade county from 1989-2019 and was the first Latina and Cuban-American elected to Congress, served as the Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee from 2011-2013, widely known her punitive and interventionist positions towards Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

September 25, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | 1 Comment

The Criminal Prosecution of Boeing Executives Should Begin

Mish Talk | September 18, 2020

Damning details of purposeful malfeasance by Boeing executives emerged in a Congressional investigation.

FAA, Boeing Blasted Over 737 MAX Failures

On Wednesday, the Transportation Committee Blasted FAA, Boeing Over 737 MAX Failures

The 238-page document, written by the majority staff of the House Transportation Committee, calls into question whether the plane maker or the Federal Aviation Administration has fully incorporated essential safety lessons, despite a global grounding of the MAX fleet since March 2019.

After an 18-month investigation, the report, released Wednesday, concludes that Boeing’s travails stemmed partly from a reluctance to admit mistakes and “point to a company culture that is in serious need of a safety reset.”

The report provides more specifics, in sometimes-blistering language, backing up preliminary findings the panel’s Democrats released six months ago, which laid out a pattern of mistakes and missed opportunities to correct them.

In one section, the Democrats’ report faults Boeing for what it calls “inconceivable and inexcusable” actions to withhold crucial information from airlines about one cockpit-warning system, related to but not part of MCAS, that didn’t operate as required on 80% of MAX jets. Other portions highlight instances when Boeing officials, acting in their capacity as designated FAA representatives, part of a widely used system of delegating oversight authority to company employees, failed to alert agency managers about various safety matters.

Boeing Purposely Hid Design Flaws

The Financial Times has an even more damning take in its report Boeing Hid Design Flaws in Max Jets from Pilots and Regulators.

Boeing concealed from regulators internal test data showing that if a pilot took longer than 10 seconds to recognise that the system had kicked in erroneously, the consequences would be “catastrophic”.

The report also detailed how an alert, which would have warned pilots of a potential problem with one of their anti-stall sensors, was not working on the vast majority of the Max fleet. It found that the company deliberately concealed this fact from both pilots and regulators as it continued to roll out the new aircraft around the world.

In Bed With the Regulators

Boeing’s defense is the FAA signed off on the reviews.

Lovely. Boeing coerced or bribed the FAA to sign off on the reviews now tries to hide behind the FAA.

 Only One Way to Stop This

There is only one way to stop executive criminals like those at Boeing.

Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them to prison for life, then take all of their stock and options and hand the money out for restitution.

September 20, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | 1 Comment

Discrediting the Russian Vaccine: The Small Shady Deal of Big Politics

By Irina Alksnis – Sputnik – 17.09.2020

For the West, Russia’s leadership in the creation of a vaccine against the coronavirus has become not just an unpleasant surprise, but a shocking call-out, not only politically but financially as well.

On the one hand, ‘backward, deeply undemocratic Russia’ simply lacks the right to carry out such breakthroughs in complex scientific and technologically advanced fields. On the other, there is a jackpot at stake so astronomical in size that the mere idea that it might elude Western pharmaceutical giants is cause for heartburn. For example, think of what the news of an agreement between Moscow and Delhi on the supply of a hundred million doses of Sputnik-V to India alone is worth.

It’s not surprising that Russia has faced numerous attempts to discredit the results of the work of its scientists: big politics means big money.

However, next to the sharks one will always find sucker fish, who regularly get a snack from their masters’ dinner. That’s exactly what happened when the results of Sputnik-V testing were announced by The Lancet, one of the oldest and most prestigious medical journals in the world.

The article was torn apart by critics with lighting speed. The ‘loudest’ of these criticisms spread by world media was the open letter by Enrico Bucci, a biology professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, who expressed fears about the mistakes ‘possibly made by Russian researchers’. Bucci’s letter received the support of over two dozen other Western scientists.

The Lancet invited the developers of Sputnik-V to answer the questions they had, and this was done. The Gamaleya Center presented the publication with the full-length clinical protocol of its study of the Sputnik-V vaccine.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, published a column in which he commented in detail on the main claims made by critics, while at the same time urging them to look out for the ‘plank in their own eyes’, and dispelling any doubts inside Russia itself about the ongoing developments.

Meanwhile, the problem in this case is not only a purely scientific one, on which the Russian researchers have focused.

The fact is that Dr. Bucci is himself a rather remarkable person. The BBC’s Russian service calls him a “famous fighter against pseudoscience”. However, it would be more appropriate to describe him as a “businessman representing science.”

In 2016, Bucci founded Resis Srl, a company specialising in the verification, fact-checking and validation of scientific papers. This is a trendy topic in modern science. Too often in recent years, researchers have been caught making mistakes, including major ones, in articles they’ve published. And it’s not necessarily a matter of abuses or fraud. Often it’s a matter of honest mistakes, which, when exposed, nevertheless affect the reputation of scientists and even entire scientific institutions.

It is precisely to avoid such problems that authors and research institutions often turn to firms like Bucci’s to carry out an independent audit of their texts before publication. For example, Bucci’s company was hired for this purpose by Germany’s Fritz Lipmann Institute, which was impacted by a major scandal some time back due to crude mistakes in its published materials. A detailed article on that scandal appeared in Nature in late 2019.

The subtle point worth noting here is that businesses like Bucci’s are obliged to follow certain ethical restrictions, something the professor knows perfectly well. In an article appearing in Nature in December 2019 which he coauthored, which is dedicated to integrity and conscientiousness in published work, it was honestly pointed out that people like Bucci have a conflict of interest. Simply put, when an owner of a commercial company speaks publicly about the activity in which he specialises, it essentially becomes an advertisement for his firm.

Of course, when it comes to ‘discrediting’ the Russian vaccine, such trifles are no longer important. Western countries used Bucci’s open (and by definition self-promoting) letter to ‘strike another blow against’ Russian scientists in the hopes of undermining or at least temporarily weakening their leading position. Meanwhile, the professor himself has received free PR of a scale and magnitude that he could not have even dreamed about under any other circumstances. This is called “riding the wave of hype”, and is a principle according to which hundreds of thousands of media personalities operate.

There’s no doubt that doing so will pay off for Bucci in the form of very attractive new commercial contracts. Catching hype in the troubled waters of big politics can be very profitable. But this has nothing to do with science generally, or medicine in particular, or the saving of hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | Leave a comment

New initiative to expose Kosovo Liberation Army crimes to the world

By Paul Antonopoulos | September 15, 2020

Veterans from the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) terrorist organization feel confident that because they were once supported and backed by the US and Western Europe in their campaign to violently separate Kosovo from Serbia, they are immune from prosecution and believe that their crimes can remain hidden. However, Milovan Drecun, the president of the Working Group of the Assembly Committee for Kosovo and Metohija, will soon launch a drive aimed at international audiences to highlight the brutal crimes committed by the KLA during the Kosovo War of 1998-1999, and have those responsible prosecuted.

Drecun, a Member of the Serbian Parliament since 2012 for the Serbian Progressive Party, has been collecting facts and evidence with the working group to shed light on crimes against not only the Serbian minority in Kosovo, but also against other national communities like the Roma, Gorani (Slavic Muslims in southern Kosovo) and Bosnian Muslims. He also refutes allegations made by the Secretary of the Association of KLA War Veterans, Faton Klinaku, that the facts and evidence collected were from interviews conducted in Serbia under pressure and from threats of death.

“First, the representatives of that association are lying when they talk about the manner of questioning witnesses. Our authorities can mediate in establishing contact with our citizens with whom the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office wants to talk,” said Drecun.

Statements are taken by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, and that is a major inconsistency in the claims made by the KLA veterans association. The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office was formed on the basis of law adopted by the Pristina Parliament. Drecun highlights that his group do not hide that they “have an extremely important database and documents” and “have the names of potential witnesses for crimes committed by the criminal KLA.”

Authorities in Serbia meticulously collected all data on crimes committed during and after the 1998-1999 conflict. The findings were made available to the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office to try and establish the truth about criminal allegations and to punish perpetrators if found guilty.

“However, we now have a completely different situation here, where terrorists from the criminal KLA are trying to hide the truth and compromise the evidence available to Serbia. We have never hidden our cooperation with the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office,” said the Serbian MP.

The Republic of Albania, for example, knows a lot about KLA crimes, not only against Serbs, but also against Albanians. Drecun’s Working Group has made available the data that the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office was interested in, and if there are lawsuits, they will be verified and accepted as evidence in court.

“We will present all the documentation at our disposal, and I will present a lot of things to the entire international public through the Working Group, because we will launch an international campaign to show the extent of the criminal activities of the terrorist KLA,” Drecun announced.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić was due to meet Kosovo leader Hashim Thaçi in June for a historic meeting at the White House at the behest of US envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell. However, this meeting ended before it could even begin as Thaçi became indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity for actions he allegedly undertook during the Kosovo War.

Thaçi in 1993 became a prominent member of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA) and became responsible for the finances and armaments of the terrorist organization. The KLA financed its activities by turning Kosovo into a drug smuggling hub to distribute heroin and cocaine throughout Europe.

A 2008 report by German intelligence service BND accuses Thaçi of having deep involvement in organized crime, saying that “The key players (including Thaçi) are intimately involved in inter-linkages between politics, business, and organised crime structures in Kosovo,” and that Thaçi is leading a “criminal network operating throughout Kosovo.” The charges laid against him by the prosecutor’s office in the Hague include murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture. He has also been accused of organ harvesting and drug trafficking by other reports and institutions.

Thaçi has not been found guilty yet, but it is well established that the KLA engaged in such activities under the watchful eye of NATO who were satisfied to allow such a prevalence of criminality to occur in order to weaken Serbia, which especially in this period, was extremely pro-Russia. However, by ignoring such illicit activities, Kosovo has become a cemented crime hub of Europe that is now difficult to control as Western Europe continues to be flooded with narcotics and human trafficking.

Although the Working Group has ambitions to broadcast internationally the crimes of the KLA, it is likely that their finding will be ignored by the Western press. This is not only to cover their own embarrassment for supporting a drug trafficking terrorist organization, but also because Yugoslavia has already been dismantled and Kosovo is no longer a top priority for the West, even when considering the recent Belgrade-Pristina economic deal made in the US just days ago.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst .

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

US sanctions Ukrainian lawmaker who published Biden-Poroshenko tapes for ‘Russian influence’ in presidential election

RT | September 10, 2020

Ukrainian parliamentarian Andrii Derkach has been sanctioned by the US, and his publication of alleged phone calls between the Ukrainian president and the US vice president declared ‘Russian interference’ in the US election.

Derkach “has been an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services,” the US Treasury Department declared on Thursday, sanctioning the member of parliament for “foreign interference in an attempt to undermine” the upcoming presidential elections. In addition, three alleged employees of the Internet Research Agency, also referred to as the St. Petersburg ‘troll factory,’ were placed on the sanctions list.

The move against “four Kremlin-linked officials” was hailed by the State Department as “a clear signal that the United States will not tolerate interference or influence” in the upcoming vote.

No evidence was offered for the allegation that either Derkach, or the IRA trio – identified as Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev and Darya Aslanova – were actually in any way connected to the Russian government.

Instead, the Treasury claimed that Derkach had “waged a covert influence campaign centered on cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning US officials.” Between May and July this year, he released “edited audio tapes and other unsupported information with the intent to discredit” US officials, they allege.

Derkach released several hours worth of audio tapes purporting to be conversations between former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and former US Vice President Joe Biden from 2014-2016, including references to investigations of the gas company Burisma, which had given Biden’s son Hunter a lavishly compensated seat on its board.

Poroshenko has denounced the revelations as “fabrications” and “part of a large-scale hybrid war” by Russia, and it appears the US Treasury has taken his word at face value. There was no indication any of Derkach’s claims, the tapes, or the documents he offered to the press have been investigated; instead, the Treasury simply asserts that everything he said was “unsubstantiated.”

Similarly, Derkach’s “reliance on US platforms” is taken as proof that he “almost certainly targeted the US voting populace, prominent US persons, and members of the US government.”

The Treasury’s explanation of why Derkach was sanctioned basically claims that any effort to investigate Biden – now the Democratic presidential nominee – or his son amounts to “interference” in US elections, which was the main premise of the Democrat-led effort to impeach President Donald Trump back in September 2019.

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Israel Funds America’s Israel Lobby, While U.S. Taxpayers Pay for Endless Fraud Against Themselves

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 10, 2020

Imagine for a moment that there is a foreign government that receives billions of dollars a year in “aid” and other benefits from the United States taxpayer. Consider beyond that, the possibility that that government might take part of the money it receives and secretly recycle it to groups of American citizens in the United States that exist to maintain and increase that money flow while also otherwise serving other interests of the recipient country. That would mean that the United States is itself subsidizing the lobbies and groups that are inevitably working against its own interests. And it also means that U.S. citizens are acting as foreign agents, covertly giving priority to their attachment to a foreign country instead of to the nation in which they live.

I am, of course, referring to Israel. It does not require a brilliant observer to note how Israel and its allies inside the U.S. have become very skilled at milking the government in the United States at all levels for every bit of financial aid, trade concessions, military hardware and political cover that is possible to obtain. The flow of dollars, goods, and protection is never actually debated in any serious way and is often, in fact, negotiated directly by Congress or state legislatures directly with the Israeli lobbyists. This corruption and manipulation of the U.S. governmental system by people who are basically foreign agents is something like a criminal enterprise and one can only imagine the screams of outrage coming from the New York Times if there were a similar arrangement with any other country.

The latest revelation about Israel’s cheating involves subsidies that were paid covertly by Israeli government agencies to groups in the United States which in turn took direction from the Jewish state, often inter alia damaging genuine American interests. The groups involved failed to disclose the payments, which is a felony. They also failed to register under the terms of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, which mandates penalties for groups and individuals acting on behalf of foreign governments. In particular, FARA mandates that the finances and relationships of the foreign affiliated organization be open to Department of the Justice inspection. It states that “any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or otherwise acts at the order, request, or under the direction or control of a foreign principal.” Those who fail to disclose might be penalized by up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

Israel’s various friends and proxies, uniquely, have been de facto exempt from any regulation by the U.S. government. The last serious attempt to register a major lobbying entity was made by John F. Kennedy, who sought to have the predecessor organization to today’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) comply with FARA. Kennedy was killed before he could complete the process.

To be sure, the U.S. government has recently been aggressive in demanding FARA registration for other nations as well as for Americans working for foreign powers. There have been several prominent FARA cases in the news. Major Russian news agencies operating in the U.S. were compelled to register in 2017 because they were funded largely or in part by the Kremlin. Also, as part of their plea deals, the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn both conceded that they had failed to comply with FARA when working as consultants with foreign governments.

A leading recipient of the Israeli government’s largesse has been the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF), which has a presence in 43 countries worldwide, though it is registered in the U.S. as a non-profit. It received a grant of $100,000 from Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry in 2019, part of the $6.6 million that was doled out to eleven American organizations in 2018-9. Israel Allies particularly uses Lawfare to target the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has a large and growing presence on university campuses. Effective lobbying by IAF in the U.S. has resulted in more than half of all states passing legislation that bans or limits the BDS activity while legislation that would criminalize organizations working against Israel has also been moving through congress. IAF has been directly involved in drafting such legislation and has more recently been pushing for new laws that would legally define criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism.

The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs initially, in 2015-7, tried to give money openly to diaspora organizations but found that many American Jewish groups, to their credit, would not take it due to concerns over FARA and being accused of “dual loyalty.” So, the Ministry created an ostensibly non-government “public benefit company” cut-out to distribute the cash in a more secretive fashion. The mechanism was given the operational name Concert.

Concert’s sole purpose was to provide money to diaspora advocacy groups that would work primarily against BDS and other efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Concert had an independent board, but its activity of directed by the Strategic Affairs Ministry’s director-general.

Concert’s internal documents are predictably vague in describing the activities that it was funding, and one might assume that they are purposely misleading. They refer to “defensive and offensive” actions, on “corporate responsibility,” “the digital battlefield,” and regarding “amplification units” that would provide “support for organizations in a pro-Israeli network.” The intention was to improve Israel’s image due to the widespread and completely accurate perception that its human rights record is among the worst in the world. Concert was created to serve as a mechanism to be exploited where situations prevailed that “require an ‘outside the government’ discussion with the different target audiences… [and] provide a rapid and coordinated response against the attempts to tarnish the image of Israel around the world.”

Interestingly, one of the most recognizable recipients of Concert funds was Christians United for Israel (CUFI), America’s largest pro-Israel group, which received nearly $1.3 million in February 2019 to pay for several 10 week-long “pilgrimages” to the Holy Land. Each pilgrimage involved thirty “influential Christian clerics from the U.S.” who were clearly propagandized while they were in the Middle East. Other large disbursements went to predominantly Jewish student groups, presumably to provide them with both resources and necessary training to oppose campus critics of Israel.

The simple way to deal with the massive and illegal Israeli influencing operations that are being directed against the United States would be first of all to deduct every identifiable dollar that is being spent by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to empower supporters in America from the $3.8 billion plus that Israel receives each year directly from the U.S. Treasury. Israel would not be concerned if the United States were to recover a paltry $10 million or so, but it would definitely send a message.

And then one might follow-up by requiring all the Israeli proxies that together make up the Israel Lobby to register under FARA. One might start with AIPAC, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) but there will be many, many more before the work is done. And CUFI, for sure. The fundamentalist Christian head cases that place Israel’s interests ahead of those of their own country finally need to have their bell rung.

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 4 Comments