Who Will Carry The Blame For The Shutdown? Maybe No One : NPR

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference on Saturday, arguing that the shutdown is mainly President Trump’s fault. Republicans say Democrats manufactured the crisis over immigration.

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Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference on Saturday, arguing that the shutdown is mainly President Trump’s fault. Republicans say Democrats manufactured the crisis over immigration.

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While a lot of furious negotiation has been going on behind the scenes on Capitol Hill to end a partial government shutdown, to voters and cable news viewers it may look like most of the work in Washington is going into pointing fingers.

As the countdown to shutdown hit zero, an official White House statement called Democrats “obstructionist losers.”

Democrats pointed to President Trump’s inconsistent statements on immigration to say he’s an unreliable negotiating partner.

But even if voters side with one party or the other, neither side may fear any lasting political damage. Republicans’ approval ratings tanked after they were blamed for engineering the last government shutdown in 2013. A little more than a year later, voters delivered the GOP a Senate majority. And in the Trump era, the news cycle has only accelerated, giving crises a shorter and shorter half-life.

Still, President Trump was tweeting before dawn on Saturday.

“Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border,” the president offered in his first volley.

Democrats are seizing on a rare moment of leverage, with a spending bill that needs their votes, to try to make permanent the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The Obama-era policy shields about 700,000 immigrants from deportation, those in the country illegally who were brought to the U.S. as children. But Republicans point out that DACA won’t really expire until March.

“The federal government is needlessly shut down because of Senate Democrats. One party, in one house of this Congress, is deliberately holding our government hostage,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said during a floor speech on Saturday.

The GOP included a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program in their government funding bill, making it harder for Democrats to oppose. But Democrats tanked the bill anyway, and Republicans accused them of pulling a stunt that put needy children at risk.

Democrats had an answer for that.

“They’re using the kids as an excuse. They’re using the children of CHIP as an excuse, and the children of the DREAMers as an excuse,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Saturday after huddling with her caucus behind closed doors.

“Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in floor remarks a day after a meeting with Trump that both sides said was favorable. Whatever progress they made at the White House on Friday obviously didn’t lead to a deal.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are not going to let anyone forget when Trump tweeted last year, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown.’ “

It’s too early to tell who the public will decide is at fault, or if they’ll even assign blame.

There were polls before the shutdown started warning Republicans that they would shoulder the blame. And while the public broadly supports making DACA permanent, as Democrats are insisting on in current talks, pollsters also found that the public thought avoiding a shutdown was more important.

There is shared outrage about how broken the whole system is, so it’s possible that means neither side will feel much of a consequence from this debacle.

There are other reasons, too.

First is the little room that exists for these public servants’ public image to drop. Last week’s NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll showed that just 36 percent of Americans have trust in the Democratic Party and 29 percent in the Republican Party. The only institution with a lower level of trust is the Congress itself.

Also, many of the current players, save the president himself, were in Washington for the last shutdown in 2013. It was viewed as driven by conservative Republicans, chiefly Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. And you know what happened after that? In addition to Republicans winning control of the Senate and expanding their House majority, Cruz became a grassroots hero. He built a large army of supporters and donors who helped him launch a presidential campaign in 2016 that outlasted almost every other GOP candidate who took on Donald Trump.

OK, lesson learned. Shut it down?

In this era of tribal politics, the focus is often on firing up the party faithful, far more than trying to win over voters in the middle.

Democrats have been taking heat from their base, and particularly from immigration activists, for not pushing the DACA issue to the brink in December when government funding was last extended. In the final hours before this shutdown, Democratic lawmakers — including some thinking about a presidential run against Trump in 2020 — held a rally with so-called dreamers on Capitol Hill and then went inside to vote against funding the government.

Among Republicans, the president’s hard line on immigration appears to be spreading. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, often criticized as more concerned than anything with protecting that Senate majority, has ratcheted up his tone recently, as more in the party say Democrats are prioritizing people in the country illegally over American citizens.

While the Republican base certainly doesn’t want the president to give in and make a DACA deal with Democrats, there are signs that the Trump Administration may be worried about taking heat for a lasting shutdown.

Before it took hold, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said, “We’re going to manage the shutdown differently.”

He briefed reporters Saturday on how operations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, mine safety, cyber security, trade negotiations and the government response to the flu outbreak were moving ahead with minimal disruption.

The National Parks Service is also doing everything it can to avoid the images from the last shutdown of veterans locked out of the World War II memorial, or spoiled family vacations in Yosemite.

It may work, but that would only make this a more forgettable shutdown than we’ve seen in the past.

What’s also different about this shutdown is that everything is more forgettable in the frenetic news cycle of the Trump era. We’ve already moved from arguments over the size of a nuclear button, to a false alarm about a nuclear attack on Hawaii; from #Oprah2020, to “girthers” questioning President Trump’s height and weight. There’s a porn star talking about an alleged affair with the chief executive, and the onward march of the #metoo movement. And that’s just the first three weeks of 2018.

A month’s worth of news feels like a full year. So by that measure, we’ve got about a decade to get through before the midterm elections — before any real political consequences could be felt from the shutdown.

Medical Marijuana For Cancer Patients : Shots

Kate Murphy felt frustrated by a lack of advice from doctors on how to use medical marijuana to mitigate side effects from her cancer treatment.

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Kate Murphy felt frustrated by a lack of advice from doctors on how to use medical marijuana to mitigate side effects from her cancer treatment.

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Please sign up here to get occasional updates from WBUR’s ongoing series, “This Moment in Cancer.”

Even three queasy pregnancies didn’t prepare Kate Murphy for the nonstop nausea that often comes with chemotherapy.

In the early months of 2016, the Lexington, Mass., mother tried everything the doctors and nurses suggested. “But for the most part I felt nauseous 24/7,” she said.

Murphy, then 49 and fighting breast cancer, dropped 15 pounds from her already slim frame in just two months. Then, she remembered what a fellow cancer patient had advised while she was waiting for her first dose of chemo: “Make sure you get some medical marijuana.”

Scientific research, mostly in animals, supports the idea that cannabis can effectively treat the nausea of cancer therapy, in addition to some types of cancer-related pain, according to the National Cancer Institute’s cannabis information page.

And roughly a quarter of cancer patients use cannabis in Washington state, where both medical and recreational marijuana is legal, a study from September found.

In Massachusetts, medical marijuana has been legal for six years, but it’s still a challenge for cancer patients to get a state-issued medical marijuana ID card, or then figure out what kind of cannabis to use.

“I was flabbergasted that there was no real resource A, B and C, and ‘here’s how you do it,’ ” Murphy said. “What I liken it to is, ‘you need chemo, now go figure it out.’ “

This story from WBUR’s CommonHealth is part of an ongoing series called “This Moment In Cancer.” Here is a selection of other stories from the project:

Read more stories from WBUR’s “This Moment In Cancer” series

Like most patients, Murphy’s first step was to ask her oncologist. Murphy said she loved her doctor and care team at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, but they had no advice to offer on medical marijuana.

“They said ‘yes, you can look into it,’ ” she said. “But I felt sad because you’re so lost and you’re so sick and this is so not your area of expertise, that it was very upsetting to me to not get direction one way or the other.”

Only about 1 percent of Massachusetts’ 25,000 doctors are registered with the state and allowed to legally prescribe marijuana. And only a fraction of those know much about cancer care.

Last June, the Massachusetts Medical Society approved a new online curriculum for medical marijuana. Six months later, only 27 medical professionals have taken the section on cancer care and cannabis. Both the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center said they had no experts on staff to speak with us for this report.

Murphy eventually found her way to Dr. Jordan Tishler, who runs medical cannabis clinics in Cambridge and Brookline, called inhaleMD.

Tishler, a former emergency room physician and music producer, said he treats cannabis like any other therapy, meeting with new patients for an extended conversation and follow-ups. But some cannabis prescribers, he said, just want to sign the state paperwork and move on.

“By and large, physicians are simply saying, ‘yes, you can have it,’ and then stopping the conversation there,” he said.

Tischler explained that medical centers — particularly those that take federal funding — are in a tight spot because federal law still classifies cannabis as an illegal drug, despite its legalization for medical purposes, at a minimum, in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

“Most of those institutions are prohibited and/or afraid of the prohibitions from the federal government, so have opted not to pursue this within their domain,” Tischler said. He set up his private clinic so he could operate outside of those systems, though he said he receives referrals from all the major hospitals.

In early January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the nation’s U.S. attorneys to resume aggressively pursuing marijuana growers and distributors, even in states where marijuana has been legalized. It’s not clear yet what that will mean for Massachusetts’ medical marijuana system, but a few days later, Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said he cannot and will not rule out prosecuting state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

As it currently stands, authorized doctors like Tishler have to fill out an online form with the state, which the patient then submits with a $50 check to request a license. Tishler said the process used to take several weeks, but now the state usually issues a medical card within three or four days of receiving a request.

Then, the patient has to take that license to one of the state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries, which offer a wide array of products containing cannabis.

New England Treatment Access in Brookline, Mass., is located in a former branch of Brookline Bank.

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New England Treatment Access in Brookline, Mass., is located in a former branch of Brookline Bank.

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New England Treatment Access, or NETA, whose Brookline dispensary is housed in an old bank building, sells 130 products. Garden Remedies, whose dispensary is in Newton about a block from a Whole Foods, sells 50 items, including bath bombs, lip balm and marijuana-infused honey they make themselves in their cultivation facility.

Murphy said she would have been overwhelmed by those choices if she hadn’t had a doctor like Tishler advising her on what to take. Tishler said he tells cancer patients, for example, that they should avoid using novelty items like bath bombs and creams. They may be fun, but they won’t help with nausea or pain, he says.

Murphy didn’t like the idea of edibles. She had young children at home and was anxious they might find a brownie too tempting to pass up.

Tishler warned his patients against getting advice on care either from the Internet — which he said is loaded with misinformation — or from the counter folks at the dispensaries, who are trained in their products but are not legally allowed to give out medical advice.

“They’re doing the best they can, but fundamentally, they’re salespeople,” he said. “Their level of training, I often say, is about the level of a Starbucks barista. So, I tell patients, ‘look, if you wouldn’t ask your coffee guy about your health, probably you shouldn’t ask these guys, either.’ “

Dispensing Experimental Wisdom

Dr. Karen Munkacy, president and CEO of Garden Remedies, said her staff generally recommends that someone with nausea use a vape pen, to get a quick effect from the cannabis, and then, if they need something longer-lasting, take an edible.

“Inhalation medical marijuana works within a few minutes, and so, now their nausea and vomiting is under control,” she said. “If they want to get a good night’s sleep they’re going to need to get something that they ingest because it’s going to last longer. They won’t wake up vomiting in the middle of the night.”

Munkacy started her company after her own bout with chemo-induced nausea. She was treated for breast cancer a decade ago in New Jersey, where medical marijuana was illegal.

“It was months of feeling a thousand times worse than any flu I’ve ever had,” said Munkacy, who at the time was an anesthesiologist with a 2-year-old son. “Before [medical cannabis] became legal, people would have to choose between breaking the law and suffering terribly.”

Convinced that medical marijuana could help other people avoid her misery, Munkacy worked to help get legalized medical marijuana on the ballot in Massachusetts in 2012, and said she is now committed to educating patients who come to her dispensary.

“Our goal is that when patients leave, they’ve learned everything they need to know,” she said.

Cannabis is generally very safe, Tishler said, as long as patients buy their medical marijuana from a dispensary, because state requirements ensure a safe, consistent product. There is no lethal dose, and the worst side effect for most of his patients, he said, is an unwanted feeling of getting high when they’ve taken too much.


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Norton Arbelaez, director of government affairs for NETA, which also has a dispensary in Northampton, said that safety profile means patients can afford to be a little imprecise about what kind of marijuana they use and how much they get.

“There is some room here for the patient themselves to experiment and see what’s right for them,” he said.

In the end, that’s what Murphy did. She experimented. She tried a few joints and smoked a few times with a pipe.

She had already spent $700 paying Dr. Tishler, getting her $50 state license and buying the cannabis, so she didn’t want to invest more in the vaporizer Dr. Tishler recommended.

But even just those few weeks of occasional smoking made a big difference, Murphy said.

“It made me feel like I had an appetite for the first time in probably six months,” she said. “Instead of lying around thinking about how sick I felt all the time — which was not my personality, which was very upsetting to my whole family — I was up and cooking, which was not anything I had done since I hadn’t felt well.”

Murphy, who is now cancer-free, hasn’t smoked since her treatments ended in the summer of 2016. She still wishes patients didn’t have to work so hard to get the information they need about medical marijuana.

Younger Patients and Cannabis

The situation for children and teens with cancer is a little different than for adults, according to Prasanna Ananth, a pediatric oncologist at Yale Cancer Center. Ananth published a study in early December showing that an overwhelming majority of pediatric oncologists, nurses and other health care professionals in Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington state were willing to consider medical marijuana for children with cancer — particularly for those with advanced illness.

There are decades of research showing the potential dangers of marijuana for children and teenagers, but almost none into its possible benefits for young cancer patients, she said.

“Our calculus shifts when we’re talking about children facing serious, life-threatening illness,” Ananth said. “Health care providers must weigh their desire to provide compassionate care for their patients against limited scientific evidence to support use of medical marijuana by children.”

In her survey, nearly 1 in 3 pediatric oncology experts said they had been asked about medical marijuana by at least one patient.

Ananth said she would prefer to talk with her patients about their marijuana use than not know that they’re using it.

“Especially for the purpose of knowing what my patients are on and what the medical marijuana might interact with, it is important for us to maintain open lines of communication,” she said.

With Legal Pot Shops, Medical Use May See Boost

It’s not clear how Massachusetts’ medical marijuana system will change later this year when recreational marijuana sales are set to begin. Patients will pay 20 percent less than recreational users because they won’t have to pay taxes on their cannabis.

But Munkacy said she believes many more people will start using cannabis for their medical problems once recreational use becomes legal.

They may not have wanted to give their name to the state for a license, but the reduced restrictions and added legitimacy of legal marijuana will give them the push they need to start using it, Munkacy explained.

“I’m thinking there’s going to be a lot of people who will no longer have to buy their medicine on the black market.”

The first version of this story appeared on WBUR’s CommonHealth. Karen Weintraub spent 20 years in newsrooms before becoming a freelance writer in January 2010. She contributes to CommonHealth.

Body of Evidence Suggests New US Biological Warfront Opening Up | Global Research

We know that the Richard E. Lugar Centre in Tbilisi is actually a biological weapons lab. It has always been assumed that the US Department of Defense took over this facility, alongside a string of others in the former Soviet Union, for offensive purpose, and that the “scientific research” into animal and human diseases it claims to be carrying out is merely a front for developing new biological strains, viruses and bacteria, and then testing them on the Georgian population and the agricultural industry, without asking for consent, and even developing new generation vaccines and cures which are often experimental, naturally donated or supported by the US Department of Defence and German medical research facilities.

There is much evidence that these strains are being tested on the population, ironically even pundits got-it-right. More measurable evidence includes the sudden unexplained spikes in various diseases, human and plants, mortality rates. One also needs to mention the great reluctance of medical people in Georgia to talk about such things, other than off the record and in total confidence, not even to be recorded.

Fewer are even willing to discuss the fact that, after millions of dollars have been spent on this “research lab”, because of flawed engineering and substandard safety standards. Ironically it is very difficult, if not impossible, to find a single research paper published in Georgian, and even the clinical studies are done in secret—and without informed consent. Josef Mengele, Nazi doctor, would be impressed with the Georgian project.

This is not all.

The present Georgian government made a great show of taking over this lab as soon as it took office, due to public concern about it, but the US Department of Defense still claims to run it regardless. A number of foreign contract staff at the centre had returned home to die, too many for these to be natural cause, unrelated deaths. If anyone starts asking questions, problems will result, as Ragnar Skrea Norwegian Journalist found out after attacked at his home by mast men within hours of visiting the lab several years ago.

He thought at the time that robbery was not the purpose and suspected that the attack was connected to him having information on the planned production of biological weapons in Georgia. He had been carrying out journalistic investigation regarding the allegation.

Even if the production of biological weapon does not start in Georgia, the government does not appreciate to expose the information that there is reserve of biological bacteria in the country,” said Skre in an interview with the Georgian Human Rights Centre.

All these things are matters of public record; even VOA tries to provide a smokescreen for its actual purpose, claiming that it is “politics-and-not-science” is why should Russia is concerned.

But recent developments suggest that the lab has other functions, including the links between DNA groups and bio weapons. It is not simply observing the effects of new biological strains by studying them by manipulating them. There is a strong possibility that one of its purposes is to inflict upon Georgia already proven viruses and bacteria, which no one needs to test.

Many in Russia and Arab countries suspect that they are likely the target of such research. Russian Senator Klintsevich claims that

“It is no secret that different ethnic groups react to biological weapons in different ways and that is why the West is meticulously collecting material all across Russia.”  

In short, this and other labs, in Kenya, Thailand and Ukraine are not preparing weapons for future use by its favoured terrorists but by stockpiling them for a rainy day: using them itself: conducting its own biological terrorism against its friends rather than its enemies. It is no accident that it partners with the Army Medicine’s US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command in carrying out infectious disease surveillance and research, purportedly develop better diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. Naturally all this is in violation of the Bio Weapons Convention, but that is a moot issue when the research is outsourced to Grey Zones as Georgia, under the flimsy guise of human and animal health.

Each State Party to this Convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain: Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.

One of the people who ended up in a hospital for investigating what is going on in the Richard E. Lugar Centre is Jeffrey Silverman, who has lived in Georgia for over 25 years, and thought he had seen it all until the nature of this lab became clear. He has contributed some of his thoughts and experience to the book “Putin’s Praetorians”, written by NEO and Veterans Today contributor Phil Butler.

Silverman has brought to our attention a message he received from someone who apparently wrote to him out-of-the-blue. He recognised this message as the action of someone with a story to tell, who may have difficulty making the right people hear it.

Given the contents, this might be surprising in some countries, but not in Georgia.

Killing Hope – “Survival is Insufficient”

The message is from one Per Have. It reads:

“Dear Mr. Silverman,

I am writing to you after having read Putin’s Praetorians, and in particular your chapter.

Being a retired veterinarian specialising in animal virus diseases I am particularly interested in the spread of the devastating virus disease of pigs known as African Swine Fever (ASF). This infection had its origin in warthogs and other indigenous pigs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

ASF was introduced into Portugal and Spain around 1960, but has since been eliminated from the Iberian Peninsula. Quite surprisingly, it then surfaced in Cuba and other Caribbean islands at the beginning of the ’70s, where it proved to be detrimental to pig farming and the livelihood of poor people. It was suspected that it was introduced to cause economic damage by anti-Castro rebels supported by CIA (as mentioned in W, Blum, and “Killing Hope”).

In 2007 ASF appeared in Georgia, and has since spread to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and most recently several Eastern EU countries. It is currently the greatest threat to pig production in the EU, because it is maintained in the wild boar population, which is expanding in Europe and in which it is practically impossible to control.

It does not stop there, and as in the US, where there is compelling evidence that the CIA released whooping-cough bacteria into the open air in Florida, followed by an extremely sharp increase in the incidence of the disease in the state that year. The following year, another toxic substance was disseminated in the streets and tunnels of New York City (Blum).

Officially, it is assumed (but not proven) that the virus was brought to Georgia via swill unloaded from ships in Black Sea harbours. The [apparent] fingerprints of the virus trace it back to South-East Africa. Having read your accounts on the biological warfare activities in Georgia, the question which comes to mind is whether the introduction of ASF was entirely accidental?

I don’t know the answer to this question, but I have also not seen anyone try to answer it. I wonder if you might have any info which could shed more light on these events.

Silverman responds:

I have read your message, and I think the question is very well worth the effort of asking. I will present it to the so-called experts in the Georgian Ministry of Health and Science, and to the Lugar Lab via the mainstream media in Georgia.

What went on in Cuba, based on your materials is going on in Georgia, such as Task 33, a “Plan for Incapacitation of Sugar Workers,” as part of a scheme to develop a plan for incapacitating large sections of the sugar workers by the covert use of BW [biological weapons] or CW agents, and I suspect the loses in the hazelnut industry in Western Georgia is a pilot for what is planned for Turkey next.

There is no coincidence that the US military is involved, and how such attacks are backstopped by the bio warfare experts from Fort Detrick, Maryland. BTW, I too have a background in agriculture, spending much of my youth on a farm, having a BSc and MSc in vocational agriculture, and I even worked on the university swine farm in my student days.

Based on the information I have had access to, material from insiders working in the lab and my own background in bio and chemical weapons, US Army, there is little doubt in my mind that ASF was intentionally released as an experiment to play havoc on the Russian economy. I will be looking into this, and will see what kind of literature review I can come up with, as Georgia is mostly surrounded by Muslim countries, and Turkey may be the next target, and the virus did not affect the wild pigs in Georgia as it did the domestic herds.

DNA Specific Weapons

But how the hell can one prove one version or the other? DNA strain – South East Africa, which could be Mozambique, not well known for its pork production “husbandry” – or for having the facilities to identify or weaponise any virus, and even if it was South Africa, who may well have the facilities and know how, I very much doubt there is the political appetite to get involved in this kind of adventure. Then too there is the theory that various strains of diseases are being designed to deal with Russians and Middle Eastern populations.

I am nearly always drawn to the cock up theory. I know a friend who spent some time looking at a story about strain of mildew that affected heroin harvests in Afghanistan – reducing it by as much as 80 percent. The Soviets had [allegedly] developed it in Abkhazia and at other plant warfare facilities in Georgia after the Soviet invasion.

More recently, it turned out that neither the Brits nor Americans would touch it as it would be biological warfare and set a precedent. If they wouldn’t do it in Afghanistan where there was a kinetic war, partly funded by heroin and the arms trade, then I doubt anyone would do it to get a very minor economic advantage—at least in a world when better minds make the decisions.

Ways out at the front

It will be interesting to see what response, if any, Silverman and Have get to their questions once this information is shared with the Georgian media. What we do know already is that Donald Trump took office stating that he wanted to cut US military commitments, after its people have long supported ever-increasing spending on being the self-appointed policeman of the world.

All Trump has actually done so far is threaten all kinds of wars and make US military action ever more likely, all bark and not bite. But he knows, as do his military brass, that the US war machine is being stretched too thin. Simply in order to maintain its existing influence the US has to find another way to project force. With some of its former allies now looking at other protectors, in tandem or as replacements, the US needs more conflict simply to stand still.

During the Cold War one of the issues frequently talked about was that although both sides had nuclear weapons, the West would have had to use them first, due to the size of the Soviet Bloc’s conventional forces. The West didn’t want to do that, which is why the various disarmament treaties such as SALT were largely a Western initiative. Nuclear arms limitation would bring parity, and thus peace, because it would stop the West from having to resort to such weapons, and this—being in itself a warlike gesture.

We do not live in the Cold War world now, but we are witnessing the rise of China and a gradual loss of US influence which its own behaviour has brought upon itself. US allies are increasingly less willing to sign up to US regime change schemes, such as the Syrian conflict, and then be told by The White House that they need to pay for a greater portion of them themselves. Nor do they appreciate being told who else they can talk to if they are friends of the US, or that they are harbouring terrorists just because the US isn’t arming and paying that particular bunch of terrorists today, though it might next week.

The US is losing the conventional power game. But it still doesn’t want to nuke everyone, merely to threaten to, by putting ever more missiles in ever more bases. So the US needs biological warfare to do what it can’t do in any other way. It can destabilise its enemies, and keep its allies under control, in the biological sphere when it can’t project other types of force.

In effect, this is what Trump said on the campaign trail, as it provides the way he can square the circle of threatening all kinds of countries and still cutting conventional military expenditure, the things people see, like men and tanks. Other countries will also have to pay for a share of a US/NATO biological warfare programme, but how much of it will be on the books?

There are different degrees of classified information, and the secrecy surrounding the work of the Lugar lab and other research facilities in Georgia, which are supposed to be a “scientific institutes”, suggests that whatever goes on there is not being fully accounted for, or properly audited, because it can’t be. Trump’s business career demonstrates that he knows effective ways to save money on paper, whatever the reality.

Pigs do fly

At least the US is consistent. Whenever its actions are called into question anywhere, you can find parallels with previous US actions which give an idea of what is really going on, and even which intelligence training schools the perpetrators went to. For example, regime change has a long history of prior analogies.

Back in 1977 the San Francisco Chronicle reported on its front page that anti-Castro terrorists introduced African Swine Fever into Cuba in 1971, just as Per Have suggests, despite the fact he probably never read this article. As in the more recent case in Georgia, the virus entered Cuba by boat through friendly ports and halted pork production, thereby damaging the Cuban economy.

Those involved in transmitting the virus may not have been aware of what it was, but they were well paid for doing the job, much better than they would have been for ordinary cargo. As in the Georgian case, the US did not admit involvement, and could not have done, as the Nixon White House had banned chemical warfare at this time. But no one else could have developed the virus, introduced it in the matter they did and paid the operatives so well to do it.

Following the international embarrassment of the ironically-named Bay of Pigs fiasco, the US had few offensive options in Cuba in 1971. Military action was off the table, and propaganda wasn’t working with the very people it should have, those who were suffering privation from the Castro regime but were enchanted by the promise of the riches some exiles were making. When all else had failed, the US used pigs to try and ruin the country.

The present Georgian government, though pro-US, is not as compliant as the criminal gang which preceded it. It wants to run more of the show itself, and move away from the dirty deeds of the previous regime. So it needs to be shown who’s boss, without scaring other partners. Sending a deadly virus which ruins the pork industry was as good a way of doing this as the previous Georgian government’s favourite method, which was cutting the domestic electricity at strategic times when the country was actually exporting electrical energy.

A plus B

The US ostensibly moved its biological facilities into Georgia to study new strains of disease which were naturally occurring in livestock, and under control. The real reason however, to take control of the left over stocks of especially dangerous pathogens storied there, under the veil of threat reduction.

This may explain why the Lugar Centre has not produced public research papers – it can’t find naturally occurring bio agents, only ones it put there and researches. But as always, Georgia has been used as the template for the region – what happens there will be rolled out in other friendly regional states sooner or later, if the US sees an advantage in it—and the timing is right.

Testing biological agents on the population through takes time and a willing government that will turn a blind eye. Furthermore, you have to keep at least some of the effects quiet. Poisoning of pigs can be blamed on the virus itself, the transmission can be claimed as a natural accident or the work of hostile powers, and the effects can be broadcast to the skies so everyone goes running to their protectors.

If you were a military man who couldn’t achieve the same objectives by sending troops in, which second option would you choose? It is all about finishing the job and making the World Safe for Democracy, US-styled Democracy.

One only needs to take a look Emily St. John Mandel, and her work of fiction, Station Eleven, where 99 percent of the World’s population has been wiped out within hours and days of spread of the mysterious Georgia Flu, unknowingly brought to the United States via virus-carrying airline, naturally filled with passengers from Russia.

Enough similarities abound with the fictitious Georgia Flu/Lugar Bio Weapons Lab and/or “the real-life Ebola virus to challenge the interest of conspiracy theorists. Any level-headed reader will raise an eyebrow and wonder what if … could this?”

*

Henry Kamens is a columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Featured image is from the author.

Greece – Convenient Victim or Complacent Masochist? The Devastating Social Impacts of IMF-ECB-EC “Economic Medicine” | Global Research

Why this title? – Because Greece doesn’t have to continue playing the card of the victim, nor being masochist. Greece seems to suffer under the Stockholm Syndrome – she is in love with her hangman. Greece could change this. Exit the prison, exit the EU and exit the euro. Greece could return to her sovereign national currency, her own sovereign central bank, make her own monetary policy and implement it with a sovereign public banking system that works solely for the Greek economy. Within less than 10 years Greece would have recovered and would even be able to pay back some of her illegally begotten debt.

Although, here it must be added, according to international law, most of Greece’s debt was imposed by the troika under illegal circumstances. It’s also called “odious debt”, the description of which reads “In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal doctrine that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interest of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state.” This doctrine is complemented by a similar one inscribed in the charter of the IMF that says that the IMF shall not make any loans to a country in distress, that will unlikely be able to reimbursed the debt and pay the debt service.

There is not a day that goes by without Greece making the headlines as being abused by the troika (IMF, European Central Bank – ECB and the unelected European Commission – EC) and by the Germans. Here are three of the latest examples, but there are many more – “Destroying Greek, Plundering Greece. The Latest Update” (by Leonidas Vatikiotis); “Austerity: Public Hospital Halts Chemotherapy, turns away Cancer Patients, because ‘Budget Exceeded’”; and “Greece Crisis: Cancer Patients Suffer as Health System Fails” (Giorgos Christides).

Already years ago, The Lancet reported an increase in Greek suicide rates and child mortality. The misery is indeed real and mounting every day. The western imposed atrocities also abound on a daily basis. Salary cuts – and at least five pensions reductions since 2010, an almost completely dismantled social safety net. Those who depend on it are generally poor. More than 4 million people out of a population of 11 million live at or under the poverty line; 15% live in absolute and abject poverty. About 28% of children live in absolute poverty, meaning malnutrition and diseases, stunting growth and brain development. At least a generation of Greek may be in part intellectually challenged, possibly implying health hazards and restricting economic development over the next 20-some years. Unemployment is hovering around 25% – 30%, with close to 50% for youth (18-35 years). The outlook is grim and promises to become even grimmer.

Public hospitals and schools are either privatized or closed because of lack of budget. Medication is scarce, as part of imposed import restrictions, imposed by Greece’s lovely European neighbors and allies or overseas masters. Specialized and expensive medication, for example cancer medicine, are especially scarce. People die from flu, from colds, from pneumonia – even intestinal diseases that could normally be healed as a matter of routine, but there are not enough antibiotics available. Austerity – budget cuts. Thanks to the brothers from Europe – and again their masters form overseas.

Greece has absolutely no control over her budget anymore. She had to sign this responsibility over to Brussels for what? – another ‘rescue package’ – what else. In September 2016, the Greek Parliament had to approve hurriedly, in less than a week’s time, a 2000-page text of legislation, drafted by Brussels in English, unreadable in this short time for most of the Greek Parliamentarians, with which the Greek Parliament signed away not only all of the publicly owned enterprises and infrastructure to the “European Stability Mechanism” (ESM) for 99 years, during which period all of it may be offered to fire sale prices for privatization, or outright demolition; but, as if this was not enough, the Parliament also signed away its sovereign authority over the Greek budget to Brussels.

Can you imagine? This in the 21st Century. It has not happened since in 1933 the Bundestag, the German Parliament, signed over all decision-making power to the “Führer” – Mr. Adolf Hitler. This is outright EU imposed fascism. The world watches silently – and in full complicity – the literal dismantling of a sovereign country, with the esclavisation and impoverishment of the population that goes with it.

This, though, is not news. It’s rather well-known. It has been written about umpteen times, by umpteen journalists and writers, to greater or lesser extent criticizing the troika, the Greek government, the EC / IMF / BCE imposed austerity, as all three know very well that austerity does not work, nowhere. Never did.

So, why repeat it here, in yet another article? – Because it must be said again and again, and repeated ever so often, until the Greek governing body listens. Greece could stop this bloodletting and misery for the majority of her people almost instantly – by quitting the euro, and by quitting the European Union. She would not be left alone. Acts of Solidarity would come from Asia, Latin America and even Africa. Such offers were already made in 2014 and 2015. But they were not heeded, since the Greek elite wants to part of the EU elite, rubbing elbows, being part of this nefarious club. Many pictures, too many, have been circulating of Mr. Tsipras and his buddies laughing and cajoling with the Lagarde’s and the Junker’s of this world.

Greece could have exited the EU and Eurozone from day one – with the first rescue package in 2010. But she didn’t, for whatever reason. Maybe personal threats to the Tsipras family and Government and / or the “left-wing” Syriza party? – We don’t know, but all is possible in a western civilization where opponents of the Master hegemon in Washington and his dark handlers, are simply assassinated. John Perkins, explains clearly how this works in his bestseller “Confessions of an Economic Hitman”.

But what about integrity of the leaders, of the party, their obligation to the Greek people? Integrity and support foremost to the average Greek, not the Greek elite which way before the troika-Germany onslaught, transferred billions of their euro holdings to Switzerland and other western safe havens. The Tsipras Government’s duty to the vast majority of Greek, who have to survive from their daily work and miserable pensions, has been betrayed. For these people integrity would have called for quitting the Eurozone and the EU.

Why holding on to a European Union that only despises Greece by its non-action, by watching passively over the destruction of their brother? There are no trustworthy allies in the EU. They are all beholden to Brussels and to Washington. There are only greedy enemies. Greece has been singled out as an example for worse to come. Other mostly southern EU countries that were given the insulting name, PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain), would be treated equally, i.e. sucked into oblivion – if they would dare to resist the systematic milking by the western financial system.

This EU – euro system cannot be reformed. And since abolishment or the simple collapse which is clearly written on the wall, is being extended at all cost, including the blood and lives of the Greek population, there is only ONE WAY for Greece to safe itself – LEAVE THE EURO – LEAVE THE EU.

Greece’s debt today (January 2018) is € 320.2 billion, or 190.4% of GDP (€ 168.2 billion) – and steadily mounting – with an annual interest of € 17.6 billion, increasing at the rate of € 557 per second (€ 48.1 million per day) – See the Greek Debt Clock. So, there is no relief in sight, no matter what western pundits and the IMF are saying. All lies, as is usual in the western world. Greece will never get out of her mountain of debt, while being a member of the euro-zone and the EU.

Greece – wake up, you have the opportunity to walk out of the EU and save the lives of more than half of your population, who are at risk of famine and deadly diseases – Mr. Tsipras and Co. no matter what lengthy theories and economic projections the elite economists who want to save their billions of euros hidden in safe havens, will present to you – it is your duty, your civil obligation as an elected official, elected by the people, to honor the people’s lively interests and to exit this horrendous repressive and abusive club, called European Union.

Greece – you must regain your sovereignty.

Leaving the EU and the euro does not mean you are leaving Europe. Greece, as every pupil knows, is geographically anchored in Europe. Greece is one of the most dramatically beautiful southern European countries and will continue to be visited by millions of tourists from around the world, and naturally from Europe. Other nations will want to trade and deal with Greece and her charming, friendly and smiling people. Friendliness and beauty is one of the key trademarks of Greece. Greece will gain even more respect for standing up for herself.

It’s late – but never too late. Take back your local autonomous currency, take control of your economy through local public banking with low or no interests to stimulate yours – the Greek economy – not the German, not the European economy, but the Greek national economy. Within less than 10 years Greece would have recovered from the current depression. Others have done it, like Argentina, or even Germany, especially after WWII. You will not be left alone. Support, if needed, will be there, particularly from the East, from where the future is. Think of China’s One Belt Initiative (OBI) – which already is linked up with Greece through the Greek port of Piraeus. OBI is a multi-trillion-euro economic development program that will encompass China, Russia, Eurasia, eventually all the way to the western rim of Europe, securing jobs, scientific and cultural development, transcontinental land-and sea transport, trading and more – over the next few hundred years. The west is gone; passé. It’s greed and war-driven economy is slowly but surely committing suicide.

If Greece is not seizing this last-ditch opportunity to exit the euro and to exit the EU, to literally safe her people’s skin, one might legitimately ask, has Greece become a convenient victim, subservient to its own elite and the Brussels-Washington masters, or is she simply masochistically enjoying her misery, borne, incidentally, by 80% of her population?

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 21st Century (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. 

Doctors Underdiagnosing Flu Among Older Patients

Adults aged 65 years or older presenting at hospitals with influenza-like illness (ILI) during the winter months were less likely to have had a provider-ordered influenza diagnostic test than were younger adults, according to findings published online January 18 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Accurate diagnosis of influenza can lead to earlier antiviral treatment, minimizing individual suffering as well as limiting spread of the infection. Such tests include reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect viral RNA, rapid antigen detection, and viral culture.

Older adults have the highest rates of hospitalization and death due to influenza, yet several factors may affect presentation. These include effects of comorbidities, cognitive deficits that alter perception or reporting of symptoms, immune senescence, and age-associated lower core body temperature influencing assessment of fever. 

Lauren Hartman, MD, from the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues investigated influenza testing among 1422 adults hospitalized with acute respiratory illness or nonlocalizing

fever at four hospitals (one academic and three community facilities) in Tennessee between November 2006 and April 2012. They used a prospective, laboratory-based surveillance approach, including information from patient questionnaires and charts.

The researchers performed RT-PCR influenza testing for all patients, even if the patients’ providers had not ordered that or other tests to confirm influenza. The investigators then compared demographic and clinical characteristics of patients whose providers had ordered testing with those of patients for whom laboratory-based diagnostic tests had not been ordered.

Overall, providers requested tests for just 28% (399 of 1422) of patients. Patients whose providers ordered testing were younger than untested patients (average age, 58 ± 18 years vs 66 ± 15 years; P < .001) and were more likely to have symptoms (71% vs 49%; P < .001).

ILI symptoms, including fever, cough, and/or sore throat, decreased with increasing age: 63% for patients aged 18 to 49, 60% for those aged 50 to 64, and 48% for those aged 65 or older. For all patients, ILI and younger age were independent predictors of provider-ordered testing.

RT-PCR testing identified 136 of the 1422 (10%) patients as having influenza. Of those, 59 (43%) had not been tested by their providers.

ILI was the only significant predictor of provider-ordered testing (adjusted odds ratio, 3.43; 95% confidence interval, 1.22 – 9.70). Month of illness, sex, and race were not significant predictors.

Of participants receiving care in the academic hospital, 41% (231 of 561) had provider-ordered influenza testing compared with only 20% (168 of 861) of patients in the community setting. Of the 450 provider-ordered tests, 387 (97.0%) were antigen detection, 29 (7.3%) were viral culture, and 34 (8.5%) were RT-PCR based.

Of the patients for whom providers had ordered testing, 8% (32 of 399) had clinical laboratory-confirmed influenza. They were 2% (32 of 1422) of the total population. Patients whose providers had ordered testing were more likely to receive antiviral agents (6.8% vs 0.2%; P < .001).

The investigators conclude, “Despite being at high risk for morbidity and mortality from influenza virus infection and sequelae, hospitalized older adults were tested for influenza less often than their younger counterparts, with testing performed in a minority of patients.”

The apparent age disparity in diagnostic testing may reflect the different timetable of influenza symptoms in patients over age 65. While early symptoms may be tamer than in younger individuals, perhaps influencing decisions not to test, “older adults

may present later in illness with complications associated with influenza, leading clinicians to forego testing and treatment” of influenza and focus on the complications, the researchers hypothesize.

“Further strategies are needed to increase clinician understanding of the challenges in clinically identifying influenza in older adults, as well as the limitations of diagnostic tests, to better diagnose and treat cases of influenza in this vulnerable population,” they advise.

A limitation of the study is applicability to other healthcare settings, such as urgent care clinics.

One coauthor has received research funding from Sanofi Pasteur, MedImmune, and Gilead and has served as an advisor for VaxInnate and Sequirus. Another coauthor has received research funding from MedImmune. Dr Hartman and the other authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

J Am Geriatr Soc. Published online January 18, 2018. Abstract

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