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Western regimes are intent on maintaining energy poverty in Africa

By Ekaterina Blunova – Samizdat – 05.10.2022

Sudanese-British billionaire Mo Ibrahim criticized the West on Monday for obstructing African nations’ effort to develop their own hydrocarbon reserves and constantly ignoring the energy poverty problems of the Global South. What’s behind the Global North’s political short-sightedness and who benefits from the controversy?

Even though Africa boasts roughly 12% and 9% of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves, respectively, most of the continent’s nations suffer from energy poverty. However, once the energy crisis hit Europe, EU governments immediately turned to the African continent, seeking to tap its resources while overlooking the continent’s longstanding problems.

“The West’s exploitation of Africa’s wealth is driven by two factors,” explained Dr. Mamdouh G. Salameh, an international oil economist and a global energy expert. “The first is the old racist view that African people are backward and inferior to Western people and therefore can’t defend themselves or protect their natural resources. In a nutshell, it is doable. The second factor is greed and profit, which are the core of the Western capitalist system of taking advantage of poor and helpless people and exploiting their resources without letting them benefit the slightest from their stolen resources. That is how Western empires were built in Africa and around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

The Central African Countries suffer from severe energy poverty because they neither have the infrastructure (refineries, oil and gas pipelines) to benefit from their vast energy resources and also distribute energy, nor do they have the financial means to build such infrastructure, according to the oil economist. The deplorable state of Africa’s energy infrastructure stems from the fact that the West is by no means interested in the continent’s sustainability, Salameh highlighted.

“The ultimate beneficiary from Africa’s energy poverty, particularly refined products, is Western oil companies,” the energy expert said.

One glaring example is the 4,128 km-long Trans-Saharan gas pipeline. It is supposed to link Nigeria to Algeria, passing through Niger and bring Nigerian and Algerian gas exports to Europe while simultaneously benefiting energy-poor African countries from Nigeria’s and Algeria’s plentiful gas reserves estimated at 206.53 trillion cubic feet (tcf) and 159 tcf respectively, the oil economist explained.

Although this pipeline was conceived in the 1970s, it is still at the drawing board stage despite many memorandums of understanding signed over the years, the latest in mid-February, Salameh pointed out, forecasting that “it won’t see the light of day even in the next 10 years.”

“Western countries have consistently ignored Africa’s energy resources for years declining to offer investments as long as they didn’t need these resources at the time,” he said. “But in the aftermath of the Ukraine conflict and having introduced sweeping sanctions against Russia, the European Union is trying to curry favor with African hydrocarbon producers to reduce its dependence on Russia’s gas and oil supplies.”

The unfolding energy crisis offers new opportunities for Africa to develop oil and gas infrastructure and step up production of hydrocarbons. However, while African business leaders and policy-makers are brushing off the dust from their long-delayed energy projects, Western politicians and environmentalists have raised concerns about climate change issues, insisting that Africa’s consumption of fossil fuels could make matters far worse.

“The West puts so much importance on the climate change agenda in Africa,” said Salameh. “I would hazard two explanations for the West’s attitude. The first explanation is that the West is under the misjudged and erroneous view that any future energy assets – like investing in oil and gas production and building pipelines will end up after 2030 as stranded assets. The second explanation is a more sinister one, with the West wishing to keep African energy resources underground in order to satisfy its own appetite for energy in the future.”

Last month, US climate czar John Kerry discouraged investors from funding long-term gas projects in Africa, warning that they would be unable to recoup their investments beyond 2030. According to Kerry, it will be important to capture the emissions from gas after 2030, as the world is set to reach net-zero emissions in 2050.

On October 3, Sudanese-British billionaire Mo Ibrahim lambasted the West for hypocrisy and a double-standard approach at the “Reuters impact” conference in London. Ibrahim drew attention to the fact that the “Global North” is preventing African nations from developing their own gas reserves over climate change fears, while at the same time seeking opportunities to gain from African resources themselves.

This is not the first time that Ibrahim has lambasted Western policy-makers over their Africa policies. In July 2022, the billionaire’s foundation released “The road to COP27: Making Africa’s case in the global climate debate,” dedicated to the forthcoming 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt scheduled for November, 6-18. The report highlighted that “the current climate agenda is failing Africa” and placed the emphasis on the continent’s people’s right to energy access, given that a staggering 600 million Africans are still lacking it.

“The green agenda is hampering African countries from fully tapping and exploiting their hydrocarbon resources,” said Salameh. “This is a double-edged approach in that it enhances energy poverty in Africa while simultaneously depriving the EU of Africa’s energy resources (…) If African countries don’t have the infrastructure, the technical know-how and the financial resources to benefit from their own vast hydrocarbon resources, how would anyone expect them to develop green energy?”

Meanwhile, the Western green agenda for Africa is “faulty,” according to the energy expert: Africa accounted for only 3.8% of the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels and industry in 2020, which is the smallest share among all world regions.

On the other hand, climate groups who call for an abrupt end to fossil fuels and a sudden adoption of renewable energy fail to recognize the obvious lack of logic in this, continued Salameh.

“On their own, renewables aren’t capable of satisfying global demand for electricity and energy because of their intermittent nature,” the oil economist explained, characterizing a total energy transition as an “illusion.”

The current energy crisis in Europe clearly indicated that the Old Continent can’t rely on renewables alone. Furthermore, EU member states had to restart their coal plants after resorting to an anti-Russia energy embargo over the latter’s special military operation in Ukraine.

“While denying Africa’s right to push ahead with its own energy endeavors, the West would be eager to offer investments and technological know-how to the continent in exchange for receiving the lion’s share of the regional hydrocarbon wealth. The West doesn’t care whether African countries are experiencing severe energy poverty or not as long as it gets its hands on these reserves,” Salameh concluded.

October 5, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | 2 Comments

Western-imposed Green Agenda Would ‘Cripple’ Africa’s Energy Security, Energy Expert Warns

Samizdat – 01.10.2022

The African Development Bank Group estimates that more than 640 million Africans have no access to energy, with the continent enjoying an overall electricity access rate of just over 40 percent. Multinational energy giants have systematically underfunded local energy projects, all while searching for new sources of oil and gas for Western markets.

Despite its untold riches in energy and other natural resources, Africa remains the least developed continent on the planet when it comes to access to the benefits of this wealth by ordinary citizens. The International Energy Agency has estimated that among Africa’s 54 nations, only nine – Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Libya, South Africa and Tunisia, enjoy electrification rates of 85 percent or above.

Even countries endowed with large reserves of oil and gas like Nigeria, Angola, Sudan, Congo and Uganda have been unable to provide the vast majorities of citizens with access to these resources, with 38 percent of Nigerians, 57 percent of Angolans, and 71 percent of Ugandans lacking access to electricity.

For nations with smaller energy reserves, and those without proven oil and gas assets, the figures are even gloomier, with just 9 percent of Chadians and residents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo hooked up to the electricity grid, while only 12 percent of Liberians, 14 percent of the residents of Niger, and 18 percent of Somalis enjoy access.

The causes of the continent’s stunted energy status are multifaceted, ranging from the legacy of colonialism to decades of plunder of energy rich nations’ resources by foreign multinationals, to a dearth of capital for domestic investment, to efforts by Western powers and international institutions they control to force the region to reject fossil fuels in favor of renewables.

The problem has only been exacerbated by the global energy crisis caused by Western nations’ efforts to sanction or restrict Russian oil and gas purchases. In August, Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper reported that European states have made a push to fix the energy shortfall by outbidding developing nations for contracts from other global suppliers, driving poorer countries out of the market.

Last year, Nigerian Environment Minister Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar accused the developed West of deliberately defunding Africa’s natural gas projects on the grounds that they contribute to the global climate crisis, notwithstanding the fact that the entirety of Sub-Saharan Africa produces just 0.55 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.

In 2021, the European Investment Bank stopped financing hydrocarbon development projects in Africa altogether as part of an “ambitious new climate strategy and energy lending policy.” The same year, the World Bank announced plans to shift resources from energy projects to “combating climate change.”

“Africa’s oil and gas sector is experiencing underproduction and underinvestment as major international majors exit portfolios in key hydrocarbon producing countries such as Nigeria and Angola,” says N.J. Ayuk, chairman of the African Energy Chamber, a Johannesburg-based nonprofit advocating energy development in Africa, for Africans.

“Projects operated by majors in the deep-water projects are cost intensive. But also, capital restrictions by Western financial institutions are crippling the African gas market. Without finance, energy poverty rates will go up dramatically,” Ayuk says.

Characterizing energy poverty as the “single most important issue” facing the continent, the expert dismisses Western-backed institutions’ efforts to push Africa toward renewable energy, pointing out that as things stand, underdevelopment of hydrocarbon resources means that 45 percent of the continent relies on highly polluting hard biomass for energy.

As for renewable sources of energy like solar, wind and hydrogen power, Ayuk warns that the push being made in this direction threatens to “cripple” the continent.
“Many existing power grids in Africa remain underdeveloped, such that an intermittent supply of energy can threaten the stability of an entire grid,” the observer says, referring to the tendency for renewable energy to depend heavily on weather conditions.

“Such is the case in Kenya, which is widely considered to be at the forefront of Africa’s energy transition, building momentum in the renewable sector with the 310 MW Lake Turkana wind farm and 50 MW Garissa solar PV station. Some 15 percent of Kenya’s installed capacity comes from solar and wind, but as our 2022 Outlook reports, they have experienced severe voltage instability. Better system management, upgraded infrastructure, and long-term power storage technology are needed to solve these problems, but implementing these things on a nationwide or continent-wide scale won’t happen overnight,” Ayuk explains.

Another problem is Africa’s “near-complete” dependence on foreign equipment and expertise for its renewables capacity, with the majority of solar cells and windmills made in China, Europe or the United States, who also provide training and tech related to the installation, maintenance and repair.

“Economically, this means fewer home-grown jobs for Africans in this sector until such capacity can be developed. It also ensures [insecurity] of supply in case war or politics cripples the ability to import key raw materials and workers,” Ayuk stresses.

What Is To Be Done?

An alternative to listening to foreign dictates on energy policy is to focus on domestic resources, and to partner with those nations which are ready to help Africa secure its energy independence.

For Ayuk, this means intra-African natural gas pipelines capable not only of working to diminish energy poverty, but stimulating a drive toward industrialization which will translate to jobs. To stimulate development, African nations will need to stimulate capital investments and reduce taxes, and to work conscientiously to focus on infrastructure for domestic use, instead of export.

“Energy demand across Africa is expected to triple within the next 20 years – faster than anywhere else in the world – as a result of population growth, rising incomes, and rapid urbanization. To meet such rapidly accelerating demand, Africa needs the ability to make use of its existing natural resources and human capital, and to employ tried-and-true solutions that will reliably keep the lights on when the wind won’t blow and the sun won’t shine. Mitigating climate change must remain part of the equation, but the perfect cannot be allowed to be the enemy of the good when so many people are starting from zero,” the analyst says.

Russia can play an important role in improving Africa’s energy security, the observer believes, with Moscow needing to step up its game on the fulfillment of memorandums already signed, and to engage in the financing of gas projects, as well as sharing the country’s substantial expertise on the construction of infrastructure.

Earlier this year, Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva announced that Russian investors had expressed an interest in the financing of a massive gas pipeline project running from Nigeria to Morocco. If implemented, the prospective 5,600+ km piece of infrastructure would connect nations along the entire West African coast to natural gas, serving as a catalyst both for electrification and for regional economic development.

Nigeria has over 206 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves valued at trillions of dollars, but has long been starved of capital for the development of these resources.
Speaking to Sputnik last week, Sylva expressed confidence that Nigeria and Russia would be able to cooperate to help stabilize the global supply of energy.

However, last month, Biden administration climate envoy John Kerry warned against long-term gas projects in Africa, claiming countries that make investments would be unable to recoup their investments beyond 2030, and that the continent should instead focus on cleaner energy sources.

October 1, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment

As African Countries Kick Off Local Energy Projects, West Rolls Out Climate Agenda-Based Opposition

Samizdat – September 17, 2022

While many countries in Africa are experiencing energy poverty, suffering from electricity cuts, and are working on regional energy projects, the West appears to be skeptical of African nations’ strive for self-sufficiency in this area.

The Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP) project, an initiative of Nigeria and Morocco that was initially proposed in December 2016, officially kicked off with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Nigeria, Morocco, and the Economic Community of West African States on Thursday in Rabat.

“Once completed, the project will supply about three billion standard cubic feet of gas per day along the West African Coast from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania to Morocco,” a statement by the National Nigerian Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) reads.

The 5,600-kilometer pipeline, running across 13 African countries, will originate from Brass Island (Nigeria) and deliver gas to northern Morocco, where it will be connected to the existing Maghreb European Pipeline (MEP), through which the gas will subsequently go to Spain.

Nigeria possesses Africa’s biggest proven gas reserves, constituting around 5.8 trillion cubic meters, according to OPEC. The creation of a new pipeline allows to monetize Nigeria’s lavish natural gas resources, generate additional income for the country, and diversify Nigeria’s gas export routes. The project is also expected to improve the living standards of the sub-Saharan region’s population and provide opportunities for other countries along the pipeline route to develop and export their gas, as reported by The Nation.

“Some of the benefits include the creation of wealth and improvement in the standard of living, integration of the economies within the region, mitigation against desertification and other benefits that will accrue as a result of the reduction in carbon emission,” NNPC CEO Mele Kyari stated, speaking at the signing ceremony.

Central Africa Pipeline Project

The NMGP follows another African initiative that was launched on September 8 at the Central Africa Business Energy Forum, hosted by Cameroon, where Central African countries signed an ambitious deal to create a regional oil and gas pipeline network by 2030, including the construction of three multinational oil and gas pipeline systems, at least three refineries, and gas-fired power plants linking 11 countries, according to project documents cited by Reuters.

Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon, Chad, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic Congo – members of the ECCAS which signed the pipeline agreement – are all oil producers who possess vast oil and gas reserves. However, lack of refining capacity and funding to modernize the plants has left them dependent on imported refined products.

This has become increasingly difficult due to the raging global energy crisis with its skyrocketing energy costs, global supply disruptions, and geopolitical circumstances, such as Western sanctions against Russia over its military operation in Ukraine.

Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber N.J. Ayuk argues that the project will require foreign assistance, and Russian technical know-how might be of help.

“Russians are the best when it comes to pipelines. African ministers plan to be in Russian Energy Week and discuss this. They are also inviting Russian energy players to African Energy Week to have bilateral talks on how to use Russian or Chinese expertise to make this work,” Ayuk told Sputnik.

Speaking of Russia’s potential participation in African initiatives, and in the above mentioned NMGP in particular, the Russian United Metallurgical Company noted that it might supply metal products to meet the needs of the construction of the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline.

According to a statement published by the Russian Ministry of Energy following a meeting of First Deputy Minister of Energy Pavel Sorokin and Chairman of the African Energy Chamber N.J. Ayuk, Russia is ready to develop joint projects with African countries in order to increase energy supplies to African markets.

“Providing African countries with high-quality energy resources, creating conditions for the development and growth of cooperation in energy, increasing trade between Russia and African countries is an important task of our interaction. We are ready to continue to develop joint projects, thanks to which it is possible to significantly increase the supply of resources to local markets, to help generally strengthen the economic security of our friendly countries,” Sorokin said.

At the same time, N.J. Ayuk in a recent interview with Sputnik warned of potential resistance from various Western environmental groups who, under the guise of a climate protection agenda, have repeatedly thrown a spanner in the works on energy projects on the continent.

West Opposes African Energy Projects Due to ‘Environmental Risks’

As African countries continue to develop much-needed domestic energy projects, on September 15, the EU Parliament passed a resolution claiming that the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, which is being developed by Uganda and Tanzania, could lead to “human rights violations” and pose “the social and environmental risks.”

EACOP stretches 1,443km from Lake Albert in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean and could become of a great importance for Africa, where more than 600 million people, or 43 percent of the continent’s population, lack access to electricity, as per the International Energy Agency.

The EU Parliament has advised its member states not to support Uganda’s oil and gas projects either diplomatically or financially.

“Calls for the EU and the international community to exert maximum pressure on Ugandan and Tanzanian authorities, as well as the project promoters and stakeholders, to protect the environment and to put an end to the extractive activities in protected and sensitive ecosystems,” the resolution reads.

Uganda’s Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa, hitting back at the EU, pointed out that the resolution represents the “highest level of neocolonialism and imperialism” against the sovereignty of Uganda and Tanzania.

Tanzania’s Energy Minister January Makamba reaffirmed the country’s intention to implement the EACOP project, criticizing the resolution and describing it as based on misinformation and deliberate misrepresentation of key facts on environment and human rights protection.

“We care more about our country than other people do. We will continue to make sure this project protects local communities, protects the environment, and meets our international standards so that we will continue, but we commit to do,” Tanzania’s energy minister said.

The verbal spat over EACOP comes on the heels of the recent statements made by US climate envoy John Kerry, who in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of an African environment ministers’ conference in Dakar, Senegal also warned against investing in long-term gas projects in Africa.

Kerry claimed that the long-term viability of gas projects could become an issue beyond 2030, the target date many developed nations have set for their transition to mostly renewable energy sources and curbing demand for gas. The US climate envoy also said developed nations must step up their efforts and help other countries overcome the initial difficulties in developing renewable energy systems.

September 17, 2022 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , | 3 Comments

The West Gives Lip Service to Fighting Hunger

By Vladimir Danilov – New Eastern Outlook – 08.09.2022 

Although the energy crisis and the impoverishment of Europe’s population due to the Russophobic sanctions policy of European leaders have been the main themes of the Western media in recent weeks, articles on the fight against hunger nevertheless continue to appear.

Above all, media publications are discussing the consequences of the Istanbul package of documents signed on July 22 to tackle the issue of food and fertilizer supplies on world markets in fighting hunger in several parts of the world. It should be recalled that one of the agreements regulates the procedure for grain exports from Kiev-controlled Black Sea ports, based on the need to urgently address the food crisis in developing countries.

The Director of the World Food Program, David Beasley, who spoke to CNN on August 21, said the daily ships carrying Ukrainian grain would solve problems with access to food around the world, improving the situation in Somalia, Ethiopia, northern Kenya and several other poorer countries where it is most needed.

However, as the German magazine Der Spiegel admitted on September 2, despite the UN’s initial stated aims to fight hunger, only 13 of the 63 cargo ships that had left Ukrainian ports as of early September were carrying wheat. According to the publication, the remaining vessels were mainly carrying corn, used overwhelmingly as animal feed or to produce biofuel. A dozen ships were loaded with soybean or sunflower products, which are also mainly used to feed livestock.

In this regard, the interview given on August 18 to the Rossiya Segodnya news agency by Pyotr Ilyichev, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for International Organizations, was quite remarkable. He stressed in particular that the 16 ships that had left Ukrainian ports up to that day, carrying 535,000 tons of wheat and fodder crops, had, to great surprise, gone not to needy developing countries, but to rich countries. In particular, to the UK, Ireland, Italy, France and the Republic of Korea – in other words, the countries which are not threatened by hunger but which need fodder for livestock. At the same time, many experts emphasize that Ukrainian grain, primarily corn, is mainly fodder grain. And such actions publicly neglect the urgent problems of Africa and other world’s poorest countries.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Permanent Representative of Russia to International Organizations in Vienna, said in August that ships carrying grain from Kiev-controlled Black Sea ports were primarily destined for countries not at all threatened by hunger.

On August 23, Vasily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, pointed out the same fact at a Security Council meeting on conflicts and food security, noting that of all 34 ships with grain that had left Ukraine, only one sailed to Africa, which needs this food. “Here, of course,” Nebenzia pointed out, “it is worth recalling the public image failure of the ‘pioneer’ ship Razoni, which in fact brought to Lebanon not the wheat they had been waiting for, but corn, and at the same time, fodder.” The Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN also stressed that against this background, the reaction to UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ words at the UN Security Council on May 19 that 49 million people in 43 countries are threatened with famine and nearly 140 million people in 10 countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and several African states face severe food shortages, raises a lot of questions. As does the statement by the Secretary-General of the world organization in the port of Odessa that “grain exports and lower prices on global food markets will not bring relief to countries in need that cannot afford to buy it anyway.”

Meanwhile, Western politicians and media continue to persist in promoting the view that the main factor driving up grain prices is the restriction of Ukrainian grain supplies to importers, allegedly due to events in that country. However, an analysis of grain production and supply from Ukraine shows that the special operation currently taking place in that country has very limited influence on the situation with grain supply on the global food market. Because of Ukraine’s record 2021 harvest of grains, pulses and oilseeds, the increased supply of Ukrainian reserves further increases the supply of grain on the market and reduces the price of grain.

Overall, an analysis of the global food market shows that the destabilization of the market is not due to a decline in food production and supply, but to more fundamental causes. As Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of China to the UN, emphasized at the UNSC meeting on May 19, 2022, “the current crisis once again brings to light the structural problems of the global food system. The world food supply and demand pattern is characterized by food production highly concentrated in a few countries, while consumer countries are geographically well dispersed. This makes the balance of food supply and demand highly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions pandemics, armed conflicts, and other emergency and unforeseen factors.”

Igor Kostyukov, Head of Main Directorate of General Staff of Russian Armed Forces, said in August at a Moscow conference on international security that Western countries were provoking a global food crisis by imposing restrictions on Russia. In particular, he stressed that well-functioning mechanisms for supplying grain and fertilizers to global consumers are being disrupted, leading to artificial price rises on world markets. For example, before the sanctions were imposed, Russia supplied more than 20 million tons of crops and about 11 million tons of fertilizers annually to the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and other countries. However, the West’s current Russophobic sanctions policy has disrupted this logistical process.

The pattern of world hunger is therefore not at all what Antony Blinken and Josep Borrell originally painted. The problem is the emergence of food shortages due to declining yields caused by a shortage of fertilizers from Russia and Belarus. And also because of attempts to impose on Russia, which, unlike Ukraine, is actually one of the world’s biggest grain exporters, restrictions in trade in food, including grain.

It is clear to everyone that rich countries will not suffer too much because of the fall in yields, and that they will solve their food problems by raising prices and eliminating certain products. For example, vegetables, which were available all year round thanks to cheap energy and greenhouse facilities, but in an economic crisis they will simply become seasonal again and unaffordable for most of the population during the cold season because of their price. The “civilized world” will try to solve all its global food problems at the expense of poor countries: food exchange prices will rise and it will be the rich who will buy it back to curb inflation in their own countries and contain popular discontent. Poor countries, on the other hand, may simply get nothing in such circumstances. Of course, the G7 leaders will demonstrate their ostentatious concern for the people of poor countries and even invent “humanitarian programs” whereby, for example, several ships carrying food will be sent to starving regions of Africa, presenting it through the Western media “as a massive operation to save Africans from starvation.” But this will save few, for the only thing that can save is a return of the world to adequate trade rules that do not involve the imposition of unilateral sanctions and other restrictions.

September 8, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

WHO’S DRIVING THE PANDEMIC EXPRESS?

By Dr David Bell and Emma McArthur | PANDA | September 4, 2022

Sceptics of the growing ‘pandemic prevention, preparedness and response’ (PPR) agenda celebrated recently, heralding a perceived ‘defeat’ of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) controversial amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR). Although the proposed amendments would have undoubtedly expanded the WHO’s powers, this focus on the WHO reflects a narrow view of global health and the pandemic industry. The WHO is almost a bit-player in a much larger game of public-private partnerships and financial incentives that are driving the pandemic gravy train forward.

While the WHO works in the spotlight, the pandemic industry has been growing for over a decade and its expansion accelerates unabated. Other major players such as the World Bank, coalitions of wealthy nations at the G7 and G20 and their corporate partners work in a world less subject to transparency; a world where the rules are more relaxed, and a conflict of interest receives less scrutiny.

If the global health community is to preserve public health, it must urgently understand the wider process that is underway and take action to stop it. The pandemic express must be halted by the weight of evidence and basic principles of public health.

Funding a global pandemic bureaucracy

“The FIF could be a cornerstone in the construction of a truly global PPR system in the context of the International Treaty on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, sponsored by the World Health Assembly.” (WHO, 19 April 2022)

The world is being told to fear pandemics. Ballooning socio-economic costs of the COVID-19 crisis are touted as justification for increased focus on PPR funding.

Calls for ‘urgent’ collective action to avert the ‘next’ pandemic are predicated on systemic ‘weaknesses’ supposedly exposed by COVID-19. As the WHO steamed ahead with its push for a new pandemic ‘treaty’ during 2021,  G20 members agreed to establish a Joint Finance & Health Task Force (JFHTF) to ‘enhance the collaboration and global cooperation on issues relating to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response’.

A World Bank-WHO report prepared for the G20 joint task force estimates that US$ 31.1 billion will be required annually for future PPR, including US $ 10.5 billion per year in new international financing to support perceived funding gaps in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Surveillance-related activities comprise almost half of this, with US $4.1 billion in new funding required to address perceived gaps in the system.

In public health terms, the funding proposed to expand the global PPR infrastructure is enormous. By contrast, the WHO’s approved biennium programme budget for 2022-2023 averages US $3.4 billion per year. The Global Fund, the main international funder of malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS – which have a combined annual mortality of over 2.5 million – currently dispenses just US $ 4 billion annually for the three diseases combined. Unlike COVID-19, these diseases cause significant mortality in lower income countries and in younger age groups, year in, year out.

In April 2022, the G20 agreed to establish a new ‘financial intermediary fund’ (FIF) housed at the World Bank, to address the US $10.5 billion PPR financing gap. The FIF is intended to build upon existing pandemic funding to ‘strengthen health systems and PPR capacities in low-income and middle-income countries and regions’. The WHO is predicted to be the technical lead, landing them with an assured role irrespective of the outcome of current ‘treaty’ discussions.

The establishment of the fund has proceeded with breathtaking speed, and it was approved on June 30 by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors. A short period of consultation precedes an expected launch in September 2022. To date, donations totalling US $1.3 billion dollars have been pledged by governments, the European Commission and various private and non-government interests, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust. The initial areas for the fund are somewhat all-encompassing, including country-level ‘disease surveillance; laboratory systems; emergency communication, coordination and management; critical health workforce capacities; and community engagement’.

In scope, the fund has the appearance of a new ‘World Health Organization’ for pandemics – to add to the existing (and ever-expanding) network of global health organisations such as the WHO; Gavi; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); and the Global Fund. But is this increased expenditure on PPR justified? Are the escalating socio-economic costs of COVID-19 due to a failure to act by the global health community, as is widely claimed; or are they due to negligent acts of failure by the WHO and global governments, when they discarded previous evidenced-based pandemic guidelines?

COVID-19: failure to act or acts of failure?

In the debate surrounding the growing pandemic industry, much attention is being directed towards the central role of the WHO. This attention is understandable given the WHO’s position as the agency responsible for global public health and its push for a new international pandemic agreement.

However, the WHO’s handling of the response to COVID-19 creates serious doubts about the competency of its leadership and raises questions about whose needs the organisation is serving.

The WHO’s failure to follow its own pre-existing pandemic guidelines by supporting lockdowns, mass-testing, border closures and the multi-billion-dollar COVAX mass-vaccination program, has generated vast revenue for vaccine manufacturers and the biotech industry, whose corporations and investors are major contributors to the WHO. This approach has crippled economies, damaged existing health programs and further entrenched poverty in low-income countries. Decades of progress in children’s health are likely to be undone, together with the destruction of the long-term prospects of tens of millions of children, through loss of education, forced child marriage and malnutrition. In abandoning its principles of equality and community-driven healthcare, the WHO appears to have become a mere pawn in the PPR game, beholden to those with the real power; the entities who are providing its income and who control the resources now being directed to this area.

Corporatizing global public health

Recently established health agencies devoted to vaccination and pandemics, such as Gavi and CEPI, appear to have been highly influential from the beginning. CEPI, is the brainchild of Bill Gates, Jeremy Farrar (director of the Wellcome Trust), and others at the pro-lockdown World Economic Forum. Launched at Davos in 2017, CEPI  was created to help drive the market for epidemic vaccines. It is no secret that Bill Gates has major private financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, in addition to those of his foundation. This clearly places a question mark over the philanthropic nature of his investments.

CEPI appears to be a forerunner of what the WHO is increasingly becoming – an instrument where individuals and corporations can exert influence and improve returns by hijacking key areas of public health. CEPI’s business model, which involves taxpayers taking most of the financial risk for vaccine research and development whilst big pharma gets all the profits, is notably replicated in the World Bank-WHO report.

Gavi, itself a significant WHO donor that exists solely to increase access to vaccination, is also under direct influence of Bill Gates, via the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation. Gavi’s involvement (alongside CEPI) with the WHO’s COVAX program, which diverted vast resources into COVID-19 mass-vaccination in countries where COVID-19 is a relatively small disease burden, suggests the organisation is tied more strongly to vaccine sales than genuine public health outcomes.

Pandemic funding – ignoring the big picture?

At first glance, increased PPR funding to LMICs may seem a public good. The World Bank-WHO report claims that ‘the frequency and impact of pandemic-prone pathogens are increasing.’ However, this is belied by reality, as the WHO lists only 5 ‘pandemics’ in the past 120 years, with the highest mortality occurring in the 1918-19 H1N1 (‘Spanish’) influenza pandemic, before antibiotics and modern medicine. Apart from COVID-19, the ‘Swine Flu’ outbreak in 2009-10, which killed less people than a normal flu year, is the only ‘pandemic’ in the past 50 years.

Such a myopic focus on pandemic risk will do little to address the most serious causes of illness and death, and it can be expected to make matters worse for people experiencing the most extreme forms of socio-economic disadvantage.

Governments of low-income countries will be ‘incentivised’ to divert resources to PPR related programs, further increasing the growing debt crisis. A more centralised, top-down public health system will lack the flexibility to meet local and regional needs.  Transferring support from higher burden diseases, and drivers of economic growth, has a direct impact on mortality in these countries, particularly for children.

The WHO-World Bank report states that the pillars of the global PPR architecture must be built on the ‘foundational principles of equity, inclusion and solidarity’. As severe pandemics occur less than once per generation, increased spending on PPR in LMICs clearly violates these basic principles as it diverts scarce resources away from areas of regional need, to address the perceived health priorities of wealthier populations. As demonstrated by the damage caused by the COVID-19 response, in both high and low-income countries, the overall harm of resource diversion from areas of greater need is likely to be universal. In failing to address such ‘opportunity costs’, recommendations by the WHO, the World Bank, and other PPR partners cannot be validly based in public health; nor are they a basis for overall societal benefit. .

One thing is certain. Those who will gain from this expanding pandemic gravy train will be those who gained from the response to COVID-19.

The pandemic gravy train – following the money

The new World Bank fund risks compounding existing problems in the global public health system and further compromising the WHO’s autonomy; although it is stated that the WHO will have a central ‘strategic role’, funds will be channelled through the World Bank. In essence, it financially side-steps the accountability measures at the WHO, where questions of relative worth can be raised more easily.

The proposed structure of the FIF will pave the way for organisations with strong ties to pharmaceutical and other biotech industries, such as CEPI and Gavi, to gain even greater influence over global PPR, particularly if they are appointed ‘implementing entities’ – the operational arms that will carry out the FIF’s work program at country, regional and global level.

Although the initial implementing entities for the FIF will be UN agencies, multilateral development banks and the IMF, plans are already underway to accredit these other international health entities. Investments are likely to be heavily skewed towards biotechnological solutions, such as disease surveillance and vaccine development, at the cost of other, more pressing, public health interventions.

Protecting public health rather than private wealth

If the world truly wants to address the systemic weakness exposed by COVID-19, it must first understand that this pandemic gravy train is not new; the foundations for the destruction of community- and country-based global public health began long before COVID-19.

It is unarguable that COVID-19 has proved to be a lucrative cash cow for vaccine manufacturers and the biotech industry. The public-private partnership model that now dominates global health enabled vast resources to be channelled into the pockets of corporate giants, through programs they directly influence, or even run. CEPI’s ‘100 days Mission’ to make ‘safe and effective’ vaccines against ‘viral threats’ within 100 days – to ‘give the world a fighting chance of containing a future outbreak before it spreads to become a global pandemic’ –  is a permit for pharmaceutical companies to appropriate public money on an unprecedented scale, based on their own assessments of risk.

The self-fulfilment of the ‘increasing frequency of pandemic’ prophecy will be ensured by the push for increased disease surveillance – a priority area for the FIF. To quote the World Bank-WHO report:

“COVID-19 highlighted the need to connect surveillance and alert systems into a regional and global network to detect zoonotic transmission events, raise the alarm early to enable a swift public health response, and accelerate the development of medical countermeasures.”

Like many claims being made about COVID-19, this claim has no evidence base – the origins of COVID-19 remain highly controversial and the WHO’s data demonstrate that pandemics are uncommon, whatever their origin. None of the ‘countermeasures’ have been shown to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19, which is now globally endemic.

Increased surveillance will naturally identify more ‘potentially dangerous pathogens’, as variants of viruses arise constantly in nature. Consequently, the world faces a never-ending game of seek and ye shall find, with never-ending profits for industry. Formerly once per generation, this industry will make ‘pandemics’ a routine part of life, where rapid fire vaccines are mandated for every new disease or variant that arrives.

Ultimately, this new pandemic fund will help to hook low- and middle-income countries into the growing global pandemic bureaucracy. Greater centralisation of public health will do little to address the genuine health needs of people in these countries. If the pandemic gravy train is allowed to keep growing, the poor will get poorer, and people will die in increasing numbers from more prevalent, preventable diseases. The rich will continue to profit, while fuelling the main driver of ill-health in lower income countries – poverty.

Dr. David Bell is a clinical and public health physician with a PhD in population health and background in internal medicine, modelling and epidemiology of infectious disease. Previously, he was Director of the Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in the USA, Programme Head for Malaria and Acute Febrile Disease at FIND in Geneva, and coordinating malaria diagnostics strategy with the World Health Organisation. He is a member of the Executive Committee of PANDA.

September 6, 2022 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Only 1 in 3 UN members back new anti-Russia resolution

Samizdat | August 26, 2022

Ukraine’s latest proposal to condemn Russia has attracted the backing of just 58 out of 193 UN member states, a far cry from the number that symbolically supported Kiev in the General Assembly in March.

Kiev’s envoy to the UN Sergey Kislitsa heralded the proposed resolution on Wednesday, following the Security Council meeting convened on Ukraine’s independence day. The session featured a video address by President Vladimir Zelensky, for which the council had to override protocol requiring in-person appearances, and a series of statements by Western governments denouncing Russia.

Moscow’s envoy Vassily Nebenzia provided the counterpoint by introducing evidence of Ukrainian atrocities into the record and even naming Kiev’s western backers as accomplices in specific instances.

Kislitsa’s resolution also fell short of the support Kiev had back in March, right after the start of the Russian military operation. At the March 2 General Assembly session,141 member countries – or 73% of the UN – voted for a nonbinding resolution to condemn Moscow.

This week, however, that support stood at 30%, with no African, Persian Gulf or BRICS countries on board – and only two Latin American governments, Colombia and Guatemala, standing with Ukraine.

August 26, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 2 Comments

US ramping up drone strikes in Middle East and Africa

Experts believe indiscriminate use of drones is the key contributor to overall instability across the troubled regions in which they’re deployed

By Drago Bosnic | August 23, 2022

Drone strikes have been an integral part of US aggression against the world for over two decades now. These strikes have been the mainstay of joint military-intelligence black ops, especially in the Middle East and Africa. From the mountains of Afghanistan to the deserts of Libya, US strikes drones have been sowing death and destruction, ever so euphemistically called “spreading freedom and democracy.” 

These drones, first used only for ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) missions, were modified for rudimentary strike roles and were first tested in former Yugoslavia, laying the groundwork for their later usage in various US invasions. The strikes were massively expanded under Barack Obama, with thousands being approved by his administration. After Donald Trump came to power, he officially reduced the number of drone strikes, although they now became more specific, with US intelligence services getting even more involved. However, since Joe Biden took office, it seems the trend has now been reversed and US drones are coming back in full force.

On August 19 conflict monitors drew attention to a series of US strikes in Somalia, which have escalated significantly in the last couple of months. These attacks have gained little to no attention in the US corporate mass media despite resulting in the deaths of more than 20 people.

“If you were unaware that we were bombing Somalia, don’t feel bad, this is a completely under-the-radar news story, one that was curiously absent from the headlines in all of the major newspapers this morning,” wrote Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, a senior adviser at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

Last Wednesday, Dave DeCamp, writing for AntiWar reported that the US AFRICOM (Africa Command) launched its second strike on Somalia in less than a week. AFRICOM claims the attack, which occurred in Beledweyne, “had killed 13 fighters belonging to the al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group al-Shabaab, and that no civilians were harmed.” AFRICOM claims drone strikes also killed four al-Shabaab members in three separate operations near Beledweyne on August 9, two fighters near Labi Kus on July 17, and five militants in a June 3 bombing outside Beer Xani.

All of the aforementioned strikes have taken place since President Biden approved the redeployment of hundreds of special forces to Somalia in May, reversing an earlier withdrawal decision under the administration of former President Donald Trump. DeCamp noted that Trump’s withdrawal from Somalia merely “repositioned troops in neighboring Djibouti and Kenya, allowing the drone war to continue. But Biden has launched significantly fewer strikes in Somalia compared to his predecessor.”

According to the London-based Airwars monitoring group, US forces have targeted Somalia at least 16 times since Joe Biden took office, killing between 465 and 545 supposed militants. On March 13, a single US drone strike reportedly killed up to 200 alleged militants. Airwars claims there were civilian casualties in just one of the drone attacks under the Biden administration, conducted in June 2021. The attack on the southern town of Ceel Cadde killed a woman named Sahro Adan Warsame and seriously injured five of her children, according to local media reports. US forces have carried out at least 260 strikes in Somalia since 2007. The Pentagon has so far admitted killing five civilians and wounding 11 others, but Airwars claims 78-153 civilians, including 20-23 children, have died in US attacks.

“Bottom line, it’s been a long time since the United States was not bombing Somalia,” wrote Vlahos. “This comes after a particularly bloody period during the [so-called War on Terror] in which the CIA was using the country to detain and torture terror suspects from across North Africa. Whether this has ultimately been a good thing for the country or for the broader security of the region, one need only to look at the continued instability and impoverishment of the people,” she added, “and of course, the persistent presence of al-Shabaab itself.”

In addition to Somalia, recent reports indicate that US drones have been reactivated over Libya as well. The US shows no intention of stopping these strikes, with most now being relegated to intelligence services, such as the infamous CIA, with minimal civilian oversight. Many experts believe the indiscriminate use of these drones is a major, if not the key contributor to the overall instability across the troubled regions in which they’re deployed, as the terrorist activity which they’re allegedly there to stop is only exacerbated as a result.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

August 23, 2022 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Biden Steps Up Somalia Strikes After Redeploying Troops

By Will Porter | The Libertarian Institute | August 20, 2022

American airstrikes in Somalia are on the rise in recent months, with US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducting a flurry of operations against al-Shabaab militants since President Joe Biden reversed a full troop withdrawal ordered by his predecessor.

AFRICOM has carried out at least five bombing raids in Somalia so far in 2022, stating that its most recent strike last weekend killed 13 Shabaab fighters near the town of Teedaan. Four other missions were conducted between February 22 and August 9, alleged to have wiped out a total of 11 jihadists.

The Pentagon maintains the latest operation on August 14 resulted in zero deaths or injuries to civilians, in line with virtually every previous AFRICOM report on US strikes in the country. In the command’s last casualty assessment published in late July, it said it received no new reports of civilian deaths, though went on to note possible “discrepancies” between its own numbers and those of humanitarian monitors – some of which have accused the Pentagon of serious underreporting.

While the military launched a comparable number of strikes in Somalia last year, air operations appear to have accelerated since Biden’s decision to redeploy some 500 troops to the country in mid-May. Former President Donald Trump had ordered a full withdrawal of the roughly 800 soldiers on the ground in 2020, but Biden’s Pentagon later stressed the need for a “persistent US military presence in Somalia” in order to “enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab.”

Despite years of American bombing raids and ground missions against al-Shabaab, however the group has only grown more radical since its 2006 founding, even pledging loyalty to al-Qaeda in 2012. It has also gained in strength in the meantime, with the United Nations estimating up to 12,000 fighters in its ranks earlier this year – potentially tripling its membership since 2013, when the African Union offered a lower-end figure of 4,000.

Shabaab rose from the ashes of Somalia’s civil war in the early 2000s, when warlords vied for power and control following the collapse of the Somali state. Though it began as a youth wing of the more moderate Islamic Courts Union (ICU) – which resumed some semblance of governance in Mogadishu and worked to oust warlords – foreign interventions led by Washington helped to drive the group into increasing militancy until it finally broke off from the ICU, eventually growing into an armed insurgency which rages on to this day.

August 20, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia Backs Comprehensive Military-Technical Cooperation Amid Formation of Multipolar World: Putin

Samizdat – 15.08.2022

Russia supports the development of “comprehensive” military-technical cooperation with other countries, including joint drills and the sales of weapons systems, and highly values its many allies and partners across the globe, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

“I want to emphasize that Russia stands for the widest possible development of military-technical cooperation. Today, in the conditions of a steadily emerging multipolar world, this is especially important,” Putin said Monday at ARMY-2022.

“We highly appreciate the fact that our country has many allies, partners and like-minded people on different continents. These are states which do not bend before the so-called ‘hegemon’, their leaders are showing strong character and do not bend,” he added.

The Russian president said Russia is ready to present its partners across Latin America, Asia and Africa with “the most modern weapons systems,” from small arms and armored vehicles to artillery, warplanes and drones. He recalled that Russian armaments have built up a reputation across the world for their reliability, quality and efficiency in real combat conditions.

Putin extended a formal invitation to Russia’s allies and partners to take part in joint command-staff exercises and other drills, and expressed confidence “that by developing broad military-technical cooperation, by pooling our efforts and potential, we will be able to ensure reliable security for our countries and the world as a whole.”

Putin also pointed to the “great prospects” Russia has in the training of foreign servicemen and improving their qualifications, saying that thousands of soldiers and officers from countries around the world are already proud to call Russian military academies and officer training schools their alma maters.

The president thanked Defense Ministry for organizing the forum, saying it would help strengthen international security and stability. He also expressed gratitude to Russia’s weapons makers for equipping Russia’s ground forces and Navy with modern weapons, including those being used in Moscow’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine.

ARMY-2022 kicked off on Monday across several venues in the Moscow region and will run until Sunday. The forum and expo is combined with the International Army Games – a friendly military competition in which 12 countries are taking part. The games will run until August 27.

August 15, 2022 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

WHO Renews Push for Global Pandemic Treaty, as World Bank Creates $1 Billion Fund for Vaccine Passports

By Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D. | The Defender | August 9, 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) is moving ahead with plans to enact a new or revised international pandemic preparedness treaty, despite encountering setbacks earlier this summer after dozens of countries, primarily outside the Western world, objected to the plan.

A majority of WHO member states on July 21, during a meeting of WHO’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), agreed to pursue a legally binding pandemic instrument that will contain “both legally binding as well as non-legally binding elements.”

STAT News described the agreement, which would create a new global framework for responding to pandemics, as “the most transformative global health call to action since [the] WHO itself was formed as the first specialized United Nations agency in 1948.”

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum, African Union and World Bank — which created a $1 billion fund for “disease surveillance” and “support against the current as well as future pandemics” — are developing their own pandemic response mechanisms, including new cross-country vaccine passport frameworks.

WHO’s ‘pandemic treaty’: what’s been proposed and what would it mean?

Ongoing talks to formulate a new or revised “pandemic treaty” are building on the existing international framework for global pandemic response, the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR), considered a binding instrument of international law.

On Dec. 1, 2021, in response to calls from various governments for a “strengthened global pandemic strategy” and signaling the urgency with which these entities are acting, the WHO formally launched the process of creating a new treaty or amending the IHR, during Special Session — only the second in the organization’s history.

During the meeting, held May 10-11, WHO’s 194 member countries unanimously agreed to launch the process, which previously had been discussed only informally.

The member countries agreed to:

“Kickstart a global process to draft and negotiate a convention, agreement or other international instrument under the Constitution of the World Health Organization to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.”

The IHR, a relatively recent development, were first enacted in 2005, in the aftermath of SARS-CoV-1.

The IHR legal framework is one of only two binding treaties the WHO has achieved since its inception, the other being the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The IHR framework already allows the WHO director-general to declare a public health emergency in any country, without the consent of that country’s government, though the framework requires the two sides to first attempt to reach an agreement.

The proposals for a new or revised pandemic treaty, put forth at the special ministerial session of the WHO in May, would “somewhat” strengthen the WHO’s pandemic-related powers, including establishing a “Compliance Committee” that would issue advisory recommendations for states.

However, according to the Daily Sceptic, while the IHR is already legally binding, the amendments proposed in May would not strengthen existing legal obligations or requirements:

“The existing treaty regulations, like all (or most) international law, do not actually compel states to do anything other than talk to the WHO and listen to it, and neither do they specify sanctions for non-compliance; almost all their output is advice.

“The proposed amendments don’t alter that. They don’t allow the WHO unilaterally to impose legally binding measures on or within countries.”

The Daily Sceptic noted one of the risks stemming from the negotiations for a new or updated treaty include the potential codification of “the new lockdown orthodoxy for future pandemics,” which would “replace the sound, science-based, pre-COVID recommendations” previously in place.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, such a treaty would grant the WHO “absolute power over global biosecurity, such as the power to implement digital identities/vaccine passports, mandatory vaccinations, travel restrictions, standardized medical care and more.”

Mercola also questioned a “one-size-fits-all approach to pandemic response,” pointing out that “pandemic threats are not identical in all parts of the world. In his view, he said, “the WHO is not qualified to make global health decisions.”

Similar concerns contributed at least in part to opposition against the proposals presented at the special ministerial session, during which a bloc of mostly non-Western countries, including China, India, Russia and 47 African nations, prevented an agreement from being finalized.

Will opposition fade away?

Although no final agreement was achieved at the May meeting, consensus was reached to organize a new special ministerial session of the WHO later this year, possibly after the WHO’s World Health Assembly, scheduled for Nov. 29 through Dec. 1, Reuters reported.

Mxolisi Nkosi, South Africa’s ambassador to the UN, told the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly the new special session would “consider the benefits for such a convention, agreement or other international instrument.”

Nkosi added:

“Probably the most important lesson COVID-19 has taught us is the need for stronger and more agile collective defences against health threats as well as for building resilience to address future potential pandemics.

“A new pandemic treaty is central to this.”

At the time, the U.K.’s ambassador to the UN, Simon Manley, addressing the lack of an immediate agreement and the consensus to hold a new meeting, tweeted “negotiations may take time, but this is a historic step towards global health security.”

The INB, at its meeting held in Geneva July 18-21, also agreed with this view, reaching a consensus that its members will work on finalizing a new legally binding international pandemic agreement by May 2024.

As part of this process, the INB will meet again in December and will deliver a progress report to the 76th World Health Assembly of the WHO in 2023.

According to the WHO, “Any new agreement, if any when agreed by Member States, is drafted and negotiated by governments themselves, [which] will take any action in line with their sovereignty.”

The WHO further claims that “governments themselves will determine actions under the accord while considering their own national laws and regulations.”

The Biden administration expressed broad support for a new or updated pandemic treaty, with the U.S. heading previous negotiations on this issue, along with the European Commission, via its president Ursula von der Leyen, who, as previously reported by The Defender, is also a strong proponent of vaccine passports and mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.

An analysis by the Alliance for Natural Health International speculated that any final agreement may simply strengthen the existing IHR or, alternatively, may involve an amendment to the WHO’s constitution — or both.

Just two days after the July 21 INB agreement, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, tweeted:

“I’m pleased that alongside the process of negotiating a new [international] accord on pandemic preparedness & response, WHO’s Member States are also considering targeted amendments to the [IHR], incl. ways to improve the process for declaring a [public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC].”

In the same Twitter thread, he also declared the ongoing monkeypox outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern,” one “that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners.”

Notably, the WHO director-general overruled an expert panel that was divided over whether to classify the outbreak as a global public health emergency.

With this declaration, three “global health emergencies” are now in place, as determined by the WHO: COVID-19, monkeypox and polio.

Busy summer for vaccine passport proposals

While the WHO and global governments weigh plans for an updated or new pandemic treaty, other organizations are moving forward on vaccine passport technologies and partnerships.

On July 8, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), composed of many of the world’s industrialized nations, announced it would promote the unification of the different vaccine passport systems currently in use around the world.

Thirty-six countries and international organizations participated in a July meeting with the goal of “creating a multilateral framework for establishing a global vaccine passport regime,” according to Nick Corbishley of Naked Capitalism.

The development is a continuation of efforts involving the WHO to harmonize global vaccine passport regimes.

In February, the WHO selected Germany’s T-Systems as an “industry partner to develop the vaccination validation service,” which would enable “vaccination certificates to be checked across national borders.”

T-Systems, an arm of Deutsche Telekom, was previously instrumental in developing the interoperability of vaccine passport systems in Europe.

Also in July, 21 African governments “quietly embraced” a vaccine passport system, which in turn would also be interlinked with other such systems globally.

On July 8, which is also Africa Integration Day, the African Union and the Africa Centers for Disease Control launched a digital vaccine passport valid throughout the African Union, describing it as “the e-health backbone” of Africa’s “new health order.”

This follows the development in 2021, of the Trusted Travel platform, now required by several African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Togo and Zimbabwe, and air carriers such as EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways, for both inbound and outbound travel.

Beyond Africa, Indonesia, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the G20, is conducting “pilot projects” that would bring about the interoperability of the various digital vaccine passport systems currently in use globally. The project is expected to be completed by November, in time for the G20 Leaders’ Summit.

Naked Capitalism highlighted the role of South African company Cassava Fintech in the efforts to develop an interoperable vaccine passport for all of Africa.

A subsidiary of African telecommunication company Econet, Cassava initially developed the “Sasail” app, which the company described as Africa’s first “global super app” that combines “social payments” with the ability to send and receive money and pay bills, chat with others and play games.

Cassava and Econet entered into a strategic partnership with Mastercard, “to advance digital inclusion across Africa and collaborate on a range of initiatives, including expansion of the Africa CDC TravelPass.”

As previously reported by The Defender, Mastercard supports the Good Health Pass vaccine passport initiative that is also backed by the ID2020 alliance and endorsed by embattled former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair.

Mastercard has also promoted technology that can be embedded into the DO Card, a credit/debit card that keeps track of one’s “personal carbon allowance.”

ID2020, founded in 2016, claims to support “ethical, privacy-protecting approaches to digital ID.” Its founding partners include Microsoft, the Rockefeller Foundation, Accenture, GAVI-The Vaccine Alliance (itself a core partner of the WHO), UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank.

Mastercard’s top two stockholders are Vanguard and BlackRock, which hold significant stakes in dozens of companies that supported the development of vaccine passports or implemented vaccine mandates for their employees. The two investment firms also hold large stakes in vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Mastercard provides funding for the World Bank’s Identity for Development (ID4D) Program, which “focuses on promoting digital identification systems to improve development outcomes while maintaining trust and privacy.”

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York School of Law recently described the ID4D program, which touts its alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) , as one which could pave the way to a “digital road to hell.”

According to the center, this would occur through the prioritization of “economic identity” and the use of an infrastructure that has “been linked to severe and large-scale human rights violations” in several countries.

Mastercard is also active in Africa through its joint initiative with another fintech (financial technology) company, Paycode, to “increase access to financial services and government assistance for remote communities across Africa” via a biometric identity system containing the data of 30 million individuals.

World Bank, WHO promote ‘pandemic preparedness’ and vaccine passports

The World Bank in late June announced the creation of a fund that will “finance investments in strengthening the fight against pandemics” and “support prevention, preparedness and response … with a focus on low- and middle-income countries.”

The fund was developed under the lead of the U.S., Italy and current G20 president Indonesia, “with broad support from the G20,” and will be active later this year.

It will provide more than $1 billion in funding for areas such as “disease surveillance” and “support against the current as well as future pandemics.”

The WHO is also a “stakeholder” in the project and will provide “technical expertise,” according to WHO’s director-general.

The agreement follows a 2019 strategic partnership between the UN and the World Economic Forum, to “accelerate” the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs.

Although the agreement has recently circulated on social media, it was announced in June 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It encompasses six areas of focus, including “health” and “digital cooperation.”

In terms of health, the agreement purports that it will “support countries [sic] achieve good health and well-being for all, within the context of the 2030 Agenda, focusing on key emerging global health threats that require stronger multistakeholder partnership and action.”

In turn, the “digital cooperation” promoted by the agreement will purportedly “meet the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution while seeking to advance global analysis, dialogue and standards for digital governance and digital inclusiveness.”

However, despite rhetoric preaching “inclusiveness,” individuals and entities that have refused to go along with applications such as vaccine passports have faced repercussions in their personal and professional lives.

Such was the example of a Canadian doctor who was fined $6,255 in June over her refusal to use the country’s ArriveCAN health information app — which is being investigated over privacy concerns — to enter the country.

Dr. Ann Gillies said she was fined when re-entering Canada after attending a conference in the U.S.

Andrew Bud, the CEO of biometric ID company iProove, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security contractor, described vaccine certificates as driving “the whole field of digital ID in the future,” adding they are “not just about COVID [but] about something even bigger” and that “once adopted for COVID [they] will be rapidly used for everything else.”


Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D., is an independent journalist and researcher based in Athens, Greece.

© 2022 Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

August 10, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UK waged ‘dirty’ propaganda operation in Africa

Secretive British ‘dirty tricks’ unit smeared Kenya’s leftist vice president during the Cold War

Samizdat | August 7, 2022

A covert unit within the British Foreign Office targeted Kenya’s first vice president, Oginga Odinga, in the 1960s as part of a “black propaganda” campaign, The Guardian reported on Saturday, citing newly declassified documents. After Kenyan independence from the UK in 1963, London perceived the left-wing politician as a threat to its interests, according to the papers.

Odinga is said to have been subjected to a three-year campaign by the Information Research Department (IRD), a clandestine unit initially established by the post-WWII Labour government to spread anti-Communist views. The effort was led by the Special Editorial Unit (SEU), a highly secretive “dirty tricks section” of the IRD, the report says.

After Kenya broke free from British rule in 1963, London apparently viewed President Jomo Kenyatta as the preferred leader of the country. However, the UK seemed to have been worried that the vice president, Odinga, a left-wing figure who was open to relations with the Soviet-led bloc and communist China, could somehow replace Kenyatta in the future. These apprehensions led the British ‘black ops’ units to scramble to undermine Odinga, despite British diplomats recognizing that he was not actually a communist, the report says.

The declassified files detail four campaigns to smear Odinga, according to The Guardian. In September 1965, the Daily Telegraph reported on a pamphlet issued by a fictitious organization called the ‘People’s Front of East Africa’ that branded Kenyatta’s government as “reactionary, fascist and dishonest” while touting Odinga as “a great revolutionary leader” who would ascend to power with the help of a new socialist party, the outlet says.

However, this was, apparently, a sophisticated propaganda ploy meant to arouse suspicion that Odinga was in league with communist China. The IRD is said to have distributed the pamphlet among “leading personalities and the press.” The story gained significant traction in Kenya and successfully convinced many of the country’s ministers that the pamphlet was genuine.

According to historian Dr. Poppy Cullen of Loughborough University, as quoted by The Guardian, all of this “clearly shows that Odinga was considered the main threat to British interests.” It also demonstrates the lengths to which the British were prepared to go to undermine him, he added.

However, the Kenyan vice president smelt trouble, the report says. In 1964, he accused the British press of a “spate of vilification and facile criticism,” decrying the allegations in their reports that he was plotting against Kenyatta.

In another instance, the SEU reportedly created a leaflet from what was called the ‘Loyal African Brothers’ that castigated Odinga as “a tool of the Chinese” communists.

Although this organization never really existed and was merely the creation of British propagandists, over nearly ten years the fictitious group produced 37 leaflets claiming to want “to free Africa of all forms of foreign interference.”

In April 1964, Kenyatta voiced suspicions that Odinga might attempt to overthrow him, which, The Guardian says, prompted plans for British military intervention should a coup take place. In the aftermath of these propaganda efforts, the homes of Odinga and his supporters were raided, but no evidence that a coup was being prepared was found, and the vice president kept his post, at least for the time being.

In 1966, Odinga resigned and established his own leftist party, the Kenya People’s Union. In 1969, the party was banned, and Odinga was placed under detention and later jailed by Kenyatta’s successor, Daniel arap Moi. Nonetheless, Odinga’s son, Raila Odinga, is set to take part in Kenya’s upcoming presidential election.

“The story of British propaganda operations in Kenya is a reminder that the days of a declining empire were not as much pomp and circumstance as deception, disinformation and dirty tricks,” Professor Scott Lucas, a specialist in British foreign policy at the University of Birmingham, told The Guardian.

In May, The Guardian revealed how, from the 1950s to the 1970s, London sought to drive a wedge between Moscow, Beijing, the Arab world, and Africa through disinformation in an attempt to undermine their global influence.

Documents declassified back in 2021 and seen by the newspaper also showed that the British propaganda campaign had played a role in the mass slaughter of communists in Indonesia in the 1960s. Although the propaganda unit was officially disbanded in 1977, similar efforts allegedly continued for nearly another decade, according to the outlet.

August 7, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment