Healthcare is a Right!
Healthcare is a Right
Swine Flu Outbreak
The number of confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S., was 6764, as of May 25, more than any country worldwide. The states with the largest number of cases include Texas (900 cases, 3 deaths), Illinois (896), Wisconsin (766), California (553), Arizona (531, 3 deaths), Washington State (517, 1 death), New York (343, 1 death) and Massachusetts (238). Worldwide 46 countries have so far been impacted. Mexico’s population, with fewer confirmed cases than the U.S., 4174, has suffered far more deaths (80 as of May 25), an indication of the impoverishment imposed by U.S. domination and destruction of living conditions. Canada (8905, 1 death) Japan (345), Spain (133) and Britain (122) have the next highest number of confirmed cases, with most other countries having less than 20 cases.
New York State initially had one of the highest levels nationwide. After the initial outbreak, when widespread fear was fomented by the government and media, the city then said the flu had “run its course.” However, teachers in the schools knew otherwise, as large numbers of absentee levels continued. A teacher and union representative at one Queens schools brought out that city officials responded slowly to the developing outbreak in his school. He had e-mailed the Department of Education concerning the high number of students calling in sick and was told the virus was being monitored. He was told the flu was “not that serious any more.” When the absentee level spiked to 50, he then took his concerns to the union who organized to meet with city officials. The school was one of three in Queens closed May 14.
Two other public schools in Queens were also closed that day because of flu outbreaks. An assistant principal, 55-year-old Mitchell Wiener, was hospitalized in serious condition and four students at that school also had confirmed cases. The school was closed. The principal unfortunately died May 17 of swine flu. At another school, 241 students were absent May 14 while 29 students reported to the school nurse with flu-like symptoms. That school also was closed. While these schools reopened on Friday, May 22, more than a dozen other New York City schools have closed since due to the continuing outbreak and will not reopen until May 26 or later. Hospital emergency rooms continue to have high levels of people sick with flu-like symptoms waiting for treatment. It remains unclear how many of the cases involve swine flu, how many a more common flu strain, and what measures the city will take as cases continue to prevent more and treat those in need.
New York’s Mayor Bloomberg admitted that the city had stopped testing many of the students with symptoms, as “symptoms are so minor.” He also admitted that the city had thought the outbreak over. Mr. Wiener’s death, the only one in the state so far, occurred after testing ended.
Concern remains high for the health and well being of all, here and worldwide, especially the children. While many questions remain, what is emerging is that when the government wanted to justify having the military on alert to possibly intervene in the U.S. and Mexico, fear about the swine flu was promoted and the government threatened to take arbitrary actions, like closing hundreds of schools and quarantining whole communities. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan even complained that the president did not have more power to close schools. The government did demand that schools with confirmed cases remain closed for 14 days. Organizers for May Day actions here and in Mexico were told to cancel events. In Mexico, homes were invaded by police and public areas closed, in the name of the flu.
Now, we are told, the same flu with the same symptoms do not even require testing. But, everyone should get vaccinated. And it just so happens that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is an owner of the company that produces the vaccines and stands to make millions, again. His company also made millions with the same vaccine used for the bird-flu epidemic in 2004-05.
New Yorkers are rightly concerned about their health and that of people nationwide and worldwide. Guaranteeing the right to healthcare and providing everything necessary for this is the social responsibility of government – in emergencies and everyday. But that is not what the government put on the agenda with the swine flu. Instead, fear was promoted, and vaccines and the military given as “solutions.”
People are also concerned that, as occurred after September 11 and with the government-organized Katrina disaster, the government will use this occasion to further strengthen the power of the executive to use “emergencies” to justify military action against the people — while also trampling on rights. President Barack Obama initially put the Pentagon on alert and the Pentagon reported that it was “prepared to take over” if local authorities were “overwhelmed.” This is precisely what they did with Katrina, using the opportunity to round people up at gunpoint and forcing evacuations of tens of thousands of people into concentration camps scattered nationwide. At least half have not and likely now will not be allowed to return to New Orleans.
Remembering Katrina, and the role and failure of government to protect the population, not a few are concerned about what role the military had in creating and/or spreading the virus. The U.S. military has a long history of using viruses and medical experiments against the peoples, including Native Americans, African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Vietnamese, Koreans, Cubans, and more.
The military also has a history of using and creating “emergencies” to justify interference in other countries. Is it coincidence that the swine flu was promoted right around May Day and on the heels of broad resistance in Europe and Latin America to U.S. imperialism, including in Mexico? That it occurred right when the U.S. is striving to intervene in Mexico, first using the “drug war” and now swine flu?
The sovereignty of Mexico and all other countries must be upheld and every effort by the U.S. to interfere in Mexico and annex her must be opposed.
Use of military force against the peoples, at home and abroad, has no place — especially during health emergencies. Government action to uphold the right to healthcare for all, every day, and to immediately provide all that is needed for upholding this right during health emergencies, is what is required. Health emergencies are a time to lend a hand, not bring in the military. And if the U.S. wants to assist Mexico, let the government provide funds for free healthcare and get its monopolies, such as Smithfield Farms, suspected of being the source for the outbreak, out of Mexico.
The Influenza Epidemic and
On April 13, the first case of H1N1 swine flu was officially registered with an epidemic alert being declared on April 16. It took until the 22nd for Canadian laboratories to confirm the genetic components of this dangerous swine virus and the night of Thursday the 23rd before the first preventive measures were taken. Mexico has world-renowned health experts yet it has to send its samples to Canada to decode the strain’s genome causing a whole week to be lost.
The fact is the analysis had to be performed outside the country. The neoliberal governments have abandoned the policy of self-sufficiency. Neoliberal policies have neglected the medical infrastructure and the national production of medicines as well as medical and biomedical investigation at the same time as they have caused the deterioration of the living conditions for the population.
It was already weeks ago, March 18 according to the World Health Organization, that cases of swine flu began being reported. The epidemic had to reach hundreds of cases and tens of deaths before the authorities began to react and alert the population. It should also be noted that it is in Mexico where the deaths are being reported while in other countries people who are infected are recovering. Why is this?
Since April 5th the villagers of the Perote area of Veracruz have been denouncing the contamination of the La Gloria water treatment ponds through the dumping of pig fecal waste attracting huge clouds of flies. According to the state authorities and the IMSS (Mexican Social Security Institute), the epidemiological agent would be the clouds of flies coming from the pig farms and the water treatment ponds where Granjas-Carrol, the U.S. transnational Smithfield, operates. This company was condemned and expelled from North Carolina and Virginia years ago because of the environmental contamination it caused. In La Gloria the epidemic has cost the lives of more than 20 people given the environmental, health and nutritional conditions of the villagers.
The antiviral drug that is being used to combat the epidemic is Oseltamivir, better known by its trade name Tamiflu, produced by Roche. The price of Tamiflu increased from around 40 Euros in 1999 (the year Roche put it on the market) to 377 Euros in 2005. Oddly enough, the Roche company Sanofi-Aventis announced an investment of 100 million Euros in a new installation in Mexico at a ceremony attended by President Felipe Calderon and Nicolas Sarkozy [President of France] on an official visit to our country [in early March 2009].
The new vaccine plant will be built in Ocoyoacac, where Sanofi-Aventis already operates another installation. The plant “will be designed to change over to the manufacture of a pandemic vaccine if a flu pandemic is declared and strain of influenza is identified by the World Health Organization.”
Why does the Federal Government not develop the generic medicine instead of buying the vaccine from Roche? The empirical formula C16H28N2O4 (ethyl (3R,4R,5S)-4-acetamido-5-amino-3-pentan-3-yloxycyclohexene-1-carboxylate) can be produced in Mexico in the name of national interest rather than giving hundreds of millions from our tax money to the transnationals.
The origin of this new virus is still not known and there are various hypotheses, from it being part of a bacteriological war against Mexico, or that the pharmaceutical companies in crisis introduced it in order to sell millions of vaccines, or that it was caused by the contamination that the transnationals are causing to the environment with their indiscriminate use of chemical products, or even that it is a new challenge from natural causes. What is certain is that, in the face of this serious problem, the Government and the media have used the opportunity to present an image of themselves as “promoters of health” rather than the “promoters of the war against narcotrafficking” that they have been presenting, drawing on the fact that elections will be held in two months.
Furthermore, Calderon has launched his “Presidential Decree,” bypassing Congress, much like they do in Washington to impose a virtual State of Exception. The decree allows breaking into homes where the existence of sick people is presumed, without a search warrant from any judicial authority, in open violation of individual rights.
The current economic, social and political crisis in Mexico is deepening with this health crisis and it is being used to frighten, demobilize and control the population, increasing external interference in Mexico by the U.S. and other countries and to provide massive profits to the transnational pharmaceutical companies. Mexico’s dependence is increasing with the loans that the World Bank is offering in the midst of this crisis.
The PRI and PAN [both political parties in Mexico] governments have taken us back to the dark era of colonialism during which epidemics killed thousands and the living conditions of the people were miserable and during which genocide was committed against the population. Under neocolonialism only profit and not human life is important, as Pasta de Conchos clearly showed.
The path proposed by the working class is different. It is a life of improving the living and health conditions of the people, all-sided self-sufficient economic development in which we seek to attain not only self-sustaining industrial and agricultural production, but also self-sufficiency in health services. This grave crisis impels us to fight for the transformation of our country so that the future generations in Mexico can live free and healthy lives and not remain prisoners of the machinations and exploitation of foreign monopolies and their governments.
1. A 2006 mine disaster in which 65 miners were killed by an underground explosion. Their earlier complaints about gas leaks in the mine had been ignored.
Teixitiani is published by México -Tekizetiliztli (the Unión del Trabajo de México, in the Nahúatl language, mexteki.org).
One theory about the swine flu that is quickly gaining traction is that the flu was spread by flies swarming around the hog manure ponds at the giant Granjas Carrol hog farm in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Granjas Carrol, which is partly owned by Smithfield Foods — the world’s largest hog company — raises 950,000 hogs per year at the facility.
On these industrial-scale hog farms, pigs are jammed together so tightly that they can barely turn around. There are so many of them that they produce many tons of manure, which is just dumped into giant open ponds.
This is the Wall Street of hog farming. On both Wall Street and at giant meat production farms, the hogs feed at the public trough.
On hog farms, as with Wall Street:
• A couple of giant companies dominate the landscape
• Regulators allow the companies to run amok
• The companies go “hog wild” knowing that governments will pick up the pieces when things crash
• The profits are privatized, and the losses socialized. In the case of the hog farms, the profits from the mega-farms are pocketed by the companies, while the costs of the swine flu epidemic will be borne by the taxpayers. The hog farms dump huge amounts of manure into their local communities, which sickens not only the locals, but cause a global health problem. Similarly, the Wall Street giants crank out trillions in “toxic assets” that the nations of the world and their taxpayers are now being asked to clean up
As one blogger wrote:
Agribusiness needs to be held accountable. They are following the same rules as bankers; keep the profits and dump losses (in the form of mad cow or now swine flu) on the public. Factor in a few million dead and maybe locally produced food from small farms is not so expensive after all.
Who benefits from the H1N1 influenza virus epidemic?
Red Voltaire, Granma International
A revealing report raises questions about questions the monopoly media has avoided concerning the swine flu, as they endeavor to create terror among the population. Who benefits from this epidemic? What news is being buried? What is the Mexican emergency being used for?
A report by Fernando Velázquez speaks to an article by researcher Lori Price on Globalresearch.ca entitled “The flu does away with the torture memos.” This article indicates that the swine influenza, possibly manufactured in United States military laboratories, served to replace the news of torture memos ordered by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) against prisoners in Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and other secret prisons.
The article also states that an Indonesian biodefense researcher said last year that the United States could manufacture biological weapons in a Los Alamos laboratory, using bird flu samples sent by Indonesia to the World Health Organization. Details on the subject appear in the book, It's time to change the world: Divine Hands Behind the Avian Influenza, written by the Indonesian Health Minister.
Lori Price says the current hysteria caused by the pig virus could mean great profits for Donald Rumsfeld. The former Secretary of Defense for George W. Bush has been a Gilead Sciences director for 20 years. This California-based laboratory manufactures and has the rights to Tamiflu, the alleged remedy against the influenza that terrorizes the world. Rumsfeld is still a Gilead shareholder. When the bird flu pandemic occurred in 2004-05, Tamiflu was promoted as the drug of choice and Gilead shares rose. Newspaper reports confirmed Rumsfeld was benefiting financially from this pandemic. Now, in 2009, Roche and Gilead are once more prepared to sell millions of doses of Tamiflu, which supposedly can cure influenza H1N1, even though the Mexican government recently reported that no vaccine is effective. Rumsfeld is again benefiting.
Fernando Velázquez also interviewed journalist Ralph Schoenman, producer of Taking Aim, a radio program broadcast by WBAI in New York. Schoenman affirms that military laboratories throughout the U.S. have been perfecting biological weapons with the pig, the avian, the Asian viruses and other diseases for which there is no cure.
"At level four and five laboratories in the country the most virulent diseases have been altered so that there is no defense against them, and they have been dropped in different parts of the world. They have been dispersed in Africa, and monitored by the U.S. military," says Schoenman.
Velázquez also mentions Clouds of Secrecy in his report. This book was written by public health policy professor Leonard Cole, who documented that the Pentagon has been spreading billions of bacilli I for 40 years in the New York subway, in public schools in Minneapolis and St. Louis, and particularly in the San Francisco Bay area. In San Francisco, the effects were a 10 percent increase of spine meningitis. The number of people impacted by the I bacillus is estimated at 10 million.
Velázquez recalls the book Killing Hope, where William Blum describes that in 1971 the CIA provided Cuban exiles with a virus that causes African swine fever. Six weeks later, an outbreak of the disease forced the Cuban government to slaughter half a million pigs. Ten years later the Cuban people were attacked by a dengue fever epidemic. This disease, transmitted by mosquitoes, spread through the island making more than 300,000 people sick and killing 158, more than a hundred of which were children under 15.
Velázquez reports that documents declassified in 1956 and 1958 reveal that the U.S. military raised large amounts of mosquitoes in Florida and Georgia to see if the insects could be used as weapons to spread diseases. In 1969 more than 500 students from 36 countries graduated from epidemiological warfare courses in the Army Chemical School at Fort McClellan in Alabama. [This are in addition to the known military use of small pox against Native peoples and syphilis against African Americans — VOR.]
The pharmaceutical patent, which allows the big pharmaceutical monopolies to withhold medicines and profit from epidemics, has again allowed Roche and Gilead to receive multimillion-dollar profits. While most governments are not reconsidering their pharmaceutical patent law, the Pathology Institute of the U.S. Armed Forces obtained the complete genome of the Spanish flu virus, which uses the same strain as the avian influenza and the swine influenza. Were they the ones to cause the epidemic? We do not know.
U.S. Armed Forces Involved?
The H1N1 strain of swine influenza affecting the population today is a subtype of Influenza virus type A of the family of Orthomyxoviridae. H1N1 has mutated into various subtypes, including the Spanish flu, swine flu and avian flu. It maintains its circulation after it was reintroduced into the human population in the ‘70s last century.
In 2004 and 2005 there was a lot of controversy in the U.S. because of a study published in Science and other American scientific journals, where a group of scientists, all belonging to the Molecular Pathology Department of the U.S. Armed Forces Pathology Institute, examined and obtained the complete genome of the Spanish flu virus. Among others these scientists were Jeffery K. Taubenberger, Ann H. Reid, Raina M. Lourens, Ruixue Wang, Guozhong Jin and Thomas G. Fanning.
This controversy was based on the fact that the genome could be used with ease, after only a few modifications, to build biological weapons based on new variations of the virus. Taubenberger also compared H1N1 strains of traditional influenza with the virus of 1918. He discovered only 25 or 30 alterations in the 4,400 amino acids that make up the virus, showing that little change in the H1N1 traditional flu virus can turn it into a deadly virus.
Is the U.S. government or the military behind this new outbreak of swine flu? We do not know for sure, yet. And, how long will governments worldwide wait to seriously consider the elimination of pharmaceutical patents, and other forms of privatization of knowledge? We do not know this either.
I was listening to the Health Secretary's press conference on the swine flu epidemic a while ago and one thing grabbed my attention: the antiviral drug that is being used to combat it is Oseltamivir, better known by its trade name Tamiflu, produced by Roche (also mentioned was Zanamivir, marketed by Relenza for Glaxo Smith Kline, but it was said that this was "less" effective). Tamiflu was talked about a lot in 2005-2006 during the bird flu epidemic but since nobody during the above-mentioned press conference asked how the medication for bird flu (H5N1) would also be useful for swine flu (H1N1), I decided to search the Internet for answers to the question and found the following information I would like to share with you.
Between 2005 and 2006 governments in many parts of the world bought enormous quantities of Tamiflu, although the number of reported cases at the WHO (World Health Organization) up to 2006 were 115 (of which 79 died), and until today total 421 (257 deaths).
If we consider that until now in Mexico there have been 68 deaths (20 confirmed due to the virus), I get the impression that the number of cases of bird flu reported in 2005 deserved neither the immense publicity surrounding it nor the exaggerated purchases of Tamiflu by governments. Some examples of these purchases:
- USA: July 2005 the Pentagon bought reserves of Tamiflu worth $58 million. At that time Donald Rumsfeld, while Secretary of Defence was a majority shareholder of Gilead Sciences, owner of the Tamiflu patent. During that year the price of Gilead Sciences' shares increased from $35 to $57. and Rumsfied's slice of the company increased from from $2.5 to $15.5 million.
- Germany: June 2005 bought 150 million Euros worth of Tamiflu (12 million treatments).
- World Health Organization: August 2005, Roche "offered" the WHO 3 million treatments (30 million doses). The WHO dutifully recommended that all countries stock reserves of antiviral drugs like Tamiflu.
- Mexico: October 2005, announced that it would purchase from Roche, something more than 400 million Pesos of Tamiflu (I don't know if it represents 1 million doses or treatments). This must certainly be the million doses to which the Health Secretary referred today.
- Spain: mid 2006 bought 1,300,000 Euros worth of Tamiflu (116,000 treatments).
The price of Tamiflu increased from about 40 Euros in 1999 (the year Roche began marketing the drug) to 377 Euros in 2005.
Thanks to Tamiflu the shares of Roche increased by leaps and bounds between 2005 and 2007. Obviously they have increased considerably again today.
What is interesting about this story is that Tamiflu, unless it comes in tablets, has a shelf life of 4 years (the powder has twice that, but from what I understand, almost everybody bought tablets).
So the millions of treatments that the various countries bought in 2005, including Mexico, are at the point of expiring. Imagine that the epidemic breaks out at this point in time -- "we'd better be prepared." Will we manage with our medication or will we have to buy more from the WHO or from other countries that have huge reserves or from Roche itself?
There is no way I'm saying that the epidemic is a myth or that Tamiflu doesn't help combat it. I'm saying that public health is one of the best businesses there is. I believe that after arms and drugs, the pharmaceutical industry is where the most money changes hands. In this way, the production of medication and vaccines is much more oriented toward profit than we can imagine. Anyone familiar with the drug purchasing system of the ISSSTE (State Workers' Security and Social Services Institute), the IMSS (Mexican Social Security Institute) and the pharmaceutical multinationals, will know about the nice little "gifts" received by the doctors responsible for deciding which medicines are purchased extensively (but, of course, in the developed world this isn't called corruption). If we consider these things, we could say that, besides the official one, there are at least two other possible scenarios (all of which are well represented on the Internet):
a) that the viruses themselves have been produced by those who produce the medications or by governments. This is the position of the Canadians at Global Research who have no reason to be taken for conspiracy theorists:
b) that the real danger is not that serious. Fear itself is big business, and well-fueled, is enough to provide incentive for purchases of antiviral drugs and vaccines. This is the position of this article on bird flu (which finally disappeared, at least for the 2005 outbreak):
Fear itself is an amazing producer of illnesses and passive citizens, besides being an excellent mechanism for diverting social attention. The moral of all this is simply that WE SHOULDN'T BE AFRAID. Whatever the real danger may be, the best way to face it is, besides taking certain basic precautions, adopting a critical attitude toward official and media explanations (which are always presented out of context), fortitude, and the confidence that we, ourselves, are responsible for our own health. As for children, we can do nothing more than be attentive, because they have an amazing capacity for recovery if they are well looked after, and it seems that the most affected so far are those between 20 and 40 years old.
(Translated from the original Spanish by Teixitiani.)
If we are to believe what our trusted international media report, the world is on the brink of a global pandemic outbreak of a new deadly strain of flu, H1N1 as it has been labelled, or more popularly, Swine Flu. As the story goes, the outbreak of the deadly flu was first discovered in Mexico. According to press reports, after several days, headlines reported as many as perhaps 150 deaths in Mexico were believed caused by this virulent people-killing pig virus that has spread to humans and now is allegedly being further spread from human to human. Cases were being reported hourly from Canada to Spain and beyond. The only thing wrong with this story is that it is largely based on lies, hype and coverup of possible real causes of Mexican deaths.
One website, revealingly named Swine Flu Vaccine, reports the alarming news, "One out of every five residents of Mexico's most populous city wore masks to protect themselves against the virus as Mexico City seems to be the epicenter of the outbreak. As many as 103 deaths have been attributed to the swine flu so far with many more feared to be on the horizon. The health department of Mexico said an additional 1,614 reported cases have been documented." We are told that the H1N1 "shares genetic material from human, avian and swine influenza viruses."
Airports around the world have installed passenger temperature scans to identify anyone with above normal body temperature as possible suspect for swine flu. Travel to Mexico has collapsed. Sales of flu drugs, above all Tamiflu from Roche Inc., have exploded in days. People have stopped buying pork fearing certain death. The World Health Organization has declared "a public health emergency of international concern," defined by them as "an occurrence or imminent threat of illness or health conditions caused by bioterrorism, epidemic or pandemic disease, or highly fatal infectious agents or toxins that pose serious risk to a significant number of people."
What are the symptoms of this purported Swine Flu? That's not at all clear according to virologists and public health experts. They say Swine Flu symptoms are relatively general and nonspecific. "So many different things can cause these symptoms. It is a dilemma," says one doctor interviewed by CNN. "There is not a perfect test right now to let a doctor know that a person has the Swine Flu." It has been noted that most individuals with Swine Flu had an early onset of fever. Also it was common to see dizziness, body aches and vomiting in addition to the common sneezing, headache and other cold symptoms. These are symptoms so general as to say nothing.
The U.S. Government's Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta states on its official website, "Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people." Nonetheless they add, "CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people."
How many media that have grabbed on the headline "suspected case of Swine Flu" in recent days bother to double check with the local health authorities to ask some basic questions? For example, the number of confirmed cases of H1N1 and their location? The number of deaths confirmed to have resulted from H1N1? Dates of both? Number of suspected cases and of suspected deaths related to the Swine Flu disease?
Some Known Facts
According to Biosurveillance, itself part of Veratect, a U.S. Pentagon and Government-linked epidemic reporting center, on April 6, 2009 local health officials declared a health alert due to a respiratory disease outbreak in La Gloria, Perote Municipality, Veracruz State, Mexico.
They reported, "Sources characterized the event as a 'strange' outbreak of acute respiratory infection, which led to bronchial pneumonia in some pediatric cases. According to a local resident, symptoms included fever, severe cough, and large amounts of phlegm. Health officials recorded 400 cases that sought medical treatment in the last week in La Gloria, which has a population of 3,000; officials indicated that 60% of the town's population (approximately 1,800 cases) has been affected. No precise timeframe was provided, but sources reported that a local official had been seeking health assistance for the town since February." What they later say is "strange" is not the form of the illness but the time of year as most flu cases occur in Mexico in the period October to February.
The report went on to note, "Residents claimed that three pediatric cases, all under two years of age, died from the outbreak. However, health officials stated that there was no direct link between the pediatric deaths and the outbreak; they stated the three fatal cases were 'isolated' and 'not related' to each other."
Then, most revealingly, the aspect of the story which has been largely ignored by major media, they reported, "Residents believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to 'flu.' However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms."
Since the dawn of American "agribusiness," a project initiated with funding by the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1950s to turn farming into a pure profit maximization business, U.S. pig or hog production has been transformed into a highly efficient, mass production industrialized enterprise from birth to slaughter. Pigs are caged in what are called Factory Farms, industrial concentrations which are run with the efficiency of a Dachau or Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They are all conceived by artificial insemination and once born, are regularly injected with antibiotics, not because of illnesses which abound in the hyper-crowded growing pens, but in order to make them grow and add weight faster. Turn around time to slaughter is a profit factor of highest priority. The entire operation is vertically integrated from conception to slaughter to transport distribution to supermarket.
Granjas Carroll de Mexico (GCM) happens to be such a Factory Farm concentration facility for hogs. In 2008 they produced almost one million factory hogs, 950,000 according to their own statistics. GCM is a joint venture operation owned 50% by the world's largest pig producing industrial company, Smithfield Foods of Virginia. The pigs are grown in a tiny rural area of Mexico, a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and primarily trucked across the border to supermarkets in the USA, under the Smithfields' family of labels. Most American consumers have no idea where the meat was raised.
Now the story becomes interesting.
Manure Lagoons and Other Playing Fields
The Times of London interviewed the mother of 4-year-old Edgar Hernandez of La Gloria in Veracruz, the location of the giant Smithfield Foods hog production facility. Their local reporter notes, "Edgar Hernández plays among the dogs and goats that roam through the streets, seemingly unaware that the swine flu he contracted a few weeks ago -- the first known case -- has almost brought his country to a standstill and put the rest of the world on alert. 'I feel great,' the five-year-old boy said. 'But I had a headache and a sore throat and a fever for a while. I had to lay down in bed.'"
The reporters add, "It was confirmed on Monday [April 27 2009-w.e.] that Edgar was the first known sufferer of swine flu, a revelation that has put La Gloria and its surrounding factory pig farms and 'manure lagoons' at the centre of a global race to find how this new and deadly strain of swine flu emerged."
That's quite interesting. They speak of "La Gloria and its surrounding factory pig farms and 'manure lagoons.'" Presumably the manure lagoons around the LaGloria factory pig farm of Smithfield Foods are the waste dumping place for the feces and urine waste from at least 950,000 pigs a year that pass through the facility. The Smithfield's Mexico joint venture, Norson, states that alone they slaughter 2,300 pigs daily. That's a lot. It gives an idea of the volumes of pig waste involved in the concentration facility at La Gloria.
Significantly, according to the Times reporters, "residents of La Gloria have been complaining since March that the odour from Granjas Carroll's pig waste was causing severe respiratory infections. They held a demonstration this month at which they carried signs of pigs crossed with an X and marked with the word peligro (danger)." There have been calls to exhume the bodies of the children who died of pneumonia so that they could be tested. The state legislature of Veracruz has demanded that Smithfield's Granjas Carroll release documents about its waste-handling practices. Smithfield Foods reportedly declined to comment on the request, saying that it would "not respond to rumours."
A research compilation by Ed Harris reported, "According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to 'flu.' However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms." That would imply that the entire Swine Flu scare might have originated from the PR spin doctors of the world's largest industrial pig factory farm operation, Smithfield Foods.
The Vera Cruz-based newspaper La Marcha blames Smithfield's Granjas Carroll for the outbreak, highlighting inadequate treatment of massive quantities of animal waste from hog production.
Understandably the company is perhaps more than a bit uncomfortable with the sudden attention. The company, which supplies the McDonald's and Subway fast-food chains, was fined $12.3 million in the United States 1997 for violating the Clean Water Act. Perhaps they are in a remote tiny Mexican rural area enjoying a relatively lax regulatory climate where they need not worry about being cited for violations of any Clean Water Act.
Factory Farms as Toxic Concentrations
At the very least the driving force for giant industrial agribusiness outsourcing of facilities to third world sites such as Veracruz, Mexico has more to do with further cost reduction and lack of health and safety scrutiny than it does with improving the health and safety quality of the food end product. It has been widely documented and subject of U.S. Congressional reports that large-scale indoor animal production facilities such as that of Granjas Carroll are notorious breeding grounds for toxic pathogens.
A recent report by the U.S. Pew Foundation in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health notes, "the method of producing food animals in the United States has changed from the extensive system of small and medium-sized farms owned by a single family to a system of large, intensive operations where the animals are housed in large numbers in enclosed structures that resemble industrial buildings more than they do a traditional barn. That change has happened primarily out of view of consumers but has come at a cost to the environment and a negative impact on public health, rural communities, and the health and well-being of the animals themselves."
The Pew study notes, "The diversified, independent, family-owned farms of 40 years ago that produced a variety of crops and a few animals are disappearing as an economic entity, replaced by much larger, and often highly leveraged, farm factories. The animals that many of these farms produce are owned by the meat packing companies from the time they are born or hatched right through their arrival at the processing plant and from there to market."
The study emphasizes that application of "untreated animal waste on cropland can contribute to excessive nutrient loading, contaminate surface waters, and stimulate bacteria and algal growth and subsequent reductions in dissolved oxygen concentrations in surface waters."
That is where the real investigation ought to begin, with the health and sanitary dangers of the industrial factory pig farms like the one at Perote in Veracruz. The media spread of panic-mongering reports of every person in the world who happens to contract "symptoms" which vaguely resemble flu or even Swine Flu and the statements to date of authorities such as WHO or CDC are far from conducive to a rational scientific investigation.
Tamiflu and Rummy
In October 2005 the Pentagon ordered vaccination of all U.S. military personnel worldwide against what it called Avian Flu, H5N1. Scare stories filled world media. Then, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced he had budgeted more than $1 billion to stockpile the drug Oseltamivir, sold under the name Tamiflu. President Bush called on Congress to appropriate another $2 billion for Tamiflu stocks.
What Rumsfeld neglected to report at the time was a colossal conflict of interest. Prior to coming to Washington in January 2001, Rumsfeld had been chairman of a California pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences. Gilead Sciences held exclusive world patent rights to Tamiflu, a drug it had developed and whose world marketing rights were sold to the Swiss pharma giant, Roche. Rumsfeld was reportedly the largest stock holder in Gilead which got 10% of every Tamiflu dose Roche sold. When it leaked out, the Pentagon issued a curt statement to the effect that Secretary Rumsfeld had decided not to sell but to retain his stock in Gilead, claiming that to sell would have indicated something to hide." That agonizing decision won him reported added millions as the Gilead share price soared more than 700% in weeks.
Tamiflu is no mild candy to be taken lightly. It has heavy side effects. It contains matter that could have potentially deadly consequences for a person's breathing and often reportedly leads to nausea, dizziness and other flu-like symptoms.
Since the outbreak of Swine Flu Panic (not Swine Flu but Swine Flu Panic) sales of Tamiflu, as well as any and every possible drug marketed as flu-related, have exploded. Wall Street firms have rushed to issue "buy" recommendations for the company. "Gimme a shot Doc, I don't care what it is ... I don't wanna die..."
Panic and fear of death was used by the Bush Administration skillfully to promote the Avian Flu fraud. With ominous echoes of the current Swine Flu scare, Avian Flu was traced back to huge chicken factory farms in Thailand and other parts of Asia whose products were shipped across the world. Instead of a serious investigation into the sanitary conditions of those chicken factory farms, the Bush Administration and WHO blamed "free-roaming chickens" on small family farms, a move that had devastating economic consequences to the farmers whose chickens were being raised in the most sanitary natural conditions. Tyson Foods of Arkansas and CG Group of Thailand reportedly smiled all the way to the bank.
Now it remains to be seen if the Obama Administration will use the scare around so-called Swine Flu to repeat the same scenario, this time with "flying pigs" instead of flying birds. Already Mexican authorities have reported that the number of deaths confirmed from so-called Swine Flu is 7, not the 150 or more bandied in the media, and that most other suspected cases were ordinary flu or influenza.
1. Health Advisory, accessed in http://www.swine-flu-vaccine.info/.
3. Centers for Disease Control, Swine Influenza and You, accessed in http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm.
4. Biosurveillance, Swine Flu in Mexico- Timeline of Events, April 24, 2009, accessed in http://biosurveillance.typepad.com/biosurveillance/2009/04/swine-flu-in-mexico-timeline-of-events.html.
5. Smithfield Foods website, accessed in http://www.smithfieldfoods.com/our_company/our_family/Norson.aspx.
6. Ruth Maclean in La Gloria and Chris Ayres in Mexico City, I had a headache and fever" says boy who survived, London Times, April 28, 2009.
9. Ed Harris, Bloggers Examine Environmental Role in Mexico Swine Flu Outbreak, April 27, 2009, accessed in http://www.planetthoughts.org/?pg=pt/Whole&qid=2870.
11. The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, accessed in http://www.ncifap.org/_images/PCIFAPFin.pdf.
14. F. William Engdahl, Is Avian Flu another Pentagon Hoax?, GlobalResearch, October 30, 2005.
* F. William Engdahl is author of Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (Global Rersearch, 2007, see below) and A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press). His new book, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (Third Millennium Press) is due out end of May. He may be contacted through his website: www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.
As the swine flu epidemic unfolded, the military was put on alert. There are now indications that the military may be involved in the manufacture and spread of more deadly flu viruses. And it is known that Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is profiting from purchases of government-recommended vaccines, Tamiflu, produced by a company where he is the largest stockholder.
In addition, in New York State, for example, government officials visited workplaces, such as those producing food, to give presentations on "health security” that spoke to the dangers of “bio-terrorism.” This involves “someone” introducing flu viruses into the food being produced. As part of these “terrorism” lectures, the officials brought out that analysis of organizatoins socially active in the cities the cities where the factories existed was being conducted to identify “potential terrorist.” The officials then named specific organizations — none of them terrorist organizations but rather organizations defending rights.
The fact that the government can and does name such organizations is among the indicators that health emergencies are being used to prepare attacks on those resisting the government’s terrorism, and that the government itself could well unleash such an epidemic to justify such action. It also indicates that the government is engaged in what the Pentagon calls “Civil Information Management in Support of Counterinsurgency Operations,” directed at U.S. organizations, as well as those in Mexico. This information is gathered in part through what the military calls "human terrain mapping.”
As a further indication that the spread of the swine flu in Mexico may not be accidental, we reprint below an article concerning Pentagon funding for “human terrain mapping” that has been underway for several years in Mexico.
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On October 23, 2006 the Lawrence Journal World or LJ World published an article that silently uncovered a funding scandal within Kansas University, in Lawrence, Kansas. In 2005, the university’s department of geography received at least $500,000 in Department of Defense funds to map communally held indigenous land in the states of San Luis Potosi, and in Oaxaca, Mexico [Mapping took place during the Oaxaca uprising of 2006.]
As a result of this original story, on November 26, 2007 elenemigocomun.net published a feature follow up story on the funding scandal titled “The Road to Hell,” which elaborates on the potential dangers of this type of militarily funded mapping project. Since the publication of this 2007 article, myself and a growing number of community members and students from both sides of the U.S. Mexico border, have engaged in several extensive investigations into the details of this particular research project. Our growing concern has revolved around, serious U.S. Army violations of Mexican sovereignty, and of indigenous autonomy and academic ethics violations due to improper transparency with communities about the research funding. Our collective research over the last year has resulted in several key pieces of irrefutable evidence, demonstrating serious violations of Mexican sovereignty and indigenous autonomy and academic ethics violations.
Kansas University Geography professors, Peter Herlihy and Jerome Dobson received the funding for their mapping project, named the Bowman Expeditions, from the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) located at the Fort Leavenworth U.S. Army base in Leavenworth, Kansas. The Mexican incarnation of the project is named “Mexico Indigena.” Mapping began in 2005 in an indigenous region known as “La Husteca,” which is partially located in the state of San Luis Potosi, and then moved their operation to the state of Oaxaca amidst the statewide popular uprising of the APPO - Oaxacan Peoples’ Popular Assembly, in 2006.
On January 14 2009, the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) released a communique in which the organization expresses concerns of BioPiracy in the Mexico Indigena mapping project, and claims that communities were deceived, having no idea that a primary funder of the project was the FMSO. UNOSJO cites a clear lack of transparency and additional suspicions of implications related to the U.S. Army’s controversial Human Terrain Mapping System. Indeed there is very compelling evidence that the FMSO is engaging in what they themselves define as “Civil Information Management in Support of Counterinsurgency Operations.”
The Official Responses
After the initial elenemigocomun.net article was published, the Mexico Indigena team released an official response to concerns raised by the military funding. Since then the scandal has ballooned, and several Oaxacan indigenous communities and organizers are demanding answers. Why were they not told about the military funding? What will the maps be used for by the military?
And is any of this ethical at all?
In the face of these very serious international concerns, The Mexico Indigena Team, KU Geography professor Jerome Dobson, and the American Geographical Society (AGS), of which Dobson is the president, have all three released separate statements about the situation. All the statements claim transparency, ethical standards, and the best of intentions for the indigenous populations being mapped. The AGS takes it a step further and denies any involvement in the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain Mapping System.
First off, the Bowman Expeditions are aptly named after the father of American imperial geographic exploration and imposition, Isaiah Bowman. A new biography about Bowman by Neil Smith, American Empire: Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization, provides us with a closer look at a very racist and arrogant academic who used his science and the academy to advance imperial political and economic impositions around the world. Smith cites that Bowman captured several indigenous Quechua, and used them as pack animals during his explorations in Peru, which led to the “discovery” of Machu Pichu. This is just one example of many in Smith’s book about Bowman, which illustrate the geographer’s arrogant nature.
UNOSJO cites that neither they, nor the communities they represent, were ever made aware of the FMSO funding behind the Mexico Indigena mapping project. At a second UNOSJO press conference on February 19th, 2009, Aldo Gonzalez added that originally several Oaxacan communities had denied the Mexico Indigena mapping project in their territory because someone noticed a FMSO logo on some of the sample maps that were displayed to promote the project to communities. Aldo goes on to show that in UNOSJO communities, the maps that were shown to promote the project no longer had the FMSO logo, and at no point was this funding source ever mentioned to them.
On the Mexico Indigena project summary reports published in 2008, project coordinators clearly express time and time again, “We (the Mexico Indigena Team) continue to explore how best to display the complex geospatial data needed for understanding the “cultural landscape” or “human terrain” in a web-accessible, easy–to-use format.” Also on KU geography professor Peter Herlihy’s web page, it clearly states, “Our multi-scale GIS database aims at crafting the digital cultural landscape (so-called “human terrain”) of indigenous Mexico.”
Mexico Indigena team members have traveled to Colombia with FMSO agents. In Colombia, the counter insurgency and strategic military uses of this type of mapping project cannot be disguised as altruistic, or otherwise intended. No one can possibly imagine happy little mapping in Colombia by the hands of the U.S. Army. Either the Mexico Indigena team is lying or they are playing dumb, but the implications and intentions of the mapping project could not be any more self evident.
The Demarest Factor
The Bowman Expeditions received their grant from the FMSO at Fort Leavenworth. The official assigned to the Bowman expeditions is Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey B. Demarest. Demarest is the IberoAmerica researcher at the FMSO. During a 23-year military career, Dr. Demarest served in multiple assignments in Latin America and is also a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, the Defense Attaché Course, Foreign Area Officer’s Course, Defense Strategy Course, Defense Language Institute, and others. He has written numerous articles dealing with internal conflict including “The Overlap of Military and Police Responsibilities in Latin America.” Dr. Demarest’s first book, Geoproperty, considers property ownership as an issue of national security and strategy. His areas of academic interest include emerging threats and responses, new strategic alignments, military history, and international law.
The Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), is a research and analysis center under the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, Deputy Chief of Staff G-2 (Intelligence). FMSO manages and operates the Ft. Leavenworth Joint Reserve Intelligence Center (JRIC) and conducts analytical programs focused on emerging and asymmetric threats, regional military and security developments, and other issues that define evolving operational environments around the world. Asymmetric threats are defined as terrorist organizations and guerrilla insurgent army’s, while emerging threats are being defined as social phenomenon and in particular, social movements.
Six declassified essays published by Lieutenant Colonel Demarest of the FMSO are the best evidence of sinister intentions for the Bowman Expeditions. […] They directly contradict any of the primary intentions made public, or ever expressed by the Mexico Indigena team, the Bowman Expeditions, or the American Geographical Society. Demarest also published an entire text book titled: “Geoproperty: Foreign Affairs, National Security and Property Rights.” It is this text that thoroughly expresses Demarest’s attitude toward the military uses of the Bowman Expedition’s Mexico Indigena project. Another essay by the FMSO’s Major José M. Madera, United States Army Reserve titled “Civil Information Management in Support of Counterinsurgency Operations: A Case for the Use of Geospatial Information Systems in Colombia” describes with utmost specificity, the counterinsurgency and intelligence uses of open source GIS information, land data, for what the FMSO calls “Civil Information Management.”
It is important to note that the bulk of the information provided by these texts, is in reference to the use of geographic data for ongoing U.S. Military operations in Colombia. This military operation is financed by U.S. taxpayers through a funding packet known as Plan Colombia. Recently the U.S. government has voted to fund a similar operation in Mexico, known as the Merida Initiative. Communities and organizers in Mexico have dubbed the Merida Initiative, “Plan Mexico.” Both of these funding packets use the excuse of narco-terrorism, to further militarize communities.