Published on 31 Jan 2019
Published on 31 Jan 2019
Liberation from this system will come about as a result of an economic collapse possibly a global one.
“Vidal explained in his book how the pillars of the US constitution have been eroded and are gone forever, until we force a violent people’s revolution, something akin to the revolts all across France today. Necessary, not least, to stop the latest idea of regime change in places like Venezuela and Iran.”
Feb 8, 2019
America has bankrupted its economy, abandoned its original ideals, its sense of decency, its core morality, that’s what it looks like anyway.
One book that predicted and encapsulated the description of what America used to be and will be was published in July 2002, it was in fact a series of essays written over 10 years. Its name ‘The Decline and Fall of the American Empire’ written by the outstandingly unique genius, the late Gore Vidal.
Vidal explained in his book how the pillars of the US constitution have been eroded and are gone forever, until we force a violent people’s revolution, something akin to the revolts all across France today. Necessary, not least, to stop the latest idea of regime change in places like Venezuela and Iran.
There has sadly been what looks like a silent coup in America – that has surrounded Trump with warmongers, bringing the NeoCons of the 1990s back!
Trump appears to have been, to a degree, marginalised somehow.
In the first part of the 21st Century, resulting and triggered by 9/11, we witnessed the destruction of the US constitution, due process of law and tragically the end of ‘fair play’ by Britain as She became a mere US satellite or as Blair was described when Prime Minister, a lap dog to American (and Israeli) interests.
Endless wars like Afghanistan. Why pray tell.
This fall of the American Republic in a worse case scenario could eventually lead to a totalitarian State.
In Gore’s opinion, “the [American] Republic ended in 1950. Since then we have had an imperial system.” What are the chief characteristics of this system?
First, the USA intervenes in an aggressive way in almost every part of the world. According to Vidal research, since 1776, the USA has waged over 100 interventions and wars in different parts of the globe. Yet the Constitution stipulates that any war must be approved by Congress, not one of these wars or conflicts has been so approved. In fact, the last time an American President sought and obtained congressional approval for a war was in 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
Vidal points out something that has been long known to academics and historians but has never been publicly admitted, namely that President Roosevelt deliberately provoked the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor. “Roosevelt wanted the USA to enter the war against Hitler, but he knew that 80 percent of Americans were against this. He knew that the only way to change this was by a major shock, and therefore set out to provoke the Japanese – who were the allies of Germany and Italy – to attack the US.
False flags have always been around one seems to be able to deduce.
Vidal then explained how President Truman got the USA involved in the Korean War (“which we lost like Vietnam”) by presenting it as a “police operation” (or ‘stopping communism’ in the case of Indo-China) that did not require the approval of Congress.
The US military aggression in Korea took place under the banner of the UN – like many many subsequent adventures.
Now we have wars called ‘humantarian interventions’ like Libya and soon could be in Venezuela.
Its important to reflect that Vidal was a most effective raconteur, who also possessed the necessary sense of humour. In his hands, wit is a deadly weapon, as sharp as a dagger. The young George W. Bush (“How I love that man!”) provides him with an endless source of anecdotes, one of which was new to me and very worth repeating. Bush’s opinion of the French: “The trouble with those guys is that they just don’t have a word for entrepreneur!”
If one is a pessimist, it wouldn’t be difficult in surmising that the US ‘Elite’, ‘the Deep State’ would seems to support a US led world akin to an ‘Empire’.
US interventions are connected with only money; mega-projects, gas and oil.
Worth mentioning is another of Vidal’s books ‘Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace’, which was published in the USA, but then, as he remarked wryly, it ‘vanished’ to all intent and purposes. Not a single American newspaper was prepared to review the book. There was no publicity and no advertisements were accepted. As a well-known public figure and broadcaster, he received seven invitations to appear on different television programmes. Five of these were soon cancelled. CNN had invited him to debate his views, but the programme was cancelled half an hour before it was due to commence. The instructions evidently came from the top level in Washington. Do the words Orwellian or totalitarianism spring to mind and of course covert censorship seems far more prevalent today than it was then.
Citizens’ rights were demolished (the knee jerk after 9/11) when they passed the US Patriot Act, a document of 300 odd pages that Vidal stated “nobody bothered to read”. Rest of Europe and Britain followed with similarly intrusive laws.
Vidal’s view was that liberation from this system will come about as a result of an economic collapse possibly a global one. He further said as far as the US is concerned “This is inevitable, on the basis of the colossal debts we have been building up. This must lead to monetary breakdown at some stage. The writing is on the wall.”
So if you want to know what will happen next and for the rest of this century, should we see it out without a nuclear Armageddon, just read Gore Vidal and also books and articles written in the 1930s and 40s by Huxley, Orwell.
You will conclude the future looks pretty bleak. Let’s hope not.
What the White House is intent on doing, it seems, is redirecting its military forces in the region away from dead-end causes for a more aggressive stance towards Iran.
Feb 9, 2019
US President Donald Trump again this week portrayed his plan to pull troops out of Syria as a “victory homecoming” and “an end to endless wars”. Then, in stepped Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to clarify what’s really going on: it’s a “tactical change” to put Iran in the crosshairs.
The purported pullout is not a return of US military from the Middle East, as Trump has been trumpeting with self-congratulations. It’s more a reconfiguration of American military power in the strategically vital region, and in particular for greater aggressive leverage on Iran.
In his State of the Union speech to Congress this week, Trump talked about giving a “warm welcome home to our brave warriors” from Syria. Supposedly it was “mission accomplished” for the US in defeating the ISIS terror group in that country.
It should be pointed out that ISIS would not have been in Syria or Iraq if it were not for criminal American military interventions, covert and overt, in those countries.
In any case, Trump was proclaiming America “victorious”, and so it was time, he said, to follow up on his order given in December for the 2,000 or so troops (illegally present) in Syria to withdraw.
The day after his nationwide address, Trump reiterated the theme of glorious homecoming at a forum of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, held in Washington DC. This was a two-day gathering of dozens of US allies who have been attacking Syrian territory in the name of fighting terrorists (terrorists that many of these same coalition members, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have been covertly sponsoring.)
“We look forward to giving our warriors a warm welcome home,” Trump again told delegates after informing them that the ISIS caliphate had been virtually destroyed by US forces and partners.
His top diplomat Mike Pompeo, however, assured the gathering that the US was still “leading the fight against terror” and that the planned troop withdrawal from Syria was only a “tactical maneuver”. He said that what Washington wanted was for more regional partners to take over military operations from the US.
When Trump first made the announcement of a troop withdrawal from Syria on December 19, there was immediate pushback from military figures in the Pentagon and politicians in Washington. Together with a proposed drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan by Trump, it was construed that the president was signaling a wholesale retreat from the region.
Since the “surprise” announcement by Trump, lawmakers within his Republican party have been doubling down to prevent any pullout from Syria or Afghanistan. This week, the US Senate voted through legislation to block any abrupt withdrawal, claiming that, contrary to Trump’s assertions, ISIS has not been defeated and still poses a national security threat.
The Pentagon has also been warning of a “resurgence” of ISIS in Syria and Iraq if US forces were to pull out. A Department of Defense document published this week quoted Pompeo. “Following the president’s announcement in December 2018 to withdraw troops from Syria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the policy objectives of defeating ISIS and deterring Iran had not changed.”
In other words, the Pentagon is busily rationalizing for entrenchment in the region, not for a retreat.
Last month, while on a nine-nation tour of the Middle East, Pompeo was at pains to emphasize to America’s Arab client regimes that Trump’s pullout from Syria was a reorganization of military forces, not an overall withdrawal. During his tour, Pompeo renewed Washington’s project to create an “Arab NATO” for the region, with the top priority being to contain Iran. According to Radio Free Europe, he said, “the United States is redoubling efforts to put pressure on Iran.”
Next week, the US has organized a conference to be held in Poland which is dedicated to intensifying international pressure on Iran. The indications are that senior European Union officials will not attend the summit as it is stoking tensions with Tehran at a time when the EU is striving to save the nuclear accord with Iran.
However, the conference in Poland testifies to ramped up efforts by Washington to isolate Iran internationally and provoke instability in the country for regime change. Since Trump walked away from the internationally-backed nuclear accord last year, his administration has been piling on the aggressive rhetoric towards Iran, in particular from his national security advisor John Bolton, as well as Pompeo.
This obsession to confront Iran would explain the real significance of Trump’s supposed pullout plans in Syria and Afghanistan. Both countries have been utter failures for US imperialism. They are a dead loss, despite the self-congratulatory nonsense spouted by Trump.
What the White House is intent on doing, it seems, is redirecting its military forces in the region away from dead-end causes for a more aggressive stance towards Iran. Pompeo’s “clarifications” about Trump’s troop withdrawal makes it clear that what is going on is not a scaling down of American military power in the region, but a reconfiguration.
Trump himself has indicated that too. In a recent interview with the CBS channel, Trump said that US forces would be reassigned from Syria to Iraq where the Pentagon has several large military bases. He explicitly said that the US forces in Iraq would be used to “keep a watch on Iran” and the wider region.
Trump’s braggadocio immediately got him into hot water with the Iraqis. Iraqi President Barham Salih fulminated that the 5,000 or so US troops in his country were there strictly for the purpose of combating terrorism, not for “watching Iran” or any other neighboring country. Other Iraqi lawmakers have been so incensed by Trump’s comments that they are calling for the presence of US forces to be terminated.
Thus, the apprehensions among the bipartisan War Party in Washington and some at the Pentagon regarding Trump’s purported troop pullout from Syria and Afghanistan are misplaced. Trump is not “ending the endless wars” that feed American imperialism and its war-machine economy.
Far from it. The Condo King is simply moving the Pentagon’s real estate around the region in order to get a better view of the planned aggression towards Iran.
Colombia is on a downward spiral of drug-fueled and political violence, yet being a US ally, it has escaped the fate of Venezuela.
By Whitney Webb
Feb 9, 2019
The dichotomy between Washington’s relationship with Venezuela and Colombia is yet another clear example that the public justifications for the U.S.’s Latin America policy are little more than window dressing for the U.S.-backed expansion of neo-fascist governments throughout Latin America.
BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA (Analysis) — Several troubling situations are currently playing out across Colombia, yet the country’s continuing downward spiral into drug-fueled and politically-motivated violence has caused little concern in Washington, offering yet another clear indication that the U.S.’ current posturing on Venezuela is hardly motivated by concerns about “democracy,” “human rights,” or the welfare of the Venezuelan people.
This, of course, can hardly be considered surprising, given that Colombia is a top U.S. ally whose government has long been closely aligned with Washington’s interests. However, although the lack of U.S. government or media attention to Colombia may effectively hide it from the American public, the country is becoming increasingly lawless, with cocaine production reaching new record levels and the government sanctioning the mass murder of the country’s largest indigenous group. Not only that but since Colombia’s new president, Iván Duque, came to power late last year, the number of indigenous social leaders who have been murdered has spiked to the highest levels in over a decade.
Ultimately, the lack of media coverage of Colombia’s humanitarian crises, which have large implications for the Americas as a whole, is a telling example of how such crises are regularly weaponized by governments and media to exclusively target governments it wishes to pressure or overthrow, while turning a blind eye to those same or worse acts when committed by an allied nation.
Though it was Barack Obama who first deemed Venezuela a “national security threat” and reinitiated draconian sanctions against the oil-rich nation, the Trump administration has greatly increased the sanctions targeting Venezuela, often citing its government’s alleged participation in illegal drug trafficking as justification for doing so. However, the U.S. has offered little in the way of concrete evidence to back up those allegations.
During this same period, moreover, the Trump administration has expressed little concern for the booming illicit drug trade in neighboring Colombia, which has broken records for cocaine production for the last two years in a row. Though the Colombian government and military have been repeatedly tied to the country’s drug trade, the Trump administration – like previous U.S. administrations – hasn’t lifted a finger.
According to UN figures released last September, Colombia’s cocaine production has again broken records, with the country producing an estimated 1,379 tons of cocaine in 2017, the latest year for which such statistics exist. That figure is a 31 percent increase in cocaine production from 2016. 2016 itself was a record-breaking year with cocaine production gaining by 50 percent over 2015 levels.
Though Trump had threatened to decertify former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ government over the rapid growth of cocaine production, he ultimately gave Colombia a pass in the U.S.’ annual determination of countries considered to be “major drug transit or major drug producing” areas “because the Colombian National Police and Armed Forces are close law enforcement and security partners of the United States in the Western Hemisphere.”
The document also described Venezuela, along with its regional ally Bolivia, as “countries that have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements” despite the fact that Bolivia had the fewest illegal coca crops of any South American country that year.
Since getting a free pass from the Trump administration, Colombia’s current president, Iván Duque, has signaled his hopes to revive a failed, U.S.-backed program to indiscriminately spray suspected coca fields with the infamous Monsanto product glyphosate to reduce cocaine production.
Though the U.S. government and Western media have traditionally placed the blame on leftist guerillas in Colombia, like the FARC, the 2016 peace deal that saw the FARC abandon the drug trade has removed this convenient scapegoat and highlighted the long-standing role of the Colombian military and prominent right-wing politicians in cocaine production.
In fact, the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) has described the Colombian military — which has been armed and trained for decades by the U.S. under the Clinton era policy known as “Plan Colombia” — as being among “the biggest heroin and cocaine trading institutions.”
The Colombian government has also been intimately involved, particularly during the presidency of Álvaro Uribe, who allegedly served as the “head of Colombia’s paramilitary groups” both before and while in office. Uribe was once ranked by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency “on a list of 104 important narco-traffickers contracted by the Colombian narcotics cartels.”
There are also indications of the U.S. government’s own involvement in the Colombian cocaine trade. For example, Colombia’s most notorious drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar, at one point worked for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, according to Escobar’s own children. Escobar allegedly sold cocaine for the CIA to help the U.S. government finance its fight against communism and left-wing governments in Latin America.
As pointed out in the book Cocaine, Death Squads and the War on Terror: U.S. Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia, the U.S.’ anti-drug efforts in Colombia were never intended to eradicate cocaine, but instead alter the market share by ensuring that allies of the U.S. in Colombia – the Colombian government, paramilitaries and the wealthy elite who are favorable to U.S. business interests – could monopolize the drug trade with no competition from outsiders. Thus, it should hardly shock anyone that the U.S. continues to turn a blind eye to the country’s booming illegal drug trade and its associated violence, even as it continues to break records year after year.
As the long-standing, U.S.-backed plan to oust the Chavista regime in Venezuela has unfolded, Maduro’s government has been called out in Western media for “starving his own people,” despite the fact that U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela are a driving factor behind the country’s economic crisis. However, since 2011, Colombia has been the site of ongoing genocide against the country’s largest indigenous group – the Wayuú – in the country’s Guajira region, after the Colombian government diverted their only source of water to support the operations of the country’s – and continent’s – largest coal mine.
The suffering of the Wayuú, who have reported the deaths of at least 14,000 children due to the lack of clean water, has gone unreported by the same outlets that routinely raise concern about lack of essential goods in Venezuela. The Wayuú, who comprise around 20 percent of Colombia’s entire indigenous population and 48 percent of the Guajira region’s total inhabitants, are now on the brink of dying out completely seven years after the Ranchería river – their community’s only freshwater source – was diverted by the government-constructed Cercado dam in order to service the water needs of the Cerrejón coal mine.
An estimated 37,000 Wayuú now suffer from severe malnutrition, as they can no longer grow crops or raise livestock without a freshwater source. Each person in the community now lives off of less than 0.7 liters (24 oz.) of water a day while the Cerrejón mine guzzles more than 2.7 million liters of water in a 24-hour period – most of which is used to improve mine “visibility” by minimizing dust pollution. Despite the clear impact of the dam and mine on the humanitarian crisis facing the Wayuú, the Colombian government and supportive Western media have blamed “climate change” and weather patterns like El Niño for the situation.
The most likely reason for the erasure of the slow genocide of the Wayuú from Western media is the fact that the Cerrejón mine is a largely a U.S.-backed operation, as the mine was originally founded by ExxonMobil and is now owned by a consortium of largely Western mining companies such as Anglo American and BHP Billiton. These same mining companies often work with right-wing paramilitary groups — who are also closely connected to the Colombian government — and who repeatedly threaten the lives of Wayuú who speak up about their people’s suffering, including their chief legal advocate, Javier Rojas Uriana.
Notably, the Colombian Wayuú have been immigrating to the Wayuú community in Venezuela in order to avoid the slow death caused by malnutrition, lack of water, and waterborne illnesses from the polluted water from the community’s remaining wells. The Venezuelan Wayuú have been largely supportive of Chavismo and have backed the Maduro-led government, referring to U.S.-backed opposition protests as violent riots “intended to create chaos.” The Huffington Post noted in 2017 that the Wayuú’s support for Maduro had largely been erased by the Western media because it “does not match up with the media’s anti-Venezuelan government narrative.”
While the fate of the Wayuú (and thus 20 percent of the country’s entire indigenous population) continues to hang in the balance, the plight of Colombia’s indigenous peoples has grown even worse since the recent inauguration of Colombian President Iván Duque.
Despite Duque’s having come to power just last August, El Tiempo recently reported that the murders of indigenous leaders in the country have spiked to levels unseen in over a decade since Duque became Colombia’s president. According to data cited by El Tiempo, 120 indigenous social leaders – as well as human-rights defenders — have been murdered in cold blood during Duque’s first 100 days in office.
Though the murder of social leaders by right-wing paramilitary groups has a standing problem in Colombia’s recent history, this level of targeted murder represents a spike over recent years — in which 226, 159, and 97 such murders occurred over the course of the entire years of 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively. Notably, the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro has been routinely accused by Western media of murdering opposition activists; yet, those same outlets have been silent on Colombia’s recent spike in activist murders.
Despite the jump, Duque’s government has expressed little concern. This is hardly surprising when one considers that Duque is the hand-picked successor and protégé of Álvaro Uribe, the former Colombian president who was once “the head of Colombia’s paramilitary groups,” according to former paramilitary group commanders of the right-wing death squad AUC, which has been funded by several prominent U.S. corporations.
Uribe, who was Colombia’s president from 2002 to 2010, and was a close ally of George W. Bush, was also personally implicated in organizing a massacre conducted by a right-wing paramilitary group; and his cousin, Colombian politician Mario Uribe, was charged with mobilizing right-wing death squads in the country to help secure Uribe’s presidential victory in 2002. Uribe’s brother was also arrested for founding a right-wing paramilitary group in 2016.
Under Uribe’s presidency, the Colombian military massacred thousands of civilians — such as in the “false positives” scanda,l where the Colombian military dressed up an estimated 5,000 civilians in guerilla clothing and killed them in cold blood, subsequently gaining a bonus from Uribe’s government for the sinister act. It should be no surprise then that, under Uribe, the murder rate of indigenous leaders and human-rights activists reached its all-time high at 1,912 murders in 2003.
Given Duque’s close relationship to Uribe, it is also little surprise that paramilitary groups have endorsed Duque following his election and have vowed to “exterminate” Duque’s opposition, calling prominent Colombian progressives “military targets.”
If Washington’s publicly stated concerns about “human rights” and the welfare of a country’s people in Venezuela were genuine, it would be equally critical of Colombia’s government, given the numerous troubling situations currently unfolding in that country. Instead, the dichotomy between Washington’s relationship with Venezuela and Colombia is yet another clear example that the public justifications for the U.S.’s Latin America policy are little more than window dressing for the U.S.-backed expansion of neo-fascist governments throughout Latin America.
Indeed, if Juan Guaidó – the self-declared, U.S.-backed “president” of Venezuela – manages to seize power in the country, the current state of affairs in Colombia is a telling harbinger of what would likely manifest should Nicolás Maduro be overthrown and replaced with the same type of government that the U.S. has either backed or installed in several Latin American countries over the last few decades, and particularly in recent years.
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and has contributed to several other independent, alternative outlets. Her work has appeared on sites such as Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire among others. She also makes guest appearances to discuss politics on radio and television. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.
The long-awaited Green New Deal was unveiled in Washington on Thursday, laying down a marker for 2020 and beyond.
If you haven’t heard of the Green New Deal, you probably live under a rock. The highly-anticipated policy proposal, spearheaded by freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Senator Ed Markey (MA), calls for a World War II-style or Apollo program (pick your historical analogy) mobilization to transition the US economy off of fossil fuels.
The Green New Deal has floated around in the past, particularly during the financial crisis over a decade ago, but was really revived as a major concept by environmental groups and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez in recent months. While any legislation cannot pass the current Congress, given Republican control over the Senate and Donald Trump in the White House, it is now very much a litmus test for aspiring Democratic candidates for president in the 2020 election.
As such, its contents are important, given that one of these candidates could occupy the White House in two years.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey finally unveiled a resolution on February 7, sketching out the framework of future legislation. The bill was necessarily done in broad strokes for several reasons. The Democrats have to wait until 2021 at the earliest before trying to pass something. Keeping everyone on board, at this stage, requires some finessing, leaving some difficult decisions for later. And, of course, detailing the nitty gritty of a complete transformation of America’s energy system will take time.
So, what’s in it? The Green New Deal legislation lays out several key principles, calling for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, the creation of millions of jobs through public investment, an overhaul of US infrastructure, clean air and water, and justice for frontline communities during this transition.
More specifically, it calls for a 10-year program of “national mobilization,” which will achieve 100 percent of US power demand from clean, renewable and zero-emissions energy sources. It calls for building energy efficient, distributed, and “smart” power grids. Existing buildings will see an overhaul while new buildings are intended to achieve “maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability,” and the like. The GND also calls for “massive growth in clean manufacturing.”
“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us, our country, our world,” Ocasio-Cortez said on NPR’s Morning Edition.
For now, the GND did not specifically call for a carbon tax, and perhaps more notably, it avoided explicitly calling for the end of fossil fuel development. Still, the goal is to dramatically slash, if not end, the consumption of oil, gas and coal for US energy use.
So far, the concept is popular. A December poll asked people if they supported a proposal to generate 100 percent of US electricity from clean sources within ten years. About 92 percent of Democrats supported the idea, but surprisingly, a very large 64 percent of Republicans also supported it.
Of course, it’s easy to support a vague aspiration and the devil will be in the details. The legislation will surely lose support, particularly from Republicans, when push comes to shove in the months and years ahead.
But for now, all of the major Democratic candidates for President have endorsed the concept. The point of laying out the framework right now in a congressional resolution, even if it goes nowhere, is to put some more meat on the bones and, crucially, to put the Democratic candidates on record.
It’s easy for the candidates to nod their heads in agreement to an abstract Green New Deal, but with strong ideas now down on paper, they have to decide whether or not to maintain their support with a clearer vision. As the candidates try to distinguish themselves in the Democratic primary, the pressure will be on them to continue to endorse the GND.
So, what does all of that mean? The upshot is that with President Trump’s poll numbers in negative territory, whichever candidate emerges from the Democratic primary will have a decent shot at winning the presidency. If that occurs, they will be on record having supported the GND, and will most likely push for some version of it in 2021.
That means that oil and gas companies, having enjoyed a deregulatory bonanza under Trump, could see rougher waters ahead. But with the climate debate getting momentum, that pressure is not going away, no matter what happens with the Green New Deal.
An incurable, mad-cow-like brain infection nicknamed “zombie deer disease” that causes deer, elk and moose to behave strangely and aggressively has spread through half the US – and some fear it may soon turn up in humans.
9 Feb, 2019
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) renders its victims uncoordinated, confused and aggressive, while also causing them to lose weight and – eventually – their lives, giving rise to the nickname “zombie deer disease.” Sick animals walk in repetitive patterns and lose all fear of humans, developing a vacant stare.
Like mad cow disease, CWD attacks the brain and spinal cord and is believed to be caused by prions, infectious proteins that travel in bodily fluids and remain contagious for years after leaving the body of their host. Also like mad cow disease, in its early days at least, some scientists have scoffed at the notion it can be transmitted to humans. Others see history repeating itself.
“It is probable that human cases of CWD associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead,” Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease and Research Prevention, warned lawmakers at the Minnesota Capitol on Thursday.
It is possible that number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events
Minnesota is currently in the throes of its worst-ever CWD outbreak. The disease is incurable, and its long latency period means symptoms can take as long as a year to show up – meaning a hunter could shoot a healthy-looking deer and take it home for dinner without knowing he was consuming infected meat. While a Canadian study demonstrated last year that macaques fed with CWD-infected meat developed the disease, leading Canadian authorities to issue a health advisory, the CDC merely “recommends” against eating infected deer, and US wildlife agencies say eating the virulent venison is a “personal choice,” according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
Also on rt.com Two-headed deer: Hunter makes disturbing kill (PHOTOS) “If Stephen King could write an infectious disease novel, he would write about prions like this,” Osterholm said, reminding Minnesota lawmakers that public health experts and beef industry executives refused for a long time to believe mad cow could infect humans as well – until researchers confirmed the presence of its human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, in people who had eaten infected meat in 1996.
CWD infection rates are sky-high among some US captive deer populations, reaching 79 percent, according to the CDC. Even in the wild, in some areas more than one in four deer are infected with the disease. The report stresses CWD incidence is “relatively low” nationwide, but pockets of high incidence in the Midwest have researchers worried, including the University of Minnesota team, who are looking to develop a rapid-testing device to be used on live and dead animals.