Swine Flu: Natural Pandemic or Man-Made Pandemonium?
by Lila Rajiva
The latest in the barrage of media reports on swine flu is a Bloomberg news report (August 25, 2009) that it might hospitalize 1.8 million patients in the US and over-burden hospital intensive care units.
This comes from a planning scenario released by the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology
The Bloomberg story cites some theatrical numbers:
* Half of the US population infected (that is, over 150 million people)
* 300,000 people in hospital intensive care units
* 3090,000 people dead
* By-pass surgery emergency operations disrupted
But hidden in paragraph 5 of the Bloomberg piece is the most pertinent part:
These numbers are only "scenario projections" that were "developed from models put together for planning purposes only," says a Centers for Disease Control spokesman.
* Statistical projections.
* Projections from models of past pandemics. (And not the past, as in 1968 or 1957, but way back, as in 1918.)
* Projections developed for planning purposes only.
That's three stages removed from anything you could call reality.
But perish this tenuous link with facts, PCAST wants Obama to rush through vaccine production so that 40 million people can be infect er injected by mid-September.
And who should make that decision?
A doctor? The surgeon-general? A medical team?
Why, the homeland security adviser!
That's John Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, deputy executive director of the CIA under George Tenet, and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (CTC) from 2004 to 2005 during the exact period when the CIA became most heavily involved in torture practices in Iraq and elsewhere.
(Question: Why not Janet Napolitano, Secretary for Homeland Security?)
Item: The results of the first trials of the vaccines will be available only in mid-October...
Item: According to UK's Daily Mail, a letter was sent by the UK government to about 600 neurologists on July 29 expressing concern that the vaccine itself could cause serious complications, specifically, the deadly nerve disease Guillain-Barre syndrome. GBS was one of the side-effects when a similar swine-flu vaccine was used in the United States in 1976.
Item: More people died from vaccine-induced GBS than from the 1976 flu.
Item: The current vaccine, which is going to be given to children, hasn't been specifically tested on infants.
Question: Why the rush?
Also hidden way, way down in the Bloomberg piece is the opinion of the chief medical officer of a New Jersey university hospital. He says the PCAST estimates are "overblown."
Also hidden is the admission that normal flu season kills about 36,000 people anyway. And that the normal flu shot is taken by 100 million people.
Question: Then why all the hysteria?
The answer seems to boil down to two things:
* H1N1 targets healthier and younger (1217 years) people.
* H1N1 seems related to the Spanish flu of 1918, which, reportedly, killed 50 million people a flu that was displaced by other strains some fifty plus years ago.
(Note: What caused the deaths is not undisputed).
On the surface, at least, it looks like we've got ourselves a plague not seen around for half a century... and it goes in for kids.
Talk about intelligent design. If someone wanted a Friday-the-13th horror story to stir up panic in the population, they couldn't have done better.
Children are already the easiest part of the population to target. Mom and dad might not scare on their own behalf, but let junior sneeze and every parental gene jumps into action.
How hard is it for the government to get involved when most of a child's life is lived on government property anyway, under the eye of government employees teachers, counselors, nurses, principals, supervisors?
Still, it's a giant step from finding something suspicious to proving it's fraudulent. And that goes double when the thing you suspect is a virus. But while we should hesitate to play amateur virologist, there's no reason at all why we shouldn't question the bureaucrats behind the viruses.
Who are they and what's in it for them?
The first part is easily answered.
The President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, the creators of the swine-flu scenario, has three co-chairs:
1. John Holdren (Director, White House Office of Science & Technology)
2. Eric Lander, head of the Broad Institute (MIT)
3. Harold Varmus (CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center, NY)
A little digging fills in the details.
1. John Holdren:
Holdren isn't just any old scientist. He's a climate change expert who holds the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
(The 'Teresa' is, of course, John Kerry's wife when she was spouse of Ketchup king, John Heinz)
The support for climate change policies goes hand in hand with support for nuclear technology, which Holdren believes is needed for those policies. He also believes all nuclear energy should be under the monitoring of the International Atomic Energy.
Note: Climate change and "peaceful nukes" have been the beneficiaries of a huge PR effort over the last twenty odd years, largely stemming from the Pentagon, specifically, from Andrew Marshall, a charismatic theorist of American dominance whose Office of Net Assessments is the most influential outfit you never heard of.
This PR typically derides any dissent from climate orthodoxy and downplays the enormous costs and risks involved in the global move to nuclear energy. It also involves a lot of fear-mongering over states with "ancient rivalries" (read, India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestine) that carries a sub-text of racial anxiety. The underlying horror is masses of starving people (read, brown and black people) threatening the resource-rich (read whites).
That's also the subtext of much population alarmism, including Holdren's.
As early as 1969 Holdren teamed up with neo-Malthusian doomsdayer Paul Ehrlich to advocate population control to "fend off the misery to come." In 1977, he and Ehrlich, as well as Anne H. Ehrlich, co-authored a textbook ("Ecoscience"), in which they discussed "a wide variety of solutions to overpopulation from voluntary family planning to enforced population controls."
Ehrlich, with whom Holdren associated until as late as 2003, is known to have advocated compulsory birth control and to have been part of FAIR, deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (To be fair to Ehrlich, some people think the SPLC is something of a hate-monger itself.)
For a run-down of the most alarming comments in "Ecoscience," check this webpage.
"Ecoscience" approvingly describes a "planetary regime" that would use a "global police force" to actively control people who "contribute to social deterioration."
An example of Holdren's eco-alarmism:
In 2006 he claimed that global sea levels could rise by 13 feet by the end of the century, whereas the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 4th Assessment Report (2007) suggested a potential rise in the same period 0.61.9 feet.
2. Eric Lander:
Lander's work is also suggestive. The Broad Institute, which he heads, has for its goal the mapping of the human genome, with an eye to linking specific genetic markers to diseases in the population.
Put that next to the ongoing rush to digitalize medical information, the rapid development of an "electronic police state" in the US, and the increasing dominance of the insurance industry over all markets (recall the global fall-out when insurance giant AIG threatened to collapse), and you have to wonder whether health insurers wouldn't find genetic markers very, very useful in creating insurance policies...and whether Homeland Security couldn't find uses for that information too.
3. Harold Varmus:
The third co-chair, Harold Varmus, is a Nobel Prize winner in Physiology who's also done work in genetics. As director of the National Institute of Health, Varmus is credited with doubling its budget
More worrisome, Varmus is on the advisory board of something called the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, a group that actively opposes the influence of the religious right on science and policy. He's also on the board of "Scientists and Engineers for America" (SEA), another group which advocates for "sound science."
But though SEA is a non-profit and calls itself non-partisan, it appears to be no more than a revamp of an outfit created in 2004 to support John Kerry's election.
["Scientists and Engineers for Change" please note the word, "change."]
SEA is far from being non-ideological.
As Wesley Smith writing in The Weekly Standard (October 5, 2006) noted:
"It [SEA] further demands that the government "remove inappropriate limits on stem cell research," meaning dramatic increases in NIH grants for ESCR and public funding of human-cloning research. It urges that public policy "promote new partnerships between government-funded researchers and industry, including the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors" in other words, time to ratchet up the corporate welfare! And it seeks "an aggressive program of research and innovation incentives," to promote more efficient energy use, which would, not coincidentally, provide substantial financial benefits to an increasingly powerful science-industrial complex." ("A New Political Action Committee Enters the Fray")
Most intriguingly, SEA is affiliated with another non-profit, the SEA Action Fund, which is headed up by Michael Stebbins, a bio-weapons expert. Stebbins is also on the Obama team, as a liaison to the science and technology committee.
Bottom line: The Obama "objective science" team has at least two proven ideologues with axes to grind.
It gets more unsettling.
The week before PCAST came up with its H. G. Wells scenario, Varmus was taking part in a Brookings Institution forum on policies to advance science and technology.
The forum was attended by Robert Rubin, Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, and Rubin's protιgι, Lawrence Summers, chief Obama economic adviser, a former President of Harvard (where PCAST co-chair Holdren teaches) and a former Treasury Secretary, also under Bill Clinton,
Rubin is Mr. Wall Street, ex co-chair of kleptocrat megabank, Goldman Sachs, and ex-chairman of corrupt drug money launderer, Citigroup, a man as responsible as anyone for the deregulation of the financial industry and the consolidation of the banks that snow-balled a crisis of cheap money into a global depression, a man who never met a door he couldn't revolve through, a man who's bailed out of enough corporate-state ships to sink an armada.
Summers, for his part, defends the perfect economic logic of dumping the toxic waste of multinational corporations in Africa.
The outfit that put these power players together, the Hamilton Project, also deserves scrutiny.
HP is the brainchild of its co-chairmen, Bob the Bailer, and another revolving banker of high caliber, Roger Altman, CEO of Evercore, a boutique investment bank.
Altman has had stints at Lehman Brothers (before and after its merger with Shearson) as well as at Treasury, first as an assistant secretary and then as deputy secretary (under Clinton). He's been an adviser of both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. In fact, he resigned from Treasury after admitting he tipped off the Clintons about criminal referrals arising from an investigation into the Clintons' Whitewater investments.
In other words, Altman is not only a Wall Street insider, he's a Clinton confidante.
Also telling is the fact that Altman has headed up Mergers & Acquisitions and international outreach for the secretive and huge private-equity firm, Blackstone.
Blackstone, as Wall Street watchers know, has a strange way of sneaking into just about everything going on of any importance.
[An aside: Blackstone's CEO is Pete Peterson, commerce secretary under Reagan and also the creator of the Peterson Foundation, the Peterson Institute, and the Concord Coalition. All three outfits present themselves as disinterested policy advocates, but all three betray a focus on budgetary issues that just happens to tally wondrously with Peterson's own financial advantage].
Besides Altman's ties with Blackstone, the Hamilton Project has another link with Peterson. Along with Obama economic adviser and former Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, Rubin is a vice-chairman of Peterson's Concord Coalition, which gave him its Economic Patriotism award in 2006.
How are any of these ties relevant to swine flu?
Both Blackstone and Evercore have powerful ties to big pharma.
Blackstone entered the huge Indian drug market in 2006, buying shares in Emcure, which produces antiretroviral drugs, antiviruses and antibiotics. Besides pharmaceuticals, Blackstone is also heavily invested in hospitals, nursing homes, health insurance and health care packaging, among other things. So while drug companies don't want Americans buying cheaper generic drugs abroad, companies like Blackstone are investing in foreign drug companies and profiting.
Evercore, which Altman now heads, is a big player in the drug industry too.
In July (just one month after swine-flu was declared a pandemic) Evercore concluded its second multi-billion dollar health care deal of this year when it advised leading vaccine maker Sanofi-Aventis (SASY. PA) in its acquisition of the other 50% of Merial from joint owner, Merck. Evercore's previous multi-billion dollar deal was advising Wyeth on its acquisition by Pfizer, the biggest pharma deal of the year when it took place.
Sanofi-Aventis is described as the world's leading flu vaccine maker and is rushing to create a swine-flu vaccine that it began testing on August 6.
Industry analysts have noted that sales of swine-flu vaccine will add billions of dollars to drug company revenues in 2009 and 2010. ("Sanofi-Aventis Starts Swine Flu Shot Trials," Reuters, August 7, 2009).
Meanwhile, the Sanofi-Aventis and Pfizer deals have pushed Evercore ahead of Credit Suisse in volume of mergers & acquisitions in US rankings.
Both deals were put through by Altman and a former Credit Suisse banker who joined Evercore two years ago, after concluding some of the decade's biggest health-care deals for clients like Johnson & Johnson, Schering-Plough, Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche Holding and Teva Pharmaceutical.
("The Pharmaceuticals Banker That Helped Evercore Land a $4 Billion Mandate," Deal Journal, July 31, 2009)
Note: Roche Holdings and GlaxoSmithKline are producers respectively of Tamiflu and Relenza, two popular vaccines that retard the spread of swine-flu in the body. The two companies have ramped up their production in anticipation of the pandemic. ("The Quest for a Swine Flu Vaccine," BBC, April 29, 2009)
III. Big pharma has its fingers in the Obama administration in another way.
Billy Tauzin, the former Louisiana congressman, chief of Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), the biggest pharmaceutical trade group, has recently managed to enlist Obama's support in protecting drug prices. The White House has agreed to stymie congressional efforts to allow drugs from Canada to be imported or bargain for lower drug prices, among other concessions. In exchange, PhRMA has agreed to cut $80 billion in projected costs to taxpayers over ten years
("The White House Deal with Big Pharma Undermines Democracy," Robert Reich, Salon, August 10, 2009)
IV. And where are the insurance companies in all this? The five largest private health insurers and their trade association, lobbied Congress to the tune of over $6 million in Q1 2009 alone.
("It's Robbery," Alternet, August 24, 2009).
It's not swine-flu Americans should be worried about. It's swine-at-the-trough flu, a much more lethal condition.
1. Infiltration of the body politic by activists and unknown agents.
2. Extremism about rising temperatures, feverish statements, and predictions bordering on the delusional.
3. Monopolistic conditions requiring constant monitoring.
4. Frequent and massive collapses needing bailing out and mopping up by supervisors.
5. Ongoing influenz(a)-peddling, symptomatic lobbying, and borderline-racketeering disorder.
6. Reliance on questionable and intrusive foreign bodies.
Cases of pandemonium often tend to be stirred up by government hacks, corporate flacks, and welfare kings interacting with the media, causing acute inflammation in the population. This one is no different.
Note: One of Obama's chief flu-viators, the director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Andrew Besser, left to become a correspondent for ABC this past July.
The team that wants to vaccinate tens of millions of people, with vaccines not yet tested for safety, for a plague that even the government admits is unpredictable consists of the following:
1. An environmental and population alarmist with a forty-year track-record of making apocalyptic predictions that are flat-out wrong. A guy who's spent his whole life convinced that there are too many people, that people are destroying the universe, and that we should actively reduce the number of people on the planet.
2. Another guy who's creating genetic ID's for people prone to disease a genetic profiler whose work would be invaluable to health insurance companies and to government surveillance.
An aside: What if they come up with a gene for right-wing attitudes?
3. A third guy who doesn't like religious values in public policy and works with ideological and activist "science" groups, one of which is affiliated with bio-weapons. A lobbyist for the science-industrial complex.
4. One of the top five miscreants of the global economic collapse, a big-time Wall Street player responsible for using the government, first, to consolidate the mega-banks; then, to bail those banks out when they blundered; and finally, to eviscerate less powerful banks. An insider with ties to the insurance industry.
5. Another Wall Street and government player with a track record of consolidating big pharmaceutical companies, several of which will directly profit from the swine-flu scare. Also an insider with ties to the insurance industry.
In the scheme of things, swine-flu is no more than a one-off bonanza for the drug companies.
Far more lucrative over the long-haul is the continuing and increasing use of vaccines of all kinds, especially vaccines subsidized and pushed by the government.
Example: In January 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $487 Million contract to Novartis to make avian flu vaccine. Novartis is one of five companies (along with GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi) that are making both seasonal and swine-flu vaccines for the government.
Just as the avian flu scare ended up being a dry-run for the current round of medical hysteria, the current panic will likely be most significant as a dry-run for an expansion of the police state and for greater consolidation of the big banks, big insurance, and big pharma. In fact, that's just what Homeland Security adviser Brennan said in remarks to the very influential Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on August 6, 2009.
"Our coordinated response to the H1N1 virus across the federal government, with state and local governments, and with the private sector and the public and our extensive preparations for the coming flu season will ensure that we are better prepared for any future bio-terrorist attack."
Health care, anyone?
Turn off the TV, stay out of crowds, wash your hands often, drink plenty of water, and if you do feel sick, check out Dr. Grattan Woodson's website.
August 29, 2009
Lila Rajiva [send her mail] is the author of the ground-breaking study, The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media (MR Press, 2005), and the co-author with Bill Bonner of Mobs, Messiahs and Markets (Wiley, 2007). Visit her blog. All responses to email are posted at my blog in the comment section after the relevant article, with personal information omitted to ensure privacy.
Copyright © 2009 Lila Rajiva