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In his April 29 Global Research.ca article, F. William Engdahl discussed "Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms" and shed light on the current swine flu hysteria - hyped by the same folks who engineered the 2006 (H5N1) Avian Flu scare that had more bark than bite. But it proved hugely profitable for drug makers like Roche and Gilead Sciences, the company Donald Rumsfeld led as chairman from 1997 - 2001 and remains a major shareholder. Although he won't discuss his "private finances," he's likely benefitting handsomely from the current panic.
Earlier Avian Flu reports were like the following:
-- numerous ones from public health journalists saying governments are "thoroughly unprepared" for a pandemic flu outbreak; as a result, it could lead to potential "societal breakdown, chaos, and panic;"
-- Robert Madelin, the EU's health and consumer protection department director-general, cited scientists' predictions of a potential two - seven million death toll worldwide, then saying: "It's when and not if;"
-- the World Bank estimating that an Avian Flu (H5N1) outbreak could kill up to 70 million worldwide and cause $2 trillion in economic losses; and
-- a scary July 2006 consumeraffairs.com report citing information like the above and more, then concluding: "There have so far been no known cases of H5N1 (Avian Flu) in the US."
When all was said and done, the global tempest was no more than a teapot maximum few hundred deaths, but, according to Engdahl, a Pentagon-initiated biowarfare project threatens something far graver. In an August 2008 article titled "The Pentagon's alarming project: Avian Flu Biowar Vaccine," he cited "alarming evidence" of a cooperative pharmaceutical industry-Pentagon effort to genetically weaponize the H5N1 virus, then unleash a "selective pandemic through the process of mandatory vaccination(s) with an alleged vaccine" offered as protection.
If today's Swine Flu scare is for this purpose, indeed it is worrisome, but that remains to be seen. What's known is what Engdahl reported in his April 29 article:
that "In October 2005 the Pentagon ordered vaccination of all US military personnel worldwide against what it called Avian Flu, H5N1 (and) budgeted more than $1 billion to stockpile the drug Oseltamivir, sold under the name Tamiflu. (At the time, George Bush asked) Congress to appropriate another $2 billion for Tamiflu stocks." This drug "is no mild candy to be taken lightly. It has heavy side effects" that potentially can kill.
Nonetheless, during the current panic, its sales have skyrocketed, and that alone worries some enough to wonder what's more dangerous - the flu or the combination of the FDA approving potentially deadly drugs like Tamiflu, the dominant media hyping a non-existant threat, public health organizations terrifying people with heightened alerts, and government officials like Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano saying: "We are proceeding as if we are preparatory to a full pandemic" even though:
-- no evidence suggests one;
-- flu epidemics are extremely rare, certainly global ones with the potential to kill millions;
-- influenza (flu) is a common viral illness;
-- it exists in numerous strains;
-- most remain infectious for about a week and produce symptoms including fever, coughing, nausea and at times vomiting - annoying but rarely life-threatening; and
-- simple good health practices are more effective than dangerous drugs, including frequent hand washing, use of disinfectants and detergents, and abstaining from high-risk foods like all GMO ones as well as beef, poultry, and pork - raised under unsanitary conditions on factory farms that "are notorious breeding grounds for toxic pathogens."
That said, major unreported or underreported pandemics abound, real ones. None, however, make headlines or arouse public or media concern. Below are some.
Wars, Massacres, Genocide, and Violence
Wars indeed are reported but not their toll, human or otherwise. In the past century alone, scores of millions died and even greater numbers of survivors suffered horrendously. Currently, and in recent years alone, wars and conflicts continue globally, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Occupied Palestine, Pakistan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Kashmir, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Southern Nigeria, Colombia, and elsewhere plus the mounting "war on terrorism" toll that's totally blacked out in news reports.
Gideon Polya edits the Body Count web site, and in 2007 published a book titled: "Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950." As a biological scientist, he calls it "a carefully researched (country by country)" estimate totaling about 1.3 billion needless human deaths, including 140,000 under-five American infants in the last seven years alone according to UN demographic data. Globally 16 million avoidable deaths occur annually, including 10 million under age-five ones.
Polya states: "There is no public discussion of the actual human cost of First World policies" that are the chief cause of global carnage in all forms, including wars, other conflicts, massacres and genocide, starvation and famine, disease, as well as preventable poverty and neglect. He adds: "An apocalyptic quartet of violence, deprivation, disease and LYING (including suppressing the truth) is responsible for the continuing carnage.
Polya defines avoidable mortality as "the difference between the actual deaths in a country and the deaths expected for a peaceful, decently governed country with the same demographics." His main source was UN Population Division data for "essentially every country in the world since 1950 - (for) population, death rate, birth rate, population breakdown, (and) under-5 infant mortality rate."
As violent occupiers, offending countries include:
-- Britain responsible for 727 million deaths in dozens of countries, including Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq;
-- France responsible for 142 million deaths in many countries, including Algeria, Vietnam, Haiti, and Ivory Coast;
-- the US responsible for 82 million deaths in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere; and
-- Israel responsible for 24 million deaths in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
Polya calls the occupations of Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq (among others) genocide as defined under Article 2 of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide that states:
"In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
Post-1967, Palestine sustained 300,000 avoidable deaths. Post-1990, Iraq had about four million, up to half that number since March 2003, and since 2001, Afghanistan suffered three to seven million. These tolls mount daily, yet are virtually blacked out in news reports.
Numerous other pandemics abound as well, mostly below the radar.
Preventable Deadly Chronic Diseases
They're numerous and include heart disease, cancer, malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, HIV/AIDS, stroke, and many others, the result of major risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, poor diet, stress, lack of exercise, poverty, deprivation, and inadequate, unavailable, and/or poor quality public health.
In two October 2005 articles titled "The neglected epidemic of chronic disease" and "Preventing chronic diseases: how may lives can we save," The (UK-based) Lancet (medical journal) stated that many of them often "remain marginal to the mainstream of global action on health," yet they "represent a huge proportion of human illness" and deaths.
In 2005, around 35 million people died from heart disease, cancer, stroke, lower respiratory infections, and numerous other illnesses for lack of prevention, control, or effective effort to treat them.
Annually, over a half million women die unnecessarily in childbirth, and for every death another 20 suffer injury, infection or disease for lack of available, affordable quality care - affecting about 10 million women in total. As a result, one million children are left motherless each year and become 10 times more likely to die within two years of their mothers' death. The great majority of maternal deaths would be preventable if a working health system were available to save lives.
A 2005 World Health Report cited almost 11 million deaths among children under five from largely avoidable causes, including four million babies who don't survive their first month of life. Why aren't world governments addressing this and acting to save lives! Why don't the major media explain it!
Including all chronic diseases, a mere 2% annual death reduction "would avert 36 million deaths by 2015" or the equivalent of about "500 million years of life over the 10" year span from 2006 - 2015, mostly in low and middle income countries, and under half will be for people younger than 70 years.
By 2015, The Lancet projects around 64 million deaths categorized under three major groupings:
-- communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional;
-- chronic, non-communicable; and
In 2005, chronic diseases accounted for 72% of the global total for the older-30 aged population. The Lancet concluded that "the serious consequences of chronic diseases and their (preventable) risk factors are not recognised by the international health community," at least in terms of financial commitment or concern.
Further, although high-risk behavior (smoking, poor diet, etc.) takes its toll, low-income countries experience a larger problem, especially for the population segment without easy access to good lifestyle choices, including the availability of quality health care.
An "insidious myth" is that these conditions aren't preventable because people bring them on themselves. "The reality could hardly be more different" with numerous factors playing a part, including environmental and economic pressures that take a huge toll on human health.
Differences between high and low income countries are marked and show the successful effects of intervention. From 1970 - 2000, around 14 million heart disease deaths were averted in America alone. Overall, a relatively small number of "modifiable risks" account for more than half of all chronic disease deaths. Reducing them would have a dramatic effect through:
-- individual interventions;
-- population-based ones; and
-- macroeconomic ones with enough desire and fiscal allocations to do it.
The combination of all three are needed for chronic disease prevention and control plus one more - widespread dominant media promotion the same way it spreads fear by hyping scams like Avian and Swine Flu. The Lancet also stated:
"Our vision for the future extends beyond measuring risk behavior and counting the dead, and instead encourages all sectors of society (including the media) to contribute effective ways of reducing health risks and promoting longer, healthier lives." It's for those sectors to get on with the task instead of acting counterproductively, pursuing profits at the expense of human health, and ignoring the global pandemic of preventable illnesses and diseases.
Other global pandemics include:
-- 1.3 billion people live on less than $1 dollar a day, including over 500 million existing in "absolute poverty" according to the World Bank; another three billion survive on about $2 a day; poverty this extreme kills;
-- starvation and famine kill about 15 million children annually;
-- according to the World Health Organization (WHO), one-third of the world population is ill-fed and another one-third is starving; malnutrition affects one in twelve people, including 160 million children under age five; in America, one-sixth of the elderly population is ill-fed, and one out of eight children under 12 endures daily hunger;
-- global hunger, starvation and famine persist in spite of a plentiful world food supply;
-- five million annual smoking-related deaths occur;
-- two million annual alcohol-related deaths;
-- about one million annual suicides;
-- 400,000 annual auto and truck accident deaths;
-- 200,000 annual illicit drug-related deaths; two - three times that number die from legal drugs;
-- about 30,000 annual US gun-related deaths;
-- unknown annual tens of thousands of deaths from pollution, food and water contamination, nuclear radiation exposure, and domestic violence, especially to women, children and the elderly; and
-- according to the World Health Organization: "The world's biggest killer and the greatest cause of ill health and suffering across the globe is listed almost at the end of the International Classification of Diseases (code Z59.5) -- extreme poverty."
These are real preventable pandemics, not fake ones like Swine Flu being hyped for profit, to spread fear, and divert public attention from real problems like the above-listed ones, the deepening global economic holocaust, the systematic looting of national wealth, and the steady path America is on to becoming a militarized banana republic police state.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Center for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.