Monthly Archives: March 2019

 
 

GERM WARFARE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP


Measles

Measles virus, (Rubeola), like its cousin German Measles, (Rubella) can cause pregnancy complications, swelling of the brain, pneumonia. Extremely contagious.

BY MARK LYNAS

AUGUST 24, 2018 (Thanks to Cornell University Alliance for Science)

new study showing that Russian-linked trolls and social media bots have been heavily promoting misinformation on vaccines shows just how far Putin’s government is prepared to go in its worldwide effort to sow mistrust and division.

The study follows rapidly on the heels of earlier reports that Russian-owned media sites had been among the most prominent proponents of anti-GMO stories and memes, again aiming to undermine scientific consensus and public trust in academic institutions.

Both anti-vaccine and anti-GMO groups appeal to prejudices against modern science and conspiracy thinking to spread fear and misinformation. Like the tobacco lobby of old, doubt itself is their product.

Anti-vaccine myths have already led to a resurgence in preventable diseases such as measles, and increased numbers of child deaths in many countries. Many anti-GMO groups and anti-vaxxers are closely linked, such as US Right to Know (USRTK), which is funded by the Organic Consumers Association – whose anti-vaccine campaign in Minnesota has been linked with renewed disease outbreaks there in immigrant communities.

Perhaps the most prominent anti-vaccination advocate in the United State is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who also advocates against GMOs. Indeed, he led the case against glyphosate (widely seen as a proxy for the war on GMOs) which led to the recent judgment against Monsanto in a California court.

The Russian government is clearly determined to spread anti-scientific memes and conspiracy theories in order to help its objective of sowing distrust of “Western” science and democratic systems. But why would Putin support these anti-science campaigns?

Russia’s strategy is utterly cynical as well as being unabashedly authoritarian. Putin knows that people are not inclined to believe his untruths – so his main aim is to undermine the whole concept of truth more broadly.

The rationale goes as follows: “No, you can’t believe me. But you can’t believe anyone – everyone lies!” The idea is to undermine trust throughout democratic societies in order to justify resurgent authoritarianism in Russia and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, this misinformation seems to go with the populist tide of the times. Populist movements of both far left and far right have been supported by Russia, and often tend to spout anti-scientific views.

Italy’s new populist, anti-immigrant government has backed away from mandatory vaccination of children, while Russia itself has made great play of being “GMO-free”and banning genetically modified crops and products throughout the country.

Populists often rage against “elites” and dismiss the idea of expertise in preference for “man on the street” common wisdom. This is fertile ground for anti-science campaigns, because scientific consensus depends on the informed views of experts.

President Trump, Vladimir Putin’s number one fan, has staked his whole approach on using notions of “fake news” and attacks on the freedom of the press in order to justify his own constant lies and distortions.

Trump has also tweeted misinformed notions about vaccines causing autism, and – along with much of the Republican party – denies the reality of human-caused climate change, on the basis of a conspiracy theory that global warming is a “hoax” invented by China.

All these memes depend on the cavalier dismissal of scientific evidence on the basis that it is the view of “intellectual elites” and therefore of no value. This wider cultural and political climate is perhaps why Russia’s efforts to sow further discord and mistrust seem to have been so successful.

So what can the pro-science community do? Speaking up and getting out on the streets is important, as the March for Science has shown. But in my view it is equally important to bear the wider context in mind: the fight against misinformation on vaccines, GMOs and climate change is part of a wider battle for truth and for democracy — battles that we cannot afford to lose.

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PRESIDENT 45’s CHILD SEPARATION POLICY EXPLAINED–BY RUSSIA


The child separation policy now in effect (2018) for those families who, for whatever reason, entered the United States illegally, has an interesting precedent.

Not exactly surprising, since President 45 seems curiously enamored with Putin’s Russia. Vladimir Putin’s path to power started on the bottom rung of the promotion track of the old Soviet KGB, renamed the FSB, but retaining most features of its predecessor as well as its first incarnation, the NKVD under first Lenin, then Stalin/Beria.

The text of official orders of the NKVD regarding children of “class enemy” prisoners, some 18 million of which either died in “concentration camps” known as Gulags, or were released eventually to miserable settlements in Mongolia and Siberia which they were forbidden to leave on penalty of death, are quoted below.

The novel and film: “Dr. Zhivago” was based on experiences of those caught up in the coils of the Soviet system, and featured a young mother losing her child when attracting the attention of the NKVD.

First, they were almost all arrested for the alleged crimes of their husbands or fathers. Communist officials saw women as just another means of punishing men, rather than as individuals with distinct identities. One of the few ways for a woman to avoid arrest alongside her husband was, perversely, to accuse him of treason before anyone else did.

Signed by the head of the NKVD on August 14, 1937, Operational Order of the Secret Police No. 00486, “About the Repression of Wives of Traitors of the Motherland and the Placement of Their Children,” stated:

Women married to husbands at the time of their arrest are to be arrested with the exception of … wives who provide information that leads to their husband’s arrest… The wives of traitors are to be imprisoned… no less than five to eight years. Children… are to be placed in orphanages of the ministry of health in other locations.

That brings us to the second horror unique to women’s persecution. Upon a mother’s arrest, the Soviet system declared her children orphans and sent them as far away as possible. After regaining freedom a woman would often never learn of their fate. In the state-run orphanages, children of traitors and class enemies faced social stigma. They were taught to feel shame and loathing for their parents.

Despite the scrubbed faces of the children pictured, probably assembled for the Soviet version of Catherine (the “Great’s”) “Potemkin Village” presentations of the starved and miserable serfs of Czarist Russia to the Empress and her retinue, mortality as the years went by approached 95% among separated children.

The cause was that apparently no resources were made available to the program, forcing the barely clad, filthy and starving children out to forage for themselves. Abuse by the barely paid staff (where there was any) was horrendous.

The situation of “Anna”, love child of Lara and Dr. Zhivago in the novel and film, in which she was discovered in adulthood as a laundry worker, would have been exceptional.

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